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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Crown Point, IN

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June 13, 2024

Refreshing Drink Recipes to Beat the Heat

As the summer sun reaches its peak, staying hydrated is more important than ever. But who says hydration has to be boring? Here are some simple recipe

June 6, 2024

Fun and Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, light, and delicious snacks that not only keep you cool but also pack a nutritional punch. Here are some fu

May 30, 2024

The Surprising Link Between Texting and Better Eating

Ever notice how you just feel a little lighter after a laugh with friends, or a heartfelt conversation with a loved one? These kinds of positive socia

May 22, 2024

Uncovering the Hidden Sweetness in Everyday Foods

(The following article was written for the December 2020 issue of Get Healthy magazine, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. I’m sharin

May 16, 2024

Mastering the Art of Cleaning Produce

Last week I promised that I’d offer some various ways to effectively clean your produce. Before preparing fruits and vegetables, wash your hands wel

May 9, 2024

Navigating Pesticides in Produce

To buy organic or conventional produce? That is the question of the day. Organic produce, by definition, is grown without synthetic pesticides, synthe

May 2, 2024

Diverse Protein Sources for a Healthier You

Last week I covered the topic of how much protein we need in a day and dispelled the idea that protein causes kidney damage. In case you missed it, he

April 25, 2024

Is Too Much Protein Dangerous?

Twenty-five years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about protein. After all, bodybuilders ate lots of it—and they experimented with all kinds of

April 18, 2024

The #1 Nutrition Principle

“Red wine is better than white wine!” “Kale is better than spinach!” “GRAINS ARE EVIL!!” Ever feel like good nutrition is just too complic

April 11, 2024

Angelos Update and Green Thumb Time

If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you may recall my weekly posts that were written comparing the size of my friend’s baby in utero

Rice Substitutes and Recipes

While rice is a staple food item around the world, there may be those occasions when a substitute is in order.

Whether you’re looking to have more variety, increase your protein, or decrease carbohydrate intake, there are a number of other options.

  1. Riced cauliflower. Not my favorite, however most everyone I know loves this stuff. You can buy it already riced in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores. You can also make your own by chopping a head of cauliflower into several pieces then grating them with a box grater. Sauté in a bit of extra virgin olive or avocado oil over medium heat until tender and lightly browned, then season to your liking. A ½ cup serving has only 13 calories compared with 100 calories for white rice. You also get the benefits of counting this as a vegetable serving. 
  2. Riced broccoli. Like it’s buddy cauliflower, broccoli can also be riced. Prepare the same way. I think I may like this alternative, since broccoli is one of my favorites. It adds eye appeal to your dinner plate, especially if you’re serving chicken or a white fish. ½ cup has about 15 calories and 2 grams of fiber.
  3. Quinoa. ½ cup of this offers 4 grams of complete protein and tastes like a grain. I recommend adding some fresh chopped vegetables and a simple dressing to make a side dish or even a main dish by adding chicken or beans. Serve it warm or chilled. I’ve tried eating it plain, like rice, and it’s a bit too dull for my liking. Quinoa is also gluten free. Click here for a quinoa salad recipe.
  4. Chopped cabbage. Another healthy vegetable alternative that’s low in carbs and calories. Choose purple or green, finely chop, sauté, and season. I’ve also cut it in ½” thin wedges, placed in a single layer on a pan, and roasted in the oven. Before roasting, season the cabbage with extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Bake for 30 minutes in a 400°F oven, or until it’s golden brown and forks tender.

Other possibilities include whole-wheat couscous (pasta), barley (grain), whole-wheat orzo (pasta), farro (whole grain wheat), and bulgur wheat (grain, commonly used in tabbouleh). The grains add a nutty, earthy taste and chewy texture to your dishes. The whole-wheat pastas contain fiber and protein.

If these, as well as unusual rice varieties, are not available in your local grocery, try online. 

As you can see by the photo, Mr. Non-Compliant and I enjoy a rice substitute (purple cabbage) as well as white rice. Lemon chicken took the stage with these sides.

Eating well must never be boring. I challenge you to experience a new (simple) food adventure in the coming week.

Much love,
Carol

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”—Anthony Bourdain

Brown vs. White vs. Wild Rice

Rice is a staple carbohydrate in our house. The big question when I serve rice as an accompaniment to a meal: which variety?

White rice actually starts out as brown rice.

A milling process removes the rice’s husk, bran, and germ, making it white. You’ve probably already guessed this: the process also removes most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

White rice is artificially fortified with nutrients and polished in order to look more appealing. Brown rice ranks higher in fiber, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium. The exact nutritional components will vary depending on the rice manufacturer.

Rice is probably the single most commonly eaten food in the world. It can be short, medium, or long grain. 

There are over 8,000 varieties of rice. Some of the more popular ones are Basmati, jasmine, arborio, sticky, red, and black.

Rice in its natural form is gluten free. This includes sticky or “glutinous rice,” as this term merely refers to the stickiness of the rice.

White rice has a higher glycemic index, which means its carbs convert more quickly into blood sugar than brown rice.

Brown rice should be kept in an airtight container in a dark, dry cupboard for up to three months, or in the fridge for up to six months. It can become rancid more rapidly due to the presence of the oil-rich germ, not found in processed white rice.

White rice is more stable and may be kept in an airtight container in a dry, dark area such as a cupboard for up to a year.

Rinsing rice before cooking removes its starchy coating, helps prevent sticking and clumping, and gives it a fresh and clean taste.

Once rice is cooked, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Wild rice is a semi-aquatic grass that grows in water, such as lakes, rivers and bays, between two and four feet deep, and is technically not a rice. It’s slightly higher in protein than most whole grains and is a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium and a slew of other beneficial nutrients.

Wild rice has a durable storage time. If you keep it an airtight jar, it stays fresh. Keep it in a dry place in a cool environment. Rinse thoroughly before cooking.

It’s commonly mixed with other rices due to its high price.   

The downside. The rice plant accumulates more arsenic than most other food crops. This becomes a problem where soil or water sources are contaminated with arsenic.

High intake of arsenic can cause a variety of health problems. Varieties that contain lower amounts are jasmine, basmati, as well as rice grown in the Himalayan region.

Additionally, arsenic tends to accumulate in the bran. As a result, brown rice contains higher amounts of arsenic than white rice.

The bottom line: vary your diet and choose varieties lower in arsenic.

 Stay tuned for next week’s blog on some substitutes for rice.

Much love,
Carol

“If you give me rice, I’ll eat today; if you teach me how to grow rice, I’ll eat every day.”—Mahatma Gandhi

Best Brownies and Bad Berries

First topic: Bad Berries

We have some trees in our yard that currently produce small, purple, inedible berries. They’re a nuisance.

The birds eat them. Consequently, our brick patio has lots of evidence that this occurs.

During these delightful summer days, I often use our backyard patio as my office. It’s secluded and is a great spot for working and writing.

As I was typing out the Best Brownie recipe, after having cleaned off my outdoor “desk” of all the purple droppings, I got splattered with more purple bird poop as it hit the table.

REALLY?

Go ahead and laugh. It wasn’t even 5 minutes after having completed my cleaning that this incident occurred.

At least it didn’t land in my hair, which is the WORST. I know this from personal experience.

Isn’t it lucky or something when a bird poops on your head?

Or something. It’s a nasty mess. A similar event happened to my friend Dave as we were on our way to take a pharmacy final back in our college days. His textbook got nailed. 

Keep in mind that lots of other “good” berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, are in their peak season and offer lots of nutritional and health benefits. They’re low in natural sugars and wonderful any way you choose to enjoy them.

Second Topic: Best Brownies

I’ve uploaded this recipe and thought it’d be fun to give you some background info on why these brownies may not be as “bad” as you think.   

To be clear, just because a food is gluten or dairy-free does not mean it offers any real nutritional value. GF, DF junk food is still junk food.

These brownies fall under the category of “if you’re going to eat something that does not serve your heath, it had better be AMAZING!”   

These are.

And here’s a look at why they’re a bit “better” (health wise) than other alternatives, such as store or bakery bought versions.

  • When you make a treat at home, you’re omitting the chemicals and preservatives.
  • I use organic ingredients whenever possible in order to minimize additional chemicals.
  • I’ve altered the original recipe, reducing the sugar by 10%, and also cutting the amount of chocolate chips. You could omit the chips to cut down on even more sugar.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is full of health benefits, and no one will know that you’ve used olive oil—at least I’ve never had anyone tell me that the brownies reminded them of eating olives.
  • For those who are on a gluten and dairy-free regimen, these are miraculously delicious. Of course, you could use regular flour and your favorite brand of chocolate chips if you are not one of those people.
  • Cacao vs. Cocoa. Cacao is minimally processed, containing an abundance of minerals. Dutch-process cocoa has been treated with an alkaline solution to reduce its acidity. This takes away the bitter edge off the cacao bean and also decreases health benefits. They can be used interchangeably in recipes.
  • I cut these into fairly small pieces, so that I can have more than one and still eat less. It’s a psychological thing. The original recipe yields 16 brownies. I may get 24 or so. Also, they live in my freezer so that it’s a more conscious decision for me to have a treat.     

Click here for The Best Dark Fudgy Brownies.         

Wishing you a delightful summer weekend.

Much love,
Carol

“I’ve learned that you know your husband still loves you when there are two brownies left and he takes the smaller one.”—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

The Best Dark Fudgy Brownies

The Best Dark Fudgy Brownies
(That happen to be gluten and dairy-free)                 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2/3 cup cacao powder or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I like Namaste or King Arthur brands)
  • ½ cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil/grease an 8” or 9” square pan. Whisk together cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder, flour, and chips. Stir in eggs, oil, and water. Mix until well blended. Using a rubber scraper, scoop the mixture into pan, smoothing the top. Bake brownies for 45 minutes (for 8” pan) or 35 minutes (for 9” pan), until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool on a rack for about 1 hour before slicing.

If using a glass pan, reduce baking temperature to 325°F and bake 5-10 minutes less.