From scraps to scrumptious: Regrow your groceries!

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Mother nature always shows that when there is a will, there’s a way.

I never realized until I started gardening just how easy it is to grow food. Because life, in any form, is engineered to grow, live, and flourish. It’s just the design. And any living thing in nature is also endowed with a healthy sense of self-preservation, so that even in the most adverse conditions life persists.

And this lettuce pictured above is a good example. Now that summer is setting in, my partner and I are eating many more raw greens and a LOT of salads. While we throw a lot of the leftovers of our inedible green remnants into the compost bin, my partner and I decided to try and follow a Facebook picture post we saw recently about growing food from scraps. So we spared two romaine lettuce butts this week, and dipped them in the smallest coffee cups we own.

Even though the head of romaine was lobbed from its roots weeks ago and its greenery denatured for our benefit – simply putting its root stub in water is inspiring the circle of life to start all over again. See those teeny tiny green stalks coming out of the center of this head? That’s new life. And a new food source.

We are officially growing lettuce in our kitchen. And I guess we can officially say that we’re growing using the hydroponic method!

So give that a try next time you have have a spent lettuce, green onions, bok choy, carrots, potatoes, basil, ginger, garlic…try placing its roots in some water and place it in a window and let it do its thing.

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to foster life!

All hail the mighty pecan nut

pecans

Aaaaah, pecans!

These soft, buttery and nutty little packages of healthy nutrients have become my top favorite nut. It’s hard to believe that three years ago, I would have made a face at any nut on the planet. That’s what finding out what’s healthy does for you – you try new things and find out they’re not so bad!

These lovely nuts are native to North America, specifically around the Mississippi Valley. Archaeologists have found fossil evidence that pecans made up a good part of the diets of the native peoples here, though, in the northern areas of Mexico and Texas, which is believed to be the true “birthplace” of this popular nut.

Like any nut, the bulk of its taste stems from its fat content (110 percent of your daily fat value in a cup of pecans). But don’t run away screaming just yet. Nuts and seeds are predominantly monounsaturated (heart-healthy!) fats. While it’s still good to keep an eye on your fat intake, you can rest easy that a pecan will only improve your LDL(bad, or “lousy”) blood lipid levels.

Although its high fat/calorie count can make one a little hesitant, a pecan nut encases a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals, too!

A quarter cup of pecans contains 2.6 grams of protein, 3.93 grams of carbs, and 2.72 grams of fiber. It is also jam-packed with sterols, known for lowering cholesterol.

Pecans also provide a fantastic supply of B vitamins. In one ounce (19 halves), you get:

  • 17 percent of your RDI for vitamin B1
  • 6 percent of your RDI for vitamin B3
  • 5 percent of your RDI for vitamin B6
  • 5 percent of your RDI for vitamin B5

And pecans are little mineral powerhouses. One ounce contains:

  • 71 percent RDI of manganese
  • 38 percent RDI of copper
  • 19 percent RDI of molybdenum
  • 16 percent RDI for zinc
  • 11 percent RDI of magnesium
  • 4 percent RDI for iron
  • 3 percent RDI for potassium and selenium
  • 2 percent RDI for calcium

And of course, no healthy food would be worth its salt without sufficient antioxidants (vitamin E, betacarotenes (vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin, ellagic acid) to help stave off cancer cell growth and the reign of free radicals, as well as fights infection and other diseases.

Bet you’re really looking forward to your next handful of pecans! Need some ideas on how to include more pecans into your diet? Here are a boatload of pecan recipes for you to enjoy.

Happy Pecan Day!

Bacteria & Food: Is 5-second rule mankind’s undoing?

After reading this article, Scientists Study What to Do If You Drop a Cookie on the Floor, I began to think about mankind’s dilemma of “eat it or not eat it” after dropping prized, delectable morsels.

After reading this article, Scientists Study What to Do If You Drop a Cookie on the Floor, I began to think about mankind’s dilemma of “to eat or not to eat” after gravity takes hold of a prized, delectable morsel.

We’re surrounded by germs. It’s just a fact of life.

They live in our bed sheets. In our carpets. Our clothes. Our pets’ fur. Even on our skin (bet you can’t wait to go home and take a shower now, huh?). Anything warm and wet like a human body is a perfect breeding ground and Petrie dish for spreading germs and bacteria.

So why has the “five-second rule” been such a long-contested, shamed theory in eating habits? Animals eat off of the ground all of their lives, and they’re doing pretty good.

While yes, I admit that the many classes I’ve taken toting the dangers of bacterial growth in large scale cooking have dropped bananaa point, in my experience cooking for one or even two rarely results in food poisoning. In the end, I guess I have never been much of a germ-a-phobe when it came to cooking for myself, either.

Personally, I feel that the “five-second rule” is perfectly viable, and is primarily intuitive for three reasons:

  • We all know our environments. Are we more apt to pick up food that fell on our own floors than we would in a strange place such as a restaurant or out on a sidewalk? Most likely. Because we know how well or how often we clean floors, and what might actually come in contact with our own floors or other surfaces. We feel comfortable with that. Those other places, not so much. We’re most likely, then, to be at less risk in our own homes than anywhere else should we apply the five-second rule when no one’s looking. Unless you live in my house where you know that no matter how often you sweep or vacuum, hair off one of my three cats will be waiting in that exact spot and stick to fallen food better than breadcrumbs. It’s my cross to bear.
  • Bacteria needs water, warmth, and time to grow. If food has been sitting out for three or four hours on a summer day open to all sorts of elements, that’s just asking for trouble. But the amount that might possibly be on the floor I doubt is significant enough to worry about in the time frame it takes to go through our digestive system. I feel that’s true especially if we have a healthy immune system and gut to knock it out.
  • Which begs the question: How healthy or stressed is your gut and immune system? Is your body prepared to fight off even the smallest amount of bacteria? The risk in developing bacterial infections may be a little higher for children and the elderly for natural physical reasons. But for many adults, we should be plenty able to handle the germs in our environment. After all, evolution has created every possible line of defense to protect us against such things, from skin to our mucous membranes, to the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. But modern American lifestyles may be compromising and suppressing many of our defenses. And that can put us at a bigger risk. So, how healthy do you feel? Willing to chance eating that fallen meatball?

To learn more information on gut health or stressed and suppressed immune function, and how to manage your lifestyle and dietary habits efficiently and effectively to maintain optimum wellness, contact me for a consultation. The “five-second rule” should not be one of the biggest contenders in disrupting your health.

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When a recovering journalist/writer turned nutritionist goes book shopping

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“The Hungry Ear,” Poems of Food & Drink was my most recent book purchase. It’s probably my favorite book purchase ever.

Last week my partner and I had discovered a new used bookstore locally, and found ourselves in a toyland. We’re obsessed with anything that has pages sandwiched between two decorative flaps.

It’s the same every time: My partner immediately finds himself tugged toward the art or graphic novel section, and I toward the self-help, crafts or health areas. We’re pretty predictable, especially when we drop by the same Barnes & Noble each week. We know the layout of our world, and the countries (topics) to which we like to travel to, and wander off to our preferred fairylands to escape for a little while.

But expanding our horizon for the first time in a few months made us realize how sheltered we’d been, going to the same Barnes & Noble every few weeks, and just how limited their selection was (and how slowly they actually move their merchandise).

We weren’t sure where to start! And everything sounded interesting. For the first time in almost a year, I found stacks of books I wanted to bring home. I picked up sundry books and then put them down again that afternoon, trying to decide. My interests vary incredibly, and so did this store’s book collection. It was a match made in heaven. I approached some fiction, but I was drawn predominantly to reference, as usual. Crochet. Photography. Women in farming (yes, I even considered picking up that one).

But I then discovered the back of the store. I wandered over to a three-step staircase that led to a small dais area. It was a much larger poetry section than I’d seen in a long time. And, believe it or not, since I have on my vision board to “read more poetry,” I approached with intention rather than simply browsing.

A cursory glance through the rows of bindings like multicolored piano keys brought this title to my attention: “The Hungry Ear,” Poems of Food & Drink.

I read only one poem – and I was sold. I told my partner I could not be without it. I envisioned my book shelf at home, all jumbled, a tumble of topics and books thick and small: Nutrition and health book titles; textbooks; cookbooks; how-to healing books; gardening and seed saving; dictionaries (yes, that is plural); books on herbs and essential oils; grammar and editing; mythology; creative nonfiction, fiction, and screenwriting tutorials…

And then I imagined it with this one lone book of poetry about food.  I giggled with contentment. It was the perfect way to marry both of my worlds, past and future.

Reading other people’s passions about food made me want to start writing poetry again. And to re-experience cooking and eating from a different place. To analyze food sensations, and see what connections I make. Scientifically, they say that taste and smell are what we most associate with memories of places, people, moments in time. It’s not surprising, then, that so many people write about life in relation to food. It’s related to culture, family events, pleasure, and love. For me, food and expressing love for friends and family is nearly indistinguishable, as I had once blogged.

There may be plenty of muses and inspirational topics out there for art; but besides love and family, it seems like food tops the lot.

So, keep inspired everyone! And may your food taste like good poetry.

Impromptu hummus recipe

When you eat as much hummus as we do in our house, the concept of making our own began to look more and more attractive to me. We use hummus on our tortilla wraps, as a dip for veggies, and even whip it in with a little salad dressing for some added protein.

It was last week on our most recent food shopping excursion that I let my partner know that I was finally going to make some, “So go get the chickpeas.” He shrugged in mild acceptance, and wandered off to find out what on earth a chickpea was. But I knew he was happily anticipating the results of my newest culinary adventure. And I was greatly intrigued to see if my skills could create a concoction worthy of the name “hummus.”

We then searched the store high and low for our ingredients, including the very elusive tahini sauce. It was a hunt, but our efforts did not wither in vain. It found its way into our carriage and we happily skipped back home. While in my research I have not been able to ascertain why tahini is such a vital ingredient in hummus, I did discover that you can often substitute it with peanut butter. Not the processed stuff like Skippy, but the real stuff that is riddled with peanut oil, and therefore a tad bit soupy. The two, tahini and peanut butter, have much the same consistency.

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My first step was to soak the chickpeas overnight. The next morning, I washed them off and I threw them in the slow cooker on low for eight hours, covered in water, while I was at work. When I got home, they were the PERFECT texture for blending.

Then came the creative part. Rummaging through my fridge and spice cabinet, I came up with the remaining ingredients. Now those who know me, have heard me say over and over again – cooking is alchemy! Not a science. Science is very exacting, measured, tested and tested again. But me, I sprinkle spices and ingredients like a fairy sprinkles fairy dust – indiscriminately. And besides, we all have so many wide ranges of tastes, that one recipe may be great as written for some, but others like less garlic or more lemon juice…

So when I give you this recipe, it’s as close as I can estimate what originally went into the food processor – and the rest, I leave up to your judgment.

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1   Cup dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans

3   Cups water

3   Cloves of garlic (or season to taste)

1   Cup of fresh cilantro

1/4  Cup tahini

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1   Lemon, juiced

Olive oil (Drizzle)

Dried crushed chilies (season to taste)

1/2  Cup water

Take the ingredients above, put them all into a food processor along with a half a cup of water, and blend until smooth. Drizzle more olive oil, lemon and seasonings to taste, if you so choose.

And that’s my impromptu recipe. It came out nicely after refrigerating it overnight. I will certainly be trying it again.

Hummus is a very healthy. It is a fantastic source of protein for all of you vegetarians, and the healthy fats in the tahini and olive oil are great for regulating cholesterol in your blood. Garlic has always been known as an amazing food medicine, helping with immune system support and is an anti-fungal. Lemon juice is chuck full of great antioxidants and vitamins that help prevent cancer.

Overall, hummus provides iron, vitamin B6, manganese, copper, folic acid, and amino acids such as tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine that help with sleep cycles and mood elevation.

Add to that all those awesome fresh vegetables, and you are golden.

So dear reader, go forth, cook, and be vibrant!

Hummus

Today’s blog from the heart

Who is more important to you than, well, you?

Valentine’s Day always involves matters of the heart, and today you might try thinking about your own heart health. But are you a commit-a-phobe, afraid to make that promise to yourself to treat yourself well? Put yourself first? Check in with yourself, and make sure that you’re doing ok? Give yourself a pep talk when you’re feeling down or stressed out? Do goofy things to make yourself laugh? To be absolutely honest with yourself? To take some quality time for yourself, make yourself a nice, healthy dinner, go for and enjoy a nice, long walk, and then take yourself to bed afterward for much needed loving rest?

You may laugh, but you may also realize that you probably don’t do this as often as you should for yourself as you would for any other relationship.

As poetic as it is, February has been deemed Heart Health Awareness Month and nothing could be closer to your – well – heart, right? Your health, life longevity, and happiness is most likely the closest to the hearts of all who love you. So, just remember that you’re not alone if you want to start making changes.

And we all have changes of heart in regards to our current lifestyle for different reasons. You may be overweight and want to eat better. You may have an illness or three that makes you realize you cannot continue on the path that you’re on. You may have heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke in your family and want to head it off at the pass. Whatever your reason, it’s never too late.

What is the heart, though? Here is a quick video that gives you a basic understanding of the work it does for you, every second, minute, hour, and day of your life:
Amazing, huh?

 

And major causes for heart ailments can stem from three basic concepts:
  • Inactivity
  • High fat/cholesterol/salt diets
  • Stress

If any of that sounds familiar, than you may want to pick one of those and start taking baby steps to wellness. How?

  • Take a 10-minute walk every day.
  • Eat a new vegetable you’ve never made or heard of for dinner one meal a day.
  • Take 5 to 10 minutes every day to just sit quietly without the radio, TV, or distractions and just breath as deeply as you can, clearing the cobwebs of yesterday’s regrets, today’s jitters, and tomorrow’s fears.

Feeling better already, aren’t you?

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and be good to yourself and your heart today. Because you deserve it.

Are you a woman, and have heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure in your family? Contact me, Lindsey, at platefulofsoulLLC@gmail.com to find out how you can start your path to wellness. All women looking to start a heart-healthy lifestyle will get a discount on services for the month of February. 

Top 5 Healthy Tips for Super Bowl Sunday

You’re counting the days, and probably hours and minutes, until touchdown this weekend. But have you been counting the grams of fat and calories in your food, or better yet, the calories you may or may not be burning off on the big day? Here are a few tips for making your Super Bowl this Sunday a touchdown in the health department.

Continue reading “Top 5 Healthy Tips for Super Bowl Sunday”