Simple Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Lemon


Simple vegetable quinoa salad with lemon

Makes 5-6 servings


Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions 
  • 3 small bell peppers, diced 
  • 1 large English cucumber, diced 
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced 
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped 
  • 1 cup sliced almonds 
  • 3 cloves minced garlic 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • Juice of 2 lemons (add more if needed)
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stays fresh in the fridge for 5 days.
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Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas Fresh Dill and Goat Cheese

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quinoa salad with chickpeas fresh dill and goat cheese

Makes 6 Servings


Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1.5 english cucumbers, diced
  • 3-4 big handfuls of spinach, chopped well
  • 2 bunches of fresh dill, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (liquid measure)
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large and mix well
  2. Let sit in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight and enjoy!
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Chronic Inflammation: Ten Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation

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Inflammation is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around left and right - but what does it actually mean? Inflammation is essentially our bodies' response to threats from things like stress, injury, infection, and toxins. When the immune system senses one of these threats, it responds by releasing chemical messengers into the body that promote inflammation and are meant to protect us. (1)

Acute inflammation is a healthy and essential process for our bodies. This type of inflammation is generally short-lived, and helps us to heal and fight infection. Classic signs of acute inflammation might be pain, swelling and burning after falling down and scraping your knee or cutting your finger. (1,2)

Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system is permanently turned “on” and is constantly releasing pro-inflammatory messengers into the body that can be damaging in the long term. Chronic inflammation is associated with an increased risk for arthritis, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, digestive issues, autoimmune disease, skin issues, depression and mood disorders, sleep disorders, excess weight gain, allergies, chronic fatigue and more! (1,2)

Chronic inflammation can be caused by a number of dietary and environmental factors. It would be impossible to eliminate ALL triggers of inflammation, but there are things we can do on a daily basis to minimize the risk for chronic inflammation and promote a better balance for the immune system. Below are my Top Ten Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation.


1.  Limit Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates including foods like white bread, white pasta, sugary cereals, crackers, etc. are highly processed, and contain very few beneficial nutrients. Because these foods lack fiber and protein, they cause spikes in blood sugar and force your body to produce more insulin. Higher levels of circulating insulin are associated with higher levels of inflammatory markers (3,4). If the majority of the carbohydrates you eat come from highly processed sources, you're also missing out on a lot of important nutrients lost in processing. Now I'm not saying that you need to avoid or eliminate refined carbohydrates entirely (you know I love my pizza and everything bagels), but I encourage you to focus on including more minimally processed and whole food sources of carbohydrates into your diet. Some of my favorites include whole fruit and vegetables, legumes, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice and oats. These foods are a great source of fiber, and provide your body with long lasting energy and stable blood sugar. 


2. Be Aware of Added Sugars

Enjoying sweets is part of an overall healthy dietary pattern. However, you don’t want to be getting added sugars in your diet when you don’t even know you’re getting them! Added sugars not only have an undesirable effect on blood sugar, but they can also significantly increase caloric intake. Research has also shown that eating foods high in sugar in excess can decrease blood levels of antioxidants (we'll talk more about these below). Added sugars are in everything. They're in our yogurts, nut milks, granola bars, pasta sauce, peanut butter, salad dressing...you get the picture. 

There is no need to obsess about enjoying a bowl of ice cream or using maple syrup on your pancakes at brunch. You want to enjoy added sugars when you actually want them, not unknowingly in your daily breakfast and snacks. Read labels and become a conscious consumer -- it’s all about awareness. 


3. IMprove Your ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, boost heart health, decrease the risk of depression and sharpen cognition and memory (5). Increase intake of omega 3 Fatty Acids from foods like fatty fish (like sockeye salmon, tuna, trout) chia seeds, hemp seeds, tahini, walnuts, olive oil.

Excess intake of Omega 6 fatty acids combined with low intake of Omega 3s can contribute to chronic inflammation. Reduce omega 6 fatty acid intake from packed/processed foods such as frozen pizza, popcorn, candies, cookies, chips, crackers, etc. Many of these foods contain overly processed vegetable oils such as soy, sunflower, safflower and corn oil. 


