Living the WELL Life

Feel Great Now - by Christina Pirello

Monday, September 06, 2010

If I had a nickel for every time I heard people say they want to get healthy but don't know how I'd be a very rich woman.  I think sometimes we view getting healthy as a destination point and not a journey.  But the truth is that if you want to get healthy today...right now, you can do just that!  You change one meal, you change your body.  Have you ever noticed how great you feel after you eat a healthy meal?  The proof is in the pudding (well, you know what I mean).  And that, my friend, is change you can believe in.  It all starts here and you can start your health journey right now! 

The following recipes can be tweaked and made for bigger batches so you can enjoy them throughout the week.  Got leftover couscous, quinoa and tabouli from dinner?  Great!  Sprinkle the rest on some salads for lunch.  You can cook one of the soups with your family and choose one for dinner and another for dinner the following night.  Cooking for one?  Freeze half of your makings for quick meals in the near future.  This will leave you time for the sweet things in life (ie the yummy dessert)! You're well on your way to living the WELL life. 

Braised Carrot Soup
Couscous with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Quinoa Salad with Almonds
Tabouli Salad
Pasta e Fagioli
Vanilla Shortcake with Summer Fruit

Braised Carrot Soup

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 carrots, small chunk cut
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, diced
Scant pinch ground nutmeg
4 cups spring or filtered water
2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves removed, finely shredded

Place oil, vinegar and salt in a large, flat bottomed skillet over medium heat. Arrange carrots in oil mixture, avoiding overlap as much as possible. Cover and listen closely for a strong sizzle. When you hear the sizzle, reduce heat to low and cook until carrots are tender and the liquid has become a thick syrup, about 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the carrot pieces).

In a large sauce pan, place remaining oil and onion over medium heat. When the onions sizzle, sauté with a pinch of salt for 1-2 minutes. Add potatoes, nutmeg, braised carrots and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt (about 1 teaspoon) and simmer 5 minutes more.

Transfer soup by ladles to a food processor and puree until smooth. Return to pot and warm through. Serve garnished with fresh mint.  Makes 4-6 servings. 

Couscous with Spicy Tomato Sauce

5 cups spring or filtered water
2-3 okra, minced
1 cup corn grits
pinch sea salt

Tomato sauce:
Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, diced
generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt
7-8 plum tomatoes, diced
spring or filtered water
1-2 stalks fresh basil, leaves removed, shredded

Place water and okra in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook, boiling, for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in corn grits and return to the boil, whisking. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking, frequently, until thick and creamy, about 30 minutes.

To make the sauce, place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add red pepper flakes and salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, season lightly with salt, add about a cup of water and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently until tomatoes are quite soft, about 25 minutes. Season to taste and stir in basil.  To serve, spoon couscous in individual bowls and spoon sauce over top. Makes 4-5 servings.

Quinoa Salad with Almonds

Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
1/2 (one half) red onion, finely diced
sea salt
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1/3 cup finely diced fresh daikon
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup or honey
1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well
2 cups spring or filtered water
2-3 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely minced
1/2 (one half) cup slivered almonds, lightly pan-toasted
juice of 1 lemon

Place about 3 tablespoons oil, garlic and onion in a skillet over medium heat. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in celery and a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in carrot and daikon, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Add brown rice syrup, stirring until it melts into the veggies. Add quinoa, water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid is absorbed and the grain opens, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, almonds and lemon juice. Serve immediately.  Makes 3-4 servings.

Tabouli Salad

4 cups water
2 cups bulgar
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley -- minced
1/4 cup fresh mint -- minced
2 plum tomatoes -- diced
1 cucumber -- diced
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup black olives -- minced

Bring the water to a boil and stir in the bulgar and salt cover and turn off heat. All stand for fifteen minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients and season with salt. Chill completely before serving.

Pasta e Fagioli

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 each onion -- diced
2 stalks celery -- diced
sea salt
dried basil
dried rosemary
1 cup dried cannellini beans -- soak for six hours
6 cups water
wakame seaweed -- 1 in. piece soaked and diced
2 cups cauliflower -- florets
2 zucchini -- diced
1 1/2 cups pasta -- small size, cooked
1 cup kale -- diced
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley -- minced

Place oil and onion in a soup pot over medium heat. When the onion begins to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in celery, basil and rosemary and sauté for 1 minute. Add beans, water, wakame, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes. Add cauliflower and zucchini, season to taster with salt and cook for 15 minutes more. Stir in cooked pasta and kale, simmer for 2 minutes and serve garnished with parsley.

Vanilla Shortcake with Summer Fruit
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch sea salt
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar

Fruit topping:
2 cups red seedless grapes
1 cup raspberries
3 each peaches -- halved, pitted and sliced thin
3 each red plums -- halved, pitted and sliced the
1 each lemon -- grated zest
1 each orange -- juice
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 pinch sea salt

Vanilla Custard:
1 cup amasake
1/2 cup soy milk
1 each vanilla bean -- split scraped
1 tablespoon kuzu -- dissolved in small amount cold water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk briskly. Mix in the oil, rice syrup, and the vanilla extract. Mix the 2/3-cup of soymilk with vinegar and stir into flour mixture. The dough should gather and be soft but not sticky. An additional soymilk is needed. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead six times together the dough. Transfer to the baking sheet and form into an 8 in. round.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned on the toothpick comes out clean. Transfer wire rack to cool. Combine all the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Combine the amasake, soymilk and vanilla bean pulp in a saucepan and warm through over low heat. Stir in the dissolved kuzu and cook, stirring until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.

To serve, place the cake on a serving platter. Spoon fruit over top, mounding generously. Whisk custard to loosen and spoon over fruit. Another way to serve is to slice the cake into wedges, place a wedge on individual plate, mound the fruit, and a generous dollop of vanilla custard.


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