Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pear, Walnut, and Sprout Green Salad

I had this delicious salad the other day, and just thought I'd share it with you. This salad features collard greens, which I think are not commonly thought of as a raw salad green. Collard leaves look like large flat fans. Their leaves have a bit of a waxy feel to them. The best way to make them into a raw salad is to cut out their stems, stack them up, roll them up, and use a chef's knife to cut across the roll, making 1/2-inch (or so) long ribbons! Then, put into a medium bowl with sea salt and an oil and vinegar dressing, and massage with your hands. That helps to break down the fibers to give the collards more of the feel of cooked greens. Arrange artistically in a salad bowl or plate. Then, top with remaining ingredients.

Here's the recipe (serves one hungry person for a main dish):
4 collard leaves
1/2 red bartlett pear
1/2 cup of lentil sprouts (or other sprouts)
1/4 cup of apple juice-sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup of raw walnuts
sea salt to taste

Dressing: I used a recipe from The Body Ecology diet. Basically, you could make one of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and mustard. Follow directions as given above.

This is an excellent salad for fall... featuring many fall crops: pears, cranberries, walnuts. The lentil sprouts are another story-- perhaps another post. Sprouts are a great way to make it through the winter without the wide variety of produce. The are super-high in Vitamin C, B-vitamins, and.... well, I'll save that for another post. :)

Here's the salad 3/4 of the way through. Plan a good amount of time to eat... there's a lot of chewing involved! Bon Appetit!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Autumn Apple GREEN Smoothie

So, I'm on this salad and green smoothie diet for another six weeks or so: Green smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, green smoothie for dinner. So far, I've been doing this for about a month and have therefore consumed 66 GREEN SMOOTHIES!!! If I'm going to pull this off for another 6 weeks, it's definitely time to get creative!

Today was a rather blustery, chilly, fall day here in northern Minnesota. On a day such as this, one craves something like spiced apple cider. But-- green smoothies are the thing right now. Besides, green smoothies are cleansing, revitalizing, and promote excellent health and energy. ~A wonderful way to get more GREENS in one's diet.

Here's a delicious way to get more GREENS in YOUR diet!

Spiced Apple Green Smoothie

8 oz (or so) of apple juice
1/2 a frozen pear (fresh works too)
a big handful of red leaf lettuce or mixed baby greens
1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg to taste

If you're using a pear out of the freezer, let it sit in the blender with the apple juice to thaw it a bit. Add the greens and spices and blend. Add the spices to taste and blend until smoothie. Pour into a glass, sprinkle some nutmeg on top, and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Delicious Early Fall Snack: FIGS!

Ever tried a fresh fig? I hadn't until just a couple months ago. Wow... what a great experience! Go find some while it's still FIG SEASON! :) It's almost over!

Figs have been part of the culinary scene for a very long time. We can be sure they were a frequent treat in the Garden of Eden, as the noted presence of their leaves (Genesis 3:7) makes quite likely. They can be used in all kinds of different ways... in salads, as a sauce, on a pizza, in ice cream... I like them best like this:

Doesn't it look delicious?! YUM.

There are a few different kinds of figs that are usually available in our grocery stores (if you, like me, do not live in "fig country"). The kind pictured is called a Brown Turkey fig. Other common varieties are the dark-colored Black Mission, and greenish hued Kadota, Calimyrna, and Adriatic. Each has its own unique flavor, some sweeter, others less so.

According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, figs are a good source of:
  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary fiber
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Their leaves have also been used to treat diabetes, cancer, and conditions of high triglycerides.
Their season is June through early October... so get some while you can! (If you do miss out though, dried figs are also delicious).
Here are some ways to use fresh and dried figs:
  • Fresh Fig and Rose Smoothie: (Add some red lettuce to make it more nutritious, without spoiling the color with greens)
  • Fruit Salad of fresh figs, grapes, and kiwi
  • A HUGE salad of leafy greens (mixed spring greens or fresh herb salad) + grapefruit sections + dried figs (cut in halves or quarters) + pecans + dressing of olive oil, grapefruit juice, honey, sea salt
  • Add dried figs to your favorite homemade granola recipe
  • Stir dried figs into your breakfast porridge
  • Eat a fresh fig like an apple and savor the flavor...
  • Take a dried fig in one hand and some good organic dark chocolate in the other. Nibble some fig, then chocolate, then fig, then chocolate. Get more figs and chocolate. Continue. ;)
How about you? Have you had fresh or dried figs? How do you most enjoy them? Any ideas or recipes to share?

