Nearly every year, May kicks us so hard that by Memorial Day, we don’t have a plan at all. We end up doing something with family, friends & neighbors at the last minute. But, guess what? It’s still just as fun! It’s nice enough the last Monday in May to eat outdoors, and even to cook outdoors (except the first May we lived in Colorado, when it snowed!) We have a simple little wooden deck near the back door of our home, and we usually spend the afternoon or evening out there.
Here are some of our favorite foods for the occasion:
1) Grilled Salmon and Veggies. We own a lovely device that allows us to grill cut vegetables. Our friend called it a “grill wok,” but it’s actually flat. The ones with sides are probably better, since the veggies are less likely to fall over the edge. It doesn’t take much effort to prepare this or to make it taste fabulous! I like to marinate the veggies in a bit of citrus juice, olive oil and herbs. Scott likes to put apricot barbecue sauce on the salmon. The important thing is to avoid overcooking the salmon. A few minutes on each side, depending on the thickness, the heat of your grill, & how far from the flame.
2) Garden Salad. Again, not much effort expended here. (That’s sort of the point, right?) Garden greens are still new & tender. Throw in your favorites and add a light dressing. I like to include raisins and nuts in our salad. You can make a nice seasonal dressing by whizzing a few strawberries with some balsamic vinegar in the blender. And speaking of strawberries…
3) Fresh Berries. They’re in season, so it’s the perfect time to get to your local produce stand and pick up some blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and even something more exotic if you like. They’re awesome just as they are, or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, or dipped in melted chocolate. You can also pair a berry with rhubarb, also in season, to make a great pie. Click here for my recipe (It’s for apple pie, but it works just as well for berries & rhubarb) and click here for the gluten-free crust recipe. Since they’re loaded with antioxidants and low in sugar, enjoy as many as you want.
4) Local Brews. We are fortunate to live near quite a few breweries and ale houses. It’s kind of a Colorado thing; but I know there are lots of places where you can find great local beers & ales. New flavors are appearing all the time. I’ve recently discovered brews made with coffee, chocolate, and ginger. (Okay, maybe not new to you, but to me, it was!)
5) Home made ice cream, sorbet or other frozen dessert. If you’re vegan, you need not miss out. You can make up an awesome sorbet or other dessert using an ice cream freezer. (You can even use a regular food processor if you just freeze some bananas ahead of time. Here’s a recipe I like from a cool website.) Get creative! Start with your favorite milk– could be almond, coconut, hemp, or dairy. Add some pureed fruit if you like. I like to use coconut milk with some coffee and pureed bananas. Cocoa and coconut are good additions to this mixture. If you eat dairy, add some plain yogurt or kefir. Sweeten the mixture to your satisfaction. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your freezer as to the amount of mixture you can put into it.
I’d love to hear what your favorites are. Have a great Memorial Day!
A couple of weeks ago, I took my dogs for a walk the morning after a snow storm. The sun was bright, and there were icicles everywhere, sparkling and dripping. I gave my son, Lee, a call. He has been taking some lovely photos lately, and I know he had some new equipment he’d like to try out.
The result was the following series of photos. As I mention from time to time, beautiful imagery is nourishing to my soul. Art of any kind has the ability to speak to something deeper than words can reach. So, even though this post is not about nutrition, exactly, I thought you might enjoy it, too.
Lee is now doing real estate photography, portraits, and special interest. You can contact him at FreemanFrames@Gmail.com.
Strawberries are in season! I just received a quart of organic strawberries in my bi-weekly produce box from local provider Green Buffalo. According to a flyer that came with my strawberries, more than half of 7-9-year-old kiddos say this is their favorite fruit. Good choice! A cup of these berries has plenty of antioxidants like Vitamin C, fiber, and only 55 calories. And since they taste fabulous, I decided to come up with a smoothie recipe featuring strawberries.
All of my smoothie these days are “Nutri-Blast” smoothies, which means you can really only properly make them using a Nutri-Bullet. I’ve had lots of cheaper blenders, and ended up with unpleasant chunks in my smoothies. These handy machines really do a good job of pulverizing everything I put in, which makes it possible to sort of hide good stuff like super-foods in the blend. (A Vita-Mix works too; but I do not have one.)
Each of these Nutri-Blast recipes starts out pretty much the same: fill the cup 1/2 full with green leafy stuff. In this recipe, I use Swiss Chard, because it is huge & beautiful right now! Be sure to rotate your greens every few days, as each kind contains different nutrients, & also different anti-nutrients. (To learn more about this, click here to see a 9 minute clip from the Renegade Health Show.)
I nearly always shred up a bit of root veggie to put into a smoothie, usually beet, carrot, or in this case, yam.
Now comes the fruit. No need to trim the green tops of the berries. I did trim off a couple of mushy brown bits though.
The next step is to add the liquid. I found some lovely peach Kombucha I made a month or so ago in my fridge. I don’t like a really strong taste of kombucha in the smoothie, so I added about 1/2 cup.
Next, it was time to add one of my favorite products: So Delicious coconut creamer. I put in about 1/4 cup. I also added a bit of water, to bring the level of the liquid up to about 2/3 of the level of the produce.
The last thing to go in was a little handful of goodness consisting of flax seeds & pistachios. Cashew butter is great in this recipe too; but I ran out yesterday. You could also add mace at this stage (which I also did yesterday.)
Blend & drink. Happy Spring!
Over and over I hear this question. I understand why, too. Everywhere, food labels advertise “gluten-free!” even on items like honey or yogurt. And often, gluten-free labeled foods have a higher price tag (sometimes ridiculously high!) It could seem like someone decided to try to capitalize on this eating trend with the objective of making a bundle of profits from the unsuspecting health-seeking public.
There’s a certain ring of truth to this idea, of course. Gluten-free does not always mean “healthy.” Far from it! Many gluten-free packaged goods are full of sugar and/or are highly processed, and can even be much less salubrious than their “regular” counterparts.
If you talk to the average gluten-free consumer, however, you get a pretty different picture. As a health coach, I can tell you that no one I know of sets out to become gluten-free just for fun. Usually, when someone has clear warning signals of gluten-intolerance or Celiac disease, there is first a period of denial. “Oh, I don’t feel too bad, really.” Following this is the cry “but what will I eat?!?”
Once an elimination diet has been completed, and it’s certain that the person must avoid gluten, there is usually a period of “cheating.” I know this only too well; my cheating days lasted for years. “I think I’m okay with just a little bit of gluten,” I’d say to myself. “This little handful of Cheeze-its won’t hurt me.” Oh brother…
When I learned the facts about what was really going on in my gut during these times, and when I considered the fact that, in spite of my hard work to correct my digestive distress, I still was actually getting worse, I had to admit it would be worth it to really try going completely gluten-free. Eventually, I was in so much pain that it seemed just plain stupid not to try it.
For a person who is gluten intolerant, every ingestion of gluten is an assault to the gut, leading to hidden inflammation, a condition called “leaky gut,” compromised immunity, and many times, compounding the noticeable outward symptoms such as gas, bloating, pain, and elimination problems. Symptoms can also include brain fog, other psychological issues, and more. Once the intestines are letting undigested particles of foods through, into areas where they don’t belong, the immune system identifies these particles as “the enemy,” causing further inflammation and symptoms. There’s really no way to stop these results until the offending food is eliminated and the gut is healed. (Sugar can have a similar effect.)
I’ve been traveling this road for my whole life. I can’t remember a time when my digestion has been good, until the past couple of years. Even though I never wanted to give up wheat & gluten, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for improving my health. Since I also had other sensitivities, and I wasn’t too systematic or diligent, it’s taken many years to get everything normalized for me. I can honestly say that I don’t miss the foods I live without, for the most part.
Unfortunately, more & more folks, including many children, are discovering that they are sensitive to gluten. This trend is unlikely to reverse in the near future. It is alarming to realize that since the early 1990′s, when genetically modified wheat made it’s appearance in America, wheat allergies have affected increasingly larger percentages of children. Other common allergens are also genetically modified, such as corn and peanuts.
So, not only is gluten intolerance not a “fad,” but food intolerances are on the rise, in general. As a health coach, part of my life’s mission is to be of service to people affected by these issues–and that’s lots of us! Contact me to learn more. I will be posting more on this topic in future blog posts.