I’m going to start off with a little confession this week… I actually created this recipe and photographed it about three months ago. It’s been sitting all pretty and ready to be shared, but it hasn’t been until know, that the time has been right. You see, I’ve been on a journey over these past months. Not so much literally, (though I wish I had!). It’s more of a personal and professional development journey.
Sometimes life just seem to take you on a trip of change regardless of whether you want it or not, so when you actually have the chance to decide yourself that you are ready to explore, open up and expand, it just makes the experience all the sweeter! Every now and then you go places or meet people who become catalysts for change and steer your path in a slightly different direction, or perhaps bring you back to the road you where always meant to travel…
Back in April, I met one of those people, Dr Deanna Minich. When I heard Dr Minich speak at our AGM for Nutritional Therapists in Dublin in the middle of April this year, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, here is someone who has already integrated health and healing through food and eating into a tangible concept!” Something I’ve intuitively been looking for, but not being sure how to fit the jigsaw together.
One part of Nutritional Therapy that have always felt right to me, is the way we tend to treat the person as a whole. We are the sum of all the parts and they are interconnected. An imbalance in one system will have an effect on another one. Work with one system and you will see a ripple effect in another area. It is inevitable.
Those of you that know me, have worked with me already, or been following along here for awhile now, knows that I don’t advocate any particular type of diet (other than fresh wholesome unprocessed foods), that I believe that we need to get better at listening to our own bodies to find out what is truly best for us, and that I absolutely loath calorie counting!
To me eating should be free of guilt, blame and shame and a truly nourishing experience on every level. So you can imagine my excitement when I meet someone who had already integrated this way of thinking into one colourful concept! All I knew back in April was that this is where I need to go next! So following my heart and my gut off I went and enrolled in Dr Minich’s Food & Spirit Certified Practitioner Programme™. This is probably one of the best thing I’ve done since I decided to study Nutritional Therapy several years ago. (Take home message to all of us – if something feels really right in your heart, go with it. Don’t let any fears or worries stand in your way. Trust and go forth.)
So what is Food & Spirit™ exactly? What does it mean for my own practice and skills to have added this certified training to my tool kit?
Food & Spirit™ is an all encompassing self-healing modality, marrying physiology and psychology with food and eating through the 7 Aspects of Self. Still none the wiser? Ok, let me try again. Basically what Dr Minich has done, through years of clinical research, clinical practice and whilst simultaneously studying ancient healing traditions, is to recognise a pattern of how everything seems to be interconnected through these 7 aspects of self. These Aspects are connected to different areas in our body, both physically through various hormone glands and organs, but also symbolically through energy centres (chakras) recognised in ancient healing traditions. Finally each of these 7 Aspects are also connected to how we live, how we eat and how we connect with life itself.
Through using the lens of this concept we can look at imbalances within these areas of self, (which may manifest as disease, dis-ease, or simply not feeling our best), in a wider context. We can look at the area(s) / aspect(s) that are out of balance and use this as a starting point for how to apply changes to our lifestyle, how we eat and what we eat.
The 7 Aspects of Self are:
The Root – Who we are, our foundation, our genetic make up and our ability to survive in the physical world.
The Flow – How we feel, our ability to express our emotions, our creativity
The Fire – Our innate sense of ego, our place of transformation and personal empowerment
The Love – How we give and receive love from others, how we nourish our dreams and passions
The Truth – How we speak what’s on our minds and in our hearths, our vulnerability and authenticity
The Insight – Our innate wisdom, our knowledge gathered from experience and our inherent intuition
The Spirit – Our purpose and our connection with all of life.
Journeying through each different Aspect, looking at how we live, how we integrate with the environment, but most of all how we engage with the food on the plate becomes a beautiful journey of self-discover through food, eating and living. It can become a transformational journey from fullness to wholeness.
When we stop and think, not only about what we eat, but how we interact with the food on our plate, doors of self-realisation and self-awareness opens. Opportunities to change, and opportunities to simply choose a different approach or path presents itself.
I believe that when we make food choices from a place of love and care for ourselves, we will chose differently. Making healthier choices becomes the natural way forward and much of the overwhelm, confusion, guilt and shame evaporates. It’s simple really, however getting there may not be all that easy… Though the challenges are all part of the experience too!
The other part of Food & Spirit™ is marrying the actual colourful foods with each aspect, or as I’ve done here using one food from each colour of the rainbow to create a full spectrum dish with nourishing health promoting phytonutrients!
Cauliflower Pizza has become all the rage of lately and whether you are avoiding gluten or not, it makes a nice way to consume this health promoting vegetable. Lots of people don’t like cauliflower, mostly because it’s always served overcooked. I think is far too under-utilised. It is cheap and actually very versatile! On top of that being part of the cruciferous vegetable family (same as broccoli, bok choy, kale, Brussels sprouts) it is anti inflammatory, has cancer protective properties and supports heart health.
So feed your LOVE and all the other aspects of yourself with this colourful Rainbow Pizza!
1 medium size of cauliflower
a handful of rainbow chard or spinach
1/2 cup of gram flour (chickpea flour)
2 eggs, lightly whisked – free range organic if possible
some fresh herbs like sage / rosemary / oregano, chopped – optional
1 aubergine / eggplant, chopped into squares
1 red onion, peeled & thinly sliced
2 red or orange peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 tube of tomato paste
150 g feta cheese
a little olive oil for roasting the vegetables
sea salt & black pepper, to season
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop the onion, pepper and aubergine. Place them on an oven proof tray, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the preheated oven and roast for about 20 min or until nice and soft.
In the meantime, break the head of cauliflower up into pieces and place in a food processor together with the chard / spinach. Blend until you have a consistency that resembles couscous.
Take the “cauli couscous” out of the food processor and place in a bowl. Add in the whisked egg and the gram flour and mix with your hands until you have a kind of sticky “dough”. Place the dough on a lined baking tray and gently form a pizza base with the use of your hands. Once you are happy with your base, place it in the oven and let it cook for 20 min, to set. Your roasted vegetables may be ready at this stage so take them out before cooking the base and let them rest for awhile.
Once you base is set, remove it from the oven. Evenly smear the tomato paste on to your base, then add the roasted veg and finally scatter some feta cheese over the lot. You can of course use any cheese you like or omit it altogether, if you wish. I just happen to love feta on my pizza.
Bake the pizza in the oven for a further 10-15 min or until the cheese is lightly golden, but not burnt.
Serve your Rainbow Pizza with some extra greens and a loving intention. Proceed to experience love from the inside out <3
The concept of Food & Spirit is deeply nourishing and transformative. It offers a way to look at all these different areas of ourselves and to become much more aware of how the food we eat makes us feel, but also how our way living affects our current health and what changes we may need to do in order to bring ourselves back into balance so we can live life in full colour!
Food and eating has served me personally, as a path to personal growth. It has become a way of being more creative and open up new avenues and places of explorations. When we go beyond the basics of nutrition (calories, macro nutrients, measuring, counting etc.) we can begin to craft a healthy relationship with food and our bodies and in a sense find our way back to who we truly are.
In my Online Programme; Happy Healthy Me, we are already working on transforming our relationship with food and bringing awareness to not only what we are eating but also Why and How.
If you want to know more about this approach to breaking free from dieting madness and instead begin the journey to food freedom, body peace and a way to nourish yourself in ways that feel good to YOU,then this programme is for you!
Photos of me by Magda Lukas.
This week we are changing things up a little! I’m delighted to introduce you to the lovely Shanna Jade who runs the blog Sprouting an Old Soul. Her beautiful recipes coupled with insight and wisdom makes for an excellent read.
To allow you to get to know Shanna Jade a little better, I will allow her to take the lead.
Tell me about you, how did you get into wholefoods & healthy living? Where does your blog fit in?
