Posts Tagged ‘18 Reasons’

Last week I led a lovely group in a herb & spice workshop at 18 Reasons and aside from making some delicious dishes with cumin ( a favorite spice) we also talked about the health properties of various spices.

Culinary herbs and spices are the grandparents of the “food as medicine” movement and have been used for thousands of years, not only to add flavor to foods but also to prevent illness and keep food safe from bacteria.

Did you know…

Adding cinnamon to your oatmeal, coffee or cous-cous can help control blood sugar and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Turmeric also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which helps protect against cardiovascular disease and can even help prevent blood clots.

Mint really does help with indigestion, even folks with IBS, as it helps relax your smooth stomach muscles.

Basil (a member of the mint family) also helps with indigestion and symptoms such as diarrhea and gas.

Rosemary is an anti-oxidant (cancer protective) and also an antibacterial so makes for a great meat marinade.

Getting in the habit of using more fresh and dried spices will also displace the need to flavor with salt or need loads of fat or sugar to make the dish flavorful.

Tip: You get a more potent flavor and health benefits if you buy spices like Cumin seed, Coriander seeds, Dill seed,Fennel seed and Fenugreek seeds in their whole form and grind them (use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) right before using.

teaching a workshop on spices & health

Read Full Post »

Taught a great class last night at 18 Reasons about healthy meal planning and I wanted to share some key tips with all of you…

Tips for Healthy Meal Planning
•    Look ahead for extra-busy days and plan something quick for those days
•    During the week, plan simpler meals: one-pot meals, broiled or roasted meats, steamed vegetables, salads, fresh fruit desserts. Save sauces and multi-step meals for weekends.
•    Have a cook swap with your friends/co-workers or make cooking a meal together the fun activity you do one night (with a glass of wine?)
Efficiency tricks:
o    Read ahead in the recipe- so you can plot out what to be cutting while oven pre-heats, or chop 1 Cup of carrots when two recipes each call for ½ Cup.
o    Brown extra ground beef for dinner to use in another dish, like tacos, later in the week.
o    Cook two more chicken breasts and then cut some up for another meal such as stir-fry with vegetables and brown rice. Freeze or Refrigerate.
o    Cook extra rice, put it into a container, and refrigerate or freeze. On a busy night, microwave it, stirring occasionally, until heated through, then use as you would fresh.
o    Chop a whole onion or several cloves of garlic, even if you only need part of it right now. Store the rest for another meal.
o    Grate extra cheese and store it in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer.

3 Day Sample Menu for 2 people:
Night before- leave 7 Cups White Beans out to soak
Day 1
Bfast- Make big batch of oatmeal (2C), serve ½ C each with nuts & fruit, refrigerate 1 C
Lunch- Salad (pre-washed) with canned fish/beans, veggies, WW crackers
Dinner- Make big pot of simple white beans (7C), save bean liquid (1 C for bean dip),set aside 4 Cups to make Kale/Sausage/Bean Ragout (7C) (Recipe to come this week), Enjoy Ragout (3.5 C). Refrigerate the rest of the beans (2 C) and Ragout leftovers (aprox 3.5 C left). Cut up raw veggies enough for 2 days and put in ziplock baggies.
Day 2
Bfast- ½ C each Oatmeal from Day 1 w freshly added fruit & nuts
Lunch- Leftover Ragout (1 ¾ C each), side of cut up raw carrots & celery (“Crudite”)
Dinner- Make big pot of brown rice (4 C), serve 2 C of it with protein (fish, chicken, tofu etc), steamed veggies (fresh or frozen). Set aside 2 portions of protein. Make a rice  salad (try this one) with leftover 2 C rice. Blend remaining White Beans (2 C) with olive oil, lemon, parsley to make dip/spread for crudite or sandwich filling
Day 3
Bfast- WW Toast, nut butter, piece of fruit
Lunch- 2C Rice Salad, leftover protein on top, with Crudite and Bean dip
Dinner- Make a big pot(~14C) of Lentil stew (try this one), serve 2 C each w pre-washed salad, crusty WW bread.  Reserve 2 C for tomorrow’s lunch w sandwich, Freeze 4 Cups for future.

Menu Planning Resources:
www.simpleskillet.com (weekly menus- including budget, kid freindly,low carb, diabetic, vegetarian- plus shopping list)
www.eatingwell.com (28 Day diet meal plans at 1200, 1500 and 1800 kcals or customizable plans)
www.rachelraymag.com (weekly menu + shopping list)

www.familyeats.net (local Bay Area mom cooking healthy for her family of four, weekly menu+ shopping list)
www.myfoodmyhealth.com (specializes in health conditions and food allergies)
www.mealeasy.com (health conditions etc)

Here is a Weekly Meal Planner to fill out.  Feeling intimidated? No need to fill out the whole thing, just start with a few days or even just dinners. Give it a try!

Let me know of any time saving tricks you use, recipe/meal planning sites you love or just give a shout-out if you support planning to cook more for fun and health.

Have to chop garlic? Chop enough for several recipes and refridgerate


Read Full Post »

So you wouldn’t think that on my health and nutrition blog I would be writing about mixing up my own hooch! But since the key with drinking alcohol is moderation, what better way to be moderate than to work hard at making your own hand-crafted booze and then not want to drink too much because you don’t know when you will get to making more again.  At least that was my perspective when I signed Adam and I up for an ”Infusions & Liqueurs” class at 18 reasons (an awesome local non-profit “engaging the community through art and food”).  I was also into the idea that when making your own magical mixes you can skip the HFCS (found in most syrups like grenadine) and control the amount of sugar that suits you best.  Plus cool points with your friends when you can offer them unbranded bathtub gin from a bottle and the possibility we could get really get into it and make holiday gifts-bring it on!
The class was full of other eager students and our maestro Sean from Punk Domestics was able to keep things light and fun but also impart pearls of wisdom (like the best way to get seeds out of a pomegranate- score, split open, release seeds under water!) and keep us on task.  Each group tackled a different recipe and we were pleased to make the Pomegranate Liqueur, especially since I am a huge fan of Pomegranates.

Pomegranates are an ancient fruit that are grown all over the world (Asia, Middle East, Mediterranean, California) and are known for their high antioxidant content as well as Vitamin C.  They contain several types of antioxidants, including the polyphenol variety, which are considered to be helpful with heart disease and preventing cancer.

To make the liqueur we took the seeds from 3 small pomegranates and then pulsed them in a food processor to extract the juice.  The juice and pulp mush then got vodka added to the jar with lemon zest but would need to sit and steep for at least 2 weeks.  Sean had kindly brought us the steeped version of what we had just created and we were able to go on to the next step….straining.  After making an X shape with two strips of cheese cloth in a big funnel device (big metal gadget= cool!) we poured the mush ‘n juice through the cloth and collected just the liquid.  Since this liquid was still a bit cloudy, we then did a second straining, this time through a paper coffee filter.  Et viola, we had our pomegranate base. The last step was to add our homemade simple syrup (sugar and water heated then cooled) and put a stopper on our bottle.  So easy!

During all this fun we were able to taste samples of what the other groups were making….Gin (who knew this was just Vodka + Secret Ingredients like Juniper berries), Loquat, Pluot and Quince Liqueur (I felt very fancy typing that), Spiced Rum and another personal favorite, Pompelmocello (like Lemoncello but with Grapefruits).  Hic…all the tasting was delicious.

Seeds in water, non-seed stuff ("pith") floats to top

We got to go home with about 8 ounces of our goods (Adam chose Gin and I will be hoarding my Pomegranate Liqueur) and the evening certainly helped me appreciate cocktail hour in a whole new way.

zest of lemon

This is the Quince Liqueur (not our Pom stuff) but shows you cool metal gadget

Gin & Pomegranate Liqueur

For the Punk Domestics recipe for Pomegranate Liqueur click here.

Read Full Post »