Balance Your Hormones

Everyone thrives when their hormones are balanced. Lack of adequate hormone secretion can affect mood, digestion, and fertility. For female-bodied people, there are not any foods that contain estrogen or progesterone. However, certain nutrients support the body’s natural process of producing these hormones in a balanced way. Since most of the neurotransmitters that produce our hormones live in our intestines, using food to balance hormones is very effective!

After age 35, progesterone levels tend to decrease and estrogen levels increase. This slow process eventually leads to menopause. We can support this gentle change while we are still in the child-bearing years (until age 43 on average) by boosting progesterone levels.

Here is a list of progesterone-stimulating nutrients and their food sources in order of importance. Don’t feel like you need to get all of these nutrients every day. Focus on L-Arginine, Magnesium, and B Vitamins.

L-Arginine: aim for 6 grams per day

  • Turkey – 4 ounces contain about 16 grams

  • Chicken – 4 ounces contains 9 grams

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 1 cup contains 7 grams

  • Chickpeas – 1 cup contains 1.3 grams

Magnesium: aim for 500 mg per day

  • Spinach – 79mg per 100g

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 534mg per 100g

  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 97mg per 100g

  • Brown Rice – 44mg per 100g

  • Dark Chocolate (70% or higher) – 327mg per 100g

  • Vital Calm Magnesium powder – 320mg per serving

Vitamin C: aim for 1,000 mg daily (do not exceed)

  • Yellow Peppers –3mg per large pepper

  • Kale and Collard Greens – 120mg per 100g

  • Kiwi – 64mg per Kiwi

  • Broccoli – 89.2mg per 100g

  • Oranges – 69.7mg

Vitamin B6: aim for 25 mg per day

  • Sunflower Seeds –35mg per 100g

  • Pistachio Nuts – 1.12 mg per 100g

  • Tuna – 1.04mg per 100g (cooked)

  • Turkey – 0.81mg per 100g (cooked)

  • Prunes – 0.75mg per 100g

Vitamin E: aim for 150 mg per day

  • Almonds – 2mg per 100g

  • Sunflower Seeds – 3mg per 100g

  • Shrimp – 2mg per 100g of Shrimp

  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 8mg per 100g

  • Olive Oil – 4mg per 100g

Zinc: aim for 25 mg per day

  • Beef – 12.3mg per 100g

  • Wheat Germ – 16.7mg per 100g

  • Pumpkin and Squash Seeds – 10.3mg per 100g

  • Cashews – 5.6mg per 100g

Here are some recipes that include hormone-balancing ingredients.

Easy Trail Mix

You will need:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

  • 1 cup almonds

  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1/4 cup cashews

  • 3 tablespoons pure Grade B maple syrup

  • A pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup prunes,chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients except the prunes until well mixed.

Spread mixture in an even single layer on the lined baking sheets.

Bake the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place back into bowl, add chopped prunes and toss to combine. Cool completely.

Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lemony Turkey Stew

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 pound organic ground turkey

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 cups kale, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, oregano and salt

  • 1 bunch kale

  • 1 inch chopped kombu or wakame seaweed

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté turkey on medium high heat with vinegar, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, ginger, cabbage, seaweed and spices. Stir well. Add the kale and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and stir in lemon juice. 

Serve and enjoy!

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Turmeric and Ginger Harvest

I am honored to participate in the harvest and cooking of fresh, organic turmeric and ginger grown in a Vermont greenhouse.

May the fruits of the harvest inspire us to find balance during this fall equinox time. Equal day and equal night call for a pause, a moment to revel in what surrounds us, appreciate it for what it is, and reflect on what's working in our lives and what we could let go.

Let these traditional Indian recipes inspire you to support your digestive health and immunity with turmeric and ginger. I have learned how to prepare these dishes from Dr. Vasant Lad, director of the Ayurvedic Institutes in India and New Mexico.

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms. Clinical studies show that ginger consumption decreases arthritis pain and protects the liver from damage.

Turmeric: anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory curcumin, which helps to heal GI diseases such irritable bowel syndrome. It prevents cancer cells from growing new blood vessels to feed themselves and induces the death of existing cancer cells. It also breaks up accumulated amyloid plaque in the brain that’s related to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Rajma

Rajma means red kidney beans in Hindi. This is an adaptation of a traditional Punjabi recipe. These rich and hearty legumes are high in iron and protein. They support gut health with their fiber content.

To pressure cook* the beans:

¾ cups rajma (red kidney beans)

1 ½ cups water

*If you do not have a pressure cooker, just soak the beans overnight and boil in water until tender, about 45 minutes.

For rajma recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated turmeric

  • 2 cloves fresh chopped garlic

  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder or 2 fresh chopped chilies

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

  • Salt to taste

Wash dried rajma under running cold water till water runs clear.

Soak them in enough water for at least 8 hours or overnight.

If using canned beans, there is no need to soak or pressure cook them. Just rinse under the water and use beans in the recipe

Pressure cooking beans: discard the soaking water and add rajma to the pressure cooker with 3 ½ cups of fresh water. Close the lid and put the top on. Cook on high for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Let the pressure go down by itself and then open the cover. After pressure cooking the rajma, they should be soft and some of them will open up. Discard any leftover water from pressure cooking.

To prepare the rajma, heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add bay leaf and saute for 30 seconds. Add chopped onions and salt. Cook the onions till they are light brown in color, about 5 minutes. Saute ginger, turmeric and garlic for a minute.

Add tomato. Mix well and let it cook till all the moisture is evaporated and oil starts to leave the sides of the pan. do stir in between to make sure that it is not sticking to the pan. Add all spice powders. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the beans, cook for 10 more minutes, and enjoy over rice.

Aloo Saag

In Hindi, aloo means potatoes and saag means spinach. This classic side dish can also be made with kale or collard greens.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into chunks

  • ½ tsp each: salt, cumin, and garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 2 cups spinach leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes and spices. Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan. Take off the heat and serve with grilled chicken or cooked beans and rice.

Kitchari

Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains. This is one kitchari recipe that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest. I like to prepare the rice and lentils separately and mix them in my bowl.

Rinse 1 cup long grain brown rice. Bring to a boil with 2 cups water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, with lid askew, for 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon ghee or coconut oil with:

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: mustard seed, cumin seed, cumin powder, coriander powder

  • 1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

When seeds start popping, turn off heat and slowly pour mixture into cooking rice.

You can add zucchini, summer squash, peas, cauliflower, broccoli or asparagus to the rice.

For the lentil dahl, rinse 2 cups yellow split lentils. Drain and bring to a boil with 5 cups water.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Skim off any white foam that develops and discard it.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon ghee or coconut oil with:

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala

  • 1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

Add vegetables such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, collards, kale and spinach to the skillet. Add 1 cup water, cover, and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Mix into the lentils, stir, and enjoy!

Spring Cleanse

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. 

Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits. 

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring's flavor is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, horseradish, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, millet, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind. Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring.

In India’s time-honored tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

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Food-Based Cleanse

Spring is wonderful time to cleanse the internal organs with delicious fruit and vegetable juices. If you do not have a juicer, just use a food processor and strain out the pulp before drinking the juice. You can keep juice in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Juice recipes and health benefits:

  • To strengthen digestion - 1 granny smith apple, 2 carrots, 1 beet

  • To support the liver - beet greens, 1 beet, 3 stalks celery, 2 inches fresh ginger root

  • To cleanse the blood - 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1 granny smith apple, 2 handfuls fresh parsley

Enjoy! Drink a small glass of juice three times daily, from just after you wake up to times of low energy between meals.

Regardless of whether or not you are able to drink fresh juice, you can lighten your diet and include more lacto-fermented vegetables, bitter greens, lemon juice, and whole grains in your meals.

For a week, try to eliminate the following foods, which can tax the liver, gall bladder, and lymph over time:

  • alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages

  • meat: white fish is ok once during the week if it helps you meet your protein needs

  • cheese, cream, ice cream: choose avocados, coconut milk, roasted root vegetables, baked apples

  • popcorn, crackers, cookies

  • products containing sorbitol or xylitol (sugar-free gum and candies)

  • refined sugar: choose raw honey or maple syrup

  • gluten and processed grains like pasta/bread: choose spring grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet

Instead, enjoy the fresh nourishment of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Garnish food with high quality olive oil or flax oil and lemon juice.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Quinoa porridge with carrot spread and almonds

  • Baked sweet potatoes with hard-boiled eggs

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and quinoa

  • Roasted roots with hard-boiled eggs

  • Baked acorn squash with tahini (roasted sesame seed butter), coconut butter, and cinnamon

Lunch and Dinner:

Use recipes from the "spring" category of this blog.

