Metabolism-Boosting Meal Plan

Here on the homestead, winter tends to find us slowing down, eating rich, nourishing foods, and enjoying a more relaxed pace. As necessary as this shift is, it can lead to a more sluggish metabolism. We like to take one day a week to enjoy this cleansing, metabolism-boosting meal plan as a way of pressing the reset button on our eating and boosting our energy.

It's a great thing to try in honor of the full moon today, which is known by indigenous peoples of this land as the Wolf Moon. Howl at the moon, stimulate metabolic activity and restore your energy with these recipes.

All these spices boost the metabolism, support healthy digestion, and/or ward off the cold and flu. Many of the ingredients in these recipes also support healthy metabolic activity. You can learn more by exploring the culinary pharmacy here.

 

Breakfast

Coconut Chia Blueberry Pudding

You will need:

  • 1 cup full fat organic coconut milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/3 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped

Combine coconut milk, water, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 2 -3 minutes.

Add chia seeds, almonds and blueberries and mix well. Let stand for 5 minutes before eating.

Lunch

Spiced Cauliflower Quinoa and Greens

For the roasted cauliflower:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric and coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon and nutmeg

For the quinoa with greens:

  • 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil or olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, chile flakes, cinnamon, and cumin

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 4 cups kale

Roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 425. Toss the cauliflower florets with coconut oil and spices. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden on the edges.

Cook the quinoa: In a large pot with a lid, warm the coconut oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and ginger and cook about 5 minutes. Add spices and stir. Add water and quinoa.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.

Chop kale and add it to the pot. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from heat.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the salt and vinegar. Divide the quinoa into bowls.

Top with roasted cauliflower.

Dinner

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf

You will need:

  • 1 cup brown & wild rice blend

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 8 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon each: sage, thyme, oregano and salt

  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Combine the rice and vegetable broth in a large saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover for 35-40 minutes, cooking until the broth is completely absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, melt the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the onion and celery until tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, mushrooms, sage, thyme, and salt, and sauté another 8 to 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

Combine the cooked rice and mushroom mixture, and stir in the pecans. Adjust any seasoning to taste, and serve warm.

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Salad Summer

Summer is a wonderful time to combine fresh ingredients and minimal cooking effort to create a delicious meal. Try these salad recipes to nourish and inspire you.

Arugula, Potato and Green Bean Salad

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup walnuts

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, chopped

  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 packed cups arugula

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a colander to drain and cool. Set aside.

Return pan of water to a boil. Add green beans, and cook until tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the colander with the potatoes.

Whisk together vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; season with pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Set dressing aside.

Arrange arugula, potatoes, and green beans on a platter. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts; toss to coat.

Parsley Cilantro Chickpea Salad

For the salad:

  • 2 cups cooked chick peas OR one 14 ounce can chickpeas. drained

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons each: salt, black pepper, allspice, cumin, and cardamon

  • 5 packed cups of salad greens

  • 2 cups cucumbers, diced (about 1 cucumber)

  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced (about 3 medium tomatoes)

  • 1/3 cup each of fresh cilantro and Italian parsley. chopped

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

Cook and drain the chickpeas. If cooking dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and boil them in water for 2 hours until tender.

Place them in a skillet with olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, cumin and cardamom. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes. 

Chop cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and cilantro.

Wash and drain salad greens.

Remove chickpeas heat and place them in a serving bowl with all the other salad ingredients.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad, toss well, and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour.

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Making Time To Cook

As Spring finds us with its fat buds ready to burst into fragrant flowers, I look ahead to the long days of Summer. Here on our homestead in Vermont, we revel in the warm months and take time work in the garden, walk in the woods, and sit outside to soak in the lingering evenings.

Summer will also bring a heightened pace of life. With so many daylight hours, the temptation can be to stay busy for the majority of the day! Now is the time to prepare the body, mind and spirit for this brilliant, abundant, and sometimes tiring time of year.

Spring brings the gift of rejuvenation, new life, and the opportunity to prepare for Summer. Start the season with a weekly meal plan, which allows you and your loved ones to keep eating whole, simple foods that are nourishing and delicious.

You can try creating a meal plan with friends or family.

Sit down together, perhaps after a shared meal, and talk about your favorite dishes.

Meal ideas

  • Taco Night

  • Casserole

  • Soup, Bread, and Salad

  • Pasta Night

  • Pizza

  • Breakfast for Dinner

It's easy to make these meals healthy and delicious! Just be sure to add plenty of vegetables to your sauces and soups. I made the pizza pictures her with an oat crust, pesto sauce, and toppings of steamed broccolini, walnuts, cooked white beans and a little Parmigiano cheese.

Savor your meals with inspiring spice blends, sauce and spreads to bring forward tons of flavor. Allow each person to mix and match the components of each meal so that everyone enjoys it.

Here are other options to inspire you. Click each link to learn more.

Be well and enjoy the art of cooking!

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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!

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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