Tag Archives: healthy

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Recipe: Super Simple Swiss Chard

People always ask me for my favorite health tips. While I really like to customize my recommendations to each individual, eating more greens is always on the list. Leafy greens, including Swiss chard, are some of the most nutrient dense foods. They’re also rich in fiber which is one of the most important keys to good gut health.

A lot of people don’t like greens because they find them bitter, or they’re unsure how to cook them. I totally get it. Sometimes I don’t really want to bother with chopping up veggies or aromatics like onion, ginger and garlic. So, today I made this super simple Swiss chard (it was becoming do or die for my Swiss chard, I was a little overambitious grocery shopping last week). The curry paste is store bought, but it’s really great quality and tastes great. You can read more about the curry pastes I recommend here.

This can be eaten as a side dish, or with quinoa and a fried egg to make a complete meal. You can also add any other veggies to this to make it more substantial. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

1 bunch Swiss chard
1/2 tbs coconut oil
2-4 teaspoons Thai kitchen red curry paste
3/4 cup coconut milk*
salt to taste

*use leftover coconut milk to make this awesome DIY leave in hair conditioner.

  1. Separate the leaves and stems of the Swiss chard. Dice the stems and thinly slice the leaves. Keep them separate**
  2. Heat oil in a wok or saute pan. When hot, and the curry paste and a pinch of salt and stir.
  3. Add the chard stems and cook for 3 minutes, then add in the leaves.
  4. Saute on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk.
  5. Cook on low heat until the chard is tender and cooked through. I cook it for about 10 minutes total, but it depends on how soft you like your greens.

**I cut and cook the greens and stems together when I’m cooking for myself. It takes less time and I’m fine with the stems being a little firmer. Feel free to experiment with both ways.

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curry green beans

Recipe: Curried Coconut Green Beans

I have the privilege of working at one of the best places I could imagine, the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). I had been having a one way love affair with them since 2003, when Kathryn Bari, a graduate and chef, had me fall in love with healthy food. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I started working at NGI last year. It felt like everything was coming full circle.

The food at NGI is spectacular, but sometimes the recipes require more time, energy and ingredients than I really want to deal with. It’s great for special occasions, when I’m cooking for a client, or when I really want to treat myself, but sometimes I want a similar dish without all the frills.

When I tried Chef Rich’s Curried Coconut Green Beans dish, I was hooked. It was so flavorful and satisfying. I’ve made it over a dozen times since, and I’m very happy with my alterations to the recipe. Enjoy!

Curried Coconut Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 lb green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds, if you have them
  • 1 tbs curry powder, divided
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 jalapeno or thai bird chili (if you like heat)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 tbs minced ginger
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves if you can find them
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large wok or saute pan.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and wait until they pop, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Add the curry leaves, shallots and hot peppers if you’re using them. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder and ginger, and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  5. Add the green beans, and cook to your liking. About 5-7 minutes.
  6. Once the green beans are tender, add the shredded coconut and stir to coat the green beans.
  7. Cook until heated through. Adjust salt and curry powder to your liking.
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why sleep is important

Why Sleep is More Important Than You Think

We all know sleep is important, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I got into the nitty gritty of why. I know that when I don’t sleep enough, I’m irritable, it’s difficult to focus, and it’s much easier to fall into a negative outlook. I think I’m not alone there. But, there’s tons of stuff that goes on in our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep that make it harder for us to stay healthy and feel good.

Our Hormones Go Out of Wack

There are these two great hormones, grehlin and leptin, that regulate our appetite.  Grehlin tells us that we are hungry, while leptin signals that we’re full and controls satiety. When we don’t sleep enough, our grehlin levels elevate and leptin levels are reduced, making it harder for us to feel full and satisfied. One doctor I heard speak recently said that one night of sleep deprivation is the equivalent of ingesting an extra 540 calories. Talk about setting yourself up to fail!

We Go Into Fight or Flight

When we don’t get enough sleep, the part of our brains responsible for our rational and thoughtful behavior decreases it’s activity. This part our brain, the prefrontal cortex, also plays a major role in decision making and self-control.

And, to top it off, the amydala becomes more active when we don’t get enough sleep. I like to think of the amydala as a very primal part of the brain. The amydala detects threats (real or imaginary) and signals the fight or flight responses we are all so familiar with. We tense up, our heart rate increases… we’re stressed out. When we’re in this mindset we don’t make good decisions, and our bodies (especially digestion) don’t perform well.

So what’s the big deal? Being mindful about what and how we eat plays a huge part in our health, from food sensitivities to weight loss. When we don’t get enough sleep, the part of our mind that helps us regulate our behaviors gets short changed while the part of us that is more primal and reactive gets activated. You are literally setting your mind up to fail at whatever health goals you’ve set when you don’t get enough sleep.

You’re Tired

Maybe least scientific of them all, but still super important, is the fact that when you don’t sleep enough, you’re tired! Being tired makes everything more challenging, including getting to the grocery store, exercising (even if it’s just a walk around the block) and cooking. Who wants to cook when they haven’t had enough sleep? Sounds like nap time to me!

What do you think? Will you aim for some extra zzz’s tonight?

 

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zaalouk eggplant and tomato dip

Recipe: Zaalouk: Eggplant and Tomato Dip/Spread

10/30/2013

Yesterday I had some people over for lunch and one of the things we made was zaalouk, a traditional middle eastern eggplant and tomato dish. It has all but 5 ingredients (not including olive oil and a few spices) and is super easy to make. Feel free to be inspired and add any other types of herbs or spices you like!

Zaalouk Eggplant and Tomato Spread

Ingredients
1 eggplant
4 plum tomatoes*
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro depending on how much you like it
1/3 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs paprika
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne if you like some heat

Directions
1. Slice the eggplant in half the long way and roast it at 400 until it’s soft (about 30 minutes).
2. Separate the flesh of the eggplant from the skin and rough chop it.
3. Mince the garlic, chop the cilantro and dice the tomatoes.
4. Heat pan with the olive oil. Saute the garlic in the oil for a minute or so and then add the eggplant flesh (discard the skin… or compost it if you’re cool like that), the tomatoes, cilantro, spices and water. Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium.
5. Check on the pan every once in a while to make sure there is enough liquid, you can also stir it around and help mash it together. Leave it covered and cooking for 25-30 minutes.
6. After 25-30 minutes, take off the cover and continue to let the mixture simmer if it is too liquidy. Add lemon juice and any additional salt and pepper.

*I’ve had some people reach out who can’t eat tomatoes. If you’d like to try a version of this without tomatoes, use pureed roasted red peppers.

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sweet potato soup

Sweet Potato Soup

Last month I hosted a dinner party for my dearest girlfriends. One of the most popular recipes from the night was my simple sweet potato soup. I love this soup because it is creamy without any dairy, and the sweet potatoes are extra delicious and nutritious right now because they’re in season. This soup is rich enough that you could eat it on its own for a light dinner. It’s also vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free and has no added sugar. Delicious and good for you? That’s a win win! Stay tuned for more of my favorite recipes in my upcoming ebook, Loving Your Leftovers!

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

1 yellow onion, diced
1 tbs coconut oil
4 medium sized sweet potatoes, roasted or baked (about 4 cups)
1 tbsp ginger, minced
½ tsp garam masala spice mix
1 can coconut milk
2 cups water

  1. Heat oil in pot. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add minced ginger and cook additional 2 minutes
  3. Rough chop the sweet potatoes (you can leave the skin on) and add to the onion and ginger. Save time by baking a bunch of sweet potatoes in the beginning of the week and using them for different meals. You can also store them in the freezer.
  4. Add the coconut milk, water and garam masala*. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat.
  5. Cook for ten minutes on medium low heat.
  6. Blend the soup and adjust seasoning.

*garam masala is an Indian spice mix and happens to be one of my favorites. It usually has a mix of black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and clove. Every mix of garam masala is different, which makes it kinda exciting! Feel free to omit if you can’t find it, or just add a spice you like.

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