healthy living

Curry Crazy!!



I love curry! My son's father taught me how to make curry as well as other dishes from his home country of Nepal. Over the years, I've taken a few liberties with my curry dishes, adding whatever vegetables I have on hand to round out my meal. Today I got up early and decided to cook a curry for our dinner. I cooked it early so the flavors would have time to marry well. The secret to a great curry is to fry the spices well. I learned this from my mother-in-law. She was so right! Today's curry has eggplant, onion, potatoes, cayenne pepper, green and yellow pepper and chicken. Make sure you have a nice hearty gravy so it will go well with either naan or rice.  


Eggplant Chicken Curry


1 cayenne pepper, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

1 small yellow pepper, diced

2 small Ichiban eggplant, cubed

1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped

4 red potatoes, peeled and diced

4 boneless chicken thighs, cubed

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs curry powder

1 can tomato sauce ( you can substitute tomato soup if you don't have any)

1/2 cup water

1 Tbs canola oil


In a large skillet heat canola oil over medium heat, add peppers, eggplant, onion, potatoes and chicken. Fry with curry powder and salt until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water to make your gravy and let simmer for about an hour. Serve over rice or with naan. Serves 4-6 people. 

Good-bye cream-filled cupcakes

Good-bye cream-filled cupcakes. Hello, carrot sticks.

If you are what you eat, then today I'm a huge cream-filled lovely. 

In a last splurge before the real discipline of eating better, which here means less of everything, but most especially less dessert, I indulged last night in my all-time favorite junk food treat, the cream-filled chocolate cupcake. 

This morning, I smugly eat my oatmeal, yet secretly desire cake.  Jamie Oliver would be proud, sort of.

Really, all you gi-normous muffin eaters know that what you really, really want when you're eating that allegedly healthy berry-packed, sugar-crusted muffin is a giant slab of buttercream frosted cake.

You're transparent as glass; squeaky shiny clean Windexed glass at that.  Otherwise you'd be eating one of those shriveled up muffins made with applesauce instead of butter that tastes like a mouthful of cedar chip from the hamster cage.

Tell the truth now.

Do you really, really want a muffin?  Or do you really, realy want cake?

This oatmeal is a poor substitute, but surely my thighs will thank me for my perseverance later.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving happy day for the turkey

Move over big bird and make room for the sides.

Vegetarian dishes are stealing the spotlight for more than a few families who are choosing to eat meatless on Thanksgiving - just as they do every other day of the year. 

The NY Times' Tara Parker-Pope writes today about the health benefits of a birdless holiday meal in her Well column while reminding us too that creativity is limitless with a cornucopia of beautiful fresh vegetables.

Eat your veggies!

Cool Waters recipes thirst quenchers

If one of your resolutions for 2010 was to exercise more and be healthier, drinking more water is likely on your 'New You' to do list too.

Cool Waters by Brian Preston-Campbell, Jerry Errico

 Cool Waters: 50 Refreshing, Healthy, Homemade Thirst Quenchers by Brian Preston-Campbell offers 50 ways to infuse excitement into your drinking water, and the recipes are accompanied by thirst-inducing color photographs by Jerry Errico.

Published by the Harvard Common Press, the 96-page book of thirst-quenchers retails for $12.95 in hardcover.

Cool Waters is full to the brim with healthy, natural, and delicious ways to make ordinary water extraordinary.

Workout Fuel


Drink a few glasses of this before, during, and after a strenuous workout—its taste surpasses that of any bottled sports drink, and it has far fewer calories. Coconut water is a natural electrolyte-replacing rehydrator—exactly what you need from a sports drink. Other nutrients here are vitamin C, iron, and calcium. If you cannot find golden kiwis, use green.

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 golden kiwis, peeled
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or unsweetened canned coconut water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4 cups still water


  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, for about 1 minute.
  2. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher. Serve cold or at room temperature.

TIP: Don't confuse coconut water with coconut milk or cream of coconut. Canned coconut water can be found at many grocers and health-food stores.

The Republic of Tea serves dessert in a teacup

Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea I've heard there are people who don't like dessert.  I am not one of them.

The thought of ending a meal without something sweet makes me sad.  But then I remind myself that dark chocolate is chock full of anti-oxidants and no more blues.

When I heard The Republic of Tea was introducing a new dessert tea - specifically chocolate - I was ready to give it a taste test.

The Republic's Minister of Enlightenment was kind enough to send me the new Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea and a recipe for Chocolate Coconut Iced Latte.

The low caffeine dessert tea is an herbal blend of roasted carob, caramel malted barley, roasted chicory, dates, coconut flavor, cocoa powder and chocolate flavor. 

Since my only experience with barley is in soup and my acquaintance with chicory is limited to its use as a coffee substitute, I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the canister. 

A little research demonstrated that both barley and chicory are good, good, good for you as a brew. Barley is reported to aid digestion and ease congestion and bronchitis symptoms while chicory is said to cleanse the blood and improve the health of the liver.

Chocolate and coconut added to the mix could only be a bonus.

Opening the canister, I got a whiff of the wonderful pleasures to come.  The aromas of coconut and coconut were rich and dark, like a delicious cordial.

I put the kettle on and got the teapot ready.  My mother and I watched the kettle impatiently.  After rinsing the pot, we poured the hot water over two tea bags and waited for the tea to steep sufficiently.

The tea's color was a deep, nut brown and the aroma was lovely and tropical. I was happy just smelling my cup. 

Normally, I take milk and sugar in my tea, but since The Republic promised this tea was naturally sweet (and therefore a low calorie treat), I took my first indulgence without the usual suspects.  It is naturally sweet and could certainly be consumed without any addition.

But I am a creature of habit and nothing says tea cozy like a milky-sweet cup. I added my sweet addictions and finished the last drop.

My mother is a tea purist. She takes her tea with a teaspoon of sugar, no more, and no lemon, no milk. Nothing fancy for her. Black tea or green tea keeps it simple.  She found the coconut overwhelming. It was not her cup of tea.

Of course, I loved it. Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea lends itself to lingering after dinner and I'm pretty sure it would pair quite nicely with a mango mousse or pumpkin cheesecake.

Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea is packaged in a recyclable tin containing 36 unbleached, round tea bags free of unnecessary strings, tags and staples. Available now, the dessert tea has a suggested retail price of $9.50.

Also available from The Republic of Tea is Double Dark Chocolate Mate, an organic roasted yerba mate from Brazil generously dusted with all-natural dark organic cocoa powder. Available now, the dessert tea has a suggested retail price of $15 for a tin containing 36 unbleached round tea bags.

Chocolate Coconut Iced Latte

Yields one serving.


2 tea bags, Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea

6 ounces filtered water, heated to boiling

3 ounces milk or milk substitute

Sweetener, if preferred

Brew two tea bags in 6 ounces of filtered water for five minutes. Remove tea bags and allow tea to cool.

Add 3 ounces of milk or milk substitute. Blend milk and tea. Serve in a tall glass over crushed ice. Sweeten as desired.

Why are Americans so fat? Blame it on the 'burbs'

I am not a skinny person.  For most of my adult life, I've been roughly the same weight, give or take a few pounds. But I am rarely sick and am free of the problems - high blood pressure and out of control cholesterol - often associated with women and men my age.  

Never, ever do I follow diets shunning trans fats, carbohydrates or espousing high protein or whatever nonsense is currently the fad.

My weight is proportionate to my height and unlike many women, I love my body.

I eat what I want, choosing from all the food groups - including chocolate. Okay, I know chocolate is not a recognized food group, but my point is that all the wonderful, delicious foods we prepare with fresh and whole foods are meant to be enjoyed.

But they are meant to be enjoyed in moderation. It's not food that makes kids and adults fat; however, government continues to approach the problem of obesity as being primarily food-related.

In some states - New York among them - the schools are creating new policies to combat childhood obesity, which generally translates to adult obesity.  Among the strategies employed in New York City, where Board of Education studies indicate a shocking 40% of its students are obese, is the banning of bake sales as fundraisers.  

I wish state boards of education would show the same rigor and attention to their school lunch programs where meals are about what they were when I was a public school student  - not very nutritious with menus relying heavily on processed and refined foods.

Revamping school lunch programs would be costly and painful as progress often is, but paying the price now seems remarkably cheaper than paying the price later in skyrocketing health care costs. Obesity creates the kinds of health problems - from increased risk of heart disease  and diabetes to conditions affecting the joints and muscles - which only add to an already buirdened health care system.

Increasing physical activity in the schools - where many do not have adequate gymnasiums or physical education programs - is essential.  Although there are studies which indicate exercise is not necessarily going to make fat people thinner - for a variety of complicated reasons - exercise combined with conscious, moderate food intake is still the best insurance Americans have against their increasing girth.

Why are Americans so fat?  Studies indicate Americans are consuming only 100 calories more than they did 20 years ago and their fat intake has dropped by 8 percent from 42 to 34 percent. These studies infer that Americans should be healthier and trimmer rather than hugely overweight.

Blame it on the suburbs or car culture. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does, reporting "that years of uncontrolled suburban sprawl built around cars has left us unable to walk anywhere."  

I used to walk roughly and hour to an hour a half each day. This was a distinct part of my daily life as a city dweller. We did not have a car' so  getting about the city and all errands required lot6s of walking.  It was an ingrained part of my life and really my only organized exercise.

Our new community seems to support, in a strictly unscientific observation, the CDC's assertions. One of the first things I noticed about the NC community where my son and I are now living were the large numbers of overweight kids and adults.

No one walks any where.  If a conscious effort is not made to exercise, there is no reason to do more than walk to the car and roll. 

To complicate matters, there are groups like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance who rightly advocate for tolerance on issues of size and weight, but skew the issue by inferring disproportionate height and weight are reasonable and healthy. Obesity is not any more okay than an unnatural desire to be stick thin. 

Are some people incapable of controlling their weight? Absolutely. Americans need only look at their increasingly fat population for concrete evidence. Is it unhealthy? Yes.  Is it a waste of billions of dollars. Yes.

Americans spend more than $35 billion annually on weight loss products and still are losing the battle of the bulge.  There are no simple solutions to this growing problem of girth. For now the best answer is the oldest and the least appealing for most - the discipline to eat less and move more.

What's for dinner: Bison burgers

Square like Wendy's but a whole lot better for you

Last Saturday we got up early to make it to the Durham Farmers Market before all the sweet corn disappeared. We were well rewarded with beautiful plump kerneled ears.

Soooo sweet silver queen  Overall, the market offers a good selection of fresh produce, baked goods, organic eggs, poultry, meats and cheeses. Additionally, we have soap makers (goat's milk!) as well as chocolatiers (DollyMama, a playful take on the Dalai Lama, whose chocolates include the Buddha box), and artists and craftsmen selling everything from jewelry to stained glass baubles to handmade cards to pottery.

But the booth that we kept gravitating to was Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farms' bison meat.  You too can buy Rocky Mountain Oysters (ugh, no thanks) as my younger brother did or you can be more conservative (a term rarely applicable to me) and buy kabobs or burgers, roasts or stew meat.

Bison is pricey. The average price per pound for most cuts is between $7 and $10.  Organ meats are cheaper, starting at $3.  Prime cuts like steak as high as $20. 

My son, the 11-year-old epicure, was dying to try bison.  We bought kabobs (and unbeknownst to us, my older brother had already been shopping and bought burgers). Around five, we got a call to come over for Buff Burgers on the Barbie. So, we did.

Loading up the bison burger

Bison doesn't look that much different from ground beef, but is leaner and nutritionally superior according to some experts.

Sunset Ridge buffalos are grass-fed, and are not given growth hormones, low-level antibiotics, or animal by-products

According to the National Bison Association:

Research by Dr. M. Marchello at North Dakota State University has shown that the meat from Bison is a highly nutrient dense food because of the proportion of protein, fat, mineral, and fatty acids to its caloric value. Comparisons to other meat sources have also shown that Bison has a greater concentration of iron as well as some of the essential fatty acids necessary for human well being.

Moja Mix: make your own muesli giveaway

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.

Winnie the Pooh has the right idea. Breakfast should be exciting - not blah.

The creators of Moja Mix have set up a website where you can chase away the breakfast blues by customizing your own special breakfast mix guaranteed to put a smile on your mug.

The site is easy to navigate and offers thousands of possibilities. Choose from endless varieties of grains, nuts, and dried fruits or pick a pre-mixed cereal. 

Average cost is $9-10 for a 12-ounce custom mix.

Discount food shopping for damaged or discontinued products

Groceries ABC News reported today about the growing trend of salvage grocery stores, grocers where customers can get deals on damaged, dented and discontinued food products.  Some of these products are past or near their expiration dates.

It is a sad statement that the people of this country are reduced to buying damaged, dented and discontinued food products - past or near expiration - to feed their families.  If families are forced to buy cheap food just to fill the stomach, it's no wonder our health problems - obesity in particular - are rampant.

We need to reform more than just health care in this country. We need to teach our kids about the relationship of the farm and the land to our foods as well as how to prepare whole foods and how to eat better.  Further, we need to provide good food to all people, not just those whose wallets are fat enough to purchase organic and fresh.

I am apalled by salvage groceries on two counts.  One, it smacks of manufacturers profiting off the desperation of the poor and two, it continues to promote cheap, processed food and therefore poorer nutrition.

While there is no evidence the food is harmful, it's common knowledge (or should be) that badly dented cans could harbor the growth of botulism, serious food poisoning with the potential to cause death.

If the food is safe, then perhaps it could be put to better use by filling the shelves of food banks (but there's no profit in that for the manufacturers).  

The larger question we need to ask is where's the deal in perpetuating low quality food and poor food choices. The money we save now will surely come out of pocket later in poor health and higher medical bills.

Photo Credit: Daily Mail