5 Super Gluten-Free Grains You Should Be Eating

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Whole grains are extremely nutritious offering benefits such as:

* Maintaining weight
* Fighting off heart disease
* Keeping the cholesterol level low
* Maintaining regularity
* Keeping a healthy metabolism

Fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and iron are just a few of the extra value-packed nutritional benefits of grains.

But for those of us with Celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet, you may be thinking that your choices are slim to none, but that’s not necessarily true.

Many people are aware of the most common grains but there are some little known grains that are gluten-free naturally and pack a powerful healthy punch if you include them into your diet.

Quinoa

Although most people think of it as a grain, quinoa is actually a gluten-free super seed, from the Goosefoot plant, and is part of a group of pseudocereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain. It can be cooked and used in recipes just like rice, but this little seed packs a powerful health punch. The history of quinoa dates all the way back to the Inca civilization. The Incas considered it to be a sacred grain and for a very good reason. Quinoa is considered a complete protein. It is also full of fiber. Quinoa is a perfect way to start your morning, and the fiber will help you feel full for the day.

You can add things such as chicken broth and eat it for lunch, or add some honey and maple syrup with cinnamon for a tasty and nutrition-packed breakfast.

Chia

Just like the Incas and their quinoa, the ancient Aztecs knew that chia was a powerful substance and main staple for their diet. Chia is super packed with Omega 3’s, loaded with protein, and one of the lowest carbohydrate grains. For this reason, many athletes are turning to chia as part of their daily winning game. Being high in antioxidants increases the value of chia in your diet as well.

Amaranth

The ancient Aztecs also knew that this grain was valuable to them. They not only included it into their everyday diets but also offered it as part of various rituals and ceremonies. Plant proteins, amino acids, lysine, calcium, vitamin C and iron as well as a high fiber content make this particular grain the one that has it all.

Buckwheat

Also a seed or more commonly called groats, buckwheat is packed with protein and fiber, but is also naturally gluten-free.  One cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains:

  • 6 grams of protein
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 33 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • 1.5 grams of sugar
  • 86 milligrams of magnesium
  • 118 milligrams of phosphorus
  • 6 milligrams of niacin
  • 1 milligram of zinc
  • 34 milligrams of iron
  • 0.13 milligrams of vitamin B6
  • 24 milligrams of folate
  • 0.6 milligrams of pantothenic acid

And all of that is just 155 calories. Buckwheat flour is an excellent substitution to regular gluten-free flours especially for pancakes for breakfast. Here’s a recipe for buckwheat pancakes

Sorghum

Sorghum is actually a grass and just a few of the health benefits of sorghum are:

  • naturally gluten-free
  • high in fiber
  • a good source of antioxidants
  • helps to balance blood sugar because it is digested slowly
  • helps fight inflammation, heart disease and cancer

When using sorghum in gluten-free baking, it mimics gluten, so it helps to make your gluten-free bread more elastic and better tasting.

I hope you try some of these little known, gluten-free “grains” in your baking and cooking. Let me know in the comments below if you do.

5 Foods That are Healthy and Make You Feel Great

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It never ceases to amaze me that people will pop over-the-counter medications for every possible ache, pain, mood or ailment, but never think to look at what they are eating as possibly the source of their ailments, or that food could be a source of empowerment.

Despite what the pharmaceutical companies lead us to believe, we can find “cures” for most minor maladies right in our own garden, provided by Mother Nature. She has given us all that we need for a healthy, well-balanced diet and the tools that we need to get through our day, our week, and our lifetime healthy and happy.

While most every food has its benefits, here are just five of the most worth mentioning:

1. Chicken – Grandma had it right when she made us chicken soup for our colds. The white meat found in chicken contains the essential vitamins B12, B6, and B3. Chicken can assist in lowering your risk of stroke and also boost your mood. Chicken is low in fat (especially with the skin removed) and high in protein. Besides all the nutritional benefits, chicken is so versatile; it can be cooked in so many ways using a variety of tools such as the outdoor grill or an indoor rotisserie. And the B vitamins provide a host of benefits such as:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Fighting off anemia
  • Maintaining healthy blood cells
  • Warding off heart disease
  • Increasing energy
  • Converting carbohydrates into energy

2. Broccoli and Salads – Broccoli and salads, especially salads made with leaf spinach, have many benefits. Broccoli contains vitamins A, C, and E while spinach provides folate, which helps to maintain and produce newer healthier cells for the body. Vitamins such as A, C, and E help to boost the immune system; this could mean less time off sick and shorter duration of ailments such as the common cold.

