Category Archives: food

Simple, Healthy Meals: Pizza

We all love pizza, right?  And generally with pizza, you’re taking on a load of calories, fats and the bloat to go with it all.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Many times (like recently), I’ve been very busy with work so when it comes to dinner time, I turn to some of my quick, healthy meals.  Last night?  It was gluten-free veggie pizza.

Because gluten free crust is hard to come by and takes forever to make from scratch, we’ve been using our high-fiber, gluten-free lavash as the basis for our pizzas for 5 or 6 years or longer.  (I’ve mentioned the lavash before in my quick morning go-to for my husband when he needs the energy to play 18 holes of golf in the searing heat.)

All you need to do is to decide on your sauce and toppings.  Your choices are limitless!

Pizza BasicsPreheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I start with the lavash and spread with my sauce du jour.

Sauces:

If you prefer a red pie which we do sometimes, and I have a homemade marinara on hand, I use that since it will be organic.  You can buy jarred organic pasta sauces but be warned – they’re generally loaded with sodium.

If you like a ‘white’ pie, I spread on a herbal butter/olive oil blend that I make.   For that, mix in a jar equal amounts melted organic butter and organic olive oil with a few cloves of garlic that have been pressed, and a tablespoon of mixed herbs (usually oregano and thyme). Warm slightly in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Shake or stir well.  Refrigerate and use for toppings for pizza, for garlic bread or for anything else you desire.  Tip:  Udi’s makes a nice baguette that can be brushed with this garlic/herb oil/butter mixture and baked in minutes.  Yum!

If you like a pesto base, a homemade pesto is simple!   In a small food processor, add fresh basil, pine nuts, a bit of citrus (lime or lemon) salt, pepper and olive oil.  All are available in organic.

Toppings:

Simple is always good so my choice for simple is the classic Pizza Margherita:  Add pieces of torn basil leaves and your favorite shredded Italian cheeses.

Veggie toppings, to name a few: mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts, black olives, broccoli, zucchini, sliced tomatoes, green onions, eggplant, red, green or yellow peppers, broccolini, pepper flakes and grilled Portobello mushrooms.  Some like a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham. The produce section offers many veggie treats for your creative pizzas!

Meats:  While pepperoni is preferred by many, it is high in sodium and fat, and has no vitamins, no fiber and very little else to offer.  Some alternatives include parma ham, grilled chicken, or crumbled, cooked chicken or turkey Italian sausage.  Grilled and sliced (or chopped) portobellos give a meaty flavor without the meat.

Cheese:  You MUST have cheese!   The standard Italian cheeses just can’t be beat. Parmesan, Romano, Asiago are hard cheeses that melt well. Pecorino is flavorful and a slightly different twist.  You can add Gorgonzola for a bit of a bite.  As you may remember, when it comes to cheeses, I prefer cheeses that are not made in the US (and thus guaranteed to beFresh Veggie Pizzacontaminated with GMO).  You can find, by the way, organic cheeses made in the US that will not have GMO’s.  Organic Valley has a small selection. When I can find true Italian Fontina, I use it.  This isn’t a hard cheese but it is a wonderful-gooey mess when it melts.  Experiment!

Finally, don’t be afraid to use pizza for other courses and other meals.

Dessert pizza:  Spread with cream cheese, top with fresh berries and bake just a few minutes. You can also add any fresh-fruit organic marmalade or jam.  Just be sure that you stay away from the chemicals and high-fructose corn syrup.

Breakfast pizza:  Whip your eggs as usual, carefully pour on the crust, add a bit of cheese, perhaps a bit of ham, veggies, bake and you’re good to go.

If you’ve forgotten how much I love cheese (the ONLY dairy we eat), please feel free to check out this August post:  Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m honored to be featured…

I’m honored to be featured in the first edition of the new Florida Keys health and wellness magazine, WELL.

