Backyard “Superfoods” to Grab Now at Markets and Yards Near You

I’m teaching a class on “Super” Salads this Sunday, and while I love a media-hyped “superfood” as much as the next health-obsessed home chef, I’m also interested in what I can get locally, and in many cases, hyper locally.

Generally, a superfood gets the moniker because it’s exceptionally nutrient-dense and high on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
In English: ORAC is how we measure antioxidant activity in foods.  Antioxidant activity is what brings down inflammation and neutralizes acidity in the body.  Inflammation is at the root of almost every chronic disease known to man, so making friends with high-ORAC foods seems like a pretty good idea!
The general guideline for how much “ORAC power” we need on a daily basis is to consume between 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day from fruits and veggies.
I was also fascinated by a recent article about how some of our modern foods have changed from ancient versions and may actually be less nutritious than in by-gone days.   The exception is herbs.  From the New York Times article, “Herbs are wild plants incognito. We’ve long valued them for their intense flavors and aroma, which is why they’ve not been given a flavor makeover. Because we’ve left them well enough alone, their phytonutrient content has remained intact.”
This week, I came up with a list of 15 “super” foods I can either find in my garden or from another local grower.
Keep in mind that part of what makes any local food “super” is that the time it takes for that food to get to the table is almost zero.  Freshness plays an important role in how much nutrition remains by the time we eat it.  Foods harvested many days ago will be depleted, so realistically almost anything grown close by is superior to a food that’s travelled some distance.
Here’s the list with their ORAC values per 100 grams/3.5 ounces.  All of these will make an appearance on Sunday in a dressing or a salad.
Local Food
Raw Value
Dried or Cooked Value
Alfalfa Sprouts
1,510
n/a
Beets
1,776
n/a
Chives
2,094
n/a
Garlic
5,708
n/a
Green Onions
913
n/a
Kale
1,770
n/a
Oregano
13,970
175,295
Parsley
1,301
73,670
Raspberries
5,065
n/a
Rosemary
n/a
165,280
Spinach
1,513
n/a
Sweet Red Pepper
821
n/a
Tarragon
15,542
n/a
Thyme
27,426
157,380
Tomatoes
546
n/a
Compare this list with some hot-shot “celebrity superfoods,” and these come out pretty strong, considering we’re getting them from humble Virginia.

“Celebrity” Super Food Raw Cooked or Dried

“Celebrity” Super Food
Raw
Cooked or Dried
Acai Fruit
n/a
102,700
Goji Berry
3,290
n/a
The summer is a great time to enjoy the cost savings and convenience of locally grown produce and herbs that actually EXCEED the nutritional value of these foods with more prodigious PR.

What I’m doing NOW to get ready for Turkey Day!

As I look at the calendar and notice that November is FLYING by already, I thought I’d post a few quick tips about how I reduce friction from the upcoming holidays.

I always teach a holiday cooking class, as I will this year, but for those who cannot make to get the hands-on how-to’s, here are a few tried and true ways that I keep delicious food on the table and keep my hair from falling out!

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Amy’s November Survival Guide

1.  Create a relationship with a farmer where I can get a high quality turkey.  Don’t know a farmer?  Get thee to a Farmer’s Market this week!  Yes, they are still open, and farmers are still taking orders for pastured birds RIGHT NOW.

2.  Ask the people I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with what they like and what they’d be willing to pass up this year.  For example, does anyone really LIKE canned cranberry sauce or greasy green beans?  If not, why not take them off the menu in favor of something new?  Keep only your best-loved items and scrap the rest.

3.  Create a menu that includes cooked and raw options and tone down the starches.  Find a couple of great salad recipes (I have versions that include in-season radishes and kale that I’ll be teaching this year) and don’t feel compelled to cook stuffing AND mashed potatoes AND sweet potatoes AND pumpkin pie.  Noone deserves the stress of remaining upright on all that starch combined with family “stuff” on the same day.   Magazines like Eating Well or even Vegetarian Times have great options this time of year that are easy to try.

4.  Audition new recipes on the family in October or early November.  Why not try a new salad or raw dish this week?  That way you can be sure it’s a hit on Turkey Day.  Holiday dinners are pretty much an annual re-run anyway, so why not try a new thing NOW and see if it’s your next favorite tradition?  If it’s great, no one will mind eating it again, and if not, you can move on to another idea.

5.  Take care of myself and remember that wiping myself out is a BAD idea.  I guard my time jealously this time of year.  The days are shorter, task lists seem longer than ever, and it’s easy to get sucked into the frenzy.  So, I maintain my self-care routine by being active (for me walks are like medicine!), connecting with the people I love, and avoiding the (usually bad) news on TV, radio and internet.  I also monitor my own boundaries and only say “yes” after careful consideration.

I’m done for now.  If you choose to say ‘YES’ to this year’s holiday cooking class, I’ll be delighted to see you!  Visit the sign up page here for the details.

The pantry staple I NEVER buy at the store (and why…)

This is the basis for how I keep my kitchen "stocked" (ha ha see what I did there?) with healthy, homemade broths and soup bases.
This is the basis for how I keep my kitchen “stocked” (ha ha see what I did there?) with healthy, homemade broths and soup bases.

Please don’t rob my freezer.

I package up quarts of chicken, beef and fish stocks that I make from kitchen scraps and spare bones that end up as bone stock in my freezer.

Little did I know that grocery store stock ranges in cost from $3 a quart to $5 per quart.  Wow!  Making this stuff is like printing money!  My quart size bone stock bricks might be worth more than a US Treasury Bond in a few days!

OK, maybe this is not a financial retirement plan I can count on, but I thought I would reflect on a few “stock” issues that are very important to my family’s future that we might agree on:

  1. 1. Homemade stock is very cheap to produce.  Using the simplest of ingredients (bones, vegetables, filtered water), it’s easy to produce gallons of homemade broth/stock.  I often hear that eating well is expensive, which is certainly true if you purchase a pastured chicken for $25+ and then throw away the carcass.  Tsk, Tsk…What would Grandma say?!
  2. 2. Bone stock is LOADED with minerals.  If there’s a mineral in a bone, it’s possible to extract it into solution and turn it into dinner.  These minerals are easy for the body to absorb, which is great because most of our digestive systems are incompetent, and stock is highly digestible.  Contrast stock with milk, which is not easily digested by everyone, particularly as we age.  Perhaps you know someone who is looking for more minerals in her diet?  If so, look no further.
  3. 3.  Bone stock is a great source of gelatin, which is a protein that is like magic for skin hair and nails.  Properly prepared, you can have your bone stock jiggling like Jello (and your hair shining like you are 18 again…).
  4. 4. Bone stock is rich in amino acids.  Amino acids are what protein breaks down into if it’s properly digested, which it often is not, especially in women.  I find many in my practice who simply cannot digest it, and it shows up as stiff joints, hot flashes, fatigue and irritability, among other injustices.
  5. 5.  Bone stock is delicious.  It’s good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or my favorite–afternoon snack!  I love to have a warm cup right before that time when the chocolate craving (which won’t come) used to kick in.  My daughter and husband like it too, which means you can trust me on this one.

I’ve just done a google search to find out what else is great about stock, and there are a few things I’ve left out (like how it is a source of glucosamine and chondroitin, two celebrity supplements that some people choose to take in capsule form). People have been making bone stock for hundreds of years, so I’m sure I’m bound to miss some wisdom from the ages.  The point is that the wisdom is still true, and it has some modern enhancements that can make it even better (like electricity, for example!).

This list is a pretty good start though, and I want to make sure this post gets finished in time to make it to your inbox so you know that I’m teaching a class for a mere $29 this Sunday about how to make beef, chicken and fish stocks the easy way so you never have to buy those little boxes at the store again.  Wait ’til you hear where I get my fish for FREE!  We are going to cook like crazy for 1.5 hours and the results will be amazing.

Here’s the link to sign up for class on Sunday.  Remember you can also bring a friend for $20.  We have a few seats left.  Hope to see you there!

 

 

Am I Compensating for Something? You betcha…

I was recently out in a social situation with some friends when one of them (accurately) observed that I had helped myself to some (more than a few) white chocolate M & M’s and she said, “I didn’t think you ate stuff like that.”

She’s right: I ate M & M’s, and I normally don’t.  Granted, all the while, I pushed down thoughts about the bug carcasses that had to die for the brightly colored shells and the artificial flavors and the <gasp!> sugar that I was ingesting in a highly processed form.

But this is all a distraction.

This is not an article about how I “fell off the wagon” or “cheated on my diet” and am now here to offer helpful “tips” for the rest of you to get back into the groove.  What this is about is how I am guilty of appearing different than I really am, and today, I aim to stop all that for myself at least and talk about how it really is for me.

The fact is that it’s no easier for me to avoid junk and eat all the right stuff than the next person, and frankly, sometimes junk tastes great and gets eaten.  By ME!  So, how do I reconcile this real life stuff with my very public healthy cooking classes and health coaching practice?

The fact is that I compensate.  I compensate for liking to snack.  I compensate for sometimes eating more sugar than is ideal.  I compensate because sometimes I’m at a restaurant that’s not “Amy friendly” as one of my friends likes to call it, and I still eat there.

How does this work exactly?  Here’s a list of every way I can think of that I compensate for when things are not pure and perfect. (Remember, I used to be plus-size, so I know a thing or two about how things go without such compensations!):

1.  I drink green vegetable juice six out of seven days a week (12-16 ounces).

2. I drink a smoothie loaded with raw seeds, a ton of protein and superfoods every day.

3. I drink pre-made bone stock several days a week.

(I know what you’re thinking…after all that, how could I possibly be hungry?  Sometimes I’m not.  That’s the point!  But I still have even more ways I get around the times that are out of my control…)

4.  I eat raw and fermented salads often.

5.  I only put in my home things I would want my child to eat in a perfect world (outside is another story, which is why inside stays pretty clean).

6.  I make friends with farmers and buy their food.

7.  I get plenty of sleep and I sleep in whenever I get the chance.

8.  I make my dinner menu a week in advance, and I cook a lot on Sunday to get ready for the week.

9.  I take high quality supplements including probiotics, enzymes, and herbs to bridge the gaps and fill holes from decades when I didn’t know what I know now.

10.  I keep the big picture in mind.  It’s important to me that I do all this stuff because I want to live a long life with a ton of life in my years.  It takes a lot of energy to live the way I do, so I do what I can to keep my motor running.  I also care that my family gets the same treatment.  If Michael, Sadie and I want to play tennis after work, I want to make sure we all have the energy to GO!  Above all, it’s the what’s-in-it-for-me factor that keeps me compensating.

So, if I want to have a cocktail or a dish of M & M’s with friends,  I don’t worry about it because I’ve taken care of myself really well, and adding the stress of attempting to be perfect is damaging.  Keeping up appearances is also exhausting.

As of right now I hearby let down the veil of foodie perfectionism and ask that you dear reader to consider giving yourself a break too.  And, if your results aren’t where you want them yet, figure out where you can “compensate” a little.

 

Interested in knowing more about juicing and smoothies?  It’s one of the biggest questions I get, and I’m finally teaching a class on how to put it all together in real life.  If your juicer has dust on it, you’ll want to join me on the 22nd of September for a full primer on juicing, smoothies and Fall body cleansing.  Learn more here.   

 

What to eat now: Go with the flow of the season with raw foods

Radish Sprouts April 2013

Seasonal eating is one of the first ways I teach beginners to add new foods to their diets.

It’s also somewhat of a mystery, since most foods are available year-round thanks to our world-wide food distribution system that has rendered the seasons moot in many grocery stores.

Just because those apples are available in April, it does not make them the most ideal choice.  The longer a food has been in storage (by now that’s months for your average apple), the lower the nutritional content.

So how do you start to identify what’s truly in season?

  1. Start gardening.  You’ll find out quickly that lettuce actually likes cooler temps and kale tastes downright bitter by August when it’s gone to seed.  These lessons abound.  Read those seed packets to find out when stuff grows in your geography.
  2. Visit Farmer’s Markets that source locally.  Ask farmers which foods to expect from his farm during the months the market is open.
  3. Observe what foods look freshest and are pleasing to the eye.  Mushy, pale veggies are not nearly as nourishing as the ones that are vibrant and colorful.

Your body truly knows best.  There is a reason we start craving cooler things in spring and summer and warmer denser foods in fall and winter.  Get in touch with that inner voice that connects you to your food and start enjoying the abundance of seasonal eating.

Learn more about cooking and food preparation in season with “Food Fix Friday” cooking classes.

Register by emailing me at amy@wellnessworksllc.net
or call 703.791.9355

 

Recipe Review: Eating Well’s Mushroom-Beef Noodle Soup

Mushroom-Beef Noodle Soup Recipe | Eating Well.

I made this soup tonight from scratch out right after work, and it was amazing!  Warm, homey and not too rich.  Sometimes beef stews can be a little heavy handed for my taste, but this was just a pound of meat stretched over three bowls and a ton of leftovers.

A note:  most of you know I work full time (and then some!), so I chopped everything yesterdayand had it all ready in the fridge to throw together with minimal effort.  I also used pre-made broth (mine was from the freezer, your mileage may vary).  Total cooking time was a litte over an hour because I had to take a call in between some of the steps, but it was mostly unattended (at a simmer). 

I highly recommend the recipe, and if you don’t subscribe to Eating Well, you’re missing out.  I always find at least one “keeper” out of each issue, which more than covers the cost of the subscription!

Kale & Bean Soup with Sausage

MAKES: 8 CUPS | ACTIVE TIME: 30 MIN

This is a Wegman’s recipe that I slimmed down with chicken sausage and turned into a crock pot wonder!  I do all the prep in the morning, turn the pot on, and fugghetaboutit.  You can make it go even faster by doing your chopping and prep work on the meatballs the night before.  This was a hit even with my soup-hating husband.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage (I used links from Whole Foods)
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale roughly chopped
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) Canellini Beans, drained
  • 8 oz pasta (I used a quinoa-amaranth blend)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Remove sausage from casing, cut it into small pieces that you can roll into 1 inch meatballs.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pan on MEDIUM. Add sausage balls and cook,turning to brown all sides, 3-4 min. Remove sausage from pan, set aside. Discard pan drippings.
  3. Return pan to heat; add remaining 2 Tbsp oil and onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, stirring 2-3 min, until onions are translucent. Add garlic; cook, stirring until softened, about 1 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Add onion mixture, meatballs, beans and stock to crockpot.
  5. Turn crock pot on low and let soup cook for 6-8 hours.
  6.  1 hour before you serve, add pasta and kale to the crockpot.  Let soup simmer for another 45 minutes.
  7. Add parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

 

5 Healthy Foods For Your Kids

It seems today that kids are in a rut with eating the same things over and over again. Growing kids can’t live on French fries, pizza, and hot dogs alone. The key to pleasing any kids’ palate is to make the meal fun for them and not to let them know when they’re eating right.

Here are five healthy foods for your kids.

Nuts and Seeds

For in between meal snacks, feed your kids a handful of nuts. Not only are they rich in several important vitamins, but nuts provide vast amounts of proteins and amino acids. The variety of legume nuts and tree nuts offers variety to any snack with almonds, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, and others. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids which are essential in kids’ growth.

Fruits

Instead of treating kids to a piece of candy, cookies, or cake, assuage their sweet tooth with nature’s own sweet things. Kids will eat what you have available, so keep a bowl of fresh fruit in their reach or in the refrigerator. Apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, watermelon are easy “finger-type” foods that will satisfy their craving. Also, fruits are high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium which aids in their development.

Spaghetti

Kids love pasta and there’s nothing that will satisfy their hunger more than a plate of spaghetti. However, you can feed them a nutritious meal without them even knowing. Star with wheat or spinach pasta and use more natural sauces. Avoid the over-sugary stuff in the stores. Also, you can “sneak” vegetables into your kids’ spaghetti by finely chopping onions, mushrooms, olives, and/or peppers. Add large chunks of lean ground beef and your kids will be asking for seconds.

Chicken Fingers

Most every restaurant kid’s menu will offer chicken fingers and fries. What kid wouldn’t love this? At home, you can serve them the same full-flavor without the added fat. By baking breaded chicken, you greatly reduce the fat content of frying. You can also make your own chicken fingers by rolling raw chicken tenders from the store in plain yogurt and then covering in crushed corn flakes or panko bread crumbs. Coat with a cooking spray and bake for the same yummy taste as the fried version. Kick things up with a low fat ranch dressing or barbeque sauce for dipping and your kids won’t miss the grease at all.

Fun Vegetables

It’s almost an oxymoron, but vegetables can be made fun for kids. Instead of forcing the food on them as something they have to have, make it interesting. Teach them the origin of certain foods. Have them help plate what’s for dinner, matching foods by color. Serve smoothies that incorporate both fruits and vegetables in a less “threatening” way to their taste buds. Add vegetables to more traditional foods like carrot or zucchini muffins, or as said before, into spaghetti sauce. Another idea is to start a vegetable garden and get your kids involved. The more they work with and learn about vegetables, the less “scary” they’ll be on their plate. Introduce vegetables to them through a chopped platter of small bites of carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and mushrooms, with healthy dip to accompany. And finally, reward your kids for trying new things. Remember, their palates aren’t as developed as an adult’s so make food nutrition fun and it will go a long way to your kids’ health.

 

Article Source: Criss White, http://EzineArticles.com/6373288

Sprouted Flour Zucchini Nut Bread

This is what I am bringing to this weekend’s event at Image in Leesburg.  Remember to come on out and join us for a collection of healthy lifestyle businesses for an afternoon of beauty from 2-5.  You can find out the full details here:


 

Sprouted Flour Zucchini Nut Bread

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups sprouted spelt or sprouted wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar or agave or rice syrup or honey (you choose)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 pound shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 2 8.5″ loaf pans.
  2. In large mixing bowl beat eggs, oil, lemon juice and vanilla and water.  Depending on the temperature of the mixture it could be slightly thick and lumpy.
  3. In separate bowl, soft together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt.  Mix in zucchini and nuts.  Gradually add to egg mixture, beating until smooth.
  4. Divide batter evenly between pans and bake until loaves begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 60 minutes.

 

 

Digestion and Enzymes

I just returned from a busy week of travel, including three days in Philadelphia at a Loomis Institute course all about enzymes.  Imagine: 20 hours on one topic in three days; good thing this is one of my favorites!

There was a lot to learn (two binders and 20 hours worth, to be exact), and I have a test to pass in August when I go back for part 2, but it’s all part of my master plan to learn more stuff that will help me, my family and my clients live better while we’re here on the planet.  One of the most amazing things that I discover whenever I spend a weekend with a bunch of healers is that each of us brings a totally unique perspective, and I love that many different ways of creating wellness exist today.  This enzyme work marries well with all sorts of health practices, and my classmates were CNHPs like me, MDs, NDs, and DCs.

Since my background is with cooking and food, the enzyme topic is one that marries well with it.  Understanding how enzymes work answers questions like:
1.  Even though I eat healthily, why am I still sick or don’t feel well?
2.  Even though more food/nutrition is available for every man, woman and child on the planet, why are more of us chronically ill?
3.  How can an imperfect diet become the perfect food?
4.  What SHOULD I be eating and how do I find out?

I’ll give you a hint:  the very nature of how food must be processed to get it to us removes essential components of those foods to keep the food from spoiling.  That missing component is enzymes, which are literally the workhorses of the body responsible for 150,000 processes including digestion.

Want to know more about how that fits into your health?  Come see me at Lighthouse Chiropractic on Saturday the 14th (link to calendar on the website) for a demonstration on the essentials of supplementation.  Learn which things are missing from almost all of our diets and the most cost effective ways of replacing them.   See you there!