Tag Archives: Healthy

Mama Mia Healthy Pizza

As a child my favorite foods where comprised of some type of pasta/ bread covered with sauce and cheese. These included anything that had to do with pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese etc.; which have most likely led me to my food sensitivities that I experience in full force at this point in my life. Just because I have food sensitivities, doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy comfort foods. It means that I have to be creative to find healthy alternatives that satisfy both my nutritional and emotional desires. This being said, healthy pizza is still a treat in my book that should be eaten in moderation. Simply put, I will not be eating pizza and or pasta substitutes for 90% of my diet. Rather these things fall into the 10% of my diet.

You can substitute just about every ingredient in this recipe to your personal desires & food sensitivities. Spelt flour is a good alternative for whole wheat flour for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerance, however it is not a flour you want to use if you have celiac disease.

In this pizza we used ingredients that are organic, local and seasonal. Arugula has a wonderful bitter bite to it which is balanced out by the creamy texture and saltiness from the goat-feta. The thin-crust has a delightful crunch, along with some sweetness from the honey, lending this pizza to a great flavor combination. You can choose to top the pizza with any veggies that are season. We chose orange peppers. Other veggies that are currently in season in Northern California include beets, radishes, carrots, fennel, and some peas. Get creative, stay local, organic, seasonal and unprocessed.

Without further a due:

Thin-Crust Pizza Dough Recipe

¾ cup  water, heated to 105-115 f

1 tsp      raw honey

1 package or 2 ¼ cups dry active yeast

2 cups   whole wheat flour or spelt flour (or 2 ¼ cups sprouted flour)

1 tsp       sea salt

1 Tbsp   olive oil

  1. Combine the water and the honey in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes, the yeast is foaming proceed with the following instructions. If the yeast is not foamy, wait 5 more minutes. If the yeast still does not foam, start over with new yeast.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast-water mixture and oil. Stir clockwise with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a smooth and lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes, or until the dough is slightly springy when pressed with a finger. (Do not knead for more than 5 minutes if using spelt flour as the gluten in spelt is weak.)
  3. Transfer the kneaded dough to a clean and lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 balls. On two pieces of parchment paper, roll out each ball into a 10-12 inch crust, no more than 1⁄4 inch thick. Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
  5. Top the pizza crusts with desired toppings. Transfer baking sheets to the preheated oven and bake pizzas for 20 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted.

Yield: 2 10″ crusts

Adapted from Bauman College

Arugula Walnut Pesto

A unique dairy-free pesto made of arugula and walnuts, Making pesto is a great way to add fresh herbs to any dish. Spices can also be added for extra flavor and nutritional benefits. Keep some for leftovers to put on chicken, eggs or salmon.

¼ cup walnuts

1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 medium clove)

4 cups arugula

½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

  1. Toast walnuts in a small pan until golden, about 8 minutes
  2. Add garlic and walnuts to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add arugula and salt to the mixture. Pulse until a coarse paste forms. With the machine running, gradually add olive oil. Add lemon juice to desired taste.
  4. Remove pesto from food processor

Servings: 2-3 pizzas

Adapted from http://www.lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com

Pizza is way more fun to make with other people. Invite family or friends to join you in the ingredient selection and cooking process.

Ciao!

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Confused about what to buy at the grocery store? Worry no more!

“The news abounds with stories such as countless tales of deadly bacteria-laden meats and vegetables; packaged-food poisonings; estrogen-laced meats; pesticide-enriched produce; more and more irradiated and genetically modified foods; antibiotics in animals leading to resistance in humans.Consumers of food, which is to say all of us, have become concerned that the food supply is no longer safe, may be creating or perpetuating chronic illness, or worse, may be capable of killing us.”

If you are confused about what to buy or should we say what not to buy at the grocery store, you are not alone! With all the fancy packaging, confusing words in the ingredient lists and with so many products to choose from, I don’t blame anyone for being confused or frustrated. There are some simple guidelines that you can follow to ensure that you are getting the optimal nutrients out of the foods you are putting into your body. These simple guidelines will also ensure that you are keeping chemicals and toxins-which eventually lead to disease- out of your body.  Let’s go back to the basics.

The term “organic” is scary and expensive for most people. We need to take a step back in order to realistically understand that the pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones that are added to conventional food is the scary part of the equation and that medical bills resulting from food-based disease  are the expensive part. Now that organic no longer means scary and expensive, let’s define what it really means.

In simple terms, organic means that there are no pesticides or chemicals involved in the growing and processing of fruits and vegetables. It also means that there are no antibiotics or hormones added to animal protein.

If there is one thing that you decide to buy organic, it should be your animal products. Without going into the very sad and disgusting details about how animal products are processed now-a-days, I will STRONGLY advise you to buy animal products that are organic. Here are some more detailed guidelines for buying safe food products.

Guide for buying fruits and vegetables

Better to buy organic:More likely to be handled with pesticides, antibiotics & hormones Okay To Buy Conventional:Less likely to be handled with pesticides, antibiotics & hormones
Peaches/ NectarinesStrawberries/ Blueberries/ GrapesApples/PearsCeleryBell PeppersCarrots/PotatoesLettuce/Leafy Greens/ SpinachKale/ Collard GreensBaby FoodMilk and Other Dairy ProductsMeat (Chicken, Beef,Pork)CoffeeNuts/ Nut Butters

Cooking Oils

OnionsCabbageEggplantAsparagusSweet PeasSweet PotatoesAvocadosPineapplesMangoesMushroomsCantaloupeWatermelonGrapefruit

Kiwi

** I keep a small print out of the table above in my wallet. No need to memorize!

What to look for on packaged food labels

First thing I look for is the ingredient list. My rules for ingredients are simple:

1. No more than 3 (maybe 5) ingredients

2. You should be able to pronounce and understand every ingredient

3. Sugar should not be in the first 3 ingredients (if it is even in the list at all is up to you)

This is tricky because there are many different terms to hide sugar. Just stick to rule #2 and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Now that you have checked the ingredients, it is time to refer to the some-what helpful nutrition facts. First look at how many servings there are and what the serving size is. Next look for anything that looks abnormally high. For example, are the carbohydrates, fats or proteins very high in comparison to one another. Another thing I always look at are the sodium and sugar contents in packaged food as they tend to be very high due to the way packaged food is  processed.

It is very hard to find a perfect packaged product because in reality a perfect food does not come in a package, it comes from nature. However, comparing food labels between different brands can help you choose products that are much healthier than other products that are offered to you as a consumer.

What to look for when buying eggs

Simple….Pastured, free-range, organic

What to look for when buying fish

In most cases you want to buy fish that were caught in the wild as opposed to farmed fish. There are a few exceptions so do your research first to make sure that you are buying from reputable sources. As you have probably heard in the news, there is concern with mercury levels in some fish based on which areas they are caught in. Be sure to check the following websites for updated information about responsible/sustainable fish consumption:

http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1521

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

You can also buy sustainable seafood from from www.vitalchoice.com

What to look for when buying beef products

Step 1: Make sure your beef is organic

“When you see the green USDA organic label-you know the food is going to be free of pesticide residues-synthetic hormones- antibiotics-and genetically modified grain.”

Step 2: Make sure that the cattle was grass-fed as opposed to grain fed.

Since cattle are naturally meant to eat grain, they have a difficult time breaking down the grain in their bellies. This leads to lower immune systems which require farmers to add antibiotics to the grain feed. Grass fed cattle have proven to produce meat and dairy products that are higher in nutrients. There is also less chance of food-borne illness such as E. coli when consuming grass-fed beef. To find out more refer to www.eatwild.com

What to look for when buying chicken products

This is where things get a little bit tricky. However, if you know what to look for then you will not be fooled by the labeling tricks–aka purposefully misleading statements. For example, “cage free” does not mean that the birds are free-roaming. Birds that are raised in their natural environment AND feed off their natural diet are healthier than the way most chickens are raised now-a-days. Birds that are stuffed into small spaces with no light have high stress levels, leading to low immune systems, at which point farmers introduce antibiotics into their feed to keep them from spreading disease. Another trick in the big chicken-company book is that “anti-biotic free” does not mean that the FDA regulated that product. It must say “raised without antibiotics.” The last thing that you need to look for is “air-chilled.” If a chicken is not air-chilled then it has been dunked in cold water with chemicals to speed up the production process. Last but not least it should be organic. So why go through all of the trouble to identify which chicken to buy?

Industrial farming practices produce unhealthy animals that 500,000 packed together in tight spaces, treated in-humanly, and are fed GMO grains. Conventional poultry can expose you to antibiotics, high levels of arsenic, toxins from fertilizers and pesticides.

The best place to buy your chicken is the farmer’s market. There are also local reliable farms that  you can order from online. You can buy chicken that meets the above criteria at Whole-Foods. I spent 15 minutes today looking at the pre-packaged chicken. After a little chuckle of frustration, I walked over to the meat counter where I found the perfect bird;

  • air chilled
  • organic
  • raised without antibiotics
  • hormone free
  • free range

It absolutely absured that we should have to search for this criteria in order to find chicken that will not contribute to unhealthy reactions in our bodies. Better to spend $18 on a whole chicken than to spend over thousands of dollars in medical bills when you still need money to pay for retirement. OH MY!

It is really sad that we have to protect ourselves from food companies who find it more important to make money than to care about people’s health. You do not have to freak out or be terrified of all the information that I have provided above. The more educated we are about how our food is processed, the more chance we stand to protect ourselves from disease. Making small changes at a time is the most successful tactic. Remember that you have the power in the grocery store. Every time you swipe your card you are voting for what type of products you want the grocery store to offer. More specifically, if there is less demand for unhealthy products, the companies will have to reduce production because they will have excess product which costs them money. Conversely, if there is more demand for healthy products, responsible food companies will have to produce more of the good stuff to keep up with the high demand.

If you have any specific questions, please comment! I would love to help you make more educated decisions in the grocery store.

Sources:

Organic guide for fruit and vegetables: Adapted by Bauman College from the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

www.eatwild.com

http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1521

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

Notes from class lecture at Bauman College- Spring 2012 Berkeley, CA.

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Perspective on Our Relationship With Food

Each of us has our own unique relationship with food. We all need food to survive. Food can also be used as a form of comfort or a social outlet. There are also many intricate layers within our relationship with food, which include behavioral aspects, physical aspects and emotional aspects. It has been said that changing a person’s eating habits is harder than changing someone’s religion. This sounds absurd yet, take a minute to think about how defensive we are about our favorite foods.

Here is some insight from the book Lost and Found, written by Geneen Roth. Geneen had a very unhealthy relationship with food and dieting for ongoing years. This particular book talks about her relationship with food and money, which have some very fascinating correlations with one-another. She shares her turning point in her relationship with food:

“….Since I was then twenty-eight and had been dieting for more than half my life–seventeen years– the only way I knew to accomplish this was to eat what I hadn’t allowed myself to eat– fattening foods that only men and thin people ate. Chunky cookies and pumpkin ice cream and four-cheese pizza. After a few weeks of vacillating between nausea and giddiness, there was a clunk, a shift in my attitude: I understood that food wasn’t good or bad and eating wasn’t about right or wrong or being loved or rejected. It was only about this body–my body– and figuring out what it needed to move, think, thrive. Removing judgements from food made eating much simpler; it’s not that my crazy eating suddenly disappeared, it’s that my perspective shifted, and my orientation was about what gave my body energy versus what drained it, decisions about cheesecake or ice cream slowly lost their fraught, hysterical quality. Eating became a way to sustain and support my body, not the way I was either trying to prove I was worthy (by denying myself) or rebelling against the internal voice that told me I wasn’t (by bingeing).” p.62

It is very admirable that Geneen is able to open up to other people through her writing in order for others to look into their own relationship with food. Just as s most relationships continuously take some effort and TLC, so does each of our relationships with food. Take some time to delve into your relationship with food. Before you open the fridge or pantry ask yourself “am I truly hungry right now or am I eating for other reasons.” If you are not hungry then find a way to distract yourself until those instincts pass. On the other hand, if you are hungry, you should prepare your food then take a moment to breathe and appreciate the food in front of you before you shovel it in to your mouth. Each bite is a connection between your food and your body. Thus, chew thoughtfully. Work on building your own healthy relationship with food one bite at a time.

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Alternative Outdoor Workout

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. I have been busy immersing myself in the food/outdoor culture in Berkeley. My new gym, Ironworks Berkeley, offers a wide range of physical activities including rock climbing, bouldering, yoga, spin classes, kick boxing and weight lifting. Even with all these options I like to step outside to enjoy an outdoor workout at least once a week.  Outdoor workouts call for some creativity.  Here is what I came up with this week.

1. Start with 60 Mountain Climbers (as demonstrated in the video below)

2. 10- 15 Burpees

3. 20 Air Squats

Repeat exercises #1-3 3x

4. 20 Step-Ups with right leg fast pace then switch to 20 left leg. Use a park bench or stairs

5. 12 Tricep Dips holding for 3 seconds at the bottom everytime

6. 12 Single Leg Deadlifts on each leg:

(Don’t need to use bosu ball)

7. 20 Backward lunges each leg

Repeat exercises #4-7 3x

8. 2 one-minute Planks

9. 20 Side Plank Dips (each side): Start in side plank position with elbow & forearm on ground

Repeat exercises # 8 & 9 2xs

5 minutes or more of a full body stretch. Take a deep breath of fresh air!

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Let’s Talk SEXY

Girls in our society are struggling to be comfortable in their own skin due to a misperception of the term SEXY. The modern day perception of SEXY is Victoria Secret models and skinny girls that are found in magazines, movies and on TV. While we sit here wanting, hoping and wishing to look like 5% of women in the world that are displayed in the media, we will never wake up looking like them.

How many girls do you know who are absolutely drop dead gorgeous and have a banging personality to match? So now we can cut the 5% down to 1% or less. Point being is that our perception of SEXY is completely out of whack now- a-days. There are girls who would do anything to simply look the way that the media portrays SEXY. Unless they add fake things to their bodies or had the ability to change their genetic code, it is impossible to obtain this fantasy look.

Let’s define a more appropriate/ realistic version of SEXY. SEXY= confident. SEXY is being comfortable in one’s own body. This can be achieved by treating your body with respect. When you feel good you radiate with energy which sends the message to people that you interact with.

If we choose to live unhealthy lifestyles in which we drink excessively, eat whatever we feel like and don’t exercise, our bodies and minds will provide a not so pleasant response in return. What seems more appealing, someone who looks at good looking people on TV and wishes that they were that way OR someone who is actively pursuing their own sexy? Each of us have our own version of SEXY, we just have to pursue it.

Some of us may not be realizing the effects of our choices yet. However, we will start to understand the effects as we get older and have children and grandchildren. In reality, we are all going to get old one day. Old and healthy is way more appealing than old and sick.  If you choose to take care of your body now, you may even find yourself the top 10% category when you are older.

This may be a very foreign way of thinking to us in Western Society but there really is no flaw in this mindset. If we choose to be naive we will look back when we are older wanting, hoping and wishing that we made better choices when we were younger.

Go ahead, pursue your own SEXY. I dare you.

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How to Make Pizza A Healthy Option

As we all know, the original form of Pizza is delicious yet quite taxing in the calorie and Nutrient department. Did you know that tomato paste on pizza is approved a serving of veggies for school lunches? (funny, right?) I don’t really want to get started on the politics of pizza in schools however, I do want to provide a healthy option that can be made at home.

The following recipe provides an easy way to make pizza a healthier option while still being able to enjoy the comforting taste.

Zucchini Stuffed Pizza

Honestly don’t worry about measurements on this one. Just choose good ingredients & remember, everything in moderation.. except the veggies!

Ingredients:

2 Large Zucchinis

1/3-1/2 cup Tomato Sauce

Grated Mozzarella or Buffalo Mozzarella

Veggies of your choice

1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning

12 oz. Ground Beef, Chicken or Tofu

Directions:

Step 1 & 2: Turn oven on to 400 degrees. Cover baking tray with tinfoil

Step 3: Cook protein of your choice in a skillet. I use ground beef, my friend Lizzy used Tofu

Step 4: Rinse zucchini, cut in half length wise, then carve out center portion

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Step 5: Mix seasoning into tomato sauce

Step 6, 7, 8 & 9: Add tomato sauce & your choice of cheese then load on the veggies + protein

ImageStep 10: Add a layer of sauce to keep the veggies from getting dry in the oven

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Step 11: Pop them in the oven for 18-20 minutes. Good way to check if they are ready is to poke the lighter green edges of the zucchini with a fork. The fork should slide in easily when your pizza is ready. The crust (aka skin on the zucchini) will be nice and crunchy.

This pizza is gluten-free. It can be made vegetarian or lactose free! It’s a very versatile dish that encompasses the oh-so-comforting flavors of pizza.

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Newest Breakfast Creation aka Breakfast Delight

Being that I love food so much, I sometimes think about my next meal before I am even finished with my current meal. Must be the inner fat kid inside of me 😉

Thought about this healthy concoction last night before I went to sleep. Trust me, I was not disappointed when I created this masterpiece in the morning. Which is why I feel compelled to share!

Crunchy Yogurt Protein Breakfast Delight

3/4 cup plain (unsweetened) low-fat yogurt  (Mountain High Brand)

1 tbsp ground flax seed (Spectrum)

1 tbsp of pecans (or any nut choice you desire)

1-2 scoops of protein powder (Vanilla MRM egg-white is my preference)

1/4 cup of cereal (must have less than 4 grams of sugar per serving!!! I like flakes or puffs for texture)

Add cinnamon.. Mix.. Add as much unsweetened vanilla almond milk as needed to finish mixing the protein powder in. Top with a few blueberries or raspberries.

You now have a quick, delicious, balanced, textured new breakfast option.

Enjoy!!!

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