Friday, January 31, 2014

Butternut Squash with Moroccan Spices


Butternut squash is available in supermarkets year round, making it a great vegetable to eat during any season.
Healthy food means healthy bodies..And butternut squash is a super food that is easy to make and plentiful.  I like to buy these hearty squashes at Trader Joes, where a good size squash is usually only $1.99 each. (Great deal).

This recipe is simple. All you will need to do is peel and cut up a butternut squash, slice an onion in half moons, roast them on a cookie sheet and then add the fragrant middle eastern spices.

Morocco is known for its spices, and I've chosen three spices whose flavors mingle beautifully. Cumin, cinnamon, and a little hot cayenne pepper make this a dish that is warming and delicious .

 This real food side dish is rich in both nutrients and flavor and free of GMOs .i just read an article that claimed that nearly 70 per cent of packaged foods contain GMOS (very scary since GMOS can cause real significant health concerns) Real unprocessed food is the best way to feed yourself and your family. Butternut squashes can be purchased at least 2 weeks in advance and stored until you are ready to use it.

The Spices in the recipe are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that are so needed to boost the immune system during the cold and flu season. So there you have it--- spices add flavor to the recipe AND are natural immune boosters ! Good deal! Did I mention that butternut is high in beta carotene which is very good for your eyes , You can feel good serving and eating this delicious dish.

Recipe Ingredients
One medium butternut squash , peeled, chopped or sliced ( use a sharp peeler)
One medium onion, sliced in half moons
1/8 cup of olive oil or olive oil spray
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2.teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Place prepared squash and sliced onions in a large ziplock bag. Add the olive oil and shake until vegetables are well coated . Then place the vegetables on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet to
roast for about 25 minutes or until veggies are soft . Remove the veggies from oven , toss the veggies with the spices and enjoy this vegan and gluten free, healthy, and satisfying side dish .

I recently saw a great article called 5 Winter Superfoods on Natural Mothers Network and Butternut squash is one of them.

Will be shared on a few of the following blog carnivals  : blog carnivals

roast the cup up squash and onions on a parchment covered cookie sheet

make sure your peeler is sharp and the peeling will be a 1-2-3 cinch

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sweet Potatoes in Orange Sauce

                                    cooked sweet potatoes in a bowl

It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving to make a delicious sweet potato recipe. Fresh sweet potatoes are really simple to make. A perfect side for just about about any meal, these nutrient dense powerhouses are loved by everyone .

High in fiber, low in fat and sugars, and full of immune building antioxidants , sweet potatoes are a perfect choice to please all kinds of eaters : gluten free, vegetarians, vegans, carnivores.

If you are trying to eat healthier, but are short time, add sweet potatoes to your weekly menus . They are relatively inexpensive, and can be kept for two weeks before using them. Athletic trainers recommend them for excellent energy while keeping calories down. Keep them on hand, so they are available whenever you want the benefits of real food but are in a hurry.

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The easiest way to prepare this vegetable is to simply wash it, pierce it with a fork a few times and bake in a preheated oven on 400 degrees for about 35 - 45 minutes depending on the size. or if you microwave - about 4 minutes ) .

When done baking, slice down the middle and Add some creamy butter and a little cinnamon or just eat plain. It's delicious, nutritious, and satisfying.

I also like to peel and bake sliced sweets in a casserole dish with an orange juice sauce. It's also easy and delicious.

Fast and Easy Casserole Ingredients

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 large apple of any variety, peeled and sliced
1 cup orange juice
Optional: 10 pitted prunes cut in half
6 shakes of cinnamon

Place sliced sweet potato and top with sliced apple into a casserole dish
Pour the orange juice over the slices, sprinkle with cinnamon
Add prunes if desired( I made these optional because you may not have any on hand and it takes good with or without prunes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and then bake the casserole for about 40 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft. Stir and baste with the orange juice from the bottom. Serve hot or room temperature.

3 uncooked sweet potatoes on the counter

sweet potato chunks in a bowl

This recipe may be shared on a few of the following blog carnivals: BLOG CARNIVALS

Russian salad at a salad bar
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Russian Herb and Cheese Salad


Russian style cheese salad

This simple and flavorful Russian fresh herb and soft cheese salad is easy to make and a delight to eat. Boasting typical Russian favored ingredients, my colorful salad takes only about 4 minutes to prepare. Eat it as lunch with a few gluten free crackers or with  a bowl of soup if you want something more filling.

My salad was inspired by a recent visit to a Russian Deli . They make a huge variety of delicious homemade salads for their lunch fare daily.( I visited one in a city setting)  Each salad is made with fresh vegetables , fresh herbs , and spices. I was especially attracted to the salads made with tons of fresh dill. I saw one I wanted to try to make, so I tried to copy it. Of course it meets vegetarian and gluten free standards.
tomato and scallion on salad bar

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Although I have never really thought much about it, my roots are actually from Russian descent. Both sets of my grandparents immigrated to the U. S. from Russia in the late 1800's . ( I only knew my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother). My parents were both born in the US and didn't try to preserve the recipes from the old country . However, I do remember my grandmother ( who lived to 107 years )  making homemade beet borscht ( a common Russian soup)

This was my first visit to a Russian Deli. It was fun hearing everyone speaking Russian and exploring the unusual ( to me) foods and salads. 
I loved this salad.  If you try it , I hope you enjoy it too

Russian Deli's sell a variety of farmer cheeses and homemade pot cheeses. I bought a container of homemade farmer cheese for my salad, but I could have just as easily bought pot cheese or even cottage cheese for this recipe.


1 cup farmer cheese, pot cheese, or cottage cheese
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup of freshly chopped dill
1/4 cup freshly chopped green scallions
Optional : 2 teaspoons freshly chopped curly parsley
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Drizzle with olive oil if desired ( I did not)


Chop the fresh herbs and cut the cherry tomatoes
In a medium bowl, toss
Add the cheese, salt and pepper
Drizzle with olive oil if desired

may be shared on a few of the following blog carnivals : 


Friday, January 10, 2014

Vegan Roasted Stuffed Peppers

                               vegan roasted stuffed peppers

If you love roasted vegetables ( and who doesn't) , you'll love these delicious roasted stuffed peppers! Roasting brings out the richest sweetest flavor of all vegetables and these whole red and yellow bell peppers are no exception Filled with a tasty vegan  mushroom quinoa stuffing, these gluten free beauties make a beautiful presentation. Quinoa is high in protein, so you can eat it as an entree. For a little extra crunch, top with some sunflower seeds!

I find that once I have the oven on for roasting, I might as well roast a few different items. I roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cherry tomatoes with it.

If you are an experienced chopper, you can make this recipe with relative ease.

4 medium bell peppers any color but red , yellow, or orange are most appealing,
Slice off tops of peppers, clean out pepper and coat in olive oil or olive oil spray. Place pepper and its top on cookie sheet ( cover with parchment paper)  to roast until almost soft. ( I also roasted Brussels Sprouts, garlic and cherry tomatoes at the time)

Ingredients for stuffing: 
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, pressed( or see what I used below) 
1/4 cup of fresh basil , chopped ( or see what I used below)
1 cup of fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup of diced yellow or red pepper
olive oil spray plus 1 teaspoon of  olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds ( optional) 

Directions to make stuffing
Using a skillet or dutch oven, sautee onions, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and basil in 1 tsp olive oil and spray the pan with extra spray. When onions begin to carmelize add diced pepper and continue to saute. When done set aside and then combine with the cooked quinoa and set aside.

Once peppers are roasted, fill each pepper with stuffing to the top. Cover with its own lid . Serve immediately or place in Pyrex container for later. 

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You can purchase these in Trader Joe for $1.99 each in the frozen isle .. They are so clever. 

                   The back of the package looks like little ice cubes made of either pressed garlic
                                   or chopped just pop one frozen cube out and saute.
                             Makes it so easy.. 

may be shared on a few of the following weekly  blog carnivals

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

12 Reasons to Eat Bananas

Twelve Convincing Reasons to Eat Bananas

Bananas are a simple fruit that are always abundant, always available and are reasonably priced.
 In addition, they are sweet, taste great, and transport easily. 
They make a great snack and add a boost to many recipes.
They are healthier than you think
Perhaps a banana a day will keep the doctor away!

1. Bananas provide an instant energy boost, along with B vitamins, minerals and fiber
When you need to boost your energy, grab a banana. What could be easier?  They do not require refrigeration, they are easy to digest and are always in season. Athletes know this secret and depend on the nutrients in bananas to fuel their bodies for strenuous exercise. Two bananas can provide enough energy to sustain a 90 minute workout. Their B vitamin content helps nourish the nervous system, their mineral content aids muscles, and their high fiber helps lower cholesterol and is a factor in healthy elimination. So, next time you need a quick energy boost, forget the granola bar and grab one of nature's snacks, a health giving satisfying banana.

2. Bananas can help relieve stress:
Bananas contain a substantial amount of potassium, a vital mineral that helps regulate heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain, and normalizes the body's water balance. When we are stressed, the metabolic rate automatically increases and this in turn lowers the body's potassium levels. Bananas are rich in potassium and can help restore the body's potassium levels.

3. Feeling Sad or Depressed? 
Bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin . Higher serotonin levels in the brain can help you relax, improve your mood and make your feel happier. Eating a banana can help raise your levels. So, when you are feeling blue, try a banana before you delve into the junk food. The nutritious low calorie banana may be just what you need to help lift your serotonin levels and thus your spirits.

4. Battling High Blood Pressure?
 Bananas are high in potassium but low in salt, making them ideal for helping to lower blood pressure. The US Food and Drug Administration allows the banana industry to endorse bananas as a food that can help lower the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. This nutritious fruit is a power food when it comes to good health.

5. Problems with Constipation ?
Before resorting to a laxative, first try eating two large bananas. The bulk of the two may help restore bowel function. Better yet, to avoid constipation, try make eating bananas part of your daily routine. Their high fiber content may help keep you regulated.

6 Experiencing Heartburn?
The natural anti-acid type properties in a banana may help relieve your heartburn. Why suffer? Try a banana for natural relief.

7. Want to avoid Morning sickness?
Bananas have long been known for their soothing effects on eliminating morning sickness. Eating bananas between meals, helps keep the blood sugar up and thus may lower the incidence of morning sickness.

8. Have a Hangover?
Make a banana smoothie using bananas, milk, and honey . This smoothie helps coat the stomach, re-hydrate the body, and balance blood sugar levels. Many say it works quickly and gives great relief.

9Got Ulcers?
Bananas are the only raw fruit that can usually be eaten without distress for those with severe cases. Its soft texture and smoothness makes it an ideal food for intestinal disorders. It is excellent for coating the lining of the stomach which helps reduce irritation and neutralizes acidity.

10.Looking for a natural way to get rid of Warts?
The relief is in the peel. Many people say that by wrapping the inside of the banana peel over the wart and securing it in place with tape, they are able to get rid of the wart. Use bananas that are somewhat green. The active healing compounds diminish as the banana ripens. Soak the wart  in warm water allowing the wart to soften. Rough the wart with an Emory board so it is better exposed to the banana peel. Cover  the wart with the inside of fresh peel and secure in place with a large bandage. Those who have used it say it takes at least 3-5 treatments but within 2 weeks their wart disappeared. ( Of course check with your doctor before trying this)

11. Want to sooth Mosquito Bites?
Again the inside of the peel is to the rescue. Rub mosquito bites with the inside of the peel to help reduce swelling and irritation.

12. Troubled by Anemia ?
Bananas also contain significant amount of iron. Iron stimulates the production of hemoglobin in the blood  which may help in the case of anemia.

13. Looking for a tasty treat?
Try dark chocolate dipped frozen bananas.

Peel bananas and insert a Popsicle stick in one end to halfway through banana. Freeze on cookie sheet until frozen ( about 8 hours) . Remove from freezer and dip banana in melted dark chocolate chips.


You have heard the old saying, " An apple a day keeps the doctor away" but by now you may begin to feel that way about bananas. 

You have always known that bananas are good for you, but did you know how much they have to offer? 

Bananas have many qualities that are thought to contribute to optimal health. In comparison to an apple, they have twice the protein value, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice as many other vitamins and minerals.

To keep bananas from ripening too quickly, separate your bananas. They ripen more slowly  when they are separated from the bunch.

may be shared n a few  of the following weekly blog carnivals

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Disclaimer: The information is intended for educational purposes only. We are not doctors, please check with your doctor if you have a medical problem.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Jicama- - speeds up metabolism


If you want to include a greater variety of vegetables into you diet, you may to try jicama,  not only because it's nutritious but it also helps speed up your metabolism.

This strange looking vegetable from Mexico is pronounced"  hic- a- ma "

It looks like a large turnip , but tastes like a crunchy raw apple , but not as sweet. Use it like you would raw carrots for dipping or just eat it sliced and raw. Even kids will like its mild inviting flavor. Most supermarkets carry it, and of course its gluten free

Dont let its looks intimidate you, It peels and cuts easily.

Jicama is also a delicious addition to any salad.
Try this delicious jicama rainbow salad Jicama Rainbow Salad With Mint

jicama, mint, raw corn, tomato, radish, grated carrot, fresh basil, radish, raisins, red onion., etc.
Jicama Rainbow Salad With Mint    

Here is the weight loss scoop on jicama:
Can jicama  speed up weight loss? Read this!
Jicama ( pronounced hih-cama) is a low calorie root vegetable that is available in most supermarkets. It is grown in Mexico and Central America and widely used in the Latin American diet. It looks like a turnip or large radish but has a mild, almost sweet flavor. In addition to containing potassium, iron and calcium, Jicamas are very high in Vitamin C, ellagic acid , and fiber. This low calorie ( 45 calories per cup) , zero fat , vegetable is a nice addition to any meal. Peeled and used raw, it can be substituted for water chestnuts, added to stir frys, sliced and eaten raw like celery, or added to salads for delightful taste. I have always enjoyed jicama, but now I am intrigued with information about how jicama can help you lose weight faster. ( scroll down for jicama recipes)

The Research on Weight Reduction

In a recent article in First magazine, David Feder R.D., and a nutritional researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, explained about hormones and weight loss. He refered to a study published in The Journal of Nutritional biochemistry which said, " probiotic bacteria use ellagic acid to generate compounds that help the body better utilize food, putting calories to use to give you energy rather than parking those calories on your hips." It turns out that ellagic acid is found in significant amounts in jicama. He also refered to another study done in Taiwan that said, " allegic acid helps the body break down fructose while reducing levels of weight-sabatoging inflammation." David Feder recommends eating jicama because not only is it rich in ellagic acid, it is also rich in vitamin C which helps the body use glucose as energy rather than storing it as fat. In addition, the fiber in jicama nay help elimination and thus belly bloat. Jicama is also low in sugar, which can make it a good  raw, cruchy snack for diabetics or hypoglycemics.  

Ellagic acid:  An antixodant phytochemical

Fiber:  Fiber is the ingredient in plant food that is not digestible. However, it is probably one of the most important nutrients that the body needs to help eliminate waste. Without sufficient fiber ( no less than 25-30 grams a day) your body may hold on to toxins which may increase your risk of developing chronic constipation, higher levels of cholesterol, and difficulty losing weight. Fiber acts as as scrub brush as it moves through your system getting rid of toxic build up.

Next time you go to the supermarket, look in the produce isle for jicama.

Tips When Using Jicama

  • Jicama will stay fresh in the refrigerator up to about 2 weeks
  • Once cut, wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to about a week
  • Peel jicama with a peeler or sharp paring knife
  • Eat it raw as cubes, sliced or as sticks.
  • Its mild sweet flavor makes it a perfect addition to a vegetable tray.
  • Shred jicama to add to salads, coles slaws, health salads.
  • Add it to a stir fly in place of water chestnuts
  • Can be boiled or steamed
  • Jicama can be baked in its skin at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes ( depending on the size)
Try some of these recipes:

Mashed ( potato) Jicama

Peel and cube jicama. Boil or steam until tender. Mash with fork. Add butter, salt and pepper or any seasoning that you would add to mashed potatoes.

Baked ( potato) Jicama

Make jicama a low calorie substitute for a baked potato.
Wash the jicama well, puncture with a fork for two or three jabs, and then bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. When tender, slice down the middle and eat contents not skin.
Add any topping that you would add to a baked potato such as butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, etc.
To keep it low calorie, add a spoonful of plain greek yogurt.

Low Calorie Jicama Crunch Fries
2 medium jicamas ( peel and slice into strips)
1 TBsp of olive oil
1 tsp each of onion powder & paprika
Sea salt, and optional 1/4 tsp of cumin powder

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl until fries are well coated. Enjoy!
or leave out the oil and make it lower in calories


Fabulous Waldorf Cranberry/ Broccoli  slaw Jicama salad 

Great salad for lunch on a hot summer day or as a side dish during any season.

1 bag of organic broccoli slaw ( can find at most supermarkets)

1 cup of diced jicama (peel jicama first)

1-2 small organic apples, diced

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

1/3 cup organic dried cranberries

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside


1/2 cup soaked cashews  ( soak for at least 2 hours or more and drain)

1/4 cup raw honey ( raw tastes best)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in blender and pour over vegetables and toss till coated. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.. YUM!
May be shared n a few  of the following weekly blog carnivals