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Top 10 Healing Herbs and Spices

15 Dec

“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.” ~Hippocrates

Roasted Curried Cauliflower courtesy of NomNom Paleo. Find the recipe here.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower courtesy of NomNom Paleo. Find the recipe here.

As I watched “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” I remembered how many healing herbs and spices are present in Indian cuisine. Herbs and spices not only add flavor and pizzazz to vegetables and meats, but they serve as a halo for your health too. There is a reason why some of the oldest cultures in the world use these spices and herbs in their daily cooking. I listed them below in no particular order, but for the benefit of eating to your good health. Cheers!

1. Cayenne: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cancer-fighting properties, increases metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar levels.

2. Garlic: antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, increases heart health and wards off vampires

3. Tumeric: aids digestion, anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties

4. Ginger: aids digestion, anti-inflammatory and soothes upset stomach

5. Oregano: anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant

6. Cinnamon: increases heart health, stabilizes blood sugar levels, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and high in fiber

7. Cloves: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial

8. Coriander Seeds: aids digestion, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and calms mood

9. Sage: increases brain power and mood, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stabilizes blood sugar levels and cancer-fighting properties

10. Rosemary: decreases fatigue and increases brain power

 

Word of Caution: as awesome as these herbs and spices are, it is always critical to consult your doctor or health care practitioner to ensure they don’t interfere with your medication or health issues. For example, some of their healing properties do include thinning the blood and dilating blood vessels.

Bakers Gonna Bake: 5 Tips for Healthier Holiday Sweets

8 Dec
My own stash of liquid gold for special occasions aka blueberry muffins.

My own stash of liquid gold for special occasions aka blueberry muffins.

…as if you aren’t already sweet enough.

Cookies will be baked and brittle will be broken this holiday season. So, why not make your holiday treats as amazing as possible with a lot of love and a little less blood sugar imbalance.

1. Liquid Gold. Practice swapping processed refined sugar for the real deal. Try using local honey, pure maple syrup or low glycemic coconut nectar and coconut palm sugar. Conversion: 1 cup refined sugar = 3/4 cup liquid sweetener. If you are using the coconut palm sugar, which is a fab replacement for brown sugar, the conversion is 1:1.

2. Go Herbal. You can really lower calories and the glycemic load by replacing your processed refined sugar with stevia. This natural herb is low glycemic and just 1 tsp of powered or liquid stevia equals 1 cup of sugar (1 Tbsp of sugar = 1/4 tsp powered stevia or 6-9 drops liquid). The Sweet Leaf Stevia brand is a great choice. NOTE: using too much will leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste.

3. Go Nutty. Since most recipes call for processed refined flours which jack-up your blood sugar levels, try using lower glycemic almond or coconut flour. For incredibly yummy recipes utilizing these flours, please visit Danielle Walker’s and Elena Amsterdam’s websites.

4. Cut the Crust. Channel your inner 4-year-old and skip the crust. Bake individual ramekins filled with your favorite custard or pie. Not only does it control portion size, but it adds a sense of fancy-pantsness to your meal. Yes, that is a real word… to me.

5. Chocolate Black Out. Melting dark chocolate (70% cacao or more) and dipping fruit, almonds, cashews or hazelnuts in it is the Bee’s Knees! Not only is it lower in sugar, but it is super easy too.

Wishing you and your family a tasty and healthy holiday season! Steph

French Green Beans with Shallot Red Pepper Vinaigrette

24 Nov
IMG_1979

Served with seasoned grass-fed beef (minced shallot, oregano, thyme, basil, fennel seeds, bay leaf, sea salt) and kalamata black olives.

Side dishes do not need to be complicated, especially during the busy holiday months, but life is too short for them NOT to be delicious and healthy. Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

 

Ingredients:

2 lb French green beans

1 Tbsp Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, finely minced

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1. Place clean green beans in a steamer basket (set in a large stock pot with boiling water) and steam for 8 minutes or until tender, but not mush. Remove and place in an ice bath or run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Pat dry. Set in large bowl.

2. In a bowl (or dressing shaker), whisk the remaining ingredients. Pour desired amount on green beans, toss and serve.

3. Serve them as a side or mixed in as one dish (as shown in photo). Toasted walnuts, pecans or slivered almonds are also a nice option.

Mindful Eating for the Holidays: A Guide to Ditching Food Shame and Elastic Waistbands (Part 2)

17 Nov
IMG_1974

An eye-pleasing foundation to my Mexican Chicken Soup: celery, broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers and garlic. Pretty to look at, healthy for my body and tastes delicious!

You’ve just finished a fun dinner with friends and can’t possibly think about eating any more… that is, until you are presented with the dessert tray–a glorious presentation of apple crisp, pumpkin pie and brownie sundae topped with hot fudge sauce and candied walnuts. You order dessert, even though you are full, and  finish every last bite.

… And then it begins, “Why did I do that? I’m such a pig. I shouldn’t have done that. I feel horrible. I wasn’t even hungry, but it looked so good. Ugh, I’m disgusting.”

You’ve just experienced the strength of eye hunger, one of eight hungers we possess, compounded by your nagging inner critic (does that dude EVER take a break?). The typical American will gain 5-7 lbs over the holidays and eye hunger has a lot to do with that, so let’s explore why this little booger hampers our holiday bliss and what we can do to keep our eye hunger working for us and not against us.

First, let’s define it: Eye hunger is when you become hungry looking at food (via in person, on TV or in a magazine) or reading a recipe, even if you just ate. Many studies have proven that our eyes will override our mouth, stomach and body. For instance, subjects at a movie theater who were given stale popcorn ate it just because it was there and they could smell it. It didn’t even matter that it tasted awful.

So, over the holidays when you are surrounded by mounds of delicious turkey, mashed potatoes and caramel pecan pie slices, use these helpful tools to satisfy your eye hunger without eating double and feeling miserable.

1. Create beauty. Our eyes appreciate beauty, so use pretty plates, napkins and table decor.

2. Surround yourself in beauty. Get out in nature, savor your favorite piece of art, look at pictures of your beloved, listening to soothing music.

3. Cook and eat food of various colors, textures and shapes. Arrange it beautifully on plates and bowls. It takes just as much time, but with a little extra thought, it can make a huge difference in improving your food relationship (and health).

4. Use a small plate. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, a 1/4 with protein (meat or vegetarian based), an 1/8 with starch (potatoes and grains) and an 1/8 with healthy fats (you can also skip the starch if you have diabetes, Celiac disease, etc.). If it is a holiday or special occasion where dessert is served, consider sharing your dessert with one or two people. Or consider a healthier dessert such as dark chocolate dipped strawberries. Ummm… yes please!

Now it is your turn! The next time you buy groceries, practice purchasing vegetables of every color to ensure eye satiety (green, orange, red/purple and yellow/white). If you don’t eat a lot of vegetables, then do it with fruits and vegetables such as making a roasted vegetable salad with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower served with a protein and eating red grapes for dessert. Now that’s a feast to behold!

If you missed part 1 of this series, check it out here!

Mindful Eating for the Holidays: A Guide to Ditching Food Shame and Elastic Waistbands (Part 1)

10 Nov

Have you ever finished your Thanksgiving meal feeling bloated, guilty for what you “shouldn’t have eaten” and wishing you had on expandable panel pants with fart-blocking odor technology? Sucks, doesn’t it? Feeling miserable is no way to spend your holidays. So let’s cut the self-loathing and bring Holiday Cheer back with mindfulness.

Mindful eating is not some woo-woo foodie concept. All it means is to be aware of the nourishment that real food provides us without the judgment and criticism (aka enjoyment!). And it starts by paying attention to what our body is telling us (not our mind).

So let us reclaim the wisdom of our body, shall we? Rather than ignoring the signs of suffering that is evident in the farting, burping and bloating, let’s help our body ditch the Rodney Dangerfield complex and show it a little respect.

The next time you eat a meal, listen to your body and take note (buying a special journal for this works best) of how you feel. If you feel energized, satisfied and your skin is glowing–your on the right track. If you feel sluggish and your poop smells like last weeks rotting cabbage, don’t judge and berate yourself for what or how much you ate, just say, “Sorry body. What can I do differently to feel and look better next time?” And that’s when you’ll check out my handy-dandy chart below to make small changes to feel awesome!

Action Jackson: Practice listening to your body now, so when Thanksgiving rolls around, you’ll have a more attuned idea of what portions and what types of food work well for you. If you need more personalized support, shout me a holla’ down at stephsbell@yahoo.com and we can work together to help you reach food relationship bliss.

Digestive Symptoms_Page_1

Digestive Symptoms_Page_2

Bison and Black Lentil Chili

3 Nov

IMG_1973A bowl of chili on a crisp night with a classic book soothes my soul–bonus points for a crackling fire. I like my chili hearty, so it’s loaded with vegetables and can easily be made vegan/vegetarian by replacing the ground bison with an extra cup of lentils.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground bison (or grass-fed beef, turkey or chicken)

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 small red onion, diced

6 carrots, chopped

2 red bell peppers, diced

2 heads broccoli cut into florets

5 celery stalks, chopped

1 cup dry black lentils, rinsed

24 oz jar crushed tomatoes, low or no sodium

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, low sodium

1 tsp sea salt

20 turns cracked black pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp dried oregano

2 Tbsp chili powder

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions:

1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, brown the bison and drain the fat.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Allow the soup to simmer for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Serves 6-8

How to Throw a Halloween Hootenanny 101

20 Oct
Austin Powers needs his teeth back! Check out the apple and almond butter recipe here: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/green-meanies-recipe.htm#

Austin Powers needs his teeth back! Check out the apple and almond butter recipe here: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/green-meanies-recipe.htm#

Let it be said: I am from the generation that slayed vampires as opposed to falling in love with them and letting them sparkle (it must be noted that Buffy the Vampire Slayer did produce some enjoyable vampires in Angel and Spike). So there’s that. Now, let’s enjoy Halloween minus the guilt, shame, upset stomachs and sugar comas!

 

Here are 2014’s Tips for a Halloween Hootenanny to Remember…

1. Bring Nature In. Rather than decorating with candy corn, use acorns, apples, or leaves to add a homey vibe to your fall decor… or (un)lively things like mummies, zombies and spiders. Whatever…

2. Let it Glow! Swap the spider cupcakes and bloody cookie fingers in your gift bags for a G-rated Rave and hand out some glow sticks.

3. Work Your Thang. Build special memories with your kids and show them (and yourself) that play is fun and important for a healthy body. Start the night with a Mini-Monster’s Ball before your dinner. Play the Monster Mash and other fun Halloween tunes and dance your little vampire heart out. After dinner, join the kiddos and walk house-to-house with them while they trick-or-treat. Take turns thinking of different ways to get to the next house… maybe you do the Igor Foot Slide, the Boogie Man Boogie or the Headless Horseman Trot.

4. Bat Wings, Brains and Barf. Doesn’t that menu just scream “Eat Me!?” Plan a fun Halloween dinner that will actually excite the kids to sit down and eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating. Think chicken “bat” wings, scrambled “brains,” carrot “fingers” with almond “fingernails” (stick the slivered almonds on the carrots with a little hummus), or guacamole vomit (bonus points for extra chunky and having it come out of a pumpkin or other figure) with vegetable dippers.

5. Savor Your Sweets with Enjoyment and Pleasure. It is Halloween, have your favorite candy or cookie or dark-chocolate dipped carameled apple and enjoy it in the company of your family or friends. The key is to not just devour it, but savor it. Eat it slowly, taking time to notice all of the flavors, colors, textures and feelings. Make it a game and see who can eat the slowest. The more we enjoy food, the less power it has over us and the better we realize that one actually is enough.

6. Spread the Love. Allow your kids to choose 10 pieces of their favorite bite-size candy (a month supply at two pieces per week). Allow them (and yourself) to have one or two pieces of candy that night. Place the remainder in the freezer, picking one night during the week when they may have two more pieces of candy. This will give all of you something to look forward to and know that you aren’t depriving yourself of your favorite sweet treat. After they choose their candy, bag the rest and donate it or throw it away. Many organizations and dentist offices will collect the candy (and some will pay you for it) and donate it to troops overseas. Go to http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com for a list of participating businesses.

Whatever you decide to do this Halloween, laugh often, be safe and enjoy the little moments in life.