<data:blog.pageTitle/> --> Gluten Free A-Z : October 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes ( flourless)

Grain Free Pumpkin brownies

 These pumpkin cupcakes/muffins are outrageously good for a few reasons.

  • They are flourless ( like a flourless chocolate cake which is decadent and creamy) 
  • They are made with just a bowl and spoon
  • They are easy and fast ( kids can make them) 
  • They are rich and creamy , moist and delicious
  • They are made from real food, so they are healthy too
  • It's a nutritious Grab and Go after school snack

From start to finish you only need about 40 minutes, including the baking time. Do you like flourless chocolate cake? You will love this just as much ( even better) . The original recipe was for pumpkin brownies- ( so you could put them in an 8X8 pan) I just changed the shape by making into individual sized pumpkin cupcakes.

It is a perfect gluten/grain free recipe boasting all the fall flavors. The chunky almond butter ( you could probably use peanut butter) makes it a little crunchy while the pumpkin keeps it nice and moist and flavorful. Since it is flourless, you don't have to buy expensive gluten free flours to make this a gluten free cupcake.  These cupcakes are winners !!

I made my cupcakes with pureed pumpkin, but you could easily and successfully substitute any cooked and mashed orange fall vegetable ( butternut squash, cooked carrots, cooked sweet potato)

High in protein, vitamins, and good fat, these pumpkin treats are nutritious. Perfect for when the kids( or big kids)  get home from school.

Let's face it, the processed snack items that you buy in the store do not provide solid nutrition- and they do provide chemicals, loads of sugar , and unknown ingredients. As a teacher ( high school), I can tell you that the brain runs on fuel- If you want your kids to be able to focus, concentrate, and think- then give them good solid nutrition. It will pay off-

These individual (gluten free and grain free) little cakes smelled so good coming out of the oven, my husband and grand kids barely waited for them to cool off before diving in. 
They each gave the recipe a 10!!

You have to taste them to believe how good they are.

Author: Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 5- 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Read it now; Pin it for later 

  • 1 cup chunky almond butter ( or peanut butter) 
  • 1 cup of pureed pumpkin or butternut squash, mashed
  • 1 egg (or egg repalcer,) beaten
  • 1/3 cup of honey ( or more if you prefer it sweeter) 
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon ( or pumpkin pie spice- make your own) 
  • 1 cup of raisins or 1/2 cup of coca nibs or chocolate chips
  • optional: or if you really want to be bad, use semi sweet chocolate chips instead of raisins-( you know what we used )---chocolate and pumpkin? amazing 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Mix all of the ingredients together till smooth. ( I mixed it by hand with a large spoon) 
Pour batter into cupcakes tins ( makes 11) fill the 12th  3/4 full with water.
Bake for 25-30 minutes . Test with a toothpick. Cool and enjoy. 

pumpkin cupcakes
I love the rich orange color of the pumpkin in the batter
                              pumpkin cupcakes

 This post will  be shared on  

My blog carnival list

including Gluten Free Homemaker and Allergy Free Wednesday and 
Healthy Vegan Fridays 

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Food is my passion. I am gluten intolerant, busy. and strive for a healthy balanced lifestyle. It has taken me many years to develop and discover easy healthy recipes that meet gluten free, vegetarian and real food standards. On my blog I share my journey, my struggles, my discoveries, and my new recipes. I hope you find ideas, resources, and recipes that will be helpful to you. Come Back soon.- Judee 


Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon and receive a very small compensation when you buy anything from Amazon by clicking on to Amazon from my blog - This helps me defray the cost of my blog expenses. Thank you for your support.

3K+ Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by. Scroll down to the end of the post and click on comments.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spinach and Garlic Soup ( 1 PP on WW)

weight watchers spinach soup

Spinach and garlic sauteed in a little olive oil has always been a match made in heaven for me.
Making it into a soup is brilliant and tastes divine.

Light, low calorie, and nutrient dense, this rich green soup can be whipped up in under 15 minutes and made in small quantities.

Whether you are following Dr. Fuhrman, Weight Watchers, Paleo, vegan, gluten free/grain free, this soup is a winner and will help you keep warm, healthy, and satisfied.

