RSS

Category Archives: Cooking and Health

Snot Fun: 9 home treatments that might prevent and treat colds

I’ve recently stumbled upon a great body and soul magazine called “Whole Living”. In the December issue there was a smart article about treating colds. I have been sequestered at home with my 6 year old Hannah, who has missed 4 days of school now, and the snottiest cold I’ve ever seen. Yep, just her, me and the COLD. While her cold isn’t a “scary” illness (I am familiar with those), it has used up 6 boxes of super soft Kleenex and has torn up her nose. The first remedy is one I just learned from my friend Maggie Storm, whose mother used chapstick on her blown-out and chapped nose. It seems to work and is fun for Hannah also. She loves that twisty dispenser thingy.  The middle 7 remedies are the ones  recommended by the magazine. The last one?  Well, duh…(tho it’s one I often forget as a multi-tasking mom)

  1. Thar She Blows –  After each nose blow, apply chapstick under and around the nose. It’s not goopy like Aquafor or vaseline, and it creates a nice barrier and keeps the skin from getting thrashed (and heals the skin if it’s already thrashed).
  2. Echinacea –  At first sign of a cold begin taking it. Hopefully it will cut the time the body needs to heal.
  3. Zinc – Try lozenges every one or two hours after onset, it might shorten the duration of the cold.
  4. Probiotics – Eat yogurt or try supplements. It boosts gut strength and strengthens immune systems.
  5. Meditate – Regularly do so and stress levels come down, again strengthening immune systems.
  6. Exercise – Do cardio 5 days a week when healthy.  Even light exercise during a cold might make people feel better and lift spirits.
  7. Honey – Take a spoonful before bed as a cough medicine. It soothes the throat too. (Not for kids under 1)
  8. Vitamin C – Take it at the beginning of a cold – 1000-3000 mg for grown-ups.
  9. REST! Lie down a lot. Bodies need to rest so that they can recharge and recuperate.

Take with optimism, stay healthy and please let me know your favorite remedies for colds.

p.s. I am not a doctor, so please check with yours about these remedies.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Holiday Baking Tips for Healthy Moms

Gluten -Free German Chocolate Cake

Gluten -Free German Chocolate Cake

Holiday baking! What a lot of thoughts and images it conjures up for me: time with my mom, fun, family, sharing, sugar!, chocolate, red and green sparkles and cookie cutters, science and cool nesting measuring spoons, nifty gadgets like sifters and beaters and things that plug in, aluminum foil, square shaped pans and cookie racks, tummy aches, angst, worry, over eating, eating secretly while no one is looking, getting fat, feeling gross. What a loaded activity holiday baking is! Or is it just me?

I’ve been meditating on this for a few weeks and I have some thoughts. I have just finished a 12-week transformational health course and have learned a great deal about the importance of what I put into my body (and what I put into my children’s bodies). It’s good that we, as women and mothers, understand the complexities and importance of today’s food situation.

4 Tips Healthy For Holiday Baking

1. Bake and Give

Yes! Bake away with your kids and let them add salt, pour in nuts and beat. Are they old enough to stir the chocolate while it melts in the pot? Go for it. Make a batch or two of your favorite treats and keep ¼ of what you made for your family. You (mom) have some! Have 3 or 4 bites. Enough to taste and get a little kick – but not too much so that you get a tummy ache. Then divide up the rest, wrap in cellophane and a ribbon and hand out to your mail deliverer, your neighbors and your favorite barista at your local coffee place. Share the love (and the calories) and don’t miss out on the fun of baking!

DSCN1502

2. Explore with Healthy Ingredients

Start from scratch (from “nothing”) and don’t be afraid of agave, almond flour, and dark chocolate and organic oatmeal! Ok, maybe your cake just like  Duncan Hines – but do you KNOW what actually goes into that stuff???

Duncan Hines Classic Cake Mix: ­­Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- and Diesters Of Fats, Mono and Diglycerides), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Poly

glycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored with (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake).

 I don’t think I need to explain why you might not want to put this stuff into your body. And I don’t know what some of those things are! Just reme

mber this lovely phrase I heard on NRP recently:

“If it’s made by a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, DON’T eat it.” — Anonymous

fozen bananas

Everyday we teach our children. Pretend they’ve never had a chocolate chip cookie and the first one they try is called a “Healthalicious Holiday Cookies” (recipe coming). It has dark chocolate (improves cholesterol and sugar levels), dried cherries (which reduce muscle soreness, help with sleep and are loaded with antioxidants) almond flour (gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and a high source of protein) and grass fed cow butter (It’s got more carotene because it comes from cows that eat fresh vegetation rich in the stuff. It comes from pasture to ruminant to digestive tract to butterfat to butter to you). I think their head might explode in delight!  Let’s reform our baking traditions by stirring up health!

