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Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

Creamy & Delicious Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

There are so many reasons to love Fall, but perhaps most of all, the changing of the seasons marks the harvest; a time when an abundance of delicious fruit and vegetables arrives at the Farmers Market, including apples, figs, persimmons and winter squash. Butternuts, delicata, sweet pumpkin pie varieties & big orange carving pumpkins are piled up in abundance, freshly picked from the field.

With so much amazing produce and cooling weather trends, it is easy to spend time in the kitchen in front of the oven making warm soups and stews that nourish the body and soul. Taking time to make a healthy and satisfying soup or stew is a perfect way to stay healthy as we head into the holiday season. One of my go-to faves is butternut squash soup with coconut milk. Super creamy and ridiculously flavorful, this soup warms the body to the core and leaves the pallet appreciating the burst of flavors with each new bite.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 2 medium butternut squash sliced in half with the seeds removed

  • 1 onion

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 2 celery stalks

  • 1 – 2 apples

  • 1 – 2 tbs coconut oil or any high-heat cooking oil

  • 4 cups veggie broth

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 1 tbs sage

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

  • ¼ tsp black pepper

  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

  • salt to taste

  • extra coconut cream, cilantro or parsley, roasted pumpkin seeds, and/or red pepper flakes to garnish

 

Directions

 

  • – Roast the butternut squash in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for  approximately 45-60 minutes, until it turns golden brown. I like to use Pyrex glass dishes but you can also use cookie sheets with parchment paper. Either way, place the squash with the flesh side down. An optional step is to coat the squash in a small amount of olive oil (or other cooking oil)—this simply adds some extra flavor. 

  • – While the butternut is roasting, dice the onion, celery, and apples. Sauté them in the cooking oil until they are browned.

  • – Take the butternut out of the oven and set aside to cool. Once you can handle the squash, scoop the meat out into a blender. Puree the roasted butternut with the can of coconut milk. Set aside a little bit of the coconut milk for the garnish.

  • – Then, add veggie broth and the blended squash mixture to the soup. Add your seasoning and puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender, wait until the soup cools and blend in a regular blender.

  • – Taste the soup and salt to your satisfaction. If the veggie broth is salty enough, you may not need to add any.

  • – Garnish with extra coconut cream, cilantro or parsley, seeds, and/or red pepper flakes.

Fall Focus: Top Tips For Finding Balance During Vata Season

Happy Autumnal Equinox! Here at Five Pillars we hold the Intention to move through life in synch with the seasons. Listening to the messages and even advice each has to share with us and going with the flow or counterbalancing where beneficial – letting the pillars of Right Movement, Nutrition, Breathing, and Relaxation support and inform our choices.

According to Ayurveda—an ancient traditional system of medicine in India that’s been called Yoga’s sister science—Fall is Vata season. As the humidity of summer begins to wane and the Northeast experiences the incredible annual display of colorful Fall leaves, you may discover some signs and symptoms that suggest your Vata dosha is aggravated. You can adopt Vata-balancing practices to attain optimal health and feel your best.

But first, what’s a dosha? Three primary energies (aka doshas) based on the elements make up our physical and mental constitutions. These energies are Vata (Air & Space), Pitta (Fire) & Kapha (Earth + Water). Each of us has all of these elements, though one will likely be dominant in our constitutional makeup. If you want to #GoDeeper, try an online quiz.

The cooling weather patterns, Fall winds and shifting daylight hours that have arrived with the equinox often aggravate Vata. After all, the qualities of the Vata dosha are cool, light, dry, moving, and erratic—just like the weather patterns—and a basic tenet of Ayurveda is like increases like. Some common symptoms that occur when the Vata dosha is out of balance are anxiety, dry or chapped skin, indigestion, sudden bouts of fatigue, and light interrupted sleep.

Additional symptoms can occur on the physical or mental dimensions.

Common physical signs of a Vata imbalance:

  • • cold hands and feet
  • • constipation
  • • gas
  • • bloating
  • • aversion to cold and wind
  • • irregular appetite
  • • twitches
  • • spasms
  • • restlessness
  • • low body weight
  • • aversion to loud noises
  • • hypertension
  • • arthritis
  • • weakness
  • • restlessness
  • • irregular menstruation

Common mental signs of a Vata imbalance:

  • • nervousness
  • • fear
  • • panic
  • • racing mind
  • • worry
  • • spacey
  • • scattered
  • • inconsistency

The Five Pillars of Fall Wellness can help bring you back into balance, achieving your optimal state of being.


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Right Intention: Want To Book The Next Plane Ticket Out Of Here? Think Again And Dig Into A Steady Routine


When the Vata winds blow, we all need a little more grounding and stability. Now is the time to dive deeper into your mindfulness practices and stick to routines. It may help to begin by creating healthy patterns of eating and sleeping—try to sleep before 10 p.m. and eat regular meals around the same time each day. Beyond the basics, this is the perfect time to pick up or continue a yoga and meditation practice. Set an intention to be gentle and loving with yourself, and allow for plenty of time to reflect and go within. Your inner clarity will keep your health and wellness on track no matter what life throws your way.

Our recommendations: Take time to set an intention to stay grounded and stable during Vata season. Avoid the temptation to discard your routines and book the next plane ticket out of here. Instead, take a moment to organize your days into a soothing routine full of self-care and balance.


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Right Movement: Take It Easy


Choose a Right Movement practice that is light and easy on your body. Focus on flexibility and balance rather than long distances and speed.

Top movement tips: Walk through the park or take an easy breezy stroll with a friend. Power down your yoga practice and opt for therapeutics or gentle yoga, yoga nidra, tai chi or qi gong. Take some time out to practice pranayama and meditation. Focus on breathing deeply and be gentle with yourself.


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Right Breathing: Alternate Nostril Breathing


Pranayama (aka breathing practice) has incredible balancing effects on the entire body and can ward off unwanted stress & anxiety. Our favorite pranayama for inner balance and harmony during the Fall season is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, otherwise known as Alternate Nostril Breathing. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, helping to focus the mind and keep unwanted stress and anxiety at bay, providing the very foundation we need to stay peaceful and responsive no matter what the Vata winds blow into our lives.


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Right Nutrition: True Nourishment For the Fall Season


Fresh, cooling crudites were perfect for the hot summer, but the crisp fall air invites forth a natural desire to nourish ourselves with warming butternut squash soups, more protein, and hearty stews. Freshly cooked veggies are easier for our bodies to digest and assimilate than raw produce. If you are already in the practice of eating fresh, seasonal foods and shopping at the farmer’s market, you may notice the natural seasonal shift toward heartier produce that balances the vata dosha.

Begin to see your vegetables as vessels for healing herbs and spices. Each of the ancient, lasting cuisines around the world incorporate delicious, healing herbs and spices into meals. Oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary make their way into Italian sauces. Turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cayenne spice up Indian fare.

As you know, food is so much more than fuel and nutrients. Many of the aromatic herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-fungal properties. As we spice up our recipes and savor the incredible flavor of international cuisine, our meals become medicine that support the immune system, keeping seasonal colds and the flu at bay.

Try cooking a healing coconut-milk curry with plenty of spices and seasonal vegetables. For inspiration, view this recipe: South Indian Style Vegetable Curry. For more information about Ayurvedic wisdom, check out this article: Vata Pacifying Diet.

Additional Vata-Pacifying Recommendations:

  • *Eat full-sized, well-portioned meals, but avoid overeating.
  • *Sip on tea and warm liquids throughout the day. Avoid chilled beverages.
  • *Sweet, sour, and salty tastes pacify Vata. Favor warming, oily, and heavy foods such as natural grains (particularly rice and wheat), soups and stews, cooked root vegetables, and sweet fruits (bananas, avocados, coconut, figs, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapples, dates, etc.). If you consume animal products, warm milk soothes Vata. Buy organic eggs, chicken, turkey and seafood.
  • *Integrate Vata-pacifying spices: cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seed, basil, cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme, and black pepper.
  • *Avoid bitter, pungent and astringent foods. Minimize your intake of beans, aside from mung bean dahl and tofu. Light, dry fruits such as apples and cranberries can aggravate Vata. To avoid indigestion, steer clear from cabbage, sprouts, and raw vegetables in general.

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Right Relaxation: Self-Care


Book your favorite masseuse, invest in acupuncture, or get some reflexology done. These practices boost circulation and promote relaxation. Consider investing in a weekly or monthly self-care routine that includes your favorite treatments.

Want to keep it simple and stay at home?