On cold fall nighst, I like to start every dinner with soup.
However, since this soup doesn't cook on the stove, it is also great for hot weather too since you won't be heating up the kitchen. Pin it right now so you will have it when you need it!! Pin It

This is how I came up with this soup. 
I had spinach and garlic sauté left over from last night's dinner. I simply took the leftovers ( spinach and garlic sauté) and added some vegetable broth, whizzed it in my Nutribullet ( which I love) till smooth and in seconds I had soup-  I heated the soup, dusted it with some nutmeg ( or you could use curry powder which has nutmeg , cloves, cinnamon etc) and licked the bowl clean. It was delicious.

You can make this soup for one 
No need to make an entire pot of soup if you are the only one eating it! Simply make the spinach and add the amount of broth you desire to the Nutribullet!

Another Way to Add More Healthy Greens to Your Diet-
We know we should be including more greens in our diet because of their amazing alkalizing health benefits. Greens contain the pigment chlorophyl which gets its energy from the sun and passes it on to us! Greens are important body detoxers ( body cleaners) as well.  It doesn't get much greener than this soup!

1 very large package of organic baby spinach ( most packages are pre-washed)
6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and pressed
olive oil spray or olive oil
2 cups ( or more if desired) of vegetable broth
nutmeg or curry powder to taste
Optional: Himalayan salt to taste

I used a giant size container of organic baby spinach from BJ's ; it cooks way down


Spray a large skillet with olive oil. Turn the burner on low and add pressed garlic to the skillet . Saute for a minute and then add the organic baby spinach and cover with the lid. Allow to the spinach to begin to wilt. Stir well and remove from stove.

Put sauteed mixture ( spinach and garlic) and vegetable broth into a Nutribullet or blender. Whizz until smooth. Pour soup into a saucepan to heat. Serve in bowls dusted with nutmeg.. ( serves 3-4)

Why I love my Nutribullet: 

  • It is small, yet powerful 
  • I make my smoothie and drink it from the same container ( no mess) and I can take the container in the car with me..
  • I purchased it a year ago and use it everyday for a multitude of uses
  • It can handle nuts and seeds
  • It is convenient because of the its small size and ease of using
  • I use this instead of my Vitamix  ( which I loved)  90% of the time
  • It is a great value for the money $99 or less
  • The large container goes right into the dishwasher
  • It is small enough to take with me when I travel 
  • Don't confuse the Nutribullet with the Magic Bullet. This is much more powerful
Vitamix or Nutribullet ?
I love them both. If you are wondering about purchasing a Vitamix or a Nutribullet.. you may want to check out the Nutribullet.. I[ve been thrilled with mine ...and it's so much less expensive. However, if you are a large family and need to make quantity- check out the Vitamix

May be shared on some of the following blog carnivals: Blog Carnivals & 
                                                                     Souper Sundays..


Disclaimer: I am not being paid by Nutribullet to promote their product.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cider Glazed Butternut Squash

Cider Glazed Butternut Squash

This Cider Glazed Butternut squash dish is an amazing recipe. It is made with only two ingredients and is very easy to make. 

I used butternut squash, but you could substitute sweet potatoes or any kind of winter squash.

It's as simple as 1-2-3. Just cube the vegetable and then roast or steam it.

Why I steamed my squash instead of roasting it

  • Since I was short on time, steaming vegetables is a faster method than roasting.
  • I could have just as well have roasted the cubed squash by tossing the cubes in a little olive oil and then roasting on 400 degrees for about 25-30  minutes. The steaming version took only about 15 minutes, but then I had a pot and steaming basket to wash
  • Steaming makes the squash softer and moister; Roasting makes the squash a little sweeter but firmer. Either way it is delicious; It's your choice!

To me, this recipe tastes like a candied yam.
It's a great way to serve any winter squash or sweet potatoes without any added table sugar.

If you are entertaining this recipe really works for most guests because it is not only gluten free and vegan, but also allergy friendly.

  • Gluten free/grain free
  • Dairy free
  • Egg free
  • Nut free. 
  • Low in calories and low in fat. 
  • A  cup portion, if steamed without oil, is only 1 Point Plus.
I like to serve it for fall holidays
I like to serve it for a holiday dinner like Rosh Hashanah or Thanksgiving.
I actually made it for company tonight and there was not a morsel left over.

