Sunday, October 12, 2014

Time for a nutritional reset to calm inflammation!

Occasionally I can tell that my body needs a little extra cleanse from inflammation.  I have been eating to calm inflammation long enough that I know my body and the signals it sends me when it needs a little repair.

The best way for me to accomplish this is by doing a bit of a twist on the popular Leek Soup cleanse.  I thought I would share it with you so you also can enjoy the benefits.

I start my day as usual with my morning Anti-inflammatory Berry Smoothie.


While I'm enjoying my smoothie I prepare 3 large leeks.


First cut off the top of the leeks at the point where the leek starts turning a darker green.


Then cut the bottoms off and slice the leeks in to about 1/2 inch slices.


 Separate the slices of leeks and place in a colander and rinse well.  I do this because leeks tend to collect dirt between the layers and this method gets all the dirt out.


Now this is the  part that you may not see on other Leek Soup recipes.  Place the washed leeks into a large pot and drizzle with oil.  I use olive or avocado oil.


Saute the leeks until browning begins.  This is carmelization, and it makes a world of difference in the flavor of the broth and leeks. If I am going to do this type of a cleanse, by golly, I will add as much flavor as I can.


After the leeks begin browning add 2 cups of hot water and start scraping all the brown goodness of the sides and bottom of the pot.  Add 4 additional cups of hot water and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.  I cover the pot with a vented lid so that I don't lose much liquid.


 After the leeks are finished cooking, strain the leeks and broth over a bowl so that you save all the broth.  Then put the leeks in another bowl.  This is your meal and snacks for the next 1 1/2 days.  Aww...come on it's not that bad and it makes such a great difference in how I feel.

 


I usually start around lunchtime with 1/2 cup of broth.  Then a couple hours later 1/2 cup of leeks. They taste better if you squirt a little lemon juice over them and sprinkle with just a touch of salt and pepper.  A couple hours later 1/2 cup of broth and you just keep alternating throughout the day.

I also drink a lot of water during the day and flavor with mint or muddled fruit.  Yes...I'm truly all about flavor :)  Herbal tea is something I enjoy during this cleanse as well.



On day 2 I start with my smoothie and at lunch do the same routine as the previous day.  The only difference is at the end of the 2nd day I enjoy a d dinner of grilled salmon and a side of broccoli.  The cleanse is complete and I always feel so much better :)






Friday, September 19, 2014

Easy Tamale Casserole for Cooks Night Off!


As much as I love to cook, sometimes I just need a night off.  This tamale casserole is so easy to make that it counts as a night off.  It's so delicious that I don't feel like I'm missing out by staying home.  An added bonus is that it's still lean and healthy.  

My husband loved this so much that he has requested I make a couple for him to take up hunting to share at camp.  I was a bit surprised since it has an ingredient called polenta and not spuds :)  Not what I picture at elk camp but I'm so happy to oblige!

I use ground turkey quite often instead of ground beef.  Since the ground turkey comes in packages that are approximately 1 1/2 pounds I will fry it all up with onions and then put half of it in a Ziploc freezer bag to freeze for later use. 


These ingredients make this casserole a snap.  Frozen corn, tomato sauce, polenta, fire roasted chopped chili's and ground turkey with onions. (The cooked ground turkey and onions are in the casserole dish)  Not shown are the chili powder and Parmesan cheese.


Mix the cooked ground turkey and onions, tomato sauce, green chili's, chili powder and corn.


Pour into the casserole dish and top with sliced polenta.  I did two layers.



Sprinkle each layer with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes on 350 degrees.


Easy Tamale Casserole

3/4 - 1 pound ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 small can of fire roasted chili peppers, diced (mild)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
1 tube of polenta, sliced into 14 even slices (I purchase mine at Trader Joe's)

Brown the ground turkey and onions.  Add in the tomato sauce, chili peppers, chili powder, and corn. Mix well.  

Into a 2 quart casserole dish, place half of the meat mixture.  Place 7 slices of polenta over the mixture.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Then spread the remaining mixture over the cheese.  Place the remaining 7 polenta slices on top of the meat mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BBQ Drumsticks Grilled to Flavorful Perfection!


The past few weeks, temps in our area have been cooling down quite a bit.  As you recall, this summer I was so hot that I was even cooking Enchiladas inside our air conditioned home instead of grilling on the patio.  All that has changed and I have been enjoying grilling again.

A favorite of ours is BBQ Drums. What takes these over the top is the marinade that these little drums soak in prior to grilling.



After marinating the chicken for a few hours in the refrigerator, I put them on a hot grill.


