Monday, December 31, 2012

Bison and Butternut Squash Chili

A hearty, winter chilli that will put your whole family into a food coma. And a cooking tip that will keep you cooking squash all winter long!

Bison is an excellent alternative to ground beef, mostly because it's nice to change things up a bit. Of course if you can't access bison meat you can always use ground beef or ground turkey, of course of the highest quality. A true chili must also have beans so I used an heirloom variety I had on hand, anasazi beans, but of course you can choose any bean like black beans or pinto. What makes this chili so special is the hidden butternut squash, so you can't replace that!

I love it because people who say they don't like squash still love this chili. Sometimes winter squashes can be daunting even for those who like the flavors because cutting into a raw, hard squash can be difficult. The squash in this recipe is cooked in the oven so that it is soft when you cut it open and the flesh simply scoops right out. The consistency is like mash potatoes and mixes right into the chili making it have a thick texture. Plus you get all the amazing health benefits of butternut squash! More on this cooking tip to come. For now we'll focus on this chili recipe.

1lb bison meat, preferably grass-fed
1/2C anasazi beans, soaked and boiled
1 small butternut squash
1 medium sized onion
5 cloves of garlic
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2T paprika
2T chili powder
1T oregano
2t cumin
pinch of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350° and place whole squash in oven dish or directly on rack.
2. Place soaked beans in pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
3. Dice onions and garlic. Brown the meat with onions, garlic and chili powder.
4. After the beans have been cooking for about 20-30 minutes and the meat is browned, strain the water from the pot leaving in the beans. Add the meat to the pot with the tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cumin, and sea salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
5. When a knife pierces through the squash very easily, it is ready about 35-45 minutes depending on the size. Cut it in half, scoop and discard the seeds. Using a big spoon scoop out all the soft flesh and add to the pot of chili. If some parts of the squash are harder, dice into very small pieces before adding to the pot. Discard the skin.
6. Let cook for at least another 10 minutes letting all the flavors mingle. Ladle into deep bowls and top with chopped red onion, grass-fed cheddar cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.
Have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Give the Gift of Health

Christmas is around the corner and I am sure that some of us still have many last minute gifts to gather together. So why not give the gift of health and offer your friends and family something that will carry on long through this season?

Wholesome Practices is now offering gift cards for the many services that we offer. My Health Food Store Tours will introduce your friends or family to shopping in a whole different way. They have an hour to ask me any and all of their looming nutrition questions while becoming acquainted with shopping the healthy way. The tour is more than just nutrition, it's a time saver, it's the link between what you learn about food and how to properly implement it. This is my favorite service and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to take the next step in implementing a healthier lifestyle. My Farmer's Market Tour is another great way to welcome your friends and family into the realm of local and organic shopping.

Now of course my Consultations are another great option. They are for those who need more specific help with an area of concern in their health. I work one on one with weight loss clients, people suffering from digestive ailments and the many arenas that encompass Women's Health from PMS to menopause. 

So treat your friend or family with the gift of health. Better yet, tell your husband to treat you this Christmas with a Wholesome Practices gift card! It's the perfect last minute gift idea!

To order your Wholesome Practices gift certificate email Gift cards can be sent over email for your convenience!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coconut Date Rolls

Christmas is a season of family, friends, parties and the inevitable that comes with it: sweets, desserts and lots of treats. The key to joining in the festivities without sacrificing your health is to prepare your own wholesome desserts using the highest quality, freshest ingredients. These Coconut Dates Rolls are incredibly sweet and satisfying while being all natural and contributing positively to your health. Let me tell why it's vital this season to pass on refined sugary treats and choose the healthy yet delicious alternatives.

Refined sugars damage the immune system, contain absolute no nutrient value, and cause blood sugar imbalances. They contribute to emotional imbalances, hyperactivity, cavities and bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Refined white sugar has even been linked to progression of cancer growth and it literally leaches minerals from your bones. While refined sugars are clearly incredibly damaging to your health the natural sugars we have access to are extremely beneficial to our health. So don't fret, you can have your cake and eat it too, just make it right! Choose natural sugars like raw local honey, organic maple syrup, molasses, and even better fresh dates!

