Friday, July 19, 2013

Juicing: #1

First juice of the day thanks to Urban Remedy! It's called The Brainiac and its made of celery, parsley, spinach, and lemon. It's meant to boost energy levels. My first experience opening the bottle was that it smelled a lot better than I had expected. It had a definitely "green" spinachy smell to it but because of the lemon it also smelled bright and refreshing. I poured it into a fancy glass, because why not? First taste: it was good! I have to say I've tried green juice in the past but I have always made it two sips and thrown it out. I think the lemon is the difference. The lemon just makes it a whole different flavor profile. I don't think I would ever try a green juice without lemon again. Now this first juice has zero sugar in it, and for me that would normally signal a big NO as I like everything to be a just a little bit, if not a lot, sweet. I think the lemon makes it almost similar to drinking a tea. I always drink my tea plain so it works for me. I give the first juice two thumbs up!

Up next: Juice #2-The Time Machine

Ok juice number two is called The Time Machine. It's made of acai, lemon juice, cayenne and ionized water. It's a lovely pink color and its meant to promote weight loss and be anti-aging. Upon opening it, it had a distinct berry smell with a hint of the lemon. Tasting it, it was exactly how you would think it would taste. Flavor was good- although being a berry flavor it really made me wish it was thick and creamy like a smoothie but it's not. It's definitely a juice. Tasty though and seems to be holding me over till the next juice. So far so good! Two pretty tasty juices down and four to go!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Juice Cleanse has arrived...

Ok, my juice cleanse just arrived at my door. I'm scared! I have wanted to do a juice cleanse for a while but I couldn't find a place that would deliver juices by where I live. Then a genius friend of mine said- why does it have to be from a place near you?? She suggested UrbanRemedy which is a company in California that makes juice cleanses. They are cold pressed and fresh. They fedex them to you overnight! So all you have to do is set the date that you want to do your cleanse and they ship it right to your door in a refrigerated box! I wanted to start my cleanse today but instead I will do it tomorrow. Fedex delivers between 9am and 12pm on the day you choose- mine came at 10am but I had already eaten breakfast. It works out fine though because the juice lasts for 2 -3 days. The juice is now in my fridge waiting until tomorrow. I'm excited to do the cleanse as I think it will be a great detoxifying experience but I'm also nervous to make it the whole day and to see if I like the juice. I know that fasting is a centuries old idea that we, especially in the west, have lost the practice of but it is known to be extremely good for you. Fasting gives your intestines a rest and allows your body to focus its attention on other maintenance things it needs to do, things it can't do when it is constantly focussing on digestion. However, the first time I fasted I remember I felt a kind of terror about it- not consuming food is a big mind change when you are used to eating all day long, every day, for your entire life. And some people are super negative about fasting as well, making comments about how it's impossible to go 24 hours without food. It is, in fact, possible. No, you will not die. A juice cleanse isn't even a fast because you are taking in calories but it still brings up the same emotions as the first time I fasted. I'm going to go in saying "I can do this." because I feel that if I don't I might as well not even try. I'll be posting tomorrow about the juices!!

Tea and it's green...

Green tea! In the Anti Cancer book I was telling you all about yesterday the author touts the healing properties of green tea. In some studies, it has been show to block the development of new blood vessels that cancer tumors need to grow. In countries where green tea is consumed on a very regular basis, their tumors are much less aggressive than westerners. I thought to myself: Hey, I like green tea. I could just drink more of it and it may give me some of these health benefits? Sure! It's not a medication or an invasive medical procedure. It's tea. I can drink some tea! I've been trying to have at least 2 and sometimes 3 cups of green tea a day. I either have it hot or iced. My only issue was that I started to have a little bit of acid reflux but after a quick trip to the internets I learned that for a lot of people the decaf green tea is easier for reflux sensitive people. Decaf it is! In my quest for a healthier lifestyle, this is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for- simple suggestions, that aren't too expensive that I can add to my diet that are more healing than other things I might be consuming.


