Herbs for the Spring or Autumn Soul

http://www.today.com/money/tag/fall-foliage

Fall weather brings out the cook in me along with some scrumptious ingredients for one pot meals. I love to play around with the different combinations of herbs, spices, vegetables and legumes to create new dishes. Between my little backyard garden and my CSA (community supported agriculture) there is quite a variety of fresh produce at this time of the year.IMG_0697

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/preserving-the-color-of-fall-foliage.html

This week I was reacquainted with an old favorite herb, sorrel. A member of the oxalis family, sorrel is used widely in European dishes. I was first introduced to sorrel when working with two wonderful herbalists in Branford Connecticut. I’ve mentioned these women in a previous blog post and it occurs to me each time I am reminded of them how much they positively impacted my life. One of my jobs was to run the day to day operations of their herb gardens and shop. I loved getting paid to be in the cutting and formal herb gardens. Sorrel was a favorite herb of mine at the time and so I learned how to prepare it. Since then I have learned more about it’s health benefits and potential risks for certain people.

Sorrel is a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin A and C. Health benefits of sorrel include aiding good eyesight, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the liver, aid digestion and it can increase circulation and energy level. However, due to it’s oxalic acid content people with kidney stones, gallstones or with rheumatic conditions should use it moderately if at all.

I made a lovely sorrel soup this weekend. It is a very simple recipe for such a yummy soup that can be served either warm or cold. While sorrel is considered a spring herb it can also be added into fall recipes as can other leafy greens. Sorrel is one of the first leafy greens to appear in gardens in the spring and it’s tart flavor reawakens our winter palate. In the fall sorrel is equally delicious when started late in the growing season. If it is an older plant it will contain higher levels of oxalic acid which not only effects the taste but is less beneficial in terms of health benefits. Make sure late season sorrel is from a late season crop. Here’s all the ingredients you need…so simple
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I adjusted this recipe from Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sorrel-soup-recipe-zmrz1301zmat.aspx#axzz3FHXPZbNK, I swapped out butter for Earth Balance.

onionsSautee onions

sorrel potato prep1Cut sorrel into ribbons and chop potato into small chunks

ss cookingAdd sorrel and potatoes to onions

sorrel soupBlend together and top with plain Greek yogurt

I served this hot as a first course with ginger glazed salmon and wild rice to follow. I was lucky to have fresh tender sorrel greens available through my CSA, but you can keep this recipe tucked away for spring if you’d like when the new tender growth is readily available.

Happy cooking and eating!

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herb Woman

Roots and herbs she gathers, morning, night and noon, by raising dog star underneath the moon.

In her fragrant kitchen while the lost world sleeps, Gentle midnight priestess, she mixes and steeps.

Shakes the leafy brethren, sorts and scraps with skill, on her vibrant fingers wood and field and hill-

Poppy leaves and wormwood, Peony petals split, dreamy hop flowers added for a headache quilt.

Hands only made for healing, nostrils made for smell, forehead wide and yearning, eyes fixed in a spell.

With the loose prescriptions floating through her head, Such are prayers she mutters ere she goes to bed.

By Eleanor C. Koenig

 

 

 

 

Kira the Wonder Dog’s Greatest Adventure

cherubs & pups 002

On September 8th, Kira the Wonder Dog left this planet for her greatest adventure ever leaving a large hole in my heart. I trust that with time (and apparently a lot of cooking) my heart will mend. Kira brought a smile to so many over the years with her ridiculous antics, sweet smile and her loving loyalty. Her pal Poohger continues to look around the house and yard for her. and when we take our familiar walks through the neighborhood Poohgar stops at all the Kira spots looking around as if she expects her to jump out from the bushes. I must admit I haven’t quite adjusted to the routine of our lives without her. And so this blog post is in honor of our dear friend Kira who brought us all great joy and who is running those grand figure 8s in puppy heaven now.

As the crisp fall air, perfectly blue sky and shorter days become the daily experience I have been gathering the foods I planted this summer to store so the fresh tastes of summer are available during the winter months. This week I have made pesto and pickles…guess it has been a “P” week. There is nothing quite as nice as making a pesto dish in January to remind us that spring will come again before long. In fact I’m not waiting until January to eat some pesto. I found these delightful recipes in Eating Well Magazine and I’ll be making the arugula pesto tonight. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_pesto_recipes

pesto

I also put up about 16 pints of dill pickles, some the refrigerator variety and some the old fashioned canned variety. I like the uncooked version because the healthy bacteria don’t get cooked out of the pickles when you refrigerate them. This weekend I will be putting up several pints of red and green cabbage sauerkraut also without cooking out the healthful bacteria. This is an easy to follow recipe for homemade sauerkraut that I found to be very good: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/homemade-sauerkraut. There are many health benefits to eating traditional fermented foods which I have shared in previous blog posts. If you would like more information check out Dr. David Williams http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-benefits/ and Dr Oz http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/fermented-foods-for-powerful-immunity. Starting with sauerkraut is easy but there are many wonderful quick pickle recipes out there as well. I’m adding a broccoli stem quick pickle I make and eat weekly:

Broccoli Stem Pickles

2 cups broccoli stems

2 tsps rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

½ tsp fresh grated ginger

½ tsp coriander seeds crushed

½ tsp cumin seeds crushed

½ tsp sea salt

Using a sharp knife peel away the fibrous skin of the broccoli and then cut the pale inside trunk into matchsticks.

