California Eatin'

Winter Swiss Chard & A Single gals Pasta

Savory, Winter | February 6, 2016 | By

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.

Garden Chard

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!

Chard Pasta 1

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!

Chard Pasta

Single gals Pasta
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Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 red onion, thin sliced
  3. 1/2 box pasta, cooked according to package directions (suggest: capanella, rigatoni or bow tie)
  4. 1 bunch Swiss Chard (trim large pieces of stem and chop leaves)
  5. 1/4 cup Chicken broth
  6. 6 tablespoons goat cheese
  7. salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. 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.
Notes
  1. 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.
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A Winter Weekend Cleanse

Winter | January 16, 2016 | By

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. 

Lemon water 2

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. 

Kale eggs

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. 

Fennel Salad

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. 
White bean kale soup

Sunday started out well with more lemon water, another oatmeal for him and a poached egg with kale on baked sweet and red potatoes for me.  I did some light yoga and my guy went to play golf. 
Poached egg

Lunch was leftover soup and another great salad with raw kale, Brussels sprouts and carrots . 
White bean lunch

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

  1. Have a glass of water with lemon first thing every morning.
  2. Include a salad with lunch and dinner with powerful detoxifying ingredients: 
    • Fennel
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Garlic & Onion
    • Avocado
    • Apples
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts
  3. Enjoy Soups full of vegetables, greens, beans/lentils, herbs and spices.
  4. 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.
  5. Take a break from meat and use beans, peas and lentils instead.
  6. Avoid greasy, cheesy, fried, preserved, and salty foods.
  7. 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.)
  8. Use detox spices in your cooking and cut back on the salt:
    • Cinnamon
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Cayenne
  9. 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.
  10. Drink 7-8 glasses of pure delicious water a day.  
  11. Drink a couple of mugs of green tea or iced green tea (no sweetener)-a powerful antioxidant!
  12. 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.
  13. Include light movement, walk or stretch, try some light gentle yoga poses.
  14. If you are spiritual sit, pray, meditate.
  15. 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.