Wheat Berry Salad

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I’d been craving a wheat berry salad ever since a friend let me taste some she bought from Whole Foods for a picnic.  I was obsessed with the chewy texture, the marriage of sweetness and tang, and the mélange of ingredients joining together to form a perfect union.

The only thing that bothered me was the canola oil they used, and I was almost certain the dried cranberries were soaked in canola and sugar, as they usually are.  I decided to recreate this dish on my own, and make a version with dried cherries–unsulphured, no canola or sugar–feta cheese, fresh mint, and a light dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.  At the last minute, I threw in two pinches of red pepper flakes, which gave the salad a nice little kick.  But you could certainly go sans heat without any negative consequences to the flavor.

Let this recipe rest for at least an hour before serving, although I think it reaches its full potential if you can let the flavors mingle overnight in the fridge.  This salad could work as one of many sides–at a picnic or backyard get-together–or play a more substantial role as a meal by throwing in some type of protein.

Wheat Berry Salad

makes 4-6 small side servings

2 cups soft wheat berries, cooked

½ cup fresh mint, chopped

½ cup dried cherries (unsulphured, no sugar), chopped

½ cup feta cheese, chopped

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 pinches sea salt

1-2 pinches red pepper flakes (or use black pepper)

Measure out wheat berries and put into medium bowl.  Add mint, cherries, and feta.  In separate small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil.  Add dressing to other ingredients, sprinkle with salt and red pepper, and mix gently but thoroughly.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

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2 Green Smoothies, 6 Ways to Enjoy Them

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During this cleanse, I’ve been experimenting with smoothies.  I’ve managed to discover some tasty concoctions while getting in a remarkable amount of dark leafy greens!  To those of you who have never had a green smoothie, try to keep an open mind.  It’s not like drinking wheat grass, which anyone will admit tastes exactly like liquefied lawn greenery.  No, these are two truly tasty, smooth, and luscious smoothies with endless possibilities.  One is fruity, one is tangy and neither would lead you to believe you’re sipping on kale, collards or other highly nutritious, low-cal greens.  The only caveat is that you need a powerful blender.  Not the $20-$50 ones that only mix soft foods and a couple of ice cubes.  You need a Vita-Mix (which I highly recommend) or equivalently high-powered machine that can withstand the feats you will be asking of it–pulverizing whole kale, collards, and parsley into a dreamy consistency is no easy task!  It’s an investment for sure, but is totally worth it if you want perfect smoothies, dips, soups, frozen drinks, and nut butters, among other things.  These smoothies keep you full and satisfied for several hours because of the fiber from the whole fruits and greens.

Green Smoothie #1:  Fruity!

This smoothie has bright notes of apple, perkiness of strawberry, and a touch of greeny goodness!  It’s like I’m describing wine 🙂  This recipe was adapted from the one I found on Jenny Sansouci’s blog Recipe for Life.

½ to 1 cup coconut water

½ or whole banana, peeled

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and quartered

handful strawberries (about 6 large), stems cut off

2-3 leaves kale, with stems

2-3 leaves collard greens, with stems

2-3 handfuls baby spinach

couple ice cubes (optional)

Add ingredients in order listed.  Blend for around 45 seconds or until smooth.  You’re done!  If you aren’t using a Vita-Mix, I would recommend adding first four ingredients and blend before adding greens and ice.  Adjust amount of coconut water and ice to your consistency preference.  If this kind of smoothie is new for you, add more fruit to ease in your taste buds.

Green Smoothie #2:  Tangy!

This tangy smoothie is a great perk-me-up in the morning!  I adapted this one from the blog Sarma Raw–this feisty, fun lady owns the raw foods restaurant Pure Food and Wine in NYC.  If you don’t have some of the specialty items listed in the ingredients, don’t sweat it.  You’ll get a nutrient-loaded smoothie anyway.

½ cup coconut water

1 lemon, peeled (don’t worry about getting all the white pith off)

1 lime, peeled (ditto about pith)

2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into big chunks

couple chunks of pineapple, mango, or banana (if frozen, add at end)

2 tablespoons E3Live

1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract

1 squirt green or white tea extract

1 tablespoon green powder

handful parsley, with stems

handfuls of kale, collards, and/or spinach

¼ to ½ inch of fresh ginger, peeled

couple ice cubes

5-16 drops stevia (optional, see note in directions)

Add ingredients in the order listed.  Blend for at least 45 seconds.  Taste.  If you desire more sweetness, add a couple drops of stevia at a time; stir, taste, and adjust if needed.  Stevia is very concentrated and, in this case, it can be too much of a good thing!

4 more ways to enjoy the green smoothies

Ok, here’s where I might lose some of you…this gets pretty hard-core for the non-weird-eating segment of the population.  I’ve always intrigued my friends and co-workers with the homemade foods I eat.  So this is not weird for me.  If you’re willing to drink green smoothies, I think you can handle this next part…and these suggestions are totally tasty!

Additional Way #1 (see 5th pic above):  Take Green Smoothie #1 (Fruity) and pour it over whole grains.  I tried it over cooked barley and topped the whole thing with shredded coconut, almonds, and cashews.  It’s like a sweetened warm grain cereal, but with the added nutrition of greens!

