Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wellness Wednesday / "Delia's Dose"

This week’s blog is inspired by the fact that this weekend I will be driving about 6.5 hrs one way to be in one of my best friend’s wedding! Now, in the old days when it was just me and I was young, I’d hop in the car with my carton of cigarettes, sun block, and cd collection and drive! Hey…what happens when you are 23 in the middle of New Mexico on a road trip… stays in the middle of New Mexico! HA!

Welllll, I still love a good road trip, but these days they are MUCH different…absolutely no cigarettes and now I have a 3 ½ year old along for the ride! Not only do I have to think of things to keep her occupied while we drive across the Midwest, but I need healthy food options. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you probably know that I am not one to purchase anything from a gas station, except gas! Although, many now have some fresh fruits and baked whole grain munchies to purchase, but  I am also on a budget, so I am not paying $1.25 for ONE banana!

Here are some great travel/on the go/healthy food options. Great not only for road trips, but soccer games, busy weekend errand running, or beautiful falls day at the park.
Get those ice packs and coolers ready!

String cheese
Carrot sticks/Celery Sticks
All natural peanut butter(for dipping those veggies in! put some into a Tupperware bowl that the kids can easily open in the car)
Peeled hard-boiled eggs
Bell peppers cut into sticks
Sliced Apples(I cut them into thinly sliced wedges about 30 minutes before we leave so they don’t get to brown, you can cut them the night before but squeeze a little fresh lemon on them before you put in a baggie or airtight container)
Cherry Tomatoes
Rice Cakes
Baked, whole grain crackers or chips. (avoid greasy, fried chips…not good for your tummy, especially when you are traveling!)
Pudding or yogurt cups(without too many fake ingredients please!)
Lean, preservative free, sodium nitrate free deli meats(remember those Gladiator roll-ups from my previous blog!)
Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews
Tuna salad (make ahead and put into a container. When you stop at a rest stop or park for lunch, you can scoop out the tuna onto crackers or bread or eat by itself…make sure to grab some plastic forks and spoons for your picnic lunch!)
Homemade Granola—much better than store bought! Doesn’t have the preservatives and added sodium. I love to make this during the fall…smells so good baking in the oven!

This recipe is gluten free, if you want gluten, add a ½ cup of bran cereal to the mix.
The great thing about granola is you can modify it anyway you want! This recipe is a combo of about 3 different granola recipes that I have tried in the past. As you make it you will probably add a little more of this and a little more of that. This is fun for the kids to help make!

5 cups oats (you can find certified gluten free brands out there)
1 cup pumpkin seeds (if you don’t like these, substitute chopped cashews, walnuts or sesame seeds instead)
¼ cup flaxseed meal (a great healthy omega 3 rich ingredient)
1 cup raw almonds (coarsely chopped in your food processor or blender)
1 ½ cups of your favorite dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, raisins, blueberries)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger and or nutmeg (your choice..sometimes I put ½ tsp of each!)
1 tsp salt
¼ cup honey or maple syrup (your choice!)
½ cup carrot puree (hidden veggie!)
Preheat oven to 350

Mix all the ingredients in one big bowl. Try to evenly coat everything with the honey/maple syrup and carrot puree. If I find that I’ve added more ingredients than normal, which can happen when you have little helpers…I add a little bit of olive or coconut oil to the mixture and stir it all up, you don’t want it too sticky but not too dry either. 

Now, spread this mix onto a couple greased baking sheets, but I find it easier and less risk of mess, to put it into a roasting pan, that way I can stir up the ingredients half way through baking.
Bake for 12 minutes, then stir it up, 12 minutes then stir, 12 minutes then stir. You are looking for the granola to be golden brown and crunchy! 

Let it cool completely before putting it into an air tight container or baggies for easy on the go snacking!

Have a Healthy Week!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wellness Wednesday / "Delia's Dose"

This week I am inspired by my need to have quick and healthy meals available for myself and my daughter.  I am like most working moms…by the end of a long day the last thing I want to do is make an elaborate nutritious meal for dinner!  Sooo, in my attempt to continue to eat healthy while working full time, being a single mom, and rehabbing a house…here’s what I have been doing and I thought I would share!

FIRST though, I want to talk about something that I personally have avoided for several years now…SODIUM NITRATES.  Ohhhh you thought I was just going to throw out a quick and easy recipe, didn’t you! Ha! You know me better than that by now!  

Sodium Nitrate is a food additive used mainly in cured meats. You can look on a package of bacon, deli meats, salami, hot dogs, corned beef…most of these all contain sodium nitrates. Now, in the old days, before refrigerators, we preserved foods with salt, or drying, canning or fermentation. Preserving food is necessary for us because it stops deadly bacteria from forming. Ever heard of botulism? Well, sodium nitrate inhibits this thing called clostridium botulinum from producing a toxin that causes that. Ok, well that sounds good right? But wait…this sodium nitrate stuff can also form cancer causing things called nitrosamines. Those nasty things have been linked to bladder, colon, and esophageal cancers! Studies show in countries where people eat a lot of foods containing sodium nitrates, the rate of esophagus and stomach cancers are higher. 

There are numerous studies and debates as to whether nitrates and nitrites are safe or unsafe and you can decide for yourself. I guess one thing that helped ME make my decision to avoid these was the fact that pregnant women are supposed to avoid ALL processed deli meats, cured meats, and hot dogs.   Apparently consuming high quantities  during pregnancy can put your unborn child at 3 times the risk of developing brain tumors! Think about all those sandwiches you have eaten in your life… made with overly processed sodium nitrate filled deli meat….oh my!

So, if you want to avoid these sodium nitrates it’s easy to do. I have done it for almost 4 yrs now! I buy nitrate free bacon(you can find it at your local grocery stores, you just have to read labels!)and yes, I am the annoying customer at the deli counter asking the worker to let me see a nutritional guide for all of the meats that are in the case! I can always find at least 1 or 2 brands/kinds in the case. Obviously, like I always say, everything in moderation…you shouldn’t eat a ton of meats like salami, bacon, and hot dogs anyway..they are high in fat!

Alright, so here’s my quick and healthy fun recipe for you!

GLADIATOR ROLL-UPS (hey, I had to think of an exciting name to get my 3 ½ year old to try them!)
I love these because you can choose a variety of colorful, healthy ingredients!

Lay out a slice of deli meat and put your choice of ingredients in the middle then roll it up like a tiny burrito. Great for kids because they can easily help you make these and may even come up with a creative combo!

*your choice of nitrate free deli meat: we prefer turkey or roast beef
*Ingredient combos
-avocado/cherry tomatoes
-lettuce of any kind drizzled with olive oil and balsamic
-apple/red onion
-cucumber/bell pepper
-artichoke hearts/fresh basil leaves
-kalamata olives/sliced carrots
-cheese of your choice/fresh asparagus
-the possibilities are endless!

Have a Healthy Week!