Bacon Love on Valentine’s Day!

What do you do when you have

a pound of nitrate/nitrite-free apple-smoked bacon from Whole Foods

Bakin' Bacon

and a bar of Organic Fair-Trade Belgian Dark Chocolate (72% cacao)?

Organic Fair-Trade Belgian Dark Chocolate

You make Chocolate-Covered Bacon,

that’s what!!!!!

Ingredients:

1 lb. nitrate/nitrite-free bacon

1 large bar organic dark chocolate (70-90% cacao)

1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil (helps with texture and solidification of chocolate onto bacon)

1 Tbsp. raw honey (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Soak 20+ skewers in water for about 10 minutes. Then skewer bacon to form ripples as shown above. (This is not absolutely necessary… you can bake the bacon straight on a wire rack over a pan or foil to catch the drippings as well, depending on your aesthetic preference.) Place the skewers above a baking dish so that fat drips down into dish and bacon gets crispy on all sides. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until desired crisp is achieved.

About 10 minutes before bacon is done, break up chocolate bar into a double boiler and melt down, stirring frequently to keep from burning. (I don’t have a double boiler so I place a small metal bowl over a saucepan of boiling water). Add coconut oil and honey and stir well to combine.

Remove bacon from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted chocolate mixture onto both sides of the skewered bacon and place on parchment paper to dry. (Or simply coat half the length of bacon in chocolate.) Once all the pieces of bacon are painted, place them in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to cool and harden. (Optional/Additional toppings: sprinkle with coconut flakes or finely chopped mixed nuts before chocolate cools.) Serve and enjoy!

Check out this link for a great recipe to make your own Easy, Homemade, Chemical-Free Bacon, from Butter Belle

Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Water – A Crucial Element!

The adult body is estimated to be 60-70% water. It is a primary component in all of our bodily fluids as well as a significant portion of our muscles, lungs, and even our brains. Water plays an integral role in the proper functioning of all bodily systems – from regulating our blood pressure and body temperature to clearing out debris that accumulates in our blood and lymph to aiding in proper digestion and assimilation to protecting our joints and organs. Yet most of us take water for granted.

Do you experience (though not limited to):

  • dry, sticky mouth
  • fatigue, lack of energy, tiredness, sluggishness
  • thirst
  • loss of appetite OR increased appetite (cravings)
  • decreased urine output
  • few or no tears when crying, lack of sweating
  • dry skin, eczema, wrinkles
  • headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • constipation, digestive issues, stomach issues
  • confusion, irritation, mood swings
  • muscle cramps, aches and pains
  • high blood pressure, high cholesterol

You may be dehydrated!
Many of us suffer from chronic, low-grade dehydration and don’t even realize it, often not attributing our symptoms with that of a lack of water. Water is essential for all life… AND a delicate balance of minerals, electrolytes and essential fatty acids are also needed to properly utilize the water we ingest for these bodily processes.

You should be starting to see that good hydration is essential to good health. Experience Life did a great piece on hydration back in their June 2010 edition.
Following are various explanations of why water is such an important nutrient for optimal body function:

Energy: Suboptimal hydration slows the activity of enzymes, including those responsible for producing energy, leading to feelings of fatigue. Even a slight reduction in hydration can lower metabolism and reduce your ability to exercise efficiently.

Digestion: Our bodies produce an average of 7 liters of digestive juices daily. When we don’t drink enough liquid, our secretions are more limited and the digestive process is inhibited.  If we don’t get that water, we don’t secrete enough digestive juices, and a variety of problems – such as gas, bloating, nausea, poor digestion and loss of appetite – can ensue. (Note that drinking too much water all at once, particularly with food, can also dilute digestive juices, reducing their efficacy and leading to indigestion.)

Regularity: As partially digested food passes through the colon, the colon absorbs excess liquid and transfers it to the bloodstream so that a stool of normal consistency is formed. When the body is low on water, it extracts too much liquid from the stool, which then becomes hard, dry and difficult to eliminate. Slowed elimination contributes to bodywide toxicity and inflammation.

Blood Pressure: When we are chronically dehydrated, our blood becomes thicker and more viscous. Additionally, in response to reduced overall blood volume, the blood vessels contract. To compensate for the increased vein-wall tension and increased blood viscosity, the body must work harder to push blood through the veins, resulting in elevated blood pressure.

Stomach Health: Under normal circumstances, the stomach secretes a layer of mucus (which is composed of 98 percent water) to prevent its mucus membranes from being destroyed by the highly acidic digestive fluid it produces. Chronic dehydration, though, impedes mucus production and may irritate and produce ulcers in the stomach lining.

Respiration: The moist mucus membranes in the respiratory region are protective; however, in a state of chronic dehydration, they dry out and become vulnerable to attack from substances that might exist in inhaled air, such as dust and pollen.

Acid-Alkaline Balance: Dehydration causes enzymatic slowdown, interrupting important biochemical transformations, with acidifying results at the cellular level. The acidification of the body’s internal cellular environment can be further worsened when excretory organs responsible for eliminating acids (e.g., the skin and kidneys) don’t have enough liquid to do their jobs properly. An overly acidic biochemical environment can give rise to a host of inflammatory health conditions, as well as yeast and fungus growth.

Weight Management: Feelings of thirst can be confused with hunger, both because eating can soothe thirst and also because dehydration-induced fatigue is often misinterpreted as a lack of fuel (e.g., sugar). Both dynamics can lead to false sensations of hunger, triggering overeating and weight gain. Inadequate hydration can also promote the storage of inflammatory toxins, which can also promote weight gain.

Skin Health: Dehydrated skin loses elasticity and has a dry, flaky appearance and texture. But dehydration can also lead to skin irritation and rashes, including conditions like eczema. We need to sweat about 24 ounces a day to properly dilute and transport the toxins being eliminated through our skin. When we are chronically dehydrated, the sweat becomes more concentrated and toxins aren’t removed from our systems as readily, which can lead to skin irritation and inflammation.

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is an essential element in cell membrane construction. When we are in a state of chronic dehydration and too much liquid is removed from within the cell walls, the body tries to stop the loss by producing more cholesterol to shore up the cell membrane. Although the cholesterol protects the cell membrane from being so permeable, the overproduction introduces too much cholesterol into the bloodstream.

Kidney and Urinary Health: When we don’t drink enough liquid, our kidneys struggle to flush water-soluble toxins from our system. When we don’t adequately dilute the toxins in our urine, the toxins irritate the urinary mucus membranes and create a germ- and infection-friendly environment.

Joint Health: Dehydrated cartilage and ligaments are more brittle and prone to damage. Joints can also become painfully inflamed when irritants, usually toxins produced by the body and concentrated in our blood and cellular fluids, attack them, setting the stage for arthritis.

Aging: The normal aging process involves a gradual loss of cell volume and an imbalance of the extracellular and intracellular fluids. This loss of cellular water can be accelerated when we don’t ingest enough liquids, or when our cell membranes aren’t capable of maintaining a proper fluid balance.

Symptoms of dehydration often occur due to poor eating and drinking habits. Subclinical, low-grade dehydration could be negatively affecting your energy, vitality, immunity, and even your appearance. Try drinking more water throughout the day. Likely you will notice a shift in your well-being. Start establishing good hydration habits now!

