Build Immunity Now.

Fall equinox passed us last week, providing a balance point, a moment of equal day and equal night before we delve into the inner journey of fall and winter. By strengthening our immune systems now, we bolster our bodies to prepare for a healthy winter.

Here are some ways to honor this transition:

  • Take a deep breath before you eat a meal.

  • Stop to appreciate fall foliage.

  • Wake up affirming that something wonderful is going to happen today.

  • Set aside time to prepare a healing, delicious meal. May these recipes inspire you.

Mushroom and Carrot Pilaf

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon thyme

  • 10 ounces cremini and shitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 5 medium carrots, grated

  • 4 Tablespoons flaxseed meal

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, salt and pepper; stir to coat in oil, and cover skillet.

Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add mushrooms and lemon juice. Cover and cook until mushrooms release most of their liquid, about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Remove skillet from heat, mix in carrots and flaxseed, and serve warm.

Carrots are an excellent fall and winter food because they tonify the intestines and support immune health. Mushrooms are immune-boosting and high in vegetarian protein.

Quinoa and White Bean Sauté

You will need:

  • 2 cups white beans (soldier or cannellini), cooked

  • 2 inches seaweed (kombu or wakame), for cooking the beans

  • 3 cups quinoa, rinsed and cooked

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 shallots, minced

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

  • 2 large bunches kale, or other hearty green, chopped

  • apple cider vinegar and olive oil for dressing

Soak beans overnight. Rinse, drain, and cook with 2 inches seaweed.

Cook beans and quinoa.

Meanwhile, mince shallot and chop kale, parsley and basil.

Sauté shallot and ginger in olive oil for 4 minutes, or until browned. Add kale. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add ½ cup water and sauté for 5 more minutes. Stir to incorporate, turn off heat, and mix with cooked beans and quinoa. Toss with olive oil and vinegar.

Serve at room temperature.

Shallots and ginger are warming, digestive, and stimulate the immune system.

Miso Walnut Porridge

You will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1 cup walnut halves and pieces

  • ½ teaspoon each: coriander and cardamom

  • ½ cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup water

  • ½ teaspoon miso

Heat coconut oil in a small stock pot.

Add walnuts, coriander, and cardamom. Toast on low heat for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add oats and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, add miso, stir to incorporate, and enjoy!

This is a terrific breakfast or a wonderful addition to a dinner of poached chicken and steamed kale.

Have you ever had savory oats? I think they're delicious. They also soothe the nervous system and support healthy transit time and elimination. They're a perfect warming grain for fall and winter.

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Love the Body, Calm the Mind, Nourish the Spirit

Mid-winter is here. We are half-way between winter solstice and spring equinox. This is a time to savor the warmth of the hearth, the delight of soup, and the crunchy texture of a little bit of winter green food.

Enjoy these recipes and remember to breathe in the scents of the spices as you savor your meal.

Lentil Squash Soup

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this recipe inspiration.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon

  • 1 medium butternut squash, baked

  • 1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and boiled

  • 1 cup kale or Swiss chard, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake it for 1 hour, or until it is soft when you cut through it with a knife.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and bring them to a boil in a sauce pot with 3 cups water. Reduce heat to simmer, skim off any foam that rises, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Rinse, drain, and set aside.

Now, chop vegetables.

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion and vinegar and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add diced carrots, celery, and spices. Sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked lentils and 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cook, covered, while you peel and de-seed the squash.

Once it’s peeled and de-seeded, add the squash to the pot.

Add the kale or Swiss chard.

Simmer for 15 more minutes.

Taste for salt and serve immediately with nutty rice flatbread.

Roasted Root and Chopped Egg Salad

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this recipe inspiration.

You will need:

  • 2 large carrots, chopped

  • 3 large parsnips, chopped

  • 1 celeriac (celery root), chopped

  • 5 whole cloves garlic

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1½ pounds frisée and/or arugula, torn and washed

  • Walnut mustard vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss carrots, parsnips, celeriac and garlic with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast, tossing halfway through, for 30 minutes total.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.

