Friday, February 25, 2011

Chew What!

I read recently that most people have given up their New Year's resolutions by the first of part of February. I'm not a big resolutions person as I try to always be striving towards some goal or another, but this year I decided to work  on something that seems so simple, but still haven't mastered. That's right, the headline gives it away, I'm working towards chewing my food. Go ahead laugh, your thinking, well aren't you already doing that? And the answer is sort of.

My friend, who is an integrative nutritionist, and I were talking about food as we frequently do and the conversation turned towards school lunches and my pet peeve, the approximately 25 minutes most kids have to go from their classroom, buy lunch, find a place to sit, (unpack lunch if they are bringing) eat, and then get ready for recess. My kids complain that they don't have enough time to eat frequently. I was sharing with her that for the most part we eat dinner together every night and that dinner could be an hour, if we had time and that I knew we ate slowly and actually chewed our food.

There is silence and then I hear, "You know you should chew each bite 30 times?" What? 30 times, well sure I did that, we were slow eaters after all. We took the time to enjoy our meals. I had never thought about how much I or my family chewed, so I thought I would start counting. That night I'm all excited, we're going to count our chews and we'll be at 30 chews in no time. We counted and we were all at 3-5 chews..practically gulping our bites.

Why is chewing so important? Believe it or not the process of digestion starts in your mouth, not your stomach. Your saliva contains enzymes that help break down your food. Some of those enzymes help break down starches to give you more energy and others break down fats that are consumed.
Additionally, mindfully chewing your food helps you eat more slowly and prevents overeating. Not overeating means less chance for gaining unwanted pounds, and, you will even taste more of your food.

How much should your really chew your food? It depends on what your eating. Obviously a piece of lettuce will take fewer chews than say a piece of steak. To try this, I suggest you start with taking smaller bites and work on chewing each bite until you can't what the food by it's texture.

Give it a try and see how many chews you can do. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Sweet Potato Chili

 I have been reading about benefits of eating a plant based diet and while sustainably raised meat and poultry always be part of our diet, I am trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals.

We also have a ton of sweet potatoes from our CSA and it's time they were used, so I made this for my meat loving family. Everyone was surprised how satisfying this chili was even though there was no meat.

4 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 cup of vegetable broth
2 smashed garlic cloves
1/2 onion diced
1/2 red pepper, diced (green pepper is ok too)
1 32oz can diced tomatoes
1 15oz can black beans
1 15oz can cannelli beans
2 tablespoons Worcestershire 
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne 

  • Add diced onion, pepper and smashed garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in to large sauce pan and saute until soft
  • Add diced sweet potato and cup of vegetable broth
  • Simmer for a few minutes and then add the rest of ingredients and stir
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Serve with whole grain bread
Note: We drink a about a gallon of tea a day and when we have left over tea I use it instead of opening broth. For this recipe I used rooibos, which is a red tea. Rooibos had a significant amount of vitamin C and various antioxidants. It is also caffeine free. The tea will give your soups and stew a bit of an earthy flavor.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Black Bean and Potato Soup

Found the inspiration for this in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. I thought it might be a little bland, but it turned out to be rich and delicious.  Here is how I made it:

1 medium onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, diced
6 cups cooked/canned black beans divided*
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
diced red onion, red pepper, and fresh spinach to garnish - optional

  1. Saute onion, pepper, and garlic in a little water or vegetable broth until soft. About 2-3 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Add 3 cups of beans and 6 cups of water and puree.
  4. Return mixture to saucepan and add remaining beans, potatoes, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, salt and chipolte pepper. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for aprox. 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cook through.
  6. Garnish with red onion, pepper, and spinach if desired. 

Note: 6 cups of cooked beans are approximately 4 cans of black beans.

Other options: I think next time I'll add some diced tomatoes to cook in also.   

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Photo Gallery: Top 12 healthy cookbooks of 2010 | New Hope 360

Check out 12 really cool sounding cookbooks. Even though most of the time I don't cook from recipes anymore, I love cookbooks because they give me great ideas for trying different flavors. In this collection there is something for everyone, from meat to gluten free baking and everything inbetween. I'm even feeling inspired to bake. It's going to be difficult to decide which book to buy first.

Photo Gallery: Top 12 healthy cookbooks of 2010 | New Hope 360

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Golden Harvest Muffins

I started making these when Brian was a eternity ago. I love the muffins because they are relatively healthy and my kids and all their like minded non-vegetable eating friends (back when Brian only ate yogurt and frozen tortellini)  love these muffins.

It has been a while since I made these and I'm thrilled that I found this recipe when I was looking for something different to have for dinner. I'll be making them this weekend in a triple batch and freezing most of them for the boys to eat later. I'll post a picture after I make them!

Here is the recipe:

1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Granny Smith (or any other type of apple), peeled, cored and shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Optional - Include any of the following to mix and match for whatever suits your taste:
1/2 shredded coconut
1/2 raisins, currents or dried cranberries
1/2 chopped walnuts, cashews, almonds or pecans
1/4 cup shredded zucchini or summer squash

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pans with olive oil
  • Stir together all dry ingredients
  • Shred apple, carrot and squash if adding, into a separate bowl
  • In large mixing bowl combine oil. milk, vanilla and eggs. Beat for 1 minute, then add sugar and beat for an additional minute. 
  • Add half of dry ingredients, and then add apple carrot and squash (if using) mixture. Stir
  •  Add the rest of the dry ingredients
  • Add nuts, raisins and/or coconut
  • Mix to combine and drop into muffin pans
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. 
Enjoy! And keep eating real food!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Moroccan Lentil Stew

I made stew for friends the other night. It is great on cold, snowy nights because of the wonderful combination of sweet and spicy flavors. Not too hot, the stew really warms you. It also makes great leftovers. 

The original recipe came from Vegetarian Times, but below are the ingredients I used. I don't usually use prepared soups either, but Dr. McDougall's* soups are all real food (I checked the ingredient list!) and on a busy weeknight this can be made in 30 minutes or less.

Serves 6
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 18.2-oz. cartons prepared lentil soup, such as Dr. McDougall’s
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 Tbs. plain nonfat Greek yogurt or soy yogurt, optional
1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, saute for 5 minutes. Add onion, and saute for 3 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute, or until garlic is softened, but not browned, stirring constantly.
2. Stir in tomatoes, soup, chickpeas, raisins, and all spices. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Bring stew to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, or until mixture is reduced and sauce has thickened, stirring often from bottom to prevent sticking. Garnish each serving with 1 Tbs. yogurt, if desired. 

*Dr. McDougall soups come in  box and can be found in the "organic" section at Giant, at Wegman/'s and health food stores.

Enjoy and keep eating real food!

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