Category Archives: Healthy Living

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes are abundant during these cold winter months. They’re naturally very flavorful and extremely rich in vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, B6, as well as Calcium, Iron, Maganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Fiber and Beta-Carotene). Check out these links to find out the nutritional fact details about sweet potatoes:

Want a tasty recipe for sweet potatoes that’s so easy it’s barely a recipe and it’ll give you your fix for french fries?
By Maria’s request here the recipe for the Sweet Potato Fries that has become a default recipe for me when I don’t know what to make. Thanks to my Aunt Ronda who showed me how to make these several years ago!

4 sweet potatoes (I generally make the equivalent of 1 sweet potato per person partaking)
*Health Tip: Leave the skins on to get more of the nutrients.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil enough to drizzle
*Health Tip: Consuming sweet potatoes with fat (as from EVOO) actually helps your body to absorb more of the Beta-Carotene
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice sweet potatoes into long thin french fry shapes (about 1/4″ to 1/2″ in thickness). Try to keep the thickness of each piece as similar as possible to ensure they cook at the same rate.
3. Place sweet potato fries onto large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil (add a little at a time, just enough to slightly coat each piece). Salt and Pepper to taste.
4. Toss sweet potato fries to coat evenly.
5. Spread sweet potato fries so the baking sheet has a single layer of fries. (You may need to use more than one baking sheet to fit them all, so they’re a single layer).
6. Bake in oven 10 to 15 minutes. Remove. Using a spatula flip the fries over.
7. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and test with a fork to see if they are tender. Serve and enjoy!
(especially good with Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup)

*I’ve found, depending upon how evenly your oven cooks, how accurate the oven temperature, and how thick the fries the length of time to cook can varry from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Make it the first time checking often. The second time you’ll know exactly the length of time to cook for your oven.

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 6

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 6

Here’s Your Final Tip #6: Stress Less, Sleep More

Let’s address the first issue: Stress. People who don’t manage stress in their lives well can get physically ill from it. Various studies have shown that chronic, unmanaged stress runs down the immune system by reducing the number of your body’s fighting cells. Stress can manifest itself physically in the form of a common cold, acne, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, etc. So, build your immune system by finding healthy ways to manage your stress. Check out this great list of 10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress from Reader’s Digest:

Other sources about stress related to illness:

How does sleeping more affect your body? A recent study shows that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are three times more likely to catch a common cold than people who sleep at least 8 hours a night. Being sleep deprived causes your body’s fighting cells to drop in numbers, allowing it to be more susceptible to infection. This same study shows that its not just about the quantity of sleep but the quality as well. So, turn off the TV early tonight and catch some extra zzzzs!

Sources about sleep related to illness:

Ask Away: Low Carb Soup

Ask Away: Low Carb Soup

In my “Ask Away” post earlier this week, Peggy from Texas asked for a soup or stew recipe that is low in carbs. I have to admit that with all my dietary restrictions I eat a lot of carbs from beans, potatoes, corn, rice, etc. So, this stumped me at first. I read up a little on low carb diets. So, here’s some really basic info on low carb diets and then a recipe per Peggy’s request.

What is a low carb diet?
A low carb diet generally allows anywhere from 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day. Low carb diets include South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, the Zone, Suzanne Summers, and Protein Power. Each of these diets varies in the amount of carbs they allow with Atkins allowing less than 20 grams and the Zone allowing up to 30% of your daily caloric intake to be from carbs.

How a low carb diet works?
I found this great explanation of how the low carb diet works at,
“When a high-carbohydrate meal is consumed, the increased blood sugar stimulates insulin production by the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone that allows blood sugar to be used by the cells. However, a side effect of insulin is that it causes fat to be deposited, and it stimulates the brain to produce hunger signals. As a result more carbohydrates are consumed, and the cycle repeats.”

Low Carb Soup Recipe: Beef Vegetable Soup
I have to admit I haven’t personally tried this recipe yet, but it really sounds great! Peggy from Texas, hope this is a great solution for warm, comfort food that follows your diet plan! Recipe source

2 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. brown (crimini) mushrooms, chopped medium
3 medium stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce (GF soy sauce is available)
3 cups diced celery root (celeriac) – about ½ inch dice or a little smaller (hearty alternative to potatoes)
5 cups beef broth (look for GF, low sodium option)
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped leftover beef brisket, pot roast, sirloin tips, chuck, etc.
1 packet unflavored gelatin
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
chopped chives (optional)
1. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside to cool.
2. Cook onion in bacon drippings until soft and beginning to brown. Add mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms have shrunk in size and lost most of their water. Add celery, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Make a space in the center of the pan, and add garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant (don’t let it brown). about one minute. Add tomato paste and stir well.
4. Add wine to pan and cook for a minute or two, stirring to get any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
5. Add soy sauce, celery root, broth, pepper, pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring soup to a simmer and cook until celery root is tender, about 15 minutes.
6. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Add the beef to the soup and bring the soup back up to a simmer for five minutes.
7. While soup is simmering, chop cooked bacon, and sprinkle geletin into half a cup of cold water.
8. Turn off heat, remove bay leaves from soup, stir in gelatin and parsley.
9. Serve with a garnish of chopped bacon, and, if desired, chopped chives.

Recipe yields about 10 one-cup servings. I suggest freezing in individual serving portions for a quick heat up meal.
Nutritional Information: Each serving has 7 grams effective carbohydrate plus 2 grams fiber, 16 grams protein, and 162 calories.

A Healthy Recipe the Guys Will Love

A Healthy Recipe the Guys Will Love

A Healthy Recipe the Guys Will Love: Roasted Chicken with Chimichurri Rub

I’ve been asked over the last few days about how to get picky eaters to eat healthy food. So, here is a recipe your guy or kids (or whoever your picky eater is) will love.

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart and made it last night for dinner. As you can see my hubby Matt (in the black shirt) and our friend Matt loved it. They just finished an intense hour and a half work out session, so a hearty meal was a must (no rabbit food for these guys). With a few ingredients this recipe makes a deliciously healthy, yet hearty meal.

Here’s how to make it!

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds) cut into 10 pieces (if anyone needs a demo on how to butcher a whole chicken into pieces let me know and I’ll do a post)
1 recipe Chimichurri (see below)
coarse salt and ground pepper

Chimichurri Rub:
In a food processor (if you try it in a blender, you’ll need to add more liquid and chop ingredients first), combine 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar, 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems removed, and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Process until finely chopped, 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. Makes 3/4 cup.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and coat all over with herb rub and salt and pepper. I pulled the skin back on each piece and put salt, pepper, and the rub under the skin, as well as on the outside of the skin. Roast, skin side up, until chicken is cooked through, 35 minutes. Enjoy!

Cut calories option: Save calories by removing the chicken skin before you eat it.

Serve with: I served the Roasted Chicken with Chimicurri Rub with Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Sauteed Brussel Sprouts. Recipes for these to follow in upcoming posts. And yes the guys even downed the brussel sprouts!

*Recipe from Everyday Food: A Martha Stewart Magazine, January/February 2011 Edition

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 3

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 3

Here’s Tip #3: Irrigate

Whether caused by a cold, allergies, or a temperamental immune system sinus issues are not only annoying but painful. Other than a nasal decongestant, what can clear your sinuses?

Nasal rinses, like “the netti pot” have been a sinus saver for many. A saline and purified water sinus rinse cleanses the sinus cavities of mucus and bacteria, while moisturizing which is especially perfect during dry weather months.

Yep, its a little tea pot for your nose. You pour the saline solution into one nostril and tilt your head over the sink so that gravity allows the solution to come out the other. You can buy a kit at the drug store that has the netti pot and packages of the solution included. Follow the instructions on the package.

If your nose is totally clogged, like at the worst stage of a cold, it may not be the best option as it may not go through. But, the netti pot can clear runny noses, relieve sinus headaches, and prevent colds.

Believe me, I was a total skeptic when I first heard of it too. I just thought the idea of salt water going up my nose cannot be natural. The first time I tried the netti pot I have to admit that it felt a little strange. But, I now use it all the time. It gets rid of nasal congestion that is present even when you don’t have a runny nose…you know the kind that just causes sinus headaches or your eyes to feel like they want to close.

I’ve recommended the netti pot to friends who said they could never use it and now they use it all the time, so give it a try!

Ask Away!

Ask Away!

I want to know what my readers want to know more about.

Did you just find out that you have to follow a restricted diet and don’t know where to start?

Did you find an interesting food in the grocery and don’t know what to cook with it?

Do you have a special event coming up and don’t know what food to make for it?

Do you have some random stuff at home that you’ve been wanting to turn into home decor but don’t know where to start?

Did you find a crazy object at the thrift store you just had to buy but have no idea what to do with it?

Let me know! I’d love to post answering your question!

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 2

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 2

Here’s Tip #2: Drink

Fill up your glass at least 8 times a day with water to keep your body hydrated and flush your system, but go the European way and forget the ice. Downing cold liquids requires your body to exert energy to restore itself to its warmer temperature and also tightens the sinus cavities. So try room temperature water or warm herbal, roobios, or green teas. Drink to your health!

Closer Look: Kale

Closer Look: Kale

The seasonal veggie in the lasagna recipe posted yesterday is kale. Here’s a Closer Look at this veggie you may never have used.

What is it?
Kale is a leafy green grown in cooler temperatures, which make it abundant and affordable in most grocery stores during winter months. A cabbage relative, kale is easily identified by its very ruffled leaves. The younger leaves can be chopped into salads and eaten raw. But more commonly, kale is taken off the stalks, chopped, and cooked (sauteed, roasted, fried, grilled, steamed).

What’s in it?
Kale is a nutritionally loaded veggie that’s rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, vitamin K, folic acid, magnesium, and protein. Its a great source of calcium for those of us who don’t eat dairy products. It can be used in place of cooked spinach in most recipes.

How to get picky eaters to try it?
So whether its kids or a picky spouse you need to convince to try it, start with a recipe that uses kale but is familiar. I suggest to start with the recipe posted yesterday for the Sausage and Kale Lasagna. Lasagna is something that most people like and are familiar with. Try making the recipe and not even mentioning that there is kale in it. There are so many other flavors in the recipe (from the sausage, tomatoes, and cheese), your picky eater may not even care about the green stuff in there.

Hope you’ll try kale and love it. Who knows, it could become a green you love and use time and time again!

Lasagna with Sausage and Kale

Lasagna with Sausage and Kale

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart and was able to adapt it to fit my dietary restrictions. Its warm and hearty, a meal in one dish, and it incorporates Kale (a winter green with tons of great nutrients to ward off winter illnesses). Enjoy!

12 oz GF spicy Italian Sausage, removed casings and crumbled (Grocery source: Whole Foods, or I found some this week at Walmart)
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (if onions are large, use a little less than 2)
1 bunch (1 1/2 pounds) Kale, thick stems removed
4 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 oz (about 9 noodles) GF lasagna noodles (for GF noodles follow package instructions. GF brands to look for are De Boles and Tinkyada. They can be found in most grocery stores that have a GF section.)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 bag dairy free, casein free, GF shredded mozarella style cheese that melts (The best one I’ve found thus far is Daiya found at Whole Foods. If you can eat casein, Rice Cheeze, also found at Whole Foods is a great choice.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 5 quart pot, cook sausage over medium heat, stir often, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in onions; cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

2. Add Kale and 1/2 cup water to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until tender 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and then coarsely chop. Transfer to bowl with onions and stir in tomatoes, seasoning with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

3. Meanwhile, cook noodles 2 minutes less than package instructions (some GF brands instruct to not cook before putting into lasagna, so make sure to check). Drain and rinse under cold water.

4. Layer a third of the mixture into bottom of pan, then add noodle layer, then mixture layer, then noddles, then mixture on top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly delicious, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!