Posted by karen
karen's picture

Our summer berry season was very short this year - I missed the pleasure of picking them myself.

Except for the blueberries. Both my husband and I love picking berries. So far, we've each spent an afternoon at the Lunenburg County Winery, happily filling our pails off their acres of high bush blueberry bushes. We've "filled our faces", my freezer has several large Ziploc bags full, and I've made some raw berry "cheesecake" pies. The pie in the photo has half raspberries (purchased at the farmer's market) and half blueberries. This pie tastes delicious with one berry type or a combination of your choice.

Click → Printable recipe for Raw Berry "Cheesecake" Pie

Raw Berry “Cheesecake” Pie

 
The Crust:
1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight and drained
1 cup raw, flaked coconut
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of sea salt – to taste
 
The Filling:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp. extract)
about 1/4 cup water
pinch of sea salt
3 cups fresh berries – blueberries, raspberries or combination thereof
 
Instructions:
 
Place almonds in a food processor and process until almost fine. Add flaked coconut and process for a minute or so.
 
Add in the syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt. Process until everything is nicely incorporated.
 
Remove mixture from the bowl and press into the bottom and side of a 9-inch pie pan. Place in the freezer while you make the filling.
 
Place the cashews and about 1/4 cup water in the pitcher of a blender (or a food processor). Blend well, slowly add lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla and sea salt.
 
Blend until creamy. (May be necessary to add more water.)
 
Remove the crust from the freezer and pour in about half of the filling. Scatter about half of the berries on pie, then add the rest of the filling. Place remaining berries on top. 
 
Freeze for a few hours. Cover with plastic wrap and foil, if pie is going to be in the freezer for more than a day.
 
Before serving, remove pie from freezer and place in refrigerator for a couple hours. (This pie can also be eaten directly from the freezer, however, I found it difficult to cut using just a fork – pieces broke off, with some of the chunks “flying” off the plate. That's why I like to allow the pie to soften a bit before eating.)
 
(Thanks to Heather Bruggeman for her generosity in allowing me to share her recipe.)
 
I still need more berries to put away for winter smoothies, muffins - and raw pies. Our season should continue for another 3-4 weeks so we've got time to head back to the patch for more fun.  
 
What are your favourite berry recipes? 

K is for Kale

31 Aug 2012
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Following a long hiatus, this was my first year back into vegetable gardening. Last summer, we prepared the soil: adding lime to balance the pH, mixing in organic matter hauled in from a local farm, mixing in the "dirt" our composter produced from all our fresh produce scraps.
 
This initial year my garden plan was not too complicated. I planted plenty of garlic last fall, which grew well (it's pretty hard to mess up with garlic) and is now curing - hanging on hooks in the shed. Greens are an important part of my daily menu so chard, spinach, mustard greens, and kale were on my list. Carrots, beets, onions, potatoes (my first experience with potato beetles @##&$!!), squash, leeks, summer turnips - with tomatoes, one jalapeno plant, a few (prolific) cucumber plants and some herbs filling in the rest. 
 
Some vegetables produced better than others - due to the timing of planting, the amount of rain (I had to supplement with hand watering), and the care that was given to it (which was on the short side for the veggies - not to mention the weeds: apologies to my Mom, whose gardening example I couldn't follow).
 
The biggest rewards have been my tomatoes, the volunteer squash that grew from the composter dump, the herbs - and the kale, which just goes on and on.  
 
I try to have a green smoothie or salad every day - plus toss extra greens into sauces and other dishes. I still have kale left in my garden.
 
 
 
On the recommendation from Gisele, a good friend and cook extraordinaire, I am freezing it for future frostier days. I've tasted Gisele's green smoothies made with her frozen kale and am confident in encouraging you to try this too.
 

How to freeze kale.

Wash kale leaves carefully (those little green worms can easily hide) and remove as much water as possible in a lettuce spinner.
 
Place a piece of waxed paper about 12"X12" on the cupboard and cover with torn kale leaves. For the amount of smoothie I make, I use about 2 1/2 oz. of kale. 
 
 
Carefully tucking in the leaves, roll the wax paper up into a tube.
 
 
Place tube in a Ziplog freezer bag. Once your bag is full of kale "rolls", put into freezer.
 
 
Take out rolls as needed to use in smoothies (or soups, etc.).
 
 
Freeze your kale - forward your garden's goodness to cold weather nutrition.
 
 
 
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Salad meals take centre stage any time of the year -  and are top billing especially now with summer's bounty of garden greens and the cornucopia of fresh veggie toppings.

But don't stop there.

Make it a meal deal by adding cooked beans;  nuts and seeds; chunky fruit.

There is still something missing .... the dressing!!

This is what gives Eat This - Meal Salads & Whole Food Dressings "podium status" as compared to many other salad recipe books: Renee Tougas has included dressing recipes that bring nutritious satisfaction and delicious balance "to the plate."

 As a (w)holistic nutritionist I wholeheartedly recommend this product - as Renee's proud Mom, I am delighted to encourage my readers to buy this e-book. And as an affiliate I sincerely endorse this product; authentic to my philosphy and passion for real food nutrition.

Click at Fimby to purchase Eat This.  At $4.99 it's affordable to get one for yourself and a friend (know someone heading off to college?). These recipes have been successfully tested and tried for children too so don't forget the younger set in your circle of family and friends.

(P.S. there's non-salad recipes too - bonus!)

Salads and yummy dressings - you'll want Eat This... for your newest recipe resource.

Drink Up!!

23 Jul 2012
Posted by karen
karen's picture

No, I'm not on an extended vacation cycling through vineyards and staying at villas in Italy (though that's on my bucket list), nor am I picking and preserving heaps of berries (this winter I am so going to regret missing this year's short season, counting on getting the blueberries) - my house and routine has been "summerly" askew with: my son and family's extended visit, my valiant attempts to keep head and hand in Real Food Matters studying an In Balance weight loss and wellness program, dabbling in my garden, etc. etc. It's mostly all good -the reality is there ARE things about this stuff of living you can't say is ALL GOOD - and one of those presently for me is finding time and head-space to write. 

However - I'm here now so get to it!
 
 
From my office window I can see the new hummingbird feeder I recently attached to an adjacent window. (This post is not about whether or not you should provide food for these hummers, or any other wild life, for that matter...it's my choice to do so. And considering they need 8X their body weight of nectar/day I am happy to give them some help.) The sound of whirring wings moves my attention beyond the keyboard to view the very active feeding station. (One of the etc. on my above busy-life-list is keeping up a supply of my water/dissolved sugar solution - no red food colouring!). I know they also eat elsewhere, because there are times the container runs dry, but somehow they know when it's full again (no, they can't smell - they are directed only by their eyesight. Amazing.)
 
 
A hummingbirds' wings beat 3000X/minute - it's no surprise they need to drink so much - and though I have no idea how to extrapolate their exertion to our exercise/physical activity (especially on a hot summer's day), I do know we need to stay hydrated and replace the electrolytes lost through sweating. 
 
Commercially prepared sports drinks are mainly comprised of two ingredients: sugar and electrolytes (usually sodium and potassium). These help muscle contraction remain fluid, and reduce cramping. The downside, though, is that they are packed with artificial colours and flavours, and corn-based high fructose syrup or solids are the most common source of carbohydrate. There are natural ingredient sports drinks available, which are usually pricey - including one powder I tried that tasted so bad all I could think was "horse pee" - so my recommendation is to try some of these simple alternatives, given to me by an RHN colleague, Paulette Millis and others picked up from "here and there."
 
- pure coconut water
- mix half coconut milk (or coconut water) and Bolthouse Carrot Juice
- blend half water and half unsweetened fruit juice - add a pinch of organic sea salt (minerals of the sea are very similar to our own electrolyte composition in our blood - so a better option than table salt)
- chicken and vegetable broth (think winter post-workouts) 
- green tea, with optional additions - honey, sea salt
- blend hydrating foods, e.g. watermelon, cucumbers, honeydew, cantaloupe and other water-packed fruits and vegetables - with water and sea salt
 
-  For post-workout, blend this chocolate almond smoothie - (BrendanBrazier.com). Make ahead, chilled in fridge. Fresh is best - keeps up to 3 days.
    - 1 banana
    - 2 fresh or soaked dried dates
    - 1/4 cup raw almonds
    - 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
    - 1 Tbsp. hemp protein
    - 1 Tbsp. raw cacao nibs
    - 1/8. tsp sea salt (my addition)
 
 

Electrolyte Replacement Drink

 
1 quart water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 crushed calcium tablets (available from health food store)
 
Mix together and store in refrigerator. I recommend diluting it at least half and half with water. 
Drink is good foor during/after exercise, also for replacing electrolytes during fever with vomiting and/or diarrhea.
 
 
Do you have any sports drink favourites? I would like to hear how any of these options work for you.
Posted by karen
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Saturday night: we were sitting in a travel trailer belonging to friends of friends - having some "sustenance" a few hours prior to running our post-midnight stages of the Cabot Trail Relay Race.
 
"This is a different lunch," my husband remarked.
 
I was wondering how long it would be before he'd say something. I too thought it was atypical pre-race food but wasn't going to be the first to say so, as I had put the "meal" together.
 
- salad of greens and grated carrots and celery with a dressing I concocted from chia seeds mixed with water
- some apple slices dipped in peanut butter
- bread and a muffin with more peanut butter and strawberry jam
- water and a homemade granola bar for dessert.
 
Different - no?
 
I had to agree with him - but feeling comfortably satisfied - we crawled into bed to get some sleep before having to register at 1:00 A.M before my "ready-set-go" race time. Amazing - we zonked out for a couple hours - until our hydrated bodies woke us up. After getting up to relieve ourselves, I laid in bed an hour and a half, trying to relax. It was a fitful rest, between anxiety about not setting my watch alarm (my husband had assured me he'd wake up - he always does!) and reviewing what I'd eaten - or not eaten that day.
 
Pretty sure I had got it right, but the day's eating regime had been discombobulated, to say the least.
 
The day earlier, on Friday, we'd travelled to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, close to where the race started. We had brought our (sparsely stocked) cooler with us; I knew the options in restaurants and stores along the trail were going to be limited. That night we opted to join a community pre-race pasta supper - I chose the veggie sauce which was satisfactory - complete with salad and rolls with a dessert of ice cream and homemade brownies for those who so wished. All for $10.00.
 
Saturday breakfast we ate in our room:
- my homemade granola
- sliced bananas
- chia seeds
- organic soy milk.
 
Excellent. Before leaving Baddeck to join up  with the race that had already started, at a bakery we picked up a full-bodied cup of coffee (much better than what we brewed in our hotel room) and caved to the temptation of some other offerings - two morning glory muffins and a fruit-crisp sort of square for each of us. 
 
During the morning we shared a muffin, ate some homemade granola/power bars, peanuts and pistachios, and drank water as we cheered our teammates as they ground their way up and down the Cabot Trail mountains. At a little market I was able to buy ingredients to round out our lunch of:
 
- canned salmon
- wholewheat flatbreads and seed bread
- hard-boiled eggs
- a few carrot sticks and an apple
- a few bites of our fruit-desserts - I had been looking forward to my first rhubarb taste of the season, and though it was better than the bumble berry neither was as good as they looked. (Surprise, surprise.)
 
After our picnic, more cheering for our team on-the-move, then it was time to drive ahead and prepare for our turn to run. First another stop for supper food - eureka - we found salads in a bag! And more fruit and water. 
 
I have to interject here that there were restaurants along the route - I'm certain some options on the menu would have been acceptable. But we didn't feel ready to eat when we drove past one, and we've never run at 2:02 and 3:55 A.M. before - so knowing what to eat and when, and anticipating how our body rhythm-metabolism would be functioning, were all a mystery.
 
The "guest-room" holiday trailer was close to Cheticamp. N.S. where my leg started. It was about 6:30 P.M. when we rested for about an hour and then got up for the "different" lunch as described above. There was no period during the day that we ever felt really hungry - we just sort of grazed on food as the day progressed - and it was the same when we got up about 11:30 P.M. After getting into our gear before driving to the race start, we enjoyed a repeat of the morning's breakfast: granola, banana and soy milk. 
 
Stepping outside the trailer, I thought, "it's dark out here and I'm going to be running?!" Thankfully I could see a few stars, there was no wind, and the temperature a balmy plus 8C. Marvellous running weather. We had time to join the multitudes at the local Tim Horton's to pick up some caffeine before race registration and the start.
 
Now I just wanted to get on with it. 
 
I felt strong from the get-go. 
 
Judging my time and distance covered was challenging (the light on my aging basic sports watch doesn't work), but it helped that the water-aid stations were postitioned at the 5 and 10 km distances. After the second water stop I was familiar with the experience of running by the light of my headlamp - a.k.a. not so paranoid about wiping out - and felt I had lots of "jam" left. Time to push it up a couple notches for the last 8km. Shortly after the second water station I ate about a tablespoon's worth of one of my home made gels - and felt powered the whole way. 
 
There are so many contributing factors in a physical test like this. Sleep, the fuel I'd had on the days prior to the race, hydration, mental attitude - which was my real issue because the previous 24 hours had been anything but my normal race food routine - but everything had been right for that day.
 
The picture says it all. I had a great run. I am still so grateful.
 

The "different" lunch, and the eating "plan", was okay for my husband's run too - although his limited training showed up at the final 5km to say "hello - you're gonna have to pay now."

 
A celebration treat was in order. Once we were back home, the following rhubarb-strawberry crisp passed the taste treat we'd been looking for.
 

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp - with Almond Topping

 
4 cups diced rhubarb
1 1/2 cups thickly sliced strawberries
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
 
topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/4 cup whole cane sugar (or organic sugar)
1/4 cup softened virgin coconut oil (or organic butter)
1/2 - 3/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamon
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place all fruit mixture ingredients into medium-sized bowl and gently mix to combine. Place mixture into lightly greased 9x13-inch pan or round deep-dish pan (about 11-inches across).
 
Make the topping by placing all the ingredients into the bowl you just used for the fruit mixture and mix well until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over top of the fruit.
 
Bake in preheated oven 45-55 minutes (will depend on the size of the fruit chunks), until the juices are gurgling up nicely from the middle.
 
Serve with almond milk, a dollop of thick yogurt, or is good all on its own.
 
(Recipe can also be made using apples and cranberries, the original option from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.)
 
 

S is for Sprouts

13 Jun 2012
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Sprouts. What mental picture do you see? If it's the plastic box of (often sorry-soggy-looking) alfalfa sprouts sitting in the produce department of your local supermarket, I encourage you to explore the big "live food" world of sprouts.

Sprouted Seed FAQS

-  what makes them "live" is that their enzyme content is greater than in their original state

-  the sprouting process helps to predigest the seeds' nutrients. How? Starch is converted to simple sugars, protein is turned into amino acids and peptones, and crude fat is broken down into free fatty acids. Which means? Nutrients are more easily available and accessible for the body to use.

- germination (sprouting) increases: the B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K (triples!) and carotene

- sprouts are high in chlorophyll, boosting the body with oxygen and increased blood flow

Sprouting seeds yourself is definitely cheaper than purchasing them but I can't resist buying most of mine from Cindy, a farmer's market vendor who is as wonderfully organic as all her fine produce. I'm lucky if there's any of these pea shoots left in the bag by the time I get home.
 
 
I use a simple method of sprouting for my infrequent spurts of sprouting: using a quart jar that came with three plastic lids with different hole sizes. 
 
- use a large, very clean mason jar and place about 1 Tbsp. seeds in it. Then place over the top of the jar some clean netting (e.g. cheese cloth) and secure with an elastic band (or use lids with small holes if you can find them).
 
- add water, rinse and drain
 
- add 1 cup cool water and soak for 2-6 hours
 
- drain, refill jar with cool water and drain again.
 
- invert jar and prop at an angle in a bowl or dish
 
(here's two jars at different stages)
 
- make sure you rinse them every morning and evening and prop jar back in bowl
 
 
- enjoy in 3-6 days, store in refrigerator
 
- if possible use organic sprouting seeds: instructions should be on the package - follow carefully as they may vary for different seeds
 
 
I found a recipe sprout salad recipe that called for mung bean sprouts, which, alas, were all gone by the time I got to the market! However, Cindy suggested I do my own sprouts using lentils, which are easier to sprout than mung beans.
 
She was so right - and I loved the taste of them. 
 
Lentils are significantly bigger seeds than many other sprouting seeds, so I've included instructions. Allow about 72 hours from start to finish: they can become bitter if they're left to sprout too long.
 
- sort, wash and rinse 4 Tbsp. lentils, which will produce about 1 1/2 cups
 
- put lentils in a 1-quart size jar with sprout-strainer lid
 
- cover with 3-4 inches water and let soak overnight or 8-12 hours.
 
- drain, rinse and drain again - divide lentils into two jars to allow them space to sprout without being too close together
 
- every morning and evening rinse and drain lentils and set the jars on an angle - after about 72 hours they will be soft and have little white tails!
 

Lentil Sprout and Almond Salad

3/4 cup plain yogurt (thick well-drained yogurt is best, e.g. Greek-style)
1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 handful arugula, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup chives, minced
 
1 1/2 cups lentil sprouts
 
2/3 cup well-toasted, sliced almonds
1 ripe avocado, chopped
good extra virgin olive oil
 
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, salt, arugula, and chives. 
 
In a larger bowl toss the lentil sprouts and almonds with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the avocado, and gently toss once or twice more.
 
Serve the spouts and almonds next to the yogurt mixture and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. If you had a few chive flowers in your bunch, sprinkle them across the top.
 
Serves 2-4 as a very pretty, nutrient-dense side dish.
 
 

A New Nickname

05 Jun 2012
Posted by karen
karen's picture

A couple weeks ago my husband and I joined about 20 other people for a weekend cycling trip around Masstown, N.S. Our accommodations were at the "hub of the wheel" from where we started each day's ride. Spectacular weather - a bonus at any time of year but especially in May - awesome scenery, and meeting new friends of "like activity" were components to the perfect launch for our cycling season.

Coming home with a new nickname was a surprise freebie. 
 
Eating (and drinking) is energetically linked to long distance cycling (our days were from 70 - 130 kilometres/day) so naturally the focus on fuel (food) is big. Our paniers were stuffed with trail mix, fruit, homemade fig bars and raw peanut butter cookies, water - and on the first day, tuna sandwiches and carrot sticks for our picnic lunch. Foodie that I am, I'm always keen on what people eat - and listening for what will be their treat for the end of the ride. Could be chips and a cold beer, for others a fresh cinnamon bun, or a double-scoop ice cream cone. Or a combination thereof!  My treat choice is usually salty - nachos, pistachios - with an apple or banana, then lots of water to rehydrate before opening a cool "anything" - unless I want to end up with a dull headache. 
 
On day two we linked up with a couple cyclists compatible with our pace and personality. A fantastic ride - rolling hills along quiet roads, wild enough country for a black bear sow and two cubs to feel at home. Terry had brought her standard lunch along - the rest of us decided to "eat out". A certain Big Al's was getting a lot of pull because of their "best pies in the land" but my husband and Dean obliged my request that we check out a "revived" railroad dining car. 
Perfect. The guys enjoyed their smoked meat on rye sandwiches and my chicken and veggie quesadilla was "yummyliscious" - the salty goat cheese just hit the spot.
 
Here's where my two road-and-lunch mates fell off the rails. They had polished off their lunches - plus what was left of mine - all the while contributing to our conversation about the benefits of healthy food choices, including eliminating sugar. With this disclaimer: if you do indulge in a treat, it should be worth it in taste and quality.
 
"Do you think Big Al's pies are really as good as they claim to be?"
 
 
The pie was scarfed down in record time - I helped with a taste of each. My husband loves lemon (anything) and the other kind was coconut cream. My idea of pie is fruit-something but according to these two taste-testers, the indulgence lived up to the restaurant's claim. 
 
By this time it's 3:00 and we're still on our lunch break!! And we've got 50-plus kilometres to pedal.
 
We weren't ten minutes on the road and the guys were feeling awful - groaning and questioning whatever possessed them to eat pie on a full stomach with miles left to ride on a bike! No sympathy from me - but a lot of  "what did you expect?!" - and I was branded with my new name.
 
Miss Healthy Pants.
 
My husband and our new-found friend were vowing never to eat pie again - well, at least not for lunch during a long bike ride. I was feeling fresh, showing and telling them I felt absolutely wonderful and ready to rock. Which I did.
 
Of course my lead was short-lived - they eventually worked through the discomfort of the combined fats and sugar's delayed digestion - and then Miss Healthy Pants was cycling hard again to keep up. 
 
I love being a nutrition nut - but I don't aspire to be a nutrition snob
This whole pie affair was in great fun. But at the end of the day, my goal is to encourage people to make healthy changes by sharing nutritious food facts, the consequences of poor nutrition, and that the choice is up to us. It's your body!!
 
In all fairness, my cycling buddies are generally healthy eaters (I think they're aiming for the 80% good -- 20% not-as-good rule). They liked these fig bars. Check.
 

Fig and Pumpkin Seed Snack Bars 

(the extra step of chilling the dough in the freezer before baking helps these bars hold together - excellent travellers for camping, cycling, work lunches, etc.)
 
4 Tbsp. ground flaxseed, divided
3 Tbsp. warm water
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup organic millet puffs  (or puffed rice)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup figs, very finely chopped ( I used Calimyrna figs)
1/3 cup currants
1/ 4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond butter
2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
 
Line an 8x8 baking dish with plastic wrap. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 Tbsp of the flaxseed with the warm water. Set aside.
 
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the remaining 3 Tbsp flaxseed with the pumpkin seeds, millet cereal, buckwheat, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Process until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the figs and currants.
 
With an electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the almond butter, almond milk, maple syrup, vinegar, and reserved flaxseed slurry until smooth. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
 
Using slightly wet hands, press the dough evenly into the plastic-lined baking dish. Freeze for 30 minutes.
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lift the dough out of the pan using the plastic wrap. Cut the dough into bars. Place the bars 1-2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-18 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.
 
 

I kind of like my new nick name.  You never know - Miss Healthy Pants may show up in future Q&A phone-in shows, as a newsletter title or a cookbook - or any other ideas out there?

 

Posted by karen
karen's picture

I haven't made lasagna for ages (probably years) - and not because it calls for a lengthy preparation time, but I've been reducing my refined grain consumption (i.e. pasta).

Then I came across the following recipe using polenta; both my husband and I loved it. Holds together very well, is also delicious the next day - even cold as a take along lunch. You don't have to make your own polenta but it's quite quick and simple - I didn't have any of the packaged kind on hand and I also wanted to make sure the corn was organic.

Easy Polenta

Can be served with fish, chicken or a rich tomato/veggie sauce. 
 
3 cups water 
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil or butter
1 cup polenta (ground cornmeal) – 2/3 cup fine grind, 1/3 cup med-coarse grind 
(organic cornmeal is recommended, as most corn grown is genetically modified) 
Preheat oven to 350F.
 
In 3-qt. pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add salt and oil. Slowly add polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk. Lower heat and continue to stir for 10-15 minutes with a wooden spoon. If desired, stir in additional options for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
 
optional additions:
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil (swab with paper towel before chopping)
 
Spread into a greased 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (depending on pan size) or until tester comes out clean. Let cool 5-10  mins. before serving
 
Other ways to use this polenta recipe:
- a double batch can be levelled out in a greased 9x13 pan to be used as  gluten-free pizza crust or as the bottom "bun" for burgers. For pizza, simply top the cooked polenta with pizza sauce, your favourite sauteed veggies and some cheese (opt). Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until everything is heated through. For open-faced burgers, cut polenta into squares and use as the base for burger and choice of toppings. If polenta is thicker than what you like for these dishes, spread in a larger pan and adjust cooking times.
 
 
(original recipe credits to www.WholeLifeNutrition.net)
 

Polenta Lasagna with Portabellas and Greens

Ingredients:
1 18-oz package prepared polenta or homemade
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 medium-sized portabella mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups, chopped)
4 cloves garlic, minced or diced
8 cups washed, bite-sized pieced spinach, kale or other greens
1-2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. herbamare
fresh-ground pepper
 
"Cheese" sauce:
1/2 cup extra-firm silken tofu (soft worked fine for me too)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste) 
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. tapioca starch (or corn starch)
 
1 1/4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or spaghetti sauce in a jar works fine)
1/4-1/3 cup pitted and sliced olives - green, kalamata, etc.
parmesan cheese (optional)
 
Instructions:
 
Put cheese sauce ingredients into blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
Saute onions and portabellas in a non-stick skillet until mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the garlic and saute on low heat for another minute. Add the greens, basil and 1/4 cup water. Saute until the greens are wilted and tender and the water has evaporated. Add the cheese sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper or herbs if needed.
Remove from heat.
 
 
Preheat oven to 375F.
Spray bottom and sides of 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.(If using homemade polenta from recipe above, "build" the lasagna in the same size dish.)
If using purchased polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Line the bottom of the baking dish with half of the slices, overlapping slightly if possible. (If using polenta recipe above, remove from pan and carefully slice the whole thing through the middle, and put the bottom layer back into the pan.)
 
Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the polenta, then spread on the greens mixture on top of that. 
Sprinkle the chopped olives over the greens and top with the remaining polenta.
Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated parmesan, if using.
Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5- 10 minutes before serving.
 
 
(Note: this is gluten-free, but if preparing this dish for guests I recommend confirming ahead of time regarding corn allergies.)

runner on the rebound

08 May 2012
Posted by karen
karen's picture

"What's changed, Mom?"

This was my daughter's question last year as I did my cool-down stretches and slurped water after my morning run. Renee could see I was flushed from pumping up the driveway, exhilarated with oxygen recovery - happiness smeared all over my sweaty face.
 
It had been many months since I was (practically) painfree while running, my fitness "love affair" of fifteen years.
Niggling pain in my sacroiliac (SI) joint and a tight lower back and hamstrings were the main symptoms that not only hampered my physical activity but messed with my sleep. Two years prior to this enforced "detour" I'd had a "buff and polish" (arthroscopy) on my left knee resulting from an injury, wear-and-tear, overuse, and?! - but I resolved not to give up. The expanded story will be part 2 and maybe 3 or more to this series.
 

First I'm sharing how I arrived at the present outcome: how "a little bit of a whole lot" factored in for my rebound.

 
Honestly?  It was like months of  a hilly rabbit trail "run."  Flip-flopping from submitting to my "cratering" body or questioning God why my body was betraying me - to fighting back to dig as deep as I ever had in my racing days when I was "so done" before reaching the finish line. 
 
It really was a matter of seeking for the proverbial "needle in the haystack" (what didn't I try!?) -  a lengthy list I logged in my journal. To be clear, over the period of about 18 months, I was receiving one, maybe two, of these treatments at one time, spacing them out as finances and mental will could afford.  
 
Yoga - how much flexibiltiy is in a tight rope? That was me, my routine still includes stretching after exercising.
 
Chiropractor - both "traditional" and NUCCA
 
MELT - a self-"massage" treatment using a foam roller (I took a few classes, bought the roller and use it a few days/week)
 
Massage - mostly deep tissue release, which is not a pleasant "touchy-feely" experience, but can/did help alleviate some muscle knots
 
 
Physio - a new-to-me technique using ropes 
 
Pilates - a single one-on-one session
 
Acupuncture - I was unfamiliar (read skeptical!) about this but my first treatment with Dr. Connolly completely changed my thinking. Since then I've had many sessions with Jason Lomond, occupational therapist (OT) who specializes in neurofunctional acupuncture especially for athletes - and lives in my community. Perhaps it's due to being the most recent, but of any one treatment, this (including manipulative muscle work) has appeared to be the most effective. 
 
Minimalist shoes - the founder and editor of Toe Salad (who happens to be my son-in-law), switched to minimalist footwear several years ago and his example and conversion helped me to finally  "see the light". Merrell Pace Gloves are what I'm using now - love 'em.
I am convinced this is the on-going most significant contributing factor to my rebound.
(Unfortunately no free shoes or other Merrell products for this endorsement!)
 
 
In reality, all of the above contributed to the "what changed."
 

There were constants from my life/running history that I carried into this "marathon."

 
nutrition - for the last five years I've significantly adjusted my diet to more veggies and fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds and minimal animal protein. Having our vegan family live with us for six months last year was a huge support to this menu plan - my body loved it.  
 
setting a goal - as the months went by and I could gradually add on mileage without suffering for it after, I took a leap of faith and registered for a half marathon. To "train with my brain" and finish the race was the plan - and I was going to enjoy the trip, without painkillers. October 16 was my version of  "the amazing race" - a gift -  thanks to training, God's help, guts to go for it.....(The same medals were given to finishers in both the full marathon and the half.)
 
 
thankfulness  - to God for life and the strength and desire to be a (wacky) runner
 
perseverance - before I got my Merrells I wiped out on the paved road by our house. Frontal splat. By the grace of God, with herbal poultices (my daughter's initiative), a quick acupuncture treatment (thanks, Jason), an afternoon of rest and recovery, the only reminder is a scar on my right knee. Stubborn, persevering, whatever you want to call it, you gotta have it if you're going to get to any finish line. 
 
I'm still a happy runner but I'm on a quest - to truly live the truth that my joy of living won't be based only on the ups and downs of my physical body (and I have to admit this is more difficult than running intervals or going for an endurance run).
 
My rebound is a gift returned, to be treated with respect and perspective.
 
I am happy and I'm still running.
 
 
Are there any changes - invited or otherwise - that are helping you reach your heart's desires?
 
 
 
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Healthy gluten-free eating has been on my radar screen the last few weeks, so it was no surprise that the buckwheat noodles caught my attention on this recipe from jodyhorton.com. As a rule - contrary to what my "runner" mind previously thought was key for athletic performance - I presently don't eat a lot of pasta (go ahead and ask why but that's for another post). However, last Tuesday my prep time was limited, I needed a make-ahead dish for a late supper - and though my fridge harboured few of the salad ingredients, I could pull off the dressing.

Sauces, dressings - that part of my menu sometimes breaks down. Not because there aren't healthy options but some of them are as complicated and time-consuming as the main event. It's for good reason that professional chefs work so hard at developing their secret sauces - that's what defines their signature dishes.
 
 And for the rest of us - I think a good sauce can make the difference between a ho-hum dish and one that makes it a regular "go-to." 
 
 

Buckwheat Noodles, Broccoli and Mushrooms with Toasted Sesame-Lime Dressing (my version)

1 package (about 8 oz) buckwheat soba noodles, cooked to al dente, drained and rinsed well in cold water
broccoli florets (about  3 cups) lightly blanched and rinsed
1 red pepper sliced and 1- 2 cups sliced mushrooms - lightly sauteed in wee bit of coconut oil
3 green onions, sliced on diagonal
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
handful of fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (mine were raw peanuts that I toasted in cast iron pan)
 
As soon as noodles are cooked, drained and rinsed, place into bottom of salad bowl and spread around a bit so they don't stick together - as buckwheat noodles tend to do. Cut noodles up slightly using fork and knife - not into pieces too small, just to make it manageable.
As other ingredients are prepared, add them to the bowl with the noodles, saving some of the peanuts and parsley for garnish.
 
Make dressing:
 
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (lemon juice would be an acceptable substitute)
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. "rooster" chile sauce or your choice of hot sauce 
2 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
2 Tbsp. (gluten-free) tamari sauce
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
 
Put all ingredients into small jar with tight-fitting lid and shake until well blended. Adjust seasonings to taste. 
Add to salad, mix well without mushing, and refrigerate until ready to serve - don't forget to add the garnish later (like me:)
 
To complete the meal we grilled a salmon fillet in coconut oil with salt and pepper - the same could be done with a chicken breast. This dish would also go well with marinated, then quick-fry tofu chunks.
 
This one is a "keeper". We loved this recipe - the dressing was well-balanced with a zing we both appreciate. I might even make the "original" recipe one day but  I can see many variations of it in my future.
 
What's your "keeper" sauce?

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