Monday, April 21, 2014

The Best Granola Ever

No joke, I have made variations of this granola almost every week for the past month or two. To me, it's the perfect snack to have with fruit or yogurt. And it's also good when I wake up in the middle of the night starving, which happens more often lately than I care to admit (baby has been growing lots in the past few weeks!). I think one of my favorite things about making granola at home is the most incredible aroma that fills my kitchen as it bakes. The toasty coconutty smell just permeates everything and puts me in such a happy mood! I should also mention that every single person who's tasted this granola (trust me, there have been a lot of people...I like to share food) has said that this is the best granola they've ever tasted. It's not too sweet and very easy to adapt. And of course, it only made with the healthiest ingredients. I honestly can't think of any more reasons why you shouldn't make this right. this. minute.

Click Here for The Best Granola Recipe


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Barley, Asparagus, and Broccoli Salad

I really can't believe that April is halfway over. Like really. One minute, time seems to be crawling so slowly and the next minute, I'm wanting it all to slow down. I know it's been quiet here on the blog lately, but trust me when I say that my life has been anything but quiet. And just because I haven't posted many new recipes here doesn't mean I haven't been cooking! It just means that I'm a tired and hungry 8 months pregnant lady who doesn't feel like pulling out a camera whenever she sits down to eat something. So when I made this satisfying salad the other night, I realized that it was too good not to share and got myself to take a picture for your viewing (and tasting) pleasure.

Barley, Asparagus, and Broccoli Salad

1 cup uncooked pearled barley
10-12 asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
1/2 a medium head of broccoli (or broccolini), cut into small trees
small handful of cilantro, chopped
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
3 scallions (white and light green parts), finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grainy mustard (or dijon)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium avocado, sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

1. In a saucepan, bring pearled barley plus 5 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked. Add more water to the pot if needs it throughout the cooking process. Drain and rinse the barley. Put the barley in a large bowl

2. While the barley cooks, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil in a separate pot. Add the chopped asparagus and broccoli, stir,  and cook for 15 seconds. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

3. To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic, scallions, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour over the barley and toss well. Add the asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, and almonds. Toss again. Taste to see if it needs more salt.

4. When you're ready to serve the salad, top with crumbled feta cheese and avocado and toss gently.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coconut Split Pea Soup


I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm not counting down the days until it feels like spring. I'm longing for back-to-back days of sunshine and blue skies. After all, I've got some pretty cute vintage sun dresses that I'm dying to wear over my growing baby bump, so warmer weather needs to come soon! I'm also longing for fresh spring produce. Lots of young greens, peas, asparagus, and...strawberries. All of it. I really can't wait. And with each day that passes, I know it's getting closer.
Since the beginning of my pregnancy, I've made a conscious effort to eat lots of quality sources of protein and healthy fat, as these are both critical for a healthy developing baby. I came across this soup recipe full of protein-rich split peas and creamy coconut milk and I thought it sounded like a perfect fit for what I needed at the time. Let me just say, this soup did not disappoint. The bright green color alone is incredible; a color that's a perfect reminder of the new growth and life of spring.

Coconut Split Pea Soup (adapted from this recipe on 101 Cookbooks)

2 tablespoons ghee or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups green split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 tsp Indian curry powder

1 can (15oz) organic full fat coconut milk) sea salt
, to taste
cilantro, for garnish

For the Curry-Spiced Ghee Garnish:
3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
1 tablespoon curry powder

1. Combine the 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and one teaspoon curry powder in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and split peas and simmer, covered, until the peas are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.



2. In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to smell fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauté until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the split peas are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. If it's too thick, add some more water.

3. Stir in half of the spiced ghee, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of a salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spiced ghee and sprinkled with cilantro.
Serves 4 to 6




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Friday, February 21, 2014

Miso Vegetable Noodle Soup

I know I'm not alone when I say that I'm looking forward to spring. It seems as if much of the country has been dealing with one of the worst winters ever and everyone is just counting down the days until warmth, sunshine, and flowers. I'm lucky enough to live in Seattle where winter weather isn't quite that extreme, but man am I missing those long days of sunshine! The other day, I was out walking in my neighborhood and saw lots of crocuses and daffodils blooming and I became so giddy with excitement. This year, everything seems so much more exciting for me as the days draw closer to when I meet my baby girl. It's magical.
I want to leave you all with this immune system-boosting soup that's really perfect for this time of year when you may be dealing with cold weather sniffles or just the end of winter blues. It's loaded with vegetables and literally takes ten minutes to make. You'll feel good after eating it. Almost as good as you'll feel finding that first blooming daffodil of spring.

