Tag Archives: healthy

Psyllium Husks: Ugly Name, Pretty Sweet Benefits

Awhile back, I noticed that a lot of vegan and vegetarian recipes we were looking into requires psyllium husks. Of course, we didn’t need them right away so I didn’t think much of them and didn’t wonder much, either, but when I happened upon them at Wegman’s, I picked up a jar of ground psyllium husk and figured, well, when we need them, we’ll have them.

There they sat in my cabinet. Probably about a month went by. Then, I decided to start doing that thing I do where I obsessively look stuff up until I learn all I need to learn.

And here’s what I learned about psyllium husks.

They’re VERY fibrous. Insoluble fiber, so, drink your water everyone. The little grains are naturally gel-coated and can thicken things up quite a bit — I’ve been using them in smoothies and in my lone milkshake this week, and it really adds a pleasing silkiness/thickness to things. I read that psyllium can expand up to TWENY TIMES it’s original size — so eat only a little and eat with care, and take plenty of water since it’s absorbent. Too much psyllium and you’ll get the opposite effect from it’s fiber, by the way, because of it’s absorbency and it’s tendency to swell up. It’s great for scrubbing out your intestines and can also improve heart health by binding to non-heart-friendly-things and getting them the heck out of you before you absorb them. It’s also a natural laxative (fiber, duh) which is great for folks who are wary of unnatural supplements or supplements that change the way the body processes things. All psyllium does is expand, bulk up, and scrub out your intestines — no manipulation a of the body there, really.

So lately I’ve been adding it to my morning smoothie and it really gives it the consistency of a chocolate shake! I recommend it to anyone looking to bulk up their fiber or thicken their liquids. I read somewhere that one woman puts it in orange juice? Madness.

Two teaspoons, the recommended daily dosage, is 9g of fiber and 0PP!

Hard to beat.

Plus, the stuff is cheap.

Check it out next time you’re near your grocery’s organic section!

Whip up a milkshake or a smoothie or a weird orange juice.

Your heart, belly, intestine and waistline will all thank you for it!

Advertisements

Introducing my best friend, Quinoa.

I’m getting increasingly mad at my vegetarian and vegan friends, because I made ANOTHER discover that they never told me about.

Quinoa.

I have discovered quinoa, and am forever changed.

I type before you as a different woman than who I ever was before I met that round, crunch grain.

I did some research, and wouldn’t you know, Weight Watchers describes quinoa as a “Most Valuable Ingredient.” This pleased me. I discovered that one cup of quinoa is 5PP, which is a lot (to me, with only 29 PP a day), but if paired with low-point ingredients may well make things worthwhile. I further investigated, and word on the street is that quinoa is filling, tasty, and can be paired with, like, anything. My life flashed before my eyes.

Quinoa instead of barley in soup.

Quinoa in oatmeal.

Quinoa and fruit.

Quinoa and vegetables.

Quinoa in smoothies?

Quinoa by itself.

Quinoa with chicken broth.

Quinoa with beef broth.

Quinoa with NUTRITIONAL YEAST (a match made in heaven).

Quinoa forever, always and all ways.

There are so many possibilities and I, apparently a latent Pokemon believer, feel like I’ve “gotta catch ’em all.” I’ve made the grain twice so far — both times totally winging it, recipe-wise.

Attempt One:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
A bunch of parsley, salt and pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 can of spinach, drained
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained

Makes two bowlfuls.
Each bowlful: 13 PP

(Kind of a lot, but if it’s dinner, then it’s a full dinner.)

Attempt Two:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups beef broth
3 teaspoons garlic
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (yeaaaaah baby, Austin Powers-style)
1 can of spinach, drained
1 can of low-sodium tomatoes and okra

Makes two bowlfuls.
Each bowlful: 10PP.

(Not bad, PPwise)

Obviously, I just kinda wing it with the spices. I put in whatever “smells right” to me, and so far, I’ve not been led astray. I can tell you though in all honesty that both dishes were tasty, filling, full of protein and iron and nutrients, and very satisfying. There’s definitely a powerful spinach taste, when one uses the full can of spinach, but I don’t mind and neither did Chelsea.

I’m particularly interested in quinoa and in making dishes with it where all the ingredients are nonperishables. Yes, Chelsea and I eat incredibly clean most of the time and usually opt for fresh produce, but there is A LOT to be said for knowing how to quickly prepare a satisfying, healthy, and nutritious meal using things that can exist in the cupboards whether or not I get to the grocery store that week, whether or not I have time to chop and prepare, whether or not there’s room in the fridge for the veggies. You know? That’s not nothing.

And so, friends, I have come to deeply love quinoa. It’s delicious, gives me a lot of bang for my buck, can serve as a rice or barley substitute, and is easy to cook.

Welcome to my life, dear sweet little crunchyful grain.

