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Guest Post: Herbal Teas

As you can probably tell by the extreme decrease in the frequency of our posts lately, we have been really busy! Between working and summer track, we are almost never home! We joke with people that we live out of our car, but to be perfectly honest, we’re not really kidding. Everywhere we go, we have a change of clothes, work clothes, running clothes, a million different pairs of shoes, lots of snacks, even over night stuff! We just never know where we’re going to be! 

Of course, we’d be lying if we said that it was all work and running keeping us away from the blog.  We’ve also been spending a lot of time having fun with friends, going to the beach, chilling on patios – you know, summer stuff. We haven’t been spending all that much time in the kitchen, really. Hence the lack of posts! So of course, we have happily been accepting guest posts. 🙂

Today’s post is from Elaine Rosales, who is currently researching herbs and their uses. Today, she’s here to talk about herbal teas. Take it away, Elaine!

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Have You Tried These Herbal Teas?

If you are looking for a calming and refreshing beverage that’s not only delicious but also soothing, then your best choice is tea. Next to water, tea is the most popular beverage on Earth. Health experts agree that drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking several glasses of water – maybe even better.

However, there is still a great deal of debate as to what tea is the most beneficial. Green tea and black tea, both from the Camellia sinensis plant, are the most recommended. However, there is growing research saying that herbal teas, such as ginger, jasmine, and tulsi tea, can also offer you immense benefits.

Herbal teas are a wonderful deviation from the usual Camellia sinensis teas you drink. Some have a mild floral flavor, like rose tea and lavender tea, while others are spicy and tangy, such as peppermint tea and licorice root tea.

There are also herbal teas that are native to certain places only, such saw palmetto tea. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), actually a palm rather than an herb, is found primarily in the southeast region of the United States. Florida Native American tribes, such as the Miccosukee and Seminole, considered it to be an important food source.

Saw palmetto tea is made from the saw palmetto berries, which are either dried or boiled to produce a soothing and unique-tasting tea.

You can buy herbal tea bags or loose leaf tins from supermarkets, but you should make them at home to fully appreciate them. Here are three easy herbal tea recipes you can try.

Soothing Ginger Tea

Ginger tea not only helps you detoxify, but also helps bolster your immune system. Here is a simple ginger tea recipe from The Healthy Advocate.

Ingredients:

  • Two tbsps. ginger, peeled and freshly grated
  • One cup of hot (almost boiling) water
  • One cup room temperature water
  • Almond milk or coconut milk (optional)
  • Stevia (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Pour hot water over the fresh ginger, and let it steep for 30 minutes. You can also steep it overnight for a stronger brew. Make sure the container is properly covered.
  2. Strain the ginger and add one cup of room temperature water. For a creamier brew, add coconut or almond milk. Sweeten with a small amount of stevia.

Sweet Hibiscus Tea

Made from the blossoms of the hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), hibiscus tea was the beverage of choice of the ancient Pharaohs in the ancient Nile Valley. This tea was also widely popular in various countries, such as China, Mexico, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. Hibiscus tea is known for its unique and slightly sweet flavor, and is even used in various ceremonies.

Here is a simple hibiscus tea recipe from Stef of The Cupcake Project.

Ingredients:

  • Two cups dried hibiscus flowers, rinsed
  • Eight cups of water
  • Raw honey or stevia

Procedure:

  1. Put four cups of water, honey, and the hibiscus flower in a large saucepan. Put it over a stove on high heat.
  2. When the mixture boils, cover and lower the heat. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from heat. Use a colander to strain out the hibiscus flowers.
  4. For a warm tea, dilute the tea with a few cups of cold water. If you want an ice-cold drink, let the tea cool to room temperature first. Add ice and chill in the freezer for several minutes before serving.

Tea is a delightful and refreshing beverage that you will surely love. Opt for this healthy drink instead of sugar-loaded and processed sodas and fruit drinks.

About the Author

Elaine Rosales loves reading Mercola health articles. She is currently researching different types of herbs and their many uses. Her recent report is about the uses of organic saw palmetto – as a delicious tea and beyond. 

