Thursday, July 15, 2010

I just learned about this food nutrient density rating system, and I had to share!  Here's to your health, America!

http://www.eatrightamerica.com/andi-superfoods

Friday, July 9, 2010

Health-full Kitchen Tip: Blackberry Smush



This week, we got two pints of gorgeous blackberries in our CSA delivery.  I love summer -- so much delicious, wonderful fruit.  Though I have to say, this July weather in Los Angeles is cold, gray, and depressing ... and endless, it seems.  What gives?  Well, eating bright, health-full food helps give me a little morning boost when there's no sunshine to do it.

Anyway, back to the blackberries.  This morning, there were five left over, sitting in the fridge, waiting patiently to be eaten.  Now usually I just eat them whole, but today I had this notion that I could warm them up slightly in the toaster oven (on top of my waffle), and smush them gently with a fork to make a sort of chunky, no-sugar-added, jam.  You see, I usually run on sugar, and my addiction was getting out of hand.  I've been trying to wean myself from this very unhealth-full addiction, and lately, I've been trying ways to have delicious treats with no added sugar.  Enter stage left: blackberry smush.

There's no recipe for this; I'm not even sure it warrants a blog post.  But it worked for me, and I love to share health-full tips, in case they might work for you, too.  Here's what you do: toast a piece of bread, a waffle, whatever you like, in a toaster oven*.  When it's lightly toasted, place the blackberries on top of the bread, and turn the toaster oven to broil.  Let the blackberries warm up under the heat of the broiler for 15 seconds - 1 minute, depending on if your blackberries are at room temperature or cold from the fridge.  Won't take too long.  You can poke them with your finger to see if they feel warm.  Now, pull your toast/waffle out and stick it on a plate, and then take a fork and gently smush the blackberries.  They'll spit some blackberry juice, so have caution when smushing and be sure you're not wearing your Sunday finery.

There -- you've now got toast or waffle, fancied up with some warm blackberries!

Salud!

*(If you don't have a toaster oven, you can do this in the regular oven: put it on broil, put your bread underneath, and when the top starts to brown, flip over to toast the other side, and then add your berries.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime Yum: Fried Green Tomatoes


I have wanted to make fried green tomatoes ever since I saw the movie a million years ago as a kid.  And it just so happened that on this lovely summer day, our weekly CSA delivery included three fat tomatoes, and one of them was nice and firm and green.  It also happened that fried green tomatoes seemed the perfect accompaniment to the dish of sauteed corn and zucchini with caramelized onions, oregano, and cilantro.  Turns out, fried green tomatoes are super easy to make and ridiculously tasty.  Now I'm going to have to scour farmers' markets to see if I can get more!  

My Joy of Cooking says that the recipe was "the traditional solution to the problem of tomatoes that do not have time to ripen before the first frost."  Well, there you go.  I'm not sure if the first frost has passed, but I'm guessing it has.  But that lovely green tomato that was gifted to me today suggests that perhaps there is hope indeed.

Here's how to make them, thanks to the inspiration from The Joy of Cooking.

What you need:

-- 1 to 2 green tomatoes
-- 1/2 c. ground cornmeal
-- 1/4 c. all purpose flour
-- seasonings: salt, pepper, and a sprinkling any dried or fresh herbs you want to use (thyme, parsley, etc.)
-- 1/4 c. unsweetened, non-dairy milk
-- olive oil

Here's what to do:

1.  Prep the tomatoes.  Wash and remove the stem ends, then cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.

2.  On a plate, gently combine cornmeal, flour, and seasonings, and mix with your fingers or a spoon.  Put the 1/4 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk in a small bowl.

3.  Dip the tomato slices in the milk, then coat with the cornmeal/flour mixture, and shake off excess.  Set aside.

4.  Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  When the oil is hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle, gently place your tomato slices in the pan.  Let cook until golden and crisp, and then flip (adding more oil if necessary) and let the other side get nice and golden and crisp.

5.  Serve piping hot, but be careful -- you'll want to gobble these up and they'll certainly burn your mouth!  Worth it, nevertheless.

Salud!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Judgment, Just Love: Start Where You Are


I've said it before, but I'll say it again: vegan is not a four letter word.  But, yes, it can be a daunting word.

Heck, even I'm daunted by it sometimes.  Though I eat a plant-based, vegan diet, I've chosen to abandon the "vegan" label.  Why?  First of all, I want my choices to be sustainable (and doable) for the rest of my life.  If I feel like I "can't" have something, then I want it all the more.  And I don't want to feel like crap if I decide to eat a doughnut (can't the doughnut do that all on its own?).  Thus, I can eat whatever I want, and I simply choose a plant-based diet because it tastes the best and feels the best for me.  To be honest, there's nothing I feel like I'm "missing."  I love the way I eat.

Second, I'm human.  All I can do is the best I can.  (Isn't that all we can ever do?)  That means that on occasion, such as when I travel, I opt for vegetarianism when necessary.  There was a time that I felt awful about that, or about when I scarfed a churro at Disneyland, but no longer.  I'm human, and I'm doing the best that I can, and I don't want to judge myself or others.  Aren't we all doing the best we can with where we are?

What this world needs -- in my humble opinion -- is a heck of a lot more love.  So I love me, and I love you, and I trust that we're all doing the best that we can.

A friend of mine posted this great quote on Facebook recently: "Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can; and it will be enough."

Love that.

By the by, if you're curious about trying a vegan diet for a day, a week, or a month, or just learning more about it, this is a great article by Virginia Messina, "Go Vegan in 10 Easy Steps."  She gives some great tips for transitioning.  It's a big transition too; if you opt for it, go slowly and gently, and give yourself lots of love and encouragement.  It will also take a little while (not too long) for your body to adjust to a totally different way of eating.  So be as patient as you can.  Remind yourself that you're choosing health and compassion for you, the planet and the animals.  But most of all, choose it for you.

Salud!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Delicious and Simple Healthfullness: Sauteed Cannellini Beans with Fresh Chard


A little over a year ago, I was researching and writing an article on Hollywood vegans for The Food Magazine.  What stood out to me then, and what still does, is that in each of the interviews with actresses Emily Deschanel, Lake Bell, and Vanessa Lengies, and with writer (of Skinny Bitch fame) Rory Freedman, each raved about the deliciousness of vegan food and also how your tastes change when you start eating more healthfully.

It seems to good to be true, I know.  I once had a torrid love affair with butter, so believe me, I wanted to believe this magical prophesy even as I was skeptical.  Gotta say, folks, it's true.  If you give your taste buds and your body a chance to adjust to healthful eating, you won't crave anything (unhealthy) that you're not eating.  Seriously.  Just ask my husband who once said he'd never give up hamburgers and one day found himself simply not wanting to eat them.  Wowzers.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thought for the Day: Love Yourself


I read this yesterday, and it spoke to me.  Perhaps it will speak to you too.

"Love yourself so that you can take care of yourself.  Do everything you can to strengthen your heart, your body, and your mind.  Turn to the Power within you.  Find a good spiritual connection, and really work on maintaining it." -- Louise Hay, The Power is Within You

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fresh, Organic Produce: Delivered!



Farm fresh to me, indeed!  A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine mentioned Farm Fresh To You, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers fresh, organic fruits and veggies right to your door (in the Bay Area and Los Angeles). So I signed up for a weekly delivery -- we eat a lot of fresh stuff and it goes fast, but you can also sign up for every other week, every third week, every forth, etc... -- and today, our first delivery arrived!  What a marvel!  The farmers' market right to my door!  Gives a whole new meaning to "farm-to-table."

CSAs aren't new, I know, but they're new to me.  And what a better way to support local growers, to get fantastic produce, and to eat healthfully, without doing anything, really, except answering the door.

I love farmers' markets, but I don't always have time to go.  Now, I can be assured of a weekly visit to the farm without having to go anywhere.  Genius.  They'll even deliver to your office, so you've got no excuses.  Plus, they provide recipes on how to cook all those marvelous veggies.  Want to sign up for a CSA, learn more about them or find one in your area?  Visit LocalHarvest and bring on the fresh produce.  

Today's delivery includes: one cantaloupe, two white peaches, strawberries, one Eureka lemon, six apricots, a pound of asparagus, three ears of white corn, a bunch of broccoli, a huge bunch of green chard, one head of green leaf lettuce, one giant yellow onion, and a bunch of fresh rosemary.  Phew!  I can't wait to get eating.  In fact, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to go dive into some fruit.  But don't worry, I'll be sure to share the recipes for how to cook all of this CSA deliciousness.

Salud!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Living Life Passionately: A Conversation with James Stellar

Photo copyright James Stellar

In my own journey to find meaning and joy in my life, I've met James Stellar along the way.  James is the founder and director of the Spirit Nature Center for Consciousness, "A Spiritual Resource & Advocacy For Living Life Passionately."  James is also a generous and loving soul who has kindly shared his wisdom and insight with us, that we all might find what we seek.  Thank you, James!  (For more information on James and to contact him, please visit his website, http://www.spiritnature.com.)

Health-Full Life: Please tell us a little about yourself and your work.

James StellarFor over twenty five years I have worked as a Spiritual Advocate assisting people to get in their bodies (as amusing as that sounds), to live a much more positive and authentic lives, to manifest their own unique creative passions, to learn to release and Heal  their aches and pains, and to reveal their Spiritual Brightness. 

Overall I have a passion to teach.  I have a real joy to awaken in others a greater Spiritual understanding, growth and wonder, wellness and wellbeing and see it blossom in the lives of the people I meet.

There are a great many illusions in life, so assisting others to witness the bright illumination of recognition is a powerful and profound moment. I have traveled the planet sharing my information and at the same time being greeted by others and their cultures, beliefs and practices. From all of this as well – and my Astral travels – I have developed a series of programs to Spiritually reveal individuals so that they can vibrate in a much higher frequency of authenticity and joy. Some actually learn to become Healers themselves. 

I get great joy in helping people to recognize their true selves, and the great cosmic joke of all is that I learn a great deal  and increase my own Spiritual Awareness in the process. When I am not traveling and teaching around the United States, I am home-based in San Francisco where I live aboard my yacht.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Better than Take-Out: Homemade Pad Thai


For me, Pad Thai is the ultimate comfort food (one of 'em anyway): slightly sweet, slightly spicy pan-fried noodles topped with fresh herbs, chopped peanuts, and sliced scallions.  And so it was a recent revelation when I discovered that the Pad Thai I'd been making at home outshone that from our favorite take-out place.

Even better is that this recipe isn't difficult.  Yes, to be honest, it does take some time and requires some chopping, etc., but for homemade Pad Thai, it's worth it.  The good news is that the sauce is made from cupboard/refrigerator staples.  So even if you don't have a ton of fresh stuff to go in the Pad Thai, you can still get a bowlful of sweet, spicy noodles on the table.  Also, feel free to throw in some sauteed tofu, or gussy it up with more veggies.  Whatever you like.  Plus, this recipe only has 2 tablespoons of oil, which you're welcome to reduce if you'd like.  This way, you get the taste of wonderful Pad Thai without excess oil.  Everyone wins!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Try A Little Kindness



The key to a health-full life?  Kindness.  And love.

Yesterday, Oprah's guest was Geneen Roth, author of the book, Women, Food, and God.  Oprah says she'll never diet again after reading Geneen's book, and if we all lived what Geneen writes about -- self-kindness and self-love -- who would need to?

You see, food isn't just food; food is life.  In Geneen's book (excerpt from Amazon.com) she writes, "...our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself.  I believe we are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions; everything we believe about love, fear, transformation, and God is revealed in how, when and what we eat.  When we inhale Reese's peanut butter cups when we are not hungry, we are acting out an entire world of hope or hopelessness, of faith or doubt, of love or fear."

I haven't read Geneen's book yet, but there's a great excerpt from her book here on Oprah.com (with some specific points on how to let yourself feel what you're feeling).  And I love that she pulls a beautiful line from the incomparable poet Galway Kinnell: "sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness." Geneen writes, "Everything we do, I tell my students, is to reteach ourselves our loveliness."

Try a little kindness for yourself.  No matter how things are right now, good or bad, just accept them as they are and love yourself anyway or because of it.  Just love yourself.  No matter what.  Treat yourself with loving care.  You deserve it.  You are the most important person in the world; you're the only one of you we've got.  If you can truly love yourself, I guarantee a health-full life is yours.

Salud!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Free Gratitude! (courtesy of momentary.org)



Dear readers, I have been looking forward to this post for some time now.  I've been helping a friend launch a new mobile gratitude app, and I'm excited to introduce you to Momentary.org.  Readers, meet Momentary!  Momentary, meet readers!  And let me get the freebies out here right up front: you can use the promo code "healthful" to use Momentary for free!  Hooray for freebies!

There, now that introductions are out of the way, what is Momentary and what is a mobile gratitude app?  Think of it this way: it's like a mobile gratitude journal.  Momentary is a service that sends you 2-3 text messages or emails (your choice) a day, with prompts that ask you to pause and notice something positive about your life or your day.

Here's a prompt I got today: "What is one thing that you have that no one could ever take away from you?" Think on it.  Discuss amongst yourself.

But wait, there's more!  When you respond to a prompt, your responses are collected in an online, confidential, password-protected, personal web journal for you.  So you can see your responses, download them, or do whatever you want.  And if you don't want to reply, that's okay too!  There's no right or wrong way to use the service.  The point is to pause, notice, and be grateful.

You see, there's some pretty cool research out there that shows that the more you notice the good things in your life, and the more gratitude you have, the happier you are.  And of course happier people are healthier, live longer, all that good stuff.  We're meant to be happy!  The best part is, we can find it in small ways.  That's where Momentary comes in.  These little reminders catch us when we're busy living our lives and encourage us to find a piece of gratitude right here, right now.

Try it for a week.  Hey, it's free, what do you have to lose?  (Remember, promo code is "healthful".)  I say you have a lot to gain.  Find your joy and spread it around!  And please help us spread the word about Momentary.org.  We'd be ever so grateful.

Salud!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Power Snack: Banana Date Smoothie


When I was a kid, one of my favorite snacks was my mom's banana smoothies.  My mom would make them with ice-cold milk and a banana, and that simple combo turned into something sweet and delicious, seemingly far more special than just milk and a banana.  (The wonders of the "puree" button on the blender, I suppose.)  And it was the perfect accompaniment to a peanut butter sandwich.

Today, I had a hankering for one of my mom's banana smoothies (hi, Mom!), but since I no longer eat dairy, I invented my own dairy-free version.  And with a chopped medjool date added in, it feels like a fancy, grown-up version of the original.  I have to admit, it's even tastier than the ones I remember as a kid.  Of course it's ridiculously simple.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Domestic Heaven: Dark Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread


Is there anything that says "domestic bliss" like banana bread?  I think not.  And dark chocolate chunk banana bread?  Well, that's gotta be domestic heaven.  Plus, this version is egg- and dairy-free, so not only can you enjoy the delicious baked bread, you can also lick your batter-covered spatula (love that) free of worries about the dangerous bacteria that linger in raw eggs.

Calling this "bread" is a bit generous, since with 1/2 cup of sugar, it's more cake-y than bread-y.  But in my mind, a health-full life includes some indulgence.  And as this recipe only has 3 tablespoons of canola oil, and as dark chocolate is so full of antioxidants it's practically a vitamin itself, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without a ton of guilt.  

This is a quick, delicious version that also happens to be vegan (as I mentioned), inspired by Robin Robertson's version from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  (Not surprisingly, 1,000 Vegan Recipes is a mighty tome, and worth a perusal or purchase.  If you're trying to eat more plant-based meals, or just eat more veggies, the book covers everything, and is a great resource to have.)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Instant Bruschetta = Instant Gratification


Instant bruschetta = instant gratification.  See, I had to take a bite even before I took a picture.  Sometimes the art has to wait.

This is a ridiculously simple recipe.  In fact, it's barely a recipe.  It's more of a reminder.  You see, I was a feeling a tad peckish just now, and at first, the best my brain could come up with was toast.  Now I adore toast -- just ask my Facebook page -- and I'm never disappointed with plain ol' (soy) buttered toast.  But the kitchen angels smiled upon me today as I popped into the toaster the last two slices of a nice loaf of rosemary olive bread that we picked up yesterday.  First, I thought I might smear my with some nice ripe avocado.  Nope, the avocados on the counter are green rocks; not ready to eat for at least another six weeks.  (Ha.)  But then my gaze alighted upon that bright red thing in front of the avocados, screaming for attention.  Yes, the wonderful, adoration-worthy tomato.  (True, it's too early for tomatoes, season-wise.  But we're getting there.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2 Minutes of Peace

video

This is, admittedly, a terrible video. Nothing happens. The view is lacking. The quality is lousy. But you know what? That's the point. See, the two minutes of peace are for you; they're not about the video. It's not about being entertained.

You see, I was sitting, watching the rain just now (and now you see what I see from my living room), and I felt such peace. And I thought you might like to feel it too.

So take two minutes and just breathe. Quiet your mind as best you can, and if you can't, don't worry about it. Just give yourself two minutes of peace. From everything. Let it all go for two minutes. Don't worry, you can pick it all up on your way out if you'd like. (Feel free to leave it, though.)

Close your eyes if you like, and listen to the (faint) sound of the rain. Or listen to your breath instead. Or keep your eyes open if you're more comfortable that way. Whatever you choose, just be sure to give yourself two minutes of peace. It's the shortest, most wonderful gift you can give yourself right now.

Namaste.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wonderful, Humble Beet: the perfect happy hour appetizer


The humble beet.  So vibrant, and yet, so beet-y.  But these gorgeous crimson beets, and those in golden and rainbow hues, pack nutritional benefit.  Not surprisingly, that bright crimson pigment (called betacyanin) signifies the presence of antioxidant power.  Oh, antioxidants -- such beauty, such strength -- you have it all, don't you?  (Read more about the benefits of beets here.)

And I discovered recently that beets don't need much to shine.  Plus, they make an excellent happy hour appetizer when paired with a glass of lovely white wine.  So dress up your plate of sliced, roasted beets with champagne vinegar and olive oil and indulge.  (And feel free to use your fingers.)  Behold:



Roasting beets is easy, it just takes time.  But the good news is that you don't have to stand over the stove stirring, you can just pop 'em in the oven, and an hour or so later, they're ready to go.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shine as Brightly as You Can: You're Meant To


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. -- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

I love that quote.  I see it a lot, and I think it's worth plastering everywhere as a reminder to ourselves: we are meant to shine as brightly as we can.  The passage that follows that quote in Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love is brilliant and beautiful.  I'll let her words speak:
"We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small doesn't serve the world.  There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Shine on you crazy diamond, shine on.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Pedestal-worthy, Sicilian-street-food-inspired Sandwich


Oh yeah, does this sandwich deserve a pedestal.  Look at that gorgeousness.  This sandwich will transport you to Sicily.

Trust me, there is a far better way to get a tasty, satisfying, protein-rich lunch than some limp slices of luncheon meat slapped between two pieces of bread.  Not to mention that those nitrates found in cold cuts are evil incarnate: processed meats (and nitrates/nitrites) are to colon cancer what cigarettes are to lung cancer.  Want the facts?  The American Cancer society summarizes a study that details the risk of eating processed meats here; note that consuming as (seemingly) little as 2-6 ounces of cold cuts a week, which ain't a lot really, a couple of sandwiches perhaps, can raise your colon cancer risk by 50%.  Fifty percent, my friends!  For a lousy old sandwich or two!  Scared straight yet?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spinach, get yer spinach here! (Tuck it into a little orzo and dress it up.)


Orzo Spinach Salad: A beautiful summery dish for a glorious, sunshiney day.  But this salad works year round, and I have to say, that's one of the best things about it -- in addition to the fact that it's hearty, quick and easy, beautiful, and delicious, of course.  You toss just-cooked, olive-oil-drizzled, warm orzo pasta together with chopped fresh spinach, and come out with a flavorful meal that's great year round, and chockfull of health.  Plus it's a fantastic what-the-heck-should-I-make-for-dinner option when your cupboards are running a little on the bare side, as you can keep a box of orzo in the cupboard, and a jar of olives, or artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers, or chickpeas or cannellini beans, so you can make this salad in a flash if you just add fresh spinach.  

And if you've been lucky enough to grab fresh tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, or zucchini, so much fancier will your salad be.  Not to mention that if spinach is a four letter word in your house, the more you disguise it and dress it up with other goodies, the less likely you are to get complaints.  (I think.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tip of the Day: Make it Easy


I'll be the first to admit that grabbing some fruits or veggies to snack on when you're really hungry isn't always the first choice.  We all know it should be, but sometimes that nice glass bowl of mini chocolate bars at the office gets the better of us.  (Or pretzels.  Or chips.  Or...)  Actually, it's not really our faults; it's science.  Some years ago I read about a Cornell study that found that people are likely to eat more candy in the office if it's out and visible (and even if we're not hungry).  See?  It's not us, it's science.

The good news is that we can use this info to our benefit.  Put out the healthy stuff.  If you see it, you're more likely to eat it.  A bowl of blueberries or strawberries, or keep cut up veggies on a plate in the fridge so that when you open the door, lo and behold: crudite!  Do some prep work ahead of time and you'll enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of your labor for a few days while you righteously snack on fruits and veggies.  (Check you out!)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roasted, Golden Potato Pizza: Sunshine on a Plate


Today is a gray, rainy Monday -- perfect for baking some sunshine in your kitchen, with a roasted potato pizza.  Lovely Yukon Gold potatoes are sliced into golden discs that are quickly roasted (before the pizza is baked) to give them even more color and flavor, and they make this one of the cheeriest pizzas I've ever seen.  (Though there's really no such thing as a grouchy pizza; it's just not possible.)  

Plus, this pizza is cheese (and dairy) free, so it's practically guilt free, but also delicious and flavorful, with that extra bonus of being nice and comfort-food-y as it's pizza and roasted potatoes in one!  Not to mention that those lovely yellow potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C and B6, plus iron and protein.  (One approx. 5 ounce potato has 45% of your RDA for vitamin C and 10% for B6, plus 6% of your daily iron, and 4 grams of protein.  Read more health facts here.)  And if you eat a slice or two (or five, let's be honest here) with a nice green salad, you can definitely feast quite health-righteously.  Of course, it's easy; you know me.  Here's the lowdown.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On This We Must Insist: Fight For Your Time!


Anne Lamott may not approve of this post.  Actually, she might not mind the post so much, as it's something I enjoy and something for me, but the fact that I will post a link to it on Twitter would probably driver her batty.  Or more likely, she'd just sigh and ask rhetorical questions like, "Didn't you read what I wrote?  Didn't you get it?"

Anne Lamott is one of my heroes.  She's a writer who I ardently adore, who makes me laugh out loud, and who speaks to me (as she does to all of us) with her blunt honesty.  She slays and saves with one deft stroke of her pen, or her keyboard, as it probably is.  I'm always delighted to find pieces she's written, and I wish she would join Twitter so that I could follow her.  You can never have too much Anne Lamott.

Alas, she will never join Twitter.  Never.  That much became clear to me in the current issue of Sunset Magazine (April 2010) where she writes a first person account called "Time Lost and Found," and demands that we put ourselves first.  And to do that, she tells us, "your manic forms of connectivity -- cell phone, email, text, Twitter -- steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement."  I told you she won't join Twitter.  She's too busy living a rich life of amazement and wonder, and probably a little neurosis thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

5 Minute Meal: Warm Fennel and Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Parsley


The lovely fennel bulb.  Fennel is a relatively new love for me, and I love this simple, fast recipe to prepare it.  Honestly, fennel doesn't look like much, and its cheap price -- it can usually be found for $1 a bulb -- makes it easy to overlook as nothing special.  But fennel has a lot to offer health-wise, in addition to taste-wise, and its lovely, slightly licorice-y taste.  Trust me, it's a delicate, mild flavor.  It's not like you'll feel like you're munching on a bag of black licorice candy.  So put your mind at ease, and give it a try!  Besides, for $1, what do you have to lose?

What you'll gain health-wise with fennel: it's a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, among other vitamins and minerals.  This page has great info about the health benefits of fennel, if you want to read more.

But let's get cooking!  Here's what you'll need:

-- 1 good-sized fennel bulb (or a couple of smaller ones if that's all you can find)
-- extra virgin olive oil
-- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-- 1/2 fresh lemon
-- handful of chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
-- salt and pepper

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eat a Rainbow: Go Boldly in the Direction of the Produce Section!




This morning, as I had my "superfoods" breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries, walnuts, a sprinkling of ground flaxseeds, and a dash of fortified, unsweetened soy milk (the more adjectives you can use to describe your food, the more health-righteous you can feel), I remembered an article I'd read, "Why an All 'Superfoods' Diet is a Mistake," that talks about how it's possible to get stuck in a superfood rut.  Of course it's very easy to get stuck in a regular old food rut (actually, this blog forces me to break out of the routine of cooking the same old things), and apparently even if you're eating all superfoods, and only the same ones, you're still in a rut.

Variety is indeed the spice of life.  We gotta mix it up, my friends.  (That's why tomorrow I intend to have a giant donut and coffee to balance my healthy breakfast today.  Kidding, I guess.)

That's where the rainbow comes in.  Fruits and vegetables are magical foods that have fantastic abilities to do good stuff for us, some of which we know, some of which is being discovered, and there's a ton more that we don't know, like the way they synthesize together after we've eaten them to do magically wonderful things for us.  Turns out eating as many different kinds as we can is better than eating a lot of just a handful of varieties, even if they're superfoods.

Friday, March 26, 2010

5 Minute Meal: Chipotle Black Bean Burritos (with all the fixins)


We eat a lot of burritos in our house because they're tasty, super fast to make, and they've got a lot of great nutrients in them.  Black beans are of course loaded with fiber, but they're also ridiculously high in antioxidants.  In fact, all beans are antioxidant superstars, so be sure you're eating them.  And yeah, if you're not used to eating the infamously "musical fruit," start slow, but keep eating them!  The more you eat beans, the better you can digest them.

Okay, onto the 5 minute meal.  Actually, this may be more of a 10 minute meal, but it's still super fast.  And I'm going to share a couple of tricks to make your average black bean burrito pretty darn extraordinary in taste and nutrition.  Here's what you'll need:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thought for the Day: It's The Little Things, After All



"Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important.  The reason it's important is that fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn't just ourselves that we're discovering.  We're discovering the universe." -- Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Isn't it funny how we need to learn to be kind to ourselves?  How we'll run ourselves ragged for other people and their needs, while we neglect ourselves and our needs until something breaks and we finally become aware?  Why is it that the easiest person to put last is ourselves?

Remember when you were a kid, and it was all you, all the time?  Kids are notoriously self-centered, and I'm not suggesting that's the way to go, but somewhere along the line we're taught that, no, in fact you are not the center of the universe.  We get the message that we should put our heads down, and get busy working.  (And usually, not for ourselves and what we want.)  Talk about taking the fun out of it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lunchtime Yum: Faux Egg Salad



I'm never quite sure what to call this eggless egg salad, as the description is a contradiction.  And yet, it works.  Anyway, bottom line is this: faux egg salad is mighty tasty, chock-full of protein and other healthy goodness, and cholesterol free.  Have with some whole wheat pita, some cucumbers, and cornichons (or other pickles); try it on toasted bread for a nice sandwich; put a scoop on some tomato slices or on a green salad and go to town.

Now, I'm going to use the "t" word, and I don't want you to go runnin' for the hills.  Tofu.  There, said it.  If you've never had it, if you don't know what the heck to do with it, are scared to try it, or even if you've had a bad experience with it, I think you'll be pleased with this recipe.  Crumbled tofu has a very similar texture to hard boiled eggs, and since this salad is full of tasty Vegenaise, curry powder, herbs, etc., you taste all of that flavorful goodness and get the taste and texture of egg salad minus all the artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat.  It's a win-win.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thought for the Day: All About Me?



Oh, the irony.  Writing about self-importance on a blog – the ideal "all about me" forum.  I see that. Actually, I get a little chuckle out of it. 

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the great book The Four Agreements (his website is here), advises not to take anything personally (the second agreement).  Why?  First off, he says, "personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about 'me.'"  Fair enough.  He goes on: "Nothing other people do is because of you.  It is because of themselves.  All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.  When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."  

So we're all in our little dream worlds, writing blogs, tweeting, etc. (and I write with tongue planted firmly in cheek here), and taking everything personally.  The reason why we take things personally? Fear.  That we're not good enough, that we're flawed, that we're not worthy, that (insert your own neurosis here).  And when we take things personally, we fortify that fear, and we get stuck in the whole cycle of I-feel-lousy-and-I'll-let-you-make-me-feel-worse-because-I'm-not-good-enough.  Or maybe it's just me.  (Awkward...)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Simple Pleasure: Fresh Papaya


Papayas are gorgeous aren't they?  Split them open, and they look like a vibrant Georgia O'Keefe painting. But as for the outside... That's another story.  Not if you want them ripe.  And you do; there's nothing like a bowl of fresh, bright-orange papaya, drizzled with a little fresh lime juice.

As you can see in the picture above, my fruit-ripeness-divination was slightly off.  The parts of the fruit that are darker orange are ready to eat, but the paler parts weren't quite ready.  I got impatient, and you can't get impatient with Mexican papayas.  In fact, you need to practically forget that you ever bought a fresh papaya, then suddenly remember two weeks later that that rotting carcass on your counter hiding behind another pile of fruit, a stack of bills, and a loaf of bread is in fact a fruit.  When your papaya looks like something that fell off the fruit truck on the way to market a month ago, rolled into a ditch where it will sat until it looks practically decayed, well, when that happens, it's time to eat your papaya.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rouille [roo-EE] = Dynamite Veggie Sandwiches, amongst other delicious offerings



Pure deliciousness.  I think that's the best description for this richly-flavored, roasted garlic, roasted pepper rouille.  What the heck is a rouille?  I'll let epicurious.com define:

rouille
[roo-EE, roo-YUH]
Literally French for "rust," culinarily rouille is a fiery-flavored, rust-colored sauce of hot chiles, garlic, fresh bread crumbs and olive oil pounded into a paste and often mixed with fish stock. It's served as a garnish with fish and fish stews such as BOUILLABAISSE.
Read More 

There you go.  Rust-colored is indeed accurate, as you can see in the picture.  Though, I'd revise the definition slightly for my purposes and call it fantastically-flavored, as my version is less "fiery" (though you could crank up the heat as much as you like) than that definition suggests.  Plus, I amended a recipe I found in the fantastic Sunset magazine a while back (September 2009; original recipe is here), and my version is vegetarian, and also vegan.  (P.S. "Vegan" is not a four letter word.  More on that another day.  Now, onto the rouille.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thought for the Day: Bloom First


This week, the sun has been shining on Los Angeles as we expect it to: brightly, clearly, and warmly. It's been a rainy, gray winter for this city of sun (and angels), and the early summer weather has been a welcome respite.

I've noticed these trees in places around the city, that burst into bloom before they grow leaves. They are forks of bare branches and trunks one day, and then the next, they've exploded into color. It's amazing. I don't know what kind of trees they are, and I don't want to know. They surprise me; floor me with their beauty. When, that is, I remember to look up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5 Minute Meal: Rice Bowl


Ah, the beloved rice bowl. So simple, so delicious, so... boring? Not with a little creativity. And it's that same creativity with flavor that keeps the rice bowl from becoming staid, and instead allows it become a versatile, go-to meal to suit your mood. Plus, a lot of rice bowl basics are shelf-stable and/or freezer ready, so it's the perfect 5 minute meal, and a great way to get your veggies.

Today was a rice bowl lunch kind of day for me. I had about 5 minutes to make lunch in between work projects, and after munching willy-nilly on scraps from the cupboards this morning, I was in the mood for something healthy, light and pure tasting. Asian flavors fit the bill today, and here are the basics for the rice bowl I made:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Welcome!

Hello, dear virtual friends, and welcome to the HealthFull Life blog!

I believe that life should be full: full of life, and full of health. This blog is an attempt to cull the best advice from all over on how to live happily and healthfully. A happy, healthy life seems so simple, and yet it can evade us. And so I'm writing to try and make both happiness and health a little easier for all of us, by doing some of the thinking and researching for you, and collecting it on one site.

A health-full life to you! Salud!