Monday, December 3, 2018

Chocolate Cherry Torte Energy Balls ~ Laraballs (Revised)

Note: Kirkland cherries have added sugar...but I still like the pic :)


Chocolate Cherry Torte Energy Bites ~ Laraballs
(Original Post)

1 c walnuts
1/2 c dried cherries, unsweetened
1/2 c dates, pitted
1/2 c cocoa, unsweetened
1/4 c flaxseed, ground
1/2 Tbsp water

Blend well with a food processor (set a 90 sec timer) and shape how ever you like! Larabars are a favorite treat in my house and super-healthy (read more here).

Transfer the mix in a resealable sandwich bag and shape into balls from outside bag. They can be stored at room temp or in the frig. Easy as that!

Check out this Google Image Search to get the idea of the flavor I was going for - healthy style ;)

Use a quart sized bag for this recipe since I doubled the original,
...or you could follow the photo and use two sandwich bags.

Good for the Naughty (I'll take this coal any day!)

Good for the Nice (give as a gift, even send in the mail!)

Friday, July 27, 2018

The 411 on B12

I am asked frequently about supplements - please note the danger of supplements in general (Scandalous Supplements). SPOILER: there is literally NO governmental regulation of ANY dietary supplements in the USA!

None of this delicious summer food contains B12

When we eat a plant based whole foods diet (fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains!), it's reassuring and awesome to know that intakes of ALMOST ALL vitamins and minerals are higher than those of people eating processed and animal foods. In fact, for most micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), everybody is getting plenty. One deficiency that is widespread in the USA and beyond is...take a guess...fiber! Read more about fiber here: FABULOUS FIBER!

One SPECIAL BONUS about fiber is that many of phytochemicals (antioxidants, etc.) found in the plant foods that we love are BOUND TO FIBER. This fact makes smoothies a better choice than juicing (discarding the pulp is like throwing away nutritional treasure!).

BUT BESIDES FIBER, WE ALL NEED A RELIABLE SOURCE OF VITAMIN B12. It is recommended that all Americans ages 50+ take a B12 supplement, and if you follow a plant based diet, YOU also ought to be taking some B12!

So...the focus of this post...B12!

The good news is that you don't need a B12 injection. There are several details you must carefully check. The following results are based on the best available research on vitamin B12.

USP is the most important thing...please don't just look for Nature Made...please LOOK FOR USP verified.

1. Choose CYANOCOBALAMIN (rather than methylcobalamin)
2. Choose a supplement with a USP seal (United States Pharmacopoeia) - Refer back to Scandalous Supplements.
3. Choose sublingual (this is a dissolving that the B12 gets into your bloodstream, rather than your harsh intestine, from where it is more difficult to absorb)
4. Serving size may vary (usually between 500-5000mcg, micrograms)
Now, how to take it!

1. Initially, take above supplement daily for 1-2 weeks, to kick start your body's stores. This has been shown to be equally as effective as a B12 injection!
2. Let tablet dissolve under your tongue, rather than chewing and swallowing into digestive system.
3. Henceforth, your intake should total around 2500 mcg weekly. Yes, just once a week!
Vitamin D is a good idea, too; but I don't recommend anything else!

Here are a bunch of videos about B12.

I love this Victory for Vegetables sign at Disney, but vegetables today don't contain B12.
By the way, Disney World has chocolate tofu "ice cream", vegan cheese vegetable pizza (for a treat!), and of course chips and guacamole in Epcot! Mostly...we pack food for the day, but my awesome hubby scoped out some fun options for us! Remember to ask for "non-dairy" versions since they didn't seem to use the word vegan at Disney, or list such items (vegan options) on menus.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Easy Everyday Enchiladas

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these tasty, versatile, and so-easy-to-make enchiladas! Feel free to vary the ingredients (little more or less of this or that) because every way I make this recipe it's a hit!

Soya chunks (used in this recipe) are sometimes used as croutons in India. This is a one-ingredient product: dehydrated soy. Once rehydrated, pieces take on a chewy, chickeny/meaty texture. Like tofu (and chicken!), it tastes like whatever flavor is added. It is a fabulous replacement for chicken in all of your favorite recipes; share your experiences in the comments below!

Easy Everyday Enchiladas
(at our house, we could eat them everyday!)