Blanch broccoli matchsticks for 1 minute in boiling water, rinse immediately with cold water. Then place in glass bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over broccoli matchsticks in glass bowl.

Refrigerate for 2 hours, serve.

Benefits of Broccoli from The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood

           Broccoli supports the liver, spleen, stomach and bladder and helps to regulate circulation. It treats the eyes and helps to reduce eye inflammation. Broccoli is slightly diuretic. It’s anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties are due in part to its immune boosting glusinolates (specifically indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane). Broccoli contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange and is a superior source of vitamin A and K. It has almost as much calcium as whole milk and its calcium is better absorbed. Broccoli contains selenium, is a modest source of alpha tocopherol vitamin E and has value as an antioxidant.

cherubs & pups 004kira snowKira Christmas Dog

So here’s to you Kira girl…we love you and hold you close in our hearts forever.

Take a moment this weekend to tell the people and pets in your life how much they matter to you. Share a meal together without the distraction of phones, TV or computers. Relish these simple times together sharing attention and love and you will be spreading the ripple of that love and appreciation into a world that can at times seem unkind.

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I send prayers of gratitude to all that has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains, the beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them, just as it does me,

And the Earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

And the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me.

I thank the fire that transformed them, just as I wish to be transformed by the fire of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food,

Just as I thank all those that have touched me in so many ways.

Sedonia Cahill

Blessed Be

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.
Certified Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

How many of you remember the children’s rhyme about beans? You know the one that claims the more you eat the more you toot. Ha, Since those early days as a child living in a neighborhood in Northern California where we skipped down the street singing this tune, I’ve come to really appreciate the health benefits of beans….and how to cook them so you don’t toot quite so much.
LEGUMES
http://yumuniverse.com/how-tosday-soaking-and-cooking-legumes/
Heather Crosby of Yum Universe describes how to prepare legumes and why it is important to use the real deal whenever possible rather than from a can. I love the way she outlines yields and cooking time in this blog entry.

Beyond this beans are just plain good for you and offer a very good source of protein and nutrients that is easily digested for most people. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat them either. My rule of thumb goes something likes this…replace red meat with red beans at least once weekly for optimal digestion of proteins. The American Heart Association agrees that beans are preferable to animal proteins for heart health. For some people who suffer from digestive issues such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease eating beans can be challenging but for most of us they are a welcome addition to our protein intake.

There is a wonderful assortment of legumes available on the market today. You can find them in bulk at many small markets and even some of the larger scale grocery stores have added bulk bins so you can grab good quality, organic non-GMO dried beans. Beans and Legumes provide soluble fiber and are packed with nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are a pretty versatile food that can be prepared in a wide range of dishes from around the world. I must say since I’ve replaced meat with beans and bean products such as tofu and tempeh my energy and weight have both markedly improved.
IMG_0452
I’m going to share a favorite snack I make with adzuki beans, a sweet bean originally from japan that is described by many foodies as a super food along with chickpeas, lentils and black beans all of which I eat regularly. This high energy snack is both delicious and nutritious!

Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:
For the adzuki balls:
• 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/4 cup cocoa
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
• 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:
You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out.
• 1 cup of selected topping
• 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:
Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

And for a little childhood humor:

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!

the_bean_eater
http://www.artble.com/artists/annibale_carracci/paintings/the_bean_eater

The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 – 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

