4 Roots of Optimum Wellness

There are four essential parts to being healthy: Diet, Exercise, Sleep & Attitude.

Vitae Elixxir Healing Herbs

A proprietary combination of ten disease-fighting herbs used for more than 40 years and helping thousands of people with serious health issues.

Books by Author & Health Coach Chris Pedersen

In a world of adventure and imagination, kids’ books in print and digital that encourage a healthy lifestyle.

6 Tips to Lose Weight

Don’t count calories—take a serious look at the food you want to eat, then ask, ”Is this something that will give my body good health?”

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year & Blackeyed Peas

Wishing you all a Happy New Year as we ring in 2014. I'm looking forward to a better year than 2013.  How about you?

Since so many of you have a tradition of eating blackened peas on New Years, I wanted to add the Healthy Journey Cafe favorite, Parsnip, Broccoli & Blackeyed Pea Soup.

This great soup recipe is a hearty veggie soup with broccoli and parsnips that's easy and quick to make. Parsnips add a sweetness to the soup that will convert any skeptics.

Families love this soup originally posted in January 2011 and again October 26, 2012.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Vegan Minestrone Soup Recipe

Vegan Minestrone Soup Recipe
I'm still enjoying this scrumptious, hearty soup because it makes enough to freeze for leftovers. This recipe comes from Summer Tomato by contributing blogger Eylse Kopecky of FresHabits. Elyse used meat sausages, but I made it vegan with Tofurky sausages.* I also used a gluten-free quinoa and corn rotelle (available in the bulk bins at Nugget Markets in the greater Sacramento area). The quinoa/corn pasta really made the flavor of the soup shine through.
Quinoa/Corn Rotelle pasta

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday

Wisdom Wednesday
Bring the air of Christmas into your home with aromatic potpourri simmering on your stove. Try this tip from my dear friend, Joanne Kraft, who always makes her home a welcoming sweetness to all who enter.
Christmas Potpourri

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mashed Red Potatoes with Shallots & Manchego Cheese

Mashed Red Potatoes with Shallots & Manchego Cheese
As I promised, here's the recipe for the mashed potatoes that my husband made for Thanksgiving. It's easy and delicious. You'll never miss the cream and butter typically lavished on mashed potatoes.

I eat very few potatoes because of the high-starch (translation: it quickly becomes sugar in your body). Avoiding those types of foods keeps my body a mean cancer-fighting machine.

Notice the gravy on the potatoes in the picture? That is not an animal product—not your usual gravy. This one is vegan and quite yummy. The rest of the food in the photo is what we had for Thanksgiving. And it was all a huge hit! Never missed the gobbler.

A word about the cheese in this recipe. I do not eat dairy except goat or sheep cheese. Three reasons:
  • More nutritious
  • Contains very little casein, which many are sensitive to
  • They don't do to goats and sheep what they do to cows (pump them with antibiotics, hormones and GMO feed)
Mashed Red Potatoes with Shallots & Manchego Cheese

From Bob Pedersen
Yield 8 servings

Category Side Dish
Cuisine Healthy, Vegetarian

2 1/2 lbs. red potatoes
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 C grated Manchego (sheep) cheese
Fresh ground pepper

1. Wash and quarter potatoes. Put in large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Bring to boil and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. While potatoes cook, add coconut oil to sauce pan and saute shallots. Cook, stiring, until shallots are golden brown, about 6 minutes.
3. Drain the potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add the grated cheese and mash with the potatoes.
4. Add 1/2 tsp of salt, fresh ground pepper and the cooked shallots. Taste and adjust seasonings.
5. Tranfer to serving bowl.

Try the mashed potatoes for Christmas and let me know how everyone liked them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

5 Tips for Christmas Bliss

Do you find yourself in a state of frenzy during the Christmas season, whether its from being bombarded by commercialization or feeling the stress of getting a gift for everyone on your list? Here are some tips for calming your heart and re-adjusting your attitude this season.
  1. Approach the season with a sense of gratitude. Be grateful for what you have—friends and family who love you. They won't stop loving you if you don't get them a gift. The gift of you may be all that's needed.
  2. Give a gift with meaning. Make up a coupon to give something of yourself (babysitting for your girlfriend with small kids whose budget has no room for babysitting). The list is endless.
  3. Take time to serve the less fortunate. There are plenty of homeless and hungry during the Christmas season. Take time to schedule several hours on a service project to help those in need. You'll never feel more blessed than when you serve others.
  4. Keep your expectations in check. Don't assume anything. Inquire, plan and be ready to grant grace at every turn. Slow down and let the frantic pass you by. Be gracious when you get the gift you think is… you fill-in here.
  5. Remember what this time of year is REALLY about.
Christmas Nativity
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you—he is Christ the LORD.
Luke 2:11
I wish you all a blessed Christmas always remembering that our gracious and merciful heavenly Father sent His only Son Jesus to be born a baby and then perish on a cross to redeem me and you from the penalty of our sins. And for that we celebrate Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Spaghetti Squash & Kale

Spaghetti Squash & Kale
Spaghetti Squash is very nutritious. However, like all winter squash, it's best to purchase it organic because its frequently grown as an intercrop for remediation of contaminated soils. Meaning that contaminants are effectively pulled up out of the soil by winter squash plants. Is organic worth a few extra pennies? I think so!

This is the most delicious recipe. And if you follow my simple instructions for removing the cooked squash, you'll get perfect strands instead of mush. Get ready for the most yummy side dish (or main dish) with the perfect spaghetti-like strands.

Did you ever try using spaghetti squash to replace the starchy grain-based pasta only to experience a pile of mush when you removed the squash after baking? That was my experience. Well… there is a bit of a technique to removing the squash so the strands remain intact.

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Here's an idea for a quick dessert to take to a casual Christmas gathering. Make the Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake and cut-up a section of the cake into bite-size pieces and then in half so they aren't so tall.

Then cut a tiny (~ 1/8 inch) corner off a sandwich bag and add some of the coconut topping. Squeeze the bag so you force the topping into the corner with the hole and… Viola! you have a quick and easy cake decorator. Swirl some topping onto each little piece and place them in the freezer.

I did this with my leftover Pumpkin Cheesecake from Thanksgiving and put the easy-to-handle frozen pieces on a pretty platter that I took to the Christmas mixer for the Sacramento area SCBWI. Don't forget to make a little sign that identifies the dessert as Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake. Everyone loved the guilt-free dessert bites.

What have you done to make your Christmas time easy?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Thanksgiving is a time for family, good home-cooked food and remembering all we have to be thankful for. This year my family has much to be thankful for. As with every year, we will extend our gratitude and thanks to the One who provides our needs.
Give thanks to the LORD for he is good—his faithful love endures forever. Psalm 107:1
Here is my menu for Thanksgiving Day. Letting you know helps me wrap my head around exactly what I'll be doing.
  • Meatless Stuffed "Turkey"—Since I don't eat meat. May sound strange, but it's really very tasty. Stuffed with brown rice and spices. Trader Joe's and Tofurkey (including vegan gravy) are two brands I've prepared.
  • Steamed Blue Lake Green Beans—KISS certified. Always good on the holiday table.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Vegan Chocolate Pudding
For all you chocolate lovers, here is a simple and quick-to-put-together recipe for vegan chocolate pudding. Try it out and you may decide to include it in your holiday dessert line-up.

Make sure the tofu you purchase is organic or it will for sure be made from genetically engineered (GMO) soy. Also look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label—a third-party organization that provides verification of non-GMO food choices.

You can adjust the ingredients in this recipe to your taste and you won't mess up the results. What more could you ask for in a dessert? Simple. Easy. Adjustable. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday

I eat my veggies mostly raw, but usually have cooked veggies in the evening as a side dish to wild-caught fish or in soups. You might be surprised to know that some foods are more nutritious cooked:
  • Spinach—You absorb more calcium, iron and magnesium.
  • Tomato—You absorb more lycopene.
  • Asparagus—Nutrient content is higher in slightly steamed asparagus.
  • Mushrooms—Provide more potassium when cooked.
  • Carrot—Cooking carrots whole provides more vitamins than raw.
However, vitamin C is destroyed by too much heat. Plus enzymes are destroyed by cooking. You can replenish enzymes by eating cultured/fermented vegetables like raw sauerkraut. The side benefit of the cultured foods is loads of probiotics.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

10 Survival Tips for Eating Out

Survival Tips for Eating Out
© gpointstudio - Fotolia.com
If you're working at changing your lifestyle habits to be healthier, you may be reluctant to go out to eat because you' might blow your new health trend. Never fear! I've got some tips that will get you through. Make your food work for you by being proactive. Restaurants should be about service and accommodating your health needs.

Here are 10 tips to help you make eating out work for your healthy lifestyle:
  1. Plan ahead. Where will you be eating? Consider what meal options are available.
  2. Go online and explore the menu to discover possible selections. Look for a section of healthier choices.
  3. Ask for smaller portions. Restaurant portions are typically too large.
  4. Split your order. Share with a friend or spouse or take half home for another meal.
  5. For a lighter meal, check out the appetizers. I find many a yummy, healthy meal in the appetizer section. Warning! That's where all the fried stuff can be, so be wise.
  6. Order toppings and dressings either on the side or have them left off.
  7. Don't be afraid to make special requests. Keep them simple, which is what you want anyway. I do it all the time. At a 5-star restaurant I asked the waiter to have the chef lightly steam whatever veggies they had in the kitchen. They brought me a huge plate of lovely, assorted veggies.
  8. Tell the waiter to nix the bread or just take one piece and have the rest removed from the table. Remember! Bread is like sugar, especially white bread, and it ends up around your middle in the long run.
  9. If you've eaten healthy for the day (sticking to plant-based, non-processed foods) then don't fret too much over your meal out. It's not the amount of calories you consume, but the KIND of calories that matter. 100 calories of sugar is not the same as 100 calories of asparagus. Please tell me you get this…
  10. Limit any alcohol to one drink. It's empty calories (to use a familiar term) and tends to increase your appetite.
I felt like the Queen on our first cruise following my new diet changes. I marked my pre-cruise preferences with special diet needs. Upon arrival to our stateroom on board, I found an invitation requesting that I introduce myself to the head waiter. Searching him out in the late afternoon, I found him prepping the dining room. He showed rapt interest as I explained what I could and could not eat. He then suggested several alternatives for my evening meal.

Princess Cruises
When I arrived at dinner, the head waiter handed me tomorrow's menu, which allowed me to order my selections for the next evening with any changes I needed. For example, they made me cream of mushroom soup without dairy—it tasted better than the dairy version according to my husband who enjoyed a taste of everything.

As you can imagine, I became quite popular at our table as others wanted to know what's for dinner tomorrow.

Since I don't do sugar, I always passed as the waiter took dessert orders around our table. On the fourth day, the waiter set before me a piece of berry pie as he said, "No dairy. No sugar." The pastry chef had created a pie just for me. He took it on as a challenge, wanting me to enjoy one of his creations while my table-mates devoured his other wonderful desserts.

As for the buffet, which I enjoyed for breakfast and lunch, I loved it! The layout of beautiful, fresh-cut veggies made my day. I piled my plate with all the veggies I wanted. Many I don't have very often, like fresh peas. Oh… and since I stay away from the bread, pastries, and other things that create the fleshy roll around the middle, plus I exercise every day at sea, gaining weight on a cruise? Not an issue.

What do you find as temptation when you go out to eat?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

I know there are many of you who LOVE when fall arrives because it means Starbucks offers there enormously popular Pumpkin Spice Latte for the season. Well… I dare you to get out your blender and give this version a whirl. I'm guessing you'll be saving your $5.95 and go the DIY route from now on.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday

There is a running controversy on whether to vaccinate your children or not with various pro's and cons on each side. For further information on the subject, check out the new documentary, The Greater Good, on DVD.

For the record, I chose not to have my son vaccinated as a child. He suffered no ill effects and was never denied entrance to any school. He is now a healthy 31-year-old.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Should I Get a Flu Shot?

Headlines read...

Flu More Widespread in US

Flu Season Hits Early and Hard

Flu Cases on Rise at Hospitals

It seems that every year the media hype over the flu and the need to get a flu shot reaches a higher high. "The worst flu season ever... " "Infection rates have officially reached epidemic levels... "


With drug stores sprouting up on every corner in even the smallest towns, you can't avoid seeing banners that promote getting a flu shot. Cold weather setting in typically signals the start of the flu season. Should you run down to your local pharmacy and get a flu shot?

