Month: February 2014

Superfood & Gluten-Free Shrimp Ceviche

We all know that if you want to make someone happy, making their favorite food is a good place to start. If I want to do something special for my husband I usually make him my “famous” fish tacos with mango salsa, but last night I felt like doing something different. We discovered ceviche at the Solana Beach Farmer’s Market and it was so fresh and tasty that we went several times a month just to get it. Then, on our honeymoon to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, we tried different versions of ceviche at any place that had it on the menu. It’s a healthy, fresh, and festive dish. I usually wouldn’t think to do this in the middle of winter, but apparently that season doesn’t exist anymore in California; it’s been in the high 70’s for weeks. It was a perfect surprise for him in the middle of his busy work week, and needless to say I got extra attention and compliments last night ;) DSC00610 20140115-114807.jpg

Now, let’s talk for a second about how I spent an HOUR AND A HALF deveining 2 pounds of shrimp, shall we? I made the *awful* decision to save myself $4 at the market by getting the shrimp in their shells and not cleaned. I figured I’d save a little money! Now, I’ve done this to myself before, but we eat shrimp juuust rarely enough that I forget every. single. time. I HATE this job. It’s yucky and tedious. I told my husband I had spent an hour and a half just working on cleaning the shrimp and he asked if it was worth it. My response: “Is my time worth more than 4 dollars an hour?”. Yes, yes it is. You guys, don’t do this. Buy your shrimp cleaned and ready to go and then sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine, and relax during the time you saved. Unless of course you are a professional chef or you compete in shrimp cleaning competitions, which in that case be my guest. DSC00600 DSC00602

If you don’t make my same mistake though, this recipe is easy! It’s really great for parties as well as light lunches and dinners. For the best results, let the shrimp and veggies marinate in the citrus for several hours in your fridge before serving. Here goes (originally from the book Practical Paleo):

Ingredients: DSC00579 DSC00590

1 lb cooked, deveined, peeled wild shrimp (cooled)

1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced

1/4 yellow or orange bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (with seeds and white ribs removed)

1/4 cup diced jicama

1/4 cup diced cucumber (skin-on)

1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups of sliced cucumber, for dipping, or gluten-free chips of your choice

Chop the cooked, cooled shrimp into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces. Combine red bell pepper, orange/yellow bell pepper, jalapeño, jicama, cucumber, shallot, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, and lemon juice in large bowl.

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving with cucumber slices and/or chips

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Makes about 4 cups

What do these Ingredients do for you?? Well this recipe is quite the little health cocktail. Read on :)

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Bell Peppers:

They contain plenty of vitamin C, which powers up your immune system and keeps skin youthful. The highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety.

Red bell peppers contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits. Studies show that it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.

The sulfur content in bell peppers makes them play a protective role in certain types of cancers.

The bell pepper is a good source of Vitamin E, which is known to play a key role in keeping skin and hair looking youthful.

Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.

Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein, protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

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Shrimp (a true beauty food):

Though I would keep the amount of shrimp you eat to a minimum, having them occasionally as a treat has great health and beauty benefits.

Shrimp contain astaxanthin, a carotenoid that gives them their pink color and that can act as a potent antioxidant and protect the skin from premature aging. Also the omega-3 fatty acids in shrimp provide antioxidant protection. The zinc shrimp boast plays an important role in the production of new cells (including hair cells and skin cells). It also helps maintain the oil-secreting glands on the scalp that keep hair shiny.

Loaded with protein, vitamin D, vitamin B3, and zinc, shrimp are an excellent, carbohydrate-free food for anyone determined to shed off pounds. Zinc supplementation of zinc deficient subjects has been shown to increase the levels of circulating leptin. Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating the body’s energy expenditure, fat storage, and appetite. Insufficient leptin levels are believed to be the primary cause of food cravings, overeating, and obsession with food. The iodine in shrimp is good for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland which controls the basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which the body consumes energy at rest. Iodine deficiency can result in sluggish thyroid activity which in turn can lead to weight gain or hinder weight loss.

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Cucumbers:

Keep you hydrated. If you are too busy to drink enough water, munch on the cool cucumber, which is 96 percent water. It will cheerfully compensate!

Fight heat, both inside and out. Eat cucumber, and your body gets relief from heartburn. Apply cucumber on your skin, and you get relief from sunburn.

Flush out toxins. All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.