  • *Give yourself a massage using warming oils such as sesame or almond.
  • *Play relaxing music
  • *Connect friends who make you feel calm and relaxed
  • *Try aromatherapy
  • *Take deep breaths often
  • *Pause in between tasks
  • *Take an Epsom salts bath
If you’d like to discuss how best to attune to the season, we’re here to support you! Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, or for an individual consultation.

 

 

*Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Beet Pesto

Summer produce brings to mind juicy heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet fruits & an over supply of summer squash (aka zucchini). It’s easy to forget that early summer in the North East (and everywhere else with 4 seasons) offers an abundance of roots and greens rather than quintessential summer crops. Roots and greens are ideal foods for detoxing from the sluggishness and stagnation that can build up during winter and spring.

While roasted veggies may feel like a dish designed for the colder months, this roasted beet pesto is the perfect summer delicacy — it is both light and soothing on a hot summer day. Plus it aids digestion and adds a beautiful color to any party spread.


What makes beet pesto a superfood?


Quartered Chioggia Beets

Lowers your blood pressure

Prevents cancer & fights inflammation

Chalk full of fiber aiding digestive health

Boosts immune system with natural antibiotic properties

Essential fats for brain power

A naturally sweet and delicious seasonal delicacy


Ready to get started?


Ingredients:

  • – 2 cups roasted beets or approximately 3-4 medium-sized raw beets for roasting
  • – 1 tbs. walnut oil for roasting the beets (or any other high heat oil)
  • – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • – 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts
  • – 1 tsp. salt
  • – 3/4 cup parmasan
  • – 2-4 cloves garlic (for your taste preference)
  • – 1 tbs. nutritional yeast
  • – 2 tbs. lemon juice or 1 tbs. apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  • Option 1: Wash and peel the beets; cube them; & lightly coat them in walnut oil. Roast the beets at 375° for 40-50 minutes on a baking sheet uncovered. Allow beets to cool.
  • Option 2: Scrub the beets and roast them whole in a pyrex glass pan covered in aluminum foil at 375° for 60-80 minutes. Allow beets to cool. Then, peel the skin away from the beet meat.
  • Add roasted beets, roasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, olive oil, nutritional yeast & lemon juice to a food processor. Pulse until you reach your desired texture (feel free to keep the pesto a little bit coarse or mix thoroughly for a smooth texture).
  • Enjoy on homemade pizza, tartines, sandwiches or wraps, or use as a delicious veggie dip!

Summer Bliss Balls 

Summer is finally in full-swing — days are long and often bustling with activity. Whether you are putting in full days at work (accruing vacation time of course) or hitting the trails and beaches for some summer fun, these Summer Bliss Balls are a perfect addition to your snack pack. Known to boost moods and prevent hanger (hungry + anger), this ideal summer snack will keep you healthy, happy and sated after yoga class or during any of your favorite summer activities.


A Delicious Energy-Bar Replacement
Good for you & good for the Earth!

It wasn’t long ago that the packaged foods industry discovered our need for energy bars — the perfect nutritious snack that can quickly boost vitality when we don’t have time to sit down for a full meal. Head into any grocery store, and you have your pick of hundreds of flavors and a variety of health-boosting superfood ingredients to meet your needs. Once you make these Bliss Balls, however, the appeal of packaged energy bars will fade. Exceptionally delicious, customizable (add your favorite superfoods and herbs), nutritious and free of single-use packaging, these healthy energy boosting treats will likely become a staple in your kitchen.


What makes these Summer Bliss Balls ah-maze-ing?


Ridiculously delicious for maximum enjoyment

High quality brain boosting fats

High protein for muscle recovery

High fiber for digestive support

Chalk full of antioxidants and fatty acids for cellular regeneration

Customizable and Easy to Make!

A perfect combination for long-lasting energy


Ready to get started?


*Makes approximately 40 bliss balls. Whoa 40!? They keep in the freezer and you will be surprised how quickly you go through these, especially if you have kids! If your food processor is on the small side or you are not sure how much you will love bliss balls, consider cutting the ingredients in this recipe in half.

Ingredients:

  • – 14 oz or 1 jar coconut butter (can sub peanut butter or almond butter or add approx. 4 oz or 1/2 cup of each of your favorite nut butters for variation)
  • – 2 cups shredded coconut (1 cup goes into the mix plus an additional cup is needed for rolling the balls)
  • – 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • – 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • – 1 cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips
  • – 12 pitted medjool dates
  • – 4 tbs. coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • – 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • – Optional: 2 tsp. vanilla and/or cinnamon
  • – Additional variations: adaptogenic herbs, collagen peptides, protein powder, your favorite superfood, dried fruit (goji berries, currants, etc.)

Directions:

  • – Warm up the coconut butter in a simmering hot water bath for approx. 10 minutes until coconut butter is creamy/liquid in texture.
  • – Place sunflower and flax seeds, dates, and 1 cup of shredded coconut into a food processor & pulse until ingredients are chopped without becoming too fine.
  • – Add coconut butter (or other nut butter + coconut/almond milk) and vanilla/cinnamon to the food processor. Blend until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed but not smooth.
  • – Add cacao nibs or chocolate chips at the very end and mix for 5-10 seconds.
  • – Pour dough into a big mixing bowl. Add the coconut or almond milk & liquified coconut oil and mix into the dough.
  • – Create 2-bite-sized balls (approx. 1″ x 1″) with the dough — roll each ball in shredded coconut.
  • – Place each ball onto a sheet pan with parchment paper. When the pan is full of bliss balls, place the sheet into the freezer. Transfer these summer treats to a freezer bag for storage once they are solid.
  • – Allow these delicacies to soften for 5-10 minutes before diving in. A perfect pairing with fresh summer strawberries and stone fruit!

Variations:

  • – Want something a little sweeter? Add more dates!
  • – Transform these health nuggets into raw cookies: Sub chocolate chips for cacao nibs & add more dates.
  • – Looking for a protein boost? Add your favorite protein powder along with some additional coconut or almond milk.
  • – Play with flavors:
  • Sub raw oats for flax seeds and raisins for cacao nibs for oatmeal cookie bliss.
  • Replace coconut butter with peanut butter and sub cashews for the flax seeds for peanut butter cookie bliss.
  • Do you love peppermint? Add some peppermint extract and sub chocolate chips for cacao nibs to create your own peppermint patty bliss balls.

Our Top Four Tips For Spring Cleaning

Early Spring invites a wave of new crops to the Farmers’ Markets. Roots, peas, greens and strawberries will slowly begin to make their way into the city and onto our plates, supporting our bodies’ natural detoxification processes.

It is common to feel sluggish and a little bit stagnant at the end of the cold winter months. Just like plants and animals, we also go through natural cycles that reflect seasonal variations in weather patterns and sunlight.

At the beginning of spring, you may find that your body is naturally craving lighter and fresher fare, rather than the rich stews and heavier meals that supported you through winter. When the cravings for wholesome foods begin, do not hesitate to listen- you will not only support your body’s physical health but your mental health as well.

Discover our top four easy breezy tricks for spring cleaning- inside and out!

1) Spring Clean Your Pantry and Refrigerator

Have you heard of the saying that structure implies behavior? The way we set up our kitchen  and the food we keep in our pantries and refrigerators determines what and how we will eat. Take some time to go through your food stash and replace processed, sugar-loaded items with fresh, healthier alternatives.

Consider this simple trick: When you go to the grocery store, begin your shop on the outer periphery of the store, starting with the produce section. You will avoid the colorful temptations of the packaged goods in the center isles.

2) Get Inspired With a Meal Plan

Another way to create heathy behavior is to create a delicious (and doable) meal plan. Take a moment to consider the foods and meals that help your body to thrive. Brainstorm a list of your favorite breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. For inspiration, peruse healthy food blogs and your favorite cookbooks. Consider the influx of spring produce and try to incorporate as much seasonal, fresh (and maybe even local) food as possible.

Tip: Keep your meals simple and fresh to start. Make it easy to follow your meal plan. If you are successful with your first week of meal planning, you are more likely to continue with your healthy habits.

3) Get Your Sweetness From Love Not Sugar

Sugar has made its way into every meal, not to mention drinks and snacks. As a nation, we have such a powerful sweet tooth that companies now add sugar (or corn syrup) to salad dressings, sushi, condiments, soups, sauces, smoothies, yogurts, crackers, breads, and so much more. Our food industry understands the addictive powers of sugar, and they use it so we will crave more and buy more. Read labels, avoid processed foods and cook at home as much as possible, so sugar doesn’t sneak its way onto your plate unconsciously.

So why does this matter? Eating processed foods and sugar spikes our blood sugar levels to unhealthy levels, causing our bodies to quickly respond by releasing the hormone insulin. After spiking in an energetic high, a blood sugar crash with quickly follow. When we repeat this cycle, we can develop insulin resistance and eventually, type-2 diabetes. Beyond wreaking havoc on our hormonal systems and metabolism, our bodies store excess sugar as fat, leading to unwanted and unnecessary weight gain.

Tip: Cut out sugary beverages and you are half-way there. Consider saving your sugar quota for a delicious and satisfying dessert that you share with your loved ones. And enjoy your sweets with some healthy fat, which helps to slow blood sugar spikes.

4) Green Is The New Black

How much green can you fit into your day? Green smoothies, green salads, sautéed greens, stir fries, soups, and even green (kale) chips not only taste delicious when prepared with care, but they support every system within your body, providing essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

We understand that it is so easy to go through your life and skip the greens. When life gets busy, home cooking is stressful and preparing greens can feel like too much work. After all, lettuce and spinach are not designed to fill you up, and this makes them easy to skip.

Tip: Add greens to your meal plan and shopping list, and prepare ahead of time to ensure you treat your body and mind with an abundance of plant-based foods that help you to thrive.

 

* featured image taken from hellonutrarian.com
* body image taken from 101cookbooks.com

Our Favorite Plant-Based Food Blogs

Are you inspired to eat more plant-based meals?


These three plant-based food blogs are chalk full of enchanting seasonal recipes that make ditching animal flesh tasteful and easy. Each author embraces her own creative spin, drawing from international cuisine and local flavors.


Two common fears people have when they are including more plant-based cuisine are:

1) going hungry
2) missing out on essential nutrients such as protein


For years, I thought eating healthy meant going hungry. Discovering how to seriously enjoy plant-based meals with these mind-blowing food blogs helped me to overcome my fears and live nourished.


Prepare yourself for a perspective shift as you come across recipes ranging from Coconut Bacon BLT to In the Buff Smoothie Bowl to Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese. These inspired chefs have taken your favorite meals and turned them into delectable, healthy plant-based treats full of protein and superfoods.


Ready to dish up some inspiration? Check out our three favorite plant-based food blogs.

 

1. 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson

 

Heidi Swanson offers beautiful inspiration for cooking with whole, natural foods. Her blog shares recipes by season, ingredients and mealtime categories. So if you find yourself leaving the farmers’ market or grocery store with three bundles of kale or a bagful of shelling peas and feel joyfully overwhelmed by all of your fresh produce, you will find an array of recipes to help you create a delicious feast that everybody will love. Her recipes are meatless and plant-based, though you will find recipes with and without dairy products. We love her artful pictures and lengthy archive of innovative recipes that will leave you feeling full and energized. She makes wellness seem easy and fun!

 

2. Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon

Angela Liddon’s award-winning blog is designed help you find your inner and outer glow by indulging in mouth-watering, awe-inspiring plant-based recipes. Featuring over 500 recipes, Angela’s goal is equal parts pleasure and health. She says, “I thrive on a diet made up of whole, plant-based foods that are minimally processed and organically grown whenever possible. I make room for dessert, believing a balanced diet can still include indulgences like chocolate or sweet treats (in moderation—usually!).” So if you are ready to discover meat-free, dairy-free and even gluten-free meals, snacks and desserts, look no further. Your journey will quickly become about all of the incredible food you can happily enjoy rather than the foods you are trying to avoid. Check out her Summer Glow Buddha Bowl and Chocolate Raspberry Dreams Breakfast Parfait to get started!

 

3. Post Punk Kitchen by Isa Chandra Moscowitz

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Isa Chandra is the bestselling author of Isa Does It, Veganomicon & Vegan with a Vengeance. Plus she has a restaurant you should go check out called Modern Love based in Brooklyn and Omaha. She makes cooking and eating vegan food fun and delicious. Whether your looking for comfort foods, dessert, or you are seeking so fresh goodies to feel your best, Isa Chandra offers it all.

Craving something sweet? Check out her Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies and savor.

Desire a wholesome meal with some delectable flavors? Check out her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole.



 

 

 

*Featured image & article images taken from 101cookbooks.com, ohsheglows.com & IsaChandra.com.