Yucca has become a favorite of mine for its special qualities in texture and taste. Some people will say it taste similar to a white potato, but I would say that's half true.
The tuber is very popular in Cuban and Caribbean cuisine. Although you can use this hearty vegetable to take the place of a potato in some of your favorite recipes, the texture is "denser" and is somewhat slightly creamer than a potato when boiled. It also is starchier.
Yucca is naturally gluten free and makes a great addition to the diet for those who need to avoid gluten.
If you want a tasty version of eating yucca, try making yucca fries! They are absolutely delicious. (You can also air fry if you don't want to indulge.) They will still be delicious. Just coat with a light coating of olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Yucca should always be peeled from its waxy exterior and often times you should remove the tough inner core as it is hard and can become stringy if not removed.
Another tasty way of having yucca is to have it Cuban style with pickled red onions! Here is my version of yucca that has been boiled. The pickled red onion mixture gets a bath in extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic sauteed, cumin, white vinegar and fresh squeezed lime juice with ground cumin and oregano with salt and pepper to taste. Yum!
One last way you can enjoy yucca is to add to soups or stews as it will naturally thicken.
If you're wondering if yucca is hard to find, actually is quite easily available. You will usually find it near your produce isle where you would find other tropical vegetables. Otherwise, you could always visit a Latin market or Caribbean store to purchase.
I hope you give yucca a try for a change of pace with your meals!
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Hemp hearts are a nutritional powerhouse that you definitely want to try for using in cooking.
To be honest, from a personal point of view, it was a trial and error in my kitchen before I came to love this good for you seed.
My first attempt was making simple hemp milk using my Vitamix blender. It had a smooth and creamy texture, but the taste was very "earthy" tasting and I just wasn't fond of the taste even with using dried dates to sweeten.
But I was determined to find a way to enjoy hemp hearts as you'll see from some of my suggestions. First let's take a look at how much nutrition you get with just 3 tablespoons per serving.
Some highlights are they give you 10 grams of protein. Protein is vital to keeping hunger at bay. It also has over 12 grams of omegas 3 & 6.
Unlike myself, you may be fond of making your own hemp milk and not mind the taste. It's very simple to make and you don't need to strain as the outer shell is already removed.
So here are some of my 5 tips on how you can use hemp hearts into your meals:
Tip 1: Toast them!
Wow what a difference this makes. When you toast them the "earthy" taste I mentioned becomes more subtle. Use them as a replacement for anything nuts and seeds are called for in any of your recipes. They work perfect in my Hemp Pesto Recipe enriched with avocado!
Tip 2: Use them tossed in Salads
They taste great to boost the nutrition in a salad. Try using these as a replacement for walnuts in the classic fruit Waldorf Salad made with yogurt.
Tip 3: Make Energy Bites:
There are so many variations for making these but adding them to a cacao powder variety can help with a sweet tooth.
Tip 4: Make a Salad Dressing:
Instead of using commercial mayonnaise to make a creamy salad dressing, replace using hemp hearts mixed with water or plant-based milk. Add herbs and seasonings of your choice. You can make it as thick or thin as you want.
Tip 5: Bake with them:
Try tossing these into muffins, or naturally sweetened quick breads.
One final word on hemp hearts. You may try one of the suggestions I have listed here and determine it may not be for you, but I'm certain if you try another way of preparing it, you may determine you love them! Either way, give it a try. I would love to see your comments.
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Fresh ginger is a favorite of mine for many reasons. Not only is it a delicious spice, but it also has numerous health benefits such as improving digestion, assisting with alleviating nausea symptoms and even help with joint pain and inflammation similar to fresh turmeric root.
There are many ways to cook with fresh ginger. It is a very common ingredient in Asian cooking, but also in other cultures too such as Indian & African cuisine.
Here are some suggestions for using in meals:
Make ginger tea (just add slices to fresh water and let steep for 15-20 minutes. Add honey to sweeten.)
Grate it into stir fry sauces (If you don't want to peel, its fine! The skin is very thin and won't affect taste.)
Make a sweet salad dressing and drizzle over your salad greens with protein. (Use orange juice, peanut oil, garlic and rice vinegar)
Add it to a curry soup with coconut milk.
Make a ginger paste.
Make a fresh ginger juice. Try this recipe.
Fresh Ginger Juice
Make a healthy ginger beer. Try this west African version from Ghana.
Because ginger is a warming spice, this spice is especially good for individuals who get cold easily and can shorten the duration of the common cold.
When shopping for ginger, make sure it does not show signs of wrinkling as this is an indication it is way past its freshness. If purchased you will experience stringiness, so you will want to avoid this.
Get cooking with fresh ginger with any of the suggestions listed. Enjoy!
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I have been meaning to experiment with aquafaba, aka canned chickpea liquid, for quite some time. I finally got around to making something very simplistic. Homemade mayonnaise.
Why the curiosity? Well, for one, I eat chickpeas quite a bit and I've been throwing down the drain the liquid from these beans which can apparently be used in multiple, interesting ways to replace eggs in recipes and other tasty applications. I'll talk about that in a bit but let me share how I went about making this mayonnaise using chickpea liquid.
Most mayonnaise recipes start with an egg, so I replaced this with the aquafaba by using 1/4 cup.
All the usual suspects of mustard, lemon juice and oil were added in addition to garlic and onion powder.
To keep the flavor neutral, I used an extra light tasting olive oil. (Don't think of trying to use extra virgin olive oil, you won't like the results.) You'll end up with a very bitter tasting mayo that won't be appealing to your taste buds.
Now if you want to get some hand exercise, you can whisk it up in a bowl, but if you rely on your handy kitchen tools like I do, a blender will get the job done faster. Here is the end result. Wow!
Now, your question may be "Does it taste like regular commercial mayonnaise?" Yes, it does, but I think it taste better and is slighter lighter in taste. Just think of how gratifying it is to "whip up" your own mayo without all of the preservatives of traditional jarred mayo and vegan mayo.
Speaking of vegan mayo's available in grocery stores in the health isle, I've paid a pretty penny for one not too long ago and tried it for myself. The taste was horrible and had me running for the regular stuff. lol.
But seriously, whether you are a vegan or not you will like the taste of this mayo using aquafaba. Don't worry the bean taste is not detected.
You can give my recipe a try the next time you have this extra liquid on hand.
Now if you are looking for other uses of using this liquid, "The Vegan Society" has plenty of options! You can make healthier ice creams, vegan cheeses and even butter.
20 Amazing Things You Can Do with Aquafaba
So, the next time, you open up a can of chickpeas, remember some of these great options, before you throw away all the awesome things you can make with this liquid.
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If you are one of those people who think kitchen gadgets are not necessary, you may want to think again.
By having certain kitchen tools available, it can make the process of cooking dishes easier and in some cases saves you TIME.
Here are some of my favorites I use frequently and hope you will find these helpful when prepping recipes in your kitchen. Some of these simple items can be found cheaply at your local dollar store.
1. Vegetable Peeler
This is an essential kitchen gadget to have which obviously peels vegetables including fruits. But it can be used other ways such as hulling fresh strawberries, making chocolate shavings or even creating zucchini and carrot ribbons for vegetable or pasta dishes.