Lavish you with vitamins. A B and C, which boost immunity, give you energy, and keep you radiant. Give it more power by juicing cucumber with carrot and spinach.

Supply skin-friendly minerals: magnesium, potassium, silicon. That’s why cucumber-based treatments abound in spas.

Cut cancer. Cut down your risk of several cancers by including cucumber in your diet. Several studies show its cancer-fighting potential.

Stabilize blood pressure. Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief.

Helps digestion. Chewing cucumber gives the jaws a good workout, and the fiber in it is great for digestion.

Smooths hair and nails. Silica, the wonder mineral in cucumber makes your hair and nails stronger and shinier.

Soothes muscle and joint pain. All those vitamins and minerals in cucumber make it a powerful enemy of muscle and joint pain.

Keep kidneys in shape. Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy.

Good for diabetics. Patients of diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits: cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.

Reduces cholesterol. A compound called sterols in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol.

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Olive Oil (unheated):

Cancer: The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.

Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.

Oxidative Stress: Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t oxidize in the body, and it’s low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.

Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.

Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.

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Lemon and Limes:

Good for the digestive system: Lemon and lime juice behave in a similar way to our natural digestive enzymes, which means that they can help us digest our food as well as relieve us from uncomfortable wind and bloating. Try adding lemon or lime juice to a warm glass of water when you have heartburn or indigestion.

Help protect against cancer: Lemons and limes contain compounds called limonins, which research shows can help to fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lungs, breast and stomach. There is also a connection between limonins and fighting colorectal cancers.

Antibiotic and antiseptic properties: Given that lemons and limes are very acidic, this makes them ideal for fighting certain infections. During a cholera epidemic in West Africa, it was discovered that drinking lime juice appeared to protect citizens against contracting cholera bacteria. Further studies supported that lime juice did indeed play a role in whether people would contract cholera. It is thought that this fascinating health benefit comes from flavonoids called flavonol glycosides.

Good for cardiovascular health: Vitamin C can help to protect the body against free radicals, which are capable of making cholesterol dangerously more likely to build up and line the walls of your arteries. Lemons and limes happen to contain a lot of vitamin C, so they will make you less likely to develop heart disease or diabetes (or slow the progression of either disease if you already suffer from it).

Protect against arthritis: Free radicals that find their way into the body can also end up causing painful inflammation. Since vitamin C helps to fight these free radicals, eating lemons and limes may help to reduce inflammation in arthritic people (whether that arthritis is rheumatoid or osteoarthritis). Some studies also suggest that those who eat the least vitamin C are most likely to develop some form of arthritis, so if you don’t have arthritis then it is worth eating plenty of lemons and limes (among other fruits rich in vitamin C) to help guard against the development of arthritis.

Lemon juice can help to prevent (and get rid of) kidney stones: The American Urological Association has conducted research that proves lemon juice is capable of breaking down or preventing kidney stones. This is because lemon juice leads to the production of urinary citrate, which in turn prevents the formation of crystals.

Help with weight loss: Lemons and limes contain no fat, no cholesterol, and around a mere twenty calories each. This makes them idea fruits to snack on (if you like sour treats), and ideal to include as part of a meal while dieting. Further, adding lemon or lime to water can help to discourage you from the drinking sodas that contain huge amounts of sugar and calories.

Help maintain healthy blood pressure: It has been speculated that the potassium in lemons and limes can help to keep your blood pressure within healthy limits.

Help to strengthen your immune system: The vitamin C in lemons and limes also aids in developing a stronger immune system. This means that lemons and limes will help prevent you from falling ill as a result of viral and bacterial infections.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! As you can see there are TONS of health benefits from the ingredients that make up this lovely dish. Happy Wellness Wednesday!

The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love for those you are cooking for.” -Sophia Loren

25, Broke and Fabulous

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Sometimes I feel like I am in post-college limbo. Or that college was an amazingly exciting and sexy affair I just can’t get over.

I feel like something is just holding me back with one thread as I’m running as fast as I can but stay in place. I feel emotionally mature enough to have a Real Life. And if I can’t have a Real Life, then can I at least just be back in college? No? Sigh.

I am a cliche it seems. Unemployed, 20something, and moving back in with family. I know I’m not this super unique person with rare problems- so many people my age are in this exact situation. That makes me feel a lot better. At least I’m part of some kind of historical event- that means something, right?

