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Are you an emotional overeater?

By Andrea Metcalf, nationally renowned exercise expert, Certified Personal Trainer, and Author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body.

Take this short quiz to find out. Tick on Yes or No.

I turn to food when I’m sad, disappointed, or lonely.    
I often eat past the point of fullness.    
When I’m upset, I crave sweets or salty snack foods.    
When I go to parties or dine out with friends, I tend to overeat.    
If I eat too much, I feel guilty afterwards.    
I eat more than I should when I’m home alone or bored.    
My moods have the biggest influence on when and how I eat.    
I like to nurture family and friends with food.    
I think about food a lot.    
I am unhappy with my weight, but I overeat anyway.    
Eating is my favorite activity.    
I tend to clean my plate; I don’t like to waste food.    
I binge habitually.    
The large amount of food I eat embarrasses me.    
Sugary foods tend to calm me down.    


Count up your yeses and your noes.

If you answered yes to eight or more questions: Your feelings of anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness, boredom, or even happiness might be causing you to overeat. And you are probably an emotional overeater. You may be eating too much or eating chaotically, but what you are really feeding is something in your life: relationship problems, broken dreams, financial worries, or problems at work. Try the strategies in this chapter, but don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

If you answered yes to four to seven questions: You may be struggling with some emotions from time to time. You are a borderline emotional overeater. At this point, it will be easier to get your eating habits under control by applying some of the strategies in this chapter.

If you circled three or fewer yeses:

The above is an excerpt from the book Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body by Andrea Metcalf. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

© 2010 Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Days Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body.

A simple quizz.

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The Sneaky Chef’s Earth Day recipes

The Sneaky Chef workshops, promoted by Missy Chase Lapine, is a program of recipes, cooking classes and demonstrations that teach families how to eat healthier.

Sneaky Chef brainy brownies 
Makes about 30 kid-sized brownies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Purple Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Flour Blend (equal parts white flour, whole grain flour, and wheat germ)
1/4 cup rolled oats, ground in a food processor
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Butter or non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter or spray only the bottom, not the sides, of a 13-by-9-inch or 9-inch square baking pan.

Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water (or in a microwave, checking every 15 seconds). Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool a bit. Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, and Purple Puree. Combine this purple egg mixture with the cooled chocolate mixture. In a mixing bowl, stir together Flour Blend, cocoa powder, oats, and salt. Add this to the chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Mix in the chopped walnuts, if using, then pour the entire mixture into the baking pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting the brownies and use a plastic or butter knife. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Keeps for a week in the refrigerator, covered tightly.

Sneaky Chef make-ahead recipe: Purple puree

3 cups raw baby spinach leaves (or 2 cups frozen chopped spinach, or frozen chopped collard greens)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no syrup or sugar added)
1/2  teaspoon lemon juice
1-2  tablespoons water

If using raw spinach, thoroughly wash it, even if the package says “prewashed.” Bring spinach or collards and water to boil in a medium pot. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. If using frozen blueberries, quickly rinse them under cold water to thaw a little, and then drain.

Fill the bowl of your food processor with the blueberries and cooked spinach, (or collards) along with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water, and puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push top contents to bottom. If necessary, use a second tablespoon of water to make a fairly smooth puree.

This amount of spinach and blueberries makes only about 1 cup of puree. Double the recipe if you want to store another cup of the puree. It will store in the refrigerator up to 2 days, or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

You find a few sample recipes from the cookbook The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals by Missy Chase Lapine, former publisher of Eating Well magazine and the founder of a natural baby product line Baby Spa®. We thought they might be of some interest to you.

From the author of The Sneaky Chef

© Missy Chase Lapine

Earth Day milk shake
Makes 2 servings

2 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt
4 to 6 tablespoons Green Juice (See Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Serve in tall glasses with a quick squirt of whipped cream and a straw.

Sneaky Chef make-ahead recipe: Green juice

3 cups raw baby spinach leaves (or 2 cups frozen chopped spinach, or frozen chopped collard greens)
1 cup water

If using raw spinach, thoroughly wash it, even if package says “prewashed.” Bring spinach or collards and water to boil in a medium pot. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a fine mesh strainer over a container or bowl, pressing the green “pulp” with the back of a spoon until all the liquid is released.

Store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers. This makes about 1 cup of Green juice. Double the recipe if you want to store another cup of juice.

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Money saving uses for a toaster oven

A toaster oven can be used for all the same things a regular oven would be used for. The only limitation it has is its size.

Yes, 20 lb turkeys will have to go in the oven, but it does not mean a toaster oven does not have advantages.

A toaster oven is far more economical and an excellent cooking source for those living in tight quarters such as college dorms. Toaster ovens are also portable if you’re heading to the cottage or having to stay in a hotel for any length of time. People who use them on a regular basis wonder how they managed without them.

Preparing food in your toaster oven not only saves time it also saves on energy bills.

The average oven takes approximately 20 minutes to preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  The average toaster oven takes less than half that amount of time.  Because the capacity space is smaller in a toaster oven, your food will be sizzling hot and ready to serve in approximately 3/4 of the time it would take in a regular oven.  Over time, these time savings amount to a good bit of saved money that can be used elsewhere.

Next time you are thinking about turning on your oven, think GREEN.  Dust off your neglected toaster oven, put it where it is easily accessible and start saving money right away. In most cases, if the food will fit inside the toaster oven, it can be cooked in it as well. The newest models are tall and feature 2 baking racks!

10 money saving uses for a toaster oven

Frozen Packaged Food – Anything you buy frozen that is prepackaged can be cooked in the toaster over.  Here are some examples. 

  • Personal pizza
  • Chicken fingers, nuggets
  • Meat Pies
  • TV Dinner
  • Entrees
  • Fish sticks
  • Pogos
  • Pastas
  • French Fries
  • Pies

Roasting – Anything you can roast in the oven, you can roast in the toaster oven.  If it is a food that drips juices it needs to be put into a small roasting dish.  Disposable pans are cheap at the dollar store.

  • Nuts, seeds
  • Potatoes
  • Marshmallows
  • Garlic
  • Small size meats

Baking – Your toaster oven bakes a cake just like a regular oven. 

  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Cornbread
  • Brownies
  • Any Pillsbury type rolls, biscuits, croissant
  • Bars

Melting – Good for melting an extra topping for another dish

  • Cheese
  • Garlic spread
  • Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar

Defrost – Most toaster ovens have a defrost setting.  Defrosting in the microwave can sometimes cook half the food, especially if one end is thinner than the other.  Toaster ovens defrost your food evenly.  Defrost anything that is frozen and needs to be defrosted before cooking.  You can’t make homemade hamburger patties out of frozen hamburger. 

Warmer – Toaster ovens have the ability to warm at a much lower temperature than a normal oven.

  • Dinner plates
  • Serving containers
  • Homemade bread
  • Buns
  • Bagels
  • Pitas

Broiler – Some foods can be nicely seared on the outside while preventing the inside from over cooking.

  • Meat of any type
  • Vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Cheese on top of garlic bread, onion soup

Reheating – Microwaves many times destroy the foods texture when reheated (soggy, hard).  They also cook the foods unevenly, cold in the middle, hot on the edges.  A toaster oven will reheat foods evenly leaving their original texture intact.  You can reheat any type of food in your toaster oven.

Crisping – If you like your food crisp then the toaster oven does a good job of it.  Foods that were originally crispy can be reheated in the microwave bringing the crisp back to life. 

  • Potatoes
  • Garlic bread
  • Breaded meats

Other advantages of having a toaster oven on hand

  • You can always use it for a second oven when planning larger dinner parties.
  • You can whip up an entire mean breakfast in no time at all.
  • Toaster ovens don’t project the heat that a regular oven does. If temperatures are already soaring in your dwelling you don’t want to add more heat from your regular oven.
  • Toaster ovens are affordable for just about anybody.
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Stainless steel cookware, best tools for the cooking Job

There is diverse and wonderful food all around the world, and trying it all is a fun and challenging task.

Making special foods that are favorites anywhere on this big planet takes a mixture of learning the proper techniques to cook the foods and using the best tools available for the job. When it comes to cooking, stainless steel cookware is the ultimate tool.

When looking for cookware that will last a lifetime, stainless steel is your best bet. Of course, there are varying degrees of quality, and you should understand what to look for when shopping for your lifetime cooking tools.

Stainless steel cookware made of 18/10 stainless steel, with aluminum encapsulated in the bottoms of each pan are the best quality and most even heating available. These are the pots and pans used by professional chefs around the world. The aluminum in the base heats up fast and there are no hot or cool spots. This cookware does not react with your food, or alter the flavor of it. It also doesn’t discolor from cooking, and is perfect for all of your favorite cooking techniques. Rolling boils, reducing liquids, and simmering sauces are all jobs stainless steel easily handles.

