Thursday, January 5, 2017

Food Additives and Your Health

Good nutrition can help us cope with everyday happenings, from how well we handle stress to how well we sleep at night and everything else in between.  Just as good nutrition can help us in all other facets of our lives,  so can chemical preservatives and additives cause vague symptoms of ill health and diminish our coping ability.

Chemical preservatives in our food can cause breathing difficulties, behavior change, fatigue and depression, to name a few.  Many times these symptoms begin slowly, so we do not make the connections between what we eat and how we feel.  This is a journey of observation and change.

Begin by keeping a daily record of your diet.  You will find making changes will be easier if you have a starting point. Make this record as accurate as possible, as it is important to know what you are eating so you can make lasting changes.   Keep this record long enough to see a pattern in your eating habits.  Eating and emotions are connected, so keep a record of your emotional condition as it relates to your diet and eating habits.  Keep your record as detailed as possible, as little things may be more important than you think.

Until next time, start your food journal, think and observe.  To your good health!!!

The "nuts" at Black Walnut T's

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wholesome Foods

Now more than ever, it is essential to take control of our health and food choices.
Rising costs, including health care, food and other necessities make budgeting an
ongoing challenge.  

Food choices can be a good way to begin a path to better health, while helping
with the budget.  Always start with fresh vegetables and fruits, organic if possible,
using canned and frozen foods as a back up.  Eliminate as many processed foods as
possible, as the body does not obtain maximum nutrition from them.  The body
thrives on  fresh food.  Fresh foods are budget friendly.  Next time you shop, notice the
difference in cost between fresh foods and pre-packaged/processed foods.  

Many times people do not like vegetables because they have become too 
accustomed to the taste and convenience of packaged foods.  These foods
may become addictive due to the additives they contain.  Do some research
and learn about additives, their side effects and how they effect food cravings. 
A good place to start, research potato chips and why it is advertised you can’t
eat just one!  Once you start learning about processed foods, it will become easier
to change your eating habits to healthier fruits and vegetables.  

Vegetables can be prepared in  many ways that are tasty and satisfying.  Now,
more than ever, internet access allows us to search for recipes for our favorite
vegetables and fruits.  There are also web sites for substitutions for ingredients
you may not have on hand.  You Tube is helpful if your vegetable preparation
skills are not up to par.  I have found it to be very beneficial for ideas of how to
cut, serve and present fruits and vegetables in a attractive manner.  You can also
find recipes on You Tube.  

Changing  habits can be a challenge to some of us, but with persistence and 
knowledge, it will become easier.  My goal with this blog is to help you live
a healthier and happier life by offering what I have learned through research and
experience.  However, the responsibility is yours to take control of you health, diet
and life.  So here's to your first step.  

Thank you for visiting our blog.
the Black Walnut “nuts”  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Basic Cooking Herbs

Herbs add extra flavor and nutrients to our meals.  Dried or fresh, herbs enhance and meld the flavors of our food.  This month I have for you a few common herbs and 'go withs'

Basil:  veal, lamb, poultry, shellfish, fish tomatoes, salads, potatoes.

Oregano:  meats, pork, poultry, seafood, tomatoes, potatoes, cheeses, egg dishes.

Rosemary:  lamb, pork, poultry, fish, tomatoes, salads, cheeses,  egg dishes, soups.

Sage:  meats, lamb, fish, vegetables, salads, stuffing, baked goods and breads.

Thyme:  fish, shellfish, cottage cheese, soups, stews.

Majoram, beef, pork, poultry, fish, potatoes, salads, cheese dishes, soup, stews.

Mint:   some recipes call for mint.  Mint is also used in beverages, fruit drinks, teas, hot or
           cold and candies.

Herb butters are especially good.  Make these by mixing finely chopped fresh or dried herbs into softened butter.  Add a little lemon juice if desired for flavor.  Also, combine dried herbs in a small jar to have on hand, this makes it fast and easy to add to soups, stews, salads and other dishes.

I would encourage you to experiment, this is a good way to learn more about herbs and flavor combining recipes.  Go ahead, tap into your creativity and you will be surprised at what you will learn.

This is a shout list of food and herb parings.  There are many more uses for herbs in everyday cooking as well as substitutions.  Thyme and sage are two that can be used interchangeably.

Tip:   One tablespoon of fresh herbs is equal to one teaspoon of dry herbs.

Pungent Cheese Herbs
Use this recipe to flavor fresh goat cheese or cream cheese

Dried basil       2 tablespoons
Dried parsley   1 tablespoon
Dried chives    1 tablespoon
Dried thyme    1 tablespoon
Dried marjoram   1 tablespoon
Coarsely cracked black pepper   1 teaspoon

Mix well and store in a jar.  Makes about 1/3 cup.

Source:  The Kitchen Pantry by Emily Tolley and Chris Mead  page 36

ps:  I think this would be good in butter as well.

That's it for today.  Thanks for stopping by and reading our blog.
Wishing you a happy spring and lots of sunshine.

The Nut's at Black Walnut T's

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Herbs for Change

Herbs and spices are a way to add interest, flavor and nutrition to your diet.  Changing your relationship with food should be an adventure, after all, this is becoming a permanent change.  For some, change can be overwhelming, so let's keep it simple.  For the adventuresome, it's time to start experimenting.

We will start with basic culinary herbs.  Basil is an all time favorite.  If you have access to a health food or natural food store, you can purchase dry herbs in bulk.  These herbs will be more flavorful and cost less than the bottled selections at the market and you can purchase the amounts you need, always keeping your dried herbs fresh.  But again, we start where we are and bottled herbs and spices from the market is a good place to start.  This is the way I started many years ago and I loved the pretty bottles, so I saved them and they came in quite handy for storing the herbs as I begin buying them from the bulk section of the co-op where I shopped.

Now back to basil.  You can also grow basil, even if you are a city dweller with limited space. Find a window sill with good light and basil has found a home.  Most supermarkets carry potted herbs, so give it a try.  They may also carry small bags of potting soil and pots in the flower section so you can repot your herb as it grows, check it out.  One thing about basil, the more you use the better it grows,  so go ahead and snip what you need and then watch the new growth start.  It is this way with herbs, they love to share their wonderful flavor with us humans.  You an can also add oregano and thyme, now you have extra tasty spaghetti, pastas and salads, plus the pleasure of using fresh, live herbs.

If growing herbs is not for you, the produce section also has fresh herbs, some are prepackaged and some are  in bunches.  You have lots of choices when it comes to herbs, just pick the one or ones that best suit the way you prepare your meals.  Personally, I like having dried herbs on hand, in case I'm in between growing seasons and haven't been to the market to pick up a fresh stash.

A few foods that pair well with basil are tomatoes, potatoes, salads, shellfish and poultry. The recipe for this week is Pesto.  It is versatile and can be used in several ways.


Pesto may be added to soups and stews as is.  It may also be blended with milk, cream or wine to make a sauce for pasta, fish, chicken or fresh vegetables.

Basic Recipe
   1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh or frozen herb leaves*
   2 large cloves garlic
   1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
   2 teaspoons freshly grated Romano cheese
   1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine herbs, garlic and cheeses in a food processor.  Turn on the processor and slowly add oil and nuts.  Blend until a paste is formed . Season to taste. Pour into a glass container with 1/4 inch skim of plain oil (or olive oil) on top and cover tightly.  Store in refrigerator.

You can leave out the cheese and garlic and freeze the  pesto in serving-size portions (spoon it into ice cube trays, freeze, remove promptly and permanently store them in tightly sealed freezer containers)  add cheeses and garlic when ready to use.

*Use any one of the following quantities and combinations
Option 1:  2 cups basil
Option 2:  1 cup basil and 1 cup watercress
Other options: 1/2 cup oregano (savory, sage, tarragon or thyme) and 1 1/2 cups parsley.

Recipe taken from the publication:

Herbs    A guide to Growing, Cooking and Decorating
    Contributing Writer:  Carol Landa Christensen
    Consultant:  Kathi Kerville
    Projects Coordinator:  Don Newcomb
by Publication  International, LTD

Next time we will look at paring basic culinary herbs with foods and the health giving values of these wonderful and tasty herbs.

Herbs to your health from the
Black Wal-nuts.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Changing for Better Health

Whether your dietary change is for weight loss, to improve your health or to simply feel better and increase your energy level, we will look at a few simple ways to get started toward meeting your goals..

Take a look at your pantry shelves.  Look for food items that are high in carbohydrates and sugar.  Many of these foods also contain white flour.  Even those foods claiming to be whole wheat are not always 100% whole wheat.  Remember, the more a food is processed, the less nutrients it contains, even if the label says nutrients have been added, it is simply not the same as nutrients form whole foods.  The goal here is to decrease the amount of processed foods you eat and increase the fresh whole  foods you eat.  Start removing processed foods from yours shelves and look for whole food replacements, to include a variety of fruits to fill the void left by eliminating sugary snacks.  Even though fruits have sugar, they also contain nutrients and micro nutrients which are not found in proceeded snacks.  Eliminate items such as chips, crackers, cookies, snack cakes and other seemingly health snack foods.  These foods can be hidden sources of fats, sugar, carbohydrates and additives you are not aware you are eating.  Again, always read the labels and educate yourself on the additives and ingredients.  I cannot stress this enough. The internet is a very good place to start.

Since our life style is busy with work, family and activities, it leaves us with less time for meal preparation.  Lets face it, we live in a speed driven society.  Everyone is in a hurry, from traffic to work productivity to getting everything we think we must do packed into a twenty four hour day.  It leaves us with less time to attend to ourselves.  Food preparation takes time, that is evident in the amount of eatery's we have and it also encourages us to eat out more than we should.  Remember, even though eating out relieves  the stress of figuring out what to have for dinner, it is not the healthiest choice if we eat out routinely.  Simply start where you are, look at your goals and your relationship with food, then you will begin to find ways to make the changes you want  to make.

This month's recipe:  Black Bean Soup
A warming soup for a cold winter's day.

2 cups dried black beans (or 3 cans cooked black beans)
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1/2 jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp shoyu soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme

Soak beans overnight ( or at least 8 hours)  Alternately, cover with almost boiling water, soak for 2 hours.  Rinse beans and cover with fresh water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 2-3 hours.

If desired, puree half the beans in a food processor and return to the pot.  I prefer leaving all of the beans whole.  Sauté onions in olive oil until they are transparent, then add minced garlic.  Add chopped celery, jalapeños, carrots, soy sauce, bay leaf and thyme to the beans and about a pint of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender.  Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Garnish with a dollop of four cream and salsa.  Serve with crackers or hot homemade cornbread and a simple garden salad.  A healthy dinner with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs for energy and vitality.

**adapted from a recipe by Paul, an employee of Sevananda Natural Food Co-0p in Atlanta, GA**

Until next time, eat well, stay warm and feeling great!!!

The Nuts at Black Walnut T's

Monday, January 11, 2016

Good Morning and Happy New Year

Yes, it still the new year and we, here at Black Walnut T's hope your new year is getting off  on a positive note and you are working daily to reach your new years goals.  Sometimes that can be challenging, as we are upbeat and happy about our goals and resolutions during the holidays and the years end,  only to find we get caught up in the same routines that got us in a place of stresses, hurriedness and discouragement in the first place.  Then our goals and resolutions get pushed aside as everyday life requires our immediate attention.  Our goal is to help you  keep those goals and resolutions in the forefront of your day, so you may feel empowered by reaching the goals that will improve your life and bring you happiness.
During the holidays I had some time to think about the changes I wanted to make in the new year.  One thing I decided to do is to continue this blog alone the lines of health and wellness, to include recipes, herbal information, stress management and address some chronic diseases and how to manage them with diet, exercise, relaxation and fulfillment of that which makes you happy.  As I write this blog, I  plan to walk beside you on this journey towards good health, happiness, prosperity and peace.

I'm starting by including a really tasty, quick and healthy green smoothie to start your morning.  I found this recipe on the Vita Mix website.  Any blender should work.

How To Create Your Own Green Smoothie

1.   Choose one item from each column, A, B & C
2.   Place all of your ingredients in the Vitamix (or blender), liquid first, soft ingredients then firmer
3.   Add one cup of ice.
4.   Secure the lid and elect Variable 1
5.   Turn machine on slowly and increase to your machine's highest speed
6.   Blend for 45 seconds or until smooth.
7.   Drink and enjoy.
If using a blender follow blender manuel instructions for making smoothies.

Column A (choose 1 item)

2 cups spinach
1 cup kale
1/2  head of romaine
1 romaine heart
3/4 cup raw broccoli
1 small head of Bibb or Boston lettuce

Column B (choose 1 item)

1 cup grapes
1 apple
1 orange, peeled
1 cup melon, peeled
1 cup pineapple
1 cup berries
1 banana, peeled
1/2 cup cucumber, peele or unpeeled
1 kiwi, peeled
1 carrot
1 cup peaches
1 mango, peeled
1/2 cup papaya, peeled
2 stalks celery
1 pear

Column C (choose 1 item)

1 cup soy milk (plain or vanilla)
1 cup yogurt (flavored or plain)
1 cup fruit juice
1 cup water
Note:   I have found original coconut milk works well and this is what I use in this smoothie)

There you have it.  An easy, refreshing and nutritious start to your day.  I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as I have.  Let me know how it works for you.

Until next time, drink (a smoothie) to your good health and happiness.

The Nuts at Black Walnut T's

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Recipe for the Holiday

Christmas brings us many family traditions and traditional recipes.  This year, step outside the box and try something a little different.  I found this recipe on the Epicurious website and it was a big hit with our family last Christmas.  I'd like to share it with you and maybe you will add a new dish to your traditional dinner.  It pairs well with turkey, cranberry sauce and other vegetable dishes on your dinner table.

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large)
1   Tablespoon Dijon mustard
4   Teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4  Teaspoon salt
1/4   Cup olive oil
4    Scallions, thinly sliced

Peel sweet potatoes, halve lengthwise, cut lengthwise into 3/4 inch wedges, then cut wedges crosswise into 1-inch pieces.  Steam over boiling water in a large pot, covered, until just tender, 10-12 minutes.

While the potatoes steam, whisk together mustard, vinegar and salt in a large bowl, then add oil in a slow steady steam, whisking until emulsified.  Add hot potatoes, gently toss to combine.  Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.  Add scallions and salt to taste, gently toss.

Cook's tip:  May be made 2 hours ahead of time.  Toss in scallions just before serving.

Find other delicious recipes at

Christmas is getting closer, so remember to slow down, be kind to yourself and enjoy the love and sharing of family and friends…..'tis the season……..

From all of us at Black Walnut Shirts wish you and yours all of the joy of the Christmas season.

The Nuts at Black Walnut T's
May your Christmas be nutty and bright