Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rainbow Carrot Immune Booster

Right now I've got a mega-cold, a cat with severe skin allergies, and a cat that's just plain crazy waiting for me at home.  Life is a bit complicated. 

Let's uncomplicate things a bit, shall we?  I think it's time for a fresh juice.  This one is an intense immune-booster.  This healing concoction involves rainbow carrots, garlic, and ginger for a powerful punch.  It's a cure for the common cold, vampires, and crazy cats.  Okay, maybe just the cold.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Top 5 Tips for Quick, Healthy & Incredibly Easy Meals

I have received a couple of emails from readers asking for tips on how to start cooking more meals from scratch in their kitchen.  I think one of the most intimdating factors for most folks is thinking that cooking from scratch is going to be a huge amount of time.  I won't lie, you will have to devote some time to meal planning, grocery shopping, and basic kitchen prep work.  But, once you stock your kitchen up with some basics and learn a few quick go-to meals for easy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, cooking from scratch will hardly seem intimidating!  Here are my top tips for making quick, healthy, and easy meals at home.  Whether you are a kitchen newbie or an experienced home chef, hopefully this will inspire and enlighten you!

1. Keep a well-stocked pantry of grains

If you are new to cooking or are hoping to start preparing more meals at home, then cooking your own grains is an easy place to start.  Go to the bulk bins at your local health foods store and stock up on some basics.  I always keep brown rice, red and white quinoa, spelt berries, millet, rolled oats, and brown rice pasta on hand.  Some grains take longer to cook than others (e.g. brown rice), which is why it is important to have a variety so that you can easily prepare something in 15 - 20 minutes (e.g. quinoa) if you don't have much time. 

Grains are great for quick dinner items like thai quinoa salad, kimchi fried rice, millet and aduki bean salad, spicy tofu and spelt berries salad, pineapple fried quinoa, or simple rice and beans.  Every Sunday evening I make a batch of brown rice and/or quinoa for the week.  Having grains already prepared for the week makes weeknight dinner assembly a snap!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thai Quinoa Salad

You know those nights when you wake up at 2 am and are unable to fall back to sleep?  Maybe because you are obsessing over your to-do list for the next day.  Or maybe because you started thinking about spring and that led to thoughts of everything that you can't wait to do when the weather starts getting nice again.  Or, perhaps, you are unable to fall back to sleep because you cannot get Bennie and the Jetts to stop playing on repeat in your brain.  Has Elton John ever prevented you from sleeping?  It must just be me.

I discovered last night that it is hard to cure the Bennie-and-the-Jetts-Elton-John-2 am brain.  I tried getting up and reading.  I tried drinking a warm glass of almond milk.  Then I tried making this.  Apparently there might be a 2 am cure.  And it involves quinoa.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sprouted Lentils

There is something about early spring that makes me want to sprout things.  Last year around this time I became obsessed with sprouting mung beans and now I'm crazy-obsessed with sprouting lentils.  Lentils are great sources of vitamins, protein, and fiber.  I love eating cooked lentils, but sprouted lentils are delicious, fresh bites of goodness when tossed in with salads or lightly cooked in stir fries.  

Sprouting lentils is also really helpful for people that have digestive issues or have difficulty digesting legumes. Sprouting causes some of the starches to be converted to simple sugars, making it easier on your digestive system.  Delicious, healthful, and easier on your digestive system?  Sounds like a win-win to me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Simple Garlic Broccolini

Pinterest is going to be the death of me.  As much as I try to resist social media... it somehow finds me anyway.  I was originally persuaded to get on Twitter to keep in touch with blog readers and then soon enough, I discovered how amazing it is to keep up on super important news.  I mean, how else would I know what everyone is eating for lunch or when Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out on DVD? These things are now clearly vital to my life.

In a moment of curiosity, I recently joined Pinterest.  I thought Pinterest would be a useful way to organize recipes that I want to try.  Of course, it went into a full-blown obsession from there: DIY jewelry projects, cute animals, home organization... At one point I had a board dedicated specifically for cute plaid shirts. Trouble, just trouble.  19 20 boards later and now I'm hooked.  And doing way too much online shopping for my comfort zone.

Why, Pinterest, why?! Why must you make me want to spend my money on cute, useless things?  Don't you know that I have to feed a daily juice habit and cruciferous vegetable addiction?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mushroom, Barley, and Black Eyed Pea Soup

It takes a lot of time and love to prepare meals for others.  Are there any primary meal makers out there? This is a shout out to you.  So much of our heart and soul goes into making and preparing food that our loved ones eat.  So much of our lives go into everything that we make.

So, loved ones, a little request... please, say thank you.  Thanks.  Relish each meal as the gift that it is.  And respect it.  Even if it has mushrooms.

See, mushrooms are a dividing issue in our house.  I'm going to assume that they might be in yours as well.  But, this soup is a game changer.  This soup just might be the thing to win the mushroom battle and finally get that well-deserved... thank you.

Dinner is served.  You are welcome.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites with Coconut and Sea Salt

Have you ever found yourself standing in your kitchen thinking to yourself "I am culinary genius"?  I had that experience this week.  Okay, to be fair, I am definitely not a culinary genius as I am not the inventor of chocolate covered frozen bananas. But! I think I should get genius credit just for making them.... and then sprinkling them with dried coconut and sea salt.  Don't you agree?

I also had the startling revelation that the three best flavors in the world might just be chocolate, coconut, and sea salt.  Bringing them together is just too good.  And genius.

This recipe will forever go down in my mind as the recipe that finally made me buy parchment paper.  I don't know why I chose to be difficult about parchment paper, but I have never bothered to buy it because it seems silly when I have somehow managed to get around in life without it so far.  Yet here I was today, dreaming up my chocolate-covered frozen bananas and finally convinced into buying parchment paper.  Three hours later I can tell you that it was $5 well spent.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Homemade Kimchi

I think it's time that we talked about fermentation, and specifically, kimchi.  Kimchi is a spicy and tangy fermented Korean food.  In Korea it is typically eaten with each meal and making it is a day-long family affair.  I really enjoy it as a digestive aid before dinner and it's great in fried rice.  If you have never tried fermented foods before, this is the perfect time to start.

Fermented foods are a really important part of our diet and have been used in many cultures as a way to preserve foods and make them more digestible.  Why are fermented foods important?  Here's the deal.  We all have microflora (bacteria) in our intestine which is absolutely necessary to keep us healthy.  In the body, there is "good" bacteria and "bad" bacteria and it's important to keep the "good" bacteria thriving. Fermented foods contain populations of the "good" bacteria that help to keep the microflora balanced.  This is necessary because antibiotics are so prevalent in our world (especially in modern agriculture production) and they kill the bacteria in your body, regardless of whether it is "good" or "bad."

You still with me?  Good.  I think it's also important to note here that fermented foods (e.g. kimchi, sauerkraut) are slightly different from cultured foods because they ferment with the bacteria that are naturally present in the food, rather than adding bacteria.  Cultured foods (e.g. yogurt, tempeh) add certain bacteria and require a starter to make.  Both fermented and cultured foods add "good" bacteria to your digestive system; they simply are made using different processes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Creamy Broccoli & Kale Soup

Our bodies are really good at telling us when we need to slow down.  It seems to me that our minds that are the problem... always thinking about what's next, planning our to-do list, or scheming about some big project.  

This week my body has been telling me that it's time to slooow down.  I've definitely been pushing myself hard the last six weeks and after waking up with the beginning of a cold, I am finally listening to what my body needs.  My body wants more sleep, more time for relaxing, and a really good dinner.  What does your body want?