Posted in Healthy Eating, Recipes

Sesame Rice Noodles – Yum Delicious

img_2323Over the summer I was at a Pot Luck Party. I saw that someone brought some rice noodles with veggies. It was so delicious and I kept on eating it; probably about 3 helpings worth…..Shhhh don‚Äôt tell anyone. ūüėĄ. I‚Äôve periodically seen and bought rice

noodles at the deli counter, but now I’m thinking how hard would it be to make my own? Let me tell you it’s not hard at all.

Sesame Rice Noodles with Veggies
Ingredients

  • 1 pkg rice noodles
  • thinly sliced green onion (amount to your liking)
  • broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces (amount to your liking)
  • sweet red pepper, chopped (amount to your liking)

Sauce

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (more/less depending on your taste)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • ¬†4 tbsp organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red chillies

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix your sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  • Boil your rice noodles according to package directions until soft.
  • Blanch broccoli and red pepper 2-3 minutes
  • In a saucepan on medium heat, pour your sauce in and allow to cook, 3-4 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add in your rice noodles and veggies.
  • Ready to serve!

As far as the veggies go, use whatever veggies you like.¬† I just happened to have broccoli and red pepper when I made this for the first time.¬† Carrots, zucchini and mushrooms would also go well with rice noodles.¬† The reason I put “to your liking” for the amount of veggies is that everyone has different taste when it comes to the amount of something in a recipe.¬† I always look at recipes and think to myself:¬† How would I change it for my liking?¬† Experiment and have fun.¬† That’s what healthy cooking is all about.

xoxo Wendy

Posted in Food for Thought, Healthy Eating, Life in General

What’s To Become Of Whole Foods? Here Is What I Found Out.

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I’m a little late in posting this, but I wanted to wait to see what would happen after the acquisition.

Monday, August 28, 2017 was the day Amazon officially acquired Whole Foods Market. Amazon was very clear that prices would be slashed.

“Whole Foods Market will offer lower prices starting Monday on a selection of best-selling grocery staples across its stores, with more to come,” the company said in a statement.

I was very worried about this take over. ¬†My worries revolved around quality and customer service which are so very important to me. ¬†I buy strictly organic when it comes to fruit and vegetables. ¬†Would there be less organic produce? ¬†Would the quality of produce suffer? ¬† I often chat up the employees working in produce. ¬†From what I’m told, even a lot of their fruit and veggies labeled as conventional are organically grown.¬†That USDA Organic label is very expensive which is why many farmers choose to go without. ¬†I guess I will find out on my next shopping trip.organic4colorsealgif

Any canned goods I buy are organic and I look to make sure that the lining is non-BPA. ¬†Whole Food’s 365 brands are top notch in my book and I buy them often. They are the equivalent ¬†of the generic “store brand” ¬†What was going to happen here? ¬†Would their strict guidelines on non-BPA go away?

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Fish and poultry were also a major concern of mine.  The fish I buy is wild caught, not farmed.  I must say however, that they have very strict guidelines on their farmed fish.

Many people have concerns about farm-raised seafood…for good reason! A lot of harm has been done by poorly managed seafood farms. That’s why we decided to do something about it. We do farmed better. Fresh or frozen, we know where all of our farm-raised seafood comes from, and require third-party verification of water quality and dozens of other quality standards, including what it was fed, and what it wasn’t. Bottom line, all our farmed seafood is Responsibly Farmed seafood.

Be that as it may, I still buy all wild caught seafood. Would Whole Foods continue to have a wide selection of wild caught fish or would there be more farm raised fish?

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I make sure the poultry I buy is organic and free range. ¬†It’s important to me how these chickens are raised and what they are fed. ¬†Whole Foods has a strict 5-Step animal welfare rating¬† which I pay close attention to. ¬†Again, that same question about standards.

Here’s what I found out. ¬†When I went shopping this morning I anticipated sale signs to be all over the store. ¬†To my surprise that was not the case. ¬†In fact, none of the items that I typically buy were on sale.

Produce:  The only organic produce I saw on sale were tomatoes and avocados.  Some conventional produce seemed slightly lower.

Seafood:  A sight price reduction on farmed-raised, but wild caught prices remained the same.

Poultry: Organic, free range was status quo.  No price change.

At the check out line I was told that of the thousands of brands that they carry, only 75 items were on sale. ¬†WOW! ¬†No savings for me. ¬†This was not what I expected at all. Maybe my fears were premature, but only time will tell. ¬†After all it’s only been a week since the take over.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Farro? What’s that?

 

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Don’t ask me how or why, but some how I came home from Whole Foods with farro. What is this grain and what am I going to do with it? ¬†Well from the package front it says that farro is a good source of fiber. ¬†Okay…that’s good.

More research…I found out that farro is an ancient grain (in the wheat family) that has been around for quite some time. ¬†Thousands of years it seems. ¬†It almost resembles a wheat berry and when cooked has a soft, chewy texture. ¬†It is also loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Alright, let’s give this farro a shot. ¬†Now to find a recipe. ¬†I found a recipe on foodnetwork.com, but as always adapted it to make it my own. ¬†Winner winner chicken dinner! ¬†My family loved it. ¬†I hope you do to!

Farro with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups Farro
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 -2 cups cherry tomatoes, seeded and cut in half (amount depends on preference)
  • 1 sweet onion chopped and sauteed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Add the tomatoes, sauteed onion, and fresh basil to the farro, and toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.

The salad can be refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

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Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Let’s Make Granola!

I love granola! ¬†Whenever I have yogurt for breakfast I sprinkle it with fresh blueberries and granola. ¬†Sometimes I munch on it for a crunchy snack. ¬†I have been buying organic granola for a while now and I thought it was about time to try and make my own. ¬†It is so easy and really doesn’t take that long at all. ¬†Plus it’s less expensive to make your own.

For this recipe I used cranberries and raisins, but you can add whatever dried fruit you like.  Seeds are also a welcome addition.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled oats (I use organic certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free granola)
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cup raw nuts and/or seeds (I used sliced almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (if you‚Äôre using standard table salt, scale back to ¬ĺ teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¬Ĺ cup melted coconut oil
  • ¬Ĺ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ‚ÖĒ cup organic dried fruit, chopped if large (1 used 1/3 cup cranberries and 1/3 cup raisins)
  • 2/3 cup organic coconut flakes
  • Totally optional additional mix-ins: 3/4 cup chocolate chips ( I make a separate batch for this and omit the dried fruit.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, salt and cinnamon. Stir to blend.
  2. Pour in the coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 21 to 23 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  3. Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the dried fruit (and totally optional chocolate chips).
Granola is cooling. ¬†Don’t touch : )

After it is cooled completely, I transfer it to a bowl, break it into pieces and add my dried fruit and/or chocolate chips.  Here is the finished product! Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Voila!
Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad – A Summer Delight

This is one of my absolute favorite summer time salads.  It’s really quite easy to make and your family will love it.  It’s perfect for a hot summer night or taking to a BBQ.  I try to make this when the ingredients are in season for the best possible flavors.

 Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing:

  • 1 pint organic grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 ripe organic avocado cut into bite size chunks (not too ripe though)
  • 2 ears of fresh sweet corn cooked to your liking: steamed, grilled etc. and cut off the cob (use frozen if corn is not in season)
  • 2 tbsp fresh organic cilantro, chopped
  • diced red onion (optional)

Combine the sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and corn and honey lime dressing and mix gently so everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to mash the avocados. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors infuse.  It’s even better the next day.  Enjoy.

Honey Lime Dressing:

  • Juice of 1 organic lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp organic honey
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove organic garlic, minced
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

**Note that corn and tomatoes can be irritating if you suffer from inflammation.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Gluten-Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

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Nothing is more satisfying than the smell of homemade muffins wafting through the house. ¬†Today I just needed that homey smell. ¬†Yes! ¬†These are gluten-free. ¬†Although I don’t have a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten, I definitely notice that I become sluggish and I feel like my brain is foggy when I eat too much gluten. ¬†I’ve opted to go gluten free whenever possible.

So let me tell you about these muffins. ¬†I tend to use more fruit in my muffins which is why they appear flatter than normal. ( the fruit weighs the batter down) ¬†It’s just my personal preference. ¬†I always use fresh blueberries in my muffins. ¬†Frozen blueberries tend to make the batter runny making the muffins too moist and crumbly. ¬†When adding banana, make sure it isn’t too ripe. ¬†You want to be able to eat nice chunks of banana in your muffin!IMG_2252

I like to use organic ingredients in all of my baking and cooking. ¬†Sometimes that isn’t possible, and it’s okay! ¬†The gluten-free flour I use is King Arthur’s. ¬†It’s a rice based flour. ¬†I’ve tried different brands and this has proven to be the best, however it’s not organic. ¬†I always use organic blueberries; that way I know they are free of pesticides.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

  • 2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 organic, cage free eggs
  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups organic blueberries ( use less or more based on your preference)
  • 1 large, firm banana cut into chunks
  1. With a blender, mix the butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Add your flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.  Mix until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.
  3. Using a spatula or spoon, add your blueberries and banana into the batter.
  4. Line your muffin tin with muffin wrappers and fill about 3/4 full with the batter.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

The ingredients for these muffins is a basic recipe that I always use.  You can actually add any fruit you like.  Experiment with your own personal tastes.

Enjoy!

 

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating

How Much Do You Love Strawberries?

                     

                   

We do love our strawberries don’t we?  I know I do along with most berries, especially blueberries and blackberries.  Did you look at the infographic I posted above?  Astonishing right?  

I rely a lot on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) when it comes to any questions I have about produce/food or products I might buy.  EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. They’re goal is to provide information to protect your health and environment.   You should check out their website with the link I provided above. 

Back to strawberries!

According to the EWG, “Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in 2014 & 2015 contained 7.7 different pesticides per sample compared to 2.3 pesticides per sample for all other produce”

Pesticides = cheap, year round strawberries. 

Yay!  Hmmm not so muchūüėĒ. In fact, ūüė°. This is why I buy organic berries. If berries are labeled as USDA Certified Organic, you can be assured that pesticides were not used in the growing of the berries. There is a rigid checklist of standards that must be met before any product can be labeled as “organic”. Do yourself, your body a favor and buy organic when it comes to berries. 

Yes, you can wash your berries, but that does not eliminate the pesticides used.  Be mindful about those strawberries you love to eat!

Posted in Healthy Eating, Recipes

Shrimp Avocado Taco Salad

Now that summer is upon us, I’m always looking for new and healthy salads to add to my recipe list. ¬†This salad is quick and easy and can be served or lunch or dinner. ¬†It also saves well for the next day.

As you know, I cook with organic ingredients and when it comes to seafood I cook with sustainable wild caught fish and shellfish. ¬†If I have to buy farm raised, I make sure that it is responsibly farmed from WholeFoods Market or other grocery that meets the requirements of “responsibly farmed”.

This salad is perfect for a hot summer day with a tall glass of iced tea or sparkling water.  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think.

Shrimp Avocado Taco Salad

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado (not too ripe)
  • Cilantro, fresh

Combine the oil, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Mix well.  Peel the shrimp and add to the oil and spices.  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  Meanwhile, cut up the lettuce to your liking, slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and cube the avocado.  Arrange in a large salad bowl.  Cook the shrimp until pink, about 2-3 minutes depending on the size.   Arrange the shrimp over the lettuce.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and lime juice.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

In My Opinion: Cookies – Gluten vs Gluten-Free What’s the Difference?

There is a huge difference between gluten and gluten-free cookies (in my opinion), so don’t be fooled into thinking when you take that first bite that the two will be synonymous. There are key differences in appearance, texture, and flavor of gluten free cookies.

Appearance – When I bake gluten-free cookies they tend to come out thicker and round instead of spreading out like a gluten flour cookie. They also don’t brown as evenly like a gluten cookie does.

Texture – Gluten free cookies tend to be much more dense than a gluten cookie.

Flavor – This depends on the type of flour you use.  I use King Arthur gluten-free flour which is a rice based flour.  There is also Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour which  is bean based.  Almond flour  is also an option for baking

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If gluten is not for you for whatever reason, give gluten free cookies a try.  It’s a great alternative.  I have included a cookie recipe for you today.  This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour.

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325¬įF. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugars until smooth.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, beating to combine.
  4. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt, and add to the butter mixture in the bowl.
  5. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop the dough by the teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets; a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Leave about 1 1/2″ between cookies.
  8. Bake the cookies for 13 to 14 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, with slightly darker edges. Their middles may still look a tiny bit shiny; that’s OK, they’ll continue to bake as they cool on the pan.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven, and as soon as they’re set enough to handle, transfer them to racks to cool.
  10. Yield: about 56 small (2″) cookies.

Note:  You can always make larger sized cookies.  That’s what I do!

 

 

Posted in Healthy Eating

How Healthy are those Strawberries?

Who doesn’t love a fresh picked strawberry? ¬†Maybe you bought them from a local farm stand or farmer’s market. Better yet, maybe you picked them yourself at a strawberry farm.strawberry-farm-trans2

Not only are strawberries delicious, they are packed full of antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. ¬†Unfortunately, they have been listed as having the highest level of pesticide residue. ¬†Washing your strawberries in cold water can remove 75%-80% of the pesticide residue, but what about the 20%-25% left behind? ¬†Hmmmm. ¬†I’m sure you can imagine.

I remember years ago when I lived in Connecticut we had a “pick your own” strawberry farm that I used to take my boys to during the summer. ¬†I remember watching their faces as they would eat strawberries right off the bush instead of putting them in their baskets. ¬†Shhhhh! ¬†I also remember the red itchy rash we would get on our arms after picking. ¬†I thought it was a reaction from the leaves of the strawberry plant. ¬†In hindsight it was because the plants were sprayed with pesticides. ¬†If I only knew then what I know now! Today¬†this is why I only buy organic produce. ¬†I recently posted a blog called, Summer Veggies and Fruit – The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. ¬†This is a good resource to help you decide which¬†produce to buy organic.

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My husband recently came across a video of an organic strawberry farmer named, Jim Cochran. In 1987, his farm, Swanton Berry Farm, was certified by California Certified Organic Farmers, becoming the first organic strawberry farm in California. ¬†He has a farm stand and u-pick in Davenport, CA and a ranch for u-pick in Pescadero, CA. ¬† Visiting this farm is definitely on my ¬†“to do” list. ¬†I can’t wait!