Beet Brownies

Beets are rich in minerals and aid in liver detoxification. As we prepare for spring, they are an excellent ingredient to include in roasted vegetable dishes, soups, and in baked goods, too. They lend an earthy sweetness to any dish.

These beautiful root vegetables come in red, pink, yellow and striated varieties. They are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. These plant nutrients provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, which support nervous system health.

Foods belonging to the chenopodium family — including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa — are also high in carotenoids, which support eyesight.

Beets are high in betaine, an essential nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. Choline reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system by preventing unwanted build-up of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound.

Here is a beet-based recipe to inspire you. I love making these for both children and adults. The beets blend so well with the chocolate that a deep, rich taste comes through and it's nearly impossible to guess what the "secret ingredient" is.

Red Velvet Brownies

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour or millet flour

  • 2 eggs or 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 cup boiled, blended beets

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or rice milk

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coarsely chop beets and place them in a pot. Cover them with water and boil for 15 minutes, or until fork tender.

Strain off water and place beets in a blender or food processor with almond/rice milk. Blend well.

Add all other ingredients and blend well.

Oil a glass baking dish or pie plate with coconut or sunflower oil.

Pour batter into it and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

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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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Coconut Almond Cake With Blueberry Lemon Glaze

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Summer is here! Berries are one of my favorite aspects of summer cooking and eating. They are so high in healing plant compounds, low on the glycemic index, and naturally sweet. I take every opportunity to savor them during their short season. This recipe features blueberries, which are high in phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. They lower triglycerides and protect cells and blood vessels in the heart. Blueberries improve memory, support the nervous system, and balance blood sugar. Try to eat 1 cup of blueberries daily to reap their health benefits.

Coconut Almond Cake

This cake is gluten-free, grain-free, and high in protein. 

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup milk of any kind

  • 4 eggs, beaten

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt coconut oil in a 9x9 cake pan in the oven.

Mix all the ingredients together in the order listed. Pour the melted coconut oil into the bowl and mix well. Pour batter into cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Blueberry Lemon Glaze

This is truly the icing on the cake!

You will need:

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch of salt

  • zest of 1 lemon

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan and simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool slightly before pouring it over the cake. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. It's even more delicious the next day after the glaze soaks into the cake.

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.

Green Drink to Boost Mood and Energy

As we head into the holidays, it's good to slow down and take care. Food is a wonderful way to soothe the spirit and keep the body healthy. 

When the sun sets earlier in the afternoon and we need energy to make it through the rest of the day, anti-inflammatory spices and energizing berries and vegetables can lend that energy.

Try this drink to support you during and afternoon slump and boost your immunity, too!

Green Drink

In a food processor, blend these ingredients well:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley

  • 1⁄2 cup frozen blueberries

  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon

  • 1 inch of of fresh ginger root, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk

Drink this beverage when you are feeling tired or cravings sweets / carbohydrates in the mid-afternoon. This kind of drink tends to slow down digestion in the morning, but provides a great afternoon energy boost. 

I like to heat it gently after I blend it to have a warm, soothing drink. You can make a double batch and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Blueberries: strengthen immunity and enhance overall health with power-packed antioxidants; support brain function and offer acid-alkaline balance in intestines. 

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms.

Parsley: Rich in Vitamin C to decrease inflammation, beta carotene to help prevent infection and strengthen immunity, and folic acid (B vitamin) to support cardiovascular health. Contains volatile oils that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens as well as ease the burn of insect bites and stings.

Spinach: high in fiber to support healthy digestion and intestinal flora, iron for energy and healthy immune response, and folic acid for heart health.

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Cabbage Recipes

Why cabbage? It is a healthy and inexpensive vegetable that’s in season in the fall and winter. It contains polyphenols, cancer-preventive plant nutrients. It’s packed with Vitamins A & C to boost immunity. It helps reduce inflammation and heal stomach ulcers.

Purple Cabbage Soup

You will need:

  • 1 head purple cabbage

  • 1 rutabega

  • 2 yellow onions

  • 3 tablespoons olive, grapeseed or sunflower oil

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander

  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop onions into thin crescent moons.

Heat oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add mustard and spices and simmer for 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile, chop rutabega and turnips into small chunks. Chop 1 medium red cabbage into threads, removing the hard inner core.

Add vegetables to the pot and add enough water to cover vegetables. Bring both to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook with the lid on until vegetables are soft.

Purée with a blender or immersion blender.

Enjoy with a dollop of unsweetened yogurt or sour cream.

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Comforting Cabbage and Noodles

This is adapted from a traditional Slovakian recipe, Haluski.

You will need:

  • 1 package wide egg noodles or gluten-free noodles

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 yellow onion

  • ½ head green cabbage, chopped (about 5 cups)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions (boil until tender) and then drain in a colander.

While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice the onion. Remove any dirty or damaged outer leaves of the cabbage.

Cut the cabbage into wedges, remove the core, then slice thinly.

After draining the noodles, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the sliced onions to the pot used to cook the noodles. Sauté the onions over medium heat just until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is tender (5-7 minutes).

Return the drained noodles to the pot with the cabbage and onion. Add the remaining butter and stir until the butter is melted and everything is evenly coated. Season the cabbage and noodles liberally with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve warm.

You can scramble an egg and serve that over it to add protein to your meal!

Savory Cabbage Fritters

This is adapted from a traditional Japanese recipe, Okonomiyaki.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4-5 cups shredded green cabbage

  • 1 carrot

  • 3 green onions

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce or sriracha

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Thinly slice the cabbage until you have 4-5 cups.

Peel the carrot and shred it using a large-holed cheese grater.

Slice the green onions.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth. Begin whisking in the flour, ¼ cup at a time, until it forms a thick, smooth batter.

Add the cabbage, carrots, and green onion to the batter and stir until the vegetables are mixed and everything is evenly coated in batter.

Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add ¾ cup of the vegetable and batter mixture. Press it down into the hot skillet to form a circle, about 6 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place a cover on the skillet to hold in the steam, which will help the cabbage soften as it cooks.

Cook the pancake until golden brown on the bottom (about 5 minutes), then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side.

Pile the cooked pancakes on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm until ready to eat. Add more oil to the skillet as needed as you cook the pancakes.

To prepare the spicy mayo, mix together the mayo and hot sauce. Drizzle over each pancake just before serving.

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Get Your B Vitamins!

Many kinds of B vitamins are important to human health: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Each of the B vitamins has a unique and essential function:

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate: red blood cell production and nervous system health

Biotin and pantothenic acid: healthy metabolism

Niacin and thiamin: cardiovascular health and energy production

Riboflavin: production of skin cells, nails, and hair

The B vitamins are necessary cofactors in an essential cellular process called the methylation cycle. In this cycle, all three B vitamins are used to convert a potentially damaging molecule called homocysteine into the useful amino acid cysteine. When levels of these B vitamins are low, blood levels of homocysteine rise—a situation that has been shown in numerous studies to significantly increase the risk for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Luckily, homocysteine levels can be kept in balance by eating a diet high in the following foods.

Whole Grains (high in B6 and B12): brown rice, oats, kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

Vegetables (high in folate): spinach (also contains B6), parsley, broccoli (also contains niacin & riboflavin), kale (also contains niacin & riboflavin), beets, turnip and mustard greens (also contain B6), asparagus, romaine lettuce, bell peppers (also contain B6)

Fruit (high in B6): banana, mango, avocado (also contains pantothenic acid)

Legumes (high in folate and niacin): all lentils, green peas

Nuts / Seeds (high in B6, B12, folate and niacin): almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds

Animal Protein (high in folate, B6 and B12): beef, chicken / beef liver (also contains biotin), chicken (also contains niacin & riboflavin), pastured eggs (also contain biotin, niacin & riboflavin), wild salmon (also contains riboflavin)

Be sure to include food sources of B vitamins all year round! Some of us may need supplementation of specific B vitamins. If you would like to learn about ways to tailor your dietary needs to your personal constitution, please schedule a nutritional consultation here.

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Candida Muffins

As a breastfeeding mother of an infant of almost 2 months, I have been through many of the trials of what can occur during the early stages. After having a bacterial infection, mastitis, my breasts also developed a secondary fungal infection: candida. I have been working to clear it from my system for over three weeks.

