Eating With the Season: Bok Choy & Shrimp Stir Fry

Bok choy (also called Chinese cabbage) is another veggie you might be seeing around town a lot these days.  “Like its other cruciferous cousins, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens, bok choy is not only an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, but also contains the precursors for unique sulfur-containing phytonutrients, such as indole-3-carbinole (I3C) and sulforaphane, which are produced as a result of cutting, chewing or digesting cabbage.  Cabbage’s sulfur compounds help activate and stabilize the body’s antioxidant and detoxification mechanisms, and, increase the liver’s ability to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially toxic substances.”  (source)

If you’ve never cooked bok choy, don’t be intimidated by the name.  It’s easy and tasty!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head bok choy
  • 8 oz Shiitaki mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C carrots, shredded
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 1 TBS soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 TBS Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper sauce
  • 1 lb shrimp

PREPARATION:

  1. Trim off the ends of the bok choy and chop, keeping the white parts separate from the green as they will need to cook longer. Rinse and spin or pat dry. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl or cup stir together the water, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, curry paste and red pepper sauce. Set this aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy stems and carrots first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the stems start to turn a pale green. Then add the mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes more.  When stems are almost cooked, add the leaves and sauce; cook and stir until leaves are just wilted and sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Steam the shrimp and add it to the veggies or serve separately. 

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Fight Back Friday with Food Renegade.

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Strawberry Vinaigrette

This post is part of a weekly series in which I give ideas for eating off the grid.  In other words…fringe eating.  I know that in the past I’ve mentioned my disdain for store bought salad dressing and provided a few recipes for easy homemade dressings.  This really is a simple way that you clean up your diet.  It’s delicious and so much healthier than any sugar laced dressing you’ll find at the store.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 quart strawberries, sliced
  • 10 cups chopped spinach or mixed greens of any kind
  • nuts or seeds

In a blender or food processor combine 6 strawberries, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and puree until smooth.  Pour the dressing over greens and mix well.   Top with the remaining sliced strawberries and nuts or seeds as well as any other veggies you would like (red onions are nice addition).  Add grilled chicken or blue cheese if you feel you need a little more protein.

Strawberries are an amazingly healthy food so enjoy them while they last this season.  Just one cup of these beautiful berries has 141% of the RDA of vitamin C.  Because vitamin C helps with iron absorption, strawberries and spinach make a great combo!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Fringe Fitness Friday: Open Your Heart

©iStockphoto.com/czanner

As a massage therapist and yoga teacher I’ve worked with 100’s of clients and students, but I can count the major complaints on two hands:  tight hips, tight shoulders, neck pain, low back pain, heel pain, headaches, anxiety, depression…you get the idea.  Good nutrition is always helpful and can certainly improve mood and reduce inflammation, but sometimes we need to call in the big guns!

So in place of Movie Night, I’ve decided to change the Friday format to include some of my other areas of interest and expertise:  fitness/yoga, stress management and self-care/massage.   Don’t worry, when I come across some more good YouTube videos I’ll be sure to share!

Most of us spend the majority of the day working in front of ourselves.  Whether we are typing, reading, driving or holding children, the arms are forward and the muscles of the chest are shortened & tightened while muscles of the back are stretched & weakened.  You may have noticed in the mirror or in a picture that your shoulders roll forward slightly and depending on your age and job you might even have developed some rounding of the thoracic spine as well.  This condition, called postural kyphosis, used to be reserved for the elderly, but I’ve seen it in teenagers recently!  Not only is it pretty unattractive, it is one of the primary causes of back pain, neck pain, migraines and weak hips.  Tight muscles also go hand in hand with anxiety.  It seems to be a chicken and egg scenario with some saying that anxiety causes muscle tightness and others saying that muscles tightness causes anxiety.  I’m not sure it matters which came first, but I am absolutely sure that relaxing your muscles (especially the pectoral muscles of the chest) can improve anxiety.

If I could give one yoga Rx to everyone I know it would be this simple stretch.  Find 10 – 15 minutes each day and set up in a quiet, low lit area of your home or office.  Roll up a dense towel or blanket and lie down so that the roll goes right across your shoulder blades.  The tops of your shoulders should drop off of the roll and stretch down toward the floor.  Put your arms out like the letter T with palms facing up.  If your neck feels unsupported add a pillow under your head or a smaller towel roll under your neck.  Depending on your level of flexibility you may have to make the shoulder roll thicker or thinner, softer or harder.  You should feel a stretch across your chest but it shouldn’t be so deep that you can’t comfortably lie here and breathe for 10 – 15 minutes.   

Most of us work hard and play harder and beat ourselves up pretty good along the way  So it’s important to take some time each day to unwind and undo some of the damage that comes with life and age.  Even if you’ve already begun to notice the effects of poor posture and repetitive stress it’s not too late to make a difference.  With the proper stretching and strengthening you can make some major changes in both your posture and your daily comfort level.  That being said, please see a licensed health professional if you are experiencing daily pain or frequent anxiety…. and even if you’re feeling pretty good a little preventative maintenance can go a long way!

Be Well,
April

Eating With the Season: Garlic Scape Pesto

As we move into the summer months and my CSA gets into full swing, I’d like to begin a new weekly feature:  Eating With the Season!  In these posts I’ll provide recipes for some of the more obscure veggies that you might see in your CSA box or at your local farmer’s market…or in your very own garden.  This feature (and this week’s recipe) is inspired by the folks at Potomac Vegetable Farms.

Each year with the first few veggie deliveries I get a bunch of these beautiful garlic scapes.  These is one of my favorite spring harvests, though I admit I had no idea what to do with them the first time I saw them in my share.  Now that I’ve perfected this recipe, I can’t wait for these curly green guys to show up in my CSA box.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 – 8 garlic scapes
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil leaves
  • juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 C)
  • 1 C olive oil
  • 3-4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt

PREPARATION:
Coarsely chop garlic scapes and put into the food processor along with basil, lemon juice and salt.  Process until smooth and then slowly drizzle olive oil in through the feed tube while continuing to process. 

Remove the lid and add half of the cheese and process for a few minutes.  Then add the rest of the cheese and process for a few minutes more.

This pesto is great with pasta and also makes a great marinade for grilled chicken or fish, a nice salad dressing, an excellent dip and an awesome spread for crostini.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This recipe was shared on Fight Back Friday with Food Renegade

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Shake & Bake

Although the giveaway has ended I’d like to keep the Wednesdays Without Barcodes feature going for a while longer, and perhaps I’ll start another giveaway here soon.

This post is part of a weekly series in which I give ideas for eating off the grid.  In other words…fringe eating.  Here is a recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods…”Shake’N Bake!”  You could use this to coat chicken or pork, baked or fried.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups dry bread crumbs (whole wheat or sourdough works great!)
  • 2 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 pinch dried basil leaves
  • 1 pinch dried parsley
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1/3 C olive oil

PREPARATION:
Mix all dry ingredients in a large zip lock bag and shake to mix.  Add olive oil and massage through bag.  Rinse chicken (or pork) and place in bag.  Shake to coat.  Bake or fry as you normally would.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This recipe was shared on Real Food Wednesdays with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Homemade Garlic Powder

Continuing with my anti-barcode condiment kick, here is a recipe from another REAL food blogger, also named April oddly enough!  I’m copying her recipe for homemade garlic powder below, but please check out her blog, My Home Healthier, as well.  She has some great ideas and easy recipes such as this one:

Homemade Garlic Powder* (from My Home Healthier)

Ingredients:

Organic Garlic Cloves

Directions:

  1. Peel garlic cloves, and slice thin.
  2. Place the garlic slices in 150F degree oven and heat until dry. *The garlic is dry when you can crush it in your hand and it crumbles easily. 
  3. Allow the garlic to cool. Grind with food processor or mortar and pestle until you reach your desired consistency. 
  4. Store finished garlic powder in an air-tight container.

Thanks for the recipe April.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that! And this is yet another food preparation activity in which you can include your kids.  It amazes me how jobs that I find incredibly tedious (i.e. peeling garlic) will entertain my toddlers for hours…well maybe a half hour anyway…OK, 15 minutes!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April


*RECIPE NOTES:
You could definitely use your dehydrator for this as well.  I try to use mine whenever possible to justify the cost!  If you don’t have a dehydrator or your oven does not go down to 150° (mine doesn’t either), do not despair.  Try this trick instead:

Set your oven to the lowest possible temperature and put it on the convection setting if you have that option.  Prop the oven door open a bit so that it stays cooler (I use my metal 1/8 measuring cup).  You’ve just turned your oven into a dehydrator, sort of!

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Giveaway Ends at Midnight

Today is the last day to enter the Fringe Eating inaugural giveaway.  The winner receives a DVD of the movie Farmageddon.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

MORE ABOUT FARMAGEDDON:

“Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.”

Kiddie Kvass

Lacto-fermented beverages such as kefir, kvass and kombucha are a great substitution for soda and concentrated juice drinks.  They are just sweet enough and just fizzy enough to pass for naughty, but in reality they are super healthy beverages that support both digestion and immune function.  Finally, a “soft drink” that you want your kids to drink (see more reasons at the end of this post)!

If you are having trouble getting fermented foods into your family’s diet, start with drinks instead.  Just an ounce or two a day is plenty for toddlers and you may even want to water it down at first if they are unaccustomed to eating and drinking fermented foods.

This kiddie kvass recipe is adapted from the wonderful Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well.  It’s quick and easy and a great recipe in which you can involve the kids both in the planning and preparation.  

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 apple (any kind)
  • 1 kiwi
  • 6- 8 strawberries
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 C whey

PREPARATION:
Coarsely chop all of the fruit and place it in a large glass jar along with the ginger and whey.  There should be about an inch of space left at the top to allow the fermentation to occur.  Cap the jar tightly and allow it to ferment for 3 days.  Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this may take a little less or a little more time.  When it is done, the lid should feel tight.  Strain the liquid and discard/compost the fruit.  Refrigerate and serve.

Once you are comfortable making fermented beverages mix it up a bit.  Let your kids plan what fruit they want to try and help them make a list and shop for the fruit.  I go for a ratio of about 1/2 fruit and 1/2 whey once it’s in the jar.  If you come up with an especially yummy recipe, please share it here!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

More About Fermented Beverages:

In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon writes, “Throughout the world, these lactic-acid-containing drinks have been valued for medicinal qualities including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation, promote lactation, strengthen the sick and promote overall well-being and stamina. Above all, these drinks were considered superior to plain water in their ability to relieve thirst during physical labor.”

From the WAPF Website

  • “Fermented beverages infuse the gut with lactobacilli and lactic acid to sustain their growth, as well as serve up a nice array of enzymes and nourishing minerals.”
  • “When it comes to fermented beverages, a little goes a long way. Not only are they super- hydrating and supportive to the intestinal ecosystem, but lacto-fermented beverages are also quite detoxifying. The process of lacto-fermentation with both foods and beverages creates a host of beneficial micro-organisms. Many of these bacteria are crucial to detoxification.”
  • “Because of these powerful properties, the average adult will do well to consume around four to six ounces and a child would need even less at one time. Quite small amounts might be best for those just getting started. A person’s optimal quantity can also be influenced by his unique sensitivity and the strength of the beverage. A good place to start a toddler would be with a few tablespoons mixed into a blend.”