For The Greater Goods (sm)

Krissy

Organic Pistachios: 7 Health Benefits & Tips

We always hear about the health benefits of other organic nuts like almonds, walnuts etc…but we rarely ever hear about organic pistachios.  I have good news folks.  Organic pistachios have some awesome health benefits!   The pistachio nut are the dry fruits from trees called the Genus: Pistacia.  These trees are mostly found in the warm dry indigenous areas of Western Asia, but are also grown in the Mediterranean regions and the United States too.  In ancient times the pistachio has been revered to as a symbol of health and wellness. How awesome is that?  I’m already starting to like this nut a little more than I did before ;)

organic-pistachios

Photo Courtesy of Savannah Lewis

7 Health Benefits of Organic Pistachios

1. Rich Source of Energy

100 g of nuts contain 557 calories. In addition, they are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of antioxidants. Organic pistachios contain phytochemicals and other strong antioxidants such as carotenes, vitamin E and selenium, which help with tissue-damaging free radicals. In addition to thiamine and vitamin B6, organic pistachios contain other B vitamins that your body needs for strong metabolism and energy production.

2. Digestive Aid

Organic pistachios help with digestive problems like IBS, heartburn, high fiber organic pistachios provide you with prebiotic benefits, helping you maintain good gut flora (beneficial bacteria) in our stomach, which also boost our immune system.

3. Minerals

Organic pistachios are an excellent source of minerals.  Our body cannot make minerals so it’s important that we ingest them.  They are an awesome source of copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. 100 g of nuts provide 144% of the daily recommended levels of copper. Copper is an essential trace mineral that is required in neuro-transmission, metabolism, as well as red blood cell synthesis.

4. Reverse Hair loss

Organic pistachios contain a good amount biotin.  Many people who are experiencing hair loss also are deficient in biotin.  If this happens to be your case, try some organic pistachios for starters… it’s worth a try right?

5. Healthy Brain

Because organic pistachios have a high quantity of vitamin B6, this helps in increasing the hemoglobin count in the blood. This oxygen rich blood is then supplied to the brain making it even more active.

6. Heart Healthy

They are heart healthy. Organic pistachios improve your general health by decreasing cholesterol levels and increasing ones monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

7. Weight Management

If you like to snack on nuts, you can help control your weight by limiting your portions. The fiber content of the nuts may make them more filling, helping you to eat fewer calories later on in the day. A study published in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” in June 2010 found that participants who consumed 240 calories worth of pistachios for 12 weeks lowered their body mass indexes and triglyceride levels more than those who consumed 220 calories worth of pretzels. Also, UCLA researchers did a study of overweight adults who were able to lose the equivalent of 10–12 pounds over three months by cutting 500 calories and adding an afternoon 3-ounce in-shell pistachio snack.

Tips for How to Store Organic Pistachios

Raw, unshelled pistachios can be placed in a cool dry place for few months. However, shelled kernels should be placed inside an airtight container and kept inside the refrigerator in order to prevent them turning rancid.  Storing them in the freezer can help you keep them much longer.

I think those are some wonderful reason to start eating some organic pistachios don’t you?  Eat them as a snack, throw them in a salad.  I bet they would make a delicious nut butter if you throw some in your blender or food processor… hmm the ideas!!  If you can’t find good organic pistachios nearby, buy organic pistachios online.   Buying organic will ensure that your pistachios are pesticide and GMO free!!

Do you love organic pistachios?  What kind of recipes do you use them in?  What fun ways do you eat them?

Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffles: A Recipe for Yum

I bet you didn’t know that National Cherry Pie Day is coming up on February 20th.  Cherries are a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids which have anti-cancer benefits.  They are also rich in melatonin which can help the body’s sleep patterns.  Cherries can even slow down the body’s aging process, with the flavonoids isoqueritrin and queritrin, antioxidants that work to eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress and slow down the aging process.  Add cherries to your diet easily with organic cherry juice, organic cherry butter or organic dried cherries.

I love how there are days dedicated to sweets, but the whole pie thing just isn’t for me.  I don’t make pies…well that’s a lie I’ve made a few chicken pot pies in the past, but now that my family is mostly gluten free I just don’t do the pie thing anymore.  Do I miss it…eh sure, but I like being healthy better.

So how am I going to celebrate this awesome day?  Well I’ll tell you… instead of cherry pie, I made organic cherry chocolate truffles!   That are pretty darn yummy too.  My kids LOVE when I have to make treats for my blogs because they know they get a special treat when they come home from school…and this one is one of their favorites.   I make these kind of truffles all the time.  There are so many ways to make them, today instead of raisins I replaced them with dried organic cherries!   Getting excited yet?

Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Directions:

In a food processor or a blender add the nuts (1st 3 ingredients) and process or blend until finely ground. In this picture…I let it go too long and it started to turn in to butter…don’t be alarmed if this happens to you, it will still turn out perfectly fine…that’s just what I get for tending to my toddler ;)

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-step-1

Next throw in all the other ingredients and process or blend until well combined, it should form a nice dough and easily come off the sides of the blender or processor.

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-step-2

Now roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I got 15 tablespoon sized balls, but you can make them smaller to get 30.  After you have rolled them, you can add an extra touch and roll them in anything of your choice.  You can chop up dried organic cherries and nuts and roll them in it, or you can do just nuts.  I rolled mine in unsweetened coconut flakes and raw cacao nibs (I like the crunch of the nibs).   If you want to get really fancy you could even dunk them in melted chocolate…oh the possibilities!!!

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-step-3

Place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to harden slightly and your done!   Store these in a air tight container in fridge and they will keep for about a week.  Store in freezer for longer storage!

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-final-product

Additional Notes for Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffles:

  • Use any combination of nuts
  • Instead of Stevia, try a little raw honey or maple syrup (you might have to add a tablespoon or two more of raw cacao powder)
  • Instead of organic cherries you can use organic cranberries (that’s what I usually use) or any other dried fruits
  • Don’t like cacao powder or are allergic? Try carob instead
  • Is your dough too dry?  Don’t worry add a little splash of water until you get the right consistency.

What is your favorite organic cherry pie recipe?   I would love to know if anyone else knows of any good recipes for gluten free pie crusts? Please share in the comments!

 

Organic Dark Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate.  I cannot think of a better gift or treat than chocolate for Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter!).   Especially organic dark chocolate.  That is my personal favorite and not only because it tastes delicious, but because organic dark chocolate is loaded with tons of health benefits too!

5 Benefits of Eating Organic Dark Chocolate

organic dark chocolate

Photo by John Loo

  1. If it say’s cacao (70% or higher is the best) in the ingredients then you know you are getting the purest form of chocolate.  Cacao is a superfood which contains the highest amount in beneficial antioxidants. Those antioxidants help our body fight free radicals, free radicals cause oxidative stress in our body and speeds up the aging process.
  2. Cacao encourages production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin which soothes depression, anxiety and irritability… (no wonder!)
  3. Dark chocolate helps to lower blood pressure which lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  4. Don’t be alarmed of the high fat content of organic dark chocolate. Organic dark chocolate contains the good fats (oleic acid, which also promotes healthy heart and a good heart disease preventative).
  5. The last one I will list is why organic dark chocolate is popular for Valentine’s Day:  organic dark chocolate contains many chemical compounds that have positive effects on your mood.  Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating organic dark chocolate will make you feel happier!

There are many more benefits of organic dark chocolate and cacao, but maybe I will save that for a later post.  I want to get to the fun stuff now.  Organic dark chocolate recipes!   Here are my two favorite recipes that I make on almost a weekly basis at home.

Basic 3 Ingredient Organic Dark Chocolate:

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler melt coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. When fully melted take pan off burner and add in the cacao powder and sweetener and stir until smooth.
  3. Poor into pan lined with parchment paper, chocolate molds or even a glass plate and stick them in the fridge to harden. Once hardened remove from plate or mold and store in fridge or freezer.

Basic Organic Dark Chocolate Recipe #2

Directions: same as the above recipe

Optional Add In’s

Add the following in during the 2nd step:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite extract (Vanilla, peppermint, almond etc.)
  • Chopped organic nuts (my favorite is almonds and pecans)
  • Dried fruits like; raisins or Goji berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Fresh fruit (I’ve made ones with pomegranate seeds which turned out delicious)
  • Sprinkle a little sea salt on top before you put them in refrigerator

Some Final Notes:

  • I have made both these recipes by just using liquid stevia and also powdered stevia.  I would start small and add to your liking.
  • These recipes can be made in the microwave, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Basic recipe #2 can be stored at room temperature for about a week.  I still store mine in the refrigerator and in the freezer for longer storage.  I like my chocolate cold.
  • To make chocolate chips drop little rounds on to parchment paper

Here is an excellent list of organic dark chocolates that will be perfect for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day!

Natural Dental Health: Tips & Recipes

I have been interested in natural dental health for awhile and practicing it in my own family for over a year, and I’m natural-dental-health-homemade-toothpastehappy to say it’s been working wonders!  When I began my healthy lifestyle and took out all the chemicals in my household that meant that toothpaste had to go too!  No more fluoride toothpaste in my house!  I also started researching for a good homemade toothpaste recipe and after trying a few different ones I came up with this one, which was finally kid-approved!

