Category Archives: food!

Toasted Kale


Toasted Kale

Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is loaded with nutrition and known for it’s cancer fighting properties.  Kale is also difficult to eat – the leaves are thick, fibrous, bitter and tough, so of course it is good for you!  A fun way to eat kale is toasting it.  You can use any type of kale or other thick leafy vegetable.

The recipe is easy:  Take a bunch of kale (organic if you can) and COMPLETELY remove the stems.  Fold the leaves in half and slice off the entire stem, which is quite bitter.  Toss the leaves with olive oil, sea salt and any kind of seasoning you like.  Usually I use organic garlic powder, but today I had organic onion powder.  Arrange on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  It is important that the leaves not overlap or they won’t toast properly.   Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 min.  you may occassionally have to stir them and separate overlapping leaves.  The leaves should be completely dehydrated and crunchy when you take them out of the oven.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

Flourless Cheese Crackers


As promised, I made low carb cheese crackers today.  I didn’t follow the recipe from my carbohydrate load cookbook – I had the wrong ingredients!  The recipe calls for hulled sunflower seeds, but I hulled, raw pumpkin seeds.  What the heck!  My desire for some kind of low carb cheese cracker was stronger than my desire to wait until I had the right ingredients.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese From Raw Milk.

NOT sunflower seeds

Here is my recipe:

  • 1 cup of hulled, raw pumpkin seeds (these are generally unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup whole grain corn meal
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used raw milk cheese but any will do)
  • 2 TBL water

Put the seeds in your food processor and grind until they are mealy.  Add the rest of the ingredients through the salt and pulse to mix.  Add the cheese, one cup at a time, and pulse to mix.  Lastly, drizzle in the water and mix well.

Your concoction will not look like a dough.  It will be crumbly and mealy.  I divided my “dough” in half at put half in a bowl and dumped the other half on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  I pressed the mound with my hands until  it stuck together.  Cover it with another piece of parchment and roll with a rolling pin until it is as think as you can get it.  I tried to get mine to 1/8th inch.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut rows of crackers. I topped my with a sprinkle of sea salt, but you don’t have to.  Pop into a 350 degree oven for about 18 or so minutes.  The crackers should be light brown.  If you used pumpkin seeds they will have a green cast to them.  I used a thin metal spatula to break the crackers apart.  Let cool and eat!

I give them 2 thumbs up!  The pungent cheese mixed with the slightly bitter seeds is quite nice.  Especially if you are missing crackers and bread.

I’ll update with the nutrition facts tomorrow -since pumpkin seeds have far fewer calories than sunflower seeds, I’ll need to do some math!

Close Up to Show Texture


This is a nice summary of the differences between grain and grass fed beef.

LifeWise Health Plan of Washington News

BeefBy Alison Acerra, MS, RD

No question about it, beef is a mainstay in the American diet.  Average consumption hovers around 270 pounds per person annually according to the Earth Policy Institute.  Public health experts have warned of the dangers of consuming too much red meat, mainly due to its correlation with high cholesterol and heart disease risk.   These animal proteins are a significant source of total and saturated fat in the food supply.  This wasn’t always the case however, and here’s where the story gets interesting.

Prior to the 1950’s, cattle were traditionally allowed to graze pastures freely, with grass being their primary source of nutrition.  In efforts to streamline beef production, conserve land, reduce costs, increase yields, and produce well-marbled meat, the industry changed dramatically.  Today, most cattle are raised in large feed lots, where their mobility is limited and diets consist mainly of grain or corn.


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Glycemic Index Versus Glycemic Load


Like many people, I need to lose some weight, especially from around my middle.  You could say I have the “middle age spread”, but I’ve had an ample body most of my life.  I lost a lot of weight over the last few years only to start gaining some back over the past 12 months.  After two emergency abdominal surgeries in 2011, I was pretty thin and in poor shape.  In  examining my calories, I ate about 1400-1800 calories a day, which isn’t bad for a 5’11” woman, but my weight was going up, up, up!  It was so distressing to see my thinner clothes starting to get too tight – I panicked!  How could I gain weight on that many calories!  I should be losing weight, not gaining!  Since the problem wasn’t the number of calories I was eating, it must be what I was eating.

I track my food using an app on my iPhone, so it was easy to go back and compare my diet now to what I ate 2 years ago.  It was soon obvious that the make-up of my meals had changed drastically.  I went from eating a low carb,  high protein diet to a low protein, high carb diet!  In addition to the high carbs, I was eating a lot of processed foods and processed fats.

What to do? What to do?  I wanted to be healthy and eat a more natural diet that was based on real foods. From my intro post, you’ll see that I tried a vegetarian diet only to pack on the pounds BY THE DAY!  Wow.  I cannot be a vegetarian.  It made sense to change back to what worked on the past – a lower carb diet with more protein.  But what is low carb?  Does it mean no carb?  What about fruits and veges?  They are carb foods and it doesn’t make sense to not include them in my diet.  Fruits and veges are loaded with important nutrition and fiber.

As a Registered Nurse and former Certified Diabetes Educator, I am well aware of the concept of “Glycemic Index” or GI.  GI is a measure of how much your blood glucose (sugar) level will rise after eating a food.  Glucose, the most basic form of sugar, has a GI = 100.  Other foods will have a GI of less than that, unless they are made from pure sugar.   Food can have a high, medium or low GI (table from Wikipedia, not my usual source of information but it is a good table):

Classification GI range Examples
Low GI 55 or less most fruits and vegetables; legumes; some whole, intact grains; nuts; tagatose; fructose; kidney beans; beets; chickpeas
Medium GI 56–69 whole wheat products, pita bread, basmati rice, grapes, sucrose, raisins, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice, regular ice cream
High GI 70 and above white bread, most white rices, corn flakes, extruded breakfast cereals, glucose, maltose, maltodextrins, white potato, pretzels

Foods with a high GI raise blood glucose rapidly and cause a sudden release of insulin, which can cause a blood glucose crash later and hunger.  Foods lower on the GI scale raise blood glucose at a slower rate and provide sustained energy, which hopefully means you do not need to eat as often.  This is a pretty simple explanation and my intent is not to give a scientific lecture.  You can read more details here.

Glycemic Load (GL) is based on the Glycemic Index (GI), with an adjustment made for serving size.  For example, oil popped popcorn with butter is a high GI food with a score of 72.  If I was basing my diet solely on the GI index I would avoid popcorn.  The GL of 1 cup of oil popped popcorn with butter is only 3.  So while the popcorn has a high GI, the Glycemic Load is low if you account for serving size.  The key is serving size – if I chose to eat 10 cups of popcorn, the GI remains the same at 72, but the  GL increases to 34, which is high.  You have to control your servings of carb based foods.

This means that on my Glucose Load diet I can enjoy a snack of popcorn popped in oil with butter and still lose weight.  If I went solely by the Glucose Index,  I would not be able to eat popcorn at all.  And who doesn’t want a bowl of popcorn on a family movie night?

Another example is candy.   Lifesavers are all sugar, so they have a GI of 100.  But…if you only eat one, the Glucose Load is 20. Now, I can’t eat just one Lifesaver but if you want to quickly freshen your breath or have a little sweetie, then a lifesaver or 2 isn’t going to blow your diet.  Here is a table that shows glycemic index, load and serving size of many foods.

Like most low carb diets, animal proteins and fats are permitted without restriction.  Meat, cheese, and eggs have a GL of zero since they do not contain carbs.   But I still think one needs to be sensible.  No one needs to eat unlimited amounts of any food, including meat and cheese – although I could live on cheese alone!

According to Rob Thompson, author of The Glycemic Load Diet, you do not need to count calories or carbs or fat grams on a GL diet.  You should focus on keeping your total GL for the day at below 500 and get some kind of aerobic exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes.   I do not have this book, but I do have his cookbook and the front section has a good description of  how the diet works.  Plus it has some great recipes for low GL foods and even how to use flour substitutes to make crackers and some breads.  You should avoid starchy solids and liquid sugars.  This weekend I’m going to try to make cheese crackers (my weakness) using ground sunflower seeds instead of flour.   I’ll keep you posted on how this turns out!

The Glycemic-Load Diet Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Help You Lose Weight and Reverse Insulin Resistance



Welcome to my blog!  I am a 40-something year old wife and mom of 3 wonderful kids.  We make up the Five Holts!  I am also step-mother to a grown daughter and neighborhood “mom” to a few other kids.

This blog was sparked by my interest in health, wellness and providing a nurturing home for my children.  As a registered nurse, I am well aware of the effect that nutrition, or lack there-of, has on the body, mind and spirit.  My own body has been a bit of a science experiment.  After spending most of my life morbidly obese, I was able to get within a stone’s throw of a normal weight.  Then my weight began to creep back up again.  I kept a food journal on my phone and my calories remained a consistent 1400-1700/day.  I couldn’t see why my weight was increasing at alarming rate until I examined what I was eating, not just the number of calories.  My diet went from a protein, vegetable and some fruit diet to a simple carb overload diet.  Ugh!  I hadn’t eaten bread in almost 2 years, and as soon as I did my weight went up, up, up!  For a short while I tried a vegetarian, grain based diet and could literally see my abdomen getting larger every morning.  Plus I was starving all the time!

I will be documenting my attempt to get back to a normal weight and gaining terrific health for me and my family using Real Food.  Along the way you can also read my attempts to learn to do some of the womanly arts that I so far, have not attempted or mastered.  This includes sewing, crafts and gardening.  I hope you enjoy this blog.