Welcome to my blog! Come back often to read about nutrition, yoga, healthy living, clean eating, and how to live and eat consciously, not conveniently. Life is all about choices and I'm looking forward to helping you make the right ones!

The Best, no Peanuts allowed, Brittle

Makes about 25 2 in pieces.  1 piece per serving please!  Even though it’s clean, it is a treat!

 

You will need:

A candy thermometer unless you are skilled in the soft/hard ball water method (I am not😊)

½ cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped

¼ cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds

¼ cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds

1 Tbsp. Chia or Flaxseeds

2 Tbsp. raw organic sesame seeds

¾ cup raw organic honey (local if you can)

¼ cup organic coconut palm sugar (I use the blonde)

2 Tbsp. Ghee or organic butter

¼ cup water

1 tsp pure vanilla

¼ tsp sea salt

 

How to make it:

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nut and seeds mixture evenly and bake for about 10 minutes.  You want a light toast, but be careful not to burn them.  Set aside and allow to cool, removing the parchment paper.

 

In a large sauce pan stir together the honey, blonde coconut palm sugar, and water.  Bring to a simmer at medium heat.  Stirring consistently until mixture reaches 275 on candy thermometer.  (if using the water method, drop syrup into ice water and it will form rigid threads when it’s at 275)

Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and pinch of salt until melted and well combined.  Return to heat and simmer, stirring consistently until the temp reaches 300 (water method, dropping into cold water will yield hard and brittle threads).  Make sure you get to temp or your brittle will be hard, but a bit chewy.   Remove from heat.

 

Immediately pour the mixture over the top of toasted nuts and seeds forming an even slab.  No need to mix or stir.  Allow to cool completely and then break into pieces to serve.

 

If they last long enough you can store in an airtight glass container for 1 week.

 

Be creative with your brittle.  If you love pecans, add some.  Any raw unsalted nut would be great.  Just watch the portions so you have a good ratio of mixture to nuts and seeds.

I avoid peanuts.  Technically they are a lugume anyway.  But they are allergenic to many and tend to harbor molds, so best to avoid in my book.

 

 

Spicy Vegetarian Tacos

SPICY VEGETARIAN TACOS

By Lisa Turan

 

Servings:  5 servings of 2 tacos per serving

Total time: 30 min.

 

These tacos are a refreshing plant based alternative to a quick and easy weeknight dinner.  Easy peasy, and no cheesy!

 

Taco Ingredients 

1 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed and drained

2 medium white onions (2 cups chopped)

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ fresh jalapeno, diced

1-2 tablespoons cumin

1 tsp. paprika

Sea Salt and black pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable stock or broth

10 6in. gluten free, non-GMO corn tortillas

 

Topping options

Diced tomatoes

Shredded lettuce

Sliced avocado

Jicama, peeled and sliced into strips or shredded

Salsa

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Bring the lentils and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 min.  Lentils should be tender. Drain and set aside
  • In a saucepan, over medium heat, water sauté the onion, garlic and diced jalapenos by adding a tablespoon or 2 of water just to keep the veggies from sticking. Stir frequently until onions start to turn brown and translucent.
  • Add the lentils, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper (homemade taco seasoning!) to the saucepan, mixing well.
  • Slowly add the vegetable stock/broth and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Drape the tortillas over two bars of the oven rack so the sides hang down, cook until crisp, 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove your homemade hard taco shells and spoon in your lentil filling and add toppings of your choice!

 

 

 

Sugars and Diabetes

 

NATURAL SWEETENERS AND DIABETES

Have you been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or Type II Diabetes?  Do you have a sweet tooth?

It doesn’t need to be overwhelming as to what you should and shouldn’t do to manage your glucose levels.  Knowledge is power!

Even natural sugars like coconut, honey, and date sugar can and do create spikes in blood sugar.  The good news is that they are less processed and retain some nutrients.  Whole organic fruit is always going to be the best choice because it contains fiber and is processed by nature.

When we consume sugar the body tells the pancreas to produce insulin to move the sugar out of the blood.  When there is too much, the body stores it as fat.  Sugar is addictive. Comparisons have been made between sugar and cocaine.  This leads to excessive consumption and increased risk of diabetes.

For those with Diabetes consuming food with lots of fiber, in addition to clean quality fat and protein helps slow the absorption of sugar into the blood.

Guide to natural sugars

Stevia

Stevia is a no-calorie, natural sweetener extracted from the stevia leaf.    

It is 250 times sweeter than sugar and keeps cravings heightened.  It is not an easy swap in baking because the extreme sweetness in a small quantity make it difficult to determine effective ratios.

There are no calories. It doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin response, so it’s a good option for diabetics. (ADA, 2013)  Purchase only pure, organic stevia.

Coconut Sugar-

Sometimes called coconut palm sugar, it’s a natural sweetener made from the sap of coconut trees. It is similar to a dry brown sugar. It is used in equal parts to white sugar.

Coconut sugar is a bit healthier than white sugar because it is less processed. It tastes like a sweet, earthy, coconut. It still contains a significant amount of fructose, which can raise insulin resistance and aggravate blood sugar imbalance if used excessively.

Raw, organic,  and un-pastured honey

 This is honey that has not been heated or filtered.  Purchase from the jar, not the bear.

It has less glucose and fructose than white sugar.  It has a lower immediate impact on raising blood glucose.  Raw honey doesn’t have or need any preservatives.  This is one food that will never expire!  Raw is considered to have greater nutrient density. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetics consuming honey improved lipids, body weight and long-term blood sugar levels. (dietsvsdisease.org, 2016)  It has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

In baking, only use 1/4 cup raw honey for every one cup of sugar.

Maple sweeteners-

 These are made from maple tree sap.  The sugar and tastes similar to maple syrup.  Maple sugar has a similar look and to a dry, light brown sugar.  Pure organic maple syrup is simple-tapped straight from the tree.  These options can be easily incorporated into baking, by reducing the amount of syrup to about ½ compared to sugar.

These contains manganese, iron, and calcium.  These sweeteners have a slower and lower effect on blood sugar than regular sugar.

Date sugar

This is a good one nutrition wise.  Date sugar is made by taking dried dates and grinding them into a fine powder.  This can be made at home in a blender pretty easily.

This sugar retains the healthy antioxidants from the date.

It tends to clump and doesn’t melt.  It is very sweet, so a little goes a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References
ADA. (2013, October 2). Retrieved from Diabetes.org: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?
Association, A. D. (2014, May). Glycemic Index and Diabetes. Retrieved from American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Diabetes.org. (2014, May 14). Retrieved from www.diabetes.org: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html
dietsvsdisease.org. (2016, November 16). Retrieved from dietsvsdisease.org: http://www.dietvsdisease.org/can-diabetics-eat-honey/
Ed Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D. and Jodi Friedlander, N.C. (2013). Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove: Bauman College.

 

 

 

A Shift in Perspective

Personal perspective, yoga-style!  So, lately I have found myself thinking, talking, dreaming, and writing about shifting one’s perspective a lot in my “Nutrition” world.  I thought I should give my inspiration to this way of thinking credit where it is due.  YOGA.  There are just so many places that this simple little idea of making a small shift in perspective can make life better.  In some shape and form it all seems to be practiced, taught and thought about in yoga. We can make a subtle physical shift in a yoga posture and notice how significant that tiny shift feels.  We can make a choice to listen to that little voice inside telling us to go to that yoga class instead of bringing work home.  We can decide to clear our minds and give ourselves the gift of just being present.  We can decide to not react.  We can choose to accept our bodies, our family, and all of the things that are beyond control just as they are.  I once read a passage saying something along the lines of “spring will come and the grass will grow, all by itself.  No matter what we do, or don’t do, spring comes and the grass grows…. I like this because it gives me permission to choose to do what I can and to really let go of trying to control things I cannot.  A simple shift in MY perspective changes everything.

If you have ever been to one of my yoga classes, (and if you haven’t, please do!) I start each class with a reading from one of several Meditation books.  I randomly open a book and trust that it will be relevant to the practice for those who are there.  I am still amazed at how this always seems to work out.  I think it is because I have let go of trying to “decide” and simply trust that it will all work out.  Students are allowed to form their own personal intention for their practice but it offers something to think about when needed.

Recently, probably due to all of the New Year’s Resolutions, I keep coming into contact with conversations and questions about Karma.  I read an article that was centered on what I perceive as a overly simplified and elementary understanding that Karma’s purpose is to go after those that harm us.  An eye for an eye.  What goes around comes around.  You get the idea.   Based on my yoga training and personal experience, I believe that Karma is a universal attraction of energy.  Like attracting like.   This is where being able to consciously shift your perspective is amazing.  You can choose how you feel about any situation!

What is currently annoying you?  The person ahead of you in traffic not going fast enough or sitting at a green light?  Did you decide that the repairman overcharged you?  Do you choose to think about, what awful thing did I DO to bring these terrible things to me?  More often than not, Karma is used to wish ill will toward another in order to pay them back for causing you trouble.  It works both ways, right?

Consider this, you can change your version of any story.  Is is possible that the person ahead of you is not moving through the light because they are having a medical issue such as a heart attack or a child in the car is choking?  Wouldn’t that change your anger into empathy or at least understanding?  Can you consider that the repair that ‘only took 5 minutes’ was something that you didn’t know how to do and that repairman used 100’s of hours of training and experience to get really good and so he didn’t spend all afternoon in your home while charging you by the hour?

Yoga teaches us to connect.  Connect to yourself, that deep down authentic self.  Connect to your breath, notice how it sounds, feels and moves your body.  Connect to those in your community.  Shifting your perspective to make conscious choices to give others the benefit of the doubt.  Assume the best about others’ intentions and in turn, according to the laws of Karma, they will see the best in you.

 

 

Kitchen Nutrition – 5 Simple Time Saving Tips

I believe that eating whole foods, and cooking meals from scratch, are the best ways to support our health and our environment.  It’s important.  We only get one body to live in and we only have one planet to live on.  The problem? Cooking from scratch is perceived as time-consuming when in reality it can be easy.  It’s all about what we decide is important enough to give our valuable time to.  A little shift in perspective can help cooking become enjoyable.   These tips are simple, and some of them take a little time on the front end, but the final results are so worth it!

1. Use basic or familiar recipes 
There are times when it’s really fun to hang out in the kitchen creating a fancy 6 course meal – but not when you get home at 7 pm after a long day.  If you stick to simple recipes that are nourishing, filing, delicious, and won’t leave you feeling “less than optimal”.  There are a ton of them online and you can choose the number of ingredients you are comfortable with as well as the amount of time you have to spend.  You can also clean up a familiar recipe by swapping out unhealthy ingredients for a clean alternative.  Ditch the vegetable oil and replace with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Combine your chosen protein  (meat, fish, beans, (tofu anyone?)) with a favorite raw, roasted or steamed vegetable.  I often choose whatever is on hand that needs to be eaten.  Add some flavor with with fresh squeezed citrus , sea salt, or my favorite “SPIKE” brand seasoning.  Add a good healthy clean fat, like Extra Virgin Olive oil, coconut oil, or sliced avocado.  Vitamins A, D, E, and K need some fat to be absorbed and utilized by the body. Each meal ideally containing a clean protein, some good quality fat, and fiber (veggies). Eating real whole food, just not too much. Pay attention to when you are getting full and stop while you are ahead.

2. Ask family members for help.
Whoever came up with the rule that one person, usually one parent,  always gets stuck with the decision as to what to have for dinner AND and the responsibility of getting the meal to the table on time? Probably not someone who has ever been delegated to the task!  Ask your kids, partners, spouses, or friends to help you.  Play some music, talk about your day, ask each other questions! Group effort will complete the prepping and chopping (and cleaning up) in no time at all. This is a great tip that will also help teach the kiddos valuable cooking skills.  Kids tend to eat what they help prepare!

3. Plan a few days of meals in advance and save them.
Healthy eating is easier when you have a plan in place to make it happen – This is hands down one of the best things I learned at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.  A meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack is helpful, but if you’re new to meal planning, start off with creating a menu for dinners (or lunches) only. Chart your meals for the week (you can even plan to make extra and have the leftovers for the next day) and include any recipes you’ll need. Sometimes it is helpful to just do a few days at a time vs. a whole week.  Cross reference your plan and make a shopping list. You can create a personal and customized shopping list from a word or excel “list” template, or create a handwritten notebook of meal plans.

In a few weeks, you will have a good little tool box full of meal plans and all you’ll need to do is pull one out, pick up the ingredients from your already complete shopping list and start cooking. The more you repeat meal plans in your rotation, the easier it is.   This gets pretty quick and easy with practice. Don’t get discouraged the first few tries.

4. Create a prep schedule.
A prep schedule allows you to implement your menu plan efficiently.  For each recipe, write down the ingredients, how they need to be prepped (sliced, chopped, diced, soaked, etc.). Next, assign someone in your family to complete that task and decide when they need to do it.   Repeat meals, a soup for lunch on Monday can become a side for baked chicken dinner the next night.  In my house, I am the Queen of my kitchen and meal planning and prep, but I still enlist some help.  Example: Sunday afternoon: Lisa: wash, dice, and store celery, carrots, and onion. Sunday eve: Scott: remove (elk, chicken, or? ) from freezer to thaw, choose between rice or sweet potato.

5. Pick a prep day.

I get it. The whole idea can feel overwhelming and impossible.  I promise, with practice, you will be able to do this in about an hour.  Time spent prepping will save you several hours over the course of your week. The majority of the work in cooking is cleaning chopping, cleaning again, and not the cooking itself.  Save time and effort during the week by doing some of the prep work on the weekend. This way, come Monday, all you’ll need to do is assemble and cook and dinnertime will happen so much easier.

  1. Chopping produce in sizes according to what’s needed for chosen recipes. Storing them according to how they will be used and in proper quantities throughout the week.
  2. Washing and cutting the produce right when you get home from the store. This way you only have to clean up once. YEAH!
  3. Cooking larger batches of rice or other grains, beans and soups to use throughout the week.
  4. Cutting up veggies for snacks. If a bowl of bite sized fruit and veggies is front and center when you open the fridge, they get eaten!
  5. Making a few recipes ahead of time to have for dinners during the week.  You can also assemble and freeze a few meals, to pull out in a pinch.  Just remember to label what they are and date it.  Placing it in the freezer according to the date (oldest up front) is also helpful.

Planning meals and menus and working them into a busy family schedule can take a couple of hours until you are used to it. When the whole family gets involved, it can be a fun way to spend a little more quality and healthy time together.

New Year’s Resolutions: 2017

Let’s make this 2017 different. Let’s do this for real. Let’s commit to something that is realistic, personal, really worthwhile and attainable! Improving your health!

The is one thing I would like you to know before you decide to “go on another diet” as your 2017 New Year’s Resolution:

YOUR METABOLISM IS NOT A CALCULATOR!! It is not a chemistry set, and it doesn’t know what raising a gram of water 1 degree means…. (this is the actual definition of a caloric unit) This measurement is used to measure the energy released by food during digestion. It doesn’t take into account the quality of the food, whether or not there is any nutrient value to the food or the strength or weakness of digestion.

Counting calories, cutting out carbs or fat doesn’t work. Doing this and expecting the body to respond in a linear & predictable manner is pointless. It may work for a short while, but how many times do we want short term results?

This approach often causes the metabolism to be a little “irritated.” Irritated as in it starts to hold on to everything you eat because you’ve sent it into a state of panic. It does not work and science has proven it over and over again. 95% of people who follow this approach regain the weight and 66% end up even heavier. And the number on the scale is honestly not the best measure of health anyway. Having a body that is well nourished and strong and is able to carry you through your life’s activities with energy and vitality IS!

In order to get real results, you have to understand how YOUR body really works. This is a continuous learning process. Each of us are individuals with unique genetic dispositions and histories. Every part of who you are needs to come to the table to make your nutritional program complete. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat well. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat junk. Be mindful and eat consciously.

Three Simple Ways to improve your health this year:
1. Take the time to read labels, not only the nutritional label, but the ingredient list. Ingredients are foods and spices. This is not a place for chemicals. If you don’t know what it is, where it comes from or how to pronounce it, toss those “food substances” out!

2. Commit to choosing real, whole, unprocessed food. Plan your meals. This is the way to nourish your body and not just eat whatever is convenient.

3. Move your body. Grand County offers so many great winter activities. Try something new. Keep going until you find the ones you love. Snowshoe, ski, ice skating, spin class, Pilates, kick-boxing, and YOGA of course!

Asian Sesame Salad For One

Ingredients

  • 3 cups organic mixed greens
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • freshly grated black pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon tahini
  • Mix ingredients together.  Toss with your greens.

Thai Coconut Sauce

  • ¼ cup canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp. Bragg’s amino acids or Coconut aminos (good substitute for soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

Combine all ingredients into a mason jar with a lid and shake vigorously to combine.  So easy and soooooo good!

Fennel Slaw Salad

I make this salad/slaw to top a bed of spinach and add grilled chicken to make a whole dinner

Ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb sliced thinly
  • ½ small red onion sliced thinly
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice- 1 -2 oranges with seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp exta virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 sprig of fresh marjoram chopped (can use 1 tsp of ground if you have to)
  • 2 bunches of watercress stemmed ( I use the whole thing)
  • ¼ cup unsalted walnuts (toasted lightly on stove)

In large blow combine the fennel, onion, orange juice, vinegar, oil, maple syrup salt, pepper and marjoram, toss and let sit 10-15 min.

Add the watercress and walnuts to the fennel mix toss lightly and put over the spinach and serve.

Yeah!  Love this one.  I sometimes use extra Orange juice for more dressing.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

  • 1 sm. Frozen banana – or ½ of a larger one
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 2/3 plant milk of choice (I like almond or cashew)
  • ¼ cup. Plain organic Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. organic maple syrup, Grade B or C
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp fresh grated ginger (can use more to taste)
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut

Blend up and enjoy!