Monthly Archives: January 2013

How to Make Perfect Rice WITHOUT a Rice Cooker

This is life changing information for rice lovers. I relied heavily on our rice cooker, stating ” I couldn’t live without it” on several occasions. Then it BROKE. I started researching rice cookers immediately, but since I am a quality designed person, I found only one rice cooker that met the household standards. The Zojirushi.

Image
Pricetag? Anywhere from $250 to $400. Not happening today. This is an investment piece. So I had to go back to the old school method, since a day without rice is a day without life. I LOVE RICE!

How did you even cook rice again? Umm there is ratio of water to rice? Did I have to read the instructions on the bag? This wasn’t going to work for our fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cooking style. We have recipes but we don’t really follow them once we’ve made it successfully. Anyone else like to wing it sometimes? It brings your senses back! Probably the most exciting way to cook since you have to taste and adjust accordingly rather than hope the recipe works. (comes with practice, I promise!)

So into the regular boring pot it went. You’ll want to start this at least 1 hour before serving the completed meal. I used to think you could only make one type of rice at a time. I started experimenting daily. Just a couple days later I had it down. I’ve made well over 100 pots of rice in the past few months and my current mix of rice is the following:

~1/3cup PER ADULT of a dry brown rice equally mixed with brown basmati I keep in my cupboard, handy to have pre-mixed in a sealed glass or plastic jar with the measuring cup in there at all times.
sprinkle of millet and/or quinoa
bonus: handful of lentils if you want to hide healthy beans in there

Cover with water and touch your pointer finger to the top of the rice. The water should reach the first line on that finger. The water is slightly short of the line in this photo:
Image

Bring to a boil. If you cover, it will boil sooner.

Image

As soon as it boils, turn all the way down to low and cover if not already covered. Now you have at least 30-40 min free. Rice should generally take around 50 minutes to complete, less if it’s a small pot and sometimes longer if it’s large.

Want the TRICK to perfect rice? Here it is… at about 40 minutes you’ll see the water disappear below the surface but clearly is still too moist to be finished (if you tip the pot you will see a pool of water is another check) like this:

Image
Now TURN OFF THE HEAT! Let it rest and soak up the excess moisture for the remaining 10-15 minutes. It will also bring the rice down to a better serving temperature. It will stay warm for around 30+ minutes like this and IT WILL NEVER BURN!

Voila! Perfect rice!

Image

Advertisements

Three Easy Steps to be Organic in a Year or Less.

As with most people, our household wasn’t always organic. We certainly didn’t switch to organic overnight either. Having been through the process and watched others do it since, I am fairly certain I have some helpful advice. Do you find yourself saying “but I don’t know where to start?”. If so, you’re in the right place. If not, maybe you know somebody who has and may find yourself sharing this with them in the future. There is nothing better than FREE information!

Eventually, I’m going to cover off every excuse we can come up with as to why people aren’t organic! There are so many reasons and fears. We have touched on why, we have covered affordability and now… we cover how to do it! I’ll try and share some personal experiences along the way.

1. Commit. Make a personal endeavor to really think about what kind of health you strive for, and what kind of foods will reflect that health in your home. Say it out loud or share the idea with a friend/spouse who will do it with you. Sounds simple right? It’s kind of like when my sister said “I will never smoke again”, forcing her mind, body and spirit to agree so that no matter how badly she would  be tempted, she won’t disappoint herself, her friends who she’s committed to and her body, which feels 1000 times better not doing it!

To keep that commitment motivated, break down each items into its ingredients and think about it on a basic health level, while keeping whatever goals you have in mind. This is how I would decipher ketchup at the grocery store:

“Tomatoes are the first ingredient. Tomatoes are a highly sprayed crop, often gassed in transportation on top of that. Do I use ketchup that often? No. Is the cost that much more? No. Will my child benefit from fewer pesticides? Yes. Is the idea of ketchup being organic worth it? Absolutely.” Reading the ingredient label is a must with this. Some ketchup companies use high fructose corn syrup and other potentially genetically modified ingredients. If you know which items you refuse to buy no matter what the cost, like MSG, colorings, corn, soy, beet sugar, anything you can’t pronounce, then that will make buying organic even easier!

This can be done for any food item you struggle to buy organically. Of course, there will be exceptions where price doesn’t justify the purchase, but always strive to stick to your commitment and seek the best item you can find.

2. Start looking. You are already in the right store, so start to become aware of the prices and availability of organic! I was at Superstore the other day and I was eying up the 5 pack of organic avocados for 3.99. As I was doing this, I saw someone my age walk past the organic ones, straight to the conventional bin and grab three avocados and carry on. The price? 1.39 each. That right you would have had two free organic avocados had you LOOKED. This week at my local neighborhood market, organic avocados are half the price of regular ones. The bananas here are 10 to 20 cents more a lb generally. How many lbs of bananas does the average home buy? Lets say 3lbs. That could be a giant increase of THIRTY CENTS to your bill. Seeing these items will get your accustomed quicker to the price differences, the options, and potentially even the feeling you get from organic food. Yes, I said FEELING! There is energy from everything and food is an extremely important fuel for our energy. I notice physical and emotional effects when I enter certain grocery stores so I learn to follow my body’s prompting to lead me to what it needs. Sounds crazy, but you’ll see! Try dipping your toes and your shopping cart into the health food aisle and organic produce sections to see where the transition is going to take you.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Do it one piece at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed, frustrated or ahead of yourself. Out of oatmeal? Replace it with better oatmeal. Out of sea salt? Now go look for celtic or himalayan salt. Need baking soda? Find some aluminum free soda next. Always wanted to try a non-wheat flour? Check the bulk section and see what is available. You need the items anyways so just decide to replace it with the new, healthier item! The cost becomes an incremental one that won’t break your bank. You might even find some killer sales and stock up on some items for your food storage (bonus!) You also aren’t wasting any food, nor are you wasting time or money shopping for a whole new kitchen. It really can take up to a full year to get through your stock – dressings, vitamins, soups, cereals, grains, condiments, frozen goods etc. and by the end of that year you will be so proud of your kitchen! I mean it, you’ll have the cleanest foods and feel amazing. Just ask anyone who has already been through the process. I love my kitchen and I have yet to have a friend buy healthier items and return back to their old ways. It noticeably changes your life for the better.

What is/was your excuse? (comment below!!!) I didn’t go organic until I learned about the pesticide use and soil degradation in conventionally grown foods.

Help other friends by sharing this information!

An Organic Mushroom's Energy Field

Russian physicist found a way to capture the quantum field (energy) of different objects through his GDV (gas discharge visualization technique). This photo proves that organic is far superior in energy for our bodies. Isn’t it amazing? Click on the photo to see Part 1 and 2 of the video (Warning, it has elevator music from Russia)

Dessert for a Big Person vs. a Little One

I get asked frequently for different ideas to feed kids and babies eating solids. I always lean on the side of simple for everything I prepare. Parents often have little or no time to make elegant fancy snacks and that is all the more reason to use whole foods more often- less work!

Now is a good time to start thinking about what fruits you want to stock up on in the summer. They get quite expensive during the winter, and although I’m a fan of eating seasonally, frozen fruit is an ideal snack for kids and for smoothies. Try a bowl of frozen blueberries instead of ice cream for your next movie night.

My dessert tonight (excuse the imperfect iPhone pics):

20130126-183215.jpg

Organic zucchini cake from scratch with hemp hearts, Camino cocoa and trader joes chocolate chips!

Harper’s dessert tonight: (10 months old)

20130126-183257.jpg

Our own frozen fruit from local summer supply and Costco organic mango chunks.

Takes about 30min to thaw which is perfect to break up the digestive process from dinner. ALWAYS eat your fruit alone is possible. Yum!

“The authors of the report “GMO Myths and Truths” took a science-based approach to evaluating the available research, arriving at the conclusion that most of the scientific evidence regarding safety and increased yield potential do not at all support the claims. The evidence demonstrates the claims for genetically engineered foods are not just wildly overblown – they simply aren’t true. GE foods have been shown to be less nutritious than non-GE foods, and pose distinct health risks and are inadequately regulated.”

Article: Americans are Less Healthy, and Die Sooner Than People in Other Developed Nations – Dr. Mercola

Calorie Counting and Jillian Michael’s mistake!

I used to listen to many of Jillian Michael’s podcasts (big fan of her push for organic, especially meat!) and she always repeated in her boisterous raspy I’m-going-to-get-angry-at-you-tone  “it’s simple math to lose weight people, calories in need to be lower than calories out!!!”. I was first thinking “Yeah, you’re right Jillian. It’s just as easy as calorie counting and exercise. Duh.” She meant that if you eat 2000 calories and burn 2500 in a day, you will lose about 1lb a week, simple math. I was such a fan, that I programmed it into my head to suggest to future clients who want to lose weight. I should have known better than to believe the first thing I heard on the subject, especially from a celebrity who often has to generalize to the masses. Then I recalled how calorie restrictive programs like Weight Watchers with “points” for each item of food you eat, became the newest fad not too long ago. I mean, millions of dollars on their microwave-meals huge. Helps when they hire actresses and famous singers to sell it too right? This program may be my least favorite with their “eat anything you want, as long as you don’t go over your points” plan. Well played sales and marketing, well played.

Here is my positive spin. If you eat healthy and clean already, this is exactly how someone should lose or maintain healthy weight. It works for a select few. For the greater population who struggle to find their healthy path in life… this is why it will not work for you:

1. Not all calories are created equally! Many labels says “low calories” like diet soda, red licorice, synthetic sugars, jell-o, microwave popcorn, plastic puddings, ice cream sandwiches and “light” yogurts with ingredients like modified corn starch (likely GMO), artificial flavor, aspartame and skim milk that has been thrown around a centrifuge as such a high rate it separates the natural “unwanted” fat. (If only it were common knowledge that fat in dairy helps absorb the nutrients.) Some even have Yellow #5 and Red #40, both studied as hyperactive and decreased brain function triggers in children.

As low quality as it gets..

As low quality as it gets..

Even though something may only be 90 calories, I would much rather someone eat a 250 calories avocado ANY DAY over a fake sugary yogurt with artificial everything. Unless you have a solid grasp of how certain calories are beneficial based on their origin, don’t be tricked into thinking the calories matter. The NUTRIENTS MATTER! That is what you should primarily base every food decision on – the nutrients.

2. Inaccurate for 99% of the population – There’s an app for that. Put in what you are eating, let it calculate the butter, bread and jam and VOILA! you have your total at the end of the day. Lets look up that avocado I was talking about. A 200g avocado is about 320 calories. Now did you weigh your avocado? Did you take into account the larger than usual pit it had? No, me either! So your avocado could have been 50 calories larger or smaller than mine. And if every meal is estimated on this “roundabout” calorie index then you can assume you might be anywhere from very few to hundreds of calories off your count in reality. And those hundreds add up at the end of the week… and then you were no better off counting at all. If you are open to it being inaccurate, then it can be a useful tool in knowing how to get near your basal metabolic rate. (the minimum calories you need to break even each day)

Mine are always that size..

Mine are always that size..

3. Obsessively unnecessary for most. I remember someone saving their points (ie eating less everyday) to be able to get that piece of cheesecake on the weekend to fit into their weekly total. Does that really make for a healthy lifestyle? Eating anything you want, as long as you stay under the calories, certainly may sounds simple but they started to memorize what every food’s points were. And if they were hungry at the end of the day, but had no points left then you aren’t healthier, you are miserable! The main point I’m trying to make is that counting makes you count EVERYTHING you eat. That happens to be the one activity we do all day long, everyday. That is a lot of counting and a lot of processing in our already-super-busy day. Throw away the pen and paper, close the app down, give your child back their calculator… the counting can stop.

A better solution? Menu planning and food journaling. Both items myself, or any local nutritionist can walk you through if you don’t know where to start.

Food Journal. A local famous friend of mine is a middle-aged jet-setting business-goer who reached his goal of being under 20% fat by journaling his food and realizing EXACTLY what was going in his body. This not only gave him a good idea of the calorie quality, but made him accountable to writing down “four deep fried donuts and a large pop” if he chose to be rogue in London. Him, and countless others I know, have all appreciated the increased awareness from their food journal.

Meal Planning. You are less likely to choose fast food, or unhealthy meals if you are planning them in advance. Pinterest has great ideas for a family chalkboard meal planner, not only cute but something everyone will appreciate and look forward to doing! You may find you will be more inventive, have an easier time grocery shopping, have to make fewer last minute decisions when you are “hangry” and reach your health goals faster. You can write in your plans to take a day off, or even write in “leftovers” like our best friends do at least once a week on their board.

How cute is this!

How cute is this!

This is going to be a new goal of mine in the near future. As I sit here glaring at my kitchen wondering what I’m going to make with my lentil rice I just started on a whim…and all of my local meat is frozen. Veggie stir fry it is! Remember friends… NUTRIENT COUNTING ONLY!

Agree? Disagree? Different idea than you are used to? Comments welcome.

*Note I am not implying Jillian Michaels disregards food quality, but it is often left out of her main push to count calories. She is a big fan of whole foods and healthy living. Hence why we love her.*

Superimmunity for Baby and Kids

A simple way to increase the immune boosting nutrients little ones need! Next time you make fruit purees, add a handful of spinach and some high quality superberry vitamin C powder. During the winter you may also want to supplement a quality vitamin D3 if your children don’t see much sun. Please use the recommended intake as per the bottle instructions or health care provider. If there is extra illness in the air, or you notice it coming on I wouldn’t hesitate to throw in a drop or two of echinacea.

My personal favorite recipe for one serving:

Half an organic pear
Half an organic apple
Handful fresh organic spinach (Costco)
2 drops of liquid D3 (health store)
1/8 tsp of camu camu powder (bulk foods or health store)

Steam fruit lightly (the least amount of heat and water, just to soften). Blend all ingredients until desired consistency and serve warm or cold. Taste it! It’s awesome. At Christmas I might try beets to make a green and red dip for pancakes or french toast. HOW FUN!

20130121-115730.jpg

30lb of berries make 1lb of powder – 12 times the RDA in ONE TEASPOON!!!!!

20130121-115909.jpg

20130121-120441.jpg

Spinach, apple, pear sauce. Great for pancakes!

from my iPhone.