Friday, September 19, 2008

Cookies I HAVE To Try

So as you can tell I've been sort of MIA. Things have been crazy and yep, they're still crazy.

So this one will be short and sweet. I came across this recipe from one of my favorite places (101 Cookbooks - check her out) and I decided that as much as I want to try it, I want to share it as well.

Let me know if you try it and what you think!!

Ciao for now!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mmm Brownies :)

So this post isn't one of my usuals, but I am thrilled to write it. After all, how can I keep such a delicious recipe to myself?

If you read my post from A Year in Review, you'll know that my favorite bakery is BabycakesNYC. Not only do they offer delicious pastries like cupcakes and brownies, but these desserts are tasty AND healthy. Catering to a food allergy population while ensuring good taste is not easy, but BabycakesNYC has done just that. They are now extremely popular and starting a shop on the west coast (though I can't wait for one in NJ with me as one of the best customers?)

Tea and Cookies blog found and (thankfully) posted one of BabycakesNYC's recipes for brownies, as featured on the Martha Stewart show. I tested it out, ate most of the brownies, and am now sharing it with you. Enjoy!
Oh and for those of you who have a hard time stopping... don't worry it's healthy!

1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for pans
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons garbanzo and fava bean flour (Erin uses a garbanzo bean and fava bean flour made by Bob's Red Mill; I used garbanzo bean flour from the bulk section of my health food store because I can't have fava beans, it worked fine).
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 cup unrefined sugar or 10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup store-bought unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup brewed coffee or hot water
2 cups vegan gluten-free chocolate chips, such as Tropical Source (don't skip the chocolate chips, they really make the brownies).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Organic: To Buy or Not To Buy?

Now that Spring is here and Summer is soon to follow, we're all excited to buy lots of fruits and vegetables, and meats for the grill. With the big Organic movement, though, it's difficult to know what to buy Organic and what we can hold off on - after all, it can be expensive to eat well.

The Daily Green, one of my favorite online sources of information, has come out with a list of the foods that you MUST buy Organic and the fruits and vegetables that you can hold off on and buy conventional to save some cash.

Let's start with the Organic must have list:

1. Meat: Ok anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Organic meat. If you've ever seen a video about how the animals are treated, you will quickly want to turn Vegan or at least to the more humane, Organic approaches.
Not only are the animals housed more humanely, but they are also not injected with hormones to speed up growth or antibiotics to resist disease, nor are they fed grains that have been treated with pesticides.
To add my own ideas, I encourage organic meat as it is generally a requirement for the animals to be cage free, free roaming. I know this might sound weird to many of you, but think about this for just a second: if you were holed up in your room for days and days with only 1 hour of free time, you'd be pretty sad right? Imagine if you were holed up with enough people to fill the room without much movement. All that you could do for days is sit or stand in your space with your neighbors leaning on you. I think that would be pretty awful. That's how most of the animals are raised before being prepared as food. Everything that the animal endured in its miserable life is sitting in its meat and, upon digestion, is sitting in you. Remember "you are what you eat."

2. Milk: If you understand what happens with the meat, it shouldn't be a surprise that animal milk gets contaminated too. Afterall, the animals are being fed with hormones to ensure that they keep producing enough milk to satisfy the cravings of the human population.
Why can't animals simply produce enough for all of us? Aha - ever stop to think that humans are the only animals that drink milk after weaning? Do you think that's a coincidence? A facet of human living? Sorry to burst your bubble but it's not. We drink it because we can, not because we have to. So, farmers must accommodate to keep up with the demand the animals, well, they've gotta be made to mass produce with hormones and antibiotics.

Ever wonder why kids are developing at such young ages? Think about it.

3. Coffee: I must say that I was surprised to see coffee on this list. As it turns out, many of the coffee beans we buy are grown in other countries, where the use of chemicals and pesiticdes are not regulated. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd be quite mad if someone kept dousing the coffee beans I was using to make my drink with tons of chemicals. (Again, those of you who know me know that I don't drink coffee, but a lot of people close to me do. Plus I get mad on principle.) A lot of well known coffee makers are coming out with Organic coffee beans. Check to make sure that they are also Fair Trade Certified Organic, which indicates that pesticides and chemicals were NOT used and fair prices were paid in support of fair treatment of the farm and farm workers.
For you skeptics, I've done the official taste test and switched the coffees when I made them for my dad and my grandpa and they didn't know the difference - you're good to go ;)

4. Peaches*: Multiple (multiple!?!?) pesticides are applied to these delicious fruits. With such thin outer skins, the fruit stands no chance against the chemicals. *(See below for safe alternatives)

5. Apples*: Apples are treated with pesticides as well but don't think you'll get rid of them by a simple wash and peel. Peeling the skin only removes some beneficial nutrients without getting rid of the chemicals. Now your hands are just dirty...

