Food Friday – When I feel like …

Sometimes, hopefully like most people out there, I will every once in a while fall off the wagon.  These little tumbles from my healthy meals and workout regiment can be as tiny as a string of meals or it can be a no holds bar like during the holidays.
Whether it is a small tumble or a full on massacre of my healthy living lifestyle I do my best to approach the situation as a learning experience and then I get right back to cleaning myself back up.

One of my favorite ways to get my body back on track (it also helps my mind) is the introduction of a nice healthy serving of lemon.  I just peel those bad boys up and chow down. Oh goodness no I definitely don’t do that, that would be so intense. Instead of hunkering down and punishing myself by forcing a lemon down my throat I simply start adding it to my meals and water.

20140209-192809.jpgLemon is a pretty amazing thing, we often use it with our fish, in our dressings and beverages but besides it tasting good what is it good for?  Some of these items may surprise you but hopefully some of them will seem like old news to you. Either way here is a quick run down of why lemons are my go to when I feel like my system needs a little help detoxing.

1. Vitamin C my friends.  Sure they aren’t as sink your teeth in delicious as an orange but just as good a source of the cold fighting vitamin.  Vitamin C is better for more than just fending off the common cold, it is also essential to healthy skin growth.

2. It has alkaline nature helps to kill some bacterias which will help you balance your system out.  You can do this topically or drinking a cup of warm lemon water in the morning can help too.

3. It’s oils and scent are said to be calming. Lemon scent is believed to help relieve anxiety and stress, while also helping to promote concentration.

4. Lemons have antibacterial and antiviral properties.  Mixing a little water with some fresh lemon juice is a great natural way of trying to get rid of pesky canker sores…however this will sting like the dickens.

5. FIBER! All of us humans are supposed to get about 20-38 grams of fiber daily and even with it being in most of the foods we eat most of us end up falling a little short of our daily target.   Although not the most fibrous fruit out there a medium sized fresh lemon would contain approximately 2.4grams of dietary fiber.

Number 2 is really what I am going for when I am tossing it into my water or starting my morning off with a warm cup of lemon water.  I find it really helps to jump start things and get my insides back to normal a bit quicker.

What is your go to after too many treats to get you back on track with your goals and your healthy lifestyle?

Happy food Friday everyone!

Food Time Friday – Kale

So I have experimented with kale in the past and I have never really been able to get it right. So I ended up reserving it for cooked casseroles and some of our juice cocktails.  But I had all but given up on making delicious salads with it.  I could never seem to quiet get the leaves to be as soft as I had read they could be or as delicious as my sister had made them this past summer, so I just gave up.

Last weekend however I had a girlfriend over who had a particular set of food restrictions for the weekend (she was cleansing) so I figured that I would test it out again and see if I could get it right this time.  Being successful in my attempt to make a kale salad I decided to give it another go and add some quinoa.  As it turns out the secret is to be a little unforgiving with the leaves and to give them some time to absorb the beating you have just given them.

So for any of you out there that have faced the same failures in your attempts to make delicious kale salads, don’t lose hope it is possible!

Kale and Quinoa Salad:

1 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
1 Bunch of Kale
1 Lemon juiced
3 tsp Olive Oil
1 Red Pepper diced
1/2 Cucumber diced
3 Green Onions diced
4 Radishes, thinly sliced

1. Rinse quinoa using a colander, try and get off as much starch out as possible.  It also helps to soak it a bit so that it cooks more evenly and comes out less gritty.  Once quinoa is rinse place in a small sauce pan with vegetable broth (I use organic low sodium broth because it is gluten free and less salt is great for the heart).   Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to allow quinoa to simmer, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.   Quinoa should take about 15 minutes, you will know it is done when all the liquid has been absorbed.   Remove from stove and allow to cool completely.

Quinoa Collage

2. In a non-reactive bowl (glass is great) add cleaned kale.  I use a salad spinner to soak and dry off the torn up kale and it works great.  Once the kale is in the bowl add juice from 1 lemon and really message the leaves.  They will turn from a pale green colour to a bright green as some of the tough fibers start to break down.

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3. Add pepper, cucumber, onion and radishes to the kale and mix in, being sure that all the vegetables are coated in the lemon juice.  Once all the vegetables are mixed in add oil and work it in with your hands. Working in the oil with your hands gives you another chance to massage the kale leaves, further tenderizing them.

4. Once the quinoa is completely cooled add it to the salad and mix.  Add salt and pepper to your liking and serve.

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Know that I know the secret of making a tasty kale salad you have better believe it will become a staple. Especially with the farmer’s market just around the corner!  Oh how I have missed the farmer’s market, I just can’t wait to see all the vendors again, and to have a fridge full of local, organic products!

Happy Friday everyone! 

Note: I have updated the Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner pages so if you are short of some ideas for meals this weekend check them out. 

Lemony Chicken and Quinoa

Last night I was on my own for supper and when that happens I normally end up treating myself to something my husband isn’t particularly fond of; like anything with rice, quinoa, beans or lots of veggies. Last night was no exception, I broke out the quinoa and got pretty excited that it would be on my plate for supper.

I have made several variations of this chicken marinade but yesterday I am so happy I measured everything out because it turned out so delicious!

Lemony Chicken and Quinoa

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Serves 2

Chicken:
2 chicken breasts diced
1 lemon juiced
1 shallot diced finely
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Italiano seasoning
Dash of cayenne pepper (more or less to your liking)
2 cups broccoli chopped

Quinoa:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup organic broth

1. Place diced chicken in a Ziplock bag. Mix oil, lemon juice,shallot herbs, and cayenne pepper together.

2. Once blended added to the bag of chicken. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. You can let it sit over night if you plan ahead.

3. Which the chicken is marinating rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place rinsed quinoa in a small sauce pan with the broth (I used vegetable). Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking until all liquid has evaporated. Fluff with a fork and turn off heat. Cover and let sit until the chicken is finished.

3. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat. Once heated place chicken and chopped broccoli. Cover for approximately 3 minutes to allow the broccoli to begin turning a bright green. Remove lid and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside.

4. Place quinoa on a plate an top with chicken. Serve and enjoy.

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Juicin’ It

Okay I have mentioned a couple of times now that I have recently fallen in love with a juicer. Now I am not going to lie my first couple attempts to wing it on my own and just throw in some fruits and veggies lousily based on recipes has been absolutely revolting.
Untitled Revolting may be a strong word to use, but I am going to stick with it. Luckily we were saving the plup from the juicing process so not everything was lost. So here are some of the things I have learnt before I leave you with a delicious recipe.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. WASH YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES! it is important to wash them off. Even if you are using organic products it is best that you wash your fruits and veggies to make sure they are as clean and chemical free as possible.
  2. Follow a recipe. Much like everything else, once you get the hang of it, and understand the different flavours I am sure you won’t need to follow a recipe exactly, but until that happens, and if you are new to juicing I strongly recommend it.
  3. Use ginger sparingly. Even if the recipe calls for say a two inch chunk of ginger I recommend putting it in a bit at a time and tasting it as you go. Ginger is great for your body and your metabolism but too much ginger is really hard to drink down.
  4. Unless you LOVE celery (why by the way I thought I did) I would not put it into a juice until you become a veteran juicer. The flavour is way over powering!
  5. Put loads of leafy greens in the mix, you can barely taste them and they add so much in the way of nutrients and health promoting wonderful to your drink.
  6. Your juice is never going to look like those V8 Splash drinks. How they make their veggie and fruit combos anything but brown or dark green is something I would prefer not to think about, having been someone that used to drink them. Be prepared to drink something that isn’t a brightly coloured fruit beverage.
  7. Experiment with peels on and off. Not all recipes tell you to peel lemons and oranges, seeing how the peel can be bitter, and seeing I am new to this I have been taking them off, but I will eventually attempt it with the peel on. Who knows it might be delicious.
  8. Save the pulp for things like veggie broth, veggie burgers, meat loaf, turkey burgers, carrot bread/muffins, zucchini muffins, and various other baking and cooking goods.
  9. Lastly, it really doesn’t take a load of veggies and fruit to make 800ml of juice, until you get the hang of how much it takes to make some juice, follow a recipe.

So since I have started juicing we have tried a couple different combinations, and I am always surprised at how much you can actually taste each fruit and/or veggie that has been put into the mix, but I am also often surprised at how delicious it is when you get it right.
UntitledHere is how the juicing process looks. I will post some pictures later on with pictures of the actual juice all mixed up, it isn’t appetizing to look at but delicious to consume. So basically assume as gross as it looks it tastes about 100 times better.

Now for a recipe that really worked out nicely.

Pineapple Surprise:

1/2 pineapple (cleaned)
1 green apple
6 strawberries (fresh)
2 cups of spinach
6 stalks of Kale
1/2 lemon (peeled)

This makes about 800ml. It shouldn’t be kept in the fridge for more than a day or over night.

Happy Wednesday! I think Wednesday is my favourit day of the week. It marks your halfway point, and having lunch time yoga really pushes it over the edge as a great day! Anyone else feel the same?

 

Water Infused

With the heat turning up, and summer just around the bend, I figured a little post about water would be a good idea. I am personally a HUGE fan of water and drinking loads of it, about 2 liters a day actually. I would actually have to say it is my favorite beverage, I am really not a flavored beverage type of gal, and I think things like milk and juice are disgusting really. But anyways I digress.

Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do, besides hitting snooze, is chugging back a glass of water. Before brushing my teeth, and before stepping in the shower I drink an 8oz glass of water on an empty stomach.

Sometimes if I am feeling extremely organized I will make some lemon water the night before so I have it easily accessible for my morning drink, or if I am extremely motivated in the morning I will sometimes go down to the kitchen and make myself a warm glass of lemon water. But really most of the time it is a plain old glass of unflavored water.

I have always had a glass of water beside my bed for drinking when I wake up in the middle of the night, but about a year ago I became much more diligent when it came to my wake-up 8oz glass of water. I had read that it is supposed to help kick start your body in the morning, help balance out your internal ph, and help cleanse you out, and this is on top of waters amazing capacity to hydrate you and keep you healthy.

I am personally pretty interested in holistic and natural medicines, so hearing all these wonderful things about water makes me happy, and keeps me motivated to keep chugging (by chugging I really mean sipping throughout the day) it back.

Since getting serious about drinking water in the mornings I have noticed a few things:

  1. I tend to wake up faster, requiring much less caffeine.
  2. My skin isn’t as dry (this could also be attributed to the increase to 2 liters of water per day), but one way or another I rarely use moisturizer anymore and before it was a daily regiment.
  3. Things keep on movin’ on my insides. Gross I know but it is important for a healthy body.
  4. I feel way more energized.

The other day I had a great idea of making up a batch of infused water, seeing it is sometimes fun in the summer months to have a refreshing glass of water with a hint of something, such as mint, lemon, cucumber, or anything else you can think of. When making infused water I use my Bodum ice tea infuser because it has an additional compartment so the flavour elements are just floating around, and they are easy to remove when I am done with them.
ice tea (Source)

Lemon and Mint Infused Water:

1 lemon sliced
5 sprigs of mint leaves
water

Slice up lemon and place in water jug. Wash mint leaves pat dry and add into jug with lemon. Fill to top with water.

You can either leave the jug of water on the counter over night and then remove the lemon and mint, or place in the fridge. Lemon and mint will stay fresh for 2 days in the fridge, after that you will need to remove it, but by then the water will already taste very much like lemon and mint.

Here is what mine ends up looking like
infused waterNot quiet as pretty as the photo taken by Bodum, but probably more delicious.
Some fun resources with a bit more info:

Drink Water First Thing
5 Reasons to Drink Lemon Water
Lemon Water benefits
Natural Cleanser

Delicious Food to Warm the Belly

First order of business I have finally gotten around to putting some links on the Eats page, so hopefully that will make food searching easier for all.

This morning I went on my first swim of challenge #2, and I forgot how amazing swimming was.  The smell of the salt water pool, the humidity hugging you with it’s warm arms before you jump in the cool but warm pool, oh it was so glorious. Despite me being totally upstaged and outperformed by a woman in her 50s it was awesome and I got a nice sweat on…one other thing I forgot happened while swimming.

This mornings swim looked a little like this:swim

The whole thing took me about 30minutes, with quiet a few breaks in the middle, but it felt awesome, it was definitely encouraging to get my butt back in the pool. And now with the maiden voyage complete I won’t be so shy to jump in the pool next time.

Now for something a little bit more delicious than recounting the amazing adventures of my inaugural swim, a delicious recipe.

Salmon Dill Risotto

I love risotto, it is one of my go to’s for comfort food, but my stomach has issue with too much cooked dairy, now yes this recipe does have some cheese in it but more often than not I totally eliminate the butter and cheese in the recipe and it always turns out just as delicious as regular risotto would be with less fat and less belly pains.

risotto
Serves 6 – Calories 515.7 – Fat 18.0g – Saturated Fat 5.3g –
Sodium 664.5mg (this might be off as I use homemade broth) – Carbs 27.7g – Fiber 1.5g – Sugar 0.1g

Ingredients:

1.5 cups Arborio Rice
2 tsp olive oil
3 shallots diced
1 medium Bell Pepper chopped
1.5 cups chopped fresh Spinach
1 cup chopped light Feta Cheese
3 Salmon Fillets
4 cups homemade chicken broth (or no salt broth)
0.5 cups dry white wine *
3 tbsp dried dill (or less if you aren’t a huge dill fan)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pepper to taste

Directions:

Coat the salmon fillet with about 1/2 tbsp of dried dill and pepper, cook in a large frying pan – has to be big enough to make the risotto in afterwards.  I don’t use oil because I find the fish is oily enough, but if you would like you can spray the pan with some olive oil or cooking spray.  Once salmon is cooked through break it apart and set aside.

Heat the 2tsp of oil in the same frying pan used for the fish.  Use the oil to pick up all the brown bits of fish left in the pan.  Add shallots and cook until no longer raw, about 3 minutes. Once shallots are cooked add 1.5 cups of Arborio Rice, mix coating rice in oil and cooked shallots, stir around for about 1 minute.  Once rice has been mixed in to oil and shallot mixture add 1/2 cup of wine, stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Then add 1/2 cup of broth, stir until absorbed.  Continue this method until you are out of broth.  This should take about 20-25minutes.

When adding the last 1/2cup of broth also stir in the left over dill, bell pepper and spinach, mix until broth is absorbed, by the time the broth is all gone the spinach and pepper should also be cooked, now add in spinach and salmon.   Stir until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Then serve and enjoy.

* you can omit the wine by adding in additional broth.