As they start to cook and get grill marks I brush on BBQ sauce and turn them every few minutes and brush with BBQ sauce again.  I do this until they are done. 



The marinade for the chicken has ginger and garlic in it.  Both of these are powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients.  When paired with a salad such a Spaghetti Salad with Garden Fresh Veggies that is also full of anti-inflammatory ingredients, you can enjoy this delicious meal with the confidence that you are truly fueling your body with whole food goodness that can calm inflammation.

Grilled BBQ Drumsticks

1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
12 drumsticks
BBQ sauce

Mix brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic together in a bowl.  Place chicken drums in glass dish and pour the marinade over all the drums.  Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Turn the drums occasionally to ensure that all the chicken gets marinated. 

Place the marinated drumsticks on the grill over medium high heat.  As they cook and begin to get grill marks (approximately 5 minutes per side) turn and let the other side cook.  After both sides have cooked and show grill marks begin basting with bbq sauce and turning every 3 minutes. I do this a couple of times on each side.  Total grilling time will be 20-25 minutes.  


  




Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summertime and Super Easy Enchiladas



Summer has finally arrived here in the Spokane/North Idaho area.  That makes this girl very happy. In fact, yesterday we reached a comfortable 92 degrees.  I am being just a bit sarcastic when I say "comfortable" because, for someone who so badly wanted summer, I seriously wimped out with the temperature.

Since I wanted to be in the air conditioned house late afternoon, I decided to make a pan of these super Easy Enchiladas.  It is entirely possible to combine simple with healthy anti-inflammatory eating.  I will show you how.  The recipe follows at the end of this post.

Layer each tortilla with re-fried beans, sour cream, cooked ground beef, and olives.  I use whole grain tortillas for myself to decrease my intake of inflammatory foods. Also, the spices that are in the hamburger all calm inflammation.


If you do more than one at a time the work will be faster :) 


Roll up the filled tortillas and place in a 9X13 baking dish.


Pour enchilada sauce over all of the filled tortillas.  As you can see we like a lot of sauce.  Use less if you prefer. 


Sprinkle shredded Mexican Style Cheese over the sauce.


Place your olives on top (Olives are a great source of Omega 3 fats).


Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and ta da!!  Easy Enchiladas :) 






Easy Enchiladas

1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2-2  10 ounce cans of mild enchilada sauce
6  ounce can of large pitted olives, sliced
9  7-inch tortillas 
Non-fat sour cream
Re-fried beans

Place ground beef in a frying pan and brown. When done, add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and salt with about 1/4 cup of hot water.  Stir and let simmer for a few minutes until the water evaporates.  Add about half of the olives to the ground beef mixture.

Layer each tortilla with a large spoonful of beans, sour cream, and ground beef.  

Roll up each filled tortilla and place in a 9X13 baking dish. 

Pour enchilada sauce over the enchiladas.  

Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining olives on top of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until done.  

Enjoy :)



Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Time of Self-Reflection


It has been a while since I have written a post.  In fact, I have had so much going on within my body and mind that I just don't know where or how to begin.  So, I guess I will start from the top!

I had a flare.  I was miserable and in quite a bit of pain for a couple of weeks.  While in my flare, I engaged in self-reflection. This is what I learned:

I get hurt easily and working out with others at a gym is not an option for me.  I try to keep up with the pace of those in the class and I always, always, always end up in physical therapy and stop exercising. Because of my disease it takes me a very long time to heal.

Yoga works for me.  I have given myself permission to slow down and care for my body gently.  6 days ago I began doing a 30 minute yoga video every single morning.  It's hard.  There is nothing easy about it, but, it gently stretches and strengthens my body.  I already feel a positive difference in this short amount of time.

Weights aren't so bad.  I am also using free weights to work on my biceps, triceps, chest and back.

Crunches, well I still don't like those, but I am doing them every morning.

Cycling is the aerobic exercise for me.  It's fun, gentle, and social.

Walking is also gentle.  Having a small dog who enjoys going for walks keeps me inspired.

From time to time, especially when my joints are visibly swollen and I'm hurting, fatigued and feel sick all over, I question my decisions.  It is in those painful times that my disease becomes very real to me.  I question my choice to trust nutrition rather than pharmaceuticals.  In this recent time of reflection I have realized that for now I am doing the right thing and will trust my decision to heal my body with nutrition. Flares happen even when taking meds, so I won't base my decision on my recent flare.  If there ever comes a time when nutrition alone doesn't help me, I will definitely add a medication to prevent the crippling effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  But, for now I'm at peace with where I am on my journey.