Easy, healthy popcorn

Microwave popcorn is so 80s. And it’s not good for you. At all.

  • #1 on Shape’s list of 50 foods that seem good for you, but aren’t
  • The coating in the bag contains a number of dangerous chemicals that cause “popcorn lung” or bronchitis obliterans. Yikes! (see AARP, Care2, Discovery Health)

You could pop your popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave. Or, you could go old-school and pop it on the stove. It doesn’t take much longer, and you’re more involved in the process and that happiness gets cooked right into your snack. Here’s how we do it:

popcorn

1. Add some coconut oil (just enough to cover the bottom) to a pot and let it get really hot. Medium heat for about 2 minutes.

popcorn

2. Add 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels. Cover and let it pop! After a few minutes, you might shake the pot a little to move the kernels around.

3. Let it pop for a few minutes, until the space between the pops gets longer and longer. (Don’t take the lid off!) As you shake it, you can hear how many kernels are left. When you feel like you’re down to the duds, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and snack!

http://shop.angiespopcorn.com/img/products/akc-000109.jpg

It’s that easy!

It’s healthier than microwave popcorn, and you can choose your flavors, including butter flavor!

Now, I’ve been super jealous of the Holidrizzle Chocolate Peppermint Kettle Corn popcorn at all the stores, so I decided to make my own with some leftover peppermint candies. (This one has dairy and palm oil, so it’s off the list.)

1. I made some popcorn according to the above directions. Then, I moved all the popcorn to a bowl and added about 1 TBSP of coconut oil to the pan.

popcorn

2. I ground the peppermint candies in the food processor until they were very small. (I should have ground a little more, but it’s ok.)

popcorn

3. I added the candy grounds to the pot and stirred. Then, I added the popcorn and stirred to coat.

popcorn

It turned out great! The secret is to let the candies get a little melty. Then, they stuck to the popcorn. (Call it a dentist’s nightmare.) It’s not a healthy snack, but it’s not too bad, and I know I can make it myself.

Next time, I might try White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn by Simply Scratch.

Choose your words carefully

Words.When you’re trying to be healthier, you often choose to eliminate certain foods from your diet. To empower yourself and stay motivated, choose your words wisely.

Instead of saying “I can’t eat that,” you can say “I don’t eat that.”

Saying “don’t” instead of “can’t” shows that you made a conscious choice to remove gluten or sugar or meat/dairy from your diet. It puts you in charge. Saying “can’t” indicates that the choice wasn’t yours and that you’re forced to resist those tempting foods. It shows people (and reminds yourself) that you have made a decision to be healthier.

While it can sound a little snooty to say “I don’t eat sugar,” your tone can convey both confidence and caring when you explain that you don’t eat sugar because you don’t like the unnatural spike and crash it causes. You might be able to explain some of your natural substitutes that allow you to give yourself the sweet flavor you love in a healthier way.

How else can words empower you to stick to your goals?

How to survive the holidays

Imogen Ornament

The holiday season begins this week. It’s a stressful time for so many, so I wanted to share some little tips I’ve learned over the years to reduce stress and make the days enjoyable.

Ask for help

My introversion turns into a bit of social anxiety that really ramps up over the holidays, especially if I think about it. (The Law of Attraction is at work here, so I’m trying to envision a happy, peaceful holiday season.) A few years ago, I found the solution. If I simply ask my husband for help and support, he does! It’s like magic!

If your family is willing to help cook, let them. It will give them a sense of pride and investment in the meal, and will relieve the stress from the chef.

Imogen Ornament

Give yourself a break

My friend said she struggles with the frozen turkey every year. I can’t imagine what that’s like, but I know that the preparation takes her away from the things she enjoys on Thanksgiving day. So this year, she’s buying a fresh turkey. It’s more expensive, but she has decided that she’s worth it. So true! Whatever your dreaded task is, think about if there’s another option that would make your day less stressful and try it.

Lower your expectations

Most of us get stressed or let down around the holidays because have a vision in our heads of how things should be. Just live in the moment and don’t expect everything to be perfect. Your guests won’t know the difference if you don’t tell them that you were going to use the new red table cloth but it has a hole in it all of a sudden, so you had to use last year’s gold table cloth. That’s not a tragedy. This year, focus on the family and friends and just try to enjoy your time with them without expecting so much from yourself.

Thanksgiving Football 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Go outside

Schedule some time out of the house to get away from it all. Maybe you go to a movie with friends, or take a yoga class. Treat yourself to some “me” time. You will return to your family refreshed and happy and ready to enjoy their company again. Try it.

Serving people with food sensitivities

Gluten and dairy allergies are more prevalent now than in years past. How do you serve your gluten-free or vegan guests? Let them help! In Johnna’s Kitchen has some other really great tips; my favorite is to let us bring food to the feast. Chances are, we love cooking and are excited to share our favorite dish. And we know we’ll have something to eat.

What are your tips for surviving the holidays?

Choose organic!

Organic has a bad reputation for being more expensive than conventionally (or GMO) grown food. It’s just not true! For example, the organic coconut milk costs the same as the non-organic at Krieger. So, keep and open mind and compare prices. You might find a better deal in the organic aisle!

Choose organic

Coconut milk is a great healthy fat to add to smoothies. You can also make whipped cream!

Related: I really think it should cost more money to put chemicals and pesticides into our food than it does to grow them without. Check out what our local CSA has to do to qualify for organic certification. Why do they have to pay more to prove they are doing good?

The Flaming Ice Cube

Terra's Birthday, 2012

A student in my office had been enthusiastically recommending the Flaming Ice Cube for weeks, so we decided to enjoy my birthday lunch at their Cleveland location.

The Flaming Ice Cube is a vegan restaurant in Cleveland’s Public Square, with another location Boardman. Mister had the TLT (Tempeh, Lettuce, and Tomato), while I had the Hula Burger. Both sandwiches came with a pickle and a side dish. It was all delicious! The Hula Burger featured grilled pineapples that really made it special. My side dish was an apples and barley salad, while he had the black bean salsa (not spicy). I didn’t love the hot chocolate (it’s hard to beat my Dark Chocolate Almond Milk), but the chocolate peanut butter bar I grabbed for dessert kept me going through the afternoon. The menu has such variety, and it’s so refreshing to know that we can eat anything we want!

Lunch at the Flaming Ice Cube

The Flaming Ice Cube was was written up in VegNews magazine as having the fourth best veggie burger in the country!

I would definitely recommend The Flaming Ice Cube to both vegans and non. The food is so delicious and interesting. (And it doesn’t taste too healthy.) Check out their menu… I’m sure you’ll find something!

The Flaming Ice Cube

Cold remedies

It’s cold and flu season, but *crossing fingers* I rarely catch the affliction. Here are my secrets.

Prevention

water

Aside from eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins, I do these things every day to prevent colds, the flu, and headaches:

  • Garlic pill. It’s odorless and is my sure-fire, fail-safe cold prevention. I never miss a day!
  • Netipot. I got a new netipot for my birthday. Love it! I do the netipot every day during spring and fall.
  • Drink lots of water and tea. Lots.
  • Nettle tea. If you’ve got allergies, drink nettle tea.
  • Wash hands often. And protect your skin with a good moisturizer.
  • Use essential oils like peppermint to clear sinuses and prevent headaches.

Remedy

If I start to feel like a cold is coming on, or I’ve been near sick people, I do these things, even if I’m not sick.

  • Continue with the prevention tactics.
  • Get extra sleep.
  • Eat lentil or split pea soup. Load up on the protein, naturally.
  • Drink pure pomegranate juice. Hint: mix pomegranate juice with Dark Chocolate Almond Milk by Silk for a tootsie-roll pop beverage. You get super antioxidants and protein in this yummy drink. (this does NOT work with cranberry juice)
  • Drink even more water and tea.
  • Put some peppermint oil or Vics vaporub on the bottom of your feet when you go to bed.
  • In addition to garlic, take a zinc supplement.
  • Many people use oregano oil to ward off sickness, but I haven’t tried it.

What is your favorite cold prevention or remedy?

Hurricane Sandy comes to Ohio

And Hurricane Ohio Edison comes to my backyard.

We don’t normally get hurricanes in Ohio. But, as we continue to resist the realities of climate change, extreme weather and severe storms have become more common. After Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast, she headed west through Pennsylvania and Ohio. I was going to tell the whole drawn-out story, but I’ll sum it up quickly like this: a neighbor’s tree fell perfectly into the V of another tree, but was hanging precariously over some power lines. So, the power company sent some contractors to take care of the tree. That didn’t solve the problem – destroying nature rarely does – so Ohio Edison came and hacked through our yard once again. Power was restored late Wednesday night. We’re still not sure what the trellis had to do with anything, but we’re all glad the tree didn’t fall in any other direction. It would have hit someone’s house, or greenhouse, or fence.

Terra's Birthday, 2012

This is just the top. The bulk of the tree is along the fence.

At first, it’s kind of fun to dig out the wind-up flashlights and find your way around the house in the dark. By the second night, it’s just boring. Then, the fridge starts smelling funny. We felt very cut off from the world. Now that we’re back, I feel moved to give.

Hey, if you are wearing clean and warm undies right now, give some money to the Red Cross today and pay it forward!  - Paula Pell

One thing I tried to learn from the situation is that the garden was destroyed whether I was sad, angry, or indifferent. It did me no good to be unhappy or happy. The yard won’t get cleaned up if I’m moping. So for me, it’s best to just accept the reality of the situation and get to work. Others faced much greater devastation, and their journey is more difficult, but the best we can do is accept the situation and help each other.

I hope you’re safe!

Things I love lately

fallI love fall, of course. Oranges and browns are in. It’s jacket weather. And boots! Fall is the perfect time to enjoy walks outside, and then come home to warm apple cider and snuggle in for a movie.

Some other things I love lately…

Ginger tea

When I landed in Prague this spring, my friend made me the best ginger tea. It was just sliced ginger root in boiling water with honey. It was so warming and spicy-sweet. Lately, I’ve been looking at the Ayurveda tradition, and one recommendation is for my body type to drink ginger tea. Ok! I’ve been making a mug of ginger tea the same way in the morning. It reminds me of Prague and it’s good for me too. Ginger has so many benefits, from digestive to muscular, and possibly preventing cancer and cholesterol. I just love the taste, so I’ll take the other benefits as a bonus.

Fit in Five workouts

While my (near) daily yoga routine is fantastic, it’s also important to have a little variety. So, as much as it hurts, I’m trying to change my workout at little. I got the Zombies, Run! 5k app last week for only $4 and it was so fun! Seriously awesome. But, it’s too dark to run from zombies in the morning, so I’m doing the Fit in Five workouts with Joel Harper. They’re a great way to wake up before yoga, or to get my body moving in the morning. And they’re only 5 minutes. We all have 5 minutes, right?

Pumpkin

My husband and I just love getting fresh pie pumpkins in the fall and roasting them in the oven. Our pumpkins come from Amish country, and they just feel better than canned, you know? We’ve made pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin dip, pumpkin balls, pumpkin smoothies. You name it, we’ve pumpkin-ed it. And pumpkin is really good for you. Pumpkin seeds have iron, and the pumpkin itself has antioxidants, B vitamins, flavonoids, and minerals. What’s your favorite pumpkin dish?

My favorite recipes of the month

This guy

English Bulldog puppy! What is he talking about?

We can solve it

Have you seen this ad on tv? I almost fell off the couch in shock, when I saw these two sitting together, agreeing to do something about climate change. It’s easy to do, it’ll save us all a lot of money, we’ll have a cleaner planet (who likes smog?), and we’ll help the environment. Here’s the ad with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson.

Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich have also come together to tackle climate change (or talk about it, at least). It’s a wise move. While the videos won’t solve anything, they show that we can work together to make this a human issue, not a political issue. It’s something we can all agree on.

Green jobs are American jobs. You can’t outsource solar panel installation. If we don’t innovate soon, we’ll be buying “green” technology from our international competitors forever. That situation isn’t beneficial for anyone. We’ve got to start creating renewable energy technology. Oil is not the answer. Drilling in Alaska won’t help – that oil won’t be available for more than 10 years. Geothermal and biodiesel (from used vegetable oil – not food crops!) are available now, and they’re renewable.

It’s time people look past politics, toward the future. It’s only a political issue if we make it one. We’ve got to take this issue back and make it cooperative. Don’t let the politicians control the dialogue. We, as consumers, have to come together and do what’s best for our health and our planet.

Even if you dispute the science, don’t you want cleaner air? Cheaper power?

It’s about taking responsibility, not laying blame.

Let’s create a better life for everyone.

We can solve it. Ok, they changed their name to Climate Reality. I wrote this a few years ago, but it’s still relevant and impressive. And Climate Reality has a new project that will address Dirty Weather (caused by dirty fossil fuels) on Nov. 14, so check it out and see how you can get involved.