Add eggs and boil for 5 minutes. Run them under cold water, peel them, chop them, and place them in a large bowl with the roasted roots. Toss well.

Add frisée and/or arugula and dressing.

Toss again, serve, and enjoy!

Walnut Mustard Vinaigrette

You will need:

  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

Place all ingredients in a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake well. Pour over salad and enjoy!

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Workplace Healthy Eating

Serotonin is our basic feel-good hormone. If serotonin is low, we feel sad or depressed. And hormonal imbalance or weak digestion can lead to low serotonin. Unfortunately, sugars and simple carbohydrates release a short burst of serotonin — we feel good for a moment, but soon return to our low-serotonin state — then crave more sugar and simple carbohydrates. It’s a downward spiral.

Food cravings mean that the body has its signals mixed up. When we are exhausted, we have low blood sugar and/or low serotonin (our ‘feel-good’ hormone). At these times, the body signals the brain that it needs energy. This signal causes a sugar or carbohydrate craving, which only temporarily releases endorphins to raise serotonin levels. Thirty minutes after we indulge the craving, levels plummet again and the vicious cycle starts over.

Work defines our lives, yet we cannot let it take over the way we eat. Try these simple tips to develop healthy workplace eating habits.

To avoid unhealthy foods on a stressful day, keep electric tea kettle and these super foods on hand: almonds and 80% dark chocolate; refrigerated fruit and vegetable smoothies – I like Odwalla; apples and oranges. Enjoy one of these as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.

Go for a 5 minute walk around the building or outside after you eat a snack. Breathe deeply. Listen to yourself breathe.

When you return to your desk, heat water for tea and enjoy it as you work. Choose green tea or herbal varieties. Add honey instead of sugar to sweeten it. As you sip, try to keep your tongue resting softly behind your front teeth. This practice loosens tension in the jaw, hence relaxing the whole body.


WAYS TO REDUCE SUGAR CRAVINGS

Drink water. Often, when we crave sugar, our body is de-hydrated. Stop, notice your craving, and try to drink a glass of water before reaching for sweets.

Reach for fruit. Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You'll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. And stock up on foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.

Move your body. When a sugar craving hits, walk away. Take a walk around the block or go somewhere to change the scenery. It may take your mind off your craving.

Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger. Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and help you avoid irrational eating behavior. Choose protein, fiber-rich foods like whole grains and vegetables.

Eat a bit of what you’re craving. Enjoying a little of what you love can help you steer clear of feeling denied.

Combine sweets and protein. If the idea of stopping at a cookie or a baby candy bar seems impossible, you can still fill yourself up and satisfy a sugar craving, too. "I like combining the craving food with a healthful one," Neville says. "I love chocolate, for example, so sometimes I’ll dip a banana in chocolate sauce and that gives me what I’m craving, or I mix some almonds with chocolate chips." As a beneficial bonus, you'll satisfy a craving and get healthy nutrients from those good-for-you foods.

Pack a daily lunch. Make a weekly dinner plan with your family that everyone will enjoy and prepare enough leftovers for lunch the next day.


WEEKLY MEAL PLAN

Burrito night: corn tortillas, beans, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, salsa

Pasta night: grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, olives, spinach, and garlic

Soup night: leftover grilled chicken and roasted sweet potatoes, chicken broth, side salad

Stir fry night: onions, ginger, carrots, bok choy, adzuki beans over brown rice

Breakfast for dinner night: scrambled eggs with mushrooms and peppers, sourdough bread

Casserole night: leftover stir fry baked with cornmeal, eggs, and yogurt

Be sure you make large batches so that you can take leftovers to work. Pack them as you are cleaning up from dinner and have a little cooler and ice packs ready in the morning. This way, you can assemble lunch, snacks, and go!

Click this link to try my free, three day meal plan.

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