Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Healthy Version of Milk and Cookies

This is my untraditional take on milk and cookies. The"milk" is a nut milk sweetened with medjool dates. The cookies are almonds, oats and dark chocolate chips. Both are tasty and good for you.

Here is how you do it.

Nut Milk:
1 cup of mixed almonds, cashews and brazil nuts, soaked overnight in water. 
5 medjool dates soaked overnight in water (make sure to take the pits out)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups of water
a dash of salt

Rinse the nuts until the water is clear.

Put all of the ingredients, including the water that the dates were soaked in,  in a blender and blend until smooth.
Strain the almond milk either through a cheesecloth, a strainer with a paper towel, or a nut bag . That gets out all of the nut and date bits, so it has the consistency of milk.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
You will need:
2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/4 teaspoon Xantham gum
1/3 cup chia powder
1/3 cup hemp seeds (ground to a fine flour)
1 cup rolled oats (ground to a fine flour)
1 cup raw almonds (ground to a fine flour)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil 
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350•

Grind the almonds, oats and hemp seeds. I find that a coffee grinder works very well. You can also use a blender.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Heat the coconut oil until liquid. At room temperature it has the consistency of margarine. Add the syrup and the oil to the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Mold the dough into cookie size shapes. This dough does no act like traditional chocolate chip cookie dough that 'melts' into a cookie shape. These will come out of the oven in the same size and shape they went in...
Bake 15 minutes on parchment lined baking tray. Don't overcook them. They will turn into rocks.

We should all limit our sugar. As recent studies show, sugar, in large amounts, can be very damaging to our health. Sugar gives pleasure, so cutting it out altogether is no fun. Instead, we should spend our sugar dollars wisely. Eat sugars in small amounts and eat ones that have additional health benefits, like the vitamins and minerals in maple syrup and dates, and the antioxidants in dark chocolate.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Organic vs Conventional

You can reduce your pesticide exposure level by 90% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. You cannot get rid of the pesticides with extra washing or peeling.

This list is from Kelly Dorfman's book "What's Eating Your Child?"

The Red Zone             So-So Levels                     Better                             Ahhhhh
avoid unless                 use caution                         but not                            the best of
organic                                                                   perfect                            the bunch

Peaches                       Spinach                              Applesauce                    Broccoli
Apples                          Grapes                               Raspberries                   Orange Juice
Sweet Bell Peppers     Lettuce                                Plums                            Blueberries
Celery                          Potatoes                             Grapefruit                       Papaya
Nectarines                   Green Beans                      Tangerine                      Cabbage
Strawberries                Hot Peppers                        Apple Juice                   Bananas
Cherries                      Cucumbers                          Honeydew Melon          Kiwi
Carrots                        Mushrooms                         Tomatoes                      Canned
Pears                          Cantaloupe                          Sweet Potatoes             Tomatoes*
Frozen Winter             Oranges                              Watermelon                   Asparagus
Squash                        Fresh Winter                       Cauliflower                    Mango
                                    Squash                                                                      Canned Pears
                                                                                                                      Sweet Corn**
                                                                                                                      Sweet Peas

My additions:
*Careful when buying canned tomatoes. Buy BPA Free cans or buy the tomatoes in the cardboard box. Tomatoes are very acidic, so the BPA easily leaches into them.
**Most corn is Genetically Modified. You don't need to buy organic corn but you do need to avoid GMO corn. Look at the barcode. If it says 9 it is organic. If it says 4 it is conventionally grown. If it says 8 it is a GMO.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries

 Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods around. They are very high in vitamins, minerals,  and complex carbohydrates as well as dietary fibers and protein. The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one most nutritious vegetable because they such are so nutritionally rich. The best part is that they are naturally sweet, so kids like them.
Homemade Sweet Potato Fries are an easy way to get kids to eat this great root vegetable. And they are so easy to prepare.  Just chop the sweet potato (skin on), toss with oil and salt, spread them out on a baking tray and pop them in the oven at 375 for 1/2 an hour. I like to broil them on low for the last five minutes of cooking, because it makes them a little crispier. You can add additional spices if your family will go for that. My kids like spice, so I add a little caynenne pepper.
The other fun thing you can do is use cookie cutters to cut them into cool shapes. That is a fun afternoon project that you can do with your kids that turns into a yummy dish at dinner.

You can even make super heroes!

 It is very important that you buy organic when you purchase potatoes of any kind. The potato acts like a sponge with chemical pesticides. Peeling it doesn't help because the chemicals are absorbed by the potato. Also, much of the iron and dietary fiber is in the peel.
The quality of all fruits and vegetables is determined by the quality of the soil they are grown in. If they are grown organically, in a sustainable way, then they will have the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals. The more burnt out the soil, and the more chemicals used, the less nutritious they are. So buy organic for your health, and the health of the planet.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Sinus Tea

When that all too familiar pressure behind my nose starts to build, I know where to turn: Sinus Tea. This happens to me twice a year, if I am lucky. More, if I am not. When it happens, this tea really does the trick.

You will need:
The peel of an organic onion. Organic is important because you are using the skin. Red onion is better but white works as well.
1/4 inch piece of ginger (about the size of the tip of your thumb,) diced.
A few sprigs of thyme
Honey. The less processed the better.

Put the onion peel, ginger and thyme in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the temperature to medium and allow to simmer, uncovered, for around 7 minutes.

Add honey until it is sweet enough for you. I find one teaspoon to be enough for me.

The reason it works;
Onion, the skin in particular, has many medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammtory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It is also an expectorant, so is especially good for sinus and respiratory issues.
Ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It aids in circulation so, theoretically, will help you get over your cold more quickly. It is a warming root, so it is soothing. It also has anti-inflammatory properties
Thyme works as an antiseptic and an antihistimine. It is especially good for bronchial issues.
Honey is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and has tons of anti-oxidants.

I find this tea to be very soothing. The anti-inflammatory action takes the pressure off of my nose. It also  loosens the tightness in my chest. You should drink lots of fluids when you are sick, so two cups of this a day is helpful. The steam from the tea also help to open up nasal passages and generally feels good going down. Ahhhhhh...relief.