December 16, 2014

Healthy Holiday Treat: 4 ingredient cookies

I developed these cookies at the last moment before a party we hosted this past weekend. They were such a huge hit that I decided to share the recipe with you.

If you like to make party favors or treats for friends and neighbors, this wholesome, simple option will keep everyone healthy and smiling through the intensity of the holidays.

Remember to keep mindfulness and exercise alive during the this time. This practice could be as simple as taking a deep breath in and out before each meal and going for a walk once a day.

The more you can maintain routines in the midst of chaotic times, the healthier and happier you will be on the other side.

Be well and stay in touch!

Wholesome 4 Ingredient Cookies

You will need equal parts of:
Any nut or seed (I like roasted almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds)
Dates, pitted
Shredded coconut
Unsweetened applesauce

GET CREATIVE: add cinnamon; use dried apricots instead of dates.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil a cookie sheet with sunflower or coconut oil.

Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender.
Blend until a thick dough results.

Coat the palms of your hands with a bit of oil to prevent sticking.
Roll small balls of dough between your palms and place them on the cookie sheet.

Once all the dough is rolled, wash your hands.

Using the back of a fork, flatten each cookie.
Bake for 15 minutes.


December 9, 2014

Honoring My Gastronomic Roots

Today and every day, I celebrate my Italian gastronomic heritage. The traditional values of growing, foraging, cooking and eating with which I was raised filled me with reverence for food.

This fullness stayed with me throughout the years of exposure to highly processed corporate food during my high school and college years after I moved to the United States.

Dormant until the moment I would resource it, this nourishment allowed me to to heal myself with food as medicine when I was crippled by chronic intestinal amoebas. Now, I am in service to the foods, plants, and traditions that healed me. I honor the healers and health care practitioners who mediated my healing and supported me on my own path of self-discovery.

Not only did I heal myself of chronic amoebas, but I also re-connected with my deepest sources of nourishment, which are ancestral ones steeped in mindfulness.

What are your gastronomic roots? How can you celebrate them? Tomorrow, December 10th, is Slow Food International's Terra Madre Day: the day of mother earth.

Join people all over the globe who are celebrating local food and heritage. Here in Vermont's state capitol of Montpelier, the New England Culinary Institute's students will offer a cooking demonstration of Vermont foods.

Before the colonists came to this region, Abenaki people celebrated gastronomic traditions, which endure today thanks to the revival efforts of the indigenous peoples' Haven Project and Seeds of Renewal.
Fred Wiseman and many more Abenaki guide the movement to revive and honor indigenous seeds, crops, and cooking.

If you are inspired, please leave comments here about your ancestral foods and how you honor them.

December 6, 2014

Winter Foods That Heal

The full moon of December is here, and snow covers every last remaining plant stalk and kale leaf in our gardens. This moon is known by indigenous people of North America as the Cold Moon, the moon of long nights, and the Winter Moon. I try to welcome winter with warming foods.

Deer are browsing the crab apple branches and chickadees buzz between bee balm stalks to stay warm. I love this time of year. It is peaceful. The snow that blankets everything is a metaphor for stillness. Take ease in this time. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Even if the holiday commitments are piling up, take time to rest each day. Even if you rest for five minutes while sitting at a window or on your couch with a cup of tea, this practice invokes the stillness of the upcoming Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.

This is the stillness that rejuvenates, respects the spirit, eases the mind, and clears stress from the body. From this calm place, ask yourself what you need to be truly nourished.

I like to prepare soups, whole grains, and delightful, wholesome desserts at this time of year. My husband and I sit, light a candle, and savor carrot ginger soup. I wake up to a simple, hearty breakfast of eggs poached in greens.

I enjoy baking simple desserts and sharing them at holiday gatherings. This way, I avoid eating lots of white flour and white sugar and having a headache and bellyache the next morning.

Here is a recipe for my latest holiday creation. Try it!

Maple Almond Gingerbread

You will need:
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon Dandy Blend* or other instant chicory/dandelion drink powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
1 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and ginger root powder
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg and cloves
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a blender, dissolve Dandy Blend in water. Add oil, syrup, extracts, brown rice, and ginger.
Blend until a thick paste forms.
Add all other ingredients and blend well.

Oil a loaf or cake pan with coconut oil.
Spread batter into it and bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

*Dandy Blend is also a delicious after-dinner drink. Dandelion supports lymphatic circulation, cleanses the liver, and releases the tissues from the stresses of rich foods.

Healing Properties

Almonds: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; contain flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels.

Brown Rice: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.

Coconut oil: saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms. Fresh ginger root is slightly less drying than the dry version, which is why I try to use both at the same time.

