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Is Chocolate The Next Health Food?

August 28, 2010 in Healthy Living

I could start like any 12 step program and say “My name is Spisharam and I am a Chocoholic”. If you love chocolate you know what I am talking about, I can pretty much eat chocolate any time of the day and it does not matter what kind. If it looks like chocolate, smells like it and tastes like it; I am in 100%. Growing up it was kind of part and parcel of who I was, my friends from college still talk about my chocolate binges and how many a junior bribed me to get their record book drawings done by passing me a chocolate :) Well I was not complaining as long as the chocolates kept coming.

Then as years passed and pounds started piling up (which incidentally I could say my body is pretty much 50-60% chocolate if what I ate really did cause me to put on weight!). I was waging a losing war with chocolate until one day my better half started buying me chocolates when ever he went to the store. Now my cravings have actually gone down, I don’t feel like sneaking in a chocolate bar as I stand with the cart in line to checkout my grocery (I have learned to say “later” to the chocolates who always call out to me from all those shelves in their snazzy covers :)) I still love chocolate it is just that I don’t feel guilty about it as I feel I am allowed to have chocolate irrespective of what the weighing scale says. So I am pretty much at peace with the Chocolate binges and then I see this article on the ACS website (American Chemical Society) titled “Chocolate the next health food? or is it?” whetted my appetite enough for me to want to check it out.

I have always wondered if it was just the caffeine in chocolate which made me feel like I had to have chocolate (whatever I was feeling chocolate makes me feel goood :) ) See for me not having coffee is easy, I really don’t care much for it at all and I can go on and off coffee when ever I want to, not so with chocolate.

So I started reading the article and I catch myself smiling about “Anandamides”  (root from the Sanskrit word “Ananda” meaning Bliss) the Bliss molecules in the brain which seem to stay active longer when we eat chocolate! Not only do chocolates supposedly have it in them, they keep the ones in our system last longer, now I know why a chocolate high lasts for so long :)

Emmanuelle diTomaso, an assistant biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass., and Daniele Piomelli, professor of pharmacology
at the University of California-Irvine, have shown that chemicals in chocolate may inhibit this natural breakdown of anandamide. Then, there is phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural brain chemical which stimulates the parts of the brain that keep you alert and mimics the brain chemistry of a person in love.

Recent studies have shown that cocoa is rich in anti-oxidants called polyphenols and another chemical called flavanols – which is what provides wine, tea, nuts etc with their health benefits!

Fun Facts About Chocolate:

  • Scientists have discovered that chocolate was invented at least 3,100 years ago in Central America and not as the sweet treat people now crave, but as a celebratory beer-like beverage and status symbol.
  • The chocolate enjoyed by civilizations like the Maya and Aztecs was made from ground cacao seeds, producing a spicy, frothy drink like beer.
  • The Spanish brought cacao back to Europe in the 16th century and many chocolate innovations have occurred in the ensuing centuries.
  • In the 1850s, Englishman Joseph Fry changed cocoa to chocolate by adding more cocoa butter, rather than hot water, to cocoa powder and sugar. The world’s first solid chocolate was born.
  • In 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to solid chocolate, creating a milk chocolate bar.
  • By 1907, Milton Hershey’s factory was spitting out 33 million kisses per day.
  • In the world wars Chocolates were a part of the soldiers rations!
  • The word ‘Chocolate’ comes from the Aztec word, ‘cacahuatl’ or ‘xocolatl’. This means ‘bitter water’
  • The Mayans and Aztecs believed that the Cocoa Beans originated from Paradise and would bring wisdom and power to anyone consuming them.
  • Chocolates could be fatal for pets due to the presence of Theobromine which over stimulates cardiac and nervous systems.
  • Chocolate has over 500 flavor components. This is double the amount found in strawberry and vanilla.
  • Chocolate is a great economy booster. Annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages approximately 600,000 tons per year. Consumers worldwide spend more than $20 billion a year on Chocolate.

Some interesting results from the research:

  • The scientists discovered that in hamsters, cocoa powder at a dose equivalent to two dark chocolate bars per day significantly inhibited atherosclerosis, a type of heart disease in which fat clogs up arteries, and raised the levels of good cholesterol.
  • Ian Mcdonald, professor of metabolic physiology at The University of Nottingham, and colleagues have shown that people who consumed a flavanol-rich cocoa beverage had increased blood flow in their brains. This result suggests that cocoa flavanols could be used to prevent vascular impairments in the brain resulting from, say, a stroke.
  • You might think that chocolate causes acne, decays teeth, and makes you fat. Not so. No current research connects specific foods to skin
    problems. Chocolate husks contain chemicals that prevent tooth decay (although they don’t offset the added sugar), and too much food
    causes weight gain.
  • Chocolate straight from the tree has more beneficial chemicals than possibly any other food, including blueberries, red wine, or green tea.
    They are not only antioxidant, but anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-cancerous, and anti-viral.

The BAD NEWS – Cocoa butter is essentially all fat. There are three major kinds: a “bad-for-you” saturated fat called palmitic acid;
oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat; and stearic acid, part of which later converts to oleic acid in the liver. Overall, one-third of chocolate’s fat is known to be unhealthy. All three kinds of fats produce high amounts of calories in the body, although they do not cause an increase in blood cholesterol when consumed in chocolate.

So as long as you enjoy your chocolate sensibly it is ALL good! :) Want the most for your calories? And your dollars? Check out the nutrition information on the labels. The fewer additives, the better. Meanwhile, dark chocolate or chocolate nibs are a healthy alternative to milk chocolate or chocolate syrup.

So, is chocolate a healthy food, a luxury item, or junk? It can be all three, just not all at the same time. The choice up to us.When we make a judgment call as to the kind of chocolate we eat, we decide whether it is healthy or not. Like the report says commonsense – read the label, enjoy your chocolate!

I am yet to meet a chocolate I did not like, but I have decided dark would be the best way for me to go.

Go easy! Go dark! Go chocolate!

Read the Entire Report on the ACS website HERE


10 Healthiest Cuisines From Around The World

August 26, 2010 in Healthy Living

What makes traveling around the countries or meeting people from across culture more interesting? If you ask me one of the main things of common interest is “Food”. We all have to eat to survive and good food is an upper like any other good thing! It is that interest which makes a good number of people be adventurous and check out the new restaurant with a “funny” name or try that new dish on the menu which they really are not sure about. Our planet is such an amazing place with the tapestry of cultures interwoven each connected to the other by unknown threads…The differences that make us unique also show up in the ethnic cuisines which are based on the available crops in the region and which are also influenced by the interactions between nations via trade, travel and colonization, which were the beginning of what we see today as the global village.

Examples would be the Chinese Noodles giving rise to the Pasta in Italy, Persian spices becoming an integral part of Indian cuisine etc… Today while reading CNN I found an interesting article about the 10 Healthiest Ethnic Cuisines and that is what today’s post is about. The post is mostly based on Daphne Miller MD’s book The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World — Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You.” Daphne is an associate professor in the University of California, San Francisco.

Years back when I crossed the oceans leaving India to join my husband in the US, food was the least of my worries because I grew up with what I believed was “exposure” to the western way of cooking and food habits, Boy! was I in for a surprise?! The my new life changed my view of the world, I realized that in a melding pot of cultures which is the US there are certain places where you can actually find “original” cuisine from a different part of the world and that many mainstream restaurants served what was a mishmash of flavors which went well with the intended clientele!

According to the CNN article the 10 healthiest Ethnic cuisines are the following:

  1. Greek or Mediterranean Cuisine
    image credit @mediterrasian.com

    Traditional Greek foods like dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega-3-rich fish deliver lots of immune-boosting and cancer-fighting ingredients that cut your risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related ailments.

    The Greeks often share small plates of food called meze, having just a bite of meat along with low-cal, healthy Greek staples like fresh seafood, slowly digested carbs (beans, eggplant, or whole-grain breads), and small portions of olives and nuts. If you’re eating out, order grilled fish and spinach or other greens sautéed with olive oil and garlic.

    “This dish gives you the anti-inflammatory combo of olive oil and greens with the blood-pressure-lowering effects of garlic,” says Daphne Miller.
    What to Watch out for – E.g. Spanakopita the Greek Classic spinach pie has layers of dough with butter in between can be calorie and fat laden like a bacon cheese burger.

  2. California Fresh
    image credits@blueheroncatering.com

    California Cuisine is about eating fresh, local ingredients simply prepared and one does not need to live in California to practice that life style. Eating plenty of disease-fighting, naturally low-cal, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables from a local farmers’ market or farm is good for your body, and it’s satisfying, says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., Health magazine’s senior food and nutrition editor.

    “Foods grown locally are going to taste better and may have more nutrients,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., Health magazine’s senior food and nutrition editor, while produce that’s shipped cross-country after being harvested can lose vitamin C and folate, not to mention flavor.

    What to Watch out for – Adding high fat cheese or other unhealthy additives to the fresh food defeats its purpose and is not “waist friendly”.

  3. Vietnamese
     

    Fresh herbs, lots of vegetables and seafood, and cooking techniques that use water or broth instead of oils — these are some of the standout qualities of Vietnamese food. Real Vietnamese cuisine is less about frying and coconut milk, but more about use of spices and flavorful broths etc.

    Traditional Vietnamese flavorings (including cilantro, mint, Thai basil, star anise, and red chili) have long been used as alternative remedies for all sorts of ailments, and cilantro and anise have actually been shown to aid digestion and fight disease-causing inflammation.

    One of the healthiest and most delicious Vietnamese dishes is pho (pronounced “fuh”), an aromatic, broth-based noodle soup full of antioxidant-packed spices.
    What to watch out for – While eating out watch out for fried stuff and fatty short ribs on the menu.

  4. Japanese
    image credits@takashisedona.com

    Okinawa in Japan is well known for the longevity of its residents, many of them live a healthy and full life past 100! Miller while travelling through Okinawa found that not only the Okinawan’s healthy, their food habits were simple and easy to follow. “Not only are Okinawans blessed with a diet rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables, but they also prepare them in the healthiest way possible, with a light steam or a quick stir-fry,” Miller explains.
    They also practice Hara Hachi Bu, which means “eat until you are eight parts (or 80 percent) full,” she says. These simple diet rules may be why people in Japan are far less likely than Americans to get breast or colon cancer.Japanese staples that are amazing for your health include antioxidant-rich yams and green tea; cruciferous, calcium-rich veggies like bok choy; iodine-rich seaweed (good for your thyroid); omega-3-rich seafood; shiitake mushrooms (a source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate); and whole-soy foods.
    Best items to order in a Japanese Restaurant according to Miller are the Miso soup or the vegetable tofu stir fry!
    What to watch out for  – White rice can cause a spike in blood sugar, so ask for brown rice, rich in fat-burning resistant starch (RS).

  5. Indian Cuisine
    Image credits @aashirwadrestaurant.com 

    Indian cuisine brings to mind the smells of spices, colorful curries, naan bread etc… The spices don’t just add to the taste but they also have plenty of health benefits associated to them. Turmeric a staple in almost all curries is an anti-inflammatory and also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s. Turmeric and ginger help fight Alzheimer’s, according to recent studies. Researchers point to the fact that rates of Alzheimer’s in India are four times lower than in America, perhaps because people there typically eat 100 to 200 milligrams of curry everyday.
    Finding healthy wholesome dishes in an Indian restaurant is easy if you know what to look for. Daal is a lentil cooked with turmeric, fennel seeds, tomato etc. Lentils and vegetables is a safe bet. Yogurt and lentils are very good for the digestive system as they provide folate and fiber.

    What to Watch out for – Any thing deep fried e.g. samosas, fritters etc… curries with cream, butter, coconut milk etc.. those are all loaded with empty calories.

  6. Italian Image credits @azcentral.com Italian food brings to mind Pizza, Lasagna and other cheese laden American favorites, but in reality the food is healthy when eaten right. Italian food is about fresh ingredients, Olives, Spinach, Tomatoes, Oregano, parsley, basil etc… One of the best ways to get cancer-fighting lycopene is in cooked tomato products: a half-cup of tomato sauce has more than 20 milligrams. Plus, garlic and traditional Italian herbs provide vitamins A and C. And olive oil helps lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, and burn belly fat.
    Italians when using cheese use hard cheese like Parmesan etc grated in small amounts.
    What to watch out for – Cheesy pizzas, lasagna etc.. loaded with fat and empty calories.
  7. Spanish Image credits@mediterrasian.com The Spanish tradition of eating tapas (small plates of food): “I love the idea of being able to sample little portions of tasty, healthful foods and making a dinner of it,” Largeman-Roth says.The Spanish eat tons of fresh seafood, vegetables, and olive oil — all rock stars when it comes to your weight and well-being. Super healthy dishes to order: gazpacho (full of cancer-fighting lycopene and antioxidants) and paella (rich in fresh seafood, rice, and veggies).What to watch out for? Avoid fatty sausages and fried items, which can show up on tapas menus in the United States.
  8. Mexican Image credits @q80s.com Authentic Mexican cuisine can be heart-healthy and even slimming, our judges say. In fact, a Mexican diet of beans, soups, and tomato-based sauces helped lower women’s risk of breast cancer, a study from the University of Utah found.And the cuisine’s emphasis on slowly digested foods like beans and fresh ground corn may provide protection from type 2 diabetes.”Slow-release carbohydrates have been shown to lower blood sugar and even help reverse diabetes,” Miller says.
    What to watch out for -Go easy on the chips and dips, keep away from deep fried stuff and also too much of the queso dip.
  9. South American Image credits@ brazil4tour.comWith 12 countries within its borders, South America has a very diverse culinary repertoire. But our judges applaud the continent’s traditional diet of fresh fruits and vegetables (including legumes) along with high-protein grains like quinoa. In fact, a typical South American meal of rice and beans creates a perfect protein, Largeman-Roth says.
    Instead of the whole steak opting for the Ceviche is a healthier option when eating South American food. Ceviche is a mélange of fresh seafood boasts a variety of healthful spices and ingredients, from cilantro and chile peppers to tomatoes and onions.
    What to watch out for – Deep fried dishes made from yams, bananas, sausages etc… 

  10. Thai
    Image credits @cityofangelsfestival.com Thai food has come to be synonymous with coconut milk cooked curries and other preparations.Can a soup fight cancer? If it’s a Thai favorite called Tom Yung Gung, the answer just might be yes. 

    Made with shrimp, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, and other herbs and spices used in Thai cooking, the soup was found to possess properties 100 times more effective than other antioxidants in inhibiting cancerous-tumor growth.

Okinawa in Japan is well known for the longevity of its residents, many of them live a healthy and full life past 100! Miller while travelling through Okinawa found that not only the Okinawan’s healthy, their food habits were simple and easy to follow.
“Not only are Okinawans blessed with a diet rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables, but they also prepare them in the healthiest way possible, with a light steam or a quick stir-fry,” Miller explains.

They also practice Hara Hachi Bu, which means “eat until you are eight parts (or 80 percent) full,” she says. These simple diet rules may be why people in Japan are far less likely than Americans to get breast or colon cancer.

Japanese staples that are amazing for your health include antioxidant-rich yams and green tea; cruciferous, calcium-rich veggies like bok choy; iodine-rich seaweed (good for your thyroid); omega-3-rich seafood; shiitake mushrooms (a source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate); and whole-soy foods.

I was impressed by the list of cuisines, many a time I tend to mark off cuisines in its entirety as “healthy” or “non-healthy” now I realize it is not really the cuisine that is not healthy, it is my habit of not making an informed decision which is at fault. If I take the time to find what goes into a dish, how it is cooked etc… eating healthy should be a breeze! Here’s to a healthy lifestyle! baby steps :)

Source Article in CNN

Read the Health.com article by Annie Corapi

Check out the Book by Daphne Miller at Amazon

The Jungle Effect: Healthiest Diets from Around the World–Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You


Healthy Banana Nut Bread

July 15, 2010 in Healthy Living

Summer is the season for fresh fruits in abundance and it is also the time when the available fruits ripens the faster! Amongst fruits Bananas are one of the most difficult fruits to preserve: they get brown, mushy and spotted really fast. This seems to be the case whether it is kept at room temperature or inside the fridge.

Last week I ended up with a bunch of Banana’s which over ripened (I find it very very difficult to eat banana’s once the skin gets those dark spots, not essentially a good habit but yeah it is one of my vices :)). If it is one banana or so I kind of tell myself it is alright to throw it out (squirrels birds etc etc get fed etc, who am I kidding?! ) So with the bunch of 6 banana’s staring at me from my dining table, I had to think of making something with it, all the while keeping in mind it needed to be healthy and tasty.

My standard fall back for over ripe banana’s is Banana Nut bread. I thought I would tweak it a little and see how it goes. This is the new recipe which evolved (in the end I have provided the link to the recipe I have used for many years now)

Banana Nut Bread (with out Butter)

Whole wheat flour 3/4 cup (or you can do 1/2 cup each of whole wheat and refined flour too)

Flax flour 1/4 cup (I like to add some extra fiber and omega-3 to anything I bake)

1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Rolled oats 1 cup

Brown Sugar 1/3 cup (if you lie it sweeter add 1/2 cup, I reduce sugar to compensate for the chocolate )

Banana’s 5 no:s mashed (I left the least suspect one for my better half, he likes to have a Banana after dinner :) )

Walnuts chopped 3/4cup

Semi sweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup (this is for the chocoholic in me, you can skip it and with it get rid of 700 calories from the bread)

Eggs 2

Olive oil -3tbsps

Buttermilk 1/4 cup

1tsp lemon juice

(Optional Vanilla essence and Raisins I like both so I add them :))

Heat the Oven at 350degrees F, grease and flour mini loaf pans (will normally make 4 mini bread loaves, I tend to use the 9 by 12 rectangular pan to make kind of brownie like slices ) and keep aside.

Mix the dry ingredients together and keep aside. In a bowl beat together the eggs and sugar then add oil, buttermilk, lemon juice and mashed bananas until it is well blended. Mix in the flour and oats using a spatula. Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pans. Mine was kind of thinner than normal bread but turned out well when baked.

Check on your bread after 30 minutes depending on the pan you use it can take from 35 minutes to 1.5 hours for the bread to bake. Once the top looks done try the toothpick test to make sure the middle part is done. Once you are satisfied take it out and let it cool. It stores well for a week plus.

Mine turned out moist and yummy and I did not feel too guilty about munching on a slice. My Husband loved it and has it for breakfast without much ado :) try it out and let me know how it turned out for you.

I cut my bread into 12 servings and the Amount Per Serving is calculated below courtesy of the recipe calculator.
Calories     236.1
Total Fat     13.6 g
Saturated Fat     3.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat     5.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat     3.8 g
Cholesterol     35.6 mg
Sodium     129.9 mg
Potassium     263.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate     27.6 g
Dietary Fiber     4.6 g
Sugars     12.6 g
Protein     5.6 g
Vitamin A     1.9 %
Vitamin B-12     1.6 %
Vitamin B-6     17.0 %
Vitamin C     9.7 %
Vitamin D     1.1 %
Vitamin E     2.2 %
Calcium     5.9 %
Copper     8.6 %
Folate     5.3 %
Iron     4.1 %
Magnesium     7.0 %
Manganese     16.7 %
Niacin     2.1 %
Pantothenic Acid         2.9 %
Phosphorus         6.8 %
Riboflavin     6.6 %
Selenium     5.1 %
Thiamin     3.7 %
Zinc     2.9 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Click here for my favorite rich decadent Banana Nut bread recipe



Healthy Snacks For A Healthier Lifestyle

July 8, 2010 in Healthy Living

Summer the season for fresh produce in the local farmers markets and the farms in around the suburbs… It is the perfect time to start a healthy and sustainable way of living. Enjoying fresh farm grown produce, be it fruits or vegetables is such a pleasure.

Summer is the time when every one feels more hungry and the days definitely are longer and we are all more active too. The easy way would be to just reach for the candy bars or the ice -cream sandwich which feels so good when we enjoy it but really does nothing to the hunger.

Most of the snacks we get are loaded with sugars and fat which while adding unnecessary calories does not help satiate our hunger. In my quest to make summer healthier I put together this  list of healthy snacks:

From the kindergartner to the kid in you these snacks suit everyone in the family :) -

Dried fruits mix – I buy Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts, Raisins and other dried fruits (I like:) ) and make my own mix. I mix the nuts up with a drizzle of honey and roast them in the oven at 300F for 15-20 minutes and give them a good shake together and keep them in airtight jars. Keeping them all roasted and ready in different bowls and letting your little one make his/her own mix is a good way to start a healthy life style really young. It’s fun and Healthy!!

Bake Your Own Fruit Muffins -My favorite snacks have always included muffins and cookies. Now I have adapted my love of baked goods to include healthy baking. I use whole grains, bran, less sugar etc.. to make healthy versions of my favorite sweet snacks. I have substituted butter with apple sauce and have had decent results baking cupcakes and muffins. These are some  of my favorites:

1. All-Bran Chocolate Brownie

2.Healthy Fruit Muffin

3.Healthy Chocolate Muffin

4. Healthy Granola Bars

Cheese – It is just a matter of finding low fat cheeses and keeping the quantity in control. The variety available is mind-blowing, my favorite incidentally is the Laughing Cow wedges which come in different flavors too. One of my favorite appetizers is a slice of pineapple, an olive and a piece of cheese on a toothpick, try it I like the sweetness of the pineapple with the salty tartness of the olive and the cheesiness of the cheese, simply perfect!

Fresh Fruits – Chopped fresh fruits are always a very healthy snack to go. It is even more interesting when they are cut using cookie cutters, melon-ballers etc… different shapes make it more attractive and fun! I love making flowers (best fruits for flowers – Melons, pineapples, mango, grapes etc..)

Fresh Fruit smoothies - Love making smoothies (has been a favorite since childhood, now I avoid adding the scoops of ice-cream to it :) ) Basically blend fresh fruits with milk and sometimes add nuts to give it a kick. One special one I make is the Apple, Pistachios and Milk smoothie try it you will agree it is yummy!! I use 1% milk and only use a cup per smoothie (there by keeping my calories under control). Some of my other favorites are listed below in the fruit bar category.

Fruit bars - I make my own fruit bars by freezing smoothies :)  beating together fruits and nuts in a blender and freezing them in yogurt cups,jello molds,  ice trays etc to make healthy natural replacements for ice-cream! best ones according to me :

1. Strawberry banana with either yogurt or milk added  (my secret ingredient with banana is to add half a pod of cardamom for flavor)

2.A Very berry icy -  Strawberries, blue berries, black berries etc any berry you can find and milk. Adding a touch of vanilla adds a different flavor to it.

3. Choco Banana Icy – This one is for the Chocoholic – Banana and milk with a teaspoon of either drinking chocolate or cocoa powder. When using cocoa powder I tend to add a tsp of sugar to it.

4. I also like frozen pieces of fresh fruit when they are in season (it helps to keep cool when out in the sun) Fruits that freeze well – Grapes (especially when they are getting a little too ripe) Water melon (anything which is really juicy will crystallize and it makes it more sweet.

Vegetables cut into small strips with a healthy dip – Dips can be anything from peanut butter to a ranch dressing. I make my own ranch dressing which is lighter, tasty and fresh. With dressings I keep an eye out for the amount of oil and salt I use.

The recipe can be found here >> Easy to make Light Ranch Dressing

This is another dressing which I like to use >>

it is a Soy dressing from Food network

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy oil
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 generous tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • Salt to taste (I tend to avoid the salt as soy sauce has enough salt for my taste)

Whip all the ingredients together and drizzle on vegetables or salad greens.Enjoy!

Hoisin Dressing: (from the foodnetwork.com)

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk well to blend. (Will keep in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.)

Yield: 1 cup

My basic Vinaigrette (I like to make it fresh every time, keeps the tanginess intact)

  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)- 4 tbsps
  • 1/4 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped Fresh Basil,Thyme and oregano
    OR
    a Tsp of dried thyme, basil and oregano
  • Pepper and salt to taste

Whisk together the liquids until it becomes viscous (cloudy and white) add spices, pepper and salt to taste enjoy drizzled over your favorite greens!

1 cup of Fresh Lemon Juice

Mint leaves for Garnish

8 cups water + 1 cups of sugar  (heat in the microwave for 4 minutes)

Add some ice to the sugar water mixture to cool it down. Mix in the lemon juice and your lemonade is ready. I serve mine with lots of ice and a mint leaf. Check for sweetness I am tad on the less sweet side.

Enjoy Summer with all the fresh ingredients and flavors at your local Farmers market. It is a fun way to spend time finding healthier produce and also getting to know the producers :) So get out there Enjoy the dog days of Summer!

Live Green!

I would love to add any other ideas anyone would like to add to this list.

Some things which I think will help:

Kidco Healthy Snack Frozen Treat Trays

Lunch Boxes and Snacks: Over 120 healthy recipes from delicious sandwiches and salads to hot soups and sweet treats

Healthy Snacks with Blue! (Blue’s Clues)