4. Eat More plants

Higher fruit and vegetable intake is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers and a decreased risk for developing chronic disease. Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have an ant-inflammatory and protective effect on our bodies (6,7). I recommended aiming for 5-8 servings of colorful fruit and veggies daily (the more the better!).


5. Go heavy with herbs and spices

Not only are herbs and spices a great way to flavor your food, but they’re also really amazing chemical compounds that have the ability to disrupt inflammatory pathways and even inhibit the release of inflammatory messengers (2). Try seasoning your food with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, bay leaf, oregano, thyme and rosemary.


6. Nourish Your Gut with fiber and fermented foods

70% of the immune system is found within the lining of the gut (crazy, right?!). The bacteria in the gut are closely involved with the immune system and the regulation of inflammation. Gut bacteria can stimulate anti-inflammatory messengers (the good guys!) or the pro-inflammatory messengers that are associated with low grade inflammation and chronic disease (2,8). When we don’t feed gut bacteria in the right way, this can cause an imbalance in bacteria and lead to a chronic inflammatory response . In addition to all of the dietary tips mentioned (lots of plants, less refined carbohydrates, more fiber, etc.) there are a few things we can do to support our gut health:

  • Include more pre-biotic rich foods (food for good bacteria) including onions, garlic, artichokes, underripe bananas and whole grains.
  • Incorporate more probiotic rich fermented foods such kimichi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt and tempeh. These foods are rich in beneficial bacteria and also help to create a more desirable environment for the healthy bacteria to thrive.

7. Find ways to slow down and minimize/manage stress in your everyday life

Acute and chronic stress are both associated with an inflammatory response. When the body perceives stress, it releases cortisol (the body's stress hormone). When cortisol levels are high, we often respond by choosing highly palatable foods that are more processed, higher in sugar and higher in fat. Additionally, when cortisol levels are high, your body cannot digest and absorb nutrients from food properly. So not only does stress impact the foods we choose to eat, it also impacts how the body's ability to utilize these foods (9,10,11). Try these tips for reducing stress at meal times to improve digestion:

  • Use meals as a way to manage stress as opposed to a reaction to stress
  • Step away from the tv or computer and remove distractions at mealtime
  • Take 3 slow deep belly breaths prior to meals – this can activate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce cortisol levels for improved digestion
  • Go for a walk and get fresh air prior to meals
  • Chew food slowly and thoroughly for improved digestion

8. Get active…but not too active

The relationship between physical activity and inflammation is a complicated one. There is still a lot that we don’t know here, but basically both too little and too much exercise can increase inflammatory markers. Exercise itself actually promotes acute inflammation and stress on your body. In the appropriate context, this type of acute inflammation from exercise is resolved and actually helps your body to build up its antioxidant defenses, therefor consistent exercise overtime can actually help to reduce inflammation (12,13).

That being said, acute inflammation from exercise can become chronic if you are over exercising and not giving your body a chance to rest and repair or you are are under-fueling. Over-exercising can also be extremely disruptive to our endocrine systems which can impact the balance of hormones in your body (14).

Basically, exercise is a good thing until it’s not. Exercise is going to look a little bit different for everyone, and it’s really important to listen to your body and understand when rigorous exercise is appropriate and when it’s not. I encourage you to focus on joyful movement that FEELS good whether that be a spin class, a walk around the block, or some simple stretching. 


9. Sleep more

Sleep is the cornerstone of good health. A lack of sleep is associated with higher markers of inflammation and an increased risk for chronic disease (15). Sleep is your body’s time to rest, repair and remove toxins. Have you ever been sleep deprived and felt like you want to eat ALL THE FOODS? It's not just in your head! A lack of sleep also impacts your hunger and fullness hormones. Try these tips for improving quality and duration of sleep:

  • Eliminate caffeine after 3pm and switch to herbal tea
  • Establish a relaxing nighttime routine to wind down for 15-30 minutes prior to bed
  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink - going to bed hungry and going to bed overly full can both impact sleep!
  • Shut off phone + television 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime
  • Manage your worries - try making a to-do list for the next day or writing down your worries on a pad of paper or in your phone prior to laying down

10. Pay attention to what goes on your body

Skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything we put on it. Chemicals in commercial products can disrupt the endocrine system which can be a huge source of inflammation. Read labels and look for products free of parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, petroleum jelly, PEG, food dye and coloring and synthetic fragrances (16). Buy natural products with short, recognizable ingredient lists (just like the goal with food!).


