Monday, January 12, 2015

Thai Curry Lettuce Wraps

My neighbor's husband was recently diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. This was indeed a big blow for their family and would take making some major changes to their family's eating habits. I decided to whip up a quick meal that would not only be diabetic-friendly but also quick and delicious. This is one of my favorite recipes because it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare and very versatile. I used chicken this time, but you could easily use, tofu, shrimp, steak, and fish. You could certainly use all veggies. The possibililties are endless!


1 pound of chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces

1 baby yellow pepper

1 baby red pepper

1/4 cup of mushrooms chopped (I used a variety with shitake, oyster and porcini. If you don't have these on hand, white botton mushroom will work)

1 head of butter lettuce (If you can't find butter lettuce, you can use romaine lettuce.)

2 tablespoons of water chestnuts diced

2 tablespoons of bamboo shoots sliced into matchstick strips

1/2 small onion diced

1 tablespoon of Fish Sauce

1/4 cup of ponzu

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 tablespoon of red curry paste

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

Chopped cilantro, purple cabbage and carrots for garnish

(I am not using salt because the ponzu, fish sauce and red curry paste have enough sodium to flavor the dish. A little goes a long way.)

1. Heat the coconut oil in a sauce pan on medium to high heat. 
2. While the pan is heating, season the chicken with the garlic powder and ponzu. Add the chopped chicken to the pan. 
3. Add the maple syrup and sesame oil to the chicken. Allow the chicken to brown, approximately 5-7minutes.
4. Add the veggies (peppers, onions, water chestnuts, and the mushrooms) and the fish sauce.
5. Add the red curry paste. Stir to evenly coat ingredients.
6. Continue cooking until chicken is done and
veggies are tender.
7. Pull the butter lettuce leaves from the root.Gently clean the leaves. Dry them with a paper towel.

8. Arrange the garnish around the plate. I like to use purple cabbage, carrots and cucumbers. However, feel free to experiment.

9. Arrange the butter lettuce leaves around the plate. Gently spoon the chicken into the lettuce leaves. Garnish each lettuce wrap with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

I hope that you will try this super simple delicious recipe. Eating healthy does NOT have to be boring! Don't be afraid to try different variations such as adding more veggies like diced zucchini. Please share this recipe with your friends, give feedback and post your pics after you make the dish. Until next time.......

Love, Peace and Blessings,

The Natural Child 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oil of Oregano: A Wonder Oil

Oregano, the fragrant herb commonly used to flavor pasta and meat dishes, is known for itsversatility in the kitchen. But did you know that it can also be transformed into an herbal oil with a wide range of benefits? 
Oil of oregano is one of my favorite natural healing tools. I keep a small bottle in my purse and one at home. It has a wide range of uses. I use a drop every morning on my toothbrush. Whenever I start feeling like I'm catching a cold, I put one drop at the back of my throat and one drop under my tongue. This herbal oil is a powerful antimicrobial that can help fight off infections. Oregano oil also has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Oregano oil is high in phenols, which are natural phytochemical compounds with beneficial antioxidant effects. The two most abundant phenols in it are:
Thymol - a natural fungicide with antiseptic properties. It helps boost your immune system, works as a shield against toxins, and even helps prevent tissue damage and encourages healing.
Carvacrol – found to be effective against various bacterial infections, such as candida albicans, staphylococcus, E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella, klebsiella, the aspergillus mold, giardia, pseudomonas, and listeria.

Other healthful compounds in oregano oil include: 

Terpenes – known for their powerful antibacterial properties.

Rosmarinic acid – an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage and has shown promise in treating allergic asthma and preventing cancer and atherosclerosis. It also works as a natural antihistamine that reduces fluid buildup and swelling caused by allergy attacks.

Naringin - inhibits the growth of cancer cells and helps boost the antioxidants in oregano oil.

Beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP) - this substance inhibits inflammation and is also beneficial for conditions including osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis, as well as metabolic syndrome.


Make a spot treatment for your skin: Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, some experts have advocated the use oil of oregano to treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Combine 3 drops of oregano oil to 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil. Apply it to your problem areas with a cotton swab.. Let it soak in, but don’t use it directly on any broken skin like cuts or scrapes. 

Vaporize it: Dangerous bacteria can inhabit your respiratory system and cause trouble. To help your immune system fight a respiratory infection, put one drop of oil of oregano in a bowl of steaming water. Put a towel loosely over your head and inhale the steam once a day until you feel better. If your doctor has prescribed you antibiotics, don't stop taking them, and be sure to see a doctor if your symptoms are severe or don't improve.

Use it to brush your teeth: Oil of oregano also contains thymol, an ingredient used in many mouthwashes to combat bacteria, plaque and bad breath. Try adding a drop or two of oil of oregano on your toothbrush with toothpaste.
Treating foot or nail fungus: Put 10 drops of oregano oil in a basin of warm water and soak your feet in it. You can also dilute the oil (mix a drop with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil), and then apply it on your nails or skin.

You can find Oil of Oregano at most health food stores and retailers like: 
This is the brand I use

  • Whole Foods
  • Vitamin Shoppe
  • GNC

Oil of Oregano is VERY strong! A little goes a long way!This is a HOT oil - always dilute! Always test for skin sensitivity prior to widespread use. Do not use for children under 6 and dilute in greater amounts for children over 6 or for anyone with sensitive skin. Keep out of eyes, ears, or nose.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Oregano is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. There is concern that oregano in amounts larger than food amounts might cause miscarriage. 

Bleeding disorders: Oregano might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Allergies: Oregano can cause reactions in people allergic to Lamiaceae family plants, including basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, and sage.

Diabetes: Oregano might lower blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should use oregano cautiously.

Surgery: Oregano might increase the risk of bleeding. People who use oregano should stop 2 weeks before surgery.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Curry Chicken

I have always loved curry chicken. There's just something about the blend of spices, the beautiful
golden color and of course, the taste! I believe that healthy food does not have to be difficult to prepare or bland. I love to take my favorite recipes and create healthy alternatives. This curry chicken recipe is super simple and works for people on a budget. Because I am trying to watch my sodium intake, I use Badia Jamaican curry powder because it has great flavor without the sodium. You can find Badia spices in the international aisle of the grocery store. But remember to READ labels. Badia only has 15 mgs of sodium per serving (1/4 tsp.). My recipe calls for 6 tablespoons for 4lbs. of chicken. I did the math. And that equals 72 mgs of sodium for this curry chicken. I AM WINNING!!!!! This dish is also great for leftovers. 


4 lbs of chicken thighs
2-3 carrots
1/2 medium onion sliced
6 tablespoons of Jamaican curry powder
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
3 cups of water
2 carrots sliced at an angle
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Dried parsley
Salt to taste


1. Cut and wash chicken thighs. I like to cut the thighs in half with a pair of kitchen shears.
You can remove the skin or leave it on. It's totally up to you. Drain the chicken well and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Season the chicken with salt to taste, garlic powder and the curry powder. Remember not to go overboard with the salt. Store the seasoned chicken in Ziploc bags. Put the chicken in fridge for at least 1 hour to absorb spices. You have the option of marinating the chicken overnight.

3. Add the olive oil to your pan at high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Brown the thighs on both sides for about 3 minutes each side. Remember not to overcrowd your pan because this will bring down the temperature of your oil. You can do it in batches. Remove the chicken from the pan.

4. Add the sliced onions to the remaining oil. You will see bits in the pan. Don't worry! This is good stuff and will help to add super flavor to the "gravy" for this curry chicken. After onions began to sweat and turn translucent, add 2 cups of water. Take your spoon and scrape the bits from the pan. As you stir you will see the "gravy" start to form. 

5. Add the chicken back into the pan. Fold in chicken until it is well covered with "gravy" cover and bring to a rolling boil.

6. Lower heat to medium, add sliced carrots on top of chicken. If you need a little more water, you can gradually add more. Cover an let simmer for approximately 35 minutes. The chicken should be tender.

7. Garnish with dried parsley. Serve with veggies and starch of your choice. Traditionally, this dish is served with cabbage, rice and peas and plaintain.

Serves 6

Curry Chicken served with cabbage and stewed okra and tomatoes
I hope that you find this recipe simple to follow. Clean eating doesn't have to be hard and certainly doesn't have to be boring. Enjoy and don't forget to let me know how your dish turns out. 

Peace, Love and Blessings
----The Natural Child

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clean Eating: What's it all about?

Several years ago, I begin hearing the term "clean eating" used in health food markets. Of course, I was intrigued. I began doing some research. I learned that this term dated back to the mid 1990's when grocery chains were starting to "clean up" store brand ingredient lists by removing
unrecognizable terms. Consumers were starting to pay attention to how foods were made, what they were made of and health food stores were attracting more and more customers. Today, two decades later, clean eating, or eating clean, is a major movement, spurred by people from all walks of life who want to feel good about what they're putting in their bodies.

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is a great way to refresh your eating habits. It's about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups and less of the not-so-healthy ones. That simply means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. 

How do I eat clean?

1. Limit processed foods.
Many processed foods are full of excess sodium, sugar and fat. An easy way to clean up your diet is to look at the ingredient list on packaged foods. READ THE LABEL!!!! If the list is long or includes lots of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, try to stay away from it!
In my opinion not everything that comes out of a box, bag or can is bad for you. For example, baby spinach and chickpeas are both “clean” packaged foods. They are minimally processed and provide nutrients like fiber and vitamins.

2. Eat more veggies. 
Vegetables are full of vitamins and are also high in heart-healthy fiber, which helps you feel full.
Plus, veggies are low in calories, so you can eat lots of them without increasing your waistline. Fresh vegetables are essential. They are unprocessed! The recommended daily amount for most adults is 2½ to 3 cups. To make sure you get your fill, try carrots and hummus for a snack, start your meal with a salad, or try adding vegetables to your breakfast.

3. Cut down on saturated fats.
You don’t have to cut out fats when you’re eating clean; instead just focus on healthy fats. You can swap out saturated fats (like those in butter, cheese and meat) for healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil and the kind found in nuts and fish such as tuna, salmon or trout. These fats are good for your heart and can help raise your good HDL cholesterol. Need help identifying fats? Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. To cut back on saturated fat in your diet, try these simple swaps: top your salad with nuts instead of cheese, use peanut or almond butter instead of cream cheese and replace mayonnaise with avocado on a sandwich.

4. Limit your alcohol intake.

Having a cleaner diet also includes cleaning up what you drink. You can still have alcohol, but stay within the recommended limit. Too much alcohol dehydrates you and adds excess calories to your diet. Stay away of mixed drinks with lots of added sugar.
5. Un-sweeten your diet.
Most people consume too much added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. So let's be honest....the average person consumed 3 to 4 times the recommended amount in beverages alone. To clean up your diet, cut down on added sugars in your diet by limiting sweets like soda, candy and baked goods. Also keep an eye on sugars added to healthy foods like yogurt (choose plain varieties with no added sugar), tomato sauce and cereal. Look for foods without sugar as an ingredient, or make sure it’s listed towards the bottom, which means less of it is used in the food.
6. Watch the Salt.
Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. Many Americans eat more than the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day (that’s about one teaspoon of salt). Sodium is everywhere! It even hides in food items we think are healthy; like salad dressing. Try making your own. Its super simple and inexpensive. Cutting back on processed foods will help you reduce your salt intake, as most packaged foods contain more sodium than homemade versions. To help minimize salt while you cook, flavor your food with herbs and spices, citrus and vinegar.
7. Choose whole grains.

Whole grains include more nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ are not removed. Look for the word “whole” with the first ingredient in breads and pastas—for example, make sure it says “whole wheat,” not just “wheat.” Outside of whole wheat, choose whole grains like quinoa, oats and brown rice. 
8. Eat less meat.
Eating clean doesn’t mean giving up on meat entirely, but eating less meat can help eliminate extra saturated fat from your diet. A serving of meat is just 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards)—but portions served at resteraunts and even at home tend to be larger than that. Try serving vegetarian proteins like beans, tempeh or tofu on some nights and bulking up smaller portions of meat by serving it in soups or stir-fries.
9. Eat more fruit.

Fruit has been nicknamed “nature’s candy” for good reason—it’s naturally sweet and delicious. Fruit is also rich in potassium, which can help keep blood pressure in check, and vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. And just like vegetables, fresh fruits are whole, unprocessed foods. Frozen, canned and dried fruit is minimally processed and can be a great clean-eating choice as well. Just double-check the ingredient list to be sure that there is no sugar added, and look for fruit canned in its own juice. The recommended amount of fruit for most adults is 1½ to 2 cups per day. To make sure you get the added heart-health and weight loss benefits of fiber, choose whole fruits over fruit juice.
10. Eliminate refined grains.
Cutting out white flour and refined grains is an easy way to eat cleaner. Refined grains are more processed and often stripped of beneficial nutrients like magnesium, selenium and fiber. Plus, they’re typically found in unhealthy packaged foods, like baked goods and junk foods that may also deliver added sugars, saturated fats and extra sodium. Skip the packaged refined carbs like cookies, crackers and cakes altogether, and also swap white rice, white bread and white pasta for brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta.
Hopefully, this info has inspired you to adopt the clean eating lifestyle. Of course, nothing happens overnight and this is indeed a process. I promise you will see the benefits in the longrun.

Friday, July 4, 2014

How to Change Your Salty Ways in 21 Days

On average, American Adults consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily-more than double the American Heart Association's recommended limit. Many people are not aware of just how much sodium is in their diet, which can lead to serious health problems such as hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Sodium: Essential in small amounts
Your body needs some sodium to function properly because it:
  • Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body
  • Helps transmit nerve impulses
  • Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles
Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your body sodium is low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When body sodium is high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.
But if for some reason your kidneys can't eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to build up in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases, which makes your heart work harder and increases pressure in your arteries. Such diseases as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced.
Some people's bodies are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. If you're sodium sensitive, you retain sodium more easily, leading to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If this becomes chronic, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

Sodium: How much do you need?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you're age 51 or older, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
Keep in mind that these are upper limits, and less is usually best, especially if you're sensitive to the effects of sodium. If you aren't sure how much sodium your diet should include, talk to your doctor or dietitian.

Sodium: What are the major dietary sources?

The average American gets about 3,400 mg of sodium a day — much more than recommended. Here are the main sources of sodium in a typical diet:
  • Processed and prepared foods. The vast majority of sodium in the typical American diet comes from foods that are processed and prepared. These foods are typically high in salt and additives that contain sodium. Processed foods include bread, prepared dinners like pasta, meat and egg dishes, pizza, cold cuts and bacon, cheese, soups, and fast foods.
  • Natural sources. Some foods naturally contain sodium. These include all vegetables and dairy products, meat, and shellfish. While they don't have an abundance of sodium, eating these foods does add to your overall body sodium content. For example, 1 cup (237 milliliters) of low-fat milk has about 100 mg of sodium.
  • In the kitchen and at the table. Many recipes call for salt, and many people also salt their food at the table. Condiments also may contain sodium. One tablespoon (15 milliliters) of soy sauce, for example, has about 1,000 mg of sodium.
Virtually all Americans can benefit from reducing the sodium in their diet. Here are more ways you can cut back on sodium:

  • Eat more fresh foods. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. Also, fresh meat is lower in sodium than are luncheon meat, bacon, hot dogs, sausage and ham. Buy fresh or frozen poultry or meat that hasn't been injected with a sodium-containing solution. Look on the label or ask your butcher.
  • Opt for low-sodium products. If you do buy processed foods, choose those that are labeled "low sodium." Better yet, buy plain whole-grain rice and pasta instead of ones that have added seasonings.
  • Remove salt from recipes whenever possible. You can leave out the salt in many recipes, including casseroles, soups, stews and other main dishes that you cook. Look for recipes that focus on lowering risks of high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Limit use of sodium-laden condiments. Soy sauce, salad dressings, sauces, dips, ketchup and relish all contain sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices and other flavorings to season foods.Use fresh or dried herbs, spices, zest from citrus fruit, and fruit juices to jazz up your meals. Sea salt, however, isn't a good substitute. It has about the same amount of sodium as table salt.
  • Use salt substitutes wisely. Some salt substitutes or light salts contain a mixture of table salt and other compounds. To achieve that familiar salty taste, you may use too much of the substitute — and get too much sodium. Also, many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride. Although potassium can lessen some of the problems from excess sodium, too much potassium can be harmful especially if you have kidney problems or if you're taking medications for congestive heart failure or high blood pressure that cause potassium retention.

Know the Salty 6:

  1. Breads & Rolls
  2. Cold Cuts & Cured Meats
  3. Pizza
  4. Poultry
  5. Soup
  6. Sandwiches

Be a savvy shopper

Taste alone may not tell you which foods are high in sodium. For example, you may not think a bagel tastes salty, but a typical 4-inch (10-centimeter) oat-bran bagel has about 600 mg of sodium, and even a slice of whole-wheat bread contains about 100 mg of sodium.
So how can you tell which foods are high in sodium? Read food labels. The Nutrition Facts label found on most packaged and processed foods lists the amount of sodium in each serving. It also lists whether the ingredients include salt or sodium-containing compounds, such as:
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate)
  • Baking powder
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium nitrite
Try to avoid products with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. And be sure you know how many servings are in a package — that information is also on the Nutrition Facts label.

In 21 Days you can:
  • Change your sodium palate
  • Start enjoying foods with less sodium
  • Reduce bloating
Week 1:
  • Learn to read and understand food labels
  • Track your sodium intake
  • Look for lower sodium items
  • Log how much sodium you've shaved out of your diet
Week 2: 
  • If you eat pizza, make it one with less cheese and meats
  • Add more veggies to your pizza
  • Use fresh poultry rather than fried, canned or processed
Week 3: 
  • Try making your own soup. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 mg of sodium
  • Check labels and try lower sodium varieties
  • Use lower sodium meats, cheeses and condiments
  • Add plenty of fresh veggies to build healthier sandwiches

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Snack and Still Lose Weight

As a teacher, I never really snacked until I became pregnant with twins. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had to start eating about 6 times a day to regulate my blood sugar.Through that experience, I learned how to choose snacks that not only kept my blood sugar stable, but also helped me to lose weight.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals/snacks can be particularly helpful. Small meals/snacks eaten about every 2 1/2 to 3 hours tend to translate into more stable blood sugars throughout the day. When you graze instead of gorge, you avoid extreme hunger and tend not to overeat at any one meal.
To snack and lose weight, it's important to choose snacks that:
1. Are higher in fiber and important nutrients. Whole grains, beans, and fruits and vegetables contain fiber plus nutrients, and low-fat dairy and lean meats contain important nutrients, so your snacks aren't just contributing "empty" calories (calories without nutritional value). Include carbohydrates with lower glycemic indexes (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts) so the energy from the snack won't hit your blood stream quickly and all at once, thus triggering another craving when it wears off.
2. Are balanced with small amounts of protein and some of the more heart-helpful fats such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These more balanced snacks tend to feel more satisfying and filling, take longer to digest, and supply energy over a longer period of time. Plant foods such as nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive and canola oils offer these helpful fats, and the nuts and also offer protein to balance carbohydrate-rich foods.
Try the following:
1. A container of greek yogurt is a great snack at work or on the go. I prefer Greek yogurt because I has more protein and less carbohydrates than regular yogurt. A 7-ounce container has about 13 grams of available carbohydrate and a glycemic index of 20, adding up to a glycemic load of only 2! Add some fresh fruit, ground flaxseed, or reduced-fat granola to yogurt to make a fun snack parfait!

2.Fruit can travel well in your car or briefcase and come in handy for a quick pick-me-up, many offering just enough carbohydrates with a nice dose of fiber. You can make a more balanced snack by enjoying your fruit with cottage cheese, yogurt, or some cereal and milk.

3. Cut up fresh, raw vegetables and serve them with a light ranch dressing, or with peanut butter, reduced fat cheese, or cottage cheese. Look past the basic salad greens and baby carrots and try jicama sticks (a refreshing, crispy white root), zucchini coins, bell pepper rings, or lightly cooked and chilled snow pea pods or green beans.

4. The dried fruits in trail mix give you some fiber and carbohydrate calories, but the nuts help round the snack off with protein, fat, and some more fiber. (Tip: Stay away from those that include ingredients such as sesame sticks or dried banana chips that may contain trans-containing hydrogenated oils. If you choose a trail mix with chocolate chips or M&Ms, just make sure there is just a sprinkling).

5. Snacks need to be eaten slowly, too, just like meals. Don't forget that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full. Give that message time to work before you decide the snack didn't do the trick. Make a point of enjoying a flavored mineral water (the unsweetened, no-calorie kind) at the same time. This will help you eat the snack slower, too.

6. Snacks should be around 150-200 calories -- just enough energy to tide you over until your next meal but not so much that it contributes as many calories as a meal.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Mango Salad

I love a good salad! Salads are healthy, convenient, easy to make, and are just an open canvas for your to create a party in your mouth. My sweet friend Nia Cleveland sent me a picture of this gorgeous salad that she made yesterday. I wanted to share it. This recipe does not need any measurements. It's all up to you. Be creavtive. Add more veggies if you like.This salad makes a perfect side dish. You could even add a protein like broiled fish, chicken, or beef to create a healthy entree. What possibilties!  Enjoy!

Summer Mango Salad

romain lettuce
green onion
diced mango
no salt salad seasoning
dash of sea salt
black pepper
vinaigrette of your choice (raspberry, pomegranate or lime are great!)