2. Coffee Grinder
Besides coffee, a coffee grinder is great for grinding fresh spices. Make sure to dedicate strictly for grinding spices as the essential oils from them will linger.
3. Coffee Pour Over Cone
Speaking of coffee, this is another affordable option. Instead of a traditional coffee pot, coffee pods or machine, this gadget is on repeat in my kitchen. The reason being is it is so simplistic to use, but also, there is no waste as you can make by the cup full, or you can buy a bigger one with a carafe for multiple people. It's a great travel companion as you can make your own fresh coffee using just hot water and your choice of ground coffee.
4. Box Food Grater
This is essential for grating cheese and even aromatic vegetables such as onions. It can also be used to shred potatoes, grating ginger, carrots and even hard spices such as cinnamon sticks. Using this gadget does require a little more arm work, but it gets the job done! There are various options also on a box grater which can even slice peppers!
5. Blender & or Food Processor
Having both is ideal, but both can be used similarly in certain applications. The food processor provides a better option for making things such as making a homemade pesto or grinding up nuts and seeds.
The blender can do these options also, but some of the food can tend to sit at the bottom which can be challenging to take out. The blender is better suited for your healthy smoothies and hot soups to finish for a smooth finish.
There are many gadgets you can use to assist you in your kitchen, but these basic gadgets will go a long way for most basic cooking needs! So, if you are lacking in any of these items, make a plan to get them soon.
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Can you believe 2022 is fast approaching? Between now and new year's there will be plenty of celebrations of getting together with family and loved ones.
Like I mentioned last year around this time, mindfulness around eating doesn't have to happen at the first of the year like new year's resolutions. Resolutions can start anytime of the year if you are trying to make a healthy lifestyle a permanent part of your daily life.
I say mindfulness when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, because there is too much media hype on the next "lose weight fast!" phenomenon. When it really goes deeper than this as quick fixes never last if you can't get your mindset right for lasting results.
Change is not easy but taking any positive action can help if done consistently.
One way to be mindful can be attained through health apps. I know there are MANY out there, but I will just mention one which is helpful for me and may be for you.
The Ate app is all about mindfulness. It's a way of food journaling you can simply do by just taking a snapshot of your meal with your phone. If you forget to snapshot your meal, you can easily just add text for a meal you consumed.
The Ate app is helpful in assisting in building healthy habits. Although simplistic in this approach, you can see an overview of your meal that you've made over a period of time and only YOU can decide if you are on track by seeing your food choices.
Ready to get started? Just download the app available for Apple users and Android.
IF you want to start with healthy habits without the app, you can also access their FREE e-book below. The e-book is filled with habits you can work on such as "Eating Meals without Guilt" "Don't Eat too much of Any One Thing" and "Cook More Often"
Building Healthy Habits with Ate
Over a period of time, small changes can really make an impact that you can live with for life. Only you can decide if an app such as Ate, will help you through this process of getting healthy.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
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There are so many diets or should I say "lifestyle" diets that people can have really strong opinions about because it works for them. These can include vegetarian, vegan, paleo, flexitarian, etc.
But one thing, I think most people can agree upon and that is to include more fruits and vegetables into their daily meals.
One way of approaching getting more of healthy fruit and vegetables is to look at the basic foundation of the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet consists of all food groups including healthy animal proteins of fish, seafood, chicken and even occasional red meat if your heart desires.
Extra virgin olive oil is the oil of choice. In addition, healthy grains and beans are included and encouraged.
Some popular dishes you may already be familiar with are hummus, Baba ghanoush, (eggplant dip) Shawarma (Beef or chicken that is marinated and sliced before serving.)
Because foods from the Mediterranean can consist of multiple countries, the popular main dishes can vary with ingredients and spices used.
If you have access to a market or restaurant that specializes in this way of eating, you surely should explore it! Not only is the food delicious and healthy, but also opens your eyes on how you can get creative in your own kitchen.
IF you venture into a Mediterranean market, here are a few favorites I use regularly:
Sumac-a spice with a tart citrusy flavor that can be used just like citrus such as lemon.
Pomegranate Molasses-a tart syrup great for adding to salad dressing
Garlic Sauce-a creamy sauce made with lots of garlic and oil.
By Tamorlan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3208973
Some of my favorite ways of this way of eating is emulating some of the concepts into some of my meals, is just marinating plain chicken breast in plain yogurt to make chicken kabobs.
To my yogurt, I will add fresh lemon juice, garlic, fresh flat leaf parsley, salt & pepper and smoked paprika.
I'll also make my own spin on making my own hummus, using a variety of beans outside of using garbanzo beans.
Need some ideas? I found a wonderful resource on making Mediterranean foods from various countries to get you inspired. Recipes are compiled from the various countries such as Egypt and Morocco.
Mediterranean Recipes to try
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet can be an easy and delicious way of getting the proper nutrition into your body. Only YOU can determine what's best for your nutritional needs.
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There was a time when I was on a routine of juicing regularly. I bought myself a Jack Lalanne Juicer and I went to town with making all kinds of concoctions.
They were delicious and I did feel better when I would consume. But one thing I found out was that I was mostly attracted to recipes that had an abundance of fruits and less vegetables.
Now don't get me wrong, fruit is healthy. It all depends on your dietary needs. For someone, who needs quick energy before a workout, the carbohydrates in a natural fruit juice may help an athlete get these nutrients quickly before going hard at the gym to train.
However, for others who may need to be more cautious or limit carbohydrates (even from fruit) for dietary reasons but still wants to enjoy juicing every now and then, this is when one has to be mindful of what they juice.
Juicing is beneficial in the fact that you can consume a large amount of fruits and vegetables where you can get these nutrients into your body quickly. Even with a healthy diet, one cannot consume an overabundance in a day at every meal.
Another benefit of juicing is that it can reduce your appetite. This is a wonderful benefit for those who are concerned with eating too much junk food. It actually helps to reduce these type of cravings.
So this post is about the benefits of juicing red bell peppers. Although technically it is still considered a fruit because it contains seeds, (I like to call vegetables with seeds savory fruit) It is a nutritional powerhouse as it contains lycopene (which may help in cancer prevention.)
Red peppers are also naturally high in antioxidants and can also assist in reducing inflammation in the body.
When juicing, you can keep it simple with trying my recipe of Red Pepper & Carrot Juice. Both are considered vegetables but are naturally sweet, but lower in carbohydrates than with some fruit. I used a commercial sized Rob coupé juicer, but a regular juicer will work also.
If you have no juicer, but just have a blender, you can still juice. All you have to do, is place all of your juice ingredients into a blender with a little water to mix and then strain through a nut bag (available on Amazon.)
When juicing, if you can afford it, buy organic produce when possible. If this is a challenge or your budget won't allow at times, make sure to wash produce thoroughly.
In my instance, my carrots are not organic, so I peeled mine before juicing to reduce the chance of pesticides in my finished juice.
For another flavor enhancer, I added a half of a lime that is peeled before adding to the juicer, but get creative with other healthy additions such as ginger or fresh turmeric.
The good thing about red peppers is their availability of getting them year round and if you do some comparison shopping they can be affordable to consume on a regular basis.
