Layered Salad

Below are suggested ingredients, but this recipe can be made with any vegetables you like – the more colorful the better for you!

Ingredients: 
½ cup fresh spinach leaves, torn into one-inch pieces
½ cup spring mix leaves, torn into one-inch pieces
1 small tomato, chopped
¾ cup chopped salmon OR egg OR chicken breast
½ cup black beans (rinsed and drained) 
¼ cup chopped bell pepper
¼ cup chopped or shredded carrots
½ avocado, cubed
1 handful sliced raw almonds
Tall portable container, i.e. Mason jar (approx. 3-cup capacity)

Dressing: 
2 tsp rice vinegar
Juice of ½ a lemon
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Directions: 
Layer ingredients 1 through 8 into the portable food container, beginning with the first ingredient listed. As you add each layer, gently smooth the food layer with the back of a spoon. Top with sliced almonds and secure with container top. In a separate portable food container or plastic zip bag, mix the dressing ingredients. When you are ready to eat, remove salad lid, sprinkle in dressing, replace lid and gently shake. Eat layer by layer or stir to mix.

Toasted Walnut, Edamame and Blueberry Toss

Ingredients: 
½ cup raw spinach
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups cooked Edamame beans (shelled and cooked) 
1 cup cooked quinoa
Juice of one ½ lemon
1 small clove minced fresh garlic
1 Tbsp dried blueberries (no added sugar)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon dried dill

Directions: 
In a dry skillet, toast the chopped walnuts over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Let walnuts cool then chop and set aside. Cook quinoa and edamame beans according to package directions. Let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, dried dill, and garlic. Mix in cooked edamame beans, cooked brown rice (or quinoa) and stir well, coating ingredients evenly. Mix in dried blueberries and stir gently. Top with toasted walnuts and serve over spinach leaves.

Spicy Chicken Salad (no mayo!)

Ingredients: 
Two skinless chicken breasts, baked or poached and chopped. 
¼ cup chopped red, yellow or orange pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
½ cup fresh chopped baby spinach leaves
1-2 very ripe avocados, cubed
1 clove fresh minced garlic
1 ½ tsp chipotle or chili powder
Pinch of pepper and sea salt

Directions: 
Chop cooled chicken into small, bite-sized pieces and place in large bowl. Add chopped pepper, celery and spinach leaves and minced garlic; mix well with a large fork. Add the cubed avocado; mash the avocado into the chicken and vegetable mixture, stirring and mashing until you have a slightly smooth consistency. Add the chipotle or chili powder, the pepper and sea salt. Mix well. Eat on its own or serve on romaine lettuce leaves or on a paleo tortilla (my favorite brand is Siete, which is available at Whole Foods Market)!

Make Your Own Almond Milk

Making your own Almond Milk is super easy and by doing so, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary ingredients! The store-bought almond milks might contain unhealthy sweeteners or needless thickening agents. If you're like me and short on time, most of the time you will be buying store-bought almond milk. That's okay! We're not aiming for perfection here, just progress!

If you are going the store-bought route, my favorite brand (and incidentally, the cheapest brand) is Whole Foods Market 365. It is one of the cleanest out there and doesn't contain any carrageenan. Carrageenan can cause inflammation, is linked to gastrointestinal distress, and can even cause diabetes when consumed in low doses day after day. Another great (and VERY clean) brand you can try if you're wallet can handle it is MALK. It's delicious! My favorite is the pecan milk from MALK.

So, when making your own almond milk, I recommend using organic almonds if you can, but no worries if you can't - again, progress, not perfection! And once you make it, if you don't drink it daily or if you'd rather make a bigger batch all at once to use over a longer period of time, you can freeze it for future consumption. If you're just storing it in the fridge, I wouldn't recommend letting it sit for more than 2-3 days.

So here we go!

The first step is to plan ahead a bit. It's best to soak the almonds prior to making the almond milk. Most nuts, seeds, grains, beans, lentils, and legumes contain some amount of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. This makes these foods a little difficult for us to digest, but soaking them helps our bodies to process them more efficiently and with less digestive distress.

To soak the almonds, you'll need:

  • 1-2 cups of raw, organic almonds (depending on how much almond milk you want to make)
  • 3-4 cups of warm filtered water (to cover nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt (or Himalayan pink salt)

What to Do:

  • Place the warm water in a medium bowl or jar (half gallon or larger). Add the salt and let dissolve.
  • Add the nuts or seeds, making sure they are completely submerged in the water.
  • Leave uncovered on the counter or other warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours, preferably overnight.

After your almonds are soaked, now they're ready to be "milked"! Yeah, I know, that sounded weird to me too.

To make Plain Unsweetened Almond Milk:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups organic, soaked almonds (if you want to use 2 cups, just double all the ingredients)
  • 4 cups filtered water

What to Do:

  1. Rinse almonds well. Blend almonds with pure water in blender or Blendtec/Vitamix.
  2. Blend several minutes until smooth and creamy. (Note: mixture will expand a bit, so make sure your blender isn't full before starting it)
  3. Strain mixture into a large bowl through a sprout bag, cheese cloth or kitchen towel. (I always skip this step because I don't mind having the almond pulp in there, but this is a personal preference so it's up to you!)
  4. Pour into glass jar and store in fridge for 2-3 days.

After these steps, you have a simple, plain almond milk. If you want it sweetened or with vanilla, cinnamon, strawberries, or other flavors, that's an easy thing to do. Just pour the milk back into the blender and add the desired sweetener in small amounts (I recommend 1 tbsp to start and then taste and add more from there if needed). The sweeteners I recommend are pitted, soaked dates, coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar, or maple syrup. For the flavoring, you can just add 1-2 vanilla beans (or vanilla extract), a few strawberries, some unsweetened cocoa powder, and even a little sea salt to taste. It's all about your preference here so feel free to get creative!

Yummy Garlicky Kale

I went to DC last week and totally indulged - in clean eating and resting my body to the max. I needed a retreat from my everyday work and this was the perfect respite. Good sleep. Good food. Good Heavens, what more could one ask for?!

So while I was there, I went to Whole Foods every single day. They have this one Kale Salad there that I LOVE that they don't have here in Houston for some reason. Doesn't hurt that kale is in season right so it tastes extra fresh! Anyway, I ate that every day and felt so good! My skin looks glowier (that's a word, right?), my hair is shinier and I just feel better overall.

When I got back, I was able to remember the ingredients and create a copycat recipe. Hope y'all enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS

·      1 bunch raw kale, washed, de-stemmed and dried

·      2 Tablespoons tahini

·      2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or water)

·      2 Tablespoons lemon juice

·      2 Tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos (tamari or soy sauce would work too)

·      4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

·      2 teaspoons minced garlic (1 - 2 cloves of garlic)

·      sesame seeds, to taste as garish (optional)

PREPARATION

Tear kale into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Puree all ingredients except kale and sesame seeds in a blender or food processor to blend the dressing. Pour dressing over kale and massage into the kale with your hands until all pieces of kale are coated. Let the salad sit in the fridge for an hour or so to marinate. You can skip this step if you need to eat right away, but allowing some time to marinate will wilt the kale a bit and make it a little more palatable - particularly for those who don’t like raw kale. You can also do this with any other leafy green you like – I’m going to try it with arugula next. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds before serving if so desired.