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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Revamp Your Lunch Routine

Fall is here, and it's the perfect time to look inward, slow down, and change the way that we eat. Summer's expansive energy is culminating in the harvest of beans, grains, root vegetables and winter squash. These are also essential foods to eat right now because of their immune-boosting benefits.

Try these lunch ideas to strengthen your immune response and simplify your diet.

To prepare:

Set aside 3 hours of time on a day off. Make a list and go food shopping.

Prepare a double batch of these two recipes and you will have lunches ready for the week ahead.

Green Leek Millet Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup millet

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large leek

  • ½ teaspoon each: sea salt and black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh greens: dandelion, kale, chard, collards

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin and coriander powder

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard (no salt added)

Place millet in a stock pot with 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Add salt and black pepper.

The millet will reach a thick, porridge-like consistency as you stir. Once it does, remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Chop 1 large leek into rounds. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add leeks.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, black pepper, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add greens. Simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out of the vegetables.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie plate with olive oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with cumin, coriander, lemon juice, and mustard.

Spread the millet on the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Place vegetables over millet. Pour eggs over the top and bake for 40 minutes.

Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D.

Leeks: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Shitake Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms

  • 3 carrots

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon

  • 3 cloves garlic

Place kasha 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 spices.

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

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop cauliflower and carrots.

Oil a rectangular baking dish. Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish. Season with spices, Toss well to coat. Roast for 15 minutes.

Chop shitakes and add them to the roasting vegetables. Roast for 15 more minutes.

Mince garlic. Remove vegetables from oven and mix in garlic. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

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 more minutes. Cool, slice and enjoy!

Buckwheat: this little seed is not technically a grain, but is often treated like one. It is gluten-free and contains more protein than fiber or fat. It is filling, nourishing, and offers a warming quality during the colder months. Buckwheat helps maintain balanced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Its beneficial effects are due to its high flavonoid and magnesium content. Kasha is the name for toasted buckwheat groats, which cook up much more quickly than raw buckwheat.

Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.

Mushrooms: anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and anti-oxidant. These members of the fungal family have rich, earthy flavor (umami), are high in protein, and are the fruiting bodies of a network of mushroom mycelium that runs underground throughout the entire planet. They contain a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which may be able to bind onto aromatase enzymes in breast cancer cells and lessen their ability to produce estrogen.

Would you like to dive deeper into changing your lunch routine?

I have created a week-long menu plan of plant-based lunches, which includes recipes, a shopping list and cooking tips. You can prepare each of these lunches easily as you make breakfast in the morning.

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Gut issues? Try an Elimination Diet + Custom Healthy Eating Program

Do you have a rumbly, uncomfortable belly?

Does your skin itch or give you blemishes?

Do you experience gas, bloating, irregular stool frequency (more or less than once / twice daily)?

Do you have constipation or diarrhea occasionally?

Try an elimination diet.

"Elimination" comes from the Latin word meaning "beyond the threshold".

Move beyond the threshold of your semi-wellness.

Walk through the door of discovery, find the foods and eating habits that cause distress, and let them go, once and for all!

Try this guide to get started. If you would like,

I can tailor your Elimination Diet to your needs and goals.

Clean out your kitchen.

Remove processed, packaged items and those containing sugar in all forms. Let go of coffee and alcohol, too. Use this guide to alternative sweeteners to help you with cravings.

Go shopping.

Buy foods according to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen Guide from the Environmental Working Group. Make sure to get plenty of gluten-free bulk grains, hormone / antibiotic free chicken, fish and eggs, and lots of vegetables. 

Start your elimination diet when you have a day or two off to be at home. Set aside time to cook and follow these meal plans and watch these videos to help you with prep.

I can help tailor shopping lists and meal plans to your needs.

Keep a journal.

Write your intention for your Elimination Diet. What do you plan to get out of this two-week period of cleansing? What you will do when cravings hit.?

Eliminate potential allergens.

Start by eliminating gluten, dairy, coffee, and sugar. When you move beyond the threshold of these foods, you will see how many more delicious new ingredients there are to try!

Substitute.

Instead of:

  • gluten, try buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, teff, millet, and oats;

  • sugar, try applesauce, dates, figs, and little bits of raw honey;

  • coffee, try green tea or a coffee substitute like Dandy Blend;

  • dairy, try almond or rice milk.

If you would like to do a more in-depth elimination diet, I can help you by customizing recipes, prep + meal plans to eliminate these common allergens as well: corn, peanuts, soy, eggs, chocolate, vinegar, yeast, low-quality fats + oils, fatty meat, beans.

Re-Introduction

Hello allergen! Nice to meet you again! Does my body like you? Let's see.

After the elimination phase, start re-introducing the foods that you excluded for 2 weeks. You will notice immediately that, when you challenge your body with offensive foods, it will react! 

Itchy eyes, digestive distress of any kind, shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue, and nausea are all signs of a food sensitivity.

Record it in your journal and try to avoid it from now on.

The elimination diet takes a little bit of planning and coordination, but it is simple to do and can make a huge difference in your health!

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Spices for healthy holiday cooking

The early winter holidays are traditionally a gathering time. Come together with friends and family, slow down and enjoy the peaceful darkness of long evenings. As you circle around the meal table, remember that the light will return at winter solstice, December 21st.

Honor the peace that comes before the light slowly starts returning. Nourish yourself and your loved ones while staying healthy by incorporating these spices into your holiday cooking. You probably already do.

CINNAMON

During the colder months, cinnamon increases warmth and circulation and supports efficient digestion of fats and heavy foods. It counteracts the congestion that is often accompanied by dairy-rich foods.

Cinnamon also brings relief from the common cold and flu by dissolving mucus and resolving coughs and bronchial congestion. 

NUTMEG

Nutmeg is a highly prized digestive aid, commonly added to cheese sauces and creamy desserts. Enjoy it! It mediates the effects of rich food, sweets, overeating and late-night eating. Watch this short video on how to make a vegan cream sauce that mimics the flavor of dairy.

CLOVES

This potent spice comes from a beautiful beautiful tropical bush, the clove bush. It can develop into a large woody shrub. I have seen it growing in the shade of coffee trees in Indonesia. It is antimicrobial and antiseptic, particularly for the gums and teeth. Heavy holiday desserts are known to clog the sinuses and produce mucus. Cloves clear the sinuses, encourage mental clarity and clear mucus. Hence, they are a perfect addition to sweet treats as well as savory dishes.

Try these recipes to incorporate a taste of health into your meals.

COCONUT CARROT RICE PUDDING

You will need:

  • 1 can organic, full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey to finish

In a pot, bring coconut milk, rice and water to a boil.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Reduce heat to low; add carrots, vanilla, spices and raisins.

Stir well, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. The mixture will still be liquid, like a thick stew. Cook it down more if you like or try it as is.

Remove from heat, stir in honey, and serve in small bowls, perhaps with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

GET CREATIVE! Two ideas: substitute parsnips for carrots. Instead of raisins, add chopped almonds and dates.

BAKED APPLES STUFFED WITH ALMONDS AND FIGS

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped

  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 6 tart apples

  • pinch salt

  • 3 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine chopped figs, almonds and wine in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop apples in half, remove core, and place right-side up in a greased baking dish that has a lid. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Fill apples with fig almond mixture.

Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over apples, seal tightly, and bake for 1 hour. 

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you like!

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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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