I hope you give this simple juice a try at home. I think its a winner, but would love to know if this is something you could enjoy regularly.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Elderberry properties is something I discovered a while ago, but I really found out how important it has become during the pandemic in the late winter of 2020.
It is known for its reputation of potential immune health perks used to fight cold and flu symptoms naturally.
I knew there had to be some quality benefits behind this antioxidant berry, as when I tried to purchase a bottle of it in a syrup form during this time, I had to wait for a shipment to come in from my local Vitamin Shoppe because it was in high demand!
Raw elderberries are not to be eaten raw as they are poisonous, so you will often see it produced in different forms such as a syrup or in a powdered form.
In my personal experience with tasting elderberries in a syrup form, the taste is quite delicious. with it being slightly tart but with a flavorful "grapey" taste.
You can purchase elderberry syrup from most health websites including Amazon, but did you know it is quite easy to create your own for a third of the cost? A small bottle can go for $20 bucks or more so it makes sense to make your own if you want to consume this regularly.
I recently made a batch using dried elderberries which you can purchase locally or online.
The process is simple as cooking the dried berries in water for a short amount of time and then completing your syrup with honey which you can adjust with the amount. If you need a simple recipe to start off with you can try this one at Food Revolution.
How to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup
After you have made you a batch of elderberry syrup, it can be used in culinary ways which are quite delicious. Try any of the following ideas:
Pancakes- This syrup is a great replacement from traditional syrup which gives you a health boost!
Healthy Soda- If you are trying to ween yourself off of soda, a tablespoon or so of this dropped in sparkling water will curb that craving from high fructose traditional soda
Oatmeal-We know oatmeal is already healthy, but this is fun twist instead of maple syrup or brown sugar.
Smoothies-This is also another great way of enjoying elderberry syrup. Try making it with blueberries and adding the elderberry syrup as a little additional light sweetener.
Salad Dressings-How awesome is this? Try making a salad dressing with a little elderberry syrup combined with vinegar. Perfect for fruit focused salads
Elderberries have been around for a long time and having it in a syrup form such as my suggestions listed above, is a fun way to add this legendary berry to your current wellness plan.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
It's the middle of summer and in most places of this earth, it is warm.
Like most, I tend to gravitate towards lighter meals in the warmer months that don't require lots of prep or even turning on my stove.
This is where salads can be on repeat, especially during this time where you can find an abundance of local and fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets.
Depending on where you live, your options may be limitless where you can have a bounty year around. Lucky you!
In any instance, when finding quality fresh produce, your salads can have such a variety, you most likely won't become bored with the same mundane, lettuce, tomato, cucumber combination we can gravitate to because its easy.
At a farmers market, you may find different and interesting produce such as a colorful combination of yellow, purple and traditional orange carrots. Or you may discover an interesting and colorful purple kohlrabi, which is similar somewhat to a cabbage texture. Both of these colorful vegetables make a great addition to a healthy salad.
With the right combinations, and a variety of colors, you can make delicious salads which won't take up too much of your time.
This healthy habit done consistently will reap you benefits of feeling full thanks to its high water content and fiber.
To give you a few ideas for salads, some of my simple favorites are:
Asian Style Cucumber Salad
Black Bean & Corn Salad (Mexican)
Roasted Caesar Salad with Avocado & Chicken
To keep your salad clean, consider making your salad dressings from scratch. This way your salad won't have the unnecessary additives and preservatives. The upside with making your own is you can control the ingredients and it just taste better!
You can keep it simple at times by just shaking the ingredients in a mason jar and using it later for upcoming salad meals. Simple oil and vinegar combinations works too!
If you are stuck on salad creations, I've attached a link where you can download a free e-book on creating sensational salads that also can be eaten as a meal. This resource also has side salads that are pretty awesome too.
44 Sensational Salads E-book
I hope you see that salads can be awesome for healthy living lifestyle because of their whole food benefits. They help with satiety and provide much needed nutrients to your body.
This is one healthy habit you can master easily by rotating with different combinations of colorful veggies and even fruits. If you can replace one meal a day, your body will adjust to wanting them more and that is a good thing.
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Having a healthy living lifestyle is all about balance. But, realistically, we know sometimes mindful eating can be a challenge especially while vacationing.
I can personally relate to this as I've come back from a recent trip from Miami.
This popular vacation city is known for an array of delicious foods ranging from fresh seafood, Cuban delights and other appetizing cultural cuisines.
Part of my vacation itinerary was a food tour of "Little Havana" I especially like to do things like this to get a quick history of a city and its food culture.
My tour included stopping at a historical Cuban restaurant where I indulged in an empanada made with a beef filling of picadillo with green olives and the classic Cubano sandwich. Yum!
Also, during my tour, I discovered more history of Little Havana with multiple tastings at various venues.
I got to taste homemade churros dusted with cinnamon sugar with optional dipping sauces of "dulce de leche" (caramel sauce made with condensed milk ) or chocolate dipping sauce. A specialty ice cream made with cookie crumbles, cream cheese and finished off with a guava paste drizzle.
I got to taste a classic, refreshing and minty mojito at another interesting destination as I scrolled the place with interesting photos of Cuban culture.
The final stop of my culinary food tour was at a Cuban cigar shop which included a tasting of bold Cuban coffee for the grand finale. All I can say is the experience was totally worth it!
I mention all of the goodness of my food tour because I think sometimes people who want to live a healthy lifestyle may have the mindset they should never indulge in decadent food they don't normally eat.
But with anything for it to become a habit, a healthy lifestyle has to be doable and has to be something for the long term. So if you are eating healthy 80 percent of the time, and 20 percent of your time occasionally having a little comfort food within reason is totally fine.
Although my week vacation may not have been the healthiest, I was mindful of my eating as much as I could be and it can be the same with you.
So when it comes to you going on vacation and you are worried about how to enjoy without going overboard, here are some helpful strategies that I did which I hope you will consider too the next time you need to enjoy yourself.
Continue with your usual routine of exercise (muscle conditioning and cardio)
If your hotel has a gym, take advantage of using this perk. If no gym is available, do a routine in your hotel room using a fitness free app such as "Fiton" or your favorite Youtube videos.
Also explore on your own your vacation spot by doing plenty of walking. My culinary tour was a walking food tour so I had the advantage of built in exercise for this particular day.
Drink Plenty of Water
I know you've heard it before but its worth mentioning as a reminder. Sometimes we are more thirsty than hungry. Be sure to stay hydrated as it can help with bloating from foods you may consuming higher in sodium.
In addition, if you are drinking alcoholic beverages make sure to have a glass in between drinks to keep from getting dehydrated.
Make some of your meals lighter if you are going out for most dinners
My healthy daily routine is a breakfast protein shake which I eat as a meal replacement. By doing this, I am less hungry and eat less at other meals. (I bought a portable mini blender so I would have no excuses.) Whatever your healthy meals may be, try to plan them simply where it helps you to eat less during the day.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as much as possible
We know whole foods will always shine when it comes to appetite control. Having a simple salad or eating a piece of fruit between meals helps to curb hunger and cravings.
As you can see, its ok to take a pause from healthy eating while on vacation. Your mindset wont go totally away while you give yourself a much needed break.