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What a great, informative post Elaine! We hope that those of you who haven’t tried herbal teas now will, and those that have will drink them more often! We know we will be. 🙂

And we promise that we will continue to be posting throughout the summer, however we can’t promise they’ll be any more frequent than they have been – we’re having way too much fun!

~twosaucysisters

Dipping and Decisions

Greece-Slide1-Santorini

 

Doesn’t that look nice?

This is a picture of Santorini, Greece. Neither of us have ever been to Greece, but it is definitely on our “Must Go” list. There’s so much culture, it’s warm, and of course, who doesn’t love Greek food? Souvlaki, olives, figs – deeeelicious!

One of the most famous dishes to come out of Greece (besides the yogurt) is Tzatziki, and with good reason! It’s creamy, garlicky, yet still fresh and bright, thanks to the cucumber.  So good. One of our favourite dips, actually. It can sometimes be a tough call between Tzatziki and hummus. Well, that decision just got a whole lot easier – we combined them!

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Tzatziki-hummus, anyone?

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A beautiful blend of two different cultures (middle eastern + Greek), kind of reminds us of our Greek Nachos… we sure do love culture-crossing over here!

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For this dip, we blended tzatziki ingredients into the hummus, though for a simpler version (ahem – cheater! Cheater!) you could also blend some store-bought tzatziki into a plain or roasted garlic hummus.

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However you choose to prepare it, this dip is creamy, refreshing and perfect for when you just can’t make that decision between Tzatziki and Hummus.

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Enjoy! 🙂

Tzatziki – Hummus

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Prep time: 5 min
Total Time: 10min
Makes: ~2c.

Ingredients:

2 c. chick peas
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
pepper
water, for thinning.

Directions:

In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all ingredients except the water and the chickpeas. Blend until combined and creamy. Add the chickpeas and blend until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add water to reach desired consistency, if desired.

~twosaucysisters

What’s your favourite – hummus or tzatziki?

Guest Post: Jason from Blog Carnival

Hey everyone! 

So a little while back, Jason from Blog Carnival emailed us offering to write a guest post for us! He had a lot of really good ideas for this post, but finally settled on something that we LOVE to do here at Two Saucy Sisters – Easy Substitutions that Don’t Cut Out Flavour!

As we’ve said on the blog before, simply swapping out one ingredient for another  can take a once unhealthy dish and make it a health superstar! Of course, when it comes down to it, if it doesn’t taste good it doesn’t matter how good-for-you it is, you won’t want to eat it! So, without further ado, here’s Jason with some simple substitutions that keep your dish tasting awesome! 🙂

When I am cooking and baking I tend to get a little crazy with my substitutions. I have to admit
that I am not the most well prepared cook. I tend to find out that I am out of an essential part of
my recipe halfway through the mixing process. Oh no! Beyond that I have also been trying to
cook healthier meals with less fat because a member of my family has some health issues. If you
are like me, then here are some helpful substitutions that you can use when you are in a jam or
just when you want to cut calories:

1. Vanilla for sugar – I don’t know how I go through sugar so fast, but it seems like I
need to pick up a new bag every time I go to the store. When I was baking the other day
I found myself lacking in the sugar department. Instead of freaking out I just used less
sugar and added more vanilla flavoring. Adding just a teaspoon of vanilla can help you
to cut out almost half of the sugar called for in a recipe. Now, I am not advocating this in
very delicate dishes, but for your average dessert you can make the switch with no cutting
down on flavor.

vanilla
2. Apple sauce for butter or eggs – Butter cannot be substituted for all the way, but you
can cut out half. If a recipe calls for two sticks of butter try adding one stick and a half
of a cup of apple sauce. While you do need some butter for the recipe to be successful in
most desserts, you can easily cut it down with applesauce. Just don’t try this in a white
or yellow cake because the apple flavor will come through! You can also substitute apple
sauce for eggs, but again I would go for half and half. A quarter cup of applesauce makes
up for one large egg.

applesauce-2Souce

3. Neufatchel cheese for cream cheese – Think of this as light cream cheese. It has less fat
but tastes exactly the same. Super easy and it can be found in almost any grocery store
right next to the cream cheese. I use it on my bagels and never miss the extra fat.

neufchatel-cheese-2
4. Low fat cottage cheese for ricotta – Although cottage cheese tends to be a little thinner
than ricotta you can still use it in many recipes. You can thicken it up with a bit of flour
or corn starch if you would like, but I find that the thinness doesn’t bother me. Using low
fat cottage cheese can save you a lot of calories with no effort or loss of taste! If you want
you can add cinnamon, lemon, or other flavors to spice it up a bit.

cottage cheese
5. Olive oil for butter – I love making recipes with phyllo dough. Spanakopita is my
absolute favorite dish. However I did not like using all that butter to make the layers nice
and crispy. That is when I discovered you can use olive oil instead. Just a few drops can
cover a whole sheet. Be careful to use only good quality extra virgin oil or it will give it
a slight olive flavor. If you do not have that available you can also do a half and half mix
for the best flavor to fat ratio. Olive oil lets the phyllo get nice and toasty and makes your
dishes look beautiful!

olive-oil

These are just a few of the ways that you can use healthy and tasty substitutes without having to
go out of your way or change the flavor of your dish. There are many more out there, so the next

time you are looking to cut calories or just missing an ingredient take a minute to see if there is a
healthy and easy alternative!

Author Bio: Jason Miner plays a vital role for http://www.blogcarnival.com. He is an expert in writing
topics of different categories. He is helping the carnival team to grow & working on making this
an even better place for bloggers.

Thanks so much Jason! What a great post, we certainly learned a thing or two! 🙂 Make sure you all head over to Blog Carnival and check it out – it’s pretty cool!

And to anyone else who thinks they want to write for us, shoot us an email at twosaucysistas@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you! 🙂

~twosaucysisters

Empty Pantry, Open Mind

When we’re away at school, we get very used to the ingredients that we always have on hand, plus we have the ability to pick up something new or interesting on a whim while grocery shopping. When we go home for a weekend, it’s always a slightly awkward adjustment, because at home our family doesn’t keep nearly the variety of ingredients we do in their fridge and cupboard. Combine that with the inconvenient long-weekend grocery store hours of last weekend, and you’ve got yourself severely under-stocked pantries. Thankfully, our Dad is a forward-thinker and does his best to pick up some of the veggies and other items that he knows we like to have, however we never quite know what there will be until we get home, and we usually don’t know exactly what we’re going to make, so we can’t always give him the heads up!

This calls for some serious creativity!

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When we arrived on Easter weekend, we found chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and orange juice. Naturally, we decided to put them all together!

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In case you didn’t know, sweet-potato and orange is a fantastic combination! This sweet potato-carrot mash is quite reminiscent of one of our favourite sides  by one of our favourite bloggers, just with a citrus and sweet potato twist! Just as delicious, we assure you!

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It was a beautiful weekend, perfect weather to fire up the grill, so to go along with the citrus theme of the sweet potato-carrot mash, we made a honey-orange glaze and gave it to our Dad to spread on the chicken while barbeque-ing. It turned out fantastic, with that great off-the-grill taste mixed with the fresh sweetness of oranges.

Dinner-time perfection! 🙂

Orange-Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potato and Carrot Mash

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Prep time: 15min
Cook time: 45 min
Serves: 5

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:

5 medium sized boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. 100% orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic salt
ground black pepper

For the Mash:

2 large sweet potatoes
5 medium sized carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 white onion
1.5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp milk of choice
1 tbsp orange juice

Directions:

For the chicken:

In a small frying pan, combine the orange juice and honey. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until it reduces by half, about 10min. Stir in the rosemary, garlic salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the grill to medium-low, brush both sides of the chicken with the glaze and grill for approximately 30min, flipping every 10min, until cooked through.

For the mash: 

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
Chop the sweet potatoes and carrots into 1-inch peices. Toss the sweet potato, carrots and garlic cloves with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1/4 tsp of salt. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 35-45 min or until soft and mash-able.

Meanwhile, heat 1.5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Slice onion into thin strips and place in the pan. Cook for 20min, stirring frequently, until caramelized.
Once the vegetables are finished in the oven and the onions are caramelized, transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until there are only a few large pieces left. Add the yogurt, milk and orange juice and whip with electric beaters until somewhat smooth with a few chunks.

Serve along side your favourite vegetables and enjoy.

~twosaucysisters

What do you do when your pantry or fridge is running low?

 

Exercise and Nutrition Symposium: The Paleo Diet and Finding your Motivation

We have a different kind of post for you today, one that doesn’t actually involve a recipe. (Gasp!) Shocking, we know- but don’t worry, there will be another recipe up very soon 🙂

Today, we want to share with you some details about an exercise and nutrition symposium that we attended this past weekend.  There were some very interesting speakers that brought up several good points, and we thought it would be nice to recap it to the best of our ability for you, since we believe that this is stuff that everyone can benefit from learning.

There were many speakers there, but we are going to focus on two of them, because we don’t want to make this so long that you have to read for hours, and since they were our two favourites, we want to be able to give you at least a little more detail instead of just the general topic of what they were presenting.

So first off, a speaker by the name of Graeme Thomas gave a talk called “Why Didn’t Cave Men Use Dish Soap? Understanding the Paleo Diet for the 21 Century”.  We were interested in this topic, since the Paleo Diet has been receiving a lot of publicity as of late and so we wanted to here what he had to say.  He didn’t end up talking solely about the paleo diet, though, which we really liked, because he provided a lot of great insight into how people should choose the diet that’s right for them.

First off: A few interesting points on the paleo diet.  For those of you who may not know, the basic idea of the paleo diet is to mimic the diets of our ancestors from paleolithic times.  Followers of this diet believe that this is a more genetically-correct way of eating.  Essentially, the diet cuts out all grains, legumes, and dairy, and mainly consists of vegetables, meats, and nuts.  What Graeme pointed out, though, is that many so-called “Paleo” foods, are actually not what our ancient ancestors would have eaten!  He explained that humans are “opportunistic omnivores”, which means that we will eat what is available to us.  If there are lots of fruits and vegetables around, we will eat them, but if there aren’t we won’t!  Same goes for other foods like meats, grains, etc.  He also explained that humans are lazy.  What he meant was that it took a lot of effort to go out and kill a buffalo (for example) to eat, so if there was something easier (like pulling a plant out of the ground) humans were more likely to eat that.  They would also wait until they were hungry enough before they would go hunting, so they went long periods of time where they didn’t eat much.  This is what has allowed the human race to survive, because it was a way of conserving energy!

So what does this mean for the paleo diet?  Well, for one thing, the paleo diet does not allow for grains, but there is actually lots of evidence that humans have refined grains (such as wild rice) for consumption for hundreds of thousands of years!  On a similar note, foods such as broccoli (which is acceptable in the paleo diet) are actually much more recent “inventions”, and did not exist during paleolithic times.  Like we said- if it was there, we ate it, if it wasn’t, we didn’t!

But before anyone gets upset, we are not saying that the paleo diet is bad, or dumb, or that you shouldn’t follow it.  And that’s what his main message was that he was trying to get across- you have to follow the diet that’s right for you.  Of course, not too many of you are going to be running out and getting your genes tested to find out what foods you should avoid.  Unfortunately, finding the best way of eating for yourself is a trial-and-error process, but there are some things you can consider to get you on the right track.  For example, if you have a family history of diabetes or high blood sugar, consuming a diet lower in carbohydrates may be something you should try, or if you have a family history of high blood pressure heart disease, a very high-fat diet may not be the best option for you.

Essentially, you need to do what works for you.  If you’ve found success with the paleo diet and you enjoy eating that way (key word there!!) then more power to you!  If you love eating grains, dairy and legumes, and you have no problems with it, then that’s fine too 🙂  There is no “perfect diet”.  And we think that’s pretty great 😀

The other speaker was Melissa Maloney, who works for Goodlife Fitness, and her topic was “Diet and Excercise- How Bad do you Want it?”

She was very inspiring, and had some great tips for people who are finding it difficult fitting exercise and healthy eating into their daily lives.  Her main message was that no matter how busy you are, there is time for exercise and time for planning healthy meals.  It’s just a matter of making it priority.  She offered several steps on how to make these things priority, but there were two that really stuck with us.  The first one was find your why.

Why do you want to start working out?  At first you may think I want to lose twenty pounds, that’s why!, but this is not a good why.  She explained by giving us this scenario:  You want to lose twenty pounds, so you start exercising and eating right.  You don’t lose a single pound, but you feel better, you look better, and you’re happier.  Are you upset that you didn’t lose twenty pounds? Of course not!

So you have to find your real why.  A better “why” could be that you want to be fit so you can play with your kids, and so that you can be around longer to watch them grow up.  Or that you want to feel more confident about yourself and have more energy.  The idea is that your reason for getting healthier needs to move past being just a number on the scale, a size you want to fit, or a way you want to look for your upcoming vacation.  It needs to be something that’ll get you up in the morning, something that has meaning for you.

The second point was to find your how.  Many people find it difficult to motivate themselves to exercise.  She explained that to overcome this, you have to pinpoint your “critical moments”.  These are the times when you’re at your weakest.  For example, if you know that if you go home before going to the gym you won’t end up going at all, you need to recognize that and plan for it.  Have your gym stuff packed and bring it with you so that you don’t need to go home first.  That is just one example, but the most important thing to remember is to find those moments and plan for them.  If you have strategies in place to help you overcome them, you will be on your way!

So we’re going to end it there, because this post is already a million years long, but as always we’d appreciate any comments and feedback to let us know what you think!

~twosaucysisters

Apples to Apples

Has anyone ever played this game before?

apples to apples

We never have, but it sounds like it could be fun! For those who don’t know, this is a type of word game. Players are given “red apple” cards, each with a noun or noun phrase on them, and the judge chooses a “green apple” card, which contains an adjective. The judge puts this card face up on the table for the players to see, and then each player chooses one of their red apple cards that they think best matches the green apple card and puts it face down. The judge shuffles the red apple cards and reads them, deciding which card matches the green apple card the best. The point is for the judge to choose the match that is “most creative, humorous or interesting”.

So…. what does this game have to do with today’s post?

Absolutely nothing! Except that today’s post has apples in it. 🙂

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Hmm… what’s the best adjective to describe this breakfast?

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Decadent? Delicious?

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Cinnamon-juicy-apple-and raisin-filled-awesome?
(For some reason we don’t think they have that one in the game, but if they did it would win for best match!)

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Another good way to describe it is healthy. And maybe sneaky too, because if you ever made this for someone, they would never guess that it’s good for them! 😉 With whole wheat bread, apples, low-fat milk,  and high-protein cottage cheese and egg whites, this dish has got a lot going for it!

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But who needs adjectives? We’ll let the photos speak for themselves. 🙂

Apple Cinnamon Stuffed French Toast

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Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 5 min
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 slices of your favourite whole wheat bread, approx. 1 inch thick.
6 egg whites (or 3 eggs)
2 tbsp sugar-free apple butter Apple Butter (store-bought or home-made)
3 tbsp milk of choice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla

Filling:

1/2 medium sized apple,very  thinly sliced
1/4 c. raisins
1 tsp water
cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste

For the cream:

1/3 c. cottage cheese
1/4 c. apple butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
water as needed (we used approx. 2 tbsp

Directions:

Slice your bread into 1-inch pieces, then slice into the centre of each bread slice, making a pocket for the apples, without cutting all the way through.
In a bowl, combine the apple slices, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg and water and microwave for 1-2 min or until apples are soft. Drain off excess liquid and stuff the apple raisin mixture into the pockets of the bread.
Preheat a non-stick frying pan or pancake griddle over medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray.
In a wide, shallow dish, combine egg whites, milk, apple butter, spices and vanilla. Soak both sides of each bread slice and place the bread on the preheated pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the bread turns a nice golden brown, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

While the bread is cooking, put all the cream ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, adding water slowly until you reach the thickness you desire.

Optional:  Dice the other half of the apple and cook in a little bit of water for topping.

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever played Apples to apples?