What Cooking Oil Should I Use?

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Until recently, I had been cooking with the wrong oil.  I always thought that cooking with olive oil was the healthy choice, but it turns out I was using it wrong…

A few months ago, I went out to lunch at a health food restaurant with some coworkers.  I noticed that the restaurant did not cook with oil, but added oil to the food after it was cooked.  Their website said that many oils become toxic when heated.  Of course, I needed to investigate this claim.  That’s when I learned each oil has a different smoke point.  The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil burns up and no longer lubricates food.  I’m sure you have noticed that your food starts to stick to the pan at this point.  The smoke that is given off when an oil reaches it’s smoke point is said to be carcinogenic.

Below is a table of some of common unrefined cooking oils.  You may be surprised where your cooking oils fall on the list.

OilSmokePoint

Wikipedia has more information on smoke points if anyone is interested.  I’m sure it goes without saying, but you should use the low heat oils on salads, already cooked foods, and low temperature baking.  High heat oils are better for frying and sautéing food.

What to look for:

Don’t get me wrong, oil is a healthy part of the diet.  There are good oils that help lower LDL (bad cholesterol), reduce inflammation, and fight cancer cells with antioxidants.  Look for oils that have monounsaturated fats because they are rich in antioxidants (vitamin E) and can help reduce LDL levels and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.  Oils with monousaturated fats are extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil.

Polyunsaturated fats, which reduce LDLs and increase HDLs, are also common in oils, but be careful with these fats as they are high in omega-6s.  Most Americans consume more than enough omega-6s and not enough omega-3s.  It important to find a balance between the two. Sesame oil and peanut oil contain polyunsaturated fats.

What to Avoid:

Avoid oils with saturated fats and trans fats.  Saturated fats clog arteries, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.  These fats come mostly from animals and are found in palm and kernel oil.  Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to the oil. I’m sure you have read ingredient lists with hydrogenated oils. Trans fats raise LDL levels and lower HDL and are worse than saturated fats for the heart. These fats are usually found in processed vegetable oil.

Other uses:

Oil is not just for cooking, and can also be used as a skin cleanser, moisturizer, and antibacterial agent. Oils that contain squalene are especially good for the skin because it’s a natural moisturizer and helps kill bacteria on acne prone skin.  The Purley Twins have used oil pulling techniques on their skin and have seen great results. Extra virgin olive oil is one source of squalene.

Egg Challenge:

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I have always had a hard time cooking eggs on a stainless steal skillet.  After I learned about oil smoke points, I wanted to try cooking an over-medium egg with a high heat oil. Guess what? It made a huge difference.

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For this challenge, I let the stainless steal skillet heat up to medium heat without any oil. This took about 2 minutes.  Then, I heated grapeseed oil for a minute.  Finally, I added the egg.  Undoubtedly the challenging part is always flipping the egg, but it flipped without a hitch!

This may be more information than you ever wanted to know about cooking oils, but I hope some of you find it useful!

 

Good Morning Breakfast Rollups

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A few weeks ago my refrigerator stopped working, so I have become very creative in the kitchen lately. (Luckily I had a queue of recipes for this blog ready to go!)  My fridge has been broken since two Sundays ago!  I’m sure it goes without saying that I am beyond thrilled to have the repair person come out today to fix the compressor!

Since I had to throw out most of the food in the fridge, eating healthy has been challenging. Let’s just say the people working at the Whole Food salad/hot bar have gotten to know me quite well!  Fortunately, I was able to salvage a few ingredients from the fridge meltdown, pun intended.  All of my nut butters, grains, and fruits/vegetables survived.

Back in my unhealthy days, my best friends and I would snack on a warm flour tortilla covered in mayonnaise… yes mayonnaise!!!  I cringe thinking about it.  Since I had tortillas and nut butter on hand, I went out to create a healthy version of my previous unhealthy snack. That’s when I created the Breakfast Rollups.

I started with organic sprouted grain tortillas…

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Then I added peanut butter, sliced strawberries & bananas, and flax seed.

Sidebar: I love Trader Joe’s flax seed with blueberries.

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Then I wrapped it up and microwaved it for 15 seconds.

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The results were ooey gooey goodness.  I ended up making many varieties over Fridge Meltdown. (I may have named this period of time!)

Almond Butter, Blueberry, Banana, Flax Seed Breakfast Rollup

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Avocado, Egg, Nutritional Yeast Breakfast Rollup

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Cocoa Almond Butter, Raspberry, Chia Seed Breakfast Rollup

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This stuff is so delicious yet addicting…

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Peanut Butter, Raisins, Cinnamon Breakfast Rollup

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My friend, Hosanna, gave me some homemade raisins that were plump and delicious.  I ate half the bag before they even touched the Breakfast Rollup, which has me thinking I need a food dehydrator.