Magazine CoverThis lovely, full-color publication is brought to us by Charlie Wilson owner of Date & Thyme, Tori Mata, General Manager and their helpful, friendly staff.    Their two locations in Key West are:

date & thyme Organic Cafe, Juice Bar and Market, 829 Fleming Street   305.296.7766

date & thyme Organic Coffee Shop, 1130 Duval Street.  305.587.7475

If you are out and about in Key West, please pick up a copy of this great new publication dedicated to the organic lifestyle.  Featured are articles on healthy eating, wellness, gardening, meditation, mindfulness, food, alternative therapies and recipes.

If you are not in Key West, you can download the PDF of the latest issue here for free:  Well Magazine, Fall, 2015 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Pasta with fresh tomatoes

I found a recipe recently that looked amazing.  Of course, as usual, I changed it up a great deal.   But I thought I’d share it with you.

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes

Serves 2

  • 2 ripe organic tomatoes (I used one huge organic heirloom tomato)
  • 1/2 teaspoons medium Himalayan sea salt
  • organic spaghetti or any pasta you like (I used Ancient Harvest)
  • 1 clove of organic garlic, smashed then diced
  • 1/4 cup organic basil, cut into ribbons
  • 2 TBS organic butter, cut into three or four pieces
  • Organic Olive oil, as needed
  1. Season the tomatoes with the salt and toss them well.
  2. Put a big pot of water on to boil.
  3. Set garlic aside for a few minutes
  4. Cut the basil into ribbons or roughly chop it.
  5. Heat a teaspoon or two of the olive oil in a large saute’ pan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook til just beginning to brown around the edges and soften. This takes a couple of minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook your pasta, drain it, put it back in the pot, and oil the pasta to keep it from sticking to itself
  7. Pour the tomatoes into a colander over the saute’ pan so that the tomato juice will drain into the pan below. Set the tomatoes in colander aside, in a bowl.
  8. Swirl the sauce to bring it to a simmer. Add the butter while continuing to swirl or stir the sauce. Keep the sauce moving until all the butter is melted. Add the basil, the pasta and toss to coat the pasta evenly. Divide the pasta two bowls and top with the tomatoes.

Other Ingredients Finished Dish

This recipe has a fresh taste that it impossible to beat!  It is light, it is vegetarian and gives you fiber and nutrients as well.

 

While I changed this up a bit, I do give credit where credit is due.  The original version came from Food52.com in the Genius Recipes section.

Fact: GMOs are registered as pesticides with the EPA.

Why are so many people confused about GMOs? It is what the chemical companies such as Montsanto and Dow are counting on.   They state that crops have been ‘genetically  modified’ for years and that what they’re doing is not wrong.   They are counting on people to be confused so they can continue their campaign.  Most people such as myself have no problem with these companies creating toxic foods.  Those who want to eat it are most welcome to eat it.  That’s right, Folks!  Eat up!  Enjoy!  Feed it to your children and loved ones!

We, on the other hand, refuse to buy or consume anything unless it’s (1) Certified Organic or (2) at least labeled with the Non-GMO Projects emblem.  Non-GMOProjectThe chemical companies would like you to think that there are a handful of tree-huggers who are trying to destroy them.  It’s far from that.  And ok, sorry for the sarcasm, but their crocodile tears are wasted on intelligent people.  As always, just follow the money.

The truth is simple.  All we ask is to be given the information that we require so we can make our own decisions.  I certainly do not want to be ‘slipped a mickey’ in the form of some skeezy poison-laced GMO foods.   All the reasonable, wellness-minded people in this country are asking is to simply LABEL IT and to make proper labeling the law.   After all, if it is as harmless as the chemical companies want you to believe, then why are they spending millions and millions of dollars on lobbyists  and advertising campaigns to stop any and all attempts to simply require a truthful label, stating that a food is either GMO or it is not.   Why are they quietly paying off scientists to write phony papers about how safe GMO is?

Case in point:  University of Florida agricultural professor of Kevin Folta.  Mr. Folta has now been exposed as being paid by Montsanto to come up with a paper stating that GMOs are safe.  Written proof of Kevin Folta’s receipt of bribe  So, this is just one well-known episode.  As is always the case, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  All of the so-called peer-reviewed papers proclaiming GMOs as safe come from Montsanto’s own people, ex-employees, or so-called agricultural professionals who have taken bribes, such as Kevin Folta.

