Kale with carrots and leek serves 4
A refreshing leafy greens dish color accented with carrots and cherry tomatoes
2 carrots, cut lengthwise into halves, crosswise into 2 “ (5 cm) pieces, then into little sticks
1 leek, cut into ¼ “ ( ½ cm) wheels
2 cloves of garlic, cut into slices
8 large leaves of kale, stems removed, cut crosswise into 1 “ (2.5 cm) strips
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups (480 ml) of halved cherry tomatoes
a little bit of lemon juice
In a pan, sauté the carrots in olive oil until tender.
Add the leek, garlic, kale, and a little water, toss, cover with a lid and let steam for a couple of minutes.
When the kale is soft yet still bright in color add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cherry tomatoes and heat through.
Sprinkle with a little lemon juice and serve warm.
This simple dish goes well with cooked grains and root vegetables, also with fish or chicken.
Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse Testimonials
What I liked most about the Cleanse is that you eat very wholesome and nutritious food and are not starving. The Cleanse helps you to get rid of cravings without you even realizing it. My cravings for sugar have lessened. It feels like my body functions smoother. The Cleanse allowed me to realize that sleep is very important and should not be underestimated.
I have done the “master cleanse” on my own and it was 100 times harder. Marika has the knowledge to address your concerns and to give you options if something doesn’t work for you. I learned so much about vegetables and herbs thanks to her.
Would I do it again? Absolutely!!!! It was an eye opening experience!
I would like to thank you Marika, for this wonderful cleanse. It was once again an amazing experience and I learned much more about my body. Also, I'm so glad that it also stresses that food is not the only thing we need to turn our attentions to. I think it has taught me to respect myself more in terms of spending more time on myself and not rushing so much. I have asked myself this week what it would be like if I would not run from place to place and rush myself and other people to do things as quickly as possible? Why am I rushing so much and trying to do so much at once? Perhaps it would be better to slow down a bit.
Somewhere around the third day of my cleanse I was ready to throw in the towel and start making chocolate chip cookies. But since I had gotten to the halfway point, what’s 2 more days? Amazing how good it felt to walk up a whole flight of stairs without stopping to wheeze at the landing. I didn’t even realize the improvement until the day until after I was already easing back to my regular diet! This is something positive I can take with me to the next medical professional in an ongoing search to solve my problem – which I really did not have any more at the conclusion of my cleanse.
I am so happy. It is as though a light switch went on. My overall attitude and mental outlook is more positive and more clear. And it is consistent. No bad moods. My favorite part of the cleanse is how I feel. I feel like a balloon floating in the air -- weightless, free and happy. Also, I think the challenge of the cleanse was really good for my mind, and in turn, my body. I haven't eaten chocolate in 2 weeks. That amazes me. And now, I don't even want it. I crave the greens -- just can't get enough greens. In a way, I want to stay on the cleanse because I want to preserve this feeling as long as I can. I am doing a very slow phase out. As a Cleanse facilitator Marika is supportive, responsive and detailed.
The cleanse was so helpful in getting me back to healthy eating habits using a whole-foods approach. Marika’s knowledge is impeccable, and her answers were prompt and thorough. The instructions were easy to follow; the cleanse was truly easy-breezy! She got all participants together in an on-line community so that we could share questions, answers and experiences. It was motivating, helpful, and fun to be a part of this together with enthusiastic participants from around the world. I lost the last couple of pounds I needed to lose, and no longer crave junk food and coffee. I am looking forward to future cleanses with Marika!
This spring-cleanse has made me feel good even though I have been avoiding junk food for a long time already. I made it through the eight days without any great mishaps, only a slight head ache in the middle of the program. I followed the conversations on the online forum – and got many useful tips. I feel refreshed and composed in a soft way. The challenge now is to keep and maintain this good feeling. I am convinced there is a strong link between our food, our physical and mental health and our life style. They all go together.
The Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse is really as easy as it sounds. My favorite part was eating and not feeling famished but losing weight and gaining energy at the same time. I enjoyed all the foods and will add them to my menu in the future. The whole process gave me more motivation to, once and for all, change my eating habits so I could finally totally recover from all the damage I have caused to myself and my health.
Marika was very helpful as a Cleanse facilitator and answered all of the participants’ questions in a timely manner. The communications were well organized and although I did not meet anyone in the group I did not feel alone. Anyway, the Cleanse will be on my schedule every spring from now on.
I enjoyed the seven-day cleansing process. Since I am a vegetarian the change in the food was not remarkable for me. It was an interesting experience to start to listen more and more to the needs of my body as it became lighter and cleaner.
I became more sensitive towards food, thinking more about what kind of food I want to give to my body. I realized how important it is to take some time every day and spend it in nature, or at least walk in the park after long hours of sitting in the office. I was very happy, full of joy and energy during the Cleanse.
Marika has a lot of knowledge and was always there via the online forum when one had any question or issue that needed a clarification. Instructions were sent a week before the Cleanse started and they were comprehensive.
I’m very happy to have had such a nice experience. Thank You, Marika for that! It changed my life very much. I felt very good after the cleanse, my body seemed lighter. After the cleanse I changed my diet a lot. My food had been quite dull/one-sided up until the cleanse, but now I use the recipes from your book and feel how delicious they really are. I‘ve fallen in love with different vegetables and roots. I have lost 3 kilos and I’m physically more active now – walking and doing some exercises again. I don’t need sweets and sugar any more. I’m sure I’ll do the cleanse again in the autumn and next spring.
I am very thankful to have come across this cleanse as it came to my life exactly when I needed it the most. I had been experiencing low energy, general bloating, and the skin on my face was very inflamed. My favorite part about this cleanse was that it was truly easy. I could have easily done 8 days but decided to end on day 6 because it felt sufficient. The foods that are allowed are very tasty and very satisfying. I don’t think I even needed a snack in between the meals. After starting the cleanse, I quickly realized how my love for sweets can be easily satisfied with just fruits and root vegetables, rather than sugar. I felt very light, calm, and at ease throughout the cleanse. Most importantly, my skin cleared up and my energy level increased substantially. Marika is a wonderful coach, she responds to all concerns/questions immediately and puts in a lot of thought and depth to her answers. I am looking forward to doing this again next year!
What I liked most about this Cleanse were the comprehensive instructions including recipes and a shopping list. Also, the opportunity to get answers and solutions to all my questions and concerns via the online forum.
While on the Cleanse it was much easier to get up in the morning and I had more energy during the day, my weight dropped and my digestion worked like clockwork. The Cleanse helped me to clarify that I am lactose sensitive.
Marika is a very caring and thorough Cleanse facilitator. I liked that she gave in-depth feedback to everybody’s concerns and also joys. I would definitely do this Cleanse again.
For more information about the Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse
To book the Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse
Peppery Sauerkraut -
this recipe yields about 2 quarts
This sauerkraut has a kick to it !
What you need:
your fermenting vessel (a 2 quart mason jar or any other 2 quart glass or ceramic container with a wide opening)
a large bowl
6 small bowls
1 head of cabbage
salt (non-refined) - sea salt works well, also “Real Salt” and Himalayan salt
1 red or yellow onion
1 hot red pepper
a thumb size piece fresh ginger root
6 cloves garlic
Wash your fermenting vessel with warm soapy water, rinse and set aside to dry.
Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove its core, then cut into strips. Each time you have about 4 handfuls of cabbage cut, place cabbage strips into the big bowl and sprinkle it with 2 generous pinches of salt. Repeat until all cabbage has been cut and placed into the large bowl.
With the potato masher, pound on the cabbage, so that it breaks and softens. You will notice the cabbage becoming wet and glossy, as the salt pulls juices out of the cabbage. Let the cabbage sit for about an hour, once in a while pounding it with the potato masher. In the meantime cut all the other ingredients.
Peel the carrots and cut into rounds. Place into a bowl and set aside.
Halve the onion then cut crossways into slices. Place into a bowl and set aside.
Remove the seeds and chop the peppers. Place peppers into bowls and set aside.
Peel the ginger, chop and place into a bowl and set aside.
Peel the garlic, chop and place into a bowl and set aside.
Check back on your cabbage. Has the pounding produced enough liquid, so that the cabbage is partly submerged in liquid? If not massage and squeeze the cabbage by hand.
Then begin to fill your fermenting vessel with the prepped vegetables. Take about two handfuls of cabbage and firmly push it down into the vessel. Sprinkle with a little of all of the other ingredients. Continue layering cabbage with the other ingredients, each time pushing them down tightly into the jar. You will notice more and more liquid coming out of the cabbage. End with a layer of cabbage leaving 2 “ (5 cm) free of the top of the jar.
If there is not enough cabbage juice to cover the vegetables, add a little brine to make up for it.
The brine is made from previously boiled and cooled water plus salt. The relationship water to salt is 2 cups water (500 ml) to 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir the brine until the salt has dissolved.
Pour enough of the brine into your fermenting vessel until the vegetables are covered with liquid.
Place a clean flat round object into the vessel and add a clean weight on top to keep the vegetables immersed in brine at all times. I happen to have a flat bottomed glass dish that fits perfectly into the opening of my 9 cup sized Ikea jar. I have also used small plates and plastic lids that I have cut to size with scissors. And then I place a glass filled with water as a weight on top of it. You can use other objects as weights as well. Just make sure they are clean.
Cover the vessel with a dish towel. This will prevent dust or insects from falling into your vegetables. Never close the vessel tightly with a lid, as fermentation gases need to be able to escape.
Place your vessel into a bowl or deep plate to catch any overflow that might happen during the first days of fermentation.
Let your fermenting vessel sit out at room temperature. Check once in a while to make sure that the vegetables are always covered with the brine, as lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process. If vegetables float to the surface, mold can develop on them. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface of the brine.
Carbon dioxide is released during fermentation. So the appearance of bubbles around the submerged vegetables is a clear sign that lacto-fermentation is indeed underway.
In my experience cabbage takes at least one week to ferment. Times vary depending on the temperature in the room. After 7 days taste your kraut. If it tastes pleasantly sour and to your liking, you can remove the weight, close the jar with a lid and place it into the refrigerator for storage. If it just tastes salty and not sour enough, let it sit out a few more days or up to a week.
