Archive for Tips and Tricks
Did you know that cranberries were called crane berries by the pilgrims because the stalks of the bushes look like the long neck of a crane? Cranberries have been used as a home remedy to prevent and treat bladder infections for many years, a practice that has now been confirmed by several studies as being true. Eating as little as one serving per week can lower the risk of a bladder infection by more than half. A recent study found that cranberries also defeat a number of food-borne bacteria, including staphylococcus, listeria, and E. Coli.
More dried cranberries are consumed than fresh which is unfortunate since the dried berries have only 20 percent of the antioxidant value of fresh berries but fortunately cranberries are so rich in nutrients that even when dried they can still provide many health benefits.
Fresh whole cranberries will stay fresh for about a week if you store them in a perforated bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Buy fresh cranberries now during the season and freeze to have on hand later in the year.
For a delicious fresh cranberry recipe try our Cranberry Relish.
My husband and I are polar opposites when it comes to eating. He was born and raised in South Africa – he’s only been in the US about 15 years and did not grow up eating much besides meat and potatoes. I grew up in Michigan and practically ate 24/7 out of the garden my Grandfather grew. When I talked about Naked Eating (or sometimes called Cleaning Eating) with him and about changing our lifestyle to reflect it, this was the response I got – “I’ll do it but I’m not eating yucky food and I’m not gonna start munching on broccoli.” Ok then!
He’s quite the sport though. He watched as I cleaned our whole house and got rid of any food that wasn’t natural and wholesome and didn’t make a peep. He tried every meal I put out for dinner – granted he doesn’t ask what’s in it – and he never said a word about going back to our old eating ways. He’s lost more than 20 pounds, has gone from borderline diabetic to normal readings and feels better about himself than he ever has.
He normally works from home but on the days he is at a client site he takes his cooler bag with him that contains all his meals. I actually write out a menu on a small sheet of paper so he knows when to have what. Here is a sample of the types of things he eats during the day…
My husband is a creature of habit. He loves starting his day with cookies. Yes, cookies! These breakfast cookies contain cinnamon (great for lowering blood sugar levels), raisins and cranberries (full of antioxidants) and chopped walnuts (a healthy nut!). He’ll usually have a fruit smoothie or glass of fresh orange juice with his cookies. On chilly mornings he’ll start the day with a bowl of oatmeal, whole grain toast with peanut butter or pancakes. He also has a large glass of ‘green juice’ every morning (it’s a mixture of spinach, kale, apple, pear, banana and a sea vegetable powder).
Did I mention my husband was a creature of habit? He seriously eats the same stuff everyday. It’s boring but it works for him! For lunch he usually has a hamburger and some potato chips. On colder days he likes to have cheesy taco bake or lentil shepard’s pie. I keep a supply of his meals in the freezer so all he has to do each day it pull one out and warm it up.
Grapes are probably one of his favorite snacks. He’s also a fan of pineapple, bananas and apples. If he’s not reaching for a piece of fruit he usually goes for some nuts. I always have some trail mix on hand and in a pinch he’ll gladly grab a handful of almonds. He’s also a fan of Kristy’s peanut butter protein bars. They are perfect for those afternoons when he’s lacking energy and needs a pick me up! Surprisingly, my veggie hating husband loves edamame. He’ll often have some for a snack if he hasn’t already had some for his lunch.
Some of my husbands favorite dinner meals are corn fritters, enchiladas, quinoa loaf, spaghetti and of course our favorite tacos. We usually have pizza once a week and even though he has burgers for lunch almost everyday, we still usually have burgers once every week or so. Most of the time our dinner meals are whatever recipes we are working on at the time. Since every recipe we feature on this site is taste tested it usually ends up being our dinner for the week.
Every night we walk about 3 miles outside. Weekends we tend to walk more, about 5-6 miles a day. We also like to bike with our children around the trails by our house. Our nightly walks are some of the most enjoyable time of our day. No phones, no emails – just fresh air and nature. Our goal is never to finish in a certain time or reach a specific heart rate level. We try to keep exercising from becoming something that is a chore – something you HAVE to do. Because we keep the time so enjoyable we rarely miss a night (when we do it’s because of rain or bad weather – not because we didn’t want to go).
I never thought I would see the day when my husband went from drinking 8-10 cans of diet soda to drinking water. But cold turkey he stopped! I like to add lemon to mine but he’s not a lemon kind of guy. He actually enjoys plain water now. We both drink more than the recommended amount of water per day and it’s one of the areas of our diet that we notice the change in the most.