Keep these on hand along with chopped carrot and celery sticks when you need a snack as you are cooking! Remember that flavor, which comes from spreads and spices, is crucial to enjoying your food.

Snacks:

  • Miso broth

  • Granola bar

  • Smoothie or juice (more juice and smoothie recipes on my blog)

  • Apple or orange

Liquids:

  • Dandelion root tea and a glass of warm water with lemon juice in the morning

  • At least 3 quarts water daily

  • Herbal tea in the evening: Traditional Medicinals’ Detox tea is a nice choice

Would you like more specific guidance, meal plans, and recipes for your cleanse? Try my two-week, food-based cleanse.

Middle Eastern Feast

Dear friends of ours are getting married this fall. I have the honor of helping coordinate the wedding feast. Because the bride grew up in Jerusalem, they are choosing a Middle Eastern theme for dinner. 

Here are some recipes from the feast, which are perfect for cooling summer heat. They will tantalize your senses and get your creative juices flowing.

Tabbouleh

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulghur wheat*

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 3 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups minced scallions

  • 1 1/4 cups chopped fresh mint leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 cucumber, unpeeled and diced

  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

*You can substitute cooked quinoa for a gluten-free version of this salad.

Place the bulghur in a large serving bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh marinates for a few hours.

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Watermelon Mint Feta Salad

You will need:

  • One 8 pound (approximately) watermelon

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 limes, juiced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

Chop the watermelon, remove the seeds, and place in a colander to drain.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper to create a dressing.

Place watermelon in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing and chopped mint over the watermelon and toss gently to coat. Crumble the feta over the top ans stir gently to incorporate all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Israeli Salad

This salad is delicious served with feta and olives or pita bread.

You will need:

  • 3 cups Roma tomatoes, diced (about 5 tomatoes)

  • 2 cups cucumbers, diced (about 2 cucumbers)

  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced (about 1 pepper)

  • 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons green onion, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Toss together all ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

This salad's flavors improve when given a few hours to marinate. Prepare it mid-day to serve at dinner.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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Deep Winter Nourishment

Happy New Year!

Some of us celebrate with lights, toasts, and foods that delight our palates. Others choose to chant, meditate, or retreat and eat simple foods. No matter how you bring in the new year, set an intention.

Imagine yourself happy, healthy, feeling vibrant in your body, and intuitively knowing which foods are best for your body.

To find connection with this deep internal body wisdom, eat mindfully and nourish yourself with wholesome foods that are rich in good quality fats. Fats soothe the nervous system, provide warmth, uplift the mood, and ease stress. Here are some recipes to try this winter.

Chicken Stock

Place 2 pounds of pastured chicken legs into a large stock pot and cover with 10 cups cold water.

Coarsely chop and add vegetables: 3 stalks celery (1 1/2 cups), 2 onions, (2 cups), and 3 carrots (2 cups). Add 2 teaspoons each: salt and pepper.

You can also add: 2 inches fresh ginger root to make a warming, spicy stock; 2 Tablespoons each astragalus root and reishi mushroom slices to enhance the immune boosting properties of the stock.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 1-2 hours.

Remove the bones and strain the stock. Save the vegetables, purée them in a blender with olive oil, and eat as a spread on bread.

You can store the stock in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Use the stock to cook rice, kale, or make soup.

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Winter Chicken Stew

You will need:

  • 1 pound chicken: use boneless drumsticks or thighs

  • To make a vegetarian dish, substitute 2 cups cooked red lentils.

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 4 carrots, chopped into crescents

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 turnip, chopped

  • 1 bunch kale, chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Chop onions.

Heat oil in large soup pot.

Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the spices, stir and sauté on medium heat for 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add carrots, turnip and celery. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom. Add the chicken pieces and 2 cups water. Cover and allow to cook for ½ hour (or until chicken is done).

Add kale and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Serve with shitake rice.

Shiitake Rice

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 2 inches seaweed: kombu or wakame (I like Ironbound Island brand)

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 cups napa cabbage, chopped

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice

  • 2 cups water or chicken stock (see above)

Chop onions and shitakes.

Heat oil in a deep skillet. Add onions and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until browning. Add shitakes and sauté for 10 more minutes, or until soft. Add tamari, seaweed, vinegar, and pepper. Add cabbage, rice and stock / water. Stir well to incorporate.

Cook, covered, on low heat for 30 minutes or until you see air bubbles on the surface of the rice.

Serve warm.

Recharge and Simplify

As the first frosts decorate Vermont's gorgeous foliage with silvery lace, I am preparing for the colder months to come. This is the time to simplify your diet, walk in nature, and make sure that you are restoring the body's electrolyte balance.

As the weather gets colder, the air becomes more dry. This simple drink, a Gatorade replacement, helps keep me hydrated and boosts immunity, too.

Home-made Electrolyte Drink

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You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey

Mix everything together in the blender and store in the fridge for up to a week. Drink one to two glasses daily and enjoy after a workout. If you are pregnant, this is a great drink for labor. 

Why it works: salt rehydrates, honey nourishes and boosts immunity, and lemon and lime juice cleanse and open the tissues to absorb water.

Support Your Cleanse

A cleanse depends on your condition and constitution. Learn more here about tailoring your cleanse to your needs and dietary goals. 

Whether you eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol and gluten for two weeks or engage in an even simpler diet, it's important to support the nourishment process with lifestyle changes. If you are cleansing and simplifying your diet, create a soothing environment for yourself. 

Try to take time off of work at least 2 afternoons per week. Rest, practice mindfulness, drink a cup of tea, or write in a journal.

Go for a walk. Spending time in nature helps our body, mind, and spirit to release stress and appreciate the joy of life.

Surround yourself with peaceful, nourishing people and settings. We are extra sensitive while cleansing. Try to keep your evening activities to a minimum. You will sleep much better.

Minimize stress. Here are five ways to de-stress in daily life.

Compassion, Mindfulness, and True Nourishment

We practice many things in our lives. From brushing teeth ans driving cars 

to getting dressed and feeding ourselves, life is a practice.

Some practices feel more practical. Others, like dance, music, meditation, photography, or art, feel more creative.

A practice starts with internal motivation to achieve excellence both for oneself and for the well-being of others. At its best, a practice generates compassion, love, healing and nourishment.

Choosing, cooking, eating, and appreciating food are deeply emotional practices. Be present with them to honor your heart.

Even masters who practice every day can gain new skills to engage with sources of nourishment and deepen their connection to present moment awareness and the satisfaction that arises from it.

How much time do you devote each day to taking care of yourself and accepting yourself, just as you are, without judgement?

What are the daily practices to which you devote your energy? 

I encourage you to lean into your daily practices with present moment awareness. 

When brushing teeth, be with that practice. You can even say internally, "I am brushing my teeth". This mindfulness practice settles the mind, lets thoughts be at rest, and helps us see that we are not actually more effective when we rush or multi-task.

When cooking, be with your ingredient. Appreciate it. Notice its qualities.

As you eat, pause between bites. Take a breath in and out.

This is mindful eating.

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Allow space to be curious about your experience. This inquiry will allow you to develop awareness and compassion for others, their mindsets, and their experiences.

It's a simple practice that can take you far in your own self-care.

Be well and stay in touch.

The Journey of a Thousand Miles ...

...begins with a single step.
- Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching

You are at the root of wellness. Each day, you choose it by doing small, simple things for yourself that promote well-being. Non-judgement is an important one for me. I try to notice my choices and have compassion for myself. If I am not happy with the outcome, I remind myself to make a different choice next time.


For example: when I do not eat a protein-packed breakfast, I overeat at dinner and get a stomach ache. Next time, I will try to eat more protein at breakfast.

Here are three simple ways that you can build the foundation for making healthy choices. These suggestions will support you to hear your inner voice and trust your instincts as you navigate the day's events.

Sleep

Most of us need at least seven hours of sleep each day. Sleep improves our vitality and memory, lets our muscles rest so that we can use them effectively tomorrow, and promotes strong immunity and good digestion.

To get better sleep, engage in peaceful activities for an hour before bed. Read, watch a soothing TV show, take a bath, or drink tea and exchange a foot massage with someone in your household. If you meditate, do so for five minutes before sleep. Send yourself love and compassion. Good night!

Eat Wholesome Meals

Whether you make vast changes all at once or take a single step at a time, healthy eating is the foundation of well-being. Small changes add up. Even when I choose to eat something that's not ideal for me (sweet potato fries are my favorite!), I know that my system is resilient enough to handle that choice and bounce back.

