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Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Cool, Summer-version of Pad Thai

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 30, 2013 at 4:31 am

pad thai kelp noodlesThis cold, kelp noodle salad has a terrible name. I wanted to call it “No-cook, No Peanut Pad Thai” but that was pretty lame too. The good news is, this recipe requires NO cooking or processing only soaking, chopping, and whisking. I used an alternative to the ubiquitous peanut butter to make it accessible to everyone and change up the flavor a bit. The whole point of developing this recipe was to find a use for kelp noodles other than in soups. I have been struggling with a decent avocado sauce and now feel vindicated that I’ve finally put kelp noodles to good use with this Pad Thai-inspired sauce. Insanely low-cal kelp noodles pair perfectly with high-calorie nut-based sauces. I’m not a calorie-counter but it’s just common sense not to overload your palate or belly with a cocktail of high-calorie items…let’s keep it all in balance, people.

kelp noodles

No caption necessary…the bag says it all.

Kelp noodles are practically calorie-free (<10 calories per serving), gluten-free, and raw. Just soak in water with an acid (citrus, vinegar) and they remind one of glass noodles. Kelp noodles are made from brown seaweed, sodium alginate (a seaweed-derived salt therefore high in iodine), and water. Clear in color and quite bland, they are al-dente-like crunchy until soaked. Kelp noodles are low in fiber so if you are using them in place of whole grain noodles, up the veggie content of your recipe for balanced blood sugar levels.

This recipe is vegan and I would love to call it ‘raw’ because it’s very, very close; however, for bestowing the raw title you must drop the tofu, sub agave or raw honey (but then it wouldn’t be vegan…so many rules!) for the maple syrup, and the canned coconut milk is suspect (I believe there are raw versions of coconut milk available). Anyway, if you are a raw foodie, I’m sure you are aware of the appropriate substitutions. If you are not, carry on…

pad thai kelp noodles ingredients2

Tofu, red pepper, lime, and mint.

Ingredients:

1 bag kelp noodles, soaked overnight in water and juice of 1 lime

8oz tofu, extra firm, drained, squeezed, and cubed

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup shredded/grated carrot

Handful of bean sprouts

(Experiment with the veggies: sliced snow peas, shredded cabbage, grated beets, etc.)

Pad Thai Sauce (enough for 2 batches of noodles & veggies):

pad thai kelp noodles ingredients

Kelp noodles, ground/crushed red pepper, tahini, shredded carrot, and ginger root.

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup canned coconut milk, light

3 TBSP tamari, low sodium

3 TBSP maple syrup (agave or raw honey)

1-2 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

1 tsp crushed red pepper or cayenne

1 lime, juiced

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

Place drained kelp noodles, tofu, and veggies in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Combine 1/2 of the sauce into bowl of noodles, tofu, and veggies. Mix well and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds when ready to serve. Cool, creamy, and layered with flavors and textures…yum!

Pizza Muffins

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm

oven-readyMy son goes to the coolest preschool. The children basically romp barefoot in a vegetable garden building fairy houses and digging for dinosaur artifacts while collecting eggs and bundling herbs to sell at their “farmers market stand”. The school encourages parent involvement and, while I’m comfortable giving parent education talks, I freeze when I think of teaching nutrition to a bunch of 5-year-olds. I have zero experience in early childhood education and can be much too serious when it comes to healthy eating (ask my kids!). So as the year creeps to an end I’m feeling that I must do something to contribute my expertise and decide that I will make an easy, healthy recipe for pizza muffins with them.

pizza ingredientsTrader Joe’s makes homemade pizza-making a breeze, just pick your toppings and the rest is ready for you. Making pizzas as individual muffins allows the kids to top their “own” pizza and makes them very portable for lunchboxes and for taking to the beach. No one will notice the whole wheat crust and I prefer the sharp flavors of TJ’s Quattro Formaggio shredded cheese over bland, straight-up mozzarella. Leftover toppings can be used in a frittata the next day (where good cheese is once again appreciated).

I prep the veggies prior to heading to the school: chop the bell peppers, drain the olives, and de-stem the mushrooms. Once I see how much fun they are having acting like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while chopping mushrooms, I immediately regret buying pre-sliced olives.pizza toppings

At home, I usually handle the rolling, slicing, and draping of the dough into the muffin tins because if the dough gets over-handled it just curls up in a ball on the bottom of the tin. But I’m trying to be a relaxed, fun mom and I let the kids help with this part even though it might not “turn-out”. Inevitably, some of the pizza muffins fall apart in a goopey mess once removed from the tin, either from overfilling of sauce or because the crust ended up entirely on the bottom…oh well.

making pizzaThis being the free-spirited, do-what-you-feel, kind of preschool, some kids wander into and out of the activity while others are very invested in micro-managing the outcome. I think my son may have participated the whole time. Either because he wanted to hang out with me or because we have the same issues! The individual variation is impressive and, although it’s a creative mess, I’m impressed with the interpretive pizza that resulted.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce

Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Trader Giotto’s Quattro Formaggio (shredded blend of parmesan, asiago, fontina, and mild provolone)

Topping ideas:pizza eat

Bell peppers, yellow, orange, red, diced

Black olives, sliced (buy whole olives, let kids chop)

Cremini mushrooms, chopped (trim stems then let kids chop)

Trader Joe’s chicken breakfast sausage, cooked and sliced (another kid-friendly chopping task)

Leftover roasted or steamed veggies, chopped (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, green beans)

Raw spinach, chopped

pizza mealDirections:

Pre-heat oven to 450. Let dough sit for 20 mins on a flour-ed surface before rolling out. Cut into 12 squares and drape squares in greased, regular-sized muffin tin. Let the kids go nuts with the toppings. Bake for 10-12 mins at 450. Enjoy!

Apple-Mint Bean & Grain Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 21, 2013 at 6:19 am
bean & farro salad ingredients

Salad ingredients sans dressing.

I’m kind of on a pink kick these days. I find myself drawn to pink food in pretty jars: pink Himalayan salt, raspberry jam, cactus fruit kombucha. This Sunday, at the La Jolla Open Aire Market, my pink preference seemed to migrate to produce as I chose watermelon radishes and pink lady apples for this recipe.

salt and lemon

Pink Himalayan salt and Meyers lemons.

This delicious salad was served to me while at a friend’s house for dinner otherwise it’s rare for me to attempt  a recipe with this many ingredients. I really like to keep things simple when it comes to healthy eating and I don’t think more is better. This is exactly the kind of recipe I would have skipped while searching for a new idea. Too many ingredients, too many instructions. But…it’s really not so bad and the outcome is fantastic! Do not become overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients in this salad. Besides the prep for radishes and apples, it is actually quite fast and the dressing gets quickly processed – super easy! I used a filet knife when trying to ‘paper thin’ those radishes and almost sliced the tip of my middle finger off!

Crisp, soft, chewy, creamy, bitter, refreshing, filling – the beautiful texture and flavors in this irresistible salad make for a well-balanced meal complete with healthy, whole-grain carbs, plant-based proteins, and ample fat for satiety.

Here is the original recipe which uses cilantro and Greek yogurt instead of my substitution of mint and coconut kefir. Also, avocado doesn’t hold up well overnight and, since this salad just gets better over time, I decided to leave it out.

watermelon radishes

Watermelon radishes.

1 cup pearled farro (or short-grain brown rice, if gluten-free)

1 cup black beans

1 cup cannellini beans

5-6 radishes, sliced paper thin (good luck), then half-mooned

1/2 apple, sliced into matchsticks (the thinner the better), then halved

Salt & Pepper

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

Dressing:

bean & farro salad w kale

Served on a bed of marinated kale.

3 TBSP rice vinegar

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

1/2 apple, cored

3 TBSP olive oil

Handful of mint

1/4 of a shallot

Pinch of sea salt & fresh-ground black pepper

2 TBSP coconut kefir

Place 1 cup farro and 2.5 cups water in rice cooker. Press ‘cook’ button (I love rice cookers!). Or pot-boil with 3 cups water for about 15-20 mins and drain excess water when done. Drain and rinse beans, if using canned beans. Place beans in large bowl with salt & pepper. Thinly slice apples and radishes. Add radishes to bowl with beans. Place apples in separate bowl with lemon juice. When farro is done, cool in refrigerator. In the meantime, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in the food processor. When farro is cooled, add to large bowl of beans and radishes. Add in the sliced apples, remaining mint leaves, and dressing. Mix well.

Enjoy on a bed of kale (marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt) or wrapped in a romaine leaf or just as it is.

Nutritional Info: 8oz (~1 cup) serving = 288 kcals, 8g fat, 40g total carbs (8g fiber), 8g protein. With 60% carbs, 30% fats, and 10% protein, I think this salad is perfectly balanced.

Cleanse – Day 4

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Yoga on May 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm
tea

All tea. All day.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~Albert Einstein

I awoke feeeling rested on Day 4, aka All Tea, All Day, and, as a I made tea and sat down to meditate, I had every intention of writing (well, maybe I ‘planned’ it…) after I got up from my meditation cushion. Instead I ended up checking email, facebook, twitter…anything but starting to write. Although I was rested, I didn’t feel super sharp or motivated. At my morning yoga class I had a deep meditative experience and found myself very present with all that I was doing and with whom I was interacting. It’s an amazing experience. I felt so full and engaged and “ON”. Like everything I’m feeling and doing at that moment is exactly what should be happening and all of my energy and attention is a laser beam to the present moment. It’s the elusive “FLOW” and I want to live there always.

As a result of my amazing yoga class, I felt very energetic and alert when, after a quick stop for avocados and lemons, I returned home and started on food prep for the next 3 days of the cleanse. The 3 days following All Tea, All Day are known as the Raw Days where I would be eating only raw fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, a bit of raw honey and cold-pressed plant oils, as well as plenty of fresh-pressed fruit & veggie juices. Additionally, I would be entering that 1/2 of my week know as “full-on, single-parenting” and I needed to have a stocked fridge or I wouldn’t eat often enough to keep me pleasant towards my children or have enough variety to keep me interested in sticking with the cleanse.

stocked fridge

Prepared for the raw days of the cleanse.

While making my raw food staples, Chakra Salad and Salmonberry Spread, I rocked out to the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Who didn’t love the song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ when they were a kid? I thought it was the most imaginative and wacky adult song I had ever heard (it all made sense once I got to college!). And it is still a fun song to sing along to even with all that talk about tangerine skies and marshmallow pies fueling my appetite.

yogi teabag

Yogi Tea tags are my fortune cookies.

I felt very productive as I admired my stocked fridge and satisfied that I was able to kill 2-3 hours. And then it crept in. Now what? Sure, I could’ve filled my time with any numerous productive activities that may or may not have needed to get done. But they would have been distractions, another opportunity to not still myself, to not feel the feelings that I’d stuffed inside yesterday or last year or the last decade. I had wanted to cleanse myself physically and emotionally but I was also scared of truly letting go. My mind was saying “your kids will be back in 4 hours, get some stuff done before then. Make sure you’re ‘prepared’.” What does that mean anyway? Prepared? Isn’t it part of the Boy Scouts’ motto? Prepared means you are focused on the future. You are anticipating how it will turn out and what ‘things’ you will need for these future expectations. If you are prepared, you’ve done some planning.

I consider myself in recovery from ‘excessive planning disease’ which reached epic proportions when I become a mother twice within 18 months. I do believe some planning and preparation is necessary in life (I had just finished food prep for the next 3 days!) but it is so easy to get all self-righteous and control-freaky about planning. And, for me, it takes some serious mindfulness to ACTIVELY NOT PLAN my entire life away. Allowing myself the freedom for spontaneity and synchronicity to bubble up, taking equal precedence in my life, has opened me to some of the greatest opportunities for joy and playfulness that I’ve experienced since becoming so ‘adult’ about everything. This excerpt from the poem “What to Remember When Waking” by David Whyte sums it up for me: “…what you can plan is too small for you to live…”.

IMG_3503

Listen to your heart. Eat chocolate.

When my heart said to me “the best way you can ‘prepare’ is nurture yourself right now”, I followed my heart’s advice into a steaming, hot, bubble bath at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon! As I soaked in the bath I was conscious of how my body felt as it was supported and surrounded by the hot water. The scalding heat. The tickle-y bubbles. The slippery wetness. Conscious breathing took me deeper into my body as I inhaled the lavender scent of the bubbles and felt my muscles release and relax into the bath.

My mind, trying to rationalize as always, said, “of course! this is exactly what you needed to ‘prepare’.” But I wasn’t taking the bath to prepare myself for anything. I was taking the bath because it was most supportive thing I could do at that moment. Letting go and slowing down my breathing, along with my mind, allowed to me uncover messages, insights, epiphanies, aha moments, knowing, whatever it is that you want to call those magical, heart-centered moments, and then I could continue to stumble along…a little bit closer to those desires to which I’m being guided.

Red Velvet Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe, Yoga on May 16, 2013 at 10:03 pm
IMG_3407

Beet root, red lentils, tri-color quinoa.

I honestly cannot find the original source for this recipe which is a shame because I did not modify it at all (except for the name!). It is simple and brilliant just as it is. I’ve made it for two SoupAsana groups and was met with rave reviews. Both times, during the prep and cook process, I was skeptical due to the color and consistency but once I started simmering the spices in coconut oil, I knew everything was going to turn out just fine 🙂 Beautifully-colored and deliciously-edible, this soup is high in fiber, antioxidants, folate, and iron. Even more delicious served with corn muffins.

Ingredients:

boiled-over pot

A watched pot never boils but an un-watched pot boils over!

1 cup dried red lentils
½ cup quinoa
1 medium beet root, grated
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
¼ cup diced red onion
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric powder

Garnish w lime wedges, rock salt, honey Greek yogurt or feta

beet lentil stew

Stew topped with feta and lime

Place lentils, quinoa, grated beet, ginger, onion, bay leaf and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Heat coconut oil in a small pan. Add cumin seeds, coriander, and turmeric and lightly saute for 1-3 minutes on medium heat (making sure they don’t burn). Add to stew…do a little taste taste…perhaps add fresh ground pepper and/or tamari.

Salmonberry Bars

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 16, 2013 at 6:40 am

salmonberry barI never liked PowerBars. I didn’t like the taffy-like texture or artificial flavor. Trail mix wasn’t hip enough and was way too ubiquitous during my childhood in the 70s. So I was really excited when the ClifBar was invented. In the 90s, I did a lot of backpacking and ate a lot of ClifBars. Then I realized, maybe I should be eating LunaBars, they’re for women, right? Those quickly became sickeningly sweet and aren’t even remotely healthy so I gave up on bars altogether until…the Larabar. Just dates, nuts, dried fruit, and maybe some spices. Simple and healthy and my kids loved them too. Recently, I discovered that Larabar was bought by General Mills who is against GMO labeling and just generally has some crappy products they try to sell as “food” (2 thumbs up for Cheerios, though!).

I prefer to buy from local companies with whom I agree on issues that are important to me (you may not care about GMOs or the consolidation of food production/manufacturing). Anyway, I’ve found two locally-made bars that get the ‘healthy’ nod when my kids ask to eat them: Perfect Foods Bar and Earnest Eats. in processorNow I’ve attempted to make my own bar based on my taste preferences and maniacal need to make everything healthier. Introducing the Salmonberry Bar!

Things got a bit sketchy and I was skeptical about my ability to pull these off. But I totally surprised myself with this one. Not too sweet and with some subtle, sophisticated flavors…watch out KindBars, I’m taking over the local Starbucks – ha!

Process until smooth:

1/2 cup pitted dates

1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, or peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

Add: ~3/4 cups hot water, to thin mixture

bar ingredientsAdd in the following:

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp finely ground espresso

1 tsp allspice

2 TBSP chia seeds

2 TBSP finely shredded, unsweetened coconut

Add and process lightly:

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup cashews

Remove mixture from processor and into mixing bowl with:

2 cups rolled oats or buckwheat groats

Mix well with wooden spoon and spread mixture on greased, baking sheet. Press down with greased spatula so mixture is about 1/4-inch high.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

After baking, sprinkle with sesame seeds and press them into mixture with the back of a greased spatula. Let cool completely and cut into 1-inch-squares. Makes ~30 bars.

1 bar = 167 kcals, 4g protein, 9g fat, 2g fiber, 13g total carbs, 8g sugars

I would’ve have preferred this bar to be higher in fiber but I feel good about the sugars (from honey & dates). The texture is perfect and it is only mildly sweet and very filling. However, the clean-up was a pain (goopy dates and nut butter stuck to my processor blade!). I honestly don’t know if it was worth the effort in the kitchen because I spotted these in the bulk bins at Whole Foods for only $7.99/pound: Carob Energee Nuggets. They are almost exactly the same nutritionally and look eerily similar to my bars…has someone been spying on the Salmonberry kitchen??

carob energeen nuggets nutrition

Same calories, fat, carbs, protein, & fiber.

carob energee bars

Looks – and tastes – delicious!

Cleanse – Day 3

In Mindfulness on May 6, 2013 at 5:39 am

roses and workWork is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.” ~George MacDonald

I woke up feeling fabulous on Day 3 despite having agreed to teach an early morning vinyasa class (not my specialty).  At 730am, I head to La Jolla Yoga Center after green juice and a smallish bowl of soup. The class was a bit awkward because my playlist would get stuck on a song eliciting exasperated you’re-wasting-my-$20-and-75-minutes stares while I tried to simultaneously instruct and manage the music. It seems that my tech savviness is rapidly decreasing as I approach 40. Becoming a yoga teacher has been a test of my willingness to continually expose myself as I lead a group to some unspoken place that is unique to each individual. I’m guessing and I’m doing my best and feeling my way through it but on some days it’s just not all that neat and tidy. This is a vulnerable place to be but I much prefer this place rather than hiding behind the possibilities and potentialities of my life.

As part of my cleanse I had decided to hire someone to spring clean my house – something I haven’t been able to do since I was separated – and get a facial. These decisions felt so indulgent that I didn’t even care as I ate my 10th bowl of soup in 3 days (I’m not really counting). I was probably drinking juice too…I can’t remember…anyway, Day 3 was more about pampering myself and my home and letting others do the work for me.

IMG_3774

Organic, locally-roasted, caffeinated coffee.

When I’m on a cleanse, my senses are heightened and everything around me looks so much more vibrant  and defined. I see more, I smell more, I hear more. It makes walking around town on a busy, sunny day like a marvelous adventure. While running errands, I managed to buy a decaf coffee without purchasing a scone but then the coffee tasted quite flat. My tastebuds were so sensitive that I couldn’t deny the badness of decaf. I really love coffee and will be going right back to drinking it after this cleanse but I have to admit that it feels empowering to not NEED the coffee each morning. I’ve discovered I actually can handle my mornings without the caffeine crutch (hats off to all of you who do it everyday). Coffee is a soothing morning ritual for me. It’s also one of the smells of my childhood (coffee, sawdust, and salt air). As a child my parents were often building, finishing, or remodeling the houses we lived in – and we lived on the bay – and there was always a pot of coffee brewing while they were up late staining hardwood floors or painting trim and listening to the Beatles or Bob Dylan. To make up for the flat decaf, I treated myself to an orange-carrot-ginger juice which was like candy to my all-veggies-all-day-tongue and headed to back to the house to get some more work done.

It’s important to take care of yourself inside and out during a cleanse as your physical body and your surroundings are a reflection of what is going on inside you on an emotional level. And having the abundance to get a facial as well as spring-clean my home felt absolutely in alignment with all the cleansing I was doing internally. With physical cleanses come emotional cleanses and before I got into the salon, I broke down sobbing. I was painfully aware of the thoughts and emotions associated with my crying but I was not aware of what triggered these thoughts and emotions. It wasn’t anything I had just heard or saw and, worse, it wasn’t a new emotion about a new issue. It was a recycled emotion or issue that I thought I was long past. Clearly, I wasn’t past it and had to let it move through me. So I did. And I felt lighter. Exactly what I had been aiming for on this cleanse.