Wednesday, December 22, 2010

109 and Doing Fine: Additional Wholesome Wisdom from Bernando Lapallo

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Hello! Hope your Christmas preparations have been and continue to be a source of joy!

However, if the stresses of the season are wearing you down, turn on some wonderful Classical Christmas music, find an old fashioned rocking chair, and cradle your cares away! On the blog today, I thought I'd take a break from the hustle and bustle, and focus on something new to help improve your health and vitality. In my constant quest to return to vibrant health, I ran across a person whose excellent health and clean living principles never ceases to amaze me...

I first learned about Bernando Lapallo through Paul Nison's "Raw Life Health Show" interview, about a year ago. I wrote a post about that interview here. Since that time, he has become quite popular! He has been interviewed over a number media venues: online radio shows, blogs, newspapers, and even television news stations. Though there are a number of centenarians living in the United States, Mr. Lapallo stands out above the rest with his excellent health and mental capability, and his zest to keep on living! I have even heard that he would like to open a restaurant, and is now trying to reach age 140!

What are some of his secrets? Well, for the full story, you can purchase his book "Age Less, Live More: Achieving Health and Vitality at 107 and Beyond." I have not yet purchased his book, but in the meantime, I have been online listening to interviews with him on YouTube and reading articles that divulge some of his secrets to health and longevity. In one, he shares a recipe for his morning superfood smoothie:

Bernando’s Superfood Smoothie

8-16 ounces fresh juice and water
½-1 cut up fruit (particularly blueberries)
2 Tbsp Dr. Schulze’s SuperFood Plus
1 tsp garlic paste (recipe below)
Dropperful of Dr. Schulze’s Echinacea Plus

Blend ingredients in a high speed blender, and drink in good health.

Bernando’s Garlic Paste

1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup garlic

Soak garlic overnight. The next morning, peel, and blend in blender (keep from exposure to air) with olive oil to make a paste. Keep in a tightly closed jar.

I've been eating this smoothie (okay, okay, minus the garlic paste so far) for about a week. It's quite filling and satisfying. I use freshly squeezed orange juice and also add a couple of dried stevia leaves to sweeten a bit. The Dr. Schulze's Superfood Plus is an excellent combination of ingredients that I think takes the place of a few vitamin and mineral supplements. Here's the (all organic/wild-crafted) ingredient list:

Herbal Ingredients: Spirulina Algae, Blue-Green Algae, Chlorella Broken-Cell Algae, Barley, Alfalfa & Wheat Grasses, Purple Dulse Seaweed, Beet Root, Spinach Leaf, Acerola Cherry, Rose Hips, Orange & Lemon Peels & Palm Fruit in a base of Dr. Schulze’s Proprietary Non-Fermentable Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Yeast

Just another way to get in those all important GREENS. :) There must be something to it... 109 and still doing fine...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Great Resource for Finding Safe Personal Care Products

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As a follow-up to the last post, I thought you might be interested in a great resource for evaluating the safety of your personal care products. I use it all the time to find the least toxic shampoos, soap, hairspray, toothpaste... you name it. It's called "Skin Deep," the Environmental Working Group's cosmetic safety database. But, like I said, it covers a lot more than just cosmetics. You can look up products by type of product or by the company name. If you go to the advanced search, you can even choose to have the search engine list only products that "do not include 'fragrance' as an ingredient" or are "made with some organically grown ingredients." It's great! Check it out: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Follies of Festive Fragrances


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Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas, it seems, without the scents of the season to fill the air!

Around this time of year, our senses are enlivened by fragraces profound and varied: festive perfumes, spicy potpourri, calming scented candles, Glade plug-ins, even Febreze or furniture polish in anticipation of company.

As nice as some of those fragrances may be, they do have a dark side. In fact, they, like the proverbial Grinch, may be working behind the scenes to steal away your gift of health, while you are in the midst of your celebrations. Beware of the word "fragrance" on any household or personal care product, and steer clear of most perfumes. "Fragrance" is a word used to disguise the use of a bouquet of cancer-causing chemicals. Added fragrances can also seriously disrupt the Endocrine system (your hormones: think, thyroid problems, for instance) and over-burden the liver. You really don't want estrogen-mimicking chemicals in your body-- and they WILL be absorbed through your skin!-- Too much estrogen has been linked to a multitude of serious diseases and health conditions. But that's a topic for another post.

According to the Environmental Working Group's report, "Not So Sexy," the average fragrant product tested contained 14 chemicals not listed elsewhere on the label. Many of these chemicals have never been tested for safety. Some of those chemicals actually accumulate in your tissues. The more you use of these products, the higher your body's toxic burden. This does not exactly tip the scale in your favor in your endeavor to live disease-free and healthy.

Things to Avoid?
  • Scented toxic household products
  • Perfumes
  • Scented lotions & potions, shampoos, hairsprays, etc, etc.
  • Scented candles
  • Potpourris with synthetic fragrance added
  • Air fresheners like Glade
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Anything else that has "fragrance" on the label, rather than plant extracts or oils
The good news? There are healthier alternatives. Be old fashioned. Be GREEN. Use fragrances that occur in nature! Did you know young women used to put a few drops of vanilla extract behind their ears as a perfume? Okay... well, we have improved on options since then!
  • Natural household products like the brand Seventh Generation at health food stores, or even some national chains like Target. If you're really ambitious (actually, it doesn't take that much ambition), make your own! You can use basic ingredients like white vinegar and baking soda, and add your own scents with natural essential oils.
  • Natural perfumes are not as easy to find locally, but they are available online. One good brand is Miessence, which is actually USDA certified organic, and uses traditional methods of perfumery. While synthetic perfumes have a history of only about a century, traditional perfumery has been in use for 4,000 years! Now, real perfume is not exactly inexpensive... So, if buying perfume ready-made is not in your price range, you can always try making it at home! It involves essential oils, some alcohol, and perhaps some jojoba oil. There are all kinds of how-to's online. Or... if you want a really lazy way... just use a tiny amount of essential oil, dabbed on your wrists or neck. Jasmine or ylang-ylang are nice floral scents that are typically used in perfumes. Voila! No more toxic perfume!
  • Natural personal care products are easy to find at health food stores too. Or again, some of the box stores like Target are starting to carry Burt's Bees! Always check for "fragrance" on the label though, just to be safe. Or... just look for the "fragrance-free" variety of whatever you buy. The fragrance-free versions are very popular at the health food store where I work.
  • Scented candles just aren't necessary. There are other ways to fill your home with delightful aromas. Check this out, from ehow.com:
Vanilla Spice Air Freshener: To make a vanilla spice air freshener for the holidays, place a cup of water, a cup of white vinegar, one tbsp. natural vanilla extract, one tsp. whole cloves, and one cinnamon stick in a small pot. Bring them to a boil, then turn down the heat, simmering all ingredients for two to three minutes. Allow the liquid to cool before straining out the cloves and cinnamon stick, and pouring into a spray bottle. These natural spray air fresheners should be sprayed into the air in the center of a room, avoiding walls and furniture, to prevent potential staining or other discoloration.
If you want the comforting glow of flickering candles, I recommend beeswax candles. They offer a nice subtle honey scent, and (BONUS) clean the air too! The negative ions they emit actually help remove toxins from the air! So, go support your local beekeeper, and buy a good supply of beeswax candles! You'll find candlemakers often mold candles in a variety of styles, from the traditional honey-comb look, to tapers, to tea lights and votives, to candles made in the shape of bee hives or pinecones! The color is neutral enough to complement any palette, and festively gilded to enhance your Christmas decor!
  • There are all kinds of resources online for making your own natural air fresheners, potpourris, naturally-scented cleaning products... etc etc. Just surf the web, and have fun!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Greetings From the "Little Cabin in the Wood"


Christmas is less than two weeks away!

Where did the time go? Goodness, it's been a while since I have done any blogging. Autumn seemed to come and go overnight, and we are now quite in the heart of winter, at least here in the north country! Tonight, the temperature is predicted to drop to -18... a good time to do things like listening to "A Prairie Home Companion" as I am now (We Minnesota Lutherans do get a kick out of it!), and take some leisurely steps toward Christmas preparations.

Things certainly have changed since the days when I would start decorating right after the Thanksgiving dishes were cleared! Cut-out sugar cookies are also a thing of the past, since I started focusing on more healthful eats. However, all is not lost! Traditional Christmas cookies are not requisite for holiday happiness; there are a lot of delicious alternatives to comfort and satisfy. Actually, one of my latest discoveries is cinnamon tea-- quite simple, and quite seasonal!

Cinnamon Tea
For a cup of tea, all you need is one cinnamon stick (preferably Ceylon, which is "true" cinnamon), broken into pieces. Cover with boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Strain out cinnamon sticks, and enjoy!

Cinnamon is great for keeping your blood sugar under control (just in case you DO plan to eat those sugar cookies!), and has been shown to improve brain function-- especially the memory. So, enjoy in good health! In fact, cinnamon tea is the preferred beverage of a gentleman I mentioned in an earlier post, who is now 109 years old, and still in excellent health. He drinks cinnamon tea every morning. Perhaps that's one of his secrets to never being sick a day in his life... It's worth trying! Try some instead of your morning coffee. --After all, "variety is the spice of life" and cinnamon is a good spice to start with!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cool as a Cucumber...

Creamy Cucumber-Mint Salad with Borage Flowers
...and getting cooler! As the nighttime temperatures have been dropping, we have been doing our best to make use of the last of the garden produce and fresh herbs. Off-season cucumbers from the grocery store just aren't the same! So... we have to savor them while we can. I love eating plain, salted cucumbers, as a rule, but once in a while it is nice to enjoy them in a new and dressed up venue, which will still enhance their delicate flavor. Here's a recipe to help you enjoy your last cucumbers of the season:

Creamy Cucumber-Mint Salad with Borage Flowers

1 lb cucumbers (about eight small cucumbers)
4 Tbsp chopped fresh mint + whole leaves for garnish
1 cup of diluted coconut milk or plain yogurt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt
a handful of fresh borage flowers

Scrub cucumbers and peel alternating strips, so that you have striped cucumbers. Thinly slice and put in a bowl. Add chopped mint, coconut milk or yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt, for that matter!), coriander, lemon juice, and salt, and toss until well-combined. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with whole mint leaves and borage flowers. Chill before serving. Serves 4.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Capture Fall... Make a Terrarium!

 
 As the leaves turn color, the wind blows colder, and the days grow shorter, it can make a person a little wistful that summer is over, and that we are slowly making our autumn transition into the cold winter ahead. At such a time, one may wish to hold onto anything green and alive before all is covered by a blanket of snow. Well, it is possible! ...with Terrariums!

A terrarium is a bit of nature captured in glass. It often has a cover, but not always. The cover makes a terrarium very easy to take care of, as it minimizes the need for the live plants within to be watered. All that is needed is an occasional light mist. The closed environment preserves the moisture and makes its own small ecosystem. All that is need is a glass container (bowl, candy jar, cheese ball platter, etc), some soil, some moss, perhaps some plants, flowering or not (ferns are especially traditional), and any other gem of nature one would wish to add to the mini garden or piece of nature: stones, pinecones, colored leaves, a piece of birchbark... the possibilies really are endless.

Terrariums were very popular during the Victorian Era, after the concept was discovered by Nathaniel Ward. Read the history here. The "Wardian Case" style of terrarium is named after him. His book on the subject, On the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases is available to read online here. A very helpful, up-to-date book on the subject, with artistic ideas and good advice is The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature. I checked it out at our local library and found it to be both helpful and inspiring. "Apartment Therapy" has some inspirational pictures of terrariums here.

Terrariums don't have to be complicated at all. Here are a couple other resources:
How to Create a No-Fuss Garden: Terrariums give you low-maintenance beauty all year long
Grow a Mini-Garden


My Terrarium

Inside My Terrarium
My dad really "gets into" terrariums... Literally. A Greenhouse is merely a giant terrarium! Here is my dad working on our permanent greenhouse, which will help extend the growing season for those of us in the northern part of the country:

Dad working in the Greenhouse. Photo taken by my Mom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enjoy Fall & Get Healthy: Go Foraging!


Sumac berries, Blackberries, and Rose hips from a recent forage

Ah, Fall... a time when colors change, and everything seems to be dressed in varying shades of red, orange, brown, and gold: the leaves, the garden bounty... nature itself. As beach days and barbeques give way to school days and soup dinners, it is nice to be able to make use of these lingering longer days by gathering treasures of nature to pleasure the senses.

On a leisurely walk to the lake over the past weekend, I was delighted to find a few last blackberries, some rose hips, and sumac berries. Foraging this time of year awards a number of satisfactions of both sight and taste, as we wish to savor the season by bringing the outdoors in:

Decor: The following gems of the season all lend a lovely autumn flair to centerpieces, fireplace mantles, window sills, office desk, or anyplace that needs to be "spiced up'" with some fall decor:  

Sumac berries
Acorns
Pressed leaves
Pinecones
Crab apples
Rose hips
Small stones

The addition of locally-made beeswax candles adds a soft amber glow to such an arrangement, when lighted.

A Nature-inspired Centerpiece on our Dining Room Table

Culinary Delights: Some of the nature's offerings to the culinary scene include:

Blackberries (the last of the season)
Steep about five leaves in a cup of boiling water for a light tea.


Sumac berries
Sumac-ade: Pick about half a dozen clusters, place them in a pitcher, pour cold water over them, and bruise them a bit with your hand. Let steep in a cold place for a while, until the water turns a light pink. Sweeten with stevia, honey, maple syrup, or unprocessed sugar (Sucanat or Rapadura), or enjoy plain.


Apples (Perhaps a sweeter variety in your own yard!)

Rose hips
Rose hip tea: Cover 3-4 chopped fresh rose hips with a cup of boiling water and steep for 3-5 minutes. Sweeten with stevia, or as desired.


Dandelion roots (By this time of year, the leaves are pretty bitter)
Dandelion root "coffee"

    
    Apple picking from the tree of very generous neighbors

    Don't forget your cultivated corner of nature: Your Garden! (or a Farmer's Market). Make use of the fresh herbs while you have them available. Turn basil and parsley into pesto, and see which herbs you can easily nurture on a window sill or in a sun room over the fall and winter.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    End of Summer, Beginning of Fall

    Canoe trip on the Bigfork River

    After inadvertently taking an extended summer vacation from blogging, I'm back behind the desk with my apple and books... and a freshened-up look for the blog, which is still in progress as I hit the books to catch up on my technology knowledge... !

    The above picture I took during a short canoe trip I took with three of my high school friends in July... a beautiful segment of the Bigfork River, in northern Minnesota. Camping along the way brought out some new fashion ideas, in the way of mosquito netting: stylish hats and jackets that could even rival tea time or bridge party apparel! (think netted hats of the 1940s and 50s)

    Besides canoeing, this summer has been full of all kinds of summer fun: swimming, hiking in the woods, picnicking, attending or singing in weddings, eating garden produce, berry-picking, flea marketing, swing dancing to big band music on a lake, attending or participating in living history events, traveling, reading... Oh yes-- I do actually work too! Now that summer adventures and travels have come to an end, it's time to get back to class! Yes, I've already graduated from college, but still there is that desire to attend classes and/or listen to lectures. Especially in the fall. I guess about 20 years of the pattern makes the habit difficult to break!

    So, this fall I have so far decided to take up Watercolor, Knitting, Crocheting, Photography... attend a seminar on essential oils... and cultivate the much neglected singing voice with voice lessons. No Organic Chemistry or Statistics or Macroeconomics here! Working at the health food store and playing the pipe organ for church should round out my daylight hours this fall, and keep me doing the things I love best.

    The care-free days of summer are over, but good things lie ahead! Up next: fun ways to enjoy fall, improve your health, and feel your best!

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Dandelion Pesto... the Delicious Result


    Here it is!

    A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a recipe for making dandelion pesto, and a few days ago I got around to trying it. I can't say it has an exotic flavor or anything. With the basil in it, it still has the taste of regular pesto, however the dandelion greens do add a bit of bitterness. However, the result was definitely worthwhile, and yet another way to get excellent greens in your diet: eat gourmet and cleanse your liver too!
    I enjoyed the dandelion pesto on broccoli and cauliflower florets at an al fresco lunch with a friend ~ a lovely way to spend a day in May! :)

    Again, dandelion greens have all kinds of health benefits, so it's well worth your while to reap these wily weeds!

    Vitamins A, B, and C
    Beta Carotene
    Calcium
    Magnesium
    Phosphorus

    Look at this list for all the benefits of dandelions:

    Want more recipes for using dandelions? Check these out:

    You can use Google to find all kinds of other ways to use dandelions...

    Dandelion wine
    Dandelion root tea (easily found at a health food store, and a great coffee substitute!)
    Dandelion salads (you can use both the leaves and the flowers)
    Dandelion fritters
    Dandelion omelets
    Dandelion floral jam
    Dandelion soup

    ...Use the greens any way you would use bitter greens (pizza topping?) and the flowers wherever you would use any other edible flower. I used the greens in a fresh juice (with green apples, romaine, and ginger) yesterday, and in an omelet (with spinach and chives) today.

    While weeding your garden, you can put together a soup or salad at the same time! Happy weeding and eating... : )  

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Foraging Fun: Fiddlehead Ferns!


    Getting bored with your green vegetables? Try Fiddlehead ferns!

    In early spring, when fern heads are still lifting up their shy heads after a long winter's slumber... it is the perfect time to glean! While the fronds are still tightly coiled, they can be plucked and eaten raw on a salad, sauteed with mushrooms as a side dish, cooked in a soup, or tossed with pasta. You can basically use them as you would asparagus. The flavor is definitely complemented by some good tasting butter. (the secret of the French culinary arts!) : )

    If you can't find them while foraging in the woods (be sure you know for sure which ones are edible), you will often be able to find Fiddleheads at farmer's markets or even in certain upscale or specialty grocery stores. In fact, I even saw them at a Whole Foods Market a couple of weeks ago. I'd have to say though, at $19.99 per pound, it's nice to be able to harvest them from our very own yard... 

    The benefits of eating Fiddleheads?
    • Something new and interesting to make mealtime exciting! : )
    • An additional way to get greens, and therefore the cleansing, detoxifying capabilities of chlorophyll, in your diet
    Additional tips:
    • Fiddleheads spoil easily, so be sure to use them as soon as possible after picking or purchasing.
    • Be sure to clean them very well, and keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
    • Cut off the stem at about two inches from the coiled portion, as the stem begins to get bitter at that point.
    • Some resources recommend cooking them well to remove any possible antinutrients or possible bacteria (less likely, I would think, when very fresh).

      Have you ever tried Fiddlehead ferns? What is your favorite way to enjoy them?

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Eggplant Bruschetta


    Traditional Italian bruschetta is an appetizer that consists of small toasted bread slices, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. There are many topping variations, such as chopped vegetables, olives, tomatoes, cured meats, puree of legumes, etc.  This recipe features eggplant, standing in for the traditional bread. ...Just another way to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet! This recipe is from goneraw.com, and is listed under Eggplant Mini Pizzas, but to me they seem more like bruschetta. In light of that, the topping may be added after the eggplant "toasts" are crisp, rather than putting the bruschetta in the dehydrator already assembled. Nutritional yeast is a nice addition for a non-dairy (and B-vitamin-rich) bit of parmesan cheese flavor.

    Eggplant Buschetta

    Ingredients:
    2 Eggplants, sliced in rounds 1/4 - 1/2 in. thick
    2 cup Tomatoes, Chopped/sliced
    ¼ cup Olive Oil
    2 tablespoon Basil, chopped
    1 clove Garlic, minced/pressed
    ¼ cup Onions, chopped
    2 tablespoon Oregano, dried

    Preparation:
    1.Topping: In a bowl, mix all ingredients except the Eggplant.
    2.Spoon topping onto eggplant rounds, and dehydrate at 118 (or desired temp) untill eggplant becomes crispy around the edges (about 8-12 hours.) *

    *I'm sure you could also bake them in the oven on the lowest temperature setting (150), if you don't mind that they are no longer "raw."



    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Homemade Peppermint Patties to Celebrate Spring

    The peppermint is up in our garden, and I have been using it for a number of recipes. However, I'm afraid the poor plants don't have a lot of leaves to spare just yet. So, to still enjoy that fresh burst of flavor, but without stripping the peppermint plants of all their leaves... here's a recipe (or rather, more of a how-to) for making your own peppermint patties with peppermint oil, while still avoiding chocolate and sugar! It's easy too.

    The idea was inspired by the recipe on Elana's Pantry.

    Peppermint Patties

    For the "chocolate" coating, use equal parts of:
    • coconut oil (melted)
    • lightly roasted carob 
    I used about a Tbsp of each, just to make a small batch (I believe I made only 4 patties). Mix together and set aside.

    For the filling:
    • 1/4 cup (?) unsweetened coconut (processed in coffee grinder)
    • 2 Tbsp (?) raw honey (It tends to be thicker than heated honey)
    • a couple drops of peppermint oil (to taste)
    Mix the filling ingredients together (I used my hands) until fully blended. The resulting paste should be thick enough to roll into small balls, and then flatten into patties. Put in freezer to make them firm. This also helps for making the coating cool on them right away. Then dip/coat in carob mixture and put in freezer on waxed paper-lined trays. They may need a second coat.

    Enjoy!

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    It's May!

    ... And I haven't posted since February! Yikes! Sometimes the chronic fatigue wins over doing things I would enjoy doing... like posting here, of course!

    The picture above is one I took just today, during a leisurely walk in the woods. These are bleeding hearts, from one of our flower beds. I see the daffodils are up too, plus a lot of wild flowers... and some wild edibles! It's that time of year once again... time to find some food outside!

    Currently, some of the wild edibles available are wild leeks (ramps), dandelion greens (Great for those green smoothies!), violets (both leaves and flowers are great for colorful salads), fiddlehead fern heads (saute in butter or ghee), moral mushrooms (Minnesota's state mushroom!-- saute in butter or ghee)... and on a recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to try miner's lettuce... Yum!

    Here's a recipe from Sergei Boutenko for
    Dandelion Pesto

    3:½ cup dandelion leaves and flowers
    ½ cup sunflower seeds
    2–3 cloves garlic
    ¼ cup basil greens- fresh or dried
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    ½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
    ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

    Place all ingredients in blender and blend thoroughly. Add more oil or lemon juice if necessary. Serve as you would regular pesto, for example, on crackers, bread, or pasta. Decorate with dandelion flowers. Serves 3.

    He has a great video on the health benefits of dandelions. They really are an amazing weed (food)!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    An Afternoon Tea Featuring Buckwheat Shortbread


    I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day! And... continuing in the spirit of a holiday whose celebration reached its height in the Victorian age, I thought a post on another Victorian tradition, afternoon tea, would be fun.

    I started subscribing to Tea Time magazine several month ago, after being introduced to it through my favorite, Victoria magazine. Tea Time has articles on tea shoppes around the country, different kinds of tea, tea etiquette... and recipes for afternoon tea. I noticed, however, that recipes that accompany tea are usually full of white flour and white sugar, and not exactly conducive to living a healthy lifestyle. Since I am eating gluten-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, and eating mostly raw food, the typical teatime menu needs a major make-over.

    The setting above includes Organic white tea, raw (dehydrated) Buckwheat Shortbread , and raw, sugar-free Blackberry jam!

    The recipe for the Buckwheat Shortbread follows. If you don't have a dehydrator, use a preheated 325 degree oven, and bake for 22-28 minutes. For the original recipe, and some additional tips, see the original recipe (Buckwheat Graham Crackers) at http://www.juliemorris.net/blog/. (My substitution of carob for the mequite powder makes them seem more like shortbread to me).

    Buckwheat Shortbread
    2 cups buckwheat flour
    ¼ cup roasted carob powder (easily found at natural food stores)
    ¼ cup ground flax seeds (freshly ground in coffee grinder)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp sea salt
    ½ cup date sugar (easily found at natural food stores)
    1/3 cup diluted coconut milk
    ¼ cup maple syrup
    ¼ cup coconut oil
    2 Tbsp vanilla extract

    DIRECTIONS:

    In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients with a spoon until combined. Stir in the wet ingredients, and knead with hands until a dough has formed. If dough is too dry, add additional coconut milk, a little at a time. Dough will be firm. Place one chilled dough half on a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray and use a rolling pin to roll very flat – about 1/8 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into squares. Use a fork to score the crackers with decorative dots. Repeat with second dough half and place on a second Teflex-lined tray. Dehydrate crackers at 105-115 degrees for 4-5 hours or so, or until dried out and crisp. (They become crisper even as they sit out). Makes about 5 dozen 2” crackers, and will keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.

    The Blackberry Jam was really easy. I just thawed out some wild blackberries from the freezer (I picked them last summer) and mashed them really well with a fork till they became a liquidy sauce. I think I used 1 cup. Then I stirred in some chia seeds (2 Tbsp), which are a natural thickener. They come from South America and have been called a "superfood" of the Incas. They are becoming more and more popular and available. The white variety is called "Salba." I also used a packet of Stevia, which is a powder made from the stevia plant, another product of South America. I used Stevia to sweeten tea, and all kinds of things. After stirring the ingredients together, you just let the mixed sit and thicken. --and that's all there is to it!

    If you don't have chia and stevia just sitting around, try blending some frozen berries with some unsulfured dried fruit (especially dates, prunes, figs, or dried apricots) that has been soaking in hot water (toss the water). It will make a nice thick "jam" without any sugar or gelatin... or hassle! (I think strawberries would be especially good with this shortbread).


    Enjoy a nice afternoon tea on a cold February day.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Who Needs Valentines? I Got Bread in the Mail!


    It came! My bread!!! I even walked down the long driveway in sub-zero temperatures just to get it!

    I had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of my bread order from Grindstone Bakery ever since I placed the order a week and a half ago. (They only ship on Tuesdays to make sure you get it fresh, and I had ordered too late in the day, the Monday before). How exciting to be able to eat bread again! Okay, I know that sounds a little enthusiastic about mere bread, but hey-- when you're eating mostly raw food, gluten free, and vegan, bread is an anomaly, and the idea of eating a sandwich is really quite exciting!

    Besides that, this bread is special. Not only is it gluten-free (made with quinoa and millet), but it is also vegan (no eggs, butter, milk), yeast-free, sugar-free, whole grain, organic, naturally fermented sourdough bread, which is baked at low temperatures in a brick oven by an Italian-born baker. It is truly artisan bread. I ordered four different kinds, and split them with a friend, so we could get a good sampling of their gluten-free breads (They also have just wheat-free breads, made with low-gluten grains, such as oat, rye, spelt, and barley). We got a Plain loaf, a Sprouted Seeds loaf, a Cinnamon & Raisins loaf, and a High-Fiber Flax loaf.

    See? Now aren't you excited? Wait till you see my first sandwhich in 6 months:



    Now that's something to perk up a cold February day! Mmmmm.... Wanna know what's on it???
    Mixed greens, tomato, sunflower seed sprouts (which I sprouted on our downstairs windowsill), homemade guacamole, Italian herb seasoning, and garlic salt. So good... I think I'll be dreaming about it tonight!

    Check out Grindstone bakery's website: http://grindstonebakery.com/index.html to read about their philosophy on bread-making (I recommend reading the "Health Benefits" section) and to see what other goodies they have available. (The cookies look pretty good!)



    Clockwise starting at "noon": QM Cinnamon & Raisin, Quinoa-Millet w/Sprouted Seeds loaf, High Flax Loaf, Quinoa-Millet Plain loaf

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    "Grapefruit Diet... Might Seem a Little Severe"


    Well, I'm definitely not going to discourse upon Weird Al's parody on Zut Suit Riot, but the song does seem to come in mind when discussing the benefits of grapefruit in one's diet. : )

    We are nearing the end of grapefruit season, so get some while you can! Grapefruit really do have some wonderful assets to promote wellness... not to mention flavor!

    Why eat Grapefruit?
    • Great source of Vitamin C
    • Has an enzyme which burns body fat (hence, "Grapefruit diet")
    • Rich in antioxidant lycopene
    • Anti-cancer fruit
    • Alkalizes the body (disease cannot thrive in an alkaline environment)
    • Great liver detoxer
    • Adds a wonderful fresh flavor in the winter, when we crave anything that tastes like sunshine. : )
    Ways to enjoy grapefruit:
    • Cut in half, and eat with a spoon for breakfast
    • Peel like an orange to retain the most of its white pith, which is teeming with benefits in its bioflavonoids (also called Rutin or Vitamin P), which help you to absorb the Vitamin C, strengthen blood vessels, and provide general anti-inflammatory activity.   
    • A glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
    • Grapefruit juice in a salad dressing (mix with olive oil, salt, and honey)
    • Grapefruit sections on a salad
    • Make a citrus salad, mixing grapefruit with orange and pomelo sections, and tossing with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and some mint chiffonnade.
    • Use organic grapefruit to make a honey-candied citrus peel, and coat in ginger powder or fine coconut powder (instead of sugar) to keep it from sticking.
    For more info, see Grapefruit on the World's Healthiest Foods page.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Disconnect to Recharge


    It's now 6 weeks after Christmas!

    How goes it? Have you recovered yet, or are you still suffering the effects of weeks and weeks of busyness and very little rest?

    The winter months are supposed to be a time for us to sleep more (hence the shorter daylight hours), and rest our bodies, so that we'll be ready for the longer, activity-filled days of spring, summer, and fall. There is, after all, a time for everything. Springtime is the time for planting gardens, summer for tending them, fall for harvesting. Winter is provided to prepare us to do all those things.

    The problem is... well, technology. We now have electricity, so that we no longer get up with the sun and go to bed when it sets. In fact, we have all kinds of distractions to keep us up late at night, stressed, and unable to get that much-needed rest and relaxation. The television, the telephone, the computer/internet, cell phones --text messaging, kitchen appliances... there's something interesting on T.V., someone's on the phone, gotta catch up on e-mails, someone's on AIM, there are cookies to bake, projects online...  It's no wonder everyone is over-worked, stressed out, over-tired, and can't relax! What did people used to do before electricity anyway? What would you do if there was no T.V., no computer, no phone... nothing electronic... to capture your attention? Does that concept seem scary, or more like a welcome relief? If you could just take a break from some of those things for a while, think of all the possibilities!

    You could:
    • Watch the animals outside your window: birds, squirrels, deer... they provide some great entertainment.
    • Read: Catch up on some classic literature
    • Improve your mind and dexterity with some knitting or juggling
    • Have a meaningful conversation with someone who is actually sitting with you in the same room!
    • Play a board game -- It's good for creative thinking and problem-solving... and it's FUN! Try Scattergories, Balderdash, Loaded Questions, Imaginiff, Chess, Uno, Phase 10... the possibilities are endless.
    • Go to bed early. ("Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," according to Benjamin Franklin)
    Try recreating a time before all these distractions came into existence... even just for a weekend. For some inspiration, or if you really need some specific guidelines, try Eras of Elegance website's "Victorian weekend." Here's their introduction with the "rules":  (Enjoy!)
    Victorian Weekend Retreat

    Too often our modern conveniences and daily routines can create the emotional and spiritual clamor and clutter that snuff out our peace and joy. Every once in a while, try spending one weekend--just two days--enjoying the simple pastimes of 19th century life! Unplug your television, turn off your telephone ringer, and even say goodbye to your computer for a few days! And get your family and friends involved; ask your best friend or dearest sister to try out our weekend schedule with you, and let your children in on the fun! So if you're up for a weekend that will rejuventate the soul and refresh the spirit, keep reading.


    Here are the ground rules. First, no television, computer, stereo, Sony playstation, etc. Remember, there were no televisions or computers during the 19th century! Commit yourself for two days not to flip on the tube, check your email, or surf the Web. Hey, at least you can still use electricity. Second, limit your telephone use. Okay, so a few Victorian families had a telephone, but they certainly didn't have their cell phones glued to their ears as they walked through the cobbled streets or picked berries in the field. Of course, we wouldn't want you to miss out on truly important news. So turn off your ringer and the volume of your answering machine, and only check your messages and return crucial phone calls after 9 p.m. (see our schedule). Third, no processed, pre-packaged or microwaved foods. Part of the fun (and perhaps the challenge) this weekend is to try your hand and preparing fresh meals from scratch. Remember, a hundred years ago there were no fast food drive-ins, Chinese takeouts, microwaves, food processors, and the like!


    So if you're still game to try our weekend challenge, find a free weekend in the next few weeks (and keep it free). Browse our schedule beforehand, and collect all the items (if any) you will need. At a minimum, find a novel written by your favorite Victorian author; stock up on tea, fresh fruits and vegetables; and find materials for your Victorian craft project. We invite you to make modifications of our schedule and to add your own special touches. For example, if you can find a few couples to join in on the fun, consider spending Saturday evening recreating a Victorian ball or getting together for a 19th century game of cards. Then make sure that you take care of any pressing business on Friday night. If you have bills to pay, or a major project at the office that needs to be finished, do your best to get it done before your weekend starts so you won't have the unnecessary stress.

    To see the rest, including a "schedule" for a relaxing weekend, go to http://www.erasofelegance.com/living/retreat.html

      Tuesday, February 2, 2010

      A Breath of Fresh Air


      Did you know that February is National "Care About Your Indoor Air" Month?

      The picture above is of the lake across the road from our house... last summer. Doesn't it look pristine? It doesn't quite look like that now! Nope-- It's all ice and snow. We've had a lot of sub-zero days this winter, which has unfortunately kept me indoors most of the time. I know, I really ought to brave the cold weather and be a real northern Minnesota girl. Well, maybe tomorrow. :)

      When I do go for a walk outside, I love to breathe in the crisp air. It really feels like you're getting more oxygen per breath in the winter. The contrast between the fresh outdoor air and the air that we breathe inside our house each day is quite noticeable. It really makes a person long for warm weather and the opportunity to spend full days outside. But... it's just the beginning of February, so that means we have a couple months to go yet. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for braving the chilly weather outside or doing our best to improve the air we breathe indoors.

      What's wrong with the air in our homes? Well... here are some facts for you:
      • Studies show (and the EPA states) that indoor air pollution can be 2 to 5, and even up to 100 times as bad as outdoor air pollution.
      • One of these pollutants may be Formaldehyde, present in most buildings, which can leach into the air.
      • Polluted air can lead to heart diseaserespiratory problems, asthma, and even cancer
      • If health problems have not progressed to the point of serious disease, one may still experience something called "Sick Building Syndrome," which is characterized by chronic nasal congestion, fatigue, reduced cognitive functioning, headaches, dizziness, and an increased sensitivity to odors.
      Most people spend 80-90% of their time indoors.


      Where does this air pollution come from?
      (These are just a few sources)
      • Outgassing from paints & stains, furniture, carpet, other building materials
      • Biological pollutants (mold, bacteria, viruses, dust mites, animal dander, etc.)
      • Household cleaning products
      • Cosmetics (think nail polish), Hair-care products (hair sprays), Body care products (scented lotions & potions)
      • Candles and Air fresheners
      • Office machines and tools (copy machines, computers, printers, correction fluid, permanent markers, etc)
      • Second-hand smoke

      What can you do?
      • Paint over your existing paint or stain with a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint like SafeCoat to keep the VOCs out of the air you breathe
      • Practice regular surface cleaning
      • Purchase a good quality air cleaner
      • Burn pure beeswax candles or soy candles naturally scented with essential oils instead of artificially scented and/or parrafin candles. (Beeswax candles actually help purify your air!) Make sure they have cotton wicks. Other wicks have been known to contain lead!
      • Use only non-toxic cleaning products. Look at your local natural foods store or make your own!
      • Choose safer cosmetics, hair care, and body care products. Here's a great resource.  
      • Open the windows on warmer days
      • Add some detoxifying plants to your home decor. NASA studies have proven that house plants can reduce toxins in the home by up to 85%. Some of the best are palms, ferns, English Ivy... and even Gerbera daisies!
      • Don't smoke! (Just say no to drugs)
      • Take the Indoor Air Quality Quiz and learn about the air you breathe.

      Sources/Additional Reading:

      Natural News:
      The Daily Green: How to Purify the Air in Your Home

      The Environmental Protection Agency: Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals

      The Ontario Lung Association "Your Healthy Home: Tips for Improving Air Quality In and Around Your Home"


      Friday, January 29, 2010

      New Niches for Familiar Foods: Collards & Cabbage


      Isn't this a colorful January meal?

      Ever get tired of plain old sandwiches? Try something new! Use collard greens or purple cabbage leaves as wraps! (or green cabbage, red cabbage, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce...etc!) It's a great way to get more green leafy vegetables in your diet without having a salad at every meal.

      Collard greens work especially well for this, as they are really tough. Just cut whole collard greens along their stems, and use each half of the leaf as a wrap. Cabbage leaves can easily be cut to size with a kitchen shears. Fill with your favorite fillings, roll, tuck, and its's wrap!

      Some filling ideas include:
      • hummus
      • other bean dips
      • guacamole
      • nut butter (mix with some Thai red curry paste and coconut oil!)
      • lemon-tahini-garlic sauce
      • raw vegetables
      • sprouts
      • raw goat cheese
      • fresh herbs
      • yesterday's leftovers! ;)
      • If you eat eggs... try a leaf wrap instead of a tortilla for huevos rancheros
      • Your usual taco ingredients
      What else can you come up with?

      Tuesday, January 26, 2010

      Wholesome Wisdom from a 108-Year-Old Man


      Yesterday, as I was researching some health-related topics... I happened across an interview by Paul Nison (a health enthusiast and author known for overcoming his ulcerative colitis & Crohn's disease with a raw-food diet) of a 108-year-old gentleman named Bernando Lapallo. Mr. Lapallo is active and healthy. He has his own blog, a facebook page, and even a book which he wrote in 2009, when he was 107. He's trying to make it to 120--- He says he'd like to give Abraham a run for his money!

      Here's his biography, as given on his facebook fan page:
      Bernando LaPallo was born in Victoria, Brazil on August 17, 1901 to Mattie Carr and Bernando LaPallo Sr. He moved to the United States and was raised by his father who was a doctor in Philadelphia. His first interest was in food and he went on to study the culinary arts at La Sorbonne in Paris, France graduating in 1928. After years of working as a chef on steam liners and resorts he retired in that profession to pursue an interest in the healing arts. He studied massage at The Swedish Institute in New York City. Later Bernando went on to study and become licensed as a reflexologist and podiatrist at NYU. He completed that course of study at the age of 73. He had a successful private massage practice in New York City for more than 20 years treating people from all walks of life. He currently resides in Arizona where he gives talks on the secrets of his youthful vitality and health. Age Less Live More is his first book. He is currently working on a second.
       In the interview, Mr. Lapallo gives some of his advice for living a long and healthy life. Most of his wisdom came to him from his father about 100 years ago, when he was growing up in Brazil. More advice is given in his book: Age Less Live More: Achieving Health and Vitality at 107 and Beyond. Here are some of the bits of wisdom he gives in the interview:

      "The first priority in your life should be your health."

