BLOG & RECIPES

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Hello friends!

We all want to be healthy, right?! What is one thing that we all need to do to improve our health? We need to eat more fruits and vegetables! Most Americans don’t even get close to the recommended daily amount – especially kids. If I can serve something that will make my kids eats more salad and veggies, then I’m all for it. Everyone loves ranch dressing. Unfortunately, store bought ranch dressing is pretty scary (sorry to be the bearer of bad news!). Making your own is so much better for your health and it seriously tastes delicious!

Hidden Valley Ranch ingredients: Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Canola Oil), Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors, Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as preservatives, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.

Here are the issues that I have with some of those ingredients.

Soybean and Canola oil are highly processed oils that are inflammatory to our bodies. Inflammation is the root of most major diseases. These oils are also most likely genetically modified (GMO) which I try very hard to avoid. Here is a great article about the dangers of GMOs.

Added Sugar – we are getting so much added sugar from places that we don’t even expect it like yogurt, granola bars, marinara, ketchup and yes, salad dressing. Sugar is addictive, causes inflammation, is toxic to the body and feeds cancer.  Salad dressing does not need sugar.

Natural Flavors are flavors extracted from nature but then manipulated in a lab to create the “perfect” flavor that makes us want more. Many different ingredients can hide under natural flavors too.

MSG is an excitotoxin which means that it excites brain cells, sometimes to the point of damage or death. It is added as a flavor enhancer and actually makes you crave more.

Artificial Flavors are flavors that are not derived from nature, they are made in a lab. They are nowhere close to “real” food.

Other Additives – Plus, there are a number of other additives in there that act as flavor enhancers and preservatives. I encourage you to eat food that has no ingredient list or one with ingredients that you recognize and would use in your own kitchen.

My version of Ranch Dressing is super simple to make and uses ingredients that you probably have on hand. It is very versatile too. You can add a splash of buttermilk instead of the lemon juice, you can use plain whole milk yogurt instead of sour cream. And feel free to try different spices. Fresh herbs are a great addition too if you happen to have some.

It’s not exactly the same taste as store bought ranch because all of the chemicals give Hidden Valley (and most store bought versions) a “special” taste that is hard to replicate. My version is garlicky, herby and creamy – what’s not to love?!?!

RANCH DRESSING serves 4-6

1/2 cup organic whole milk sour cream
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
dash of cayenne (optional)

Mix everything together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop. I like to shake it in a glass jar. It’s more fun than stirring or whisking. I imagine that I am shaking a martini!

 

 

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Don’t give your loved ones crappy chocolate full of chemicals and toxins. Take a few minutes (they are so quick) to make these delicious brownies full of clean, healthy ingredients. Yes, they have a little sugar but they are brownies after all.

1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup certified gluten free oat flour (or all almond flour or all oat flour)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2  teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/4 cup melted coconut oil + more for greasing pan
2 eggs, preferably pastured and/or organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I like to use 365 brand dark chocolate chunks or a 3 oz. dark chocolate bar, chopped)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 x 8 pan with coconut oil. In a medium bowl combine flour(s), cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well with a whisk.

To the same bowl, add applesauce, coconut oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour into greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool pan on a rack before cutting. Makes 16 brownies.

Notes:  I like them best with dark chocolate cocoa powder but my kids prefer the regular. If you haven’t tried coconut palm sugar yet, it is a great 1:1 substitution for regular sugar – it is still sugar though so use in moderation.

 

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Happy New Year!! I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be a fantastic year. Being healthy and feeling great will help make that come true! I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions because most of the time we don’t stick to them and then we are disappointed in ourselves. So this year, instead of BIG hard to reach goals, try making some really simple, small changes that will greatly benefit your health in the long run.

Drink More Water. The kind of water you drink is so important too. Invest in a good filter at home and take water with you in glass or stainless steel bottles. Tap water is full of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and chlorine. Plastic water bottles can leach chemicals into the water. Plus, they are an absolute nightmare for the environment. I take a big water bottle (or 2!) with me everywhere I go. Make water your main beverage in 2016.

Take a Probiotic Daily. Most people have some kind of digestive issues – bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux…These are not normal and it is important to figure out what is causing them and get rid of them for good. Many things can disrupt the good bacteria in our gut such as pesticides, chlorine, BPA, toxic skin care products and cleaning products, over the counter medications, pharmaceuticals and stress. It is important to avoid these things as much as possible and to add good bacteria back into our gut. That is what probiotics do. A large part of your immune system is located in your gut, so let’s keep that gut healthy!

Make Sleep a Priority. Most people that I work with or talk to have sleep problems – trouble falling asleep, trouble going back to sleep or just not sleeping long enough. Not getting enough good quality sleep is linked to so many issues such as gaining weight or trouble losing weight, stress, poor diet choices, excess caffeine consumption, negative mood, lack of concentration and lower immune function. All of these things can eventually lead to health problems. 

Here are some helpful tips: Read a book for an hour before bed instead of watching tv or being on your phone or computer, practice deep breathing and/or stretching before bed, take an epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil, drink a mug of herbal tea specifically blended for better sleep, avoid eating and drinking alcohol several hours before bedtime, don’t have any caffeine after lunchtime and keep your bedroom super cool.

Aim for 8 hours every night. Sleeping is the bomb. It is my favorite healthy habit. I hope you can learn to love it again!

Cut Back on Sugar. Way Back. Most Americans are consuming so much more sugar than they realize. Many foods that are considered “healthy” such as cereal, yogurt, salad dressing, protein bars and smoothies most likely have large amounts of added sugar. The food companies purposely add tons of it to make your taste buds get used to that much sugar and crave more. Read labels and avoid foods with added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Better yet, avoid most processed foods.

Switch to Organic Coffee. And only drink one cup. Coffee beans are one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world and it is something that most of us consume regularly. Try and find a great local company that uses organic fair trade beans and support them. It will be more expensive but that is even more reason to only drink one delicious perfect cup. Quality over quantity!

Cook Most Meals at Home. Eating in restaurants is not only expensive but most food is full of sugar, salt, trans fats and loads of empty calories. Give your family the gift of good health this year and learn to cook simple, delicious meals that everyone will love.

If you have any questions about how to incorporate any of these changes into your life this year, let me know! I’m here to help.

I hope you have a HAPPY, HEALTHY 2016!

xoxo

~Krista

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