Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Surfin' the net 2009

How to make a New Year's resolution? Make BIG changes, act like the person you aspire to be.

High blood sugar leads to cognitive decline. And exercise can help, so move, move, move!

The new yoga? Mindfulness without judgement.

20 Healthy foods under $1 Broccoli, beets, and squash, oh my!
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Recycle, reuse: Dish scrub

Mesh bagImage by hownowdesign via FlickrImageI wish I could remember where first I saw this idea so I could give credit where it is due. A quick and easy way to make a dish scrubber is to take a sponge and slip it into a plastic mesh bag, the type onions come in. Tie the excess into a knot and cut the mesh. Instant dish scrubber!

Watch out Martha, here I come. Oh...I think I got my idea from Martha.

For the advanced DIYer, Girl on the Rocks knitted a dish scrubber. You can check it out here.
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Super handy guide

Cold, winter air brings dry, cracked skin. Luckily for us, The Green Guide has just published their hand and body lotion buying guide. An easy to use resource, it provides information on ingredients to look for and offer other tips to keeping your skin smooth and silky in the winter months. Be sure to click on the tabs explaining the environmental impact of moisturizers as well as the product comparison chart, which shows whether or not the products have been certified as USDA organic, Leaping Bunny certified, or are Dirty-Dozen Free.

Another tip from The Green Guide is to not rely on terms such as fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and cruelty-free. These labels are not defined by the government or by independent third-parties (such as Environmental Working Group or Leaping Bunny) so manufacturers don't need to follow any specific guidelines in order to include these labels on their products.

They also recommend drinking plenty of water, avoiding long, hot showers, and moisturizing after bathing. I would include adding good oils to your diet (and eliminate bad trans fats). Eating olives, walnuts, ground flax seeds, cold water fish such as salmon or sardines, and drizzling extra-virgin olive oil over your favorite foods are all good ways of moisturizing from the inside out!

A favorite and inexpensive trick for smoother feet and hands is applying a thin layer of castor oil to cracked fingers or heels and then putting on a pair of gloves or socks overnight. Take care as castor oil can stain, so have those socks ready to slip on so as not to leave a trail of oily footprints behind.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

Eating wheat- or gluten-free doesn't have to be a challenge. There are plenty of products available, at local and national grocery stores, to help make the transition in your kitchen. Ideally, the breads, cakes, and pastas in the diet get replaced with whole (gluten-free) grains, and fresh fruit and veggies, but how does one satisfy that comfort-food craving? Normally wouldn't recommend baking using mixes but I find gluten-free mixes help my busy patients "make the change."

My usual winter breakfast is oatmeal with walnuts, berries, and ground flax, but this snowy, Portland morning I woke up thinking "pancakes." Fortunately, I had a package of Trader Joe's Gluten-free Pancake and Waffle mix and some leftover pumpkin...pumpkin pancakes! I recommend the Trader Joe's mix to my gluten-free patients because it doesn't have soy or corn and many of them also avoid those two common allergens.

Make your own substitutions as needed. I used milk and butter, but the original recipe calls for water and oil.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes (or Waffles)
Preheat pan or griddle.

1 package Trader Joe's Gluten-free Pancake and Waffle Mix
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
(can instead use equivalent amount of premixed pumpkin spice)
Using a fork, combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

1/2 can pumpkin (half a 15oz can)
2 Tbsp melted butter or oil
2 eggs
Mix together in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and blend well.

Slowly add in
1 - 1 1/4 cup milk (or dairy-free substitute or water)
to ingredients, until good consistency (less liquid for waffles or thicker pancakes).

Prevent sticking to pan by using oil or butter. Pour batter onto pan, you decide on the pancake size! Flip pancakes when the bottoms are golden brown.

I sprinkled pecans onto the batter before I flipped the pancakes. Pecans can also be folded into the entire mix, if desired.

Serve with your favorite pancake topping – maple syrup, honey, butter, jam...enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gluten-free Pumpkin Scones

Although it's hard for me to admit (okay, not so hard), I am a huge fan of Starbucks pumpkin scones, but this whole 'avoid wheat' thing has put a kabosh on indulging. Until now. This morning, waking up to a dusting of snow outside, I was inspired to bake. I grabbed a box of Gluten-Free Pantry Muffin & Scone mix from my shelf, then Googled "pumpkin scones" and found this recipe. I merged the recipe from the mix box with the Googled one (based on what I have in the kitchen) and now the almost finished product is cooling on my stove!

Gluten-free Pumpkin Scones
Preheat oven to 375°

Bag of Muffin & Scone Mix (I used Gluten-Free Pantry)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
(1/4 tsp ginger - I omitted because I don't have any)
1 stick, cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Using pastry knife or fork, cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly, without any big chunks of butter.
Combine 1/2 can of pumpkin, 1 egg, and 3 Tbsp of buttermilk in a small bowl, then fold into well mixed dry ingredients.
Form into a ball, gently roll out on floured surface into a 1" thick rectangle. Cut into triangles, then transfer onto greased baking sheet.
Bake 15 minutes, until slightly brown.

Cinnamon spice glaze
1 c + 1 tsp powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove (sorry, didn't measure but I did use mostly cinnamon)
Brush onto cooled scones.

Since starting this post, I have eaten two—didn't even wait for the icing to harden! These pumpkin scones are much less dense than their Starbucks inspiration (which actually is a good thing) and they are a wonderful, sweet treat on this blustery, winter day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The BEST gluten-free cookies

This past Thursday, a student on my shift brought some homemade gluten-free, chocolate chip cookies that were quite possibly the best I have tasted. I have found the problem with gluten-free baking is the product comes out too crumbly, they aren't chewy and moist. The following recipe uses nut butter and coconut flour, which helps hold the cookie together and keep its chewy goodness intact.

Anna's Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c coconut flour
1/2 c gluten-free flour (she recommended Bob's Red Mill)
1 c nut butter (cashew, almond, etc)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Combine above ingredients and mix well.
Stir in 10 oz chocolate chips and enough oil or water for a 'good consistency,' around 1/2 cup.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350° until just golden. Do NOT overcook!
Cool 2 minutes, then remove from baking sheet with metal spatula, placing on cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe courtesy of Anna Boyd.
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Green Gifts that Keep on Giving

There are some of us who would find a year's membership to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program the perfect holiday gift (hint, hint), but thinking beyond the kitchen can be a challenge when it comes to eco-gift giving.

The Green Guide offers tips on green gift giving. Be sure to explore the How to Go Green links for tips on shopping for gifts such as clothing, high tech gadgets, and toys.

The Daily Muse email from lead me to Global Girlfriend, an online, fair-trade boutique featuring eco-friendly gifts made by women, providing them with economic opportunities they might not have otherwise. Whether it's Thistle Farms Moisturizing Body Balm or a yoga mat bag made from recycled rice bags, artisans from all over the world learn craft and business skills while creating unique gifts benefiting themselves and others.
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Organic News

• Dr. Alan Greene ate exclusively organic food for three years, the amount of time the Department of Agriculture reports it takes an animal to be certified organic. A California pediatrician, Dr. Greene reported feeling more energetic and less ill since changing over to his all organic diet. Eating less meat balanced out the costs of buying veggies at farmers' markets and CSAs, but I'm thinking even though eating organic can be more expensive, the long term savings on healthcare makes it all worth while.

• My new favorite site, Treehugger, talks about the seven foods you must eat organic. I'd like to add to the list and include all dairy, eggs, and meat. If it's got fat, it's gotta be organic. Fat is where all the bad stuff is stored, the pesticides, the antibiotics, the toxins.

• My other new favorite site, ShopOrganic, is an Arizona based company that specializes in organic products for not just the kitchen, but the entire home. Check out their special diet sections, they even carry gluten-free and kosher supplements!