Once you are back into the swing of things of your normal routine, you'll discover you had wonderful experiences and you'll be back to eating the nutritious foods you love to fuel your body.
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My blog is all about a healthy lifestyle, but I thought I would reflect on a special holiday coming up that means a lot to me.
That holiday is Juneteenth. It is a holiday I've been celebrating for only the last ten years of my life. It wasn't something I experienced from traditional learning taught in my basic education through schooling.
Because of my deep awakening of my history through books and literature, I researched on my own, it is up there with every other important holiday that I celebrate.
Juneteenth (celebrated yearly on June 19th) is referred to as "Freedom Day" or Emancipation Day.
If you want a deeper understanding of what Juneteenth is, you can watch this quick video here:
"What is Juneteenth"
Juneteenth colors are red, white and blue like our traditional American Flag, however most dishes with hues of red are served more readily because of the blood that was shed through slavery.
Speaking of red foods for this celebration you often will see red velvet cake, hibiscus tea (you can try my delicious non-alcoholic sangria that uses hibiscus, here.) and other simple dishes such as red beans and rice.
If Juneteenth is a holiday that you are not aware of or just now seeing the real importance of it, I encourage you to attend an event virtually or in person. Personally, I'm looking forward to going to many as my schedule permits.
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A couple of blog posts back, I mentioned the importance of making your own bread from scratch. I also mentioned how you can vary the flours to make it your own instead of using all white flour which is void of nutrition.
But, what if you are short on time and you want to still have some great tasting bread without too much fuss?
This is where flatbreads come into place. Making flatbreads are an excellent choice when you are short on time. What's also awesome about using this approach is that it can be made on a moments whim to create wonderful tasting bread.
Another cool fact is, flatbreads come from a variety of countries ranging from India, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Here is an awesome look at Afghan flatbread. (This might be a future post for me to create as this looks delish!)
Ok, back to my recipe testing....My flatbread for testing was a roti bread reminiscent of India, which traditionally is made with white flour and sometimes incorporates whole grain flours, depending on the recipe.
Because I wanted to see if I could get a decent texture and flavor using no white flour, my first attempt was using just kamut flour I made in my Vitamix by just grinding the whole kamut grain.
Kamut is an ancient grain that has a buttery, nutty taste, which is why I chose this for my first attempt. However, the end result ending up being too dense in texture and not soft enough for me although the taste was on point. So, it was back to the drawing board for a second attempt.
My second attempt, I decided I needed to lighten it up, but did not want to resort to using white flour. So, this time it included a combination of whole wheat pastry flour, organic sprouted spelt flour and my beloved kamut for its awesome flavor. What was the result? Drumroll please!
Aww success! The end result of this combination of flours is just what I was looking for. Great taste and texture that I can feel good about. Whole wheat pastry flour has great gluten structure as well as spelt and the kamut flour brings it all together to contribute to the final taste.
If you want to give this bread a try you can find it on my recipe page here:
Whole Grain Roti Bread
I hope you give this recipe a try and remember, this can be a great go to for something quick. Honestly, you are only looking at an hour from start to finish for this delicious homey bread. You can also just freeze this dough for later use by placing into a Ziploc bag.
Its also delicious to making a simple vegetarian flatbread pizza you can make with this dough. This one was made simply with Campari tomatoes crushed, a little olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and kosher salt. I then simply topped off with sliced mushrooms, yellow pepper and mozzarella cheese. So easy, but so delicious!
So, the next time you want a delicious go to, keep flatbreads in mind for easy access to be enjoyed with no major time commitment.
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How to eat nutritiously without hitting your bank account too hard is can be ongoing challenge for families as well as individuals. From limited means to just being mindful, feeding ourselves with nutritious food has become a priority for those who want to remain healthy, despite limited income.
But, how do we do this when money is a factor? There are many tips on how to do this, but I will give you some of my suggestions and a couple of resources they may help out.
Although some of these ideas are nothing new, it bears to mention anyway as a refresher. Cooking from scratch is always the way to go to eat on a budget. Here are some food items you should always keep on hand.
Whole grains, such as brown rice, and other options such as bulgur wheat, whole grain or wheat pasta, etc.
Beans of any variety whether whole in their natural form or canned
Plant Based Milk (stockpile when items on sale)
Peanut Butter, or other nut butters
Frozen fruit fruit and veggies
Canned fruit (packed in fruit juice is the best option)
Canned vegetables (no salt added for healthier option)
Basic spices from your dollar store such as oregano, garlic & onion powders, cumin, paprika, kosher salt, sea salt and black pepper.
Economical vegetables and fruits, apples, bananas, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, cucumbers, celery, collard greens, kale, sweet potatoes, onions.
Also, check out resources that may be in your own neighborhood such as food pantries that get daily food donations from outside resources.
These suggestions that I've mentioned are very basic but is a good start.
Now with these basic options you will be able to create some basic meals to nourish your body. But, what if you need to have some easy meal ideas that address the budget issue, plus also delivers good taste?
Although, there are plenty of options on the internet , here is a free e-book called Good & Cheap by Leanne Brown you can easily access. Some exciting options are Vegetable Jambalaya, Savory Summer Cobbler & Spicy Pulled Pork. In addition, there are breakfast options as well as beverage options such as smoothies.
Good & Cheap E-Cookbook
With technology booming, we can now access food using apps on our phone. Food waste is a huge factor these days and this app is trying to reduce this issue, city by city as it becomes more popular. Its called "Too Good to Go"
This company partners with restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and hotels. Although, not everything offered is healthy there are plenty of options available depending on where you live. Here is a link to find out more information regarding reducing food waste while also enjoying these services to keep yourself on a budget for food costs. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play.
Too Good to Go
As you can see, you can eat healthy by doing a little research and planning ahead, but also keep things interesting for your taste buds. All of this can be done on a budget and doesn't have to be boring.
Even, if some things are more costly, you can save on other items to balance things out. In the long run you or your family will benefit from these smart habits for a lifetime.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
If you are a lover of garlic as I am, then you are about to discover how to enjoy it even more.
One way of using garlic with exceptional taste is to make a 'garlic confit."
I know it sounds fancy, but to make garlic confit, it is quite simple.
This technique is popular in French cuisine and in in simple terms the word means "to preserve."
This method is mainly for preserving animal protein such as "duck confit. But, using this simple method allows you also to preserve vegetables and aromatics such as garlic.
To make garlic confit, you will be poaching whole garlic cloves in oil. You can use a neutral oil of your choice, but I like flavorful clean oils such as olive oil for my own personal choice.
A basic recipe I use is about a cup of fresh garlic cloves and place into a small pot. Pour enough oil over the top to cover.
Next step, you will bring the garlic to a low simmer as demonstrated in this video clip.
Continue to simmer the mixture for 30 minutes or until they become soft and a little golden in color.
Using a mason jar, place into a jar and cover with a lid. When cooled down slightly, place into the fridge for longer use. It will keep in the fridge up to a month.
Now, when you get your first taste of the simple dish, you will wonder why you have not tried it before.
The end result is a mellow garlic taste, which is almost buttery. Because this method reduces the sharpness of fresh garlic, you can get heavy handed when using in in dishes.
Here are some of my suggestions for use:
Add it to pasta, pizza
Spread it on top of fresh crusty bread with hummus
Add it to omelets
Use it in pesto's instead of raw garlic
Add to homemade creamy salad dressings (use the infused oil to make it more special!)
Garlic confit is a good standby to keep on hand in the fridge, so when inspiration hits you to have something with delicious garlic flavor, you won't have to work hard to achieve it.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Back in February, I made a blog post about going global for making meals more interesting where you will never get bored. I hope some of this inspired some of you to cook more out of your comfort zone. By doing so, you may really look forward to the creative process of trying something new.
A good starting point of experimenting with spices, is Indian cuisine. In my humble opinion, India has an abundance of spices that are wonderful to explore with and you will have plenty of options to to choose from.
Some of my favorites are the traditional spices of dried curry leaves, cardamom, cumin, garam masala (a spice blend of warm spices of cinnamon, coriander, cumin and other spices) ginger and turmeric.
The spices I just mentioned are very common, but exploring some not so common spices is where it gets interesting.
I recently made an Indian eggplant pate using Amchur powder. The other name it goes by is dry mango powder. (By the way ,the dish is delicious served with naan bread)
The taste of this powder has a sour note, and makes a great substitute for anything that you make requiring a tart citrusy taste such as lemon. This would be a great first try at trying something new. I got my Amchur powder at my local Indian market which is Patel Brothers.
Speaking of Patel brothers, check out their blog post of 5 Unique Indian Spices & Herbs you should cook with. This post also includes more helpful information about Amchur powder.
Using spices will make your everyday food burst with delicious and interesting flavors. Who knows, you may come up with something uniquely your own?
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We all have our own journeys when it comes to eating better and I am no exception.
One thing I said I wouldn't give up and that was bread. To me and I'm sure many others would agree that they love the taste and texture of a tasty bread to make something quick and simple such as sandwich, or a slice alongside a big salad.
Some people avoid eating bread simply because they want to limit their carb intake or may be for medical reasons such as being gluten sensitive or intolerant. But, there are also lots of options for folks who have these conditions to also enjoy bread in moderation.
As I mentioned in a previous post, creating healthy habits can take a while. But even if you only make smaller changes, its still a step in the right direction.
One habit, I am working on is to consistently making my own bread at home from scratch. Also, my goal is to eat mostly whole grain or whole wheat loaves when I do make them.
But as some of you may know, baking certainly has it's challenges. Before I showcase my creations, let me give you 3 major advantages of making your own bread at home.
1: You control the ingredients.
This is an obvious one. But, to me the most major reason why you should be making your own. Let's think about how simple the ingredients are for a basic loaf. This would be flour, water, salt & yeast. That's it! When you grab a processed loaf from your local supermarket it is the total opposite of the short list of ingredients. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, it should be an astounding NO!
2. It Tastes Better!
This is a quite obvious one too when you start making a comparison in flavor from store bought to making your own. Although fresh bread you make from scratch does not last as long, you can always preserve it naturally by placing cut slices in Ziploc freezer bags. Another alternative is to just toast your bread which will still be pretty awesome in taste.
3. It's Affordable
I know some folks will say they can get a loaf of bread for as cheap as a $1. But, the sad fact is the quality is not great and the nutritional aspect of that bread is even sadder. Although, you do have buy the initial ingredients to make bread, its still has a good bang for your buck quality wise.
So, lets talk about actually baking a loaf. Because baking bread can be thought of as a "labor of love" I'm still down with making great loaves that are pretty hands off, but still results in a great tasting loaf. My two examples here showcase one loaf made in a bread machine and the other in a Dutch oven with a lid.
Both of the recipes I tried I grabbed online. One from the famous baking specialists when it comes to bread which would be King Arthur and the other from the Food Network, by Alton Brown.
The bread I made by Alton Brown is called a No Knead Sourdough Boule. Since it was my first time using this recipe, I followed the recipe exactly of how it should be produced. It was quite tasty and the results were fabulous!
.nThis technique uses a hand off approach of the "no knead" method, which simply means, you mix the ingredients and then you let rest for a set amount of hours. In this case, the dough sits for a good 19 hours. The dough is then punched down and then allowed to rise for an additional couple of hours before shaping and baking it off. Although a lot of time is added to creating this loaf, you don't have to babysit it. A big win, win!
Now, one thing I want to mention, baking is a science, so its best to do the original as is like I did with this loaf and then adjust to see what your creative mind can come up with. With this being said, I was curious to how this loaf would come out if I wanted to go the route of making it healthier without using all white bread flour.
I decided to swap out half of the bread flour and substituted the other half required with organic sprouted spelt flour. The results came out pretty good. However, I did notice the loaf did not rise as high as the original. Did I mention baking is a science? lol. But, seriously, it was a decent loaf for a first try. I think next time, I will hydrate it more with water and with the addition of vital wheat gluten to assist which may help with the rise in this recipe.
If you are interested in trying organic sprouted spelt flour, this is the brand that I use which will also let you know the wonderful healthy aspects of using this flour for your baking needs.
One Degree Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour
The last loaf I made by King Arthur really has a "hands off" approach using a bread machine. (Yes, this is for folks who really don't want to spend too much time, but it is also just great to use for the dough cycle for bread you want to bake in the oven.) This recipe uses no white flour at all and is 100 percent whole wheat. This is my loaf results.
This loaf had great lift, considering it was ALL whole wheat flour. (I used King Arthur's white whole wheat.) However, with it not having any white flour at all, I found it too be too dry, even though it baked on the light crust setting for my bread machine. Although still tasty, I would have liked it to have been a little be more moist and less dry. This one I will attempt again with more water and test again.
This loaf of bread has some great additions such as flax and sesame seeds to boost its nutrition. Here is the recipe at King Arthur.
100 Percent Whole Wheat Bread
Although making homemade healthy bread from scratch can be trial and error, it really is worth a try. Baking bread can be a relaxing process and allows you to get creative. I would love to see your creations of what you come up with.
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Winter is slowly drifting by and nothing beats enjoying a relaxing and tasty hot beverage to start your morning or to enjoy any time of the day.
Most people enjoy their morning cup of joe, but there are alternatives that can give you a much needed energy boost without the reliance of caffeine.
Because most of these drinks are low or absent of caffeine, they can be consumed regardless of the time of day without getting the jitters if you were to consume regular coffee later in the evening.
One popular warm drink people are enjoying more frequently these days are "Golden Milk" or the other reference of the drink called a Turmeric latte.
There are various recipes for them, but basically its a combination of milk, fresh or powdered turmeric and warm spices of your choice.
Here is a picture of a Golden Milk latte, which I make a couple of times a week to enjoy. I always use a plant based organic milk such as soy or almond. I also use the addition of a scoop of vanilla collagen peptides and a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil which is delicious!
Golden milk health benefits come from the consumption of turmeric which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and helps to balance your blood sugar.
If you are looking for other healthful, relaxing warm drinks that include other beneficial ingredients check out this resource here.
Warm drinks can be delicious and comforting and don't take a long time to prepare, which can benefit your body with regular use. There are a variety of ones to try, so you will never get bored. Enjoy a warm drink for all of it's wonderful and comforting elements.
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If you are in a rut when it comes to meals, it's understandable.
When we are used to making dishes that are dependable and delicious, we tend to make them over and over again, purely out of comfort.
This is not a bad thing, but meals can become monotonous, and can get your taste buds in a slump!
To release yourself from boredom, you will never go wrong with going global around the world with cuisine.
One thing I have experienced during my career speaking with folks, some people love their own cuisine of their country which for most have amazing dishes full of flavor.
But to experience something outside of your comfort zone, it's great to experiment in the kitchen with other cultures outside of your own. By doing so, you can discover more delicious and healthy dishes that are interesting using new ingredients and wont ever find yourself in a rut.
One thing I also want to mention, it does not matter, if you are on a specialized diet (vegetarian, vegan, dairy free ,gluten free, etc.) as most cuisines can be adapted with certain ingredients or omitting certain ones to accommodate.
All cuisines, can have healthy aspects such as beans, vegetables and wonderful things to jazz things up. Indian cuisine in particular has an array of spices you can experiment with.
To get you to explore other flavors of the world, I discovered a great resource to get you to try something new. This website covers 196 countries, with some countries which don't get the credit they deserve for what they bring to the culinary world. You'll find interesting recipes at 196 flavors website.
Global Flavors with 196 Flavors
For instance, I have a real interest in African food, but it is a large continent with a lot of countries within it. From here, they showcase other countries of Africa such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda & Gabon. This is only central Africa, but this website covers other countries as well within the continent.
So take a look throughout the globe for cuisine, right in the comfort of your home, perusing these recipes to create some delicious dishes you won't have to travel far to recreate.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
It's that time of the year where America reflects on black history. Topics will include the challenges and struggles of the civil rights movement. But, on the upside, there will also be positive insights on our contributions made in the arts, including cultural and political achievements.
As a black woman who loves her heritage and and the food that reflects its history, I wanted to share with you my thoughts specifically to black cuisine.
Some of you may think of black cuisine, especially in America, that it is all about fried chicken, potato salad, barbecue ribs, grits, macaroni and cheese, etc. Although these traditional foods are delicious on special occasions, it hardly represents the depth of what our cuisine offers.
One thing to remember when it comes to black cuisine and with black people we are a "gumbo" of cultures. Basically it means, we have lots of diversity when it comes to food. Our dishes can include various ingredients and flavors of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and other countries of the world.
One other thing I want to clarify is black cuisine can be healthy and not what is typically depicted in mainstream media. When you get down to some of the basics of our cuisine it has lots of good traits for a healthy diet, such as sweet potatoes, greens (collards, turnip, mustard, kale) black eyed peas, lima beans, red beans, okra and plantains. I can go on and on, but you get the picture.
Some of my favorites dishes and you may enjoy also are seafood gumbo. It is something my parents would make regularly in my upbringing although now I create it with various ingredients to make it my own. It is basically a highly seasoned thick soup with a tomato base, with the addition of okra to thicken.
Other favorites include blackened Cajun fish, red beans and rice, braised collard greens in aromatics such as garlic, and onion with chicken stock, roasted sweet potatoes finished with a simple light topping of whipped butter and salmon patties made with Old Bay seasoning.
One cookbook to open your eyes to the diversity of black cuisine, that I highly recommend is by Chef, Marcus Samuelsson called "The Rise." It showcases a variety of recipes from chefs, writers and activists. You can see his discussion of this book here.
"The Rise" Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food
If you want to experiment with some of my recipes try my Oven Baked Okra and Succotash. Both are healthy, packed with flavor and is delicious!
As I close out this post, I thought it would be an honor to mention notable blacks in food history. Here are 16 Black food innovators, who you may not know of. They include chefs of our past in addition to cookbook authors and inventors.
16 Black Food Innovators
I hope this post gave you some insight on the vibrancy of black cuisine and I encourage you to experiment with trying something new. I think you will love it!
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One of my guilty pleasures is exploring new grocery stores or food shops to discover something new.
On one of my trips a while ago, I perused the aisles at a Caribbean store in Jamaica Queens, New York.
There were lots of things that caught my eye. But, one thing in particular I came across was a package filled with a ruby red herbal blend called "Jamaican Sorrel (Hibiscus) that caught my attention.
Using my iPhone, I did a quick google search and was impressed with what the flavor profile included. According to my search the characteristics of this impressive tea comes with fruitiness along with sour notes and tartness.
With the information I discovered, I grabbed a large bag of it to purchase and have been using it ever since.
One of the healthy benefits of this herbal tea is that it is packed with antioxidants. According to WebMD, it also hosts a number of benefits to consuming.
Why Hibiscus Tea is Good for You
One of the traditional ways of course is to enjoy it as a hot tea or as a refreshing ice tea. This is the quickest way to reap the benefits without too much fuss.
If you would like a fun way of drinking this iced, here is my version of a healthy non-alcoholic Sangria made with hibiscus. The deep red color acts as the replacement for red wine typically in sangria. To enhance and keep this drink healthy, I rely on the sweetness from a combination of fruit which includes a superfood of goji berries, the natural sweetness of cinnamon sticks and the sweetness from elderberry syrup which you can control by the serving.
Fruity Antioxidant Sangria
Besides drinking sorrel, you can get creative with using it to enhance homemade granola, or using in savory recipes such as tacos and quesadilla's. Here is a website that provides some creative ideas on using sorrel as well as these recipes.
Savory Recipes using Sorrel
I hope I have intrigued your interest enough to seek out this herbal blend and if you are already familiar with it, maybe you will try some of the suggestions I've mentioned in this post.
Until next time, be well.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
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My last blog post, I talked about healthy habits. In this post, I thought I would continue on to provide you some resources that I've personally used that you may consider to add to your collection for discovering something new.
Here are some of my favorite cookbooks that you can draw inspiration. These cookbooks provide lots of delicious, healthy recipes so you will never get bored. At the moment, here are some of my favorite cookbooks for a healthy lifestyle.
Ziggy Marley & Family Cookbook, Delicious Meals Made with Whole Organic Ingredients from the Marley Kitchen
This cookbook draws me to fond memories of my travels to the beautiful country of Jamaica. Ziggy Marley, the son of Bob Marley inspires you to get cooking in the kitchen with flavorful simple ingredients with a good dose of healthy ingredients.
Some of my favorites in the cookbook are Hempseed Pesto (no worries, you won't catch a buzz, lol.) Date & Kale Smoothie, Vegetarian Hash, Jamaican Rice & Peas, Coconut Curry Squash Soup and Coconut Escabeche (a dish made with white fish marinated in coconut milk enhanced with other flavors of citrus and spiced chilies.
The collection of recipes in this cookbook has some interesting beverages with cool names. Try the Date & Kale Smoothie, Turmeric Cooler, Spiced Lady and Healing Shot, (a spicy concoction with cayenne pepper.)
The cookbook does not contain a large list of recipes, but the recipes are simple and will keep you inspired to make more from this collection.
Bobby Flay has been around for a minute and I was pleasantly surprised with his book on a healthy lifestyle.
In this cookbook, some basics will get you to think differently on how to bring flavors together in a way where you won't feel deprived and will feel satisfied.
The cookbook starts off with healthy basics such as vinaigrettes, sauces, salsas and relishes, pickles, spice rubs & crunch. The "crunch" section has some interesting combos such as Crispy Whole Wheat Couscous, Quinoa Croutons and Frico ( a light crispy cheese cracker)
Some of my favorite recipes are the Carrot & Ginger Vinaigrette, Nutty Vinaigrette. Shrimp Pad Thai Salad, Yogurt Flatbread & Roasted Radishes with Fines Herbes.
The book also offers a medley of healthy breakfast recipes, such as oatmeal breakfast cookies, and Spelt Waffles with Blueberry Compote with Lemon Ricotta Cream.
The book is organized with the basics as I mentioned and then flows with Breakfast, Lunch, Energy Boosters, Soups, Dinner, Sides & Desserts. If you prefer cookbooks that give you the nutritional breakdown of recipes, this cookbook includes it for your reference.
2020 surely proved that people were determined to have their bread and lots of folks flocked to supermarkets to get their fair share of flour to get baking at home.
What I love about this baking cookbook on making your own healthy breads at home is that it incorporates more nutrition into them. The flours used in their collection includes whole wheat flour, spelt flour and buckwheat flour. Other nutritional ingredients include nuts and seeds and whole grains such as quinoa and millet among other additions.
What's great about this cookbook is the actual technique. We know "good" bread can be a long process, but this cookbooks uses a "no knead" technique. Basically, you mix the ingredients, give it time to rise and then shape and rise again and bake. Although not super quick, it offers a mostly no hands approach except for mixing and shaping the dough.
Another plus of these recipes is that you can bake as needed to get fresh bread anytime. The dough will last in your fridge covered for 7-10 days depending on the particular recipe.
My favorites from this cookbook is their basic Whole Grain Artisan Free Form Loaf, Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil, Rosemary Flax Baguette, Olive Spelt Bread & Oat Date Bread.
If you need gluten free options, this cookbook also provides a small collection for you to try to making your own such as baguettes, crackers and breadsticks.
Although I'm not vegan, it is helpful to have some plant based meals in your diet. This cookbook has some interesting things that you can try.
The cookbook starts off with things you should have in your pantry that will make it easy to get started with plant based cooking that will build flavor and not disappoint.
Most of the recipes are a great start for those who want to consume less meat or none. Some of my favorites so far are Plant Based Mayo (using the liquid from canned chickpeas, (how clever!) Potato & Cauliflower Bisque & Fiery Black Bean Spread.
Some other interesting recipes you may be interested in are Corn Dumplings in Coconut Corn Broth, Nicoise Salad with Plant Based Eggs & Kale & Avocado Salad with Wild Rice, Grapes and Toasted Seeds.
This cookbook has some more detailed recipes that take a little time, but these can be tried on a weekend or whenever you have extra time.
Healthy protein sources provided in this cookbook are mostly beans, legumes, lentils and tofu. They also have a few recipes using plant based meat. (I'm not a fan, because its processed.) But, that is the only thing I'm not in agreement with when it comes to this cookbook. For the most part, this is a solid cookbook on creative plant based cooking.
This is one of my older cookbooks, with great advice on how to eat healthy. It gives you nutrition advice that also include meal plans to get you started on the road to wellness. In the beginning of this book he discusses a brief history of overconsumption and how our food system has evolved over the years.
This guide includes easy to do 75 recipes to try such as Breakfast Bread Pudding, Fast Mixed Vegetable Soup, Impromtu Fried Rice & Vegetable Pancakes.
All of these recommendations are some of my favorites and feel free to make them the first try as is. As you get more comfortable, ideas may pop into your head on how to make it more to your liking with different seasonings or simple swaps that may work better for you.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
No doubt, 2020 has been a challenging year to say the least. But, with that being said, there are many who continue to choose to make positive changes to staying healthy.
Healthy can mean different things to folks (this can vary with individuals with certain health conditions who need to follow specific nutritional guidelines) But, generally speaking, each individual has to find a way, in which a healthy lifestyle can be sustainable and something they can live with for life.
When I think of my own personal journey, healthy habits was on my "to do" list and it didn't start in January but in June of 2019, which is my birth month.
My point is, your timing does not have to wait until the new year to make resolutions. If it is ,so be it. If it falls on another month of the year other than January that is fine too!
One thing I want to emphasize, is there is plenty of advice on how to get healthy and the vast amount of information online, or offline can make your head swoon.
I've received advice from dieticians, nutritionists and even personal trainers with specific diets with all varying points of view when it comes to nutrition. I've learned a lot from these experiences.
But, I have used my own critical thinking to choosing foods that works the best for me and I hope you can do the same. It really can be overwhelming, but don't let that stop you from taking action to get started.
So when it comes to you wanting to achieve healthy habits you can roll with for the long term, don't overwhelm yourself. You want to start with the mindset of "how" you are going to achieve them. Below is what I did to achieve mine.
I started with only 3 healthy habits and worked from there to create more healthy habits as time went on. My top three in the beginning were and still are what I do presently, which are the following:
1. Exercise 4-5 times per week consistently.
2. Get enough sleep (7-9 hours per night)
3. Eat nutritious food and watch portions. 80/20 rule. (This WAS (past tense) the most challenging, but is the most important.)
Now for some people, they may look at my list as too simplistic, but simplicity does work.
So the "how to achieve these healthy habits consistently, really is just a basic blueprint on the way to achieve them.
Let's start with my first healthy habit....
1. EXERCISE-4-5 times per week
The way I got to my" how" is that I started with writing down and making a mental note of the "days" of the the week that I was going to exercise and the "time" I was going to do it. For me, not too long ago, it was at 4:00 am before getting ready to hit the road for my commute into work.
Trust me, when I wrote it down it seemed crazy, but I found out I had plenty of company who thought like me (this includes folks at my local gym) who wanted to have this important healthy habit out of the way before they started their day so it gets done with no other demanding things to get in your way as the day progresses.
2. Get Enough Sleep-7-9 hours every night
To make sure I get my sleep every night, I try to stick to a scheduled time to go to sleep to ensure I get the rest that I need. Yes, the early bird catches the worm. Sleep time for me was between 8:00 pm and no later than 9:00 PM especially for workout days.
3. Eat nutritious food and watch portions. 80/20 Rule
This one is crucial, for the long term success. There is a popular saying about "You can't outrun a bad diet" As harsh as it sounds, its mostly true. Exercise does play a crucial role to burning calories through cardio and sculpting your body with strength training whether using your own body weight or with the assistance of exercise equipment. But, if you can't turn it around by eating healthy and watching your portions, your results will be minimal.
By getting your nutrition on point, besides the physical aspect of you looking better, you'll notice your energy levels are higher, you'll get better sleep, hunger will be minimal and other positive things when your body is nourished the right way.
My "how" to eating nutritious food and watching portions became from planning simple meals especially if I got busy with things. My breakfast most mornings were and still are a simple protein shake enriched with hemp, chia or flax seeds. Lunches continue with salads with lean protein and healthy carbs of my choice and dinner with more lean protein, veggies and healthy carbs.
When time allows, I will switch things up with certain dishes which have a nice balance of nutrients from ALL food groups. Also lots of water!
I also have the thought process of the 80/20 rule which means I eat nutritiously most days of the week. The 20 percent is for when I want a slightly indulgent restaurant meal that I enjoy with no guilt.
I find that when I have this mindset, it allows this healthy lifestyle to be sustainable, for ME. It can be the same for you or different.
As I mentioned there is a vast amount of information on how to get healthier with habits, but I have one particular book as one of my references that may be healthful to you by Cooking Light, called "The Food Lovers Healthy Habits Cookbook" You can find it here:
Food Lovers Healthy Habits Cookbook
This cookbook has 150 recipes but also gives great tips on how to create healthy habits and can get you started where it will get you to be more creative in the kitchen. Basically if gives you the tools so you don't easily throw in the towel. Its a nice resource to give you ideas on how to develop healthy habits which also includes a 6 week get started plan.
It can be hard to erase habits that you may have been accustomed to, but everything really starts with a mindset and making the crucial decision to take steps that move you forward to achieving a lifestyle of wellness. I'll leave you with this image which I think should get you to think of your "why?"
Here's to healthy habits and to be your best YOU, in 2021!
Eat Good! Feel Good! Look Good!
In my experience teaching healthy cooking to folks, I'm always amazed to see so many people who want to follow a recipe precisely.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, but with this mindset it doesn't allow much creativity with dishes.
With baking you should follow exactly as it is a science and there is not much room for error. For instance, if you are making homemade bread that uses yeast and you forget to add to your dough, you can pretty much believe you will have a loaf that wont rise because it's an essential ingredient. There are simple adjustments you can make, but pretty much you want to stick with the program with baking recipes.
Now with cooking, you can be creative and if you goof up on some aspects of it you can correct, most of the time.
Here are some examples of what I have made recently and I hope you will think creatively the next time you create a dish.
I chose to start making this type of mayonnaise on the regular because of the healthy ingredients used compared to a lot of commercial brands. It works well for using as a base for salad dressings, spreading on a sandwich or making a vegetable dip.
If you are interested in making your own cashew mayonnaise here is the recipe by Vitamix, they labeled as Cashew Cream Sauce.
Vitamix Cashew Cream Sauce Recipe
Now to make this base recipe more mayonnaise like, I added 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with the addition of 1/4 cup of organic soy milk and 1/4 cup of avocado oil. With these simple additions, my cashew cream sauce is now more of the texture of mayonnaise. This will keep fresh in your fridge for 7-10 days.
My next recipe I adapted is from my southern roots which is Fried Okra. The typical recipe uses cornmeal and white flour with other seasonings for the coating and is usually deep fried.
Well, I know for a fact, okra is a healthy green vegetable, so to make it more healthy, the first thing I did was to change the cooking technique from deep frying to oven frying.
For the coating, I kept the cornmeal but dropped the white flour. I replaced that flour with a gluten free flour which is called "bennecake" flour which is very similar to sesame seeds. Here is my recipe for this classic southern vegetable.
Oven Fried Okra
You can also watch my video for more detail on how to make it step by step in my YouTube video.
How to Make Oven Fried Okra
Another way to get creative is to cook globally. I have really been getting into vegetarian dishes and Indian cuisine is perfect for giving loads of flavors when it comes to vegetables. Here is another basic recipe that you can easily adapt to make to your liking using subtle changes;
Quick & Easy Red Lentil Dahl
My adaptions for this recipe, I used organic ghee to replace olive oil (Ghee is used a lot in Indian cuisine. Its a clarified butter with the milk solids removed.)
To this dish, I also used red onion instead of yellow. (red onion is classic in a lot of Indian dishes) I got more heavy handed with the garlic and especially the ginger with 1/4 cup. I also used chicken broth instead of vegetable to suit my own taste.
Although these are not big changes, the flavor to me is more in depth than if I followed the recipe exactly. Its a great base recipe, but I hope you get the idea that you can easily adjust most recipes with simple changes such as this.
My last dish is really not even a recipe and this is something you probably already do. This is just a simple sauté of sliced cabbage and carrots that were sliced with a vegetable peeler to create ribbons.
I then took this mixture and sautéed in a little olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt and finished off with a splash of coconut vinegar. To completely finish the vegetables off I sprinkled with dried chives. But you could easily use fresh herb of your choice if you got it on hand.
As you can see, cooking certain recipes you can have a lot of flexibility to make them to your own desire and taste. The next time you see a recipe you want to make, think of some ways you think it would taste better or to make it uniquely your own.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
If you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will need to have a plan. This plan requires action and can involve the process of making basic meals.
I know some people either love it or hate it. But, meal planning does not have to be fancy or require long hours prepping and standing in your kitchen.
In fact, if you are new to eating healthy, keeping it simple makes sense.
But, also if you are the type of person who just doesn't enjoy prepping and cooking, you still can make a plan to make healthy meals without too much of a time restraint.
For example, breakfast could be a protein shake with healthy fats, fiber, protein and carbohydrates. Lunch can be a rainbow colored salad with clean protein and dinner can be with another clean protein of your choice with green vegetables.
Meal planning also depends upon several factors like the number of people eating, meal times, special dietary concerns, budget, available foods, recipes on hand and likes and dislikes of everyone who will be eating.
Begin by choosing foods and recipes that you like and know how to prepare well and that fit into everyone's dietary plans. If one or more people have special needs, like diabetes, plan ahead for substitutions either in the food preparation or food substitution for that individual or for those individuals.
There are a few things to note when making meal choices and menu planning. First, some foods may be advertised a certain way, but that doesn't mean you can't experiment. in the kitchen. For instance, breakfast can be served for lunch or dinner and so called dinner food can become breakfast. As long as the food choices you are making are sound and are nutrient dense, you will be good!
Say for instance, you are in the mood for breakfast food but its lunch time. You can make or find a quality product such as waffles made from healthy wheat or whole grains. To keep it healthy, opt to have the waffles with fresh fruits instead of sugary syrup and heavy butter.
Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making macaroni and cheese, so host mac-n-cheese night on Wednesdays, for example. Then alternate different vegetable combinations, colors and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let boredom take over on Wednesdays with the same routine!) If you are looking for a healthy mac and cheese recipe, check out my recipe below:
Healthy Vegan Macaroni & Cheese
To help with family food budget concerns, buy in bulk for common items when you can when there are sales at supermarkets. Frozen fruits and vegetables are good choices for bulk items.
Here is a thing to remember with regards to dietary planning. It's unfortunate, but fast foods, especially those that are high in fat content (fried, greasy foods), are often cheaper than good, healthy food choices.
For example, lean organic grass fed beef and wild caught salmon, cost more than high fat beef or farm raised salmon.
Even if quality animal protein is higher, it still makes sense to buy the premium product for better health. Consider, going meatless on some days or even two meals out of your day.
A simple healthy meal can be soups with plant based proteins you can create with variety to assist with reducing costs for grocery shopping. These small changes really do help when it comes to curbing your grocery expenses. Not only are they delicious, but your body with respond in a positive way.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator