Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Easy homemade:: Sweet & savory brekky topped flatbread

This easy brekky snack is inspired by Jaime Oliver's Quick and Easy 5 ingredient meal Egg & Mango Chutney Flatbread. After seeing the show I wanted to make this tasty treat but I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand so I substituted the closest items I had on hand and it was a delightful alternative! 

For the full original recipe, check out the link above. My subs are below.

2 eggs
3 tbsp Self-rising flour
3 tbsp Brown Cow plain yogurt
A few tbsp marmalade
3-4 Shishito peppers

How to make it::
1. Put 2 eggs in warm water and bring to a boil for 5 1/2 minutes.
2. Mix flour, yogurt and pinch of salt. Kneed lightly, cut in half, roll 1/4 in thick and place in warm pan (no oil necessary). Ligjtly brown on each side.
3. Remove eggs and peel. Remove flatbread to plate.
4. Spread marmalade on flatbreads and a dollop of yogurt. Cut aoft boiled egg on top and sprinkle with rounds of peppers.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Healthy Homemade // Vanilla Extract

With consumers gaining more and more knowledge about what's really in their food and knowing how to read food labels, some of us have turned to homemade alternatives. As a mom, homemade gives me the feeling of security that I know what's in the food I'm feeding my family...but it sometimes gives me this tense sigh that makes me think and when exactly will I have time for that?  When I come across a solution for a healthier food staple for my pantry that takes pretty much ZERO effort, I am thrilled!  (Read more about why regular store bought vanilla isn't what you think it is and another article on how to make it yourself here.)
A perfect gift for a healthy foodie came in the form of beans...delicious smelling vanilla beans that is. For Christmas this past year my mom gifted me a Vanilla Infusion Kit from Salt Sisters, which included a unique glass bottle with three fragrant organic vanilla beans. (Well, my kit actually included extra vanilla beans so I could make multiple batches.) And my clever mama found more bottles for me to make the extra batches. Yay, a gift that would lead to more gifts! I love it.
After several months of waiting for the infusion to take place, I finally have my very first bottle of homemade vanilla extract. It was finished infusing just in time to make a special birthday cake for my hubby. Perfect! It was divine and had just as strong flavor as any store bought vanilla I'd ever used but at a fraction of the cost. See the breakdown below.

What you're saving:: 

Salt Sisters Vanilla Infusion Kit:  $31.25
Extra vanilla beans for two more bottles: $7.95
Cheap, bottom-shelf vodka: $6.99
Grolsch 4 pack of beer to use the bottles: $7.99
Total: $54.18 for 3 16oz bottles (48 oz)

Grand Total: $1.12/oz

Store bought Simply Organic Vanilla, 4 oz
Local grocery price:  $9.89
Online health store, Vitacost: $8.09

Grocery cost for 48 oz (12 bottles): $118.68

Online cost for 48 oz (12 bottles): $97.08

1. Have your hubby drink 2 Grolsch beers. (He loved this idea already!)
2. Clean your beer bottles and dry them. Add 2 beans to each bottle. (The Salt Sisters bottle came ready to go.)
3. Fill bottles with Vodka.
4. Store in a cool dark place for several months. This could take anywhere from 2-4 months. Mine took three and a half months before there was no alcohol smell.
5. Use, gift and enjoy!

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 4

Ahhh, the glory moment came...the feeling of a new you, the moment you remember where you're standing, what you're wearing, your total surroundings. You can close your eyes and be there. The clouds give way to clear skys and you see the revelation. 

Day 4 was my revelation. I don't need food. (Okay, okay, I need food to live, yes.) But I'm talking about the desire to need certain foods that you don't really need...do you follow? I don't need a bowl of ice cream, a brownie, a hamburger, a french fry (oh sweet french fries!). Many of us know this in our rational mind. You don't need the things that aren't really good for you. But you're thirsty and want a soda, OR you're craving a sweet so you'll have just a little bite..., OR... whatever it is wr think we need. We justify the non-need. 

However, we don't actually need food at all for quite some time. We won't die if we don't eat for even several days at a time. In fact, by Day 4 I hadn't even experienced really any side effects to juicing. Some do, some don't. It really depends on the diet you were giving up to do the juice cleanse in the first place and what your body needs to purge. I purged cravings. I purged the idea that I would suffer without food. I purged the idea that I had to eat at a certain time or the world would end and you better get out of my way to that fridge! (Aka, hanger!) See I had fasted before but not in a healthy way. I had starved myself - unintentionally - out of busyness and lack of attention to proper nutrition; skipping breakfast, eating a late lunch, or eating no lunch, then eating a big I'm-hangry-don't-bother-me dinner. Not all the time, but it was a bad habit that would come and go depending on the circumstances of the day.

After four days of a regimented and completely clean download of amazing antioxidants and complete whole nutrition (in the form of juice) feeding my system for four days, I remember where I was standing, what I was wearing, and where I was in the house when the lightbulb went on. God gave us everything we need to thrive. Yes, I know this... But to realize he designed a perfect system within us made to function in harmony with elements of the world around us, and to realize that benefit and be living it is such a good feeling. It's a feeling you don't forget. 

While I don't need a brownie, will I ever eat one again? Yes, of course. Life needs to be lived with joy. Yet, now I choose it in a different way. I care about the design of my creator within and I am more in touch with the importance of my daily nutrition because it really does dictate my overall health in the grand picture of my life. One little brownie might not hurt me today, but many of those choices over time do. When you partner with your purpose to thrive within you, your desire for better living overcomes all the other negative desires.

I don't need food, but I am so incredibly glad I get to enjoy it. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 3

Another victory met! The halfway mark of this journey was so sweet because it was all downhill from here. Small victories in a BIG challenge are important to celebrate. So I think I did and went shopping or something...I forget, but I treated myself to something little because who doesn't like a reward? Even if it's just a little sumthin' for your hard work.

One of the real rewards in this as I mentioned Day 1 was discovering some food allergies. I can't even tell you how many crazy, sideways, inquisitively confused glances I've gotten from health care professionals from my candid confessions of weird bodily symptoms I get like when I'm sick with a cough the way I know it's truly an infection is the middle of my back gets itchy...yeah, never met anyone else in my life that happens to. (If you know something about that, please share. And if you think I'm weird, be nice and don't share. I know already and I'm fine with it. Ha!)

Back to weird food allergies...over the years I've had some minor run ins with the random fruit, vegetable or tree nut. Food items include:  banana making my lips feel swollen; cantaloupe - cucumbers - walnuts - sometimes almonds, mainly raw - and...oh yeah, the big one cherries all make my throat itchy. Not always, and sometimes just mild. Cherries are actually in a class of their own. On a few occasions I felt a ver strong I think my throat is swelling feeling and I just plain refuse to eat them. But it's only fresh or frozen ones, not dried cherries. (Yay! Because I love them on salad.) So explain these random food irritations to a physician, and hence the looks. All I said to my ND was, "Sometimes cucumbers bother my..."  Her response: "Yeah, and cantaloupe, walnuts, bananas, tomatoes..."  

My heart screamed: She gets me!!! Hold the phone though...tomatoes have never bothered me and I l.o.v.e. them and eat them all the time. Well, little known fact to me (and everyone else I've ever asked) these foods are somehow related. So for the purpose of the juice fast and reintroducing foods into my diet I was to restrict these problem items. No biggie. I could do that for 2 weeks. If I can not eat for 5 days, cutting out something (for a time) really just isn't a big deal anymore. (Huge BONUS of juicing, by the way. Willpower.)

After the juicing I have reintroduced a tomato here and there and now I notice the irritation. If I eat one just straight up raw by itself I realize it is bothering me. Good to know. If my body is inflamed and irritated from something I'm giving it I want to know what the cause is so I can manage or eliminate the problem. If I'm giving my body things that irritate it regularly or multiple things all in one meal (a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, walnuts...eeek), I'm going to become accustomed to the noise it causes in my body because it starts to feel normal. The little nuanced cry my body made about tomatoes...I didn't even notice it until I had successfully removed them for three weeks. Then I heard and now I know how to listen. I'm still eating tomatoes, but I know better now how and when. A great lesson learned.

Be sure to check out Health + Happy's amazing blog for all things nutrition related or to get your juice on.

If you missed out, read all about Day 1, and Day 2

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 2

Okay, here's the honest truth:  This was the hardest day! It stinks that there is a hard day, but at least you get it over with. If Day 5 were the hardest, who would want to reach that goal, right? Well, for me, and for most other juice cleansers I've talked to, Day 2 is tough. It probably didn't help that I made my husband one of his favorite meals that day (total comfort food:  Baked Mac & Cheese, ya'll) - and it was goood too. Like "best ever" - hubby quote. Go get that recipe quick and meet me back here. But don't eat it while you're juicing (or if you want to be super healthy - oops!)...

So what made today so tough?  Day 2 is where the mental game sets in. And this isn't just for juicing, by the way. I've experienced Day 2 Syndrome, as I'll now call it, on other occasions as well (confession: like when I quit smoking - ew, I can't believe I ever did that but I did and I quit successfully cold turkey. I think I'll write a book about it, maybe. Plenty of people would like to know how to lose that bad habit, for sure). Point is, Day 2 Syndrome is a battle of the mind. Or Battlefield of the Mind as the gifted Joyce Meyer has put it.

