Saturday, April 28, 2012

Minty Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Before winter is too far gone, let me share this salad, which I made several weeks ago when our farm fresh veggie box delivered grapefruits and avocadoes. This salad is very refreshing and exotic and could actually be a great spring or summer salad, if you want to break the rule of eating seasonal fruits and veggies ;)

1 lettuce, washed and chopped
1 grapefruit, peeled with a knife and then cut in cubes
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 red onion
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped

2 limes, juiced
2tbsp agave syrup
2tbsp hemp oil (or flaxseed oil, or olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste

En Francais:
1 laitue
1 pamplemousse, pele et coupe en cubes
1 avocat en cubes
3 cs de graines de courge
1/4 oignon rouge
2-3 cs de feuilles de menthe fraiche, coupees fines

jus de 2 citrons verts
2 cs de sirop d'agave
2 cs d'huile de lin ou d'olive
poivre et sel a volonte

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fresh Seasonal, Local and Organic Farm Produce

Where do you shop for Organic produce? Trader Joe's? Whole Foods? Vons? While these all carry organic produce, these fruits and veggies sometimes come from other countries, where the regulations around pesticides and toxins are different. Getting these produce also means that they had to travel, which means that they were picked before being ripe, and that a lot of gas was used to drive these foods into your plate.

All that to say, buying local means that you are being better to the environment, supporting local farmers, and eating foods that actually give your body what it needs for the season. You can buy local at your Farmer's Market, which is a great option, but not always a practical one if you have little kids in tow or your schedule doesn't match the Market's schedule.

We have been using the services of some of the local farms, who for a fee, either deliver a box of produce to your house, or have you pick it up at a certain location. It is an economical way of getting authentic organic, local food, and also eating things that you might not otherwise pick up.

For those of you living in LA, here are a couple of options:

 South Central Farmers:
This organization offers Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. Each box is the same size, big enough to feed a family of four for a week (and we usually have leftovers!), but they ask you to pay the price you think is fair for your income, starting at $20, to $40 or more. This is the biggest box of produce I have ever gotten. 

- In terms of frequency, you can sign up for one time, monthly or seasonal subscription. I usually keep it to one time, and order a box whenever I want to supplement what I bought from the other services or from the market.

- You can choose the location where you will pick up your box. Each location has a specific delivery day.

- You get an email a few days before you need to sign up for your box, telling you what will be in the box, and giving you a few links for recipes

- I find that I usually get a lot of leafy greens from that box, and sometimes items that I do not use or like, such as 15 chilies or a huge watermelon, which won't even be open in our house until the next box comes, which contains another huge watermelon. However, if you are watching your budget and can't usually afford organic produce, this is DEFINITELY worth it and the best deal in town.

Farm Fresh To You
I love this service, because they deliver right on my door step and I have a lot of options to choose from. 

- First, you can choose between the home or office delivery options. 

- If you'd like to turn your office into a healthy environment, you can order a box of fruit and nuts in snack packs, in mini, small, medium or larges sizes ranging in prize from $45 to $110. 

- If you choose the home delivery option, you have a choice of mixed fruit and veggie, veggie only, fruit only, and easy to prepare services (no cooking required). Within those options, you can choose the size of your box (small, regular, more, monster, valley box, more valley box). For a mixed box, which is what we get, prices range from $25 to $44.  We usually get the regular size for 31.50, every other week, and it lasts us for about 5 days.

- Though you don't know ahead of time what you will get in your box, you have the option, when you sign up for the service, to opt out of certain produce. So for example, if you don't like mustard greens or eggplant, you can cross that out, and they will make sure to never ever put that in your box. 

- With each box delivered to your house, you get a sheet with two recipes, using the ingredients that are in the box.

- You can choose the frequency at which you receive the box, and you can cancel at any time.

Equitable Roots:
This service contracts with schools and healthy living communities. They require a minimum of 30 weekly subscribers, and they give back $4 per box to the organization. Each box is $21 and contains a mix of fruits and veggies. It usually lasts us about 4-5 days. We get an email a few days before, telling us what's in the box, with a couple of recipes. This is a great way to raise money for your school or your organization while eating healthy!

Educate yourself

Just a little note to pass on this information that I just got in my email.

A huge part of my journey has been educating myself about the healing properties of food. There is a lot of information out there and it it sometimes contradictory. But I am hungry for more, I am curious and interested, so any chance I have to get my hands onto something educative, I take it.

