Salmon – The Deliciously Fatty Fish

Raise your hand if you love salmon! I don’t know if it’s all the Omega 3s in salmon, but it’s one of my favorite dishes. Well, actually, it might be taking the top spot (along with scallops, but that’s not a fish.) Anyways, I digress.

seared-salmon-rawFirst, let me talk about how great salmon is for you! It contains a bunch of health benefits, supporting your heart with omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which slow down plaque build-up in the arteries. Those same Omega-3s boost your brain power while also helping your eyes by protecting the eye cells from sunlight and free radicals. It also contains my favorite Vitamin, Vitamin D, which helps our bodies absorb calcium among countless other benefits! It also contains astaxanthin, a super antioxidant that helps protect your skin from UV-radiation while supporting eye and heart health. Yea, this beautiful fatty fish is loaded to the gills (pun intended) with positive health benefits. So let’s talk about why people may not cook it at home…

Many people reserve fish for ordering at a restaurant. I’ve heard every excuse from I hate the way it smells up my house to I have no idea how to cook it, to it tastes so much better at the restaurant. Well, I’m here to help you out because seriously, I love salmon, but I hate spending $30 on it at a restaurant when I can buy a quality piece of wild caught Alaskan salmon for around $7-10. Here are a few tips for all you lovely fish eaters out there!

Grizzly Bears Love Salmon Too
Grizzly Bears Love Salmon Too

1. Every salmon needs a good sear (well at least I think so). I love the crispy crust when it’s complemented by the tender inside. It’s so good, my mouth is watering right now. My favorite way to get that crust to to cook my salmon in a skillet on the stove. First, I get the pan searing hot, add a little olive oil, and the salmon, skin side down (if you have a skinless piece of salmon, don’t worry about it). Turn the heat to medium low. Cover the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then flip, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. What comes out is a perfectly cooked salmon. Seriously. Anyone can do that! Yes, even you!

IMG_15662. Ok so now you know how to cook the salmon. It won’t be fishy tasting (that only happens when you overcook it), but your house may smell a little fishy after cooking. I understand. No one likes that smell in their house, only on the docks. So what do you do about it? First shut your doors to the rest of your house. Try and confine the smell as much as possible. The be sure to open a window, put a fan on, just do something to kick the smell out. Once you’re finished cooking, clean up, right away. If it still smells like a dock, simmer your some cinnamon sticks, cloves and citrus peels on the stove for an all natural air freshener. And if you just can’t get the smell out, leave a small bowl on the counter filled with white vinegar, baking soda, or coffee grounds which will help naturally dissipate any remaining smells come morning.

3. Think you can’t cook as good as some restaurants? Think again. You may not be able to rival a 5 star establishment, you can still wow your guests and yourself, by cooking up a delicious seafood meal. The key is to cook it properly (see number 1) and then add some jazz to it! I love making a light dill sauce to go along with my salmon. Take 1 cup Greek Yogurt, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 3 tablespoons freshly chopped dill, the juice and zest of one lemon, salt and pepper and BAM! – you’ve got yourself a fancy salmon sauce.

Are there any other hurdles that are stopping you from cooking up a seafood feast this evening? Let me know about them and I’ll see if I can help you!

Looking for healthy kitchen inspiration? Let me design a food plan that fits your budget, time constraints, and preferences while focusing on your health concerns! I’ll get you back on track for 2015 by eating delicious food that’s easy to make and good for your body and soul! Contact me at info@mbeewell.com for a free consultation!

Bee Well,

Melissa
info@mbeewell.com

 

Yes, You Can Eat Pasta…

pasta-pamaI am not Italian, but I do love pasta. I usually make it once a week to satisfy my craving for that perfect al dente bite. It just tastes so darn good! Being mindful of my health, I really do try and limit it to once per week, even though it can easily become a reliable standby for weeknight meals. BUT, that doesn’t mean you should.

Ok, so back to that one night a week meal (maybe two if it’s a special occasion). Whenever I make pasta, I try to balance out my bowl with 2/3 veggies and protein to 1/3 pasta. That way, I’m never feeling deprived from not eating pasta, but I’m also providing my body with all the fiber, nutrients, and protein that it needs to help slow down the breakdown of sugar in the pasta, keeping me fuller, longer! (Seriously, how many times have you eaten a big bowl of pasta with just pasta and sauce only to fall into a food coma and wake up 20 minutes later eating more? This is what I try to avoid!) I also try to load up on the veggie topping first and then just top it off with a little bit of pasta. (Think 2/3 of your bowl being vegetables and protein to 1/3 of your bowl being pasta).

