Maybe you know the kind of Italian nonna whose recipe doesn’t include the secret ingredient that takes the dish from “bravo” to “bellisimo!” Though we could keep this up our sleeves as well, we wouldn’t do that to you. This DIY vanilla sugar recipe is divine; it ‘blesses’ pretty much any baked good with a delicate, fruit-floral aroma and taste. Beyond making your taste buds sing, some properties of vanilla can help calm and protect your nervous system – which make it perfect for hectic holidays! Just like the DIY 2-ingredient Vanilla Extract recipe, this one is supremely simple. We recommend doing both at once since you’ll get the most out of the vanilla beans.
We might sprinkle this highly-valuable vanilla sugar into our gluten-free cinnamon bun recipe, Banana Nut Bread, or on top of the Anytime Warm Apple Crisp. Use it as a substitute for regular white sugar and your coffee, tea, cookies, brownies, and other holiday baked goods will have everyone asking for your secret ingredient. It’s up to you whether you tell them 😉
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Using a knife, carefully slice a vanilla bean pod length-wise. Scrape the inside seeds of the bean into a small glass container. Remember, you can reuse the beans to make vanilla extract so put them aside to save them if that’s your plan. Put the granulated sugar into the blender/food processor/coffee grinder to blend the vanilla bean with it. When the seeds have broken down and dispersed in the mixture, your job is basically done! You can enjoy the sugar immediately or reap the reward of getting the best flavor by waiting for a few weeks.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you probably got the movie reference from the title and ring emoji alone. Gollum, a rather unfortunate-looking character, is so completely obsessed with the Ring that he calls it “my precious”.
Unlike Gollum, we are less passionate about rings than we are about the ruby-red pomegranate seeds that become available this time of year. The fruit is supremely scrumptious and it offers a whole host of benefits to your body. Let’s explore:
When are Pomegranates available?
The pomegranates in the United States tend to come from the warmer parts, such as California. The fruits need the hot, hot heat (not the band) in order to grow well. The delectable fruit becomes available to us starting in late September and extends through November. Fortunately, because pomegranates do well in storage, you should still seem them available in December and possibly into early January. In summary, it’s available now so run and get yourself some!
Nutritional aspects of Pomegranates
These juicy fruits pack a flavor and nutritional punch! They are a great source of fiber, which can help with constipation, weight loss, and balancing blood sugar.
Pomegranates have vitamins and minerals, including: calcium, phosphorus, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. This fruit also has antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties which can help the brain and urinary tract, boost physical performance, benefit the cardiovascular and digestive systems, and assist in disease prevention.
What ice cream can’t do, pomegranates can!
How to use and eat Pomegranate
You could eat the seeds themselves as a meal or a snack. We like to have it as a breakfast on its own, with nondairy yogurt, or with the Amaranth for Breakfast recipe (subbing the fruit in for the strawberries).
Pomegranate pancakes are also really good and they have a bit more crunch than blueberry pancakes.
For lunch or dinner, some like pomegranate in their salads or in a rice pilaf.
For dessert, we’ve even put pomegranate seeds on vegan cheesecake and made a syrup out of it.
You are only limited by your imagination.
Let us know – after having fresh pomegranate seeds are you too calling them “my precious”? How do you like to eat yours?
The weather here in the Midwest likes to engage in a bit of trickery. Last week, it was sunny and in the 70s and this week, well, it feels like winter. It’s time to pull out the hats and coats as well as the ingredients for making some warming, cozy beverages. Here are some recipes to fit the season:
Our Dairy-free Hot Chocolate was a staple recipe nearly every evening last winter. Whether we were reading a favorite book or magazine or watching holiday movies and the Great British Baking Show, hot chocolate was by our side.
For those who don’t want to have to choose between hot chocolate and coffee, we have a most excellent collaboration between the two: 5-spice Hot Choffee (choffee being a portmanteau of hot chocolate and coffee)
This program was a game changer for me. I knew I had food sensitivities and thought I had cut all of them out of my diet, but yet I was still sick. I learned that I had a reaction to some of the healthy things I was eating daily [emphasis added]. I finally have a list of foods to stay away from, no more guessing at what might be the issue. I stay clear of these, plus some additional food intolerances, and I feel great.
