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Basmati, Cauliflower and Curry Biryani

Yesterday we discussed the benefits of cauliflower and today we have a great Indian-inspired cauliflower dish that is flavorful and healthy!

Basmati, Cauliflower and Curry Biryani

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I have also used a can of diced tomatoes as well)
1 large red onion, 1/2 coarsely chopped and 1/2 thinly sliced
3-5 fresh green chiles, such as Thai or serrano, stemmed
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup white basmati rice, preferably Indian or Pakistani
1 bunch (8 ounces) mustard greens, tough ribs removed, leaves finely chopped
8 ounces cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch florets
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cups water, divided
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads


1. Puree tomatoes, chopped onion and chiles to taste in a blender, scraping down the sides as needed, to make a smooth sauce.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add raisins and cashews and cook, stirring, until the raisins are plump and the nuts are lightly brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

3. Add cumin seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Carefully pour in the pureed tomato mixture (it may spatter) and reduce heat to medium. Stir in garam masala, 3/4 teaspoon salt and turmeric. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium bowl. Cover with water. Gently rub the rice through your fingers to wash the grains. (The water will become cloudy.) Drain. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear. Then cover the rice with cold water and let it sit for 20 minutes. Drain.
Stir mustard greens, cauliflower, chickpeas and 1 cup water into the tomato sauce. Cover and remove from the heat.

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

7. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the drained rice and saffron, and carefully stir (it may spatter) to coat the rice with the saffron. Add the remaining 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir once to incorporate the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, until the water has evaporated from the surface and craters are starting to appear in the rice, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

8. Spread half the chickpea curry evenly in the prepared baking dish. Spread the rice mixture on top of the curry. Spoon the remaining chickpea mixture over the rice. Scatter the reserved raisins and cashews over the top. Cover with foil. Bake until the rice is tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks before serving.


Adapted From Eating Well

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Health Benefits of Cauliflower

While it may be one of the less popular veggies in our houses, cauliflower is one that we should try to incorporate weekly.  Cauliflower is a non-starchy vegetable  and is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage and broccoli. High intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of some cancers. They contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, that may help neutralize damaging toxins.

Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds that give cauliflower its pungent smell and flavor. Glucosinolates activate the body’s detoxification system.  Cauliflower is also an excellent source of potassium with one cup having almost the same amount as a banana.Potassium is an essential dietary mineral. Normal body functions, including regular heart beats and proper body hydration, depend on proper potassium concentrations both inside and outside of cells.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes skin and brain health. When you think of vitamin C, you might think of oranges or other fruit. Cauliflower has a surprisingly high amount of vitamin C. One cup of raw cauliflower contains 52 mg. In comparison, a medium orange contains 64 mg.

Cooking Tips

Quickly cooking cauliflower reduces the sulfur smell, preserves crispness and color and reduces the loss of nutrients. Steaming or microwaving cauliflower will preserve its vitamin content better than boiling. To preserve whiteness, add 1 tbsp. of milk or lemon juice to the water, and don’t cook cauliflower in an aluminum or iron pot. The chemical compounds in cauliflower will react with the aluminum and turn the vegetable yellow.

Easy Ways To Add Cauliflower To Your Meals

– chop some up and serve with hummus and other veggies!

– puree cooked cauliflower and mix it into your Mac & Cheese if you are using a light sauce for the cheese.

– use half cooked cauliflower and half cooked potatoes the next time you make mashed potatoes to help lower the starch content but increase the flavor!

– drizzle with some balsamic and roast in the oven for a perfect side dish!





The Benefits of Thiamin aka B1 Vitamin

With cold and flu season right around the corner, it is important to make sure the family is getting all of their vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, helps fuel your body by converting blood sugar into energy. It keeps your mucous membranes healthy and is essential for nervous system, cardiovascular and muscular function. Since B-Vitamins are water soluble, you need a continuous supply of them in your food. Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin.

The suggested dosage per day is 1 milligram.

Sources of Thiamin:
The best sources of Vitamin B1 are yeasts and liver however most children and adults rarely consume these so the following foods are good sources of Vitamin B1:

Whole-grain cereals
Rye and whole-wheat flour
Wheat germ
Navy beans and kidney beans

It’s pretty rare in the United States for a person to be deficient in this vitamin. A lack of it can cause beriberi, a condition that involves confusion, muscle wasting, nerve problems and a rapid heartbeat. It’s usually only seen in the United States in babies who are fed formula that isn’t supplemented with Vitamin B1 or in people who drink large amounts of alcohol.


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A New Twist On A Pumpkin Smoothie

Nothing says fall, quite like pumpkin!!  Here is a great, healthy alternative to traditional pumpkin smoothies, that kids and adults will love!  It is easy to make, so try this for an afternoon snack today!

Pumpkin Smoothie

1 C pumpkin puree
1/2 C cinnamon apple sauce
3/4 C greek yogurt, 0%
2 t pumpkin pie spice
graham crackers for topping


Add all ingredients to a blender and allow to whip. The smoothie will be best if all ingredients are cold, or better yet, if the apple sauce is frozen! Top with crumbled graham cracker.  Enjoy!


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Can Working Too Much Have An Impact On Your Child’s Health?

When it comes to cooking, grocery shopping and playing with children,  moms with full-time jobs spend roughly 3.5 fewer hours per day on these and other chores related to their children’s diet and exercise compared to stay-at-home and unemployed mothers, according to a new report.  Their male partners do little to make up the deficit. Employed fathers devote just 13 minutes daily to such activities and non-working fathers contribute 41 minutes.

To make up for this gap, working mothers are significantly more likely to spend time purchasing prepared foods such as takeout from restaurants or prepackaged, ready-to-eat meals from grocery stores all of which are generally less nutritious than home-cooked meals.

This study is the first to show the difference in time spent by working and non-working mothers on activities related to their children’s diet and physical activity.  Those conducting the study do stress that it’s inaccurate to pin rising childhood obesity rates on women, given that husbands pick up so little of the slack.  They also stated that employment alone drives the way mothers spends their time. “For example, mothers who choose to work might be those who enjoy cooking less and who would cook less whether working or not,”

It is important to remember that we can take steps to enhance childhood nutrition and physical activity without advocating that mothers to stop working as much. For instance, parents should be better educated about the nutritional content of restaurant and prepackaged foods.

They also state that schools should play a larger responsibility for supporting healthy lifestyles since children spend most of their day at school.  The study stresses the importance of schools offering high-quality foods and physical education classes and urges comprehensive changes in school environments to promote healthy eating and active living.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to make sure whether or not you are preparing meals or getting takeout is to make sure that your family is getting the most well balanced meal possible.  Next time you get takeout, try ordering side salads for everyone instead of french fries and opt for grilled dishes instead of fried.  Small changes can have a major impact on your family’s health!


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DHA Can Improve Reading Scores In Kids


Children whose reading test scores place them in the bottom 20% of their elementary class may benefit from supplements of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, according to a new controlled trial.

Oxford University’s Center for Evidence-Based Intervention studied 362 children ages 7-9 who had placed in the bottom third of their class in reading scores. For 16 weeks, the children were given either a placebo or 600 mg of DHA. The DHA was extracted from algae, which are the original source of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

The children receiving placebos progressed in their reading skills as expected. Those students who received DHA and had scored in the bottom 20% of readers at the start of the study advanced by nearly an extra month, while those in the bottom 10% gained nearly two extra months of progress. Students whose reading skills were less impaired did not see extra improvements with DHA.

Parents of the kids who received DHA also rated their children as more attentive and less restless, as compared with those who got placebo. However, teachers did not report improvement in the children’s behavior.

Other studies have shown that kids with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who were given omega-3 supplements, showed improved behavior. DHA is an essential nutrient, which cannot be manufactured by the body, and is used by virtually all cells. It is especially important for vision and brain function, particularly during early development. “DHA is critical for vision and it’s possible that improvements in visual perception might allow children to read better, but it all remains speculative.”

Experts say the best way to make sure that your child is getting enough omega-3s is to improve their diet. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, halibut and tuna are good sources of DHA and EPA. Fish tacos are an excellent way to add omega-3s to the household menu as well as tuna sandwiches. Many other foods are now fortified with DHA such as yogurt, milk, soymilk, granola bars, bread, pasta, margarine, orange juice, cereal, peanut butter and even eggs. Nuts are also an excellent source.

Supplements are also a good choice for children who have certain food allergies. While there is little danger from getting too many omega-3s in a typical diet, they do have anti-clotting actions and could be dangerous for people with blood clotting disorders or those taking anti-clotting medication.


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Greek Stuffed Peppers

Looking for a new way to make stuffed peppers? This Greek-inspired version is protein packed and the perfect meatless Monday recipe!

Greek Stuffed Peppers

4 yellow, orange and/or red bell peppers
1/2 cup whole-wheat orzo
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, (not oil-packed), chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
**I also added 3 cloves of garlic as well but you can omit.


1. Halve peppers lengthwise through the stems, leaving the stems attached. Remove the seeds and white membrane. Place the peppers cut-side down in a large microwave-safe dish. Add 1/2 inch water, cover and microwave on High until the peppers are just softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool slightly, drain and set aside.

2.Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

3.Mash chickpeas into a chunky paste with a fork, leaving some whole.

4.Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and oregano and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.

5.Stir in the orzo, chickpeas, 1/2 cup feta, tomatoes, vinegar and salt; cook until heated though, about 1 minute. Divide the filling among the pepper halves and sprinkle each pepper with some of the remaining 1/4 cup feta.

Adapted From Eating Well

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September Is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

After being at the Natural Foods Expo for the past few days, nothing but healthy, nutritious food is on my mind, however, the sad truth is that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years with portion sizes growing and physical activity lacking.  Children are now experiencing what were once thought to be “adult” conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even Type 2 Diabetes.

We were extremely inspired by 12-year old Marshall Reid who took obesity issue into his own hands and made the changes for himself which helped to inspire his entire family to change their habits as well.  They even wrote the book called “Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan To A Healthier Family.”  Here is the link to see the full interview with Marshall and his family.

Here are a few great tips to start promoting a healthy lifestyle within your family!

Supportive Food Environment: Of course with healthy change should come healthy foods, so stock up with the whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and lean protein. More than just the obvious changes, it’s important to identify foods in the house that your child may struggle with. If your child seeks out favorite snacks such as potato chips or cookies and struggles with portion size for these foods it can be helpful to buy those foods periodically, say once a month rather than weekly.

Calorie Free Beverages: Remove the calorie-filled beverages such as juice, soda and other sweetened beverages. These drinks provide empty, excess calories to your child’s day that can lead to weight gain. Offer water, seltzer or low fat milk for daily beverages and leave the sweetened drinks for special occasions.

Family Dinners: Studies show that children from families who share a meal together at least 3 times per week were more likely to be within a normal weight range and have better eating patterns consisting of healthier foods. Make an effort to gather around the dinner table with your family to enjoy the benefits of this shared meal.

Activity Time: Physical activities such as hiking, bike riding, swimming or even a walk after dinner can be a great way to spend time together and start exercise as a regular part of your family routine. Obviously this can be a challenge when the week gets busy, but even something as simple as an after dinner walk or a quick toss around of the Frisbee can make a difference. Try to work in longer periods of time on weekends for a bigger family activity such as going for a hike or long bike ride.

Family Dessert Night: Many parents struggle when they are faced with the nightly question of “can I have dessert?” It can be a tough negotiation to face after a long day and can often lead to giving into your little one’s sweet tooth a bit too often. A simple solution can be to define a family dessert night. Designate a day where the entire family enjoys a dessert and on the remainder of the week offer fruit after dinner if still hungry.

If you would like to get more ideas on what you can do to help lower childhood obesity rates, check out the Alliance For A Healthier Generation. 


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7 Health Benefits of Ginger

Sure, we all cook and bake with it on occasion, but did you know that consumer ginger on a regular basis is also beneficial to our health?

1. Ginger improves digestion and promotes better assimilation of nutrients into the body. Ginger contains a distinct enzymatic profile that works synergistically to promote healthy digestion, and ease the processing of food in the stomach and intestines.

2. Ginger is a natural remedy for motion sickness, seasickness, and various other forms of nausea. Pregnant women, chemotherapy patients, and individuals with mild or moderate upset stomach can all experience relief by taking therapeutic doses of ginger, which was shown in at least one major study to eliminate nausea symptoms with as little as a one-quarter of a teaspoon dose.

3. It helps to treat inflammation and boost immunity. Chronic inflammation is linked to a host of debilitating diseases, including cancer, all of which can be effectively prevented and even treated with therapeutic doses of whole ginger extract.

4. It acts as a pain reliever, particularly for chronic pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, and fibromyalgia.

5. Improves cardiovascular health by suppressing the biosynthesis of an inflammatory mediator known as leukotrienes.

6. Contain high amounts of antioxidants, the two most prominent of which are curcumin and gingerol. Not only do these and several other free radical scavengers prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, but they also prevent from forming, and even eliminate, amyloid plaques in the brain that are linked to causing Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain conditions.

7. Acts as an asthma treatment as well. Ginger naturally contains several different compounds that can help alleviate asthma symptoms.


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Enjoy The Benefits of Ginger With This Great Apple Ginger Chicken Recipe!

Yesterday we told you about the health benefits of ginger and today we have the perfect flavorful fall recipe that utilizes fresh ginger!!

Apple Ginger Chicken

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into thin wedges
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley

1. Stir together garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and mustard seeds in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Toss chicken with flour in a medium bowl until evenly coated. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until well-browned on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and apple to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until apples are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the reserved spice mixture. Stir until the apples are tender and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and the reserved chicken; increase heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and the chicken is no longer pink inside, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro (or parsley).


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