Sneak Preview: Introduction Chapter for my new Book
The book you are holding in your hands is second in a series of books that provide information and inspiration on eating, cooking and vibrant living. I consider my first book, Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm, a fundamental education in self-care and nourishment. It is a cookbook and nutrition guide all in one, a holistic feel-good companion for living well, one delicious meal at a time, one nurturing action at a time. Topics include the benefits of natural whole foods, adequate hydration and balanced blood sugar levels, the energies of food, the food/mood connection, super foods, understanding the acid and alkaline balance of our blood, deconstructing cravings and living in harmony with the seasons. The nutrition and lifestyle chapters are followed by mostly plant-based recipes for delicious, whole-food meals. A summary of the chapters from my first book are provided on page x for your information.
My second book delves a little deeper. It explains how to maintain digestive health, strengthen the immune system, cleanse the body and mind, prevent inflammation and achieve weight loss—not by counting calories or dieting, but simply by eating great-tasting, nourishing foods.
You will learn about the profound effects of breathing, awareness and pleasure—and how to use them consciously to counterbalance stress, weight gain and digestive distress. Nutrition and lifestyle chapters are followed by healthful, easy-to-prepare recipes that will expand your kitchen vocabulary. You will learn to include lacto-fermented vegetables, sourdough breads and alternative flours for baking. My recipes are always based on natural whole foods and call for just a few lovable ingredients. No complicated food preparation techniques are involved because fresh, seasonal, quality produce is all you need. No external magic is required to make it taste wonderful. And once you get a taste for natural whole foods, you will never want to go back to eating mass-produced, factory-processed, overly sweet or salty foods. And you will not find any refined sweeteners, white flour or questionable oils in this book.
My food philosophy is very simple: Choose foods that are as close as possible to what Mother Earth provides. These natural foods offer the most energy, life force and nutrients. They are the best nourishment for you and your family, and their impact on the planet is minimal. Natural whole foods are a win-win.
My approach to nutrition is integrative, incorporating the wisdom of ancient oriental philosophies with the science of cutting-edge research. There is nothing extreme about it. My recommendations are down to earth and gentle. I believe that we can’t help but be happy and healthy when our lives are well nourished by non-food as well as food sources: enjoyable exercise, satisfying work, harmonious relationships, fulfilling spiritual practices and a varied diet of mostly plant foods, with or without some products from humanely raised animals.
So often we reach for food to compensate, console or numb us when our non-food nourishment is lacking or out of balance. But food will never be able to fill that gap, to even out imbalances or undo inadequacies in these vital areas of lives. That is simply not food’s job.
Food can sustain and regenerate our bodies, creating a solid base for our health and well-being. But it can never solve the shortcomings in our relationships, our work situation, our physical activity level or our spiritual life.
However, a nourishing, satisfying and grounding diet can provide just the right amount of support and stability we need to resolve imbalances in these fundamental areas.
We all have different food requirements. In this book I serve up a healthy portion of information seasoned with a dash of inspiration to help you make smart food choices and design your own way of eating—one that fits your body and your lifestyle. You will come to understand how food works in your body and be able to embrace a healthy way of sustaining yourself that feels natural, without strict rules or regulations.
In fact, I’d like to share with you my 80/20 rule. Even if you have fine-tuned your personal food philosophy and figured out a way to eat that truly works like a charm—if you try to maintain your regimen 100 percent of the time, you may start to feel a little boxed in and develop a little resistance against it. And shortly thereafter you may just decide to abandon your wonderful food philosophy altogether. That would be such a shame!
I therefore recommend eating wisely 80 percent of the time. For the remaining 20 percent, let life happen, go with the flow and feel free to indulge in foods that are not on your list. A fling will not kill you, because you have the solid 80 percent backing you. Sometimes it is more important to go out with friends, have a good time and forget about your precious food philosophy. These times provide nourishment of a different kind: human connection, laughter, fun, social interaction and a carefree feeling—benefits that can easily outweigh the nutritional shortcomings. When you are invited to a friend’s home and the food offered is not as healthful as you would want it to be, avoid being judgmental. Enjoy it as is, accept it gratefully, relax and trust that it will not do you any harm. Most likely it was prepared with love, which outweighs any possible lack of vitamins, minerals or fiber.
There is no need to become a health-food fanatic or the food police. After all, we are only human and need a little room for play, even naughtiness. We are not perfect, and that makes us so charming! If you become a health-food fanatic, you might find yourself cooking by yourself, eating by yourself, chewing very well by yourself, and feeling quite alone, isolated and glum.
At the core of my teachings is the understanding that the best way to nourish yourself is to listen to your body and heed its messages. You can be your own health specialist. By having an ongoing dialogue with your body, you can make connections between the food you ate and the way you feel. You can recognize your body’s needs, know which foods and drinks will make it run smoothly, offer it the right kind of physical activity and sense when it needs to rest.
By listening, you can create a loving relationship with your body—and that is the cornerstone of your health. But as in any relationship where one partner is doing all the giving and the other is doing all the receiving, something is not right and the relationship is not mutually beneficial.
Your body always wants to return to a place of harmony and balance within as it strives to create a happy and healthy home for you. When you eat junk food, your body attempts to digest it for you. When you drink too much alcohol, your body does its best to flush the excess out of your system. When you deprive your body of sleep, it still gets up for you in the morning. So for a more reciprocal and rewarding relationship with your body, listen to and heed its messages. When you work with your body rather than against it, you can create abundant energy, vitality and ease instead of tiredness, depletion and disease.
Awareness is the number one ingredient for a healthy and happy body and life. Our fast pace these days is not exactly conducive to being present in the moment. Too often we rush through the day’s activities without slowing down once in a while to focus on our bodily and spiritual needs. By the end of the day, we are simply exhausted and have no sense of joy or satisfaction. We turn toward sugar to energize us, toward caffeine to wake us up and toward alcohol to relax us. These are short-term quick fixes, and they throw both body and mind out of balance. Quick fixes do not nurture the body. In the long run, they deplete us of minerals and vitamins and set us up for silent inflammation, weight gain, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.
My books are meant to nourish the mind and the belly, but also to nourish the eyes. Each recipe is accompanied by gorgeous full-page photographs taken at my farm and wellness center in Estonia, my birth country. My intention is to inspire you to start cooking right away, to seduce you into healthier eating and living.
When I cook, all senses are involved. I love the look of the food, its flavor, its scent, the sounds of cooking and the feel of holding, washing and cutting vegetables or tearing lettuces. It often occurs to me that the vocabulary of our hands is diminishing in this automated and virtual century. So many people handle only the mouse and the keyboard these days. Who does intricate handwork anymore? It has become a thing of the past. So making home-cooked meals is extremely important—because of the superior quality of the food, because it tastes so much better, because the action of cooking your own food allows you to put your energy and love into it, and also because it is a sensual, dexterous experience for your hands and fingers.
By handling the food ourselves and being fully present when we chop, stir and knead, we just might spontaneously feel a sense of gratitude, wonder and joy for the gifts of Mother Nature. We become a part of life’s cycles and feel connected, at one with life. Preparing food can be a most beautiful moving meditation.
May this book inspire you to try out new foods, recipes and techniques, to be fully present and enjoy the time you spend in your kitchen, to open up to your senses and to take in the beauty all around you, to be grateful to your body and attentive to its needs, to nourish your soul on a daily basis, and to walk a path paved with awareness, acceptance and appreciation.
May this book encourage you to take charge of your own health and well-being, to make any necessary changes in food and lifestyle, to let go of habits that no longer serve you, to trust your intuition and to create the life of your most daring dreams.
Why counting calories doesn’t count
Let’s look at how differently 300 calories in the form of a sweet pastry and 300 calories from a bowl of brown rice pilaf behave in your body.
Almost as soon as you swallow the first bite of the pastry, sugar is released into your bloodstream. This sudden infusion causes a sugar rush, a potentially dangerous spike in your blood sugar level. To counteract the high blood sugar level, your pancreas overcompensates and produces a surge of insulin. Insulin acts as a vehicle for sugar molecules—it binds them and transports them to your cells.
When your body senses a high insulin level, it tells the pancreas to suppress the production of glucagon, the hormone that allows body fat to be burned for energy. This is an adaptive mechanism: since high blood sugar is dangerous, the body works to restore balance by burning off the extra sugar in your blood first before dipping into your fat reserves for energy. In essence – a high blood sugar level prevents weight loss.
When your cells are happy with their sugar supply and there is still sugar floating around in the blood, that excess sugar is transformed into fatty acids and stored as additional body fat – adding weight.
Shortly after the initial surge of insulin your blood sugar level drops drastically to a level below the comfortable middle ground. You feel tired, lightheaded, moody, unable to focus, and unmotivated—and ready for another sugary snack. You indulge the craving and continue the cycle that inhibits weight loss and fosters weight gain.
To recap: 300 calories from a sugary pastry will inhibit weight loss, add weight, set you up to crave more sweets and cause fluctuations in your energy, mood and mental capacity.
Now let’s look at how 300 calories behave in your body when they come from a vegetable, an intact whole grain or a legume—all sources of complex carbohydrates and lots of fiber.
The fiber in these foods is wrapped around the complex carbohydrates. During digestion, the complex carbohydrates must be untangled from their fiber wrapping and then broken down into usable simple carbohydrates or sugars. This takes some time.
So when you dig into a bowl of brown rice pilaf, your bloodstream is gradually supplied with the simple sugars released from the complex carbohydrates in the meal and your body is fueled with a steady stream of small amounts of sugar. This gradual infusion does not lead to a blood sugar spike—it keeps your body happily humming along with just the right amount of sugar needed to function optimally.
In essence: 300 calories from a vegetable, an intact whole grain or a legume will provide you with sustained energy for many hours, stabilize your moods, enhance your ability to focus, curb hunger, eliminate cravings for sweets and allow body fat to be burned for energy. And … extra bonus: … These nutritious calories will not lead to weight gain.
To cleanse or not to cleanse?