Click Here for the Recipe for Miso Vegetable Noodle Soup


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Friday, February 7, 2014

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Tacos

It's funny how I go through phases with my food. Some weeks, all I want is Indian food full of flavor and spice. I'm talking coconut curries and lentil soups. Other weeks, I find myself on a Mediterranean kick, where all I want is olives, cheese, bread, and vegetables braised in garlic and olive oil.  Oh, and I can't forget about those weeks where Asian cuisine is what I'm craving. I'm talking all over Asia here with pad Thai, vegetable sushi, pho, and bibimbap. And of course, there's my strong desire for Mexican food. Especially anything with lots and lots of guacamole on it. I eat that stuff by the bowlful. Yup, I'm all over the globe these days when it comes to food. And I'm loving it.
Of course, knowing me, you can be sure that I'm making most of these dishes at home, using super healthy and organic ingredients. I'm not eating your typical run-of-the-mill greasy pad Thai, nor am I stopping at the taco joint on the corner eating a chalupa. Nope, all of my meals are full of colorful vegetables, bursting with nutrients for me and by growing baby girl in my belly. They're the "healthified" versions of the traditional dishes. But they're not lacking in flavor, that's for sure. And these tacos are a testament to that. You're not gonna find GMO corn in these babies, nor are you going to feel guilty after downing five of them in one sitting. At least I didn't!

Click Here for Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Tacos featured on Life by DailyBurn


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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eating for Hormonal Balance: Ravioli with Broccoli and Olives

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today, I'm excited to announce that this little blog post is a part of a fun themed series started by my lovely blogger friend Sophie from Wholehearted Eats. The recipe series is all about foods that promote hormonal health, and of course when she asked me to participate, I couldn't say no! At the bottom of this post, there's a list of all of the other bloggers from around the world participating, so be sure to check out their sites throughout the week, as well.
As many of you know, I'm currently experiencing what is typically seen as the greatest hormonal roller coaster known to women...and that is pregnancy. But you don't have to be pregnant to suffer from the effects of wild hormones. And sadly, a lot of women suffer on a regular basis from hormonal imbalances. Well, here's the thing. What you put into your body affects your hormones. Plain and simple. The right foods can actually help re-balance your hormones to be at levels that they're supposed to be at! This issue is obviously a complicated one (the body's hormonal system, after all, is one of the most complex systems to understand) that depends on each individual woman's body. Treating the issue through food, however, is the single most important first step in rebalancing our precious hormones. Below are two of some excellent types of foods to incorporate into the diet (plus a few to avoid) if you're experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances.


Healthy Fats
The body needs fat. Hormones themselves are actually made of fat, so it is vital that you're getting plenty of high quality fats in the diet to support healthy hormones. Women in particular seem to be afraid of consuming too much fat, but depriving the body of fat is what I feel to be the number one reason for hormonal imbalances. Healthy fats come from both plants and animals. Though strict vegans and vegetarians may disagree, there are just some nutrients that cannot be obtained from plants alone.
Excellent Fats: avocados, olives and olive oil, virgin unrefined coconut oil, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, pasture raised eggs (including the yolks), grass-fed ghee and grass-fed (preferably raw) butter, raw nuts of all types (soak the nuts overnight for optimal nutrient absorption)
Fats to Avoid: trans fats, any refined oils (including soy, vegetable, and canola oil)

Cruciferous Vegetables
Many women suffer from estrogen dominance. I myself have suffered from it, as I had severe estrogen induced cystic acne in my early twenties. There are SO many other symptoms of estrogen dominance. I won't get into the symptoms here (you can easily look them up), but to put it simply, too many estrogen-mimicking chemicals (also called xenoestrogens) in the body can wreak havoc on our entire systems. And we're exposed to xenoestrogens constantly from sources like polluted air and water, plastics, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, birth control pills, and household chemicals. They're unavoidable. So we need ways to naturally detox these xenoestrogens out of our bodies so they don't throw off our good and healthy estrogen. Enter cruciferous vegetables. All cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and mustard greens contain powerful xenoestrogen detoxifying compounds. They actually promote and support the liver in getting rid of these harmful chemicals. Loading up on cruciferous vegetables is one of the safest and easiest ways to ensure your body is combating these chemicals.

There are various other foods that offer therapeutic effects for those who suffer with hormonal imbalances...these are just two that I chose to highlight here. I highly suggest you check out some of these other bloggers who have written more on the topic this week. Their hormone-balancing recipes (and blogs) are all absolutely gorgeous. Remember, in all things, let food be thy medicine!


This recipe is loaded with broccoli to combat those xenoestrogens. It makes up the bulk of the dish. It also has plenty of olives, which remember, are full of healthy fats! I used some organic raviolis made locally here in Seattle, so if you use raviolis, make you're they're of the best quality (or make them yourself!).
Ravioli with Broccoli and Olives (serves 2-3)
1 pound of organic ravioli
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets (also, include the stems...they contain all the good nutrients, too!)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted oil cured-olives or kalamata olives

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer. Add the raviolis and stir. During the last 30 seconds of cooking, add the cut-up broccoli. Only cook the broccoli for 30 seconds. You want to retain nutrients, color, and texture. Drain well and return to the pot.

2. While ravioli and broccoli cooks, in a small frying pan, gently saute the garlic in olive oil over super low heat, just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Set aside.

3. Add the garlicky olive oil to the ravioli and broccoli. Add the olives. Toss gently to combine. Season with crushed red pepper flakes and more olive oil, if desired.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thoughts...and Carrot Soup


(Warning: this post is just a few of my innermost thoughts. It has very little to do with carrot soup. But the soup is good. And if you'd rather not read my ramblings, you can just skip ahead to the recipe below. I don't mind one bit. Okay. We're all good now.)

It's amazing where my mind wanders to when I'm left alone. Thoughts range from what I'm making for dinner tonight (seriously...I'm drawing a blank) to whether or not I should cloth diaper my unborn child kicking around in my belly. I find myself thinking about food often, since that's what my job revolves around, but I've also been thinking about bigger things. Far bigger than what to put in my kale salad or what to do with that bowl of black beans I made yesterday. I think a lot about what the world will look like when my baby grows up and how I can prepare this little one to be the best person that they can possibly be.
I suppose all of this thinking has been good for me during these gloomy days of winter in the Pacific Northwest. It helps keep my mind off the grayness and fog, which can become quite suffocating if I really let it get to me. But really, I've never felt so much hope in my life. Hope that with each day that passes, I'm getting closer and closer to sunshine, cherry blossoms, and  meeting my baby. Of course, I'm terrified at the same time. But I've never done anything this amazing in my life. Creating a life. Nurturing a life. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I can only hope to be the best mother that I can possibly be.

Carrot Soup (serves 4-6)
2 tbs ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil
2 onions, diced
1/2 tsp each of whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, and whole mustard seeds
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds of carrots, or 2 bunches, cut into 1"chunks
4-5 cups of water or stock
pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
sea salt, to taste
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (depending on the sweetness of your carrots)
Juice of one small lime
plain yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche for garnish
fresh cilantro, for garnish


1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions in the ghee with the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds until the onions soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, chopped carrots, and water or stock to the pot.

2. Raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it's very smooth and creamy. Add more water or stock if it's too thick.


3. Add the cayenne pepper, sea salt, maple syrup or honey, and lime juice. Taste and add more salt and cayenne, if necessary. Salting this soup enough is key to provide the right balance of flavors, so don't be afraid to salt!


4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche and cilantro.




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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five-Minute Miso Soup


 
Let me just put it out there. I hardly ever get sick. The last time I had a really bad cold or fever was maybe my freshman year of college. Chalk it up to good nutrition, I guess, but I've been pretty blessed over the years. So you can imagine my surprise when I came down with a really nasty sickness about a week ago. Granted, I had just come off of a whirlwind trip across the country to the New York to visit family for Christmas, which means germy airplane air, lack of control of my meals, and not the best sleep. Coupled with what apparently is a weakened immune system during pregnancy (I read somewhere that a pregnant mama's immune system is lower than average), it became pretty clear that my body couldn't take it all.

 
So of course, I've been doing everything that I possibly can to fight this bug naturally. Ginger tea, leafy greens, boat loads of citrus fruits, lots of water, raw honey, garlic...you name it. I've been resting as much as I can (when I'm not busy coughing up a lung...) and slowly but surely, it seems to be helping. I'm not out of the woods yet, but getting closer.

Miso soup is perfect when you're sick. It's incredibly healing and it only takes minutes to make. I kept mine super simple, but made sure to include a few superfoods. I added four types of seaweeds, including wakame, arame, dulse, and nori. And I grated lots of ginger into the broth for an extra immune system booster. And, I added a bit of fresh cilantro, even though it's not traditionally seen in miso soup. So whether you're sick or you're just in the mood for a quick little miso soup, I've got you covered with this five-minute recipe.

Miso Soup (serves 1)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons (or more to taste) miso of your choice
small knob of fresh ginger, freshly grated
2 tablespoons seaweed of your choice
1 scallion, thinly sliced
a few cilantro leaves

1. Add water to a tea pot. Bring to almost a full boil and then turn off the heat. While the water is heating, add the miso paste, grated ginger, seaweed, chopped scallions, and cilantro leaves to a bowl.

2. Pour a few tablespoons of the hot water over the content of the bowl and mix until the miso becomes a thin paste without clumps. Add the rest of the water to the bowl, stir, and enjoy.


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Friday, January 3, 2014

Cauliflower and Kale Pasta

I've been really into simple meals lately. Meals that come together really quickly, but still cover all my nutritional bases. My favorites are those meals that dirty very few dishes...one-pot meals, I like to call them. Maybe I'm subconsciously preparing myself for when I have a baby on my hip and I need to make quick, easy, healthy meals? I don't know. So I've decided that for the next few weeks, I'm going to showcase some simple, one-pot meals that can be made in a jiffy, whether you have a baby on your hip or not.

This was a dish that I whipped up before the holidays that somehow I forgot to share with you. It uses cauliflower, which is one of my favorite wintertime vegetables, and one that I believe is seriously underrated. I mean, the possibilities are endless with this cruciferous superfood!

I know it's a short post today. Please forgive me, because I feel like I'm still recovering from a whirlwind holiday season and currently have a pretty nasty cold, but that's a different story for a different day. What matters is that I'm here and ready to start what I know will be my most exciting year on this earth so far. And I can't wait for you to join me along the way.

Click Here for Recipe: Cauliflower and Kale Pasta


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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Persimmon Pomegranate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl


A few weeks ago, I was taking a walk around a neighborhood in Seattle. It was one of those gorgeous (rare) sunny winter days, cold and crisp. The Olympic mountain range was glowing in all its snow-capped glory in the distance and I was trying to soak in as much of the sun on my cold face as I could. It was then when I stumbled across an enormous persimmon tree. It had lost almost all of its leaves and just had these beautiful orange fruits hanging on to its branches. I was shocked that such a fruit could grow in this climate during this time of year. Amazing. And so, I was inspired to create this little breakfast bowl.
 
Persimmons are one of those special fruits that pop up in certain markets this time of year, especially Asian markets. Someone once described them to me as "sugar bombs" because they are so darn sweet. Hey, if the sweetness is coming from a natural fruit and not a candy bar, I'm all in for a sugar bomb! I combined this sweet fruit with some tart pomegranate seeds in this creamy quinoa breakfast bowl. It was a nice change from my typical bowl of oatmeal in the morning. And man, was it pretty!

Recipe for the Persimmon-Pomegranate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl: Click Here


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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Baby!


