Category : Healthy Cooking

Add THIS Secret Fat Loss Ingredient To Your Tea…

 

Chia Blackberry Tea

I’m traveling with my husband right now in Florida.

For the first time in months, I’m feeling balmy ocean air and actually walking around with my neck and arms exposed.

After being cooped up for months over the winter, I have felt myself passionately, earnestly craving sunshine, tanned skin, and bare feet.

For the first time in months…

This morning, I made my Wu-Long Tea with ICE.

Remember that stuff?

The cold stuff that can actually be really refreshing, as opposed to a big, stinkin’ burden during the winter months?

Iced tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. 

But when you see what else I put in there – you may think I’m actually pretty weird.

In fact, many people who see me dump these little pieces of what looks like dried fish roe in my tea… well… they think the same thing.

The Weird Fat Loss Item I Add To My Tea

What’s this weird item I add to my tea for extra fat loss and energy?

Chia Seeds.

They’ve actually been popular in America for a long time- especially if you had a TV and saw the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! Pet commercials.

Well believe it or not, chia seeds have been a staple in Latin American diets since the Aztecs and Mayans.

Some evidence even shows that humans began using chia seeds around 3500 B.C. – or over 5,000 years ago!

Chia seeds have been used for energy and stamina.

They’re traditionally ground into flour or pressed for oil and used to garner high-energy.

In fact, Chia Seeds even got their name because they resemble the Mayan word for “strength”.

The Rise Of Chia Seeds As A Superfood

Chia seeds lost their popularity when the Spanish took over Latin America and banned chia seeds in hopes of inundating Latin America with Spanish foods.

Today, however, chia is gaining traction again with both small health food companies as well as large food manufacturers looking to add nutrients to an otherwise unhealthy Western diet.

Chia seeds have TONS of health benefits, and they’re a SUPERFOOD because they pack in all their powerful properties in a super-condensed punch.

A serving of chia seeds is as small as a tablespoon – but they pack in:

  • Nearly 11 Grams of Fiber – or 40% daily value
  • More Omega-3 Fatty Acids Than Salmon!
  • 18% Daily Recommended Calcium
  • Protein
  • Antioxidants

How Do Chia Seeds Help You Lose Weight?

Chia seeds are incredible for weight loss.

They pack in nearly half the fiber we need per day.

Eating fiber assists with your digestive tract.

And without “continuity”, we retain fat AND toxins in our bodies.

Fiber also soaks up fluids in your body; thereby making you feel full and satisfied so you don’t munch mindlessly.

When soaked in water before consuming, Chia seeds explode into soft little round balls that look like fish roe and have a super-soft, bubbly texture.

IMPORTANT: Chia seeds cannot be absorbed in their raw form by your body: they must be ground finely OR soaked in water for 15 minutes before ingesting in order to get their full benefit.

Wu-Long Fat-Blasting Iced Tea Recipe

Without further ado, here’s my favorite fat-blasting Wu-Long Blackberry Iced Tea recipe with Chia Seeds:

  • Juice a handful of berries (blackberries are my favorite).
  • Soak 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds in ¼ cup of water and the blackberry juice
  • Steep just under one cup of Wu-Long tea in hot water for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add tea to a glass of ice.
  • Stir in the chia seeds and juice.  Enjoy!

Now you have a fat-blasting, super-food packed icy drink that has all the benefits of Wu-Long, such as:

  • Increased Energy Expenditure
  • Raised Metabolism
  • Fat Oxidation

Plus the benefits of this powerful little superfood, Chia.

Harness The Power Of “Fat Loss Tea”

Remember the most important part about your Blackberry Fat-Loss Wu-Long Tea with Chia Seeds…

(…which I state fully knowing I risk sounding like some voodoo-magic priestess…)

When you consume your Chia Seeds & Wu-Long, really concentrate on the strength and antioxidant boost you’re giving your body.

Imagine the Mayans calling Chia Seeds “Strength” in their language and how the empowered the ancient peoples.