Allow me to share this food symposium online, which gives you access to free audio lectures from April 28 to May 5. It's absolutely free, you just have to register here. I just did, and hope to share in here some of the new things I learn :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

I have really really wanted to blog more all week and have had tons of ideas floating in my head, but internet has been down at my house AND now at the office, making it difficult for me to do the research I need to do in order to properly address the issues I want to address.

So here is a quick, easy little snippet into a fun event that is family friendly, for Earth Day on Saturday. We get our organic produce from different services, and my next post will be about those resources, when everything is back to normal. One of those services is Farm Fresh To You, and they are having a farm tour this Saturday. Here is the link with the info:

I hope you can make it :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Drink your greens!

One of the first changes I implemented was to introduce a daily green smoothie into my diet. For breakfast, I used to have a bowl of all brans with fat free milk, or some oat meal with hot water and splenda (yikes!) and some blueberries or something like that. Now that I know I am allergic to wheat, and possibly also dairy, those breakfasts don't sound appealing at all (not to mention all the unpronounceable and probably artificial and modified ingredients in boxed cereals and splenda).

However,  I didn't know about my allergies when I went on the elimination diet for the first time. I was just trying to figure out some digestive issues.
Green smoothies changed my life. And now, what I have for breakfast almost every single day, is a wonderful, nutrient and super food packed, homemade green smoothie.

Here is what I usually put in mine:

- a few leaves of kale, collard greens, chard, spinach, or a mixture of those
- 1-2 cabbage leaves
- a piece of fresh ginger (1/2 inch), because it is an anti-inflamatory food
- 2 tbsp of chia seeds, preferably soaked for 30 min or the night before, but it's ok if they are not.
- a cup or more of frozen fruits, either raspberries, blueberries, mangoes or a mix of them.
- juice of half a lemon
- water, and or carrot juice if I have some on hand.

If I have it on hand, I also add a handful of parsley, which is a wonderful superfood. It is jam-packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and it has been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies. It can help neutralize certain carcinogens, and helps reduce the risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

I started doing green smoothies by following recipes on this blog, but then I became more comfortable creating my own variations. I do not own a Vitamix or Blendtec blender, which are the rolls royce of blenders. I have a Ninja Master Prep blender that I bought online for $40-50 that works perfectly fine. For kale leaves though, it doesn't always turn out very smooth and can stay a bit chunky, which I am sure a better blender could fix. But I personally don't mind so much.

Here is a youtube clip on how to make a green smoothie. You will be surprised how many servings of fruits and veggies you can sneak into a smoothie. And as she says in the clip, if you don't make any other changes in your diet, drinking one green smoothie a day will make a huge difference for your health.

so go ahead, drink your greens :)


Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Case Against Sugar

Now that we have celebrated Easter and that I feel stuffed with chocolate and candy (yes, I sometimes do indulge in unhealthy treats), and that my body is telling me "why, oh why, did you give me that junk?", I thought I would write a little something about sugar.

Monday is always a good day to start a diet, and while I dislike weight loss diets because they are not sustainable, I do believe in cleansing after a weekend of indulgence, and I do believe in new beginnings. The body is very forgiving and can regenerate and heal from unhealthy intake or overload, if you give it what it needs.

Sadly, in this culture and society, our bodies are getting fed way too much sugar. It is the ingredient that you can find in just about anything processed. When I was on the elimination diet, I became sorely aware of it. I couldn't even find chicken broth for my soup, without it having sugar in it, for Pete's sake! It's in processed meat, smoked salmon, tomato sauce, processed cereals, processed soups, dressings, spreads, bread, crackers, certain nut butters, added to certain dried fruits, most non-dairy milks... and the list goes on and on and on.

I dare you to start reading the labels and not come up with at least 70% of your grocery list being items that contain added sugar.

And why is sugar bad for you? Well, if you really want to know the scary reality and the more scientific details, you should watch these two videos, for a start:

If you don't have time, that's why I'm here. I will spare you the scientific details and break it to you plain and simple: sugar goes into your blood and turns into fat. It can give you heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes. More and more kids these days are being diagnosed with type II diabetes, and it is mostly due to the high amount of sugar in their diet. This could be avoided, in most cases.

Sugar is also inflammatory. It makes our liver work harder, which causes inflammation in the body, which always ends up causing disease, often cancer. And last but not least, cancer cells LOOOOOVE sugar. They thrive on sugar. They grow on sugar. So whether you have cancer, or cancer cells in your body, or potential for cancer in your genes, when you eat sugar, you are feeding the monster.

Last but not least, sugar is addictive. When you eat sugar, it activates parts of your brain that release "feel good hormones". So you want more. And more. And more. Until more isn't enough, and then you want even more. Yep! Just like cocaine or heroin!

So do me a favor this week: read the labels. See how many grams of sugar are in that cup of sweetened milk you give your kids, or that cereal bar, or that box of cereals, or that soda, and event that Starbucks Latte... Favor fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unsweetened drinks, plain yogurt over flavored yogurt, Ezekiel bread over white or even whole wheat bread... Make one little change at a time. And since we've all had more sugar than usual this weekend, why not start with lowering your sugar intake this week, and see how you feel.

If you can't drink coffee or tea without sweetening it, why not try stevia? If you dislike the taste, try decreasing the amount of sweetener you put in your drink, or even eliminating it altogether. It's an acquired taste and you will get used to it!

In fact, will you join me in a new healthy habit, just one at a time? How about Sugar Free Monday? Commit to one day a week, where you eat absolutely no added sugar. This means that anything that is not naturally sweetened by nature (like fruits) does not make it into your plate or your mouth this Monday. And that includes honey. Will you try with me? And who knows, you might even be able to carry this into Tuesday, Wednesday... ;)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mexican Quinoa Salad

With Easter Sunday coming up, and Spring in full swing, I'm feeling like cooking and eating some refreshing and exotic salads. Since we're having a potluck with friends, I thought I would make one of my most popular quinoa salads. I can't take credit for the recipe, and I owe my sister-in-law for introducing it on her blog a couple years ago, but ever since then, it has been a huge hit in our family and with our friends.

The original recipe can be found here but I have never made it the original way. I've made a few changes to it, and it has turned out absolutely wonderful. This is a surprising, exotic, with subtle and unexpected flavors, quinoa salad. Give it a try!

I translated the ingredients into french right next to the english words. (traduction francaise entre parenthese).

3 cups cooked quinoa (3 tasses de quinoa cuite)
1 can black beans, rinsed (1 boite de haricots noirs, rinces)
2 avocados, cut in cubes (2 avocats, coupes en cubes)
2 mangoes, cut in cubes, or 2+cups of frozen mango (mangues, coupees en cubes)
2 red bell peppers, chopped in sticks or little cubes (2 poivrons rouges, coupes en lamelles ou petits cubes)
1/2 purple onion, cut in slices (1/2 oignon violet, coupe en lamelles)
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (1 bouquet de coriandre frais, hache fin)

juice of 3 lemons (jus de trois citrons)
2 tbsp cold pressed olive oil (2 cs. d'huile d'olive)
1tsp coriander (1 cc. de coriandre moulu)
1tsp curry (1 cs de curry)
1/2 tsp turmeric (1/2 cc de curcuma)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (1/2 cc de cannelle)
Salt to taste (sel a volonte)

Mix all the ingredients with the dressing and enjoy! Feel free to add more cinnamon or curry, depending on your taste. You can also try it with limes instead of lemons, for a change of taste.

Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Orange and Cauliflower salad

It is the season for Cauliflower and Oranges! We have been getting these two items in our vegetable box from the farm and I have been trying to find creative ways of using them. I prefer to eat cauliflower raw, so I like to eat it in salads. I made this salad the other day and it turned out yummy!

1 head of romaine lettuce
1/2 avocado
1 orange, peeled and cut
1 cup of shredded cauliflower
1/2 cup fresh basil 
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 purple onion

Feel free to double some of the ingredients, but this is how I made it and it turned out great.

For the dressing, I used a simple balsamic, salt and olive oil vinaigrette. (3tbsp, a pinch and 1-2 tbsp).

En francais:

1 laitue romaine
1/2 avocat
1 orange, pelee et coupee
1 tasse de choux-fleur couple fin
1/2 tasse de basilic frais hache
1/4 tasse de persil hache
1/4 tasse de graines de courge
1/3 d'onion violet, coupe en lamelles

servir avec un vinaigrette balsamique.