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

 

 

THANKSGIVING

thanksgiving table

It’s Monday, and for Americans it’s also the week of Thanksgiving.  This is usually the week where we think and talk about food nonstop.  What will we make?  What will we eat?  What will we have for leftovers?  Pie. Casserole.  Marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes.  Stuffing (my FAVORITE).  It’s a bit overwhelming.

Many fitness and diet experts will give you all kinds of rules and tips to navigate the holidays.  And many of those tips and tricks sap all the fun out of everything.  Don’t eat carbs.  Don’t have gravy.  Skip the dinner roll.  Only have one glass of wine.  Calories in/calories out.

I say, forget that.  Remember that quote I posted last week about how it’s what you eat on a regular basis that counts?  

It's fine to socializeoccasionally with special food and drink.-2

It’s true.  Do you nourish your body with the good stuff more often than not?  Do you give yourself ample opportunities to eat fruits and veggies and drink lots of water?  Even if you answered no, are you really going to start doing this on THANKSGIVING?

Stressing yourself out and feeling anxious and guilty about what you eat messes with your stress hormones, which release into your body, flooding it with chemicals that will inhibit your digestion.  The stress hormone Cortisol is to blame for excess belly fat in many people.  So do me a favor (heck, do yourself the favor) and relax.  If you’re going to eat something decadent, do it with joy and happiness.  Don’t sneak it.  Don’t chew it up quickly and swallow the evidence before anyone has a chance to “catch” you.  Savor it. Enjoy every bite.  AND MOST OF ALL, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. When it’s had enough, respect that and put the fork down. And for goodness sake, never, ever comment on how much someone else is eating, what their body looks like, or how it’s now time to “work off all those calories”. 

And the next day, enjoy a green smoothie as part of my Green Smoothie Challenge, a bit of exercise, some fresh air, and the company of the people around you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

“Eating kale won’t get you into heaven.”

EATING KALE

I read this quote in a fabulous oped titled “The 5 Pillars of Positive Nutrition”   by Laura Cirullo, RD yesterday.  I loved it so much I made a meme. I adored the entire piece, because it encapsulates all the things I believe about nutrition, i.e.: food is not “clean” or “dirty”.  No food is off limits.  It’s not good to be afraid of your food.  I highly recommend the read for some common sense, non-fear mongering approach to healthier eating.

I think many people might think that because I’m studying to be a holistic nutritionist that I prescribe to the “clean” food movement.  That I only eat organic.  That I won’t eat something if it doesn’t have a superior nutritional profile.  The truth of the matter is that I love eating mini Snickers bars once in a while.  I adore a lemon drop martini when I’m out.  And if a Pillsbury crescent roll is served to me at a friend’s house for dinner, there is a 0% chance that I will pass it up.

80-90% of the time I eat the foods that make me feel my healthiest and that I know will continue to help my body fight disease and chronic illness.  The other 10-20% is reserved for foods that probably won’t.  There’s a saying: “Everything you eat is either fighting disease or contributing to it.”  I think there’s truth in that.  But I also wholeheartedly believe that when you eat enough of the “better” stuff, you counteract the food that eaten in large amounts could be unhealthy. Life for me would be so boring without martinis and bites of candy and a baked good once in a while.

So, yes, I eat kale (loads of it).  But I certainly don’t believe it makes me a better person than people who don’t!  What do you think?

GREEN SMOOTHIE CHALLENGE!

GREEN SMOOTHIE copy

This week I’m launching a Green Smoothie Challenge on my Cultivate Wellness Facebook page.  At the end of October I challenged myself to drink a green smoothie each day (either for breakfast or as my afternoon snack) as a way to ensure that I’m getting lots of servings of fruits and veggies and other good things in my diet each day.  It’s been 12 days and I am feeling so great! My thought was: Why wait until after the holidays to focus on my health and well-being? Sure, it’s the season for cookies, chocolate and cocktails, but there’s one small thing we can do each day to keep our healthy eating momentum: DRINK GREEN SMOOTHIES! Drinking a green smoothie each day helps our bodies get all the vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients it needs to stay on the right track during the holidays. Even if we do nothing else differently with our diets, this is one healthy measure we can take each and every day that will reinforce good habits all year long. Skin becomes clearer, our digestive systems will be happy, and our cells will love the nourishment. I’ll post encouragement, recipes and photos along the way.

JOIN ME, WON’T YOU? INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1032326443467026/

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin muffins

It’s chilly and rainy here.  The leaves have covered the sidewalks and I had to wear gloves and a hat to take the dog for her walk.  It is fully fall here, there’s no denying that.  There is even talk of some snow fall tonight.

I had plans to go golfing today but with the arrival of rain it became a different kind of day.  My daughter is turning 11 on Halloween, so I decided to cozy up and make her some muffins.  She loves pumpkin muffins so I set out to make a healthy version that she could have for breakfast this week.

I found a recipe that looked great on Food.com and knew that with a few tweaks of my own I could reduce the sugar and add some whole grains without compromising the taste or texture.  The original recipe also called for nuts, but since my kiddo lives for chocolate and doesn’t love nuts in her baked goods, I subbed semi-sweet chocolate chips for the nuts. If you love both I think you could absolutely add nuts and chocolate (which would be my vote but since it’s her birthday and her muffins, I did what all mothers do from time to time and sacrificed.  It was a big one but I’ll recover).

What I love about pumpkin muffins, especially when you use whole wheat flour, is that you are getting good amounts of fiber and phytonutrients.  Carotenoids from the pumpkin are what give it that beautiful orange color (just like in carrots).   Epidemiological studies suggest that diets high in carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  Dietary carotenoids are also thought to provide health benefits in decreasing the risk of disease, particularly certain cancers and eye diseaseCarotenoids are best absorbed with some fat, which is why I kept the oil in this recipe instead of replacing it with apple sauce which I sometimes opt to do when baking.

The end result is a delicious, moist and flavorful pumpkin muffin that I am sure you’ll love as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups  pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1⁄2cup  canola oil (preferably organic)
  • 1⁄2cup  water
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups  white whole wheat flour (I love King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1⁄4teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (dark, semi-sweet or milk)

METHOD:

  1. Heat oven to 375*F.
  2. Grease and flour muffin tins, or use paper liners.
  3. In large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients except chocolate chips, blend until just combined (do not overmix)
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until muffins test done when a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan or on a wire rack.
  8. Eat them all in one sitting Savor them over the course of a couple of weeks, keeping them in the freezer to pull out as desired.

Makes 24.

NEW RECIPE! Spicy Chipotle Salmon

Salmon finished chipotle

We all know how good salmon is for us, especially when it’s wild caught off of the coast of Alaska. It’s full of essential Omega 3 fatty acids (the good kind of fat that keeps your brain and heart working well).  It’s high in protein, too.  I make salmon at least once a week and I love trying new recipes to keep it fresh and interesting.

I decided to try this recipe posted by my friend Pronto Pup. He is a much funnier (and profane) blogger than I ever hope to be but he’s also a great cook.  It’s fun to read his cooking blog for new ideas.  He’s got kids around the same age as my daughter, so I get good insights into what recipes might be “child friendly”. My daughter is a pretty adventurous eater but anything spicy still can be hard for her to eat. He observed that this salmon recipe was a bit too spicy for his kiddos so I toned down the crushed red pepper in my version and my daughter really enjoyed it.  I think she prefers my lemon pepper garlic version but she still ate a good amount of this.

The original version is posted here (thanks Little Spice Jar!).

I did one thing slightly different than directed, which was to brush about half of the chipotle sauce onto the salmon before cooking and then reduce the sauce even further on the stovetop to use as a glaze after the salmon was finished.  The glaze was too strong for my daughter but my husband and I really liked it.  It had a full lime/honey/chipotle flavor and added some extra moisture to the fillet.

Butter sauce for salmon
Here’s the sauce as I’m incorporating the butter. It’s really rich and yummy.

The preparation for the salmon is so easy, and cooking it was pretty foolproof.

Salmon waiting to be baked
The salmon prepared with chipotle butter sauce and lime zest. Just wrap it up in the foil and bake in the oven. I love that I didn’t have to clean a roasting dish afterwards.

I usually make a roasted veggie on the side but since I was making dessert (check back for the recipe and review on that!) I felt pressed for time and did corn on the cob and frozen green beans instead.

I will absolutely make this dish again and can’t wait to try tweaking the flavors a bit next time just for the fun of it.

Nutrition Niblet of the Week

peas and carrots in a flower

This week in my Nutrition Consultant program, we are learning about the digestive system.  There are a lot of buzzwords: villi, microvilli, brush border, bolus, chyme.  The digestive system isn’t sexy and fun, to be sure.  But it’s very important to know how your digestive system works, because about 80% of your immune system resides in your gut.  If your digestion is off or you aren’t feeding it the things it needs, then your immune system could be less than optimal.

Since I want to keep these tidbits easy and quick to digest (see what I did there?), I’m going to focus on one thing today.  If there’s only one thing you change in how/what you eat, it should be S L O W I N G   D O W N.  Digestion starts before you even put a piece of food in your mouth — it actually starts in the brain.  When you anticipate eating, your brain starts sending signals to your body to prepare.  That’s why when you see something delicious, your mouth waters.  It’s amazing what your body is capable of doing when you get out of its way.

When you eat too quickly and under stressful circumstances, you don’t allow for proper digestion. If you, however, chew your food slowly and thoughtfully, then the saliva is able to break down the food the way it’s supposed to before it starts its journey through the rest of your digestive system.

Chew your food slowly, and chew a bunch of times before you swallow.  Eat in peace.  Don’t gulp.  Lose your stress for a few minutes so your body isn’t in fight or flight mode.  When you do this, you allow your digestive system to work the way it was meant to, digesting the food in the proper way at each stop (mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, etc).  When you eat in a hurry or under stress, or in the car or standing up or in front of the t.v. (we’ve all done it) then the food isn’t being digested properly, the nutrients aren’t being absorbed appropriately, and you can end up with chronic indigestion, food sensitivities, and a sub optimal immune system.

More information to come, but for today, just try to slow down when you eat. Be mindful and give a little thanks.  And let me know how it works for you!

I’VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR A LIEBSTER AWARD!

Liebster Award

Being a blogger for such a short time, I was thrilled to be nominated today for a Liebster Award! What a fun surprise.

Thank you Jan Baillargeon of Loved And Nourished for the nomination! I really have enjoyed reading your blog and seeing all the adorable photos of your baby girl, the wonderful meals you prepare, and the love you have for your family.

A Liebster Award is an online award originally given by more established bloggers to bloggers with less than 200 followers who post worthy, quality material. If the blogger accepts the award, s/he then nominates a few more favorite bloggers waiting for their awesome stuff to be “found” and thus the chain continues. Click here for a  description of the Liebster Award and what goes into accepting it, nominating others, and keeping the awards flowing to others.

The Rules
1. Thank the Nominator.

2. Display the award.

3. Nominate 10 more bloggers with 10 new questions.

4. Answer the questions provided by the Nominator.

5. Notify the Nominees.

10 Questions Answered

What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

I really am passionate about helping other people realize that they don’t have to be perfect in order to be well.  There’s room for treats and indulgences and mistakes.  I am passionate about meeting each person exactly where they are. And I want to get people excited about health and wellness.

What’s your favorite blog post you ever wrote? (link it here)

It definitely is the Vegetables Schmegetables post.  It really illustrates how even with the best of intentions, kids of nutrition and wellness enthusiasts still give up their veggies sometimes. I am far from perfect.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Be your authentic self.

What’s your favorite smell?

Pine trees in winter.  Followed closely by a fire in the fireplace.

What is your best advice for a new blogger?

Don’t try to be anyone else.  Write with your authentic voice.  Pick topics you are enthusiastic about.  There will always be someone who shares your enthusiasm.

What are three things still left on your bucket list?

Skydiving, attending a Presidential swearing-in, running a 10k

What is your favorite meal of the day?

Dinner.  It’s when my family is gathered together after a long day.

If you could give your 18 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

BREAK UP WITH HIM!

What are three words your best friend would use to describe you?

Funny, resourceful, kind.

What is your favorite memory of this past year?

Showing my daughter I could overcome my fear of waterskiing.

10 Questions for Nominees

  1. What is the inspiration behind your blog?
  2. What’s your favorite thing to eat/favorite recipe?
  3. What would you tell your high school self?
  4. What do you hope to achieve with your blog?
  5. Where is your favorite place to visit?
  6. If you could do one thing over in your life, what would it be?
  7. What is your favorite sport/activity to participate in?
  8. What movie could you watch over and over again?
  9. What are the 3 things you hope to accomplish this year?
  10. What wisdom can you share with brand new bloggers?

Here are the blogs I’ve chosen as Nominees (in alphabetical order)

Bananas Over Nutrition

Cooking Without Limits

Food Is Life

Get Your ‘Tox Off

Homemade Health

Legumes and Layettes

Mod Nutrition

Organic Baby Roots

Swift Fit Kitchen

Zag Bites

Quinoa and Veggie Salad

Quinoa salad

Ok, so last night we were lucky enough to be invited to a private event at the Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis which included the coolest theater experience we’ve ever had (a fully immersive and interactive performance of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) followed by a traditional lobster boil by Smack Shack.  It was amazing.

I woke up this morning feeling like I wanted to eat a bit lighter, and I had some leftover cooked quinoa and tofu from the Veggie Dumplings we made yesterday so I decided I’d make a salad for my family to have for lunch today.  I wanted something light and easy.  I had some fresh green onions and cucumbers from the farmer’s market in the fridge and peas in the freezer.  I always have garlic powder, salt and pepper, so those were no-brainers.  Below is the recipe I created, which is totally vegan.  It’s easy to sub out the tofu for another protein of your choice: beans, feta cheese, even shredded chicken.  

Quinoa super up close

QUINOA AND VEGGIE SALAD

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (I like adding a bit of vegetable Better Than Bouillon to mine when cooking)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled firm tofu
  • 2 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • course sea salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Mix everything together (think you can manage?)

This would be an easy salad to double the recipe and keep it around for lunches and side dishes all week.

EAT WELL!