Archive | June, 2014

Mediterranean Salad with Toasted Walnuts

30 Jun
Perfect summer side dish

Perfect Summer Side Dish

My muse for this dish was a Turkish recipe I saw in Organic Gardening magazine. I added more vegetables, replaced the parsley and dill with mint and chives and removed the sugar. However you choose to modify this dish, do not omit the toasted walnuts. Just saying…

 

Ingredients:

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 bunch asparagus

1 pint snow peas

3 chives, minced

1 scallion, chopped

4 zucchinis

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup raw walnut pieces

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives

black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

fresh mint, to taste

 

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400°. Clean vegetables, place tomatoes in a large glass mixing bowl (after patting them dry) and set aside the remainder of the vegetables.

2. Fill large stock pot with 1 inch of water and place metal steamer inside. Bring water to a boil. While water is boiling, cut asparagus in half and chop snow peas’ tops off. Place in pot and steam for 6 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath or run under cold water. Pat dry and place in mixing bowl.

3. While asparagus and snow peas are steaming, mince the chives and chop the scallions, placing them in the bowl.

4. Using a mandoline, slice the zucchinis in 1/8 inch thick rounds. Place in a separate mixing bowl and mix with 1 tsp sea salt. Let them sweat for 10 minutes. Pat dry and place in large mixing bowl with the other vegetables.

5. While zucchinis are sweating, place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes. Then, cut kalamata olives in half and add to the mixing bowl.

6. Add olive oil and black pepper to the bowl. Mix well.

7. Serve garnished with toasted walnuts and ribbon-sliced mint.

 

Serves 4-6

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Basil Walnut Pesto (pine nut and dairy-free)

23 Jun
Pesto!

Pesto!

Basil. Honestly, what’s not to love? Now is the perfect time to enjoy this beautifully blooming herb. I love it chopped fresh on sautéed vegetable salads and I love it in pesto. Since I’m allergic to pine nuts and dairy gives me a less-than-desired pubescent complexion, I opt for my own rendition–skipping the dairy, lessening the oil (most pestos are too oily for my taste) and adding in walnuts. Enjoy it drizzled on fresh vegetables, in place of salad dressing and topped on grilled chicken or scrambled eggs.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup walnut pieces

1/4 tsp garlic powder or 3 cloves finely minced

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 1/2 cups fresh basil

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

 

Directions:

1. Place walnuts, garlic, sea salt and 1/2 of the olive oil in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Add basil, the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice to the walnut mixture. Blend until smooth. Add more olive oil, salt and garlic powder if you need to reach your desired taste and consistency.

 

For more ways to eat healthfully and deliciously, visit my recipe page.

I Brake for Planks

16 Jun
Plank-tastic!

Plank-tastic!

My absolute favorite core exercise is the plank. It’s the duct tape of exercise: versatile (side, front, knees, toes, hip extension, arm extension, rotary, hip abduction and the list goes on), functional (no core strength = pain and injury) and suitable for almost all fitness levels (Olympic athletes to office workers with herniated discs to grandparents with stenosis). Pretty sure MacGyver had core strength AND duct tape.

 

Now let’s break this mutha down into proper form so you receive the most benefits. After all, knowing how to stabilize your core is fundamental for all movement.

 

1. Lying on your stomach, place your elbows underneath your shoulders and forearms on the ground. Your arms will be within the frame of your body. Keep shoulders wide rather than sinking into them and avoid clasping your hands together.

2. Draw your belly button towards your spine (innie or outie–ain’t no thang) and squeeze your butt, slightly tucking your tailbone and lifting your hips in alignment with your shoulders. Toes will be tucked underneath you.

3. Shift your weight back into your heels and reach long through the crown of your head. Your body will be one strong, straight line, like a battering ram (see picture). Breathe and hold this position for 15-60 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat.

 

Of course, you will only perform this exercise if you have been cleared to exercise by your physician. If you feel pain at any time, stop the exercise immediately and consult a certified personal trainer –like me!–to check form and help you modify the exercise to meet your specific needs.

 

 

 

What Are You Going to Choose?

9 Jun

Do you ever feel like you’re a deflating balloon? Not a slow deflate, but a just-let-go-of-a-fully-blown-balloon-spinning-out-of-control-and-helplessly-flailing-about sort of deflating balloon? Yeah, me too. But there is one key word that simply isn’t true: we aren’t helpless.

 

I tend to forget that. Maybe you do too. It is so easy to let the negative self talk win. It is so easy to believe we aren’t good enough, that we have nothing valuable to share. In fact, I just spent this entire last week binge watching three Jane Austin movies and feeling sick to my stomach because I’m so afraid to fail at something I really want to do. Something I really believe in.

 

It is scary to put ourselves out there… but far scarier to never try. And the thought of never trying and therefore never knowing terrifies me.

 

We have a say in our life. We have every right to feel deflated, upset, scared, disappointed, angry… and we have every right to feel excited, joyful, loving and happy.

 

So, what are you going to choose? Are you going to helplessly flail about as though you have no choice? Or are you going to acknowledge you’re deflating, give your balloon a few deep breaths and enjoy floating among the stars?

 

I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What helps or inspires you to keep moving forward during times of self-doubt?

Swapping Grains for Greens: How to Use Collard Greens for Wraps

2 Jun

An easy way to increase your metabolic mojo is to swap nutrient-dense greens (and other yummy veggies) in place of grains and starches (like potatoes). Collard greens flourish when it comes to lowering cholesterol and they support detoxification and anti-inflammation in the body which studies show may contribute to cancer prevention. There is no better time than now because they are in season at your local Farmers’ Market and grocery store. Yum!

 

Check out the pictures below for a simple step-by-step guide to creating the perfect collard green wrap.

1. Soak and clean greens in water and apple cider vinegar.

Step 1: Soak and clean greens in water and apple cider vinegar.

Step 2: Rinse and pat dry. Then, cut the stem out.

Step 2: Rinse and pat dry. Then, cut the stem out.

Step 3: Store extras in an 8x13 glass baking dish, separating them with a paper towel.

Step 3: Store extras in an 8×13 glass baking dish, separating them with a paper towel.

IMG_1609

Step 4: Overlap leaves by 1/2 an inch and place the wrap filling towards the bottom. Fold the bottom edge up and over. Then, tuck in the sides and continue to roll until it looks like the wrap in the upper right side corner.

 

I’d love to hear from you! What health challenges are you facing? What fitness and food tips would help you get the life you deserve? Please post them below.