December 1, 2014

Get Creative! How To Video for a Simple, Delicious Meal

Click this link to view the introduction to this delicious cooking video from the Harmonized Kitchen.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Start by cooking down two yellow onions with salt, pepper, and red wine or vinegar for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, celery and potatoes. Add spices: rosemary, oregano and thyme are great choices. Saute for 15 more minutes. Add walnuts, pour into an oiled baking dish, and bake for 15 minutes at 375. Meanwhile, mix your pot pie topping: 1 1/2 cups flour (spelt or millet), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 4 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, pinch salt, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 3/4 cup milk (almond or cow). Spread over pot pie and bake for 10 more minutes. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if you like. Feel free to substitute cooked beans (1 cup), ground turkey (1 pound) or beef (1 pound) for the walnuts.

Leek Kale Frittata

Start by chopping two leeks and 1 bunch kale. Place them in a skillet with olive oil, salt and black pepper. Saute for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender. Add a few cloves of pressed or minced garlic if you like. Place vegetables in a baking dish. Whisk together 6 eggs, 2 tablespoons mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Substitute any vegetables you have on hand.

Orange Hazelnut Cake

Grind 1 cup hazelnuts in a food processor or espresso bean grinder. Reserve some hazelnuts to decorate the cake. Whisk together 1 orange, peeled and chopped, with 1/3 cup maple syrup, a teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg. Add 1 cup almond milk and 1 egg. Whisk well to incorporate. Add 2 cups spelt or rice flour, hazelnut meal, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Incorporate all ingredients and pour into oiled cake pan. Decorate with remaining hazelnuts. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Garnish with whipped cream if you like!

This cake is also delicious with raspberries or blueberries and almond meal.

November 30, 2014

Spices for healthy holiday cooking

The early winter holidays are traditionally a gathering time. Come together with friends and family, slow down and enjoy the peaceful darkness of long evenings. As you circle around the meal table, remember that the light will return at winter solstice, December 21st.

Honor the peace that comes before the light slowly starts returning. Nourish yourself and your loved ones while staying healthy by incorporating these spices into your holiday cooking. You probably already do!

During the colder months, cinnamon increases warmth and circulation and supports efficient digestion of fats and heavy foods. It counteracts the congestion that is often accompanied by dairy-rich foods. Cinnamon also brings relief from the common cold and flu by dissolving mucus and resolving coughs and bronchial congestion. 

Nutmeg is a highly prized digestive aid, commonly added to cheese sauces and creamy desserts. Enjoy it! It mediates the effects of rich food, sweets, overeating and late-night eating. Watch this short video on how to make a vegan cream sauce that mimics the flavor of dairy.

This potent spice comes from a beautiful beautiful tropical bush, the clove bush. It can develop into a large woody shrub. I have seen it growing in the shade of coffee trees in Indonesia. It is antimicrobial and antiseptic, particularly for the gums and teeth. Heavy holiday desserts are known to clog the sinuses and produce mucus. Cloves clear the sinuses, encourage mental clarity and clear mucus. Hence, they are a perfect addition to sweet treats as well as savory dishes.

Try these recipes to incorporate a taste of health into your meals.

Coconut Carrot Rice Pudding

You will need:

1 can organic, full-fat coconut milk
2 cups water
1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
2 medium carrots, grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons raw honey to finish

In a pot, bring coconut milk, rice and water to a boil.
Meanwhile, grate carrots.
Reduce heat to low; add carrots, vanilla, spices and raisins.
Stir well, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. The mixture will still be liquid, like a thick stew. Cook it down more if you like or try it as is.
Remove from heat, stir in honey, and serve in small bowls, perhaps with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

GET CREATIVE! Two ideas: substitute parsnips for carrots. Instead of raisins, add chopped almonds and dates.

Baked Apples Stuffed With Almonds and Figs

You will need:
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
1 cup almonds, chopped
¼ cup red wine
6 tart apples
pinch salt
3 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine chopped figs, almonds and wine in a small bowl. Set aside.
Chop apples in half, remove core, and place right-side up in a greased baking dish that has a lid. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Fill apples with fig almond mixture.
Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over apples, seal tightly, and bake for 1 hour. 
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you like!

Red wine is rich in resveratrol, which enhances protein digestion, balances blood sugar, and maintains a healthy appetite. 

Pectin-rich apples provide an excellent pre-biotic source of inulin, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in our guts, which lend strong immunity and facilitate effective metabolism.

November 28, 2014

Cleanse After Holiday Eating

After Thanksgiving, it's a wonderful practice to simplify your diet for a week. Enjoy vegetables like fennel, celery and leeks. These potent plants cleanse the lymphatic system, support healthy lungs, and lend a bitter-sweet complexity to any dish.

Try adding bitter, liver-cleansing foods like quinoa, chard, beets and spinach. These chenopodium family plants are high in plant nutrients and help restore healthy blood and liver function.

Give these recipes a try!

Leek, Fennel and Butternut Soup

You will need: 
1 medium butternut squash, baked and peeled
2 tablespoons local oil (sunflower or olive)
3 leeks, chopped and rinsed
1 fennel bulb, chopped – save fronds for garnish
1 teaspoon each: thyme, cinnamon, turmeric
1 teaspoon each: salt and fresh black pepper
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Poke squash with a fork, place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 1 hour (20 minutes per pound).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large soup pot. 
Add the leeks and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped fennel, hazelnuts, spices, salt and pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes.

Remove squash from oven, cut it open and let it cool for 5 minutes. Compost the seeds. Scoop out flesh and add it to the soup pot. Add the vegetable stock and stir.
Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat. Blend until smooth. 

Quinoa Cornbread

If you have a cast iron skillet, bake this bread inside. It will lend a distinctive and delicious flavor, If not, any square baking dish will do.

You will need:
1 cup flour (spelt = wheat-free; rice = gluten-free)1 cup cornmeal1 teaspoon each: salt, thyme, baking powder
4 tablespoons flaxseed meal dissolved in just as much warm water2 cups cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce1 cup milk (almond = dairy-free; cow = dairy-licious)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease the skillet or baking dish by placing a spoonful of sunflower oil in it and putting it in the oven to melt.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, powder, thyme, and salt.
Make a well in the center and add the flaxseed meal and water. Whisk with a fork.
Add all other ingredients to the egg and whisk them with each other.
Then, setting the fork aside and using a spatula, incorporate wet and dry ingredients.
Remove skillet / dish from oven, spread oil around to coat the sides, and pour in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

If you have leftover quinoa, get creative with it! Enjoy it with dried fruit and nuts as a breakfast porridge - my favorite.

Coconut Milk and Green Lentil Stew

You will need:3 tablespoons coconut oil1 large onion, chopped3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped1 teaspoon each: dry thyme, turmeric powder, coriander powder, fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, caraway seeds, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups green lentils
1 cup coconut milkfresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a soup pot.
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent.
Add carrots, celery, garlic, ginger and spices. 
Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and do not stir for 5 minutes or so. Add the stock and the lentils, bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and stir well. Cook for about 15 minutes and serve hot with a garnish of parsley or cilantro. I like this stew alongside rice and sambal.

November 27, 2014

Naturally sweet

Pumpkins and sunflower seeds are traditional foods of those who are indigenous to the northeastern american continent.

They are wonderful sources of plant protein and are naturally sweet.

Try this recipe to enjoy a less heavy, rich version of pumpkin pie.

For the crust:
1/4 cup water
1 cup sunflower seed meal
1 cup cornmeal
A pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup

For the filling:
2 cups pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
A pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cloves, allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil a pie plate with sunflower oil.
Grind sunflower seeds in an espresso beam or spice grinder.
Mix with all other crust ingredients and press into pie plate.

Mix all the filling ingredients together, spread them over the crust, and bake for 40 minutes.
Enjoy! This makes a great breakfast, too.

If you have leftover pumpkin, try making this Pumpkin Soup.

November 20, 2014

Delicious Tradition

As the holidays approach, I think of cooking with my father and grandmother. Because I had the great privilege of being raised with food, I now make it my passion every day.

I like to make pasta with friends and family. With a bit of team effort, the process is more smooth and rewarding. Be patient, have fun, and remember that you can always roll out your dough again if the noodles are too sticky or crumbly. 

I have created a lot of different sauces to accompany home-made pasta. This is my current favorite.

Cashew Cream Sauce

You will need:
1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews - ground in a food processor
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, nutmeg, thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup milk (almond, hemp, rice, or cow)

Whisk all ingredients together in a small pot.
Heat through and serve!

To thicken, cook it down on low heat for 15 minutes.
Get creative! Add crushed garlic, grated carrots, or a bunch of fresh, minced parsley.

Pasta Dough

You will need:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rye flour
1 cup spelt flour
cornmeal for dusting
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water

Prepare the dough by mixing everything but the egg in a large bowl. 
Make a well in the center, crack the eggs into it and whisk them together. Add oil and water and whisk a bit more. 

Then, slowly incorporate the flour into the the egg mixture. 

Once the dough is moist but not sticky (add another tablespoon of water if you need to), knead it a bit, but not too much. You want to develop the gluten but not over-work the dough, which makes it rubbery.

After kneading, shape it into a ball, place it in the bowl, and cover it with a cloth. Allow it to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Now, you are ready to roll! Start by pulling off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Flatten it into a rectangle. Either roll it out on a cutting board covered with cornmeal or use a pasta machine to flatten it.

If the dough starts to feel sticky, sprinkle with cornmeal. 

Once the dough is fairly thin (about 1/4 inch), run it through the cutting rollers on your pasta machine or loosely roll the pasta into a tube and dust it with cornmeal. Then, slice the rolls with a sharp knife.

This is a great moment for teamwork! Have people feeding the pasta through the machine, others who are catching it on the other side, still others who are checking on the sauces and water bubbling away on the stove.

Transfer the noodles to a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. You can hang them to dry and freeze them or throw them into salted boiling water to cook. Noodles are done when they float to the of the boiling water.

Enjoy with cashew cream sauce, wholesome 'no-mato' sauce.

