How ‘Bout Them Apples

Hi Friends,

I’m reaching out with a bonus today, inspired by the most sweet, delectable apple I had the pleasure of eating this morning. I need more of this in my life thought I, and I want the same for you dear readers!  With that…

Apple Cranberry Kale Salad bowl with dry cranberries, almonds and pumpkin seeds.

12 Ways to Eat More Apple this Fall

  1. Bake chopped apple with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a splash of maple for breakfast, a snack, or dessert
  2. Make applesauce by cooking down in a covered pot with water, raw apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bonus tip: use applesauce in place of, or in addition to gravy with your Thanksgiving turkey.
  3. Dice and toss in salads for crunch
  4. Slice and wrap them up with your favorite sandwich fixings in a collard green leaf or cabbage leaf
  5. Caramelize an onion; in the same pan, sauté sliced apple for a sweet side dish
  6. Make a salsa with jalapeno, onion, cilantro, ginger, and a squeeze of lime
  7. Grill them
  8. Roast chopped apple with chopped cauliflower and a splash of olive oil
  9. Make apple chips by slicing into ¼ inch rings, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 250° F for 50 minutes; flip and bake for another 50 minutes.
  10. Add them to your omelet with cheddar cheese, mushrooms, and fresh thyme
  11. Slice thick horizontal slices and spread with your favorite nut butter for an apple “sandwich”
  12. Toss thickly sliced apple in a roasting pan with pork tenderloin and sprinkle with sliced onion, fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup and roast.

An apple a day may or may not keep the doctor away, but it’s sure to keep a smile on your face. Enjoy.

Something to Chew On: Winter Kale Salad

Dear Friends,

How is it already mid-November?! The holidays are fast approaching and soon we’ll be inundated with advice for avoiding the inevitable overindulgence of food and drink.

Today I’ll tackle it from a different angle – the very important task of chewing your food. Stick with me, because this information is so important you’ll want to practice it year-round.

Small girl having fun while about to bite a roasted turkey on Thanksgiving.

Ever think about what’s happening in your mouth as you savor every juicy bite of that turkey? Or maybe you’ve forgotten what it feels like to savor food because life is hectic and you can’t slow down? Perhaps a better question, do you experience bloating and indigestion from eating on the run or from eating mindlessly?

Let’s break it down. Digestion uses more energy than any other involuntary function your body performs. It starts in your mouth, through chemical and mechanical means. The mechanical process is the physical breakdown of food, which starts when you chew. Chemical breakdown also begins as you chew, when your salivary glands secrete enzymes, hormones, and gastric fluid that help to separate food into little pieces, making it ready for digestion and ultimately nutrient absorption. The more you chew, the more you jumpstart digestion before ever swallowing your food. Because of this chemical process even foods that are more soft and liquid in nature like smoothies, yogurt or soup need to be chewed well. To quote Paul Bragg, known as the father of the health movement in America, and developer of products like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar: “Drink your solids and chew your liquids”!

The conclusion, the longer you chew your food, the easier digestion will be on the rest of your body. And when digestion requires less energy, there is more energy to go around elsewhere. Because after all, digestion requires more energy than any other involuntary function of your body. Bottom line: chew your food well for increased energy.

Back to tips for avoiding overindulgence, chewing well slows you down. You taste and savor your food as you chew mindfully, but also become more aware of how satisfied you are before taking a second helping.

How much should you chew your food? There is no tried and true formula, but the goal is to change the texture. If you’re a rule follower aim for

  • 32 Times for softer foods
  • Up to 60 times for denser foods like animal protein and fibrous veggies

It’s also important to avoid taking large bites by not overloading your fork or spoon with food. Go for one small bite at a time.

Experiment for yourself, but most importantly be patient and focus on enjoying the flavors.

With that I leave you with a lovely recipe to chew on, my favorite winter kale salad. This salad is a festive accompaniment for a holiday meal or a satisfying meal on it’s own. And it’s highly antioxidant to boot!

Massaged Winter Kale Salad
vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free
Serves 4

Salad

  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 apple, chopped into ¼” pieces, skin on
  • Seeds from ½ of a pomegranate
  • ½ medium sized beet, shredded with a micro plane or a fine cheese grater
  • Toasted walnuts, roughly chopped*

Thoroughly rinse kale under cool running water and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel, or rinse and spin in a salad spinner. Remove stems by gently pinching the sides of the thick end of the stem and running your thumb and forefinger upward along the stem. Discard stems. Roll kale leaves into a cigar shape and roughly chop, first width-wise, then lengthwise. Place chopped kale in a bowl, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and massage with your hands for a few minutes. Toss with chopped apple, pomegranate seeds and shredded beet, then toss lightly with orange ginger dressing. Let salad sit for 10 minutes, top with crushed toasted walnuts and serve.

