Every Little Bit Counts

My daughter and I have a saying… “Do it in stages” – and this helps with making big lifestyle changes as well as conquering those projects that overwhelm.

While I don’t always hit the mark on all fronts nutritionally-speaking,  the goal of creating a healthier environment for my family is still going strong.

I have come across a couple of simple changes which can help to improve our health overall and both have to do with detoxification. I always thought detoxification involved nasty tasting drinks, painful massage or worse. I’m happy to report that there are less dreaded things we can do to remove some of the nasty stuff our bodies come into contact with.

 

Air Purifying Plants

I have never had a green thumb – My plants often have near death experiences and  I have joked that I am well acquainted with plant resuscitation. Now I have a new motivation for paying better attention to my green friends.

My school lessons taught me well about the benefits of green for the purpose of carbon dioxide removal, but I wasn’t aware that plants are also good for removal of toxins as such as  formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and others.

1. Bamboo Palm: According to NASA, it removes formaldehyde and is also said to act as a natural humidifier.
2. Snake Plant: Found by NASA to absorb nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde.

3. Areca Palm: One of the best air purifying plants for general air cleanliness.

4. Spider Plant: Great indoor plant for removing carbon monoxide and other toxins or impurities. Spider plants are one of three plants NASA deems best at removing formaldehyde from the air.

5. Peace Lily: Peace lilies could be called the “clean-all.” They’re often placed in bathrooms or laundry rooms because they’re known for removing mold spores. Also known to remove formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

6. Gerber Daisy: Not only do these gorgeous flowers remove benzene from the air, they’re known to improve sleep by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off more oxygen over night.

 

Now that your air is pure, how about removing some heavy metals from your body?  Research has shown that parsley and cilantro are excellent at detoxifying heavy metals from your body. There are many articles on the benefits of parsley and cilantro on the web  – http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/detox/cilantro.htm http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/cilantro-chelation-therapy-heavy-metal-detox.html for example- and the possible health benefits range from fewer bouts with colds and flu,  less build up of plaque on blood vessels (heart and brain benefit) as well as possible removal of cancer causing free radicals.

Cilantro is excellent in salad, thrown into soup and green curries, and as pesto to spread on bread, tossed in pasta or stuffed into a chicken breast.

Heavy Metal Detox Pesto Recipe – (Thanks to Homesteading/Survivalism page on Facebook)

Heavy Metal Detox Pesto Recipe:
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium source) or macadamia nuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine source)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium sources)
1 cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 cup parsley
2/3 cup cold pressed olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice (Vitamin C source)
Big pinch of sea salt and or dulse flakes to flavor.
Soak the seeds and nuts overnight to release the enzyme exhibitors. Process the parsley, cilantro (coriander) and olive oil in a blender until chopped. Add the garlic, nuts, and seeds, salt/dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Store in dark glass jar. It freezes well also if need be.

Enjoy

 

 

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South Africa, believe it or not hosts the 2nd largest population of Indian people after India, of course. This has given me exposure to some seriously amazing food! Putting a healthy twist on the cuisine and keeping the delicious flavours is a challenge, but there are some great options to make it fresh and healthy. FrugalFeeding, one of my favorite blogs on food, has a great recipe we have done over and over. The addition of light coconut milk gives it a Thai twist if you like. I just had to reblog for those of you who love curry like we do!

FrugalFeeding

Before we start, I must admit that this is a re-blog of an earlier post of mine which has now been removed. I shall be doing this with a number of my earlier recipes over time as, since the date of their original posting, they have been significantly improved. This curry received the “special treatment” because it is such a fantastic recipe which I have, in the past few months, perfected. Indeed, I now genuinely understand what it takes to make a simply fantastic curry. First of all, don’t hold back on flavour – pack it full, or it shall only disappoint. Secondly, cook it for a significant length of time – this helps the flavour of the spices really develop. Thirdly, cook each type of meat in a different way – chicken needs to be added a mere 10-15 minutes before serving, while beef or lamb needs to be…

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Easy Tamale Pie Made Healthy

One thing we have missed since living in South Africa is South American food. Our home town in the States had  a population of people from south of the border, and the cuisine readily available was magnifico. I am always on the look out for food that we can make with ingredients we have available, but it’s not always easy.

Tonight’s dinner was a first time shot at a recipe in my new Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I was given as a gift this year (imported from the US, of course). It was a huge hit. Conversation around dinner was “You haven’t made this before…. please don’t stop”. 

A few alterations made it a little more nutritious and didn’t take away from the flavour or texture of the dish. Next time I will add more green peppers and maybe sneak in some extra grated veggies on the sly such as zucchini (marrows) and carrot.  I am sure that corn would also be a nice addition.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 lb minced chicken breast (leave out for a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder (more if you want extra zip)
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • 1 can kidney beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed
  • 1 can cannelleni beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed (substitute black beans if available)
  • 1 can pinto beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed
  • 2 c. tomato juice (or V8 style juice if available)
  • 1 can green chilies (I substituted one-seeded fresh green “Thai” chili, chopped fine)

Cook the onion, green pepper and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the optional minced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Add tomato juice, cumin and chili powder and the undrained tin of green chilies (or fresh chopped chili as preferred) Heat through.

Transfer into a 3 qt casserole, or 9×13 pan. Heat oven to 400 F or 200 C.

For the topping

In a medium bowl mix the following:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Add to the above ingredients

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 egg

Stir until just moistened.

Grate in 2 oz cheddar cheese and 2 Tb chopped flat leaf parsley or fresh coriander leaves

Spoon over the top of the bean mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of spicy salsa for some zip.

Finish as a meal with a nice side salad and you’ve got it made! Enjoy!

Easy Paella – for the red, yellow and green of it!

If you are intimidated by seafood, this is the recipe for you! And it offers veggies of all the important colours – red, green and yellow for that great antioxidant boost.

Paella traditionally has fish, prawns, calamari and mussels, but I have adapted this recipe for my fish squeamish daughter. The result was a success for nearly everyone! My son opted for seconds placed into a tortilla and topped with plain yogurt.

I adapted this recipe from www.justeasyrecipes.co.za.                             Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 red or orange pepper, seeded and cut into strips
2 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tin tomatoes chopped
1 Tb paprika
350g long-grain rice
1kg mixed seafood (I used 3 fillets of frozen hake and 400 grams frozen cooked shrimp)
2-3 tbsp fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
200g sugar snap peas, trimmed
fresh limes or lemons, cut into wedges

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.
  2. Add onion, green and red peppers and carrots, and fry over a low heat for two minutes.
  3. Add garlic, tomatoes and paprika and fry for three minutes.
  4. Add the rice and stir well to make sure the rice is well coated.
  5. Add about 800ml water or seafood stock and bring to the boil.
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add seafood, coriander and sugar snap peas and stir well.
  8. Cover and simmer for a further 10 -15 minutes.
  9. Add a little water if it gets too dry.
  10. The dish is ready once the rice is tender (if including mussels, they will be open when the dish is ready.)
  11. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, coriander and lemon wedges. I topped the servings with a dollop of double cream plain  yogurt (not traditional, I am sure).

Tabbouleh – a whole grain delite!

The first time I tried tabboluleh, my hubby had taken me to a Lebanese restaurant somewhere in Seattle. The memories of the food that night are still wrapped in warm colours and a fragrant mist.

I have dug for a favorite recipe of mine, and have decided that this is going to be a great addition to our “regular” menu. Made as a side, it goes wonderfully with chicken. Stuffed into a pita, it makes a delicious lunch time treat. As a main course on its own- a filling meat-free dinner (or serve with spiced chicken or lamb on a skewer!).  Mmmmm. I’m hungry already!

In addition to the delicious flavours, this dish comes to the table with all kinds of healthy benefits.

  • Fresh Parsley – has anticancer components; is rich with antioxidants; has anti-inflammatory agents; and can help keep your heart healthy and your immune system boosted!
  • Fresh Mint – in addition to freshening your breath, mint will also help to settle an uneasy stomach, is a natural diuretic and can even help ease the symptoms of IBS.
  •  Bulgar –  is high in protein and minerals offering nutrition that fills you up without adding in extra calories. ( Bulgar has fewer calories, less fat and more than twice the fibre of brown rice!)  
  •  And then there are all the wonderful vitamins and minerals found in the cucumber, tomato and onions.

Tabbouleh – adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Yield for this recipe: 5 side dish sized servings

1 c bulgur soaked for 1 hour in 1  2/3 cup boiling hot water

3/4 c chopped cucumber

1/2 c snipped fresh parsley 

1/4 c thinly sliced green onions – OR sliced red onion

4 T snipped fresh mint

3 T olive oil

3 T lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c. chopped tomato

4 lettuce leaves to serve on

Placed soaked bulgur in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Place into a large bowl with cucumber, parsley, onion and mint.

For dressing, whisk water, oil, lemon juice and salt together. 

Drizzle dressing over bulgur mixture and toss to coat.

Chill for at least 2 hours for flavours to meld.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

Before serving, stir in tomato and serve on a lettuce leaf, or in a lettuce leaf lined bowl garnished with a lemon slice or two.

 (photo courtesy of simplerecipes.com)

Flapjacks and My New Secret Weapon

This morning I made ‘Flapjacks with a Twist’, which were basically the standard American pancake, with 1/2 the flour substituted for oats that had be whirled in my food processor to make a course flour. I topped them with sauteed apples (sauteed with a splash of water and some cinnamon)

I have a new secret weapon in my arsenal for change, that I did not buy for my 10 year old or even my 12 year old – instead I bought it for my nearly 20 year old son, who has such an adversion to anything healthy that I fear for his children.

Sustained Energy for Kids – a great collection of recipes and sneaky ways to make tasty and (gasp) healthy food that even a 20 year old will eat!

Here’s a recipe very similar to my Flapjack recipe that is sure to be a hit!

Yield: Makes 24 flapjacks – 6 cm in diameter

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 t. sugar (substitute honey as an option)

1 c. low fat milk

1 t. oil (canola, macadamia or peanut)

1 c. cake flour

1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 c. oat bran

1 apple peeled and cored

2 sm. green bananas, cut into 24 slices

lemon juice, squeezed over cut fruit

Place egg, sugar (honey) and salt in mixing bowl and beat lightly with spoon

Add half of the milk and oil and mix

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Stir in gradually to the egg and milk mixture until smooth and lump free

Leave batter to stand 10 minutes to moisten ingredients while you prepare fruit and heat the pan

Grease a non-stick pan with small amount of oil and drop batter into pan. Drop banana and apple into wet side of pancake before flipping

Cook until bubbly on top and slightly browned underneath. Turn and cook until brown.

Repeat until all batter is cooked.

Nutritional note: the fruit helps to lower the GI of the pancake, so do not omit it.  Allergens: wheat, eggs and milk

Nutrients: GI lower (59) Carbs (8g) Protein (1g) Fat (1g) Fibre (1g) KJ (194) GL 5