Food for Liver Renewal

Today marks the last full moon before March 21st, the Spring Equinox. The earth is rife with purpose, ready to push up the myriad of seeds that will green our landscape for the season to come. Similarly, our bodies are ready to eat more green foods and move more to harmonize with the coming change of season. Mornings and evenings may feel chilly, but the sun shines longer each day and brings the warmth that heralds this season of renewal.

In my native Italy, the word for spring is 'primavera', meaning 'first truth'. May you find time to slow down as you eat, listen to your body's messages for nourishment, and savor the green flavors of the coming spring.

Here are some recipes to inspire your dietary transition from winter to spring.and to support the liver's natural renewal process.

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Beet Sauce

You will need:

  • 3 medium-sized red beets, sliced in half

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil1 shallot, minced

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ teaspoon each: allspice and salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, coriander

In a small pot, boil beets for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Once done, drain them and set aside to cool.

In a small sauté pan, over low-medium heat sauté shallots in olive oil and add spices and salt. Once shallots look caramelized, set aside.

In a blender, combine beets, shallots, vinegar, and water. Blend until smooth.

Use as a topping for millet bread.

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Millet Bread

You will need:

  • 1 ½ cups millet

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaf

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

Place millet in a cooking pot with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir well, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Cook on low heat and keep stirring until millet thickens.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour millet into a baking dish and flatten it evenly. Bake it for 15 minutes.

Slice and eat as you would polenta. Let the millet cool before slicing it.

Add toppings! If spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet, this also makes an excellent pizza crust.

Click this link for more spring recipes.

Pears for Healthy Digestion

Dry weather and oily, rich winter foods can cause constipation, gas and bloating. If your digestion suffers in the winter because the air is so dry and the meals are heavier, pears are a perfect antidote.

Pears are loaded with flavonols, plant nutrients that provide anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant support. They are high in pectin, a sugar loaded with galacturonic acid, which coats and soothes the intestines to reduce symptoms of heartburn, ulcers, GERD, acid reflux, and colitis. Pear fibers bind with bile acid in the intestines, making them soothing and easily digestible. They are an important part of a low-allergy diet and. In my native Italy, they are one of the first foods given to infants.

These recipes also feature cardamom and olive oil, both of which support digestion in crucial ways.

Cardamom is a fragrant and floral spice native to Southeast Asia that reduces gas and bloating. Its warming and soothing quality makes it a perfect pairing to pears.

Olive oil is a polyunsaturated fat that hails from various parts of the world, including Greece, Syria, and Italy. 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. 

Pear, Almond, and Chocolate Muffins

These delicious muffins are more like dessert. They are gluten-free, (almost) dairy-free, and free of refined cane/beet sugar (adapted from the Five and Spice blog).

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand or you can make your own in a food processor)

  • ½ cup rolled oats (replace this with more almond flour if you want grain-free muffins)

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate

  • 1 small pear, diced into little pieces

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a muffin pan with olive oil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the almond flour, oats, spices, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and add the maple, oil, coconut milk, vanilla, and egg. Whisk these together and then fold dry ingredients into wet until mostly smooth and fully combined.

Add the chopped chocolate and pear at the end. 

Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake until brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing and serving.

These muffins are best eaten the day they are made.

Pear Almond Cake

This light, fluffy tart is a wonderful brunch addition or a simple treat to serve at the end of a holiday meal.

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup oat flour (buy flour or make it by grinding rolled oats in your blender or food processor)

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 egg

  • 1 pound Anjou pears

  • lemon juice and water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 inch pie plate or cast iron skillet with olive oil.

Slice pears in half, core them, and then slice each half into about 3 smaller slices. Place these slices them in a bowl of lemon juice and water to keep them from browning. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flours and spices. Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients, minus the pears. Whisk these together, then incorporate them with the dry ingredients. 

Pour batter into greased pan. Pat pears dry and arrange them in a circle over the batter. Bake for 25 minutes and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Would you like to learn more about which foods are ideal for you? 

Try a free initial consultation with Lisa.

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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.

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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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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Summer Dinners

Happy Summer!

The days are long and lovely. It's time to spend time outside and soak up the green world all around us.

Try these picnic-friendly recipes to invigorate you after a long day and enjoy the evening outdoors. 

Thanks to Saveur for this recipe inspiration.


KOHLRABI POTATO SALAD

This traditional Swedish recipe is unique and delicious. Kohlrabi, a Brassica family cultivar, tastes like a cross between cabbage and broccoli.

You will need:

  • 1 pound potatoes or any kind

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 small kohlrabi, chopped

  • 1 cup roughly chopped kohlrabi leaves

  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped dill

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steam potatoes in until tender, 18–20 minutes; set aside. 

Melt butter in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add kohlrabi pieces; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 5–7 minutes. Add reserved potatoes, the chopped kohlrabi leaves, dill, salt, and pepper; cook until leaves are wilted, 1–2 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature.


CORN SALAD

A classic Midwest United States recipe that reminds me of my mother's Kansan heritage.

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-qt. 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.

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Spring Soups

Prepare these soups ahead so you can enjoy a simple meal when you get home after a long day in the green beauty of the blossoming world.


SPRING TOMATO SOUP

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 2 potatoes, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: rosemary and thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes OR 1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Chop onions and garlic.

Add to a soup pot with olive oil.

Sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add carrot, potatoes, salt, rosemary and thyme.

Sauté for 10 more minutes, then add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.

Add 2 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, or until flavors have incorporated.

Blend with immersion blender if you prefer a creamier soup.

Enjoy! Garnish with unsweetened yogurt if you like.

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CREAMY CHERVIL SOUP

inspired by Nadia Hassani

You will need:

  • 6 ounces fresh chervil, stems and leaves separated1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • ½ cup milk (cow, rice or almond)

  • 2 egg yolks

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring chervil stems and stock to a simmer in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat

Simmer, covered, until stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

Strain stock, discarding stems; return to pan and keep warm.

Purée chervil leaves, milk, parsley, yolks, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.

Whisk in the broth until smooth.

Enjoy with a garnish of fresh parsley if you like.

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CARROT SOUP WITH HERBED YOGHURT

For the soup:

  • 6 medium carrots, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the yoghurt sauce:

  • ¼ cup unsweetened, whole yogurt or soy yogurt

  • 1 chive, minced

  • 1 handful fresh parsley, minced

  • 1 handful fresh basil, minced

  • pinch salt

For the soup: Put carrots, oil, water, and spices into a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid has evaporated and carrots are very soft, about 1/2 hour.

Purée carrot mixture with immersion blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serve with yogurt sauce.

To prepare the sauce, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Serve a spoonful as garnish in each bowl of soup.

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Picnic Time

As the weather gets warmer and the brilliant shades of green decorate the countryside, take time to sit outdoors and enjoy a meal. Bring your favorite foods, and remember to drink plenty of water.

Here are some recipe to inspire your next picnic.

TAHINI DATE COOKIES

Tahini, roasted sesame seed butter, is one of the best vegan sources of calcium to promote healthy bones, teeth and heart.

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup tahini

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/3 cup dates, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups oats

  • pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom

3 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor mix together the dates, water, tahini, and maple until creamy and blended.

Pour into a bowl and mix together with the oats, salt, spices and olive oil.

Scoop out spoonfuls of the batter on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, to desired crispness.

TACOS

This is a nourishing and creative way to enjoy a gluten-free feast and honor the gastronomic traditions of Central and South America.

For 6 people, you will need:

  • 12 corn tortillas

  • 1 cup queso fresco or any cheese you like

  • 1 quart cooked beans -  I like pinto or black beans

  • 2 fresh limes, cut into quarters

  • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded

  • salsa fresca 

To prepare salsa fresca, chop:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes

  • 1 red onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 handfuls cilantro or parsley if you prefer

  • In a bowl, mix these together with:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • juice of 1 lime

Assemble tacos, drizzle with salsa, and enjoy!

AVOCADO HUMMUS

This Middle Eastern dish is full of vegan protein and fiber from the chickpeas and polyunsaturated fat from the avocados.

You will need:

  • 1 ripe avocado, cut in half, skin and stone removed

  • One 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

  • One clove garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tahini

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ½ teaspoon each: paprika, coriander, and cumin 

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 6 pieces of pita bread for serving

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Chill in the fridge for one hour before serving with pita bread.

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Terrific Rice Dishes

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Rice, oryza sativa, is the most common cereal grain world-wide. It is nourishing and soothing to a system that's depleted by cold and flu. It stops diarrhea, nourishes dehydrated tissues, and is one of the easiest grains to digest.  

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.


Pair any of these dishes with grilled meats, cooked beans or sauteed tempeh for a lovely meal!

CAULIFLOWER RISOTTO

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large shallot, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and rosemary

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • black pepper to taste

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice

  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

  • parmesan cheese if desired

In a medium-sized pot, heat olive oil. Add the shallots, garlic, and spices and saute for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant and translucent. 

Add cauliflower and saute for 5 minutes, covered.

Add the rice, toast briefly, and then cover with vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 40 minutes.

Stir, add parmesan cheese if desired (about 1/4 cup), and serve piping hot!


NUTTY RICE FLATBREAD

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a spice grinder, grind:

  • 1 cup sweet nuts (almonds or pecans)

  • 1 cup savory nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts)

  • 1 cup seeds (pumpkin or sunflower)

Mix together in a bowl with1 cup leftover rice. Make sure you have cooked the grains down into a porridge-like consistency before mixing them in with the nuts and seeds.

Add ½ teaspoon salt and any spices you like.

Try one of these combinations: cumin, coriander, turmeric OR thyme, coriander, oregano.

If mixture is a bit dry, add a few splashes of olive oil. Mix well before adding any additional oil – the nuts already contain oil.

Grease a cookie sheet with oil and spread mixture in a thin layer.

Bake for 1 hour. Enjoy!


SWEET POTATO RICE CAKES

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a cookie sheet with vegetable oil (I like grapeseed or sunflower oil).

Combine these ingredients in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup rice flour

  • 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flax seeds)

  • pinch salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: nutmeg, coriander and cinnamon

Make a well in the center and add:

  • 1 heaping spoonful almond butter

  • 2 heaping spoonfuls coconut oil

  • 1 cup steamed, mashed sweet potatoes

Make a well in the center, combine the wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.

Incorporate wet and dry ingredients until they are well combined.

Shape into cakes/patties, place each one on cookie sheet, and bake for 25 minutes.