Search results: "soup" (Page 1 of 7)

Simple Vegetable & Chickpea Soup

Nothing hits the spot on a cold winter day like a warm and cozy bowl of soup. This recipe has quickly become one of our favorites and is one we’ll be making again soon.

About five years ago, I was trying to get to the bottom of years of acid reflux, frequent colds and congestion and seasonal bronchitis, so I removed certain foods from my diet for about 10 days. It was during that time and in the months that followed, that I discovered dairy products to be the #1 trigger of my sinus and respiratory issues. Once I removed dairy, my health issues practically disappeared.

It was amazing.

I had been learning about the health benefits of food for years at that point. But I never realized how connected my diet was to why I got sick so often and wasn’t feeling my best.

Since that time, I’ve continued to “clean up” my diet with the goal of feeling as good as possible as often as possible. I take supplements and probiotics to repair and restore my health after taking years of antibiotics and acid reducers. In addition, I’ve found that foods containing gluten trigger me as well, so I steer clear of them.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking my body through an experiment. It’s kind of like an investigation to better understand why I’ve been feeling a little “off” for the past few months. Because I wanted to get to the root of what my body is trying to tell me, I’ve been following the protocol in the book The Elimination Diet. It’s written by renowned nutritionist, Tom Malterre, and his wife, Ali Segersten, who also authored the Nourishing Meals cookbook.

One of the recipes I tried was for a simple vegetable soup. I used the concept behind the soup as my guide and created my own version of it, which I’m sharing with you today.

It’s full of nourishing, calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients that promote healing and a sense of warmth and comfort. It makes enough to feed 8-10 people, so we like to make it at the beginning of the week to take care of 4-5 meals for both of us. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and serving it with a few hunks of avocado on top is especially delicious!

Veggie Lover Chickpea Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme OR 1 tsp dried thyme
8 cups sodium-free vegetable broth (check out my super EASY recipe here)
3 cups kale, destemmed and chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons Herbamare OR 1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a 4 to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining chopped vegetables, beans, thyme (if you have it) and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add kale, parsley, salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

This soup serves about 8-10 people.

We store it in glass mason jars. If you are going to freeze it, leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the jar to allow for expansion in the freezer.

Two Soups for You! {Moroccan Chickpea & Curried Butternut}

It’s the perfect time of year for a nice big bowl of soup. As the weather cools, my body starts to crave foods like that, so I give it what it wants!

Soup is the ultimate savory comfort food for fall. Remember back to when you were a kid and your parents gave you a bowl of chicken noodle soup when we were sick? How about a dippable bowl of creamy tomato soup for your crunchy, buttery grilled cheese sandwich?

Foods like these are comfort foods because they give emotional comfort to us when we eat them.

Today I’m going to share recipes for two soups we recently tried from culinary translator and food as medicine guru, Rebecca Katz.

I recently wrote a post about her cancer-fighting, brain-boosting, longevity-promoting cookbooks and her famous Magic Mineral Broth. If you missed it, check out that post here. You’ll use the mineral broth in both of these soups, which is why we made it in the first place!

Broth

I love the rich flavors of today’s soups, especially the Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup. When I lived in Spain in college, I was in the southern town of Granada, so I was just a couple hours north of Morocco.

It was at that time that I first started to get comfortable trying new foods and experimenting with what I put on my plate. It also served as my introduction to Moroccan food.

I can’t say that I was always excited to be more adventurous with food, but the payoff has been incredible! I now enjoy so many different types of food and ethnic cuisines I would have not even thought to try before that experience.

The second soup uses my favorite fall squash – butternut – and incorporates healing spices like turmeric, ginger, and cumin along with a rich, creamy can of coconut milk.

Butternut Squash Closeup

I found it to be a little thinner than I prefer, but you can always use less broth to start and then add more to thin it out.

If you’re looking for some immune-boosting, heart-warming, soul food for this weekend or upcoming week, try one of these two soups! They are delicious and packed with flavor.

Get the recipe for the Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup.

Moroccan Chickpea

And the recipe for the Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

BSquash Soup

Creamy Rosemary Sweet Potato Soup {Dairy-Free, Paleo, Vegan}

Creamy foods are comforting and satisfying.

Since removing dairy products from my diet, I’ve had to get more creative about ways to recreate the silky texture that dairy provides.

soup

One of the best ways to do that is using cauliflower, one of the GBOMBS vegetables (AKA some of the best foods we can eat!).

These roasted garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes” and this creamy caulifredo sauce are some of my favorite ways to use cauliflower to create creaminess!

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Because winter feels like it is never going to end here on the East Coast, I’ve been in hibernation mode and have been really into soups lately. I thought I would try blending cauliflower in with a soup to make it creamy and delicious without the downsides of dairy, so that’s what brings us to this recipe!

This soup is simple to make and uses basic ingredients that are easy to find at any grocery store or farmer’s market.

We used Japanese sweet potatoes, which is why the soup is white instead of orange, but any sweet potato will work.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think! 🙂

IMG_8875Soupbanner soupIMG_8876soup2

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In an 8-quart stockpot, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute onion, garlic and a 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes, rosemary, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add the cauliflower and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper. Using an immersion blender or regular blender*, blend until very smooth.
  6. Return soup to pot and whisk in the maple syrup. Add more sea salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Keep the soup warm over low heat until ready to serve. Top with fresh cracked black pepper and a few lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, if you’d like!

*NoteIf using a blender, vent it either by removing the lid’s pop-out center or by lifting one edge of the lid as you blend. Drape the blender jar with a kitchen towel. Blend the soup in batches, filling the jar about 1/3-1/2 for each batch.

Love in a Bowl White Bean & Fennel Soup {Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-free}

The cold weather we’ve been having lately has put me in a serious soup/stew/chili-making mood.

And since my husband gave me this cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas, making these one pot meals has been easier than ever!

Atwater’s, Great Sage, and Zia’s Cafe are my favorite places in Baltimore to buy soups for lunch or dinner when I’m out on the road, but I also like making them myself.

Today’s recipe is for a hearty, colorful White Bean & Fennel Soup that is bursting with flavor. It’s full of powerful, anti-inflammatory veggies like onions, garlic, fennel, and kale, along with fiber-filled beans and a tasty blend of Italian herbs.

When you eat it, it’ll make you smile and warm your soul. That’s why I call it Love in a Bowl 🙂

crockpot bean soup ennel bean souplove in a bowl

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
fennel bulb (stalks removed) and thinly sliced (see how to pictures below directions)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
1 box or can no/low-sodium fire roasted or plain diced tomatoes, with juices (don’t drain)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
4 cups dino kale, destemmed and shredded
1 (15-ounce) BPA-free can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (We love the brand Eden)
Juice from half a lemon, more to taste

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or 8-quart pot, saute onion and fennel in coconut oil until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, herb blend, pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir constantly for 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes with juices, broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Discard bay leaf. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and kale, and continue simmering until kale is tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in beans, and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if necessary. Finish with lemon juice. Serve & enjoy!

In case you missed it, make sure you check out this post for the easiest and cheapest way to make your own vegetable broth from scratch.

How to chop fennel

Creamy Broccoli Cheeze Soup {Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo}

broccoli soup

I know it’s a lot of people’s “favorite things” at Panera (especially this time of year as the weather cools)…

But I’ve never been a fan of broccoli cheddar soup. 

I’m not sure if it’s the concept or the texture or the fact that I’ve always thought broccoli should stay whole and recognizable and not pulverized in a soup with cheese and cream.

Since I cut out milk and cheese over two years ago, I’ve been on the hunt for recipes that deliver on the rich and creamy factor we think can only come from dairy products, and I wanted to challenge myself to try something new.

(I’ll be writing a whole post about why I cut out dairy products, but the short version is they were triggering a lifetime of congestion, ear/sinus/respiratory infections, postnasal drip, allergies, adult acne, and indigestion. If you have any of those symptoms regularly, try cutting out dairy products for 2-3 weeks and notice how much better you feel! I never would’ve believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself. It’s amazing how our bodies can heal when we remove foods that harm us and upgrade to foods that heal us. More on that later!)

IMG_7137

Back to the broccoli soup. 

Because I’m always encouraging people to “try new foods” and give foods they’ve previously sworn off a second chance, I thought I should practice what I preach.

So, I tried a recipe for a “healthified” broccoli cheeze soup.

The skeptic in Bill (and me) was not too confident about how this soup would turn out, so I totally get any reservations you might have about making this recipe…but that’s why we tried it!

And we’re glad we did.

Bill and were BOTH thrilled with how it turned out – rich, creamy and flavorful.

I had to stop myself from drinking it straight out of the mason jars, and we enjoyed it as part of our lunch for several days.

IMG_7099

Here are the UPGRADES in this recipe compared to standard broccoli cheddar soup:

  • Unsweetened almond milk (homemade, too!) instead of half and half (dairy-free)
  • Nooch instead of cheddar cheese
  • No flour (gluten-free!)
  • Way less salt

Not only that, but any excuse to eat more broccoli is a good one – broccoli is known as the DNA whisperer!

broccoli soup

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted* (I used coconut oil, which is a better oil to use for high heat. If you’re paleo but not vegan, you could use grass-fed butter or ghee instead.)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2½ cups unsweetened almond milk (If store bought, avoid the ingredient “carrageenan”)
  • 2½ cups vegetable broth
  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast (Wegmans, Whole Foods, MOMs, Amazon, and any natural food stores sell it!)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Don’t be deterred by the ingredient list or let that be an excuse to not try recipes. I used to do that all the time but found that having key pantry staples on hand made it SUPER easy to make recipes like this.

Most of the time half of the ingredients are things you have in your pantry anyway (i.e., herbs, spices, lemons, onions, and garlic).

Click here for the full recipe details from Running On Real Food!

Soup’s On! My Favorite Cookbook & A Soup You Have to Try {Vegan, GBOMBS}

I was eagerly anticipating a long weekend away to the southern coast of Portugal with several friends from my program in Spain…until something awful happened.

IMG_0281

I got food poisoning.

After all, who doesn’t want to deal with embarrassing GI issues in a foreign country hours away from home and everything familiar? I’ll be honest, it was a pretty miserable and uncomfortable week, and aside from the temporary weight loss, nothing good came of it.

I told my Spanish mom, Matilde, that all I wanted was crushed ice and “cookies without sugar” because I didn’t know how to say “Saltine crackers” in Spanish.

Well, I was told that ice is “dirty” so I shouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t get anywhere with my description of Saltines.

Bummer.

So, aside from some physical discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration, since I had to delay my trip to Portugal, what did my illness mean?

Several days of clear fish broth until I felt better.

Since I had never really eaten any soup other than Campbell’s less-than-impressive and rather sparse chicken noodle soup and didn’t like seafood, eating fish broth was a real treat.

Fortunately, over the next few months, Matilde redeemed the fish broth by introducing me to a variety of other soups and stews that were brimming with vegetables and bursting with deep flavors.  They were filling, warming, and comforting.

We love soups and chilis now and prepare them almost weekly this time of year.

IMG_3230

Here are a few reasons why we are souper excited about soup!

  • They’re cheap. Beans, vegetables, broth, greens, and grains are the base ingredients in most soups. They can be purchased in bulk and are really inexpensive.
  • They last for days, which saves time and money. Cook once, eat three (or more!) times. I love finding ways to save time in the kitchen, especially during the workweek. By taking some time to prepare a soup one day, we save ourselves time (and money!) preparing lunch and several dinners during the rest of the week. Now that football season is over, try to commit to making a soup on Sunday afternoon, and don’t worry about prepping dinner until Tuesday at the earliest!
  • They’re low maintenance and easy to prepare. The great thing about soup is that you can “set it and forget it” by putting it in a crock pot or just leaving it on a low simmer on the stove. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors build. Mmmm…
  • They’re healthy comfort food. Comfort food makes us happy because it is reminds us of home, family or friends and often has a very traditional and simple preparation. Soups are warming, soothing, rich and often reflective of our heritage, too, and there is something really satisfying about that.
  • They’re a great way to get in the healthiest foods on the planet, including leafy greens, beans, and onions! Check out this recipe for an amazing Tuscan Bean Soup we made the other day. We incorporated our Tuscan (AKA dino) kale from Hometown Harvest along with other GBOMBS foods like beans and onions. The addition of red wine added a sweetness and richness that I can still taste!IMG_3235

As a gift to celebrate my completion of graduate school, my mother-in-law gave me what is now one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source is written by Terry Walters, a fellow IIN graduate.

From the Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (you will never want store-bought salad dressing again!), Three Bean Chili, and Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creminis to the Ginger and Pear Crisp and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, we have enjoyed over a dozen of the wholesome, nourishing recipes from Terry’s Clean Food cookbook.

Clean Food

Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!

The Tuscan Bean Soup was the most recent recipe we prepared from Clean Food and is one we will definitely be making again.

You can check out other delicious soups posted on my Pinterest boards!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Feel free to share below! 

Soup’s On! My Favorite Cookbook & A Soup You Have to Try {Vegan, GBOMBS}

I was eagerly anticipating a long weekend away to the southern coast of Portugal with several friends from my program in Spain…until something awful happened.

IMG_0281

I got food poisoning.

After all, who doesn’t want to deal with embarrassing GI issues in a foreign country hours away from home and everything familiar? I’ll be honest, it was a pretty miserable and uncomfortable week, and aside from the temporary weight loss, nothing good came of it.

I told my Spanish mom, Matilde, that all I wanted was crushed ice and “cookies without sugar” because I didn’t know how to say “Saltine crackers” in Spanish.

Well, I was told that ice is “dirty” so I shouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t get anywhere with my description of Saltines.

Bummer.

So, aside from some physical discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration, since I had to delay my trip to Portugal, what did my illness mean?

Several days of clear fish broth until I felt better.

Since I had never really eaten any soup other than Campbell’s less-than-impressive and rather sparse chicken noodle soup and didn’t like seafood, eating fish broth was a real treat.

Fortunately, over the next few months, Matilde redeemed the fish broth by introducing me to a variety of other soups and stews that were brimming with vegetables and bursting with deep flavors.  They were filling, warming, and comforting.

We love soups and chilis now and prepare them almost weekly this time of year.

IMG_3230

Here are a few reasons why we are souper excited about soup!

  • They’re cheap. Beans, vegetables, broth, greens, and grains are the base ingredients in most soups. They can be purchased in bulk and are really inexpensive.
  • They last for days, which saves time and money. Cook once, eat three (or more!) times. I love finding ways to save time in the kitchen, especially during the workweek. By taking some time to prepare a soup one day, we save ourselves time (and money!) preparing lunch and several dinners during the rest of the week. Now that football season is over, try to commit to making a soup on Sunday afternoon, and don’t worry about prepping dinner until Tuesday at the earliest!
  • They’re low maintenance and easy to prepare. The great thing about soup is that you can “set it and forget it” by putting it in a crock pot or just leaving it on a low simmer on the stove. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors build. Mmmm…
  • They’re healthy comfort food. Comfort food makes us happy because it is reminds us of home, family or friends and often has a very traditional and simple preparation. Soups are warming, soothing, rich and often reflective of our heritage, too, and there is something really satisfying about that.
  • They’re a great way to get in the healthiest foods on the planet, including leafy greens, beans, and onions! Check out this recipe for an amazing Tuscan Bean Soup we made the other day. We incorporated our Tuscan (AKA dino) kale from Hometown Harvest along with other GBOMBS foods like beans and onions. The addition of red wine added a sweetness and richness that I can still taste!IMG_3235

As a gift to celebrate my completion of graduate school, my mother-in-law gave me what is now one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source is written by Terry Walters, a fellow IIN graduate.

From the Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (you will never want store-bought salad dressing again!), Three Bean Chili, and Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creminis to the Ginger and Pear Crisp and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, we have enjoyed over a dozen of the wholesome, nourishing recipes from Terry’s Clean Food cookbook.

Clean Food

Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!

The Tuscan Bean Soup was the most recent recipe we prepared from Clean Food and is one we will definitely be making again.

You can check out other delicious soups posted on my Pinterest boards!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Feel free to share below! 

8 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Go

Would you be shocked to hear that almost 20% of meals eaten in the U.S. are eaten in the car?

Sometimes, when I share this statistic, people are surprised it’s not higher, but notice the word MEALS. We’re not talking about the occasional snack or latte. One out of every five meals eaten in this country are eaten in the car while we’re driving.

It’s as though we’ve made food one of our last priorities, settling for what is convenient above all else. In doing so, we’re bypassing the power of digestion by rushing through meals at the same time we’re operating a vehicle. We’re making quick feel-good food choices when we eat away from home, not realizing that we could just as easily pick a nourishing meal that tastes delicious.

I’m here to help. Because I’ve learned how to do it, no matter where I am. My hope is that applying these ideas will boost your confidence in making choices that nourish your body and brain and don’t break the bank. You’ll be able to walk away from the table feeling satisfied instead of stuffed.

It’s totally possible to eat well, even when you’re on the go as often as I am. Here are my top tips for how to make it happen no matter how busy your life is or where you’re traveling.

1) Become a Menu Detective

Restaurants use lots of creative language to get us to order certain items off the menu. But we can outsmart them if we know what those words mean. Take a look at the two lists below. One contains words that describe foods I do my best to avoid because of how I feel after eating them (not good) and the other is packed with adjectives that I opt for when I’m making a selection off the menu.

Eat This: Roasted, Baked, Braised, Steamed, Poached, Broiled, Grilled, Pan-Seared, Sautéed (ask for less oil), Stir-Fried (ask for less oil)

Not That: Creamed, Fried, Smothered, Tempura, Crispy, Breaded, Charred

If you see a menu item prepared using one of the “Not That” options, ask your server if they can prepare it using one of the “Eat This” options above. If the food is fresh, there should not be any reason why they can’t accommodate your request.

2) Plan Ahead and Pack

Did you know that if you pack your lunch every work day and you work for 30 years, you would save $112,000?

That’s A LOT OF MONEY.

Remember back in grade school when you had a lunchbox and a thermos? They make them for adults! You can buy an inexpensive lunchbox at Target, Home Goods or on Amazon, among other places. I also bought a thermos that I use to put reheated leftovers in to keep them warm until lunchtime. I also pack smoothies, and the thermos keeps them cold for several hours as well.

This is the thermos I have. I like it because it has a folding spoon built into the lid!

Here are some ideas for what to pack in your lunchbox:

  • Oatmeal with berries and nut butter
  • Overnight oats like these three recipes from my blog
  • Smoothies (thermoses keep food cold, too!)
  • Leftover soups, stews, chilis (this is our #1 go to)
  • Mason jar salads like this one
  • Canned wild caught salmon with brown rice and sugar snap peas or served on top of a salad
  • Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store served with a salad and quick cooking brown rice
  • Bean/lentil and rice blends from Eden Organics (sold at MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Target). I like to add in some sautéed spinach
  • This simple Chipotle-style burrito bowl

3) Snack Smart

I also like to have snacks on hand for when I haven’t planned meals and need something to sustain me between meals. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Fresh veggies with hummus, guacamole, almond butter (cut up celery & carrots and put in glass baking dish with water in fridge, swap water after 1 week = fresh veggies for 2 weeks)
  • Fruit: apples, clementines, pears, grapes; apples or pears with almond butter / peanut butter / sunflower seed butter squeeze packets
  • Trail mix like this recipe
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • Crispy roasted chickpeas (brands like The Good Bean, Chickpeatos, Saffron Road, Biena)
  • Forager Project yogurt topped with Purely Elizabeth granola
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers pretzel sticks or crackers with Wholly Guacamole packets, nut or seed butter, or hummus
  • Some of my favorite brands of bars that use whole, real ingredients are Ever Bar, KIND (opt for 6 grams or less of sugar), Soul Sprout, Paleo Krunch, Rx Bars, Hemp Heart Bar. Ideally you want less than 10 grams of sugar along with some fiber and protein. My hubby’s faves are Epic Bars and Mighty Bars.

4) Know Where to Go

When you’re on the road and need to stop or are meeting someone for a meal, knowing where to go is half the battle. It sets you up for success to go to a place that serves nourishing food. I intentionally seek places that are farm to table or that prioritize using fresh ingredients.  You can use the apps in Tip #5, but the ideas below should help you, too.

  • Hit up the salad bar or “to go” counter at a grocery store. Try Whole Foods Market (especially Health Starts Here options), Wegmans or Harris Teeter ($4, $6, $8, $10 meals). If we can find a Whole Foods while on the road, we know we’re golden.
  • Go global and try Indian, Thai, Greek or Mexican food. Other cultures tend to eat more colorfully than we do in the U.S. They also are much more liberal with flavorful herbs and spices, which can enhance a dish. As a gluten-free, dairy-free eater, I find that Indian or Middle Eastern restaurants are packed with lots of options I can enjoy!
  • Pick a place that lets you customize your order and fill your plate with lots of veggies. Try places like sweetgreen, Cava Grill, Chipotle, Qdoba, Roti, Chop’t, freshii, Baja Fresh, and Nalley Fresh.
  • Starbucks is my go to breakfast place because I can get steel-cut oatmeal with nuts. I sprinkle some cinnamon on it and often travel with packets of almond butter or sunflower seed butter that I squeeze and stir in to the oatmeal to make it creamier and heartier.

If you’re in the Baltimore area, check out my healthy Baltimore dining guide, which sums up my top places to eat in my hometown!

5) There’s An App for That!

When I’m traveling and don’t know where to go to find a healthy meal, I use a few apps on my phone. I wrote about each of them in this blog post, but thought I’d mention them while we’re here:

  1. Happy Cow
  2. yelp!
  3. Food Tripping
  4. Healthy Out
  5. Eat Well Guide

I highlighted the two I use most often. Happy Cow is great because it highlights plant-based options, which is how I eat, but yelp! is often more inclusive. When I’m searching in yelp!, I use words like “vegan, gluten-free, farm to table, organic, healthy” to find places that will align with my eating preferences.

6) Modify the Menu

Yup. Be that person.

The way I look at it, it’s your money and your body, so you can decide what you eat, so you feel the way you want to feel, even if you’re not cooking it yourself.

I look at the menu as a list of everything that is back in the kitchen. If I see a dish that has a side I don’t want but see another dish with one that I do (maybe roasted Brussels sprouts instead of mashed potatoes?), then I politely and graciously ask the server if they can swap them out.

Sometimes I create a meal from scratch using a variety of ingredients on the menu. I make sure I tip the server a bit extra and ask them to thank the chef. Almost every time, my request has been accommodated.

Remember, it’s YOUR body and YOUR money. Ask for what you want. The worst thing they will say is, “No.”

7) Upgrade Your Order

No matter where I am, I try to keep a simple formula in mind when deciding what to eat: 50% veggies; 25% starchy veg or whole grain; 25% protein (plant-based or animal). It helps me pick meals that are colorful and packed with antioxidant-rich foods. This plate from my health coach training is a visual of that. I opt for half the plate veggies vs. fruit, as most restaurants don’t serve my prefered fruit (berries) with meals.

Image from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Here are a few additional tips to help you upgrade the quality of your meal and make it more nourishing:

  1. Hold the bread. Ask for raw veggies instead. You are better than the cold, stale dinner roll!
  2. Start with a salad or broth-based soup
  3. Load up on veggies and ask to swap your starchy side dish for an additional side of veggies. Roasted veggies are my favorite!
  4. Ask for a veggie side dish as your appetizer. Roasted Brussels sprouts, anyone?
  5. Ask for vinaigrette on the side. See if they will give you lemon juice, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar and olive oil so you can make your own
  6. Add as many veggies as possible to a sandwich or burger and forego at least half of the bun. Lettuce wraps are all the rage these days!
  7. Make the best choices for condiments. Opt for things like guacamole, mustard, salsa, hummus, tahini, and chimichurri.

8) Be the Anchor

In his book, Eat Move Sleep, lifestyle expert Tom Rath shares a simple tip that has stuck with me ever since I read it.

The first person to announce what he or she is ordering sets the anchor for the entire group. If the first person ordering chooses a healthy option, it puts a little pressure on everyone else to do the same.

If you’re committed to nourishing your body with what you eat, be the first one to order when you go out to eat. Your decision will influence the rest of the people at your table. Maybe there are other people you’re dining with who were tempted to get a cheeseburger and fries. When they hear you place your order, they give it a second thought and instead order something that will nourish them and make them feel good for more than 10 minutes they’re eating it.

I typically look up the menu ahead of time if I’m going to a place I’ve never been. That way, I don’t even have to look at the menu when it comes and be tempted by something other than what I know what will make my body feel its best (and taste good, too!).

Give it a try the next time you go out to eat; be the anchor!

And, that’s a wrap! I hope those tips give you some ideas for how to better nourish your busy lifestyle no matter where you are.

Which one stuck with you the most? I love hearing from you!

6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

It’s that time of year again…cold and flu season.

It’s funny how the flu is the only illness that gets a whole season named after it, isn’t it?

What changes this time of year that increases our susceptibility to getting sick? Are colds and the flu inevitable, or can they be prevented?

As someone who used to come down with bronchitis, sore throats, and sinus congestion multiple times a year, I know how inconvenient and uncomfortable being sick is. Over the past few years, the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle and diet boosted my immune system, so I rarely got sick and felt better than ever. Even my husband, an elementary school phys ed teacher, who is exposed to countless sick kids every day, stays well, too.

I can usually get through this time of year without getting sick, but this winter has been a tough one for me. I got sick – sore throat, feeling totally run down, and a bit feverish. Not the full-blown flu, but I felt pretty crappy. I am the worst patient and hate being sick! But my body was sending me a message that I wasn’t taking care of it, so I got run down as a result.

Looking back, I can attribute my weakened immune system to NOT doing all of the things I’ve outlined below on a consistent basis. When I’m following these steps, I don’t get sick. My immune system is strong and fights for me.

So, what are the secrets of those who stay well?  What if we could naturally boost our immune system, so we could thrive through instead of simply survive this time of year? Can we do more to protect ourselves than solely relying on the flu shot and a bottle of hand sanitizer? Most of the medications we take just suppress symptoms but don’t get to the root of why we’re sick. They also interfere with our body’s natural healing process. And we all know washing our hands is certainly important, but…

We can do better.

Here are six tried and true steps you can take to supercharge your immune system and stay well in the winter.

1) Catch Some Zs

Lack of sleep (usually staying up to late) is the #1 trigger for me to get sick.

Though not the most glamorous piece of guidance, getting adequate, quality sleep is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system. Our body uses sleep as a time to rest, repair and restore itself, so when we shortchange ourselves, we compromise our body’s ability to fight back. Sleep disturbances not only reduce our immune response but have also been linked to increased susceptibly to the common cold. One of the best things we can do if we start to feel like we’re coming down with something is to prioritize sleep and get a few extra hours of shut-eye.

Since millions of people have trouble sleeping, try one of these tips to better sleep:

  1. Check out The Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus’s book, The Power of When, to understand how to optimize your daily activities and sleep based on what he calls your “chronotype.” Click this link to take a quick quiz to identify YOUR chronotype.
  2. Set your phone to Night Shift to reduce exposure to stimulating blue light. If you have an iPhone, go into Settings — Display & Brightness — Night Shift. I have mine set to turn on at sunset and turn off at sunrise.
  3. Take a warm bubble bath or lavender epsom salt bath. Taking a bath before bed raises our core body temperature. Stepping out of the bath drops our temperature, which stimulates the release of sleep-promoting compounds. The magnesium in the epsom salts have a calming, anti-anxiety effect, too.
  4. Set your room temperature to 65F. You know how hard it is to sleep in a room that is too warm. A cooler temperature promotes better sleep.
  5. Use the Calm app to find a soothing meditation or relaxing adult bedtime story to prepare you for rest.

2) Begin with the Gut

They might look like Cheetos, but these puffy tubes are actually bacteria. Did you know that bacteria cells outnumber human cells 10:1? That’s right. We’re mostly bacteria.

Because 70-80% of our immune cells are located in and around our digestive system, one of the first places we should focus on to boost our immunity is our “gut.” The bacteria in our gut play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of our immune system and our Western diet, rich in processed packaged foods, and the overutilization of antibiotics has been linked to gut dysfunction and imbalances in our gut bacteria

Increasing our consumption of prebiotics and probiotics is one way we can boost our digestive health and, therefore, our overall health. Prebiotics are fermentable fibers that feed probiotic bacteria. Sources of prebiotic foods include buckwheat, chicory, burdock root, onions, garlic, asparagus, green tea, and blueberries, to name a few. We also want to increase consumption of traditional probiotic-rich foods like miso, natto, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir to promote a healthy gut.

Another option is to take a probiotic supplement. If you do, make sure you go with one that is high quality and proven effective. This review of the top probiotic supplements should help you.

3) Supplement with Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is a powerful immune system regulator. Some experts even suggest that the collective reduction in sun strength and exposure (one of our primary sources of vitamin D) this time of year is what sets most of us up for reduced immunity. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to increased susceptibility to infection, colds and the flu, and many Americans are deficient in this immune-boosting nutrient. 

 The best form to take is vitamin D3. Most supplements are D2, so make sure you check and get D3. Recommendations vary, although the Vitamin D Council suggests 1,000 IUs (international units) for children and 5,000 IUs for adults daily. Vitacost is a great resource for supplements, including D3.

See your doctor to have your vitamin D level checked. It should be at least 30 ng/ml and closer to 50 ng/ml or more for optimal health and cancer prevention. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it should be consumed with some source of fat for optimal absorption. Check out the chart below from the Vitamin D council.

4) Eat Your G-BOMBS

Chronic stress depletes our body of nutrients, so upgrading our nutrition to support our body is especially critical during this time. All of us have heard about the importance of having a colorful diet, but this catchy acronym from Dr. Joel Fuhrman puts a new spin on that age-old advice.

G-BOMBS stands for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds. I’ve written in more detail about them here. These nutrient-dense foods are packed with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that work together to supercharge our immune system. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have antiviral and immune-boosting properties. 

Compounds from onions and other members of the allium vegetable family, like garlic, leeks, shallots and scallions thin mucus and have been found to have anti-asthmatic and antibiotic effects. Beans are rich in prebiotic fiber that helps feed the good bacteria in our digestive system. I eat beans almost every day. Believe it or not, mushrooms are also a significant immune booster and have strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. For more about the power of mushrooms, check out the TEDTalk below.

Whether you enjoy them in salads, smoothies, soups, stews, stocks, steamed or sautéed, eat your G-BOMBS to boost your immunity. Most recipes on this blog are packed full of G-BOMBS. Here are a few GBOMBS-rich soup recipes.

5) Chill Out

This time of year is characterized by heightened levels of stress from travel, holiday shopping, reduced exercise, increases in consumption of alcohol and sugar-laden foods, family get-togethers, time management, and, for many, holiday blues and depression. Do what you can to increase your resiliency to stressors because stress significantly suppresses our immune function.

If you want to thrive through the winter, make time for relaxation and fun, whether it takes the form of meditation, yoga, massage, a mani/pedi, dancing, taking a day off from work, a soothing epsom salt bath or calling a friend, going on a date, playing a game, or spending time in nature, even if it is chilly outside.

You can also just watch this video and search “laughing babies” on YouTube for instant stress relief!

6) Move Moderately

As the weather gets colder, we tend to spend more time indoors and less time moving. Moderate exercise may have a protective effect on the immune system, while excessive exercise and overtraining can depress our immune response.

I love this infographic from Precision Nutrition that gives all the details on exercising when you’re sick.

If you feel like you’re coming down with something, mild to moderate movement is the way to go. Try a dance class like tai chi, yoga, dancing, Nia,or go for a brisk walk, jog or indoor swim. My favorite place to take classes like this in Baltimore is Movement Lab.

So, there you have it! If you want to stay well this winter, thrive instead of survive, and feel the best you’ve ever felt, follow these tips to supercharge your immune system.

Is there anything I’m missing? Any tips you swear by that help you stay well? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

The Easiest Kale Salad Ever

I’ve been making this salad recipe for OVER FIVE YEARS and can’t believe I’ve never shared this recipe with all of you before!

It’s the simplest recipe and the first way I ever tried eating kale.

If you’ve ever been turned off to eating kale because it tasted bitter or was difficult to chew, give this recipe a try. I bet it will change your mind!

Most of us don’t crave salads this time of year because the weather has gotten colder for many of us. As a result, we tend to be drawn to more warming, grounding foods like soups, stews and chilis. Because I tend to eat seasonally, I’m more apt to saute or steam green veggies or throw them into soups, stews, or frittatas instead of having cold salads everyday.

When I do want a salad, I opt for heartier greens like kale, Swiss chard, or peppery arugula in my salads instead of lighter, more watery greens like romaine or Bibb lettuce.

Another benefit to eating a salad like this in the winter is that it is packed with immune-boosting ingredients. Since 70% of our immune system is located in and around our digestive system, what we eat really does matter!

  • Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which have antiviral and antibacterial effects. Their pungent, bitter flavors are health-promoting and detoxifying.
  • Lemons have antiviral and antimicrobial activity
  • Garlic may help the immune system function better during times of need such as in cancer
  • Chickpeas are packed with protein and fiber that keep us feeling full and our blood sugar balanced, which helps keep inflammation at bay

Not only is this salad loaded with ingredients to keep your immune system strong, but it will stay fresh in the fridge for at least two days! Check out the recipe below, and feel free to change it up by adding your favorite toppings.

Easiest Kale Salad Ever

Ingredients

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few pinches of coarse sea salt
Fresh black pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced

Optional add-ins
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, massage lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic into kale leaves with your hands until they start to turn dark green and shrink by about 1/3 in size. If you’re using nutritional yeast, toss it in with the greens. Store salad in fridge for about 30 minutes to allow lemon juice to break down bitterness in greens.
  2. Add chickpeas and sunflower seeds and enjoy!

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