Tag Archives: organic

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.

 

 

It pays to invest in wellness

My husband will turn 65 the end of November, and thus I’ve been forced to look at Medicare in detail.  Let me tell you, it’s ugly!  The many myths I’ve believed have now been shattered.  Medicare is not a panacea.  MedicareAs a matter of fact, my husband’s Medicare will cost us more for basic annual services such as blood work and checkups than our existing ACA coverage does.  (Affordable Care Act)  AND he’ll pay $104 monthly which is higher than current premiums, with far, far higher potential financial exposure than the current coverage offers.

It’s discouraging to think that our government pushes those at age 65 into a program that really isn’t the best thing for anyone.  Luckily for us, we do everything in our power to stay away from the standard Western medical community by remaining well.  Unfortunately accidents do happen and my husband was hospitalized because of an accident in 2010.  He was also hospitalized because he ate some bad stuff in 2012.  In looking at our coverages, it appears that we would pay far, far more using Medicare than we’d have paid with our previous insurances.

So, it’s become increasingly clear that we MUST keep ourselves healthy.  This country is not like France nor is it like Canada, where quality health care is available for all at a minimal cost, if any cost at all.  In the US it’s every man for himself.   Thank goodness for the wellness-minded providers!  At least you are getting quality for what you pay where with the standard medical community, your results are always questionable and quality is long gone.

I invite you all to contribute to a list that we can all share, of health-minded providers, natural healers and alternative healers in the comment section below.  You can include health food stores, wellness providers, integrated medicine providers and any other alternative provider that you deem worthy.

I should also add that the same holds true for our beloved furry and feathered family members.  The same lack of respect towards wellness, the same cut ‘n’ drug thinking applies to veterinarians.

And if you have been reading this blog, you know that I am a strong believer that reading labels, organic eating, healthy choices and meditation will go a long way towards healing.

I’ll start the list here, but urge everyone to please, please add to the list!

Mitzi Schardt, MSN, NP – Fort Myers / Cape Coral, FL

Robert Murdock, NaturalFamilyPhysicians.com / Fort Myers and Cape Coral, FL

Whole Foods nationwide

Natural Pet Care LLC – Metarie, Louisiana  (They do phone consultations)

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

 

 

Cheese, glorious cheese!

I generally do not eat dairy.  Think about it.  Humans are the only species that drinks the milk of other species.  And humans are the only species that drinks that milk of other species, after weaning.  Our systems aren’t made to process it well.  Those of us who have fine-tuned our diet have an even greater problem with dairy.  I don’t crave it and don’t want it – except for CHEESE!!!!

CHEESEActually, cheese has some excellent nutritional benefits, as long as you don’t overdo it and overload on the fat content.  And, cheese doesn’t give me a problem!  While I don’t think we’re technically ‘lactose intolerant’, those who are lactose intolerant have no problem with cheese.  Why?  When milk turns to cheese, it goes through a process called acidification, which is a souring process.  The lactose in the milk converts to lactic acid.  It becomes a different entity altogether.   By the time a cheese is aged, most if not all of the lactose is gone.  The more aged or the firmer the cheese, the safer it is to eat if you’re lactose intolerant.

WHEW!  I’m really glad to know all of that.   Both Mark and I are cheese lovers, but we do limit ourselves, AND as always, I read every label when buying cheese.

There are organic cheeses that are really good and easily available in the States. Organic Cheese Horizon and Organic Valley make some good basic  cheeses and they’re reasonably priced.  But if you want something really special, you should be looking at cheeses that are not made in the US.   Knowing the contamination factor of GMO’s in this country, as always, you should go organic.

And knowing that Europe is very anti-GMO gives me a better feeling about their cheeses.  There are some excellent Canadian cheeses as well. I could spend hours in the cheese section of Whole Foods or any other store that has an excellent cheese section. Trader Joes?  Just read the labels.  Trader Joe’s has inexpensive food, but it’s often NOT organic and NOT non-GMO.

When it comes to labeling, like anything imported into the US, the country of origin should be displayed on the product.  In my case, I’m not looking to eliminate the product from viable choices.  I’m looking for something that is a better choice than most cheeses in the US.

Until fairly recently, you could count on the type and name of a cheese to know where it was produced based on the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) , PGI (Protected Geographical Indication and TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed).  The European Union protects the name of regional foods and it is enforced within the EU and internationally via bilateral agreements with non-EU countries.  This protects the reputation of regional foods and insures a consistent quality for those items.  Wines, cheeses, hams, sausage, olives and beer are governed by this.  Some examples of cheeses that fall into this category are Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago and Roquefort. But cheesemakers nationwide have begun to infringe on these protections. If you ask me, it makes them look really bad.   Yes, they make some tasty (and some organic) cheese in Wisconsin but can’t they create their own styles? Why do they feel they have the right to take something that is not theirs?

The US hasn’t been particularly helpful in this legal process, protecting these lovely foods, and thus, you see more and more US-made ‘imitations’ of European cheeses.  Without the particulars of the location that they are traditionally made in, you aren’t getting anything remotely close to the original.  For example, to be named Roquefort,  Cheese.Wikia.com says, ”  cheese must be made from the milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort in the Aveyron region of France, where it is infected with the spores of a particular fungus (Penicillium roqueforti) that grows in these caves. “

Interestingly enough, what’s good for the goose doesn’t seem to be good for the gander.  Cheese producers in Wisconsin infringe on EU PDO products constantly.  You really have to read the labels to know what you’re getting, because the people in Wisconsin have adopted Italian, Dutch and French names for their companies.  Here is a prime example and if you ask me, it should be illegal. Those who know no better could be easily duped into buying a product that is in fact NOT Gorgonzola and NOT Italian.  WisconsinItalianCheeseNOYET, many regions in the US feel they deserve the protections that the US denies European producers.  Some examples:  Georgia feels that to be labeled a Vidalia Onion, it must be produced in the area of Vidalia, Georgia.   Idaho feels the same way about their potatoes and Florida is very protective of their Florida Orange Juice moniker.

So again, we’re back to reading labels.  On my trip to the market yesterday, I took some pictures of cheese labels to illustrate what we’re talking about.

Note how BelGioioso uses an Italian Name, claims to be an Italian Blue Cheese, yet it’s made in Wisconsin.

 

Also, this Feta, WisconsinGreekCheeseNOwhich is traditionally a Greek cheese, uses a more Mediterranean company name and yet it is made in the US.

And finally, I found this interesting little gem (Castello) in the cheese section at the local supermarket.  I’ve turned it inside out and found no country of origin.  So I bought it, since I love this type of cheese, thinking perhaps that once it was opened, the magical country of origin would be revealed.  Nope!

Now, I suspected it was from Denmark since I saw a small stamp on it that said DK.  But again, it didn’t meet the requirements for labeling in the US.

 

As it happens this is a delicious cheese and I’m sure it’s from Denmark, CheeseNotProperlyLabeledbut still, this proves that you must read every label, every day to know what you’re putting in your body.

And shame on Publix for not adhering to the law that requires that anything they sell is properly labeled as to country of origin.   I might have passed this by, assuming it was another deception by a Wisconsin cheesemaker, if I’d not seen the DK in the small circle on the back.  And most Americans don’t know the symbols for European countries.

Finally, the entire time I’ve been writing this, a commercial jingle from the 80’s kept rolling around in my head so I am including it below.  Now it will probably embed itself in YOUR head for the rest of the day.  Enjoy!

(Edit:  Now after posting, I realized that this ad was for the American Dairy Council and our dairy products in 1987 were already soaked in pesticides.  Oh well.  All we can do is demand better for ourselves and our family. )

 

 

You CAN Tighten the Skin with Nature’s Help

QueenOfTheHiveCreamBees are wonderful creatures.  Without them, we’d have no flowers, no fruits, no vegetables and no honey!  This product is all about the bee.  I use this after cleansing, toning and any toners or glycolics.

I began using this product in early May.  My interest in this product was triggered by the amazing appearance of the glowing Kate Middleton on the steps of the hospital hours after she gave birth.  Yes, of course, I know she had a massive team effort involved in that unbelievable presentation, and I’m sure she collapsed immediately upon getting into the vehicle for the ride home.  And of course, she’s only 33 years old.  One article commented that she was a great advocate of a bee venom facial cream from a London spa, that had been introduced to her by her mother-in-law.

SO, I looked up pictures of her mother-in-law, the Dutchess of Cornwall,  and in doing so, I realized that she seemed to have shed years from her face as of late.   I didn’t find the exact cream in my price range, but in researching, I did find what I would consider to be a good quality cream from a good company, Wedderspoon.  I’ve used the organic Manuka honey from this New Zealand company for many years and they have a good reputation.  Now they have a Face Contour Cream with Manuka Honey and Bee Venom.   After cleansing, toning and lightening serum (with hyaluronic acid) in the mornings, I apply this over my entire face, neck, back of hands and even my eyelids.   Before bedtime, I cleanse, tone, use the lightening glycocide cream (which has hyaluronic acid), this Face Contour Cream before other steps (detailed in following posts).

I have combination skin so I always test in an inconspicuous area before I try anything new.  AND, since I’m also allergic to bee stings, I was especially careful with this cream.  I had zero reaction from this cream!   It has a nice, light vanilla / honey scent

Hyaluronic acid, by the way, is in many serums and creams, and it encourages moisture to be drawn into the skin.  BUT a word of caution:  It is NOT a moisturizer on its own.  If you put plain hyaluronic acid on your skin (I make my own hyaluronic serum) and you do not put a moisturizer on top of it, it will draw moisture OUT of your skin.  So it’s important to know a bit about this ingredient and to always put a moisturizer on top of it.

Next up:  Firming / Sculpting cream AND sun protection