Then close your eyes for a second and picture what you need to accomplish today – either physically or emotionally.

And finally – feel gratitude for these nutrition-packed, life-regenerating foods.

Most importantly – enjoy!

Wu-Long Tea BLASTS fat… and it’s also one of the most versatile fat-loss ingredients on the planet!

Drink it hot, iced, strong, weak.

Drink a cup or a liter per day.

But no matter how you drink your Wu-Long – drink it with a smile!

 

The Most Dangerous Food In America…

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Breaking Bread.  Making a toast.  Celebrating a birthday.

Our lives are inundated with sugar in one way or another.

With the epidemic of cancer, child obesity, and diabetes; more researchers are looking carefully at how the sugar epidemic began… and how we can put it to rest.

But did you know that 300 years ago – many people didn’t even know that sugar existed?

It only became a global commodity about 250 years ago via trade by sea.

That’s right – sugar is relatively NEW to the human diet.

However, it’s so pervasive that almost every event we mark, celebrate, mourn or commemorate has sugar or alcohol as an integral part of its ritual.

How We Got Our Global Sweet-Tooth

250 years ago trade on the seas was booming. 

Sugar, alcohol, tobacco, and opium became, for the first time ever, profitable global commodities.

Our lives, and our bodies, have changed significantly in the past 300 years.

And for the latter; they haven’t improved much.

What doesn’t kill us via famine or plague now kills us more slowly via coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancers.

Sugar Is Pervasive In Our Diets…

What was once a guilty pleasure is now a part of our morning beverage ritual, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and after-dinner night cap.

Ask yourself: have you ever gone a single day in your life without either tobacco, sugar, or alcohol?

It’s likely that you have not.

That’s because sugar takes many forms, and it isn’t just something reserved for cookies, cakes, and sweets.

In the U.S. it is the most popular addition to foods across the board.

And MOST processed foods have it.

It’s known as sugar, raw sugar, dextrose, maltose, glucose, fructose, corn sweetener, honey, corn syrup, sucrose, sorghum syrup, sorbitol, brown sugar, lactose, molasses, syrup, and fruit juice concentrate.

ALL of the above are empty calories and should be avoided! 

Why Sugar Makes You Gain Weight

How bad can sugar be?  

Well consider this: one measly teaspoon of white sugar has 15 calories.

A teaspoon of corn syrup has 20 calories.

And the average can of soda has 11 TEASPOONS of sugar… translating to between 165 and 220 calories just from sugar.

A couple hundred years ago when sugar started to creep into the American diet, people only ate about 2 lbs per year.

Today the average American eats over 150 pounds of sugar per year.

That’s 3 POUNDS of sugar per WEEK!

The average American even consumes more than 40 teaspoons DAILY of sugar.

Imagine setting 40 teaspoons of anything in front of you.

It’s overwhelming… and indeed it’s a scary thought!

Your Brain on Sugar…

When you consume sugar; taste receptors signal different areas of the brain, one being the cerebral cortex.

Your brain rewards you for it and tells you to have more sugar.

The same thing happens when people experience sex or take certain drugs.

That’s why people want more and more of these things and become addicted.

And yes, your brain’s reaction to sugar does lead to sugar addiction.

That’s the reason dieting can be so hard!

Either you aren’t avoiding sugars that sneak into restaurant and processed foods…

Or you’re having legitimate sugar withdrawal!

Your Gut On Sugar…

Your gut has sugar receptors, just like your brain.

When you eat sugar – your gut will actually send a warning up to your brain.

Your brain responds in one of two ways:

1)  You feel full

2)  Your insulin spikes in response to excess sugar.

The more insulin your body releases to process sugar, the more we store sugar as fat.

The insulin is meant to regulate blood sugar.

Abusing your body’s insulin response can actually cause your body to become resistant to insulin; thereby unable to regulate blood sugar.

This isn’t just a way to store excess body fat, but it’s dangerous for your overall health and wellness.

The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar…

Eating sugar is unique in your brain.

You see, when you eat broccoli, you don’t get the same reaction in your brain as you do when you consume sugar.

What makes sugar ‘feel’ so good?

The answer is dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good.

Dopamine is released when we consume alcohol, nicotine, heroine, and sugar.

That’s one of the reasons people become addicted to one or all of the above.

How Your Brain Regulates Nutrition…

Just because dopamine is associated with all of the above-mentioned ‘risky’ business doesn’t mean that dopamine is inherently bad.

In fact, dopamine can help you be MORE nutritious.

That’s because when you eat the same thing over and over, you don’t react with as much dopamine.

This causes our bodies to constantly seek new foods and different tastes.

Food and drink variety begets more dopamine; which causes us to try new foods and have more balanced nutrition.

How We Can Become Addicted to Sugar?

When you eat sugary foods, dopamine doesn’t level out like it does with normal foods.

When you eat sugar, the reward in your brain persists.

That’s how people get addicted to sugar – you keep eating it and it keeps feeling good!

One of the biggest offenders of sugar overload is SODA POP.

But you’ll be shocked to know how much is in tomato sauce, ketchup, even in healthy protein and cereal bars!

How To Lose Weight Naturally and Easily…

There are a lot of benefits to most diets out there.

But there’s ONE thing that all healthy diets have in common: the absence of high-sugar foods and beverages.

In March, Okuma will be hosting a 90-Day SLIM TEA CHALLENGE for Okuma readers.

During this challenge – we will be replacing sodas, diet drinks, fruit juices, and creamy coffee drinks with Wu-Long Tea.

If you want to join us – keep reading my blog and I’ll share more info with you.

If you want to get started NOW while we’re still in the beginning of the year – go here NOW and grab your Wu-Long Tea.

Cut sodas, toxic diet water and mineral drinks, creamy sugary lattes, and even alcohol.

Replace them all with Wu-Long to rev up your metabolism and TORCH body and belly fat.

Go here today and get started!

 

 

This Toxic Substance Is On Your Kitchen Counter

2013-12-05 19.37.41

I was cooking a nice, warm pasta sauce the other day when I noticed “salt” as one of the ingredients in the tomatoes I was using…

 

…And it hit me – sometimes I forget that not everyone knows everything about nutrition and weight loss that they should.

 

So here’s the deal with salt….

 

STAY AWAY from plain old refined table salt.

Refined salt is the main reason salt has such a bad reputation.

 

It’s the same stuff you find in processed foods.

 

Our bodies actually need salt, but most research (especially what’s been published in America) has revolved around refined table salt – and the results have shown that this stuff is not good for you.

 

In many parts of the world, it is well-accepted that salt itself is not the problem … it’s the kind of salt that’s causing problems.

 

Refined table salt is pretty scary, actually. It often contains harmful anti-caking agents, some of which have been linked to heavy metal toxicity and kidney problems.

 

A common preservative in these refined salts, sodium acetate, may cause elevated blood pressure and kidney disturbances.

 

So what should you use instead?

The truth is that UN-Refined sea salt is actually good for you.

 

It helps to balance your blood sugar, helps keep your bones strong, regulates your metabolism, boosts your immune system and more.

 

Natural, unrefined sea salt provides a number of nutrients and minerals, in a way that the body recognizes and knows how to use.

 

Over 80 trace minerals found in the naturally filtered salt water used to create unrefined sea salt give it its vital grayish color, and its slight moistness keeps the salt and minerals in a form that the body can use.

 

You can find many kinds of unrefined salt right in the store but check the label, it must say “unrefined” – some sea salts are still refined.

The Best Unrefined Salt…

I like to use AztecSeaSalt, which is not sold in stores.  I know for a fact that it is high-quality, unrefined, and loaded with the good minerals and nutrients you need.

 

But, the number one reason I use it?

 

It is hands-down the tastiest salt I’ve ever tried!

 

In fact, AztecSeaSalt is so good that they can barely keep it in stock!

 

They can only harvest it 16 weeks out of the year, so the supply is limited.  And, every time they get a fresh batch it just disappears.

 

Luckily, I just got word that they just got a fresh batch in, and they are accepting orders for it right now …

 

… so if you want to be one of the few people who get in on this next batch of nutrient-rich AztecSeaSalt – before it disappears – head over here now.

 

 

 

 

The Superfood Of The Future (May Replace Pasta?)

Quinoa Salad

The days of ordering wheat toast or an English muffin as the ‘healthy choice’ are pretty much over.

Thanks to pioneer researchers and nutritionists, the symbiosis of ‘health food’ and ‘processed foods’ is a myth we’ve pretty much debunked.

The Great Grain Debate has been around for an incredibly long time – but really began gaining traction when low-carb diets became popular.

Why Grains Aren’t What They’ve Been Cracked Up To Be…

Researchers found that despite the fact that birthday cakes, baguettes, cereals, and spaghetti have become commonplace in societies around the world – even the foundation of the U.S. food pyramid – most grains aren’t even remotely good for us.

Our bodies simply do not digest grains well.

Carbs from grains spike insulin levels, and they effectively block our body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Moreover, gluten found in some processed grains causes digestive problems in up to 1/3rd of the population!

Leaky bowel syndrome and gluten sensitivity are two of a myriad of digestive issues that manifest themselves in even non-Celiacs.

Whereas children grew up believing that whole grains were a necessary part of a balanced diet – we now know that grains have wreaked major havoc on our health.

What’s The Alternative?

 There are a plethora of substitutes we can use for traditional bread/pasta products in our diets.

Instead of traditional spaghetti, learn to make zucchini noodles (It’s the easiest thing in the world!)

But what’s my favorite grain replacement?  Quinoa!

Quinoa is a seed that derives from a grain-like plant.  That’s why quinoa, though being a seed, is classified as a grain – or a pseudocereal.

It’s not new – in fact it was discovered almost 4 thousand years ago in Incan civilization.

…Or some believe it was only 3,000 years ago by the Andian people.

Nevertheless – it’s definitely been around a long time!

It was even believed by ancient peoples to give energy to warriors before a fight!

The Quinoa Company has dubbed this yummy food the “Supergrain of the coming times”.

(It’s enjoying quite a resurgence of popularity, so we’ll forgive The Quinoa Company’s implication that it hasn’t been around for the past 4,000 years… and the fact that it’s NOT technically a grain.)

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa looks like miniature balls of cous-cous when cooked.

You can usually find fresh, organic quinoa in the store where the loose grains, rice, and beans are sold.

Quinoa can be prepared and served as an almost perfect substitute to rice and barley, but it’s also creatively used as a pasta and an oatmeal in my new cookbook.

Quinoa is full of protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids.

It has double the benefits of most other foods that are used in it’s stead.

A short list of quinoa benefits:

  • Fiber – known to help your digestive system
  • Naturally lowers blood pressure
  • Fights high cholesterol
  • May decrease hemorrhoids
  • Regulates appetite by helping you feel full longer
  • Helps regulate sugar in the body – beneficial for diabetics and those who are trying to lose weight!

Exotic Benefits of Quinoa

Our bodies create blood with the assistance of iron, which is found in quinoa.

Did you know that our brains consume approximately 20% of the oxygen our bodies use?

Iron carries oxygen between cells in order for our bodies to make use of oxygen – and quinoa is a great source of iron.

It also has magnesium that helps your body get rid of headaches naturally.

Additionally, magnesium is powerful in helping your body to regulate blood sugar.

If you aren’t sure how to cook this gluten free ‘non-grain’, check out some of the recipes I’ve included here with quinoa… and get started switching out those carbs that are nutrient-void and harmful to insulin levels!

I’ll teach you how to cook quinoa and a plethora of other gluten-free items in my Holiday Cookbook.

I’ve included warm winter recipes for baked apples, quinoa oatmeal, and quinoa salad to share.

Check some of them out here today, because even though these recipes will be delicious all year round – I’m only selling my cookbook for a couple more weeks!

Read here about how weight loss and longevity can be absolutely delicious, and easy-to-share with friends and family!

~Stephanie

 

#1 Food To Avoid For Weight Loss (What IS This Nasty Stuff?!)

Truth About Gluten-Free Food

OK, Enough With This Gluten-Free Diet “stuff”!

If you’re anything like I was only one year ago – this “Gluten-Free” thing may seem out of control.

But like I was just one year ago – you may also be plagued with digestive issues, bloating…

Even weight that you absolutely CAN’T seem to lose no matter how hard you diet, exercise, or even fast.

The presence of Gluten in our diets is  widely acknowledged by medical doctors as a cause of weight gain and sluggishness.

Today, most people certainly know the word “Gluten”; but just ten years ago it sounded totally foreign in our vocabulary.

This begs the question: if it wasn’t such a big deal then – why is it suddenly such a big deal now?

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is, in fact, a protein.

It’s found in grains, barley, rye, and wheat.

(Yes, I said it. “Wheat toast” is no longer the health food of choice at breakfast time.  Nor are English Muffins…)

Some people are actually allergic to gluten; they have a disease called Celiac.  But you’re not likely one of these people.

So Why Do You Care?

Even though your chances of being Celiac are perhaps only 1 in 33 people, gluten still concerns you.

You see, gluten is found in a lot of processed foods.

This means that avoiding gluten coincides with avoiding foods that you shouldn’t eat when you’re trying to lose weight.

Processed foods are riddled with empty calories, chemicals, and even preservatives and artificial flavors that are toxic to our bodies.

Moreover, our bodies still aren’t evolved in a way to process “processed foods.”

We just don’t digest them as well!

Just because you don’t have Celiac disease doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

You may be gluten intolerant.

Yes, Gluten Can Be Devastating For Non-Celiacs!

Cutting out gluten includes cutting out wheat.

Wheat has gluten-containing grains that have “gliadin” in them.

Gliadin binds to cells in your body.

This causes your body to make antibodies to gliadin.

Then your body attacks it’s OWN cells – the ones to which gliadin has attached itself.

As your body attacks it’s own cells, surrounding tissues in your body is damaged.

This can set off a myriad of other health problems in your body – preexisting or original.

BEWARE:  Why 81% of People On A Gluten-Free Diet GAINED Weight!

Gluten is hiding everywhere!

But avoiding it isn’t the problem.

In fact, one study of Celiac patients found that 81% of them GAINED weight over a two-year period.

That’s because cutting gluten doesn’t eliminate high fructose corn syrup and other nasty, processed foods.

Rather than cutting gluten, cut ALL processed foods where possible.

Processed foods often contain refined carbohydrates; which are linked to weight gain.

Beware!  Many “Low-Fat” and “Fat Free” foods are the WORST offenders.

And don’t be fooled by “gluten-free” processed foods, either.

While I occasionally use gluten free table crackers or snack on gluten-free pretzel sticks; it’s FAR better to avoid processed foods and stick to foods as Nature has provided them!

This Is Your Brain On Gluten…

This might be the most shocking gluten fact of all.

Researchers found that proteins like gluten contain exorphins.

Exorphins find a way into your brain and may cause brain disfunction, even symptoms like schizophrenia!

Moreover, grains cause inflammation.

Therefore, they can exacerbate any disease or ailment you have which is tied to chronic inflammation.

Mental health issues, for one, are widely accepted to be exacerbated by inflammation.

This is why people commonly claim that their mental and emotional health benefit when gluten is removed from their diet.

What Can I Do?

To truly benefit from a gluten-free life, you need to learn how to use foods as nature provided them, without the processing.

But, you DON’T have to be an expert chef!

That’s why we created this Holiday Survival Guide to help you keep torching fat, and feeling GREAT throughout the Holiday Season.

