Weekly Wellness Tip – Need Sleep?

1760-your-future-depends-on-your-dreams-so-go-to-sleep

As much as we are anxious for Spring to come, many of us can not believe we have to set our clocks forward in a week.  Why?  We are going to lose an hour of sleep!  For those that don’t generally sleep that well losing that hour is going to be brutal until we adjust.

About 10 years ago I was having trouble sleeping and discovered I was iron deficient.  My doctor prescribed iron supplements and it was an incredible transformation. Now my iron rich diet has helped with relieving me of this issue permanently!  Studies also show that you can be deficient in calcium and magnesium causing you to have sleep issues.  We need our sleep to be at our optimal best so if falling asleep and staying asleep is a problem for you, find the root of the problem and determine a solution that fits your needs.

Diet can be a start.  Here is a list of food to incorporate in your lifestyle if you may be hitting a wall once we “spring forward”.  Start now and stay ahead of the sleep thief!

Feed the wellness in you!

  1. Almonds – A great source of magnesium.  If you are magnesium deficient, you have a harder time staying asleep.
  2. Walnuts – A good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles.
  3. Cherry juice – Particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin.
  4. Yogurt – Dairy products like yogurt and milk have the calcium boost to help if you’re deficient.
  5. Whole grains – Get your Farro, Barley and Quinoa to boost your magnesium level.
  6. Leafy greens –  Kale, Collards, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Bok Choy, Watercress – all high in iron and calcium.
  7. Chickpeas – Chickpeas boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness).

Ackee and Bok Choy

Ackee and Bok Choy

It’s not scrambled eggs, tofu, nor potatoes – it is Ackee.

Although native to West Africa, Ackee is prominently known in Jamaican cuisine and is in their national dish, Ackee and Saltfish (Cod).  Prior to becoming a vegetarian I absolutely loved Ackee and Saltfish.  Whenever in Jamaica I made a point to have it for breakfast as much as I could and learned how to make it at home.  Despite my Caribbean heritage, this was not a dish made in my home growing up, but Codfish was and prepared several ways.  I grew up having it made into fritters simply known as Codfish fritters, as a hot dish known as Codfish Stew, and as a cold dish named Buljol.  All equally delicious to me.  I loved Codfish so much that when I became pregnant with my twins my first craving was for Codfish fritters and I had my mother make them and overnight them to me….regularly!

Now as a vegetarian and in my quest to prepare interesting dishes I have combined Ackee with vegetables.  Eating Ackee with vegetables is not foreign in Jamaica because Rastafarians eat ‘Ital’ which is organic, non-processed food from the earth.  This results in vegetarian and vegan meals, which includes Ackee as an ingredient.  “Ital is vital” summarizes the Rastafarian belief that pure food from the earth is the most physically and spiritually beneficial.

Ackee  is not easily available at standard grocery stores.  You may have to find a Caribbean store to purchase a can of it or if you live in a more diverse city you grocery store may have it or even Walmart .  Bok Choy is readily available and I love that this vegetable has some crunch to it when you add the stalk.  Both provide great nutritional benefits!  All the fat in Ackee is unsaturated fat which is a good  way to protect the health of your heart, according to MayoClinic.com  It also has fiber, Vitamin C, B, and Niacin.  Bok Choy is very low in calories and packed with Vitamins C, K, B, Fiber, Calcium and Iron.

Ackee and Bok Choy is delicious!  I had it with Rice and Beans, and plantain.

Ackee and Bok Choy1

You  can also have Ackee for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  How about that for versatility?

Feed the wellness in you!

Ackee and Bok Choy

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serving Size: 4

Please find the nearest Caribbean market near you to find all of these items! Please note that if you're not familiar with the scotch bonnet pepper you may want to try half of one initially. It adds a good amount of heat but if you enjoy heat with slight sweetness, this pepper is for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Ackee, drained
  • 2 bunches of Bok Choy
  • 1/2 cup green peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, sliced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbl All purpose seasoning with Adobo (No MSG)
  • 3-4 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes, chopped

Instructions

  1. Wash the Bok Choy thoroughly, drain and chop.
  2. In a large pan, saute the green peppers, red peppers, scallions, onion, minced garlic, scotch bonnet pepper for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bok choy and saute on low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the scotch bonnet and onion powder and mix well.
  5. Add the Ackee, tomato paste, all purpose seasoning and fresh thyme.
  6. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Add your chopped tomatoes and turn off heat.
  8. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes then serve.
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/ackee-and-bok-choy/

In Season Wellness – Cauliflower

Roasted White Organic Cauliflower

This winter vegetable gets such a bad rap. But if you know various ways to prepare it, it can be an amazing addition to your meal.  Lately I’ve noticed it more and more as side dishes on restaurant menus and in main courses.  I had it prepared shredded finely and served like rice – incredible!  In December I read an article toting Cauliflower as the new Kale of 2015 with innovative recipes from renowned chefs.    The versatility of the vegetable and it’s ability to blend well with spices makes it a winner in winter dishes this season.

CauliflowerCauliflower2

Cauliflower is in the cruciferous family with cabbage, bok choy and broccoli, so it has high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, B6, folate, and cancer protecting antioxidants.  There are various types and colors of cauliflower; broccoflower (a lime-green hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower that is round), Romanesco  (also a lime-green hybrid with spiky curds vs. round), the purple-headed cauliflower, the orange-headed cauliflower,  and the white-headed cauliflower we were served as kids after being boiled too long!

I often roast cauliflower along with broccoli – very simply tossed in garlic, olive oil, sea salt and a splash of lemon juice.   I have also replaced potatoes with it in dishes because it marries well with spices used in stews or soups.  One of my favorite cauliflower dishes at a local Indian restaurant is Cauliflower Bezule.  If you really want to’ wow’ yourself, give this a try!  Recipe for Cauliflower Bezule 

Feed the wellness in you!

Curry Tofu and Chickpeas

Curry Tofu and Chickpeas1 

Since starting this blog I stayed away from the inclusion of a tofu recipe thus far.  Despite preparing meals with tofu at least 2 days a week,  I figured a tofu dish would be expected on a vegetarian blog, very cliché and the obvious default.  I thought you would find it boring.   While chatting with some girlfriends recently they told me that although they eat tofu they never cook it because they didn’t know how.  They weren’t sure where to start and how to incorporate it into their lifestyles because they would if they could (they are not vegetarians). How many of you are struggling with cooking tofu?  If you don’t fall into this category and this post bores you, please return tomorrow!  But for those who are curious about how to prepare tofu, here’s the first of many tofu dishes, an easy Curry Tofu with Chickpeas.  I always have tofu and chickpeas in my pantry along with the required spices.  I am a first generation American, born to parents from the Caribbean so this style of cooking in this recipe is very natural for me to use.

Tofu dishes can be considered my ‘fast food’.  I regularly have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It can be scrambled for breakfast, added to sandwiches and salads for lunch, used in an array of main and side dishes for dinner, and even in desserts.  The key to adding it to the dish is knowing the type of tofu to purchase depending on what you are making.  There are several different types of tofu – silken, firm, and extra-firm.  Silken is used for soft things like sauces or desserts; firm is best used in salads or things that don’t require a lot of manipulation like a wrap sandwich and extra firm would be used in stir fry’s, baked dishes or deep fried.  When eating out, do not be fooled by the inclusion of tofu in the dish as a healthier option.  It is often deep fried when it arrives so ask how it is prepared before ordering it.  If it is fried, just ask them not to.  It’s a quicker process for the chef to flash fry it than to dry the water out of it.

Tofu is packaged in a big block usually with water.

Tofu in white backround

What helps with  gaining the right consistency for your dish before cooking is to drain the water from the tofu.  I open the package, drain the water, slice the tofu, then wrap it with paper towels, changing at least twice.

Curry tofu 2

I then often bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees so it just gets a little firmer and slightly brown around the edges, as I did with this dish.  When I do bake it, I cube it before placing it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Tofu

With this base of tofu preparation, you can try tofu in various dishes.  Here’s the Curry Tofu and Chickpeas recipe which requires this type of prepping.  I hope you give it a try.  I served it over a plantain mash but I also do it with rice and peas –  it works with any starch you choose.  Use as a side dish with your protein of choice or as a main dish if you’re exploring the green life on that day.

Feed the wellness in you!

Curry Tofu and Chickpeas

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Curry lends itself to be customized for those who love it so pay attention to your spices, taste and adjust accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 2 pkgs extra firm tofu
  • 1.5 cans garbanzo beans
  • 2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp curry powder (mild, medium or hot - your choice!)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 - 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tbl curry powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (optional)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • cilantro

Instructions

  1. Prep the tofu as described above.
  2. Saute the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onions, garlic, ginger, 1 tsp curry powder for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Turn to low.
  3. Add your tofu and mix well.
  4. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock along with your chick peas, tomato paste, curry powder, onion powder, ground white pepper, cumin, turmeric, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, scallions, 1 tsp of sea salt, habanero or scotch bonnet pepper.
  5. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
  6. Add the additional cup of vegetable stock as it thickens, then turn to low for 25 minutes.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes, mix, then let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove the scotch bonnet or habanero before serving.
  10. Serve over your grains with cilantro on top.
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/curry-tofu-and-chickpeas/

Weekly Wellness Tip – Being Prepared

the-will-to1

 

Hello Monday!

Did you walk out of the house after eating a healthy breakfast and also know what you’re having for lunch and dinner? And for that midday snack? If not, we tend to ‘grab’ at what is convenient and it may not be the best option for you.  If you’re going to make those healthy changes in your life that will yield positive results you have to learn to plan and prepare in advance.  Consistently.  If you have good food in the house you’ll eat good food!  Take the time today to get the items you need to stick to your plan.  If you have to eat out, don’t just look at the menu and feel like those menu items listed are your only options.  Carefully look at the ingredients in dishes and if you see a combination of food you’d rather have that is better for you ask for it.  Most places are willing to accommodate.  And if not, you tried!  Just keep putting the extra effort in to eat well.

Have a great week!  Feed the wellness in you!

Wellness Action – Are You Determined?

Motivation 2

I’m going to visit a dear friend of mine in Florida today who gave birth to twins 4 months ago – at the age of 47!  Twins at any age is a challenge but of course the older you are the higher the risk.  It has been an adjustment to say the least but she is SO happy.  I don’t know all the details of her journey, but I can deduce that she and her husband, were very determined and they go to bed not just satisfied but HAPPY.

But this isn’t about her – this is about ME and YOU.  On this path of wellness and the need to make the right lifestyle decisions it requires purpose and determination on a daily basis.  We have to approach each day with the defined purpose of eating well and being determined to fulfill that desire.  You may have  a ‘bad’ day.  Just get back to your purpose.  Be intentional in your steps.

 Stay determined – feel and see the dividends!!

Feed the wellness in you!

 

In Season Wellness – Sweet Dumpling Squash

Pumpkins

Did you think these were just good for decoration?  Well they’re also delicious, like all winter squash.  Because of its small size, the Sweet Dumpling squash is very versatile.  It’s very easy to cut unlike some other squashes so you can effortlessly slice it in half, bake and serve it  as a single serving; it can be used to make a bisque or a soufflé, both prepared as you would butternut squash. I had one recently at a restaurant stuffed with wild rice, barley, cranberries and other squashes.  As I always say, be creative.  What I also find fascinating about this vegetable is that every part of the Sweet Dumpling squash plant can be eaten, including the leaves and tender shoots.  I haven’t tried that yet so I’m just passing that information along.

Winter squash offers fantastic plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene, which are important for a strong immune system to help protect against colds and flu.

So try this lovely vegetable in a soup, curry dish or simply bake it!

Feed the wellness in you!

Vegetable Rice Bowl with Olive Pistachio Chutney

Vegetable Rice Bowl with Olive Pistachio Chutney

A few weeks ago I was watching “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network and the theme was ‘Messy’. If you watch this series,  you can imagine that due to the theme of ‘MESSY’, there were many sloppy, delicious, gooey foods. VERY MESSY! There was one dish that Restaurant Critic Frank Bruni exalted as his favorite messy dish, the Asparagus Rice Bowl from restaurant Revel in Seattle, that I found intriguing.

The dish lends itself to be so versatile that I had to give it a whirl but MY way.  I was fascinated by the Olive Pistachio Chutney.   The ingredients spoke to my taste buds.  There are a few things that need to be prepared a day in advance but worth the effort.  You have to pickle red onions and lemon peel separately.  The asparagus was grilled and straight forward to prepare.  I have never incorporated radicchio in anything so thought this was my way of using it but also added baby bok choy mixed with the radicchio with a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Revel Restaurant tops off their rice bowl with an egg yolk that I did not incorporate.  I wanted protein in my dish so I used roasted tofu and for my husband, baked chicken. The rice base at Revel appears to be white rice and I used brown rice with quinoa.

So here’s my version of this ‘Messy’ bowl once it was all ‘messed’ up!

Vegetable Rice Bowl with Olive Pistachio Chutney1

We loved it in our household – the Olive Pistachio Chutney is the key. Even with my own improvisations it was delightful so I can only imagine the Chef’s version being over the top.  Watch the video of ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate – Messy’ episode for further guidance.  Be creative with your vegetable additions as you see fit.  The Revel version had no protein but I thought, why not?

What say you?

Feed the wellness in you!

Vegetable Rice Bowl with Olive Pistachio Chutney

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 2

The total time does not include prepping and cooking your protein of choice, and pickling the onions and lemons. The time documented here includes prepping and cooking the tofu. Pickle the onions and lemons a day ahead and depending on your protein you will add that process time to your preparation. Keep in mind you're doing several things in parallel. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2.5 cups vegetable stock
  • 16 stems asparagus
  • 6 stems baby bok choy
  • 1 cup radicchio, shredded
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 2/3 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 2 tbl pickled onions
  • 1 tbl pickled lemons
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup of extra firm tofu or protein of your choice!

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. If you are using tofu as your protein drain the water out of the tofu. I wrap the tofu in paper towels and place in the refrigerator, changing the paper towels frequently.
  3. Once the tofu is drained slice it in even strips and roast in the oven with a little sea salt on a cookie sheet (I line it with parchment paper to brown evenly) for about 20 minutes.
  4. Cook your brown rice and quinoa in the vegetable stock.
  5. Slice your baby bok choy in long strips and add to the radicchio. Wash thoroughly and drain.
  6. Toss the vegetables in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar. Set aside
  7. In another bowl mix your olives, pistachios, pickled onions and lemons, rice wine vinegar, cumin and red pepper flakes.
  8. Roast your asparagus with sea salt and black pepper for about 20 minutes.
  9. In a serving bowl, layer the bottom with your rice and quinoa, then assemble your bok choy/radicchio, asparagus, protein and olive pistachio chutney.
  10. Cut up, mix up, blend all together to enjoy all the flavors!!
https://eatlikeavegetarian.com/vegetable-rice-bowl-with-olive-pistachio-chutney/

Weekly Wellness Tip – Sources of Vitamin C

orange with leaf

 

Waking up to single digit temperatures has been so unpleasant! The multiple layers required to stay warm is uncomfortable and is still not effective to combat this frigid weather. In addition, the risk of getting the common cold and influenza is increased because some of the viruses leading to these illnesses are seasonal, occurring more frequently during cold weather.  I guess Punxsutawney Phil was right!

No one leaves my house without taking Vitamin C but the best source comes from fresh fruit and vegetables.  Here is a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of Vitamin C, per cup.  Incorporate more of this powerful antioxidant in your lifestyle.

  • Yellow Bell Peppers
  • Guavas
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Papaya

Feed the wellness in you!