Joy to Wellness Blog

Let this blog be your guide for a healthier and happier life. Check in for delicious and healthy recipes, product reviews and tips to help you be well.

Coconut Lentil Curry by Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen

Coconut Lentil Curry by Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen

This month I welcome Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen who shares her recipe for Coconut Lentil Curry. Trust me when I say this recipe is AMAZING (and EASY to make!)

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1 cup masoor dhal (red lentils)
½ cup diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups water
1¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
10 to 15 fresh curry leaves (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups coconut milk
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili, torn in half

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the dhal in a medium size saucepan. Rinse it several times and drain.

Add ¼ cup onions, garlic, water, salt, cayenne, cumin, curry leaves, and turmeric to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the dhal softens and expands, about 15 minutes. If foam forms on the surface, skim it off with a spoon.

Reduce heat to low and stir in coconut milk. Cook for 2 minutes.

Place the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, immediately add the remaining ¼ cup onions and dried red chili and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions begin to brown.

Swirl the seasoned onions into the dhal.

 Want to learn more from Susan about Indian cuisine? Sign up for her Culinary Tour of Devon Avenue! 

About Chef Susan:

Through cooking classes and culinary tours of Devon Avenue, Chef Susan offers home cooks and food lovers a portal to the authentic flavors of India. Her classes feature hands-on instruction for individuals or groups who want to bring the flavors of India home. Come discover the wonders of cardamom and curry leaves. Leave your passport behind. See www.cardamomkitchen.blogspot.com for a sample of Susan’s favorite family recipes.  To schedule a cooking class or culinary tour, contact Chef Susan at cardamomkitchen@gmail.com.

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Three tips to help you avoid post-holiday guilt

Three tips to help you avoid post-holiday guilt

Do you fall off the healthy wagon during the holidays? It’s easy to use the holidays as an excuse to make bad decisions, but this just leaves us feeling guilty when the new year arrives. This year get ahead of the holidays so that you can stay healthy and happy all the way through. Follow these three easy tips:

Tip #1: Find a Partner in Health
Two key ingredients for getting to a healthier place in life and staying there are ACCOUNTABILITY and SUPPORT. To help with these, find a friend, coworker or family member to do healthy activities with – walks during your lunch hour, yoga on the weekend or a healthy cooking class. Keep each other posted on progress via text or Facebook.

Tip #2: Start Menu Planning Now
We all have good intentions for making healthy meals, but without a plan it’s easy to just give up and return to our unhealthy staples like grilled cheese or pizza. Same goes for the holidays. If you want to make a healthier holiday feast this year, start planning NOW. Search for healthy recipes and test them out ahead of time rather than waiting until the week before which will likely leave you stressed for time and returning to your usual menu. Find healthy ideas on Whole Foods Recipe Page where you can search by categories like dietary type (ex “sugar conscious”) or type of dish.

Tip #3: Ditch the “next year I’ll do better” mentality
Your health cannot be put on hold based on what time of year it is.  It’s time to ditch the “I’ll start my workout routine after the holidays” or “I deserve this because it’s Christmas” mentality and commit to your health once and for all. This doesn’t mean you’ll never eat a cookie again or you won’t experience temporary set backs. What it does mean is A NEW VIEW ON YOU, which is a healthy, balanced and consistent you.

Ready to get healthy once and for all? Check out my 3-Month Wellness Program!

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Moms’ Wellness Event Provides Advice, Relaxation and Earth-Lovin’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 25, 2014, by k.o. kidz Corp.

The premier wellness event of the season kicked off on Thursday, September 18th with ‘Back to School, Back to YOU!’ at Chicago’s acclaimed non-toxic day spa, Noktivo, in support of the National Farm to School Network.

Health and Wellness

k.o. kidz Corp. Founder and CEO, Karen Orlich joined Joy Duginske, Owner of Joy to Wellness Health Coaching, Candice Wu, MA-Holistic Therapist and Bianka Hardin, Psy.D. and Owner of Centered Therapy Chicago to provide healthy eating (and eco-friendly) advice for school lunches and stress relieving tips and techniques for moms.

This team really “walked the talk” in wellness by offering raw, organic juices provided by Earth’s Healing Café, organic wines, healthy fruit/veggie trays, superfood chia shots from The Chia Co., and complimentary spa sessions with Simple Beauty Naturals and massages from Tennille Jones, MELT Massage. Additionally, this green themed event had zero disposable waste by utilizing reusable, dry-erase nametags from Florida Badges, cloth napkins, garden herb “flower” arrangements, and ‘magbag’goodie bags (magazines repurposed to gift bags) provided by k.o. kidz.eco friendly

Joy Duginske, Certified Health Coach, began the evening’s presentation with some nutrition information from our public schools’ cafeterias. “Fries are considered a vegetable according to published nutrition standards,” stated Joy. “And, the chicken fingers have more than 30 ingredients.”

She highlighted an ‘unhealthy’ lunch that many of us feed our kids – peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread,organic fruit yogurt squeeze pouch, multi-grain crackers, and pre-packaged trail mix (all packaged in plastic, disposable bags).These supposedly healthy sounding foods can be deceiving with sugar, salt, and preservatives in the top five ingredients.She emphasized the importance of eating whole foods (i.e. unprocessed food that is free from additives or other artificial substances) and reading food labels BEFORE you buy.

Karen Orlich, k.o. kidz, then shared her recommendations on eco-friendly back to school gear must haves for a truly healthy, ‘green’ lunch.

“20 million sandwich bags are thrown away every day in the U.S. It’s disgusting!” k.o. kidz researched and tested several reusable snack/sandwich bags and lunch boxes and found three U.S. based, mom owned and operated businesses that are committed to the environment. SnackTAXI, Bento-ware, and Dabbawalla were all highlighted for their exceptional, durable, and creatively designed products and were part of a give-away at the end of the night.

Aviary-Photo_130560723296248033-300x300Karen also added, “Over 2.5 billion disposable food and drink pouches are consumed every year in the United States.” The high cost and lack of recyclability of these pouches motivated Karen to design and develop a reusable, eco-friendly pouch for on-the-go use which she debuted at the event.

Bianka Hardin, Centered Therapy Chicago, continued the presentation with 7 tips to maintain a sense of calm in your family. Bianka began with ‘focus on yourself’ stating, “In order for us to be good parents and make good decisions,we need to take care of ourselves first. So, self-care is not selfish, it is the best thing parents can do for themselves and their families.” She emphasized that self-care is important for the whole family as well.

Bianka HardinAdditional tips included: ‘good enough is good enough’, ‘make regular and open communication a family habit’, ‘start small changes to make improvements’, and ‘get involved in community’. She concluded with ‘get support’ stating, “Anything that can help you feel
supported or better cope with stress will have a positive impact on your quality or life.”

Candice Wu, Holistic Therapist and Certified Yoga Instructor, closed the event with relaxation techniques and a meditation. “Mothers can be such a central and powerful force in the family, your self-care is essential” stated Candice. “Whenever we use the senses, energy goes outward, so when we bring the senses inward, we create renewed energy and bring healing to our bodies and minds.” She recommended several meditative and mindfulness exercises and/or a restorative yoga class to better cope with the stress of back to school.

Ohm to that!

For inquiries about this event, please contact Joy Duginske (joy@joytowellness.com) or Karen Orlich (korlich@kokidz.com ). 

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Packing your lunch? Find out what’s really in your brown bag

Packing your lunch? Find out what’s really in your brown bag

Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy Foods

We all want to do our bodies good, especially at lunchtime when we’re hungry for energy to get us through the rest of the day! Packing your lunch is a great way to avoid unhealthy fast food, or if you’re packing it for your kids, a sure way to help them bypass the not-so-healthy cafeteria food at school. But are the lunches you’re packing like most typical American brown bag lunches? If so, they’re probably  loaded with foods that come from packages and contain unwanted “mystery” ingredients like additives, preservatives, added sugar, artificial colors and flavors.

Here’s a list of foods we commonly pack in our brown bags or kids’ lunch boxes. Take a read to learn about the unhealthy ingredients they contain. Then, check out my blog post, “How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods.”Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy Foods

Multigrain Crackers

“Multigrain” foods: Don’t be fooled by promises of whole grains in crackers, breads and cereals. Most of these packaged foods are made from FLOUR and therefore are NOT whole. This can be confusing, but what it boils down to is this: once a grain is ground into a powdery flour substance IT NO LONGER EQUALS A WHOLE GRAIN, which means the nutritional benefits have diminished.

Read what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say about true whole grains and why it’s best to opt for these instead of       packaged and processed versions.

 

low calorie cookies Processed sweets: There’s nothing healthy about added sugar, and packaged desserts – cookies, cupcakes, candy – are loaded with it! Nabisco 100 calorie Chips Ahoy cookies, for example, contain multiple sweeteners on top of enriched flour and artificial flavors. If you’re looking for something sweet, ditch the packaged versions and make some homemade treats instead. Though still not the healthiest choice, at least you’ll know what’s in your own cookies and cakes, and  you’ll be keeping yourself from ingredients that aren’t really food in the first place (like artificial colors, highly processed flours, etc.)

lowfat yogurt

 

Sugary yogurts: Be advised – while yogurt naturally contains sugar from lactose, most flavored varieties contain added sugar, especially those labeled “light”.

 

P B & JSandwiches: Yes, sandwiches are tasty, but our favorites like PB & J or turkey and cheese are usually packed with added sugar, enriched flour and preservatives. Typical ingredients like peanut butter and jelly contain multiple added sweeteners like sugar, molasses and high fructose corn syrup. Sliced deli meats aren’t usually just meat – in fact, most contain added sugar, anti-caking agents and preservatives. And don’t be fooled by the health promises of bread! Just like other multigrain products (see above), bread is not a healthy source of whole grains despite what the message on the packaged might say.

Looking to rid your diet of unhealthy foods like these? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!

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Back to School, Just for Moms: Packing Your Eco-Beauty “Lunchbox”

Back to School, Just for Moms: Packing Your Eco-Beauty “Lunchbox”

Back to School, Just for Moms: Packing Your Eco-Beauty “Lunchbox”

by Guest Author Jenny Duranski, Chief Beauty Officer, Noktivo Non-Toxic Spa and Beauty Boutique

It’s that time of year again when the sounds of bells either leave you reaching for a tissue or wanting to start a flash mob to Lady Gaga’s “Applause” in the parking lot. But no matter which way you go, Back to School also means getting back into a daily routine, and getting back to caring for YOU. Even with the limited time in the morning you have between preparing school lunches, picking outfits and making sure teeth are brushed, these eco-beauty tips require minimal effort and time so you can be out the door feeling and looking refreshed. Lunchbox-sized just for you, now that deserves a round of applause!

What to pack:
1. Mascara – Nothing makes your eyes look more alive like a little mascara. It widens the eye and automatically brightens the shape so even if you are running on four hours of sleep, you certainly won’t look like it. Apply two coats; first take the wand and coat the back of the lashes. This will darken the color and evenly coat them. Then apply the second coat to the front lashes. Lightly sweep the bottom lash line and voila, 3 minutes. Done! We recommend CALM Skincare Cinnamon Thyme Mascara in Black, $14.

2. Citrus Lotion or Body Oil – Citrus essential oils such as Lemon, Lime, Orange or Grapefruit have long been known for their energizing attributes. Applying just a little aromatherapy in the morning works like a charm to awaken our senses and stimulate blood flow to help us get going. Using a citrus infused body oil or lotion is perfect for the I-have-no-time-for-beauty mornings, as the aromatherapy works to energize and the oils hydrate to leave skin soft, supple and glowing. Try One Organics Daily Body Serum in Neroli, $39.

3. Dry Shampoo – Managing the morning Back to School rush is no small feat, and let’s be honest, more than not, shower time just doesn’t fit in the schedule. But now with the greatest beauty invention since the flat iron (if you ask me), busy moms can rejoice in a solution to tame that bed head! Dry Shampoo. Sprinkle a little bit into the palm of your hand and rub into the top and sides of the scalp. The main ingredients will absorb excess oil, essential oils will give it the “clean” smell and some formulations even help combat dryness, breakage and itching. We love Fat and the Moon Lavender & Cocoa Dry Shampoo, $14.

For more eco-beauty tips like these and information on products, please visit noktivo.com/blog.

About the author: Jenny Duranski, Chief Beauty Officer of Noktivo Non-Toxic Spa & Beauty Boutique, has been working in the beauty industry for almost 15 years and thoroughly enjoys sharing her green beauty knowledge and passion with her clients. 

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Simple Weekday Quiche (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

Simple Weekday Quiche (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

This quiche is an easy recipe for any busy mom! Make it on a Sunday evening to have on hand for breakfasts during the upcoming week…the entire family will thank you!

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk (almond, rice)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large bunch kale, finely chopped
  • ½ sweet yellow onion
  • 1 pepper (yellow, red or green), diced
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 gluten-free/dairy-free unbaked pie crust

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350. As the oven is warming, heat oil on stovetop in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add diced onions, diced pepper and chopped kale and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Remove from the stove. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Next, add diced sundried tomatoes and sautéed ingredients. Stir together well and pour all contents into unbaked pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Looking to incorporate more healthy recipes like this into your  food routine? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!

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Polenta Casserole with Chicken Sausage & Fried Eggs

Polenta Casserole with Chicken Sausage & Fried Eggs

Polenta Casserole with Chicken Sausage & Fried Eggs

This recipe will be a crowd pleaser at any weekend brunch! Packed with protein, it will also satisfy your appetite. Craving breakfast for dinner? This is a perfect option too for mixing up your evening routine.  Serves 6 people.

Ingredients

  • Cooked 1 batch of polenta (use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Poletna for GF option)
  • 1 lb ground  chicken sausage (spicy if you prefer)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pepper (green, yellow or red), diced
  • 1 bunch greens (kale, chard or spinach)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2-3 cups extra water (to make consistency of grits, so less dry than recipe calls for)
  • 6 eggs
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200° Fahrenheit
  2. Cook the polenta per the instructions on the package. Have 2-3 cups of water on hand to add as they cook – you’ll want it to be a little soupy in consistency.
  3. As the polenta is simmering, prepare the chicken sausage in a sauté pan. Once cooked through, spoon into a 15 x 10 glass casserole dish and add the tomatoes. Place into the oven to keep warm.
  4. Continue to stir the polenta. Add water every few minutes to keep them from thickening.
  5. Next, sauté the onions, green peppers and greens (add a little butter if necessary) until onions are soft and greens are tender. Add to the casserole dish and return to oven.
  6. Once polenta is ready, remove casserole dish from the oven and combine with other ingredients. Mix all ingredients together well.
  7. On a griddle or in a large sauté pan, cook 6-8 eggs to over easy (if you don’t like runny yolks, cook longer.)
  8. Spoon the polenta mixture into individual bowls. Top each bowl with one egg.
  9. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and black pepper to taste and enjoy!

Looking to incorporate more healthy recipes like this into your  food routine? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!

 

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It’s Summer Time! Let’s make some REAL pasta (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)

It’s Summer Time! Let’s make some REAL pasta (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)

After a cool start to the season, it’s finally feeling hot and humid – a sure sign that the Chicago summer has arrived!  I’m enjoying the tastes of the season though missing last summer when I worked on an urban farm (on Uncommon Ground’s rooftop in Edgewater). Life doesn’t get much better when your office is a garden! Whole Foods

Working on the farm provided constant motivation to eat seasonally, and one of my favorite summertime foods is zucchini! As a gluten-free girl who’s also focused on avoiding processed and packaged foods as often as possible, I love using zucchini to make NOODLES!

Making zucchini noodles takes little time…just a few minutes for prep and sautéing and you’re done! An added bonus – you’ll feel good about choosing a healthy whole-food alternative to the starchy packaged noodles you usually prepare when craving pasta.

Though zucchini noodles obviously don’t taste exactly like wheat or brown rice pasta, I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their texture. Use them as you would regular pasta — you can add your favorite pasta dish ingredients – chicken, pine nuts and other veggies – then top with pesto or marinara sauce. Pasta night will still be pasta night, just slightly different. But hey…different is FUN!

Want to give zucchini noodles a shot? Check out this great how-to video by Jennifer Connor Fitness. (And by the way, if you’re craving pesto but need a dairy-free version, try this recipe by Danielle Walker of Against All Grain)

 

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Cilantro Pesto for Two (Gluten, Dairy and Nut Free)

Cilantro Pesto for Two (Gluten, Dairy and Nut Free)

This pesto is a nice alternative to basil pesto and tastes great on top of chicken and brown rice. Tastes great with a side of black beans too! Great for summer – it’s light and fresh with a citrusy undertone. For those of you avoiding pesto because of the nuts, this recipe calls for sunflower seeds instead! Free of dairy, gluten and nuts. Enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup (shelled) sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt (to taste)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until ingredients are well combined and to your preferred texture. (I prefer a less creamy pesto, so keep the processing to only a few seconds).

Looking to incorporate more healthy recipes like this into your  food routine? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!

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Let’s all agree that French fries aren’t vegetables

Let’s all agree that French fries aren’t vegetables

Google Facts _Fast FoodGoogle tweeted the “Google Fact” below this past weekend and it certainly grabbed my attention. As delicious as French fries can taste, never have I associated them  with the category  “vegetable”. This fact left me sad and confused!

Google Fast Food - French Fries

When I think of vegetables, I think of foods that nourish our bodies and exhibit the beautiful colors of nature. You can just tell by looking at them that they are GOOD for you! They also require little to no preparation before eating.

French fries, on the other hand, are a significantly modified version of potatoes that require added oil, a fryer and other unnecessary ingredients, so to classify them as a “vegetable” is BEYOND a stretch. And let’s face it, there is nothing beautiful or colorful about French fries, which is a not-so-subtle hint to us all that there’s nothing healthy about them either!

And yet, according to the USDA, french fries are indeed classified as such in this country, including in our nation’s public schools where they are deemed equivalent to 1/4 cup of vegetable.  You can see for yourself on this USDA Foods Fact Sheet for Schools & Nutrition Institutions.

This all reminded me of a great video featuring Michael Pollan. He talks about the difference between “real food” and what he calls “edible food like substances.”  I highly recommend you check it out for a little healthy-eating inspiration. His message is simple and is a nice reminder that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Enjoy!

Michael Pollan

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