Tag Archives: Home

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Ricotta Bruschetta

My parents AND siblings came down to see our apartment this weekend. Over the span of Friday and Saturday I had a crazy night with my parents, an awesome last bootcamp workout with new/old friends, and amazing Mexican food/Hot Dogs/dessert eat session with my siblings and Mike.

It so odd to be interacting with them as adults now. With my parents, its like I’ve returned with valid opinions and the ability to handle responsibility. WHAT?! Weird. With my siblings there were always arguments. Put together 4 boisterous, confident, outgoing, smart kids and there’s no way to avoid head butting. However! As we enter adulthood together, we’ve learned each other’s quirks and are actually starting to get along! Siblings as friends, who knew??

Anyway, my parents came over for appetizers before we went out for dinner. I have learned from many mistakes with this, not to shoot too high when it comes to apps. I settled on 1 reach plate (falafel which was a total disaster), rice crackers with this amazing local sauce called Bitchin’ sauce (too easy to mess up), and this Ricotta Bruschetta (great success!). I got the original recipe from Martha Stewart.

Disclaimer: It’s not entirely to my “no cow dairy” rule since each piece has ricotta but it didn’t actually irritate my stomach at all. VICTORY!

This recipe is unbelievably simple. It’s tasty and light and delicious. It’s probably best at breakfast time or when balanced with a different, more savory dinner app. Enjoy!

Sweet Ricotta Bruschetta Continue reading

Super Simple Spring-Time Roasted Veggies

In my pursuit to cut out grains and add lots of veggies, I’ve started subbing one for the other. Roasted veggies are a fabulous base for dishes like Tikka Masala, a fabulous topping for salads to make them warm and savory, and a fabulous side to any protein dish. They fill you up and don’t leave you feeling sluggish. Continue reading

Tasty Tuesday: Health Boost Smoothie

One resolution in my Happiness Project is to eat at least one raw and one vegetarian/vegan meal per day. With this smoothie, I get two for the price of one!

Like all the rest of you very busy people who read this blog, I can’t always take the time to sit and eat a nice, relaxed meal. My lunches or dinners sometimes have to be hand-held and quick. These smoothies are PERFECT.

My only disclaimer is that they’re not great when warm. So if you have a fridge at work, perfect! If not, do as Mike does and drink it at home for breakfast or your I’m-home-from-work-and-hungry snack. These have seriously reduced Mike’s cookie intake 🙂

SmoothieBEST2

Continue reading

Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Side note: I will have a recipe today, so as not to satisfy a terrorists hunger to be the center of attention. But, please see the bottom of this post for my thoughts…

And now, on to the frosting! Mike is out of town for a couple of weeks 😦 so I have been ultra productive in his absence. It’s amazing how a lack of company will get me motivated. So I made a chocolate fudge cake and had no idea what to use as frosting. The packaged stuff is so full of sugar that it makes me nauseas. So I made my own! And holy bajolies it is delicious.

When warm, it’s melt on your tongue chocolatey goodness. When cold, it hardens into pure chocolate bliss on top of your cake. Also, because I use coconut sugar, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar. Sweet!

ChocolateFrosting-published Continue reading

Thriving Thursday: What’s in Your Microwave?

I’m not sure when or how the thought entered my head. I don’t know if my super health conscience Momma put it there or if it was the stirrings of the health community in general, but it’s time to make a change. A big one. I’m going to throw away our microwave. *GASP!*

Microwave

I did a lot of research for this post. I checked out articles from Harvard Med, GreenMed, New York Times, and Dr. Mercola, among others. People are divided. These very smart, highly informed sets of people can’t agree: are microwaves bad for you or not?

This is how it is now, though. Our current system doesn’t work. People are sick and more people are dying prematurely than ever before. I don’t believe we can implicitly trust the medical model for anything other than emergency care, but then who can we trust? How the heck do you figure out who’s right?

I know this sounds a little wonky but I tend to trust my instinct. If you put your face too close to a microwave, you will absorb small amounts of radiation, this is known. But your food is in there! Your food is being heated up in that box full of radiation. Then you’re gonna eat it! Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? However, I know most people don’t make their judgements based on my own personal judgement so here are the facts as well as I can decipher them (with a few opinions thrown in):

How it Works:

Microwave ovens heat food with oscillating electromagnetic waves. The waves energize the water molecules in your food. The polarized water molecules bounce off each other causing friction. That friction heats up the food. Microwaved water heats much more quickly than conventional methods resulting in shorter cooking times.

This form of cooking heats the food from the inside out. But wait a minute. I mean from the inside of the molecules on the outside of the food. It break and reforms the water molecules on the outside of the food in the heating process. Sometimes the distribution of water molecules is uneven which is why you sometimes get microwaved “hot spots.” Conventional cooking heats differently, from the outside of the molecules in.

Part of the opposition’s argument is that less heating time means higher nutrition retention. In general, I agree, but it’s not the length of the heating with microwave ovens, it’s the type of heating that’s the problem. If these electromagnetic waves can reach the interior of the food molecules, what else are they changing other than just the energy of the water?

Radiation:

When I was little I LOVED to stare into the microwave and watch the food spin around in circles, ever so slowly. Every time an adult caught me they slapped my hand and told me to back away, this crazy stuff called radiation leaked from that thing and you didn’t want it getting into your brain!

Since they were invented, the FDA and other regulatory organizations have closely monitored the manufacturing of microwave ovens. There have been major improvements in the level of radiation emitted from the ovens. This is good. However, radiation doesn’t die, it accumulates. So depending on how frequently you use your oven and how old it is, your kitchen is very likely full of microwave radiation. This is bad. Also, the adults were right, the radiation increases exponentially as you move closer to the source and it’s more easily absorbed by your eyes. Don’t sit and watch that plate spin!

Also, a recent study by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University tested the effects of certain frequencies of radiation on the heart. She concluded that 2.4 GHz of radiation (which is emitted by microwave ovens AND wi-fi routers) changes the heart rate and heart rate variability. Scary.

Nutrients:

As mentioned before, my common sense tells me that if microwaves can break apart and alter water molecules, what are they doing to the very delicate nutrients and minerals in our food? It is now well known that our food has lost a significant percentage of nutrients compared to food produced in the early 20th century. Crappy soil, terrible manufacturing methods, and tons of pesticides definitely play a part in this decline, but how big a role do microwaves play?

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating killed 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk .
  • A recent Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria.

While many of these studies were done using older microwaves, the evidence is clear. Microwave ovens ARE NOT a healthy way to heat your food. If you want to retain the precious nutrients still left in modern produce, eat it raw or heat it from the outside in.

* Word to the wise: If you continue to use your microwave, NEVER heat anything in a plastic container. It is undisputed that the toxic chemicals from the plastic heat and leach into your food not only killing nutrients but filling you up with lots of really terrible chemicals.

GAH! What do I do with all this information? I’m just going to cite Dr. Mercola on this one:

“Am I asking you to toss your microwave oven into the nearest dumpster? Not necessarily. It can be a useful tool for cleaning. But if real estate in your kitchen is at a premium, it should probably be the first thing to go.

You really CAN survive sans microwave—people are living quite happily without one, believe it or not. You just have to make a few small lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Plan ahead. Take your dinner out of the freezer that morning or the night before so you don’t end up having to scramble to defrost a 5-pound chunk of beef two hours before dinnertime.
  • Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or other containers. An hour before meal time, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water until it’s thawed enough to slip into a pot, then reheat it on the stove.
  • A toaster oven makes a GREAT faux-microwave for heating up leftovers! Keep it at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — and gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes. Another great alternative is a convection oven. They can be built in or purchased as a relatively inexpensive and quick safe way to heat foods
  • Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.
  • Try eating more organic raw foods. This is the best way to and improve your health over the long run.”

I hope you’re all having fantastic days! Just let me know if you have any questions. Love and hugs – Ash

Sources (articles):
Why Did the Russians Ban An Appliance Found in 90% of American Homes? – Mercola.com
Studies Show Microwaves Drastically Reduce Nutrients in Food – GreenMedInfo.com
The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients In Food – New York Times
Do Microwave Ovens Destroy Nutrients? – Livestrong.com
Microwave Cooking and Nutrition – Harvard Medical School

Sources (studies):
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”
Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B 1999:49(2):110-117
Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S
Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Abe K, Tamura Y, and Nakano Y. J. Agric. Food Chem. Feb 26 1998;46(4):1433-1436
George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. “Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding,”
Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,” Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669

Tasty Tuesday: Honey Yogurt Dip

We had some people over on Saturday. A melting pot of people from all the different areas of our life. We ladies had some fun with makeup (more on that Friday) while the guys watched basketball. Then we all went line dancing! I’m getting pretty good at it by now.

So for the get together at our place, I decided that I would cook appetizers. I settled on 4 relatively simple recipes. When people started arriving and I was only half done cooking, I realized I may have been a bit ambitious. BUT, I did discover this amazing recipe. It took a total of 3 minutes and was one of the tastiest things on the table.

YogurtHoneyDip-Published

Honey Yogurt Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (organic and/or goat is better, raw is best)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (local is best)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • Any fruit that’s in season

Instructions:

  1. Cut up your fruit into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together and serve!

Also, it snowed here again! About 5 inches in 24 hours. I had the day off and managed to catch the flu so it was the perfect weather to snuggle up on the couch, watch marathon TV, and drink pots of tea. But just to prove how amazing the Midwest is, a random, kindly citizen cleaned off my car! There is no way for me to know who did it so they just did it from the kindness of their heart. Peoria really isn’t so bad 🙂

Snowed In

 

I hope you’re having a happy day. Love and hugs – Ash

Workout Wednesday: Perceived Threshold

People ask me every Tuesday night whether I’m going to take it easy on them or kill them with this workout. My reply is always that I’ll make you feel like you’re dying but you’ll feel amazing afterward. And it’s true!

With these types of workouts, you should be going at such an effort that your muscles stop working, your lungs are burning, and you feel an achy pain in muscles you didn’t even know you had. As long as you are not feeling sharp pain anywhere, and are focusing on correct form, you are doing it right. (If you start to experience sharp pain of any kind, especially in joints, stop that exercise immediately and consult a doc about it.)

So keep going, hard. Work through the pain. The thing that separates you and a higher level of fitness is the ability to push past your perceived threshold. You can always go faster, jump higher, and lunge lower. No excuses!

And now … the workout!

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

High Knees

1. high knees (hold your hands at a certain height and bring your knees to touch them)

TriDip

2. tri dips (legs bent in or held straight out)

calfjump

3. calf jumps (too easy? jump higher, jump faster, hold weights in your hands)

crunches

4. crunches (focus on lifting your shoulders, DO NOT pull on your neck; beginner-feet on ground, intermediate-feet at right angle, advanced-feet in air)

plank(better)

5. plank tick tock (beginner-knees or elbows on ground, intermediate-full plank, advanced-lift one leg and, keeping it straight, swing it out to the side, then bring it back to center and do the same with the other leg, in a pendulum-like motion)

Lunge

6. speed lunges (keep feet planted and bounce upper body up and down, switch legs at half-way point)

+ Fit Minute. Choose one of the following exercises. Do it for a full minute at 100% effort. Count how many you do and record it. We’ll be doing these after every workout from now on:

  • Level 1 – side to side steps or jumping jacks
  • Level 2 – push ups
  • Level 3 – burpees

I hope you get all charged up after these workouts like I do. Love and a big smile 🙂 – Ash