Monthly Archives: May 2013

Sugar Free Pistachio Date Cookie Bars

SUGAR — A HIDDEN CULPRIT

Let’s talk sugar.DownloadedFile

Sugar is a topic that cannot possibly be fully discussed in one blog post.   However, odds are, if you are anything like the rest of us American’s, including myself, you’ve probably struggled with  weight, body image, food plans, diets, and/or various health issues at some time or another.   And that struggle usually forces our attention to look at the amount of sugar, types of sugar and/or quantity of sugars we eat.   So let’s talk about it.

First, be gentle with yourself about your desire for something sweet.   We humans have a natural “sweet tooth.” It is why mother’s milk has a natural sweetness to it, so babies take to it.   There is pleasure and an organic aspect to our desire for sweetness.

However, let’s not confuse sweetness with sugar.

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Sweeteners can come in many natural and even healthy forms, such as deliciously ripened fruit, dried fruits, condensed fruit glazes, honey, agave nectar, black strap molasses, and even Stevia.

 

Sugar on the other hand has been compared, by some, to other addictive white powders such as cocaine, heroin, arsenic, and even anthrax.  Sound a bit dramatic?  An exaggeration?  Perhaps, however, there is proven scientific studies that show that the empty calories of processed sugar spikes one’s blood sugars, creating an endless cycle of cravings.   url-6

 

 

The problem is sugar is everywhere….sugar is in almost everything we Americans eat these days.  From the obvious to the hidden.  Desserts, sodas, candy, jellies/jams, and sugary cereals are obvious culprits that add high levels of sugar in our diets.   Are you aware though that tomato sauce, ketchup, reduced calorie salad dressings, yogurts, milk, granola bars, sports drinks, peanut butter, pre-packaged oatmeal packs, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, and even breads and rolls are packed with sugar?

Here are a few terms that hide sugar on our labels:

  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose

This list is lengthy….and some worse culprits than others.   For a person to avoid sugar all together or to eliminate sugar instantly is a set-up for failure.  Instead, start slow. Empower yourself with knowledge.   Know what terms actually mean “processed sugars.”   Read labels.

Make small changes at first.   Try to eliminate one obvious sugar from your day.   Just one.   One soda.  One dessert.   One “treat.”   One guilty pleasure.

By eliminating one obvious sugar from your daily food plan will feel so empowering.

Now, take a look at the hidden sugars you are eating and make one small change in this area as well.  Make substitutions:

  • Add fruit to your day (replacing the one obvious sugar while avoiding all the cravings)
  • Top your cereal with fruit rather than sugar.
  • Buy plain yogurt and add honey, for a more natural, healthy alternative.  
  • Look for nut butters without sugars.  
  • Make your own smoothies and sweeten with real fruit rather than sugar.  
  • Switch one soda or sugar drink a day for water or lemonade made with real lemons and Stevia.  
  • Give alternative sweeteners like agave, molasses or honey a try to see which ones you may like best.   

These types of changes are simple and effective.   I’ve also included a recipe that is sugar free and gluten free (a topic for future blog) Pistachio Date Cookie Slices that will satiate any sweet tooth.

I’ve learned that I can enjoy honey or fruit to satisfy my desires for sweet treats without having the very uncomfortable and undesirable effects of sugar.   It’s about making new healthy habits for yourself.

Leave a comment to what changes you make and how they worked for you!

Gluten Free Sugar Free Pistachio Date Cookie Slices Recipe  gluten-free-pistachio-date-cookie-bars-01

Ingredients

1 ½ cups dates, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar - optional
1 1/3 cups superfine brown or white rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum
½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
¾ cup cold unsalted butter or dairy free butter substitute, cut into small pieces
4 – 8 tablespoons cold water
1 – 2 teaspoons milk (dairy free is fine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Combine the dates, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the pistachios and, if you want a sweeter cookie, 2 tablespoons of honey or agave. Cover the saucepan and let the mixture cool while preparing the dough.

Combine the flour, tapioca starch, xanthan or guar gum, salt and butter (or butter substitute) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the machine running, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a soft but not sticky dough. (If dough gets too sticky just dust it with a little more rice flour.) Cut the dough into two even pieces and roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into 12 by 8 inch rectangles. Place one on the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the pistachio date mixture to within ½ inch of the dough edges. Brush the edges with water and top with the remaining sheet of dough. Press to seal the edges. Score the top into 12 even slices with a knife and glaze the top with milk. Bake for 30 -35 minutes or until golden brown. If desired, brush the top with a tablespoon of honey or agave. Let cool on a wire rack.

Cut into slices and serve.

Servings

A gluten free recipe that makes 12

Thought for the day:

“ Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters. ”

— Nathaniel Emmons

My children are my greatest teachers in the importance of mothering myself

Mother Yourself

How well do you mother yourself? 

Do you give to everyone else?  Do you put yourself at the bottom of the priority list?  

Whether you are a mother, plan to be mother, born of a mother or have ever mothered a friend or family member, you probably know how to mother.  It’s called unconditional love and support.  And yet, ironically, we forget to mother ourselves.  

How will you mother yourself on this Mother’s Day?

Try taking a few moments, or an hour, or an evening, listening to what YOU may need this weekend.   Put yourself at the top of your list.   By taking a few moments each day for yourself, linking them together one-at-a-time, soon you will find these moments becomes the very touchstones to your overall well-being.

Why not make this Mother’s Day the starting point for mothering yourself.  Here are just a few suggestions to try, based on what makes good mothering:

NURTURE YOURSELF 150141_631448360203592_1484195265_n

Take a walk — Do yoga — Be playful — Make art — Dance — Plant herbs — Sing — Breathe deeply 

EMPATHIZE WITH YOURSELF imgres-2

Laugh — Cry — Nap — Be gentle with yourself — Daydream — Lean into your desires — Forgive yourself

NOURISH YOUR WELLNESS imgres-4

Eat nutritiously — Listen to your body — Drink water — Buy organic — Move your body — Savor the moment

COMPASSIONimgres-5

Trust yourself — Put yourself first — Hear yourself — treat yourself well — Appreciate your value — Lead with your heart

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE  imgres-6

See your beauty — Be unique — Speak your truth — Follow your heart — Celebrate YOU! 

DREAM — PLAN — ACHIEVE 

Happy Mothering Yourself Day!

Let us know how you choose to uniquely nurture or pamper yourself this weekend.

How did I do it?

I am a chef and own my own catering business in Denver, CO.   My days are filled with food — planning, creating, preparing, cooking, serving, and of course, sampling.  It’s my job to taste and enjoy food.  I also juggle mothering 2 kids, a marriage and a home.   Like many people, especially women, there never seems to be enough time in the day.

Add in the holidays, like in December 2012, where we had over 100 events.  It all adds up to crazy hours.  No time to sit down.  And forget about eating properly.  Lemon custard bars became dinner.  Mashed potatoes, pasta and bread became my staple.  And eating on the run became my only form of exercise.   The result — 20+ additional pounds.   My clothes didn’t fit.  My waistline expanded.  And my holiday attire became elastic waists and loose tops.

After the catering rush, my family and I went on at trip to Mexico:  sun, fun, and egads, swimsuits! http://www.dreamstime.com/-image290196There I stood, in front of the mirror, when I finally “saw” myself.  Truly took in the truth of what I saw.  At first, there was disbelief.   ”Is that me?”   I couldn’t believe it.  And I couldn’t shake it.  That night I couldn’t sleep.

“What had I done to myself?”   This was unacceptable.  Unhealthy!  Something had to change.  I had to change.  I promised myself then and there to change and to do it sanely and healthfully.

No short cuts.   No fad diets.  No magic pills or cures.

It comes down to exercise and food, food, food.

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!

YouAreWhatYouEat

And my belly fat jiggled like lemon custard and looked like mashed potatoes.  Instead, I wanted more lean muscle, trimmed fat, and healthy cells.

I joined a gym and got a personal trainer focusing on strength training 2 days a week and cardio for 150 minutes a week.  I find I love it.  Not everyone would though.  It’s important to move your body — in whatever way works for you today.  However, 70% of my success results from my food choices.   I wanted and needed the changes with my food to be my strength.  Food that was healthy and nutritious, while also tasting decadently and deliciously.

 

eatThis is where my expertise and passion could help me….and others, thus, this blog and also sharing with friends and family who now have also benefited greatly right along with me.

I invite you to walk this path with me.   Amazing things await.

 

 

 

 

My Journey to Here

My story is no different than yours.  I love food.  I’m surrounded by some of the greatest temptations, as I am a professional chef and caterer.  It’s my job to taste everything, but along the way, food became my downfall.  I packed on nearly 20 extra pounds, especially indulging during the holidays.   I felt sluggish, a bit lost, and even unhealthy carrying the burden that settled around my mid-section. (A picture is worth a thousand words.)

What I wanted, and want for you, is to live and be healthy — the right way.  No magic pill or fad diet.  Real food.  Healthy food.  Food can and should be delicious, enjoyable and healthy.

Madhoo

After Living Healthy!

I’m a walking testament now as to how anyone can live healthy and well, while fulfilling their dreams.

My blog will share insights, recipes, menus, pictures, information, inspirations, wisdom, and support to show you how you too can achieve the benefits of healthy living, like me and many others who have benefited from my experience.  It is why I want to open it up to anyone who may want it.   It’s simple really — Dream – Plan – Achieve.

COME WALK THE JOURNEY OF HEALTH WITH ME!

 

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!  I want you to Season Yourself Anew. This page is home to ideas, thoughts, pictures, recipes, information, inspiration and vast possibilities. Take charge of your life and health and “See Yourself Anew.” Let’s Dream, Plan and Achieve!

Let me whet your appetite for a journey that will allow you to see yourself anew.