Month: July 2016

3 Secrets to Heal Your Heart {…and Live to 100!}

Baltimore is home to some of the world’s thought leaders in health and medicine. One local organization at the forefront of innovation in healthcare and holistic health is the Institute for Integrative Health.

The Institute’s mission is to create a wellness and medical model to shift society’s focus from managing disease to promoting health. Their approach aligns with mine, as I strive to offer hope that we can be well and feel better, that health and vitality can become the new normal. It’s been a privilege to serve as one of their health educators and instructors over the past year or so.

For the Institute’s most recent healthy happy hour, Dr. Michael Miller, a preventive cardiologist, and his wife and podiatrist, Dr. Lisa Miller, facilitated a discussion about how to heal the heart. At the happy hour, I provided samples of my popular Love Your Heart trail mix before heading into the main room to listen to the Millers’ presentation. (Shout out to my favorite grocery store and cafe, MOMs Organic Market, for generously sponsoring the trail mix! If you haven’t been to their Naked Lunch cafe yet, it’s well worth going and is one of my favorite heart healthy lunch spots in town.)

trail mix

Aside from being an internationally recognized leader in the field of preventive cardiology, Dr. Miller has written the best-selling book, Heal Your Heart, which is the top-rated book on heart disease on Amazon out of over 1,000 books.

Included in the book are Dr. Miller’s Positive Emotions Prescription, over 100 recipes (that I can’t wait to try!), and practical tips to heal your heart and optimize your health and wellbeing. All proceeds from the book go to the American Heart Association.

Dr. Miller opened his talk with insights from centenarians – people who have lived to be over 100 – and identified their secrets to longevity. It’ll make you smile (and the simplicity of their advice may surprise you!):

During his talk, which served as a preview for a four-week coaching series he and his wife will be teaching in the fall, Dr. Miller pointed out the main risk factors for heart disease and what we can do to heal our heart and reduce the likelihood of succumbing to a disease that affects millions of Americans each year.

Most of us are aware of the main risk factors for heart disease and heart attack – smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Dr. Miller touched on those but spent the bulk of his time focusing on the impact of two lifestyle factors – stress and what we eat.

Our bodies were designed to respond to acute stressors (like being chased by a tiger), but most of us are in a state of constant stress these days – one that never seems to shut off. If I had to identify one aspect of my health that I want to transform, it would be how I handle stressful situations in my life and making more time for rest, play and relaxation.

Miller-Talk

One of the comments Dr. Miller made that stuck with me was that chronic stress is the same as cellular aging; stress advances the aging process. Even if we’re eating healthy food, exercising regularly and not smoking, this one factor – stress – can undo a lot of the helpful things we’re doing. That’s how powerful stress is.

Dr. Miller shared the story of a former cardiologist colleague of his who passed away from a heart attack in his mid-50s. The stress that accompanied a new, more demanding job on the other side of the world was too much for his heart to handle and ultimately took his life decades too soon. 

So, what can we do? What are some simple and effective things we can do to help heal our heart? Here are three tips Dr. Miller shared:

1) Add Mind-Body Exercises to Your Daily Routine

Research has shown us that these exercises down-regulate our body’s pro-inflammatory genes, which is exactly what we want to happen! Taking time for ourselves can be challenging, as we may feel selfish, but if we want to be well, self-care is non-negotiable. Here are some ideas for mind-heart exercises to try:

  1. Listen to music you enjoy.
  2. Meditate. Try the Headspace or Calm apps on your phone. They are great guides!
  3. Practice yoga. My favorite YouTube channel for yoga is Yoga with Adriene.

2) Watch a Funny Movie or TV Show

Dr. Miller shared some fascinating research about the blood vessel constriction that happened to a group of participants who watched the harrowing, stress-inducing opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. He compared it to the blood vessel dilation that happened when they watched comedies that made them laugh like Shallow Hal, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. 

After just 15 minutes of laughing, volunteers experienced the same vascular benefit they’d experience from spending 15 to 30 minutes in the gym or from taking a daily statin medication to lower their cholesterol.

Not only that, but the blood vessel expansion lasted for up to 24 hours! Get a good laugh in in the morning, and the positive benefits could last the entire day.

We all agree there are still plenty of benefits to exercising, so keep up your daily movement routine, but don’t downplay the importance of a good laugh.

Need another excuse to watch The Office (my favorite!) or your other favorite funny TV show, movie, or YouTube videos? Permission granted! It’s good for your heart 🙂

3) Fuel Your Body with Heart-Healing Foods

In his book, Dr. Miller lists the top 50 foods that affect heart health and mood. To add an interactive component to the presentation, his wife, Dr. Lisa Miller, made a delicious raw blueberry cashew gelato topped with mashed peaches and a sesame cookie.

A few of the top 50 foods were cinnamon, ginger, peaches, vanilla, cashews, blueberries, maca powder, and sesame seeds. Here are some simple ways to incorporate these foods into your day:

  1. Add 1/2 tsp CINNAMON to your coffee each day. Cinnamon has been shown to lower triglyceride levels (that’s the fat in your blood). and inhibits a protein connect to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  2. Add GINGER to smoothies, use it to make your own tea, and try these delicious ginger energy bites. It reduces plaque buildup and improves mental performance. It also promotes healthy digestion and settles nausea!
  3. Enjoy all of the delicious PEACHES that are in season. Peaches are high in antioxidants and other heart-healthy minerals. Mash them up in a mason jar, stir in some cinnamon, ginger and vanilla and add them to overnight oats or use them as a topping on ice cream, as we did that night.
  4. Enhance flavor (and your libido!) with VANILLA. It has been show to reduce inflammation and has high antioxidant activity. To avoid the alcohol content and bitterness of most liquid vanilla extracts, opt for the powdered version from Nielsen-Massey. We add it to smoothies, ice creams, and most of my energy bites!
  5. CASHEWS served as the base of the ice cream we made. If you don’t eat dairy (all recipe on this blog are dairy-free!), cashews add a creamy consistency to everything from cheesecakes and smoothies to soups, cheese sauces and dips. They are high in antioxidants and lower the risk or macular degeneration.
  6. In addition to being packed with antioxidant and blood sugar regulating components, BLUEBERRIES inhibit cortisol – the major stress hormone that runs rampant under chronic stress and adds weight to our bellies. Dr. Miller has a large handful of blueberries every day and swears by their eye health-promoting properties!
  7. MACA powder is derived from a Peruvian radish and has a malt-like taste that I absolutely love. I toss it into smoothies and my chocolate bark and find it pairs especially well with chocolate. It’s known for being a hormone-balancing food and has high antioxidant and blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose-lowering properties. This is the kind of maca powder I order on Amazon.
  8. SESAME SEEDS help regulate blood sugar and contain cholesterol-lowering compounds that protect our heart. Enjoy the seeds themselves and try tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds that we use to make salad dressings super creamy! You can find it in the international aisle of the grocery store. Trader Joe’s just started carrying it, too.

Dr. Lisa Miller’s raw cashew blueberry gelato combined several of those delicious ingredients, and I will share the recipe for it (and her sesame tahini cookies!) in my next post.

In the meantime, here are a few action steps to take if you want to keep learning more about this topic (and spend more time with the Millers and me):

  1. Buy Dr. Miller’s book, Heal Your Heart, on Amazon by clicking here.heal-your-heart-book
  2. If you want to be part of Dr. Millers’ Positivity Challenge Coaching Program in the fall, click here to learn more and register.
  3. Leading up to the Millers’ challenge, I will be teaching a two-part cooking class series about healing foods that you won’t want to miss! Click here to learn more and register.

Sweet Potato, Edamame & Quinoa Bowl

What if meal prep and planning could be easier? Cheaper? Tastier? More nourishing?

During the typical work week when I have lots of presentations and meetings and spend a good amount of time in my car, one of the best ways to make sure I stay energized is to have nourishing meals readily available.

I was preparing to teach a cooking demo about Meal Planning Made Easy to a client in DC and shared how to make overnight oats and mason jar salads. I knew I wanted to add one more recipe into the mix. I thought about the types of meals Bill and I typically prepare during the week without following recipes and was inspired to create this recipe.

sweet-potato-bowl-closeup

We tend to use recipe templates instead of always following a recipe line by line. In addition to the versatile overnight oats and mason jar salad recipes, grain bowls are another template we roughly follow when coming up with meals.

They’re easy to assemble. We toss together whatever veggies, grains and proteins we have and mix everything up with a homemade dressing (or whatever we have in our fridge!). We top everything off with chopped nuts or seeds to add some crunch.

In this Sweet Potato, Edamame & Quinoa Bowl, I combined a gluten-free grain (quinoa) with a fiber-filled roasted veg (sweet potatoes) and protein (edamame), a pop of color and greenery (scallions), and some crunch and healthy fat (cashews). I topped everything off with my favorite salad dressing of all time plus one of my favorite anti-inflammatory, digestion-loving, heart healthy ingredients – fresh ginger root.

ginger-389906_1920

My husband, Bill, and I love this dish so much that we’ve made it twice in the past few weeks. It can be served warm or chilled, and it’s lasted us for multiple dinners and lunches each time, which has saved us time and money.

We decided to repurpose the dressing from our favorite kale salad for this recipe and added minced ginger to boost the flavor even more.

sweet-potato-bowl

Print

Sweet Potato, Edamame & Quinoa Bowl

This dish has every texture and flavor you could want in a dish and is ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa uncooked
  • 2 cups shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews lightly toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup scallions chopped

Creamy Ginger Tahini Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 small cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch ginger root peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roasted for 20-25 minutes until pierced easily with a fork.

  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Spread quinoa on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool and prevent it from clumping together. This last step is optional but really helps.

  3. While quinoa is cooking, cook edamame according to package directions and then set aside.

  4. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small jar. Set aside.

  5. Put cooled quinoa in a large bowl and add sweet potatoes, edamame, scallions, and cashews. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine evenly. Add more sea salt and pepper to taste.

8 Great Healthy Date Ideas for Summer

Making time to connect with each other is one of the keys to being well and feeling nourished (in every sense of the word!). As adults, it can be easy for us to stick with what we know and do the same activities over and over again, especially in the summertime.

I love hanging out poolside as much as the next person, but if you’re looking for fun and nourishing things to do in the summer to change up the typical routine, I have some great ideas for you, your friends and your family.

Spending the past weekend with my friend, Jessica Yeager, a fellow culinary nutrition alum and blogger, inspired me to write this post. We don’t see each other that often, so I planned some healthy and fun activities for us to do when she came to visit me in my hometown of Baltimore.

If you live in or near Baltimore or plan to visit at some point, these are places and things I highly recommend checking out and trying. If you live elsewhere, use these ideas as inspiration and the links I provide within each tip as resources for fun things to do where you live!

date-ideas-cover

#1 Visit a Local Restaurant that Serves Nourishing Food

Where We Went: One of my favorite places to have lunch, dinner or brunch just outside of Baltimore is Great Sage restaurant. They specialize in plant-powered vegan dishes and offer lots of gluten-free options, so I know I can go there and eat a delicious meal without any concern that my body will feel unwell afterwards. I had just been the week before to celebrate my birthday but knew we had to go back when Jessica came to town.

We met up with our friend and fellow culinary nutrition alum, Katie Hussong, for dinner and were greeted by the friendliest and most hospitable restaurant manager I’ve ever met, Scott Carberry. My husband, Bill, had taken me there the week before for my birthday dinner, a tradition we started last year.

great-sage-collage

We started our meal with refreshing ginger-ades and a rich and creamy spinach artichoke dip that you’d forget didn’t contain cream or dairy. The Avocado Pink Peppercorn salad with roasted beets and sliced watermelon radishes on a bed of Bibb lettuce was the highlight of my meal and one of their most popular summer salads. The bean and lentil burger and hearts of palm crabcake rounded out our meals, and we had to order dessert. Great Sage’s carrot cake is to die for and is gluten-free and dairy-free.

You Can Do It, Too! If you’re looking for healthy places to eat in and around Baltimore, check out this post on the subject. If you’re not local to the area, use these tips to find healthy places to eat near you. The Happy Cow website/app are my go to resources for finding healthy eateries and the app Food Tripping is worth checking out, too.

#2 Pick Your Own Fruits or Veggies at a Nearby Farm

Where We Went: Just outside of Baltimore lies one of the best kept secrets where you can pick your own organic berries – Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm. I found out about a few years ago from friends at church, who love to take their kids there, and it is worth the trip every time!

From blueberries to black raspberries and blackberries, this beautiful farm is the place to come for Baltimore’s best berries. They also harvest bunches of lavender, which you can purchase as well.

Grab a bucket and get picking! You pay by the pound and may end up with more than you intended. If that is the case, I just lay them out on a baking sheet in the freezer WITHOUT washing them, wait until they freeze and then put them in a freezer-safe bag or container to use for smoothies, fruit crisps, pancakes and other goodies later.

hybridoma

You Can Do It, Too! Want to learn more about Hybridoma? Click here to visit their website. To find a pick-your-own farm near you, check out LocalHarvet.org and search by zip code.

#3 Grab a Quick & Healthy Lunch {& Try Something New!}

Where We Went: There are so many places to find a healthy lunch in Baltimore, but one of my favorite places is the Naked Lunch cafe inside of MOMs Organic Market (my favorite grocery store) in Hampden. MOMs and Whole Foods Market both have great options for a quick, affordable and nourishing lunch when you’re on the go, but the Naked Lunch wins out for me.

Jessica tried the jackfruit BBQ (one of the trendiest foods on the scene these days!) with a side of the cauliflower steak. I had the cauliflower steak bowl, which was served on a bed of brown rice, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach tossed in a chimichurri sauce. Talk about flavor!

cauliflower-steak-moms

You Can Do It, Too! The MOMs in Hampden, DC, Rockville and Bryn Mawr (PA) all have Naked Lunch cafes, so if you are near any of those areas, check one out. If you’re outside of those areas, use Happy Cow, Food Tripping or Yelp! to find a healthy lunch near you.

#4 Hit Up a Local Festival or Event

What We Did: Each year in the summer, Baltimore hosts Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival that attracts over 350,000 people over three days. There are dozens of artists, musicians and food vendors to visit, including quite a few that are health promoting. Rhythm Superfoods was there giving away free bags of kale chips and considering how hot it was, we knew we had to grab one of the frozen fruit pops made with local and organic ingredients from Pop Couture. Jessica tried the Banana Coconut and I had the Mint Lemonade. So refreshing and delicious!

We made sure to stop by the tent with what I think is the most beautiful art on the planet – watercolor food art done by Marcella Kriebel from nearby DC. Her artwork is stunning and is hanging in several areas in my house, including my new kitchen. Check out Marcella’s work on Etsy. I snagged a picture with her at her booth at Artscape, and I’m going to interview her for a future blog post, so stay tuned!

artscape-2016

You Can Do It, Too! Check out websites like Everfest, Eventbrite and Eventful to find local festivals, concerts, and events near you. These websites are great to check out if you’re going on vacation and want to know some fun things to do where you’re staying.

#5 Go Where the Locals Go

What We Did: My #1 favorite place to spend time in Baltimore is Belvedere Square Market. I grew up going there on Saturday mornings with my mom and now go to see “my people” and eat some of my favorite foods. We stopped by Plantbar, a juice and smoothie bar with other grab-and-go meals and treats, that specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free options. My friend, Daniela, opened it a few years ago after the success of her other restaurant with the same vibe, Zia’s Cafe, in Towson. We had a Daily Greens juice with some ginger added. It was refreshing and energizing, perfect for a pick-me-up after walking around in the heat at Artscape.

From there we stopped by Hex Ferments, a fermented food shop that uses local, organic ingredients to make create fermented food combinations, including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, and kombucha. The Butterfly Lime kombucha was our favorite that day…probably because it was purple! We each grabbed a pickle and sat down to enjoy a snack before our last stop at my absolute favorite chocolate place in the world – Pure Chocolate by Jinji.

belvedere

I wrote about her story and her chocolates here, but all you need to know about this place is that you have to try it. She specializes in making incredibly decadent, beautiful and creative combinations of chocolate treats that happen to be raw, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Every person I’ve ever taken there raves about it, and it is a highlight of living in Baltimore. We had the peanut butter stuffed Turkish figs, peanut butter and jelly fudge, and the blueberry tobacco (quite unique!) and lemon cranberry Pucker truffles.

You Can Do It, Too! To learn more about Belvedere Square, visit their website here. They also have a summer concert series on Friday nights that is a lot of fun, too! To find where the locals eat near you, check out the LocalEats website.

#6 Shop Local and Make Dinner At Home

What We Did: It would have been easy to find another place to go out to eat, but we were ready to relax a bit and keep dinner simple. We stopped by MOMs Organic Market again and grabbed some fennel, leeks, and Cappello’s paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookie dough.

We came home and started chopping up our veggies, adding in some garlic and broccoli. We roasted the fennel, broccoli, and onions in the oven at 400F for about 40 minutes total, taking the broccoli out halfway. We sautéed the leeks and garlic on the stovetop, adding in a can of cannellini beans just before we were ready to eat. We tossed the roasted and sautéed veggies and beans together in the pan and topped it with a few squeezes of lemon juice and salt and pepper and had ourselves a locally grown, quick and tasty meal.

dinner-jess

We finished off the night with some of THE best gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookies from Cappello’s. You can eat the dough raw (we may have done this) and/or bake it into cookies!

You Can Do It, Too! Hit up the farmer’s market or grocery store near you to grab some foods that are in season. Roast, steam or sauté them and then toss everything together with a plant- or animal-based protein and top with a vinaigrette or simple homemade sauce. Keep it simple 🙂

There were two things we didn’t get to do that we’ll plan to do the next time we hang out, so here are two more ideas for you…

#7 Take a Hike!

What You Can Do: There are so many peaceful and beautiful hiking and walking trails nearby, and you can find some where you live by visiting AllTrails.com. I’m stoked for the hiking I’ll be doing during my upcoming trips to Upstate NY and Portland, Oregon! It’s a great way to move more, talk and enjoy the beauty around you.

#8 Go on a Groupon Date

What You Can Do: My husband and I and our friends have used ideas on Groupon to explore fun activities we might not think of on our own. From cooking lessons and paint nights to yoga classes and sporting events, you can find some fun ideas for things to do on Groupon…and save money at the same time!

So, there you have it! Those are a just a few ideas for how to upgrade your summer plans to include health, community and wellbeing and have fun at the same time.

Now, I’ve got a question for YOU! 🙂

What are some of your favorite healthy activities to do or places to go in the summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Mason Jar Meals: Carrot & Chickpea Salad {Video}

Are you looking for some ideas to make meal prep during the week quicker, easier and more nourishing?

I’ve been teaching my Meal Planning Made Easy workshop to a bunch of different companies lately. One of the recipe demos I like to show is how to make mason jar salads. They’ve easy, versatile, and convenient. You can prep a few of them at a time, so you can literally just grab, go, and shake your lunch during the week.

Below is a visual of a mason jar salad how-to.

If you want to add crunch from nuts or seeds or add some creaminess with avocado, it’s best to add them just before serving so the nuts and seeds don’t get soft and the avocado doesn’t turn brown. I also wait to add things like the veggie burger that goes on top of this particular salad, so it doesn’t get soggy.

I love this mason jar salad how-to illustration from Real Simple.

This particular recipe for a Carrot Slaw and Chickpea Salad is from Relay Foods, an online grocery store service we’ve been using for the past few months to make meal planning less expensive, more convenient…and a little more exciting!

My husband, Bill, and I LOVED this salad! 

It’s packed with flavor, textures and colors. The only ingredient that might not be familiar is watercress, which is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery taste. It’s packed with antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds. It’s often in a clear bag or box in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and you may have to go to a health food store to find it. An easy substitute would be arugula, a leafy green with a similar peppery taste. To learn more about the health benefits of watercress, click here.

This recipe also happens to include our FAVORITE veggie burger  – the Hemp & Greens burger by Hilary’s Eat Well. They’re allergen-friendly veggie burgers made from real food…no fake stuff here! Crunchy, flavorful, and delicious when baked, you can crumble them into a salad. We’ve tried every flavor and always have a package of them in our freezer. We buy them at MOMs Organic Market, but you can find where they sell them near you using this store locator.carrot-slaw-ingredients

I decided to take a stab at making one of those Buzzfeed Tasty-type videos, showing the how to of this recipe, so you can see me make it step-by-step.

My husband, Bill, is WAY more talented with technology than I am, so he did all the editing. I now know some tweaks I’ll make the next time I shoot a video (which will be for the easiest kale salad ever!), but I think this one is a good start!

I made a few modifications to the recipe in the video to simplify it, so you can either use the original recipe from Relay Foods for this Carrot Slaw Salad with Watercress and Chickpeas Mason Jar Salad OR try the simpler version below that’s made with a quick lemon vinaigrette.

Print

Carrot & Chickpea Mason Jar Salad with Arugula

Course Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 pound shredded carrots
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 5-ounce package arugula or spinach
  • 2 Hilary's Eat Well veggie burger patties toasted
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or almonds

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt, oil, and honey. Pour desired amount into the bottom of each quart-size mason jar (about 2 tablespoons).

  2. Prepare each mason jar salad by adding even amounts of the chickpeas, carrots, and greens.

  3. Cook the burger patties according to package directions in a toaster oven. Toast the patties just before serving to enjoy them crispy and warm (rather than soggy) if you're eating them throughout the week for lunches. Add the patties and nuts to the salad jar, cover with a lid and then shake it up or pour it in a bowl and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you are going to make a few of these ahead of time, toast the burger the day of and put the nuts or seeds on at the last minute, so they stay crunchy.

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