Food for Liver Renewal

Today marks the last full moon before March 21st, the Spring Equinox. The earth is rife with purpose, ready to push up the myriad of seeds that will green our landscape for the season to come. Similarly, our bodies are ready to eat more green foods and move more to harmonize with the coming change of season. Mornings and evenings may feel chilly, but the sun shines longer each day and brings the warmth that heralds this season of renewal.

In my native Italy, the word for spring is 'primavera', meaning 'first truth'. May you find time to slow down as you eat, listen to your body's messages for nourishment, and savor the green flavors of the coming spring.

Here are some recipes to inspire your dietary transition from winter to spring.and to support the liver's natural renewal process.

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Beet Sauce

You will need:

  • 3 medium-sized red beets, sliced in half

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil1 shallot, minced

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ teaspoon each: allspice and salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, coriander

In a small pot, boil beets for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Once done, drain them and set aside to cool.

In a small sauté pan, over low-medium heat sauté shallots in olive oil and add spices and salt. Once shallots look caramelized, set aside.

In a blender, combine beets, shallots, vinegar, and water. Blend until smooth.

Use as a topping for millet bread.

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Millet Bread

You will need:

  • 1 ½ cups millet

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaf

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

Place millet in a cooking pot with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir well, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Cook on low heat and keep stirring until millet thickens.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour millet into a baking dish and flatten it evenly. Bake it for 15 minutes.

Slice and eat as you would polenta. Let the millet cool before slicing it.

Add toppings! If spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet, this also makes an excellent pizza crust.

Click this link for more spring recipes.

Chickpea Tagine with Buckwheat Pancakes

During the colder months, it's important to warm our bones with healing foods such as soups and stews. This one freezes well, so you can make a double batch to thaw and enjoy at a time when life is busy.

Take a moment to slow down and breathe in the fragrance of these spices as they cook. Native to North Africa, this spice blend and concomitant stew are a wonderful way to boost your immunity and strengthen your digestion while learning about the culinary traditions of another group of people.

Tagine refers to the earthernware pot in which this dish is traditionally cooked. Records of this dish date back to the 9th century CE.

Chickpea Tagine

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, salt

  • 1 cup chopped onions

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • One 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 15 ounce can no-salt-added garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), rinsed and drained OR 2 cups cooked chickpeas

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until beginning to brown and stick to the pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Stir in 1/3 cup broth and continue to cook 4 to 5 minutes longer or until very tender. Stir in spices and tomatoes. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining vegetable broth, sweet potato, garbanzo beans, and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.

Serve with buckwheat pancakes and parsley pistou if you like.

Savory Buckwheat Pancakes

Mix together:

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup water

Cook in an oiled skillet as you would pancakes. Serve with chickpea tagine.

Parsley Pistou

In a blender, combine:

  • 2 cups flat leaf parsley, rinsed and de-stemmed

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup water

Blend well and enjoy with tagine or as a spread on bread.

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Revamp Your Lunch Routine

Fall is here, and it's the perfect time to look inward, slow down, and change the way that we eat. Summer's expansive energy is culminating in the harvest of beans, grains, root vegetables and winter squash. These are also essential foods to eat right now because of their immune-boosting benefits.

Try these lunch ideas to strengthen your immune response and simplify your diet.

To prepare:

Set aside 3 hours of time on a day off. Make a list and go food shopping.

Prepare a double batch of these two recipes and you will have lunches ready for the week ahead.

Green Leek Millet Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup millet

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large leek

  • ½ teaspoon each: sea salt and black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh greens: dandelion, kale, chard, collards

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin and coriander powder

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard (no salt added)

Place millet in a stock pot with 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Add salt and black pepper.

The millet will reach a thick, porridge-like consistency as you stir. Once it does, remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Chop 1 large leek into rounds. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add leeks.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, black pepper, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add greens. Simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out of the vegetables.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie plate with olive oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with cumin, coriander, lemon juice, and mustard.

Spread the millet on the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Place vegetables over millet. Pour eggs over the top and bake for 40 minutes.

Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D.

Leeks: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Shitake Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms

  • 3 carrots

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon

  • 3 cloves garlic

Place kasha and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken. Add spices.

