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Easy Breakfast Recipes

 

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After Wednesday’s blog post I thought of another very important reason to love breakfast. How could I forget? Eating breakfast prevents you from craving calorie dense and unhealthy food later on in the day. Why? Because it stabilizes your blood sugar levels after the eight hours of fasting overnight. By eating breakfast you have set yourself up for success for a day of healthful eating.

I touched on a few points on Wednesday regarding protein and how it will provide your brain with the needed precursor molecules to form neurotransmitters through out the day. Today I’d like to give you  healthy breakfast recipe ideas that incorporate protein…

Granola Fruit Parfait (serves one)

½ cup granola
½ cup plain greek yogurt (protein)
one cup of fruit. Your choice. Whatever is on hand is fine. Cube it up and throw it in the bowl.

Combine all ingredients and if needed add 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or one teaspoon brown sugar sprinkles on top.

Best Oatmeal Ever (serves 2)

I came up with this combination one morning last year and it has been a HUGE hit with unsuspecting people who typically do not like oatmeal. And it’s SO easy.

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (not quick oats)
2 cups water
dash salt
3 tablespoons almond butter (or any nut/ seed butter) (protein)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or brown sugar)
2 tablespoons roasted cacao nibs

You might be asking yourself right now, what the heck are roasted cacao nibs? A little unusual… I know. They are essentially the seed from the cacao plant (which is the plant that chocolate is made out of) that have been crushed into bits and roasted. They sell these in the bulk and baking section of natural grocery stores. They have a nice crunchy texture that complements your soft oatmeal well and when you mix these with a little maple syrup/ sugar you really taste the chocolate. This is a significantly healthier form of chocolate! Dark chocolate is good for you as well in small portions. However, at breakfast this low glycemic recipe will provide your body with all sorts of nutrients (carbs, fiber, protein, healthy fats) that help your body absorb the carbs and sugar slower, and allows you to stay full longer.

Boil the water with the dash of salt and once boiling… stir in the oats. After the oats have come to a boil lower the heat to simmer and simmer the oats for 5 to 10 minutes until the oats are soft or to your desired consistency. Scrape the oats into a medium mixing bowl and combine the oats with the remaining ingredients. Scrape the oatmeal mixture into two cereal bowls and enjoy!

Healthy Egg Sandwich/ Wrap (serves 2)

3 eggs scrambled (protein)
1 cup spinach
2 oz cheddar cheese OR ½ an avocado sliced
tomato slices or salsa (optional)
100% whole grain english muffin or bread or wrap
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the spinach into strips and combine with the three eggs. Scramble the egg mixture together with salt and pepper and cook to your liking. Heat the wrap or bread if desired in the microwave to melt the cheese. Arrange the scrambled eggs and spinach onto the bread/ wrap. Place optional tomatoes/ salsa on top along with avocado. Enjoy!

This breakfast combines a complete protein (the egg), a dark leafy green vegetable chock full of nutrients, whole grains with fiber, and if you include the avocado, a healthy fat.

All three of these breakfast ideas will give you a great healthy start to your day. Any of these can be made the night before and reheated in the morning (if needed). If making the fruit parfait in advance perhaps mix the fruit and yogurt only the night prior, and add granola in the morning so that the granola does not get soggy. YUCK!

Have a healthy Friday!

The most important meal of the day…

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As I was making a hearty breakfast for the family today I was reminded of all the reasons this important meal of the day should never be skipped!

-It stimulates your metabolism
Taking your body out of the fasting state and into the fed state where your body functions best.

-It feeds your brain!
Specifically what I mean is the protein in your breakfast provides your brain with precursors molecules to make neurotransmitters. You are going to need these neurotransmitters at school, work or with what ever you are doing! Trust me.

-It stabilizes your blood sugar.

When you wake up in the morning your blood sugar will naturally be low due to not eating for the past 8 hours. As you may have experienced in the past, being hungry does not help you be alert and on your game.

Taking the extra time that you would need in the morning to make a simple breakfast will pay dividends in your mood and performance through out the day. When your blood sugar dips due to a lack of calories, all systems start to degrade. This includes the mood center of your brain which is also starved for blood glucose like the rest of your body. Additionally not feeding your brain protein in the morning can also put your moods and brain functions at suboptimal performance due to those precursors I mentioned above… double whammy on the brain!