PS: Check out this HILARIOUS blog, whose namesake is the topic of this blog post.

Recipe: Kale Chips

This one is for all the folks out there who have ever been monstrously mislead by some weirdo on YouTube about how to make my new favorite snack.

You’ll need:

Ingredients:
1 bunch of kale
1 can of cooking spray
1 unlined baking sheet
1 good size mixing bowl
AND whatever seasonings you want

Directions:
(Before you begin, pre-heat oven to 350)
1. Tear the kale from its stems and DRY IT THOROUGHLY (if it’s wet, those babies’ll burn)
2. Place in mixing bowl
3. Spray with baking spray
4. Season
5. Toss
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until satisfied
7. Put in SINGLE LAYER on baking pan (layer them and they’ll burn or be mush)
8. Use multiple pans if you need to — and remember, kale shrinks when baked
9. Bake for 10-13 minutes, depending on the size of the batch.
10. Gently brush off pan and into bowl when done baking.

VOILA. Delicious kale chips.

I think I want to start going by KALECHIPZ as my Part-Time-Vegetarian-Rap-Name.

“The Part-Time Vegan.”

Chelsea and I say all the time that we’re “kinda” vegetarians and “kinda” vegan. I recognize the contradictions inherent in those statements — those ways of life are all in/all out. But we are far more conscious, ecologically speaking and nutritionally speaking, than the average American omnivore. We’ve learned, through WW, to make a lot of small and healthy swaps that re-energized what we thought food could do for us, and we feel somewhat better knowing that our decreased consumption of animal products means we’re not buying into (as much as we used to) an economy that hurts animals and uses them for capital gain.

That all being said, I found this article from Salon to be a really great read. It’s called “Confessions of a Part Time Vegan,” and I hope you’ll all give it a read. This woman is spot-on throughout.

Recipe: Cabbage Soup

This soup is one of my absolute favorites — I’m Polish, and my Gram’s Halupki (Piggies in the Blanket) are one of my favorite foods. This soup gets the same textures, tastes and smells for about 1/5 the effort. AKA: It is a masterpiece.

It also makes a TON of soup, so prepare accordingly.

PP for a 3-cup Bowl: 5

Yes, you read that right. It’s healthy, it’s low-fat, it’s low-carb, and it’s scrumptious.

And so, without further ado —

Cabbage Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

1 medium head cabbage, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
8 cups water
1 teaspoon beef boullion granules
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1.5 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
2 cans (15 oz EACH) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup

Directions:
In a stockpot, cook the cabbage, celery and onion in water until tender. Add bouillon, salt, pepper, beef and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and ketchup; simmer another 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Yield: 20 servings (5 quarts).

Thanks to the brilliant minds at Taste Of Home for this recipe!

Oh, Brave New World!

Well, last night Chelsea and I made kale chips using nutritional yeast.

The result: nacho-style flavor and our absolute enchantment.

Chelsea saved the flecks of the stuff as though it were precious diamonds, gingerly lifting each chip.

And you guys really should’ve seen me make them, by the way: when I realized at the end that I had CHEETOH HANDS from tossing the kale, I almost gnawed my hand off.

I read in an article that the yeast is often referred to as “hippie dust,” a euphemism I thought was reserved for marijuana. But one learns something new every day.

The phrase is fitting, I think, because this cheesy confection is nothing short of magical. So many possibilities!

It was like that moment where I realized there were SO MANY SEASONS OF WEST WING that I could watch, and that the show would rarely feel dated because My Boy Martin Sheen is timeless. THAT is the type of joy I feel.

And so the world expands.

What else has been magical: the increasing number of Facebook comments, private messages, phone calls, and texts I have received from some of you guys, my dear readers.

And so:

1. First, I think it’s wonderful that so very many of you stop by here each day to read about my latest adventure! This blog has been getting anywhere between 40-80 unique hits a day. WOW!

2. I love that so many of you have told me that you’re finding laughter and perhaps even joy in my stories and in your own adventures related to health.

3. Several people have expressed enjoying that I’ve mentioned the cats. NOW YOU HAVE DONE IT, FOOLS: cat posting will become annoyingly frequent. Muahaha.

4. The biggest blessing about getting so much positive feedback is exactly what I’s hoped for: that by putting myself out there, some of you would come to learn that you are not alone, that there are folks in our own lives with whom we can discuss health, wellness and learning to love ourselves and our lives. The support and warmth and excitement I’ve felt from interacting with you all has been so marvelous — it makes me feel like the world is getting bigger and brighter. For me, and hopefully for you too.

So thanks for making my horizon expand while my waistline shrinks. Your love, friendship and support mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Namaste.

(Oh, except you vegetarian and vegan TURDS who KNEW all ABOUT nutritional yeast and never flipping told me. You are un-thanked. You let me down for 24 solid years. WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME OF ITS EXISTENCE? No Namaste for you!)