Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Organic Salad

The last several weeks I have went to Sendiks and purchased whatever organic greens they had to bring home and make a salad with. I eat a salad every day Monday - Friday. It all depends on my weekend schedule whether I can fit a salad in there or not.

This week I got spinach, dandelion greens, rainbow chard, two types of kale, arugula, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine and some carrots.

The rainbow chard was MASSIVE! I have never tried this before but I was excited simply due to its size. It looks like a prehistoric plant it's so big!

I cut up enough for about two days' worth, rinse it real good and put half away in the fridge for tomorrow. I then take the salad I am going to eat, put it in a large bowl, add a few pecans and dried cranberries and toss it with cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I add fresh black pepper for a little flavor.

The fresh produce makes a perfect salad each time. I love the variety of the fresh greens.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Deep Nutrition

This is going to be the first post of several on a book I am reading. This book is revolutionary. It will change the way you look at food forever. The name of the book is Deep Nutrition.

Buy on Amazon

One page into the book and I was reading it out loud to my husband. I can't put it down.

The book talks about how we have changed our outlook on food to simply a caloric content. We no longer look at food as nutrition for our body to keep us in good health. Nutrition used to be passed from generation to generation. People knew what to eat depending on what they were taught by their parents and grandparents. We now eat based on the calories. We are simply filling a number and not worried about what our food actually contains.

The most incredible part of the book so far is based on much research and how nutrition is passed on from generation to generation. One example the book gave was that if a mother smoked while pregnant her child was 1.5 times more likely of developing asthma. If the grandmother smoked the child was 1.8 times more likely of developing asthma - even if mom never smoked! If both mom and grandma smoked then the child was 2.6 times more likely of developing asthma. Our genes have nutritional memories that are passed from generation to generation!!

The good news though is that if you are only a generation or two away from good health (meaning grandma or great grandma ate organically on a farm) then your genes can be very forgiving. They just need to be woken up with good nutrition!

In my personal life, I have seen the health of my family deteriorate from generation to generation between my grandparents and myself. My grandparents were raised on a farm so they basically ate organic. Due to the lifestyle that their parents and grandparents lived, all nutritious food, they have a wealth of nutrition and essentially epigenomes attached to their DNA. These epigenomes control when a gene is fully expressed. When the gene is expressed you will experience good health and positive attributes in your appearance. When they are suppressed, due to poor nutrition, they will not fully express themselves and it will show in the state of the body - cancers, diseases, lack of beauty, etc. When my grandparents moved to the city and raised their two kids they switched to a processed diet. My grandparents' body could handle the switch and kept them in relatively good health their entire lives due to the memory in their genes of their raising in good health and the good health of their parents and grandparents. Their kids though suffered in not as perfect health since they did not have two decades of organic living. By the time those suppressed genes reached me, I was a wreck by my teens.

I was so sick. I ate a calorie restricted diet forever and I couldn't understand why my body was pretty much shutting down. Things didn't change with my health until I switched to an organic diet and I started seeing a naturopathic doctor that treated me with vitamins and hormones. I feel better now than I have in my entire life and I know things are only going to get better as I get access to better information and more quality, nutritionally dense products.

The book goes deeper into how nutrition decides whether you are going to develop into a beautiful person. Nutrition actually changes the structure of your face and your body, even the way your teeth form!

The book also talks about how nutritionally demanding being pregnant is and how in the old days, women used to prepare to have a baby by eating a certain way before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. We also used to choose our mates based on how healthy they were and how healthy of a baby they would give us. We no longer value the nutrition of our mate and ourselves when thinking about making a baby. Unless we change the way we eat, we are going to have a generation of ugly, nutritionally defunct people. We have to understand how nutrition determines everything and we need to make wise choices.

I will post more about this book as I continue along with it. It is a complete life changer for me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Food, Inc. Documentary

I recently watched a documentary called Food, Inc. I have a lot of food related documentaries I want to watch but this is the first one in the list. This documentary is such an eye opener. It isn't anything I didn't know yet, but it is put together so perfectly. For anyone that doesn't understand what the difference is between grass fed and regular meat and why eating organically and locally produced food is important, they need to see this film.

