July 29, 2015

Summer Meal: Quinoa, Grapefruit, Fennel, Avocado

Summer is here. Relax, enjoy cool, colorful meals, and take in the brilliance of the moon as it grows to fullness. This is the thunder moon, time of dramatic skies, electric lightning, and brilliant sunsets.
Enjoy these recipes and be well.

Quinoa Pilaf


You will need:


1 cup quinoa
½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, and cinnamon
1 cup fresh peas
1 bunch spinach
2 handfuls fresh basil, minced
5 medium radishes, chopped
1 bulk fennel, sliced
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Rinse, drain, and cook quinoa in 2 cups water with turmeric, cinnamon, and salt.
Add peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile, chop / mince all other ingredients and mix together in a large bowl.
Add cooked quinoa, mix well to incorporate, and enjoy!


Coleslaw



You will need:

½ head green or Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh dill, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons brown mustard
¼ cup olive oil

Slice cabbage.
Mince the fresh herbs.
Place in a large bowl.
Wisk all other ingredients together. Pour them over the cabbage and herbs.
With a wooden spoon, bruise the cabbage until it becomes watery and all the juices from the sauce are incorporated.
Set aside in the refrigerator overnight for best results.

This dish is wonderful for a picnic along with hard-boiled egg salad and cornbread.


Beet and Grapefruit Salad


You will need:

1 pound red and golden beets
Beet greens

1 large grapefruit
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado

Chop and steam the beets.
Add beet greens on top during the last 5 minutes of steaming.
Meanwhile, peel and chop grapefruit and avocado.
Place in a large bowl with olive oil and salt.
Set aside.

Once the beets are soft enough to poke through with a fork, remove them from the heat, rinse under cold water, and place in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Toss well and enjoy immediately!

July 17, 2015

Foods For Mental Health

At some point in our lives, most of us experience anxiety and / or depression. Here are some foods that can help soothe those responses and bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit.


Herbs and Spices



Chamomile Tea: Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea helps decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks. Drink a cup after dinner. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if you like.


Dark Chocolate: It’s true! The Journal of Psychopharmacology has published a study revealing that people who eat about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (75% or more) per day, feel more calm than those who do not. Just be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine. Be sure to eat it before 3 p.m. to avoid it affecting your sleep.


Turmeric (pictured to the right): Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuro-protective quality and help enhance your mood. These antioxidants are an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. Cook with turmeric powder when you can and take a supplement to support your dietary intake.


Whole Grains



Oats: Oats are high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. They ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.

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.


High Quality Meat and Fermented Dairy



Full-Fat Kefir & Yogurt: The gut is considered the "second brain" because it's home to 95% of your "feel good" hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, a healthy gut helps manage stress and reduce depression and anxiety. Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry. Kefir, an fermented dairy drink much like liquid yogurt, is a powerful pro-biotic, which contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K for brain health. If you prefer yogurt, choose the full-fat, unsweetened kind (I like Butter Works Farm or Brown Cow Brand). Add maple syrup and home-made granola for a delicious breakfast.

Turkey: this delicious meat is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which
helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat has been proven to reduce anxiety. Choose antibiotic-free turkey whenever possible.

Grass-Fed Organ Meats: If you eat meat, grass-fed, organic organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients (like zinc and Vitamin D) needed to reduce anxiety. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for balancing the hormones that regulate mood. Cook chicken or beef liver with onions and purée it in the blender to make a delicious spread.


Vegetables



Asparagus: This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to neurotransmitter impairment and cause anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.


Avocados: These fruits are wonderful for maintaining balanced brain health, thus reducing the stress
that leads to anxiety and depression. They contain potassium, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich in beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the nervous system. 

Leafy Greens: Those who feel stress and anxiety can increase intake of dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens. These plant foods are rich in magnesium, which helps us relax. It also regulates the connection between the brain and endocrine system so that we go out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into relaxation mode.


Fats



Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia and flax seeds, and winter squash can also help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.

Olive oil: monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-
inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Sunflower oil: this polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

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.


Recipes


Coconut Avocado Smoothie


Place these ingredients in a blender:
½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
a pinch salt
½ can unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 avocado

Blend well and enjoy!



Vegetable Walnut Cobbler


For the cobbler:
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 medium zucchini, chopped
1 packed cups of fresh spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

For the topping:
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, and paprika
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil
1 cup milk (rice or cow)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes Add spinach, turn off heat, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

Bake the vegetables for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.

For the topping, mix all ingredients together except butter / oil.
Cut butter / oil into chunks in the mixture and gently fold together.
Add milk, mix briefly to incorporate, and set aside.

Remove vegetables from oven, top with clumps of topping mixture, and bake for 20 minutes more.
Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

GET CREATIVE: Use collards and sweet potatoes instead of spinach and zucchini.

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