Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Healthier Holiday Baking

 

What’s the holiday season without cookies, cakes, candies and other unhealthy treats!  Baking holiday goodies is part of the tradition, and a perfect family activity. While I totally believe in a little splurging, there are healthy baking substitutes where no one will know the difference.  I’ll skip the tip about substituting black beans and dates in place of chocolate when making brownies!  (However, if it sounds appealing, email me and I’ll send you the recipe – my husband loves them!)

 

Supermoist banana and almond cake.

  • Use coconut oil in all recipes calling for butter, shortening or vegetable oil.   It’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil and has 100% less cholesterol than butter.   It contains the same medium-chain fatty acids found in mother’s milk essential to optimum health and disease prevention.
  • Olive oil is a good cooking oil too and makes a delicious, guilt-free dessert.
  • Substitute flours made from nuts and healthy whole grains, like almond meal walnut meal or quinoa, considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to its high nutritive value, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Nuts are super high in Omega 3’s, the right fats your body and brain needs.
  • For recipes calling for peanut butter, try healthier almond butter instead.
  • For a more nutritious sweetener, use honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses or organic cane sugar instead of refined white sugar.
  • Use almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • When baking with chocolate, try chocolate with at least 60% cocoa powder– it’s healthier and rich in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.  Organic is preferable too!  (Cocoa powder is chocolate pressed free of the fat of cocoa butter.)
  • Moisten cakes and cookies with applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed pumpkin for extra nutrition.  Add nuts, dates, and other dried fruits to your baked goods.
  • Nutrient-rich chia seeds are a good thickener and make a yummy pudding!

Feel a little better indulging this holiday season with some of these baking tips.  Email me your healthy ideas too!  Have fun!

 

Listed below are three simple recipes for healthier holiday treats.

 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing (don’t use extra virgin)

6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons best vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour) or 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

1 cup superfine sugar (or organic can sugar)

eggs

1 X 9-inch springform cake pan

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.

Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolaty, just runny, paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

Put the sugar, olive oil, and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-primrose, aerated, and thickened cream.

Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly tip in the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm. Delicious with ice cream too!

 

Coconut Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups grated or shredded coconut, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups coconut oil, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  Blend coconut oil, eggs, sugar, and almond extract.  Mix wet and dry ingredients together.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Flatten balls to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pale tan. Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Each cookie contains 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil.

 

Date Balls

Simple to make and just as satisfying as a usual holiday cookie, date balls are perfect to bring to a party.  They are a great energizing snack too!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups raw almonds
6  dates
1 – 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (add 1 tsp at a time until there is a light vanilla flavor)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional to roll balls in after; sesame seeds are good too)

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor outfitted with an “S” blade, or a heavy-duty blender, process almonds until coarsely ground. Add the dates and extract and process until mixture sticks together. Form the mixture into tablespoon size balls and roll in coconut or sesame seeds.

From deliciouslivingnutrition.com.

For more green living tips, go to greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

Have You Heard About the Health Benefits of This Ancient Spice?

Turmeric is finally getting the attention it deserves.

English: Turmeric root. Photo taken in Kent, O...

A member of the ginger family, this orange-colored spice is the main ingredient in curry and has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking.  It’s also a remedy in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines and, along with ginger, is now being recognized as one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available.

Turmeric powder 薑黃粉

Turmeric’s main healthful ingredient is curcumin and Western practitioners are acknowledging its possible healing properties with the following:

  • Relieves inflammatory conditions like arthritis and joint pain
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Supports overall brain health and memory function, helping to remove plaque and improve oxygen flow
  • Improves digestion and stomach aches
  • Powerful antioxidant properties which fight cancer-causing free radicals, reducing or preventing some of the damage
  • Kills parasites
  • Dissolves gallstones
  • Alleviates menstrual problems
  • Helps detoxify the liver
  • Helps promote healthy skin
  • Natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can clear infections

For non-medicinal uses, its potent orange color makes turmeric a great all natural dye.  Try it for tie-dyeing or dyeing Easter eggs! Ironically, it’s also used to whiten teeth.

