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Hemp – not just for breakfast anymore April 14, 2009

Filed under: Food — hinky @ 7:38 pm

I had a great surprise waiting for me in the mail yesterday – a shipment of samples from Nutiva!

Yesterday's stash - Nutiva hemp seed, hemp shake mix, hem protein powder, and a flax-raisin bar (featured here half-eaten.  For the record, it was not sent in that condition - it was complete before I tore into it).

Yesterday's stash - Nutiva hemp seed, hemp shake mix, hem protein powder, and a flax-raisin bar (featured here half-eaten. For the record, it was not sent in that condition - it was complete before I tore into it).

Nutiva is a company with a conscious; they believe in sustainability, and growing hemp is one way to accomplish that. The back of the drink mix packet includes this sentence: “Growing hemp (a non-psychoactive crop) restores our soils and conserves forests, contributing to a healthy and sustainable world.” Other ingredients they use include acai berries, which they state “provide extra income for indigenous Amazon rain forest dwellers.” Isn’t that cool!

They didn’t send their other big product, coconut. That’s okay. I love coconut, but for now, it’s great just to have some quickie powder mixes to whip up two meals a day. I am trying to make my meals easier, and lower-fat. I’ll still cook for the fam at dinnertime, but having something simple for myself that just requires a blender is very helpful.

See?  Easy.

See? Easy.

Following the directions on the envelope, I mixed the contents of the Amazon Acai flavor with 2T hemp seeds, a frozen banana (or two) and a handful of strawberries. The result, after blending, was a lot like dirt. Now, I have heard this dirty talk about hemp before, and normally I can handle it. I like the earthy flavor you can only get from food that comes directly out of the dirt. Makes me feel like a fluffy little sheep. But this stuff knocked me backward. It had all the appeal of a dog toy you found buried in the yard, which you then decided to clean using your tongue. I added honey and it was much better.

At lunch, I tried the Berry Pomegranate flavor, using 2T coconut oil (look at Nutiva’s website to see it – it resembles Crisco in texture, but tastes like heaven), more strawberries, and honey. It was remarkable! Wonderful flavor, great texture; the coconut oil added a huge boost to my overall hemp morale. So far it’s my favorite.

Zoom in to see the hempstache.

Zoom in to see the hempstache.

The nutty bar in the picture above is good too – very seedy. The ingredient list includes sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, honey, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and almonds – all certified organic. Half of it was enough to get me through from lunch til dinner yesterday. The greatest part of these products (besides the benefits inherent in their ingredients, is they’re low in calories and sugar, but high in protein and fiber. Score.

Depending on the cost of this product, I would totally use it as a substitute for regular meals. The ease of prep is a huge plus, and the health benefits are nothing to sneeze at either.  Thanks, Nutiva!

 

Presents! April 9, 2009

Filed under: Food — hinky @ 6:07 pm

Hoooo, boy I got some good stuff today. Molly over at Pom Wonderful sent me a box of this today:

Now in 8 oz. bottles!

Now in 8 oz. bottles!

It was just what we needed on a clammy gray day to go with leftover Indian food from two nights ago. It isn’t very sweet, just enough to make it delightfully palatable. Sweetened pomegranate juice is sticky, and this product has none of that. In addition to the beautiful little bottles I got from this company, I also received some literature about the health benefits of drinking pomegranate juice.

First, you have to understand the company name, Pom Wonderful refers to the variety of pomegranates used to make the products – the wonderful variety (like “Fuji” apples and navel oranges). Wonderful variety pomegranates are known for their deep red color, sweeter taste than other pomegranates, and also happen to contain a fantastic amount of antioxidants. Apparently, the presence of polyphenols in the wonderfuls give the juice a potent antioxidant content superior to those found in other juice known to contain antioxidants, like green tea, cranberry and even acai juice.

In addition to these benefits everyone can enjoy, men in particular make out like bandits on this one as juice made from the wonderful variety is proven scientifically to reduce recurrence of prostate cancer in cancer patients, as well as serve non-cancer patients toward good prostate health. Go prostates! I’m not going to get into any intimate details about men and their dangly bits, but if you want to read some great stats about clinical studies and antioxidant potency, get thyself over to http://www.pomwonderful.com pronto.

At the website you’ll find more great information about the juice, tea, and capsules they sell, as well as a cute mini-vid about pomegranate superheroes.

As for me, I’m making a commitment to keep drinking this stuff. It’s good for heart health, and as we all know by now, antioxidants have anti-cancer properties for everyone, big or small, boy or girl (or old dogs). It’s also cheaper and better for you than a latte-a-day at your favorite coffee shop.

Small enough to carry in your pocket - almost.

Small enough to carry in your pocket - almost.

A special thanks to Molly for being such a peach (or a pom).

 

By golly, it worked! April 2, 2009

Filed under: Food — hinky @ 10:15 pm

I’m so happy I have finally figured this out: I never seem to find a use for the leftover almond meal that remains as a product of almond milk manufacture. In another post, I’ll document how I do this, but for now, I want to tell you about my fantastic baking breakthrough. I have seen all over the interwebs that people like to use this stuff as a facial scrub, but I want to EAT it, not scrub with it. So today, I put two sticks of butter (you can adapt this using vegan substitutes, by the way), an egg, and about 3/4 cup of sugar in my standing mixer and beat it senseless. Then I added vanilla and the almond meal and enough flour to make it look like cookie dough. Using a teaspoon, I scooped humps of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, pressed them down with a sugared glass, and baked them til the edges were a little brown (at 375 degrees). It took maybe 13-15 minutes, but that will depend on how done you like them. Here’s the result:

Thievery!

Thievery!

Next time I’ll toy around with spices or replacing the egg with 1T flaxmeal mixed with 1/4 cup water (that’s a good egg substitution). Maybe I can enhance the flavor a little with some almond extract…hmmm…that sounds good too. I’ll let you know what shakes out!

 

Superfoods: a working definition March 30, 2009

Filed under: Food,Raw Food — hinky @ 2:33 pm

In case you haven’t heard, “superfoods” can mean many things, but it’s getting to where it means a product which contains phytonutrients and is high in antioxidants.  Okay, so what does that mean in lay terms?  A good list of the “old” superfoods is beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea (green or black), tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, and yogurt.  According to Stephen Pratt, M.D., the author of Superfoods Rx:

Available on amazon.com

Available on amazon.com

these 14 foods contain the highest amount of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidants are the vitamins, minerals, hormones and other chemicals that prevent the chain-reaction oxidation has on cells in the body. Oxidation stress causes all manor of havoc in the body such as cancer and heart disease. Here, just read this (if you are a scientific type and like food chemistry…or if you can’t go to sleep and need a catalyst): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioxidants.

Okay, so Stephen Pratt wrote this very readable, very helpful and easy-to-follow book about antioxidants and how to get them from your food. Since then, more research and publicity has surfaced from the food chemistry world that shows some other foods contain even more amazing properties including high antioxidant levels, and nutrient density. Many claim you can live on these foods alone. A few of these which are getting to be well-known even in your local grocery are acai juice, pomegranate, and certain types of cocoa (actually, cacao). Yes! Chocolate! But I digress… There are more exotic fruits/foods too like goji berry, maca, and mesquite which help make up good tasting health shakes, among other things, but also help regulate sugar and hormone production.

You'll find dry goji berries for sale in a bag.  They're about the size, and are similar in flavor to raisins.

You'll find dry goji berries for sale in a bag. They're about the size, and are similar in flavor to raisins.

So here’s the deal – you can research your brains out on this topic. There is plenty of stuff available for you to read and ruminate about. Just keep in mind that whole foods, especially the foods in the “superfoods” category, should be tops on your list for optimum health. To help you with this conversion or with your research, I am going to start sampling products from the superfoods world and report back to you about what I discover. At present I’m just using the raw components (gogi, cacao, maca, etc. – they make a great shake and substitute for coffee), but soon I will review commercial products (shake powders, meal replacement bars, juice, etc) available at your drugstore or grocery (or if you’re super-lucky, you have a health food store near you) and I’ll tell you just how super-human I’m getting to be. I’ll be sure to get someone to take my picture when I get to the point that I’m lifting the family car over my head. So far it’s just Matchbox cars:

OBSERVE THE BREADTH OF MY BRAWN.  Unnnghh!

OBSERVE THE BREADTH OF MY BRAWN. Unnnghh!

 

Everybody bento! March 15, 2009

Filed under: Food — hinky @ 3:26 am

I love reading about bento boxes, especially when there are ideas for quick ones, or pictures of accessories you never would have dreamed of all by yourself.  Usually I read www.justbento.com, but today I stumbled on a new website that featured ideas for moms packing kids’ bento lunches.  Lunch in a Box has a crazy looking homepage that is visually so cluttered, I’m worried my eyes are going to start bleeding, but the ideas on it are great.  I need to figure out what sorts of lunch-y items are good to freeze in advance, thereby saving time in the morning, and I also need ideas for stuff kids eat.  This website provides both, plus many more great tips.  I would love to start packing lunches like this magnificent example:

Type "panda bento" into your google search bar...this ain't the only pic you'll find.

Type "panda bento" into your google search bar...this ain't the only pic you'll find.

But if I’m honest with myself (and I usually am, unless I’m being in denial), I know what I really want is a little mold that can press a boiled egg into the shape of a car.

If you read the following post, you can even see how to dye it:  http://everythingyourmamamade.com/2008/07/23/bento-egg-molds/

If you read the following post, you can even see how to dye it: http://everythingyourmamamade.com/2008/07/23/bento-egg-molds/

Bento boxes are supposed to be healthy, and help you control portion size. But if you’re a kid in elementary school, and you open a lunch box featuring cheese cut into shapes that resemble your favorite Nintendo character, do you really care about portion size? In reality, bento may just be good clean fun, and if it takes plastic accessories to lead us into good health, I think maybe duty calls.

 

It worked! March 9, 2009

Filed under: Food — hinky @ 6:22 pm

Yesterday I thought I’d bake some prune cookies.  I realized I needed to start it yesterday, and finish it today – unless you start it early in the day and finish it that night, it’s really better to do it in two chunks. I mixed the dry ingredients, the wet, and the filling all the night before, so that the only thing left was assembly.  I like to think breaking it up makes it more likely I’ll repeat the recipe in the future.  The blog where the recipe was mentioned calls it “a labor of love,” but don’t let that stop you.  It is not a hard recipe, and not particularly time consuming either.  The only thing to keep in mind is to make a half recipe, as it is enough.  I find the portions indicated to be way off;  it reports only 24 servings from a whole recipe.  I’m going to get at least that many from half, and most likely more like 36-40.  See:

The first two loaves straight out of the oven.

The first two straight out of the oven.

Here’s what they look like cut and glazed:

The recipe actually calls for sprinkles!

The recipe actually calls for sprinkles!

It tastes like a light cake, not dry, perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea. I hope everyone tries this, and lets me know how you like it! I’m just happy to have found another “old world” recipe.

 

It’s here at last! November 17, 2008

Filed under: Food — hinky @ 6:00 pm

How exciting – my Vitamix came in the mail!  I didn’t get much chance to use it right away, but in the past few days I have successfully made ice cream, smoothies, capuccino, frozen frappes, almond milk, vegetable juice, and something that looks like poop (but tasted great).  I am starting to think bananas irritate my mouth.  I have put bananas in nearly everything I’ve made (everything that’s a drink base anyway) and I’m getting a stinging feeling on my lips and in the back of my throat.  Is this something to worry about?

Who cares!  The fact is, now that I have this amazing machine, not only can I obliterate ice into snow, make my own powdered sugar, and beat the heck out of some egg whites, I can also (hopefully) join the throngs of health freaks who put spinach in the blender and call it a “green smoothie.”  (Apparently, they don’t just taste like spinach.  I like spinach, but I wouldn’t have thought to combine it with ice cream.)

For lots of fun watching me fumble on camera, you can see me unboxing the beloved appliance here.