Good luck! And ENJOY!
For more info on the process of lacto-fermenting and its benefits click here
Two Cleanses per year will make your body cheer
As with most things in life—and especially around food and health—I advocate balance. I do not believe in taking extreme measures. When it comes to cleansing the body from the inside out, I am not in favor of “fasting,” be it a water fast, a juice fast or a vegetable broth fast.
I believe a safer way to cleanse is simply to maintain a plant-based diet for a period of time. This approach will gently nudge your body into purging toxins and metabolic waste. The beauty of cleansing with natural whole foods is that the process is kind to your body—there is nothing extreme about it. No starvation, no deprivation.
Cleansing or detoxifying the body twice a year is a sensible practice. You tune up your car regularly, so why not tune up your body as well from time to time? It may not be as simple as changing an oil filter, but we can support our body’s filtering organs—including the liver, the kidneys and the intestinal tract—by following a simple diet of plant foods and detoxifying beverages for a week or so.
Our natural detoxification system gets compromised when it is overworked. This can happen when our lifestyle fails to honor a time of rest and we stay up late on a regular basis, hindering the liver as it tries to detoxify the body during the night. It can also happen when we consume more toxins or produce more metabolic waste than the liver can handle on a daily basis. Excess toxins that the liver cannot fully process are stored in the liver itself and in fatty tissues throughout the body.
By eating very simple, light and clean plant food for a period of five to eight days, you give your digestive system a well-deserved break. Your body can utilize its freed-up energy to repair, rebuild and rejuvenate your cells, tissues and organs.
You also give your liver a chance to catch up on processing stored toxins. Part of the liver’s job is to transform fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins for easy discharge by the kidneys through the urinary tract. As your body relaxes into cleanse mode, fat cells, too, are gently nudged into purging stored toxins. A high-fiber diet helps you to eliminate toxins and metabolic waste deposited in your colon.
A cleanse is a loving gift to your body. You provide your body with the perfect inner ecology for healing on a deep cellular level when you eat delicious whole foods that are naturally mineral rich and therefore alkalizing. An alkaline reading in your blood reduces inflammation, the root cause of many diseases.
Sleep is another important component of a cleanse. If you shift your rest period to an earlier schedule—starting at 10 p.m.—you will give your body a chance to rejuvenate, repair and restore itself fully.
I offer two seasonal cleanses, one for the spring and one for the fall, because these two times of the year are naturally best for a detox. Major shifts in the seasons can be stressful and taxing on the body, and a cleanse can greatly support you in making a smooth transition from cold to warm or warm to cold.
During the cleanses, you stay away from foods commonly known to trigger allergies and produce mucus—wheat, and other gluten-containing grains, dairy, soy, eggs and nuts. When you avoid these foods, you can eliminate many reactions like feeling heavy, bloated, congested or inflamed. You can experience what it feels like to be free of digestive upset and allergic reactions to food. This wonderful feeling in your body will inspire you to keep going and stick to the protocol.
The size of your portions is not prescribed, so there is no reason for you to go hungry. The food may be simple, but you can have delicious, satisfying meals, so you will not feel deprived of gratifying taste experiences. These cleanses will be effective even if you eat enough to feel satiated—it is different from other detox programs that allow very little or no food at all. My plan allows you to have a fully satisfactory eating experience.
During a cleanse, make a point of really savoring your meals and paying attention to the signals your body sends you. Your taste buds will become more sensitive to the subtle flavors of your food, and you will be more attuned to the feeling of satiety—and know when you have eaten enough.
I have found that when you consciously give yourself permission to take good care of yourself and make the time to do so, you greatly increase your awareness of your body, its needs and its messages. A cleanse is the perfect time for a shift in that direction, inspiring you to honor your body’s communication and heed it.
The beauty of a whole-foods cleanse is that you are introduced to a number of healthful eating and lifestyle practices. When you experience how great it feels to be eating and living according to these practices, you just might want to continue the trend even after the cleanse is over.
Other pluses that come with a cleanse: You need to spend half as much time in the kitchen, and for around a week, you are free from wondering what to cook.
Some of my core beliefs regarding food have been validated by my own experience with cleanses and by feedback from participants in my guided group cleanses.
· When you eat a balanced diet of natural whole foods, it is easy to keep your blood sugar level balanced. That leads to more energy, stable moods and zero cravings.
· When you bring awareness and mindfulness to life and to food, you have loving control over your actions.
· The more natural whole foods you eat, the more your taste buds evolve and the more receptive you become to the subtle flavors found in natural foods. Your appreciation for those natural flavors grows, and you find yourself no longer drawn to overly sweet, overly salty processed and empty foods. You are naturally drawn to more healthful choices, so it is very easy to stay on track. You go from “I should eat healthier” to “I choose to eat healthy.”
The foods you eat during the cleanses are nutrient-dense, with no empty calories. While feeling satisfaction and pleasure from your food, you can lose a few pounds in the process without having to cut down on portion sizes. Losing weight is not necessarily the goal of a cleanse—it is a pleasant side effect. On the other hand, a cleanse can turn out to be a motivating jumpstart to your weight-loss efforts.
Benefits you can expect include a boost in energy level, a surge of mental clarity, an end to sugar cravings, glowing skin, less congestion, less inflammation, a sensation of lightness and internal cleanliness, a new pattern of healthful eating and a loss of some body fat.
During a physical cleanse, emotional issues can surface as well. You might feel irritated, overly sensitive, even angry. In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with the emotion of anger, and your liver might be telling you to let go of negative emotions just as you are in the process of letting go of physical toxins.
While simplifying your life, cleansing the body and clearing emotions, your mind and heart will allow you to hear your inner voice more clearly and enable you to receive new insights. Many religious and spiritual traditions include sacred times during the year when food is restricted and the focus shifts from physical sustenance to spiritual sustenance. Lent in Catholicism coincides with the timing of a spring cleanse, and Yom Kippur in Judaism coincides with a fall cleanse.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the organs that need attention in the spring are the liver and gall bladder, while the large intestine and lungs are the organ pair that needs attention in the fall. In keeping with this tradition, my spring cleanse focuses on the liver and its accessory organ, the gall bladder. The autumn detox focuses on the gut and the lungs.
Food choices for the spring cleanse are limited to vegetables and fruits, but the autumn detox menu includes grains and legumes as well because we do better with foods that are a little more substantial and warming as we move into the colder time of year.
For the same reason, we enhance our water with lemon in the spring and with raw apple cider vinegar in the fall. Both lemon and raw apple cider vinegar are cleansing and alkalizing, but the lemon has a cooling effect on the body while the vinegar is warming.
For specifics on the upcoming Autumn Detox
Oat and Berry Smoothie
1 cup orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
1 cup rolled oats
2“ piece of aloe (cut off the edges that may have thorns, then cut through the soft inner part and scrape off most of the juicy part to add to your smoothie)
1 handful of berries (fresh or frozen)
½ apple, core removed
2 tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter
Place all ingredients into blender and puree. Add a little water if you like a lighter consistency.
The aloe in the smoothie is great for the health of our digestive tract. Mucilaginous foods such as aloe become a favorable breeding ground for friendly bacteria in our intestines. And that is a good thing as we want our friendly bacteria to propagate happily and become strong in numbers to protect our intestines against harmful bacteria and microbes. In addition aloe soothes inflammation, slows transit time to enhance nutrient absorption, fights candida and improves bowel regularity.
If you cannot find a whole aloe leaf in the stores (in neighborhoods with a Latino population food markets usually carry fresh aloe leaves) look for aloe vera juice in the health food store and use 2 tablespoons of the juice in the smoothie.
When you make the smoothie with a fresh aloe leaf, save the rinds and use the inner side that will have a little of the soft and mucilaginous part of the plant attached as a refreshing toner for your face and neck in the morning. Simply rub your face and neck gently with the inner juicy part of the rind.
Aloe is a wonderfully soothing and moistening agent for our skin after sun exposure as well – use the inside of the aloe leaf or apply the juice all over your body.
Also: check out my upcoming guided online Autumn Detox with Whole Foods here
Steamed Vegetables with Lemony Soy Dressing
Nutritionally, I am a big fan of vegetables - in all shapes and colors. Luckily I also LOVE them. There are many reasons vegetables are good for us. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates, including micronutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals and in the form of protective antioxidants – compounds that strengthen our natural defenses against disease. Antioxidants can block the actions of so-called free radicals – highly reactive chemical compounds that can damage tissues and alter the genetic code contained in our cells, promoting cancer and premature aging. Interestingly, most antioxidants are actually pigments, natural pigments in the vegetable. So choose intensely colored vegetables for highest antioxidant content. When you eat a variety of vegetables, you can be sure to cover your entire vitamin, mineral and anti-oxidant needs.
There are many ways of preparing vegetables - steaming is one of them. In the following recipe you will find the perfect dressing to go with steamed vegetables that will knock your taste buds’ socks off.
You can vary the kind of vegetables used to your own liking. The ones listed in the recipe are just an example. Have fun with it and play with the colors! As you can see from the photo above I used beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts and lacinato kale when I made this dish last. As a source of extra protein I added cannellini beans.
I learned to make the dressing from my dear friend and colleague choreographer Muna Tseng, who was born in Hong Kong. I could not believe how amazingly tasty it was, when I tried it the first time.
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 piece fresh ginger, about 1½ inches (4 cm), peeled and chopped fine
juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce (I like tamari
1 tablespoon snipped chives, optional
2 red beets
3 carrots all peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cauliflower, separated into florets
1 leek, cut into ½-inch (1-cm) pieces
1 can (15 ounces or 420 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 leaves kale, stalks removed, torn into bite-size pieces
Combine the dressing ingredients in a glass jar. Close the lid and shake to mix.
Fill a pot with 1 inch (2½ cm) of water, insert a steamer basket and bring the water to a
boil. Add the vegetables – start with the beets, then add the carrots, then the turnip, then
the cauliflower – waiting three minutes after each addition. Follow with the leek, chickpeas
and kale, added at once. Steam until tender.
Serve on a bed of cooked brown rice or quinoa - spoon the rice on individual plates, then top with
the vegetables. Pour on the dressing and garnish with cilantro leaves or chopped scallions.
Asparagus Soup serves 4
This is a very fast and easy way to serve up asparagus, one of my all-time favorite spring soups. I learned to make it from my colleague Andrea Beaman.
Asparagus reduces mucus and eases constipation. It is diuretic and anti-carcinogenic. A compound called rutin helps prevent small blood vessels from rupturing. Asparagus has been used traditionally for heart palpitations.
1 medium size potato, peeled and cut into cubes
3 cups (720 ml) water
1 bunch green asparagus, woody bottoms removed, cut into 2 “ ( 5 cm) pieces
1 leek or spring onion, thoroughly washed and chopped into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
dulse flakes or gomasio (optional)
1. Boil the potato in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes
2. Add the asparagus and boil for 3 minutes, add the leek and boil for another 2 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in a blender.
4. Pour back into pot, heat up and add salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle with dulse flakes or gomasio when serving.
Note: Dulse is a seaweed and is sold as little flakes for easy sprinkling. Gomasio is a mixture of nori (seaweed), roasted sesame seeds and sea salt. Seaweeds are the most mineral rich food on this planet and using dulse or gomasio is an easy way to add them to soups, salads and sandwiches. You can find them in the health food store in the Japanese section.
Cacao Cashew Date Truffles
yields 40 truffles
All the ingredients are wholesome and nutrient dense – no empty foods here.
These truffles do melt in your mouth yet keep your blood sugar levels even.
They contain plenty of protein, good fat, fiber and superfood cacao.
Read more about the amazing properties of cacao here.
1 cup (240 ml) pitted dried dates, cut in half lengthwise (this way you make sure, there aren’t any pits left)
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 cups (480 ml) raw cashews
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or a couple of scrapings of the vanilla bean
3 pinches fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Soak dates overnight in ¼ cup water
Place cashews on cookie sheet and roast at 400 F (200 C) for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden
Process nuts in blender until quite fine, set aside
4 Process dates including any leftover soaking water and the maple syrup or honey in blender until they become an even paste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix with spatula, if necessary knead by hand to produce an even consistency
Take 2 teaspoons of the mixture and form into a small ball, rest on a paper towel first so that any excess nut oil can be absorbed
Continue making little balls out of the entire mixture and rest on the paper towel
Then transfer truffles onto serving platter
Matcha Cacao Truffles
yields 30 truffles
9 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons matcha powder
1 pinch fine salt
3 tablespoons cacao butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 drop almond essence or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons matcha powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
In a bowl mix all dry ingredients.
Warm the cacao butter in a small pot on lowest heat until molten.
Add the coconut oil and stir until molten.
Add the maple syrup and almond essence and stir some more.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Place the bowl into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Form 1 teaspoon size balls and place them on a serving plate.
Mix the dusting ingredients in a small bowl. Use a tea strainer and teaspoon to dust your truffles.
PS: It can be hard to find cacao butter (the cold pressed fat from cacao beans) in the health food store. I get mine through Amazon. Here is the link to a brand I like:
Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Organic Cacao Butter, 16 Ounces
General guidelines for lacto-fermenting vegetables
To start a batch of lacto-fermented vegetables, all you need are the vegetables, water and salt as well as a large jar with a wide opening.
The relationship water to salt is always the same: two cups (500 ml) of water to one tablespoon of salt.
The salt is needed to keep the pathological bacteria in check. It does not affect the good bacteria adversely. Once the friendly bacteria have gathered strength in numbers, the pathological bacteria can do them no more harm. The lactic acid formed in the process of fermentation eventually kills off the pathological or putrefying bacteria completely.
Lactobacillus can be found in abundance on the surfaces of all plants, especially those growing close to the earth. Your vegetables naturally come with them.
Use a large glass or ceramic jar—around two to three quarts (2 to 3 l) in size—with a wide opening.
any vegetable, cut into small, thin pieces
5 to 6 garlic cloves or a piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thick slices (optional)
a sprinkle of whole spice seeds such as caraway, fennel, mustard or cumin (optional)
a handful of fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage or tarragon (optional)
6 cups (1 ½ l) water
3 tablespoons salt
Wash your jar with hot water and detergent and set aside.
Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Stir to dissolve and let the mixture cool a bit. This is the brine.
Place the vegetables and the garlic, spices or herbs into the jar. Pack tightly, but leave about 2 inches (5 cm) at the top of the jar.
Cover the vegetables with the warm brine.
Cover the brined vegetables inside the jar with a plate small enough to pass through the jar opening. Press down the vegetables by placing a clean weight, such as a glass filled with water on top of the small plate.
Make sure the vegetables are always covered with the brine. If there is not enough brine to cover, boil some water, dissolve a proportionate amount of salt, cool the new brine to warm and then add it to the jar.
Place the jar into a bowl or deep plate to catch any brine that might spill over the rim during fermentation.
Cover the jar opening with a large plate or a kitchen towel. In the initial fermentation stage, the vegetables should be covered loosely to prevent dust or insects from falling into the mixture. But the jar should not be closed tightly so that any fermentation gases can escape.
Let the jar sit at room temperature for at least three days. Check once in a while to make sure that the vegetables are always covered with the brine, as lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process. If vegetables float to the surface, mold can develop on them. Skim off and discard any foam that might form on the surface of the brine.
Carbon dioxide is released during fermentation. So the appearance of bubbles around the submerged vegetables is a clear sign that lacto-fermentation is indeed underway.
Taste the vegetables on the third day. If they taste pleasantly sour, close the jar with a lid and place it into the refrigerator. From my experience, vegetables taste just right after three to four days, but it all depends on the temperature in the room. The process might take a day or two longer.
Do not despair if the vegetables taste just salty at first. Be patient. With time, a lovely tartness will come to the forefront and the salty flavor will subside.
Some vegetables take longer to ferment than others. Beets take at least seven days, and cabbage takes from seven to ten days to become sauerkraut.
When you refrigerate your jar of vegetables, the lacto-fermentation does not stop but it slows down considerably. Do not discard the brine after you have eaten all the vegetables—it is loaded with friendly bacteria and enzymes. Drink it as an aperitif before your meals to enhance your digestive power. (I remember from my childhood in Germany that the health food stores sold bottled sauerkraut juice for that reason.) If you find the brine too salty, dilute it with some water.
Make it a healthy habit to have some form of raw lacto-fermented vegetables every day. A little goes a long way. A sensible portion might be two heaping tablespoons full. You can have them as an appetizer before your meal, as a little side salad, or as a snack in between.
Benefits of lacto-fermented vegetables
Lacto-fermentation is the only food process that actually enhances the nutrient content of the original produce. The vitamin content can increase tenfold.
Lacto-fermented vegetables have probiotic properties. That means, they provide an abundance of friendly bacteria. These bacterial good guys replenish our beneficial gut flora
and balance out the bad guys—the harmful gut bacteria that produce toxins and attack our good bacteria.
They are a “living food” and serve up powerful digestive enzymes
Lacto-fermented vegetables protect our health because they contain antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic
They maximize nutrient absorption
in the digestive tract by increasing the number of friendly bacteria.
The friendly bacteria curb our cravings for sugar
and processed carbohydrates, de-stress our liver
and promote clear, radiant skin
Lacto-fermented vegetables store well. In the process of lacto-fermentation, as good bacteria break down carbohydrates found in the vegetable, lactic acid gets released. Lactic acid not only imparts a lovely tangy flavor, it is a powerful natural preservative
and buffers the friendly bacteria so that they can make it unharmed through the extremely acidic environment of our stomach and arrive safely in the intestines, where we need them most.
Lacto-fermented veggies are delicious. There is something about their pleasant tartness that makes you perk up with clean energy
and makes it easy to want to eat them daily.
The following recipe is for a bare-minimum broth—not for a soup stock, which would include onions, carrots, celery and spices. It contains only three ingredients: bones, water and vinegar. The vinegar is there to help pull more minerals out of the bones.
The broth can be made from meat, poultry and fish bones or from seafood shells. It is best to use bones from pastured farm animals, free-range poultry and wild-caught fish.
Make a habit of cooking bone broth. In preparation, save bones and shells from foods you eat and collect them in a plastic bag in your deep freezer. When you have accumulated enough to fill half of a large pot, it is time to make the broth.
You can prepare this broth on the stovetop at the lowest possible heat setting or in a slow cooker (such as a Crock-Pot). Either way, slow cooking gets every drop of nutrients out of the bones.
Bones from meat, poultry or fish, or shells from shellfish
1/3 cup (80 ml) vinegar, preferably raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1. Fill a stockpot about halfway with bones.
2. Add water to cover plus a little more.
3. Add the vinegar and bring to a boil. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on top.
4. Cover and simmer over the lowest possible heat for 12 to 24 hours.
5. Pour the broth through a strainer or colander into another large pot and discard the bones.
6. Strain the broth again through a cheesecloth-covered strainer to catch any small particles that might have
made it through the first time around.
7. Divide the broth into containers. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer.
If you are keeping broth in the refrigerator, be sure to boil it before you consume it. Drink the broth as a powerful mineral tonic—heat it up and flavor it with salt, pepper, chopped fresh herbs and scallions. You can also fill an ice cube tray with the broth and then use a cube or two when cooking greens or sauces. Use bone broth instead of water when cooking grains or making a soup.
Benefits of bone broth
Indulgences over the holidays, especially of the sweet and spirited kinds can lead to a depletion of our mineral reserves. And that in turn can lead to susceptibility to colds and flus in the New Year.
Bone broth is known to provide easily absorbable minerals and trace minerals.
In addition it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which both support the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones in our joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin may be helpful in cases of osteoarthritis.
Bone broth nourishes all body parts that contain collagen. These include skin, bones, muscles, blood vessels, intestines, corneas, mucus membranes, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and intervertebral discs.
It also contains glutamine, an important fuel for cells in the immune system, small intestine and kidneys. Therefore, it fortifies us in combating colds and flus and supports kidney as well as adrenal health.
Energize your body and mind by making smart food choices
Discover the 7 principles of how to
· use food to support your daily activities
· prevent dips in energy and concentration
· boost motivation and clarity of mind
· eat for blood sugar balance and weight loss and
· make food your friend and not your foe.
The complete schedule of FREE kick-off lectures in the Hudson Valley:
Sunday, January 11 @ 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm @ BEACON FARMERS MARKET
Red Barn, second floor, Long Dock Drive
Beacon, NY 12508
Wednesday, January 14 @ 6:00 – 7:30 @ pm INNER BEAUTY SALON & SPA
460 Freedom Plains Road (Route 55)
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Thursday, January 15 @ 1:00 – 2:30 pm @ NATURE’S PANTRY
436 Blooming Grove Turnpike
New Windsor, NY 12553
Saturday, January 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm @ HEART AND SOUL
500 Main Street
Beacon, NY 12508
Wednesday, January 21 @ 6:00 – 7:30 pm @ BUTTERFIELD LIBRARY
10 Morris Avenue
Cold Spring, NY 10516
THE NEW YEAR, NEW YOU WELLNESS WORKSHOP
begins January 29
The workshop is for you if you have any of the following questions:
How can I balance my blood sugar so that I do not gain weight and set myself up for diabetes?
Which oils and fats are best to use for which cooking techniques? Which should be avoided all together?
What are the best food choices for my body type?
What can I do about my fluctuations in mood and concentration?
What does it mean to balance the acid/alkaline reading in the blood and why is that important?
Is soy a health food?
What to eat for energy?
What can I do to improve my digestion?
How can a boost my sluggish metabolism?
How can get my body back in shape?
What can I do to reduce the stress in my life?
Should I be taking supplements?
The workshop is for you, if you would like to
· lose weight and keep it off … without dieting
· know the foods to eat for sustained energy, vitality and rejuvenation
· prevent dips in concentration, mood swings and diabetes
· support your daily activities by eating with awareness and intention
· protect your heart and live an active life for years to come
· learn to nourish yourself with easy to make delicious wholesome meals
The workshop is for you, if you would like to
· understand how food and lifestyle affect every aspect of your being
· boost your health, vitality, energy & overall happiness
· intentionally, mindfully and pleasurably use food to your personal advantage
· feel confident about making good food choices
· be empowered to take charge of your own health and well-being
Find all the juicy details here.
Book the workshop here.
Please feel free to ask me about payment plans. I am most happy to accommodate you by offering monthly payments that fit your budget!
Call 646-241-8478 or email email@example.com
‘Tis the season
According to traditional Chinese medicine our kidneys and adrenals require special care during these cold months of the year. The kidneys are considered the home of our life force. It is imperative to take good care of ourselves during the winter, to slow down, to rest more and to look within to preserve life force. It is helpful to eat warming foods. Meats, especially lamb and pork, are the most warming of foods. Many spices provide our body with inner warmth. Oils and fats are warming as well – use them more generously in the winter. Enjoy cooked intact whole grains as well as soups and stews with root vegetables and cabbages.
And without further ado,
here is my list of 9 wintery superfoods to keep you warm and healthy
is warming and very nourishing and will keep your blood sugar balanced for many hours. Buckwheat is rich in flavonoids that protect against illness and boost the effectiveness of vitamin C in our body. Buckwheat is a great source of magnesium which relaxes blood vessels, improves circulation as well as the transport of nutrients to our cells and lowers blood pressure. Buckwheat elevates the level of hemoglobin and is a potent remedy against reoccurring colds and flus. A mixture of buckwheat flour and warm water when applied to aching joints makes for a soothing remedy.
has a warming effect and acts as an expectorant with colds, bronchitis and flus. Cinnamon relaxes muscles, strengthens the heart, lessens digestive upset and warms the kidneys. During the winter it is recommended to eat otherwise cooling fruits like apples, pears and plums baked in the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon. A mixture of cinnamon and honey can soothe a sore throat and calm infections. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and fights yeast, E.coli, flu viruses, staphylococci and the onset of pneumonia.
warms the body, soothes rheumatoid pain and strengthens our respiratory system. Ginger gives us energy, activates our metabolism and stimulates our immune system. The essential oil that gives ginger its typical spicy taste is a relative of salicylic acid, the ingredient found in aspirin which thins the blood and can prevent heart attacks. At the first sign of an oncoming cold grate about half of a thumb size piece of ginger into a cup, add the juice of half a lemon and fill up with hot water. Add honey to taste and drink to your health.
contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral components, which makes garlic an essential food during cold times. It strengthens our immune system and eases symptoms of colds in the nose, sinuses, throat and bronchi. Thanks to its high sulfide content it is a strong antioxidant that protects our cells against cancer and premature aging. Garlic helps us to isolate iron from food and facilitates in iron absorption into the bloodstream, where it is needed for the formation of hemoglobin and oxygen transportation.
The mineral rich cranberry
also contains vitamin C, B1, 2, 3, and K as well as beta-carotene, from which the body can make vitamin A. Cranberries are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and have an overall strengthening effect on the body. Since they increase stomach acid and stimulate the pancreas to release enzymes, cranberries make the absorption of nutrients more efficient. When you have a sore throat crush a few tablespoons of cranberries, add half the amount of honey and take a teaspoon of this mixture a couple of times throughout the day. Cranberry juice is an excellent remedy for bladder infections.
, which is lacto-fermented cabbage, is probiotic, meaning life supporting. It supplies our intestines with friendly bacteria which fight bad bacteria, microbes and yeast. During the process of lacto-fermentation friendly bacteria increase the vitamin content of the cabbage tenfold. Sauerkraut is a living food that also supplies our body with valuable enzymes and thus helps with the digestion and absorption of our food. I recommend to eat the sauerkraut raw for maximum effect, even one or two tablespoons per day will be beneficial. In its raw sate all enzymes and friendly bacteria stay alive and active. You can also make a very simple and delicious salad by mixing sauerkraut with small cubes of cooked beets. Just add a little olive oil and pepper.
provide us with a concentrated amount of nutrients and energy. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, oils, protein and fiber in abundance. One handful of hazelnuts provides enough energy for an hour-long workout. They protect our kidneys and prevent the forming of kidney stones. Hazelnuts contain a lot of vitamin E, which helps to keep our cell walls strong and protects our skin from free radicals. Minerals such as magnesium, phosphor and calcium strengthen our bones.
contains fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K2 in abundance. K2 is connected to calcium metabolism and a deficiency in vitamin K2 can lead to illnesses of the circulatory system, cancer and osteoporosis. The short and medium chain fatty acids found in butter give us a feeling of satiety and encourage body fat to be burnt for energy. Butyric acid, one of the fatty acids found in butter is anti-inflammatory and protects the health of our digestive tract. The relationship of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is balanced, making butter a healthy fat.
is one of the best food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for strong teeth and bones and helps to prevent illnesses such as MS and diabetes. In the winter, when there is not enough sunlight for us to produce our own vitamin D from the cholesterol in our skin, herring is a welcome vitamin D source. In addition herring contains fatty acids that prevent heart problems, support our brain and soothe inflammatory processes in the body.
And for my local peeps in the Beacon NY area: something to look forward to:
The New Year : New You : Wellness Workshop
Starting in the end of January and through the month of February 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.
We will meet once a week for 6 sessions in the cozy setting of my home and kitchen in Beacon, NY where I will guide you to reset the clock, jumpstart your metabolism, renew your relationship with food and substantially improve how you feel, look and weigh.
Find details and a special Holiday offer here
Autumn Detox FAQ
If you are still on the fence about joining our group of international detoxers, please feel free to ask me any questions you might have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
How long is the detox?
We will start going into the detox on September 26 and start the actual detox on September 28. I recommend to do the detox for at least 5 or up to 8 days. Then is takes about 5 days to come out of the detox.
Why does it take so long to come out of the detox?
While you are on the detox 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 detox?
Not at all. All foods on the detox are quite ordinary: lemons, bananas, berries, avocados, leafy greens, lettuces, root vegetables, brown rice, mung beans, spices, raw apple cider vinegar ... mung beans and raw apple cider vinegar you will find in a health food store.
Do I need special equipment for the detox?
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 detox on September 28?
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 September 19. The online forum will be active from September 24 - October 8, but you will have access to all the communications even beyond October 8. I just will not be monitoring it any more. Should there be any questions that have not been answered on the online forum, feel free to contact me directly by email, so that I can support you.
Is it safe to continue with regular exercise routines during the detox?
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 detox.
Will it take a lot of time to prepare the meals?
No. The meals are very easy to make. Being on the detox will simplify your life substantially, allowing you and your body more rest and leisurely down time. It truly is a gift to your body.
How is the Autumn Detox different from the Easy Breezy Spring Cleanse?
The food on the Autumn Detox is a little more substantial than on the Spring Cleanse, as we are moving into the colder months of the year. Besides vegetables, greens, lettuces, fruits and berries you will also be eating glutenfree grains, legumes and warming spices.
I have never detoxed before – will it be difficult to do?
No. There is nothing complicated about the detox 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 detox.
To book the Autumn Detox click here.
Carrot Potato Gratin
11 inch Ø quiche pan, serves 4 - 6
This is a very simple yet elegant way to serve up potatoes and carrots
250 g (8 oz) large carrots
250 g (8 oz) small potatoes
100 ml (a little under a half a cup) heavy cream
150 ml (2/3 cup) sour cream
salt, pepper to taste
7 pinches freshly ground nutmeg
80 g (3 oz) coarsely grated Grana Padano cheese
20 g (1 oz) coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- Heat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F).
- Scrub potatoes and carrots with a brush and slice thinly. Cut the carrots on a diagonal, this way their surface becomes bigger and they become about the same size as the potato slices.
- In a bowl whisk the eggs, heavy and sour cream. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Butter the quiche pan and place vegetables alternating carrot and potato slices in a circular pattern slightly overlapping each other in the pan.
- Pour the egg cream mixture over the vegetables.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese and chopped hazelnuts on top.
- Cover the pan with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the parchment paper and bake for another 10–15 minutes, or until the gratin becomes golden.
Enjoy with a mixed green salad.
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? FAQ
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 transitioning into the cleanse on April 10 and start the actual cleanse on April 12. I recommend to do the cleanse for at least 5 or up to 8 days. Then it 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 April 12?
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 April 4. The online forum will be active from April 8 - 22, but you will have access to all the communications even beyond April 22. 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.
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
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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
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.