5-6 tomatoes, pureed (~2 c, or 14 oz can)
1-2 c soya chunks (optional; find these crouton-like pieces at any Indian grocer, or on Amazon)
4 c salsa (1 large jar)
1 block tofu (any firmness, organic preferred, drained, squeezed)
1 c chilies and tomatoes (10 oz can Rotel, no salt added is sometimes available)
4-5 c beans (any combo of black, refried, and pinto; about 3 cans; prepared from dry is delicious, easy, and cheap!)
1lb spinach, chopped (frozen works!)
1/2 c flaxseed, ground (try adding more and no one will notice!)
Whole wheat tortillas, 8 or so
Enchilada sauce ( could add some of this on the bottom and on the top, but it's not needed, and we don't use it any more)

~Hydrate soya chunks by soaking in water in a cereal bowl, with a second cereal bowl on top to make sure the chunks are submerged.
~After a few minutes, press top bowl down and drain.
~In food processor, briefly shred soya chunks with 1 c salsa, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
~Pour tomato puree into rectangular, glass baking pan.
~Next, blend tofu and 2 c salsa, and add this salmon-colored sauce to the mixing bowl.
~Add flax, spinach, all beans, chilies, and remaining salsa and stir everything together. 
~Add heaping 1-cup scoops of filling to each tortilla, and roll it up a bit, and place in pan, repeat until pan is full.
~When pan is full, add extra filling on sides if there is room.
~Squish enchiladas down in the pan with a spatula, so all the tortillas are moist and everything is spread out evenly.
With extra filling, prepare a second small pan the same way, or in layers: filling, tortilla, filling, tortilla, etc.
~Bake for about 40 min at 350, and enjoy!
Great topped with salsa and/or guacamole!

*An alternative meal is to pump up poblano peppers with this enchilada filling!
**One more way to use the filling is to alternate flat layers of corn tortillas and filling, then bake. This makes a Mexican lasagna :)

This recipe provides plenty of Dr Greger Check Marks! 1) beans, 2) greens, 3) other veggies, 4) whole grains, and 5) flax !

See our other Mexican options HERE! Happy early Cinco de Mayo!

And for fun, a Holderness Family video: It's Gonna Be May! 

Friday, March 23, 2018

May Be EASIEST Dinner Ever! Sloppy Len's (Vegan Sloppy Joe's, Sloppy Ben's)

This is SO easy, and TASTY! And Familiar! As I've said before, LENTILS are SO nutritious! One of the healthiest "beans"! And a great way to get your daily dose of flaxseed! It's a definite KID-friendly meal! They could even make it! (with some help by the stove :) )

It's another way to get Dr Greger Daily Dozen Check Marks!

Sloppy Len's (Sloppy Ben's, Sloppy Lentils)
~4 c water (enough to cover mound of lentils)
~ 2 c dry lentils
15 oz can sloppy Joe sauce 
2/3 c ground flaxseed

Cover and surround a mound of lentils with water in a pot; this is about 4 cups. Add 1 can sauce, stir, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 30 min. I add some water to can to make sure I get all the sauce; this extra cup or so of water is ok. After the 30 min, stir in flaxseed, and enjoy on a bun, in a pita, or in a bowl on it's own!

With a bit more time, you can make the Forks Over Knives recipe - and avoid a canned food! (but actually, this recipe still has brown sugar and soy sauce, so if you want NO Sugar, Oil, Salt...get Unprocessed, an awesome cookbook from Chef AJ and make some Not So Sloppy Joe's on p.107)

I found a sauce that is fairly benign, especially since it helps us eat more lentils! Also, I found it at a drug store, so there would likely be even better options at a grocery store! Dei Fratelli's sauce has few ingredients, with no HFCS or other chemicals. While it contains salt and sugar, it's a great way to enjoy lentils fast!

On the same trip, I was so saddened to see NO BEAN chili! Really! Chili is one of the few ways many Americans normally eat beans. Plus, canned chili! Yikes! Chili is like the easiest meal to make ever! Here are some recipes:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blue Zones and More! Live Long and Live Well!

Have you ever heard of the Blue Zones (a few great videos here)? The Blue Zones are 5 locations where people live the longest in the world! I have often mentioned them during my classes and lectures, so it's about time I wrote a post! SO here's a bit about them:

Dan Buettner, along with National Geographic and others, set out to learn about the culture of the areas of the world that have the greatest number of centenarians (people who live to be at least 100 years old). Here six characteristics that tie these cultures together:

  • Mostly plant based whole foods! A lovely variety of colorful foods! Lots of beans and nuts!
  • Strong social (friend and family) relationships - the oldest people are most honored and valued!
  • Physically active, not "exercise", rather movement to live: building, gardening, stirring :)
  • Strong sense of purpose and handle stress well (I'll link here to Lisa Damour's take on resilience in Untangled, with the related post title "Family Dinner" which surely happens every night in all of the Blue Zones!)
  • Faith and faith-based communities
  • Health is contagious! as in you tend to have similar health outcomes with the friends and family with whom you spend your life.

BONUS: The Japanese, in particular, and perhaps others, have several methods to not eat too much: a) prepare everyone's plate, and put the rest away (rather than family style), b) use smaller plates, and c) aim for 80% full (they have a special name for this: "hari hachi bu").

This is cool one or more of these cultures, there is no word for "retired".

Today, Time had a great article highlighting the Blue Zones!

Here are three great lists of Benefits of Eating Less Meat, and Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat. You can use these resources to convince yourself or your loved ones to make a change, or pat yourself on the back for the great changes you have already made. Enjoy!