3. Bananas – For a sweet treat any time during the day, reach for a banana. The benefits of a banana are numerous. You can choose to eat a banana as it is, or you can add it to yogurt, a smoothie, or a bowl of quinoa. (Pronounced keenwa)  Either way, you will gain the benefit of a quick energy boost that sustains you for several hours along with the mood-altering benefit of the B6 vitamin that bananas are rich in. In addition, you can even mash up really ripe ones and use them as a sweetener in baked goods, such a muffins, in place of the sugar.

4. Dark Chocolate – The good news is that good quality, dark chocolate has many benefits to help make you feel great. The cocoa in chocolate has heart-healthy benefits such as lowering your cholesterol and reducing heart disease. That’s not all; dark chocolate can lift your mood significantly with its tryptophan and magnesium. Grabbing a piece of high quality dark chocolate will not only help your heart, it will also help your mind.

5. Gluten-Free Whole Grains and Seeds – Gluten-free whole grains* and seeds have been found to contain selenium which has been shown to significantly reduce depression. A good gluten-free whole grain bread with your favorite spread or even an all-natural peanut butter provides fiber, selenium, and protein. The nice thing about gluten-free whole grains is that you can mix and match them to make bread.

*Like Buckwheat, Quinoa, Gluten-Free Oats, Amaranth, Sorghum, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Teff, and Indian Rice Grass (aka-Montina)

Why Buckwheat Pancakes are Healthier

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For a short period of my life, when I was very young, my family used Buckwheat flour to make pancakes. My dad loved buckwheat pancakes, my mom…not so much. So after my dad passed away at the very young age of 50, my mom stopped making buckwheat pancakes.

Fast forward 30 years and I am back to making buckwheat pancakes. They are so much healthier than pancakes made with regular white flour or even gluten-free flours. There are so many reasons to love buckwheat. Here are just a few of them:

  • It’s naturally gluten-free
  • Provides a high source of Amino acids, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents.
  • Low in calories and fat
  • Supports heart health
  • May help prevent diabetes and digestive disorders
  • It’s unique amino acid composition lowers cholesterol levels, it decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL, (good cholesterol)
  • Helps to lower inflammation and blood pressure
  • Has a low glycemic index making it a good alternative for diabetics

Since buckwheat is naturally gluten-free it is a great choice for anyone with Celiac Disease or on a gluten-free diet. Here is my go to recipe for Buckwheat pancakes that taste delicious and are a healthier alternative to regular pancakes.

Buttermilk-Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • butter or refined coconut oil for the griddle

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your griddle over medium low heat, and brush with just enough butter or oil to coat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the first 5 dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the buttermilk, vanilla extract and egg. Beat together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together until combined and there may be a few small lumps.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop and pour batter onto the hot griddle. Cook until small bubbles start to appear on the top of the pancake, and the edges appear dry. About 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Flip pancake and cook on the other side about 1 to 2 minutes more or until a light golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a clean dish towel lined cookie sheet and wrap towel over pancakes, place in a warm (200 degree) oven to keep warm. Repeat until all batter is used, adding more butter or coconut oil as needed.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup, or honey.

Makes about 10, 3 inch pancakes.

3 Ingredient Recipe-Sauteed Beef with Tomatoes and Peppers

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Another tasty, delicious, simple, and easy meal that incorporates whole foods and optimum health benefits is beef with peppers and tomatoes. Lean beef that is grass-fed and organic would be the optimal choice here. The peppers and tomatoes are capable of producing their own yummy juices so you can have a tasty meal in minutes.

Now you might say that technically, this is really a 3 ingredient recipe because of the onions, garlic and soy sauce, but it is just as easy and quick.

Beef with Peppers and Tomatoes

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 pound of round steak
  • 2 medium green bell peppers*
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes

For seasonings, you will need whole pressed, extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. For sautéing purposes, you will need two cloves of garlic and 1 small onion.

Chop the onion and garlic, place inside the hot olive oil. Cut the peppers and tomatoes and add into the oil, garlic and onions that are sautéing. Salt to taste. Let the tomatoes and peppers wilt so they are both tender to the taste, but not too mushy and overcooked. They should be soft, but have a little resistance when bitten into. Cut beef into strips beforehand and add to the pan, stir-fry on both sides, adding soy sauce to the pan.

Stir well, cooking beef to your liking; preferably, a slight pink on the inside with the outer layers of the strips being nicely browned.

Again, if you like you can add this on top of rice or even some wide whole grain noodles. The juices from the peppers and tomatoes will be add a nice additional flavor to either the rice or the noodles.

If you would like more color in your meal, you could always use different colored bell peppers…such as green, yellow or orange.

Seven Snacks for a Delicious, Healthy New Year’s Eve Party

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When we think snacks, we automatically assume that it has to be chocolate, decadent, and unhealthy. However, with a little research and a little more creativity, we can have delicious and healthy. In other words, we can have our cake and eat it too.

When thinking healthy, we can always turn to Mother Nature for some great ideas. When thinking delicious, we can use our creativity to incorporate delicious with healthy.

1. Trail mix – Trail mix generally got its name from the simple fact that hikers would munch on this mix of fruit, nuts, and seeds in an effort to keep their energy levels high while hiking. However, Trail mix has come a long, long way. Nuts of any variety such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews and shelled pistachios have replaced the typical peanut in trail mixes. Cranberries, dried apricots, and raisins give trail mix an added boost of energy and a delightfully sweet taste. The best thing about trail mix nowadays is that things like pure maple honey are added to give it a knockout sweet and salty taste.

2. Cheese – While some cheeses are higher in fat content than others, if you do your homework, you can find a satisfying cheese that is low in calories and tasty all at once. Brie cheese, for example, offers under 50 calories for a ½-ounce chunk.

3. Strawberries and cream – Strawberries offer an automatic, free of charge sweetness and with a little fat-free whipped topping, you have got yourself the makings of a delicious and healthy snack with very little maintenance included.

4. Apples and peanut butter – An oldie but goodie, apple slices with peanut butter makes a superb healthy snack packed with protein and vitamins. For variety, try different types of apples such as Granny Smith for a sweet and sour snack sure to please both sides of your taste buds.

5. Dip into healthy dip – A dip made up of salsa, black beans, low-fat sour cream, and guacamole is very low in calories and high in protein. The guacamole and salsa offer additional vegetables into our diet, and dipping into this dip will not be a guilty pleasure at all. For a little extra zip, add low-fat shredded cheese on top.

6. Potato skins – Potato skins have all the vitamins and minerals and get the least credit. They can be stuffed with any variety of things such as low-fat or cheese and low-fat sour cream, topped with chives, olives, and tomatoes. These are a satisfying yet healthy snack for an appetizer or party, or just for anytime.

7. Potato chips – You can most certainly make your own version of healthy potato chips, either in the microwave or in a frying pan. Frying your own sliced potato chips with olive oil is a healthier alternative as well. Adding extra flavor such as vinegar or parmesan cheese really gives these homemade healthy treats a kick of flavor. You can also switch it up a bit and make sweet potato chips. They are higher in vitamins and minerals and lower in fat.

By snacking on things such as these chips and dips, you allow yourself a treat that is both healthy and delicious rolled into one.

Dealing with Grief during the Holidays

My Mom

Dealing with grief or feeling sad when everyone expects you to be happy is rough.  This is a subject pretty near to my heart. I lost my mother just two days before Christmas in 2012. She was 89, had congestive heart failure and had suffered a massive stroke, so we were expecting it, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

If you are experiencing grief this year, know that you are not alone, we all have periods of  sadness during the holidays. Some years are wonderful with few worries and plenty of everything. Others are leaner, more troublesome, and just plain sad. In the good years, the holidays are a lot of fun, but during the sad times, we may not enjoy Christmas all that much, and that’s ok.

There’s a lot of pressure put on us my media and society alike to put on a smile be “merry and bright” during the holidays. We’re magically supposed to be in a good mood on Christmas no matter what’s going on in our lives or around us. Yes, you should hide your pain and sorrow and smile through the tears for your kids. Of course you don’t want to ruin Christmas for those around you. But let’s face it, sometimes life sucks and when it happens around Christmas, it’s hard to put on a show of good cheer.

There’s nothing wrong with being sad around the holidays. If you’ve recently lost a loved one and are facing your first Christmas without them, it’s perfectly normal and healthy to be sad. You miss them, and not being able to share such a wonderful time of the year with this special person makes it harder to feel joy and happiness. When something does put a smile on your face, you may even feel guilty.

Maybe you lost your job a few weeks ago and can’t give your kids the gifts they’ve been asking Santa for. Maybe a relationship fell apart and you’re still trying to figure out what your life looks like now. Lots of different things can happen that will take a lot of the joy out of Christmas. And that’s ok.

Despite the picture TV shows, movies, and Christmas stories paint, our troubles don’t magically go away come Christmas Eve. We are still grieving, broke, and feeling lost. And that’s ok. Life isn’t always perfect. It’s messy, complicated, sad, and sometimes just plain sucks – even on Christmas.

My best advice when you’re having a tough time during the holidays is this. Don’t feel pressured to put yourself in a good mood. Don’t expect to feel better all of sudden. Get through the Holidays the best you can. Do what you need to do for the little ones, and then go and have a good cry. Be mad, be sad, or be angry. Feel what you need to feel to get through this hard period in life.

But also remember this. Things will look up and there are many happy days and happy Christmases ahead. Remember the good times and know in your heart that better times are yet to come.

 

 

 

 

Ruth’s Gluten-Free Beef Burgundy

Christmas Eve at my house can be pretty hectic. Depending on how ready I am, there can be everything from baking going on to presents being wrapped. I don’t always have time for making a decent meal for dinner and get us out the door to Christmas Eve services, so I love this recipe. It’s easy, delicious and can be made in the crockpot.

This recipe is my mother-in-law’s recipe.  She would serve this when my sister-in-law and her family would come to visit for the weekend from Gettysburg and we were all there to eat.  She was a fantastic cook and an immaculate housekeeper until she developed Azheimers disease.  Just about anything she made was delicious, and I learned a lot about cooking, and canning from her.

She and my father-in-law moved in with us in 2001 and lived with us until Dad passed away in 2002.  He was Mom’s thread to reality and after he was gone, she went away from us (mentally) very quickly.  We lost Mom in September of 2010. Just two days after my third granddaughter was born.

Sorry for my rambling, I just wanted to give a little background about this recipe.  Anyway, here it is:

Ruth’s Beef Burgundy

  • 2 pounds beef cubed (about 1 inch cubes)
  • 8 small onions peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups Burgundy wine  (make sure it is a gluten free variety)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped*
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of Garlic crushed or put through a press

Brown Beef cubes and onions in margarine.  Add wine, water, mushrooms, mushroom liquid, salt, pepper, sugar, bay leaves, and garlic.  Simmer covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.  Stirring occasionally.** (Personally, I think the flavor gets better the longer it cooks.)

Before serving, thicken with your favorite gluten free thickener.  I use my all purpose rice flour mixture and water.

* (I used to leave the mushrooms out, because I didn’t/don’t like them, but there is such a health benefit to them that I now add them in. I just chop them very small.)

**If you want to use a slow cooker or crockpot:

Brown the beef cubes and onions in margarine in a skillet, then transfer to the crockpot and add all the rest of the ingredients and cook on low 8 to 10 hours.

This recipe as is serves 6, but can be easily doubled for larger families.

Serve over either rice or gluten free noodles.

In my opinion, this recipe is better the longer it cooks.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.  Happy Holidays.

3 Ingredient Recipe-Lemon Chicken

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At this time of year, who has time to prepare elaborate dinners for your family. Let’s face it with all the holiday running around and holiday preparations, who has time to cook? Well this week I’ll be bringing you healthy 3 ingredient recipes.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can make it the night before. The more you marinate the chicken, the better the flavor will be when you cook it the next day.

You will need to adjust the recipe according to your family size, of course, but here is the basic recipe:

Other than spices, oils, and seasonings, you will need three ingredients: chicken, spinach, and brown rice.

You will need to marinate the chicken:

  • 6 chicken cutlets (the preference here would be organic chicken)
  • Juice of 2 whole lemons
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Marinate the chicken, lemons, and garlic with the added salt and pepper to taste overnight, covered with plastic wrap in your refrigerator. The chicken will absorb the lovely flavor of the combination of lemon and garlic.

The following evening, all you have to do is take 2 cups spinach; chop it up, and sauté in some whole pressed extra virgin olive oil and 1 small chopped onion, adding salt to taste.

Cook the chicken breasts for approximately three to five minutes, but judge by your view of how the chicken is cooking. When it is lightly browned and no longer pink in the middle, your chicken is done.

When the spinach is sautéed and the chicken is cooked, pour the sautéed spinach on top of the brown rice, mixing well. Mixing well will allow for the olive oil and onion to flavor the rice, too. Place the marinated lemon chicken on top and you have a meal using spinach, brown rice, and chicken that is healthy, quick, and easy, as well as tasty.

 

Ideas to Start You Journaling

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So you’ve made the decision to start journaling for…your health, a weight loss journey, or just to get you through a tough time in your life. Regardless of the reason, getting started may be the toughest step to take towards routine journaling. One way you can get started on the right foot is through journaling prompts. These are questions or ideas that you can use to begin writing to develop the routine of journaling. Here are a few fun journaling prompts that can get anyone started.

What Would You Do If

Prompts that start off with the phrase, “What would you do if,,,”, tend to lead to fun discoveries about yourself. You can find out how you would handle a situation. These prompts can be as dull or as fun as you want them to be, just remember what they do. They actually can show a lot about your personality, your reasoning skills, and critical thinking. You may never actually be faced with what you would do if 100 mice got free in a pet store you managed, but you will find out if you think logically in a high stress situation.

If You Were

If you were prompts can range from very serious questions, like if you were a lawyer, to very funny questions. The idea behind these prompts is to help you work out situations and see them from both sides. Some journaling enthusiasts call this type of a prompt the King Solomon prompt because you end up viewing it from both sides and actually thinking about what you would do if you were king or in charge of laws. These are ideal if you are a political or history buff.

Describe Your Dream Life

Description based prompts, especially ones that deal with your dream life, are very popular. These prompts help you work through what things are important to you and help you find out what things do not matter after certain issues in your life. Ideally these prompts are written so they can be reviewed at a later date. You review the post then look back and see what things no longer matter to you, and rewrite the post. Compare the two to see the differences in your lifestyle and viewpoints.

You can use prompts once in awhile, weekly, or even daily. There are some prompts that are specific to your goals, or you can go with random journaling prompts. You may also want to consider journals that are nothing but prompts.

Could Journaling Be Helpful in Keeping a Healthy Mental Attitude?

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The holidays is a happy time for most people, but for some, the holidays are a lonely, unhappy, depressing time. Be it the loss of a family member around this time or being alone when all the Hallmark commercials are showing big happy family gatherings.

Bipolar tendencies, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, stress related confusion, and paranoia are all mental issues that many people face. Though there are varying degrees of mental health issues and symptoms, many of the treatment options may not work for you. You may also be in a situation where you want to stay away from chemicals or simply cannot afford the insurance costs to get the ongoing counseling you need. Journaling may be an answer for your minor to moderate anxiety and mental health issues. Here are a few reasons why.

Rooting Out the Problems

When you journal, you’ll likely be doing it during an issue with anxiety or depression. This means your thoughts may be manic, fast, or very slow but emotional. As you write, you will likely start off with what you feel the problem is because that is the immediate issue in your mind. As you move through the writing, you may find yourself moving towards the root of the problem without even realizing it. This can help you find what the root issue is and fix that issue to prevent further mental health issues or, at the very least, reduce them.

Outlets When You are Alone

All too often, we find that our depression or mental health issues occur when we are alone. They may be in the middle of the night when no one is awake or during the day when your friends and family are busy with their own lives and responsibilities. This makes journaling ideal. You can still talk it out and get it out of your system, you are just talking to your journal instead.

Figuring Out Triggers

There is an issue with certain mental health issues. You know you are depressed, anxious, stressed, or about to have a bipolar swing but you may not know what brought it on. Journaling can lead you to figuring out the triggers. This allows you to pinpoint them, work through them through reviewing your journal entries, and remove them. Once you can remove the triggers, or avoid them, you can move into a better mental health state and reduce further reactions.

Though journaling will not cure mental health issues, it can help reduce some of the symptoms that cause your day to derail. If you are having increased stress and issues, consider seeking care from a community counselor for assistance.