Natural Dental Health: Homemade Natural Toothpaste- Fluoride Free

  • 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 6 Tablespoons Baking Soda
  • 10-20 drops of essential oils (peppermint or spearmint) or you can also use peppermint extract also.
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon of stevia (start small and add to your liking)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional)

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and store in clean glass baby jars or a small mason jar.  Dip your tooth brush in and brush away!

If you would rather not make your own here are a few good options I can recommend:

There are many variations of the above recipe, but my kids like this one the best. There are also some very wonderful tooth powder recipes if you like powder better, I would recommend this recipe.

What other stuff can you do for natural dental health?  Well there are many things you can do to help improve the health of your teeth. The most important thing that most people don’t even think of is our diet.  Most of us know that sugar is bad.  But did you know that what you eat and nourish our body with can actually heal your cavities naturally, painlessly and at no cost!  Yes, it’s true. If you want to know more pick up the book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS.  He was an amazing dentist back in the 30′s, and he traveled around the world to different countries in the search of healthy people. He found that the primitive peoples who ate their indigenous foods were in the best health and their teeth reflected their health.  Other primitive regions who were introduced to modernized foods (sugar, white flour, refined oils etc.) were not as lucky and he found dental cavities and poor health, crooked teeth etc.  It’s a very good lesson that what we eat has a direct link to our health, not just our teeth, but our whole body.   If you or your kids are dealing with cavities and don’t want to be drilled, always try the natural way first, I promise you if you are consistent with it you will have remarkable results!  Find more good tips on how to heal your cavities naturally.

4 Additional Tips & Tricks for Natural Dental Health:

  1. Oil Pulling:  Oil pulling is an excellent way to pull toxins out of the mouth and leaves your teeth feeling fresh and clean as can be.
  2. Activated Charcoal is another good way to pull out toxins from your mouth and teeth. An added bonus is that it naturally whitens teeth.  It can get a little messy though, so make sure you brush over your sink.  I would do this a couple times a week.
  3. Floss, we all know the benefits of flossing so keep at it, helps those gums stay strong!
  4. A Hydrogen Peroxide rinse.  After I bush I like to swish for a few minutes with equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. This will keep bacteria at bay and also has the added benefit of whiting teeth!

Did you find this helpful?  What tips do you have for natural dental care? 

24 Kids Lunch Ideas with Organic Foods

I don’t know about you, but making kids’ lunches everyday can get VERY repetitive and boring.  I know in my house, I kids-lunch-ideastend to always steer to the same things, which is usually a gluten free sandwich, carrots and celery, apples, soaked almonds, roasted plantains, and a very small treat.  I did this for 2 months straight.  My kids were positively bored of eating the same thing… I noticed that more food was coming back home in the lunch boxes rather than being eaten at school.  That’s when I knew I needed to start getting more creative in coming up with my kids lunch ideas. So of course that led me to one place… yep, PINTEREST!!  I wasn’t disappointed either. I got so many ideas that now I am stocked with ideas for making my kids’ lunches more fun, and I am going to share them with you!

Now my kids have a fun lunchbox called a PlanetBox.  It’s kind of bento style and made of stainless steel and comes with stainless steel containers and a nice carrying case that you can put an ice pack in and a thermos.  I just love it, and my kids are in their second school year using it.  As a mom I think it’s very important for us to gravitate towards more economical ways of packing your kids’ lunches. Before investing in the Planet box, my husband and I would buy new lunch boxes every year, and go through a TON of sandwich bags, snack bags etc.  Those things do add up, not only in our budget but in our landfills too.

Back to the lunches, I’ll break these kids lunch ideas it into sections: main, sides, and treats to make it easy.  Just remember one of the best ways to get the MOST out of your children’s food is to do your best to make it organic. This will help you feel good that their food will have fewer pesticides, no GMO’s and adequate nutrients!

Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Main Dishes

  1. Yogurt – A container of organic, high fat, low sugar yogurt, you can even add raw honey or stevia to sweeten naturally.  For sides you can pack granola, and or bars to sprinkle or dip along with pretzels, strawberries and grapes or any fruit.
  2. Bacon and Eggs – This is one of my kids’ favorite. Bacon slices, hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado.
  3. Pancakes/Waffle sandwiches – When I make my daughter gluten free pancakes in the morning I double the batch and use them for lunch too. I make the kids sandwiches out of pancakes instead of bread. They love it and you can do so much.  Blueberry pancakes make a yummy PB&J sandwich!  You can also make a yummy savory sandwich, adding bacon/sausage and eggs!
  4. “Sushi” – This is a fun one.  Take your nitrate free sliced meats, and roll up whatever you want in them (cheese, sliced veggies, cream cheese, sprouts etc) and slice them in 1 inch sections and they look like “sushi”.  Another fun one is to use organic soft shell tortillas and roll up nut butters and jelly.
  5. Salad – My daughter requests salads once in awhile.  I like to add chunked up meat or tuna for some protein and the veggies I know she will eat.  I always give her a little container of organic ranch dressing so she can add it herself.
  6. Leftovers – This is a wonderful idea, and I do this often. My kids’ favorite leftovers to take in their lunch are: meatloaf, meatballs, tacos, homemade pizzas. The sky’s the limit!
  7. Soup – If your kids have one of those soup thermoses then soup is a very nourishing lunch, especially if it’s homemade. You can also find good organic soups online if you don’t have time to make soup.
  8. Sandwiches – They come in all shapes sizes. Make them fun! Cut them in different shapes, this is especially fun for the younger ones. There are many yummy gluten free bread options too. Try using different breads: bagels, sliced, rolls, and even lettuce!
  9. Jerky – For a main dish may sound silly, but it’s another favorite of my kids. We make our Jerky homemade but there are also some good organic jerky options available online as well.

Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Sides:

  1. Fresh Fruit – apples, oranges, kiwi, pineapple slices, melons, berries, etc.
  2. Fresh Vegetables – cucumber, carrots, peppers, celery, snap peas, etc.
  3. Crackers – rice, wheat, multi grain, etc.
  4. Granola bars or you can make at home using this organic granola recipe.
  5. Nuts
  6. Dried fruits
  7. Chipspotato and corn.
  8. Pretzels

Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Treats & Beverages:

  1. Sweet treats – I only add one very small sweet treat to my kids’ lunches. I like to make these gluten free cookies, but make them half the size for my kids’ lunches. I would much rather have them get full on the “good stuff” rather than the sweets.  Here are some fun store bought options:
  2. Hugga Bear cookies
  3. Annie’s cookies
  4. Dark chocolate bars (a square or two will do)
  5. Newman’s Own Cookies
  6. Laughing Giraffe treats
  7. Beverages – My kids have a thermos and they always get spring water, and they do not complain about it.  They know the importance of drinking water.  I’m a NO JUICE momma, so I strongly suggest you buy your kids a thermos and give them good ol’ water too.  Sugar even in organic juices is hard on their little systems and they can actually be dehydrating for them. Water is best!

I could go on and on, but I think I will stop here. I hope this helps give you some new ideas about your kids’ lunches and how to make them a bit healthier and fun. Remember, mix and match, get creative, adjust what you need to fit your personal lifestyle and the sky’s the limit!   What is your kids’ favorite homemade lunch?  What are some kids lunch ideas you’ve come up with?

20 Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Awhile back I wrote about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar.  Today I’m going to give you a list of actual ways to use this wonderful stuff! Just remember the most important thing is that your apple cider vinegar is raw, organic and unfiltered and unpasteurized, this will assure you are getting the best quality. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is my go-to brand.

apple_cider_vinegar

Photo credit: WebMD

Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Clean Counters and Surfaces

Use undiluted apple cider vinegar, right from the bottle, on counter-tops and other surfaces in your kitchen. This will disinfect them and leave them smelling super fresh and apple scented.

2. All-purpose Cleaner

Add 1/2 c apple cider vinegar to 1 c of water to a 16oz spray bottle. This is great for cleaning countertops, windows and even mirrors.

3. Floor Cleaner

1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle will clean your kitchen floors. Spray on hard surfaces and wipe off with a rag or mop.

4. Produce Bath

To clean your produce of all those chemicals fill up your sink with water and pour about 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add your produce and let sit 5-10 minutes. This is clean your produce and rid them of nasty pesticides.

5. Dishwasher

Pour a little in your dishwasher. This helps remove soap scum and will make your dishwasher last longer. It also has a nice smell when you open it up. Kind of a faint apple scent.

6. Wooden Furniture

Dusting your wood furniture, all you need to do is make a 50 x 50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar and add it to a mist bottle. Any wooden furniture you polish with this mixture will look great!

7. No Chemicals Drain-O

Use an apple cider vinegar, baking soda and salt mix to clean and deodorize partially blocked drains. Mix 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and pour down the drain. Next, pour in 1/2 a cup of vinegar. The apple cider vinegar and baking soda will react with each other giving off harmless carbon dioxide gas. After 2-3 hours flush with water.

8. Fruit Fly Killer

I don’t know about you, but I dread when those pesky fruit flies make their appearance during the summertime, always hovering over the fruit in our house. Using apple cider vinegar is by far my favorite remedy (and most effective one I have tried) to get rid of them. Put half a cup of apple cider vinegar in a glass jar. Place Saran Wrap over the top of a jar and put a rubber band/tape around it to make it tight. Take a toothpick and poke several holes in the saran wrap. Place in the area you’re having the problem.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Beauty & Personal use

9. Tummy Help

Prevent and aid in healthy digestion. Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water (add a little stevia or honey to taste) and drink 15-30 minutes before meals.  You can also do this after eating if you forgot to take it before ;)

10. Bye-Bye Bad Breath

Due to its wonderful acidic properties, apple cider vinegar makes a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis. Simply add 1/2 tablespoon of ACV into a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.

