minerals

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon Pepper Dressing

Can you feel it? The air is getting slightly cooler, and there are already leaves on the bike path. Even though I love scarves and everything pumpkin, I'm not quite ready to let go of summer. Please Colorado, give me just two more weeks of warm hiking weather and fresh local produce. One of my favorite summer snacks this year has been fresh figs. I love the subtle sweet taste and slight crunch of the seeds.  My latest discovery is how delicious they taste in a fresh salad with goat cheese. After having takeout pizza for lunch yesterday, I was hankering for something more nutritious. So, I whipped up this Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon Pepper Dressing.

Not only are figs lovely on the taste buds, but also highly nutritious. 

  • Figs are rich in alkalinizing minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. 
  • Because of their high fiber and mineral content, figs are an excellent blood sugar balancer. Balancing blood sugar is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and balanced moods. 
  • 100 grams of figs contains about 3.3 g of protein (Murray, 2005.
  • The high potassium content in figs makes them an excellent support for healthy blood pressure.
  • They taste amazing with dark chocolate! (source: me.)

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients for salad: 

  • 2 cups dark leafy greens (I used a blend of baby spinach and baby kale)
  • 5 Figs, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup cucumbers

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/4 cup flaxseed oil or olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Blend the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. It should be a bright yellow color.
  • Mix all the other ingredients and drizzle the dressing on top.

Notes

Even though flax oil offers some fantastic health benefits, not everyone enjoys its slightly bitter taste. Don't be afraid to sub olive oil or go half and half with the oils. IMPORTANT** If you choose to use flax oil, make sure it doesn't heat up in the food processor. Flax is a pretty unstable oil and doesn't do well with heat. Pulse the dressing lightly until blended, and store the extra in the fridge for up to a week.

I highly recommend adding some protein into your salad, such as grilled chicken or garbanzo beans! I happened to have it for breakfast today, hence the side of eggs!

Enjoy these last bits of summer!

Sources:

Michael T.Murray - Joseph E.Pizzorno - Lara Pizzorno - Atria Books - 2005

Superfood Energy Bites (Raw, Vegan, Paleo)

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I am very excited to be teaming up with Prana (Cherry Creek location) this summer to do various nutrition and fitness workshops. The first one is happening this weekend, and in preparation I was on the hunt for a delicious finger food to share.

You know how sometimes you need just a little something...something sweet, but salty, gooey and crunchy, and...chocolaty? And of course healthy, too. Well, these energy bites should satisfy on all accounts. 

This one was inspired by a recent post from one of my favorite food blogs, Detoxinista. These delicious little morsels are full of minerals, antioxidants, protein, omega 3's, and fiber. Not to mention naturally sweetened by only dates and cranberries. I made two variations as an experiment and both turned out great. (I don't know how it happened, but the Berries N' Chia kind of tastes like bubble gum, and I am not complaining.)

Btw, I've been trying out some different superfood powders. So far these are my two faves and are a key ingredient for the energy bites. 

Chocolate Walnut Energy Bites

Makes about 25-30 small chunks

Time: about 20 minutes

You'll Need:

  • 1 Cup pitted dates
  • 1.5 cups walnuts
  • 2 packets (1/8 Cup) Perfect Food brand Raw Green Super Food (chocolate flavor)
  • 1/8 cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In a food processor, blend the walnuts first for a few seconds. You don't want them too chunky otherwise the mixture won't hold together as well.

Add in the remaining ingredients and process for another 30 seconds or so. Ready? Stuff's about to get messy. Use your hands to roll the "dough" into balls of whatever size you choose.

Keep them as is, or roll them in a layer of cocoa.

Berries N' Chia Energy Bites

Makes about 25-30 small chunks

Prep Time: about 20 minutes

  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 packet Amazing Grass brand "Amazing Meal" superfood mix, pomegranate flavor
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt

This one is just as delicious and even easier to make. Throw all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a whirl .

You can also use a rolling pin to flatten the "dough" out on a piece of parchment paper and cut into bars. Enjoy!

Magnesium: the relaxer

Why Magnesium?

Almost all of our body’s processes require magnesium in some way.  It helps regulate cell membrane function, works with ATP to produce energy, and activates the following:

·      Protein and carb metabolism

·      Enzymes for energy production

·      Enzymes for glucose to glycogen conversion

Magnesium is vital to heart function, especially energy production and muscle contraction. It also aids in kidney health by preventing stones. Mg aids in muscle function and prevents cramping, and can ease symptoms of PMS. Mg is a relaxer as well; aids with sleep!

Signs You May Be Deficient:

  • Insomnia 
  • Muscle cramps  
  • Fatigue      
  • Migraine
  • Irritability  
  • Constipation     
  • Heart arrhythmias

Where do I find Mg??

  • Buckwheat
  • Leafy greens: spinach, collard greens, parsley, dandelion greens
  • Sea veggies (esp kelp)
  • Avocado
  • Beans and legumes
  • Pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts
  • Wheat germ and wheat bran
  • Dried figs, apricots, and dates

Notes on supplementing Mg:

Ideally we want to get all our minerals from diet, but supplementing Mg may be beneficial to those with kidney disease*, PMS, heart problem, or muscle cramps. About 200 mg is a good amount per day, best taken in chelated forms with B6. Look for Mg in citrate, taurate, glycinate, succinate, or malate form. Soaking in a bath with Epson salts is also a great way for the body to absorb this mineral

 *Best form of Mg for those with kidney disease is MgCl  

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Save Your Scraps: Homemade Veggie Broths

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CYMERA_20140330_210042 My favorite part about this recipe is not so much the broth itself, but that it gives me a really good use for all the veggie scraps that would otherwise get tossed. So for the last week and a half I've been saving and freezing all the parts of my vegetables that I don't eat. 

Let's see what we have here....

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Looks like there's some broccoli stems, kale and celery stems, the tops and insides of bell peppers, some chard that was about to go bad, beet green and leaves, onion skins, basil plant stems (leftover from Basil Vinaigrette recipe), jalapeno tops (from Salsa recipe), and some carrot shreds. 

There really is no right or wrong ratio of veggies to water, but for those of you who need some serious structure, here's what I did:

  • About 1 gallon ziploc bag of frozen veggies, packed in
  • 6-8 quarts water
  • Optional Extras: herbs and spices, salt, garlic (I used one clove garlic, about a tsp of sea salt, 2 bay leaves, and a sprinkle of crushed red peppers)CYMERA_20140330_210243

Make sure all your scraps have been WASHED at some point. It's easiest if you just wash all veggies before freezing. Bring everything to a boil in a big pot over the stove. Reduce heat to low and let simmer (covered) for about 2 hours. When broth is done, strain the liquid through a colander into another pot or glass bowl.

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At this point you can continue making some kind of soup with the broth, or store in the fridge for later use. Sipping on veggie broth by itself is a great way to give yourself a big nutritional boost, especially when feeling sick, stressed, or fatigued.  Add a spoonful or two of nutritional yeast in there, and your taste buds and body will celebrate even more!