If you are someone who finds breakfast unappealing, or finds little motivation to make breakfast, consider the following options.

-Start small.

Perhaps a goal of just one piece of toast (or gluten free bread) with some nut or seed butter on top? Eventually you can add to your breakfast meal as you see fit, but for now, just try eating something in the morning as opposed to nothing.

Prepare breakfast the night before.

There is no reason that you could not prep oatmeal, a breakfast sandwich, or a yogurt fruit parfait the night ahead.

-Make your breakfast goal realistic.

If you make a goal of everyday and you are not accustomed to eating breakfast at all, you may feel a little over whelmed and give up. Start small, perhaps once or twice a week is a better bet.

Have a healthy Wednesday 🙂

Grab and go refrigerator

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Do you live a busy lifestyle? Do you wonder how you can eat healthier on the run? Do you typically eat out due to your crazy schedule? Grab and go food… Typically food in this category is anything but healthy. Convenience foods often times come with the price of sacrificed nutrition, however this does not have to be the case.

When people ask me what I learned in grad school I often times think not so much of the technical nutrition information that I learned, but the life skills I learned. Talk about a busy schedule! They did not take it easy on us nutrition nerds. Constantly running between six classes, doing homework for all six, volunteering, and running to clinic shifts took up all of my time. Now don’t get me wrong, I am only human, and I had my fair share of days/ weeks where I went out to eat way too much. And my fair share of near peanut butter pretzel overdoses. However there were a few tricks I learned that helped me out…

I would make sure my fridge was stocked with healthy convenience foods already pre packaged (perhaps prepackaged by myself). My shopping list every week contained the following items…

Baby carrots (or farmers market carrots washed and cut into sticks)

Snap peas

Pre washed greens

pre cooked pasta

asiago/ parmesean cheeses

sesame oil

soy sauce

lemons to use for flavoring

fruit cut up

nuts

bagged popcorn (just popped corn kernals, olive oil and sea salt)

Seaweed snacks (I know, I am  a dork!)

My strategy was this, I would come home from my grocery shopping and divide snacks up into serving size bags for the week. I would divide my big bag of nuts into snack size ziplock bags, my popcorn & carrots into sandwich size ziplock bags. If I had pasta and or rice cooked in the fridge I would put a cup of that into a medium sized tupperware  container with some snap peas & greens, splash on sesame oil and soy sauce… voila… I had lunch ready for the next day in less than a minute! Another favorite was olive oil on pasta & greens with lemon juice, salt & pepper. In the morning before I darted out the door to begin the rat race, I would grab a canvas bag, and start stuffing. My canvas bag to keep me alive for the day typically contained

-Tupperware of rice/ pasta & flavored veggie combo

-baby carrots

-cut up fruit in tupperware (apples hold up well)

-seaweed snack

-popcorn zip lock bag

-almonds zip lock snack bag

I have to say, this system worked out pretty darn well for me. I was often times awake and able to focus in class, sure the coffee helped, but I think my stable blood sugar due to being fed helped my brain the most.

What would your selections be if you were going to buy healthy convenience foods for yourself? My list may give you some inspiration, but be sure you make a list that is attractive to YOU. Think whole grains, fresh produce, and nuts/ seeds.

What are some simple flavors that you could add to a starch (pasta, rice, quinoa, potatoes) that would appeal to you?

Which proteins would you pack for the day? Nuts? Cheese? Meat?

Which fresh produce would you pack? Which type of greens (if any) appeal to you? Or edible convenience vegetables? Carrots? Cherry tomatoes? Apples? If you have a minute or two, brainstorm a list of healthy convenience items that you would enjoy in your lunch bag. Put this list on your fridge, and whenever you feel so inclined to prepare for a busy yet healthy week you will already be prepared. Have a healthy Tuesday 🙂

A kid tested, whole foods treat

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The last couple blog posts I have been covering one of my favorite subjects… kid friendly nutrition tips. Although I have provided you with some basic ideas for snacks, I have not provided you with any specific recipes, but there is one that I just MUST share.

If you are up for a short food project, we learned a great recipe in Nutrition school that is very popular with the elementary kids that I had taste test this recipe. And the nutrition students who tastes tested it?  We were all raving and gitty! Our teacher has a wonderful website with a comical video showing you how to make it. A few notes on the recipe;

-You can buy roasted pecans which omits the first step of roasting the raw pecans.

-Nut allergy in the group? Just substitute pepitas (shelled pumpking seeds), or shelled sunflower seeds in place of the pecans.

-Omit the Miso if you do not have Miso on hand, and just add a little extra salt.

This recipe may look like a challenge. But once you watch the video you will no longer be intimidated. You will need a food processor of some sort. SEE??? That three cup food processor I have been telling you to purchase for $15 to $20 dollars?? Here is yet ANOTHER good use for it.

As you will see in the video, these are great for kids sports games since they are sort of like a home made energy bars, made mostly of fruit and nuts with just a little added pure maple syrup… quite unprocessed! These bon bons have lots of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, fiber, phytonutrients, and taste galore!

Yes, this recipe does have a few steps, and yes it is easier to buy energy bars at the store…however, (here comes my sales pitch)…. no baking, just blending and rolling the sticky date balls into the coconut. MUCH healthier than anything that comes in a package! Yes you will get sticky fingers while molding them, but soap works just fine. Additionally the three cup food processors are dishwasher safe. Easy to clean. Don’t have maple syrup or hate the price tag of it? Substitute honey. Enjoy the video!

http://www.cookusinterruptus.com/index.php?video_id=107

They hate vegetables! More kids nutrition…

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Did it work when your relatives forced you to eat a certain vegetable as a kid? Do you still to this day hate the taste of that vegetable? I bet you do. And the cycle continues. I know it seems like the most responsible thing to do as a parent … ENSURE that your child gets enough vegetables. And I do understand that logic. And you may be surprised by my advice to not force them to eat veggies after all of my pro vegetable posts! However I think it is not effective to force feed any child. As an alternative continue to try creative ways to get them interested in veggies. See above picture for an idea. If that fails just continue to feed them the veggies they tolerate while offering alternative vegetables for whenever they are ready. Just do your best! Eating should not be a power struggle. And learning to eat is far from perfect.

Another thing to keep in mind with children’s eating, it is a scientific fact that many kids are what we call “super tasters”. A super taster is a person who tastes bitter flavors far stronger than others. Why are kids more often super tasters? One theory is that as young human beings, they have heightened senses to taste poisonous plants and that way, intuitively know not to eat them. While broccoli and kale are NOT at ALL poisonous, they do taste more bitter than other veggies due to their sulphur containing phytonutrients …which are extremely healthy for you in fact! So when your kids proclaim them to not taste good, do not dismiss their claim! It may indeed taste far worse to them as those same veggies taste to you. Hold on I’m not done… if you are able to continue presenting them in the house, they may eventually like them as they mature and loose those bitter receptors that were so strong as a child. Good vegetables for these super tasting kids (or any kids) would be carrots, green beans, corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, peas, squash, cucumbers, edamame, and beets. Anything not bitter. You get the idea ☺

Another point about my beloved vegetables… kids sometimes (and adults too for that matter) hate the texture of certain vegetables. To change the texture of vegetables there are a few options, cooking them (of course), and also blending them. For example Kale. If you know of, or have a kid who actually likes kale… congratulations! This one has been a hard sell in my experience, even when I’ve doused it with sugar! However, I am not above putting a little kale or cabbage in a smoothie I am making for a child. Typically if you do not put a lot into the smoothie they will not notice too much of a taste or color change. Just blend that smoothie on the highest setting for about a minute and see how you do. Any smoothie recipe you can add a green vegetable to. Perhaps start with a little spinach since it has a milder taste than kale. Kale is so advanced! I love Kale.

Have a Healthy weekend 🙂

 

Healthy Snacks for the Kids?

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One of my favorite volunteer projects from graduate school was attending the local elementary school at their lunchtime to deliver fresh fruit and vegetable samples. Sound like it’s destined to fail? It actually did not. Although at home parents and caregivers are often times frustrated with failed attempts to get their children interested in fresh vegetables and fruit, in their peer groups (as I have experienced) it can be more successful. Why you might ask? Because at school, they may be influenced by their peers to try the fresh produce that they have proclaimed to dislike in the past. They see one of their friends getting excited about purple cabbage and they all of a sudden want to try it as well! I swear, I witnessed this many times. This is one example of peer pressure being focused on something positive and healthy. Also, at school there is less of a power struggle dynamic going on. Children naturally like to establish some sort of independence at home. If they are accustomed to being coerced into trying different foods at home, they may be resistant to try new foods just to establish their independence from the parents/ caregivers. At school, they don’t have that same relationship with the volunteers in their classrooms. And their friends are right there showing them that it might be actually “cool”, or at least OK to like purple cabbage!

