September 27, 2015

Fall Meal Plans

In honor of tomorrow's full moon, which will be very close to the earth and undergoing an eclipse, I invite you to simplify your diet.

Choose foods that gently cleanse the blood, like cilantro.
Focus on foods that support immunity, like cinnamon and garlic.

This shift, which you can make for 3 days, will set you on a good path to be well all winter long.
Here is a recipe to inspire you.
Click this link for a complete 3 day meal plan with recipes.

Quinoa Black Bean Bowl with Avocado Sauce


For the quinoa bowl:
2 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: cumin and cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked black beans* (or 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained – I like Eden organics)
1 packed cup arugula
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

For the sauce:
One ripe avocado
4 tablespoons tahini
½ cup water
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
1 small clove of garlic
½ teaspoon salt
Lime juice

*To cook the black beans:
I like to do this after dinner to prepare for the next day's meal.
In a stockpot, place 1 cup of beans in 5 cups of boiling water; boil for 2–3 minutes, cover and set aside overnight.
The next day, most of the indigestible sugars will have dissolved into the soaking water.
Drain, and then rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking.
Cook dry beans for 50 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.

To prepare the bowl:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with spices and toss with olive oil.
Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, take 1 cup quinoa, rinse it well, and cook it in 2 cups of water in a small stock pot.
Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until all water is consumed. 
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt as it cooks.

Then, pulse all the dressing ingredients in a food processor / blender until smooth.

Toss the beans, quinoa, arugula, and sweet potatoes with the dressing. Enjoy!


September 14, 2015

Healthy Fats for Well-Being

Did you know that fat doesn't make you fat?

Weight gain occurs when we eat hydrogenated fats or consume carbohydrates without fat.

Fats are crucial nutrients that provide up to 10 kilocalories per gram of energy, compared with four kilocalories per gram from carbohydrates and proteins. Fats are not taken up directly by any tissue, but must be hydrolyzed outside the cell first.

When metabolizing fats, the body must use energy, primarily from carbohydrates, to produce energy.

One of our essential digestive enzymes, lipase, breaks down fat and helps us use it as energy. Lipases are produced in the pancreas and help digest and transport fats throughout the systems of most living organisms.

Fats come from food, adipocytes (fat cells), and some amino acids. Lipolysis, or fat breakdown, occurs in the mitochondria. Next, lipogenesis, or fat synthesis, takes place the liver, adipose tissue, and intestinal mucosa. The fatty acids derived from this process are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates and using them as energy.

When we support our pacreatic enzyme production by eating whole grains instead of processed ones (bread, chips, baked goods) and consuming high quality fats, we also help our bodies use fat for energy and neuro-endocrine balance.

Fat maintains cell regulatory signals (essential to combating auto-immune conditions), supple skin, balanced hormonal function, and healthy nervous system response. Without the presence of fat in the system, the body stores carbohydrates as fat because it does not know when it will next gain this essential nutrient.

As the days move towards fall equinox and we prepare for winter, healthy fats are essential to our mental, immune, and digestive health. They are also anti-inflammatory and aid in soft tissue recovery.

Here are some of the health benefits of high quality, cold-pressed organic fats:

Olive oil: monounsaturated and liquid at room temperature, 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. Try these recipes using coconut oil.

Most of all, take time out this coming weekend to appreciate the balance point of fall equinox and rest easy in the knowledge that you are preparing your body, mind and spirit for winter with food as medicine.

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