Category Archives: Cooking Fast Easy Healthy

Craving Something Unhealthy?

Well, I was too! I wasn’t craving the worst thing, Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Soup, but there are things on the ingredient list that just don’t work for me. The corn is most likely GMO which is a controversial subject, but I choose to err on the side of caution and avoid it when possible. And the pasta is made with wheat which I try my best to avoid because it causes me grief, and eggs (probably not pastured and who knows what the chickens ate) and sugar which shouldn’t be necessary to cut the acidity of the tomatoes because there are carrots in the soup.

All of which left me in the lurch so I started checking around and found Amy’s Organic Fat Free Vegetable Soup which was delicious once I added a squirt of olive oil, but pricey at around $3.60/can. That can was enough for one nice-sized bowl and I definitely bought it, then found it for a around $2.50 online through Walmart.

One day a few weeks ago I was walking through the grocery store and spotted a package of mixed veggies. That’s something I hadn’t looked at or purchased in years, but the picture got my attention because it is exactly what’s in Campbell’s or Amy’s vegetable soup. The light bulb came on! I checked out the ingredients on Amy’s can and knew that with a can of tomatoes and a few spices I could duplicate the veggie soup of my craving! And, it works! Here’s how:

  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies
  • 1/3 bag of frozen organic corn*
  • 1/2 bag of frozen edamame*
  • 1/2 bag of frozen spinach
  • 1-2T reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • Dehydrated onion flakes, celery salt, garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste
Delicious, and lots of it! The bowl in the front was today's lunch served with some watermelon slices. YUM!

Delicious, and lots of it! The bowl in the front was today’s lunch served with some watermelon slices. YUM!

Using a large pot, put all of the ingredients together along with 1 1/2 tomato cans of water. Heat it all up and then simmer for a couple of hours.
I like extra corn and wanted a bit of protein thrown in. Use organic when possible and practical. You can use onions, garlic and celery, I just didn’t happen to have any on hand when I put mine together.
The second time I made it I cleaned out the bits and pieces of veggies in my freezer and added some okra, peas and kale. Play with it and enjoy!

So, the moral of the story is, you don’t have to pay a fortune for a healthy version, nor does it have to be difficult to create. I’d love the challenge of finding healthy alternatives for you. Visit my website and click on Contact Me.

Bon Apetite!



Fresh Watermelon Orange Sorbet

I am on a summertime treat roll! Here’s my latest concoction:

  • 1 cup of frozen watermelon chunks
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and torn into four sections
  • 3 drops of liquid stevia

Layer fruit into smoothie/blender jar with the orange sections closest to the blades. Add in stevia and blend until smooth.

orangeWith my NutriBullet it requires me to shake the jar several times, but it’s so good that it’s worth it to persevere. With a regular blender you might have to stop and stir several times. I don’t add liquid and after blending it is like a soft serve sorbet … Delicious!

This Watermelon Orange Sorbet not only packs a nutritional wallop, but watermelon blended into a smoothie is the perfect way to preserve pieces that won’t be used up in time or a watermelon that you buy and is overripe or has an unappealing texture.

Another treat is frozen pineapple chunks, frozen sliced strawberries and a chunk of frozen banana blended with just enough juice to make a slush. I add a few drops of liquid stevia for added sweetness.

To feel really special, or for special occasions, dress it up with an orange slice and a fancy glass.

A client told me about just blending frozen pineapple and coconut milk. Another delicious smoothie for a summertime treat.

My next experiment is to make these and freeze them in Popsicle molds. After mowing the grass on a hot day, one of these puppies would be the perfect way to relax on the deck! Eating cold, healthy treats is a great way to cool off!

Summer treats … YUM!
Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach

Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices


Tasty Summer Treat – Dairy-free Ice Cream!

homemade dairy free ice cream

Check out how easy it is to create tasty treats at home where you know that the ingredients are healthy and support your efforts to bring better health to you and your family!

The best tasting non-dairy ice cream I’ve ever made (or tasted) is Strawberry Chocolate Chip. It’s a fun way to get everyone involved in a little chemistry and creating their own treats!

I was out of chocolate chips when I made some for the photo, so I topped it with a square of 85% dark chocolate.

1 cup of tightly packed, fresh, sliced strawberries (you can use any richly flavored fruit like peaches, bananas, mango, cherries)
1/3 cup of coconut cream (I get this at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find it, just use full-fat coconut milk)
chocolate chips – amount depends on your preference (non-dairy)
1 sandwich size zip style bag
1 gallon size zip style bag (or large plastic coffee container-empty of course)
1/3 cup of table or rock salt
1/3 cup of water
1 tray of ice cubes

Put the ice, water and salt in the gallon bag. Set aside.

Blend the strawberries and coconut cream in blender (I use my smoothie jar). Pour into the sandwich sized bag.

Put the small bag into the large one and make sure it’s immersed in the water/ice mixture.

Flip the bag around for up to five minutes. (It often takes two minutes, but sometimes more.) I like to rotate it corner to corner.

Be careful when you do this as the bag can get cold enough to cause injury. 

I recommend oven mitts or wrapping the bag in a kitchen towel. Watch kids when they’re doing this. (I must admit, I don’t use anything. I just touch the very corners with my thumb and index finger and haven’t had any problems.)

When the ice cream is ready, just remove from the bag and transfer to a bowl. Add the chocolate chips, stir and enjoy!!!

Makes 1 generous serving

If you want to serve this at a backyard get together, you can make the strawberry blend ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a day. Make up the gallon bags with ice ahead of time, but don’t add the salt or water until it’s time to play. Have the salt/water mix measured out in individual containers and you can have everyone form a serving line. Hand them a gallon bag, they open it, you pour in the salt/water mixture and hand them a sealed bag of strawberry blend and a towel. Set up a table with bowls, spoons and chocolate chips. Your partner in crime can go through the line first to show everyone how it’s done.

This stuff is FABULOUS!! Here’s another idea:

Wellness Today is a series by the school I attended, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

I hope you get a chance to try these. They are truly wonderful and the perfect summer treats!

Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices


Water … It’s not just water anymore!

cropped sparklingStep One. Oh Wait, We’ve Done a Bunch of Steps Already! (Delicious ‘water’ recipe at bottom.)

Water. Drink more. Tap. Filtered. Sparking. Drink it hot. Drink it iced. Drink it room temp. Stay hydrated for better health.

Most of us think that we’re doing great if we respond to thirst with a glass of water, but if you’ve been a participant in many of my classes or read my blog on cravings, you already know that being dehydrated can mask itself as a craving for sugar instead of thirst setting us off in the direction of candy bars and brownies instead of what we truly need. Experts advise that by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

If you suffer from stress, stress headaches, tightness and bodily tension drinking water often helps to get your body into balance.

In his internationally acclaimed book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj attributes most illness and disease to dehydration. He concludes that asthma, arthritis, depression migraines, hypertension, multiple sclerosis and other diseases are preventable and curable with ordinary water.

I can’t attest to the veracity of his arguments, but common sense tells you that by drinking more water you will flush toxins from your body faster. (There is a small percentage of the population for whom adding in liquid can be a problem. If you suffer from edema or congestive heart failure or any condition in which the body retains fluids, it’s best to check with your doctor before adding any more liquid to your daily intake.)

Depending on where you live and/or your health, tap water may be the perfect choice. Despite having chemicals added, the water in this country is the safest available and federal standards for tap water are actually higher than for bottled water. Then there’s the planetary burden of plastic bottles and the question of chemical residue in the water and tap water sounds better and better.

If you want to filter out some/most of the chemicals in tap water there are any number of filters available from whole house to faucet to pitcher to bottle. Each type of filter rids you of most chemicals and makes your tap water even safer. Whatever your choice it’s key that you change the filter regularly!

Your hydration level is definitely an individual number. Find what works for you. Consider your personal habits when determining your water intake. If you eat a lot of veggies and fruit you are naturally hydrating yourself, and if you sweat a lot, you’re naturally dehydrating yourself. There’s a big difference in fluid intake with the food choices you make. Dry grains vs veggies … one is nearly water-less and the other is loaded with it. Those are the types of things you need to take into consideration when deciding how much water is right for you.

Whatever your level, it’s definitely helpful to get the majority of your water intake complete before late afternoon. Sound sleep is critical to good health and waking for bathroom breaks definitely interferes!

You don’t just have to drink water although that’s the best choice. Feel free to include herbal teas, soup and lemon water* in your daily count. They are definitely hydrating, just not quite as hydrating as pure water.

Water. Drink more. Tap. Filtered. Sparking. Drink it hot. Drink it iced. Drink it room temp. Stay hydrated for better health.

Here’s my favorite way to add alkalinizing, cold refreshment during the hot summer months. It’s my recipe for Sparkling Lemonade

  • Juice of one small lemon. (Trader Joe’s sells a 1lb. bag of small lemons for $1.49. I think there’s about 6-8 lemons per bag.)
  • 12 drops of liquid stevia
  • 12 ounce can of sparkling water (flavored or plain)

I actually make up pint jars with the lemon juice and stevia added and keep them in my fridge. All I have to do is take one out, pour in a can of sparkling water, ice and gently stir.

For a touch of color add a dash of pomegranate or cherry juice. I also like to put a couple of frozen strawberries in the jar. Lovely!

So, I went to make a glass and found I was out of lemons so the photograph is actually Sparkling Grapefruit … um … ade. And it tastes delicious. I believe I have a new favorite!

This is so much better for you than soda. It’s all natural and is totally refreshing!

Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices


My First Ever Product Review!

1 Trader Joes SpaghettiTrader Giotto’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara

Ingredients: Organic tomato puree (water, organic tomato paste), organic tomatoes, organic basil, organic soybean oil, salt, organic onion, organic garlic powder, organic oregano, organic garlic

Net wt 25 oz. (1 lb 9 oz) 709g

Price in Kansas City on April 2, 2014 $2.29

What I love about it:

  • No sugar added … NONE!
  • Everything except the salt is organic
  • Every ingredient is something you can find in my kitchen
  • Taste. It truly tastes as if it simmered on my stove all day.
  • Its usefulness in making tasty dishes like chicken cacciatore and spaghetti and as a base in my chili and some of my soups.
  • Price. Really, $2.29 and it’s all organic!
  • It comes in Mason jars and they make great iced tea glasses in the summer. (You can make sun tea right in the jar. No pitcher necessary.)

I hate to cook. It’s true. That’s why I teach a class called Cooking … Fast, Easy, Healthy and I consider it my job to find shortcuts that are not only good for your health, but tasty as well. It helps when they’re cost effective too.

Finding a product like this adds variety into my menu because if I don’t have to spend time preparing a delicious marinara I can spend it making a fabulous mushroom risotto!

So, what’s for dinner? I think I’ll have chicken cacciatore served over brown rice and quinoa fusilli with a fresh, green salad lightly dressed in olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, onion, salt and pepper. Bon Appetit!

I know that not all of you have access to a Trader Joe’s and I’d be happy to ship you some except that I don’t think it would be very cost effective after the shipping costs are added, so instead, read the ingredients on the sauces available to you and when you find one that’s to your standards, try it out. I’d love to hear from you about the brands that you find. Let’s share!

Here is the link to my meatless, yet very meaty tasting, spaghetti sauce!

Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices


Nancy’s Soon-to-Be Famous Accidental Chili

I’ve found a combination of ‘secret’ ingredients that make meatless soup, chili and spaghetti sauce taste, for lack of a better word, meaty. I’ve tested my recipes on diehard, meat-loving dudes and they are all shocked when they find out there’s no meat in them.

So, add this to your meal rotation and save the money for a grass-fed steak! (For more on reasons to add in meatless meals see Breakfast for Dinner.) The story explaining the name is in the recipe instructions below.

This recipe is high in protein, fiber and phytonutrients. Enjoy!

(Gluten Free)

1 Can (28oz)     Diced Organic Tomatoes
2 Cans (15oz)   Kidney Beans (I like Light Red)
1 Can (15oz)     Pinto/Black Beans
1 Can (15oz)     Pizza Sauce (I use Muir Glen Organic)
2 Med                 Onions (chopped how you like them)
2 Cloves            Garlic (crushed)
6-8 Small           Red Potatoes (quartered, unpeeled)
1 Cube               Edward & Sons Not Beef Bouillon (or a brand you prefer)
1 T                     Bragg Liquid Aminos (available either online or in the health section
of your grocery
1.5T                   Smoked Paprika  (or to taste)
3 T                     Chili Powder  (or to taste)
2 T                     Cumin  (or to taste)
1.5 T                  Coconut Oil (I use raw, organic, extra virgin)

Rinse & drain the beans, toss everything in a crockpot, cook. J I have to confess that I don’t always use a raw onion or garlic cloves. If I’m in a hurry and don’t have either, I add dried, minced onion and garlic powder. (There, I said it. Confession over.)

Okay, here’s how the accidental, fabulously delicious potato chili happened:

I was at the grocery store and googled ‘chili’ since I can never remember the ratio of tomatoes to tomato sauce or paste. I checked out three and all of them had only 1 large can of tomatoes so that’s what I bought. I got home and started adding ingredients and quickly realized that I needed another tomato product so I looked in my cabinet and the only thing I had was a can of Muir Glen Pizza Sauce. I read the ingredients and thought, “That should work. The Chili Powder and Cumin should do a good job of covering up most of the basil and oregano.”

I tossed everything in the Crockpot and cooked it several hours before dinner. I fixed myself a bowl, took a bite and realized that the bouillon cube added way too much salt … Hmmm, potatoes will absorb that, so tomorrow I’ll add some potatoes.

The next morning, I tossed it all back in the Crockpot and cubed 6-8 small red potatoes and added them. Several hours later I had the best chili I’d ever tasted … NancyO’s Accidental, Fabulously Delicious Potato Chili! But you don’t have to believe me. I demonstrate this in my cooking classes while the students eat some that’s already cooked. This is what I hear:

“OMG – the chili was AWESOME! … That is a recipe my meat-eating hubby would like too!”

“This chili is really amazing!”

“I can’t believe there’s no meat in this. It’s delicious!”

I hope you get a chance to try this because it is really good and the perfect answer to Meatless Meals!

Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach

Just a quick disclaimer: I make a small amount if you purchase from the links I provide. However, primarily I add links because it allows you to know exactly what product I’m talking about when I identify brands that I like and use.

The Trouble with Meatless Meals

Chicken Trouble

Most people are aware of the four basic tastes, but recently there’s been a lot of talk about the fifth taste: umami, and that it is often missing from a meatless dish.

We’re all familiar with sweet, sour, bitter and salty and have many ways to satisfy them, but Americans have traditionally satisfied the desire for umami with meat and animal products. It’s really glutamate that creates the flavor and animal products are loaded with it.

Think about how many products and restaurant meals have added MSG … That’s added glutamate! They add it to enhance flavor and it works. Let’s look at some vegan options for adding umami flavor to plant-based dishes. Try some of these in your next stir fry, batch of chili or pot of soup.

The following list is not necessarily complete, but they are the ways that I add umami flavors to my meatless meals, typically adding at least two to each dish. Primarily I rely on tamari, Bragg liquid aminos, smoked paprika, trouble cowmushrooms (whole, sliced and/or powder), garlic, fennel, caramelized onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Resources on the internet add toasted nuts, caraway seeds, miso and even MSG.

Visit my recipe page for great ideas and recipes for meatless meals. Serving meatless meals is a great way to save money so that you can afford grass fed beef instead of the hormone/antibiotic-laden meat sold in grocery stores.

A simple quick dish is to caramelize onions in some coconut oil, add edamame, brown rice and diced, sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle on some salt and a touch of chili powder … YUM!

I start a new series on Thursday: Step-by-Step: Your Journey to Better Health & Weight Loss. I hope you’ll join me and find your first step!
Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach

Just a quick disclaimer: I make a small amount if you purchase from the links I provide. However, primarily I add links because it allows you to know exactly what product I’m talking about when I identify brands that I like and use.