11. Yeast Be-Gone

Apple cider vinegar is a very effective in treating yeast infections. Add 1 and a half cups of ACV into a bathtub filled with warm water, and then soak in it for about 20 minutes. This should be done once a day for the first 3 days of the infection.

12. Freshen Mouth

Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the mornings. The vinegar helps remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush as usual after you gargle.

13. Shampoo/De-tangler

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse for your hair after shampooing, helps to detangle and will boost your hair’s body and shine. Fill an old bottle with 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing several times a week for better results.  I also put 1 tablespoon of ACV into a small spray bottle of water to use as a natural detangled.

14. Soothes Sunburns

Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath, and soak for 10 minutes to eliminate discomfort from sunburn. You can also apply directly to lightly sunburned skin using a cotton ball using part ACV part water.

15. Toner

For a natural skin toner which helps acne and firming up the skin. Mix equal parts of ACV and water and store in the refrigerator. After shower use a cotton ball and apply like you would any facial toner.   Don’t be alarmed that vinegar smell disappears quickly… If you want you can add a few drops of essential oil to the toner to give it a better smell.  Just stay away from citrus oils on the skin.

16. Relaxing Bath

Have sore or aching muscles?  Soothe in a relaxing bath by mixing 1-2 cups of ACV in your bathwater.  Add some peppermint or lavender oil for a nice pleasant scent. I like to take a bath after snowboarding or playing softball. Really helps soothes the muscles and very relaxing too!

Apple Cider Vinegar and a Healthier You

17. Combat Sore Throat

Feel a sore throat coming on. Gargle apple cider vinegar right when you feel that little tickle sneaking up.  I would do this 3x a day until symptoms disappear.

18. No More Warts

Apple cider vinegar is also a natural way to remove warts. For warts, soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, then fasten the cotton ball over the wart with a Band-Aid overnight. The skin may swell some as it reacts with the solution. However, the wart will fall off. Once it falls off, the treatment should be continued for a few more days, to make sure the wart doesn’t return.

19. Weight loss

Helps aid in weight loss. Apple Cider Vinegar helps to break down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them. For this reason, many diets include ACV in the regimen. For daily weight management, add about 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water. This concoction can be sipped throughout the day. My husband lost around 10 pounds in a 6 month period by adding this to his daily routine. He started out with 1 tsp and worked himself up to 2 tsp.

20. Lower Blood Pressure

Some studies suggest that the acetic acid in Apple Cider Vinegar may help lower blood pressure. ACV may help increase production of the blood vessel relaxing compound nitric oxide. It may also help inhibit enzymes that cause the blood vessels to constrict. For blood pressure lowering effects, take 2-6 TBSP a day in water is the usual recommendation.

* Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted when using internally or topically to the skin (especially with individuals and children with sensitive skin).

How do you incorporate apple cider vinegar into your daily routine?  Please share any of your favorite ACV uses!

3 Healthy Dessert Recipes You Can Make At Home

Yes! You CAN have dessert!!  Despite whichever weight loss or healthy living resolutions you’ve made for yourself this New Years, you should never feel as though you’re depriving yourself. Sometimes that feeling alone can lead to unwanted binge eating or giving up on a healthy diet altogether.  It’s time to get out of that mind set and realize that it is OKAY to have a little dessert, especially if it’s healthy dessert! A healthy dessert is not going to make you feel depressed after eating it, or make your kids bounce off the wall.  Been there, done that.  It’s time to start avoiding the cookie and candy aisles, and take making healthy desserts into your own hands.  When you make your own healthy desserts you know exactly what ingredients are in them.  And knowing what’s in your desserts is such a better feeling than eating highly processed sweets like high fructose corn syrups, enriched flours and trans fats!

The healthy desserts I am going to list for you are some that I have come up with on my own and some recipes that I love from various websites.  All of which I or my family has personally loved.  I also like to keep sugar out of my house. I mostly use Stevia, Raw local honey and Maple syrup, as sweeteners in our home.

You can modify all of these healthy dessert recipes to meet you and your family’s needs.  We are gluten free in my home so I always swap my recipes with an organic gluten free flour, so please feel free to change things up and make it your own!

Healthy Dessert Recipes

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

healthy-desserts-quinoa-cookies

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients except the last two with mixer until blended then stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Drop by tbsp. on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake 20 min. Cool completely before storing!

When I made them they tasted like macaroons and my kids loved them for breakfast!

2 Ingredient Ice-cream

healthy-desserts-2-ingredients-ice-cream

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium frozen bananas (peeled, break into chunks)
  • 1/4 cup of nut butter

Take your frozen bananas and throw them in your Vitamix, blender or food processor.  Scoop in the nut butter of your choice, I’ve used peanut butter and almond butter and they both tasted great!   If you have a Vita-Mix, it takes less than a minute to make, just remember to press the mixture down with your tamper.  And that’s all it takes!   My kids beg me for this “ice-cream” and I just love it.  Sometimes I throw in some cacao powder for a chocolate version.

Double Chocolate “Cupcakes”

healthy-desserts-double-chocolate-cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used homemade coconut milk for this recipe)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (ghee is also wonderful with these)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (I used 2 tablespoons raw honey and 1/4 tsp stevia)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients, mix well. Add in a few dark chocolate chips or carbo chips if desired. Pour into a greased cupcake pan (or use liners) and fill 2/3′s full (will make about 7 regular cupcakes) then in the oven at 350 for around 20 minutes. Top with frosting for cupcakes or my kids had them with coconut oil and almond butter for breakfast.

My favorite healthy dessert recipe links:

  1. Chocolate Covered Katie – I just adore her site. I have made countless recipes from her and they all have been wonderful.  The recipes are vegan, but you can make them fit your needs.  Trust me you will LOVE them!
  2. Healthy Homemade Chocolate – This is my go-to chocolate recipe. I changed mine up a bit. I use stevia as my sweetener, but my kids prefer the honey. I also use raw cacao powder for some that extra super food boost.
  3. Nourishing Traditions “Macaroons“- Have you read the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (one of my hero’s)? If you haven’t you are missing out.  This recipe is wonderful, love that I can have macaroons, without that overly sweet taste.
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice-Cream – Who ever thought of a probiotic ice cream?!  I’m all for an ice cream rich in natural whole food ingredients and one that is going to be easy on the tummy!
  5. Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes – Hands down these are my kids absolute favorite right now. They are so happy that mom found a healthy donut for them!
  6. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies – I wrote this blog a while back, but this is still a family favorite!

I hope now you feel better knowing that you can still have dessert, just with a little touch of healthy, can’t go wrong with that!   What are your favorite healthy desserts?

New Year’s Resolutions for 2014: Eating Healthy

I have never been all that good at making New Year’s resolutions and sticking with them.  In my younger years I always new-years-resolutions-2014-eating-healthyseemed to fail at them, then again when I look back at the resolutions I made when I was in my teens and 20′s, most of them were weight loss based and very unrealistic. If I didn’t see results after two weeks, I’d be done.  Now that I’m in my mid 30′s my outlook on what resolutions to make and how to keep them is much different. To this day I don’t know many people who have ever really stuck or actually completed their New Year’s resolutions.  If you have then I sincerely applaud you!  What I find works best for me is creating smaller goals throughout the year. Goals that are realistic for me, and writing them down is key (did you know that people who write down there goals are 90% more likely to stick to them? It’s true).  So get your pen and paper out and start a small list of attainable goals.

New Year’s goals and resolutions for eating healthy this year!

1. Give Your Pantry a Makeover

Go through your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator and throw out anything with the following words (these are additives, chemicals and preservatives to stay away from):

  • Partially hydrogenated (usually will be some sort of oil, all are bad trans fats)
  • Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others, found in diet sodas, and sugar free snacks
  • Food dyes, Red 3 has caused cancer in lab rats, and Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 may contain cancer-causing contaminants, I would stay away from all to be safe.
  • Watch out the word ‘enrichment’. That means niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron are added after these and other key nutrients are stripped out in the first place during the refining process.
  • Monosodium Glutamate is an additive. It is not a nutrient, vitamin or a mineral and has no health benefits.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) causes insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, weight gain and not to mention it is manufactured from genetically modified corn
  • Soy although it’s often lauded as a healthy, cholesterol-free, cheap, low-fat protein alternative to meat, soy is not a health food. Any foods that list soy in any form as an ingredient should be avoided. Like the above, most of the U.S. soy is genetically modified.

2. Drink More Water

Did you know that on average we need to be drinking half of our body weight in water each day? That means if a person weighs 150 lbs they should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day.  Don’t let that overwhelm you, start small: drink a glass or two more water then work up to it. This allows for proper hydration your body needs and helps with eliminating toxins.

3. Get that sugar out

Sugar has no nutritional value and it feeds every fungus, parasite, yeast, virus etc. in our body; it helps them grow and in turn weakens our immunity.  A good swap for sugar is Stevia.  Start small, try a little in your tea or coffee in the morning.

4. Start a Food Journal

To some this may seem like a daunting task. Try it. It works. It really helps you see what you are eating on a daily basis. Also it helps track and narrows down issues you may have with food (food sensitivities, allergies, mood swings etc). When you notice patterns you can eliminate the food you think might be the culprit and see if those symptoms disappear.

5. Buy more Organic food

The more organic and local you eat, the less pesticides, toxins you will ingest. Also eating organic is a good way to keep you away from GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).

6. Be adventurous

On your plate I mean.  Yes, this year try new foods! Eat the rainbow. If all you eat is Iceberg lettuce in your salads try a new green.  Arugula is a wonderful green that has a slightly peppery taste.  You like raisins?  Try a handful of Goji berries, they might surprise you and they are packed full of nutrients.  Eating a variety of foods ensures we meet all of our nutritional requirements, and aren’t missing any essential vitamins and minerals by eating the same things every day.  So have some fun, try a new fruit or vegetable every week.

7. Slow Down

Take your time to eat. So many of us eat on the go these days. What you need to commit to doing, at least once a day, just ONE meal, is to slow down. Take your time to eat and for heaven’s sake SIT DOWN, none of this standing up to eat business.  Also make sure to chew your food, this is so important in order to digest our food properly and it will help with many digestive disorders.

8. Eat more sustainably

I’m not saying become a farmer and live off the land (though I think I would love that!) just make a few easy changes to your usual food-shopping and eating routines. Aim for local and seasonal foods, and start shopping at your local farmers’ market. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, the food is fresher because it doesn’t have to travel as far and you’re also supporting your community’s economy.

9. Plant a Garden

The garden you plant doesn’t have to be a big one. Start small, even an herb garden in your kitchen would be wonderful. Get your kids involved. Nothing could be better than teaching your child about sustainable food.

10. Meal Plan

Meal planning is important especially when health challenges are involved.  Start planning out your meals a week or a month in advanced, this will help you to only buy and use what you need and help you to save money.

11. Move that Body

Thought I’d forget this one huh?!  It’s true a healthy lifestyle includes moving your body.  There are too many benefits of exercise to list. Just remember exercise normalizes many functions in our body, a few being: hormone and thyroid levels, helps plaque from building in our arteries, and helps stimulate the liver (which performs more than 3000 functions). Those are only some of the benefits of adding exercise to your lifestyle.  One of the greatest advantages of moving your body is how much better it makes you feel in every way!   If exercise is new to you, start with a 15 minute walk 3 times a week then work up to 30 minutes!!

If you’re having trouble coming up with your own New Year’s goals or resolutions then please feel free to choose from the ones I’ve listed.  Pick the ones the work for you and DO YOUR BEST to reach them.  You will find that putting these healthy eating habits into practice will not only benefit your health, it will help you get to your desired weight naturally (if weight loss is a resolution or goal for you).  Remember true weight loss is something you cannot achieve with a magic pill.  True weight loss is slow, but you are more likely to stick with it and keep it off.

How to Buy Safe Canned Seafood

Like me, I’m sure you have heard at some point in your lifetime about how to buy safe canned seafood (Tuna, Salmon, how-to-buy-safe-canned-seafoodetc.)  It seems like there is always a new study coming out saying something different about whether canned seafood is safe or not. So which is it, good or bad?  Honestly, I say BOTH.  For me I really think it depends on a few things:

  1. Where was it caught?
  2. Do the cans have BPA?
  3. And what are the ingredients?

Where was the fish in the canned seafood caught?

On the canned seafood cans always look for the words “Wild Caught”, this will insure you that the fish was not farm raised and fed grains and or given dye (mostly found in canned salmon).  My advice is to stay away from commercial brands like Starkist and Chicken of the Sea, both of these brands claim to be wild-caught but they use additives in their canned seafood.

Do the cans the canned seafood comes in contain BPA?

BPA is a chemical used in the manufacturing of some vinyl can liners, including those found in some canned seafood. Researchers classify BPA as an “endocrine disruptor” because it has the ability to disrupt activities in the body’s endocrine (hormonal) system which is linked to a wide array of ailments such as ADHD and heart disease. We’ve only seen a few studies that actually measured BPA in canned seafood, and the results were mixed. Some of the studies showed contamination of the seafood with BPA, and some did not.

What are the ingredients in the canned seafood?

Safe canned seafood should only have 2-3 ingredients including: fish, water and maybe some salt. If it lists more than three ingredients then I’d be weary. If it says vegetable broth (which usually contains soybeans) or Pyrophosphate (a common food grade additive used in a variety of products from chicken nuggets to toothpaste) then I would steer clear from those.

