We love pie and realize it's a truly a treat to be presented at holidays, dinner parties or a special Sunday supper. Pie isn't an every day dish, but we admire it, and long for the occasion when it can present itself. So in honor of Pi Day, coming up on March 14, why not make pie? Pies and Tarts the Whole Foods Way will give you a lovely heap of ideas. We'll take any excuse to eat pie. WE LOVE PIE.
I love Thai flavors and soups with coconut milk in them. There is something richly satisfying about the layers of heat, spices, the touch of lime juice and whatever else makes its appearance. Adding red lentils for an alternative protein source makes Spiced Red Lentil Coconut Soup with Chili and Greens a great vegan option for a light but nourishing supper. Cook it down a bit longer and you can ladle it over a mound of rice or other steamed grain for a heartier meal.
We're having a heatwave in Southern California. It's 80 degrees and I'm thinking about SPRING and fresh green tonic juices which are designed for cleansing, detoxifying and boosting the blood and our energetic pathways. They aid in ridding our blood of sludge and boost the beauty of our skin by giving it a beautiful glow over time. Two new recipes, one for Green Beauty Tonic and the other for Green Chlorophyll Blood Tonic bring intense plant essences and nutrients to our bodies as the weather warms up. Keep in mind that these juices are cooling and anti-inflammatory by nature, so take it easy if you are in an environment that is still getting lots of snow.
Some nights I just don't feel like cooking, but am loath to order take-out. Having an arsenal of quick, easy nutritious meals that can be prepared quickly is a great antidote to the lure of delivery. This one-pot recipe for Pasta with Broccoli, Greens and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto can be boosted by the addition of beans or sliced cooked chicken, and takes less than 15 minutes to make. Add a nice tossed salad and you have a plant-rich dinner that costs little in time AND money.
This day of "sinfully rich" eating before Lent doesn't have to be totally over the top. You can have a great feast, leave room for dessert, and spare yourself a bellyache. Start with Artichoke Spread and Oysters Rockefeller. Follow with Crab Salad over a nice bed of greens, Wallace's Louisiana Style Vegan Red Beans, or Garlic Sauteed Shrimp and a pot of rice.
A remarkable number of my clients have commented that they are having trouble getting -or staying- focused these days, and they are asking for help to re-balance their energy. The general state of tension about 2014, global politics, and pervasive sense of uncertainty surrounding so many of us, all contribute to a dispersing of vital energy. The lack of focus and centering is impacting food choices as well.
While there may be other physical causes to an unfocused, low energy condition, there are a few simple recommendations I make across the board.
Increase whole grains: millet, quinoa, amaranth and whole grain rice are all slowly absorbed carbohydrates. They help release norepinephrine and serotonin, our body's natural feel good chemicals, and give sustained energy.
Hydrate: drinking enough water is crucial to our health. Remember that our bodies are 65-75% water, and even mild dehydration (the kind you might not notice) can cause shakiness, headaches, and blurred thinking.
Green Drinks: either get a fresh green juice at your local juice bar, or take powdered dehydrated greens (found at any health food store). Green drinks help alkalize our blood, and are the equivalent of several servings of veggies. They give a great energy boost and are essential for anyone with a less than optimal diet.
Whole fruit: apples and pears are exceptional sources of vitamins and fiber; berries are full of antioxidants and plant phenols; peaches, and apricots are rich in Vitamin A, lycopene and fiber. Fruit provides a healthy burst of energy without overloading the system with sugars. Please make sure that your fruit is organic.
Almonds: unsalted almonds are rich in magnesium, Vitamin E, healthy fats, and protein. Their health benefits are remarkable, and they are an easy, portable snack. When eaten in moderation, they can actually aid weight loss, are heart healthy, and increase energy production. Try carrying a small baggy with you, sprinkling almonds on your breakfast cereal, or using almond butter instead of peanut butter.
Drink miso soup instead of that afternoon cup of coffee: miso soup can be gotten to go at any Japanese restaurant, Whole Foods sushi bar, and often at other Asian restaurants. It is inexpensive (usually $2.00 for a small bowl), and is an alkalizing, nutritious snack.
Last, but by no means least, increase your intake of fresh vegetables: the plant kingdom offers us a cornucopia of healthy foods to choose from. Focus on eating a rainbow of veggies every day, and you'll be feeling better in no time.
Photo by Jody Hoy
Squash and Root Vegetable Casserole utilizes the best of Eastern spices: cumin, coriander and sesame seeds combine with garlic and (optional) red chilis to create an aromatic and warming cool weather dish. Cumin is excellent for digestion and both fatigue and insomnia; coriander is also excellent for digestion with the additional properties of being beneficial to kidneys and liver. The squash, sweet potato and carrots all provide rich supplies of beta-carotene and are strengthening for spleen-pancreas. These sweet veggies are also helpful for anyone trying to wean away from sugar.
Sometimes I call life these days the 21st century version of the wild, wild west. We are facing uncertain and challenging circumstances on so many levels that many folks are finding themselves in a state of perpetual anxiety. We may not be able to do much about what is happening in the world, but it's a time when taking care of ourselves is crucial.
Remembering to breathe deeply is one of the first things we can do to settle and bring calm into our bodies. Taking long, slow breaths will almost invariably loosen us up. When we don't breathe our bodies contract. When our bodies are contracted we tend to feel fear. If you are angry, sad, in pain, or anxious, breathing will help you feel better. When we breathe deeply our hearts open.
The food we eat can influence our bodies in ways both subtle and obvious. Clean, simple food helps us stay centered, and foods that grow close to, or inside, the earth, are particularly good for maintaining internal balance. Pumpkin, all winter squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery root, beets, carrots and turnips all help bring our energy down into our bodies. Soup in general is a soothing food, and one of my favorite recipes is Grounding Soup. It is a nourishing, comforting blend of ground and root vegetables that's great for calming an overwrought nervous system. Other calming, grounding soups are Roasted Root Vegetable Soup, Creamy Celery Root and Leek Soup, or Squash Soup with Cumin and Corn. Other soups made from ground and root vegetables include Sweet Potato and Kale Soup, Roasted Root Vegetable and Cauliflower Soup, classic Creamy Carrot Soup with Curry Spices, and Butternut Squash and Sage Soup.
Remember to breathe, exercise, and do small things that help you relax. Take a lavender bath, have a cup of chamomile tea, do something for someone less fortunate, put your hands in the earth, and connect with the people you love. This is a time for gathering, not isolation.
As a writer I often spend several hours at a time in front of a computer. Some days my eyes feel battle fatigued, depleted, and in need of love. That can be a challenge if you are facing a deadline.
The other day I was talking to my dear friend and fellow healer Anthony Luciano. Anthony is a an interfaith minister, reiki master and exceptional counselor who lives near North Hampton, MA. He spends a good amount of time working on computers as well, and I asked him what he does for his eyes. He mentioned that when his eyes are particularly tired he increases his consumption of foods rich in beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. He said he finds that it helps the eye fatigue. So I embarked on an experiment, and sure enough, within a couple of days my eyes felt less strained and tired. Last night I made a rich and delicious soup I nicknamed "Eye Bright Stew" in honor of Anthony's gentle contribution to my achy eyes. Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Stew is a nutrient packed, warming and nourishing nod to our tired eyes.
Green is the color that represents the heart center in the chakra system. The word chakra means wheel or vortex in the ancient language Sanskrit, and is used in energy medicine and energy anatomy to identify spinning vortexes that connect our bodies to the energy of the universe. Each chakra sends out great numbers of energy meridians called nadis, and has a unique energetic signature and vibration. Green vegetables, cool green smoothies and green juices all nourish this chakra, and of course are equally good for the physical heart. Chakra Juices and Smoothies will also give you a look at liquid libations for all the colors of the rainbow.