Category: Anti-Inflammatory Page 3 of 8

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.

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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.

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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

Sweet Potato, Edamame & Quinoa Bowl

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

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)
  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.

11 Recipes that Will Make You Fall in Love with Lentils

“Beans! Beans! Good for your heart. The more you eat the more you…”

🙂

I’ll be honest, that little song didn’t mean much to me for most of my life because I didn’t eat beans! Aside from the occasional lima bean or green bean, I didn’t eat so much as a chickpea until I was an adult.

When I was a junior in college, I spent a semester abroad in southern Spain and was exposed to dozens of foods I had never eaten before. Since I was a picky eater, I wasn’t exactly excited about this but knew it was a way I needed to grow. I even told my study abroad program I was allergic to seafood, so I wouldn’t have to try any of it!

I remember sitting down for lunch one day, as my host mom, Matilde, served me a big bowl of what looked like tiny, brown flying saucers (got that reference from Rebecca Katz!).

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It turned out to be lentil and carrot stew, and I had no choice but to try it (doing anything else was considered rude in Spain). Fortunately, Matilde was so skilled at combining flavors in delicious ways that I tried it and loved it! Now, lentils are one of my favorite foods.

They also happen to be packed with nutrition to fuel your body and brain! Check it out:

  • They are PACKED with energy-balancing, weight-stabilizing, fill-you-up fiber. *In fact, lentils fill me up more than any other food I eat.*
  • They’re an excellent source of plant-based protein. Green and French lentils are especially high in protein!
  • They’re mineral-rich and contain calming magnesium, heart healthy potassium, and are the #1 plant source of folate, which is essential for brain and nervous system function, healthy pregnancy and fetal development, reduced cancer risk and heart health support
  • They’re one of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GBOMBS foods, which are some of the most nutrient-packed, anti-inflammatory, disease-preventive foods on the planet.

It’s nice to know that lentils are such a nourishing food, but where do we buy them and how do we cook them?

There are several different kinds of lentils, but the ones I tend to use the most are green lentils, French lentils and red lentils. Red lentils cook much faster but aren’t as firm as the other two kinds and contain less protein, so I don’t use red lentils as much as green we always have them on hand. Our favorite kind of pasta is actually made out of red lentils (one ingredient!) and is made by a company called Tolerant. We find it cheapest at Home Goods, but Whole Foods and MOMs sell it, too.

tolerant rotini

Every grocery store sells lentils, and you’ll find them either in the international aisle or in the health food aisle. Trader Joe’s also sells several different kinds of lentils, so we end up buying ours there to save a buck or two.

I scoured some of my favorite blogs and pulled together 11 lentil-loving recipes ranging from salads to soups to casseroles. I hope they inspire you to get excited about trying these little filling, fueling legumes!lentil-cover-image

Red Lentil Hummus by Jo Cooks

Lentil Bolognese from i heart eating (We made this for dinner this past week and served it over Tolerant lentil pasta…it was DELICIOUS!)

Photo Credit: i heart eating. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: i heart eating. Used with permission.

Balsamic Lentil Salad from Destination Delish

Photo credit: Destination Delish. Used with permission.

Photo credit: Destination Delish. Used with permission.

Cozy Quinoa Buddha Bowl from Simply Quinoa

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Photo Credit: Simply Quinoa. Used with permission.

Curried Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole from Nourishing Mealscurry

Warm Lentil Kale and Potato Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing from She Likes Food

Photo Credit: She Likes Food. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: She Likes Food. Used with permission.

Baked Salmon & Lentils from Gimme Some Oven

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Photo Credit: Gimme Some Oven. Used with permission.

Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew from Eat Yourself Skinny

Mushroom, Lemon & Lentil Salad from Delicious Everyday

Red Curry Lentils by Pinch of Yum

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Photo Credit: Pinch of Yum. Used with permission.

Best Lentil Soup from Cookie & Kate

Photo Credit: Cookie & Kate. Image used with permission.

Photo Credit: Cookie & Kate. Image used with permission.

Do you like lentils? Do you have a favorite way you like to prepare them or a recipe you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Cherry Tomato, Asparagus & Quinoa Spring Salad

We just came back from an amazing weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, where my husband and dad (whose 66th birthday is today!) finished the Half Ironman Triathlon. They swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and then ran 13.1 miles! It was a HOT day, but they did it! All of their hard work is preparing them for the Lake Placid Ironman on July 24th. I’m working on a post about the experience from this weekend, so stay tuned for that post later this week 🙂

In the meantime, I wanted to share a recipe for a salad I’ve made a few times already this spring, mainly because of how simple it is. It’s a dish you could bring to a potluck or enjoy for lunch or dinner.

And it includes one of the veggies that is in season here on the East Coast – asparagus!asparagus-closeup

Asparagus is one of my favorite springtime foods that is incredibly versatile and easy to make. You can steam it, bake it, saute it, or grill it. You can even use it as an ingredient in soup, but I’ve yet to try that.

I came up with this recipe after spending a beautiful afternoon with my friend, Lisa, and her two kiddos. When I got home, I took a look at what was left in the fridge and decided to put this salad together. The ingredients are simple – quinoa, onions, garlic, tomatoes, lemons, and asparagus.

This recipe embodies the wise words of Julia Child…Julia Child Quote

Think of this recipe as a template or a guide. Start with a cooked grain like quinoa or rice + onion and garlic base + 3-4 cups of veggies of your choice + vinaigrette. The other day when I made it, I threw in some arugula. Another time, I might use spinach instead or sub in some roasted red peppers for tomatoes. Use what you have 🙂

Cooking does not have to be stressful, and using templates like this can make it more fun and freeing!spring-quinoa-salad-aerial-coverspring-quinoa-salad-closeup

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (will yield about 3 cups cooked)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus, woody stem (bottom 1″) removed and the rest chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves rolled and thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside.
  2. Add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions for about 5-6 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add tomatoes and cook for 6-8 minutes. Add asparagus and 1/4 cup water. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp tender and still bright green. Remove from heat. Add vegetables to quinoa and toss to combine.
  3. Whisk lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper together. Add olive oil and continue whisking until evenly combined. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle basil on top, and toss everything to combine. Serve warm or chilled.

Easy One-Pan Meal: Baked Salmon, Potatoes & Asparagus

As much as I like experimenting in the kitchen, I also think it’s fun to explore other blogs and cookbooks to find inspiration for the next great meal idea!

Last month, we tried something new and used the meal planning service from Relay Foods, an online grocery store that makes grocery shopping quick and easy. The last time we used their meal planning service, we made a yummy black bean soup and kale slaw with our friends Zach and Kiersten a few weeks before they said, “I do.”

I was curious to see what Relay’s One Pot Meal options looked like, since I’m not a huge fan of the clean-up part of cooking. I found a One Pan Salmon, Potato and Asparagus dinner that looked easy to make. Asparagus is in season, so I thought it would be a great way to showcase that veg.

asparagus-closeup

What I loved about the dish was its simplicity and how delicious it was! Not only that, but two of the main ingredients are mood-boosting foods that I wrote about in my last blog post – folate-rich asparagus and wild caught salmon.

Folate is one of the most important nutrients we can eat and is found in leafy green veggies, asparagus, lentils and other beans. It plays a key role in helping our body produce the mood-balancing and boosting neurotransmitter, serotonin.  The omega-3 fats in the salmon feed our brain and help our body reduce inflammation, which is at the root of so many of the diseases that are taking life from our years and years from our lives.

I bet you will enjoy this delicious dish as much as Bill and I did!

**UPDATE: Relay Foods was bought by Door to Door Organics in 2016, which has since shut down. For more ideas about online recipe options and meal kits, check out one of these options:

Here is the link for a similar recipe from Simply Recipes, since Relay Foods is out of business.

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5 Ways to Boost Your Mood…with Food!

I’ve had the privilege of teaching a two-part series about Eating Empowerment and creating a judgment-free, joyful relationship with food at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore.

In the first session, we talked about reframing eating. We started with this funny video clip from one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan. He’s spot on and had everyone laughing!

We spent the rest of our time connecting with why we eat, how it makes us feel, and the impact it has beyond our plate. We talked about and experienced the power of slowing down enough to be aware of how we eat, so we can be more present and take time to truly taste and savor our food. We want to move away from guilt, shame, and judgment and toward freedom, joy, and enjoyment. I’ll be writing future blog posts to recap our discussion on each of those areas in more detail, so if you missed the workshop, stay tuned!

In the second workshop of the series, Dr. Chris D’Adamo and I highlighted the best ways to nourish ourselves, to eat in a way that makes us feel empowered instead of overwhelmed and powerless.

If you want to start feeling better, think more clearly, boost your mood, reduce anxiety, and get sick less often, then you’ll want to upgrade your eating by adding in more of these foods. You could use a Mood Supplement to try and improve your mood. However keep reading to see the benefits to your mood that can be found in different food items.

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#1: Probiotic-Rich Foods

Since two of the most important mood-boosting neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine – are produced with the help of our digestive system (the “gut”), it’s important that we give our body what it needs to make that happen.

SerotoninThink of serotonin as the neurotransmitter that helps us maintain mood balance, reduce anxiety and keep calm. Patients with depression often take medication that affects their serotonin levels. These types of medications could include the use of trying alternative products, similar to those that you may find at Blessed CBD, to help with the reduction of depression and anxiety. Low dopamine production is associated with apathy and a lack of motivation. It’s often called the “motivation molecule” because it provides the drive and focus we need to be productive. It’s also in charge of our brain’s pleasure-reward system. We want to help our body produce enough serotonin and dopamine to help us feel calm, focused, and happy.

What we eat and drink can affect our serotonin and dopamine levels. Specifically, consuming probiotic-rich foods is one way to promote digestive health the production of these mood-balancing neurotransmitters. Many of us, including me, have taken lots of antibiotics, which wipe out all of the bacteria in our gut, so it’s important that we replenish the good guys and keep the bad guys in balance. Think probiotic = pro-life; antibiotic = against life. There are many supplements that are probiotics too. Dopify by Vitamonk is a prime example of this and will make you feel much more positive about the day ahead.
So, what are some food-based sources of probiotics?

Sauerkraut, miso, plain and fermented yogurt from grass-fed cows (if you can tolerate some dairy), tempeh (recipes here!), pickles, kimchi, and kefir, just to name a few.Probiotic Rich Foods

Some of my favorite kinds of fermented foods are:

  • Hex Ferments sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha (Baltimore-based. You can find them at Whole Foods, MOMs, Graul’s, and Eddies as well as at the farmer’s markets)
  • Bubbies pickles and sauerkraut (Click here for where to buy near you)
  • Tempeh (This is the brand we like)

#2: Focus on Folate-Rich, Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Folate is a naturally occurring B vitamin that is found in plant foods, including lentils, chickpeas, spinach, asparagus, pinto beans, beets, romaine lettuce, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, and broccoli. It comes from a Latin word that refers to foliage or leaves, so that should help you remember where to find it 🙂folate-rich-foodsFolate is important for a number of reasons, but one of its most important roles related to mood is helping our body convert amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. They send signals between nerve cells (AKA neurons).

Not only that, but folate-rich foods also tend to be packed with fiber and antioxidants. Think of antioxidants as the rust-busters – they help protect our body from damage from the inside out and reduce inflammation, which is linked to a wide range of health issues, including mood disorders. Fiber, which is only found in plant foods, protects our heart and it’s safe to say that food that is good for our heart is also good for our brain.

To experience how delicious folate-rich, antioxidant-packed foods can be, we enjoyed my Taste the Rainbow Kale Salad, which is always a hit!Kale aerial

#3: Power Up with Protein

Despite all of the fuss about protein these days, the good news is that very few of us are deficient in it. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Most of us aren’t consuming high quality versions of protein. Protein and the quality of protein we eat is important because of the role of protein’s building blocks – amino acids – in the production of our neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, and tissues.

Protein, specifically animal sources of protein, are packed with B-vitamins, which are crucial for energy and mood balance.

For years, I was not breaking down protein properly because all of the acid blockers I was taking were shutting off my stomach’s production of stomach acid, which helps the body break down proteins into amino acids. My energy was affected and my hormones were out of whack as a result, so I’ve experienced firsthand how important it is to make sure we are taking in quality forms of protein and that our body can break them down.

Protein is found in plants and animals. Here are a few sources of protein to consider: oysters; cold-water fish like wild caught salmon, sardines and mackerel; halibut; lamb; turkey; tuna; grass-fed beef; pastured chicken; cage-free/pastured eggs; beans, lentils, peas; nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.; hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds; nut butters, peanut butter. You might also be surprised to learn that hemp protein is good for muscle retention and inflammation reduction, so give that a go too!protein-rich-foodsWhat I mean when I say “quality” is to aim for grass-fed, pastured meats or poultry; wild caught seafood; and cage-free eggs from chickens that were allowed to roam freely on pastures like chickens are supposed to do.

During the session, we munched on one of my favorite protein and fiber-packed snacks – rosemary Chickpeatos! They’re roasted chickpeas tossed with sea salt and rosemary, and I love them as a snack or as a substitute for croutons on a salad. They are SO GOOD!chickpeatos-bag

#4: Feel Good about Fat

60% of our brain is made up of fat, so we want to make sure we’re nourishing ourselves with high quality fat that our brain and body can use, so we can feel good. When it comes to fat, quality matters, so we want to opt for anti-inflammatory fats found in foods like avocado, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and wild caught salmon.

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Deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to mood disorders, as clinical, integrative nutritionist Jason Bosley-Smith shared in this blog post. He suggested consuming cold water fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as walnuts to up our omega-3 levels.

Another higher fat food that has other mood-boosting benefits (enhancing serotonin and dopamine production) is CHOCOLATE. So, we enjoyed some of my super food trail mix that is full of nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, berries, and cacao nibs!

trail mix

#5: Herb & Spice It Up!

Herbs are spices are often overlooked as tools in our food. Back in the fall, I had the pleasure of meeting and spending the morning with Rebecca Katz, a culinary nutrition expert and author who is incredibly passionate about using herbs and spices.

Mint is a powerhouse and boosts alertness and memory. Rosemary has been linked with better brain functioning and at keeping depression at bay. It helps us improve concentration and focus. Thyme contains brain-boosting vitamins A and C and contains some iron which is important for brain health as well. Other potent brain-boosting herbs include oregano, basil, and sage.

Spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and cumin also have brain and mood-boosting properties, so we want to include more of them in our diet. When it comes to cooking, Rebecca Katz shares a helpful tip:

And here’s what you need to get about cooking with herbs and spices: Spices go in at the BEGINNING of your cooking and herbs go in at the END.

Another way to add in more herbs and spices is by having tea each day. We shared in some Chamomile Lemon Tea from Numi. Here are a few of my other favorites:

  • Traditional Medicinals – Chamomile Lavendar (so calming!)
  • Organic India – Lemon Ginger (stress-relieving and reviving) or Masala Chai (energizing)
  • Pukka – Three Mint and Three Cinnamon (invigorating)
  • Truebroc Green Tea (calmness, relaxation)

We closed by talking about the importance of having your nutrient levels checked to ensure you’re not deficient in any of these crucial mood-boosting nutrients. I recommend seeing a functional medicine practitioner for further guidance on that topic.

So, there you have it! A look at some of the best mood and brain-boosting foods. You’ll notice that many of the recipes on my blog use a lot of those foods. I want to make it easier for you to eat in the most energizing, nourishing, delicious way possible!

10 Cauliflower-Powered Recipes {Vegan, Paleo}

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!

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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 antiinflammatory 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.cauli collage.jpg

Roasted Buddha Bowl by oh she glows

Roasted Cauliflower in Lemon Tahini Sauce by Vegetarian Times

Easy Cauliflower Rice by All Recipes

Smoky Roasted Cauliflower by Tori AveySmoky-Roasted-Cauliflower-5-640x480

Fancy Pants Curried Cauliflower Steaks & Mash by RNKcauli2name

Caulifredo Sauce with Zoodles by RNKcaulifredo

Cauliflower Pizza Crust by The Detoxinista

Detoxinista Pizza Crust

Photo Credit: The Detoxinista. Used with permission.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash by RNKcauli mash cover.jpg

Creamy Rosemary Sweet Potato Soup by RNKIMG_8875Soupbanner

Garlic & Red Pepper Cauliflower Hummus by Our Fifth House

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Photo Credit: Our Fifth House. Used with permission

What are your favorite cauliflower recipes?

Feel free to leave a comment below with a link!

I love hearing from you 🙂

The Best of Broccoli: 10 Awesome Recipes to Try

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? 

Nope!

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.

Broccoli!

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.

broccoli collage

Here are ten of my favorite broccoli recipes. Add one or two to next week’s meal plan!

Lemon Lentil Vegetable Soup by Meghan Telpner (easy and delicious soup, especially with avocado slices on top!)

Broccoli, Avocado & Lime Salad by Deliciously Ella

Roasted Buddha Bowl by oh she glows

skilletgoodbroccoli soup

Tangy creamy quinoa broccoli salad

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Garlicky Roasted Broccoli (AKA Crack Broccoli) by The Kitchn (use 1/2 tsp salt not 1 tsp!)

Curb Cravings with Crunchy Cacao Nibs {Plus 7 Recipes to Try!}

For the video version of this post, check out my Facebook page!

Either way, make sure you hit up the awesome recipes at the bottom 🙂

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Let’s pretend it’s 3:00 in the afternoon.

What’s something a lot of people crave right about now?

Nibs

Did you say CHOCOLATE?

The reason why might surprise you!

Many of us start to notice a dip in our energy levels and attention spans and the cumulative impact of stress throughout the day by mid-afternoon. Why not give our body a boost in energy, feel good chemicals and relaxation at the time we need it most? Why not enjoy some chocolate?

High quality dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cacao (ka-KOW) is packed with magnesium.

Magnesium is known as the relaxation and anti-anxiety mineral, and most of us are deficient in it. Not only that, but in times of stress and high demands, our body needs it more than ever. Sources of magnesium include spinach, oats, beans, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, sesame seeds.

And…CHOCOLATE! 🙂

The key is to use QUALITY chocolate. I’ve written before here about why I became a qualitarian and what it means to be one. As the word suggests, I encourage you to focus on eating the highest quality food you can, especially when it comes to things like chocolate – the darker and purer, the better.

One of the purest forms of chocolate we can eat is cacao nibs.

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These bitter, crunchy chocolate bits are peeled and crumbled from dried, whole cacao beans. They are PACKED with nourishing, fueling goodness! When we hear about chocolate being good for us, these little guys take the prize. One ounce (about 1/4 cup) of cacao nibs contains:

  • 35% of the recommended daily value of relaxing magnesium
  • 6 GRAMS of fiber, which fills us up and keeps things moving in our digestive system. Only about 3% of the population eats the adequate minimum intake of fiber, even though it is one of the main disease fighters, blood sugar regulators, and energy stabilizers out there
  • 4 grams of satiating protein
  • Over HALF of the recommended daily value of copper and manganese, trace minerals that help us with formation of tissues (like bones and skin), energy production, and blood sugar balance.

You can find them in the natural food aisle of your grocery store, but I find the best deals at HomeGoods or online at Amazon or Vitacost. Wegmans, Whole Foods, and MOMs Organic Market carry them as well.

You can enjoy cacao nibs in trail mix, cookies, chocolate bark, brownie bites, sprinkled on top of smoothies or avocado pudding (recipe coming!), and as a topping for my chocolate walnut brownies.

Check out SEVEN of my favorite cacao nib recipes below!

Click the picture to get to the recipe.

PB Oat Bites CoverIMG_2208Mint Choco Chip Bday Ballssuper food trail mixcherry choco biteschococherrybanner2barkmain

GBOMBS Spaghetti Squash Saute + How-To Video {Gluten-Free, Paleo}

I’ve been on a squash kick lately! From roasted butternut squash to creamy kabocha squash soup and even squash “pasta,” winter squash is one of my favorite foods because it’s versatile, delicious and nourishing.

Today we’re going to take a look at a squash that many of us have heard of before but might have been too intimidated to try making ourselves – spaghetti squash!

As someone who loved twirling pasta on my fork as a kid, this is a food that is fun to eat and play with…and it has lots of body-boosting benefits, too!

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Winter squash is packed with antioxidants that support our body from the inside out – vitamin A for our skin and eyes, vitamin C for antioxidant protection, fiber for fullness, and folate, a B vitamin that supports our body’s production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters.

For more info about the awesomeness of spaghetti squash, click here.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that it tastes just like spaghetti (because it doesn’t…it’s a bit crunchier and a tad sweeter), BUT it does give you a similar experience and is basic enough to be paired with a variety of sauces – from pesto and marinara to pad Thai.

Check out my video below for the step-by-step instructions for how to prepare spaghetti squash and then buy some for yourself, so you can make one of the recipes below! It’s easier than you think 🙂 If you’re more of a picture person, check out this post I wrote for step-by-step pictures and directions.

I’ve included a recipe below for a winter veggie saute full of GBOMBS like shallots, garlic, dino kale, beans, berries and pumpkin seeds. Here are a few additional spaghetti squash recipes for you to try:

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Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, sliced
1 bunch dino kale (AKA lacinato or Tuscan kale), destemmed and chopped
1/4 cups water
1 15-oz can no-salt added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Slice a line down the length of the spaghetti squash, about a half-inch deep or make several slits round the squash to allow steam to release. It’s usually too hard to cut in half at this point unless you have a really good knife.
3. Put the squash in a 9 x 13 baking dish in the oven for 25 minutes, so it can soften enough to easily cut it in half. Remove squash from the oven and let it cool enough to handle it. Cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
5. Put the squash cut-side down in the baking dish and fill the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup water. Return squash to oven for about 30 minutes or until the squash easily pulls away from the shell. Let the squash cool and then scrape out the inside into strands with a fork.
6. In a large sautĂ© pan over medium heat, sautĂ© shallots in ghee (or oil) until fragrant, about 4-6 minutes. Add garlic and sautĂ© 30-60 seconds. Add spaghetti squash, dino kale and 1/4 cup water and toss until the kale is wilted but bright green. Add beans and toss until heated through then add cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Remove from heat and sprinkle with 1 1⁄2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

The Truth about Detoxing with Celebrity Dietitian Ashley Koff

For many of us, the start of the New Year comes with intentions and desires to do things differently than we have in the past.

In my previous post, I shared what I do instead of making New Year’s Resolutions. It inspires me to not only approach life the way that I do but to make decisions about what to eat and drink.

Since I want to feel RADIANT, ABUNDANT and FREE, I choose to consume foods that make me feel that way, which is why I do what Michael Pollan says and…

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Last fall, I attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore for the second time and had the opportunity to learn about all of the cool new natural products hitting the market in the coming year.

I also had the privilege of hearing award-winning nutrition expert, Ashley Koff RD, creator of The Better Nutrition Simplified Program, speak.

Ashley has been featured on Doctor Oz, The Today Show, The Huffington Post, and Fox News. She also wrote the book Mom Energy.

What I appreciate so much about her is our shared food philosophy of being “qualitarians,” which I’ve written about previously here. We make it a priority to eat the highest quality foods we can as often as possible. As a result, we feel great and have energy throughout the day. We use food as fuel, to nourish, protect and sustain our bodies.

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Award-winning nutrition expert, Ashley Koff, RD

To clear up any confusion, I thought I’d get some answers from the expert herself. I had the opportunity to interview Ashley and am sharing below what I learned from her. I hope you find it refreshing, energizing and informative!

Rachel: There’s a lot of talk about “detoxing” these days, and the word seems to mean different things to different people. If you had to explain detoxification as you understand it and in a way that would be meaningful to a layperson, what would you say?

Ashley: We all have a detoxification system in our bodies so we should be “detoxing” every day of our lives. The detox system works in two parts. One part converts harmful toxins into less harmful. When it does this it produces “dirt” (free radicals) that the body also needs to clean up. The second part eliminates toxins by having certain nutrients bind to the toxins so they can be eliminated. Thus, the body needs specific nutrients to do all of this.

For part one, lots of vitamins and minerals like B-vitamins, magnesium, as well as plant nutrients like milk thistle and quercetin support these efforts. Antioxidants found in the colors of fruits and vegetables, as well as the plant nutrients in nuts and seeds and grains and beans help do the “clean up” work. And certain foods, broccoli as a leader as well as onions, leeks, and organic eggs, help enable the body to eliminate toxins – a significant part of detoxification.

Rachel: What are some of the common myths about detoxification you see in the media and hear from your patients?

Ashley: The biggest is that we should pick times or programs to “detox”
We have a detoxification system – that’s like saying there are certain days or programs that we should use our muscles or brains. It’s ongoing.

The others are more specific. Like “detox” assigned to a tea or shake that doesn’t deliver nutrients mentioned above or that also delivers toxins, irritants etc. For example, a non-organic juice or shake that contains items on the “dirty dozen” list, which is like washing your floor wearing dirty boots.

Download the Dirty Dozen app for your phone

Download the Dirty Dozen app for free on your phone. It’s updated annually!

Rachel: What are the top 3-5 reasons we should be concerned about detoxification?

Ashley: There are a lot of environmental toxins we can’t control our exposure to, but we can help the body manage them by identifying and eliminating them.

If our bodies don’t detox properly, we can’t accomplish our other health goals (weight loss, better energy, reduce risk of disease).

Many toxins are fat-soluble which means they are trapped or stored in our fat cells, which means as we work to lose extra fat, we need to make sure these toxins are removed from the body as well.

Rachel: What are some of the safest ways we can detoxify our body?

Ashley:

  1. Reduce our intake of irritants by improving the quality of what we put in and on our bodies.
  2. Choose to incorporate quality sources of the foods that support the bodies detoxification system – all the different phases.
  3. Avoid trendy detoxes, which may be stressful to your body.
  4. Consider your current health status and health goals to determine what your body needs and can handle. You may benefit from working with a healthcare practitioner to accomplish this best. (Here is a link to my – Rachel’s – recommended healthcare professionals who focus on optimizing health)

Rachel: Many of my readers are moms. What should parents know about the importance of detoxification? Is this something they should think about for their children?

Ashley: As described above, we all have detoxification systems so, yes, kids of every age should be eating to support their detoxification system just as adults. It’s why I love organic baby and toddler foods that include foods and their nutrients as well as does not include irritants.

Rachel: We hear a lot about broccoli being a “super food” and one of the healthiest and most detoxifying foods we can eat. What makes these little trees so special? Why would we want to eat more of them?

Ashley: Well the detox part is HUGE and that’s because of its glucoraphanin. The nutrients of the trees also help support healthy digestion and hormones, as well as antioxidants to be part of our body’s overall clean up team. But broccoli is also more than trees. The leaves provide calcium (as much as a glass of milk per serving in a few leaves) as well as your daily dose of vitamin C, and additional antioxidants.

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Rachel: What are the best ways to prepare broccoli to preserve the most nutrients?

Ashley: Let’s look at this differently. The best way is whichever way gets you to eat (or drink) broccoli more often. Frozen or ready to eat, raw or cooked, lightly “snowed” (with some cheese) or roasted with some olive oil or purĂ©ed into a broccoli pizza crust or added into a frittata – there are so many ways to enjoy broccoli. The only ways I don’t recommend broccoli are boiled or overcooked (longer than 5 minutes) IF you are eating it for the glucoraphanin benefits.

Now remember that all broccoli will have different amounts of its detox nutrient – glucoraphanin – so that’s where a supplement can be helpful if you want to have consistent levels to support optimal detoxification (I call it “true detox”). I personally prefer organic broccoli and when that’s not available I consume a glucoraphanin supplement (truebroc.com) in a tea form or in a capsule. Disclosure: I am a member of their advisory board and work with them to promote the benefits of glucoraphanin.brassica box

Rachel: I recently finished up a video series about GBOMBS on my Facebook page and YouTube channel and have written articles about these nutrient-dense foods before, with broccoli being one of them! I’ve shared with my readers and fans some of my favorite ways to prepare greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli. What is your favorite way to eat broccoli?

Ashley: I eat broccoli almost every day and even my dog eats frozen organic broccoli (he likes it straight from the freezer!) so it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I have fun coming up with new ways to eat broccoli like my latest – as a “crust” – but my most frequent way is to sautĂ© in vegetable broth and then drizzle olive oil and top with hemp seeds.

Rachel: What are your top 10 foods/herbs/spices that naturally support and enhance the body’s detoxification process?

Ashley: Instead of the top 10 foods/herbs/spices that help to support the body’s natural detoxification process, it’s better to organize them by which foods help to support the different phases.

Phase 1: convert harmful toxins to less harmful and mark them for elimination.

Foods that help: spinach, all beans, broccoli, all greens, berries, oranges, papaya, kiwi, pineapple, tofu, sesame seeds, turmeric

Phase 2: conjugation where body adds nutrients to harmful toxins to help them be eliminated

Foods that help here: broccoli, amino acids (hemp), sesame seeds, shallots, garlic, leeks, and water(!)

The key is that if you are only eating for Phase 1 foods, then you aren’t optimizing your total detox potential. Of all the crucifers, broccoli has the most glucoraphanin. To learn more about the powerful benefits of glucoraphanin, click here.

Rachel: Now, to wrap it up, let’s talk more “big picture.” What are three pieces of nutrition advice that you think would benefit everyone?

Ashley:

  1. Better nutrition IS simple.
  2. You need what you need, not what someone else does.
  3. There’s no perfect health, perfect nutrition plan, perfect food – but there’s always a better choice and better nutrition choices are the key to better health.

And there you have it! None of us has all of the answers when it comes to what to eat, but I respect and appreciate Ashley’s take on a popular topic that tends to generate lots of confusion. Thanks again, Ashley, for answering all of my questions so clearly and honestly! To learn more about Ashley and her work, visit her website.

If you want to benefit from the antioxidant power of broccoli, try drinking truebroc’s Brassica Tea. It’s sold locally at Baltimore Coffee & Tea in Timonium and at Wegmans stores. You can also find it online here.

Tea Cup

Stay tuned for my next post where I will be sharing a yummy recipe that uses these Brassica tea bags!

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