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Broth, Three Ways

Broth, Three Ways

Summer may be approaching and soup may be far from on your mind, but broth is a staple in this house hold.  I keep broth at the ready for many reasons, but they all come back to health.  Broth is a phenomenal health builder, good for the immune system, the heart, the brain, the gut, the skin… the soul.

I have three versions of broth I would like to share with you, one for each type of need.  I use an Instant Pot for my broths, but you can always use a basic slow cooker or a pot on the back of your stove.

Here is the list of basic ingredients you will need for all three:

  • filtered water
  • sea salt
  • apple cider vinegar
  • mix of vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, garlic, etc.
  • herbs: oregano, parsley, thyme, pepper, etc.


Chicken Broth

Let’s start with chicken broth, as it is probably your first thought!  Chicken broth is such an easy home remedy for what ails you, and it tastes so rich, too.  That’s because it is!  Those bones are powerhouses of minerals and nutrients.  Cooking the bones over low heat releases the minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, omega fatty acids, protein, collagen… you get the idea.  The slow and low method breaks down the bones and allows these nutrients to escape the bone and infuse the broth.

As I cook chicken for meals, I reserve the leftover bones and meat parts.  Usually I keep a container in the freezer dedicated to broth parts- bones, meats, tendons, cartilage, and random vegetable parts.  When it is full, I know it’s time to make broth!

So into the Instant Pot I dump my broth contents, and then cover with clean filtered water.  Personal preference note: Make sure there is plenty of garlic!  I love garlic cloves in my broth, as they add more depth to the flavor.  Add the sea salt, black pepper, and apple cider vinegar.  For chicken you only need the seasonings to taste and the apple cider vinegar can be a tablespoon or two.  Save the herbs.

Cook the broth on low for 12 hours or so.  Keeping it on low preserves the natural and collagen proteins.  Too high heat will break them down and you will lose the benefits, and the gelatinous quality of your broth.  Once it is down, remove from heat and allow to cool. It is at this point I add my softer herbs.  They can be overcooked and lose their flavor if cooked too long.  So I allow them to infuse the broth for the last hour or so during cooling.

Once cooled, strain the broth into wide mouthed mason jars and allow to cool further before covering with a lid and placing in the fridge.  Label (this part is important!) and freeze until needed.


Beef Broth

Next let’s talk about beef broth.  This broth is a stronger flavored broth, but richer in minerals and nutrients.  This happens simply because the bones are bigger and more dense than little chicken bones.  it is for this reason too that the broth needs to cook longer than chicken broth.

You follow the same steps as the chicken broth, but increase your apple cider vinegar to 1/4c.  Allow this broth to cook on low for 24 hours.  If not using a lidded pot, please monitor the water level to ensure it doesn’t evaporate and burn.  When done cooking, remove from heat and add the herbs.  Once completely cooled, label and store in the fridge or the freezer.


Vegetable Broth

Last but definitely not least, we have vegetable broth.  This broth is wonderfully nourishing, though it lacks the collagen and protein of bone and meat broths.  You still benefit from the antioxidants and nutrients in the vegetables, and it will add great depth to your meals and soups.

Follow the basic ingredients list for the broth and allow to cook on low for at least one hour.  I would cook for up to a couple of hours, but you really don’t need a long cooking process as you do for the bones.  When complete, you will have a richly colored broth, but don’t expect gelatin like consistency.






Here I have some added tips on getting the most out of your broth:

  • Use top quality ingredients.  Since you are cooking with the intention of extracting the nutrients, you want organic herbs and vegetables, pure water, and grass fed bones and meat.  You don’t want to extract any chemicals, hormones, and pesticides with your nutrients, so cook clean to eat clean.
  • Always, always, always cook on low.  Too high and even too long can alter the taste and quality of your broth.
  • When straining, dump the herbs and veggies but save the bones.  You can use them again for a second batch.  Yes, it’s true!  For the second round repeat the process, but increase the apple cider vinegar amount and double the cook time.  You will be getting deeper nutrients released from the bones, though collagen will be minimal.  This means second batch broth will be more liquid and less gelatinous.
  • If you are purchasing soup bones, roasting them before cooking will enhance the flavor of your broth.
  • Want to increase the nutrient content?  Add egg shells!  In the summer I get my eggs from local farmers.  So every time I crack an egg, I wash it and save them in my freezer broth container.  This will bump up your calcium levels in the broth!
  • To freeze, you MUST use wide mouth mason jars.  Do not over fill the jar (I leave plenty of room, as in 1/2 to 1″ of space) to allow for expansion.  I also do not seal the lid tightly until after it is frozen.  Failure to do so will result in cracked glass and tossed broth.
  • I love to add seaweed to my broths.  Kombu is a fantastic seaweed that when added to cooking liquid not only imparts flavor and iodine, it helps to extract the nutrients from the other foods being cooked.  Win win!
  • You can freeze your broth in muffin tins or ice cube trays.  Then remove and keep in a freezer container.  These are perfect for cooking vegetables, soups, sauces, or other meals.
  • Drink your broth in place of tea or coffee for a deeply nourishing pick me up!
  • Use the broth in place of water for rice, veggies, quinoa, and more.


The summer CSA

The summer CSA


Honestly, one of my favorite things about spring and summer is the farmer’s market stands overflowing with fresh produce.  It’s the highlight of my week to get to go!

This year, of course, we brought the farmer’s market directly to us through our summer CSA share.  CSA, community supported agriculture, is a fantastic program that offers you farm fresh produce at the height of it’s nutrition, while also benefiting the local economy and supporting our farmers.  CSAs are wonderful for the environment too because there is less carbon footprint.  Win-win-win!


Today we picked up our second share, and all I can say is oh my!  (I would have posted about our first share, but we were too excited and hungry to take pictures!)  But this week it was too beautiful not to share.  Our produce is from Conover Farms in Burgettstown.  It’s organic, heirloom, and non-GMO.  And amazing!!!!


Tonight’s dinner was straight out of the box.  Spring time salads are great ways to detoxify and clean out your body from the heavy winter foods.  Lots of greens, lettuces, asparagus, onions and garlic… these are all phenomenal detoxifiers.  They are full of fiber which helps to clean your intestines and move things along.  The greens are high water content and as such, a good diuretic.  Asparagus, too, is a diuretic.  Remember, this supports your liver and your kidneys, which are two important organs for toxin removal.   Onions and garlic are sulfur rich, a mineral that supports the body in many of it’s inner day to day functions.  But sulfur also helps rid the body of unwanted items.

Seeing a theme?  The foods that grow naturally in the spring season all act together to help our bodies move from one season to the next.  This is why eating in tune with the current season is so good for our health!  Nature knows exactly what it is doing.  We just need to follow it’s lead!


So for dinner tonight…


Springtime Salad

1 bunch romaine lettuce, roughly torn

1/2 bunch asparagus

1/4c. shelled peas

fresh dill, chopped

2T. fresh squeezed lemon juice

3T. avocado oil

sea salt to taste


In a small jar, mix together lemon juice, oil, sea salt and dill or other herbs.  Mix to emulsify.

Lightly steam or sauté the peas and asparagus.  You only need a minute or two because you want them to be slightly cooked, but still crisp.

Toss the romaine with the dressing and place in a large bowl.  Top with asparagus and peas and more fresh herbs.  You can eat as is, or add protein of choice.  Personally, I would go with salmon or a light chicken here!  Enjoy and know that you are doing yourself and your community a favor!

Elevated Blood Sugar, Round 2

Elevated Blood Sugar, Round 2

Previously we discussed what it means when you have elevated blood sugar and how it affects your body.  You can find the link here:

Once you know this, it is important to know that for many, your choices in day to day life can lead you away from elevated blood sugar and possible diabetes, or they can get you there faster.  We are going to discuss some easy and healthy ways to lower blood sugar and maintain improved glucose levels on a regular basis.

Let’s remember that food, stress, and environment all play a role in our health.  Eating, exercising, social interactions… they all cause our body to respond chemically.  This means our body is releasing hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, insulin…) as it feels it necessary.  Our body is in a constant state of awareness- it is primed and ready should it need to switch from relaxed mode to go mode.  Foods that are good for our individual bodies will have little impact, but when we eat something that is not right for our body, it creates a larger insulin response.  This is true for exercise and environmental exposures, too.

For someone who is in otherwise good health, these little episodes of fluctuating blood sugar can be corrected nicely and we are back on track to regular programming.  Eating the wrong foods, having the wrong timing of eating, temporary illness, or undergoing stress are common triggers for blood sugar alterations.  But if you are not at optimal health, it is harder for your body to navigate these changes.  Weight gain, lack of exercise, poor food choices and unregulated stress are risk factors for high blood sugar that eventually leads to diabetes.

If you fall in this second category and are experiencing high blood sugar levels (pre-diabetes), you are in luck!  Unless there is an underlying medical condition, your situation is reversible.  So let’s talk about what you can do.

First off, let’s talk about food.  Did you know there is an easy way to tell if a food is good for you?  This is not an allergy or sensitivity test.  This is simply a way to tell if “your” body handles a particular food well.

  • On an empty stomach, take your pulse.  Write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Eat the food in question.  Only eat that food, do no eat anything else with it.
  • Wait thirty minutes, retake your pulse.  Write this second number down on the piece of paper.
  • After sixty minutes has gone by, check your pulse a third time.  Write it down.
  • Check it a fourth time after ninety minutes and write it down.
  • Now compare the four numbers.  If your heart rate has risen significantly at any point in this ninety minutes, this food is not right for you.  Any increase six beats or more is considered an indication of intolerance of that food.

These foods may or may not be off limits for you permanently.  Sometimes it is just a temporary sensitivity and is a response to an underlying issue.  Resolving this underlying issue can sometimes result in returned tolerance of the offending food.  Sometimes, however, it is a permanent sensitivity.

In addition to knowing what foods are good for your body, you can begin to design your eating plan around what will give you the maximum benefit.  You may have heard some mention of glycemic index.  This is a listing, a rating if you will, of foods and how they affect your blood sugar levels.  Starches, especially refined and processed ones, are your biggest offenders.  Breads, rices, pastas, sugars, treats (cookies, cakes, candies), dairy, white potatoes and some fruits can be trouble spots.  This does not mean you cannot eat them ever.  It means you need to monitor your intake of them.  Get to know how they affect you personally, and go from there.  Again, what spikes your friend’s blood sugar may or may not spike yours.  Each person is unique.

Next, starting your day off with breakfast is good for your thyroid, your metabolism, and contributes to steady energy levels throughout the day.  After a long night’s sleep, try starting your day with some healthy protein and fats.  Eggs, avocados, and greens are great options to get you going.  If you have no appetite right away, listen to your body and ease gently in to breakfast.  Some of us need to eat immediately, and some of us need to give it an hour or two.  Pay attention to how you feel when you eat versus when you don’t, and take notes in a journal if necessary.  Watch for patterns among your foods, behaviors, and mood or how your body feels.

In the meantime, here is a great breakfast idea for you to try:

Baked Eggs in Avocado

If you normally eat sandwiches or pastas for lunch, consider swapping them out for a salad.  Replace the grains with crunchy nuts and seeds full of omega threes and protein, and swap pastas for lower starch foods like sweet potatoes and squashes.  Packing a lunch for school or work?  No problem.  Check out these awesome Mason Jar Salads, complete with dressing!

30 Mason Jar Recipes: A Month Worth of “Salad in a Jar” Recipes

Dinners that offer a quality protein source, healthy fat, and nutritionally dense sides are your best bet.  If you are craving pasta, try the popular vegetable noodle recipes that are swarming the internet right now.  They’re delicious, and had my kids downing whole zucchinis in one meal!

50 Low-Carb Veggies Noodle Recipes


Looking for a sweet treat?  Replace your desserts with fresh or frozen berries.  Berries have a lower impact on blood sugar levels than melons and tropical fruits, such as papayas, mangos and even pineapples.  Whip up a little coconut cream and place a dollop on top.  Or better yet, eat with a spoonful of almond butter and cinnamon!  Here are some more dessert ideas that are low on sugars.

5-ingredient (or less!) desserts that are low in sugar

So now we understand what elevated blood sugar means, and we have some good dietary ideas on how to combat this.  Give these recipes a try and see what you think and how you feel.  Coming soon, we will talk about making some other easy (yet impactful) changes in our lifestyles that can further build your good health and prevent elevated blood sugar.

Immune Boosting (Almost) Summertime Soda

Immune Boosting (Almost) Summertime Soda








Refreshing and fortifying?  Say it ain’t so!  But I tell you, it is!

Fortunately, we are pretty resilient and healthy in this household, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stock up on immune boosters when I catch wind of some virus going around.   A little pre-emptive strike never hurt anyone!  While we all are familiar with vitamin C and vitamin D and their benefits to our health, I love to utilize some of the lesser known beneficials.  I have a couple of reasons for this.

First, I have gotten away from relying on vitamins for health.  That is not to say that I don’t support their use, I do- just when it’s called for.  But if I can get nutrition from real food first, then you bet I will.  There are a number of inherent problems with vitamins in general.  Vitamins are often synthetic, produced in a lab to mimic their natural behavior.   It may seem the same as the natural form, but it behaves a little differently once it’s in our system.  Often, it’s less bioavailable to our bodies than the natural version.  What is bioavailability?  It describes how readily useable a nutrient is to our body.  What this often means is that the synthetic vitamins have to be packed with more nutrition in the first place because our body can only access so much from it.  In other words, they look higher in quantity of certain vitamins, but that’s because our body has to be supplied wth more in the first come to overcome the amount of nutrient it has no access to and will end up excreting, unused.

It’s also a popular practice to isolate properties and constituents from certain nutrients.  Research often focuses on  what makes a nutrient beneficial.  When they find one key component, this component gets isolated and sold in this form.  The intent is all well and good, to get straight to the most effective, impactful part of the nutrient.  But, what we often overlook in our search for the perfect magic bullet is that these foods are healthful in their entirety, not in their isolated constituents.  What I mean is that while this one constituent may certainly be beneficial for what the researchers found, what about the multitude of other constituents within this same food that are also beneficial?  Or more so, the fact these individual constituents all become ever more beneficial because they work synergistically together!  Our bodies do not work one individual part at a time, so why would a food?  It’s a living entity, too.

Manmade Vitamin C is usually combined with other unwanted goodies, like binders, fillers, and sugar!  The first two are just holding the pill together, and the last is added because otherwise it’s pretty unpalatable.  My kids have always begged for those vitamin C gummies and chewables.  Check the ingredients list.  Hey, look!  Sugar, right up there at the top of the list.  Which is ironic in a vitamin C immune boosting supplement, considering sugar is notorious for being an immune breaker.  So I have come to see these vitamins as a wash.   The bad ingredients wipe out the good.

Real food is often cheaper than supplements too.   We pay so much to be able to get our nutrients in a pill, a once and done thing.  Then we go eat food.  But since we have to eat food anyway, why not accomplish two goals in one fell swoop?  Get your vitamins from your food sources, and save your money.   Chances are, when you are eating clean, good quality foods, they will be sufficiently dosed in the vitamins you need to keep your system running well.  Processed, conventionally raised food may be cheaper at the outset, but you will just have to compensate later with more vitamins, supplements, and medical expenses.  It’s just filler.  Why not swap out your empty filler for health fortifying foods that taste delicious and save you in health and money down the road?  Plus, remember from above, the real food is jam packed with all the necessary components to give you the most effective boost!

So, what are my go-to boosters?  Well, any internet search for immune boosters will bring up myriad foods and herbs.  And that is a beautiful thing.  We have so much to choose from!  It’s empowering to see how many foods are able to supply our bodies with all the health we need.  For me, the fun lies in finding the right mix of ingredients to create something exciting and enjoyable.


During the winter we love hot, soothing teas.  They are so comforting.  But now as we enter the warm months, we needed something cooling, something refreshing.  So I took our wintertime favorite and put a little spin on it.

Ginger lemon tea is a staple in our house.  But to this I added turmeric for increased anti-inflammatory effects.  It also strengthens the effects of ginger, and vice versa.  And this was all well and good, but next came my new recent love.  Hibiscus flowers!  I love these little things.   I am talking about the dried petals from the hibiscus plant, and they are an excellent source of natural vitamin C.  As such, they provide a lovely little citrus flavor.  I usually sweeten this mixture with a good quality local honey, but it can be substituted with stevia if you prefer.

I tend to make this tea pretty concentrated.  We store this concoction in the fridge and use just a little at a time.  You can sip it off a spoon for a syrup-like dose, or do like we do- pour yourself a glass of Gerolsteiner mineral water, and add this mix for an indulgent flavor!


Immune Boosting Summertime Soda

  • 1/2″ piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1/2″ piece fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated
  • juice from 2 organic lemons
  • 1-2T. dried hibiscus flowers
  • sweetener of choice- honey or stevia, to taste


In a medium pot bring water almost to a boil, but not quite.  Add the fresh grated ginger and turmeric and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.

 * the longer steep time will increase the strength of flavor, and can add bitterness.  Especially with grated roots, taste after a few minutes to test for flavor.

Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat.  Add the hibiscus flowers now too.  Allow it to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes.

While still warm, add the honey to taste.  If using stevia, you can add powered form while still warm and dissolve thoroughly.  Add liquid stevia a few drops at a time and test for sweetness.

*I make mine extra strong with the herbs.  I store it as a concentrate and water it down when I drink it, so I plan for that.  Though honey needs to be added while still warm, I often add the liquid stevia at the time of use.


Summer CSA Series with Growing the Seed & Indigo Yoga Loft

Summer CSA Series with Growing the Seed & Indigo Yoga Loft

Summer CSA Series with Growing the Seed & Indigo Yoga Loft

How to Prepare, Cook and Get the Most from Your Summer Produce!

I am very excited to announce a Summer series I’ll be teaching!  Summer means sun, fun, and great, fresh food!  Every year I look forward to all the beautiful local produce from our local farmers.  I’m a huge fan of the farmer’s markets around here, but I also love to be a part of a CSA.  What’s a CSA?  It stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

You buy in to a share of produce from a local farm.  Your payment guarantees you a box delivered every week full of fresh goodies from the farm.  You can choose between a full or half share, and some farms have additional options such as fresh milk or eggs.  It’s a great deal for you because you are guaranteed wonderful fresh, locally grown produce every week, but it’s great for our farmers because we are supporting them in their endeavors!  Win-win!

Why buy local?  It’s better for you.  The food has higher nutrition content because it travels less, is picked at ripeness, and delivered to your drop spot.  It’s better for the community because we are supporting local businesses.  It’s better for the environment because there’s no long distance travel involved!

CSA’s are a wonderful way to do good for yourself and your community, so what are you waiting for?  And once you’ve signed up, join me this summer and I will teach you how to get the most from your fruits and vegetables!


How to Prepare, Cook and Get the Most from Your Summer Produce!

Do you participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program but don’t know what to do with all of that fresh produce?  Join Meredith from Growing the Seed and Jill from Indigo Yoga Loft for our 10 class CSA series and let us help you think outside the produce box!  Participants will learn:

    • How to identify those fruits and vegetables in your box
    • Health benefits of your weekly delivery
    • Sample and enjoy weekly recipes and menu options
    • Learn quick and easy cooking techniques

When: every other Wednesday from 6pm-7pm beginning June 7, 2017

Where: Indigo Yoga Loft

Cost: $10 per class, $45 for 5, or $80 for 10.

RSVP: 412-257-3200

Elevated Blood Sugar

Elevated Blood Sugar


This post is in honor of a friend of mine.  He recently was told by his doctor that his blood sugar levels were high.  In other words- he is pre-diabetic.  Blood sugar, or glucose, helps us to survive.  It’s the nutrient our brains run on, as well as muscle.  We need a steady glucose load to keep our bodies running.  But the emphasis here should be on the word “steady”.  Too low or too high equals too dangerous.

Our bodies work hard to maintain a healthy balance of all of our necessary nutrients, including blood sugars.  When our levels get low, it gets to work releasing any stored glucose or assigns the liver to creating more.  It has to move fast, because if levels continue to drop it can progress from lightheadedness and confusion to fainting and coma.  Not eating, exercising without replenishing nutrients, medications, and even some other medical conditions can precipitate low blood sugar.

If our blood glucose levels get too high, we now have an excess of sugar circulating within our blood.  Now our body needs to reign it in, and it does this by releasing insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.  Think of insulin as a taxi driver- it picks up the loose blood sugar and transports it in to the cells, where the body can put it to use.  But there are times where there is too much glucose for the insulin existing in the body.  Maybe your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, maybe the insulin is not able to function properly, or maybe there is just too much blood glucose. Foods are converted to energy in our bodies, and foods higher in refined starches and natural sugars are our bodies’ greatest sources of blood sugar.  Direct sources of sugar are a given obviously, but more than these, most of our foods are sources of glucose for the body.  Think dairy, breads, grains, and starchy potatoes, even proteins.  Fruits can also be a good source of sugars in our system.   Eating good quality sources and in the right quantities can keep us running well.  But overconsumption or improper balancing of foods can lead to trouble.  Complications of high blood glucose can become life threatening.

In the long term though, unstable blood sugars wreak havoc on our whole system.  They can affect our metabolic functioning- our hunger cues, the way our bodies use energy in the form of calories and fat and other macronutrients, as well as our weight.  Believe it our not, it also affects our hormones.  That’s right, blood sugar impacts our hormone levels.  Insulin is indeed a hormone itself.  If one hormone is off, our body has to correct it.  If it is not corrected quickly and efficiently, the body has to borrow from another hormone to fix it.  And then if that goes on long enough, it needs to borrow from more and more hormones.  This comes at a pretty big cost to the whole body eventually.

Now for someone who is in otherwise good health, these little episodes of fluctuating blood sugar can be corrected nicely and we are back on track to regular programming.  Eating the wrong foods, having the wrong timing of eating, temporary illness, or undergoing stress are common triggers for blood sugar alterations.  But if you are not at optimal health, it is harder for your body to navigate these changes.  Weight gain, lack of exercise, poor food choices and unregulated stress are risk factors for high blood sugar that eventually leads to diabetes.

Diabetes is pretty well known by now for it’s insidious nature, and hands down prevention is the best approach.  Educating yourself on the risk factors and how to avoid them is your best defense.  The consequences of poorly managed blood sugar do far more than just make you not feel well.  Short term high and low blood sugar episodes can cause fatigue, anxiety, palpitations, nausea, and more.  But long terms it’s much worse.  High sugar levels in the blood cause damage to arteries and veins, leading to heart disease, sexual dysfunction, cognitive changes,  mood disturbances, and even gastric upset.  Let it become diabetes, and you are at risk for damage to nerves, retinas, your heart and your brain.  Pretty far reaching, isn’t it?  Type 2 Diabetes is a disease usually of lifestyle.  This is good news because we have to ability to change this.

In the coming posts, we will discuss some ways of addressing blood sugar and how to improve your health.  Stay tuned!


Curried Brussels Sprout Chips

Curried Brussels Sprout Chips


Lately I have had a fascination with curry.  A friend of mine turned me on to Indian spices and ever since I have been experimenting with different combinations.  Cardamom is a particular favorite, and of course turmeric is added often for all of its healthy goodness.


Tonight, while chopping Brussels sprouts for dinner, I collected all the lost leaves and set them aside.  While my dinner was roasting in the oven, I tossed the loose sprout leaves in a bowl with avocado oil, fresh squeezed lime, curry seasoning, and chopped garlic and red onion bits.  Add a little sea salt, spread on a baking sheet, and voila!


I roasted them at 400 for around 15 minutes.  They were delicious!  I tend to go heavy on the curry seasoning so you get this wonderful, finger licking spice with each bite.  Needless to say, they were gone in no time.  Next time, I think I will skip the roasting of the big Brussels sprouts, and just separate them all in to leaves for this satisfying little snack!



Cooking Nutritiously for One Class

Cooking Nutritiously for One Class

This Thursday, April 6,  I will be at Beinhauer Funeral Homes in McMurray, PA to give a talk about how to eat healthfully on a small scale.  Come join me for ways to eat high quality, nutritious meals even when it’s just you!  There will be tips and tricks, handouts, and samples to be eaten.  Please come on out and see how easy it can be to eat well.  Food is nutrition, food is life- let’s make it enjoyable too!


Register here:;jsessionid=A1BF6B726A5C17684D74A3B572F3021A?llr=tbm6t4vab&oeidk=a07edyqpo0a649a1ef5

Beinhauer Funeral Homes

2828 Washington Road
McMurray, PA 15317

Thursday April 6, 2017

6:30 PM


What makes a meal

What makes a meal

We are all striving to feel better, do better, be better, live better.  We each in our own ways have our priorities and goals aligned, and slowly but surely we are getting there.  For so many, eating better is a work in progress.  And we are so fortunate to have such amazing information at our fingertips.  The internet, facebook, pinterest…  we can find all sorts of recipes and inspirations.

But sometimes these inspirational posts and videos can also work against us.  We look at what others are doing and think our meals will never come close to that.  Sometimes the ingredients list is intimidatingly long.  Or the instructions are so complicated.  Or maybe the ingredients are so exotic we’d have to travel all over the place (and internet) just to get them.  Yes, those gorgeous pictures get me too.  (Confession- sometimes I check out cookbooks from the library just to look at the pictures… with no intention of ever making the recipes!)  But sometimes you just need to set the cookbook down, turn off the computer, and make your own meal.

So what makes a meal?  I guarantee you it’s not a complicated list of unique foods and techniques you’ve never heard of.   A meal doesn’t even have to be hot.  A meal just needs to satisfy your needs nutritionally, emotionally, and mentally.  What do I mean by that?  We’ve been trained to think a meal has to come out like it does at a restaurant.  And for those of us who are not adept at cooking, well, then we must be relegated to cereal for dinner.  Or frozen dinners.  Or take out.  Not so!

In our house, I try to make a nice dinner once a week.  We are pretty busy, going from one place to the next all the time.  We take our meals together where we can.  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  And on those busy, throw-a-quick-meal-together days, the only rules are “Where is your protein?  Where is your green?”  My children are so tired of hearing me ask this but I drill it into their heads day in and day out.

Building our plates can be as regimented or loose as we choose.  But we start first with a vegetable.  (I prefer green, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.)  The biggest portion should be your vegetables.  These guys are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and necessary health boosting benefits.  They are your friends.  They help you function better, digest better, think better, breathe better, move better, fight cancer and other illnesses… need more?  I like to see at least half of my plate covered in vegetables.  Most of them work beautifully together, and in this house we aim for the rainbow on our plates!

Next, protein.  We don’t have to go over board here, just a modest amount is good.  The recommended amount is roughly .4g per lb of body weight.  There are some medical or extenuating circumstances that will change this, but those individuals will have been advised by their doctors if this is the case.  Protein is so important in providing nutrients such as omega fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, and all the good things that help us rebuild and repair.  This is important for day to day issues, like muscle support, but did you know it is vital in recovery from illness too?  So that’s why these too food sources are my top picks.  Of course I recommend organic, grass fed and pastured animal proteins, wild fish, and organic beans and legumes.  The beans and legumes are considered incomplete proteins, and therefor should be eaten with another incomplete protein to make them more available as protein and micronutrients in your body.  Vegetables are other incomplete proteins, so as long as you have vegetables to eat with them, you now have a better nutrient profile.  Combining them with nuts or rice will also do the trick.

Now, our healthy fats.  Avocado oil, coconut, ghee, lard or butter for cooking… olive oil as dressings or low temperature cooking… fat is flavor, fat is satiety, fat is healing.  Our brains are made from this stuff- feed your brain!  It doesn’t have to be much, but fat should be included in healthy doses every day.  What is a healthy dose?  You will know when you find your happy level.  Watch for the following signs:  improved energy throughout the day, less cravings for sugar throughout the day, less need to snack in general, improved mental functioning, improved digestion… sound good?  Right!  Fat is our friend.  How will you know when you get too much?  A quick way to tell is your digestion.  If it causes loose stools, back off a bit.  Reduce the amount until you feel good and see positive signs in your body.  For me, it took some playing around.  But my brain and digestive tract work best with a higher amount of fats in my daily diet.

Next comes a fruit.  Fruit is a tricky one.  Some people do really well with it, some don’t.  Pay attention to your body and you will soon find out which side of the fence you are on.  Fruit is natural fructose, but the body doesn’t see it differently than other sugars.  That means that fruit can still spike your blood sugars.  And that means it can create imbalances in focus, energy, hormones, digestion, and in just about every other system in your body.  Tread lightly, and focus on berries and lower glycemic index fruits, preferably local and in season.  Caveat- I do love my frozen berries.  Harvested at peak ripeness and frozen on site, they are more nutritious for us than most fresh options.  Dried fruits, by the way, are especially tricky here.  The dehydrated content of this food is even more blood sugar spiking.  We use these very sparingly.

Last?  Well, I go back to my vegetables, personally.  But for others, this is where you would enter your grains.  And of course, I prefer less inflammatory options like quinoa, amaranth, sprouted rice, and buckwheat.  My children love these, but honestly by the time they fulfill my previous requirements they are no longer needing them.  This keeps our gluten free, processed grain foods to a bare minimum.  Why is this important to me?  Because I believe there is truth behind the theory that a poorly varied diet contributes to food sensitivities.  And rice and corn, highly used gluten free substitutes, are fast rising on the allergen list.  I do occasionally indulge in the alternative grains, like lentil pasta, black bean pasta, and the like.  It makes for a special treat when the need arises.  But usually, once we have fulfilled my previous tenets, there is not really room in our stomachs for grains.

So these are my rules.  Sometimes our dinners look like beautiful, restaurant worthy plates.  Steaming hot foods that coordinate pleasingly with their herbs and spices, the kind that you want to take a picture of they are so pretty.  Yes, sometimes this is what we eat.  And then other times we eat carrots with hummus, avocados, and cold tuna salad.  Or cucumber slices with homemade mayo and deli meat.  Sometimes it’s just a random collection of things we found in the fridge.  But it always follows my basic tenets.  And if we walk away feeling satiated by the flavors, energized by the nutrients… then it was a meal.  And it was a good one.

So don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.  You do what you need to do to be healthy, and you do not worry about what your version looks like in comparison to someone else’s.  If you’re happy and you’re fulfilling your nutritional needs and wants, then you are doing well.  Congratulate yourself, you’re eating a good meal!

Everything Ahi Tuna…cabbage, and curry mayo too!

Everything Ahi Tuna…cabbage, and curry mayo too!

Today we had dinner for lunch.  One of those days- on the go, stuff to do, won’t be home later.  You know those days?  Yeah.

So for lunch, …

Seared Ahi Tuna covered in an “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning, served with roasted cabbage and curry mayonnaise.

This time of year cabbage is in abundance, and though it’s usually passed over for other more glamorous vegetables, it’s actually a stand out food all on its own!  Cabbage is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fiber, and B vitamins like B6 and folate.  It’s also got that magnesium we all need.  Not only that, it’s quite inexpensive in it’s humble existence.  Need more reason to love it?  It’s one of the goodies on the Clean Fifteen list, meaning it’s less likely to have been exposed to pesticides in chemicals during the growing process.  A.k.a. you can buy the conventionally grown cabbages, and not stress about it not being organic.

Needless to say, it’s been showing up in our house quite a lot these days.  Roasting the cabbage brings out a sweetness and a pretty palette satisfying crunch.  I added just a hint of garlic and cumin to the cabbage, drizzled with avocado oil, and voila- delicious!  (I did throw in some radish slices to the oven and let them roast alongside the cabbage.  I am on a radish kick these days, so they go with everything here too.)

As for the Ahi Tuna Steaks… well I owe this one to a friend.  After this seasoning showed up recently on the shelves at Trader Joes, we have found any and every reason to throw it into a meal.  So my friend’s brain child was to sear the Ahi Tuna in the Everything but the Bagel seasoning.  So very good.

No real recipes here, friends.  Just straight forward, easy cooking.  Easy peasy, but this meal makes you look like you might just know what you are doing in the kitchen.




The only recipe I will share here is the mayonnaise.

Homemade mayo is a staple condiment in this house.  I make the base recipe and then throw in herbs and spices according to my mood.  This week my mood said curry.  Curry spices have been a craving for me lately.  And they served me well today because they were a perfect compliment to the Tuna steaks and roasted cabbage.


Curry Mayonnaise

1 egg, room temperature

1 c. avocado oil

1/4 c. olive oil

fresh squeezed lime juice

1 t. turmeric

1-2t. curry seasoning

1/8t. dried garlic (or 1 clove fresh minced garlic)

sea salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste


  1. Allow the egg to come to room temperature.  I often pull mine out first thing in the morning, leave it to sit on the counter until afternoon, and then it’s ready.  This is an important step here- don’t skip!  Do use a high quality egg- organic, pastured, local if possible.  I use it reliably with organic, cage free as well.
  2. Crack the egg into a wide mouthed container.  I use a wide mouth pint mason jar.  Squeeze the lime juice in to the egg, then add the oils.  Follow with the listed spices.
  3. I use an immersion blender to blend everything together.  Place the immersion blender into the jar and turn on.  Blend from the bottom up to the top, moving slowly to incorporate and emulsify all ingredients.  You will see the mixture magically thicken and turn a beautiful golden hue.  When all the oil is mixed in, remove the immersion blender, cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour before use.  You could alternatively throw this in a blender and mix to get the same results.