The Lotus Manifesto

Nourish Yourself From the Inside Out

Category: Snacks

Limey Guacamole with Daikon Radish “Chips”

(Not Just for British Sailors)

 Apologies for the lack of photo. We had a dinner party and I was so busy cooking that I couldn’t take snapshots of everything. But trust me, this guac is wicked yummy and good for you too.  Avocados are bursting with mono-unsaturated fat (the good kind) along with vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and K and minerals including phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, and manganese.

This version of guacamole is also special because it utilizes the magical powers of essential oil. Just a drop of lime essential oil per 3 avocados with kick up the flavor and add a major health boost. Lime essential oil is stimulating and refreshing oil and acts as both a topical and internal cleanser. It is antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-mucus. What’s better, it tastes yummy!

For those who are steering clear of grains, daikon radish rounds make a refreshing crudite. So hand me another “chip,” please. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 avocados

1 clove crushed garlic

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt to taste

1 drop lime essential oil

*optional: small pinch dried cumin powder

1 daikon radish, skinned and sliced into rounds

Method:

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl and mush until the

preferred consistency.

Serve with radish rounds and/or non-GMO blue corn chips.

*NOTE: Not all essential oils are created equal. I only use doTerra because their oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which is suitable for internal, external, and aromatherapeutic consumption.

*NOTE: All doTerra Essential Oils are extremely potent. I’d recommend 1 drop per batch. Otherwise, just know that you will have a VERY strong-tasting meal!

Click here to learn more about doTerra Essential Oils.

 

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Spicy Sweet Potato Lemongrass Bisque

Try drizzling the bisque with coconut milk to create individualized designs on the soup's surface. This heart happened by accident, so I had to share. :)

Try drizzling the bisque with coconut milk to create individualized designs on the soup’s surface. This heart happened by accident, so I had to share.

Inspired by food.com

The temperatures have been delving well into the negative digits where I live, so on days and nights like that the only way to get warm is from the inside out. And thus, this bisque was born. Sweet potatoes pack a nutritional wallop as they contain more beta carotene than most of their orange-hued counterparts. They’re also rich in vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as the mineral manganese, which promotes healthy bone structure and metabolism, absorption of calcium, proper functioning of thyroid and sex hormones, regulation of blood sugar levels, and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Think thin!

This soup is warm, sweet, and spicy, and has that unmistakable aromatic flavor of lemongrass. Lemongrass essential oil is known for its antibacterial, anticancer, antidepressant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory effects, and is great for the digestive system.

Sweet potato and lemongrass essential oil are a powerful duo which fight back against internal inflammation while promoting healthy tissue regeneration, so grab a spoon and enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 inches piece gingerroot, peeled and minced

1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced

4 garlic cloves, minced (I just smash it with the broad side of a knife or use a garlic press)

3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices

6 cups vegetable broth (this makes a thick soup, use 7 cups if you like it thinner)

2 stalks lemongrass, outer dry leaves removed and bulb-like base crushed (again, the broad side of a knife works wonderfully here)

7 ounces coconut milk

salt & freshly ground black pepper

1-2 drops lemongrass essential oil

Method:

In large, heavy soup pot, heat the oil medium-hot and sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger, jalapeno, and garlic and sauté 2 minutes-ish more.

Add the sweet potatoes and broth. It should be just enough broth to cover the sweet potatoes.

Tie the lemongrass stalks together with string and put the bulb/base ends into the soup.

Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the potatoes break apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Discard the lemongrass stalks. Puree the soup (using an immersion blender or in batches in your blender) and return to pot.

*Optional for Fussy Diners: Strain the soup through a fine sieve (I omitted this step).

Stir in the coconut milk and 1-2 drops lemongrass essential oil. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk for pretty. Serve and enjoy!

 

*NOTE: Not all essential oils are created equal. I only use doTerra because their oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which is suitable for internal, external, and aromatherapeutic consumption.

*NOTE: All doTerra Essential Oils are extremely potent. I’d recommend 1 drop per batch. Otherwise, just know that you will have a VERY strong-tasting meal!

Click here to learn more about doTerra Essential Oils.

Traditional Meusli

Traditional Meusli

Try a bowl of traditional muesli as a breakfast, snack, or light dinner. One of the most nourishing comfort foods!

