Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cooking Tools That Make My Life Easier

I'm a whole foods kind of gal, and I make a lot of my own meals and snacks from scratch every weekend in preparation for the upcoming week. This weekend I was on a roll and made more than usual, because I was excited to make a few new recipes. I learned to make yogurt with my new yogurt maker, made some yummy almond power bars, and my favorite of all time - cheesy kale chips which are vegan - and I might add - addictive!

It's great to have these time-saving tools to help me out so I have time to spare to enjoy the rest of my weekend.  Once I'm done making my delicious and nutritious meals, you'll find me at the beach or hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. Last week, I went to Malibu beach with my sister and two nieces. We ran in the water, enjoyed some sun for probably the last time this season, and then walked across the street for some fresh seafood. Eighty degrees in November! How I love southern California! We are so spoiled.

Cuisinart Food Processor/Blender
I use my handy dandy food processor to make almond flour, cashew cream, cake and cookie batter, .... this gadget does it all. It will chop, knead, slice, grate and blend.

The blender attachment - I use this almost every morning to make my protein shakes. Add a little milk (or alternative milk), protein powder, and get creative with nut butters, cocoa powder, fruit, flax seeds etc. and you have one nutritious meal.

I've had my processor/blender for more than 12 years and it's still going strong. This 600-watt motor can handle almost anything. If you cook several times a week or more, this will be one of the best investments you can make.

Mini Cuisinart Food Processor
The food processor family would not be complete without the baby version. How I love this little guy.  Its great for small jobs like chopping herbs, onions or garlic, making mayonnaise, aioli and dressings, pesto, and best of all it doesn't take up much kitchen space.

If you want to julienne carrots and zuchinni, make waffle fries, slice onions and tomatoes, shred cabbage for sauerkraut or beets for kvass, and do it all in a jiffy, you need one of these.  Easy to arrange and clean after use, your family and guests will love your meals and lovely presentations made possible with this gadget. Tara at Feels Like Home has a post about all the things you can make with a mandoline.  Check it out here.

Yogurt Maker
I love making my own yogurt!  I don't like most store-bought yogurts - too much sugar and additives.  In less than 15 minutes of prep, you can put your milk and cultures into these perfect serving-size jars and let it go to work in an afternoon or overnight depending on how tart you like your yogurt.  You can use regular milk, coconut milk, etc. If you have kids, they may enjoy helping you make this.  Best of all when its done, you get to add whatever you want to the yogurt.. berries, banana, apples and cinnamon, use it to make dressings, tzatziki, sauces etc.  So good and good for you!

This yogurt maker is affordable and includes easy to follow instructions.

You'll need to buy yogurt cultures.  I buy all of my cultures from Cultures for Health, and many other people in the whole health food community like them, too.  Their website has a variety of different yogurt cultures to choose from, as well as cultures for kefir, bread making, you name it they have it.

Click her to Make Yogurt at Home

Waring Pro Juicer
This is a mid-grade juicer, but it works perfect for me.  I use my juicer every couple of weeks to make green juice.  My favorite right now is:  kale or spinach, celery, carrots, green apple, ginger and lemon.  It's a good detox drink for a weekend breakfast especially when I've overdone myself eating too much junk during the week.  Hey, it happens sometimes, and my liver and kidneys need some help.

If you don't mind spending a bit more, the one below extracts the pulp for you and is easier to clean, and gets great reviews, too.

Tip:  Instead of throwing away the veggie pulp which still contains nutrients and fiber, check out Erin's blog Plan to Eat which gives some great ways to use the pulp.  Zuchinni and Carrot bread, even sneaking veggie into your kid's mac n cheese. Brilliant.

Crock Pot
Love love love my crock pot.  Who doesn't love coming home to the delicious smell of dinner waiting for you?  I use my crock pot to make traditional chicken and bone broths quite often.  Yesterday I made some Galbi, an Asian marinated short rib (beef or pork).  We plan to eat these tonight with some brown rice and kimchee.  They smell so good I can't wait!

The Crock-Pot below has several settings, and a setting to keep your food warm when it's ready and you're not.  It also has a portable crock with a securable lid to take your food to a family gathering at a park picnicor a holiday pot luck.

Emulsion Blender
I guess I could use my Cuisinart blender to puree soups, but then I'd have to pour the hot soup in and out of the pot, which can be cumbersome and dangerous. I'm asking for an accident. Instead, I use this easy to use and clean tool when I want to make sauces and pureed soups.  This week I will be making a butternut squash sage soup with some of the chicken broth I made in my crock pot, and will also use some cashew cream that I made in my food processor. The Emulsion blender blends in a matter of minutes, incorporating all of the ingredients together.

Over 1,300 reviewers average this Cuisinart emulsion blender four and a half stars.  One reviewer calls it the Audi V8 of the blender world.

I picked a zester up at Cost Plus World Market for about $9.  I love this thing!  Much better than a cheese grater, it creates a finer zest which means more flavor added to your soups and sauces.  Use it to grate citrus zest, hard cheeses and ginger.  I use a lot of ginger in Asian dishes, and get a lot more flavor using a zester.

I believe this is the same one I have.  More than 77 reviewers gave it five stars on

These tools can help you create meals in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take.  Even if you enjoy cooking, I can bet you have other activities you want to get to, like spending time with your family at the beach!  No beach?  So sorry, you should really move to Southern California.  Wait! I take that back - we have enough traffic as it is.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why I Eat Organic Food

A few days ago the mainstream media released details of a study by Stanford University, in which findings state that little evidence was found organic foods were more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. Ya don't say?? I honestly never thought there was a significant difference nutrient-wise. And by the way, Stanford doesn't define what they mean by "significantly nutritious" in their study.

Why I Eat Organic Food

Monday, September 3, 2012

What I Ate This Week

I was shopping at my local grocery store, filling my cart full of veggies, meats and nuts, when a fellow shopper looked in my cart and commented, "You must be on that Atkins diet." I explained to him that I was not on a "diet," rather a lifestyle that most call Paleo. I told him I don't eat grains such as wheat, rice, or beans and that I get my fiber from all of the vegetables and (occasional) fruit I eat. I told him that I believe most animal fats are good for you. He said that sounded hard and expensive to do and he didn't know what he would do if he couldn't eat bread, pasta, potatoes or rice. I explained that a diet full of vegetables and protein keeps you full and satisfied, and I feel healthier making the change. As most of us who follow Paleo know, most grains lack many nutrients and even contain anti-nutrients like phytates and can actually promote inflammation. In the case of simple carbs like potatoes, white rice and processed flours, they can exhaust your pancreas with over production of insulin resulting in weight gain and degenerative diseases like diabetes. For more information about why grains should not be a staple, check out Mark's Daily Apple article "Top 8 Most Common Reactions to Your Grain Free Diet and How to Respond." I think it covers many of the bases and will help you respond to people who have many questions, especially because grains have been part of our diets for a long time, albeit you are not getting optimal nutrition.

If you've recently decided to start this lifestyle, but need some help through the challenging phase of figuring out what to eat for each meal of the day, this post is for you. Keep in mind that I am not always a die-hard Paleo follower, and some of these recipes may have dairy or the occasional potatoes or rice, but that is usually to accommodate my non-paleo partner (I'm still working on him, wink wink) or for those readers that are just gluten free and not necessarily Paleo.

What to Eat?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil Giveaway!

Why I Love Coconut Oil

I love me some coconut oil. Using organic, unrefined coconut oil is a large part of my initiative to live a greener, healthier, and more natural lifestyle. Since I started using it about a year ago, I rarely use anything else. It's benefits and uses are endless. I use it for cooking and baking, lip gloss, skin and hair moisturizer, and more. What's great is that there are no icky chemicals and preservatives like many other products on the market. If you ask me, less is more!

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil Giveaway
I'm excited to announce that Tropical Traditions will giveaway a quart of this healthy, unrefined oil to one lucky winner. When you sign up for their newsletter (one of the requirements to enter the contest) you can be the first to receive specials and sales they are offering.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Refreshing Summer Salad Recipe and a Bit On Raw Foods

It's definitely summer and in most cities, temperatures are climbing into the triple digits. Which means that the last thing most people want to do is come home after a hard days work and cook over a hot stove.  I usually want something easy to put together that is light and refreshing, with lots of fresh veggies and a bit of protein to satisfy my appetite.

Salads are an easy meal with little prep time, and an excellent way to get a good variety of your daily raw fruits and vegetables.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Health Benefits to Traditionally Fermented Foods

Did you know that the health of your digestive system is crucial to your overall health? In fact, the two go hand in hand.  About 80 percent of your immune system is thought to stem from your digestive system.

Don't think you have a gut imbalance? Have you experienced IBS or indigestion, constipation, food allergies or hay fever, reoccurring illnesses, depression or a general lack of energy? Research shows that an absence of good gut bacteria (usually caused by a poor diet and the affects of antibiotics - I have personal experience with this) are related to all of these health concerns. And most of us in modern society have taken more of our fair share of antibiotics, which wipe out both bad and good bacteria. There are also recent studies that connect autism with gut dysbiosis.

You might be saying, "I already eat yogurt." Sadly, and although marketed so you believe the opposite, most mass-produced yogurt and kefir products do not contain enough live or active cultures. Most manufacturing processes do a heat-treatment after fermentation for longer shelf life, which kill a large amount of the lactic-acid producing bacteria that is crucial to benefiting our overall digestive and immune health. Not to mention that dairy pasteurization has killed off most of the immune-boosting bacteria, which is why I prefer making my own raw yogurt.  I'll save the topic of raw vs. pasteurized for another blog. These pasteurized milk products are usually filled with sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, which can add to bad bacteria growth.

So what can you eat to promote a healthy digestive system?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Where Does Your Food Come From?

Last night I was pulling produce out of my refrigerator in preparation for dinner.  Most produce I buy organic for health and environmental reasons. But even though I was eating pretty healthy, I looked at the labels on some of the packaging and realized most of the produce has been shipped from Mexico, and in some cases Europe or South America. Eek. It made me wonder how long these veggies had been on a plane or truck, and how much pollution this contributed to the environment. Also, I've realized that some of this produce doesn't last very long in my fridge; carrots and zucchini seem to get rubbery in just a few days after buying, so I have to eat them quick. Who likes spending their hard-earned money only to have to throw out food a few days later? Not me. So what is the solution?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I Support Naturopathic Medicine (and some history)

History of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine has a long history. Hippocrates was a supporter and an advocate for naturopathy.  In the 1930s and 40s, naturopathic medicine declined due to penicillin and other modern medicines, but has made a comeback in the last few decades.  People are seeking alternatives to invasive treatments and western medicine, and as such many insurance companies continue to add and cover naturopathic doctors. Currently, sixteen (16) states have licensing requirements.

But what exactly is naturopathic medicine?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recipes (and Websites) I'm Loving Right Now

Today instead of giving you a recipe of my own, I decided to blog about many of the current recipes - and websites - I'm digging right now. There are so many great food blogs out there and these are just a few that inspire me to eat healthy, and they make it really easy because this is truly delicious food my friends! Most of the recipes below are gluten-free, Paleo, or both.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Homemade Almond Milk...... and a Paleo Brownie Recipe

Boo - Hoo. My funky digestive system cannot tolerate dairy. It's not lactose or casein intolerance, rather a gut dysbiosis.  If you've read my blog before you'll know all about about my food angst. I'm hoping someday I will be able to enjoy blue cheese on my cobb salad and parmesan on my spaghetti (with spaghetti squash noodles, of course!) But not to fret, as I have a great stand-in. For "cheese" I usually make some cashew cheese and season it according to what I am making (cream cheese, cheese for pasta etc.) For my smoothies, coffee, and baking, I usually whip up some homemade almond milk and add in a small amount of organic coconut milk and -Voila! Instant "milk."

You ask, "Why would someone want to make almond milk when you can buy it at almost any local store?"  Well for starters the health benefits are far greater when making your own, and is much kinder to your wallet. So then, is it difficult or time consuming to make?  Nope. Au contraire!

Read on readers to learn how easy it is to make your own almond milk free of chemicals and preservatives - and some brownies, too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Green Pasture Giveaway

This week is a blog (and giveaway - yay!) about the benefits of fermented cod liver oil and high-vitamin butter oils.

While researching supplements and health sites to help heal my digestive issues, I came across the Weston A. Price group on I found many people who were taking cod liver oil and became intrigued. Once I learned more about it, I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did. My energy levels are up, immune system is more responsive, and I can't say that I mind clearer skin and stronger hair and nails.

Interested in reaping the benefits from this traditional food?  Keep reading......

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Is Sugar Toxic?

Over the last few years there has been a heap of news on the evils of refined sugars. Many physicians and researchers are now stating that refined sugars can take a serious toll on your health. It is estimated than more than 35 million deaths could be contributed to sugar.

One health trend over the last 3 decades is the low-fat craze. But in order to make these fat-free, tasteless foods more palatable, sugar is added. These low-fat, sugar-filled foods have not seemed to make a difference, as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers are still on the rise.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What is Stevia?

At the advice of my doctor and because regular sugar encourages growth of bacteria and would further my dysbiosis, I am using Stevia extract to naturally sweeten any desserts or drinks I make. I have been known to have a sweet tooth, so Stevia has been a lifesaver.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paleo Almond Garlic Rosemary Crackers

These are the best no-grain, low carb, "paleo" crackers. I kid you not. And they are so easy to make.
Whenever I am looking for a savory, crunchy snack, I whip these up in less than 20 minutes - this includes the time in the oven!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Raw Cashew Cream Cheesecake

I tried the Earth Cafe raw vegan cheesecakes recently, and I really enjoyed them. But due to my gut dysbiosis, my body was not happy with the sugar. So, resourceful me, I decided to make my own.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Should restaurants have to provide an ingredients list when asked?

Other than rush hour traffic (sigh), I love living in my busy little community of West Los Angeles. Located near Sawtelle Ave. and Olympic Blvd., the area I live in is a "Little Tokyo" area of sorts. There are many sushi, noodle houses and kushiyaki restaurants, artsy boutiques, a cool little Japanese coffee place where they roast their beans in-house, and a touristy knick-knack store with oodles of Hello Kitty goodies.  Normally when my digestive and immune system aren't failing me (like it currently is) I'd be slurping up a bowl of soba noodles or eating some beef satay. But sadly, many private eateries will not divulge their ingredients, even to someone like me who has a dietary reason. Others are just not knowledgable in dietary needs.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Earth Cafe Vegan Cheesecakes

I was looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth without being detrimental to my health, since I'm currently on one of the most restrictive diets to starve my candida problems and improve my digestion.  I came across Earth Cafe Cheesecakes. They sell these in single serving containers in stores (you can also buy a whole cheesecake on their website online). They carry their cheesecakes at Whole Foods, Ralphs and most health food stores: I think I've seen them at my local co-op food store too.

To quote their site, "Living (raw), vegan, wheat/gluten free, cholesterol free, and tastes amazing." And it really does. Taste. Amazing.  And they have the food awards to prove it.