6 cups of cubed butternut squash ( or yams or any winter squash)
1/2 cup spiced apple cider ( got mine at Trader Joe's)
Optional: sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice mix


Place steamer basket in a large pot with lid. Add cubed squash or yams. Steam for about 15 minutes until vegetable is soft. In a separate pan bring the apple cider to a boil. Allow the liquid to reduce until you have a thickened glaze. Remove vegetable and drizzle with the glaze. ( or I cooked my squash in the apple cider for the last 5 minutes. Serve in a flat Pyrex of other dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
chopped Butternut squash
Raw and Ready to steam or roast
Butternut squash

Will be shared on some of the following blog carivals: blog carnivals including
Healthy Vegan Fridays  and Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post!

Read it now, pin it for later: Pin It

My blog carnival list

including Gluten Free Homemaker and Allergy Free Wednesday

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Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon and receive a very small compensation when you buy anything from Amazon by clicking on to Amazon from my blog - This helps me defray the cost of my blog expenses. Thank you for your support.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inspirational Quotes

    One of my favorites of my boards on Pinterest is my inspirational quotes board. I love finding quotes and pinning them. I picked out a few of the many that I've collected to share with you.


Do any of these quotes resonate with you?
Do you have a favorite quote.. leave it in the comments!

                 "Let Go or Be Dragged" 

In addition, I find tons of fabulous gluten, vegetarian, and vegan recipes that I've pinned from all over the Internet that look amazing. I also find lots of DIY's and garden ideas. Please visit my Pinterest boards. I would love if you followed me on Pinterest! 

Pin It Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by. Scroll down to the end of the post and click on comments.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sweet and Creamy Pumpkin Pie Soup-

                               pumpkin soup

The daily blog carnivals have been overflowing with pumpkin recipes, so I wanted to join in. However, aside from making a wonderful vegan traditional pumpkin pie, I've only used pumpkin for soup. So, I decided to make a pumpkin pie soup!

The recipe is easy, the taste is sweet and delightful, and the ingredients are nutritious, vegan , and of course gluten free. What a creation!

Think about this! - pumpkin in itself is bland and takes on the flavors of whatever you add to it. It is the spices that gives pumpkin pie its taste. Following that logic, I knew it would be the spices that would give this soup its taste.

So, I went to the local farm and picked up a medium cooking pumpkin ( a sugar pumpkin).
I washed it, cut it in half , took out the seeds,  then steamed it in one of those simple stainless steel steamer baskets

When the pumpkin was soft, I scooped out all the cooked pumpkin. If you taste the pumpkin at this point, it's super bland.

Why use pumpkin if it's so bland?

  • It's full of fiber 
  • It provides important nutrients and antioxidants that our bodies need that are available mostly in fall vegetables like pumpkin, butternut squash, and orange meaty squashes.
  • It's plentiful right now at most farms, and many cultures believe it is best for our bodies when we eat locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • It's easy and fast... 
  • It makes a great soothing soup that tastes great!

These pumpkins are just decoration, I used a sugar baby variety of pumpkin for this soup


1 large onion, sliced in 1/2 moons 
Olive oil spray
2 cups spiced apple cider 
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups of  pumpkin puree or steamed pumpkin
2 yams, steamed and chopped
1/2 -1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
optional: For a creamy soup add 1 cup of soaked  and drained
raw cashews ( soak for 3 hours)  before blending


Saute onions slowly in olive oil spray until caramelized . Add cider, broth, steamed pumpkin, steamed yams and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Using a hand immersion blender, blend until smooth. Taste and garnish with additional cinnamon if desired.

I bought my spiced cider at Trader Joe's ( Where else?)

Steamer Basket Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer Basket Folding Steamer Insert for Veggie Fish Seafood Cooking, Expandable to Fit Various Size Pot (5.1" to 9")

This Recipe Was Featured On: 
Delicious Dish Tuesday 

5 Healthy Halloween Ideas from last year 

For lots of similar recipes and ideas, Follow me on Pinterest

May be shared on some of the following blog carnivals: Blog Carnivals 
and Weekend Cooking where anyone is free to share any food related post

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Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on any Amazon link from my blog and make a purchase, I receive a very small compensation( at no additional cost to you) to help defray the cos to publishing a blog. Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Faux Pumpkins with Ribbon

white plastic pumpkins

Decorating faux pumpkins for the fall, couldn't be easier. I've never made a craft before. This is my very first attempt and surprisingly it was easy. I always admire all the beautiful crafts on Pinterest but I usually don't make any because I'm intimidated because of my lack of skills.

My friend Fay always decorates her fireplace mantle for every occasion. I wanted to get in on the fun, so I decided to decorate with pumpkins for the fall season. I used faux plastic pumpkins, some ribbon, and glue. That's it!

