The Art of Salad Making

 

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The art of making a salad is sometimes overlooked. Salads tend to be viewed as side dishes, or quick and easy meals. To me, there is so much more to a salad than just the basics. Sure, you can use iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes, but why go basic when your salad can not only look like a work of art, but taste like one too. Below are my tips for making the perfect, nutrition-packed, color-popping, belly-pleasing salad.

Base: Ditch the boring greens. Romaine is fine and dandy but there are better options out there with not only more flavor, but more nutrients too. Try arugula, marinated kale, or spinach.

Raw: Think colorful! Colorful veggies pack tons of nutrients. Who doesn’t want to eat a vibrant meal that is also excellent for you? Switch it up a bit. Try radishes, shaved brussels sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, orange bell peppers, and purple carrots.

Roasted: Need to use last night’s roasted veggies? Throw them on top of your salad! My favorites are roasted sweet potatoes, roasted eggplant, roasted beets, roasted fennel and roasted string beans. They add complex flavor and make your salad feel like more of a hearty meal.

Fats: Fats are just as important as every other ingredient in your salad. Adding fat to your salad helps your body to absorb all the nutrients found in the veggies you choose, like beta-carotene, lycopene and more. I love adding avocado, feta cheese, olives, nuts, or seeds.

Protein: When it comes to salad, veggies are usually the star of mine, but a little added protein can help give you a boost. Some of my favorites include; raw tofu, hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken, hummus, or beans.

Healthy Toppers: Now that your salad is almost complete, you can add bursts of color and mega-nutrients by topping it with things like; pomegranate seeds, berries, fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro, artichoke hearts, pepitas, and maybe even some ground flax or hempseeds.

Dressing: There are two routes you can take with dressing; creamy or vinaigrette. If you’re going vinaigrette, I like using things like; a healthy oil base such as olive or avocado oil, vinegar such as apple cider or red wine, a citrus such as lemon or lime, some dijon mustard, and any herbs you like! If you’re going creamy, I’m a fan of; olive oil, greek yogurt, lemon, parsley, chives, dill, and minced garlic. Add all these ingredients to a blender and voila!

There you have it. It’s easy to pack on tons of calories to a salad, but with the right ingredients and right mindset, a salad can be the healthiest, most nutritious and most delicious meal of the day.

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Blueberry Coconut French Toast Bake

 

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Ingredients

  • 8 cups bread, cubed (Use a good healthy brand, preferably whole grain, or gluten free)
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups organic blueberries

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, almond extract, and most of the cinnamon. Whisk

  2. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add the cubed bread.

  3. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and mix it around until all parts of the bread are completely covered. Let sit for 30 minutes.

  4. Mix in the blueberries and coconut, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon

  5. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

  6. Before taking it out, check to make sure there is no more liquid. If there is, continue to bake in 2 minute increments until the liquid is gone.

  7. Once cooled, cut into square pieces and serve with pure maple syrup

Milestones and Mules

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This past weekend, I celebrated a pretty huge milestone in my healing journey. April 8th, 2017 was the day I received my test results showing that I had successfully killed my candida overgrowth. I can remember sitting at the dinner table with my boyfriend when I got the email that my results were in. My hands were shaking as I clicked “view,” and I wondered if all the hard work I had put in was going to pay off. Well, it did.

June 2016 to April 2017 was the hardest time in my life. It went by so slowly. The days were long, the tears were excessive, and the pain was intense. The hardest part of what I went through was not knowing how long it would take to heal, and if it even would. Looking back on that difficult time, it’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I gained the peace of mind I had been endlessly fighting for. I fought fucking hard. I had more discipline than I knew was possible. I didn’t give up on myself and I tried everything I could. And I made it.

The end of May 2017 was when I loosened up my diet, reduced the number of supplements, and began my journey towards a more normal way of life. It has been almost a year, and this year has flown by. My boyfriend asked me once what I would do differently in life once I felt better. My answer was that I wouldn’t wait for anyone to do things that made me happy and I would take advantage of what life had to offer, and I think I have lived up to that. I have been enjoying this past year maybe a little too much 🙂 My goals for the next year are: stay healthy, tone up again, visit a new country, get a new job, and find beauty in every day.

If you are going through tough times in life, I just want you to know that it gets better. If you fight for yourself and give healing your all, you will make it, and you will be celebrating like me. I’m looking so forward to celebrating this milestone in sunny Florida next week with a few moscow mules and the ocean breeze.

Curried Coconut Tomato Soup with Lentils and Greens

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This hearty soup is warming, delicious, healthy and so filling!

Ingredients

(Makes 6-8 Servings):

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 large vidalia onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, minced ( or substitute ground ginger)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot!)
  • pink salt to taste
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 13.5 oz. can lightcoconut milk
  • 1 13.5 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
    • if you like your soup on the richer/creamer side, use two full fat cans and omit the light can
    • if you like your soup lower calorie and less creamy, use two light cans and omit the full fat can
  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups spinach, washed and de-stemmed
    • You can use any type of green! Kale or escarole are great too!
  • Bulgarian or Greek Yogurt for serving (omit if vegan)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium
  2. Add onion and cook/stir until softened & browned, about 10 minutes
  3. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes, and cook/stir about 3 minutes
  4. Add lentils and cook/stir about 3 minutes
  5. Add 5 cups of water, tomatoes, and pink salt to taste, stir
  6. Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat and simmer the soup until the lentils are cooked, about 25-30 minutes.
  8. Garnish with yogurt and crushed red pepper
  9. Enjoy!

