Kitchen Shrink: Happy, Healthy Foodie New Year!

• KITCHEN SHRINK:

Let’s all put on a pair of rose-colored glasses as the 2015 arrow points to positive trends for a healthier, happier lifestyle for all. Organic farms are sprouting like wild mushrooms, environmental kindred spirits are joining hands to push government into implementing toxic-free food policies, and grassroots consumer groups are advocating for a sustainable future.

Here’s my contribution to help put you and your family on a path to wellness (and moderation) in the coming year and always.

• The dirty baker’s dozen: Fresh fruits and vegetables have a load of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healing properties. But beware, 13 or so crops are exceptionally heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides that can be particularly harmful to children.

Best to buy organic with these notorious offenders, so look for the “9” on the sticker — the symbol for organically grown produce — before tossing them in your shopping cart, along with products made or extracted from this dirty baker’s dozen:

1) Apples, including applesauce, apple juice and cider

2) Strawberries, whether fresh or frozen, along with jams and preserves

3) Grapes, grape juice, raisins and wine

4) Celery

5) Peaches, and watch out for juice and preserves

6) Spinach, including canned, fresh or frozen

7) Bell peppers, whether green, red, yellow or orange (also avoid pimentos in olives, unless organic)

8) Nectarines

9) Cucumbers, and don’t forget pickles

10) Tomatoes, whether fresh, canned, in sauces, soups and ketchup

11) Snap peas, fresh and frozen

12) Potatoes

13) Blueberries, best not only organic, but wild

• The Clean 15: Here are conventionally grown crops with relatively low pesticide loads, mostly because of protective rinds. (Cook’s tip: Wash these thoroughly in a cold bath of Castile soap and rinse well.)

1) Avocadoes

2) Onions

3) Pineapples

4) Asparagus

5) Sweet peas (preferably frozen)

6) Watermelon

7) Cabbage

8) Mangoes

9) Papayas

10) Kiwi

11) Cauliflower

12) Grapefruit

13) Cantaloupe (U.S. farms)

14) Eggplant

15) Sweet potatoes

• The cave dweller’s dilemma: When Dr. Atkins meets Fred Flintstone, we have the Paleo diet, which hopefully will peter out soon. Make this year one of balance and moderation, since an overload of land animal protein will clobber the liver.

• Go gluten: Gluten, the protein found in certain grains and their hybrids (including wheat, rye and barley) is the enemy for those suffering from Celiac Disease, now tallied at 1 in 133 or 3 million in this country.

For others suffering from gluten sensitivities, while there is no health risk to consuming the protein, they avoid the nasty discomforts by removing gluten from their diets. For the rest of us going gluten-free, the diet has a fad component (unless you need to lose weight), and if you don’t have to cut out the pastas, breads, pizzas, even oatmeal and other delicious and fiber-rich gluten foods, then why cheat yourself?

• Intelligent Indulgence: You can indulge when the craving strikes, just control the frequency, size and the quality of the treat. If you have a sweet tooth, whip up some wholesome homemade goodies with organic flour, honey or sucanat, bittersweet chocolate, dried fruits and nuts, especially heart-healthy walnuts, almonds and pecans, oats and seeds, such as, sesame, pumpkin and flax.

• Moderation not deprivation: Follow these three tips for eating sensibly without feeling deprived:

1) Chew on that: A crunchy celery stick filled with almond butter, raw cauliflower florets or red pepper strips dipped in spicy hummus, or a hearty oatmeal granola bar satisfies the palate and gives the jaw a good work-out

2) Choose savory over sugary munchies

3) Hidden fats and calories lurk in condiments, so do spicy mustard or a silky avocado spread instead of mayo, and chunky salsas rather than creamy dressings and sugar-laden ketchup.

RECIPE: Homemade Herbed Applesauce

Ingredients:

• 3 pounds apples (your choice), cored, quartered

• 2.5 tablespoons brown sugar, honey, sucanat or maple syrup

• Half cup apple cider or juice

• Juice from half Meyer lemon

• Dash of sea salt

• 1 fresh sprig each of rosemary, thyme and sage

Method: Combine ingredients in a large pot. Simmer, partially covered for about 30 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove sprigs. Mash by hand or in a food processor for desired consistency. Refrigerate in mason jars.

For additional wellness recipes, e-mail kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

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