Spiritual Health

Spiritual Health

 

These words from one of my spiritual mentors, Marianne Williamson, have occupied my altar for the last decade or so, and it is only now that I am ready to hear. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you."

This has certainly been true for me, this “playing small so other people won’t feel insecure around me”.

It's a false belief that can feel so true, and at times, can unconsciously drive me to grab for chocolate instead of a salad. 

 This is Ronnie and I doing Equine Therapy at  Take a Chance Ranch with Beth Killough.  He was responding to my open heart, and it was undeniable that when I let go and leaned in to my fear, he was right there mirroring with his heart. So powerful!

This is Ronnie and I doing Equine Therapy at Take a Chance Ranch with Beth Killough. He was responding to my open heart, and it was undeniable that when I let go and leaned in to my fear, he was right there mirroring with his heart. So powerful!

It is only upon reflection that I can connect to a deeper Truth, calling from Beyond.  At first glance, it comes in the form of fear. After burning some sage, and turning my attention inward, there is only the sound of my breath from deep inside my diaphragm. This steady rhythm of movement is what erases my resistance, and leaves me with acceptance; a crucial piece that opens up the door to my freedom. 

I always tell people who want to make changes to their diet, or to their life is to "start from where you are". One of the biggest Blessings of being a Health Coach is that I get to be the student of my own teachings! Starting from where I am means I don't get to start from where I want to be (dammit, really), Ultimately, this acceptance of what IS, and not how I wish things to be gives me the ability to let go of what isn't true, and hear what is calling from Beyond. This is where I find the gratitude to serve in the way I am meant to.

We have all been Created with a unique purpose to offer this often broken, and beautiful world. I am convinced, that the more we let go of our fear, and offer our purpose to others, the more we are filled, and the more others are healed. The more I let go and lean into my fear, the more I am met with a Joy I never expected.

To be Spiritually awake means I cannot ignore what is calling from Beyond, no matter how much I want to.  My Spiritual health depends on honoring my quiet time, telling the truth to my community of friends, and allowing them to love me. From that place, starting from where I am is rooted in love, instead of fear.

What is calling to you from Beyond?

 



Fruity Collard Greens with Creamy Citrus Tahini Dressing

Raw Collard Greens with Strawberries and Creamy Tahini Citrus Dressing

 


 

This creation was inspired by a client who wanted a more varied approach to her veggies. I chose to use collard greens here, because people tend to shy away from them, but they are actually less bitter than kale. Any dark leafy green such as swiss chard, kale, or spinach would taste just as delish. Cutting the collards into thin ribbon like pieces, called chiffonade, makes them easier to chew, and so very pretty

 

Raw Collards with Creamy Tahini Citrus Dressing

Sunchokes add a great crispy crunch, and an interesting conversation starter. For those of you not familiar with sunchokes, aka, jeruselum artichoke, they are in the same family as potatoes, and are reminiscent of an artichoke. Word of warning, if you have trouble digesting apples, you may want to substitute with raw jicama, or leave them out. They can create gas and bloating for some, which is why they are fondly known as fartichokes

 Sunchokes look a little like nubs of ginger, and they are delicious raw or cooked. These came from Specialty Farm in Watsonville at the Santa Clara Farmers Market on Saturdays

Sunchokes look a little like nubs of ginger, and they are delicious raw or cooked. These came from Specialty Farm in Watsonville at the Santa Clara Farmers Market on Saturdays


Preparation for the Collard Greens

Begin by removing the tough center strip called a rib, in the middle of the leaf by holding the stem in your non dominant hand, and  grabbing the leaves on both sides of the stem with your dominant hand and pull the leaves. This might take a few tries, but it is much faster than cutting each individual leaf. Sorry, I forgot to get a photo of that one. Below is what the leaves will look after deribbing and stacking about 3 or 4 on top of each other

 After de stemming and stacking. getting ready to cut

After de stemming and stacking. getting ready to cut


Roll the leaves up using both hands. I needed another hand to snap the photo, but you want to roll it fairly tight, because this will make it easier for you to keep the leaves in place when you cut

 Roll the leaves up like a cigar

Roll the leaves up like a cigar


Now it's time to cut your chiffonade. A video would be perfect for this, but we're not quite there yet. Hold the "cigar" of leaves in your non dominant hand, curling your fingers in like a claw. Be sure your thumb is tucked in toward you to protect it from the blade. Then grab the knife in your dominant hand, and slowly begin to cut very thin "ribbon" like strips, about 1/16 of an inch wide. Rock the knife down to cut and back up again using a circular like motion

 Here Mary demonstrates her mad skills. Hard to believe she never did this before.

Here Mary demonstrates her mad skills. Hard to believe she never did this before.


 Such pretty little ribbons

Such pretty little ribbons


When your collards are finished, add them to a large bowl of cold water, and swish them around to allow the dirt to fall to the bottom. Using  your hands, gather the leaves from the top and lay out onto some paper towels. You can put them in a strainer first to drain if you want to remove some of the water before drying. Pat the top with a paper towel

 Drying your Collards

Drying your Collards


Add all of your ingredients to the bowl, dress, and mix together. Your hands are going to be your best utensil, so wash them first, and dig in.

 Are you feeling the love?

Are you feeling the love?


Finished Fruity Collard Greens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark leafy greens are synonymous with a healthy life, and for good reason. Collards in particular:

  • Fight off inflammatory toxins that cause cancer
  • Supports a healthy gut (low FODMAP food)
  • Very high in soluble and insoluble fiber

If you can find smaller leaves than these, they will be less bitter

 Collard Greens from Garcia Farms in Salinas

Collard Greens from Garcia Farms in Salinas

I love pairing the dark leafy greens, which tend to be quite bitter, with fruit to balance out the bitterness. These strawberries from the farmers market were just too yummy to pass up, so they ended up in the salad. Most fruits would work in this recipe, pears, oranges, apples, and different berries, when they are in season. Dried fruit would also work too, giving the salad a longer shelf life.

 Strawberries from Montebello Farm in Morgan Hill

Strawberries from Montebello Farm in Morgan Hill

 
 

OK, Here's the Recipe

 

Fruity Collards with Creamy Citrus Tahini Dressing


1 large bunch collard greens, destemmed, cut into thin ribbon like strips; and washed

1 cup strawberries, washed and sliced*

1 cup sunchokes, or jicama, washed, quartered and sliced

½  cup carrots, washed and shredded on a box grater

1/3 cup roasted slivered almonds

1/3 cup tahini  dressing:  

Citrus Tahini Dressing

Yield: about ½ cup

2 Tablespoons tahini

2 Tablespoon orange juice, about 1/2 an orange

2 Tablespoon tamari

1 Tablespoon lemon juice - about 1/2 lemon

1 Tablespoon brown rice miso

1 Tablespoon water

1 ½ teaspoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey - optional

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

 

Preparation for the Dressing

 

Mix all of the ingredients together and set aside, while you prepare your collards.

 

 

Preparation for the Salad

 

  1. Follow the photos to the left with detailed instructions on how to cut the collards. After that, it's easy, just combine the remaining ingredients and dress.
  2. Store uneaten portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
  3. Enjoy with lentils, grilled shrimp, or chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting your greens thin like this, dulls some of the bitterness by reducing the surface area. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use this process for kale, swiss chard, mustard greens or dandelion greens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Finished Plate

 

 

Apple Cinnamon Teff Oatmeal

Teff Oatmeal

Teff is a tiny gluten free cereal grain from Ethiopia consisting mainly of germ and bran, the most nutritious part of a grain. It has a mild, nutty, flavor with a slight molasses undertone and is expected to become the next super food this year. Teff has a low glycemic index, making it great for diabetics, very high in iron, making it great for people with low iron levels, and very high in fiber, for people who need a little extra something. My boyfriend actually prefers it over his steel cut oatmeal.

Note: Be sure you are buying teff grain and not flour. I’ve made that mistake, and while the flour is wonderful to bake with, it won’t make very good oatmeal.

1 cup teff grain

3 cups water

3 Tablespoons unsweetened apple juice or apple sauce

3 Tablespoons dried apples, chopped or 1/3 cup fresh apples, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

  1.  In a 2 qt saucepan, combine the teff grain, water, apple juice, (or apple sauce, if using), cinnamon and sea salt
  2. Bring up to boil; reduce to simmer and cover. Simmer the teff on low heat for about 20 minutes, After the teff has been simmering for about five minutes, scrape down the sides and bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula. The grains are so tiny and they like to travel, so this just ensures you don’t have any stragglers that don’t cook all the way.
  3.  Remove from  the heat and stir in dried fruit, or fresh fruit if using. Don't worry if it looks a little thin, it will thicken as it sits.....
  4. Cool down whatever is remaining in the pan, and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 6 days, or freeze for up to two months.

Note

*The dried apples are a wonderful addition to this, but if you use them, soak them in hot water for about 15 minutes before adding. They are so dry that they will absorb the liquid from the cereal, leaving it a thick paste. The fresh apples are equally as good, and adds a nice crunch. You would add them in at the end, the same way you would if using the drie 

Teff Oatmeal

Kale with Sauteed Apples and Leeks

 

"I know I should be eating more greens, but I don't know what to do with them". Sound familiar?  It's the single biggest thing I hear from my clients, and most people that I talk to about eating a healthy diet.  This dish is one of my favorite ways to eat, and really enjoy kale. That's the secret for me. I have to really love it, otherwise, I don't want any part of it. Kale is pretty bitter, so adding something a little sweet like apple, and a mild pungent like leeks will help to balance out that bitterness out. Lemon works wonders too. Give it a shot, and let me know what you think by posting your comments below.

Kale with Sauteed Apples and Leeks

This plate of deliciousness makes a great side dish, or snack; serve with a veggie burger, beans, chicken or fish


 

KALE WITH SAUTEED APPLES AND LEEKS

Yield: 2-3 servings

7  cups kale, after de ribbing - see photo below (about 1 large head)

1 1/4 cup leeks, washed, and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup fuji apples, washed, cored and cut into one 1/2 inch cubes

2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of black pepper

 


  • Remove the leaves from the center ribbing and tear or cut into bite size pieces
  • Fill a large bowl of cold water and place the kale in the bowl and swish around, allowing the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. The bowl needs to be big enough so the kale isn't too crowded, there should be enough space for the dirt to fall to the bottom. If you're bowl isn't big enough, just do it in two batches.
  • Using your fingertips, lift the leaves out of the bowl from the top, and place it in a colander. This allows the dirt particles to stay on the bottom

  • Once the kale is in the strainer, and your apples and leeks are washed and cut, you are ready to head to the stove. I love using ghee, which is a type of clarified butter that is great for gut health. Clarified butter is melted butter where most of the milk solids have been removed. 
  • Heat a 10 inch pan with deep straight sides (called a sautoir) on high heat for about 35 seconds
  • Add the ghee, apples and leeks
  • Cook on medium high heat for about 3 minutes until the apples start to caramelize and soften
  • Turn the heat up to high and add the kale. The high heat will help to evaporate any water leftover from washing, while helping the kale to steam. No need to cover, just use a pair of tongs to move the kale around so it all cooks evenly. The kale should only take a minute or two, depending on how crunchy you like it.
  • Turn the pan off and add in the sea salt and pepper
  • Your kale is now ready to enjoy!

5 Ways to Curb Your Sugar Cravings

 

Do you find yourself craving a big hunk of chocolate in the middle of the afternoon? Or you walk by a plate of donuts at the office, only to find yourself obsessing about them when you get back to your desk? If you do, you can consider yourself normal and join the rest of us who are trying to take the high road to health. Millions of people, including myself, have a soft spot for the sugary stuff. It's fun to indulge every now and again, but sugar is so seductive that indulgence can quickly turn into an everyday affair, without some healthy habits in place. There are many simple things you can do that will cut your cravings way down, leaving you with a choice. Here, I have chosen the five that have been most helpful for me.

 

1. EAT SWEET VEGETABLES:

like sweet potatoes, carrots or rutabaga, This one goes at the top of the list, because these foods make me feel like I've gotten a treat. My favorite way to enjoy any of these veggies is to roast them, bringing out their natural sugars. Sweet potatoes are probably the easiest. Wash them with a vegetable scrubber, then pierce with a fork a few times in random places and place on a baking tray for about 35-40 minutes at 375. Hard squashes, and root veggies, such as parsnips, fennel, and sunchokes, are also delicious choices. See below for roasting instructions

Roasted Rutabaga never tasted so good

Roasted Rutabaga

Roasting at a high temperature, leaving plenty of space between the pieces of vegetables will give you a beautiful caramelization. I did these the same way I do most of my root veggies. Preheat the oven to 425 or 450 degrees (depending on how hot your oven runs). Toss the veggies in a little olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Don't worry if there is some residual water on them left from washing; the high temperature will create steam so the veggies can cook all the way through without burning. Lay out onto a baking sheet, and roast on the bottom shelf of the oven where it is closest to the heat source. For pieces this size, leave them in for about 15 - 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through


2. Avoid Chemicalized Artificial Sweeteners

There are many artificial sweeteners out there, and most of them cause us to crave more sugar. Choose natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is my personal fav, because  it tastes amazing, and  it has a low glycemic index, which won't raise blood sugar levels as much as other sweeteners.


3. Sleep a Minimum of 7 Hours per Night

Or preferably 8, if you can manage it. Our bodies were designed to rest and relax in order to restore natural body functions.Simple carbs, such as sugar are the most readily available form of energy for a tired body and mind. When you are in a chronic state of stress and /or sleep deprivation, our body will crave the quickest form of energy, which is sugar

 Little Evelyn knows how to get it done

Little Evelyn knows how to get it done


4. Move Your Body: Get Active

Being active helps to balance blood sugar levels, which are at the heart of cravings.  It will allow your body to let go of stress, which eliminates the need to self medicate with sugar. Start with simple movement, like walking or yoga. Begin with ten minutes a day and gradually increase. Most important is to find something you enjoy. I got hooked on hot pilates, and hot yoga and believe it or not, I look forward to going

 She's been good to me

She's been good to me


5. Seek the Sweetness of your Soul

 Silence offers us a Truth that eliminates the need to look elsewhere for what we need

Silence offers us a Truth that eliminates the need to look elsewhere for what we need

There is no food that will satisfy the craving for Wholeness. Most of us, including myself, can bump up against resistance in the rush to "Do". Create a space that feels Sacred for you to Honor your own Beauty. Beauty does't always feel beautiful and it can show up in the form of fear or self doubt. Being Still to Welcome in awareness will feed the hunger you Truly crave. 

 

 

 

Thai Red Lentil Dal

Thai Red Lentil Dal

Thai Dal

This recipe was born from my original recipe for Thai Red Lentil Soup that I created years ago when I was still living in Massachusettes. We have six months of winter to try and stay warm, so soup was always part of my solution. The original recipe called for galangal, a cousin to ginger, but I wrote the recipe using ginger to make it more approachable; weird ingredients can sometimes turn people off. If you're curious about what galangal is, and how to use it, Faith Durand, from the Kitch'n has some great info about it here. If you want to experiment with something new, I highly recommend doing so, as it has a wonderfully aromatic citrusy flavor. that reminds a little of coriander. If not, the dal will be delicious anyway. The way the combination of  flavors come together, made me want to enjoy it  as a full meal with some brown rice and veggies, so I decided to turn it into dal, which is like a thick soup. In Sanskrit, dal means "split", referring to a pulse, or lentil, as most of us know it as. This recipe uses split red lentils, which don't need soaking and cook in about 15-20 minutes.

Red Lentils

 

Thai red lentil DaL

Yield: 6 servings

 

Ingredients - use organic whenevery possible

2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil

1 1/2 cup split red lentils

1 cup onion, cut 1/4 inch cubes

1/2 cup celery, 1/4 inch cubes

2 teaspoons grated ginger or galangal

2 teaspoons grated garlic

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground curry

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of chili flake (aka crushed red pepper)

1 Tablespoon tomato paste, or 1/2 cup diced tomatoes with juice

1 Tablespoon tamari

1 cup coconut milk

3 cup vegetable stock, or 3 cups water + 1 bouillon cube

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon lime zest, about 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, taste before adding


Preparation

  1. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, curry, chili flakes and black pepper, and set aside
  2. Heat a 2 quart pot on high heat for about 45 seconds
  3. Add the coconut oil, along with the onions and celery. Lower the heat to  medium high heat and cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant and translucent.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the ginger, garlic, and spices. Cook on low heat for about 1 - 2 minutes, or until your house smells like a Thaiwanese kitchen. Toasting the spices and aromatics really  develop the flavors.
  5. Add the tomato paste, coconut milk, tamari, and vegetable stock. Turn the heat back up to high and allow the dal to come to a boil. Once  it is boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are brokend down and soft. You won't be able to identify each individual lentil, but rather they will blend into each other  and be more like a porridge
  6. When the lentils are finished cooking, add in the cilantro, and lime zest. Taste before adding the salt, it may not need it if you're vegetalbe stock has a high sodium content.
  7. Your dal is now ready to enjoy. Serve it with a whole grain, such as brown rice, millet , or quinoa, and a heaping mound of leafy greens, snap peas, greens beans, or cauliflower
  8. Store the unused portion in an airtight container, allow it to cool and refrigerate for up to five days, or freeze for up to two month
Thai Red Lentil Dal Mis en Place

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

 

This recipe is from my blog about Creating Flavor with or without the Meat, which demonstrates the flavor layering technique. Split pea soup, is traditionally made with a ham hock, or bacon, making that flavor a worthy competitor. Removing the meat is a game changer, but not to worry, this wonderful plant based version has a depth and richness that holds its' own.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Yield: 2 ½ qts

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cup green or yellow split peas*

1 cup onions, ½ inch cubes

½ cup celery, ½ inch cubes

½ cup carrots, ½ inch cubes

1 ½ teaspoon garlic about 3 cloves

2 tsp olive oil

2 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce

2 teaspoon tomato paste

1 ½ teaspoon dried mushroom, hydrated and diced small (about ¼ cup before hydrating)– or ½ tsp dried porcini powder

6 cups vegetable stock or 6 cups water + 2 organic vegetarian bouillon cubes

1/4 teaspooon Black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, optional (taste before adding)

 

Preparation

  1. Heat a 4 qt pot on high heat for about 40 seconds. Add olive oil,  onions, celery and carrots and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent
  2. Add garlic, dried mushroom, and tomato paste and cook on low heat, allowing the mixture to toast for a minute or so.  Stir occasionally, so it doesn’t burn.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low heat with lid on, for 50-55 minutes or until split peas are tender. Taste the soup, and if it needs the salt, add it in now
  4. Your bowl of deliciousness is ready to eat.
  5. Cool the remaining portions down and store in an airtight container for up to one week, or freeze for up to two months.

 

*Yellow or green split peas taste equally as good in this recipe; if you want a mellower pea taste, use the yellow ones.

Tuscan White Bean Soup

 

Tuscan White Bean Soup

 

Yield: 6 cups
Use organic whenever possible

I posted this recipe on my blog about living A Healthy Life within your Budget, as the whole recipe costs about $3.00 to make. It  is one of my favorite ways to enjoy these plump and creamy beans, especially when it’s cold and raining. The parmesan rind releases a wonderfully salty, umami quality (see post on Creating Flavor with or without the Meat for umami explaination) that gives me a feeling of such comfort and warmth. I hope it does the same for you......

 

  Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup dried great northern white beans; Soak in 5 cups cold water overnight, one day prior to using
  • 1 cup onions, cut ¼ inch cubes
  • ½ cup celery, cut ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 tsp garlic, chopped, about 3 large cloves
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or 8 cups water + 2 organic vegetable bouillon cubes
  • ¾ tsp ground fennel
  • ¾ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 oz parmesan rind, or 1/3 cup nutritional yeast if you want to keep it dairy free
  • 1/8 tsp chili flakes, or more if you like it spicy
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 cups kale, de stemmed, cut into bite size pieces and washed
  • ½ tsp sea salt, optional

 

Preparation

  1. Heat a 2 gallon stock pot on high heat for about 45 seconds.
  2. Add oil, and cook onions, celery, and garlic on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Drain the beans and rinse them under cold water, while your onions cook.
  3. Add the beans, veg stock, parm rind, (or nutritional yeast, if using) fennel, chili flakes and black pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 60-70 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  5. Remove from heat and add kale
  6. Taste before adding salt. You may not need, depending on the sodium content of your vegetable stock, and if using the parmesan rind, that will add an element of salt too.
  7. Your soup is now ready to enjoy. When soup has cooled, transfer the remainder into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to six days. I usually keep the parmesan rinds in the soup for a day or two after it’s made before discarding.

 

 

Creating Flavor with or without the Meat

As a vegetarian, and Holistic Chef, I have spent years, both personally and professionally cooking, and experimenting with different flavors, tasting, and then modifying.  As a Health Coach, I realize not everybody is a vegetarian, nor should they be. Different bodies with different blood types have different needs. For non vegetarians, I recommend organic lean proteins, such as poultry and fish from sustainable sources. I also encourage reducing red meat intake to twice a week, and honestly, many of my clients are so thrilled with the flavours and cuisines available to them, it feels more like they are adding, rather than losing something. The American Cancer Institute (AICR) recommends eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat per week. 

This equals:  up to 3 ounces (cooked), about the size of a deck of cards, 6 times per week; or up to 6 ounces (cooked) 3 times per week”. Reducing red meat consumption is not only good for the body, but, also the planet. Cattle are one of the leading causes of global warming; if you’ve never heard of Howard Lyman, he is worth checking out to find out what some companies do, to keep this truth in the dark.  If you follow Oprah, you may have seen him being interviewed when she was helping him fight the Texas Cattle Ranchers lawsuit, which they ended up winning.

Aromatics.jpg

For those of you who may be new to a plant based diet, or for those of you just needing some inspiration, I’ve compiled a list of handy ingredients and tips to give your dishes a pop. When you remove meat from the menu, not only do you lose the flavour of the fat, but also that rich, umami component. Umami is a Japanese word that doesn’t really have an American translation, but rather a description. It’s a sense of richness and fullness in the mouth that feels satisfying. Typically, you find this in animal based foods, but mushrooms can give you this, and so can tamari, (soy sauce), parmesan cheese, and miso,. Most plant based foods don’t contain umami, so having the right ingredients on hand, along with the right information can help you create flavours and textures that are exciting to you. No deprivation going on here!

Ok, here we go

  • Aromatics: Onions/garlic/ginger
  • Dijon mustard
  • Dried mushrooms, such as porcini- Grind up in spice blender and store as a powder for easy flavouring
  • Dried spices: cumin, coriander, curry, chilli powder, sumac
  • Chutneys
  • Ethnic spice blends: ras el hanout, charmoula, tandoori, za'atar. Some markets sell these blends 
  • Fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, tarragon, dill
  • Fruit: fresh or dried
  • Horseradish
  • Miso: red, white, brown, or chick pea
  • Mushrooms: Portobello, shiitake, oyster
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Peppers: sweet roasted and Chilis
  • Pesto: make your own with your favourite leafy greens and herbs
  • Root vegetables; celery root, fennel, parsnips
  • Salsas
  • Tamarind paste
  • Tapenade (that yummy mixture of olives, capers and usually anchovies)
  • Toasted Nuts/seeds
  • Tomato paste
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce (if you don’t mind fish, you can use a non vegan variety)
  • Vinegars: balsamic, sherry, red wine, champagne, umeboshi plum
  • Wine/liquor such as marsala, red wine, pernod, sherry

Now that you’ve got your arsenal of flavors, it’s time to add some technique:

Tips to Create Great Flavor in Your Dishes

  • use organic ingredients whenever possible: it will provide a fuller and richer flavor than conventional
  • toast your spices on low heat
  • use healthy fats: they act as a vehicle to transmit the flavor of the spices, but stick with the mono saturated ones like, avocado, olive oil, nut and seed butters, and coconut oil
  • caramelizeor roast vegetables until they get that dark brown crust
  • build layers of flavor with cooking techniques and ingredients;  if you look at how I make the split pea soup, you see I start with sautéing the onions, then add a layer by adding the spices and allowing them to toast in the pot with the onions before adding the stock. Most recipes would call for the spices to be added with the stock, losing vital flavor. This technique is an example of building. Stay tuned, I’ll do another post, explaining more in depth how to achieve this.
  • balance the five tastes: sour, salty, sweet, bitter, pungent + add some umami
  • Use salt (either sea salt from an uncontaminated source, or himilayan) Katie, the Wellness Mama explains the difference very simply here. The purpose of salt in a dish is to enhance or elevate the existing flavors. You don’t need to overdo it to accomplish this, especially if your five flavors are in balance.

I have always loved split pea soup, but it is traditionally made with a ham hock, making that flavor a worthy competitor. This wonderful plant based version uses the flavor layering technique, along with some dried porcini powder to create a depth and richness that stands up to the competition.


Split Pea Soup

Yield: 2 ½ qts

1 ½ cup green or yellow split peas*

1 cup onions, ½ inch cubes

½ cup celery, ½ inch cubes

½ cup carrots, ½ inch cubes

1 ½ teaspoon garlic about 3 cloves

2 tsp olive oil

2 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce

2 teaspoon tomato paste

1 ½ teaspoon dried mushroom, hydrated and diced small (about ¼ cup before hydrating)– or ½ tsp dried porcini powder

6 cups vegetable stock or 6 cups water + 2 organic vegetarian bouillon cubes

1/4 teaspooon Black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, optional (taste before adding)

 

The Best Split Pea Soup even without the Ham.jpeg

Preparation

  1. Heat a 4 qt pot on high heat for about 40 seconds. Add olive oil,  onions, celery and carrots and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent
  2. Add garlic, dried mushroom, and tomato paste and cook on low heat, allowing the mixture to toast for a minute or so.  Stir occasionally, so it doesn’t burn.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low heat with lid on, for 50-55 minutes or until split peas are tender. Taste the soup, and if it needs the salt, add it in now
  4. Your bowl of deliciousness is ready to eat.
  5. Cool the remaining portions down and store in an airtight container for up to one week, or freeze for up to two months.

 

*Yellow or green split peas taste equally as good in this recipe; if you want a mellower pea taste, use the yellow ones.

Five Reasons You’ll Want to Shop at the Farmers Market

Going to the farmers market is one of the ways I find my down time. There is a relaxed, leisurely feel from the local musicians singing, that allows me to pause and be present in my surroundings. It’s probably one of the few times during the week when I don’t feel rushed to stay on task. This is just one of so many more reasons why I love shopping there, and after reading this post, I’m hoping you’ll take a stroll to your nearest one.  Local Harvest will help you find a market in your local area, along with your local CSA, if you would prefer your produce delivered. For those of you not familiar with this, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you order a box of vegetables each week from your local farmers that are then delivered to your door. Pretty good deal, right? It’s a wonderful way to experiment with new veggies, and get to know where your food comes from. It’s good for the farmers too, because it keeps their income flowing, allowing them to work more efficiently.

 

Ok, so here are your Five Reasons:

 

1.  The first and most obvious is that everything is at the peak of freshness. Most of the produce is either picked that morning or the day before, making them taste the way they were meant to. It makes cooking easier, because the vegetables don’t really need much to taste good.  It also gives them a longer shelf life than produce bought at the grocery store, which brings me to my next point.

2.  It’s less expensive than grocery stores because you are buying produce in the season it actually grows in. I’m always poking around other stores, comparing, because I’m curious like that. I found cauliflower at one of our local grocery stores for $5.00 a head, where at the market, they are as low as $2.00, even for organic. Most of the farmers are willing to negotiate too, especially if you go later in the day before they close.

3.  It’s fun and informative! There is such a wonderful sense of community at a Farmers Market. People are friendly, and make eye contact with you, even here in Silicon Valley, where most people have their heads down speeding to their next appointment. It gives me plenty of opportunity to chat with others about how they like to cook their veggies. A couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered a new way to cook my greens that had my boyfriend asking for more. Just this last week, I was chatting with a little girl who was meticulously picking out her very little brussel sprouts, because her and her mom didn’t want to cut them in half before cooking them. Love that!

4.  You get to know who your farmers are and how they grow your food. I love seeing Kelly from Montebello Farm, which is only about 15 miles from where I live. I also love knowing their family picked my beets and my other produce the night before I bought them. There is great peace of mind in knowing that I can find out anything I want to about the food I am eating. It is especially important to me to trust the people I buy my food from. After all, their food will become my cells, my blood, my thoughts and my actions. Good quality food grown with Consciousness actually tastes better too. That may sound weird, but it has been proven to me over and over again.

 Kelly from Montebello Farm, Morgan Hill CA

Kelly from Montebello Farm, Morgan Hill CA

5.  It’s cleaner for you and the environment. There are both certified organic farmers and non certified farmers, but even the farmers who aren’t officially certified don’t use commercial pesticides. Produce that is shipped from Chile, or Peru requires fuel and packaging materials that add to our already saturated landfills and our carbon footprint. Purchasing veggies at the Farmers Market doesn’t guarantee all of the farms are within a certain amount of mileage; some come as far as 250 miles. Of course that is far better, than now knowing, but there is something wonderful about knowing that my money is helping to support my local economy and the people who live here. 

Shopping for produce, or any other healthy foods that might not be familiar, can feel confusing, or overwhelming; I’ve helped many people sort through the madness by explaining the various food categories and pointing out the most nutritious choices they can make. If you would like some company on your next trip to the grocery store, I would love to help you too.

 

Set up your guided Health Food Store Tour

A Healthy Life Within Your Budget

Years ago, before I was ready to commit to my own health, I believed I wouldn’t be able to afford eating healthy foods.  Happily, this turned out not to be true, but it took a while to convince me. Many of us put up blocks to change, and financial discomfort is at the top of my go to list. With some guidance and tools, I have found that not only is it doable, but it is necessary, if I want to feel good in my body and life.  The alternative is not feeling good, and a slew of preventable diseases that will end up costing way more than organic groceries in the long run. 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, it only costs about $1.50 more per day, which is only about $45.00 a month. Most people spend more on Starbucks in one month (you’ll find out just how much they spend very soon).

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If you want to make your health a priority, take a moment to reflect on why taking care of it might be important.  Can you put a monetary value on that? Most people I talk to want to feel good, and know that part of the solution lie in changes to their diet. So, in the spirit of supporting your movement towards that desire, I’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you get there, no matter what your budget is.

Value your Health: The average person spends about $90.00 a month on Starbucks. If you track your expenses, it won’t take long, if you’re honest with yourself, where you’re spending your dollars. I started using the app expense tracker, and it has does wonders to help me figure out how much money I need to budget for groceries. David and I are on the same page, and that creates health in our relationship.

Create a Budget: you knew I was going there. Financial health is, of course a whole other topic, but prioritizing what you are spending money on can free up dollars that aren’t bringing you what you want. Manisha Thakor is a great resource for simplifying this overwhelming beast of a topic.  

Plan out your Meals; I’ve spent so much money on last minute groceries because I had no idea what I was going to eat. Take 30 minutes a week to decide on what you want to make that week for dinner. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting more recipes and ideas in the near future. Check your pantry to see what you already have to avoid doubling up on things, and then make your grocery list. There are many apps and programs to help you save recipes on line.  Paprika is one I’ve recently read about, here on the Kitchen’s website, along with copy me that

Shop Once or Twice a Week: Going to the store with a well thought out grocery list will keep you focused on what you need, and make it less likely for you to impulse shop (and wander)

Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen List: While buying organic produce will ensure you don’t ingest any pesticides, gmo’s, orchemical fertilizers, the dirty dozen and clean fifteen guide will tell you which conventional produce is safe to buy (the clean fifteen), and which produce you should always buy organic (the dirty dozen ). This can help you prioritize your spending.  You can find both lists on the link here.  There is even a free app you can download onto your phone. 

Cook at Home: this is always the least expensive option, and the one that allows you to monitor your health the most. Occasional dining out is important and fun, but restaurants have a heavy hand on salt and sugar, so limiting your visits will go a long way to save money and your well being

Eat Lots of Veggies:  Veggies by their nature, especially the dark leafy greens, don’t cost very much; about $2.00 a bunch. Buy beets with their leafy green tops attached and you will get two veggies in one. The tops are reminiscent of swiss chard and can be sautéed, steamed or boiled. A dab of coconut oil, some sea salt and pepper and we’re doing the happy dance.

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Shop at the Farmers Market: Shopping at the farmers market is almost always less expensive than the grocery stores. (See my post about the farmers market). They also taste better and its way easier to stay committed to your health if you like what you’re eating. Veggies from the farmers market also have a longer shelf life, because 9 times out of 10, they were picked that morning or the day before.  Keep your leafy greens dry by putting a paper towel inside the bag before storing, and they will last even longer.

Eat More Legumes:  Like veggies, beans and legumes by their nature are less expensive, especially when purchased dried, (about $.30 a cup). This will noticeably cut down on your weekly grocery bill, while decreasing your meat consumption.  Eating less meat has not only become synonymous with weight loss, but it is better for our planet. Not to worry about not getting enough protein, beans and legumes have plenty of that, (about 8 grams per serving) along with fiber, and essential minerals like magnesium, potassium and iron. 

Buy in Bulk: This is my favorite way to shop because I can decide on the quantity I need. Believe it or not, Whole Foods has some of the better prices in their bulk section. They often have a good selection of beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and super foods like chia and hemp.

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Rally Support: Get the family involved so you don’t feel alone. Connect with other likeminded people and find out what they are doing to be healthy on the dollars they have.

There are also some great resources out there like this guide from the EWG listing the least expensive foods with the most nutrition. Just click on the category you want at the top of the page; i.e protein, fruit, grains etc…

You can also check out Frugally Sustainable, or The Frugal Girl.  They both have great tips on how to get more for less.

This soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy these plump and creamy beans, especially when it’s cold and raining. This whole recipe costs less than $3.00 to make, and will feed about 5 people. Would love to hear your feedback.

 


Tuscan White Bean Soup


Yield: 6 cups
Use organic whenever possible

  • 1 ¼ cup dried great northern white beans; Soak in 5 cups cold water overnight, one day prior to using
  • 1 cup onions, cut ¼ inch cubes
  • ½ cup celery, cut ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 tsp garlic, chopped, about 3 large cloves
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or 8 cups water + 2 organic vegetable bouillon cubes
  • ¾ tsp ground fennel
  • ¾ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 oz parmesan rind, or 1/3 cup nutritional yeast if you want to keep it dairy free
  • 1/8 tsp chili flakes, or more if you like it spicy
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 cups kale, de stemmed, cut into bite size pieces and washed
  • ½ tsp sea salt, optional

 

PREPARATION

  1. Heat a 2 gallon stock pot on high heat for about 45 seconds.
  2. Add oil, and cook onions, celery, and garlic on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Drain the beans and rinse them under cold water, while your onions cook.
  3. Add the beans, veg stock, parm rind, (or nutritional yeast, if using) fennel, chili flakes and black pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 60-70 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  5. Remove from heat and add kale
  6. Taste before adding salt. You may not need, depending on the sodium content of your vegetable stock.
  7. Your soup is now ready to enjoy. When soup has cooled, transfer the remainder into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to six days. I usually keep the parmesan rinds in the soup for a day or two after it’s made before discarding.