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Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Mushroom Tacos

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm
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Shiitake mushroom tacos with raw spinach and cashew sour ‘cream’

Continuing with the theme of incorporating more plant foods into your diet and embracing a newfound willingness to try foods you may have convinced yourself you don’t like, these shiitake mushroom tacos with a nut-based sauce are really quite good! Especially if you release all expectations of carne asada. I use Trader Joe’s 1/2 corn & 1/2 wheat tortillas b/c they are more pliable than corn (no blow-outs!) and more nutritious than plain white flour. You can also use romaine leaves to make lettuce wraps

Ingredients:

12-16oz shiitake mushrooms – thinly sliced

Optional: matchsticks of peeled zucchini and eggplant

First make spice paste in food processor:

1 jalapeño pepper

1 TBSP fresh grated ginger

1 tsp salt

1 TSP maple syrup

1 TBSP olive oil

1/2 lemon – juiced

2 tsp dried thyme

1.5 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cayenne

3/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Toppings; cashew sour ‘cream’, really good salsa, diced avocado, and diced papaya

Heat spice paste in oil over medium heat in caste iron pan. Add mushrooms and/or veggies and thoroughly mix with spice paste.  Mix thoroughly while sautéing until any liquid is gone. Place a handful of raw baby spinach on a warm tortilla (or use lettuce leaves), add mushroom filling, and dollop with cashew cream. Top with avocado, papaya, and salsa. YUM!

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Plant Power

In Nutrition on April 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm
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Superfoods: onion, kale, sweet potato

I’ll be the first to admit that nutrition research can be contradictory, changeable, and alarmist especially as presented by media sound bites. “Fat is bad” then “Eat more fat” and “Carbs make you fat” then “Actually, only ‘bad’ carbs make you fat” and “Antioxidants: more equals better” then “Wait, antioxidant supplements act as pro-oxidants”! During graduate school I was required to pore through the research and the one constant in almost 40 years of nutrition research was this: fruit and vegetable intake is inversely correlated with chronic disease risk.

This means that as you INCREASE your F/V consumption you DECREASE your risk of developing a chronic disease (and the other way around). This is one of the most consistent findings of nutritional epidemiology.

cauliflower

Huge, homegrown cauliflower

 The correlation starts at a min of 5 servings of F/V and – this is the good part – maxes out at 9 servings of F/V. So you can eat 12 servings per day of F/V (if you can fit all that fiber in your belly) but research has demonstrated it WON’T MAKE YOU ANY HEALTHIER than the person eating 9 servings of F/V. Of course, the amount of F/V servings needed depends on body size and gender: a petite woman needs 5-6 while a bigger man needs up to 8-9. Look closely at your diet to see where you can replace an animal food with a plant food. It’s time to change that long-told storyline in your head about the veggies you don’t like and the foods you think you “need” to be healthy. Challenge those old patterns and re-investigate plant foods you may have written off years ago. Meat-lovers, don’t dispair! There is room for animal foods in your diet but consider using them as an accompaniment (i.e. garnish or side dish, perhaps?) to your main meal of powerful plant foods.

Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 10, 2013 at 3:52 am
Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew

Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew

This stew debuted at SoupAsana and was a hit (even with the picky eaters!). The combo of hearty veggies in a light, deliciously-spiced broth was a perfect post-yoga meal. Prep is minimal and the slow cooker does all the work for you!

Ingredients (Serves 6):

2 cups onions – diced

2 large celery ribs – finely chopped

2 14oz cans of garbanzo beans – drained & rinsed

1 14oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes

1 can coconut milk

4 cups vegetable broth

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cayenne (if you like heat!)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 large sweet potato – peeled and diced

1 bunch kale – chopped

Place all ingredients except kale and sweet potato in slow cooker on high for 2-3hrs. Add kale and sweet potato and cook for another 1-2hrs (until sweet potato is soft). Season to taste with tamari. Serve over short-grain, brown rice.

Love It or Leave It

In Mindfulness, Nutrition on April 10, 2013 at 3:43 am
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Swiss chard, parsley, and kale

Life’s too short to eat kale…if you don’t actually like it! Yes, it’s really good for you but if you’ve tried it every which way (raw, sautéed, baked as chips, blended in a smoothie) and you still hate it, then simply eat a different leafy green – swiss chard, collards, beet greens, mustard greens, etc.

I don’t like quinoa. There’s nothing particular ‘wrong’ with quinoa, it’s just that this itty-bitty, fluffy seed appears really wimpy to me – like it should be a garnish instead of the main event. So I rarely eat it. I like short-grain brown rice instead (sometimes w quinoa mixed in). I also eat pinto beans way more than black or garbanzo or kidney or adzuki (who eats those anyway?).

Do the healthy eating thing YOUR WAY while still holding yourself to a high standard. As long as you are eating something from each major plant group (beans, greens, nuts/seeds, oils, etc.) then don’t stress if you dislike the one deemed MOST NUTRITIOUS. The most nutritious food is the food you will actually eat! Find the leafy greens and grains you like, eat those, and ban the kale and quinoa from your repertoire. Be open to trying those banned foods in new variations or preparations – you might be surprised.

So, I REALLY like kale; therefore, it’s featured in Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew. You’ve got 2 choices: substitute another leafy green or give kale a try…loosen up and get creatively experimental with your food preferences.

Chia Pudding

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 3, 2013 at 10:29 pm
chia pudding

Chia pudding with blueberries

Why all the chia and coconut, you say? Well, both chia and coconut contain healthy fatty acid profiles. Chia’s omega-3s are more accessible than flaxseed because the seed can be consumed whole as opposed to flaxseed which must first be ground. I have found that adding unsweetened coconut and vanilla to recipes enhances the sweetness without any additional sweetener! It’s the aroma, perhaps. There are a lot of versions of chia pudding on the internet. This one from yourbuddhi.com is my favorite. This is NOT super sweet but resist the urge to pile on the honey and instead top with mango, pineapple, or another sweet fruit.

Ingredients:

1 can of lite coconut milk

5 TBSP chia seeds

3 TBSP honey

1 tsp vanilla and/or 1 tsp cocoa powder

Swirl honey into coconut milk until fully dissolved. Stir in chia seed, vanilla, and cocoa (if using). Wait 10 mins, stir again, then place in fridge for another 10 mins. Done! Top with fruit, coconut flakes, nuts, or cacao nibs.

Makes 4 – 4oz servings.

1 serving = 159 kcals + 9g fat + 4g fiber + 2g protein.

Choco-Chia Nut Spheres

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I just couldn’t use the word ‘balls’. Again, more chia and coconut (easy, affordable, healthy fats, high fiber). Almonds add healthy fats, protein, and more fiber. All these ingredients can be found in the bulk aisle. If you are shopping at a market that does not have a bulk aisle, perhaps you should find your way to one that does as these markets tend to have healthier food options. Yes, these are a kind-of glorified trail mix but are healthier than a highly-processed energy bar and serve the same purpose. Use as a tea-time dessert or as a great post-workout snack.

nut spheresIngredients:

1.5 cups dates – pitted

1/2 cup water

3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2.5 TBSP chia seeds

2 cups almonds (if you use raw almonds, chop a bit first or it’s gonna be hell on your processor. If you don’t care about the recipe being raw then use tiny roasted & salted ones)

Coconut flakes (unsweetened)

Dash of cinnamon and/or cayenne

In a food processor, purée pitted dates and water until a sticky paste forms. Add cocoa powder. Add chia seeds and almonds in batches to create solid dough. Shape mixture into TBSP-sized balls and roll in coconut or cocoa powder. Refrigerate for 30mins. Makes ~25 spheres.

1 sphere = 88 kcals + 6g fat + 3g protein + 2g fiber

Living a Sepia-Toned Life

In Mindfulness, Nutrition on April 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm
gratitude genius

From Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Fire Starter Sessions.

I’ve never been a black-and-white kind of thinker. You might say I am comfortable in the gray area but that evokes a kind of dullness. I prefer the gentle warmth of a sepia-toned life. My line of work, my physical appearance, or other observations of me by others prompt such assumptions as: I’m a vegan (I’m not), I never eat sugar (I do), or I sell salmonberries (I don’t!). I admit to having very healthy eating habits but I don’t follow a dogmatic approach to eating nor do I ever say ‘never’ (hmm, did I just say it?). I feel we can all learn to trust ourselves enough to live mindfully in the Sepia Zone. It’s the area between black-and-white-rule-following that is warmer and more inviting and nothing is out-of-bounds. I eat a plant-based, no-sugar diet like…80% of the time. I’m making that number up – it could be 90% or 75% – the number doesn’t matter! What does matter is that this is my diet the VAST majority of the time. It’s not painful or steeped in willpower. It’s just present moment awareness and mindful decisions that involve trusting myself and my body. This approach feels easy, joyful, and appreciative to me as opposed to strict, disciplined, and degrading. I am not the type to eat a daily dessert so when I want to treat myself, I go big. If you are the type that would rather have a treat more often but are concerned about the nutritional impact, then check out Chia Pudding and Choco-Chia Nut Spheres.

Pot O’Beans

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 1, 2013 at 3:17 am
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Kidney beans, black beans, chili powder, cumin seeds, and cilantro.

How to make a decent pot o’ beans that are digestible and ingestible! First, prep the beans and then decide on herbs and spices (dried & ground) depending on the bean type selected. Here are some ideas for spicing up your beans…

Pinto: lemon rind, parsley or oregano, cumin, & mild chili powder. Black: ginger & fennel seeds or sage & thyme. Lentils & Garbanzos: lemon rind & garlic with dill, basil, or mint.

  1. Soak dried beans for at least 12 hrs* and change water once or twice.
  2. When ready to cook, add a strip of Kombu to bottom of crock pot (aids digestibility, adds nutrients, and shortens cook times). Add beans and fill with water so the beans are just covered.
  3. On high, bring beans to a boil, scoop off foam, and continue to boil (w/o lid) for 20 mins.
  4. Add spices. Consider whole garlic cloves – they turn to a garlickly mush – yum! Adding fennel seeds or cumin seeds helps with digestion. Any other spice or herb helps with ingestion – also important.
  5. Cover crock pot, reduce to low, and let beans cook all day long (~6-8 hrs depending on soak time)
  6. Season with salt at the end. Adding sea salt, miso, or tamari too early hinders full cooking.
  7. ENJOY for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

*Food Safety Alert! Soak in a cool place away from direct light. If soaking longer than 12hrs or its a hot, humid day, please soak in refrigerator.

Plant-Strong Diets = Bean-Strong Meals

In Nutrition on April 1, 2013 at 2:47 am

Do you feel vulnerable when you eat beans? Plant-strong diets include plenty of beans but please don’t avoid them for fear of digestive consequences! It’s possible to prepare and consume beans in such a way that you can eliminate digestive protestation. Beans are nutrient-dense, low-calorie, high-fiber powerhouses providing protein, carbs, iron, folic acid, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium to your diet. A diet staple since long before biblical times in India, China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas…millions of ancestors can’t be wrong!

Canned beans are a easy way to get beans into your diet and I definitely use them from time to time. But dried beans are a staple in my house. Dried beans are healthier (lower in salt) and more affordable than canned beans and they turn out delicious after simmering in a crock pot all day. Yes, it’s springtime, and I’m definitely incorporating more raw plant foods into my diet as they become available, but there’s still a cold, damp, wind off the ocean that makes me want to warm myself from the inside out with cooked foods.bean and avo

 If you struggle with digesting beans, eat lentils, adzuki, peas, and mung beans more often and pinto, kidney, garbanzo, and black beans less often. Soybeans are the most difficult to digest; however, soy products (tofu, tempeh) are a bit easier. Also, if your digestion is weak (i.e. gas, bloating), eat beans only with greens or other non-starchy veggies. If your digestion is heartier, feel free to combine with grains (rice, quinoa). Consider using a digestive enzyme like bromelain or papain which are extracted from pineapple or papaya, respectively, to aid in digestion. Lastly, digestion is hormonally-controlled so it will be influenced by moods, stress, and menstrual cycle. Make note and don’t have the same expectations of your body on a daily or weekly basis.