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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peaceful Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

I love to make the bulk of my Christmas gifts each year. Last year I made (with the sewing help of my sister) eye pillows filled with dried herbs, the year before some pieces of my handmade jewelry, the year before that I crafted ornaments out of natural cinnamon sticks, etc. I love getting crafty and thinking of what I will make for everyone each year. I enjoy taking the time on each gift and thinking about the person it's going to. It makes it so much more special than going out and buying something and really helps me connect to what the holiday is all about.

This year I got creative in the kitchen and baked my vegan peanut butter oatmeal cookies for everyone. Unfortunately, because of the snow today, 'Christmakuh' has been rescheduled! No worries though, I have the cookies safely stowed in the freezer until we meet to celebrate.

Here is my yummy, cruelty-free recipe. Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday!

Lauren's Peaceful Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 canola oil (non-GMO of course!)
3/4 cup chunky all-natural peanut butter (my favorite is Smart Balance!)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
Toss together the flour, oats, baking powder, nuts, chocolate chips, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together the oil, peanut butter, sugars, soy milk, and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix. The dough will be very firm and moist.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and round with hand, then place onto cookie sheet. Gently flatten each cookie to a 1/2-inch thickness. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Allow to cool at least 10 minutes for firm up before moving off the cookie sheet.

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Delicious Clementines

Clementines are one of my favorite fruits this time of the year. They're effortless to peel, usually seedless and so juicy and delicious!

Health Benefits

Clementines are a sweet citrus fruit available throughout the wintertime, mid-November through March. One clementine is only about fifty calories. They are packed with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. They are also very rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene as well as ascorbic acid, nutrients which when consumed on a daily basis reduces age-related vision loss.

History & Trivia

The history of the clementine is unclear in many ways. Some believe it was an Algerian monk that first discovered the natural hybrid fruit. (Clementines are a hybrid between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin.) Others believe that the clementine originated in China much earlier. Either way, in 1909, the fruit came to the USA, and is now enjoyed as a winter favorite by Americans everywhere. The majority of clementines are imported from Spain, Morocco and North Africa. Although its always better to eat locally grown produce, we can make an acceptation for these!

Selection & Storage Tips

Clementines should be bright orange and slightly glossy. Purchase those that are firm, yet give a slight indentation when you squeeze them. Make sure they have no blemishes, and especially no shriveled skin. They can be stored up to a week in a bowl at room temperature. They will last two weeks in the refrigerator. Clementines make a great snack anytime, and are also a nice addition to salads, both fruit salads and green, leafy salads. The juice of clementines can be added to salad dressings for a sweet, refreshing tang! However you prefer your clementines, enjoy them all through the winter while they are at their best!

Keep it Fresh!

- Lauren

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Rwandan Journey... An Introduction

Inspired by my own blog entry a while back, and a cloudy, rainy morning in Kigali, I woke up and decided to attempt to make a batch of gluten-free, vegan pancakes. I must say they came out delicious!! I have limited ingredients here, of course, so i needed to make a few substitutions here and there, but there is certainly not a lack of whole foods in this country. Believe it or not, finding non-wheat flours here is super easy. They do not grow wheat here so most of the flours are made from cassava, millet, rice or sorghum. I used a mix of cassava and millet flour, substituted the sugar for some agave (that one was brought from home) and substituted the soy or dairy milk for coconut milk. Sprinkled in some cinnamon and voila!

It is mornings like these that I realize the simplicity of things, especially cooking. Using fresh, local ingredients makes it so easy and healthy. It is so satisfying to wake up and be able to indulge in such a breakfast. But it is also makes me feel a bit guilty. It makes me wonder how so many people can be hungry here when there is such an abundance of healthy whole foods.

I had the opportunity to find out the answer to that question over the last two weeks as I helped Gardens For Health International (GHI) conduct surveys of households all over the city, to whom they provide assistance. I got to see a lot of Kigali, and meet some amazing people in the process. An experience that certainly was a reminder of how much we take for granted.

GHI partners with 10 different co-ops throughout Kigali, all of which provide land for households with at least one member suffering from HIV. The land is used to grow crops in order to provide food security and nourishment to support their treatment. Throughout the course of the week I was paired up with a young Rwandan temp named Alfred, to conduct surveys in these households to help get a better idea of what foods they eat, what foods they grow, and if the gardens supplied by GHI are aiding in their adherence to treatment.

I knew that life here in Kigali was simple and that its people didn’t have much, but I don’t think you can ever really be prepared to witness the reality of life in an underdeveloped African nation. Nor do I think I could ever do it justice in writing, but I feel the need to try. However, in an effort to keep these blog posts short(er), I will describe my experience in a series of entries over the next week. An experience that has made me appreciate what I have, and realize how life here can be so difficult and so simple at the same time. So stay tuned!

Introducing....The Healthy Chick Club!

Believe it or not, new years is just around the corner.

Each year countless individuals make all sorts of resolutions and commitments to improve their body, mind and health. More often than not, the resolutions are broken within the first few weeks of the new year. This can leave you disappointed and discouraged. This year, 3 Healthy Chicks have decided to elevate, inspire and support our clients by offering New Years Resolution support.

If you want to learn how to cook healthy food, gain energy, lose weight or just stay motivated to live a healthy chick life, you're found the right counseling group. We’ve created the Healthy Chick Club for you – it’s an opportunity to benefit from health counseling in a small group environment.

Working with 3 Healthy Chicks has changed my life! I highly recommend Lauren, Terra and Jill. They have consistently motivated and challenged me to lead a healthier lifestyle. The benefits of diet and lifestyle changes over the past 6 months are numerous. I feel healthier and as a result also think and act healthier! Not only do I feel better, I know my energy level is much higher and I’m getting lots of attention from co-workers who want to know what I did to look better. They too want to look and feel better and assume I am on some fad diet. I simply tell them the truth…. I eat whole foods and have made positive choices with the assistance of 3 Healthy Chicks! !

~ Suzanne, Long Branch, NJ

It’s time to take a step beyond the computer screen, people. Reading is cool, but doing is even cooler. Join us in 2010 as a member of Healthy Chick Club!

How does The Healthy Chick Club work?

The Healthy Chick Club meets twice per month via conference call. You don’t have to drive anywhere, just dial in by phone or Skype from the comfort of you own home!

We’ll discuss topics ranging from nutrition to exercise, to stress relief to relationships. Paying special attention to individual goals, and create a step-by-step plan of action to get everyone moving forward. You’ll receive the support of the group, as well as personal attention and coaching from 3 Healthy Chicks, holistic health counselors certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

That's so Fresh! What else do I get?
You’ll stay connected to the group 24/7 through an online forum on The Healthy Chick Message Boards. You can share stories, ask for advice, and get support from a community of like minded people. You’ll also receive handouts and recipes each time we meet.

How do I sign up?
The easiest way to register is to email 3healthychicks@gmail.com. We will contact you about your registration. Payments can be made by cash, check or credit card via paypal. There are a few Healthy Chick Club Options:

3-month membership for just $275

6-month membership for only $475

Spaces for the 2010 Healthy Chick Club are limited to the first 10 people registered. So don't delay, make 2010 your healthiest year ever!!!