When I first started on my clean eating journey, I scrutinized medical journals and books looking for disease prevention ideas. While many of my doctors don’t believe in a superfood to cure cancer, per se, it was hard to ignore all the literature on the health benefits of using turmeric with black pepper. Used medicinally for thousands of years, turmeric has been widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The root of it, curcumin, has been a potent healing agent in ancient Chinese and Indian practices. Even today, integrated practitioners tout the possibilities of lessening the side effects of arthritis, joint pain, stomach pain and several chronic diseases with turmeric. So, I thought I’d try it.
I love chocolate and prefer it before any vanilla or fruity dessert. Now that I eat mostly plant-based foods, I’ve learned to find substitutions for my favorite sweets. Rather than using processed chocolate to bake or include in chilis, smoothies and sugary desserts, I use cacao. While cocoa powder has a richer, sweeter flavor, it’s more processed. Cacao is a pure, raw powder that is high in antioxidants and therefore provides more health benefits. Ever since my cousin, Lisa, a dietician and incredible vegetarian cook, blended a creamy cacao mousse for me, I’ve been hooked. I eat it for snacks and sometimes breakfast, too.
I used to get sick a lot. I ran myself ragged sleeping little and hurrying from place to place. I seldom took preventative measures. Instead, as soon as a cold snuck up on me, I popped zinc pills, downed gallons of orange juice and took nighttime cough syrup before bed. Still, every season, the bug hit me a number of times. Since I changed my lifestyle, though, I get sick less. I sleep more, eat clean, walk a lot, use less toxic products and overall keep a hearty, positive spirit. Even though I’ve changed my ways, I’m not about to say that I’m not prone to sickness especially now that I’m on this new chemo pill. So, while I realize that there is no one superfood or miracle activity to boost my immunity, I’m always intrigued with wholesome or natural modalities. Initially when the media made such a fuss over bone broth soup, I discounted it because I’m vegan and don’t eat meat. After speaking with a naturopathic oncologist recently, who suggested I consume it regularly, I started to explore it further.
I’ve said it many times, I’ve always loved carbs. Now that I eat clean, I choose wisely. Gone are the days when I’d eat a life-size bucket of white pasta with creamy sauces. Rather than eliminate all carbs, I focus on the complex ones. My latest favorite is the ancient whole grain, farro. It’s easy to add a ton of veggies and use cold-pressed oils for hearty salads. I’ve also found that tossed with sweet fruit, a farro bowl is a satisfying breakfast.
As a super healthy eater, I love salads. I’m a huge fan of big leafy greens and will even make side dishes of quinoa salads. Since my son and husband enjoy more hearty meals, I’ve been playing around with different grains. I found that introducing one with a pasta-like consistency such as Israeli couscous opened my family’s mind to try others like quinoa, barley and farro.
This dish was a hit. Filled with beans, I served this to my husband for dinner and he felt satisfied. I’ve also found if I double the ingredients, it can be a side dish at night and leftover lunch the following day.
I used to love a big plate full of pasta. Sure, the starch-filled noodles were tasty. But what I came to realize was that the juicy sauces were what made the meal. So, once I learned how-to use a spiralizer, I went to town creating my own veggie pasta dishes.
Now that I’m vegan and eat largely plant-based foods, a veggie pasta meal nightly using different beans, green leafy vegetables and sauces provides a variety of nutrients and dinners. (I use two-zucchinis for each individual dinner.) I feel incredibly full and satisfied without the bloat of heavy carbs. For my family, if I buy an additional six zucchinis, two potatoes and two sweet potatoes, I have side dishes for the entire week. Here’s my favorite recipe for an easy veggie meal or side dish. Enjoy!