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My family and I are trying to go gluten-free for a while. Gluten an dairy have been linked to allergies and immune weakness by multiple nutritionists, so our new diet would probably do us a lot of good. The problem is,  gluten hides in many things we like, like our morning oatmeal, for example. So, here’s what I came up with:

 

Quinoa With Raisins

1 cup cooked quinoa

3 tbsp. unrefined extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

1/4 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, r dried apricots)

optional: 1/4 cup almonds or walnuts or 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes or 1 tsp. of  cinnamon and 1 tsp of agave syrup.

Mix the quinoa with the oil and the salt, put raisins on top.

 

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Buckwheat flour is widely available, but since I always have some cooked grains lying around, I came up with this breakfast recipe. Feel free to add blueberries, if you wish.

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Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup cooked buckwheat

1 egg

1 grated apple

1 banana

Mix everything together and fry on a lightly oiled skillet.

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Scrambled Eggs With Onions, Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Kale

1/2 onion, chopped

2 leaves of kale, cut into strips. Stalks separated and thrown out

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms

4 tbsp. olive oil

salt to taste

1/4 cup parsley, diced

Tobasco sauce to taste

4 eggs

Put the kale into a frying pan, add 1/2 cup of water, cover  and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes, until the kale is soft. Open the lid, add the onion and the olive oil and saute for about 2 minutes. add the mushrooms and sautee for another 2 minutes. Add the tomato and possibly, more olive oil. Add the parsley and sautee for about another minute. Add the tobasco. mix well. Add the eggs and cook for another minute or two, making a scramble.

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We also love eggs over buckwheat with onions: hearty and delicious.

 

Do you have any gluten-free breakfast recipes?

A friend asked me for some quick an easy recipes for a family of three, which includes an 8-month old baby. I realized that I could post every puree recipe on the face of the Earth,or I could simply share my views on feeding babies and children. 


In this country, babies and children are sometimes viewed as creatures from another world, when it comes to nutrition. They usually get “special” food. Almost any otherwise health-conscious restaurant has the worst crap on their menu, listed under “kids” section. So, you can enjoy some grilled sea bass with roasted root vegetables, while your kid is chewing on his chicken nuggets and drinking some purple soda, which doesn’t exist in nature. Why do we deprive our next generation of quality food, when they are the ones that are still  growing and needing more nutrients than we do?

“But  my kids won’t eat anything healthy,” – I must have heard this phrase a thousand times. If you leave your kids to make their own choices in life before they are ready to do so intelligently, not only they will have a chocolate bar for every meal, they will probably not study and do all kinds of other unhealthy things. We are responsible for our children’s choices and that includes the choice of what they put in their mouths. Yes, they do need some degree of freedom, but they also need boundaries. When it comes to food, healthy boundaries for children sound like: ” Would you like your carrots in a salad or would you prefer roasted carrots for dinner?” They do not include “carrots, like everyone else” or “chicken nuggets just for you.”

Back in the day,  meals used to be family time.  Everyone ate the same thing, lovingly prepared by a family member. Nobody made anything special for children, unless it was their birthday. Today, we have commercially prepared baby purees, frozen dinners, and teenagers, getting  take out and eating it in their room in front of their TV for dinner.

Food is nourishment, but it’s also a ritual of love and union. When my family gathers for a meal every night, it is very special: we share stories about our day’s happenings and we all eat the same food. I believe one of the first ways to teach your child healthy eating habits is to start with a similar ritual. Healthy food is food you share with others. Healthy food is food prepared at home with love.

And, back to the subject of what to feed your 8-month old baby, take some of that healthy food, prepared with love and mash it up with fork or in the food processor. There is always a vegetable or a grain you can feed your baby, if you eat grains and veggies yourselves. Trying to give your baby a kale puree can become the story you later tell your grandchildren ( I know, we do.) Leaving some squash for the baby before the squash goes into the dinner casserole makes your baby part of the family from his or her first bites of solid food a lot more than a jar of baby food ever would.

Oh, and do breastfeed. And eat a balanced diet while you do so. The baby will get introduced to all kinds of flavors through your breast milk, so these flavors better be of something other than Diet Coke and potato chips. This early introduction to family foods would prove very beneficial later at the family table, with Junior wearing a bib and proudly inhaling an avocado.

Recently I read this piece about sunscreen safety.  Apparently, typical sunscreens we cover ourselves and our kids with contain one more of these potential dangerous chemicals:

Dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. Other chemicals on this list have been connected to things like  cancer and hormonal imbalance.

I have been using Kiss My Face Sunscreeen for a few years. I love how light this cream is and how easily it absorbs into the skin, without leaving a typical white residue. I also like how it gives me and my family great sun protection without the dangerous chemicals. It is available in a spray bottle, as a cream or even as a sunblock stick.

What else can be done to protect the skin agains harmful UV-rays?

Nutrition helps, like it does with everything else.

Antioxidant-rich foods have been linked to good sun-protection of the skin. As pesticide residue can deplete the body’s antioxidant supplies,  it’s always better to choose certified organic foods.

1. Green tea’s  epigallocatechins directly block DNA damage from UV light, which has been demonstrated in studies involving human skin cells.

2. Moderate amounts of sunlight are helpful, as they provide us with vitamin D. A good buildup of this vitamin is essential, if you’d like to avoid sunburn. Dr. Mercola recommends staying in the sun until the skin turns light pink (for Caucasian skin.)

3. Phytonutrients lycopene in tomatoes and phenols in olive oil have been linked to better sun protection by a German study.

 Vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium all are good antioxidants that protect the skin against sun damage.

4. For vitamin C, try kiwis, oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, papaya,  and strawberries.

5. For vitamin E, try  sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, egg yolks and dark green leafy vegetables.

6. For selenium, try  mushrooms and fish.  Buying wild-caught fish is better,  because pesticide and antibiotic residues in farmed fish deplete the body’s antioxidant supplies.

7. Limonene and ellagic acid are other sun-protective nutrients. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes,  are rich in limonene and berries, such as blueberries and rasberries are rich in ellagic acid.

Blackstrap molasses is the dark liquid byproduct of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar.

Blackstrap molasses is made from the third boiling of the sugar syrup.  It is the concentrated byproduct left over after the sugar’s sucrose has been crystallized.  Blackstrap molasses is very high in many important minerals, such as iron, cooper, manganese, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It also contains vitamin B 6. Just 2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses provides 13.3% of the daily recommended value for iron and 11.8% of the daily value for calcium.

I use blackstrap molasses in baking, as it makes a nice substitute for sugar. I add it to roasted vegetables. When I eat yogurt (which is not often,) I add a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses to it. I like to give a teaspoon to my kid, when he is craving something sweet.  Sometimes, I put it on a piece of toast for him, which makes a pretty good breakfast. A teaspoon of blackstrap molasses also works, when mixed in with a bowl of oatmeal. I used to take two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses a day when I was pregnant.

Look for  unsulphured, preferably organic,  blackstrap molasses, because it has a cleaner taste and is free of the chemical that many are sensitive to.

“All of this healthy food tastes like crap,”  – I hear this statement  everyday from my well-meaning, refined food-loving friends. Non-vegetarians say that vegetables have no taste and those who love sweets, claim that fruits are not sweet enough for them. Since most of us are trying to be healthier and eat healthier foods, I want to address this common issue of health versus taste. After thinking about the problem, I came up with four solutions.

   Four ways to make healthy foods taste good:

1. Do not make your healthy foods bland.

Grains, beans and vegetables can be prepared in a multitude of ways. There is way more to vegetarianism than a lonely skinny girl munching on a celery stick, while all of her friends are enjoying a lovely meal of steak and potatoes. To make simple, unrefined foods taste good, experiment with textures and spices. The same vegetable can taste completely different with curry than it does with garlic and basil. Sprinkling nuts or seeds on top of a baked sweet potato, not only adds protein, it also adds crunch.  Having sweet, sour, bitter and spicy flavors all on the same plate tastes unbelievable! Roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale with lemon juice on top and baked spicy tofu is an example of such plate, if you have no idea what  am I talking about. There is a lot more to vegetables, than a salad and there is a lot more salads, than chopped up cucumbers and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce. See my blog for recipe ideas or come up with your own.

2. Bland today doesn’t mean “always bland.”

If you are used to processed artificial junk food, natural foods probably do seem somewhat tasteless to you. The flavors of fried meats and candy bars are simply a lot more intense than any veggie casserole on the planet. If you repeatedly bombard your taste buds with refined, concentrated flavors, they simply would not be able to detect the more subtle tastes of healthier foods.

This is a very common problem,but it has a solution.  You can retrain your taste buds, as they are accustomed to like what you feed them. Back when I used to do nutritional counseling, I would ask my clients who claimed they hated vegetables and every other healthy foods, to refrain form consuming processed junk for two weeks. Since the flavor of meat is very aggressive for the taste buds, it’s better to eat a palm-sized portion of simply prepared meat with no rich sauces no more than three times a week. Do not eat dairy, aside from the occasional yogurt, if you really have to have dairy. To summarize, for two weeks, do not eat anything that comes in a box and cut down your meat and dairy intake. Then see how much better you are able to detect the flavors of the grains, the legumes and the vegetables.

Our taste buds are under constant attack of sugar and refined foods. If you have pop tarts or a bowl of sugary cereal in the morning, you will hardly be able to taste any healthier dishes that come for lunch. The same is true for the kids, by the way. Do not give your kids artificial processed junk foods, heavy meats and dairy and you’d be amazed to see their new love for vegetables. I will write more about this next week.

3. Get your blender out

To get yourself and your family accustomed to simpler and more natural flavors, try smoothies. While the fruity classics are great, try adding some kale to your typical strawberry-banana combo. Or, toss in some spinach and parsley or a bit of celery. Perhaps, a  piece of squash to go with your mango shake? Be creative in getting those health foods into your system.

4. Eat more healthy foods

Whether by blending and juicing or by eating natural foods, the more of them you consume, the more of them you will want to consume. Healthy foods make us feel better immediately, as the body responds with renewed energy, better appearance and better mood. Anybody would like to retain this feeling, so you keep reaching for healthier foods.

If you really want to make yourself and your family healthier, there is really no way around eating more natural, unprocessed foods and less milk, meat and refined artificial junk; and it’s better to start sooner than later. As my husband puts it: “It’s not important what we don’t eat, it’s more important what we choose to eat.” You won’t notice the absence of rice crispies and Fruit loops if you are eating enough berries and pears. You won’t miss heavy meats with sauces if you are nutritionally balanced from eating grains, legumes and vegetables with perhaps, some lighter animal protein. Most importantly, you will feel great and love the taste of simple, natural foods.

Please, let me know if you have any other ideas of how to make healthy foods taste good.

Pregnant women are routinely told to take prenatal vitamins, and breastfeeeding mothers are advised to take a multi-vitamin. I have never done either one of those things. Artificial vitamins, which are included in most prenatal and “multi” mixes usually simply go through your body, unabsorbed. Certain nutrients prevent the absorption of other nutrients, if taken together: this alone defeats the purpose of “one miracle pill.” Considering the fact that most vitamins are synthetic, why would you want this stuff in your body, anyway?

Through my extensive research on the subject of vitamins and supplements, I have determined that the only way to stay healthy is through eating the right foods. What we and our babies need to thrive are real nutrients, not artificially-made vitamins.  Pregnancy and breastfeeding take a lot of energy and nutrients from the woman’s body. During those times, some supplementation (even if your nutrition  is superb) may be a good idea. Plus, we all heard of the pregnancy ” must haves, ” such as folic acid, calcium and iron. Believe it or not, those things are found in actual foods and food supplements in perfectly absorb able  harmonious form, not just in an artificial pill!

