Monday, July 21, 2014

Marrow Beans With Lemon And Rosemary
Fast Cooking And Creamy!

Marrow beans are so creamy and they cook very quickly.

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Marrow Beans
My friend Margarite loves beans. Actually, I'd have to say she is obsessed with them. Just last week she bought 80 pounds of various beans from Purcell Mountain Farms (a great internet shop that offers exotic beans). 

She's always introducing me to new foods. Last week she came over and presented me with a little bag of dried marrow beans that she picked up at Tierra Vegetables farm stand in Santa Rosa. I had never heard of them before but was excited to try a new bean!

These plump white beans look a lot like cannellinis but they are softer, creamier and cook faster. In fact, they cook so quickly you have to really watch them so that they don't get too soft. That's good news for those of us who don't have hours and hours to cook dried beans. 

Some say marrow beans have a bacon-like flavor but I didn't detect that. Perhaps that's because I haven't eaten a piece of bacon over 30 years! 

Why Dried Beans are Superior
Having a quick cooking dried bean is a wonderful thing. Although it's very convenient to pick up a can of beans, it's hard to find one that isn't lined with bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is an industrial chemical that can be an endocrine disruptor, interfere with the bodies hormones, and is linked to an increased risk of infertility, obesity, breast and reproductive system cancer, and more. Cooking your own beans from scratch avoids this issue. It's also a lot cheaper! 

Buy marrow beans online at Purcell Mountain Farms or on Amazon.

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Marrow Beans with Lemon and Rosemary
Vegan, Gluten Free
[Eight servings]

2 cups dried marrow beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 packed tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pick over beans and rinse thoroughly in cold water.

Two methods to soak beans: 
Place the beans in a bowl of fresh water and soak, covered, for 3 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well. 
Or, place the beans in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and soak for 1 1/2 hours, drain and rinse well.

Heat the oil in a medium pan (I use my 5-quart Dutch oven) and cook the onion, rosemary, garlic, and carrot for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the soaked and rinsed beans, bay leaf, and 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are cooked to the desired texture, 30 to 45 minutes. Add more water if needed. 

After about 35 minutes of cooking

Remove the bay leaf and add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Serve over rice, quinoa, or pasta or by serve by itself as a stew.

Per serving: 165 calories, 2 g total fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 82 mg omega-3 and 263 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 9 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, and 303 mg sodium.

Friday, July 18, 2014

How My Morning Smoothie Became A Chemistry Experiment

Just have fun when making a smoothie!

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Summer Smoothies
Now that it's warm, I generally start every morning with a raw smoothie. I rarely use a recipe and quite often they become a chemistry experiment. Yesterday's chemistry experiment was awful and today's was wonderful. But it's always fun to see what happens. I encourage you to do the same.

This morning I started out with kale. Besides it being a superfood, its volume in my garden is only surpassed by zucchini. So we eat some kale at just about every meal.

Next I added a heaping tablespoon of chia seeds that I soaked in Tempt's new Coconut Hempmilk. (A yummy new product .) This made it thick and full of omega-3.

A few stalks of celery made it in there so that I didn't feel too guilty about using so much fruit.

I sliced up a big pear because they have tons of fiber (6 grams per medium pear.)

And then there was that peach that needed to be eaten. A bit too ripe to bite into but still yummy enough for a smoothie.

Of course what would a smoothie be without frozen blueberries. Their colorful anthocyanins make the smoothie a more pleasant color. I'd much rather sip a thick purple drink than one that looks like it was scooped out of a pond. 

I added a few figs that I froze from my neighbors crop from last year because this year's crop is already coming in and I need to finish them up. Oh yes, I had to use that ripe banana. 

I finally stopped adding things because I ran out of room in the blender and there was only two of us here to drink it. I put in a few cups of cold water and blended until smooth and creamy. 

I finally ran out of room!

So you can see where I'm going with this. Smoothies are fun to experiment with. As long as you start with fresh or frozen organic fruit and veggies, you can't really go wrong. And if you do, try something else tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Dry Skin Brushing Can Reduce Cellulite, Tighten Your Skin, And Help You Detox!

Dry skin brushing has many benefits!

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is available
 on Amazon and iTunes.

Add This to your Daily Routine
You brush your teeth and your hair every day but do you brush your skin? That sounded a bit crazy to me too at first but it turns out that doing this has amazing benefits!

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? And it's pretty complex too, made up of glands, nerves, and other important cells. So it's worth a few minutes a day brushing away dead cells and stimulating your skin so that it can do a better job. 

Besides being invigorating, dry brushing your skin has many important benefits. Here are a few:

* Stimulates your lymphatic system which allows you to get rid of cellular waste products. Promoting lymphatic drainage is, perhaps, the most important benefit of all. When waste and toxins build up, inflammation and disease occur so dry skin brushing is an effective way to help your body detox

* Improves kidney function.  When the lymphatic system is contributing more to detoxification, it takes some of the burden from the kidneys. 

* Reduces cellulite by softening and redistributing the subcutaneous fat deposits under the skin where toxins get trapped and lead to the formation of cellulite. 

* Promotes tighter and smoother skin by increasing blood flow and cell renewal.

* Unclogs your pores by clearing away dead skin and accumulated toxins, allowing your skin to breathe. 

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How to Get Started!

Buy a good brush. Find a brush with bristles made from natural fibers. Make sure that it has a long handle so that you can reach your back. 

Bernard Jensen Products makes a good brush. 
I have an Yerba Prima Tampico Skin Brush which has served me well. 

This brush is made from tampico fiber,
the unbleached stem of the agave plant.

How to Brush
* Brush every day. You can do it twice a day but, hey, who we kidding? We're lucky if we can squeeze this in once!

* Always brush your skin when it is absolutely dry. Make sure the brush is absolutely dry.

 * It's best to do this before you shower so that you can bathe away all the dead skin and impurities resulting from brushing.

* Always brush towards your heart with long, sweeping strokes. I generally start with my legs, then my arms - always towards my chest. Then up from my lower back (stop at the heart) and down from my neck (again, stopping at the heart.)

* Don't brush too hard. These brushes are pretty stiff so it takes some getting used to. You want to stimulate your skin, not leave bruises. 

Brushing your skin is one more thing you can do to improve your health. This along with a plant-rich diet, plenty of exercise, and happy thoughts will go a long way to a long and healthy life!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Warm And Delicious Venezuelan-Style Arepas
Easy-To-Make Gluten-Free Vegan Corn Cakes

Low-fat, gluten-free arepas are delicious at any meal!

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My friends introduced me to arepas - petite guten-free corn cakes made from pre-cooked corn flour. They are a staple in Venezuela and Colombia. I prefer the smaller, thicker, Venezuelan-style arepas that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. In Colombia they make them larger and thinner. They are made from a precooked corn flour called masarepa or masa al instante. I like using the white maize meal, harina de maiz blanco. If you can't find it at a local Latino grocery store, you can find it on Amazon.

Precooked white maize meal.

You won't believe how easy these are to make!

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Venezuelan-Style Arepas
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 8 arepas]

1 cup arepa flour (pre-cooked cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil plus some for pan

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

Mix the oil and water. Pour into the flour and mix until well combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Shape each ball into a disk 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

Place the arepas in a heated, greased, non-stick frying pan. Place the arepas in the pan, flattening them with a spatula, and cook until slightly brown on each side, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the pan and place on a cookie sheet or foil-lined, shallow roasting pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Serve them hot with any meal for a gluten-free bread substitute. They are great with vegan cream cheese or Earth Balance buttery spread. My favorite way to serve them is as an appetizer covered with guacamole dip.

Per arepa: 78 calories, 0.4 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 1 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, and 145 mg sodium.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chimichurri Sauce With Fresh Cilantro, Parsley, And Jalapeño
Raw Vegan And Gluten Free

Chimichurri makes a great topping!

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is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Fresh Herbs
There's nothing like fresh herbs to liven up a dish, especially when they are combined with jalapeño!  This quick and easy chimichurri sauce combines fresh cilantro and parsley, both bringing with them their unique health benefits. Cilantro is known for it's ability to rid the body of heavy metals, such as mercury. And parsley is a vitamin and mineral powerhouse packed with vitamins A, C, K and folate and important minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and manganese.

Most chimichurri recipes have more oil. I've cut the oil with some veggie broth and used more fresh citrus and wine vinegar. For the oils I use omega-3 rich, cold-pressed hemp oil and a good quality, heart-healthy, extra virgin olive oil.

Although chimichurri sauce originated in Argentina as a topping for grilled meat, I like to use it on top of baked potatoes, pasta, beans, steamed veggies, salads, corn fritters, tacos, burritos, eggs, and just about anything that needs extra flavor and spice.

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Chimichurri Sauce
Raw Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 1 1/2 cups]
Best when made with a Food Processor such as a Cusinart

1 jalapeño, stem removed and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 packed cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 packed cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable broth, room temperature
2 tablespoons cold-pressed hemp oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

With the food processor running, throw the jalapeño and garlic down the shoot and processes until they are minced.

Minced jalapeño and garlic

Place the cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper, and oregano into the processor and process until the herbs are chopped.

Combine the vinegar, lime or lemon juice, veggie broth, and oils. With the food processor running, pour the mixture slowly down the shoot into the chopped herbs until combined. Do not over process.

Place the sauce in a 2-cup container and serve.

Chimichurri makes a great topping for
Vegetarian Zucchini and Corn Pancakes.

Per 1 tablespoon serving: 28 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 182 mg omega-3 and 838 mg omega-6 fatty acid, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 0 g dietary fiber, and 50 mg sodium. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Healthline Guide To Herbs And Supplements For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Can Diet Help Too?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a painful autoimmune disease.
Diet and herbal remedies may give some relief!

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Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a very painful condition that occurs when your own immune system attacks your joints. This results in swelling and stiffness of the joints. This is not the same as osteoarthritis which is caused by your joints being worn down when you age.

Traditional Treatment and its Risks
Doctors often prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications, and DMARDs (Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs). All of these drugs can have serious side effects. For example, if you are on DMARDs that work by suppressing your immune system, your immune system would then be weakened and may not be able to effectively fight infections. DMARDs also may hurt blood cells and certain organs such as your liver, lungs, or kidneys.

Many scientists have linked many chronic diseases, like heart disease, Alzheimer's, strokes, type 2 diabetes, even cancer, to inflammation. Although no one knows what causes RA, inflammation is once again a culprit that needs to be controlled. 

Can Diet Help?
Eating an alkaline diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, omega-3 and other healthy fats, as well as anti-inflammatory spices and teas, can help reduce or prevent inflammatory conditions in your body. See my post on Dr. Andrew Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet. 

Limit or avoid acidic and inflammatory foods such as sugar, packaged foods containing trans fats, white bread or pasta, fried foods, dairy, animal fats, excessive alcohol, and too much omega-6 fatty acids contained in safflower, grapeseed, and sunflower oils. 

New Healthline Guide
Besides diet, many people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who do not want to suffer the side effects of potent drugs, can get relief by taking certain herbs and supplements. Healthline recently published a guide that will introduce you to herbs such as Cat's Claw, Celery Seed, and others,  that have been used for thousands of years to fight inflammation. The guide points out key vitamins, such as vitamin D, that have been shown to inhibit the development of RA. Check out Healthline's The Ultimate Guide to Herbs and Supplements for RA.

Make sure you work with your doctor before changing your medications or adding any supplements to your daily regimen. Many supplements can interact with drugs. To check to see if your drugs and herbal supplements have harmful interactions, go to Medscape's Drug Interaction Checker.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Making Dolmades With Fresh Grape Leaves

Have access to fresh grape leaves? Make dolmades!

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is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Grape Leaves
I live in wine country and have a small vineyard with access to literally millions of grape leaves right outside my door. But for some reason I have never used them for cooking. I always go down to the Greek deli near our local post office when I have a craving for dolmades. So I finally took the plunge and tried making dolmades from scratch while the grape leaves are still young and tender. It was a snap!

The trick is to pick the leaves in late spring or early summer, before they toughen (and before my husband hedges the top of the vines). Pick grape leaves that are big enough to hold a filling and roll up and are as close to the top of the vine as possible. Usually that means the 3rd and 4th leaves. Only use organic grape leaves that have not been sprayed with pesticides.

I used grape leaves from my organic Sauvignon Blanc
plants but you can use leaves from any grape plant.

A single grape leaf contains
826 IU of Vitamin A and
26 mg of omega-3 fatty acid!

Pine Nuts
I gave up eating pine nuts a few years ago after getting pine mouth. This is a condition which causes everything you eat to taste like metal and originates from eating Chinese sourced pine nuts. So I'm going to try using Mediterranean pine nuts that I bought from They are pricey but it's worth not getting pine mouth. 

These mediterranean pine nuts from
are grown in Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

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Dolmades with Fresh Grape Leaves
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 36 pieces]
Requires 9"x13" casserole dish, a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot with lid, and a shallow, wide pan.

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 large Rapunzel vegan bouillon cube*
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
Grated lemon zest from 1 organic lemon
1 cup white basmati rice
1/3 cup Mediterranean pine nuts
36 to 40 fresh grape leaves**
2 tablespoons fresh dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

* you can substitute broth for the water and bouillon cube
** you can substitute canned or jarred grape leaves

Dissolve the bouillon cube in a pyrex with 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Or use 2 1/2 cups of ready-made broth. Set aside.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add onions and grated lemon zest and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. 

Add the rice and pine nuts and stir until coated. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of broth and simmer, tightly covered, until the moisture is absorbed but not over 15 minutes. Set aside the remaining 1 cup of broth.

While the rice is cooking, bring a wide, shallow pan of water to a boil. Submerge the grape leaves in the boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Submerged grape leaves.

When rice is cooked, add fresh dill, salt, and pepper. Let cool.

You can substitute a smaller amount of dried dill in this recipe
but fresh dill is far superior.
Taste the filling and adjust seasoning.

To assemble the dolmades, lay a blanched and dried grape leaf on a flat surface, shiny side down. Place 1 tablespoon of filling near the stem end of the leaf. 

Fold the stem end of the leaf over the filling.

Then fold in both sides towards the filling.

Then roll up completely.

Place dolmades seam-side down in a 9"x13" casserole dish. Repeat until you fill the pan. You may have left over filling. 

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of lemon juice to the pyrex with the remaining cup of broth. Stir well and pour over the dolmades. 

Tightly cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the grape leaves can be easily pierced with a fork.

Remove from the oven and let cool with the foil remaining on the casserole dish.

Serve at room temperature or store in the refrigerator, covered, until needed.

Per serving: 42 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 34 mg omega-3 and 505 mg omega-6 fatty acid, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, and 89 mg sodium (using a large Rapunzel bouillon cube and 1/2 teaspoons added salt).