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Indian Spinach


This dish goes really nicely with the Red Lentil Curry or as a side to any Indian meal. This is similar to the Indian dish Palak or Saag, however, I use coconut milk in place of yogurt or cream, making this a vegan dish.

Spinach is packed full of nutrition – it is loaded with antioxidants, bioflavonoids, B-Vitamins, Vitamins A, C, E, and K, and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is also high in fibre! Here is what WHFoods had to say about Spinach: “We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time”. Awesome!

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Dash cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed well and chopped – OR 1 package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, coconut milk and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit. Then use a blender or food processor or hand-held blender to puree until smooth.

Return the puree to the pot and simmer another 5 minutes.

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I eat lentils about 3 times a week, so it’s only fitting that I post another lentil recipe. When I was in Ireland, I lived on a farm for about a month. The farmer wasn’t the greatest cook, and I ended up doing most of the cooking. He did however have a handful of fantastic recipes he showed me, this being one of them.

Red lentils cook a lot faster than the green or brown varieties, and they are equally as nutritious. Their high fiber content helps to manage blood-sugar levels, and helps to keep you regular! They are packed full of nutrients, protein, and are free of fat. Indeed, one of the most perfect foods (after fruits, veggies and seaweed that is!). The best part is that dried lentils are dirt cheap. This dish goes really nicely with brown basmati rice and a side of Indian Spinach.

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups dried red lentils
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp curry paste (such as Pataks mild curry paste)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

Directions

Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear. Put the lentils in a pot with water and simmer until lentils are tender (about 20 minutes)

While the lentils are cooking, in a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in coconut oil.

While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, cumin, salt, agave, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready.

When the lentils are tender drain them reserving a tiny bit of water. Mix the curry base into the lentils, adding the reserved water as needed if too dry, and serve!

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I really love lemons. They add some fantastic flavor to so many dishes; they can be used as medicine, for healing, for cosmetic purposes, for cleaning, and even as insect repellent! I’ll give as brief a run down as I can on the many uses of this little ball of sunshine.

They were considered by the Romans as an antidote for many poisons and in folk medicine, they have always been a popular remedy for feverish chills and coughs. In modern Italy eating fresh lemons is believed, by many, to combat major epidemic infections.

Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon water regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleanser. It helps to tonify the heart and blood vessels. The intake of lemon water ensures smooth bowel movements thereby eliminating constipation and diarrhea. I love starting the day with a glass of purified room temperature water with half a fresh squeezed lemon added to it. It is the best mini-detox, helping to flush out toxins and give a fresh start to the day!

Lemon is also one of the best liver supports. Most people can use that, since our livers are one of the most overworked organs. A sluggish liver leads to digestive, skin and hormonal disorders.

Lemons are very rich in vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, carotene (pro-vitamin A) and of course Vitamin C. Studies have repeatedly shown Vitamins C’s ability to boost the immune system, that’s why it’s so effective against colds and the flu.

For a sore throat, lemon mixed with warm water makes an excellent gargle.

Used topically, lemon can be effective as a natural antiseptic; the juice of lemon will destroy harmful bacteria found in cuts and other areas of infection. It also effectively relieves insect stings, and can be used to ease sunburn and skin rashes.

I personally love using lemon juice on my face. I squeeze some fresh lemon on a cotton pad, and wipe my face with it. I leave the juice on for a few minutes and then I rinse it off with water. Lemon contains enzymes which help to cleanse the skin of dead cells.

Lemon is also popular in traditional beauty treatments to whiten the skin and teeth, and to encourage freckles to fade.

Lemons are fantastic cleaning agents. They add such a nice, clean, fresh scent, are non-toxic, cheap and actually work really well. Lemon juice can be used on countertops, for bleaching purposes and for disinfecting. It can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Lemon is also a great substance to clean and shine brass and copper.

And finally, rotten lemons can be used to repel ants from the house or garden. Amazing!

My favorite lemon salad dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp agave nectar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients, keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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I just adore Millet. Sadly most people have never even heard of it. Millet is one of the oldest foods known to humans. It is mentioned in the Bible, and was used during those times to make bread. Millet has been used in Africa and India as a staple food for thousands of years and it was grown as early as 2700 BC in China.

Millet is tasty, with a mildly sweet, nut-like flavor and contains a whole range of beneficial nutrients. It is high in protein and fiber, contains B-complex vitamins including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, and it is particularly high in the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.

It is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available and it is a warming grain so will help to heat the body in cold or rainy seasons and climates. My favorite part about millet is that it is the only grain that is not acid-forming (although quinoa and buckwheat are only slightly acid-forming).

To cook millet, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of millet (rinsed first in cold water), cover and reduce to a simmer. It is ready when all the water is absorbed. It is a quick cooking grain, and takes only about 20 minutes to cook. For this recipe, you can easily substitute quinoa for the millet.

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups cooked millet (or quinoa)
  • 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Agave nectar or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • chopped green onion (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine millet with chickpeas, peppers, cranberries and walnuts.

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, agave or honey, salt and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the millet mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with chopped green onion if desired.

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sushi In the last few years I’ve been trying to steer towards a more raw diet. Currently I try to make sure that 50% of what I eat is raw. Raw foods contain high levels of enzymes, which assist in digestive processes as well as contribute to good health in general. By eating raw foods, we reduce the need for the body to produce its own digestive enzymes. This frees up energy that the body can then use to carry out other important work, such as healing, cell repair and rejuvenation, and fighting off foreign invaders. Since these enzymes are destroyed by heat, cooked food is virtually devoid of them. The consumption of a largely cooked diet thus hampers digestive processes in the body, causing the production of excessive amounts of toxic by-products. Excess energy usage, poor digestion and excessive toxin production – these are the reasons why we often feel tired, sluggish, and lethargic after a heavy meal of cooked food, while we would feel light and energetic after having a mostly raw meal. Further, the pancreas is overworked to produce the additional enzymes the body needs, enzymes that could have been obtained from raw foods. This contributes to long-term degenerative conditions.

Fruits, vegetables and plant foods are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting phytochemicals. Heating, however, destroys a fair bit of them. So that’s why I try to make sure at least half of my diet consists of raw foods. There are a ton of raw food recipes online, and some are really interesting and tasty. I am amazed by some of the creations raw chefs come up with. My inspiration for this recipe came from one of my all-time favorite raw restaurants, Live. They serve raw nori rolls as an appetizer and it is so delicious!

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • Raw, untoasted Nori Sheets
  • The “Rice” (Nut or Seed Paté:) 2 cups raw nuts or seeds (can use raw almonds, raw cashews, raw sunflower seeds, or a combination of 2 or 3 of them). Soak in water for at least 4 hours, then rinse
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp Braggs liquid aminos (a raw soy sauce, can use tamari or wheat-free soy sauce as well)
  • dash raw agave nectar (optional)
  • Filling: Any combination of thinly sliced veggies. My personal favorites are avocado, red pepper and carrots. Cucumbers work as well.

Directions:

For the Paté: Place the nuts and/or seeds into a food processor. Process until you have small crumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it forms into a smooth paste-like consistency.

To Assemble: Spread the paté evenly across the bottom third of the nori sheet leaving 1 inch of nori sheet exposed at the bottom. Top with veggie slices. Make sure to lay the sliced vegetables horizontally to make the rolling easier. Fold the bottom of the sheet up and over the ingredients tucking the edge under the ingredients and roll all the way up. Before you get to the end, make sure to moisten the top edge of the nori sheet with a little water and then roll shut. This will keep it from opening up. Then slice into bite sized pieces!

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Black Bean Soup

IMG_0370As it starts to get colder out, there is nothing more comforting than a steaming hot bowl o’soup. I love playing around with ingredients when it comes to soup!  Here I’ve decided to pair black beans with sweet potato and some spices to create a savory dish with a hint of natural sweetness.
You can use either canned black beans (just be sure to read the label and buy a brand that does not contain added chemicals, and drain and rinse the beans very well) or you can use dried black beans. If using the dried variety, make sure to soak it overnight, and discard the water before cooking. Too cook, bring a pot of water to a boil, add the beans, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours or until they are tender.

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons good oil (such as cold pressed coconut oil)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or a 19 oz can)
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon each: chili powder and oregano
  • 4 cups water

Directions:

In a large pot, over medium heat sauté the onion and carrot until onion is translucent, add garlic and sauté another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the water and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender. Puree in a blender or with a hand held blender. Can add more water if consistency is too thick. This soup freezes well.

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pestoHugh and I go to Wychwood Farmers Market every Saturday, where we get all sorts of veggies, fruits, and different interesting food items. One stand there in particular makes incredible vegan sandwiches, using local organic ingredients. They have this delicious homemade sun-dried tomato and hemp pesto that we just can’t get enough of. So Hugh decided to try to replicate this pesto, and I think he did a bang on job!

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious and easily digestible foods on the planet. They are a complete source of protein, and are very high in essential fatty acids. Some benefits of the essential fatty acids found in hemp seeds include: optimum brain function, improving mood, fighting depression, reducing behavioral problems in children, and reversing the irritability of PMS. They help the body’s immune system fight off bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These good fats lower cholesterol and protect the heart. Eating hemp seeds over time heals and moisturizes skin, and reduces inflammation. Hemp seeds are a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. A rich source of B vitamins, they also contain vitamins A, D, and K. High in both soluble and insoluble fiber that bulk stools and improve digestion, hemp seeds are used to treat constipation and hemorrhoids in Asia.

Other benefits of eating hemp seeds include: increased energy levels & metabolic rate, improved organ function, and improved circulation. Hemp seeds can be purchased at most health food stores, usually as Hemp Hearts (shelled hemp seeds).

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes (the ones packed in oil)
  • ½ cup hemp hearts
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it to be!)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons or more extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and ground pepper to taste

Optional: can add olives, basil leaves or roasted red peppers

Directions:

In a blender or using a hand held blender, puree all ingredients until smooth. Keep adding more oil if too dry. Tastes great on sandwiches, or used as a pasta sauce (wonderful on brown rice pasta with a medley of vegetables!). Best if stored in a glass container in the refrigerator.

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