What’s a Fit Bit? You Could Win This Cool Gadget!

My first introduction to the Fit Bit was when I met up with an ex-client for tea. She took it out of her pocket and said “Have you seen the Fit Bit yet?” She explained how she had been using it as a podometer, but that it also tracked her sleeping patterns and food intake. After using it for a few weeks and using the website to log her food intake, she finally saw that drinking 1 or 2 glasses of wine was causing her sleep disruptions. We had talked about alcohol being an issue when it comes to truly restful sleep, but the non-judgmental facts of her patterns were illuminating for her.

I thought, now this is something I can get excited about! I got in touch with the company and they agreed to let me try the Fit Bit. I’ve been wearing it for about 2 weeks now, and I’m going to share my experiences via YouTube videos so you can see how it works and what I discover. Watch the first video here:

I’m announcing a special contest to win this awesome new gadget on my blog: Just leave comments here on this post about why you think a Fit Bit would help you reach your health and wellness goals by 5/14 and you could be chosen to receive your own device!

Vegan Cheese Challenge #6: Galaxy’s New Cream Cheese Line

Galaxy Nutritional Foods, the company that brought you Rice Slices and Vegan “cheese” Slices, has debuted their much anticipated new line of delicious non-dairy vegan cream cheeses. And let me tell you, to this non-dairy girl, the little tubs of vegan cream cheese couldn’t have come at a better time.

Just when I was thinking of throwing a garden party to celebrate the coming of spring with little cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwiches, Galaxy throws down the best vegan “cream cheese alternative” I’ve ever tasted!

Galaxy Nutritional Foods Cream Cheese Alternative

Galaxy Nutritional Foods Cream Cheese Alternative

The Chive and Garlic version was out of this world – I took it to a karaoke party where the vegans in attendance (Michael Parrish Dudell, HuffPo writer and editor at the Domino Project, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart the Founder of Vaute Couture, and Marisa Miller Wolfson the director of Vegucated, a documentary following a group of people who try a plant-based diet for 30 days) practically licked the container clean.

Galaxy’s new product is missing that old grainy, kinda-tofu like consistency and texture that was such a turn off.

The line is available in Classic Plain and Chive and Garlic under the Galaxy Nutritional Foods Veggie and Vegan brands. Both lines are vegan, gluten free, and certified kosher.

Nutrition information: Serving Size 30g. Servings per container 8. Calories 90. Total Fat 9g. Calcium 4%. Cholesterol 0mg. Sugar 0g.

Luck Of The Irish! St. Patty’s Day Cupcake Triumph

At 9:15am I received an email from the director of my son’s preschool. She wrote that another parent brought in some Irish Soda Bread for the class to share at snack time, around 10:30. The bread most certainly had eggs and dairy, which meant my son wouldn’t be able to have any.

using liquid chlorophyll as a natural food dye

Natural Green Food Dye For Cupcake Frosting

What’s a dairy-free mom to do? Necessity is the mother of invention, and this mama sprung into action. I took one of the cupcakes I had frozen from the Valentine’s Day batch and set it on the counter to warm up to room temperature.

I had experimented last week with making a quick frosting from warmed coconut butter and a little brown rice syrup, so I knew I had a good base to work with.

Green….green…where was I going to get green food coloring that’s non-toxic and fast?

I opened my refrigerator door and scanned its contents. Should I try to juice some parsley or a kale leaf? Those might taste too strong and ruin the cupcake-effect I was going for. Then, I looked at my condiments shelf and spotted my savior, in the form of a dark glass bottle…Liquid Chorophyll!

I usually take liquid chlorophyll for it’s blood building and cleansing effects, and I knew that green color was a powerful dye – I’ve spilled enough drops on my kitchen towels over the years to know! You can buy liquid chlorophyll at your local health food store in the supplements aisle, or online for less than $6 a bottle here:

So here’s how I made the perfect, healthy green icing in no time:

2 Tablespoons warmed coconut butter

(I put it in a small container and set that in a larger bowl, then added some hot water to surround the smaller container to warm up and soften the coconut butter)

5 drops liquid chlorophyll

1/2 teaspoon brown rice syrup

I used the back of a curved rubber spatula (AKA spoon-ula) to cream the ingredients together. You can add more drops of liquid chlorophyll to get the color just right. Once it was mixed I spread it on top of the cupcake – easy!

I remembered that I had some St. Patty’s Day stickers in my son’s art box, and whipped up a little shamrock-on-a-toothpick for decoration. I carefully tucked the cupcake into a food container and high-tailed it up the hill to the preschool. The class was just finishing their art projects before snack time, and I had about 10 minutes to spare. Whew! My son looked thrilled with his surprise snack, and I got an extra 30 minutes of power walking into my day.

All in a days work for a super-mom….

Ever Have a Yeast Infection? Win Yeast Arrest From Vitanica

I’m about to go into the “too-much-information” zone, but we’re all friends here, right?

Last summer I had a yeast infection. A minor bladder infection turned into a kidney infection while I was traveling, and I took a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics helped my kidneys, but did what they often do – they killed not only the infection but all the good, beneficial bacteria that was keeping my intestines and reproductive organs balanced. Hence, the yeast infection.

While strolling through the health food store looking for a product that would relieve the itching and discharge (I said this was TMI-zone!) I came upon one of the most amazing products I’ve ever tried. Vitanica’s Yeast Arrest was like a beacon of cooling, healing light at the end of a dark, itchy tunnel. Formulated by Dr. Tori Hudson, a naturopath, Vitanica contains tea tree oil, oregon grape root, boric acid, cocoa butter, and several homeopathic remedies.

These suppositories worked well and worked fast. What I also loved about the product was the box itself: Dr. Hudson makes dietary recommendations for avoiding sugar, yeast, alcohol, and fermented foods as well as several other ideas for decreasing the overgrowth of yeast. This may be the first time I’ve seen a product like this offer sound health advice necessary for helping customers truly heal.

The most popular over the counter product for yeast infections is Monistat. Monistat is applied in a similar fashion in that the medicine is inserted like a suppository. Unfortunately, the harsh anti-fungal chemicals contained in products like Monistat come with clear warnings and might cause:

Monistat may cause the following side effects:

  • Rash
  • Burning at the site of application
  • Itching
  • Irritation of the skin or vagina
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hives
  • Chills

So if you’ve suffered from yeast infections and want to avoid the complications from using other over the counter products, enter my blog contest here and you could win yourself a box of Yeast Arrest! Enter a comment her by 3/16  ~ Want to order some Yeast Arrest today? Go here!

Natural Sweetener Smack Down: Agave

Human beings are built with a taste for sweetness – it’s in our DNA. We crave sweetness because mother’s milk is sweet, and we’re programmed to crave sweet carbohydrates so that the human species will survive. When we were all still living off the land, hunting and gathering in the wilderness, sweet foods were safe to eat – poisonous foods are generally bitter.

In the last 200 years, humans have gotten really good at growing crops that can be made into sugar. The cheap, abundant bags and bottles of sweetness have led us into a dire health situation.  Americans get most of their calories from sweeteners. They also get many diseases from added sugars. Sugar isn’t bad, it’s just that we tend eat too much of it.

The current epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity is directly linked to humans’ recent ability to produce huge amounts of refined carbohydrates from corn, sugar cane, and from a lesser extent maple trees, honey combs, and cacti. But some sweeteners make life interesting, food taste good, and make birthday cake delicious.

It gets confusing when we try to wade through all the conflicting information about how much sugar is safe to eat, which sweeteners are healthier, and which ones are dangerous over time. Now let me start off by saying that I don’t think you’re going to keel over if you have a cup of coffee with two packets of white table sugar. But do that three times a day for 20 years and you’ll start to see some health problems develop.