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References

  1. Minihane, A. M., Vinoy, S., Russell, W. R., Baka, A., Roche, H. M., Tuohy, K. M., … Calder, P. C. (2015). Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation. 
  2. Tanmeet, Sethi. (2018). A Primer on Treating Chronic Inflammation with Food.
  3. Martí Juanola-Falgarona, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Núria Ibarrola-Jurado, Antoni Rabassa-Soler, Andrés Díaz-López, Marta Guasch-Ferré, Pablo Hernández-Alonso, Rafael Balanza, Mònica Bulló. (2014). Effect of the glycemic index of the diet on weight loss, modulation of satiety, inflammation, and other metabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial.
  4. López-Alarcón M, Perichart-Perera O, Flores-Huerta S, et al. (2014). Excessive refined carbohydrates and scarce micronutrients intakes increase inflammatory mediators and insulin resistance in prepubertal and pubertal obese children independently of obesity.
  5. Calder, P. C. (2010). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes. 
  6. Slavin, J. L., & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. 
  7. Root MM, McGinn MC, Nieman DC, et al. (2012). Combined Fruit and Vegetable Intake Is Correlated with Improved Inflammatory and Oxidant Status from a Cross-Sectional Study in a Community Setting. 
  8. Lieke WJ van den Elsen, Hazel C Poyntz, Laura S Weyrich, Wayne Young, and Elizabeth E Forbes-Blom. (2017). Embracing the gut microbiota: the new frontier for inflammatory and infectious diseases.
  9. Slavich GM, Irwin MR. From Stress to Inflammation and Major Depressive Disorder: A Social Signal Transduction Theory of Depression.
  10. Harvard Medical School. (2010). Stress and the sensitive gut. 
  11. Mertz, Howard. UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders. Stress and the Gut.
  12. Woods, J. A., Wilund, K. R., Martin, S. A., & Kistler, B. M. (2012). Exercise, Inflammation and Aging.
  13. Henson J, Yates T, Edwardson CL, et al. Sedentary Time and Markers of Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation in a High Risk Population.
  14. Khazaei M. (2012). Chronic Low-grade Inflammation after Exercise: Controversies.
  15. Mullington JM, Simpson NS, Meier-Ewert HK, Haack M. (2010). Sleep Loss and Inflammation. 
  16. Glassman K. (2018). Nutritious Life Studio.

 

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Vegan Thai Red Curry

This super simple and hearty Thai red curry is packed with bright, fresh flavors for a satisfying, wholesome plant-based meal. It's a total crowd pleaser and holds up super well for make ahead lunches. Vegan and gluten-free friendly!

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Vegan Thai Red Curry

serves 4-6


Ingredients:

  • 1 white onion, sliced into strips
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 large bell peppers, sliced intro strips
  • 2 large carrots, sliced diagonally into ovals
  • 2 cups green beans, diced
  • 1 small carton baby portobello mushrooms 
  • 3 tbsp thai red curry paste
  • 2  russet potatoes, diced
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach 
  • 1.5 cans water (use empty coconut milk can)
  • 2 tbsp liquid aminos (can also use low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt & pepper to tast

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large dutch oven or deep pan
  2. Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes to soften
  3. Add garlic and ginger, season with salt and pepper and stir for about 30 seconds
  4. Add peppers, carrots and green beans and saute for 5 minutes
  5. Add mushrooms and season with more salt and pepper
  6. Mix in the red curry pasta and stir to coat vegetables
  7. Mix in coconut milk + water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through
  8. Add liquid aminos, lime juice and spinach. Add additional liquid aminos if needed.

*Serve over brown basmati rice and enjoy!

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Spring Vegetable Rotini with Garlic Lemon and Goat Cheese

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Spring vegetable rotini with garlic lemon and goat cheese

serves 4


Ingredients

  • 1 box Banza chickpea rotini (I also love lentil pasta)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets 
  • 1/4 sweet onion, finely diced 
  • 1 cup green peas 
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped 
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • Juice of 1.5 lemons
  • 2-3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tsp ed pepper flakes 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil 
  • Optional: fresh parsley and red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tsp ghee or olive oil in a large pan over medium and add broccoli florets. Sauté  for 2-3 mins. 
  3. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper and sauté for another 2-3 minutes until broccoli softens
  4. Add frozen green peas, spinach and artichokes to the pan. Saute until spinach wilts.
  5. Add pasta to the pan along with another drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, goat cheese, salt pepper and red pepper flakes. 
  6. Top with fresh parsley and more red pepper flakes
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Black Bean and Corn Salad

I'll cut right to the chase here -- this zesty Black and Corn Salad full of crunchy veggies should makes it's way into your life ASAP. It's super easy to make (just a little chopping required) and it's full of fun and fresh flavors like cilantro, chili powder, cumin, garlic and fresh lime juice.

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You can eat it by itself like I did, use it to top grilled chicken or fish tacos, as a dip (give me allll the tortilla chips) or as a side dish to pretty much anything. Can you tell I really like this salad? 


black bean and corn salad

Serves 4


Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans (look for no salt added and BPA free cans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1 head of cilantro, chopped well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 3-4 limes (depending on how juicy they are and how much you like)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 avocados, diced

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except avocado in a large bowl. Let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours to chill before eating. 
  2. Mix in cubed avocado prior to eating.
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Guacamole Greens Salad with a Jalapeno Lime Cilantro Dressing

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One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to recreate restaurant favorites at home. This is my copycat Sweet Green Guacamole Greens salad and I'm pretty sure I'll be making this on a weekly basis from now on. Sweet Green lovers you know the addiction is REAL.

This salad is significantly cheaper to make at home and I think my Jalapeno Cilantro Lime dressing might give Sweet Green a run for their money!

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Guacamole Greens salad with a jalapeno lime cilantro dressing

Makes enough dressing for about 6 servings


Dressing ingredients

  • 1 bunch cilantro (stems are fine! cut off the long pieces at the end)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed (use less if you don't like spice!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

  • Mixed greens
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • baked or chicken breast, diced
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • sliced cucumber
  • avocado 
  • corn tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Combine salad ingredients in desired amounts. 
  3. Toss salad with dressing and enjoy!
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Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad with a Spicy Almond Butter Sauce

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If you're looking for a fun, flavorful and veggie packed meal to spice up your weekday lunches, I GOTCHU. I'm super excited to share this recipe with you guys because it's quick to make (30 mins or less...I promise!), it's loaded with fiber from the crunchy veggies, quinoa and chickpeas, and the sauce is made with some of my favorite flavors including ginger, garlic, sesame oil, almond butter and a little heat.

This is a great meal to batch prep ahead of time for a couple days, since it holds up super well in the fridge (aka it stays nice and crunchy).

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Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad with a Spicy Almond Butter Sauce

Serves 4-5


Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 small head shredded purple cabbage
  • 3 cups shredded or spiralized carrots
  • 1.5 cucumbers, seeds scooped out and thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup UNCOOKED quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 head of cilantro, chopped

Sauce Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 3-4 tablespoons warm water

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions
  2. Make sauce and set aside. Adjust water and spice to your liking.
  3. Chop veggies and combine in a large bowl with sauce
  4. Optional toppings: sesame seeds, cilantro, sriracha

 

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Spicy Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

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spicy peanut soba noodle salad

serves 4-6


Salad Ingredients

  • 8 oz box of buckwheat soba noodles
  • 3 cups of carrot noodles or shredded carrots
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced 
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • Optional: 2 cups shredded chicken

Spicy Peanut Sauce Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup unsalted smooth peanut butter*
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 
  • 2 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño or 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spice)
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup 
  • 3-4 tablespoons warm water

Directions

  1. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl or blend in a food processor/blender and set aside. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed to reach desired consistency.
  2. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  3. In a large bowl. Mix together salad ingredients and dressing. 
  4. Top with more cilantro and toasted sesame seeds

*You can substitute almond butter or sunflower seed for peanut butter

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Mexican Quinoa Salad

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Mexican Quinoa Salad

Serves 4


Ingredients

Salad

  • 1.5 cups COOKED quinoa
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small container baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 head of cilantro finely chopped
  • Optional: cotija cheese for topping

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside
  3. Combine salad and dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Adjust salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.
  4. Enjoy!
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