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.

Baby Cakes

Happy Valentine's Day! My daughter is indeed a Valentine baby: she will turn one year old on Thursday. Her presence in my life has eclipsed all other priorities and it is a joy to witness her grow, learn and thrive each day.

May this day remind you of the love that is always in our hearts when we relax, breathe deeply, and open to our unlimited potential. What brings you joy? What nourishes you? Ask yourself these two questions each morning and set out to live a day filled with joy and nourishment. This practice of self-love spreads love to others and helps cultivate happiness, even during troubled times.

As my daughter learns to feed herself, I have been exploring new sources of nourishment that can be fulfilling for us both. The wonderful food solution we have both been enjoying lately is baby cakes: small pancakes made of eggs and vegetables. I add a few spices and some oil to bring flavor and soothe the nervous system. Try these combinations and let me know what you think!

All of these freeze well and reheat easily in a toaster or toaster oven.

 

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Sweet Potato Baby Cakes

High in beta carotene and vitamin A, sweet potatoes soothe the nerves, balance the endocrine system, and promote healthy elimination.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

  • 2 cups sweet potato, boiled and drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil sweet potatoes with just enough water to cover. It will take about 10 minutes for them to be tender.

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well.

Bake at 375 on an oiled cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Flip and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool and enjoy.

I enjoy them with a vegetable and egg scramble or ground turkey with sauteed greens.

Carrot Chicken Baby Cakes

High in protein, pastured chicken contains all the essential amino acids necessary for muscle development and provides steady energy.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup cooked chicken

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and coriander

  • 2 cups carrots, boiled and drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop and boil carrots with just enough water to cover. It will take about 20 minutes for them to be tender.

Boil or braise chicken for 20 minutes if bone-on and 10 minutes if boneless. Pull chicken off the bone if necessary and remove skin.

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well.

Bake at 375 on an oiled cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Flip and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool and enjoy.

I enjoy these with parsley pistou or pesto.

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Spinach Squash Baby Cakes

High in fiber and iron, spinach is important for brain development and promotes healthy elimination.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander

  • 2 cups winter squash, baked and de-seeded

  • 1 cup spinach, boiled and drained

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place an acorn or carnival squash in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until it's soft when pierced with a knife, Cut it open, remove seeds, and scoop out flesh. I like to make these at the same time as the spinach cakes so that I use up all my squash.

Boil spinach with a little water in the bottom of a small stock pot. It will only take a few minutes. Drain well.

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well.

Bake at 375 on an oiled cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Flip and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool and enjoy.

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Blueberry Baby Cakes

High in resveratrol for balanced blood pressure and antioxidants for stress reduction, blueberries are a superfood for all of us!

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1 cup winter squash, baked and de-seeded

  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place an acorn or carnival squash in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until it's soft when pierced with a knife, Cut it open, remove seeds, and scoop out flesh. I like to make these at the same time as the spinach cakes so that I use up all my squash.

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well.

Bake at 375 on an oiled cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Flip and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool and enjoy.

Chickpea Tagine with Buckwheat Pancakes

During the colder months, it's important to warm our bones with healing foods such as soups and stews. This one freezes well, so you can make a double batch to thaw and enjoy at a time when life is busy.

Take a moment to slow down and breathe in the fragrance of these spices as they cook. Native to North Africa, this spice blend and concomitant stew are a wonderful way to boost your immunity and strengthen your digestion while learning about the culinary traditions of another group of people.

Tagine refers to the earthernware pot in which this dish is traditionally cooked. Records of this dish date back to the 9th century CE.

Chickpea Tagine

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, salt

  • 1 cup chopped onions

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • One 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 15 ounce can no-salt-added garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), rinsed and drained OR 2 cups cooked chickpeas

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until beginning to brown and stick to the pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Stir in 1/3 cup broth and continue to cook 4 to 5 minutes longer or until very tender. Stir in spices and tomatoes. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining vegetable broth, sweet potato, garbanzo beans, and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.

Serve with buckwheat pancakes and parsley pistou if you like.

Savory Buckwheat Pancakes

Mix together:

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup water

Cook in an oiled skillet as you would pancakes. Serve with chickpea tagine.

Parsley Pistou

In a blender, combine:

  • 2 cups flat leaf parsley, rinsed and de-stemmed

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup water

Blend well and enjoy with tagine or as a spread on bread.

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My Favorite Spring Treats

Spring is a time to lighten up, eat fewer refined foods, and move towards the whole, local ingredients that support the health of local farms, the bioregion, and your body.

May this practice of eating simple, seasonal, flavorful food help you connect with nature and welcome each day as an opportunity for rejuvenation and new discovery.

May day is honored in Northern traditional cultures as Beltaine, a celebration of passion, creativity, fertility and the resplendent sun, which shines warmer each day and lingers longer each evening. Spark your passion and creative impulse by getting in the kitchen and making these wholesome treats! They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free.

Sweet Potato Bars

For the crust:

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  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:

  • 1 pound orange fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

Chop and boil the sweet potatoes. Keep the skin on for maximum nutritional benefit. Drain them and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square-baking pan with olive oil. Place all topping ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse until mixture reaches a coarse meal that's evenly moist.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Place all the topping ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. There's no need to wash the processor between the crust and the topping.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Bake about 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

Almond Chocolate Chip Bites

You will need:

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  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic unsalted almond butter*
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs

*You can substitute cashew or peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 

Using a soup spoon, evenly space scoops of the mixture on the baking sheet. Press down with a spatula or back of the spoon to slightly flatten. 

Bake for about 15 minutes.

Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring and eating!

Almonds: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; high in flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels; rich in vitamin E to promote cognitive abilities and protect the brain.

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this inspiration!

A Week in Vegetables

As we pass the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox, I am thinking about the fertile seeds that we will plant in dark soil this spring. These seeds will bring delicious food to our table and fill our root cellar with bounty for the winter to come.

I realize that time is not linear, but cyclical. The cycle of seasons finds plants on another ring of the spiral each year as they sprout new branches, stalks, and shoots. We can also grow into each new cycle by appreciating how far we have come since this time last year and renewing our body, mind, and spirit with simple food. 

As the outside world slowly wakes up to welcome another growing season, so can we rejuvenate our bodies by including more plant foods into our diet.

Here is the shopping list for a week of healthy, plant-based lunches.

You can gain the complete guide, including recipes, by clicking here.

Simple Vegetable Recipes 

to keep you nourished all week long

Shopping List

  • 8 small sweet potatoes (or 5 to 6 medium/large)

  • 1 head of cauliflower

  • 1 head of broccoli

  • 2 bunches Swiss chard

  • Baby spinach

  • 2 bunches kale

  • Mushrooms

  • 1 can white beans

  • 1 can chickpeas

  • 2 red onions

  • 1 large leek

  • Parsley or cilantro (optional)

  • Grocery

  • Olive Oil

  • Eggs

  • Ghee or grass-fed butter

  • Tamari or soy sauce

  • Cumin

  • Coriander

  • Paprika

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

While making breakfast, follow these instructions for assembling a lunch quickly. It will take about 30 minutes per morning.

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Baked Latkes

In honor of Hanukkah's beginning at sun down last night, I offer a lighter version of latkes with a few variations.

This festival of the Jewish tradition lasts for 8 nights and 8 days. The word 'hanukkah' means 'to dedicate', and honors the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem.

Many light candles in the evening and welcome in the light during this time when nights grow dark so early. Bring light and delight into your home with this delicious traditional dish.

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Latkes

You will need:

  • 1 pound potatoes, grated

  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • Peel potatoes and grate coarsely.

You can either grate by hand or with the grater attachment of a food processor. Place grated potatoes in cold water until they are all grated. Drain the water and mix potatoes with all the other ingredients.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 cookie sheets with olive oil.

Place latkes on sheets and bake for 15 minutes.

Accompaniments: sour cream, sauerkraut, applesauce

Variations: use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes - in this case, omit the carrots. Add  1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and 1 carrot, grated

Favorite Breakfasts with 3 Ingredients Each

Each one of these breakfasts provides protein, fiber and flavor for balanced energy that jump starts metabolism and provides satisfaction.

I love sweet potatoes. They are a staple in my diet because they support the reproductive system, satisfy the sweet flavor, and feed beneficial gut bacteria. They are also rich in anthocyanins to recude inflammation and plenty of dietary fiber to stabilize blood sugar.

Grocery store labeling can cause much confusion. What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? 'Yam' comes from the Fulani (West African language) word 'nyami', which means 'to eat'. Native to Africa and Asia, these root vegetables belong to the Dioscoreaceae family

.Sweet potatoes, instead, are members of the Convolvulaceae, or morning glory plant family. They are more commonly grown in the United States. Breakfast can be easy and delicious. Watch the video and try these recipes and see for yourself! 

Prepare these dishes ahead and have them ready for the week to come.

Kasha Sweet Potato Pie

You will need:

  • Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

  • Olive oil

  • Roasted sweet potatoes

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cube and roast sweet potatoes with olive oil (4 tablespoons) and salt (1 teaspoon) on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, place kasha and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, add 1 teaspoon salt, and stir occasionally.

Once sweet potatoes are roasted, remove them from the oven and lower the temperature to 375 degrees.

Oil a pie plate with olive oil. Once the kasha is cooked, spread it into the pie plate. Top with roasted sweet potatoes and bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy with a spoonful of your favorite nut butter. I like tahini.

Sunflower Sweet Potato Flatbread

You will need:

  • Cornmeal

  • Sunflower Seeds

  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with olive oil.

Bring 3/4 cup sunflower seeds in a spice / espresso bean grinder until they reach a flour-like consistency. 

Combine with 1 cup cornmeal and a pinch of salt. 

Add 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes (see preparation directions above) and enough water to make a thick, chunky batter - about 1/2 cup.

If you would like a smooth consistency, blend in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Spread into loaf pan and bake for 15 minutes.

I like to slice it, toast or fry it, and serve it with parsley pistou

.

Coconut Sweet Potato Cakes

You will need:

  • Coconut flour

  • Shredded coconut

  • Roasted sweet potatoes

To prepare:

In a bowl, mix equal parts coconut flour and shredded coconut. 

I also like to add a teaspoon of cinnamon. 

Mix in 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes (see preparation directions above) and smash them with a fork.

Add enough water to make a thick, dough - about 1/2 cup.

If you would like a smooth consistency, blend in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Oil a cookie sheet or baking dish with olive oil. Shape dough into patties and place on the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!

I like mine toasted and drizzled with honey or maple syrup and a spoonful of almond butter.

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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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Salad Dinner

Summer is the time to enjoy creative combinations of fruits and vegetables with tangy dressings.

Try these for your next dinner party, picnic, or potluck.

PEACHY GREEN BEAN SALAD

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground black pepper1 pound ripe peaches, sliced

  • 1 handful lemon balm,  finely chopped

  • 2 pounds green beans, ends snipped

  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

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

Slice, pit and add peaches. Mix well and set aside.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil.

Add beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. 

Add to peach mixture. Toss to combine.

Add almonds, toss one more time, and serve!

GET CREATIVE: Enjoy with white bean, garlic and parsley salad.

TOMATO SWEET POTATO SALAD

You will need:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, chopped into cubes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander and salt

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

  • 2 handfuls cilantro, chopped

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon raw honey

  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with oil, coriander and salt.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Whisk ginger, cilantro, lime and honey in a large bowl. 

Add potatoes and tomatoes.

Toss to combine and serve warm.

GET CREATIVE: Sprinkle goat cheese over the top. Roll the salad into wraps and slice length-wise into bite-sized pieces.

LENTIL BEET SALAD

You will need:

  • 1 pound red and /or golden beets, chopped

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups indigo or green lentils, soaked for 3 or 4 hours

  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1 red apple, chopped into cubes

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place beets on a baking sheet with oil and salt.

Roast for 1 hour or until fork-tender.

Bring soaked lentils and 4 cups of water to a boil.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, about 45 minutes. 

Drain, discarding liquid, and rinse through a fine-mesh colander.

Place in a large bowl and toss with mustard, oil, vinegar, apple, honey and garlic.

Add beets, toss once more, and enjoy!

GET CREATIVE: puree the whole salad and shape it into burgers. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes on each side and enjoy with green salad and toasted sourdough bread drizzled with olive oil.

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Immune-Boosting Delights

These are wonderful foods to incorporate into your diet to boost immunity and curb sweet cravings.

Sweet Potato: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

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 and oregano per week to boost your immunity.

Lime: both the skin and juice of this citrus fruit contain a natural flavonoid called hesperidin, which is shown to help combat cancer and ward off viruses and bacteria that cause the stomach flu. Avoid drinking undiluted juice to protect your teeth. Add lime to salads, water, or use it as a salt alternative when sprinkled on veggies.

Tahini: a classic Mediterranean flavor, this peanut butter-like spread is made from ground sesame seeds. It contains two immunity-boosting ingredients: magnesium and zinc. Magnesium is essential for optimal immune function, while zinc protects against infection. Try tahini with hummus or in an open-faced sandwich with honey and apple.

SWEET POTATO MUFFINS

You will need:

  • 1 large sweet potato, steamed for 10 minutes or until tender

  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup millet flour

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon each: black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop and roast sweet potato in sunflower oil and salt for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the oil, almond milk, maple and vanilla.

Add the flours, spices, and salt.

Once sweet potato is roasted, mash it with a fork and fold it into the batter. It can stay chunky.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Oil 12 muffin cups, fill 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes.

Let muffins cool before serving. They are delicious with almond butter.

BLUEBERRY CHIA LIME SMOOTHIE

In a blender, combine and blend:

  • 2 cups organic frozen blueberries

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds

  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

  • 1/2 cup water

    TAHINI YOGURT DIP

In a bowl, mix:

  • 1 cup full fat unsweetened yogurt (cow or cashew)

  • 1 minced clove of garlic

  • 1 tablespoon of tahini 

  • juice of 1 lemon 

Enjoy!

This makes a great dip for veggies or a spread inside a sandwich wrap.

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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.