I do my best to use more natural sweeteners. “Natural” and “unprocessed” are loaded terms. By “natural” I mean less processed and as unrefined as possible. I try to use sweeteners that are made from plants and are only slightly cooked, dried or crystallized using as few steps as possible. If I can’t understand the process it took to create something, I’m less likely to eat it. I also avoid sweeteners that were made in a lab or chemically derived like splenda, aspartame, saccharin, high fructose corn syrup, and so on.

That being said, I love a good dark chocolate or a creamy rice pudding and I’m only human after all – so I do enjoy desserts. I just eat a lot less sugar than I used to, and I feel better now than I did in my early 20’s.

So, I’m putting together a series on natural sweeteners to help people understand the benefits, drawbacks, and uses of the different options lining the health food store aisles.

The first contender had a meteoric rise to fame in the health food world since it’s introduction in the last 10 years, but is currently experiencing a negative backlash. Agave, alternatively known as “agave nectar” and “agave syrup,” comes from cactus native to Mexico. If you took that same syrup and fermented it you would eventually get Mexico’s other famous liquid, tequila.

In small doses of less than a teaspoon, agave was believed to have little affect on blood sugar levels, and was thought to be safe for diabetics. However, people rarely use less than a teaspoon of sweeteners, and there are other factors that should give diabetics pause. Agave is also very high in fructose – about as high as high fructose corn syrup. Since all that fructose is hard for your liver to metabolize, anyone with liver issues should avoid using agave as their main sweetener. Fructose elevates triglycerides and gets stored as body fat. So if you have high cholesterol concerns, avoid agave.

Agave isn’t made from corn, which is a common food allergen. Also, high fructose corn syrup has been shown to contain traces of mercury from the processing facilities where it is produced. Unlike other metals and trace elements (copper, zinc) you DON’T need any mercury in your body! Now the Corn Refiners Association is trying to get permission from the federal government to allow them to change labeling laws so that HFCS can be labeled as “corn sugar,” which would be much more appealing to consumers. Corn Sugar – sounds safe and friendly, doesn’t it?

So when it comes to using agave, I prefer to use it in small amounts for recipes that need a good liquid sweetener that doesn’t add extra flavor. Maple syrup is often to maple-y, and brown rice syrup is too thick for some recipes. I like to add agave to my Iced Teeccino Latte in the summers, and here’s my recipe for this delicious caffeine-free beverage:

Iced Teeccino Latte

2 tablespoons teeccino or 2 teeccino bags

2 cups unsweetened rice, hemp, or soy milk

2 teaspoons agave

1 cup ice

Directions:

  1. Place the ground Teeccino in a tea strainer and set in a tea pot or 20 ounce mug.
  2. Pour the milk in the pot or mug and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The milk will absorb the flavor of the Teeccino while chilling.
  3. Remove the pot from the refrigerator and remove the tea strainer.
  4. Pour the steeped Teeccino milk into 2 glasses. Add 1 teaspoon agave into each cup and stir well to melt the agave.
  5. Add ½ cup ice to each cup and serve chilled.

Growing Up In The Garden

Some of my first memories are from my mother’s garden. When I close my eyes I feel cool pebbles and dewy grass under my bare feet, hear buzzing bees and chirping birds, and smell a cacophony of scents from roses, lilac, herbs, freshly turned earth, and compost.

Mom and Me, aka "Sasha" (Eve's Organic Garden - mid 70s Lake Grove, OR)

My mom learned gardening from her grandparents in Texas and moist, chilly Port Angeles, Washington. To me, she seemed like Snow White incarnate – mom could bring any dying house plant to life, sprout any seed, and knew where to find the birds, butterflies and interesting spiders. Her decade-long run as the radio host of Eve’s Organic Garden on KBOO in Portland, Oregon proved that her ideas for planting and knowledge of gardening were admired by many.  The local Italian family that ran Ricardo’s restaurant often stopped by looking for fresh herbs and flowers.

