Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Good News and A Zesty Treat


It is time to celebrate! I have been accepted as a 2014-2015 Bastyr dietetic intern! My dream to become a nutrition professional keeps unfolding. Across the nation on Sunday April 6th, dietetic students, just like myself, found out whether or not they were accepted into a dietetic internship. This process is long and grueling, yet exciting as each student discovers which internship they were matched to. For some this long awaited day is a day of celebration, yet sadly for others it may be a day of stress and sorrow.

However, I want to congratulate all dietetic students, those that received internships, those that are headed into second rounds, and those that may just enter the workforce as certified nutritionists! The determination, motivation, and pure passion that has brought each and every one of us to this point is note worthy! With a couple months to go, we will graduate, and we will have succeeded in completing a master’s in nutrition!


So today, no matter what the outcome of April 6th, I want to take the time to celebrate and congratulate all my fellow Bastyr classmates, as well as the rest of the dietetic students around America! Its time to strut your stuff, keep your head high, and make the magic happen!

Here is a little something, spring inspired, bright to lift the soul and mood, and of course so tasty, that this airy treat feels like decadence. Take the time to celebrate, you deserve it! 

Lemon Curd (Adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
Makes ½ cup (8 + servings)
Ingredients:
½ cup lemon juice (~3 lemons)
1 whole egg
1 yolk (save the white)
3 T natural cane sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of sea salt
2 T unsalted butter, flaked

Directions:
  1. In a small saucepan simmer the fresh lemon juice over medium heat until reduced down by half. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Create a double boiler by filling a medium saucepan halfway with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. In a ceramic/metal bowl that is large enough to rest over the medium saucepan but still touches the water, mix together the whole egg, the egg yolk, sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of sea salt. Add the cooled lemon juice, and whisk together.
  3. Place the bowl on top of the medium saucepan, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens.
  4. Quickly strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve into a clean medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to push the curd through the sieve.
  5. Immediately add the butter flakes to the curd and whisk for about a minute to create a shiny smooth lemon curd.
  6. Pour into a small glass jar and refrigerate.
Lemon + Olive Oil Cake (Adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
Makes 1 mini loaf plus 3 cupcakes (~9 servings)

Ingredients:
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup almond flour (with skin flecks)
2 T cornstarch
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup natural cane sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg + remaining egg white
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
Juice of ½ lemon (~2 T)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. 
  2. In a large bowl mix together the brown rice flour, almond flour, cornstarch, sea salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl add the sugar and lemon zest. Mix together with your hands to allow the essential oils to release into the sugar.
  4. Add the egg, plus the remaining egg white and whisk together with the sugar and lemon zest.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, applesauce, lemon juice, and olive oil and whisk to combine.
  6. Oil one mini loaf pan. Gather a muffin pan and line with three muffin liners.
  7. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. And stir well until combined.
  8. First fill the 3 muffin liners and pour the remaining mixture into the mini loaf pan.
  9. Place onto the center rack in the oven. Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Bake the mini loaf for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Place onto a cooling rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.


Note: I like to serve a slice of the cake on top of a dollop of whole milk plain yogurt (great replacement for whipped cream). Then I top the cake with a little lemon curd and garnish with freshly cut mint and strawberries!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break and A Spring Salad


Dane and I just arrived back home from a week full of adventure, friends, indulgence, and relaxation. A wonderful week-long road trip from Seattle to Half Moon Bay, California has come and gone. With stops at the Redwood National Forest, the Orr Hotsprings, and many days spent in California, the road trip was a success. During the day Dane got to surf, I got to run along the beautiful coast, and together we got to ride bikes, hike, and soak in hotsprings. At night we got to share delicious meals with our friends, toasting to life and good times, as we played board games and stayed up late catching up on good news. 

Ahh, how good it feels to be on vacation!

Now back home, Spring has sprung in my garden. The pear trees are blooming and the chickens are laying…a lot. The sun feels warm on my face, yet the cool spring breeze brings goose bumps to my arms. The spring in Washington is just so beautiful! If only every spring day were as sunny and dry as it is today.


With so many fresh eggs on hand, and a bundle of bright green asparagus from the farmer’s market, I decided to make an asparagus salad for lunch. After a week long of indulgence, I thought it would be great for Dane and I to focus on vegetables that support liver health and overall gentle detox.

For those of you that don’t know, asparagus is an anti-inflammatory superstar.  Asparagus saponins, which are phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties, are found in asparagus (1). Also, powerful anti-oxidants selenium, vitamins C and E, as well as glutathione can be found in substantial amounts (1). Glutathione is an anti-oxidant superstar, or “mother of all antioxidants” as called by Mark Hyman, MD, with the ability to extinguish dangerous free radicals in our body (2). Free radicals can impact the immune system, oxidize (or harm) cell membranes, and cause cancer.  Luckily, we can produce glutathione ourselves with amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. However, if our bodies are compromised due to a poor diet, pollution, stress, or disease, we quickly deplete the glutathione levels within our body.  Eating a diet that supports glutathione levels can help promote health and longevity in the long run.


 Asparagus is also a rich source of inulin, an indigestible carbohydrate, which helps support healthy gut bacteria (1). This prebiotic, works its way undigested through the small intestine until it reaches the large intestine or colon, where friendly bacteria hungrily await. Therefore, inulin helps support the health of our own unique microbiome, which in return help support our gut health. Not only do we have to nourish ourselves, but also our vast amount of good bacteria!

Finally asparagus, like many other plants and animals, is naturally high in purines which are broken down into uric acid. Therefore, it is important to note that individuals with gout or kidney stones are advised to avoid consuming high purine foods. Otherwise, healthy individuals can easily clear uric acid, and do not need to be concerned with high asparagus consumption.

Spring Asparagus Salad
Makes 2-4 servings (either an entree salad, or a side)

For the Olive Oil Vinaigrette:
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced

For the Salad:
1 bunch asparagus
2 pasture-raised fresh eggs
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 lettuce leaves (garnish)

Directions:

For the Vinaigrette: Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, and sea salt until the salt is dissolved. Add the thinly sliced red onion and mix well. Allow the onions to marinate in the dressing for about 15 minutes.

For the Salad: Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan about 2/3 with fresh water and bring to a boil. Gently pierce the “butt” ends of the egg with a push pin or small needle. You want to make sure not to push in too far, just enough to pierce a hole into the shell. Gently add the eggs to the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the eggs to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are up quickly rinse the eggs under cold water and set aside on a dry towel to cool further.

As you are boiling the eggs, place a steamer basket into a large pot and fill with water just so the water is under the basket. Gently bend each asparagus spear at the bottom end until it naturally breaks. Discard the ends into the compost or save for a future asparagus soup. Place the asparagus into the steamer basket, cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender. Be careful not to over cook the asparagus, otherwise it will turn green-brown. Once the asparagus has reached optimal color and tenderness quickly rinse the asparagus in cold running water for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking.

Salad Assembly: Place the lettuce leaves in a nice dish and top with steamed asparagus. Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro. Evenly pour the vinaigrette with the marinated onions over the asparagus and top with the sliced hard-boiled eggs. Sprinkle the eggs with chopped cilantro, fresh ground pepper, and a bit of sea salt. Serve immediately.

Note: I like to serve this salad with lightly toasted bread or corn tortillas topped with avocado.
                                                                                                                                          


Reference:
  1. Asparagus. Worlds Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=12. Accessed April 2, 2014.
  2. Hyman, Mark. Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/glutathione-the-mother-of_b_530494.html. Accessed April 2, 2014.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy 2nd Blogiversary and a Stress Relief Elixir


Two years have gone by since I first started Poppies and Papayas! Wow, time sure does fly by fast when you are busy with graduate school! Now here I am, almost finished with my schooling, with just one more quarter remaining. I can’t say its been easy, but its sure been a rollercoaster ride full of wonderful friends, stressful weeks and months, and a dedicated fiancĂ© that helps me find my peace. And then this blog, my creative space. Where I get to share with you my readers the cooking creations and the nutrition information that keeps my passion alive. Thank you, thank you so much!


As a gift to you, I share this recipe for a Stress Relief Elixir, perfect for the spring! With rose petals and hibiscus, the floral notes relax your senses, smelling of the June months still to come. Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea) and Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) are both herbs that help reduce anxiety and help induce a calming of the mind (1, 2). Perfect for those stressful days filled with work presentations, or those nights where your mind just cannot quit. This elixir well help you find peace and calm amongst the overstimulation and stress inducing days we all have.  To help reduce anxiety or stress, take 1-2 tablespoons as needed. For the extra special days, topped with sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon, this elixir can turn into a toast for health!

When purchasing these herbs make sure to get them from a reputable herbalist, as you want to insure highest quality. There are many locations in Seattle or even in the Bellingham area. Also, if you are on medications for blood sugar, blood pressure, using SSRIs, or you are pregnant, consult with your primary practitioner first before using these herbs (1, 2).



Cheers! I hope you find some peace and calm in your busy day. Perhaps you may go for a long walk, a trail run, take a bath, or even try to make yourself an elixir. Either way, may your day be happy and stress-free!

Stress Relief Elixir
Makes about 16-32 servings (depending on dose)
Ingredients
2 cups filtered cold water
3 tablespoons Rose petals
½ tablespoon Hibiscus
1 tablespoon Rhodiola rosea
1 tablespoon Lemon balm
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup honey

Directions:
  1. Put the 2 cups of filtered water into a medium saucepan and add all of the dried herbs. Using a wooden chopstick or tongue compressor, measure the height of the water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the mixture to steadily simmer for 20 minutes until the mixture has reduced in half. Measure this with your marked wooden chopstick. 
  2. Once the mixture has reduced to half, remove from heat and add the brandy. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Strain the mixture into a sterilized glass mason jar and add the honey. Shake well.  
  4. Label and date your elixir. Store in a dry, cool place, or even in the refrigerator.
Note: This elixir tastes great straight, but also makes a wonderful floral beverage when topped with refrigerated sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon.

                                                                                                                                                 

References:
1. Natural Standard. Rhodiola. http://www.naturalstandard.com.buproxy.bastyr.edu:2048/databases/herbssupplements/rhodiola.asp?. Accessed March 17, 2014.
2. Natural Standard. Lemon Balm. http://www.naturalstandard.com.buproxy.bastyr.edu:2048/databases/herbssupplements/lemonbalm.asp?. Accessed March 17, 2014.


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