Simplify the season

Thanksgiving….check…….Black Friday….check.  What now……Christmas cards, gift buying and giving, parties, food prep, family and travel. AAAAHHHHHH!  It’s enough to make you go crazy!

Such a short amount of time to do all of the things that come with the holidays. Here are my top dozen ideas that help keep me sane.

1. Do your Christmas cards on Thanksgiving weekend
2. Decorate your house for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend
3. If you buy gifts for people out of town, buy online and have the company ship and gift wrap for you
4. If you struggle what to buy someone for Christmas buy them a gift basket of healthy snacks that they can eat themselves or use for their visitors
5. If you run out of time to shop for someone special, give them a hand written certificate to take them shopping AFTER Christmas so you two can enjoy a day together too
6. If you have close friends/family who are against materialism of the holiday, take them out to dinner or a show, or better yet, donate to their favorite charity
7. If you insist on having a party or hosting Christmas at your house, cater in or make it a potluck to reduce your work
8. If you insist on cooking during the holidays, do something less traditional that’s easier to make, or select a menu that can be made in advance
9. Make all your plans early in the day so you are not out so late you lose sleep
10. Pick your fun events close to home rather than travel like going to the local tree lighting
11. When flying, book the first flight out in case it cancels so there are more flights for you to get on rather than getting stuck overnight
12. Reduce your trips out by consolidating; going to the post office early, dropping miscellaneous things off, shopping for non-perishable first and then stocking up on food for a month rather than a week leaving only tiny shopping trips for missing items

I really hope this gives you some ideas on ways to simplify your life this holiday!

Thankful for food

Now that Thanksgiving is here, it’s a good time to get refocused.  I always like to do traditional things and during Thanksgiving I like to list what I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful to have my friends and family.
I’m thankful to have my health.
I’m thankful to have a job.
I’m thankful to have the ability to make good decisions.
I’m thankful I learned how to simplify my life.
Most importantly, I’m very thankful to have good, nutritious food on my table every day.

We should be able to enjoy a delicious holiday spread while being mindful of those who can’t. It’s that time of year to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing. If you haven’t already, help out a charity that gives healthy meals to the less fortunate so they can enjoy a tasty meal too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry sauce is fat free…a recipe for success

Okay, so I don’t want to be a false advertiser.  Yes, cranberry sauce is fat free, but it is NOT sugar free. However, if you are trying to reduce fat and cholesterol, you can’t go wrong with cranberry sauce as a healthy part of your Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberries are also low calories, have vitamin C and higher levels of antioxidants than most all produce.

That chunk of cranberry sauce that you get out of a can isn’t good enough for me. You want to get a little more nutritious value out of it…..don’t you? Remember, closest to it’s natural form means better nutrition. All that processing reduces the benefits. To help you, I’m going to give you a recipe for cranberry sauce that will not only taste great, it’s also soooooo simple! So simple that if you aren’t a cook and you are asked to someone’s house for Thanksgiving, this is the side dish to offer up. You can make it early and leave in the fridge until you go.

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
1 – 8 oz clamshell of cranberries

In a saucepan, mix water and sugar until dissolved and cook at medium high until boiling. Add grated orange peel and reduce to medium, letting the mixture reduce a little. Add cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop open from the heat.  You can actually hear them pop! The mixture should be thickening up a little at this point. Turn the temperature off, let it cool and boooom…… just made cranberry sauce!

Happy eating!

Tomato Bisque Soup Recipe

It’s fall and there is nothing better to take the chill away than a nice hot bowl of soup. The only fat in this recipe comes from the milk, and you can sub skim milk if you want less. There is a lot of vege action here so it’s vegetarian, healthy and the fiber really fills you up!

12 roma tomatoes (heirlooms are the best)
1 qt water
1 red onion chopped
8 cloves garlic
3 stalks celery sliced
1 large carrot sliced
1 potato peeled and diced
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 tsp dry sweet basil
1/4 cup whole milk (if you want to lower fat use skim milk)

Wash tomatoes and place in large stock pot, covering with water and bring to a boil. As the skin starts to loosen, peel away from the tomato and place back in the pot. Add remaining ingredients except milk. Simmer 45 minutes until vegetables are tender. Blend mixture in blender or food processor, pour back in pot. Add milk and simmer until soup is as thick as you prefer.


Gluten Free is easy

Being gluten free is easier than you think. The majority of food is naturally gluten free. It’s the way people process and add to their food that makes it difficult to eat 100% gluten free.

So rather than worry about how hard it is, let’s get the mind set needed to make it simple. If you eat at restaurants or eat pre-packaged foods, then you let in potential sources of not only gluten, but also additions that may not be healthy for you. The mind set for any healthy diet is to eat foods closest to their natural form so you know what’s in it.

For example, for dinner you can eat a piece of meat, a vegetable, and a grain such as rice. Add a little seasoning and you’re good to go! You can mix up what meat, vegetable and grain you have day to day.

For dessert you can have a piece of fruit fresh, baked, or even pureed and frozen into a 100% fruit sorbet. I recently found a website that had a recipe for ice cream that was made from just bananas! Fruit crisps, cobblers and crumbles made with wheat flour alternatives are the best! I’ll post a recipe soon.

You can use this method with all your meals. Breakfast can include an egg, glass of milk, a piece of fruit and cereal. I prefer 100% natural grits but they do take 15 minutes to cook. On work days I like quick cold cereal which means buying something processed. This means reading labels. A few of my favorites include Chex and Nature’s Path Corn Flakes and Sunrise Mesa.

In order to add things like muti-ingredient seasoning and salad dressing, it is important to read your labels. Gluten can be hidden in ingredients with such names as ‘modified food starch’. Gluten is used as a thickner so can be found in an endless numbers of packaged foods and sauces. Your best bet is to purchase products that are labeled Gluten Free.

The good news is that most people don’t have true celiacs disease so don’t have to eliminate ALL gluten. Your ability to avoid major sources of gluten is easier. Reading every last ingredient isn’t necessary for you.

If you can get in this mindset of eating, you will not only make it easier to eat Gluten Free, you will also enjoy the benefits of eating a healthier diet in general!
Give it a try. I hope you like the results!

Recipes to come!!

Pumpkins…their not just for Halloween!

Okay! So you got some pumpkins for Halloween and may have even made a jack-o-lantern out of one. What now? Wait until they rot and toss them out? NONSENSE!

We seem to forget that no matter what you cut out of your pumpkin, it is still an edible nutritious miracle! It’s packed with Vitamin A, E, C and B6, Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Iron and Phosphorus. It’s also low in calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium.

The most memorable miracle I found from pumpkin is what it did for my very sick dog. The poor thing had terrible food allergies and food shot right threw him. While we were narrowing down what foods caused his allergies, we went through a lot of canned pumpkin! It helped slow down the butt problem.

Now you’re probably wondering how pumpkin fixed the problem. Well……this may seem backwards, but pumpkin is very high in fiber. If you are having digestive issues, adding fiber will actually improve your situation! Honest! I’ve tried it!

So you don’t want to toss away this orange beneficial bit of produce. Cook it! It’s easy! If you haven’t already, cut the pumpkin open and scoop out seeds. You can bake the seeds with salt at 220 degrees and get a whole different set of health benefits from them. Cut the pumpkin into large piece and bake in a 350 degree oven until tender. You can test it with a fork. Once done you can add a little butter, cinnamon and sugar and eat it like you would a sweet potato. Or you can puree it in a blender or food processer and use it to bake with. My two favorites are pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. One hint….if the puree is slightly runny, strain the puree to reduce the liquid. For pumpkin bread, use a banana bread recipe replacing the banana with pumpkin. For pumpkin pie, just replace the canned pumpkin with real pumpkin puree in any recipe.

If you are like me, you will become addicted to the taste of real pumpkin and never buy a can of pumpkin ever again!

Hey…Thanksgiving is right around the corner!