You can also try your hand at spelt squash gnocchi.

November 17, 2014

Juice for Renewal

As November makes its way to the new moon, you can renew your body, mind, and spirit by enjoying nutrient-dense juices. These blends will awaken your senses each morning and help cleanse your internal organs after savoring the rich foods of holiday feasts.

If you do not already have a juicer, click this link to view Williams-Sonoma's options for purchasing your own juicer.

Whole foods are rich in fiber, which can ease constipation by building bulk in the stool. Fiber also helps starches to metabolize more slowly so that blood sugar remains stable. When juicing, we remove the fiber from food and concentrate its nutrients, which can cause blood sugar spikes. 

In addition, because we do not have to chew juice, saliva's digestive secretions are reduced. Hence, I like to pair juice with a protein-packed popover or a home-made banana almond bar for optimal digestion and balanced energy.

Regardless, drink small glasses (8 ounces or less) of juice and see how your stomach tolerates it. The more green foods you put in your juice, the more your blood and skin will glow. Ginger and carrots in juice will heal the digestive system and increase pancreatic secretions.

Try these recipes and see what you think!

Revive and Digest

Ginger is a digestive aid, which stimulates digestive secretions, increases the amylase concentration in saliva, and facilitates the digestion of starches and fatty foods. It stimulates the immune response and reduces inflammation and anxiety. Use smaller amounts if you have excessive heartburn or an ulcer.

You will need:
2 inches of fresh ginger root, chopped
2 grapefruits, peeled and chopped
2 green apples, chopped
1 packed cup of fresh spinach
pinch salt
3 cups water

Place all ingredients in the order listed in a blender. Blend well until everything is completely liquefied - about 1 minute.
As long as the ginger is organic, please blend it with the peel, which is rich in nutrients.
This juice keeps in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. Shake before drinking.

Enjoy it with a glass with a whole grain breakfast such as amaranth flatbread.

Liver Love

Beets cleanse the liver and flood the cells with iron. They provide the most concentrated source of phytonutrients called betalains, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Beets' high betaine content lowers the presence of inflammatory markers in the system. These powerful roots are a wonderful winter food.

You will need:

1 packed cup beet greens
1 beet, washed and chopped
3 stalks celery
2 inches fresh ginger root

Put all ingredients through a juicer* and store in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. Enjoy a glass either in the morning or before bed. It will help to rejuvenate the internal organs and encourage effective metabolism.

To re-invent the vegetable pulp that's leftover after juicing, try this vegetable bread recipe.

Blood Builder

Carrots are high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity. They are rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity and cleanse the blood. Carrots also offer a healthy dose of B vitamins to reduce stress.

You will need:
1 beet, washed and chopped
2 carrots, washed and chopped
1 green apple, chopped
2 handfuls fresh parsley

Put all ingredients through a juicer*. This juice stores well in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. It makes for an uplifting afternoon tonic. Drink a glass at work if you are feeling lethargic during the waning daylight hours. 

*If you would like to make this juice without a juicer, just grate the beet, carrots, and apple to shred them. Then, place them in a blender with the parsley and 2 cups of water. Blend well for 1 minute, or until the mixture is uniformly liquified.

November 7, 2014

Healing Bowl of Delight

To celebrate the arrival of darker evenings, I am cooking with more root vegetables, warming spices, and foods to balance mental health.

Try this recipe to delight your senses and soothe your soul. It's a great way to cleanse after a day of rich, Thanksgiving-style eating.

Bountiful Bowl of Delight

This healing meal is comprised of three parts: pickled cabbage slaw, ginger tahini sauce, and vegetable legume pilaf.

Pickled Cabbage Slaw

You will need:
Half a head of red or green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, fenugreek and cinnamon

Garlic Ginger Tahini Sauce

You will need:
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt or tamari
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon freshly chopped ginger root
½ teaspoon freshly chopped garlic

Vegetable and Legume Pilaf

You will need:
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch (2 packed cups) of kale, chard, collards or spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice, millet, kasha, or quinoa – cooked with wakame seaweed
2 cups cooked beans (I like adzuki or kidney beans)*
1 teaspoon dry rosemary leaf powder
1/2 avocado, sliced

Make the pickled cabbage a day in advance.
Place the red or green cabbage in a large jar or airtight container. In a large measuring cup, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, honey and salt. Pour the liquid over the red cabbage and press the cabbage down so that it is fully covered. Cover the jar/container and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To prepare the tahini sauce, combine all ingredients in a cup or small bowl and whisk well. Chill until ready to use.

Cook grains in twice as much water. Add seaweed halfway through cooking. Salt grains with about 1 teaspoon of salt per 2 cups of dry grains.

*If you are using dry beans, soak overnight and cook in three times as much water with more seaweed. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and discard it. Once beans are soft, rinse them well. Season them with rosemary, salt, and olive oil. Set them aside.

To cook the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the sweet potatoes out on the sheet. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with a spatula until fully coated. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, tossing them with a spatula after 15 minutes.

For the greens, fill a large shallow sauce pan or medium pot with about 1 to 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and fill the basket with the chopped greens. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high. Once the water begins to boil, or after about 4 to 5 minutes, remove the kale from the basket and set aside.

In 2 serving bowls, divide the cooked grains, legumes, and sweet potato. Add a generous serving of greens. Top with slices of avocado and pickled cabbage. Drizzle the sauce over the top and enjoy!

Healing Properties of Ingredients

Ginger is a digestive aid, which stimulates digestive secretions, increases the amylase concentration in saliva, and facilitates the digestion of starches and fatty foods. It stimulates the immune response and reduces inflammation and anxiety. Use smaller amounts if you have excessive heartburn or an ulcer.

Rosemary has a wonderful fragrance, helps improve memory and relieve anxiety. This mint family member improves energy levels and relieve stress. It can help relieve muscle pain when added to a bath or foot soak.

November 5, 2014

Workplace Healthy Eating

Serotonin is our basic feel-good hormone. If serotonin is low, we feel sad or depressed. And hormonal imbalance or weak digestion can lead to low serotonin. Unfortunately, sugars and simple carbohydrates release a short burst of serotonin — we feel good for a moment, but soon return to our low-serotonin state — then crave more sugar and simple carbohydrates. It’s a downward spiral.

Food cravings mean that the body has its signals mixed up. When we are exhausted or blue, we have low blood sugar and/or low serotonin (our ‘feel-good’ hormone). At these times, the body signals the brain that it needs energy. This signal causes a sugar or carbohydrate craving, which only temporarily releases endorphins to raise serotonin levels. Thirty minutes after we indulge the craving, levels plummet again and the vicious cycle starts over.

Work defines our lives, yet we cannot let it take over the way we eat. Try these simple tips to develop healthy workplace eating habits.

To avoid unhealthy foods on a stressful day, keep electric tea kettle and these super foods on hand: almonds and 80% dark chocolate; refrigerated fruit and vegetable smoothies – I like Odwalla; apples and oranges. Enjoy one of these as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.

Go for a 5 minute walk around the building or outside after you eat a snack. Breathe deeply. Listen to yourself breathe.

When you return to your desk, heat water for tea and enjoy it as you work. Choose green tea or herbal varieties. Add honey instead of sugar to sweeten it. As you sip, try to keep your tongue resting softly behind your front teeth. This practice loosens tension in the jaw, hence relaxing the whole body.

Ways to reduce sugar cravings and better meet the body’s needs:

Drink water. Often, when we crave sugar, our body is de-hydrated. Stop, notice your craving, and try to drink a glass of water before reaching for sweets.
Reach for fruit. Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You'll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. And stock up on foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
Move your body. When a sugar craving hits, walk away. Take a walk around the block or go somewhere to change the scenery. It may take your mind off your craving.
Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger. Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and help you avoid irrational eating behavior. Choose protein, fiber-rich foods like whole grains and vegetables.
Eat a bit of what you’re craving. Enjoying a little of what you love can help you steer clear of feeling denied.
Combine sweets and protein. If the idea of stopping at a cookie or a baby candy bar seems impossible, you can still fill yourself up and satisfy a sugar craving, too. "I like combining the craving food with a healthful one," Neville says. "I love chocolate, for example, so sometimes I’ll dip a banana in chocolate sauce and that gives me what I’m craving, or I mix some almonds with chocolate chips." As a beneficial bonus, you'll satisfy a craving and get healthy nutrients from those good-for-you foods.

Packing a daily lunch:
Make a weekly dinner plan with your family that everyone will enjoy. For example:

Burrito night: corn tortillas, beans, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, salsa
Pasta night: grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, olives, spinach, and garlic
Soup night: leftover grilled chicken and roasted sweet potatoes, chicken broth, side salad
Stir fry night: onions, ginger, carrots, bok choy, adzuki beans over brown rice
Breakfast for dinner night: scrambled eggs with mushrooms and peppers, sourdough bread
Casserole night: leftover stir fry baked with cornmeal, eggs, and yogurt

Be sure you make large batches so that you can take leftovers to work. Pack them as you are cleaning up from dinner and have a little cooler and ice packs ready in the morning. This way, you can assemble lunch, snacks, and go!

October 25, 2014

Chocolate Pie

This wonderfully delicious pie is raw, gluten-free, and rich in protein and natural sweetness from dates and maple syrup.
It's a great alternative to Halloween candy, too.

You can watch this video to learn how to make it with me!

You will need:

For the crust:
6 dates, pitted, soaked briefly in hot water, and drained
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Blend these all in the food processor.
Grease a pie dish with sunflower oil or coconut oil.
Flatten crust into the bottom and sides of the dish.

For the filling:
1 cup cashews, blended in food processor
1 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1 spoonful coconut butter
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Spread filling over crust, chill for 1/2 hour, and enjoy!

If you prefer a hot pie, you can bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

October 17, 2014

Autumn Vegetable Dishes

Autumn Kitchen Medicine Tips:
  • Enjoy cruciferous vegetables to de-tox the liver in preparation for the heavier, richer foods of winter. Include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.
  • Enjoy parsley-based sauces to support liver and blood purification.
  • Eat root vegetables to ground you into the same earth from which they came.
  • Highlight the pungent flavor of leeks, garlic, onions, and shallots to feed your gut's beneficial bacteria with inulin, a pre-biotic compound. The alium family of vegetables also supports a healthy immune response to the cold and flu viruses.
  • Sample some capsicum family spices. Chiles, chipotle, and cayenne accelerate metabolism and improve circulation to those cold fingers and toes.
Most of all, be well, take a deep breath before each meal, and enjoy your food!

Broccoli Strascinati

Strascinati means 'dragged' or 'dredged' in Italian. The broccoli gets dredged in this delicious sauce.

You will need:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 lb.), stemmed and cut into florets3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli; cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp. water; add garlic; cook until golden, 2–3 minutes. Add chile; cook until toasted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Brilliant Brussels Sprouts

You will need:
l pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon chile flakes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Slice each of the sprouts in half.
Arrange the sprouts on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp.
In a serving bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, thyme, and chiles.
Add Brussels sprouts once they are cooked. Toss well to incorporate and serve with your favorite protein.

Some of my favorite proteins are:
Healing Chicken Soup
Marinated Tempeh

October 13, 2014

Stews: simple, hearty, wholesome

The harvest moon wanes and we head towards Halloween, also known by agrarian people of the British Isles as Samhain, the New Year.

Chicken and Dumplings

For the chicken stew:
4 tablespoons butter
2 pounds chicken, baked and de-boned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium red potatoes, chopped
3 cups quick chicken stock*
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon each: thyme, rosemary, and oregano

For the dumplings:
1 cup flour (spelt or rice)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosemary
½ cup milk (cow, almond or rice)

To cook chicken, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place in a glass baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Cool, remove skin, and remove from bones. Add to stew pot. Include the juices. 

*Place the bones and skin in a separate pot with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt.
Simmer for 30 minutes. Add to stew pot.

To make the stew, heat butter in a stock pot or Dutch oven.
Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and potato. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

Add peas and spices. Add chicken and stock.
Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes as the dumplings cook.

To prepare the dumplings, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in milk until a thick batter forms. With a large spoon, drop batter into simmering soup. When dumplings are puffed and slightly firm, cover pan and continue to cook about 5 minutes more.

Serves eight. 
Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for this inspiration.

Mushroom and Barley Stew

Mushrooms are rich in protein and help us adapt to the change in seasons by boosting our immune response.

You will need:
¼ cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
½ cup pearl barley
2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, celery, carrots, and onion, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cremini and shitake mushrooms, and cook about 15 minutes.

Add stock, barley, and thyme, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in juice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley.

Serves eight,

September 25, 2014

Mindful Eating

We sustain ourselves through eating, drinking water, breathing, and sleeping.

However, in today's busy world, these basic needs can seem like an after-thought. There are fewer and fewer people focused on gathering, preparing, and eating foods.

Jon Kabat Zinn, psychologist and mindfulness instructor explains, "for the most part, we eat with great automaticity and little insight into its critical importance for us in sustaining life and also in sustaining health."

Our food preferences and choices are now influenced more by food companies and the media. This influence leads many to become dis-connected from our sources of nourishment. As Michael Pollan says, "stop letting corporations cook for you."

If we begin to pay attention to how specific foods impact our body, we can start to make better choices about what foods to buy and eat. In addition, if we pay attention to our food as we eat it, we are likely to eat less and to better digest what we eat.

Susan Albers, author of Eating Mindfully, suggests that in our fast-paced world, attentiveness to the things you "have to do takes on a greater priority than what is going on internally." "Slowing down" she says, "is a foreign concept to busy individuals. Doing several things simultaneously is considered a more efficient way of doing things."
Here is a suggestion to slow down, enjoy your food, eat mindfully, reduce stress, and digest better.
Susan Albers recommends starting with one mealtime: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Choose a specific location to eat, such as your table or the lunchroom at work.
  • Sit quietly. Don't get up, and don't answer the phone.
  • Have all the food you intend to eat on the table in front of you before starting.
  • To be mindful you must give your full attention to your eating. You must focus on the process of eating and enjoying your meal.

September 22, 2014

Build Winter Immunity

Warming Foods for Colder Moons

A food’s energetic quality is inherent to it. Cooking can modify it, but only to a certain extent.  A cooling food like fruit, even when cooked, is still relatively cooling. Ginger or cinnamon can be added to an apple to increase its warming quality, but the fruit’s original cooling effect remains.  As we prepare for winter, we can eat warm and warming foods to prevent illness and strengthen ourselves for the colder months to come.

Foods rich in protein and fat have more calories and thus are more warming. Vegetables that grow more slowly are also more warming. For example, cabbage is more warming than lettuce and root vegetables are warmer than peppers or tomatoes.

The fire element is related to heat in the body. Metabolism and circulation depend upon this stimulating quality to transform food and body chemicals into functional substances and circulate them throughout the system. Foods that are hot, both in temperature and spice level, increase metabolism and circulation.

To support healthy immunity, we must first promote healthy digestion.
To do so during the fall and winter, eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and slow-growing vegetables for protein and vital energy. Increase fats from nuts and seeds, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive and/ or sunflower oil.

Steam, bake or roast vegetables (use coconut or sunflower oil for roasting) and garnish with oil and garlic. This practice helps the body assimilate of fat soluble vitamins like A and D, which are also found in whole milk, dairy, and eggs.

Enjoy hearty meat and or bean-based stews, root dishes, and spices, whole grain porridges as winter comfort foods that are both heating and healing. 

Gingered Winter Squash Mash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Place a medium-sized pumpkin or kabocha squash into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork.Meanwhile, make caramelized onions:
Choose 1 large yellow onion.
Chop off top and bottom, peel skin and slice in half width-wise.
Place two halves flat on cutting board and slice each one into thin crescent moons. Follow the ridges of the onion when chopping.
Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet that has a matching lid.
When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add spices:
1 inch fresh, chopped ginger root
½ teaspoon each: nutmeg, coriander, garam masala, cinnamon, salt
Simmer for 15 more minutes, until onion starts to brown.
Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Once squash is cooked, peel it, de-seed it, and mix it with onions. You can purée it or leave it as is. Serve as you would mashed potatoes! Garnish with black pepper if you like.

Immune Soup

Start heating a pot of cold water on the stovetop.
3 chicken legs, stew beef with bones, lamb shanks – leave meat out if you prefer
A handful of astragalus root and/or codonopsis root
A handful of fresh or dried shitake or maitake mushrooms
2 inches of rinsed kombu seaweed
1 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, chopped into quarters
2 stalks celery, chopped in half
1 onion, whole with peel removed
1 head garlic, whole with peel removed

Cover the pot and bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until any meat falls off the bones.
Remove bones, herbs, any dried mushrooms and roots from the soup.

Now, you can add other vegetables and herbs, such as:
Aromatic vegetables like parsnips, turnips, mustard greens and leeks – these reduce congestion
Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash – these are rich in carotenoids, which support immunity and respiratory health.

Spices such as thyme, black pepper and oregano – these are anti-microbial and reduce risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection

Simmer the soup until everything is tender, then add more fresh garlic and ginger if you like. Taste for salt.

Serve with a drizzle of your favorite oil and a whole grain. Delicious!

September 21, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Dumplings

By popular demand, here is my version of Holiskes, Galumpkies, or cabbage leaf dumplings, which came through to me from my Polish ancestry. I offer this recipe in tribute to my maternal grandfather, John Witkowski, whose life story and gifts are an inspiration to me.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

You will need:
1/2 cup brown rice
Sea salt, to taste
1 large head green cabbage, cored
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon each: ground black pepper, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, coriander*
*This Eastern European spice blend has the capacity to dispel the onset of a virus and expedite healing from the cold or flu.

2 cups whole peeled tomatoes with juice - if tomatoes cause ulcer or reflux, you can make this "no-mato" sauce recipe

1 pound grass-fed, local ground turkey (substitute cooked kidney beans for vegan recipe)
2 tablespoons brown mustard
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1/4 cup raisins or prunes, chopped
1 teaspoon each: salt, ground black pepper, cumin, coriander, and paprika

Cook the rice in 1 cup water.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add cabbage, and cook, pulling off each outer leaf with tongs as it becomes tender, about 2 minutes per leaf. Transfer leaves to a baking sheet and continue until you have 20 leaves.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; add onions and carrots, season with wine / vinegar, salt and spices.
Cook until just caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add a bit of water if the vegetables stick to the pan.

Add tomatoes, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, until reduced, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a bowl, combine turkey / beans, cooked rice, mustard, flax, raisins / prunes and spices. 
Place 2 spoonfuls of this mixture in center of each cabbage leaf, fold sides over filling, and then roll up. Transfer rolls, seam side down, to a glass baking dish. 
Pour tomato sauce over rolls; bake for 45 minutes. 
Enjoy and be well!

September 17, 2014

Time for Soup

As Autumn Equinox comes near, I am gathering the abundance of the harvest and making basil and nettle pesto, elderberry syrup, tomato sauce, and blanched vegetables for the freezer.

The evenings are almost frosting and the mornings are misty and cool.
It feels like time for some warming, comforting soup

A food’s energetic quality is inherent to it. Cooking can modify it, but only to a certain extent. A cooling food like fruit, even when cooked, is still relatively cooling. Ginger or cinnamon can be added to an apple to increase its warming quality, but the fruit’s original cooling effect remains. As we prepare for winter, we can eat warm and warming foods to prevent illness and strengthen ourselves for the colder months to come.

Foods rich in protein and fat have more calories and thus are more warming. Vegetables that grow more slowly are also more warming. For example, cabbage is more warming than lettuce and root vegetables are warmer than peppers or tomatoes.

The fire element is related to heat in the body. Metabolism and circulation depend upon this stimulating quality to transform food and body chemicals into functional substances and circulate them throughout the system. Foods that are hot, both in temperature and spice level, increase metabolism and circulation.

Chicken and White Bean Stew

You will need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 onions, chopped
1/4 pound free-range chicken, boneless (omit for vegetarians)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups purple cabbage, chopped
1 teaspoon each: coriander and cumin
½ teaspoon each: oregano, chili flakes, and salt
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed, or 4 cups cooked canellini beans
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese as garnish if desired

In a soup pot, saute onions for 15 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown.
Splash with apple cider vinegar.
Add the chicken and saute on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the cut.
Add the celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, and spices. Stir well.
Add the other ingredients (except the cheese) and bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and serve.
Garnish with Parmesan if you like.

September 11, 2014

Pear, Beet, and Fig Salad

September is here, the full moon is just past, and everything in the garden is finding its peak ripeness.

Start reveling in the culinary delicacies of fall.

Pear, Beet, and Fig Salad

You will need:
2 pears, chopped
2 large beets
8 ounces (2 packed cups) fresh spinach
6 fresh figs (or 3 dried figs), cut into small pieces
1/4 cup organic hazelnuts or almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons best olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat water in a medium size pan, add whole, cleaned beets, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes, or until soft. 
Rinse under cold water and remove any skin that comes off. Chop and place in a large serving bowl.
Add spinach and pear and toss well.
Add figs and nuts, toss with olive, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


September 7, 2014

Late Summer Salads Double As Lacto-Ferments

As September makes itself known and we prepare for the wonderful and melancholy decay of autumn, we can make double batches of bright, fresh, colorful dishes and set some aside for the colder months.

Do this with any dish by freezing half of it.
I just did so with quinoa cakes.
Alternately, you can also prepare a vegetable-rich shredded salad and lacto-ferment half of it by placing it in a mason jar and covering it with saltwater brine.

For the salad and lacto-ferment:
1 bunch of scallions, chopped2 cups napa cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 inch daikon radish, shredded
3 large stalks celery, thinly sliced

Double these quantities and set half aside for fermenting.
I like to use the shredding blades on my food processor to make quick shredded vegetables.

Then, toss with the dressing below and serve over cooked quinoa as a hearty lunch.

For the dressing:
3 teaspoons sunflower or olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons tahinione generous handful cilantro, chopped1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts or almonds)

To ferment the vegetables above, just stuff them into a quart-sized mason jar.
Fill another mason jar with 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons salt.
Pour over vegetables and mash down with a wooden spoon continuously until the veggies generate enough juice to cover themselves.
You can step away from pounding and tend to other tasks in the kitchen, too.
Cover with a cloth and press down once a day for a week.
Then, refrigerate and save for up to 2 months.

September 4, 2014

Almost Dairy

As we get older, our bodies produce less of the lactase enzyme, which digests the lactose in dairy products. If dairy is giving you gas, bloating, or intestinal cramps, try these substitutions.

Dairy is an important source of protein and fat, so it's good to substitute it with foods that have similar nutritional profiles such as nuts, winter squash, purslane, and borage leaves.

For delicious recipes featuring plant-based protein, visit the Healthy Eating Program's recipe page.

Almond Milk

Soak 2 cups raw, organic almonds in 4 cups water overnight.

Drain, rinse, and place in a blender with 4 more cups water.
Add a pinch of salt.
Blend well.
Strain off the liquid. This is your almond milk!
Store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Click this link for a blueberry chia lime smoothie recipe to enjoy your almond milk.

Save the almond pulp and add it to cauliflower flatbread or any recipe that calls for almond flour.

Cashew 'Cheese' Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, blend well in food processor:
2 cups quick oats

1 cup almond flour - or leftover almond meal from making almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Flatten crust into greased pie plate.

For the cake, blend well in food processor:
2 cups cashews*, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and then drained
½ cup maple syrup
2 eggs OR 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal dissolved in just as much water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg
a pinch salt
Spread evenly over crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Spread fruit jam (no sugar added) over the top (I like raspberry) if you like.

*If you have a cashew sensitivity (they are in the poison ivy family, believe it or not), just use almonds instead.

You can also try this parsley cashew spread for a nutty, protein-rich delight. It makes a great pasta sauce.

Healthy Eating Program

Need to detox, uncover food allergies, feel nourished & satisfied?

I will tailor your Program to your dietary needs and health goals. Programs include shopping lists, prep/menu plans, recipes, mindfulness, & nutritional recommendations.

Click here to try a FREE sample of the Healthy Eating Program.

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