Bowl of Health

Traditional muesli is a nourishing cereal popularized in the early 1900s by a Swiss physician named Maximillian Bircher-Benner. He developed the dish to feed patients in his hospital to nurse them back to health.

Interestingly, the ingredients in muesli are very similar to the staples of a saatvic diet, which is said to be the most healthful diet for yoga practitioners because it is nourishing to the body while allowing the mind to maintain a peaceful state.

This dish has has many forms and can be varied according to one’s personal taste or health preferences. Generally it is prepared using rolled oats (which can be made gluten free) that have been soaked in water, milk, or juice, as well as nuts, seeds, grated or chopped fresh or dried fruits, and spices. The recipe below is just a suggestion. Try it out, or comment with your variation, s’il vous plait.

Ingredients:
2 cups gluten free oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts/pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup golden raisins (or other dried fruit)
4 tbs. chia seeds

*Mix above ingredients in a jar. Makes almost four cups.

Method:
When ready to eat, mix 3/4 cup of above mix with:
1-2 tbs. flax meal
1/2-1 grated apple or 1/2-1 cup berries
1 cup fresh almond milk
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
*Mix together and allow to sit for a few minutes before eating.  Enjoy!

Health Benefits:

Rolled Oats: Due to their high fiber content, oats are known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Oats also help maintain cardiovascular health since they contain antioxidant compound called avenanthramides, which help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol. Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal also contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan, which has been shown to help immune funtion and to stabilize blood sugar. Oats are also high in manganese, selenium, and phosphorous. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Walnuts: Walnuts are powerful medicine. They are packed with valuable antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega fatty acids, manganese, and copper. Walnuts have been studied and proven to help decrease risk of certain cancers,  including prostate and breast. They also help prevent cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Pecans: Pecans contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, a variety of B vitamins and zinc. One ounce of pecans provides 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for fiber. Pecans are also a source of monounsaturated or “good” fat and protein. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Sunflower Seeds: A handful of sunflower seeds will supply significant amounts of vitamin E (the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant, which is also an anti-inflamatory and cardiovascular health superstar), magnesium (which has been said to help reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke), and selenium (helpful for DNA and cellular repair). See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Raisins: Raisins are high in fiber witch can aid in relief of constipation. They a good source of iron (thus helping with anemia), arganine (which can enhance libido and aid with sexual weakness). They also contain calcium and boron, both of which are crucial for proper bone health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Chia Seeds: “Chia” is the Mayan word for strength. Once an important energy source for Mayans, Incas and other ancient cultures, they are now favored by athletes and birthing mothers for their strength and energy enhancing properties. They are a great source of omega-3 acids, calcium, protein, fiber and potassium. Plus they’re low in cholesterol and sodium. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Flax Seeds: Flax is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also high in lignans, fiber-like antioxidant compounds. They contain mucilage (gum), a water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that provides special support to the intestinal tract by helping improve the absorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits can also be helpful in cancer prevention and the quelling of chronic inflammation. Flaxseeds are also high in manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B1. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Apple: Due to their water-soluble fiber (pectin) content, and their  mix of polyphenols (antioxidants), apples can help decrease our total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. Also, the phytonutrients in apples can help regulate blood sugar. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Blueberries: Blueberries are touted as a “superfood” and it’s no wonder why. Particularly wild organic blueberries contain a variety of antioxidant nutrients which support the whole body. Recent studies suggest that blueberries are also likely beneficial for improvement of memory, and  help protect our nerve cells to help slow down the onset of other cognition issues frequently associated with aging. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Pepita Sun Butter

This high-protein blend of toasted pepitas and sunflower seeds goes with everything.

I am on a nut and seed butter kick. They’re just so darn yummy and can come in all sorts of flavor variations. Plus my husband likes them too, so we can hardly keep a jar around for more than a few days. But if allowed, these nut and seed butters can last in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups organic raw pepitas

1 1/2 Cups organic roasted and salted (or unsalted) sunflower seeds (or you can roast your own)

1 Tbs. organic canola or olive oil

1 Tbs. honey

*Only use a pinch of salt if using unsalted sunflower seeds

Method:

Vitamix: Pour all seeds into blender. Drizzle with oil, honey, and optional sprinkle of salt. Turn on low, then turn up to high. Blend and stir using tamper until creamy (1-2 minutes). WARNING: Don’t process longer than 2 minutes or you risk burning out your motor.

