Seasonal, local, delicious vegetable at my door? Yes, please!

I just discovered Farmhouse Delivery which delivers locally sourced vegetable, meats, cheeses, milk, coffee, kombucha, and a whole lot of other stuff to you. And right now they are offering to waive the $20 membership fee so you can try out their service when you use my offer code: HolisticHealth.

I chose the large vegetable bushel which arrived the Friday before Spring Break. When I said I arrived, I mean that they brought it to my door! So while I was packing for our Spring Break extravaganza, high-quality, seasonal,  and sustainably grown produce was being delivered to me. Secondly, the produce is wonderful; I may or may not have sampled the radishes a little too much.:)

Finally, it made my meal planning a breeze. If you have read my meal planning tips before, you know I keep my meals vegetable-centered. I make the vegetable the main focus of the meal with protein and/or starch on the side. It’s a great way to turn that SAD (Standard American Diet) on its head and to ensure you get the nutrients your cells need.

I knew that half of this lot would be hitting the road with us so I planned to grill the beets that night and do a quick and easy sauteed with kale to serve alongside our obligatory lake veggie burgers. The following evening I made a big salad with the greens, the carrots, and 2.5 radishes and topped with a veggie patty. We eat a lot of Good Seed burgers at the lake.

When we got home,  I used the spinach and broccoli in a vegetable stir fry and the remaining carrots and the celery in this lovely lentil stew from the Detoxinista for lunches. Have you ever tried farm fresh celery? Turns out, celery is delicious. Who knew?

The whole experience was wonderful, and the company just oozes integrity and passion. You can see this in their mission statement and the profiles of all their producers. So if you live in the Austin or Houston areas, you really need to check out Farmhouse Delivery. Their products are amazing. You can even order a meal kit full of fresh locally sourced food through their Supper Club to help you skip the meal planning altogether.

So sign up today and use the HolisticHealth offer code to waive that $20 membership fee. There really isn’t anything quite like loading up on a bunch of vegetables to improve your health.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Avoid the holiday bloat!

http://www.vintag.es/
From the fabulous blog Vintage Everyday

The holidays have become synonymous with gluttony. It’s as if we don’t know how to celebrate without feeling like bloated slugs when its all over. But you don’t have to “celebrate” like that!

Before you close this page because I sound like some crazy killjoy, I want you to know that I love holiday food — seriously, love it! Grandma’s stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and pecan pie are all delicious and bring back so many happy memories. If we are lucky, our holiday tables are a part of beautiful traditions that we get to share and pass on. But they can also be scenes of heinous crimes we commit on our digestive system. Often, we see that table and eat too much, too quickly and end up really wasting a beautiful meal.

So how can you have both? How can we enjoy participating in that beautiful tradition without going overboard and putting stress on our digestive system? Here are some tips!

  1. Have a plan. Before you step foot near that table, have a plan. Know what and how much you are going to eat and drink because it’s way harder to make good decisions when surrounded by not so great ones. Which leads me to tip 2
  2. Load up on taste vegetables. At least half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables that are not coated in sugar. So if greens aren’t something normally served at your table, adjust the menu. Check out this technique for simple and easy to cook greens like chard, kale, or collard greens.
  3. Eat even more taste vegetables. Instead of the traditional sweet potato casserole that should probably be setting next to the rest of the desserts, roast some sweet potatoes along with some red onion and an apple. Or chop up your favorite vegetables into bite sized pieces and roast them until they are soft. My favorite combinations are broccoli and carrots or Brussell sprouts, butternut squash, and red onion. Most vegetables taste great roasted, and all you really need is a bit of coconut oil or ghee, some salt and pepper, and an oven set to 400. The great thing about eating a whole foods diet is that the food already tastes good so the cooking doesn’t have to be hard.
  4. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Eat normally before the meal or party because the last thing you need is for blood sugar to go on a roller coaster ride. We make our best choices when our blood sugar is stable, so make sure to eat normally up until the big meal.
  5. Enjoy your food! The funny thing about these feasting days is that we load up our plates to the breaking point and then shovel it all down like at any minute it’s just going to disappear — which means that we are very rarely even tasting our food. So stop. The food isn’t going anywhere and there is probably wayyyy more than you need. Take a few deep breaths and chew slowly and  thoroughly so you can actually enjoy what you are putting into your body.

I hope this holiday season is wonderful for you and that you find lots of ways to take pleasure in and enjoy all the beauty that is around us.

If you’d like to make lasting changes for a healthier life, I offer a variety of health coaching programs. I’m booking people now for January, so go ahead and sign up for your free health consultation and let’s kick off the new year right!

Deficiency du jour: Vitamin D

vitamin d

 

Everyone you know, including yourself, has probably been tested for and found lacking when it comes to vitamin D. So what gives? Turns out most of us — about 50% to 70% of children and adults — are deficient in this key nutrient. While we don’t really know why that is, it seems likely that it has something to do with sitting inside all day and not eating the right types of foods. Whatever the cause, vitamin D deficiency is a real problem as it can contribute to. . .

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Asthma in kids
  • Osteoporosis in adults
  • Rickets in kids
  • Certain cancers, like colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
  • etc., etc., etc.

I don’t know about you, but that list and all those “et ceteras” are a bit scary. But there is good news! Most doctors are hip to the importance of having the correct levels of vitamin D and will work with you to ensure that you have them. Also, changing your diet to add vitamin D-rich foods like salmon and eggs yokes, working on your gut health to help your body absorb the nutrient, spending a little bit of time in the sun without sunscreen*, and taking a good vitamin D supplement will help set you right.

Of course, I am not a doctor, so pop over here or here to find out what doctors have to say about vitamin D deficiency and how to address it.

In the mean time go outside and start absorbing some D!

*Skin cancer is still a thing so we need to balance the need for vitamin D via sun exposure with protecting our biggest organ, our skin. You can do this with taking into account your age, skin tone, and health, and using your knowledge and intuition to determine how much time you should spend in the sun without sunscreen. For  example, as a light-skinned woman in my late thirties with autoimmune disease, I get out roughly 10 to 15 minutes every day in the morning sun without sunscreen. 

Health on the cheap: Eat all the produce!

chardWe all know that vegetables and fruits are so good for us and that we should be eating them every day, several times a day.  Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients and healing properties that our bodies need, but many of us shy away from loading up our shopping carts with a rainbow of colors because produce seems really expensive. And I get that. You can buy an entire box of pasta that will feed a whole family for the same cost as one avocado. But the nutrient density of that avocado out weights the pasta a million fold. (That’s hyperbole, so don’t go quoting me on that.)  When we think about spending money on food (i.e. our health), we should spend it in a way that gives us the biggest bang for our buck nutrient-wise, as opposed to filler-wise. Having said that, it can still be really expensive to buy all the vegetables and fruits we should be eating, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some tips for saving money while satisfying our nutrient needs.

  1. Have a produce plan. Have a plan for all your produce so that none goes to waste. The most expensive vegetables are the ones we throw out. Check out last week’s post on meal planning for  some tips.
  2. Buy in season. One reason fresh produce is so expensive is that we buy them out of season. A tomato or strawberries are going to cost a whole lot more in January than it will in the summer, and they will be missing a lot of flavor. The ideal time to buy a vegetable or fruit for both your taste buds and your pocket is when they are in season. You can check out your state agricultural agency or your local CSA for information on what vegetables are in season near you.
    1. Know the organic rules. Organic fruits and vegetables tend to be more flavorful and more expensive. While organic foods are better for the environment and our health by reducing our exposure to pesticides, it might not always be feasible to buy all organic produce. For those of you concerned about your families exposure to pesticides, I will point you to the Environmental Working Group’s lists of produce that you can get away with buying conventionally and those you should pay a little extra for.                                                            If you have access to a farmers market, speak to the farmers to learn about their farming methods. I’ve found that though not all farms can pay to be certified as an organic farm, but many do practice organic farming. You may get a better price at these stands if they are trying to compete with larger farms with organic certification. Also, buying organic vegetables frozen (see tip #5) is a great way to save some moolah.
  3.  Buy in bulk and preserve. If you really like tomatoes, berries, basil, peppers, or whatever and need them all year round, then you can buy them in bulk when in season and preserve them. Some farms will have special deals on seasonal produce if you buy it canningin bulk. For several years my good friend and I have made it a point to buy several pounds of tomatoes in June and make salsa, pasta sauce, ketchup, and crushed tomatoes to use at a later date. You can tell from this picture (it was late!) that it’s a lot of hard work. But it’s well worth it when you can reach into your pantry in January and grab some crushed tomatoes for dinner.  If canning doesn’t float your boat, you can always freeze berries, peppers, and herbs for later use.   I have a friend that makes big batches of pasta sauce when tomatoes are cheap and freezes servings for later use. It may take a little work, but you really do reap the rewards (pun intended).   Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for instructions and information on food preservation.
  4. Don’t forget the freezer section. I prefer buying fresh vegetables and fruits, but if I can’t, then I’ll buy them frozen. Frozen vegetables and fruits are typically cheaper than buying fresh and because they are picked at the height of freshness , and they are pretty taste, too.  Throw frozen vegetables into a chili, a soup, or other one pot meals helps you to get more vegetables in without all that pesky cutting. You can even roast frozen vegetables, which is one of my all time favorite methods. 

I hope this helps you feel inspired to go out and buy those vegetables. Look for recipes in the coming weeks that use seasonal vegetables in typical meals.

For more in this series, check out the post Health on the Cheap: Have a plan! and watch this space for more.

Vegetable of the week: Sweet Potato

Nice_sweet_potatoI love sweet potatoes! Never was there a more delicious and versatile vegetable. It is also one one of the few vegetables frequently requested by my picky-eating daughter.  These lovely tubers are in season right now, and throughout the fall and winter you can find good deals at both farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

As one of nature’s superfoods,  sweet potatoes are chock-full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps protect the health of our skin and eyes.  They are also low on the glycemic index and may even improve blood sugar! In addition, sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties. They are bundles of unending goodness.  Here are some ideas to inspire you and help you easily incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

The roasting twofer: roasted sweet potato side dish and sweet potato soup. 

Peel and dice two medium sweet potatoes into roughly 1 inch by 1 inch chunks and place in a roasting dish. Chop and place 1/4 red onion and 3 to 4 peeled whole garlic pieces in one half of the dish. This is the soup side. Next toss in  1.5 TBS of fat (butter or coconut oil work great), and shake in a little salt and pepper, making sure to keep the soup side separate from the roasting side. Roast atroasting sp 350 for about 30 minutes (turning half way through).

Once sp souproasted, half the potatoes can be used for that night’s dinner. This night, we had black eyed pea tempeh, greens, and roasted sweet potatoes. The soup half of the dish goes into a blender with 1 cup of vegetable broth, 1 tsp of curry, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. (I like thick soup, but you can adjust the amount of broth to get your preferred consistency.) Total prep, cooking, and soup-mixing time was about 45 minutes (mostly down time), and I ended up with five servings of roasted potatoes and two lunches worth of sweet potato soup!

 

Spanish Tortilla

Spanish tortillas are delicious, and if you ever have a chance to eat one at a tapas bar, I highly encourage you to try them. Traditionally, this lovely Spanish dish is made with white potatoes and onion, but I have sweet potatoes so that how we are going to roll! Check out my recipe here.

Make Your Own Sweet Potato

On MYO sweet potato night, I bake one sweet potato for each member of the family, usually sized relative to their size (Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour). Once cooked through and soft, the family pulls out all the leftover vegetables and beans we have from the week, along with other traditional toppings like butter and cheese. Everyone stuffs their potato with the fillings they like best. Like magic I have a clean fridge and a happy and full family.

 

Other honorable sweet potato mentions are sweet potato fries that my daughter adores and these sweet potato falafel that hit the spot every time.

As always, I hope these ideas inspire you to get in your kitchen and create something with one of this season’s lovely treasures.