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!

Sardine and veggie bowl

Sardines

 

You need fat. Despite all the low-fat options you find in the grocery store, your body needs fat. Fat helps keep our hormones (including insulin) well regulated, it feeds our hungry brain (60% of it is fat!), and it keeps us feeling full longer. Not to mention that fat is delicious. Of course not all fat is created equal. For example, trans fats are horrible for us, but fatty fish like the sardines shown above are full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids that help our body run.

Some good fats are grass-fed butter, avocados, ghee, unrefined coconut oil, and unrefined olive oil. Basically, I take the same approach when choosing fats as I do with choosing my food; namely, is it as close to a whole food (not processed) as it gets and was it grown/raised in an ethical and sustainable way?  If the answer is yes, then I feel pretty comfortable eating it and giving it to my kid. If the answer is no, then I avoid it like the plague.

The recipe below is a great way to get in a bunch of good fat while having some veggies and a very filling meal.

Sardines and veggie bowl

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • one TBS coconut oil
  • one tin of skinless and boneless sardines packed in olive oil
  • a handful or two of chopped spinach or other green you like
  • one small leftover or freshly made roasted beets cut into bite sized pieces
  • half a cup of leftover quinoa
  • half a TBS olive oil
  • three tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Sautee the spinach in the coconut oil until bright green and wilted.
  2. Remove the spinach and add the sardines into the pan.
  3. Cook the sardines for a few minutes on either side. I like it to have a few nice crisp places before pulling it out of the pan.
  4. Assemble the quinoa, spinach, and beets into the bowl and then top it with the sardines.
  5. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
  6. Pour dressing over the bowl. Enjoy!

 

I was inspired to make this recipe by a dish my dear friend Leah made me. I hope this recipe inspires you to get in the kitchen and experiment with some yummy good fats!

Cauliflower Rice

mixmix

I have been having a hankering for Bibimbap, a Korean rice-based dish with vegetables and protein. Unfortunately, I don’t have stone bowls needed to make authentic bibimbap, but I’ve created something that is close enough to satisfy my cravings.  It’s a great meal for my family because it allows for so much flexibility. I prepare the vegetables and protein I want to get out of the fridge, and everyone tops their rice with their choices. Last night I sauteed shiitake mushrooms, bok choi, homemade kimchi (look for a post on fermented food soon); cut up some carrots; and washed a handful of mixed lettuce. The only  problem is that I wasn’t feeling like rice. In fact, over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling that I’ve been eating a few too many grains. I do not think there is anything wrong with grains, I just know that from time to time I need a grain break. Enter cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower rice is exactly what it sounds like: cauliflower cut up into rice size pieces. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable* which means it supports our body’s detox process, provides antioxidants, and fights inflammation. It is also loaded with fiber that feeds all the healthy microbes in our guts, which is so important for our overall health.

To make your own cauliflower rice:

  • cauliflowerFirst, Cut the desired amount of cauliflower into smaller pieces. On this night, I used about a fourth of a large head of cauliflower, which produced roughly 1 1/2 cups worth of rice. That was enough for my meal and one serving for the next day.

 

 

 

 

  • Next, place florcauliflower riceets in a food processor and pulse until you get a rice-like consistency. At this point, your rice is done or you can add a little heat.  Those of us with thyroid disease or that just prefer warm rice proceed to the last step.

 

  • Finally, mix the cauliflower with about 1/2 to 1 TBS fat of your choice (ghee or coconut oil are my go-tos) and toss it in a pot with a little less than 1 TBS water. Lightly steam the rice for 5 to 10 minutes. Season and serve in place of  rice  in any dish your heart desires.

I really enjoyed my cauliflower rice. I won’t be having it all the time because I try to limit the number of cruciferous vegetables I eat in a week, but it’s a nice alternative when I’m feeling the need to de-grain.  I would love to hear this recipe worked out for you in the comments below.

*For those of us with thyroid disease, whether or not you should eat cruciferous vegetables can be a difficult choice. Some argue that, as a goitrogenic food, it should be completely removed from the diet as it inhibits iodine from being properly utilized by the thyroid. Others argue that consuming a normal amount of cooked cruciferous vegetables will not have a negative impact. Do your own research, speak to a trusted professional, and, as always, listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Lettuce have some food!

lettuceLettuce is in season right now which means you can find some really great deals. I purchased this head of romain lettuce from Whole Foods for $1.99, and believe me it really stretched throughout the week. This is great news for those of us trying to get more vegetables into our diet.

Wait. What?

I know, we don’t really think of lettuce as vegetable. Rather we think of it as the  flavorless base-layer for bacon bits and croutons.  But certain types of lettuce can be very nutritious. The romain I bought my family is loaded with vitamin A, K, and folate and contains omega-3 fatty acids and iron along with many many more nutrients.

While romain is one of the healthiest types of lettuce there are several other varieties that are loaded with nutrients your body needs. When choosing a lettuce use color as your guide. The richer and darker the color the more packed with nutrients it will be. Pick lettuces that are dark green or red and avoid the paler lettuces like iceberg.

As the workhorse of the veggie world,  you can make delicious (and seasonal) salads, you can use it as a wrap for a variety of ingredients, you can add it to soups, or even blend it in your smoothies. Below are a few ways my family has used this gorgeous head of lettuce this past week.

pear, walnut and argula
Pear and walnut salad

 

grapefruit and fennel salad
Grapefruit, fennel, and avocado salad

 

Lettuce wraps
Mushroom and walnut lettuce wraps with miso soup

As always, I hope these ideas and recipes inspire you to get into the kitchen and experiment with your own seasonal goodies. I’d love to hear all about your creations in the comments!

 

 

 

Health on the cheap: Use every bit!

throwing-money

We throw away a lot of food every year. Literally tons.  One third of all the food worldwide gets thrown in the trash. That’s crazy! Not only are visions of starving people flashing through my mind as I type this, but it’s like taking money, crumpling it up, and tossing it into the trash. In the US alone, we crumple up those dollars to the tune of $48.3 billion every year. Every year!

My goal with this particular series is to help you save money while getting the nutrients you need. There’s an easy way for you to save on your grocery money every month: Stop throwing away food!  Done!

Kidding!

I know it’s harder said than done. We throw away food mostly because we never got around to cooking it or we don’t eat the leftovers. I have been guilty of both of those things. But we can fix this problem if we are more intentional about what we do with food.   These ideas and tips will help you save money and keep delicious food out of the garbage.

  1. Plan for those leftovers. The first step really is to have a plan, as I discussed in the first post of this series.  I cannot stress how important it is to have a menu that reflects the time and energy you have to prepare food. Part of that plan should include what you are going to do with leftovers. I like to make more food than we will eat in one sitting so that I have food already prepared for lunch the next day. As we are cleaning up after dinner, my husband portions out the remaining food and puts it in to-go containers so that the next day we just grab and go. Done! No food waste.
  2. Don’t make more than you need. If you are someone who does not like to eat leftovers, then be conscientious about how much food your family will really eat. If you always have leftover food, reduce the amount you make or figure out a way to incorporate the excess into the next meal. If you always make too much quinoa, you can either reduce the amount or use it in another recipe. For example, you can make a quinoa porridge for breakfast by sautéing a chopped banana in some coconut oil and adding the leftover quinoa and a few splashes of coconut milk until you get the consistency you like.  It’s delicious with cinnamon and pecans, too!
  3. Rescue the produce! Even the best planning in the world can’t keep your produce safe. There may be times when things just come up and you weren’t able to roast that squash or use those herbs like you had planned. But before you let them compost in the crisper drawer, pull them out and toss them into a freezer bag. I freeze vegetables, herbs, and scraps to make vegetable broth. In addition, every time I juice, peel, chop off an end of a vegetable, herb, or fungus (mushrooms are the best), I put the leftover odds and ends in my freezer bag. Before you know it, you have a bag of rescued produce and scraps that will soon shine as broth. Check out my how-to here.

No one wants to throw away money, especially on nutrients that heal our body and give us the energy we need. I hope these tips inspire you to be more intentional about the food you buy and the food sitting in your fridge.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so let me know what your thinking in the comments.

For more in this series check out Health on the Cheap: Have a plan! and Health on the Cheap: Eat all the produce!

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.

Homemade Vegetable Pho

pho

I love pho so much, especially when its cold outside and I’m feeling a cold come on. Unfortunately, there is only one place in my area that sells vegan, gluten-free pho, and it’s all the way across town. But this time, instead of giving in and jumping in my car, I went into the kitchen to see if I could figure it out myself. I’m happy to say that with this easy recipe I might just be done with drives across town.

Not only is this a delightful and easy meal, but it’s also a great way to get some more vegetables into your diet.

Vegetarian Pho

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Broth

  • 3 pieces of whole star anise
  • 5 pieces of whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 1.5 inch ginger cut in to smaller chunks
  • 1/4 a medium size yellow onion
  • 4 “no beef ” bullion cubes in 8 cups of boiling water or 8 cups of your choice of broth (A non-vegan but wonderful idea is to use bone broth)
  • 1 TBS  gluten-free tamari  (optional)

Soup goodies

  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms (shiitake, white, or baby bella)
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • 1 to 2 cups broccoli
  • TBS coconut oil
  • 1/2 package rice noodles (I use brown rice seaweed noodles from Star Anise Foods).

Topping (optional but delicious)

  1. Cilantro,
  2. Basil
  3. Jalapeno
  4. Lime

Instructions

  1. Throw all the broth ingredients into a 3 quart pan and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like. I simmered mine while I was preparing the next part of the soup.
  2. Chop your vegetables into bite size pieces.
  3. Throw the veggies in to a 6 quart pot with coconut oil and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. With a strainer over the 6 quart  pot pour the broth into the vegetables. Your broth should be a little like a concentrate. Add 2 more cups boiling water and the rice noodles. Cook on medium high until the noodles are tender (usually just a minute or two).
  5. Serve with cilantro, basil, jalapeno, and lime wedges.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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.