White Bean Kale Salad With Sweet Tahini Dressing

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Once and awhile I like to post a healthy recipe…I like to do this because eating a healthy diet is a HUGE help to me in my fight against living with sarcoidosis. Here’s a wonderful kale salad recipe that I made the other night for the first time. It’s a keeper.

What You Need:

BEANS
  • 1 15-ounce can white or butter beans, rinsed and drained – I like cannellini beans
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (1 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for topping
SALAD
  • 10 ounces kale, chopped, large stems removed – the smaller you chop it the easier it is to chew
  • 1 lemon, juiced (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
  • Pinch each sea salt + black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup or so of walnuts
  • 1/2 or so of golden raisins (regular are fine too)
  • 5 oz of grape tomatoes halved – optional
DRESSING
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lemons, juiced (3-4 Tbsp)
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Pinch each sea salt + black pepper
  • Hot water to thin – amt depends on how thick you want the dressing to be

How To Prepare: 

  1. Add drained beans to a small mixing bowl and add lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and fresh parsley. Toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Add kale to a large mixing bowl with lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Use your hands to massage the kale and break down its texture a bit, and to season the salad.
  3. To prepare dressing, add tahini, garlic, lemon juice, maple syrup, sea salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine, then add hot water to thin until pourable. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
  4. Lastly, add beans, walnuts, raisin and tomato and 3/4 of the dressing to the kale and toss to combine.

NOTE: Adding a diced red onion to this recipe would probably also be quite tasty!

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Choices and Excuses

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“I don’t have time.” This was one of my all time favorite excuses for not making exercise a priority in my life. I think the real reason I stopped exercising was that I had no energy. If I had exercised even half the time I spent in bed, then maybe I wouldn’t have gotten into such trouble with my sarcoidosis in the first place but I had forgotten what normal was and didn’t even know I was sick for quite some time.

I was stuck in a very difficult rut. I worked long hard stressful hours and I ate the wrong foods…high sugar and high carb foods to keep me semi alert. It was like being on drugs. I’d get my quick fix of energy, it would wane and I’d need more. I drank more soda products at that time than I care to admit! It was a vicious cycle and I had no idea how to change it. For awhile, I had no idea that it was even a problem. The levels of fatigue I began to feel, crept up on me over time and eventually it became normal for me to crawl back into bed on a beautiful Saturday morning and sleep the day away rather than go out for a bike ride or a walk with my dogs.

This was certainly not normal behavior and not normal behavior for me but it became normal and I got to the point where I forgot what it felt like to be active. All of this was happening well before my sarcoidosis diagnosis and all of it was a symptom that something was seriously wrong but it was all very subtle and to me, easily explained by my crazy job and its insane demands and my desire for perfection. Looking back, it was the beginning of my disease. This was actually the time when sarcoidosis was winning the war but I was yet to be diagnosed with having any kind of medical illness so I was at a huge disadvantage.

When it finally came, my sarcoidosis diagnosis was a wake up call though. It answered a lot of questions that I never even knew I had. Being that fatigued was not actually normal. Wanting to lay down all the time was not what regular people do. I was not managing my stress well at all and now I was sick too. Something had to change. So, I gathered up all my excuses: too tired, too busy, no time, etc…and put them in the garbage, slamming down the lid forever. I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling anymore. I came to accept that the sluggish cement like feeling in my bones was partly my disease and partly my excuses. I couldn’t do anything about my disease but I did have a choice about the excuses I was making for not to take better care of myself.

It was a slow process to get back into a regular exercise routine. I was having trouble breathing which didn’t help, thank you sarcoidosis. My doctor prescribed inhalers and now I use them 30 minutes before exercising. I didn’t start by running any marathons, I tell you! Getting moving again in the beginning was a simple act. I started gradually by setting aside some dedicated time every morning to walk the dog. Over the course of just the first week, I remember noticing a difference. I had a little more energy during the day and was able to back off the soda and high carb foods. As I gained more strength, I added in more time for movement. I started riding my bike and doing the elliptical machine and as I did this, I continued to remove all those nasty refined carbs from my life too.

The simple act of exercise was starting to give me the boost of energy that soda never could because the energy I got from exercise was lasting. I felt good all day or at least better any way. Exercise also reduced my stress and my breathing slightly improved as my lung capacity got a little stronger. So, I learned over time that the excuses or the choices I make have a powerful impact on my disease.

I Am What I Eat…

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Living with a disease like sarcoidosis creates certain challenges. Much is out of my control. Yet what I choose to put in my body isn’t and what I choose to put in my body makes a difference in my health, chronic condition or not. Ever since my sarcoidosis diagnosis, I have become passionate about improving my health any way I can and one way is through the food that I eat. This is why I have a dedicated a page at the top of my blog to healthy recipes.

I happen to be a vegan. I was a already a vegetarian when I got sick so becoming a vegan was not a huge leap for me. It’s not a diet everyone can handle and I don’t necessarily advocate it for everyone. What I do advocate, is that folks explore better health through what they do eat. After all, can’t we all do a better job making healthier choices?

Cutting out all dairy for me, has helped ease my breathing and lessen my chest tightness. It has also had a positive effect on my skin and it has lessened my fatigue and reduced my body aches and pains. Diet is not a cure for sarcoidosis, it is simply one tool in my control to help me manage the symptoms of my disease and I am so glad that I’ve taken charge of it because I have learned that I truly am what I eat!

Here’s a healthy yam and kale salad recipe that also happens to be quite delicious!

Ingredients:

  1. 2 small/medium size yams – skinned and cut into pieces
  2. 1 medium sweet yellow onion – diced
  3. 2 bunches of kale – stemmed and torn into bit size pieces
  4. 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1/2 (or more) walnuts
  6. 1/2 (or more) raisins (dried cranberries are a nice substitute)
  7. 2 Tablespoons red vinegar
  8. 3 (at least) cloves of minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and while the oven heats, skin and cut up the potatoes. Put them in a bowl and cover them with olive oil. Once the oven is heated, bake them for about 20 to 25 minutes – take them out and let them cool when done.
  2. Put the diced onions in a large skillet with olive oil and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes – until onions begin to caramelize, adding the garlic about half way through.
  3. Stir in kale and continue cooking until kale wilts but is still a nice bright green – add a touch more olive oil if the pan gets too dry.
  4. Remove the skillet from the stove top and let cool.
  5. Once the potatoes and the onion and kale mixtures have cooled – mix them together in a large bowl, add in the raisins and walnuts and then toss with the red vinegar.

Fairly Healthy Vegan Chocolate Frosted Donuts

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I know, it sounds crazy to ever call a donut healthy but there aren’t too terrible for you…if eat them in moderation! They have no dairy in them and they are baked. Chickpeas are used so that less flour can be used as well. I was a skeptic but I made them the other day and they were really tasty.

INGREDIENTS

Donuts:

1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk – although I used unsweetened vanilla and it perfectly okay.
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips – whatever brand you like
1 cup white whole-wheat flour

Frosting:
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips – or more if you like…I think I used a whole cup
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk – although I used unsweetened vanilla and it was just fine
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar – organic if you prefer

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place the garbanzo beans, almond milk, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, salt, and sugar in a blender (I used my NutriBullet). Blend until smooth.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a large glass mixing bowl. Pour in the pureed mixture and flour, and stir until a thick batter forms.
  4. Spray two doughnut pans with cooking spray.
  5. Using a small spoon, carefully fill each doughnut well, smoothing out the batter with the back of the spoon.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  8. While they’re cooling, make the frosting. Melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Stir in the almond milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.
  9. Spread onto each doughnut, decorate as you like, and enjoy immediately!
  10. Store uneaten doughnuts in an airtight container and enjoy within a day or two.

Chickpea Cabbage Tomato Soup

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I like this soup. It’s easy to make and because it has cabbage, it’s filling. I usually make it with a green side salad and call it dinner. Quick and easy w/ minimal clean up!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup vegetable broth for sautéing plus 2-4 cups for soup
  • 1 small head of cabbage or ½ head large cabbage, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 2 15 ounce cartons of cooked chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3 cups of diced tomatoes, fresh or canned – I used canned…it’s easier when you’re in a hurry!
  • Fresh chopped basil for garnish (optional) – although I highly recommend it!

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Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot, heat the ½ cup of vegetable broth. Add the dried basil, salt and pepper. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft and translucent about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, cabbage and cooked chickpeas. Cover with vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked. Add more vegetable broth if needed. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or dried basil if needed.
  2. Serve hot garnished with fresh basil or parsley.

 

Vegan Banana Bread

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Ingredients:

  • 4 over ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour – I used whole wheat flour – it was all I had handy…still worked just made the bread a little denser
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – I use a little more…I love this spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla – optional
  • a pinch of nutmeg – or maybe a little more
  • a pinch of salt – really just a pinch of this stuff…no more is needed
  • 1/4 cut coconut oil – melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar – packed – I used dark brown – I like it better
  • 2 tablespoons crushed walnuts – optional  – I didn’t have any handy the first time I made this so I used chocolate chips…dark chocolate vegan chips…YUMMY!

How To Prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon (if using), nutmeg and salt then it set aside
  • In another bowl, mash up peeled and over ripe bananas until they are completely smashed and goopy…don’t leave any large lumps
  • Then add in sugar, melted coconut oil and vanilla (if using) until well blended
  • Next fold in the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until well blended
  • Add in walnuts or chocolate chips  – if using either
  • Put mixture in a greased bread pan and bake for 25-30 minutes – until a toothpick or fork comes out of the bread cleanly – don’t over bake (don’t you love it when people tell you this…duh!)

ENJOY with a nice glass of dark chocolate almond milk!

Chickpea Spinach Curry

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I love this recipe. I like to use more spice than it calls for…but that’s just me. It makes the kitchen smell sooooooooo good! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 knob ginger, grated – or ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes – or chili powder
  • 4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 10 oz chopped baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cups water
  • 1 can organic chickpeas
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Salt and pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Add the chopped onions to the frying pan with the oil and cook for approximately four minutes until starting to soften. Add in the garlic, ginger and spices. Cook for a further minute until the spices are fragrant.
  2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and mushrooms and cook for a minute, then add the water.
  3. Add the chickpeas and simmer for eight minutes, adding the spinach, salt, and pepper at the last minute to wilt down.