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.
Add:
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.

Enjoy!

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.
Yum!

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.
Delicious!

*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

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