Everyone needs a drink over the holidays! Enjoy this blueberry kombucha sangria with a little holiday flare from fresh ginger!Read More
Wake up on the right side of the bed with this mood boosting turmeric smoothie with mango, coconut and ginger! Vegan and no refined sugar.
Hello my friends! It's time for another installment of mood boosting food. In case you missed it, last week I shared the first post of my new series, Good Mood Food, where I'll be discussing foods that nourish the body and mind. Last week, we talked about my favorite fermented food, kimchi, and whipped it up into a cold noodle salad. This week, I'm moving on to my favorite spice, turmeric.
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family. It is native to India and frequently used in Indian cuisine, where it is a common ingredient in curry. You can buy it fresh, or dried and ground into a powder, the latter being easier to find. It has an earthy, almost gingery flavor.
Although all herbs and spices have some health benefit, turmeric really leads the way! Most of the health benefits stem from curcumin, the compound in turmeric that gives it a bright yellow hue. It's powerfully anti-inflammatory and has been show to reduce risk of heart attack, diabetes, and cancer and may also be beneficial for arthritis pain.
Most interesting to me is the powerful effect turmeric has on the brain. It was first realized when scientists found significantly lower rates of Alzheimer's disease in India and began to hypothesize dietary components that may be responsible. Subsequent studies found the curcumin in tumeric helps block the formation of the plaques found in brains of Alzheimer's victims.
That's impressive enough, but turmeric works on the brain in other ways as well. It's powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect extends to the brain. It also increases serotonin, the happy hormone, and modulates cortisol, a stress hormone. Another compound in turmeric, turmerone, boosts the regeneration of brain stem cells. It also inhibits monoamine oxidase, a enzyme that is linked to depression if found in high levels.
Although there hasn't been a ton of research looking at depression and turmeric, one impressive study found curcumin was only 2-5% less effective in treating depression than Prozac, without the side effects (i.e. killing your sex drive and keeping you up at night). Now, please do not stop taking an antidepressant and start chugging turmeric supplements! We certainly need more research. But, knowing the safety of turmeric, it's other health benefits along with it's positive effect on the brain, I think it's a smart idea to start incorporating more turmeric into your diet if you're looking to boost your mood.
Of note, because there is little to no regulation of dietary supplements, I recommend cooking with turmeric versus taking supplements (if you do go the supplement route, go for one tested by Consumer Labs). The flavor isn't overpowering, and you'll find you can work it into a lot more things than curry. I mix it into tomato sauce and other creamy pasta sauces, soups, blend fresh turmeric juice, and even hide it in my ultra-creamy, quick vegan yogurt. But if you want to include it on the reg, I suggest whipping it into your morning smoothie.
One last thing - an odd ingredient you'll see on this list is black pepper. Piperine, the substance in pepper that makes it, well, taste like pepper, actually helps you absorb the curcumin in turmeric. It's just a little bit and you hardly taste it, so even if you're a little weirded out, keep in it there!
Turmeric Smoothie with Mango & Coconut
Makes 2 smoothies
If you don't have a chance to freeze the mangos, just throw a few ice cubes in. Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.
- 2 mangos, peeled and chopped, preferably frozen
- 1 orange, peeled
- 1 raw carrot, chopped or shredded if your blender isn't a fancy-schmancy high speed one
- 1/4 cup cashews, soaked at least an hour or overnight
- 1 1/2 cups coconut water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- A couple grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Other turmeric recipes on the blog:
These chipotle roasted carrots with orange are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Serve drizzled with lime juice alongside grilled meat, sandwiched in a fish taco or on a bed of arugula with avocado and pumpkin seeds.
Sweet and spicy is a flavor combination I simply can't get enough of. That's why a put a pinch of cayenne in my hot chocolate, drench my sweet potatoes in spicy sauce, and geek out over Thai food. Probably also why my stomach is rumbling as I type this despite the fact that I just ate lunch.
The sweet in this dish comes from roasted carrots and orange juice. Carrots have a hint of natural sweetness and roasting brings that out. When you add orange juice to the mix it brings it to a whole new level. The roasted ginger and orange carrots on my quinoa and avocado salad taste almost like candy!
The spice comes from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Have you ever cooked with these before? It's found in the Mexican food section in most grocery stores. Chipotles are simply smoked and dried jalapenos and they lend a smoky, spicy and complex flavor to foods. The adobo sauce is made from onions, spices, tomatoes and vinegar. Chipotles are pretty spicy, so most recipes won't need more than one, two at the max. I keep extras stored in a small container in the freezer and defrost as needed.
These are great as a side dish for any simply grilled meat, sandwiched into a fish taco or eaten cold from the refrigerator with a drizzle of lime juice! We ate this batch on a bed of spicy arugula microgreens with sliced avocado and pumpkin seeds. The creamy, buttery avocado cuts the spicy carrots.
Another thing - don't peel the carrots. I never do, unless I'm serving them as a crudite, and then it's only for presentation purposes. Phytochemicals tend to accumulate around around the peels so you get more nutrients, and save time!
Chipotle Roasted Carrots with Orange
- 2 lbs carrots, preferably rainbow
- 1 chipotle pepper, minced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 orange and zest
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and black pepper
- Microgreens for serving
- Preheat oven 400 degrees.
- Cut the tops off the carrots, then cut in half lengthwise. Cut the thick part into quarters, lengthwise and the thinner part in half lengthwise.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chipotle, olive oil, orange juice, zest, cumin and season with salt and black pepper.
- In a large bowl, toss together carrots and sauce. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes until tender.
- Serve garnished with microgreens.
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Nurture your skin and calm a breakout with this beautifying healthy skin juice. It's packed with produce like carrots, citrus, ginger and turmeric, that specifically target the skin.
This weekend I taught a smoothie workshop for an awesome group at the Pure Barre studios in Greenville, SC. The topic was definitely well received. I get questions about smoothies almost as often as questions about carbs, popular diets and the latest topic on Dr. Oz. The people are hungry for smoothies!
Whenever the topic of smoothies comes up, so does the topic of juicing. "What is juicing?" "Do I really need a juicer?" "Is it healthier than a smoothie?" "Why on earth does it cost $10 at Whole Foods?"
Here's my take:
Overall, I'm team smoothie. As a general rule of thumb, I like to feel full and satisfied when I eat. Weird, I know.
There are some downsides to juicing. Without the fiber in fruit, juices have more of a glycemic effect, especially if using mostly fruit. It's also expensive to do regularly, especially when you see how much produce goes into one little glass of juice.
However, juicing does have it's benefits. It's a great way to use up fruits and veggies that have been hanging around too long or an overabundance of summer produce. I often juice as a way to squeeze in extra nutrients to prevent myself from getting sick. For my clients with digestive illnesses like Crohns or Celiac, it's a source of easily digestible nutrients their body so desperately needs.
I like to think of juice as a supplement rather than a meal or snack. It's a way to strategically get the specific nutrients your body needs. Going for a long run? Beet juice would do your body good. Want to boost your iron intake? Throw in some greens with lemon to aid in absorption. Coming down with a cold? Throw a knob of immune enhancing fresh turmeric or ginger.
I created this juice as a supplement for my skin, to help calm breakouts, reduce redness and improve elasticity. There's actually a (kind of) funny story of how it came to be.
Early last year, my normally clear skin started breaking out, horribly. Like, worse than middle school. After reading this article, I put two and two together and traced it back to when I started putting pure lavender oil on my pillow at night. Apparently, my skin is sensitive to lavender, which
is was my favorite scent. Probably why I had it in just about everything - laundry detergent, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner.
Needless to say, when I rid my house of lavender, my skin cleared up pretty quickly. But whenever I accidentally come in contact with it (pretty frequent since it's a common ingredient) I break out. To give my skin some TLC, I started whipping up a batch of this juice packed with beautifying produce. Here's a look at what's inside:
CUCUMBER // I'm sure you've heard of putting cucumber slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness, but eating/drinking cucumbers is beneficial for skin as well. Cucumber is a rich source of silica, a mineral needed for healthy connective tissue and skin elasticity.
CITRUS // As we all know, citrus is a rich source of vitamin C. The vitamin is needed to produce collagen, which gives skin it's elasticity. It also helps to reduce redness associated with breakouts.
CARROTS // Carrots contain vitamin A, a vitamin which plays many roles in maintaining skin health. It promotes cell turnover, decreases acne, and prevents wrinkles.
TURMERIC & GINGER // Both ginger and turmeric, which are related, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to calm a breakout. Both also improve blood circulation, giving your skin a healthy glow.
While drinking a glass of this doesn't immediately turn me into a Neutrogena model, I do notice my skin looks calmer, less inflamed and with better tone. Even more important for healthy skin is to stay well hydrated, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, incorporate fermented probiotic foods and to limit sugar and dairy, both of which are linked to acne.
Any tricks you use for healthy skin?
- 2 large cucumbers
- 2 large carrots
- 2 grapefruits, peeled
- 2 navel oranges, peeled
- 1-inch nub of fresh ginger
- 1-inch nub of fresh turmeric
- 1/2 lemon
- Juice all ingredients in a juicer. Pour into two glasses and serve or store in a sealed mason jar until later.
Loving this juice? Check out my favorite smoothie recipes:
Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea?? Try this homemade digestion team, made with ingredients like fennel, mint and black peppercorns, known to aid in healthy digestion.
Time for another Recipe Redux! This month's theme:
Beverages Are Hot - That which is served in a mug, glass, or stein is becoming just as interesting as what’s on the plate. New cocktail-only blogs are emerging. Pinners are cooking with their Keurig K-cups. Hot beverages have gone way beyond hot cocoa. Beverages are in! Whether you’re serving something hot or cool, kid-friendly or happy hour worthy, show us your healthier drink.
At first, I was a bit flummoxed. As someone who is perfectly satisfied with tap water, black coffee and tea, I couldn't think of anything creative. I've already shared my favorite hot chocolate and more than enough smoothie recipes. I could share juicing recipes, but I mostly just throw leftover fruits and vegetables into our juicer, with variable results. I was stumped.
This recipe was developed out of necessity. Last week, as the snow started the fall, I felt a tickle in the back of my throat and started to get nauseous. Bad things were brewing, and it wasn't just the weather. When I went to brew tea, my go-to cold & flu fighter, I found a mostly empty drawer.
I never really thought of making homemade tea, but now that I have, it seems so obvious. With a mix of fresh herbs, spices and citrus, it achieves a complexity of flavor you could never get from dried tea. The fresh ingredients, in this case, orange, ginger and mint, are supported with a background of fennel and black peppercorn. Because my tummy hurt, I chose ingredients known to aid digestion.
Besides it's potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities, ginger is helpful for reducing stomach gas and relaxing the gastrointestinal tract. It also helps increase the release of digestive enzymes, bile, and saliva. In studies, ginger has been shown to be effective relieving symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. This is especially helpful for women dealing with morning sickness, as many medications can be dangerous during pregnancy.
As someone who deals with occasional, severe heartburn, fennel is one of my favorites for promoting healthy digestion. It is a carminative, meaning it helps prevent gas and bloating, but also seems to relieve heartburn by relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract to help food pass through.
Mint helps encourage the production of bile, which digests fat. It also helps calm muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. Even just the smell of mint can help sooth tummy troubles. Bonus, if you've got a sore throat like I did, mint helps sooth inflammation and irritation in respiratory muscles.
Orange Ginger Digestion Tea
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
- 2 thin slices of fresh orange
- 2 thin slices of fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- Pinch of whole, black peppercorns
- Honey (optional)
- Place the orange, ginger and mint in a teacup. Using a muddler or the back of a spoon, mash them lightly to release the essence. Crush fennel and black peppercorns lightly in a mortar and pestle. Place the ginger, mint leaves, fennel and black peppercorns in a tea ball. I left mine loose in the pictures since my tea ball has a big, plastic Santa Claus on it - not so good for photography. Place the tea bag back in the teacup and pour a cup of boiling water over it. Let it infuse for at least 2 minutes before drinking. Sweeten with honey if desired.
An elegant salad of arugula, shaved fennel, marcona almonds, olives and in season citrus.
Twenty-nine is a weird age. With thirty looming just around the corner, I often feel like I’m stuck between two distinct phases of life.
Some days I feel really young. Like, college freshman young. When I look back through my Clemson scrapbooks, I see the same girl, just with bad clothes and streaky highlights.
Other times I feel old. On Fridays, all I want to do is curl up on the couch with my husband, my puppies and my wine. After about an hour, an air of youthful restlessness hits and I realize, “Wait a second! I'm only twenty-nine! I need to be out on the town!” So, I throw myself together and we head down to our neighborhood bar to meet with friends. The scene is mostly mid-to-upper twentysomethings, but every so often, a group of USC students show up. When I see when they’re wearing, I feel like I might as well be in mom jeans and a scrunchie. Back to feeling old.
Looking to my friends for guidance is no help at all. Some are on their second child. Others have one-night stands. Some have settled into successful careers, own homes and new cars. Others struggle to pay rent.
Looking back at my expectations of life at thirty gives me a good giggle. Luckily, I’m mostly on par with my career goals. But socially? Woah, I was off. I thought my life would be a spinoff of Carrie Bradshaw's. I would attend art gallery openings on the weekend, perfectly dressed in a little black designer dress - totally affordable at the age of thirty, on a dietitian's salary no less. My friends and I would linger at quiet wine bars over a glass of syrah and a an intellectual conversation on foreign affairs. I would throw fancy, four-course dinner parties and serve dishes like
stuffed with fresh figs and proscuitto,
blini with creme fraiche and caviar and finish with a perfectly plated individual cheese course.
In actuality, weekends consist of weddings, showers and Clemson football. Wine is often involved in social events, but it's usually of the what's on sale at Trader Joe's variety. Conversations often gravitate more towards Kim Kardashians latest ventures than anything of substance. And those dinner parties? They tend to be more of the potluck variety.
If I were to throw a real dinner party, this is exactly the salad I would make. It has a perfect contrast of color, texture and flavor. To up the fancy factor by a few degrees, look for blood oranges. If you really are serving this for a dinner party and not eating it in front of your TV while watching Homeland, mix and plate the arugula, fennel and red onion in advance and top with the other ingredients before serving. Now, don't you think this would look perfect on that Kate Spade china that I never even registered for?
Citrus and Arugula Salad with Marcona Almonds and Fennel
4 to 8
Adapted from Authentic Suburban Gourmet.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
- Zest from 1 orange
- 4 mixed oranges
- 1 bulb of fennel, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ cup red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 8 cups arugula
- 1/3 cup marcona almonds
- 8 kalamata olives, chopped
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, fennel seed and orange zest. Set aside.
- Cut the top and bottom off each orange so you have a flat surface for cutting. Using a sharp paring knife, cut down the curved side of each orange to remove the peel, while leaving as much of the pulp intact. Cut each orange into ¼-inch rounds.
- Place the arugula in a large bowl. Add the fennel and red onion, toss to combine. Divide the salad among the plates. Top with sliced orange. Sprinkle with almonds and olives.
- Whisk together the flavored oil and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and top with another crack of black pepper, and maybe some truffle salt if you’ve got it, since you know, this is for a fancy dinner party and all.