What am I talking about exactly? A Battlefield of the Mind? I'm talking about when the excitement of your ambition (I'm going to juice cleanse, I'm going to quit smoking, I'm going to run my first 10K and start training tomorrow...) wears off. You've been inspired or gotten an idea and you are determined, Yeah, I can do this. I'll give this a go. And your adrenaline sets in. It charges you. You are passionate, ready as you can be, and you take action.

You juice one day. Yay! You quit smoking one day. Yay! You go running once or twice. Yay! Then Day 2 Syndrome happens. You loose steam. f.a.s.t... And the questions in your mind (and often out loud) start:  How am I going to drink all this juice? For five days straight?! How can I quit smoking, I just can't take these cravings? I'm only running a 12 min mile. How will I ever run a 10K? It's like clockwork. I know very few people who don't go through this cycle of questioning when they tackle something they previously thought they could not do. And anyone who doesn't go through this, then they've probably had a lot of practice going through this, at one point. Our mind doubts. We doubt. We struggle to accept things we don't know. Can I do this? Will I make it? No one likes to fail.

For me, personally, when I face the challenge of Day 2 Syndrome, I put my trust in God. He has my back. He designed me, and knows me, and knows my heart's desire. In this case, he knows my desire to be healthy, to function with optimal internal health, to rid my tummy and intestines of unhealthy bacteria, to rid my system of unpleasant allergies, and to just overall feel good. He wants that for me. And his Word tells me that fasting is okay. It is safe. That I will live. And I trust Him and His Word.  So on Day 2, I spent some time questioning, at first, but I quickly turned to God's Word and found some great daily devotionals about fasting to read on my journey. It was super helpful and gave me tons of encouragement.

Whether this is your source of motivation or not (it's the ultimate in my opinion!), you need motivation outside of yourself to get through a challenge that is bigger than you.  Consuming only liquids for 5 days isn't something you do regularly. It is a challenge, and as my ND put it - it's an accomplishment. Most accomplishments don't happen in and of your own abilities - someone or something helps you reach your goal - a coach, a friend, a book, something pours motivation into you.  For me, that is God.

What is your motivation? Who or what inspires you? So many things inspire me the list is too long to share. But when it comes to health, what is your muse?

Be sure to check out Health + Happy's amazing blog for all things nutrition related or to get your juice on.

If you missed out, read all about Day 1

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 1

My first little victory of this testing 5-day journey is over...well almost. I'm sipping my last liquids as I write: a warm and comforting cup of peppermint tea to soothe the digestive system and calm me to sleep. With four days left I'm facing them with fierce determination that this week is going to be so much better than I had been dreaming up it would or could be. Easy, no way. It's not easy to deny yourself food and then drink all of your nourishment for let's count...1, 2, 3, 4, five days! But clearing the first day successfully was a huge boost to the spirit.

First, let's get it over with and talk fears. What did I fear in entering into this?

Well, for one thing, I have never fasted. Not with intention. Only in the I'm so immersed in what I'm doing I forgot to take care of myself and eat way. Which isn't at all fasting. Fasting is a willing act of abstinence. It is surrender. It is abandoning the burden of something that has hold over you. It is entering into a place of freedom. (All in my opinion and belief.) Long story short, I didn't know what to expect without eating, on purpose. But I do know what to expect from going long periods without eating before today...to name a few: headaches, hunger pains, lightheadedness, hypoglycemia, stomach aches, and the beloved hanger.  Not fun!

Second, I feared the detox. Well, that part hasn't happened yet, but what I do know about it is it's a good thing. Whatever is going on in my body that shouldn't right now, will be wiped out. That is health victory, friends. It's a clean slate. Sometimes the bad things in our lives have to be cut off, and that can hurt or it can be challenging, but it's worth it. Going through it...well, I've given birth. I know I'll live through most things.

Third, (and this one surprised me) other people. Not out of insecurity (which I talked about here while setting my resolutions this year), but out of the sheer fact that making huge health changes around others who don't, or won't, is HARD. Not that anyone is critical necessarily, but if you don't care about your health than it's hard to relate to sharp health shifts in someone's eating choices, like giving up sugar (completely), or whatever food it is: meats, dairy, sweets - you name it. I know every vegetarian and vegan out there can name at least one uncomfortable situation regarding food choices. It just has it's moments. And in this I hope I learn more how to educate, share, discuss, debate, and properly and politely defend my decisions because after all, it's my body. Why should anyone be anything but happy that I choose to treat it well? Hmmph.

So the exciting fun of it all... what did I eat (drink)?

Today I enjoyed a grapefruit blend that I sipped on all morning. It had a tangy spice to it and was awesome. So far, yum! Next I had a green juice packed with spirulina and other healthy greens. I could smell the celery when I opened it, which I love in juice. If you've ever juiced, or drink juice, you probably know and enjoy this taste paired nicely with some lemon. For lunch was a mixed greens and beet juice. I've tried to love other beet juices and I will say, for market fresh juice Evolution Fresh's Essential Vegetable with beets is definitely good and I make an amazing smoothie with it that I'll share soon (or just check out the recipe on my IG). This beet juice was definitely more drinkable straight up because it had a sweetness to it. My fourth juice of the day was a super carrot - a beautiful orange, my fave color - that tasted so, so, so fresh. It was like drinking juice from a carrot - if that were even possible. Like when you eat a perfect juicy tomato. Yeah, like that!! It really filled me up. It was actually tough to drink it all. That was such a nice feeling at this point in the day (5:00 p.m.-ish). Last up was another green juice. It was light and easy to drink at the end of a day with lots of liquid.

The only thing I "ate" throughout the day were raw, roasted almonds. Roasted because the raw irritate my throat. (I'm working on discovering some food allergies in this process.) And I was allowed one fried egg which I ate in the morning with my grapefruit juice. It helped me feel like I was eating breakfast since those are two things in a normal morning meal around here.

Other than that I'm taking specific supplements for my body that work for me and with my tailored juices. I'm getting a lot of good things each day. And it's alllll gooood stuff! Way better than even the healthy things I probably get in a normal day, because let's face it a normal day isn't going to be 100% healthy. Those are really the exception days, right? But I want them to be the norm. And I'm one day closer and enjoying it.

Be sure to check out Health + Happy's amazing blog for all things nutrition related or to get your juice on.

Stay tuned for the rest of the juice journey this week. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's On My Plate! // Baked Mac Casserole Style

In the midst of a juice cleanse, while eating no food for 5 days, I've perfected our family's Baked Mac. Yep, that homemade, creamy comfort noodle just got better around here and I couldn't even eat it. However, my man was thoroughly pleased with it so I enjoyed it...in a way. 

I've always made my own macaroni and cheese. I went through a period - you know, in college when laziness takes over your drive for good food - where I ate the boxed stuff. But ever since I was little, boxed mac was that stuff you ate at a sleepover, not at home with mama's good cookin'. So I learned, and have always made it as well, with a roux-béchamel-mornay including freshly shredded various cheddars and pepper jack for kick. I've changed it up here and there and it's one of the few ways I can get my husband to eat tuna so it's actually most often a Tuna Mac around here. It's a budget friendly protein and if that's the only way he's going to do it then Tuna Mac it is!

In my efforts to always improve my at-home culinary arts, I came across a Food52 post sharing their experience adapting Martha Stuart's version. I've made my own version so many times that I couldn't even tell you the recipe because it's one of those things I just do. Have I deviated from the original over time? Maybe, I don't know. So exploring this recipe again was good for me to get back to measurements and check my version against it. She uses Gruyere cheese verses my usual mix of cheddar/jack (or the experiments of whatever leftover cheese I've had that haven't always turned out the best). This definitely added to the creaminess I've been wanting. Her measurements give a generous amount of cheese to noodle ratio which I've dialed down a bit to keep it a little on the healthy side. The protein and veggies surely add some healthiness too. 

So here's What's On My [husband's] Plate: our family's current version of Baked Mac spruced up protein/veggie style with some tuna and peas, aka tuna casserole. I don't know what was harder, not eating this deliciousness or writing about it!

14 oz elbow macaroni
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
4 Cups milk
3-4 cups shredded cheese 
(1/2 sharp white cheddar and 1/2 applewood smoked Gruyere)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup frozen organic peas
1 can white tuna packed in water
Panko breadcrumbs

1. Cook and drain pasta. Don't overcook because you'll be baking it later.
2. Heat milk, keep warm and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, start your roux. On medium heat, melt butter in saucepan. Once melted and bubbly but not burning add four and stir immediately and get out all clumps.
4. Make your béchamel. Once roux is mixed, flour totally incorporated and a slight aroma coming from the flour cooking, slowly pour in your still warm milk 1 cup at a time. Incorporate it well each time. No lumps, just creamy, saucy goodness. Keep stirring, don't burn and allow it to thicken.
5. Make your mornay. Once the béchamel is thick and creamy add the shredded cheese about 1 cup at a time. Let it melt into the sauce.
6. Add spice! You can change this up and make it to your taste. Taste it until it's good to you. If we want it spicy, this is the step where I would add some Tapatio (we love Tapatio) or extra cayenne to step it up.
6. Add your noodles, peas and tuna to boost your noodle goodness. 
7. Pour into a greased 13x9. Top with panko cumbs. Bake at 350 until browning. About 20-30 minutes.


Read all about my experience juicing here.