While my husband does get a healthy dose of raw vegetables everyday, he isn’t one to load his plate with anything green. Because of this he takes a raw food vitamin daily. It ends up bringing his total vegetable intake up to the recommended amount. Although we don’t count calories he usually takes in about 1800-2200 calories a day. He eats about 4 times per day, but if he’s hungry he listens to his body and will grab another snack if needed. We also take a b-12 vitamin daily since we eat a strict plant based diet.
One of the questions my husband gets asked the most is how he gets enough protein eating only a plant based diet. My husband needs about 70 grams of protein per day. He easily hits that number each day. Each of his meals usually contains one or more of the following: sprouted grains, quinoa, tofu, lentils or other legumes. There is no lack of protein in our diet!
At The Naked Kitchen our goal has always been in creating whole food based, sustainable, nutrient-rich recipes and meals that everyone will love and enjoy. Counting calories, tracking fat and carbs and measuring sodium levels has never been our focus. Instead we want to encourage people to make their food choices count rather than count their food.
After being asked repeatedly to post nutritional facts on our recipes we finally gave in and started posting the data. Recently we stopped posting such information and many readers are left wondering why. In general, we are not fans of nutrition facts on recipes or packaged products. Neither label tells you anything about the health and nutritional properties of the actual food. Take a Lean Cuisine meal – Butternut Squash Ravioli. It has 260 calories, 7 grams of fat and 40 grams of carbs. How can you go wrong with 260 calories? Well, let me show you… what’s actually contained in those 260 calories? If you take a look at the ingredients list for this meal you’ll find that most of what you are putting in your body is modified chemicals and byproducts – yum! There is very little real nutrition in this meal and because you aren’t feeding your body real food it will most likely be hungry again in a very short time. I’m pretty sure a serving size of our Butternut Squash Lasagna has more than 260 calories, 7 grams of fat and 40 grams of carbs but with one serving you are providing your body with nutrient rich butternut squash, spinach, tomatoes and macadamia nuts.
Our views on calories and their effects on our body have been skewed and misdirected for so long now that we’ve forgotten how to eat healthy. If you have a 100 calorie apple in one hand and a 100 calorie pack of cookies in the other and you view this as the same – you can see where our erroneous judgement in calorie counting begins. All calories are not created equal!
When calories are burned in a laboratory they are indeed created equal and the same amount of energy is released. In a lab environment, there is no difference between 250 calories of apples and 250 calories of apple pie. If only our bodies worked the same way. Apples and apple pie are absorbed by our bodies at completely different rates and have different amounts of nutrients, fiber, fats, protein, carbs, vitamins – all these things affect health, weight, hunger and metabolic rate at the cellular level. When you eat more nutrients per calorie you’ll be better protected against disease, you’ll weigh less and be less hungry.
Remember, your body will continue to crave food/calories until you supply it with the nutrients it needs. The more nutrients you provide your body, the less hungry you will be. Calories are not created equal which is why at The Naked Kitchen we’ll continue to provide you with recipes and meals that will nourish your body. We hope you understand our decision to focus on real, nutrient rich food and less on nutrition facts and labels.
~Sarah and Kristy
The major biologic function of Vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It is used, alone or in combination with calcium, to increase bone mineral density and decrease fractures. Recently, research also suggests that vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, and several autoimmune diseases.
So how do we get Vitamin D in our diets? Well, Vitamin D comes from two places – we take it into our bodies in foods and supplements, and our bodies produce it after sunlight exposure. Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods like fatty fish (for example, cod liver oil) and egg yolks. Because there are so few natural dietary sources, vitamin D is added to foods such as fortified soymilk, fortified juice, fortified breakfast cereals, cow’s milk, and margarine. (Vegan spreads like Earth Balance do not have vitamin D added.) Typically, soymilk is fortified with vitamin D2, the vegan form of vitamin D, while cereals, juice, and margarine are fortified with vitamin D3 derived from sheep’s wool.
Besides vitamin D from food and supplements, our bodies are able to make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B rays from sunlight under certain conditions. It doesn’t take much sun to stimulate vitamin D production, just 5 to 30 minutes on arms and legs twice a week. However, this sunlight exposure only works at certain times of day and in certain seasons above certain latitudes (or below certain latitudes if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Vitamin D production is highest when the sun’s rays are most intense – between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the summer months. In locations above 42 degrees north latitude (Chicago, Boston, and Portland, Oregon, for instance), vitamin D production does not occur from late October through early March. Even as far south as Atlanta (about 35 degrees north latitude), vitamin D production doesn’t occur from November to February.
