VEG, FRUIT + HERBAL INFUSED WATER

It’s essential to stay hydrated and cool in the hot summer months. Infusing water with vegetables, fruits, and herbs can make it a breeze.

Most store bought infused waters are loaded with artificial flavors, sugar, and coloring.  Enjoy these pure and simple, fresh and natural alternatives.

There is no limit to the combinations you could try. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started.

All of the ingredients have a cooling effect which is perfect for keeping cool in the warm summer season.

cucumber + cilantro
cucumber + lemon
cucumber, watermelon + mint
lemon + cilantro or mint
raspberry, strawberry + mint
raspberry, orange + mint
orange + blueberry
honeydew + mint
mango + mint

  1. Place the chosen vegetables, fruit, and herbs into a glass, use a muddler or end of a wooden spoon, and slightly mash up to bring out their flavors.
  2. Add filtered or sparking water and enjoy.

COCONUT DATE BOATS

dateMy sweet tooth is my down fall in the realm of healthy eating.  Time and time again, I vow to eliminate processed sugar from my diet.  This quest has opened doors to creative and healthy alternatives to satisfy my love of the sweet taste.

One of my favorite quick sweet treats are coconut date boats.  I enjoy them as a mid-day snack or for desert.  Date boats are easy to make and deeply nourishing.

Dates have long been revered in Ayurveda for building ojas.  Ojas is considered the ‘nectar of life'; nourishing vitality, strength and immunity.

I was told by a naturopath, that eating healthy fat, such as coconut oil, helps ground the sugar when eating fruits.  Coconut oil is booming with benefits of supporting your brain’s function and your skin’s glow.  Coconut is also cooling so it is a perfect to add it to your diet during the hot summer season. Plus I think it tastes just like frosting once tucked in a medjool date!

10 medjool dates
organic coconut oil
shredded coconut
himalayan pink salt

1. Slice the dates on one side, length wise, and remove the pit.
2. Fill the date with coconut oil, sprinkle with a very light dash of salt, and top with shredded coconut.
3. Store in the refrigerator as the coconut oil will melt on a hot summer day above 75 degrees.

 

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB CRISP

strawberries-rhubarbStrawberry rhubarb crisp is an early summer favorite.  I love this sweet, tart treat warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla coconut ice cream.

This particular variation I have swapped out processed sugar for maple syrup and butter for ghee.  I was pleasantly surprised that it created the perfect sweetness and worked well even in the crumble topping.

At first I was skeptical, as the crumble didn’t seem very crumbly.  It was more of a paste to spread onto the strawberry rhubarb mixture but after baking, it set and became crisp.  You can use cold butter if you do not have ghee.

filling
5 c strawberries, sliced
4 c rhubarb, chopped
1/2 c maple syrup
1 fresh orange, juiced
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp arrowroot starch/flour

topping
1 c quinoa flour
1 c gf whole rolled oats
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 c maple syrup
12 tbsp ghee or butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl mix orange juice, zest and arrowroot, until arrowroot is dissolved.
3. Add strawberries, rhubarb, and 1/2 c maple syrup, toss to coat, then place mixture into a 9×13 pyrex pan.
4. In a large bowl combine quinoa flour, oats, sea salt, 1 c maple syrup, and ghee/butter, mix well. If you are using cold butter instead of ghee, you may want to use a hand mixer on low.
5. Spread the topping onto the strawberry rhubarb mixture.
6. Bake for 1 hour.

 

Sweet Potato + Chard Veggie Bowl

VegBowlFive years ago I made a commitment to make and pack a home cooked meal everyday to take to work for lunch.  This came after years of regularly eating out.   Both my pocket book and my digestion have benefitted from eating a more wholesome lunch.

Set the sandwiches aside. Veggie bowls are by far the easiest and healthiest quick lunch to prepare.   The ingredients I choose are always based on the season and what is arriving in my CSA vegetable box.

I love how colorful and nutrient dense this bowl of spring herbs and vegetables are.

If you shop at Willy Street Co-op they sell pre-cut sweet potato fries that will shorten your prep time.  If you do not have certain ingredients, don’t worry, I am often swapping out ingredients for what I have on hand.

If you make this bowl, in the comments below, let me know if you liked it, or if you swapped out ingredients for a different creation!

1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut french fry style
1 small purple sweet potato, peeled and cut french fry style
1 bunch chard, stems and leaves divided, chopped
4 ramps, bulbs and stems divided from leaves, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil, ghee or coconut oil
4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
handful parsley, chopped
handful chives, chopped
1/3 c sunflower seeds, toasted

  1. In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, boil sweet potatoes until tender but not mushy. Strain and set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat oil on medium heat, add celery, chard stems, ramp bulbs, and ramp stems.  Sauté until vegetables are tender.
  3. Toss in cooked sweet potatoes, chard leaves, and ramp leaves.  Cover pan to let greens wilt for a minute or two.  Be mindful not to over cook.
  4. Place in serving bowls or pyrex containers to take to go.  Top with parsley, chives, bacon, and toasted sunflower seeds.

SPRING BEET SOUP

beetfennel1Our bodies feel the change in the cycles of the natural world, what is able to grow in our gardens expands, and so too, our palate of foods should shift with the season. Beets are a great vegetable to include in your spring meal planning as they contain high levels of betalains which support liver detoxification.

Remember from earlier posts, the liver is the organ to give extra love to in the spring time.

Beets are also said to be blood building and purifying as well as anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants.

Fennel aids in digestion, promotes regularity of the bowels, is high in vitamin C and is said to contain cancer reducing minerals.

This soup is incredibly easy and quick to make.  It has been a dinner staple in my kitchen this spring.

Ayurveda suggests that lunch be the largest meal of the day while dinner should be lighter and easier to digest. Having a lighter dinner is said to help you sleep better at night.

If you make this soup, I’d love to hear what you think!  Comment below and let me know, did you enjoy it? Would you share it with a friend?

2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 spring onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 c red beets, scrubbed and diced
1 c yellow beets, scrubbed and diced
2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
1 c fresh fennel bulb, cord and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
6 c water
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
lemon juice for garnish
spring onion or scallion green tops for garnish

1. In a medium pot, heat ghee or coconut oil, adding the spring onion and celery.  Sauté for a few minutes.
2. Add beets, carrots, fennel, bay leaf, dill and water.  Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer until the vegetables are tender, approximately 25 minutes.
3.  Adjust salt and pepper
4.  Garnish each bowl with a squirt of lemon and a handful of spring onion green tops.

GOLDEN ELIXIR

What to do on a rainy spring day, when there is a chill in the air that leaves you feeling chilled, sluggish, or congested?

Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, recommends living with awareness and in harmony with the seasons. Ayurveda encourages developing lifestyle habits that promote balance with the five elements. The early spring is associated with the earth and water elements or the kapha dosha. The kapha dosha qualities are heavy, dense, cold, and moist. Kapha governs the tissues of the body and the lymphatic system. When kapha is in excess, such as on a cold and moist day such as today, it can leave you a feeling lethargic and congested. Congestion may show up in your sinuses, achiness in the muscles, or slowed mental awareness.

To create balance, foster opposite qualities such as light, warm, and dry. Golden Elixir is the perfect remedy to create warmth from the inside and out while promoting circulation and detoxification.

Ginger is warming, promotes circulation, aids in digestion, and opens the sinuses. Turmeric is a profound anti-inflammatory and aids in detoxification.  Curcumin, which gives turmeric its incredible orange color, is all the rage in the natural health community. It is said to promote healthy blood and liver function while strengthening the immune system. Coconut oil lubricates the tissues and local raw honey is said to fend off allergies.

Spring is a great time to go on a daily brisk walk and include Sun Salutations in your morning yoga asana practice. This will help move the cold damp qualities from the tissues and increase circulation of lymphathic system which is a powerful player in your immune system.

Spring in the Midwest is known for dichotomy in weather patterns, toggling from damp cold days to sunny warm days. Enjoy Golden Elixir on cooler moist days while on the hot warm days, which are more expressive of summer, omit or use less ginger so that the elixir is less heating.

6 c water
1/3 c ginger root, fresh chopped
1/4 c turmeric, fresh chopped*
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp local raw honey
juice of one lemon

  1. In a medium pot bring water, ginger, turmeric to a boil. Then simmer for 10 or more minutes.
  2. Add coconut oil, honey, and lemon, stirring until the honey and coconut oil has dissolved.
  3. Using a mesh strainer, strain tea and enjoy!*Fresh turmeric root can be purchased at Whole Foods, natural food co-ops and Asian grocery stores.

 

LIVER TONIC VEGETABLE MEDLEY

Have you wondered why there is such an emphasis on detoxing the liver in the spring?

Your body is incredible at regenerating but after a long winter of eating heavy, rich, and fatty foods, giving your liver a little love and support can be incredibly beneficial.

Eastern medicine tells us that each season corresponds with an organ within the body and certain emotions.  Spring corresponds with the liver.  The liver stores, purifies and detoxifies the blood. When balanced the liver supports a smooth and soothing energy flow within the body and the mind.  When the liver is healthy one tends easily towards kindness, calmness, and patience.

John Pitchford, In Healing With Whole Foods, says that the liver “is perhaps the most congested of all the organs in the modern person.”  When the liver becomes stagnant or congested you tends towards anger, impatience, agitation, and resentment.  These same emotions along with stress, when repressed, congest the liver. Healthy liver energy inspires you to flow smoothly and calmly with life.

To support your body through the spring season and give your liver a little love, shift your diet towards whole foods while eliminating processed and refined foods.  Too much fat, chemicals, processed foods, and intoxicants, disrupts the liver’s equilibrium.  In the next few blog spots I will highlight various recipes and yoga practices that are supportive for the spring season and balancing for the liver.

Today’s favorite is a Liver Tonic Vegetable Medley that it will make a good side dish to most entrees or soups. Burdock is a woody-tubular root that has a deep earthy flavor. Burdock root is said to purify the blood, support the liver and is high in antioxidants vitamin E and C.  It is great for nourishing the body to greater health. The burdock root skin is rich in flavor and nutrients.  No need to peel burdock but you will want to give it a good rinse and scrub with a kitchen sponge to remove any dirt from it’s time in the ground.

If you have wild burdock growing in your lawn, think twice about digging it up for this dish!  The wild burdock is not so delicious whereas the Japanese gobo burdock that is cultivated for culinary purposes is. Diakon radish is a white radish that has a very mild taste. It is said to have liver protective properties and is high in vitamin C and potassium.  Both burdock root and daikon radish can be found at Whole Foods, natural food co-ops and most Asian groceries.

Liver Tonic Vegetable Medley

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks or julienned
6” burdock root, cut into matchsticks or julienned
4” daikon radish, cut into matchsticks or julienned
1” ginger, minced
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup water
Salt to taste

  1. In a medium pan, heat coconut oil until melted.
  2. Add carrots, burdock, daikon radish, ginger, a pinch of salt and water.
  3. Sauté until the vegetables are tender.  Putting a lid on the pot will help the veggies and roots cook more quickly.

Serves 2

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS FOR SPRING

Our bodies, being part of the natural world are affected by the change of seasons.  Understanding the qualities of the season allows you to live in greater harmony with nature’s rhythms. It also gives you insight into recognizing what may need tending to within yourself to create balanced health.

The spring season is characterized by ascending and uplifting energy.  Deep within the earth an incredible force is at work to allow plants to push upwards above ground with their vibrant colors and sap to rise up within the trees so leaves can grow outward.  In the spring there is a quickening, an awakening. The plants and animals come out of winter’s slumber to create new life.

The yoga practice offers many techniques to maintain balance during times of change.  Given the natural world is expanding it can be helpful include grounding and stability in your practice. Metaphorically putting your roots down will give you greater resiliency.  Standing postures are by far the most grounding given the feet are stable on the earth.  Imagine your roots going beneath the earth to support the upward lift of your spine.  You can explore this most readily in Mountain, Warrior II and Tree postures.  Rooting down into your feet to lift up through your spine.  With practice this will allow your posture to become more effortless and create an inner stability through the change of seasons.

CHERRY-PUMPKIN OAT BARS

Whether it is a long day of travel, a big teaching day or refueling after a winter hike, snacks are an essential part of my everyday. If I fail to have snacks on hand, my blood sugar plummets and it is hard to maintain a clear presence.  To stay nourished and at the top of my potential throughout the day,  I have an arsenal of snacks at home, at the office and tucked in my day bag.  Most store bought snacks are loaded with sugar so I am regularly on a quest to make the most nutritious snacks from the comfort of my kitchen.

These no-bake cherry-pumpkin oat bars are superb as they are power packed with whole food ingredients and low in sugar.  According to a Huffington Post article, pumpkin is claimed to impressively boost vision, heart health, mood and the immune system.  You could swap out the nuts and dried fruit I chose, for any variety that you love.

It is not absolutely necessary, but for best digestibility, I soak and roast the nuts and seeds as well as roast the oats.  Given these are no-bake bars they are best stored in the freezer.  I take a few of out of the freezer in the morning, placing them in a container or wrap,  then toss them into my bag for the day.  Within a short time, they will thaw and be ready to eat.

4 c oats
1/3 c almonds
1/3 c pecans
1/3 c hazelnuts
1/3 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 c coconut flakes
1/2 c dried cherries
1 c almond butter
1 c pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned
1/4 c maple syrup
1 tsp salt

  1.  In a food processor combine oats, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and cherries, processing until chopped.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, process until throughly mixed.  If your food processor can’t handle so much mass, you can remove from the processor, and mix in a large bowl with your hands.
  3. Press the mix evenly into  9×13 glass dish.
  4. Place in the freezer for a few hours until it becomes a hardened bar.
  5. Cut into squares and store the  bars in a airtight container in the freezer until a short time before you are ready to eat them.
Soaking + Roasting 101
For oats-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the dry oats on a cookie sheet with rims or a large oven safe dish.  I used two 9×13 glass dishes for 4 cups of oats. Roast the oats, until they are fragrant, typically 15 minutes, every 5-10 minutes stirring or shaking to allow for even roasting.  Do not let them brown or burn as the flavor will not be as good!
For the nuts + seeds-in a large glass bowl, cover the nuts and seeds with cold water and a half teaspoon of salt.  Allow to soak for 6-12 hours.  Drain and rinse well.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the soaked nuts and seeds on a cookie sheet with rims or large oven safe dish.  Roast the nuts and seeds for 8-20 minutes, every 5 minutes stirring or shaking to allow for even roasting.  If you’d like extra crispy nuts, then roast them at 175 degrees for 12 hours or place in a food dehydrator.

OJAS ENERGY DRINK

In Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, Ojas is referred to as the ‘vital nectar of life.’ It is the subtle energy or essence that provides strong immunity, nourishment to the tissues and stability to the mind.  It is said to give a sparkle to the eyes and a glow to the skin.  A fast-paced, over scheduled and under-rested lifestyle depletes Ojas.  When Ojas is depleted we often feel fatigue or struggle with low immunity, insomnia, anxiety and emotional reactivity.

Curious how you can build your reserves of this nourishing vital nectar of life?  Here are a few tips for building Ojas…

  • Keep good company.  Positive people uplift and nourish your soul.
  • Eat fresh whole foods while avoiding processed foods, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Choose cooked and well oiled foods over raw and dry foods.
  • Get ample rest.  Ideally to bed before 10 pm and awake before dawn, this provides the most restorative sleep.
  • Cultivate a daily calming yoga and meditation practice.

This blended drink builds Ojas, to help keep you healthy through the cold and flu season.

10 almonds, soaked overnight, peeled and rinsed
2 medjool dates, soaked overnight, pitted and rinsed
1 tsp ghee
1 pinch cardamon, ground*
1 pinch saffron
2 c water or almond, rice, coconut or dairy milk

Place all of the  ingredients in a high powered blender, blend until smooth.  Enjoy and be nourished!

*For supreme flavor, rather then store bought, grind your own organic cardamon seeds in a spice grinder.