Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Ultimate Spice Rack - Product Review

J.K Adams 32 bottle spice rack.

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Luxury Spice Rack
My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. That was easy to answer - "a spice rack".  My spices were stuffed in the cabinet and despite all efforts to keep them alphabetized, they were randomly placed across 4 pullout shelves. When you have over 60 different spices in bottles, bags and tiny boxes, cooking becomes a nightmare. It's also impossible to keep track of what you have. When I was moving my spices into the new containers, I found bottles that were so old I couldn't remember where, why or when I bought them!

At first Doug thought this was a pretty lame gift idea since he didn't realize how luxurious a spice rack I had in mind. But when he saw the beautiful, hard rock maple, made in Vermont, rotating spice rack by J.K. Adams, (of course I provided him the link!) he knew that no other gift could please me more.

It was impossible to find my herbs in this mess!

JK Adams Spice Rack Review
* It comes in 3 different sizes - 16, 32 and 48 bottles.
* It's heavy and sturdy with Incredible craftsmanship.
* It's made in Vermont.
* Because it's vertical and it rotates, it takes up less space.
* Each spice is very visible and easy to access (and keep alphabetized!)
* The bottles are empty!!! Many sets come with spices you'll never use. I'd rather select my own and this is one of the main reasons I wanted this set.
* The labels come separately so you can select which ones you need.
* The set also  includes blank labels. If you need more, you can buy them online.
* Snap-on sifters come with the set which is handy for some spices.

You can custom label the empty jars.
You can buy extra blank or printed labels online
I love supporting companies like this!

* They are expensive but these spice racks are so sturdy and well built, they will last for generations!
* The 3 1/2 ounce bottles are smaller than store bought spices so if you want to put your existing spice bottles in the rack, they won't fit.
* I haven't found a way to professionally print the blank labels to match the ones that came with the set. Still working on that one.

Spice bottles from the store are larger than the ones in the set.
However, it's better to buy smaller amounts of herbs and spices and replenish them more often.

I love love love this spice rack. Getting my spices organized is something I should have done long ago. So if you like to cook, check out your spice situation and make sure they are fresh, in clear sight and easy to access. 
Remember, herbs and spices are concentrated and excellent sources of vitamins and phytochemicals. So don't forget to spice up your life!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Easy Black Bean, Corn And Quinoa Stuffed Peppers With Enchilada Sauce - Vegan And Gluten Free, Perfect For Your Super Bowl Buffet

Stuffed bell pepper halves are perfect for a casual buffet.

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Easy Entertaining
It's football season and friends and family may be gathering around the big screen, especially on super bowl weekend. Here's a simple crowd pleaser that can be made early in the day and baked right before half time.

Diet Friendly
No need to abandon our Vegan, High Fiber Diet. Each stuffed pepper half is less than 200 calories and provides a healthy 7 grams of dietary fiber. Quinoa and beans deliver high quality protein with all of the essential amino acids. 
And if you select a gluten free enchilada sauce, such as La Victoria, this dish is completely gluten free!

        *                *                *                *

Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Enchilada Sauce
Vegan, Gluten Free
Requires a 9" x 13" casserole dish
[makes 8 servings]

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup water
4 large green or red bell peppers
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 ounce can (no salt added) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
3/4 cups Daiya cheddar style shreds
1 3/4 cups gluten free enchilada sauce, medium spice

Rinse the quinoa in cold water for several minutes. Place in a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Carefully cut the peppers in half vertically. Remove the seeds and rinse. Steam or boil until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain.

Partially cook the peppers until they begin to soften

Heat the oil in a medium fry pan and cook the onions on medium low heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.

Mix in the cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, cumin, black pepper, salt (if desired), Daiya cheddar style shreds and 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir until well combined.

Combine the rest of the filling ingredients with cooked onions

Place 1 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9" x 13" casserole dish.
Fill each half pepper with the filling and place in the casserole dish.
Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce over the peppers.
Cover with foil and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve.

Bake in the oven covered with foil until hot.

