Nutty and nice

Whole grainRead health and food magazines. ‘Eat more whole grains’ is the charge. Although nutrition experts recommend increasing dietary fiber, grain confusion and carb-phobic attitudes prevent whole grain intake from being achieved. Why the whole grain buzz in the first place?

First, let’s debunk the fear of carbs. Dieting mentality and the influx of specific eating patterns like high protein, Paleo and gluten-free diets have given carbs a bad rap. Broken down into food examples, fruits and vegetables are mostly carbs as are refined and whole grains. Carb-rich fruits and veggies offer loads of cancer-preventing antioxidants. Inflammation is the foundation of all disease and refined grains contribute to inflammation. Refined grains have been modified to remove bran and germ and offer little nutritional value. Examples are white flour used for cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and snack foods like pretzels and crackers; white rice, white breads, and regular pasta. Whole grains protect against stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, inflammation-driven negative health conditions but also lower blood pressure and promote dental health.

Whole grains contain the complete bran, germ and endosperm and are fiber-filled vessels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, some protein and healthy fats. Common whole grains include quinoa, bulgur, farro, brown rice and oats and can be used to create tantalizing dishes.

If you want to reduce risk of disease and maintain an optimal weight, consider ditching refined “carbs” like sweets, pastries, bagels, crackers, and muffins and toss more fresh veggies and fruit along with whole grains onto your plate. Here’s a delicious start on that journey!


Quinoa, Cauliflower, Cranberries and Nuts

Frozen, pre-cooked quinoa and prepared chopped cauliflower make this an easy weeknight meal!

Quinoa, Cauliflower, Cranberries and NutsIngredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or low-fat chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely copped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts (or chopped almonds or walnuts)

Directions

  1. To cook quinoa, rinse with water and drain. Combine with the vegetable broth in a small pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the cauliflower pieces and water. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes over medium heat until tender.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa to the cauliflower followed by the remaining ingredients. Toss together and serve.

 

 

Up the ante with veggies

Fritta and Veg Crunch SaladA goal of mine as a dietitian ‘that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recommends‘ is variety. Not only does food diversity ensure an abundance of vitamins and minerals, it keeps boredom and dinner ruts at bay.

Epicurious has a brilliant chart for upping vegetables, flavor, and zing into several protein-rich frittata recipes (crustless quiche). The one pictured is brimming with zucchini, mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Alongside is a chopped veggie crunch salad – just make it up as you go along. Finely chop broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, then toss in golden raisins and sunflower seeds. Toss well with a homemade coleslaw or mayo and lemon-type dressing.

This mouth-popping combo makes getting 3 cups of veggies in one day accessible. It’s easy prep and tantalizing, like fireworks in your mouth.

 

 

 

Vegan tomato soup to chase winter’s chill

Vegan Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 46-ounce tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sherry or white balsamic vinegar, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped watercress

Directions

  1. To make cashew cream, soak 1 cup raw cashews in enough water to cover for an hour or longer. Drain, place cashews in a blender or food processor, add ½ – 1 cup water and pulse until blended and creamy.
  2. Dice the onion. Melt the Earth Balance in a large enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven (a large soup pot works too), then sauté until soft and translucent.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and tomato juice, sugar, and vegetable broth powder.
  4. Top with freshly ground black pepper, increase heat to a near boil, them remove pot from heat.
  5. Add the sherry, cashew cream, basil and watercress. Stir until the watercress wilts.
  6. Serve the soup with hunks of warm, crusty French or Italian bread spread thickly with Earth Balance!

 

Bah humbug to New Year’s resolutions

Yes, I mean that. Not because I’m perfect and have no more room for personal growth and expansion. Not at all. But because New Year’s resolutions stink! Resolutions derive from negativity and when we land after not achieving those resolutions, we land HARD. It’s so much worse afterwards.

OK, I wonder if you don’t believe me so tell me this. Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution that was not based 0n negative self-talk, blame, shame and upset over how you chose to live your life the past year? Exactly. (If you have, I’d I’d love to hear from you.) Here are some top resolutions and their negative foundation:

  • I’m not skinny enough. I should lose weight. I’ll buy a scale.
  • My figure isn’t what it used to be. I should exercise more. I’ll check out a gym membership.
  • I have too much stuff. I should quit spending so much money. I’ll never charge anything again.
  • My muscles are weak. I should go to the gym more. I’ll check out a gym membership (ditto).
  • I am not flexible. I should do yoga. I’ll check out yoga studio classes.
  • I have no culture. I should go to museums. I’ll Google what that costs.
  • I’m stressed. I should volunteer more. I’ll Google that, too.
  • My cholesterol is too high. I should quit eating fat. After I eat the rest of the butter…….I’ll buy Olivio.
  • My blood pressure is out of control. I should stop eating salt. I’ll buy some Mrs. Dash.
  • I should be nicer to people. I should take a course at Kripalu. I’ll look them up online.
  • I don’t have enough patience, compassion, tenderness, humor, whatever it is …

When we set resolutions, it’s to ‘fix’ a part of us that is broken or in disrepair or weak or flawed, or so we think.

What would happen if …. wait for it …. if …. we first investigate ourselves from the inside out. We commit to diving in deep, really deep, to see what is good, bright, accessible, clear, pure, and beautiful about us. To see our truth. Then build up those qualities. Build ourselves up from a place that is positive and feels good. To then gain even more clarity, compassion, creativity. Uh-huh, more of that, please.

It’s like eating according to the Plate Method. It’s not about what to take off your plate but what you put on it that begins to change your eating behavior. For instance, instead of saying, “I’ll never eat steak or mashed potatoes again,” in your effort to lose weight (resolution #1) or reduce cholesterol, you say, “I’ll add more carrots, broccoli, dark green leafy salad tossed in salad dressing I made with real olive oil and vinegar.” You might find you get full quicker with these high fiber, high water foods, eaten first, and not have as much room for the protein and starch. You may notice an increase in your energy level and your glowy, showy sparkly side is shinier. You silently begin to see a shift in food choice by taking a positive approach of more please from foods that serve you in a more life-enhancing way. Fruit with yogurt, veggies with the lunch sandwich, add more veggies in the soup, switch to whole grains instead of large portions of starchy foods, and so on.

You get out what you put in. You attract what you send out. It’s pretty simple that way but because we’ve been engrained in punitive feelings toward ourselves, change seems hard. Yet, we commit to failure every January. Start 2016 with negative self-thought even guised in a hopeful resolution and you’ll attract more negative self-thought. After you give up.

Don’t even think to start that way! Begin with self-love, self-compassion, self-adoration. I’m strong and want to feel even stronger. My labs are not too out of range now and I want to be even healthier. I’m a good person and want to share even more of that side of me with the world. There’s so much beauty within me, I want to share it with all. So I’ll:

  • sleep longer
  • eat more whole foods and less processed stuff
  • move my body more in ways that bring me pleasure
  • drink less alcohol and more herbal tea
  • find ways to be creative like painting, singing, doing yoga, jogging, fill in the blank
  • instill any practice that lets me feel more alive and vital, like meditation, skating, hula hooping
  • take 10 minutes several times a day to breathe, feel my body, check my heart, and give thanks.

Onward. See you soon. Update me with your progress. Send me a selfie, please.

IMG_4020

 

10-spice vegetable soup

10-spice soup

The ultimate bowl of comfort food, made with a decadent creamy broth and loaded with an array of health-boosting spices and vegetables. Be sure to soak the cashews in water the night before (or for at least 2 hours) so they are ready when you plan to make the soup.

FOR THE SOUP:

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 6 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potato, regular potato, or butternut squash
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce/796-mL) can diced tomatoes, with their juices (or sub with fresh tomatoes – see blog post for my how-to)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-1  1/2 tablespoons Homemade 10-Spice Blend (recipe follows), to taste
  • Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 cups baby spinach or destemmed torn kale leaves
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or other beans, drained and rinsed (kidney beans are fun too)
HOMEMADE 10-SPICE BLEND (MAKES 1/2 CUP):
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1.  Place cashews in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Soak the cashews overnight, or for at least 2 hours. Drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. In a blender, combine the soaked and drained cashews with 1 cup of vegetable broth and blend on the highest speed until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Season generously with Herbamare or sea salt.
  4. Add the carrots, bell pepper, potato, celery, and diced tomatoes with their juices, the remaining 5 cups broth, the cashew cream, and 1-1.5 tablespoons of 10-spice blend. Stir well to combine . Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and black pepper and add the bay leaves.
  5. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and black pepper. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the spinach/kale and drained beans.
  6. To freeze, ladle the soup into containers (leaving 1-inch for expansion), cool slightly, secure lid and place in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.

Tips: 1) If you don’t wish to make the 10-Spice Blend, feel free to use your favorite store-bought Cajun or Creole seasoning mix and add to taste. 2) You will have leftover spice blend. Store it in a container and keep it handy anytime you want to spice up a dish! It’s great for pasta, soup, tofu seasoning, stir-fry, and more. 3) When thawed, this soup’s broth looks a bit grainy, but rest assured when it’s heated up again it will return to its former smoothness.

From Oh She Glows blog. Verbatim because it’s so good I didn’t have to modify anything!

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/10/02/10-spice-vegetable-soup-freezer-friendly-vegan-gluten-free/#ixzz3utaEz0eH.

Avery Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Books © 2014.

Good Measures