Traditionally dates would have always been harvested when they were ripe off the trees and then consumed fresh. Unfortunately, like everything else that comes to the market these days traditional practices are sacrificed in the name of 'efficiency'. Most dates today are harvested at only one time at the end of the season to save on costs. The dates are then dry on the trees similar to raisins. Next, they are steamed before packaging to ensure they remain soft for consumers. Not only is the taste completely different but the sugars are then changed from mostly fructose and glucose to sucrose which is more likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Not to mention nutrients are lost in this process. You can still find farmers who harvest their dates the traditional way. Lucky for us, Four Apostles Ranch sells their dates at the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market on Saturday and Tuesday at Milliken Family Farms. They just started carrying them at Isla Vista Food Coop in the deli section so you can find them anyday! The new season has started and the dates are being harvested fresh as we speak, come try one and taste the difference for yourself!

15 dates
1t vanilla extract
15-30 raw almonds
1C unsweetened coconut extract

1. Remove the pit from the center of the dates and throw pits directly into the trash.
2. In a small mixing bowl, mash the dates with the vanilla extract. Using your hands is messy but it's easy and gets the job done best. You can add more vanilla extract as needed for flavor.
3. Grab a small spoonful of the date mix and roll into a ball. Take one to two almonds and place in the middle of the ball, roll around to make into the shape of a finger. 1 date should make 1 roll.
4. Roll in plenty of coconut shreds and place on a serving plate.
5. They can be served immediately, kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for later use.

Everyone should enjoy the holidays, so don't restrict yourself instead indulge in healthy desserts!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Pancakes are a breakfast favorite, especially around the holidays with family. After several attempts to find a favorite alternative to white-flour, sugar laden pancakes I have finally found one that is well-liked! This simple whole-grain pancake recipe is made with only four ingredients and naturally contains no gluten. Buckwheat flour works great for pancakes because of it's thick texture and nutty flavor. Soaking the flour overnight, as my recipe calls for, allows for easier digestion and better absorption of the nutrients it contains. Getting in the habit of soaking your grains and flours is part of my wholesome cooking practices.

Pure maple syrup is a lost tradition, replaced by the cheapest, mass produced sweetener; high fructose corn syrup. Do not be deceived by the false advertising from the corn industry, this modern syrup derived from GMO corn is literally toxic to your body. But the health benefits of pure maple syrup are extensive! Maple syrup supplies minerals to your body like manganese and zinc that help strengthen your immune system. Maple syrup has anti-cancerous properties,. The darker, the better, so always choose Grade B.

No pancake should go with out a slab of butter, so be sure you're getting grass-fed, or pastured butter to ensure you're getting all the nutrients supplied by grass-fed milk. When cows are fed grass the milk contains heart healthy, anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids and the anti-cancerous compound CLA. Even better, if you can get your hands on some raw butter made by Organic Pastures then you'll get all of the enzymes and healthy bacteria present in raw milk. Their butter is one of my favorites, find it at your local health food stores or check your farmer's market.

3C organic buckwheat flour
4C water
1/2C blueberries
1/2T cinnamon
pinch of pure stevia powder*
2T aluminum-free baking powder
extra-virgin coconut oil
grass-fed butter
organic, grade B maple syrup

1. Mix flour and water in a large bowl, cover with a plate or towel and soak overnight.
2. In the morning, when you are ready to make your pancakes, stir and mix with mashed blueberries, cinnamon, a pinch of stevia and baking powder. *If you are using pure stevia powder be sure to only use a pinch as it is very sweet, taste your batter and add more as desired but start small.
3.  Heat your hot plate to 400 degrees. Smother the plate with coconut oil and ladel batter onto pan. After a few minutes, flip and let cook a few more minutes on the other side.
4. Serve warm.
Topped with creamy, rich grass-fed butter and organic, dark maple syrup, this meal is the perfect wholesome breakfast. Enjoy with out any guilt. You may even help yourselves to seconds...or thirds :)

p.s. These can easily be frozen and then reheated in the toaster or oven! Talk about easy right? And who isn't looking for more easy n' healthy ideas!