As a kid, I enjoyed the rambling gardens around our old farmhouse. Private tunnels of blackberries provided space to daydream, and the Rainier cherry tree offered sweetly blushed gems every spring. I found a lot of pleasure in picking seeds to grow every spring, learning the look of healthy soil, and digging around for bugs and worms. It seemed like magic to discover the nasturtium seeds growing out of the stems where edible flowers of red and orange once bloomed so brilliantly.

While my brother and I grumbled about the inevitable hours of weeding, pruning, hauling, and raking, today we look back on that time as peaceful, formative, and a badge of honor. Now we find that gardening relieves our stress and keeps us healthy. It’s not just the organic, fresh food we can grow. We harvest something more – peace and connection.

Growing up on the west coast, we didn’t know that fireflies were real. My first sighting of these electric “lightning bugs” was actually in Central Park, when I was about 21 years old. I was visiting my brother a few years before I moved to New York City. I excitedly told my brother, then almost 30, “I saw a firefly! They’re real!” He beamed back at me with joy, and it felt like we were kids again, sharing this wonderful discovery.

Now I long for spring planting and have happily settled in a ground floor, Brooklyn apartment with a back yard and space to plant a few pots. Last summer’s freak tornados had the silver-lining effect of creating more sun in my previously shade-choked yard when three neighboring trees lost half of their limbs.

I’m passing on my love for digging, planting, watering, weeding and waiting to my son, Laken. When I discovered kid-sized tools at a stoop sale (we call them stoop sales here in Brooklyn, because who has yards? We have stoops!) a couple of summers ago, I scooped them up and handed them to Laken, who happily took them outside and started digging. Gardening seems to be in our DNA. (You can order a set just like it here!)

Teaching him how to dig a hole, bury a seed, water it carefully and often, and look for slugs feels right. What could be more important than teaching my kid how to grow his own food? We won’t be living off of our harvest any time soon, but being able to grow our own lettuce, a few strawberries, snow peas, and pretty flowers makes me feel capable, and I hope to pass that on to him.

Laken and Roisin plant organic strawberries

This weekend we’ll be putting some seeds in potting soil, placing them in a sunny window, and beginning the late winter vigil over spring’s hopeful shoots of green.

Laken harvests the organic strawberries

My favorite seeds have come from:

LocalHarvest.org: http://www.localharvest.org/corn-jade-blue-heirloom-organic-non-gmo-C18363 – The Baby Blue Jade Corn is the only sweet corn that works in containers – just be sure to put bird/squirrel netting over the ears.

Seeds of Change: http://www.seedsofchange.com/

This company sells heirloom, organic seeds of all kinds – flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs abound.

For my favorite books on gardening in containers and small city spaces, look here:


Natural Soda Taste Test Challenge #2: Fizzy Lizzy

When I saw today’s headline that “energy drinks” are being linked to major health problems for adults and kids alike, I realized that this taste test challenge series is even more timely than I thought. Not only did a study released last week link diet sodas to higher risks of cardiovascular disease, energy drinks often contain four to five times more caffeine than soda, and some people drink several servings a day. The problems of overdosing has become so widespread that the American Association of Poison Control Centers “has adopted codes…to start tracking energy drink overdoses and side effects nationwide.”

What with all the hype about dangerous side effects from drinking regular soda, diet soda, and energy drinks (Did anyone really think it was ok to drink 4-5 times the regular amount of soda at once? Yikes!), I think it’s time people started exploring to the natural soda selection available in many grocery and health food stores. Last week I test drove Zevia’s stevia sweetened cans, and you can read my comments here.

This week I’m sharing my love for a local New York City soda:

Fizzy Lizzy!

natural soda taste test challenge series alexandra jamieson fizzy lizzy

Coming in several flavors including Grapefruit, Fuji Apple, Yakima Grape, Pineapple, Cranberry and Raspberry Lemon, Fizzy Lizzy comes in glass bottles and uses so few ingredients you might be tempted to recreate the recipes at home. (Which I often do, and I’ll show you my recipe at the bottom of this page!)

My personal favorites are the Pineapple and Fuji Apple. Pineapple has three – count ‘em 3! – ingredients: carbonated water, pineapple juice and vitamin C. The Fuji Apple contains carbonated water, apple juice, lemon juice concentrate, natural fuji apple flavor, and vitamin C. Again, there are few ingredients, they’re pronounceable, and I see no preservatives besides the vitamin C.

This line was created by New York Citer dweller Liz Marlin, who loved mixing her own low-sugar drinks at home, but couldn’t find anything available in the retail stores that offered good flavor and natural ingredients. These drinks are 70% juice and offer a light, refreshing taste for the “adult soda” market that offers a great option: maybe you don’t drink alcohol or have guests over for dinner who are designated drivers.

The flavors are hip, clean, and healthier than the traditional sodas of my youth. (sorry Dr. Pepper – I loved you so, but I can’t do the acidity anymore!)

You can find Fizzy Lizzy’s in many stores across the country, and you can even make your own version at home!

Here’s my recipe for homemade sodas, a la Fizzy Lizzy:

1 20 ounce glass (glass glass, of course – everything tastes better out of a glass glass, right?)

4-5 ice cubes

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup soda or seltzer water (I used to love tonic water, but then I read the label and realized it has high fructose corn syrup – curses! Vodka and soda water just ain’t the same.)

DIRECTIONS: Mix all together in a glass, drink, AHHHH! Enjoy!

What You’ll Get With Your Red Hot Heart Membership: How It Works & What You’ll Get

Red Hot Hearts: Women’s Detox & Cardiovascular Health

8 Week Tele-Series

Starting February 15th at 2pm EST

**How to get a Detox Box worth over $100 for free just by signing up early

How will the program work and what will I get?

Every Tuesday for 8 weeks, the 20 members will call in to a special conference call line. I’ll introduce a few topics about food and healthy living each week, and we’ll discuss the best, easiest ways that the members can experiment and explore the new information.

Every member will have a chance to ask questions and share ideas and concerns.

Your privacy is a top priority for me, and our community will create a shared, safe space to grow as a group.

Worried you might miss a class?

Each call will be recorded! That way you can download and listen to the calls later if you need to miss a call, come late, or leave early. You can download each call to keep forever on your computer if you so wish. The information we’ll share will serve you well for years to come!

YOU’LL ALSO RECEIVE TONS OF EASY, HEART HEALTHY RECIPES THAT WILL HELP YOU DEVELOP DELICIOUS VITALITY EVERY DAY, WITHOUT SPENDING A LOT OF TIME IN THE KITCHEN –

HERE’S ONE OF MY FAVORITES!vegan pumpkin pancakes, gluten free waffles, mochi waffles, easy recipes

Ready to reserve your spot? Go here for more on the 8 Week Red Hot Hearts Tele-Course with Alex: http://www.nutritionforempoweredwomen.com/blog/red-hot-hearts/

Members will also have access to a private online-classroom and e-group for support and resources between calls.

And this tele-series doesn’t just take on the dietary and nutritional aspects of improving cardiovascular health while enabling  gentle detoxification. We’ll also practice delicious, simple, yet profoundly effective ways to create a loving sense of acceptance for your body exactly as it is now – which is as important as choosing the “right” foods to healing your body.

“Love is the greatest touch-up artist of all.”

~Robert Brault

**Did you know you could also get a bonus box of goodies and resources if you sign up by 2/3? I’ll send a box filled with valuable materials to every member who signs up by 2/3 at 2pm EST. The box will include a signed copy of my book The Great American Detox as well as other valuable goodies, for a total worth of over $100! Cool!

