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Gluten-free, Sugar-free Raspberry Muffins

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on November 29, 2012
5 comments

RASPBERRY GLUTEN-FREE SUGAR-FREE MUFFINS:

 

We’ve been experimenting with quite a few sugar free, gluten-free, yeast-free breads and desserts. We have had some victories and a few disappointments, but I wanted to share them with you. This is an adaptation to our Blueberry Muffin recipe posted last week – see here. For anyone with yeast overgrowth or even just some yeast issues, these will help starve that yeast and get it eliminated from your body. Often times we don’t even realize we have yeast and the possibility that they might have taken control of our intestinal flora. Do you have lots of bloating after eating? Probably yeast. Can’t lose weight even though you’re starving yourself? Probably yeast. We have to starve it by eliminating ALL sugar and yeast from our diets. Other things need to be eliminated too, but these are the main culprits. To say it's difficult to find a sugar-free, gluten-free, and YEAST-free bread is an understatement. Let me know if you do. We've experimented with a few recipes and found some we really liked. I will be posting those recipes very soon.

Now, just a short note about these recipes. They are adapted from a book called "The Joy of Gluten-free, Sugar-free Baking" and I highly recommend the book. However, I suddenly realized with my last two recipe attempts, the authors are WEIGHING their dry ingredients. For instance, one recipe says 1 cup (4 oz/113 grams)! Well, I've been baking since I was a kid and one cup to me is 8 ounces in a dry measuring cup - so totally NOT 4 oz! So I decided to actually weigh the flour this time at 85 grams and I think they turned out better than the last batch. Which, really if you think about it, each "flour" has a different weight - it's a bit different than using all purpose flour which stays the same. The almond flour I purchased and is available in most grocery stores, but for the pecan flour, I simply ground up raw organic pecans in the spice grinder. And seriously? If you don't have yeast issues or aren't worried about the glycemic load, you could use sugar in these recipes. Hmmm - and did you notice? There are NO oils or fats added? The fats are naturally derived from the nuts - and they are the healthy fats!

Ingredients:

¾ cups (3 oz/85 grams) pecan flour
¾ cup (3 oz/85 grams almond flour
½ cup Stevia in the Raw Extract (we were able to find this at Russ's! One of our least health-oriented grocery stores.)
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/3 cup organic dried coconut
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (approximately 3.5 oz/99 grams)
½ cup (4 oz/113 grams) unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 packet NuStevia
½ to 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (I put them in still frozen)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 9 to 10 muffin cups with paper liners. I like to spray them with olive oil spray (optional). Mix the pecan flour, almond flour, Stevia in the Raw, hemp seeds, coconut, baking powder and salt until well blended. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and NuStevia until well blended.  Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon for 1 to 2 minutes. I’ve found that this is an important step to get the correct consistency of the batter. I even set my timer for 2 minutes after I pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture but I’m a little OCD-ish. Fold the raspberries into the batter – gently of course. Again, no need to thaw them out first - easy and fast.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and the cups should be just about full. They don’t rise much if at all.  Place the muffin pan on a cookie sheet and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Test them with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, they’re ready. I like to then set them out on a wire rack for cooling. Well, truthfully, I like to pull a really hot one out and slather it with butter and eat it right then - my reward.

We liked these a lot and Warren took a few to work with him today.  I will do a nutritional analysis, but just knowing that I’m using nut “flour” (and we use organic raw nuts), NO sugar, and coconut milk – the amount of fiber and protein has to be high. The raspberries of course were not sweetened – so more goodness for you.

Let me know if you try these and how they turned out. If you have any questions, let me know!

Thanks for listening!


Red Lentil Artichoke Stew - Meatless Monday

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on October 08, 2012
1 comment

Meatless Monday - October 8, 2012

Red Lentil Artichoke Stew


 

RED LENTIL ARTICHOKE STEW:

1-1/2 cups water
2 medium sized yellow onions, diced
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin (we always use more cumin than called for in everything – so use more if you want!)
1 tsp ground coriander (take the whole ones and grind them up with a mortal and pestle – no comparison to ground spices in the bottle at the grocery store)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp fresh organic lemon juice (I use organic cold-pressed essential oil if I don’t have the organic lemons, just a couple drops)
1 can (24 oz) chopped tomatoes undrained
1 can (15 oz) drained artichoke hearts
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauté onions until transparent. I like a little brown on them as it sweetens and mellows out the flavors but I also sometimes get distracted and they brown to the point of bitter, so just keep an eye on them. Add the garlic until just warm and you can smell it, then add the spices. Blend this just until the fragrance rises from the pan. Add the water, lentils, bay leaf, lemon juice, tomatoes with liquid, artichoke hearts and red pepper flakes (we don’t always do this, but we’re wimps when it comes to “heat”.) Bring this to a boil. Lower the heat to just a simmer and let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Now I have to admit that I’ve been writing down recipes since I was 16 yrs old (or younger), so I wasn’t sure where this one came from, but I googled it and apparently I wrote this one down during one of our afternoons at Barnes & Noble since I don’t have the book or at least can’t find it right now, but I have way too many cook books – or so my family would tell me. I’m not sure you can EVER have too many. It apparently was “adapted” from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I’m much more careful now when I write down a recipe to make sure I also make note of the original author.

Let me know if you try it, how you liked it, or how you would improve it. I have never ever followed a recipe that I didn’t change it somewhat and then change it again the next time I cook it. Which is why I make a photocopy of each recipe and then note the date I first try it, who was there, what was the occasion, and how did we like it. It gives me great joy to go back through some of my recipes and remember some of the family occasions where we first tried them. 

I've posted another artichoke recipe that is one of our favorites - here - and also why we think artichokes are one of nutrition's super hero's here.   AND - three more nutritional reasons to try this recipe - here.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

Arnica montana oil for arthritic pain

By Ann C Wooledge
on September 20, 2012

Organic Arnica oil for arthritic pain and inflammation

Arnica montana organic flowers 

Arnica (Arnica montana) is a well-known and well-established herbal cure for anyone who has ever experienced the debilitating  pain and inflammation of arthritis, broken bones, sprains, gout, pulled muscles or torn ligaments. We began infusing (also commonly referred to as macerating) our own Arnica oil several years ago when we realized that some of the most important constituents in this amazing herb can be lost if processed at high temperatures. This herb has also been referred to as Arnica chamissonis, leopard's bane and mountain tobacco. The product we use is from the flowers of Arnica montana that are collected at the end of the summer and dried for medicinal use. We are diligently looking for local growers and our dream, of course, is to have land of our own to grow and dry our own plants. In the meantime, we carefully source our herbs from a company who is extremely concerned about the environment and tests for pesticides and heavy metals. We receive fresh herbs that still have their natural color and brightness intact, as you can see from the picture. If not used immediately, we store our herbs in dark glass in dark closed cabinets.

What are the benefits of Arnica montana oil?:

Traditionally the benefits from this plant are obtained from the flowers and the roots. In countries where Arnica is indigenous it has been used as a popular remedy for pain, bruises, rheumatism, as well as many other inflammatory conditions. In North America the flower is what is used most frequently and this is in fact what we use in our organic Arnica infused oil - not to be confused with an essential oil.  Although due to its potential toxicity the internal use of Arnica is allowed only in homeopathic remedies - this caution does NOT apply to the external topical application. In fact, this particular plant is well-known as one of the best remedies for external local healing and can be used as a compress or included in a massage oil or cream. Which is why it is one of the main ingredients in our very popular Spicey Muscle Oil.

According to the most reliable authority, The Complete German Commission E Monographs, arnica contains helenalin, its most active sesquiterpene lactone, responsible for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects (1, 2), for those who are interested,  and 11,13-dihydrohelenalin. This plant also contains the flavanoids of isoquercitrin, luteolin-7-glucoside, and astragalin, the volatile oil (with thymol and its derivatives), phenol carbonic acid (chlorogenic acid, cynarin, caffeic acid), and coumarins (umbelliferone, scopoletin). Arnica montana is known to contain 10 different constituents which have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits. According to the Aromatic Guide to the Use of Herbs by Kolbjorn Borseth, the essential oils of this plant "stimulates the mopping up and reabsorption of blood from the bruised tissue and hastened the replacement of damaged tissue with new cells.” According to Richo Cech in his classic book Making Plant Medicine, he indicates that "arnicated oil" is an excellent penetrating anti-inflammatory for treating traumatic injuries such as bruises, sprains and torn ligaments. He goes on to say that “Arnica resolves stuck blood.”  And in yet another herbal classic entitled "The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook" by James Green, he indicates that Arnica oil can also be blended into equal parts with infused calendula and infused St. John's Wort oils for soothing traumatic injuries including small to major ones. We are also offering these two infused oils on our website and, of course, they are the base for our previously mentioned Spicey Muscle Oil.

Our organic herbal tradition process:

While making our unique infused oil, we use only the certified organic flowers of Arnica montana and infuse these flowers in a certified organic high oleic sunflower oil. The sunflower oil alone has an amazing array of benefits the details of which can be found on our website. Research has shown that sunflower oil when used on premature infants actually increased their ability to survive. Use in soaps, creams, lotions and/or massage oils. As mentioned previously, we infuse these flowers for weeks at low temperatures to ensure that we are obtaining the maximum amount of healing constituents. We are now offering this infused oil to the public on our website in a one ounce treatment bottle, or 2 or 4 ounce glass amber bottle. The amber glass is used to protect these precious healing constituents from UV light. Our prices are extremely competitive as our overhead costs are substantially lower than larger operations. Additionally, in the best herbal tradition,  we do this process in small batches and fully believe that the energy of good will and purpose as we stir these oils daily will be reflected in the overall quality of the end product. Our final infused/macerated oils are stored in recycled wine bottles with vacuum pumps to insure no benefits are lost - and we store them in a refrigerated room to insure their freshness.

SAFETY AND CAUTIONS:

All herbalists agree that Arnica montana oil should not be applied to an opened wound. Repeated application to the skin can cause irritation. Do not apply to broken skin and this herb is not recommended while pregnant or nursing. 

Thanks for listening!



1. Lyss, G., T. J. Schmidt, I. Merfort, and H. L. Pahl. "Helenalin, an anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone from Arnica, selectively inhibits transcription factor NF-kappaB." Biological Chemistry 378.9 (1997): 951-61. Web.

2. Lyss, G., A. Knorre, T. J. Schmidt, H. L. Pahl, and I. Merfort. "The anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone helenalin inhibits the transcription factor NF-kappaB by directly targeting p65."  Biological Chemistry 273.50 (1988): 33508-16. Web.

Energy drinks - are they really bad for your teeth?

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on September 10, 2012
2 comments

Energy drinks cause tooth decay?

 

Do you still have pearly white teeth? And I'm sure you are aware that the health of your teeth is more valuable than gold? Energy drinks may sound like a good thing and obviously they are popular for different reasons for different people. But did you know they can cause serious damage to your teeth if you drink them often? A recent study which took a look at 22 different energy drinks, including Red Bull Sugar Free and Rockstar were acidic enough to harm tooth enamel. The Red Bull Sugar Free and Rockstar were the most acidic of the 22 tested. The authors of the study tested different brands of drinks for their effects on tooth enamel and found both energy drinks and sports drinks caused damage. Energy drinks, however, were twice as bad. Damaged tooth enamel cannot be fixed. Enamel is the hard outer layer of a tooth made mostly of minerals. Tooth decay is caused primarily by bacteria as they feed on the sugars in the food you eat - and they form acids. The acids attack the teeth for 20 minutes or more after eating. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. So by exposing your teeth to even more acid, you are speeding up the process. 

The study:

Poonam Jain, BDS, MPH, associate professor and director of community dentistry at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and her associates tested 13 sports drinks and 9 energy drinks for acidity. They tested six drinks for their effects on tooth enamel and found both types caused damage. Energy drinks, however, were twice as bad. The study is published in the journal General Dentistry. (1)

Those who don't agree:

As would be expected, the industry itself has made various comments attempting to refute the results of this study. I don’t think any one questions that acidity damages the enamel on teeth, so it would probably depend on how many energy/sports drinks you drink a day and how long your teeth are exposed to the acid in your particular choice of drink.  I am working on a blog about energy drinks in general and they aren’t good for you for many reasons, this being only one of them. However, if you want to continue drinking your energy drinks/sports drinks, my suggestion would be to use some xylitol chewing gum immediately after and drinking water to dilute the acid levels. Xylitol has been found to kill bacteria in your mouth. We've found a NOW brand of xylitol in a local health food store and use it as one of our sugar free replacements and in our homemade toothpaste. The authors of the study suggested that brushing your teeth immediately after drinking the energy drink is not a good idea as it will spread the acid further. Their suggestion was to wait approximately one hour afterwards and then brush your teeth.

My suggestion, of course, would be to JUICE your own energy juice using real organic vegetables and fruits.

Thanks for listening!


1.  Academy of General Dentistry. "Sports and energy drinks responsible for irreversible damage to teeth." ScienceDaily, 1 May 2012. Web. 10 Sep. 2012.

For further reading and information on this subject:

http://www.agd.org/about/newsmedia/pressreleases/Default.asp?PubID=45&IssID=1499&ArtID=10618#body

http://www.naturalnews.com/035830_energy_drinks_acid_teeth.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/sports-energy-drinks-teeth-tooth-damage-enamel_n_1468401.html


Respiratory infections in children reduced 50%

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on August 21, 2012
1 comment

RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS IN CHILDREN DECREASED 50% WITH VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTATION

 

According to a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School: "Our study design provides strong evidence that the association between low vitamin D and respiratory infections is causal and that treating low vitamin D levels in children with an inexpensive and safe supplement will prevent some respiratory infections," says Camargo. He went on to say: "In almost 250 children with low blood levels of vitamin D during winter, we found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement cut in half the risk of a respiratory infection." (1)

It is well understood that vitamin D is produced in the body by absorbing sunlight at certain times of the day in certain areas of the world – see our 3-part blog for details. This particular team of researchers, therefore, took their study to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, since the risk of vitamin D deficiency is very high in that area of the world, and especially during the winter. This is true in all northern areas of the world, including Nebraska where we live. Their study was conducted on school children who were determined to have low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), which is the gold standard for measuring vitamin D status in the body. That being said, these results are to be assumed to only apply to those children who are already deficient in this vitamin.

RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS:

Although vitamin D is already known to be beneficial for bone health and many other issues as detailed in our original blogs, in this study, the researchers were attempting to compare the number of winter respiratory infections of those children who received daily supplementation of vitamin D through locally produced milk as compared to the control group who received the same milk, but without the vitamin D supplementation. This was a blind study in that  it would not be possible to detect which milk contained the supplement and which didn’t so that children, teachers, and local researchers could not tell which group received vitamin D.

HALF THE INCIDENCE OF RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS:

Based on reports from their parents, the children receiving vitamin D had about half the incidence of respiratory infections than the control group had. Obviously, this is significant and something easily remedied with inexpensive vitamin D3 supplements readily available. The researchers used 300 IU daily as their dosage. Many doctors and clinical nutritionists are recommending much higher doses especially in the adult population. It would be important to have your levels checked before the fall flu season hits so you can begin to get you and your children’s vitamin D levels up to recommended levels. The U. S. Institute of Medicine raised their recommended daily dose for children to 400 IU, but some health professionals recommend doses as high as 1,000 IU for children who are risk. Again, it would be important to have your levels checked now to allow time to increase your levels. It is also recommended that if you begin supplementation with vitamin D, that you continue to have your levels monitored by your doctor.

Thanks for listening!


Ann

 

(1) Carlos A. Camargo Jr, Davaasambuu Ganmaa, A. Lindsay Frazier, Franca F. Kirchberg, Jennifer J. Stuart, Ken Kleinman, Nyamjav Sumberzul, and Janet W. Rich-Edwards. Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation and Risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infection in Mongolia. Pediatrics, August 20, 2012


Easier Veggie Flax Seed Crackers

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on July 20, 2012

Easier Veggie Flax Seed Crackers

 

Our favorite morning "energy" juicing recipe is just a matter of throwing in a few beets, carrots, celery stalks, and sometimes a low-sugar apple such as Granny Smith. We add 1/2 half of a raw lemon sometimes. I recently made our juice for the morning - without the apple - and looked at the stack of pulp that was left. We often just stir that into the dog's food dishes and they surprisingly really like it. For some reason that morning I started considering how I could use that pulp in some raw flax seed crackers. I decided to add ground flax seed, whole flax seed, some fresh minced garlic and some fresh chopped onions, plus some seasoning. By "raw", I mean using the dehydrator at around 105 to 110 degrees rather than baking them. I ended up doing both - one batch dehydrated and one batch baked at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. 

