Start your year and EVERY day right with these breakfast ideas:
Fruit salad - Combine your favorite seasonal fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, bananas, pineapple, or kiwi, and eat as is or topped with fresh squeezed lime juice, shredded coconut, hemp seeds, nuts and a drizzle of agave.
Smoothies - Throw all the ingredients in the blender the night before, blend in the AM, pour into a Nalgene bottle or reuse a plastic cup and enjoy. Be creative. You can use a base of water, juice, coconut milk or homemade almond milk, then add fresh or frozen fruit, wheat germ/flax/chia/hemp seeds, nut butters or nuts, sunflower seeds, spirulina and a sweetener such as dates, agave or maple syrup.
Or try one of my creations which in just one serving has 13 g Fiber, 14 g Protein, over 1,000 mg Potassium, 45% Calcium, 25% Vitamin D, 17% Vitamin C, 16% Iron, as well as many other vitamins and minerals:
FUNKY MONKEY SMOOTHIE: 1/4 cup chopped dates, 1 banana, 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter, 1/8 cup ground flax seed, 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt, 1/4 cup water. Place all in blender and puree.
Oatmeal - Again this can be prepped at night by placing water in a saucepan on the stove and setting out the measured cup of oatmeal with some raisins or dates added to it. In the morning bring water to a boil, place oatmeal and dried fruit in the pan and let simmer while you are doing something else. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cloves, along with chopped nuts and seeds for added nutrients. Sweeten or add a liquid of choice.
Coconut Yogurt and Muesli/Granola - Bob's Red Mill makes a pure delicious muesli or you can try making your own. The night before or first thing in the morning combine muesli with yogurt and let soak. You can add chopped fruit or use coconut/almond milk instead of the yogurt. For granola, just add yogurt, milk or try with orange juice, the way I sometimes like it.
French Toast, Pancakes, Waffles - Try making your own whole grain bread and use leftovers for french toast. Or make your own wholegrain or gluten free pancake/waffle base to have on hand. Combine dry ingredients and place in an airtight container in the freezer. Just add wet ingredients when you are ready to make them.
A new hearty Pancake/Waffle Recipe I developed this month, which serves about 3 and has 10 g Fiber and 8 g Protein per serving, consists of:
1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup ground flax, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp honey, 3/4 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/4 cup water, 1 Tbsp safflower oil, 1/4 -1/2 tsp almond extract, and frozen raspberries.
I mixed all the dry in one bowl, the wet in another, and then blended the two until just combined. Pour in a waffle maker or make pancakes and press raspberries into the batter before flipping sides. Top with applesauce or maple syrup, toasted nuts and seeds, or fresh fruit.
Oh happy delicious day to you!!
Here is a list of the basics needed to cook up delicious and nutritious plant based meals:
GRAINS: Brown rice, wild rice, rolled oats, quinoa, cornmeal, buckwheat grouts and flour, spelt or whole wheat flour; moderate use of whole-grain pasta, soba noodles, rice noodles, couscous, bulgur.
LEGUMES: Dried, low-sodium preservative free canned, frozen or fresh - black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, white/navy beans, adzuki beans, green beans, wax beans, lima beans, lentils, split peas, sweet peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas, edamame.
NUTS AND SEEDS: Unsalted and raw nuts - walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios. Unsalted and raw seeds - sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame.
SPECIALTY FOODS: Preservative free coconut milk, pure peanut or almond butter (no hydrogenated oils, sugar, or preservatives added), capers, olives, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, unsulphured dried fruits - apricots, figs, raisins, dates, prunes.
OILS, CONDIMENTS, AND SEASONINGS: Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling or dressings, olive oil for cooking, sesame oil, flax oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, vinegars - balsamic/white wine/red wine/rice/apple cider/white, nama shoyu/tamari, tahini, maple syrup/agave nectar, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard.
HERBS AND SPICES: Sea salt, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, ground coriander, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, dry and fresh ginger root, cardamom, dill, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, garlic, onion.
FRUIT: Seasonal fresh or frozen fruits to your liking - apples, avocados, pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, berries, peaches, plums, kiwi, pineapple, mango, melon, grapes, etc. Keep a fresh supply for quick snacks. Also, good to have on hand are lemons and limes for cooking with their juices.
VEGETABLES: Items used often- green onions, potatoes - red/yukon/russet/sweet, bell peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, greens - mixed lettuce/arugula/chard/kale/spinach, fresh herbs - parsley/basil/mint/cilantro/rosemary. Keep a fresh supply of local, seasonal vegetables for your meals. Mix it up and try to get a good variety in your diet - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, mushrooms, seaweeds. cucumber, eggplant, brussel sprouts, radishes, beets, asparagus, leeks.
Most grocery stores and even super Target and Wal-Mart are carrying organic and high quality foods now. And surprisingly you can get gourmet foods at places like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, and Job Lots. Happy shopping!
It’s the New Year and you want to make healthy living your new norm. This means developing habits that nourish and fuel your body so that you can wake up every day ready to positively take the world on. You want to live life to its fullest, adventure, be wild, feel energized and exude vitality right?! Yes!
Here are 5 new habits to get you there this year:
Habit #1 – Wake up, fuel up.
Start the day first and foremost in gratitude that you are alive. Deep breath, stretch, smile. This day is gonna be awesome. Ditch the coffee and try a hot lemon water with a pinch of cayenne. Your cells with plump up and say thank you. Make yourself a pot of warm oatmeal with banana, cinnamon, walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.
You just owned this morning.
Habit #2 – Stop the rush, sit down, chew your food.
Yes I said it. Sit down, take another deep breath, and enjoy doing nothing but eating your lunch mindfully. This may seem weird to you (and your co-workers) at first, but you will come to enjoy this once you notice how well your body digests and utilizes nutrients when you are relaxed and actually chew your food.
Take THAT mid-day slump.
Habit #3 – Bypass the office cookies, eat a healthy snack.
Now that you started your day right and ate a healthy lunch you will want to continue the good feeling by powering up the mid-day with energy boosting snacks. Try making your own granola bars, trail mix or other homemade energy snack. These types of snacks will give you the boost you need to get you ready for the after work marathon/indoor climbing/cross training session (insert whatever kick butt activity you like).
Afternoon adventure, here I come.
Habit #4 – Refuel from your kick butt after work activity.
Your body loves protein after a good workout so hydrate with lots of lemon or cucumber water (yes it sounds spa like, but your body will love you if you add cucumber slices to your water bottle), then make a protein packed smoothie. Good choices include banana, peanut butter and almond milk or strawberry, banana, and almond butter with spinach, chia and either hemp/whey added.
Feeling strong, loving life.
Habit #5 – Relax, nourish, love.
You made it through the day full of vitality so now it is time to relax and nourish your body. This may mean something different for everyone. What does it mean for you? Maybe a yoga session, meditation, tea at a local café with friends, drawing, taking a bath, reading, playing music, watching football, cooking…. Whatever it is take time to do it. Wind your body down, nourish it with good food, and express love.
Man this day was awesome.
So there you are. Five simple habits to living this year and every year full of vitality, adventure, love, and life. Now go positively take the world on!
Tonight I decided to end my last Wednesday of 2016 with an auspicious and adventurous meal.
I scanned through my favorite raw food recipe book, "Raw Food for Everyone" by Alissa Cohen and decided upon a dish called Buddha Bowl. Buddha is the enlightened one so I thought maybe this meal would bring me some good luck and enlightenment in the new year. Wishful thinking!
The dish consists of what Cohen considers a broth of dates, fresh ginger, scallions, jalapeno chili, garlic, and coconut milk (its consistency did not remind me of broth but rather of a thick creamy sauce) and a variety of mixed fruits and vegetables that are tossed into the broth.
Produce such as ripe mango, avocado, daikon, carrots, spouted mung beans, bok choy, snow peas, and fresh herbs were included. I took her basic recipe and cut down the amounts in the broth, deleted the jalapeno chili and added red chili pepper flakes, and used sugar snap peas instead of snow peas (which was not a good idea because sugar snap peas are too fibrous raw).
The dish looked lovely and tasted good, but really did not speak to me. I realized that as much as I enjoy raw desserts year round, I do not enjoy raw meals in the winter in New England. So, I decided to be creative and cook this meal instead.
I heated some oil in a stir-fry pan and added the cut up daikon, carrots, sprouted mung beans, bok choy leaves, sugar snap peas (much better cooked!), mint, and cilantro. I left out the mango and avocado all together and added baby spinach.
This stir-fried for a few minutes, then I added the original broth mixture along with peanut butter and cayenne. The result was much more to my liking. The warm, lightly cooked food felt better in my body and I really enjoyed the added peanut flavor.
Tonight's meal reminded me to listen to the needs of my tastebuds AND my body. I used a recipe as a guideline but added my own creativity and a little adventure to create something that was delicious and nourishing.
In this new year I hope you experience good luck, nourishement, and adventure in the kitchen as well as in every part of your life. Get creative, have fun, listen to your body and COOK, COOK, COOK!
In the spirit of Christmas I am writing this article on the vivacious and marvelous sunflower, which in my opinion is one of nature's most precious gifts.
I am thankful for its sunny characteristic that consistently brings a smile to my face and fills my spirit with joy. How can one not be fascinated by this unique flower that continuously seeks out the sun. It reminds me of how we should live...by always seeking the sunny side of life.
The sunflower, Helianthus Annus, originated in the American southwest and was eventually brought to Europe and other parts of the world to cultivate. This amazing plant is used not only in the cut flower industry but also for its oil and seeds. The sunflower head is actually a composite of hundreds of tiny flowers which mature into fruits which are what we know as the "seeds." The outer covering of the "seed" is inedible and the inner part is the true seed which we can eat.
Sunflower seeds contribute a wealth of nutrition to us in the form of essential fatty acids (the good fats), vitamin E, protein, fiber, phytochemicals, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc, folate, and iron. These little guys are great for boosting the immune system due to their high content of antioxidants.
Can you believe these tiny little things give us so much? Seeds are truly the spark of life giving us everything we need for vitality, so it is important to incorporate more of them in our diets.
Some ideas on how to incorporate these nutritional powerhouses in your diet include simply snacking on them (in small amounts as they are concentrated in fats), tossing them on salads or in cereals, adding them to stir-fry or grain dishes, and incorporating them into granola or trail mixes.
You can experiment with them and substitute sunflower seeds for other ingredients such as pine nuts in pesto. Here is a simple homemade granola bar recipe that you can make for your family or give away for holiday gifts this season:
Homemade Granola Bars - makes about 5 or 6 bars
1/4 cup raw honey, agave or brown rice syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats (not quick!)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
pinch of ground cinnamon - or more to taste
In a sauce pan over low temp heat honey with peanut butter until blended. Remove from heat and add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine rolled oats, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and a pinch of cinnamon. Add the warm wet mix to the dry and stir evenly.
Lightly spray a loaf pan with cooking spry and press the mix evenly in it. Let dry and cut into bars. Simple, healthy, and quick! You can be creative with this recipe and add other ingredients as you like.
So now that your ready to go out and buy sunflower seeds let me add a quick note on how to buy and store them because they can go rancid quite quickly. Purchase raw hulled sunflower seeds from stores with high turnover. Store them in a dark glass bottle in the fridge.
You can sprout the seeds and then roast/cook them for easier digestion. Lightly roasting the seeds can reduce the effects of rancidity. Other than that, go ahead and enjoy nature's gift to us. Happy Holidays!!!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.