I’ve been taking the same supplements through both of my pregnancies. All three of my babies were big, healthy and born on time. Yes, this includes my twins, 7 lbs and 8.4 lbs at birth; safely delivered at home at 39th week of pregnancy.  I never had a milk supply issue and now am happily nursing two chunky babies.  I nursed my first baby until I got pregnant again and he was 19 months old. Here’s a list of supplements I’ve been taking during both of my pregnancies and breastfeeding:

Spirulina – is a wonderful vegetarian source of proteins.  It delivers the highest amount of protein of any natural food.  Spirulina contains 65%, compared with 15-25% in meat and animal foods. Growing babies need protein… It also has vitamin B-12, iron, essential trace minerals and B-complex vitamins. If I was only allowed to take one supplement, spirulina would be it.

Chlorella– is a source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. Chlorella contains more chlorophyll than most plants, along with an impressive array of vitamins and minerals (A, D, E, K1, beta carotene, lutein, B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc). Is responsible for “flushing out “toxins from the body. Chlorella contains more nucleic acids (RNA/DNA) than any other food. It is a great supplement for  digestive health, immune function, inflammation reduction, antioxidant function, estrogen balance, cholesterol metabolism, and circulation. A Japanese study with healthy pregnant women found that taking 6,000 mg of chlorella per day during pregnancy significantly reduced the amount of dioxins in breast milk compared to controls (a 40% reduction). Additionally, the study also showed a higher amount of  antibodies in breast milk of women taking chlorella.

Bee Polen – is a highly bioactive source of multi-vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, phytosterols, amino aicids 9yes, proteins, again,) enzymes and more. Soem people are allergic to bee pollen, so start very slowly, taking a few granules at a time.

Probiotics– I like this brand, as it has a large amount of disease-fighting bacteria (before buying probiotics, always check, how much bacteria it actually has. ) Probiotics have been proven to maintain a good intestinal flora and to increase immunity. Knowing how easy it is to catch a cold while pregnant, it’s a good idea to take them.

Flaxseed Oil– make sure the brand you take has unrefined and cold-pressed flaxseed oil. Otherwise, the essential fatty acids in it could get destroyed. Buy Flaxseed oil in a dark bottle only, as light exposure destroys the fatty acids in oil. Flaxseed oil is a natural source of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, an essential fatty acid. Your body has the capacity to convert ALA into two other essential fatty acids your and your growing baby’s body needs: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

If you’d like to take fish oil in addition to or instead of flaxseed, it may be a good idea, as long as the oil is made of small, mercury-free fish. I just can’t digest the fish oil… If you don’t want to take the flaxseed oil in a capsule form, you can buy it as an oil to put on your salad.

Greens Plus – a wonderful mixture of healthy food extracts. It contains everything from Alfalfa to Red Beet Juice powder, supplying your body with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino-acids. I take half the recommended dosage, as my diet is already very good and rich in vegetables and I don’t want the dosage of Ginko Biloba the full dose would provide.

 

 

 

I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever:  I have a 2.5 year old and four month old twins. I stayed active during both of my pregnancies and had big and healthy full-term babies (yes, the twins too. )

The following reading list helped me to have healthy pregnancies:

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Active Birth by Janet Balaskas

Birthing from Within by England & Horowitz

Every Woman’s Guide to Eating During Pregnancy by Shulman & Davis

Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm

A good Birth, A Safe Birth: Choosing and Having the childbirth Experience You Want by Diana Korte

Birth Without Violence by Denoy Leboyer

I also recommend my own DVD, YogaPulse: Pregnant, Fit and Tight.  I made it while nine months pregnant with my son. It has wonderful pregnancy-safe moves for strength and flexibility, as well as breathing exercises and relaxation tips.

 

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