Flus are not fun. Fever, chills, runny nose, sore throat, cough, muscle aches, vomiting, fatigue and decreased appetite. With some rest they typically run their course in two to three days, with some symptoms hanging on for a week. The fact is dying from the flu is rare. The vast majority of so-called “flu deaths” are due to bacterial pneumonia—a potential complication of the flu if your immune system is weak.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Macaroni & Vegan "Cheese" with Broccoli

Vegan Twist on Mac 'n' Cheese
If you and your kids find Mac 'n' Cheese to be sacred, I ask you to set you bias aside and give this vegan version a try. Your kids might be pleasantly surprised and you may find a healthier version. Don't give it away when you set the dish in front of them. Then step back and watch their reaction.

The recipe comes from the Forks Over Knives website from the kitchen of Victoria Fiore, plant-based chef at the Naked Core.

I adjusted the recipe amounts to suit using a small butternut squash and used fussilli pasta because it's a lot more fun than elbows. You can use your favorite. This recipe calls for gluten-free, brown rice pasta for added nutrition and those avoiding wheat.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Have a Healthy Halloween

Healthy Halloween Treats
I love the dress-up part of Halloween. When our son was young, I enjoyed coming up with fun costumes. One year I made a tyrannosaurus rex costume and my husband and I dressed as cave man and woman. We won best group costume at our community Halloween Festival as the Prehistoric Family.
Halloween Costume
What I don't like is all the candy.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp
Fall is Apple Hill time in El Dorado County where I live. Located up the hill, heading East towards Lake Tahoe, at 3,000 feet elevation sits a bucolic farming region planted in apples, pears and wine grapes. The majority crop is apples, but you'll also find peaches, nectarines, cherries and several berry varieties. And let's not forget we're cruising into the Christmas season and Apple Hill boasts the best Christmas Tree farms in Northern California.

This Apple Crisp dessert is another simple and delicious recipe from PCRM Recipe of the Week. I recommend getting on their email list.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday

The arrival of cool, crisp mornings remind many of the impending flu season. What to do? Underlying your susceptibility to contract a dreaded seasonal illness is a Vitamin D deficiency. This vital vitamin is key to keeping your immune system ready to fight off illness. Here are some tips for being prepared:
  • Natural sources of Vitamin D include adequate sun exposure (without sunscreen) and foods such as mushrooms, egg yolks, and fish rich in Omega-3 oils such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.
  • Get your blood tested to determine your Vitamin D levels. They should be within 50-70 ng/ml.
  • If you take Vitamin D supplements, make sure you take D3. An average adult requires about 8,000 IU's of Vitamin D3 per day; children 35 IU's per pound of body weight.
  • If you supplement, add Vitamin K2, an important co-factor for proper synthesis of Vitamin D.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Three Bean & Lemon Cucumber Salad

Three Bean & Lemon Cucumber Salad
This is a twist on the original Three Bean Salad posted on Healthy Journey Cafe. The celery is replaced by lemon cucumber in this version.

Lemon cucumbers are round and grow to be two to three inches in diameter. Changing color as it matures, its early, lemon-yellow color turns a golden yellow as it ripens. The mild, pleasant taste is complemented by a cool, crisp texture. Resembling a lemon in appearance, the flavor is more delicate and less acidic than the common green cucumber. Lemon cucumber skin has tiny bristles that are edible but may be easily removed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Black & Green Bean Corn Salad

Black & Green Bean Corn Salad
This healthy salad has fresh, raw green beans and corn. Definitely a good crunch to this salad. Serve it over lettuce, with chips, or eaten just as it isout of the bowl.

I modified a recipe from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) Food for Life Recipe of the Week to incorporate the abundance of green beans I had coming from my garden. If you've grown pole beans, you know once they start producing beans you need to get out to the garden and harvest every day. Then you need to make something. I'm a raw-food-kinda gal so I loved the idea of using them raw with fresh corn off the cob. Yum!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday

I run a couple miles 3-4 days a week, but decided I need to strengthen my core. Here's a great slide show from the Mayo Clinic providing details for 12 exercises to do that. You don't need to do all 12 in a day. On Monday do 2. Tuesday do the next 3. Wednesday do the next 2. Thursday do the next 3. And Friday do the last 2.

Take the weekend off and repeat again on Monday. You can do it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Over the Top for Organic Food

Organic Food
I love that there are so many beating the drum for your health, dear readers. And there is no better person that I'd rather occupy the proverbial soap box with than Jennie Zraick. Listen to what she has to pass on today.

I know some of you think I'm a bit over the top with my passion for buying organic food whenever possible. Perhaps you think my "conspiracy theory" attitude towards our government and commercial agri-business tips to the paranoid side of the scale.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School Healthy Lunch Ideas

Healthy Kids' Lunch Ideas
Even though my son is now 31, I remember making his lunch every day. I wanted to make sure he got healthy food to eat for lunch. There were plenty of easy pre-packaged foods to choose from in the grocery store, but there was no way my quest for simple would include pre-packaged items—full of artificial ingredients and sugar.

Here are some ideas for sending your child off to school with nutritious ingredients in their lunch box.
  • Include some bite-size veggies like cherry tomatoes.
Healthy Kids' Lunch Ideas
  • A hard-boiled egg provides some good brain food.
    Healthy Kids' Lunch Ideas
  • Add a helping of the veggie salad you made this week.
 Kids' Healthy Lunch Ideas
  • Almond butter on whole-grain bread with bananas will satisfy any munchkin.
Kids' Healthy Lunch Ideas
  • Make up celery sticks with goat cheese spread and dot with blueberries. Yum with a crunch. 
Kids' Healthy Lunch Ideas
  • Add hummus for dipping to a recycled container and drop in some veggie sticks (carrots, broccoli, jicama, etc).
Kids' Healthy Lunch Ideas
  • Send them off with cucumbers that have most of the vitamins needed in a day, plus the skin contains lots of vitamin C.
Kids' Healthy Lunch Ideas
Kids' Healthy Lunch Ideas
Add your own ideas and come up with a list of foods you can rotate through your kids' lunch boxes. Also remember to surprise your child with an occasional sweet note.

What are some healthy food items you pack for your kids' lunch?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Genesis of a Kid’s App for Eating Healthy

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle iPad App
A late-in-life discovery found me with cancer from a genetic condition. Believing that my healthy lifestyle had saved me from a more serious prognosis, I changed my diet even further (eliminating sugar, alcohol and meat except wild-caught fish), incorporated an herbal extract called Vitae Elixxir into my daily routine and beat the odds, returning to a healthful state.

Now I want to make others aware of healthy eating and the benefits of herbs, especially at a time when childhood obesity trends are increasing.

Since I love crafting stories for kids, I wrote a story and created an interactive app for the iPad, which offers a deeper reading experience. First book in the Veggie Chronicle series, The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is a fun and beautifully illustrated storybook following the adventures of Aiden in his imaginary world as he conquers his dislike for veggies. Children discover that eating vegetables is what real heroes do. That is, if they want to eat their way out of a wicked king’s clutches.

The subtle health message promoted by the book app offers vivid colors and playful music. Wiggly fingers can discover sound effects and make a mouse (or the hero himself) scamper through a hole. Children can dress (much like paper dolls) a few characters from the book if they patiently focus on small motor skills.

With the choice to have read to me on (or off), pages turned by pulling a carrot from the wall, interactivity with sounds and animations by tapping, sliding and tilting, iPad book apps are clearly the future of reading and learning. Forthcoming updates to the app include parent/teacher reading strategies with curriculum that supports Common Core Standards in education.

***Over 40,000 Downloads***
The Prisoner of Carrot Castle reached #1 in Top Free Book Apps during limited offer!
Purple Carrot Books, the publisher for these innovative iPad book apps, is focused on influencing young lives for a hopeful, healthy future. With more apps coming (Blondilocks, Ethan Blecher Braves a Bully, and The Slave of Peas Pyramid), parents may find their kids have a change in  healthy behaviors.

Follow us on Twitter @chrisathecafe and @prplcarrotbooks. Please Like our facebook pages at facebook.com/PurpleCarrotBooks and facebook.com/HealthyJourneyCafe. Get healthy and discover some great vegetarian recipes at healthyjourneycafe.com.