Now, to the reason for the confusion.  The chemical companies continue to ‘sell’ the idea that our food has been genetically modified for hundreds of years.  They’re counting on the average citizen’s lack of knowledge on the difference between hybridization and genetic modification.  These are two very different things.

This article breaks it down very succinctly:  Hybird vs GMO   Hybridization has occurred when nature naturally does this over time, OR when humans have cultivated new plant varieties through selective breeding. This takes time.  A LOT OF TIME!  They did this by cross-pollinating two different, but related plants over 6 to 10 plant generations, eventually creating a new plant variety.  To quote Jerry Seinfeld:  “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  BUT often a weaker plant results.

Genetic modification is a far different process.  These seed varieties are created in a lab and are far from the ‘low tech’ process used for hybridization.  GMO seeds are not crossed with similar varieties of plant.  Actually, they are crossing different biological kingdoms such as say, a plant with a bacteria.     ARE YOU AWARE THAT THESE GMO PLANTS ARE REGISTERED AS PESTICIDES WITH THE EPA?   Pay attention now. It isn’t just the one plant variety that is affected.   Montsanto’s btCorn isn’t just a toxic crop. It IS a pesticide. If you feed this actual pesticide to your cattle or your chickens or if you eat it yourself, you’re eating a full dose of pesticide.  EATING IT.  It’s not just a bit of residue from the surface of a plant that was sprayed with pesticide.  It’s IN it.  You cannot wash it off.   This is occurring with all crops now – wheat, soybeans, canola and more (even though we don’t eat any of those anyway.)

This process has begun to poison our entire food chain.  AND it is putting the small, honest farmers out of business.  (That’s a very long story)  I highly recommend seeing the film “Food Inc.”  It is free for Amazon Prime members and is available on DVD.  Another great film?  King Corn .  These are eye-opening and very concerning exposes’ of the manner in which corporate farming and chemical companies are ruining our food supply and destroying small farmers who have farmed their land for generations.

For now, I will use those with the above Non-GMO Project certification, but it is only a second choice for me.  The only guarantee that you have of safe food is to buy certified organic.   Organic Labeling

 

 

Delicious veggie pancakes

A healthy veggie breakfast!  You didn’t think it was possible?  It is.  We did it this morning! It’s all organic and has a healthy helping of fiber, vitamins and protein.

I found the recipe on a site that I enjoy, TheHeartySoul.com, except I made a few alterations so those are included in this version.

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Veggie Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic sweet potato with skin on, grated
  • 1 cup organic zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup organic yellow squash, grated
  • 1/8 cup grated organic onion
  • 3 eggs, thoroughly beaten until frothy
  • 4 heaping tablespoons organic gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Organic olive oil, for cooking
  • freshly grated organic Parmesan Cheese
  • Organic sour cream
    Directions:
  1. 1. In a large bowl, mix together the grated veggies, eggs, flour, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  2. Heat a thin layer of olive oil on a griddle at 300 degrees (or if you use a saute’ pan, be sure it’s medium heat.) You want the pancakes to cook all the way through the middle by the time they’re brown on the outside. When the oil is hot, drop pancake-size dollops of the veggie mixture into the pan, without overcrowding. Flatten a bit. Cook until the bottom starts to brown.
  3. Flip and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese
  4. Cook until browned on the second side, then repeat until the batter is gone.
  5. Transfer cooked pancakes to a paper towels.  Serve immediately. If you need to keep warm, you can tent with foil or place in the oven on the lowest setting on a plate.
  6. Serve warm with a topping of sour cream.

Serve with a side of fresh organic cantaloupe or for an extra helping of nutrients,  avocado chunks.

Notes:  The yellow squash and the zucchini once grated, tend to be a bit watery so I added extra flour.  These didn’t turn out fluffy and were a bit flat but were still delicious.  The sweet potato was difficult to grate so watch the knuckles.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve grated my knuckle over the years! Grating the onion was simple, but it turned out very watery.  However, I think that it added to the dish.

