Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweet Potato and Avocado Salad - Nourish

Nourish is a fabulous restaurant in Scottsdale that caters to people with food allergies - and taste buds! Their menu features a variety of different delicious options, and no matter your allergy or intolerance, be it common (gluten, soy, dairy, nuts, corn) or more unusual (garlic, lettuce), the chefs at Nourish can accommodate your needs and give you something that's healthy, satisfying, and tasty. It's also a great place to go if you just want a menu full of healthy options. Most of their food is locally grown or organic, and they even have a store at the restaurant where you can buy the ingredients they commonly use. Nourish is located just north of Fashion Square Mall on Scottsdale Road and Highland in the Optima CamelView complex.

I first had Nourish's Sweet Potato Avocado Salad a few years ago when visiting their restaurant for the first time. I had never thought to combine these two super foods, but with the dressing it's absolutely divine. To my delight, Nourish has recently released a cookbook, Freak at the Table, that features plenty of the restaurant's best recipes, including my beloved salad. I have already made it twice in two weeks and can barely keep it at the house because my husband likes it so much.

Tonight's Oscar-watching menu:
Crockpot Great Northern Bean Soup garnished with shaved raw organic cheddar cheese
Mixed greens topped with Sweet Potato Avocado Salad (see below)
Homemade Gluten-free Bread (using Pamela's bread mix) with Organic Pasture Butter
Healthy Fudge

Sweet Potato and Avocado Salad
Adapted from Freak at the Table


4 cups roasted sweet potatoes, chilled*
2 avocados, peeled, cored cut into 1/2 inch squares**
6 T Asian Vinaigrette
1 cup spring mix

*Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" dice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. peppercorn blend, ground

**Asian Vinaigrette
(Makes 46 ounces - divide by 4 or 5 to make for this recipe; otherwise use leftovers for salad!)
1 cup coconut aminos acid (buy at Whole Foods - like soy sauce but soy-free!)
1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
1 cup lime juice
2 T ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 T garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 cups EVOO


Cut the sweet potatoes and place in a bowl. Cover with oil and spices; toss to coat.

Spread on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. When done, let cool and store in an airtight container.

To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender (I just mixed them in a bowl). Drizzle the oil in the blender to emulsify the dressing. When done, remove from the blender and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Place the potatoes, avocado and Asian vinaigrette in a large bowl. Toss gently to coat the veggies. Serve atop spring mix, or just eat directly from the bowl! This is also delicious topped with chicken or beans for added protein or mixed within a kale salad for more nutrient punch.

Note: the dressing is also great with freshly squeezed orange juice to sub some of the lime.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dairy-free, Gluten-free Stuffed Mushrooms

My mouth was absolutely watering reading this post from Clean Green Simple. Check out how beautiful these dairy-free, gluten-free stuffed mushrooms look! They were really simple to prepare and made for not only a delicious dinner side dish but also a crave-able lunch addition. Walnuts are a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and mushrooms have been studied for their immune-enhancing effects. Most stuffed mushrooms have cheese and bread; this version is hearty and satisfying while also accommodating dairy or gluten intolerance. There are also some great ways to make raw stuffed mushrooms - check out this recipe from Happy Foody - but I wanted mine warm.


6 mini portobellos (or 20 smaller crimini/baby bella mushrooms)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bell pepper (1/2 will be used for garnish)
1 1/2 cup raw spinach
1/2 cup raw walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt


Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except mushrooms and vinegar and process until smooth.

Wash the mushrooms and carefully remove the stems, creating a pocket.

Evenly divide the filling between the mushrooms and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. I doubled the recipe and used a few larger portobellos in addition to the 6 minis, but I still had extra filling that was delicious for dipping cucumber slices and carrots!

Place the stuffed mushrooms on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened.

Remove from the oven and carefully remove from the pan onto a serving dish. Top with bell peppers (optional).

I served this with baked cod, roasted veggies topped with goat cheese, and a warm lentil/garlic salad.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raw Chipotle Kale Chips

Have you guys seen these delicious Alive and Radiant kale chips at Whole Foods?

I love them and buy 1-2 bags per week. My favorite flavors are Cheezy Chipotle and Ranch, but I really have loved all other flavors (including Tarragon Dijon and Quite Cheesy) - just stay away from the Orange Creamsicle! They're a great way to get a satisfying, snack-y crunch without the processed corn, wheat, and oils found in most chips. Unfortunately, however, they contain about 2 servings for their hefty $5 price tag. I was determined to make my own.

I came across a recipe using the same ingredients on this blog, "Be Well with Sue," and adapted the recipe slightly. However, if you do a web search you can find many variations of raw kale chips - you can even do (brace yourself) a chocolate flavor! (Seriously, it's actually delicious! I promise!)

Here's what I made to create these delicious little treasurers. They are incredibly addictive and snack-able, plus they're a great way to get kale, an amazing super food, into your diet. Kale is chock full of over 45 identified flavonoids and has potential as a cancer-preventive, heart-protective, and detoxifying super-food. Plus, the cashews in this recipe offer a dose of healthy fat and protein, and the nutritional yeast (see below) offers complete protein and B vitamins. I dropped a few of these chips the floor and realized that my pups like them too. If my vegetable-averse dogs will eat them, I'm pretty sure your pickiest eater will too!

This recipe uses a dehydrator to keep the kale chips "raw" (a.k.a. below 118 degrees F). Raw foods generally have more intact enzymes than cooked foods. While I actually think there are benefits to cooking foods, I try to eat at least 50-60% (or more) raw. Instead of using a dehydrator, which can put you out a few hundred bucks, you can bake these in the oven. Check out this post from my beautiful friend Maya for more information! However, owning a dehydrator has been really fun for making other things like fruit leathers, banana chips, and turkey or beef jerky.

Raw Chipotle Kale Chips

2 bunches kale (I used 1 pre-washed bag and 1 bunch)
2 cups raw cashews
1/2 red bell pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
6 T. nutritional yeast*
2 tsp. chipotle powder (find in the Hispanic foods section)
1 1/4 cups pure water

* Nutritional yeast is not brewers yeast - it's a deactivated yeast with texture similar to cornmeal that is often used by vegans as a good source of B vitamins and as a complete protein. (Complete proteins have all essential amino acids - this is hard to get for those who don't eat animal proteins.) It gives a "cheesy" feel in this recipe. Find it in the supplements section of most health food stores.


Assemble ingredients:

Soak the cashews for 2 hours by submerging them in water. This makes them must softer and easier to blend, plus they're easier on your digestion. Just put them in a bowl, cover with water, and sit them on the counter for a while. Maybe you can go take a Karve class while you wait? :)

Discard the water.

Blend all ingredients except kale in a blender or food processor to make the "cheesy" sauce.

Wash the kale and remove the large center stem.

Tear into bite-sized pieces. I actually wish I would have made bigger pieces than I did, so experiment with different sizes.

Pour the sauce on the kale and mix well. Use your hands to massage the sauce into the kale.

Spread the kale onto dehydrator sheets. I used 4 sheets for this recipe.

Dehydrate for 8-12 hours at 120 degrees. I did this overnight, and my house smelled yummy when I woke up! Kale chips for breakfast anyone?

Enjoy! I know I REALLY did :)


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Juice FEAST!

A friend of mine challenged me to a 3-day juice cleanse, and I took her up on the offer! I figured it would be a great way to reset my system and cleanse my palate, as well as calm down some recent digestive issues. I've done the 3-week Clean Program in the past, and while this is much shorter, it involved drinking only fresh pressed vegetable and fruit juices. There are a few juice delivery services that ship via FedEx, but after hearing about the "juice lady" on the JohnJay and Rich morning radio show, I knew I needed to get in touch with Malynda Twitchell.

Malynda lives in the Phoenix area and juices all organic, raw produce in her super juicer every afternoon. She delivers these juice blends in glass mason jars tucked away in big white boxes. For people who choose to do only juice and no solid food, Malynda provides 4 4-quart jars - that's a gallon of juice daily! She offers different options for people who want to juice until dinner as well. For those of you who are wondering, Malynda charges $100 per day including delivery. This is pretty comparable to the Fed-ex delivered juice cleanses I found online, but I like working with Malynda because it's more fresh and local. When you think of the time and effort required to create a gallon of fresh juice per day from only organic produce, paying a pro is worth it. Malynda's working on a branding her juice under the name Akeso (meaning "healing goddess"); in the interim, contact her at

I believe that intermittent raw vegetable juicing can be a great way to give the digestive tract and vital organs a "break" while infusing the body with critical nutrients. While drinking only raw veggie juices long term does not provide enough protein/fat and certain nutrients, it can have wonderful therapeutic effects in the short-term. In fact, many practitioners have seen some remarkable results with juicing.
However, I still believe that most people need some animal protein and fat in their diets, based on the research I have done and the experience of clients I have treated. If you want more information about the importance of animal proteins and fats, check out this great article by Dr. Ben Kim and this by Chet Day on Kim's website.

Juicing can also be a great way to add nutrients to your diet every day, even if you are eating a normal diet. You can purchase a juicer to juice at home, or you can buy juices through places like Whole Foods or other specialty stores. Make sure that if you make your own juice or choose your own flavor combination that you want your juice to be predominantly green veggie-based. You can add sweeter veggies and fruits such as beet, carrot, apple, or pear for flavor, but you will achieve maximum benefits when your juices are made up of mostly greens. If you have any questions about this, please contact me directly at

Caveat: if you have disordered eating or are a chronic dieter, I would not recommend this program. Those who regularly restrict certain foods or food groups for the purpose of weight loss may find that this type of regimen leads to food obsession, and potentially binging.

Below I have described my personal experience with this 3-day juice "feast."

Day 1

I woke up at 5:30 am to take my dogs on a walk. I was hungry when I awoke, so instead of grabbing a few teaspoons of almond butter or half a banana, I drank 16 oz of purified water with squeezed lemon.

Malynda dropped off the juice around 8:15 am to my office. The colors were beautiful! Juice flavors included 2 quarts of cucumber, celery, parsley and apple; 1 quart of carrot, beet and parsley; and 1 quart of jicama, carrot, apple and celery.

At first, I was pretty hungry, and while the juice tasted good, it didn't settle all that well. I didn't find myself craving it, and it made me feel cold. As the day went on, I was somewhat tired and lightheaded, but I continued to drink the juice and lots of water and ginger tea. My digestion was dramatically improved by lunch time. Surprisingly, I even had the energy to take a Karve class and go through Karve teacher training afterwards! I didn't enjoy the orange flavor because it was actually too sweet for me, but the beet juice and the green juice were delicious.

The most bothersome part of day 1 was having to use the bathroom every 45 minutes to pee! I was diuresing a lot of water. In fact, I shed over 4 pounds of water weight the first day. This is not why I did this cleanse, but it was interesting to see how much water my body was storing.

Nice Yogi Tea message of the day:

Day 2

I woke up pretty hungry and drank another big glass of pure water with lemon before my AM walk. Malynda dropped off two days' worth of juice, and since I didn't like the jicama carrot concoction, she actually swapped out a green juice for one of radio host Johnjay's jars.

Today was much easier; the juice seemed a lot more satisfying. I had 3 Vital Juice flavors (celery, cucumber, zucchini, apple, spinach) and 1 Satin Skin (carrot, apple, ginger). The Satin Skin was by far my favorite - the combo of carrot and apple sweetness with the bite of ginger was amazing!

I also had 2 Kombuchas (Trilogy flavor) and 1 raw coconut water, plus plenty of ginger tea and pure water. I did experience some GI discomfort in the afternoon, but that seemed to pass within an hour. I went to see my amazing acupuncturist Joshuah for an extremely relaxing session. He placed needles in "detox points"; they were certainly sensitive!

Day 3

My last day started out with a considerable amount of hunger on my morning walk. I realized that I should have listened more to my body and replenish some electrolytes (while improving my blood sugar) with some coconut water pre-walk; here's to knowing that for the future!

By the way, I have this in my office (thanks HN) and feel that it's a wonderful daily reminder of being proactive and making changes.
Because we switched out some of the sweeter juices with JohnJay, I had 3 Vital Juices and 1 Liver Mover today. I saved the liver mover for the afternoon, right before my Karve class and subsequent teacher training, for a little boost of energy. I was surprised at how much I loved each juice and how refreshing and good it tasted. I was craving it! I also felt very light - not bogged down by digesting something difficult.

Here's the Vital Juice:

And the Liver Mover:

I also had 2 kombuchas and 1 raw coconut water, plus tons of herbal tea and pure water. I found that the kombucha and coconut water really helped level out my blood sugar. All in all, I felt great today. I was actually very OK with drinking the juice, and although I was hungry at the beginning of the day, my hunger stabilized later on and I felt relatively satisfied.

Post Juice Feast

My friends and coworkers thought I would go crazy the first day after the cleanse and hit the cupcake store or burger stand big-time. However, I really wanted to ease my way back into eating the whole foods again and not let the last 3 days go to waste; after all, it was challenging and expensive! Thus, I loosely followed the principles outlined by Dr. Kim, although I did have a few beans with lunch and raw soaked cashews in the afternoon. Basically, the idea is that coming out of a juice fast you want to eat predominantly organic veggies and fruits, as well as some avocado, and continue to avoid animal products, alcohol, caffeine, sugars, soy, etc. Here's what I chose:

Breakfast -

1/2 avocado mixed with freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice (~ 1 T each) on top of microgreens and 1/2 Asian pear. (My intent was to have the whole pear, but I was satisfied after 1/2 half.)

It might not seem like it, but this was a very satisfying first meal post-cleanse! Normally I'd eat a bit of protein with breakfast, but for now this definitely hit the spot.

Ginger tea of the day; pretty apropos, no?

Snack -

I was hungry about 3 hours later and had the remaining half of my Asian pear topped with cinnamon. It literally tasted like candy.

Lunch -

Lunch was fun. The options were limitless at my local Whole Foods! I stopped by the juice bar to get what looks not so great but tasted delicious! Celery, cucumber, carrots, kale and ginger:

I chose a vegetarian squash soup and a big veggie salad with about 1/4 cup of kidney beans, topped with 1/3 avocado and some Bragg's olive oil based dressing:

The flavors were amazing! It's like my taste buds were going nuts. I've noticed after the 3 cleanses that I have done that they really change my taste preferences.

The soup was nice and warm, but with just a cup of it and 12 ounces of juice I definitely could not finish the salad:

This was my afternoon snack. I was looking forward to it for a few days; I had missed my Kale Krunch! (Stay week I'll show you how to make your own at home!)

Dinner -

Leftovers! I had the rest of my veggie salad atop microgreens with additional avocado sliced on top and a dollop of olive oil-based hummus. It was so good, and I only could finish half of it.

Looks yummy, no?

What I learned:

1. Sometimes I just need more water when that stomach rumbling hits. The body often sends thirst signals as hunger. (I knew this, but I didn't apply it to myself apparently.)

2. I actually love juice now! I was somewhat averse to it before doing this cleanse, but now I adore it! I can't wait to make my own at home.

3. My favorite juice addition - by far - is ginger. I don't think I ever considered using it before, but it's delicious! Plus, it adds so many wonderful healing properties to the juice, and it's great for digestion.

4. I need to add even more veggies into my day. I already eat a lot of them, but this experience made me realize that I can be doing even better. It just made me feel so good and was tolerated so well on my system.

5. I actually like coconut water! Well, the raw kind at least... I used to think that coconut water tasted like feet, but for some reason it sat well with me during this experience.

A few things you should know:

1. This is not easy - at least at first. A lot of people can't handle the decreased blood sugar, cravings, and detox symptoms. There are certainly other ways to clean up your diet and rest your digestive system. Just get in touch with yours truly.

2. Your digestion - and bathroom habits - will change, but it's very individual. I would not do this if I had to be stuck in a room for hours on end, because I think I peed about every 45 minutes. If you want to know more about other habits, just ask; people have been surprisingly curious, I just don't want to post it for the world to see.

3. As I have said above, I would not recommend this to someone who is doing it primarily for weight loss or as a diet. That's not what it's for. Yes, you will likely lose weight, but again, a lot of it is water weight. Plus, if you have a strained food relationship, this could make you focus on food even more.

4. You might have more energy than you thought. I worked out all three days, and on days 1 and 3 I worked out for 2 hours. Now, these were not extremely cardio heavy workouts; nevertheless, I was surprised I could do it with relative ease. The only thing that changed was that I couldn't do many full push-ups in Karve.

5. If you are interested in more information, let me know. I always like to hear when people try something new that benefits their health and has the potential to change their habits going forward. Feel free to leave comments below!

Good luck!