About Jenn

Jenn Koerner is a Northern California gal with a love of the farm to fork movement. She's the owner/chef of the Lean.Green.Kitchen, a mom to two big personalities in little bodies and a wife/best friend to a super supportive and loving guy. THINGS I LOVE: lemons, basil, chocolate and the color turquoise. THINGS I DO NOT LOVE: "food" from boxes, coffee, poached eggs (I know, I'm the only one in the foodie world who doesn't do coffee and poached eggs), and injustice.

Why I’m turning Facebook off for three days

**When I read this post after writing it, I thought to myself that this is a not-so-pretty window into my Facebook struggle, and it doesn’t show me in the best light. I decided to share it anyway, because it is real and important. I am not alone in Facebook over-use, so maybe this will help someone else recognize where they are with social media. I feel like I need to say upfront that I love Facebook and think it has the potential to be used in a healthy way for the betterment of humans. But like anything, it can be abused.

If you are a first timer here at the Lean.Green.Kitchen, you may be thinking two things. One, what does this have to do with the kitchen? And my response is that as a part of the Lean.Green.Kitchen’s Spring Fling Challenge, we’ve gone a little broader in our scope this month to focus on two things in addition to our regular real food programming: self-care and cleaning up for summer. This post is all about the self-care. You can read about the Spring Fling here. Two, you might be wondering who I am, as this post is just a little piece of me (and certainly not the piece I’m most proud of). For that, I’d refer you to other posts (like this one and this one) where I feel like the brighter, more positive pieces of myself shine through.**


fb post2

It’s gotten to be too much. I am officially maxed out on Facebook. And it is all my own fault. My wish to know what everyone is up to, to stay on top of my favorite blogs, to share my little corner of the world is mixing with my compulsive, maybe even addictive characteristics and altering my daily life.

For a little background, I know I cannot play phone games (I tried Jewels with Buddies, SongPop, DrawSomething, Words with Friends and others I can’t remember the names) because it is like a vortex where I must be on top of the game at all times. I feel good when I’ve got my rounds all played and feel bad when I get behind. This ain’t right people. They are games. Not jobs. Not kids. Not important in any way. But I would end up with visions of their screenshots flashing in my dreams at night while I slept, sometimes even waking me up to play. True story. So now I don’t play any of them. (I haven’t played one round of Candy Crush, it appears to be instantly habit-forming.) And lately I’ve started to realize that Facebook might be my new obsessive game of choice. And it worries me, greatly. So I put together this list of the ways my Facebook time is impacting my life and it just flowed out like that little voice in the back of my mind was saying, “so glad you asked.”

Here are the reasons why I’m taking a three-day power nap from Facebook for my Spring Fling Challenge #selfcare.

  1. Physically: The repetitive motion of moving my thumb to roll through post after post on Facebook multiple times a day has resulted in me actually noticing at the end of a day that my thumb is strained and achy. I believe the Huffington Post called it “Text Claw” and it’s becoming a real thing. I can only assume the long-term effects of how much we all use our phones for social media are not going to be great. Between eye-strain and painful thumbs, I’m thinking an intervention sooner than later seems appropriate. I do not wish to be a forty-something with Text Claw, that sounds embarrassing.
  2. Emotionally: Have you heard the term FOMO? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and the definition states that it is: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. Now, I really don’t have “classic” FOMO, because my need for partying is very small. But I do identify with the fact that after reading and observing Facebook, my brain short circuits because it wants to do and try so many things. For every recipe that I try, home improvement/decorating tip I attempt, cause I deem worthy, there are tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands that I don’t get to and feel emotionally like I’m missing out.
  3. Mentally: Turns out, I can’t be in two brain spaces at once. As much as I attempt to give my kids, husband, family and friends my full attention, sometimes the pull of what’s going on at the Facebook distracts me – even if the screen’s not on. I’m working out my next post in my head, feeling badly for some far-reaching friend’s rough day, wondering if so-and-so had her baby, hoping that my Lean.Green.Kitchen page has secured a few more likes. Some times it feels so crowded in this body with all the chatter, I can’t fathom listening intently to anyone else. But do I take the requisite time and energy to quiet these thoughts? No, because I choose (it’s an unconscious habit, so I find it hard to even use a word like “choose”) instead to read inspirational quotes with awesome fonts (which I truly love) and connect with whoever happens to be plugged in right now about whatever happens to be on the feed right now. Talk about a loss of personal power.
  4. Energetically: I know this little phone has crazy energetic waves that reach out into the “interwebs” and bring me information and connection. My massage therapist finally talked me into putting the phone in airplane mode at night because she is so sure those energy waves negatively impact sleep patterns. I am concerned that we don’t know the ramifications of being so close to this radiation all.the.time. I’m not really enjoying feeling like a smart phone guinea pig.
  5. Spiritually: As a human who thrives on being grounded and centered, Facebook has moved away from being a life enhancer and into being a crutch. A way to look busy, avoid slow moments, a cheap connection trick. I turn it on first thing in the morning, literally before my feet hit the ground and the information I gather there becomes my first mood of the day. My feed is filled with lots of amazing things and amazing people so thankfully most days I see good stuff for these ten minutes. The only problem is I have a compulsion to see everything, to get through the feed all the way to where I left it the night before, so I don’t (can’t) take the time to actually read or click or engage in anything that might be fulfilling. So I feel rushed, busy and incomplete before I’ve even gotten out of bed.
  6. Straight up ridiculous: The other day I had a whole debate in my head between which I’d rather have stolen, my car keys/car or my phone. My car costs THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS and GETS ME EVERYWHERE I NEED TO GO, and yet I still thought the phone would hurt more. WAIT, WHAT??

This is not who I want to be. This is not intentional living. This is me working for Facebook, instead of it working for me. This is a bad habit that needs to be dealt with before it becomes something much harder to give up. I’m going #selfcare-cold-turkey and turning Facebook off for the next three days. We’ll see what comes up for me when I no longer have over-stimulation from Facebook. I’m going to put in the effort to not isolate myself from society for the three days, but find new ways (which are my old ways) to engage for a few days. From there I hope to have perspective for a long-term solution. I truly love so much about what Facebook adds to my life, so I would really like to find a healthy place to co-exist with it.

Does any of this resonate with your social media habits or those of a loved one? How do you maintain your balance on Facebook or other social media outlets? What level are you on Candy Crush ;)?

Here are a few links that make me go “hmmmm.”

How Your Cell Phone is Harming Your Health (Infographic)

For Your Children’s Sake, Put Down That Smartphone

9 Common Pursuits that Rob Us of Happiness (Number 6)

Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall (FOMO)

Screen Free Week (It was actually last week, but you can make it whenever you need it.)

 

Salad Spree Round-Up

Woo Hoo! Spring is here and everybody is eating salad again. As I was pulling up an old salad recipe from my blog, I realized that with so many of you new to the Lean.Green.Kitchen site, you may not have seen all the salad recipes posted a year ago. So I’ve gone ahead and linked them all up into this Salad Spree Round-Up. May they give us ideas now that the days are getting warmer!

Mexican Caesar Salad Mexican Caesar Salad recipe

Spring Pearl Couscous Spring Pearl Couscous Salad recipe

Beet Orange Stack-Ups Beet Orange Salad recipe

The Simplest Salad The Simplest Salad recipe

Confetti Pasta Salad Confetti Pasta Salad recipe

Cherry Chicken Curry Salad Chicken Curry Salad recipe

Red, White and Blue Quinoa Salad Red White and Blue Quinoa Salad recipe

Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint recipe Do you have a favorite??

Looking forward to posting some more salad recipes soon!

Four Steps to a #REALMEAL (plus Salmon Veggie Pasta recipe, oh my!)

realmeal

As a part of the Spring Fling Challenge, many in the Lean.Green.Kitchen community have been making an effort to enjoy one #realmeal each day. For some, this is just a part of their every day lifestyle and has been a chance to show off their daily work, while others have struggled with pulling something together each day. In today’s post I am reaching out to those struggling with my four step guide to #realmeal success. Hopefully it will provide a little structure, which always helps when people are making changes to their daily routine. And to show off the structure, we’ll use the very delicious example of a Salmon Veggie Pasta recipe. Sounds good to me!

FOUR STEPS TO A #REALMEAL

Step 1. Planning

The number one thing that has helped me put #realmeals on the table night after night has been a weekly meal plan. I wrote all about it on this post: Plan Your Meals. Each weekend I write out the days of the upcoming week and look at the calendar to see what the evenings have in store. Then I think about what I have in the refrigerator that I need to use and what fruits and veggies I’ve seen at the farmers market (or in my farm box) and with all this information I come up with meals that I can handle on each of the nights.

There are often nights with very little time between activities and dinner, so I plan crock pot meals, breakfast for dinner and make ahead meals if necessary. I love using Pinterest for meal inspiration, and sometimes will just type ingredients right into Google if I can’t think of anything. We also like routines, so our family pretty consistently has Taco Night on Tuesdays and Pizza Night on Fridays. I try to cook chicken, salmon and beef once each week and we usually have leftovers from one of those to make into something new another night. My daughter eats very little meat, so we usually have nutrient-rich side dishes, though sometimes I just open a can of beans to fill up her plate (she loves beans!)

Step 2. Prepping

Having a meal plan is great but means nothing if you don’t follow through. The real commitment comes when you buy the food necessary for the meal plan. This is what seals the deal for me. If I have the food in the house, then we are a go. I shop at the farmers market on Sunday and the grocery store on Monday for the week. Then it is all about the prep work. This is what allows us to eat before eight-o-clock at night. Each day I am looking at the meal plan to see if there are things I can do to make the next few nights meals go faster. This often includes taking meat out of the freezer, placing not so ripe avocados into a brown bag for quicker ripening, and making dressings, marinades and sauces.

It is VERY VERY VERY helpful if you read the instructions of any new recipes you are making to get a sense of the timeline needed to put it together. There is nothing worse than coming to the end of making something only to realize the last line says, “serve over rice” and you haven’t started any rice. Not that this has ever happened to me. Twice.

I know of many people who successfully prep lots of food on the weekend, including veggie chopping, hard boiling eggs, cooking grains, and even roasting/baking meats and making casseroles. I encourage people who are struggling with meal prep to try this option. If I worked outside my home I think this would be a must do, but I have the luxury of doing daily meal prep while I’m making my lunch throughout the week. However you choose to implement it, the more you can prep, the easier getting your #realmeals to the table will be!

Step 3. Preparing

Some of us love to cook, so preparing meals is not a mental hassle, but that’s not the case for everyone. I encourage you to look at preparing your meals as an adventure or a gift depending on what gets you excited. Embrace your inner scientist and follow recipes or embrace your inner artist and follow your intuition while you cook. If you have other people around, create opportunities for them to help – make a list of mini tasks that will get the job done quicker and dish them out. If you go into an evening with the plan and the prep done, making the actual meal is very do-able. Turn on some music and work it!

Step 4. Presenting

If you have planned, prepped and prepared your #realmeal you may find yourself feeling a real sense of accomplishment, and rightfully so. I encourage you to celebrate your efforts by putting a final thought into how you are presenting the food. This starts with clearing off the dining room table and sitting at it to enjoy your meal. Making beautiful food only to go eat it on a plastic plate while watching television is depressing to me. Go enjoy some conversation or have a quiet moment if you are eating alone. Pour yourself a tall glass of water, use a napkin in your lap and enjoy your food.

In the culinary world we use the term, “plate your food” to describe the process of presentation. Think about mixing the colors, building height, adding toppers to make you and your meal guests feel like they are receiving something special. Because they are.

 

Here is a quick and easy recipe we can use as an example:

photo 1

Salmon with Spring Veggie Pasta

Planning: Create grocery list to include ingredients.

  • Frozen Wild Salmon
  • Whole Wheat Pasta Noodles
  • Parm Cheese Block
  • Spring Peas
  • Spring Onion
  • Spinach
  • Lemon
  • Butter, Olive Oil (evoo), Avocado Oil
  • Savory Seasoning Mix, Dried Dill, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper

Prepping:

  • Purchase ingredients.
  • Place salmon in the refrigerator to thaw.
  • Shell the peas.
  • Grate the Parm.

Preparing:

  • Season the salmon with savory seasoning blend, dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Drizzle with avocado oil (or evoo or butter). Broil under lo-broil for 10 minutes.
  • Boil noodles as directed.
  • Dice spring onion and sauté in large sauté pan with avocado oil, butter, or evoo. When softened, add in spinach, peas and a little dried dill and sauté some more.
  • Take sauté pan off heat and add cooked noodles. Toss with zest from the lemon, salt and pepper to taste and grated Parm cheese. Add a little pat of butter or splash of avocado oil or evoo to add flavor and make the pasta less sticky.

Presenting:

  • Place pasta into a serving dish and top with broiled salmon (chunk it up with a fork). Top with a little more Parm cheese, a squeeze of juice from the lemon and fresh dill if you are really fancy. Serve with other seasonal nutrient-rich side dishes and/or a hunk of yummy bread to help slurp it up!

 

Here’s what it looked like for lunch for leftovers:

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Is this helpful? What’s the hardest part of getting #realmeals onto your table each night?

Spring Fling Challenge Begins!

lists with quote

Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly starts off with a quote from a Theodore Roosevelt speech from 1910. When I first browsed the book and read these lines, I admit to tearing up, because it hit so close to my heart. It is exactly what I am doing, day after day and here it was being celebrated and given the powerful phrase “daring greatly.” This is what the Spring Fling (for all the details on the Spring Fling, read this post) is all about, so by participating you now can tell yourself and others, “I am DARING GREATLY.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

For those of us flinging ourselves into this challenge, we will become the doers of deeds. We are consciously choosing to value ourselves – body and mind – and take actions that support this value. When you think about it, it could truly change the world, and certainly our own personal world.

By completing this challenge together, we can use each other as inspiration, as accountability partners, as cheerleaders and as soothers when it is all just too overwhelming. Anyone can do this challenge, though we all need to tailor it to fit our needs and our daily life. Each of us are wary of different parts of the challenge and excited for other parts. Together we can provide support for the rough spots and provide a safe place for both big time bragging and ideas for turning around missteps. So, yes, I really do want to see a picture of that bathroom cabinet after you purge and organize it. I do wish to hear all about your first yoga class in five years. I do wish to drool over the picture of pasta sauce you made from scratch and the table set for the family to all eat together screen-free. Please share!

Here’s how we can connect on social media:

Facebook: Be sure to “like” Lean.Green.Kitchen at www.facebook.com/leangreenkitchen. With Facebook only showing about 10% of my “fans” my posts in your news feeds, you may need to come over to the Lean.Green.Kitchen FB page to see all the action. If you “like,” comment or share Lean.Green.Kitchen posts you will see more Lean.Green.Kitchen stuff in your news feed. That’s just how the algorithm works.

Twitter: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @eatrealgoodfood. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

Instagram: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @jennkd. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

Beyond social media sharing, I highly recommend you find a friend, or better yet a group of friends to rally together with this challenge. I love doing things like this with friends so we can bond over the experience. Think of a few people you would enjoy sharing this with and show your enthusiasm for the challenge. Send them these links, bug them on Facebook, send them a text, whatever works for you. Buddies just make everything more fun.

Print your Challenge Log:

All Lean.Green.Kitchen community members who are subscribed to my email list receive a printable Challenge Log that you can print out and complete each day. The subscription box is at the end of this post if you’d like a Challenge Log. (It says “SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG” in big letters down there, you can’t miss it!)

I believe the rewards for this challenge will be many for those who participate. But in addition, I am offering a small lovely prize for the first 100 people (in the United States) who send me their completed log at the end of the challenge. It’s always fun to receive a little reward for successfully committing to something for a month, so why not!

Comment away! Questions? First day successes? First day jitters? Where are you at?

Read all about the Spring Fling Challenge HERE.

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Lean.Green.Kitchen’s Spring Fling Challenge

  Spring Fling Challenge

Now this is going to be fun! Stay with me while I try to explain it. Beginning April 21st, the Lean.Green.Kitchen will be “hosting” our first reader challenge… The Spring Fling Challenge! We are going to use the boost of energy that comes each spring to “fling” ourselves into living our best life!

Here’s the challenge, should you choose to accept it!

Each day, for 30 days (April 21st – May 20th) you will attempt to complete the following three tasks:

1. Eat a meal of real food made by you (or your family). Better yet, enjoy the real meal sitting at a table. You can choose between breakfast, lunch or dinner and it can be as fancy or as simple as works for you. No processed food or take out food counts. You can determine your definition of processed food. Here are some Beginner Steps to Real Food if you need them. Some people use the 5 ingredient or less rule while others read labels to make sure the ingredients are acceptable to them. I’ll leave that to you to decide, but the meal must be a conscious effort to eat foods from nature, not from laboratories. #realmeal

2. Complete one mini clean-up/clean-out project that will simplify and enhance your daily life. If it is a biggish project, you are encouraged to “chunk” it up and complete it over several days. For me, I’ve been dabbling in the idea of minimalism and simplifying my surroundings, but often get to the end of the day and realize I didn’t make any efforts to move my household in line with these newly developing beliefs. I know of others who wish to do some deep spring cleaning but haven’t quite started yet. This challenge makes it happen. #cleanup

3. Enjoy a self-care moment each day. This can be as simple as going outside and standing still while mindfully breathing or it can be trying that new fitness class you keep putting off. In fact, I have tons of suggestions for this one, because I love making self-care moments and only accomplish them when I plan ahead of time. *Turning off your screens (and phone) early in the evening. *Placing cucumber slices over your eyes while resting for ten minutes on the couch. *Inviting a positive friend over for tea. *Gardening. *Taking a stroll with a loved one. *Going to bed early. *Making something crafty. *Listening to new music. I could really go on and on. But you get to make your own list of options for what sounds like self-care to you. #selfcare

Logging Your Efforts: All Lean.Green.Kitchen community members who are subscribed to my email list will receive a printable Challenge Log that you can print out and complete each day. The subscription box is at the end of this post if you’d like a Challenge Log. (It says “SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG” in big letters down there, you can’t miss it!)

I believe the rewards for this challenge will be many for those who participate. But in addition, I am offering a small lovely prize for the first 100 people (in the United States) who send me their completed log at the end of the challenge. It’s always fun to receive a little reward for successfully committing to something for a month, so why not!

To make this a fun, interactive challenge, I will be posting my meals and activities each day all over social media. I’ll post on Facebook, put up pics on Instagram, and tweet on Twitter. For those of you who don’t do social media, I’ll also post in the comments section of this blog post as well. This is all well and good, but the real fun happens if you all share and inspire too! We can hold each other accountable, steal ideas, lament our failures and salivate over foodie pics together.

Here’s how we can connect on social media:

Facebook: Be sure to “like” Lean.Green.Kitchen at www.facebook.com/leangreenkitchen. With Facebook only showing about 10% of my “fans” my posts in your news feeds, you may need to come over to the Lean.Green.Kitchen FB page to see all the action. If you “like,” comment or share Lean.Green.Kitchen posts you will see more Lean.Green.Kitchen stuff in your newsfeed. That’s just how the algorithm works. :)

Twitter: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @eatrealgoodfood. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

Instagram: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @jennkd. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

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Pre-Challenge: To get ready, between now and April 21st your Pre-Challenge is to brainstorm possible options for your #realmeal, #cleanup and #selfcare. I recommend printing out your Challenge Log and using the backs of the pages for creating lists of what you’d like to accomplished.

I wavered between calling this a Spring Fling and a Spring Revolution, but in the end I went with “fling” because it represents a short period of enjoyment. This challenge is meant to make you feel better in your body, in your daily life and in the world. Maybe we will become a REVOLUTION, but for now, FLING yourself into make this spring one to remember. Join us! Are you in?

Spring Fling Challenge

Recovery Smoothie, anyone?

recovery smoothie

I can’t even believe it… it has been one year since the Lean.Green.Kitchen blog launched. I remember the excitement, the gripping fear, the hopefulness all whirling around as I clicked “Publish” for the first time. It was awesome. I eased into the first post with a celebratory Pom Orange Spritzer recipe and smiled most of the day.

Now here we are a year later and I am much higher (though nowhere near the top) on the blogging learning curve. I have given this blog over 1,000 hours of my time – blood, sweat and tears included. My strengths and weaknesses are bared out for all to see on this site, for I have been authentic through the entire process.

So a celebratory spritzer sounds good right about now, but it’s not an authentic representation of where this blog is today. We are in the thick of it. Much work has been done and much more work is before us. It’s time for a recovery smoothie. Something to replenish nutrients lost through good old-fashioned work, and to power us up for all that remains ahead of us.

Recovery Smoothie

Recipe: Recovery Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain kefir or yogurt (dairy or non dairy both work)
  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 T aloe vera juice (optional)
  • 1 handful spinach (optional)
  • 25 drops liquid B complex (optional)
  • 1 t green powder (optional, I use Vitamineral Green)

Recovery Smoothie Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Blend together until smooth. Adjust the thickness to your personal taste by using more or less coconut water.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1 (very thirsty person) or 2 (somewhat thirsty people)

I drink this smoothie 5 or 6 days a week, especially after hot yoga classes, stressful situations, and working in the yard. It also makes a wonderful breakfast that powers me through without hunger until lunch and is a beautiful food for anyone fighting off or recovering from illness. With probiotics, great fats, electrolytes and super foods, this smoothie is a healthy gift you can give yourself today. And that’s reason to truly celebrate!

Happy Blogoversary to the Lean.Green.Kitchen community. Let’s keep this up, shall we?

Recovery Smoothie

 

Anyone remember this bench from the first blog post?

pom spritzer  Here it is! The Pom Spritzer recipe is just a click away.

Mexican Caesar Salad

Mexican Caesar Salad

It is April and about time to roll back the soups and dial in the salads! Here is our first salad recipe of 2014 and it is a beautiful colorful one that will serve you well all spring and summer. This Mexican Caesar Salad is a twist on the original Caesar Salad, with bright colors and flavors – such as diced red, yellow and orange bell peppers, crumbled blue corn chips, and a green cilantro dressing. To pile on the nutrients, the dressing uses pro-biotic-packed kefir and pumpkin seeds for the creamy base. Plus romaine lettuce is a powerhouse all on its own!

Enjoy!

Mexican Caesar Salad

Recipe: Mexican Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 head of romaine, chopped in bite sized pieces
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers (a variety of red, orange or yellow), small dice
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup blue corn chips, crumbled
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • fresh ground pepper (for topping)
  • minced cilantro (for topping)
  • a few blue corn chips crumbled (for topping)

For Cilantro-Kefir dressing (makes a little more than you will need):

  • 1/2 small can of diced mild chiles
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (raw or roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cloves garlic (roasted for a smoother flavor)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 3 T Cotija cheese
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro (I used leaves and stems)
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened kefir (can sub with mayo if you must)
  • water to thin if needed

Instructions

  1. Toss all salad ingredients together.
  2. For the dressing, blend all ingredients except the cilantro and kefir until smooth. Then add cilantro and kefir and blend again until smooth. Taste and add salt for more sparkle and water for thinning if necessary.
  3. Toss salad with dressing. Crank a little fresh ground black pepper over the salad and sprinkle a little minced cilantro and blue corn chip crumbles over the top for presentation points.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

 

Okay, I can’t help it. I’ve got to share this beautiful colorful fruit salad too. It’s so easy and makes a great addition to any fiesta!

Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint

 Recipe: Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint

Ingredients

  • 2 mangoes, cubed
  • 1 basket strawberries, sliced
  • 2 oranges, cubed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 5 mint leaves, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Toss the cut fruit with the lime juice and mint and serve. Tastes even better if you let it hang out together in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to serving.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Looking for more salad ideas? Here are a few:

Confetti Pasta Salad with text  Confetti Pasta Salad

Pearl Couscous  Spring Pearl Couscous

Beet Orange Salad  Beet Orange Stack-Ups

Simplest Salad  The Simplest Salad

Post Vacation Detox!

Goofy

Last week I celebrated my birthday at one of my favorite places, Disneyland. No I didn’t turn 12, I am a grown-up. It was awesome, fast-paced and my family had some much-needed high-quality bonding time. I loved everything… except not having access to my home kitchen for real food and maybe my quiet time on the couch in the evenings. So as amazing as it was, I started planning my post vacation detox about two days into the trip.

On said trip, I brought a 40-pound suitcase full of real snacks to keep us on our A-game (or at least B-game), to save some money, and to enjoy our long days. We aimed to buy food with veggies and protein, usually salads, soups and sandwiches. But who knows what was in those salad dressings and I can only assume the meat we ate was – well – gross. On top of the toxins I know we consumed, also impacting our health and well-being were the things we did not eat while vacationing. I missed my kefir and Kombucha every day, as I ate so much dead “food.” I missed greens. I missed my blueberry smoothies with coconut oil.

It’s all good. We were only gone four days, and I came back ready to hop back on the real food train. Here are a few things I did to help my detoxing body out:

POST VACATION DETOX:

1. I drank water with fresh squeezed lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to start out each morning. Hello swamped liver, love you!!

2. I got my over-walked bod back to Bikram yoga as quickly as my over-stimulated feet could get there. I found ways each day to keep moving and get the blood flowing. Hello whirling brain and achy body, love you!

3. I cooked and enjoyed all my meals at home, going big on veggies and fruit and low on sugar and grains. Got my kefir and Kombucha fermenting on the counter as quickly as possible and started gulping down my smoothies. Hello over-worked gut, love you!

4. I went to bed and got some high quality sleep. I diffused lots of essential oils (my big birthday gift to myself!) and made some new face products to hopefully help out my upset complexion. Hello congested skin and frenzied spirit, love you!

Guess what, it worked! I feel great, ready to catch up with everything and enjoy the final year of my thirties. I no longer wish for more energy, I just need more time in each day.

Maybe this spring we could all use a little detox! Feel free to use these strategies for some personal Spring Cleaning! What are you going to do for you body this spring? Game on!!

happy campers

Kids Clean Up! The Shamrock Shake

Healthy Shamrock Shake Recipe

It is March and in the past that meant two things: 1. Time to celebrate my birthday and 2. Time to get my annual Shamrock Shake from Mickey Dees. Now-a-days it means: 1. Time to celebrate my son’s birthday and my birthday and 2. Time to get some ice cream to make my own healthy Shamrock Shake recipe.

What is a Shamrock Shake?

A Shamrock Shake is a minty green milkshake made famous by McDonalds and sold only during the month of St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th). It is not a healthy treat. It’s pretty disgusting. It contains 54 ingredients, most of them are chemicals from a lab and refined sugar or sugar-like products. It contains 820 calories and most horrendous to me, 115g of sugar. That is over 27 teaspoons of sugar which equals about a 1/2 a cup of sugar!!

This infographic by the Huffington Post lists out all the ingredients in an easy to view format. I highly encourage you to check it out real quick: What’s Really In That Shamrock Shake?

How can we clean this up? There are a few options here, depending on what level of splurging you are interested in and your dietary preferences. I’ve come up with three healthy Shamrock Shake recipes to meet your needs.