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Go Green"... with Green Smoothies

Just about everyone knows they *should* include more green leafy vegetables in their diet. However, those are just the foods at which children tend to turn up their little noses. It took Popeye the Sailor Man half a century ago, to encourage the eating of spinach. After all, he knew it would help build strong muscles and give him lots of energy. It's true! (Although canned spinach hardly compares to fresh, raw greens). Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens and the like are full of important nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Fiber
  • Cancer-fighting compounds
  • Vitamin K, Calcium, and Magnesium, which help strengthen bones
  • Heart-protective nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory agents
  • Protective nutrients for eyesight
  • Vitamins to improve cognitive function
  • Iron for energy
  • B Vitamins for energy and the ability to deal with stress
  • Manganese to help balance blood sugar, activate enzymes, and improve thyroid function
  • Trace minerals, which most Americans seem to be deficient in these days
These a truly "super-foods!" With all those benefits available to us, why should we skimp on our greens?!

Okay. So, not everyone likes to eat salads three times a day. Especially not for breakfast. And those green leafies are a lot of fiber and can take FOREVER to eat properly (chewing *at least* 30 times per mouthful until you have created a watery "bolus," but that's another discussion). So, how can we make sure to get our greens--reducing them to a pulverized state so our bodies can digest them well-- without taking an hour or two for each meal?

Ann Wigmore (1909-1994) was co-founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute and the author of several books on "living foods." She was both a holistic health practitioner and a nutritionist, and a strong advocate of a diet that consists of only whole, raw, "living" foods. To include more greens in a form that is easier on the digestive system, she pioneered the blending of greens into raw "soups," which were then served at the Hippocrates Institute to those who were working to overcome serious illness.

Green Smoothies were made popular by a woman named Victoria Boutenko, a Russian woman who came to America with her husband and two children in the 1990s. She was invited to teach about Russia at community college in Denver. When she and her family first arrived, they were thrilled with the new variety of "foods" sold in American grocery stores... things that were convenient and didn't take much time or effort to make, i.e. our great variety of processed foods. After consuming American processed foods from grocery stores and fast food restaurants nearly exclusively, all four of the Boutenkos became very ill. The father had rhumatoid arthritis, the mother was obese, the son had juvenile diabetes, the daughter had athesma. After a lot of research and networking, they stumbled onto the raw food vegan way of eating. Gradually, their health problems went away, and they regained vibrant health. As a part of this new way of eating, Victoria struggled to get more greens into her family's diet, in a way that was palatable and more exciting than simply eating salads all the time. The answer? Green Smoothies! She even wrote a book about the benefits of including daily green smoothies as a part of a healthy diet: Green For Life.

Green smoothies, as mentioned in a previous post, are simply delicious fruit smoothies with a handful or two of leafy green goodness blended right in! Some basic guidelines follow:
  • Fruit or berry base (frozen berries, fresh or frozen bananas, other fruit or combinations: pears, oranges, pineapple, coconut flesh, apple, etc)
  • liquid to thicken (water, coconut water, coconut milk, juice, low-or non-caffeinated tea)
  • sweetener (soaked dried fruit like dates, raw honey, stevia)
  • greens (spinach, kale, collards, arugula, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, foraged greens, parsley, cilantro)
  • optional additional herbs/spices/flavorings: mint, basil, coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc)
Challenge for the week:

Using the guidelines above, experiment on your own. If you come up with a particularly delicious recipe you'd like to share, post it below!
For more information: