Monday, September 5, 2011

Foodie Week! Pineapple Gazpacho & More!

Well, hello, and happy Labor Day to those off holiday-ing!

Today I will fore-go the usual Blog Boost Monday series in lieu of this week's specific theme on menus and recipes!

Now, I must start off by saying this was a little hard-- I have never been one to plan out the meals for the week. I am much too indecisive on a daily basis as far as what I will feel like eating and thus prepare my meals according to what I'm craving... And if it comes down to it, based upon what needs to be eaten soonest. This allows for more flexibility for me as I don't EVER want my culinary passions to be weighed down by planning it out. It takes the joy out of the food and the preparation thereof-- for me, anyway.

Let me further introduce this week's theme by clarifying my own diet, and by making everyone aware that what I love may not be what you love to eat, but I am sharing in hopes that you may just give it a try and actually like it! I have to say that I am currently a high-raw vegan foodie... Meaning that while I still cook some of the things I eat, I eat as much raw food as possible as it has a myriad of health benefits for the body, is better for digestion, is readily available to eat without having to cook, plan too far ahead, etc. Such was not always the case. I used to eat all kinds of meat, cheese, bread, etc. (Every once in a blue moon we might purchase an organic multigrain bread of some sort from a local bakery, but in general, we abstain from grains and gluten and anything that has to be 'browned' when cooking, as that actually becomes carcinogenic within the body.) So imagine the typical American diet, chock full of fried foods in trans fats (which the body cannot recognize or process, so it just holds onto it and then you continue to carry it around...), high fructose corn syrup which is typically comprised of genetically modified corn and goes through 16 different chemical processes to alter it, cheese (highly saturated fat), breads (gluten galore and carcinogenic caramelization that I once so-loved), and meat-- dead-cow sandwiches, dead-chicken dinners, etc. The body's digestive tract has a difficult time breaking these things down which result in many of the health problems we see today that people just associate with 'getting older'. It's really because after so many years of the body being put to work overtime trying to process all of this stuff, not to mention all the processed refined sugar junk and empty calorie sodas, etc., that are consumed, the body just begins to shut down. Enter diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression (which is highly linked to gluten), and a number of other things. And don't forget some of the "food allergies" that are more than likely allergic responses to the pesticides and chemicals used on certain foods rather than the foods themselves!

Anyway, I digress. But I would like to go ahead and share with you the foods and menu items that I'd like to feature for today!

Green Smoothie (which doubles as my Super Baby Food recipe!)

Ingredients: 5 bananas, 2 oranges (peeled and de-seeded), 2 big handfuls of baby spinach, 1-3 lacinato kale leaves (depending on size), 1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen ones work well), 2 tbsp flaxseed (pre-ground works easier unless you have a high-power blender to handle the whole seeds), 2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, 1/4-1/2 cup filtered water, a pinch of spirulina powder (a little goes a long way!), and optional ingredient is 1/2 or whole avocado, depending upon how thick or creamy you'd prefer the smoothie to be.

Blend everything until smooth and enjoy!

Fruit with Raw Honey Drizzle

I used grapefruit, orange, raspberry, kiwi, and blueberry as those are what I had at the time. You can use any array of fruits... Mango, banana, strawberry, etc. You could even add coconut flakes if you wanted! And top it all with a drizzle of raw honey! (Raw honey still contains enzymes which have not been destroyed by heating the honey. Raw enzymes = good!)

Pineapple Gazpacho

There are so many variations of gazpacho and so many ways to adjust it to your individual taste. I have always been a huge fan of traditional tomato-based gazpacho, but I've been on a pineapple kick ever since I got pregnant over a year ago... And after trying this tropical gazpacho elsewhere, i contrived my own version. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 2 cups of chopped pineapple, 1 cucumber (peeled, sliced, de-seeded), 1/4-1/2 cup of either pineapple juice or filtered water (depending on if you want it more sweet), 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, dash of cayenne pepper to taste, salt to taste (I used approximately 1 tsp), and a tbsp of either lime juice or apple cider vinegar (whatever you prefer-- I used apple cider vinegar).

Place all ingredients in a high-power blender and blend until smooth. I used avocado slices to garnish to top of my servings, but you can use cilantro if you're a fan (my husband doesn't care for it that much), and if you wanted to give it a touch of color for presentation you could sprinkle either a bit of paprika or cayenne on top, depending on if you want it to have an extra bite. Your choice!

Did you know? Pineapple contains the extract Bromelain which reduces swelling and inflammation, especially of the sinuses! And cucumber peels are perfect for cooling and healing your skin with topical blemishes and inflammation, and its healing enzymes also reduce puffiness and creasing around the eyes!

Lentil Quinoa Stew

1 cup green lentils, 1 cup quinoa (I use the white variety as it is less expensive), 3-4 carrots chopped, 1-2 pressed or minced garlic cloves, 1 large can (24 oz.) of crushed or diced tomatoes, 1-2 handfuls of baby spinach, optional: sliced onion (we used to include it but like it better without it now), salt to taste, dash of garlic powder, ground black & white peppers, pinches of oregano, savory, and basil, and 2-4 bay leaves.

Start off by boiling the lentils and quinoa on high heat with salt. (Tip: if you get to soak these beforehand, they will take less time to cook.) As soon as they begin to boil, turn down to medium heat and add carrots, tomatoes, garlic cloves, and other seasonings. About 2-3 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the baby spinach so that it is still very fresh and a bright green. You don't want to cook out too many of the nutrients. You can always feel free to adjust this recipe to your taste and add potato, okra, etc. We don't use potato in it as it is very starchy, but occasionally will use okra. I love making this year-round, but it is especially perfect for fall! Best served with a side salad of organic mixed greens and a homemade vinaigrette. (I often make a spicy sweet dressing of raw cane sugar, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, chipotle powder, sprinkle of garlic powder, and cumin. Also good with a squeeze of orange juice. Play with it and season it to your liking! Place in a jar, shake well, and serve either on top of the salad or on the side!)

And that's it for today's menu! Enjoy!!

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