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Friday, July 29, 2011

Fresh summer dessert

This summer has been intense. The heat and humidity has been stifling. This summer seems to be trying to rival the crazy winter we had of below freezing temps and ice and snow storms. As the heat has cooled down into the mid-80's the weather has been joyous. This little lull allowed this time to bake a crisp as well as homemade coconut milk ice cream. Both were delicious. Yum!

Stone Fruit Crisp


Ingredients:
  • 6 cups of peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of lemon
  • 1/4 cup of Sucanat
  • 5 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup Almond flour
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp of himalayan sea salt
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place fruit in baking dish - Pie plate or other 9 inch pan
  3. Place all other ingredients into the Vita-Mix and blend
  4. Add the crumbly mix to the top of the fruit - evenly
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or longer depending on your oven (my oven runs hot)
  6. Eat with Coconut, Almond & Raspberry Ice Cream. Yum!

Coconut, Almond & Raspberry Ice Cream (Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free)

Ingredients:
  • 1.5 pints of Raspberries
  • 3 tbsp of fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of vanilla agave
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 3 cups Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp pur vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Place all ingredients in the Vita-Mix and blend
  2. Scoop out and place in Ice Cream Maker for 20 minutes
  3. Scoop out of ice cream maker into freezer friendly container and freeze for a minimum of 1 hour.
  4. Enjoy with Fruit Crisp!





Monday, July 25, 2011

I can CAN CAN

Canning is something that has intrigued me for awhile, but I can honestly say I wasn't planning on making jam or preserves or other canned fruit to make it through the long winter.  Simply for the fact that I have issues with consuming too much sugar. If you didn't know it already canned items are typically PACKED with sugar or corn syrup for preservation means. I know I could use a sugar alternative, but what am I gonna spread it on? Bread? Gluten-free bread isn't all that and I want to make something that I am going to love and be able to use in a pinch. Yes, I know that canning isn't all about jams and jellies or salsa, but it is an easy way out when deciding to make an investment of time and money.

I've made large quantities of applesauce and green soups before, but instead of canning I've frozen these lovely items and stored them in a large freezer. The problem with this method is that the power could go out. So there is a real possibility that you could lose all that food and hard work if that happens, however unlikely. I never grew up canning or even knowing people who canned, until recently. My family is from the east coast so there was no family farm to inspire me. However, in the last few years I have been thinking more about canning.  As a health coach you'd think that this would be right up my alley. Yet, I am a city girl at heart and I want to make things as easy and simple as possible (like making homemade bread in the bread machine). I love good healthy food, but convenience still trumps most things in my life as well as my clients' lives

The main obstacles for me were 1. figuring out what to can (soup, meats, veggies) and 2. whose gonna join me? Canning is a social activity and I am always looking for ways to spend more time with my family and friends. 




Last year I was sent a lovely book called "The Fresh Girl's Guide to Easy Canning and Preserving" by Ana Micka. This quick read came with a little DVD and I watched it with interest after about 8 months of procrastination of course. The DVD was somewhat helpful, but I think that watching videos online for specific steps in the process would be just as useful. In fact, I only care about the nuts and bolts of things and so I would say the DVD could have done a better job with just showing the process versus all the little chit chat. However, I did learn from it and I was happy to review it. It is an adorable book and I have found it useful as a total canning novice. Plus, I'd even watched my housemate can this past year and she makes it look simple and easy, but she has been doing this for years.

I gathered a few of my friends together for this first adventure into canning. We had a pre-planning date and reviewed books and purchased jars.


And in the end we decided to keep it simple and just can applesauce. We purchased 36 lbs of apples.


We luckily had access to this Vitorio Strainer which removes the peels for you after you cook up the apples. Great gadget!


 Then we went to town making applesauce and rocking out to 80/90's music while we worked (this is probably my favorite thing about canning though not required).


In the end there was 21 jars of sauce. Which was great because it was an even split between the 3 of us. You can see from the picture its pink. The mixture of 5 different apples gave us this pretty color.


We have another date set on the calendar and we have already decided to can chutney and pickles. So as you can imagine it was fun.  As a bonus our menfolk grilled up dinner and so on the whole it was an awesome day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Is there a thing as Reader's block?

I think we all know about writer's block. I do not consider myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but it is something I am trying to cultivate. I am trying to gain some confidence around words, sentences and the expression of ideas on paper.

However, I am an avid reader and I jumped at the chance to read a novel that incorporates food into the mix. I think its great to read a book that inspires you to get back into the kitchen and enjoy the preparation and excitement of food.

The novel sent to me was "Georgia's Kitchen" by Jenny Nelson. I can say that this was a quick read. I did not particularly feel inspired by it, but it wasn't a complete let down. It was sort of an "eat, Pray, Love sort of book. I'd love to have a quote or maybe a page in the novel bookmarked, but it did not inspire or provoke thought. It was a simple chic lit book that was easy to read. If you enjoy chic lit books this might be a nice summer read for you up at the cabin or on a rainy day. If you want something a bit more meaty for a book club - this might not be it. In fact, a lot of the books I have read this year have been so-so.

However, I did read "The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones. I must say I absolutely loved this book. Yes, it had the romance and sex component as well as a whole lot of Asia (deep sigh). I have this "thing" for Asia, Asians and Asian cuisine. Actually, the reason I wanted to pick this book up is because although I love Asia and much of the food; Korea, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai - you name it. Chinese food has always been a struggle for me, even when I traveled to Beijing. I want to love it, but I am almost always disappointed. The dishes are slimy and too oily and usually salty. So the goal with reading this book was to see if the novel could teach me about what I had so clearly been looking for with Chinese cuisine - the Art of it, the Tradition and the Respect that food and meals have on the people. Something that we Americans' loose sight of much of the time.



This novel did not disappoint. Nicole Mones is an outstanding writer. It doesn't hurt that she has spent years working and traveling through China either. She writes beautifully and does a wonderful job at creating real characters that you can relate to and believe in within an exotic, but familiar world. Not only are the characters endearing - the novel is inspirational. At least I thought so and it wasn't just about the food, but how food in China brings people together, its expressive nature and how cooking teaches life lessons.

"The most important thing is to preserve civilization. As men we are the sum of our forebears, the great thinkers, great masters, great chefs. We who know the secrets of food must pass them on, for our attainment in food is not less than our attainment in philosophy, or art; indeed, the three things cannot be separated. These are the things that make us Chinese."

.......

"He was wiser than any alchemist. His dishes brought him all the glory under heaven. And he did it just as easily from coarse simple food as from rare delicacies. He often said that the best food was simple and homey; it reminded us of when we were young, or felt loved, or were lit up with believing in something."

.......

"In this humble book I have tried to give the facts about the cuisine of the Chinese imperial palace. It was a place of tragic beauty. Of everything I learned there, one thing stands out. Food was always to be shared. When my master sent out his untouched dishes...he would only send them as complete meals for eight people in stacked lacquerware. Never any other way. The high point of every meal was never the food itself, he taught us, but always the act of sharing it."

This novel makes you want to try your hand at Chinese cuisine or at the very least share a simple meal with others. It certainly did for me. In fact - I dragged (ha he loves it!) my husband down the Rainbow Restaurant on Eat Street in Minneapolis. I chose Rainbow because I know that they have a gluten-free menu and it makes the choices a lot easier for me. Also, the whole dining experience is less stressful if I do not have to ask a ton of questions or make lots of dietary requests. Try it sometime and let me know what you order.

Although, the "The Last Chinese Chef" was wonderful. I've been looking for more books to quench my desire. Do you have any recommendations? Help get me out of this dry spell.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tired of Feeling like Crap?

Maybe you are doing to it yourself? I know I was for years and years. I unknowingly spent hours in the gym, avoided eating out and drinking during my 20's. I ate minimal calories, tried different diet pills, took drugs to clear up my skin and all of that "hard work" never paid off. I was still overweight, had terrible skin, I was foggy, exhausted and depressed. Food allergies can keep you from feeling 100% and looking your best.

Check out this Article from Dr. Mark Hyman "Are Food Allergies Making you Fat."

Also, if you are interested in getting help in this area consider joining my upcoming Boot Camp/Detox combo. View the details here.

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