Orange Ginger Dressing

  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (juice of 1 orange)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (juice of ½ lemon)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh, chopped ginger
  • Raw honey, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Combine orange juice, lemon juice, honey, chopped ginger and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Slowly combine olive oil in a thin drizzle while whisking continuously. Juice to oil ratio should be approx. 1 to 3, and finished dressing should coat the back of a spoon.

*To toast walnuts: Bake in an oven preheated to 375° F for five minutes, stirring halfway through.

 

Meet Your Kitchen

A modern kitchen complete with cooking utensils

Dear Friends,

I’ve listened to countless confessions from people feeling totally overwhelmed in the kitchen. For others the kitchen is their comfort zone, their weekend refuge. Wherever you fall on that spectrum all of us need to eat, and to eat, we need to do at least some food preparation. One of my greatest joys is inspiring people to cook, and to cook it certainly helps to be comfortable in your kitchen. Think of it this way. We all need to sleep, and in order to get our best sleep we make efforts to create the right environment – a comfortable bed, room temperature, level of light or darkness. Your best sleep environment is different than mine; so it is with our kitchens.

Let’s create your most comfortable kitchen in four easy steps.

Step one, familiarize yourself. Peruse your cabinets, refrigerator, freezer. Look at your oven, stove, microwave, grill, toaster, slow cooker, blender, food processor, pots, pans, and any other equipment you use to prepare food. What do you love? What do you rely on most? What’s never been used? What would you like to learn? What are you lacking? What needs replaced? What needs to be cleaned? What needs pitched?

Step two, take mental note of the items you’re most comfortable with. Make sure they’re clean and easily accessible. (Do jot down the equipment and food items you’d like to learn how to use. We’ll touch on this in a later blog.)

Step three, consider how you can make the rest of your kitchen more user-friendly and do it. What needs rearranged? Can you store your knives and cutting board closer together? Make space by keeping the toaster on a shelf instead of the counter? Organize your utensils? Perhaps most importantly clean out your pantry, fridge and freezer. Toss anything out of date, or that even with the best intentions you know you’ll never use. Play around with this step. Rearrange your kitchen and test it out for a day, then rearrange again if you need to. Your spice rack doesn’t need to be arranged in alphabetical order…unless that’s what works best for you. If you share your kitchen with others, seek their input.

Step four I will pose as a question: what food prep task do you dread, and how can you make it easier? Drying rinsed greens with a paper towel? Get a salad spinner! Do you curse that dull veggie peeler or can opener every time you use it? Replace it! Hands down, the single most coveted piece of equipment for me is my knife, and nothing is more important than keeping it sharp. The easiest way to do that is to regularly hone it with a steel, which you can pick up at your local home goods store. Or treat yourself to a sharpening from a local professional, which generally costs around $1 per inch.

A cautionary reminder, this is not a kitchen remodel. Set yourself a reasonable budget and a timeline for replacing what you need. Don’t pitch everything! Donate used equipment and utensils that still have some life to The Salvation Army or your local second-hand store. While there, check out the selection of cookware. Some brands like Pyrex last for years.

Creating your most functional kitchen environment sets the stage for finding your comfort. I want to know how you did! Give me a shout and share what makes your kitchen the best.

In Love and Good Health,

Teri

 

 

 

 

Love Bugs

Large Intestine Problem

Dear Friends,

Last year I had the privilege of studying under Andrea Nakayama, a functional nutritionist whom I greatly respect. In my training I learned in great detail how every system in our bodies is affected by the health of our gut. Perhaps you’ve heard rumblings about gut health, (pun intended) but what exactly does it mean?

First of all, what do we mean by the gut? In terms of digestion, your gut is your entire digestive tract, starting at your mouth and ending at your anus. 70% Of your immune system resides in your gut in the form of good bacteria…millions and trillions of bugs called flora. Think of your immune system on a grand scale. I’m not just talking your ability to fight off a cold, but anything that your body may face, from the threat of cancer to autoimmune disease, infectious disease, and depression

 All health starts in your gut.

I talk a lot about food, but to quote my mentor Andrea Nakayama, “You are not what you eat, but what your body can do with what you eat. In other words, you are what your body can break down and absorb”

In order to maximize your body’s ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients, your gut health needs to be in order.

And let me tell you about the brain gut connection. As an embryo, your brain and digestive tract are developed as one system. As they develop, they are forever connected by the largest nerve in your body, the vagus nerve. So connected are these two that the gut has been called the second brain by professionals in functional medicine. It’s easy to understand the connection. When you feel excited, you have butterflies in your stomach. When you feel stressed, your stomach is upset. To quote another medical professional whom I deeply respect: “The only difference between the brain and the gut is that the gut has not yet evolved to the state of self-doubt.” – Deepak Chopra.

Some symptoms of an unhealthy gut include:

  • Chronic loose bowels
  • Cramping, discomfort in the abdomen
  • Gas and bloating
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety/depression (brain/gut connection!)
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Skin disorders
  • Poor sleep
  • Autoimmune disease

How to take good care of your gut? None of us are the same, and our unique gut makeup isn’t either, but as a general rule for fostering gut health:

  • Avoid sugar, refined carbs and all processed foods.
  • Fill up on fiber with a rainbow of fruit and veggies.
  • Load up on probiotic food and drink: fermented veggies like Kim chi and sauerkraut, and beverages like kombucha and kefir.
  • Eat your prebiotics – food for gut flora like apples, asparagus, onion, garlic, and leeks.
  • Be cognizant of over-the-counter and prescription drug use as they alter your natural gut flora, especially antibiotics.
  • Practice a healthy lifestyle: sleep, hydrate and manage stress.

This is the tip of the iceberg my friends. Stick with me for recipes, tips and more info on creating your best gut health.

In Love and Good Health,

Teri

*Disclaimer: This content is accurate and true to my knowledge. I am a professional on this topic, but I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this content is for informational purposes only.  Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.  

Good to Be Back

Dear friends,

I come to you full of gratitude after a long break, and I’ve missed you! The past 22 months have been perhaps the hardest – and most growing of my life. I’ve taken time to reflect and heal, and while certain pain never fully goes away, within time this experience has made me stronger. I am so ready to share positive energy with others who may not be feeling so strong.

Woman's feet dangle from wooden wharf, above lake

Here’s what happened.

My Mother, whom I dearly love, had been battling ovarian cancer with the courage of a lioness. My Dad, her husband of 52 years, whom I also dearly love, was her rock. One day he fell sick, landed in the ER and remained hospitalized for the next six months, in and out of ICU the entire time. He was catatonic much of that time. They both showed amazing courage, but the parents who have propped me up my entire life were both too weak to fight alone.

My sisters, our husbands, and I took turns being with them…a logistical challenge as we all live in different states. My Mom remained strong under the most painful, difficult circumstances, holding onto the belief that Dad would come home and that life would return to normal, albeit a new normal. She worked tirelessly to get him there and Dad did pull through. The heart-wrenching end to the story is that my Mom breathed her last breaths just days after he made it home.

We lost my Mom on September 19, 2018. My sisters and I have lived like deer in headlights. We’ve focused our energy on Dad, who despite a recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, has made an incredible recovery, thanks in large part to the caregivers that my Mother hand-picked. I continue to spend a lot of time with him, flying from Boston to Knoxville, TN every month or so, and finally, after seeing that he’d settled into a comfortable routine, took some time to mourn my Mom.

When not with my Dad, I’ve been quietly working as a personal chef, writing recipes, and getting certified in functional nutrition specializing in digestive health. Of course, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the course of this past year. I have always valued good health, but because of this experience, my approach has changed. The revelation: there is no better formula for health than joy, and to make space in your life for joy, you must practice acceptance.

My parents followed all the rules: regular exercise, regular doctor visits, a low-fat Mediterranean diet (outdated thinking I believe, but these were the marching orders of the their time), no smoking; drinking in moderation…however they both very quickly fell very ill in their 70’s. As deeply as I love my Mom and Dad, stress management was not a strength for either of them. And sadly, stress leads to disease. Now to my parent’s defense, they devoted their entire lives to building a happy, healthy, financially stable household and they wanted the same for us as we built our own households. They worried when any of that felt shaky. They worried because they couldn’t bear to see any of us living with distress, pain, or fear, and no doubt it came from a place of unconditional love. Trust me, for that I am eternally grateful.

In no way am I advising that you make efforts to separate your emotions from the lives of your loved ones. The key here is acceptance. Acceptance for the things we cannot control. Acceptance that there is a greater plan for all of us. When you find acceptance, you make space in your life for joy.

Over the past year I’ve had to find acceptance for the heart-breaking loss of my Mother. Perhaps even more difficult, I had to accept the fact that though I came to her cancer battle armed with holistic knowledge that I know would have helped her, her faith was in the oncologist, and she was interested only in spending time with me. So I stopped trying to change her diet, stopped trying to convince her to practice yoga and eat less sugar. I had to let go of the professional me, and just be a daughter. That, my friends, is acceptance. Quite frankly, spending time with my Mom just being her daughter brought me joy.

Where can you practice acceptance in your life? Maybe it’s acceptance as you watch your child make the same mistakes you did in your youth and the knowledge that you cannot make decisions for them. Maybe it’s acceptance of inevitable change, like a restructure at work. Maybe it’s as simple as accepting a rainy day when you had planned a sunny hike. Acceptance is acknowledging your experience…acknowledging it but not judging it as good or bad, just something that is.

The message here is not to take things, or yourself too seriously. Remember, joy is at the root of good health, and, by accepting what you cannot change, you create space for joy.

Now that I’ve made peace and space in my life, you’ll be hearing from me frequently with tidbits that I cannot wait to share on gut health, lifestyle habits, and lessons from the kitchen. Stay tuned and keep an eye on my social media channels and for this newsletter in your inbox. It’s good to be back.

With love, Teri

Iron-Rich Spinach Asparagus Pesto

In January I made a promise to offer a monthly theme for practicing mindfulness. Sometimes being mindful can be as simple as listening to your body. After several weeks of intentionally eating very little animal product I began to feel tired, spacey and a little dizzy. Anemia runs in my family, and I especially notice the symptoms when my activity level is highest, like when I recently trained for a half marathon. My body is craving iron.

Quick note on iron. As I’ve learned through my studies with Andrea Nakayama at the Functional Nutritional Alliance https://www.replenishpdx.com, symptoms of anemia can occur even when we’re ingesting plenty of iron. The deficiency is due to a weakened ability to absorb iron, which is commonly linked to low stomach acid. This condition is known as hypochlorhydria, which in turn is also linked to symptoms of heartburn and GERD. A quick way to test that you have enough stomach acid is to drink a full eight-ounce glass of water with one teaspoon of baking soda first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Think about some kind of food that activates your salivary glands, mustard does it for me, but whatever makes you salivate. Wait ten to fifteen minutes and if you have ample stomach acid, that acid reacts to the baking soda by causing you to belch. If there is little or no belching, you likely have low stomach acid. If it seems your stomach acid is in deed lacking, a simple and gentle strategy to induce production is by drinking a tall glass of water with a few squeezes of lemon or a teaspoon fermented, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning and/or before meals.

Regarding iron in your diet, we tend to think of beef as the hero, but the foods highest in iron include organ meat, soy, clams, and spinach. In fact spinach contains more iron gram for gram than ground beef!

It’s a fantastic time of year to bring more fresh spinach into our diets as Spring is nearing and our bodies start to crave more greens. One of my favorite methods for sneaking more spinach onto the plate is in pesto. Bonus if you choose to go dairy-free – replacing parmesan with spinach makes a lovely vegan pesto.

I leave you with this recipe for asparagus pesto, featuring not only iron-rich spinach, but also one of our favorite Spring veggies, asparagus. Enjoy as a sauce with grilled or roasted poultry and meat, with eggs, in a sandwich, or add a dollop to a green salad, as I have here, with a poached egg added for protein.

asparaguspesto

Vegan Asparagus Pesto

1¼ cup pine nuts, divided
1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb), trimmed of tough ends
2 cups baby spinach leaves
*2 cloves garlic if raw, 3 cloves if roasted
Juice of ½ lemon
Zest of ½ lemon
¼-¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

*Note: roasting garlic cloves is optional. The result is a creamier texture with less bite than raw.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

OPTIONAL STEP: Place peeled garlic cloves in an oven proof dish and rub with enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 35-45 minutes, until golden. Set aside to slightly cool.

Spread pine nuts onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and bake for 4-5 minutes, or until just golden brown. (Be careful, these delicate nuts burn easily!) Set aside to slightly cool.

Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, cut asparagus stems in half. Place in boiling water to blanch for 3 minutes, until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Slice asparagus tops from their stems and set aside.

Add the asparagus, spinach, 1 cup of the pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest into the bowl of a food processor. Begin to purée and with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the ¼ cup of olive oil until a paste forms. If you prefer a thinner pesto, continue adding oil until desired consistency. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Use asparagus tops and extra pine nuts to garnish.

 

Chinese 5-Spice Salmon over Spicy Braised Kale

Chinese5SpiceSalmon2
A few days ago I found myself in great need of relaxation and soul nourishment, which for me means a solo evening in the kitchen preparing a comfort meal to some folksy background music. On the agenda: Chinese 5-spice broiled salmon over spicy braised kale with Brandi Carlisle on the Amazon echo. Don’t worry, during my month of veganism I’ve allowed myself fish once or twice a week, and salmon was calling my name at the fish market that day.

Allow me to take a minute to talk salmon. I spent most of my adult years living in the Pacific Northwest, which is where my love and snobbery for salmon developed. In my mind salmon isn’t really salmon if it’s not from the Pacific Northwest, especially if it’s farmed in the Atlantic. My deep-rooted bias moved with me to New England, where farmed salmon exists on almost every restaurant menu. I did splurge on Sockeye, King or Copper River from time to time when I saw it at the market, but being one who preaches the localvore lifestyle, it didn’t feel right. So I did without salmon for a few years.

That was until I learned about salmon from the Faroe Islands. It was recommended by my local fishmonger after he politely listened to my whining about my lack of wild salmon from the Northwest. Technically Faroe Island salmon is farmed, and I wouldn’t necessarily call the Faroe Islands, located between Scotland, Norway and Iceland, local. However this fish is the closest replication to wild salmon on the east coast I’ve seen. The unique current of the islands allows ample circulation of fresh seawater, which makes for a nourishing environment not too different than the natural environment of wild salmon. Unlike most farm-raised salmon, this is raised with no antibiotics in very clean, flowing water. It’s also fed a chemical-free, organic diet. From a culinary standpoint, I find the texture quite different than wild salmon from Alaska, Washington or Oregon, which is meatier and has a much deeper pink color from their natural diets of krill and shrimp. Faroe Island salmon is more flaky and the color isn’t quite as deep, but it is not dyed pink like that of other farmed Atlantic salmon. I must admit that while living in New England I’ve grown quite fond of cooking and eating this fish.

With that, I leave you with this recipe for Broiled Chinese 5-Spice Salmon over Spicy Braised Kale. Chinese 5-spice, a mix of cinnamon, ginger, ground fennel, licorice, and anise is one of my current favorite seasonings. Surprisingly sweet and spicy at the same time, it’s the perfect flavor pairing for salmon. And what better soul-food accompaniment than braised greens? This simple recipe is one of my favorite go-tos. Hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Chinese 5-Spice Salmon over Spicy Braised Kale
Serves 4

For the Salmon:
1 lb. Faroe Island salmon fillet, or wild salmon fillet
Juice of ½ lemon
2-3 Tablespoons avocado oil
1 Clove garlic, minced
½ Teaspoon Chinese 5-spice seasoning
1 Teaspoon honey

Place the top rack in your oven about 4-5 inches from the top heat element and heat your broiler to high heat.

chinese5spicesalmonprep.jpg
Gently rinse salmon under cold running water and pat dry. Place skin-side down in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with avocado oil on all sides of the fish. Squeeze lemon juice on the top surface. Press garlic gently into the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and evenly coat with Chinese 5-spice. Drizzle with honey. Place dish in the oven and cook 6-8 minutes for every inch of thickness. Salmon is cooked when the texture is flaky and the layers begin to separate, or when it reaches in internal temp of 125°F.

Note: removing your salmon from the fridge and allowing it to come to room temp will decrease cooking time.

 Note: I opt for avocado oil as it’s better suited for high heat cooking than extra virgin olive oil.

For the Kale:
1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Small clove garlic, minced
½ Teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
¼ Onion, chopped
1 Bunch kale, I prefer curly, rinsed and chopped
1 Cup chicken stock or water
3 Tablespoons tamari
½ Teaspoon honey, more for added sweetness
Sprinkle of red chili flakes, or to taste

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil and warm over low heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion and cook until aromatic and onion is translucent, about five minutes.

kaleprep.jpg

Add kale and all remaining ingredients to the pan. Turn heat to high, and using a wooden spoon gently stir as the greens cook down. Kale is cooked when softened and bright green, about 2-5 minutes, longer for greens with a tougher texture to start.

 

 

 

 

Hemp and Pine Nut Crusted Cauliflower, with Parsley Gremolata

HempPineNutCauli

Happy New Year my friends! Am I the only one who’s had a tough time diving into resolutions? Just before ringing in the new year we began a ten-day stretch of subzero temps, with a blizzard in the middle of it. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been gung-ho with energy to attack a brand new year.

I decided to start with achievable intentions that, hopefully, would help clear my head of the holiday hangover. I proclaimed a vegan, gluten-free diet for one month, as I had admittedly fallen prey to December temptations. (On a side note, I’m not opposed to eating meat, but removing it from my diet seemed a good way to lighten up, as any holiday entertaining on my watch was meat-laden.)

Many a client have come to me overwhelmed by instruction from their medical or holistic practitioner to immediately remove dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, and in their mind everything else from their diets. “What on earth am I supposed to eat?” Easy-peasy says I, this is how I eat all the time. Right?

Not so much.

As it turns out my January effort was a healthy reality check. Sometimes we let our behavior fall out of line with the person we want to be, as was the case with me. I apparently powered my way through December with some cheese and crackers here, and extra glass of champagne there, and sure, I’ll split a slice of pizza…all without giving it a thought. It didn’t take long to fall back into a routine of clean eating, but I can’t say it was easy. I was reminded that being in control of your health takes thought and planning. It requires you to be aware of the nibbling you do throughout the day, the meals you gobble down when on the go, and how all of this makes you feel. It requires mindfulness. I am humbled when my thoughts turn to every client who came to me bewildered and overwhelmed at the notion of changing their diet, knowing they’d suddenly need to spend a whole lot more time in the kitchen, and would actually have to plan.

I’m not about beating anybody up for habits that fall by the wayside over the holidays. I’m simply making an observation on how quickly and easily I, the health geek fell out of a mindful routine, and I’m paid to counsel people to do this very thing! Clearly it was time to put my money where my mouth is, and in doing so, I’ve realized a larger, all-compassing resolution. While I focus on nourishing with certain foods I am practicing mindfulness, and this is one intention I plan to continue all year. I may carry on with the current vegan, gluten-free regimen, but I will be adding another mindful intention next month, and the month after that, and the month after that until December of 2018, and hopefully long after. Join me on this journey and together we’ll build a foundation of self-awareness and body wisdom, and you deserve that.

To kick off my vegan, gluten-free month this recipe for Hemp and Pine Nut Crusted Cauliflower with Gremolata sauce is one my favorite cold weather comforts. The dish is high in protein and healthy fats, though all you’ll notice is buttery bliss. Gremolata is a traditional Italian green sauce. Simple, light, and so nutrient dense.

And with that, let’s plunge with energy and enthusiasm into this new year of opportunity!

 

Hemp and Pine Nut Crusted Cauliflower Steaks 
Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as an entrée

1 Large head of cauliflower
¼ Cup coconut oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
½ Cup raw pine nuts
¾ Cup Hemp heart seeds
¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat broiler to high heat.

Rinse cauliflower, pat dry, and slice into thick steaks or quarter into large pieces. Melt coconut oil in a pan over the stovetop, or in the microwave. Place cauliflower pieces on a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush coconut oil liberally onto all pieces of cauliflower. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil for 4 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, finely chop pine nuts in a food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and combine with hemp hearts and olive oil for a thick, oily paste. Season nut/seed mixture with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Using your fingertips, press the nut/seed mixture onto the cauliflower, coating the outside and crevices of each piece as best as possible. Leave any remnants that don’t want to stick to the cauliflower in the pan to cook alongside. Bake for 30 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked through and golden brown.

 

Parsley Gremolata

1 Bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Juice from ½ lemon
¼-½ Cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add more olive oil for a thinner consistency (my preference!) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Bliss…?

Image

Ah, the holiday season is upon us.  I’ve struggled for ideas to write anything enlightening on the subject of holidays that hasn’t already been said a hundred times.  I could talk about how to beat holiday stress or how to be your best during the holidays in order to avoid January resentment, but I’m guessing we all know what to do and what not to do in order to feel our best come January 1.  Or at least January 2.

Stumped as I was, I started typing and let my thoughts flow.  Christmas.  It’s here again.  It’s sad really.  As the years go by this important holiday slowly evolves from total festivity for children to total stress for adults.  How to bring back the joy?

As a child Christmas was very traditional for me.  An eight-hour trek up to snowy Northwestern Pennsylvania to visit family.  Lots of sledding, hot cocoa, endless chocolate chip cookies in Grandma’s tin treasure chest on the kitchen counter, hours of fun with cousins, pizza on Christmas Eve, Grandma’s homemade biscuits, turkey dinner and pies, oh her pies.  And alas, my thoughts are wandering toward food.  I guess as a chubby kid and now a healthy chef it’s no surprise my most vivid memories center around food.  Do I eat like this now during the holidays?  No.  Would I eat my Grandmother’s pie, cookies or biscuits if she were still with us to treat me to these family delicacies?  You betcha.

And it hits me.  The perfect Christmas themed wellness blog isn’t one of how to’s, to do’s and not to do’s.  It’s about cutting ourselves a break and finding joy.  Kind and gentle are words many of us strive to achieve during the holiday season in this cruel world.  What better place to start than with yourself?  Be kind, gentle and slow down.  Be present.  Family and friends make much effort to express their love and gratitude this time of year.  How about expressing a little love and gratitude toward yourself?

What kinder act to your spirit than to relive a childhood holiday memory through your taste buds?  Or maybe it’s not your taste buds, maybe it’s spending an hour reliving the memories of your handmade ornaments from childhood, or skipping the office party in favor of a quiet date night with a loved one.  It’s about feeding your soul folks.

Now then, kind and gentle doesn’t mean eating every cookie or candy cane that crosses your path.  But maybe it does mean allowing yourself a piece of fudge, a glass of champagne, a morning of sleeping in or a skipped workout without guilt.  Find YOUR kind and gentle. Where do you need to lighten up on yourself?  Refocus the guilty energy on time with family or friends, take a deep breath and enjoy the freedom and gratitude this moment gives you.

Go ahead, be bad.  Give yourself permission once or twice this holiday season and don’t even think twice about it.  You can refocus and reshift goals come January, and for that I can help.  But while we’re at it, let’s make a resolution to be more kind and gentle to ourselves all year long.

My gift to you is one of my favorite treats year round; especially tasty during the holidays.  The perfect desert for cocktail or dinner parties.  Recipe compliments of my dear friend Jill.

Healthy Nut Butter Cups

  • 1 package of medjool dates, cut in half, pits removed
  • 1 jar organic almond, peanut or cashew nut butter

Spread nut butter into pitted dates.  Arrange on a plate, garnish with love and enjoy.

Happy Holidays my friends.

So Long Creepy Crud

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Scratchy throat and sniffles and body aches, oh my.  Say it isn’t so.  Yep, it’s that time of year.  That festive time of year that starts with cute kiddos decked out for Halloween, moves right on to turkey and pies for Thanksgiving and manifests with the decorating, shopping, parties, baking, gift-wrapping and joy of Christmas, with a few college football parties sprinkled in.  No wonder our bodies wear down and force a time out with cold, flu and the creepy crud.

This needn’t be my friends.  Time to arm ourselves and invest a little TLC in our immune system before the creepy crud gets the best of us.

What is this thing called the immune system anyway, and why is it your neighbor Janet hasn’t been sick in three years while your sick days are maxed every year?

Our immune system is one of the magnificent phenomena’s of the human body.  Each of us is equipped with a defense system that constantly fights disease-causing microorganisms when we don’t even know they’re attacking.  The immune system resides in many parts of your body, including the tonsils, thymus gland, lymph nodes, appendix, spleen, small intestine, bone marrow and white blood cells.

There are a zillion ways our immune system breaks down, leading to not only cold and flu but also allergies, inflammation and ultimately disease.  Today I’m going to look at how to keep our immune systems strong and healthy for the sake of fighting off cold and flu, but by practicing the right diet and lifestyle you’ll find that your body is strong enough to fight not only common illness, but also long-term disease.

Let’s look at them most common offenders.

Stress.
Stress is a naturally occurring phenomena that our bodies are equipped to handle.  When we’re in a state of stress the brain signals the adrenal glands to secrete endorphins to help temporarily handle the stress.  Think fight or flight.  We get sick when the body is constantly in a state of stress, working so hard to fight it that other bodily functions like the immune system become weakened.  Stress levels tend to run particularly high during the winter months as we have less daylight, lowering serotonin levels in the brain, which has been linked to depression.  On top of this we tend to work longer hours and overcommit during the holidays, all of which piles up as added stress.  According to WebMD 75%-90% of all doc visits are stress related.  Commit to not over-committing this winter, and when you’re feeling stress try these simple techniques to relax.

  • Get outside for some fresh air and sunlight, even if just for ten minutes.
  • Breathe!  Breathe deeply from the diaphragm, in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Bonus if you can try breathing exercises outside.
  • Meditation
  • Relaxing music

Lack of Sleep.
This one goes hand in hand with stress, as one inevitably leads to the other.  Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, period.  This is when our bodies recover, rebuild and repair.  Sleep is essential for almost all bodily processes to function properly. Surveys conducted by the National Sleep Foundation reveal that 60% of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.  Lack of sleep not only impedes the immune system, but it also negatively impacts memory, metabolism and mood, all leading to more stress.  Having trouble with sound sleep?

  • Start to unwind as it gets dark outside.  Our bodies are naturally programmed to wind down when it’s dark and refresh as the sun comes up.  Save the housecleaning, working out or other strenuous activity for daytime.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine, even on the weekends.
  • Take naps if you need to.
  • Lack of Vitamin D can be a factor in poor sleep.  Try to get outside when the sun is shining and take a Vitamin D3 supplement if you don’t live in the southern part of the US.
  • Magnesium may help in restful sleep as it aids in brain relaxation, helping to turn it from “on” to “off”.  Get magnesium naturally through leafy greens and almonds, but for sounder sleep try a supplement.

Lack of movement.
I’m talking exercise, even though I try to avoid using the E word in fear of scaring my clients away.  Stats show that people who work out regularly take half the number of sick days as people who don’t engage in regular physical activity.  Exercise strengthens your heart, allowing for stronger blood circulation throughout your body.  It also strengthens the lungs, allowing for greater oxygen distribution.  No need to spend an hour at the gym every day if it’s not your thing.  Getting out for a 30 minute walk four to five days a week will make a world of difference to your immune system.

Poor diet.
I can’t possibly underestimate the importance of good nutrition when it comes to immune health.  The old clichés are so true: we are what we eat, and an apple a day does keep the doctor away.  Following are a few food based home remedies that can help to build a strong immune system and ease the symptoms of cold and flu when they do set in.  Take that Janet.

Anise seed or fresh fennel clears congestion and helps ease a cough.  Add 1 cup crushed anise seed to 1 cup hot water with garlic, cinnamon or honey.  Raw fennel is delicious sliced and eaten on sandwiches or mixed into salads.

Apple Cider Vinegar is a powerful cleansing and healing elixir, a naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria.  It also cures diarrhea, soothes a sore throat, aids in sinus drainage, and acts as a natural pick- me-up.  Add 1-2 teaspoons to warm water and drink first thing in the morning or throughout the day.

Blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses, helping to protect cells from harm caused by free radicals, or molecules responsible for illness, aging and certain diseases.

 Cacao, ounce for ounce contains more antioxidant power than green tea or berries, and it’s loaded with zinc.  Add cacao nibs or powder to a morning smoothie, in yogurt or snack on cacao nibs on their own.  You can find powder or nibs at your local health food store.

Celery is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, fights viral and bacterial infection, supports the digestive tract, boosts your immune system, aids in hydration and as a bonus fights cancer and helps to lower blood pressure.  Juice celery or eat it chopped in a salad or try sliced celery sticks with hummus.

Cinnamon has a healing effect on the body because of its warming property.  Try making a tea with 1” slice fresh ginger, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ lemon, 1 cup hot water.  Or sprinkle cinnamon in your morning yogurt, over brown rice with honey or on roasted sweet potatoes.

Fluids are key when fighting a cold.  Drink plenty of fluids to maintain a moist respiratory tract, helping to repel viral infection.  Staying hydrated also improves the function of white blood cells.  Stay away from concentrated sugars in soda pop and store bought juice, which can weaken the white blood cells ability to kill bacteria.

Garlic is a highly potent antioxidant offering anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-yeast properties.  Strive to eat two cloves a day.  Garlic is most powerful eaten raw.  Try a supplement if garlic isn’t appealing or make a habit to cook with it.

Ginger eases GI distress, treating nausea and promoting healthy digestion.  It is highly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.  Ginger is known to be cleansing, warming and has been used to treat symptoms of cold, flu, PMS and arthritis pain.  Try juicing fresh ginger root or make a tea with a 1” slice of ginger, ¼ fresh lemon and 1 cup hot water.

Green tea is full of catechins, powerful antioxidants that help rid the body of free radicals and are thought to help kill influenza viruses.

Honey.  This age old flu fighter contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals, a full-range of vitamins, and 5,000 live enzymes.  Be sure to buy raw, local honey if possible.  Try making a tea with ¼ lemon, 1 Tbsp raw honey and 1 cup hot water.

Leafy greens are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth.  The darker the green the higher the nutrient content.  Leafy greens have a purifying affect, amp the immune system and promote lung health.  Eat cooked or try raw in a salad or green smoothie.

Lean proteins: be sure to eat enough in the winter months to help build antibodies and fight infection.  Protein also has a warming effect on the body.

Lemon is the most concentrated form of Vitamin C when juiced.  Try lemon in warm water to soothe a cold.  Lemon with sea salt in warm water soothes a sore throat.

Mushrooms are full of antioxidants and have major anti-inflammatory properties and cancer fighting power.  Eat mushrooms in endless amounts raw in salads or sautéed with stews, soups or animal protein.

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, a side effect of colds.   People that regularly take a fish oil supplement are also shown to suffer from less anxiety, which itself breaks down the immune system.  Fatty fish like wild salmon, tuna, mackerel or anchovies are high in Omega-3’s, or add a high quality fish oil supplement to your diet.

Pineapple is effective in helping treat bronchial conditions as it contains the protein digesting enzyme bromelain, which helps to break down thick mucus and offers some mild antibiotic effects.

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in our gut.  This healthy gut flora makes up 70% of the immune system.  It works to keep harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream and helps the body absorb nutrients.  Get your daily dose of probiotics by eating “live” food like cultured greek yogurt, fermented foods like sauerkraut or kim chi, through drinks like kombucha or kefir, or you can take a high quality, whole foods based probiotic supplement.  Look for one that needs to be refrigerated, which means the cultures are live, not freeze-dried.  Take an acidophilus supplement when on antibiotics to prevent the risk of yeast overgrowth.

Spirulina, a blue green algae has been called one of the most nutritious and concentrated food sources on the planet.  It has 58 times more iron than raw spinach, 25 times more beta-carotene than carrots, 3 times more Vitamin E than Wheat Germ and is high in cancer-fighting selenium.  Spirulina has antimicrobial properties, known to destroy a wide range of viral, bacterial and fungal infections while boosting the immune system.  It aids in respiratory health, fighting asthma and the histamines that cause allergies.  Spirulina is a complete protein with a very high protein efficiency ratio.  It is anti-inflammatory.  Add spirulina powder to your green smoothie or try a supplement.  Both can be found at your local health food store.

*This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health.