Per serving (8): 195 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 90 mg omega-3 and 603 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 7.5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 7 g dietary fiber and 540 mg sodium.

For a complete meal, serve with Mango Avocado Salad with Lime Chia Dressing. This salad recipe can serve at least 4 people as a side salad. Double it to serve 8.

Mango avocado salad with lime chia dressing 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Orange-Ginger Butternut Squash And Dahl Soup With Black Rice - Featured In Today's High Fiber, Vegan Weight Loss Menu

Black rice adds contrast and antioxidants to this soup.

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Vegan, High Fiber Diet
On Tuesday I introduced our Vegan, High Fiber Diet to help shed some of those holiday pounds. Below is a sample high fiber, weight loss menu featuring a delicious low calorie soup that delivers 8 g of fiber by itself or 11 g of fiber when served with a very interesting black rice that I discovered this week.

Black Rice
I'm usually not an impulse shopper, especially in Costco where they typically sample all kinds of foods that I'd never eat. But this week they were handing out black rice cooked with some cranberries and pine nuts. I was hooked and immediately picked up a 4 pound bag of black rice - probably enough to last me several years!

1/4 cup dry black rice provides:
160 calories
1.5 g total fat, 0 saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
36 g carbohydrates
5 g protein
3 g dietary fiber
0 mg sodium

 Black rice tastes a bit sweet and is more delicate than brown rice. You can be sure something this rich in color is packed with antioxidant-rich phytochemicals. 

Black rice cooks like brown rice and can be made on the brown rice setting on your rice cooker.

Orange-Ginger Butternut Squash and Dahl Soup with Black Rice
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 6 servings]
Requires a blender

1 cup uncooked, black rice (you can use any rice, of course)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh ginger root
5 cups vegetable broth ( or 5 cups water plus 1 large Rapunzel vegan bouillon cube)
1 orange, zested and juiced (about 2 teaspoons zest and 6 tablespoons juice)
1 bay leaf
3 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 8 cups)
1 cup red lentil Dahl
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

Cook the rice according to manufacturers directions. If you have a rice cooker, prepare it on the brown rice setting.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 2 minutes.

Add the broth, the zest of 1 orange, the bay leaf, butternut squash and red lentils and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and cook on a low boil until the squash and lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.

Add broth, squash and dahl.

Cook until soft, about 30 minutes.

Place the soup in a blender and, in batches, process until smooth. Return soup to the pot.

Blend until smooth.

Stir in the orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup topped with mini scoops of black (or brown) rice. 

Per serving (without rice): 232 calories, 3 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 143 mg omega-3 and 472 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 10 g protein, 45 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber and 445 mg of sodium. 
 Per serving (with rice): 339 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 143 mg omega-3 and 472 mg omega-6 fatty acids*, 15 g protein, 81 g carbohydrates, 11g dietary fiber and 445 mg of sodium.
* essential fatty acids do not include contribution from black rice since that information is not available from the manufacturer.

Today's Vegan, High Fiber, Weight Loss Menu    

Today's menu provides around 1200 calories and 38 grams of fiber. If you are shooting for 1500 calories, you can add a snack in the afternoon of fruit and a handful of walnuts or a container of non-dairy yogurt.

Drink a glass of water upon waking, before each meal and between each meal and aim for 8 glasses a day.

* A hearty bowl of oatmeal with bananas, English walnuts and raisins 
* Green tea or black coffee 

This delicious oatmeal recipe keeps you full all morning!

* Hummus sandwich with avocado, roasted red pepper, thinly sliced cucumber and sprouts on whole grain bread

Substitute your favorite veggies if you like such as:
artichoke hearts, kalimata olives, butter lettuce, etc.

* Tossed green salad with low fat dressing
* Large bowl of butternut squash and dahl soup with scoops of black rice (see recipe above)

Place mini-scoops of black rice on top of the soup.

* 3 cups air-popped popcorn

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Forget Gimmicks Or Fad Diets - Lose Weight With A Vegan, High Fiber Diet!