If you are still on the fence about joining our group of international cleansers, please feel free to ask me any questions you might have.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
How long is the cleanse?
We will start going into the cleanse on March 28 and start the actual cleanse on March 30. I recommend to do the cleanse for at least 5 or up to 8 days. Then is takes about 5 days to come out of the cleanse.
Why does it take so long to come out of the cleanse?
While you are on the cleanse you get to eat very clean and easily digestible food. It’s kind of a vacation for your intestinal tract, so that it can heal and rejuvenate itself. It is very important to slowly get your gut used to more complicated foods so that there will be no digestive upset as you return to your regular diet. Secondly, by adding one food group at a time per day, you get to really experience the effect each new food has on your digestive system and will be able to pinpoint which foods, if any, are giving you trouble.
Will it be difficult to find the foods needed for the cleanse?
Not at all. All foods on the cleanse are quite ordinary: lemons, bananas, berries, avocados, leafy greens, lettuces, root vegetables ...
Do I need special equipment for the cleanse?
You do need access to a kitchen, a stove top and a blender. But even if you do not have a blender, I can provide an alternative way of making that dish.
What if I can’t start the cleanse on March 30?
You can always start the cleanse a little later and do it on your own timing. You could even start earlier, as I will be emailing all the instructions on March 21. The online forum will be active from March 26 – April 9, but you will have access to all the communications even beyond April 9. I just will not be monitoring it any more. Should there be any questions that have not been answered on the online forum, then you may contact me directly by email, so that I can support you.
Is it safe to continue with regular exercise routines during the cleanse?
Yes, especially if you have a regular routine that your body is used to. I do not recommend to do very strenuous exercises unless you do that on a daily basis anyway. Walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi are good ways to keep your body moving during the cleanse.
Will it take a lot of time to prepare the meals?
No. The meals are very easy to make. Being on the cleanse will simplify your life substantially, allowing you and your body more rest and leisurely down time. It truly is a gift to your body.
I have never cleansed before – will it be difficult to do?
No. There is nothing complicated about the cleanse and it is suitable for novices as well. The food is very tasty and satisfying, so you will not feel deprived at all. You can eat as much as you like and you will never go hungry while on the cleanse.
For cleanse details click here
To book the cleanse click here
Happy Spring and happy Cleansing!
Seven simple ways to honor your body
- Accept your body just the way it is
- Feed your body nourishing food
- Hydrate your body with plenty of fresh water
- Move your body regularly
- Every so often take a few deep breaths in and out
- Allow your body ample time to rest
… and once or twice a year give your body a special gift,
- Spend time in nature
like a cleanse. Spring is the perfect time for that. Give your body a chance to gently detox, eliminate sluggishness and reset its metabolism. My guided online Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse
with whole foods will help you to
- boost your energy and mental clarity
- jump-start your weight loss efforts
- end sugar cravings
- have glowing, gorgeous skin
- reduce congestion and inflammation
- feel light and clean
- establish new healthy eating patterns
- release the old and welcome the new.
The cleanse starts March 30
and is suitable for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. If you have allergies or sensitivities to wheat, gluten, lactose, casein, soy or nuts – rest assured - the cleanse will be free of all common trigger foods.
Here are the Details:
When you sign up for the cleanse you will receive step-by-step instructions on
You will also get:
- Exactly what to do (there will be no confusion)
- What to eat (clear guidelines and explanations)
- How to prepare your food (easy recipes and instructions)
- How to enhance your cleanse with non-food activities (pleasurable self-care tips and techniques)
- How to effortlessly transition into the cleanse (preparing body and mind)
- How to smoothly transition out of the cleanse (so you can retain the benefits)
- Access to a Private Online Forum moderated by me for two weeks - a place where you can ask questions and feel fully supported
Investment in your health: $ 97
By booking the cleanse before March 20
you are eligible for Early Bird pricing at $ 67
For more information click here.
To book now and save click here
“Marika is a God sent…an absolute caring and interested woman helping me to benefit from participating in her cleanse.
The cleanse was a complete change in my eating habits and choice of foods…I must say I was not a junk food eater but I did love my sweets and carbs (cake, cookies, bread & pastas).
Now, I no longer have that need
to eat sweets and I am going to continue in that direction. I learned how foods work in my system and what I should eat and not eat.
I was so happy to lose 11 pounds and am eager to continue in that way.
Thank You Marika, and I look forward to doing this again!”
To read more testimonials from last year’s Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse
For my European readers:
European credit cards do not work with my US online store. You may transfer the cleanse fee to my Estonian bank account. If booking the cleanse by March 20 you pay Euro 49, after March 20 the fee goes up to Euro 70.
Account holder’s name: Marika Blossfeldt
Address of account holder: 90127 Rame küla, Hanila vald, Estonia
International Account number IBAN: EE33 2200 0011 0224 7265
Swift code/BIC/BLZ/ABA/FW: HABAEE2X
Address of Bank: Liivalaia 8, 15040 Tallinn, Estonia
Please confirm your transfer by email to email@example.com
, so that I know where to send the cleanse instructions.
Chicken Breast in Coconut Milk serves 4
½ onion, cut into thin wedges the long way
½ fennel bulb, core removed, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cubed butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 can (14 fl oz / 410 ml) coconut milk
a generous sprinkle of turmeric
2 – 3 scallions, cut into thin slices on the diagonal
- In a wok or pot sauté the vegetables in the coconut oil until tender
- Lay the chicken pieces out on a flat surface and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika. Pat the spices into the meat.
- In a pan fry the chicken pieces in coconut oil briefly on both sides
- Add the coconut milk, turmeric and chicken pieces to the vegetable sauté, bring to a boil and stir – let simmer 5 minutes
- Just before serving add half of the scallions to the dish, save the other half to be sprinkled over the meal when plating
Serve over a bed of brown rice, quinoa or millet
The skinny on white flour versus whole grain flour
White flour falls into the category of empty foods, along with white sugar and corn syrup, because it is a nutritional void.
The reason is: the outer layer of the wheat kernels also called wheat berries has been removed. It so happens, that all the good stuff is in this outer layer: all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, proteins and oils. What remains after stripping is the starchy central part, plain carbohydrates: zero nutrition – lots of calories.
This starchy part is then ground into a very fine powder: white flour. The flour particles are so small you cannot distinguish them with your naked eye. However they have a relatively large surface area and when we eat white flour products such as breads and pasta it is very easy for our digestive juices to break down the complex carbohydrates from the starch into their building blocks: the simple carbohydrates or sugars. Because this all happens quite quickly, white flour behaves in our bodies very much like white sugar. It too can lead to spikes and drastic falls in our blood sugar level, ups and downs in our energy level, imbalanced moods, diminished mental capacity and of course weight gain.
How about whole wheat flour products? Are they any better? YES and NO!
They are better because they are not empty food. They at least contain some valuable nutrients. However, what effect do they have on our blood sugar level? Their effect on our blood sugar level is quite similar to that of white flour. Why? Because whole wheat and all whole grain flours are very fine powders as well. They too break down quickly and can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar level with all the known side effects.
To keep your blood sugar level even and manage body weight, prefer whole intact cooked grains to any flour product.
Find a lovely wheat berry recipe here
Sugar is brain food, right?
YES and NO!
Both your brain and your body need a steady stream of small amounts of sugar to function properly. The best way to achieve that is to eat the sugar in the form of complex carbohydrates found in vegetables, grains and legumes. Because these complex carbohydrates are intertwined with the fiber of these foods, it takes the body longer to first untangle and then break them down into their building blocks, the sugars. And because it takes your body more time, the sugars released from the breakdown of these complex carbohydrates trickle into the blood stream gradually and over a long period of time, providing us with exactly what we need: a steady stream of small amounts of sugar.
The beauty of this process is, that it provides you with sustained energy for many hours, keeps your blood sugar level even, keeps your mood balanced, enables you to focus well, boosts your mental capacity, keeps you motivated and does not set you up to crave sweets, does not let you go hungry and does not make you gain weight.
Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Quite the opposite is true when you get your sugars from eating candy, cakes or pastries. Because these foods lack fiber and contain simple carbohydrates that are easily digested and break down quickly – you experience a rush of sugar that creates a spike in your blood sugar level. Your body recognizes this as an emergency and overcompensates to save the day by producing a large amount of insulin. Very soon you will find your blood sugar level dropping to a level below the middle ground, leaving you tired, in a bad mood, unable to concentrate and unmotivated. What’s more, this condition sets you up for craving more sugar. Not such a pretty picture.
Therefore – to keep your brain and body happily humming along focus on natural fiber rich foods as are all vegetables, unprocessed grains and legumes (beans, peas and lentils) – they provide superior and sustained energy for your brain and body and do not lead to weight gain.
A vegetarian version of Borscht
serves 4 - 6
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red beets, cut into small cubes
2 carrots, cut into half rounds
½ cabbage, chopped
1 – 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- In a large soup pot sautee onion in olive oil for 5 minutes.
- Add beets, carrots and cabbage and sautee another 5 minutes.
- Add enough water to cover vegetables, apple cider vinegar and bayleaves and bring to a boil.
- Cook at medium temperature until beets are tender.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Gluten-free and nibsy
I have fallen in love with these cookies and have made them already a few times this winter season. They have been enthusiastically received by all our guests. Surprisingly the buckwheat flavor goes really well with the cacao nibs. The original recipe stems from Alice Medrich’s book Pure Dessert.
I have adjusted it to contain only whole foods and to be gluten-free.
Buckwheat Cookies with Cacao Nibs
yields about 60 cookies
1¼ cups (300ml) brown rice flour
¾ cup (180 ml) buckwheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (225 g) butter at room temperature
2/3 cup (160 ml) maple syrup
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) cacao nibs
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl – set aside
- In another bowl whip the butter with a hand mixer until creamy
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix until smooth
- Add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until integrated, if necessary use your hands
- Add the cacao nibs and knead until evenly distributed
- Divide the dough into 2 parts and place each half on a sheet of plastic foil. Fold part of the plastic foil over the dough and roll each half into a 1½ ” (4 cm) diameter roll. Place the rolls wrapped in the plastic foil into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C)
- Unwrap the rolls of dough and cut crosswise into 1/4“ (5 mm) thick rounds
- Place rounds on a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes
The instantly festive pomegranate
Recently I have fallen in love with the pomegranate. This beautiful creature adds a touch of festivity to all dishes.
