Archive for the ‘Food’ Category



Love is smoothie happiness in the Baskett household! In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing a smoothie that’s yummy with some color. When I’m making a new smoothie, I love for it to be a bright, fun color. This one is a pretty purple, which is one of my favorite colors, and it is great because it’s high in iron (from the cabbage).

I think I’m going to surprise Hank with this for a smoothie breakfast in bed! You can steal my idea if you want, wink wink.

My Purple V-Day Smoothie:

  • 2 cups of chopped red cabbage
  • 1 cups blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • Handful of strawberries
  • Ice and water (add ice enough for thickness)

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Vegan Nutella Recipe


It’s a sad moment for many to learn that Nutella isn’t vegan. Luckily, this addictive, chocolaty hazelnut spread can be veganized! This recipe for homemade Nutella is from Christie Matheson’s book Cake Simple.

This could be great for V-day breakfast, gifted in a hand-labeled mason jar, or even used as a frosting for a cake or cupcakes. I haven’t tried it but it looks like it could be good…enjoy!

Vegan Nutella


  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 12 oz vegan milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4ths teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they’ve browned, about 12 minutes. When they’ve slightly cooled, peel off the skin by rubbing them with a kitchen towel – it’s ok if some of the skin remains.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a medium saucepan over simmering water or in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Allow the chocolate to cool completely.
  4. Take your toasted hazelnuts and, using a food processor (like a Cuisinart), grind the hazelnuts into a paste. Once you have your paste, add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue to blend until smooth (or as smooth as possible).
  5. Add the melted chocolate and continue to blend well.
  6. Strain the mixture to remove any remaining solids. The outcome will be a fairly thin mixture, but it will thicken as it cools. The Nutella will stay for 2 weeks in a jar.

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Hold the GlutenSo, your friend has a gluten intolerance, huh?

Oh, and your mom was just diagnosed with celiac disease? And your co-worker’s wife’s sister’s BFF thinks her digestive issues might be linked to … what was that?

Oh, gluten.

Feel like everyone you know these days has an issue with gluten? Sure, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is celiac disease (CD) — an autoimmune response to gluten — currently affects 1 in 133 people.

Why Is Gluten the Bad Guy?

Here’s the short of it: When people with CD eat foods containing wheat, rye, barley and triticale (i.e. gluten!), their immune systems cop an attitude and create a toxic reaction that causes damage to their small intestines, making them feel downright awful. We’re talkin’ cramping, depression, migraines, skin rashes, vomiting and more bathroom trips than you care to learn about.

Hold the GlutenDon’t Be So Sensitive

As for gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity, the digestive system is again left unhappy, but without the CD immune response. Symptoms range from mild discomfort to those that are comparative to the ultra-icky ones related to celiac disease.

“The prevalence of gluten intolerance and celiac disease diagnosis is certainly remarkable and has clearly caught the attention of the medical community by surprise,” says Jennifer Fugo, certified health coach and founder of Gluten Free School. “They’ve spent a massive amount of time generally believing that an immune reaction to gluten was of little interest and problem for those of us complaining of various issues that don’t quite make sense when viewed separately.”

Gluten on the Rise

So, why now? Why the increase in diagnoses? Experts say there are two main reasons pointing to the increased awareness of gluten and the nasty spell it has cast on many:

Today’s “wheat” isn’t exactly wheat. Kiss that idyllic vision of farmers harvesting their grains goodbye. The truth is, very little of our grain production is done in a wholesome manner. These days, we’re chowing down on refined grains that have been modified to suit the business that agriculture has become.

We like to eat … a lot. Take the fact that glutenous grains have been hocus-pocused and match it with the fact that the overconsumption of food is an ever-expanding problem, and you’ve delivered quite the double-whammy to your guts. “What might be an occasional issue in the past for those sensitive has now become a monster storm of inflammation that rolls through the body at every bite, [causing] repeated damage to the body,” Fugo said.

Hold the GlutenGluten-Free Game Plan

So what’s a Healthy Bitch to do? If you suspect gluten may be the creeper that lurks in your gut, then get to the doc for testing. And listen up: Don’t stop eating gluten before you have a blood test — it may provide a negative result. If the blood test proves you’re a dead ringer for celiac disease or gluten intolerance, then the doctor may order a small bowel biopsy. Don’t worry — after the hell your intestines have been through, a teeny biopsy is a walk in the park.

Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to even more health problems, including Type 1 diabetes, infertility, certain types of intestinal cancer and osteoporosis.  So, don’t mess around, mmmk?

Want to kick gluten for good?  Check out this gluten free cleanse!

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A new study conducted by Canadian scientists has found that a special vegetarian diet including soy, nuts, viscous & plant sterol, lowered bad cholesterol significantly, without the assistance of drugs, over a six month period. In fact, study participants on this diet showed a significantly greater lowering of bad cholesterol than those on an ordinary vegetarian diet of low-fat and whole grains, over the same period.

The new study, conducted by David J. A. Jenkins, M.D., of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, and colleagues, is published in the August 24/31, 2011 issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

The new study “represents the first randomized trial to our knowledge to assess the ability of an intervention that counsels for consumption of these cholesterol-lowering foods to reduce LDL-C at 6-month follow-up in real-world conditions,” the researchers wrote.


In the study, a group of 345 Canadian who volunteered for the study were selected to participate on the basis of having initially high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“LDL-C” or bad Cholesterol), ranging from 135 to 205 mg/dL for the men in the study, and from 116 to 178 mg/dL for the postmenopausal women in the study. None of the participants had a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or diabetes, and none of the participants were currently taking any cholesterol-lowering medications.

The participants were randomly divided into three groups — two “intervention groups” who went on the special vegetarian diet, high in soy protein, nuts, viscous, and plant sterols, and a control group who went on a vegetarian low-saturated fat diet with high fiber and whole grains, including whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables, but not containing any of the four mentioned cholesterol-lowering foods (soy, nuts, viscous, and plant sterols). Over the six months of the study, one of the intervention groups (routine) received counseling in two one-hour visits, and the other intervention group (intensive) received seven such counseling visits.

According the the study report, the special foods selected for the intervention diet (soy, nuts, viscous and plant sterols) have previously been recognized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), based on prior studies, as being associated with lowering of cholesterol and improved heart health. “Many of these foods [also] have other attributes, including lowering the glyceimic index, which may aid in reducing disease risk for cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, and obesity,” the researchers stated. However, according to the authors, the long-term effect of diets rich in these foods compared to conventional dietary advice had not previously been measured.

A sample of the special diet assigned to the intervention groups in the study, compared to the control group diet, is shown in a chart called “Representative Diets Followed in Control and Dietary Portfolio Treatment Groups,” that is linked with the published study report in JAMA.

Here is a sample of the foods included in the special cholesterol-lowering diet, provided by the study authors:


Hot oat bran cereal, soy beverage, strawberries, sugar and psyllium, oat bran bread, enriched margarine (enriched with plant sterols), and double-fruit jam

Snack ( all Snacks could be eaten with meals, if desired)

Almonds, soy beverage, fresh fruit


Spicy black bean soup, Sandwich (soy deli slices, oat bran bread, enriched margarine, lettuce, tomato, cucumber)


Almonds, psyllium, fresh fruit


Tofu bake with ratatouille (firm tofu, eggplant, onions, sweet peppers), pearled barley, vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower)


Fresh fruit, psyllium, soy beverage

The researchers measured the LDL-C levels of the study participants at the beginning of the study, at each of their counseling visits, and at six months, to determine the effect of the assigned diets on the participants’ LDL-C cholesterol levels over six months.

The overall attrition rate of the participants was not significantly different between the three study groups (18 percent for intensive dietary group, 23 percent for routine dietary group, and 26 percent for control group).


The researchers found that at the end of six months on the assigned diets, the LDL-C cholesterol levels of those on the special cholesterol-lowing diet who received 7 counseling sessions (intensive group) were reduced by an average of 13.8 percent, the LDL-C cholesterol levels of those on the special diet who received two counseling sessions (routine group) were reduced by an average of 13.1 percent, and the LDL-C cholesterol levels of those in the control group were reduced by 3.0 percent.

“Percentage LDL-C reductions for each dietary portfolio were significantly more than the control diet,” the authors wrote. “The 2 dietary portfolio interventions did not differ significantly. Among participants randomized to one of the dietary portfolio interventions, percentage reduction in LDL-C on the dietary portfolio was associated with dietary adherence,” the researchers stated.

The special diet achieved these significant reductions in LDL-C (bad cholesterol), “without lowering HDL-C [good cholesterol],” according to the study authors.

The researchers also found that the intensive cholesterol-lowering diet let to a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure of 2.1 mm Hg, compared with the control diet. In addition, the Cholesterol-lowering diet reduced the calculated 10-year cardiovascular heart disease risk by 11.3% in the intensive intervention dietary group, and by 10.8% in the routine intervention group, according to the study authors. These reductions were significantly greater than the .5% reduction in cardiovascular heart disease risk in the control group, the researchers found.

“In conclusion,” the authors wrote, “this study indicated the potential value of using recognized cholesterol-lowering foods in combination. We believe this approach has clinical application. A meaningful 13 percent LDL-C reduction can be obtained after only 2 clinic visits of approximately 60-and 40-minute sessions.”

The authors observed that upon joining the study the study participants, “were already consuming an acceptable background diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.” Therefore, they further concluded “this approach may underestimate the effectiveness of the diet when applied to those individuals who are not already following therapeutic diets.”

Implications – Is Changing Your Diet Enough?

“A lot of people rely on the medication, but diet is really powerful actually,” Dr. Jenkins, the study’s lead author, who is a professor of nutrition and metabolism at University of Toronto, told Reuters Health. He suggested that doctors should encourage their patients with high cholesterol to try diet changes, if they’re interested, according to Reuters. “A couple of visits to a nutritionist might be enough for motivated patients to make the switch to a plant-based, higher-fiber diet,” he added.

“The diet only is enough for the majority of the people that have a not-so-good lifestyle,” Dr. Joan Sabate, head of nutrition at Loma Linda University in California (who was not involved in the study), told Reuters Health. “By changing the diet and their lifestyle they can establish good control of their cholesterol,” she said.

“The main takeaway here is that people can lower their cholesterol with diet if they put their minds to it,” Dr. Jenkins, lead author of the study, told ABC News. “These can be small changes. We’re not asking people to live behind bars,” he said.

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Kind Lifer Diana submitted this yummy looking recipe from the Culinary Institute of America. It originally calls for fish sauce, but you can veganize it by using Mam Nem Chay – Vietnamese vegetarian fish sauce – instead. If you can’t find any at your local grocer, you can improvise with a mix of light soy sauce, a splash of pineapple juice, a bit of agave and a splash of chili sauce. I haven’t tried this, but I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes | Servings: 4


For Quinoa

  • 2 cups of Cooked red quinoa, about 1.5 cups raw
  • 2-3 slices of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of sliced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon of torn mint leaves
  • 1/4 cups of winter squash, diced into small pieces

For nuoccham sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of vegan fish sauce
  • 1/4 cups of lime juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegan brown sugar or 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 Thai chili, paper thin sliced (use whole chili for some spice)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss squash with with a bit of olive oil and pinch of curry powder and roast until just done.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil. Add a pinch of salt, ginger slices and quinoa, and cover. Simmer until done, about 15 min.
  4. Make nuoc cham sauce by mixing fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, thai chili & water.
  5. Toss quinoa, cooked squash, scallions, cilantro, and mint with nuoc cham sauce.
  6. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Good luck, healthy girl!

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Give your cooking the gourmet treatment with this exquisite salad. Spicy, flavorful quinoa and roasted sweet potatoes complement cool slices of avocado, and pan-friend tortilla strips add the perfect crunch.

Serves 4

What You Need:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked in vegetable stock and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced and divided
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola Oil
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tomatillos in olive oil, skins removed
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • Microgreens

What You Do:

  1. In a medium bowl place quinoa, jalapeño, 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 teaspoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until soft in the middle and lightly browned; be careful not to let the sweet potatoes burn.
  3. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, toss the tomatillos with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, add the vinegar, 1/4 cup cilantro, and agave nectar, and pulse to combine. With the motor running, pour in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a thin stream. Continue blending until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour 2 inches of canola oil into a small, heavy pot and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the tortilla strips and fry until crisp and browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.
  5. Place a 3-inch ring mold in the center of one of 4 salad plates. Fill with 1/4 of the quinoa mixture and press down with a spoon to pack the mold, smoothing the top. Place 1/4 of the sweet potato pieces on top of the quinoa and press down gently. Top with 1/4 of the avocado and press down gently. Carefully remove the mold. Repeat on the remaining salad plates.
  6. Carefully place 2 tortilla strips parallel to each other about 1 inch apart on top of each timbale. Place 2 more tortilla strips perpendicular on top of those. Top the timbales with the microgreens and drizzle the dressing around the timbales.

Good luck, healthy girl!

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Use lentil or sunflower sprouts, which have a peppery flavor, in this well-textured salad. These sprouts are available in many farmers’ markets but very easy to make yourself (see below). I prefer black or red quinoa in this dish because I like the texture, but regular quinoa works as well.

3/4 cup cooked quinoa, preferably the red or black variety

1 cup sprouted lentils or sunflower seeds

3 ounces wild arugula or baby arugula (4 cups tightly packed)

1/4 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1/4 cup broken walnuts (3/4 ounce)

1/4 cup crumbled feta (1 ounce) (optional)

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, like dill, tarragon, chives and parsley

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, puréed with a pinch of salt

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or use half olive oil and half grapeseed oil

1. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper, mustard and garlic. Whisk in the oil. Toss with the salad, and serve.

To make sprouts: Place 2 to 3 tablespoons lentils or sunflower seeds in a wide-mouthed jar and cover with water. Soak overnight. Place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the jar, and secure with a rubber band. Drain the lentils and shake them so that they are not in a big pile, but some are adhering to the sides of the jar. Place the jar in a dark place, like underneath the kitchen sink. Water and drain twice a day for two to three days until the lentils have sprouts about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. Leave in a sunny place for an hour or two, then refrigerate.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Advance preparation: Cooked quinoa will keep for four days in the refrigerator. The dressing can be made several hours ahead of serving.

Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 307 calories; 4 grams saturated fat; 5 grams polyunsaturated fat; 16 grams monounsaturated fat; 6 milligrams cholesterol; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 102 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 6 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 205 calories; 3 grams saturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 10 grams monounsaturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 68 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein

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