Life and Garden Update + A Giant Summer Salad

For all of last month, I did something I’ve never done since I started this site: I took a break from blogging, complete with not posting on my Facebook page, logging into Pinterest, or doing any other of the tasks that seem to be required these days if one wants to keep a steady stream of traffic coming to visit their blog.

I needed the break and I’m really glad I took it. Stepping away from blogging gave me time to reflect on how different my life is now from when I first started Healthy Green Kitchen. Some examples: when I started blogging, my kids were pretty young and now they are teenagers; I was casually doing karate and now I am competing in powerlifting. I was content to sit in front of the computer for many hours every single day working on this blog and now I am not (there are simply too many other things I want to do, including becoming a nutrition and strength coach…I am currently taking the steps necessary to make this happen). I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can switch things up here to better reflect the current state of “me”. I don’t quite have it all figured out; I’m trying to just be patient and see how things here naturally evolve.

winnie abramson garden

winnie abramson garden

Something else that’s evolved quite a bit since I started this site is my garden. After focusing on expansion year after year, my husband and I recently made the decision to change direction a bit. We had built so many raised beds for veggies: I really couldn’t keep up with all the maintenance. So we made the garden smaller in order to create a space that’s more manageable. We also fenced in portion of of our yard next to the garden to accomodate five fruit trees (2 varieties of heirloom apples, 2 varieties of plums, and one nectarine) and more room for our chickens to roam.

plums_

It’s been raining a ton, so I haven’t had to water much, which is always nice. I am of course looking forward to our first cukes, tomatoes, etc. In the meantime I’ve been enjoying lots of fresh herbs, radishes and all sorts of greens daily. Here are some garden photos…I’ll share more as the summer moves along!

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Citrusy Green Smoothie

I was a pretty early adopter of the green smoothie, but I burned out on them a while back. I was really excited about trying the Citrusy Green Smoothie on page 20 of the new book Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables: Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More, though. It looked different from any green smoothie I’ve had before…

green smoothie_text

I’ve now made this smoothie a few times and I really love it: the fresh orange juice and the pineapple combine with the greens to make a very delicious drink. The other thing I like about this smoothie is that it has some coconut oil in it. If you are going to drink green smoothies, I always advise adding some fat because fat helps your body to assimilate the calcium in the greens. Coconut oil is a good source of healthy fat, and makes a tasty addition here.

Though I haven’t yet had a chance to make more of the recipes from Brassicas, I am very much looking forward to doing so.

book cover

Author Laura B. Russell does a really nice job of focusing on both the nutritional benefits of these veggies and the cooking methods that allow them to shine. There are chapters on Kale, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage, Broccoli, Leafy Brassicas, Asian Brassicas, and Root Brassicas and Kohlrabi; the photographs by Sang An are really beautiful.

Also of note: the book addresses the potential downside of consuming too many brassicas raw (there is a concern that doing so can interfere with thyroid function). The upshot (which I discuss in my book, as well): don’t eat loads of uncooked brassicas. This means it’s best not to go overboard with the green smoothies, especially if you have a thyroid problem (honestly: I don’t think it’s a good plan to go overboard with any food, no matter how healthy it’s supposed to be!). There’s nothing to worry about as far as cooked brassicas go, though. So eat those cooked greens, etc. to your heart’s delight.

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Spring Eating Tips Inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine

Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to my friend Kristin Misik. Kristin is an acupuncturist, herbalist and life coach in New York City. We go to the same CrossFit gym, and we share a passion for eating whole, locally sourced foods and living a sustainable lifestyle.

When we were talking about what sort of guest post she might want to do, Kristin suggested writing up some tips for how best to eat in the spring according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Since we do seem to be done with the very cold weather, I really loved this idea. So take it away, Kristin!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a fundamental way to prevent illness and imbalance is to live in harmony with your environment. Depending on your locale, you may not yet see the evidence of new life bursting forth, but there is a distinct shift in our body’s energy as the hours of daylight increase and the earth starts leaning a little further south.

According to TCM, spring is the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs are in charge of regulating a smooth and soothing flow of energy throughout the whole person (body and mind). Unfortunately, they’re prone to congestion (aka “stagnation”) because most people take in too many poor quality fats and denatured foods, chemicals, medications, and intoxicants.

What happens when liver or gallbladder energy isn’t flowing properly? We can experience anger and irritability (and for women: PMS), depression, insomnia, and an inability to lead or make decisions. We are also more susceptible to problems like muscle pulls and strains, joint pains, and headaches when the liver and gallbladder are out of balance. The good news is there are many ways to alter your dietary and food preparation habits in order to prevent a major liver and gallbladder meltdown.

Springtime is the best time to start integrating the following changes, especially if you are a seasonal allergy sufferer:

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Nourishing Lentil Soup

I generally have a lot to say, but this week has been different. Since last Friday’s horrific events, I have sat down to write something here a number of times, but I haven’t been able to string words together in any sort of meaningful way. I hope it goes without saying that my thoughts are with everyone touched by the tragedy in Newtown, though. I am so very sorry for your loss; I am also amazed and inspired by your strength and grace.

It’s never been more clear to me than now that when the world scares and saddens me, I retreat to my kitchen. It’s a place where things make sense. It’s where I feel happy and safe.

As you can probably imagine, and maybe like many of you, I’ve busied myself more than ever in the kitchen this week. I’ve made batch after batch of this toffee, as well as a slew of cookies. These were gifts for teachers and others who make a difference in my family’s world…they are small tokens, but they’re infused with love…love I hope the recipients will feel this year more than ever before.

As for this lentil soup (that I adapted from the wonderful Nourished Kitchen), I believe meals built around foods like this provide vital nutrition and much needed comfort during trying times. Many of us surely need that right now…

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One Simple Change: Eat More Leafy Greens

soba noodles with kale

Welcome to the 9th post of One Simple Change, my year-long series of tips geared at “healthifying” your lifestyle, one week at a time. (I’m pretty sure I made up the word “healthifying”, but I think you know what I mean ;)) Today, I want to talk about the benefits of consuming leafy greens, because … Read more