Monthly Archives: March 2015

Food and Optical Illusions

6/18/2014

Do you remember being shown two lines in grade school and being asked to choose which one was longer. Only, to your dismay, you got the answer wrong because the lines are the same size. How did that happen? How could your eyes have tricked you? In case you don’t remember, here’s a picture.
Well, it’s an optical illusion. And here’s another one:
Can you guess which bowl has the most food in it? The answer is none. All of the bowls have exactly 1 cup of vegetables in them. The same 1 cup actually, just to make sure nothing has changed (you can see that lovely piece of fennel hanging out in the different corners if you don’t believe me lol). All the pictures were also taken at the same distance and angle.

I love all my bowls, but the beautiful white bowl on the right was recently gifted to us. When I eat out of that bowl, I feel like I’m at a fancy restaurant. The white bowls are so elegant and I feel so nice eating out of them. But, shortly after I started using them, I realized that I was feeling very full before I finished my meal. So why didn’t I just stop eating when I was full? Great question! I, like many others, have a tendency to eat whatever is in front of me, regardless of portion size.

If you’re trying to lose weight, that’s definitely not the best way to eat. But, this is also important for those of us who are looking to improve our digestion. When we eat to the point where we are stuffed, there is very little room for our digestive juices and stomach acid to do their work. Sometimes it’s helpful to think of your stomach like a bottle. If you fill the bottle all the way to the top with water, and then add some soap and shake it up, it’s very hard to mix together. But, if you only fill it ¾ of the way, it’s easy to shake up. It’s the same thing for your stomach. If you fill it all the way to the top with food, it’s hard for your digestive enzymes to break down the food. It can also contribute to “food comas”, gas and bloating, heartburn and reflux.

So what is there to do about it? Buy small bowls! Buy beautiful small bowls so you feel good when you eat from them. If you are still hungry, you can always serve yourself more food, but it’s way better to start with less than to start with too much. Happy bowl shopping!

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The Forbidden Fruit

5/10/2014

The strangest thing happen to me while I was at the grocery store earlier this week to buy some nectarines. I realized I don’t remember how to choose ripe fruit. I’ve been on a candida diet for so many years now that fruit has really just fallen off my radar (for those of you unfamiliar with a candida diet, it requires eliminating all forms of sugar, including fruit).

Being on a strict candida diet has been hugely helpful and beneficial for me. But when I fall off the wagon because of stress, fear, low energy or any other unwanted emotion, I forget about fruit and immediately go for something completely off limits, like a cookie or brownie. When I do this, I end up feeling crappy both physically and emotionally, and the sugar high comes with an equally dramatic crash.

As a person who has usually fallen on the extreme ends of anything with two ends lol, I’m using this as an opportunity to train myself in moderation. I’ve gotta say, I’m catching on! And sometimes, that means going for the deliciously ripe fruit when I need an extra boost, rather than the forbidden and oh-so-tempting baked goods. Can fruit still effect my health, absolutely! But stress also has a tremendous effect on my candida and IBS, so if choosing fruit once in a while eliminates a large chunk of stress and gives my body the sugar it is craving, I’m all for it.

So what did I do with my semi-ripe (still learning) nectarines? I’m glad you asked! I made a delicious raw, vegan, paleo, gluten-free nectarine parfait with cashew cream and walnut crumble. Fancy, right? Check out the recipe below with my adaptations or visit Gourmande in the Kitchen for the original recipe and some beautiful photos. My favorite part of the dish was actually the walnut almond crumble. It also makes a great granola.

Ingredients

      For the lemon cashew cream:

    • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
    • ½ cup filtered water (for the cream)
    • The juice of one lemon
    • The zest of one lemon
    • 1 Tablespoons raw honey (or maple syrup for a vegan version)
    For the walnut crumble

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
      For the parfaits:

    • 4 small or 3 large nectarines or peaches
    • The juice of ½ a lemon
    • 1 batch of walnut crumble
    • 1 batch of lemon cashew cream

Instructions

    Make the lemon cashew cream:

  1. Put the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover. Soak the cashews for at least 30 minutes (or up to one night in the fridge), then drain, rinse and pat dry.
  2. Place the soaked cashews, fresh filtered water and the rest of the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. (If you don’t have a high-speed blender you may want to strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother final consistency.)
  3. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. Make the walnut crumble:

  5. Place the nuts and the rest of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until even chopped but still chunky. (The mixture should have a crumbly appearance but clump when you pinch it together.) Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  6. Assemble the Parfaits:

  7. Slice or dice the nectarines into bite-sized pieces and toss with the lemon juice to coat.
  8. Place a spoonful of fruit in the bottom of a serving glass and top with a layer of crumble and a layer of the cashew cream. Repeat to create multiple layers if desired and serve.
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Recipe: Carob Covered Raisins

4/27/2014

This past week I was visiting my family and my dad was raving about these carob* covered raisins he had tried. He had googled a few recipes to make it on his own, but it just wasn’t working out for him. I looked up a few recipes and had the same problem. I could only find 3 and none of them seemed like they would work out well. So, I took to the kitchen with my favorite problem solver – coconut oil! According to my dad (who’s honest, I promise), the results were awesome. He called me the next day to tell me he had eaten all of them and was already making more!

I didn’t actually measure the ingredients as I made this. I tend to view cooking like painting, it’s a creative process and you can always add a little more yellow, or blue. Feel free to also substitute the carob for cacao powder (that’s what I would do!) and add a little sea salt, cayenne, stevia or cinnamon. You can also sub out the raisins for your favorite nut, pumpkin seeds, or other dried fruit. The combinations are endless!

Carob Covered Raisins

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • approximately 2.5 tbs carob powder
  • approximately 2 tbs raisins

Directions:

  1. Melt the coconut oil by placing the closed jar under hot running water (or use straight from the jar if it’s warm out and the coconut oil is already liquid).
  2. Measure the coconut oil and put it in a large bowl. Add the carob powder and stir until the oil is saturated with the carob powder. You can add more or less carob powder depending on how rich you want the coating to be. You do want the mixture to stay wet, you don’t want any dry powder or carob chucks.
  3. Add the raisins and stir until they are completely coated. If you have more of the coating, just add more raisins.
  4. Place the raisins on a plate, piece of wax paper or tray. Keep them spread out to keep them from sticking. If you like, you can sprinkle some carob powder on them at this time to give them a different appearance.
  5. Place the raisins in the fridge. After about 10 minutes they should be good to go! Store them in the fridge to keep the coating from melting. If it’s cold in your home, you can leave them out.

Enjoy!

*carob powder is sometimes used as a replacement for chocolate for people who are sensitive to caffeine or other properties of chocolate. It has a very unique taste to it, and while it looks like chocolate, the flavor is very different. It’s also low in fat, high in calcium and high in fiber. You can read more about carob here.

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How I Made the Switch to Natural Deodorant

4/8/2014

 

Some people may call my hippie like, but there have always been some things that I’ve done the very conventional way. One of those things is deodorant.

Until a few months ago I was a clinical strength secret wearing gal. I had tried Mitchum, and all the other “supposedly” strong antiperspirants and deodorants, and nothing worked. So, I switched to the high dose aluminum, $11 per tiny bar, clinical strength products.

I always wanted to become a natural deodorant convert. I mean, I have super sensitive skin and I try to live as natural and simple a life as possible. But, another part of me just didn’t want to stink! I had tried the salt stones and some other natural products, but they just didn’t work for me. Some of them even made me smell worse.

The Plunge

Fast forward to my coconut oil loving days, and I decided to take the plunge and not only try a natural deodorant, but DIY-make it myself. The first few days I sweat a little more than usual, but within a week I was actually sweating less and I wasn’t stinky! So now I get to take care of my sensitive skin, eliminate unwanted chemicals from my bathroom and skin, and I don’t have to run to Duane Reade if I run out!? Amazing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still sweat, but I sweat less than I did when I used the clinical strength antiperspirant!

The Ultimate Test

I love salsa dancing. But, up until this past week, I was scared to try it with my natural deodorant. Salsa dancing is intimate, and when there are 200 people dancing in a small room and you are up close and personal with your partner, well, you don’t want to stink! Well, I’m happy to report that I used my natural deodorant this past Sunday and the reports are all positive. Yes, I was sweating (everyone is!), but no stink.

A Word on the Cancer Controversy

There is some controversy over the link between aluminum and cancer. Nothing has been proven, but many people believe that antiperspirants can be linked to breast cancer. I’m not a scientist, but hey, if I can eliminate it, why not. If you want to read more about it, check out this site.

Click here if you’re interested in purchasing natural deodorant from me.

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Moroccan Salads Cooking Class

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Fruit Sorbet, Bollywood and it’s Spring!

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I’ll Take My Sauce on the Side. Please, and Thank You

Picture

Yup, I’ve officially become one of those people. I always heard people say it. I knew “sauce on the side” was a thing. But, I never thought it was a thing for me. Afterall, I’m pretty thin. Even when I was at my worst physically, I looked pretty healthy. It wasn’t until listening to a lecture about how to eat healthily when eating out, that I realized that asking for the sauce on the side is an option for everyone.

So, what were my fears? What would people think about me if I asked for my sauce on the side? Would they think I had a distorted body image? Would they think I was too picky? Would they think I should just stay home and make my own food if I had so many concerns (like I thought I should)?

The truth is: who knows? And the second truth is: who cares? I’m owning it. No sauce on the side is a pretty amazing thing, once you get over being concerned with how other people view you. And, just to be clear, when I say sauce I mean dressings, too. This means peanut sauce, curry, miso soy glaze, citrus vinaigrette, BBQ sauce, low fat ranch, etc. It can sound healthy, but that doesn’t mean anything. Especially when you don’t know what’s actually in it.

Why Ask For Sauce on the Side?

Most restaurant sauces and dressings have tons of sugar in them (a major inflammatory). It may be a healthier substitute like maple syrup, agave, or honey. It could also be high fructose corn syrup or a zero calorie sweetener like splenda (sucralose). Whichever it is, there is no way to know which, or how much is in it. For someone with diabetes, candida, or any type of sugar intolerance, this can be a nightmare. You might think you’re doing something smart by ordering a salad, but that dressing can have just as much sugar in it as a coke.

Restaurants also use a lot of salt in their sauces. As someone with low blood sugar, that’s no big deal for me. But, if you have high blood pressure, asking for your sauce on the side is a great way to continue eating out (occasionally), without compromising your health. If you’re looking to lose weight, cutting down on sauces is also a great way to cut down on empty calories.

Sauces and dressings also tend to contain soy and other allergens, along with thickeners, MSG and other hidden ingredients. I, personally, would rather not deal with. For those with gluten sensitivity, thickeners are often made with flour (it’s called a roux). Just as an experiment, next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at the ingredients in a bottle of salad dressing or premade sauce. Most of the time, you’re going to be surprised at how many ingredients manage to sneak their way into that little bottle.

When I ask for my sauce on the side, I don’t have to worry about all these things (not to mention that any bottled salad dressing makes me break out). Why take the risk? No sauce on the side keeps me in control. If I want to taste it, I can. If I want to pour the whole thing on, I can. It’s up to me.

Besides, when I go to a restaurant, I am paying good money in order to get what I want. It is a service. And yes, my heart goes out to the servers that have to deal with so many individualized requests. However, it never hurts to ask. If the answer is no, great, then the answer is no. It’s better to have an actual answer and move on so I can enjoy the food and company, instead of being stuck in my head and being too embarrassed to ask.

So, from now on, if you see me in a restaurant, I’ll be the one proudly asking for my sauce on the side.

And, for those of you who want to stay in and eat even more delicious and healthy food than you can get in a restaurant, stay tuned for a post on luscious sauces and dressings.

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Recipe: Roasted and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

About 6 years ago I had the amazing opportunity to work in a kitchen at an Ashram upstate. We made the best food. Seriously.

One of the things we always made for the salad bar was roasted and seasoned sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. These little gems add a ton of extra flavor and crunch to your food, and they’re also great as a snack on their own. You can use any combination of spices you like, in whatever proportion suits you. Here’s a jump off recipe that you can adjust however you see fit. Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
1/2 cup raw (and shelled) pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp coriander
1/3 tsp cumin
2 pinches salt
1 punch cayenne pepper
a little less than 1 tsp olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together until all the seeds are coated. Place in a toaster oven or regular oven for about 10 minutes at 350. You want them a little bit golden, so if they need more time just check on them every couple of minutes. I usually like to make these when I’m already using the oven for another purpose, this way I don’t have to wait for it to preheat.

Other great spices to use are smoked paprika, garlic powder or chili powder.

What’s your favorite spice combination?

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Throw Back Thursday: Salami and Eggs with Ketchup

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Ready to Start Your Health Journey? Here are some of my best tips.

This month I got to spend some time talking to Julie, a writer at Eat Up New York. I shared my journey and story with her, and I let her know some of my favorite tips for New Yorkers who want to start focusing on their health. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, even though New Yorkers are a special breed, these tips apply to everyone 🙂

Here they are my tips straight from the interview. You can check out the whole article here

#1. My number one piece of advice is to be gentle with yourself. So many times we try to make changes by making ourselves wrong, depriving ourselves or condemning ourselves. Over the long run, this causes more harm than good. It takes time to make changes, and that’s totally ok. I like to remind my clients to take it one step at a time and to remember to acknowledge their progress, not just focus on the setbacks.

#2. Eat those veggies! Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner and I guarantee you fill start to feel lighter and have more energy.

#3. Up those greens. Green vegetables are the universes gift to mankind. You don’t need to go on a juice cleanse to detoxify (you can if you want to!), just add greens to your everyday diet. They are natural detoxifiers that will improve your energy, skin, immune system and overall health.

What are your favorite health tips for someone just starting out on their journey to health?

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