What surprises and new strengths have you gotten from this experience?
I have my health back. I’m starting to enjoy food again instead of dreading eating and getting sick. I was just sticking with the same items that I thought were safe, not wanting to try new recipes.
My diet has opened up to more options now that I know what to avoid. I’m surprised at how much more variety of foods I can eat now. Even though there are quite a few foods I need to steer clear of (for now), I still have more options than I did before. I’ve just recently gone back to recipes in my cookbooks that I loved in the past, but thought they were making me sick. I can eat them again with no issues.
What is the thing you benefited from and/or enjoyed the most so far?
Getting my health back!
I had hoped to find out all the foods I had a food sensitivity to and to relieve my symptoms. I didn’t know I could feel this good again! It’s wonderful to be able to consistently feel good and not have to worry about my symptoms interfering with my day and holding me back from the things I want to accomplish.
I really appreciate our time together and definitely hope to stay in touch (I just referred someone to you last week).
Imagine something ‘healthy’ you eat almost everyday – like a banana or maybe some kale – and it actually being the culprit behind your symptoms! This is one of the reasons why it’s important to assess for food sensitivities and intolerances – a problem food could be flying beneath the radar because it’s a ‘health food’. Luckily, Teresa has figured out some of the major ones and her symptoms have improved! Could identifying potential food sensitivities do the same for you? Find out here and schedule a complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call to get started!
Maybe it’s all the autumn activities or just the season of our lives, but we’re probably not alone in feeling like a squirrel on a sugar-high. Scattered. Busy. Trying to maintain a mental map of the yards where we hid our nuts. Okay, maybe not the last one.
Still, the increase in activity, even if just shopping on Early Prime Days, tends to lend itself to eating more snacks. And that’s okay. Let’s try to have some that land on the healthier side of the spectrum. Here are healthy, plant-based fall snacks that run the gamut from no-bake and about 10 minutes to delicious, baked goods that might have you salivating at the ding of the timer after 45 minutes of somewhat patiently waiting at the oven door.
Ooh wee! Have you seen the fresh peaches available at farmers markets and grocery stores? If you haven’t already, grab a few along with a pint of blueberries for this sweet, no-added sugar dessert. Compote usually involves fruit cooked in a syrup or with sugar but we just used water and a bit of cinnamon. It’s wonderful to have for breakfast or as a dessert. Life’s a peach!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: about 30-40 minutes
Servings: ~ 9
4-5 ripe, fresh peaches
1 pint blueberries
1 tsp cinnamon
Dice peaches and put in medium saucepan with enough water to cover the bottom. Add blueberries and cinnamon. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for about 30-45 minutes or until fruit has softened. Enjoy on its own, with oatmeal in the mornings, or with vanilla ice cream in the evenings.
There are all sorts of nutrients that your heart needs in order to be healthy, including: magnesium, polyphenols, omega-3s, fiber and folate. However nutritious your food choices, there is a nutrient of supreme importance – vitamin L.
How is this vitamin different from the A, B, C, D versions you’ve heard about? One, it’s not a physical nutrient. Two, it is among one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Three, when you have it, and share it, your heart beats with pure joy. Vitamin L is vitamin Love. Unlike a pill, you can’t just ‘take’ love. In fact, you have to give in order to receive it.
Could you use a little, or a lot more, of Vitamin L in your life? Let’s start with perhaps the hardest one.
Love for self. Does this surprise you? Most people get a bit flustered or even breakdown crying when asked if they love themselves. It’s such a simple question, but even we were perplexed the first time a holistic doctor asked the same question. Do you love yourself? How do you know if you do? Scrape off the first few layers of how you dress, the car you drive, what you buy for yourself, or the spa treatments you might get – do you truly and completely love and accept yourself? Don’t feel bad if the answer is “I don’t know” or even “no”. You’re certainly not alone. Many of our clients have hidden behind a form of ‘over-performing’ and strict eating and living principles. But really this wasn’t self-love or appreciation, it was a form of self-flagellation. It was shame or guilt that motivated their ‘healthy’ actions. Religious upbringing can play a part in this, but that’s a story for another time.
Imagine if we nourished ourselves with love, appreciation, and joyful experiences. It’s something a green smoothie can’t even touch, in terms of deeper nourishment. So then the question clients want to know the answer to is “how Do I love myself more?” As you might expect, it needs to be personalized, like knowing your own love language.
It might be helpful to image yourself as a separate human being. Would you tell this person, immediately upon seeing them, “boy you look horrible today, and damn girl, look at those thighs”? Probably not. Then why do you say that to yourself in the mornings, upon gazing into the mirror? Being kind to ourselves, in thought and in words, is a form of self- love. Take that vitamin daily. Maybe even double the dose.
Again, imagining yourself as a loved one, would you say “oh, you’re tired? Well, you can go to bed after you clean and organize the whole kitchen, eat the bag of chips and watch another episode, or finish your taxes” or would you say to her “you seem tired and you’ve accomplished a lot today; get some sleep and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to start again tomorrow”?
It’s possible that so many of us were given messages that our worth was in being “good” – as in pleasing others, never asking for what we needed, hiding unpleasant emotions from the public (and ourselves), warning against vanity (through Greek mythology and Narcissus, a man of unparalleled beauty, who fell in love with his own reflection and caused his own demise) and therefore never saying nice things to the person in our mirrors. These factors, and more, can play into how we speak, feel, and act towards ourselves.
Love for others and greater humanity. Aim for positive interaction which each member of your family, with your spouse or partner, your children and your friends. No one is perfect but we can extend kindness nonetheless and give a benefit of a doubt. The best part is that, if you’ve incorporated more vitamin Love for youself in your life, it will spill over into other areas more effortlessly. When you pour from an empty pitcher, you give to others but there is a sense of resentment and depletion. When you pour from a pitcher that is constantly being refilled by your own nourishment, there is plenty to go around, with more joy too.
When we care about our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we make choices about the clothes we buy, the companies we support, and money we donate. Though we will never solve all of humanity’s ills, we can start lessening them. Get into microlending to support small business abroad, say no to fast fashion and buy quality pieces from companies whose dyes don’t pollute waters, refuse to buy from companies who buy water rights and deny clean water to local communities, share information and knowledge to help people improve their own lives.
Share some vitamin L(ove) today and start a new, positive ‘pandemic’ in your own house, community, and perhaps a ripple effect throughout the world.
Heat 1 cup of non-dairy milk in a small saucepan. Whisk 1 tbsp of cacao powder in the hot milk and bring it to a boil. Then add vanilla extract and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Pour into a cup and add 1-2 squares of dark chocolate. Stir and enjoy!
Inside and outside of school, there are many pressures on children and teenagers to look or act a certain way. It’s hard to be aware of, and control, what they are exposed to – whether on social media or in their friend groups- but here’s a question & answer guide to facilitate conversations with your child.
This interview may pop up on VeryWell.com and the link will be placed here when the article is ready to view.
Why is it important to talk to your child about eating disorders?
It is important to talk with your child about eating disorders as a precautionary measure. It will help them build awareness of their own eating habits and to notice if it starts to swing into disordered eating. They may be able to help identify peers or friends who may also need help.
Should you have these conversations only if you’re concerned or just in general? Why or Why not?
There are two sides to this. By starting a conversation and saying that sometimes people starve themselves, over-exercise, or purge in order to look a certain way, a child may pick up on that as a valid way to change the way they look. Conversely, the conversation, including the detriments of eating disorders (e.g. on dental, bone, reproductive, or psychological health – even the risk of death) may help them stay on a healthier path with their eating.
Some parents may be concerned that talking about eating disorders will put the idea in their head or make a situation worse? Is that a legitimate concern?
[See above]. For some children, it can plant a seed in their minds to try unhealthy eating behaviors in order to lose weight. A child, depending on age and disposition, may also rebel against the parents by doing the opposite of what they suggest and become entrenched, or further entrenched, in disordered eating. It would be very appropriate, and perhaps necessary, to bring in a more neutral third party, perhaps a therapist or registered dietitian, to educate the child about disordered eating and its effects.