Start practicing the recipes at home by yourself, and then use them to share during the Holidays!

STOP counting calories this Holiday Season without sacrificing taste, texture… and even the classic foods you love.

The Holiday Survival Guide even includes Gluten Free, Non-Processed Tear-Away Bread Rolls, Fried Chicken, Cheesy Broccoli, Egg Nog… and even Fried Onion Rings!

60 Recipes are included; 100% Gluten-Free with over 45 Dairy-Free Receipes, 30 Vegan Recipes, and nearly 50 Vegetarian Recipes.

In fact, 11 Recipes use our fat-torching Oolong Tea!

Get your Holiday Survival Guide here today.

 

A Water That Flushes Fat?

 

 

A water that flushes fat from your body?

Not only is that a lot of alliteration, but it sounds almost too good to be true.

But it’s from my friend Kim – and I’ve trusted her for years to motivate me and share yummy recipes that torch fat.

So what are the weird (but yummy) ingredients in Kim’s “Fat Flush Water” recipe?

It’s so awesome that Dr. Oz had her share it on TV!

(When you click on the video above, you’ll be able to learn all about it.)

Listen for her explanation of a “super nutrient” in this “Fat Flush Water” recipe that can…

  • BLOCK Fat Cell Formation
  • Boost Your Immunity
  • Protect Your Heart
  • And Detoxify Your Body?

Watch the video to learn more; you’ll find out how to make this super quick and easy drink with things you ALREADY have in your kitchen…

And how you can shed up to 14 lbs per month without making any changes to the foods you love to eat . . .

Let me know what you think.

~ Stephanie

Crave: Spectacular Salsa Recipes

Spectacular Salsa Recipes

As the hint of fall slowly creeps into the air here in Denver, I spent part of this past weekend enjoying the dwindling summer days at a fantastic salsa party.

Yes, that’s right. A friend decided to plan a birthday in the park and have everyone bring along their own homemade salsa.

I have to say that it was a smashing success and we all had a great time sampling a huge variety of salsas from sweet to spicy, and everything in between.

So, in order to inspire you to make your own salsa creation, I thought I would offer up three of my favorite recipes.

And heck, you don’t even need chips. Salsa is an amazing way to use late summer fruits and vegetables, and makes a fresh and healthy topping for chicken, fish, or even eggs.

Three spectacular salsa recipes ….

Grilled Tomato Salsa:

Ingredients:

6-8 Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 jalapeños
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp adobo sauce (sauce available in canned chipotles)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of one lime, freshly squeezed
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat the grill to medium high heat.

On a tray, drizzle tomatoes, ½ of the onion, garlic, and jalapeños with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer these veggies onto the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until they are lightly charred, about 8-10 minutes (you can grill the garlic and onions on aluminum foil if you do not have a grilling basket).

Allow the vegetables to cool slightly. When they have cooled, slice the jalapeños in half and remove the seeds. Transfer all of the grilled veggies plus the other half of the onion to a food processor, add the adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro, and pulse until you reach your desired consistency.

You can serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight.

Peach Mint Salsa:

Ingredients:

4-6 ripe peaches (depending on size), peeled and diced
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
Juice of two limes, freshly squeezed
2 tsp honey
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp fresh jalapeño (or more to taste), minced
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until serving. Great with chips, or as a topping for grilled chicken or salmon.

Watermelon Salsa:

(from Rachael Ray)

Ingredients:

3 cups watermelon, cut into small dice
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into small dice
2 jalapeño peppers, minced
1 small red onion, cut into small dice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
Zest and juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Combine the watermelon, cucumber, jalapeños, red onion, cilantro, mint, lime zest and juice in a serving dish. Season with salt just before you serve to keep the watermelon from extracting its juice.

Serve with whole grain tortilla chips or over steak, chicken or fish.

And, of course, a big glass of iced Wu-Long Tea is the perfect drink to accompany your salsa creations.

Crave: Simple Summer Recipes

Simple Summer Recipes

photo credit: salerie via photopin cc

You are probably aware by now that I am a huge fan of summer.

I love the sunshine, long days, and those special things that only come along this season (in Denver anyway) like picnics and farmers markets.

But what do I make with those farmers market goodies that I can bring on my picnics?

Here are a few of my favorite simple summer recipes…

Easy Ratatouille:

(adapted from nytimes.com)

Ratatouille is a simple dish that deliciously combines some of the best summer vegetables. It is great as a side for any grilled meats, or perfect to pack up hot or cold for a picnic treat.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant, diced with skin on
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 medium (firm) tomatoes, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Trim the ends from the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch cubes.

Put the oil in large skillet and turn heat to medium. Add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and keep cooking until the tomatoes begin to break down, another few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, garnish with the herb, and serve immediately, at room temperature, or chilled.

Watermelon Salad:

(from foodnetwork.com)

Watermelon is one of the most special summer treats, and it can be used in so many ways. Here is a great recipe for watermelon salad. Give it a try and it just may become your new favorite.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups seeded watermelon chunks
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup mint chiffonade
2 cups baby arugula

Preparation:

Add the white wine vinegar, lime zest and juice to a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the thinly sliced red onion and let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Add the watermelon, feta, mint, and arugula to a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve immediately after dressing.

Farmers Market Pasta Salad:

(from myrecipes.com)

This hearty summer recipe is perfect to pack up and go. It also gives you options for endless variety as you can swap out vegetables for whatever looks the best to you. Also, to kick up the health factor, I recommend using whole wheat or quinoa pasta.

Ingredients:

2 cups halved baby heirloom tomatoes
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup diced firm, ripe fresh peaches (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Olive oil vinaigrette
1 (8-oz.) package penne pasta
2 cups shredded smoked chicken (about 10 oz.)
1/3 cup torn fresh basil
1/3 cup torn fresh cilantro

Preparation:

Toss together first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Add hot cooked pasta and chicken to tomato mixture; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving platter, and top with basil and cilantro.

And of course, iced oolong tea is the perfect beverage to wash it all down.

Crave: Sweet Frozen Treats

Healthy Frozen Treats

Image thanks to Vegan Feast Catering

Although it has been a rather snowy spring here in Denver, it looks like the sun may finally be sticking around for a bit.

And soon it will be time for sunscreen and long, hot days…and the ice cream trucks jingling around every corner.

That oh-so-familiar jingle that can make even the strongest amongst us salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

Drumsticks, and rocket pops, and creamsicles, oh my!

So, what are you to do when you want a little frozen treat, but don’t want to stray from your healthy habits?

Here are a few ideas for healthy frozen treats…

Yogurt Frozen Strawberries:

This recipe couldn’t be a whole lot easier, and is terrific because it can work with a variety of berries, or be changed up by using a different flavor of Greek Yogurt…

Ingredients:

1 carton fresh strawberries
2 cups vanilla Greek Yogurt

Wash and dry the strawberries, then trim the tops and cut strawberries in half (or leave whole depending on size).

Using a toothpick, dip the strawberry halves into the Greek yogurt until coated. Distribute the coated strawberries onto a cookie sheet and then place into the freezer.

After about an hour, the strawberries can be transferred into freezer bags or Tupperware for easy storage. When you want a treat, grab a few and enjoy!

Frozen Chocolate Bananas:

I first had one of these at a fancy ice cream shop when I was a kid, and have loved them ever since. Simple and delicious.

Ingredients:

4 ripe but firm bananas
8 popsicle sticks
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
optional: chopped nuts, granola, or coconut flakes for dipping

Peel each banana and cut in half crosswise. Insert a popsicle stick carefully into each half to avoid splitting.

Arrange the bananas onto a tray and freeze until solid, at least one hour.

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or follow microwave directions. Hint: a tiny bit of coconut oil or other healthy oil may be stirred into the melted chocolate to make it smoother.

