Julie Green and Keen
We all know that there are certain foods that are better for parts of your body and your mental and emotional health.  I swear that a good breakfast can keep my kids going all morning and keep them attentive.  But there are some foods that are even better than others to keep your energy and brain power.  Have two growing children has made me very interested in these kinds of foods.

I always try keeping up to date on latest findings and research about what is best for my kids and my husband and I.  I found a few really interesting articles about foods that fuel brain power and memory.  These foods are good for our entire family and can keep us healthy.  I believe it is important to know what is good for you and take it into your own hands. 






Here are my findings and knowledge on “brain power food”:

•    Almond Butter can help find memory loss because of their high content of vitamin E, which has been found to help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.  Almond butter has three times as much vitamin E than ordinary peanut butter.  Why not make an easy switch to a healthier and better for you nut spread.

•    Leafy Greens like spinach or broccoli packed with vitamin K can help improve verbal memory and the ability to understand and remember verbal instructions.  Vitamin K is good for both my husband, our children, and myself.  Leafy greens are also high in tandem that works with vitamin B12 that helps cognitive function in older adults. 

•    Blueberries are the ultimate power food.  The flavonoids in them are shown to help spatial memory and the antioxidants reduce inflammation that helps with long term memory and brain health.  There are so many powers that blueberries have it is hard to name them all.

•    Green Tea helps improve brain plasticity making it easier to learn and retain information. 

•    Tomatoes are packed with carotenoids that help improve cognition and memory over long periods of time.  Tomatoes also have lycopene found in the skin that helps protect against depression-causing inflammation.

I hope to continue eating these foods and incorporate them a little more in my life.  There are huge lists foods that help brain power and cognitive health but these were some of my favorite foods. 

What are your “go to” brain boosting foods?

Go Green and Go Keen,

Julie
I feel like everyone goes through phases with foods, whether it is loving it or hating it.  The good news is Liam has lost is last obsession…thank goodness, but my husband and I have been in quick the granola kick.

There is nothing wrong with a little granola obsession for a while but making sure that it is in moderation.  My husband comes up with some great ideas when it comes to mixing up flavors in food.  He wanted us to make our own granola and he came up with little variations to avoid getting bored with the same kinds of granola.  He came up with some delicious concoctions I have to share these great granola ideas with.

With fall in sight Low Fat Apple Raisin Granola


Ingredients-
3 cups dehydrated buckwheat chunks
1 cup raisins
½ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger powder
Pinch of salt
¾ cup agave
1 apple, chopped and diced
1 tbsp. almond butter

Instructions-
Preheat oven to 250 degree Fahrenheit
In a large bowl mix the buckwheat chunks, raisins, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, ginger powder, and salt.
In another bowl mix the agave, apple, and almond butter together.  I have used a blender to thoroughly mix together.  Pour over the dry mixture and toss to coat and combine.
Spread on a lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Cool and store in an air tight container.  This is my favorite granola we have made :)

Vanilla Almond Goji Berry Granola

Ingredients-
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup grape-seed oil
1/3 cup agave
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup goji berries

Instructions-
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
Mix the oats, almonds, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl then pour on a lined baking sheet.
In a saucepan mix the grape-seed oil, agave, vanilla extract, and light brown sugar on low heat until a simmer then remove from the heat.  Pour over the oat mixture and toss to coat.
Bake for 20 minutes until it is golden brown, cool and break into chunks and mix with the goji berries.  Enjoy over yogurt, milk, or even ice cream if you are feeling ambitions.

When you don’t feel like a sweet granola, my husband loves his new creation: Salty Olive Granola-


Ingredients-
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cup pecan halves, pulverized
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Instructions-
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, pecans, coconut, and pumpkin seeds.  Add the maple syrup, sugar, olive oil, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon and mix until everything is coated.
Spread the mixture on a lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stir and bake for another 15 minutes.  Let cool and add the raisins and mix together.  Enjoy your salty granola with a twist.

If you have any unique and tasty granola recipes I am sure my husband would be excited to give them a try! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie


This weekend we celebrated the 4th of July so much, I need a vacation from the weekend.  Not only were we invited to three Fourth of July parties, we also hosted a barbeque ourselves.

Hannah is my little party planner so I would expect nothing else than her wanted to host a BBQ.  I am glad we all have the day off today to relax and have a little rest from the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon we hosted a fantastic 4th of July BBQ.  It is always such a busy time of the year with all the holiday parties and the kid’s activities.  I don’t know why I let Hannah convince me to have a 4th of July barbeque, but it turned out great.  Surprisingly she is a very good party planner, to the extent of food, decorations, and inviting people…she isn’t that good on the cleanup part yet.  :)





Hannah wanted to be part of ALL the planning for our barbeque, even though she is pretty busy with soccer.  She wanted to plan it all herself and then have us make the final decision.  She actually came up with some really great ideas for decorations and food that were easy and cheap!

She also wanted to help create a red, white, and blue menu.  She officiated “Dad” to the grilling of the burgers, veggie burgers, and corn on the cob. (Her favorites on the grill)  She found quite a few food ideas of Pinterest and made them with a little help from me.  We made watermelon, blueberry and banana kabobs, “stuffed strawberries,” and patriotic Jell-O bites.
 
On top of Hannah’s special treats she found, I also made some easy snacks and sides.  One of my good friends who is an incredible baker offered to bring a cake…I have never said no to a cake. :)

Overall it was a successful 4th of July BBQ.  Today we are laying low and recuperating from all of our weekend festivities.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

4th of July BBQ

by on 7/04/2016
This weekend we celebrated the 4th of July so much, I need a vacation from the weekend.  Not only were we invited to three Fourth of Jul...
I love encountering individuals who are eager to learn about a vegetarian lifestyle and make a change.  Last night at the restaurant I had the opportunity to chat with a couple that has just decided to embark on their vegetarian lifestyle journey.  They asked me for some helpful hints to get through the difficult first couple months.  With spring quickly approaching and BBQ’s and soccer games around the corner they were concerned about vegetarian options.  Luckily for them I have quite a few helpful hints.


Deciding to become is a big diet and lifestyle change.  There are times when it will seem impossible, but once you find your strength and keep pushing forward there is not turning back.  Here are a few tips that helped me “keep on trucking” and create a healthy lifestyle for myself.

1.    Don’t expect everyone to embrace your new lifestyle change initially.  My parents thought I was crazy when I told them I was making the change, and now they eat a primarily plant-based diet.  During the first couple months my friends and family would taunt me with my past favorite meals with meat making it a game to see if I would crack.  I stayed strong and soon everyone came to realize this was something I was doing to better myself and I wasn’t going to back down.  Stay strong!

2.    There will be times when you crave a dish with meat in it, and when that happens just watch one of the wonderful documentaries out there about the factory meat industry.  I am sure that craving will pass.  Documentaries are a great way to find inspiration to make change and find your strength from within.  Educate yourself!

3.    Try new fruits and vegetables.  There are so many it shouldn’t be hard to try a new one every week incorporating it into a new recipe.  I can’t stress enough that even “ugly” fruits and veggies taste wonderful.  Don’t overlook certain types just because you have never tried it before or it looks ugly.  Dive in head first and see what you like.

4.    If you are not a chef, take a vegetarian cooking class.  I took a class in my first couple months of becoming a vegetarian and learned so much and met a great support system.  Working and having fun with likeminded people is a great way to discover some new recipes and new friends.

5.    Eat what is in season and go to the farmers markets.  Going to the farmers markets is not only a way to get your groceries, it is an experience in itself.  Become friends with the farmers and really find out where your food comes from.  I also suggest planting your own garden.  It is such a satisfying feeling cooking a meal with all your own fresh yields.



Making a lifestyle change doesn’t have to be that hard.  Find a good support system and make a promise to yourself, you’ll be half way there.  If you have any other questions about become a vegetarian, I would love to answer them for you! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
Last month at Liam’s birthday party one of his good friends mothers hung around for a little bit when she dropped her son off.  It had been a while since we chatted about something other than the boy’s school or crazy nonsense.  We were talking about gardening and growing different plants.  She had recently been adding turmeric to her foods because of all the wellness properties and encouraged me to as well.

I had heard of turmeric but never really gave it much thought.  I don’t think I have ever used it to cook or as a wellness supplement in recipes.  I am sure somewhere in the back of my spice rack I have a bottle of the dried stuff lurking.  After listening to my friend rant and rave about this plant, I had to do a little research for myself.

Turmeric contains anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, AND anti-inflammatory properties….man, there are a lot of good “anti’s” there.  Turmeric also contains curcumin, a power substance that has been linked to cancer prevention.


Curcumin has been shown to slow the growth of preexisting cancer tumors and destroy cancer cells.


On top of all the “anti’s” and cancer prevention, turmeric also can relive arthritis, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce the risk of heart disease, liver detoxification, reduce cholesterol, reduce weight gain, regulate insulin levels, reduce cramping, and strengthen the immune system…just in case you needed any more reasons to consume turmeric.

After my research it was clear that I needed to consciously start adding turmeric to my diet.  Instead of digging around in the back of my spice rack I decided to go out and buy some fresh roots, I found some at my local Whole Foods.

I had an idea how to prepare this root but wasn’t 100% sure so I jumped back onto the internet.  I found that peeling it and either slicing, chopping, mincing, or grating it works depending on the recipe.

I found countless recipes to add turmeric to like: smoothies, green juices, marinades, sauces, dressings, pots of rice, homemade veggie burgers, added to tofu scrambles, stir fries, in soups and stews, and so many more.  It is clear that turmeric can be added to just about anything.


I made my first turmeric added soup this afternoon and can’t wait to try it tonight.  I am surprised I haven’t experiment with this fabulous and healthy root before.  Do you use turmeric in your recipes, what are your favorites?

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Have you tried Turmeric?

by on 5/09/2016
Last month at Liam’s birthday party one of his good friends mothers hung around for a little bit when she dropped her son off.  It had been...

It is very important to eat a diet high in nutrients to make sure your body has the essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy.

Your plate should be a spectrum of bright colors.  We are naturally attracted to bright things, whether it be lush landscapes, clothing hues, bright flowers, or whatever it might be.  The foods you chose to eat shouldn’t be any different, the brighter in color the food is, the more likely it high is nutrients.

Foods that are bland colors often don’t provide as much nutrients as bright fruits and vegetables.  I taught my kids to fill their plate of color.

From when they were little, we always made sure we had at least three colors on our plate for every meal.

Liam and Hannah will even comment if our dinner or lunch is lacking in bright colors and find some fresh veggies to add to it.

Instilling good eating habits to our children is essential to their health.  Here is a list of five food color groups that are great for growing children.

Orange fruits and vegetables are often high in vitamin A, improve immune and reproductive health, and also have anti-cancer properties.  Sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, carrots, and apricots are all good sources of your daily dose of orange.

Yellow fruits and veggies like squash, potatoes, bell peppers, and apples; promote skin and eye health.  They can also improve cognition.

My favorite color, green is great for lowering the risk of cancer, improved eye health, and stronger teeth and bones.  Some of my favorite green veggies are asparagus, kale, spinach, and broccoli.

Blue and Purple fruits and vegetables are my second favorite to eat.  Eggplant (my favorite), purple cabbage, prunes and raisins help to protect cells from being damaged and help lower the risks of heart disease, and cancer.  They also have anti-aging and brain boosting properties.

Red fruits and vegetables like cranberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and pomegranates contain antioxidants that benefit heart health and can help prevent some cancers.

If you have young children there was a rainbow game we used to play that can be found here.  It is a great way to get them involved with the meal and healthy choices.

I challenge you to try having three different bright colors on your plate this week.  It is not as difficult as you might thing, but the rewards will be well worth it.

Eat the rainbow.


Go green and stay keen,

Julie

Green your Plate

by on 4/15/2016
It is very important to eat a diet high in nutrients to make sure your body has the essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. ...
There is no doubt if you have a family, budgeting is extremely important during grocery shopping.  This morning while I was shopping I ran into one of my good friends and we were joking around that feeding a family needs its own full time job to pay for it…especially growing boys.  After thinking, I realized I do a lot to budget and save a little at the check outs.


I am sure, if you have kids, you already know how to save but why not share a few of my secrets in case you don’t already use them. :)

•    Buying in season and at the farmers market is a lifesaver for me.  It is a great way to get fresh fruits and produce and to save a few dollars.  Buying straight from the farmer or farm cuts down on the transportation costs and also minimizes the harmful emissions from big trucks.  Shopping at the farmers marketing is an experience in itself, full of vibrant foods, interesting people, and plenty of laughs.



•    Instead of getting fancy “super foods” find your own super foods and concoct a super food recipe.  Social media, the news, and word of mouth spreads food hype so quickly it is hard to know what is actually true and what is just made up to make a little extra money.  There are so many wonderful foods that are readily available for a low costs that are high in nutrients.  Skip the hype and go for something that has lasted the test of time.

•    I never skip the frozen section at the grocery store.  Fruits and vegetables that are in the frozen section are always in season.  Because most of these products are picked and frozen during their peat ripeness, they retain all their nutritional values.  They also go on sale more frequently than fresh products, so stock up.


•    Skip the name brand and chose the store brand.  I know there are those products and brands you can give up, but does it really matter what kind of pasta it is or what brand the olive oil is.  Save a few cents goes a long way when you’re shopping every week.  To make sure I am getting a good quality store brand I always make sure the check and compare the ingredients list.  Sometimes the store brand is even healthier!

•    Coupon!  I don’t mean like “Extreme Couponing” but going on the stores website or browsing a paper before heading to the store can help schedule meals during the week in accordance to what is on sale.  Many stores accept competitor’s coupons and online coupons presented on your smart phone to save on paper.

Saving a few extra bucks a week on groceries can go a long way when you are saving up for college tuition.  What are your grocery saving tricks?

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie