Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Zucchini, Parsnip and Red Skin Potato Soup Recipe

The zucchini plant is a garden staple that produces plenty of vegetables for you and your family. Ever wonder what to do with all of that extra zucchini you have piling up from your garden?  When you have exhausted all of your favorite zucchini bread recipes and just can't stand the thought of frying up another batch of zucchini fritters give this soup recipe a try.  It is a delicious and nutritious way to make great use of all of your garden vegetables.

Zucchini, Parsnip and Red Skin Potato Soup 

1 onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 Medium Size Zucchini shredded
3 parsnip sliced into bite size pieces
5-6 red skin potatoes with skins left on diced
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tsp Oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


1.  In a large pot heat up olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic for about two minutes or just until tender.
2.  Add zucchini, parsnip and red skin potatoes and saute for 2 minutes more.
3.  Pour in the chicken broth and add oregano, parsley and thyme and stir together.
4.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat.
5   Using a handheld immersion blender puree soup mixture until smooth or in regular blender puree soup mixture in batches until smooth and return to pot,
6.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.  
7   Garnish with your favorite herb or sour cream.
8.  Enjoy!    

This recipe is super easy and delicious.  To make a complete meal serve with garlic bread and a fresh spring mix salad .  This soup can be served either hot or cold and keeps well in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.    

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oil Pulling - My Review

Oil pulling or oil swishing is an Ayurvedic remedy that has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.  It is quite simply the act of taking a teaspoon of unrefined organic oil (sesame, coconut or sunflower seem to be preferred) and swishing it gently around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes prior to brushing your teeth.  Oil pulling is supposed to be done first thing in the morning before you have any water, coffee or food.  Doing this is said to detoxify your mouth, whiten your teeth and help with your overall oral hygiene and health.  Over the past two weeks I decided to test this method to see if it is really all that it is touted to be.  I have to admit the first couple of days were a little rough but once I got used to the idea and over how weird it initially felt I found that I actually kind of liked it.  Here is my personal account of oil pulling and my thoughts about whether or not I shall continue to implement this ancient oral hygiene method.

The product I used:  Spectrum Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil 

Day #1:  I awoke a little excited and a little nervous.  I'm not sure what I expected but the first minute of putting the oil in my mouth was rather difficult.  This oil is in solid form when you spoon it out of the jar and place it in your mouth so I had to get over the weirdness factor of that. My initial reaction was that I wanted to immediately spit it out cause it felt SOOOO weird but I plowed through and made it to the 15 minute time frame.  The 15-20 minute time frame is important in this method as it is long enough to pull out plaque and bacteria from your mouth but a short enough time frame that the body does not start reabsorbing the bad stuff.  It is also important to note that you will want to spit this out into a trash can and not into the sink or toilet as this will cause major clogs in your drains and pipes.  After I spit out the oil I thoroughly rinsed with a warm sea salt water solution and than proceeded to brush my teeth like normal. 

My reaction:  WOW!  My teeth felt like they had just been professional cleaned and stayed that way all day long.  I was pleasantly surprised!  

Speed up to Day #5:  I have been doing this oil pulling routine for five days now.  The weird factor has started to wear off and I am able to tolerate the first minute of the oil melting in my mouth much better.  I can also see that my teeth appear noticeably whiter.  BONUS!  I also have noticed that my mouth stays feeling clean and fresh throughout the day.  I kind of like this whole oil pulling stuff.

Day #10:  I will admit I wasn't able to swish for the entire 15 minutes this morning.  I was in a rush and maybe made it to 8 minutes.  My mouth still felt pretty amazing all day though and I can't believe how much brighter they are.  This is way easier than using whitening stripes on my teeth!  and cheaper too!

Too make a long story short I made it through the first week with flying colors and kept right on going into the second.  While I wasn't perfect in making the 15 minute mark every single day I did try to stay consistent and kept a timer on most days.  Out of the 2 weeks that I did this I only missed one day completely and only cut my time short twice and I still had some pretty amazing results.  My teeth felt amazing, my mouth felt cleaner for longer throughout the day and I also saw a definite whitening benefit.  My overall experience with oil pulling has been very positive and I can see myself adding this into my daily routine.  One of the biggest complaints about oil pulling is the time needed to do this method but I have found that I can easily continue with most of my morning routine without it holding me up.  Once I got used to the whole process it was very easy to incorporate into my morning routine.  A far as some of the other health benefits that oil pulling has been touted to do.....only time will tell.  I know there are some pretty out there claims as to what oil pulling can do and I really can't comment on that one way or the other.  I can only give an account of my experiences and opinion.  My experience with oil pulling is as such;  this is a great way for me to feel like I just got my teeth cleaned at the dentists office and the natural whitening benefits have been an added bonus.  Top that with the coconut oils natural anti bacterial properties and I feel I have a winner.  While oil pulling might not be for everyone this is definitely worth at least trying.  It is a gentle natural way to help keep your mouth and gums healthy and as I always say, "a healthy mouth is a happy mouth".

Products to try: 

Have you ever tried oil pulling?  What have been your experiences with it?          

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Your Attitude Affects Your Health

Have you ever noticed that when you are facing a situation with a positive attitude it usually turns out way better than if you tried tackling the same situation with a bad attitude?  A little attitude can go a long way.  Whether our attitudes are good or bad they will generally rule how we think, feel and react in our daily lives.  So it is no surprise that when we want to lose weight or improve our health having a positive attitude with positive affirmations will produce better results than if we have a negative attitude and negative thoughts.  The proof might not always appear on the scale but it will appear in our overall mental health and how we physically feel.  The simple act of changing our attitudes to be more affirming and positive can be an amazing breakthrough that will lead to not only a better state of mind but have other lasting health benefits as well.  

I recently found an article in Health Day: News for Healthier Living written by Chris Woolston that states:

In a study of more than 5,000 people over the age of 65, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that a poor image of one's health -- regardless of other risk factors -- roughly doubled the risk of death within five years. In fact, a pessimistic outlook proved to be deadlier than congestive heart failure or smoking 50 or more packs of cigarettes every year. 

Our opinions of ourselves do matter.  Even in individuals with poor health and major health concerns going through a major health crisis studies have shown that if they have a positive attitude and image of themselves they are more likely to have better lasting results than that of a person with a less than sunny disposition.  

So, what can you do to change your attitude to be more optimistic and positive?  A good start would be to try and surround yourself with things and people that make you feel happy.  Maybe start your day off listening to your favorite feel good song.  Read a few pages of your favorite book.  Hang out with people that have a positive attitude and outlook.  If you find yourself struggling to find things that make you happy and can't seem to find any joy in life at all, talk with someone you trust about it.  Depression and anxiety are nothing to take lightly and can greatly affect every aspect of your health.  If you think you are suffering from depression or anxiety seek help.  It could turn out to be one of the best things you can do to help gain back control of your health both mentally and physically.  Simple diet changes could also be a great catalyst for changing the way you feel about yourself physically which in turn can affect how you feel about yourself mentally.  The possibilities are endless with the major point being our attitudes change everything.

Having a positive attitude will change how you deal with certain situations and will help in the outlook of whatever situation you may find yourself facing.  It may help to focus more on what you have and can do good for your health than focusing always on the risks and risk factors.  Take a deep breath, relax and try to find that one thing that can turn a negative in your life into a positive and see how that changes your overall outlook on things.  It may just be the start of a whole new happier healthier you!    


Monday, August 11, 2014

Zucchini Ricotta Fritters Recipe

Summer time is in full swing and so is the garden harvest.  When you are faced with an over abundance of zucchini and just don't know how else to prepare it try out this awesome and delicious Zucchini Ricotta Fritters recipe and discover another way to enjoy zucchini.  Super easy to make and super tasty this will definitely be a crowd pleaser.

Zucchini Ricotta Fritters 

2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
oil for frying

1.  Shred zucchini and squeeze out some of the liquid with hands and place in a large bowl.
2.  Combine zucchini, onion, chives, ricotta cheese, eggs, cilantro, sea salt and pepper.
3.  Stir in the flour just until incorporated.
4.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
5.  Working in small batches, add 2-tablespoon mounds of zucchini batter to the skillet and fry until browned      and crisp, about 2 minutes.  Carefully flip and cook other side for another 2 minutes.
6.  Remove fritters from skillet and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Let fritters drain on paper              towels and serve immediately.  These are great served with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Myths Debunked About One of Summer's Favorite Indulgences - Sweet Corn

Sweet corn.  When ever I hear these words I automatically think of mid summer cookouts and fresh corn on the cob cooking on the barbecue.  Sweet corn is one of those perfect summer indulgences that I can never seem to get enough of.  But sometimes this sweet summer indulgence can get a bad name.  Many people have convinced themselves that sweet corn is bad which is a shame because it is such a wonderful treat with a nice nutritional punch.  Here are 5 myths debunked about sweet corn that will hopefully allow you to enjoy an ear or two guilt free.


Myth #1 - Most sweet corn is genetically modified.  

This simply is not true of sweet corn.  While there is a small percentage of GMO sweet corn being grown, the amount is roughly in the 5-6% range.  Sweet corn is often confused with the virtually inedible "field corn" which is highly subsidised and GMO heavy.  While most "field corn" is GMO, most sweet corn is not.  One of the best ways to find out if your sweet corn is GMO is to just ask the farmer or store representative.  The farmer will certainly be able to tell you if they use GMO seeds or not and a store representative should have this information as well.  Also, another sure fire way to make sure it is GMO free is to buy USDA Organic sweet corn.  All GMO crops are forbidden under the organic standards and practices.

Myth #2 - Cooking corn makes it less nutritious.  

In most cases cooking your vegetables and food will decrease the nutritional value of the food BUT in the case of sweet corn the antioxidant activity is increased when sweet corn is cooked.  Cooked sweet corn increases levels of ferulic acid which provides anti-cancer properties.

Myth #3 - Sweet Corn is fattening and loaded with sugar.

An ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple (approx. 75 calories) and has less than one-fourth of the sugar.  It can potentially be one of the healthier foods at a cookout.  Just remember that while sweet corn is healthy some of the extra toppings like butter, salt, parmesan cheese and other similar toppings that people like to top their corn with aren't.  Go light on or skip the extras and the corn still remains a nice healthy option.

Myth #4 - Sweet corn has no health benefits.

Sweet corn is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin which are two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision.  Also, a mid-sized ear of corn also offers up a healthy 3-gram dose of dietary fiber.  It also contains good levels of some of the valuable B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine.  Many of these vitamins function as co-factors to enzymes during substrate metabolism.    

Myth #5 - The human body can't digest sweet corn.

While it is true that the human body can not digest the outer coating of the kernel of corn it is able to digest everything on the inside of the kernel of corn. The part that you see exit your body as part of your fecal matter is actually the part that the human digestive system can't do much with, because we don't have the enzymes (complicated proteins that the body creates) to break apart what the corn kernel covering is made of.  The rest of the corn kernel is easily digested and beneficial to your body.  

So go ahead and enjoy an ear or two of one of summer's best bounties around.  Just make sure to watch the toppings you add to your sweet corn and you have yourself a decent healthy option to munch on at the family barbeque.

Check out my other article on the Wonderful World of Beans and discover another healthy option to add to your weekly menu plan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

5 Fun Outdoor Summer Activities - Breaking The Old Routine

Summer.  It is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  We get to go outside and enjoy all sorts of different activities and lots of fresh air.  It is also the perfect time to change up our exercise routines and get out of the gym and spice things up a bit.  There are so many different fun summertime activities to choose from, all of which offer some sort of health benefit and workout.  Some of the things listed on this list may even surprise you.  Here are 5 fun and easy ways to stay active and continue to workout all while enjoying the great outdoors:

  • Horseback Riding - While this might not seem like an exercise activity please take into consideration that it takes considerable leg and core strength to ride a horse.  If you have ever gone horseback riding than you will notice that the next day you are sore and your muscles are tight.  That is because you are utilizing muscles that do not normally get used even during the most rigorous exercise routines. A nice afternoon on horseback can burn up to 248 calories and help tighten up that core and those leg muscles all while enjoying fresh air and beautiful scenery.
  • Hiking - Hiking is a great way to get outside but still feel like you hit the gym.  If you enjoy getting on the treadmill and doing a brisk walk or run than hiking may be just what you need.  Check out your local trails and walkways and get outside and enjoy.  It is a great opportunity to discover the area in which you live all while getting a great workout.  A nice hike can easily burn up to 372 calories per hour.  
  • Rollerblading/Rollerskating - There is no doubt that this particular activity is a great workout for your legs and core strength.  It is a low impact aerobic workout that definitely helps maintain all of your hard workouts from the gym.  A good hour of rollerblading can easily burn up to 434 calories.  Just make sure to wear the right protective equipment such as knee pads and a helmet just incase you take a spill.  
  • Beach Volleyball/Volleyball -  The beach part isn't a necessity but can be fun.  This is a great group activity that is fun for all ages.  This particular activity is a good total body workout.  Working both arms and legs and even your core.  A fun afternoon of some volley ball can easily burn 495 calories depending on the intensity of the game.  
  • Kayaking - This activity is not only great for getting you outdoors and into nature but is also great for a fun upper body workout.  A good kayaking adventure can help burn off at least 310 calories all while enjoying all that nature has to offer.  

As you can see there are no shortage of fun activities to do outside during the summer.  I have only listed 5 things but I am sure you can see the potential to get great workouts while doing fun activities that don't make you feel like you are working out.  Exercise doesn't have to be a dirty word or thought of with loathing.  When you just get out and start being more active and just keep your body in motion you are exercising whether you realise it or not.  So get out and enjoy the summer weather while it lasts and enjoy the amazing health benefits of staying active outside of the gym.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Perfect Morning Energy Boost - Beet Juice Recipe

I never thought I would say that I like beet juice but I have to say that this beet juice recipe I am about to share with you has become one of my all time favorite morning starters.  In the past, whenever I would think of beets I would either think of the ones my mom used to try and serve my brother and I straight out of the can when we were kids, which neither one of us could stand or I would think of the beets on top of a greek salad.  Since I never really cared for the beets my mom made or beets on top of my salad it was safe to say that I wasn't a very big beet fan.  To say that I was a bit nervous about trying out a juice recipe that had the main ingredient of beets was a bit of an understatement.  I was sure it was going to be horrible, but in the interest of sound nutrition I thought I would give it a try.  Boy am I glad that I did!  Not only did I enjoy this fabulously pretty pink and purple concoction but it soon became one of my favorites!  It took me a few tries to come up with my perfect combination but now that I have I look at beets in a whole new light.  I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do!

Perfect Morning Energy Boost - Beet Juice Recipe
1 beet cut into quarters
1 lemon peeled
1/2 inch of ginger root 
2 green apples cut into quarters

1. Place all ingredients into juicer in the order listed one at a time and juice.  Pour juice over ice and enjoy!
TIP:  You can combine the lemon and ginger in the juicer at the same time to get a little bit more ginger flavor.

For this recipe I did not peel the beets.  I just washed them really well and cut them up into quarters.  This recipe not only tastes really good but also packs a pretty nutritional punch.  Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains and vulgaxanthin which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support.  In other studies beets have also been shown to help lower blood pressure and also have anti-cancer and fiber-related health benefits.  So, give it a try...you may have just found your perfect morning pick-me-up!