Some of the best stainless steel cookware have handles that are also made of stainless, so it can go from stove top to oven, but they stay cool on the stove top. Tapered rims help prevent drips when pouring, and tight seals on the lids lock flavors in for healthy and tasty meals. These great stainless pots and pans also great straight into the dishwasher and clean up good as new.

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Ash diets

There is an alcaline ash diet and an acidic ash diet.

Maintaining a healthy body is important. It is linked to longevity and happiness. The foods that you eat have a role to play in this process.

It may not seem like it, but the internal workings of our bodies are quite delicate. Each cell has to do its job to keep the machinery working like it should.

Alkaline ash diet

Consider the alkaline ash diet to keep your body in balance.

What is pH?

The body tries to maintain a state of balance called homeostasis. Part of this includes maintaining a normal, neutral pH factor. PH determines whether something is acidic, alkaline (base) or buffered. The scale runs from one to thirteen, with seven representing the middle or buffered state.

Acidic pHs are on the lower range, less than seven. Alkaline pHs are on the higher end, above seven. For optimum functioning, the body seeks to return to a level that is in the middle. The fluid in the body that runs over and through every cell and organ is the biological matrix.

When it is neutral, it is not reacting with other chemicals leading to dysfunction. It has been theorized that a body that is too acidic can lead to problems such as cancers, gastrointestinal issues, decreased immunity and a lack of overall well-being.

Going basic

The body can’t maintain its neutral pH without help. Part of the equation is the foods that we eat. Sometimes, the foods that we choose don’t seem like a big deal but they can dramatically change the make-up of our inner life.

When foods are broken down in the body and digested, they leave behind a residue called “ash.” That “ash” determines what type of effect those foods have on the body, whether alkaline or acidic. To return your body from acidic to a more neutral pH balance, more alkaline ash needs to be added to your body through your food.

Experts suggest that a diet that ensures a proper balance in the body needs to contain both alkaline and acidic foods. About 20 percent of the diet can be acidic while about 70 to 80 percent is alkaline foods.

So what are these foods and where can you get them? They are foods that we already eat except that we don’t always eat them in the proper proportions for optimum health. Here is an example of acidic foods: meats, dairy, saturated fats, alcohol and sweets.

Sweets or processed sugary foods are best eaten in moderation anyway. Alcohol is also best in moderation. Saturated fats are a contributor to high cholesterol and not the good kind either.

What about the alkaline side? Usually these are the foods that are healthier for you in the first place. Think of green leafy vegetables, most fruits, healthy oils (olive, flax seed), onions, honey, syrup and herbal tea. Eating more of them tips the balance inside towards alkaline and a cleaner, detoxified body.

Are you looking to change how you feel inside and out? Try an alkaline ash diet.

Acid ash diet

The acid ash diet is one way that people can keep their inner workings running full steam ahead.


PH refers to the acid or alkaline level in the body. Think of an Alka-Seltzer. Its job is to neutralize the acid in your stomach. They work wonders when you get an upset stomach. Too much acid is churning up and a base (or alkaline substance) is what you need to neutralize that acid.

Well, the internal environment of your body loves to maintain a neutral state. It’s called homeostasis. But, sometimes, the foods that we eat can swing the pH level to the acidic or the alkaline side. To counteract that and the effects within the body (high blood pressure and the threat of illnesses like cancer) that same food can be used.

Acidic Ash

Foods are made up of all sorts of smaller substances: vitamins, minerals, chemical compounds and so on. It is some of this residue, or “ash,” that is left behind when the body digests food. That residue determines the pH of your body’s fluid matrix. Too many of one kind of food is not usually healthy.

Experts have talked about the benefit of an alkaline ash diet to help eliminate some illnesses and to also increase immunity and energy levels. So, why would you need an acidic ash diet?

Have you ever had a stone inside your body, maybe a kidney or a gallstone? They are calcified deposits that become lodged in an organ. Stones can also contain other minerals like phosphorus or magnesium. When they move, they can cause intense pain and damage.

Acidic ash diets may be just what the doctor ordered for people who have experienced stones in the past or who are susceptible to stones. Increasing your acidic intake means knowing the right types of foods to eat to lower the alkaline levels in your body.

Here are a few of the foods that you can eat: meats, dairy, yeast, grains, chocolate, sugar and some fruits. Remember to add to your diet in moderation. Too many acidic foods can lead to a condition called acidosis, where there is a lower than normal alkaline presence in the blood – which is not healthy. At each meal, add a bit of extra protein in the form of meat to increase your acidic load. If you aren’t keen on meat, you can add dairy products or another of the food items from the list above.

Food plays an even more important part in how your body runs than even you may have realized before. An acidic ash diet may be prescribed for those who have certain health problems (stones).

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Buying mortar and pestle

Mortar and pestle, or molcajete and tejolote, as they call them, are used frequently in Mexican cuisine.


Adding a mortar and pestle, or molcajete and tejolote, is a wonderful way to incorporate simplicity, flavor and ambience into your kitchen as well as your meals. If you enjoy Mexican cuisine or just want to take advantage of fresh foods, consider adding this easy to use kitchen tool. Don’t let its simplicity fool you. For the best results, you’ll need to know what to look for when buying a Molcajete. This is another one of those items where one size does not fit all.

What to look for when buying a mortar and pestle

Here are a few things to consider before buying a molcajete and tejolote or mortar and pestle set.

Price – The price can vary, depending on the material from which the molcajete and tejolote are made and the size you choose. Molcajete sets typically range from $10 to $60.

Construction – A molcajete and tejolote set can be made from a variety of substances. Traditionally, they are made from volcanic stone but can also be made from granite, stainless steel, glass and ceramic as well as other materials. Some of these materials stain easily so are not recommended for frequent use. The key to choosing the construction material is to think about the importance of durability and frequency of use.

Dimensions/Capacity – If you plan to use this manual grinding set on a daily basis, you may not need a large capacity molcajete, or bowl. If your goal is to grind items in bulk, the larger bowl may be your better option. The three compared below range from 3/4 cup to 4 cups.

Weight – While heavier mortar and pestle sets tend to be more durable and authentic, they can literally be a pain to move. If you have arthritis or other problems lifting 10 pounds, you may want to choose a light-weight version.

Product Care – Depending on the material your molcajete set is made from, you may have a bit of extra work to do in order to clean and maintain your grinder set. For instance, you may need to season the set before initial use or may need to clean it by hand rather than use the dishwasher.

Extras – Some manufacturers may include a recipe book, care booklet, or storage pouch to help you maintain the integrity of your grinding set.

Comparison chart of features and consumer performance ratings


Vasconia Granite

RSVP Endurance
Authentic Molcajete




Volcanic Stone

Stainless Steel


7.1 x 7.1 x 3.5 inches
4 Cup

3 x 3 x 3 inches
3/4 Cup

4.1 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches
1 Cup


10 pounds

13 pounds

1.2 pounds

Dishwasher safe





Recipes & Care booklet

Non-Woven Protection Pouch

In order to get authentic flavor or take advantage of fresh ingredients, sometimes you need to use traditional tools and food preparation methods. When it comes to grinding nuts, seeds, herbs and spices on a daily basis, you just can’t beat a molcajete and tejolote set.

However, if you buy in bulk to save money, you may have a significant amount of grinding to do. In this case, you may prefer to save the wear and tear on your muscles and joints by using an electric grinder.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what to look for when shopping for a molcajete set or manual grinder.

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The power of food

As a nation, we are obsessed with food. Fast-food restaurants and their billboards clutter our city streets. Volumes have been written on the topic of food. Newsstands are littered with magazines about it, and there is even an entire television network devoted just to food. We savor it, discuss it, and even plan our lives around it. And we consume a lot of it. In the process, we’ve also managed to supersize our health risks dramatically over the past few decades.

The kind of food eaten has nearly as big an impact on health as the amount — and sometimes more. In fact, much of the malnutrition in the world can be attributed to unhealthy food or consumption of “empty calories” (highly processed foods lacking important vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients). Though it may seem surprising, many obese individuals are actually significantly malnourished.

But foods have both the power to harm and the power to heal. Understanding both sides of the equation is important. Rather than allowing food to have power over you, you can create a winning partnership with it. Proactive cancer prevention shifts the energy, placing emphasis on healthful fresh and whole foods packed with essential nutrients, turning calories into cancer-fighting fuel.

