Your Quick Guide to Buying Chicken

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It’s so easy to get tricked into buying the wrong chicken. By the wrong chicken I mean chickens that are raised inhumanly and are not healthy for our bodies.

Many meat companies will advertise their chicken with words like “natural”, “humanly raised”, and “cage free”. Don’t fall for this trap!

Companies with chicken labled with “natural” or “humanly raised” have been caught raising their chickens on factory farms where they are typically raised in areas where they can’t move freely, have no access to natural light, are fed antibiotics and have been bred to be gigantic ( the average chicken in the 1950s was 2 pounds and now they can weigh up to a whopping 9 pounds!)

The term”no added hormones” also fools us and gets us confused with the term “no antibiotics”. When shopping for chicken remember growth hormones are banned from poultry production. “Cage free” also doesn’t mean anything to us because this only applies to chickens raised for egg production. See how these big food corporations are tricking us just to make the big bucks?! So sad.

What to Look for when Buying Chicken:

Animal Welfare Approved

Global Animal Partnership

Certified Humane

Certified Organic

Whenever possible buy from your local farmers and ask how their chickens are raised!

Have a great week!

~Niki

 

 

 

Drink Green

 

Day 2~ How to Drink  Green Daily

Try to drink a green drink everyday~ A smoothie or juice made from mostly kale, spinach or other leafy greens. Nutritionists recommend to eat 6-8 servings of veggies and fruits a day. If you drink 1 hardy (12) ounce glass of fresh veggie juice it should give you a whole days worth of what you need to consume.

I have been drinking an awesome green drink every day for a week now and feel great! .. I’ve also lost a few pounds🙂 BIG PLUS especially when I can’t go running.

You May ask why?

  • Pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and conventional farming have depleted key vitamins and minerals from our soil. For example, a zucchini today does not have the same amount of nutrition as a zucchini did twenty  years ago…😦. Because of this we need to overcompensate through eating as much whole plant organic veggies as possible. Drink a green drink then…cheers!
  • You are saying goodbye to toxins by detoxing naturally. Many diseases are triggered by poison consumed from polluted foods with pesticides and GMOS. Drinking green is a quick way to detox from these poisons. Chlorophyll (what makes a leaf green) is what helps make this happen.
  • Green foods protect against all kinds of cancer.
  • Helps you get thin and fit.
  • Improves digestion

Ways to Get These Greens In

Blend IT- Use a Vitamix ( they work GREAT)

Juice IT- Add carrots to get longer eyelashes🙂

Take a Wheat Grass Shot

When it Comes to Store -Bought Drinks….

First things first. 100% juice does not mean anything. Food companies can say 100% juice on the label even if it has additives and preservatives… Oh boy is right…

How to Choose the Best Store -Bought Juice

The best raw organic juices you can buy are below:

  1. Suja Juice
  2. Suja Elements
  3. Juice Press
  4. Organic Avenue
  5. Luna’s Living Kitchen
  6. Viva Raw
  7. TumericALive
  8. Blue Print
  9. Evolution Fresh
  10. Trader Joe’s (some)

Do not Buy- Contain GMOS and pesticides amongst many other negative ingredients for your health

  1. V8
  2. Naked Juice
  3. POM Wonderful
  4. Simply Orange
  5. Tropicana
  6. Ocean Spray
  7. Minute Maid
  8. Mott’s
  9. Del Monte
  10. Welch’s

Cheers!

Niki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Free From Toxins


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I have been inspired to “break free”.
Im excited to get rid of polluting foods in my body and replace them with foods that are truly healthy! One reason being I still have a broken foot and can’t run for another MONTH so I’m taking on something new, fun and educational.  I’ve chosen to do this by following The Food Babe Way 21 day plan to get rid of toxins, lose weight (without counting calories-no way!) and feel well, wholesome and energized. This isn’t a diet! … Just a way to start a new and healthy lifestyle through eliminating toxic chemicals that are in our food causing all kinds of health problems. I’ll be blogging about tips I learn that are helpful for me and what I believe will help you in so many ways so stay tuned!

So far I have learned easy things to do that make me feel energized. From drinking lemon water to learning how to shop and buy truly healthy organic foods, I feel my lifestyle changing in a positive direction. Get excited and follow this 21 day plan with me!

Day 1 ~Cleanse your body daily with a morning lemon water gig

Drink a cup of warm lemon H2O with cayenne pepper when you awake in the morning. (Organic ingredients please!)

Health Benefits:

Stimulates your liver- the main detoxing organ in the body that helps with healthier skin, clearer eyes, better attitude and more balanced weight.

Increases fat burn by improving your digestion~ If our digestive system isn’t working it’s almost impossible to loose weight. Poor digestion can prevent the body from absorbing the nutrients it needs to burn fat.

Drinking warm lemon water stimulates saliva and sends a signal to the body to get things rollin.

Vitamin C~fights cell damage and strengthens immune defenses. You should start to get sick less and able to keep going on strong!!:) Limonin in lemons also helps prevent cancer.

What about that cayenne?! ~burns body fat by boosting your metabolism just like any spicy food does. It also fights food cravings, has a healing effect on your digestive system, high in vitamins A,C, and B complex; calcium and potassium.

How we do it!

Before bed fill electric kettle with filtered water. Set out a lemon and cayenne pepper. As soon as I wake up I start the kettle get ready then pour hot water into a glass half full of room temp water. Warm water is close to your body temp so your body will process it better. Too hott of water can kill off benefits of live enzymes in the lemon. Squeeze a whole lemon or half of a lemon in the 8 ounces of water and add cayenne. BOOM! A BAM to start the day off right!🙂

Next up~ add some green to your daily liquid intake!

Cheers and healthy drinking everyone!

~Niki

Wild Soup

unnamed-1Just recently I went to an awesome hot yoga class at Power Life here in Des Moines. The class started off with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr…. Idk if you have ever heard of him but I sure have😉.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

I know myself and many people my age would feel comfort from hearing that…being recently out of school, starting a new job or relationship can be tough but if you just keep on moving… you’ll be just fine! I relate to this especially when it comes to the big question of “to work out today or not”?…just keep moving forward with your workouts to the best of your ability. Mine currently.. I have to walk (swollen foot) either way walking is better than nothing, I’m still moving forward, right?🙂

Here is an outstanding comfort soup that you must try! I made it one time and gave it an a+  tastyness~so good ah! I call it Wild Soup because it is made with wild rice and a variety of “wild” mushrooms. It’s perfect for the winter and extremely healthy!

Wild Soup

1 cup wild rice

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms, baby bellas and or shitake diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablesoon fresh oregano
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 or 2 leftover cheese rinds, optional, for deeper flavor
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk OR whole milk or heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt, divided

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the wild rice and one teaspoon of salt, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until the rice has burst open and tastes tender. Keep adding water if it begins to boil dry.

While the rice cooks, prepare the rest of the soup. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and carrots with a dash of salt, and cook until the onions have softened and turned translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the mushrooms and another half teaspoon of salt. Cook until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and turned dark golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t skimp on this step! This is where the soup gets its deep, rich flavor.

Add oregano ( I used fresh), and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir until the vegetables become sticky and there is no more visibly dry flour. Increase the heat again to medium-high and pour in the wine. Stir and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue simmering until the wine has reduced by about half and the liquid has thickened a bit.

Add the cooked rice, bay leaf, cheese rinds (optional), and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the coconut milk. Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until the soup has thickened to your liking.

Enjoy!

~Niki

Whats New

Theres something comforting about Fall coming around the corner. For me Fall is a time that represents new beginnings, goals, and fresh starts :)…it’s kind of like how starting a new school year feels. My fresh start will begin on September 5 when I return home from my journey full of traveling for 3 months~bittersweet


For now I’m in Turkey, Istanbul taking in the strong culture and new scenery. Today Spyros and I visited the Blue Mosque and Agia Sophia full of years of history and religion. We have also visited the Egyption Spice Market where they sale a plethora of spices along with nuts, dried fruits and traditional Turkish products. Here is a quick snap shot of Istanbul adventures so far!

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See you soon Iowa!

~Niki

Moussaka

I have finally made it to my dream island, Santorini. I felt like I was in a story book or in an imaginary doll house on the edge of the world waiting to wake up. Spyros and I went to random roof tops to sit and see the sunset where it felt like we were literally in the clouds because there were puffs of white surrounding us (we were touching them!)

Not only was the island incredibly dreamy, the food was great too. We went to a small restaurant called Aktaion a family owned restaurant from grandfather, father to son right by where we stayed in Firostefani, Santorini. It had amazing homemade traditional Greek dishes. This was one of the restaurants that was a quaint hole in the wall with food to die for. One word for this place: Moussaka. Their moussaka had the perfect amount of spices and was baked in a clay dish to add more flavor.

For those of you who are wondering what exactly this strange dish is it is a mouth watering combination of cinnamon spiced lamb and or ground beef mingling with thinly sliced eggplant topped with a delicious cream sauce (bechamel) and baked to a golden perfection. This is a dish I strive to perfect and test over and over until I get it just right. Test number 1 has been completed and tasted by Spyros and his brother..they said they approved but I want to get it just right!

moussaka 2Moussaka

santoriniDoll House

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Spyros and I the morning we got there

sunset in the clouds

Sunset while touching the clouds…. haha

Yasas!

~Niki

Dakos

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 In Greek: ντάκος, Dakos

I love it when I’m anxious about something and I can effortlessly pull together something amazing to eat. I get lost in the art of making Greek inspired recipes. When I can cook with ingredients that are in season and organic while creating something that nourishes people and brings a smile to their face- tada!🙂

Today dakos for lunch and tonight a Greek cooking class for dinner! Traveling has been so fun and eye opening. All of the different cultures amaze me and the various ways of living teaches me new concepts about how to live a healthy sustainable life. Greeks sure do things differently! From enjoying the small things in life to eating a healthy Mediterranean diet, Greeks do many things right (even though it may not seem like it with the current economic crisis ;))!

Dakos, delicious, healthy and a great representation of the Mediterranean diet, straight from Crete. It’s similar to the common bruchetta but definitely has its own personality. Dakos refers to a recipe that uses Cretan barley rusks (paximadi).

These rusks are traditionally made with barley flour (whole grain), salt and yeast. Barley contains soluble fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol. The tomato, olive oil and oregano are excellent sources of antioxidants. When you buy rusks from the market they are hard so you rinse them in a splash of water to soften them a bit. It is a rich source of fiber so this small bite fills you up!
 If you don’t have Cretan rusks you can substitute with thick whole grain bread that is toasted or left over from the night before. You can also crumble the rusks in salads. The recipe is fast and east, makes for a great appetizer as well!
Dakos
Serves: 4
4 round Cretan barley rusks or 4 thick slices whole grain bread, toasted
1 medium tomato chopped or grated
1/2 cup cottage cheese or crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup of olive oil
Dry oregano
Kalamata olives, optional
Instructions:
Quickly rinse the rusk under running water (skip this step if your using bread!!). It should still be crunchy but not too hard.Top with about 1 tablespoon cottage cheese or feta cheese. Sprinkle tomatoes on top, oregano, then olive oil and olives if desired.

Enjoy and Yasas!

~Niki

 

 

Weekly Highlights

I’m so excited to spend some time in my swim suit with the new friends I have met in Greece. Here are a few things I have done during my time in Greece along with what has caught my eye this week, many of which have been inspired from the amazing Greek culture I have had the opportunity to surround myself with~ Opa and happy forth!

 

 View from hotel in Poros, Greece~amazing

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Favorite cold treat~ light and healthy coconut frozen yogurt. It’s not hard to imagine the light and fresh taste, yet rich flavor of this yogurt from the photo alone. Via anjasfood4thought

Anja's Food 4 Thought: Coconut Frozen Yogurt

Exploring island of Poros on a 4-Wheeler with Spyros

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Cheers~ happ 4th Via julieblanner.com

Fourth of July or Memorial Day Party - switch blueberries out for cherries!

Lamb~ Greece is full of tasty lamb Via Donna Hay

char-grilled lamb shoulder with tomato and feta salad ❥

Whats in the News~ The banks in Greece have been closed for 5 days now. It’s hard to find an ATM that works and if we do the Greeks can only take up to 60 euro out a day. Difficult times but everything is fine for now. We will wait until the weekend to see what will happen next.

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Have a great 4th of July!

~Niki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastichio

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 Poros Greece
pastichio


 

There are few things in this life that I don’t have to think about. In terms of enjoyment thank goodness for those few things, right? By thinking I mean those things you have to dig away at in order to unpack it to make sense of something, it feels a bit forced. I don’t have to think about how to season a piece of meat the right way, my faith, what kind of food nourishes me, right VS wrong and risks to take. I do, however, have to think about algebra equations and scientific puzzles….sounds stupid?…oh well.

When I start over thinking what comes easiest to me I find I ruin it. Simplicity wins.

I have arrived in Athens, Greece where I will be living until September 5 traveling to various parts of Greece and Europe (above is a picture of Poros where we stayed last weekend on a small island). I asked myself after a couple weeks of being here, did I have to realllly think about moving here? No. I knew it was something I needed to do and wanted to do whether it turned out to be horrible or great. How did I know? I just knew I would’ve always looked back.

I’m hitting all of the hot spots I can during my travels. Pastichio, a Greek-style lasagna is one of the most popular foods made in Greece.

A warm creamy rush with rich bechamel sauce and nutty spices makes for the perfect authentic Greek dish to bring to your lips and melt in your mouth.

From family to family and generation to generation traditional Greek recipes are the BEST! Zoe (my boyfriend’s mom) taught me this one as we worked away in her kitchen at home. It’s full of life!

Zoe= life in Greek

What do you have to think about? What are your natural gifts God gave you to sharpen and what are your challenges?

Stay tuned for the pastichio recipe! ( I have to test the amounts to make sure you have the best recipe! Zoe knows her recipe by heart and what she does measure is by weight) …For the cooks who have to “think” about what they are doing stay tuned, otherwise simply create🙂

-Niki

 

A Lighter Kind of Stew

10922727_10152570129631820_2566253958061273120_n   1 pot. easy ingredients. new flavors.

I tried this a few nights ago, its now one of my top 5 favorites to make for my family. The flavors blend together~ its pure harmony! The main thing I like about this is its a switch up from your regular hearty beef stew that everyone loves to have in the winter. This goes great with winter weather and the summer heat.

Dear Guardian Angel, I believe in God’s time all wounds will be healed… I pray that he should remain in my heart and you, most loved guardian angel, will always be with me through all obstacles through all accomplishments and all of life’s journeys.

Chicken Stew in White Wine Sauce

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

*Try to purchase all ingredients organic🙂

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound chicken breasts

11/2 cups brussels sprouts

sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound baby potatoes, cut into 2 inch slices

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 sprigs thyme

2 tablespoons lemon juice

finely grated pecorino cheese, to serve

Instructions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; set aside.

Add brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, broth, wine and thyme; bring to a boil. Top with chicken and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender and brussels sprouts are cooked through but have a nice crunch. Add lemon juice and stir until combined. Top with cheese. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

~Niki