Though it comes in supplement form, (consult your doctor before consuming supplements) it’s best to use it as a spice.  I try to add it daily to my diet, which is easy now that I discovered this delicious recipe for turmeric tea from 101 Cookbooks.  You’ll be surprised how good it is.

Turmeric Tea

Turmeric tends to stain anything it comes into contact with, so be careful.

1/3 cup / 80 ml good, raw honey
2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper (helps with absorption)

Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you’d like a cup. For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. Enjoy! Stir now and then as you drink so all the good stuff doesn’t settle to the bottom, or top off with more hot water as you drink it.

Sprinkling turmeric on vegetables or in dressings is another good way to add this versatile and healthy spice to your diet.  Make sure you buy organic turmeric free from pesticides, heavy metals, artificial colors and lead.  The USDA recently recalled the brand Pran due to high lead content

Get healthy and stay healthy with turmeric!

Information compiled from http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-turmeric, http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-health-benefits-of-turmeric.html, http://www.101cookbooks.com/,and The Okinawa Program by Bradley J. Willcox M.D.,D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D & Makoto Suzuki, M.D.

 

 

 

 

Green Entrepreneurs – Part 2

Last week I focused on Cape Cod entrepreneurs.  This week I am highlighting off Cape green companies.

Where Clothes – I have to put a plug in for my industrious daughter Amy Wild who runs this earth friendly clothing line.  Each one of a kind piece of clothing is designed, repurposed and constructed by Amy who uses vintage, antique and recycled materials. (Many of her designs feature antique lace.). She also has an adorable line of children’s clothes, accessories and takes custom orders as well.  Amy’s passion for protecting the environment and humanity along with her artistic flair and creativity is what drives her business.   All of these clever and unique upcycled items are available on-line.

photo 2

photo 1

Soluna Garden FarmFrom her one-acre farm in Winchester, MA, Amy Hirschberg sustainably grows herbs and flowers, specializing in unusual herbs like Mexican oregano, lemon verbena, and caraway scented thyme.  She offers CSAs for both the herbs and flowers, all grown without chemical fertilizers, preservatives and pesticides. Soluna Farms participates in several farmers’ markets in the area selling tea, herb and spice blends, nutritional and medicinal tea and power food blends, and interesting salts, all grown with certified organic ingredients from companies with fair business practices.  Now you can find Soluna Farm’s great selection of teas, tea flowers, accessories and other specialty items at their storefront location in Winchester.  You can also get tea by the cup, served of course in compostable cups.  If you are in the Boston area, visit this unique herb, spice and tea emporium or go on-line to purchase most products.

gohspa Beth Gaudette’s green, organic and holistic (hence the name gohspa) day spa and beauty salon is a treat for the skin, the body and the mind.  Beth has been a dedicated green cosmetologist for over two decades, well before it became fashionable.  She sees gohspa as a place to relax with a focus on wellness and healthful beauty.  Services in this warm and inviting green spa include organic manicures and pedicures, holistic facials, makeovers, hair removal, body care treatments and massages. gohspa also offers alternative services like Tui Na, a cross between acupressure and Shiatsu and tuning forks.  I highly recommend the gohAGE-with-grace Facial, a preventative procedure that uses gentle machine assisted rhythmic action to encourage improved lymph flow and the release of toxins, along with carefully chosen organic products.  Your skin will look younger and more radiant! gohspa’s caring and capable technicians assure your spa experience will be exceptional, ultra relaxing and healthy!

With their passion and conscientious approach to all things “green”, these hard-working green entrepreneurs are making a difference.  Email me about the unusual and creative green things entrepreneurs are doing in your area!

Green Entrepreneurs

I have recently met some impressive green entrepreneurs who are making a real difference by the earth and our health as they squeak out a living.  In this 2-part blog, I will share with you some of the eco-businesses these creative people are running.