Should parents talk about how to approach eating from a healthy place or give any advice?
It’s always best for parents to model healthy eating. I’ve heard too many stories from my clients about how their disordered eating started because their mom was on a diet and always talked about how “fat” she was or how dad would eat “whatever he wanted” and then run it off. Children model after and emulate their parents, for better or worse. Talking about eating from a healthy, positive place can definitely help. If the child is open to advice, you can offer it, but I would suggest letting them ask questions to get engaged in the conversation, versus delivering a lecture.
What should parents know about talking about eating disorders?
Just like other topics – including sex education, personal finance, healthy relationships – it’s likely to be an ever-evolving conversation, not a one-and-done deal. Making the child feel safe, by being approachable and providing support, is probably the most important factor in getting them to trust you and participate in these important conversations. Pull in an expert for questions you don’t know the answers to or for a more neutral, objective advisor to counsel your child on their feelings, the way they eat, and more.
How do they start a conversation in an age appropriate way?
Most parents are aware of their child’s maturity level and understanding of various topics. Meet them where they are. Just as you wouldn’t give a five year old child a blow-by-blow account of what happens during a birth, explaining the tax benefits of a Roth IRA, or explaining narcissitic or borderline personalities when talking about building friendships in kindergarten, you’d want to match their level of understanding by simplifying the conversation and making it appropriate to what they need to know at this stage of their development.
What partially inspired this topic was an experience we had while in our dietetic internship (for those unfamiliar, to be a registered dietitian-nutritionist one has 4 years of medical training and then a year of paying, not paid, internship). Between our collective stress as a cohort and our lifestyle factors, which included adult beverages and dancing at bars on weekends, it’s no wonder that, while walking with a friend to meet with our program director, she had a grimace on her face. When asked what was wrong, she grouchily responded, “I haven’t had my morning poo”. We were flabbergasted. Though we were far from the Bridgerton-era of delicate sensibilities, no one talked about poo. Ever. She helped to change that, as her simple statement helped illustrate how integral a morning routine, with a healthy bowel movement, could be. Lest you ever find yourself grimacing because you too have not had a good morning poo, we’ve got you, boo.
Pooping is a common problem in the United States, affecting all ages and populations. About 16% of adults, and 33% of adults 60 and older have symptoms of constipation.
What are symptoms of constipation?
< 3 bowel movements per week
stools that are hard, small and difficult to pass
a feeling of having incomplete bowel movements
Who could be at risk for Constipation?
Pretty much everyone. But more specifically:
• Pregnant women and those who have recently given birth
• People who are not getting enough fiber
• Those taking certain supplements or medications (including iron supplements or diuretics, calcium channel blockers, depression, and pain medication)
• If you’re stressed you’re probably not going to be pooping very well
• Those with certain health conditions or gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. IBS)
Constipation can be a sign of a medical problem so you’re going to want to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to rule more serious issues out.
5 Tips for a Good Morning Poo
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1. As a general principle, you want to ensure you are drinking enough water. This seems basic and so many people skip over this, but don’t. When the body isn’t properly hydrated, it draws water out of the colon, which results in hard, dry stools.
2. This goes along with #1; get enough fiber into your diet. Plant foods are a great way to achieve this; however, if you increase your fiber intake without getting enough water, you’re going to have more ‘plumbing’ issues. Adults should get at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
3. Move your body and get your bowels moving. Whether it’s a light morning jog, walk, or even jumping jacks, this could help move things along your digestive tract.
4. Hot beverages. The heat from tea, coffee, or hot water and lemon can help stimulate a bowel movement. The high levels of caffeine in coffee are known to stimulate the bowels. A word of caution, you don’t want to have to rely on this.
5. Squat it out. A toilet stool or Squatty Potty can put your body in a position to make elimination easier.
Remember, talk with your friendly registered dietitian-nutritionist to investigate the amounts and types of fiber in your diet as well as to plan more fiber-rich meals.