Friday, December 28, 2012

My favorite smoothies, fresh juices and the tools to boot!


For the smoothies, I use my Super 5200 Vitamix. This blender is one of the best investments my family has made. 

'Metabolism boosting' smoothie:
Plain coconut water (or filtered water)
1 mango cut into chunks
1 pear cut into chunks 
The juice of one lime
pinch of cayenne pepper

'Add some green' smoothie:
plain coconut water 
1/2 mango
2 bunches of kale 
1 small pear 
the juice of 1/2 lime 
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
and a handful of ice cubes

'Sweetened green' smoothie: 
plain coconut water
2 leaves of kale
frozen bananas 
a scoop of vanilla Juice Plus+ Complete (like this)

'Super strength' smoothie:
Coconut milk 
1 scoop of chocolate Juice Plus+ Complete (like this)
milk thistle (helps detox the liver) (like this)


For juicing, I use my Breville juicer. I love it! Easy to juice, disassemble, and clean. 

'Clear skin' juice. 
romaine lettuce
kale or spinach
1-2 apples or pears
1 lemon
1 sweet potato
1 beet
1 carrot
(You can replace the sweet potato with a papaya (if on hand, or in season).)

Ingredients for Clear Skin Juice

Clear Skin Juice

'Tropical Sunshine' juice:
2 large carrots
2 pineapple cores
2 medium oranges (skin removed)
2 pears
1 apple

You can make this into a celebration 'soda' by adding the juice to sparkling water. 

'Antioxidant boost' juice:
1 large carrot
1 granny smith apple 
1 white nectarine
the inner core (fibrous part) of a pineapple
3 leaves of kale
1/2 lemon
(The lemon helps to clean out the juicer and push out any remaining juice from the kale plus it's great for digestion and an added detox!) 

Antioxidant Boost Juice

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

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Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Need a quick, fun, and free of yucky ingredients - dish for an event this holiday season? 

Try these chocolate dipped pretzels. Use your own toppings but always aim for no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or artificial sweeteners and dyes. 

Ingredients that I used:

Pretzels (free of hydrogenated oils); Harvest Road brand (see more information below)
Chocolate, semi-sweet & melted (I bought 70% from Trader Joe's)
Coconut oil, cold-pressed & organic (added to the chocolate and to the shredded coconut)
Sugar (preferably organic & naturally dyed - I use Maggie's Naturals)
Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
Sprinkles (free of artificial dyes); Edward & Son's brand
Almonds, slivered & crushed

I found Harvest Road's Trussetts at Big Lots in my town. They carry some international foods and if you can believe it, Certified Organic foods, too! I wanted to make chocolate dipped pretzels for a night out with the girls. I later learned the event was cancelled but had already told my son what our plans were. You know how kids are - they have a memory like an elephant (so they say!). 

Ingredients in the Trussetts: Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, malt, vital wheat gluten, sodium biocarbonate, and yeast.  110 calories, 260 mg sodium, and 23 carbs per 10pcs. 

Combine melted chocolate of your choice with a little coconut oil (this helps it harden). 

Combine sugar of your liking with an all-natural food dye.

With the unsweetened shredded coconut, I added a tad of coconut oil to this as well. It helps adhere to the wet chocolate and it stays put as the chocolate hardens. 

Sprinkles! What kid doesn't like or want them!? I recommend Edward & Son's. You can find them at almost all health-food stores or online. 

Follow me on Facebook and learn more about Dr. Sears Traffic Light Eating among other topics on nutrition and wellness. These pretzels are considered a red-light food (special occasion, not eaten very often). The last time we made these was in April 2012. The chocolate used earlier this year is almost free of artificial junk. It had vanillin, an artificial flavor. If this is the only ingredient in your 'treat' that is artificial, especially if you may be used to much worse, consider this okay. After awhile, you'll graduate up to melting a chocolate bar of your choice, void of all yucky stuff, and dipping the pretzels in! Buon Appetito! 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

2.5 cups of rolled organic oats
1 cup organic vanilla low-fat yogurt 
2 eggs, free range, omega 3 enriched
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ripe bananas
Coconut oil for coating the muffin pans (added benefit) or you can use foil liners

In the original recipe, C&E called for 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of plain greek yogurt. Since I had on hand, organic low-fat vanilla yogurt, I decreased the amount of sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup because the yogurt has added sugar. 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or a high speed machine like Vitamix until oats are smooth. Tip: Add a cup of oats at a time for even blending. 

2. Coat your pans with organic, cold pressed coconut oil or use foil liners (I read that these are preferred over the paper liners on her blog). Divide batter among cupcake pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check them at the 15 minute mark by inserting a toothpick in the center. When it comes out clean, they're done. You don't want to over-bake them. My muffins baked at 15 minutes exact.  

They have a corn bread texture and kind of taste like banana bread but without the use of flour! C&E recommends you eat them when they're warm. Thanks C&E for this recipe!

* This is one of the kitchen appliances I recommend because they are a blender and food processor all-in-one! They can do unlimited things. When buying a new Vitamix from the manufacturer direct, a 7-year warranty accompanies your purchase. I personally use the 5200 Super and I have owned mine for 2.5 years. It comes with a 64 oz container for all cold related foods and a 32 oz container for dry grains.  Learn more about this model and the others here

***06-00 8064 *** 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Savory Winter #Squash #Recipe

Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and choose a recipe based on flavors you like. The other day I did just that with ... Savory Winter Squash!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. It is a true science to cut into Fall/Winter Squash!! 

"Oil Blend" Ingredients:

4 tbs coconut oil, melted
1 tsp of minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp of rosemary (or more)
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/2 onion 

Mix ingredients above and let the flavors meld in the baking dish you plan on using. When oven is ready, place squash in the baking dish skin side down. Baste the squash with the oil blend. No cover needed. Baste the squash with the oil blend every 20 minutes while it's baking. Your squash is done when a fork can push through the thickest part of the squash with ease. (Note: You can leave the skin on. If it's baked enough, the skin will peel off with little to no effort or you can eat it.) It took about 50 minutes to bake. 

I enjoyed this one as a stand-alone dish. I frequently eat veggies by themselves. I believe they make an excellent meal choice!  

Nutritional benefits of winter squash as per WHFoods

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Subscribe to my blog here to never miss a post. 
Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.
Download my free eGuide when you subscribe to my monthly newsletters for free.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baked Apple Rings

Baked Apple Rings

This recipe has been moved to my new blog. See the recipe at Conveying Awareness.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthier Version of Oatmeal - Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup [raw] honey (or pure maple syrup)
1/2 cup oil 
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp real vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (or granola)
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour (or 1/3 cup of almond meal and 2/3 cup of flour)
1 cup raisins (omitted)

Special additions:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (omitted)

1/2 cup of Enjoy Life chips

Heat oven to 375. Combine all the ingredients except the oats, flour, raisins (or any of the special additions) and mix thoroughly. Stir in the oats, flour and your special additions of choice (I used the chocolate chips). Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. (I set the timer at 11 minutes but by the 3rd dozen, I had decreased the time to 8.)

Recipe found in the "The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood" book by Dr. Bill Sears.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Persimmon ... Cookies!!

In one of my CSA boxes from Abundant Harvest Organics, I received persimmons. Hmmm. What to do with persimmons? With every foreign item in my CSA box, I will search the internet for recipes. I've eaten dehydrated persimmons before but I didn't do the drying. So, here's to what I found... and the best part of it all was that my son and I prepared this recipe in the kitchen of Cooking and Kids'!

Recipe adapted from All Recipes, Persimmon Cookies II. These are our changes:


4-5 Hachiya persimmons pureed (see note 1 below)

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
1 egg
1 tsp real vanilla
2 cups 100% whole wheat flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: sliced almonds, crushed walnuts, ground cloves (see note 2 below)

Note 1: The best way to prepare persimmons is freezing them then letting them thaw. You can also let them (over) ripen on the counter. This may take a few days so if you're in a hurry, freeze them! Use a pairing knife and peel the skin, throw the persimmons in the blender and puree. Bring the puree to room temperature, if cold, before using them in this recipe. 

1. After prepping the persimmons, mix the sugar, egg, and vanilla. 

2. Add in the pureed persimmons. 

3. In a separate bowl, prepare the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and stir until combined.

4. Add the dry mixture a half cup in at a time. 

5. Fold in the optional ingredients.

6. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop the batter using an ice cream scoop about an inch apart. The cookie batter will not spread but they'll be big so you may be able to fit 9 cookies to a sheet. 

7. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.

Yields 2 dozen. 