Believe it or not, this is my own creation. I just thought up the idea. I found two different ribbons that I liked, cut them into strips and just used wood glue to paste the bottom and the top to hold the ribbon in place. I did have some help from my friend Vicki. We experimented together until we found a glue that held onto the plastic, and cut the ribbon until we found a length that we liked. Pasting the ribbon was a little tedious, so I welcomed the help. We made 4 pumpkins total.

We only had one mishap! We used the scissors to hold the ribbon in place on the pumpkin with some crazy glue and the scissors glued closed. They are now forever crazy glued together. It turned out we didn't even need crazy glue because it didn't work on the pumpkin.  The wood glue seemed to work best.

You could use any color ribbon and create all kinds of effects..

I love the way it turned out. Am I now a crafter? I love to hear your comments!

black and white pumpkins

May be shared on some of the following blog carnivals: 
                                Blog carnivals

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Paleo Stuffed Eggplant

vegetarian stuffed eggplant

Eggplants are still large and plentiful at the local farms despite that it is mid October, so I couldn't resist buying one and trying a new recipe. This vegan sauteed vegetable recipe is easy, fast, and flavorful. It makes nice presentation and an interesting side dish. 

                             Secret Recipe Club

I found this recipe on a blog called Flavors by Four, my Secret Recipe Club partner for the month of October.
The blog is authored by a mother daughter team. I found 76 vegetarian recipes to choose from, lots of gluten free friendly recipes, and lots of interesting ideas in addition to a variety of all kinds of recipes. The posts include great pictures and quality step by step tutorials.  I highly recommend checking out their blog. It is definitely a blog I'll be following.

I wanted to keep the recipe vegan, so I left out the cheese. I generously added some fresh basil ( still growing in my yard) and fresh thyme. My eggplant was huge, so I only bought one. It worked out well.

2 medium to large eggplants ( I used one huge eggplant) 
2 tbsp olive oil, split
1 tbsp chopped garlic ( I used 2 tablespoons) 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ( I left out the cheese) 
I added 1/4 fresh basil and some fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Cut both eggplants in half and scoop out the insides leaving a little eggplant by the shell to keep its shape. This isn't easy to do.  I did it with a knife and spoon. With a paper towel and 1 tbsp of olive oil, wipe inside of eggplant and set on baking sheet.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
In a large skillet, saute the eggplant insides which you have diced, the onion, garlic and green pepper.  Cook until all ingredients are tender about 10 minutes.  ( I needed to cook it for about 20 minutes) 

Fill each eggplant shell with cooked veggies.  Top with diced tomatoes.  Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes. 
vegan eggplant recipes

Variation for the eggplant recipe: 
Another variation: I added some cooked quinoa to the eggplant vegetable mixture to make it more filling if you want to eat it as entree with soup and a salad. The quinoa adds protein.
quinoa stuffing

cherry tomatoes and eggplant
Just picked these from my garden

My cherry tomatoes are still plentiful in mid October
The story of my cherry tomato patch: 

I never planted cherry tomatoes. One day three years ago, we noticed a tomato plant sprouting among our bushes. By the end of the summer, it was full of cherry tomatoes. We tasted them ( hesitantly) and found them sweet and delicious. We marveled at where the plant came from. Maybe a bird dropped a seed the year before.. did we toss a cherry tomato in the bushes??

Well, the next summer, we had three plants again,  but the cherry tomatoes were bitter and the skin tough. We didn't really eat them.

Summer #3, this summer we have about three wild plants, and the cherry tomatoes are sweeter and better than ever... we do nothing to take care of them and they grow wild among our bushes.

If you are looking for a fun tomato plant to grow for kids, small cherry tomatoes are the ones to pick. They take very little care, are prolific, and keep coming back each year.For the past two weeks, we have been picking about 100 day from 3 plants..my grand kids love it.. and if you squeeze a few in the soil at the end of the season, they will come back..

This recipe may be shared on some of the following blog carnivals:    blog carnivals 
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Cauliflower & White Bean Soup

gluten free cauliflower soup

White Beans and Cauliflower are a winning combination in this delicious soup. Mild and pleasing, this starter is high in protein, fiber, and taste.  A perfect fit for the chilly fall season. I always like to try to take advantage of the local seasonal produce, and cauliflower is now available at all the farmer stands and CSA's. And of course this soup is vegan and naturally gluten free.