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop cauliflower and carrots.

Oil a rectangular baking dish. Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish. Season with spices, Toss well to coat. Roast for 15 minutes.

Chop shitakes and add them to the roasting vegetables. Roast for 15 more minutes.

Mince garlic. Remove vegetables from oven and mix in garlic. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha. Cover kasha with the vegetables. Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.

Bake for 15 more minutes. Cool, slice and enjoy!

Buckwheat: this little seed is not technically a grain, but is often treated like one. It is gluten-free and contains more protein than fiber or fat. It is filling, nourishing, and offers a warming quality during the colder months. Buckwheat helps maintain balanced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Its beneficial effects are due to its high flavonoid and magnesium content. Kasha is the name for toasted buckwheat groats, which cook up much more quickly than raw buckwheat.

Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.

Mushrooms: anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and anti-oxidant. These members of the fungal family have rich, earthy flavor (umami), are high in protein, and are the fruiting bodies of a network of mushroom mycelium that runs underground throughout the entire planet. They contain a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which may be able to bind onto aromatase enzymes in breast cancer cells and lessen their ability to produce estrogen.

Would you like to dive deeper into changing your lunch routine?

I have created a week-long menu plan of plant-based lunches, which includes recipes, a shopping list and cooking tips. You can prepare each of these lunches easily as you make breakfast in the morning.

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Wonderful One Pot Meals For Spring

Give yourself time to rest and rejuvenate.

Make a simple meal that can be re-heated in the oven and served at dinnertime with enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

During the time you would spend cooking in the evening, try doing one of these things.

Go for a walk. Sit in the sun. Talk with a loved one. Hold someone's hand. Breathe deeply, in and out, offering gratitude for another day on the planet.

Quinoa Casserole with Spiced Roots

You will need:

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and oregano

  • 3 red potatoes, chopped into cubes

  • 4 carrots, chopped into ½ inch rounds

  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped into ½ inch rounds

  • 1 beet, chopped into cubes

  • 1 bunch kale, spinach, or chard, chopped

  • Sea salt to taste

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • ½ cup walnuts

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes.

Add chopped roots. Raise heat to high for 2 minutes.

Add lime or lemon juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Add spices. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop greens. Add to skillet. Add water if anything is sticking to the bottom.

Meanwhile, cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water.

Add nuts towards the end of cooking.

Grease a casserole dish with vegetable oil.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When roots are soft, place in the contents of the skillet bottom of the casserole dish.

Once quinoa and nuts are cooked, spread it on top of the vegetables.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Enjoy! Serve with sesame lemon sauce if you like.

Sesame Lemon Sauce

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½ cup water

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

Use as a salad dressing or garnish for casseroles.

Millet Leek Casserole with Tempeh

Start with the millet.

Soak 1 cup millet for 2 hours or so. Strain and rinse millet.

You can also cook without soaking. This process removes phytic acid, making millet more digestible.

Pour into a cooking pot with 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.

Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 carrots, grated

  • ½ teaspoon each: thyme and nutmeg

Cook on low heat and stir occasionally until millet thickens.

Meanwhile, chop 2 leeks.

Place in a deep skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Sauté for 5 minutes.

Chop 1 8-ounce package of tempeh into cubes.

Place tempeh in a bowl and add:

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 1 teaspoon tahini

  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

Mix well.

Pour contents of bowl into the skillet with leeks.

Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until tempeh is browning slightly.

Meanwhile, chop kale – about 2 packed cups.

Add kale and ½ cup water to the skillet.

Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5 more minutes.

Set aside.

Grease a glass baking dish (9x9) with olive or sunflower oil.

Pour one third of the millet into the baking dish and flatten it evenly.

Cover with half of the vegetable mixture.

Add another layer of millet, followed by vegetables.

Finish with millet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the top is turning golden.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Casserole

Place 1 cup dry kasha (buckwheat groats) and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken.

Add ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop 1 large head cauliflower into florets.Chop 3 large carrots into crescents.

Oil a rectangular baking dish.

Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish.

Season with ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon.

Toss well to coat.

Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Mix as many peas as you like with the cauliflower and carrots. Remove from baking dish and set aside in a bowl temporarily.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha.

Cover kasha with the vegetables.

Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.

Bake for 15 minutes, cool and enjoy!

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Gut issues? Try an Elimination Diet + Custom Healthy Eating Program

Do you have a rumbly, uncomfortable belly?

Does your skin itch or give you blemishes?

Do you experience gas, bloating, irregular stool frequency (more or less than once / twice daily)?

Do you have constipation or diarrhea occasionally?

Try an elimination diet.

"Elimination" comes from the Latin word meaning "beyond the threshold".

Move beyond the threshold of your semi-wellness.

Walk through the door of discovery, find the foods and eating habits that cause distress, and let them go, once and for all!

Try this guide to get started. If you would like,

I can tailor your Elimination Diet to your needs and goals.

Clean out your kitchen.

Remove processed, packaged items and those containing sugar in all forms. Let go of coffee and alcohol, too. Use this guide to alternative sweeteners to help you with cravings.

Go shopping.

Buy foods according to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen Guide from the Environmental Working Group. Make sure to get plenty of gluten-free bulk grains, hormone / antibiotic free chicken, fish and eggs, and lots of vegetables. 

Start your elimination diet when you have a day or two off to be at home. Set aside time to cook and follow these meal plans and watch these videos to help you with prep.

I can help tailor shopping lists and meal plans to your needs.

Keep a journal.

Write your intention for your Elimination Diet. What do you plan to get out of this two-week period of cleansing? What you will do when cravings hit.?

Eliminate potential allergens.

Start by eliminating gluten, dairy, coffee, and sugar. When you move beyond the threshold of these foods, you will see how many more delicious new ingredients there are to try!

Substitute.

Instead of:

  • gluten, try buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, teff, millet, and oats;

  • sugar, try applesauce, dates, figs, and little bits of raw honey;

  • coffee, try green tea or a coffee substitute like Dandy Blend;

  • dairy, try almond or rice milk.

If you would like to do a more in-depth elimination diet, I can help you by customizing recipes, prep + meal plans to eliminate these common allergens as well: corn, peanuts, soy, eggs, chocolate, vinegar, yeast, low-quality fats + oils, fatty meat, beans.

Re-Introduction

Hello allergen! Nice to meet you again! Does my body like you? Let's see.

After the elimination phase, start re-introducing the foods that you excluded for 2 weeks. You will notice immediately that, when you challenge your body with offensive foods, it will react! 

Itchy eyes, digestive distress of any kind, shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue, and nausea are all signs of a food sensitivity.

Record it in your journal and try to avoid it from now on.

The elimination diet takes a little bit of planning and coordination, but it is simple to do and can make a huge difference in your health!

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Buckwheat


Try this nutty little grain to cool summer heat and nourish yourself.

Buckwheat helps maintain balanced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Its beneficial effects are due to its high flavonoid and magnesium content.

These recipes will inspire you to savor kasha, toasted buckwheat groats, in new and interesting ways!

Plum buckwheat breakfast



In a stock pot, bring these ingredients to a boil:

3 plums, halved, pitted, and quartered
2 ½ cups water
1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)
½ teaspoon each: cardamom and cinnamon
pinch salt

Reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

At the end of cooking, add:

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons honey

Mix to incorporate and enjoy! Top with unsweetened whole yogurt if you like.

Buckwheat cauliflower casserole


Place 1 cup dry kasha (buckwheat groats) and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken.

Add ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.




Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chop 1 large head cauliflower into florets.
Chop 3 large carrots into crescents.

Oil a rectangular baking dish.
Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish.
Season with ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon.
Toss well to coat.
Roast for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Mix as many peas as you like with the cauliflower and carrots. Remove from baking dish and set aside in a bowl temporarily.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha.
Cover kasha with the vegetables.
Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.
Bake for 15 minutes, cool and enjoy!


Strawberry buckwheat dessert

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Mix these ingredients together:
1 cup buckwheat flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder

Make a well in the center and add:
3/4 cup milk (almond, rice, or cow)
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs

Whisk well.

Add 2 cups fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and halved.

Incorporate wet and dry ingredients.
Pour into an oiled pie plate and bake for 20 minutes.
Cool, slice, and enjoy!