We had three extra and I wrapped in paper towel, put in a zip lock and will warm and have them perhaps tomorrow AM.

 

 

GMOs – TRUST NO ONE!

I read a recent post where a company has surreptitiously sold 400 acres worth of GMO potatoes to grocery stores.  It seems that even McDonald’s won’t buy this particular poison for their poisonous menus! (At the bottom of today’s post is a cut ‘n’ paste from the post about the potatoes, fyi.)

For me, this was the final straw.  I will no longer buy ANYTHING that isn’t non-GMO.  I don’t care if a recipe has a big gap in it.  If it isn’t organic and if it doesn’t STATE clearly that it is non-GMO, I will not buy it.  You really have to be careful when shopping these days if you want to save your family from serious disease from poisonous foods.  Food producers, chemical companies and the farmers who are involved in the toxic food industry will do all they can to sell YOU this toxic stuff and they don’t care about you.  They don’t care about your family and your children.  All they care about is their own greed and profit margins.  I urge each and every person who reads this to vow right now to do the right thing for their health and run these crooked people out of business.  If no one buys their toxic crops, then they will stop playing games and trying to sell it to you.

Today’s trip to the grocery store even further solidified my thinking on this subject. Often, there are similar products available, but you must read the labels to see what you are getting.   One of my non-organic short-cuts is an occasional Kind bar.  They are generally healthy, they are non-GMO and they are gluten free.  They don’t have artificial ingredients, are high in protein, fiber and nutrients. And no, not organic.  Today I saw that Publix is selling their own brand.  So I photographed theirs (and did NOT buy it)  , and here is a photograph of the original, Kind version above it: KindBarAnd Toxic copy  Kind’s labeling tells us what we need to know: NON GMO!  This is not to be found anywhere on the Publix brand wannabe.

Next up, I looked at something else on my shopping list – Gluten-free bread.  Predictably, the first store I went to didn’t have what I want.  (That is a massive source of frustration here in our third-world town!)  The supply of minimally acceptable foods is never reliable. Anyway, outside of that little gripe which I foresee as another post another day, since the first Publix I went to didn’t have what I wanted, I considered buying another brand.  I buy Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free breads because they don’t have soy and because they are non-GMO.  But since the store saw fit to NOT stock the one I wanted this week (the multi-grain version), I looked at an alternative – UDIs brand.

My problem with Udis in general has been that they often have soy in their products, GF Bread comparisontheir fiber content is almost non-existent, and now I see that GMOs are obviously in there, since they don’t claim that they are non-GMO.  These photographs are a side-by-side comparison of the Cinnamon Raisin bread from both companies. Note the emblems in the circles.  Canyon Bakehouse is Gluten Free and Non-GMO.  Udi’s makes no such claims about GMOs.  AND I must say from past experience, the Udi’s simply tastes awful.

Needless to say I walked away from buying anything at this store because of the GMOs.  I know, I know.  It seems I’m constantly complaining about Publix but in Key West, there are two stores and one is no better than the other.  AND they’re both Publix and both 2 blocks away from each other!  (The other option, Winn Dixie, is a lost cause and waste of time.  No one speaks my language there, which is English, and their supply of organics, non-GMO and gluten free is non-existent. ) The problem is that we have no other choices and it seems that Publix’s intent is to force the people of this town to buy whatever they offer, whether it is healthy for the customer or not.  Not everyone is like me, though. Many buckle under and buy what they’re offered. Not me. I have a list and will then buy at Whole Foods when we go to the mainland, which is about once every  month and a half.  We load up and fill our freezer and fridge on those trips.  OH, and to not totally denigrate Publix stores, when we’re on the mainland in SW Florida, we often go to Publix there and have a totally positive experience.  They have everything we need in stock, the stores are spotless and the staff is bend-over-backwards helpful.  In Key West?  None of that applies.