The lustrous edible seeds have little pulp but lots of ruby red juice. Like small precious jewels they reflect the light in an enchanting way. When they pop open in your mouth you experience delightful little flavor explosions – perfectly balanced – not too sweet, not too tart.
The fruit stems originally from Persia but is now cultivated widely in the tropics, subtropics, the Mediterranean and southern California.
The seeds are blood building, strengthen the bladder and gums as well as soothe ulcers in the mouth and throat. They even expel tapeworms. Pomegranates are a great source of potassium and citric acid. They also deliver vitamins C and B. And they are very high in antioxidants, as their brilliant color alludes to, helping you to keep your cells protected and youthful.
Pomegranates keep well in the refrigerator – for up to 2 months.
What’s not to like about the pomegranate? Sprinkle a handful of seeds over your porridge, your yogurt, your salads, your leafy greens and literally any and all dishes – it goes well with fish, poultry and meat. It lifts your eating experience to a whole new level of enjoyment – both taste wise and visually. Experiment freely and have fun with it!
The photo to your right shows a simple salad made with left over whole grain pasta, orange bell pepper, fennel, napa cabbage, pomegranate seeds and a sprinkle of rice vinegar and olive oil.
Here is a quick video
on how to easily get the seeds out of the fruit.
Moroccan Style Chickpea Salad
2 carrots, cut lengthwise into half then sliced crosswise
1 can (15 ounces or 420 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1.5 handfuls of prunes cut into chickpea size pieces
1 handful of fresh peppermint leaves, cut into thin strips
1 handful almond slivers, roasted
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cups (60 ml) olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
- Steam the carrots until almost tender, set aside
- In a small pot roast the cumin for 2 minutes
- In a bowl combine all salad ingredients, except for almond slivers
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a glass jar, shake to mix
- Pour dressing over salad and toss
- Let the salad marinate for at least an hour
- Toss again and garnish with roasted almond slivers when serving
World's best blueberry tart
2 cups (250 g) whole hazelnuts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 pinch salt
a little butter
½ cup (120 ml) apple juice (unsweetened) or apple cider
1 ½ tablespoons potato starch or kuzu
¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup
¼ teaspoon almond extract or 1 drop almond essence
zest of 1 lemon
1 pinch salt
2 cups (480 ml) blueberries, preferably wild
To prepare the crust:
1. Heat oven to 200 C (400 F) and line a 10” (26 cm) springform pan with parchment paper and butter its sides.
2. Grind hazelnuts in small food processor or coffee grinder and place ground hazelnuts into mixing bowl.
3. In a small pot heat maple syrup, coconut oil and salt until the oil is melted.
4. Pour the oil mixture over the hazelnuts and mix until all becomes a uniform mass.
5. Place the dough into the springform pan and spread to form a base and sides (about 1” or 2.5 cm high). With a fork poke a few holes into the bottom.
6. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 C (400 F). Then let the crust cool down on a rack.
To prepare the filling:
1. In a small bowl mix the apple juice with the potato starch. Set aside.
2. In a small pot heat the maple syrup, almond extract, lemon zest and salt – let it simmer on low heat for a few minutes.
3. Add one cup blueberries and mix until some of the berries break and the liquid turns purple. Stir in the potato starch apple juice mixture. Once the liquid thickens, add the rest of the blueberries and stir. Pour the blueberry mixture into the crust and spread it out evenly. Let the tart set in a cool room or refrigerator for at east one hour before serving.
Cooooooling and energizing summer smoothies
If not now - when? Smoothies are a wonderful summer meal. Yes, I consider them food as opposed to a drink. Unlike juices they are for the most part a whole foods creation - and often so nutrient-dense that they will fill you up and give you clean energy for many hours to come. Since most smoothies are fruit based, I like to add some fat and/or protein to make sure you don’t get a sugar rush and to slow down the digestion process a bit so that you can really get the most our of your power-packed liquid food. When consuming smoothies, take your time, even chew. I like to eat mine with a spoon and savor every single “bite” of them.
Here are three of my favorite new smoothie recipes that will be photographed next week for my new book.
New Recipes: Summer smoothies
Cucumber smoothie with ginger
makes 2 cups
2 cups cucumber, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 slices of fresh gingerroot
2 teaspoons honey
½ cup water
Place all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime.
Blueberry smoothie with cardamom
makes 3 ½ cups
2 cups blueberries, preferably wild
2 pears, cores removed, cut into chunks
2 – 3 dried pitted dates
½ cup water or apple cider
a pinch of ground cardamom
Place all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Garnish with a few blueberries.
Raspberry smoothie with cacao
makes 2 ¾ cups
2 cups raspberries
3 tablespoons cacao
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk
1 pinch cayenne
Place all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. If you like it sweeter, add a little maple syrup or honey to taste. Garnish with a few raspberries.
Enjoy and please let me know which one is your favorite!
A brief reflection on the Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse
The whole foods cleanse was truly a joyous and exhilarating experience. We had cleansers from the US, Canada, Belgium, France and Estonia. Questions and concerns could be posted on an online forum which I monitored daily providing information, solutions and encouragement. I just have to share a few testimonial quotes with you:
“Now, I no longer have that need
to eat sweets and I am going to continue in that direction. I learned how foods work in my system. I was so happy to lose 11 pounds and am eager to continue in that way.” Lani
“It was interesting to me, that I had no cravings when I managed to ground myself by taking more time, by really staying in the present moment with my activities and attention.” Kristiina
“This cleanse was a treat, a healthy treat that ignited my desire to live healthier and more vibrantly.” Susan
“I lost some weight, feel lighter, pure and beautiful; full of faith and hope. I also noticed that my mind stabilized itself. If something negative pops up I am able to let go of it and do not hold on to it anymore.” Kaja
“I’m delighted to have lost a few pounds, putting me back at my mid 20’s weight. Sweet. I feel clearer, lighter, more energetic, and I think these things have boosted my self-image, lifted my spirits and general outlook on life.” Constance
The beauty of eating natural foods
The cleanse experience really validated some of my core beliefs regarding food:
- When you eat a balanced diet of natural whole foods it is easy to keep your blood sugar level balanced – and that leads to more energy, balanced moods and zero cravings.
- When you bring awareness and mindfulness to life, to food, you have loving control over your actions.
- The more natural whole foods you eat, the more your taste buds evolve. And you will be able to pick up all the subtle flavors found in natural foods. Your appreciation for those natural flavors will grow and you will find yourself no longer drawn to the overly sweet, overly salty processed and empty foods. You will be naturally drawn to more healthful choices, making it very easy to stay on track. You will be going from “I should eat healthier” to “I chose to eat healthy”.
Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Lacinato Kale serves 6 - 8
This is the first of new recipes to come, that I am considering including in my second book. Yep, a new book is in the works. Please, let me know how you like the soup and whether you think it is a good candidate for inclusion.
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
¼ cup quinoa, rinsed
9 cups water
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, quartered lengthwise, sliced crosswise
1 table spoon of olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cut into thick slices
1 teaspoon of olive oil
½ bunch lacinato kale, cut into ¼ “ strips
salt, pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
½ lemon juice
- Boil the lentils and quinoa in the water for 15 min
- Sauté onion and carrots in olive oil for 10 min - add to soup
- Sauté garlic in olive oil until golden – add to soup
- Add kale to soup and let simmer for 5 more minutes
- Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and lemon juice
Happy Valentine's Day!
Two scrumptious recipes to incorporate more chocolate into your life
makes about 18 macaroons
2 cups shredded coconut
½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup maplesyrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 oz (170 g) dark chocolate (70 percent cacao)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In one bowl mix shredded coconut with salt.
- In another bowl mix coconut milk, maplesyrup and almond extract. Pour this mixture over shredded coconut and mix until evenly moistened.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt by placing the pieces in a heat-resistant bowl inside a pot of boiling water, or use a double boiler.
- Pour melted chocolate into the coconut mixture and stir until well blended.
- Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place 1 tablespoon size macaroons on it. Gently press the macaroons with your fingertips to form a little pointed macaroon shape.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 350° F.
Original recipe by my colleague Terry Walters from her book Clean Start
Vanilla Cupcakes with Raw Chocolate Frosting
makes 24 mini cupcakes
½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Raw Chocolate Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl mix wet ingredients with a wire whisk.
- Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk with wire whisk until smooth.
- Grease mini muffin tin with coconut oil (make sure the bottom is well greased) and fill with batter (about 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of batter per cupcake). With a spoon push the batter into the tin and smooth out top.
- Bake for 24 minutes at 350° F
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Puree all ingredients in a blender or mix with hand mixer until smooth.
- Apply to cupcakes once they have cooled off a bit.
Original recipe by my colleague Stanzi Allan Pouthier
Chocolate is so good for you because ...
... cacao is a superfood
Cacao, also called cocoa – the ingredient that gives chocolate its character – is good for you.
Cacao is one of the most nutrient-dense magical foods in the world. It even has a mythological dimension, called the food of gods as well as the food of lovers. Chocolate has the power to uplift our moods, elevate our spirits and open our hearts.
Commercially produced chocolate is, of course, a rather processed food. The purist would say that chocolate needs to be eaten in its raw state, as cacao beans or cacao nibs (the bean crushed into smaller pieces). I remember very vividly my first experience eating raw cacao nibs. I took a teaspoonful into my mouth and slowly began to chew on the crunchy pieces. At first I felt a bit disappointed that the taste wasn’t sweet at all. But then my mind shifted toward accepting this new food for whatever it had in store. As the taste grew more intense with prolonged and conscious chewing, I came to recognize the essence of chocolate – it was like a homecoming, like uncovering a gem. I was experiencing the true spirit of chocolate! It was subtle yet powerful. There was a richness and also a purity. I had a sense of upward expansion beyond my body – I felt uplifted, energized and completely present. It was really amazing!
Cacao is a bean that grows in the tropics and contains a host of beneficial components, including magnesium, antioxidants, phenylethylamine, anandamine and tryptophan. Cacao has the highest magnesium content of any food. Magnesium provides support for the heart, increases brainpower, acts as a natural laxative, soothes premenstrual symptoms, relaxes muscles and helps to build strong bones. Antioxidants make up 10 percent of the cacao bean – an exceptionally high percentage. Phenylethylamine, also called the “love chemical,” anandamine, also called the “bliss chemical,” and tryptophan, the amino acid needed to produce serotonin, the “feel-good chemical,” are all mood-enhancing nutrients that produce feelings of euphoria and well-being.
As you can see, cacao has health benefits on the physical as well as the mental plane. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac. On the spiritual level, cacao has the subtle power to heal and to open our hearts, bringing forth a sense of receptivity, kindness, compassion and love.
Consider the richness of cacao’s gifts when you savor your next piece of chocolate. Please slow down and consciously enjoy its many levels. Try a high-quality dark chocolate. The more cacao in the chocolate, the less sugar and additives it can contain. However, as always, read the fine print. It is legal to call 41 percent cacao content a dark chocolate, but chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao is best.
And if you are really brave, try raw cacao beans or nibs. They are sold at health food stores and through raw food websites such as www.sunfood.com
Excerpted from my book Essential Nourishment
Will be posting recipes after my Baking with Chocolate Class
this Sunday, February 10.
Why I don’t recommend agave nectar anymore
Agave nectar is a natural sweetener made from the juice of the agave plant. It is high in naturally occurring fructose. Because fructose does not create spikes in blood sugar levels it seemed to be the perfect sweetener for maintaining blood sugar balance and was recommended in moderation even to people with diabetes. However, more and more evidence is surfacing that high levels of isolated fructose are detrimental to our health, leading to high triglyceride levels in the blood (heart disease risk factor) and encouraging weight gain. Similarly to high fructose corn syrup, the fructose content in agave nectar messes with our hunger mechanism. Hunger normally signals us that we need to eat something. When we eat, our appetite gradually subsides and we come to a point where we feel satisfied with the amount of food we have eaten and we stop eating. When consuming foods high in isolated fructose we do not get that feeling of satisfaction with the food, we continue to feel hungry, continue to eat and easily eat more than we need. Fructose has a way of programming our brains with a constant desire for overly sweet foods which can lead to an overconsumption of sweets as well as overweight, diabetes and all health problems related to these conditions.
As an alternative to white sugar, sweeten your foods with dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt or coconut sugar instead. Stevia (made from the honey leaf plant) is an excellent sweetener as well. The substance that gives stevia its sweet taste is not a sugar and therefor has no effect on our blood sugar level at all. It can be safely used by diabetics as well.
My personal favorite sweetener is maple syrup and we will be using it in my upcoming baking class … just in time for Valentine’s Day:
Baking with Chocolate
In this hands-on baking class you will learn to make delicious chocolate treats with the magic ingredient that has been named food of gods & food of lovers. Not only is chocolate delicious, but it is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Sunday February 10, 2 – 4 pm
494 Main Street, Beacon NY 12508
For details click here
- to register click here
The Whole Foods Spring Cleanse
I am super excited to be offering you a guided whole foods cleanse in March. And you can join in from anywhere in the world. This whole foods cleanse is a very gentle way of detoxing the body, eliminating sluggishness and resetting your metabolism for the new season. And the best thing about it is: there is no need to fast or go hungry to reap the benefits. By eating delicious foods that are naturally mineral rich and alkalizing you provide your body with the perfect inner ecology for healing, repairing and rebuilding on a deep cellular level. At the same time your body is gently nudged into purging toxins and metabolic waste.
If you would like to
- boost your energy and mental clarity
- jumpstart your weight loss efforts
- end sugar cravings
- have glowing, gorgeous skin
- reduce congestion and inflammation
- feel lighter and cleaner
then I invite you join me for the whole foods spring cleanse. Keep your eyes peeled for my next newsletter with all the juicy details.
And looking even further into the future…
Polli Talu’s summer schedule is up here
To get a feeling for Polli Talu, its garden and foods check out my book trailer here
For a complete package surrounding my PPP Wellness Retreat in Estonia click here
Discover the story behind the cover image of Essential Nourishment
by visiting Donna Currie's Food Blog COOKISTRY
What’s kale got to do with it?
I woke up on January 1 with a serious craving for kale. Luckily I had some sitting on my kitchen counter and my husband and I devoured a big bunch of it for breakfast. I made this very simple version of boiled kale:
- Rip kale into bite size pieces, discard stems.
- Fill your sink with fresh water and wash the kale by submerging and swooshing it around
- Fill medium size pot with about 1 “ of water and add kale
- Bring to a boil, constantly stirring the kale so that all parts come in contact with the boiling water – cook for about 5 minutes
- Taste the kale to make sure it is tender but not overcooked (one way to tell is by the color: the color of the kale should remain vibrantly green – once it turns olive green it’s surely overcooked and will not taste so great anymore)
- Pour off cooking water (save as a soothing mineral rich alkaline drink for yourself or use to water your house plants after it has cooled down)
- Add a sprinkle of soy sauce and a drizzle of olive oil to the kale, toss and serve immediately
I paired the boiled kale with baked eggs and it was extremely delicious and satisfying – it totally hit the spot in other words.
Now, the reason I was craving kale was probably a combinations of things:
- I love kale and I love weekend or holiday breakfasts that include leafy greens and eggs. It has become a tradition in our home.
- Kale, as all leafy greens are abundant with minerals and vitamins. They are the perfect detoxing, energizing and rebuilding food.
- After all the heavy holiday foods kale felt like the perfect balance food.
- After a generous dose of sweets over the holidays which most likely led to the loss of minerals and vitamins, kale was the perfect antidote and replenishment.
- Wanting to start the New Year in high spirits – kale provided uplifting and vibrantly fresh energy.
Is it not amazing, what food can do for you? It can support, balance, provide pleasure and heal you. Using food with awareness and intention can make a huge difference in how you feel and how you perform. Learning to pay attention to your body’s messages and cravings provides powerful information for seekers of balance, sustenance, well-being and happiness.
It is something everybody can learn. And I’d be thrilled to help you along in this process:
For my local peeps, I am offering two FREE Introductory Talks and a 6-session Breakthrough Wellness Workshop, which addresses just that:
FREE Introductory Talks
- Supporting your daily activities by eating with awareness and intention
- Getting to know the foods that provide sustained energy, vitality and rejuvenation
- Preventing dips in concentration, mood swings and diabetes
- Losing weight and keeping it off without dieting
- Protecting your heart to live an active life for years to come
- Nourishing yourself with easy to make delicious wholesome meals
take place January 10 at 7:30 pm at The Living Room
in Cold Spring, NY and on January 14 at 6:00 pm at the Beacon Natural Market
If you cannot make it to one of the Free Talks, here is a recording of a similar lecture:
The Breakthrough Wellness Workshop
starts January 24 at 7:30 pm at The Living Room in Cold Spring, NY. Remaining sessions take place January 31, February 7, March 7, 14 and 21.
Investment in your health:
Early Bird: $227 (pay by January 15)
After 1/15: $267
Single session: $50
For more information click here
To register call 646–241–8478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To book the Breakthrough Wellness Workshop click here
Kabocha Apricot Soup
What could be a better treat than a squash puree soup on a chilly autumn day? Although the
original recipe calls for kabocha squash, any winter squash or pumpkin can be used. The dried
apricots add a little twist of sweet and tart and a hint of sophistication.
1 kabocha squash, about 2 pounds (1 kg), cut into quarters, seeds and fibrous parts removed
4 cups (1 l) water
1 onion, cut into wedges
12 dried apricots, cut into halves
1 piece fresh ginger, about 2 inches (5 cm) long, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
Place the squash in a steamer basket inserted into a large pot. Add 3 cups (750 ml) of the
water and steam for 20 minutes. Reserve the cooking water. Place the cooked squash onto
a plate to cool. Use a spoon to scrape the meat from the peel.
Boil the onion, apricots and ginger in the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) of water for
Combine the squash with the onion mixture. In batches, pour into a blender or food
processor and puree, adding some of the reserved squash cooking water for a smooth
Return the puree to the pot. Add the butter and bring to a boil. Add more cooking water if
the soup is very thick. Add salt and pepper to taste
Pour into soup plates and garnish with chopped scallions.
The holidays are upon us
and here are 5 ways to SIMPLIFY – your holiday survival guide:
1 – Identify what YOU want to get out of the holiday season – it might not be the traditional holiday fare
- Maybe you would like to spend some quality time with a special person – just the two of you
- Maybe you would like to treat yourself to a lovely spa treatment
- Maybe you would like to spend some time alone, to reflect and recharge
- Maybe you would love to catch up on sleep …
2 – Plan
- You know you are going to get busy, so if you do not put your wants into your calendar now, it’s not going to happen!
- Line up your helpers – delegate responsibilities -– you do not need to do it all alone
- Take care of things way ahead of time – less frenzy in the end
3 – Tune in to nature’s rhythm and SLOW DOWN
- at the buffet
- alcohol consumption – alternate water with wine
- eating - take breaks between bites – breathe, converse, smile
- and chew – really savor your food – this way less is more
- sweets consumption – let quality rule over quantity – prefer homemade over factory production
4 – Reduce
- Spending – make a budget and stick to it
- Presents – agree to draw a name among family members and give a gift to just one person
- Carbon foot print – buy green, buy local
5 – Enjoy
- have your sense of humor with you at all times
- be yourself
- be forgiving
- go with the flow
Wheat Berry Salad with Sage
Here is a recipe for a lovely grain salad that combines flavors of almonds and apricots with honey, lime and sage. Its medieval charm goes perfectly with festive dinners. It travels well – surprise your friends and family by bringing it along. You can easily make it the day before – it keeps well in the refrigerator and tastes even better the following day, when the dried apricots have fully absorbed the dressing.
4 cups (1 l) water
1 cup (240 ml) wheat or spelt berries, soaked overnight in 3 cups water, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (120 ml) almonds, soaked overnight in 1 cup water, drained
2 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise then sliced thin crosswise
½ cup (120 ml) dried apricots, cut into small cubes
5 fresh sage leaves, cut crosswise into very thin strips
juice of 1 to 2 limes
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
Bring the water to a boil. Add the soaked wheat berries, oil and salt. Bring to a second boil, then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes. Cook only until the wheat berries are soft – remove from the heat before the berries open and lose their shape. Pour them into a sieve and rinse under cold water until cool. Place the sieve over a bowl to drain.
Submerge the soaked almonds in boiling water for 5 minutes. Then douse them in cold water. Remove the skins and break them into their halves.
Steam the carrots until tender. Rinse them in cold water and drain.
Transfer the cooked wheat berries and carrots and the blanched almonds into a large bowl and stir in the apricots and sage.
Combine the dressing ingredients in glass jar. There should be about three times as much lime juice as oil. Close the lid and shake to mix.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Let the salad marinate for at least 1 hour.
Just before serving, toss again and adjust lime juice and seasoning if necessary.
I am thrilled to announce
The Essential Nourishment Group Program
If you would like to
- Eat for sustained energy, vitality, and rejuvenation
- Stabilize your blood sugar levels
- Prevent mood swings, brain fog, weight gain, and Diabetes II in the future
- Achieve weight loss naturally – without dieting or counting calories
- Make food your friend and not your foe
... then I invite you to Beacon this fall for my private coaching program, redesigned for a group setting at half the price
of my one-on-one programs. I’ll share the principles of natural nourishment and loving self-care essential to an energized and fulfilling life as discussed in my book Essential Nourishment
This is your opportunity to substantially improve your well-being, quality of life, and the way you feel in your body.
With my seven-years of experience guiding wellness retreats at my farm in Estonia, I have come to understand that group settings are a wonderful way to learn, integrate, share, and support each other.
We will start November 17, 2012 and meet every two weeks for 12 sessions total. The last session will take place on March 30, 2013
We will meet every other Saturday from 11 am - 12:30 pm at the Beacon Art Emporium
on 500 Main Street in Beacon, NY.
As your Holistic Health Coach, I will gently guide and inspire you to make small shifts in your daily habits relating to food, physical activity, and lifestyle.
Gradually healthy habits will become an integral part of your life and unhealthy habits will subside effortlessly. You will find this process truly delightful! There will be no need for discipline or deprivation. We will move forward step-by-step. The program is doable, even if you have a very busy life.
At the end of the 12 sessions, all the small changes done on a regular basis will amount to an amazing transformation. Not only will you feel great in your body, you will have all the energy you need to do the things you love. Plus, you’ll have a much more positive outlook on life.
Each session includes a nourishing food and lifestyle lesson complete with concrete action steps, homework, suggestions for improving any areas of your health and life that you might be struggling with, as well as a celebration of your victories and progress.
You will also be provided with practical hand-outs, easy to make delicious recipes, food samples, and other health-enhancing materials and resources to inspire you to move forward.
Between sessions, you will have email access to ask me any questions that arise while working on your own at home.
I will also create an email group so that you can share observations, questions, and successes with the other participants. You will be amazed how much you can learn from each other. And we’ll have a lovely, supportive camaraderie among the group members. Before you know it, you’ll be best friends.
One of the sessions will take place in the health food store where I will offer detailed explanations of all food categories and what to look out for when you shop for healthy ingredients.
Another session will be a hands-on cooking class in my home kitchen in Beacon – we will prepare a three-course delicious lunch together, (including dessert!) using fresh, organic local ingredients.
The cost for the entire program is $137 per month (for 5 months) – a total of $ 685.
You may pay in monthly installments of $137, or pay for the entire program upfront and save 10%, bringing your total down to $ 615.50.
Early Bird Sign Up ends Nov 9
. Register by Nov 9 and receive an additional 10% off total – Investment in your health: $ 548.00
Book the Essential Nourishment Group Program now.
“The program transformed my life as well as the way I eat.” Margaret
“I feel more stable and grounded in my food practices, which affects my emotional and physical health positively and allows more creativity in my life.” Michelle
“I have lost several pounds; have more even, sustained energy through the day.” Aime
“A friend gave me Marika Blossfeldt's "Essential Nourishment" at a critical, life-changing moment. I had just suffered a mild heart attack and realized that it was time for a lifestyle change. Many people equate "diet" with "deprivation," when in fact diet really means how we eat, not just what we eat. Look at it this way: automobile-loving Americans would not intentionally put lousy, harmful gas in their gas tanks. Yet we readily fuel our bodies with food that destroys them. "Essential Nourishment" provides a healthy and enjoyable alternative. The recipes are simple, straightforward and delicious, using readily available ingredients. From roasted green beans in a little olive oil and salt (addictive), to zucchini and tomato casserole (earthy and Mediterranean) to amazing brownies made with black beans and a hint of cayenne (surprisingly superb), the food in this book makes eating well the true pleasure it should be. In addition, Blossfeldt provides detailed sections on the science of food which makes for fascinating reading, alongside pages of her own, abstract artwork. By making some simple adjustments (much simpler than I thought they would be) to my eating habits, enhanced by "Essential Nourishment", and by adding exercise to my daily routine, I have dropped more than 30 pounds, my blood pressure is percolating along at a normal level, my (bad) cholesterol level has dropped dramatically, I am sleeping well, feeling better and, in short, feel like I have been given a second chance at life -- not something that comes along too often.” Tom
Book the Essential Nourishment Group Program now.
As an extra bonus, I will guide you through a whole foods cleanse in the spring. This includes precise instructions on preparing for the cleanse and coming out of the cleanse, guidelines for the cleanse itself, recipes, shopping lists, and email support throughout. You will come out of the cleanse rejuvenated and glowing.
Nov 17, Dec 1, Dec 15, 3-week Christmas break, Jan 5, Jan 19, Feb 2, Feb 16, March 2, March 16, March 30
Book the Essential Nourishment Group Program now.
FOR MORE INFO
Please contact me with any questions you might have at email@example.com
or call 646-241-8478. I’ll happily answer any questions and respond to your concerns, so that you can make an informed decision as to whether the program is right for you.
Let me support you in your journey towards a healthier, slimmer and vibrant you!
Keep yourself nourished with hearty root vegetables and the super grain quinoa:
Quinoa beet salad / serves 6
The beets give this dish a most amazing magenta coloring. Bring this to your table and everybody will gasp with delight – guaranteed!
2 medium beets, tops removed, whole
2 cups (480 ml) water
1 cup (240 ml) quinoa, rinsed
2 pinches salt
1 bulb fennel, cut into small cubes
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 handful chopped basil plus a few leaves
juice of 1 to 2 lemons
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Place the whole, unpeeled beets into a pot, add water to cover and boil until soft, about 40 to 60 minutes.
2 In a separate pot, bring the 2 cups (480 ml) of water to a boil and add the quinoa and salt. Bring to a second boil, then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer, covered and untouched, for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Spread the cooked quinoa on a large plate to cool.
3 When the beets are soft, douse them in cold water until cool, then peel and cut them into small cubes.
4 Combine the cooked quinoa and beets in a bowl and add the fennel, scallions and chopped basil.
5 Combine the dressing ingredients in a glass jar. There should be about twice as much lemon juice as oil. Close the lid and shake to mix.
6 Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Let the salad marinate for at least ½ hour.
7 Just before serving, toss gently and adjust lemon juice and seasoning if necessary.
Garnish with basil leaves.
Estonian Book Tour starts Oct. 6
To celebrate the release of the second, updated edition of the Estonian version of Essential Nourishment
, "Looduslik toit. Täisväärtuslik elu
", lectures and book signings will take place all over Estonia:
Karask – Traditional Estonian Barley Bread
This is an Estonian folk recipe that I adjusted to include only whole foods and natural
sweeteners. The barley flour gives it a distinct, sweet taste.
4½ ounces (125 g) farmer cheese (or ricotta cheese)
1 cup (240 ml) kefir or yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup (240 ml) barley flour
½ cup (120 ml) whole-wheat flour
½ tablespoon baking soda
1 Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2 Line a rectangular baking pan (5 x 10 inches or 12 x 25 cm) with parchment paper.
3 Combine the farmer cheese, kefir, egg, salt and honey in a bowl and mix until smooth.
4 Stir in the melted butter.
5 Combine the flours with the baking soda and add to the batter. Mix well.
6 Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. To check whether the bread is
ready, insert a wooden toothpick into the center. When the toothpick comes out dry, the
bread is done.
Serve with butter or Onion Butter (page 220).
Wild Rice Salad with Hazelnuts and Dried Cranberries
6 cups (480 ml) water
2 cups (240 ml) wild rice, rinsed
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup (120 ml) raw hazelnuts, cut in half
¾ cup (180 ml) diced celery
½ cup (120 ml) dried cranberries
juice of 1 to 2 lemons
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Bring 6 cups water to a boil, stir in 2 cups rice, salt and olive oil. Let it come to a second boil, reduce heat and simmer covered 40-45 minutes or just until kernels puff open. Drain off any excess liquid.
Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish and roast until you can smell the aroma, about 10 minutes. When the nuts have cooled, remove any loose skin.
Spread cooked rice on a large plate to cool, then transfer to a bowl.
Fold in the roasted hazelnuts, celery and cranberries.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a glass jar. There should be about twice as much lemon juice as oil. Close the lid and shake to mix.
Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and stir. Let the salad marinate for ½ to 1 hour.
Just before serving, toss gently and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Dried cherries can be substituted for dried cranberries.
Off to Estonia, my summer paradise
where we conduct yoga, dance, tai chi, wellness and cooking retreats
Check out the Passion, Purpose and Pleasure Wellness Retreat package here
See entire summer schedule here
Hope to welcome you at Polli Talu Arts and Wellness Center this summer!
Paris, March 7, 2012
Cloudy descent into Paris airport – a little bumpy this landing in the city of haute cuisine.
The taxi ride to my first accommodation in the 19th
arrondissement goes smoothly: beautiful older apartment building with worn out wooden stairs and a sign to please wipe your feet. My friend is not home but his wife Paula and lovely 3 year old daughter Olivia are – she speaks Spanish, French and English – what a way to grow up. My bed is made in the office – there are big glass doors with a French balcony overlooking the court yard.
The next day the driver from the Estonian Embassy picks me up and we deliver two cases of books to the Paris Cookbook Fair grounds – nobody is there to receive the books but we leave them where the bookstore will be set up and hope for the best.
In the afternoon I check out the vegetable and health food store nearby to see whether they carry all ingredients I will need for my cooking demo on Sunday – for the most I can find everything except beets – the only beets I can find are pre-cooked. But Paula is able to get me some from another market.
First ride on the metro – everything goes well, except I don’t know that you have to push a button for the door to open – I just stand there and wait – luckily others want to get out as well and push the button for me.
In the evening I meet the Estonian Ambassador and his wife at the Folies Bergere theater for the Awards Gala. There are many categories of wine and cookbooks – many emotional, some funny, some witty responses to winning the first price. I am thinking and rethinking my acceptance speech – you only get 30 sec to say something. My book Essential Nourishment is a finalist in the health and nutrition category – 2 hours go by – and then the moment of truth arrives – I am nervous, excited, hopeful – but when Mr. Edouard Cointreau mentions my book second in, I know that I am not the winner of the first place. He says however “… a book that everyone should read” – and my book lands on third place. I will not deny that I was disappointed. C’est la vie …
It’s Wednesday, the first day of the book fair – I take the bus but halfway to where I am going the driver makes an announcement that I do not fully understand – however I get that there will be a rerouting – I stay on and hope that this rerouting will happen before we get to where I need to go. I follow the moves the bus makes on my map only to find out that it goes further and further in the wrong direction and instead of stopping every couple of blocks as he had done before there seems to be no stop in sight, I bravely walk up to the driver and ask what ever happened to rue Riquet? When he finally stops he points me towards another bus stop and tells me to take that bus back. So it is the same bus number but going the opposite direction and it will take me to where I have to go – go figure.
I arrive at the Paris cookbook fair. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. I go to the Gourmand office to pick up my certificate. It says Best Nutrition Book in the World, Third – I like how that sounds.
I get the catalog and rip out the pages that have the layout and a list of all presenters with stands on it. I start marking up who I want to speak to and approach them one by one. Everybody is so nice and almost apologetic, when they have to tell me that my book is not for them. Sometimes they recommend other publishers who might be a better fit for my book. My goal here is to find foreign publishers who would like to translate my book and publish it in their country. When I introduce my book I tell them that it won third place the day before in the healthy cookbook category and it really does not sound so bad. And they happily congratulate me. I have some promising exchanges with several German publishers and a Brasilian publisher. Lunchtime approaches and I am in the mood for a hearty lunch, knowing that dinner will be on the light side. There is a French café/restaurant in another part of the building. I study the menu but do not understand most of it. Luckily the waiter does speak English. There is a lunch deal where you get a discount if you order an appetizer and a main dish. My body tells me, go for it! My cravings for vegetables I quench with a cauliflower soup and for the main dish I order the one thing I recognize as a French classic thanks to the movie Julie and Julia – it is Boeuf Bourguignon – or something like it. I must admit that I am quite ignorant when it comes to French cuisine but am an eager student. I am not a big meat eater either but will try to eat like a Parisienne when in Paris. And again a flashback to the movie – I was tempted to make loud moaning noises just like Merryl Streep as Julia Child always did, when she dined with her husband - that expression of utter surprise and unexpected pleasure – but I controlled myself – however I must report that that beef was the most tender and juicy I have ever encountered – it literally melted in my mouth – I mean it was truly incredible – wow!
In the evening there was a party for all professional guests of the cookbook fair. A Swedish chef prepared 8 dishes for 300 people with the help of some 20 students of the Cordon Blue Culinary School. It took place in the International Show Kitchen, so we all could watch if we were so inclined. I stayed for the beginning, as it was interesting for me to see how he organizes his work and how he gives instructions to the students.
Age Defying Passion
I must admit that I had a really wonderful time performing last weekend in TREE - A DANCE, Susan Osberg’s beautiful meditative dance honoring, celebrating and being with trees.
There is the magic that always happens in theater when after a long rehearsal process in the studio everything comes together and you finally see the dance in the performance venue with images of trees and gorgeous stage lights.
The other amazing thing is that although my 53 year old body feels very different from a 35 year old body, once the performance starts all that is forgotten and you just go with the flow and with the spirit of the show. You go into performance mode, you take the stage, you go into your power. Your body feels totally connected, grounded and able.
Any hint of stiffness or restriction in range of movement dissipates and the creative juices carry you on. It is exhilarating. I am very grateful to Susan for occasionally pulling me back on stage to experience this age defying thing called dance, delicious movement, being in the moment, stretching beyond your preconceived limitations, heightened awareness,
living fully, exploration, passion …
Afterwards I feel a little more tired than I used to when I performed back in the 80s and 90s in NYC. I know I need to take good care of my body – my body is asking for it – so I take a relaxing hot shower before going to bed to soothe my muscles, I make sure I get enough sleep, I eat nutritious food …
The older I get the more I realize my body is one of the most precious possessions I have, deserving of the best loving care I can provide.
Why am I writing this?
Because I want you to pay attention to your body as well, to treat it with respect, to honor it for all it does for you, to love it just the way it is – unconditionally – to feed it appropriate foods, to hydrate it with fresh water, to allow for play and downtime, to take it outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine …
But also because I want you to identify what you are passionate about. What gets your creative juices flowing? What excites you? And encourage you to do more of that. Life is too short to be doing things you do not enjoy.
And if you are nearby, please come see these last three magic performances of TREE or join me in Estonia
for a life changing Passion Purpose and Pleasure Wellness Retreat
in August, both transformational experiences.
On a personal note
Off to Paris on Sunday! I am soooo excited! Then, on Tuesday, March 6 I will be attending the Awards Gala at the Folies Bergère Theatre and find out whether ESSENTIAL NOURISHMENT is a winner. My book has been nominated for a Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the healthy cookbook category. It is competing against three other finalists in the same category. Would you please send winning thoughts and cross your fingers and toes for me?!
Starting the day right … with breakfast
Breakfast is a very important meal, and it really should not be missed. Because breakfast revs up your metabolism and ensures that it performs efficiently throughout the day, working at tasks such as proper absorption of nutrients, accelerated brain power and optimal calorie-burning capacity. What you eat for breakfast sets the tone for the day. When you eat a meal that balances your blood sugar, chances are that all day long you will have sustained energy and stable moods.
Porridge is one great way to start the day. It provides complex carbohydrates that promote blood sugar balance and produce a gentle energy curve, delivering sustained energy for many hours. And it feels so good to have something warm in the morning, when the weather is still cold outside. By the way – it’s snowing in Beacon today.
Steel-cut oats … the over-night method
Steel-cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats – about twenty minutes – and they like to splash a lot. So to avoid the wait and the morning cleanup, I start them in the evening. Bring the water and oats to a boil, add salt and butter or oil and then turn the heat off completely. Cover the porridge and let it sit on the stove overnight. At breakfast time, simply add a little water, stir and reheat. Steel-cut oats taste great served with whole milk yogurt. If you like it sweet, add raisins or other dried fruit. Or spice it up with cinnamon or cardamom.
For 2 servings use 2/3 cup steel-cut oats, 2 cups of water, 2 pinches of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of butter. So satisfying!
A cold-climate grain,
oats are a staple food in Ireland, Scotland and England, arriving there about AD 100 from Central Asia and Russia. For steel-cut oats, which were popularized by the Irish and Scotsmen, the oat kernel is cut into two or three pieces. Oats have high protein content and are most widely used as a breakfast food. It is said that oats are a male aphrodisiac as well as an adaptogen – a food that helps the body adapt to new conditions. Oats strengthen nerves and reduce addictive cravings. Their soluble fiber helps to lower high cholesterol.
Meet, Eat and Greet with holistic health coach Marika Blossfeldt
Please join me this Saturday at 11 am at the Beacon Art Emporium at 500 Main Street in Beacon for the kick-off event for my upcoming lecture series.
Enjoy a sampling of healthy and delicious dishes from my book. I will be making the polenta with roasted sunflower seeds p 112 for sure and surprise you with a few other delectable dishes.
I will share my down-to-earth food philosophy with you and tips on how to keep up energy, balance blood sugar levels and manage weight this winter season. Eating well does not have to be complicated – let me take the mystery out of eating healthy.
Books will be for sale and I will be happy to sign one for you.
RSVP Leah Quinn 845- 765-1535
About those New Year resolutions
Sometimes I wonder whether all this goal oriented living is the way to go. Some healthy goal setting is useful for sure, don’t get me wrong. However, if we constantly live for something that will happen in the future, we might be in danger of not living in the present. If we are so fixated on the goal we might not be aware of the process. We might not be fully present to what is happing right now. By chasing the rainbow we miss being still. Without being still we cannot open up to allow things to come to us, to receive.
So I came up with a different set of resolutions this year. Maybe you’d like to add one or two to your list as well:
1. Trust the process of life
2. Listen to my inner voice and act on it
3. Consult my heart first when making decisions
4. Create moments of stillness throughout the day
5. Use every chance to appreciate beauty
6. Release the need to be perfect
7. Find pleasure in all that I do
Mushroom Barley Soup Serves 6
Here is a lovely version of
the classical mushroom barley soup. What makes this version so delicious is the use of butter,
soy sauce and sherry. I include carrots as well.
½ cup (120 ml)
6 cups (1½ l) water
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic,
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound (500 g)
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons soy
½ cup (120 ml) medium
2 carrots, halved
lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
In a large pot, cook
the barley in 2 cups (500 ml) of the water until tender, about 1 hour.
Sauté the onions and
garlic in the butter. When they soften, add the mushrooms and the salt.
Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are tender.
Stir the sauté into
the cooked barley, then add the remaining 4 cups (1 l) water, soy sauce, sherry
and carrots. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Adjust taste by adding more soy sauce or sherry if
necessary. Add pepper to taste.
ESSENTIAL NOURISHMENT has been nominated
for the prestigious GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARDS 2011.
The winners will be announced at the awards event
during the Paris Cookbook Fair in March 2012.
Are you seeing the signs? Are you noticing that it is
getting colder and darker? For nature this means a period of time when things
slow down, almost come to a halt. It is a time to go inward, to recharge your
batteries, to replenish your reserves, to reflect on the year past and to dream
of what the New Year will bring; to tend to your spiritual needs. Nights are
longer, days are shorter – signaling that indeed it is a time for rest, a time
of less activity. Please, please allow yourself to slow down. It is the right
thing to do in the winter season. You will feel more harmonious in your body
and within your environment. It is not only OK to sleep longer, it is the right
thing to do! Your soul is longing for it. Give in. Sweet surrender.
Nomination for Essential Nourishment
Essential Nourishment has been nominated for the prestigious GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARDS 2011. The “Best in the World” winners
will be announced at the awards event during the Paris Cookbook Fair March 7 –
You know, Thanksgiving is
my favorite American holiday.
I remember many wonderful gatherings and feasts
at friends’ homes from way back when I first came to New York in the 80’s. My
friends always made me, the new-comer and foreigner, feel so welcome. The
atmosphere was always warm, joyful and relaxing and overflowed with generosity.
Many years later I started to host my own Thanksgiving dinners, roasted my
first turkey, made the cranberry sauce, baked my first pumpkin pie… I just love
traditions and rituals involving food; love the human connection and the
communal delight in sharing a delicious meal. I also love the concept of
celebrating all that we are thankful for. Such a wonderful and healing thing to
do! Allowing us to become acutely aware how blessed we are indeed.
And one thing I am
grateful for, for sure - is you!
Thank you for being a part
of my community, for reading my newsletters, for trying my recipes, for taking
my programs and retreats, for buying my book, for asking questions … I
appreciate you very much!
Have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving holiday weekend and I wish
you many, many things to be thankful for!
Love and light
Here is my version of a
sweet potato side dish, inspired by Thanksgiving
simple & super delicious:
potatoes with rosemary / serves 4
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 – 2 T butter
salt to taste
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, pressed (optional)
Peel, cut into chunks and boil the sweet potatoes
until soft. Pour off cooking water and save.
Add the butter and a little of the cooking liquid to
the cooked potatoes and mash with potato masher or submersible puree stick. Add
more cooking water for a smoother consistency if necessary. Add a few pinches
of dried rosemary, salt to taste and (optional) the garlic. Mix well.
Yummy black bean
is the first bean soup I ever made. I had eaten bean, pea or lentil soups
before, but I had never actually cooked one myself. It seemed to be a big deal
to soak the beans and then cook them. But one day I got inspired and decided to
give it a try. I planned it and soaked the beans overnight for a soup to be
cooked on a Saturday. I made a big pot of it, which provided me with nutritious
food for several days. And that was the beginning of my love affair with
homemade bean soups. Now I make one every week. They are so rich and satiating
that a bowl of bean soup can serve as dinner.
cups (500 g) dried black beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
cups (2 l) water
carrots, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
tablespoons olive oil
leeks, cut into small pieces
the beans and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Skim off and discard any
foam that forms. Cook over medium heat for 1 hour.
the onion and carrots in the oil for about 10 minutes.
the beans start to become tender, add the sauté and cook for another 10
the leeks and cook for another 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves and
topped with sour cream.
There is something
I really like about men
I have noticed that men
are much calmer than women and we women could really learn from them. Men take
their time to think things through, they don’t seem to worry so much and do not
rush things. Even in the midst of crisis they keep a level head. I have come to
admire this ability and am working on integrating it into my life as well. And
it seems to be working. As a result I find myself enjoying the process of doing
any kind of work or chore so much more - which makes me think of a statement I
once read by a Buddhist monk: “If you rush while doing the dishes to then sit
down and have a cup of tea – chances are that you will rush through drinking
your tea as well.” All moments of life are just that: moments that make up our
lives – why not savor them all and bring mindfulness and care to all of them –
no matter how mundane?
30 lucky winners have been chosen
by an online random number generator to win a copy of
Dale Stalnaker Heffer
Dawn Gobel Knoblock
Deidre Lynn Smith
Diana Fink Nagy
Heather Wood Johnson
Kellie White McGarry
Linda B Schiller
Lynnette Seitz Ingram
Melissa Mann Saubers
Tricia Hagedorn Lucas
Congratulations to all of you! Please send
your postal address by email to firstname.lastname@example.org during the month
of September to recieve your copy of Essential Nourishment.
The Win a Copy of Essential Nourishment
starts July 30 - ends August 31
Get your FREE copy of Essential
To be eligible to win a copy of my book Essential
Nourishment you need to do two things:
1. Like the Essential Nourishment fb page
2. Once you are on the Essential
Nourishment fb page write “Essential Nourishment” in the comment field below
the campaign announcement
It’s that easy and you could be one of 30
lucky winners who will receive their very own paperback copy shipped for FREE
to anywhere in the world.
Offer ends at midnight NY time on August
Enjoy some sunshine
One of the things I really look forward to each spring is to be able to
take a sun bath on my back porch. On some days around noon, even if the temperature is merely 60 F and
there isn’t too much wind, I will lie down on my yoga mat and it will be just
perfect. The sun is warm enough in the middle of the day to deeply penetrate
and warm my body. And if I were a cat I would be purring from pleasure. One of
the pluses of working from home is that I can choose to spend a part of my
lunch hour basking in the sun. And I love it! As a northerner I revere the sun.
But there is more to it than pure pleasure. It is actually very important to
spend some time in the sun - without sun screen. You might be surprised that a
health conscious person like myself would say a thing like that, but unless you
get some unfiltered sun your skin will not be able to produce Vitamin D, a
crucial vitamin to help keep you healthy and young.
A sun screen factor of 8 or
more will not allow the rays of the sun to turn the cholesterol in your skin
into Vitamin D, which technically is not a vitamin but a prohormon. 20 min at a
time is a good amount of time to be out in the sun to produce Vitamin D.
Sufficient amounts of Vitamin D in the body can prevent a host of illnesses,
from hypertension, cancers, diabetes and heart disease to multiple sclerosis,
osteoporosis and psoriasis.
Take your time getting used to the sun, start with 5 - 10 minutes per
day and gradually increase until 20 minutes. When the weather gets warmer,
spend mornings in the sun, before it gets too strong at midday. After 3pm is also a good time to be out in the sun. But
use common sense and avoid getting sun burnt.
Demystifying oils and fats, part three
Processing of Oils
The highest-quality oils are called first
cold-pressed or extra virgin, and they are unheated, unfiltered and
unrefined. The name refers to a traditional method that is no longer widely
used. Today, many commercially processed oils are “pressed” in a centrifuge. No
heat is applied during extraction, so the initial process can still rightfully
be called “cold pressed.” But in a
second step, steam (heat) and solvents are used to extract more oil from the
leftover pulp, producing an oil of inferior quality. In the case of olive oil
this oil may be called olive pomace oil or pure olive oil.
high pressure, heat and chemical solvents are used to squeeze the oil out of
corn, grape seeds, safflower seeds and soybeans. These oils have high
polyunsaturated fatty acid content, so they already become rancid in the
manufacturing process. The rancid oils are then deodorized—with the help of
more harmful chemicals—in order to be made palatable. For these reasons, please
stay completely away from refined corn, grape seed, safflower, and soybean
oils. Remember, if it is not
specifically stated, that an oil is unrefined you may assume it is refined
and therefore compromised.
oils also come from sunflower seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds and wheat germ. If you can find unrefined versions of these oils, feel free to use them cold in
dressings or simply sprinkled over your cooked food once it is served. Buy flaxseed oil only if it is contained in
an opaque dark bottle and was kept refrigerated until your purchase. Keep all these last mentioned oils in the
would like to address the issue of hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated
oils and trans fats. In essence these are all the same thing. While
hydrogenation is the manufacturing process, trans fats are the outcome. All
hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils contain trans-fats. Food companies
wanted to create a cholesterol-free, easy-to-spread product with a long shelf
life—and margarine came into being. But you can find partially hydrogenated
oils even in processed liquid vegetable oils.
is a manufacturing process that uses high temperature and high pressure to
force hydrogen gas into polyunsaturated fatty acids in order to solidify them.
In essence, the hydrogen atom breaks into the double bond, takes out the bend,
and straightens out the fatty acid chain.
The polyunsaturated fatty acid has thus been transformed into a so-called
trans fat. Now it behaves more like a saturated fatty acid and packs together
well to form a semi-solid mass.
fats are biochemically incompatible with the human body. In fact, their
chemical makeup resembles that of plastic. After hydrogenation, the original
vegetable oil has turned into a grey, ill-smelling mass. This mass then gets
bleached and deodorized, again with the help of harmful chemicals. As a last
step, a yellow dye is added to make the product appear more butter-like.
The human body is unable to metabolize trans fats. They
remain in the bloodstream and are likely to collect on the artery walls as
plaque, which can lead to coronary heart disease. Other conditions
associated with trans fats are Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction and infertility in women.
decades, margarine has been touted a health food, when it clearly is not. Even
today, although trans fats are in the news and have been recognized as a
serious health hazard (in New York City, restaurants are prohibited from
cooking with trans-fats), some medical professionals still recommend eating
margarine over butter for heart health.
To sum it up:
always choose extra virgin or cold
pressed oils – that guarantees the highest quality of oils.
away from all refined oils, even those in the health food store. What the
health food store has going for it is the fact that they at least point out to
you on the label – which oil is refined and which oil is unrefined. Always prefer the unrefined versions.
Please stay away completely from partially
hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils, including so called “vegetable oils”
found in supermarkets, margarine and shortening. And because most commercially
produced baked goods are made with margarine or shortening it is advisable to
stay away from those too. Rather bake your own cookies and cakes and use good
old fashioned butter in the process.
What is your body craving right now?
As we are moving into
spring, leafy greens take center stage in my kitchen. I just love them so much
– I want to eat them every day. Leafy
greens are the most nutrition-filled land vegetables. As the
green part of the plant, they contain chlorophyll, a pigment they use to
capture sunlight and form oxygen. Leaves are, in essence, the lungs of the
plant, and consuming them brings energy to our own lungs.
You will feel a
burst of energy within minutes of eating greens. If you make them a regular part of
your diet, they will uplift your spirits and infuse you with potent sun energy.
Green is the color of spring, of renewal, of hope, of the heart chakra. No
wonder green leafy vegetables have such positive effects on us.
On a nutritional level,
leafy greens provide us with an abundance of minerals, vitamins and other
valuable substances: iron (the darker the green, the more iron), calcium (Where
do cows get the calcium to make milk? From the green grass!), magnesium,
potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Leafy greens also
deliver fiber, folic acid and, of course, chlorophyll. Chlorophyll nourishes the friendly bacteria in the
digestive tract, thus promoting healthy intestinal flora, strengthening
immunity and preventing cancer.
Leafy greens have
cleansing properties, helping to support liver and kidney function. The bitter-tasting leafy greens,
such as watercress, dandelion, arugula and broccoli rabe, are great liver
tonics. All leafy greens are excellent blood purifiers, and they improve
circulation. They help reduce mucus and clear congestion, especially in the
Please be aware of
two cautions regarding leafy greens:
--Beet greens, Swiss chard and spinach contain oxalic
acid, which can leach calcium out of our bones and teeth. Eat
these in moderation and combine them with other calcium-rich foods such as
legumes, dairy and fish.
-- Vitamin K-containing
foods such as leafy greens should be
eaten sparingly by people who take the blood-thinning medication warfarin
(commonly known as Coumadin), which prevents blood clots by blocking the action
of vitamin K. Because leafy greens are an abundant source of vitamin K, eating
them can undermine the drug’s protection against blood clots.
Leafy greens are
easy and quick to prepare. The most time-consuming part of preparation is washing the
greens. I recommend that you fill your sink with cold water, cut the greens
into pieces that suit your recipe and submerge them in the water. With your
hands, move the greens about to dislodge any earth or sand particles. If you
find a lot of debris at the bottom of your sink, repeat the procedure.
After washing the greens,
place them in a colander to drain. It is good to leave a little water on the
leaves, as it provides some steaming action during cooking.
You can steam, boil or
sauté greens. Save any cooking liquid to enjoy as a soothing and alkalizing
drink. The cooking time for leafy greens is very brief—anywhere from two to
five minutes. Always keep a watchful eye—the brightness of the green color will
give you a clue as to when they are ready. When the color turns a more vibrant green, that is your signal to check
whether they are done. If you cook them for too long, their
color changes to olive green and they lose both visual appeal and flavor. Once
they turn bright green and are ready, serve them right away, unless you plan to
use them in a salad—you would then rinse them in cold water at that point to
stop the cooking process.
When serving greens to my
guests, I complete all preparations beforehand, but I don’t actually cook the
greens until right then and there—while my guests are sitting at the dining
table. There is nothing more delicious
than freshly cooked greens that have been prepared just a minute ago.
When preparing greens, use
some form of oil or fat, whether in the cooking process or drizzled over the
finished dish, as this will help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A,
E and K. Squeezing a little lemon or lime juice or white balsamic vinegar
over the dish will help to pull more calcium out of the greens.
When buying greens, make
sure they are fresh. Do not buy greens that are limp or have turned yellow—you
do not want any wilted energy in your body! And try to use them the same day
you purchase them or the day after. Unlike other vegetables, greens do not keep
well in the refrigerator for more than a few days. So before refrigerating
them, I cut off the ends of the stems and place them upright in a tall
container of water. The stems draw in the water and keep the leaves strong and
Demystifying fats and oils, part two
Why can only certain
fats be used in cooking, meaning heated to high temperatures?
Why should others
only be used unheated?
main concern when it comes to consuming fats and oils is rancidity.
Some oils are more prone to rancidity than others. The deciding factor is the
chemical makeup of a particular oil or fat.
The building blocks of fats are called fatty acids. They
come in three forms: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
The saturated fatty
acids are straight chains of carbon atoms with two hydrogen atoms attached
to each. Because of their straight shape, the chains pack together well and
form a semisolid consistency at room temperature. Butter, ghee (pure milk fat, also called clarified butter), lard (from
pork), tallow (from beef), coconut oil and palm oil consist predominantly of
saturated fatty acids. These are very stable and do not become rancid easily.
They can be heated to high temperatures without a compromise in quality. They
can be used for cooking, baking, sautéing, and with the exception of butter,
frying. Butter, because it is not pure fat, is not well suited for frying—its
lactose and protein particles tend to burn and turn black rapidly. Ghee, on the
other hand, because it is pure milk fat, does work well for frying. For the
same reason, ghee is suitable for those with lactose intolerance. But regular
butter is fine when heated in gentler ways. It is an especially good compliment
with steamed vegetables—add some at the end of the cooking process to ensure
absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and enhance taste.
fatty acids have one double bond between two carbon atoms, leaving the two
double-bonded atoms with only one hydrogen atom each and causing a bend in the
chain. Because of this bend, monounsaturated fatty acids do not pack together
as well as the saturated ones. They become liquid at room temperature and
remain solid only when refrigerated. Olive
oil is the most commonly used oil that consists of mainly monounsaturated fatty
acids, but almond, avocado, cashew, macadamia, peanut and canola (or rapeseed)
oils are monounsaturated as well. These fatty acids are fairly stable and
are therefore suited for cooking, baking and sautéing.
fatty acids have two or more double bonds—two or more bends—which means
their molecular structure resembles that of a semicircle. They do not pack well
together at all and are therefore liquid even when refrigerated. Common oils with high polyunsaturated fatty
acid content are made from corn, flaxseeds, grape seeds, pumpkin seeds,
safflower seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, wheat germ and sesame
is the main problem with all polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Light, air, and heat affect their freshness and quality. Therefore, oils
containing predominantly polyunsaturated fatty acids should never be heated or
used in cooking. They can be used in cold dressings or sprinkled over cooked
food when served. They should always be kept in the refrigerator.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids fall into two main groups: omega
3 and omega 6. These names reflect the location of the first double-bond at
either the third or sixth position in the chain. Omega 3 is very reactive and
goes rancid particularly easily.
Omega 3 and 6 are called essential fatty acids because our
bodies cannot manufacture them and we need to get them from food. Most of the
polyunsaturated oils have larger amounts of omega 6 than omega 3. Flaxseed is
the exception, with a higher proportion of omega 3. When it comes to the
balance between omega 3 and omega 6, the best ratio for human consumption is
1:2. Too much omega 6 can lead to
inflammation and blood clotting. Omega 3, on the other hand, is
anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning. Because of the recent overemphasis on
polyunsaturated oils, many people are consuming too much omega 6 and are in
need of omega 3 to return to a place of balance—hence the popularity of
flaxseed oil and omega 3 fish oil.
that you have an understanding as to which oils are predominantly saturated,
monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—and you can always check the proportion of
each by reading the package label—you know which oils are suitable for cooking
and which are to be used only cold: use
saturated oils and fats, such as ghee, lard, coconut oil and palm kernel oil for
cooking at high temperatures, use monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil,
almond oil and peanut oil for light cooking like sautéing and baking and use
polyunsaturated oils, such as pumpkin
seed oil, sunflower seed oil and walnut oil cold in
dressings or sprinkled over your cooked food as you serve it.
Demystifying fats and
oils, part one
The cholesterol scare has many of us thinking that animal
fats are bad for us, that saturated fats are bad for us, that fat in general is
bad for us. Many weight-conscious people fear fat for its high calorie count.
However, the most serious health problem caused by fats and oils is from
neither cholesterol nor calories—it is from rancidity and unnatural processing…
The body does need fats to insulate us against the cold and
to cushion our organs and hold them in place. We need fat in order to absorb
the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K prevalent in greens and other
vegetables. Can you see how a fat-free
salad dressing does not do you any nutritional favors?
Fat plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and
therefore in the maintenance of bone health. It is no coincidence that milk comes with a fair amount of fat in it, as
do cold-water fish—both good sources of calcium. So fat-free or low-fat dairy products do not
make much sense—we need fat for effective absorption of the calcium contained
in these foods.
Fat also nourishes our skin, hair, and nails and is
important for proper brain functioning, especially in the developing brains of
babies and children.
Too much fat in our food can clog up our lymph system and
compromise our immune system. The right
amount of fat, however, slows down the digestion process just enough to allow
effective absorption of nutrients. By
slowing the speed at which carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, fat helps
to stabilize our blood sugar level. This
actually fosters weight loss.
way that fats can help rather than hinder weight loss is through their role in
the endocrine system. Our brain reacts
to fat intake by producing a chemical called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK stimulates the liver to produce bile,
which helps in the digestion of fat. CCK
also gives us the message that we have had enough food—in essence, curbing our
appetite. A bit of fat in the diet
hastens a feeling of satiety and satisfaction with what we have eaten, actually
permitting us to save calories by eating no more than we need.
Wishing you a great start to a promising New Year filled with love and light, outrageous adventures, peace of mind, new places to visit, harmony, outbursts of creativity, understanding, wondrous surprises, big dreams coming true and many opportunities to laugh out loud!