Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Healing Foods: Beet Celery Orange Juice and Another Believer!

I have been telling my sister and brother-in-law how much I love the fresh vegetable and fruit juices I have been making to give the family a much needed vitamin boost for breakfast. This morning, I made a beet, orange and celery juice that was a big hit. The juice is part sweet from the beets, part zingy with fresh squeezed orange and calming with the celery juice, and it is a nutrient packed glass of deliciousness.

I have been experimenting with this one for a bit, trying to find good, healthy combinations using beets that are tasty enough for two picky daughters. All of my waxing about the power of green vegetable juice and fresh juicing even made my brother-in-law John go out and get his own Breville super juicer. He has been making his own green juices for about a week now. I told him about this juice combo, and he asked for the recipe.

According to www.whfoods.org, beets have been shown to provide anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support, and help to promote eye health. Beets also include enzymes that aid in the prevention and treatment of certain cancer types. 1 orange provides 100% of our daily dose of vitamin C, and is a good source of A and B vitamins, beta-carotene and potassium. Celery is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and is a good source of iron, folic acid, potassium and calcium.

So, when I let John know how wonderful this juice was, he suggested that I send him the recipe. I am sending this with love to my brother-in-law, and to all looking for delicious fresh squeezed juice recipes to set their day…

Beet, Celery and Orange Juice

2 beets, washed and quartered

2 stalks celery

2 oranges, quartered and skin removed

Add all ingredients to juicer. Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Comfort Food: German Chocolate Brownies

I have written before about the healing power of chocolate (see Break-Up Cupcakes, September 2010 post). It is also one of the ultimate comfort foods in any form. Candies, cookies, cupcakes, brownies….a little chocolate goes a long way to lift the spirits and soothe the soul.

On Sunday, both of my daughters were quite unhappily doing their homework. It was a sunny late-afternoon, and instead of being outside, hanging with friends, or painting their toenails, they were sitting at the dining room table working away. They were not loving it—or me. I decided that some comfort food was in order. The idea of a rich, chocolate brownie came to me, but since I really wanted to pull out all of the stops on comfort food, I decided to top the brownies with German Chocolate Cake Frosting. The rich caramel frosting with pecans and coconut is a big childhood favorite of mine—and they love it, too.

It was surprisingly easy—and shockingly good. Very rich, chewy, chocolate-y and satisfying. So much better than multiplication and global history!

German Chocolate Frosted Brownies

For Brownies:

4 squares unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup butter or margarine

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not over bake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.

German Chocolate (Cake) Frosting

1 c. sugar

3 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. nuts

1 stick butter

1 can condensed milk

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 can coconut

Combine ingredients and cook over low heat; stirring constantly until thickened, about 12 minutes. Add chopped pecans and coconut.

Spread frosting over brownies. When completely cool, cut into squares. Keep refrigerated in airtight container.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Comfort Foods: Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro Garlic Lemon Pesto

My daughter runs cross country for her high school track team. Now that spring training has started, she practices three times a week (and runs with her Dad on weekends when she is feeling really ambitious). Needless to say, she comes home from practice famished, and wondering how quickly dinner can be served.

This week, to get both protein and carbs to refuel her for practice, I made a pasta dish with sautéed shrimp and a pesto of garlic, cilantro, and lemon. She gave it a two-thumbs up—so I am thrilled that she likes something that is both healthy for her and quick for me to get on the table. Served with freshly grated parmesan and a green salad, it is a great weekday dinner.

½ pound favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions

½ pound shrimp, peeled, washed and deveined

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper


1 cup cilantro leaves, plucked from stems

2-3 cloves garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons seafood or chicken stock (I use chicken)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Mix all pesto ingredients in a food processor. Prepare pasta. Heat oil in a skillet. Add shrimp, salt and pepper. When shrimp is cooked, toss with pesto in skillet. Toss in pasta. Garnish with cheese, if desired. Makes 2 generous servings.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Healing Food: Ayurvedic Green Juice and an Inspiring Family

Dana (second from right) and Dan with their cousins and Grandma in 2009

On my recent trip back to Ohio, I was elated at the amazing recovery my niece Dana has made.

She and my nephew Dan met and fell in love in college, and became each other’s biggest fans at soccer matches (hers) and golf matches (his) that they played with their now alma-mater Dennison University’s teams.

Not long after they were married, she was coaching high school soccer and teaching, and the two lovebirds spent time running, hiking, following their dreams and loving their new life together. Then Dana started to experience excruciating back pains that sidelined her active lifestyle, and eventually kept her housebound trying to manage the pain and learn how it could be cured.

Over the course of two years, she visited doctor after doctor with my nephew, traveling from Ohio to Minnesota in search of a specialist who could help her. She grew weary of the pain, and fearful of the pain medication that she needed every day to perform the simplest of tasks. A degenerative disk disease was diagnosed, and surgery followed. She continued to have terrible pain after surgery, and to suffer side effects from the medication. She lost weight and muscle, and much of her appetite.

Her doctor recommended an Ayurvedic healer, who helped her with pain management strategies through meditation and breathing. She also began to follow an Ayurvedic diet, which helped to rid her of the toxins the pain medication had produced. She began to respond to the treatments, and began to wean herself from the medications she depended on for two years. She is now able to sit comfortably, travel on planes, drive, tie her shoes and cut the food on her plate—tasks that were impossible with the pain she felt in her back and limbs. When I saw her at my birthday dinner, she was radiant, healthy, beautiful and smiling—I was thrilled for her.

It inspired me to get out my Ayurvedic cookbooks and do some online research on Ayurvedic diet. One of my happy discoveries was a website called Joyful Belly (www.joyfulbelly.com) . This website, founded by John Immel, is a wealth of food information, and has some wonderful recipes that I have tried over the past week.

One of them, kale ginger lemonade, is a healthy, cleansing and nutritionally dense drink that I would love to make part of my daily breakfast routine.

Rather than post the recipe and photo of this amazing green drink, I invite you to visit the website and get the recipe for yourself, and explore some of John’s wonderful recipes and healthy living tips. I saw first hand how this path helped my niece, and am happy to spread the good word.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Healing Foods: Seared Sea-Scallop Salad with Spinach Pesto Vinaigrette

On Sunday, we had dinner with our wonderful foodie friends. I told them I was trying a new recipe—part of our 2011 eating healthier plan. My friend Berett was dubious. In our more than 20-year friendship, Berett and I have had a mutual love affair with food. Our friendship has included many wonderful, funny and heart warming stories---all involving good food and drink. We even decided to diet together to support each other (more than a few times), and have blossomed together too—so linked is our foodie friendship and love for one another.

I was making a fish stew as the main course (see Omega 3 For All…posted in May 2010), so I decided to showcase the beautiful scallops I found at the fish market as the appetizer. The scallops were sprinkled with salt and pepper, and seared quickly on each side in clarified butter. Once they were cooked, I placed them on a bed of fresh spinach and arugula leaves, topped with a spinach pesto vinaigrette and served with garlic crostini. The combination is delicious, and the scallop and spinach salad combination is both low fat and nutrient packed. And it is quick and easy to prepare.

I had been reading about the nutrient density of sea-scallops, a shellfish I happen to love for its delicate flavor and versatility. In addition to their delectable taste, scallops contain a variety of nutrients that promote cardiovascular health, and provide protection against colon cancer. Sea-scallops are an excellent source of vitamin-B12. In addition to their B12, they're a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of magnesium and potassium, three other nutrients that provide significant benefits for the cardiovascular system.

So, in honor of my friend Berett, who has loved me through thick and thin (literally!), I offer this healthy recipe to all…

Seared Sea-Scallop Salad with Spinach Pesto Vinaigrette

12 large sea scallops, salted and peppered

3 tablespoons clarified butter

Heat large skillet over high heat. Add clarified butter and allow to heat for 30 seconds. Add scallops (gently) to the skillet, searing on each side for about 45 seconds. Remove from skillet to plate.

On each of four salad plates, place a mound of spinach/arugula leaves. Top with 3 seared scallops. Sprinkle spinach pesto vinaigrette (recipe below) over salad leaves, and a small dot on each scallop. Garnish with chives.

Spinach Pesto Vinaigrette

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup shredded parmesan

½ cup to ¾ cup olive oil

salt and pepper

juice of ½ lemon

In a food processor, process garlic. Add spinach and parmesan cheese. Pour in olive oil, a little at a time –about ½ cup for thicker pesto, ¾ for thinner pesto (I prefer thinner pesto—so more olive oil). Add the juice of ½ lemon to make vinaigrette.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Healing Foods: Crusted Tuna Steaks with Quinoa Salad and the Facts on Flax

I have tried to maintain my healthy juicing and eating in 2011, even as I went through my 50th birthday bender—a series of dinners and parties to celebrate my launch into a new decade. It’s been fun—but I am definitely craving the energy level that my healthy eating and juicing have given me after all the champagne drinking and cake eating of the last several weeks.

My daughter and I have been trying to get more flax into our diet, sprinkling flax seeds into salads and using flax seed oil in our dressings to give ourselves more of the powerful healing agents flax contains. According to my research, flax is rich in lignans, powerful antioxidants that help prevent many types of cancer. Flax is also a natural food that is the richest source of essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s and alphalinolenic acid). It is packed with fiber, and helps in fighting cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, constipation, menopausal symptoms and heart disease. It is also an immune system booster and powerful anti-inflammatory. Why wouldn’t we want more of that in our daily diet?

So, in order to test some flax recipes I created, I invited my favorite food critics and friends, the Lee family, to try a flax-inspired dinner. I made flax seed and sesame crusted tuna steaks, and paired it with an Asian inspired quinoa vegetable salad with cucumber, crunchy sweet peppers, shallots and cilantro. To satisfy my friend John’s love of spice, I made a dipping sauce to accompany the tuna with tamarind sauce, sushi vinegar and Korean red pepper paste. Marilyn added delicious garlic sautéed broccoli and a yummy green salad to the healthy mix, and we had a lovely weeknight meal. They assured me that the tuna and quinoa were blog-worthy, so I am inviting my friends to get on the flax wagon and try some recipes of their own with flax seed and flax seed oil. Here are mine…I hope you enjoy them!

Flax and Sesame Crusted Tuna

3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

2 tuna steaks (about 1-1 ½ inches thick

¼ cup black and white sesame seeds

¼ cup flax seeds

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon chili pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all dry ingredients on a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge steaks on each side to crust with seed/spice mixture. Heat oil on high heat in a shallow skillet. When hot, add steaks. Cook for 3 minutes each side for medium rare steaks (less if you like them rare). Allow to cool for 5 minutes, slice into ½ inch thick slices and serve.

Quinoa Salad with Vegetables

1 cup dried organic quinoa

2 cups water

1 tablespoon flaxseed oil

1 shallot, chopped fine

1 small yellow pepper, chopped fine

1 small red pepper, chopped fine

½ cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons sushi vinegar (seasoned rice vinegar)

4 tablespoons flaxseed oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp flax seeds (optional)

Put quinoa, water and 1 tbsp.oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Cool slightly.

Stir shallots, peppers, cilantro, vinegar and oil together. Add quinoa. Season to taste with salt, pepper and flax seeds.

Spicy Dipping Sauce

¼ cup organic tamarind sauce

1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

1 generous teaspoon Korean red pepper paste

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve with tuna steaks