Blender: WARNING: Not all blenders are created equal. Not recommended unless you have a muy strong blender or are ready to face the consequences if you’re seeds are tougher than your blender.

Food Processor: Same as Vitamix instructions, but you will need to turn off food processor and scrape the sides with a spatula as the consistency goes from chopped to meal to a creamy buttery consistency.

Put the finished product in a glass jar and put in the refrigerator until ready to consume.

Health Benefits:

Pepitas (Hulled Pumpkin Seeds): These babies are packed with zinc and vitamin E, but are also excellent sources of manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. They are also very high in protein. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information. Many suggest that soaking nuts (and grains, legumes, and seeds) before consuming them enhances their nutritional quality.

Sunflower Seeds: A handful of sunflower seeds will supply significant amounts of vitamin E (the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant, which is also an anti-inflamatory and cardiovascular health superstar), magnesium (which has been said to help reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke), and selenium (helpful for DNA and cellular repair). See here for more health benefits and nutritional information. Many suggest that soaking nuts (and grains, legumes, and seeds) before consuming them enhances their nutritional quality.

Homemade Almond Cashew Butter

Homemade nut butters go with anything, but my favorite way to partake is with a freshly sliced honeycrisp apple.

I just learned a dangerous new skill: making nut and seed butters. They are generally less expensive to make at home, and you can control the ingredients so you don’t eat any less-than-healthy hidden ingredients (like preservatives and sugar). But they are very delicious, so beware, or you might accidentally eat the whole container-ful in one sitting…NOT that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

Serve this almond/cashew butter with apple slices, veggies, slathered on good bread, added to your favorite smoothie…get creative, the combinations are endless. Good fats abound, and these butters are also a good source of protein.

*Note: If you’re serving this with apple slices, try squeezing a little lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt to really make the flavors pop. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups organic roasted (not salted) almonds

1 1/2 Cups organic roasted (not salted) cashews

1 Tbs. organic canola oil

1 Tbs. honey

Pinch salt

Method:

Vitamix: Pour all nuts into blender. Drizzle with oil, honey, and sprinkle of salt. Turn on low, then turn up to high. Blend and stir using tamper until creamy (1-2 minutes). WARNING: Don’t process longer than 2 minutes or you risk burning out your motor.

Blender: WARNING: Not all blenders are created equal. Not recommended unless you have a muy strong blender or are ready to face the consequences if you’re nuts are tougher than your blender…No, that is not supposed to be a metaphor for anything.

Food Processor: Same as Vitamix instructions, but you will need to turn off food processor and scrape the sides with a spatula as the consistency goes from chopped to meal to a creamy buttery consistency. See here for a beautiful photo tutorial.

Health Benefits:

Almonds: Almonds are a Supernut. High in monounsaturated fats (associated with reduced risk of heart disease), almonds contain high amounts of vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. They are also high in protein, which makes them an ideal snack. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information. Many suggest that soaking nuts (and grains, legumes, and seeds) before consuming them enhances their nutritional quality.

Cashews: Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, and approximately 75% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids. What’s more is that about 75% of this unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid, the same monounsaturated or “good fat” found in olive oil. This super nut is also packed with copper, manganese, magnesium, and tryptophan (the “feel good” amino acid”). See here for more health benefits and nutritional information. Many suggest that soaking nuts (and grains, legumes, and seeds) before consuming them enhances their nutritional quality.

Happy Belly Tangerine Blueberry Smoothie

Introducing the “Happy Belly Tangerine and Blueberry Smoothie.” And of course my dog, Luna, stretching in the background. She knew there was a photo shoot afoot, and decided to steal the spotlight. Ham…

This week we have a plethora of greens in our farm share, so I decided to use them up via smoothie. In an effort to soothe my digestion (I’ve been misbehaving on the diet home front), I used some kefir (massive dose of probiotics!) as the base to promote healthy gut flora, with a splash of coconut water to calm any internal digestive inflammation. Top it off with an optional sprinkle of probiotic powder and two drops of tangerine essential oil, and voilá! You have a lightly sweet, tangy smoothie to soothe your digestion and keep you sated for hours to come.

