STAY FIT – EVEN WHEN THE GRAY SKIES HAVE YOU LESS THAN MOTIVATED

Our moods and motivation can be effected by the sky.  Having limited sunlight, especially during the winter months when temperature is a factor as well, can leave us less than motivated to go outside and exercise.  It can also leave us craving our comfort foods.  Limited amounts of sunlight can lower serotonin levels (our feel good hormone) in the brain and cause us to grab a blanket and a warm bowl of something starchy to make us feel good again.  Beans are a great food to prepare to satisfy that feeling.

Beans can provide those starchy carbs in addition to satiating protein and filling fiber (1 cup = 12 grams). It was found by the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey that people who ate beans weighed on average seven pounds less than people who did not.

Bountiful Bean Soup

1 bag mixed beans

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 chopped onion

2 cans chopped tomatoes (with juice)

2 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic

4 cartons vegetable stock (reserve 1 carton)

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt to taste

Crock Pot Version:

Place all ingredients EXCEPT one of the cartons of vegetable stock into the crock pot.  Put on the lid. Check soup periodically toward the last quarter of cooking time and add the additional stock as needed.

Overnight Version:

Soak beans overnight. Drain the beans and put all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour.

Super Quick Version:

Use a variety of canned beans. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery in olive oil until tender.  Add the drained and rinsed cans of beans and broth.  Add bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 15-20 min.

With love and sunny skies – Andrea

sa·ti·ate http://img.tfd.com/m/sound.swf (ssht)

tr.v. sa·ti·at·edsa·ti·at·ingsa·ti·ates

1. To satisfy (an appetite or desire) fully.
2. To satisfy to excess.
adj. (-t)

Filled to satisfaction.
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Shopping at the Asian market

Yesterday Henry and I made a trip to the local Asian market in preparation for our Chinese New Year’s celebration last night.   Although I strongly recommend buying local whenever possible, sometimes a trip to the farmer’s market just doesn’t fit in the schedule.  I was so impressed with the produce yesterday that I thought it was worth a mention.  If you have an Asian market in your area you may want to check it out.  Ask where they are getting their produce, maybe they are buying from a local farmer, in which case you can save a bundle and help out the farmers in your area all at the same time.

The baby bok choy (pictured above) was the freshest and most tender I’ve ever seen.  It was also HALF the price of what I normally pay!   The watercress was also much cheaper..in fact, every item I looked at was priced lower than I regularly pay.  Henry enjoyed checking out all of the unique candies and treats and the atmosphere was so fun and festive.

Why should you be eating bok choy?  Well, bok choy, or chinese cabbage, has specific cancer fighting properties.  Studies show that people who consume any type of cabbage regularly have less incidents of colon, lung, prostate, and endometrial cancers.  Rich in vitamins and carotenoids (great for eye health), one little cup of shredded cabbage contains half of our daily requirement for vitamins A, C, and K.  Now that’s food worth eating!

I love raw baby bok choy cut into strips in my salad.  Here is a very simple but delicious way to prepare baby bok choy if you’d like to try it cooked…

Sautéed baby bok choy

1 T butter or olive oil

1-2 cloves chopped garlic

1.5 c veggie broth

8-10 heads of baby bok choy ( if they are bigger than 2 fingers in width, use 4 or 5 and slice them in half )

Here’s what you do…

Wash well under cold water, remove any damaged outer leaves, pat dry

Heat oil in large pan, add garlic and saute for 1 minute, add broth and bok choy and cook for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Turn occasionally for even cooking.  Enjoy!   (Make this recipe but add a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds at the very end to change it up a bit!)

Peace and greens,

Melissa

Watercress and Fennel Salad with Tuna

What’s more important than eliminating the bad foods from your plate?  Adding in the good ones!  We can eat something that makes us feel gross or great and this salad makes me feel great! I love this watercress and fennel salad not only for its fresh taste but also the way my body feels after I eat it.  I feel well nourished, energized and ready to take on the rest of my day. Watercress is a small tender leaf with a light peppery taste and has been long known to have medicinal qualities.  In fact, Hippocrates, “The Father of Western Medicine”, had such a strong belief in its healing powers that he built his first hospital next to a stream so he could grow watercress to use to treat his patients. Watercress has anti-cancer and anti-inflamatory properties, is high in vitamin C, is high in lutein and zeaxanthin (great for eye health), has been shown to alleviate eczema and is a blood cleaner.

Fennel is a pungent crisp vegetable with a sweet flavor and a hint of anise.  Fennel promotes energy circulation, increases your metabolic rate and is a great source of vitamin C, niacin, calcium, magnesium and iron.

This salad is quick and easy to make.  For those of you that are following along with the 21 day “Clean”, this salad fits the bill.  I hope you like it.

Watercress and Fennel Salad with Tuna

1 bulb fennel cored and thinly sliced

1 bunch watercress roughly chopped

1 can solid albacore tuna (I have also used grilled tuna, yum!)

1-2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives

1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Place clean chopped veggies in a bowl. Drain tuna, chunk apart and add to bowl with the olives. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice over top of your salad (both halves if you prefer more of a citrus flavor). Add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good toss and enjoy!

Make it Matter . -Andrea

Below is a link to a quick video demonstrating how to cut your fennel bulb.

http://youtu.be/E8pxI6IWkZ0?t=1s

Clean Curried Coconut Carrot Soup

Day 7 of the Clean!  One week down I am happy to say!  Feeling really good which reminds me of why I challenge myself to do this every so often..it truly does work to kill the sugar cravings, renew your energy, and give some thought to what I am putting in my body.  Eating to live, as opposed to living to eat, is a very good thing!

I found this clean curried coconut carrot soup recipe on the Kitchn blog and we had it for dinner instead of a smoothie.  On really chilly nights it is a welcome substitute for an icy drink.  I didn’t want all the extra calories of full fat coconut milk so I used the canned light coconut milk with no additives, just coconut milk and water, from Trader Joe’s.  This was too spicy for my kids so the next time I will use less pepper flakes.  Simple and delicious!

Clean Curried Coconut Carrot Soup

2 T coconut oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

6 cups shopped carrots

3 1/2 c vegetable broth

1 15 oz can light coconut milk

1 1/2 T fresh chopped ginger

1 T curry powder

1/2 t pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot, add onions.  Sweat the onions for 5-7 minutes.  Add carrots and cook about 5 minutes more. Pour in stock and coconut milk.  Add ginger, curry powder, and chili flakes.  Put a lid on the pot and continue cooking on low about 15 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

When carrots are soft, allow to cool a bit and then puree in blender (be sure to put a towel over the lid and hold down firmly) or use immersion blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with more herbs or sunflower seeds if desired.

  So, are any of you out there coming up with some recipes you’d like to share? We want to hear from you!

Peace and greens,

Melissa

 

Is Something Bugging You?

Sometimes, just by the process of elimination we can make a new discovery.  Is something bugging you? Are you always sniffling, have stomach aches, head aches, feel bloated, feel tired even after a good nights rest? These are just a few symptoms  you can have if you are eating food that is not agreeing with you.  You may be having internal battles with food and don’t even realize it.  Below is a list of the foods that are and are not allowed on the “Clean” that Melissa and I are doing.  Even if you are not following along with us, I challenge you to eliminate just one of the items below in the red text and monitor yourself for one week to see if you feel any different.  You may realize that wheat makes you feel bloated but you never really liked it anyway.  You just discovered how to let yourself feel better.  If you decide not to eliminate a certain food from your diet for good after making any new discovery, at least you will know what the culprit is and will be willing to suffer the consequences. Because lets face it, sometimes it’s just too good to resist.

Make it Matter. – Andrea

Fruits: whole fruits, unsweetened, frozen or water-packed, diluted natural juices Oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, banana
Rice, oat and nut milks such as almond milk and coconut milk Dairy and eggs, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, non dairy creamers
Non-gluten grains and starch: brown rice , millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat Wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, couscous, oats
Animal Protein: cold water fish, chicken, turkey Raw fish, pork, beef, veal, sausage, cold cuts, canned meats, hot dogs, shellfish
Vegetable Protein: split peas, lentils, legumes Soybean products (soy sauce, soybean oil in processed foods, tempeh, tofu, soy milk
Nuts and Seeds: sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, walnuts Peanuts, peanut butter, pistachios, macadamia nuts
Vegetables: preferably fresh, raw, steamed, sautéed, juiced or roasted Corn, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers
Oils: cold pressed olive, flax, safflower, sesame, almond, sunflower, canola, pumpkin, walnut Butter, margarine, shortening, processed oils, processed salad dressing, mayonnaise
Drinks: water, green tea, herbal teas, seltzer, mineral water, yerba mate Alcohol, coffee, caffeinated beverages, soda
Sweeteners: brown rice syrup, agave syrup, stevia Refined sugar, white or brown, honey, maple syrup, hfcs, evaporated cane juice
Condiments: vinegar, all spices, sea salt, pepper, basil, carob, cinnamon, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, turmeric, thyme Chocolate, ketchup, relish, chutney, soy sauce, bbq sauce, teriyaki

Clean eating over the weekend..

..is harder!  Not impossible, but just harder.  All the kids home, everyone wanting to eat out somewhere yummy. Not fun saying no, but we managed.  It ended up being a cold and drizzly weekend spent inside playing board games, the wii, and reading. Actually really fun and relaxing, and cheap!

Both my husband and I are feeling pretty good eating this way. I will say that we had forgotten how COLD we get when doing the Clean in the winter so we have been drinking lots of hot tea.  I made a delicious green tea latte.  Just make a cup of decaf green tea (only 1 c of hot water to one tea bag), let it steep for a couple of minutes while you heat up a 1 c of vanilla almond milk. Pour milk into teacup and add 1 t of agave syrup and 1 t of vanilla.  Use a latte wand or blender to whisk until foamy. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve. I loved it!

Lunch on Sunday was one of the best Clean recipes I have found.  I adapted it from one I found on the Kitchn blog.  We absolutely loved this dish and will be making it again and again. I can’t wait to try it after the Clean with some shrimp added in!  I omitted the sun-dried tomatoes and used chipotle red pepper flakes instead of a chili pepper. It was super spicy and full of flavor!  Not to mention warm and filling on a brisk day. Love, love, loved it!

Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas (adapted for the Clean)

2 t olive oil

1 small yellow onion

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 lb baby spinach

15 oz can light coconut milk

1 t ground ginger

sea salt and pepper

Whole roasted sweet potatoes

Heat oil in large deep dutch oven or saute pan.  Add onion, cook about 5 minutes until browning, add garlic, ginger, lemon zest, and pepper flakes.  Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes until they are getting golden and coated with onion mixture.

Toss in spinach in large handfuls, one at a time, until spinach has wilted and you can fit it all in the pan. This will take about 5 minutes. Then add the coconut milk, ground ginger, lemon juice and zest.  Bring to a simmer, turn down heat and cook for about 10 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Split sweet potatoes down the middle and cover with this deliciousness! 

This recipe makes enough for 4 servings.  You could also serve over quinoa or brown rice but the contrast of the sweet against the spicy is what really makes it outstanding:)

Getting Focused So I Can Get Focused

I just need a “quick fix instant focus treatment” so I can work on getting focused with the “Clean”.  Things have been a little more than crazy at my house between wrapping up the holiday season,   a couple of birthdays, 2 of my  kids are tracked out for the month and one back to school and a crazy new transition/implementation at work (which I do from home).  I wish someone could come and zap my brain so I can get a little more tuned in on my clean “plan” so I don’t feel so unorganized. I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of clean food without first putting together my menu for the week.  I was really excited to get started but without a plan I just have a fridge and pantry full of healthy food (which isn’t a bad thing!)

Cleaning is a little different this year than the prior 3 because not only are my husband and I doing the “Clean” but my 12-year-old son is as well.  I have changed it a little bit for him because of his age.  So, he gets a smoothie with a “clean” breakfast while I pack him a “clean” lunch to take to school and then he has a “clean” dinner.  He is basically doing the elimination diet and adding more smoothies for 3 weeks.

My husband and I both work from home so when we are on the clean I will cook lunch for the both of us and make enough so that the kids can have it for dinner that same night.  Then I freshen the meal up with a veggie, some pasta or salad because who wants to cook 2 big meals everyday?  It also works in reverse, last night I made Beans and Greens for dinner so my husband and I will have that for lunch today.  Like I said, I need to get a little more tuned in but I actually feel better already after writing this post.  I do have a lot going on right now and all things considered I am doing O.K and it is only day 3.  This is what I have had so far:

DAY ONE:

CARROT, APPLE, SPINACH SMOOTHIE

ARUGULA SALAD WITH AVOCADO, KALAMATA OLIVES, RED ONION, EVOO, LEMON JUICE, SEA SALT AND LOTS OF PEPPER

CARROTS AND HUMMUS

HAND FULL OF ALMOND, SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND PUMPKIN SEEDS

GREEN SMOOTHIE

LOTS OF WATER, DECAF. GREEN TEA, YARBA MATE CHIA TEA

DAY TWO:

VERY BERRY SMOOTHIE

PUMPKINS SEEDS

WHOLE FOODS SALAD BAR ( I TRIED EVERYTHING ON IT THAT WAS CLEAN)

BEANS AND GREENS (I ATE A SOLID DINNER LAST NIGHT.  GIRLS HAD SOCCER, HOME LATE, QUICK DINNER)

LEMON WATER, MANGO COCONUT WATER, DECAF. GREEN TEA, SODA WATER WITH A SPLASH OF BLUEBERRY POMEGRANATE JUICE

The following recipes can be found on this site:

Beans and Green- soup

Very Berry Smoothie – smoothie

Arugula Salad – you guessed it!

DAY THREE:

GREEN SMOOTHIE

Currently in my fridge/pantry: Organic Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts, Portobello Mushroom Caps, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Apples, Spinach, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stock

I will keep you posted on what becomes of it as I play “Clean Iron Chef” for the next couple days. Next week I will be armed with a grocery list AND a menu.

KEEP IT REAL! – ANDREA