Factors like sunscreen use, darker skin pigmentation, clothing, pollution, and aging can reduce the amount of vitamin D we produce. Because of this and because of concerns about sun exposure leading to skin cancer, many people feel safer relying primarily on foods or supplements for vitamin D.
The current recommendation for vitamin D is 200 IU per day for children and adults up to 50 years old, 400 IU for 51-70 year olds, and 600 IU for those age 71 years and older. These recommendations are more than 10 years old. Because of more recent research on the role of vitamin D, experts are suggesting intakes of 800 IU or more per day for the average adult and 400 IU for children, with higher intakes recommended to treat deficiency.
If you have concerns about sunlight exposure or live in an area with limited amounts of sunlight each day then a daily supplement might be right for you. Our recommendation is DEVA Vegan Vitamin D 800 IU Tablets.
Want to have a little holiday fun that the whole family can participate in together? These easy to make gingerbread man ornaments will get you in the holiday spirit. Cue the Christmas music and let the fun begin.
- 1 cup ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 3/4 cup applesauce
- 2 tbsp craft glue
- 12-18 thin ribbons cut into 6″ lengths
- Assorted colors of acrylic paint
- Combine all the ingredients (except the ribbon and paint of course) in a food processor or large bowl if mixing by hand. Mix until the dough holds together well into a ball. If the dough is too dry add a little more applesauce. If the dough is too wet add a little more cinnamon. You should have a ball of dough very similar to sugar cookie dough consistency.
- Divide the dough in half. Roll out the first half into 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with a gingerbread man shaped cookie cutter. Place on a flat surface like a cooling rack or cookie sheet so that it can be put out of the way to dry for a couple of days. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Use a skewer or other sharp object to punch a hole at the top (be sure to punch all the way through) for threading the ribbon to hang on the tree.
- Air dry for 3-4 days turning over occasionally. If you happen to live in a warm climate you can leave them out in the sun, turning over once and they will be dry in about 8 hours.
- Decorate as desired.
- When the paint is completely dry insert a ribbon through the hole and tie the ends into a knot.
- Your ornaments are now ready to hang.
Makes approximately 12-18 ornaments depending on the size of your cookie cutter.
Ornaments will keep from year to year if handled carefully. Wrap in tissue paper and place in a box for safe keeping until next year.
A revered home remedy since Hippocrates’ day, apple cider vinegar is credited with everything from increasing metabolism and balancing the body’s pH to detox and joint health. One recent study showed that apple cider vinegar consumption lowered LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels, increased HDL cholesterol levels, and could help manage diabetes complications. Whenever possible, look for organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with a rich brown color and the dusty “mother” included. Always shake well before using.
For health benefits, proponents suggest drinking 2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar, dissolved in water and if desired, sweetened with coconut nectar or raw honey, twice daily. A splash of apple cider vinegar also livens up cooked beans, rice, brothy soups, coleslaw and creamy dips.
Making a simple salad dressing is a great way of adding apple cider vinegar to your daily meals. Combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive oil and season with chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, parsley, chives or rosemary. Drizzle over mixed greens and top with toasted nuts for a delicious and healthy meal.
Some other tasty ways to incorporate apple cider vinegar:
Everyone has heard about magnesium but do you really know what it’s good for? Eating plenty of nuts, beans and dark green, leafy vegetables appears to prevent stroke. Each of these foods is rich in magnesium and according to a new study involving nearly a quarter of a million people, indications are that magnesium intake is linked to a lower risk of ischemic stroke, the most common kind of stroke. For every extra 100 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a person eats per day, the risk of ischemic stroke (usually caused by a blood clot) dropped by 9 percent. It’s recommended that men ingest 420 mg of magnesium per day, while women need 320 mg. An ounce of almonds provides 80 mg and a half cup of brown rice contains 40 mg. Some other yummy options:
Raw Spinach, 1 cup loosely packed, 24 mg of magnesium
Dry Roasted Mixed Nuts, 1 ounce, 64 mg
Cooked Barley, 1/2 cup, 40 mg
Peanut Butter, 2 tbsp, 49 mg
Baked Potato with Skin, 57 mg
Pinto Beans, 1/2 cup, 43 mg
Banana, 34 mg
Frozen Peas, 1/2 cup, 23 mg
Here’s a delicious way to start your morning off right with a big dose of magnesium. Over half the ingredients in our Toasted Banana Breakfast Roll contain at least 30 mg of magnesium each. Reducing your risk of stroke has never tasted so good!
Source: ”Dietary Magnesium Intake and Risk of Stroke” by S.C. Larsson et al., Am J Clin Nutr, 2/12
I like to tell people that I lead a healthy lifestyle and while it’s true that I eat a very healthy diet, my lifestyle lately hasn’t been all that healthy. It seems the more I add to my plate the less able I am to cope with stress. It’s gotten so bad lately that I’m starting to experience some health issues related to stress. I’m clearly not alone on this issue. Every week, 95 million Americans suffer some kind of stress related symptoms for which they take medication (source). To help deal with the added stress in my life right now I’ve started using some natural techniques to relieve the anxiety that I’ve been feeling. Here are 10 of my favorite stress relieving techniques.
1. Breathing Exercises
Take a moment to close your eyes and focus only on your breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your diaphram move up into your ribcage and extend your belly outward as you inhale. Slowly push out your breathe as you exhale through your mouth. Feel the stress being breathed out of your body. It is no longer a part of you. Each breath should take 6 seconds to complete. Spend 3 seconds slowly inhaling through your nose and the other 3 seconds slowly exhaling through your mouth. Take 5-10 breaths like this and you’ll instantly feel more relaxed.
2. Listen to music
Sit back and relax to your favorite tunes. If you’re feeling nostalgic, put on something that will transport you to another place in time. Try to play songs with a positive or uplifting message. Listening to a program geared towards helping you relax works great too. Instrumental music as well as nature sounds are helpful as well. It’s really up to you to decide what type of music will help you relax the most.
Cardio exercise, like running or bike riding, is extremely effective for relieving anxiety. Exercise doesn’t just provide a physical release. You’re also providing a mental release as well. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling. If you can, grab a partner and take part in some exercise together. Not only will it help reduce stress but having someone to talk with is a great stress reliever too!
4. Get rid of clutter
Studies show that cluttered houses not only cause stress but weight gain and increase the rate of illness too. Time to clear the clutter out of your life. Start with just 20 minutes a day. Pick a room and sort through the things you need and toss the stuff you don’t. Have a pile of things you’d like to donate and not only will you clean the clutter but you can feel good knowing that you get to donate your items to a good cause. Having an organized house and/or office space will help you stay organized and can greatly reduced the stress in your life.
5. Get a massage
Take the time to treat yourself to a massage. You deserve it. A massage is not only relaxing, it also promotes healthy blood circulation and overall well-being. If a massage isn’t in your budget ask your spouse or a loved one to pamper you for 30 minutes or so. A simple neck and back massage can greatly reduce the tension in your body that is caused by stress.
Escape to another place and time. Live in someone elses shoes for a while and leave your troubles behind. Reading is actually another form of meditation. You leave your own thoughts and simply follow a scripted story. You’re essentially just going along for the ride and forgetting the world around you. It doesn’t matter what you read as long as it takes your thoughts elsewhere. This is a healthy break from things and will relieve anxiety within minutes.
7. Take a hot bath
Turn the lights down low, put on some soothing music and let your muscles relax as you sit in peace in the calming water. Light some candles to create an even more tranquil environment. Add some bath salts, bubble bath or your favorite aromatherapy and create your own getaway spa right at home.
8. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is visualizing something or someplace that calms you. When you feel anxious or stressed, close your eyes. Picture a serene setting where you’d love to escape to. It’s good to make your vision as detailed as possible. Become completely emersed in the escape and leave your anxiety out of the picture.
Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally. If stress is causing you to have trouble sleeping spend time each night winding down from the day. Have a hot bath, read a book or listening to some relaxing music with the lights off while lying in bed. Let yourself get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Starting the day off feeling refreshed and rested will help you more easily deal with the stress in your life.
10. Learn to say “NO”
Know your limits and learn to stick to them. We live in an age of multitasking and it’s stressful. If we’re not doing 10 things at once then we’re falling behind. Write down the tasks that need to be completed and say “NO” to added responsibility when you know you can’t handle any more. Stick to your list and as you check off the completed items, add more as needed.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the stress in your life? What’s your favorite stress reliever? We’d love to hear what tips and tricks you have to deal with the daily pressures of stress.
The last day of our 5 day juice detox was by far the hardest day. We dreamed of food all day and couldn’t stop talking about what foods we would eat come Saturday morning. In reality, one of the most important parts of juice detoxing is breaking your fast properly. As much as we dreamed of stuffing our faces with food, starting out with a simple, easy diet is the best thing to do when ending your fast.
Chewing – Welcome Back Old Friend!