What are your favorite dehydrated foods?  If you have a food dehydrator, what creative ways have you used it?

Meatless Kale Bibimbap Bowl, Oh My!

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Lately, I have been experimenting with a vegetarian diet.  The Bear could never give up meat, and since I don’t want to make two dinners every night, I still eat meat.  I just don’t eat meat every single day.  My fascination with a meatless diet goes back to my childhood when I declared I was a vegetarian.  I used it as a free pass to eat all the carbohydrates I wanted.  I LOVE pasta and bread!  That lasted for about a month before my mom caught on to my antics.  Of course, a proper vegetarian diet is about balance.

There are so many healthier protein options that do not come with the cholesterol or guilt like meat products.  Recently, I have been enjoying sietan, tempeh, tofu, and many, many beans.  Sidebar: be sure to get Non-GMO meatless products.  GMOs are genetically modified foods and corp growers modify the seeds to be resistant to herbicides and viruses.  That may sound like a good idea, but here is why it’s not!

Let me jump off my high horse and share this recipe with you!

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Meatless Bibimbap Bowl, Oh My!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • Bibimbap Bowl:
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 small zuchinni, julienned
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • 2 eggs (remove egg for vegan option)
  • 8 oz package of seitan
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch cube of ginger, minced
  • Bibimbap Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 drops of stevia

Instructions
  1. Whisk all sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat skillet to medium. Add gradeseed oil, garlic, ginger and seitan. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes flipping halfway through until the seitan is crispy.
  3. While the seitan is cooking, steam the kale with one tablespoon of water on a hot skillet. This should take 3 minutes, then set aside.
  4. Steam carrots, zucchini, and bean sprouts with one teaspoon of water on the same skillet; set aside.
  5. Cook two over-easy, over medium, or scrambled eggs.
  6. Top the cooked brown with the seitan, vegetables, egg and sauce. Enjoy!

 

Even the meat loving Bear enjoyed this recipe!

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Grandma Tip:

Before I started juicing fruits and vegetables, the fresh ginger I bought would go bad before I could use it all.  My grandma taught me to freeze peeled one-inch cubes of ginger.  The frozen ginger still holds the strong flavor and tastes fresh.  Simply take a cube of the ginger out of the freezer and defrost it for 30 seconds to one minute.

What are some tips you have learned from your grandparents?

Chocolate Raspberry OverNight Oats

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A few months ago I discovered OverNight Oats (aka, ONOs) from Brittany’s blog.  The basic concept behind ONOs is simple: mix oats with milk of choice and leave in the fridge overnight.  These oats are similar to cold cereal or grits, and I find them delicious!  Added bonus: ONOs keep you full until lunch time!  No mid-morning snacks for this girl.

I started to experiment with different flavors, and I think I have found a winning combination.  My beloved raspberries and chocolate… to die for!  I ate this for breakfast for a week straight when I first discovered this combo!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of steal cut oats (or old fashioned)

1/2 cup of Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 T cocoa powder

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 t chia seeds (optional)

1 t honey (optional)

1/4 cup frozen raspberries

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Instructions:

Mix the first 6 ingredients together until combined. Mix in frozen raspberries.  Put in fridge overnight. So simple!

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The following morning I topped the concoction with a little extra almond milk to loosen up the oats. This is becoming a favorite for breakfast or desert!

What is your favorite breakfast food?

Hermosa Fiesta Festival AY AY AY + Green Tea Health Benefits + Chia Seed Winner!

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Happy Memorial Day everyone!

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Let me start by saying that I have the most incredible friends. My good friends, Ashley and Hosanna, took me to Hermosa Beach for a birthday extravaganza yesterday. The girls know I recently started living a fit, healthy life, so they planned a day full of health conscience festivities.

We started our Adventure for the Soul at The Spot.  A natural food restaurant which Hosanna had heard rave reviews about.

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I ordered the teriyaki veggie burger, but of course, I had food envy for what the girls order: a guacamole veggie burger and almond rice salad.

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After we got our munch on, we walked the strip to the Hermosa Fiesta Festival. (I must admit Hosanna gets credit for the title of this post).

