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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Give us Something Good to Eat!

Hello There Pumpkins :)

I will have to warn you, I am OBSESSED with the autumn harvest, and as a result, I have been eating as many apple and pumpkins as I can. With the temperatures dropping, it is only instinctual to eat plenty of these harvest items in order to warm our bodies for that dreadful season that follows.... winter. Like Mr. Squirrel, we must take advantage of what is here now, and save some for the winter.  Make soups, chili, pies, and try to freeze them for a later time.

What I love about pumpkin, it is just divine as a tea, in a pie, in pancakes, muffins, soup, smoothies...oh and just about anything.  But best of all, it is darn good for you! With super low calories (26 per 100g), no cholesterol, no saturated fat, but with an abundance of fiber, antioxidant, minerals, and vitamins, everyone should be eating their share of pumpkin.  That decoration you have sitting on your porch can supply the highest amounts of Vitamin A (246% of RDA). Hello good eye sight and good skin!  It is rich in B-complex vitamins, and minerals such as calcium (no cow necessary), copper, potassium, and phosphorus. Eat on!

So now that  you know you should be taking full advantage of this harvest, and you have no reason NOT to eat pumpkin in fall... here is some food porn and recipes to make your mouth water :)

Pumpkin-Banana Pancakes (Gluten free and vegan), with baked apples:

1 1/2 c. of Bob Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix
1 tbs. ground flax seed + 2 tbs. water (or an egg if you are not vegan)
3/4 c. Non-sweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tbs. Safflower oil (or another vegetable oil)
1/2 c. pumpkin puree (Organic canned in perfect and easy :)
1 banana
cinnamon (about 2 tsp)
To taste: ground clove, all spice, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice
Optional: walnuts!

Blend together and cook on a skillet (don't ruin these health bomb pancakes by cooking them on non-stick pans that will release chemicals into the food and the air... rather use a stainless steal pan or even better, cast iron pan to bump up your natural animal free iron consumption :)

Baked apples:
Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ground clove with agave, baked at about 300 degrees until softened 

Now you can't just carve your pumpkin, save the pulp, and chuck the seeds-- these babies may be the best part!  Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the lovely fiber so many are trying to obtain, protein (again, no cows, pigs, or chickies are harmed :), iron, niacin, selenium, zinc, the heart healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids, AND the brain fuel, tryptophan. I even made these again this week with my students-- add some agave or Stevia, and the kids will LOVE them, especially when they helped make them.

Cinnamon-Agave seeds and Salty seeds
Preheat oven to about 300 degrees
bake with seasonings on cookie sheet until golden brown
Enjoy as a perfect, healthy, nutrient packed snack :)

And lastly, my "You Wouldn't Believe it's not Meat-Chili" with, you guessed it: Pumpkin!

I pretty much throw things into my chili, and taste it ever few hours to see what it is missing, but here is the gist:

about 3 cups of beans (I use kidney, black, and pinto)
A lot of peppers (about 4-5) chopped
1-2 jalapeƱo peppers (depends on your desired spice)
About 1 whole onion
Approx.. 1 cup of sweet Jersey corn
1- 1/2 cans of crushed tomatoes
about 2-3 tbs chili powder
1-2 tbs. ground cumin
1 cup of pureed pumpkin 
* If using cans (which I often do) spend the extra money and buy organic.  Preferably Eden Organic beans which make you less musical... ;)

Pumpkin carving by Julianne :)

Pumpkin can and certainly should become your new favorite food-- you can slip it into SO many meals, without your pain in the neck "picky" eaters even knowing it (not that I do that... ever ;)  Their hearts, brain, skin, eyes, etc. will thank you for it!

If you have a pumpkin recipe you that you love, please share below!

Happy Almost-Halloween!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Deliciously Gluten Free: Tips on facing your intolerances and surviving Gluten Free in a gluttonous world

Hello Pumpkins!

One of the worst things you can do for your health is consume food that you are allergic or intolerant to. I for one (and like most of us) have a gluten intolerance.  As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I have a really tough time staying away from gluten.  I gave up meat... easy. I gave up dairy... not too bad. I gave up sugar... noooo problem.  Gluten, WHY!? I am an Italian girl who was raised with the understanding that NO meal is complete with out a loaf of Italian Bread (dipped in olive oil) along side of my lasagna.

Your body will let you know when what you are consuming, is toxic... The body does this in many ways: A possible belly ache, or worst.  Hives. bloating. lethargy... or in my case, teenage ACNE. I, knowing I have this intolerance of gluten, and regardless (under stressful situations) I aloud myself to indulge in the bread basket.  One night, it's okay, blame temptation! A second night, silly, silly, silly... a third night- Terrible, terrible!  As a result my body decided to teach me a lesson in what I would consider the worst possible way: on my face in the form of  "teenage acne"... something I thankfully never dealt with as a teenager, and am now dealing with in my mid twenties (ugh!).

With the help of my two favorite homeopathic remidies: Sepia and Adrenal Drops, I got my body back on track.  The next time that bread basket came around (we ate out a lot this past week, family was visiting), I reminded myself the effects this (delicious) bread would have on my face. And then I got creative....

Tips to eating well without gluten:

1.) Breakfast: discover Cherry Brook Farms and/or Bob's Red Mill and/or Van's
     We are BIG breakfast people.  For a while, after I began eating a vegan diet, I gave up our Saturday Morning Breakfasts... and unfortunately, so did everyone else.  Since giving up gluten, I have come to find some fabulous alternatives that are not just gluten free, but dairy free too.  Now, Saturday Morning Breakfasts are back.  I don't feel deprived or left out, and still feel great after eating a delicious meal:
Cherry Brook Farms Pancake Mix + banana and Pure Maple Syrup

2.) Eating out:
      Many places now have delicious GF alternatives.  One of our favorite bars in Sea Bright is the Mad Hatter.  The Hatter has the most delicious pizza, AND the most delicious GF pizza.
GF "Healthy" Pie with no cheese= Divine!

Of course, not all restaurants have GF options (those who are unfortunately stuck in the stone age of no-allergies)... In these common cases, you can always BRING YOUR OWN! There is this restaurant called Angelica's, again in Sea Bright- which our family LOVES. Just straight up delicious and fresh Italian cuisine (and byob!) Unfortunately, this restaurant does not have Gluten Free option, however I have found that as long as you are sweet and honest about your allergies, anyone will cook that GF pasta that you brought. Yes, you can bring your own pasta! When I was in high school working at an Italian restaurant called Michael Angelo's (Monmouth Beach, NJ), I had quite a few customers who would byop (bring your own pasta). You can still enjoy a delicious meal, minus the regret later on.  My favorite is the Quinoa pasta...

3.) Family cooked meals:
      Family members are not always as understanding as we would like of our intolerances or allergies.  in which case, you must cook your own food.  I suggest making something similar to what everyone else is eating (don't cook Italian when everyone else is eating Chinese, I promise you, you will want what they are eating :)  If possible, make the same thing, just a GF (and vegan) version.  Being Italian, my family eats a lot of lasagna, eggplant parm, and bread... so, I take those recipes that I have adopted from my Naunee, and substitute those allergen triggers for good quality versions that I can tolerate.

Check out my Vegan, gluten free Lasagna recipe that was featured as the "Recipe of the Week" at

Using the same "cheese" found in the lasagna recipe, I just recently invented my "Italian Girl's Vegan Gluten Free Eggplant Parm" using Gillian's GF bread crumbs :) Fortunately for me, unfortunately for you (and my gluten eating family members), this was SO delicious that I did not stop eating to take a picture.

BREAD... now this is a tough topic, because I love bread so, so, so much.... I have yet to find the GF bread that I love, but I have found an okay alternative: Millet Bread

Here is a tip: This bread comes frozen, with all frozen breads, you must bake them, and then toast them. DO NOT use that vicious microwave (for so many reasons that I will soon share with you :).  Another delicious super healthy and vegan-ish tip-- In place of butter, and instead of using "soy" butters, spread on some delicious, nutritious avocado with a dash of Himalayan Sea Salt.

Gluten allergies and intolerances have become increasingly prevalent over the past decade.  You, like me, may not think that you have an intolerance or an allergy to gluten, or to dairy, soy, etc.  In order to find out if you do, I suggest you try an elimination diet.  Remove that substance from your diet completely. Record how you feel after a week, two, and then three weeks without the substance.  If you feel better, then chances are you are in the same boat as I am and have an intolerance.  You can try to slowly add the gluten, soy, dairy, back into your diet in small amounts.  Record how your body reacts.  If you begin feeling icky again, then chances are you have an intolerance and should avoid that substance. If you are fine, well than, lucky you :)

Next up: Tip #3, GF Dessert-- Pumpkin picking, apple picking, and all the yummy autumn vegan and gluten free desserts you can handle :)

With much love and deliciously thriving health <3

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Dream...

Hello Angels!

As I promised, this post is a continuation of The Fall IINto Action Health Conference that I attended a few weeks ago in New York City.  I admire Deepak Chopra so much.  He has instilled so much faith, trust, and peace in so many people, including myself.  What I love best is the concept that what you think you can't do, you can't. What you think you can do, you can. In other words, it is all in your head, you have created your present, and you have the power to create your ideal future.

Now, I hope I don't sound too crazy for you in this post. I know when I first started to explore my spirituality a few years ago, I thought it was all a little weird too. Of course that was until I realized how powerful thinking is, and I had no other choice but to believe. It is crazy to me how there are so many different religions, yet, they are all the same.  They all believe that there is one "God" or whatever you call that power (I like to say the Universe), who is looking over each and everyone of us, assuring we take the correct path. That power is putting things in place to help guide us in the right direction. There are omens everywhere! I was raised Roman Catholic, I grew up, I went to college, and I started to move away from my religion, into a dark place of non-belief.  I am so grateful for my religious up bringing, but I have now created my own spirituality outside of the strict walls called religion. My body is my temple and I trust that when I believe in this power, things always work out.

You are the creator of your life, you have the "power" to do anything and have anything you want.... Read The Secret.  When you do, you will realize that you have always know this concept-- how many times have you created your reality? My favorite is creating parking spots :) Ask my boyfriend or any of my friends... they will tell you that when I say I am going to get a perfect front row parking spot, I will. Works nearly every time. This is The Law of Attraction.

What is the "soul" you speak about, Dr. Deepak Chopra? Such a confusing concept! WHAT is the soul? Well,"it cannot be found in the body... nor measurable in space or time.  It is our core consciousness."  I believe that everybody has a "soul purpose" in life. There is a reason you are here, and you are faced with your circumstances because of that reason. There are lessons to learn, and service to be paid.

Deepak Chopra said that in order to establish the soul's profile you must ask yourself a series of questions.:

  1. Who am I? 
  2. What do I want? 
  3. What is a peak experience for me?
  4. What is my life's purpose? 
  5. What contribution can I make to the world? 
  6. What meaningful relationships do I have? 
  7. How can I give to those relationships? 
  8. What unique skills and talents do I have, and how can I use them to serve?
  9. Who are my architypes?
  10. What is my story?

"The world is our projection, you can change it."-- Deepak Chopra

What I found to be the most important message in this presentation was Dr. Deepak Chopra's "D" and the "S" of the L.E.A.D.E.R.S.

  • D- Dare to dream now and DO IT, transform your reality
    • S- Stretch for your dreams
    • M- Measure your dreams
    • A- Agree on the measurement
    • R- Record the progress
    • T- Time limit for your dreams
  • S-Synchronicity with the Universe, there is a linear cause and effect. 
    • The soul is synchronic
    • There are karmic patterns, what you give out, you will receive
    • Opportunity meets preparedness
I know that life throws curve balls, and that life is not always easy... Which is why it is important to find time to dream and to create those dreams.  Many of us are stuck in situations that zap our energy and rid us of happiness... You need to remember that YOU create your reality, YOU have the ability to change that reality. YOU have the right to dream and the right to succeed.

The Universe (or God, or whatever you prefer to call it), works in beautiful ways.  JUST when you need something to give you a boost, you will receive it... All you have to do is believe. I (and most of the world) have been dealing with stress around that power called money. There are so many things I want to do at the young and ripe age of 24, but I can't do because a.) I have to work b.) I have to pay my bills and c.) I need to save.  I was feeling as though I was trapped in this depressing cycle of work, eat, sleep.  As of last night I felt I had hit a wall... I was drained of not only money, but energy.  I went to bed stressed out of my mind.  Woke up before the crack of dawn, and sat down to listen to my Meditation.  It was day 11 (11 is my lucky number) of the Chopra Center's Summer Meditation Challenge (which I purchased to MAKE myself meditate) and what was this guided meditation about? MONEY. I just laughed... thanked the Universe, and after my meditation I felt SO much better.  Lunch time, I sit to eat and read my email... check out Facebook, lo and behold, my favorite doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman, posted a link to a blog via my role model Kris Carr... what was the topic of the blog? MONEY.

Just remember the Universe (God, whoever!) works in beautiful ways.  You can have whatever you want in life, you just have to believe in yourself, and trust that (from the amazing artist, Bob Marley) "Every little thing is gonna be all right."

With happy thoughts, BIG dreams, and much love <3