On an interesting side note, there has been a recent uprising amongst the “green juice” and “green smoothie” community, wherein some folks claim that drinking such greens-laden beverages can be hazardous to your health. Their reasoning is that most greens are high in oxolates, which wouldn’t be a big deal except that in mass quantities (like every day forever) they can manifest into oxolate stones (think kidney stone…ow.). But when consumed in moderation (they are found in lots of foods including spinach, peanuts, peppercorns, etc.) are probably just fine…Not to mention that you are benefiting from the other nutrients found in said foods. So, jury is still out.

As always, do your own research. Don’t embrace a food fad until you know the basics. Probably anything (with the exception of crystal meth and elevator music) in moderation is just fine for your mind, body, and soul. Just don’t overdo it.

Happy smoothie-ing!

Ingredients:

1 Cup organic berry-flavored Kefir (or you can make your own, which I haven’t YET tried)

1 Splash coconut water

1 Large handful organic spinach

1/2 Cup organic blueberries

1-2 Drops doTerra Tangerine Essential Oil

*Optional: Can add a little sprinkle of additional probiotic powder, but ONLY if you have a good one. I like Jarrow-Dophilus.

*Note-if you don’t have kefir, add 1/2 cup yogurt, 1-2 pitted dates, and use 1 cup of coconut water instead.

Method:

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend to smithereens (1-2 minutes)

Benefits:

Blueberries: These berries should get their own cape. They are a superfood, packed with antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, meanwhile protecting your nervous system and brain health. They’re rich with manganese, and Vitamins K and C, and are also a good source of dietary fiber. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Coconut Water: Coconut water is perfect for replenishing simple sugars, electrolytes, and minerals within the body. It contains cytokinins with significant anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic properties, and is very soothing to the digestive tract. But there’s so much more! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Kefir: This fermented dairy beverage abounds with healthy probiotics to promote healthy gut flora, and is packed with protein, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D, as well as folic acid. It’s also a good source of calcium, iron, and iodine. Some say that it is also easier for many to digest than regular cow’s milk. It’s tasty too! But be forewarned, the flavor is not for all palates. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K (think blood builder/purifier!), vitamins A, C, B2 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Popeye apparently knew how to protect himself against inflammatory problems and oxidative stress-related issues, while promoting his cardiovascular and bone health. AND he got the girl! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Tangerine Essential Oil: DoTerra’s Tangerine Essential oil is an extremely powerful blood purifying agent, digestive aid, anti-septic, and relaxant. It can help improve blood circulation, and reduces internal inflammation. The neurological benefits abound as well. See here for a full description and uses for this amazing oil, and click here if you’re interested in purchasing any doTerra essential oils.

 

Recover, Baby…All the Cool Kids Are Doing It.

Recovery Shake

Me “recovering.” (But really, recovery drinks aren’t supposed to taste this freaking delish.)

So, everyone I know is “training” for something. My little town of Durango, CO, is notorious for breeding super athletes. And then, there’s everyone else who is just trying to catch up. Whatever category you happen to be in, recovery is crucial. And nutrition is one of the main pathways to post-workout recovery.

Below is a recipe for my personal favorite recovery drink which consists of fresh, local, raw milk (yes, it’s the nectar of the gods if you can get the good stuff from pasture-fed cows from a super clean and loving facility…thank you, James Ranch!), dates, nutmeg, and cinnamon. But you could skip the spices and add raw cacao instead for an extra muscle-recovering punch!

Due to its bioavailability, whey protein is thought by many fitness and nutrition experts to be one of (if not THE) best types of protein to build lean muscle and help your existing muscle to recover after a tough workout. If you can’t stomach milk, then this can be made with homemade almond or other nut/seed milk.

Happy exercising and recovering!

P.S. All of these measurements are “ish.” Play around with the ratios for your fave flave. (Or “favorite flavor” if you didn’t catch my drift.)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw, local (or organic) milk, or homemade almond or nut milk

1-2 pitted and/or dates (only need to soak beforehand if your blender isn’t psyched on blending hard items)

1 pinch cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg

1-2 drops doTerra black pepper essential oil (THIS IS THE MAGICAL INGREDIENT!)

