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Posts Tagged ‘golden raisins’

Beat the Sugar Blues

In Nutrition, Recipe on January 7, 2016 at 4:35 am

sugar cookie

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust

It’s the new year and everyone is suddenly “cleaning up” their act. The list of restrictions and no-no’s add up and SUGAR might be on 2016’s list of banned foods. Taking a hard look at your sugar consumption is always a good idea. Merely shining the light of awareness on an issue automatically changes the situation.

Eliminating sugar cold-turkey is quite difficult; however, making a real attempt at reduction is a worthy use of your intention and effort. If you are one of the few who still aren’t convinced that sugar is harmful, check out this and this and then get back to me when you’ve left the land of denial.

Here are some suggestions for scaling back your intake and reducing sugar cravings as well as a recipe to help you ease into healthier options that include a bit of sugar  along with a bunch of healthy other stuff like fiber and healthy fats to balance out your blood sugar.

Get honest about your relationship to sugar. Decide what level of importance you will give to this topic. Maybe it’s just not a priority for you. Maybe other issues in your life require more attention at this time. That’s OK, just demonstrate consistency with whatever approach and focus you choose.

hot chocolateMake sure you are getting enough carbohydrates as well as enough calories. Calorie deficits create cravings for fast energy sources (sugar!). It is very common to under-nourish yourself just enough to NOT lose significant weight but instead instigate late evening carb cravings due to lack of sufficient calories. Fueling yourself with plenty of HEALTHY carb calories from whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans will keep sugar cravings at bay.

Natural consequences. Maybe you are a bit of a masochist or need to be smacked upside the head before you make a change? If that sounds familiar, then allow yourself an opportunity to OD on sugar and suffer the consequences. Dehydration, headache, fatigue, need for more sugar – sound like an addict yet? The only permanent damage is the vivid memory of your choices.

Treat sugar as an actual “treat”. It’s become such a staple in our diets that we eat it daily instead of occasionally. Know which seemingly healthy foods have added sugars (yogurt, muffins, energy bars, cereal) and which are too high in natural sugars without the benefit of fiber (fruit juice, refined grains & flours). Combine protein and fat with all carbohydrates to curb the sugar spike & crash. Fiber helps with this issue as well.

If you feel unqualified to make decisions regarding this topic, The Nutrition Source by Harvard School of Public Health is great website with very accessible information for making healthy food choices based on science.

You can feel good about these muffins and so will your family. My kids declared these to be “delicious” and asked “when are you going to make these again?”

Winter Weather Muffinsmuffins - dry ingredients

1.5 cups white flour

3/4 cup ground flaxseed

3/4 oat bran

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon muffins - fruits and seeds

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

2 apples, peeled and diced

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup milk (cow, almond or soy)

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

Hemp or sunflower seeds (for muffin tops)

Combine dry ingredients. Combine milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Pour liquid into dry. Mix until moistened (don’t over-mix). Fold in carrots, fruits, and nuts.muffins - winter weather

Fill greased muffin tins to about 3/4 of the way then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp hemp or sunflower seeds. Bake at 350 for 12-15 mins. Smother with butter and enjoy! 

If nutrition is your thing then read this: good source of fiber, vitamin A, thiamin, manganese, and omega-3s.

1 muffin = 203 kcals, 9g fat, 8g sugar, 5g fiber, 6g protein.

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Forcing the Soup

In Mindfulness, Recipe on January 24, 2015 at 3:37 am

“Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence. Hold on to the truth within yourself as to the only truth.” ~ Buddha

coconut red lentil soup

Second time is the charm.

Fueled by dark chocolate coconut haystacks, decaf chai, and the Bon Iver Pandora station, I banged out this soup one afternoon mostly because the light in my kitchen was waning; therefore, my window for decent food photography was closing. That was my first red flag. You know red flags? Those super obvious banners alerting you – but only in retrospect, of course – to the situations, turns, decisions, or people you should have ran from. Well, everyone knows you can’t rush the soup; however, that’s exactly what I was doing. And the soup ended up terrible because I forced it…to be made…well, I forced it into the trash as well.

lentils colander

Split red lentils are really tiny. Like, tiny enough to fit through a colander hole.

Second red flag: attempting to rinse lentils in a colander. Those suckers are tiny. Red flag #3: I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed and was actually considering subbing goji berries for golden raisins. When a friend rushed over with her supply of raisins (who actually has golden raisins on hand?), I falsely thought “this soup is meant to be”. Final red flag: I glanced at stove clock at 5:33pm and realized that, damn it, I’d missed the sunset. I had a pang of regret that grew exponentially after a blizzard of sunset photos stormed my social media feeds.

Why did I continue on despite feeling uneasy and unfocused? I know better. I’m in tune. I’m a yogini. I don’t force things to happen. I allow things to happen. I meditate. I set intentions not goals. OK. That last part is not true and that’s where the problem lies. I had made it a goal to make a new soup every Thursday regardless of whether or not SoupAsana commenced. So…even though I was tired and had a lot scheduled for the following day and had a lot of space in my weekend (where I could make soup!), the specificity of my goal (to Thursdays) forced me to move forward with soup-making against the signs of the universe.

lentil soup - bad

Inedible. In the trash.

Perhaps I am being dramatic. A terrible pot of soup is not such a big loss. But, really, how often have you done this with important things? Like your health, your relationships, your career. We insist on things happening in a certain way, at a particular time, and we set measurable goals to make sure that it all goes down as planned. And then eventually, after enough forcing and ignorance, there’s an injury – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and you just knew it was coming. You always knew. The signs were there. You just didn’t want to see them.

Anyway, it’s just soup. And it’s also a tidy little reminder to heed the nudges of the universe and tuggings of your heart. Your ego is the one making the goals and setting the timelines but your heart can see the future and knows that timing is everything. Follow it.

I made a second attempt at this soup the following day. I tweaked some measurements and ingredients. I was more present. It made all the difference.

1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)
8 cups water
2 cups carrots, cut into rounds
2 TBSP fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 TBSP curry powder
2 TBSP ghee (or butter or olive oil)
8 scallions, only white and light green parts, finely chopped
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14oz can coconut milk
4 tsp fine grain sea salt
handful cilantro, chopped

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water – just don’t rinse them in a colander! Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft (important to test this as I charged ahead with soup-making and peas were still hard!).

chai and coconut haystacks

Dinner of chai and chocolate on the first night.

Add ghee to a pan over medium heat along with scallions, ginger, and raisins. Saute for about five minutes stirring constantly until everything is greasy and glassy, then add the tomato paste and saute for another couple minutes.

Add the curry powder (the original recipe recommends toasting curry powder. It’s stressful. Don’t do it.) to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so (this is your opportunity to make it taste good. Let it simmer. Taste it. Add salt. No texting.)

Enjoy topped with cilantro and yogurt if your curry powder had some kick!