6. Sweet Bell Peppers**: Ever roast a pepper and see how thin the skin was when it peeled off? You got it. Peppers have thin skins like apples and peaches and therefore, have little protection against pesticides. In fact, they don't stand a chance because they are heavily sprayed with pesticides to keep the bugs from eating these yummy veggies.

7. Celery**: Celery has, well, no skin to protect it from pesticides so it's basically battling them with each stalk. Sorry celery.

8: Strawberries*: I've always debated with myself if I should pay $5 for Organic strawberries when I could get the conventional ones for 2/$3. Well I'm glad that I've gone with my gut because like the others, they have no protective covering either. If bought when they're out of season, they're coming from those countries like the coffee beans where the chemical regulations are less stringent. I love my Organic strawberries.

9: Lettuces**: Wondering where the most potent pesticides reside? Yep, on lettuce and other leafy greens! Better go Organic for these.

10: Grapes*: As usual, those imported are more vulnerable to pesticides. Also, vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides at various points in the grape's growing period, so you don't know what you're ingesting. Grapes have thick skins and therefore, there's no way to wash the pesticides off.

11: Potatoes**: Poor potatoes - they rank high for pesticide residues and, in addition, get an added hit with having fungicides added to the soil to aid in growth.

12: Tomatoes**: Tomatoes are another vegetable (or fruit?) with a thin skin. Therefore, pesticides can get through too easily.

If you can't get the above fruits and vegetables Organically, here are some safe alternatives that you can get Conventionally:
*Safe Fruit Alternatives: Watermelon, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, blueberries, kiwi, pineappe
**Safe Veggie Alternatives: Green Peas, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, onions, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts

Top 10 List of Conventional Foods

1. Asparagus
2. Avocados
3. Bananas
4. Broccoli
5. Cabbage
6. Kiwi
7. Mango
8. Onions
9. Papaya
10. Pineapple

Whatever you decide to do, choose wisely. Eat well :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

What's New?

green guide!

I've added a
green guide to the site so please keep up to date on what's listed.

I didn't write it but I'm happy to answer questions if you have any!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Doggy's Day Out

I recently met a woman while out shopping with my dog Muffin, when the woman stopped us to ask if Muffin was a Bichon Frise (yes) and to tell me how adorable she is (well yea!). The woman also provided me with some great information about a day set aside for dogs in a nearby town.

Because your dog is worth it too day is a L'Oreal sponsored event who, in conjunction with the Central and South Jersey affiliate of the Susan G. Komen organization, provides proceeds to the Race for the Cure (cost is only $10 per adult).

The day, created for our beloved pals, includes a wide variety of Doggy contests such as a maze and puppy limbo, doggy fun like swimming pools and dog park and numerous special features.

The fun happens on August 16, 2008 in Cranbury, NJ from 9am to 4pm. This day looks ridiculously fun and if I weren't going to be partying in a tropical locale, I'd definitely be there with Muffin. Maybe she'll still go and just tell me how it was ;)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

There's Milk in my Beer?

I know that many of you are avid beer drinkers or simply enjoy a pint or two, so you might find yourself saying, "Excuse me bartender, there's milk in my beer."

I know that beer sounds like an unusual place for milk to hide and I must say that I was quite surprised to learn this myself. For those 'no-moo'ers like myself, don't fret just yet. The milk sugar lactose is only thus far found in certain stouts such as Sweet Stout or the more obvious Cream Stout or Milk Stout. A list of "milk stouts" can be found at The Beer Advocate.

But why would they add milk to a beer?
Lactose is unfermentable, meaning that it cannot be broken down. Therefore, its sugar-sweet taste is added to the stout to contrast the flavor of the roasted malt or barley, making it sweeter on the palate.

While that sounds like a nice idea from the beer makers, I can't say that I'll ever know what this stout tastes like. If you are dairy-free like me, make sure you know what you're drinking when you need a nice cold beer.

Common Body 'Oddities' Explained

Ever wonder why your body does certain things like produce those fun hiccups or brain freeze after eating something cold? AOL recently published some brief explanations to some of those common, yet pesky, body 'oddities'.