*Optional: 1 Tbs. raw cacao powder and/or 1 Tsp. organic vanilla extract

Method:

Put all ingredients into your blender and blend to smithereens (a minute or two). Should be frothy and delicious.

Try not to chug the whole thing in 2 gulps. (I dare you…)

Health Benefits:

Black Pepper Essential Oil: Black Pepper essential oil is great for your digestive system. It stimulates salivary glands and secretion of digestive juices meanwhile neutralizing gas formation in the intestinal tract. Also a great cleansing agent! Black pepper oil also increases circulation, reducing inflammation, and provides relief for arthritis and other muscle and joint discomforts. Great for athletes! See here for more. Click here if you’re interested in purchasing any doTerra essential oils.

Local Raw Milk: This is a VERY touchy subject. So I will leave it to the professionals. See here if you’re interested in learning more about raw milk. Otherwise, good organic milk is a fine alternative.

Dates: Dates are rich with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and copper. They are also high in other antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein, which help protect and nourish our cells. But they’re high in sugar, so a dab’ll do ya. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon has long been used as a medicine. It’s a good source of manganese and calcium. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to lessen unwanted blood clotting. It also has strong anti-microbial properties and help control blood sugar. The list of the powerful spice’s benefits continue, so see here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg has been used in traditional medicines as an anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive aid. It is also a good source of copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, and magnesium, and B-complex vitamins including Vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and Vitamin A. In small doses it’s great, but don’t overdo it! This powerful spice can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Cacao: Organic cacao is a legit superfood. It abounds with Vitamin A, C, and E, and a plethora of B vitamins, as well as, magnesium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, sulphur, iron, chromium, phosphorus, and Omega 6 fatty acids. It is also high in protein and fiber. Move over spinach! See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Life’s a Peach

Peaches

Ah, the peach…The essence of summertime. Happy to have learned a way to preserve some for those freezing cold January nights!

Learning How to Savor and Preserve Life’s Sweet Moments

Autumn steadily approaches and summer’s delights are making room for the fall flavors. But who says we can’t preserve a few sweet treats for those long, cold nights? Matt, our local fruit stand guy, told me how to freeze whole peaches so we can taste their sweetness long after the frosts come. I froze a few bags full, and look forward to trying them come winter. But get them while you can! Once they’re gone, we won’t get another chance to enjoy the freshies ’til next summer. Enjoy!

Method:

1. Let whole, unblemished peaches ripen.

2. Rinse off fuzz and towel dry.

3. Place peaches in a plastic bag. (I used the vacuum seal variety, but you can use a regular zip-lock.)

4. When ready to use, remove the desired number of peaches from the bag, run cold water over frozen peach and slip off the skin.

5. Microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. (I don’t like microwaves much, so will see how allowing them to thaw naturally works…will keep you posted.)

6. Use peaches as desired: for cereal or yogurt toppings, pie or cobbler, or just as is.

7. Let me know how it goes!

Lots of little peaches, all snuggly in their airtight ziplock freezer bags.

 

One Swedish-made pe…ahem…peach pump. This handy gadget sucks the air out of the ziplock bag to ensure the peaches don’t get freezer burn…but it TOTALLY looks like something out of Austin Powers. 🙂

Best Chicken Salad I Ever Ate…

This batch fed a roundup of hungry ladies at a baby shower brunch, served with buttery croissants. Yum.

…Meanwhile the meat/no meat debate continues…

Ah, the endless debate: If you are a true yogi, can you eat meat? That is for you to decide. But I will say this: the concept of “ahimsa,” or unconditional love for all beings (as defined by Nischala Joy Devi in her heart-centered translation of the Yoga Sutras) must be applied to oneself too. Yes, it makes my being writhe to think of animals being abused and “dispatched” for human consumption. But if your body is in need of certain sustenance that only animal flesh can provide, and you prepare and eat it with love and gratitude in your heart, then I personally think it is ok in moderation. Granted, there are likely yogis, vegetarians, and vegans who would vehemently disagree. And that’s ok.

My best advice is to listen to your own body and soul’s inherent wisdom. But if you decide to go for it, try this recipe. The extra time it takes to shred the chicken meat is totally worth the effort. It’s nutritious and delicious, and can be made in large enough batches to feed the masses…as long as they’re not vegetarian. (In which case make any of the other recipes on this site.)

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken (about 1 3/4 pound)

*Note: 1) If you use breasts and thighs it tastes even better! 2) If you shred the chicken rather than cut it, it tastes even better-er! 3) Make sure chicken is completely cooled before mixing with other ingredients to make it taste the better-iest!

*Note: This is a GREAT way to use up leftover chicken and/or turkey meat.

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled

1 cup chopped fennel (can sub celery if you don’t have/like fennel)

3 sprigs finely chopped green onion

2 cups halved seedless purple grapes

1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use homemade Paleo-nnaise if that’s your bag, baby)

½ cup Greek yogurt (can use all Greek yogurt if you don’t like mayo)

2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint or 3-4 Tbs. dried

Hefty dash tabasco sauce

Hefty drizzle honey (1 Tsp.-ish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until combined well. Can be served immediately, but is even yummier if allowed to sit for a few hours or even overnight.

Can be served solo, in sandwich or wrap form. This chicken salad is heavenly on a fresh croissant, but is also tasty when served in lettuce wraps or radicchio leaves if you’re doing the grain-free thing.

Health Benefits:

Chicken: If you’re looking for a good source of protein that’s also low in fat try an organic chicken breast. The thighs have a richer (read: fattier) flavor, but both are great sources of tryptophan, selenium, and vitamins B3 and B6. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Fennel: In addition to its abounding phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. It also has a unique licorice-like flavor and a ton of crisp crunch. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Grapes: Grapes are packed with vitamin C and manganese and contain a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and resveratrol (think red wine!). These tasty little jewels are thought to help support the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and nervous systems. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is a thicker, creamier version of “regular” yogurt that boasts high protein, healthy bacteria which support healthy gut flora, and is a good source of calcium. It’s a versatile addition to your diet and can replace higher fat dairy products. See here for more about the nutritional info and health benefits of yogurt.

Pecans: Pecans protect your brain, heart, and body. They’re high in vitamin E, oleic acid, vitamin B1, thiamin, magnesium, protein, and an array of other vitamins and minerals. They are also great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (read: good fats), and are very low in saturated fat. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

You Say Tomato, I Say Caprese

Tomatoes, fresh mozza and basil, with a hint of truffle salt and olive oil. I could live on this combination in the summertime.

Hi. My name is Celestia, and I’m a caprese-aholic. I love tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella in just about any form….From slabs of heirloom tomato with hunks-o fresh mozzarella and chopped basil, to an open-faced caprese sammy, I’m a sucker for any dish that resembles that magical combination of ingredients. It’s an ultimate summertime favorite, so I had to throw this recipe in here before the chilly air takes the tomatoes away until next season. Enjoy…

Ingredients:

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced into thick slices

Fresh mozzarella cheese, torn or cut into pieces (to match the size of your tomato slices)

Fresh basil, julienned (Or homemade pesto)

High quality olive oil for drizzling

Pinches of salt (to taste)

*Optional: truffle salt OR truffle oil (but not both), balsamic vinegar or reduction, other types of cheese to replace the mozzarella such as goat or brie.

Method:

Arrange tomato slices on a serving plate or platter.

Carefully administer pinches of sea or truffle salt.

Arrange cheese on tomato slices.

Add julienned basil.

Drizzle with olive oil (and optional balsamic).

Keep your hands and arms away from the platter as each bite disappears.

Health Benefits:

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Olive Oil: Olive Oil is packed phytonutrients including polyphenols. Most of the polyphenols in olive oil function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. When eaten in moderation, olive oil can be very beneficial to our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Mozzarella Cheese: Dairy products are not for everyone…but for those of us who can eat a bit of dairy, Mozzarella is a great source of  vitamins (such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, biotin and vitamin B6), minerals (such as calcium and phosphorus), and is high in protein. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Tomato: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I’ll write more about this later. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Caprese with brie and balsamic reduction

Caprese with brie and balsamic reduction.

Caprese Sandwich

Local, multigrain bread with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, avocado, olive oil, and sea salt. Best summer lunch I can think of…