Picnic style Quinoa Salad

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No need to turn the oven on with this dish. The only step of this recipe that requires heat is the quinoa. Cook a big batch (of quinoa) one evening, store in the refrigerators, and use the grains up during the week to make things like this.

To the cooked (and cooled) quinoa, add the following:

  • thinly sliced raw zucchini
  • raw sweet corn
  • cherry tomatoes
  • freshly chopped basil
  • sliced kalamata olives

Dressing = olive oil + freshly squeezed lemon juice. No salt needed since the olives add enough salt.

Toss all the ingredients together and add the dressing.

Note on the corn: if possible, buy organic, non-GMO corn. Non-GMO corn is not automatically organic … admittedly, it’s a little annoying to have to remember to ask all these questions, but alas – our food system is wonky and our health is at stake … so here we are.

(Dish is gluten free + vegan)

IG: @zenpistachio

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Zucchini noodles & chicken w/ citrus dressing

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I generally don’t make dishes that call for 1,638 ingredients as I can only remember the list of 3-6 things I need from the grocery store/market. Here’s one of those simple/not-too-many-ingredients dishes. It’s #gluten free #paleo and perfect for #summerdining

Ingredients:

  • zucchini
  • purple cabbage
  • cilantro
  • garlic
  • lime
  • organic chicken
  • olive oil + sea salt and pepper

Recipe:

Use a spiral slicer (I have a $10 handheld vegetable slicer that works wonders) and spiralize 1 zucchini per dish into “zoodles”. Add thinly sliced cabbage and cilantro to the zucchini noodles. For the dressing, juice 1 lime into a small bowl. Add finely chopped garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whisk together. Let the dressing sit for 20-30 minutes so the flavors settle in.

For the chicken – grill it or use a cast iron skillet. Lightly season with salt and pepper. When cooked, cut into bite-size pieces and add to the “pasta dish” you created. ūüôčūüŹĽ #freshveggies #wholefood #simpledish

 

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Pomelos and Politics

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President’s Day Pomelos/Pummelos.¬†

A few thoughts:

1. “Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift.¬† But it‚Äôs really just a piece of parchment.¬† It has no power on its own.¬† We, the people, give it power ‚Äď with our participation, and the choices we make.¬† Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms.¬† Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law.¬† America is no fragile thing.¬† But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”
– President Obama, Farewell address

2. Food is inherently political – it always has been, it always will be. It’s a rather privileged position to pretend that it’s not because we have not personally come up against the barriers that exist in our food system.

If our food system wasn’t political, we would¬†have solved the obesity epidemic in the United States a long time ago …

So, while this beautiful citrus and a lovely array of warm colors and is nutritiously dense, it also represents a very small part of our interconnected food system. I think it’s important to remember that, and look for ways that we can simplify that complicated system and get closer to the source of our food whenever we can. Luckily, these fruits were grown nearby and I purchased them directly from the farmers at my local market. But, I recognize that that’s not possible for everyone … and taking a moment to remember that is vital to the health of our food system(s) and people.

3. Food is nutritious – though “food like substances” generally are not. Generally when we’re eating whole foods – like fruits, vegetables, grains – we can be assured that we’re getting some nutritional benefits. In the case of the pomelo above,¬†the fruit helps to lower cholesterol, provides an immune system boost, and keeps us looking and feeling youthful with anti-aging properties. Pummelos for the win!

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We’re in this together …

Dear Trump supporters — I need a hug today. America needs a hug today. And some reassurance. Can you help me out? You all seem to be a ball of positive energy, so maybe you can help me feel better.

Please tell me that in the next 4 years, my rights to make my own reproductive decisions will not be taken away from me. I like to know that if I need birth control, I can access it. I am verbally assaulted almost daily – whether I’m walking to work, or back from the grocery store, or in another town nearby. You just never know when some sexually aggressive man will feel like he has the right to verbally assault you and comment on those long legs, the way I walk, what I‚Äôd look like underneath him. You know, lewd comments. But hey, they’re just comments. Locker room talk. I’ve had men grab me while on public transportation. But hey, I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it. What‚Äôs the big deal anyway? Please tell me this is not going to continue to get worse. It has already taken a toll on my mental health and exacerbated my anxiety. Please tell me that we stand for more than that. If you’re my friend, I know you do and I love you.

And you should know this about me: I live in Oakland California — and my group of friends, and colleagues, and peers is really diverse. Please tell me that my friends of other faiths, my Muslim and Jewish and Hindu friends will be okay. Please tell me that my Black friends and Latino/a friends will not be persecuted. What about my disabled friends? Will they be okay too? What about my friends in the LGBTQ community? They have gone through so much too. What should my roommate tell her middle school students (many are undocumented) about their place in this country and their well being. Will we protect them and their families, or will they be forced to leave?

Something else you should know about me – I have spent my career working in mission-driven organizations. I studied International Relations. The goal of my current organization is to help people (all people) live healthier lives through public health programs that are based on equity and social justice. The programs are for the public good – anti obesity work, anti violence work, girls leadership programs, solid public health research to make our communities healthier. Will we still receive a shred of government funding to support the communities we serve?

I can tell you this – dear friends of color, of other faiths, of marginalized communities – I love you all more today than ever before. My love for you will be louder than his hate and vile intolerance. My heart feels very full for you. I can’t sleep at night, with a Bible by my bedside, and rest easy unless I know you’re going to be okay.

Tell me what to do. Tell me how to help.

I just donated to: Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, the Public Health Institute, and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

Here’s a good list: http://jezebel.com/a-list-of-pro-women-pro-immigrant-pro-earth-anti-big-1788752078

With so much love (and a heavy heart),

-Chelsea

P.S. РOn the topic of feminism Рsince that continues to be an afterthought. Read my sister’s (extremely articulate!) piece in the Observer. She’s a smart cookie. And her heart is heavy today too.

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Disclaimer: I work for the Public Health Institute and support their work. The views above are my own.

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No-Cook Zucchini Pasta

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Here’s one for those hot summer days when turing the oven on is not an option. It’s for the days when you don’t feel like being in the kitchen, but still want to eat something fresh and healthy (and maybe pair it with a chilled glass of white wine?).

It’s an easy dish to make for 1 – or to double the ingredients and make for a few people. It’s also a perfect dish for a summer dinner party, and takes 5 minutes to make.

You’ll need:

  • 1 zucchini
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ¬†ripe avocado
  • a few fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil, sea salt, black pepper

Spiralize 1/2 Р1 full zucchini to create noodles. Toss with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper. (I have a really simple, hand-held spiralizer that I bought for $10 and it works beautifully)

Separately, cut the avocado into bite size pieces, halve the tomatoes, and chop the basil. Mix together.

Set the tomato mixture on top of the zucchini “pasta” and enjoy.

(Serving suggestion — pictured above, I added a side of falafel and hummus for some added protein and substance)¬†

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Raw Vegan Lettuce Wraps

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This is an example of one of my favorite ways of “cooking” or “preparing” food. It’s¬†simply an exercise in assembling and arranging a bunch of beautiful colors that also turn out to provide a ton of nutrients and check all the right boxes for providing energy and nourishment.

Healthy fats? Check. Essential vitamins? Check. Protein? Not a ton, but yes … check.

Everything pictured here (minus that plate – a thrift store find, and that dreamy linen table cloth) is from a local farmer’s market. Living in California provides a lot of opportunity to get the freshest ingredients: picked the day before and then displayed on a table in the fresh air and sunshine the next day. I feel very lucky each week when I go to the farmer’s market. I certainly don’t take this direct exposure to farm fresh produce for granted.

Lettuce wraps are a flavorful and easy¬†summer lunch. It’s an opportunity to use seasonal produce and doesn’t require cooking or much time in the kitchen at all.

Raw Vegan Lettuce Wraps:

  • Lettuce – recommend using butter lettuce (Boston, bibb), Romaine, green leaf, little gem
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced purple cabbage
  • Guacamole
  • Raw walnut pieces

Spread guacamole on the lettuce, layer with freshly sliced produce, top with some crunch and roll up.

Additional topping ideas for a bit more protein and/or good fats include: raw hemp seeds,¬†cashew paste or sliced cashews, sliced almonds, flax seed powder …

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Weekend snack: Turmeric dusted popcorn

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Weekends¬†are for feelings of ease, and self care, and being a bit indulgent, attaching to fewer worries¬†and being surrounded by those we love. Fridays are¬†for easy snacks that we can take outside at the end of a long week. Weekends are for picnics by the water. And this turmeric popcorn + farmer’s market fruit idea is made for all of the above.

That sweet &¬†salty combo of something like fresh fruit + salty popcorn hits the spot. For years I thought that I didn’t like popcorn because my only exposure to popcorn was the strangely buttery pre-packaged chemical-laden version of it. But the whole kernels? Well,¬†that’s a different level.

I buy whole popcorn kernals in bulk at Whole Foods or other natural food stores and store in an air-tight container in my cabinet to have on hand for snack time, movie nights, or that car trip out of town I’ll be taking this weekend ūüôā

This is an easy one for the road, for the in between times, for combatting mini-hunger attacks before a meal. Oh, and the addition of turmeric to popcorn is a brilliant move! It makes the popcorn *look* buttery or cheesy, but it actually adds a layer of spice, and warmth, and the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric. It’s brilliant.

Turmeric Dusted Popcorn
Ingredients:

  • ¬†Whole kernel popcorn (organic)
  • ¬†High quality turmeric
  • ¬†Olive oil & Sea Salt

Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a pot and heat over a medium flame on the stove. Sprinkle sea salt in the bottom of the pan and add a few handfuls of raw kernels. On top of the kernels, sprinkle a few healthy teaspoons of turmeric to coat the kernels.

Cover and heat until the corn begins to pop. It should pop for a few minutes – but keep an eye on it as it will burn easily. Once it’s fully popped into those beautiful golden puffs, turn off the burner, keep covered for a few minutes and shake well to mix all the spices before serving.

(Other ingredients that work well instead of turmeric: Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, thyme, nutritional yeast)

Cheers to the weekend !

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Recipe: Seasoned/Roasted Chickpeas

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Today, I’m suggesting an act of simplicity. It’s the end of a busy weekend¬†and priorities for the week ahead are piling up already … one after the other. During the last week,¬†I had multiple decisions to make at once – it seemed that all deadlines converged within the same short window of time. Rapid fire decision making. Very little time to pause and reflect. But, I still found my way to the kitchen and made some (very) simple, fresh, and healthy dishes.

And oh, hey … Mercury is still in¬†retrograde¬†… so maybe that explains some of the chaos. With that in mind, maybe it’s a good idea not to use complicated kitchen gadgets anyway ūüėČ

So, as things elsewhere in life were getting overly complicated, I dialed it back in the kitchen and tried to make grounding and simple dishes. ¬†I’m doing what I can to cultivate some simplicity. This dish has immediate benefits (you can snack on these right after baking), and a return on investment to last the next few days. It’s a flavorful bit of protein to add as a salad topping, for example.

This process is meditative. You can’t mess it up. To make this dish well, it’s best to use fresh herbs, and a generous pour of salt, pepper, and dried herbs too. It’s also best to stay present. Just acknowledge the space you’re in. The process of washing the chickpeas, patting them dry, and then tossing with heaping teaspoons of fragrant herbs.

Here’s how this works:
*Simple Seasoned & Roasted Chickpeas*

  • Wash the chickpeas under cool water
  • Pat the chickpeas dry with a clean towel and let them sit for a few minutes to air dry
  • Add the chickpeas to a mixing bowl and cover with olive oil
  • Squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lemon into the bowl
  • Generously add any combination of spices you desire – the recipe pictured here includes: red pepper flakes, paprika, sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and fresh basil. And it was delicious
  • In a single layer, add the spiced chickpeas on a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Bake in the oven (@ 350F) until crispy and well cooked

Garbanzo beans are one of the most affordable ways you can prioritize your health today. They lower cholesterol and promote digestive health, as chickpeas are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. With high levels of folate and magnesium, chickpeas¬†are heart healthy. These beige little guys stabilize blog sugar and help to control weight as well. What’s not to love?

Buy a few cans, keep them in a cupboard, and cut down on time at the grocery store. More chickpea based inspiration coming soon. And in the meantime, let’s be cautious of that whole Mercury in Retrograde thing …

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Spring Lentil Salad (5 main ingredients)

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Spring is not the time for heavy dishes. This one is filling and nourishing, but light and fresh.

It’s a great salad to make in a big batch and use through the week as it keeps pretty well for a few days. The salad is tasty on its own or as a side dish. It’s a nice addition to a bed of lettuce/greens or as a topping for a cold pasta dish.

The list of ingredients in this dish is pretty short, but each vegetable carries with it an impressive¬†stack of vitamins and minerals. With whole foods, you know what you’re gonna get. No scandals or shady history here. Just straight up health benefits.¬†At this point, I would be pleased to see a vegetable run for President ūüėČ

We’ve got:

  • Green Lentils: Lovely source of iron and protein
  • Carrots: High in antioxidants and linked to cancer prevention as they reduce free radicals in the body
  • Cucumber: Chill, hydrates the body and flushes out unnecessary toxins
  • Purple Cabbage: Lowers cholesterol and contains an impressive line up of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Scallions: Good source of antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K

The dressing is tried and true:
Juice one lemon, whisk with dijon mustard and a generous pour of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Whisk away.

Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Share with friends ūüôā

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A Juicy Idea

Too often when people talk about juicing, it’s prescribed as a weight loss solution or is touted in the form of a juice fast or cleanse. I’m blogging about juicing with the opposite idea in mind, though – I’m thinking about juicing as an addition to your diet as it is.

The¬†focus of this post (and my relationship to juicing in general) is as an addition to my life and not an extraction from. You won’t find me on a juice cleanse anytime soon ūüôā

Here’s what we know about juicing: When you juice a bunch of vegetables and fruit, your juicer revs up and expends a bunch of energy to process the produce so that your body doesn’t have to. The juice that’s extracted from fresh fruits and veggies contains a bunch of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant chemicals), but lacks fiber as that tends to be lost in the juicing process.

Buy Organic.¬†Because juicing calls for fresh fruits and veggies, it’s really important to wash them thoroughly and buy organic. If buying everything organic is not possible, I’d recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and the EWG Clean Fifteen. The Dirty Dozen is the line up of fruits and veggies that tend to have high concentrations of pesticide residue when purchased conventionally and not organic. These include a bunch of produce that we throw in juices and smoothies apples, celery, spinach, strawberries, cucumbers, etc.

Recipe for the Beet-It juice above:

  • Celery – several stalks
  • 2 Oranges – peeled
  • 1-2 Lemons – peeled
  • 1 Apple
  • 4 Beets – small to medium sized

After washing, peeling off rinds, and roughly chopping – fire up the juicer and smash all of this into the machine. The result is a refreshing, highly nutritious, and slightly salty tasting (because of the celery) drink.

Nutrient Snapshot: 

  • Beets –¬†Beets are high in manganese and potassium. They’re a good source of vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
  • Celery –¬†Celery is a great source of vitamin K and contains folate, potassium, and manganese. It’s also a nice source of vitamin C and vitamin B6.

So, take a vacation. Let your juicer do the work. And allow your body to rest and absorb the nutrients …

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