Should You Drink Celery Juice?

celery

A friend reached out to me recently asking if she should be drinking celery juice. She had read about all of the health benefits and wanted to know if I recommended it and if she should jump on the celery juice bandwagon.

Have you heard about this newest trend? The actress Busy Phillips (whom I love for her honesty on social media about all kinds of issues ranging from parenting to body image and more) posted in January about her commitment to drinking it every day. She said “Apparently it’s supposed to do all of these wonderful things for you and something with Gwyneth Paltrow and I don’t know but I’m on board,” she said, laughing. “So now I’m drinking celery juice. It’s really good.”

Ok, back up a second. Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop has received all kinds of press regarding her health advice, much of which is not supported by science. In fact, there has been such a backlash that she recently committed to hiring a fact checker for all the claims her website makes. This article is an absolute must read for anyone who follows Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice or even is a little interested in her Goop empire. It’s titled, “How  Goop’s haters made Gwyneth Paltrow’s company worth $250 Million”.

This is all to say that even as a holistic nutrition consultant (with a healthy dose of skepticism for any outlandish claims), I wouldn’t necessarily recommend drinking celery juice. Why? First of all, it’s very very bitter. Why punish yourself? Secondly, no one food is a magic bullet. Yes, celery is a very healthy veggie with fiber, folate, vitamin K, and potassium. It’s a powerful antioxidant. But so are a lot of vegetables. What I would recommend is eating celery in its whole form so that you do get the fiber along with it. Put it in a green smoothie so you get some other flavors and nutrients in there. Eat it with some peanut butter for a healthy snack that contains the magic trio of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. And if you really want a green juice, combine it with some other green veggies so you are mixing your nutrients instead of focusing on just one source. I like the Suja Uber Greens Organic juice which has cucumber, celery, grapefruit, green chard, spinach, parsley, mint tea and more. I buy them from Costco for a reasonable price and when I feel like having a green juice I reach for one of those. They have only 5 grams of sugar per bottle, which is important to note because a lot of green juices contain fruit juices and up to 48 grams of sugar per bottle.

My final thoughts on the matter: be wary of outlandish health claims. While drinking celery juice won’t hurt you, I don’t believe there is anything magical about it. If it makes you feel good, have some celery. But if you are suffering trying to choke down a glass of celery juice, give yourself a break and eat it with a healthy dip instead.

You might also like:

It’s All Good?

Vitamin C Smoothie (Great For Your Immune System)

Easy Posole

Is it warm and sunny where you are today?  We have finally been gifted with beautiful spring weather and it makes me so happy.  I’ve got the sudden urge to spring clean the house from top to bottom.  It happens every year about this time.  The trouble is finding time in the day because I just recently started a new consulting gig from home on top of my course load for my Nutrition Consultant degree.  And golf.  It’s practically the only thing I think about in the warm months.  What is your obsession/hobby/thing that brings you joy?  I’d love to hear about it!

This week I made another Gwyneth recipe from her book It’s All Good. Ever since returning home from Arizona I’ve been craving all the flavors I grew up with.  Jalapeños, chiles, hominy, avocado.  Spicy and fresh.  Gwyneth wrote that her chef made this soup for her on a cool summer day when she wanted something warm but still light.  BTW, if you are wondering what hominy is, read this very informative article entitled “What The Hell Is Hominy, Anyway?”.

So this week I picked up the phone to call my personal chef and then realized, whoops! I don’t have one.  Darn.

I used my own two hands to make this soup and was delighted with the flavors.  It is indeed light and fresh, but still comforting.  It’s full of antioxidants because of all the veggies and herbs. Hominy is high in fiber, low in fat, and is a whole grain. And as made, this soup is vegan.

Some changes I would make: 1)At least double the recipe.  It barely made enough for four regular people. 2)Add at least one additional can of hominy to the soup.  It came out lacking a little bit of heft.  My husband pointed out more hominy would make this soup even better. I should also mention that when I told my husband I was making hominy he thought it was a kind of fish.  Bless his Indiana-bred heart.  3) If you have spice-averse children, omit 1/2 the jalapeños and let people add them at the end. 

Otherwise, I would say this soup is fantastic and just the perfect thing for a day when you feel like eating something that is simultaneously warm and light.  If you want to add some shredded chicken or pork I bet that would taste good too.

INGREDIENTS:

6 tomatillos: peel the papery layers off, rinse, and chop them (throw away the papery outside)

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

2 jalapeños, chopped (remove the seeds for less spice)

olive oil

sea salt

4 cups vegetable stock (I love Better Than Bouillon which I find at the grocery and even Costco)

A few sprigs of cilantro

28 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed (I personally would double this amount)

GARNISH:

Ripe avocado, diced

Cilantro

Chopped scallions

Sliced radishes

Lime wedges

Anything else that tickles your taste bud fancy

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 450 F. On a large sheet pan, toss the tomatillos, onions and jalapeños with enough oil to coat.  Add a large pinch of salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and a little browned.

Transfer the veggies and about 1 cup of the stock into a blender to puree until completely smooth.  If using an immersion blender like I did, you’ll need more than 1 cup of liquid so it doesn’t splatter.

Add the vegetable mixture along with the hominy, rest of the stock and cilantro to a large pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Remove the cilantro stems and discard.  Add garnish and enjoy!

posole

 

 

Braised Chicken With Green Olives & Garlic

braised chicken done
Braised Chicken with Olives + Lemon

Oh me oh my.  Gwyneth has gone and done it again.  This time with a braised chicken recipe from her cookbook that I made for dinner last night.  It was supposed to be for the family, but I forgot that my husband had his holiday work party and rather than wait until Sunday when we would all be together at dinner time again, I decided to make it for just me and my girl.  I’m so glad I did.

I keep hoping that Gwyneth will feature a recipe that I can report back and tell you was terrible.  Not because I want to cook bad food, but because little by little she is turning me from a frenemy to a friend.  At least where food is concerned.  I’m uncomfortable with that.  She’s a bazillionaire with a tenuous grasp on reality.  She thinks we all have hot pimentón spice from Spain and are down with the usage of the term “conscious uncoupling”.  I dunno, she just seems a bit untethered.  BUT.  BUT.  Up until now, her recipes are the bomb.  

Last night’s Braised Chicken With Green Olives + Lemon didn’t disappoint.  I was a bit worried about the olives.  I love love love any kind of olive.  The rest of my family not so much.  For this recipe I just kept them whole, but if you have a whole gaggle of olive lovers, I would dice them up.  I followed the recipe almost exactly because it didn’t have any insanely unique ingredients or directions.  Without further ado, I present Braised Chicken With Green Olives + Lemon:

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 chicken, cut up, room temperature (I used about 2 lbs, SKIN ON OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN)

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper

2 T extra virgin olive oil

3 shallots, sliced into thin rings

1.5 cups chicken stock (I always use Better Than Bouillon)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half (next time I will, like, triple this)

10 large green olives, pitted

Leaves from one sprig of thyme (I just threw the whole sprig in there intact)

Juice of one lemon

METHOD:

Salt and pepper the chicken

Heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast iron pot (like a Dutch oven)

Cook the chicken until deeply browned, about 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and do the same thing. They should look like this:

braised chicken 1
Browned Chicken 

Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until they soften, about another 4 minutes.

Add a splash of the chicken broth and scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add remaining chicken stock and scatter the garlic cloves, olives and thyme over the chicken.

Pour the lemon juice over everything and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down as low as it will go and cover the pot, cooking for about an hour until the chicken is very tender. (If you have less time, be assured that I only cooked the chicken for about 35-40 minutes and it was well cooked and juicy and delicious).

Serve over rice, potatoes, or alongside a piece of bread.  I also served with roasted root vegetables.

This is the plated version which I hesitate to even show you because I put so little effort into it.  To be honest I was so excited to eat.

As always, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  I always appreciate a share as well!

braised chicken plated

NEW RECIPE! Chicken & White Bean Chili

chicken chili

I continued to test the recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook It’s All Good this week, landing on the Chicken & White Bean Chili recipe because it seemed simple, approachable, and really tasty.  I make a lot of soups and chilis once the weather starts to cool down.  I usually double the recipe and put some in the freezer (lay flat in a freezer baggie) for a night when I’m too busy or lazy to cook.

Whenever I make a soup or chili recipe, I tend to double the vegetables called for.  It’s such an easy way to get more vitamins, antioxidants and fiber into yours and your family’s tummies.  

The alterations I made to this recipe were:

  1. Add a can of kidney beans to the can of white beans called for.
  2. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts (I find them less dry and more flavorful).
  3. Use a teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon (the vegetable flavor). The recipe calls for the normal chili spices plus salt and pepper.  I found when I tasted the chili it was a bit bland.  Better Than Bouillon is a favorite of mine.  I usually by the organic version and love that I don’t have to keep cans of chicken stock around in my pantry.  It stays good forever and, unlike a half-used container of chicken stock, won’t make you feel guilty every time you see it in the fridge.
  4. Add some of the chicken juice from cooking into the pot with the simmering beans and vegetables. It adds nutrients from the chicken, some depth to the mouth feel (I really hate that term, can we come up with something else collectively?  Comment below with any suggestions!) and adds some yummy chicken flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 lbs of whatever chicken parts you want (I used thighs, and doubled the amount so I would have leftover roasted chicken to use later in the week)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt (I prefer sea salt but any will do)

Black pepper

2 small yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)

1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem discarded, diced (about 1 cup)

3 garlic cloves, minced (add more if you love garlic)

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika (the recipe calls for smoked paprika, but either variety is fine)

1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes with their juice

1 14 oz can cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained (I added a second can of kidney beans)

Whatever toppings sound good to you (sour cream, cheese, cilantro, diced onion, etc)

METHOD:

  1. Rub chicken with about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees, until just cooked through.
  2. When meat is cooked and cooled a bit, shred the meet with two forks
  3. Measure the spices and combine in a small bowl to add during the next step.
chili spices
Chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin
  1. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot on medium and sauté the onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika and a large pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are softened, about 10 minutes.
chili vegetables
Garlic, red bell pepper and onion waiting for to be sautéed.
  1. Add tomatoes and another pinch of salt and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Break up tomatoes with a spoon.
  2. Add beans and chicken to the pot (use bouillon now if you wish).  Add about 1/3 cup water or more depending on how thick you want your soup.
  3. Simmer another 15 or 20 minutes before tasting to determine the spices or salt and pepper you want to add.
  4. Serve with toppings

My husband said the chili was “good, but not like oh my God I absolutely love this chili!”.  He thought it needed a bit more chili powder and cumin to make it a true chili flavor and tasted more like a stew than a chili.  My 10 year old daughter told me she likes my ground beef chili more.  That being said, I really thought it was a solid recipe that I would go back to again if I wanted a variation from my ground beef chili that I usually make.

Enjoy!  I can’t wait to hear what you think!

NEW RECIPE and review! Healthy Fruit Crisp

Fruit crisp Gwyneth

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’m cooking my way through Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest book It’s All Good. It’s full of super healthy recipes that look amazing.  I’m approaching my project as a busy mom on a budget who loves to cook.  I sort of feel like Gwyneth doesn’t understand the “on a budget” part of life, so my goal is to determine how approachable her recipes truly are.

Two days ago, I had my next Gwyneth Paltrow recipe lined up to test. It’s her “Flourless Anything Crumble” which consists of 4 cups of any type of fruit, some maple syrup, olive oil, lemon juice, and cinnamon (all things that are affordable and easy to procure). It also called for almond meal and quinoa flakes for the topping rather than the standard oats and flour. I set off for the grocery store and that’s when the wheels came off of this plan. The almond meal flour was $12.00 and the quinoa flakes were $10. There was a time when I would have guiltily spent $22 on ingredients that would have languished in my cupboard long after using them *one time*. Today, however, I decided that Gwyneth Paltrow could take a seat. I decided to still make the crumble because it sounds good and I had the other ingredients. However, I amended the recipe to use oats and flour because a $22 homemade fruit crumble does not figure into my plans or budget. I can imagine the typical household in this country probably feels the same way.

I thought the resulting recipe with my changes was quite good, although much less sweet than a typical crumble.  I used a mixture of frozen peaches and blueberries.  I would highly recommend setting your expectations a little bit low for this and approach it as you would when you eat a piece of fresh fruit with maybe a little added *extra*.  It was indeed quite healthy, tasted yummy, and I even had it the next morning for breakfast.  My 10 year old ate her whole serving with gusto and my husband had two servings and then asked if I could make it sweeter next time.  This isn’t necessarily a dish you would make as a dessert for a special occasion, but perhaps a healthy dessert alternative for a weeknight.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from the original featured in It’s All Good.

Fruit Crumble

Ingredients:

4 cups fruit of your choice (apples, peaches, berries, etc)

4 tablespoons real maple syrup (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour or gluten free flour of your choice

1 cup oats (old fashioned or rolled)

pinch of salt (I use sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (or dairy free butter like Earth Balance), cut up into small pieces

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the fruit with 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) of the maple syrup and lemon juice.  Spread out into an 8×8 baking dish.  Mix the flour, salt, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl.  Stir in remaining maple syrup and the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Spread the topping on top of the fruit.  Scatter the butter pieces on the top.  Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve with homemade whipped cream or ice cream for an extra treat.  Or, heat up leftovers in the morning and eat for breakfast with yogurt.

NEW RECIPE! Grilled Salmon with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

I continued making my way through the It’s All Good cookbook this evening with a grilled salmon recipe.  I bought salmon at the farmer’s market  a couple of weeks ago from a man who catches it himself from the waters off of Alaska and packages it right on his boat.  Then it’s flash frozen.  He told me that when I’m cooking it, it should smell like the ocean and not fishy.  Well, he was right.  It smelled fresh and tasted even more delicious.  It was definitely a quality piece of fish.  I served it with roasted Brussels sprouts and quartered potatoes.

salmon grilling
Love the color of fresh salmon

The recipe was so simple even a tween could make it.  I think I’ll be teaching my almost 11 year old this one.

Salmon (the wild-caught kind from the Atlantic ocean has the highest concentration of Omega 3’s) is so healthy for you.  Omega 3 fatty acids are wonderful for heart and brain health.  They also promote  healthy joints and skin, and reduce the risk of heart disease.  According to the American Heart Association, adults should have two servings of omega 3-rich foods per week.

GRILLED SALMON WITH GRILLED LEMON VINAIGRETTE (adapted from the It’s All Good cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Four 6-oz salmon fillets or one large fillet of equitable size
  • 2 T olive oil for grilling, plus 1/2 cup for the dressing
  • Sea salt
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives (I like the Lighthouse brand of dried chives in the off-season)
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder

METHOD:

  • Heat a grill pan over high heat.  Add the fish, skin side down and drizzle with the 2T of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.
  • Cook until firm, about 4 minutes on each size.  After you flip the first time, add some fresh black pepper and more salt and garlic powder.
  • At the same time, grill the lemons, cut side down.  Watch them and remove when they are softened and the flesh has darkened.
  • When the salmon is done, transfer to a platter and let rest.
  • Squeeze the grilled lemons into a bowl that already contains the 1/2 c olive oil and chopped herbs.
  • Serve salmon with the dressing on the side
lemon grilled
I’ve never grilled lemons before but I love the sweetness they take on.
roasted veggies
It’s hard to go wrong with simple roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
Salmon plated
The finished meal.

I think we will have to make the granola next — it’s back-to-school and we are needing some quick and healthy breakfast options.

Until next time!

Japanese Meatballs — Review and Recipe

meatballs and sauce

As you might already know, I’ve committed to cooking my way through Gwyneth Paltrow’s newest cookbook It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. This, by the way, is a huge statement.  These recipes will make me LOOK GOOD?  AND FEEL GREAT!? I feel like I should take before and after photos or something.

We last made Vegetable Potstickers that were a huge hit.  We ate those up very quickly.  To summarize the experience: they weren’t super difficult to make (although they weren’t easy either) but were very messy.  I was looking forward to making the Japanese Meatballs because they looked much easier and less messy to make.  Plus we like meatballs.

With some help from my blog readers, I decided that I am allowed to make substitutions to recipes as I see fit.  My good friend Becky pointed out that I was actually doing my readers a service by suggesting substitutions and tweaks that other busy people might also appreciate.  Take, for instance, the Chinese Five Spice Powder called for in the dipping sauce.  I really dislike the taste of this particular spice blend.  My sister in law told me that she hadn’t ever heard of it and could I please recommend something different.  I’m thinking that a lot of other people probably don’t have it on hand.  So, I made the Hoisin Sauce without the spice powder thinking that I could taste it and add something back if I thought it needed it.  Turns out the Hoisin Sauce tasted phenomenal without it.  So, there you go. Another substitution came in the form of using turkey rather than chicken, because the grocer was out of ground chicken.

Here’s the recipe, adapted:

MEATBALLS

1 lb ground turkey or chicken (or beef or lamb or any combo you prefer)

1/2 teaspoon salt (I like sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon pepper (Gwyn would say freshly ground, I say use whatever)

1 garlic clove or more if you love garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder or 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium if possible)

2 teaspoons real maple syrup

meatball spices
Look at these beautiful spices and ingredients.

METHOD:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands and form into small balls.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes but keep an eye on them.

Hoisin Sauce (recipe below)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup miso paste

1/4 cup real maple syrup

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

METHOD:

Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.  Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.  Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly for a couple of minutes.  Let cool and serve.

A couple of notes about the meatballs: there are no bread crumbs in there.  Gwyneth is gluten-free (of course she is.  I mean, obviously) So when you are shaping them they have a very soft, sticky, almost doughy consistency.  See?

uncooked meatballs
Uncooked meatballs

Not to worry, they bake up very nicely.  The recipe states you can bake, pan fry, grill or however-you-want these meatballs but gave no directions for any cooking, so I looked it up and decided I’d bake mine at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Check every few minutes to make sure they aren’t being overcooked. 

The result was that my family really enjoyed them, the sauce was my favorite part (visually, it isn’t beautiful — My daughter and I thought it looked like apple sauce, and my husband assumed it was a peanut sauce). I would definitely make these again and double or triple the recipe for freezing.

Stay tuned for the next recipe!