      DIET
      • Eat properly. He believes the best diet consists of fruits and vegetables (especially green vegetables), fish, and lots of fresh juices. Eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables, like Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. Don't eat processed/fast-food.
      • Eat organic.
      • Eat animal protein sparingly: He eats fresh fish 3 times a week, perhaps some canned tuna or salmon, only 4-5oz. He eats meat once a year: lamb, because it was eaten at Passover. He'll eat cheese only on a rare occasion.
      • Drink herbal teas. (He likes sassafras or cinnamon tea with breakfast). The worse thing you can eat for breakfast is a cup of coffee and a doughnut.
      • Don't eat too much.
      • Eat only during daylight hours. Eat dinner early, and don't eat after dinner. Eat dinner between 5 and 7pm, and don't eat after that. You could have water or green tea, but no food. It's too late to eat.
      • Eat/Live for prevention of disease (He drinks cinnamon tea for prevention of diabetes, since he read that cinnamon was good for diabetics). "If you don't get it, you don't have to cure it."
      • Supplement with whole food products: He uses a Superfood powder and Echinacea. These he blends with fruit or juice every day, to supplement his diet
      LIFESTYLE:
      • Walk every morning: Every day, rain or shine, he walks 1 1/2 to 2 miles before breakfast.
      • "Stress will kill you." --His father told him.
      • Rest is very important.
      • Follow the Ten Commandments. He says his Christian faith is every bit as necessary as food, and remaining long without the nourishment of your soul can leave you just as hungry and depleted as going without food.
      • Keep your feet clean and healthy: Wash your feet in soap (castille soap) & luke warm water every night, use a pumice stone to remove dead skin, dry, and then rub thoroughly and apply olive oil. Put socks on, and go to bed.
      • Use olive oil as a moisturizer for your face. (Notice he hardly has wrinkles)
      • Keep your colon clean, and all the other organs will be able to do their jobs properly.
      You can view the 3-part interview at http://paulnison.com/archives/date/2009/12/
      His story was printed in Phoenix's East Valley Tribune when he turned 105: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/71921

      The salad pictured above is one I made last week: organic leaf lettuce, fennel, dried cherries, sunflower sprouts, lemon juice & olive oil, Herbs de provence (with a little extra lavender), and sea salt, with homemade sunflower-flax crackers crumbled on top as croutons. Enjoy!

      Friday, January 22, 2010

      New Niches for Familiar Foods: Daikon Radish


      Well, maybe daikon radishes aren't that familiar. I ran across them for the first time at a farmer's market a couple of years ago. They caught my attention as they are so big! In fact, the word is Japanese, and means "large root." Daikon radishes look kind of like large white carrots. They are often used in Asian soups with miso. Think you need to eat a ton of oranges this winter to get your vitamin C? Try Daikon radishes! They have 1/3 of the recommended Vitamin C in a 3 oz serving, which is also only 18 calories worth. They are mild-flavored, so they are really quite versatile... and make a perfect substitute for pasta. Low-calorie, high vitamin C.... that's a lot more than you can say for plain old spaghetti!

      I believe it was first through following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet a few years ago that first introduced me to the concept of using strips of zucchini as a substitute for traditional pasta. When I got started on the raw food vegan diet, I came across all kinds of recipes calling for "noodles" made from all kinds of different vegetables. You can have fun with...
      • radish noodles
      • zucchini noodles
      • yellow squash noodles
      • carrot noodles
      • cucumber noodles
      • beet noodles
      • asparagus noodles
      • even young coconut noodles
      You can makes these using a spiralizer, a grater, and mandolin slicer, a vegetable peeler, or a knife. The sauces can be anything from marinara sauce to creamy mushroom sauce to pad thai sauce. The possibilities are endless! To soften the "noodles," just let them marinate in whatever sauce you use. No cooking required. "Easy Peasy," as they say.

      This is great if you are trying to cut back on processed grain noodles, eat gluten free, eat more vegetables, or just have some more variety in the kitchen!

      So, above, I created a sort of Mediterranean noodle dish. It is daikon noodles (made on a mandolin), marinated in a sauce of: sun-dried  tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onion, basil, rosemary, thyme, with sunflower sprouts and asparagus. I warmed it in the dehydrator for half an hour before eating, and served it with a balsamic-dressed salad.

      Not bad for eating raw food in a northern Minnesota winter!

      Monday, January 18, 2010

      If You Do One Healthy Thing Today...


      ...Try a new Fruit Salad!

      This makes a great healthy, quick & easy breakfast. Besides that, having fruit for breakfast helps continue the cleansing process that your body was doing during the night while you slept. Besides that, it's delicious!

      Try this instead of your morning cereal. You can even put some diluted coconut milk or banana "milk" (just blend some banana and water) over the top. It's naturally sweet! Or, if you like, drizzle some pure maple syrup or raw honey over everything.

      My combination above is:
      • red bartlett pear
      • dehydrated banana chips, halved
      • dried black mission figs
      • goji berries
      • frozen strawberries
      A few raw nuts or seeds added make for an excellent muesli. What are some of your favorite fruit salad combinations?

      Monday, January 11, 2010

      18 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Diet


      Now that the decorations are put away, the cookies are eaten, and our lives are devoid of the hustle and bustle that took place just weeks ago, it seems like a good time to replenish our energies, restore our health, and look forward to the longer days and sunshine ahead. Of course, those of us who live within just a couple of hours' drive from Canada will have to wait just a little longer than the rest of you!

      In the spirit of this rejuvenation, here's a list of what you can do now to contribute to your health and wellbeing as we begin 2010! :   (In no particular order...)

      1. Decrease your consumption of animal protein, and eat more greens and raw fruits and vegetables.
      2. Buy as much organic food as you can, especially for the dirty dozen.
      3. Eat only organic/free-range/grass-fed meats and eggs.
      4. Don't buy commercial milk. --Learn to make your own nut milks (It's easy!).
      5. Have a green smoothie every morning for breakfast.
      6. Learn to make your own salad dressings, using organic extra virgin olive oil.
      7. READ LABELS. If you don't understand the ingredients, don't buy it.
      8. Replace canola or "vegetable" oils with organic extra virgin olive oil (for dressings) and virgin coconut oil (for cooking).
      9. Eliminate all genetically modified foods. These depress the immune system and cause a host of other problems, most of which have not even been recognized yet. (Look out for PLUs starting with 8). Avoid these common GMO ingredients: corn, canola, cottonseed, soy.
      10. Eat only organic fermented soy: tamari, miso, tempeh, for example, and only on occasion. Don't eat soy substitutes, i.e. veggie burgers, soy milk, soy ice cream, etc. Soy messes with hormones and depresses the thyroid, among other things.
      11. Eat a big salad of organic leafy greens every day. Add different fruit and vegetable combinations to keep it interesting.
      12. Avoid SUGAR in all forms! White sugar (and brown sugar) is a drug. See William Dufty's book "Sugar Blues." Natural sweeteners are an improvement (maple syrup, honey), but are best eliminated for several months before added back in moderation. For your sweet tooth... try different kinds of fruit. Have you ever had a persimmon? a pomegranate? a dragon fruit? Have fun discovering new things!
      13. Eliminate gluten (this means wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, and oats unless labeled "gluten-free") from your diet. It is one of the most common allergens. Unfortunately, these are very prevalent in the standard American diet (SAD). Look out for pizza, pasta, crackers, breads, cereals, etc. There are gluten-free substitutes, but the healthiest way to consume any grain is in their "whole" form. Some gluten-free options include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and corn.
      14. Start weaning yourself from caffeine--especially coffee. Try Teeccino, Roma, or other natural coffee substitute. If you need that "lift" or mental focus try Yerba Mate tea, green tea, or Think O2 from Traditional Medicinals.
      15. Avoid alcohol... at least for now. You can always add back some organic wine down the road for special occasions.
      16. Avoid restaurant food. There's more in it than you'd ever want to know. It's easy to bring a salad for lunch, or pick up some organic fruit to grab on the go.
      17. Instead of candy bars or even protein bars, try a Larabar. It's made of basic ingredients like dates and other dried fruit, nuts, and spices. You can even find a recipe to make your own! (just Google it)
      18. When there's not much in season in the produce section, don't forget about frozen foods. You can get frozen asparagus, broccoli, peas... etc. Frozen is the next best thing after fresh. Avoid canned food!
      This may seem overwhelming, so I recommend doing it a little at a time. Each week, pick one thing to work on. By summer you'll have made excellent progress and will likely reap benefits that come from eating healthy foods and eliminating the toxins so prevalent in our food supply. If that seems like too much to think about right now, start with this: Buy some buckwheat groats (they're gluten-free!) and make the buckwheat porridge pictured above. Here's the how to make it:

      Buckwheat Porridge
      (serves 1)

      1/2 cup whole buckwheat groats
      1/2 to 1 whole banana
      1 tsp cinnamon
      1/2 to 1 tsp vanilla

      Soak buckwheat groats in water overnight. Drain and rinse in the morning. Pour into blender. Add other ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl to serve, and top with fresh (or thawed frozen) berries or fruit, perhaps sweetened with a bit of stevia. Enjoy!

        Thursday, January 7, 2010

        New Year's Health Resolutions


        Did you know... that the vast majority of New Year's resolutions people make are typically health-related? Eat healthier, Lose Weight, Exercise More. How about you? Well, we are now one week into 2010! How are you doing so far?

        Even though I am already on a rather healthy diet (raw food, organic, vegan) due to a chronic health condition, I still have certain goals for improving my diet, lifestyle, and health for this upcoming year.

        Kimi, over at The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting a Nourishing New Year's Resolutions Carnival, and this is my contribution:

        My {Health} New Year's Resolutions for 2010:
        1. Drink plenty of water = 1/2 my weight in ounces per day.
        2. Refrain from eating after dinner/ try to finish eating by 6:00 pm. (This is helpful for getting restful sleep, and in your body's detoxification process through the night)
        3. Limit my dependence on nuts and dried fruit for snacks, opting instead for water-rich fresh fruits and vegetables.
        4. Go to bed earlier: 10:00 bedtime.
        5. Work out at Anytime Fitness at least 3 times a week for at least one hour at a time.
        6. Get fresh air~ go cross-country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing... get outside as often as I can (preferably when the temperatures are above zero!)

        View other contributions (or add your own!) HERE.  ...Or post below!

        Incidently, the fruit salad above is a simple combination of the following:
        starfruit, persimmon, pomegranate seeds, and unsweetened dessicated coconut. Enjoy for breakfast, a snack, or a healthy dessert!

        Wednesday, January 6, 2010

        An Epiphany: Raw Vegan Hot Fudge Brownie


        Happy Epiphany! Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and the day we western Christians (who follow the historic Church Year) commemorate Epiphany, the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Since "Epiphany" comes from the Greek word for "appearance" or manifestation, this day celebrates God's appearance (in the Person of Christ) to the Gentiles (non-Jews), including in this case the Magi.

        In other countries, there have historically been special celebrations and traditions that surround this day. Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" or "As You Like It" was written to be performed at this time. Food, of course, is also a major player in such celebrations. In France, they celebrate with a special cake; in Spain, with a sweet bread; in India, a sweet rice pudding.

        So, for a log house in the northwoods (in my case), how about a clone to a hot fudge brownie... maybe with some coconut creme? It's even good for you! ;) There's no chocolate, no sugar, no flour... and believe it or not, it's delicious!

        This is more of a prescription than a recipe, but here goes:

        Raw Vegan Hot Fudge Brownie with Coconut Cream
        [This serves 1]

        1-2 Tbsp Roasted (okay, so it's not completely raw) carob powder
        1-2 Tbsp (same amount as carob) virgin coconut oil, liquified
        2-3 Tbsp almond flour (almonds ground in coffee grinder)
        1/8- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
        Coconut milk/cream (refrigerated, so it's nice and thick)

        Slightly warm coconut oil to liquify. Meanwhile, spoon carob into a small dish. Pour coconut oil over it and stir. Mix in vanilla. Add almond flour as desired, to form a thick dough, yet just a bit "fudgey." Top with a dollop of coconut cream right out of the fridge. Enjoy!

        Tuesday, January 5, 2010

        A New Year, A New Look!


        ...What do you think? I'm definitely not a computer/web-savvy person, so this blogging thing is definitely an education in itself. I'm learning as I go! ;) I've known for a while that I needed to present a better image on my blog, but hadn't quite figured out the right settings and found the right resources. I've also been toying around with switching to wordpress, but I think I'll stay here at blogspot after all.

        The Apple represents "Wholesome" in the sense of being healthy, and "Wisdom" in that it reminds me of the Garden of Eden and the famous fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil which is often portrayed as an apple.

        The Books represent both "Wholesome" and "Wisdom" in the knowledge they impart.

        It works, right? I'm still looking at other layouts and backgrounds, so there may be a few more changes in the next week or so! Any comments or ideas?