Healthy eating looks different for everyone because we are all unique. Here are some healthy eating meal plans you can follow. See whether or not they resonate with you.

Move Your Body

Have fun with movement! As with healthy eating, exercise needs are different from everyone. Some of us need to accelerate our heart rate (not above 140 beats per minute) for 20 minutes 4 times weekly. Some need to train for marathons. Others need gentle stretching, isometric muscle building, and relaxation.
Whatever your needs are, honor them in a way that bring you joy. When we move our bodies, we send them the message that they are useful. This is a key to longevity. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". I can support you in your journey and provide tools and education for you to heal yourself.

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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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Healthy Eating Inspiration from India

When I was traveling through Northern India, I spent as much time as possible absorbing the aromas, textures, flavors, and cooking techniques of roadside vendors and food kiosks.

It is amazing to get to watch food prepared in a way that's so connected to cultural creativity.

Try these recipes and food meditation, inspired by the healing culinary gifts of India.

Aloo Saag – Potatoes and Spinach

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into chunks

  • ½ tsp each: salt, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 2 cups spinach leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes and spices.

Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more.

Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan.

Take off the heat and serve with grilled chicken and rice.

Ghee

Ghee, or clarified butter, is unsalted butter that has been separated from its water and milk proteins. When heated, butter will separate into three layers: the casein, a frothy layer on top; the clarified butterfat--the ghee--in the middle; and the milk solids, and proteins in the bottom.

Heat 1 lb. of unsalted butter in a stainless steel stock pot. When it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low.

Fetch a small bowl and spoon.

Stay with the butter, skimming the foamy white casein that rises to the surface with the spoon.  Repeat the skimming process for about 15 minutes, or until the ghee has stopped making any bubbling sounds.

Remove from heat immediately. Strain through a fine mesh tea strainer or cheesecloth into a glass mason jar. This process removes leftover milk solids. Ghee can be used to cook for people who are lactose intolerant.

Allow it to cool completely before closing.

Ghee stores at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

Spring Greens

Now is the time to enjoy the savory, bitter, and sour flavors that prepare our bodies for spring.

Try these wonderful greens in your meals.

Broccoli

This wonderful vegetable is a favorite of kids, who tend to think it looks like little trees. It's high in fiber for digestive support. It contains B vitamins for heart health and helps the lymphatic system to cleanse itself.

Break it into florets, or 'trees', steam it for 3 minutes, and season it with pesto or lemon tahini sauce. Toss it with cooked spaghetti for a quick dinner or use it as a pizza topping once it's steamed.

It's much easier to digest when cooked, and steaming doesn't affect its health benefits.

Mustard Greens

This spicy cruciferous green is high in fiber to support elimination and vitamin K to promote healthy bones. The phytonutrients that make it so spicy are the same ones that encourage the body to cleanse and shed winter's heaviness.

Try them braised in coconut milk with garlic, ginger, and turmeric. I also like to add them to stir fried dishes. Their mild pungency decreases with cooking, so do not worry about them being too spicy for you.

Arugula

This delicious salad green is hearty and grows well in the cold spring months. It's high in vitamins A, B-6, C, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help maintain balanced mental health and detoxify the system. Arugula also contains copper and iron, which contribute to a balanced metabolism and reduction in cravings.

I like to serve it raw in salads, over grains, or tossed with cooked beans or chopped apples.

Bok Choy

This green, originally cultivated in Japan is high in omega-3s for brain function and rich in Vitamin K to strengthen bones and decrease inflammation. 

It cooks up quickly and has a nice tang. Cut heads in half lengthwise and sauté in a small amount of olive oil for 5 minutes. Dress with lemon, salt and black pepper.

Serve with white beans or white fish.

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Whole Food + Mindfulness = Health

Food For Thought

Much of the body's total digestive response to any meal starts with the mind. If we are distracted before we begin to eat, and if we are not fully aware of what and when we are eating, we are not stimulating the full beneficial digestive response.

On the contrary, mindful eating requires being fully present with our food. It's a meditation practice that brings our thoughts to the food and our experience of the food.

In Eating Mindfully, Susan Albers describes:

"Eating a mindful meal means completely focusing your mind on the 'process' of eating. You take it moment by moment and focus on the here and now. You begin by looking at the food, noting the different colors and shapes. You really see what is in front of you. You also become aware of the manner in which you reach for the spoon and fork. Food doesn't automatically end up in your mouth. Your entire body is involved in getting it there... from ingredients to atmosphere, whether appealing or appalling, both the psychological mood and the physical accessories that surround you when you eat may influence the way in which you metabolize food and in turn your health and well-being."

You can cook and eat whole food, as close to the source as possible, to reduce your risk of illnesses from the common cold to cancer. Many doctors maintain that food is the best way to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and depression.

Choose one food to be your health ally this spring. I am choosing black pepper. What about you?


Black Pepper

Although it’s known for making you sneeze, black pepper can actually help to ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound with anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce swelling in joints. Piperine also helps you absorb the benefits of other spices.Try for 2 teaspoons of both black pepper per week to boost your immunity.

By including your healthy food ally in your diet each week, you can contribute to your own long-term well-being. Remember that it takes time a commitment to notice these changes. Be patient.

Most of all, enjoy your meal!

Here is my favorite black pepper recipe.


Healthy Stir-Fried Vegetables

You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 3 carrots, rinsed and chopped into matchsticks

  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped

  • 2 zucchini, rinsed and chopped into matchsticks

  • 1 small purple cabbage, rinsed and chopped

  • 1 hanful snap peas (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (low sodium)

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin, and coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: fenugreek and cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • Juice of half a lime

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add ginger and garlic. Stir well.

Add vinegar.

Sauté on medium heat, with the lid on, for 5 minutes. Add water if anything is sticking.

Add carrots, zucchini, broccoli and cabbage in layers with carrots on the bottom, then zucchini, then cabbage on top.

Add ½ cup water, soy sauce, and spices. Do not stir. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook with lid on for 5 minutes.

Add snap peas if you have them.

Stir, increase heat to medium, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until carrots are just tender.

Squeeze lime juice over the top and mix well to incorporate.

Serve over rice with chopped hard-boiled eggs or enjoy with rice flatbread

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Heal Yourself with Home Cooking

In a world where food sometimes seems like an afterthought, we have a choice.

We can slow down and scratch one commitment from the calendar.

In this space, we can create an opportunity for finding our our deepest source of nourishment.

Cooking is an art and a practice.

The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Try it!

1. Book the time.

Commit to cooking a fresh meal at least two times a week.

2. Read through recipes.

Look at the ingredients and the preparation time to get an idea if that recipe will work for you. Peruse the Harmonized Cookery website or request a custom menu plan with recipes.

3. Prepare.

I always tell people to commit to a "grocery day" once a week, so they can stock up on lots of healthy foods. This will keep you committed to the challenge.

4. Add plant-based food whenever possible.

You don't have to give up the foods you love. Just add some fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts into your meals. This will have you feeling more energized and less likely to crave processed food.

5. Make it a group project.

Cook with your partner, friends or kids. Cooking is the perfect social activity and could inspire someone else to find joy in cooking again.

6. Make enough for lunches.

The great thing about cooking at home is you can use any leftovers for lunches through the week. This will eliminate some of those fast food lunches and save you money.

7. Set the table.

You took the time to cook yourself a delicious meal, instead of eating it in front of the TV, why not sit at the kitchen table and savor the food you made. It might seem silly, but eating at the dinner table once in a while is a really nice way to catch up with loved ones.

If you try this challenge, it may help to use a journal to keep track of how you're feeling.

What do you notice?

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Joy, challenge, questions, satisfaction?

Have fun with it!

Going on Vacation? Food for Healthy Travel

When winter starts feeling long in the Northeast, those who have the privilege might choose to travel south and warm their bones, joints, and connective tissue.

If you cannot travel this winter, here are some tips to improve flexibility and circulation from the inside out.

Soak your feet.

Just take a storage container or tub, fill it with hot water, table salt, and 2 or 3 peppermint tea bags. Let your feet and ankles soak in the hot water until it cools down - about 10 minutes.

Breathe deeply. Try this mindful peace breath if you like

.Then, pat feet dry and rub them with coconut oil or sunflower oil.

Drink ginger tea.

Ginger tea improves circulation and uplifts mood by supporting healthy digestion. When digestion is not healthy, mood suffers.

Make a smoothie.

Fruit can bring joy to the moment and give our cells a burst of the plant nutrients that are under blankets of snow right now.

Here is a simple recipe:

  • 1 cup organic plain yogurt (cow, almond, or coconut)

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Click this link for more smoothie recipes.