Utilizing foods as powerful tools for cancer prevention requires that you look beyond one of your most basic senses — taste. You need to evaluate food not just on its quick-fix satisfaction factor, but on its nutrient value as well. And as you get accustomed to healthier foods, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you come to appreciate their flavors more than old, unhealthy standbys — and not just because you know they’re good for you!

Sometimes what we ingest has clear ramifications. If you drink coffee daily, think back to a time when you tried to give it up or had to do without. Remember the headache? Have you ever experienced heartburn after too many pieces of pepperoni pizza or constipation after eating too much cheese? The good news is that this dynamic works both ways. You can prevent ill effects by avoiding certain foods, and even better, you can enhance your health by making certain food choices.

Some foods contain significant nutrients that help keep your body healthy and operating at peak capacity. Eating a healthy diet will give you the fuel you need to maintain an active pace and prevent illnesses, including cancer. While it is true that different people have different dietary needs and that what is healthy for one person may not work as well for another, there are some common denominators. Here are just a few examples of cancer-fighting foods:

  • Tomatoes contain the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which supports a strong immune system.
  • Whole grains contain lignans that positively influence hormonal activity. 
  • Citrus fruits contain flavonoids that enhance immunity.
  • Soy contains certain sterols that can reduce the development of some cancer cells.
  • Broccoli contains sulforaphane and other compounds that stimulate detoxification and immunity.
  • Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, contain indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown to have anticancer properties.
  • The peel of an apple contains phenolic compounds that help prevent unhealthy cells from dividing and spreading.
  • Kale is high in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber, which are all perfect nutrients to help prevent cancer.
  • Garlic contains several key compounds that inhibit the activity of cancer cells and help with detoxification.

Many of these foods share a common characteristic: they are colorful. At mealtime, look closely at your plate. If it is primarily white or beige, you need to add some color. Fruits and vegetables will add that color, as well as a healthy dose of potent anticancer nutrients.

Published by Celestial Arts; June 2007;$39.95US; 978-1-58761-280-0
Copyright © 2007 DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CANCER: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH FOR TREATMENT AND HEALING by Lisa Alschuler and Karolyn A. Gazella, published by Celestial Arts;

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Recipes from The Sugar Solution

Healthy recipes from Prevention’s The Sugar Solution

Weight Gain? Memory Lapse? Mood Swings? Fatigue? Your Symptoms Are Real. And Your Solution is Here by the Editors of Prevention magazine with Ann Fittante, MS, RD.

Greek-style lentil soup

1 pound brown lentils, picked over and rinsed  
9 cups water  
6 cloves garlic, minced  
3 large carrots, cut into 1/4″ pieces 
2 large onions, chopped 
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed 
1 teaspoon ground black pepper  
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
11/2 cups tomato puree
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (optional)

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the lentils, water, garlic, carrots, onions, thyme, pepper, and rosemary. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the tomato puree, salt, and cinnamon and simmer for 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat and stir in the oil, vinegar, and marjoram or oregano (if using).

Makes 6 servings (about 10 cups)

Per serving: 351 calories, 23 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 434 mg sodium, 26 g dietary fiber
Diet Exchanges: l1/2, vegetable, 2 bread
Carb Choices: 4

Indian-spiced potatoes and spinach

2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ chunks 
2 tablespoons canola oil  
3 large cloves garlic, minced 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1¾ teaspoons ground cumin  
¾ teaspoon ground coriander 
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
? teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups frozen cut leaf spinach (from a bag)
2-4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fat-free plain yogurt 

Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan with 1/2 inch of water. Place the potatoes in the steamer and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Cover to keep warm. Dry the saucepan.

Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Add the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Add the spinach and 2 tablespoons of the water. Cover and cook, tossing gently (add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed), for 5 minutes, or until heated through.

Place in a serving bowl. Spoon the yogurt on top and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 195 calories, 8 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber
Diet Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 bread, 1 meat, 1 fat
Carb Choices: 11/2

Pork chops with apple cider, walnuts, and prunes

4 pork chops (6-8 ounces each), each ¾” thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground rubbed sage  
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon walnut oil or olive oil
6 pitted prunes (2-3 ounces), chopped
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup dry white wine or apple cider
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts 

Season the pork with the salt, sage, and pepper.

Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned on the first side, for 4 to 5 minutes. If desired, hold the chops on the edges and cook the edges until browned, for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and cook until the second side is browned, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and pour off any fat in the skillet. Add the prunes, cider, and wine or cider. Cook, turning once or twice, until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted into the pork registers 155°F, for 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer to plates and spoon the prunes on top. There should be about 2 tablespoons of juices left in the pan. If more, cook over low to medium heat until reduced. Spoon over the pork and sprinkle with the walnuts.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 296 calories, 22 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 342 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber
Diet Exchanges: 3 meat
Carb Choices: 1

Reprinted from: Prevention’s The Sugar Solution: Weight Gain? Memory Lapse? Mood Swings? Fatigue? Your Symptoms Are Real — And Your Solution is Here by the Editors of Prevention magazine with Ann Fittante, MS, RD (September 2006;$24.95US/$33.95CAN; 1-57954-913-6) © 2006 Rodale, Inc. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling at (800) 848-4735.

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Superfoods for babies and children

Annabel Karmel brings you original ideas to help you cook quick, healthy and tasty meals for your children and the whole family.

Below you will find some recipes from the cookbook Super Foods for Babies and Children by bestselling author Annabel Karmel.

Recipes from Super Foods for Babies and Children

Baked sweet potato and carrot puree

From 6 months

Baking sweet potatoes in the oven enhances their naturally sweet taste, so this is a good puree to make if you are making a roast for the rest of the family, as you can just pop the sweet potato into the oven to cook alongside. It is also very tasty without the added carrot.

1 medium sweet potato
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons your baby’s usual milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash and dry the sweet potato and prick all over with a fork. Bake in the oven until tender (about 45 minutes). Meanwhile, steam or boil the carrots until tender (about 20 minutes). When the sweet potato is soft, allow to cool down a little, then cut it in half and scoop out the flesh. Puree together with the cooked carrot and the milk.

Alternatively, you can cook the sweet potato in a microwave. Pierce several holes in the potato with a fork. Place on at least two layers of microwave-safe paper towels. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Let stand for 5 minutes. Peel and puree with the carrot and a little of your baby’s usual milk.

4 portions

Sweet potato comes in two varieties: orange-fleshed and creamy-fleshed. Both have red skins and both are good sources of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. However, I prefer to use the orange-fleshed variety, which is also an excellent source of beta-carotene. This helps to prevent certain types of cancer and mops up free radicals.  

Baby’s Bolognese

Often it is not the taste of red meat that babies dislike but the texture, so here I blend the Bolognese sauce so that the ground meat becomes very easy to chew, and then mix it with soft pasta.

¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely grated carrot
5 ounces lean ground beef
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 ounces spaghetti

Sauté the onion and celery in the vegetable oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the grated carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and stir until browned. Stir in the ketchup, tomatoes, and stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the meat is cooked through (10 to 15 minutes). Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until quite soft. Drain and chop into short lengths. Transfer the Bolognese sauce to a food processor and puree to a fairly smooth texture before combining with the pasta.

5 portions

Red meat provides most nutritional needs apart from fiber. It is an excellent source of iron. Iron deficiency is the commonest nutritional deficiency in early childhood and leads to a serious medical condition called anemia if left unchecked. A baby’s iron reserves inherited from his mother run out around the age of 6 months, so it is important to include in the diet foods rich in iron.

Bow-tie pasta with salmon and tomatoes

Combining pasta with less popular foods like fish is a good way to encourage children to eat them. This tasty recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare.

6 ounces bow-tie pasta
7 ounces salmon fillet, skinned
1 pat butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon snipped chives
3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water according to the instructions on the package. Put the salmon into a suitable microwave dish, dot with the butter, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, pierce a few times, and cook for 2 to 2½ minutes, according to the thickness of the fish. Strain and reserve the juices from the fish.

Heat the sour cream, ketchup, and fish juices in a large pan, stirring until blended. Add the chives and tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 minute. Carefully flake the salmon, checking that there are no bones, and add to the sauce. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

4 portions

Salmon is good for the heart. Eating oily fish like salmon can help protect against heart attacks and strokes by helping to keep blood flowing freely, thus reducing the risk of a blood clot forming within a blood vessel. The darker the fish, the higher the levels of fat, so make sure that you include some dark fish in your child’s diet at least once or twice a week.

Mini vegetable burgers

These tasty mini burgers in a crispy coating are bursting with fresh vegetables and flavored with Gruyère cheese.

2 medium potatoes (do not peel)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup washed and finely chopped white part of a leek
1 cup chopped button mushrooms
1 cup frozen or canned corn
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seasoned all-purpose flour (flour mixed with a little salt and pepper)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

15 mini buns

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 25 to 30 minutes, then peel and grate. Meanwhile, melt the butter and sauté the onion for about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrot, leek, and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the grated potato, corn, soy sauce, cheese, parsley, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into 15 mini burgers, coat with flour, dip in the beaten egg, and then dip in the bread crumbs. Dip in the egg once again and then coat with another layer of bread crumbs to make a crispy coating for the burgers. Sauté in a small amount of oil in a skillet until crisp and golden on both sides. Serve on their own or in mini buns with a little lettuce and ketchup.

15 mini burgers

Onions and leeks have a protective action on the circulatory system that helps to prevent blood clots. With children eating more and more junk food, fatty deposits in the arteries can now be found in even the youngest of children, and in later life these deposits may lead to heart disease, as will arterial blood clots. When fat deposits and blood clots break loose and clog the arteries, the result is a heart attack or stroke. 

Mixed berry and white chocolate cheesecake

Crumb Crust
8 ounces graham crackers (2½ cups crumbs)
1 stick butter, melted
Vegetable oil for greasing

5 ounces white chocolate
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream

14 ounces mixed summer berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and red currants
2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 ounces white chocolate

To make the crust, put the graham crackers in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin; then mix with the melted butter. Press them into the bottom of a lightly oiled 8-inch loose-bottomed tart pan or springform pan (this can be done with a potato masher). Place in the refrigerator to chill.

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat in the cream cheese. Add the vanilla to the cream or, if using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the cream.

Whip the cream until it forms fairly stiff peaks and gently fold in the cream cheese and white chocolate mixture. Pour on top of the crust and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.

Once the cake is set, carefully remove from the pan. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Heat the jam with 2 teaspoons of water and strain through a sieve. Allow to cool for about 1 minute and gently brush over the fruits. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top of the fruits with a teaspoon.

8 portions

Summer berries are packed with vitamin C, which helps to strengthen the immune system and fight infection. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron.

Copyright © 2001, 2006 Annabel Karmel

About the Author

Annabel Karmel is the mother of three children, a bestselling author of books on nutrition and cooking for babies and toddlers, and a familiar face on British television. Annabel travels frequently to the United States, where her books on feeding babies and young children are very popular. She has appeared on many TV programs, including the Today show and The Early Show. Please visit, her website.

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Local or organic?

A couple of years ago, I visited an organic vegetable farm in southeast Minnesota, not far from the Mississippi River. Nestled in a valley that sloped down from rolling pasture and cropland sat Featherstone Fruits and Vegetables, a 40-acre farm.

Featherstone was part of a local food web in the upper Midwest, selling at a farmers’ market, through a CSA (community supported agriculture) and to co-op stores in the Twin Cities. But the partners, Jack Hedin and Rhys Williams, who began in 1995, were having a tough time economically and realized they would have to boost sales if they were to become viable. The farm earned about $22,000 a year — split between the two partners — so they had to take on debt to keep going; this, after a 60 to 70 hour work week.

Hedin told me he made some calls and eventually landed a deal with Whole Foods to supply the natural foods chain with organic heirloom tomatoes. When I visited, they were in year two of the contract, picking the tomatoes before their peak ripeness, then shipping them to Chicago for stores in the Midwest. The deal had become the biggest sales channel for their farm; while still “local,” they were not as local as when they sold in their backyard.

There was a lesson here, one that often gets lost in the debate about which is better, local or organic? Too often this is understood as a zero sum game — that the money you spend on organic food at the supermarket will mean less for local farmers. After all, the food you buy is being shipped from who knows where and then often ends up in a processed food product. I’ve heard the argument that if all the money spent on organic food (around $14 billion) were actually channeled to local food, then a lot more small farms would survive and local food networks could expand. Well, Featherstone was doing precisely the opposite: it had entered the organic wholesale marketplace and then sent its tomatoes hundreds of miles away to survive as a small and, yes, local farm.

As consumers, it’s hard to understand these realities since we’re so divorced from the way food is produced. Even for conscious consumers who think about values other than convenience and price — avoiding pesticides, the survival of small farms, artisan food, and, of course, the most basic values, freshness and taste — choices must be made. Should we avoid pesticides at all costs or help small local farmers who may use them? Should we reduce food shipment miles, or buy food produced in an ecologically sound manner regardless of where it’s grown? These questions arise because we want to do what’s right.

The problem, though, is that these questions set up false choices. What Hedin and others showed me was that when it comes to doing the right thing, what really mattered was thinking about the choice — to be aware, to stay informed, and to be conscious of our role as consumers. But what you actually chose — local or organic — didn’t really matter.

Hedin, for example, was competing against farmers he actually knew on the West Coast, who also supplied organic produce to Whole Foods. I met one, Tim Mueller of River Dog Farm, in the one-bar town of Guinda, California. His farm sold produce at the Berkeley Farmers Market about 90 minutes away, but he was also tied to wholesale markets. (I saw River Dog’s heirloom tomatoes in western Massachusetts.) For these organic farmers, selling wholesale was a foundation for economic sustainability.

Moreover, by expanding the organic market, we may be actually helping local farmers. The USDA surveyed farmers’ markets and found that about a third of farmers selling direct were organic — local and organic, that is. In comparison, just one percent of all American farms practice organic agriculture. So for smaller-scale farmers selling direct, organic food has become a key component of their identity. By bringing more people into the organic fold, through whatever gateway they happened to choose, the pool of consumers considering local food would likely increase too.

That’s at least what Jim Crawford, a farmer from south central Pennsylvania believed. His 25-acre operation, New Morning Farm, works two farmers’ markets in Washington, D.C., and Jim played a key role in the growth of local foods in the region, having started out as an organic farmer in the 1970s. He told me he worried when Whole Foods opened a supermarket near his farmers’ market location in Washington because he thought he would lose customers. But over time, he noticed, sales kept rising. He thought the supermarket, which stocked a lot of organic produce from California, was actually converting customers to organic food and they in turn were finding their way to his market.

But what about companies that have pursued the organic marketplace without any concern for local food? What about, say, Earthbound Farm, which has grown into the third largest organic brand and the largest organic produce company in the nation, with its bagged salad mixes in three-quarters of all supermarkets? The company fiercely competed with other organic growers who later went out of business; its salad was grown organically but with industrial-scale agriculture; and the trucks that shipped the salad around the country burned through a lot of fossil fuel.

But Earthbound was competing with the likes of Dole, Fresh Express and ReadyPac in the mainstream market to offer consumers an organic choice. It did little for local food (a saving grace, since it left the market to smaller players). But Earthbound farmed on 26,000 acres of certified organic land, which meant that 267,000 pounds of pesticides and 8.4 million pounds of chemical fertilizers were being removed from use annually, the company estimated. And as studies repeatedly show, organic farming also saves energy (since the production of fertilizer and pesticides consumes one-third of the energy used in farming overall). Earthbound’s accomplishments should not be ignored — even if they are anything but local.

Which brings me to a final point: How we shop. Venues like Whole Foods are not fully organic because people are often unwilling to spend more than a small portion of their grocery budget on organic foods. It’s too expensive. This is one reason why organic food accounts for just two percent of food sales — one percent if you include eating out. Similarly, local foods, though important, total 1-2 percent. So arguing over local or organic is a bit like two people in a room of 100 fighting over who has the more righteous alternative to what the other 98 people are doing. It doesn’t really matter, because the bigger issue is swaying the majority.

When I shop, visiting the Dupont Circle farmers market in Washington, D.C., on Sunday morning and then going to the supermarket, I make choices. I buy local, organic, and conventional foods too, because each meets a need. Is the local product “better” than the organic one? No. Both are good choices because they move the food market in a small way. In choosing them, I can insert my values into an equation that for too long has been determined only by volume, convenience and price. While I have nothing against low prices and convenient shopping, the blind pursuit of these two values can wreak a lot of damage — damage that we ultimately pay for in water pollution, toxic pesticide exposure, livestock health, the quality of food and the loss of small farms. The total bill may not show up at the cash register but it’s one we pay nonetheless.

So what’s my advice? Think about what you’re buying. If you want local food, buy local. If you want organic, buy organic. The point is to make a conscious choice, because as we insert our values into the market, businesses respond and things change. There’s power in what we do collectively, so is there any reason to limit it unnecessarily?

© Samuel Fromartz 2006, reprinted by permission

About the Author

Samuel Fromartz is a business journalist who has written for Fortune, Business Week, and Inc. Organic Inc. is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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