 

*This recipe is candida safe, refined sugar free, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan!

Vegan Gluten Free Blueberry Banana Oat Bran Pancakes

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Oat Bran
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice or a teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh organic blueberries
  • coconut oil
  • optional spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
  • optional: if you are not vegan and would like to, you can add an egg as well for a better consistency

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients besides the blueberries and oil, and stir or blend until smooth (if you use lemon zest, you will want to blend)
  2. Heat coconut oil or spray a large nonstick skillet over medium heat
  3. Spoon enough batter for 3 separate pancakes into the skillet and sprinkle each one with fresh organic blueberries
  4. Once you see bubbles on the surface, flip the pancakes and cook until the other side is browned
  5. Serve pancakes with your choice of toppings such as pure maple syrup, nut butter, or jam!

*This recipe is safe for vegan, gluten free (if you have celiac disease be sure the oat bran is labeled gluten free), vegetarian, candida, leaky gut, and low FODMAP diets

It’ll grow back

There were a lot of things that really sucked about having Candida, but I think the hardest part was losing my hair. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t that much, but every time I showered I’d lose wads and wads of hair. It was the most depressing thing I’ve ever experienced. I felt ugly and like I was losing my femininity. I’m Persian, obviously, and we are known for having big beautiful thick heads of hair. When I started losing that feature, I started losing myself. I would spend all day on the internet reading about ways to help my hair re-grow, reading supplement reviews, and reading stories about people going through the same thing. “Don’t worry,” they said. “It’ll grow back,” they said. “It’s just hair,” they said. It’s not just hair, its a part of you and no matter what stage you are at in life or what the reason is, losing hair is never easy. I tried my best to stay positive but other than being in pain every single day, the hair loss was the hardest obstacle to overcome.

Well here I am about 9 months out of being candida-free, and I can finally say that my hair is coming back. It’s really, really coming back. I never thought I’d see the day. I have baby hairs everywhere and they look ridiculous but I don’t care. My hair is also almost down to my butt. I’m so grateful that I’m finally starting to feel normal again and so many of the symptoms I was suffering from are slowly disappearing. If you are experiencing hair loss as a result of autoimmune conditions, digestive disorders, or anything else, I can’t promise you that it’ll come back, but I can tell you that there’s a pretty good chance that it will. It’s so tough to deal with because stress also makes you lose hair, but how are you expected not to feel stress when you can see your health and the things you used to love about yourself fading? I want to share with you some of the things I did that I felt helped my hair to re-grow:

  • Castor Oil & Rosemary Essential Oil
    • Add a few drops of organic rosemary essential oil to castor oil and massage it into your hair and scalp. Leave it for an hour and then wash. Do this once a week.
    • Heating the castor oil before hand is also a good technique
    • Castor oil is absolutely incredible for your hair and I truly believe this was a HUGE factor in helping my hair re-grow
  • Bamboo
    • Take a bamboo, horsetail, or silica supplement daily (with the OK from your doctor)
  • Collagen
    • Great Lakes brand collagen powder is very helpful for hair and skin
    • follow the instructions on the container for best results
  • Biotin
    • The best way to increase your intake of Biotin (B7) is to get it naturally from foods such as; salmon, avocado, raspberries and cauliflower
  • Fenugreek
    • Make a paste out of fenugreek seeds and apply it to the scalp/hair. Leave for an hour then rinse
    • This method has to be done every day for results
  • Aloe Vera
    • Take 1 TBSP of pure aloe vera juice on an empty stomach daily
    • This not only helps with hair, but digestion as well
    • You can also apply aloe vera gel to the scalp for 2-3 hours a few times a week
  • Diet
    • Make sure you maintain your healing diet and are getting the proper nutrients
    • If your nutrients are low-level, be sure to supplement with your doctors guidance until you are feeling better
  • Treat your hair with love
    • Don’t use products that contain sulfates and other chemicals
    • Don’t heat treat it while you are trying to re-grow it (straighteners, blow dryers, etc)
    • Massage your scalp while laying upside down to get the blood flowing to the follicles

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Check out my baby hairs and my re-growth 🙂 They’ve been growing so quickly and soon they’ll be just as long as the rest of my hair! It will grow back!!!

Vegan Sweet Potato and White Bean Curry

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This is a tomato based curry packed with nutrition and perfect for an easy vegan dinner!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Curry Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 Cups Fresh Spinach, washed
  • 2 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Can White Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Can Diced or Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Boil peeled and chopped sweet potatoes, or place in a veggie steamer for about 15 minutes until you can easily puncture them with a fork
  2. While sweet potatoes cook, heat coconut oil over medium heat
  3. Add onions and sauté 3 minutes
  4. Next, add all the spices and stir to coat the onions evenly
  5. Add tomatoes with their juices, and the white beans, stir to combine
  6. Add ½ cup water and raise heat up to a strong simmer for about 2 minutes
  7. Next, add the fresh spinach a little at a time, and stir to coat with the sauce
  8. Cover and simmer until the spinach is just wilted
  9. Add the cooked sweet potatoes to the sauce and stir to coat
  10. Simmer for another 5 minutes
  11. Serve over Basmati Rice

 

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*This recipe is safe for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, candida diets diets.