Water is water. Right? That is exactly what I thought for my entire life, until recent exploration has lead me to believe otherwise….
Archives for September 2014
I walked into Trader Joe’s and audibly squealed when I saw the bin of delicata squashes (I’m pretty sure other foodie dietitians do this too). My favorite squashes are finally in stores! I’ve mentioned before that the change of season does bring some of my favorite foods and squashes definitely top that list.
Fall also means it’s the acceptable soup season. I say “acceptable” because I would happily eat soup breakfast, lunch, and dinner year-round. It is one of my favorite meals and my favorite thing to concoct in the kitchen. You can expect many soup and stew recipes in the coming months….
It has been awhile since I joined the What I Ate Wednesday blogosphere party. AKA “what I ate Tuesday posted on Wednesday”. My days have recently gotten busier with me bouncing between one of five locations for work. It has meant an increased need for satiating, convenient, and fast meals. Plus an increased dependence on my planner, which is surprisingly heavy when you carry it around 24/7. My right shoulder is noticeably sore…I should probably switch arms every now and then.
Anyways, I wish this schedule change meant a huge difference in what I eat, for interest sake, but not too much has changed. I was seeking out satiating and convenient meals anyways, because who wants complicated, unsatisfying food?…
Fermentation of foods has been around for centuries as a means of preservation. Today’s use of canning and other preservation methods have decreased the amount of naturally fermented foods in our diet. However, look just about anywhere and it is clear that fermented foods are having a major resurgence. Fermentation foods are more prevalent than you may think. As people become aware of the health benefits, fermentation is a hot selling point. Explore fermentation to get a tangy flavor kick and extra nutrition in your diet….
The weather forecast for today was, and I quote, “nippy”…aka decidedly Fall-like and a little too cold for my liking. However, one of the few good things about Fall is the flavors that come with the change of seasons. Woohoo-the season of cinnamon, crisp apples and squashes galore has begun! I don’t like the cold temperatures, but I do love the flavors of Fall cooking. It’s the little things 🙂
The weather, combined with my peaked interest in alternative flours, lead me to create a seasonal apple-cinnamon muffin using coconut flour. Coconut flour (and anything else made of coconut) is all the rage now so I decided to jump on board and see what all the fuss is about….
At the root of every illness lies inflammation. A chronic inflammatory state is associated with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Although inflammation is always discussed as a bad thing, short-term inflammation is actually a good thing. It is the body’s defense mechanism. Inflammation is an immune response that causes the pain, stiffness, redness, swelling, and heat associated with injury. Anything from a paper-cut to a broken bone triggers inflammation and allows the body to heal.
In the long term, however, chronic inflammation is a bad thing that occurs when you are repeatedly exposed to an inflammatory stimuli. This can be genetic, cigarette smoke exposure, excessive exercise/being sedentary, and yup, what you eat! Research presented at the 2013 annual American Institute for Cancer Research conference suggested that individuals with an inflammatory diet were 53% more likely to die from all causes compared to those following an anti-inflammatory diet. 53 percent.…
Chia seeds: not just for growing fuzzy, green pets.
Chia seeds have been gaining popularity in the health food world over the past few years but these teeny, tiny seeds have recently gone viral. Everyone seems to associate them with “health” but questions remain. What exactly are chia seeds? Can I keep them as pets? Why are they good for me? And the biggest of all…what the heck am I supposed to do with them?…
Praise the kitchen gods-I have gotten granola bars to stick together! Now, maybe everyone else has already figured out how to do this but by the time I cut the bars, I often end up with a dish of granola chunks (equally good, not intended). Turns out it was my sweetener of choice. I gravitate towards maple syrup, and as sticky as it may seem, it doesn’t have the holding power of honey. I combined honey with sunflower seed butter for more flavor and holding power to create an extra delicious granola bar.
I’ve done a poor job at hiding my disgust with packaged granola bars. I love the concept of oats, chewy fruit, and crunchy seeds all baked together but not when it’s factory made. You can eat almost anything you want, as long as you make it yourself. Homemade granola bars definitely fit into a healthy diet.
My favorite part about granola bars is their versatility. You can use any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and/or chocolate you’d like. Of course, you can use peanut butter, almond butter or any other nut/seed butter too. If I had shredded coconut and wasn’t 100% positive I would have bought 10x more than just coconut at the grocery store, these bars would have included coconut too. Next time.
In a moment of weakness, I topped these granola bars with chocolate chips but the addition isn’t necessary. They are so flavorful and healthfully hearty to begin with, but anything with chocolate added isn’t exactly bad.
These bars are very quick and can be adapted to fit your taste preferences and the pantry staples you have on hand. They make a good snack or dessert, especially when enjoyed with a cup of tea (see Wednesday’s post for tea inspiration).
- 1½ cups rolled oats (certified GF if necessary)
- ½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries, or other dried fruit
- ½ cup sunflower seeds, or other nut/seed combination
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup sunflower seed butter, or other nut/seed butter
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbs. chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a glass, microwaveable bowl, whisk together the honey, vanilla, and sunflower seed butter. Microwave for 30-60 seconds, until combined and pourable.
- Pour honey mixture over oats and stir to combine with a spatula.
- Scoop granola bar mixture into prepared baking dish. With slightly damp hands, press down on mixture to spread and flatten evenly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips if desired.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool COMPLETELY before slicing into bars.
Tip: Spray a measuring cup with oil spray before measuring honey and sunflower seed butter-it is much easier to get it out that way!
Bon Appetite! Have a nice weekend 🙂
Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world (after water). It has been used for thousands of years in ceremonies, to heal illness, or just to hydrate. “Real” tea is made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and consists of black, oolong, green, and white varieties varying in oxidation levels. Although green tea gets all the hype as a health-promoting beverage, all tea has substantial benefits thanks for a high antioxidant and L-theanine concentration.
Tea has always been a part of my life. I grew up watching my grandfather drink several cups of black tea per day, a practice he continues to this day. I enjoyed a cup of tea after school often with my mom and it became a daily ritual in college. My roommate and I had a “tea bowl” (which often contained York peppermint patties too) and later I had an entire tea table. I have since graduated to a “tea wall” in my apartment, which is a shelf with 15 types of tea, mugs, and multiple tea infusers. In my next house, I will require a tea room. I may have a tea addiction although I’m still in denial. Those who are struggling with gifts for me know that tea and related items are always a good bet. One of my favorite gifts was an electric teakettle, with varying temperatures for different types of tea. It is my most used kitchen appliance to date….
Part two of healthy nutrition swaps is up! Easy changes that your brain can handle in the Monday morning fog…
1. Choose Hummus/Avocado over Mayo: No doubt, a sandwich needs some moisture, but mayo is packed with calories, and even more importantly, lacking true nutritional benefit. Try spreading your 100% whole grain bread with hummus or avocado for protein, healthy fats, and more flavor.
2. Choose Vegetable Bases over Heavy Carbs: Whatever you’re eating, try to have a vegetable as the main component. For example, spaghetti squash makes a wonderful substitute for pasta, as do zucchini noodles. Try mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes and grated cauliflower instead of rice. And when in doubt, serve food over spinach. It wilts quickly, looks nice, and provides extra nutrition effortlessly.