FarmFare Market – A registered dietitian, Nicole Cormier is a green go-getter who has her hands in everything related to organic, food and local.  She runs her nutritional counseling office out of a cute little store in Sandwich, MA where you can buy seasonal fresh vegetables, farm fresh eggs, fresh cold-pressed juices, bulk items like nuts, berries, and beans, specialty food items such as locally made cheeses and organic vanilla, and environmentally friendly products.  She also started a farmer’s market in Mashpee, MA, offers a yearlong CSA, does organic catering, runs wellness workshops for businesses, schools or groups, and hosts a radio show with “nutritionally sustainable topics.”  Whew!

Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod -A talented musician and gardener, Dave Scandurra’s goal is to make the local food movement even more local by bringing it to you.  How?  He creates (installs and maintains) low-maintenance perennial edible landscapes on Cape Cod that will feed you and your friends or family for years to come. He specializes in herbs, perennial vegetables, fruits, nuts, beneficial flowers, trees and edible water gardens. Using raised beds, cold frames or interesting swirl designs, Dave’s gardens are fabulous.  He also consults and is a whiz at plant identification, finding obscure but beneficial plants like St. John’s wort among your “weeds”.

The Optimist Company – A young mother of two, Devin Donaldson’s strong interest in green living led her to make and sell pure cleaning and laundry products.  Her powerful, but gentle and of course non-toxic products are made from simple (and pronounceable) ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil soap, Epsom salts and other household ingredients.    I use her “Loads of Laughs” natural laundry suds and softener and love it.  The attractive packaging is basic and naturally recyclable, reusable, compostable, and biodegradable.  Along with the finished products, The Optimist Company provides DIY (do it yourself) kits.  You can order her products online.

Each of these young entrepreneurs has a similar mission and a passion for protecting the earth and our health. Each exhibits drive and ambition in a socially responsible way.  The green movement is here to stay!

Next blog I’ll highlight a few more conscientious green entrepreneurs.

Congratulations to the winner of the advanced power strip from MassSave, Nancy Yardley of Houston, Texas!

 

Treat Your Pets With Organics!

February 07 015We have the same concerns for our pets about good health, proper nutrition and chemical exposure as we do for ourselves;  they are vulnerable to many of the same illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. As with humans,there are now many organic products and accessories for pets, as well as alternative therapies like aromatherapy, homeopathy and botanical supplements.  For example, conventional flea control products contain pyrethroids and pesticides, which can cause health problems and cancer risks.  They also pose risks to humans who touch their pet after a treatment.  I sprinkle a yeast and garlic supplement on my dog’s food to repel fleas from the inside out which seems to work with no risk. (Don’t give your pet straight garlic however.)  Flea combs, non-toxic powders, organic sprays and shampoos also work.  Here is a natural, easy-to-do flea spray you can make yourself:

Natural Flea and Tick Repellant

6 drops lavender oil; 6 drops cedar oil; 6 drops peppermint oil; 1 cup witch hazel; Combine all the ingredients and place in a spray bottle. Shake until mixed thoroughly. Shake bottle before using. This does not need to be worked into the skin. The smell will repel fleas and ticks.

Conventional pet food has preservatives, additives with little nutritional benefit, substitutes for more expensive meats, artificial colors, thickeners and sweeteners.  Many of these fillers are contaminants and potentially carcinogenic, but you can find healthier alternatives at most pet stores and supermarkets.

Most dogs spend a lot of time outside on the lawn, rolling around, digging, and sniffing.  If you are not already doing so, consider switching to organic lawn care instead of conventional which uses unnecessary chemicals and nitrogen based fertilizers, many of which are known carcinogens linked to health problems in children, pets and adults.  Lawns actually use 20 times more pesticides per acre than farms.

Organic bedding, toys and clothing made using organic catnip and organic cotton help to keep your pets healthy and keep our planet free of pollutants.  Bark your dog (and cat) up the right tree!

Fight a Cold Naturally and Win!

Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang...

USDA photo. Image Number K3644-12. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exposure to cold germs is inevitable and most people get at least one or two colds per year.  My husband and I recently felt the symptoms of the common cold coming on – scratchy throat, sneezing, slight headache, runny nose – and we stopped it dead in its tracks!   Besides following a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables to maintain a strong immune system, the key is to attack it with natural remedies the minute you feel those initial symptoms.  The first thing I do is take Coldcalm, a homeopathic medicine you can buy at CVS.  Follow the directions exactly.  I also take extra Vitamin C (from supplements and Vitamin C rich foods) and Echinacea to boost my immune system.  American Indians chewed Echinacea root for centuries to treat colds and flu.  I drink several cups of hot water with a couple of tablespoons of fresh ginger (or powdered), cinnamon, lemon, and honey, which helps wash the virus right out.  Ginger contains nearly a dozen anti-viral compounds and has several chemicals that are particularly effective against common cold viruses.  The lemon is rich in Vitamin C and the cinnamon and honey add healthy flavor.  Adequate rest is important too.

Sometimes however, your body just succumbs to a cold and the symptoms worsen.  To the above remedies, add the tried and true cure of chicken soup with lots of garlic and onion, which contain several helpful anti-viral compounds including allicin, a potent, broad-spectrum natural antibiotic.  If you don’t mind the taste and smell of garlic, a soup made only with garlic, broth and parsley  is especially effective in lessening the duration of a cold.  Elderberry contains compounds that are active against flu viruses and offers relief from fever and muscle aches.  You can find elderberry syrup in the wellness section at Whole Foods and natural food stores.  Slippery elm is a safe and effective throat soother and cough suppressant.  It has actually been used for over 150 years and the FDA has now declared it to be effective in fighting throat and respiratory symptoms related to colds.  I also take Coldeze, a zinc product sold at CVS, which seems to shorten the length of a cold.

The above remedies are only suggestions that have worked for my family and me.  If you take medication and/or have severe or persistent symptoms, always consult a doctor.

One of my readers sent me some information about Shaklee’s Defend & Resist Product. It contains Echinacea, Elderberry Extract and Elderberry juice concentrate, Zinc and Larch Tree and works best if you start it just when you feel that first tickle and continue for 7 days.  You can chew it, dissolve and sip like a tea, or swallow. Sounds like an effective cold fighter to me!

Some information compiled from The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D.

 

 

Raw Food Diet

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently attended a raw food cooking class. A raw food diet is just what it says – food that is eaten raw or heated to no more than 115 degrees. According to raw food experts, the advantages are that raw food contains beneficial live enzymes that make it more digestible and that it has a higher vitamin and nutrient content.   Heating or cooking chemically alters food causing it to lose its ability to provide energy.  Cooking also destroys certain vitamins. A raw food diet can cleanse and heal. The raw food diet as a health treatment was first developed in Switzerland in 1897 by Dr. Maximillian Bircher-Benner, the inventor of muesli, after he recovered from jaundice by eating raw apples.  His health center is still in operation today.

In summer when fruits and vegetables are abundant, preparing seasonal, local, raw food is easy. A strict raw food diet year round however, is more involved and does not include any processed foods.  To make crackers, breads and other “baked” goods can be time consuming and requires advance planning.  Blenders, food processors, juicers and dehydrators are all needed equipment.  Sprouting and soaking are necessary to eat grains, legumes and nuts.  Nuts are a large part of the raw food diet and are used to make cheeses, crackers, breads and soups.

What appealed to me about the class was its emphasis on creating warming uncooked meals.  We learned simple tips like bringing all food to room temperature for a couple of hours before preparation and using lots of warming spices like cumin, curry and nutmeg.  Our meal started with a delicious raw butternut and green apple soup, followed by zucchini chive canapés, a zucchini slice smeared with chive cream cheese made from cashews – even better than “real” cream cheese! For dinner we made a Brussels sprout and pumpkin seed slaw, a wild rice and chickpea salad, kale and shallot pizzettes with 3 kinds of cheese (again, cashew based; the crust was made from flax seeds and vegetables “baked” in a dehydrator) and a fresh fig and lemon tart for dessert.  The dinner was fabulous and you never would have known it was uncooked!

