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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category


Chronic over-scheduling is a habit I learned in college and am still learning to unlearn this habit. Does this sound like you or anyone you know? If so, you can probably list off the annoying consequences of an over-scheduled life. I’m all too familiar with them, which is why I am untraining myself. Over-scheduling has taught me many positive things too, such as how easy it is to say “yes” and how hard it is to follow-through when over-committed. Now, I choose my yes’ more carefully. Over-commitment also taught me how to be nimble and quick in the kitchen. Sometimes though, “nimble” + “quick” = blackened (burned) sandwiches because I decide that I can throw my clothing on while my sandwich is grilling. But for the most part, I’ve learned it wisest not to multi-task while cooking, and if I decide that I must (again, out of compulsive habit), I now mostly choose to multi-task on other kitchen activities so that I am near my cooking foods. Ultimately, I am striving to stop multi-tasking because it is less effective than uni-tasking, but the habit isn’t easily kicked!

This recipe is a way that you can prepare a quick quesadilla in less than ten minutes (if you don’t putz around). You can dress it up with salsa and a salad or just take it plain and naked with you for a little grab and go goodness. If you have the room on your griddle, complete both quesadillas at once. My iron skillet is a little too small for two quesadillas to lay flat side by side, but when I’m hustling, I squeeze them both in together and make it work!

On a side note, I will retire this wordpress blog by the end of May. I am moving all of my blog posts to my website: www.namastenutritionist.com. Please subscribe to continue receiving quality posts, podcasts, videos and more.

Enjoy the grub, homies!

Ingredients: Organic corn tortillas, 2 cups chopped kale, ~ 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, ~1/2 cup shredded jack or mozzarella (organic, of course!).

Place corn tortilla on a hot griddle (over medium heat). Pile it with ~ 1 cup of chopped kale. You’ll think this amount of kale is NUTS, but just you wait til you see the shrinkage!

Artistically line your sliced or shredded cheese over the kale and sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped nuts.

Cover pan with lid until kale wilts and cheese melts.

Voila! Melts in just a few quick minutes.

Fold over and press down with your spatula to seal the deal.

Serve with salsa and a sprig of celery florette, salad, or whatev. Or, take it naked as a grab ‘n go snack.

Please “like” this post and share with your pals.

My future posts will start showing up at http://www.namastenutritionist.com, so please subscribe to updates there!

xoxo

Love,

Frances

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I’m very excited because I have finally finished a cooking video for you. I had a lot to learn about shooting, editing, and producing. This video is in honor of colorectal cancer awareness month and my goal is to share with you foods and herbs that prevent or fight cancer. This is so exciting because we have our health in our hands. Nature provides us with a powerful pharmacopeia of medicines that rival anything modern medicine can provide. Don’t you think?

My goal in this video is to teach you a simple recipe using powerful anti-cancer foods. Please view, comment, share and enjoy.

Thanks for your support, my friend!

With love,

Frances

Enjoy!

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Simple tip:
The next time your bananas are speckling into an over-ripened state, try this simple trick to buy yourself a few weeks of time before using them:
  1. Peel each banana
  2. Slice bananas into coin shapes, about 1/2-inch thick
  3. Freeze in a clear container – a freezer bag or an old yogurt container will work

The next time you need a quick pick-me up or a sweet fix, blend the frozen bananas with any of the following ingredients:

  1. Frozen berries, milk or yogurt, and a little frozen juice concentrate;
  2. Peanut or almond butter, milk and cinnamon.

You can also mash the bananas before freezing. Then thaw and use easily for banana bread or other recipes calling for added sweeteners (just add a little more liquid to the recipe than is called for.)

Health tip:

Bananas are effective in helping reduce diarrhea. Banana flakes are sometimes used to bulk up loose stool.

Please share this post!

Hugs and Kisses,

Frances

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Happy New Year, Y’all!

Today’s post is to share with you a screamingly delicious spice blend that has grown into my household’s staple. I love spices because they flavor foods without threatening to leave its mark on your waste and hips. Any calories these spices add to your foods are negligible. What’s more? These spices each offer a dose of preventive medicine. So spice it up!

Use an empty spice container of any size. In equal parts, combine each of the following *ground* spices. Play with the proportions until you make it just right for you.:

ImageCinnamon

Cardamom

Clove

Ginger

Fennel

Nutmeg

Allspice

Shake until combined. I label mine “Francie’s magic blend”. We use it on hot cereal nearly every morning. It’s also lovely in hot milk or sprinkled on buttered toast. Add chopped dates and figs and a splash of real vanilla to your morning cereal. You’ll probably find you can reduce (or even omit) the amount of additional sweetener you use.

On a personal note, I hope you’ll forgive me for my recent blogging hiatus. I was juggling enough activity for 2-1/2 people to manage, and living out the sore impact that comes with taking on way too much. I’m mostly recovered from the “OMG, I’m Overwhelmed!” hangover. We all know how the story can play out, right? In fact, I’ve just sent off some of the Christmas presents Mike and I never got around to buying (thanks for understanding, Dad, Britt, and all of Mikey’s family).

In the next posts, I promise to tell you about the wonderful health benefits of each of these spices. Each of them deserves some special attention!

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Our right to good and healthy food choices is threatened by intense global demand for food and the increasing shortage of meeting this demand. But that’s not what scary to me. I’m upset and frightened that the companies who brought us some of our most toxic chemicals – hard-core pesticides, PCBs and Agent Orange – are now in control of our food through biotechnology. Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, and others are major players in our food system, oil our politician’s pockets, and help keep us in the dark on whether our food is contaminated with GMOs. Unlike in the European Union, in the US we are not afforded the right to choose clearly labeled foods about whether it is from GMOs. (You can bet that most food – including “natural” and even some “organic” foods are contaminated by GMOs.)  And we continue to be threatened as local and federal rulings throw the 1-2 punches at American consumers and our rights to make choices about exactly what we are consuming.

Don’t believe me? Read up on the latest news about Judge Fiedler who ruled that you do not have the right to choose your own foods. WTF? Yea, you read it right. Click on this link. Scroll to paragraph 2 of page 3 and the ruling on pg. 4. It states that one does “not have the fundamental rights to produce and consume foods of  . . . choice.” This ruling is the response to a case questioning whether farmers have rights to consume their raw milk from their own cows. If the farmer does not have the right to his own food choices, why would any average citizen have those rights? Just weeks after this ruling, Judge Fiedler resigned and went to work for Monsanto.

Have you read about Monsanto ruthless suing-sprees against small farmers and seed cleaners? Read this brief article, as it outlines the actions of Monsanto against small food producers and farmer support. Perhaps what’s most frightening is the revolving door between Monsanto and politicians. From Secretary Tom Vilsack, to FDA Commissioner Michael Taylor (also a VP at Monsanto), to Ag Trade reps and the Supreme Court powers, Obama is lining the halls with Monsanto’s faces. This means that Monsanto big wigs are writing the rules and regulations for our food, drug, and farming practices.

Jail time for growing veggies. Did you hear about Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan? City officials threatened her with 93 days of jail if she didn’t remove her front yard vegetable garden, even though there wasn’t a law stating it as criminal to grow a front yard veggie patch.

We are a hungry nation. According to the latest data, 19% of Americans are food insecure, which means that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. That’s more than 1 in every 6. Statistically speaking, this means that someone in your neighborhood, office, and church are going hungry. The stats for kids are worse: more than 1 in every 5 children is going hungry. How many kids are in your child’s class? Divide that number by 5 and you will have a conservative number for how many of your child’s schoolmates are going hungry. According to this report, US is now second in the world, only to Mexico, for food insecurity among children. Sesame Street recently took up this issue, in an effort to raise awareness about food needs among kids and their families.

How did we end up here? Rather, how can we prevent things from getting scarier and protect our rights to food sovereignty?  National Food Day is part of the revolution to support healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane, dignified manner. We all need to be concerned about the plummeting welfare of our current food systems.

The Goals of National Food Day:

  1. Support sustainable farms
  2. Reduce diet related diseases by access to quality foods
  3. Decrease food deserts by expanding access to food, thereby improving food security
  4.  Reform factory farms to support humane conditions for farm animals, farm employees, and the environment
  5. Promote health through increased access to nutritious and whole foods
  6. Curb junk-food marketing to children
  7. Reduce financial subsidies to giant agri-businesses

Take the Power Back!

What you can do today and every day:

  1. Buy local whenever possible. You can join a local CSA (community supported agriculture), local food co-operative, or visit your farmer’s markets.
  2. Grow something, anything! Start with herbs or a salad mixture. Lettuce and kale are easy to grow at this time of year. Grow more if you can. You can join in on a cooperative space for growing. You can also replace some of your ornamental greenery (like shrubs) with food-producing plants (like berry bushes or grapes). Not only is it beautiful to grow edibles, it is greatly satisfying.
  3. Cook. Prioritize it in your schedule. Budget your time for it. Commission help from your kids. Cook cooperatively with neighbors or friends. Do whatever it takes. Don’t know how to cook? Take a class. Buy a cookbook. Watch a You Tube instructional video. Buy Mark Bittman’s book “How to Cook Everything.” It’s not hard, but it does take practice, patience, and a sense of adventure.
  4. Inform yourself and inspire yourself. Here  are a few great documentaries to put at the top of your movie night list:
  1. Urban Roots
  2. Food, Inc
  3. Ingredients
  4. Fresh
  5. The Future of Food
  6. Here is a guide to more excellent documentary recommendations. 

Important actions for us, the consumers, to explore:

  1. Right now: Watch this Sesame Street video on childhood hunger.
  2. What would it take for you to cook at least one meal per day for your family?
  3. Why do you think that buying local is important? Can you aim to eat 20% of your foods from local sources within the year?
  4. What simple steps can you take to consume better foods today, at your very next meal?
  5. Get some perspective about the demands on our food systems. Let it inspire you to start growing some of your own foods. Watch this video from the Center for Food Integrity.
  6. Speak out about your right to choose healthier foods and know if what you are buying is GMO.

Please support the movement. Visit the FoodDay.org website to learn more and sign the petition in favor of the mission. And on behalf of all eaters today and in the future, THANK YOU.

 Did you like this post? Please tweet it, Facebook it, email it, and ‘like it’ on this page. I appreciate your support. Share your questions and thoughts below. Your insights and questions help us all to grow.

 

To our food rights and choices,

Frances

 

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As fall ripens and cooler temperatures sweep in, pumpkins begin dotting front porches and fences as we prepare for Halloween.  Decorating and scary-evil pumpkin faces aside, these ancient fruits are a super power against chronic and killer disease.  Pumpkin has proven itself worthy of cancer-fighting powers, specifically in decreasing the risk of prostate, breast, lung, colorectal and gastric cancers.  Despite being a high-carbohydrate fruit, research shows that blood glucose control is improved when participants eat plenty of pumpkin. In studies with rats, the oils found in pumpkin seeds reduce hypertension from advancing. And, the seeds are also wonderful because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which means they are a fantastic means of increasing your daily omega-3 intake. (Read about how to fall in love with omega-3’s here.)

Pumpkins come in all varieties, including white, red, gray, green, blue, striped, and heirlooms, as well as large and small. Their flavors are as dynamic as their appearances. They can take a humble background note in casseroles and soups, or they can proudly hold the center stage with vibrant flavors in main dishes and stand-alone side dishes. By giving yourself the opportunity to explore with these ancient and veritable fruits, you’ll not only excite your eyes and pallette, you’ll also support your immune system, your skin and eye health.

Personally, I enjoy sprinkling a handful of pumpkin seeds over warm cereal (such as cooked millet or oats). I also regularly add them to yogurt parfaits, salads, and rice-bean-veggie dishes, such as kitchari.

Pumpkin is great in soup. Try this adventurous recipe for Pumpkin-Curry-Coconut-Apple Soup from Crescent Dragonwagon in her famed book, “Passionate Vegetarian”. If you are short on time, buy the stock and use a little apple juice in place of water. Just read the ingredients list to avoid using anything with hydrogenated oil, trans-fat, or MSG, please. Buy something with ingredients that you can understand and pronounce, like carrot, potato, celery, etc. You get the idea. Pacific Naturals is a great company that produces organic soups and stocks. (Perhaps one of my upcoming posts should be on ways to easily make your own stock. It’s always cheaper and healthier, and it is faster than you might think!)

Find great pumpkins at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and pumpkin patches or pumpkin orchards. Remember, save some of your pumpkin seeds for next year. Pumpkins are simply delightful to grow, especially for kids, growing with giant enthusiasm, as if showing you how grateful they are for the opportunity, and require relatively little tending. Start them in the late spring or early summer. Plant raw seeds (not roasted or salted) in healthy soil and in a very sunny location. You can  train the vines to grow up alongside your home and onto your rooftop. Imagine what how cool your rooftop would look if dotted with pumpkins! If you decide to do this, you MUST send me photos, okay? Another important note is that they are up to 90% water, so pumpkins are thirsty fruits  and require a lot of water, and prefer to drink before the hot sun rises (before 11 AM). You can mulch around the pumpkin patch to reduce moisture losses, but you’ll still need to water them every day. Don’t skimp! Here is a charming and thoughtful article on how to grow your own pumpkins next year.  For the more adventurous gardener, try growing an heirloom variety. Follow this link for a free growers guide from a NON-GMO, heirloom seed company. Your prolific pumpkins will provide you with enough product to trade with someone who is growing another crop you didn’t grow this year. Growing will save you money, will nurture positive relationships through sharing and trading, and will sponsor a joyful communion with nature and traditions.

Do you have another pumpkin recipe or growing tip? Please tell us about it in the comments! Help readers to discover the tantalizing ways we can enjoy the exciting world of PUMPKIN!

Love you Pumpkin-Heads,

Frances

P.S. If you like this, please share this post with others you love via Facebook, Twitter, and Email!

Other Resources:

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Pumpkin Waffles Blog

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The thing about garlic is the way that it lingers on your tongue for hours, if not days, after its consumption. Garlic leaves its mark so powerfully that even the most sophisticated tools – toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and tongue scraper – fail to remove its mark. For someone like me, garlic’s sticky taste serves as an echo of the euphoria I experienced while eating it, and so I tend to enjoy its aftertaste. But for someone like the brave Acupuncturist and his two eager students examining my tongue, the echos of garlic I ate today were probably more reminiscent of a fermented stink bomb. What’s more is that they’ve asked me not to chew gum for at least 30 minutes prior to my appointment. And since I ate the garlic with stinky fish today, the fish caught my tongue, hook, line, and stinker, committing itself to my every breath for the rest of the day. Talking and breathing seemed to obnoxiously invade the collective space. For every breath that escaped, it fastened itself to every air molecule in sight, refusing to dissipate. Is it a good sign, or a sad one, then, that the Acupuncturist encouraged me to visit three times per week?

Fiesta Fish and Massaged Kale Salad - Originally, a brilliant idea.

Thankfully, my honey didn’t have a chance to notice my dragon breath because I smartly passed him a large plate of stinky garlic fish. This tactic works well because when both of you stink, it seems as though you both smell normal. Stink bomb breath goes unnoticed. Brilliant! Or, is it. Now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how his patients on the Medical-Telemetry floor of his hospital accepted him tonight. Oops. Hopefully they are sleeping and won’t notice whether he went to work today with a dragon in his mouth. Fingers crossed.

I can honestly say that I’ve learned from this experience. My first mistake was that I baked up stinky Dover Sole. It grew smelly because I left it in the fridge for at least a day too long. Fish is sensitive, and since I’m not that experienced with fish, I didn’t think about it much (I’ve just recently claimed the “part-time omnivore” badge, and am therefore still a beginner). Because this Sole was wild caught and $1 off per pound at PCC, I decided to buy just over two pounds, plus a full trout, on top of the salmon I already have in the freezer. (Later, when I learned that fish freezes poorly, I realized my naivety in thinking I would buy now, eat later.  I’ll need to have a large dinner party in order to get through all of this fish before the freezer burn scars its flavor.)

My next bonus mistake was eating stinky fish. We all know that you aren’t supposed to eat fish that smells fishy. But when you’ve just paid $7/pound of fish, and when you think about the fact that  these precious creatures died for your welfare, well, you can’t just throw it away. What a terrible waste and mis-use of life! So, I decided I would try Monika’s mom’s trick (Monika is my sister-in-law) – soak it in milk, and don’t drink the milk if you know what’s good for you. It didn’t work out so well for me, despite my high hopes. By the time I finished baking the fish, the entire house swelled with a thick layer of fish haze that left me certain I’d died and been buried in a sardine graveyard.

If I’d not used fish in this condition, I am confident that I would be writing mostly about the aromatic garlic and onion, not the stinky fish. Luckily for you, dear reader, you can benefit by not repeating my mistakes. So, when you have some fresh fish to use, you’ll love this Fall season recipe. It’s well served with kale salad and a side of whole grains, if you like. And because you’re using fresh ingredients, you’ll be celebrating the party in your mouth, instead feeling awkward about the dragon in your mouth, like I did. Enjoy the aphrodiasiatic garlic, which also might lends you a lovely “you smell healthy” aroma (as my late grandmother Elena used to put it).

Please try this recipe on fresh fish or tofu and let me know how you like it, or how you’ve improvised. If you enjoy this post and others, please give it a 5-star rating at the top and “like” it at the bottom.  Thanks for your support!

Sole with green tomatoes, garlic, onion, and strawberries.

Fiesta Fish Ingredients:

6 fresh fish fillets

2-3 medium Green tomatoes, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

5-6 large strawberries, chopped

Sauce (be willing to improvise here. Be bold and brave about trying on new flavors! Here’s what I did.)

1/2 cup butternut squash soup (leftovers. I started with almost 1 cup and had too much leftover).

1 tbsp mango butter (can use mango puree, strawberry jam, honey, maple syrup  . . .  going for a hint of sweet and adventure!)

1 tbsp curry powder (don’t hold back! This stuff is GOOD for you and your mouth)

1-2 tsp spicy chipotle (can also use black pepper, white pepper, lemon pepper, fresh diced peppers . . . you get the idea)

Give it a taste. It should be slightly sweet and spicy!

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Layer non-smelly fish in single-file (avoid stacking, which will promote uneven cooking). Drizzle healthy portions of sauce all over your fish. Sprinkle chopped veggies, garlic, and berries. Insert into oven when it’s reached full temperature and bake until fish is flaky (probably 10-15 minutes, but I didn’t watch the clock closely!). Serve with salad, such as massaged kale salad.

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