Stress-Less Salad

Stress-Less Salad, Eat Yourself Well

When you’re feeling stressed, you’ll want to give your body extra whole, natural, beautiful food love … with a special focus on the B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and potassium, and other nutrients that have a calming effect.

For this salad, add the following ingredients in whatever quantities seem right to you – and based on what you have on hand. For best presentation and the joy of eating, make sure that all pieces are smaller than bite-sized in the salad, so you can get a few various veggies in each bite. And experiment with what you have on hand – sweet peppers and avocados make a great additions.

For the oil and orange juice, use about 1-2 Tbsp of each per serving – less is more, and lets the flavors of the vegetables shine through!

Spinach: Vit.C, B Vits, and glycoglycerolipids (anti-inflammatory)
Broccoli: Vit. C, B Vits, Vit. K, and Potassium
Almonds: B Vitamins, Potassium
Black Beans: B Vitamins, fiber, complex carbs and protein
Celery: Potassium, B’s, C, and phthalides – see note below
Strawberries: Vit C., anthocyanins
Red Onions: Vit. C (plus phytochemicals that boost the working of Vitamin C in the body), Flavanoids, Polyphenol, Quercetin (all address oxidative stress in the body)
Orange Juice: Vit. C
Olive Oil: monounsaturated fats

Why B’s?

B vitamins protect the nervous system and sooth the body and mind, combating anxiety, irritability, tension and insomnia. They help your body fight chronic stress, as well as supporting your body’s response to immediate, “fight or flight” extreme stress. There are eight vitamins composing the whole vitamin B complex: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. They are best taken together in whole foods.

Why C?

Vitamin C strengthens our immune system, which our body’s hormones attack when under stress. Researchers at the University of Alabama fed rats 200 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day and found that it nearly stopped the secretion of stress hormones. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables, particularly in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, guavas, oranges, tomatoes and red pepper.

Why potassium?

Potassium helps our nervous system deal with chronic stress, and is necessary for proper muscles and heart function. Insomnia, nervousness and depression can be symptoms of potassium deficiency.

Why fats?

Oils support healthy brain function (your brain is 80% fat by dry weight!), and reduce oxidative stress throughout the body, reducing inflammation and irritation. Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to actually slow brain aging.

Special Celery note:

Celery has a high level of potassium, and the vitamins C, B 1 and E, which are all important nutrients in fighting stress. Celery contains phytochemicals called phthalides, which some studies have shown reduce stress hormones and work to relax the muscle walls in arteries, increasing blood flow. As a result, it has long been used in Chinese medicine to help control high blood pressure.

Posted by Jennifer Silverberg, Eat Yourself Well

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Burgers, over Crispy Salad

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa BurgersLOVE this recipe for Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Burgers, and with this salad, it hits ALL the right tastes and textures: spicy, savory, salty, fresh, and even sweet, with the optional mango.

If you don’t have the exact ingredients below, feel free to sub with similar … chipotle can be replaced with a bit of Sriracha sauce … or even black beans with white beans. Play around – worst case, it falls apart but it still delicious!!!

Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry they are :-)

RECIPE:

Patty Ingredients
½ cup onion, fine diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup jalapeno or bell pepper, fine diced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
½ teaspoon olive oil
1½ cups black beans, cooked and drained
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
½ cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into crumbs
½ teaspoon salt

Optional items, for a different texture/taste/nutrition:
1 egg (makes the patties hold together better, but you can skip for a vegan version)
¼ cup chopped cilantro (add with quinoa)
¼ cup grated cheese (add with quinoa)
2 tablespoons minced almonds or pepitas (add with quinoa)
1 cup fine chopped kale (packed cup, about 2-3 leaves) (add with quinoa)

Salad ingredients
Cabbage, 1/4 medium head, finely sliced
Cashews, about 1/4 cup, raw, unsalted
Carrot (1 large), Grated
Cauliflower (1/4 medium head), medium dice
Green onions (3 average-sized) thinly sliced on a diagonal
Romaine lettuce (1 bunch), cut into strips
Optional: Mango, 1 medium, in a small dice
Optional: shredded organic sharp cheddar

Dressing Ingredients
Juice of one – two limes (depending on juiciness of limes)
3 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of salt

Directions

Prep:
Cook quinoa and let cool … or ideally, use leftovers :-).

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin, plus a pinch of salt. Saute about 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Place into a large bowl, and add 1 cup of the black beans (reserve 1/2 cup for texture, later) and tomato paste. Using a potato masher or large fork, mash all of the ingredients together.

Stir in the remaining beans along with quinoa and ground oats until evenly distributed. Make 4-6 patties, packing them tightly with your hands, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.

To Cook/Assemble:
Preferred: Bake on an oiled baking sheet at 400ºF for 20 minutes until heated. Flip halfway to brown evenly.

Alternate: In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry in a bit of oil for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

While patties are cooking, mix the dressing ingredients well in a large bowl, taste and correct seasoning if necessary, then toss all salad ingredients with the dressing. Note: the flavor of this dish is complemented by the dressing, but doesn’t depend on it, so it needs very little dressing. If you’re concerned you need more, feel free to make it, but hold it to the side until you’ve tasted the patties/salad together – you may find you don’t need it at all.

To Serve:
Plate the salad in large bowls and top with the warm, golden brown patties.

Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits

This is not a fussy recipe – feel free to experiment and learn what you love the most – it will ALL be good.  For example, I used freeze-dried pomegranates in the last batch and they added a great sweetness and an unexpected extra crunch.  If you have a favorite nut butter, you can add it instead of – or in addition to – the nuts. Think about seasonal flavors as well!

This is also a great recipe to make with kids – they can use their (clean) hands to mix.

Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits from EatYourselfWell.com

 Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits

  • About 4 cups grains; oat flakes, barley flakes, wheat flakes, rye flakes or similar 
  • 2 handfuls of seeds; for example, sunflower,  hemp, chia, pumpkin.
  • 2 cups nuts;  for example, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup sweetener: maple syrup, honey, agave, or brown sugar
  • Optional: 1 cup dried or freeze-dried fruit; for example,  cranberries, apple, strawberries, banana, raisins, plums
  • Optional (but delicious!):  handful of cacao nibs
  • Optional: Spices of your choice: cinnamon, vanilla, etc.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Place the nuts, seeds, grains, coconut and dried fruits (if using) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to break up and mix.  (Do not over-process, or you’ll wind up with nut butter!)  Move to a large bowl.  Mix the melted oil and sweetener (and spices, if using) in a smaller bowl, then add to the big bowl and toss really well with a big wooden spoon – or a couple of kid hands plus your own.  

Form into spoonful-sized bits and place onto a large, parchment-lined baking sheet.   Tap them down to flatten slightly. Bake for about 40 minutes, but watch carefully for the last 10 minutes or so, and take out when they look lightly browned and feel firm.

Store it in an airtight container for up to three weeks (at least, I think so … it never lasts that long for me). 

From  Jennifer Silverberg at www.EatYourselfWell.com and facebook.com/eatyourselfwell  Please maintain link as you copy and share recipe with others!

No Time/No Money? No more excuses!

The most common reasons people give me (and in honesty, the most common excuses I try to give myself) for making bad food choices are “no time” and “no money.”

Where did we get the idea that healthy food has to be expensive and time-consuming?  Sure, organic food costs a little more (and I have a post on that one coming soon), and it’s always going to be hard to beat the SHORT-TERM costs of uber-subsidized, hyper-processed fast food nastiness … but tasty, healthy meals can be made in minutes.

Following are a few foods to keep on hand so that when you’re out of time and out of money, you can still make something super-delicious in minutes … buy in bulk when they’re on sale!  And at the end, I’ve thrown in a quick recipe I invented tonight, when I got in late after a 3-state day (lots of travel!) and couldn’t face the grocery store!

  • Canned Beans of any type, like black beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, whatever (but buy ones with no BPA in the cans)!:  Added to just about any veggies, create filling, healthy meals in minutes
  • Canned Tomatoes (again, no BPA)
  • Frozen Veggies:  Broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots – whatever you like.  Just don’t get the ones with sauces and seasonings added – you’re going to do that yourself, with healthy ingredients!
  • Raw Almonds:  A meal in itself when you truly have no time … and delicious crushed over salads, etc.
  • Quinoa:  quick-cooking deliciousness that meshes with just about any flavor, sweet or savory
  • Olive Oil:  But of course!
  • Spices: Start with a good set of the basics, and keep adding new ones when you see them.  Go online to find recipes for them, or stir-fry some of those veggies in the freezer and just toss in the spices to see what happens!

broccoli

Turmeric-Garlic Broccoli & Chickpea Saute with Crisp Red Pepper Strips

Tonight when I got home, I knew I was short on veggie servings for the day, I didn’t want to load up with too much food because it was late, but (as always), I was unwilling to sacrifice taste or texture!  So, I grabbed what I had on hand:

  • 1 Bag frozen organic broccoli
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • dash of olive oil
  • 1/2 can organic chickpeas, drained
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cut in strips

Put about 2 Tbsp of water, a dash of olive oil, and the crushed garlic into a pan, and add the bag of frozen broccoli (mine says it’s three servings, but it’s really just one decent-sized one).  Cook about 4-5 minutes until the broccoli is no longer frozen.  Add the chickpeas, turmeric, and pinch of salt, and cook until the chickpeas are hot.  If you’re like me and love pepper, add some fresh-ground white or black pepper.  Serve with cool, crisp red pepper strips.  

Serves one, or two as a side dish.  Doubles easily.  And as always, PLEASE experiment with the measurements and ingredients:  cook the red peppers with the broccoli, add onion, throw in a handful of spinach or cherry tomatoes, whatever you have on hand – PLAY with your food!

The surprising health benefits of green tomatoes!

Green-tomatoesWith early warmth this year, a friend mentioned that she had already been able to get tomatoes started in Florida!  Her concern was that a frost may force her to pick them before they’re ready (typically a problem in fall, but here we are) and she wondered whether the nutrient value would suffer.

On the contrary – green tomatoes are remarkably healthy, and even beat red tomatoes on a few measures!  One large green tomato (about 1 cup), provides:

  • 42 calories
  • 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber
  • 29 mg of vitamin C, half the daily requirement for men and nearly 60 percent for women (vs. 23 for red tomatoes)
  • 16 mg calcium (vs. 6 in red)
  • 623 mcg of beta-carotene (helps your body produce vitamin A)
  • 58 mcg of vitamin A, giving you close to one-tenth of your recommended daily intake
  • 10% of your daily requirement for the B vitamins thiamin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid, and just under 10% of the riboflavin and niacin you need
  • One-fifth of your recommended daily intake for vitamin K
  • 5 to 10% of your recommended daily intake for iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese
  • An important alkaloid called tomatine, which may fight breast, colon, stomach and liver cancer cells, according to research published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” in 2009

Check out my Summer Recipes list on myList for some ideas on what to do with green tomatoes (there are much better ways than the traditional “fried” version). And for added benefit, pair green tomatoes with iron-rich foods like fish, spinach, or supplements, since the vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron more efficiently.

Eating Out … Healthfully!

First off: eating out does not have to mean blowing your diet!  Even experimental foodies can enjoy all types of restaurants while keeping their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Seek out high-quality restaurants that use fresh, organic ingredients, and keep the below  guidelines in mind when you order.

Dinner
USDA_dinner.jpg / Foter / Public domain

Traditional “American”

  • Hold the:  fried foods, cheese, bacon, potatoes, huge meat portions, bread, gravy, and sweet desserts
  • Have the:  grilled chicken, salmon, salad, and fresh fruits

Mexican Restaurants

  • Hold the:  chips,fried foods, sour cream, and cheese or cream sauces (they often contain a lot of sugar, too!)
  • Have the:  guacamole,  broth-based soups, salsa, pico de gallo, salads, and grilled veggie or chicken fajitas

Italian Restaurants

  • Hold the:  fried cheese (or ravioli, or pretty much anything fried), pasta, bread and oily foods
  • Have the:  minestrone soups, tomato-based sauces, and salads

Chinese Restaurants

  • Hold the: fried rice, sweet sauces (like Mongolian beef) deep-fried meats and veggies
  • Have the: steamed veggies, steamed meats and fish, sauce on the side, and brown rice

Thai Restaurants

  • Hold the: coconut milk-based curries, fried noodles, and sweetened sticky rice
  • Have the: steamed or grilled fish, steamed veggies, and green papaya salad

Mediterranean Restaurants

  • Hold the: spanakopita, fried calamari, fried cheese, sausages, moussaka, falafel, and baklava
  • Have the:  hummus (with veggies), souvlaki, fish, nuts, beans, vegetables, and yogurt