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Archive for October, 2008

On Monday, I posted a giveaway for NuNaturalsNuStevia NoCarb Blend packets (stevia extract couched in erythritol, a sugar alcohol), and today I’m offering the same company’s originalWhite Stevia Powder packets.  If you’ve been looking for an alternative to frightening artificial sweeteners, look no further!  Stevia is perfect for most diabetics and hypoglycemics, as well as for those who simply want to keep their sugar intake low.

This stevia blend contains a minuscule amount of maltodextrin rather than erythritol — just enough to give the stevia some bulk.  It makes it much easier to pour or to use only 1/2 a packet.  I compared the NoCarb blend with this original blend by dipping my fingers in them, and it seems to me that this one may taste even better.  Keep in mind, though, that the amount used in a recipe is so small (only 4 packets in a batch of ice cream), this difference would be unnoticeable.  One packet of this blend contains 1 carbohydrate and zero calories.

I wrote about why I love NuNaturals NuStevia and why it’s so superior to SweetLeaf, Now, and other brands here, here, and here.  NuStevia doesn’t have that awful aftertaste that plagues other stevia.  With this powder, I can now sweeten ice cream 100% with stevia, as in this Strawberry Coconut confection:

I will be giving away 10 packets of this NuStevia to each of 3 winners.  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below.  The only requirements are a valid email address (so I can contact you if you win) and a shipping address within the contiguous USA.  I will perform a random drawing on Saturday, November 1st and contact the winners then.

To enter my other giveaways, go herefor Monday’s NuStevia NoCarbs Blend giveaway and here for Tuesday’s Lavender Herbal Tea giveway (in a beautiful satin pouch, no less!).  Also, don’t forget to visit Bloggy Giveaways Quartly Carnival for hundreds more giveaways.

Bonne chance!

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My mom's Christmas tree last year.

Until I started exploring farmers’ markets and the local food movement, I hardly ever gave a thought to eating foods that were in season.  Sure, I knew watermelons are only truly delicious in the summer and that my grandfather’s peaches (oh, those peaches!) only came once a year, but beyond that, I was lost.  I planned meals based on what I wanted to eat, not on what was fresh.

Shopping the farmers’ markets opened my eyes to eating with the seasons.  Sometimes I feel sad that such-and-such isn’t available, and sometimes that feeling is so overwhelming that I go to the store and buy it anyway.  As it turns out, though, there’s a lot of joy in waiting for a food I enjoy.  Not only do I experience that exquisite pleasure-pain of anticipation, the special food actually tastes better when it’s in season and has traveled fewer miles to reach my greedy paws. 

As I became more and more enthralled with eating seasonally last fall, I realized that I could carry this concept over into my holiday meal planning, whether I was shopping in the grocery store or the farmers’ markets.  It was my first year to host Christmas, so I had complete control of the menu.  And I made some changes.  Although green beans are traditional in my family, I switched them out for in-season broccoli.  I found the perfect recipe, Roasted Garlic-Parmigiano Broccoli, in the Thanksgiving issue of Food & Wine.  It was an enormous hit.  Just as the editors claim, the broccoli is addictive and slightly nutty tasting.  No one missed the green beans.

Next, I altered the fruit salad plans.  We love fruit salad with our holiday meal, and I didn’t want to delete it from the menu altogether.  But I knew I wanted something fresher than berries.  I opted for Bon Appetit‘s Citrus Salad with Ginger Yogurt.  Again, it couldn’t have been better!  It was strikingly beautiful, and the combination of blood oranges, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit with honey, cinnamon, and dried cranberries was perfect.  A topping of rich Greek yogurt with candied ginger rounded it out wonderfully.  I can’t wait to make this recipe again.  I hope to establish it as an Alison and J family tradition.

Finally, I selected a butternut squash soup for our first course.  Food & Wine’s Gingered Butternut Squash Soup with Spicy Pecan Cream opened our Christmas dinner on a delightful note and kept us talking about it for days.  My father-in-law was particularly enthralled with this dish.

As I plan for this year’s Christmas dinner, I will continue the seasonal foods theme.  All of the recipes I mentioned above are already on the menu, and I plan to do some more recipe hunting in the next few weeks.  I think that what I loved most about going seasonal with my holiday dinner, besides the awesomely fresh food, was the challenge.  I really enjoyed hunting up new recipes and brainstorming different ideas. 

To learn more about what’s in season when in your region, visit Sustainable Table for a list by state (USA).

What about you?  Have you ever given any thought to making your holiday meals seasonal, beyond serving pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce?  What are your tips and tricks?  Do you have a favorite seasonal recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner?

*This post is a part of Works-for-Me-Wednesday.  For more ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

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So I completed the liver/gallbladder flush a couple of weeks ago.  Can I just say M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E???  Good heavens, it was a disaster!!  For those of you asking about my results, I needed to distance myself from the trauma of the experience before I could write reasonably about it.  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.  But just a little.

Now, let me be clear.  I still stand behind my two posts (here and here) on the benefits of juice fasting.  I found the six day apple juice fast rewarding, though I don’t think I’ll do apple juice fasts again because the sugar is just too much.  I worried the whole time about my poor pancreas (I’m hypoglycemic).  I definitely plan on juice fasting in the future, but I will use low-sugar green vegetable juices like this one.

What traumatized me was not the fast but the liver/gallbladder flush that followed.  To see the protocol I observed, the one recommended by my doctor, go here.  Along with some prep work, it requires drinking four ounces of cold-pressed, extra virgin, organic olive oil followed by a small glass of fresh grapefruit juice immediately before lying down for bed.  I expected to experience some “mild to moderate nausea,” as the protocol warns is possible, but I felt fine when I went to sleep.  Wonderful!

Unfortunately, the nausea hit me at 3:30 a.m.  I woke up feeling so awful, I temporarily wanted to die. 

Anytime, Lord, I thought.  Take me now!

No, really, RIGHT NOW! 

It’s okay, I pleaded, My husband’s still young and attractive.  We don’t have any children.  He wouldn’t have any problems finding another wife.

Please????

The nausea persisted for hours, so I didn’t get any more sleep.  That means, of course, that the above dialogues with God continued for hours too.  At 5:00 a.m., I vomited several times.  Vomiting is never fun, but can I just say that regurgitating olive oil is particularly repulsive?  I then felt absolutely miserable for hours afterwards.  Furthermore, I never experienced any, ahem, results from taking the Epsom salts (laxative), and I never had the bile-green, ahem, evacuation that is supposed to follow this protocol.  Talk about frustrating!!

I was incensed the next day.  Absolutely livid.  I’m okay with misery if I get results, but seeing no results at all?  So disappointing!  I called my pro-liver flush friend and complained (nicely, of course).  She said it was the protocol I followed.  Her doctor recommends a slightly different one.  I said that unless I was on death’s door, I wouldn’t be doing any liver flush again.  Maybe I’ll change my mind someday, but this is how I feel right now.

I do think it’s important to mention that my husband didn’t have any of these problems.  Everything went fine for him.  He even had those little green “stones” the next day.  (I think that, for most people, the “stones” are not gall stones at all but that the flush still really helps people.  For more on this, go here.  Some people do pass real stones, as evidenced by their pre- and post-flush x-rays, but not everyone.  I think the question of whether or not they’re actual gall stones is a peripheral issue.)

So maybe it’s just me.  Perhaps this is not the appropriate cleanse for my body.  I’m tempted to say I’m sorry I did it.  If I had written this post last week, I would have said that.  Now, I’m glad that I at least gave it a try.  I like to work with my healthcare professionals in a highly cooperative way for a specified period of time.  I do exactly what they say for a while, and then I evaluate what parts of their approach work for me and what parts don’t.  I think the liver flush part of this doctor’s approach doesn’t work for me.  Fortunately, this MD/ND has helped me in other ways. 

That’s my story.  I know this flush has helped thousands of other people.  My case is probably highly unusual.  I realize that.  I have lots of unusual reactions to drugs, foods, exercise, herbs, and other health-related things.  If there’s a 5% chance of something happening, I seem almost always to be in that 5%.  So make your own decision about doing a liver flush, always keeping your doctor’s recommendations and your knowledge of your own body in mind.

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For my second giveaway this week, I’m thrilled to offer the tea I reviewed the other day as a prize to one lucky winner.  Penny Lane Boutique has generously donated a beautiful saint pouch containing six hand-crafted bags of their signature Lavendar Herbal Blend Tea.  Composed of lavender, hibiscus, peppermint, rosehips, and orange peel, it makes a perfect, soothing evening treat.

Win it for yourself or save it as a gift for a special someone.

To enter, visit Penny Lane Boutique, browse the offerings (they range from SLS-free soaps and body washes, to natural lotions and mists, to candles and adorable tea cozies), and leave a comment below this post with the item that most tickles your fancy (and believe me, it’s hard to pick!).  I will randomly draw a winner for the herbal tea on Saturday, November 1st.  You must have a shipping address within the contiguous USA to be eligible for the drawing, and you must also use a valid email address when leaving a comment so that I can contact you if you win.

If you have not already done so, check out yesterday’s giveaway too.  I’m mailing 3 winners samples of NuNaturals NuStevia, the best stevia I’ve ever tasted.  And for many, many more giveaways, visit Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival.

Best wishes!

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I mentioned a while back that, after I raved about NuNaturals stevia on my blog, the company sent me a bunch of their products to test and review.  I want to share the ones I love with you, and now’s the perfect opportunity!  Boggy Giveaways is hosting a massive giveaway carnival this week, so I thought I’d join in the fun.

First up this week is NuNaturals NuStevia NoCarbs Blend packets.  This was the first NuNaturals product I tried, and I can’t get enough!  Unlike Sweetleaf, Now, and other common brands of stevia, this one tastes so good I can sweeten entire recipes with it.  Before, I could replace only half the sugar with stevia without becoming overwhelmed by the aftertaste.  I would never have attempted this sugar-free Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream (which is dairy free too), this fabulous sugar-free Cheesecake Ice Cream, or my Teeccino Frappuccino.

True, even this stevia doesn’t provide that wonderful caramelly, deep, round sweetness of Sucanat and Rapadura (unrefined sugars), but it’s still awfully delicious.  For diabetics and hypoglycemis, as well as for those who simply want to keep their insulin levels low by keeping sugar intake low, this product is a life saver.  If you’ve tried stevia before and couldn’t handle the strange taste, give NuNaturals a chance.  And if you win my giveaway, you can do that for free!

The NuStevia NoCarbs Blend is a combination of stevia extract (stevia is a sweet-tasting herb), the sugar alcohol erythritol (included to make measuring easier), and extracts of the periwinkle plant (listed as “natural flavors” on the package).

I will give away 12 packets (that’s enough for 3 to 4 batches of either of the ice cream recipes I mentioned above) to each of 3 randomly selected winners.  To enter the giveaway, post a comment here.  To get another chance at winning, provide a link to this giveaway on your blog, then post a second comment here with the link to your mention of my giveaway.  You must have a mailing address in the contiguous USA to be eligible, and you must also provide a valid email address when posting your comment.  I will randomly select a winner on Saturday, November 1.   I will announce the winners in a blog post and also contact each winner by email.  

Good luck!

[Update 10/29: I now have a second NuStevia giveaway going, this time for NuNaturals original stevia packets.  Check it out here.  Don’t worry, you can enter both drawings for more chances to win!]

And don’t forget to drop by the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival for opportunities to win all kinds of other goodies.

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Menu Plan Monday, October 27

I’m excited about my menu this week because I’ll be revisiting some old favorites, like the Orange Cilantro Vinaigrette (over a green salad with avocados, oranges, and red onion) and Lentil and Egg Cups, and also trying a couple of new dishes, the curried cauliflower and the Indian-style cabbage scheduled for Tuesday.  Mmmmm.  It’s been a while since I’ve done much experimenting with new recipes.  School has consumed me so much that I don’t have leftover energy for trying new things.  Hopefully that’s behind me now.  Midterms are over, and I feel as though I’m on the downhill slope.  I only have 6 week to go until my last final.  Ever.  Well, unless I end up in grad school.  But that won’t be right away!  I need a break.

I’ll definitely be blogging this week.  Keep a lookout for some giveaways and, for those of you who are interested, my results from the liver/gallbladder flush.

Snacks all week: apples, Sunbutter, raw milk, raw veggies, and soaked, dehydrated pumpkin seeds

Monday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with onion and broccoli
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner (entertaining guests): Easy Tortilla Soup; green salad with sliced avocados, oranges, and red onions, dressed in Orange Cilantro Vinaigrette; 5 Minute Salsa, black bean dip, organic corn chips, and cut raw veggies; Pamela’s GF brownies and sugar-free Cheesecake Ice Cream (sweetened with stevia)

Tuesday
Breakfast: low-glycemic smoothie
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Indian Roasted Chicken, Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Tomatoes, Five-Minute Indian-style Cabbage

Wednesday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with veggies
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: leftovers

Thursday
Breakfast: low-glycemic smoothie
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Lentil and Egg Cups (made with red lentils this time)

Friday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with veggies
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: going to a friend’s home

Saturday
Breakfast: low-glycemic smoothie
Lunch: out to lunch with Dad
Dinner: Chicken Caruso (I’ll eat mine over hemp seeds, J over rice)

Sunday
Breakfast: low-glycemic smoothie
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: ???

For more menu plans, visit The Organizing Junkie.

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Herbal Tea Review

A couple of weeks ago, Penny of Penny Lane Boutique contacted me about a review of her custom herbal tea blend.  I promptly visited her site, and it just about charmed my socks off!  Penny hand crafts natural skin care products like gentle bar soaps, soothing lotions, body wash (no sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate!), and mists.  Many products contain essential oils, and some are custom designed for babies.  Penny Lane Boutique also offers quality hand made candles and tea accessories.  I found the tea bag carriers and tea cozies particularly irresistible!

Larger Image

Seriously, how cute is that?

After receiving the tea sample last week, my husband and I brewed a cup to share.  The Lavender Herbal Blend Tea proved delicious.  A delicate concoction of lavender, hibiscus, lemongrass, peppermint, rosehips, and orange peel, it struck both of us as soothing and calming — perfect for the end of the day.  We enjoyed the floral quality and found the flavors well balanced.  I am not usually an enormous fan of lavender, but I really enjoyed it in this combination. 

If you’re hunting for Christmas gifts, as I am, this would be a great choice, particularly as a stocking stuffer.  (To my family: pretend you never saw this post and act surprised and delighted when investigating your stockings at Christmas.)

To buy some of this tea yourself, or to investigate Penny’s other quality offerings, toddle over to Penny Lane Boutique for a little look-see.

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