For many years, I have been helping clients with chronic overgrowth of candida albicans yeast. Now, I'm truly starting to understand how difficult it can be to restore balance once the system is out of alignment.

Candida albicans is a yeast that lives naturally in small quantities in our digestive tract. However, like any beneficial microorganism, when it grows out of proportion and over-colonizes the digestive tract, it can create problems in the body. Systemic candida can include nail and toe nail fungus, digestive distress, cramping, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and a host of additional issues, including eczema and other skin rashes.

The best way to help the body return to balance is to eat pre-biotic foods, like onions and whole, gluten-free grains. These nourish beneficial probiotic bacteria as well as being part of a diet that does not allow the yeast to flourish. Yeast thrives on sugar dairy products and refined carbohydrates. These are the ingredients to avoid.

To reduce candida overgrowth, focus on eating vegetables, non-glutinous whole grains, animal protein, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats that are also antifungal - like coconut oil and olive oil. In addition, taking a probiotic like Mega Foods' Megaflora can be extremely helpful.

Because I love to bake creative treats, I decided to take all of the most healthful ingredients that also tastes the sweetest and combine them to make a cookie that still fits the parameters of the candida cleanse. I hope you will enjoy this recipe! My husband drizzles cookies with maple syrup for a sweeter treat.

Cinnamon is extremely powerful at stopping the overgrowth of candida yeast. Coconut helps with this process as well and is also pre-biotic due to its high fiber content. Berries are the only allowable fruit on this diet, so I decided to include those, too!

Blueberry Coconut Muffins - Unsweetened!

You will need:

  • 11/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, forked out into small chunks

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

  • A pinch of salt

  • 2 cups almond milk

*For a sweeter treat, add 1/4 cup honey and 1 extra tablespoon of coconut flour to compensate for the extra liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal and shredded coconut together. Add cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Mix again.

Add the coconut oil and mix well so that small, pearl-sized pieces are evenly coated with the flour throughout the batter. Add the berries and mix again. Finally, mix, add the almond milk and mix one more time.

Oil muffin tins with sunflower oil. Fill each tin three quarters of the way.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Let me know what you think!

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Healthy Eating Guide and Recipes

As the days grow shorter and we spend more time inside, it's important to focus on healthy eating as preventive care. This is also a great time to enjoy

foods that promote mental health

. Here are some healthy eating guidelines to keep in mind.

Healthy Eating Guidelines

Eat 90% of your food to nourish your body and 10% just for fun. Your eating doesn't have to be perfect, just look for progress!

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat between 9 and 12 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and important phytonutrients such as carotenoids and bioflavonoids that protect us from cancer, heart disease, and most other chronic degenerative illnesses. Fruits and vegetables also provide us with fiber.

Choose organic and/or local foods whenever possible. The average American eats a pound pesticides each year, which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Organic and pesticide-free foods have higher levels of nutrients because organic farmers pay more attention to their animals' health and to their soils. Also, the mineral levels in local and organic food are twice as high, on average, as commercially grown foods.

Try to eat foods that are in season. They usually have the highest nutrient content and the greatest enzyme activity. Eat foods that will spoil. This insures that the food still has life in it. Packaged foods lack this nutrient-rich vitality.

Increase high-fiber foods if you can tolerate them. Try to consume 20-30 grams of fiber daily. Richest sources are whole grains (brown rice, bulghur, millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, quinoa), legumes, vegetables and fruits. Fiber protects our colon health, and reduces our risk or colon and breast cancer. Try these high fiber recipes.

Eat high quality fats. Fats found in avocados, fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines), nuts and seeds, organic coconut oil and olive oil all provide essential fatty acids. These crucial nutrients reduce inflammation, calm the nervous system, and improve joint motility. 

Eat breakfast! This practice jump-starts your metabolism so you feel more energized, digest better, and use your calories for energy instead of storing them as fat. Find easy breakfast recipes here and here

Follow my healthy eating program. Treat yourself or a loved one to two weeks of clean eating with recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and nutritional recommendations tailored to your dietary needs and health goals. For $39, I will help you develop healthy cooking and eating habits to last a lifetime.

Learn more here.

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Freezable Meals

I so appreciate all who comment on these posts and make requests for more. Your feedback lets me know that this information is useful and allows me to learn how I can best be of service to you.

Thank you!

Based on requests, here are ideas for meals you can prepare in advance and freeze to have on hand in a pinch. Because we are pregnant, I am starting to freeze meals for the time after the birth. Whether or not you are expecting, this practice is a great way to incorporate healthy food into your diet no matter the circumstances.

Holiday time often gets full, and there's not always time to cook whole grains, mineral-rich vegetables, and nourishing proteins. By preparing this dishes ahead of time and enjoying them during the holidays, you will feel better, help ward off the cold and flu, and enjoy your down time more.

To start, get all the ingredients for two or three of these dishes. Have enough containers to store all the food in the freezer. Set aside two hours of time where you will not be interrupted, Invite a friend or a family member to cook with you if you like. Put on music and make it fun!

When you freeze, make appropriate portions. If a meal serves four and there are two of you, split it into two containers. Fill containers three quarters full so that they have room to expand once they freeze. Once you are done, label containers with the contents and date. I like using masking tape and a permanent marker.

Remember to make a list of what's in the freezer and tack it onto the fridge. This way, you will remember to eat these healthy delights! The night before you wan to eat them, remove from freezer and place in the fridge to thaw.

Chicken and Quinoa Soup

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 leek, chopped

  • 1 pound free-range chicken, with bones

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 cups chard or kale, chopped

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

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté onion and leek for 15 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown. Splash with apple cider vinegar.

Add the chicken and sauté on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

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

Cool and store in portion-sized containers. This soup is a complete meal and serves four. 

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Chicken Breasts Baked in Rosemary Lemon Sauce

You will need:

  • 6 medium chicken breasts with skin

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup almond or cow milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place chicken in an oiled baking dish.

Whisk all ingredients together. Pour over chicken.

Bake skin side up 25- 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Freeze with wild rice pilaf in labeled, portion-sized containers.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Onions, Almonds and Peas

You will need:

  • 1 cup wild rice blend

  • 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon brown mustard

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups peas, fresh or frozen

  • ½ cup organic almonds

Cook rice in 5 cups water or stock. Add a pinch of salt as rice cooks.

Meanwhile, chop onion and cook in olive oil in a deep skillet. Add water to prevent sticking. Add salt, pepper, coriander and mustard. Stir well, close with a lid, and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes, or until golden. Once rice is cooked and onion is golden, mix them together. Add peas and almonds. Stir well to incorporate. 

Freeze with chicken breasts.

Aloo Saag - India-Inspired Potatoes and Spinach

You will need:

  • 4 medium white or red potatoes, boiled until just fork tender

  • 2 teaspoons coriander

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 5 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, roughly chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Boil the potatoes whole. Run them under cold water once they are cooked. Then, cut the potatoes into small wedges.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry until they are golden brown, gently stirring often, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, until each handful is slightly wilted.

Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, stir in the salt and cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid from the spinach has evaporated.

Serve with red lentils but freeze separately.

Red Lentils in a Spiced Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 cups cooked red lentils

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1 bunch kale or collards, chopped

  • 1/3 cup olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin and coriander powders

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • Salt to taste

Bring lentils to a boil with 4 cups water. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and then cook for 30 minutes, or until they are reduced to a soft paste.

Meanwhile, chop onions. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes. Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes. Add lime juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop greens and ginger. Add to skillet. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom. Add the cooked red lentils and ½ cup water. Cover and cook for ½ hour more. 

Freeze separately from aloo saag. Reheat separately and serve together.

Healthy Fats for Well-Being

Did you know that fat doesn't make you fat?

Weight gain occurs when we eat hydrogenated fats or consume carbohydrates without fat. Fats are crucial nutrients that provide up to 10 kilocalories per gram of energy, compared with four kilocalories per gram from carbohydrates and proteins. Fats are not taken up directly by any tissue, but must be hydrolyzed outside the cell first.

When metabolizing fats, the body must use energy, primarily from carbohydrates, to produce energy. One of our essential digestive enzymes, lipase, breaks down fat and helps us use it as energy. Lipases are produced in the pancreas and help digest and transport fats throughout the systems of most living organisms. Fats come from food, adipocytes (fat cells), and some amino acids. Lipolysis, or fat breakdown, occurs in the mitochondria. Next, lipogenesis, or fat synthesis, takes place the liver, adipose tissue, and intestinal mucosa. The fatty acids derived from this process are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates and using them as energy.