Following those successful batches, I then decided rather than juicing the vegetables why not just put them through the food processor. So I did just that and added walnuts and sunflower seeds - a good choice and certainly enhanced the flavor and feel of the cracker. I baked half and dehydrated half. The nutrition is obviously higher in the dehydrated ones, but I do like the instant gratification (well 2 hours) over the 10 to 12 hours in the dehydrator. Very satisfying for us since we haven't had any bread or cracker products in quite some time.

For the last batch, I did use the food processor and for some reason baking them at 350 degrees for one hour ended up burning a large outside portion of the batch - big bummer. (See important note below - after subsequent batches, I found that 250 degrees worked much better. Bake 1 hour, score and turn the crackers over and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes until crispy.) I had put half of the batch in the dehydrator so we at least had those. I should have checked them rather than just setting the timer for one hour, but was busy outside. Lessons learned. I do suggest that since different combinations of vegetables can certainly be substituted as some people aren't as fond of beets as we are, or onions, that you blend the mixture, add the flax seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds and just enough oil to make it possible to spread onto a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet. I suppose if I were industrious enough I would do a You Tube video of this and perhaps will.

HOW TO BAKE FLAX SEED CRACKERS:

The first time I made them into cookie-sized rounds and smashed them down to about 1/2 inch. The next time I realized how wasteful of space this was and remembered some of my raw food cook books where they simply spread the entire batch over the entire baking sheet pressing it until it reaches the edges and assuring about 1/4 inch thickness. For the other ones, I did the same thing. On both I used the paraflex nonstick sheets. After one hour (or until the crackers feel done on one side), I scored them into cracker sizes with a sharp knife and turned them over on the dehydrator tray without the nonstick sheet to allow for additional drying. I turned the crackers over on the baked ones but left the nonstick sheet in the baking sheet. 

 
Yummy spread with soft goat cheese.

How long do I bake them?:

For the first batch, the one hour on one side and another hour on the 2nd side worked great in a 350 degree oven. (See note below - changed my recommendation to 250 degrees.)  I absolutely do not know why the last batch burned! The dehydrated ones, I dehydrated on one side for 4 hours, turned them over and dehydrated until they felt like crackers should - crunchy. Others may like them chewier, so this will require less time. 

INGREDIENTS: (organic where possible)

2 medium beets, peeled and cut into smaller pieces, the size depending on your food processor or juicer
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into smaller pieces, ditto above
5 stalks of medium sized celery, ditto above
5 medium sized carrots, peeled if using the food process, just scrubbed if using the juicer
1/2 of a medium red bell pepper
2/3 cups crushed flax seed (best to crush the whole seeds freshly each time in a coffee/herb grinder)
1/2 cup whole flax seeds
1/3 cup olive oil - or just enough to make the mixture stick together in order to spread
2 Tbsp Westporte Special Seasoning (or use your favorite all purpose seasoning)
5 to 6 twists of garlic salt seasoning
2 to 5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped raw organic walnuts
2/3 cups raw organic sunflower seeds

If you are from my generation, you might remember when Chef Boyardee came out with the pizza kits and our favorite things to do would be have pizza parties where we handmade the pizza's and added the toppings. Everything came in the box - you mixed the yeast with the dough and spread it evening onto a baking sheet. The point here is the same gently pressing and spreading the dough onto the sheet is much the same way I spread the cracker recipe over the entire baking sheets - evenly as possible and about 1/4 inch thick.

 For baking use 350 degree preheated oven (see note below) - and watch carefully for the 1st hour to make sure you don't make the same mistake I did. Score them into the size crackers you want and turn them over to bake for about another hour - or less. For the dehydrator ones, spread them onto the paraflex nonstick sheets for 4 hours. Test to see if they are ready to turn. If they are still too moist, dehydrate for another 2 hours. Test again and when ready, score them and turn them over onto a tray without the nonstick sheet. Dehydrate for about another 4 hours, testing as you go.

This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds! After your first batch you can tweak it as you would like, or be adventurous and tweak it from the start.

Note added: July 23, 2012: I made another batch today and changed the oven to 250 degrees. I watched them every 30 minutes and it took a little over an hour to bake the first side. I scored them and turned them over and they looked and tasted much better than the 350 degree oven batch. 

Would really like to hear about your juicing recipes and any crackers that you make.

Thanks for listening!