On a side note...I'm currently waiting for my first juice cleanse to arrive....   :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Anti-Cancer Diet: Turmeric for Health

My last post was all about being more green and getting rid of disposables. I am happy to say that I am still trying to downsize our use of disposable products and it's going pretty well. We're not there yet but I haven't abandoned the effort. One thing I've really been able to do is to not use anything disposable when packing my lunch for work- this has cut out a lot of plastic ziploc baggies, paper napkins and plastic silverware- replacing it all with a cloth napkin, silverware that I wash after lunch and either reusable glass containers for food or a wax paper baggie which is less harmful to the environment. It's a work in progress!

My newest addition in my attempt to lead a healthier life has been focussing on the food we eat. Mr. Penguin loves candy and beef jerky so I don't think we'll ever have a completely clean whole food household but I am trying to bring in subtle changes to how we (or at least I lol) eat. I've been researching and reading a lot about the topic of preventing disease. There is so much information out there that it sometimes feels impossible and overwhelming to figure out what is the right advice to follow. My latest read is Anti Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber MD, PHD. I've felt for a long time that diseases like cancer come from our abandonment of healthy eating and by ignoring the spiritual facets of our existence. He delves into this in his book and I think he makes a some pretty compelling arguments for dietary and spiritual changes based on scientific evidence. I read through the whole book quickly but to be honest there is so much in there I need to go back for a closer read. After my first read I am already trying to add two suggestions from the book to my diet. Today I'm only going to write about one of them: turmeric!  

Dr. Serven-Schreiber provides several pages of scientific research about turmeric and its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to slow growth of tumors in mice and other fascinating things. Plus, it has been used for healing in India, Tibet, China and the Middle East for thousands of years. It's a small change that may make a big difference, so I figure why not?? To make the turmeric most effective he says to mix 1/4 of a tsp with a pinch of black pepper in a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. (Apparently it needs the pepper so your body can absorb it) Then add it to whatever you can mix it into- I had tuna for breakfast this morning and instead of using mayonaise I added the turmeric/pepper/olive oil mixture with a little sea salt and lemon. It was superb. I also mixed it into my roasted red pepper and artichoke spread yesterday. It may be a challenge to find new and inventive things to mix it in to but I will see how it goes. Maybe If I get enough courage I will try my hand at making some Indian cuisine with turmeric in it...


Tomorrow: My other new dietary add- Green Tea! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Doing away with disposables...

It's Spring! The last few months have whizzed by in a blur, mostly because I was wedding planning. And now I am MARRIED! If that's not the craziest thing ever, I don't know what is. So now we are officially Mr. and Mrs. Penguin in Paris!! Woohoo! It is almost officially one month after the wedding and we are all pretty much back to normal life. The Mr. and I have begun to talk about buying a house which means of course that I am now obsessed with saving money. Which leads me to the topic of this post- being frugal in the kitchen. Until recently I never realized how much money I spent on things like paper plates, paper napkins, paper towels and the like! Considering we have real plates, real glassware actual dishtowels and cloth napkins-we throw away a lot of money on disposable products. Which is also probably not so great for the environment. We could go through a whole pack of plastic cups in a week! Soooo in the name of saving money and not adding anything else to a landfill we are trying to go mostly disposable free! Using our real plates and glassware has been pretty easy-someone  just has to wash them, mostly me, but it's mostly fair since Mr. Penguin takes out the garbage. Using cloth napkins has been fine for me but Mr. P doesn't love them. Still working on that! The hardest part has been to try to cut back on paper towels. It's so easy to grab paper towels for kitchen messes and while cooking. I've definitely cut back on paper towel usage but I am having a hard time cutting them out completely. I am terrified to use anything but disposable when making chicken for example. I guess it's a work in progress. On the bright side, I am enjoying using my pretty polka dot cloth napkins. I'm on the look out for a few more on sale ;)
I lurve me some polka dots!! They make me happy just looking at them! Up next, how to buy groceries for 2 on $50 a week...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SHARK!