Shed pounds the right way!

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Losing Those Holiday Pounds
It was fun wasn’t it? - big holiday dinners, drinks with family and friends, gift boxes of chocolates, watching movies instead of going to the gym. But all that fun probably added some unwanted pounds. And the alcohol, rich food and inactivity has probably left you feeling tired and maybe even a bit depressed. No problem, we can turn that around with a delicious, natural diet and some exercise. 

Although a raw food cleanse  is also a good way to lose weight, this "winter friendly" cleansing diet will focus on a balanced combination of raw and cooked vegan recipes. Why vegan? Because the key to healthy weight loss is eating lots of high fiber foods. Meat and dairy have zero fiber. 

Foods that are high in fiber can make you feel full longer, stabilize your blood sugar and naturally curb your appetite. Dietary fiber also protects against colorectal cancer and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Drinking lots of fluid along with eating foods high in fiber allows food to quickly move through your digestive tract which is very cleansing and detoxifying for your body. So besides losing weight, you will feel a lot better. 

Depending on your level of activity and how much you presently weigh, you should be able to easily shed 2 pounds a week. For example, someone weighing 150 pounds who consumes a high fiber, 1500 calorie per day diet and burns 500 calories exercising will lose 2.5 pounds in one week. 

High Fiber Vegan Diet - 7 Steps to Weight Loss

#1 - Things to avoid

* Avoid refined carbohydrates like sugar, agave, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, white pasta, white rice, and sugary drinks. These all tend to spike your blood sugar and do not easily satisfy your hunger. 
But don't worry - this isn't a carb-free diet. You'll be eating plenty of healthy and satisfying complex carbohydrates!

* Avoid alcohol. Sorry about that. Although a nice glass of wine certainly can have its place in a healthy diet, our goal here is to lose weight and detox a bit. Alcohol contains lots of empty calories, stresses the liver and can cause us to make bad food decisions. That piece of chocolate cake might be harder to pass up after you've had a drink or two. I know it is for me.

* Avoid eating out. Cooking at home makes it a lot easier to control what you are eating. It's impossible to gauge the amount of processed food, salt, fiber, calories and fat when you are eating in a restaurant. 

* Avoid meat and dairy. To detox our bodies and maximize fiber consumption, it's best to focus on eating protein with cleansing properties such as beans and lentils. If you are a meat eater, you can certainly reintroduce those foods back into your diet once you reach your goal weight but hopefully at a lesser amount than before.
(While on a vegan diet, supplement with vitamin B12, vitamin D and EPA & DHA essential fatty acids).  

#2 - What to eat

*  Consume 35 to 40 grams of fiber per day - Limit Calories to 1200 to 1500 per day.
Enjoy high fiber fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Eat a good balance of raw and cooked foods. 
Here are some of the highest fiber foods.
(You may want to work yourself up to this amount of fiber, especially if you presently eat a very low fiber diet. Too much fiber too soon can cause gastric distress). 

* Enjoy a cup of berries such as: 
    Raspberries (8 g fiber/ 64 calories),
    Blackberries (7.6 g fiber/ 62 calories),
    Blueberries (3.6 g fiber/84 calories), or
    Strawberries (3.3 g fiber/ 53 calories). 
* A fuyu persimmon has 6 g of fiber and 118 calories.
* A medium pear has 5.5 g of fiber and 103 calories.
* An apple with its skin has 4.4 g of fiber and 95 calories.
* One orange has 3.1 g of fiber and 62 calories.
* A medium banana has 3.1 g of fiber and 105 calories.
* One half a cup on pomegranate seeds has 3.5 g of fiber and 72 calories.
* 1/2 of an avocado has 4.6 g of fiber and 118 calories

Blackberries are low in calories and high in fiber and contain plant chemicals that protect against cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease.

* 1 medium artichoke (my favorite veggie) has 10.3 g of fiber and 64 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked green peas has 8.8 g of fiber and 134 calories.
* 1 cup of sliced jicama is 5.9 g of fiber and 46 calories.
* 1 cup cooked broccoli has 5.2 g of fiber and 55 calories.
* 1 cup of raw broccoli has 2.4 g of fiber and 31 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 4 g of fiber and 56 calories.
* 1 large ear of yellow corn has 3.9 g of fiber and 123 calories.
* 1 medium sweet potato has 3.8 g fiber and 103 calories. 
* 1 cup shredded, raw cabbage has 1.5 g of fiber and only 22 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked turnip greens has 5.1 g of fiber and 57 calories.
* 1 large raw carrot has 2 g of fiber and 29 calories.
* 8 stalks of raw asparagus has 2.4 g of fiber and 26 calories.

Steamed or stuffed, artichokes are packed with healthy fiber!

Whole Grains
* 1/2 cup serving of Nature's path smart bran cereal has 13 grams of fiber and 80 calories.
* 2 Weetabix cereal biscuits has 4 g of fiber and 120 calories.
* 1 cup cooked instant oatmeal has 4 g of fiber and 159 calories.
* 2 ounces of whole grain pasta has 5 g of fiber and 200 calories. 
* 2 ounces or corn/quinoa gluten free pasta has 4 g of fiber and 205 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 5.2 g of fiber and 222 calories.
* 1 Oroweat double fiber English muffin has 8 g of fiber and 120 calories. 
* 1 cup of brown rice has 3.5 g fiber and 218 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked pearl barley has 6 g of fiber and 193 calories and is very filling.
* 3 cups air-popped popcorn has 3.6 g of fiber and only 93 calories.

"Not meat sauce" on whole wheat past provides over 15 g of fiber.

Legumes, Nuts and Seeds* 1 cup of cooked split peas has 16.3 g of fiber and 227 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked lentils has 15.6 g of fiber and 230 calories.
* 1 cup of cooked black beans has 15 g of fiber and 227 calories.
* 1 cup of pinto beans has 15.4 g of fiber and 245 calories.
* 1 cup of vegetarian refried beans has 11.4 g of fiber and 201 calories.
* 1/4 cup of almonds has 4.4 g of fiber and 206 calories.
* 1/4 cup of shelled pistachio nuts has 3.2 g of fiber and 171 calories.
* 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds has 2.2 g of fiber and 29 calories.
* 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds has 1.9 g of fiber and 37 calories. 

Split pea soup weighs in at nearly 23 g of fiber! 

# 3 - What to Drink

When you eat a lot of fiber, it's very important to stay hydrated.
* Drink 8 glasses of water a day (or more if you are outside in the heat or exercising a lot).
* Herbal tea, green or black tea and black coffee is fine (in addition to the 8 glasses of water).
* Unsweetened non-dairy milk is also fine (in addition to the 8 glasses of water) - almond milk being the best because it is lowest in calories. 

#4 Get Moving!

A good diet is just half of the equation. It takes 3,500 calories to make or lose a pound. So, for example,  if you eat 500 less calories a day, you will lose 1 pound a week. But if you eat 500 calories less and day and burn an extra 500 calories a day, you will lose 2 pounds a week! 
Exercise also gets your metabolism going so even when you are not moving, you are burning calories at a higher rate than usual.

* Pick activities that are fun and do them for at least 30 minutes a day. You don't have to do them all at once. Three sessions of 10 minutes each still gives you some benefits.
CalorieLab has a good interactive site that helps you calculate how many calories you burned with different physical activities. From running, bicycling to having sex (seriously, they even help you calculate that but, sadly, it didn't burn very much), it takes your weight and activity and provides you with your total calorie burn. 

* Buy a pedometer and track your steps. Shoot for 7,500 to 10,000 steps per day. I just got a Fitbit for Christmas and I love it! It connects via Bluetooth and provides me with a graphic display of my activities.

Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker provides you with a summary of your achievements

* Add weight training to your exercise regimen to tone and build muscle.

* Get a partner. According to FitDay , there are 5 reasons why a partner will help you achieve your goals:
     1- The time goes by faster when working out together.
     2- You won't cancel a workout when you've made a commitment to a partner.
     3- You can coordinate busy schedules (share a babysitter, take turns cooking, etc.)
     4- You'll be bolstered by outside perspective as a partner can objectively remind you of your progress where you may not notice it.
     5- You can celebrate your success together!

# 5 - Write Down Everything You Eat, Drink or Burn

It may seem like a bother, but food journaling works! When you have to write something down, you are more careful about what you eat or drink. Use a tiny notebook you can keep in your pocket or purse or find an Ap for this. Doing this also teaches you what foods are good and which ones are not.

* Set a goal for 1200 to 1500 calories and 35 to 40 grams of fiber per day.
* Write down what you eat for each meal and snack.
* Include the amount of calories and the fiber content. SELF NutrtitionData is an excellent resource for this data. I use it 50 times a day while doing my nutritional research. 
* Keep a tally and make sure you stay in your goal. 

#6 - Get Enough Sleep

There is growing evidence that lack of sleep is linked to obesity. Nutritionist Teri Glassman claims that a person getting less than 8 hours of sleep may make poor food choices which can result in them eating 300 more calories the next day. She states that:
* sleeping only 6 hours a night increases your risk of obesity by 23%
* 5 hours increases it by 50%
* 4 hours of sleep increases your risk as much as 73%

# 7 - Make a commitment

This may seem silly but write something down on a piece of paper with your intentions. 
I intend to follow this high fiber, vegan diet the week of ______.
My goal is to lose 2 pounds this week.
My objective is to walk 70,000 steps this week and do strength training for a total of 2 hours.
My goal is to eat 1400 calories and 35 grams of fiber each day.
I will get to bed earlier and sleep 8 hours a night.
Signed and dated: xxxxxxxx

So if you want to get started, follow the above 7 steps and stay tuned to Foods For Long Life for high fiber, vegan recipes and menus to support your weight loss goals!
In the meantime, check out my existing High Fiber Recipes.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Black-Eyed Pea And Vegan Feta Salad On Romaine

Marinated tofu is the "dairy free" feta in this delicious salad.
Black-eyed peas are eaten on New Year's day for good luck!

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Happy New Year!!
I'd like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2013. Thanks for inspiring me every day with your interest in healthy eating! 

My Annual Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Recipe
If you have been following my blog for over a year, you know that I always eat black-eyed peas on New Year's day for good luck- a southern tradition I picked up while living in Texas many years ago. This year I'm making a delicious salad with "vegan feta".

If you marinate firm or extra firm tofu in lemon, oil, salt, pepper and oregano, it has the taste and appearance of feta cheese. So for those of you who need to be dairy free or who are just trying to cut down on cholesterol, this is a wonderful substitution. To get some inflammation-busting omega-3 fatty acid in this recipe, I use some hemp oil in the marinade. Its dark green and nutty flavor compliments the extra virgin olive oil.

Besides being a good source of omega-3, this recipe is high in protein and dietary fiber.

Tofu marinated in lemon, oil, and seasonings tastes like feta!

Black-Eyed Pea and Vegan Feta Salad
"Mostly Raw" Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 4 servings]

For the dressing/marinade
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cold pressed hemp oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
For the salad
1/2 block firm or extra firm tofu, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced or sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced or sliced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
12 pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
1 1/2 cups no salt added canned black-eyed peas, rinsed
2 small heads Romaine lettuce, sliced

Prepare the vegan feta. Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a large bowl until the salt is dissolved.
Add the tofu and toss gently until well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Make the salad. Add the rest of the salad ingredients, except the Romaine lettuce, to the bowl of marinated tofu. Toss gently until well coated. 

Divide the Romaine into four large bowls and place one quarter of the salad mixture over each bowl of lettuce. If you would rather mix the lettuce in the large bowl with the tofu before serving, you can do that too.
Serve immediately.

Per serving: 289 calories, 18 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.3 g omega-3 and 6 g omega-6 fatty acids, 12 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber and 600 mg of sodium.