After coming out of the East Coast winter that never seemed to end, I’m excited to see the blossoms blooming, hear birds chirping as I wake up, get back into running and hiking, and lighten up my meals.
As the weather warms up, I find my body craving lighter, more refreshing foods. I love my soups, stews and winter squashes (see you in the fall, butternut!), but the bright colors of springtime foods draw me in!
Today’s salad is a new take on a salad I first tried about two years ago. I swapped out a few ingredients and ended up with a colorful bowl of tart,crunchy, sweet, and citrus-y goodness.
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear. Fill medium saucepan with 2 cups water and add quinoa and kombu. Bring to a boil then cover with a lid and reduce heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Once water is just barely absorbed, remove from heat and leave covered for 5-7 minutes. Remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. Spread quinoa on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool and prevent it from clumping together. This last step is optional but really helps!
Whisk honey, lemon juice, salt and olive oil together in a small jar. Set aside.
Put cooled quinoa in a large bowl and add apples, celery, cranberries, parsley, scallions and chopped almonds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine evenly. Add more sea salt and pepper to taste.
I was teaching a workshop about Eating for Energy last week at a company, and one of the employees said she would love some creative ideas for how to use cauliflower, so I thought I’d dedicate an entire post to it.
This one is for you, Deb!
For starters, cauliflower is one of the most nutrient-packed yet under appreciated veggies out there. This less colorful cousin of our beloved broccoli happens to be one of the best foods we can eat, yet very few of us eat it!
Cauliflower is one of Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS, which are the most powerful, nutrient-packed, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, disease-fighting foods on the planet! Most of what we eat on a daily basis are GBOMBS. To learn more about them, click here.
Here are just a few more reasons why you’ll want to add more of this cruciferous vegetable to your life:
Packed with vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants that helps our cells protect and repair themselves from damage, which is essential for optimizing our health
Contains sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth, AND improve blood pressure
Source of potent anti–inflammatory nutrients. Chronic inflammation (caused by stress, what we eat, lack of movement, etc.) can significantly increase our risk of cancers and other chronic diseases, so we want to do anything we can to reduce inflammation!
Supports our body’s detoxification (“clean up”) process, which is important because we are exposed to so many environmental and dietary toxins on a daily basis
To learn more about the awesomeness of cauliflower, click here or here.
Most of us are familiar with eating raw or steamed cauliflower, but there SO many other ways to use this versatile veggie that taste amazing!
Why not try something a little more exciting? 🙂
You can roast it, make a substitute for mashed potatoes out of it, turn it into a pizza crust, whip up a batch of cauli-fredo fettuccine sauce (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!), and use it to make soups creamy.
Check out the links below to 10 recipes that will make you fall in love with cauliflower.
My husband and I are in the process of renovating our kitchen (yay!) and have set up shop in our basement for the duration of the construction process.
I’ve been coming into my own in my job and am constantly learning and growing, honing my speaking, presenting and consulting skills and continuing to build an identity as Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen.
I’m preparing for my first national speaking gig at the Wellness Council of America’s National Summit in Orlando in April. It will be the first time I have the opportunity to take my message and passion to a larger stage. I’ve been brainstorming creative ideas to present the content and convey my message in a way that will leave everyone feeling energized, inspired and hopeful.
Yet, in the midst of all of this time of opportunity and growth, I often feel like I’m struggling, pushing and pressing without a clear vision of what the final outcome will look like. What is the unique message and contribution that will define my work? What do I need to do to figure that out? How long will it take?
If you’re going through a time of growth or challenges in your life right now, my hope is that what I’m about to share will restore your hope and encourage you.
If you prefer to watch or listen to a quick video, click below. Otherwise, keep reading. Or, do both!
Does it ever seem like certain words, images, names, numbers or symbols keep making their way into your life? What is the connection? Why do they keep coming up? What are they trying to teach us?
For me, that image has been a butterfly.
I started to connect the dots about why this might be when I was having a conversation with my dad a couple of months ago. I was preparing for a presentation about goal setting. He explained to me what happens when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly in a way that I had never heard before that has stuck with me ever since.
As the lowly caterpillar or larva goes through a process of metamorphosis to become what will one day be a beautiful butterfly, something remarkable happens.
The larval phase transitions to the pupa phase, also know as the resting phase. Despite what its name might suggest, a great deal of transformation is happening beneath the surface.
During this time, most of the tissues and cells that make up the larva are broken down inside the pupa, and that material is rebuiltinto the adult version – the butterfly.
As the butterfly approaches its moment of release and freedom, when it will finally be able to fly, its wings are pushing, pushing, pushing against the inside of the pupa.
It’s that pushing motion that strengthens the butterfly’s wings, so that when it is ready to emerge, it is able to fly.
If we were to take a pair of scissors or a knife and slit open that cocoon prematurely, before the butterfly was ready, it wouldn’t be strong enough to fly.
It is strengthened by its struggle.
Aren’t there so many time in our lives when we feel like shouting, “Now is the time! or “I’m tired of waiting!”?
We wonder when we will be able to see the payoff of our efforts. This “I want it now” mentality that pervades our society is something I wrestle with on a regular basis.
“I’m ready!” I declare.
But, maybe I’m not.
Maybe my time is yet to come.
Maybe I’m being prepared for something even greater than I can imagine.
In those moments, I’m reminded of the journey of the butterfly and its process of transformation and building strength. It’s only when the butterfly is ready and has built up its strength that it can take flight.
As I was sharing this story with my friend, Jinji, the other day, she said something so simple that captured its essence and resonated with me in a profound way:
Caterpillars don’t know that they’re going to become a butterfly.
Sit with that for a moment.
The caterpillar didn’t know it would transform into a beautiful, vibrant, fascinating creature, just as we don’t know what’s in store for our lives.
We might feel small and insignificant at times, but what if we’re simply being prepared for something greater, something we can’t even fathom?
Jinji’s words tied in perfectly with a lesson that resonated with me at a women’s retreat I attended with my mom in Gettysburg in February. We had the opportunity to create a watercolor picture image to represent something that was meaningful to us that weekend, and this is what I drew and painted.
We never know what these stepping stones along our journey could be strengthening us to be able to do one day. Let’s not look down on them. They are a necessary part of our preparation.
Think about what is being brought into your life to strengthen you, to prepare you for what you’re meant to do and who you’re meant to be.
I want to leave you with one final thought, one more glimmer of hope.
Without knowing any of these butterfly moments I was experiencing, my friend, Gina, gave me a devotional last week, and on the inside cover, she put this sticker:
I was overcome with a sense of peace as I read it.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
That reminder was just what I needed.
We could be on the edge of our greatest moment, on the verge of “arriving,” and not even know it.
So, trust the process.
And hold on to hope.
Because when you are ready, and only when you are ready, you will be called to spread your wings and fly.
One of my coworkers has peanut, tree nut and coconut allergies, so I challenged myself to make something she could enjoy along with everyone else for a cooking demo I taught today at work.
That’s how these bars came to be.
They’re slightly sweet, salty, tart, crunch and chewy – lots of tastes and textures to keep your taste buds happy!
The main ingredient is sunflower seed butter, which is where this recipe gets its “sunny” name. I’ve written about Sunbutter in a previous post here. You can find it at any grocery store (often in the natural food aisle) and at Target and Walmart. Target sells it in single serve to go packets, which is super convenient.
I shared a variation of this recipe back in the fall for a healthy snacks for kids cooking class but changed it up a little bit, so you wouldn’t need a food processor to make it. I also swapped out cranberries for raisins and used less sweetener overall.
This recipe comes together in about 5-7 minutes, so it’s easy to make in a pinch for an energizing snack!
Yield: 20-24 squares
3 cups whole rolled oats (I love Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free brand)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seed butter (or peanut butter)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon honey (add more if you want sweeter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Water, as needed
Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper. Combine oats, cinnamon, sea salt, pumpkin seeds and cranberries in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat sunflower seed butter and honey on medium-low, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour liquid over oats and stir with a spoon or your hands to combine. If it’s too try, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it sticks. Once everything comes together, press mixture into lined pan, using the back of a spatula or excess parchment paper to press it down and flatten the top.
Refrigerate for at least an hour to set. Lift parchment from pan and cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator.
The first potluck I can remember going to was in the large fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church I attended as a kid. Though there was more food than there were people to eat it, I have such positive memories of coming together with community to share a meal.
Last year, my friend, fellow health coach and culinary nutrition expert, Katie Hussong, and I decided to start a local potluck group called Charm City Cooks. Our goal was to bring people together regularly to share nourishing and delicious meals and create a safe space to build community.
Our first potluck was centered around recipes in The Undiet Cookbook, written by our culinary nutrition instructor, Meghan Telpner.
We had so much fun, we decided to do it again, even though winter weather postponed our plans…twice! On a beautiful, cool and crisp, spring-like Friday evening, we came together to share recipes from the blog, YumUniverse.
I love trying recipes from other bloggers and introducing you to those wonderful people as well, so you can expand your recipe bank and find new sources of cooking inspiration.
YumUniverse invites their readers to do this:
Discover the infinite possibilities for a plant-inspired, gluten-free lifestyle with veggie junkie, author and recipe developer, Heather Crosby
I’ve experienced so much vitality along with health and beauty benefits since boosting my intake of plant-based foods about five years ago. I believe the life in food gives us life and that colorful, vibrant foods help to build vibrant bodies. That’s why I center most of what I eat around plant-based foods.
YumUniverse has hundreds of beautiful and tempting recipes on their site, so it was hard to choose what to make, but these are the recipes we picked for our potluck:
We’re already planning the next gathering and look forward to what dish each person will be inspired to bring. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your friends or family and want to try new recipes and build community, plan your own cookbook potluck party!
The Charm City Cooks crew after our YumUniverse meal!
With all of the talk and media buzz about the latest and greatest superfoods, sometimes we lose sight of how amazing some of the most basic and familiar foods are.
That’s why today is all about OATS!
Whether you know them by oatmeal raisin cookies, a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or as a common ingredient in granola, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve eaten oats before. The oats I recommend buying are whole rolled oats (rather than the packets or “quick oats.”). If I want a chewier texture, I’ll change it up and use steel cut oats.
Oats are PACKED with some pretty awesome body and brain-boosting benefits:
With more soluble fiber than any other grain, oats help us stabilize our blood sugar, energy and mood AND help slow digestion and increase feelings of fullness
The contain compounds that help lower our cholesterol, which is why they are commonly recommended as a heart healthy food.
Second only to quinoa in protein content, oats contain a variety of amino acids, which serve as the building blocks to everything from our skin, hair and nails to our enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters
Oats are rich in anti–inflammatory and antioxidant–rich compounds that protect our body and our brain
Oats are the star of today’s video that shows you how easy it is to make your own granola using everyday ingredients. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble and only about 30 minutes to cook. Once you see how simple it is to do yourself, you won’t want the store-bought stuff!
Check out these other posts about two more granola recipes I’ve shared before:
1/2 cup honey or 100% pure maple syrup (or a combo of both!)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or goji berries
Preheat oven to 300F.
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cinnamon and sea salt and stir to combine. Add honey, coconut oil and vanilla and combine with a large spoon or your hands until all of the pieces are coated and begin to stick together.
Press granola onto a lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes, removing the pan to turn the granola with a spatula every 10-12 minutes. For more clumps, firmly press granola onto sheet with the back of your spatula or spoon after you toss it for the first time and don’t toss it again.
When granola begins to smell fragrant and is starting to turn golden, remove it from the oven to cool. Once cool, add dried fruit and toss to combine. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
If you want granola that clumps together more, substitute 2-4 tablespoons of whisked egg whites in place of some of the oil.
I feel that way frequently as I’m constantly pursuing the next thing, the thing that will set me apart and propel me forward. The thing that will define my work and bring it to a wider audience. What is the book I’m “supposed to” write? What will I offer to the world that is unique and remarkable? How will I know when I’ve “made it”? And what does that even mean?
It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race – to feel like everyone is passing you on their way to the top, that you’re not moving quite fast enough. That you’ll miss your chance.
I struggle with this bigtime.
Maybe you do, too.
That’s why I want to share this video with you – for encouragement. I’m saying these words to you as much as I’m saying them to myself. Because I need to hear them, too. Sometimes we just need to take a pause and allow ourselves to be reminded of what is true instead of focusing so much on the next “to do.”
The book I mentioned in the video is by Geneen Roth and is called Women Food and God. She is a remarkable writer and inspiration.
There’s a lot of talk about “superfoods” these days.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we hear about all the nutrient-packed foods we “should” add to our diet like maca powder, goji berries, and spirulina. Given what I do for a living and because I like experimenting with food, I often have these foods in my pantry. They’re fun to add in to desserts, smoothies, chocolate bark and even trail mixes.
BUT, do you have to stock up on specialty superfoods like these in order to be well nourished?
There are so many amazing everyday foods we can eat that don’t cost a lot of money, are easily accessible, and, in most cases, are already familiar to you.
I’m going to be focusing on highlighting some of these simple superfoods over the next few months to encourage you to take different spins on how to make them more exciting. Whenever I get into the mode of experimenting with new ways of cooking the same food, it makes me want to eat it more often.
The first food has always been my favorite vegetable.
Loaded with fiber, bone-building calcium, and immune-boosting, cancer-preventive, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying compounds, broccoli is one of the most nourishing foods we can eat. Fortunately, there are so many amazingly delicious ways to prepare it.
The recipes below showcase this nutrient-packed super star in a number of ways – in soups, lightly steamed, sauteed, and my favorite way…roasted!
Roasted broccoli is quite possibly one of the most delicious foods on the planet, especially in recipe #9 for Garlicky Roasted Broccoli and in recipe #6 as a pop of color and texture in THE BEST dairy-free mac and cheese.
Here are ten of my favorite broccoli recipes. Add one or two to next week’s meal plan!
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