Ready to sign up? http://www.nutritionforempoweredwomen.com/blog/red-hot-hearts/

Not sure if this program is right for you? Write to me at alex@nutritionforempoweredwomen.com and I’ll be in touch when I return from my Costa Rica retreat with Ariel & Shya Kane on 1/31! (INCLUDE LINK TO TRANSFORMATIONMADEEASY.COM)

A Vegan Mom Needed Advice On Pre-School Food…So I Answered!

A letter from a vegan mom in my Brooklyn neighborhood:

I’m wondering if any vegan families can share their experience with sending their child to pre-school and dealing with group snacks, cooking projects, etc. Since my son’s dietary restrictions are not allergy-related I am a little reluctant to have him singled out as different or make him feel as though he is being deprived of something other kids are enjoying. (Can a two-year-old understand the ethical reasons for veganism?) On the other hand I don’t really want him to develop an affinity for animal products. One reason I am wondering this now is that some pre-school applications ask about dietary restrictions, and I’m not sure whether to mention this at this point. > > Thanks in advance!

Here’s my answer to her question:

Hello E.,

My son and I are vegan, and we’ve had a great experience at our preschool these last 2 years. We are “ethical vegans,” meaning we don’t have allergies either. I just made it clear to the director and his teachers that we don’t eat animal products. There were a couple of instances where some milk did make it into his cup, but on the whole they have been really great, easy to work with, and aware.

I bring in a box of rice or hemp milk every week so he can have that at snack time. I pack all of his meals and snacks every day. I’ve asked the teachers to let me know when they’re going to do cooking projects, and they let me know 2-3 days in advance so I can help them adjust a “vegan version” for him to help with.

Examples:

- I brought in canned, unsweetened coconut milk and real maple syrup for them to use for a rice pudding recipe.

- They used my vegan broth instead of chicken when making vegetable soup.

There is a big list of every food allergy in the class, and more than half of the class has some food they can’t eat. So it’s really no big deal that Laken is vegan. I think that will be true at most schools. In addition, the other parents have been great in terms of “party days” and birthday celebrations. The other parents or a teacher will let me know if someone is bringing in cupcakes to share, pizza, etc. I have frozen vegan cupcakes in the freezer that I can thaw overnight and send him to school with on the day. I’ll make a really simple frosting out of melted vegan chocolate chips to top it fresh that day.

For pizza parties, which happen 2-3 times a year, there is a local pizza place that will deliver a whole wheat, vegan cheese pizza with Daiya, soy-free cheese. The teachers even loved it! If you don’t have a pizza place in your area that has this option, stop by and speak with the manager and offer them a bag of Daiya. Tell them your family will happily order from them in the future if they’ll start carrying this cheese – it’s a great marketing strategy for pizza places to offer “dairy-free cheese pizza’s” for all the lactose intolerant out there!

In regards to your question about wether a 2 year old can understand your ethical reasons for not consuming animal products, I believe that kids have a natural love for animals. From the beginning, I have talked with my son about how we love animals, how they are our friends, and how we don’t eat our friends. He gets it, and it wasn’t hard. I don’t tell him that other people are bad for eating animals, I just tell him we don’t. A couple of resources that made this really easy:

Charlotte’s Web

The Black Stallion

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals

Bear Feels Scared

So, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask. There are more ideas and recipes in my 2 books Living Vegan For Dummies and Vegan Cooking For Dummies, which are both available online and at bookstores.

Be well, Alex

Eat Your Mushrooms – for $2 off!

I enjoy mushrooms like my cat loves fresh catnip – envision me rolling my face in a plate of sauteed criminis or shiitakes. Yes, I do get a little excited about the rich, “meaty,” umami-like flavor of the edible fungi.

Thank goodness the kind folks at Monterey Mushrooms have sent me a boatload of $2 off coupons with which to buy more!

Want one? Well, send me a comment on this little blog post, and you could get a cool mushroom coupon in the mail from yours truly! Leave your comment by 10/15, and you could get ya’ some!