3. No Excuses

I see articles called something like, “How to Not Gain 10 Pounds over the Holidays”. Ok – so here is my latest thinking. It’s a cop out. I know this might sound harsh, but the holidays become an excuse for people to binge and pig out. It’s the holidays – so what! Light the menorah, bring clothes to the homeless, play music, and write cards to friends. That’s “the holidays” too and those things don’t make us put on weight and turn away from our SEVLES and our HEALTH. Let’s focus on this: Here we are! We are lucky to be here now, to have another Christmas, to be healthy and to be around our families, TO BE ALIVE! Let’s celebrate with light and health – not saturated, genetically modified corn oil.

DSCN1506

You may be thinking, how can I avoid it? There are treats everywhere I go! To that I say:  How do you get thru Valentine’s Day? Easter? Halloween? Thanksgiving? 4th of July? Taking the kids for ice cream? There are doughnuts to be had on every other street corner and caramelized, frothy, whip creamed, double cappuccinos on EVERY corner (with artificial flavoring that some people think keeps you thin! HA! – more on that later).Just have ONE bite, or walk away and drink some water… take a breathe and wish yourself love for giving yourself the greatest gift – health and a body that feels great!

And that leads me to my last tip for holiday baking and not binging…

4. How to Eat Holiday Treats in a Healthy Way

DSCN1511

Ok. We are human. I have a weakness for fudge and sometimes it has been hard for me

to stop at one piece.  I admit it. I find that a substitution plan works nicely for me. I think of any white grains (white rice, wheat pasta, white bread, bagels) and even potatoes as straight sugar. I don’t eat the white stuff anymore. Even the brown rice grain turns to sugar eventually.  So let’s say I have a piece of fudge. I tell myself… “yum that was delicious! And tonight, even though I might be making pasta for my family, I will have chicken and veggies – no grains. That will help balance out my carb/sugar intake and will also give me a sense of control around my body and my health. Good plan Deb. Now go drink a glass of water.”

I hope you have a wonderful time baking and creating sweet treats with your little sugarplums. Oh, and when they are not looking, sneak in some pureed beats or spinach – it’s fun to see them devour brownies that you know are loaded with veggies!!! Ha Ha – my children WILL eat well!!!

Now go preheat your oven!

 

Carmelized Chocolate Matzoh

Cooking with Kids: Fun cooking project/teacher gift!
Want to do a fun project with your kids and make inexpensive and yummy treats for teachers and/or neighbors? Try this caramelized chocolate matzo! We went to a thrift store and found these cute dishes (50 cents each!) to hold this holiday treat. All told, these 4 containers cost about $5 each and took about 20 minutes to make!
p.s. i love baking with my children but do not enjoy the icky feeling of having eaten too much sugar.  My policy? Bake and Give… Bake and Give (but I do recommend having a few SMALL bites to enjoy before you giving it all away!)
debpop_1130101156a
Chocolate-Caramelized  Matzoh



Makes approximately 30 pieces of candy

debpop_1130101158a

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup unsalted butter1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges.
    Preheat the oven to 375F .
  2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
  3. In a 4 quart heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
  4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325, then replace the pan.
  5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
  6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.
Let cool completely, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week. Or wrap up in pretty thrift store dishes with ribbon and make your teachers and neighbors HAPPY!
debpop_1130102123a
 

Tags: , , ,

ChristmasTime is better than Christmas Day (Don’t end up in the ER!)

Our plan is to make Christmas more about the season than about the day. Hopefully it will keep our kids and our family centered and keep us safe too!

When I was a little girl, I would get so excited about Christmas that I would get sick. I’d work myself up into such an anxious state, my stomach would hurt and I’d almost lose my breath. My mom later told me she could not tell me Christmas was coming until 3 or 4 days before the actual day.

It is a crazy-huge concept for kids to digest isn’t it? Be good and if you are,  a magical man will fly with reindeer to the roof of your house, slide in through your fireplace, munch on your cookies and leave you your hearts’ desire, wrapped up in shiny paper and ribbons! And meanwhile, here honey, let’s make some fudge and eat some chocolate and cookie batter and stay up late and go on vacation and play play play. Talk about stimulation.

Delilah’s last two Christmases were scarred by over excitement. Two years ago she slammed her jaw into a cement wall (playing on Christmas afternoon) and last year she had a 103 temperature on Christmas day, ALL day. I just read that Christmas (especially the day after Christmas) finds many people in the Emergency Room. It’s just THAT exciting!

“How about the busiest day for emergency room care?  Any ideas?  It’s the day after Christmas.  After all the stress of trying to get thru the holidays – a lot of people end up in the hospital.”

So the way I having fun with it AND trying to keep the my girls a bit contained this year, is by talking about ChristmasTIME. Hannah (4) and Delilah (7) have 3 weeks off. That’s a lot of time! And in this “TIME” we will do all the fun and usual Christmas and Hanukkah stuff: bake, eat, sleep, wrap, deliver cookies to neighbors, sing, maybe go to some museums and take a trip to Big Sur. I talk about how lucky we are to be together and enjoy all of this time. It’s a lot of gratitude talk, and I think it’s calming for them and settling me down too!

Yes, they still ask me how many days til Christmas and Hanukkah (we celebrate everything around here), but I temper it with what is going on in the moment. Hopefully it will help them stay relaxed, get sleep at night and keep them healthy too.

p.s. Here is a fun thing to do at ChrsitmasTIME that you can do whenever the kids need a good holiday run-around. Hide N Seek in a xmas tree forest!

 

Tags: , ,

Coffee Cycles, Java Jive and Guarding my Romance with the Bean

I love coffee
And sometimes I hate it 
Sometimes it scares me
And sometimes I crave it


It’s a complicated relationship and in the end, my love for those little organic brown beans, home-ground in my grinder, poured into my french press to steep for 4 minutes, then mixed with agave and soy milk, wins. The love you take, is equal to the coffee you make.

As a mom who is health conscious about her own health and the health of her family, I am always questioning, redefining and rediscovering new ideas about whether things are good for us. And things change. Soy, dairy, butter, wine. My Chinese acupuncturist just told me that butter can help lower your cholesterol? Theories on health and food seem to change everyday so sometimes you’ve got to trust your instincts and come up with unique and individualized methods for living your life.


Coffee Memories


1. Surprising my dad when I was 5 or 6 by making him Folgers Instant coffee in a cup. It seemed like magical astronaut food, the way it sparkled then dissolved,  and when I tasted it, I thought it was totally disgusting. He drank it black, and like, 10 cups a day. Pisces.


2. Coffee hard candy –  when I was a kid, there were a few random instances where I ate wrapped candies that were filed with a chocolaty inside – a kind of fudgy center that I thought was DIVINE. That was my first magical experience with the flavor of coffee, and perhaps caffeine, though I didn’t know about the effects of caffeine back then.


3. Cutting class in high school (Pali High) and hanging out at Mort’s with my girl friends, getting refills and adding non-fat milk and sweet ‘n low, which sounds absolutely dreadful to me now. Independence.


4. Cafe Roma. It was THE place to have coffee when I was going to U.C. Berkeley. It was near the music department (Morrison) and I would go to Roma, order a cappuccino while classical music played and I read Machiavelli and Virginia Wolfe. Oh how cosmopolitan I felt, so smart, so free and cultured. And here, for the first time, the coffee was GOOD.


5. Europe – The Cafe Culture Continues. To sit on a Greek island, drinking a frappe, having a handsome Greek man whip it up for me. To sketch in my book and sip an espresso in Central Italy, having an attractive Italian lawyer approach and offer me a cigarette. To devour the Prado in Madrid and then to fervently discuss Picasso’s work over a Café con leche. Coffee is art, romance, intellectualism language, travel, the world.


6. Waiting tables. Ugh – delivering coffee is the cardio of any breakfast joint restaurant waitperson. So many re-fills. When I was waiting tables at First National in the Palisades, oh how the customers kept me on my toes with their never-ending demands for refills. I even wrote a song about it… one of my earliest which I will have to record sometime soon. From “Waitress”:


I don’t want to me your waitress
You may think that I am rather bold
Don’t you know I couldn’t really careless
If your cups of coffee’s gettin’ cold*
  
7. And then there is that kind of horrid coffee you get at the auto body shop, the kind that’s been sitting in a put 1/4 full for 7 hours. People come in and add some powdered white mixture and a few sugar packets. This is almost a non-coffee coffee. It’s like some kind of anti-matter that keeps people in motion with none of the ceremony and glamour of the cafe culture.


And here I am about to turn 48 and evaluating my life and my health on a daily basis. So many conflicting reports. Coffee (and caffeine) does it cause cancer? Save you from cancer? It’s dehydrating AND has anti-oxidants. It’s good for the brain, yet can wire you too. According to Slate:

Caffeine at doses of 65 mg or more can help relieve headaches, but habitual caffeine use can spur chronic headaches, too. Coffee makes you more alert, but it can also provoke insomnia, anxiety, and even tremors at high doses. Regular drinkers seem to have a decreased risk of developing diabetes, but for anyone who already has the disease, a hefty cup of coffee can make things worse. Up to three cups of coffee per day may slightly lower the risk of heart attack, but drinking a large dose might also trigger a heart attack if you’re already at risk.”




 My 3 Part Coffee System

I have come up with a system that keeps the allure and romance in my coffee. I notice that I have three kinds of coffee in my life. “Recreational Coffee” is the coffee I have on a rainy sunday morning with the New York Times Crossword. It’s the coffee I drink while taking a break from ice skating in San Fransisco’s Union Square or the coffee my friend Tom and I drink at Maxwell’s in Venice when we are catching up and enjoying some intense coffee talk.

Then there is “Working Coffee”. That the coffee I press when I am setting out to pay bills, animate a video or mix a song. It’s a thinking helper, a friend while I am working and a tool to keep me focused and alert.

And finally there’s “Rocket Fuel” coffee. That’s the extra cup I really don’t need, the one that wires, that propels me too far, the one that dries me out and the one I drink instead of eating some string cheese and an apple when I need some energy.

The trick is to learn just how far I want to propell myself and to identify which kind of coffee I am having. Labeling things and being present with what I am ingesting, feeling and/or doing is the key for me to stay healthy and grounded.

Like other things in life  (for me… chocolate and ice cream) coffee is great and yummy when I start, and the trick is knowing when to stop. There’s the rub. For me, drinking too much coffee strips away the magic qualities of coffee and then it’s a downhill crash.

So here’s my plan. I take breaks from coffee! I use it in cycles, monitor it, appreciate it and acknowledge when the “Recreational Coffee” has become “Working Coffee” and when the “Working Coffee” has turned into “Rocket Fuel”.

And perhaps coffee is different for women than for men. Women roll in cycles, cycles of the moon, hormonal cycles. Maybe that’s the best way for us to use and enjoy coffee in a lovely and healthy way. As a mom, I can over-extend like crazy and coffee can seem to me like a bad drug, pushing me beyond my limits. So, herb tea, green tea, hot apple cider, hot water with lemon and honey, coconut water, WATER…I drink them all and by drinking them all, I save a special place in my heart and protect my very romantic and magical relationship with COFFEE.


“In order to grow old, you have to experience everything, but in moderation.”
Cuban Musician –  Compay Segundo (lived to 97 years old)

*Poppinksongs ©1986

 

Tags: , , , ,

Farmer’s Market teaches Seasons to Kids (and keeps them healthy!)

We like Sunday mornings here in Mar Vista. Every week we walk over to our local farmer’s market. I can’t remember what life was before we had fresh picked lettuce and fresh laid eggs available a few blocks from our doorstep. I was raised with frozen spinach in a box. It was the most disgusting, slimy, inedible stuff I’d ever seen or tasted! And even now, when I go to the “super market”, I pick up a tomato and wonder where it was born, how many chemicals are in it and how long it sat in a truck before it got into my hands. I appreciate all the people who worked hard to get that tomato to the super market, but there’s no question that I’d rather eat the one radiating vitamins that was picked this morning, an hour away from home.

Anyway, how lucky my girls (2 and 4) are to “know” fresh food. We wander, looking , tasting and smelling the wonderful summer fruits and veggies spread on the tables at the farmer’s market, or as we call it The Crepe Market. There is a french man there, Tierry, who whips up these delectable crepes. Sugar/Lime is now Delilah’s favorite.

The colors of the market are always breathtaking… it’s like a party for the senses and Hannah likes to touch everything – which is OK! (But not in Italy! Once I got slapped for touching a cucumber at a market!). We also get a great sense of seasonal change as we explore every week. For example, the peaches will only be GOOD for another 2 or 3 weeks, says the farmer who grows them. Oh how those white peaches have gotten us thru the summer, kept us cool and hydrated… and the yummy fresh peach yogurt we made with our wedding present ice cream maker. Alas… seasons change, fruits change, but last week we saw something REALLY exciting…. a few small pumpkins in a pile, glowing in the sun, calling us toward the fall and saying, “BOO!”

 

Tags: , , , , ,

St. Paddy’s Day Pancakes!

Dia dhuit ar maidin! (Good morning!)
Shamrock Pancakes
How fun, funny and easy it is to make your March mornings festive with these shamrock pancakes! Simply dye your favorite pancake batter green and pour out 3 or 4 (if you want to be lucky) circles (leaves) and a stem. For the truly talented pourers out there, try a top hat or even a leprechaun!
Our favorite pancake mix comes from Sears Fine Foods. We order it thru their website when we can’t get up there to pick it up ourselves.
 

Tags: , , ,