Friday, September 28, 2012

Sunshine Kale Salad and Why Kale is Awesome!


Do you eat kale?  We love it over here- almost as much as spinach.  It goes in our smoothies every morning and I like to chop it up and use it in our dinner skillets too.  But my favorite way to enjoy this emerald gem is in a salad with the dressing massaged in.


We'll get to the recipe in a minute.  First I'd like to share the wondrous qualities of kale with you.

Kale is high in a wide range of vitamins and minerals that replenish the bodies ability to fight disease. It is one of many cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower and chard) that has cancer and heart disease fighting properties.  Kale also offers wonderful support for your digestive system and your body's ability to get rid of toxins.

Kale contains nutrients that fight both oxidative stress and inflammation- which increase the risk of cancer.  Kale contains a whopping 45 different antioxidant flavonoids.  This huge range of antioxidants offers the body significant support to repair oxidative stress.  Studies have shown that these nutrients aid in the prevention of 5 different types of cancer so far- colon, breast, ovarian, prostate and bladder.  



Kale’s ant-inflammatory properties come from its high levels of vitamin K and the presence of omega-3s.  I’m not a huge fan of relying on daily values to regulate what nutrients our individual bodies need each day, but to give you an idea, one cup of  kale contains 1327% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K.  At that level, it should be enough to cover everyone’s needs for K!  

Kale also contains some awesome compounds called glucosinolates,  which the body uses to make ITCs.  These compounds act to reduce cancer risks.  They may also help to actually treat cancer! In addition to fighting cancer, ITCs aid the body in detoxifying at a cellular level.  They work at detoxing both environmental and food toxins.

Kale’s digestive support and cholesterol lowering abilities both stem from it’s fiber nutrients.  Just another reason why fiber is good!


So in case you were wondering, kale is pretty good for you!  Ok, I think it is amazing for you!  A couple kale disclaimers though... 

Conventional kale is now listed in the Dirty Dozen in the "plus" category.  This means that conventionally grown kale was found to contain especially toxic substances.  This is one of the vegetables that should never be eaten if conventionally grown.  If you can't find it organic, don't buy it!

Kale is also high in oxalates which can cause problems with some people.  If you have leaky gut or bladder concerns, pay attention to how you feel when eating kale.  This should dictate your intake.

So how do you enjoy all of this tasty kale?  Making a salad is a pretty easy and flavorful option.  I love massaged kale!  In case you're wondering, I don't massage it for my own benefit, it actually helps it break down.  

Sunshine Kale Salad


2 large bunches of kale
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 oranges, pealed and chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped

Orange Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/8 cup olive oil
juice from half a lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt

Pile up your kale and slice thinly.  You might want to do this in two batches.


Combine dressing ingredients and whisk.


Pour dressing over salad and massage into kale.  Also to sit for 20-30 minutes.


Chop avocados, oranges and red onion. Pay no attention to the tiny hand stealing oranges....


Add salad fixin's to kale and gentle mix in.


This is a great meal by itself but it would also be an awesome side to any meal- full of healthy body-happy love!


Not a bad way to nourish your body in my opinion!

For more information on kale, check out this site.

This post is shared at Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back FridayFoodie Friends Friday, Monday Mania, Meatless Monday, Homestead Barn Hop, Fresh Foods Link Up and Melt in Your Mouth Monday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Healthy Eating and Your Kids


"My kids will only eat_____." Ever heard a parent say this? Ever been that parent?
Do you struggle with you're kids over food?  I think we've all been there at one time or another.  Most days my kids are awesome eaters... but every once in awhile they don't seem to want to eat anything I make.  I try not to stress about these days and trust their little bodies to know what they need.


But how do you make sure the majority of their days are the "good" ones?  I've got 10 tips for you today on ways to foster healthy eating habits with your kids.  You can check them out in my post over at Modern Alternative Kitchen.


We utilize these 10 tips in our house and I'm so blessed to have kids that gnaw on cucumbers on a regular basis.


Looking for some more kid friendly meal ideas?  Check out the links below.  My kids love these recipes!

Beef and Veggie Skillet
Black Beans and Rice
Green Curry
Salmon with Cucumber Avocado Salsa
Dry Rub Flank Steak with Black Bean Salad

Have you checked The Spinach Spot out on Facebook?  I'd love it if you stopped by!  You can also hit the like button in the top right hand corner and show me some spinach love :)


This post is shared at Whole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Tasteful Tuesday, Earning My Cape, and Healthy 2Day Wednesday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meal Plan Monday 9/24/2012



Our time cleansing has come to a close.  It was not inspiring as I had hoped.  The first time I cleansed I felt amazing and this time I was just tired.  I think part of the problem was I just wasn't able to get enough sleep- something that really can't be helped with two littles.  I also realize that I have really cleaned up my diet and eat so much raw food daily that being totally raw wasn't a huge change.  

What did come out of this whole experience is that Andy's eyes were opened to how great raw food can be.  I also found plenty of new recipes that I plan to try soon.  I'm thinking about incorporating a "raw day" weekly for our whole family too.  But I've got to figure out the day that will work best for us first!



This weekend my wonderful husband also built me my new garden box.  I can't wait for our little backyard garden to grow some food.  It is great to get the kids involved in growing their own food too!



Our meal plan this week is easing us into cooked foods and trying to keep a clean diet that is still high in all of those great enzymes.  I'm also trying to keep it simple since Andy has a couple days off this week.  I'll be wanting to spend time with him and the kids- not in the kitchen.




Meal Plan 9/24/2012-9/30/2012


Monday
Breakfast: Raw Granola
Dinner: Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tuesday
Breakfast: Oats with Raw topping
Lunch: turkey and avocado rollups
Dinner: Asian Chicken and rice bowl

Wednesday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with veggies
Lunch: Leftovers
  
Thursday
Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins
Lunch: Veggie Filled Pitas
Dinner: roast chicken, sweet potato fries and a salad

Friday
Breakfast: Raw Bars
Lunch: Chicken Salad
Dinner: Miso Soup, Fried Rice

Saturday
Breakfast: Pancakes with Peach Sauce
Lunch: Quiche
Dinner: Freezer Meal

Sunday
Breakfast: Veggie Omelets
Lunch: Leftovers

I hope you have a wonderful week enjoying the first days of fall!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Basil Pesto Cucumber Bites



You’ve probably seen that I’m eating raw this week.  It’s been 4 days now and I’m loving it.  More surprisingly, Andy is loving it too.  We been eating some fabulous raw food and exercising, sleeping more and taking Epsom salt baths.  I also got a massage from my wonderful friend Jen.


One of the biggest things I’ve noticed when eating raw is that when I get hungry, I need to eat quickly.  If not I become an angry mama monster- and this isn’t fun for anyone. 

To keep things from getting ugly I like to make sure I’ve got raw snacks readily available.  These can be as simple as a piece of fruit or some carrots.  I keep raw granola and raw crackers in case I need something more substantial.  But when I'm cleansing I prefer to eat mostly fruits and veggies so having some creative veggie snacks is nice too.  Enter my cucumber bites.


I originally made these for Andy’s coming home party.  I’m pretty sure no one knew they were eating raw- or a pesto without dairy! I had some of the pesto left over and it kept for a couple days after the party.  I’m not sure about how long it would actually keep since I devoured it all so quickly.  I do love that I can keep a batch in the fridge ready for any mama monster moments though.

Basil Pesto Cucumber Bites


Pesto
¾ cup pine nuts
1 cup fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp Sea salt
1 lemon

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

In a food processor, pulse pine nuts 2-3 times until they are chunky.


Add remaining pesto ingredients and pulse until basil is finely chopped.


Taste and add more lemon or salt as desired.
Scoop pesto onto cucumber slices and serve with a lemon wedge.


I’m looking forward to eating this the next time the mama monster comes calling.




This post is shared at Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Pennywise Platter ThursdayKeep It Real Thursdays, Monday Mania, Meatless Monday, and Melt in Your Mouth Monday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Whole Foods Pantry



Last week I cleaned out and organized my pantry.  It was a total wreck and a pantry cleanse was long over due.  It's been about a year and a half since my kids were diagnosed with their allergies and I transitioned our family to a whole foods diet.  I've cleaned out my pantry quite a few times since then but I hadn't gotten it organized to my satisfaction.  Since last week, I have been in heaven using my newly organized pantry.  It makes all the difference when you can see the inventory you have and find what you are looking for.
Since my pantry is in such good order right now (and who knows how long that will last) I thought I would share with you what I keep in there.  It's kind of like a low rent version of cribs. Is that show still on?  Anyway, here's what my pantry looked like last week.  I couldn't even really walk in there.


This doesn't exactly scream "tranquil cooking environment" does it?

Here's the after.  So. much. better.



Now I can actually see what I have, or what I may be running out of, more importantly.

So what are my pantry basics? I've broken them down by section below.

Nuts and Seeds



This is probably my favorite section of the pantry.  I find myself reaching into this area the most. Probably multiple times a day.  The nuts get eaten plain, added to treats, made into nut butters or used in sauces.  We also make milk out of the almonds and cashews. Right now I’ve got cashews, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and macadamia nuts. Oh, and shredded coconut of course.
I’ve also got pumpkin, chia, sunflower, flax and hemp seeds.  Seeds are also great bases for sauces and raw crackers.  I like to use hemp, flax and chia as thickeners in our dishes.  I’ll blend them into anything to increase nutrition as well!

Grains and Beans



My stash of whole grains is pretty small. I keep spelt (for spouting), buckwheat, millet and quinoa on hand.  Ok, so quinoa is a seed technically but I keep it with my grains since that’s how I use it.  I’ve also got some organic corn for occasional popping.  I’ve got plenty of rice too.  We eat a fair amount of that so it actually has it’s own corner now.
I’m a huge fan of beans so I like to keep lots of different kinds on hand.  My favorites are lentils, black beans, navy beans, chickpeas and adzuki beans.

Flours



My husband is a huge fan of baked goods so I like to keep a selection of gluten free flours on hand.  We used almond flour the most but I also like coconut, teff, chickpea, brown rice (which I make) and millet.  I’ve also got a selection of starches for thickening.

Baking



I call this my baking shelf because most of the things on the shelf get used for sweets- even if they aren’t baked.  I keep my cacao and dried fruit here (like dates) along with my beloved coconut oil. I've also got a couple different types of seaweed for sushi, smoothies and cooking beans.  Oh, and there's sugar for kombucha making too!

Tea and Herbs



I make my own herbal teas and I’m starting to make tinctures and salves so I have a collection of herbs.  They make the pantry smell fabulous!  I also keep a couple types of tea on hand for my kombucha brewing.

Pasta



We don’t eat a ton of pasta but when we do it is gluten free.  I don’t have time to make the fresh stuff on a daily basis so I like to keep a couple packages in the pantry.  Right now I have a TON of pasta because I took a trip to the asian market.  They have an awesome selection of rice pasta and mung bean pasta at a fraction of the cost.

Packaged Goods



This where I keep my extra packaged goods (you know the ones I keep for the apocalypse).  I’ve got extra oils, tuna, some canned beans and pumpkin here. 

My Home Canned Items



So far I only can tomatoes, tomato sauce and jam.  These take up a lot of space in my pantry but they last throughout the year and save me a ton of money.  Plus I get to control what goes in them and make sure they are chemical free!

Crackers and Junk



Yep, I’ve got a shelf of that.  I keep some store bought crackers on hand for when I run out of the homemade ones.  I also have rice cakes, which my kids love to top with almond butter.  Our junk consists of some tortilla chips and some chocolate.  Sometimes (most times if you're my husband) you need chocolate.

So those are the main sections of my newly organized pantry.  I’ve also got a space for paper goods and bulk items (like my gallon of coconut and olive oils) and large serving dishes.

Our “pantry” also extends to our countertop where I keep oats, short grain brown rice and chickpeas since I used these the most.  I also keep our homemade snacks on the counter in glass jars so the kids can see what’s available.  Usually we’ve got raw flax crackers and grain free granola.  The other jars rotate between raw snack bars, cookies or seasoned nuts.

It feels good to have a clean, organized pantry!

This post is shared at Monday Mania, Homestead Barnhop, Whole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Super Link Party, Simple Lives ThursdayFight Back FridayPennywise Platter Thursday, and Keep It Real Thursdays.