Who’s in control of most Easter baskets? Food marketers.

EasterHey … just to let you know … someone else, someone without your best interest at heart, has grabbed hold of your Easter and made it all a little crazy.

Somehow, a celebration of rebirth has gotten stuffed into a gooey, mass-produced, junky mess of chocolate-flavored waxy substance.  Or sugar-coated marshmallows, dyed pink.  Or blue or yellow.  Marketers make it, and we buy into it, somewhat mindlessly throwing these pastel-colored sugar bombs into our shopping cart without really thinking:  is there a good reason to feed this to my kids?  Is it feeding their health or stealing their health?

And if it’s stealing their health … (it is) … how on earth is that a reasonable celebration of the rebirth of a holy life?

I broached this with a friend the other day, and she said (thankfully not in front of her child), “seriously, Jennifer, can’t we just let them have a little fun every now and then?”  And then she stopped and said, “wow, did I really just say that?”

Yes, you just bought into what every food marketer wants you to internalize:  Sugar=Fun. Taking away sugar=punishment, or at the least, loss of fun.  And what parent wants to steal fun from their kids?

What if, instead, we spoke the truth?  The junky candy that is sold at Easter=poison to kids’ bodies.  Skipping it=showing love.  There are thousands of ways to have fun that have nothing to do with junky foods!  And there are definitely better ways to celebrate rebirth!

Here are just a few, to get you started:

  1. My favorite:  Plant a garden together.  If it’s not time in your area, start seeds indoors.  Seriously, what is more rebirth-affirming than watching seeds turn into food?
  2. Make a clean sweep of a room that really needs it.  Playrooms would be great.  Where would these toys have a “new life” with kids who need them?  Same with clothing, or books!
  3. Get a tree guidebook and look up the trees in your neighborhood.  Give your favorites names, and watch them grow throughout the year.
  4. Adopt a dog or cat from a shelter – give them a new life!  Note:  please do NOT get a baby chick or bunny, unless you have experience with these animals and know how to give them a good, long life.  Most die within a few weeks of being purchased for Easter.
  5. Sprout your own seeds, for eating!  This is a great quick project – you can sprout things that grow within just a few days!  Watch the seeds “come to life” together, and then add them to salads or sandwiches.
  6. Start a family “Rebirth” journal.  Use this as your own personal new year, and have every family member write in what talent, hobby, or habit they want to be “born” in them this year.  Every year, review the prior year’s commitment, and discuss how it has blossomed in your life.

That’s just a few, but they all have much longer-lasting, positive impact than anything that comes in a Pez dispenser or plastic packaging!

Happy, Healthy Easter!

 

Guillermo Moreno liked this post

101 Fresh, whole-food snacks!

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101 Fast/Healthy/Fabulous Snack Ideas

 

For many busy people (including me), the most dangerous time for lapsing into a bad habit (junk food) is when hunger strikes at an inconvenient moment. And the most dangerous of all could be pseudo-healthy packaged foods (non-fat chemical pudding bars, “diet” desserts, etc.)

Keep these ideas on hand for when that happens, and you’ll be ready to power through in a healthy way!

 

1. Spicy Black Beans add 1 tbsp salsa to 1/4 cup black beans; top with greek yogurt for a creamy kick

2. Raw veggies and Hummus (with red/green pepper strips is easy and delicious)

3. Jicama sticks sprinkle with lime juice and dip in chili powder – crunchy and delicious!

4. Avocado cut in half, remove pit, sprinkle with lime, salt and olive oil and eat (I could live on this)

5. Plain Yogurt topped with nuts and/or fruit

6. Use cucumber slices as crackers Spread them with hummus, super-thin cheese slices, or olive tapenade

7. Apple dipped in Nut butter Almond, sunflower, peanut, etc.

8. Fruit “pie” Take whatever fruits you have in the freezer and pop them into a microwave-safe container. Microwave until bubbling, add complementary spices (vanilla, cinnamon, etc.), sprinkle with some chopped nuts. Instant happy!

9. Applesauce sprinkled with fresh cinnamon

10. Banana, kale, and almond milk smoothie

11. Almonds Raw, unsalted, organic

12. Carrot-Mango Smoothie Two Carrots, 1 cup frozen mango, 2 tbsp lime juice, and about a cup of water. Blend until smooth and thank me later -)

13. Homemade frozen pops blend real fruit (strawberries, mango, banana, watermelon – or a mix of whatever you have!) and freeze as-is, no need to add anything at all, particularly sugar!

14. Coconut-Chia “Pudding” Few tbsp Chia in Coconut Water or Coconut Milk, wait 10 minutes, then eat or store in fridge

15. Quick Quesadilla Whole wheat (or corn) tortillas with any leftover veggies inside (keep pickled jalapeños on hand for this) – throw in cheese, or not, and microwave until warm

16. Hard Boiled Egg cut in half, add salt/pepper, and enjoy

17. Sunflower Seeds

18. Cottage Cheese

19. Trail Mix – make your own! Mix dried fruit, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, granola, whole-grain cereal, etc.

20. Raisins

21. Lemony Avocado With Endive Dippers ⅓ chopped avocado + 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Scoop with endive leaves.

22. Rice Cakes

23. Asian pear slices

24. Dried Fruits

25. Mixed fruit salad Cut up whatever you have, and toss with one tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice.

26.Air-popped non-GMO popcorn

27. Inside-out mango Cut crosshatches into a (pitted) mango half, and sprinkle with lime juice and cayenne pepper. Turn inside out and eat! (yes, this is messy but worth it)

28.Clementines

29. Sweet Potato Fries one small sweet potato sliced in thin sticks, tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil, and baked at 400° (or hotter if your oven allows) for 10 minutes

30. Handful of olives

31. Veggie wrap Wrap a lettuce leaf around an organic pickle spear, and any veggies you have on hand (peppers, carrots, etc.), add mustard or hummus if you like

32. Blueberries

33. Ants on a Log Spread sunflower seed butter on celery and top with raisins

34. Steamed Veggies Delicious as-is, with a splash of olive oil, garlic, lemon, etc.

35. Peanut Butter and Bananas On whole wheat bread

36. Dr. Gupta’s Calming Creamy Turmeric Tea

37. Rosemary Mash Hand-mash canned white beans with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary. Serve over radicchio leaves for color/flavor contrast.

38. Cherry Tomatoes

39. Organic String Cheese

40. Small Green Salad Add a spritz of lemon/olive oil dressing

41. Bean salad Whatever canned beans you have, plus diced onion, any herbs on hand, and add a glug of olive oil and vinegar

42. Kabobs veggies on a stick, lightly broiled in the oven

43. Organic Carrots slice on the bias into “chips” for fun

44. Grilled Pineapple Put on the grill or a skillet on medium heat for 2 minutes or until golden

45. Baked Apples One smallish apple, cored, filled with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and baked until tender

46. Warm Pumpkin Seeds 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds baked at for 400° for 15 minutes or until brown. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.

47. Strawberries

48. Veggie Egg Salad Low-fat tortilla rolled around egg salad and shredded carrots

49. Warm Tomatoes Cut plum tomatoes in half, broil with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese

50. Bowl of bran flakes Add 1/2 cup milk (or substitute) and berries

51. Guacamole with veggies

52. Trisquits (the original ones with just 3 ingredients) dipped in cottage cheese or hummus

53. Cashews

54. Sugar Snap Peas I love to put a bag of these out instead of popcorn on family movie night – they disappear!

55. Half of a fresh peach with a scoop of cottage cheese in the middle

56. 2-Ingredient Creamy Garlic Broccoli

57. Strawberry Salad 1 cup raw spinach with ½ cup sliced strawberries, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a dollop of dijon mustard

58. Baked (or microwaved) potato topped with salsa

59. Apricots

60. Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip with fresh fruit

61. Frozen Grapes Red and green, seedless

62. Cheesy Roasted Asparagus drizzle asparagus spears with olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, bake for 10 minutes at 400°

63. Banana Smoothie ½ cup sliced frozen banana (or add a little ice), ¼ cup plain yogurt, blended until smooth

64. Fruit Chips Crispy dehydrated apples, pears, etc – YUM!)

65. Tropical Juice Smoothie ¼ cup pineapple juice, orange juice, apple juice, and any frozen fruit you have on hand, blended

66. No-Chop Gazpacho Combine tomato juice, cucumber, bell peppers and onion in a mini chopper/blender; pulse just until chunky. Add a splash of red wine vinegar.

67. Frozen Banana Peel before freezing

68. Oatmeal simple and delicious

69. Sliced tomato with a sprinkle of feta and olive oil

70. Kale Chips Tear kale leaves into large pieces and place on a baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil and bake at 375° until crisp. While still warm, sprinkle with salt.

71. Stuffed Mushrooms Briefly microwave button mushroom caps until softened. Fill with leftover pesto or tomato sauce

72. A couple of squares of dark chocolate 70% cacao or more

73. Sun dried tomatoes (real ones – click here for the best explanation I’ve seen)

74. Chickpea Poppers Completely dry canned chickpeas. Mix with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, season with dried oregano and garlic salt and roast at 400° until crisp.

75. Cocoa nibs over canned pears

76. Pecans

77. Frosty Melon Blend honeydew with plain yogurt, and ice if desired.

78. Nutty Banana Blend Blend frozen banana with fresh peanuts and a splash of almond milk.

79. Orange or Grapefruit slices

80. Pistachios

81. Stuffed Figs Split plump dried figs and stuff with toasted hazelnuts. (this is from Rachel Ray, and is DELICIOUS)

82. Strawberry-Banana Smoothie Frozen strawberries and bananas blended with a little almond milk (or similar). Easy peasy and delicious.

83. Edamame Easy to keep on hand in freezer

84. Baby potatoes Microwave them for 3 to 5 minutes, sprinkle with pepper and sea salt

85. Roast Cauliflower Sprinkle with olive oil, pop in oven and pull out when browned. Eat.

86. Radish Slices slice thinly and enjoy all the crunch of a potato chip, with none of the nasty.

87. Tortilla “Pizza”  Add thin tomato slices (remove seeds/liquid) and finely sliced/diced fresh veggies to a basic whole wheat tortilla.  Bake directly on the rack in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes at 350 – delicious even without cheese!

88. Whole grain cracker smeared with goat cheese Add an apple slice or grape for extra deliciousness

89. Watermelon + pistachios + lime juice

90. Sliced Cantaloupe

91. Ear of (non-GMO) corn wrap in damp paper towel, pop in microwave, add fresh ground salt and pepper

92. Canned soup Lentil and black bean are particularly filling (look for organic varieties, stock up when on sale)

93. Pecans

94. Mixed veggies Easy to keep on hand in freezer, pop a cup or two in the microwave for a delicious quick snack/meal

95. Black Bean Hummus Puree drained black beans with garlic clove, and a dash of lemon juice, tahini, and cumin

96. Apple Quesadillas put thinly sliced apple and a tiny bit of grated cheddar on a whole wheat tortilla, quickly warm in a pan and serve

97. Easy Tzatziki blend organic Greek yogurt with sliced cucumbers, garlic, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Let flavors combine then scoop up with raw veggies.

98. Acai bowl blend unsweetened frozen acai pulp (available at many supermarkets) with just about any liquid (recommend almond milk or coconut water) and some greens of your choice. Put in bowl and top with diced fruit, nuts, etc.

99. Cucumber salad Sliced cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper

100. Grated carrot salad Grate a carrot or two, add some bits of red onion and sprinkle with a mix of red wine vinegar and dijon mustard.

101. A softly scrambled egg, with a little freshly ground salt & pepper … simple and delicious!

Happy Healthy Christmas Salad!

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Happy, Healthy, Delicious Christmas Salad

Celebrate in holiday colors with this fresh-tasting snowy green and white salad.

This simple salad is drop-dead gorgeous AND a welcome break from heavier holiday standards! I love using a veggie chopper like the Alligator for this, because it makes perfectly even squares for a really pretty salad!

ENJOY!!

Salad
1 cup white quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups water
2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium white or yellow onion
1 cup very finely chopped green or red kale, any type, but chop super-finely, as you would an herb, or like parsley for tabbouleh
1 cucumber, finely chopped
crumbled feta cheese (omit to make vegan)

Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
two pinches sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 avocado (if available)
1/2 seeded jalapeño (if desired)

Cook the quinoa in the two cups of water (I’m guessing you have a favorite method already; if not, here is a great page about how to cook quinoa.

Cool the quinoa for a few minutes at least (can be cooked ahead and refrigerated). Toss together with the other salad ingredients, except feta cheese.

Combine dressing ingredients in your blender and blend for a few seconds until smooth.

This can all be done up to 4 hours or so before eating; add the dressing, sprinkle with feta and stir to mix, 30-60 minutes before serving to let flavors combine.

Feel free to add your own touches to this salad – it’s a great base. Try:
Mexican style: add pepitas, tomato, avocado chunks, black beans and corn, and cumin.

Mediterranean style: add oregano, olives, and herbs de provence seasoning.

Superfood style: avocado, winter squash, diced beets, pumpkin seeds and arugula

Jennifer M Silverberg liked this post

What is your “but”? (biggest healthy eating challenge)

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Most people say they want to make healthier food choices … but.

Question mark
What is your but?Marco Bellucci / Foter / CC BY

 

Are any of these YOUR but?

I don’t think I can afford to eat healthfully.  

What exactly is healthy and what is unhealthy, anyway?
I don’t have time to cook.
I’ve already tried and it hasn’t worked.  
My husband/wife won’t do it with me and I can’t make the changes alone.
I’m just too weak.

I’m only eating lowfat foods and I don’t know what else I can do.

 

I’m working on a project – a BIG BIG BIG project (that I’m really excited about) – and would love to hear more from you about your “but.”  PLEASE comment below – thanks in advance!

Great find at the Farmer’s Market: Freeze-Dried Fruits and Veggies!

Are you a patron of your local Farmer’s Market?  I seek them out in every city I travel to, and am lucky enough to find something amazing at nearly every one I visit!

Today, I’m in Celebration, Florida, where I found a stand run by a happy couple eager to pass out samples (my favorite kind of stand :-)) … they had freeze-dried fruit/veggie chips of all kinds, all made without creepy ingredients like preservatives.  I wish I’d taken a pic of their stand, but we’ll have to settle for a picture of the bounty.

Freeze-dried Farmer's Market Bounty

Freeze-Dried Farmer’s Market Bounty

I snapped up bags of lemons, limes, zucchini, mango, eggplant, pineapple, and kale, mostly naked, but a few with herbs/spices that took the food from tasty to amazing.

Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables retain much of the taste of their original fresh versions, though the texture changes to a chip-like crisp.  For some foods, that’s a loss, for others, it’s a gain.

But how about nutrition? Any form of cooking/storage impact the nutritional profile of foods, but freeze-drying does a pretty good job of preserving the nutrients.  Studies by the American Institute for Cancer Research show freeze-dried foods retain high levels of all phytochemicals and folic acid, and that freeze-dried foods retain more nutrients than dehydrated foods.  And with a shelf life of up to 25 years (yes, that is not a typo), you have a long time to access those nutrients!  Think of it this way … which will have more nutrients a month from now:  the rotten tomato on the counter, or the one that you dehydrated?  Easy answer, because you won’t eat the rotten one.

And speaking of “won’t eat it,” which provides more nutrients:  the zucchini that the kids push around the plate at dinner, or the bowl of freeze-dried zucchini chips that they destroy while watching a movie?  Easy.

In any case, I’m off to grab some of that pineapple to take on a long bike ride (it’s also super-portable).  This is going to be an amazing week of eating!