recipes for a healthy new year
I always valued good health and ate what I thought was a healthy diet until a lab test several years ago set off alarms for high cholesterol. Being curious about how I could correct this, I sought professional advice. The result: more fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, whole grains (especially oatmeal and barley), nuts, seeds, legumes and finally, less sugar and saturated fat. It took about seven years, but little-by-little my experiment worked – resulting in a normal, healthy lipid panel among other positive health benefits. It made me a believer that the produce department was my personal pharmacy – with a little help from the bulk foods section (full of nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes of all kinds).
A healthy diet can have an enormous impact on our mind, body and spirit. Remember, that a general pattern of healthy eating and consistency yields good results. These recipes include key ingredients for healthy meal plans.
For morning energy
Tropical Green Morning Smoothie
Start your day off with a serving of super nutritious food. The balanced nutrition in this smoothie keeps your hunger and cravings under control. You can pre-measure frozen fruit and kale in plastic bags and store in your freezer – then this goes together in a snap. Single serving, approximately 270 calories.
4 oz unsweetened coconut water
4 oz filtered water
½ frozen medium banana, cut in chunks
½ cup frozen chopped kale or spinach or 1 cup of fresh kale or spinach (trim off stems)
½ cup frozen pineapple
½ cup frozen diced mango
1 Tbsp. shelled hemp seeds
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
Put all ingredients in your blender or Vitamix in the order listed, then blend until smooth.
To normalize blood pressure and lower cholesterol
Vegetarian Bean Chili
I like to think of beans as “artery scrubbing,” because they help to lower cholesterol. They have a lot of other health benefits including keeping blood pressure normal and blood sugars steady. Feel free to vary ingredients. Serves 6-8.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green or yellow pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed (optional)
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups water or vegetable broth, more if needed
1 ½ Tbsp. ground Ancho chili powder or any chili powder
½ Tbsp. ground cumin
1 pinch crushed red pepper
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp pepper
Optional garnishes: sliced green onions, diced avocado, Greek yogurt, grated smoked cheddar cheese, cilantro.
1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, green or yellow pepper, zucchini, carrot and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are tender about 7 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, chilies, sweet potato, water (or broth) and spices. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40-45 minutes until the veggies are soft and the chili has thickened.
3. Season with additional salt and pepper, as desired. Garnish and serve.
For healthy skin
Miso is a paste made from soybeans and fermented rice or barley. It is high in beneficial bacteria, which promotes a healthy gut. It has numerous uses in healthy cooking. I am using it here as a glaze for the fish. Wonderful served with a side of sautéed greens.
2 Tbsp. miso paste (I prefer the sweet tasting brown rice miso for this recipe)
2 Tbsp. low-sodium Tamari soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. raw honey
1-1½ pound salmon fillet
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a small bowl, combine the miso paste, soy sauce, oil and honey.
3. Place salmon in a baking pan brushed with olive oil or on parchment paper. Brush salmon with glaze (you may not need all of it). Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until fish is cooked through. (Generally, cook fish ten minutes for every one inch of thickness).
This is also great grilled on direct medium heat for about 10-15 minutes!