Friday, July 1, 2016

July Activity List

We are in the middle of the wonderful-ness that is summer. 

Are you having lots of fun? Are you staying active and hydrated? Do you need some more ideas about some awesome things to do for fun? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rhubarb Muffins

It turns of out that if you don't have rhubarb - there are LOTS of people who grow it that will share it with you. - If you happen to be blessed with amazing people like this in your life, like me...  You have GOT to make these muffins.  I made a double batch and shared them and was given rave reviews. I think I am going to stash the recipe away and try it with some other fruits as well. The muffins were really that good. 

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with paper cups.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix by hand just until blended.

 Stir in the rhubarb and walnuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling almost to the top. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, white sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of this mixture on top of each muffin.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes before removing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Celery is Amazing

Apples walk away with most health accolades, and spinach leads the healthy veggie brigade. Compared to them, celery is somewhat unsung, but once you read its incredible–and nearly endless–list of health benefits, you will quickly join its growing list of lovers.

Celery is a great choice if you are watching your weight. One large stalk contains only 10 calories! So, add celery to your shopping list and enjoy it in your salads, soups and stir-fries.

Celery reduces inflammation. If you are suffering from joint pains, lung infections, asthma, or acne, eating more celery will bring much-needed relief.

It helps you calm down: Celery for stress-relief? Oh yes! The minerals in celery, especially magnesium, and the essential oil in it, soothe the nervous system. If you enjoy a celery-based snack in the evening, you will sleep better.

It regulates the body’s alkaline balance, thus protecting you from problems such as acidity.
Celery aids digestion: some say celery tastes like “crunchy water,” and that is the reason it is so good for your digestive system.  The high water content of celery, combined with the insoluble fiber in it, makes it a great tool for easy passage of stool. Note: because celery has diuretic and cleansing properties, those with diarrhea should avoid eating it.

It contains “good” salts. Yes, celery does contain sodium, but it is not the same thing as table salt. The salt in celery is organic, natural and essential for your health.

It cares for your eyes. One large stalk of celery can deliver up to 10 percent of your daily need for Vitamin A, a group of nutrients that protects the eyes and prevents age-related degeneration of vision.
Celery reduces “bad” cholesterol: There is a component in celery called butylphthalide. It gives the vegetable its flavor and scent. Guess what: this component also reduces bad cholesterol! A Chicago University research shows that just two stalks of celery a day can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 7 points!

It lowers blood pressure: An active compound called phthalides in celery has been proven to boost circulatory health. Raw, whole celery reduces high blood pressure.

It can amp up your sex life: and this is not just hearsay. Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, Director of the Smeel and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, says two pheromones in celery–androstenone and androstenol–boost your arousal levels. They are released when you chew on a celery stalk.

Celery can combat cancer: Two studies at the University of Illinois show that a powerful flavonoid in celery, called luteolin, inhibits the growth of cancer cells, especially in the pancreas. Another study suggests that the regular intake of celery could significantly delay the formation of breast cancer cells.

Useful Tips:
  • Choose celery with upright stalks that snap when bent. The leaves should be fresh and crisp.  When selecting celery, remember this rule of thumb:  The darker the color, the stronger the flavor.
  • Freshly chopped celery retains its nutrients much better than if you chop and store it even for a few hours. 
  • Steamed celery not only retains its flavor, but also most of its nutrients–up to 99 percent of them, in fact!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Foods you didn't know you could freeze

Food waste continues to be a serious problem, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of food intended for human consumption going to landfill. While some of the spoilage occurs in the field and during processing and transportation to supermarkets, the vast majority happens in refrigerators, where too many items end up languishing till they rot, at which point they get tossed in the trash.

Before that happens, learn to use your freezer as effectively as possible. It acts like a giant ‘pause’ button, preserving foods for later consumption. While it is recommended to eat frozen foods within three months, it doesn’t mean they will go bad; they may just require some flavor boosters to taste good. (via Love Food Hate Waste)

Did you know you can freeze almost anything? This was news to me. I used to think there were clear rules about what should go into the freezer and what should not. It turns out, that’s not the case. You can throw any of these items into a freezer bag, but there are also different directions included if freezing in plastic isn't something that you are fond of.

Here are some foods that you probably never knew were great for freezing:

Mushrooms: Brush off any dirt, trim the bottoms, and slice thinly. Lay on a baking sheet in single layer, freeze for 2 hours, then transfer to airtight container.

Avocados: Cut in half, remove stone, and freeze in airtight container. Or scoop out flesh, mash with a bit of lemon or lime juice, and freeze for nearly-ready guacamole.

Coffee: Don’t dump it down the drain! Pour into an ice cube tray until frozen solid, then transfer to an airtight container or glass jar. Thaw out small quantities for baking or to boost iced coffee when the weather warms up.

Wine: Got some leftover dregs in a bottle that’s been sitting on the counter too long? Freeze in an ice cube tray, then transfer to a container. Use for cooking.

Eggs: You can freeze eggs as long as you beat them or separate the whites and yolks into separate containers. Read Melissa’s more detailed directions here.

Fresh herbs: Some weeks it’s hard to use up an entire bunch of cilantro or parsley before it starts turning black and slimy. Finely chop and freeze as-is, mixed with olive oil in an ice cube tray, or blended into pesto. The same goes for fresh ginger. If using fresh basil, you must blanch for 1 min before chopping and freezing. The plain, fresh herbs need to be thawed before using, but the olive oil cubes can get tossed in a pan or pot of soup/stew.

Garlic: Peel fresh garlic cloves and freeze whole in an airtight container. It’s actually easier to chop (less sticky) when still partially frozen.

Potatoes: Mashed potatoes freeze best, but you can also freeze potatoes that have boiled for 5 minutes, then toss them in a baking pan to roast once removed from the freezer.

Milk: You can freeze cartons, jugs, and the plastic bags in which milk is sold in Canada. Alternatively, pour into an ice cube tray and transfer cubes to a container once solid. Same goes for cream, buttermilk, and yogurt.

Chips: Don’t let a bag of chips go stale. Pop it in the freezer and let defrost for a few minutes before eating.

Organic and/or natural nut butters: If you’ve stocked up because of a sale, store in the freezer if you won’t be eating it within a couple months. You can also freeze opened jars of nut butter.

Cooked pasta and rice: Freeze leftovers in an airtight container, defrost, and reheat with a few tablespoons of water. Alternatively, you can place the frozen pasta in a colander and pour boiling water over to thaw and heat simultaneously. Add sauce and you’re ready to go. It’s also possible to partially cook arborio rice, freeze, and then continue cooking later to make risotto.

Diced onion and celery: Freeze chopped fresh onions and celery in small portions to make easy additions to soups and curries. They will require some extra browning time to get rid of additional moisture.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Products and Gadgets that make eating healthier a little bit more fun.

You don't NEED any of these products to eat healthy, but some times, a fun little toy can make it a lot of fun.  

1. A SPIRALIZER, to turn vegetables into pasta.

To be clear: Vegetables are not pasta. BUT, an al dente parsnip noodle slathered in a flavorful sauce (like the parsnip spaghetti all’amatriciana, above) is a pretty acceptable occasional compromise. Available here ($29.95).

2. A PORTION CONTROL PASTA BASKET, for nights when you just need pasta but don’t want to go overboard.

Pasta gets a bad rap, but it can be a pretty great canvas for vegetables and a little meat or cheese, like in this basil pesto pasta with roasted vegetables (above). Available here ($8.47).

3. A grown-up LUNCH BOX, for packing healthy food to go.

A good lunch box will make it easier — and, let’s be honest, more exciting — to actually bring healthy food to work. Get the lunch box here ($19.95), then check outNom Nom Paleo’s series of healthy lunches.

4. A BIG SET OF AIRTIGHT CONTAINERS, for prepping meals ahead of time.

Here’s a basic menu and how-to guide for prepping five weeknight meals on a Sunday, but really, the possibilities are endless. Make a big batch of vegetables, whole grains, and protein, then divvy it all up into containers and just grab-and-go all week. Available here ($11.99).

5. A set of FOOD HUGGERS, for keeping produce fresh after you’ve cut into it.

Just because you don’t want to put the whole cucumber in your salad doesn’t mean it should go to waste. Plus, this way you can keep lemons and limes on hand to juice over everything and make food taste fresher. Available here ($13.95).

6. An OIL-MISTER, for controlled and even distribution of oil on your salads and vegetable sides.

Because eating five dry lettuce leaves and then getting one that’s DRENCHED in fat is the actual worst. Available here ($45.86).

7. A SLOW COOKER, for cooking big batches of meat and/or vegetables with zero effort.

The possibilities are endless: you can slow-cook a whole chickenroast a bunch of vegetables, or make a veggie-filled soup (above). Available here ($49).

8. A NUTRIBULLET, for smoothies and so much more.

Smoothies are an obvious choice for anyone trying to eat healthier; they’re filled with nutrients and easy to take on the go. But, invest in a great blender — get the NutriBullet here — and you can turn fruits and vegetables into all kinds of fun foods, like this chocolate-chia pudding (above).

9. A FOOD PROCESSOR, for literally everything. (But especially for turning bananas into ice cream.)

A FOOD PROCESSOR, for literally everything. (But especially for turning bananas into ice cream.)
Christine Byrne / BuzzFeed
If you’re not looking to make huge batches, the seveb-cup food processor (shown above) will do just fine, and you can get it here ($99.95). If you’re feeding lots of people and want to make things in bigger batches, a 14-cup food processor (available here for $199) might be a better choice.

10. A STEAMER BASKET, for cooking vegetables or fish without adding any extra fat.

A STEAMER BASKET, for cooking vegetables or fish without adding any extra fat.
It’s easier than blanching or boiling them, and the steamer basket will store easily in a tiny kitchen. Here’s how to steam vegetables, but you should know that you can also steam other things, like fish. Available here ($13.99).

11. A MANDOLINE, for easy slicing, and for making healthier vegetable chips.

All you do is pick a blade — you can make long, wide slices, or slice matchsticks into chips, like the salt-and-vinegar zucchini chips pictured above, or toss them into salads or stir-fries.

12. A TEA INFUSER so cute, it might make you excited to drink tea instead of booze on weeknights.

I mean, maybe. Here’s a deep-sea diver, if that’s your thing. Or, a teeny-tiny umbrella.

13. An organic NONSTICK PAN, for cooking eggs without any fat.

Nonstick pans are great for eggs, and eggs are great for YOU! Available here($27.80).

14. A SODA STREAM, for making your own seltzer.

A SODA STREAM, for making your own seltzer.
If you like seltzer better than flat water, being able to make it yourself means you’ll drink more, which is A GOOD THING. Available here

15. A FOOD SCALE, for perfect portion control (and better baking).

A FOOD SCALE, for perfect portion control (and better baking).
Counting calories and/or macros isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in trying it,here’s what you need to know. Either way, measuring your food on occasion can be a good way to gauge how much you’re eating and learn about portion control. Get a simple food scale here ($19.95).