Category Archives: Food-Drinks-Smoothies

This and That…

There’s so much going on these days in my personal life so I haven’t been posting lately. However, I AM reading your blogs here at WordPress, and I AM keeping up with events. So know that if I am not commenting in your great posts, I am still reading your great content, my friends. Here’s are a few of my thoughts on current events…
RACIAL ENTITLEMENT – Really, Justice Scalia? Have you gone mad? Even two other justices called you out on your gross, disgusting statement which leads me to believe Section 5 of the Voter Rights Act will not be struck down, and you were simply being your disgusting self. It’s a sad day to see the Republican Party has installed men like you who are neither for justice, equality or this nation. Melissa Harris Perry takes aim at Scalia…

ASPARTAME IN MILK WITHOUT A LABEL? Big Dairy Petitions FDA For Approval – No one in their right mind would willingly use aspartame. It has been linked to all sorts of disease and illness. Yet, big dairy is trying to shove this down our throats without warning. This is a good reason to eliminate milk from your diet.

Crazy Pro-Gun Republicans Claim Obama is Raising Private Black Army to Massacre Whites – So how does an African, socialist, marxist, communist, alien (yes, some idiots believe Obama is from another planet!) convince blacks to create a private army? Word to these racists: blacks represent 13% of this country and don’t arm themselves on the order that paranoid whites do. Too bad the GOP is blocking social programs. We need massive mental facilities and rehab for these nuts.


(Note: While my friend talks of burning it all down, I understand him to mean the system is broken, immoral and needs to be torn apart. I fully agree. I believe the only solution is a revolution at this point. ~Marion)
Piranha cover-up in South Carolina. The people of South Carolina are just now learning about the piranha in their waters. Ignorant, irresponsible fools who dump unwanted deadly fish, reptiles, animals chemicals and the kitchen sink into the environment are responsible for this.
“In this film you’ll discover that many of the drug side effects may actually make ‘mental illness’ worse. Psychiatric drugs can induce aggression or depression. Some psychotropic drugs prescribed to children are more addictive than cocaine. Psychiatric diagnoses appears to be based on dubious science. Of the 297 mental disorders contained with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, none can be objectively measured by pathological tests.

Mental illness symptoms within this manual are arbitrarily assigned by a subjective voting system in a psychiatric panel. It is estimated that 100 million people globally use psychotropic drugs. [That’s 1/3 of the population!

The Marketing of Madness exposes the real insanity in our psychiatric ‘health care’ system: profit-driven drug marketing at the expense of human rights.

This film plunges into an industry corrupted by corporate greed and delivers a shocking warning from courageous experts who value public health over dollar.

I close with this beautiful story…
Video Overnight Thread- Man reunited with gorilla he raised as a baby


10 Reasons to Buy Your Fruits & Veggies at Your Local Farmer’s Market

By Dr. Edward Group for Wake Up World

Which of these two scenarios sounds more vibrant for overall quality of life and health?

The wind on your face, the sun on your skin, you talk with a local farmer about the size and taste of this year’s harvest of peaches, as you pop a slice in your mouth. After tasting several different varieties, you choose your favorite one, walking away with a great memory of the farmer in your mind.


You stand shivering in the freezer section at your local mega-mart, your eyes begin to glaze over from the halogen lights and the neon-colored cardboard boxes containing substances claimed to be food products? You decide on the one with the least amount of additives and make your way to the self-check-out line, excited to get in your car and out of the supermarket.

Clearly, most of us would agree that the first scenario, at the local farmer’s market, is much more appealing than a trip to a big chain grocery store. But what, besides the aesthetic factor, are some of the other benefits of supporting your local farmers market? Here are ten reasons why I believe you should shop at your local farmers market.

1. Buying Locally
Buying from your local farmer allows you to support local agriculture. This means that the food you are eating comes from nearby, and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food half-way around the world. You are eating food in your own environment, where it has perfectly-created nutrients for your specific climate and region. You are also supporting the environment by reducing the usage of fossil fuels.

2. Cheaper Organic Fruits & Veggies
You can find a variety of fresh, organic produce at more affordable prices than in a supermarket. There are also many farmers that carry products that are not technically “organic,” (as this is a costly and often beurocratic-heavy process), but have many low-priced foods that are pesticide and herbicide free. The advantage at a farmers market is that you can actually talk to the farmer, learn about their methods, and then decide for yourself and in most cases they will allow you to come and visit their farm.

3. Supporting Your Local Economy & Farmers
You are supporting human beings and the local economy, not massive agribusiness GMO food conglomerates.

Not only will your money be staying in your area, but you will happily please the farmer that worked to grow that food. Your belly will remember the farmer’s smile as they handed you that juicy peach.

4. Eat Seasonally
By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh and ripe. This is another great way to increase your overall health. Supermarkets offer too much variety and the food is picked before it has ripened decreasing the vitality. The body does not need to be eating imported pineapple in the dead of a Montana winter!

5. Safer Foods
Food from your local farmers market is generally safer. Remember the recent outbreaks of E. coli in bagged spinach? These things happen mostly in large industrial settings, where business-men work to mass produce food, preserve it and bag it in mass amounts.

6. Fresher Fruits & Veggies
The food from your local farmers market is, quite frankly, fresher. Because it was grown locally, there is a good chance that the apple you buy from the farmer was picked a few days ago. This is virtually impossible in a big supermarket.

7. Great Variety
There is usually an amazing variety of fruits and veggies at your local farmers market. Each farmer may have his own method for growing tomatoes or peppers. This is something that never happens at a grocery store.

8. Better Taste
There is no doubt that locally-grown foods just simply taste better. You will never be able to eat a carrot from the grocery store again!

9. It’s Healthy!
There’s just no way around it, eating fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies are great for your health.

Buy yourself some local honey, which is sold at most local farmer markets. It has just the right components for allergy prevention in your neck of the woods, not to mention it’s tasty!

10. Most Importantly — It’s Fun!
We stated it in the beginning, but farmers markets are just plain fun for the whole family. Meeting your local community is an excellent way to feel connected to the world around you, increasing health for body, mind and spirit.

Or Just Start Your Own Organic Garden
An even better solution would be to grow your own food by creating an organic garden in your yard or even on your balcony. Of course, this will take extra time and money, which a lot of us seem to lack these days.

Find a Farmers’ Market near you

The USDA directory is available at

How to Make Your Baking Healthy


I grew up surrounded by African American cooks who prepared some of the most wonderful Southern desserts and meals that would make your mouth water and cause a 5 pound gain just smelling it baking or on the stove. Thank goodness I was an active child or that chubbiness would have resulted in obesity early on. Like many of you, unhealthy cooking habits learned from loving family members stay with us until we become sick or cannot get the weight off.

Having enjoyed physical activity and dancing all my life, I had always been able to keep the weight under control…until I began working long hours into the night and relied on fast foods and restaurants for my meals. Coming home after dark discouraged me from my usual exercise. And the meals were not providing me with the nutrients for energy and health.

Five years ago I came down with a bacterial infection that almost did me in. Having been away on a trip for a week, my husband found me half dead, unable to reach the phone for help. The infection was riddled throughout my body and close to the brain. After weeks in the hospital, I went home with bags of medications, including antibiotics and morphine for pain. I was told my organs were probably affected and I would have escalating health issues for the rest of my life. It was necessary to stay on the meds and close to my doctor. That’s what I was told.

While I believe meds have a place on a short term basis, I avoid them. With this diagnosis, I was really scared. I began my research on the particular infection I had, looking for natural remedies…and how to avoid a recurrence. Down the rabbit hole I went. What I learned floored me: almost everything I ate and put in my body was leading me to disease and death! While I will write future articles on on this, today I will share substitute ways to make your baking and cooking healthy. Oh, and my health today? I have more energy and feel healthier than ever at 62. I take no prescribed or over-the counter medications. ♥
From Christine Frazier, No Meat Athlete…

Problem #1: The recipe calls for butter, margarine, or shortening

STF fix: Butter is a fat. Therefore, the easiest substitution for it is another kind of fat. I sub in canola oil one-to-one for butter with great success. This will work in baked quick breads, but not something like buttercream. Canola oil is relatively inexpensive and a good source of omega-6′s. Walnut oil and almond oil also work great in desserts by adding a nice nutty (duh) flavor, though they are more expensive. Coconut oil is excellent with its light tropical flair and can be helpful when you are looking for the “structure” of unmelted butter. It works well in pie crusts and cookies. [I prefer coconut oil ~ Marion]

For any of these options, add a pinch of salt [sea salt!] for every half cup of butter you swap out. You can trick your tongue into experiencing a buttery flavor with the hint of saltiness.
Problem #2: The recipe calls for way too much fat

STF fix: Taking down the fat a notch (bam?) is half the fun of healthy baking! Why? Because there are just so many alternatives to choose from! Start by just replacing half the amount of fat with an equal amount of any of these options:

  • Fruit purees like unsweetened applesauce, canned crushed pineapple, or mashed bananas. Use an old banana for sweetness and banana-y flavor, a green banana for all the nutrition without competing flavors.
  • Vegetable purees like sweet potato, cauliflower, or canned pumpkin. Also try shredded veggies, like the familiar carrots or zucchini. Though technically a fruit, don’t forget about mashed avocado! Save the darker veggies like spinach puree to combine with chocolate desserts or with a darker fruit like blueberries.

  • Beans, my personal favorite option. Beans add protein and structure to a recipe and, when pureed, go completely unnoticed! Try great northern beans or pinto beans for a neutral taste, and chickpeas for a slightly nuttier taste. Use black beans and adzuki beans in recipes that call for cocoa or chocolate.
  • Nut butters, like peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini. Cashew butter has a particular neutral creamy taste. These also pack in some extra protein.

Problem #3: The recipe calls for eggs

STF fix: If you don’t want to use eggs in your baking there are again many options. An egg is 2 ounces of thick liquid, so it is best substituted with 2 oz of another thick liquid. Try any of the above fruit, veggie, bean, or nut butter substitutions listed for subbing out fats.

There are also “flax eggs” which are made by combining 2 teaspoons of ground flax seed with 2 ounces of warm water. Stir and set aside until the consistency has thickened. Flax eggs do well binding ingredients together. There are also egg replacers you can buy, like Ener-G brand. This is mainly potato starch and leavening. It works well in lighter, more traditional cake recipes. If you are worried about your baked goodies rising, add a pinch of baking powder for each egg replaced.
Problem #4: The recipe calls for dairy

STF fix: Yes, there is always soy milk to substitute one-for-one for cow’s milk, but haven’t you already met your tofu quota for this week? Try out almond milk, hemp milk, or coconut milk.

Don’t forget that any time there is a liquid, you have a chance to add flavor. Try these alternative milks brewed with coffee in a chocolate recipe, chai tea for spice muffins, or mixed with Guinness for gingerbread! You can also mix the milks with fruit juices like apple or orange juice for added sweetness.
Problem #5: The recipe calls for all-purpose white flour.

STF fix: I use whole-wheat pastry flour one-to-one for all-purpose without any problems. But there is a world of flours outside of wheat! Try out an ancient grain like teff or spelt for extra protein. Go international with gram flour or grind your own chickpeas or fava beans into flour. One of my favorites is oat flour; it only takes a second to go from rolled or steel cut oats to oat flour with the food processor. Try replacing 1/4 cup of the flour with ground flax seed too. Mixing and matching these flours will help it stay more flavor-neutral in the recipe.
Problem #6: The recipe calls for way too much white sugar.

STF fix: A lot of times you can just go ahead and lower the sugar amount by a quarter of whatever is called for and you won’t notice a thing. There are several unrefined sugars on the market like raw sugar, demerara sugar, and sucanat. Sucanat stands for sugar cane natural, and is just the dehydrated cane juice. These unrefined sugars retain the mineral in the sugar cane plant. However, there’s not a ton of nutritional value in this plant so the main point of using these kinds of sugars is just to avoid all the processing and bleaching.

There are also classic liquid sweeteners like maple syrup and honey which give a warmer flavor to a recipe. If you use molasses, do so with an easy hand or use only a couple tablespoons to supplement another sweetener. Blackstrap molasses is especially overpowering.

Agave nectar is my personal favorite because it has a lower glycemic index. It’s also 25% sweeter than sugar, so you can use less. Any time you use a liquid sweetener, cut back a little on the other liquid ingredients by about 1/4 cup to compensate. There is also stevia extract, which frankly I don’t know much about yet. [See my post all about stevia] I’ve only tasted it in Tropicana’s Trop50; it was very good but did have a slight aftertaste. [Actually, I PREFER stevia and found the perfect brand ~ Marion] I don’t recommend Splenda or other synthetic sweeteners. They just don’t seem like real food to me. [From what I have learned, Splenda, Sweet N’ Low and other artificial sweeteners are dangerous, causing cancer, autoimmune disorders and other diseases ~ Marion]

So those are the six main problem areas in a recipe. Finally, I want to highlight some “distracters” to help disguise unusual tastes and textures. Cocoa or baking chocolate does a great job covering the taste of bean and veggie purees as well as the color. Peanut butter is good for totally drowning out any mystery flavor competition. Liqueurs and extracts also cover up flavors nicely; try some creme de menthe or amaretto. Lemon zest adds a nice fresh citrus note to baked goods and, while it doesn’t cover anything up, it does add dimension to a sometimes flat flavor spectrum. Finally nuts and dried fruits vary the texture of a baked good—this is especially helpful when you are using pureed beans to help distract from the inevitable mystery lump.

Ok, that just about covers what I’ve picked up during my run so far as the NMA’s resident healthy baker. Remember, there are a lot of strategies here; start off just using one or two new elements at a time in your recipes. One of the keys to substitutions is keeping the ratios of the original recipe the same regarding liquid to liquid and dry to dry ingredients. Just keep tasting as you go and trust your instincts—you know what you like.


My final thoughts…

Your health is your wealth. The body requires fuel to function. If it is provided with refined, artificial, chemically-laden ingredients, it cannot function well for very long. Loving ourselves and our families starts with loving our bodies. It all begins with what goes in it. ~ Marion ♥

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Stevia…sugar substitute

By Christine Frazier, No Meat Athlete

Is Stevia Safe?

After a not-so-great first experience with stevia and pumpkin, I vowed to do some more research on stevia to get it right! I didn’t just find out about cooking with stevia, I also learned about the crazy controversies surrounding the sweetener.

The sweet leaves of the stevia plant are originally from South America, and have been sweetening Yerba Mate in Paraguay for centuries. Japan has been using stevia as a sweetener since the 70′s and now it makes up 40% of all sweeteners used. So how come it’s 2009 and stevia is just showing up at my grocery store?

Stevia had quite the journey coming here: there were a handful of very dated and poorly executed studies on stevia that showed dangerous results, which scared the FDA and fueled sugar lobbyists. Two of these old studies found stevia to be a contraceptive. The data methods have been seriously questioned and the results have never been able to be reproduced (ha!) since. One study from 1985 made it seem that very high doses of stevia were mutagenic in rats. It has been shown now that the data was handled incorrectly- even water would appear mutagenic — but in 1991 the FDA decided that stevia was an unsafe food additive.

There was a lot of fuss about the FDA’s ruling because it was made on the idea that stevia hadn’t been proven safe. This contradicts the FDA policy to rule unfavorably only if a food has been proven unsafe. The ruling also conflicted with trade laws, and in 1995 the decision was reversed and stevia was allowed as a “dietary supplement” but not a “food additive.”

What does this distinction mean? It says that stevia is safe to include into a food because of its health benefits, but cannot officially be listed as a “sweetener.” Silly, right?

In 2006 the World Health Organization declared that stevia is safe. Just last year in 2008 the FDA finally decided that Rebiana, one extracted part of stevia, is generally regarded as safe. For some reason, they haven’t ok’d the entire leaf yet. Rebiana is the main ingredient in Truvia, owned by Coca-Cola, and PureVia, owned by Pepsi. My impression is that when the two big sweetener-guzzling companies got interested in stevia, their influence overpowered the aspartame and sugar lobbyists’ impact on the FDA.

So now that stevia is here, what good is it? Well for starters, our bodies don’t metabolize the glycosides, so we can enjoy the sweetness calorie-free. I feel much better about eating a natural no-calorie sweetener than a synthetic one. Stevia also doesn’t effect glucose levels, which makes it safe for diabetics. It doesn’t cause cavities in teeth, either.

As for baking, stevia is heat stable so it won’t break down like synthetic sweeteners under high heat, and it also can handle being frozen. Because of this, it doesn’t caramelize so it is unsuitable for, well, making caramel, and also things like meringue where you would need the sugar to brown. Stevia can’t ferment either- sometimes in bread recipes you’ll see sugar being used to feed the yeast. With stevia the bread will not rise as much.

Stevia as a substitute

When substituting with stevia, it’s important to compensate not just for sweetness but also for bulk. You only need to use about 1/2 a teaspoon of stevia extract for 1 cup of sugar, so you need to make up for that loss. But remember that sugar melts in the oven, so for every cup of sugar you take out, you only need 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of filler. Refer back to my post on healthier baking to find some great replacements; pumpkin, mashed bananas and applesauce all work well.

Stevia extracts aren’t standardized yet, so the strength of different brands will differ. Start with a very small amount like an 1/8 teaspoon and taste as you go. Stevia can very quickly have a bitter aftertaste. Try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup to “warm up” the taste.

Vegan Orange-Currant Brunch Cake


My thoughts…

Not all stevia brands are created equal. I’ve tried many of them and have been very disappointed with the bitter aftertaste left by these brands. I fell in love with KAL brand in the image above. It tastes sweet, with no aftertaste.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two of the major food corporations I avoid buying from because of their harm to the land and people here and in other countries. As a responsible consumer, I do my best to buy from corporations and businesses that do no harm, or as little as possible.

That said, the reason to avoid artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame has proven to be carcinogenic and induce disease. It is well documented on the web, and I encourage you to read up on it if you’re unsure. The same with refined, white sugar. Avoid it like the plague.

There are other sugar substitutes for your baking, cooking and drinks. You can read about them here. ~ Marion ♥

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Recipe – Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup

Via Mother Earth Living…

One of the things I love about the cooking of rural Italy is its simplicity: a humble dish of pasta with tomato and herb sauce, a plain loaf of bread, a rustic wine. The cook is not required to rummage through pantries or multiple grocery stores and ethnic markets to find ingredients. Often she may look no further than her own garden or local farmers’ market. This simple soup employs just a handful of ingredients, but yields wonderfully flavorful results. Purée the beans or eat them whole, as you wish.  Perfect for a cold day. Serve with bread.

Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup
(slow cooker method)

2 cups dried white beans such as great northern or cannellini
6 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Salt, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, for garnish

1. Rinse beans thoroughly and place them in a 7-quart slow cooker along with water, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until beans are tender.

2. Remove bay leaf. Using a handheld immersion blender, purée slow cooker contents to desired texture. Add salt to taste.

3. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

This is the low calorie version. If you want the heavier version with cream, try this one…

Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup
(stove top method)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 sage leaf
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 slices ciabatta bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and beans and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic and simmer until the garlic is softened, about 10 minutes.

Pour the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Be careful to hold the top of the blender tightly, as hot liquids expand when they are blended. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pan. Puree the remaining soup. Once all the soup is blended and back in the soup pan, add the cream and the pepper Keep warm, covered, over very low heat.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the slices of ciabatta bread with extra-virgin olive oil. Grill the bread until warm and golden grill marks appear, about 3 minutes a side. Serve the soup in bowls with the grilled bread alongside.

Time:  20 min
Prep:   10 min
Cook:  10 min
Yield: 4 to 6 servings (8 cups)
Level: Easy


Additional note from The Responsible Consumer:
Tantalizing, healthy, budget-wise … and easily converted to a vegan and gluten-free dish by substituting Earth Balance for butter, gluten-free veggi broth for chicken broth, and homemade or store-bought gluten-free bread. Most economical: prepare your own beans. Fastest: use canned. Either way, Yum! 🙂

.  .  .

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons…


Most mornings I start with a glass of hot or warm water with the juice of a whole lemon. Because it’s too tart for me, I usually add a little Stevia to cut the tartness. I follow with breakfast within 30 minutes. This method is great for weight loss if that’s on your agenda. All the other benefits apply. Lemons are a win-win-win!



Feel better in 7 days!


It’s that time of year when we declare a fresh start and promise to do better in areas of health, personal development, career, family and more. After indulging during the holidays, many of us have gained a few pounds that we could not afford. Of course, the diet industry loves that and this is the time to promote their products and increase their bottom line.
Experts will tell us the best way to lose weight is eat better quality food, eat less and exercise. Simple. And guess what? We would actually SAVE money by doing this. Here’s a great 7-Day Plan I have used in the past with great success. You will feel better, lose weight, save money and you can do this twice per month. Ready?

Source: Better Nutrition
The 7-Day Plan is a healthy, nutritious quick start to motivate you. It works because it triggers your body to burn fat and uses herbs and water-rich foods that are natural diuretics. Complete instructions are at the link. If you suffer from any medical conditions, be sure to check with your doctor before starting this Plan.



Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pecan Vinaigrette

I rarely eat brussel sprouts, but will be trying this one soon. I’m heading out shopping this weekend and will be making this dish and the Snowy Nutballs. Yum!!

Things My Belly Likes

Just a week into December and here’s another Christmas recipe (the first was nutty snowballs, in case you weren’t paying attention).

View original post 341 more words

Mango Banana Blueberry Swiss Chard Smoothie

Fall is here and I’m busy cutting back bushes, prickly pear cactus and preparing the soil for next Spring’s garden. The weather is cooling, but 85 degrees in the shade still works me into a sweat and I want something cool. No sodas for me and I’m not ready for a hot meal. Yet, my body craves nutrition and this smoothie hits the spot. I grow Swiss Chard and it packs nutrition as much or even more so than spinach. Ginger gives the drink a kick, and the Stevia takes the edge off any bitter taste. Used in this recipe, you don’t taste the greens, but have a sweet taste left in your mouth!

Mango Banana Blueberry Swiss Chard Smoothie

1 cup water (add Stevia and Ginger with the water)
1 Mango, medium, cubed
1 Banana
1 cup Blueberries
1 cup Swiss Chard, leaves cleaned, torn
1/2 tsp Ginger
Stevia, to taste (a pinch will do)

Add ingredients to blender in this order. Blend on high 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your blender.

Serve and enjoy!