Spring Vegetable Stew

By Recipes for a Healthier You Vegetarian Entrees
on April 17, 2012

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew Recipe

Still putting the finishing touches on the blog about the extremely powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of clove, both as an essential oil and a spice/herb. In the meantime, I came across this recipe and with AICR's permission I'm posting it for you. They are our information site for all things pertaining to cancer and nutrition. If you visit, take a minute to donate a little (or a lot) if you can. They are really making a difference in the world of cancer research and information. The original article is here.


Picture by permission from American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)


Satisfying Spring Stew

This hearty one-pot is full of cancer-fighting vegetables and flavorful herbs and spices. Best of all each serving weighs in at only 300 calories and 6 grams of fat, making it a great dish to help you maintain a healthy weight. Butternut squash and carrots contain cancer-fighting carotenoids while onions and garlic pack quercetin and allixin —compounds that show the ability to slow tumor growth in the lab. Serve with hearty brown rice or whole-wheat couscous for the perfect New American Plate meal.

 Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (low-sodium chicken broth may be substituted for a non-vegetarian dish)
1/2 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground paprika
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (or substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder for spices from chili powder through cardamom)
1 lb. (2 cups diced) small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup raisins
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4" slices
1 (15-oz) can garbanzos, drained
1/4 cup pitted black olives, halved
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white or black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 cups cooked brown rice (whole-wheat couscous may be substituted)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

While broth is simmering, combine spices in a mixing bowl then stir them into pot. Add butternut squash, raisins, carrots and garlic. Cover and continue simmering until vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let me know if you try it!

 


 

Fresh Warm Spring Asparagus Salad

By Recipes for a Healthier You Vegetarian Entrees
on April 03, 2012

Warm Spring Asparagus Salad


Well, for our part of the country spring has come very, very early this year. Yesterday, April 2nd, the temperature on our deck was around 95 degrees! No - I'm definitely not complaining! I love spring and summer. One of the things I love about spring is the nice fresh asparagus that is so readily available. We planted it one year and it came back a couple of years, but never where it was big enough to pick. So, we depend on our local farmers. We've noticed too that Trader Joe's has a frozen asparagus which frankly is as good as any fresh I've tasted. We mostly just saute it in a little butter or olive oil, but when I saw this recipe for warm salad, I had to give it a try. The recipe came from George Matelian's daily email (from Whole Foods) we receive and it always has good information and recipes. To read more "in-depth" nutritional information and how to sign up for his newsletter - click here.


This one salad has an amazing array of healthy nutrients. Certainly, enough to give it a try. By using the frozen asparagus spears, you can save some time and effort. We'd use the raw apple cider vinegar and McKay's chicken seasoning. When our bell peppers are ready for picking this summer, we'll use those. In the meantime, we freeze them every year, so I have some and those are what I'll use in this recipe. I do always keep jars of roasted red peppers - maybe I will use those. The balsamic vinegar is a no-brainer for me - love the stuff.

The entire credit for the following goes to Whole Foods and their extremely informational website:

You can add this easy-to-prepare salad to your Healthiest Way of Eating in a matter of minutes. Not only is it an excellent source of health-promoting vitamins A, C, and E, but it provides 16% of your Daily Value for folate. Enjoy!

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small onion, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 2 TBS light vinegar (rice, apple cider, or white wine)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 3 TBS low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 7-1/2 oz jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and slivered (or 2 medium red bell peppers, sliced thin)
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Slice onion and place in a small bowl with vinegar and hot water while preparing rest of the ingredients.
  2. After about 10 minutes, remove onion from hot water and squeeze dry.
  3. While onions are marinating heat 3 TBS broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet.
  4. While broth is heating, snap off the woody bottom of asparagus stems, then cut the spears into 2-inch lengths. Cutting them into short pieces of equal length ensures quick, even cooking.
  5. When broth begins to steam, add asparagus. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. The outside will be tender and the inside will be crisp. Thinner spears will take about 3 minutes.
  6. Mix together roasted peppers with marinated onion, asparagus, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Marinate for 4-5 minutes and serve warm.

    Optional: If you use fresh red bell peppers, Healthy Sauté them for 7 minutes and toss with rest of ingredients in place of roasted peppers. Serves 4

     

    Let us know if you try this! 

    Thanks for listening!

      

Do you get enough magnesium?

By Ann C Wooledge
on February 26, 2012

Magnesium - do you get enough?


We subscribe to consumerlab.com and their newsletter which is always full of very good, update, accurate and needed information. Here is a quote from a recent article that they published. I can't link directly to that link because it is a secured url and requires a subscription. Which is fine, that's how they keep in business as they don't sell anything. 

So - do you eat enough magnesium rich foods every day, or do you take a supplement, none of these or both of these? Here's why you should think about it.

"An analysis of several studies concluded that magnesium may help reduce the risk of stroke. People who consumed 100 mg of magnesium more per day than average (the average being about 300 mg) had an 8% lower risk of strokes of any kind and a 9% lower risk of ischemic stroke (Larsson, Am J Clin Nutr 2012). This finding is based on total magnesium in the diet -- it does not mean that 100 mg of magnesium from a supplement will necessarily have the same risk-lowering effect, but getting a total of at least 400 mg of magnesium from your diet per day may be beneficial."

What else does magnesium do?

Well it does a lot of things, but to keep it short, it is important to take it with any calcium supplement that you might take. It also relaxes nerves and muscles, which is why I like to take my calcium/magnesium supplement before bedtime.

Foods rich in magnesium: Truthfully, magnesium isn't all that difficult to get enough of. I use the supplement because it is important to take it with calcium in order for calcium to be absorbed. I've been working on a blog about cow's milk (got way more complicated than I'd planned) and there will be more information about calcium in that blog.

According to Whole Foods, here is a list of foods rich in magnesium:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Halibut
  • Black beans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashews
  • Almonds

Whole Foods has an amazing amount of information on their website, so if you want more information than you could possibly imagine, check out their page on magnesium.

Thanks for listening!





Is massage safe while pregnant?

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on January 27, 2012
1 comment

Massage therapy during pregnancy - is it safe?

 

This question was presented to me a few weeks ago. And I seriously didn't know for sure what the answer should be. I do now. Not only is it safe - it is very good for both the pregnant mom and the baby. 

Below are some research articles showing this to be true.

I began doing more research about pregnancy and nursing mothers fairly recently while our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our second awesome grandson. Prior to that most of my research had centered around what essential oils and other personal care products should be used during pregnancy. Since that time one of our very good friends has arrived at her due date - which could be any day now. I was asked if I could make an oil for her labor. Being ignorant of this natural birth method, I began to do some research into how the oil (vegetable oil, not essential oil) is used and, of course, ended up with a huge amount of information about doula's, mid-wives, lactation  educators and more. I have to admit I mourned for more than just a few days that all of this wasn't available to me when I was pregnant 38 years ago as I contemplated what I had missed, and more importantly what my daughter had missed. Maybe she wouldn't have been born with colic and eczema?  I was told NOT to nurse, which was the prevailing "wisdom" given by doctors then, or perhaps it was the part of the country in which I lived. I was also encouraged to NOT have natural birth - "for heaven's sakes why would you want that when we can make it perfectly painless." Good grief.

LESS LABOR PAIN:

In one study, women who were in prenatal classes were divided into two groups, one group to receive massage and coaching in breathing during labor and the other group to receive coaching in breathing only. At the end of the study, the mothers who received the massage indicated less depressed mood, anxiety and pain than the other group. They also had less anxiety after the first massage following labor, less time in the hospital and less postpartum depression.(1)  This is huge. I don't know if essential oils were incorporated in this or not, but I do know they would definitely be beneficial.


LESS DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY:

In yet another study, pregnant women who reported being depressed were randomly divided into three groups: A massage therapy group, a progressive muscle relaxation group and a regular prenatal group with no additional therapies added. Trained massage therapists taught the massage to the ‘significant others’ of the women, who then conducted the twice-weekly massages for the 16-week period. The results of the study showed that the massage therapy group reported less anxiety and depression, as well as less leg and back pain. To add to that, this group had higher levels of neurotransmitters that create good mood (serotonin and dopamine) and less neurotransmitters that indicate stress and anxiety (cortisol and norepinephrine.) These findings were believed to have correlated with better neonatal outcome and less chance of premature or low birthweight babies. To see in more detail the protocol that was used please email me. 

Tell me, did you receive massage therapy during your pregnancy? If so, I'd love to hear how it worked for you - and your baby.

Thanks for listening!

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10212885

(2) http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01674820412331282231

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