So on an evening when you’re craving pasta, but not the guilt, try making this dish that will keep you full until morning! It’s a quick and easy supper that’s made with most ingredients that you already have in your pantry. Serve with a side salad or vegetable soup and you’re good to go!

IMG_1603Feel Good Pasta with Beans and Spinach

Serves 4

1/2 Box Pasta of your choice
1 bag frozen spinach (or 2 bunches fresh spinach)
1 can Cannellini Beans
1/2 cup Sundried Tomatoes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Red Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon butter
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt (to the salinity of the sea) and pasta. Cook to al dente (follow the directions on the box).

While the pasta is cooking, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a pan on low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, then cook till transleucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, pepper, beans, and sundried tomatoes. I chose to add the spinach without thawing it because I wanted a little liquid, however, you can microwave the spinach and drain in a colander and then add it as well. Cook for a few minutes until the spinach and beans have warmed through the the tomatoes have plumped up.

Add the pasta to the spinach mixture, the butter, and a little bit of the reserved pasta cooking water. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Enjoy!

 

Looking for healthy kitchen inspiration? Let me design a food plan that fits your budget, time constraints, preferences, and health! I’ll get you back on track for 2015 by eating delicious food that’s easy to make and good for your body and soul! Contact me at info@mbeewell.com for a free consultation!

Bee Well,

Melissa
info@mbeewell.com

A Healthy Holiday Detox

The holidays are great. It’s a time for baking your favorite cookie recipe that was passed down through generations. For me, I bake kozlocki – aka little bites of heaven – a Polish cookie filled with jam. It’s so good. And my holiday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t make pierogis from scratch. I also go overboard cooking intricate dishes that I wouldn’t normally waste my time on. But, that’s what the holidays are for! Of course, there are also the libations – beer, wine, champagne toasts, and fancy cocktail drinks. But, now… as my friend said yesterday “if I look at another stuffed mushroom I’ll throw up.” My sentiments exactly.

IMG_1382
Cookies for days….

 

IMG_1384
I swear they’re my kryptonite

So now that your body has been thoroughly stuffed over the past week (ok month) and you’ve probably not been keeping track of your workouts, it’s time to give yourself (and your body) a break and hit that reset button!

In order to “reset,” we need to focus on the three main systems that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes: circulatory, digestive, and lymphatic. Your circulatory system pumps blood and oxygen through your body, carrying waste products away from cells while your digestive system separates the nutrients from the waste and your lymphatic system collects fluid throughout the body where anything harmful such as bacteria or other contaminants are removed before being returned to the bloodstream. Our goal is to help all these systems function at their optimum levels so you can ditch that sluggish feeling you’ve been harboring since last week!

First things first – get “it” out of the house! Don’t tempt yourself by keeping a big pile of cookies on the counter or a delicious bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy in the fridge. It’s getting cold, you’re hungry, and it’s there, of course you’re going to go for it instead of the kale salad that you could make. So do yourself a favor and just get rid of all the “excess” lying around your house and by “excess,” I mean all the “food stuff” you would only have around this time of year.

Ok now that you’ve gotten rid of the goodies, drink some water. Every time you want a cookie, drink a glass of water. Every time you’re craving that delicious pierogi with sour cream, drink a glass of water. You get my drift. With all of the heavy and sugary laden foods that we’ve been consuming, our body is craving water, especially while we’re sitting in heated houses (the dreaded dry heat!)

Fresh Red Beets
Beets – Nature’s liver cleanser

So now that you’re running to the bathroom every 30 minutes, let’s get you eating some detoxifying foods. Try adding some beets to your diet, filled with magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium they help your liver stay in tip top shape. Ginger is another liver cleanser, spiking your metabolism while flushing out waste. You can also add some sweet pineapple to your morning smoothie, providing you with a good dose of bromelain, a digestive enzyme that clears out your colon. You can even add a dash of cinnamon to your yogurt that’s full of calcium, iron, and manganese which helps you process fatty acids while keeping your blood sugar stable.

You’re drinking your water, eating your veggies, and now you’re going to get your sweat on! Head to the gym, get outdoors, or take a yoga class! A body in motion stays in motion and a body that’s been lying on the couch eating cookies, will continue to lay on the couch and eat cookies. I know the first step is hard, but once you get back in your workout routine, you’ll look forward to it. Try and head to your favorite yoga studio or practice some detoxifying poses at home to help promote digestion. Here’s a little sample of a great detox yoga flow.

high-lunge-twist-400x400
Twists are great for stimulating the digestive system

At the end of the day, rest up in a mud, clay, or epsom salt bath instead of going for that cookie and glass of wine. These minerals will help draw out toxins from the body, helping your muscles rest (and your mind!) Add some arnica oil to help soothe your muscles even more.

Don’t wait until 2015 to get going, give 2014 everything you’ve got for a fresh start in the new year! And if you’re looking for someone to be accountable to, give me a call. I’ll help you stay on track so that your goals will become your priorities. Instead of “dieting,” I’ll help you live.

Bee Well,

Melissa

 

 

Satisfying Vegetarian Tacos

I know when many people hear “vegetarian” dish, they’re thinking that there’s no way that the dish is going to fill them up or satisfy their hunger. This may be true for dishes that don’t include enough fiber, protein, or healthy fats, which leaves you hungry an hour later. But there are so many ingredients that will help you amp up your veggie meals!

Making sure that your meals have a balanced portion of fiber, protein, and healthy fats will help you stay satisfied without feeling weighted down. Great vegetarian sources of protein include: eggs, cheese, quinoa, nuts, beans, yogurt, peanut butter, and tofu. Vegetarian sources of fiber include: seeds, nuts, beans, and fruit. And for your healthy fats, try olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts.

Hearty Vegetarian Tacos
Hearty Vegetarian Tacos

Over 50% of my meals are vegetarian. It’s a way for me to appreciate the meat and where it came from when I do have it and it’s also a way for my body to get the nutrients it deserves. I notice that many times, when I do have a meatless meal, there are so many more vegetables on the plate than when I have a dish with meat, especially when I’m at a restaurant.

As they say, practice what you preach! So here’s a hearty vegetarian dish that’s packed full of vitamins, fiber, protein, and healthy fats so you won’t miss the meat!

Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos with Herbed Yogurt Dressing
Serves 4 (just add one small sweet potato per person)

4 Small Sweet Potatoes (or 2 large sweet potatoes) scrubbed and cubed (skin on)
1 cup Black Beans (I used dried black beans that I cooked, but you can use a can too!)
1 small Hot Pepper (take out the seeds if you want less heat)
1 bunch Cilantro
2-3 Scallions (white and green parts)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Whole Wheat Tortillas

  • Preheat the oven to 375. Toss the cubed sweet potatoes with the cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook until golden brown, around 30-40 minutes.
  • Combine the cilantro, scallions, hot pepper, greek yogurt, salt, pepper, olive oil in a food processor and mix until the consistency of a thick sauce.
  • Warm the tortillas on a cast iron skillet. Top with the roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, and herb yogurt sauce.

Super easy, super simple, not many ingredients, and completely satisfying!

Until next time, ‘Bee’ Well,
Melissa

A Flavourful Fall Soup

A few weeks ago I went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cave in Avon, NJ. It’s a Paleo restaurant featuring fresh, organic, and high quality ingredients that makes every dish a standout. Owner and head cook Doug Stehle creates dishes such as grilled “Tuna Salad Tacos” and one of my personal favorites, “The Bison, the Duck, and the Egg” burger.

On this particular day, he decided to delight our tastebuds with fall flavors, creating his Thai Pumpkin Soup. We ordered a bowl and practically licked it clean. Ever since that day, I’ve been craving that soup, trying to figure out how I could recreate such a flavorful and healthy dish at home.

The Soup That Will Make You Happy!
The Soup That Will Make You Happy!

Well kids… I figured it out! And since I love my readers, I’m sharing it with you.

Mind you, I didn’t use pumpkin (I was too lazy to go get one at the store) and used butternut squash instead. But feel free to substitute fresh pumpkin in! I know I’m going to this week.

As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was a hit. I even told my husband before he slurped a big spoonful, “You may want to divorce me, just so you can date me, propose to me, and marry me again.” Fair warning, you may receive an increased amount of attention. So don your “Kiss the Cook” apron and get cooking!

Knock Your Socks Off Fall Soup 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 inch of fresh garlic, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 handful chopped flat leaf parsley, thai basil, or cilantro

First, get yourself a large dutch oven on the stove around medium heat. Add in the coconut oil and onions. Cook the onions until translucent, then add the butternut squash, carrots, curry powder, chili flakes, cinnamon, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to get all of the spices blooming in the coconut oil and hugging the butternut squash, onions, and carrots. Cook for around 5-7 minutes. You want to get them semi soft, but the may point is to get as much flavour in them as possible at this moment.

Next up, add the coconut milk and water. You can also throw in a few sprigs of parsley. Let the mixture simmer for about one hour then transfer to a blender until smooth and creamy. Pour back into the pot and keep on simmer until ready to serve. You can serve with a few sprigs of fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper and salt, and even a drizzle of chipolte olive oil.

This soup is so good, you’ll want to be sure to make leftovers. So feel free to double up on the recipe. I served it with a warm wild rice noodle and kale salad with soy sauce.

Until next time, Bee Well and Eat Well!

Melissa

Take Out Makeover: Veggie Stir Fry with Crispy Tofu

Who Needs Takeout?
Who Needs Takeout?

The other night I was craving chinese food, badly. Well, I could have gone for some Thai as well. Their range of flavors in dishes always hits a warm and fuzzy spot in my stomach.

I was 5 minutes away from ordering up some Vegetable Pad Thai and Moo Shu Chicken when I decided, hey I can make my own dish and feel great about eating a big bowl of it! So, I grabbed the large broccoli head I bought from one of my favorite farmer’s on Saturday’s market out of the fridge with some other staple ingredients I always have and made a super nutritious dish that hit that same fuzzy spot without all of the added junk! The perfect takeout makeover!

Vegetable Stir Fry with Crispy Tofu and Peanuts
Serves 4

1-2 packages Organic Udon Noodles (I love Hakubaku)
1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, julienned
1 hot pepper thinly sliced (or red hot chili flakes)
2 tablespoons organic miso (Try Eden Organic!)
5-7 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon umami paste (Taste #5 is my new go to addition to any meal)
8 ounces firm organic tofu
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/8 cup toasted peanuts
3-4 tablespoons of organic coconut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

First put some water on to boil for the udon noodles. Then in another pan, put a tablespoon of coconut oil and add the spices (ginger,cumin, garlic), then once fragrant add the onions, carrots, broccoli, and hot pepper. Sear the vegetables at medium heat. Once partially cooked, add the miso and mix in with a 1/2 cup of water. You want the vegetables to cook through and steaming them helps.

Make Your Takeout Healthy!
Make Your Takeout Healthy!

Meanwhile in another skillet, add a tablespoon of coconut oil and the bite size firm tofu bites. Sear on all sides. Add the nutritional yeast and toss to coat. Add the peanuts in the same skillet and toast for a few minutes (don’t let it burn!)

Add the cooked udon noodles (they only take a few minutes so cooking them at the last minute is key) to the skillet with all the vegetables in it. Add the umami paste and soy sauce. Toss to coat. Add the tofu on top.

You can even eat it out of a little white box with chopsticks!

 

My Favorite Fall Smoothie

Now that the leaves are slowly changing, the air is getting cooler, and sun is setting earlier, it’s time to break out my favorite autumn smoothie recipe. It’s warming, satisfying and even provides some kick to fight off those allergies and cold symptoms.

Be sure to sue organic apples in your smoothie. According to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, apples have been found to contain the most pesticide residue (a total of 47 different types of pesticide residues) of conventional fruits and vegetables. And since eating the skin of the apple is a great source of fiber, but also where many of the pesticide residue resides, paying a little bit more for organic is essential to stay healthy.

applesWarming Apple Smoothie

1 Organic Apple
1/4 cup organic greek yogurt (I prefer full fat)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 tablespoon hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon organic peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
1 cup almond milk

Blend all the ingredients together in your favorite mixer and you’re set! It’s the perfect way to use some of those apples that are ripe for the picking this time of year!

Recipe: Almond Milk

57147-almond-silver-bowl-medium-originalI enjoy milk. As a kid, I would drink at least a few glasses a day. There’s something about the creaminess of it that just makes me feel all warm inside. Even in the summer, when it’s hot and muggy, sometimes I just want a creamy, cold drink. The wisdom of Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old Indian holistic healing science, suggests that tasting something sweet like milk can activate the soothing pleasure responses in the brain. During a hot summer day, there may be bonus cooling and hydration properties that dampen your pitta (your dosha made of fire and water that may rise during the hot summer months, causing you to be come imbalanced which leads to agitation, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, and digestive problems.)

However, I know that it’s not the best thing for me (but in moderation it is of course). Now, when I still want the creaminess of cow’s milk (or fresh goat’s milk when I can get my hands on it), but I don’t feel like having it go bad in the fridge (a gallon in two weeks is way too much milk for me), I turn to other forms of milk. Yes, there are the hundreds of brands in the stores (soy milk, hemp milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.) but when I read those labels I notice ingredients that I really just don’t want to be putting into my body, including carrageenan and some preservatives that I just can’t pronounce.

Homemade Almond Milk Instead, I make my own almond milk and you should too. It’s super easy and really affordable! And unlike all the store bought brands, you can control exactly what goes into it including your favorite flavors. Almonds provide healthy saturated fat and are ranked the highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin than all of the other tree nuts. Eating just 1.5 ounces of almonds may reduce the risk of heart disease due to their high levels of magnesium which not only reduces bad cholesterol while preserving good cholesterol, but it also helps you regulate blood sugar.

Try out my recipe for almond milk below and I doubt you’ll ever go back. It’s the perfect way to start your day!

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup almonds (soaked in distilled water overnight)
5 cups water
3-4 pitted dates (for natural sweetness)
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cardamon

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. You can also strain the milk with a fine mesh sieve for an even smoother finish.

The best part about this recipe is that you can customize it to your liking. If you like it sweeter, add more dates, honey, or even some maple syrup. I also like heating it up for my own steamed almond milk latte – sans the coffee.

What’s your favorite beverage during the hot summer months?

For the Love of Cauliflower!

IMG_0221I admit it. I’m in love. It’s a great love. One that I expect will continue to excite me for years to come. Hopefully one that will be full of different colors, spices, and flavors. A love that makes me excited because it’s easy, yet will always bring exciting moments to the table. Yes, I’m in love with cauliflower and I don’t care who knows it!

I’ve been lucky enough to plant cauliflower at the farm I’m working at, watch it grow, and eat it. There’s nothing that is more satisfying (well not too many things.) To see those little white pillows hiding in those huge collard like leaves which you then wrap into a ponytail until the big day comes when it’s time to eat it – it’s like playing hide and go seek with your food.

Not only is it fun to plant, tend to, and harvest, but it’s also fun to eat. Especially those big leaves! Before working at the farm, I never knew how delicious those leaves were. Why would they take them off when they sell cauliflower at the supermarket? I don’t know! (Note: Both recipes below call for cauliflower leaves, however if you can only get cauliflower at the supermarket sans leaves – don’t fret! You can use collard greens or kale as a replacement).

And if I wasn’t making you excited enough for some cauliflower recipes, it’s really good for you too (of course!) Since it resembles your brain, it benefits your brain as a good source of choline and Vitamin B, both needed for brain development. It also contains sulforaphane, which has been shown to kill cancer stem cells and slow tumor growth. That same sulforaphane improve blood pressure and kidney function. It’s a known anti-inflammatory which helps calm your immune system and reduce your chances of suffering from countless inflammatory related diseases. And if that wasn’t enough, it also supports your digestive system by detoxifying and providing a good dose of fiber to keep things running smoothly. It’s packed full of vitamins including 77% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C among other vitamins such as vitamin K, thiamin, magnesium, and potassium. See, healthy things are delicious!

Below are two recipes that I’ve made recently with my CSA share. They’re both delicious and will satisfy your hunger despite being vegetarian. Cauliflower is such a hearty vegetable that you don’t even realize you’re not eating meat!

IMG_0222Roasted Cauliflower with Arugula Pesto Pasta

This recipe came about because I needed to use arugula and cauliflower, but I was craving pasta. Presto! Arugula pesto mixed with roasted cauliflower. It’s extremely satisfying. You even get a few doses of your greens for the day – all while eating pasta! It’s like a cheat day, but not!

1/2 lb Fresh Arugula
2 cloves garlic
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
Head and leaves of cauliflower (if you’re getting it at a farmer’s market you’ll have lots of huge, beautiful leaves)
Smoked paprika
1 lb whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup Parmigianno Regiano
6 very thinly sliced pancetta pieces (If you’re vegetarian, feel free to leave this out, I won’t know!)

First roughly chop (into bite size pieces) a whole head of cauliflower, leaves and everything. (If you don’t have cauliflower leaves, chop up collard greens or kale). Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the leaves are crisp and the cauliflower is cooked through.

On another baking sheet, lay thin slices of the pancetta on the sheet and bake until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes). Be aware that it will smoke, so put some fans on!

Bring a pot up to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dante. Drain, reserving a 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the arugla, garlic, Parmigianno Regiano, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil until the mixture comes together to a thick paste.

In a bowl, combine the pasta and pesto. Add a little of the pasta cooking water until the pesto is loosened up enough to coat the pasta. Add the cauliflower, leaves, and crumbled bruschetta. Top with extra cheese if you want!

 

Cauliflower SoupCauliflower Soup 

During our honeymoon in Italy, my husband and I had the best cauliflower soup we’ve ever had. Well it was the first time he’s ever tried it, but it won him over. It was delicate, smooth, and not overpowering. I’ve been trying to recreate it and I think I’ve come pretty close with the below recipe. Of course, I’ve put my own spin on it, making it super healthy (no cream here) without losing any of the flavor.

 

3 tablespoons olive oil
medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
Salt, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop up the leaves of the cauliflower (you can use collards or kale instead). Toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bake for 15 minutes until the leaves are crisp.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat. Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil (I like to use chipolte flavored oil), freshly ground black pepper, the cauliflower “chips” and toasted whole wheat bread cut in cubes.

Talking Health with Teenagers

Health is an interesting subject. We’re living in a world where “health” is the new hit topic along with “organic,” “gluten-free,” “vegan,” “animal rights,” and “meatless Mondays.” With so much information going around, it’s sometimes hard to remember what the actual goal really is: to be healthy. 

Healthy-livin

But what does “healthy” actually mean? Does anyone really know? Is everyone’s definition of “health” different? Is it really just about being free from illness and disease or is it something more than if we’re a vegan, or if we’re a runner, or if we meditate. Is there something else that we need to focus on to really be “healthy?”

What Does it Mean to “Be Healthy?”

I was confronted with this question a few weeks ago when I was asked to speak in front of a group of high school students on the topic of health. As someone who thinks about health constantly, I took a step back to see just what makes someone “healthy.” Is it the food that they eat? The amount of exercise they get? Whether they’re stressed or not? How much television they watch?

Turns out, when I really think about it, health is an attribute that is directly effected by the countless decisions you make everyday, from the food you put in your body, to how you move your body, to what you’re thinking, and what you believe. At least in my humble opinion.

teaching-childrenSo as a jumping off point to my presentation, I asked the high school students what they thought health really meant. They replied with various answers: “well-being,” “not being sick,” “eating good food,” “exercising.” None of these answers are wrong. Health takes into account all of these factors and so many more.

I believe that that’s what’s missing from today’s “health talks.”

Yes, the food that you put in your body is an integral part of your body’s reactions, however even if you’re eating the best food possible, if you don’t have direction or aren’t moving your body or feel like you’re a part of something, then it’s not complete. You’re not whole yet.

Even though I only had 40 minutes, I touched on this subject lightly and then dove into nutrition, because I do believe that when you feed your body whole foods, you’re more likely to want to move your body, have a clearer mind, and want to live a fuller life. My goal was to reach the younger generation and get them to realize that good food is possible, it’s delicious, it’s affordable, and it will help them soar to greater heights, helping them play harder on the tennis court, be more focused in the classroom, and be a better sister, brother, son, daughter, friend, etc. 

abstrackt culinary backgroundDuring my short time with them, I was happy to see that I had the attention of the majority of students (I had tough competition with the iPhones), but I think it was my demonstration of sugar that really blew their mind, which I was hoping to do at least once in my presentation.

I didn’t want to shatter their lives, which in the end doesn’t let them change anything because their just so overwhelmed by the information that it’s almost like “oh well, it’s too much for me so I’ll just continue what I’m doing.” I wanted to give them another option, an option that allows them to take a piece of the information that I was giving them, for example that when you eat a lot of processed foods you also eat a lot of sugar and you don’t even realize it, and leverage it.

To just teach them how to read the ingredient label and nutrition label is something that they can use without telling them “don’t eat that, or this, or the other thing.” It’s impossible to change someone’s diet in a day. Well nothing is impossible, but it’s improbable that they will stick with it! 

When I entered that gym, I knew that my main concern was to get these young adults to think a little bit more about the food that they’re putting into their bodies. That it matters on so many levels. And as I stood at the table after my presentation, countless kids coming up to me to ask me questions, take home the recipe handouts and yogurt coupons and hoping to eat a fresh mango or pear, I smiled to myself. This is what a food revolution is about. This is where it’s going to stick. This is where the youth of America will take the reigns to demand fresh, nutritious, and affordable food. This is the home of the catalyst. And I just want to be there to help keep the embers glowing brighter and brighter.

To learn more, contact me below or at info@mbeewell.com

 

Stay healthy, happy, and focused and of course, “Bee” Well,

Melissa

 

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