Red Quinoa With Vegetables, Almonds, and Cheese

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile (thank you to those who have!), you’ve already heard me discuss the importance of listening to your body’s cravings and eating with the seasons.  Last night was a perfect example of this.  I had bought all the ingredients to make this recipe for a red quinoa salad for dinner, but when dinnertime rolled around, my body wasn’t craving a salad at all, but instead a hot meal.  This is completely natural to experience as the warmer months transition to the colder Fall and Winter months. Our bodies crave cooling foods in the Spring and Summer (think salads and fresh fruit), and warmer foods in the Fall and Winter (stews, soups, and hearty meals). So I took the red quinoa and scavenged through my fridge to come up with this delicious recipe.  I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Ingredients  (2 servings)

-1 cup red quinoa, rinsed thoroughly under cold water.  Use your fingers to lightly rub the grains together.

-3 cups water

-1/2 bouillon cube

-2 carrots, thinly sliced

-6 oz. shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

-1 large shallot, thinly sliced

-6 asparagus stalks, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

-Garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

-2 handfuls unsalted almonds, chopped

-Ricotta salata cheese to top (or other favorite cheese)

-salt, pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Turn oven to 425 degrees F.  Add the rinsed quinoa to a medium-sized pot with the water, salt, and the bouillion half.  Stir to mix in.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Drain water in a strainer if necessary at the end of cooking then add the quinoa back to the pot.  Fluff with a fork.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add all the vegetables to the pan to saute.  Add pepper and the garlic powder, but no salt yet.  Add more oil if necessary.  Cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until browned and softened. Add salt the last couple minutes of cooking.
  3. Place the chopped almonds on a piece of tin foil and toast in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Remove and turn off the oven.
  4. Combine the quinoa, vegetables, almonds, and top with ricotta salata.  Serve in bowls.  Enjoy!

 

Umbrian Lentil Salad

Hi there!

It’s been awhile since I posted something, but I was feeling inspired by another lentil salad I made today.  I say another because my last post was basically the same recipe, only this one uses a different type of lentil and mixed micro greens instead of romaine. It’s so tasty and simple, I got up this morning and was able to make this salad in 30 minutes before I had to get ready for the day. And it should allow me enough leftovers for the next 2-3 days. So that being said, I highly recommend this recipe to anyone looking for something easy, healthy, and quick to prepare.

Ingredients

For the lentils:

-1 cup lentils

-3 cups water

-1 pinch sea salt

-1 bay leaf

For the Veggies:

-1/2 red onion, small diced

-1 carrot, small diced

-salt, pepper

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

-optional: chopped parsley and basil

For the Salad:

-extra virgin olive oil

-micro greens, or your favorite greens

-feta cheese

-avocado, sliced

Instructions

  1. Search lentils for any small rocks and remove. Add lentils to a medium pot with the water, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf.  Bring to a rapid boil, then turn the heat to simmer and cook covered with a lid for 25 minutes. *Note: add more water to the pot throughout the cooking process if you notice the lentils have absorbed most of the water.
  2. Once the lentils have cooked for about 15 minutes, add olive oil to a heated pan.  When the oil is hot, add the carrots and onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes or until soft.  Add the chopped herbs and mix in.
  3. When the lentils are done, strain them if there’s excess water.  Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the cooked vegetables to the pot of lentils and mix together. Allow the lentils to cool, then pour over a bowl of greens, drizzle with olive oil, add feta, avocado and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Green Lentil Salad

Who doesn’t like an easy, mindless recipe?  That’s what this lentil salad recipe basically is, plus, it makes great leftovers, is super healthy and tastes delicious!  I think it’s perfect for this season when the weather is warmer since our bodies are looking to be nourished with more cooling foods.

It’s best to prepare your lentils within a couple months of buying them as it’ll make cooking them simpler.  Know that it is best not to add salt or any acidic ingredients to the lentils until the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, as this will result in crunchy lentils even though they’re cooked.  Also, there are different types of lentils, therefore, different cooking methods required, so this recipe specifically calls for green lentils.

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Ingredients

-1 cup green lentils

-2 cups chicken broth (or water)

-1/2 yellow onion, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-1 bay leaf

-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

-1 avocado, cubed

-2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

-1 tablespoon pesto

-1/2 lemon

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon

-Splash of red wine vinegar

-salt and pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Rinse lentils in a mesh strainer making sure to check for pebbles (remove pebbles if you find them).  Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.  Once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 30 seconds or until softened and aromatic.
  2. Add the lentils and bay leaf to the pot with broth or water.  Turn heat up to medium-high.  Once at a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt to the pot the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Remove from the heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes so lentils can soak up the rest of the water.
  3. While the lentils finish cooking, make the dressing by mixing together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small cup or bowl.
  4. To a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce, lentils, feta, avocado, pesto, and the dressing.  Option to serve with a side of toasted pita bread.  Enjoy!

3 Ways to Get More Nutrients From Your Smoothies- recipe included!

Morning rituals are important, and for me, making smoothies is my thing.  Not only are smoothies convenient, but they contain tons of nutrients, depending on what ingredients you use.  Moreover, it’s easier for our bodies to digest foods that are in a more broken down form (which is why it’s important to chew your food).  When you blend your food, the cell walls of the food is broken down to a point where you can extract more nutrients and allow the body to absorb more of these nutrients. While juicing your food has become very popular, juices can have high sugar content and do not contain the pulp. With smoothies, the entire fruit or vegetable is blended in, which I like because you get more fiber and antioxidants from the pulp.  Other reasons to blend are that it allows for slower sugar absorption, a blender is easier to clean that a juicer, and overall I feel like you can do so much more with a blender than a juicer.  That being said, you can absolutely switch it up between juices and smoothies; both have their benefits.  Whenever possible, make sure to use organic produce, although you can get away with buying these “Clean 15” non-organic.

Leafy Greens

I put all types of things in my blender.  Spinach, romaine, and kale are a few of my favorite leafy greens to use because they don’t really stand out in the smoothie. Who wants to feel like they’re drinking spinach?  Ick, not even me.  Unfortunately, I’ve found out from my clients that not all blenders can successfully blend leafy greens.  Experiment with your blender at home.  At least with my Vitamix, there does seem to be an order in which you should put ingredients in your blender.  Start with your base liquid (I use purified water, hemp milk, coconut milk, or unsweetened almond milk), then put in the leafy greens, followed by fruit and lastly ice or frozen goods.  If I’m making two servings of smoothie, I generally put in one big handful of each type of leafy green.

Citrus Peels

Lemon has always been a staple of my smoothies, but recently I experimented by including the lemon peel.  The peel actually contains 5-10 times more nutrients than lemon juice and adds an extra punch to the drink. For example, one tablespoon of lemon peel contains double the amount of vitamin C and triple the amount of fiber than one wedge of lemon without the peel, according to the USDA database (Reboot With Joe). Once I experienced a smoothie with lemon peel, I started adding peels from other types of citrus (blood oranges and oranges, to be specific).  I highly recommend!  I don’t use the entire peel, maybe just a quarter from each type of citrus.  Upon further research, I’ve also learned the peels contain an antioxidant called Naringin that’s powerful in fighting cancer.

Brown Bananas

Ripened bananas have higher levels of antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties.  I’ve never been a fan of eating brown bananas since they’re a little softer than a yellow banana, but in a smoothie, the taste and texture are not distinguishable.  If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, you actually should eat your bananas while the peel is still green, but if you aren’t diabetic, then “the more dark patches a banana has, the higher its immunity enhancement quality will be” (One Green Planet).

 

Morning Citrus Smoothie

-1.5 cups purified water, unsweetened almond milk, or hemp milk

-1 handful spinach

-1/2 organic green apple

-1/2 organic blood orange (leave peel on)

-1/2 organic lemon (leave peel on)

*If you don’t have organic citrus, make sure you wash the peel before adding it to your smoothie.

-1 ripened banana

-1 scoop unflavored protein powder (optional)

 

  1.  Add ingredients to your blender in the order listed above, making sure to blend gradually unless you know your blender can handle everything at once.  Add more liquid if the smoothie is too thick.
  2. Pour and drink immediately.  Enjoy!

 

 

Nourishing Rice Bowl

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Grains, protein, and veggies all in one dish.  Serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Ingredients

-1 cup sushi rice, cooked

-1 piece salmon

-2 eggs, scrambled

-1/2 cucumber

-1 head of broccoli

-green onions with white bottoms and green tops sliced thinly and separated

-sesame seeds

-2 tablespoons tamari

-1 tablespoon honey

-1 tablespoon olive oil, coconut oil, or toasted sesame oil

-1 teaspoon garlic powder

-salt, pepper

*Note- I typically eyeball ingredients, so measurements in instructions might be a little off.

 

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 400 degrees F.  Place salmon in a zip lock bag.  In a small bowl, combine and whisk together tamari, honey, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce into the bag with the fish and let the salmon marinate for at 10 minutes.  Save any remaining sauce.
  2. Toss broccoli and the whites of the onions in a large bowl with remaining sauce.  Add salt and pepper, plus some extra olive oil if necessary so that broccoli is evenly coated.
  3. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.  Place the salmon and vegetables on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.
  4. Slice cucumbers.  In a small skillet, scramble the eggs.  Remove eggs and put in a serving dish along with some sushi rice and the cucumbers.  Add the salmon and broccoli when they’ve finished cooking.  Sprinkle with the green tops of the onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

Forbidden Rice Veggie Bowl

Looking for an easy vegetarian recipe or an alternative to boring ole’ white or brown rice?  I’ve recently discovered Forbidden Rice, an exotic and somewhat pretentious name for black rice, and I highly recommend trying it.  I first had it at a Los Angeles restaurant called Flower Child.  It was so good that when I got home I immediately tried to recreate the recipe. There are a few reasons why I’m loving this rice.  Not only does it come out with a risotto-like texture, but the grains contain an extraordinary amount of anthocyanin, the powerful antioxidant responsible for giving certain foods like blueberries or eggplants their beautiful purple color (source: Modern Farmer).

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When recreating the recipe from Flower Child, I had to do a bit of guess work.  I ended up just using whatever veggies I had leftover in the fridge, but the ones used at the restaurant were broccoli, carrot, snap peas, japonica, onion, and bok choy.  I’ve never heard of or seen japonica in a store or at a farmers market, so I left that one out. Here is how I prepared this delicious meal using what I already had on hand:

Ingredients

-1 cup Forbidden Rice, soaked or rinsed thouroughly and drained
-2 cups water
-1/2 chicken bouillion cube
-1 head of broccoli, chopped
-1 zucchini, chopped inot 1/4 inch rounds
-1 carrot, julienned
-1 onion, small diced
-5 cloves of garlic, small diced
-dried chili flakes
-sesame oil
-salt, pepper
-1 tablespoon ghee or butter

 

Instructions

1- Add rinsed rice to a small pot with 2 cups water, the boullion cube and ghee (optional). *Note- I barely salt the water since the boullion contains salt.  Cook over high heat on the stove until boiling, then cover and reduce heat to low for about 20 mintues or until cooked through.  Remove from heat and leave lid on.

2- While the rice cooks, heat a medium-sized pan over medium high heat.  Add sesame to the pan.  Add the carrots and broccoli first.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for about five minutes or until slightly soft.  Next, add the zucchini, onion, and garlic.  Lightly season again with salt and pepper and add the chili flakes. Add more sesame oil if necessary.  Cook about 5-6 minutes, or until everything is softened.  Turn heat to low.

3- Add the cooked rice to the pan of vegetables and toss to thoroughly combine everything.  Serve and enjoy this healthy meal!

 

4 Ways to Motivate Yourself When All You Want Is To Do Nothing At All

I was inspired to write this post based off how I currently feel on this cold, foggy day.  I’m working from home, and I want nothing more than to cuddle up with my dogs and hibernate.  However, that’s not an option as work has to be done. So, what do I do to motivate myself?  Here are some tips that work for me, so if you can relate to what I’m saying, please try these suggestions out!

 

1. Eat fat. 

Our brains are made up of about 60% fat and need fat to promote clear thinking and focus. Outdated research suggested people stay away from products containing fat, so for me growing up I typically ate fat-free products.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to now know that healthy fats are actually an essential part of our diet.  Foods like avocado, salmon, coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter and egg yolks are all examples of healthy fats that most people should consume on a daily basis.  I personally don’t eat much dairy, but it makes me sad that I deprived myself of the delicious goodness that is whole milk and 2% Greek yogurt for so many years.  Fat-free products not only taste unsatisfying, but they are typically packed with preservatives and hidden sugars in attempt to improve flavor.  By eating more fat, especially earlier in the day, you can power your brain, enhance learning and memory, and protect yourself again future brain diseases.

To give you an idea of how I fit fats into my diet, here is an example of what I might eat in a day:

Early Morning Meal — My Daily Green Smoothie, which always includes chia seeds and hemp seeds

Breakfast — Two eggs fried in either ghee or coconut oil with vegetables sautéd in either coconut oil or olive oil over rice.

Lunch — Mixed green salad with avocado and a little olive oil with lemon and lime for dressing.

Snack — Apple with almond butter.

Dinner — Baked salmon with steamed broccoli over quinoa.

Fat sources for the day = chia seeds, hemp seeds, egg yolks, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, almond butter and salmon.  If you focus on eating whole foods, it’s not so hard to get your daily fat!

 

2. Experiment with Essential Oils

Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years to improve mood, aid with sleep, energize, fight disease, and so much more.  There’s pretty much an essential oil for just about anything you can think of.  For me, after years of taking pharmaceuticals to manage ADHD, essential oils, in addition to diet, have become my all-natural solution for staying focused.  There are different oils you can use, and there are also oils made of a combination of different scents.  My absolute favorite oil is by DoTerra and it’s called InTune.  It’s a combination of several oils, but it’s my go-to scent whenever it’s time to get working.  Other oils that work well, which are mostly found in InTune, are lavender, Roman chamomile, mandarin, ylang ylang (I love this scent!), frankincense (I love this one too!),  vetiver, and patchouli.

 

3. Use Cannabis

This recommendation might sound counterintuitive and also may not be a solution for everyone.  For me, I have found with certain strains of cannabis that I can manage my ADHD-tendencies.  I do live in California where just about anyone can get a medical marijuana card, so apologies to those of you who unfortunately don’t have access to legal medicine.  For those of you who do, certain strains can actually give you clarity, laser-sharp focus, and can get those creative juices flowing.  Of course, it’s always important to consult your doctor or bud tender first, since they will be able to recommend the best strains for your specific needs, but definitely ask if cannabis can be a good solution for you too.

 

4. Set Daily Goals 

There’s something about writing out your daily to-do list that makes it much easier to get work done during the day.  I think it’s because lists hold you accountable and help with time management.  I actually prefer to write my list the night before, so that I can know exactly what needs to be done when I wake up the following day.

The other part of goal setting, especially when you’re feeling unmotivated, is to set what I call “power hour” goals.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be an hour, but what I’ll do is set a timer for typically about 20-30 minutes and during this time I have to stay completely focused on one task, like writing a blog post.  When my timer goes off I then allow myself a five minute break to walk around and stretch. Sometimes on my break I even let myself check Facebook 🙂  The point is that this system forces my lazy brain to work hard with the promise of a reward.  Because I get to take breaks I don’t get burnt out this way, not to mention I get in a little exercise!

 

For more tips like these, please leave a comment or drop me a line on my website.  Let’s talk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotic Tagine with Spices Recipe

This recipe is for those nights when you want to eat something satisfying and healthy, but have too much on your plate to put too much thought into a meal. Although it’s not a traditional African tagine recipe, it shares some of the elements of one and holds up great as leftovers for a few days. You can go totally meatless with this dish and add extra vegetables, but I’ve made it with ground turkey on one occasion and with ground pork on another and liked both these too. I recommend any of these options. Flavoring is the name of the game with this dish, so make sure your spice cabinet is well-stocked. I tend to eyeball with most spices, and I welcome you to do the same.f167d4cb-14f2-4838-8be7-3dd3da36899e.jpg

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

-1 lb. ground turkey or pork

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, chopped

-1 tablespoon of each of the following spices: garlic powder, onion powder, ground turmeric, paprika, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground coriander, cayenne, salt, and ground pepper.

-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

-1 cup uncooked jasmine rice or cous cous

-1 1/2 cups water or broth

-optional: raisins or golden raisins

Instructions

1- Set oven to 400 degrees F. On the stovetop, heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add about 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Next, add the onion, the fresh garlic, and meat to the skillet. Add all of the spices to the pan, mix in with the meat and onions, and cook until the meat is browned.

2- Add the uncooked rice, chickpeas, and water/broth to the skillet. Add a little more salt, mix together, then place in the oven covered for 40 minutes.

3- That’s it, food is ready! BE CAREFUL after removing the skillet from the oven. It’ll be HOT and I totally burned myself!

Enjoy your meal 🙂

Chinese Green Beans With Pork

San Francisco is a city rich in culture and diversity, which is one of the greatest reasons why I’m obsessed with this city. Because I grew up in a densely Asian-populated neighborhood, my comfort foods have always been any kind of Asian dishes. I love the flavors and smells and have luckily found that many Asian dishes are fairly simple to replicate at home.

My friend and I made a stir-fry dish the other night with green beans, minced pork, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms that we put over rice. It was incredibly easy to make and had the same flavors as the food I’d buy at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood where I grew up. Although we ate this dish with rice, I think it would also go well in lettuce cups for a lighter version, or even with noodles. I found the recipe on Tasty (accompanied by a straightforward cooking demo video), but my friend and I switched the recipe up a bit to make it our own. Here is our version:

c9aaa16c-cf47-4392-a960-e259bc575268.jpgIngredients

-1 lb. ground pork

-1 lb. green beans

-4 cloves garlic, diced

-4 scallions, chopped

-4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped

-1 tbsp chili sauce

-dried red chili flakes (optional)

-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

-1 tbsp rice vinegar

-1/4 cup sesame oil

 

Instructions

1- In a wok or large pan, heat the sesame oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the string beans and cook until blistered. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2- Add more sesame oil if necessary to the pan. Add the scallions and garlic about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and ground pork. Once the pork has browned, stir in the chili sauce and add the red chili flakes. Then add the green beans back to the wok or pan and stir all together.

3- Add the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Serve over rice or with lettuce cups, or just on its own. Enjoy!