On Saturday morning the first thing we did was have a veggie juice drink for breakfast! Seems silly since we were officially off our fast but our main goal was to slowly add whole foods back into our diet. Along with our juice we each had 2 Breakfast Cookies. As little whole food as that was we were both stuffed after breakfast. When you’re adding fiber back into your diet after a detox it’s important to drink as much water as possible. We both made sure we stayed super hydrated all day Saturday. For lunch we both had a small bowl of Creamy Potato Onion Soup (recipe coming soon) and another veggie juice. Soup is a great meal option when you’re breaking a fast! Some other soup recipes to try would be our Pho Noodle Bowl, Lentil Vegetable Stew, Tuscan Bean and Rice Soup or Kale, Squash and Potato Soup. For dinner I made some Crispy Fried Rice for my husband and I opted to have a Chopped Salad with Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing. All of our meals were MUCH smaller than we previously would have eaten. Yet as small a portion as we had we both felt full after each meal.
Because we slowly added whole foods back into our diet neither of us experienced any digestive problems. We both drank a lot of water and by the next day we both felt like our systems were back to normal. We did avoided spicy foods, desserts and grain heavy items for the whole weekend.
Weight loss was never on our list of reasons for doing a juice detox but both my husband and I did lose weight. He lost 11 pounds and I lost 6.5 pounds. We didn’t weight ourselves until Monday morning but at that point in time we had both regained 1 pound each.
Our main reasons for doing a juice detox was to break ourselves of daily midday snack in which we would normally overeat and to get more in tune with our hunger cues. We were successful with both of these goals and I’m happy to report that on days when we do have a midday snack that the portion size has remained snack size!
One of the biggest benefits of our juice fast was the incredible sleep we had each night. We each experience some of the most solid and fulfilling sleep we’ve ever had. We both remarked on many occasions that the sleep alone was worth doing the detox for.
Because of our amazing sleep waking up in the morning left us feeling refreshed and energized. We enjoyed getting out and exercising each day and many of our to do items were finally crossed off our list. Having that extra energy seems to to give us a boost each day that we previously didn’t have.
Our diets, pre-detox, were extremely healthy so we didn’t have to worry about breaking any food cravings/addictions but for many that have diets high in caffeine, sugar and salt, juice detoxing is a great way to curb these addictions.
Overall, we both felt lighter, less bloated and clear headed. The time we saved from having to make meals, eat meals and clean up after meals left us with a lot more time for ourselves and we both enjoyed the added free time that we got. We’ll definitely do a detox again, maybe not 5 days, but a 1 or 3 day juice detox is definitely in our future.
Luckily my amazing husband joined me on this adventure so I didn’t have to worry about being around someone who was eating all day. I did still have to make meals for my kids but I made quick and easy meals that mostly kept me out of the kitchen. Had I needed to spend time cooking and baking for my family this detox would have been a lot harder. Even when you’re not hungry, when you’re on a detox and you smell food, you want it! Going to the grocery store and smelling all the delicious smells was H.A.R.D.
Being a stay at home mom/blogger made being on a detox much easier than if I would have had to go into an office each day. It was nice not having to explain why I wasn’t eating and being at home made it much easier to make fresh juice for each meal. If you work full-time you’ll have more of a challenge than I did. You’ll have to pre-juice all your meals ahead of time and be ready to explain (and maybe defend) your detox diet. But don’t let a full-time job keep you from doing a detox. Find some time either the night before or the morning of to get all your meals juiced and ready to go. Bring a cooler with you and fill it with your juice for the day.
Being clean eating vegans means that going out to eat is pretty much unheard off but if you’re used to eating out or going out with friends after a day at work be prepared for some hard choices. Being around alcohol and food later in the day is not easy. You’ve made it through the day and your willpower will probably be waning at this point. If you can avoid restaurants and food centered gatherings I highly recommend it. If that isn’t a possibility then make sure you have a juice ready so you can at least sip along during your evening out.
I never would had thought that I would be able to go 5 days without eating food. Completing the 5 day juice detox gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment. I was proud of myself and my husband for having the will power to do it. We both learned a lot about our bodies and what they are capable of handling. The lack of headaches and common juicing related side effects were never things we experienced. It was great to have confirmation that the plant based diet we strictly follow is the best diet for our bodies. We also were able to confirm that neither of us have gluten allergies as we successfully added gluten back into our diets without any side effects. Overall, I still believe that a diet based on eating whole, organic, unprocessed foods is the best lifestyle there is. Do you need to juice to improve your lifestyle? No, but I’m glad we did it and having our morning green juice is definitely here to stay!
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