The weather turned cold in Southern California today which made it the perfect opportunity to make some stew. In my continuing quest to clean out the pantry I saw that I had a bunch of red lentils, so those became the base of the stew. As I often do, I went to epicurious to look through their recipes containing red lentils. I came across one by Ruth Cousineau (from Gourmet Magazine 2/2009) that I based this stew on, but as usual I tweaked it to make it healthier and to include ingredients that I had in my fridge. This was a very hearty and filling dinner…not to mention tasty!
INGREDIENTS (Makes 4-6 main course servings)
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. butternut or kambocha squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs.s minced peeled ginger
1 Tbs. curry powder (preferably Madras)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 cups water
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Accompaniment: cooked brown basmati rice & chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a large pot and add in the squash,onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and salt. Cook until soft and beginning to brown (15-20 minutes) stirring occasionally.
Into the Pot to Soften
Softened & Ready for Spices
Add in the curry powder and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
Add in the lentils and water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Simmer for 25 to 40 minutes until the lentils are cooked. At the end stir in the lemon juice and taste to see if any additional salt or pepper is needed.
Add the Lentils & Water
Serve over brown basmati rice and top with chopped cilantro.
People are always so curious about where I get my protein. There is a misconception that plant based diets are deificient in protein. I stumbled upon the post below and thought you might like to read Brendan Brazier’s take on protein. This post is from Crazy Sexy Life By Brendan Brazier on March 5, 2009. To read the post directly on the Craze Sexy Life website click here.
Properly balanced plant-based protein can offer several advantages over more traditional animal-based options. I discovered this along the way when I was searching for a performance advantage. At the age of 15 I made the concerted decision that I wanted to race Ironman triathlons professionally. Aware that staking the odds of making this happen in my favor would rely heavily upon a sound nutritional strategy, I began to search for one. Going somewhat against the grain, I decided to experiment with a plant-based diet. As you might imagine, criticism flowed: where would I get my protein? Until it worked. I raced Ironman triathlons professionally for seven years, all on a plant-based diet. I honestly believe that the detail I applied to my nutrition program was a large reason for me even having a Pro Ironman career at all. The following is what I learned about protein and how you can apply it to boost your overall performance, improve muscle tone and increase your energy level.
It was once thought that only animal protein was complete and therefore a superior source to plant-based options. Complete protein is comprised of all ten essential amino acids. By definition, essential amino acids cannot be made by the body; they must be obtained through dietary sources. And, in fact, there are actually several complete plant protein sources. However, to obtain all amino acids in high quantities, it’s advantageous to consume several complementary sources of protein on a regular basis. For example, hemp, yellow pea and brown rice protein make up a superior amino acid profile that rivals any created in the animal kingdom.
Additionally, one of the big advantages of properly balance whole food, plant-based protein over animal protein is its only slightly acidic or neutral pH. In contrast, highly processed foods are acid forming, and even more so are animal based foods. Whey protein isolate, for example, is highly acid forming. Whey, strait from the cow, would be numeral and even slightly alkaline, but once the protein gets isolated (therefore rendering it no longer a whole food) and it is then pasteurized, these two steps of processing lower its pH, making it considerably more acid-forming. Meat, pork in particular, is also highly acid forming. Acid forming foods include all those that are cooked at a high temperature or highly processed. Among the most acid forming are meat, coffee, pasteurized milk and cheese, prescription drugs, margarine, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks and roast nuts as well as all refined flour-based foods. Refined flour-based foods include: most commercial breakfast cereal, white pasta, white bread, conventional baked goods.
As a basic rule, the more that has been done to the food, the more acid forming it will be. The less that has been done to alter its original state, the more alkaline forming it will be.
It’s advantageous to maintain a neutral pH. Eating too many acid forming foods will promote inflammation, reduce immune function and cause highly-alkaline calcium to be pulled from the bones to keep the blood in its neutral state of 7.35. This of course leads to lower bone density and in many cases, osteoporosis. In fact, the over consumption of highly refined foods is the reason that we as North Americans are contracting osteoporosis at a younger age than ever before in history.
The most alkaline forming foods are those with chlorophyll, the green pigment in many plants. Leafy greens for example. Hemp is an excellent example in that is contains complete protein, yet the fact that it is not isolated and that it contains chlorophyll helps maintain a more alkaline pH.
A large salad is also a good high-quality protein option. I realize that when many people think salad, protein is not usually what comes to mind. Although, dark types of lettuce are up to 40% protein and spinach registers at about 45% protein. Since leafy greens are light, of course, this doesn’t add up to astonishingly high numbers in term of grams of protein. However, since protein in leafy greens is already in amino acid form, the kind usable by the body, it doesn’t have to be converted; therefore it saves the consumer energy. The body can’t use protein as is, it must convert it to amino acids first. Therefore in my book Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, I classify foods with this quality as “one-step nutrition” foods. They offer a significant advantage. Since the step of converting protein to amino acids is eliminated, the body will conserve energy through the assimilation process. And, because of this energy savings, you will have a greater amount. If you don’t spend it, you still have it; that’s the premise of another one of the core principals in Thrive called “energy through conservation as opposed to consumption.”
If a large enough salad is eaten, taking into consideration its “one-step nutrition” quality and therefore its ability to provide more energy than foods that don’t assimilate as efficiently, a substantial amount of usable protein will be ingested.
“Pseudo grain” is the term given to what is technically a seed, yet commonly referred to as a grain. Examples include: amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and wild rice. Since they are all in fact seeds, their nutritional profile closely reflects that. They are gluten free, and higher in protein than grains. They can also be easily sprouted. The sprouting process converts the protein in pseudo grains into amino acids, putting them in the one-step nutrition category, thereby significantly improving their digestibility. Additionally, sprouting raises their pH making them an alkaline-forming food. And with greater than 20 percent protein in amino acid form and superior digestibility, pseudo grains are a sound protein source. Adding half a cup of sprouted buckwheat to a large salad will certainly yield a high-quality protein meal.
Homemade almond milk is sooooooo creamy and NOTHING like the almond milk you buy in the store. Today I made some plain almond milk and when my son came home from school I used it to make him strawberry almond milk, which is one of his favorites. As we were sitting around the kitchen island drinking the strawberry milk, I mentioned that I was going to post my recipe for plain almond milk and my husband told me that I NEEDED to post my recipe for the strawberry milk as well (he was literally telling me this while drinking the tiny amount of strawberry milk that was left straight out of the blender container). I hope you enjoy the strawberry milk as much as we do!
INGREDIENTS FOR PLAIN ALMOND MILK
2 cups raw almonds
4 cups filtered water
INGREDIENTS FOR STRAWBERRY MILK
1 cup plain almond milk
1 ½ – 2 cups frozen strawberries
2 tsp. raw agave syrup (adjust depending upon the sweetness of your berries)
Place the raw almonds in a container and fill the container with filtered water. Place the container in the fridge overnight to soak.
Soak the Almonds in Water
Almonds Soaked Overnight in Fridge
NOTE: The almond milk can be made without soaking the almonds, but I strongly suggest that you do. Soaking the nuts will make the milk more creamy, but the main reason you want to soak the nuts is to destroy the enzyme inhibitor. Nuts were created with an enzyme inhibitor that prevents them from prematurely sprouting. This inhibitor also makes it hard for many people to digest nuts well. When you take the time to soak the nuts, the inhibitor is neutralized and the enzymes come to life…per my earlier post enzymes are very beneficial to us.
Rinse the soaked almonds under cold water. At this point you may remove the almond skins if you’d like. I personally don’t mind the skins and keep them on when I make my milk.
Rinse the Soaked Almonds
Remove the Skins if You'd Like
Place the clean soaked almonds in your Vitamix or blender with 4 cups of filtered water and blend until smooth (2-3 minutes).
Place Rinsed Almonds in Vitamix w/ Water
Put the nut milk bag into a large bowl. Pour the almond mixture into the nut milk bag and squeeze the liquid into the bowl. Once all of the liquid is out of the bag your plain almond milk is complete.
Place Nut Milk Bag in a Large Bowl
Pour Blended Mixture Into Bag
Only Pulp Remaining
Reserve the nut pulp for another recipe. I put my pulp in a bag and lay it flat in the freezer until I am ready to use it in a recipe.
The plain almond milk is now complete. I prefer to store the almond milk in the fridge in its plain state (great with cereal)…that way I can embellish however I’d like.
Plain Almond Milk
Store Plain Almond Milk in the Fridge in a Mason Jar
Sometimes I will add some stevia for a sweeter taste or add some chocolate syrup and make chocolate milk (warmed-up it makes a very yummy hot cocoa), but our family’s FAVORITE almond milk is the strawberry…
Rinse out your blender. Pour 1 cup of the plain almond milk into the blender. Start the blender and add the frozen strawberries one at a time through the opening in the lid. Blend until smooth. Add the agave syrup and blend again. Taste the strawberry milk and add more sweetener if needed. Drink immediately as this is when the flavor is best. It will not store well, so it is best to make it in small batches that you will drink right away.
I know all of us are always looking for healthy snack alternatives that will hit the spot and satisfy. This recipe does the trick. Packed with protein and fiber, chickpeas are an amazing addition to your daily fare. I made some of these BAKED SPICED CHICKPEAS this afternoon so it would be ready for the kids to nosh on when they got home from school. WARNING – These are addicting!!! …and may be too spicy for wee ones (just reduce the cayenne).
1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika (I used La Chinata smoked sweet paprika from Spain)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground allspice (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt (optional. omit if you want the mix to be just sweet & spicy)
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Wash and drain the chickpeas. Place the clean chickpeas on 2 layers of paper towels and gently rub the tops of them with another layer of paper towels.
Place on a Paper Towel Lined PlatterGently Dry the Beans by Rubbing the Tops
Gently Dry the Beans by Rubbing the Tops
You want to get the chickpeas as dry as possible. Notice that some of the chickpea’s skins will come loose. Remove the skins.
Remove Loose Skins
While the chickpeas are air drying further, make the spice mix. Pour all of the spices into a bowl and mix well (I used a mortar and pestle that I bought at Cost Plus World Market so I could grind the spices together). This recipe will not use all of the mix, so reserve the excess for later.
Grind the Spices Together
Place the clean and dry chickpeas in a bowl and coat them with the oil. Once coated with oil, sprinkle on the spice mix to taste (I used 3 tsp.).
Coat the Beans w/ Oil
Place the seasoned chickpeas on a lined cookie sheet (I used a Silpat) and put the sheet in the oven for 40-60 minutes. Carefully watch the chickpeas at the end as they can quickly burn. Once done, the chickpeas will be browned and crunchy. As the chickpeas cool they will become even crunchier.
These are the candied nuts that I use in my kale salad recipe. The other night I ran out of candied nuts and put roasted nuts in the kale salad we were having with dinner…my family made it very clear to me that the candied nuts are an integral part of the kale salad! So, today I needed to make some more candied nuts.
In a separate bowl put the coconut sugar, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and water. Mix well.
Sweet Coating Pre-Mix
Mixed Sweet Coating
Combine the sweet coating with the raw nuts. Mix well to coat.
Sweet Coating on the Raw Nuts
Place the nuts on either a cookie sheet (I also use a silpat) or on a dehydrator tray with a ParaFlexx lining.
Place On A Baking Sheet
Or a Dehydrator Tray
If you plan on baking the nuts, put them in the oven at 200 degrees. You will need to watch the nuts carefully to make sure they do not burn. The candied nuts will be done when the coating is no longer wet. When you take them out of the oven to cool they will harden. If they are not crunchy enough for you, return them to the oven for some additional baking time.
If you will be using the dehydrator (I used my Excalibur), put the tray of nuts in the dehydrator at 115 degrees for 8-10 hours. Check the nuts after about 3-4 hours, take them off of the Paraflexx, and place them directly on the Polyscreen tray. Once you remove the nuts from the dehydrator they will crisp as they cool.
Into the Dehydrator
When the nuts have cooled, put them in a bag and store them in the freezer.
For a printable version of this recipe click here.
This recipe is sure to be a big hit with your family. My kids claim that it tastes just like apple pie. My favorite thing about this applesauce recipe is its simplicity…2 ingredients!
I use 6 pounds of apples whenever I make this recipe because I figure if I am going to make it I might as well make a bunch, but you can easily make a smaller batch. When I make this recipe I put some of the applesauce in the refrigerator and I vacuum pack the rest of it with my Foodsaver (that I bought at Costco years ago) and put it in the freezer.
6 pounds organic apples
organic cinnamon to taste
Peel the apples, quarter them, and remove the core. Dice the quartered apples into 3-4 pieces each. I make this whole process even easier by using apple peeler/corer like THIS one and then quartering the peeled and sliced apple. Place the apple pieces into the crock pot. Sprinkle desired amount of cinnamon onto the apples (I use about 2 Tbs.).
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for about 6. Once the apples are tender, mash them until the applesauce reaches the texture you prefer (we like it a bit chunky).
This applesaucee is good on its own either warm or cold. I personally love to have it for dessert with granola sprinkled on top (click HERE for one of my favorite granola recipes)!!!
New research from England should make dermatologists happy: A “tan” gained by eating lots of vegetables rich in carotenoids (antioxidant chemicals found in vegetables such as carrots and beet greens) is considered more attractive than a tan obtained from the sun.
At least, that’s the opinion of several British university students.
To test a theory that a healthy diet might make a person more attractive, researchers at the University of Nottingham, the University of St. Andrews and Bristol University showed a series of photographed faces to a few dozen students.
Ian Stephen, University of NottinghamThe middle photo shows the woman’s natural color. On the left, the suntanned. On the right, yellowing from carotenoids.
The students could adjust the skin tone of the photographed faces, making them more yellow, more suntanned or more pale.
According to the new study, the students found yellower faces more attractive and healthy looking.
In another study, the researchers found that students eating diets rich in vegetables and fruits had yellower skin than those who didn’t.
“Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective,” said Ian Stephen, a psychologist at the University of Nottingham.
Carotenoids are antioxidants that help the body cope with stress and remain healthy. Scientists have found that they are vital in maintaining healthy immune and reproductive function.
The scientists theorize that skin shining with a carrot-like glow may indicate health to potential mates and allies, and therefore appear more attractive to others.
“This is something we share with many other species,” said David Perrett, a professor at St. Andrews who contributed to the study. “The bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.”
Examples of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids include carrots, cantaloupe melons, beet greens, spinach, kale and persimmons.
Sprouts are amazing! We all know that when we purchase produce from the grocery store it is in our best interest to eat the produce ASAP as its nutritional value begins to decline shortly after harvest. Sprouts don’t do this. Sprouts are considered LIVE food and they can continue to grow even after being refrigerated.
Sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and enzymes. Enzymes are powerful partners in our health and we need them in order to digest our food. Kris Carr’sCrazy Sexy Diet adds, “Food enzymes have another wonderful purpose: They allow your pancreas to take a break from secreting digestive enzymes. When this happens, your good old pancreas releases more metabolic enzymes for detoxification, renewal, repair, and general overall maintenance.”
For all of you out there who don’t eat as many veggies as you should, sprouts would be a highly beneficial addition to your diet. According to researchers at John’s Hopkins University, “[T]he active ingredient in the broccoli, sulforaphane, is actually present at levels 20 to 50 times greater in 3-day-old broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is present in broccoli relatives, too, but amounts are highest in broccoli. To get the amount of sulphoraphane present in 2 pounds of broccoli, you need to eat only 1/4 ounce of sprouts.” Sprouts are much more nutritionally potent than their full grown counterparts.
There are sooooo many different varieties of sprouts… alfalfa, broccoli, onion, sunflower, wheat berry, clover, radish, etc. You can also sprout beans, nuts, and seeds (which makes them more digestible). For more information about the nutrient power of specific sprouts click here.
It truly is easy to grow your own sprouts. I used to buy sprouts in the store, but I have been growing my own since November of 2010 and I love that I know where they come from and how fresh they are. There are many websites that sell sprouting seeds, but some of my favorites are Sproutman.com, Sproutpeople.org, and Wheatgrasskits.com .
As for sprouting supplies, you really only need the seeds, a wide mouth mason jar, and a lid with a screen. I have used both the metal mesh screens and the plastic ones and I am very partial to the metal ones. Though the metal screens do tend to accumulate a little bit of rust, the plastic screen lids don’t seem to let the same amount of air through and the sprouts don’t end-up as hearty. You can purchase the metal screens by clicking here.
The sprouting process is very simple.
Put enough seeds into the jar to cover the bottom (I use about 3 spoonfuls). Soak the seeds in filtered water for 8-12 hours.
Pour the water out through the mesh screen and rinse the seeds with filtered water a few times until the water pours out clear (make sure you leave the mesh screen and lid on when rinsing so you do not lose any seeds). Once rinsed, tip the jar on its side and leave it in the windowsill. Rinse the seeds with fresh water 3-4 times a day.
If you have children, make sure you get them involved…they will love watching the sprouts grow.
Rinse & Prop on Side (Day 1)
Bottom View of Sprouting Seeds (Day 2)
Bottom View of Sprouts (Day 3)
Side View of Sprouts (Day 3)
Sprouts FILLING Entire Jar (Day 4)
Once the sprouts have filled the jar, put them into a deep bowl and cover them with fresh water. Agitate the sprouts with your hand and the shells of the seeds will float to the top of the bowl. Pour out the water and the seed shells (be careful to keep the sprouts in the bowl). Continue this process until there are no more seed shells remaining.
Once cleaned of the shells, place your sprouts in the refrigerator (I keep the mesh lid on so they can breathe). Make sure you rinse your sprouts on a daily basis to keep them fresh.
I am spending the weekend in a true health food Mecca, Santa Cruz, Ca…It doesn’t get much more earthy/crunchy than here!!! Which of course means that I am a happy lady. It seems as though there is a juice bar or health food store on every corner. I would be in heaven if I could pack up all of the grocery stores they have here and bring them home with me. Two of my favorites are Staff of Life and New Leaf.
New Leaf Produce
My trip up here was motivated by the fact that Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts was holding an open house tonight and I wanted to learn more about their programs. Tonight I was able to spend some one on one time chatting with Ed Bauman, the Executive Director of Bauman College. I always enjoy meeting like-minded people and learning something new from them. It was a very informative and interesting evening.
Grettie & Ed Bauman
One of the best perks of being up here is that I get to visit with my parents who live in Santa Cruz. After they picked me up from the airport we had the most amazing plant based lunch at Dish Dash in Sunnyvale. We ate:
Layers of grilled eggplant, grilled tomato topped with a special seasoned lemon-garlic sauce and parsley.
Spinach sauteed with onions topped with lemon-garlic sumac sauce.
Mushrooms sauteed with onions in fresh lemon-mint sauce.
Mix of parsley, tomato, green onion, fresh mint, lemon juice, burghul and olive oil.
Layers of grilled eggplant, grilled tomato topped with a special seasoned lemon-garlic sauce and parsley.
I hope all of you are enjoying your weekend as much as I am. Since it’s the weekend try to take the time to cook together…maybe even tackle a new recipe!
About a month and a half ago I bought a Groupon for an organic produce delivery service called Farm Fresh To You. Groupon was offering a deal that I couldn’t resist, $15 for a mixed organic produce box that usually costs $31. I am such a fan of the service that I signed on as a regular customer.
I love getting the deliveries….I feel like I have a present waiting for me in my courtyard! I chose to receive deliveries every two weeks, because I really like going to the Farmer Market too. The service allows you to customize how often you receive deliveries and it is very easy to log in and cancel a delivery if need be (i.e. if you will be out of town). I have also found their customer service to be phenomenal (they call every so often to check in and ask if you have any questions).
Top Layer of Produce
Bottom Layer of Produce
The oranges from our delivery yesterday were honestly the best oranges I have ever had. The flesh was the color of grapefruit, but they were so sweet! My kids each ate one and they both asked for more.
Part of the fun for me is figuring out what I am going to make with the fruits and veggies they deliver. I have a feeling the kale is going to become kale chips!
Here is a description of their services in their own words:
We Harvest a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables from our farm and create several home delivery and office delivery service options for you to choose from. Our Regular Service is our most popular home delivery for those who have some time to cook and Mostly Fruit Service is great for those of you who are always on the run. The produce in each service changes weekly and varies seasonally, but we work with neighboring organic farms to ensure a good variety of produce year round.
You Choose the service you would like to receive and the frequency you would like to receive your service. The day that you receive delivery depends on your zip code, and the frequency of your delivery can be weekly, every other week, every third week or every 4th week delivery.
Customize your service after you sign up for your delivery by logging onto your account or contacting the office via phone or email. You let us know the item(s) you would not like to receive and we automatically change the item(s) if they come up in your standard seasonal selection. Feel free to add extra items for an event or dinner and we will deliver them with your next delivery.
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have.