Monthly Archives: September 2011

Healthier Birthdays

There have been several birthday celebrations around here lately…family (my son and my dad both have birthdays in September–it’s actually dad’s b-day today!) and friends (we’ve already had 4 school birthday parties).

That’s A LOT of sugar!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know my feelings towards the white stuff  🙂

But I don’t want to be a party pooper either!  So I’ve found ways to make celebrating birthdays a little healthier.

Since my son has a nut allergy, I bake a batch of cupcakes and freeze them, so I have one ready for these school birthdays that seem to be almost everyday!  The healthy part is that I put vegetables in them.  If you haven’t tried making a recipe from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious Cookbook, you should!  I make these chocolate cupcakes   to freeze and they’re a big hit (even though they have beets in them).  When he has a birthday party to go to, I pull one out of the freezer and make a quick ganache type frosting (just melt some chocolate chips and add a little warm cream and a splash of vanilla).  You should also try her brownies made with spinach and carrots–once the brownies are room temperature, no one will be able to taste the veggies!

Just switching from a box cake mix to a homemade recipe–made with real sugar and flour instead of things you can’t pronounce–will make the whole experience healthier.

And on days like today when my boys will be eating cake with my dad and then going to a school party afterwards, I make sure the other food they eat during the day is super nutritious. They had extra fruit this morning with their Sunbutter spoon (for protein) and oatmeal.  We’ll be eating carrots sticks and bell peppers as a snack. And there will be a plethora of vegetables at dinner tonight.  Plus I give them some antifungal supplements and make sure they’ve had their daily probiotic and vitamins.

I know sugar isn’t good for them.  But I also don’t want to deprive them so they go all nutty when they’re off to college and have the freedom to choose what they eat.  I hope in these next years that I’ll be able to pass on the knowledge that food can either be nourishing and medicinal, or it can slowly damage your body…and that they’ll make better choices later on.  

How do you celebrate birthdays? Any other ideas about making birthday healthier? I’d LOVE to hear them! 

Yummy Gluten-Free Cookies

WHAT??  But cookies have sugar!

Yes, but I’m also not perfect.  Sometimes I just want a little something chocolatey from my past life.  And I don’t eat entire boxes of cookies like I used to  🙂

So I buy these:

They are definitely not as cheap as Chips Ahoy, but they are gluten-free and made with organic quinoa flour, rice flour, quinoa grains, real sugar, natural vanilla extract…real food. Nothing that sounds like a chemical and is hard to pronounce.

And they are individually wrapped.  Much better for someone like me that has a tendency to sneak “just one more.”

There are several different flavors, but chocolate chip is my favorite.

If you’re looking for a gluten free treat and aren’t on a strict candida diet, these might be worth a look.

And no, I’m not being paid for this post. I just really like the product and think it’s a good company to support 🙂

How Do You Neutralize Too Much Raw Garlic?

Warning: I will probably offend many of my culinary school/foodie friends with this post. I apologize in advance…

I made the Cilantro Sauce  for the pork tenderloin my husband grilled last night.  For some reason (because it was Friday? First day of Fall? Because I was wearing a red sweater? Who knows.), I was in the more-is-better mood and ended up putting two big cloves of garlic into the sauce.

I usually love garlic and ALWAYS add more when I’m cooking. I forgot that that isn’t a great idea when it comes to raw garlic.

If I was battling any sinus issue or cold, just the small taste I took to test the flavors would have made those germs head for the hills.

At this point, a true chef would either a) start over or b) know some special culinary trick to neutralize the garlic.  (Who am I kidding, a true chef would never have made this mistake in the first place!)

I must have been really pondering this conundrum because both my kids came over and asked what I was doing (I guess I’m not usually found in the kitchen deep in thought…)

I decided to try Baking Soda. My logic was that it takes away strong odors in the frig, so maybe it would tame the beast in my blender.  I added 1/4 teaspoon (maybe slightly more)…and you know what?  IT WORKED!  The strong bite from the garlic was a little less intense and my husband never had a clue about the near debacle. (And it tasted fantastic in the scrambled eggs this morning!)

I’m sure I’ve committed some international cooking faux pas with this one. But I’m too stubborn to admit defeat 🙂

Do you know the right way (or a better way) to neutralize garlic? I would love to hear it!

Recipe: Shrimp Scampi

I have a rather unhealthy affection for butter.

And so I love making recipes that make the butter flavor SHINE. This is one of them:

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
6-10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup organic chicken broth
1 lb wild shrimp, raw, tail-on and deveined
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

Melt butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute (do not brown).  Add chicken broth and reduce by half.  Place shrimp in pan in a single layer and cook about 2 minutes per side or until pink. Turn off heat and add lemon juice and parsley. Serve over cooked quinoa. Makes 2 servings.

I didn’t have any fresh parsley, which is unfortunate because a) it just brightens up the dish and b) the dried parsley looks rather sad in the photo.

The butter/broth/garlic mixture melted down through the shrimp and gets the quinoa underneath all warm and yummy.

And best of all? It’s Phase 1  for those of you who are following that with me. Most scampi recipes call for a little white wine or vermouth, but I chose to leave it out, and didn’t really miss it 🙂

Do you have a favorite way to cook shrimp?

Remedy: Chronic Sinus Issues

When you get a sinus infection, do you run to the doctor for an antibiotic?

I used to…before healthy-minded Kim was born.

Now I know how to get rid of sinus problems myself, AND I know what things help them to develop.

Sinus infections are almost always fungal in nature, not bacterial, so an antibiotic won’t do anything to help it. In fact, it’ll make it worse since antibiotics help the fungus to grow…

Since 80% of your immune system is in your gut, it stands to reason that a healthier diet will boost your immune system. The Phase 1 diet is excellent to get rid of the bad stuff in your gut and improve immune function. So when I feel a tickle in my nose (or throat), I cut out the sugar and grains ASAP! (Chances are, the reason my sinus issue is flaring up is BECAUSE I’ve fallen off my diet wagon…eating sugar, etc. and my body is rebelling.)

The list below helps me alleviate symptoms, but if you are prone to these infection, you probably will want to address the root cause (fungus!):

  1. I drink LOTS of liquid–water, white or green tea (the only teas allowed on the Phase 1 diet) and chicken broth. (When you get dehydrated, the mucus gets super thick which makes sinuses feel really clogged.)
  2. I put 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water and drink the concoction quickly–another way to thin the mucus and ACV is antifungal. And if I need more relief, I’ll put about 1/4 cup of ACV in a big water bottle (16oz) and drink throughout the day.
  3. Use a hot compress on your sinuses (I wet a washcloth with the hottest water I can tolerate and place above and below my eyes to try to break up the mucus.)
  4. I take a good antifungal supplement several times a day–oil of oregano, olive leaf extract, etc.
  5. I go to sleep early. Everyone knows that sleep is restorative…I try going up an hour earlier than usual.
  6. The BEST nose spray I’ve found is made by Seagate. Since it’s made with antifungal ingredients, it is super potent. My husband and I use is, as do both my kids, especially in the winter months. [And no, I’m not getting paid to endorse Seagate…I just love their products!]

So those are some things I find helpful if my sinuses get all crazy.  I can usually get things back to normal within 24-48 hours…

I hope that some of these help you too!

What do you do when you feel a sinus infection coming on? Are you someone who runs to the doctor or tries something at home?

But Supplements and Eating Healthy Are Expensive…

This is one of the primary reasons people tell me they can’t “do what I do.” But have you looked at what is costs to be in a hospital these days? OUCH!

I am going to attempt to show you there are ways to make your healthy living experience more manageable…

Let’s start with food:  Buy things that don’t come in a box.

Sounds too simple, but think about it.  The actual cardboard box costs money, but so do the pretty pictures and catch phrases that were paid for with a big marketing budget (not to mention the commercials to get that favorite cereal/snack/pizza box in your line of vision). These costs are factored into the price YOU pay at the register.

And things that come in boxes are PROCESSED, many times with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Box-free=Healthier. (Exception: my boxes of quinoa from Trader Joes…those are healthy. I’m not fond of the loose bins where you can buy grains/nuts/spices…They are not emptied and cleaned out regularly and they aren’t all that sanitary either.)

So pick fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, meat, eggs, some cheese, etc…basically all the foods on the perimeter of the store. They are healthier and aren’t marked up like the prepackaged items. I daresay if you do your “normal” shopping trip for the week and one with just these items, you’ll pay about the same.  The only big difference is that you won’t have snack foods for the late night munchies 🙂

If Whole Foods (or as many call it “Whole Paycheck”) is out of your league for everyday shopping (join the club!), try Trader Joes. My little sister, Megan, is a fellow blogger and pretty much talks about TJ like it’s a person, one of her favorite people 🙂 They have organic fruits and veggies (a package of organic carrots is .89), grass-fed beef (5.99/lb) and organic free range chicken and eggs, at a fraction of the price of WF.

And I don’t eat out very much. Not only are restaurants marking up their prices on the food because of the exquisite recipes and delightful ambiance, but they aren’t usually using the quality of food that I eat at home (read: grass-fed, organic, etc.) A dinner out with my husband or a night of take out usually equals a weeks worth of groceries at Trader Joes. I’m a math tutor, so I know which one makes more sense!

As for vitamins and supplements:

  • Online prices are usually much lower than store prices, so use sites like RetailMeNot.com to see if there are any discount codes for the stores that sell your supplements
  • Get the App “Scandit” and scan bar codes for your favorite supplements (or any product) and it’ll tell you where to find it for the cheapest price (I use this one for kids’ toys too 🙂 [FREE]
  • Join the Vitamin Shoppe Healthy Rewards Club and get money back each year to spend in the store [FREE]
  • Join Ebates (I LOVE Ebates) which gives you a % cash back for shopping at 800+ stores (i.e. the Vitamin Shoppe is 6% back) and will tell you any discount/free shipping codes for each site (I’ve been a member for several years, and haven’t seen any downside or catch…just over $700 back so far!? But when the kids were little, I did almost all of my shopping online) ANYWAY, if you use this link, they’ll start you with $5 in your account (and give me $5 too 🙂 Everybody wins! [FREE]
  • Perhaps the wisest advice I can give is to do an assessment of the supplements and vitamins you’re currently taking (including ones you are thinking of adding to your regimen) and make sure you aren’t overlapping (which is not only expensive, but potentially hazardous to your health).  Many multi vitamins or “combo” vitamins will give you enough of your daily recommended allowance…except with Vitamin D. They usually only have 400IU and as you can see from an earlier post, this is a vitamin you don’t want to skimp on.

So besides these ideas, I’d like to plant another in your noggin: Prevention is usually easier (financially, emotionally and physically) than curing an ailment.   Wouldn’t you rather pay a little more for better quality foods and supplements that you know your body needs than wait for the ball to drop on your health sometime in the future? YOU are the only one that can take care of your health. Be proactive!

I’ll step down now from my soapbox 🙂 Happy shopping!

What’s your best tip for saving some $$ in your pursuit of good health?

I Wish the Government Would Stay Away From My “Medicine” Cabinet!

Sorry for the hiatus…my little guy had surgery on Friday and we were (kind of still are) knee-deep in recovery 🙂

When I resurfaced and checked email, I found this article from Dr. Mercola:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/13/fda-to-ban-new-supplements-and-classify-them-like-food-preservatives.aspx?e_cid=20110913_DNL_art_1

Apparently the FDA wants to ban supplements.

Personally, I don’t appreciate it when people I don’t know tell me what to do, especially when it comes to my health. And when I have successfully treated my ailments (including a biggie like asthma), I am not only scared that I won’t be able to take care of my health but worried/annoyed that others won’t have the same opportunity to help themselves to better health.

So, I’ve made my voice heard. I’ve contacted my local representatives and hope that many (many) others will as well.

There was a very similar scenario back in 1994.  The people rebelled and contacted their local officials and the FDA backed off. Until now.

Will you sit back and do nothing? Or spend 5 minutes contacting your representatives? At the end of the Mercola article, there is a link to find your representatives’ contact info, talking points and even an email template (although rumor has it calls and faxes make the most impact). Let’s work together and make them back down AGAIN!

If for no other reason, it’ll put a damper on this blog! Without supplements to test out, you’ll be reading 101 blog posts about different broccoli preparations 🙂