Although we choose grass fed meat where possible, there are times the other meat slips in. I just don't know if I will be able to slip it in anymore. When you understand that the goal of eating has nothing to do with calories and has everything to do with the nutrition you put into your body so that you can live a long, healthy life, then you start to question everything you are putting in.

This doc also showed the impact the fast food industry has had on Americans. Not only has it radically changed the way food is produced through its focus on cheap food instead of quality, it has also changed the way Americans feel about cooking at home. I haven't eaten fast food since I was a 14 year old girl. Even though I choose not to put that in my body, McDonald's is dictating how almost ALL food is manufactured. And those people that are trying to go back to sustainable, ethical farming and living are investigated as criminals. We have created a nation of people afraid to cook on their own. They do not have enough time. They do not like cooking. We worry about our children's college savings funds and our retirement accounts, but not too often are we concerned about the life we are predicting for our children based on the food we put into their bodies. We need to make a nutritional investment in our children so that they can create a new generation that is healthier, not sicker.

This documentary is on Netflix. Watch it. Then tell me how you will never look at a mass produced hamburger the same way ever again. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Steel Cut Oats

This past fall we had the opportunity to stay at a hotel with a pretty fancy room service breakfast. The oatmeal listed on the menu was $9 and it said it was steel cut oats. I had never heard of such a thing before, but oatmeal that expensive is begging to be tried. The first bite was a moment of "I'm not sure if I like this." The second bite was "This is the most incredible oatmeal I have ever had!" The texture is quite different. It is like a little ball of exploding grain. Once you go steel cut oats though, the old oatmeal will never taste as good again.
The product I used. I love Red Mill products.
Bob's Red Mill Website
When I got back home I decided to try and make steel cut oats. I bought a bag of organic steel cut oats and followed the recipe on the back. I followed it exactly and the cook time was about 20 minutes. The final product was ok, but not the texture I wanted. I did some research online and found out that the perfect texture takes hours to make. So I tried making it again, following the recipe on the back of the bag initially, and then leaving it on low heat and adding water every 15 minutes or so and stirring it. I will do this for three to four hours.

Now you may be wondering, who in their right mind would make oatmeal for three hours?

That would be me.

It's really not that much work. You can make a giant pot of this stuff and then warm it up in a saucepan and a little water for the next week and it will warm up perfectly.

I then came across a recipe for steel cut oats that are made in a slow cooker. After much trial and error, I have arrived at this recipe for a lesser work version of the perfect steel cut oat.

After much trial and error, I have also realized any recipe that calls for milk does not turn out correctly in my opinion. It ends up mushing the oats and they lose their pop factor. I like milk in regular oatmeal. Steel cut oats are not meant for milk.

The Slow Cooker Recipe

1 1/2 cups organic steel cut oats
6 cups water
1/2 tsp salt - I use Celtic Sea Salt

Cook in slow cooker for 6 hours. If you are setting this and then leaving, it will do fine. But I think it does better if you give it some attention and stir every once in a while.

After it is done, sweeten it up with some organic honey or coconut sugar (I use a little of both, more on the honey end though), add some cinnamon and some high quality vanilla. Add some fresh berries if you have them.

Take the leftovers, put them in a container and store in the fridge.

To Warm Up the Next Day

Put the already cooked oatmeal in a small saucepan. Add a little water and whisk. This will break up the oats.


I think cooking them over a stove for several hours constantly stirring gives a better outcome, but if you do not want to commit to that, the slow cooker will work.

Chicken Tenders in Coconut Oil

I bought a package of cage free, organic chicken tenders. I usually buy the breasts and cut them up, but the store was out of the breasts.

I put two large heaping tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan to heat up.

I coated the tenders in a half whole wheat flour, half organic white flour mixture.

Once the oil was hot, I added the chicken to the pan. I seasoned the chicken with Celtic Sea Salt, pepper and paprika.

Once the tenders were nice and brown on one side, I flipped them over. Once they were flipped, I lightly drizzled them with little bit of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for the flavor.

This was my first time cooking in coconut oil and the chicken turned out perfect. It had a perfect crisp on each side. I will definitely be using coconut oil for frying and sautéing in the future.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Heather's Organic Colada Martini

I bought a carton of organic coconut milk and organic orange juice at Whole Foods. When I got home I decided that the two together with some fresh pineapple juice and a splash of coconut rum would make the perfect mixed drink. It turned out fabulous! My husband and kids (I made non-alcoholic ones for the kiddos) loved it!

The recipe:

Equal parts orange juice and coconut milk

I added a splash of fresh pineapple juice that my mother in law had made earlier that day with a whole pineapple

Then add coconut rum to whatever strength you want (obviously this isn't organic, but the rest is at least)

Shake it up in a martini shaker with a lot of ice and voilà!

The kids loved their non-alcoholic ones too!

Organic Coconut Sugar

My shipment of organic coconut sugar and organic blonde coconut sugar came in today!

Organic Coconut Sugar - Regular and Blonde

I have never used it before, but I have read about the benefits of using it as a sugar substitute for pretty much everything. It is supposed to be a natural product. Every time I get used to using a "more natural" product, they make available more readily an "even more natural" product.

I looked at Woodman's and saw the coconut sugar was $4.89 a bag.

I went online to Amazon and saw I could get a 6 pack of coconut sugar for $15! That's it! And they even gave me a coupon when checking out and I got it for only $13. They are the exact same size bags and it breaks down to just over $2 a bag. Now that is a good deal.

I am thrilled to start baking with it. I bought a bag of organic lemons and tomorrow I am going to make whole wheat lemon bars with my new sugar! I will post the results!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

We have all heard things here and there over the years about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. I have never used artificial sweeteners and will usually refuse something, or politely fake drink or eat it if it has artificial sweetener in it.

Years ago, whenever I went to my grandparents I was always tired and ravenously hungry there. I couldn't figure out what would cause that each time I went there. I then realized it was because I would drink a diet soda there. That was the only place I would drink a diet soda and I quickly discovered that if I didn't drink the diet soda I wouldn't be tired and crazy hungry.

So even though I didn't drink it that much, I made sure that I was not going to put it into my body anymore.

The doctor when I was little told my mom to never give me artificial sweeteners. She said people may think it is safe, but don't risk it. My mom never did give me any. When other parents were feeding their kids diet sodas, my mom never gave me that.

It seems like there are many people I know whose body is breaking down. But when you try to mention their diet soda intake, it turns insulting when it is supposed to be helping.

I am sharing a link to a documentary on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. My husband watched this about a year ago and told me I had to watch this.

If you or anyone you know is consuming artificial sweeteners, PLEASE WATCH THIS! This could be the difference in a life!

Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sobelman's Tallgrass Grill - 100% Grass Fed Beef

For anyone who has had a Sobelman's burger, they will most likely agree that they are some of the best burgers you will ever have in Milwaukee. They were on Food Wars and lost to A.J. Bombers. I have had both and I think Sobelman's is far better. Besides spectacular flavor, there is something that makes them awesome for us organics - 100% grass fed meat!!

Tallgrass Website

The location is great for a quick bite to eat. The burgers are cheap, about $6, and come with fries. They come on a Breadsmith bun which isn't organic, but they do not use any bromine or other preservatives. These burgers are delicious and give our body what it needs - natural grass fed meat. They also have free range grilled chicken sandwiches. My only complaint is that I wish they had organic French fries. I buy organic fries and they are delicious. If they are going to keep things natural, I would say they should do it with everything.

This is by far the best burger in the city and it is 100% grass fed which makes me delightfully happy.

La Merenda Review

So my husband and I have been quite excited about trying La Merenda in Milwaukee. I was giddy about the thought of a restaurant having all local ingredients with grass fed meat. We have seen the restaurant featured on Wisconsin Foodie for special events showcasing their use of local ingredients.

La Merenda Website

All the excitement and it was a complete bust.

I won't even go in depth on the service since that is irrelevant if the food was spectacular. (The service was pretty bad - staff was nice but they were so neglectful)

All the food seemed to us that is was half put together.

First off the La Merenda salad had gorgonzola cheese. I love gorgonzola, but it needs to be broken up and incorporated into the salad. There were MASSIVE balls of gorgonzola in the salad. My husband is still burping up that cheese today. The cheese to me seemed to have all funk and no flavor. Just bad.

The bread brought to our table I would equate with a Pick N Save store brand loaf. It was cold and had no flavor. My bread would be considered gourmet artisan in comparison. Apparently they need a master break maker. Or even a mediocre bread baker to improve upon the quality.

