Friday, May 31, 2013

Easy Almond Flour Bread Recipe (My Favorite)

Easy Almond Flour Bread Recipe (My Favorite)
Image by Tania Franco

With the intention of creating healthier lifestyle choices for our family I decided to bake a wheat and gluten-free almond flour bread. The last couple of years since having my son I would walk into the kitchen and my mind would go blank, so the kitchen has not been where I feel the most comfortable.
I thought I would try it and if it didn't pan out I can just buy a healthier loaf of bread from the store.

I have found the almond flour bread recipes I have made to be easier than I could have imagined. My son and I have been baking our own bread for about 2 months now and I can see ourselves continuing to do so since it's practical and simple. Everyone loves it.

The following recipe is adapted from The Cooking With Trader Joe's Cookbook: Dinner's Done, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Easy Almond Flour Bread Recipe:

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees
4 1/2 cups of Almond Meal or Almond Flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar (Xylitol or Stevia)
1/2 tsp. of Salt
1tsp. Baking Soda
1Tbsp. Baking Powder
5 Eggs (whisked)
1/2- 3/4 cups of Plain Yogurt
Slivered Almonds (any type of seed, this is for sprinkling the top of the bread)

Mix dry ingredients (almond meal, sugar ,salt, baking soda and baking powder) in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients (eggs and yogurt) in a separate bowl. Then mix both together. I mix it with a wooden spoon and it takes a minute or two to come together. Then I put the dough in a greased loaf pan (5x9 inch). Before putting it in the oven I add the slivered almonds to the top of the mixture. The bread takes 55 minutes to bake. Let it cool off. Once cooled I put it in a storage bag. I slice the bread as I use it so it keeps its shape and doesn't crumble. I recommend putting it in the refrigerator or in the freezer so it lasts longer. Ours typically runs out by the end of the week. It's that good!

Our daily lifestyle choices impact our health greatly. We are empowered in each moment. You can begin where you are and remember to celebrate your triumphs whether big or small.

-Tania Franco

Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Make Homemade Deodorant

My Homemade Deodorant
Image by Tania Franco

Before having my son I worked at a Medical Institute in Mexico and was exposed to extensive health and wellness information. I learned the importance of using beauty products that were paraben, phtalate, sulfate and petrochemical free. I went perfume free and stopped lathering up in body lotion. I also went deodorant free most days and only wore it on certain occasions.

Once I got pregnant with my son I started using regular shampoos and deodorants. I did feel a bit of remorse since I knew it wasn't the healthiest of choices due to the countless chemicals in these products.

When my son was 2 years old I began to have allergies to many of these products. Parts of my skin would become itchy and suddenly I would have rashes. I changed my hair care products, moisturizer, body lotion and cosmetics. I began to use natural products. This ended the allergic reactions completely. I also made diet changes since nutrition is essential in any health issue. I will write more about this in another post.

One evening we were entertaining friends at our home and I was sharing about the allergic reactions I had had and how difficult it had been when I joked: "I almost began to make my own lotion". After saying that out loud I thought why don't I? The following day I began to research what I could begin to make. I had read some of these recipes before but had not considered making my own until now.

After reading thoroughly I realized I could begin making my own deodorant.

I have been using my home made deodorant for approximately 2 months and I am happy with the results. The deodorant was perfect from day one. I have been hiking in 90 degree weather and I smell great!

3 Ingredient Homemade Deodorant Recipe:

6 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1/4 cup of Baking Soda
1/4 cup of Organic Cornstarch (Arrowroot is much more recommended)

I left the coconut oil out of the refrigerator for an hour so it was soft and easier to use. I put the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mixed them with a wooden spoon.
Afterwards I placed it in a glass container.

This is one way of creating healthier lifestyle choices.
-Tania Franco

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Walking Meditation: Learning to Enjoy Being

Hiking in North Park San Diego, Ca.
Picture by Tania Franco

This weekend I taught a walking meditation class. It's one of my favorite meditations because it teaches us so much about ourselves.

How often do we allow ourselves to slow down and enjoy every aspect of being?

Being aware of how the actual movement of our body feels when walking.

Allowing a deep appreciation for the beauty that is around us, colors, objects, nature.

Listening to the sounds that are part of our day.

Feeling the grass on our feet in each step we take.

Smelling the wet grass and dirt.

Becoming present to how one's body feels by checking in with areas where stress and relaxation symptoms occur.

Yes. All this happens in a walking meditation and more. These questions are essential to creating greater awareness and helping us know ourselves better but are not automatic thoughts that we have.

One of the essential principles in Humanistic Psychology is learning to savor the moment. We all are here temporarily, that's why learning to enjoy the fullness of each moment can create greater happiness. And just like anything you want to learn, practice is crucial.

Many times we are in a hurry when in reality there isn't a real reason to be in a hurry. When we are rushing from one activity to the next we are not present and miss out on creating greater peace and wellness. Consciously choosing to enjoy each moment whether you're at home, driving, or walking is an important step to achieving it.

Practicing walking meditation taught me to slow down, to "stop and smell the roses". In reality I don't smell the roses but I do smell the patch of jasmine flowers I walk by regularly and feel a sense of awe for nature and it's beauty. It has taught me to savor the moment in a way that I would never have thought possible and that is why I teach this meditation to my students.

What better gift can I give another human being than teaching them to enjoy the beauty of this moment?

-Tania Franco

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stress Symptoms

Balboa Park, San Diego
Photo by Tania Franco

Most people are stressed and are unaware of it. 80% of all doctor's visits are stress related. This is why it is so important to identify what your stress symptoms are. By becoming aware of your habitual responses to stress you can become empowered to do something about it.

The following are common stress symptoms, check off the ones that apply to you:

  • Holding breath                        
  • Shallow (chest) breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tension headaches
  • Grinding teeth
  • Clenching teeth
  • Muscle twitching
  • Flushed Face
  • Acne
  • Generalized sweating
  • Pale face
  • Allergies
  • Frequent flus or colds
  • Mouth sores
  • Daydreaming
  • Fearful thoughts
  • Negative thinking
  • Racing thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Sleep problems
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Fidgeting
  • Chronic lateness
  • Foot or finger tapping
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nightmares
  • Procrastination
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Free floating anxiety
  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Restlessness
These are a large number of stress symptoms, there are more. The intention behind identifying these symptoms is that you get to know yourself better and become able to choose relaxing practices to reduce your stress levels.

-Tania Franco

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Easy Almond Flour Bread Recipe

Image by Tania Franco

I like to read and try to be up to date with nutrition, health, and wellness field. I will admit that sometimes my actions are not congruent with what I know to be health conscious choices, but I have decided to try and choose healthier options for myself and for my family this year by cooking more at home, adding veggies to everything, creating healthier versions of foods we enjoy, and using self care products with fewer chemicals, to name a few things.

A few weeks ago I decided to look up a flourless bread recipe. I usually write in a search engine: ‘easy _____ recipe’, and select among the options that come up that have few ingredients and good ratings. I ran into an almond meal bread recipe and gave it a shot. I was hoping it tasted like regular whole grain bread and when everything was said and done it did and it was delicious!

I have made it twice and the whole family loves it. I was worried my husband would not like it but he gave it a 10 on a 0-10 scale which he’s only given to a handful of recipes at the most.

Easy Almond Flour Bread Recipe:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees
2 cups of almond flour or almond meal
2 Tbsp. sugar or the equivalent in Stevia or Xylitol
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. of salt (I would add less than a teaspoon or even skip it)
5 eggs (whisked)
½ cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup of oil (I used olive oil)

I mixed the dry ingredients in a batter bowl, in a separate bowl mixed the wet ingredients and then mixed them together with a wooden spoon. I placed the batter in a greased bread loaf pan and put in the oven. It took 40 minutes to bake in my oven but the recipe said it should take about 20min. Keep a watchful eye to see how long it takes to bake in your oven. Once its ready, wait for it to cool down before slicing it. I recommend that you refrigerate it so it lasts longer.

I made it again adding chia seeds, switching the coconut milk for half and half and skipped the salt. We happily ate the whole loaf this week. I ate it with nut butter, my son had it in sandwiches and my husband had it with butter.

Here is another really easy to make almond bread recipe, I could almost say that I may like it even better. Our daily lifestyle choices impact our health greatly. We are empowered in each moment. You can begin where you are and remember to celebrate your triumphs whether big or small.

- Tania