Fresh Salsa…Mildly Fermented!

Delicious, fresh tomato salsa…ready to enjoy immediately, or to ferment a bit for a healthy beneficial bacteria profile!

Delicious, fresh tomato salsa…ready to enjoy immediately, or to ferment a bit for a healthy beneficial bacteria profile!

Freshly made salsa is so delightful–it is a perfect compliment to eggs, meats, beans, you name it.  And it is one of those condiments that makes nearly everyone happy, whether they’re following Paleo Diet principles, GAPS dietary prescriptions or raw food ideals.  Or, maybe someone just doesn’t bother too much with concern for their nutrition…fresh salsa works for this group, too (and it is a great way to get some fantastic nutrition into them, with a smile on their face!)

I love preparing and enjoying food in its proper season…and since we live in the desert southwest of the U.S., all of these ingredients are here, even in winter.  This is fantastic, as this recipe is a great source of naturally-occuring Vitamin C and gut-boosting beneficial bacteria, thanks to the water kefir and mild fermentation.  Both of these qualities are real boosts when it’s cold and flu season (and this salsa tastes great!)

This is a blended salsa–in this instance, I’ve used our food processor.  However, if you only have a blender, feel free to use it.  Either kitchen tool works fine.

This recipe can be enjoyed without the inclusion of the water kefir and the 24 hour room-temperature fermentation cycle, and it will be incredibly delicious if you choose to prepare it this way.  But, if you do choose to follow the recipe as delivered in its entirety, you’ll not only have the boost to the beneficial bacterial profile, but the salsa will last much longer (remember, fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique–and when combined with the modern-day convenience of refrigeration, the combination can lend itself to an extended shelf life.) However, this benefit of the salsa storing longer in the refrigerator if mildly fermented is really a moot point–it is so tasty, it won’t last long in any case!

Mildly Fermented Fresh Tomato and Cilantro Salsa

Makes approximately 2 quarts salsa

  • Approximately 4 cups organic Cherry or Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 organic Bell Peppers, preferably red, yellow or orange, coarsely chopped
  • Approximately 1 cup loosely packed organic Cilantro, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 organic Green Onions (Scallions), rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic Pineapple and/or Mango
  • 4-5 cloves organic Garlic
  • 1 organic Jalapeño Pepper, seeds removed if you don’t want it too hot
  • 3 teaspoons Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Powder
  • 1/4 cup Water Kefir (Kombucha or fresh Whey would work as well)

Place tomatoes in the carafe of the food processor or blender and coarsely chop, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Blend/chop well until incorporated and uniform.  Spoon into 2 glass quart-sized jars, cap with lids, and leave at room temperature for 24 hours (do this final step if you’ve added some kind of culture for fermentation–such as water kefir.  Otherwise, you can simply store the salsa in the refrigerator immediately.)  If mildly fermented before refrigeration, you can expect the salsa to last at least a week in the refrigerator.  If no fermentation has occurred, then plan to enjoy the salsa within four days.

Fresh veggies for salsa--what a delight!

Fresh veggies for salsa–what a delight!

 

Tomatoes coarsely chopped in food processor.

Tomatoes coarsely chopped in food processor.

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together!

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together!

Freshly made water kefir to add to the salsa

Freshly made water kefir to add to the salsa

All ingredients blended and ready to spoon into jars

All ingredients blended and ready to spoon into jars

Salsa--lids in place and ready to ferment for a day…and enjoy tomorrow!

Salsa–lids in place and ready to ferment for a day…and enjoy tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent Primer on Real Foods, Where to Find Them and How to Use Them!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes--delicious and nutritious!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes–delicious and nutritious!

If you are keen on where to begin on how to use real foods–maybe you’re even wondering where to FIND real foods–then you’ll want to invest in the fantastic education from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  And, through the weekend of Thanksgiving here in the US, you can purchase Kelly’s trainings at HALF OFF!  Simply enter BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

What will you receive in Kelly’s trainings?  Here’s a breakdown:

For the Real Food Ingredient Guide E-book, you’ll find:

This revised version is cram-packed with new information.  What I’m most excited about is that it’s set up in a way that gives you exactly what you want in whichever format you need it in at the moment…

  • It has a newly revised 7-page quick reference guide for when you want fast answers to questions like,
    • Will you please just tell me what I’m supposed to buy?!”
    • Or when someone puts you on the spot and you need a quick reminder of “What was so bad about that food again?
    • Or maybe when you’re at the store you might need something to flip to for guidance there on various ingredients, including “good, better, best” options.
    • It’ll also help you know what to look for at your local farm and what questions to ask.
  • It has a more detailed section with facts on the different food groups and ingredients, for when you have time to dig in a little more, and it includes information on where to go for even more in-depth reading and research.
  • If you’re more of a visual learner, you’ll find an easy top ten real foods and top ten junk foods list in pictures.
  • It also includes new bonus material:  How to bring your family from junk food to real food, and how to overcome the six main obstacles everyone faces:
    1. Motivation – You won’t be willing to make a change if you don’t understand why it’s so important!
    2. Confusion/feeling overwhelmed – You’re probably sick of trying to navigate all the information from the ‘experts’ like what’s ‘good’ vs. what’s ‘not good’, especially when that keeps changing; and you just want to figure out the age-old question of “What the heck can I eat?!”  Especially before meal planning or grocery shopping…
    3. How to afford real food – You’ll learn loads of tips all in one place.
    4. Dealing with family complaints – This can wear you down at times, so I’ve got ways for you to get past this one!
    5. How to make time for real food – There are so many ways that I’ll bet you’ve never thought of!
    6. Sticking to it for the long haul – This is often what trips people up.  Life gets in the way and you find yourself slipping backward.  You’ll learn here how to prevent that from happening or how to get back on track.

And, for Kelly’s Real Food for Rookies Online Class, you’ll receive:

  • 12 weeks of online classes with videos, downloadable audios, and written materials.
  • LIFETIME access! Read/listen/watch at your leisure: on your break at work, while the kids are sleeping, in your pajamas, whatever! If you have a busy week, no big deal, just pick it back up on your own schedule.
  • Exclusive expert interviews with Sally Fallon Morell (President of the Weston Price Foundation), Dr. Kaayla Daniel (author of The Whole Soy Story), Jane Hersey (Director of the Feingold Association), Tom Naughton (Fathead filmmaker), and now one more: Jimmy Moore from the Livin LaVida Low-Carb blog!
  • BONUS: Free copy of the Kitchen Kop Real Food Guide
  • Save time and money while serving Real Food
  • Read labels and avoid dangerous ingredients
  • Make nourishing “fast food” meals to avoid last-minute trips to the drive-thru
  • Find healthier alternatives for soda pop, refined sugars, heart-killer oils, sugar-bomb breakfast cereals, factory farmed meat and more
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods that are necessary for good health
  • Take control of your health and change your family’s future!

Both of these tools are invaluable in your journey to greater health and empowerment for yourself and your family.  It takes a village to recapture  the information that’s been lost over the years in regard to how to take care ourselves with nutrition, and Kelly’s classes and information are priceless in their role of keeping you well!  And, from Thursday, November 28th until Monday, December 2nd 2013, you can get these classes and information at half price, by entering BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

Wishing you the best!  Here’s to your health and the health of your loved ones!

Ferments and Culturing…How I love Your Ways

It may not look like much, but the fermentation and culturing happening here fuels our kitchen!

It may not look like much, but the fermentation and culturing happening here fuels our kitchen!  Shown here:  water kefir, ginger bug brew, raw milk yogurt in yogurt maker, sprouted brown rice incubating in second yogurt maker and fermenting with added water kefir.

I’ve been in the very good habit lately of leaning heavily on lacto-fermentation to pre-digest the foods our family eats.  Culturing, fermenting, sourdough-ing, kraut-ing…our kitchen has been a hotbed of activity, but not always a lot of elbow grease on the family’s part.

After spending the better part of this last year reading and re-reading The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, I’ve felt compelled and encouraged to just sit back and let the bacteria do a lion’s share of the digestive work, so we don’t have to.  (The digestive equivalent of comfortably reclining, quaffing champagne and noshing bon-bons.)

And it has been a good move!

We had decided some time back to work on incorporating some grains back into our months’-long grain-free diet, and as with any move to eat grains, we did so with the expectation that they would always be properly-prepared by a long, warm-water soak before cooking.  The removal of various anti-nutrients by this simple first step is paramount to getting more nutrition from the grains, and mitigating the mineral- and protein-leaching that consuming unsoaked grains can lead to.

But adding in a little fresh culture to that warm, long watery soak–by way of  whey from yogurt or kefir, or a splash of water kefir–provided  the additional benefit of allowing the cultures to pre-digest the complex carbohydrates in the grains, leaving us with much more digestible simple sugars.  Yay!  And everything took on that wonderful, slightly-tart flavor of sourdough (and once a palate gets a taste for sourdough, anything less tastes bland and simple)–Yay again!  But possibly best of all, the grains didn’t feel like a brick in our bellies–even pancakes and hot cereal have been very well-digested, where we are full, but not at all bloated or logy.  Yay!

At one point last week, I counted 9 different ferments happening in our kitchen.  And while that certainly seems like a lot, it’s important to remember that the process of creating lacto-fermented foods requires time.  Rome may have not been built in a day, but culturing a quart of milk to become yogurt takes about a third of a day, and that’s a little longer than simply picking a container off the shelf at the grocery store.  But the benefits are innumerable if you do allow the time for your homegrown cultures to go to work for you.  Most commercially-prepared yogurt goes through a hastened culturing process, that does not allow for the more complete conversion of what are for many troublesome milk sugars (lactose)  into the gut-benefiting, probiotic bacteria.  And, if you have access to raw, grass-fed milk, then you are able to make a very nutritious food, indeed.

Similarly, making fermented veggies at home–most widely-known as sauerkraut–allows you to make a condiment teeming with beneficial bacteria, with the ingredients you choose.  Many people have issues with thyroid function–whether it be diagnosed or sub-clinical–and consuming raw sauerkraut of cabbage can actually further dampen thyroid function.  It turns out that the fermentation process does not degrade the thyroid-dampening effects of brassica-family vegetables, of which kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and many others belong.  Now, a little raw or fermented brassica veggies isn’t going to squelch most people’s thyroid activity.  But if a person is inclined to eat a few spoons’ full of fermented veggies in a day (read:  me), then, making a kraut that leans more heavily on other types of vegetation–zucchini and other summer squashes, carrots, cucumbers, onions, garlic, chard, lettuces–might be a good option.  Again, this just takes time to let those good bacteria do their good work for you.

And there are more ways we’ve been using the cultures…to make bread, to prepare beans for cooking, as a base for refreshing and calming drinks, in making pancakes, and even as skincare!  The ways to use them are only as limited as our ingredients on hand and our imaginations.  I’d love to hear from you on what you’re culturing and fermenting, what your favorite cultured foods are, how you’re using these foods in your life.  Please leave a comment or contact me–there is always more to learn and share!

Grain-Free Mini “Pizza” Turkey Loaves

All the wonderful ingredients to make these delicious little turkey loaves

Another nutritious, grain-free, easy recipe to support you during a busy week!

Just because I have a family of four and a two-career household, it doesn’t mean that I’m any busier than most everyone else these days.  All of us have many things going on in our lives.  And I know that if we don’t have foods prepared and ready to go come meal times, our choices start looking rather paltry (and for us, eating common fast-food offerings is simply not a choice.)

So, here’s another recipe to prepare ahead of time (i.e., Sunday!), and keep it in the refrigerator for lunches, a quick snack or on top of a dinnertime salad, as you work through your week.

This recipe is delicious and easy…the hardest part will be steaming the spaghetti squash.  And, this isn’t “hard,” but it is a first step.  Save the remainder of the squash in the refrigerator, to sauté in ghee with fresh basil and garlic, and serve as a quick side dish to fresh salad and these little reheated “loaves” on a busy evening. These will also be making their way into my kids’ lunch boxes this week, paired with some fresh veggies, a hunk of raw cheese and coconut crackers.

I call these “pizza,” because they have that flavor profile.  But if you chose to use thyme, rosemary, sage, omit the tomato paste, and used a little Chèvre as the cheese, they would be more in the savory, Thanksgiving-ish category.  You could also shift them toward Mexico, keeping the tomato paste, garlic, onion and oregano, and adding cumin, cilantro and chipotle.   There are countless ways to make these fit your palate!

Mini Turkey Loaves

Makes 18 muffin-sized “loaves”

  • 2 pounds Ground Turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1.5 cups cooked Spaghetti Squash, steamed and drained of excess water
  • 3/4 cup frozen Spinach
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Jack Cheese, preferably raw and grass-fed, shredded (Raw Parmesan would be great, too!)
  • 1-7 oz. jar Tomato Paste, preferably salt-free
  • 1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2.5 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 2.5 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 3  teaspoons dried Oregano Leaf
  • Olive Oil or butter for greasing muffin tins

You’ll need muffin tins for 18 “loaves.”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Grease each tin’s cups with oil to prevent sticking.  Fill each to the top with the mixture, and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.

Place on the middle rack in a well-heated oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes to resorb any oils back into each loaf.

Store in a glass, ceramic or parchment-lined plastic container in the refrigerator and consume within three days.

Turkey “loaves” ready to bake

 

Baked and cooling in the muffin tins

 

On parchment and ready to store in the refrigerator

 

Grain-free turkey loaves ready to enjoy with homemade sauerkraut and fresh greens!

 

Sauerkraut in a Jar!

Humble beginnings to a homemade kraut
Photo courtesy of Vera Almann

Homemade, lacto-fermented, raw sauerkraut is such a total delight!  And, as I enjoy my new favorite book, The Art of Fermentation, gifted to me by my sister for Mother’s Day, my appreciation grows deeper.

There are a number of different ways to start a ferment–you can use starter granules, a little whey from fresh yogurt or water kefir, some of the liquid from a previous fresh ferment, or by use of salt, as this recipe does.

And don’t feel beholden to my ingredients–this is what I had on hand from my most recent CSA purchase.Just be sure to consume it within four weeks so that the balance of healthy flora doesn’t begin to lose ground against oxidation, degrading the good bacteria you’ve worked so hard to propagate!

Jarred Sauerkraut

Makes approximately 1/2 gallon 

  • 2 medium heads of Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 English Cucumber, shredded
  • 3 Spring Onions, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 8-9 small Carrots (approximately 1.5 cups), shredded
  • 2 cups Spinach, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 4-5 tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
  • Reserve a few of the outer Cabbage Leaves to roll to compress down the kraut, if you choose
  • 4-5 tablespoons Fresh Whey or Water Kefir, if you choose
  • 2 Quart-sized Mason Jars, or 1 half-gallon Mason Jar

Using the slicing attachment on a food processor, shred chunks of cabbage (if you don’t have a food processor, you can shred the cabbage and other ingredients that call for slicing with a sharp knife and cutting board.)

Once complete, pour out into a large, stainless steel bowl, then slice and chop the onions, pepper and spinach, and scoop this mixture onto the shredded cabbage.  Sprinkle with half the salt and a little of water kefir or fresh whey, if using.

Next, attach the shredding component to the processor (or use a box grater on the countertop.)  Grate cucumber and carrots.  Pour this mixture onto the other vegetables sprinkle with the remainder of the salt, whey or kefir (if using), and mix well.

Allow all ingredients to sit a few minutes, for the salt to release the juices from the vegetables.  Use a meat tenderizer to pound the vegetables, or squeeze them hard with clean hands.  You are trying to express as much liquid as you can from the vegetables.

When you see pools of liquid in the mixture, carefully transfer everything into clean glass jars, compressing the mixture down hard with each scoop to ensure there are no air pockets in the kraut.  As you reach the top of the jar, make sure all the vegetables are covered by their juices by at least an inch, and allow at least another inch of space at the top for the mixture to rise a little during the fermentation process.  If the vegetables are floating at the top as you finish, you can roll the reserved cabbage leaves, cigar-style,  and line them up like sardines, creating a wedge between the kraut and the lid.  This will keep the kraut under its liquids.  Seal tightly.

Place in a dark, cool cupboard and do not disturb for at least three days (a week if you’re putting everything into one, big, half-gallon jar), during which the lacto-fermentation process will be well underway. (We usually wait two weeks, but you can go even longer, if you choose.) When complete, remove the jars for storage in the refrigerator.  Be careful when removing the lid–carbonation from the fermentation process may very likely give rise to juices spilling over the top.  If you’ve used the cabbage leaves at the top, discard these to the compost pile and dig in!

Enjoy with grass-fed meats, as a dollop on fresh salads or soups, or as a pairing with raw cheeses.

Fresh cabbage and a strong food processor

The shredding tool, for offering more body to the sauerkraut

 

Beautiful fresh carrots from the CSA

 

Veggies in the processor after shredding

 

Coarse Celtic sea salt

 

Veggies, sliced, shredded and pounded, with sea salt

 

Here’s the pooling from the veggies as the salt releases the juices

 

Veggies in the jar, with at least 1.5″ of headroom to the top of the jar, allowing for the expansion of fermentation.  See how everything has risen up?  I’ll be using rolled cabbage leaves to press it down under its juices.

 

Grass-fed Beef Bacon and Liver Stew

Grass-Fed Beef Bacon and Liver Stew--nutritious and tasty!

First, let me say that I have never been one to reach for liver.  Of any variety.  It is something that was not part of my upbringing, and for that matter, I’m not so sure how much a part it was of my parents’ upbringing.

However, I know how important a role it can play in health if given the opportunity.  It is a rich source of readily available Vitamin A, protein and iron.  It is a truly nutritious, restorative food.  My training in Chinese Medicine further underscores the point–it is used traditionally for building the blood and nourishing the tendons and sinews, while benefiting the eyes, and is a terrific tonic in recovery from blood loss.  All good stuff.

However, there has been a big divide between theory and practice when it comes to using grass-fed, organic beef liver as a nutritious component in my  family’s diet.  I’ve found the mineral-rich flavor and  soft texture too overpowering to my sensibilities, and I’ve not had much more success with giving it to my kids.

But just because something might be a challenge, doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make it work.  And when it comes to this gold-mine of nutrition, I find it does best when taken as small bites, and flavored with additional ingredients.

In this instance, the additional ingredients are fatty slices of grass-fed beef bacon, onions, garlic, vegetables and the ensuing rich broth that marries all of the components. In other words, I make the liver work by making it a small part of a healthy and hearty stew.

As with all the dishes I make, I strive to get as much nutrition into every spoonful as possible, and this stew is no exception.  I begin with beef I buy directly from one of our local sources, Kenny of Fishhugger.  A modern-day hunter-gatherer, Kenny allows his cattle and sheep to graze on the wild grasses of New Mexico, with the resultant meats, organs and fats being sublimely infused with the taste and scent of…grass.

Likewise, the bacon created by way of Kenny’s efforts is truly hardwood smoked, and when it’s cooking, I can’t help but feel like I’m preparing bacon that is very close to the original concept of bacon–its scent fills our kitchen with a rich smokiness that is the beautiful, authentic version of what we’ve come to know in modern times.

Additionally, another important component of the stew is the nutritious, colorful and flavorful veggies I use from our local farmer, Tonopah Rob.  We are part of Rob’s CSA program and we couldn’t be happier.  If you live in the Phoenix, AZ area, I encourage you to contact him for excellent, local, heirloom-variety, all-natural produce.  And if you don’t live in the area, please research your local farmers so you can reap the bounty of harvests in your community.

I begin by cooking the bacon on a low heat, allowing the fat to melt out, then add the liver, which has been thinly sliced.  Next I add the onion, wait a few minutes, stir a couple of times, then add the veggies.  After about 25″ of cooking, with a stir of the ingredients from the bottom to the top every few minutes, I add the seasonings, mirin, chopped garlic and 6 cups of boiling water.  Then I cover the stew with a tight-fitting lid, and turn off the heat.

I like to serve this stew with a spoonful or two of raw sauerkraut.  The salty tartness is a terrific pairing with the smoky, mild sweetness of the broth.

And, for the record, the kids have been enjoying this stew, too!  It feels great to feed them such nutritious food (and not have to struggle to do so!)

Grass-Fed Beef Bacon and Liver Stew

Makes 10-12 servings 

Ingredients

10-12 slices Grass-fed Beef Bacon, sliced into 1″ slices

3 ounces Grass-fed Beef liver, thinly sliced into 1″ pieces

1 large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

1 medium-sized Green Cabbage, thinly sliced

2 cups Kale, stems removed and chopped

6 Shiitake Mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups Carrots, 1/4″ slices

2 Zucchini, 1/4″ slices

1 tablespoon Garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon powdered Sage

3-4 Bay Leaves

2-3 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt

3 tablespoons Mirin (Japanese Cooking Wine)

6 cups Purified Hot Water

In a large soup pot, cook bacon slices on low heat, then add the sliced liver.  Cook both for 5-10″, allowing the fat to melt out onto the bottom of the  pan, then add the sliced onions.  Stir all occasionally,  and cook for another 5″ before adding the cabbage and kale.  Stir from the bottom, bringing the hot oil and meat over the greens, allowing them to wilt down.  Next add the rest of the vegetables, salt, bay leaves and sage.  Cook for another 15-20″, stirring from the bottom to the top periodically.  Finally, add the hot water, mirin and garlic, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and remove from the heat.  After 15-20″, spoon out into bowls and top with fresh, raw sauerkraut.

Grass-fed beef bacon slices

 

Carrots directly from Tonopah Rob's All-Natural Farm

 

Bacon and liver cooking

 

Onions added to bacon and liver

 

Cabbage over bacon and liver--looks like a lot of greens, but...

 

...it cooks right down after a few minutes

 

Everything melding nicely, about to add the garlic, water and mirin

 

Stew served and ready for a spoonful or two of fresh sauerkraut!

Food as Our Medicine

Breakfast of turkey bacon, broccolini and zucchini--just add some eggs, spring mix and avocado!

At the foundation of natural medicine should be a healthy, balanced diet.  Supplements and therapies are just that—supplemental and therapeutic means to affect change in the body.  However, it is the day-in, day-out practice of eating that is truly what makes a difference in health over the long haul. So, what does this look like from a practical standpoint?

Many years of professional and personal research, practice and plain tinkering have led me to some basic tenets that I’d like to share. I’ve found the culmination of many dietary questions being answered in clear detail in Dr. Jack Tips’ books, The Weight is Over, and The Pro-Vita Plan.

Eat mostly vegetables, and do so with each meal 

Shoot for mostly raw, with some cooked just to the point of softening.  Definitely do your best to make them organic, seasonal and local. If  not organically-grown, soak your produce for 20 minutes in a tub of clean water, with a few drops of grapefruit seed extract included to kill bacteria and other germs.  Rinse them under fresh water, then let them air-dry on towels before placing them in the crisper for safekeeping.

Raw produce allows our bodies to use the inherent enzymes in the produce to help with the pre-digestion of the meal.  Likewise, because we are not herbivores by design, we need to have the cell wall of the plants we eat partially broken down to extrude the nutrition found in the plant matter, and heating is a great way to meet this need; therefore, the need for some cooked vegetables as well.

Eating organically means the plants were grown in more nutrient-bearing soil, and that they are free of toxic residues from pesticides, fungicides, etc. Eating locally and in-season means we are eating foods that are in keeping with the biorhythm of our locale, which helps to support the nutrition needed for a given time and place.

Additionally, foods that are local and in-season can be picked at their ripeness, further enhancing their nutrition profile. This can look like a salad of mixed spring greens, or freshly made cole slaw, or a crudités platter.  Pair this with steamed vegetables like zucchini, carrots, parsnips, or sauté some spinach or collard greens with onions.  A homemade marinara sauce, full of lightly cooked veggies with onions and garlic would be a great choice, too.

Eat your heaviest meal in the morning, followed by your next heaviest at lunch, and your lightest at dinner

Eat more protein at the start of the day, and lighter carbohydrates at the end of the day.  Limit the amount of liquid (preferably water) with your meals. Our bodies run on natural biorhythms, and one facet of this is that we tend to produce more hydrochloric acid (HCl) as the day begins.  HCl has many important functions, but breaking down protein is one of its greatest.

Of the three macronutrients—carbohydrates, fats and proteins—protein is the most important for building healthy new tissue.  However, protein is also the most complicated of the three to digest and utilize.  Therefore, capitalizing on the body’s natural proclivity for protein digestion in the morning makes good sense.

Additionally, having the heaviest protein meal in the morning allows the body to digest and put to use the nutrition needed for the rest of the day, when our activity levels are highest.  A meal of softly-scrambled, free-range organic eggs with sautéed spinach, topped with a dollop of organic, plain yogurt and a side of sliced tomato and avocado will garner a balanced energy throughout the remainder of the day (even during the 3 o’clock slump!) Lunch should be a variation on the theme set out at morning, and ideally should be paced about 4 ½ hours later, allowing ample time for the digestion of the first meal.

A mixed greens’ salad with broiled, organic chicken or wild-caught fish, topped with a few soaked sunflower seeds and some sautéed vegetables from dinner the night prior, drizzled with walnut oil or cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, some fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of herbs or garlic would make for a delightful, nutritious mid-day meal.

Finally, dinner should be the lightest meal of the day, more focused on complex carbohydrates, which are easiest of the three macronutrients to digest.  We don’t need heavy building as the day winds down—rather, it is a time of rest and recovery, and bogging down the system with a heavy protein meal leads to lymphatic congestion and disordered sleep, among other issues.  This meal should consist of sautéed vegetables, possibly with some soaked and steamed quinoa or amaranth, topped with a little butter, or possibly a baked sweet potato.  A piece of fresh, in-season fruit makes for a lovely dessert.

However, if you find that this “lightest” meal is just a little too light to make it comfortably through the evening, then do have a little protein–maybe 2-3 ounces of broiled fish with a salad, or some braised greens and onions with 2-3 ounces of turkey.  Just keep the portion size of the entire meal smaller than the first 2 meals, and complete eating at least a couple of hours before sleep.

Don’t mix carbohydrates with proteins

The reason for this lies in a point that was made earlier—protein is more difficult to digest than carbohydrates, and when a person eats a meal that is predominately carbohydrate, with some protein, the body begins producing the enzymes necessary for carbohydrate digestion, rather than the more challenging (and very different in composition) protein digestion.  Doing so digests the carbohydrates, but leaves the proteins not fully digested, leading to fermentation, gas, improper nutrient breakdown and indigestion.

So, eat your carbs (sprouted and non-sprouted grains, breads, tortillas, pastas, starchy vegetables, over-cooked beans, fruit, milk, sweeteners) in a separate meal from your proteins (eggs, meats, soaked/sprouted/gently cooked beans, cheeses, yogurt and other cultured dairy, nuts.)

Here is a breakdown of the common macronutrients, so you can more easily decide what goes with what, and when it should be eaten

Very starchy carbohydrates—avoid consuming with proteins, but fine with moderate fats

  • All grains and grain products
  • Overcooked beans (not sprouted beans gently cooked below the simmer point)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Cooked and baked potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabagas
  • Yams
  • Split peas

Carbohydrates that are medium starch, a small amount with protein should be fine, and fine with fats

  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Lightly cooked corn
  • Daikon radish
  • Jicama
  • Okra
  • Parsnips
  • English snow peas
  • Radishes
  • Raw summer squashes (crookneck, zucchini, etc.)
  • Rhubarb
  • Hard squashes (acorn, banana, spaghetti, etc.)
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts

Carbohydrates that are non-starchy, an excellent choice with fats and proteins

  • Most sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beet tops
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Greens
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuces
  • Onions
  • Sea vegetables
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Garlic
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes

Fats, fine with proteins and carbohydrates

  • All oils, from vegetable and animal sources
  • Lard
  • Butter

Proteins, consume with fats and non-starchy carbohydrates

  • Beans that are sprouted and cooked just below the simmer
  • Beet leaves
  • Chesses
  • Chlorella
  • Green coconuts’ milk
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Dulse
  • Eggs
  • Gelatin
  • All meats
  • Milk
  • Miso
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Peanuts
  • Dried peas
  • Seeds
  • Seitan, tempeh and tofu
  • Tahini
  • Wild rice

              —

Coconut Fish with Braised Vegetables

Coconut fish with braised vegetables is lightly sweet, in the tradition of Hawaiian fare. It is rich in healthy fats, Vitamin A and protein, and is naturally gluten-free.

Serves 2 
• 2- 4 or 6 oz. fillets of fresh boneless sablefish, sockeye salmon, or halibut , rinsed and dried

• 1 ¼ cup cooked Spaghetti Squash

• 1 Zucchini, sliced and chopped in ½” pieces

• ½ large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

• Ghee or Coconut Oil

• Coconut Flour for dredging

• Sea Salt

• 1 Avocado, thinly sliced

• 1 small Lemon or Lime

In a large pan, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat, and add spaghetti squash, zucchini and onion. Sprinkle with sea salt and gently braise before stirring.

While vegetables are cooking, dredge the fish fillets in coconut flour and a pinch of sea salt.

Dredging fish in coconut flour 

Once vegetables have braised and caramelized, split them between two pasta bowls.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Over medium-high heat add the fish fillets. Cook on one side for three minutes, then flip and cook on the other for two minutes—the coating should be golden brown.

Fish cooking 

Fish ready to serve 

Serve over the vegetables, with one half of an avocado with each bowl, and lemon or lime wedges for garnish.

Cabbage and Bacon Slaw — Veggies, Seeds and Carrots Come Together with Cilantro


This gently-cooked cabbage and bacon “slaw” is a tasty, tart salad that is great to have on hand as a side dish, as an entrée over fresh mixed greens, or as a quick snack! The lively cilantro, lime and cayenne offset the earthiness of the bacon and pumpkin seeds. 

Serves 4-6 as a side, 2-3 as an entrée

  • ½ head Green Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ Purple Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Carrots, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices organic Turkey, Beef or Pork Bacon, thinly sliced
  • Ghee or Coconut oil for the pan
  • 1/3 cup raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • ¼ cup Thompson Raisins
  • ¼ cup Cilantro, chopped

For Dressing:

  • 3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil • 2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 T fresh Lime juice
  • 1 T raw Honey, Yacon Syrup, or a dash of Stevia
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt, adjust to taste
  •  1/8-1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  •  Sliced Avocado for topping

 

With a mid-range heat, add a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil to a medium-sized pan.  Add the bacon, cabbage, onion and carrot and sauté to just soften the veggies and gently cook the meat.  Remove from the heat.

Place the cooked ingredients and raisins, seeds and cilantro into a glass bowl.  Combine vinegar, oil, lime juice, honey and seasonings into a cruet and shake well. Pour over the salad, mixing from the bottom to coat all ingredients well, then refrigerate for 2-4 hours , stirring from the bottom occasionally. When ready to serve, allow to warm up to room temp a little, stir again from the bottom, then top with fresh slices of avocado. Bon appetit!

Grilled Nicoise Salad

This Grilled Nicoise Salad is a delicious variation on the classic Salade Nicoise. It is rich in omega-3 fats, healthy vitamins galore, and of course, plenty of protein.

Certainly, freshly grilled tuna fillets would be preferred, but this is a salad that is easy to make when dinner preparation needs to come quickly, with items on hand. But if you do have fresh tuna, use it!

And if you don’t have a backyard grill (or just feel like keeping your work in the kitchen), then use the gas burner on your stove to char the leaves of romaine–in either case, it adds a rich depth of flavor to the salad, a real treat! Just take the entire heart of romaine and place it directly on the grate over a high heat, leaving it in place until the outer leaves begin to blacken, then rotate, so that all sides are charred, but the inner leaves are raw.  Use your grill to also char the outside of the peppers—they become very sweet and pliable when prepared this way—delicious!

You can use canned tuna and anchovies, though it is preferred to use the jarred varieties, available from Portugal and Italy via Amazon.com—doing so does away with the concern over BPA leaching into the foods from the lining of cans.

Grilled Salad Nicoise

Serves 2 as an Entree, 4 as a Side

  • 1 bunch Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, rinsed and dried then flash-grilled
  • 1 organic yellow or red Bell Pepper, grilled and thinly-sliced
  • 2 cups organic Spring Mix Lettuce
  • 2 Carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup organic Sweet Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup English Cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Crimini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  •  2 organic Eggs, boiled and sliced
  • 1-6 oz. glass jar Albacore Tuna in a Glass Jar  (preferable to canned due to concerns over BPA in the can lining)
  • Anchovies in Olive Oil in a Glass Jar (again, concerns over BPA in can linings)
  • 4-5 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • ½ Valencia Onion, or Maui Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • Coarse Sea Salt (I like Celtic) and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 2-3 Lemons
  • 1 T each Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and Organic Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3-4 T organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  Dash of Nutritional Yeast, if desired

Divide ingredients and arrange all vegetables in a pasta bowl, tossing them with olive oil, lemon juice and vinegars.  Top with eggs and fish,and season with  salt and pepper. Top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, if you choose.