The rest of our "tapas" were less than average. The concept was great but it was poorly executed. It seemed as though there were no spices used. There was nothing that excited the tongue. The sauce pairings were off. And everything was quite expensive. I am more than happy to pay more for organic and local items, but they need to taste good.

We had empanadas, spanakopita, roasted squash ravioli, duck confit crepes and the special which was a filet on rosemary mashed potatoes. All the descriptions on the menu sounded fabulous. There was nothing that stood out as even remotely pleasing to the palate though. To top it all off, the steak was brought out with the wrong topping, and the server only offered to remake it. We said we would keep it since we wanted to go, but nothing else was done to remedy the problem.

When a food is well-crafted, there will be layers of flavor. There were no layers of flavor. Just expensive, bad tasting local food.

I also couldn't stand that I had to eat off the same tiny, dirty plate the entire meal. Not once was a clean plate brought to me. Apparently $8 for 4 ravioli does not warrant a clean plate.

Maybe it was the chef that night. Maybe it is simply the way things are done. I had spoken with another local restaurant owner a couple months ago and they asked me if we had been there. They gave us the exact same feedback as we experienced last night.

So, if you are daring enough to try it out for yourself, go ahead.

If you want an excellent, small dish restaurant, go to Juto down the road instead.

Juto Website

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Natural Toothpaste

I have read articles about the hazards of all the chemicals in our toothpaste. I obsessively rinse my mouth out after brushing my teeth, but considering I brush my teeth three or more times a day sometimes, I have to be getting a good dose of the bad stuff. I also love having white teeth. I whitened my teeth back in high school and with the right toothpaste I have been able to keep them pretty white, even with all my coffee drinking.

I decided to pick up a more natural toothpaste. I have no idea how it may compare to some other all natural varieties, but this is the best my local store offered.

The brand I bought was Tom's of Maine.

Tom's of Maine Website
I guess my skepticism in the product came from the packaging. When I flipped the product over, I hoped it would tell me about how wonderfully natural this product was. Instead it talked about how wonderfully they treat their employees. Of course I'm not opposed to this, I just hoped to gather more information from the packaging.

I have bought the strawberry toothpaste for the kids and my children love it. It is their preferred brand.

Tom's Children's Toothpaste
As far as the adult toothpaste goes, there is a definite difference. I think after being programmed for so long to like a certain texture in toothpaste, it can be hard to switch. It feels a little sloppier too. I got a giant glob in my hair and on the counter while brushing and I have never had this happen before. It seems like it slops around more than froth up which I prefer.

Toothpaste I bought

In the end, if the goal is to get my mouth clean, it worked. It will take some getting used to, but I think it should do the job. I just hope it will keep my teeth as white. If not, I will add back in my whitening toothpaste for occasional use.

Update 1/13/12 - I have gotten quite used to the product and now I actually prefer it over my old toothpaste. Things take time to adjust to, and this was just one of those things.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My New Favorite Chip - Terra Mediterranean Chips

I was at Whole Foods the other day and had a sample of some chips they had laying out. It always concerns me trying something out of a community pot at a store due to winter germs, but I braved it and tried a chip anyway. These little things are quite delicious. I don't eat chips unless I'm at a summer barbecue. I don't like packing the kids chips in their lunches either, but they always ask for them. This will be our replacement.

They are a blend of sweet potato, parsnip, batata, taro, yuca chips.  I tried a couple different ones but the Mediterranean seasoning was the best one. This is now our chip replacer for sandwiches and lunches.

New Organic Market Open in West Bend

There is a new organic, natural foods market open in West Bend. They locally source their products whenever possible. They are located at 152 N. Main St, West Bend.

Settlers Park Market Facebook Page

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Organic Artisan Cheesemaker Comes to Milwaukee

An organic, artisan cheese shop called Clock Shadow Creamery is set to open near Allen Bradley in the historic Walker's Point area in March of this year. They plan on having a viewing area and demonstrations as well as cheese apprenticeship programs.

News Article on Clock Shadow Creamery

Feature in Entrepreneur Magazine on Clock Shadow Creamery

Clock Shadow Creamery Facebook Page