Would you like some more encouragement? Some studies have shown that it takes on average about 15- 20 “presentations” of new foods until a child will try it. See! Your kid is not the only picky one out there. What does this mean for you? It means don’t give up on having those healthy snacks on a plate when the kids arrive home from school. If they continue to dismiss it, that is unfortunate… but eventually they may accept it. Perhaps choose a snack that the adults in the house hold ALSO like so that food will not be wasted. And don’t give up having a good supply of vegetables at the dinner table. Have at least one veggie that they definitely like, so that they will eat at least some vegetables. Salads can be tough with kids, you are welcome to try them out, however some kids struggle with the texture of lettuce so please do not force them to eat what they don’t like. Did that ever work on you as a kid? I didn’t think so. This brings me to another point, if they reject your snack or side dish, I would recommend not making a big deal of it. Just point them in the direction of a vegetable on hand that they do like.

Here are some snack personal successes I have had with picky children. These snacks and side dishes may or may not be successful with your children. Some may be no brainers, so please bear with me ☺

Dinner Ideas…

-Broccoli with cheese melted on top (preferably steamed or microwaved with a little water works as well)

-Sweet potatoes roasted with salt, pepper, and a little cinnamon… yummy!

-Peas, plain or with butter

-Roasted carrot sticks, roast them with a mixture of about 2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup (or brown sugar) and a tablespoon of Olive oil / dark sesame oil. Salt and pepper. DELICIOUS!) 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Lunch/ snack ideas…

-Apples slices with nutbutter/ sunflower butter

-Ants on a log

-Berries

-String cheese/ cheese slices

-Nuts Flavored? Some flavored nuts are OK for kids, just please watch the sugar content, and read the label for MSG and sodium content.

-Edamame; shelled or unshelled. If you serve unshelled consider tossing the cooked edamame with a spash of soy sauce, and a splash of dark sesame oil.

I used to love serving fruit plates as an after noon snack when I nannied, and making a face with the berries. Like the photo I have attached at the top of this post ☺

The most helpful advice I can give is to be realistic with yourself. Are the snacks that you offer truly healthy? Should anything be removed from the cabinets that they will always ask for over a healthy snack? And lastly, be realistic with the fact that your child will not eat perfectly every day. In fact most likely, they won’t eat perfect any day. And guess what, that’s OK! Just do your best with feeding and set as good of an example as you can. No guilt over eating, or your child’s imperfect eating please!

QUICK! FIND AN ATM! Cat at the Farmer’s Market…

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My husband will tell you, I can go a little overboard at a Farmer’s Market. A little? OK, A LOT sometimes. Some women have a shoe problem. Some women have a clothing problem. I have a vegetable problem. I walk into the Farmer’s Market, cloth bags in hand… I can see the first produce display… my heart rate increases, my pupils dilate. And then, it happens. My ADD kicks in BIG TIME. Where do I even BEGIN?! Everywhere I look there are tables overflowing with the freshest most delicious looking produce. The prices are low, the nutrient levels are through the roof, and it can all be mine! Then my internal conversation begins, “Wait, no, hold on Cat, I have $40 in cash just forty… prioritize Cat! What do you need this week? Who are you cooking for? How much time do you have? OH God… I see honey crisp apples!” I dart over to the apple vendor, immediately start scanning the giant crate full of gorgeous apples. They look so delicious and freshly picked. Quick, GRAB A BAGGIE! I rip off a baggie from the dispenser and start stuffing it with ripe apples. After I realize the baggie is not nearly big enough (ugh!) I just give up and walk up to the apple vendor.

“Hi can I get a 20 lb box? I mean… after all, apples keep pretty well you know?” “Sure!” he says, thrilled that I am an impulse produce shopper. That’ll be $40 dollars maam”. GULP. “Ummmm… OK, there you go thanks!”

I hand over the money and head for my car to drop off my 20 pounds of honey crisp apples. As I walk over, I start scanning the market for the nearest ATM. I need money FAST. There is sweet corn and mushrooms calling my name. Not to mention my usual staples, kale, onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes. Oh God wait… heirloom TOMATOES are in season too right now! Forget taking out like $20 more dollars, I need at least $40 more dollars. I hope to heck I don’t have an encounter with fresh figs today because if I do, all bets are off. Fresh figs are my biggest weakness.

Within 30 minutes I typically have so much produce stuffed into my cloth bags that my biceps are aching as I relentlessly keep doing laps around my rather large local Farmer’s Market. If you are wondering if who you are looking at is me, look for the short chick not so gracefully schlepping around three over stuffed canvas bags of produce. I just keep scanning until I am absolutely sure that I have not missed anything. Not like I can’t and won’t come back tomorrow when I feel the itch!

My vegetable problem is compounded by the fact that where I live, the Farmer’s Market goes on four days a week in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and that it remains open on Saturdays through the end of December. Only three months a year is the market closed where I live. Three months, I reign it in. But now I am only three weeks away from it’s reopening! Another issue I face in the summer is that there is a berry farm literally a mile from my house. What’s a nutrition nerd to do?!?

As much as I like to poke fun at myself, and my failed attempts to stay within a produce budget, I will point out that I think dedicating a slightly larger percent of your income on fresh healthy produce is actually a good idea. Yes, this will absolutely depend on your financial situation. There are all sorts of statistics you can google about the US and how in past decades, Americans spent a larger percent of their income on food, and a smaller percent of their income on their health care, versus today… where we spend typically a smaller amount (comparatively) on our food, and a larger amount (comparatively) on our healthcare. This does not prove anything of course and yes, healthcare has changed. However, it is telling of how our health problems have trended upwards as our food costs have trended downwards.

As a nutrition professional, I have learned a lot about how the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself within certain limits. I have also learned over and over again, how plant foods provide us with phytonutrients, that have an amazing ability to provide more disease preventing actions and aide the body’s own natural healing processes. There are obviously no guarantees in life, and no guarantees with any certain eating style. However, in the nutrition research world we tend to ask the question… Given the present day research, what makes the most sense? Supplying your body with an abundance of fiber and antioxidant containing produce seems to make the most sense. This (along with exercise) most likely will put your body in the best possible position to prevent disease and health issues from occurring. So if you’re able, feel free to splurge in the produce aisle or Farmer’s Market on the occasion! I plan on starting to garden this summer. I think that could help me be less of an impulse produce shopper at the market.

Chard over Lard!

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Have you ever seen those tall bunches of greens with rainbow colored stalks at the farmer’s market and wondered what the heck you do with them? That’s what I’m here for. First let me tell you why Chard (or Swiss Chard) is so healthy. It is so nutrient dense that it is famous for being nutritious, yup vegetables can be famous too. In fact, in nutrition school, our student ID card was called “The Chard Card” … NERD ALERT! But I digress. Chard is part of the dark leafy green family. This family of vegetables provides all of the benefits of the lettuce family with more density of vitamins/ minerals. Chard is a thicker green vegetable which is often cooked or sauteed due to its thick leaf nature. It is not quite as thick as it’s cousin Kale though. However, when Chard is cut into small pieces it can be enjoyed raw as a salad green boosting more antioxidant power than its cooked version. In just one cup of chard you get half of your vitamin A requirement for the day and four to seven times the vitamin K recommendation. The vitamin K in Chard works in conjunction with its calcium and magnesium to provide you with a bone health power house in every bite! Don’t be afraid of the rainbow of colors available in Chard. The more diverse the colors are in your vegetables, the more phyto nutrients you are benefiting from. Assorted colors of fresh fruits and vegetables have assorted phyto nutrients which have various health promoting functions that act as antioxidants, anti inflammatory agents, and detoxification agents.

I like to take my chard home from the farmers market and immediately wash it and dry it on paper towels/ kitchen towels. Then I remove the stems. How to remover the stems on chard, the easiest way I think is to hold the leaf upside down from the stem, get a grip on the stalk at the base, and pull your hand up the stalk to separate the leaf from the stem. When the stems are removed I roll the Chard up in towels (paper or kitchen towels) and place them in gallon size ziplock bags or tupperware to store in the fridge for the week. I just found a great resource on youtube to help all you chard rookies out there with preparation, and some cooking ideas. I have not cooked the stalks before but I just learned that I can from this. Enjoy the video everyone and good luck young jedis!

 

Salad Snob

 

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I am essentially the designated salad person in my family and circle of friends. I have always wanted to do healthy food well and to change healthy food’s poor reputation of being bland. It should be anything BUT BLAND after all. There is SO MUCH FLAVOR in the plant kingdom! It is very unfortunate that often times in our culture we cheapen the food production process to the point where quality produce is compromised… sigh. As a salad snob, I know that it’s all about how you prepare it and selecting quality fresh ingredients. There is no greater compliment to me than when someone goes for seconds on one of my salads. SUCCESS, I WIN! Now I’ve told you before that I can talk all day long about salads, so don’t be surprised by the length of this post. There is nothing more thrilling to a nutrition nerd than a well put together salad with a homemade dressing. I just blush thinking about it! In my experience when designing a salad, your creativity can really take over and produce some great recipes.

So you say you are not creative. OK I will help you out.

1) First things first, I like to start with a featured fruit. FRUIT in a SALAD?!?! I know, I’m a freak. But I promise you … slicing up an apple, orange, or pear and tossing it into a salad will only have positive consequences. The fruit gives your salad a touch of sweetness and a variety of texture that goes very well I feel with almost any dressing that you put on it. HOME MADE OFCOURSE (see blog post from last week on dressing)! I know I am high maintenance, but it has worked out pretty well for me.

2) Next I like to add something soft to my salads like a cheese or avocado slices. Goat cheese has always been my favorite. I just think goat cheese has a wonderful flavor that is soothing and creamy yet pops when you combine it with a bite of fruit. Hard cheeses are good too like grated parmesean, asiago, etc.

3) Crunch crunch. A nut or seed is always a great added texture dimention. I usually use whatever I have on hand, walnuts, almonds (I crush these up), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds or pepitas. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds by the way. You can buy them shelled or unshelled. The shelled are white, the unshelled are green.

4) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… HOME MADE DRESSING! I am pretty opinionated on this one. Can you tell?

Do you still need help with the creativity? Okay. Lets talk seasonality. What is in season right now? Here are four salad ideas for all seasons. These recipes are my prize winning salad recipes. Well ok I have not LITERALLY won prizes for these, but they are extra special and delicious. You will notice the ingredients lists are a little long for the salad ingredients. I invite you to do any additions, deletions or substitutions that you see fit based on what is in your fridge, your preferences and what is available to you where you live. This is where YOU get creative! If you do not want to add all of the ingredients, no problem they will still be great salads. Right now we are in the winter so I start with my Winter Shine Salad.. I am going to make these salads seasonal for the Pacific Northwest.
I know, avocadoes and oranges do not grow in the Northwest, however they are awesome and salad snob worthy. Another note, as I have mentioned before investing $15 to $20 dollars in a three cup food processor will make blending these salad dressings really easy. You won’t even have to mince the garlic clove. Just put all ingredients in the blender/ processor and hit the button. 30 seconds and you are DONE!

Winter Shine Salad – Baby Arugala (about 6 cups), sliced roasted beets (2), 1 chopped avocado, 1 orange/ grapefruit sliced, crushed walnuts (1/4 cup), crumbled goat cheese (1/4 cup).
My dressing from the March 1st blog post goes great on this. With this salad, the orange slices provide enough acidity to not need a whole lot of dressing. In fact I have eaten this salad with just olive oil and salt and pepper and it was tasted great. If you’d like the March 1st blog post salad dressing I have pasted it below…

½ cup Olive Oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon pure Maple Syrup
1 clove garlic peeled
and minced
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Whip it together in a bowl with a fork and pour it on once its blended well.

Spring Salad – Arugula (about 6 cups), 6 stalks blanched asparagus (chopped), radishes thinly sliced (1/2 cup), sautéed sliced leeks (1 leek), and sliced apricots (2 apricots),  1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese.
A Red wine vinaigrette goes wonderfully on this one. Here is a classic recipe linked
http://americanfood.about.com/od/saucesdipsanddressings/r/rwvin.htm

Summer Salad – Baby greens (about 6 cups), 1 vine ripened heirloom tomato, fresh sweet corn kernals chopped off the cobb with butter (kernals from 2 cobs), ½ cup green onions chopped, 1 avocado chopped, fresh fig slices (about 8 – 10 figs), and ¼ cup sunflower seeds. My vinagrette from last week’s blog will go great on this one also…

½ cup Olive Oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon pure Maple Syrup
1 clove garlic peeled
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Autumn Dream Salad – So heavenly!
1 head chopped & cleaned chard (or baby chard 1 clear plastic box), 1 diced honey crisp apple (or any apple that you prefer), 1 cup roasted winter squash cubes (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, carnival, all are fine ☺), ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), 2 slices chopped cooked bacon (optional), ½ sliced caramelized red onion (see onion blog post), and 2 oz crumbled goat cheese. This salad has many cooked ingredients which make it a heartier salad to satisfy you on a cool autumn day. This recipe goes great with…

Cat’s Apple Cider Vinaigrette
½ cup Olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic peeled (minced if you don’t have a 3 cup blender)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
pepper to taste
dash of cinnamon

Having a salad be the highlight of a meal is so important I believe since the one food group we do not eat enough of in this country is vegetables. When you treat your vegetables right, dress them up pretty, and treat them with the respect they deserve, your families and dinner guests will be pleasantly surprised. And very impressed! You can be a salad snob too.

Why we love whole foods

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Whole Food, what does this mean? I am not referring to a grocery store chain right now as you may be guessing. Today I’d like to explain a simple uncomplicated philosophy of food that we tend to be rather big fans of here at HartsSpace, whole food.

Essentially what I mean by whole food is a food that has all its original parts, and has been been minimally processed. When a food is processed it has been changed from its original form. This is not always such a horrible thing, for example rolled (or “old fashion”) oatmeal is the oatmeal grain, that has been rolled flat so that it has a slightly softer texture when eaten. All of it’s fiber containing outer layers are intact and consumed. On the other side of the coin, processing foods sometimes can rob the original food in its original form of some of it’s nutrients and health benefits. Think about the health benefits of a tomato, this nutrient dense plant naturally contains beneficial fiber to all who consume it and loads of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (healthy antioxidant plant compounds). Now turn that tomato into ketchup. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some ketchup! However this is just a good comparison between a perfectly healthy whole vegetable that has been put through heavy processing which robs the vegetable of much of its fiber and adds lots of sugar to make ketchup. Generally speaking during processing and refining of food, nutrients are lost and things are added to the food that are not food (preservatives, colorings, artificial flavors). It even gets to the point in the refining/ processing process where our government ends up fortifying the food with vitamins/ minerals that it contained initially before they refined it!

Take white flour for example. Whole wheat has lots of fiber and B vitamins. However all of that is contained in the bran or husk/ shell of the wheat grain. To make white flour or white bread that fiber and vitamin containing husk is removed. So then they have to add the vitamins in artificially to make sure most of our population is nourished. Is it me or does this seem overly complicated? The reason refined white flour was initially created centuries ago was to extend the storage life of flour, so that people would have it during times of famine or long winters. That is a pretty good reason! Now a days there is less of a demand for long lasting flour and we are lucky enough to have both white and whole wheat flour at our disposal when ever we need them. I like and keep them both on hand in my pantry. However it is always a good idea to choose whole wheat whenever you can. Or another idea is to mix them half in half in baking recipes since sometimes the white flour part helps the final product have better texture. Maybe you have learned this a time or two in your whole wheat baking projects? I know I have.

The great thing about eating a diet based on whole foods is that you are eating foods in their original form which just so happens to be (most of the time anyway) the most healthy form. Take an apple for example. Do you know where most of the nutrients in the apple is located? In the peel! This is true for most fruits and vegetables. Not that I want you to eat banana peels! Or Avocado peels, no please to not do that either. It’s challenging to eat an entire diet every single day made up of 100% whole foods. That should not be the goal. Anyone who has been to a baseball game with me will know that is not my goal. Just fitting in whole foods into your day, or cooking projects where ever you can is something to be proud of.

Have a healthy day 🙂