I just moved out of my adorable perfect little studio in Santa Barbara and in with my sister, which is definitely not the equivalent of moving in with my parents- but it still means that I don’t have a place of my own. Which just sucks, I’m sorry.

I am so so so lucky to have not only my sister, but my boyfriend and his amazing roommates who let me stay with them and pretend that I’m still in college (complete with a kegerator and parties where no one really cares where beer spills).

But it still sucks to not have my own place anymore. Emily reminded me of this. I always try and look at my life and remember how grateful I should be- which I am. But the other day Emily reminded me that I’m not crazy to be cranky about not having a place to call my own.

There’s that part- no space that I can decorate all girly-like and walk around in a horrendous state where no one will see me.

But there’s also the part where I don’t have a job. Which is just confusing. You forget what day it is, what time it is… you’re ready to party on a Tuesday night and everyone else thinks you’re crazy.

Then there’s the constant guilt- did I do enough today? Did I apply to enough jobs? Along with the awkward moments: “So, what have you been up to lately Steph?” “…..I did yoga last week I think. And I applied to 12 jobs. And I walked to the gas station once to get Anthony candy just for an excuse to go somewhere outside….”

The worst in my opinion, however, is the Identity Thing. At 25, I feel like I should have some kind of career path going, at least. Ideally I would have a badass title and a great salary. But I would settle for just a job that makes sense in the context of some type of career and that allows me to, I don’t know, afford a car.

I hate that in our culture our occupation defines who we are in a lot of ways. The first question you ask people when you meet them is usually “What do you do?”. This makes sense considering we spend most of our time at our workplace. But when you don’t have a job, or the job you have doesn’t mean much to you, it sucks to live in a world where people attach so much meaning to it.

I’m getting better at disregarding this stuff and remembering that I’m ONLY 25 and can switch jobs, careers, styles, religions, hair colors- whatever- as much as I want. Who I am has nothing to do with “what I do” most of the time. So I’m working on valuing my relationships and passions more and taking time to cultivate those to feel good about myself.

I also feel proud that I have been financially independent since I graduated college. Of course I have student debt and I live with my sister rent-free and eat her food off and on…. but there is something so freeing about being the only one who really cares how much is in your checking account. No one else has to know. I can spend my last 10 dollars on a six pack and it would only be my business. I don’t know, it just feels good.

There is so much that I want to do now that I have a partner that I’m ready to start a life with. It makes it hard when that partner is just as broke as I am, but it’s also nice to know I’m not alone and we’re figuring it all out together.

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Hopefully I’ll look back on this time in a kind of romantic way. I always hear my parents tell stories about how they were so broke they didn’t know how they were gonna pay rent, how hard searching for jobs without the internet was, etc. At least I know I can survive on ramen and microwave quesadillas with no job and still be insanely happy.

My badass title currently: 25, Broke and Fabulous. Hmm- I should update that on LinkedIn.

When Life Gives You Old Brown Bananas, Make Banana Bread

Let’s not act like I always follow my own advice, here. Most of the time my old bananas go in the trash, but sometimes when the stars align and I’m feeling extra groovy, I make banana bread, and it is so, so worth it. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately. Okay, maybe you could call it more than a kick. Maybe you could call it an overhaul. I’ll be writing more posts about that journey and how my fiancé and I have gone from eating fatty meals and using chemical ridden household cleaners to shopping at the farmer’s market and using baking soda to clean our house, but tonight I’m talking about banana bread…I think. Anyway, I didn’t make your average banana bread tonight, and the results were glorious. Who said eating healthy isn’t delicious? No one? Oh okay.

So, here’s the recipe. It originally came from here. I tweaked a few things and I am not mad about it. The coconut oil adds a super delicate and subtle taste, and the whole wheat flour and stevia help to make this bread a little less of a guilty pleasure. The chocolate chips might have defeated the purpose of all those healthy replacements, but we won’t talk about that.

Introducing the amazing Coconut Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

 
What you need:
  • 1/2 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup neufchâtel cream cheese (it’s lower fat than regular cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup stevia powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bananas, medium sized ones
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • pinch of salt

What you need to do:

Heat oven to 350.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Sift the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl;  set aside.  In a mixing bowl, beat the coconut oil or butter on medium speed, until soft;  about 7 minutes.  Add the yogurt cheese, and continue beating on medium speed, for 3 minutes.  Add the sugar and stevia, and beat on medium speed, until fluffy;  5 minutes.  Add the egg and bananas, mix until combined.  Add the dry ingredients, mix on medium speed, until combined;  about 3 minutes.  Pour into the loaf pan.  Bake for 45 – 55 minutes.  Each oven is different, start checking at 45 minutes.  You want the bread to be golden brown, and a knife will come out clean when you stick it into the middle of the loaf.  Serve. Eat. Love

Voilà!

I’m currently enjoying my piece while drinking a glass of red wine and waiting for my fiancé to come home from softball, and I must say it makes me love hanging out with myself. These are the times when I realize it’s the little moments that make life so delightful.

Have a lovely night, friends!

 

Domino Effect

Cleaning up your routine is a slippery slope, my friends. Ye be warned. I swear this little adventure of mine started out innocently enough, but then I couldn’t stop. You can blame Pinterest I guess, even though in my opinion that’s an unlikely spot for someone to find information on becoming healthier. Pinterest usually has recipies like pudding oreo dip and super stuffed jalapeño cheddar burgers alongside pictures of (way too) skinny girls, but what can ya do. On with my point.

I was browsing Pinterest and I saw some information on what people call going ‘no poo’. As odd as it sounds, it’s actually quite simple. You stop using shampoo with chemicals and sulfates that strip your hair, and switch to washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Weird, right? But after reading all the rave reviews about how much healthier people’s hair got after they started the ‘no-poo’ process, I was willing to give it a shot. To be honest, I just cared about how my hair looked. I never really thought about the chemicals in my products before. However, after reading more about it I realized how absolutely horrible conventional shampoo is (more on that another day), so I decided to give ‘no-poo’ a try. It was probably at the worst time ever, too, being as it was the week before I went to Vegas with some girlfriends, but at this point I was committed. Despite some less than ideal Vegas photos and my hair getting a little nasty, I did it for an entire month and a half. Now, there’s this whole waiting game thing with the ‘no-poo’ strategy. First your hair gets kinda stringy and oily, but then it’s supposed to get all amazing and shiny and perfect. Like, unicorn tail perfect. Not surprisingly, I got really impatient. The whole gross looking hair thing really isn’t my scene, ya dig? So I started doing some research to see if there were other options, and in the process of trying to find cleaner alternatives to shampoo, I realized that pretty much anything and everything we use, from household cleaners to the stuffing in our sofas, have chemicals in them. Boo, I know.

Cue the pushing of the first domino.

I started reading the blog No More Dirty Looks, and the authors Siobhan and Alexandra are amazing at explaining why and how to clean up your routine. After reading their website and checking out all the chemicals in my products here, I realized if I was gonna throw out my shampoo and conditoner, I would need to throw out all my drugstore makeup as well. This included me convincing my fiancé, Kirby, into doing the same (this is why I love the guy). A few weeks after throwing out the biggest pile of junky products ever, I realized there was no point in cleaning up our hygiene products if we were cleaning our house with toxic chemicals, so I found ways of making all natural cleansers. Then, just this month I realized there was no point in worrying about all the chemicals outside of our bodies if we were eating foods covered in pestisides, so we started shopping for organic produce at our local farmer’s market. Do you see how this goes? If you do it all at once, as I’m sure you can see, it can be super overwhelming. Where does it end? I’m actually not quite sure, because even after all that we’ve done to clean up our routine, I’m now starting to think about things like water and air purification in our home and the chemicals in our clothing. I might end up eating grass eventually (organic, of course).

You would never guess I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, huh?

I’m aware that I’m no expert on all of this. But I have been doing a lot of reading on the subject, so I feel like I at least have a little to say, and if nothing else I have a lot of links to give you. I’ll try not to overwhelm you though; I’ll break it down. We’ll start with beauty/hygiene products, and then move on through different categories until I feel like I have (kinda) covered it. I want to pass this on because I feel like it’s important, and doable. I promise, I am the most non-committal person ever, so if I can do it, so can you.

I understand I might be preaching to the wrong crowd being that my readers are all my facebook friends (holla). But it is so worth it, I promise. If you don’t do it for yourself, as least do it for the planet and vice versa. I keep on hearing that if you want to be happy you have to do something that you’re passionate about, and I’m actually, strangely, passionate about this. And the whole point of this blog is to document what makes us happy, right? So here goes!

It’s gonna be fun, guys!

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