Juicy, Fleshy, Figs!

I apologize for the photos but I certainly hope that these BEAUTIFUL figs make your mouth water like they did mine!

Figs are great snacks and can set the stage for fancy appetizers like goat cheese stuffed figs with pistachios.

Fresh figs are seriously underrated in my opinion and everyone should eat as many as they can.

Dried figs are nutritious and delicious but fresh figs are a real treat.

Figs are a great source of fiber and are low in calories.

For vegans concerned about calcium, consider this:

Figs are a fruit source of calcium (79 milligrams in an 8 oz-wt serving), a mineral that has many functions including promoting bone density. Additionally, figs’ potassium may also counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of most Americans, thus helping to further prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate.

Not much needs to be done to prepare figs for your favorite recipes or impromptu creations.

Lightly clean the skin with with water, cut in half and scoop out the flesh, if desired.

Eat the tender skin to benefit from fig’s high fiber content.

You don’t need to add sugar.

You can use the meaty flesh as a fruit spread, in baked goods or with savory cheeses and artisan breads.

Enjoy and Share!

Flaxseed and Rye Bread with Avocado, Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise Sandwich

I realize that this sounds like a mouthful but trust me it’s worth the effort.

Instead of going gluten free I’ve decided to stay away from all wheat; Dwarf Wheat in particular, and opt for other grain varieties.

I happen to love rye bread and the added benefit of flaxseed made this a great choice.

Although Rye does contain gluten, it is much less than what is found in dwarf wheat which is consumed today.

Let’s get back to this sandwich!

The avocado, fresh basil and tomato are sprinkled with sea salt and a large dollop of mayonnaise.

This is a huge treat for me.

The mayo is the only real dietary indulgence….everything else is so healthy!

It is a filling, delicious lunch that leaves plenty of room for watermelon later in the day!

Enjoy and share!

The Amazing Health benefits of Spinach

The amazing health benefits of spinach may surprise you.

The benefits begin here but that’s not all.

Read on for all the great things spinach can do for you.

In just one cup of cooked spinach…

High in Protein – The highest vegetable protein around! One cup of spinach equals 5g of protein. (12% DV)

Super high in Vitamin A – Over 18,000 IU (377% DV). Vitamin A benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.

Crazy high in Vitamin K – Second only to Cauliflower with over 880 mcg (1111% DV) Vitamin K is essential as it helps calcium adhere to the bone making them stronger.

Great source of Folate/Folic Acid – Over 260 mcg or 66% DV. Which is particularly important for pregnant or nursing women.

Nice source of Vitamin C – With 17.6 mg or 29% DV. This also benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.

Great source of Minerals – 84% DV of manganese, 39% DV of magnesium, 36% DV of iron, 24% DV of potassium, and 24% DV of calcium.

13 Flavonoids that help to fight cancer, protect against age related memory loss, and prevent heart disease.
Decent source of Fiber with 4.3g or 17% DV.

Look through PantryDiaries for more recipes and ideas for spinach.

Yummy, Spinach and Cannellini Soup

With a few staples in the pantry you can create fresh and filling healthy meals by adding a seasonal ingredient or two.

Cannellini or white kidney beans, garlic, yellow onion and coconut oil are always on hand.

A bunch of fresh spinach added to a few simple staples puts this meal over the top.

Coconut oil, garlic and yellow onion sauté until soft and then add spicy and beans.

Add a few cups of water and allow the everything to simmer together.

I have been avoiding soup bases and bullion because they contain MSG…even the vegan brands, for the most part.

This dish doesn’t need it.

The richness of the coconut oil makes this soup tasty without any added chemicals.

This meal is very clean and filling.

Talk about cheap!

There is no excuse not to eat well when you can have a meal like this in minutes.

Enjoy and share!

Spicy Kale and Sweet Potato Stir Fry

This recipe is and anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory recipe that is hard to beat.

I really don’t know if you can eat any healthier than this.

Organic kale and sweet potatoes, garlic and coconut oil with crushed red pepper flakes.

This meal is fairly inexpensive, really.

Especially when you consider how much nutrition you get for the money and how filling this is.

Start with about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 3-4 cloves of garlic. ( I always use a lot of garlic! )

Saute in a pan and add 3-4 large sweet potatoes, washed, with skin on and diced into 1 inch cubes.

Cook these ingredients together until the sweet potatoes get soft.

The fat in the coconut oil helps your body to process the vitamin A in the sweet potatoes, which, by the way, has been found to be beneficial in protecting the body against skin cancer as seen on the Dr. Oz Show.

Mine became mushy but I didn’t care. This is soooooo good!

Massage the kale….yes. Massage it, wash it and chop it up and add to the pan and cook unit soft.

Add crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste.

You will crave this dish. I promise.

You will feel satisfied but not heavy and you will have done yourself a favor.

I also added some turmeric, ginger and cumin.

These are my favorite spices and they are great for your health.

I have been going on about coconut oil lately so please don’t get bored with me.

Coconut oil is so incredibly beneficial to you health and especially to brain health and is showing promise mitigating the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

It tastes great, it’s good for you.

Use it every chance that you get.

Enjoy and share!

So Delicious! Black Bean and Avocado Spread!

I apologize that my photos are not more glamorous or that the spread itself is not prettier.

But there is no denying the fact that this little dish is one yummy and nutritious treat.

Coconut oil, black beans, garlic and avocado create a powerhouse of healthy oils, fiber and antioxidants in a tasty and convenient spread or dip; warm or chilled.

This recipe is an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant rich combination that is easy to incorporate into your diet.

Just sauté garlic in coconut oil for a minute add 2-3 cans of organic black beans and cook until soft.

I start mashing everything with a potato masher then add the avocado and blend in the food processor.

Avocado is my new favorite food these days and I use it as a meat/dairy substitute in sandwiches and as a base for creamy dips and spreads.

My diet is becoming increasingly vegan if for no other reason than I simply feel better; more energized, lighter, and sharper.

Coconut oil is another of my favorites and I find ways to squeeze it into everything that I eat.

In this recipe it adds tremendous richness, creaminess and depth of flavor.

I find that coconut oil lends a richness that meat and dairy add to foods.

Black beans are a major staple in my kitchen.
They are super cheap, incredibly nutritious and convenient.

I buy organic beans in BPA-free cans and I find that if I always have them on hand I always have a meal.

From a quick soup to a warm spread or quesadilla, black beans are a great source of protein.

I served these with organic corn chips.

Served warm as a spread for bread or in a corn tortilla with other veggies, this is a quick and convenient source of protein and nutrition.

Keep some in the fridge and serve with brown rice and sautéed red peppers and it makes a cheap and easy meal.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Whoopi Pies To Die For!

“Skinny Bitch” and “Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps” author, Kim Barnouin has shared this recipe for chocolate whoopi pies.

Read the book if you get the chance but definitely make these sinfully delicious desserts!

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond milk and vinegar, and set aside. (It will curdle a little; it’s supposed to do that.)

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, arrowroot, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the almond milk mixture to the batter and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and almond milk mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before placing them onto a rack to cool completely.

Filling

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and Earth Balance together until well combined. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the extract and almond milk, and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.

These will not last very long and I challenge you to miss anything.

I would like to try making these with coconut flour to make them gluten/wheat free, as well

Mindful Management of Food


Courtesy of Public Domain by Peggy Greb

The wonderful thing about being human is all that one has in common with other humans. Just as equally though despite this commonality each of us is unique in the details. Our bodies and minds have different needs and ways of digesting, staying healthy or growing. What fuels us is what we eat. Much study,and writing has been done about food, eating, health, and weight. Unfortunately we have prioritized weight as the deciding factor instead of health. One needs to pull back and look at the big picture. Each of our bodies has amazing strengths and the same body will have definite weaknesses. Much of our health depends on knowing how our body responds and reacts to stress, disease, food, chemicals or age.

Access to Information

It is now critical to get access to information on your individual issues or needs. Prepaid phones makes an excellent tool for tracking a diet, getting information on your particular body type, finding recipes, or restaurants that serve food that is healthy for your body. The Pantry Diaries is a great example of this. This site gives information on recipes, ways to deal with your body, and information on a gluten-free diet.

iPhone

A prepaid phone on an iPhone platform would give one access to the Nutrition Menu 1.4.0. Made specifically to give information on at least 33,000 menu items for 320 restaurants in Canada and the United States this app lists fat, calories,carbs, sugar, sodium, and protein. It tracks calories and lets one subtract calories burned during exercise. One does not need Wi-Fi to use it.

iMuscle 1.2 lets one create a workout plan. It provides 450 exercises, ways to stretch, and lifts at your finger tips and from your pocket. A 3-D muscle man appears for a visual representation of what one needs to do. Tap on the biceps and it will zoom in on that muscle group. A scroll bar will list the possible exercises one may want to use to develop strength and refinement. Another screen groups exercise according to the muscle group they will affect. The 3D man goes as far as showing you how to do the exercises.

Android

This platform offers a specific program to help promote a healthy aging called Cenegenics Lifestyle mobile apps. The online tracking program comes interactive with age appropriate information and even offers a counselor that advises nutrition and exercise options. Promoted by a medical institute the app has a patient-medical team interactivity so one is not alone in tailoring diet and exercise needs.

ImmunityBoosters app creates ones own personal defending army. An efficient immune system is the key factor in preventing infection and illness. Stress, a poor diet, smoking or other excesses, pollutions and toxins all work to weaken immunity. The app lists documented foods as immunity boosters. Then it gives information on the vitamin and mineral content and what it helps.

Now one can do mindful management of what matters in their food intake easily.

Eating Healthy On A Budget

Is it really to possible to eat healthy food on a budget?

It is a common belief among many that healthy foods are more expensive and some studies have helped to create this misconception.

When you consider that value is often calculated on a calorie per dollar equation then, indeed, calorie dense foods often appear to offer a bigger bang for your buck than less calorie dense foods.

If, however, you are calculating value on a nutrition scale then high calorie often high saturated fat, sugar and sodium containing foods fall short.

In other words, junk food and prepared foods offer a lot of calories per dollar but those calories come at the cost of your health by being laden with saturated fats, high fructose corn syrup and other sugars as well as dangerously high sodium levels while offering little if any nutritive value.

There is also this obsession with protein which further confuses the issue.

Americans have gotten it into their collective psyche that protein equals meat.

While it is true that meat does contain protein it is also true that almost all foods contain protein.

All foods do not offer the full compliment of 9 amino acids needed to make a complete protein profile of 21 amino acids, however, by consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and beans, it can be easily achieved in a meal or throughout the day.

Sprouted Lentils, soy and quinoa for instance, are complete proteins.

While meat can be expensive and add to high fat and cholesterol, eggs, sardines, skim milk and yogurt are healthy and cost effective ways to add protein at very little cost.

These foods used in moderation and as compliments to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and brown rice, nutritional requirements should be easily met at little cost.

Here’s the trick: necessary ingredients include creativity, time, planning and a willingness to eat leftovers!

I eat very inexpensively and healthfully and am limited only by time and energy.

Go-to meals are often a hard boiled egg and avocado breakfast followed by a lentil lunch and veggies like cauliflower, broccoli or kale with a baked sweet potato for dinner.

I add coconut oil to cooked dishes to increase nutrition and taste.

Big pots of oatmeal, bean chills and cooked vegetables go a long way throughout the week and keep you full and energized.

The effort it takes to eat healthy may seem overwhelming, especially to busy working moms or moms who have to travel to grocery stores because they can’t find produce in their neighborhoods.

But it is also about reading labels and expanding your knowledge about what good nutrition is and why it is so important.

Eating offers one of the truly few opportunities we have to choose.

Think about it; we may not live in the home we want, love the job we have or be in the perfect relationships but everyday we put food in our mouths.

We can decide in that moment if that food will nourish us by eating something healthy and nutritious or simply entertain our tastebuds for a moment with empty calories, artery clogging fats, unnecessary sugars and enough sodium to send our blood pressure through the roof.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread With Coconut Flour, Chocolate Chips And Walnuts

There is so much information about gluten and the damage that it can inflict on those who are gluten intolerant, allergic or who suffer from celiac disease that a real fact of the matter goes unnoticed; “Dwarf Wheat”

Einkorn wheat, the original grass eaten by our ancestors, has been genetically modified.

Norman Borlaug is credited with feeding the world with the super hardy hybrid, however, in it’s wake has been left a host of ills.

Even if you do not suffer from any number of gluten maladies you may be putting on weight, especially belly fat, experiencing mental fog and fatigue and suffering mild headaches.

Simply feeling bloated after eating wheat products was enough for me to investigate further and come up with a few solutions.

Giving up baked goods is not easy for me or for my family.

I like my girls to eat home made foods as much as possible but the idea of re-tooling my kitchen with gluten-free products seemed over whelming.

It turns out that it is not as difficult as I was making it out to be.

I took one of our favorite recipes, banana bread with walnuts and chocolate chips and adapted it to a wheatless recipe.

Ingredients

3-5 really ripe bananas
2/3 cup of coconut oil
2/3 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
2 1/3 cup coconut flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

opptional

finely chopped walnuts to taste
chocolate chips to taste

I used a cup of quinoa flour but next time I won’t. The flavor was a bit strong, almost bitter, so I’ll use only coconut flour next time.

Also, the batter was a bit dry and thick, however, you can see by the photos that it baked with a nice crust and was quite moist, actually.

Adding more coconut oil or another banana should remedy any dryness.


Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and “flour” 2 loaf pans

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl

Pour into loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes

I am going to try this recipe again and attempt to make it vegan.

I would also like to eliminate the sugar adding applesauce or prune puree……I’ll keep you posted!

This certainly didn’t cook like the original recipe containing wheat, however, neither was it dense nor crumbly.

It didn’t rise much but it was still very good.

It has a nice crispy crust and only a mild coconut flavor…

…offset by the chocolate chips, I’m sure.

My daughter took one bite and said, “this is different”.

By the next bite she said, “I’m already used to it”

It didn’t take long for the girls to get on board.

It is not my intention to cook something that is simply gluten-free but healthy and nutritionally beneficial, as well.

Coconut oil is so good for you and I am finding ways to include in my diet everyday.

Coconut flour is high in fiber and contains protein for cell growth.

By turning our favorite family recipes into natural health boosters I hope to keep them smiling and satisfied for years to come.