Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Hi all! I'm very excited to talk to you today about juicing! According to Dr. Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, juicing green vegetables in particular, is a great way to maximize micronutrient absorption  and lessen the stress of digestion on your body. You could also get the benefit of increased micronutrient absorption by blending fruits and vegetables. However, I would much rather drink a V-8 style juice than smoothie. Juicing to ease digestion is mostly directed toward people with bowel issues or possibly other autoimmune diseases.  In the past year, I struggled with some bowel issues and looked to Dr. Furhman's inflammatory bowel disease newsletter and protocol for guidance (I would post the link but you would have to be a member of his website to read it). Through this newsletter and also the documentary, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead (also on Netflix!), I learned much about the benefits of juicing. For those with bowel issues, allowing your body to rest as much as possible and consuming plenty of leafy green vegetable juices is key to recovery (according to Dr. Furhman). When your bowel is injured or diseased, it needs rest in order to heal. By juicing fruits and vegetables and eating lightly cooked vegetables, the bowel still gets the nutrients it needs to heal and does not have to spend time breaking down the fibrous fruits and vegetables.

The more obvious benefits of juicing are 1) Fresher than store-bought juice  2) Tastier, at least Brant, Munchkie, and I think so 3) Healthier. Store-bought juices are usually pasteurized and/or made from concentrate. Check out this website for information on the concentration process: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/understanding-concentrate-juice.html. Basically, the natural water that is found in fresh squeezed juice evaporates during the heating portion of the juice concentration process so all that is left is the most flavorful part. Also, additives are added to the juice so it will have a longer shelf life.

I actually got into juicing about a year ago because I wanted to juice carrots and celery to use as soup broth. Brant and I also loved creating different delicious fruit and vegetable juices. Since then, I've gone through phases where I juice every day to not juicing at all for a few months. When I was having my bowel issues, I was juicing multiple times a day and got kind of sick of it! Just recently, I have gotten back into it and love it! The juice I made today was apple, celery, and carrot- both Claire and I loved it! Two of our favorite combos are apple, pear, and grape, and also apple, lemon, and beet- it sounds weird, but it is delicious!!

We have a Jack Lalanne power juicer that we got at Costco. We've had it for over a year now and haven't had any problems. I highly recommend it! A juice recipe book comes with it too! However, you could also find juice recipes online.

Before signing out, I will leave you with a picture of Munchkie. Since I didn't get a picture of her drinking her juice, I'll post one of her reading her favorite book after dinner tonight. Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Long Week

Sorry folks for not posting anything for over a week! I was feeling a little sick, but am starting to feel better now and ready to post something! I've been thinking about a few different topics to write about over the next week or two...juicing, Claire's favorite meal, our favorite dips and spreads, and eating lower-sodium or sodium-free meals. So that's what you have to look forward too!

I also would like to refer you to my friend Angie's blog: http://dietdnadestiny.blogspot.com/. While I'm writing about what to eat, Angie is writing about the science behind eating a predominately plant-based diet and its benefits. Also, in my very first post, I mentioned some of the books that inspired me to change my eating habits (aka Eat to Live, The China Study, etc.). Well, there is a great documentary, Forks Over Knives, that highlights the most important findings from The China Study and also follows various people and their journey to health following a plant-based diet. It's only 96 minutes and if you have Netflix instant play, you can watch it on there! I also have a copy of the movie so if anyone in the Portland area is interested, you're welcome to borrow mine!

I'm going to relax now for the evening, but I promise to not go this long again without posting!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Munchkie's Favorite Snack

Happy Friday everyone!

I don't have any recipes to share today, but I did want to tell you about a very popular snack in our family. Drum roll please..... the Lara bar! Brant first introduced me to the Lara bar a few years ago and we've been eating them ever since. What we love about the Lara bar is 1) They are tasty 2) Very few ingredients 3) No additives or preservatives 4) Comparable in price to other energy bars 5) Large selection of yummy flavors.

I have just a small sampling of the many types of Lara bars in the picture on the left.  Currently, I have chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate chip brownie, apple pie, lemon bar, cashew cookie, and cherry pie Lara bars. You can check out all the flavors at www.larabar.com.  In the picture on the right are the ingredients in the cherry pie Lara bar: dates, almonds, unsweetened cherries. And that's all!!! Now let's look at the ingredient list for the PowerBar Harvest Energy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie- I used to eat these in college before I ever cared about looking at the ingredient list in foods.


While there are certainly much worse foods you could eat than this PowerBar, there are certainly much healthier alternatives- such as the Larabar. Anything with a super long ingredient list like the above makes me cringe and generally, I avoid like the plague. Again, I'm not perfect and certainly make unhealthy choices, but in general, I prefer avoiding processed foods.

So back to Munchkie. She LOVES Lara bars! Her favorite flavor is peanut butter cookie which is made up of just peanuts and dates. She probably could eat 3 or 4 of these a day if I let her! Whenever we go to the grocery store, I either bring a Lara bar with me or buy her one to keep her occupied. Brant's favorite flavor is cherry pie and mine at this time would probably be the lemon bar flavor. Costco sells a box of 18 Lara bars that has the cherry pie, apple pie, and peanut butter cookie flavors, which is where we usually buy them. You can also get them at pretty much any grocery store- I've seen them at Fred Meyer, Trader Joe's, Safeway, Whole Foods, and Albertson's. If you could not find them in a local grocery store, you could always order them online.

Anyway, that's all for today folks. Have a wonderful St. Patty's Day weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meal/Snack/Dessert Quesadillas

Good afternoon! Munchkie and I are finally relaxing after a morning at the Portland Children's Museum. What a neat place to take little kids. Munchkie loved exploring all of the different exhibits but I think she'll enjoy the museum even more once she's older and taller! After the museum, we enjoyed a nice lunch with Brant at Cafe Yumm before heading home. And now here I am writing this post! I'm really excited about sharing these quesadilla recipes with you all.

For the past few months, I've been making many different types of quesadillas for Claire and myself, both sweet and savory. I started with hummus, mashed avocado, and non-dairy cheese quesadillas and then also mashed ripe banana and almond butter quesadillas. Claire absolutely loves these! I realized that I could potentially sneak a lot of veggies into these, so sometimes I would blend peas with her avocado and then spread that on the tortilla. Recently, I've been eating a lot of peanut butter-banana-sliced apple-agave nectar quesadillas too- they remind me of dessert crepes but much easier to make and healthier! I started thinking about all of the variations for these quesadillas and got really excited!

Before I list all of the variations, I need to talk to you about the tortillas first- this is very important! I use Ezekial Sprouted Grain tortillas. I get them at Fred Meyer in the natural food freezer section and they cost about $2.69 a pack- not bad! I've also seen them at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. What I love about these tortillas is 1) Made from sprouted grains which are easier to digest 2) Very few ingredients and no additives or preservatives. Check out this ingredient list:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now compare the ingredients in Ezekial tortillas to the ingredient list in regular Mission flour tortillas:

Ingredients: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron,Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Palm Oil), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate, and/or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate), Salt, and contains 2% or less of: Preservatives (Calcium Propionate, Sorbic Acid and/or Citric Acid), Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite and/or Mono- and Diglycerides).

Ok, well I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have the ingredients from Ezekial tortillas in my body. Now, if you decide to try these tortillas, you may not be crazy about them at first, but trust me they grow on you, especially since they are so healthy! And like I said before, they are absolutely delicious when used for these quesadillas. So without further ado, here is my favorite quesadilla recipe so far and the variations I would like to try:

Peanut Butter-Banana Quesadillas

-1 Ezekial tortilla
-2 tbsp peanut butter (I use Adams)
-Mashed ripe banana
-Cinnamon, to taste (optional)
-Agave nectar/honey, to taste (optional)

Heat non-stick pan over medium heat. Mash your ripe banana (the riper the banana, the sweeter the quesadilla will be!) well and then spread on one half of the quesadilla. Spread your peanut butter on the other half. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey or agave if you desire. Place tortilla flat on pan and cook for a few minutes. After a few minutes, fold one side of the tortilla over. Flip to the other side after a couple minutes, and cook for a few minutes more. I like some light brown spots on my quesadilla and for the tortilla to have a little crunch to it. Cut like a quesadilla and serve!

 Like I said before, Munchkie loves these...and so does Odie, although he likes pretty much everything I make :)

Ok, and finally, the variations:

-Nutella or vegan alternative with any type of fruit- banana, strawberry, thinly sliced apple or pear, coconut
-Any nut butter such as cashew, almond, walnut, macademia nut butter, sunflower seed butter with mashed banana
-Peanut butter, mashed banana and thinly sliced apple or pear (my favorite!
-Nut butter and jam
-Hummus and mashed avocado with or without the peas blended in
-Hummus and either dairy or non-dairy cheese
-Refried beans and either dairy or non-dairy cheese
-Plain cheese, obviously

You get the picture, I could keep going, but I won't- there's lots of possibilities. Anyway, that's all for now- have a great night!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mexican Barley Salad

Hello again! I probably never again will have two posts in one day! However, this is a special occasion since it is the first day I'm sharing my blog with the world and Claire's napping:) I made this salad about a week ago and Brant and I loved it! Brant and I have a rating system for the meals I make, and Brant gave it a 9/10. I was going to have Claire try it, but it was all gone before she had a chance to! One thing I've noticed about kids- they seem to want to eat whatever their parents are eating. It is amazing all of the foods Claire will eat and seem to enjoy if she sees Brant or I eating them!

Clearly, I need to work on my photography, however, to be fair, I really did not try very hard to get a good picture of this meal. I just snapped the picture really quickly before Brant sat down to devour it. Down the road, I am thinking about taking a photography class so I can take better pictures of the recipes I make and also better pictures of Claire! I will definitely make this dish again, but I will probably tweak a few things so it is more Claire/kid-friendly. This dish was really easy to make and healthy, so I highly recommend it! So here you go!

Mexican Barley Salad

-1 can black beans
-10 baby carrots, chopped*
-1/3 of a cucumber, diced
-10 grape tomatoes, chopped
-1 cup chopped purple cabbage
-2 green onions, chopped**
-1 avocado, chopped
-Handful of cilantro, chopped
-3 cups cooked barley***
-1/2 cup mild salsa (I used Trader Joe's salsa authentica)
-1/4 cup rice vinegar
-Juice of 1 lime

Cook barley or other grain according to package directions. I rinsed my barley in a colander with cold water before I put it in the serving bowl because I knew I would be serving it soon. However, if you plan to refrigerate your salad for a few hours before serving, I wouldn't worry about rinsing the barley.

Cut up all of the veggies and put in a bowl with barley once done cooking. Whisk together salsa, vinegar, and lime. Pour over veggies and barley, mix well, and either refrigerate or serve. Enjoy!

*Next time, I'd either omit the carrots or chop them really small for Claire
**I'd also just top individual portions with the green onion so Claire would not have any in her serving
***I used barley, but any grain would be delicious such as rice or quinoa


Hello and welcome to my blog! If you're wondering about the title, "Munchkie" is my nickname for my 16-month old daughter, Claire. This blog is intended to share with the world my adventures in cooking healthy, plant-based meals for my family. It is definitely a challenge making meals that are enjoyed by both Claire and my husband, however it is a challenge that I love undertaking!

 Over the past 4 years, I have read multiple books including The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Eat to Live, Super Immunity, and Disease-Proof Your Child by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and have been amazed and excited by the benefits of eating a mostly plant-based diet. Both authors have documented the incredible effects of diet on various disease such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. In many cases, some of these diseases were reversed or the disease progression slowed greatly by simply following a plant-based diet. Reading these books have changed my life and eating habits forever. Although I still have a weakness for sweets and french fries, my overall daily food choices are centered around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.

My goal in writing this blog is to inspire family, friends, and strangers to add more fruits, veggies, and whole foods to their diet and to learn that eating healthy can be delicious. Ultimately, I'd love to start writing healthy cookbooks for children. I figured a blog was a good first step toward that goal :) So welcome and enjoy!