I recently went (back) to New York to meet my precious and plummy new nephew, Emmett Ray...
Spending a few days with this sweet bundle in my old stomping grounds has been the highlight of my Summer so far. Between heartbreakingly sweet baby Emmett (congrats sissy!) and steamy summery New York, I literally melted. While the rest of the world is experiencing blistering Summer temps, Fog City SF to the contrary, is a hazy shade of a sort of winter for better or worse. [We recently celebrated my boyfriend's August birthday at the park where we welcomed friends (with chattering teeth and frosted limbs turned purplish by the end) with a picnic spread and croquet... Lovely in theory but quite sad it was that the sun never shone.] To all those enjoying your Summer months and striving to keep cool, here are top foods to help you do just that:
Superfood. Nutritional Powerhouse. Goes with everything..
Dark Leafy Greens are your smart fuel. You will not run or function with it. Packed with minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber, greens boost all sorts of health from eyes, skin, teeth and aging- as well as prevent cognitive decline, heart disease and cancers. All in all, the perfect summer- well, all-year-round fuel food.
These little red roots are super detoxifying as it purifies the blood and cleans the kidneys due to its diuretic and disinfectant nature. Super high in water content, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, Radishes are the choice Summer food to include in your daily meals to keep you satisfyingly satiated, nourished and cool- not to mention keeping your skin moisturized. Yes, foods high in water content can do just that!
Are you cool as a cucumber? Well get on it. Never without fail, these vitamin and antioxidant-rich veggies are the first thing in my juicer each morning, along with other greens. Cuc's have 96% water content, thus allowing for toxin-flushing, body temp and blood pressure regulating and super hydration- leaving you feeling refreshed and your skin glowing.
There's not enough space in this tiny box to tell you the many wonderful health benefits of berries, but suffice it to say that aside from being rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, dietary fiber, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties such as Manganese, bone-strengthening minerals such as Potassium, Magnesium and Vitamin K, berries are high in water content- not to mention incredibly, deliciously sweet- thus making them one of the best Summer foods. Ever.
Mint is SUCH a cool herb. Literally. It's kind of an amazingly mighty plant that does such neat things for you. Just due to its beautiful aroma, Mint facilitates good digestion, fights nausea and headaches, relieves stuffed up passages and congestion and other respiratory disorders, and fights bad breath. Ever tried minty gum or toothpaste? They're sure to freshen you up. Mint oil is also a great antiseptic, and can be used to soothe the skin, insect bites, itching and even acne.
I love this time of year when Spring turns into the early days of Summer. And with that I bring you a creamy cruciferous soup that is a guaranteed crowd (and belly) pleaser- and perfect for a light but hearty, and early Summer dinner. Cauliflower is totally underrated but they provide excellent digestive and detox support what with the mighty amounts of antioxidants, omega 3's, dietary fiber, protein, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin K- which regulate inflammation. Don't take antioxidants for granted, for they protect you against free-radical damage and other diseases caused by oxidative stress like cardiovascular ailments and cancer! Other veggies in the cruciferous kingdom include broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards- all which have a compact head consisting of a central stalk with flower buds.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
1 Head Organic Cauliflower
1" piece of Ginger
1 small Yellow Onion
2 small Organic Potatoes (optional! I skipped this go-to move and it still turned out plenty creamy and hearty)
1 Tbsp Organic Miso Paste
1 Tbsp Gluten-Free Tamari Sauce (use a splash of this and boom, no salt required)
Black Pepper and Parseley to top
Boil the first 4 ingredients together in a pot for 30 minutes over medium heat. Drain water, and transfer from pot to a blender. Blend on high for 1 whole minute. If you have a less than turbo blender, stop occasionally to scrape down sides and give it little stir. Then blend some more until creamy consistency is achieved. Transfer directly to bowl and drizzle over olive oil and sprinkle in some black pepper and chopped parsley.
ENJOY, and happy early Summer!
As taken from Yoga Mint
, check out this delicious tidbit about the wonders of Cacao:
Nicknamed “black gold” by the Spaniards, raw cacao powder and cacao nibs boast very high antioxidant ratings, higher than goji berries, acai berries and blueberries
, which are also great sources of antioxidants. Cultivated by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, cacao was so rare it was used as currency and given as gifts on special occasions or religious ceremonies. The Aztecs blended their chocolate with chile, vanilla and honey
For hundreds of years, cacao was used to improve digestion and stimulate kidney and bowel function, as well as a treatment for anemia, fatigue, fever, low sex drive, respiratory troubles, poor appetite and low breast milk production. Ground cacao beans were mixed with oil or butter to treat skin conditions. Today, you can find cacao in beauty aids and skin moisturizers—and of course, in the chocolate confections we all love. Enjoy raw cacao nibs
for a nutritious, vegan snack to get the taste of chocolate without the sugar!