Well my name is Shanna Jade, I live in fairly small country town just east of the Rocky Mountains in Canada. I was born and raised not far from where I am now. I am fortunate enough to have traveled throughout my life, while being still very content to call this lovely place home.
I am fairly nutty about healthy foods, a health state of mind and living an all around eco lifestyle. I was raised primarily vegetarian, spending next to zero time in the kitchen. My mom has always mean very health conscious, when I was in high school she started her own educational journey to become a Master Herbalist, going on to teach nutrition through a local college. I have memories of her in the kitchen making things like warm gooey from scratch Mac ‘n’ Cheese or baking up a dish full of lentils with tomatoes, however I have far more memories of my dad in the kitchen. He makes the most amazing meals, whipping them up like nothing.
Helping my mother with her schooling was a ridiculously easy way for me to learn as well. I picked things up while helping her study, by reading her textbooks and by general osmosis – none of which was how to cook. Taking from where her classes left off I took it upon myself to continue my learning, digging deeper into specific ingredients and nutrients which I found enjoyable to work with or fascinating to read about. Thus I would call myself self taught. The nutritional knowledge I hold comes from a large number of sources, the culinary flare comes from my heart. I didn’t always cook with healthy ingredients, I didn’t always read labels. For a few years of my life I was completely blissfully ignorant to the trash that I was taking into my body. I knew I wasn’t eating healthy or promoting the things I had learned but I was young and it was easy to eat empty calories.
I started Sprouting an Old Soul as a way to reach out and share with other people in the community, people who wanted to learn about healthy foods and how to live a well rounded lifestyle. I started the blog as a way to keep myself focused and remind myself that in order to never stop learning I needed to apply the skills and knowledge in which I already possessed. That meant cutting out the crap and filling myself up with the most wholesome ingredients and outrageous nutrition.
Do you have any non-negotiables when it comes to what you eat or the products you use?
Absolutely. I make a huge go of using fully BPA free everything. Product wise – I try as much as I can to limit all chemical and synthetics in the house, especially anything that can be inhaled or absorbed. I use fully organic skin care, hair care and as green of cleaning products as possible. Food wise, I do my best to keep things as whole as possible. I don’t eat or drink anything with artificial coloring, I have never had red meat, I don’t do sodas and I strongly dislike green peppers. I am not a purist and I don’t believe in labels. I think that if something makes your cells sing, you should darn well eat it. I think that being in tune and having the ability to notice what makes you feel great vs what makes your belly hurt is a must. Once that’s mastered then everything falls into place because really, KD and McDonalds are not things that make anyone feel good. Being ready to face that is the biggest step. ( I couldn’t agree more!)
What is hands down your favorite thing to eat?
Ooh. Well, I eat mushrooms almost every day, I love love love them. I have always really loved eggs, even when I was following a strict vegan lifestyle (I have genetically high cholesterol so I try to stay away from animal fats) I would dream of going for breakfast and having some sort of scramble.
What sort of things do you do for yourself to get or to stay grounded?
Most importantly I have a very solid morning routine, I feel completely out of whack when I don’t follow with that. Primarily hydration, if I don’t have at least a liter of water before I leave the house in the morning I am simply not myself. I am very liberal when it comes to white sage, I have a smudge stick beside my bed and burn it regularly. I cleanse my room and my self almost nightly before bed. I find myself needing an attitude adjustment when I haven’t had a chance to go outdoors – I am basically a grump and the only cure is forest. People I work with have been known to suggest I take some “tree time”.
Care to share any routines, rituals must do’s that you stick with to keep yourself on track?
Well as I said, I have a solid morning routine. I set my alarm for at least 10 minutes earlier than needed and spend those extra minutes focusing on two words that are written on the ceiling above my bed. Love and Service. I sit with them and allow them to fill me for the whole 10 minutes. I have a giant jar of room temperature water either spiked with liquid chlorophyll or a pinch of high quality grey sea salt. Gentle mind and body cleansing.
I think that having a workout routine, a yoga class, any sort of movement is crazy important. Leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about eating fruits and veggies. It’s about your body, your own personal temple that needs tending and worship. Getting your groove on and respecting that your body is incredible and it craves movement is something that I find incredibly important.
I am so happy to have been able to share this recipe with the Straightforward Nutrition community, to introduce myself and to be able to broadcast the lovely Linn on my own site.
I created this recipe as a way for folks to get other types of greens into their diets. Sure, kale is all the rage, spinach is pretty great and well chard too. What about the garnish on the side of your plate? The parsley, the cilantro, the herbs that are so lovingly placed to add a touch of color only to be discarded by the consumer. This recipe is about variety and the amazing flavor profile of the sometimes overlooked greens available to us.
Freekeh is a very low gluten form of green wheat, it’s picked early on in the cycle and has amazing flavor & texture! If you are sensitive to wheat, or you can’t locate this amazing grain – substitute quinoa, barley or whatever you have handy. (Whole Spelt or Kamut grains would work too)
Green Freekhe Salad
1 Cup Loose Packed Lemon Balm
1/2 Cup Mint
1 Cup Curly Parsley
1 Cup Cilantro
1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Seed Oil
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Dill
1.5 Cups of Freekeh
4 Cups of Water
1/2 Cup Toasted Pine nuts
1/2 Large Yellow Onion
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 Green Chili
1/4 of a Preserved Lemon
Add the freekeh + water to a pot and cook for about 45-50 minutes, until the grain has grown and the water has been absorbed. While it’s cooking, make the herb paste. Add all herb paste ingredients to a blender or food processor and whirl until it’s a pesto like consistency. Set aside. Dice the onion then caramelize it in the coconut oil. Once the freekeh is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl along with the onion and the toasted pine nuts. Rough chop the preserved lemon and the chili – toss it in the bowl, then add the herb paste and mix well. Serve at room temperature.
Thanks a mill Shanna for sharing your lovely recipe here on Straightforward Nutrition! Much appreciated 🙂
If you want to see what I shared with Shanna’s readers over on Sprouting an Old Soul, then head over there for a visit.
Time to get back to winter greens. No need to skimp on the raw stuff just because the weather has gotten a little cooler eh? This recipe is one I made for Chelsea – Aka The Naked Fig, back in the Spring as part of our guest blogging swap. As it turned out to be a big hit with her readers, I have decided to feature it here too. It feels like the perfect fit now when all the ingredients are back in season again.
There’s another couple of reasons as why I have decided to post this recipe now. One, as mentioned above – It’s seasonal. Two – I’m currently juggling lots of things (what’s new??) and a little stuck for time to shoot a new recipe… Three – This was one of the featured recipes for the cooking demos I did last weekend. The theme was local, seasonal and autumn /winter (Ok, so Quinoa isn’t exactly local… ). It looked like people enjoyed it! So I hope you will too. And if you were actually at one of the demos, then here’s the recipe.
Personally I love these kinds of salads as the are more of “assembling a meal” so saves on time spent cooking. If you have the quinoa already cooked you are saving even more time. This salad is almost nicer the day after. Perfect for a left-over lunch option. Win-win.
Kale is the perfect winter green and I am delighted it is back in season again. They grow happily this time of the year. Over the past couple of years my cooking has evolved and become more and more adapted to the seasons. Perhaps it has become a little more adventurous too, yet at the same time the way I cook now is a lot cleaner and simpler.
You see, as your start introducing more vegetables and fresh food into your diet, your taste buds gradually change. As you start eating with more awareness and purpose, you’ll find yourself discover new tastes and flavours, and after awhile you will probably find that not just any old vegetable will do. They have to be fresh, colourful & vibrant too.
As we slowly transition from autumn into winter. From raw food to cooked food. From salads to soups and stews. It is nice to still keep some raw foods on the weekly menu. Raw food are food which has not been heated over 46 C. Some nutrients can easily be destroyed by cooking and beneficial enzymes are still retained when we eat foods in its natural state. Some people thrive well on a fully raw diet. Personally I find it hard to eat too much raw, cold food when the weather is cold but including a salad like this as a side to say a piece of pan fried fish or indeed adding the quinoa when still warm does the trick.
Apples are at peak season so you should easily be able to get some locally grown. Adding apples to a salad adds a sweet crunch and they work well with the pomegranates and hazelnuts. To me this is how you construct a “Super Salad”. Some greens, some cooked grains, some raw fruit or other veggies and some healthy fats to balance both flavours and blood sugar. You’ll get the fats here from both the olive oil in the dressing and from the nuts. Protein comes in form of the quinoa as well as the hazelnuts so by the time you have assembled the whole thing you will have a light, yet filling meal to satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters a like. I hope you will like it as much as the people who tried it at last weekend’s cooking demos did 🙂
Black Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apple, Hazelnuts & Pomegranate
Serves 2 hungry people
4 cups curly kale, washed, stems removed & finely chopped
1 cup black quinoa, rinsed – If you can’t find black quinoa, red or white will work fine too.
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
2 small apples, finely sliced – preferably organic. Use a crunchy sort which will give the bet texture and flavour.
½ cup raw hazelnuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of sea salt, to season
Heat your oven to 200°C. To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a baking tray. Then toast in the oven for about 10 min. Keep an eye on them, they burn easily. Once you see the skin beginning to crack, remove from the oven. Allow to cool a little before giving them a gentle rub to remove the skins. Chop roughly and set aside.
To cook the quinoa; rinse it well to remove the bitter outer coating. Place it in a saucepan with the cold water and a tight fitting lid. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to very low and cook covered for 12 minutes, until the grain is tender. Turn off the heat, but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool down
In a salad bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. I love using Himalayan Pink Salt as it has great taste. Whisk until combined then add in your chopped kale. Massage the dressing in to the kale gently with your hands. Add in the cooked quinoa and pomegranate seeds. Mix until well combined. Add the sliced apples and hazelnuts, just before serving. Give the whole thing a gentle toss. Tuck in! It will taste even better the following day.
Photos of me cooking at Burren Food Fayre in Lisdoonvarna kindly taken by Finghin Kiernan.
Are you part of the Green Smoothie Club? If smoothies are a very recent addition to your daily menu, making it a green one may still feel a little daunting. Or if having liquidized greens still seems a little ‘too out there’ for you, yet you are curious about trying out one – then this recipe is for you.
The Green Smoothie for Beginners is the first part in my upcoming smoothie series. I have a couple more refreshing raw drinks in the pipeline for you while the season is still primed for indulging in raw foods. Smoothies, particularly green ones is such a simple step to increase the amount of raw food in your daily diet, and your intake of vegetables over all.
I don’t own a fancy blender like a Nutri-bullet or a Vitamix (I wish I did though…). The basic blender I had, which had a good glass jug I broke by putting something too hot in it. Kitchen mishaps… So these days I’m back to using my trusted hand blender (actually I wore one out and had to replace it as I couldn’t do with out!) I’m not one for (too many) fancy kitchen gadgets but my hand blender is one gadget I certainly couldn’t live without. I’ve even taken it on holiday with me. How sad it that?
Ever since I broke my blender jug, green smoothies has been off my menu, as I believed my little hand blender would not be strong enough to blend the green leaves. The key to a really good green smoothie is to make sure that the leaves are really well chopped up. You simply won’t have that fabulous of an experience if you have to chomp through chunks of leaves. I mean, it’s called smoothie for a reason. Right? Anyhow, we have been getting some great fresh produce here lately which included both spinach and the utterly beautiful rainbow chard. So I though, let’s put the hand blender to the test and see if it is possible to make some kind of green smooth(ie) goodness with it.
Success! Here you are. My basic green smoothie recipe for beginners, using only a hand blender. No excuses now, not to try out these greenies.
Most of the smoothies I make includes two of my favourite ingredients, banana and avocado. Both of them add a lovely creaminess to any smoothie and the healthy fat from the avocado helps to counteract any possible blood sugar spike from the fruit. Having smoothies as oppose to juices means you will get all the fibre from the fresh produce too.
Green Smoothie For Beginners
1/2 an avocado
1 small banana or 1/2 of a big one, peeled & chopped
a fist of soft green mild-tasting leaves, like chard or spinach – washed
1 kiwi, peeled & roughly chopped
a squeeze of lime – optional
200ml of filtered water or plant milk of choice
Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and add together with the rest of the ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Pour your smoothie into a glass. Top with some Chia seeds, bee pollen or any other fancy super food you can think of. Or do what I do when not styling for a photo shoot – have it straight from the container…
Congrats! You are now well on your way to a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle. Don’t worry if your tastebuds protest a little at first. Practice makes perfect.
Finally Summer has arrived in Ireland! Yay! We’ve been a long time waiting for this and now we have finally have some real heat and sunshine to enjoy. Trust me, when you live in a country where blue skies and temperatures in the 20s are a rarity, you savour every single minute of it you get! The thing is, feeling positive, happy and content is so much easier when the sun is out. Perhaps it has to do with the increase of Vitamin D from the sun? Some recent studies seems to suggest so. This post on the Huff Post refers to a recent study where improvement in symptoms of depression where linked to an increase in Vitamin D. Even though we can take Vitamin D supplements, the best source is the one which is synthesized naturally by our skin. So if the sun is shining where ever you are right now, get out there!
Another great thing about warmer temperatures is that it feels more natural to increase the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Of course it does, this is the season of abundant fresh green leaves, bright berries and edible flowers! If you are thinking of taking your healthy eating habits to the next level, now is your chance. Perhaps you are even growing a few things in your garden already? Raw fruits and vegetables are bursting with nutrition and health benefits and they are naturally low in calories. This basically means you get more bang for your buck.
I often feel people have this idea that a salad is something you eat when you are on a diet. It is often a sad, uninspiring kind of affair, which you eat purely because “you are being good” and on “a diet”. To top it off, it is probably a pretty small portion too, so an hour later that ice cream you where trying to restrain your self from having earlier is now just irresistible…
This way of thinking makes me so sad, because when you view salads like this you are missing out some fantastic opportunities to do something amazing for your body. Making a salad full of life giving components is actually a great way to reward your body with goodness, so it can keep doing all the things you want it to do. Often if we have spent a long time dieting we can be stuck in what I call “the Dieting Mindset”, where eating healthy foods, some how is seen as “being good” and eating processed foods seen as “being bad”. How about a mindset shift? What if eating nourishing, colourful, fresh foods, from nature is instead viewed as “doing good”? All of a sudden you are treating your body with things which is doing good, making you feel good. No punishment in sight. Makes sense? You know that fussy, warm happy feeling we get when we do something nice for others? Rewarding ourselves with good food is kinda the same thing. So go on, do something good for your body today. And celebrate that summer is here at the same time 🙂
This salad is super simple and I didn’t even bother with a proper salad dressing. It’s a kinda assembly meal and the key to make it taste really good is to use the best and freshest ingredients you can find.
Celebration of Summer Salad
Serves 1 hungry person or 2 people as a side
1 cup mixed green salad leaves, washed
6-7 strawberries, washed, hulled & halved
1 pear, washed & sliced
50g feta cheese (because everything just tastes better with feta!)
10 walnuts, roughly chopped
a handful of sprouted mungbeans – optional
some sage flowers – alternatively add a few fresh leaves of sage, finely chopped &/or other types of edible flowers for an extra kick of colour
a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Place the leaves in a large bowl. Scatter some balsamic vinegar over the leaves to taste. Add in your pear and strawberries. Scatter the mungbean sprouts, walnuts, flowers and crumble the feta over the whole lot. Serve immediately.
* I’ve also made this salad using a ripe peach instead of the pear and switching the walnuts for pecan nuts. It was almost nicer…*