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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Chef and The Dietitian - Episode 15

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Tis the season for eating sugary, fatty, processed treats. In this episode, Chef AJ shows us how to make a whole food, plant-based egg nog that tastes better than the real thing...and comes sans harmful ingredients!

For more information on why you should ditch dairy, click here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Chef and The Dietitian - Episode 14 - Chocolate Chip Mint Smoothie

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This is my all-time favorite green smoothie...chocolatey and minty, creamy and crunchy, this smoothie is a must-try! To learn how to make the pistachio milk base, click here to see The Chef and the Dietitian - Episode 14. Or...just use unsweetened almond, soy, oat, or hemp milk instead. Click here to see how to make your own almond milk in a pinch.  Read the 10 Reasons to Ditch Dairy to know why you should always opt for a plant-based milk.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian- Episode 13

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Learn how to make pistachio milk and all about why we need to eliminate diary from our diets. To read 10 Reasons to Ditch Dairy, click here. And for more information on Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his work presented in The China Study, visit The T. Colin Campbell Foundation.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Chef and The Dietitian - Episode 12

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See how simple it is to make homemade almond milk as Chef AJ and I are joined with one of the leading experts in the world of nutritional medicine, Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Reasons to Ditch Dairy

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1. Dairy destroys your bones.  Countries around the world that drink the most dairy have the MOST osteoporosis and hip fractures. As dairy and calcium consumption increases, so do your risk factors for osteoporosis and bone fractures. The high levels of sodium and animal protein places your body in metabolic acidosis (when your blood becomes acidic). To compensate for that, your body pulls minerals out of the bone-thanks to their great alkalizing effects-and they are excreted in your urine. To recap: the more dairy you eat or drink, the more bone you lose.

2. There are excellent plant-sources of calcium that do not cause metabolic acidosis; rather, they are alkalizing and support bone health. Broccoli, kale, other leafy green veggies, sesame seeds, tahini, calcium-set tofu, and fortified plant milks/juices all have adequate amounts of calcium to meet daily requirements.

3. The number one most important factor in bone health is exercise. To increase and maintain bone density, stress needs to be applied to your bones regularly. Add resistance training, and exercises such as walking, jogging in order to increase mass, and prevent osteoporosis. This factor far outweighs any nutritional component.

4. Casein-the primary protein in milk-causes physiological addiction. Have you ever noticed that the more cheese you eat, the more of it you crave? Casomorphines are formed in your brain when you eat or drink dairy. These are opiate-like substances that produce euphoria, making you physically need more dairy. The only way to break this addictive cycle, is to cut it out entirely. 

5. Casein is a potent carcinogen. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author or The China Study,  found casein to be a powerful cancer promoter after decades of laboratory research. He was able to turn cancer on and off simply by increasing the amount of raw casein fed.

6. Dairy provides high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are known to cause atherosclerosis. This leads to heart disease.

7. Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health too. No matter how much calcium you are consuming, you need vitamin D to help absorb it. Plus. 70-97% of the population is insufficient or deficient in their vitamin D levels. Ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test and if your level is below 35-50 ng/mL, add a daily dose of sunlight (a few minutes at peak hours with no sunscreen). If this doesn't improve your D levels, you need to supplement.

8. We are the only species that drinks the lactation excretions of another species AND the only species who continues to drink milk after being weaned.



9.  Besides being inherently unhealthy and disease-promoting, dairy comes packed with pesticides, antibiotics, hormones (even organic), steroids, heavy metals, and other toxins fed to the cows to improve milk production.

10. Seventy percent of the world's population is lactose-intolerant. The fact that more people than not react with painful gastrointestinal symptoms upon consumption of dairy demonstrates the fact that the human body is not intended to consume it. Doctors and dietitians are now pushing the use of lactase enzymes and other symptom-relieving medications in order to ensure "adequate" intake of dairy products. Yet, if we have to force our bodies to accept something it doesn't want, shouldn't that be a sign that something is wrong?





Friday, October 29, 2010

The Chef and The Dietitian - Episode 10

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Can you guess our Celebrity Special Guest on this fun episode? Watch Chef AJ, our special Guest Star, and me make a Fuhrman-friendly cranberry relish. It bursts with nutrient density, colors, and flavors but without sugars or artificial anything! Enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is it a Coincidence?

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Is it a coincidence???
That the human body suffers when the animals’ do?

Is it coincidence???
That our body responds to the torture and slaughter of innocent lives in kind by offering little more than torture and an untimely death to those who accept it?

There are two components to achieving sustenance and optimal health:

First…there is what we must avoid…
From animals, we obtain cholesterol, animal protein, saturated fat, steroids, hormones, biochemicals produced from utter fear and pain…

Secondly…there is what we choose to absorb…
Plants contain fiber, water, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants…oh, and, none of the above which we need to avoid…

Is it a coincidence?
We are, above all, Earthlings…living amongst one another…striving to thrive…or else to survive…

Where we choose to sustain ourselves sends messages inwardly and, also, to those around us.
When we eat for health AND out of compassion, we flourish…
When we eat for carelessness or chosen blindfullness, our bodies and the people witnessing it, demise…

There’s nothing we can obtain better from animals than we can from plants. The single nutrient we need to concern ourselves with as strict herbivores is vitamin B12. It is a bacteria-built nutrient and if we chose to not wash our plants, we could derive from the dirt our plants lived with. Or…we can simply consume a supplement of B12 or fortified plant milks or nutritional yeast to prevent any deficiency.

Beyond that, a whole food, plant-based diet is the ultimate key to achieving health. To prevent and reverse disease. To live compassionately amongst our fellow Earthlings. The science is as clear as our morality when we choose to feed ourselves with our body, mind, heart, and soul. Eat plants for your health and for the mercy of the animals. There is no such thing as coincidence.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian - Episode 9 - Caramel Apple

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween doesn't have to be scary with treats like these. Join Chef AJ and me as we talk about ways to minimize the potential sugar comas lurking at every corner this Halloween...Be safe, healthy, and enjoy the natural sweetness of date-paste sweetened caramel apples!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian - Episode 8 - Dream of Tomato Soup

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A creamy, spicy, and pungent soup you can throw together in your blender in less than 5 minutes. Great way to warm up on a cold day while boosting your antioxidant levels to help enhance your immune system. Heated tomatoes are filled with lycopene and lutein, two carotenoids that are known to prevent prostate cancer and macular degeneration, among other things. So blend away and enjoy while doing your body good!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Chef and The Dietitian - Episode 7 - Cherry Smoothie

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Due to requests for a non-green smoothie, Chef AJ shows you how to whip up her chocolate chip cherry smoothie. Get your antioxidants in this heavenly and unique concoction.

But remember: if you omit the greens in your smoothie, make sure to get them in other ways throughout the day! Learn why they are so important here.

Cheers!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian Episode 6-Almond Milk

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Forgive Me, Chef (and viewers), for I have sinned!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian- Episode 5: Part 2 of The Battle of the Green Smoothies

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And now for Chef AJ's green smoothie...Try both of ours and let us know which you prefer...Most likely you will love them both and end up with two new recipes to add to your magic green smoothie collection! If you missed the first part, you can click here to watch.

To learn more about why greens are so healthy, click here for The Greatness of Greens and here for click here to see why recipes like these green smoothies should be the foundation of your diet if you want to achieve optimum health!

Remember let thy greens be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy greens!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian-Episode 4

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Let the battle of the green smoothies begin!!! Chef AJ and I kick off our 2-part battle series where we each make our favorite smoothie using our favorite blender and see which one wins! (Please excuse the bad sound in the second half...our fabulous FilmMaker just bought a brand new camera so this won't happen in the future!)

Try both of these smoothies and see which one you like best! We want to hear your votes...and promise not to be offended if you choose the other one (well, at least we will get over it eventually)!

For more information on why green smoothies are medicinal and magical, please read my blogpost called The Greatness of Greens.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian- Raw Brownies

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Not only will you learn Chef AJ's raw brownie recipe in this video, but we also clarify some questions about gluten- and wheat-intolerances. Grab your food processor and get ready for a real treat!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plant-Based Kicked Meat-and-Potatoes Ass on National TV!

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I am not one to brag...but I think that Chef AJ and I might have made plant-based history today....

As far as we know (and please correct me if I am wrong), there has never been a plant-based team competing in a reality TV cooking show. Chef AJ and I auditioned and were accepted to compete against two other meat-and-potatoes teams on the new TLC show called Kick-Off Cook-Off. We spent a day baking ourselves in the sun (we both look like lobsters) on a football field with a famous football star, a famous Chef judge, and AJ's famous recipes competing for the title.

There was so much resistance to what we stand for by the other teams, the hostess, and the judge. Nobody hesitated to make commentary about their preferences for fast food, junk food, and their beloved meat and potatoes. Heaven forbid we should mention the ease and health benefits of cooking without oil. It was a huge controversy that it is possible to use only whole food ingredients when preparing full meals. In fact, the judge and competing team members kept coming over to see what we were doing and check our ingredients!

Now, of course, I cannot reveal the results (that would be too easy...and, anyway, it is much more fun to actually watch the show)...BUT, the judge, who had never had a plant-based team before on this show and had never heard of the majority of our ingredients (apparently, miso, cacao, and date syrup are not yet popularized in the world of traditional chefery), LOVED our food! His eyes lit up and he had nothing but wonderful comments to make...surprised as he was!

Regardless of what the ultimate results were, AJ and I are thrilled that- even though we were laughed at, heckled, and not taken seriously- the food walked the walk and we were able to show the world that plant-based whole foods can not only compete with the Standard American Diet...but can exceed the expectations of all those closed-minded folk. We make "healthy taste delicious" so watch out world, here we come!

The Chef and the Dietitian Episode 2

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Back by popular demand...Chef AJ and I decided to turn our experimental initial episode into a series! This second show documents us making Chef AJ's famous Caramel Fakkiato...it is a delicious and refreshing smoothie to enjoy anytime. It particularly makes a decadent dessert or snack on a hot day! Cheers!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Chef and the Dietitian

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Watch Chef AJ and myself show you how to make two healthy and easy recipes, where we make healthy taste delicious!

Since Chef AJ thinks she is a dietitian and I think I am a chef, we pair up for a great team! In this preview, we make an incredibly sumptuous chocolate smoothie that is chock-full of health-promoting deliciousness! Also, Chef AJ demonstrates how to make her brilliant brownies that magically hide a bunch of fiber and B-vitamin-rich black beans!!!

Try them...you won't be disappointed! And surprise your friends and relatives by not telling them the secret ingredients...they will never notice!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Plant-Based Food Guide Pyramid

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There are almost as many food guide pyramids out there as there are diet books. I have yet to find one that meets my standards for an optimal plan. Thus, I decided to work with my graphic designer, Sherri Nestorowich, to create a visual guide for the whole food, plant-based diet I recommend to my clients and students.

What makes mine unique is the fact that I have fruit and vegetables at the bottom (right above the need for daily exercise and fluid consumption). Although people may disagree with this decision, I made it based on evidence showing a strong association between higher intake of fruit and vegetables and decreased incidence of chronic disease:
In the vegetable category, it includes carotenoid-rich and starchy vegetables. Carotenoids are high in antioxidants (protect cells from damaging effects of free radicals); provide a source of vitamin A; enhance immune function; and help reproductive system function. Specifically, it includes: carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers. The starches are rich sources of complex carbs, fiber and include potatoes, squash, and corn.

Fruit contributes vitamins A, C, some B vitamins as well as some minerals. Dried fruit may contain iron. This section contains all whole fresh fruit and frozen fruit (which should be the priority and majority of fruit consumption) even though it can also include dried fruit, whole fruit juices, canned fruit (in order of health-promoting capacity).


Further, I have a separate category for leafy green vegetables additional to the foundational vegetable recommendations. My new quote that I tell my clients and students is "Let thy greens be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy greens". Leafy greens are chock-full of macro- and micronutrients, including calcium, fiber, folate, vitamins C, B6, B2, E, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phytochemicals (such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene). This category of vegetables include kale, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, bok choy, Swiss chard, rainbow chard, Brussels sprouts, sea vegetables, broccoli, Napa cabbage. See my previous blog, The Greatness of Greens, for more about the undeniable superhero-esque power!
I can go on and on about the beauty of greens...but there are so many other topics to delineate with respect to why I chose the food groups I did.

Moving on up the pyramid...

Whole grains are the backbone of the plant-based diet as they contribute calories, fiber, protein, iron, B vitamins, trace nutrients in whole grains. This category includes: corn, brown rice and sprouted tortillas; whole grain breads; cereals (i.e. oats); bulgur; brown rice; couscous; millet; quinoa; whole grain pasta; polenta; wheat berries; popcorn; wheat germ and bran.
Legumes provide a supporting role in the diet. They are used extensively in international cuisines and provide protein, fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium. Legumes include cooked & dried beans (adzuki, anasazi, black, black-eyed peas, cannellini, chickpeas, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, soybeans), lentils, peas, split peas, and soy products (tempeh, tofu).

At the top of my pyramid, I have listed high fat whole foods, dairy substitutes (which are great sources of fortified vitamins B12, D, and sometimes calcium), and whole food sweetened treats (which can be done by using dates, date syrup, pure maple syrup and other fruits). High fat whole foods refer to olives, avocado, nuts and seeds, which are important in order to consume adequate omega 3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, protein, fat, iron, calcium, and trace minerals. All of these items should be used sparingly and less in situations where weight loss is a goal or when there has been a diagnosis of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol or other metabolic conditions.

Overall, I hope that this pyramid is used as a guideline. The serving sizes are not necessary to perfect...it is more important to look at it as a way of proportioning out what a day's worth of food should look like. The foods closer to the bottom should be a mainstay or foundation of intake and those near the top are to be used as support.

I also highly recommend everyone consume a vitamin B12 supplement of either 10μg daily OR 2,000μg weekly and have their serum vitamin D levels checked. If your serum 25 hydroxy D levels are less than 35 ng/mL, it is necessary to increase sun exposure (during peak hours and with no sunscreen for a few minutes a day...without allowing any reddening of the skin to occur) and possibly add supplemental D2. Please speak with your physician to address this issue.






Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Raising Consciousness

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We are here in this lifetime for one purpose…to raise consciousness. What else is there?

After five days at NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest, submerged in the waters with some of the most inspiring people of our generation, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion. I met with people I have followed for years and that have been incidentally raised onto pedestals based on the daily miracles they perform; raising consciousness to any and every person they come into contact with. It occurred to me that deep inside each of us, there is proactive, compassionate potential that on its own could light the world…and the people I spent my week with were instrumental in the sparks lit in our community. One of the deepest beauties is the fact that we all have come there with different perspectives, talents, expertise, angles…but all with a single unified intention…to raise consciousness and awareness into the lives of as many people as possible.


Shaun Monson had a huge impact on my life. He is the creator/writer/producer of the brilliant documentary, Earthlings. When I met him, I was in awe…he had mastered the concept of taking images of reality (current and historical) and creating a monologue of truth that is so painful-and yet, so critical…in a manner so compelling and provocative that you cannot turn your mind or eyes off of the images or the language. A poet, historian, theologist, philosopher and filmmaker all built into one man who can raise awareness to a point in which you never wanted to go…yet realize the imminence and necessity of doing so once there. Meeting him was transformative in my life…he is in the end-stages of his newest film, the second part of his trilogy beginning with Earthlings, called Unity. The scenes from this second part are exquisitely and brilliantly painful as it forces the viewer to face-up to the bold duality we each experience on a daily basis in minor doses…all the way to the other extreme of this component of life…the realities of war, animal torture/mutilation/consumption, human distrust, and the search for understanding…as discomforting as it is to face this threshold, it may just prove to be the most important moment of epiphany necessary to make global change a possibility.

Gene Baur is a man that I have followed and admired for years. He is the man that discovered the first sheep, lying in a pile of disposed-animals, near death and fighting for her life, inspiring this initial rescue which blossomed into the miraculous creation and existence of the dual bi coastal Farm Sanctuaries that are responsible for the rescue of hundreds (if not thousands) of animals. I visited the Northern California location (in Orland) last winter in order to document its beauty for my program, Going Veg with the Plant-Based Dietitian and had fallen madly in love with the concept, desperately searching for a way to stop everything in my world in order to open a farm rescue of my own…In the magic essence of Summerfest, I was able to finally meet Gene…and pick his brain. He filled my energy vessel with a focus for my limitless inspiration and optimism, which was already overfloweth.


My favorite cookbook is The Vegan Table, a recipe collection that all of my omnivore relatives and friends appreciate anytime I attempt new samples and experiments when entertaining (which is rather often these days). So, needless to say, when I discovered how fabulous its author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is, I went starstruck! In fact, she is the beautiful and generous being that drove me a couple hours to the airport for my treacherous journey home. How surreal to spend a couple hours in the car with a person who has inspired myself and many others to produce and impress others (particularly non-vegans) with tempting tummy-pleasers? What an exciting opportunity to get to know this genius recipe-developer who is a woman filled with so many other talents I am just learning about…podcasting, writing about compassion, etc. She has three new books coming out in the next few months…THREE!!! And they will all be fabulous! What an amazing chance to learn about this beautiful light in the plant-based world.


Dr. Hans Diehl is a man I consider one of my mentors. He began his career with Nathan Pritikin-a legend in his own category. Currently, Dr. Diehl is the celebrity genius responsible for CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project) in Loma Linda California at the renowned Loma Linda University and who is instrumental in improving the health of thousands of people across the world. So, imagine the magnificence of having this mentor of mine attend one of my lectures I gave at Summerfest??? That is one of the highlights of this trip and conference. Not only that, but we were able to spend some time together where he generously provided me with some ingenious wisdom of his years in the healing business, guiding me towards an ameliorated sense of responsibility towards helping others and in handling this new blossoming career of mine in proper order. I will be forever appreciative and indebted to Dr. Diehl for the time I spent with him in Pennsylvania.

Carol J. Adams is a legend in the veg/feminist/animal rights activist world. Amongst her ground-breaking and provocative work is the 20 year-old book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, which took the veg movement to a whole new level! Also written by this pioneer is the book called The Pornography of Meat and Living Among Meat Eaters. I was able to hear a couple of her phenomenal lectures and have her sign all three of the aforementioned books. She is wise and forward-thinking and I am grateful to have the opportunity to have my mind directed in a place it had never visited before...and has spiraled upward ever since.


On the last night of Summerfest, magic occurred…without that intention…there was a showing of a new-ish documentary entitled Peaceable Kingdom. This is a film describing the experiences of several animal farmers transitioning from enacting brutal torture, maiming and murder of animals secondary to the requirement of their ability to financially survive into the realization of the paradox of having to give their loving, trusting and sentient “pets” into the horrific agribusiness second step…leading to the demise and cruel situations these gorgeous animals unfortunately suffer. It documented the duality of believing their survivability depended upon raising and selling their beautiful animals and their deep understanding of the unrighteousness of bonding and raising them and selling them off after the trust developed. What was special about this film is the documentation of these phenomenal animals in their natural setting, relating to one another and to the humans that were lovingly taking care of them. I had never witnessed animals in these situations…the Mama chick feeding its baby and the baby curling up inside its mothers’ wing; the Mama sheep desperately searching for her baby as truckloads of lambs were being delivered to the farm after being separated; and the domesticated reaction of the goats and cows to its human owners as they pet and loved them. These are images that make me dream that I can one day acquire a farm sanctuary of my own…

Yet, the most touching experience of the whole evening (and I mean after a dozen tissues destroyed by the tears that refused to stop flowing from my broken eyes) was the recognition of several children who had participated in the experience of witnessing this powerful and disturbing film. There were several children who were enabled by their hesitant parents to be present for this event. I have never been as uplifted as when Manni, a 10 year-old boy of my new friends, stood up to the microphone to ask the producers and stars of the film, “what can I do to help the animals?. This was followed by a young girl, who could hardly control her tears, begging to understand how this happens…how animals are treated like this. Watching children hold each other, come to the understanding of why the animal rights movement exists, and ask critical questions was the most extraordinary experience of my life. Perhaps it is because I am a Mother…and an animal activist…and someone who has focused her entire career on educating others of the importance of eating a plant-based, whole food diet…I have never been so inspired/moved/hopeful as when I watched these youngsters have their epiphany…right in front of this loving, supportive crowd. As much as I know this evening is one these children will never forget, I also understand that I will retain it as one of the most touching experiences I have had to date…

Besides all of these people and experiences, I could go on and on about meeting heroes of mine including bestselling authors Brenda Davis and Joanne Stepaniak, super-energetic physicians Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Neal Barnard, fellow nutrition experts John Pierre and Kerri Saunders.

What a concept to be surrounded by like minded people for five days! In all four of my lectures, I felt very much that I was “preaching to the choir”. Never in my lecturing career did I mention factoids such as “greens have twice as much protein then animal products” or “omnivores and vegans have identical risks for iron-deficiency anemia” and not have everyone in the audience have their jaws drop to the floor! I am empowered by the unification that occurred here and energized to continue spreading the message.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kids Cook Mondays

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Meatless Monday Campaigns is kicking off its new campaign called "Kids Cook Mondays". Here is an introduction video created by Jesse Pomeroy of Genre Pictures with myself and debuting my baby girl, Maya (ok...not a baby as she is almost 5 years old!!! and starting Kindergarten in the Fall)!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Oil-Free, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

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After much popular demand, I have decided to divulge my secret recipe for one of my favorite cookies. I make these anytime we have a party to go to or the kids (or husband...OK-or I) have a craving for something sweet, warm and chewy.

They are oil-free and quick to make...but, unfortunately, they are not perfect. They have sugar and chocolate chips...and I know I have a lot of peers that will not approve. But, as a Mom of little kidlets and as a chocolate chip cookie-lover, sometimes you just have to let your hair down and live life on the edge! So, enjoy them guilt-free!

Ingredients:

• 1 banana

• ½ cup pure maple syrup

• 1 tbsp vanilla extract

• ¾ cups oat flour

• ½ cup turbinado or raw sugar

• 2 cups rolled oats

• ½ tsp salt

• ½ tsp baking soda

• ½ tsp baking powder

• 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana with the back of a fork.

Add in maple syrup and vanilla and mix very well (using a hand blender or mixer helps).

Add oat flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Mix until well-combined.

Add in chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed throughout mixture.

Scoop small amounts onto an aluminum foil-covered baking sheet.

Bake 7-10 minutes, depending on size.

Allow to cool before peeling them off of foil.

Enjoy with a tall glass of oat, almond, hemp, rice or soy milk!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elevation

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There is inspiration and then there is elevation. I have been blessed (or cursed) with a mad passion for plant-based, whole food nutrition...a passion that wakes me up early in the morning and keeps me up late at night, constantly striving for ways in which to share my passion, educate others, motivate, contribute. This depth of inspiration grows from the hope that I might help as many people and animals as possible...and then multiply that exponentially.

Usually, my days are filled with answering questions, defending my choices, guiding others to proper resources, explaining, expressing, describing, enlightening...

Last night at the EarthSave event honoring John Robbins and fundraising for our new beautiful program, Meals for Health, the ambiance was radiating with this feeling of home, comfort, inspiration, compassion. I felt surrounded by like minded people, filled with the same drive, fortitude and focus. This is why it is elevating, a step beyond inspiring, when all of that energy comes together and fills the soul, empowering the mind, body and spirit to proceed, to endure, to connect.

As I listened to John Robbins, my hero, speak, I had the same reaction as when I heard for the first time last Fall and the first time I discovered him as a young girl reading Diet for a New America. Physically, I cried. Mentally, I ventured. Spiritually, I soared. As I had tears running down my cheeks, I asked John's wife Deo (who I sat on the floor in front of in order to sill myself with enough energy to fuel me until the next visit) if she cries everyday from the wisdom and inspiration that is *John*. She said she cries every time she hears him speak. I can only imagine. The profundity and sagacity that pours out of John's lips every time they move is impossible to express. Thus, I cannot recommend enough his books, his talks.

The whole evening was invigorating. As the new Executive Director of EarthSave, just starting out with this new program, I could not sleep last night...eager to get started. We have the potential and the amazing people behind us (Dr. John McDougall as Medical Director, Rip Esselstyn and Ambassador, Blake Young as our partner at the Sacramento Food Bank, to name a few) to make a significant impact...and we will. There is no limit to the prospects for which this project is intended...to make a difference in people's lives. People who have limited or no access to resources, who are sick with chronic disease. We will show the world that food is everything...and can make or break human health. It will underscore the relevance of how sick we have become as a nation via our misguided educators and strident misinformation coming from the food and pharmaceutical industries. We are going to establish a precedence like none previously recorded.

So stay tuned...

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Duck Family

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Meet the Duck Family. I just met them this afternoon. Yes, your eyes are seeing clearly...they are in a parking lot.

You see, while my kids were in school this morning, I went to the gym for some cardio and weights. Having been rather efficient with my workout, I was done early and was considering running to a coffee shop for a green tea soy latte as a treat before I had to pick up the kids. So, I walk to my car slowly (which is extremely rare for me as I am always in a mad dash to get everywhere). As I am pulling out of the parking structure, this is what I see:


Of course, I did a double take...and it took me a moment before I realized whether or not this was normal or whether this was an emergency...I knew I had to do something...so as I was in my car, I started following them to my side as slow as possible as they walked (or waddled) so I could warn other drivers. Then I realized that I had to get a picture of this because this would be an impossible moment to describe. Fortunately, I had my camera with me!

Then, as I was trying to herd them to safety with my new car, I noticed another man (who was soooo nice...like an Angel...I mean another animal rights activist was there at the right place at the right time???...really???...hmmm...) who was trying to do the same as me. Only he was talking to the Mama Duck: "Come on, Mama". Needless to say, I parked my car and was THRILLED to have a partner to try and save this painfully adorable little family.


We worked so hard to try and get the family to a safe place---away from the traffic! But Mama Duck was so scared. She was panicking even though we were trying to protect her and her babies. She was so nervous that she was losing touch with her communication skills. She would hop up on a curb and the ducklings were too little to follow her so they mini-quacked to get her attention. The nice gentleman figured out that we could just give the ducklings a boost with our hands....can I just interject here that I have never felt anything so soft in my life??? It took all of my willpower not to just scootch the entire family up into my new car and bring them home with me. They did try to go under my car and hide...




I knew my kids would love them. My cocker spaniels and hubby...hmmm...not so much....or maybe too much (as in the wonderful text my husband responded to my question regarding where I could "purchase a duck family of my own"...he said "they have lots of them in most pet stores and restaurants").




After several minutes of cajoling/coaxing/encouraging the family towards a body of water in which we knew was nearby, we finally, unintentionally scared them into a bush. And they were in the bush...as in lying down and hiding from us. There was not much we could do at this point. Not to mention the fact that my kids were waiting for me to come pick them up and I couldn't be late. But who do I call? 911? The Animal Rescue? What is that number? I have not felt this helpless is a long time.

I did ask these men standing nearby (apparently there to perform some construction or repair work) to pay attention and make sure that when they finally emerged from the bush they would be guided in an appropriate direction. I even gave them directions to my home (not really, but I would have if I knew I could help the Duck Family and adopt them into my family).

A few hours later, I went back with my kids...just to see...I can't stop thinking about them. They weren't there. I just hope and pray they are safe and found somewhere to go where Mama could teach her gorgeous, ultra-fuzzy, heavenly ducklings to fly, eat, hop up a curb, and all the other tasks a baby Duck must learn before it moves up to adult status.

What do I know? I grew up in Los Angeles! I never saw anything like this. But I am in love...


Friday, June 4, 2010

Thai Corn Chowder & Cabbage Salad, Part 1

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Chef Kirk Leins and Tony Pinto from www.NoTimetoCook.com offered me the opportunity to work with them and I was magically able to "inspire" them to go plant-based with me for a few recipes. This is the first part of a two-part series and an additional series to come (in the can...as they say in Hollywood :)!).

We developed a Thai theme for these two soup and salad recipes. Part 1 shows the preparation of the Thai Corn Chowder and stay tuned for Chef Kirks delicious and easy-to-make Thai Cabbage Salad.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:


2.5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup onion, chopped
bunch of celery, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 good pinch of sea salt
1 stalk lemongrass
4 cups frozen corn
1 can light coconut milk
1 cup red pepper, chopped
2 limes' worth of zest
juice of 2 limes
½ cup fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Sauté onion, celery, garlic, ginger, coriander, red bell pepper and sea salt in ½ cup of the vegetable broth in a large pot on low-medium heat. Stir to prevent sticking and to combine flavors. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until vegetables look translucent. Add lemongrass bulbs, 2 cups of the corn, rest of the broth and coconut milk to the pot and bring to a boil. After boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 10 minutes. Use immersion blender to blend the mixture (or remove some and blend in a regular blender and return to the pot). Add the other 2 cups of corn and red pepper flakes. Cover and let simmer for 10 more minutes. Add lime zest and lime juice, cilantro and serve. Serves 4-6.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wacky Wild Rice

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Something about this combination of flavors that I cannot get enough of. Call me wacky, call me Mediterranean, but try this easy-to-make dish before you decide!



Recipe:
3 cups water or vegetable broth
8oz wild rice
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked and chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can artichoke hearts in water, chopped OR frozen artichoke hearts thawed

Preparation:
Soak sundried tomatoes until soft (may take several hours...but well-worth the wait)

Boil water or broth in medium pot
Add rice
Let simmer on low-medium heat  until rice is soft and water/broth is absorbed (usually about 45-50 min)
Let rice sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb remaining liquid and to cool

Chop tomatoes
Rinse garbanzo beans very well
Rinse canned artichokes really well and chop them (or take them out from the thawed freezer bag)

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rainbow Roots-An Experiment in Creativity

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Every week, I look forward to retrieving my CSA box from the local elementary school cafeteria. I never know what I will receive in my crate filled with one day-old organic farm-fresh veggies. I view it as a challenge...what will I make with all of these items? Do I know what they are? Can I really live with myself if I am throwing fresh produce in the garbage week after week if it is not my favorite variety or something I am clearly unfamiliar with? Do I really have time to wash and prepare ALL of those veggies in one sitting?

So, after weeks of throwing away the huge radishes which I had no idea what to do with even though I had already invested the time washing, chopping and preparing them...AND after ultimately throwing out the beets even though those were peeled, chopped and ready to be tossed in the oven as well (to be honest, my favorite part of the beet is its greens...YUM!)...I decided to do an experiment!

Step 1: I took all of the root veggies in my crate (rainbow colored carrots, daikon radish, beets, a purple potato, yellow potato and some yams I had bought at the Farmer's Market on Sunday and I washed and chopped them all into disks and moons.

Step 2: I split them in half amongst two baking sheets. Look at this array of color! This is the ultimate way to get all your antioxidants and phytochemical. I love to tell people to try and get the entire rainbow into their diet everyday to most effectively fight disease and promote health.

Step 3: Decide how to prep the trays for their journey towards roasting in the oven. This meant I called my Mother-in-law to get her recipe for sweet root veggies and then modify it to nutrify according to my health standards. In other words, I used maple syrup instead of brown sugar.



On Tray 1, I used maple syrup, back pepper, ground ginger and a tiny sprinkle of celtic sea salt.
On Tray 2, fresh Italian parsley from the garden, a bit of fresh basil from the CSA box, black pepper, a tiny sprinkle of celtic sea salt.

Here is what they looked like pre-roasting:



After roasting them for about 30 minutes, they were ready for the taste-test.



What was interesting is that they were both delicious and equally sweet. The ginger gave Tray 1 a pungent zest-iness that was truly decadent. It was like eating dessert! I couldn't decide which recipe I preferred until I ended up throwing all of the leftovers into a large bowl and allowed their juices and flavors to combine and unify. Funny enough, this combination was my favorite. What a great way to use up all the nutritious and phytochemical-rich items in my weekly CSA box.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Whole Health Makeover Program- Part One

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This past Saturday, May 8th, marked the first official Whole Health Makeover Program, Part One. We had a full house and the program ran incredibly smoothly, fortunately. We spent the day alternating between lectures by myself,  Dr. Matthew Lederman, and Dr. Alona Pulde of Exsalus Health and Wellness Center, and cooking demonstrations by the brilliantly talented and hilarious Chef AJ.














Here is the schedule that we followed:

8:00-8:30 Registration and Welcome


8:30-8:45 It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie Demo – Chef AJ










8:45-9:45 The state of disease in America & our current health crisis: A review of some of the most common health concerns and what we can do about them (i.e. heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis) - Drs. Pulde/Lederman


9:45-11:00 Nutrition lecture Part 1: myths debunked dairy, calcium, protein, meat, & iron – Julieanna Hever

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:30  Cooking Demo: Baked Tortilla Chips and Pea Guacamole; Green Goodness Dressing; Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, and Canellini Bean Soup; Peanut and Chocolate Peanut Bites  – Chef AJ

12:30-1:00 Lunch Break

1:00-2:00 Food Addiction: What it is and how to manage it; How to deal with deprivation – Drs. Pulde/Lederman

2:00-3:00 Nutrition Lecture Part 2: myths debunked fats, oils, omega 3 fatty acids, and carbsJulieanna Hever

3:00-3:15 Caramel Fakkiatto smoothie food demo – Chef AJ

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-5:00 Strategies for success and navigating obstacles – Drs. Pulde/Lederman

Overall, it was a wonderful seminar and the attendees had great feedback and they enjoyed the cuisine and took home tons of information.

Part Two is Saturday, May 22nd. Sign up now for talks about exercise, stress management, supplements and more of Chef AJ's decadent healthy magic.

Chef AJ's 30 Day Challenge Ball-Off Results and Recipes

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I had the honor of being a Guest Judge at the 30 Day Challenge Ball-Off. If you hadn't heard of a ball-off before (neither had I), it is a competition where all participants are challenged to create the most perfect healthy "ball". Because the challenge is based on eating a whole food, plant-centered diet depleted of processed foods (specifically sugar, oil, salt and flour), these balls mostly consisted of dried fruits, nuts, coconut, cacao, flax and hemp seeds.

Luckily, many people were up for the challenge and there ended up being 19 different samples to judge that evening. Mind you, these balls are rich in flavor, calories, fat, sweetness. And I have completely lost my palate for this type of food product, so this was rather challenging for me, as a judge. But, along with 5 other brave and fine-palated judges, I had an incredibly fun time participating! The balls were all very different, ranging in texture, density, and flavor. The criteria for judgement included creativity, taste and appearance.

And the winners were (drum roll, please)....

1st place: Michelle Wolf with a creatively named, and perfectly textured concoction called Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles, a truly inspired creation with a surprise in the middle.

2nd place: Brenda Cohen with her Almond Overjoy Balls

3rd place: Deborah Snider with Nanna Balls (which was actually both my favorite as well as the audiences)

And now for the recipes:
Michelle Wolf's Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles















Background Story:
At the age of sixteen, I had the unique opportunity to take a student trip to Europe. While the museums and architecture were feasts for the eyes, the cuisine was a feast for the taste buds. During our stay in Rome, my friends and I discovered a new love, named gelato, and proceeded to dine on this rich Italian ice cream six times per day! One of my favorite flavors was Gianduia (pronounced: zhahn-DOO-yuh) which was a blend of chocolate and hazelnut. The memory of this delicious flavor was my inspiration for the “Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles” that I created for Chef AJ’s Ball-off competition.

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT GIANDUIA TRUFFLES
(Pronunciation: zhahn-DOO-yuh)

Yield: 25 truffles

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups raw hazelnuts, divided
18 (or more for added sweetness) Deglet Noor pitted dates soaked overnight in unsweetened chocolate almond milk.
2 Tablespoons Ultimate brand Raw Cacao Powder (for dark chocolate flavor)
Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract (optional)
Alcohol-free Almond Extract (optional)

Directions:
1. Place 1/2 cup of hazelnuts into the food processor and process until ground into coarse powder. Place into a bowl and set aside. (To be used later to coat the outside of the truffles.)
2. Place remaining 1 cup of hazelnuts into the food processor and process until ground into coarse powder.
3. Add cacao powder and the soaked dates (without excess soaking liquid). To enhance the subtle flavor blend, you can try adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. Process until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
4. Remove by rounded teaspoon and place a whole hazelnut into the center of the chocolate nut mixture. Roll in palm of hands to form small round balls approximately 1-inch in diameter. (To avoid sticking, slightly wet palms of hands before rolling each ball.)
5. Roll each ball in bowl of ground hazelnuts until outside is even coated.
6. Place into container and store in freezer until ready to serve.

Definition (provided by the Nut Gourmet, Zel Allen, a fellow judge and co-publisher of Vegetarians in Paradise, a monthly online magazine that everyone must subscribe to):
Gianduia is the name given to a European style of chocolate made from chocolate and nut paste. Hazelnut paste is most common, but gianduia can also be made with almond paste. It comes in milk or dark chocolate varieties. Alternate Spelling: Gianduja

2nd Prize Recipe: Brenda Cohen's Almond Overjoy Balls














Background Story:

Well I used to love candy and I was trying to make something similar to an old favorite and that would appeal to a lot of people. I thought about putting an almond in the middle, but didn’t. Just like the commercial used to say……”sometimes you feel like a nut”

Ingredients:

2 cups raw almonds
¼ cup raw cacao powder
2 cups pitted deglet noor dates
¼ cup raw shredded coconut (macaroon cut)
½ cup golden raisins
1 Tbsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract (or to taste)
Equal parts cacao and shredded coconut for rolling


Instructions:
In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, process the almonds until they are almost nut butter consistency. Add cacao powder and process again until fully incorporated. Add dates and process again until mixture almost comes together. Add coconut and process again until thoroughly combined. Add raisins and extracts until the mixture will stick together and form a ball if rolled (clumped) in your hand. Roll into balls, and then roll in cacao & coconut mixture. Enjoy!



3rd Prize Recipe: Deborah Snider's Nanna Balls
















Background Story:

When I am in the mood for something sweet with a creamy texture these nutritious frozen treats really satisfy. Delicious as any fatty ice cream bon-bon, the ingredients are all whole and good for me.


Ingredients:
Sliced bananas (frozen solid on cookie trays)
chopped pistachios - placed on wide dinner plate or cookie sheet

Chocolate coating:
AJ's FUNdue
1 cup peanut butter (no salt or sugar)
1 cup date paste
1/2 cup raw cacao powder (1/4 cup more for less sweet dip)
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (less liquid for thicker mixture)
1 T alcohol-free vanilla extract
1/4 t caramel extract

Directions:
Blend all ingredient in food processor with S-blade until completely smooth
When bananas are completely frozen, roll them in AJ's FUNdue - it is easier to coat bananas right out of the freezer, so just remove a few at a time to coat. ( If they start to melt they get slick and are hard to coat.) Immediately roll the coated bananas in chopped pistachio and return to freezer for complete freezing.

Thank you so much to the contestants for sharing their recipes. These are all great choices when you are entertaining and want to offer individual-sized desserts. They are also healthy options for kids' lunchboxes, adult lunches, and for an on-the-go treat. They are filled with nutrition that will also keep you satisfied and curb any sugar cravings. Keep them frozen for last minute, ready-to-go bites of heaven!
Cheers!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vindaloo Veggies with Wild Rice - Jon and Julieanna in the kitchen

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Easy, delicious, fast!

Recipe:

Bag frozen organic veggie mix
Basu's Homestyle Vegan Vindaloo Sauce

Saute in a pan together for a few minutes...

Add about 2 cups cooked rice (we used a mix of wild and brown rice)

By the way..did you know that wild rice is not rice? It is a grass! And SOOO delicious! My favorite whole grain!

Let simmer for a few more minutes...

Voila! Presto! Dinner is served...could it be any easier???

Enjoy! Cheers!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pineapple Aloha Rice

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A luau in a bowl...have a happy, healthy Hawaiian dish that satisfies the pickiest of eaters and nourishes your body from within. In less than 15 minutes, you can have this delicious, nutrient-packed meal that makes you feel like you are on vacation in Hawaii!

Recipe:


1/2 cup light coconut milk

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

3/4 bunch celery, chopped

1 medium red pepper, chopped



Saute for about 5 minutes (until vegetables have softened)



add:

4 cups brown rice, cooked (I used microwaved frozen brown rice)

1.5 cups pineapple, chopped

3/4 cups macadamia nuts, chopped

few cranks of black pepper

pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce



Mix, blend, and let simmer for a few minutes. Enjoy! Serves 2-4 people!

Alooooooha!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grilled Veggie Wrap and Oil! Jon and Julieanna In the Kitchen

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Time to delineate the controversy that surrounds the consumption of oil. Oil is a processed food and consists of 100% pure fat, with no nutrients that we need. It is grossly overused in cooking today, particularly at restaurants. The good news is that it is just as easy to cook without using oil and you lose absolutely none of the flavor.

Much research suggests that people with diagnosed heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity fare better when they eliminate the consumption of oil and other high fat food products (including nuts, seeds, olives and avocados for those following a whole food, plant-based diet, which is the optimal diet for disease prevention and reversal). Proponents of a low-fat, plant-based diet including Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard, and Dr. Dean Ornish have had great success treating their patients and ameliorating their life-threatening chronic diseases.

Jon and I discuss in this video the fact that for the healthy and physically active population, using tiny amounts of oil once in a while is safe. Hence, as we create Jon's Grilled Veggie Wrap recipe, he uses about a teaspoon of oil to grill the vegetables. This minute quantity spread through all 4 servings is approved by me for people not at risk for or already diagnosed with any of the aforementioned chronic diseases. However, with these conditions, grilling the vegetables without the oil will taste just as great but will pose absolutely no health risk whatsoever nor will it alter the cooking process adversely. Another aternative is use raw veggies in this wrap in order to preserve more of the nutrients n the vegetables, add more crunch, and eliminate the need for oil or even a grill! In fact, I do recommend the use of raw vegetables as the majority of a healthy diet.

Jon's Grilled Veggie Wrap is truly delicious and is simple to make. Just add hummus, sliced carrot peels, sliced avocado, grilled vegetables (yellow squash, red pepper, and zucchini, and Jon's dipping sauce (tamari, rice vinegar, spicy mustard, chili paste) to a tortilla. We used brown rice tortillas. Here you have a rainbow of colors and nutrients in a quick and delicious meal! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nori Edamame Salad with Miso Sauce

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I wanted to call this salad a "Sushi Salad", but Jon insisted that sushi implied fish and he didn't want to mislead our viewers to think we were veganizing a recipe. Our goal together is to bring healthy meal ideas to everyone and to not discriminate against omnivores. I completely concur...my goal as a Plant-Based Dietitian is to help everyone get healthy, no matter where they are on the omnivore to vegan spectrum. Thus, after playing with ideas for names including "Un-Sushi Salad", "Sumo Salad" and "Sayonara Salad, we decided to go with the obvious and to just name the unique ingredients...hence the title. Regardless, this is my new favorite salad and I cannot wait to eat it again.

It was a crazy experiement that ended up successful. I simply combined nori (seaweed sheets used to wrap sushi in that is FILLED with hard-to-find minerals like calcium, iron and iodine), salad mix (bagged for convenience with lettuce, carrots and red cabbage), shelled edamame, matchstick cucumbers, avocado and pickled ginger. I topped it off my tossing the mix in a store-bought miso dressing. YUM! I cannot recommend this salad enough. I guarantee you will love it and so will your body!

Domo arigato and sayonara!!!