I’ve moved!!

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I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted! I’ve been busy getting my health coaching certification and then sharing my teachings with others! Between coaching people on how to get more energy from eating real foods and the added benefits of essential oils in a healthy lifestyle I haven’t been dedicating as much time to sharing my recipes and tips to all of you out there! I’m happy to say that I have moved all of my old blog posts and even shared some new ones to my new blog webpage http://www.christinemariewellness.wordpress.com! Stop by, check it out, and be sure to sign up for email notifications from my new blog site so you can stay up to date! 

If you’re interested in learning more about 1:1 health coaching you can check out my website http://www.christinemariewellness.com 

if you’re interested in essential oils you can find out more at http://www.mydoterra.com/christinemariewellness!

And my email is always open for questions! Christinemariewellness@gmail.com 

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“Deconstructed hummus” and greens — a zesty lemon, tahini, miso sauce

The fact that I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks has been nagging at me.  One of my goals for this summer was to try and post something at least once a week, whether it be a recipe, tip, or even just some insight into my organization techniques for my hectic life.  But, life happens sometimes, and I can’t complain because my summer has been great so far.  Don’t mistake this hiatus from blog posts to mean that I haven’t been creating in the kitchen.  While I have been eating out occasionally, most of what I eat is still homemade by yours truly! But, because of my go, go, go days and nights, I’ve been sticking to a lot of my old trusty recipes. I haven’t made anything that made my eyebrows pop up like, wow this is goooood, I need to share this recipe… until last night’s dinner.

As you may know from reading my blog, I joined an organic CSA this year.  The beauty of this is that I end up having to buy very few, if any, veggies for the week.  The challenging part of this though, is coming up with ideas for meals based on what I’m given, as opposed to getting to pick out my produce for the week.  Braising greens are something that I have gotten in my share for more than a few weeks in a row.  I’ve cooked them up with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar to bring to a picnic, they were a big hit.  I’ve also sautéed them with sweet onions, and served with sunny side eggs for breakfast, another yummy meal.  But frankly, they’re not the prettiest thing to take pictures of (a wilted mixture of green looks sloppy no matter how much fuss you put into the plating), and subsequently I never became excited enough about the dishes to try and write up a mouthwatering description.

BUT, of course, since I am writing this, clearly I am excited enough about this dish to disregard the visually unappealing nature and try to get across this dish’s worth based on the flavor!

Deconstructed hummus and greens_a zesty lemon tahini miso dressing

I’ve been describing this dish as a sort of deconstructed hummus.  It has the same creamy, Mediterranean taste as hummus, and most of the basic ingredients one would use to make the dip.  The deconstructed part is based on leaving the chickpeas whole instead of blending them with the other ingredients in the dish.   Leaving them whole added another texture which was important in breaking the one note texture of the greens mixture.

The secret in this sauce though is the miso.  If you’ve ever had miso soup at a Japanese restaurant you may know the flavor, but it’s far from the only use for this delicious ingredient.  Miso is a fermented paste made most commonly from soy but there are also other varieties you can buy.  I prefer white miso, it has a more mild, salty/sweet flavor.  Miso is a complete protein, a good source of b-12, high in antioxidants, and because it is fermented it is an enzyme rich food.  It has also been shown to reduce risk for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.  Adding a little bit of miso not only bumps up the nutritional value but it also enhances the flavors of the sauce.

Here’s how I made it:

I receive a mixture of all different varieties of greens from my CSA.  Everything from kale, to collards, to swiss chard, so feel free to experiment with whatever you can find.  I prep them by cutting off the thick stems, rinsing and spinning them dry, and simply throwing them in a big pot of heated coconut or olive oil to wilt down stirring occasionally to make sure every leaf gets its chance!  If you’re making a lot, try adding the greens in batches so it doesn’t overwhelm your pot.

Once the greens were mostly cooked, I added one box (because they come in boxes instead of cans now!!) of organic garbonzo beans (aka chickpeas) and heated through.

For the sauce:  (these measurements are guestimates, because I didn’t realize how tasty it would be to remember to measure!!)

  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 TBS organic tahini
  • 1 TBS organic white miso paste
  • A good dash of red pepper flakes (for a little heat!)

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until it forms a thick paste.  Then slowly add water, whisking to combine, until you get your desired consistency.  It’s really that simple!

Poured over the dish, this sauce coats the greens and chickpea mixture with just the right amount flavor, brightening the bitterness of the greens and pulling the whole dish together.  I served mine with a simple pan seared chicken breast, but I’d be interested to try out it in other ways too; maybe on soba noodles or in a stir fry? Lots of possibilities!!

Chilled ginger-citrus carrot and beet soup

Soup in the summertime seems like a ridiculous idea.  It’s already hot out; you don’t need your dinner to warm you up even more.  A chilled soup on the other hand, can end up being exactly what you might be looking for.  Last summer I had my first experience with chilled soups one Saturday afternoon while perusing the farmers market.  A woman was giving samples of her homemade cold soups, and after trying one I promptly bought 3 containers, it was that good.  The best one that I had was by far her chilled beet soup.  Beets are one of my favorite vegetables, I eat them hot AND cold so it makes perfect sense that a chilled beet soup would be a home run.  I wanted to see if I could do it.

Luckily, I got beets in my CSA this week! How convenient.  What makes this even better is that I have also been getting the most delicious Napoli carrots for the past few weeks too.  They are just the right amount of sweet with a clean crisp finish to them.   I can almost eat the whole pound raw in one sitting.  Good thing I refrained this week, because into my soup they will go!

organic beets

As with almost everything I make, I pretty much made it up as I went along.  I immediately knew the flavor profile that I wanted.  A bright note of citrus and a zip of ginger would definitely compliment the sweet carrots and earthy beets.  I thought back to my basic soup making knowledge and went at it.

Ingredients:

4 medium sized beets – cut into small chunks (the smaller the pieces the faster it cooks!)

About ½ pound of carrots (I just couldn’t part with them all!) – also cut into small chunks

About 4 ½ cups of organic vegetable stock – low sodium

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 spring onion bulb, diced – I also received these in my CSA, they have a light, sweet, onion flavor that I knew wouldn’t be too overpowering.  If you can’t find them, try using a shallot.

1 TBS olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of ½ orange

1 TBS grated ginger – As I’ve noted in other recipes, a good tip is to keep your ginger in the freezer.  It stays fresh longer and you don’t have to worry about peeling it, you just use a microplane and grate what you need!

 

Making this was pretty simple, here’s what I did:

  • Sautee the garlic and onion in the olive oil (you want to cook out the raw flavor)
  • Add the stock and bring to a boil
  • Add the beets and carrots and cook until they are fork tender
  • Add the lemon juice, orange juice, and the grated ginger to the pot, stir, and take it off of the heat. *The last thing you want to be doing is adding a hot liquid to your blender, so make sure you let it cool down!!*
  • Once it’s cool, pour it all into the blender and blend!
  • Chill in the fridge for about an hour and EAT!!

chilled ginger citrus carrot beet soup in blender

 

I garnished mine with some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and it tasted great!!

chilled ginger citrus carrot and beet soup

You can definitely eat this soup hot too, so keep it in mind during the fall and winter months.  Just reheat it on the stove after you blend it and enjoy.

I can do anything for 3 days…my juice cleanse experience

If there’s one time of year to indulge, it’s certainly on your birthday.  I like to say that I have a birthday “season” as opposed to restricting myself to just one day for celebrations.  And boy did I have a lot of celebrations this year in which I indulged in pretty much whatever I wanted. While I’m completely okay with this on a mental level, because I’m only human, and I mean, it’s my birthday, my body on the other hand, was not too happy with me.  To go from having eliminated dairy for a while now, and having cut out 99% of processed foods and sugars to eating a ton of cheese, sugary desserts and overall not-good-for-you foods, definitely took a toll on me.  I felt sluggish, sick, down and depressed and basically just pretty awful.

I made the decision to do a 3 day juice cleanse once I was done celebrating.  I wanted to reset my body and get back on track with my healthy eating and great feelings.  When I told people I was going to do this, I of course got a lot of mixed responses.  Some just don’t get it and think it’s a waste of money, while others were excited for me and wanted to hear how it went.  While it’s certainly not for everyone, I can honestly say having now completed it, that I am overwhelmingly glad I did this and I’m sure I will continue to feel even better.  I will give you some of the “listed” benefits of doing something like this, however I also think that hearing about my personal experience can be far more meaningful to those who are considering something like this for themselves or are skeptical.

Juice cleanse - detox

First let me start with the basic jist of what this particular cleanse I chose is all about.  It was created by Ami Beach, co-owner of G-Zen in Branford, CT (named one of the top 10 upscale vegan restaurants in America by Shape magazine).  Her list of credentials in holistic practices and years of experience speaks for itself.  If you’re interested in reading up on her or the cleanse more, the website is: http://www.g-glow.blogspot.com/ and the information below is taken directly from there.

The juices are made from over 80 lbs of fresh 100% organic produce.  They are fresh pressed using a state-of the-art Walker hydraulic juicer that leaves the juices in the most nutrient dense state. The Fresh pressed Organic juices are custom mixed with medicinal enhancers ie: (collodial silver, oxygen, aloe vera, cell food ect) and blended in such as way to stabilize your blood sugar level and allow you to get through the cleanse with ease & grace. 

Benefits include:

* Reboot metabolism & immune system

* Lose weight and stimulation of better digestion

* Increases Energy

* Mental clarity

* Cellular detoxification of blood & organs

* Improve skin clarity and complexion

* Improved assimilation and elimination

By giving your digestive system a much needed rest from the processed, acidic foods you consume on a daily basis, you will feel the amazing benefits of a regulated and nourished colon. Experience increased energy, stamina, and mental clarity. Embrace your new radiant complexion and healthy hair and nails!

The benefits of juice cleanses will vary by person, as do many things having to do with our bodies and diet, because we’re all different.  For me, despite the things that I found difficult (which I will get into after), I found the whole process extremely positive.

The first thing that I noticed, and continue to feel, is an overall sensation of feeling lighter: lighter heart, lighter mind, and lighter body.  On top of that I felt a distinct calm and ease about myself.  As I said before, I was feeling listless and depressed, and even after the first day, I woke up with a brightness and clarity that is similar to how I feel after my yoga classes.  All of this is contrary to how I was afraid I would feel.  Usually, if I don’t get something to eat every few hours, I feel sluggish and I’m a snappy, crabby brat.  MANY can attest to that haha. Yet, my mood never dropped once and my energy levels were heightened throughout the day, all because the juices are designed to keep your blood sugar stable.

Another benefit I found in just these 3 short days is my skin is glowing.  I don’t have troublesome skin so I never even thought of this as a benefit, but I truly do notice that my face and complexion has brightened and is softer and clearer.

Another aspect that was a great surprise to me was how amazingly I slept.  I have terrible sleep habits, bouts of insomnia, and don’t allow my body the rest it needs a lot of the time.  I have slept the best, most restorative, baby-like sleep I have had in a LONG time.  I fell asleep easily, I woke up feeling rested and refreshed and if nothing else, this whole cleanse was worth it just for that!!

The most important thing to me though, is how much better I feel.  Clearing out my system from the foods I don’t typically eat and giving my body time to re-set has made a world of difference in the way I feel physically.

Now on to the things I had difficulty with, since I know that’s the juicy gossip everyone really wants to know about.  Well, get this…I missed eating! Surprise, surprise.  I wasn’t hungry per-se, it was more the act of eating that I missed.  What I found was that it was mainly in situations where I was bored, or at work where I’m always mindlessly snacking (on healthy things like celery, but still, I’m constantly eating).  But finding things to keep me from getting bored, like spending time with my friends, reading, and writing this blog, kept me from having to fill that boredom void with munching on something.  The other thing I found really difficult was not being able to cook.  Now I know this is something that is probably specific to me, but I realized just how much I love being in the kitchen and cooking with fresh, healthy foods.  I actually ended up cooking last night, my final night of the cleanse, because, 1) I just couldn’t take not cooking anymore, and 2) I wanted to have an amazing lunch for my first day back to eating.

Overall, this was an extremely wonderful experience for me.  I feel great about myself having gotten though it and I feel physically rejuvenated.  Every one of the juices tasted fantastic, the instructions were thorough and clear and there was support available if I needed it.  This is definitely something I will recommend to anyone who is interested in trying it, and something I will absolutely do again myself in the future.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato and kale soup

“Well the weather outside is frightful”….ok ok I won’t start singing winter wonderland songs but it’s really quite true lately.  It’s been chilly and rainy for days with the exception of one nice day…where is the nice weather?!! So I decided to give in and cook myself something warm and comforting to cozy up on my couch with and embrace this crappy weather….and what’s better than soup?!! I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe on the blog, because for me, soup is EXTRA hard to pay attention to what I’m putting in it.  It gets a little of this and a little of that, and oh, no wait, a little more of that…soup is about tasting as you go and tweaking it to perfection by building the flavors.  But this was so simply delicious, I will do my best to explain it all 😉 and please, tweak as you go too! Start with little dashes and add more if you like the way it’s going, it’s a great way to introduce new flavors to your palate.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato, and kale soup

The basic ingredients:

2 TBS EVOO

½ white onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

About 2 cups of organic kale

1 medium sweet potato, diced into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)

Organic vegetable broth, low sodium (I used about 3/4 of a quart container)

Seasonings:

Salt and pepper

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Ground cayenne red pepper

 

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium and cook the onion until translucent
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the kale and sautee until wilted
  • Add the beans and sweet potato and stir to combine
  • Pour the vegetable broth over everything until you have a little more broth than you would want if you want it soupy, or a little less if you want it thicker.  The broth will cook down and thicken up some so keep that in mind.
  •  Now I add my seasonings.  Like I said, dash and taste and figure out what works for you.  With the cayenne I started out with just a little bit and built it up to make sure it wasn’t too hot.  The cardamom and cinnamon, I did a couple dashes of each since I love those flavors together, especially with sweet potatoes! And as always, season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring up to a boil, cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, check your seasonings again.  You want a balance between the sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne.  Adjust as needed and ENJOY!!

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

A little while back I had the pleasure of ‘talking food’ with one of my sister’s closest friends Emily and her husband Andy.  It’s not every day that I meet people who get excited about vegetables like I do, (and I completely plan to steal from their garden this summer 😉 haha).  But tonight’s recipe was inspired by them.  While we were swapping food favorites and looking through old pictures of dinners (because I’ve been taking pictures of my food long before I ever had a blog… I’m weird I know) Andy came across one that he immediately wanted the recipe for.  If you know me, or have read my blog before, then you are well aware that I am not good at recipe writing.  I also rarely make the same thing twice, partly for that reason.  However, I can always decipher what ingredients I had used in something and frankly, it’s more fun sometimes to use the same flavor profile but find new ways to re-invent it!!  This is a twist on the dinner that they saw and it came out delicious!!

Baked squash stack with white beans and stewed tomatoes

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow squash

1 medium zucchini (you can swap these two depending on which one you want more of; I just happened to have these quantities so I went with it!)

1 can organic cannellini beans (no salt)

1 can organic stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and transfer them to a small bowl.  Using a fork, mash the beans into a chunky paste.
  • Also, drain the stewed tomatoes and put them in a separate bowl.  (squash give off a lot of liquid when they cook so you won’t need the extra from the tomatoes)
  • Slice your squash and zucchini into thin rounds, keeping them each in separate piles
  • Spray a baking dish (mine was 8×8) with non-stick spray and lay out an even layer of your first yellow squash in the bottom of the dish.
  • Season the layer with garlic powder and Italian seasoning
  • Take ½ of the mashed cannellini beans and dot it on top of the layer
  • Take ½ of the stewed tomatoes and using your fingers break them apart it into chunks, spreading it on top also.
  • Next, layer your zucchini and repeat the same seasoning steps followed by the remaining cannellini beans and stewed tomatoes.
  • Top with the final layer of yellow squash
  • Season with Italian seasoning and drizzle with 1 TBS of extra virgin olive oil to allow the top to brown up in the oven
  • Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the squash are tender and cooked all the way through, test this by sticking a fork in it! (the bake time will vary depending on how thick or thin your rounds are and also the size of your baking dish)
  • Broil for a few minutes at the end to brown the top

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Overhead

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Sideview

I also think this dish would be amazing sprinkled with some fresh grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (but since I’m dairy free 😦 you’ll have to let me know!!!)

Daily Don’t Forget: More Bananas!

organic fair trade bananas

Bananas are a staple fruit in my diet and they have a ton of health benefits.  Here’s a few of my faves!

  • Not only do bananas give you energy because they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, but studies have shown that eating a banana can actually lift your mood!!
  • They are also a fantastic source of potassium which is great for an active person like me because it can prevent muscle cramps after working out.   It also regulates your circulatory system and helps keep a proper balance of fluids in your system.
  • They’re a good source of iron, vitamin C and B6
  • They’re easy to digest and their fiber content (about 3g in one banana) can help regulate your digestive system.

BUT! I have a bit of a reputation for being a banana snob…I’m super picky about what degree of ripeness I will eat a banana.  Not too green, bright yellow, very little brown spots, if any…it’s a little neurotic haha

What this means is that a lot of the bunch gets too brown before I can devour them!

While making banana bread with your over ripe bananas can be one good way to utilize them, there’s no way I can make, let alone eat, an entire banana bread each week.

MY Solution: Freeze them!

Once the bananas start getting too ripe for my taste, I peel them (<– important step), cut them in half or thirds depending on the size, and just toss the pieces into a Tupperware container to be frozen.  It’s that simple.

My favorite way to use a frozen banana is in my morning green smoothie.  By adding a frozen banana to the mix, the smoothie instantly gets that thick, creamy, frozen texture that is hard to get by using ice cubes.  It’s delicious.

Another simple way to use a frozen banana is to make banana ice cream!!  You just blend the banana with some almond milk and literally…..voila!  You can jazz it up too by adding dark chocolate chunks and/or peanut butter, or by adding different berries, whatever your imagination brings!

So next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up some bananas, and don’t hunt for the small bunch! Because don’t forget! you now have a quick simple solution for the ones that get too ripe!!