Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kickin' It Up A Notch

Fiesta Chopped Salad with Lime & Honey Dressing

Since I have been reading Eat to Live
Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, 
I  have learned the importance for a volume of mixed vegetables, (2 lbs a day he says to be the goal) getting in a variety of colors, and the many health benefits of beans. So I was thinking of ways to incorporate a greater mix of colorful veggies and beans and came up with this spicy little number. 

I just loved chopped salads and the way you get a mix of flavors in every bite. I even branched out and added some veggies that alone are not my favs but are so worth the vitamins and minerals and guess what? Mixed in they are subtle enough to just add to the overall flavor without being noticeable.

I mixed this all up last night and Mr. "I don't like salads much" devoured 2/3 of the huge bowl! Since Dr. Fuhrman says vegetables and beans can be eaten in unlimited quantities, it's all good.

The Tossed Fiesta Chopped Salad

The Recipe:

The Salad Ingredients:
black beans, corn salsa, jicama, romaine, red pepper, radish, tomatoes, carrots, green onions, avocado
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 can 15.5 oz organic low salt black beans, rinsed and well drained
1 1/2 cup chopped jicama (I actually had picked up some jicama sticks from the the store and chopped)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 radishes, grated
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup green onions, diced
1/2 avocado, diced
2 cups raw or blanched corn or corn salsa (secret ingredient -see below)

Put Greens in bottom of large bowl. Layer remaining ingredients except avocado in decorative piles around top if you like.
When ready to serve, toss with dressing and plate with avocado added to the top.

Fiesta Salad Plated With Avocado

Lime & Honey Dressing
EVOO, honey, cilantro, lime, jalapeño, garlic
2 tbsp honey
3 limes, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp chopped and seeded jalapeño pepper or more to taste

Mix together

A word about the corn salsa:
Trader Joes' Corn and Chili Tomato Less Salsa

I found this on my last trip to Trader Joe's and thought it worth a try. It's not raw but it is really delicious! I barely could keep R from eating it all up while I prepared the salad. I can see just adding black beans or even mango and beans to it and eating it as a salad by itself.

Fiesta Salad With Added Brown Rice

If you are wanting a little more hearty of a meal, or want to stretch your leftovers, you could add some brown rice to it as well. Although, this salad is really filling on it's own.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Live Now- Lessons From My Sister

"Lots of people live as if they were going to live forever, believing that a certain time in their lives they will finally be ready to give themselves the permission to live the life they've always wanted to live...Lots of people die without having lived."

I read this quote today in a book by Geneen Roth. It made me think of my sister, Lauren. I remember her saying once that this was the time in her life when she thought she could finally start doing some of the things she had always wanted to do. After a life of being a stay at home wife and mother with one child with disabilities and another one very healthy and rambunctious, the kids were finally raised and moving on.  She had started working and making her own money and was a recognized star at her international company. She was finally starting to blossom into her own self with plans for the future. She was a great devoted mom and loved that part of her life but nevertheless this was so exciting to see.

This was her time. But cancer had other plans. She was 47 when the cancer was found and it was stage 4.  It changed everything.

Five years ago, I went to visit her back in Connecticut. It was the end of her five year fight. I was there for a couple of weeks and in that time she taught me so much. She was so focused on life. The beauty of life, the privilege of every moment.  It really opened my eyes.

Lauren's Lessons:

1.  Don't give time to negative things or thoughts.
She would not dwell on negative things and instead would try to find the brighter side or lesson to look at in it.  When a conversation became unpleasant or about unpleasantness, she politely ended it or removed herself. She did not watch things that made her sad or were negative either.

2.  Focus on things that make you laugh each day.
She sought out movies, shows or books that made her laugh. She started ever morning with the Ellen show and laughed and loved the dancing! One day we actually sat and watch the comedy film, Saving Grace three times because she wanted everyone that came by to see it and laugh with her. I will always remember her laugh because of that film.

3.  Spend time each day out enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature.
As a painter she had a special appreciation for her surroundings.  Spring had sprung while I was there and everyday we would get in the car and go for a drive. If she was up for it, we would walk and sit in nature and just watch and listen. Soaking it all in.  I took my camera and snapped photos that would later be in a book she could keep with her when she could no longer go out. Some are in the slideshow above.

4.  Search out beautiful things and appreciate them.
Whether it was walking down a quaint street or visiting an art gallery or antiques shop. We went to appreciate beautiful things.

5.  Forgive everyone, including yourself.
Guilt and grievances are too much of a burden to carry. Whatever people had done to harm or hurt her, were forgiven. The past was put in the past. Each day was a new one.

6.  Surround yourself with people who appreciate you.
No time for drama or people that wear you out. Their lives are out of your control and power.  They needed to be let go.  Enjoy every moment that you have with your friends and family and make it pleasant.

7.  Spend time connecting with your spirit and/ or God.
Find time to read that which lifts your spirit. Seek others that can share spiritual insight and guidance.

8.  Eat what you enjoy and savor every bite.
Life is too short for diets but also too short to feel ill from unworthy food. Make the splurges worth it. If it is not absolutely delicious and made with love, stop eating.

9.  Be yourself and be kind to yourself.
This includes adequate rest. If others don't approve or understand of you or your boundaries, then that's their problem. You need to do what is right for you.

10.  Find ways to bring joy to others.  
I don't know exactly how she did this one but she did. I think it was by using all the other steps above. She also knew how to listen, really listen so that you felt heard. This was part of wanting to have real connections with people.

I found in interesting that the one word that everyone used to describe her was- Grace. She may not have fulfilled her plans for the future but I think God had other plans for her.  She brought these lessons to so  many before she left.

So What About You?

Some people put off for the future what they truly want for their lives.  Thinking that when they have more money, or more time or are thin, they can start living as they want.  That's one of the worst: "When I am thin I will..." and then they spend their whole lives trying to get thin.

Ask Yourself These Questions :
and list at least 5 answers.

1.  If I knew I was going to die next year, I would.....

2.  If I knew I was going to die next month, I would.....

3.  If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would....

Really spend some time on these and look at the answers. What are you waiting for? Make a point to take something from each list and make it a priority now. 

Give yourself permission to Start Living- Now!

This thought process and exercise was inspired by Geneen Roth in her book, Why Weight.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

love, Love, LOVE Summer Fruit Season!!

Jumble Berry Upside Down Cake

With all the berries and summer fruit coming into season, this little cake has been on my mind. It is sooo good and a huge favorite in our house.

With summer around the corner, this dessert will make you a star with friends and family.
It's super easy and so much better than any cake with processed flour, sugar, milk, and butter and no baking! Actually forget I even mentioned all those because it takes very few ingredients and little set up time to have something absolutely delicious!

Get ready because everyone will be asking for the recipe. It's that good!

Prep time is about 10 minutes total and set up is 1/2 hour to overnight, so great to make ahead of time for a party. I have found that a little longer set up time is better.

Total Ingredients:
sea salt, coconut, strawberries, walnuts, agave, blueberries, raspberries, dates

For Shortbread Crumble:
sea salt, unsweetened coconut, walnuts, dates.

Ready to Assemble:
These berries could have been mushed up and sweetened a little more- so taste while making.

Ready to Serve:
Note: I increased the recipe by half to accommodate a larger pan.

I did a pattern with just strawberries on top and the blueberries and raspberries in the bottom layer, so it's not quite as jumbled but that's the beauty of this recipe. 

Plus you can use any kind of fruit that fits your fancy or season for this. Always a winner!

Don't forget this for 4th of July picnics.
The colors are just perfect.

Here is Jennifer Cornbleet showing how easy this is to make.

Recipe from Jennifer Cornbleet 

Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

For Filling:

1 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon light agave syrup
2 1/2 cups Shortbread Crust (see next recipe)
1. Place the berries and agave syrup in a medium mixing bowl and toss to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Place half of the berries on the paper. Top with
half of the Shortbread Crust, distributing it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact. Repeat with the
remaining berries, and then cover with the remaining crust.
3. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours before serving.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on
the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.
Covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator, Jumble Berry Upside-Down Cake will keep for 2 days.

Shortbread Crust

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
1 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 pitted medjool dates
1. Place the coconut, walnuts, and salt in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process until finely
ground. Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Don’t overprocess.
Stored in a sealed container, Shortbread Crust will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. The crust doesn’t need to be thawed before using.

It took summer fruit season to get me out of hiding. Sorry I went MIA but I promise to share more of my adventures of getting raw and getting healthy.


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