These are just two items of thousands in a grocery store that on the surface appear to be similar, but when you read the labels, you will see that one is toxic and the other is not toxic – or at least not SO toxic.

Now, below is the article on the sneaky potato swap.  Based on this, from now on, I do not recommend buying potatoes at all unless they’re organic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

After being rejected by McDonald’s, genetically engineered potatoes created with dsRNA technology, which may be linked to autoimmune disease in vertebrates, are being marketed and sold directly to unsuspecting consumers. 400 acres of these reduced-browning potatoes were sold in grocery stores in the Midwest and Southeast this summer. Simplot, the company that created these potatoes, has plans to increase the production to 2,000 acres next summer. The USDA has already approved the next generation of Simplot’s GMO potato. It’s only a matter of time until the EPA and FDA give the second generation potato the rubber stamp. Was your family part of Simplot’s GMO experiment this summer? Boycott Simplot’s GMO Potatoes. BOYCOTT GMOs.

READ: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/08/28/3960031/usda-oks-simplots-2nd-generation.html

READ: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/monsantos-worst-fear-may-be-coming-true/

Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/GMOFreeUSA/photos/a.468695639837571.108816.402058139834655/1061833373857125/?type=1&theater

 

A Healthy Brain … AND our weekly winner!

Deborah Mccottry won our weekly drawing this week.  For those who wish to become part of our community and be part of the fun, you can sign up here:  Free weekly drawings

Now, today I’d like to pass on some information about brain health.  In case you are not paying attention, it’s a growing problem.  Dementia and other brain disorders are on the rise.  BrainDisordersThe Alzheimers Association states that the US will see a 44% increase in individuals with Alzheimers by 2025.     Utah, Alaska and Colorado are projected to have the biggest increase – around 126%, with significant growth in states with the largest populations:  Texas (74%), Florida (64%) and California (50%).

One doesn’t have to look too far to see friends and family members who have been touched by this disease.  If you’ve seen it, you have most certainly felt the impact.

I have read Dr. David Permutter’s book “Grain Brain:The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers” and I highly recommend it.   His approach is complex but then this is a complex issue.  It has everything to do with your immune system and keeping it healthy.  There are no ‘quick fixes’ but there are things you can do right now to help keep your brain healthy.  His book goes into nutritional issues as well as issues of toxicity from our foods and environment.  He makes a definitive link between colon health and brain health.

Just to give you a quick run-down on important supplements, Dr. Perlmutter recommends:

*Alpha Lipoic Acid – 600 mg daily

*Coconut Oil – 1 TBS daily (taken straight is recommended but you can use it in cooking)

*DHA – 1,000 mg daily  (combined with EPA.  He recommends a fish oil supplement but since I have a problem with the mercury in our fish oil supplements, I opt for a DHA derived from marine algae.)

*Probiotics – 1 capsule on an empty stomach up to 3 times daily.  Look for a probioitic that contains at least ten billion active cultures, from at least ten different strains, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium.  For probiotics, I take one that has 150 billion active cultures –  Renew Life brand Ultimate Flora Mega Potent.  With a history of colon issues and gluten sensitivity, this works best for me.

*Resveratrol  100 mg twice daily

*Turmeric   350 mg twice daily

*Vitamin D3 5,000 IU daily

These are all easily obtainable from Amazon or other sources.  If you would like some recommendations, please comment below and I’ll give you links and details.

No, the above is NOT all you need for a healthy brain.  You also have to clean out your kitchen and cabinets.  Get rid of the junk – glutens, sugars, processed foods, anything containing non-fermented soy, anything that says ‘fat free’ or ‘low fat’, margarines and most oils that are processed in any manner whatsoever.

I know it sounds complicated but isn’t this better than sitting in a vegetative state among your loved ones as their hearts break for you?

I highly recommend Dr. Perlmutter’s book.  In reading it, you may find many surprising links to your own health challenges.

And predictably, I come back to meditation.  😉  Meditation seems to keep dementia at bay!  There are hundreds of articles, but this one sums it up nicely:   Prevention Magazine: Meditation staves off dementia 

I know the last thing I want to happen to me is to have one part of my body go before the rest.  It works both ways – I want my mind to be present and for my body to function right up to the very end.  It’s an important goal for us all to embrace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s for dinner? Go light!

I don’t know about you, but dinner to me really needs to be light.  I sleep far better with a light dinner and a lot of vegetables.  We so rarely eat red meat that if we should have red meat for dinner, neither my husband nor myself sleep well.  And then I won’t even go into the trials and tribulations of my gastrointestinal tract the next day!

My husband makes a healthy Caesar Salad that is the basis for many great meals.  We’ve tweaked this recipe for 14 years and it’s almost perfect!  CaesarSaladTonight, I’m baking fresh Yellow Tail Snapper and we’ll put chunks of it into the salad.   Below is the recipe and photo.    At one time, we added grilled shrimp but when I found I was highly allergic to shrimp (a favorite food since childhood), since then we’ve experimented more.  Now our go-to is either fresh fish, lobster chunks or chicken.

 

 

CAESAR SALAD

In a large stainless bowl wisk together:

Note:  All ingredients are organic

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground paper

1/4 tsp dried mustard

6 drops of organic Worcestershire sauce

1/2 lime, squeezed (lemon will do)

Scant 1/4 cup good quality organic olive oil  ( we love Oleo Beato)

1 heaping tablespoon soy-free Veganaise

1 small clove garlic, pressed (Remove the green center)

Hand tear an entire clamshell of Organic Girl  romaine hearts into appropriate size pieces, and add to the bowl.

Add about 1/4 cup of shredded mixed Italian cheeses.

Great as is or you can add fresh fish, shrimp or chicken.

Add croutons to taste (we use gluten free croutons)

Toss well.   Spoon onto chilled salad plate.  Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

It’s an entire meal!

 

 

Notes:  My husband reminded me of a few notes to add.

(1) The Veganaise is used in lieu of a whole raw egg, as a binder.

(2) The romaine I mentioned is what we use simply because it’s triple washed, organic and a measured 10 oz package.  No guessing as to the amount we’re using.

(3) The Worcestershire sauce we use is organic and vegan, meaning it’s without the fishy-anchovy element.

(4) You can always used shaved parmesan rather than shredded.

 

 

 

Another trip to the market and discovering hidden ‘bad stuff’.

It was time for yet another trip to the market. A family’s gotta eat!  Today I’m looking at some pantry items.  These are stand-bys we can keep on hand for quick meals when time becomes an issue.  So, where to start?

Nicoise saladWho doesn’t love a beautiful Nicoise Salad or a spicy black bean salsa?  These are easy dishes made easier using pantry items.

First let’s look at a couple of real disappointments – items that have ingredients that are less than ideal and in one case, BAD.  Just because it says organic, it doesn’t mean that there cannot be problems.  ALWAYS read the labels!

I’ve been a fan of Annie’s brand for years, but lately, I’ve come across some disappointing items.  Last week, it was a so-called ‘healthy’ boxed macaroni and cheese, but to be honest, anything that is boxed can’t be that good.  Annies CaesarToday, in reading the label of Annie’s Organic Caesar dressing, I was disappointed to find that they list a generic ‘expeller pressed vegetable oil’ Canola and/or sunflower).  Canola is generally, BAD.  It is a genetically engineered oil from the rapeseed.   Rather than going into a detail on this, I am referring to a great article from Natural News.  It starts ” Corn oil comes from corn: sunflower oil from sunflowers, sesame oil from sesame seeds, peanut oil from peanuts, olive oil from olives, Canola oil from…Canolas? What is a Canola?”  The uptake?  Canola is bad.  There are many more good oils to choose from.  It is made from a high-heat process using toxic chemicals in the process.  It is touted by the food industry as being healthy, yet many animal studies point to serious and deleterious effects on rats and pigs.  Why take the chance?   I should add that we generally make our own Caesar salad from scratch.  Hmmm…I’ll post that recipe soon.  It’s to die for!

Another disappointing item?  Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups.  Justins Peanut Butter CupsThese are a real taste sensation.  You’ll never want the standard old junk-food peanut butter cups again.  BUT there’s one nasty item on the ingredient list:  SOY.  Even if it’s organic, it’s still soy and soy is a hormone disruptor.  I can’t understand why companies that appear to be health-oriented continue to use soy lecithin when there’s a far healthier choice out there in the form of non-GMO sunflower lecithin.  As much as I like this item, I’ve stopped eating it now because of the soy.  Hormone disruption is the basis of many health problems.  Weight issues are the first that come to mind, but anything to do with your body’s endocrine system can be disrupted with soy.  The World Health Organization reports problems from hormone disruption including non-descended testes in young males, breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, developmental effects on the nervous system, attention deficit /hyperactivity in children and thyroid cancer.  Come on, Justins!  Get with the program and stop using that stuff!

Now for the good things.  While I always encourage using fresh and healthy items, there are times that you just need a bit of help in the kitchen.  That’s when we go to the pantry for our jarred or canned items.    The packaging is important.  If possible, buy these items in jars where you will have little or no BPA exposure.  If in cans, be sure they’re marked as BPA-free.

Who wants to make sauerkraut from scratch?  Not me! I occasionally find some organic Sauerkrautchicken sausages for a quick dinner, brown them and cook with sauerkraut.  I’ve been really happy with the Eden Organic product.  The ingredients?  Organic cabbage, water and sea salt.  That’s all you need!  This is a good pantry item to have on hand.

If you don’t have nut allergies, a great snack always includes peanut butter.  It’s high in energy, protein and fiber.  And the best peanut butter contains absolutely NOTHING but organic peanuts.   You can spread on apple wedges for a quick snack or on organic bread (ours is gluten free) with sliced bananas PeanutButterfor an old fashioned peanut butter and banana sandwich.  Oh, my Mama loved those!

Kalamata Olives are a great addition to salads and for appetizers. Divinia Organic Olives These organic olives are particularly good and I use them in a Nicoise salad (as shown above) and for any Greek style dish.  What’s in them?  Organic Kalamata olives, water, organic red wine vinegar and sea salt.  You can make a divine main-dish salad from leftovers such as chilled green beans, hard boiled eggs, sliced seared fresh tuna, fresh herbs and olives with a light mustard-based dressing. Add Feta cheese for a Greek accent or some hard Italian or French cheese shreds for a more northern Mediterranean accent.

Living in South Florida, one comes to rely on black beans in many dishes.  Black bean chili is a healthy one-dish meal.  Black beans are wonderful in salads, salsa and of course, over rice.  Black Bean salsaThe ideal manner of preparing is using dried black beans that have been soaked overnight and slow-cooked.  However, since there isn’t always time for that, canned black beans are a great pantry item to add protein, fiber, vitamins and iron to your diet.  (Note:  If using corn in your black bean salsa as shown to the right, be sure you have organic, non-GMO corn!)

At the risk of being downright boring, I can’t remind you enough:  READ THE LABELS!

BlackBeans

Wellness for your pets. They deserve the best!

I credit much of my success in weight loss and in my wellness to the loving atmosphere in my home. Yes, the meditation is key. Yes, excellent nutrition is a requirement. But the mental and emotional world surrounding us can have a profound affect on us all. And our home is a spa for us all.  The love we have for our pets and that they have for us nourishes our spirit daily.

I’m an advocate for all animals, big and small. I feel that they deserve the best we can give. This of course, translates to working with animal rights groups, rescue organizations and wildlife organizations. But it really must start at home.

Having never had children, my fur and feather babies ARE my children. They get the best of everything. We are very particular about healthy nutrition and this of course, goes for our pets.

I’d never even consider buying kibble for our cats nor would I consider feeding our Yellow Nape Amazon Parrot a fattening, unbalanced seed diet. We try to keep their diets as close as possible to what nature intended. Here’s a rundown of the diet for our gang

Harrisons Bird FoodsOur Amazon has been eating an organic food since she was a hand-fed chick. This food was developed by a vet, Dr. Gregory Harrison.   I feed this about 10 months out of the year.  When she comes into her ‘season’ and gets, um, shall we say ‘frisky’, it is clear that her body is demanding more of her so we feed the higher protein version for those two months.  She’s now 11 and very healthy and active. We supplement with fresh food as well. She loves nuts but they can make her fat, so now we do freeze dried organic peas as her treat and she’s crazy about them.  Another treat?  I give her the seeds from organic oranges, lemons and limes that I use when cooking.   I order this directly from Harrison’s in Tennessee.  Harrison’s Bird Food  I highly recommend them, though.

Our cats are young – 2 years, 2 months and 5 1/2 months old.  They have eaten raw since they were babies.   It is difficult to do here in this town because we have very few quality choices for high quality raw pet foods, and the local stores, while nice, don’t keep things in stock for ready access.  So, most everything they eat is ordered in.   There are three ways to go raw:  (1) make it yourself  (2) frozen and (3) freeze-dried.   Freeze dried cat foodTo make it yourself, you really need the highest quality organic ingredients and the problem with that is that we have no real quality source for organic meats here.  I did buy an organic chicken a few weeks back that was NOT out of date, that was rotted when I opened it.  Nasty!   Thus, I go with option 2 or 3.  Most of the time, it’s the freeze dried.  They do love it, though.  There are added vitamins and taurine but not much else – just raw meat that is sourced from outside the US.  I try to buy NOTHING that is sourced in the US if it is not organic, thus much of this comes from New Zealand.  I actually had a problem trying to snap this picture because the girls thought it was lunch time – AGAIN.  I order this from an on-line Florida company called http://www.Chewy.com. They generally arrive in 2 or 3 days and shipping is free with an order over $50.00.   You toss these with a small amount of warmed, purified water to reconstitute.  Be sure to do this, though.  Dehydration will do a great deal of harm to a cat’s kidneys.

The last option is far more expensive.   The frozen raw is harder to come by and even Raw Advantage Frozen chicken neck crumblesharder to find in organic.  As you can see, I was unable to get a good picture without, um, supervision.  Not only do you have to ship it in, but it needs to come in an expedited manner and frozen.  Raw Advantage Organic Chicken Neck Crumbles .  Since freezer space is at a premium, these are used more often as treats.

Raw chicken ‘meaty bones’ are good for cats.  Just never, ever, ever give them cooked bones!  This gives them the same sensation they have when chomping down on a meaty mouse, though my babies have never had such a thing.

And finally, let’s not forget the highlight of the evening:  TREATS.  Again, it is hard to find something that is not ‘manufactured’ with artificial and harmful ingredients.   Our girls go crazy for these!   They’re nothing but freeze dried single-ingredient chunks.  The salmon is Alaskan wild Freeze Dried Treatssalmon so I feel fairly comfortable with that.  NEVER, EVER give your pets or your family farmed fish!   The chicken, well…they love it but the fact that it is stamped “Made in the USA” makes me really nervous.  We all know what goes with US meat production.  I’m always looking for an alternative.  I’m able to buy these from Amazon most of the time.

Now, a word of warning about the pet foods you generally see in the supermarket or on TV.  RUN!  If you simply Google “Pet Food Recalls”, you’ll be astounded by how many there are.  And very few companies are immune from this.  Some of the worst are sold in vets offices:  Hills Science Diet and the Prescription diets as well as the highly-touted. Royal Canin sold by breeders and vets?  Not good.  Kibble is also known as kitty crack.  They spray this with something that makes cats crave this, much like they get children hooked on bad breakfast cereals.  This can destroy your babies’ kidneys and shorten their lives.  Pet food dealers will often tout ‘human grade ingredients’ but with GMO’s and other poisons, that isn’t saying a lot.

Finally, here are a few shots of my girls.  Sophie.  And then there are Mhysa and Mei Li…Nice?  Or not so nice?  The seemingly nice ‘hug’ is generally the prelude to a bit of a fight.   😉Sophie Mei Li and Mhysa

 

 

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