Monday, April 26, 2010

Tosca Reno on Good Morning America

If you missed Tosca's appearance on Good Morning America this morning, be sure to check out the interview here and her super yummy recipes here. Tosca was warm, vibrant and overall fabulous, as always. She has that je ne sais quoi! Congrats, Tosca, on an amazing interview that truly represents the Eat Clean mission.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pregnancy Diet Changes

A lot of people ask me how pregnancy has impacted what I eat - Do I have crazy cravings? Is my appetite insatiable? Do I eat things that I did not pre-pregnancy? 

Overall, I have not made any significant changes to my eating habits. Yes, sometimes I do tend to indulge a bit more than I did pre-pregnancy - i.e. chocolate, dessert, fancy brunches, etc. However, I think that has more to do with a change in mindset from pre-pregnancy trying to loose fat/build muscle to trying to maintain a healthy weight throughout my pregnancy. The following are some of the changes that I have made to keep myself healthy during pregnancy and ensure that my little one receives the best nutrition possible: 
  • Eat when I am hungry - usually 5-7 small meals per day consisting of protein, fruits & veggies, complex carbs and healthy fats
  • Add more complex carbs to my diet - 4-5 servings per day during pregnancy, compared to 2-3 servings pre-pregnancy
  • Enjoy more organic produce and meats rather than conventional options
  • Eat a wider variety of produce and meats
  • Add more plant-based fats to my diet, including coconut oil and butter
  • Eat at home more frequently while making very healthy choices when away from home
One thing that I have been craving recently is crudites with Cayenne Tahini Dressing from Kristen's Raw. This yummy, creamy, and spicy dressing is perfect when paired with cucumbers, red pepper and baby carrots.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Fever: Spring Has Sprung!

The Minnesota winters are so long (Oct-Mar) that by the time April rolls around and the weather starts to get nice (50°-60° daily highs), I long for fresh farmer's market produce, perfectly grilled meats, blooming flowers, green grass, trees with leaves, and warm, sunny summer evenings biking with Allan. It's days like today that bring me back to reality. In typical Minnesota Spring fashion, it is rainy and 53°. Quite a shock from the above average sunny weather that we have been experiencing lately - one day last week it topped out above 80°!

As many of my longtime followers know, one of my favorite pastimes is biking with Allan. We spent a fair amount of last Spring and Summer on our bikes. Since most morning lows have been in the 40°s, Allan has begun commuting by bike to work, which made me yearn to feel the wind on my face. However, being the cautionary pregnant mama that I am, I figured it would be best to ask before riding down the parkway with AP. At my last midwife appointment, I was told that even though I could physically handle biking, it was probably not a good idea because if something happened and I fell off of the bike or hit my pregnant belly on the handlebars it could do some pretty significant damage to my little one. So, the Trek Lime will just have to wait until June to come out of storage.

One of the other Spring activities that I get really excited about is the annual Spring opening of the many local Farmer's Markets. My favorite Farmer's Market, the Eagan Market Fest, does not open until June; however, there are several Farmer's Markets that open the first week of May with cold-weather crops like asparagus, onions, spinach and rhubarb. A handful of the Farmer's Markets do stay open all year long offering local artisan creations, honey, maple syrup, and meats; and if I get antsy enough, we may visit one of these in April - just for fun. However, I love the Farmer's Market for the produce and flowers, most of which will not be available until May.

Here is a glimpse into the MN growing season, compliments of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Minnesota Grown website:
As the weather gets nicer, which Spring activities do you look forward to the most? Have you been able to indulge your Spring fever yet?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Young Thai Coconuts

During my pregnancy I have been LOVING coconut water! I usually purchase it at the co-op in 34 ounce containers, but was looking for a change so I decided to pick up TWO young thai coconuts and enjoyed every last sip.

Coconuts have been generating a TON of buzz lately for their multitude of health benefits, some of which include:
  • Helps with heart disease prevention
  • Contains anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties
  • Promotes weight maintenance (some people boast that daily consumption of 2-3 TB of coconut oil generates noticeable fat % loss)
  • Coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage filled with electrolytes (think nature's Gatorade!)
  • Coconut meat is an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals

At first, opening a young thai coconut might seem a little intimidating, but they are much easier to open than a regular, brown-husked, coconut. Below you will find the steps to getting at the delicious raw coconut water and meat. Also, check out on this a great video by Kristen at Kristen's Raw.

It is important to note that it can be very difficult to find organic young thai coconuts at a local grocer and the best way to obtain them is to purchase them in bulk online. Most of the conventional young thai coconuts that you will find at your local grocer have traveled a long distance to get there and have most likely been dipped in a preservative to keep them fresh during their long voyage. The verdict is still out on whether or not the preservatives can actually penetrate the hard husk of the coconut making its way into the flesh and water. Needless to say, it is a good idea to enjoy young thai coconuts in moderation.

Step 1: Selecting you delicacy

Which one should I choose? For me, this is the most intimidating step of the process. In general, all young thai coconuts look very similar and only vary slightly in shape and size. The exterior size of a young thai coconut does not directly relate to the interior size nor water content of the coconut. So, my advice is not to fret and simply pick one that is free of cracks, mold, and soft spots, as these are indications of spoilage. 

Step 2: Prep the coconut for opening

Using a sharp chef's knife, remove the white outer flesh from the top "cone" of the coconut. The idea is to remove as much of the soft, white flesh as possible without cutting into the hard brown husk. I do this by running my knife from the tip of the coconut out towards the edge of the cone shape.

Step 3:  Open the coconut!

Do not use your chef's knife for this step - you could ruin it! Using the but end of a cleaver assertively pound the cleaver straight down into the husk of the coconut that you exposed in Step 2. Do this working in a circle formation around the tip of the coconut's cone, about an inch or two from the outer edge of the coconut's cone. Ensure that you keep your other hand clear of the cleaver, as you probably want to keep all of our fingers! Also, be forewarned that if your coconut contains a lot of water, it may spit at you as you complete this step. 

Step 4: Enjoy!

Gently peel open the top of the coconut and dump the yummy water into a glass measuring cup. As you can see in the photo from Step 3, my young thai coconut yielded 2 cups of delicious coconut water. Use a large spoon or fruit scooper to remove the young thai coconut meat.

Please note that young thai coconuts are highly perishable and it is possible that even though your coconut did not show any external signs of spoilage, it could be bad. The best way to check for spoilage is to look at the coconut water and see if it has a purplish tint. Coconut water should be clear or slightly cloudy. If in doubt, try a sip! Your mouth will let you know.

I quickly drank my coconut water and used the meat to make a wonderful tropical smoothie and some hazelnut ice cream.