Pour melted chocolate into a tall glass. Dip each frozen banana into the chocolate and turn to coat. Once it is coated, the banana can then be rolled into chopped nuts, granola, or coconut flakes if desired.

Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic and store in the freezer.

Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream:

If you haven’t tried using frozen banana chunks as an ice cream base, I highly recommend it. When tossed in a food processor they create an incredibly smooth texture and great base for a lot of flavor options.

Ingredients:

2 peeled bananas, sliced and frozen until solid (very ripe bananas will work the best)
3 tbsp peanut butter
1-2 tsp honey

Blend frozen banana slices in food processor until they reach the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Add the peanut butter and honey and blend until combined.

Serve immediately, or return to freezer for a firmer consistency.

Note: this recipe allows for endless variety – try blending the frozen bananas with other frozen fruit and a splash of milk, or blend with cocoa powder and vanilla for a chocolaty treat.

Healthy Cooking Techniques 101

 

Healthy Cooking Techniques

photo credit: massdistraction via photopin cc

Discovering and sharing a good recipe is one of my favorite things to do. It’s like research, but with a delicious payoff.

Now, knowing some good recipes is great, but it occurred to me recently that one of the best ways to eat well is to know the fundamentals of cooking techniques.

Often the right method for cooking is just as important as the right ingredients.

I was lucky enough to grow up cooking, and I am grateful for the knowledge I have (thanks, mom), but I know that not everyone feels comfortable in the kitchen.

With that in mind, here are some of the best techniques for creating great flavor while keeping away from unwanted extra calories…

Bake:

Baking uses the dry heat of the oven and is a great way to cook a number of food items. We may generally think of it for things like cakes and cookies, but it is a terrific way to make low maintenance meals. You can bake just about anything, including seafood, chicken, veggies, and fruits. The reason that this technique is extra healthy is that it doesn’t generally require you to add any fat.

Roast:

This is essentially the same as baking, but typically at a higher temperature. Roasting is great way to develop flavor and carmelization.

Broil:

This is my personal favorite way to cook a whole variety of vegetables. In this case the food is exposed closely to direct heat, and it is a great way to bring out extra flavor. As with baking, no fat is required for cooking meat this way (just keep a close eye on it to avoid burning). I do often use a small amount of healthy oil when it comes to broiling veggies, but it’s well worth it for the delicious result.

Grill:

Grilling is another way to impart great flavor into your food without needing lots of fat or salt. It can completely change the flavor of bland veggies into something great, and cooking meat on the grill allows the fat to drip away from the food. Also, if you have never tried grilling fruit, I highly recommend it. Grilled peaches, plums, and pineapple are delicious and extra sweet.

Poach:

Poaching is the process of simmering foods in a liquid until they are cooked through. This can be a good way to cook meat or seafood healthfully, by using broth rather than oil or butter. It is also a method commonly used for eggs.

Steam:

This is one of the most familiar methods when it comes to healthy food preparation. In this case the food is suspended in a perforated basket above simmering liquid. This technique is most often used for vegetables. Food cooked this way can be made more flavorful by using seasoned liquid to steam with.

Sauté:

Sautéing is the process of cooking in a shallow pan over medium or high heat. There is often the use of some fat when sautéing, but a high-quality non-stick pan can eliminate the need for it. It is a good technique for quickly developing browning and/or carmelization while keeping food moist and flavorful.

Season:

Okay, so this one is not a cooking technique per se, but I feel that it is incredibly important. People often want to avoid healthy eating because they are convinced that it has to be bland and boring, but that is anything but the case (I hate bland). Herbs and spices are an amazing way to punch up flavor in place of salt or fat. Spices are also a great way to experiment and change up old recipes. Note: The rule of thumb with herbs is to use dried herbs early in your cooking, but if you are using fresh herbs, add them toward the end so that they retain some freshness and color.

Check out this link for a visual cheat sheet and more in-depth info about cooking techniques:
http://chasingdelicious.com/kitchen-101-cooking-methods/

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary.