Friday is for winning – and snacking

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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. 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:)

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😉

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😉

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:)

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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:)

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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Simple. Spring. Fennel Salad.

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Fennel is my jam these days. I didn’t know what to do with it until a few weeks ago when I asked a farmer at the market how she recommended preparing it. She gave what I thought was an over simplified answer – “Oh, I usually just slice it and throw it into a salad, toss with a bit of olive oil …”

Given what I knew of the strong licorice flavor, I was hesitant that the fennel process could be that simple or turn out so enjoyable. Once I made this salad though, I realized that it actually is that simple to eat raw fennel and enjoy it. There’s something about preparing this salad with a dressing of citrus, olive oil, and sea salt that cuts the strength of the licorice flavor.

Instead, you’re left with a really refreshing salad that’s packed with a bunch of nutrients. Vitamin C plays a big role in fennel and helps to reduce inflammation and may decrease the risk of cancer. Potassium and folate are also prominent and the dietary fiber in fennel inhibits cholesterol build up.

To make this salad:

  • thinly slice the fennel bulb
  • add a few pieces of fresh orange
  • coarsely chop mint leaves
  • mix in raw cashews
  • toss in a mixing bowl with:
    • juice from an orange
    • olive oil
    • dash of sea salt
    • and a bit of pepper

 

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New Recipes Coming Soon

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I took a hiatus from blogging for a minute. A girl’s gotta sleep in and have strong coffee and breakfast in bed and unplug from it all sometimes. And also, life happens – and sometimes, it knocks you off your ass.

In my case, I learned that a series of decisions made without the right intention, will catch up with you. That if I didn’t check in with myself regularly, I took the mindfulness out of daily life – which seems to cause an unfortunate ripple effect. I also learned that some mistakes are quite large and all encompassing, that it can take some time to emerge from that quicksand.

My passion for health led me to start setting health related intentions each day. Even when my personal life was a wreck, the act of taking control of the things I could – discovering fresh produce and how to use it, not burning the quinoa, making meals (for a party of 1, or for friends), making lunch for the workday … felt nourishing and important.

And, although I haven’t posted in awhile – I’ve still spent a lot of time in the kitchen. That’s where it happens, right? All the good things happen in the kitchen – slowly simmering soup, roasting vegetables, pouring tea, sipping wine with friends, grinding up the coffee beans, snapping open sugar snap peas, inhaling the aroma of fresh herbs and spices, dropping a bag of rice … and then groveling for all the grains.

The stuff of life happens in the kitchen.

 

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Greens & Quinoa Salad

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This is a quick vegan dish that can be modified a bit based on which produce is in season where you live. This morning, at the farmer’s market (in CA), I came across all of this great looking produce listed below (with the exception of the lemon) and found that it all works really well in this dish. The Thai basil and lemon juice add a really interesting and refreshing flavor – and make it easy to avoid adding salt to this dish. The dish is full of flavor without it (salt), so no need to pile on sodium.

And, fun fact – Quinoa is a really nice source of iron. ¼ cup contains 10% of the recommended daily value.

Suggested ingredients:
-Quinoa (approx 2 cups, uncooked)
-Chickpeas (approx 2 cups)
-Zucchini (1 cup chopped)
-Spinach (1 cup chopped)
-Kale ( ½ cup chopped)
-Heirloom tomato
-Yellow onion ( ¼ cup diced)
-Olive oil
-Lemon juice
-Red pepper flakes
-Black pepper
-Thai basil

Bring 4 cups of water to boil on the stove top, add 2 cups of quinoa and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes). The grain will appear translucent and soft when the quinoa is cooked.

While the quinoa is cooking, chop the zucchini into small cubes until you have approximately 1 cup. Chop the spinach, kale, and onion as well.

When the quinoa is finished, add olive oil (2 Tbsp.) and a bit of lemon juice. Mix together and add the chickpeas. Add the chopped onion, spinach, kale, and zucchini. Add freshly cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well.

Top with fresh tomatoes, Thai basil, and another splash of lemon juice.

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