And the secret ingredient for that fun green color is… nutrient-rich fresh spinach. It adds color and you can’t even taste it! Boom, this Shamrock Shake just got a rocket boost to planet good-for-you.

Shake One. ShamROCK Your Socks Off Shake: This one is for those interested in a cleaner but still classic Shamrock Milkshake. It contains dairy and the ice cream contains sugar. It removes the laboratory chemicals and over half the sugar and adds our secret ingredient for that important green color! I have found Straus Organic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to be the cleanest “real” ice cream in stores around my house. Look at the labels and find one with ingredients you believe should be in ice cream! Or you could make your own with this beautiful recipe from Ted Allen: Vanilla Ice Cream with Honey.

Healthy Shamrock Shake Recipe

Recipe: ShamROCK Your Socks Off Shake

Ingredients

  • 4 medium scoops of high quality organic vanilla ice cream (about two cups)
  • 1 cup of whole organic milk (you could also use cream or half and half if you’d like it really creamy)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 1 large handful of fresh spinach

Instructions

  1. Blend it all up in a blender.
  2. Serve in two glasses. Can be topped with fresh whipped cream and a few mini chocolate chips if you are really going for it!

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Shake Two. SHAMrock Non-Dairy Shake: This one’s for my dairy-free crew and uses vanilla coconut milk ice cream and almond milk as “sham” dairy. You can make your own “ice cream” with this delicious recipe from Coconut Mama: Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s easy if you have an ice cream maker. Or you can buy coconut milk vanilla ice cream, but note that they usually have some added ingredients that you wouldn’t use at home (like tapioca syrup, fructan, acacia gum, sunflower lecithin, locust bean gum and guar gum). I used Julie’s Organic Non-Dairy Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert (Simply Vanilla flavored) for this recipe.

Healthy Shamrock Shake Recipe

Recipe: SHAMrock Non-Dairy Shake

Ingredients

  • 4 medium scoops (or about 2 cups) of vanilla flavored coconut milk non dairy ice cream
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 large handful fresh spinach

Instructions

  1. Blend it all up in a blender.
  2. Serve in two glasses. May be topped with a little dark chocolate shavings or a mint leaf.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Shake Three. Get Lucky Shammy Smoothie: This one’s for those of us looking for big flavor and no refined sugar. Lots of nutrients and still big green fun. Shoot, you could have this one for breakfast. In fact, I just did. :)

Healthy Shamrock Shake Recipe

Recipe: Get Lucky Shammy Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 8oz frozen ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (almond milk would also work)
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large handful of fresh spinach

Instructions

  1. Blend it all up in a high quality blender.
  2. Serve in two glasses. Top with a mint leaf.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Enjoy this beautiful month everyone! Hope you find pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and find time for a cleaned up Shamrock Shake or two.

Six Beginner Steps to Eat Real Food

This post is dedicated to the person or two a week that ask me where should they start with all this real food business. They want to get off the Standard American Diet, but don’t know where to begin. One baby step at a time, you can make major changes pretty quickly. Here are six steps to get you started.

Let’s just clear something up. My favorite foods include donuts, ice cream and Hawaiian Shaved Ice. I am not a zen guru with a kale-focused-lovingkindness-meditation or a type A hyper-hippie with so much energy that I wake up at 6:00am on Sundays to prep my sprouted grains. I’m quirky, overwhelmed, curious and most importantly, getting real comfortable trying new things. Sometimes failing. Sometimes winning. :) Real food is for real people.

One mini step at a time, I have transformed what my family eats. I went to culinary school, I aced a nutrition class, I plowed through health/fitness and food books, magazines, blogs, and even research papers that I barely understood. All just brought up more questions.

It was only through questioning the classes, the magazine articles, the restaurant ingredients that I came up with new answers. Answers that felt right for me. Every day I get closer to what feels right, which comes with the realization that nutrition is not a one size fits all, and each of us must do the work to figure out what’s best.

I’m talking about eating to thrive, eating to live longer, stronger and more productive lives. I’m sure we all will be confronted by illness & injuries, disorders & disease, that is just part of being a human. But we can meet those challenges with a strong base of health and fitness, with sound minds ready to fight, with an appreciation for what full health feels like so we can do what it takes to regain it.

For me, my seeking keeps coming back to eating – simply – real unprocessed food. And it wouldn’t be so hard, except that our American food system has made these real foods the underdogs in the grocery stores and most restaurants, out-marketed by jazzy packaging, amazing shelf life, tantalizing flavor profiles that purposely play to our deepest desires, and lots of time cheats. These new-fangled laboratory “foods” look cheaper, easier, faster and family-approved. But it’s an Oz-like curtain, and if you pull it back you realize that the corporations producing that “food” make every decision based on profit, and not one decision based on you at your best, thriving. It’s a trick, and the only way to change it is to vote at every meal with your decisions and dollars.