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The festival had hundreds of booths, a beer garden, live music, and all with an easy, breezy, beachy atmosphere.  I was excited to see a variety of natural products.  I picked up a few aromatherapy soy candles, which smelled amazing, by Natural Body & Bath.  Then we stumbled upon this gem, World Flavorz Spice & Tea Co:

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A beautiful sight for the eyes and a delightful smell to the nose.  Stephanie was nice to let me get behind to booth for a few photos.  I was impressed by the arrangement of spices and teas they had available, and purchased the strawberry, kiki fruit tea and the mojito green tea.  During college I started drinking green tea, and I can’t seem to miss a morning without it.  I love that green tea has low caffeine levels, so I don’t crash mid-morning.  As far as things to be addicted to go, green tea is a pretty good one… here are some of the health benefits:

  • Cancer fighting antioxidants. Green tea contains catachins which combine with free radical cancer causing cells to form healthy cells. 
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Green tea helps relax blood vessels, which helps regulate changes in blood pressure and prevent the formation of clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.  
  • Weight Loss. A few studies have shown that green tea helps fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Diminishes bone loss.  Green tea may reduce the risk of bone fractures and bone loss through it’s antioxiant and anti-inflammatory qualities.
  • Kills tooth decay causing bacteria. The catachin found in green tea is antibacterial.
  • Helps delay dementia. Studies have shown that green tea protects brain cells from dying and may help restore damaged brain cells.   

If you are interested in more information, I found a great article on WebMD and another FITDay about the benefits of green tea.

After the Fiesta Festival, the girls and I headed to the beach for some relaxing in the sun. They also showed me how to play bocce ball, which is my new favorite beach game!

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Ashley is officially a professional bocce baller!

All in all, I had a marvelous time with my girls yesterday.  For all of the local birds without any Memorial Day plans, I highly recommend you stop by the Hermosa Fiesta Festival today. You won’t regret it!

Now for the RANDOM GIVEAWAY WINNER!

The winner is:

Holly who said, “Chia seeds are the best! This pudding looks great! I love the chocolate and mint combo.”  Email your info to jillienne [at] chasingraspberries [dot] com and I will send these seeds out to you right away.

ChChChChia! Why You Should Eat Chia Seeds!

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Yup!  The same seeds used on the famous Chia Pets we all know and love.

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Why you should eat chia seeds!

Chia seeds have been around for centuries.  It is said that the Aztecs ate a tablespoon of chia seeds that sustained them for an entire day.  One tablespoon of chia seeds has about 3 grams of protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, and 6 grams of dietary fiber.  Chia seeds are considered a near perfect food source.  Like flax seeds, chia seeds contain minerals and anti-oxidents (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin and zinc) that fight free-radical cancer causing cells.  Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds have a long shelf life.  When mixed with liquid, chia seeds become gelatinous and can actually slow down the digestion of sugars and carbohydrates. Today chia seeds are grown in Australia, Mexico, and Central America.  You can find these seeds at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts.

How do I use chia seeds?

The other day I was at Trader Joe’s buying three bags of chia seeds to give away on Mother’s day.  At the register, the cashier asked me how I use the seeds.  She said that she heard people use them in smoothies or juices.  Of course I was super excited to share my new knowledge with her and explained that these seeds have so many uses, like:

Chia Pudding

Add to Oatmeal

Protein Pancakes

Egg substitute

Flour substitute (ground seeds)

Salad topper

Smoothies

Juices

Here is my take on chia seed pudding:

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5.0 from 2 reviews

Mint Chocolate Chia Pudding
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1
 

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ¾ cup Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon mint extract
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon truvia or natural sweetener

Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until dissolved. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Enjoy now or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

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Random Chia Seed Giveaway!

Since it’s my birthday today, I will be giving away a package of these Trader Joe’s chia seeds to one of my readers.

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Enter the giveaway by commenting below. Tell me about your favorite way to use chia seeds. If you haven’t used chia seeds yet, tell me how you would like to use them.  I will post the winner on Monday!

Entered Pasadena Marathon’s 10k

Pasadena Marathon
I registered for the Pasadena Marathon’s 10k today! It is hard to believe that I couldn’t even run a mile just 5 months ago!

My Journey to a 10k

Before I started meeting with a personal trainer, my hips hurt every time I ran.  Working with my trainer, I was able to build muscle around my joints and running became a breeze.  My trainer started me out with a one minute walk followed by a one minute run for ten minutes total.  After a long three months of this routine, it was time to shoot for a 1 mile run without any walking.  To my surprise it was not very difficult.  A few weeks later, I tried running 2 miles – piece of cake!  Since 2 miles were easy, I thought it would be fun to train for a 5k.  Running 3 miles seemed like a large feat, but I did it!  I had months left before the Pasadena Marathon; I had to shoot for the 10k! So I ran 4 miles, then 5 miles, and now 6 miles!

Below is the schedule that worked best for me

10k Training Table

This training schedule may not work for you. What works for one doesn’t work for all. I met with a physician before I started training for the 10k. And of course, I cheat a little here and there. For instance, I strength trained yesterday (Tuesday) and ran today (Wednesday).