If you are lucky enough to travel, here are some ways to stay healthy!

When we go to a new place, our guts have to adjust to the foods and the environment of this place. Sometimes, the bacteria that are naturally present in one location are very different from the ones to which we are accustomed.

Eat Pre-Biotic Foods.

Especially when traveling from a cold weather climate to a warm weather one, please choose pre-biotic foods, which stimulate the growth of healthy pro-biotic bacteria in your gut. These include apples, almonds, onions, pears, and potatoes.

Choose cooked fruits and vegetables.

When eating out, choose cooked fruits and vegetables to minimize the risk of exposing yourself to water-borne parasites. If you choose to eat raw fruits and veggies at restaurants, ask staff to wash and handle them with bottled or treated water to reduce risk of exposure.

If you shop and cook at a home kitchen during your travels, wash fruits and vegetables in a colloidal solution that suspends bacteria.

Skip the ice.

Ice can often be prepared with water that's untreated. For local folks, that's no problem. Their guts are accustomed to the local bacteria. For travelers, this might cause digestive upset such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Ask for drinks prepared with treated / bottled water and no ice.

Pack an herbal toolkit.

Stock up on tinctures - medicinal herbal extracts. Find them at your local health food store or online. Choose goldenseal, sweet annie (artemisia annua), and echinacea. Take a dropper of each one of these every two hours at the onset of symptoms of infection, such as: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or extreme migraine.

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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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Winter Foods That Heal

The full moon of December is here, and snow covers every last remaining plant stalk and kale leaf in our gardens. This moon is known by indigenous people of North America as the Cold Moon, the moon of long nights, and the Winter Moon. I try to welcome winter with warming foods

Deer are browsing the crab apple branches and chickadees buzz between bee balm stalks to stay warm. I love this time of year. It is peaceful. The snow that blankets everything is a metaphor for stillness. Take ease in this time. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Even if the holiday commitments are piling up, take time to rest each day. Even if you rest for five minutes while sitting at a window or on your couch with a cup of tea, this practice invokes the stillness of the upcoming Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.

This is the stillness that rejuvenates, respects the spirit, eases the mind, and clears stress from the body. From this calm place, ask yourself what you need to be truly nourished.

I like to prepare soups, whole grains, and delightful, wholesome desserts at this time of year. My husband and I sit, light a candle, and savor carrot ginger soup. I wake up to a simple, hearty breakfast of eggs poached in greens.

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I enjoy baking simple desserts and sharing them at holiday gatherings. This way, I avoid eating lots of white flour and white sugar and having a headache and bellyache the next morning.

Try this maple gingerbread (gluten-free) to inspire your holiday baking.

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Spices for healthy holiday cooking

The early winter holidays are traditionally a gathering time. Come together with friends and family, slow down and enjoy the peaceful darkness of long evenings. As you circle around the meal table, remember that the light will return at winter solstice, December 21st.

Honor the peace that comes before the light slowly starts returning. Nourish yourself and your loved ones while staying healthy by incorporating these spices into your holiday cooking. You probably already do.

CINNAMON

During the colder months, cinnamon increases warmth and circulation and supports efficient digestion of fats and heavy foods. It counteracts the congestion that is often accompanied by dairy-rich foods.

Cinnamon also brings relief from the common cold and flu by dissolving mucus and resolving coughs and bronchial congestion. 

NUTMEG

Nutmeg is a highly prized digestive aid, commonly added to cheese sauces and creamy desserts. Enjoy it! It mediates the effects of rich food, sweets, overeating and late-night eating. Watch this short video on how to make a vegan cream sauce that mimics the flavor of dairy.

CLOVES

This potent spice comes from a beautiful beautiful tropical bush, the clove bush. It can develop into a large woody shrub. I have seen it growing in the shade of coffee trees in Indonesia. It is antimicrobial and antiseptic, particularly for the gums and teeth. Heavy holiday desserts are known to clog the sinuses and produce mucus. Cloves clear the sinuses, encourage mental clarity and clear mucus. Hence, they are a perfect addition to sweet treats as well as savory dishes.

Try these recipes to incorporate a taste of health into your meals.

COCONUT CARROT RICE PUDDING

You will need:

  • 1 can organic, full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey to finish

In a pot, bring coconut milk, rice and water to a boil.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Reduce heat to low; add carrots, vanilla, spices and raisins.