If you look out for those few things on your can, you should be able to select safer options for canned seafood.  For me, I love a good can of tuna or salmon. I eat it at least once a week in a salad or when making salmon cakes! Remember that seafood has some very valuable fatty acids (Omega 3′s) with are essential for our body they give a good source of energy, they are the building blocks for every cell membrane in our body  and are necessary for healthy liver function, just to name a few benefits.  Now you can feel better knowing that you are doing your body a favor by eating fish…even canned seafood!

Here are some trusted canned seafood brands:

Henry & Lisa
Crown Prince
Sea Fare Pacific
Cole’s

What brand of canned seafood is your favorite and how do you like to enjoy it?  

12 Healthy Oils (fats) You Should Be Eating

Unfortunately fats/oils have gotten a bad rap over the past sixty years.   The low-fat/no-fat approach was first promotedhealthy-oils in the 1950’s by nutrition researcher Nathan Pritikin. Initially, Pritikin advocated a no-fat diet, high in un-refined carbohydrates, but after long-term research he realized  that a no-fat diet led to many physiological imbalances including fatigue, mood disorders like depression, nutrient and mineral deficiencies, weight issues and more.  Realizing that fat (fatty acids) were necessary for balanced health, Pritikin began promoting that a low-fat diet, including modest amounts of vegetable fats (from nuts and seeds), was actually more healthful than the no-fat diet approach. Hence, the low-fat diet was born and this dangerously flawed theory is still a core dietary recommendation among dieticians, clinical nutritionists, and doctors.

So throw that myth out the door, that fat makes you fat and is unhealthy for you!  The fact is that the human body NEEDS fat.  Why you ask?  Here are some excellent reasons:

How fats/oils of all kinds benefit our body:

  • Fats and oils satisfy our appetites
  • Fats and oils aid in healthy hormone balance in our body
  • Fats and oils are the main fuel for the muscles which includes the heart muscle.
  • Optimal liver and gallbladder function
  • Fats and oils help to nourish every cell in our bodies
  • Fats and oils allow us to heal quickly and effectively
  • Fats and oils are better source of energy. They are a long burning fuel unlike sugars/carbs which are fast burning.
  • Fats and oils promote healthy cholesterol levels.

Now after having said all that, which fats and oils do we use?!   Well this is where you have to be careful and really read your labels. There is a difference between good fats and bad fats.   When you are looking for good fats always look for the words: Cold Pressed, UN-refined (emphasizing the UN), Expeller Pressed, Organic and Extra Virgin.  Bad (Rancid) fats will say this:  Hydrogenated, Partially Hydrogenated, refined and they might trick you and say Cold PROCESSED (instead of Cold PRESSED) see that little trick they do there!  Dirty isn’t it!    Remember it’s very important to stay away from these oils, the human body CANNOT and does NOT have the capability to digest these rancid, refined oils.   So here is a list of the GOOD oils you should be using:

Top 12 Oils and Fats to use:

Saturated Fats

Best for cooking at higher temperatures and do not turn rancid easily, ideal for baking and sautéing

1. Ghee (Clarified butter) has a 500 smoke point making it my preferred oil/fat for cooking and baking and here is how to make it yourself.

2. Coconut oil, which has a smoke of about 350 degrees and one of my favorite oils.

3. Palm Kernel Oil (made from the kernels of palm fruit, and similar to coconut oil)

4. Lard and other animal fats from healthy sources

Monounsaturated Fats

Lower heat point, good for light sautéing, simmering and stir-frying.

5. Olive Oil (unfiltered is best, should be golden yellow/green in color and cloudy.)

6. Almond Oil

7. Avocado Oil

8. Sesame Oil

Polyunsaturated Fats

Easily damaged by light, heat and turn rancid easily, not used for cooking and should always be stored in dark containers in the refrigerator.

* UNSAFE FOR ANY KIND OF HEAT EXPOSURE! DO NOT USE FOR COOKING!   Use these oils instead as a supplement form or to make in a dressing.

9. Flax Seed Oil

10. Fish Oil

11. Grapeseed oil

12. Hemp Seed oil

Having a good balance of the above fats is key! If you eat a healthy combination of these oils then you will have a good balance of Essential Fatty Acids in your body!!

Oils/Fats that are UNSAFE in any circumstances:

Canola Oil and Cottonseed Oil

Both are HIGHLY processed oil. Don’t let the canola fool you ….listen to how it’s pronounced CON-ola.   Canola is the oil of the industry, and it is the oil they are currently using in the prepared foods at Whole Foods Markets across the country.  It has no place in our digestive track.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified, pesticide- laden crops in America.  Stay away from it at all costs, if you eat Crisco…throw it out, cottonseed oil is one of the main ingredients!  So, did I stun you today?!  I hope right now that you are going through you kitchen looking for those bad oils and throwing them out!  If you stick to the list above then you will be okay!

Did this list surprise you or have you been cooking and using these healthy oils all along? 

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