Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition

I gave a talk this morning at The Unitarian Universalist church of Pittsfield. It was part of a larger conversation about Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition. It was fun to partner up with the church administrator, Kas Maroney who offers strength training and other exercise classes. I will add an excerpt from the service for your reading pleasure.

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Mike Adams, author, investigative journalist and educator is quoted as saying

…“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” –

So how does nutrition contribute to having energy to do the things we like to do? Seems like a silly question doesn’t it. After all food and water are our life source, we all understand on some level that we can’t live without them. But it’s surprising how many people, including medical practitioners truly don’t consider the impact nutrition has on our health. When was the last time your doctor said “go home make a cup of tea (without sugar please) and vegetable barley soup and then go to bed early to catch up on your rest?” Rather we tend to believe and trust that there is a magic pill or medical procedure that can address whatever health issue arises. Therefore we don’t have to give much thought to how we eat and live our lives. In essence, we don’t have to take much responsibility in assuring we have good health because that’s someone else’s job.

We live in a society where the idea of health is that you reach a certain age and your health begins to fail. We expect to become ill throughout our lives with common ailments such as flu or cold and many of us grow up believing that due to our genetics we will develop whatever ailment has plagued our family of origin. The science to support this thinking is sketchy at times and often funded by pharmaceutical companies who are going to make killing on our fears. It has become our cultural or societal norm to be bombarded by advertisements for the next wonder drug and then we find ourselves calling our doctors to ask if it is right for us. The good news is there is a simpler, less dangerous solution that can in fact improve health and vitality at any age. The truth is nutrition and lifestyle have everything to do with how healthy we are regardless of our genetics.

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The student prepared feast at Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Leadership Program Level Ceremony!

The growing chatter out there about eating healthy whole foods or real foods for health can get a bit confusing, however. Go into any book store and you will find numerous books on the topic and some contradict the one you just read. That has more to do with competing interests than it does with good information. Many of these books offer good solid information that really needs to be considered if we are to reduce the growing health crisis we experience not only here in the United States with diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease, but now in many other regions of the world where diet has changed and moved away from the foods that were traditionally eaten.

Two of my favorite authors on the subject of healing through food include, Dr. Neal Barnard who I’ve eaten lunch with when he was visiting the Kushi Institute where I work part time, and Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lecture at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I am completing my studies as a health coach. These authors are among many authorities on gaining good health through diet. They have taken the time to learn and experience what a nutritious balanced diet can do for our overall good health. Dr. Barnard is the founder and president of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is one of the leading advocates of health, nutrition and higher standards in research. Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, is an award-winning leader in the field of natural health, and a highly sought-after lecturer and wellness consultant…. and she is funny. Colbin is Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet. They are both prolific writers and they speak the truth as is supported by good research. I think one of the best outlines written explaining good food and how to approach it was written by Dr. Colbin.

In her book, “Food and Healing” Anne Marie Colbin outlines seven criteria for food selection which I believe helps us really think about how to find the foods we need for good health and energy. I want to share an excerpt from the book that details these seven criteria. She starts with:

Whole: as nature provides them, with all their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin – if not waxed) cooked raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods Colbin says supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of the food.

Fresh, natural, real, organically grown: meaning not canned, not frozen, certainly not irradiated or genetically engineered, free from chemical additives, colorings or preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations (such as margarine or artificial sweeteners) which invariably turn out to have some health damaging effect. Organically grown foods not only have been proven to have higher nutrients, but also taste far superior to the commercially grown kind.

Seasonal: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a very good idea to choose summery foods in the summer, wintery foods in the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper and do not lose nutrients like foods that have been transported long distances. They also taste better. In addition seasonal eating means salads and fruit in the summer and soups and stews in the winter. On the whole, most people do eat this way instinctively. However, with the advent of refrigeration, freezer trucks, and worldwide transportation we can get raspberries in December and yams in July.  We also ignore this natural order when we go on restricted diets, such as raw food and juice regimes, which require us to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the winter or cooked salty macrobiotic meals in the summer. With these diets we go out of sync with our environment, and we might feel cold in the winter, or cranky and depressed in the summer.

Local: Local produce is fresher, tastes better and is more nutritious because it is picked riper and does not lose nutrients in travel. The best restaurants in the country have discovered this and make an effort to obtain the freshest organically grown local foods, which they consider top quality.

In Harmony with Tradition: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and incorporate those foods into our diet where ever possible, maybe with some modifications (less salt, less fat, less sugar) For example, our staple grain will taste more appropriate if our ancestors ate it as well – barley and oats from the British Iles, Rye and wheat from Europe, Kasha from Eastern Europe and Russia, millet, teff and sorghum from Africa, millet and rice from Asia, corn and quinoa from the Americas.

Balanced: It’s important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in our diet as a whole, and to pay attention to the expansive/contractive, acid/alkaline and the five phase theory system. For aesthetics it is also important to include foods with a variety of flavors, colors and textures.

 Delicious: There is no point in eating “healthy” food if it doesn’t taste good. Besides, our taste buds can guide us, when encountering whole, real natural foods, to what we need and what we don’t need …and we’d do well to listen.

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The movement toward eating better is now thought to include a return to what our ancestors ate meaning eating foods grown closer to home in more natural circumstances. It also means getting rid of the sugary processed foods that are killing us. What we are learning in the nutrition field is that the closer the food we eat is to its natural form the better it is for us. My new food mantra is “if it contains more than a couple ingredients it’s probably not good for me.” I shop the perimeter of a grocery store and at open air or farmer’s markets when possible. I read labels incessantly and in reducing my sugar and processed food intake have greatly improved my health. In my health coaching practice I begin by suggesting clients reduce or refrain from eating the following foods: sugar, white flour and other gluten products, animal proteins, processed foods, alcohol and tobacco and in some cases soy products. This simple starting point has assisted many others in achieving their health goals. Though the recommendations are simple the practice is not always so simple. We are used to sweet and salty foods that don’t necessarily taste like the food they mimic. So it is important to be patient with yourself and have someone in it with you who can support you to reach optimal health.

I close today with this quote from Hippocrates:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

                                           Be Well!

The Scoop on Sugar

Did you know that the average person eats 22 teaspoons of sugar per day! It’s a fact, and we aren’t just pouring those 22 teaspoons into our tea and coffee either. But, If we decide to have that Starbucks Frappucinno we are consuming a whopping 44 teaspoons of sugar kids…and that lemon poppy seed Clif bar has 21 teaspoons of sugar. For the record, a reasonable amount of sugar for us to consume daily if we are not diabetic is approximately 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

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Now that doesn’t mean you NEED to eat that sugar, it just means it is not likely to cause adverse health in the long run. Remember we are talking about added, refined sugars. It is wise to simply avoid all together the high fructose corn sugar as research shows that there is potential for non alcoholic liver damage from the over consumption of HFCS.

Children are at greater risk for adverse health, mood/emotion and behavior issues from overconsumption of sugars. AND the recommendation for daily consumption drops significantly for children. It’s only 3 teaspoons daily for children 4-8 years of age.

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If we look for it we can find sugar in the most surprising places, in foods we thought were healthy. Become a food detective and read the labels before purchasing that healthy cereal or energy bar. If it has an ingredient that ends in “ose” that is a sugar derivative and you want to just walk away from that product and head to the fresh fruit isle.

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So to recap, refined sugar and high fructose sugars are connected to food related health issues such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. There is no nutritional value in consuming them and there are healthier options. Why not start today to kick your sugar habit and find better healthier options.

Try this delightfully easy recipe for taming your sweet tooth:

 Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:

For the adzuki balls:

  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
  • 3/4  cup pecans
  • 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:

You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out before adding the remaining items.

  • 1 cup of selected topping
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:

Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

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If you’d like to learn more about how to detect the sugar in your diet and control the amount you consume go to my website and sign up for my free (this time only) lecture on May 10th at 1:00pm at The David and Joyce Milne Library in Williamstown, MA. http://milnelibrary.org/

Also follow my blog and check out my website: http://www.leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/ for healthier sweet options and free recipes. You can send me an email as well with questions or to sign up for one of my programs at kiraskitchen5@gmail.com.

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and the sharing of pleasures.”

Kahlil Gibran

Peace and Brightest Blessings

The Scoop on Sugar

Did you know that the average person eats 22 teaspoons of sugar per day! It’s a fact, and we aren’t just pouring those 22 teaspoons into our tea and coffee either. But, If we decide to have that Starbucks Frappucinno we are consuming a whopping 44 teaspoons of sugar kids…and that lemon poppy seed Clif bar has 21 teaspoons of sugar. For the record, a reasonable amount of sugar for us to consume daily if we are not diabetic is approximately 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

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Now that doesn’t mean you NEED to eat that sugar, it just means it is not likely to cause adverse health in the long run. Remember we are talking about added, refined sugars. It is wise to simply avoid all together the high fructose corn sugar as research shows that there is potential for non alcoholic liver damage from the over consumption of HFCS.

Children are at greater risk for adverse health, mood/emotion and behavior issues from overconsumption of sugars. AND the recommendation for daily consumption drops significantly for children. It’s only 3 teaspoons daily for children 4-8 years of age.

Image

If we look for it we can find sugar in the most surprising places, in foods we thought were healthy. Become a food detective and read the labels before purchasing that healthy cereal or energy bar. If it has an ingredient that ends in “ose” that is a sugar derivative and you want to just walk away from that product and head to the fresh fruit isle.

Image

So to recap, refined sugar and high fructose sugars are connected to food related health issues such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. There is no nutritional value in consuming them and there are healthier options. Why not start today to kick your sugar habit and find better healthier options.

Try this delightfully easy recipe for taming your sweet tooth:

 Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:

For the adzuki balls:

  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
  • 3/4  cup pecans
  • 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:

You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out before adding the remaining items.

  • 1 cup of selected topping
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:

Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

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If you’d like to learn more about how to detect the sugar in your diet and control the amount you consume go to my website and sign up for my free (this time only) lecture on May 10th at 1:00pm at The David and Joyce Milne Library in Williamstown, MA. http://milnelibrary.org/

Also follow my blog and check out my website: http://www.leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/ for healthier sweet options and free recipes. You can send me an email as well with questions or to sign up for one of my programs at kiraskitchen5@gmail.com.

 

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and the sharing of pleasures.”

Kahlil Gibran

Peace and Brightest Blessings

 

Spring Cleaning

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Well it’s that time of the year when we look around our dwelling and decide what we can live with. The windows are beckoning to us to grab the environmentally safe (I like http://www.ecoproductsstore.com/products.html) window cleaner and get to work. The yard is full of debris from the winter and the snow has finally disappeared. At my house, my furry girls Kira and Pooh are desperate to be outside and pine away at the kitchen door until we go out for a walk. There is much to do and I plan to get out there with my rake this weekend but for now I’m planning a different type of Spring Cleanse to be offered on my Health Coaching website….

http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/.  I’ll be offering a supported 10 or 21 day spring cleanse starting May 1st to anyone interested in doing a little external spring cleaning and some truly reinvigorating internal spring cleaning. This program will follow a season of sugar and sweets with both Passover and Easter behind us we will be able to commit to our health and eating cleaner.

Both programs will offer daily support email check ins to see how you are progressing, a menu plan to follow including recipes, coaching and suggestions for diet and lifestyle changes you can easily make to improve you energy and revitalize your spirit. With Spring upon us it is the perfect time to readjust your priorities and make your health number 1!

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Feel free to contact me with questions or go directly to my website and sign up.

Here is a sample recipes we will cook during our cleanse:

Ginger Broiled Salmon

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

 Yields: 2 people

 Ingredients: 

 1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoons umeboshi plum vinegar

2 4-ounce wild salmon fillets

 Directions: 

Make marinade my combining oil, water, ginger and vinegar.

Place fish in a shallow baking dish, cover with marinade, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler.

Broil fish skin side down for 6-8 minutes.

Baste with remaining marinade once or twice while broiling.

Use any remaining marinade as a sauce and serve.

 – See more recipes at: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/

There will also be vegan, vegetarian and macrobiotic dishes such as this delightfully complete meal below: Black Bean and Mango Salad with Quinoa! Yummy stuff to look forward to so take that first step toward improving your vitality. 

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 SPRING IS NATURES WAY OF SAYING LET’S PARTY! 🙂

Robin Williams

Be Well

Muffin Mindfulness

If you are anything like me you enjoy a nice sweet, yet light muffin in the morning. I created what I’m calling my “Spring into Spring” muffin this week to share with the team of gifted clinicians I have the great pleasure of working with. My little muffin is hearty and it provides the energy for hard working people to get through their morning without that late-morning drop in energy that sneaks up on us. 

You know what I’m talking about…you are suddenly aware that you want to take a nap, you are shaky and find it hard to concentrate. Everyone around is now irritating and it is challenging to be calm or kind. A little Hypoglycemic maybe? If there is a snack bar or vending machine nearby you are contemplating heading that way. WAIT! You can head that off with this little “Spring into Spring” muffin. Simply pull it out of your lunchbox, (yes that’s what I said…lunchbox…I’ll be doing a blog post in the near future about packing your healthy lunch/snack for work) grab a cup of green tea with a little honey and experience a moment of sheer pleasure!

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Spring into Spring Muffin Mix: remember to use organic non GMO whenever you can. This is a vegan recipe but you can add 2 eggs if you’d like to make these muffins a bit more fluffy. You can also substitute the brown sugar with maple syrup for a less sugar option.

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

½ cup flax meal

2 teaspoons baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup maple syrup

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)

½ cup Greek yogurt

½ cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups grated carrot

½ cup grated coconut

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup raisins

¾ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup whole oats

Prepare a muffin pan with Spectrum organic butter flavored shortening.

In a medium bowl mix together the dry ingredients: flour, flax meal, baking soda, spices.

I a separate small bowl mix together the grated carrot, coconut, cranberries, raisins and walnuts.

In a larger bowl mix together the coconut oil, maple syrup and brown sugar (add eggs if you are including them) and the applesauce. Mix until blended. The mixture will be chunky but don’t worry. Add vanilla.

Slowly add the dry ingredients blending completely until mixture if light and fluffy.

Fold in the carrot mixture and blend completely by hand.

Sprinkle the whole oats in the bottom of the prepared muffin tin, and on top of the muffins before placing in the oven to bake.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Find your peaceful place and enjoy a muffin.

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Tu Vein Kim Son Buddhist Monastery, Watsonville, CA

 

Health is the greatest possession.

Contentment is the greatest treasure.

Confidence is the greatest friend.

Non-being is the greatest joy.

                        Lao Tzu, Father of Taoism

Blessed Be

 

Thoughts On Health

It is snowing again today in the Berkshires and very beautiful. We got about 2 feet of snow this past week. It reminds me of the fantastic snow storms we got when I was a kid in the high Sierra’s of California that dumped many feet of snow in one storm and literally snowed you in. This picture is before the storms from this week but you get the idea of how pretty things are covered in winter white.

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So I’ve been a bit under the weather this week and find it makes me a little depressed when my body is not well. I was thinking about how challenging it must be for people who are seriously ill to maintain a level of peace and happiness when trying to regain their health. I think it takes a very strong person to remain positive when faced with a serious health condition. It certainly puts things in perspective for me to stop my pouting about missing work and my life for a few days as there is a clear end in sight for my little health issue. As I grow older I know many more people who are facing serious health challenges. The experience of these beloved folks in my life is the motivation for me to become a health coach and learn all I can about improving health through diet.

I was blessed to spend a week back at Kushi Institute recently, learning more about the health benefits of foods and the styles of preparing these foods. I met a delightful group of people from around the world and learned more about cooking for health beyond the boundaries of the United States.

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These dishes are meant to be prepared during summer for optimal health. While I loved all the dishes we prepared I was especially happy with the Burdock and Sesame Dressing recipe (front left in small bowl). I will share a Burdock recipe here that is more appropriate for this colder time of the year. I do hope you enjoy it! Burdock is a wonderfully strengthening root vegetable and anyone living in New England knows it can withstand pretty much any attempt to extinguish it.

Kinpira Burdock and Carrots (this is a recipe found at Kushi Institute)

1 cup burdock root cut into matchsticks

1 cup carrot cut into matchsticks

1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds, soaked and the pan toasted

1 Tblsp toasted sesame seed oil

Scrub carrot and burdock root with a vegetable scrubber until all dirt is gone. Trim the carrot top leaving the seed by cleaning around the top.

Rinse soaked sesame seeds and place in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Toast the seeds constantly moving them with a bamboo spatula until the no longer stick to the spatula.

Cut carrot and burdock root in diagonal circles, fan out the circles to cut into matchsticks.

Place sesame oil in heavy skillet on medium – high heat.

Add burdock and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add carrots to burdock and continue to sauté for another 3-5 minutes until vegetables are soft but not overcooked.

Add the toasted sesame seeds and stir until well blended.

Kinpira style vegetables provide us with quick energy and this particular combination of carrot and burdock helps to build good quality blood and is strengthening. In macrobiotics this dish is often used in a healing diet, at times using water to sauté rather than oil for particular conditions. This dish, with oil sauté, is good for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. When oil is used in this dish it helps the minerals get deeper into the bones.

Benefits of Carrots *

Carrots nourish almost every system in the body. They are most helpful with lung, liver and stomach function. Carrots are considered anti carcinogenic as they act to dispel toxins while moving energy in the body. They are mostly carbohydrate (89 percent) which helps to explain their sweetness. Carrots counteract intestinal gas, help to prevent constipation, stabilize blood sugar and reduce indigestion.

Carrots are the best source of antioxidant vitamin A which is a precursor to beta-carotene and they improve night vision and help to prevent senile cataracts. Carrots are rich in silicon and so aid calcium metabolism. Their potassium salts give them diuretic properties.

See attached article about benefits of cooking carrots to assure the most healthful benefits they offer.

Benefits of Burdock Root *

Burdock is familiar to most folks living in the Northeast. It is that pesky herb (weed) that deposits burrs on our clothing and our pets. The leaf of burdock is toxic but the root is full of health benefits. Burdock is classified as an herb.

Burdock stimulates bile secretions and is a good source of blood sugar insulin making it very beneficial for diabetic conditions. Burdock has the ability to restore the body to normal health by cleansing and purifying the blood, supporting digestion and the elimination of toxins, and helping to restore normal body function.

In herbal medicine Burdock is used widely in European and Asian formulas as an anti-carcinogen, to treat arthritis, for liver detoxification and for general kidney support. It also contains more protein, calcium and phosphorous than carrots and is a good source of potassium.

* Information provided from The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood.

Be Well

Cooking with Family and Friends

My kitchen remodel is nearly done and it’s looking great! We have had a ton of fun cooing together this past week and learning where things are as we go. The contractors will return after the New Year but for now it is just my kitchen. Sharing it here with my daughters, Hannah who flew in from California and Kristen who came over to bake.

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I hope you all are enjoying this season of family and friends. It has been quite busy in my kitchen and I’d like to share a couple recipes with you that we like to make. The first is so delicious and yet so simple and comes from The Kind Diet Cookbook by alicia silverstone.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups:

 ½ cup Earth Balance butter

¾ cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)

¾ cup almond meal

¼ cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener (I used regular sugar and it was fine)

1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips

¼ cup soy, rice, or nut milk

¼ cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts

  •  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Melt the Earth Balance butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, almond meal and maple syrup and mix well.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
  • Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
  • Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts.
  • Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

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The refrigerator in the background which is my living room is going to the Habitat for Humanity Re-store soon!

Chestnut Tarts:

1 cup (5ounces) whole peeled chestnuts roasted or bottled dry chestnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup maple syrup

2 large egg whites (free range, organic or egg substitute)

¼ tsp salt

2 packages 15 count phyllo pastry tarts

½ cup fresh whipped cream

  • Reconstitute chestnuts if dried, pulse in food processor until finely ground. Remove to a  medium bowl, stir in vanilla and maple syrup.
  • Beat together egg white, salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the chestnut mixture.
  • Place phyllo tarts into mini muffin pan and fill each with the chestnut mixture.
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until golden.
  • Allow to cool and pipe a whipped cream star on top of each cooled tart.

Off to see Shakespeare and Company It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with all my Children. Photos and story to follow.

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Kira and her pal Pooh approve of the kitchen remodel mostly because they can see out the new back door.

Be Well and Enjoy!