Making the perfectly balanced salad
By: Leanne Ely
I serve a large green salad with almost every meal, and this is the time of year I love most, thanks to all of the gorgeous fresh spring greens and vegetables!
Since I have this salad thing down to a science, I thought I’d share some tips with y’all as to how to make amazing, balanced and beautiful salads for your lunches and dinners.
Now, this might be news to you, but if you love your salads drenched in those bottled dressings, we need to stage an intervention. Go to the fridge, check those labels, and if there are words on there that you don’t use in daily conversation, throw the bottles away. Pouring GMO-laden sauces on your salad doesn’t benefit your body one little bit, and making your own dressings is easy and much more affordable.
So now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the four key components to the perfectly balanced salad, which are: lettuce, vegetables, protein and fat.
Lettuce. I wrote a post a few days ago about spring greens. Your greens are what holds everything together. I don’t care which one you choose, but I tend to use a variety of different greens like spinach, kale, arugula and frisee. Go ahead and experiment, or just eat what you grow in your own garden! There are so many nutrients in salad greens. If you use spinach, you get a bowl full of iron and calcium. Endive is also full of these minerals. Never mind the high amounts of vitamins A and C you’ll be pumping into your body with green stuff. Just remember: Lettuces are always found on the Dirty Dozen list, so buy organic.
Vegetables. At this time of year, you’ll want to put lots of spring veggies in your salads. I love broccoli or radish sprouts and pea shoots on top of a garden salad for all of their great energizing enzymes! I also love to use what’s in season, so this time of year, I tend to use asparagus and radishes in my salads. The lettuce provides you with lots of fiber, but the veggies give you even more! Spring veggies also tend to be loaded with antioxidants. They’ll help fill you up, too. And they add color if you use bright carrots and bell peppers!
Protein. Put some lean protein into your salad, whether it’s chicken breast (preferably organic), a boiled egg (free-range if possible), shrimp or some salmon (wild caught pacific, please). That protein will keep you feeling satisfied. It will also go to work in your body building tissue and muscles. Very important!
Fat. Here’s where I remind you again to not use those bottled dressings. They don’t count. Try a simple drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For even more beneficial fat, try some avocado (sliced or pureed into a sauce) or toss a handful of walnuts or some olives on there.
With that, you have an absolutely perfect salad. But if you want to be a bit more wild and exciting, toss in a few cranberries, some quinoa or chickpeas in there, depending on what you like. Goat cheese is nice for a treat once in awhile, too.
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Making the perfectly balanced salad
Tricks, Tips and a Recipe
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?
Today’s Focus is on CINNAMON
Oh cinnamon. How recognizable is this spice, seriously? I would expect that every kitchen in North America has a tin of cinnamon in the cupboard. But how well do we really know it?
Once upon a time, cinnamon was very, very valuable. In Roman times, you would have paid 15 times more for cinnamon than you would for silver! Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as an embalming agent. In the 17th century, the demand for cinnamon sparked a war between the portuguese and the Dutch over the island of Ceylon where a great deal of cinnamon is grown.
What a sordid past this spice has! But there’s still more to know about cinnamon.
Ground cinnamon comes from cinnamon sticks (also known as quills), which are actually the dried bark from evergreen trees of the genus Cinnamomum.
There are two main types of cinnamon and they are Cassia and Ceylon. Cassia is the variety that we’re most familiar with and it is indigenous to China, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Ceylon cinnamon that sparked that war is native to Sri Lanka and it has a much sweeter taste.
Cinnamon adds a pleasant sweet spice to baked goods, pancakes, stews and other savory dishes. A sprinkle of cinnamon is a must when it comes to homemade applesauce. And a pinch of it on a few raw apple slices makes a wonderful mid-day snack.
There’s not a lot of nutrition in cinnamon itself, but one teaspoon does contain almost a gram and a half of fiber and a bit of iron and calcium. Cinnamon may also reduce blood sugar levels.
And there you have it! Do we all have a little more respect for this pungent brown spice, now?
Well then, it’s time for your Trick!
Put a couple tablespoons of cinnamon in a pot of simmering water on the stove for a wonderful warm and chemical-free way of scenting your home.
And your Tip
Ground cinnamon only has a shelf life of about 6 months. If the scent is not pungent or if the flavor isn’t quite as strong as it should be, use it as an air freshener, buy some more and call it a day! (This would be a good time to replace that cinnamon with an organic variety, by the way!)
And your Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6-oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine OR low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to the skillet and brown on both sides. Add wine (or broth) and water to the skillet and sprinkle the chicken with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Reduce skillet heat, cover and simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken topped with pan sauce.
SERVING SUGGESTION: Baked butternut squash and steamed broccoli spears.
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Book Review for The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
In his book, The Blood Sugar Solution, Dr. Hyman adeptly laid out the reasoning (and the science) behind the “why” of balancing insulin levels to get to your ultimate goal weight and to achieve optimum health. Dr. Hyman believes one of the root causes of chronic disease is poor nutrition, I highly concur.
But it is in this book, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, that there are recipes to make The Blood Sugar Solution a reality!
This cookbook breaks down Dr. Hyman’s plan in detail—where to start (he has you take your blood pressure, take your measurements, weigh and take the Diabesity Quiz. Then it’s off to prepare the kitchen –you’ll need some basic tools, a pantry declutter (fridge too—don’t worry, he’ll give you the 10 Rules for what to keep and what to toss), how to shop, and a basic food list that will help you restock your pantry and fridge with ease.
So how about those recipes? Well take it from me, a bona fide cookbook author (I’ve got 7 cookbooks under my belt!), these babies had me drooling! The recipes are simple, but well seasoned, absolutely delicious and easy to add to your families diet without them knowing you’re trying to put them on a “diet”!
Here’s a recipe from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, enjoy!
Green Goddess Broccoli and Arugula Soup
1 teaspoon ghee
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large head of broccoli, cut into medium florets
1 cup arugula
2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
juice of ½ lemon, or more if needed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the ghee in a medium pot over medium high heat. Once melted, add the onion and garlic and cook until aromatic and soft, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the broccoli and arugula to the pan and stir frequently until the broccoli is bright green and arugula has wilted, 4-5 minutes.
3. Pour in the broth and bring the soup to a boil.
4. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the broccoli is fully cooked, 5-8 minutes.
5. Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and blend on high speed for 1 ½ minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and lemon juice and blender for another 30 seconds. (Or use a handheld immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot). Taste seasoning and adjust with salt, black pepper and lemon juice if needed. The soup should be thick, but still light. If it is too thick, thin it with more coconut milk or water. Any leftover soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Nutritional analysis per serving (1 ¼ cups): calories 104, fat 4g, saturated fat 1 g, cholesterol 0mg, fiber 5 g, protein 13 g, carbohydrates 5 g, sodium 289 mg.
Book Review for The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD
Is Brown Better?
By Leanne Ely, CNC
I remember eating Weber white sandwich bread when I was a kid. I’d come home from school, grab a slice, yank out the middle and squish it into a small, firm white “bread” cube and eat it with relish. I think back now on those times and am completely grossed out. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I grew up on white bread. Later on, my mom switched to a wheatberry bread and I loved it and wasn’t even aware that it was a healthier alternative to the white squishy stuff I was raised on.
I often admonish my listeners of my radio show to choose brown over white–brown rice, whole wheat flour instead of their white counterparts. Brown rice has the bran still intact which lends fiber to the rice. Whole wheat flour same thing, as well as some important B vitamins. But without exception, someone always wants to know about sugar–brown vs. white or which substitute is better?
The answer should be none. We are a nation addicted to sugar in all forms and finding an appropriate substitute is a sticky wicket in my mind…shouldn’t the answer instead be to learn to go without that sweet taste? With diabetes on the rise and the implications of the sugar/inflammation connection, sugar is an enemy of huge proportions.
But all things in moderation, right? I have to tell you how much I hate that saying! Would you say that about eating rat poison or something you were deathly allergic to? Of course not. There are times in life where we need to simply buck up and understand that we need to step away from something that is causing great harm. Yes, sugar can and will do that to you!
Another question I’ve been asked repeatedly is for a good sugar substitute for baking. When I think of baking, all I see are cakes, cookies, muffins/cupcakes, quick breads and pies. Let me ask you…if you’re sitting on any kind of body clutter or are dealing with any health issues, haven’t you baked enough? So again my answer is none; there is no sweet substitute that is safe because sweet isn’t “safe”; it manufactures fat and inflammation in your body. Sure you’re going to make pie for Thanksgiving and birthday cakes for birthdays–enjoy the smallest sliver and call it a day. Reserve any kind of sweet for the rare special occasion and make it a tiny piece or a few bites. If you’re a true “junkie” and can’t take just one bite without a binge, than stay far, far away!
I have even cut out xylitol from my diet as I don’t need to taste sweet anymore by adding anything. (Xylitol is a safe sugar substitute; a sugar alcohol, check out xylitol.org). Sweet translates to fat for me; fat on my body that I don’t need. So messing with xylitol or stevia just isn’t wise for me–I’m done with it all.
You may not adopt my policy on sweet and maybe this post even made you mad! If so, there’s a reason why–I’ve touched a nerve; perhaps you’re addicted to sugar? I invite you to rethink your allegiance and defense of baking, eating sweets and “all things in moderation”. There’s too much at stake with your health!
Are you addicted to sugar? You may need to break free–check out our series of Break Free products including our new Break Free Bootcamp!
Today’s focus is on SHRIMP.
I love me some shrimp! Low in calories, low in fat and big on flavor, shrimp is fabulous on the barby, great in salads and makes a magnificent chowder. These babies are also highly nutritious and easy to prepare.
High in protein, omega three fatty acids and selenium, shrimp can be a great addition to your diet and fun way to change things up a bit!
Here’s today’s TRICK:
Shelling and deveining shrimp isn’t exactly a fun activity. But you can make it quicker and less painless when you follow my easy steps. Start with a small pair of scissors with a good point on the end used just for this task. Slit the shell up the back using the point of the scissor, then snip away till you get to the tail. As you cut into the shell, you will get a little of the meat too, which will expose the vein. Just pull it out with your fingers, then peel away the shell in one easy piece. Voila, peeled, deveined and ready for some cookin’!
Here’s a TIP:
Buy wild caught shrimp as this is the most ecologically sound way to get your shrimp. I also recommend US shrimp over Thai shrimp because of the potent antibiotic used in Thailand is outlawed here in the US. (chlorampheicol)
And your RECIPE:
Shrimp and Bacon Arugula Salad
2 slices center-cut bacon
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 cups arugula leaves
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp; remove from pan, reserving 1 teaspoon of drippings in the pan. Crumble bacon and set aside. Add shrimp to pan drippings and saute for 5 minutes or until done. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a large bowl; add arugula leaves and cherry tomato halves; toss gently. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, oil, and pepper; drizzle over shrimp mixture and toss gently to combine. Place 2 1/4 cups of salad mixture on each of 4 dinner plates; divide crumbled bacon evenly among salads.
NUTRITION per serving: 239 Calories; 7g Fat; 37g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 262mg Cholesterol; 318mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat. Points: 5
TTR - SHRIMP
When you choose to not plan, you choose to live in an unprepared state. Think about what that means for a minute. Being unprepared means chaos, confusion and regret. Living life in a state of perpetual unpreparedness is highly stressful. Why do we do this to ourselves?
In the kitchen and in the food department of life, being unprepared translates to not having the food you need to cook and feed your family and yourself well. Unprepared means unhealthy, expensive and wanting in nutrition. And when you consider that 70% of all disease is lifestyle-induced (by making poor choices in food, drink, not exercising, smoking and being stressed out), it’s astounding that we are surprised when handed a less than healthy diagnosis from our doctors. We have got to take responsibility!!
Here’s the thing, menu planning isn’t sexy and glamorous. However, it’s necessary and one of the easiest ways to get a grip on your health. The simple art of menu planning is too often passed up by “adventure seekers” (the unprepared) living on adrenaline and the thrill of the hunt. You know what I mean, right? Hunting for something to throw together for dinner at the very last minute. Hunting for a fast food place to get your whining children and cranky spouse fed. Hunting for a place to park at the grocery store at rush hour, hoping to score an already cooked rotisserie chicken to feed your family.
This kind of hunting is not feeding your family the way you want to. It’s stressing you out, neglecting your health and not helping you with the body clutter you may be sitting on.
Instead of being hunters, we need to be gatherers. Gatherers always have food because they have a plan. They use menus. They make grocery lists. They gather their groceries, they chop, they cook and they feed. It’s deliberate preparedness that gives them a sense of calm and peace. Yes, preparedness is that powerful and when applied to all things food-related, it will revolutionize your health, your well-being, your finances and that of your family’s as well.
The beginning place is a menu plan for the week. Pull recipes as necessary, make a list for the grocery store and then implement your plan. It’s that simple.
Don’t put this off. There’s too much at stake to be so capricious with your health. Do it today.
Menu Plan for Pete’s Sake!