The Perfect Wheat Flour

I love to bake. With the holiday season around the corner, I'm itching to try a few new recipes. When the weather turned cool for a few brief days, I broke in my pie pans with homemade apple and pumpkin pies. Part of my excitement for the baking season is my new found love: Wheat Montana Flour. (And, no I'm not being paid to say that.)

Cookies can be made from wheat flour.
Photo by Snowbear, Morguefile.
I've searched for the past few months for a perfect baking flour. My criteria is strict: it can't be bleached or bromated, it must be grown in the United States and minimal processing is a bonus. I've tried organic rice flour, too many wheat flours to count and garbanzo bean flour (don't laugh).

Rice flour made my cookies too crumbly. One whole wheat flour made my rolls into hockey pucks. And flour made from beans, well, tasted like beans. I love beans, but not bean-flavored bread. It was just plain weird.

Over the past several months I've given the Wheat Montana Hard White Spring a good work out. Pie crusts. Oatmeal molasses cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate birthday cake. Lemon bars. Honey wheat rolls.

I did mention I love to bake, right?

Every recipe made with this flour turned out great. Here are a few details straight from the company's website:

  • Wheat Montana is family owned and operated.
  • The flour is Certified Chemical Free and Certified Organic.
  • The flour is milled at a low 94 degrees to maintain the nutrient value of the wheat.

Do you have a flour or baking ingredient that you can't live without? Tell me about it. I'm always up for trying a new product. It gives me an excuse to spend a little more time in the kitchen!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy,


Tiger Woods Endorses Fuse Science Sports Nutrition Supplements

It's not uncommon for pro athletes to endorse products. Nobody bat an eye when David Beckham promoted Adidas sneakers, or when Maria Sharapova showed off her photography skills behind the Canon Powershot Digital Camera Series.

Tiger Woods
Photo by Molly A. Burgess,
Wikimedia Commons
Last week Tiger Woods announced he will endorse Fuse Science sports nutrition products. The nutritional supplements aid in vitamin and electrolyte levels and absorption. The oral drops absorb directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestion process.

Tiger Woods says the products will "enhance every athlete's ability to perform at their natural best" and increase energy levels.

But, isn't that the role of a healthy diet?

Athletes who consume fresh fruits, vitamin-packed vegetables and lean proteins have more energy and endurance on the field than their fast-food eating counterparts.

For example, adding protein to your breakfast staves off the mid-morning munchies and helps muscles build and repair themselves after a sunrise run or pre-practice yoga session.

Will Tiger Woods' endorsement of nutritional supplements lead athletes to believe supplements are healthier than absorbing vitamins naturally from fresh foods?

Whether you're an on-the-go high school athlete or squeeze workouts into a busy work schedule, time-saving nutritional options are appealing and an excellent boost to a healthy diet. But, supplements don't cure a growling stomach or satiate a post-workout appetite.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!


Raspberry-Banana Smoothie

Fresh Raspberries
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
After I exercise, I like to indulge in a fruit smoothie. The natural sugars prolong my post-workout energy high. Plus, it's an easy way to get part of my daily fruit intake without lots of chopping, juicing or peeling.

Today I created a banana-raspberry smoothie. It's sweeter than most of the morning drinks I create, but it makes my sweet tooth happy!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup milk (use any kind you like: cow, almond, soy, etc.)
1 peeled banana, chunks
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, washed and whole
1 Tbs. raw honey
1 Tbs. milled flax seed
5-6 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

Now, while you sip, here's how you're fueling your body. The banana serves up a healthy dose of vitamin B6, potassium and fiber. Plus, one banana only has 1 gram of sodium and helps prevent high blood pressure. The raspberries are full of skin-clearing antioxidants, vitamin C and dietary fiber. And, the Omega-3 fatty acids in the flaxseed reduces inflammation and blood pressure.
Drink up!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Whole Foods Living


All About Pumpkin!

Colorful maple leaves blanket my yard, the evenings beg for a roaring fire in the fireplace and fall produce abounds at the farmer's market. It's pumpkin season!

Fresh Pumpkins
Photo by Ladyheart,
I truly love everything about autumn including the availability of local squash. From acorn and butternut to spaghetti, I really enjoy them all. But, the best known player in the bunch is probably the pumpkin.

Nutritional Information About Pumpkins

One cup of fresh mashed pumpkin contains 49 calories and 2 grams of protein. Pumpkin is cholesterol and fat free. If you're looking to increase your vitamin C, E or riboflavin levels, pumpkin is a good source of these nutrients.

The number one vitamin found in pumpkin is vitamin A. One mashed cup contains 245 percent of your daily requirements!

Pumpkin is even good for your skin. Check out my article about pumpkin seed oil on Daily Glow.

Cooking and Baking with Pumpkin

Once you've sparked your curiosity about baking with pumpkin and gobbled up a homemade pumpkin pie, get ready to experiment. In addition to pumpkin bars, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies, the squash also works as an ingredient in a few healthy dishes.

Mashed Pumpkin
Photo by Maxstraeten,
Australians serve pumpkin soup as often as Americans enjoy a bowl of chicken noodle soup. During my time in Melbourne, Australia I sampled many versions of pumpkin soup. One of my favorite cooks, Alton Brown, offers his recipe for Squash Soup here.

Cubes of pumpkin caramelize beautifully under a drizzle of olive oil in a hot oven. Add a few sliced onions and green peppers to the pan to create a colorful autumn side dish.

If you're looking to skim a few calories from your dinner tonight, whip up mashed pumpkin in lieu of mashed potatoes. Boil and mash the squash the same way you prepare potatoes, then season with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and sweet cream butter.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

My Secret Cookie Ingredient

In addition to learning about whole foods and their nutritional properties, I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. And, it's partly out of necessity.

We don't have vegan, vegetarian or whole foods restaurants in my neck of the woods. If you want to avoid processed foods, fried foods or unnecessary calories, you need to get crafty in the kitchen. Luckily, I look forward to my "kitchen time" each day.

My Secret Ingredient: Raw Sugar

Raw Sugar
Photo by Fritzs, Wikimedia Commons
My most recent unexpected discovery is the baking quality of raw sugar. Everyday all-purpose baking sugar gets processed with chemicals to create a pure white, even-textured sweetener. A package of raw sugar contains uneven granules of honey-colored sugar cane. Although raw sugar isn't a true whole food, it's much closer to natural sugar cane than white sugar.

Using Raw Sugar

Sprinkling raw sugar atop a homemade apple pie gives it a rustic look. The oversized sugar granules add a tasty, sweet crunch to the top of blueberry muffin. And my personal favorite: Cookies baked with raw sugar stay thicker than those made with brown or white sugar. If you like a dense chocolate chip cookie, substitute raw sugar in your next batch.

Magically, when I made my first pumpkin pie of the season with raw sugar it turned out perfect. I was unsure if the large granules would melt. Pumpkin pie should have a creamy, smooth filling. The raw sugar didn't let me down.

Although I could sing praises about raw sugar all day long, it's still best enjoyed in moderation. But, if you need a recommendation for a calorie-free sweetener, try my other kitchen buddy, stevia.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!


What are Lentils?

Dried Red Lentils
Photo by Jules,
Wikimedia Commons
As a vegetarian, I'm often asked, "So, what do you actually eat?"

Usually my response includes a list of what I've eaten recently such as chickpeas, lentils and whole grain pasta. Lentils almost always make the list because I absolutely love them. Not surprisingly, I am usually faced with a blank stare.

When a friend recently told me her only experience with lentils was watching her friend's pet ferret use them as bedding in a playpen, I knew it was time to write a post about my favorite protein-packed food.

Lentil Nutritional Information
I usually start my response with something like, "Well, they look like a tiny flat bean. But, they're a legume." Lentils come in several colorful varieties including brown, green and red.

This whole food provides a great source of protein, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and folate. Lentils can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood-sugar levels. Plus lentils are nearly fat-free and low in calories. One cup of cooked lentils contains just 229 calories, according to the World's Healthiest Foods.

Boil green lentils to soften.
Photo by Alvimann,
Cooking with Lentils
I use lentils in everything. They thicken soups and stews, mash into a fabulous meatloaf or burger-like structure and toss well in a salad. I've even found a brownie recipe using lentils that I'm dying to try.

Next time you want to try a meatless meal, use cooked lentils in lieu of ground beef. The tiny little legumes tend to take on the flavor of other foods in the dish, making them a filling way to bulk up any recipe.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

High Protein Foods: Pass the Peas, Please!

As a vegetarian, I'm always looking for high-protein foods. This week I stumbled upon a protein-packed food that costs less than $1.00 per pound -- dried peas.

You can imagine my surprise when I checked the nutritional listing on the back of the bag. Just 1/4 cup of peas contains 11 grams of protein. WOW!

Craving Peas
Dried split peas contain 11 grams of protein per 1/4 cup.
Photo by Jeltovski,
After watching an episode of Chef Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, and eyeing a homemade pea soup, I had to make some myself.

Although I didn't have enough fresh peas on hand to make the soup, it turned out delicious and surprisingly filling with the dried peas. Thank you, protein!

Simple Recipe
I partially followed the soup recipe on the bag by simmering 1 pound of peas with 8 cups of water. Once the peas softened, I blended the mix with my stick blender, then added salt and pepper.

I know most recipes include sauteed onions, carrots and celery, but I wanted a clean, crisp pea flavor. And, it turned out delicious.

To make the soup a meal I added fresh toasted croutons to the top of my bowl. After chopping a dry whole wheat roll and drizzling it with olive oil, I toasted the bread cubes in the oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. They turned out crisp, flavorful and worked as a perfect compliment to the soup.

Do you have a favorite pea soup recipe, add in, topper or trick to share? Let me know. I'll be using dried peas a lot more in the future.

Until Next Time!

Choose Healthy,

Lovin' Limes

Try baking with fresh limes.
Photo by Hotblack,
One of my favorite summertime flavors is lime. So, what's the first lime-flavored treat that comes to mind? For me, it's always key lime pie.

The tangy, creamy, cool pie somehow melts away the heat, humidity and better part of an afternoon. It isn't a quick pie to make when you're working from scratch.

My local grocery store had limes on sale 12/$1 and I just couldn't resist grabbing a few. Since I didn't have the time or patience to whip up a pie, I had to search for a new use for those limes.

I stumbled across a lime shortbread cookie recipe at the Land O' Lakes website that looked easy and tasty. I whipped up a batch in no time (using unbleached rice flour) and they were fabulous! Since I can't eat healthy all the time, this was a nice little homemade treat.

Next time I'm going to try substituting powdered stevia for the ultra-bad-for-me powdered sugar. What are you favorite lime recipes? I'd love to learn a healthier, yet sweet, lime concoction for the future.

Until Next Time!

Choose Healthy,


Fabulous Farmer's Market Finds in May

Farmer's Market
Photo by Acrylicartist,
Think it's too early to visit your local farmer's market? Think again! Sure the home-grown watermelons aren't ripe yet, and it's too early for fresh carrots, but lots of other whole foods goodies are ready to go.

My local midwestern market has plenty of hydroponic tomatoes, asparagus and leaf lettuce. The honey vendors are out in full force. And the egg and meat farmers have their local products for sale too.
The Farmer's Market Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Using the Freshest IngredientsMy local farmer's market has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. Whether it's the chilly start of market season or the fall wrap-up, craft vendors abound. From dried flowers and wood crafts to jewelry artisans and painters, there's always something to look at even if your favorite produce isn't in season.

And of course, the bakeries make decadent appearances all season long. To keep your sweet tooth happy and your healthy eating plan in place, opt for items made with whole wheat flour, raw honey, farm-fresh eggs and local milk.

Until next time,
Choose Healthy!

Whole Foods Living

Blog Award!

Thanks to author and foodie Amy Brantley, Whole Foods Living was honored with the Stylish Blogger Award today! If you want to share the love and send an award to your favorite blogger, play along.

The rules are as follows:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award. (Thanks to Amy at Recipes that Please with Ease! )
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 10-15 blogs that you think deserve this award.
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

7 things about me:
1. I love to cook and bake.
2. I'm a sucker for 1980s hair metal music.
3. I love to eat healthy.
4. I had a pet python for 16 years. His name was Poe.
5. I LOVE lentils.
6. I've read the entire Little House on the Prairie book series more than once.
7. I love to be crafty with photos and scrapbooking.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Energy-Boosting B Vitamins

Dried beans, peas, soybeans and whole grains
are rich sources of vitamin B1, thiamine.
Photo by Ronnieb,
B vitamins are known for their energy-boosting properties. But, what exactly are B vitamins and how can I get them from whole foods? Choose fresh whole fruits, raw vegetables, dried legumes and lean proteins daily.

Here's more about three popular B vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.

Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
Thiamine is the leader of the B vitamins. Also known as B1, thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin. Excess thiamine is excreted through urine, so the vitamin needs to be replenished on a daily basis, according to The New York Times Health Guide online.

Thiamine's Purpose in the Body
Like other B vitamins, thiamine is crucial for chemical body processes. B1 converts carbohydrates into energy and helps the heart, muscles and nervous system function properly. When someone is deficient in thiamine, they may ... continue reading.

Asparagus is a good source of
vitamin B2, riboflavin.
Photo by Sideshowmom,
Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin builds body tissues, helps maintain vision and controls metabolic activities in the body. Riboflavin in the heart, liver and kidneys protects cells from oxygen damage and promotes energy production in the cells.

The vitamin is a team player with other B vitamins. Riboflavin works together with enzymes to convert the amino acid tryptophan into vitamin B3, or niacin. Having enough vitamin B1 in the body helps ... continue reading.

Nuts and leafy green vegetables
provide niacin, vitamin B3.
Photo by Conejoaureo,

Vitamin B3 - Niacin
Niacin is a member of the powerhouse B vitamins. Also known as vitamin B3, niacin helps regulate digestion, metabolism and the nervous system. Niacin is responsible for converting food to energy. Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, works with enzymes in the body to convert the amino acid tryptophan into niacin.

Water Soluble, Replenish Often
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin. Foods rich in niacin must be consumed regularly since excess vitamins are dispelled in the urine daily. The body does not store niacin for future needs.

Adding niacin to your diet is easy by ... continue reading.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!


What Does Vitamin C Do?

Strawberries are a whole foods source of natural vitamin C.
Photo by Mobius, Wikimedia Commons

When you feel a cold coming on, do you increase your vitamin C intake? If you reach for orange juice, strawberries or other vitamin C-rich whole foods, you're not alone. But, what does vitamin C do for the body and how do I know if I'm not getting enough?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has not been proven to prevent or cure the common cold or flu, according to the Mayo Clinic. But, reaching for vitamin C rich foods will boost your overall health.

The powerhouse vitamin can reduce chances for developing cardiovascular disease and hardening of the arteries. Vitamin C also encourages body tissue growth and functioning, including the formation of connective tissues, collagen, elastin, fibronectin and fibrillin.

Medical professionals often recommend vitamin C supplements for those with cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis and other chronic illnesses. The vitamin expedites wound healing and assists the body in processing carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Kirkland Vitamin C (500 mg), 500-Count, Tangy Orange, Chewable TabletsIf your body isn't absorbing enough vitamin C from your diet or nutritional supplements, you may notice an increased feeling of fatigue, depression, scurvy or muscle weakness. Tooth loss, oral bleeding and tender gums are another sign of vitamin C deficiency.

So, go ahead and load up on vitamin C-rich foods. Oranges, papaya, red bell peppers, strawberries, kale, grapefruit, broccoli and cantaloupe are natural whole food sources of vitamin C.

Sources and Suggested Further Reading:
Mayo Clinic: Ascorbic Acid (Oral Route)
 The Worlds Healthiest Foods: Vitamin C
NutraSanus: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Information Vitamin C Powder

Until next time,
Choose Healthy!

Whole Foods Living


Juicing Carrots: A Burst of Vitamin A

One cup of raw carrots (pre-juicing) gives you over six times
the recommended daily percentage of vitamin A.
Photo by Kander, Wikimedia Commons

What's a girl to do when carrots go on sale for 50 cents a bag? Juice 'em! To the naysayer, the thought of making juice from a vegetable may sound, well, icky. But crunchy carrots turn into a sweet, refreshing juice in a matter of seconds with an electric juicer.

And they give your body a vitamin packed pick-me-up.

Health Benefits of Carrots
One cup of raw carrots (pre-juicing) gives you over six times the recommended daily percentage of vitamin A. Carrots are also high in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. The antioxidants in carrots promote eye health, ward off cardiovascular disease and help prevent some cancers.

Mix it Up
My favorite way to drink carrot juice is with a splash of fresh juiced lemon or mixed with apple juice. I have tried mixing carrot juice with the juice of other vegetables -- including cucumbers, kale and celery -- but the result was too bland.

The World's Healthiest Foods website recommends mixing fresh juiced carrots with soy milk and bananas for a breakfast shake. Since I like soy milk, and this concoction sounds like it might have a sweet taste, I'll have to give it a try.

What are your favorite juicing mixes?

Resources and Suggested Further Reading:
The World's Healthiest Foods, The George Mateljan Foundation: Carrots
SoyQuick: The Benefits of Juicing Fresh Carrots

Until next time,
Choose Healthy!

Whole Foods Living


Please Pass the Stevia

SweetLeaf Stevia Packets, 50-Count Packages (Pack of 4)Welcome 2011. After the sugar-rush over indulgence of the holidays, I decided it was time to remind myself about natural sweeteners. Refined white sugar, you are the devil. Please pass the stevia.

What is Stevia?
Stevia powder is derived from Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni, a plant native to Central and South America. The calorie-free sweetener surpasses the sweetness of refined white sugar by 200 to 300 times, according to the American Dietetic Association.

Stevia: Naturally Sweet Recipes for Desserts, Drinks, and MoreUsing Stevia
I've mixed stevia into hot herbal tea, sprinkled it over cereal and sweetened fresh, raw strawberries with the powder. Since the sweetener packs a powerful punch, I use much less than when I use refined white sugar. One little packet of stevia can sweeten at least three cups of tea. If you're diabetic or looking to shed a few pounds, give stevia a try.

Resources and Suggested Further Reading:

American Dietetic Association: Stevia
United States Department of Agriculture:

Green Plant: Green Sweeteners Compared:
The World's Healthiest Foods:

Until next time,
Choose Healthy!