Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Mmmm. Home-grown tomatoes. Sweet, ripe, red, organic....If only they would last all year! Well, they can. And it won't cost you anything but a few minutes, either.

Wash, core and quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. (A paste tomato, like the Roma above, will work best.) Lay peel side down on dehydrator trays and dry until leathery. The drying time depends on the type of tomatoes you have, how full the trays are, the humidity in the air and the heat setting of your food dryer. A rough estimate is 6 hours at 140 degrees, 8 hours at 125 degrees or 12 hours at 115 degrees. Lower temperatures preserve enzymes and vitamins but expend more electricity.

To your health and happiness,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Red Flannel Hash

As the weather cools down, we desire more cooked vegetables. This quick autumn skillet meal uses the fresh-harvested vegetables readily available during October and November.

Grate any of the following:
Golden or red beets
Red or green cabbage
Sweet potatoes or yams
Rutabaga or turnip

Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Steam-fry or stir-fry the vegetables (in a couple tablespoons of water or oil) just until tender crisp. Season to taste. Serve immediately. For a heartier meal, toss in some cooked beans and serve over rice.

To your health and happiness,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taco Salad Delight

Have you tried Happy Herbivore's Chickpea Tacos?  No one will believe this delightful variation is meatless.

In a food processor, coarsely chop 1-2 cups cooked chickpeas until they resemble the texture of cooked ground beef. Transfer to a non-stick frying pan and "dry-fry" until beans are toasty on the outside. Sprinkle with a little water to moisten and season to taste with taco seasoning (recipe below). Then add the special finishing ingredient: 1/4 c. pico de gallo. This will cause the "meat" to clump and make it deliciously flavorful. Spoon onto a bed of leafy greens and garnish with avocado, tomatoes, olives, peppers and more pico de gallo.

Taco Seasoning
2 Tb. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tb. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt (optional)
2 tsp. black pepper

To your health and happiness,

Monday, September 19, 2011

No More Wrestling!

GRUELING, GRITTING, WHITE-KNUCKlING WILLPOWER. It breaks out like a sweat at the gym and over the dinner table. Confronting it stands the Goliath obesity, poor health, or chronic tiredness. If only enough of this tough willpower could be mustered just once...perhaps the giant could be defeated.

Does it seem daunting? But suppose just for a minute that the picture were different. What if YOU were Goliath and your enemy was the puny kid. Overpowering illness, weight gain and low energy simply would not be issues any longer. That's what happens when you switch from the Standard American Diet to plant-strong, nutrient-rich eating.

The current paradigm most of us face in dieting includes these "truths:"
  • Eat less
  • Take supplements
  • Mix protein shakes
  • Use energy-boosting drinks
  • Battle withdrawal symptoms
  • Fight headaches
Nutrient Rich  blogger James Allan Mollenhauer explains in The Diet Trap that eating less of nutrient-poor foods that aren't even meeting the body's needs in the first place can't possible work as a healthy strategy. His motto is "Eat better, not less."

Sure, we all need macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrate and fats. And these are found easily in animals foods. But a diet based on only these holds a lot of calories, and no micro-nutrients or fiber. So when we white-knuckle through still another diet plan, we end up in the long run fatter and sicker than before.

Plant foods, on the other hand, contain a full compliment of micro- and macro-nutrients plus fiber, while still being low in calories. Thus plant foods are whole foods. When we eat them, we are energized and satiated. Rather than using willpower to conquer, we meet our inner drives for life, protection, pleasure and avoidance of pain with the very foods designed to meet those desires.The net result is empowerment. We feel stronger, we develop stamina, our confidence soars.

True, there is a learning curve to be mastered to change one's lifestyle, and this requires education, inspiration and support. But this kind of work is fulfilling and self-perpetuating. It is not the same as hopeless fighting through a downward spiral. Adopting the nutritarian way enables us each to become our own giant.

To your health and happiness,

Marinara with Chickpeas

Looking for a quick dinner? This one is fast and filling. You can use your own favorite marinara sauce or the one below, from Raw Food Made Easy.

Combine 1 c. marinara sauce (below), 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas, and 1/4 c. chopped zucchini or broccoli. Heat through. Serve over cooked spagetti squash or yams.

Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Marinara Sauce
1 ripe tomato
1/2 c, sundried tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
1 Tb. minced fresh basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic, crushed
dash each sea salt, black pepper and cayenne

Process in blender or food processor until smooth

To your health and happiness,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Detox Primer

Q: What is the purpose of a detox?
A: Top reasons that individuals engage in a detox program include the desire for more energy, the need to overcome addictions, to kick start weight loss, and as a tool for healing. Detoxification has been shown to be beneficial in overcoming chronic health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and auto-immune diseases.

Q: Is Detoxing the same thing as bowel cleansing?
A: No, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, is adamant on this point: "Detoxifying is an ongoing bodily process; it isn't something that you can buy in a package....Laxatives can no more detoxify you than washing your mouth out with soap can." To detox your body is to release stored additives, drugs, pollutants, free radicals and other harmful substances from all of your organs, including your heart and lungs.

Q: Can I only drink green smoothies while I'm detoxing?
A: No, fresh fruit, vegan soups, salads and simple vegetable dishes are just as effective. The point is to get plenty of phytochemicals and antioxidants and to minimize the burden on the digestive and elimination systems.

Q: What should I avoid?
A: Cut out these seven troublemakers: dairy, meat (including chicken and fish), extracted oils, refined sugars, stimulants (such as alcohol, caffeine, guarana), synthetic nutrients, and known allergens (soy, eggs, corn, peanuts).

Q: Do I have to go "cold turkey," removing these foods from my diet all at once?
A: No, changes don't have to be dramatic to be beneficial. Proceed as you are comfortable so that you don't place undue stress on yourself. (Stress in itself is toxic). Rip Esselstyn, author of the Engine 2 Diet, draws the parallel of being a fire cadet or a firefighter - still in training, or facing the full heat.

Q: If I can't have extracted oils, how will I get essential fats?
A: Be sure to include oily plant foods in their natural form in your diet. These include avocado, olives, coconut, and flaxseed meal.

Q: Do I have to eat 100% raw during detox?
A: No, it is better to transition slowly to more raw foods than to bust into an extreme program, bounce back to old habits, and binge on unhealthy alternatives. Of course, the more raw food you can manage, the better.

Q: Can I eat seeds, nuts, beans and grains?
A: These are important foods for a nutritarian lifestyle but in the beginning they pose challenges because many people have a tendency to overeat them. They are higher in calories than vegetables and fruits and are more difficult to digest, so it is wise not to include them for the first leg of the detox unless they are sprouted.

Q: How can I expect to feel?
A: It is normal to have some negative reactions, such as rashes, headaches, gas, bloating and diarrhea initially, but within a short time (days) most people begin to feel a new strength and vitality. Detoxing can be compared to Spring Housecleaning - the mess seems to get worse before it gets better as accumulated junk is pulled out and discarded. Click here for an article from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation detailing the reactions to expect. A good rule of thumb is that the more toxic your body is, the more uncomfortable you will feel, but the greater your benefits will be.

Q: How long will it take to detox?
A: Cleansing the body is a "physiological birthright," says James Simmons, author of Original Fast Foods. It is an ongoing metabolic process, just like washing waste down a sink. But if the sink is backed up, it must be cleared, and the length of time that takes depends on the amount of garbage plugging it. Whether or not a person engages in exercise simultaneously and how rapidly he adopts lifestyle changes will affect how quickly the body responds.

Q: Will I be able to exercise or carry on moderate to heavy activities?
A: That depends on your strength. In the first day or two of a detox, some people feel a degree of weakness. However, exercise enhances the body's ability to "take out the trash," so at least walk briskly, breathe deeply and take in some sunshine if you are able. Meditation is also a positive activity to speed the detox process.

Q: What if I'm hypo-glycemic or insulin-resistant?
A: A high-fat diet can exacerbate blood sugar problems. Detoxing addresses fat intake.  But still, the increase in fructose, especially consumed through smoothies, may be a concern to persons who are sensitive to blood sugar levels. It is suggested that these individuals eat their fruit whole, not blended or juiced, and convert to non-sweet fruits (cucumbers, avocados, tomatoes) and sub-acid fruits (apple, pear, banana) if sweet fruits continue to cause a problem.

To your health and happiness,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Banana Pancakes

Not an ordinary breakfast, this hearty recipe would make a satisfying brunch for a special weekend or holiday.

Holiday Pancakes
3/4 c. old fashioned oats
2 ripe bananas
1 Tb. ground flax seed in 2 Tb. water
2 tsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Fresh fruit
a handful of soaked nuts

In a food processor, grind the oats into a flour. Add the bananas and flax and process until smooth. Add oil, vanilla and cinnamon and pulse just until blended. Cook on a 350 degree griddle until bubbly on top. Turn and cook another 3-4 minutes. Top with fruit and nuts. Makes 4 pancakes.

To your health and happiness,

Smoothie Smarts

I'm sure most of the Kitchen of Health followers have a high "Smoothie I.Q., " so this is just a refresher of the basics:

  • The primary advantages of green smoothies are that they are fast to make, generally contain more fruits and vegetables than you are likely to eat by the plateful, and are helpful in curbing cravings.
  • One disadvantage to be aware of is that with their high fruit content, they can raise blood sugars if this is an issue for you. Avoid a spike by sipping slowly over the course of a couple of hours instead of gulping all at once.
  • A smoothie can become a high-protein drink by adding a tablespoon of hemp seeds when blending. Supercharge it with enzymes by adding alfalfa sprouts. To make it more alkalizing, add cucumber. To ensure your Omega-3 needs are met, throw in 2 tablespoons flaxseed or flaxseed oil.
  • If the color is unappetizing for you, change any green smoothie purple by adding mixed (red and blue) berries to it.
  • Green smoothies can be made from any greens: parsley, cilantro, celery, spinach, chard, collard, kale, cabbage, lettuces, arugula, dandelion leaves, and romaine are all satisfactory. By switching up the ingredients, you give your body a variety of nutrients and keep yourself from getting bored with the flavors.
  • Any fruit will do as well, with or without skins. Bananas and avocados make the drink more creamy.
  • The basic recipe is two handfuls of greens, a cup or two of fruit and enough water and ice to make it smooth and drinkable. If you think it needs to be sweetened, use something like stevia, dates, honey or pure maple syrup rather than white sugar.
To your health and happiness,

No-Oil Salad Dressings

Drumroll, please....At last, I'm presenting the "healthy dressings" you have been waiting for. Aren't they beautiful? They taste beautiful, too! Plus they are super simple to make in your blender. You can easily adjust the the flavors by tweaking the seasonings to your tastes. Save vinegar jars when they are empty to put the dressings in.

Tomato-Basil Dressing

2 roma tomatoes, cored
1 red bell pepper, cored
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
6-8 basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash of sea salt
~1 c. water

Blend 1st seven ingredients and half of the water until smooth. Add more water until you attain the desired consistency. Refrigerate unused portions. Makes about 3 cups.

Orange Peach Mango Dressing
1 c. sliced peaches, peeled
1 c. sliced mangoes, peeled
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1 Tb. grated fresh ginger

Blend until smooth. If needed, add water for a desirable consistency. Refrigerate unused portions. Makes about 3 cups.

Creamy Avocado Dressing
2 avocadoes, peeled and pitted
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. lime zest
1 cucumber
~1/2 c. water
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder
Dash of sea salt

Blend all ingredients together until smooth, adjusting water to get desired consistency. Refrigerate unused portions. Makes 3+ cups.

To your health and happiness,

Friday, September 9, 2011

But I'm Still Hungry...

Can a person REALLY get full on salad??? That's the million-dollar question for nutritarians who put vegetables on the bottom of the food pyramid. Admittedly, learning to eat without meat and potatoes as a mainstay can be challenging during the first few weeks. I've learned a few principles that should be helpful to anyone who is trying to eat more healthy but feeling a bit starved.
  • Build a bigger, better salad: Start with about 3 cups of greens per person. Choose hearty leafy vegetables, such as collards, cabbage, or kale. Be generous with legumes - chili, lentils, garbanzos, kidney beans, pintos, pinquitoes, black beans, navy beans, etc. - and don't feel shy about adding rice, barley, millet, wheat or corn. Get a lot of power by adding a little handful of nuts, or better yet, a scoop of sprouts. Then last, add some good fat for satiation. Avocado, olives, and healthy dressing fit in this category.
  • Eat more often: Plan on a snack or meal every 3 hours, at least until your body adjusts. Have plenty of fresh fruit around to fill in the gaps, try a green smoothie if you just can't wait until the next meal, and provide yourself with a selection of cut fresh vegetables ready for eating.
  • Drink more water: Sometimes the signal we perceive as hunger is really a cue that we are not hydrated enough. Taking a glass of water at the first indications of hunger can often relieve the distress.
  • Make friends with cooked vegetables: Granted, raw food is not calorie-dense, so sometimes we just need a boost of something a little richer. Root vegetables, such as beets, rutabaga, yams, and carrots can satisfy an empty stomach if you're really craving carbs. Vegetable soup is also filling. Delicious varieties include apple butternut, pumpkin curry, minestrone, and cream of vegetable soup using potato base instead of cream.
  • Eat bigger portions: We have been programmed that less is better. For years as dieters, we have tried to cut back. When calorie-dense foods are the menu, it is easy to overdo. But now, I actually have to make sure I get enough calories. So if I'm hungry, I eat. I just make sure I'm not eating more than 10% of my diet from the top of the pyramid.
  • Listen to your cravings. If you feel like having a steak, consider nuts instead. If you want bread, try some cooked grains or potato. If your sweet tooth is flaring up, eat more fruit. If salt is the savor you crave, celery can be satisfying. There is a basis for your desires. By getting to the root of it and satisfying the real need, you won't set off any addictions.
To your health and happiness,

Brussels Sprout Salad

With Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book, Super Immunity, hitting the shelves in a couple of weeks, I'm sure cruciferous veggies will be the rage! The trouble is that most people prefer this category of vegetables the least because they are so strong tasting (sort of like eating mud pots at Yellowstone National Park). Of course, it is exactly the sulphur compounds that make them so valuable. The key is to chop them very fine and not to overcook them. In fact, Dr. Furhman advocates eating them raw. I discovered that I actually enjoy Brussels Sprouts when they are served in place of lettuce in a salad. Try these two variations:

Maple Apple Salad
Cut off base of Brussels sprouts, remove outer leaves, and slice thinly. Rotate cutting board and slice perpendicular to original cuts. Add chopped red apple (with peel), sliced green onion and a sprinkle of chopped pecans. Toss with Maple Apple Dressing:
1/4 c. apple juice
1/2 c. cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
3 Tb. pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Optional: If you prefer cooked Brussels sprouts, steam them lightly, just until they turn bright green, before adding other ingredients.

Brussels Slaw
Cut off base of Brussels sprouts, remove outer leaves, and thinly slice. Rotate cutting board and slice again perpendicular to original cuts. Add grated carrot, minced onion and poppy seeds. Coat with Mustard Vinaigrette:
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tb. spicy brown mustard
a pinch of salt

To your health and happiness,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hugh Maughn Gus Salad

I am not advocating just adding vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains to a diet. I am admonishing that they be the focal point of every meal. But perhaps the idea of having salad entrees every day seems rather un- enticing. It can be if salad means iceberg, tomatoes, and cucumbers day after day. However, with a rainbow of foods to choose from, why stop at three or four unvaried ingredients? A glance at the globe will show that salads can be as diverse as cultures. For example, you might find these ethnic combinations:

Russian: beets, potatoes, onion, cucumber, dill, honey, vinegar
Israeli: cucumber, radish, fennel, parsley, lemon juice
Italian: romaine, radicchio, sun-dried tomato, olives, cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans
Asian: cabbage, bean sprouts, snap peas, bamboo shoots, bok choy, sesame seeds, edamame
Southwestern: black beans, corn, bell pepper, chayote squash, cilantro, jalapeno
Carribean: papaya, mango, pineapple, banana, coconut, orange, cumin, rice, greens

A Hugh Maughn Gus salad should fill a dinner plate. I build mine in 3 levels.

1. The foundation is the leafy greens: romaine, spinach, chard, kale, collards, green cabbage, purple cabbage, bok choy, nappa cabbage, beet greens, mustard greens, lettuces of all kinds, arugula, endive, escarole, raddicio. Vary them, mix and match them, delight in them!

2. The supporting beams are produce: asparagus, squash, peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, artichoke, turnip, rutabaga, jicama, scallions, etc., and ANY fresh fruit. Don't skimp here!

3. The overarching ceiling includes seeds, grains, nuts, and healthy dressings. This is also where I add fatty foods such as avocado or olive. You might enjoy sprouts, chia, hemp, flax, lentils, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pine nuts and other crunchy nuggets. I like both cooked and sprouted grains atop my salads, including barley, millet, rye, groats and wheat, in addition to rice.

Dressing your salad is as much art as building it. Of course, I do not endorse commercial products that are rife with MSG, high fructose corn syrup, refined oils, additives and preservatives. But making dressing can be as simple as pureeing fruit and juices together or sprinkling on some cold-pressed oil with vinegar. If you're looking for gourmet, Anitra Kerr just published 31 tantalizing and healthy recipes in her booklet, Best Dressed Salads. I also recommend Sun Drenchers and Robyn Openshaw's recipes.

Let's celebrate salad!
To your health and happiness,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Handling Travel, Holidays, Special Occasions

Do you inwardly groan when a special event is scheduled that involves eating because there will be nothing on the menu that fits your plan? Do visions of shortening-iced cakes and lard-filled pastries leave you feeling like starvation is the only option you have? These awkward situations can actually be easily handled without much fuss. Try these simple suggestions:
  • BYOG - Yes, bring your own Greens. This is easy for a potluck. Throw together a "Hugh Maughn Gus" salad and be sure to include a bottle of gourmet dressing from one of your favorite healthy recipes or retail outlets. (I suggest Sun Drenchers and Robyn Openshaw's recipes in Twelve Steps to Whole Foods.) If it's a restaurant, airline flight, road trip, or stay at a hotel that you're facing, bringing your own greens may mean packing little bags of dried greens that can be slipped into a drink. Companies offering ready-made packets include Isagenix and Sun Warrior. If you prefer to make your own, you can find instructions on my blog.
  • Eat your veggies first! Even if you decide to try the BBQ ribs or the cheesecake, make sure you try them last! Fill up first on whatever produce you can find! Remember, fruits and vegetables are nutritionally dense, but not concentrated calorically. So the more you eat of them, the less room you have for other foods that will spike your cholesterol, your blood sugar and your calorie-count.
  • Sprouting is always an option. If you are staying overnight somewhere, breakfast the next morning is a snap. Bring a sandwich bag of grains and seeds. Before you go to bed, put 1/4 c. of them in a cup of water and let them soak overnight. This begins the sprouting process. Even if tails are not visible, the seeds are considered live vegetable matter. Drain off the water in the morning and sprinkle these early sprouts over a fruit cup or dip a banana into them. You wouldn't believe how this multiplies the nutritional value of your meal!
  • "It's not what you do once that will kill you; it's what you do everyday that will save you." Understand that your body is not going to explode from one dinner as a guest in someone else's home. Be gracious and grateful. Know that you will soon be back on track. Bodies are resilient. The way you treat yours before and after the big occasion will largely determine how well you maintain your health. Don't use the holiday as an excuse to binge, throw in the towel or otherwise be careless.
  • Go with the flow. If you make a fuss about the food, people are sure to notice what you're NOT eating. Then they'll start insisting that you try this or that, putting you on the spot. Make your choices quietly, enjoy what you can, and keep a plate or glass in your hand to nibble or sip from. Focus on the individuals you are with and the occasion you have to celebrate, and be cheerful!
Following these tips can make the red-letter day something to look forward to rather than dread. So enjoy that anniversary, birthday or barbecue!

To your health and happiness,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Teriyaki Broccoli

Here, by request, is a recipe for broccoli stalks!

Peel and slice the stalks into "coins." Marinate for 30 minutes in enough prepared teriyaki sauce to cover the stalks. Drain. Stir-fry stalks in a lightly-oiled skillet on medium high heat until coins start to brown. Toss in some diced bell pepper and pineapple chunks. Stir-fry another 2-3 minutes. Mmmm!

TERIYAKI SAUCE (may be kept in refrigerator until needed)
1 c. Braggs Liquid Aminoes, Nama Shoyu, or other soy sauce alternative
2 Tb. honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or coconut sugar
1 Tb. minced garlic
1/2 c. pineapple juice, fresh or from concentrate
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 Tb. grated ginger
Combine and store in an airtight container

To your health and happiness,