My brother's birthday was this past weekend so we all had a family BBQ at his new house. My brother and his wife love the water and that's why I ended up making them a shark cake. Sometime last week I texted my bro to see what Mr. Penguin and myself could bring to the BBQ. My brother's response was to send me a text of a shark. Awesome. So here's what I came up with....
First, I carved a shark out of a watermelon. I was quite proud of myself for this one. It's not all that hard. The most difficult part is slicing the bottom of the watermelon so that it sits flat. It's hard because the watermelon gets slippery and you're using a big knife to hack through a large, dense watermelon. In retrospect I would have had someone else hold the watermelon to help stabilize it and avoid almost chopping off several fingers. The second 'shark' idea I came up with was this....
A SHARK CAKE! My brother wanted 'Eat Me" on it so that's what he got. It's a chocolate cake....

 that I made in two 9-inch round pans. Then I sliced each cake in half and layered them with peanut butter filling. The same peanut butter filling I've blogged about before from my friend over here. It's so good! Then once it was filled I whipped up some chocolate buttercream frosting, with a little almond extract in it and covered the whole tasty thing...
Then all I had to do was mix up a little gum paste and fondant to make the letters and the shark. 

My trick for this is to print out something simple from the internet like a basic blackline picture of a shark. Then I trace it onto wax paper with a sharpie marker. Then I just use an exacto knife to cut out my design. Just make sure your have an exacto knife dedicated to baking and not one that you also use for woodworking or other hobby things. I was a little upset that I broke off the tail as I was putting it on. I let the shark harden overnight before putting it on, forgetting that it wouldn't really have any give when I attached it. You don't want to put fondant on buttercream too far in advance though because the buttercream with start to really soften the fondant and make a mush of your design. 

So in the end my brother liked his double shark dessert and everyone else got a kick out of it too. Shark themed birthday success!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

No Cheese Pizza

Mr. Penguin doesn't like cheese. I know, the horror! Who doesn't like cheese?? To be honest, at first it was seemed like an insurmountable challenge to cook things that we would both like. I mean, have you ever noticed how many recipes have some kind of cheese in it? A lot. And Mr. Penguin doesn't eat any cheese, not sticky, not mild, not even cream cheese. But after thinking about this a lot I realized that this could potentially be a good thing. Cheese is really not super healthy to be eating all the time. It can be pretty fatty and it might be a good thing to learn to cook without using so much cheese. In light of my revelation I began to look into finding recipes that don't use cheese or to modify other recipes to make them without cheese or with a substitute. It hasn't been as bad as I thought. We have actually found a lot of things that are enjoyable and healthier without the cheese. Except pizza! I always end up having to eat pizza with other people or eat a slice by myself when I'm really in the mood for it. However, I realized I was being an idiot about the whole thing! What you see here is a homemade pizza...
And because it is homemade....it only has cheese on one half!!! I don't know why I never thought of this before. (We have tried to order pizza from the pizzeria with half no cheese but in the end they ALWAYS put cheese on the whole thing, it's like they don't think you are really serious when you say no cheese...) On my half I put some skim mozzarella and some pepperoni and olives and on Mr. Penguin's side there are mushrooms, peppers, olives and NO CHEESE! WE CAN NOW EAT PIZZA IN HARMONY! Lol. But in all seriousness, now I need to buy a pizza stone....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Peppers- a lesson in blanching

In the last post I mentioned some stuffed pepper I made. And here they are! I used this recipe from EatingWell. I have been trying to cook healthy food and I figured since this was made with lean ground turkey it fit the bill. You have to blanch the peppers first. I had no idea what blanch meant. So like any good novice chef reading a recipe, I googled and read the wikipedia entry! Apparently it's just plunging something in boiling water for a short time and then dumping it in some ice water. From what I read, it seems that the purpose of blanching is either to remove an unpleasant taste of a food or to soften a food. I think in this case the point was to soften the pepper a little bit before they go in the oven to cook the rest of the way. Once I figured out what blanching meant the rest of the recipe was pretty easy. Although, I always have a problem when cooking meat. I have such a fear of undercooking something that I always cook it for longer than I'm supposed to. The recipe calls for cooking the turkey until it's no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Well, I don't know if my pan wasn't hot enough but I cooked the turkey for about 6-7 minutes before it wasn't pink. I was getting nervous that I was overcooking it but it turned out fine. Actually it turned out more than fine. It was delicious! Mr. Penguin gave the peppers a 10 out of 10 and he actually had seconds! I would definitely make this recipe again, and now that I know what the heck blanching is I can put another notch on my becoming Julia Child belt. Yes!