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Monday, February 28, 2011

Product Review: Seventh Generation & GIVEAWAY!!

If you've been following Healing Cuisine for long enough, you know that I am very passionate about not only organic eating, but organic living as well.  Whether it's healing from illness naturally, eliminating plastics or other toxins from your home, or using all-natural eco-friendly cleaning products, it's what I love to do and thus advocate taking these steps.  In fact, Dr. Dave and I are hosting our Defeating Toxicity workshop on Tuesday, March 15th at 6:00pm at our Maximized Living Health Center.  If you live in the Orlando area, sign up and come on over to dive into a wealth of knowledge on how toxicity affects our lives negatively, the best and worst products for you and your family, and ways to detox your body naturally!  We'll give you all the tools and solutions you need to clean up your daily routine!

Today, I want to talk about a company on a mission to green our day-to-day lives.  Seventh Generation provides user-friendly products specifically designed to fit our needs while protecting the health of our environment and us (the consumer) at the same time.

While I could go on and on about the dangers of cleaning products, and the chemicals in our baby diapers and wipes, and the fragrances and dyes and chlorine and pesticides, etc, etc, in our laundry soaps and feminine products.  Instead of focusing on the bad and the ugly here, come to our Toxicity workshop.  Not in Orlando?  Visit the Environmental Working Group's website and become an educated consumer.  Here, I want to focus on the solution to the problem.  If you are ready to cut out the hazardous chemicals from your life and switch to all-natural options, SAFE for not only you but your children as well, then I encourage you to try the Seventh Generation product line.  The company was so kind so send me a Healthy Home Starter Kit, so now I can proudly say I've tried just about every product they have to offer!

The Healthy Home Starter Kit includes: Disinfecting Multi-surface Spray, Disinfecting Bathroom Spray, Disinfecting Wipes, All-purpose Free & Clear Spray, Glass Free & Clear Spray, Shower Spray, Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Tub & Tile Spray, Natural Paper Towels, and a Seventh Generation recycled shopping tote.

I mean, WOW!  I got to try it all, and can I tell you, IT WORKS!  I had been a huge advocate of the disinfecting wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, and the free & clear all-purpose spray in the past, I even use these products to clean our clinic.  Now that we've relocated to Orlando and we are living with 4 other people who share our bathroom, it was time for a true test for the Seventh Generation cleaning products.  I am so pleased!  They work wonders!  The glass spray is a new found favorite, as well as the tub & tile spray.  And what's the greatest part?  All of the Seventh Generation products are made free of harsh chemicals, scented naturally, plant-based, biodegradable, hypo-allergenic and non-toxic.  AND, Seventh Generation discloses all of its products' ingredients right on their labels (did you know there aren't laws in effect that mandate this measure??).  Label reading doesn't just apply to food.  It MUST apply to every purchase you make, food, clothing, body care products, and cleaning products!  In my opinion, this gives Seventh Generation a huge boost in the credibility and consumer safety departments.

I also love what Seventh Generations stands for.  From the Great Law of the Iroquois: “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”  Seventh Generation firmly believes in this philosophy and thus derived their company name from this principle.  From their non-toxic products to their 100% recycled paper products to their recycled and recyclable packaging.  Their mission is, “To inspire a more conscious and sustainable world by being an authentic force for positive change.”  Every Seventh Generation product that you purchase and use will help save natural resources, reduce pollution, and keep harmful chemicals out of our environment.  I encourage you to try your first Seventh Generation product, if you haven't experienced the company yet.  Or, expand your scope.  Maybe it's time you switch to their natural feminine care products or their recycled paper towels.  Take that next step to further clean up your life!

Guess what?  YOU can try it all, too!  Seventh Generation is hosting a GIVEAWAY right here at Healing Cuisine!  You could WIN your very own Healthy Home Starter Kit, shipped direct to your door!  Contest is open NOW thru Thursday, March 3rd at 11:59pm.  Open to U.S. residents only.  I will use Random.org to select a winner.  Winner will be announced HERE at Healing Cuisine on Friday morning, March 4th.  Winner has 24 hours to email me with their contact information or a new winner will be selected.  Limit one entry per contestant.  How to enter:

1)  Become a Google Follower of Healing Cuisine AND visit the Seventh Generation website.  Leave me a Comment at the bottom of this post about one product they carry that you didn't know about or hadn't tried before.