I could never be an extreme “raw foodie”, but I do love experimenting with new and healthy cuisine.  I read somewhere to make 50% of your diet raw, so challenge yourself and give it a try. Below is a simple recipe for Cashew Parmesan cheese that rivals the real thing!  Email me for more recipes…

½ cup dry cashews

1 clove garlic (chopped)

¼ teaspoon sea salt (coarse)

Grind cashews and sea salt in food processor (with ‘s’ blade) until fine, almost powdery.  Add garlic and pulse food processor until texture resembles Parmesan.  Use on everything!

Information compiled from The Raw Truth, The Art of Loving Foods, by Jeremy A Safron and Renée Underkoffler,  http://en.wikipedia.org/, onesmallpatch.com.

Treat Your Mild Seasonal Allergies Naturally!

Allergy starter

Allergy starter (Photo credit: gibsonsgolfer)

A reader recently asked me about managing seasonal allergies naturally, a timely issue that affects so many of us as we head into fall.

First of all, know your triggers and do your best to avoid them. For example, if your problem is ragweed or pollen, then stay inside as much as possible during pollen season.  Or, if you know certain foods provoke a reaction, obviously stay away from those foods. Often you don’t know what triggers an allergy, so it’s best to consult a doctor, allergy specialist, or homeopathic physician.  For mild seasonal allergies however, there are nature-based products and certain foods that are effective in relieving those annoying symptoms.

Goldenseal and grape seed extract, which is found in red wine, have been found to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, especially when combined with Vitamin C.  Quercetin, a flavanoid compound found in capers, apples, red grapes, citrus, broccoli and green leafy vegetables has also proven to help relieve allergy symptoms. Nettle has a long history of treating seasonal allergies too.  All of these come in supplement or tea form as well and can be found at natural food stores.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in spicy foods during allergy season!  Common spices like cayenne pepper, hot ginger, onion, and garlic have shown to be effective in symptom relief.  Spicy dishes are more likely to thin mucous secretions, which can clear nasal passages making it easier to breathe.  Cayenne is also loaded with natural anti-oxidants and garlic is a highly beneficial immune system booster.

With regular use bee pollen is showing promise to help the immune system rid itself of seasonal allergy symptoms. It can trigger an allergic reaction however, in some individuals who have sensitivity to bee stings, honey intolerance or severe allergic reactions to plant pollens.  As always, it’s best to check with your doctor before using.

Saline sprays or neti pots are helpful in flushing out dirt, pollen, dust and other irritants.  Some people find relief with acupuncture, which seems particularly useful if someone suffers from multiple allergies.

The above natural treatments are more effective if you increase your intake of allergy fighting foods and supplements three weeks before allergy season starts.  With supplements, follow the label and don’t take too much – even natural products can cause toxic reactions if not used properly.  And never mix conventional medications with alternative treatments without first consulting a doctor.

Information compiled from http://www.eHow.com; www.wedmd.com;  www.healingwell.com; www.livestrong.com and http://www.bee-pollen-buzz.com.


 

 

Earth Month Quote

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earth is what we all have in common.

Wendell Berry – novelist, poet, farmer and social activist

Whatever your race, religion, nationality, background, political affiliation or sexual orientation, we all inhabit the same earth and we must all take care of it. It’s simple really – what’s good for the earth is good for you and what’s good for you is good for the earth.

April is Earth Month and April 22 is Earth Day – think about the green things you do everyday and add one more.  Read through my blog for ideas:

CATEGORIES

Simple steps make a difference………….

OVERUSE OF PRESCRIPTION PILLS

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Most of us probably know someone whose life is negatively affected by the overuse of prescription drugs.  Take a moment to look at this important and powerful graphic.  It’s time to get real about the misuse of pills.

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