6 Tips for Staying Hydrated

  1. Start each morning with a glass of water (room temperature, no ice, maybe a little lemon). Drink it even before you have your coffee, tea or juice. This helps replace fluids that you’ve lost overnight.
  2. Fill a water bottle (glass/BPA Free [by Life Factory] or stainless steel/BPA free by Klean Kanteen) you can take with you throughout your day, wherever you are!!!
  3. Take regular water breaks. Are you bored? Craving something? Reach for that bottle of water first… often you are simply thirsty. Start tuning in and listening to your body’s signals. When you are hydrated you are more focused and clear.
  4. Eat loads of vegetables at every meal (and up to 2 fruits as snacks). Fruits and vegetables are high in water content while also providing the essential minerals needed to help your body absorb and use the water properly. Processed food and drink – sugar, flour, salty snacks, processed meats, coffee, tea, sodas, juices, etc. – deplete our body’s water stores making it necessary to drink more water, while also triggering other undesirable reactions within the body (especially blood sugar surges). Overeating and too much protein will also affect our water levels as they further challenge our bodily systems, using more of the nutrients and water we’ve consumed throughout the day.
  5. Research and install a Water Filtration System for your home and office. While many of us have already considered this in regard to our drinking water, you may also want to consider one for your shower. I love this post by Kelly the Kitchen Kop on Finding the Best Water Filter System.
    Bottled water should be a last resort – a) it’s expensive, b) it’s wasteful, c) it’s bad for the environment, d) it’s bad for your health (plastic contains harmful chemicals [BPA] that leach into the water especially when exposed to the sun and heat AND e) how much do you trust the claims on that water bottle? There’s no guarantee that it is any better for you than the tap water at home.
  6. Trade in that table salt for a high-quality sea salt. A good, unrefined sea salt is rich in trace minerals, which nourish your body, keep your blood alkaline, and even increase the benefits you receive from other foods.

February Health Challenge:
Drink More Water DAILY!!!!!

Read More Here: 8 Myths About Dehydration

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Check IN – End of Month

Can you believe it’s already the last day of January 2012!?!

I can’t believe a month of the New Year Revolution has gone by already! How are those goals taking shape? Will you take the leap of faith in yourself and send them off to us? Join the Revolution!

Here I will offer up some of my own ponderings, in hopes that they may inspire you to do the same.

Take a moment to let these words that follow settle into your being. Notice how your mind automatically starts formulating opinions. Simply notice this. Try not to get too caught up in the actual thoughts themselves. Simply notice and acknowledge their presence. Notice if you have any physical (bodily) ‘reactions’ to these words. Again, simply notice. No need to analyze or judge. As you sit in this place of awareness with yourself, Your Truth will begin to emerge.

You’ve heard this before, but I will say it again, “Change is Constant.”

According to Caroline Myss, in Anatomy of the Spirit,

“Mentally we can absorb that teaching with little difficulty. Yet when change occurs in our lives – when we notice we are aging, when people we love die, or when relationships shift from being intimate and loving to distant – this truth terrorizes us… We knew all along that it would change, but we can’t help hoping that the energy of change will pass by this one part of our lives.”

We often experience this reaction when on the precipice of change. And I believe that this is a major factor in why we feel challenged when it comes to following through on our goals that we have set for ourselves.

“Conciousness is the ability to release the old and embrace the new with the awareness that all things end at the appropriate time and that all things begin at the appropriate time. This truth is difficult to learn to live with because human beings seek stability – the absence of change. Therefore becoming conscious means living fully in the present moment knowing that no situation or person will be exactly the same tomorrow.”

“…No situation or person will be exactly the same tomorrow.” That includes YOU! This is an incredibly important point to remember and take home with you. Another challenge that we face when working on goals is being okay with failure. I rather dislike this word, as it is a very loaded word in our society. Yet, as I sit with that word and all that it ‘seems’ to represent in society, I realize that I have a Choice to react to it (re-act: an immediate, emotional action) or allow my Truth to guide my response (response, comes from responsible: state of being accountable). We are responsible for every one of our choices.

“Success stops when you do.”
– author unknown

Our reactions are choices too, though they are often done with little consciousness. So when we start taking steps toward achieving a goal and we encounter a bump in the road, we have a choice – to let it completely derail us or to realize that Life is giving us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, and if we take up this challenge something beautiful awaits us at the end.

“The promise of ‘Change is constant’ is that new beginnings always follow closures.”

Become aware of your reaction to this statement, both mentally and physically. Simply notice! Take a deep breath and continue reading.

“As change does occur, we work to interpret it as a natural part of life and strive to “flow with it,” as the Tao Te Ching counsels, and not against it. Trying to make things remain the same is useless as well as impossible. Our task is to contribute the best of our energy to every situation with the understanding that we influence, but do not control, what we will experience tomorrow.”

“…We influence, but do not control, what we will experience tomorrow.” This is another important point to take with you, and again serves to help us through those periods of failure. We influence things through the energy of our thoughts. As we learn to practice positive thought, and come from a place of Trust, we begin to flow with Life. Whereas negative thought can cycle upon itself – a resisting of change.

As you move forward with your goals, step by step, remember that life is always changing, therefore your goals will likely shift to reflect where and who you are as you grow over the next six months. Start to recognize each of your actions as the personal choices they are. Start to take responsibility for your Life.

“No one can ruin your day without YOUR permission.”
– author unknown

We are here to support you, for accountability, to share our experience and knowledge, but ultimately this is your life and you must make the choices that are ‘right’ for you.

“…View a successful life as a process of achieving self-control and the capacity to work through the challenges life brings you. Visualize success as an energy force rather than a physical one.” – Caroline Myss

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Get Out Of That Winter Rut and Bask In Obscurity

Winter’s Bounty  –  Obscure Root Vegetables

Aside from the usual root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic that you see in the produce section and farmers markets, come the winter months, you will also likely see a number of “unusual” and “obscure” vegetables that are guaranteed to add some flavor, color and texture to your winter dishes should you be bold enough to take them home and experiment with them in your kitchen.

While spring is not far away, we felt this was a great opportunity for you to expand your culinary repertoire, AND stick to eating seasonally, with the wonderful winter bounty available from your local farmers.

Like most winter vegetables, these “strange” root vegetables are all deliciously sweet when harvested after the first frost. They are all great storage vegetables. Refer to this pdf for great tips on how to store your fresh fruit and vegetables, to ensure optimal nutrition and shelf-life.

Always, when considering your own health, that of your family and that of Mama Earth,  purchase your vegetables organically and locally if you can, leave the skins on and eat the leaves (that’s where a large portion of the micronutrients are)!

Some of my favorite winter root vegetables:

Turnip Brassica rapa

Turnips are actually close relatives to radishes and arugula. Like radishes, they have a mild to strong “bite” dependent on size and age. Small turnips are a great addition to a salad when used similarly to a radish, while the larger ones make a great addition to a roasted vegetable dish, soup or puree. When selecting turnips, look for firm, creamy-looking bulbs with a violet-hued ring around the top. Smaller turnips may not have the violet color and will look somewhat like a white radish. The turnip greens are often removed in winter months, but in fall and spring you likely will find them with the greens still attached. DO NOT throw these away. They are excellent, nutrient-dense greens that you can add to your weekly dishes. Turnip root is high in vitamin C. The turnip greens are a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and lutein.

Purely Primal – Coconut Creamed Turnip Greens

Jicama (Mexican Yam, Mexican Turnip, Yam Bean) Pachyrhizus erosus 

Jicama is the tuber of a native Mexican vine.  It has the uniquely sweet crunch much like a water chestnut, lending itself well to raw dishes such as salads, salsas and vegetable platters. It can be cooked and seasoned like any other root vegetable, though you will often find it paired with hotter spices and Mexican or Asian cuisine. Three ounces of Jicama has about 7 grams of carbohydrates, mostly in the form of fiber (2 grams) and prebiotic sugars known as oligofructose inulin (or FOS). It is 86-90% water and contains vitamins C, A and B, along with calcium and phosphorus. Jicama is a round, somewhat flat ball and looks much like a potato. They can often grow quite large. Those tubers larger than grapefruit-size, often have started to convert sugars into starches and make the root a bit more woody.

(SW)EAT Exercise and Nutrition  – Jicama Hashbrowns

Gone Raw – Raw Jicama Fries

Jen’s Gone Paleo  – Jicama Salad w/Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Rutabaga (Swedes, Swedish Turnip) Brassica napus 

Rutabagas are round and waxy with yellowish flesh and ridges around the neck. A rutabaga has a soft sweetness and flavor that is reminiscent of both cabbage and turnip, of which it is said to have been conceived. Rutabagas are good raw, julienned and served with dip, grated into a  coleslaw or any other type of salad. When cooked the yellow flesh turns orange. They are fantastic roasted, steamed, stir-fried, pureed or stewed. Add them to stews and soups. Bake them in the oven as chips or fries. Go ahead, just try them!

“Fish and Chips” from Fast Paleo – Bacon Wrapped Halibut over Rutabaga Chips

Brooklyn Paleo – Roasted Vegetable Salad with Anchovy-Parsley Pesto

Parsnips Pastinaca sativa

Parsnips resemble carrots, but are muddled white in color. They have a buttery, sweet, slightly tangy flavor when cooked. In order to enjoy a nice rich flavor, make sure the parsnips have gone through one good frost. Nutritionally, parsnips are low in calories, about 130 calories in one 9″ in length. They are richer in nutrients than carrots; especially rich in potassium, folic acid and calcium, vitamin A and C. Parsnips also contribute vitamins B1, B2, B3, iron, and zinc. Parsnips have a high sugar and starch content and contain more fiber then most other vegetables. Parsnips can be roasted, boiled, sauteed and steamed. Really, anything you can do with a potato, you can do with a parsnip. No need to peel them, just give them a good scrub and you’re on your way.

Nom Nom Paleo Cauliflower, Carrot and Parsnip Puree

Celeriac (celery root) Apium graveolens 

Also known as celery root or knob celery, this root vegetable is not something that you choose for it’s looks. Yet underneath that gnarled, ugly exterior is a beautiful white flesh that has a milder, sweeter flavor than that of celery. Unlike many other root vegetables that are high in starches, celeriac is only about 5-6% starch by weight. It contains only 30 calories per half cup, no fat, and is a great source of fiber. When selecting fresh celeriac, choose one of small to medium size that are nice and firm to the touch. Look to see that the greens are not wilted. Celeriac is great when grated as a raw salad (see recipe below), julienned and baked in the oven like a french fry, roasted with other root vegetables, chopped up in a hearty soup, or served as a puree alongside a nice cut of meat and luscious greens.

BBC – Pot Roast Loin of Pork with Celeriac, Shallots and Pancetta

Green Celeriac Salad with Lemon and Capers (GF-Paleo)

from the Kitchen of Big Sister              serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and grated
  • 1 large lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • fresh ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • 1 large handful arugula, sliced thin
  • 1 large handful parsley, sliced thin
  • 1 handful fresh roasted pecans (optional: lightly crushed or chopped)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw coconut vinegar
  • 1 tsp. raw honey

Directions:

Peel celeriac and grate. Sprinkle a tablespoon of lemon juice over the grated celeriac mixture to prevent the celeriac from browning. Stir well to coat. Lightly season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Whisk the remaining lemon juice and zest with the oil, honey and vinegar. Toss with the celeriac, capers, arugula, parsley, and pecans to coat. Taste and adjust. Serve and Enjoy!

January Health Challenge – Go to your local farmer’s market or grocer and pick up one of these obcure vegetables, one that you’ve never tried before. Make one of the recipes provided or create your own. We’d love to hear what you try!

Posted in Dairy Free, Eat Local, Eat Seasonal, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, New Year Revolution, Paleo, REAL Food, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Menu Plan for 2 Weeks

Wow, what a busy time in the life of the Lil’ Sister! This week is my husband’s birthday, and Two Sisters’ parents are flying out to California this week as well. Because of all of my “extra-curricular” activities, I decided to make 2 weeks of menu plans today, so I can spend more time with my family while they are here!

Week of Jan. 29

SundayCauliflower Bacon Soup  & Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna

MondayShredded Chicken with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

TuesdayCurried Shrimp & Spinach

WednesdayBBQ Crockpot chicken

ThursdayBlackened Salmon with Tomato Gravy

Friday – leftovers

SaturdayEveryday Paleo Pizza

Week of Feb. 5

Sunday – Grilled Game Hens, Cabbage on the Grill (spread about 1 tsp. ghee (or your fat of choice) on each 1/4’d cabbage, sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic powder, wrap with 1-2 slices bacon, wrap in foil. Grill on medium ~40 minutes until tender) & Sweet Potatoes with Coconut, Pomegranate & Lime

MondaySalmon with Paleo Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (health-bent) & Citrus Kale Salad

TuesdayEnchilada-spiced Beef Wraps  & Red Cabbage Slaw with Vinaigrette Dressing

WednesdaySeriously Tasty Paleo Meatloaf

ThursdayCurried Leek & Butternut Squash Soup

FridayCaprese Chicken with Bacon  & Butternut Squash with Cranberries

SaturdayCreamy Mushroom Stew & Baked Chicken

Posted in Dairy Free, Eat Local, Eat Seasonal, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Main Dishes, New Year Revolution, REAL Food, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Soups | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Curried Leek & Butternut Squash Soup

I finally got to experiment in the kitchen again, and this was one of my successes this last week! We had a wonderful dinner with some friends a couple weeks ago, and this recipe is a take on a soup they had made for us. (I had a massive butternut squash… if you have a smaller one, cut the recipe in 1/2)

Curried Leek & Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 Tbsp. your fat of choice (bacon fat, lard, butter, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, etc…)
  • 2 medium leek, sliced in 1/2 lengthwise & sliced thin
  • 2 celery, diced
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (see tip below)
  • 5 lb. butternut squash, large diced, with skin on
  • 2 apples, cored & 1/4’d
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 c. chicken stock or bone broth
  • 1 can coconut milk

Heat a large soup pot and melt fat. Add leeks, garlic and ginger. Saute until soft. Add all spices, stir well. Cook for about 1 minute. Add squash, apples and chicken stock. Bring to boil, then simmer until squash is soft (~10-15 minutes). Let cool slightly, add coconut milk, and blend all ingredients (you may have to blend in multiple batches). Mix together and serve!

Tip: If you purchase a large ginger root, peel the whole thing and store it in the freezer for longer shelf life.  This also makes it much easier to grate (when it’s frozen).

Posted in Dairy Free, Eat Local, Eat Seasonal, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Main Dishes, New Year Revolution, Paleo, REAL Food, Recipes, Soups, Sugar-Free | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amazing Giveaway Reminder

How are those goals coming along?

Just a little reminder to send your goals to us at twosistersgf@gmail.com or post a comment on one of our New Year Revolution posts with your name and goals by January 31st (next Tuesday) so we can enter you into the giveaway. Once we receive your goals we will send you an email invite to join the online discussion forum (the New Year Revolution Community). We would love to share with you on this journey!

Share with us your commitment to embrace change in your life. Craft your revolutionary goals (craft at least four solid health-related goals for yourself – a 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1-year goal), adapt our simplified eating plan, pay attention to your lifestyle choices, and create positive change in your health and your life! Let us help you stay accountable, and upon achieving your goals, be entered to win one of three great prizes.

Keep working on your goals throughout the next 6 months (January 2012 through July 2012). Everyone who has met at least one of their 1-month, 3-month or 6-month goals will be entered in the giveaway. And because we really want to support you in achieving ALL your goals, successfully achieve one goal in each category (1-, 3- and 6-month) and you will get 2 additional opportunities to be entered, for a total of 3 chances to win. Keep us posted as to your progress on our blog, our New Year Revolution Community group, and/or via email.

So, are you ready to join our New Year Revolution?

Why not enlist a friend to join with you… share this on facebook, via twitter or any other means. Join us in creating a healthy 2012 and beyond for all your friends and family! Keep up-to-date on the New Year Revolution posts by following Two Sisters on Facebook or subscribing to our email feed.

And PLEASE invite others to join in this Revolution!

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