Here is what they have to say (Please note that this information is pulled directly from AOL and is not meant to be read as my own):

Achewww! Known as sternutation, the act of sneezing removes an irritant from the nose. When a particle or cluster of particles pass through nasal hairs and reach the nasal mucosa, they trigger histamine production. This reaches nerve cells in the nose which signals to the brain to initiate a sneeze. Particles such as dust may irritate the nose and result in a sneeze. Sneezing is more common for people with allergies when they're exposed to various allergens like animal dander and pollen.

Hiccups are the result of a spasm in the diaphragm, which contracts to pull air into the lungs causing a sudden rush of inhaled air. According to Dr. Michael Farber, Director, Executive Health Program, Hackensack University Medical Center, "This sets off a chain reaction causing the airway opening to close quickly which in turn halts the flow of air thus causing the vocal cords to react by closing quickly, creating the characteristic hic." Hiccups may be the result of eating a big meal, swallowing air, drinking carbonated beverages, tobacco use or sudden emotional excitement. He explains, "Hiccups may improve through basic maneuvers such as relaxation or distraction, eating and drinking, or techniques of altered breathing."

Awwww, you're blushing. Turning red in the face is caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the face. In fact, this normal physiologic response allows the transfer of heat from our bodies to the skin's surface. Dr. Yael Halaas, board-certified facial plastic surgeon in New York explains, "Several factors cause blushing such as a change of temperature, spicy foods, emotional responses and alcohol. Some medical conditions can also cause blushing such as Acne Rosacea." In this condition, there is an increase of vasculature and enlargement of blood vessels in the face. This condition can be treated by a dermatologist or qualified physician.

This almost instantaneous headache is a reaction to a cold substance coming into the roof of the mouth. Better known as brain freeze, Dr. Michael Farber says, "Typical onset is within seconds of exposure to a cold precipitant, as the body reacts by initially reducing blood flow to the region to conserve heat followed by enhanced blood flow return to the region." Nerves within the area sense this and transmit the sensation back to the nerve base as pain. His advice -- relieve pain by pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth to warm the area.

According to experts, eye twitching is essentially a spontaneous spasm of muscles surrounding the eye. The involuntary twitching of an eyelid muscle may last less than a minute, although twitching may occur in one eye or the other, in both or underneath the eye. Some experts attribute it to fatigue, stress or caffeine. If spasms persist a doctor should be consulted.

Known as the act of opening the mouth by taking a deep breath, yawning is a reflex often associated with fatigue, stress or boredom. Some experts say the real reason why we yawn is a result of low oxygen levels in our lungs. As such, when we're resting we don't use our entire lung capacity and just use air sacs at the bottom of our lungs. If the air sacs don't get fresh air, they partially collapse and as a result our brain prompts the body to yawn or possibly sigh to get more air into the lungs.

Although painful sensations caused by contracting or over shortening of muscles, better known as leg cramps, may occur infrequently they may also be a sign of medical disorders. For instance, in a young athlete leg cramping may be associated with dehydration, especially after intense exercise. According to Dr. Sean McCance, Orthopedic and Spine Surgeon, Mount Sinai Hospital and Lenox Hill Hospital, in the elderly population leg cramps is a common symptom of a condition called spinal stenosis. "Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which leads to compression of the nerves in the lower back. When people stand up and walk, the compression gets worse and that causes vague aching, cramping and sometimes pain and numbness in the legs." Plus, he says in general leg cramping can be a sign of poor blood supply to the legs. Typically when a patient complains of leg cramping; both a spinal exam and a vascular exam are performed.

Double-jointedness, or the ability to have flexible joints that bend in unusual ways, is also known as hypermobility. Basically, joints and surrounding structures such as ligaments and tendons are abnormally flexible which enables people to bend or rotate them in various ways. For instance, if people can bend their thumbs backwards to their wrists, this is the result of misaligned joints, abnormally shaped ends of one or more bones at a joint. Essentially, joints that stretch more than what is considered normal. The extreme flexibility signifies a wide range of movement between the bones as the result of a shallow socket, extra stretchy ligaments or bone ends that are smoother than normal.

Oooh, ahhhh, owww....when it comes to the pins and needles sensation in your legs, there could be a variety of reasons why it's occurring. Dr. Sean McCance explains, "When pins and needles is in one leg only, it is more likely related to a mechanical problem, whereas if it is in both legs, it is more likely related to a metabolic problem such as a vitamin deficiency, excessive alcohol use, or diabetes." In the setting of lower back pain he says it could be a sign of a herniated disc. This could cause symptoms including pins and needles and numbness in the leg, as well as pain and weakness. He adds, "That is best assessed by physical examination by a spinal specialist followed by an MRI."

Now we just need to find out where our socks go! :D