Yes, it's true! I've got a little baby growing in my belly! I've wanted to share this news for what seems like forever and finally, the time is right. I'm a little over three months along and I'm beyond thrilled. This bit of news explains my intermittent posting and cryptic writing over the past few weeks months. Let's just say that I wasn't in the kitchen cooking all that much. Most foods didn't appeal to me. And honestly, I was so exhausted that the thought of putting together a meal made me want to take a nap. Creating and nourishing a baby is hard work, I tell you! But I know that it's all worth it. I can't wait to meet this little being. To snuggle it and love it and introduce it to all the beauty in the world. What a journey this year has been. And the best is yet to come. 

I love you, dear baby, with all my heart.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash


It's that time of year again, folks! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? I sure can't. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because it combines two of my favorite things: gratitude and food. This year is a little different for me, since all of my family will be celebrating on the east coast and I'm out here on the west coast. But I'm going to do my best to make it a fabulous holiday. I have a lot to be thankful for, that's for sure!
This recipe comes at a perfect time because it's perfect to serve at your Thanksgiving table. It especially pleases the vegetarians out there, as no turkeys were harmed in the making of this dish. But the best part is that these stuffed little squashes are so flavorful, the meat-eaters will be asking for some, too! Enjoy and have a joyful Thanksgiving, filled with gratitude...and really great food.

This recipe is a part of my contribution to Life by DailyBurn. To see the full recipe, click here.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding the Light

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's winter in Seattle. These cold gray skies, blustery wind, and the constant drizzle has really been taking its toll on me. I feel like my body has no choice but to shift gears (rather quickly and against its will) into this new season. I've always had a hard time adjusting to the seasonal shift, but man, this year is different. In good ways (very good ways, actually) and not so good.
Life recently has been a mix of constant states of exhaustion, periods of complete and utter excitement, and times of unrelenting worry. Oh and did I mention there has been very little sunshine? This crazy beautiful time in my life is precisely why I haven't been here on the blog much. And I sincerely hope that changes very soon. Finding inspiration in the kitchen again, even on these cloudy days, will help.
I happened to have a day filled with light recently. Yesterday, actually. You see, yesterday I spent the day learning all about food photography and styling from the incredible Aran Goyoaga, writer of the award winning blog, Cannelle et Vanille (you absolutely must look at her work...it's beyond beautiful). She taught me how to capture the light in my photos. Even if it's cloudy and gray outside, there will always be enough light to make a beautiful photo. Besides being an inspiring educational photography class, it was also deeper than that. It taught me to appreciate the beauty in the grayness. Because really, the gray makes you appreciate the light that much more.



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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Chickpea Tomato Sauce


 Vegetables never cease to amaze me. Between their incredible health benefits, gorgeous colors, and scrumptious flavors, they're probably my favorite food group (besides croissants). The winter squash is no exception. I mean, just take a stroll through your local farmers market this time of year and you'll see the many different shapes, colors, and sizes of squash. It's incredible. 
So let me talk about spaghetti squash for a minute. This squash is seriously magical. It's a golden yellow color and it's an easy-to-handle shape (think symmetrical and oval, not lumpy and bumpy like Mr. Turban). It bakes relatively quickly and leaves you with gorgeous nutrient-dense noodles that can be topped with any sauce you desire. Seriously, I probably cook up a spaghetti squash at least once a week this time of year. It's my fave.
This spaghetti squash deliciousness is topped with a rich and flavorful chickpea tomato sauce, full of herbs and garlic and satisfying creamy chickpeas. If you've ever felt guilty (or straight-up bloated) after eating a bowl of traditional spaghetti, then I suggest you give this a try. I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised!

This recipe is a part of my contribution to Life by DailyBurn. To see the full recipe, head on over to their site!

Link to Recipe Here

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wild Rice Salad with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate

There's been a lot on my mind lately. It's funny because as I've started writing this, I've typed out at least four different introductions to this post, only to hit the backspace key over and over. There's so much swirling around in this brain of mine, yet only so much can be put into words here. I'm trying to make sense of everything, trying to feel how I truly feel, and really listen. It's amazing how quickly things can change. That's all I can say.
This salad is one that was thought up at the last minute, and it utilizes everything I had in my kitchen at the time. I always like to keep a batch of some sort of cooked grain on hand for throwing into a salad or tossing into a soup. And this time, I had a wild rice blend cooked and ready to be used. I threw in some roasted butternut squash along with sweet caramelized onions and pomegranate. Then, I tossed it with some salty feta, slivered kale, and toasted walnuts. Sweet, salty, chewy, and crunchy...it's what makes up the perfect textures for a salad. Plus, how could you say no to those fall colors?

Wild Rice Salad with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate 

3 cups cooked wild rice blend (or any other grain of your choice)
1 butternut squash
1 large onion
3-4 large leaves of kale
1 pomegranate
1 cup of walnuts
feta or goat cheese (optional)

Dressing:
6 Tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook your grain of choice. While the grains are cooking, peel butternut squash and remove the seeds. Cut into cubes. Put the butternut cubes on a large sheet pan. Thinly slice the onion. Put onion slices on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the onion begins to brown and the squash is tender.

2. While the grains cook and the squash bakes, thinly slice the kale. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Make the dressing by combining the dressing ingredients above in a small bowl and wisk well. Crumble up the feta or goat cheese.

3. Remove squash from the oven and let cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Assemble the salad by first combining the grains with the dressing in a large bowl. Then add the butternut squash and onions,  kale, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts. Toss very gently until just combined. Finish with a sprinkling of cheese.


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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's Nourishing You?: Hannah of Health Yeah


I am beyond thrilled to share this exciting series on Nourish The Roots. It's called "What's Nourishing You?" and it is where I interview some of my favorite bloggers from around the world about food, what it means to them, and what they can't live without in their kitchen. It is truly an honor to feature these women here and I hope you enjoy their thoughts as much as I do.
Today, I'm talking with the lovely and talented Hannah, writer and food photographer of her fabulous blog called Health Yeah. She lives in New Zealand (so awesome, right?!) and I love how she ditches diet labels and identifies herself as a whole-foods lover. She passionately believes in embracing natural, unadultered plant-based foods. She has some incredible recipes on her site, including some amazingly decadent desserts that are totally natural, unrefined, and full of health-promoting ingredients. If her pictures don't convince you, I don't know what will! Check out her interview below (along with some of her mouth-watering food photographs) and be sure to head on over to her beautiful website, as well.
1. What is your food philosophy?
I believe in eating real, nourishing, living food! I've got heaps of thoughts on food - it's so much more than fuel. Next to composting I believe switching to a wholefoods plant based diet is the easiest and most powerful thing we can do as individuals to revolutionize our health and reduce our environmental impact. 
Choosing to eat well is also an act of self-respect and an effective anti-depressant: it nourishes our self esteem as well as our bodies. 
I also believe there is something magic about eating living food - the vibrant colours and flavours of fresh produce, harvested straight from the ground, connects us to nature and teaches us to respect and revere the earth's abundance in a way that processed, profit driven food cannot. 
Finally, you don't have to spend a fortune! Superfoods are nice to have, but fruits and veggies are more important.  
2. What are your non-negotiables when it comes to you diet?
Leafy greens = human jet fuel
Know where your food comes from. 
Make it taste good!

3. What are your 5 favorite ingredients in the kitchen?
Cacao
Leafy Greens
Herbs
Grapefruit and lemons
Summer fruits

4. If you could prepare a meal for anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you make?
All the people at Auckland City Mission or all the patients at Auckland Hospital. I would love to put on a huge spread of tasty, healthy, fresh food with lots of leftovers!

  
Thank you so much, Hannah, for sharing your insight on food with Nourish The Roots. Keep up your incredible work! And readers, be sure to check out Health Yeah for recipes for what you see pictured. The raw vegan Blackberry Coconut Cheesecake, the Quinoa and Buckwheat Granola, and the raw vegan Vanilla Chocolate Mousse Cake are just some of the incredible recipes on Hannah's site!
And you can also follow Hannah on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

 

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Apple Cinnamon Muffins: Vegan and Gluten-Free


It seems like everyone out there has some type of food allergy or sensitivity. Or they're avoiding some type of ingredient. Or they're trying some new diet. I think it's great that more and more people are becoming aware about the food they put in their bodies instead of blindly consuming anything and everything. I'm all about eating quality, whole foods that are healthy and delicious, while avoiding foods that don't help my body in any way. I also think that food allergies are becoming more and more common largely due to the effects of an industrialized food system and compromised digestive systems. It's a sad truth that the number of people who suffer with food related issues is rising.

Over the years, I've tried different ways of eating. I've cut out certain ingredients and then reintroduced them. I've listened to my body and how it felt when I did so. And to be honest, sometimes it's hard to listen to your body when you're inundated with information about how your body should feel. It takes time to really be in tuned with it. I want to be able to support people on their food journey of discovery through this blog. I want to provide recipes that everyone can eat, because I understand what it's like to feel like you can't eat anything. And while my recipes aren't completely allergen-free, (it's impossible to write a food blog without using any allergens...sorry) I try my best to include recipes that almost everyone can enjoy.

These sweet potato apple cinnamon muffins can be enjoyed by many . They're vegan, gluten-free, and refined-sugar free. The base of the muffins is rolled oats and sweet potato, with the added bonus of apples, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. They're as delicious and moist as they are healthy...I know this because my husband practically ate the entire batch in one sitting. So head on over to Life by DailyBurn for this muffin recipe and enjoy.

Click Here for Recipe 




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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Best Unsweetened Homemade Apple Sauce

This is my first autumn in Seattle and it's definitely a bit different than what I'm used to from the east coast. For starters, apple picking isn't really a thing here. People look at you funny when you tell them about apple picking. To me, being an upstate New York kinda girl, apple picking equals fall. No questions asked. Everyone piles in the car and you drive out to the apple orchards and pick thirty pounds of apples. Then, you go home and spend the rest of the week whipping up apple pies, apple sauce, apple crisp, apple muffins, apple everything. All the while drinking hot mulled apple cider. It's just what we upstate New Yorkers do.
I searched for you-pick apple orchards near Seattle and the only one I found was about an hour and a half outside of the city. We were willing to take the nice long scenic drive out to this incredible organic apple orchard filled with gorgeous heirloom apple trees. It was nestled at the foot of the northern Cascade mountains and it was breathtaking. The best part (aside from tasting all of the apples), was that we practically had the entire orchard to ourselves. Remember, apple picking really isn't a "thing" here, so yeah.
I returned home with lots of different types of apples; different colors, sizes, textures, and flavors. Aside from just eating them straight up and putting them in my breakfast oatmeal, one of the first things I made was applesauce. To me, there's few things more comforting than a warm bowl of homemade applesauce. And the smell of the apples simmering away on the stove just permeates every corner of my apartment. It's heavenly.
I tend to like my applesauce slightly chunky and I don't mind leaving the apple skins on. This makes the cooking time shorter and really, who enjoys peeling apples? I sure don't. And there are nutrients and fiber in the skins! If you like smooth applesauce, then feel free to peel the skins, cook the apples for longer, or even puree the whole bit with an immersion blender. You can't really go wrong.
In this particular batch, I chose to keep the apples naked, meaning that I didn't add any sweetener to them. I wanted the flavors of the individual varieties (I used six different types) of apples to have a chance to shine and not be overpowered by sweetness. If you're using more tart apples, then perhaps you'd like to add a bit of sweetener. Pure maple syrup would be my preference.
 Homemade Applesauce (makes 4 servings)

7 medium sized organic apples, any variety
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract, or whole one vanilla bean

1. Core and slice apples. Set aside. In a deep skillet or pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla (of using a whole vanilla bean, split it open and add it to the pot). Stir to coat the apples.

2. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the apples cook evenly and so that they don't stick to the pan. Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.

3. Use a handheld potato masher to break up any larger pieces of apples. Alternatively, you can blend the sauce to make it completely smooth. Taste and add more cinnamon or nutmeg if you'd like. If it needs more sweetness, feel free to add some maple syrup as well. Enjoy!


Happy Autumn, everyone!

Love and Health to You, 
Renee

 
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Macrobiotic Bowl

The first time I heard about the macrobiotic diet, I was watching some stupid show on E! that was all about Madonna. I remember them saying how she follows a strict macrobiotic diet that was supposedly one of the reasons why she's essentially ageless (of course, another reason has to do with plastic surgery, but we all know that). I was probably in early high school and at that time, my fascination with food and nutrition was just beginning. The show prompted me to research the macrobiotic diet and I remember marveling about how healthy it seemed. I knew that I would never strictly follow the macrobiotic lifestyle (it seemed a bit restrictive), but adopting certain aspects of the diet seemed like a healthy thing to do. Macrobiotics resurfaced for me a few more times since that Madonna episode while I was taking an alternative healing class in college and while reading one of my favorite nutrition books, Healing with Whole Foods. Since the macrobiotic way of life is primarily rooted in Asian culutre, namely Japanese, that may explain my deep love for Japanese food culture.
I'm not going to try to explain all of the ins and outs of the macrobiotic way of life here. Firstly, because I'm no expert on the subject, and secondly, because if I did, this blog post would be way too long. In a nutshell, the diet embraces whole foods prepared in traditional ways. Whole grains (primarily brown rice), vegetables (including sea vegetables), beans, fermented soy, and soup (such as miso) form the bulk of the diet. Fish, nuts, seeds, and fruit also make up the diet, but in smaller amounts. The diet is great for times of healing or cleansing, but strictly following the macrobiotic diet for long periods of time may lead to nutritional deficiencies if not carefully planned. I was in the mood for a simple meal the other night, one that also happened to showcase my gorgeous fresh black beans. This macrobiotic-inspired bowl came to mind and within minutes, I had a satisfying dinner.

Macrobiotic Bowl (serves 2)

2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked black beans
1 large clove of garlic
1 small piece (about 1 inch) fresh ginger
2 carrots
small bunch of kale
avocado
kimchi (see my recipe for amazing kimchi here...but this kimchi pictured is from here) or pickled ginger
black sesame seeds for garnish
splash of brown rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce
one sheet of nori seaweed, cut or torn into small strips

1. Distribute cooked rice and beans between two bowls. Set aside.

2. Chop the garlic. Peel and chop the fresh ginger. Set aside. Julienne the carrots (or shred/grate them). De-stem the kale and chop into thin ribbons. Set aside.

3. In a large frying pan, add some sesame oil (or any oil of your choice), chopped garlic, and ginger. On medium low heat, warm the garlic and ginger until it just begins to be fragrant. Add the carrots and kale and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously just until the kale begins to wilt. Remove from the heat.

4. Add a splash of brown rice vinegar, more salt, and a touch of toasted sesame oil, or even some tamari, to the greens. Season to taste. Arrange the greens in the bowls with the rice and beans. Top with kimchi or pickled ginger, nori, avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy with Japanese green tea, if you have some.



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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Root Vegetable Lentil Stew with Kale


I can't believe today is the first day of fall. It seems like just yesterday I was watching fireworks on the fourth of July.  I guess I need to accept the fact that it's just going to get colder from here on out, so I might as well make the best of it. Fall calls for soup, of course! I make lentil soup all the time. Yep, even in the summer. I probably have fifty different versions of lentil soup using various types of lentils and vegetables and you know what? I love them all. Lentils are so satisfying and nourishing.
Fall is also the time to eat root vegetables. These sweet, nutrient-dense vegetables are what our bodies crave during the cooler weather. Root vegetables absorb and store insane amounts of minerals and other nutrients through the soil in which they grow (all the more important to buy organic). They're high in vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and complex carbohydrates. In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, they're considered "warming" foods that nourish the body. Paired with warming spices, like the ginger and cardamom in this stew, root vegetables are incredibly comforting on chilly days.
As I currently write this post, it's pouring outside. It's cold and cloudy and pretty miserable, really. But I've got a batch of root vegetables roasting in the oven smelling delicious. And I've got some gorgeous winter squash sitting on my countertop just waiting to be made into some delicious meals. A variation of this soup will be one of them, for sure.
The recipe for this root vegetable and lentil stew is the part of my contribution (see my first contribution here) to the fitness and healthy lifestyle website called Life by DailyBurn. Check out this recipe, plus many more over on their site. You certainly won't be disappointed.

Recipe: Root Vegetable Red Lentil Stew with Kale



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