Tag Archives: healthy eating

The One In Which I Feel Like A Miserable Walrus Because Science

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I bet if I sat you down you could recite me a list of milk slogans and benefits that have been drilled into our collective heads ad nauseum for the past few decades. It’s a big source of calcium, It makes you grow!, Your bones need it, It has protein, Got Milk? Milk, it does a body good.

Or, does it?

But, sometimes, the benefits of a particular food ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. The food industry relies heavily on marketing just like any other business.

The difficult, and sometimes even dangerous part is when we allow for these marketing strategies, this loud information, to override what our own bodies are trying to say. 

See, healthy food is healthy… as long as it isn’t harmful. Doh.

Kind of obvious, right? But you’d be surprised at how many people blur the lines and ignore serious signs of potential problems simply because they continue to be convinced they should be eating x or y since they’re “healthy.”

Whole grains are healthy, as long as you don’t have Celiac disease or an intolerance.

Milk is (debatably) healthy, as long as you don’t have a lactose allergy or intolerance.

Heck, even vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and everything under the sun can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on whether your body loves it or hates it.

See where I’m getting at?

Enter: Me.

I grew up with the same information as you, and thus I grew up drinking many-a glass of milk. Everything was fine.

And then I became an adult. And at some point over the past five years I began noticing that milk doesn’t settle in my stomach very smoothly anymore. Sometimes it gives me a stomach ache. It causes me inflammation and bloating.

I drank milk yesterday to show you exactly what happens to my body (see what I do for you). The first picture is what my abdomen typically looks like after a normal exhalation. Then I drank one glass of milk. And about 20 minutes after, that’s what my stomach looked like after a normal exhalation. See the crazy bloating? It was painful, too, like heartburn. It becomes hard to stand up straight or move freely thanks to some sharp cramps, and all I want to do is lie down in a bundle until the pain is gone. Not pretty.

 

milkafter

 

 

Even though I never had issues with milk when I was a kid (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention?), as an adult willing to experiment I did begin noticing patterns: I discovered straight up milk gives me discomfort. Milk chocolate bars do, too. But somehow cheese, butter and yogurt don’t seem very problematic to my body.

Why the changes? I have no clue. They may be linked to the fact that as we grow we produce less of the enzyme that helps us break down milk, which in turn causes people who could tolerate milk just fine to begin having issues with it later in life.

But the reason doesn’t matter as much as the straight facts: Milk doesn’t benefit my body now. And I know this because my body yells it out loud and clear.

Should I continue drinking milk because calcium! bones! osteoporosis!  Hell no.

I get all my calcium from spinach, kale, beans, almonds, almond butter, salmon, and sardines. None of these foods make me feel like a beached whale in agony. That’s how I know they’re a superior option for me.

 

So now the question becomes… Are you ignoring any clear signals from your body?

There is a reason why our bodies react the way they do, after all.

We’re only wise to tune in and truly listen.

 

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Lentil Sunflower Dip

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A nice mid-day snack full of fiber, protein, with no added fats, and offering the perfect chance to get in some more veggies. This is my version of the health.com recipe.

You’ll probably want to make it easy on yourself and grab a can of lentils. But, in full disclosure, I’ll have you know that as a Certified Mexican™ I’m a total bean snob and always cook my own from scratch. (Note: Just now in that last sentence I accidentally typed cock instead of cook. I thought you should know.)

But yeah, I totally get it that cooking beans can be daunting and intimidating*

So, fresh from the stove or straight from a can, have your lentils ready and give this dip a try.

 

*No I don’t. It’s easy.

 

Lentil Sunflower Dip

 

 

Lentil Sunflower Dip

-1 can (or 1 C fresh) brown lentils

-1 Tbs. lime juice

-Sea salt and pepper, to taste

-1 to 2 Tbs. sunflower seeds

-Chives

 

If using canned lentils, drain and rinse well. Blend everything together except the sunflower seeds and chives. Mix them in at the end. Can’t get any easier!

 

Now don’t go ruining this shit by downing along a bag of pita chips or some other similar crap. Eat your damn veggies, alright?

 

Curried Coconut Chicken

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Creamy, hearty, thick, delicious, and seriously easy to make. Too good not to share.

curry coconut chicken

 

Ingredients:

3 skinless chicken breasts, cubed

3 diced tomatoes

1 can coconut milk

1 minced onion

1 minced garlic clove

2 Tbs tomato paste

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

curry powder, to taste

sea salt to taste

pepper, to taste

 

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan at medium heat. Once it’s warm sautee the onion and garlic, about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder (I used about 1/2 Tbs) and cook it for about 1 minute. Once it’s done add the cubed chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add the coconut milk and dissolve the tomato paste in it. Bring to a boil, throw in the diced tomatoes, and bring temperature down to low. Let it simmer to reduce the liquid, add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Humble Hummus– The All-Natural Way

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Ah, simple, docile, gentle hummus.

Even in all its modesty there is a reason why this Middle Eastern mix of mashed chickpeas is so famous worldwide. See, this extremely easy and dirt cheap dip is crammed protein, dietary fiber, iron and Vitamin C.

Hummus is very versatile and can be used in a number of ways: as an appetizer, a dip for veggies and flat bread, a spread on sandwiches and wraps, and on top of salads.

I’m a huge supporter of hummus being used as a staple in kids’ diets as well… it is so much better than any ranch dip they could smother their baby carrots in, my god.

This is the most basic, easy, no-nonsense all natural hummus recipe you could hope for. Of course you could use canned chickpeas, and darling, if that helps you  actually make hummus and eat it instead of a package of Oreos, then go for it! I chose to showcase here how I make it myself while cooking my own chickpeas to clear up any confusion people may have about that process. Hint: It’s actually super easy ;) Besides, like any Certified Mexican™ can tell you, there is no comparing the flavor of canned beans to that of a delicious pot of freshly cooked ones. Dreamy.

Ideally you will begin the process the night before by leaving the chickpeas to soak, though I sometimes skip this step if I happen to forget.

Also, be warned I like to cook chickpeas in big batches because once cooked they freeze beautifully and can be used in the future for new hummus batches, or soups and stews, side dishes, on salads, etc. WIN.

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All-Natural Hummus

-3 C dry chickpeas

-1 Tbs. Tahini (sesame seed butter, available in most supermarkets or health food stores)

-1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

-1/2 lime

-1 garlic clove

-sea salt, to taste

Chickpea cooking instructions:

Place the 3 C uncooked chickpeas in a large bowl and add water making sure the water covers them over by one inch, and leave soaking overnight. The following day drain the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas. Pass them to a saucepan and cover in water. Bring water to a boil.

Once it begins boiling, cover the saucepan and bring the heat down to low. Leave them cooking for about 20 minutes, always making sure the water doesn’t completely evaporate (add more if needed). Chickpeas will be cooked when they’re tender but firm, with no indications of tough or gritty centers.

There! Now you have fresh chickpeas, free of preservatives or chemicals. Yeah! Freeze the leftovers in 1 cup batches and they will be ready for next time.

To make the hummus:

Place 1 C of cooked chickpeas in the blender. Add 1 Tbs of Tahini, the juice of 1/2 lime, 1 Tbs of olive oil, 1 small garlic clove, and sea salt to taste. Blend it all into the desired consistency (add more olive oil or water from where you cooked the chickpeas if you need to make it less dense) and that. is. all.  See? Blend. Wham. You’re done.

Take a bow, baby. You did it.

BEHOLD. The Super Soup.

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Has it really been since December that I last wrote here? All you need to know is I’m full of ideas and projects, which can only be a good thing for you, my dear reader. Alrighty then, on to business. Of the munchy kind.

“I’m too busy to eat right.”

“Hey, I’m lucky I even get to sit down and eat.”

“I just grab whatever because I’m always on a rush.”

And so on. I’ve heard it all, and dude, I’ve said it all. And you know what I say now? Bull to the shit.

Making healthier food choices can be easy– if you make it easy on yourself.

Listen, I’m no different than you and if I’m rushing to get things done and the baby has decided that she will shrill-scream to the top of her lungs lest she’s held with both arms and bounced like a human trampoline, but I’m starving and on one side there’s a salad to be chopped, assembled and dressed, and on the other side there’s a bunch of ready to eat Oreos, then fuck it and damn straight I’m stuffing those Oreos in my mouth– except I’m kissing them first for being the lifesavers they are.

Been there. Done that. Learned from it. 

It doesn’t mean I’m failing as a human being for not being able to do it all at once. It doesn’t mean my baby is a demanding tyrant who won’t let me eat. It just means I have to make things easier on myself.

What this means to me is that on the weekends, when hubs’ work load may be lighter and older sisi Anna is around to help hold the baby I go on a two hour cooking and prepping rampage. If you give it even a little bit of thought you will find a pocket of time here or there where your life situation will allow for you to do the same. And there’s no shame in asking for help. Think about it: if eating is something you have to do every single day, isn’t it worth your while to give yourself the best chance of success by using a bit of time to set up a few healthy meals? I sure think so.

And here is a recipe ideal for this purpose: a truly super soup. Full of protein and nutrition, this is a meal you won’t regret. I made a HUGE batch of it, and am I ever thankful because it has made for a healthy lunch the last three days as I’ve been squeezed for time to cook. Store it, freeze it, keep it handy. Make it easier on yourself. 

quinoa vegetable soup

The Super Soup

4 C vegetable broth

1 C uncooked quinoa

1/4 C dry lentils

1/4 C dry split peas

1/4 C cooked chickpeas (you can used canned, but what I do is I cook dry chickpeas and freeze them in batches for cases like this)

1 onion, diced

1/3 C mixed veggies (I used frozen: green beans, corn, peas and carrot mix)

salt & pepper to taste

mustard powder

dry parsley

bay leaves

cilantro for garnish

goat cheese for garnish (optional)

Bring your veggie stock to a boil and add the quinoa, lentils, split peas, and bay leaves. After 15 minutes, add the onion, chickpeas and frozen veggies. Let it all simmer together at low heat for about 10 minutes more, add salt and pepper to taste, a bit of mustard powder, and sprinkle with dry parsley. Donezo. Seriously, that’s it peeps. Just remember to remove the bay leaves when serving.

To serve you can add goat, feta or panela cheese, or skip those to keep things vegan. Do not, however, skip out on the fresh cilantro. It makes things sooooooo good.

I love this kind of soup because it’s so easily transformed into something different. Add or remove any ingredients you want. Is it too bland? Add paprika. In the mood for zing? Ginger powder! Feeling daring? Chipotle powder (or adobo, omg yum). See? Now I’m hungry all over again just thinking of the possibilities. ENJOY.

Eating Junk Food: We Know It’s Wrong. So Why Do We Do It Anyway?

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junk

 

The answer to the question above is in this video, short and sweet, easy to watch and understand.

Regardless of your nutritional approach (you don’t have to be paleo, or vegan, or anything in particular to get the jist of the issue here) I recommend you watch it, watch it, WATCH IT.

 

Suck It Up, Buttercup

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I hate winter. Then I love it. Which means I didn’t really hate it to begin with, it just annoys the crap out of me. The idea of six months of cold, darkness and –gasp– absolutely NO cute shoes is enough to have me in fetal position in a corner, holding myself and rocking.

But then there’s fireplaces, Christmas, playing in the snow, hot drinks, and creamy soups, and things don’t seem all that bad after all.

Creamy soups. Today’s order of the day.

Although this soup requires minimal ingredients, it is the kind of food that gives you warm, fuzzy feelings inside; it makes your innards giggle with childish joy and next thing you know you’re polar bear hugging the shit out of the mailman and the bank teller. Consider yourself warned.

For this soup I used one of my new (to me) discoveries, a favorite ingredient of mine for the cold months. Please meet Miss Kabocha:

Otherwise known as butter cup squash, this lil’ pumpkin is sweet and of beautiful, creamy, spreadable texture. Well, like butter!

And as with many other concoctions I cook, how do I know this is good? Because the husband loved it. That is all you need to know.
Ok fine, I’ll tell you more. Stephen is picky-ass-picky um, particular about his soups. They have to be just the right texture, not too watery and not too thick; they have to have the precise amount of savoring, not too salty, not too bland. The flavors need to be craftily meshed together through the right amount of simmering. You get the picture. Me? Throw shit in a pot and call it a day. There ain’t nothing that can’t be fixed with more water or salt, me says.

So maybe I’m not your most reliable source for tasty soups since my bar is low way down there, but trust the husband. He knows his shizz.

buttercup squash soup

 

Kabocha (Butter nut) Squash Soup

1 kabocha squash

2 Tbs butter (or vegan spread)

a splash of coconut milk (or your milk of choice)

sea salt to taste

Begin with slicing the squash in half and placing both halves with the cut parts facing down on a baking sheet. Broil in the oven at 350 F for about 40 minutes, until the squash is super tender. Once ready, use a spoon to remove the seeds. Spoon out all the meat and place it in a blender with a little bit of water. Blend well.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the liquified squash. Add the splash of milk and salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Once the mixture is boiling lower the temperature to leave it simmer. Adjust your seasoning to taste, and add more milk until you reach your desired consistency.

And this is the part where you can make things interesting. If you wish, go crazy with the toppings. Here are some ideas of things you can sprinkle on top:

-Crumble cheese (like Feta or Panela)

-Roasted pumpkin seeds

-Hemp seeds

-Nutritional yeast

-A dash of chipotle adobo, to make it hot and spicy.

-Crumbled walnuts

Many possibilities for different flavors! Suddenly winter doesn’t seem so looming and dark. Now we just gotta work on designing high heel cute snow boots.