2)  Follow me AND Seventh Generation on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway:  #Win @SeventhGen Healthy Home Cleaning Kit http://tinyurl.com/4n2ak5k @EliseJSchwartz #Giveaway

3)  Click the "Share on Facebook" button at the bottom of this post, @ mentioning me (@Healing Cuisine or @Elise Schwartz) so I see you've shared the contest!

Best of luck to you all!  Excited to announce the lucky winner of this amazing prize package later this week! :)

You can purchase Seventh Generation products at your local grocery store, Target, Walmart, or online at Vitacost.com or Amazon.com.  You can also find money saving coupons online at http://www.SeventhGeneration.com/.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Questions Answered: Gooey Moist Brownies

By looks and taste, you'll never guess what is in these brownies.  But if you read the name of today's recipe, you know black beans are my secret ingredient for an Advanced Plan gooey moist brownie.  Julia wrote me an email confessing she (too) is a brownie lover and needs a satisfying healthy alternative.  Well here you go, Julia!  Hope this recipe satisfies your craving.  :)

What's great is these brownies a protein packed and make a very healthy snack.  And I don't feel bad eating one (or two) of these for breakfast or early morning treat if the chocolate craving so desires to strike.

Black Bean Brownies

16oz organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup xylitol
1 1/2 tsp spoonable stevia
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 organic free range eggs (large)
1/2 cup almond flour, fine ground and sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp flax meal (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup water

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Puree the black beans in a food processor or blender until completely smooth (may need to add a couple Tablespoons of water to help this along, but you don't want the beans to get soupy).

2.)  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until just combined.  Grease 9x9 inch glass pan with about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil.  Pour batter evenly in pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, watching that the edges don't burn.  Cool for at least 1 hour, or they may be too gooey to slice.  ENJOY!

You can stir in any of your favorite additions.  We love unsweetened coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips!  Other ideas: chopped almonds, chopped macadamia nuts, swirl in almond butter, chopped walnuts, 2 Tablespoons espresso, or almond extract.

Hope you love, Julia!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How To: Healing Cuisine Mayonnaise & Avocado Mayo!

Per request by my friend Hannah, I'd like to share my two favorite recipes for mayonnaise.  The first is my classic plain version, perfect for sandwiches, wraps, or lettuce wraps.  I've also fallen in love with Avocado Mayo, which is suited perfectly for sandwiches/wraps as well, but also makes a great dip for veggies and chicken tenders (homemade of course)!  So I'll get right to it.

Now, if you've ever tried to make your own mayo before, you've probably had to decide how you were going to make it -- in the blender, with a mixer, or by hand.  Well I've tried them all.  For me, the best tasting and best consistency mayo has come from using my stand mixer.  You can also use a hand mixer if that's all you have, but the stand mixer helps prevent sore arms.  ;)  Some of the problems that occurred for me using the other methods (which are often recommended in cookbooks) were separated mayo and super stiff mayo that you wouldn't want to spread on anything.  So if you're new to this, I recommend starting off with the mixer method and then if you want to try it in the blender or by hand, go for it!  I know some people definitely find success with those as well.

Here is my recipe for plain mayonnaise along with detailed steps to prepare.  A note -- I use mostly grapeseed oil, as it is flavorless.  And I usually add in 1-2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil for a tad bit of flavor.  However, you can TOTALLY omit the olive oil if you want to.  I know some people really don't like the taste the mayo has when olive oil is added, because it is such a pungent oil.  And for that reason, I don't make my mayo with solely olive oil, which is why Hannah wrote in asking for this recipe.  Her recipe called only for olive oil, which made for quite the mayonnaise, if you can imagine.  So the grapeseed oil is key here for its neutral taste!

Healing Cuisine Mayonnaise
Makes About 2 Cups

2 large organic free-range eggs, as fresh as you can find, ROOM TEMPERATURE
1 1/4 cups grapeseed oil, room temp
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, room temp (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, room temp
2 tsp white vinegar, room temp
Sea salt, to taste (I usually do 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp mustard powder
A few cracks of black pepper, to taste (optional)

1.)  Into your room temperature mixer bowl, add the eggs, sea salt, lemon juice, vinegar, pepper and mustard.  Using the whip attachment, beat on Medium-High speed until mixture turns light in color, about 3 minutes.

2.)  Add the grapeseed oil *a drop at a time* until you have incorporated about half.  Adding a drop at a time is KEY for proper emulsification.  BE PATIENT, it will be worth it!  You can then add the rest of the grapeseed oil and olive oil in a *slow* stream, keeping an eye on the mixture to see that it's incorporating at the same rate you are adding the oil.  You can use a measuring cup or ladle to add the oil, but I actually prefer to use a squeeze bottle.  I had a little one left over from something, and had the idea to use it for the oil to ensure I was only adding a drop at a time.  Works perfectly with no room for error!

3.)  You're mayonnaise will be ready when the last little bit of oil is incorporated.  Turn of the mixer (which should have been running constantly until now) and give your homemade creation a taste.  You can adjust sea salt and pepper now as needed.  Spoon into a storage bowl or jar.  Use right away or store in fridge up to 3-4 days.  And give yourself a pat on the back for making your own mayo at home! :)

I'll get to the Avocado Mayo in a second... but if you want to jazz up your regular mayo with some flavorings, here are some ideas to stir in (great for party dips or just switching up the norm):

Curry powder
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Hot sauce
Bragg liquid aminos (natural alternative to soy sauce)
More lemon/lemon zest
Fresh garlic paste
Chopped chilies

And on to my yummmmy favorite, Avocado Mayo!

Homemade Avocado Mayo
Makes About 1 1/2 Cups

1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup Healing Cuisine Mayonnaise
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

1.)  In a food processor, puree the avocado with lime juice and optional Tabasco and garlic clove.

2.)  Add in your mayonnaise and blend until well combined.   Enjoy!  You'll love!

Thanks, Hannah, for having me whip up these mayos!  I'm now going to make some Healing Cuisine Chicken Salad with the Avocado Mayo and eat in a lettuce wrap.  YUM.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chicken Breasts with Oranges

One of the perks to living and working in Orlando is that we have amazing patients who bring us bags full of fresh, organic oranges from their back yards!  We get about a dozen oranges a week, and don't get me wrong, we love them!  I've been putting them on salads, into smoothies, sliced for a snack, etc.  But it's been a month and we're getting a little oranged out.  So I tried turning the orange into a savory meal.  This turned out as a very elegant dish for sure.  We felt like it could be served at a fancy restaurant.  And again, we were so hungry that we dove in to eating before I remembered to snap a photo.  It was very pretty tho.  I laid the reduced orange segments over the chicken breast then drizzled the sauce over top.  Delish!  We served with steamed cauliflower, perfect for soaking up the savory orange cream sauce!

Chicken Breasts with Oranges
Makes 4 Servings

4 free-range, organic boneless chicken breasts, butterflied
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp organic butter
3 large oranges, segmented and deseeded
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup organic, sodium-free chicken stock
1/2 cup organic/raw whole milk or cream
Dash of nutmeg

1.)  In a large skillet, add the coconut oil and butter and heat for a minute over Medium heat.  Place the chicken breasts in a single layer and cook, uncovered, over Medium heat about 8 minutes per side.  Transfer the chicken to a plate.

2.)  In the bottom of the skillet, put the orange segments and the onion slices.  Cook over Medium heat for about 6 minutes stirring occasionally.

3.)  Add the chicken broth and cream to the skillet and stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts.  Sprinkle each with a dash of nutmeg, cover the skillet, lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Plate and serve.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Green Apple Salad with Almonds

This turned out to be quite the elegant little salad.  We had it as an appetizer to my Chicken with Oranges dinner (recipe coming next!).  A very good pairing, although this salad can stand its own as a lunch and would be great paired with beef as well.  Mmm, I loved it!  And I was so excited to dive in, that I forgot to take a picture.  But trust me, it's worth making!

Green Apple Salad with Almonds

1 cup organic, unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup Bragg apple cider vinegar, divided
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, torn
1 1/2 tsp spoonable stevia powder
Sea salt to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste
2 organic Granny Smith apples, sliced
3 ribs organic celery, thinly sliced on the bias
1/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 oz raw goat cheese
Mix of fresh organic spring greens and spinach

1.)   In small saucepan combine apple juice and 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.  Heat to boiling and continue boiling until liquid is reduced by half (about 15 minutes).  Set aside to cool.

2.)  In a small bowl, mix remaining vinegar with the shallots, olive oil, tarragon, spoonable stevia, sea salt and pepper.  Whisk together with fork until stevia dissolves.

3.)  In medium bowl, toss together apples, celery, almonds and chives.  Stir in vinaigrette.

4.)  Assemble salad on small plates, greens first, stacking the apple mixture next.  Sprinkle goat cheese over top.  Drizzle with apple juice reduction and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chickpea Lentil Stew

First of all, if you aren't on the Healing Cuisine facebook page, you might not be aware that I've recently added a deliciously romantic Valentine's Day menu planner to the site!  You can download it here, and I recommend giving yourself a day or two to read thru the menu and get your grocery list compiled.  It's a menu sure to impress your Valentine and set the mood, all while staying on your Maximized Living Nutrition Plan!  :)

I've got another great One Pot Wonder to add to your list!  Even in sunny Orlando, we still appreciate a good stew or casserole now and then.  Check out all the other great One Pot Wonder dishes by selecting the "One Pot Wonder" keyword link under the Labels section at the bottom right of the page.

One Pot Wonder - Chickpea Lentil Stew

Coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp ground cardamom
3 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
5 cups filtered water
1  28ounce jar/can of organic peeled, whole tomatoes
Sea salt to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste
16 ounces cooked organic chickpeas, strained and rinsed
2 cups fresh organic spinach

1.)  Heat coconut oil over Medium in a large stock pot.  Add the onions and carrots and stir well to coat. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, until softened.

2.)  Lower the heat to Low.  Add the garlic and ground spices and stir well.  When the spices’ aroma begins to bloom (in about 30-60 seconds), remove the pan from heat immediately (to prevent burning).  Cook for 30 seconds to one minute more.

3.)  Add the lentils, canned tomatoes, cinnamon stick, sea salt, black pepper and water to the pot. Mash up the tomatoes and stir everything together well.

4.)  Return pot to burner and bring to a boil.  Once stew is boiling, reduce heat to Low and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until both carrots and lentils are tender.  (At this point, I like to take a few ladle fulls and puree in blender then add back to pot to thicken the broth of the stew.   This step is optional.)

5.)  Add the chickpeas and warm thru.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the fresh spinach leaves to wilt.  Ready to serve.

I like to top with a scoop of organic Greek yogurt, crushed raw cashews, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.  Comfort in a bowl!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Video: How to Chop an Onion

We're learning how to slice and dice an onion today!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Product Review: Pacifica Soy Candles

If you are a scent lover, then you will appreciate this product review.  Personally, I like to have a fresh scent in the air when I'm reading or relaxing.  I'm really in to aromatherapy and blending different essential oils in my electric diffuser.  Back in my college days, before Dave and I began our journey of natural living, I used paraffin candles to scent my apartment.  A couple of reasons for this: A) paraffin candles are cheap, and B) they come in an array of scents to fit any mood.

If you've ever used a paraffin candle, you've noticed the black smoke that comes immediately after lighting.  I noticed increased allergies whenever I burned a paraffin candle.  I attributed it to the synthetic perfumes used to scent the candle, and I'd throw it out and buy a new one hoping for better health results.  Well, that never happened.  I seemed to always get sick whenever a paraffin candle was burning, and eventually those allergies hung around for many days after.  So I decided to investigate and was shocked to find out the reasons for my sickness.

Paraffin Candles vs Soy Candles

Did you know paraffin comes from petroleum??  Yeah, me either.  When paraffin/standard wax candles were studied, research showed that when the paraffin melts, it sets off chemical reactions that are emitted into the air you breathe.  These chemicals consist of carcinogens that do not burn healthy.   The American Chemical Society states that when burned, paraffin candles emit toluene, benzene, and other toxins that are linked to health issues such as asthma, eczema and cancer.  (Scary!)  We also need to consider the way in which they burn.  Candles tend to burn slowly, releasing these toxic chemicals over a long period of time.  And where we burn them -- usually the candles are used in an enclosed space so there is little to no ventilation.  This results in the toxic fumes being loaded into one room or space for a long period of time.

Makes sense why I was sick for so long, huh?

Most paraffin candles use metal wicks to burn.  The metal is usually lead or zinc, which releases hazardous toxins and soot into the environment as the candle burns.  Hemp or cotton wicks are preferred, but aren't usually found in paraffin candles.  Research states that homes with an asthmatic, someone with emphysema, or breathing problems, should not have or use paraffin candles.  In my opinion, no one should use them due to the unknown dangers of what you breathe in when using a paraffin candle.  If the toxic chemicals burning in the air irritates someone who already has health symptoms, by all means it is causing disease and damage to your body even if you don't have symptoms from it YET.

So that brings us to the beauty of soy candles.  Soy wax comes naturally from soybeans.  Soy wax is eco-friendly, carbon neutral, and is an American grown, sustainable, renewable resource.  One of the biggest benefits of using a 100% natural soy candle is how cleanly it burns.  Soy wax does not produce the black soot that a paraffin candle does.  The amount of smoke released from a soy candle is extremely minimal.  If you ever have a soy candle that does leave soot around the jar or into the air, there is one big reason this happens.  It is not a 100% soy candle.  You need to watch out for companies who market their candles as "soy" on the label, but really it's a blend of paraffin/soy.  You might not catch this right away in the store or on their website, so always search deep and ask the manager.  It's always best (just like when requesting ingredients of a food product) to see the ingredients in writing versus just going off the verbal word of an employee.  Once it's in writing, the company is claiming it as truth.  Another reason soy candles burn so cleanly is that they do not use metal wicks.  Instead you'll find a good brand of soy candle uses cotton or hemp for the wick.

Another great joy of using natural soy candles is that they are cost effective.  You'll pay a little more for a quality soy candle, but you'll be pleased to find out that soy burns about twice as slowly as paraffin, so it's like buying 2 candles!  This is because soy wax burns at a lower temperature than paraffin wax.  Lower burn temperature equals longer burn time!

Soy candles also have a great throw, meaning the scent from one single candle travels very far thru a room or house.  Different oils will have stronger throws than others, but in my personal experience soy candles travel farther than paraffin all around.  And I should state that you want to look for a soy candle that is scented with 100% natural essential oils!  You'll find that some of the big candle stores (that you'll find in the mall) will sell soy candles scented with fragrance.  Remember, fragrance is almost always artificially created, meaning you'll be burning chemicals into the air you breathe.  Essential oil candles are key!

Pacifica Soy Candles

So this brings me to a wonderful announcement!  I have found a FABULOUS company dedicated to creating natural soy candles scented with natural essential oils.  AND they have a large array of scents to fit any mood!

Pacifica was so kind so send me one of their Persian Rose Pillar Candles.  Unfortunately it was one of their paraffin candles, so I didn't use it personally for the reasons highlighted above.  However, we visited our local Whole Foods last week and I was so pleased to find the Pacifica SOY candles!  I had a hard time picking which scent to purchase, (and probably would have chosen a more wintery scent if we weren't in sunny Florida right now) but decided on the soy Hawaiian Ruby Guava.   I've been burning the candle every night since, and I am more than pleased with the quality and the scent!  Its throw covers the whole floor of our house, but it's not over powering.  Just the right amount of delicious guava scent to perk up the mood!  And like I mentioned previously with soy candles, mine has barely burned down at all.  It looks almost brand new, and I've had it burning a few hours every night for a week!  That's the quality difference.  Well worth the price, and I just love that Pacifica soy candles are all natural.  This is my brand for life!  Can't wait to try more scents!!  :)

Just in time for Valentine's Day -- you'll want to look at the vast array of luxurious scents Pacifica has to offer in their natural soy candles.  Set the mood and stay healthy at the same time!  You can check out Pacifica brand candles for yourself at your local Whole Foods or online:  http://www.pacificaperfume.com/.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Dave is a Packers fan.  He literally bleeds green and gold.  So we'll be hanging with friends and watching the Super Bowl this weekend.  I, on the other hand, could care less about sports all around.  It works perfectly because I can keep to the kitchen and make sure everyone is fed!

Here is my menu for this weekend's Healing Cuisine football party:

-  Some of my favorite veggie & cracker dips are included in Season's Eatings e-book.  I'll be making the Double Green Dip, French Onion Dip, and Spinach-Artichoke Dip.  Serve with a colorful array of fresh veggies and gluten-free, grain-free crackers.  Yummm!

-  What's a football party without chili?!  I think I'll do my recipe for White Bean Chili this time.  Whole Foods has organic bison dogs, so we'll do a few of those, too, to serve with the chili.  Maybe some raw white cheddar to sprinkle over top.

-  The boys will probably want their usual gluten-free beer, but I'm really a fan of this Sparkling Punch that we made for Dave's surprise graduation party this past summer.  I'll do a half batch of this punch, just for fun!

-  For a side salad and a true hit always sure to please, I'll do my Asian Almond Chicken Salad.  If you haven't tried it yet, you MUST!  Make extra so you have some for lunch later in the week.  :)

-  And finally, a party isn't complete without a sweet treat!  I'll do Strawberry Cream Pie, but instead of in a standard round pie shell, I'll do it in an 8x8" square pan.  Line it with parchment paper first then continue with recipe.  FREEZE the pie for at least 2 hours before serving, so it's nice and firm when you remove it from the square pan.  Cut into individual squares for easy serving.  The boys can eat with their fingers!

And to me, this sounds like the perfect spread for Sunday's Super Bowl game.  Good luck to the Steelers and the Packers!  I'll be happily stuffing my face on Sunday in your honor!  :)

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