Stir well, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. The mixture will still be liquid, like a thick stew. Cook it down more if you like or try it as is.

Remove from heat, stir in honey, and serve in small bowls, perhaps with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

GET CREATIVE! Two ideas: substitute parsnips for carrots. Instead of raisins, add chopped almonds and dates.

BAKED APPLES STUFFED WITH ALMONDS AND FIGS

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped

  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 6 tart apples

  • pinch salt

  • 3 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine chopped figs, almonds and wine in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop apples in half, remove core, and place right-side up in a greased baking dish that has a lid. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Fill apples with fig almond mixture.

Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over apples, seal tightly, and bake for 1 hour. 

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you like!

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Leek, Fennel and Squash Soup

After Thanksgiving, it's a wonderful practice to simplify your diet for a week. Enjoy vegetables like fennel, celery and leeks. These potent plants cleanse the lymphatic system, support healthy lungs, and lend a bitter-sweet complexity to any dish.

Try adding bitter, liver-cleansing foods like quinoa, chard, beets and spinach. These chenopodium family plants are high in plant nutrients and help restore healthy blood and liver function.

Give these recipes a try!

LEEK, FENNEL & BUTTERNUT SOUP

You will need: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, baked and peeled

  • 2 tablespoons local oil (sunflower or olive)

  • 3 leeks, chopped and rinsed

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped – save fronds for garnish

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme, cinnamon, turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and fresh black pepper

  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  • fresh, chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Poke squash with a fork, place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 1 hour (20 minutes per pound).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large soup pot. 

Add the leeks and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped fennel, ginger, hazelnuts, spices, salt and pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes.

Remove squash from oven, cut it open and let it cool for 5 minutes. Compost the seeds. Scoop out flesh and add it to the soup pot. Add the vegetable stock and stir.

Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat. Blend until smooth. 

Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro.

Serve with cooked quinoa.

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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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Immune Soup

A food’s energetic quality is inherent to it. Cooking can modify it, but only to a certain extent.  A cooling food like fruit, even when cooked, is still relatively cooling. Ginger or cinnamon can be added to an apple to increase its warming quality, but the fruit’s original cooling effect remains.  As we prepare for winter, we can eat warm and warming foods to prevent illness and strengthen ourselves for the colder months to come.

Foods rich in protein and fat have more calories and thus are more warming. Vegetables that grow more slowly are also more warming. For example, cabbage is more warming than lettuce and root vegetables are warmer than peppers or tomatoes.

The fire element is related to heat in the body. Metabolism and circulation depend upon this stimulating quality to transform food and body chemicals into functional substances and circulate them throughout the system. Foods that are hot, both in temperature and spice level, increase metabolism and circulation.

To support healthy immunity, we must first promote healthy digestion.

To do so during the fall and winter, eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and slow-growing vegetables for protein and vital energy. Increase fats from nuts and seeds, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive and/ or sunflower oil.

Steam, bake or roast vegetables (use coconut or sunflower oil for roasting) and garnish with oil and garlic. This practice helps the body assimilate of fat soluble vitamins like A and D, which are also found in whole milk, dairy, and eggs.

Enjoy hearty meat and or bean-based stews, root dishes, and spices, whole grain porridges as winter comfort foods that are both heating and healing. 

IMMUNE SOUP

Start heating a pot of cold water on the stovetop.

Add:

  • 3 chicken legs, stew beef with bones, lamb shanks – leave meat out if you prefer

  • A handful of astragalus root and/or codonopsis root

  • A handful of fresh or dried shitake or maitake mushrooms

  • 2 inches of rinsed kombu seaweed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 carrots, chopped into quarters

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped in half

  • 1 onion, whole with peel removed

  • 1 head garlic, whole with peel removed

Cover the pot and bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until any meat falls off the bones.

Remove bones, herbs, any dried mushrooms and roots from the soup.

Now, you can add other vegetables and herbs, such as:

Aromatic vegetables like parsnips, turnips, mustard greens and leeks – these reduce congestion

Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash – these are rich in carotenoids, which support immunity and respiratory health.

Spices such as thyme, black pepper and oregano – these are anti-microbial and reduce risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection

Simmer the soup until everything is tender, then add more fresh garlic and ginger if you like. Taste for salt.

Serve with a drizzle of your favorite oil and a whole grain.

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