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!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator