Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I realize this video was a little on the goofy side, but it's such good information I couldn't resist! Here are my thoughts: Are chia seeds the greatest thing in the world? Since they don't really have a taste, not really! Ha, ha. But, they are very good for you, easy to find and are affordable, so there is nothing to lose sprinkling some on your cereal. Keep some floss around, however, since the seeds WILL get between your teeth! :) I use chia seeds in a lot of my baked goods, in oatmeal, in cold cereal and in smoothies. Are you a fan? How do you use chia seeds in your diet?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Mushroom Barley Soup

Okay seriously, what is better than a lovely bowl of hot soup on a damp winter afternoon? One you made yourself with barley you bought out of your bulk bins, that's what! :)

Mushroom Barley Soup

3 c. boiling water
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, cut into coins
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium portobello mushroom caps, cut into 1/2" dice (I scrape out the gills)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. dried parsley (or fresh, yo!)
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
1 c. barley
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 c. frozen corn (or fresh!)
salt & pepper to taste

Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium stock pot, saute onions, carrots, celery, and portobellos in oil with a little salt & pepper until they're starting to get tender. Add garlic, parsley and thyme, and cook another minute or so, then add porcinis and their soaking liquid and all the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat a little and simmer, partially covered, until barley is cooked, about 30 minutes. Season with more salt& pepper to taste. (For a thinner soup you can use less barley - like 1/2 cup.)


Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting to know...Donna from Better Off Well

A couple of months ago, right before the madness of the holidays set in, I attended a fun and informative class at my local Whole Foods presented by another local blogger, Donna, of Better Off Well. As soon as I met Donna I knew we would be friends, and friends we have become! That is one of the many perks of my kind of "work," getting acquainted with like-minded foodie people. We tend to be passionate, warm and open minded, three of my favorite traits in people!

Donna is a WEALTH of information. On a recent lunch date I couldn't stop asking her questions! Since the lunch date went by quickly (and we actually had to pause to like, eat!) I decided an in-depth interview was in order!

So silence your phone, grab a hot beverage and get to know Donna!

Tell us a little about your background in wellness. How did you find yourself on this path?

After my son entered my life, I started taking better care of myself. It was terrifying to be responsible for the health of a small child, so to make sure I did everything best for him that I could, I researched all I could find about nutrition. I focused more on whole foods instead of the processed I often threw down on the table. I started to cook, using foods that grew from the ground, and not manufactured in a factory. As friends noticed how Max was thriving and the kinds of foods he was open to eating, they asked questions. Finally, I held a Veg Out Night in my home for 17 of my mom friends. It was a horrible presentation, but it went well enough that I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. What's great is that I get to combine my love of teaching with my passion for food and people.

I know you’re someone who has suffered from many different allergies. Do you feel the way you now eat and the cleaning products you now use have helped you?

Absolutely! When I was 8, I was diagnosed with 43 allergies. That meant allergy shots every week- 4 in each arm at one point. I was a human pin cushion. And then there was the asthma. Nasty, debilitating asthma that often limited what I could do. There were a couple times I suffered dangerous attacks. Caught without my steroid inhaler both times, the attacks were life-threatening. Later there was pneumonia, flu, cancer, and back pain. I was a mess, though I had no idea that the way I was living my life had anything to do with that. I assumed illness was the luck of the draw, and the aches and pains I experienced later in life were simply a part of aging. But that's why I'm so passionate about spreading the word now!! After eliminating certain foods from my diet, like dairy, I am now living asthma-free. I've not carried an inhaler in 8 years! That's freedom to me. The back pain that plagued me in my 30's is completely gone. Even my allergies are so much better. Where once I couldn't even be near somebody with a cat, I can now stay overnight in friends’ homes who have cats! That's something I never would have expected. And you're right, it's about more than just food. I've worked to clean out the toxins from as many aspects of my life as I'm able- from cleaners, to detergents, to lawn care, to candles. Chemicals are everywhere, so the more we're able to eliminate them from our environment, the better off we are.

You have your own business called “Better Off Well.” What kind of services do you offer? Do you offer anything for people who are not local?

I do. And for movie buffs who came of age in the 80's, it might be easy to tell what inspired my business name! I work with clients individually, typically in a 6-month program, which caters entirely to my client's individual needs. In each session, the client has time to talk, and be heard, something that is often missing in our health care system today. We then create goals that encompass not only nutrition concerns but other issues for which the client may need support- whether it be stress, organization, becoming "unstuck" in a job, etc. I love this part of my job. Every time I leave a client session, I feel so blessed. When I hear of the progress my clients make, it warms my heart and I can't help but cheer them on. They make the effort; I just support. I also speak in corporate settings, which is a lot of fun because I can address many people at once. And my Ladies Nights with a Twist are a blast! I started those over a year ago, and now I book a few every month. I thought, we women are always going out for jewelry and other types of parties, why not meet out for a fun night of nutritious sampling and life-changing education, all the while enjoying a glass of wine and the company of our gals. So much fun!

Where would you like to see the state of food/eating in this country for the next generation? Do you think we’re on the right path?

Oh gosh. That's a big question, but a great one! SO much of our food has changed, even in the past twenty years. We're taking in enormous amounts of sugar, synthetic and petro-chemicals under the guises of "natural and artificial flavors", "spices", and colorings, genetically altered food, and food products laden with hormones and antibiotics. We are sick, fatigued, brain foggy, lethargic, unhappy and generally unwell. Yet, just like I once did not, many don't make the connection between what they put into their bodies on a daily basis and their own health. Perhaps saddest is what is happening with our children. They, too, are becoming ill, allergy-laden, overweight, and lethargic. Kids...lethargic! That's crazy. But I am really excited, because I believe there is an evolution happening. People are starting to wake up to what is going on. The Internet makes information more available, so more people are becoming educated about food. It's a beautiful thing, and I'm so happy to be a part of it!

Do you have any future plans you can share?

On the personal front, I'm learning more about sustainability. I love the local food movement, and want to try to cook more of my meals in season. Our planet can't sustain the monocultures that have replaced small farms in the past 50 years. They're not natural, and because of this, valuable soil is becoming depleted, pollinators are dying, and superweeds are starting to spread. Sounds scary, I know, but I'm comforted in knowing that the number of farmer's markets has exploded in the past few years and more people are learning about sustainable gardening, beekeeping, and just planting something in their yards. It's exciting! I also love learning about raw food preparation. Raw foods are so important to include in our diets, and every "raw" person I've met so far looks amazing and seems to have oodles of energy, so clearly there is something to it! On the business end, I've just expanded to include skype and phone client sessions, so I can work with clients on a national and international level. I also look forward to growing my corporate offerings, since I really enjoy speaking to crowds these days. Soon I'll be volunteering with a local urban group, which I'm probably most excited about. This is a segment of the population this is highly stressed and often underserved when it comes to health education. Oh, and I'm working on a book, which I hope to have out next year. It's going to be lots of fun!

So there you have it! Thank you, Donna, for your wealth of knowledge. You are so inspiring and we are lucky to know you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

What in the world is....Nutritional Yeast?

What in the world is...nutritional yeast? Is it nutritious? Delicious? Lets find out what wiki has to say about it:

"Nutritional yeast is produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses for a period of 7 days and then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging it. This is commercially available in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder similar in texture to cornmeal, and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.[2]
Nutritional yeast flakes

It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium and is free of sugar, dairy, and gluten. Some brands of nutritional yeast, though not all, are fortified with vitamin B12. When fortified, the vitamin B12 is produced separately (commonly Cyanocobalamin) and then added to the yeast because yeasts are fungi, whereas B12 is synthesized only by bacteria.

Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of parmesan cheese. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn. It can also be used in mashed and fried potatoes, as well as put into scrambled tofu or eggs. Some movie theaters offer it along with salt or cayenne pepper as a popcorn condiment."

If you're interested, pick some up and give it a try. I use it in my Thanksgiving gravy to give it some serious deep flavor, but recently blogged about it in this post about popcorn.

Don't you find it interesting that there are foods like this that are SO good for you? Try it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two ingredient dinner? Sign me up!

Have you ever seen or tried broccoli slaw? I love it! It looks and tastes like regular old bagged cole slaw, but has more nutritional punch! I had this brand on hand:

And the other day when I wanted to make a more-substantial-than-usual lunch for my husband and I, it occurred to me how good it would be to combine the broccoli slaw with this:

You know I LOVE Gardein products. I'm all for trying to cook most things from scratch, but when I need to make something quickly, their products are perfect. This mandarin orange "chicken" comes frozen, with the "chicken" in strips. The orange sauce is frozen in a separate little bag that you heat up in a cup of warm water for a few minutes. Simple, simple! I threw both the slaw and the chicken in a pan and after tossing in the sauce....

WOW! A delicious hot lunch that was definitely dinner worthy! We liked this so much I'm going to consider this another go-to easy dinner for sports/music lesson nights!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tempeh with peanut dipping sauce

Tempeh is one of my favorite things to keep on hand in my fridge. It's loaded with protein, has a great nutty flavor, and is a cinch to prepare.

This was actually one of the appetizers I served my family during the superbowl. The left side of the plate is the pan-fried tempeh, and the right side are frozen Gardein chicken bites (both of which were great!)


Slice into strips. Then brown in a non-stick pan coated with a little olive oil until lightly browned (as shown above).

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup water
3 T crushed toasted peanuts (not necessary if you use chunky peanut butter)
2 T tamari soy sauce
2T fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T minced ginger

Blend all ingredients. Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Peanut dipping sauce recipe from: The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Homemade veganmama GRANOLA!

Okay, wait a minute. Did I actually just perfect a granola accident? Yes! Yes I did! I found a recipe for homemade granola BARS and when I tried to cut them and they turned into chunky GRANOLA instead, I decided to run with it! My tried-and-true taste testers (my kids, of course) were thrilled by the result. The picture really doesn't do it justice, so promise me you'll let me know how yours turns out!

Here are some notes about the recipe: it's flexible. My favorite recipes tend to be. You can jazz these up any way you'd like, as long as you have enough binding agent to keep them firm (peanut butter, brown rice syrup, honey)

Veganmama's Peanut Butter Granola Surprise (surprise, as in, "surprise! they aren't granola bars!)

4 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped (or whichever nut you choose)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter, melted
1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or honey, or a mix of the two)

add ins: chocolate chips (I like mini), dried fruit, seeds, coconut

* I used mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries and some raw sesame seeds in the recipe above *

In a large bowl combine oats, chia seeds and peanuts. Add brown rice syrup and mix to combine. Add melted peanut butter and mix until moistened (I used my hands.) At this point, add in some mix-ins and then add more peanut butter or brown rice syrup to keep it a little moist.

Press mixture into a pan lined with my favorite thing ever: non-stick Reynold's wrap in a 9x13 dish. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Let them cool completely (sometimes I speed along the process by putting things in the fridge or freezer).

When you cut into it, it'll break into nice big chunks, which make a terrific topping for your cereal, frozen dessert or smoothie.

And while we're talking desserts, have you made my ENERGY BARS yet?

Who's hungry now? :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

A great grab-and-go lunch at Trader Joe's!

You can't imagine how excited I am for our area to FINALLY get a Trader Joe's later this year! For those of you lucky enough to already have one in your area, I've been making little pilgrimages to the closest one (45 minutes away) for ten years. The idea of having one 15 minutes away is like Christmas morning every time I think about it. The nuts, the dried fruit, the flowers, the awesome ready-made lunches....

Speaking of that, my husband and I recently went away for a BADLY needed getaway (!) and stopped by that area's TJ's for some necessities (remind me that dark chocolate- covered fig bites are not really a necessity) and I came across this salad.

Everything about it appealed to me: spinach, quinoa, carrots, cranberries, chickpeas, edamame, pumpkin seeds and a carrot ginger miso dressing, for $3.99. Although it doesn't look very large,
it was large enough to eat for dinner that night, served with a nice side of bread.

Remember, quinoa is a super easy thing to have ready-made and kept in your fridge. What's stopping you from putting a scoop onto your salad or into your bowl of soup? I always try to keep chickpeas, quinoa and lentils cooked and ready to go. All are incredibly good for you and are often just the thing to jazz up a meal!

Friday, February 17, 2012

What in the world is....Rooibos?

Today's "What in the world is?" focuses on one of my favorite afternoon friends: ROOIBOS TEA (pronounced "roy boss")

There is nothing as good as a warm cup of rooibos on a cold New England afternoon!

Rooibos is as beautiful red tea that hails from South Africa and is also referred to as "African Red Bush" tea. It has a lovely naturally sweet flavor (it needs nothing to sweeten it!) and is naturally caffeine free. Do you believe me when I say I don't *do* caffeine? Funny how that freaks people out. I wonder if people could give up their meat more easily than their caffeine? I digress...

So here are some of the cool details of rooibos, courtesy of wikipedia:

"Rooibos is becoming more popular in Western countries, particularly among health-conscious consumers, due to its high level of antioxidants such as aspalathin[3] and nothofagin, its lack of caffeine, and its low tannin levels compared to fully oxidized black tea or unoxidized green tea leaves.

Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems.[6]

Two rooibos flavonoids, quercetin and luteolin have been known to have cancer fighting qualities [7]. Rooibos does not contain the antioxidant Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).[8]

Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos in South Africa include alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems."

So basically, it's super good for you, easy to find at any grocery store, and won't keep you up all night. If you're a Starbucks person, try their vanilla rooibos soy latte. It's about $3.00 and is heavenly (pictured below).
If you're in the mood to treat yourself, for about $13 you can get a tin of the BEST of the best (in my opinion!). It's this "Double Red" from The Republic Of Tea (baby bro and the husband, here is a gift opportunity shout out :) Okay dear readers, tell me, what hot beverage are you enjoying these days?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Homemade Dryer Sheets

Good Morning! Today's post is leaning away from the usual food topic and focusing on a way we can scent our clothes in the dyer without using dyer sheets, which have been linked to problems.

According to

"America has a love affair with artificial fragrance and products that contain it. The amount of fragrance that goes into the average household in America is absolutely astounding. It’s found in all sorts of products but one of the most common is dryer sheets. As it turns out, dryer sheets are absolutely loaded with artificial fragrance. In fact, they serve more of a function of perfume sheets than any other practical function in the dryer.

When people use dryer sheets, they are coating their cloths with a thin film of artificial chemical perfumes. Just like other perfumes, a person’s sensitivity to these perfumes decreases over time to the point where they don’t even notice how potent these artificial fragrance chemicals are."

WHO KNEW!?! So here is a great alternative:

Here is how I scent my clothes in the dryer:

Put four to five drops of an essential oil (I like lemon or lavender) onto a clean washcloth and throw it in with your wet clothes. HOW GREAT IS THAT? :) I use the Aura Cacia brand, which is calming and smells lovely.

Have you ever tried this? Please tell us what scent you prefer!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What the BULK?!?!? Popcorn!

Happy Valentine's Day dear readers! I thought it would only be appropriate today to focus on a heart-healthy snack. Popcorn. Remember popcorn? That simple, inexpensive, perfect snack food that has been replaced by the nasty stuff we pop in a microwave? When's the last time you made popcorn on the stove and topped it with a pinch of sea salt? Or even better, air popped it and really focused on the crunch of a freshly-popped kernel?

Here is a different and fun popcorn recipe, courtesy of The Spicy Vegan:

Nutritional Yeast Popcorn

2 tbsp of grapeseed oil *veganmama note: it's good because it has very little taste and can handle high temps!*

1/2 cup of yellow or white popcorn

a spritz of olive oil spray

1/2 cup of nutritional yeast

1 tsp of sea salt

dash of cayenne (optional)

Place oil and kernels in a heavy pot with a tight-fighting glass lid on medium-high heat. Using oven mitts, shake pot to coat the kernels with oil. Continue shaking every 20-30 seconds, never letting it rest on the heat for more than 30 seconds. After all kernels are popped transfer to an extra large bowl. Lightly spritz with olive oil spray and start shaking in the salt and nutritional yeast. Repeat this process as you continue shaking the bowl until all contents are evenly coated. Top off with a dash of cayenne (if using) and give it a final shake. Throw on a movie and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Now this has nothing to do with food, but because it's the day of LOVE, I thought I'd leave you with a clip from one of my favorite movies, "Cinema Paradiso." It speaks for itself!

I love my readers!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins review: Brighter By Nature™ SPF 35 Skin tone correcting moisturizer

We've all heard it millions of times: to keep your skin young looking (and more importantly) safe, you need to wash your face in the morning and apply a daily SPF. And not just in the summer, YEAR round. This product by Origins is something I've been using for a few weeks. Here are my thoughts, and some interesting facts and figures:
My thoughts:

It's likely I will mention this for every Origins product I review: it smells terrific. Not a strong scent, but it smells clean and fresh.

One of the things that has bothered me about my complexion are the small brown spots I'm starting to get on the sides of my face. What can I say, I'm 39 years old and wasn't always as careful about sun protection as I should have been (Hello 1990's! Sitting outside the college dorm spraying my face and body down with water to get a tan? Can anyone relate? Sadly, I bet you can!) So the little spots are starting to appear, as well as some general discoloration. So a product that is useful for correcting skin tone is something that appeals to me.

The facts from Origins:

Brighter By Nature SPF 35 Skin tone correcting moisturizer

Suitable for all skin types, this lightweight face cream while not offering the same results, provides a pain-free, 2-in-1 alternative to laser procedures to help fade existing dark spots while also preventing future discoloration. Formulated with a clinically-proven blend of highly-efficacious ingredients that help break the cycle of discoloration, this oil-free moisturizer encourages a uniform complexion to return. Past damage is undone with the help of Palmaria palmata along with cluster-busting Turkey Tail Mushroom and Ascorbyl Glucoside, naturally-derived Vitamin C, which work together to target and help disperse the appearance of existing dark spots. Scutellaria Root along with Apple and Cucumber Extracts help even skin tone, while Japanese Basil Leaf, Peony Extract and Burnet Extract provide soothing, anti-irritant benefits. Additionally, the combination of Grapeseed Phosphate, a potent antioxidant, and a blend of sunscreens provide broad-spectrum UV protection to help discourage future discoloration from forming.

This product is $43.50 a jar, which will last you a very long time, as I've been using mine a while now and it's going far :)

Have you tried this particular product? If so, please tell us your impressions!

Friday, February 10, 2012

What is the world is...Spirulina

What in the world is spirulina, anyway?I admit, I've had it in drinks (from Whole Foods) and energy bars I've bought in bulk at various healthfood stores without knowing what it really IS. Have you ever had a little energy bar made with nuts, spirulina and carob? They are strangely addictive! But what in the world IS it?

From, "This tiny aquatic plant has been eaten by humans since prehistoric times and is grown worldwide as a healthy food. Imagine a vegetable with more protein than soy, more Vitamin A than carrots, more iron than beef, profound source of protective phytochemicals, naturally low in fat, source of the essential fatty acid GLA and is easy to digest."

I can't comment on whether or not any of the health claims of spirulina are true, but at least we now know what it is!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Butternut Squash with Cider Mustard Viniagrette

Do you crave squash like I do? I don't know, maybe it's leftover love of Thanksgiving dinner or the cool air, but I NEED squash at least once a week in the fall and winter. And living in Massachusetts, it's going to be nice and cool for a few more months, so you can warm up your kitchen making these harvesty foods.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cider Mustard Vinaigrette:

3 small butternut squash (2 lb. each), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch thick half moons (as pictured above) *tip: buy them already peeled so you can easily slice into half moons!*

8 shallots, cut into wedges

4 T olive oil

1 cup apple CIDER (not juice)

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 T whole-grain mustard (it will say "whole grain" on the jar and will look grainy)

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat oven to 375. Divide the vegetables between two large rimmed baking sheets. Toss with 2 T oil and season with a total of 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast, turning once, about 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, simmer the cider in a small saucepan until it's reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, mustard, parsley and the remaining 2 T oil, plus 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper.

Transfer the squash and shallots to a serving dish and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The greatest Ginger dressing!

Some day soon I'm going to swear off all bottled salad dressings and make my own (note to self: follow your own advice!). Until then, I'm hooked on this gem I discovered in the sushi department of Whole Foods:

You know when you go to a Japanese restaurant and they serve a fresh little iceberg lettuce salad topped with cukes and shredded carrots? Not the most exciting thing going in the salad world. However, topped with a dressing like this and it takes it to a whole other level!

It never occurred to me that I could buy that sort of dressing at a grocery store, but you can. It's a little high in fat, but my goodness, it's so good it's completely fine! The cost is about $5 a bottle, but like most things in life, you get what you pay for!

So grab a bottle of Genji dressing and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What the BULK?!?!? Brown rice makes a super easy lunch or dinner!

As much as we all love to cook every night (a-hem...not really, right?) sometimes you just need to throw something together quickly. And quick doesn't have to mean processed. In fact, I'd say making something like this can be done in about five minutes, as long as you have a little stash of brown rice already cooked and waiting in the fridge (which is a good idea, in general!) *side note: why not keep some quinoa, lentils and brown rice in the fridge for quick go-to lunches?*

One of my favorite go-to super quick (cheap!) and easy dinner goes something like this:

Fill a bowl with some cooked brown rice (so nutty and filling!)
Top with rinsed beans (either black or pinto)
Top with salsa (peach? mango? Spring anyone?)
Top with some defrosted frozen shoe-peg corn (so sweet!)
Zap it in the microwave. That's it! :)

And then jazz it up: avocado, green onions, chopped cilantro....the sky's the limit! Remember, meals like this are easy, affordable AND good for you! Cooking doesn't need to be some complicated event!

I imagine grad students all over the country already live on this :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

SPRING vegetarian night at my house

Have you been following the blog and are ready to come to my house for dinner?

Sometime in the next few weeks I'll be hosting a very special gathering at my house: a second "vegetarian tasting night" !

I initially came up with the idea late last summer and hosted five friends here at my house. Each person paid a small fee and I served a five course tasting menu! The first tasting consisted of:

White Bean Dip
Kale Chips
Roasted Butternut Squash/Carrot Curry Soup
Escarole with Chickpeas and Carmelized Onions
Cold Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Fresh Herbs
Raw Date and Nut Balls

While we ate we shared stories of food/eating and offered eachother advice and inspiration. I loved every minute of it and (I say this all the time) continue to learn from my amazing peers and readers.

While I prepare food you'll get to watch the process and also learn a thing or two about what I'm doing and why :)

Please keep an eye out for information regarding the Spring 2012 tasting. I'll likely cap it at 10 people, so if you're interested, don't pause! Last time it filled up quickly!

Question: If you're planning on coming, any particular recipe you'd like to taste?

Friday, February 3, 2012

What in the world is....Carob?

Remember carob? It's one of those foods I had tried when I was a kid (my brother had a lot of allergies as a child and my mom would bring me along to the old-fashioned hippy healthfood store...perhaps that's back when I become interested in all this stuff? :) As a kid, I really didn't care for it, feeling fooled that it looked like chocolate and wanting it to taste like chocolate. However, the other day I picked up a trail mix that had an assortment of nuts and dried fruits in it, as well as carob chips. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it and my kids did as well. So what is it, anyway?

Carob is a tropical pod that contains a sweet, edible pulp and inedible seeds. After drying, the pulp is roasted and ground into a powder that resembles cocoa powder, but does not have the same flavor and texture of chocolate.

Carob is very nutritious. Carob contains as much Vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries; as much niacin as lima beans, lentils, or peas; and more Vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus, and beets. It also contains Vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the trace minerals iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and nickel. It contains approximately 8 percent protein and is a good source of fiber. Compared to chocolate, carob is three times richer in calcium, has one third less calories and seventeen times less fat.
Carob also has therapeutic uses. It is known to halt serious cases of diarrhea in adults, infants, and animals. Use 1 tablespoon of carob power in a cup of liquid, or make a paste of carob powder and water. It is also known to help with nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
One tablespoon of unsweetened carob powder has 25 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 6 grams carbohydrate. By comparison, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 12 calories, 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 3 grams of carbohydrate.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Abe's Market

I really appreciate when people reach out and tell me about products or websites that I could talk about on the blog. One of my readers brought a great website to my attention: an online market called Abe's Market.

Abe's Market is a site with a focus on providing shoppers with natural and environmentally sound products.

From their site: "Abe's Market is the online marketplace for great natural products. We connect buyers seeking amazing natural products with the people who make them. There's no need to prowl the Internet for a broader natural product selection than can be found at your local natural market. At Abe's Market, you can get all your natural product buying done in one place.

Too often today, we buy products without knowing the origin of the products. At Abe's Market you can discover fantastic natural products while having the unique opportunity to learn the story behind them – straight from the products' creators. This valuable background goes beyond what can be found on a label. Who makes the product? What's in it? Where is it made? How? You can even chat directly with sellers to ask specific questions so you know that you can trust and be comfortable with the products you bring into your home."

They sell products for babies and kids; food; beauty; bath and body; health; the home; fashion and pet care.