The Healthy, Happy Ebook

Search This Blog


Thanks for stopping by! I'm young, I'm in love with my man, and I'm a mommy. We're busy, but happy. I'll share with you how to eat natural, healthy, whole foods while balancing family life! Learn to love your food, it will love you back!
Powered by Blogger.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vegan Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Oh man do you ever wake up just craving some syrupy goodness? Today I did, it wasn't the pancakes I was craving it was my boysenberry syrup I bought a little while ago! I grew up on that stuff and I adore it is not sugar free, but my pancakes were!

Pancakes warm my soul! I love the flavors and I adore the rich taste of any syrup really poured over the top of fluffy, hot pancakes. What makes me feel better is when I get the same comfort food with no oil and no sugar (apart from the chocolate chips of course :) ) I love watching the kids gobble delicious nutritious food up and ask for more...this morning in particular we had to make a whole new batch--I couldn't keep up with the demand!

I'm very satisfied with my end result this morning. I found these little babies here and I tweaked it just a little bit to make them oil free and a little more holiday spice! Delicious. I didn't even use that many chocolate chips, but they sure melted when I added them to the skillet and it made them quite homely looking! Even though they looked ugly they were very delicious. 

If you want a fast, healthy, satisfying breakfast for your whole have got to try these
Oh and by the way...this only takes one bowl for mixing except a small bowl for the flax egg...pretty sweet.

Vegan Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
1 ripe banana
1 flax/chia egg (1 T ground flax +1 tsp chia seed +3 T water)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c steel cut oats (or any oats)
1 T applesauce
3 T almond milk
1 T almond butter- melted down a little
3 T semi sweet chocolate chips or raisins

Mix flax egg and set aside for 5 minutes in a small bowl. Mash banana and baking powder together. Add flax egg, applesauce, almond milk, almond butter, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together well. Add flour and oats, combine until well coated. Fold in chocolate chips. Heat skillet and pour 1/4 c of batter onto skillet. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. You may want to double this only yields about 5-6 small pancakes...
seriously I could eat that by myself :)
*use gluten free flour and gluten free oats for a gluten free option


You may find that you have helpers that want to assist in making breakfast!!! Courtesy of my 18 month old!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Dish Bulgar Skillet

I love one dish meals! They are simple and call for an easy clean up! I also adore skillets...the way that they mesh all the delicious flavors makes me sneak leftover bites for days to come! 

I decided to try something new. Bulgar. Has anyone tried it before? It is a whole grain--a groat really from wheat specimens (I sound scientific huh) Anyways it's delicious. I had planned to make hot cereal with it, but our weekends have been crazy and I leave for work before anyone else is awake during the week. So I decided to make a skillet full of veggies and boca crumbles! Bulgar has a nice nutty flavor and it was a great addition to our pilaf skillet.

This really is up to you what veggies you want to add. I used:
1 onion
1 bunch of broccoli
1 garlic clove
1/2 yellow pepper
1 grated carrot
a large handful of chopped kale
I thought my choices of veggies really meshed nice together...
some other suggestions I thought of
broccoli slaw
sun dried tomatoes

After you have all the veggies chopped add the onions with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a large skillet. Heat them until tender then add the garlic. When it is fragrant add remaining vegetables and heat for about 5 minutes. The amount of Bulgar I used was plenty... 1 1/2 cups. After the veggies are heated add Bulgar. Add 2 1/4 cups of vegetable stock and 1 tablespoon cumin and half a bag of Boca crumbles. Now you simply cover and simmer over med-low until all the liquid is absorbed. 

When it was all said and done I added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of parsley and some low sodium soy sauce. Serve hot and it is yummy!

Honestly I was hoping for more of a reaction from my kids. I loved every bite, they liked it but you could tell it wasn't their favorite! It is a delicious meal. If you aren't looking for vegetarian/vegan I bet chicken, turkey or shrimp would be great to add into it!

Ingredients written out a little easier for you :)
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 grated carrot
1/2 yellow onion
1 c chopped kale leaves
1 head of broccoli chopped
1 1/2 c Bulgar
2 1/4 c vegetable stock
1 T cumin
1 T parsley
2 T lemon juice
1 T coconut oil
1/2 T low sodium soy sauce
1/2 bag Boca Meatless crumbles

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Raising Kids Healthy

The most touchy subject I think is how someone is raising their child. I try not to judge others on how they raise theirs and I ask for no judgement on how I raise mine. I will judge you if I see you  slapping your kid around...that stuff doesn't fly with me!

Anyways, I have some thoughts, concerns, worries...whatever come into my mind over the last few days.

I try my darndest to feed my kids good...I don't feel like I deprive my children. My daughter and I made a chocolate cake the other day--yes it was sugar/oil free but if she loves it all the same who the heck cares! Don't we all want our kids to love healthy things?

I had a friend post on facebook the other day about her daughter starting kindergarten and how they gave candy for snacks! It started me thinking--before I know it my daughter will be in the school system (I'm homeschooling right now for preschool, but I don't intend to homeschool through her K-12 years) so I realize that she will be exposed to vending machines and loving teachers who give candy as rewards! What can I do about it?

Well I plan to be very vocal in the schools. If candy is given multiple times a day I will probably visit with the teacher--if nothing changes I will visit with the administration. I plan on being proactive in educating my community that...yes kids love they have to have it multiple times a day? Would anyone agree that sugar is addicting? Well it is--it's be scientifically proven. It releases Dopamine in your brain that tells your brain that it loves whatever your it leaves you wanting more.

Feeding kids healthy...truly nothing short of a lifelong battle against the society we live in. I'm a pretty passive person at times...I don't like confrontation. However, kids will bring out the mama bear in me. I feel very passionate about how I feed my children and their disease I plan to do all I can do to give them the best shot at a healthy life that I know how!

Another thought that is right among us--right now! The holidays. Talk about a sugar and fat fest. How am I going to deal with the holidays. I know parties are coming up and I plan on making my own festive snacks...mine won't have sugar though or they will have very little. I originally made the statement that I would let relatives be relatives and they can give my kids some sweets.

Well I think that isn't okay anymore. I'm not saying my kids can't have a cookie or two...but no more multiple servings of soda, brownies, fudge etc! There was a family that had older children, but still...they told their kids to accept but not eat any of the treats given to them during the holiday season and they would go on a family vacation! Well it worked and their kids did it....they went to Disneyland. The amazing thing was they figured by all the sweets and fats given to them their kids avoided 40,000 extra empty calories each! Each child! I couldn't believe it!

I will show my kids by example. I have mentioned my holiday challenge before, well now the holidays are here and I plan to be more vocal. I hope others will respect that. It's not hurting my kids in any way to feed them fruit instead of cookies...they love it just as much!

Any thoughts on our society and children? It's a subject that I'm sure most parents think we just need to decide how to react to it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blendtec Sale

Blendtec is having a great sale on an extra four sided jar! The sale lasts until Oct 10~ if you are a blender person check out the great deals blendtec has for unbeatable blenders....seriously they are fantastic! Click the link on the side of my page to get your deal on your four sided jar!!!

Whole food living is almost impossible without a fantastic blender! You won't regret the purchase I assure you!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Deep Dish Vegetarian Pizza

My goodness today has been great! Unfortunately sometimes our Sundays are on the go and busy busy, whatever happened to the day of rest in this house I'll never know. Due to Derek's school schedule he often has to work Sunday nights so rarely gets to eat Sunday dinner with us, but today was a different schedule and we finally sat down to a delicious family dinner!

I had been wanting to make some homemade pizza for awhile now. I originally was intending to make this pizza vegan, but I caved guys, I did. I used a little bit of fresh mozzarella cheese...and it was tasty!

We added the Boca crumbles and it turned into almost a hamburger type pizza without the ground beef! If you don't believe me that this tasted like ground beef, I don't know what else I can say...I am amazed at how much the Boca crumbles resemble ground beef, in texture and taste...I don't know it's been a long time since I've had it, but these are great!

I wanted to add some greens to the pizza so I added a good helping of spinach and it was perfect! This pizza is now gone, yes my kids ate about three pieces and maybe Derek and I had a few more...don't judge!

My little boy is still being funny when he eats, the fork has become the greatest toy he has. He just sits there and stabs food and scoots it all over his's cute but getting really old. Sometimes I really start to worry about his calorie, fat and protein intake...but he still is my chunk so each day I'm going to just keep trying!

You will love this pizza, it doesn't have to be deep dish- I just felt like making it that way! Adding  a delicious green salad turns this into a rockin' Sunday dinner!

Deep Dish Vegetarian Pizza

1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c wheat germ
1 packet instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 T raw sugar
1 T honey
1 c warm water
Combine water, yeast and sugar to a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Combine salt, wheat germ and flour to a large bowl and mix in yeast mixture. When it is wet add honey and mix it in well. Mold to form a sort of ball in the bowl. Cover and set it in a warm place for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flatten dough into a greased deep baking dish and poke holes with a fork all over it. Pre bake for 10 minutes remove from oven. 

1/2 bag Boca crumbles
5 chopped mushrooms
1 minced onion
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 large handful of spinach
Mozzarella cheese as desired
 In a skilled add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add onion, mushrooms, and boca crumbles. Heat until crumbles are browned and onions are somewhat translucent.Pour tomato sauce over the pre-baked crust and add Italian seasonings, spread evenly over crust. Add mozzarella cheese, then Boca and vegetables. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until cheese has melted and crust is baked through. 

I forgot to grease my pan so ours turned into more of a pizza casserole since it kind of stuck, but it still tasted delicious.
Again this doesn't need to be a deep dish pizza, it's just what we were craving! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post Series- Sweets and Being "Whole"

I’ll have to admit, letting go of sugar has been THE SINGLE hardest thing I’ve done tried to do for my health! I was at my best right before I got pregnant with my third baby, then everything went out the window.  My baby is now almost 11 months old and I still struggle with my sweet cravings.

Why should we avoid excess sugar?
I think we can all agree that sugar in excess is not good for our bodies.  Did you know that sugar can make you fat more than fat can make you fat? When you consume a sugary snack or beverage, it causes a sugar rush or sugar high.  This causes the release of insulin, which accumulates fat. Then, increased insulin only drives you to feel hunger once again and eat.  So, you see, it’s a vicious cycle.

Sugar is addictive.  IT IS A DRUG (in my opinion)! Try going without it for a few days, you will have withdrawal. Sweeteners of all types, even natural sweeteners which are a little easier on your body, are still habit-forming and leave you wanting more.

Think about the naturally sweet foods in nature; mainly fruits and vegetables. How often do we eat those to satisfy our sweet tooth?  We may not think of those as foods that would curb a craving, because, the truth is that there is NO food in nature that can compete with the sweetness of refined sugars. Real foods (those fruits and veggies) lose their appeal and we end up eating less of them, or even worse, none at all!

So, what can you do about it?
There is good news for a sugar addiction.  It’s absolutely reversible. By eating the naturally sweet foods found in nature, rather than the sickeningly sweet food-like substances, we can combat the effects of excessive sugar in our bodies.  Here are some other tips:
Drink lots of water
Chances are, if you are drinking something other than water, on a regular basis, you are adding a lot of extra sugar in your diet. I don’t even buy fruit juice.  My husband makes the argument that it’s 100% juice, but when the juice is extracted from the pulp and natural fiber of the whole food, all you are basically left with is the sugar; plain and simple. So, we drink water 99% of the time.

Make breakfast healthy
I think we pretty much tackled this in the whole grain post.  Learn to eat and enjoy hot cereals, granola, homemade pancake mixes, etc. rather than sweetened processed boxed cereals.

Cook and bake from scratch
I think this is probably the most essential when trying to switch to a whole foods diet.  When you cook from scratch, you can control what goes into whatever it is you are making, especially the amount of sugar.  When you stop to look at the ingredient list in packaged food, you’d be amazed at the added sugar in thing you wouldn’t think of.  It is really easy to make your own mixes for many of the pre-packaged mixes and foods we are used to buying at the store.  

Increase protein and fat
When you consume protein and fat, you are satisfied longer, and you aren’t left on the downside of a sugar rush craving more.  Just remember to make sure to limit animal protein, getting much of it from plant sources, and choose healthy fats like avocados, olives, olive oil and tropical oils, and nuts.

Quality, not quantity
If you do choose to splurge on a sugary sweet, make sure it’s worth it!  You are more likely to savor and eat a smaller portion of a high quality chocolate bar than eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Special Occasions
I has been startling to me as I have watched my oldest child go to kindergarten this year. She has come home from school many days telling me they had CANDY for a snack! Really, candy for a snack?  I can see handing it out occasionally for a child’s birthday, but certainly not more than once a week.

This is part of the problem, why there are so many sugar addicts.  Having something sweet has become the norm, not the exception. Define what your own special occasions are and try to stick to them.  

Keep it out of the house
I think this is pretty self-explanatory.  If you don’t buy it you, you won’t eat it.

Here are some alternatives when you want just a bit of sweetener, maybe in some oatmeal, tea or pancakes: raw organic honey, real maple syrup, stevia, turbinado sugar, molasses, brown rice syrup.

Becoming “ Whole”
Just about any food that is available has been processed to some degree. When trying to make good food choices, think about two things and use this rule of thumb: Can it be easily traced back to its source and how different is this food than when it was found in nature? Fresh produce is pretty easy to imagine, even breads and meat.  Twinkies, on the other hand, not so much.

When shopping for food, get in the habit of reading labels.  Look for (and try to avoid) ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, dyes, artificial sweeteners and flavors, preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and hydrogenated oils.  

When I go grocery shopping, the contents of my basket are probably AT LEAST 75% produce.  That is where I do the bulk of my shopping at. Once or twice a month I shop another grocery store with a great bulk section.  When I go there, my shopping cart mostly consists of lots of bags filled with things like steel cut oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. It is rare to find pre-packaged items in my cart.
My challenge to you is to choose one thing about your diet and make change today!  If you need to go back through my previous posts DO!  Change one thing at a time and over the course of a week, month,  year or more, you’ll find your habits are changing for the better.

Thanks for letting me share with you! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments, or you can also visit me at my blog, Sweet Luvin' In The Kitchen.

Teaching Our Brains New Habits

I just got back from a conference discussing how our brains learn habits. The lecture was given by the Institute of Brain Potential and the presenter was Dr. King, Ph.D. He has a strong background in Neuroscience.  It went into a lot of insightful information about how people get into bad habits and how they can change their way of living. I took this course for continuing education as a health care worker, but the whole time I was in the lecture I kept relating everything he said to food, diet and healthy living!

He used obesity and overeating as an example a lot so it wasn't that hard to compare the two. He gave a statistic about obese individuals and dieting. He said that only 20% of people maintain a 10% weight loss over a period of five years.

How can this number be so low? How is it that with so many diets in the world that we continue to get larger and larger?

This is where the word habit was dissected and explained to us how we can really train our brains to learn new habits.

Most dieters simply do a diet to reach their weight loss goals. This is the first clue for failure, a habit change needs to be a lifestyle change. You will not be as successful if you simply do it to meet a short term goal then return to your old habits. This seems obvious, but I myself have done it before. I have met weight loss goals then I think magically the pounds will stay off if I return to how I used to eat.

Another interesting point he made was habits are not formed by repetition, they are formed by reinforcement. We have an area in our brains that subconsciously makes our choices for us. The Prefrontal cortex of our brains has the ability to override our decisions-this has been termed "willpower". This obviously takes a conscious effort, if you've ever been in a mental battle with yourself this is what is going on. The idea of reinforcement changing our habits comes from the idea that we will the majority of the time choose the option that has the greatest return with the least amount of effort.

