Friday, May 29, 2009

Greens, They're What's for Dinner

It's spring and the salad greens are luscious and sweet. Our garden is filled with as many varieties of greens as we could fit. Spicy and mild salad mixes, arugula, spinach, romaine lettuce, butterhead lettuce, bok choy, kale, collards, cilantro, and more are growing out our back door. We have a hundred or so volunteer sunflowers that I have not thinned out yet. Some of them will make great shade later on in the summer for the tender, cool weather-loving greens.

Today was a warm spring day, in the 70's, but our house felt more like 90 degrees. A simple green salad from the garden was about all I was in the mood for.

Flowering herbs can make the salad more colorful and beautiful, not to mention the varied flavors offered. Tonight I added sage flowers, thyme flowers, chive flowers, and bolted arugula and kale flowers. A simple dressing utilizing the fresh oregano in my herb garden made this salad quite addicting.

To make your salad a meal, try topping your greens with roasted walnuts, sprouts, grated raw beets and carrots, green onions, toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, avocado, cooked salmon, garbanzo beans......the list could go on. Now, the dressing recipe, please?

Simple, Everyday Salad Dressing

I place all of the ingredients into a wide mouth mason jar and use my immersion blender to make this dressing, but you could also use a regular blender or Vita-Mix. I used 2 tablespoons of oregano here but fresh basil would work too, if fact, you could increase the basil to 1/4 cup. Don't be tempted to add more of the pungent herbs such as oregano or thyme. Otherwise the flavors in the dressing may get too strong and/or slightly bitter. This dressing will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed jar for about 2 weeks.

3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
the juice of one small lemon
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh herbs
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if necessary. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator.

Interested in more of our salad and dressing recipes? Click here.

For those of you who do Facebook, I just created a page for Whole Life Nutrition. Click here to become a fan! Yippee! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nourishing the New Mom

I have a special place in my heart for this phase of life. This is where it all begins, in utero, and then during those first precious days and weeks spent nursing while gazing into your little miracle.

Making milk is truly amazing. I remember the first sensations of my milk coming in with my firstborn, and then the gulping, eyes rolling back..."punch drunk on mommy's milk" Tom would say.

I didn't know I had it so easy. Lily latched on immediately without a problem, my milk came in so soon, she never cried (until I ate broccoli soup that is).

I was well nourished. My mom was there to care for me and cook for me. My breakfasts arrived on a tray with a flower. Sweet rice cereal, toast with almond butter, sliced fresh fruit in a bowl. Lunches of homemade chicken noodle soup chocked full of kale and dinners of wild salmon, beets, yams, greens, and quinoa were on the menu. These are nourishing, breast milk-promoting foods.

New moms need to be taken care of. They need to feel safe and secure so they can do the most important thing in the world, care for their new baby.

My mom was there for all of my births and then stayed for weeks after my babies arrived, cooking and cleaning everyday. When our twins were born, she added "playing with the girls" to the list.

Rest, water, and good food are the three most important factors to get that milk flowing. There are certain foods that can help promote the flow of breast milk (though most of the evidence is anecdotal). My knowledge comes from my own experience and from the stories of other moms.

There are also foods that can cause problems with the new breastfeeding baby and should be avoided for the first 3 months or so. Below is my list of super breastfeeding foods for the new mom and foods to avoid.

Yesterday we got a call from a friend who just gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl. She had an emergency c-section and needed some help getting her breast milk to come in. It was my time to pay it forward. My friends came to my need for the first 4 months after my twins were born and brought meal after meal after meal (even with a number of food restrictions).

So the girls and I cooked up a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup, red lentil soup, brown rice, roasted yams, sesame halibut, a baby green salad with grated raw beets, ginger salad dressing, hummus, and cut raw veggies. Grace and I delivered the food just in time for dinner and were lucky enough to meet the sleepy new baby.

Good foods to nourish a post partum mom:
Plenty of purified water
Wild salmon
Organic chicken and vegetable soup with plenty of fresh herbs
Greens!! Fresh salad greens, dark leafy greens, and green smoothies
Sweet vegetables (yams, squash, carrots, beets)
Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
Raw almond butter
Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, oats, sweet brown rice, millet, teff)
Organic berries
Sea vegetables
Carminative herbs and spices (cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint, fennel seeds)
Raspberry leaf tea (raspberry leaf along with fennel help to contract the uterus)
Nettle tea enriches and increases milk production
Healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, fresh flax or fish oil)

Foods to avoid during the post partum period (may cause upset in newborn baby):
Dairy products
Citrus fruit, especially juices
Heavily spiced foods
Raw garlic and onions
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
Wheat / Gluten
Refined soy products
Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
Prenatal vitamins (the iron may be irritating to baby)

I have included a recipe here that would also be nourishing for a new mom. It is also a great, simple recipe to make on busy days (and because I bet many of you reading this blog are not new moms!). If you have meals or foods that worked for you during this phase of life, please share!

Curried Lentil and Rice Casserole

I initially created this recipe to utilize the fresh turmeric I had on hand, but it also can be made with dried. If you work during the week, then try making this recipe on the weekend to have available for the week. The long baking time may not make this suitable for a quick weeknight meal. I use a stone casserole dish for this recipe. Portions can also be frozen into small containers for future use. Enjoy!

a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh turmeric, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups french lentils
1 cup long grain brown rice
5 cups water
1 can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sauté onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add ginger, turmeric, spices, and salt. Continue to sauté for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Place onion-spice mixture into a large casserole dish. Add carrots, lentils, rice, water, and coconut milk. Mix together well. Cover and bake for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, turn oven temp up to 425 degrees F. Remove cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes to let excess liquid cook off. Stir and serve!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gluten-Free, Vegan Rhubarb Muffins!

Rhubarb is not difficult to come by during this season. In fact, you probably have neighbors or friends begging you to haul some away.

Rhubarb can be great in crisps, sauces, or compotes, but the tart, tangy flavor rhubarb offers to gluten-free muffins is unequivocal. These little beauties are delicious hot out of the oven spread with strawberry jam.

I tested this recipe a variety of ways but soon fell back on my old standard combo of ingredients. One of my favorite flours to bake with is sprouted sorghum flour, but you can use brown rice flour which is what I used for the photos here. I didn't have any rhubarb left when I made them with all sorghum flour, which actually worked out because my 4-year old requested that I make some "plain." You'll see below one of my 16-month old twins holding the plain sorghum version which was also made with apple juice instead of orange juice.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Simple Baked Fish and Local Veggies

The phrase "Be a Yocal, Buy Local" still rings in my head from my Bozeman, Montana days. Yes I used to live there and loved it! The co-op there had stickers with the above phrase that I had plastered on my Nalgene water bottle. (No, I do not use a Nalgene bottle anymore....stainless steel for us now!).

Greens, greens glorious greens are the local veggies that are available at our Farmer's Market right now. Last Saturday we bought loads of fresh kale, arugula, mixed baby greens, sorrel, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, green onions, and baby garlic.

I thought I would offer you a few ideas on how to incorporate these highly nutritious, local foods into your meals.

Pictured above is a simple baked wild king salmon fillet topped with sautéed baby garlic. I placed the fillet over a bed of lightly sautéed, tender kale.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Simply making sure you have a good lunch can be a challenge sometimes, but what about your child? I know mornings can be frenzied and kids may go to school with less than optimal lunches. Or you may be the type that packs a super healthy lunch everyday only to find most of it uneaten in the lunchbox at the end of the day.

There is a solution.

Have your child pack his or her lunch in the morning! This way they pack what they want within the realm of healthy options and you have more time for other things in the morning.

We haven't always done this, in fact we just started having Lily pack her own lunch 2 weeks ago (she is 7 years old now). So far she has done it every morning and done a great job! She chooses the food she would like for that day, does any cutting or chopping necessary, and packs it all into her lunch basket.

The inspiration for this came from my sister-in-law. Her girls, 8 years old and 10 years old, have been packing their own lunches for the last few years. On a visit to their house I noticed this lovely chart they had posted on their pantry door. The chart had categories with food options written in each one.

So I decided to make my own chart and add little pictures next to each food to help younger children who may not be reading yet. The chart is no artistic masterpiece, I just used clip art, though in the future I may update it and use my own photographs.

Download Healthy School Lunch Chart Here:

The basics of the chart give 5 categories: Fruit, Vegetable, Whole Grain, Protein, and Treat. The child can choose at least one food from each category to create a healthy, balanced lunch.

I didn't mention anything about "gluten-free" on the chart so it can be used by all. For example, under the Whole Grain category I list "Whole Grain Muffin," which could mean a Teff Muffin or even a grain-free muffin such as my Banana Almond Butter Muffins for those of you who are paleo/grain-free, but this could be entirely different for someone else. Although dairy products are not actually necessary for proper human development, I have added "Yogurt" under the Protein category. This could mean cow, goat, or coconut milk yogurt. If you add other dairy products to your child's diet then you could just hand write in, say milk or cheese, under the protein category.

This morning Lily made a nori roll with sticky brown rice and carrots, put some heated Lentil Noodle Soup into her Stainless Steel Thermos, sliced some fruit, and placed a handful of raw almonds and dried mango into a lunch bag. She loves the chart and is very inspired to make her own lunch. It is also certainly a self-esteem builder to know you are capable!

If you would like your child to start packing his or her own lunch then print off the chart and show it to your child and ask what he thinks about it. You may want to try some practice runs with it on weekend days. Don't expect it to go super smooth the first week. It didn't for us. We had to remind Lily to pack her lunch instead of sit at the counter and color! One day I decided not to say a thing to see what would happen. I figured it couldn't hurt her to go to school for one day without a lunch, certainly she would never forget if that happened. Well, she got to the car with no lunch packed, it was 8:15am, and then she comes rushing back into the kitchen, grabs what she could in 5 seconds, and then rushes back to the car. She came home very hungry that day, but has since remembered to pack her lunch before she colors and has breakfast!

Also, don't underestimate what a child as young as 3 years old can do. They can pretty much pack an entire lunch, though they may need some training if they are not accustomed to working in the kitchen. I remember when Lily was barely that age, Grace had just been born, and I was completely consumed with caring for a newborn. She would go into the kitchen when she was hungry and make herself almond butter and jam sandwiches, and sliced bananas!

Subscribe to this blog via Email
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring Slaw

What a gorgeous day here in Bellingham! I think it hit 75 degrees, at least on our thermometer. It was a wonderful way to celebrate May Day. Our 4-year old daughter, Gracie, danced around the May Pole at her preschool celebration and made flower garlands. I made 5 dozen Almond Thumbprint Cookies for the celebration, nearly half of which Tom burned because I left him in charge, its all good though, there was still plenty to go around.

Today I wanted to share an easy veggie recipe with you that can last the whole week. It is a recipe that I made in our cooking class last Tuesday night entitled "Eat Your Veggies."

Springtime is a time of detoxification, renewal, and cleansing. Cabbage is one of the best foods for this. It contains sulfur compounds that the liver needs to detoxify harmful substances. These sulfur compounds signal genes to produce more enzymes involved in detoxification and encourage the formation of proteins that assist in the manufacturing and preservation of glutathione, the primary antioxidant found in the human body.

Many of you probably have chives growing somewhere in your yard or garden. Note, if you don't, they are one of the easiest plants to grow. I have a small herb garden right out my front door, a perfect place to quickly gather herbs for cooking. The large amount of chives in this recipe adds a certain pungency to the already potent cabbage. The flavor is rather energizing; perfect for this quick, light energy of spring. And perfect for spring picnics in the park with family and friends.

Here is my trick to making this salad last the whole week. Don't follow the recipe!

OK, I will elaborate. Make a triple batch of the dressing and store it in a tightly sealed glass jar in the fridge. Use a large head of purple and green cabbage and as many carrots and chives as you see fit. Chop almonds and store them in a separate jar. Follow the directions below for processing the cabbage and carrots. Store the salad, undressed, in two large bowls or sealed containers in the fridge. When ready to serve, remove what you will use for that meal and drizzle some dressing over it. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve. Note: the salad is best after about 20 minutes of being dressed.

For more veggie and salad recipes you can view the Salad Category or Vegetable Dishes Category.