My daughter in law, Wendy, makes outstanding soup, and this is one of her personal recipes. I took the photo at her house with the small amount of soup that was left over from dinner.

We all know how important it is to include a large variety of vegetables in our family's diet, and soup is an easy and tasty way to do it.  In addition to nutrients, white vegetables like cauliflower, onions, and leeks provide specific protective antioxidants that boost our immune systems. Antioxidants are known for their health benefits in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and health in general. Leeks are in the same family as onions and garlic and add a delicate flavor to soups, while adding a powerful punch of antioxidants.

We are learning more and more that real food ( like fresh fruits, vegetables and beans) play a vital role in the quality of how we look and feel. We can no longer rely on processed foods and expect to feel our best. Half of the society is walking around with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Isn't it time that we begin to make the connection between how we eat and take care of ourselves and our health.

This is a true story:
A close friend of mine went to the doctor 5 months ago and found out she was borderline diabetic. In addition, some other numbers for cholesterol and blood pressure were high as well. My friend was 60  pounds overweight.  She is in her mid 50's and didn't want to become one of the statistics living on medications that also have all kinds of side effects. She decided to change her eating habits and lifestyle.

She cut out sugar, white flour, and all processed foods. She went to Weight Watchers and learned portion control, and she started walking ( with me) an hour a day. 5 months later she is now 40 pounds lighter. She returned for a blood test and EVERYTHING was in normal range... She feels great and looks great! All with only a change in eating habits and daily walking. She now eats only real food as opposed to being a processed food eater. She does not need any medication. This is not the only person I know that has made this change for health reasons and has avoided medication.. The culprits seem to come back to :  sugar, flour, and all processed foods.

Homemade soup is really easy to make and provides quality nutrition and taste for you family. In addition, homemade soup can be made low in fat, low in calories, and high in fiber. It's filling, and as I mentioned in previous posts, helps me keep my weight down. Since the weather is chilly and damp, why not treat your family to a bowl.

cauliflower soup recipe vegan
Cut the cauliflower into bite size pieces 

4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 leeks, chopped ( or 1 large onion)
1 head of cauliflower ( broken into small flowerettes)
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 -3 cups of water
2 cups of white beans, cooked
1/4 cup fresh dill ( or a few generous shakes of dry dill)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil ( only use the fresh)
salt and cracked pepper to taste

Saute the garlic, leeks, and cauliflower in a little vegetable oil spray for about 10 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, water and white beans. Cook for about 15- 20 more minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Mash some of the cauliflower into smaller pieces.. Enjoy; it's that easy..

I love to read your comments; please leave one...

This recipe may be shared on some of the following blog carnivals:    Souper Sunday and these  blog carnivals 

Pin It Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by. Scroll down to the end of the post and click on comments.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup ( W.W.)

Weight Watchers Soup Recipes

Butternut squash and fresh rosemary are a delicious combination that create an inviting flavor in this easy autumn soup. I love soup all year, but especially in the fall when the weather starts to become a little cooler and all the beautiful orange vegetables start to appear at the farm stands ( winter squashes and pumpkin).

Low in Calories
Homemade soup helps me lose weight, especially a Weight Watchers friendly recipe. I usually don't eat Butternut squash soup because it is paired with sweeteners,cream and apples; this soup is not, and it's lower in calories! It is savory and is made with onions, carrots, and garlic.. I first tasted this nutritious soup at my sister in law Danielle's house . For me, it was love at first bite. The soup is soothing, absolutely delicious, and filling. Oh! it's only 1 point plus on Weight Watchers per serving!

Homemade soup helps me maintain or even lose weight..
Here's  how. Because it's filling, high in nutrients and fiber, it's a perfect starter to help curb my appetite before I eat  lunch or dinner. Because it is low in calories , I can enjoy 1 cup of this satisfying soup for just 1 Point Plus.

Homemade soup can be a great strategy for weight loss.
By the time I cook dinner,  I am usually fairly hungry, and I find that I end up snacking while cooking! Without a bowl of homemade soup handy, I usually consume a  large handful of rice crackers with some dip or maybe something even more fattening. I've decided that it's healthier for me and my weight to have a bowl of low calorie vegetable filling homemade soup always available.. After I take a few minutes to warm up and relax with a  nice bowl of soup, I can then start to make dinner without snacking , and I usually eat less  . it's a strategy that works for me. (I keep repeating the word homemade because store bought and canned soup are very very salty and not a good choice, especially for weight loss. )

 I  make a large pot of soup on the weekend and freeze some for other times.I always have a variety of soup in my freezer. Sometimes I only have to make soup every two or three weeks. In a pinch, I make a  Carrot Ginger Comfort Soup that  can be made in about 15 minutes. Other times I use the crock pot and make Vegetable detox soup that is 1 point plus on WW.

