Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thank You.

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We’ve reached & exceeded goal!! Thank you! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! The kind words, support, pep-talks, and enthusiasm you’ve all shared with me over the past 30 days has been completely amazing. You’ve helped me fund something that I wasn’t entirely sure was possible. You proved my uncertainty wrong. ūüôā

Every step of the way I will be thinking of those we’ve lost, those living (AND THRIVING) with cancer, and those pushing every day to prevent recurrence. To think – 10 years ago I was navigating the deep waters of diagnosis, and today I’m sitting here with what I need to launch a project that can help people like 18-year-old me. You guys are rock stars and I cannot thank you enough for helping me make this possible.

Recipe Round-Up #1

Campaign news: My indiegogo campaign is finishing up with 40 hours left and 10% to go.  After my culinary nutrition certification, my goal is to offer my time, knowledge, and resources to help fellow cancer survivors and their families introduce more whole foods into their diets to help healing and prevent future disease!  Contribute if you can and please spread the word!!

I’m starting a new weekly feature here, Recipe Round-Up! ¬†I sort through recipes to find the healthiest and yummiest on the web and share them here with you. ¬†Here goes week 1!

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Sweet Potato Bean Fritters – vegetarian & vegan

This week I guest blogged a recipe for sweet potato bean fritters over on Let’s Give Peas a Chance. ¬†I love to make these with left over sweet potatoes, because the hardest part of this recipe is just waiting for the darn sweet potato to bake (I’m so impatient). ¬†My favorite way to enjoy this recipe is over salad greens with a side of hummus, but you could easily add a bun and call this a veggie burger. Hearty and filling with crunch on the outside for some great texture.

Roasted Red Pepper & Carrot Dip – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free

Sondi over at The Copycat Cook has this great veggie dip recipe. Not only is this recipe only 6 ingredients, but it’s a great way to mix things up when you are getting bored with your variations on hummus. ¬†The vibrant color of this dip reminds you to eat the rainbow. ūüôā

Homemade BBQ Sauce & Ketchup – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free

I know from a lot of my gluten-free friends that it’s really hard to track down condiments that don’t use wheat gluten as a stabilizer/thickener. ¬†Meghan Telpner has you covered with these recipes to make your very own BBQ sauce and ketchup from scratch. ¬†Get your mason jars ready!

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This morning I launched my first Indiegogo campaign. ¬†As a cancer survivor and dedicated life-long learner, I’ve devoted much of my last 10 years to the pursuit of resources and knowledge that will benefit me in my healing process. ¬†To be honest, there aren’t many resources out there, especially for young cancer survivors, when it comes to whole food nutrition and disease prevention/healing. ¬†I want to change that. My campaign’s initial goal is to raise tuition money so that I can¬†receive¬†certification in culinary nutrition. ¬†¬†My bigger end goal is to use what I learn, and have learned over the past 10 years, to help fellow cancer survivors and their families introduce more whole foods into their diets to help heal their bodies and prevent future disease. ¬†I want to break things down as simply as I can and give these individual easy and meaningful ways they can make changes when it comes to nutrition.

This month I am 6 years cancer-free. Please help me celebrate by helping me pay it forward. ¬†If you have the capacity, please give. ¬†There are tons of perk levels to choose from, or you can give a straight donation. ¬†If you don’t have the means to give now, please share/pass on my story.

xo

Smoothies 101

I’ve been littering my Instgram feed with my daily smoothie experiments and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback/questions, so I’m devoting a blog post to the topic.

What is the difference between juicing and blending?
Juicing extracts the liquid from the fruits and veggies, but leaves the fiber behind (typically in a catch basket). Juices are super easy to digest and give your body’s cells a nice little bath. Smoothies keep the fiber so they tend to be more filling, take you body longer to digest, but are easier when it comes to clean-up. Books have been written on the topic of juicing and smoothie making,¬† so I won’t harp too much on the debate. Both are wonderful and have a place in your diet, should you wish to include them. I tend to blend more than I juice. It’s a matter of preference and time. Look for a post in the future that focuses on the joys of juicing.

Equipment
You’ll need a blender. Hardcore smoothie aficionados swear by the big guns – Vitamix and Blendtec. They may be powerful, but they also pack a slap to the face with their $300-600 price tags. I’ve been making smoothies for a few years now, and my less expensive blenders have done me just fine. My roommate owns an Oster 12-speed blender and I have a small personal Tribest blender. Both handle ice, frozen fruit and veggies, and blend like a dream. I forsee myself eventually leveling up to a Vitamix or Blendtec, but for now my cheaper models suit me just fine. Do a little research and read some reviews before you make a purchase. Depending on the recipe you may also need a knife and cutting board. Nothing you don’t already use in the kitchen. ūüôā

Your Ideal Smoothie Equation
If you want your smoothies to pack a nutritional punch, you are looking for:

1 part fruit
+ 2 parts veggies (Yes, you read that right, double the veggies.)
+ 1 liquid
+ added bonuses
+ ice (optional, not necessary if you are using frozen fruits)

This isn’t an equation you have to live by, but it’s ideal. Feel free to play around with the ratios and switch things up as often as you’d like. If I’m looking for a lighter smoothie, I sometimes leave the fat out. It’s all about experimenting and finding your preference. If you are replacing a meal with this smoothie, definitely keep the fat and add some protein.

Fruits & Veggies
When should you go organic and when can you cut pennies?
I highly recommend going all organic, but if your budget can’t handle all organic produce take into account the Dirty Dozen. These are the fruits and veggies found to have the most pesticides. They include:

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (imported)
11. Carrots
12. Pears

If you are using any of these fruits or veggies you’ll want to spend the extra bucks for organic. What good is introducing all those healthy enzymes, vitamins and minerals into your body if you are bringing pesticides along for the ride?! Why double the veggies? They are full of nutrients, enzymes and if they are green, they are full of chlorophyll, which helps increase oxygen availability in the body. Most vegetables alkalinize the body, balancing out your consumption of acidic meats, grains and flour products. This balance is crucial to disease prevention and healing.

Liquid
You’ll need a liquid base to get things blending. I highly suggest coconut water or a nut milk as you get the most bang for your buck. Coconut water is high in electrolytes, think nature’s Gatorade without all that sugar. Nut milks are high in protein and help make your smoothies creamy. Almond milk is now widely available and is what I prefer. You can even make your own nut milk. Filtered water is always an option, too.

Added bonuses

Ahhh…the extra goodies. Some of my favorites include:

  • Fat: Fats have a bad rap with claims that they cause weight gain, heart disease and high cholesterol. In reality, good fats are essential to the body’s ability to metabolize protein and absorb vitamins and minerals. Fats help fuel your body and slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, resulting in stable energy levels. When it comes down to which good fats you want to include in your smoothies, avocados and nut butters are two I highly recommend. Avocado helps to add creaminess and is great alternative to banana if you aren’t a fan. Avocado is high in fiber, potassium, B vitamins, as well as vitamin E & K. Nut butters are a great addition as they are a great source of protein, fiber and essential fatty acids. Give almond butter a try instead of peanut butter, your body will thank me.
  • Seeds: hemp, flax, chia among others. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. If you aren’t sure where to buy these, check out Nutiva.com. It’s my favorite place to grab seeds and coconut oil. Every Tuesday they have an awesome deal of the day and they usually have free shipping if you spend a certain amount.
  • Green powders: I currently use Amazing Grass Green Superfoods, but there are tons of different types and flavor types out there on the market.
  • Hemp protein: Contains the most complete amino acid profile of all plant proteins. This is used by the body to build more cells and muscle. Again, Nutiva is a great place to find this if you don’t have a health food store close to you.

You know what to look for when it comes to ingredients, but now what? When I first stared out, I relied on a few recommended recipes before I began experimenting. Your failed experiments may end up costing you big bucks if you don’t give a few recipes a try first to determine your preferences. A simple Google search will brings up tons of recipes.

A few of my favorites include:

Happy Blending!!!

Are you already blending? What are you favorite recipes? If you aren’t blending yet, what has been stopping you? Let me know!

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Super Art Fest to Benefit Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

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Super Art Fest to benefit Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is this Saturday, May 19th, from noon to midnight at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore.¬† That’s right, the folks over at Super Art Fight, are doing a 12-hour charity event full of art, healthy competition, music, and comedy.¬† The show itself is free, but it would be great if anyone who attends could throw a few bucks in to support such a great cause. I’ll be there helping out, selling merch, accepting donations, and probably doing a few food-runs for the guys.

If you want to know why SAF chose Ulman, check out the latest Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults blog post.¬† My story is at the end of the post. ūüôā

If you can’t attend, but you want to support Ulman, you can donate via the Super Art Fest donations page.¬† The event itself will be livestreamed the day of, so you don’t have to miss out on all the fun if you aren’t able to attend.

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Green Smoothie Goodness


More greens, please! This week I finally purchased Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Jucies & Succulent Smoothies. Tons of great information in that ‘lil e-book about juicing and blending + awesome recipes from a variety of contributors. Definitely check it out, it is worth every penny.¬† I haven’t gotten the the heart of the recipes yet, but when I do I’ll talk a bit more about my experiments.

This week, I modified a smoothie I saw over on A Beautiful Mess Blog (which I found thanks to Danielle of On A Lark).

I blended:

1/2 a cup of pineapple chunks
3 handfuls of baby spinach
1 banana
1 cup of almond milk
2 tbsp of hemp seeds.

Super refreshing and not at all a strong green taste . ENJOY!

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Do allergies have your head pounding & your sinuses angry at the world? Give Nettle a try.

{{PD-US}} ‚Äď published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US. Original source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thom√© Flora von Deutschland, √Ėsterreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany.

Spring is here. Temperatures are rising, most of the country has been unseasonably warm, and allergy season is here whether we want it to be or not. The immune system recognizes these allergens as harmful and the body releases histamine in hopes to fight them off (‚ÄúEXTERMINATE!‚ÄĚ). ¬†This release of histamine has a direct effect on the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and even skin – ENTER THE DREADED SYMPTOMS.

One of the most effective natural remedies is nettle, a flowering plant from the genus Uritca (family: Urticaceae), the most prominent of which is the stinging nettle (urtica dioica).  Nettle has long been utilized for its medicinal properties.   It was used as a diuretic (removing excess water from the body) and to treat joint pain in medieval Europe.  Stinging nettle has also aided in the treatment of muscle and joint pain, eczema, arthritis, gout and anemia for hundreds of years. Scientists believe that nettle reduces the levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body and blocks histamine receptors. Today, nettle is used to treat a variety of health concerns including urinary tract infection, water retention, hay fever, allergies, and insect bites.

For allergy relief, you can easily consume stinging nettle in freeze-dried capsule form (which is what I do).  They can be found at your local health food store, or online. Unlike the over the counter & prescription drugs many of us hoard during this time of year, nettle does not cause drowsiness.

If you’re looking for other ways to relieve your allergy symptoms, try reducing your intake of dairy (known to increase mucus production), purchasing a trusty air purifier/dehumidifier, or irrigating your sinuses with the help of a neti pot.

Sources & places to read more about nettle:

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Makers Series.

Makers is a fabulous video series that focuses on the groundbreaking and pioneering work of women across America.  All of these women have had a profound impact on our lives and our world. Some of the amazing women included in this PBS & AOL series are Carol Burnett, Ellen Degeneres, Katie Couric, Maya Lin, and Faith Ringgold.

I was so happy to learn that my favorite Canser cowgirl, Kris Carr, was included in this series. Kris has had a profound impact on my life and my cancer journey. Check out her contributions to the Makers series at: http://www.makers.com/kris-carr.

 

 

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GF, Days 1-5

Millet Porridge.

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a slave to carbs, particularly wheat. My go-to breakfast for most of my life centered around cinnamon rolls (the kind that come in the tube, until I was old enough to make them from scratch) bagels, or english muffins. I’ve always had a soft-spot for breakfast meats, but they never had the hold on me (addiction much?) that wheat did. ¬†I was a vegetarian for much of college, and while it was difficult to pass up a burger or bacon when I was out with my friends, I never felt SICK from not having it on my plate.

This week was the start of Meghan Telpner’s guided Gluten Free Cleanse. Along with dozens of others I cut gluten from my diet. Day one I was happy, motivated, and anxious to see some changes. I quickly came to several realizations:

1. Gluten was EVERYWHERE in my diet.  In every meal I was eating and in almost every snack, condiment and unassuming addition to my plate. So it was back to basics for me.

2. In gluten’s absence (the first 4 days) I felt physically and emotionally ill. Can you say that of any food that’s good for you? I don’t have mood swings, brain fog, and headaches when I go a few days without spinach or a banana.

3. I was eating past the point of full. ¬†Louis C.K. has a joke about his eating habits, about how it’s not a matter of eating until he’s full. ¬†“The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.” Sadly, I always found that joke hilarious because I could relate to it.

By yesterday, day 5, the physical and mental side effects of detoxing from wheat were pretty much gone. No brain fog, my cranky-pants are off, I’m sleeping through the night (and well), I have more energy in the mornings and don’t crash or feel slumps at various points in the day. I’ve been much more focused and motivated at work. ¬†Although cutting gluten from my diet has meant far more ktichen-prep time, I’m comforted knowing exactly what is going into every meal. I also tend to be more present while eating. I chew slower, I savor what I’m eating, and I take pride in the fact that I had a part in making it. ¬†I don’t eat to the point where I feel like I might explode. I eat until I don’t feel hungry anymore, which to be honest with you, is nothing compared to what I was stuffing my face with before. ¬†I don’t feel like I have a rock in my stomach or like I need a nap after every meal. I’m excited to see how I’m feeling over the next few weeks.

I’m pretty sure it will only get better. I’m looking forward to playing around in the kitchen and creating some of my own recipes, not just following Meghan and Sondi’s recipes. ¬†If any of my fellow gluten free cleansers are reading this, how are you feeling? What are some of the realizations you’ve come to this week?

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Gluten-Free.

I’m excited to be starting a gluten-free cleanse on Monday, guided by my favorite Nutritionista, Meghan Telpner. I mentioned her in my last entry, way back in 2009. ¬† Sure, this blog & twitter feed have gone silent, but I’m using this as a great excuse to jump back in head-first. ¬†I’m happy to finally be able to take part in one of her guided programs. I’m one of those people who needs to be held accountable by others and I have a feeling Meghan and all those participating will definitely hold me to my word. ¬†I’m looking forward to the adventure and I’m super glad to not be jumping in alone.

My favorite thing about this program is that it’s all based on whole foods. It’s easy to go junk food gluten-free, just like it’s easy to be a junk food vegetarian or vegan. ¬†There is a growing market and the pre-packaged food industry has taken notice. I’m a cancer survivor, and I know that type of “diet” will never work for me. ¬†I hate the word diet. I’m looking to make lifestyle changes and to live¬†healthfully. I’m interested in eating the most whole and healing foods possible. ¬†The timing couldn’t be better, with my yearly cancer scans and blood tests right around the corner.

I’ll write more about my experience on gluten and what I hope to accomplish on the journey when the cleanse kicks off.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @healness and @samtaters.