Summer Salads and Dressings

Summer is a time of heightened activity, longer days. It's also an opportunity to slow down, nourish ourselves, soak up the sun, and prepare for winter. The more we relax and reduce stress in the summer, the healthier we will remain during the colder months. Try these recipes to strengthen digestion and promote relaxation.

Lemon Garlic Dressing

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Drizzle over salad. Serves 8.

GET CREATIVE! Add ¼ cup freshly chopped dill.

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Red Wine Vinaigrette

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Drizzle over salad. Serves 8.

GET CREATIVE! Add ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Drizzle over salad. Serves 8.

GET CREATIVE! Add ¼ cup freshly chopped basil.

Kohlrabi Potato Salad

Kohlrabi is extremely high in protein for a vegetable! It's a digestive aid as well. Enjoy it.

You will need:

  • 1 pound potatoes or any kind
  • ½ pound kohlrabi
  • ¼ cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped dill
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • one batch of lemon garlic salad dressing (see recipe above)

Steam or boil potatoes and kohlrabi in until tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain and place in a serving bowl. Toss with spinach, dill, mustard and salad dressing. 

Serve warm or at room temperature.

GET CREATIVE! Add ¼ cup sunflower seeds.

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Corn Salad

Please choose non-GMO corn whenever possible.

You will need:

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • 3 ears corn, husks and silks discarded, kernels sliced from cobs and reserved
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Whisk vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; set aside.

Bring a 2 quart saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook until bright green and tender, 1–2 minutes.

Drain and add to bowl along with remaining ingredients; toss to combine.

Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.

GET CREATIVE! Add ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese.

Kitchen Essentials

I love my chef's knife. It's a Chicago Cutlery knife -  not an expensive brand - that was passed down

to me by my parents about a decade ago. I chop almost everything with my chef's knife: from onions to apples.

The key to enjoying your kitchen knives is to sharpen them regularly. This is a very quick and simple task, which will make your food preparation much easier. It's not worth the work to struggle with poor quality, dull knives! You will enjoy cooking much more when you have a good, sharp knife.

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To choose a chef's knife: make sure that the metal blade goes all the way through to the end of the handle. This will ensure that the knife lasts and has good leverage without bending its blade.

To choose a sharpener: go to your local hardware store and ask for a simple kitchen knife sharpener.

Mine is small and yellow

. It has criss-crossed ceramic edges that sharpen knives quickly and easily.

Now that you have a nice knife and a good sharpener, enjoy preparing food! When you return from food shopping, chop up a few days' worth of vegetables and store them in the fridge.

I like to make cubes of sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and potatoes. I use these either for roasting or for

soups

.

I chop kale, collards and chard for sautes or soups. I add chopped onions to add to almost anything, from

pot pie

to

frittata

.

Regardless of how you prepare food, please set aside time to cook and enjoy your meal!

Listen To Your Body

We are constantly receiving internal messages from our body about which foods are best for us at any given time. However, we are also surrounded by an external culture that judges some foods as "good" or "bad". As we try to tap into the body's intuition so we can hear these messages, it's important to drop the external value system that second-guesses them.

For example, if you are starting to feel under the weather, you might crave spicy food. This is the body's internal message. It's communicating with you, and its message makes sense. The capsicum family of plants (black pepper, cayenne, sweet peppers, chiles) stimulates capillary action and supports detoxification. 

But you may have read that too much spicy food can aggravate your liver or cause an ulcer, so you steer away from it. This external information blocks the body's intuition and you are more likely to catch a cold.

This example elucidates the importance of giving up black-and-white thinking. Embrace the fact that healthy eating is flexible and can include a wide variety of foods. Sometimes the healthier choice may be the choice that's seemingly more indulgent.

Which would be a healthier choice: cake or salad? The salad is only healthier if that’s what you really want. Otherwise, you might feel deprived and end up overeating later. Enjoying cake mindfully acknowledges that food is not only a way to nourish ourselves but is also a way to celebrate. We might end up eating both salad and cake and feel much more satisfied.

To practice listening to your body, sit down and tune in before you go to the kitchen and open the refrigerator.

Close the eyes or gaze at the floor.

Take a deep breath in for 4 counts.

Hold the breath for 4 counts.

Breathe out for 6 counts.

This cycle relaxes the nervous system and allows us to become more grounded and centered in our bodies.

Now, pay attention to how you are feeling. Can you name an emotion or a sensation? 

Are you tired, overwhelmed, excited, rushed, stressed, or calm?

Do you feel hot, cold, tense, or relaxed?

Choose a food that helps to balance this feeling.

Most importantly, eat it slowly, without any other distractions, and savor it. This is mindful eating.

To learn more about which foods bring balance to specific sensations,

try a nutritional consultation

with me.

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Mindful Cooking

During the fullness of life, sometimes it takes a little extra patience to relax and be present what we are doing - no distractions. 

Cooking provides the perfect opportunity to slow down and enjoy the moment. Try this practice as you are preparing food for your loved ones.

Perhaps you want to try it while making the kasha biscuits and herbed green gravy below. 

Slow Cooking

Begin from the very first moment you place the water on the heat, or pour the oil in the pan. Listen to the sounds, the smells and the sensations.

As you begin to cook the various foods, notice how the addition of each new ingredient affects the overall fragrance of the dish. Allow yourself to be present with the different senses, rather than being lost in thought. Each time the mind wanders, just gently bring the attention back to these sounds and smells.

Try to be aware of how your mood and thinking change throughout the cooking process. Do you find the heat oppressive? Do you find yourself getting anxious trying to keep all the different things going at once, or confident and in control? Don’t try and change any of these things for now –- simply building up a picture is enough.

As you observe the mind, use the physical senses as a safe place to come back to when you feel the emotions running off. For example, rather than feeling anxious about feeling anxious, come back to the smell of the food. Instead of getting increasingly frustrated at feeling frustrated, bring your attention back to the sounds of the food cooking.

As you become aware of these things, notice where your mind wants to travel. Does it drift off to memories past, perhaps associating the smells with previous meals? Or does it race ahead to the future, perhaps imagining what the food is going to taste like? 

This doesn’t require any thinking, it is simply a matter of being aware. Being aware of the thoughts in this way will help you to get much better at the exercise, which, for most people, means enjoying a more peaceful experience in the kitchen.

Simple Kasha

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

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until kasha begins to thicken.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency.

Serve with scrambled eggs, roasted roots, or greens and beans.

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Kasha Biscuits

You will need:

  • 1 cup cooked kasha

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup ground sunflower seeds

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon salt

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

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

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, mix olive oil, nutmeg, and salt. Incorporate the cooled kasha and then the lemon juice.

Drop mix in heaping spoonfuls on a greased baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges have turned dark brown. Enjoy with butter or gravy.

Herbed Green Gravy

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon each: dried rosemary and thyme

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids

  • 1/4 cup oat flour

  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 1 cup kale, chopped

Heat oil over medium in a medium pot. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes until softened and translucent. Stir frequently. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme and pepper.

Add the soy or Bragg’s then stir in the oat flour. Stir until a paste forms and let cook for about 1 minute. Add a few splashes of the broth. Let cook for 2 minutes then pour in the rest of the broth. Whisk until well combined.

Add the kale. Bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat for about 5-8 minutes to further thicken. Stir before serving. For smooth gravy, pour into a blender and blend until fully smooth.

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.

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.

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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