April 17, 2014

Simplify

Spring is a great time to simplify your diet. Start enjoying seasonal spring food and try to include at least 7 sevings of fruits and vegetables in your daily intake. Focus on meals comprised of 2/3 vegetables, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 whole grains. 

For protein, choose pastured poultry and eggs, white fish, yogurt, hard cheeses and beans.

Enjoy whole grains such as millet, rice, buckwheat, bulghur (wheat), and amaranth.

Depending on where you live, spring vegetables can vary. Look for these foods as they become available locally. They are high in antioxidants and fiber. Many of them help renew the liver, flush out excess toxins, and digest fats more effectively: asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, burdock root, celery, chicory, chives, dandelion leaf and root, endive, fennel, nettles, parsley and spinach.

Incorporate more fruit into your diet! Try some of these delights: apples, dried apricots, blueberries, apples, oranges, and strawberries.

Health Benefits of Foods

Leeks: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

Millet: alkaline enough to balance body’s pH; nutrient dense, hypo-allergenic, complex carbohydrate; offers a balance of B vitamins to support digestion and provide consistent energy.


Nettles: rich in chlorophyll, fiber, flavonoids, tannins, plant acids and histamin, vitamins A, C, and many minerals, including iron, copper, and calcium.
Parsley: depurative, anti-dandruff, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, odontalgic, stomachic, and tonic. rich in Vitamin C to decrease inflammation, beta carotene to help prevent infection and strengthen immunity, and folic acid (B vitamin) to support cardiovascular health. The activity of parsley's volatile oils qualifies it as a "chemoprotective" food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens as well as ease the burn of insect bites and stings.

Recipes

Millet squares
Soak ½ cup millet for 2 hours or so. Strain and rinse millet.
You can also cook without soaking. This process removes phytic acid, making millet more digestible.
Pour into a cooking pot with 2 cups water.
Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.
Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
Cook on low heat and stir occasionally until millet thickens.
Grease a large glass baking dish (9x13) with vegetable oil. Turn on the broiler.
Pour millet into the baking dish and flatten it evenly. Broil for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and set.

GET CREATIVE! Toppings: fried eggs and spinach; scallions and sardines; artichoke spread and braised chicken; cumin-spiced pinto beans with roasted carrots; goat cheese and pesto

***
Eggs poached in beet greens

Take a bunch of beet greens, rinse them, and place them in a deep skillet with an inch of water at the bottom.
Bring to a boil, covered, and reduce to simmer.
Add salt and black pepper.
Crack four eggs on top of the beet greens. Place lid on skillet and angle it to leave enough of an opening for steam to escape.
Slowly poach the eggs on low heat for 5-6 minutes for soft yolks (8-9 minutes for hard yolks).
Meanwhile, chop a handful of each of these fresh herbs if you have them: mint, basil, parsley, cilantro.
Add fresh herbs on top of poaching eggs and steam briefly.
Remove each egg from the skillet with a slotted spatula and place on plates. 

GET CREATIVE! Serve with toast or quinoa; drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice; use as a topping for millet waffles.

***
Zuppa verde - Italian green vegetable soup
You will need:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely sliced
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts finely sliced crosswise
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled, split, woody core removed, finely sliced
4 yellow or red potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, sliced (optional)
6 cups water
Salt, thyme, and oregano to taste - about 1 teaspoon each
2 cups fresh green beans, tips snapped, cut crosswise into ½-inch lengths
3 small, firm zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices

Place olive oil in a soup pot and heat gently. Add the onion and sauté for 15 minutes on medium heat.
Add leeks, celery, carrots, potatoes (if using), and zucchini. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add water and herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, for about ½ hour.

Incorporate green beans and cook another 15 minutes until the beans are done but still a bit crunchy. Add a handful of freshly chopped basil and serve.

Resources:
Kushi, Michio. The Macrobiotic Way. Avery, 2004.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books, 2002.
Turner, Kristina. The Self-Healing Cookbook. Earthtone Press, 2002.

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