Fall is here! Butternut squash is in season and  plentiful .. pin this easy recipe for later and enjoy..

3 cups of cooked butternut squash ( I cut mine in half, scoop, and steam in steamer basket, then peel)
1 cup of raw carrots, sliced
1 and half cups of onions, diced
4 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, skinned off the stem
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of boiling  water
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste or 1 tsp of 21 Salute ( 21 salt free herbs from Trader Joe's)
optional: I love this mild soup just the way it is; however, if you want a more exotic flavor add 1 tsp of curry powder or graham masala to give it a kick! But I don't ..
I adapted this recipe from a curried butternut soup I saw on a blog called Our Neck of the Woods. 

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil spray or 2 teaspoons of olive oil  on low. Add the cooked butternut squash, uncooked sliced carrots, and rosemary. Saute for a few minutes. Add  the broth and the boiling water. Cook on low until the carrots are tender. Use an immersion blender or regular blender to blend. Add salt pepper to taste.

cooked butternut squash in chunks
I cut my squash in half , scoop out seeds and steam in a steaming basket.
When cool, I remove the skin easily and chop. ( Use a sharp peeler like this one to peel with no struggle in under a minute,)  OXO Good Grips Y Peeler- I love my peeler
rosemary in a pot growing on windowsill
My Fresh Rosemary is still growing outside.

pumpkins and squashes

This savory butternut squash soup is just one of the low calorie but nutrient dense soups that I make.

I also make the following soups.

What healthy weight loss strategies work for you to help curb your appetite or fill you up so you can still lose or maintain your weight? How do you peel butternut squash easily?
I love your comments... Please leave one and make my day!!

May be shared on a few of the following blog carnivals.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Americans Are Addicted to Junk Food- It's Not Your Fault

Who doesn't enjoy eating some occasional junk food?
But did you notice that once you start eating it, it is hard to stop?
Do you remember the potato chip commercial that said, " bet you can't eat just one." They were not kidding.  Studies are showing that processed food has actual addictive qualities. Making it  difficult to eat just one potato chip, cracker, piece of bread,  one bowl of cereal, pasta, pizza, or cookie for that matter.
According to new scientific research there may be a few reasons.

1. First, new research conducted by Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist, at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida reveals that frequent eating of foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat can begin to actually program the brain to crave more foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt, creating an actual addiction to these foods. This is the same kind of addiction that drug addicts experience. The new evidence suggests that junk food is addictive and that frequent indulgence can make you crave more . Making your eating patterns not a matter of will power, but a matter of addiction.

2. Secondly, Many women have a gene that makes their pancreas overreact when they eat carbohydrates. Research at Yale University revealed that over 40% of women have this gene. The overproduction of insulin after eating carbs causes the blood sugar to drop, thus creating a need to eat more carbs to give them more energy. That is why women with this gene are prone to crave carbohydrates, which only triggers another blood sugar drop and the desire for additional carbohydrates to raise the blood sugar.

What does that mean to us and our kids? 
Well it means that we can become addicted to junk food and processed food and find ourselves overeating to reach a level of satiation.  Paul Johnson, one of the scientists at Scripps said, " This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neuro-biological foundations" He also added , " You lose control. Which is the hallmark of addiction".

I made Black Bean brownies last week for my grand kids from black beans and other real foods. It was dense but tasty. It was made with no flour or commercial sugar ( made it with coconut crystals which are low glycemic) . Since I had sent it to their home, I never tasted it. I asked my son how it was?

 He said it was really good . However, I was surprised when he said they still had half the cake
 left. He said, 'mom, when you eat something that is made with real food, you don't need more than one small piece. It is very satiating."  

How telling was that! It is true. We do tend to be more satisfied and eat less of real food that has fiber and nutrients! 

So, don't kid yourself. If you eat processed food with white flour, sugar, corn syrup , milk chocolate, you may be training your brain to desensitize and it will need greater amounts of processed food to experience the same good feelings it used to get from a lesser amount. This can set up a dangerous pattern for unhealthy eating and excessive weight gain. 

If you are looking for healthy real food recipes ( all gluten free) look through my blog
This post is part of my 31 days to better health series

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3 Minute Stress Busters - relax, release, recharge in 3 minutes

Day 3 :

Have you ever heard the quote, " I am woman, I am invisible, I am tired" !!  Women want to do it all, but we pay a price by sacrificing our own health and well being.

Woman are often overextended and need to find ways to reduce their stress and eliminate the habits that lead to exhaustion and poor health..

I don't mean to generalize, but most men come home from work exhausted and take a little down time to relax. They read the mail, watch TV, have a snack or even take a little nap. They know how to take care of themselves. They  put their needs first.

Most women on the other hand, don't put themselves first, but they should. Woman try to do it all: take care of the household, their children, their husband, their extended family while juggling full time jobs, etc. Women rarely indulge in a little downtime after work. I know I keep going and keep pushing and sometime I really don't take care of me.

I often hear my husband say, " I've been working on this project for 2 hours, I'm going to take a little nap".

" What?, " I think. But you didn't finish the job!!  I can't imagine planning and cooking for a dinner party and just stopping because I am now tired. I'm never stop until the job is done. And I juggle.. I am doing things for my kids, for my husband, some volunteer work, etc. I know I overextend , and thus walk around somedays overtired, a little irritable, and a little stressed.

Is being super busy is a women thing? Women try to be Super Women, but often end up being Super Exhausted!

Is there a definitive solution? Probably not, but there are some simple, 3-5 minute strategies, I've found that  help me relax, relieve stress and restore balance. When I remember to take 3-5 minutes three or four times a day, I do feel better.

Here are some of my favorites rejevenators:

1. Just stop whatever you are doing and watch a 3 minute funny or inspiring YouTtube video or a music video on your phone, Ipad, computer...it relax you, make you laugh, or change your mood.

Watch this hilarious youtube video ( in very good taste) that reveals how a mom's work is never done. The music alone will give you a lift- but read the rest of the strategies before you leave to watch the video.

..                              Gotta watch:     It's a mom's day to the William Tell Overture.. A must watch..

2. Stop and just breath slowly for a full minute:  Just stop whatever you are doing, even if it is for only one minute.. close your eyes, take a deep breath in slowly and let it out slowly.. relax.. let go ... say a prayer if you are so inclined.


Play classical music in the background while you work. I had a co- worker who always had classical music playing in her office. As soon as I would enter her room and hear it, I would feel different- my stress level would drop immediately. Did you know that they play classical music in the waiting rooms at Grand Central Station in New York City? Classical music is soothing, helps restore balance and increases energy when you are feeling frazzled. Vivaldi, Mozart or Chopin are all excellent choices.

 Think mint. Mint energizes the senses, boosts your energy, and stimulates mental clarity. So, if you feel like your energy is getting low, reach for a mint, a cup of herbal mint tea, mint chewing gum or even some mint fragranced hand cream. I bought a mint roll on fragrance from the aromatherapy section of the health food store. The smell or taste of mint is refreshing and rejuvenating.

Grapefruit is another aroma that is stimulating to the senses. Keep a small container of grapefruit essential oil ( available at most health food stores and Whole Foods) and smell it when you are beginning to feel tired. Also, use grapefruit fragranced hand cream as a nice pick me up. In addition, eat a grapefruit; Pink grapefruits are loaded with Vitamin C, lycopene and antioxidants.

Sunlight.  Take a 5 -15 minute walk in the sun at lunchtime.  Being in the sun is uplifting and the walk will help you energize. Sunlight is essential for your body to produce Vitamin D. Research is just beginning to document the importance of getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen daily. To read more about sunlight and Vitamin D click here :  More Sunlight and Vitamin D

Stress Ball: Stress balls really work. I was at the dentist the other day and was a little nervous. The assistant handed me a stress ball in the shape of a giraffe to squeeze. I thought it was silly at first, but as the dentist worked on me..I found myself squeezing away. 
Here's something you can do right at your desk. If  you can't get up from your desk,  keep a squeeze ball in your drawer. If you start to feel tense or angry, pump a stress ball for at least 30 seconds to a minute or longer. If your hands aren't free, pump it between your knees. This will help relieve stress on the spot.