Nuts are crazy awesome. Versatile, flavorful and nutrient-dense
, they're easily the biggest protein source for me on a daily basis. How can one eat so many nuts? Let me count thy ways. They don't have to be straight out of the bag. Nuts are great as a 'pate
' or in this case, as nut butter for slathering on morning toast finished with your fav jelly. Remember my old post on why it's advised to soak nuts
? It's the best way to destroy enzyme inhibitors that allow us to fully digest and take in nutrients from the nuts. The other method is to roast them....
Homemade Almond Butter
1 cup Raw, Unroasted, Unsalted Almonds
First, roast the almonds by placing them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until slightly darker and fragrant. Let cool (30 min), then transfer almonds to a Vitamix, food processor or blender, and blend on high for 2 minutes until almonds are ground to a fine powder. Keep blending until a smoothy and creamy paste forms (another 2 minutes), but be sure to stop the machine for a minute so it doesn't burn out and to scrape down sides. Keep repeating these steps. Add a little salt to taste, slather over toast along with a spoonful of jelly!
Enter, the Sesame Seed.. Small in shape but loaded with goodness, these nutty seeds contains substances that belong to a group of fibers called lignans, which lower cholesterol. Due to its high levels of copper they are a wonderful ant-inflammatory food and can be beneficial for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Copper also activates an enzyme necessary for building elastin and collagen, which provides structure and elasticity to the bones and joints. In the hull of the seeds are loads of calcium, which is a mighty mineral that lowers blood pressure, reduces migraines (which are caused by blood vessel spasms) and builds bone structure and overall health.
Grind up some Sesame Seeds with a bit of oil to make Tahini Dressing, a wonderfully tasty Middle Eastern fundamental.Drizzle over a boring salad and bam, best salad ever it becomes..
Here's how easy it is:
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Olive or Unrefined, untoasted Sesame Oil
1/8 cup Water (or more depending on desired consistency)
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp Sea Salt
In a food processor (or blender) grind Sesame Seeds until smooth, then add in Oil and Salt. Slowly add in water and lemon juice, blending until smooth. Enjoy over everything...
Fall's my fav. I love it all- the leaves, the boots, the colors, the crisp- and in my case (since I live in SF), I love it bc it's Summertime. Some of the most glorious days occur during this time of year.. like this weekend for example. 2 beach days in a row? Stupid amazing.
I especially love the seasonal squash- mainly the varieties of odd sizes and shapes and their numerous, tremendous health benefits. How beneficial? Let me count thy ways.
There are Summer squash (like zucchini) and darker Winter squash (like Acorn, Butternut, Kabocha, Pumpkin and Spaghetti). The Summer kind contain much more water than the denser Winter variety; therefore the latter is packed with more nutrients. But really, all squash are rich in Carotene (that which helps prevent cancer and disease, high blood pressure and diabetes), Vitamin C and the B's- those which toughen up the immune system and prevent allergies as well as damaging effects of stress on the body. Lest we not forget how sweet the squash are. Adding some of this heart-healthy, rich, sweet squash to your dish makes for a balanced meal and leaves one not craving dessert so much. Try it!
Even though today's summery high temps called for a huge tangy salad to go with my sundress, I've really been in Fall- mode, and prepping for it since Fashion Week hit NY last month. Add to that the fact that I've been loading up on stew type ingredients in the Kitchen for the perfect thing to eat this season.
So I took to it. I made a stew. I loved it. It felt just the right bit of cozy on this incredibly mild night. I even enjoyed it up on my roof for a romantic sunset dinner.
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
1 lb. Squash of choice ( I used Kabocha; slice/cut off skin with a knife; then cut into small pieces)
3 Organic baby Potatoes, diced
1/2 cup Organic Chickpeas
2 Organic Tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup Veggie Broth
1/2 cup Green Olives in sea salt and water
1 Cinnamon stick (a wonderful anti-microbial food, but also gives the stew a beautiful flavor; you'll thank me for this)
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Turmeric
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a pot, heat oil and stir in onions and cook till translucent (about 3 min). Add in potatoes and squash, stirring together. Then come the tomatoes, broth, cinnamon and chickpeas. Stir up, cover and cook over low heat till squash is soft (about 15 min). Add in spices, salt and pepper. Turn off heat, throw in olives. Mix it up and serve over cooked grains of choice (I used brown + wild rice).
To make the meal even sweeter, the sunset from my roof was off the hinges.
Cheerio to a fun-filled summery-fall weekend...
Nightshades have a bad rep: there are a lot of anecdotal references which claim that nightshade veggies such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes exacerbate joint inflammation due to their levels of alkaloids- which are naturally occurring chemicals produced by plants as primarily a means of self-defense from insects. There are a lot of members in the nightshade family but the most popular ones are the 3 noted above...
Generally, nightshades should probably be avoided by those who suffer from Gout- which is a type of Arthritis where uric acid builds up in the joints and causes pain, swelling and inflammation. However there is not an exact science; everybody is built differently and needless to say, some are more sensitive to certain food than others. The best way to test this is to add or remove items from his/her diet and be vigilantly observant of what changes ensue or not. There is such a thing as eating something every once in a while; that's generally the approach I regularly implement.
Here's what you don't know about this particular nightshade that I'm so intrigued by: Eggplant provides a rich source of folic acid and potassium- nutrients that are incidentally necessary for pregnant women. They contain a multitude of vitamins and phytonutrients, and are a major source of cardio-protective fiber, Vitamin C/K/B6 and folate- not to mention big time antioxidants which naturalize free radical activity in the body. All this to say that eggplant in all its nutrient-dense properties helps keep blood sugar in check, helps lower cholesterol levels, improves the flexibility of blood vessels, and aids in digestive function.
The makings of a saucy saute!
Here's what I whipped up with early-fall CSA bounty!
1/2 an Eggplant, sliced (reference 1st photo), then cut into bite size pieces
2 Organic Tomatoes, chopped
1 Organic Zucchini, chopped or spiralized (I did the latter and loved its noodly flair in this dish)
1/4 cup Fennel leaves
1 Shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Gluten-free Soy Sauce
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Sprinkles of Black Pepper
Optional: 1/2 cup Brown Rice OR 1- 8oz. Package of Quinoa Pasta (I mixed in some tri-color Quinoa Fusili into the mix last minute and loved it)
In a skillet, heat up 3 tablespoons of Grapeseed or Olive Oil for 3 minutes and throw in garlic and shallot/onion till onions are translucent. Throw in eggplant and tomatoes (AND zucchini- only if using them chopped; if using them as spiralized, throw in later); cover and let cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients: fennel leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne and soy sauce. Now is when you toss in spiralized zucchini (like I did above). Stop right here if you want to enjoy this as a saute- it's smoking good looking and yummy. To add a little more heartiness, serve with a side of cooked Brown Rice or throw in cooked pasta noodles like I did above; whether served with gluten-free carbo's or just alone, this is such a warm and winning Fall dish.
A bouquet of Basil arrived in my CSA and I was floored to get the rare and beautiful purple variety. I can't get enough of this plant: not only does its unique aroma and flavor enhance all pasta dishes, but the health benefits are tremendous. A super anti-bacterial herb, Basil provides protection at the cellular level, protecting cell structure and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. It also contains a bunch of cool "volatile" oils that qualify the plant as an anti-inflammatory food, protect against unwanted bacterial growth, and is a great source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene (a powerful anti-oxidant which prevents free-radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in your blood stream), Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium. Now that's quite a mighty plant looking out for you!
If you can't tell, we eat a lot of (Quinoa) Spaghetti
in our household, mainly because it's simple (and quick and healthy and always delicious and exciting every time). The Basil bouquet inspired me for this version and bam, along came this very simple, homemade pasta sauce:Tomato-Basil sauce with Summer Squash and Fennel
4 Organic Tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup Basil leaves (green OR purple-- if you're ever so lucky)
2 Yellow Summer Squash, sliced
2 small Fennel stalks, chopped (use leaves as well)
1 small Shallot, chopped
1 big Garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. Sea Salt
2 tsp. Oregano
1 8oz. package of Quinoa Spaghetti
, cooked and drained
2 Tbsp Oil (Olive or Grapeseed)
In a skillet, cook Garlic and Shallot in Oil for 3 minutes, till the smell just gets you. Add in chopped Tomatoes, stir and let cook over low heat for 10-12 minutes, till tomatoes are soft and can be crushed with your wooden stirring spoon. Add in Squash and Fennel, stir and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Lastly throw in Basil, salt, Oregano and generous Black Pepper. Let sit over low heat for another 10 minutes. Throw in cooked noodles to skillet of sauce, stir and serve.. Enjoy!
I am a very busy person. I'm resurfacing after a long hiatus (a whole 22 days!) during which time I've been a busy working bee and taking an awesome Summer vacay on the eastern shore
with wonderful humans. A FAQ about me is that I manage two (yes, two) very exciting careers that I loooooove and am so blessed and fulfilled by. I work full time in Interior Design and manage my Wellness business on the side- which entails hanging out with a bunch of cool clients who inspire me daily. A lucky duck I am, but pretty dang busy. But I stay grounded and happy because I am what I eat; and what I eat is simple good food, like, 85% of the time. See? As a Health and Nutrition Coach, I'm not perfect either, but that's not what I'm aiming for. I'm all about the quick, simple and delish. Because if it's not so, who the heck has the time?
Look at these bad boys that showed up in my CSA
this week. I talk about my CSA
a lot, because it's the best thing on earth and the delivery of such bounty every week never gets old; in fact it cheers me up big time.
In addition to being super interestingly freaky cool looking, these delicate, soft, fleshy-on-the-inside summer squashes are super good for you. THE go-to, primary beta-carotene food (yes, THE one for BC, not carrots) they're looooaded with a ton of dietary fiber (great for diabetics and blood sugar regulation), a bunch of B Vitamins and anti-oxidants (move over, Citrus!)- but they're mostly present in the skin, so leave them on.
I came home after a long day of being a busy bee and knew I had little to offer in the kitchen (as in creativity, willingness, time); alas, the freaky cool squash appealed to me so I took to them, right over to the oven for some easy breezy roasting. Try this as a side; you can roast the squash alone or mix with others like Broccoli, which is what I did to get this duper satisfying meal.Roasted Summer Squash and Broccoli
3-4 Squash, sliced 2-3"
1 cup Broccoli heads (do away with stems), halved
1 big clove Garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Turmeric (optional)
Sprinkles of Black Pepper
Layer veggies on baking sheet and massage with oil till evenly coated; sprinkle over spices. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until slight browning occurs. Let cool, sprinkle over black pepper and squeeze over a small wedge of lemon. Serve with some leftover grains (I used cooked Quinoa) and a side of other yummy veggies (I used String beans). And boom. Easy, quick and yum! The family was indeed happy.
I am here for all you other very busy bees who at times feel hopeless in the kitchen; trust me-- it's simpler than you think! Embrace veggies of all colors of the rainbow- even ones you've never heard of or seen before; chop them up and throw them into the oven with garlic. You CANNOT go wrong.
Love spaghetti? Hate the bloat?
Enter: Gluten-Free Quinoa Spaghetti Noodles! It's just like the pasta you've been eating all your life, only, it's loaded with nutrients, tissue-repairing amino acids, protein and minerals; not to mention you'll never be sluggish again post pasta-meal. Your body will actually thank you.
A magical grain hailing from South America, Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) has been considered the 'gold of the Incas' due to its nature of increasing stamina in their warriors. Quinoa is a complete protein, as it is packed with all 9 essential amino acids including lysine- which promotes tissue growth and cell repair. This gluten-free grain is especially great for diabetics and those who suffer from hypertension, migranes and athersclerosis as it contains minerals that relax the blood vessels such as manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper and riboflavin, aka Vitamin B12- which is necessary for proper energy production within cells. Also abundant are the protective phytonutrient called plant lignans, which protect against hormone-dependant cancer and cardiovascular disease. I'm telling you- your body will thank you.
Broccoli, Yellow Peppers, Radishes, Carrots and Spinach (not pictured)
Chop up favorite veggies of choice- or in my case- whatever you have in your fridge to saute and use with noodles. I used yellow peppers, carrots, radishes, spinach and broccoli- which turned out to be a perfect combo. Over low heat, saute veggies in 1-2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil until veggies relax. Sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon each of Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt and Black Pepper. Once noodles are done cooking, drain, rinse and add into skillet of veggies and mix well. Optionally, add in a splash of Gluten-Free Tamari Sauce for extra flavor. Ps- the radishes really rock in this one...
Another easy-breezy, nutritious and delish dinner. Perfect for large-batch making for next-day lunch, btdubs.