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No Holds Barred: DIY Protein Bar

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No Holds Barred: DIY Protein Bar

FEATURED ON OLD SCHOOL Given my busy training schedule I often find myself with clients (or driving like a maniac) during meal time. Although I really try hard to avoid processed food, my number one slip-up is protein bars.  I've searched high and low for a bar that has it all: made from real foods, low in sugar, high in nutrients, offers anabolic support (for muscle repair and regrowth), and gives me plenty of energy to hit those hills (again!). While I've come close to finding it, there is always something standing in the way of the perfect bar - usually sugar or processed soy. So I decided to hit the kitchen and see what I could come up with.  The final product was so delicious that it's now a regular on my weekly menu.  The bar (and how I eat it) continues to take many forms.  Try it warmed up and served with almond milk, or for a pre or post workout treat.

Note: Once you get used to the concept of making a protein bar, you can easily modify to accommodate your pantry supplies, creativity and specific energy needs. Some of my other favorite combinations have been:

Dried pineapple and crispy quinoa

Cacao and goji berries (best served raw)

Pecans and cranberries

Nut and seeds galore! (pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower, pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)

HOMEMADE POWER BARS

Tools:

  • Food processor
  • Baking dish
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup good quality protein powder (rice, pea, or hemp is the most easily digestible.)
  • ¾ cups chopped walnuts (or almonds, or pecans)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Tbs. poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds (brown or white)
  • 2 Tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbs flax or chia seeds (best with a combination of the two!)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ cup coconut oil (olive oil or safflower oil can be substituted)
  • 5 Medjool dates
  • 5 Dried apricots
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbs. pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 325.

Begin by placing the flax and/or chia seeds in a small bowl with 4 Tbs. water. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine all your dry ingredients: oats, walnuts, poppy and sesame seeds, cinnamon and sea salt.

In a food processor, blend all the wet ingredients: banana, coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, dates, apricots, lemon juice and zest.

By this time, the flax/ chia/ water will have become gelatinous.  This will be used to bind the bars.  Add them to the food processor at the last minute and pulse to combine.

Now add your wet ingredients to the dry. Using a big spoon, mix well.

Place parchment paper along the bottom of a baking pan.  Add the ingredients, evenly distribute and press down your bars.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Let the bars cool then slice them into squares about the size of a deck of cards.

Enjoy them easily for a quick breakfast on their own, warmed and served with almond milk over the top, or as a healthy pre-workout snack. They will store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

The Skinny: Why go to the trouble of making your own protein bars? Because anything you make in your own kitchen, will give you control over important things like oil, fat and sugar content.  Many of the bars on the market these days contain high sugar (immunosuppressant & blood sugar destabilizing), processed soy (harmful to the thyroid), whey protein (hard for most to digest), and preservatives. Plus, these bars are a great breakfast-to-go , which will help steer you clear of sweet rolls and sugary cereals.

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Turmeric Slow Cooked Oats

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Turmeric Slow Cooked Oats

There's no better way to fight the cold weather than to start your day off with a warm bowl of oatmeal! Try this seasonal version with persimmons, pumpkin seeds and anti-inflammatory turmeric. TURMERIC SLOW COOKED OATS

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water (or a mix of water and milk)
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • Pinch of salt

Directions: Pour the water into a saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then stir in the oats and the salt and stir.

Return the water to a rolling boil (this should only take a few seconds, then reduce heat to low.

Let the oats simmer for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until the oats are very tender and the oatmeal is as creamy as you like it (longer cooking will make thicker oatmeal). Once cooked, stir in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Remember your oats are a vessel for superfoods! Limit your bowl of oats to 1-1.5 cups and then boost the dish with lots of goodness like: ground flax or chia seeds, hemp hearts, nuts, seeds, seasonal fruit.

** Protein boost! Add 1 egg directly into the oats in the last 5 minutes of cooking. This will add 6 grams of protein to your breakfast and give it a custard like texture. **

Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1 week: The oats are ready to eat immediately. You can also let the oats cool and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. The oats will thicken in the fridge; stir a little milk or water into them when reheating to loosen.

The Skinny: In a world of Paleo & Atkin lovers, oatmeal has gotten a bad rap. I blame this on the "over-sugerfication" of our breakfast cereals. At it's heart, cereals are hearty whole grain that offers fiber, protein and vitamins B & iron. To reclaim your oatmeal you need to think outside the box. Breakfast cereals can be made with any whole grain (think quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, etc.), and should be seen as a vessel for superfoods (not sugar). Load your oatmeal with as many superfoods as you can: Think flax or chia seeds; hemp hearts; raw nuts and seeds; anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric or ginger; eggs for protein; coconut or MCT oil for good fats; etc., etc, etc...

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Pear Spiced Protein Muffins

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Pear Spiced Protein Muffins

I usually drag my feet/ never get around to adding the recipes that you all ask for.But 'tis the season for sharing (and for baking!) So if we treat, make it a wholesome treat!

To me the perfect muffin has the following components: 1) Packed with secret super-foods 2) Minimal and natural sugar 3) High in protein 4) Contains fresh fruit 5) An interesting texture

I put this little combination together while doing the unspeakable: mixing and matching baking recipes. And guess what? It was a major win! It's super flavorful, has unexpected crunch and enough protein that you can actually eat it for breakfast without feeling guilty. Not to mention it filled my house with an incredible holiday scent.

Please be brave to substitute ingredients within their types (but not their amounts.) That means if I suggest amaranth (and you say "what the heck is amaranth?"), but have another similar grain like millet or rye flakes, then go for it! If I suggest pumpkin seeds (because they are packed with Vitamin A and Zinc for immunity), but you'd rather have a seasonal hazelnut, be my guest!

Being brave in our cooking allows us to take ownership with what we do, and learn to fall in love with healthy food. My ultimate goal for you this winter is to remove the struggle from your relationship with health and replace it instead with enjoyment. Hense, healthy holiday muffins.

Enjoy!

Pear Spiced Protein Muffins

Ingredients 3/4 cup dried amaranth or millet or rye flakes 1 cup gluten-free flour (I use Wholesome Chow High Protein Baking/ Pancake mix because of its high protein content + it's gluten-free. But I'd also suggest the Thomas Keller GF flour mix) 1/2 cup additional gluten-free flour (coconut flour, spelt, rye) If you are not GF, feel free to add whole-wheat pastry flour 2 tsp cream of tartar (optional) 3/4 tsp baking soda 2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp ground cardamom 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated preferred) 3/4 tsp kosher salt 1 cup of grated firm pear (aprox 1-2) 3/4 cup natural cane sugar (tubinado), honey or maple syrup (you can also can sub loosely packed dates) 6 Tbs coconut oil 1 cup yogurt, Kefir or coconut milk OR *gasp*, coconut milk eggnog (serious yum / slightly less healthy due to sugar content) 2 large eggs beaten 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

*Notes: 1) Chose the firmest pears you can and save the grating until the last possible moment to keep them from going brown. 2) I highly suggest the naughty addition of vegan eggnog, but be sure to minimize your sugar to 1/2> cup if you do. 3) This recipe makes approximately 12 standard muffins

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside - Raw amaranth, flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, nutmeg

Add sugar to a large bowl then melt coconut oil. Spoon tablespoons into the sugar and mix well. Then whisk in milk of choice, beaten eggs and vanilla. Lastly, grate 1 cup of fresh pear and then fold in gently. Be careful not to over mix.

Meanwhile, lightly toast your pumpkin seeds using the same coconut oil pan. Toast for 1-2 mins shaking often.

Mix in 1/2 the toasted pumpkin seeds to your mix. Reserve the 2nd half as a topper for each muffin.

Oil your muffin tin with coconut oil and fill the cups almost the top. Sprinkle each muffin with the remaining pumpkin seeds.

Put the muffins into the oven and immediately turn temperature down to 375. Bake for 22-27 minutes or until golden brown and feel firm to the touch. Or use the handy tooth pick trick: poke it in the middle, if it comes out clean it is ready. We all know that one, right?

When the muffins are ready, pull them from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes. They will keep for 2 days if you store them in an airtight container or they freeze beautifully!

I like to serve these muffins with my immunity Rose Hip Jam so that I boost my health and lower my guilt, because I want to enjoy every fruit of my labor.

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In case you're wondering about my flour choice, here is a great high protein mix!

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They call me Miss Bi-Bim-Bastic

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They call me Miss Bi-Bim-Bastic

Korean food is my is my weakness: spicy meats, fermented ban chan, and that smokey hair smell that does not wash out for weeks.  I love it all, but could do with a little less greasy. So as you can imagine, I do a fair amount of research/ reading/ kitchen tinkering on Korean home cooking. Vegetarian Bim Bim Bop is a fantastic and easy recipe to spice up your weeknight's. Use the quinoa/ greens as a base and get creative with your favorite toppings.  I have shared with you a few of my favorite toppings, but any veggie sautéed with a little fresh ginger and garlic will go beautifully.

Weeknight Bi Bim Bop

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked quinoa

6 cups mixed greens, baby spinach or arugula.

6-12 Shitake mushrooms

1 Japanese eggplant

3-5 radishes radishes

Favorite greens

6 cherry tomatoes

1/2 avocado

Kimchee (store bought or homemade no MSG.)

2 eggs

1/2 cup rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar

Fresh garlic

Fresh ginger

1 Tbs sesame oil

2 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs. Soy sauce, tamari or Braggs Amino Acids

Cook your quinoa using the 2:1 ratio: 2 cups water for every one cup quinoa. It cooks just like rice in about 15 minutes. If you'd like to soak your grains before hand, adjust your ratio to 1:1.

While your quinoa cooks, use the time to prepare each topping.  It is best done consecutively, using the same pan. This will allow you to tweak the flavor on each topping while, moving quickly through the process.

*Thinly slice the radishes and add them to  1/2 cup hot water, 1/2 cup rice vinegar for a quick pickle. Marinate them for 15 mins. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds when serving.

*Roast the Eggplant in an oven at 400.  Slice eggplant in half and then cut diagonal slices into the flesh of each half. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of sesame oil and salt and pepper. Roast for aprox 30 mins.

* Saute the shitake mushrooms with 1 tsp sesame oil,  1 tsp of freshly chopped ginger and 1 tsp of freshly chopped garlic. Remove and set aside.

* Add 1 Tbs sliced onions to the same pan and cook until soft. Then add your chopped greens, stir briefly, then add 2 Tbs water.   Cover with a lid and cook for 2 more mins. Remove, drizzle with 1 tsp of rice vinegar. and set aside. Remove any extra liquid left in pan.

* Now is your chance to add your favorite veggie.  Slice it and throw it in the pan with 1 tsp of soy sauce. Zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, sweet potato would all be great toppings.

When the quinoa is ready, you are set to assemble your Bi Bim Bop.  Using two bowls for serving, add 1 cups of quinoa and 1-3 cups of salad greens side by side in each bowl. Top the quinoa/ greens base with small piles of your many, prepared toppings.  Add prepared kimchee, and an option for Nori (seaweed) sheets. For an extra protein boost (6 grams in 1 egg) and Bi Bim Bop authenticity, fry or poach an egg (using no more than 1/2 tsp oil) and place it in the center of your masterpiece.

잘 먹겠습니다

(bon appétit)

The Skinny

Variety is the spice of life! The more variety you have in your daily vegetables, the more nutrients you're getting in your diet. Each vegetable offers a unique and important vitamin or mineral. For example: radishes contain high levels of folic acid and vitamin C, making them great for your skin and powerful cancer fighters; Shitake mushrooms are the king of the medicinal mushroom world. They contain all the B-vitamins and many trace minerals such as manganese, selenium and zinc. They are best known for their strong immune boosting properties and cardiovascular support. Eggplant, while sometimes controversial as a member of the nightshade family (best avoided for people with arthritis), has strong levels of the antioxidant nasunin which can protect the cells from oxidative damage. Etc.....

The bottom line is, eating a rainbow of veggies with bring you greater health.  Rather then relaying on multivitamins, first aim to meet your daily nutrient requirements from a full dose of colorful vegetables.

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Goji Berry Weekend Smoothie

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Goji Berry Weekend Smoothie

This smoothie is begging to be enjoyed in the sunshine! Treat yourself to some pampering over the weekend! INGREDIENTS 1 1/4 cups almond milk 1/4 cup goji berries 2 tbsp cacao powder or nibs 2 tbsp raw hemp seeds 1 tsp chia seeds (ground or whole) 1 heaping cup strawberries 1 date, or a few drops stevia for sweetness

DIRECTIONS

Blend all the ingredients in your blender or food processor. Enjoy~!

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Artichoke Benedict with Garlic Cashew Cream Hollandaise

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Artichoke Benedict with Garlic Cashew Cream Hollandaise

Artichokes are beautiful vegetables that should be eaten whenever possible. They are rich and flavorful in the springtime and will turn any meal into a special occasion. So why not  marry them to the coveted brunch menu and place them atop the much revered Benedict?Behold the Veggie Eggs Benedict. While not entirely vegan (due to the protein rich egg), this towering pile of exquisite vegetables is topped with a cashew cream and roasted garlic hollandaise sauce, 100% butter (and guilt) free. With such delicious and indulgent flavors this recipe begs the question: Why not have artichokes for breakfast everyday?

While this recipe has a seemingly long list of instructions, most are simply a detailed expression of basic cooking skills. Once you have mastered the art of the poached egg and have learned to clean an artichoke properly, you will be able to add this exceptional recipe to your cooking tool repertoire and easily impress the breakfast crowd at any given moment.

INGREDIENTS

2 artichokes, outer leaves removed

1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped into rings

2-4 eggs

**Cashew Cream Hollandaise**

½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (or a minimum of 2 hours)

1 clove garlic, roasted

4 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. nutritional yeast

½ tsp. finely ground sea salt

⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper

⅛ tsp. turmeric powder

1/8 tsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar (plus more for poaching)

1 Tbs. water

5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for cooking)

DIRECTIONS

Begin by soaking your cashews. Cover in water and set in the refrigerator for at least two hours. The longer you soak, the creamier your sauce will be. Overnight is ideal.

Cook and clean your artichokes

In a stock pot filled ¼ with water, steam the artichoke for 50 mins or until you can easily pull the leaves from the stalk.

To clean your artichokes, you will first need to fill a large bowl with ice, water and 1 lemon cut in half, squeezed and added to the water with peel on. This will be your artichoke bath and will help keep their color.

First peel the outer layer of the stalk with a vegetable peeler (many people waste this delicious part of the artichoke, but it tastes as good as the heart).

Next, start pulling away the tough outer leaves working, around the artichoke, until you reach the tender inner leaves. Exactly how many leaves you remove is something learned with experience, but don't be surprised if you pull 1/3 of the leaves off. (Put these leaves aside as they can be steamed along with the heart or used later to make an artichoke stock.)

Trim the tip of the artichokes, cutting about 1” of the tip off the remaining leaves, and then slice the artichoke in half, lengthwise. Place the first half into the ice bath, then,  using a knife, cut out the inner fuzz of the other half, ensuring that all of the fuzz has been removed. Do the same with the second half. Slice the cleaned heart into 6” lengthwise pieces and keep warm in the steamer until you are ready to plate the benedict.

Cook your veggies

Preheat the oven to 350.

Slice your yellow onion into rings and cook it in a big pan with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Cook on low for 30 mins, stirring frequently, or until the onions start to caramelize and turn soft and sweet.

Slice your sweet potatoes into small disks and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, fresh pepper and 1 Tsp. of smoked paprika. Cook for 20-30 minutes, removing once potatoes are soft.

Add a garlic head to the oven for roasting. Slice the top off the entire head, exposing the tops of each garlic clove. In a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the garlic in, set in in the center and drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring the foil up around the sides and close at the top. Place that in the over with the potatoes and roast for 30 minutes.

Make your secret sauce

Once your cashews have been soaked, you can make your hollandaise. Add 1/2 cup soaked cashews, 4 cloves of roasted garlic, 4 Tbs. of lemon (or to taste), 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast, ½ tsp. sea salt, ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, ⅛ tsp. turmeric powder, 1/8 tsp. of smoked paprika, and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (also to taste.) Blend on high for one minute, then check the consistency. If you find it needs to be thinned out you can add water 1 tsp. at a time until it is to your preferred consistency. Taste and adjust sweet/tartness with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Once everything is prepped you are ready to poach your eggs. Simmer them in a shallow pan with a tablespoon of vinegar to hold them together. For a more in-depth look at poaching the perfect egg check out my tutorial.

While your eggs are poaching, assemble your vegetable tower. Timing is key to eggs benedict, so you make sure you are prepped and ready to plate with the vegetable base built and sauce in hand.

On a plate create a small stack of sweet potatoes in the center and surround it with sliced artichoke hearts. Place your poached egg in the center and drizzle hollandaise on top. Add a pinch of caramelized onions and a dash of smoked paprika and serve immediately.

The Skinny

The humble artichoke offers a bounty of flavor and nutrition. Artichokes contain more antioxidants than any other vegetable and are widely used by herbalists for cancer treatment and prevention. They are known to lower your bad cholesterol levels by boosting bile production and promote liver detoxification. Best of all: they are the unsung hero of the hangover cure. Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment. Instead of the hair of the dog, try the leaves of an artichoke.

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Poach A Perfect Egg

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Poach A Perfect Egg

I love, love, love poached eggs. I love the runny yolk on just about anything starting from breakfast, to vegetables, to leftovers. Many people fear the "home poach" and so they miss out on many an yolky recipe.  So here is a few tips, taught to me by my mother well before I could cook anything else, on poaching the perfect egg.

1) Start with a shallow pan and fill it with water (I usually poach eggs in a 2-quart saucepan filled with 2-3 inches of water.)

2)Add a splash of vinegar (1-2 Tbs.) to help hold the whites together.

3) Bring the water to a gentle simmer, then crack the eggs into the water.A fast simmer or a boil with break the eggs apart. I find that four minutes gives me an egg with firm whites and a runny yolk. Four and a half minutes is perfect if you want a yolk that's just starting to set. Five minutes works for times when I want a set yolk that is still custardy and soft.

Additional Tips

  • Use fresh eggs! The fresher the egg the more it will stay in tact when you simmer it.
  • Serve it HOT! Nothing worse than cold, runny eggs.

Voila! Breakfast is served.

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Immune Boosting Rose Hip Jam

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Immune Boosting Rose Hip Jam

Rose hips are the fruits of a rose-bush and they contain huge amounts of vitamin C, tannins, pectines, and carotene.  This means they are radically immune booting and can be used as a nutritional therapy when you feel a cold coming on. Rose hips are also known to protect the cells during radiation,  and provide a rich antioxidant for the skin. Each tablespoon of the jam contains about 60 mg of vitamin C (which is 2/3 of the daily RDA recommendation.) Simply by soaking your dried Rose Hips, they we turn into a jam like consistency. Then, with a little boost of anti-inflammatory ginger and honey for sweetness you get a delicious and therapeutic treat.

I like to drizzle rose hip jam on my morning oatmeal, add it to berry smoothies, or eat it on a seedy toast.

*Rose hips can be found in a well stocked health food store.

Ingredients 1/4 cup of dried rose hips 1 inch of water above rose hips 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, minced 2 tsp of local honey or stevia * Flax or chia seeds to thicken if needed

DIRECTIONS Add your rose hips to a small jar and cover in water by an extra inch.  Close the jar tightly and let them sit on the counter for 2 hours (or if you leave it overnight, keep it in the fridge.)  When you open them you will find the rose hips have absorbed the water and turned into a jam like consistency.

You are welcome to stop here and use your rose hips as is for a slightly bitter fruit compote.

Or for a smoother jam with an extra depth of flavor, add them to your food processor with ginger and honey and blend until smooth. Sweeten to your taste. You can store the jam in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Strawberry Almond Protein Dream Smoothie

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Strawberry Almond Protein Dream Smoothie

This recipe is low in sugar and high in good fats making it an excellent way to start the morning! Want to turn it into a valentine treat for your sweetie? Add 1 Tbs maca powder (for sexual prowess), 1 tsp of some goji berries and 1 tsp of cacao nibs!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup frozen organic strawberries 2 dates 1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight 1/2 cup filtered water

DIRECTIONS

Blend and enjoy!

The Skinny

When blending up your morning smoothies its best to choose berries over other fruits like bananas and mangoes. This is because berries naturally have less sugar (low glycemic) and will not spike your insulin levels too much.  This is particularly important concept when addressing weight loss. Think: low sugar, high protein!

*Recipe adapted from Well & Good NY

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Escape the Plague

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Escape the Plague

The flu is hitting hard this year and unless you can talk the boss into letting you work in quarantine, there seems to be no escape from the inevitable. Or is there? Arm yourself with a strong immune system and get ready to evade the plague.  Here are five foods you can add to your diet to naturally boost your immune system and have you ready to fight back! 1) Yogurt and fermented foods. Kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha are filled with naturally occurring probiotics aka healthy bacteria.  How is bacteria going to keep you healthy? Well, this particular bacteria is considered a “good guy,” lining the walls of the digestive tract, and is your first defense in fighting  off the “bad guys.” Higher levels of good bacteria means an increased response of white blood cells in reaction to an intruder. Be sure you pick dairy that is unsweetened and choose krauts and pickles that have been brined, not pickled.

2) Homemade soup. Homemade soups are an age-old remedy for a reason: stocks are nutritious concentrates of bone and vegetable minerals, and once made into a soup, salty broths actually work to thin and break down mucus.  Pack them full of garlic, onions and ginger — all natural anti-microbials — and add shiitake mushrooms, known for their deep immune stimulation.

3) Red peppers. We’ve all heard that citrus contains vitamin C, which is why many people stock up on orange juice when they are sick. But what they don’t know is that this sugary drink is working against them, when they could be getting twice as much vitamin C from red peppers.  A half-cup of red bell peppers contains one and half more vitamin C than the daily requirement, plus they work wonders to protect your skin, which is your first line of defense. Studies show that vitamin C can reduce the length and severity of a cold, so snack away on raw bell peppers throughout the flu season.

4) Orange you glad you’re healthy? Pumpkins and sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Experts have long known that vitamin A plays a big role in fighting infection and maintaining mucosal integrity.  Vitamin A also helps the cells communicate and create a better defense.

5) Surf and turf. Both beef and oysters are among the foods highest in zinc, along with lamb, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and crab. Zinc deficiencies, which leave you open to infection, are often seen in those with high stress, so go ahead and slurp down a dozen oysters after work.  And when you pick up that steak, remember, always choose organic and free range wherever possible.

*Bonus*

Immune boosting supplements should be thought of as two categories of defense: deep immune support and viral attacks.

Preventative: Take herbs like echinacea, reishi mushrooms and astragalus on the daily for deep immune stimulation.

Corrective: Once your sick you need to directly attack the bug that got you down. Try elderberry syrup, silvercillian, viral attack or kick ass immune as a natural anti viral/microbial.

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Breakfast for Dinner: The Big Green Omelet

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Breakfast for Dinner: The Big Green Omelet

This herb- and green-laden egg dish is a delicious celebration of spring and a great way to get your protein and veggies in one beautiful dish. Get creative by using whatever greens and fresh herbs you have on hand. You could also add shitake mushrooms, shaved zucchini or shredded carrots.  Serve it with homemade sauerkraut, salsa or avocado. It is also wonderful cold for lunch the next day. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs

2 Tbs coconut oil (or cold pressed olive oil.)

1 large spring onion (shallots & leeks are also good options.)

1 lb greens (nettles, spinach, kale or arugula or a mixture work well), blanched and chopped

½- 1 small Serrano chili, diced

1 bunch mint, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 350 if you do not want to flip your eggs part way through cooking.

Heat a 2 Tbsp of coconut oil in a cast-iron pan (or any other non-stick pan which can go into the oven.).  Add onions over medium heat, salt well, and cook 5 minutes until tender and translucent.  Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in large bowl.  Blanch your greens by dropping them into boiling water for 1-2 minutes.  Add blanched and chopped greens and the herbs to the beat eggs. It will seem like a ridiculous amount of greens, but that is the point.  Add the cooled onions and more salt and mix well.

Re-heat pan over medium-high heat. Add egg mixtures and let cook 7-10 minutes until almost completely set. The middle will still be damp.  Don't let the bottom burn and adjust heat accordingly.  When the eggs are almost completely set you can either slide it onto a plate and then flip it back into the pan to cook the top for 2-3 minutes or you can slide the whole pan unto the pre-heated oven and cook it for 2-3 minutes until set but not too firm.

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Corn Bread (Gluten Free!)

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Corn Bread (Gluten Free!)

Corn bread is god's gift to gluten-free eaters. It is rich, nostalgic and indulgent and in its truest form, is naturally gluten-free. Using whole grain corn meal, coconut oil and Keifer I transformed these American favorites into a wholesome Sunday breakfast. The addition of apple sauce, Greek yogurt or Keifer will help keep them moist. Play with additions like corn kernels, green chilies or Middle Eastern Dukkah.

  • 1 cup milk (Almond, Coconut, Hemp, etc. )
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 cups fine or medium cornmeal (I used whole-grain, but regular is ok.)
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice or regular sugar (I like my cornbread southern-style, with zero sweetness, so I like to omit this. But everyone else who tried the recipe preferred the sweetened version. I’d recommend leaving it in, especially if you’re making this recipe for the first time.)
  • 1 and 1/2 packets stevia (or 2 more tbsp sugar)
  • 11-oz can corn, drained (not unsalted)
  • 2 tbsp coconut or canola/veg oil (see nutrition link below, for a fat-free option)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce

Mix the vinegar with the milk, and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and mix very well. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, applesauce, corn (pulverized if you wish), and milk-vinegar. Then pour the wet into dry and mix until just mixed. Pour into a greased 8×8 dish and cook at 420 F (preheated) for about 25 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before trying to cut, or it will crumble.

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Poached Egg Miso

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Poached Egg Miso

Is it just me or did winter sneak up behind us, in the midst of our summer holiday?  True to San Francisco weather, we had  two precious weeks of 70 degrees, sunny park lunches, followed quickly with the a search for our wool hats and boot socks.  With the rainy weeks ahead I thought it the perfect time to talk soup. Those of you who know me, know that my relationship with soup has been a rocky road. My mom would always cook up big pots of everything-in-fridge-soup, that I would force down throughout the week. Resentful that I was once again face to face with the vegetables I had rejected so certainly just a week before. Once I was free to rule over my own kitchen, I vowed to ban all soups, stews and watery leftovers from my kitchen table.  But I admit, I have softened through the years. Maybe its due to chilly San Fran living, or that a blended soup offers something much more complex and intriguing. Or possibly that my 'ol mom was onto something and that I now recognize that soups are a great way to make a nourishing meal.  Whatever it is, I have turned a corner and am always looking for interesting new ways to make amends with my old enemy.

This week I was inspired by The Kitchn's  winter soup round-up and made this super easy, nourishing miso soup for dinner last week. It is the perfect prescription to rainy nights and fall colds and will leave you wishing your mom was around to fix you soup.

Poached Egg Miso 

INGREDENTS

2 quarts good broth

1/2 cup miso paste

One 12-ounce block soft tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 small bunch scallions, green tops sliced thin

Greens (I used spicy broccolini in this version but bok choi, chard, pea shoots or dandelion greens would be great.)

Chili flakes

Kombu  (a seaweed that adds flavor, nutrients and digestibility to soups, grains and beans.)

For each  bowl:

1 cup cooked brown rice (or quinoa)

1 large egg

Soy sauce

Sambal (aka rooster sauce.)

Sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Pour stock into a large saucepan.  Add a 3 inch piece of kombu to the cold stock and bring to a boil.  While stock is boiling ready the miso paste into a small bowl or measuring sup.  Add boiling stock to the miso and whisk until completely dissolved then combine with the stock.  Keep over low heat; do not let the broth boil after the miso has been added.

Stir in the tofu cubes and the sliced scallions, and heat just until warmed through.

Meanwhile add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to a pan.  Once hot, add your greens and stir to evenly coat with sesame oil. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon (depending on taste) over the greens, add a splash of water lower the heat and cover for aprox. 5 minuets or until the greens have wilted.

To prepare a bowl of soup Place 1 cup cooked white rice in each soup bowl. Poach an egg for each bowl of soup. (Alternatively, you can add an egg to a bowl of hot broth, cover it, and let stand for several minutes.)

Pour about 1 cup of miso soup over the rice in each bowl, place a poached egg on top and add wilted greens.  Serve with soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil.

The Skinny

Seaweed is a super food you should be eating. The Japanese have been cooking with sea vegetables for centuries to enhance both the flavor and  nutrition of their dishes. Seaweed offers the broadest range of minerals of any food as they contain every single mineral found in the ocean. The highlights are iodine which support the thyroid, lignans which offer cancer prevention, funcan substances dramatically lower the inflammation in the body.  Seaweed also has theraputic levels of folic acid and magnesium which protect the heart, cardiovascular system and support women in menopause. And last but not least a broad range of B vitamins to decrease stress and anxiety.  (Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Murray, 2005.)

Adding pieces of kombu to your soup stocks, grains and beans will allow the nutrients to be absorbed by the food.  You can also try dulce flakes as a seasoning and of course seaweed sheets for making sushi and wraps.

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Egg Salad. Pure and Simple.

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Egg Salad. Pure and Simple.

Its "Unprocessed October" I am have been brain-storming ways to make whole-food and delicious lunches.  Today I called on an old friend: the egg salad sandwich. Its one of those classics that everyone loves but no one makes. I think this is the perfect time to revisit. Here is my spin: Egg Salad, Pure and Simple.

INGREDIENTS

2 hard boiled eggs

1 Tbsp of Plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp of unprocessed Dijon mustard

2 tsp of fresh herbs (today I used lemon thyme)

2-4 tsps of finely chopped shallots

rock salt and pepper to taste.

1/2 a piece of Trader Jo's Whole Wheat Lavash bread, (or another simply made bread.) For Paleo serve in lettuce cups.

Handful or wild arugula, lettuce, or mache

Home made pickles.

*NOTE: I like crunch in my egg salad so I generally throw in a small dice of whatever veggies I have available: cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, pickles, capers, etc. Chopped nuts can also be a nice addition.

*For an interesting variation try a curry powder, chopped apple and toasted pecans combination.

DIRECTIONS

Hard-boil your eggs (See directions below for a perfectly hard-boiled egg.)

In a bowl mix together shallot, mustard, yogurt and herbs.  Add the shelled eggs and roughly chop.

Fold the eggs and yogurt mixture together but allow it to stay course and not get too smooth.

If adding other veggies, fold them in also.

Serve over a salad, in a flat bread wrap or an open face dense rye bread sandwich. Add a spicy lettuce to contrast the creamy eggs and serve with home made (or fresh) pickles.

How To Perfectly Hard-Boil An Egg

1) Place eggs in a pot and cover with 2" of water.

2) Bring water to boil.

3) Once water boils, remove from heat momentarily and bring heat to medium. Place the eggs back on to simmer for 1 minute.

4) Remove pot from heat and let sit for 12 minutes. *NOTE: If cooking 5+ eggs, let sit for 15-20 minutes.

5) Rinse eggs under cold water. Ready to eat or save.

 

The Skinny

Yogurt has less fat and cholesterol then a vegetable-oil based mayonnaise. It can provide the creamy texture or moistness you are looking to add to a recipe. i.e- on tacos, in eggs, on sandwiches, in oatmeal, etc. Yogurt, unlike mayonnaise is a super food.  Yogurt can help improve digestion and immunity with its pro-biotic content; yogurt is a rich source of calcium; yogurt helps increase the bio-availability of other nutrients, yogurt supports healthy re-balance after antibiotics and yogurt is an excellent source of protein.

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Put an egg on it.

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Put an egg on it.

Put An Egg On It If you haven’t yet noticed the trend, I love eggs! I love them because they are delicious and versatile, yes, but also because they pack a 6gm of protein punch into any meal.  I grew up on eggs from the chicken coop and my most nostalgic meals are egg-centered breakfasts: Mama’s eggs Benedict, rice pancakes and herb scrambles.  These days I try to add them into the more savory, later meals of the day: Poached eggs over rice, hard boiled in a salad, eggs in purgatory, poached eggs on roast asparagus and isn’t any left-over better with a fried egg on it?

Today we are going to do eggs the easy way. Its early, I just finished a boot-camp hill day and I am famished.  Here’s the drill: cook oatmeal on stovetop as usual, crack a whole egg into the nearly cooked oats and stir in. Eat as normal, but be energized and more satiated with the protein power of eggs.  Your welcome.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup rolled oats, or 5 grain steel cut.

(*note: this could also work with microwaved oatmeal if your in a pinch.)

1 cup water

1 egg

Insert favorite topping here: Milk, nuts, fruit, sweetener (if needed.)

Mine: almond milk, pumpkin seeds, crystallized ginger

DIRECTIONS

Bring water to a boil with a pinch of salt.

Add oats, stir in and reduce heat to a simmer

Cook until oats thicken (about 7-10 for rolled oats, 15 for steel cut.)

Crack in an egg and mix well.

Remove from heat, add toppings and enjoy.

The skinny:

For those of you who wish you could eat more eggs, but have been scared off by rumors of high cholesterol, think again.  More and more studies confirm that most of our cholesterol levels are dictated by what is created in the liver, and that blood cholesterol levels are hardly effected by dietary cholesterol as previously thought.

Not only are eggs protein dense, but they are packed full of vitamins k, vitamin D, B vitamins (especially B12), selenium, choline, betaine, and 6.3 grams of protein. Rather then damaging your heart, eggs actually have several heart healthy nutrients. Betaine, for example, works to lower homocysteine levels (which when are high, can damage the blood vessels of the heart.) Eggs are very high in choline which feeds our brains, by providing flexability and integrity to brain cells. This makes it particularly good for nursing mothers as choline will be essential for their babies brain development.

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Unda-Style Egg Wrap (Make this. You'll love it)

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Unda-Style Egg Wrap (Make this. You'll love it)

I have always loved Indian roti rolls and upon learning of the egg laden unda-style version, I have never looked back to my ways of ordering past.  Unda-style is when a egg (pre scrambled) is added to a hot skillet, let set (like an omelet), then topped with a piece of naan.  The result is an egg-y, crepe-like vehicle for transporting Indian food to mouth. Last month all of this changed. I came across a startling variation in one of my favorite cooking blogs 101 cookbooks, where the idea has been altered to substitute the naan, for a less dense carb- the tortilla.  Since then my I have made and remade this protein packed wrap with just about anything- tortillas, lavash, pita, sprouted bread, etc. and topped with whatever looks fresh in my refrigerator.

And upon completing this mornings, asparagus, spicy feta shallot version, I decided it was time to share.  Feast away friends and get ready to boost your breakfast

Asparagus Unda Wrap

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1/4 shallot (thinly diced)

3 spears asparagus (sliced into 1 inch pieces)

1 handful of baby arugula or spinach.

1 Tbs Feta or goat cheese (I have been using Trader Jo's Chili Feta for a spicy kick)

2 eggs (scrambled and seasoned with S+P)

1 thin slice of whole wheat lavash flat bread, OR 1 side of a whole wheat pita pocket, OR whole wheat tortilla, etc.

DIRECTIONS

1) Heating 1 tsp oil in pan add shallots and let soften (approx. 30 sec.) Add asparagus and season lightly with salt and pepper.)

2) Put the asparagus aside on a plate and add the scrambled eggs to your smallest sauce pan.  Swirl them in the pan to spread out evenly.  Let set about 1 min.

3) Add your bread/tortilla/ pita directly on top of the egg and give it about 30 seconds to bind.  Flip egg/ bread completely over without breaking or folding (bread-side down on the pan) and let set another 10-30 seconds.

4) During these last 30 seconds, place the asparagus, cheese and arugula back in the pan on top of your egg creation.  When cooked through, slide the whole thing on to the plate, roll and devour.

*What variations have you tried?

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Olive Oil, Cherry and Macadamia Nut Granola

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Olive Oil, Cherry and Macadamia Nut Granola

It's my sweetie's birthday tomorrow and there is little he loves more then his mother's homemade granola.  Since I will be out bootcamp-ing, rather then here to make him a birthday surprise, I decided to plan ahead and make him some of this homemade goodness.  I adapted this from a New York Times recipe with a few available or preferred ingredient modifications. I was unable to get my hands on raw, unsalted pistachios so instead I used 1/2 a cup of salted pistachios and a cup of raw, unsalted macadamia nuts.  Also, I opted for dry cherries, as the glorified mama version uses these sweet, plump fruits.

It was amazingly easy to make and has that fresh roasted nut flavor.  So good in fact, we could not wait for birthday breakfast-  We had to have a warm bowl for dessert tonight.

3 cups old-fashioned thick rolled oats

1/2 cups raw pistachios

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup coconut flakes

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 cup dried cherries

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, mac nuts,  pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.

Store in a large glass jar or freezer bags.  Enjoy all month (if it lasts that long.)

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Quinoa Pancakes

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Quinoa Pancakes

When I was a kid my favorite breakfast was always Mama's rice pancakes. She would take day-old basmati rice, add an egg, some cinnamon and grill them up.  These days, although rice pancakes are always my number-one request when sitting at her table, I rarely choose to start morning in my home with sugary breakfasts. Then this morning as I was set to make my new favorite Quoina Breakfast Bowl, I decided to re-vamp this nostalgic treat into an easy and protein packed pancake. I added some vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, cardamom and fruit, then served mine with a goat kefir. Success! These will be made again and again. Just (sort of) like mama did.

Quinoa Pancakes

Serves 1-2

1 1/2 cups previously cooked quinoa

1 egg

1 spoonful of vanilla protein powder

1 handful of fruit- Today I used dried blueberries. Other options- fresh berries, banana, nuts, etc.

dash of cinnamon & dash of cardamom  on each pancake

In a bowl mix the quinoa and 1 egg.  Mix until evenly disbursed.Then add protein powder and fruit and mix.

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Heat up a non-stick pan or skillet with butter, olive oil or coconut oil. When the pan is hot, add dollops of your batter to make your desired pancake size.  Once on the pan sprinkle with cinnamon and cardamom.

Let them cook as you would a flour pancake, flipping when first side is crisp, and removing when coked through.

Serve with yogurt or kefir, fresh fruit and nuts. Sweeten with honey.

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