Archive | January, 2013

Quick Chocolate Treat

30 Jan

I admit, I have a HUGE sweet tooth…probably sweet teeth!  However, I also know that eating sugar is not healthy.  There’s been plenty of information lately about sugar and its ties to obesity–too many calories in and not enough out leads to excess energy in storage which equals fat.  But, sometimes a little treat is worth some extra exercise. (Here’s an article about different types of sugar cravings.  Which one or more do you get?)

Customizable Chocolate Treat

Melted coconut oil

Cocoa (unsweetened highest quality you can get)

Grade B Maple syrup or raw honey

Mix-Ins such as dried fruit, chopped soaked and dried nuts and/or seeds, nut/seed butters, ginger, cinnamon, get creative

Stir the melted coconut oil, cocoa, and maple syrup together. (I know there are no measurements here.  You can start small by doing a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, cocoa to taste, and a couple of teaspoons of sweetener.  You want a liquidy and pourable consistency.)

Give it a quick taste and adjust if necessary.

If you want just chocolate, skip the mix ins and go to the next step.  Stir in your desired mix ins.  (Today, Penelope and I used dried cranberries and some walnuts.)

Pour the mixture (or enjoy now)  on to some wax paper laid on a plate or small cookie sheet.

Place the chocolate in to the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden.

Remove from freezer and break in to pieces.


Other combinations that taste great are apricots and almonds, cinnamon and cherries, cherries and pistachios, walnuts and finely diced ginger.


Nutrition from the Beginning

23 Jan

This semester has started so I thought it appropriate to start at the beginning of nutrition.  Hippocrates was the first to realize the important role diet plays in our bodies and how diet affects health.  Since this knowledge discovered in 400BC, the study of nutrition has become one of the “most talked about scientific disciplines.”*  A person’s body works best when the proper amounts of nutrients are consumed.  Nutrients are in food and are carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water.  The body can create some of the nutrients it needs, for example Vitamin D, but there are 40 essential nutrients that the body can not make and therefore they must be eaten in order for the body to have them.  Are you beginning to realize the importance of a well-balanced and healthy diet?

I recently challenged you to increase your daily steps.  How are you doing with that?  I know that several areas of the country are freezing right now with the coldest temps in 2-3 years, but we all need to get moving–it’ll help you warm up! 🙂

*Boyle, Marie A., Personal Nutrition 8th edition. 2010.

Paradigm Shift

16 Jan

Today I have for you 2 quick reads that will hopefully shift your paradigm.  The first states that sitting is the new smoking.  Smoking used to be the cool thing, the thing that nearly everyone did, the thing that leads to cancer, heart disease, strokes, and more.  Guess what…sitting, especially the way we Americans are so sedentary, leads us down the same exact path as smoking.  Check out the article.  It is pretty interesting and is a fairly quick read.  It also gives an idea for walking meetings.  Thank you to my husband for passing the article along to me.

The second read–shorter than the first one, but still quite important and paradigm shifting–is about 13 ingredients found in American foods that have been banned in other countries.  The article is short, but has links throughout it leading you to more information.  Some of the ingredients are food colorings, potassium bromate (this one is a tricky one because when we read the labels we think potassium is healthy for us!), and arsenic.  Though arsenic is not printed on food labels, it is in there.

The Flu and Maintaining Health

11 Jan

There’s quite a bit of talk about how bad the flu is this year.  Everywhere you go you hear people talking about the flu and the flu vaccine.  I urge you to make sure you make an informed decision prior to getting the flu vaccine.  Getting sick is no fun, but getting sick usually is not the end either.  Here are some pretty informative sites regarding the flu vaccine: Food Babe, Real Food Forager, and this one about Tamiflu, and here’s an older article, but it has some good information.

Edited to add this timely article by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

If staying healthy and trying to prevent the flu either with or without the vaccine is high on your priority list, I suggest trying a few things.  First is apple cider vinegar tea.  I first saw this recipe posted by Catherine Slezinger, but have since seen it in many different places.  To make this tea you need 4 ingredients: Unpasteurized, raw apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg brand, it’s available in many stores), raw honey, cinnamon, and hot water.  This is a tea that you can customize to your liking, within reason–don’t add too much honey.  We like about 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, a half to 1 teaspoon raw honey, and a couple dashes of cinnamon all added in to a steaming hot mug of water.  Stir it up and enjoy daily.  Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits such as promoting a healthy immune system and boosting digestion.  Second, I recommend eating coconut oil.  Coconut oil is antiviral and antibacterial (and has a tremendous amount of other health benefits).  Coconut oil can be used in baking and cooking like butter.  One quick, easy, and delicious way to start eating more coconut oil is to melt some oil along with some cocoa, vanilla, dried fruit of choice, some chopped nuts, and either some maple syrup (invest in the real syrup, not Aunt Jemima!) or raw honey. Mix it all up, then spread it on some wax paper and chill it in the freezer.  You just made yourself a candy bar! 🙂  Another simple way to eat coconut oil is to use it to scramble your eggs or saute vegetables.  Lastly, increase the amount of organic vegetables and fruits you eat.  Have a smoothie, eat a salad, quickly saute some spinach or kale with some onion then serve along side an egg, enjoy kale chips.  There are many quick ways to eat more vegetables and fruit.  Fruits and vegetables have many nutrients that the body needs to maintain and regain health as well as fight inflammation.  A delicious smoothie that we’ve been enjoying lately is this Kick the Cough smoothie.  It is sweet with a bit of a kick.  The smoothie is made with pineapple (I buy it fresh, cut it up, and freeze it), orange juice, lemon juice, fresh ginger (buy a large ginger root and keep it in the freezer, just cut off what you need when you need it), apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and a dash or 2 of cayenne pepper.

Also, did you know that when you exercise in your target heart rate (getting that heart rate elevated while working out) for 30-60 minutes your immune system gets a 3 hour natural boost?  Pretty awesome!

Let’s Get Moving

9 Jan

Did you know that 17% of children are obese?  That percentage is equal to about 12.5 million children aged 2-19 who are not just overweight, but who are obese.  The health issues related to being overweight and obese are many.  Some examples are joint pain, breathing problems, and cardiovascular disease. What child wants to deal with these issues?  What adult wants to live with these problems?  There are several factors that play in to how a person becomes overweight and obese, but two main causes are diet and exercise.  While diet is extremely important, so is physical activity.  One initiative to help get people moving is the 10,000 steps a day movement.  Ten thousand steps sounds daunting, but is equal to about 5 miles.  For adults, there are about 2,000 steps taken in each mile.  By parking a little further away, taking the stairs, walking to check the mail, and other small changes in our daily routine, we can increase the number of steps we take each day.  Cutting back on our sedentary lifestyle can increase our health and well-being.  So, today I challenge you to take 100 extra steps.  I think you’ll find that challenge one that will be easy to accomplish even if you have a desk job or stay at home.  For the next week, focus on increasing your step count (even without a pedometer) that extra 100 steps each day.  By the end of the week, think about how you feel.  Can you up your steps another 100 next week?

Altering Recipes

8 Jan

There are so many wonderful recipes out there!  Good news for those with food intollerances or allergies, many recipes can be altered some to fit your needs.  For example, the blog, Our Best Bites, often has some pretty delicious sounding and looking recipes but many times the ingredient list contains items that don’t work for my family–gluten and dairy.  Tonight’s dinner calls for some butter.  Instead of butter I can use either ghee (I buy this one at Whole Foods) or coconut oil.  Ghee is clarified butter.  Yes, it is lactose and casein free and therefore safe for those who need to be dairy free.  Ghee has a rich flavor and can be used in place of butter.  However, I choose not to bake with it because it is expensive.  I use it more to saute vegetables or to add a little bit to savory dishes.  When I bake I use coconut oil.  For tonight’s dinner, I will add some ghee because it will enhance the rich flavor of the bean dish.

For recipes that call for flour, doing direct substitutions can be tricky depending on the recipe and what is being used as the substitute.  If I’m making a roux or just need a tablespoon or so of flour, I will use either a rice or sorghum flour.  For baked goods I’ve been using coconut flour and almond flour much more.  With that said, know that you can NOT just substitute one of these flours in a gluten based recipe.  Most likely you would be very unhappy at the results.

If you have a favorite recipe that you are trying to convert but would like some help, I’d be happy to take a look at it for you.


7 Jan

Nutritive Wellness is where I share with you all the cool things I’m learning along the path toward becoming a dietitian/nutritionist.  Because several people know that I’m back in school (getting my second degree about a decade after the first one in elementary education) and that I have a complete over the top crazy passion for nutrition, I get asked many different questions, but lately a common one is, “How do I get started?”  Well, there are 2 approaches you could take.  One is all in and the other is baby steps.  Both methods have their benefits and I personally have used both methods for various reasons.  Last year, I quit eating gluten.  I went cold turkey on New Year’s day.  It wasn’t even really planned.  I just thought I’d give it a shot since I had read so much about the effect gluten has on the body.  Our second son had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease a couple of years prior and about the same time our oldest son was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy.  The kids had been both gluten and dairy free for about a year, so I thought I’d give it a try too…at least the gluten free part.  So that has been my all in method.  My baby steps method has been used to increase our vegetables and decrease sugar consumption.  More on each of these soon.  So, while I get this site up and running with more and more information, check out the different pages, leave me a comment or two, introduce yourself, and feel free to ask any questions.  I love to talk food and nutrition!