Note 2: We omitted the ground cloves and the walnuts from the original recipe. The cookies were absolutely delicious! We thought afterwards since we added a couple extra persimmons than what the recipe called for that we could have decreased the sugar content even lower (original recipe called for 1 cup)! Persimmons are not overly sweet on their own but with the hints of cinnamon and nutmeg they really did shine in this recipe.

Note 3: I made these again subbing the butter for applesauce to try a dairy free version of the cookies. Applesauce is a 1:1 for oil and butter. It cuts down on calories (but who's counting? -- when you're eating healthy fats in balance with each other, focus instead on quality not quantity (or calories in this case)). I would not recommend subbing applesauce. It makes the batter way too runny to set as cookies. I should have tried the batter as muffins but I am not sure they would have held out. 

Maybe you're a baker and have a recommendation on how I could have changed the recipe when it came out too runny when using applesauce instead of butter. Feel free to leave a suggestion below. 

What is your favorite recipe using this type of persimmon? 

Buon Appetito! 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pasta with Tomatoes and Feta

Fantastic, easy, nutritious pasta & tomato dish!

I modified the following recipe with what I had on hand. The first bite reminded of the fresh pasta I made while we lived in Italy! Yes, my modifications were that good!

Original recipe by Chow: click here

I had on hand dried herbs - Italian dried herbs - rosemary, oregano, and basil. I also substituted the cheese called for in the recipe with feta and fresh Romano cheese. 

Everything else in the recipe I followed. If you like tomatoes, I think you'll like Chow's recipe or my rendition. Buon Appetito!! 

Photo Credit: Conveying Awareness

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple #Fig Muffins #recipe - complements of #AHO

Complements of Abundant Harvest Organics (AHO), I'm sharing their recipe for Apple Fig Muffins that my son and I made (modifications are annotated by an asterisk).

2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup * coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup * organic vanilla yogurt 
1 egg beaten
1/3 cup melted butter 
1 1/2 cups of chopped figs 
2 cups of shredded (or thinly sliced) apples 


1 T melted butter
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup * coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine egg, yogurt, and butter in a small bowl. Beat together until all is moist. Stir in apples and figs. 

Spoon batter into baking cups using an ice cream scoop to fill. Combine the topping ingredients and spoon over muffins, pressing down in batter a bit.

It makes 18 regular sized muffins. 

Bake in 375 degree oven for 22-25 minutes depending on the size or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Download my free eGuide when you subscribe to my monthly newsletters for free.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

#Recipes compliments of #BuenaLomaGardens

Here is a quick way to make salsa and guacamole. And you'll see from the images, you don't need a fancy blender! I spent an afternoon with Elvie from Buena Loma Gardens where she showed me some quick recipes using whole foods!

For the salsa base: fresh squeezed lemon juice about 1/4 cup, 1/2 of a large white onion, 5 medium tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic and one pepper (choose your desired heat level). Blend but not 'til smooth. 

Pour into a bowl and add 1/2 cup fresh cilantro. Stir. Salsa is ready!

Guacamole: Prepare 6 avocados, pour 1/2 cup of salsa and mix. 

For another healthy, easy dish - roasted organic vegetables (eggplant, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and zucchini). We grilled them with sea salt. Yep - that's it. No oils! 

We served the salsa and guacamole with organic blue corn chips and the roasted veggies with a side of basmati rice. Simple, nutritious, and delicious! 

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Subscribe to my blog here to never miss a post. 
Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.
Download my free eGuide when you subscribe to my monthly newsletters for free.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cucumber Appetizer

As I previously mentioned, I would be creating a separate post on an 'appetizer' I sampled at Buena Loma Gardens. 

I call it an appetizer because it surely would be a great dish to serve at a dinner party or other event where finger foods are ideal.

Ingredients needed:

Asian cucumbers
Cream cheese
Tomato pesto
Baked kale

Slice cucumbers at an angle. Add a dollop of cream cheese and spread evenly on top of cucumbers. Add tomato pesto on top of cream cheese and then sprinkle baked kale. 

Buon Appetito!

How to make tomato pesto: Sun dry your tomatoes or dehydrate. Place the dehydrated tomatoes in a food processor (or vitamix), olive oil (the amount should be equal to the amount of tomatoes you used - not too soupy but not too thick), oregano and other Italian herbs, and garlic salt (or fresh minced garlic). Optional: add roasted peppers. Make a big batch and freeze extras.

Baked kale: Remove stems, add olive oil, salt, and garlic to the kale and bake at 275 degrees for 30-40 minutes. You can add the tomato pesto before baking or once it's already out. 

It is a superb dish. I hope you'll try it! 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Buena Loma Gardens - Baked Kale and Salsa con Nopales

My friend asked me to publish the article she wrote on her trip to Buena Loma Gardens and share it on my blog, which published on July 4th, 2012. In her article, she plugged a local farmer, Charlie, and his wife, Elvie. It was a win-win situation: I got to share a gem and it peaked my interest to visit myself!

After my son and I went blueberry picking, we took a nice ride out to the other side of Temecula - about a 25 minute drive from the Temecula Blueberry Co. It was a scenic ride. I have lived here for 4 years and haven't even scratched the surface of what Temecula has to offer! In my friend's article (already linked above), she said she got lost but found some signs to Buena Loma Gardens (below) and thought, why not?! So I ventured the same route and this is what I found, too: 

Before my visit, I had contacted Elvie and Charlie to inform them that I would publish Elisa's article on my blog and would keep them in the loop about the amount of hits her article generated. I informed them that I would be bringing my son to see them and learn more about their farm. 

Believe it or not, we spent 2 hours there! When we first arrived, a family was there purchasing produce and another customer showed up after us. I met Charlie first. I introduced myself and then he went to get Elvie. She came out a few minutes later with a tray full of yummy snacks. She gave all of us a few food demonstrations on how to make flavorful combinations. One of the demonstrations and samples she offered us was kale baked with EVOO, garlic, salt, and her tomato pesto. She added the kale to slices of fresh avocado. It was delicious. I love both kale and avocados but I would not have thought to put them together at least not in the manner that she showed us!

She also showed us another nutritious snack using Asian cucumbers but this one is worthy of a separate post or read it here. Below is a picture of Salsa con Nopales. I inquired about the uses of nopales and she brought out the salsa along with some tortilla chips to dip and it offered a fresh taste with a slight crunch. I grew up in south Texas and many of my friends' families prepared and ate nopales. I am open to trying every fruit and vegetable so when I had the salsa it seemed like a familiar taste. I am sure I've had this before as a kid many moons ago. 

I was given a personal tour of their garden and I lost count on the varieties of fruits and vegetables that they grew. If I had to take a guess ... probably 30-40 different plants! Charlie spoke to me about his vast knowledge on composting and organic gardening. The information I learned, I hope I can remember when I start next season (and for the very first time!) gardening in soil. Charlie said I could email him for support and gain the know-hows to keep a beautiful and fruitful garden. (Until that times comes, I will be gardening through the use of the Tower Garden by Juice Plus+ (aeroponic gardening). 

Both Charlie and Elvie spoke about their passion in educating the public about healthy eating and helping people to see how easy and affordable it really is to eat well never compromising on taste. They said it goes beyond just eating healthy - it is a way of life! I couldn't agree more! 

We spent $12 and I came home with 8 Kara Kara tangerines, 8 Ana apples, 3 nopales, some cayenne peppers, her organic dried seasonings, 1/2 pound of dried persimmons, 8 white nectarines, 10 bunches of kale (freshly picked from the garden), 3 Asian cucumbers, and a sample of her tomato pesto. 

The hospitality and friendliness of Charlie and Elvie is inviting and makes you feel comfortable as soon as you get out of your car. That's probably why we stayed so long! My son enjoyed playing in the dirt while I got to take in some new recipes. When it was time to go, he wanted to stay and hang out. That's a good sign if anyone knows how a 3 year old can be.
Fresh kale before baking. 

Since our visit, my son has thoroughly enjoyed the dried persimmons. We've eaten all the nectarines, and most of the tangerines along with most of the apples. I baked the kale using half (5 bunches). The best way to make the kale is to bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes. Longer at lower temperatures is better than quicker at higher temps - well, unless you're using the hot California sun. For example, drying persimmons in the sun takes about 8 hours but in a dehydrator, it is about 24 hours. 

I may remove the stems next time for better crisping. 

Enough about my visit. Have you gone yet? If you haven't read the other post yet, they're open 7 days a week from 9a - 7p or by special arrangement (always call first). Ask Elvie to show you some food combinations when you stop through and please do not forget to tell her that you learned about her through the Conveying Awareness' blog. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)