Seriously Craveworthy Carrots

IMG_8343I was shooting for a quick, healthy way to cook a bag of organic baby carrots … and, OH did I come up with one! Can’t wait to hear if your family loves this as much as I do!

Grab a bag of baby carrots … and cut each one in half lengthwise (so they stay long, but are just thinner). I hear you groaning, but this takes about 4 minutes and gives you way more surface area, which you’re going to want.

Meanwhile (while you’re chopping the carrots), heat a large cast iron skillet up on medium high to high heat – as high as it can take. When it’s hot, add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and let it melt.

When melted, add the sliced carrots (see, that was fast, right?) to the pan and push them around so they are as much in a single layer as possible. Now the important part – DO NOT MOVE them for at least 3-4 minutes, or until you see charred bits developing on some of the bottoms. Really important – it’s the charring that makes a difference. Once the bottoms develop a char, stir them around a bit, let them char some more, and repeat until you’re starting to worry if you’ve cooked these carrots too much (you haven’t). At that point, turn off the heat, sprinkle the carrots with sea salt to taste, and cover. Leave covered for about 3-5 minutes, or until the carrots are fork-tender.

From this point, your choices are:
– Eat them exactly as they are (yeah, I’ve eaten them straight out of the pan, too :-))
– Sprinkle with your favorite vinegar or squeeze of lemon for acidity (my favorite – I LOVE the vinegar – kind of like smoky Salt/Vinegar chips, only clean eating!)
– Toss them in a bit of curry powder, and lime if you like
– Toss in hot sauce and honey

REAL Fruit Doesn’t Come “by the Foot.”

Real fruit rots, bruises, has odors and attracts flies. It also is full of healthy vitamins, minerals, living enzymes, fiber, and all sorts of things we don’t even understand yet! To hold onto its sweet goodness, you can freeze it, cook it, dehydrate it, ferment it into delicious kombuchas, or more … but for goodness sake (literally), don’t buy it in packages laced with chemicals, added sugars and fats, and natural/artificial flavors and colors! That’s not fruit, it’s frankenfruit, and your body deserves better.

Real Fruit

7 Tips in 7 Days: Eating Consciously, Day 4

It’s no secret that we’re a world hooked on sugar. In the US:

  • The average adult eats 130 lbs of sugar a year, which is more than 4 times what we ate 100 years ago.
  • The American Heart Association recommends an upper limit of 9.5 tsp of sugar per day, but the average adult consumes 22 tsp and the average child, 32 (yes, higher than adults!).
  • Added sugars (those not present in whole foods) account for 500 calories per day in the average adult’s diet.
  • Excess sugar intake is linked to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, acne, depression, violent behavior, increased risk of cancer, chronic fatigue, migraines, and more.
  • So, how do you break the addiction that the food marketers are desperate to keep you on? Here are a few important tips.
    7Days, Day 4: Eating Consciously

    Sources:
    www.onlinenursingprograms.com
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/08/30/how-much-sugar-are-americans-eating-infographic/

    Quick guide to sprouting!

    SproutingSuccessSprouting is a lot easier than it seems, and you’ll be amazed at how a tiny bit of seed can make piles and piles of sprouts for your sandwiches, salads, casseroles, etc. They’re also great by the handful as quick snacks!

    Be sure to involve the kids – you’ll be amazed at how they’ll want to eat the sprouts they grow!

    What Equipment Do I Need to Make Sprouts?

    A container
    Options are almost all affordable (<$20), and range from simple containers with built-in sieves to multi-tiered versions for sprouting several varieties at once. You can also use a simple glass jar with mesh/cheesecloth secured by a rubber band over the opening or screening fastened by a metal, screw-top ring, like this one from Amazon.

    Water
    Use fresh, clean water (non-chlorinated is best).

    Untreated seeds
    A few tablespoons of small sprouting seeds (like alfalfa or clover) to half a cup of seed (for large seeds like lentils or beans) are all you need to produce sprouts for sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. Sprouts will double or triple in size, depending on the size of the seed and the variety you are sprouting. Start small, to help ensure you don’t end up with sprouts going bad in your refrigerator. Seeds and mixes are available online from sprout and seed companies, from Amazon, or at your local health food store. You may want to try mixes that include more than one seed type, which can add a nice variety to your sandwiches and salads.

    To sprout

  • Rinse seeds under water to clean them and remove any dust or dirt.
  • Spread them evenly in your container to form a thin layer. Do not let them pile on top of one another.
  • Cover your seeds completely and soak for 6-12 hours. (Be sure to poke down any floaters.) This helps encourage sprouting.
  • Drain water from the seeds and keep moist. If using a jar, try laying on one side for more even distribution.
  • Rinse and drain 2-3 times per day. Rinse sunflower seeds more frequently, since they will get slimy. Rinse or pick off seed skins to prevent rotting.
  • After your seeds have sprouted, rinse and drain regularly (every 8-12 hours) until sprouts reach the desired length.
  • Eat fresh or store in the fridge until consumed. Most sprouts last 1-2 weeks when kept cool.
  • Average Number of Days to Finish Sprouts
    Lentil Sprouts: 3-4 days
    Mung bean Sprouts: 3-5 days
    Radish Sprouts: 4-5 days
    Mustard Sprouts: 3-6 days
    Alfalfa and Clover Sprouts: 5-6 days

    Six Ways to Hook Kids on Real Food

    6 Ways to hook kids on real food

    With the world (meaning, food marketers) trying their best to hook your kids on their junky packaged foods, you’ve got to fight back hard! And we know – you’re already busy just trying to get your kids to school/practice/lessons/play dates/etc. … you don’t have time to give them food lectures (and lectures don’t work, anyway)!

    Here are 6 fun, simple ways to help break the hold the food companies have on your kids, and instead hook them on healthy, amazing, REAL food:

    1. Grow Food: Even if you only have room for a small pot of herbs in a city apartment, involving a child in growing has been shown to pay lifetime dividends in vegetable consumption. A child who helped grow the parsley will HAPPILY urge the whole family to taste their very own parsley salad.

    2. Introduce kids to “ingredients” in their native form: If you’re making soup, keep little bits of the raw ingredients aside for a “tasting session,” then have them try to identify the celery, the onion, the carrot, etc. in the soup. Discuss how cooking changes the texture and flavor of the ingredients.

    3. Keep herbs/spices and interesting condiments on the table, and encourage experimentation: I learned this when I left cinnamon on the table, and my son added it to an almond butter sandwich. It turned out to be a great flavor combo, and he gobbled down the sandwich that “he” had made. Hot sauces, flavored oils, fun spices like ginger and vanilla, and other tasty add-ins will help build interest and creativity around the whole foods you’re serving, and help kids personalize their food.

    4. Build a family cookbook: Encourage kids to take pictures of their favorite meals/dishes (get family members in the pics, too!), name the dishes together, and keep them in a photo album. Keep it in the kitchen as a frequent reminder of the great real food family times you’ve had, so your kids learn to associate real food with great moments.

    5. Celebrate with Real Food! Don’t fall prey to the seductive marketing message to use celebrations as an excuse to eat junk. That sends exactly the wrong message: that these foods are “rewards,” and these false “rewards” become anchored in the pleasure centers of your child’s brain. Instead, celebrate by making extra-beautiful, extra-fresh meals together during the holidays and other special days.

    6. COOK TOGETHER: Nothing else will make your child more immune to the marketer’s siren song about “convenience” than this. When your child knows that an egg can be cooked, a salad can be tossed, a veggie can be braised, or a smoothie can be blended in literally minutes, you give them the tools and the tastebuds they need to resist the call of the microwaved Frankenfood that marketers want them to buy.

    Most of all, make real food a centerpiece of loving family moments, and kids will grow up associating real food with great family feelings.

    Six Ways to Hook Kids on Real Food, by Jennifer Silverberg, Eat Yourself Well

    Popeye’ Secret Smoothie – Delicious Spinach Smoothie

    Delicious Spinach Smoothie - Eat Yourself Well

    Popeye’s Secret Smoothie

    Maca, yogurt, and lime combine to make this refreshingly citrusy – banana adds luscious texture and sweetness. Your kids will love to “drink like Popeye!”

    All of the following measures can be used approximately and altered to fit your taste.

    Yield: 2

    Lots of spinach!

    Ingredients:

    2 loosely packed cups spinach leaves
    1 cup coconut water
    1 banana, preferably frozen
    1 lime, squeezed (2 if there is very little juice) – or if you don’t have a lime, use lemon
    4 tbsp raw organic maca
    3/4 cup yogurt, plain (regular or coconut, for a vegan version)
    1/4 cup chia
    2 dried figs
    Honey or maple syrup to taste, if you like your smoothies sweet

    To Make: Add all of the ingredients to a high-powered blender, and mix. Tamp down as needed to make sure everything blends completely. Taste and adjust sweetness if needed. Enjoy the rush of power!

    From Jennifer Silverberg at www.EatYourselfWell.com and facebook.com/eatyourselfwell Please maintain link as you copy and share recipe with others!

    Don’t let candy marketers in your Easter basket! :-)

    EasterHey … just to let you know … someone else, someone without your best interest at heart, is trying to grab hold of your Easter and make 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 mentioned this to 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 = junk in 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!

     

    Why I am in a Food Fight (against Junk!)

    I will not stop ... until filling her with junk food is just as socially unacceptable as giving her a cigarette.

    Why do we not give cigarettes to kids? Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.

    Why do we not let them drive a car? Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.

    Why do we not give them drugs? Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.

    Why do we not send them off to school full of toaster pastries (candy disguised as breakfast?) Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.

    Oh, how I wish that last one were true. But somehow our culture has slipped, we have lowered our collective bar, to the point where we don’t even think it’s odd any more to:

    And when a parent tries to call foul on this bizarre behavior, he/she tends to be viewed as “extreme,” and to be hear they should “let kids be kids.”  OK, pass them a cigar – they may like that, too.

    Instead, what if we could find a way to tune out the words of the food marketers (whose job it is to increase consumption of their brands – not to increase your health) … and to instead make independent, informed choices for what to feed our families and ourselves?

    What would our meals look like?  What would our kids’ snacks look like?  And what would be the impact on our collective health?

    I believe we can reverse the trend in child obesity rates, which have quadrupled, from 5 to 20% in the last 30 years, along with hospitalizations of children due to obesity complications.

    I believe we can reverse the highly related Type 2 Diabetes crisis (healthcare costs of $110 billion in 2011, projected to rise to nearly $157 billion by 2017).

    And, call me crazy, but I think this can and must happen quickly, overnight, even.  Let’s effect a culture shift that makes healthy choices the norm … the “default” behavior, and makes unhealthy choices uncomfortable.

    If you are a parent, you can help be a driver of the shift.   Bring beautiful, healthy snacks and meals when called upon by your school.  Demonstrate that in-season fruit, water (maybe flavored with some fresh fruit?), and veggie snacks will be gobbled up as quickly as junk food, but with FAR better long-term results.  And at home, cook, or at least assemble!  If you start with whole ingredients like vegetables, grains, eggs, etc., and keep the focus more on vegetable sources, it is incredibly hard to make unhealthy meals.  It’s the so-called “convenience” foods that come pre-packaged, pre-measured, pre-sliced that are most dangerous to your family’s health.  Think:  making your own chips vs. buying them in bags.  You may have them from time to time, but the volume would be drastically reduced.

    If you are an educator, make your classroom a “marketing central” for a healthy lifestyle.  Kids who look at appetizing pictures of fruits and veggies all day tend to choose and eat more of these foods at meals!  And for goodness sake, please ask parents to send only snacks that support health.

    If you are a doctor or nurse, PLEASE don’t be afraid to suggest that families limit their foods to those made from fresh, whole ingredients.  It’s not “fringy” or “crunchy” … it’s based in science and just makes sense.  Years ago, a few words from a pediatrician helped call my attention to a dietary choice I was making (for “convenience”) that compromised my children’s health.  He made a huge impact on our lives.

    If you are an influencer of others – and this includes all celebrities, athletes, journalists, bloggers, etc. – please wield your influence wisely.  Since you have to maintain high energy for your high-impact life, you probably already make awesome food and lifestyle choices.  Be public – very, very public – with them.

    And whoever you are, for yourself, as you go through your day, ask yourself whether each food choice you’re about to make supports or damages your health.  If it is damaging, exercise this opportunity to hold yourself to a higher standard … to tell yourself a new story about your value, and what your body deserves by instead choosing foods that are healthy and life-affirming.

    It really doesn’t take many good choices before they suddenly start to be the easy norm for you … and even those around you!

    Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits

    This is not a fussy recipe – feel free to experiment and learn what you love the most – it will ALL be good.  For example, I used freeze-dried pomegranates in the last batch and they added a great sweetness and an unexpected extra crunch.  If you have a favorite nut butter, you can add it instead of – or in addition to – the nuts. Think about seasonal flavors as well!

    This is also a great recipe to make with kids – they can use their (clean) hands to mix.

    Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits from EatYourselfWell.com

     Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits

    • About 4 cups grains; oat flakes, barley flakes, wheat flakes, rye flakes or similar 
    • 2 handfuls of seeds; for example, sunflower,  hemp, chia, pumpkin.
    • 2 cups nuts;  for example, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.
    • ½ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1/3 -1/2 cup sweetener: maple syrup, honey, agave, or brown sugar
    • Optional: 1 cup dried or freeze-dried fruit; for example,  cranberries, apple, strawberries, banana, raisins, plums
    • Optional (but delicious!):  handful of cacao nibs
    • Optional: Spices of your choice: cinnamon, vanilla, etc.

    Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

    Place the nuts, seeds, grains, coconut and dried fruits (if using) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to break up and mix.  (Do not over-process, or you’ll wind up with nut butter!)  Move to a large bowl.  Mix the melted oil and sweetener (and spices, if using) in a smaller bowl, then add to the big bowl and toss really well with a big wooden spoon – or a couple of kid hands plus your own.  

    Form into spoonful-sized bits and place onto a large, parchment-lined baking sheet.   Tap them down to flatten slightly. Bake for about 40 minutes, but watch carefully for the last 10 minutes or so, and take out when they look lightly browned and feel firm.

    Store it in an airtight container for up to three weeks (at least, I think so … it never lasts that long for me). 

    From  Jennifer Silverberg at www.EatYourselfWell.com and facebook.com/eatyourselfwell  Please maintain link as you copy and share recipe with others!

    Strawberry Lies: What’s NOT in your food may surprise you!

    quakerYour strawberry-loving kids had Quaker Strawberries and Cream oatmeal for breakfast, with Hershey’s Strawberry milk. Strawberry Fruit Gushers for dessert for lunch, and Straw-Banana-Rama Double Crush Cup Yogurt for an after-school snack. At practice, they drank Kiwi-Strawberry Vitaminwater, and then had Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups after dinner.

    So how many strawberries did they eat, for goodness sake? EXACTLY NONE.

    Confused?  Read on, and follow the links to credible sources for ingredients, if you want to check for yourself (and you should)!

    I’m picking on strawberries, but this is by no means limited to them.

    Crystal Light’s “Natural Lemonade” mix doesn’t even contain a single drop of lemon or lemonade (though it does include under 2% of “lemon juice solids, meaning solids extracted from lemons and then turned into a powder)!  Please tell me what’s “Natural” about that?

    kraftguacamoleKraft sells a “guacamole dip” that contains less than 2% avocados.

    Knorr “Pasta Sides” Chicken Broccoli Fettuccini has more corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, and salt than there is Chicken or Broccoli.

    WHAAAAAAATTTTT?

    These food marketers are counting on your being too busy (and trusting) to worry with reading the label.  They think that because they add fruit flavors or colors, you’ll be duped into buying their products and feeding them to your families.  And unfortunately, for many of us, they’re right.

    If a blouse were marked as “silk” but then you found out later that it was imitation silk, you’d return it.  If you stopped for your morning “coffee” but then later learned it was made of a colored water that was flavored to taste like coffee (but didn’t have any of coffee’s physical or nutritional characteristics), you’d be up in arms.  So why are we giving food marketers so much leeway with chemical colors and flavors that help THEM save money, but dupe us every day?

    How to Fight Back

    1.  Read labels.  Don’t assume that because you see it on the label, it’s in the box.  Or that if it’s not on the label, it’s not in the box.  

    2. Avoid buying packaged foods.  I know, it sounds extreme, but it’s actually easier than you think.  Stay away from the middle of the store – shop the periphery, where most non-processed food lives.  Buy strawberries rather than strawberry-flavored gook.  Make a game of it for a week, just to see how you do – you may be surprised at how simple and tasty your meals become!

    3.  If you’re going to choose a packaged food, choose the simplest one the brand offers.  As an example, next time you’re in the grocery store, compare the ingredients in Triscuits (whole wheat, oil, and salt) to the ingredients in any other Triscuit flavor (too long to list here, and includes MSG, ugh).  Or compare regular Quaker Oatmeal to the “strawberries and cream” abomination mentioned above.

    Here’s one more for the road:  Snyder’s of Hanover Eat Smart Veggie Crisps claim to be “A bountiful blend of potato, spinach, and tomato chips.”  However, they boast more potassium chloride than spinach.   Doesn’t sound very bountiful to me.