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Archive for the ‘General nutrition’ Category

Well, hi there.

It’s been nearly a year since I last blogged, although if you follow me on Instagram (@eatwellwithmoira) you will see that I’m still posting photos of food and bits of life. Without getting into all the yucky details, I want to share that last year was the most stressful and challenging year of my life for emotional and logistical reasons, luckily not for health reasons.

One message that kept coming into my head, after suddenly finding myself without my partner of 20 years, and raising my two children on my own, was the age-old expression: If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Okay, seriously now… When life truly gives you lemons, those lemons usually sit in your fruit basket rotting, because for at least a brief while, you are so lost or panicked dealing with the new paradigm and day-to-day demands, that lemonade is the last thing on your mind.

Once I’d made it through the roughest patch, I thought about starting to share some recipes, and essentially just picking up where I left off without any explanation. But that’s not me… I don’t just pretend everything is rosy when it’s bleak, or pretend I’m feeling positive when I’m really feeling sad, angry or frightened. And although I’m through the worst of it, I think there’s a lot more value in me sharing my experience in an honest, straightforward way. For the vast majority of us, our lives don’t always go as planned. Some of us handle things better than others. Some of us learn to handle challenges better over time. Some of us may always be challenged.

Just when I started seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and a clear path forward, COVID-19 arrived. The impact to work, my children, etc. resulting from the pandemic, has added to the stress I’m still dealing with in my new life paradigm, while working more hours, sorting out my finances and raising two children on my own. I experienced a brief, this can’t be happening now moment, and for a split second I wanted to throw up my hands, throw myself face down on the sofa, and later, move to a remote corner of the globe.

Instead, it made me think I want to share my situation with friends and followers. I want you to know I’ve endured a lot of pain and uncertainty, but I recognize many people are going through what I am, and that whatever pain and uncertainty are relative. Millions of people around the world aren’t just struggling with a new paradigm; they literally fighting every day for their very existence. Even people who, like me, enjoy a safe and comfortable life are now enduring added stress and uncertainty, and many are experiencing the pain of losing loved ones to complications from the virus. We are all stressed by the pandemic, and these are seriously difficult times for many people. But now is the time, more than ever, for us to have compassion for others. It’s also the time to share information about health–not just healthy eating and cooking but emotional health, and to share delicious, fun recipes. Let’s be honest, most of us are spending a lot more time at home, not eating out at all or eating out far less, and we’re cut off from the face-to-face social interactions that play a key role in our emotional well being. More and more research is showing the connection between emotional health and physical health, so I would like to share information on what you can do to stay healthy, incorporating what has worked for me over the past year.

What are the basics to trying to stay healthy during this time?

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense diet. Yes, I have upped my intake of Vitamin C (and D3 on the days I can’t get outside or its cloudy), and I have my arsenal of propolis (general immune booster) and Enzyme Defense (attacks proteins in a virus) at the ready, but nothing can replace a nutrient-dense, balanced diet. Of course, many of us are craving carbs and carb-laden comfort foods because we’re stressed, but those only aggravate our health and wreak havoc on our hormone and immune systems, so try to limit them to an occasional treat.
  2. Get a good night of sleep–7 to 8 hours. I admit, I’ve binge-watched some Netflix and Prime Video series just to keep my mind off other things, but I also admit I feel the knockdown effects of too little sleep and less-than-relaxing plot lines the next day.
  3. Wear a mask. All the reports said not to at the start of the outbreak, and that was likely to prevent people from hoarding them, but now we know one of the reasons Japan has handled the crisis better than others is because 80 percent of Japan’s population is wearing a mask. From what I’ve been reading, while the N95 masks are the best, even surgical or homemade masks provide some protection.
  4. Don’t touch your face and wash your hands throughout the day–really wash them for 20-30 seconds with soap.
  5. Move your body. Exercise boosts your mood, lowers stress levels and improves your sleep. Make sure you are getting at least 40 minutes of exercise at least four days a week. It doesn’t need to be 40 consecutive minutes, and there are many great online sources supplying workouts you can easily do at home. (I just tried a great one from Tracy Anderson Instagrammed by Goop this Wednesday!) Simple exercises you can do at home even if you don’t have weights or benches include pushups, planks, sit-ups, mountain climbers, leg lifts and wall chairs.
  6. Manage your stress. People have been telling me to manage my stress for years, and aside from the stress-reducing aspect of physical exercise, I have ignored them for years to my detriment. There are countless ways to help manage stress these days, and most of them are simple, easy to learn and free.
    • Introduce a simple intentional breathing exercise into your day–closing your eyes, slowing down and deepening your breath, holding your breath after you inhale, and observing your breath. It might take a few tries to get the right rhythm, but once you do, you’ll find it incredibly relaxing.
    • Take a few minutes each morning to acknowledge or write down what you’re grateful for. I had implemented a gratitude practice with my kids at dinnertime, but from what I’m reading, the greatest benefit comes when you do this in the morning or at whatever represents the start of your day. Once again, science is proving that a gratitude practice will make you a happier person.
    • Introduce mindfulness into your life. Having never previously taken the time to understand and develop a practice of mindfulness, even during my personal chaos last year, the added stress from the pandemic was the push I needed. I’m currently reading a wonderful, practical book by a professor friend, Dr Shauna Shapiro, called “Good Morning, I Love You.” I think it speaks to everyone regardless of his or her unique life experiences, and Shapiro shares valuable insights and practical tools for helping you use mindfulness to improve your outlook on life and how you navigate through it.
    • Meditate–whether it’s a simple quieting of the mind and focus inward or something more official like transcendental meditation, the benefits are proven and the time well spent. There are many free sources for guided meditations online if you don’t know where to start and can’t take a physical class due to current social distancing measures.

Look for other simple ways to make your current experience easier or more joyful. For example, the Shelter order in California hasn’t stopped the construction workers coming who are completely renovating the home next door to mine and my home office. After trying to juggle homeschooling and work against a background of hammering and belt-sanding (think unrelenting dentist’s drill), I invested in a pair of noise canceling headphones. They don’t block all the noise, but they definitely add a measure of quiet and peace that allows me to be more productive and feel more calm.

I also took up painting again. It’s a mental expression through physical work, and incredibly rewarding for me. Find something old or new and/or creative to do that you enjoy and that takes your mind off of work, the kids, the pandemic, etc.

Involve your kids in cooking–either in helping prepare meals or just cooking fun healthy treats. Savor the extra face time you have with family members, and be mindful that this difficult time affects people differently. As I’m always saying to my kids, “live your life with kindness and compassion.”

Here’s to your health–emotional and physical!

 

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This post is to share one of my favorite green smoothie drinks, but first, I want to report back on another morning ritual drink I’ve incorporated into my life.

If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post my current celery juice “practice.” With all the recent hype about the wonders of celery juice (e.g., anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, cancer fighting, etc.), I naturally wanted to see if the hype had merit.

I’ve been drinking it first thing in the morning nearly every day for the past 2-3 months, and I have to say, I feel healthier. I almost never get sick in the conventional sense, such as getting a cold, flu or stomach bug, so I can’t say whether I think it’s improving my overall immunity. However, my skin seems clearer (I’m prone to getting roughness on my cheeks or small bumps on my upper arms), my seborrheic dermatitis lessens, and I just feel better–stronger and more energized. Yes, this is just anecdotal evidence from one person, but combined with what the research suggests, a lot of other people’s anecdotal experience, and the fact that it costs next to nothing to make, I recommend trying it for at least several weeks to see if you notice improvements, too.

I can’t say it tastes delicious, but if you haven’t tried it yet, I can tell you that you will get used to the taste. And if you drink it really cold, you will notice the taste less. So I nearly always start my day with about 6 oz of celery juice, and try to hold off on breakfast for at least 30 minutes. When I want to feel really energized, and since I’m still on a quest to incorporate greens into nearly every breakfast, I like to follow with this powerhouse drink and an egg.

This smoothie drink does tastes delicious and gives you several serving of fruits and vegetables in a glass, along with a healthy dose of Vitamins A, C and K (K is important for preventing osteoporosis, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of several cancers, including breast, colorectal and kidney) from the collard greens. Romaine, although low in fiber, is high Vitamins A, K and C as well as folate. Pears and apples both provide dietary fiber.

If you alternate this drink with my green paleo pancakes, you will supply your body with a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber important for achieving good health. In short, you will do your body a lot of good!

 

Ingredients (for 2)

1/2 a pear, core removed

1/2 an apple, core removed

2-3 leaves of romaine lettuce

2-3 leaves of collard greens or chard

1 banana

2 stalks celery

1/4 of a lemon, seeds removed

ice

Optional

2 tbsp fresh parsley

or

1 tbsp fresh mint

 

Preparation

Blend everything together in a high-powered blender (e.g., Vitamix) until smooth. Add ice to suit your personal taste of how cold you like your drinks.

 

Enjoy!

 

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Salmon regularly gets rated as one of the top 10 foods in terms of nutrition and health benefits. Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which studies have shown decrease inflammation, and reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Salmon also boasts high levels of vitamins critical to maintaining the healthy brain functioning, including B-6 and B-12, as well as potassium, selenium and niacin.

I’m constantly trying to invent ways to get my kids to eat more salmon (important for those growing brains!). They love it in sushi, but I don’t trust myself selecting, buying and preparing raw fish, and we don’t eat out often enough. I regularly put smoked salmon in crepes because my kids will eat anything wrapped in a crepe, but when you want a very tasty dish that’s a bit more sophisticated, this makes a good choice.

I can’t remember where this recipe came from… It remains a dog-eared page torn from a now nameless magazine, but it remains one of our favorites. Quick and easy to prepare, you can’t go wrong serving this dish, and you can dress it up or down.

 

Ingredients

4 fresh salmon fillets (6-8 oz per person)

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

3 tsp honey

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated or chopped

1 package soba noodles (cooked per package instructions)

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

 

Preparation

Whisk soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Place the salmon fillets in a glass baking dish and spoon the soy mixture over evenly. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Heat a grill or turn on broiler function in the oven.

Boil a pot of lightly salted water for the noodles. When the water comes to a boil, add in the noodles and cook per the instructions on the packet (usually 5 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with the 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.

Remove the salmon from the marinade and place in a baking dish. Drizzle each piece with 1/2 tablespoon of honey and grill for approximately 10 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked and beginning to flake. Place the marinade in a small saucepan along with the remaining honey and cook over medium heat until reduced and slightly thickened.

Serve the salmon on top or alongside the noodles with a drizzle of the marinade.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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I did not drop off the face of the earth, but it has been ages since I’ve posted anything here. The past few months have challenged me physically as well as emotionally. Making the decision to move from my comfortable life in northern California to the massive city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in order to support my husband’s work was incredibly difficult. Convincing the children to go along with the decision was equally difficult. Packing up a significant part of our home (where the expression “pack-rat” got redefined) took far more time than I could have imagined. Getting all the paperwork in order and loose ends tied up–bank accounts, visas, residence permits, nearly drove us insane. Finding homes for some of our beloved pets–since we only brought two to Brazil, I found particularly difficult, and at the end, heartbreaking, since I consider our animals family.

Fortunately, the expat community in Sao Paulo, although relatively small, is wonderfully supportive, and Brazilians in general are friendly and kind. We live adventure nearly every day, and grow from it–personally and as world citizens. On top of requiring me to learn another language, the move has required dietary changes, such as regular servings of pineapple, papaya and watermelon instead of my daily helpings of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Chard remains elusive, and rice and beans abound. My cooking has not been spectacular, but a few dishes, and some of my travels definitely warrant sharing.

This dish I made back home, but never got around to posting until now. I call this my “breakfast (or lunch) of champions” because it is full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and it’s packed with flavor. In reality, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating bacon right before you head out for a 6-kilometer run. But if you have an important meeting, need to run a few hours worth of errands, or are going on a big hike and want sustained energy for 4-5 hours, this dish is perfect.

Like many people, my body doesn’t tolerate most types of beans as well as I would like, but garbanzo beans appear to be the exception, and garbanzo bean flour is the main ingredient in the crepes. I couldn’t be more thankful, because garbanzo beans are a great source of insoluble fiber (important for keeping our colons healthy!), protein, and several vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium and folate.

 

Ingredients

For the crepes, whisk together the following until you get a smooth, runny batter consistency:

1 cup sprouted garbanzo bean flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

3/4-1 cup water

Pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp of avocado oil, plus more for the pan

 

Preparation

Swirl a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in half of the batter and swirl the pan gently to spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan. Cook until set and the bottom is just starting to turn golden brown–approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip the crepe over and cook another 2 minutes.

Repeat. This recipe makes 4-6 crepes depending on how thick you make them.

 

Ingredients

For the wrap I call “breakfast of champions,” I place the following ingredients on each crepe and fold in half or in thirds for serving.

2-3 strips of bacon, cooked

1 egg, fried sunny side up

Two leaves of curly kale (tough stocks removed, and lightly braised)

1/2 an avocado, peeled and sliced

Coarse-ground sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

This combination tastes insanely good and flavorful, but you can experiment with whatever you like. I cook the bacon in a cast-iron pan first. After removing the cooked bacon, I drain off the excess fat and lightly braise the kale leaves in the same pan so they pick up all the delicious bits and pieces left from cooking the bacon.

Note: These crepes are super easy and quick to make, but you can double or triple the crepe batter recipe and make a batch so you have them handy. Just be sure to put a sheet of parchment paper between crepes and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Please note that they are best fresh and warm, as can stiffen slightly if refrigerated or left out for any length of time.

Enjoy!

 

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I’m in the midst of moving, surrounded by boxes, so I won’t spend too much time writing here. However, several people who follow me on Instagram have asked me to share my recipe for the green paleo pancakes I’ve shared pics of several times.

My sister made these for me while I was visiting her in May. I tweaked the recipe just a bit for better consistency (sorry, Sis!), and more consistent results. Several other bloggers have shared green pancake recipes, but many include small amounts of greens, where the greens are used more to color the pancakes as opposed to providing real nutritional value. I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate greens in my mornings, and if you’re like me, you can only handle so many green shakes.

These pancakes blend up easily in any high-powered blender (e.g., Vitamix). They’re packed with protein, fiber, minerals and anti-oxidants. These pancakes also use tiger nut flour (made from tubers, not nuts), which is an excellent source of prebiotics–the energy source for the good bacteria in our guts which keeps our health humming.

 

Ingredients (per person)

1 ripe banana

1 organic egg

2 leaves of leafy greens (such as chard, collards, kale)

1/8 cup almond flour

1/8 cup tigernut flour

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch sea salt

 

Preparation

Blend everything together in a high-powered blender.

Put a non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron pan on medium to medium-high heat. Melt a little coconut oil or butter in the pan, and pour the pancake batter in approximately 4-inch diameter circles. Cook until browned and any bubbles around the edges have popped, roughly 3-4 minutes. Flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes until browned. Place on a plate and allow to sit at least 3 minutes. (The pancakes will continue “cooking” while they sit.)

Serve with raspberries or sliced strawberries. These pancakes are plenty sweet due to the banana, but if you want a little more sweetness, drizzle raw honey over them. Do not use maple syrup. As much as I love maple syrup, the flavor does not go with the pancake!

Makes 3-4 pancakes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year! I hope your holiday–no matter how you celebrated it, was merry and bright, and that you’re looking forward to embracing a new year.

Depending on how you lean politically, you may feel a bit of dread as you look to this new year. Or you may feel the pressure to make big plans and set high goals for yourself. We expect so much of ourselves these days–much more than other people expect of us if we stop and really think about it.

Lately, I have been chastising myself for not posting more recipes or product recommendations or summaries of scientific findings. But between caring for my children and serving as the interim executive director of my foundation (link), I haven’t had time for any of it except snapping off photos of some of my meals and daily adventures.

When the new year rolled around, my first inclination was to set targets on how many posts I should publish, how many projects I should complete for the foundation, how many miles I should run weekly, etc. But after some careful thinking, I decided that what my main goal should be is to slow down, ease up, be gentler on myself and more present in the lives of those I love. The “shoulding” is a slow killer. We are not superhuman–none of us.

I don’t want to appear sexist, but the “shoulding” problem appears to affect women more than men. If men do only one job, and they do it well, they are often generally satisfied with themselves. But women seem more prone to setting unrealistic targets across multiple areas of their lives, and this isn’t healthy or sustainable. The woman you may know who raises perfect, well-adjusted kids, stays amazingly fit, produces incredible creations from her kitchen, runs a company, serves on a bunch of non-profit boards, and stays up to date on current affairs, is paying the price in some way. Maintaining that level of achievement and busy-ness takes its toll. We are all just human, and the day holds only so many hours.

Doing too much makes us prone to all sorts of health problems that can present in an immediate and obvious way, like a cold or flu, or slowly wear down our defenses, making us vulnerable to more serious illnesses.

So during this winter season (at least for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere), when you suddenly think of one more thing you could/should be doing, stop. Make a cup of tea, take a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood, read a fun article in a meaningless magazine, and slow yourself down.

While the rain and snow do their thing outside your window, try making golden tumeric milk. It will warm and nourish your body and boost your immunity. Tumeric contains curcumin, a very strong antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, a friend told me over the holiday, that she was able to avoid a costly surgery for her elderly dog, after the dog tore its ACL, by feeding it high doses of curcumin, glucosamine (cushions bones at joints) and hyaluronic acid (collagen building).

This milky tea takes minutes to make, yet has lasting benefits. Depending on where you live, you can buy fresh tumeric from your natural grocer.

 

Ingredients

1 cup almond or other non-dairy milk

1 thumb-size piece of fresh tumeric, peeled and roughly chopped

Several grinds of fresh-ground pepper*

1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of your choice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

A healthy pinch of ground cinnamon

*Whether you’re making tumeric milk or taking tumeric supplements, make sure you eat black pepper at the same time. Black pepper contains piperine which significantly increases (2000%!) the absorption of curcumin. Curcumin is also fat soluble so always consume it with a meal or a drink like this one that contains healthy fats.

 

Preparation

Put the first three ingredients in a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix, and blend until deep gold in color and frothy. Pour the milk mixture into a small saucepan and heat just until hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour into your favorite cup and sip away.

Enjoy!

 

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I’ve loved caesar salad since my days wearing Sears Toughskin jeans and saltwater sandals. But the high calorie count with minimal nutrition of conventional caesar salads started to severely limit the number of appearances the salad has made in my life over the past couple decades… Until now.

This kale caesar salad is my new obsession. I first stumbled upon the salad at a local juice shop, Urban Remedy. I immediately fell in love with their vegan caesar salad, but couldn’t stomach the price or all the plastic packaging they serve the salad in (and the dressing, and the chickpeas, and the “cheese”), so I decided to figure out how to make my own version.

This salad contains the best of everything–crunchy romaine with the added heartiness and health benefits of raw kale, fiber and protein packed roasted chickpeas instead of nutrition-empty croutons from bread, a delicious and creamy caesar dressing that doesn’t use egg or dairy, and “faux parmesan” cheese.

I eat this salad at least three times a week now. It’s so delicious, tastes rich, never gets dull, and gives me a big boost of energy without making me feel too full, ever. It takes a little work to get the various components ready–like roasting the chickpeas and making the dressing, but once you do, you can store the extras in airtight containers in the fridge and prepare future salads in just minutes.

 

Ingredients*

Greens:

4-5 kale leaves, washed, ribs removed, and chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch strips

4-5 romaine lettuce heart leaves, washed and chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch strips

Chickpea “croutons”:

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (I like this brand)

3/4 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Parmesan “cheese”:

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw hulled hemp seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp raw hulled sunflower seeds

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

Caesar dressing:

2 tbsp capers (vegan version) or 7 anchovies (jarred)

1 clove garlic crushed

5 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp worcesterhire

1 tsp Dijon

1 cup raw cashews

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

filtered water to thin

*The ingredients are for a salad for 1-2 people, but the dressing will make enough for 5-6 salads depending on size and how dressed you like your salads.

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375F (convection, if you have it).

Rinse and drain the chickpeas in a wire mesh colander. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with the cumin, 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Spread the chickpeas out on an edged cooking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes or until they start to brown nicely. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a food processor, pulse together 1/4 cup cashews and the seeds from the “cheese” ingredients until coarsely chopped. Toss together with the remaining “cheese” ingredients and set aside.

In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing except the water. Slowly add in a little water at a time to get a consistency you like. I like mine very thick, but you want to be able to toss the salad with the dressing and not have it stick in a lump.

Put the greens in a bowl, add in a little dressing and toss to coat. Taste and adjust amount of dressing as desired. Add in a handful of roasted chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of “cheese” per serving, and toss to coat. Serve immediately, although I find a good tossing helps soften and “break down” the kale, which I like.

Happy eating your greens!

 

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