When we support our pacreatic enzyme production by eating whole grains instead of processed ones (bread, chips, baked goods) and consuming high quality fats, we also help our bodies use fat for energy and neuro-endocrine balance. Fat maintains cell regulatory signals (essential to combating auto-immune conditions), supple skin, balanced hormonal function, and healthy nervous system response. Without the presence of fat in the system, the body stores carbohydrates as fat because it does not know when it will next gain this essential nutrient.

Healthy fats are essential to our mental, immune, and digestive health. They are also anti-inflammatory and aid in soft tissue recovery. Here are some of the health benefits of high quality, cold-pressed organic fats.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temperature, first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Try these recipes using olive oil.

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Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Try these recipes using sunflower oil.

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Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.

Try these recipes using coconut oil.

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Most of all, take time out to prepare healing food. Rest easy in the knowledge that you are preparing your body, mind and spirit for winter with food as medicine.

Zucchini!

By popular demand, here is a compendium of zucchini recipes to fulfill the summer abundance of this

amazing food.

When I have too much zucchini, I shred it, put it in freezer bags, and freeze it for winter soups and breads.

Zucchini is a member of the cucurbitaceae family (along with pumpkins, melons, and summer squash). It provides a very good amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup); rich in pectin fibers to help regulate blood sugar; reduces inflammation in the cardio-vascular system and gastro-intestinal tract; rich in B vitamins.

Savory Zucchini Cakes

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, coriander, salt

  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded

  • 3 Tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 minced garlic clove

  • ½ cup cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a cookie sheet with olive or sunflower oil.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.

With a soup spoon, scoop out cakes and place them cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip with spatula, bake for 15 more minutes, and savor the results. Try these with quinoa pilaf

.

Grain-Free Zucchini Blueberry Bread

You will need:

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini

  • 1/2 cup blueberries

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 4 tablespoons coconut flour

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

This is great for breakfast topped with poached eggs or almond butter.

Classic Zucchini Walnut Bread

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Delicious. Freezes well.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a cake pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

These make great cupcakes, too! Just place the batter in muffin tins instead of a cake pan. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes instead.

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Foods For Mental Health

At some point in our lives, most of us experience anxiety and / or depression. Here are some foods that can help soothe those responses and bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit.

Herbs and Spices

Chamomile Tea

Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea helps decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks. Drink a cup after dinner. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if you like.

Dark Chocolate

It’s true! The Journal of Psychopharmacology has published a study revealing that people who eat about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (75% or more) per day, feel more calm than those who do not. Just be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine. Be sure to eat it before 3 p.m. to avoid it affecting your sleep.

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Turmeric

Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuro-protective quality and help enhance your mood. These antioxidants are an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. Cook with turmeric powder when you can and take a supplement to support your dietary intake.



Whole Grains

Oats

Oats are high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. They ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.

Brown Rice

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.



High Quality Meat and Fermented Dairy

Full-Fat Kefir & Yogurt

The gut is considered the "second brain" because it's home to 95% of your "feel good" hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, a healthy gut helps manage stress and reduce depression and anxiety. Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry. Kefir, an fermented dairy drink much like liquid yogurt, is a powerful pro-biotic, which contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K for brain health. If you prefer yogurt, choose the full-fat, unsweetened kind (I like Butter Works Farm or Brown Cow Brand). Add maple syrup and home-made granola for a delicious breakfast.

Turkey

This delicious meat is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat has been proven to reduce anxiety. Choose antibiotic-free turkey whenever possible.

Grass-Fed Organ Meats

If you eat meat, grass-fed, organic organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients (like zinc and Vitamin D) needed to reduce anxiety. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for balancing the hormones that regulate mood. Cook chicken or beef liver with onions and purée it in the blender to make a delicious spread.



Vegetables

Asparagus

This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to neurotransmitter impairment and cause anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.

Avocados

These fruits are wonderful for maintaining balanced brain health, thus reducing the stress that leads to anxiety and depression. They contain potassium, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich in beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the nervous system. 

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Leafy Greens

Those who feel stress and anxiety can increase intake of dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens. These plant foods are rich in magnesium, which helps us relax. It also regulates the connection between the brain and endocrine system so that we go out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into relaxation mode.


Fats

Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia and flax seeds, and winter squash can also help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.


Coconut Avocado Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch salt

  • ½ can unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 avocado

Blend well and enjoy!


Vegetable Walnut Cobbler

For the cobbler:

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped

  • 1 packed cups of fresh spinach

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • For the topping:

  • 2 cups quick oats

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, and paprika

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 5 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 1 cup milk of your choosing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes Add spinach, turn off heat, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

Bake the vegetables for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.

For the topping, mix all ingredients together except butter / oil.

Cut butter / oil into chunks in the mixture and gently fold together.

Add milk, mix briefly to incorporate, and set aside.

Remove vegetables from oven, top with clumps of topping mixture, and bake for 20 minutes more.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

GET CREATIVE: Use collards and sweet potatoes instead of spinach and zucchini.

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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Juice for Renewal

As November makes its way to the new moon, you can renew your body, mind, and spirit by enjoying nutrient-dense juices. These blends will awaken your senses each morning and help cleanse your internal organs after savoring the rich foods of holiday feasts.

If you do not already have a juicer, click this link to view Williams-Sonoma's options for purchasing your own juicer.

Whole foods are rich in fiber, which can ease constipation by building bulk in the stool. Fiber also helps starches to metabolize more slowly so that blood sugar remains stable. When juicing, we remove the fiber from food and concentrate its nutrients, which can cause blood sugar spikes. 

In addition, because we do not have to chew juice, saliva's digestive secretions are reduced. Hence, I like to pair juice with a protein-packed popover or a home-made banana almond bar for optimal digestion and balanced energy.

Regardless, drink small glasses (8 ounces or less) of juice and see how your stomach tolerates it. The more green foods you put in your juice, the more your blood and skin will glow. Ginger and carrots in juice will heal the digestive system and increase pancreatic secretions.

Try these recipes and see what you think!

REVIVE + DIGEST

Ginger is a digestive aid, which stimulates digestive secretions, increases the amylase concentration in saliva, and facilitates the digestion of starches and fatty foods. It stimulates the immune response and reduces inflammation and anxiety. Use smaller amounts if you have excessive heartburn or an ulcer.

You will need:

  • 2 inches of fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 grapefruits, peeled and chopped

  • 2 green apples, chopped

  • 1 packed cup of fresh spinach

  • pinch salt

  • 3 cups water

Place all ingredients in the order listed in a blender. Blend well until everything is completely liquefied - about 1 minute.

As long as the ginger is organic, please blend it with the peel, which is rich in nutrients.

This juice keeps in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. Shake before drinking.

Enjoy it with a glass with a whole grain breakfast such as amaranth flatbread

.

LIVER LOVE

Beets cleanse the liver and flood the cells with iron. They provide the most concentrated source of phytonutrients called betalains, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Beets' high betaine content lowers the presence of inflammatory markers in the system. These powerful roots are a wonderful winter food.

You will need:

  • 1 packed cup beet greens

  • 1 beet, washed and chopped

  • 3 stalks celery

  • 2 inches fresh ginger root

Put all ingredients through a juicer* and store in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. Enjoy a glass either in the morning or before bed. It will help to rejuvenate the internal organs and encourage effective metabolism.

To re-invent the vegetable pulp that's leftover after juicing, try this vegetable bread recipe.

BLOOD BUILDER

Carrots are high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity. They are rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity and cleanse the blood. Carrots also offer a healthy dose of B vitamins to reduce stress.

You will need:

  • 1 beet, washed and chopped

  • 2 carrots, washed and chopped

  • 1 green apple, chopped

  • 2 handfuls fresh parsley

Put all ingredients through a juicer*. This juice stores well in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. It makes for an uplifting afternoon tonic. Drink a glass at work if you are feeling lethargic during the waning daylight hours. 

*If you would like to make this juice without a juicer, just grate the beet, carrots, and apple to shred them. Then, place them in a blender with the parsley and 2 cups of water. Blend well for 1 minute, or until the mixture is uniformly liquid.

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Healing Bowl of Delight

To celebrate the arrival of darker evenings, I am cooking with more root vegetables, warming spices, and foods to balance mental health.

Try this recipe to delight your senses and soothe your soul. It's a great way to cleanse after a day of rich, Thanksgiving-style eating.

BOUNTIFUL BOWL OF DELIGHT

This healing meal is comprised of three parts: pickled cabbage slaw, ginger tahini sauce, and vegetable legume pilaf.

PICKLED CABBAGE SLAW

You will need:

  • Half a head of red or green cabbage, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon raw honey

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, fenugreek and cinnamon

GARLIC, GINGER + TAHINI SAUCE

You will need:

  • ¼ cup tahini

  • ¼ cup water

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon salt or tamari

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • ½ teaspoon freshly chopped ginger root

  • ½ teaspoon freshly chopped garlic

VEGETABLE + LEGUME PILAF

You will need:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 bunch (2 packed cups) of kale, chard, collards or spinach, roughly chopped

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, millet, kasha, or quinoa – cooked with wakame seaweed

  • 2 cups cooked beans (I like adzuki or kidney beans)*

  • 1 teaspoon dry rosemary leaf powder

  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Make the pickled cabbage a day in advance. Place the red or green cabbage in a large jar or airtight container. In a large measuring cup, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, honey and salt. Pour the liquid over the red cabbage and press the cabbage down so that it is fully covered. Cover the jar/container and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To prepare the tahini sauce, combine all ingredients in a cup or small bowl and whisk well. Chill until ready to use.

Cook grains in twice as much water. Add seaweed halfway through cooking. Salt grains with about 1 teaspoon of salt per 2 cups of dry grains.

*If you are using dry beans, soak overnight and cook in three times as much water with more seaweed. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and discard it. Once beans are soft, rinse them well. Season them with rosemary, salt, and olive oil. Set them aside.

To cook the sweet potato, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the sweet potatoes out on the sheet. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with a spatula until fully coated. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, tossing them with a spatula after 15 minutes.

For the greens, fill a large shallow sauce pan or medium pot with about 1 to 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and fill the basket with the chopped greens. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high. Once the water begins to boil, or after about 4 to 5 minutes, remove the kale from the basket and set aside.

In 2 bowls, divide the cooked grains, legumes, and sweet potato. Add a generous serving of greens. Top with slices of avocado and pickled cabbage. Drizzle the sauce over the top 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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Chicken and White Bean Stew

As Autumn Equinox comes near, I am gathering the abundance of the harvest and making basil and nettle pesto, elderberry syrup, tomato sauce, and blanched vegetables for the freezer.

The evenings are almost frosting and the mornings are misty and cool.

It feels like time for some warming, comforting 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.

CHICKEN AND WHITE BEAN STEW

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 1/4 pound free-range chicken, boneless (omit for vegetarians)

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups purple cabbage, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander and cumin

  • ½ teaspoon each: oregano, chili flakes, and salt

  • 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed, or 4 cups

  • cooked canellini beans

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • Parmesan cheese as garnish if desired

In a soup pot, saute onions for 15 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown.

Splash with apple cider vinegar.

Add the chicken and saute on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, and spices. Stir well.

Add the other ingredients (except the cheese) and bring to a boil.

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

Garnish with Parmesan if you like.

Enjoy with sourdough bread or your favorite whole grain.

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Pear, Brussels Sprout, and Fig Salad

September is here, the full moon is just past, and everything in the garden is finding its peak ripeness.

Start reveling in the culinary delicacies of fall.

PEAR, BEET + FIG SALAD

You will need:

  • 2 pears, chopped

  • 2 cups Brussels sproouts

  • 6 fresh figs (or 3 dried figs), cut into small pieces

  • 1/4 cup organic hazelnuts or almonds, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons of your best olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse Brussels sprouts, chop in half, and toss with salt and olive oil. Arrange on a cookie sheet so that they are not touching. Roast for 20 minutes.

Place in a large serving bowl.

Chop pears and figs.

Add them to the sprouts and mix gently.

Add figs and nuts, toss with olive, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

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