Check out these 5k and 10k training programs I found online:

Coolrunning 5k

Jeff Galloway’s 10k

A few tips I have learned from experienced racers

  • Drink coconut water for electrolytes. Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes. It doesn’t have artificial food coloring like some of the sports drinks out there. It takes a minute to get used to the taste. I enjoy the flavored coconut water!

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  • Eat something light before you run. There is nothing worse than running on a full stomach. Something with protein will stay with you longer during the race.
  • Remember to listen to your body while training to avoid injury.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night you train.
  • Take Ice baths (eek!) or use foam rollers for sore muscles.
  • After you run a certain distance, try to improve your pace the next time you run that distance.  For instance, I ran 6 miles this morning for the first time. The next few times I run 6 miles I will try to run a faster pace.
  • As you run, keep your arms low by your waist. Holding your arms up by your chest tires the body faster. (I’m still getting used to this).

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I’d love to hear about your race experiences.  Comment below with tips you have learned.

Let’s Get Sporty! Bra Review

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Those who know me, know that I love fashion.  Unfortunately for the Bear and the pocket book, I have really been getting into fitness fashion lately.  A few months ago, I purchased Lululemon’s Energy Bra, and I fell in love! It provides the perfect amount of support for my medium sized chest.  Along with the cute design, I have found this bra comfortable and breathable. It does not make me feel smothered like some other bras I have used in the past.

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At $48 a pop for the Lululemon Energy Bra, I was super excited to find that Forever 21 carried a surprisingly similar bra!  It had me thinking that they might use the same manufacturers, so I bought one in pink and seafoam at $13.80 a piece…

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Then I ran 4 miles in the pink Forever 21 bra.  During the run, the bra was supportive, comfortable, and breathable.  It felt just like the more expensive Lululemon Energy bra.  It was all good and dandy until I went to take a shower.  To my horror, the pink dye in the Forever 21 bra rubbed off all over me!

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Okay, so I may be a little over dramatic, but I was very disappointed the pink dye transferred to my skin.  I then tried running in the seafoam Forever21 bra.  The seafoam color did not transfer to my skin like the pink had done, so I was happy again!

Verdict! If you have $48 to spend, go for the Lululemon Energy Bra.  If $48 is a little rich for your blood (like mine), buy the Forever21 bra.  Just wash it two or three times before you wear the pink color!

Leave a comment letting me know what your favorite sports bra is and why you like it.

Welcome to Chasing Raspberries!

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Hello world!  I’m Jillienne. I am creating this blog to document my journey toward a fit, healthy life.  This blog is all about sharing recipes, fitness advice, health tips, and the occasional product review.

You may be asking how the blog’s name came about.  It all started in 1996 when I was visiting my grandparents in Oregon.  That summer, my brother, cousin and I were glued to the TV watching the 1996 Olympics.  Like most little girls, I couldn’t miss a chance to see the USA gymnastics team.  Remember when Kerri Strug stuck her vault landing before crumpling to the floor in pain?! The USA team got gold because of her.  Strug was my hero!  My love for fitness started there.  I have been fairly active throughout my life.  I tried gymnastics, swimming, softball, tennis, lacrosse, cheer leading, and ballet but nothing stuck for more than a year or two.  I hope this blog will help me stay accountable for my new fitness goals, like running 10ks and exercising six times a week.

Oregon VisitMy grandma, aunt, cousin, brother and I hiking in Oregon.  Yup, I’m rocking the overalls!

But I digress… On a beautiful Oregon summer day, my grandparents took my brother, cousin and I to pick raspberries at a field.  Each of us got to fill our own bucket with raspberries.  I couldn’t help but eat the raspberries as we picked them.  It was that day when I discovered how deliciously sweet, yet tart, these little red berries tasted.  I ended up eating all of the raspberries that the three of us picked! And I have been Chasing Raspberries ever since!

To start the blog off right, here is a recipe for my favorite raspberry salad. I got the idea for this salad at a bridal shower, but I modified the recipe quite a bit over the years. She used strawberries instead of raspberries… also delicious!

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5.0 from 3 reviews

Raspberry Spinach Salad
 

A delicious raspberry spinach salad with feta and cashews.
Ingredients
  • Salad
  • 1 carton of organic raspberries
  • 2 handfuls of organic baby spinach
  • ¼ cup Trader Joe’s sesame honey cashews
  • ¼ cup feta
  • Dressing
  • ⅛ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey
  • ½ tablespoon minced shallots

Instructions
  1. Top spinach with raspberries, feta and cashews.
  2. Mix all dressing ingredients until combined; top salad.

 

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I found these little guys at Trader Joe’s. Be careful… they are addicting! If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, use regular cashews.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Welcome to my blog!