Saturday, April 10, 2010

a healthier approach

I have recently been studying a lot about nutrition and how I can incorporate healthier, less processed foods into our diet. I have always tried to do this, but have noticed how many processed foods have been sneaking in lately. A friend recently sent me a lot of articles and website links on this topic, and I've been so motivated to replace a lot of our foods with healthier options. While I'm tempted to clean house and dump a lot of our pantry contents into the trash (which might be fun but would be wasteful and costly), I'm instead just patiently using these up and as I restock, choosing more nourishing replacements. I have a long way to go, but I feel like it's important to do this. I've always been very interested in nutrition (I wanted to be a nutritionist until college chemistry got the best of me!), but have lost sight of it over the past few years with all the transitions and responsibilities of life (and the many tempting recipes out there that are not healthy but look so tasty!). 
This change is slow, but I feel good about refocusing. I hope this will help me plan better choices for dinner and also limit what I make because I want to use healthy ingredients. At the same time, I think it will open up the door for some fun, new recipes that I've not tried. For example: I bought Quinoa yesterday from Whole Foods...I have no idea what to do with it, but I'll learn!
My biggest focus recently (other than replacing items in our pantry as they are used up) is on eating a more wholesome breakfast. I wouldn't say that we had been eating unhealthy, but I've been trying to incorporate more healthful ingredients. That said, we're back on the green smoothies and I've been making homemade whole wheat bread so we can have a slice of it toasted (with some butter!). I look forward to breakfast so much! Sure, it might take 5 minutes to make a smoothie...but that's really not a very large amount of time. My husband, child, and I all love this breakfast. Sometimes I'll also eat one boiled egg for protein (I sometimes give my child the egg yolk for the nutrients and good fat). And while all of this might have a good amount of calories,  it's all good, nourishing, nutrient rich it's worth it.
As I transition, I'll share with you what I've learned and any fun recipes I make. I'm sure I'll still make some recipes that have processed ingredients, but overall, my new goal is just to turn the healthiness up a notch or two.
I've posted about the smoothie before, but here is what I'm using right now. I know the idea of raw spinach sounds awful, but I PROMISE that you cannot taste it, and it's so full of nutrients that you simply must try it!
One note: Please wash your spinach very well before you blend it, especially if you are giving this to your children, and EVEN if it's pre-washed spinach, because their little digestive systems are more sensitive to bacteria. My pediatrician made a point to tell me this, from experience. I won't go into detail...just give that spinach a good rinse!

Green smoothie (and with berries, it's not even very green in color!)

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1-2 bananas (I freeze bananas when they become too ripe to use and then thaw them for the smoothie)
1-2 cups frozen fruit (we love a combo of mixed berries and they are full of antioxidants!)
1 orange, juiced (you can use store bought OJ but if you have the time, this is fresher and healthier)
1/2-1 cup plain yogurt (I use whole milk yogurt-it's healthy with good fat and is creamy!)
Honey-I use local honey and just put a big squirt (about 1 Tbsp.) into the blender
1-2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
Spinach-a big handful, probably between 1-2 cups
Water or ice, if the smoothie isn't blending well or seems too thick

D I R E C T I O N S :

Combine ingredients into a blender and blend well. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Bread

Wheat bread
recipe originally from Sue Gregg

I N G R E D I E N T S :

6 c flour (I don't have wheat mill so I use king arthur white whole wheat-it is 100% whole wheat but lighter and softer)
2 1/4 c water (temp 110-115 degrees)
1/3 c oil
1/3 c honey
1 T yeast
2 tsp salt

D I R E C T I O N S :

If you have a good mixer and won't knead it by hand, combine the water, oil, honey, and salt into the mixer. Mix until well blended.
Next, add half of the flour. Mix until just blended.
Add the yeast, mix again until just blended.
Add remaining flour and mix until just blended. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
Knead by machine for 6 minutes.
Put it into greased loaf pans and let it rise in a warm oven (I do 170 degrees), covered, for 45 minutes or so.
Remove covers. Turn oven up to 350, and bake for 25 minutes or so (until the bottom is golden brown).
To cool, loosen with a butter knife and place on cooling rack on their sides.
Use a pastry brush to brush a little butter over the tops for a nice soft crust.


Kristen's Raw said...

Mmmm homemade whole wheat bread. :)

My family loves green smoothies! Yesterday and today we've been loving organic spinach, banana, and ginger. :)


Domestic Kate said...

Please share what you try with the quinoa. I bought a huge bag of it at Costco a couple of months ago, and haven't really tried anything yet. I think I'm going to start with muffins, but it looks like there are lots of things to do with it.

Anca said...

Nancy, I have a good vegetarian quinoa recipe to send can sort of use it wherever you'd use rice. I even use it in Caroline's cereal blend with millet and oatmeal. Makes a great little lunch salad with beans, herbs, veggies, lemon/lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper.

eric + jessica said...

Hey Nancy-

I have several quinoa recipes I can email you... they are all AMAZING!