this pod’s 4 u :)

cardamom

In focusing on spices for health and wellness, I would be remiss not to mention cardamom. This uniquely flavoured and delicate native spice from India and Nepal is growing more and more in popularity, (in fact, Starbucks has introduced a lovely Cardamom Latte this fall that’s already a ‘fave’ of mine). If you aren’t familiar with this unassuming ‘pod’ its worth looking into.

Available in pods or as a crushed spice, I like adding a pod or two to a cup of steaming black tea. Some people find cardamom minty in flavour, I find it slightly smoky and earthy, a cross between mint and vanilla. Dig around to discover and learn more about cardamom’s goodness. Used in traditional medicine for many years, this spice has valuable antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory benefits, (which is more than enough to make me want to keep it in my spice shelf!) Use and experiment with cardamom for both savoury or dessert preparations, and visit Healthline’s list of cardamom benefits or additional highlights at Organic Facts.net.

AllRecipes.com  has a marvellous line-up of cardamom-featuring recipes to try,  including two  I absolutely love – Chicken Korma (or for a delightful black tea or coffee  ‘dunking’ treat), Cardamom and Espresso Chocolate Cookies.

Image: epicurean.com

 

 

 

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You say, tom-ay-to…

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I say ‘tomat-oh’…
No matter, because any way you say it, autumn’s ‘the’ season for red and bright coloured foods, and for me nothing adds zest and comfort to life and this time of year quite like the inestimable tomato.

I’ve heard of late that certain ‘wellness gurus’ claim tomatoes are no longer a ‘good’ or even a healthy food. We’ve heard this about all kinds of things, so I  won’t even ‘go there’.  Instead, I will say that I love the health benefits and low calorie rich fibre benefits of tomatoes. My favorites are vine-ripened, (garden/organic) and bright-tasting bite-size romas, cherry tomatoes, etc.  I like to make homemade tomato soup this time of year, and I will continue to judge the goodness of tomatoes not by the latest ‘good for you, bad for you’ reports out there, but by how much this amazing fruit that dresses up as a vegetable continues to pack a load of lycopene, (an important antioxidant) and other positive benefits. Discover 11 good things about tomatoes at organicfacts.net  and if you have a favorite tomato soup recipe, let me know. Here’s one I love from AllRecipes.com

Keep loving good eats!

Image: feelgrafix.com

Ah–hhh, black tea

black tea

No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’, stress is tough on our bodies. Whether it’s work/life-related, environmental or otherwise,  stress can do a number on our immune systems.  Even if you’re careful to hydrate, eat healthy, supplement with quality nutritionals, and make a regular effort to exercise and get a good night’s sleep,  life can sometimes flip into overdrive (even with ‘good stress’) causing immune system ‘overload’ and making you more vulnerable to viruses, flus and colds.  To get a jump start on stress while doing all the great things you do to stay healthy, try taking advantage of the health benefits of black tea.  Ahhh—hh, black tea.

One of my favorites is ‘Paris’ blend by Harney & Sons — (crazy about the hint of caramel, black currant and vanilla). To brew a perfect cup, bring water to the boil, fill your tea mug or teapot with hot water to insulate warm it up, then pour out the hot water, and fill again with ‘to the boil’ (never boiling) water, and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. I tend to use tea bags for convenience, but  infused loose tea is always amazing (try one of David’s Teas fun & creative infusers). Infusing brings out tea’s finer notes. Enjoy black or with a non-dairy creamer. I find a cup of black tea easily takes the chill out of cool weather while adding a healthy boost for your immune system (check out 25 impressive healthy benefits of black tea at OrganicFacts.net). If caffeine’s a concern — look for decaf varieties. Love life , love tea.

Image: Rivertea.com

go, go, GO…

gogo-quinoawelcome to foodie wellnessAs a lover of all food, I often adapt recipes to include a ton of veggies, pulses, legumes and super grains in my meal plans. A highly-energizing super-grain dish to prepare in under 30 minutes is falafel (croquettes) using organic quinoa and amaranth flours. Btw — these falafel store great in the refrigerator for 2-3 days & may freeze well too (but I have yet to keep them on hand to find out).

To prepare from scratch, select finely-ground organic quinoa and amaranth flours, (3 parts to one) and add turmeric, garlic powder, garlic scape/sea salt blend, and other seasonings to taste. For convenience, I prefer using an excellent ‘on the go’ ready-blend — ‘Go Go Quinoa Burger Mix’.  (available in both US and Canada). Go-Go’s a fair trade company with super grains directly sourced from Bolivia. Their website features incredible recipes, including desserts and monthly features like a Mediterranean Falafel Bowl.  To prepare from mix, follow package directions, adding warm water. Flour should be just moist enough to easily form golf-ball-sized falafel. Fry for 3-5 minutes in a ceramic non-stick pan (I never deep-fry), using 3 – 5 TBSP coconut or olive oil. Turn and remove from heat when golden brown. Before falafel are done try some spice and sizzle by adding a dash of coconut aminos (instead of soy sauce), green chili Tabasco and red chili paste. And…you’re ready to… go, go, GO. Keep loving & enjoying great food.

image (GoGoQuinoa.com)

 

 

Morphs & Macros

‘Morphs’ in this post refers to ‘body types’ (not shape-shifting). However if you happen to get through this and end up shifting unwanted inches (in an oh so healthy positive way!) in the new year, good for you. ‘Macros‘ in this post isn’t about close-up selfies, it’s about ‘macronutrients’. You know the old phrase: you are what you eat. Knowing your body type has a role in helping you to eat and exercise best to stay fit, lean and healthy. Of the three basic body types, ectomorph, endomorph,  or mesomorph, knowing your ‘type’ and adjusting to the right ratio of macronutrients in your daily diet to achieve wellness goals is a great way to start out the new year.  You may be a combination body type, so I recommend researching thoroughly and checking out wellness sites like: muscleandstrength.com or innerbody.com  Macronutrients are essential for healthy skin, bones, tissues and organs, and include a balance of fats, proteins and carbs daily. Supplementing with high quality vitamins is also of benefit. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, varying options will apply. See Dr. Axe’s ‘Food is Medicine’ website to to understand why we need macronutrients and how to make the most of them.  Hot tip to the wisemake a plan, stick with it, and above all else — enjoy life, healthy eating and exercise, and have fun.

 

image: pinterest.com

Going Green

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To maintain a steady flow of antioxidants and to help off-load oxidative stress, plants rich in ‘greenness’ and chlorophyll are a good way to go. Brighten up a breakfast smoothie by choosing a protein powder that includes ‘greens’ (I enjoy ‘Vega’ and Vega One’ products), or simply add a scoop of greens like Greens + to your favourite protein powder. Alternatively, build a totally green smoothie from scratch (Vega shares some great recipes). For lunch and dinner, include healthy greens by serving a hefty mixed greens salad with raw green seeds (pumpkin), add rapini or spinach, cilantro, arugula to a stir-fry, or invent a healthy green pesto served over a veggie pasta. Don’t overcook greens with hot meals,  (steam or stir fry lightly). Go ‘raw’ whenever possible for optimum benefits. Seaweed wafers or nori can add zip to your greens intake (choose a low salt variety seaweed cracker) and don’t overdo it. Less is more. Granny Smith apples are an excellent green fruit choice. Supplement your greens intake with high quality antioxidants as an extra bonus to healthy living. Go green and always love what you eat!

Image: thewallpaper.co

It Takes Time…

 

hey, whatever happened to that old time virtue called ‘patience’?  It seems to be a rare, outdated commodity.  I was thinking ‘patience’ as I’ve been working on building a new fitness/healthier living regimen recently. Things seemed to be going way too slow. We happen to live in an era where life often feels ‘driven’ by a ‘need’ to get what we want now. Problem is that can add to stress levels and quickly sabotage success or progress. For example, you may not have been active for some time, and end up ‘overdoing’ at the gym, leading to injury.  Wellness note to ‘self’: worthwhile achievement — takes time.  Do yourself a favour and dump the treadmill mentality.  Ease up by being kinder to yourself. If you’re getting into a new regimen, start slow. Three days a week at the gym, and alternating with fresh air walks and cardio and resistance training is great. Up your schedule to 5 days a week as your fitness improves and it feels right. Invest in massage therapy or deep breathing routines with a Pilates or yoga class. Please don’t make fitness or wellness a competition — be in this for you, and always work healthy and happy at your own pace. Find your rhythm. Work out in a way that really works for you. (Example: I like having 15 minutes massage before cardio/stretching, and 15 minutes after. My body thanks me for it) Enjoy life and each day...one minute at a time…

Image: pexels.com