March 25, 2009

We're moving folks. Pack your RSS feeds and let's go! There's a free giveaway on the other side.

That's right, this is the last post for What Does Your Body Good. The site has been quite a happy success for me in the past year and a half as I've gone from newbie blogger and health-curious to actually creating a new life and business for myself. So, to celebrate we've undergone a huge makeover and name change – I hope you'll follow us to

When you get on over there you'll find out about my first blogger giveaway – a free Kripalu cookbook. Woohooo let's go people I've been working hard on this new site for ages :-)

March 23, 2009

Easy Peasey Breakfast Bars and a blogger meetup

There are a lot of great recipes out there, but the ones that have me running to the kitchen are those that have only a handful of ingredients. The recipes that are "I can make this right now" kind of easy.

So it's about time I brought you one of those, since my last recipe (though delicious) had an ingredient list to beat the band.

Today's breakfast bars are (very) inspired by these Banana Nut Bites, which were brought to my attention by Kristen at Food Renegade. The only change I made was to replace some of the nuts with seeds and oats, in the interest of saving money, and added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Ready? I think it will take me longer to type this than it will for you to prepare the batter:

Easy Peasey Breakfast Bars
2 ripe bananas
1 cup nuts (i used almonds)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened, dried coconut
2 eggs
(optional: raisins or other dried fruit)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor, spin nuts and seeds down to a powder. Add oats and coconut, blend. Finally add bananas (and dried fruit if you are using, which I didn't).
3. Mix in eggs. Blend well.
4. Pour mixture into greased pie plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool, then slice into bars.

These aren't particularly sweet or rich, but they are a satisfying way to start the day or good for a treat. Far better than buying power bars, the nuts and eggs in this recipe provide a good amount of protein. And for anyone with a gluten intolerance, using nuts/seeds in place of oats is the way to go.

So, aside from cooking up some breakfast bars and continuing to work on my new website (totally under construction but you can sneak peek it here), I spent some time last week with fellow blogger, NAOmni of Not Another Omnivore. She was visiting Boston so we hung out and traded secret nutrition tips. Not really. Actually, NAOmni was kind enough to spend an hour with me completing a health history consultation. It was neat to talk to someone in person after so many blog posts and comments between us! We even took a picture:

For any of you out there who are interested in the idea of holistic health counseling, I encourage you to get in touch because I do most of my work with a magical voice-throwing device. Over the phone, that is. A free initial health history consultation could be the first step towards feeling all sunshine and rainbows in your life and achieving some health goals. If you'd like to sign up for a time slot, send an email to

March 18, 2009

It's ALL vegetable, baby

It's been one heck of a busy but awesome week. For not working, I sure am working a lot. I'm starting up my business officially as Find Your Balance Health Counseling and Yoga. Like I mentioned before, the site will be up soon but until then all my blog posts will remain here on Blogger. (Conveniently, because you are already here.) And at the end of this post there is an invitation for all of you in the Boston area to come to my new Sunday Cooking Club and some info about an awesome yoga retreat with my friend Lauren.

Despite all the work, I've made time to cook. Max really loved these burgers, declaring them the best thing I ever made. Wait, what? What about my homemade raviolis? My soups, my cookies? Well, I have to agree these were amazing. I ran across the recipe on Gourmet magazine's website, but of course changed a few things to keep costs down.

The biggest change I made was to serve the patties over whole rye instead of sandwiching on rye bread. Call me crazy but it worked out great, and sauerkraut was a perfect match to round out the meal. You might look at this and say, "Hey Michelle, Miss Health Counselor, where's the vegetable?" And I will tell you, it's ALL vegetable, baby.

Mushroom Kasha Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise
adapted from Gourmet Magazine
For rye:
2 cups whole rye kernels
4 cups water
1 sheet nori, finely cut with scissors
olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tamari and S+P to taste

For burgers:
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup coarse kasha (whole roasted buckwheat groats)
8 oz portabella mushrooms, including stems
24 oz. white mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon tamari
1 and 1/2 cups panko or breadcrumbs, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup ghee, butter or olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Tabasco chipotle sauce, or any spicy sauce you have
1 cup sauerkraut

1. Optional but recommended: Soak rye in a bowl of water overnight with a splash of vinegar. Drain and rinse before cooking.

2. Add rye to a pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 1 hour. While you wait, prepare the burgers.

3. Bring water to a boil in small pot, then stir in kasha. Cover and reduce heat to low, then cook until kasha is tender and water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

4. Break mushrooms/portabellas into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, then transfer to a bowl. You may want to do this in batches.

5. Cook onion and red cabbage in butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 min. Add chopped mushroom mixture, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until any liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, then stir in kasha, parsley, tamari, and 1/2 cup panko. Mix well. Cool 10 minutes, then stir in egg until combined.

6. Get a cookie sheet ready. Put remaining 1 cup bread crumbs in a shallow bowl.

7. Form mushroom mixture into a 3/4-inch-thick patties (3 1/2 inches in diameter), then dredge in panko, knocking off excess, and transfer to cookie sheet. Chill patties in refrigerator for about 1 hour.

8. Heat ghee in cleaned skillet over medium-high heat, then fry patties, turning over once, until deep golden, about 4 minutes total. (You can also use oil but I prefer ghee which has a higher smoking point and creates less drama with the fire alarm). Carefully transfer patties to dishes or a platter. They will be soft, but if they crumble its ok, they still taste good!

7. Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise and chipotle sauce. Add oil, vinegars and seasoning to the rye once it's done cooking and stir well. Serve burgers over rye with chipotle mayo on top and sauerkraut on the side.
Serves about 4.

Ok, onto the invitation for all of you in the Boston area! I am going to start hosting a Sunday Cooking Club, held once per month. The upcoming dates are April 5th and May 3rd. If you are interested check out

And you are all invited to check out my friend Lauren's yoga retreat for June 25th - June 28th. It will be held in New Hampshire at Newfound Lake. If you'd like more details see her website or contact Lauren at

March 14, 2009

Six hours to simmer and other benefits of unemployment

Some amazing things are happening. I wake up easily. I'm not craving snacks. Doors of opportunity are opening. Unicorns are appearing in my living room. Ok, not that last one. But seriously, since my last post things are really going unexpectedly awesome.

A few days ago I was able to attend a meeting of a local group called Medford Health Matters. Since the meeting was midweek I was only able to attend because I didn't have to go to work! It was great to interact with real people trying their damndest to make a difference in the town they live in. (A far cry from the fancy 20th floor conference room meetings in my old advertising job about the best way to make a product sound healthy without actually making health claims because they aren't true.)

The group seemed authentically happy to have me there and we are working on ways to collaborate and bring some whole body health programs to our town. We met in a community center that was only a 5 minute walk from my house. I had never even known it was there! I met the guy who runs the center and now we are talking about me teaching a yoga class at the center.

Finally I am happy to announce that I think I have found my very first health counseling client! Hopefully we will start working together next week. I'm grateful to have more time in my day to focus on this and go through all the steps for the first time.

Ok, I'm ready. Where are the unicorns? I feel like anything could happen next.

But let's get to the talk about food, shall we? One of the other awesome things about not working 9-5 is I was able to use a lamb bone in the freezer to make some truly amazing soup, pictured above. I had no idea what I was doing and it turned out to be perhaps the tastiest soup I've ever eaten.

But where'd I get that lamb bone? I actually bought meat, yes, 1.25 lbs. of bone-in lamb the other week. Max and I made an Indian style stew with the meat and then of course the bone got put to good use. Both were excellent recipes, so read on:

Subz Gosht
This apparently means 'lamb with onions, tomatoes, yogurt and veggies' in Indian. I doubled the recipe and am giving you the big doubled version here. But instead of doubling the amount of lamb (At $9/lb.? No way!) I added lentils. For the lamb and all ingredients please use the best quality, sustainably farmed, organic options you can find and afford.

3 Tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or more for more spice
1" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 onions, chopped fine
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbl. curry powder
1" fresh turmeric root, peeled and minced (or use powdered)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1.25 lbs. bone-in lamb, cubed (keep the bone in the freezer for future use)
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups butternut squash, chopped small
2 carrots, chopped small
20 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces
4 potatoes, cut into 2" chunks
10 oz. sliced white mushrooms
1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in large stock pot over med-high heat. Add cumin, red pepper, garlic and ginger. Saute for 30 seconds then add onions. Saute, stirring, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add yogurt and stir continuously for another 5 minutes.
2. Add the salt, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute then add lamb cubes and cook in sauce for 10 minutes. Add all veggies, lentils and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1.5-2 hours. Mix in lemon juice and cilantro.
Serves 8ish. Tastes even better the next day!

Approx. cost per serving: $3.15

Michelle's Homemade Lamb Broth Soup
Making broth from animal bones is a great way to get minerals like calcium. The longer the soup simmers, the more nutrients will swim out into your broth.

1 Tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 onion, quartered
12 cups water
5 carrots, chopped into fourths
4 red potatoes, cubed
1 lamb bone or any odd animal bone/part
2 Tbl. sea salt
2 cups red cabbage, chopped fine
2 whole garlic cloves
3 cups arugula leaves and stems, chopped roughly

1. In large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and red pepper and cook until onions start to turn translucent.
2. Add water, bone, carrots and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn heat very low and cover. Simmer for as long as you've got – I did 5 hours.
3. Then add cabbage, potatoes and garlic cloves. Simmer another hour.
4. Add arugula and mix, the leaves will wilt instantly.
Serves 8ish.
Approx. cost per serving: $0.65

March 11, 2009

It's apples to apples and an announcement

As if all apples are created equal! Please. I think we all know a thing or two about organic produce vs. conventionally grown stuff.

For starters, pesticides and chemical fertilizers. These are no good for us or for the environment. Here's something interesting: google "umbilical pesticides." Scary, no? What else...hmmm...what about genetically modified foods? The most common GMOs are corn and soybeans but GM versions of other foods exist for sure. Check out this handy chart.

In response to CulinaryWannabe's recent comment on this post I am very intrigued by The Environmental Working Group's new guide to buying fruits and veggies. Here is a downloadable PDF you can keep in your purse to remind you of what produce is best bought organic, and which are ok to buy conventional if you have to. Thanks to Marion Nestle at Food Politics for this link!

I am going to print this puppy out and take it with me next time to the store. It's a great way to know where to cut a few pennies, like maybe go ahead and buy the cheaper, conventionally grown broccoli if it makes sense for you.

Related to saving money, I am happy to share that I will soon be spending a lot more time focusing on health counseling, cooking and yoga because I was laid off from my job in advertising yesterday. It's never easy to lose a job but in this case I think it's a blessing. There's so much I want to do in this field...I'm off to the kitchen right now to start a new recipe...! And now's as good a time as any to announce that I will soon be moving this blog over to a wordpress platform and new business site. This is just a warning that's it's coming soon but when it's ready I will make it abundantly clear to change your RSS and email subscriptions. I LOVE the community that has begun to grow here, so I hope you all join me for the next leg of the journey :-)

March 10, 2009

I like cookies for breakfast

I like cookies for breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunchtime treat, before dinner snack, dessert with tea...

It's a problem.

After a long bus ride down to NYC last weekend I wanted a little something and ended up eating a cookie from Starbucks. I wish I hadn't. Sugar before bed stinks and I'm convinced that it's the white/cornsyrupy sugar things that make my gums flare up. I've got these gums that just want to recede and I don't know why. Sometimes they get all red and pissed off, threatening their retreat. Have you ever had a gum graft done? I'd like to avoid this in the future. Send me your gum-health secrets. Um, if those exist?

But I digress.

After my moderate success with christmas baking and the more recent Apple Clusters, I've decided a good cookbook I should write someday will be called Cookies for Breakfast. And all the recipes would be healthy enough that you could eat 'em first thing in the morning and not feel too guilty. What do you think?

If I'm going to make cookies into a food group, they'd better be healthy. So this version uses whole grains AND whole grain flour, fruit AND vegetables. Whoa.

Sweet Potato, Apple and Banana Cookies
1/4 cup millet
3 Tbl. butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
3/4 cup Sweet Potato Apple Spread
(see recipe within this post)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. ground flax seed
1 banana, sliced fine
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Add 1 cup of water to millet in a small saucepan. (Why don't recipes ever say "in a pot"? It's always a "saucepan") Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer until millet has absorbed all the water, about 15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl combine all wet ingredients. Add flour 1 cup at a time, then baking powder, flax and salt. Mix to combine. Fold in banana, raisins and choc chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until browned.

March 06, 2009

Whole Foods, not whole wallet

Time and time again I hear the same story: "I want to shop at Whole Foods [or other health food grocery store] but it's too expensive."

Let me start by saying this: Food Should Cost Money. The only thing in your life more important than food is water. Not TVs, not cars, not even heating your home. Not even that cute little dress in the catalog that came in the mail yesterday. The one with the V-neck and shirring... wait... No. Food and water.

Ok, so I understand the shopping dilemma. Milk and Cheerios at the conventional grocery store cost less than their counterparts at Whole Foods. But what if it's more about shopping habits than the store you happen to shop in? When you really start to shop smart you'll find that it is the conventional grocery stores that cost you more. The photo above is a week's worth of food for Max and I from Whole Foods. It was actually a big shopping week: $75. I don't usually buy a bottle of organic olive oil, or boxed cereal, or meat. (The week before was just $35.)

So start planning, sista
This is maybe the most important step to eating well/spending less. Before you hit the store, decide what you are going to cook and make a list of things you need to buy. Do this in your kitchen so if a recipe calls for garlic you can look and see if you already have enough. And this is a great point – make your meal plan around things you already have in the house and you will need to buy much less. And learn from my mistakes...the list only works if you remember to bring it to the store! This photo is last week's grocery list. Luckily, it doesn't have to be pretty.

Spinach or arugula? Who cares?

Let's say your handy list says to buy a bunch of spinach. But at the store, arugula is on sale for half the price of spinach. Buy the arugula. I'm betting that the recipe will turn out just fine and you'll save a few bucks. You may even find yourself getting more creative and eating new foods this way. Don't be afraid to be flexible and creative with your plan. If you REALLY think ahead you can create meal plans based on your store's weekly sales. Then you are a money saving ninja!

Ditch some nice-to-haves
Last week I bought meat for the first time in a very, very long time. Meat is expensive. Buy less and save money. But this week I decided it was a must have. That means other things became less important: crackers, cookies, or that yummy tea. Those were nice-to-haves that I didn't absolutely need. So I got the meat, but it meant sacrificing a few other things. Makes sense, right? Audit your shopping cart as you go.

Buy less. Duh.
I used to buy a lot of fruit because I wanted to eat more fruit. But over the course of the week I'd forget to eat it, or ultimately go for the cookies instead. The fruit would go bad. That is not money well spent. Now I buy less fruit and if we run out, I buy some more.

I love bulk, unless it's my thighs
Now here's an example of why you might choose to shop at Whole Foods or another health food store. The bulk section is amazing. Instead of spending $8 on a whole bottle of dried tarragon, I can just buy the 1 tsp. I need. Forget buying more because you might need it later. Unless it's a staple item just buy the amount you need NOW.

And now the obvious stuff...
Well, at least I think it's fairly obvious: buy the store brand whenever possible, buy more fresh ingredients and less processed or prepared food, and don't shop when you are hungry!

So why do conventional grocery stores actually cost more? Well, when you are shopping for healthy food at the A&P you will be lucky to find it. Say, whole wheat flour. And when you do find it, they will probably only have one brand and one size. So immediately you are going to buy a more expensive brand and way more quantity than you need. So the overspending begins...

Let's go back to our original example of milk and Cheerios. If you follow the guidelines here, you'll buy organic milk and spare your body the hormone and antibiotic additives. Instead of a processed food like Cheerios you'll buy organic rolled oats in the bulk section for half the price. In the end your spending the same amount of money on much, much better food choices. Happy Shopping!

Need some frugal recipes? Try these:
Six Veggie Salsa
Taco Style "It's Just Like Hummus"
World's Most Flexible Chili Recipe

This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet's Frugal Recipes Carnival.