Massage Your EarsThe ears are loaded with acupressure points. By massaging the ear, you are massaging the acupressure points and thus stimulating the entire body. I love this one. It really relaxes me. Here's what to do: Gently pull your ears outward and tarting at the top, begin unroll the ears and working your way down. Repeat a few times. You will feel your ears heating up and the energy beginning to rush. It is one of the most relaxing and best quick energizers and you can do it anywhere.
  Breathe and Stretch: .Move away from your desk and take a good stretch. Put hands together in the prayer position in front of your chest, move your hands upward and stretch .. Also try this one. 
Split hands by moving one hand up toward the ceiling and the other hand downward toward the floor. The pull up and stretch. Now switch sides. This will help you stretch in two directions.  Do this exercise 3 or 4 times. It really feels great.

The Breathing Exercises really really work in just minutes!!!

 Polarized Breathing:   Deep breathing helps slow the heart rate, relieves nervous tension, clears toxins, and may lower blood pressure while reducing stress hormones. Start by putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Press one nostril closed and breathe in very deeply and slowly through the other nostril. Release slowly and repeat 3 times on the same side. Now switch sides and repeat three times on the other side.

Alternate Breathing: . This type of rhythmic breathing helps support ionization balance which impacts the balance of calcium and potassium in the bloodstream. When the ratio is balanced, you feel more relaxed. This is what you do : 

  • Put your tongue on the roof of mouth. 
  • Press one nostril closed and slowly breath in through the other. 
  • Slowly release and switch nostrils. 
  • Do this on one side and then repeat the breaths on the other side.  Repeat 3 times.

Massage Your Own Neck and Shoulders:  This is a quick massage that you can give yourself. Start by closing your eyes. Place your hand on the opposite shoulder. Massage your neck and shoulders. Switch hands and sides. aah!! Feels good and revitalizes your energy.
Acupressure: Using the thumb from one hand, massage the palm of your other hand. At the same time, use your index and middle and other fingers to massage the top of your hand. Massage for the count of 40 rubs and then switch hands. Also, massage the area between the thumb and the index finger for the count of twenty on each hand. 

Acupressure is the application of pressure on certain points on the body. Originating in China, acupressure works on the principles of acupuncture. When acupressure points are pressed, they help release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood that helps energize the life force. For years, martial artists are taught to massage their acupressure points to help improve circulation and increase flexibility of their muscles. 

Lift Your Spirits: Keep a picture of something or someone you love on or hanging near your desk: A picture of the ocean, a snowy day, your children or other family members, a pet, a waterfall, a beautiful sunny summer day, a fall day or whatever else makes your feel good. Looking at the picture will lift your spirits and energize you.

Golf Balls Massage: No, you won't have time to get out for a round of golf, but you can still benefit from golf balls. Keep a few in your desk drawer. When your feet are tired, slip off your shoe and roll one or two golf balls under your feet. Very relaxing. In addition, while sitting at your desk stretch out your legs and flex your feet back and forth 6 times and then rotate them at the ankles.

Choose Snacks Wisely When you need a little pick me up, skip the sugary granola bar. Instead, eat fresh fruit, some nuts, vegetable sticks and humus or some protein. 

. Dehydration is a major contributor to fatigue.  . By the time you are beginning to feel thirsty, your body is already starting to dehydrate

Tired Eyes: For every hour that you sit at a desk or use the computer stop for 5 minutes and try one of the following techniques that are sure to help raise your energy level.

 Eye Exercises : Eye exercises can help rest tired eyes that have been looking at the computer screen too long. It is important to rest your eyes every 30 minutes, so they do not develop eye strain.
  • Palming: rub hands together for 15 seconds to bring energy to your hands. Lay your palms over eyes for 3 minutes and relax

  • Blinking: To restore rest, blink your eyes 10 times in a row.

  • Pupil rotation: Massage eyes with this simple pupil rotation. Without moving your head, look up and then look down, look left , look right and then look  in a circular motion. Repeat and relax. Do this 3 times. Then repeat and rotate eyes in the opposite circular direction.

  • Tracking: Track eyes left to right as if reading (20 times)

  • Far and Near:  Look at an object in the distance and then look at an object very close to your eyes ( use the tip of your finger) Repeat looking far and near about 7 times in a row.
What do you do to reduce or eliminate stress? Have you tried any of these techniques? Did you enjoy the video?  I would love if you left a comment!!