Be Well

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Back to School Basics

In some places children have already returned to school with the anticipation that the start of a new adventure brings. Locally we have another week to wind down our summer. Even though the private school where I’m employed as a counselor and nutrition consultant is a year round school I still get that beginning of the school year feeling. It’s something between excitement for all the possibilities and melancholy about the end of another summer season.
back-to-school-apple_14065384591
In keeping with the beginning of the school year theme as it relates to my health coaching practice, I wanted to share some ideas for how to pack healthy, brain food for your child/ren that doesn’t set them apart from their peers. Let’s make eating healthy the cool thing to do this year and see if it can become the new cool. Something as simple as cream cheese (or Tofutti dairy free cream cheese) topped with fresh fruit is sure to grab kids attention.
back-to-school-snacks
Other ideas range from fruit kabobs to assorted wraps. Most fruit will keep in a lunchbox and when it’s as easy as sliding off a skewer into your mouth who can resist.
27465_pineapple_grape_kebab_620
http://www.chow.com/food-news/89934/27-healthy-snack-ideas-for-kids-lunch-boxes/
Fruit-Kabobs-410x273
http://www.mysporties.com/tuesday-tip-snacks-to-kick-off-the-school-year-with-a-healthy-start/
We can create so many variations of wraps that it’s limitless. In fact, in many schools they are slowly replacing white enriched bread with whole grain breads and wraps.
veggie-wrap-single
http://www.bodyenlightenment.me/blog/2013/08/how-to-put-healthy-back-into-school-lunches/
Wraps are an easy way to include vegetables in your child’s lunch in a way that they will eat them. If you can make the time to engage your child in the preparation of these beauties they are more likely not to trade them away for a snickers bar. My favorite wrap to teach children to make in my Cool Kids Cooking Class is the California wrap which includes avacado, sprouts, cucumber, carrots and cheese (if your child can tolerate dairy). It always makes me smile to see how quickly kids take to eating healthy when they are part of the preparation.
cali vege wrap
I also suggest getting to know the lunch ladies (and gents) who are preparing school breakfast and lunch. Be kind to these hard working people and let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Congratulate them when they have made something healthy and kid friendly. Offer your ideas about improving school meals in a way they can hear you. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that people respond better when you are willing to walk with them on their journey than when we give the impression we know what’s best. lunch ladies
If you are involved in your child’s school you may want to get involved in changing school food programs so that all children enjoy a healthier meal. For some children these are the only meals they eat each day so keeping it nutritious means they can attend to learning and the other challenges school brings. One of the many challenges educators face is holding all children to a standard. When a child experiences food insecurity it can be nearly impossible for them to focus on English or math. Educators are all too aware of these challenges.
An example of what a couple moms did in Berkeley California to change the school lunch program in their children’s school is the movie “Two Angry Moms.” It outlines what isn’t working with school meal programs and shows how they went about dramatically creating the change in their school. It is one example of how to start thinking about the food we eat and provide to school children.
lunch-wars-cover

“You must be the change you want to see in the world”
Mahatma Ghandi

Be Well
Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Stay Vacation in Paradise…HOME

My stay vacation in Berkshire County is nearing at an end. I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished many of the house projects I set out to do this week and I had a ton of fun on the cheap. One the favorite things this week was taking a walk with my daughter Kristen and my two dogs on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/ashuwillticook-rail-trail.html where we found a momma duck and her ducklings. She was right out of the children’s story book Make Way for Ducklings. She seemed unfazed by my dogs who by all rights are bird dogs though they have been humanized by me and would rather swim than retrieve birds. Kristen is as much of a birder as I am so we were pretty happy to get photos.ImageImage

After a day of heavy rain I took a walk at Wahconah Falls State Park http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/wahconah-falls-state-park-generic.html. The falls were high which I expected, as was the mosquito population but it was completely worth the trip. I took many photos and a 1 minute video of the falls to play when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. I also got my first 100 mosquito bites for the season.Image

I feel a sense of accomplishment in having my vegetable garden planted and the perennial garden beds somewhat less weedy though that project never ends.The exterior trim around my new kitchen patio door and window are painted a lovely brick red making them stand out. It’s amazing how a little paint can completely brighten things up. I am blessed to have had a kitchen remodel (nearly completed) by a very talented contractor/carpenter. This remodel allows me to offer individual and small group cooking classes in my home kitchen which I truly love. And I get to chat with people like my lovely daughters while cooking too! Image

Today I’ll be on the lake in a canoe with a dear friend. There are many other projects to be done but they will have to wait. In my health coaching practice I encourage others to make room for play in their lives. I’m a work horse so taking time to play and live the balanced life I teach others about can be a challenge for me. Here’s what I do  to remind myself the importance of balance and play: enjoy every moment, seek happiness without any reason to be happy, be yourself and truly love that self, share, know you can cope with difficulties, find time to play and experience the joy in this life. We are here to love and be loved, to experience joy and to share ourselves with others. 

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Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us…in the world and in nature…and within us…in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Blessed Be

 

 

From Farmer’s Market to Cancer Crusaders

I had a wonderfully busy day yesterday, starting with the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market Health Fair. This is the second year for the market. It has become such a cool Saturday morning destination and yesterday was no exception. It is incredible to watch the parking lot transform from asphalt to a bustling open air market in a matter of minutes…it’s kind of magical.

ImageEarly morning at the market.

At one point while setting up my booth I had this realization that there are literally thousands of these farmers markets in towns and cities across the US springing up and truly taking hold…it was a very good thought to have! I was there to offer information about my health coaching programs @ Kira’s Kitchen, http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/ and offer some tasty sweets that are actually healthy.

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I was so pleased to see that the wonderful organizers of the market are connecting health care and good food by joining farmers and growers with various adjunctive health and main stream health care organizations including Berkshire Medical Center’s mobile PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner. I was between Berkshire Nautilus Health Club, http://www.berkshirenautilus.com/ and New Life Chiropractic, http://www.dr-schagen.com/ which made perfect sense to me. After all, people need good quality nutrition to partake in what Berkshire Nautilus offers and they can certainly benefit from someone guiding them through an anti inflammation diet when faced with pain that a chiropractor is helping them manage.

I left the Farmer’s market at 1pm and drove north to Bennington Vermont to join friends at the Southwestern Vermont Cancer Center Community Crusaders event to raise money for the cancer center in Bennington. 

Imagehttp://www.benningtonbanner.com/localnews/ci_25861487/saturday-cancer-event-dedicated-gail-harwood

I was struck by the celebratory feel of this event as I wandered around looking for my friends booth. There were people dancing and music playing. Children were running around having a great time. I have lost several people I love dearly to cancer so my mindset driving to Bennington was not that I was going to a party. By the time I found my friends booth my mindset had shifted to a more relaxed state and the sun had broke through the clouds as if to say “it’s all good.” We set out the healthy sweets I’d brought next to the beautiful cupcakes that were part of the fund raising for the event.

The conversations that took place surrounding both the cupcakes and the treats I brought were very enlightening for me. I met a mom whose child has a brain tumor. She was seeking healthier snack options for him so he doesn’t feel left out of the fun. He sampled each of the treats I brought and we talked about how hard it is for parents to find the time to make healthy snacks. I offered her some recipes and made a mental note about reaching out to parents of children who have cancer.

At the end of the event there was a lovely candle light vigil and honoring of the survivors and those lost to cancer. I took a moment to remember the people I love who are living with cancer, and to honor those who were not able to survive it. I found myself feeling a bit indignant as I got in my car to drive home. How is it that the rates of cancer continue to rise even with the amazing health care system available to us in the United States.

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I think this topic will be continued next blog as it requires additional research and the sun is out today calling me to mow my lawn. Remember to eat healthy, take time to relax and let go of stress and spend time with the people you love. It truly matters in your overall good health!

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First you need only look:

Notice and honor the radiance of everything about you…

Play in this universe.

Tend all these shinning things around you:

The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care.

Be gentle and nurture. Listen…

As we experience and accept all that we really are…

We grow in care.                      Anne Hillman

Blessed Be

 

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.

Board Certified Holistic Health Coach

413-464-1462

Kiraskitchen5@gmail.com

Website: http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Blog:      www.kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

 

Now you can follow me on Twitter: kiraskitchen5 or Facebook as well.

 

 

 

Time to Garden

I am inspired with the warming weather and the Flower Moon we had this week. Driving home on Wednesday night that beautiful moon was just beginning to peak over the Green Mountains in Bennington Vermont and it was breathtaking. This is a borrowed photo as my iphone couldn’t do the moon justice. It now truly feels like spring is here and so we can begin to plant our vegetable and flower gardens.

flower moon

http://shewhodreams.weebly.com/uploads/6/8/3/0/6830014/5473872.jpg?419

To inspire me even more this week I found this beauty growing in the window at the Vermont Arts Exchange http://www.vtartxchange.org/. Being a native Californian, I am accustomed to seeing fresh produce year round in some form. But to find a fully ripe tomato in Vermont in mid May is such a gift. After all we had snow on the ground less than a month ago!

tomatoes

I’m telling you the truth, right in Vermont, right now mid May there are these lovely tomatoes ready to eat! Planted in large buckets along the back wall of the multiuse art room at the Arts Exchange are growing 10 foot high tomato plants like these. I have had the pleasure of watching them grow since February.

tomato plants

So now I have to find my organic seeds and plants at various farmer’s markets and gardening shops. I like High Mowing Seeds http://www.highmowingseeds.com/ they have come through for me in past years and are fairly local in Wolcott, Vermont. So far I’ve planted my first round of snow peas which is my favorite to grow (and eat). I also plan to grow green beans, kale, summer and zucchini squash, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. My garden is small but it manages to produce a good amount of produce each year. This is an example of one of my recent harvests.

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So with all the fresh produce to look forward to I am searching for new recipes to add to my website. I made this one last night and it was delightful.

6 cups baby spring greens

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup toasted walnuts

1 shallot minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ olive oil

Salt/pepper to taste

Well I’m heading outside to see what kind of gardening I can get done before the three days of rain arrive.

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the Earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” Kate Morton author of The Forgotten Garden.

Blessed Be