Additional Way #2 (see 6th pic above):  Take Green Smoothie #2 (Tangy) and pour it over chopped apples (I used Fuji).  Add goji berries, bee pollen, almonds, and sesame seeds.  Stir.  The tanginess of the smoothie complements the fruit and nuts.  This is heaven for those of us who love lots of stuff in their bowl!

Additional Ways #3 & #4:  Switch the two smoothie combos!  I didn’t do this yet–I’m confident Fruity Smoothie would combine well with the apples/nuts/crazy stuff combo; not as confident about Tangy Smoothie and the grains, but I think it would work.

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Wide Awake. Downing Dark Greens. Getting My Sexy Back.

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It’s Day 6 of my Spring Cleanse!  Time for a progress report.

Positives

  • Feeling really awake in the morning, doesn’t take too long to clear away the fog.
  • Seeing results in my body.  My little waist is making a comeback!  Hopefully, my thighs will be next.
  • Totally sticking to the food plan.  Eating a truck-load of dark, leafy greens.  And loving it.
  • Getting a lot done despite not taking in caffeine.  Hallelujah!  I’m caffeine independent!
  • Skin looks great!  Sometimes, a side effect of detoxing is acne, but that didn’t happen.  Gotta love life’s ittle miracles.

Downsides

  • Really itching to have a burger.  And bacon.  There’s nothing like the smell of bacon in the morning.  Especially when you can’t have it.  Arrrrggghhhh!
  • Would love a glass of wine.  And a spread of cheese and crackers.  Which brings me to…
  • I miss dairy.  (Cue tear.)
  • Not a big fan of restrictions.  But who is?  Thankfully, my willpower is strong.  Willpower has been on sabbatical for a while, so I’m glad it’s back.
  • I’ve had a few passing headaches.  Probably part of the detox.  Need to increase my water intake.  I’ve been drinking lots of green smoothies and herbal tea, but that’s not the same as pure water.  The headaches are probably a polite reminder to start guzzling more of the good stuff.
  • Couldn’t make it past Day 2 without going back to my regular deodorant.  I’ve tried several times to use “all-natural” ones, different brands and types.  Nope, they don’t work on my pits.  I understand the risk with conventional deodorant is possible sickness down the road, but what kind of life will I be leading if I can’t get in close proximity of people?  If I can smell myself, what must others be smelling?!  Uh-uh.  I’ll be using my good ol’ toxic deodorant until they come up with an equally effective non-toxic option.

Here are a few pictures of the foods and drinks I’ve been enjoying…

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

Brown rice with zucchini, onions, Bok choy, and sesame seeds.  This small pic doesn’t do it justice.  Click on it to see a close-up version…are you salivating yet?

Homemade baked beans

Lots of legumes and grains.  I’ll give you this recipe soon!  It’s important to soak your beans and grains.  Click here to find out why in an article I wrote.

Massive green smoothie

I’ve been drinking 1 or 2 of these bad boys a day.  Easy way to get in your fruits and veggies!

Lemon-lime water

And of course, lots of water!  I love to slice up lemons and limes and drop them into a carafe of water.  It’s visually pleasing and adds tons of flavor.  I keep filling the carafe up with filtered water until all the flavor is gone.  One thing to note is the limes will turn brown and weird while the lemons will still be going strong.  I take all the fruit out, discard the limes, and squish the lemons back in for a bit.

If you’re not following the cleanse with me, do you think you could do it now that you’ve heard some of the great positive results?

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Breakfast Kasha

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

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Buckwheat, also known as kasha, is a highly nutritious food.  Right now I’m experimenting with less commonly used grains for my breakfast cereal.  Oatmeal is a little too gelatinous and soupy for my tastes.  I prefer a heartier, chewier, and more flavorful choice.  Kasha satisfied my requirements delightfully.  My experimental recipe resulted in an easy breakfast cereal that was nutty, earthy, and had lovely depth of taste.  I’m naming it Breakfast of Champions!

As I do with most grains, I double the recipe so I’ll have leftovers for the week.  If you choose to do this, add a little water, milk, juice, or oil (depending on your use for it) when you reheat the kasha.  Note:  Don’t soak this grain!  And don’t add kasha to cold water and bring to a boil (as you can with other grains), it won’t cook properly.

Recipe

makes 2 servings

1 cup kasha

2 cups filtered water

½ to 1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup

handful of nuts and/or seeds

couple dashes cardamom

couple dashes cinnamon or apple pie spice

Boil 2 cups water.  Rinse kasha in a fine-mesh strainer and check for any unwanted material.  Add 1 cup kasha, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Start checking on the kasha halfway to three-quarters of the way through–there’s a fine line between slightly moist kasha and stuck-and-burning kasha.  When the kasha is done cooking, turn off the heat.  Stir in maple syrup, nuts/seeds, and spices.  Enjoy!

Other ways to spice up your breakfast kasha:  raisins/walnuts/raw honey, coconut milk/shredded coconut/dried fruit.

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