COMMENTS: which of the benefits most impact you? For me, I knew the health benefits, so it was when I was truly educated about the astounding environmental impact of this lifestyle change, that I decided I would use my power to help save the Earth!

BONUS RECIPE (because everyone loves recipes!):
Cocoa Balls!
1 c ground flax, 1 c walnuts, 1 c dates, 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 peanuts
Blend in food processor ~2 min, form dough into balls, and enjoy!
...similar to other recipes, but this is how I made them today :) OTHER FLAVORS

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ideas for Lent!

Another beautiful season of Lent is about to begin. If you haven't already decided what you will be doing to prepare for Easter, here are some ideas!

This little one loves to help, so she wants to make beds and take out trash for Lent.
Lenten Promise Ideas

Make a family dinner EVERY night. Unfortunately, I don't already do this, but fortunately for my family, this Lent I am going to go for it! You could aim to eat in 5 days per week, or make 2 dinners per week, or sit down to a family meal once per week.

Perform a random act of kindness daily, such as helping someone fill their trunk with groceries, holding a door open for a crowd, smiling and saying hello to a stranger, letting someone go in front of you in line, buying someone flowers, buying someone a treat, making something special for a friend or family member, doing an extra chore/errand and not saying you did, writing a letter or calling a loved one, taking a grocery cart to or from someone, shoveling a walk way, baking or cooking for someone. WRITE IN THE COMMENTS other ideas! Or share a story of what you have done - spread some good news!

Exercise every day, or every other day, anything you can commit to, that is more than you do now.

Give up alcohol for Lent, or on weekdays, or on weekends.

Give up refined sugar (this doesn't refer to whole fruit or whole grains!).

Give up...the internet, or texting, or youtube, or movies, or TV, or electronics in the evening, or turn off your phone for 2 hrs a day...any bit "off the grid" we can get will surely help us with our Lenten goals.

Commit to meeting one of your Dr Greger Daily Dozen Checklist items daily. For example, I will have flaxseed every day during Lent.

Drink 5 glasses of water every day during Lent.

Say the Rosary every day during Lent, or three days per week, or on Saturdays.

Prayerfully review your day with the Daily Examen from St Ignatius.

Go to Reconciliation each week during Lent, or once during Lent.

Do yoga for 10 minutes per day, or 2 classes per week, or once a week.

Sit quietly and just breathe for 5 minutes each morning.

Here are some other examples from a previous post: Other Lenten Ideas 

May God bless you today, and always!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Loads Dr Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist Recipes

Loads Dr Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist Recipes

Dr Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist is a wonderful tool that can quickly and easily help anyone get healthier!

After reading How Not to Die, I began focus even more on eating the foods recommended by nutrition research for optimal health. After a year or so, I started actually tracking my food intake with Dr. Greger's checklist. For the first few months of tracking, I averaged 20 out of 24 check marks, meaning that I was meeting most of my requirements, and eating healthier than ever before!

As soon as I saw my first 24 out of 24, I was hooked! So, from that day (11/01/17) forward, I decided to aim for 100%! Sometimes I have to complete my missing check marks before bed. My odd food combinations at the end of the day can be entertaining. Tonight, for example, I had a 1/2 c frozen cherries and 2-3 large leaves of kale (equivalent of 1 c raw), 1/4 c hummus, and some pistachios. For several months now, I have averaged 23 out of 24 check marks! Meeting the exercise requirement every single day is my biggest challenge, and slowly but surely, I am getting there! 

I LOVE that I am actually eating beans and greens EACH day, more fruits and vegetables than EVER before, and flaxseed and turmeric EVERY single day! Also, having some berries and nuts on a daily basis is exciting because these are foods I love and value, but couldn't say I definitely ate them daily in the past. My family is not quite getting all their daily check marks, but they are doing great, eating lots of beans and greens...mostly with smiles on their faces :). As time goes by, their intakes are improving as well!

So here are some recipes that can help YOU get YOUR check marks! Enjoy!

Recipes to Help YOU with YOUR Dr Greger Daily Dozen

Creamy Carrot or Cauliflower Soup
Madras Chili
Easy Egyptian Stew

Spicy Vodka Pasta
Meatless Meatballs
Cheesy, Meaty Lasagna
Oil-Free Bruschetta

Super Juice 
Mango Recovery Smoothie
5-Checkmark Spicy Ginger Latte (how could I forget?)
Snow Day Hot Cocoa
Power-Packed Ginger Ale

Cherry Lemon Bars
Orange Almond Biscotti Balls
Crunchy Pumpkin Spice Cookie Dough
Healthy Fudgy Brownies
Banana Bread


COMMENTS: Do you use a daily Dozen app? What check marks are hardest for you to get? Do your kids keep track? Have you made progress in your totals? What tricks do you have for getting everything in? Do you have the cookbook? What's your favorite recipe?


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