Simple Ways to Bring Greens into your Life

Posted April 11th, 2012 in Cooking classes, Drinks, Nutrition Articles, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

Life is much easier if I plan out the meals for the week ahead of time. Now life doesn’t always go the way I planned it, so I allow for a couple of meals where I only have 15 to 20 minutes from the time I get home until the time food is on the table. It’s all about the preparation.

When I sit down to plan, I often choose a couple of new recipes to try. Nothing too complicated because I’m usually tired by the time supper rolls around. I have several favourite web sites: whfoods.org (really easy, fast and healthy recipes), 101cookbooks.com (these are a little more challenging, but always delicious), nourishingmeals.com, domesticaffair.blogspot.ca – and several favourite cookbooks: Get it Ripe by jae steele, Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont and refresh by Ruth Tal are my top three at the moment.

From these recipes write out all of the ingredients – and make a list of what you need to get! The easiest way to go grocery shopping and not forget half of what you need is to create a list – checking it against what you already have in the pantry. I find if I have a list, I’m more focussed and not as easily swayed by tempting prepared foods and treats.

Coming home from the store

Unpack everything and put the dry goods away. If you buy in bulk, transfer to mason jars for ease of use. I keep all of my flours, grains, nuts and seeds right where I do my food preparation so I have them right at hand. I put most of the bread in the freezer, taking out only what we will eat in three days. That way it doesn’t get wasted.

Right away, I get my veggies ready to use for the next couple of days. That way I don’t have to chop, grate and wash every night – it’s already done! Here are some suggestions:

  • Greens – wash and tear what you are going to be using for salads in the next couple of days. I usually put them in the salad spinner and spin them just once, leave the water in the container and put the whole thing in the fridge. My family uses more than a spinner full per day so I put the separate greens in a vented bag because they take up less space. If they are going to be there for more than a day, wrap them in wet towels.
  • Carrots – I usually wash and chop in large coins about 4 carrots, cut some into snack-sized pieces and grate 4 carrots in the food processor. I put them in separate containers and store in the fridge.
  • Sweet peppers – wash and chop half at a time into small enough pieces to throw into an omelette or salad at a moments notice. Cut the other half into snack-sized pieces for dipping.
  • Celery – wash, chop into snack-sized pieces, dry and place in a container.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, etc) – chop into serving sizes, wash, dry and store in container.
  • Beets – I love beets and they are delicious grated in a salad, or throw a handful into your green smoothie. Grate some up after you’ve done your carrots and put them in a separate container.
  • Squash, turnip – I put off these until the last because I find them so hard to work with but peel them, cube them and store in container. Do it now or you won’t later!
  • Asparagus – wash, snap stems wherever they break and store upright in a glass of water. Somehow these always get knocked over in my fridge so push them to the back where they are out of the way but not out of mind!
  • Fresh herbs – make sure they are dry before you put them away, then wash only when you are about to use them. They don’t like to be prep’d ahead of time.
  • Parsley/cilantro – wash them, dry them, cut off the tips of the stems and store upright in water, lots of water.
  • Garlic – press a whole bulb at a time, that way you’ve always got it ready. Store in a jar.
  • Sprouts – I usually leave them in the carton they come in. They are so easy to make yourself and the kids enjoy watching them grow.

So now that you’ve got everything ready to go, adding vegetables to your meals will be easy and quick. I came across a great resource – The Periodic Table of Produce from Simple Life, Fall 2006 and here’s a link where you can print it out: http://www.slashfood.com/2006/09/22/periodic-table-of-storing-produce/. Slashfood is also a great recipe resource, just beware of the sugar content in some of the recipes!

Building a salad

Fresh greens Sulfur veggies Bright colours Herbs Toppings
Start with a bed of fresh greens (about 2 cups per serving). Choose organic if possible, I like a mix of spinach, arugula, romaine, red lettuce, radicchio. Kale, swiss chard, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage (red and green) Brighly coloured veggies and fruit add lots of phytonutrients to the mix. Try cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, beets, celery, fennel, fresh berries Full of nutrients and vitamins: fresh mint, basil, parsley, chives, dill, cilantro, dandelion greens Top off your salad with sprouts – like broccoli, mung bean, alfalfa, sunflower – and nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts)

Don’t forget the dressing

 A great way to get your daily dose of essential fatty acids (EFAs) for healthy cell membranes and immune function (among other things) is with a tasty dressing to pull all the flavours together. Here are a couple of quick and easy recipes.

House Dressing (from Get it Ripe by jae steele – this will quickly become your favourite!)

1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp nut butter
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
Freshly ground pepper
¾ cup flax seed oil (or olive oil, walnut oil – your choice)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 

Mix everything together in a jam jar. Stores in the fridge for up to one week.

Easy Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Mix everything together in a jam jar, then pour on salad!

Green Vegetable Smoothie (this smoothie is like having a salad in a glass – another easy and fast way to bring greens into your daily routine)

1 handful baby spinach leaves
10 stalks parsley
6 stalks celery
1 lemon, peeled
1 cucumber, whole
Pineapple juice 

Throw everything into a blender, in opposite order. You can use a sieve to remove most of the fibre, or leave some to help with digestion.

Spinach, Cranberry and Mango Salad

Posted May 31st, 2011 in Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

In my excitement at finishing my post this morning, I forgot to add the details of the delicious salad I made for supper last night and enjoyed again for lunch today. Before starting on the salad, I marinated 4 small chicken breasts in mango chutney (Jack’s fresh variety) for about 1/2 an hour. Then I grabbed the nearest available ‘volunteer’ and asked them to bbq them for me. On high they only took about 6 minutes per side and were delicious.

Last night was a busy night with hockey and training sessions, so there wasn’t lots of time. When I have a busy night like that I use the packaged, pre-washed lettuce so that we have fresh greens without having lots of chopping.

Spinach, Cranberry & Mango Salad

3 large handfuls baby spinach
2 large handfuls mixed field greens with herbs (this one had lots of dill)
1 large mango, peeled and cubed
1 large handful of dried cranberries (note how accurate my measuring is when I’m busy???)
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecans (or the sweet and spicy ones if you have them around)

Dressing
1/2 cup of oil – I used a combination of flax seed oil, walnut oil and olive oil
1 lemon, juiced – I added the rind too before I juiced it
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix together the salad ingredients and then dress just before serving. This can actually sit with the dressing in the refrigerator for lunch tomorrow! I served this with 1/2 a marinated chicken breast cubed (though the kids made chicken on a bun with a salad I won’t lie!).

Because I had it in the garden, I added some bright purple and yellow pansies to the top to make it pretty. But sprouts would be just as nice.

And yes, I forgot to take a photo before I devoured it. Sorry.

 

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Gardening versus Cooking

Posted May 17th, 2011 in Meat in, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

The Garden Before the Overhaul

I’ve been in the garden. For me, time passes very quickly when I’m digging, weeding, or just dreaming in my garden. I love the feel of dirt on my hands and the ground beneath my feet. My vegetable garden was in a shambles and needed to be completely overhauled. So despite the rain that’s what I’ve been doing. And now the asparagus are starting to show, the rhubarb is beautiful, I discovered strawberry plants and onions, herbs that I thought had been lost. Its always a wonder to me that I can forget what belongs where, but they always come back and surprise me in the spring.

Asparagus shoots - I ate them this morning though!

You may be able to tell that I’m not the kind of person who makes detailed plans of my garden. Every year I intend to! But then I get caught up in the sheer wonder of all that’s going on, and usually fall behind on the weeding or edging or mowing or planting. Mother’s Day weekend I visited a garden in Kanata that was wonderfully organized and everywhere you looked there was colour and things sprouting. Mine’s not like that!

My garden is quite beautiful in its own way though and if you ever want to see it, I’m always happy to show it off like a proud parent!

Garden half finished

After my time in the garden, I managed to head into the kitchen and make a delicious supper. I was hungry after all of the labour! And my body ached!

Pad Thai

My sister-in-law and I made this recipe together from her favourite cookbook, the name of which escapes me though. I’ve made quite a few changes to it as my husband can’t eat shellfish – so here’s the adaptation.

400 g package of broad rice noodles
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes juiced)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp chili sauce
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. boneless chicken breast, diced (1 large chicken breast – both halves)
2 eggs beaten
3 cups bean sprouts
6 green onions, slivered into 1 inch lengths
2 Tbsp toasted chopped peanuts

Garnish: coriander sprigs, 1 lime cut into wedges

Soak noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, drain and put aside. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, chili sauce, and stock. Put aside.

Heat a wok on high and add oil and a little stock to cook the oil down. Stir in the garlic and cook for 10 seconds, then add the chicken. Stir fry 3-4 minutes until chicken is no longer pink, add eggs and toss until scrambled. (You could easily make this a vegetarian recipe by replacing the chicken with tofu.)

Add noodles to wok. Mix well to combine. Pour sauce over top. Cook until noodles are soft – about 2 minutes. Stir constantly.

Stir in bean sprouts, onions and peanuts and fry 1 minutes. Serve with garnish.  This is also delicious the second day if you have any leftovers.

I served the pad thai with an Asian coleslaw from Caroline Dupont’s Enlightened Eating cookbook.

Asian Coleslaw

1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1/2 white cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, grated
2 green onions, slivered
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Dressing:
2 Tbsp tamari
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic
1 tsp grated ginger

Toss all of the salad ingredients together. Then put all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. Pour over the salad and allow to soak well before serving.

Garnish with coriander and some fresh sprouts on the top.

Day 30 – Lunch at live

Posted May 5th, 2011 in Raw Foods, Restaurant review, Salads, Soups to warm you by Rebecca Lane

Tomato and Quinoa soup

Yesterday I had a wonderful day visiting with my friend and colleague Isabelle Zolkower, who also has the fortune of being married to a photographer. Rick, her husband, took the photos of me on Facebook and on this site – and I couldn’t be happier with them! My son told me that he now knows where he gets all of his good looks from!! I think he’s fishing for something?

After the morning primping in front of the camera, Isabelle took me to a restaurant near her home called “live” which serves organic raw food (and some cooked food too). I’m hoping to share the wonderful experience with you through words and images.

Be gentle with me, I’m not used to taking photos yet and they really need some practice!

Pecan sushi

Lunch started with Tomato and Quinoa soup (I started the soup before I remembered to take a photo – my apologies). It was served with dehydrated sweet potato chips sprinkled with cayenne pepper. The chips were a special treat and now I can’t wait to get my own dehydrator to make my own. The main ingredients of the soup were tomato, quinoa, carrots, onion, fresh basil and oregano from my best guess.

Then, between the 2 of us we chose 3 entrees – can you say greedy??? The first to arrive was a Pecan sushi – can you imagine? Wrapped in nori seaweed was pecan sunflower hummus with herbs around slivered carrots and dehydrated sweet potatoes, with a miso maple glaze. It was so good.

Beet and Cashew ravioli

A beet ravioli with basil pesto and balsamic reduction arrived next. The ravioli was made from very thinly sliced beets separated by an herbed cashew spread, and then on the top was sprinkled ground cashews. This was served with a spinach salad with a lime dressing and the balsamic reduction. I want to try to recreate this myself – perhaps at Carolyn Dupont’s next retreat in June!

The final entree was Rainbow kale and walnut salad – kale, walnuts, carrots, beets, raisins, seeds, sprouts, sun dried tomatoes dressed with a creamy dill tahini sauce. This was tasty, but I think I would leave the sun-dried tomatoes out, and use walnut butter instead of the tahini to make the dressing.

Rainbow Kale and Walnut salad

Neither of us loved the desserts, so we won’t say more about those. But overall we had a wonderful lunch. I hope these descriptions and photos give you food for thought for your next raw food experiments!

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Day 29 – Dinner, day after election day

Posted May 3rd, 2011 in Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

Dinner - Beet & Carrot salad, Asparagus & Goat Cheese Pasta salad with Spicy Maple Glazed Pecans

I spent the day cooking with Sherri working again on Gluten-Free desserts. Unfortunately my kids thought everything we made was a “fail” so feeling a little let down. They haven’t gotten used to the different tastes and textures of gluten-free flours yet.

Luckily, a few of the things I made for dinner yesterday were really enjoyed so I thought I would share them with you here.

Spiced Maple-Glazed Pecans (adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

4 cups pecan halves
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp coarse sea salt
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cayenne (if you like a little more spice, make it 3/4 tsp)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix all of the ingredients together well making sure that every pecan is coated. On a large cookie sheet, covered with either parchment paper or a Silpat, pour out the pecans into a single layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until fragrant and gently toasted in colour.

Emily ate an entire mason jar of these with her friend after school! Delicious with the fresh Beet and Carrot Salad which follows – or with an Apple, Pecan Chicken salad that I’ll post tomorrow.

Beet & Carrot Salad

3 carrots, grated
3 beets, grated
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon balm (mine was just about 1″ high!), chopped
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp flax oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup

Combine all of the fresh ingredients and then pour the dressing over top. Toss to combine and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Delicious the day after too. Serve with the pecans above.

Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Pasta Salad

250 g kamut penne pasta (1/2 a bag)
4 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 bunch asparagus, tips off and cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped
freshly ground pepper
dulse flakes

Dressing:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flax oil
1 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente. Before pouring out the water, blanche the asparagus pieces in the water for 1 minute. Pour out the water and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Allow to cool (this is when I made the other salad).

To the pasta and asparagus, add the red pepper, cheese and herbs. Pour the dressing over top and serve. I saved some of the fresh chives to sprinkle on the top but some broccoli sprouts would be attractive also.

Day 27 – The Joy of Vegetables Part 2

Posted April 28th, 2011 in Fish, Grains, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

I’m not hearing any buses yet, so I’m going to keep on writing!

Lately, Sherri and I have been working away at creating delicious Gluten-Free baked goods recipes (crackers, muffins, cookies, cakes, buns, breads) for our teaching kitchen and I realized this morning that this is a problem. These baked goods are for ‘occasional’ meals only. As a society we have relied heavily on them as the backbone and focus of our meals and snacks – to the detriment of our health. Instead of looking at ways of making gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free baked goods, let’s concentrate on foods that are really going to heal and nourish our bodies.

Turn the page to VEGETABLES!

We can make a healthy choice to focus instead on finding delicious ways to fill at least half of every plate we eat with vegetables. This is the foundation. There are endless combinations and permutations we can combine to make delicious smoothies, spreads (for cucumbers, celery, slices of raw turnip, sweet potatoes, celery root), salads, stir fry’s or roasted vegetables. And when we add fruit to the mix, the sky’s the limit!

My favourite guide is George Mateljan’s book (and website) The World’s Healthiest Foods. The world’s most nutrient-dense foods do not lie in the animal protein list – but fall instead in the Vegetables list! Surprised? Topping the list – spinach, swiss chard, crimini mushrooms and asparagus. Of a three column list, two of the columns include vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes, herbs and spices and nuts and seeds. Grains are near the bottom with dairy and eggs and poultry and lean meats. Fish and shellfish lie between the two groups.

So, for the next week, I’m going to change my focus and start learning about the wonderful tastes and vitality of healthy, nutrient-rich vegetables. In the morning, I enjoy whole grain granola (and I’ll give you the recipe in case you would like to try it) with home-made kefir topped with fresh fruit. I’m trying to get the kids to have a smoothie to take with them to school for breakfast, but am still perfecting that option. For lunch, I usually have a salad with the leftovers from dinner before, or in the winter a salad with some soup. But I’m going to experiment more with combining beans and vegetables probably with some grains like quinoa and buckwheat. As for dinner, vegetables steamed, stir-fried, roasted and drizzled with a little olive oil or flax oil and seasoned with herbs, along with some lean meat or fish seasoned with fresh herbs. If I need a sweet later on, I’ll have some fresh fruit with a little more granola or sprinkled with flax seeds.

I’ll be honest, usually about 9:30 we have a “cup of tea” as a family which usually includes a cookie. Maybe this is the ‘occasion’. How many cookies or baked goods per week is the “right” amount? From my years of yo-yo dieting and bulimia, the one thing that I do KNOW is that once I put restrictions on the food that I am allowed to eat, I crave that restricted food. So I cannot answer that question. I think that the answer is different for each of us. But I do think – and will research this over the coming weeks – that if I fill my body with healthy, nutritious vegetables and fruits, I may not want a cookie or sweet at night.

I’ll be fully nourished.

Interesting thought!

Sautéed Asparagus

1 lb of asparagus, bottom twiggy section snapped off and the rest cut into 2 inch sections
3 Tbsp of vegetable broth

Heat the broth in a skillet over medium heat. Once it starts to steam, add the asparagus. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the Dressing for the buckwheat below.

Pan-Fried Perch

1 lb of fresh perch
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the broth and olive oil under medium heat, add the minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the perch skin side down and cover. Fry for 3 – 5 minutes until the meat looks white and flakey. Remove from heat and serve.

Buckwheat Salad with Chick Peas, Cucumber, Tomatoes and Fresh Parsley

1 cup buckwheat (I used Kasha or toasted buckwheat)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp sea salt

½ can chick peas, drained and rinsed
½ English cucumber, small cubes
½ red onion, halved and thinly sliced
handful small grape tomatoes, halved
handful chopped fresh parsley

Dressing (make up and save as an easy salad dressing)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of lemon
4 cloves garlic
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook the buckwheat – put first three ingredients together in pot and cover. Bring to a boil for a minute, then turn down to low and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. Buckwheat is fully cooked when it is dry and fluffy. Do not stir the buckwheat while it is cooking.

Press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes (allows the health-promoting nutrient allicin to form). Whisk together with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Toss the buckwheat with the vegetables and chopped parsley and dress to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce or spinach.

I’m going to add a photograph once I’ve got it all put together. New experience!

Day 26 – Virtual cooking

Posted April 27th, 2011 in Fish, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

Poached Salmon with Dill

There’s nothing better than a good talk with good friends. It never fails to amaze me how we can not talk for ages, then one day we get together and the conversation flows like wine (btw – wine helps that conversation flow!). Tonight, I was enjoying a beautiful evening out on the back porch nursing a nice cold Tankhouse Ale and thinking about what I would make for dinner. I decided to call my wonderful girlfriend Sandee who lives far, far away in Burlington. I would have preferred to be sharing the beer with her in her backyard, walking through her garden saying “oh, look how that’s growing” etc. – but a telephone conversation was what we had – so we enjoyed it.

By the end, we were both talking about dinner and she told me what she made last night. Since it sounded too amazing for words, I’m sharing it with you tonight and we’re adding some poached salmon just to make it more delicious!

Greek Salad with Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives and Dill

2 Tbsp fresh dill (if you aren’t a huge dill fan, you may want to use 1 Tbsp), minced
1/2 of an English Cucumber, cubed
2 large Ontario vine-ripened tomatoes, cubed
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup mixed greens
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 cup feta cheese, cubed
1 small sweet Vidalia onion
Freshly ground black pepper

Dressing: 1 to 1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and olive oil (1/2 cup each)

Mix everything together and cover with 1/2 of dressing and let sit so that the olives and feta can absorb in the flavour.

Poached Salmon with Dill and Tzitziki Sauce

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put one large salmon fillet (or you can do two depending on how many people you are serving) on a piece of tin foil large enough to fold into a packet around it. Pour about 1 Tbsp of olive oil on top, squirt the juice of 1/2 lemon, add a couple of slices of the sweet onions and sprinkle with fresh dill. Close up the packet and place in the oven on a baking sheet. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes depending on thickness of fillet.

To serve, put the Greek Salad on half of the plate, then place the fillet on the other half with a dollop of tzitziki sauce on the top. I didn’t make the sauce, I picked up a container of Liberte brand. But the next time I make this, I’m going to the Danforth ahead of time!

Day 23 – Detox with Dandelions

Posted April 21st, 2011 in Detoxification, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

Dandelions for Spring Detox

Our gardens are full of beneficial weeds and flowers. This fresh salad
will have you getting up early to pick dandelions!

Dandelion root and leaves are often used to support the liver, kidney and breasts. The leaves are high in potassium which makes it a good diuretic and cellular detoxifier. They are best eaten in spring and fall when the weather is cooler – the roots can be dug out and used for root tea in the fall.

Here’s a short list of the benefits of dandelion (from Sat Dharum Kaur’s Healthy Breast Program):

  1. protect, heal and tonify the liver
  2. decrease breast congestion
  3. discourage cancer
  4. improve digestion and appetite
  5. cleanse the kidneys
  6. stimulate weight loss by improving metabolism
  7. protect the immune system by increasing interferon production
  8. promote the flow of bile to relieve the liver of its toxins

Dandelions also contain vitamin A, calcium, and iron. Remember to avoid eating dandelions that have been sprayed with pesticides.

Dandelion, Pear & Walnut Salad

1 bunch dandelion leaves
3 pears, chopped
½ cup walnut halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Dressing:
½ cup olive oil
1/4 cup pear juice (or apple juice)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt & pepper to taste

1. Blend dressing ingredients in a  jar. Cover with lid and shake well.
2. Pour over dandelion, greens, and  chopped pears (leave the skins  on for fibre).
3. Let sit for at least 10 minutes  to marinate (max. 2 hours).
4. Before serving toss with walnut halves and dried cranberries.
5. Top with blue cheese, sprouts, and seeds!

Day 13 – Why consider a Spring Detox?

Posted April 11th, 2011 in Detoxification, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

Kale Salad

I met a really interesting couple at The Crow’s Nest last night (yes, I’m predictable – on Sundays we have supper out so that’s why there’s no Day 12) who had lots of questions about the importance of detoxing, so I thought I’d do my blog today on why a spring detox is a healthful practice.

What are toxins?
Toxins are substances that are harmful to our health. There are two main categories: Exotoxins – toxins which enter into our bodies from our external environments; and Endotoxins – toxic by-products of internal bodily functions.

Exotoxins include such things as xenobiotics (insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, food additives, plastics, drugs, chemicals from cleaning supplies, etc.), toxic metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminum, arsenic in our water, fish, lead pipes, paint, pots and other sources), organic toxins (aflatoxin, penicillium toxins on our food), vitamin and mineral excesses, infections, lifestyle toxins (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, smoking), inhalents (mold, algae, pollens), food sensitivities (gluten, dairy, nightshades), and energetic toxins (electromagnetic fields, ionizing radiation, geopathic stress).

Endotoxins are things like by-products/waste products of intestinal bacteria and fungi, intermediary metabolites (lactic acid, urea), hormonal overload (estrogen, progesterone, insulin, cortisol, prolactin), increased free radicals, toxic emotions (excess worry, regret, grief, fear, anger) and toxic memories (loss, embarrassment, shame, violence, abandonment).

What happens when we are toxic?
When the body is unable to keep up with the break down and elimination of toxic wastes, symptoms of illness can begin to show up. These symptoms may include headaches, joint pain, fatigue, irritability, depression, mental confusion, digestive disturbances, cardiovascular irregulatiries, flu-like symptoms like hives, runny nose, sneezing and coughing.

Why detox in the spring?
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal and the perfect time for an annual removal of these toxins from the system. There are many kinds of detoxification strategies that are available.

The simplest is for 2-weeks to concentrate on feeding your body with lots of fresh, raw vegetables and fruit (take a break from eating potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce which are classified as nightshade foods and can be inflammatory for some individuals – as well as citrus fruits including lemon, lime, oranges, mandarin, grapefruit, as they can be a source of food sensitivities).

While you’re enjoying lots of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits, take a break from eating sugars (white, brown, honey, maple syrup, you name it, leave it alone for 2 weeks), gluten-containing grains (white flour, whole wheat flour, spelt, kamut, barley, rye), dairy products (especially milk, and cheese) and all lifestyle toxins (food additives and colourings, caffeine, alcohol, smoking).

Do include small amounts of protein each day as the function of proteins in our body is to repair, renew, and improve immune function. However, protein containing foods are generally higher in fat, require cooking, and are harder for the body to digest. Foods that draw energy for digestion interfere with the use of energy for cleansing and rejuvenation, and should be avoided during detoxing.

Include in your 2-week detoxification a trip to a spa where you can relax and feel pampered and refreshed. You also might want to consider keeping a journal during this time to keep track of how you feel as your body is given the chance to clean and clear itself.

Kale Salad

When kale is cut into thin strips, rubbed, and then marinated overnight in a dressing, it has a wonderfully soft and juicy texture that makes it delightful for a salad. This nutritious salad is visually beautiful, and sure to become a staple recipe for your family and friends. When I’m not on a detox, I add 1 tbsp of maple syrup to the dressing.

1 head of kale, washed and cut into thin strips
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cucumber
1/3 cup raw whole almonds, chopped
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red cabbage

Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl. Feel free to add some fresh berries to increase the antioxidant properties of the salad.

Dressing:
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flax oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon
1 tsp tamari
½ tsp coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a jar, shake and pour over salad. Massage dressing into salad and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to let flavors meld and allow the kale to soften. This salad will keep for a couple of days as the kale just softens in the dressing and becomes juicier.

Thanks to Caroline Dupont’s Enlightened Eating for starting me on my love affair with kale.

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