So the sun finally came out over the weekend and even though it was not warm I was getting outside. Besides the usual stacking wood…stacking wood…and stacking wood. We worked on the fruit trees and I ventured into the vegetable garden. I must admit I have not paid the garden much attention this winter. I usually plant some greens in fall and then quickly lose interest.
I did not expect to find much, but to my surprise there was a bounty of Swiss chard! Rainbow chard actually it was just beautiful. I was going to have to plan a dish and it was perfect timing for my favorite Single gal Pasta.
I have to admit that in my house Swiss chard is a bit of a hard sell as far as the greens go. I’ve tried it in; sauces, an amazing quiche, eggs and other dishes-but they always seem to notice it. I however love it and this week with the house to myself-that is all that matters.
This dish is full of my guys not so loved ingredients; onions, goat cheese and of course the chard. Does anyone else out there sneak in their faves when they have the house to themselves? Feels pretty right on to me!
I hope you give this simple pasta a try and I like it with a glass of red wine, alone and parked in front of a new episode of rehab addict. Get out into the garden or pick up some winter greens and enjoy!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, thin sliced
- 1/2 box pasta, cooked according to package directions (suggest: capanella, rigatoni or bow tie)
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard (trim large pieces of stem and chop leaves)
- 1/4 cup Chicken broth
- 6 tablespoons goat cheese
- salt & pepper
- In a large frying pan add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add red onion slices, salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute on medium and turn heat to low. Continue to sauté until soft and cooked through. Turn heat to medium and add chopped Swiss chard, broth and pepper. Sauté until wilted 3-5 minutes. Add in cooked and drained pasta. Toss to coat and add in goat cheese a teaspoon hunk at a time. Stir in cheese to coat the noodles.
- The goat cheese and caramelized onion combination with the Swiss chard really is amazing. The goat cheese acts likes a sauce and coats every noodle. Use a noodle that you love that is hearty and will catch all the good bits.
I don’t know about you , but after a month of what feels like to many desserts, chocolates, cheese and aged meats-I was not feeling like my best self. A cleanse can be a good way to bring you back to food awareness and to good eating habits that make you feel good.
Let me be clear-I did not fast! I am advocating a weekend of laying low eating healthfully and drinking water frequently while removing heavy foods, stimulants and intoxicants from your diet. Ideally this would be a weekend of rest and relaxation. If you cant lay low than you can just do a few of these things mindfully. Otherwise embrace it and enjoy a weekend that is just about you.
Our cleanse story:
Our cleanse started out great on a Saturday morning with glasses of water with a good squeeze of lemon. Surprisingly my guy who-I have to say was not to excited about the idea of cleansing and really thought I was finally going all “nutritionist” on him- was on board.
There was no coffee and no yummy usual Saturday morning breakfast with bacon and sausage. Instead there was oatmeal for him and kale eggs and whole grain toast for me.
We did relax a bit for the morning- but we were couch shopping this weekend and super excited to do so-so we were off to town. Sitting in couches seemed like an ok activity for this weekend. During our errands we did pick up a couple iced green teas without sweetener from Starbucks-delicious detox! We only went to two stores and the last errand was to the grocery store for healthy salad and soup fixings. I found myself alone at the cart which isn’t new but soon turned the corner by the deli to discover my guy snacking on three chicken fingers. I reminded him that fried…greasy…meats…were not cleansing! Of course he explained that he was near death and was not going to make it to our salads, apparently. So-there was that. This is a good reminder that healthy snacks should also be included in your cleanse in order to keep the energy/calories up-and avoid grabbing inappropriate foods. We returned home and did make those healthy salads. My favorite salad from the weekend was the fennel, orange, butter lettuce and parsley salad-it was so refreshing with the soup.
We had a very relaxing afternoon. Later that afternoon I made up our HerbPharm Liver Support milk thistle blend extract in water in shot glasses and we toasted to our health. My guy said it was the worse thing he has ever had in a shot glass. We made a white bean kale soup for dinner and another big salad and it was delicious. We really embraced the relaxing vibe for the evening. There was soaking in the bath, lounging by the fire and ended the evening with a movie without devices.
Things were going great But then…we got an invitation from friends to a new food place in town that we could not turn down. So we-mostly me-made a healthy eating plan. It is a wine and small plates kind of place so I got on line and checked their menu. Roasted Brussels sprouts and rice paper veggie rolls-check. If we could go and order those and only have one glass of red wine I would still be feeling great. So we toasted with a round of milk thistle shots and headed out to enjoy some good company. I ended up ordering a salad with my brussls sprouts which were delicious and had a single rice paper veggie roll half. I did stick with my one glass of cabernet. I will not mention the pot pie my partner had…oops.
So I may have adjusted this plan to fit my life but I was inspired and spent the entire next work week starting my day with the lemon water before my workouts, packing healthy complex beautiful salads with lunches, including healthful fruit and nuts for snacks, keeping my portions smaller, avoiding sweets, candy and chocolate and even tossing some from the holiday, taking my milk thistle shot and drinking my warm zen green teas at work. And I feel great and my body feels more balanced and regular again.
If you want to try this for yourself I wish you the best of luck and advise you to take on only what feels right for you and what you can achieve. I hope you feel as great as I did!
Tips for your Winter Cleanse
- Have a glass of water with lemon first thing every morning.
- Include a salad with lunch and dinner with powerful detoxifying ingredients:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Sweet Potatoes
- Garlic & Onion
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts
- Enjoy Soups full of vegetables, greens, beans/lentils, herbs and spices.
- Eliminate caffeine and alcohol. You can take this as far as comfortable full caffeine detox is very achievable, but will take some support. So if your a 3 cup a day person maybe try 1-2 cups and a green tea and make sure and not put to many demands on yourself over the weekend.
- Take a break from meat and use beans, peas and lentils instead.
- Avoid greasy, cheesy, fried, preserved, and salty foods.
- Try some detox herbs in teas or extract form to support your liver: Milk thistle or Dandelion Root. (Note: Those of you allergic to ragweed and plants like it should avoid Milk thistle & Dandelion. Additionally if taking pharmaceuticals or if you are in a disease state please check with your pharmaisist or doctor before adding anything to your routines to avoid drug interactions. If pregnant or breastfeeding-don’t cleanse without the help of a practitioner.)
- Use detox spices in your cooking and cut back on the salt:
- Soak in warm baths or even better sauna if available. Remember to hydrate well, cool down gradually and follow all health precautions at your sauna.
- Drink 7-8 glasses of pure delicious water a day.
- Drink a couple of mugs of green tea or iced green tea (no sweetener)-a powerful antioxidant!
- Rest and stay warm. Sit by the fire or under a blanket, read and relax. Take a media fast=no bad news, no ipad, no over stimulation.
- Include light movement, walk or stretch, try some light gentle yoga poses.
- If you are spiritual sit, pray, meditate.
- Shock your system with short burst of cold=Hydrotherapy! Hydrotherapy is healing it basically increases circulation. My favorite way to do this is to walk outside with bare feet for a few minutes then right back in to warm up. You can get a more effective and more thrilling effect by changing the shower water to cold and let it hit your core for 10 seconds then back to warm. You can do this two or three times during your shower, but end on warm. The most important thing to remember is that you quickly come back to a warm and cozy temperature.
DONT CLEANSE if your sick, working, pregnant, post-partum, competing in sports or training-these are all special nutrition needs situations so just take care of yourself first.
Note: When I use the word Detox I am referring to processes already occurring in your body. The foods herbs and lifestyle tips above help support those ongoing attempts by your body to create health.
I do not advocate juice cleanses or fasting or any other extreme calorie restricted cleansing for the average person. I do like juices and smoothies but winter is not the best time for these foods. Cleansing in today’s busy world should not involve fasting. I recommended fasting only in special circumstances and always working with a practitioner. We need calories and energy for all that we do and we do a lot. A better approach is to fuel yourself through your cleanse and be really pure about your food and beverage choices and activities.
Winter weather is setting in here in northern California and warm cozy desserts to share with friends are on the menu. My latest creation was a pear, apple cranberry crisp that was simple to make and my friends were just plain crazy about.
A crisp is not a difficult dessert to create-and that is why I love them. The truth is I had a bunch of Bartlett pears getting really ripe so I took advantage of them along with a big bowl of apples from the farmers market. Combined with a little leftover thanksgiving hankering for cranberry and some dried cranberries from the pantry we had a dish.
For many the ingredients for a crisp are at hand. Seasonal fruits can be used for the filling and toppings usually include butter, flour and sugar combined with oats, nuts and spices. I like to lead with the oats and include some wheat flour because nobody misses the white flour. I also like to add in more nuts (there’s those a-monds again) and spices.
The house will smell amazing and your friends will swoon. Top with healthful plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or a scoop of REAL vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
- 3 large Bartlett Pears
- 3 Granny Smith Apples
- 1 cup Dried Cranberries
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups oatmeal
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and sliced (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 stick unsalted butter (cold)
- Preheat Oven to 375 deg F
- Peel, core and slice apples and pears and place in a large bowl. To the bowl add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, flour and spices. Stir gently to combine.
- In a medium bowl combine oatmeal topping ingredients except the butter. Stir to combine.
- Cut cold butter into slices and work with a pastry blender to mix into dry ingredients. The goal is to have little pieces of butter distributed throughout the mixture. Pour fruit mixture into 13"x9"x2" glass baking dish top liberally with oatmeal topping.
- Bake for 45 minutes over a baking sheet (to catch any bubble overs). Check and rotate and bake up to 15 minutes longer until browned on top and bubbling.
- Note: You can substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugars and feel free to use even less sweetener. I have even used tablespoons of maple syrup on a crisp when I was covering super sweet summer stone fruits.
- Some may substitute coconut oil for butter and that works well also.
Oh the pomegranate! So much work so little pleasure…WHAT! No-Not really. What I mean is I can commit to freeing half of the arils from their shell then I get a little bored and I would never get enough to juice them. Looking for opportunities to easily include pomegranates I discovered a beautiful local cooking sauce; SkyLake Ranch Pomegranite Balsamic Grill Sauce. It has exactly the sweet and tart taste that I love about pomegranates only elevated. It is the perfect glaze for my holiday meatballs.
I love when savory meat dishes join together with bright flavors like herbs and tangy fruit and that is what this hearty appetizer gives you. It does not get heartier or more versatile than the meat ball and this is a must have dish for your Christmas party. Add in a pop of greens (of course!), lemon zest, herbs and pomegranate and you have the perfect starter or main. The pomegranate balsamic glaze can be made from reduced pomegranate juice with balsamic or purchased from a pom sauce purveyor. This is definitely an antioxidant boost upgrade from the vintage grape jelly meatball recipe and is great option for your throwback vintage Christmas cocktail party.
These meatballs start off on the stove top for perfect browning but finish in the slow cooker making for super easy party prep. Cheers!
PS: Sorry we ate these too fast to take pictures!
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, Italian
- 2 tbs parsley leaves
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 pinch chili flakes (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups pomegranate balsamic grilling sauce
- 1/4 cup feta
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Make meatballs by combining turkey, salt, pepper, garlic, breadcrumbs, herbs, and egg in a large bowl. Gently combine all ingredients using your hands or a spatula. Pinch off small hunks and roll in the palm of your hands to form into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Continue with all of the meatball mixture until meatballs are formed.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add in 1/2 the meatballs but do not crowd the pan. Flip when just browned on one side, brown on other side and remove to paper towel lined tray. Continue with the remainder of the meatballs. Place meatballs in the bottom of your slow cooker. cover with pomegarnite sauce and set on low for 2-3 hours.
- When ready to serve plate meatballs top with feta, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Plate on a beautiful serving dish with toothpicks.
- This recipe yields about 20 meatballs and I figured two per person on a buffet with other foods. Adjust as necessary to meet your party needs.
The weather is changing and it is time for a spicy warm antioxidant power house treat!
Admittedly, I may be suffering from a little, “and what else is better with Matcha ..?”
It is true- that’s how I got here-with a little experimentation, but the results are fabulous! When there is a chill in the air foamy warm Mexican hot chocolate with its deep chocolate flavor and subtle spice is a favorite of mine.
This version adds in just a touch of green tea earthy goodness. Try it with your favorite milk or unsweetened non-milk beverage and work up that foam.
A cup of this may give you an extra nutrition boost from the matcha and cinnamon, but it is still a warm cup of liquid sugar. So keep it small, indulge irregularly, hold it close and savor every sip.
- 1 cup milk or milk alternative of your choosing
- ¼ of Mexican chocolate (Ibarra…)
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Matcha green tea powder
- Combine milk, chocolate and cinnamon in a small heavy bottom pot over low heat. Stir frequently with whisk or molinillo (Mexican Hot Chocolate) until well combined and foamy. Do not boil. Add in Matcha and mix thoroughly. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.
- Tip: Add the Matcha into a small amount of the hot chocolate first and then add the remaining hot chocolate. This is an easier way to dissolve the Matcha and smooth out any lumps that might form.
- The measurements can be expanded to make larger batches perfectly. Additionally, the molinillo is best for use in larger or deep batches of this recipe-, it makes amazing foam.