He compared this to choosing a piece of chocolate cake to a plate of celery. Instantly most people will feel that is is the same amount of effort to eat a plate of celery or a piece of chocolate cake- but the chocolate cake will in most cases beat the celery, because the sugar in the cake gives us a stimulant which our brain does not soon forget from past experience! do we stop this vicious cycle of junk food always winning against health food. This is where you need to find the benefit of health food and fight the brain against choosing the junk food. Soon your brain will start to see the benefits, like a leaner body, less sugars and refined carbohydrates so your brain can function at a normal level. He explained that certain carbs like refined sugar can heighten our dopamine receptors in our brain which gives us a level of pleasure- this is why it is so hard to change your food habits. Your brain loves the pastas and candy bars!

It takes time, I know this from experience. It is very easy to fall off the horse. I know that if you give it longer than a week- I'm talking a month or more you will start to feel a difference and making healthy choices will become just what you do! It will become second nature. Can it change back to old habits in no time at all? Yes it can- I myself am still struggling with my chocolate chip addiction- but my brain knows the difference now. I can't eat a plate of cookies, cake or ice cream without knowing it isn't good and feeling a level of guilt. Because my brain knows. A habit has been formed and it will always know what the benefits of healthy eating are compared to the benefit of a delicious, dangerous sundae!

My suggestion on trying to change your habits- stop doing short term diets! Make a commitment to change your life! Fight those mental battles for a few weeks, until before you know it you will make the good choices without even thinking about it! It isn't easy- I've been there. I think people forget that I have since I'm the author on this blog- I have been there...remember I've said before I'm the cheese quesadilla girl!

It isn't easy, but it's so worth it to feel what real normal feels like! You can do it! I'd love to help anyone anytime, just message me and you have yourself a cheerleader!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Better Than Chicken Salad Alternative!

How many bridal shower, baby showers, or parties have you been to with the little rolls of chicken salad or tuna salad sandwiches? I love those little things! I love the textures of good chicken salad. Since I don't eat meat in my diet as a staple I wanted to find a delicious, easy, healthy alternative to have for lunches and snacks! Well I had this recipe come into my mind, because I saw a picture of it months ago on another blog. It uses garbanzo beans in place of the tuna or chicken!

Open a can of those babies they honestly smell a little like the canned meats. I fell in love with this sandwich. The first time I made it I'm pretty sure I had a wrap, a sandwich and a slice of bread with some on one sitting! Carb overload...I'd say so.

The beauty of this spread is you can add whatever you want in it and it has turned out great every time for me. The first time I added broccoli slaw and sun dried tomatoes in the mix, next I added red peppers with a dash of Annies roasted red pepper dressing, this time around I made it traditional chicken salad style with grapes and celery! Fantastic every way you do it. I'm going to do the traditional style recipe, but keep in mind you can add whatever you'd like and it will be amazing.

Step 1- drain, rinse and mash the beans with a potato masher

Step 2- add 1 1/2 T mayo or veganaise, 1/2 c cut up grapes, 1/2 cup chopped celery.

Step 3- Mix it all together

Step 4- devour it on your favorite wrap or sandwich!

My family loved this! I haven't been this obsessed with a recipe in a long time, very rarely will I make something multiple times in a week...well this one hits the spot! Enjoy...yay for easy lunches! Lettuce wraps would be great, and maybe some chopped up pickle or plain cucumber...just some extra thoughts of mine.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guest Post Series-Protein

What about protein?
Many people that switch to a plant-based diet get that question all the time.  The idea that we need 20% protein in our diet and that the best sources are animal sources (i.e. chicken, beef, fish, etc.) is ingrained in our heads thanks to another effective campaign by the cattle and dairy industries.

Would you be surprised if I told you that our bodies really only need 5% protein and that vegetables contain plenty of protein? If you are not familiar with Colin Campbell’s The China Study, it is a very interesting read on the subject.  He conducted the largest human study ever and documented that eating a diet of 20% animal protein led to all the modern degenerative diseases.
“Campbell noted that rats fed 20 percent casein (cow-milk protein) developed cancerous tumors and died early, while those fed 5 percent casein were lean and vigorous beyond their life expectancy. When the diets of the two groups were switched, Campbell and other researchers around the world repeatedly got consistent results. Formerly lean animals developed tumors and died on a high-protein diet. And the tumors of overweight, cancer-ridden animals disappeared and life expectancy increased when they were switched to low-protein feed.”( Robyn Oppenshaw)

So, we may think we’re not getting enough protein, but the China Study’s conclusion was that Americans are suffering from a protein overload, in fact!  Another interesting point Campbell made was that all the massive amounts of animal protein that we eat causes such an acidic state in our bodies that calcium is leeched from our bones in order to bring our bodies back into alkaline balance.  So, you know that saying, “milk, it does a body good,” well, it actually doesn’t. 

Good sources of plant protein include beans and lentils, almonds, cashews and walnuts.  You can find smaller amounts in whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, bulgur and some fruits and vegetables. And while we’re at it, some good plant sources of calcium include dark leafy greens, cooked beans, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds (especially sesame seeds).

To eat animal protein or not?
That question can only be answered by you. You have to do what feels right and comfortable.  We eat some meat in our family, my children even less than my husband and I, probably 2-3 times per week; most of the time it is chicken.  Very rarely do I buy red meat or fish.  We do eat eggs regularly though.

We don’t consume much dairy.  We have switched to drinking almond milk and I will occasionally use small amounts of cheese in a meal (mostly dinners). I do like having my kids eat yogurt because it is cultured it acts differently in your body than other dairy.  The good bacteria is especially good for my hubby and kids who all have tummy problems. I will only buy plain though, as it only has 2 ingredients listed typically; milk and live cultures. Flavored yogurts on the other hand have many, many ingredients listed.  When choosing dairy products choose the full-fat option (just limit your intake).  Otherwise, you will be buying a product that has “fillers” that make the taste and texture better.  

If you do choose to consume animal products (milk, cheese, other dairy, meat, poultry, fish), I think it’s important to be choosy.   Try to choose meat from cows that have been grass fed, eggs from chickens that are able to roam freely and eat bugs and grass, and fish that has been wild caught, rather than farm raised.  These animals are in their natural habitat, eating what they were designed to eat (instead of corn and soy products), not administered antibiotics and have been allowed to move and live freely, rather than be cooped up and cramped in a living space much too small.

You will probably have sticker shock when shopping for items labeled “organic,”  “wild-caught,” and “free-range.” I admit, this is one area where I struggle to find the best out there. Not all grocery stores carry this type of food, so you may have to travel some in order to find something suitable. Here’s another area where you have to remember to make gradual changes.  If they are not comfortable for you, they will not stick!

Next time, I'll be wrapping it up with sweets and whole foods.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trying New Things, And Delicious Collard Greens

Do you know about the kid face? The face that is a mix between fear and disgust? When your child looks up at you and is mentally saying 
 "You can't be serious! You really want me to eat that?"
That is the face my daughter gave me last night when I placed a side of collard greens on her plate!
We have never had collard greens before! Last night we hadn't had basically anything that I served before. 

Last night was a night of trying new things. I decided I wanted to try collard greens. If I'm going to eat plant based I better branch out and eat more than spinach and romaine lettuce or my meals may get a little bit boring. I tried the greens raw in a salad before, and well they were very bitter. So I decided to saute them with some flavor.
We also tried Quinoa pasta for the first time! I loved it, it didn't taste any different to me, but it is a little bit lower in carbohydrates so that was a fantastic find it is also gluten free! The box also gave some awesome sounding recipes that I can't wait to try out!
We also tried Boca ground crumbles in our sauce in place of ground beef. Boca is soy based, but didn't taste like soy. Really I find it is a great ground beef replacement. I think the lentil meatballs are healthier since I'm sure the Boca crumbles have sodium in them, but if the lentils don't do it for you, this is another alternative!

Back to my daughter story about the greens. Well she kept saying her lettuce was wet, that was funny. My son didn't even give them a chance unfortunately, and try reasoning with and 18 month old. It's not the easiest thing. But, my daughter was required to try at least one bite. It was an enjoyable moment. 
I watched the face. It was a face for about 5 minutes trying to figure out if she liked it or not. Then she distracted herself as most 3 year old's do, and she swallowed it.  I asked her if she liked it and she said she did, so success in my mind!

I think these make a beautiful side dish. It is a nice way to add some extra greens into your diet. It uses some oil, maybe you like them raw which is probably better, but I used very little oil and liked the end result.  It is bright and colorful and for the holidays I keep thinking Thanksgiving! Awesome!

Collard Greens
1 Bunch of collard greens
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 c sun dried tomatoes
1/2 onion
1 garlic clove shredded
1/4 c sunflower nuts

Heat oil in large skillet. Add collard greens with onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Heat for 15 minutes, mixing occasionally to make sure the greens are wilting and coated. Add sunflower nuts. Mix and heat another 5 minutes until the greens are very wilted and onions are cooked and browned. Enjoy! You can top these with your favorite dressing if you'd like or vinegar. I thought they were great without it. 

Add any nut in place of sunflower nuts. I think pine nuts, or almond slivers would be great.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Guest Post Series-Whole Grains

The Good Stuff: Whole Grains

A few years ago I saw this video on Youtube from Green Smoothie Girl (Robyn Oppenshaw) about white flour. She gets out this huge diagram of a wheat kernel for her kids and teaches them the basic parts; the endosperm, bran and germ.  The endosperm, the innermost part, is mostly starch, a little protein and oil. The bran is the next layer, adding flavor and texture.  The wheat germ is the outermost layer, which provides a concentrated source of nutrients; vitamins, minerals and fiber. 

Guess what white flour is made from?  You got it!!  The endosperm.  The part of the kernel that has the least amount of nutrition.  And do you know what happens when you add water to white flour?  Basically you make glue, yes GLUE people!  That is the visual Robyn gives her kids when teaching them about eating whole grains. I hope that (abstract) visual was as effective for you just now as it was for me years ago when I first saw it. I really didn’t need any more convincing after that, and you might not either.

If you’re not already eating whole grains, it’s a big step and it takes time to transition. Start small with things that are easy to switch out, like pasta, rice, bread, and whole-grain cereals. If you stress or feel uncomfortable about it, the change will not stick.  So, move gradually and do what feels comfortable for you and your family.

Pasta and Rice
Whole grain pasta and brown rice are pretty easy to find in most supermarkets.  Wild rice is another good alternative to white.

This is a hard one, especially if you only eat commercially prepared bread.  It’s really hard to purchase bread that doesn’t have unwanted additives, like sugar, preservatives and chemicals. Your best bet is to learn how to make your own bread, if you can, or buy from a local bakery where it is less likely to contain preservatives.

Breakfast Cereal
I’m sure this is a very hard one for many people to give up.  There are probably two that I would even consider buying once in a while.  Even “healthy” options out there are not all whole-grain, still processed, have too much sugar and are only fortified with vitamins and minerals, rather than them being naturally occurring. 

To tackle replacing breakfast cereals, try making your own granola.  Granola is very versatile in that you can switch up many of the ingredients often and not get tired of the same thing over and over.  Pancakes are something else we eat a lot of around here.  Make your whole grain pancake mix and keep it handy for those rushed mornings.  We love adding chopped or pureed fruit to the batter.  My kids also love to eat hot cereals (steel cut oats, rolled oats, cream of wheat, etc.), and actually request that the most for breakfast. You can add fruit to that as well after it’s cooked, or even some ground flaxseed or coconut oil, the options are many!

Other Grains
Believe it or not, there are other grains out there besides wheat, corn and rice.  Quinoa has become pretty popular and is available in most stores.  I love it because whenever I forget to give myself enough time to make brown rice, I can just cook up quinoa instead and it’s done in under 20 minutes! I prefer to cook it with some low-sodium chicken/veggie stock because it doesn’t have much flavor by itself; it takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked/paired with.  

If you have a grocery store close by that carries bulk items, wander through and see what different grains they have to offer, then pick up something new and give it a try!

For next time....What about protein?