The Lean.Green.Kitchen community is a safe place for people just beginning to look consciously at their food choices AND for people deeply entrenched in their conscious food philosophies, as well as for all those seekers somewhere in the middle still eating the occasional donut and shaved iced. This is my mini list for those interested in beginning to eat real food. See if any of it could be some of your first steps. It could be summarized as Stop Buying Processed Food And Make Your Own. But let’s break that down a little.

Six Beginner Steps you could take today to Eat Real Food:

Step One

1. Ditch the refined table salt and choose a salt that has beautiful trace minerals with it. This is as much about taste as nutrition, as unrefined salt just tastes better in food. It’s also a statement that you are off the refined Morton’s and making high quality changes in your eating. My favorite is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. Celtic Grey Salt is also unrefined and minimally processed. Unrefined salt has trace minerals in there with the salt. That is nutrient-rich real food. Check out the processed food in your kitchen. Review just how much refined salt is in those products. It’s a lot and it’s junk.

2. Fill up the veggie bins with fresh, seasonal produce. Prep it all in a foodie flourish so you will be compelled to use it all week. Nutrients are hanging out in all that produce. When you can, go organic and relieve your body of the energy necessary to detoxify the pesticides on conventional produce. Dipping your toe in the organic pool? Start with going organic for the Dirty Dozen and sweat less about the Clean 15. And if you can’t go organic, then don’t. Eat lots of veggies anyway. See if you can find a local source for seasonal produce. Farmers Markets, Natural Food Stores, Farm Box Subscriptions (Community Supported Agriculture or CSA) – figure out where they are and visit them.

3. Switch to fats that will fuel your body. Fat is not an enemy. Healthy fats are essential to living long and prospering. Fat is critical for proper body functions and especially important for your brain. I, for one, would like my brain (and my kids’ brains) fully functioning. I already can barely remember which kid I named what and there are only two of them. Let’s keep these brain cells happy. Say no to industrialized vegetable oils (corn, canola, soy, etc) and margarine (which are in pretty much every processed food because they are cheap, cheap, cheap) – these fats are not in the business of building thriving bodies. Say yes to real foods like avocados, coconut oil, nuts and olive oil and real fat from animals not pumped with nasty chemicals (think organic butter, full fat dairy, ghee, lard, tallow) – all are thriving body work-horses.

4. Take a look at sugar. That processed food lurking in your kitchen is filled with hidden sugars, to make sure you buy that box of “food” again. The corporations want your money, and are not interested in supporting your awesomeness with body building nutrients. This step is to make the transition away from processed sugars into the world of real food - honey and maple syrup being my favorite sweet places to land. Dates and ripe fruit work nicely too for sweetness. A little cane sugar is pretty easily processed by a healthy body. Problem is, when your diet consists of processed foods, it is never just a little – it’s a constant.

5. Meat, dairy and eggs are real food. But what happens when we create horrendous conditions for the animals, pump them full of toxic chemicals and inhumanely kill them? In my opinion, they no longer meet my personal requirements as real food (as well as my moral standards for treatment of animals). So the step here is to begin researching where your meat, dairy and eggs come from and start looking for better sources. For my household this meant reducing the amount of meat we ate, so we could afford high quality sourced meat. It also means that I make our yogurt and kefir, in order to afford the quality and quantity we consume.

6. Get a crock-pot and a cookbook. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. This process starts with getting the right food in your home. But it only works if you actually eat it. Like me, you might not be a master chef right off the bat if you’ve been relying on boxed, bagged and pre-cooked meals for your adult life. It’s a process that involves… trying. That’s all. Starting with a cookbook that fits your tastes and a crock pot that can have food ready for you when you are hungry is a really wonderful place to start.

When asked what I eat, I like to share the motto of this blog, I “eat (real) good food.” When you stop buying processed food and start making your own, I promise you will feed yourself better than the food corporations. And the effort will be well worth it.

When you look at what you are thinking about eating, ask yourself, “does this build up my health or make my body work harder to process out toxins?” If “we are what we eat,” then it makes a lot of sense to choose nutrient-rich, whole foods.

There is always a next step on the real food journey. And I just keep taking the next one that catches my attention. What steps would you recommend for those just starting on THEIR real food journey? What is your next step on YOUR food journey?

Need support and recipe ideas? Join our Facebook community or check out our Pinterest boards. Together this process is much more fun!

 

Here are some bonus tips and resources: