Summer Fruit and Vegetables

cherriesSummer is a wonderful season with long days and lots of sunshine. We like to spend more time outside – walking along the beach or park, playing summer sports or watching our kids play, swimming or watching others swim, and eating outdoors either at our backyards, balconies or forest preserves picnic areas.
Our body needs food to cool off when it is hot outside. No wonder we like to have fresh salads, cold summer soups. Out of sudden long cooked dishes lose their attraction. We enjoy raw fruit and berries. They are delicious and ripe with the abundance of sun.
The color of vegetables also shifted to more bright warm colors like yellow, red and all in between.
It is time for fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, cherries, sour cherries.
It is time for summer fruits – watermelon, peaches, apricots, and plums.

We enjoy newly harvested vegetables – radishes, carrots, daikon, and beets.
Red color is dominant 🙂 though green vegetables are always good for you. Green vegetables help keep our diet balanced and not to overload on glucose which could be tough on our liver.

Because we naturally get more sugar from summer vegetables, berries and fruits, our body is craving pungent even bitter taste to balance it out.
Radish, daikon, arugula, dandelion, and ginger are great veggies to keep us healthy while we indulge ourselves with sugary freshly grown summer produce.

Summer food is sweet. Most of the recipes are raw or quickly cooked.

Corn on the cob takes 5-7 minutes to cook. Corn
Cucumber zucchini Polenta soup takes 10 minute to cook. cucumber soup
Red Cabbage, Daikon pressed salad takes 10 minutes to prepare (plus 1 hour under press) pressed salad

Health Tip** The higher the temperature that food is cooked, the longer it stays in your gut and the more difficult it becomes for your digestive mechanisms to digest it.

Love Your Liver

Why should I love my liver?

Liver is the most important organ after the heart.  It performs hundreds of essential functions :Cranberry Apple Dessert

  • Liver stores and regulates blood. It is responsible for circulation and nourishing every cell in our body.  Every part of the body depends on blood from the liver for nourishment and sustenance.
  • Liver helps the body to digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxic substances.
  • The amount of sugar in our blood is carefully controlled by the liver.
  • Liver is connected to proper eye function. Diseases involving the eye are closely related to a liver imbalance.
  • Liver also regulates emotional and mental state. A healthy liver ensures patience, endurance and the ability to maintain a strong spiritual center.

How does my liver communicate to me that it is not nourished? 

When the liver is overworked or under pressure, it generates too much heat within itself. One might feel hot and sweat excessively. When there is heat in the liver, the eyes are likely to be bloodshot, or feel a painful or burning sensation. When the liver blood is deficient, you might experience blurry vision, color blindness or dry eyes.

If liver is stagnant, we feel down or even depressed; it is hard to get started in the morning. Liver is responsible for anger. People with tired liver are quick to anger and have so called “short fuse”.

A weak liver expresses itself in deep insecurity, irritability, frustration, anger, excitability, and stubbornness.
Sometimes we can read right on our face if our liver is too tight – it manifests by deep vertical lines from nose going up between the brows.

How can you love your liver?

Get good night sleep

Liver likes to have a good night sleep on empty stomach. Liver rests and rejuvenate between 1:00 am and 3:00 am. In order to nourish your liver, it is best to go to bed no later than 11:00 pm. It gives you 2 hours to get to the stage of deep sleeping.

Do not eat late at night

Eat your last meat by 7:00 pm. Late night dinners, especially with hard to digest foods like meat and chicken, will send our liver to work most of the night. You might find yourself tired when you wake up in the morning and not willing to get out of the bed. Your mood in the morning also could be not the brightest.
Torah tells us that it has to pass 6 hour after eating meat before one can eat dairy. 6 hours is time it takes to digest meat.

Eat healthy and do not overeat

Eat plenty of organic vegetables and beans. Add complex carbs to your daily menu ( whole grains ).  Minimize consumption of processed food, fruits, honey and sugar which contain 50% of fructose. Just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat. So eating fructose is really like eating fat—it just gets stored in your fat cells. Healthy liver can process no more than 25 grams of sugar a day.

Liver likes sour taste – lemons, Granny Smith apples, cranberry, sour cherries. If you crave sour taste, that might be your liver is talking to you.

GrannySmithcranberries lemons

In return, your nourished liver gives you bright happy energized mornings; handles your stressful situations; maintains fit body, radiant young-looking skin, healthy eyes, nails, and well-circulated, oxygen-rich blood.

Your liver would be happy if you chose this dessert to complete your early dinner 🙂

Cranberry Apple Dessert

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We all have heard some form of this saying. Another popular wisdom says: “Eat your breakfast, share your lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to an enemy”. These are old sayings but what is the basis for paying a special attention to a breakfast?

We all have busy schedules – whether you need to get to work in the morning, get your kids to schools, take care of your elderly, pray Shacharit or all of the above…

where to find time for breakfast?! and why bother?!

Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but that might be not such a good idea. It can backfire. Skipping meals, especially breakfast can actually make weight control more difficult. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal, or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger.

While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, kids need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains need regular refueling from real food. When kids skip breakfast, they don’t get what they need to be at their best.

Short on time? Eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will probably save you time in the long run. By recharging the brain and body, you’ll be more efficient in just about everything you do.

Breakfast is setting our bodies for the day. If we do not have a proper breakfast, it is difficult to manage the rest of the day. Some of us suddenly feel low on sugar and start eating cookies or chocolate, and continue snacking throughout the day. Some of us have uncontrollable cravings for bread or sweets or salt or spicy or meat. Some of us sleepy, some are irritated, some are anxious or depressed.

Millet Veggies

Your day could be much different only if you had a proper breakfast.

  • Breakfast should be about one hour after you wake up.
  • Breakfast should be enjoyed sitting down and chewed well.
  • Breakfast should be balanced and rather plain – not too sweet, not too spicy, not too salty.

If the breakfast is too sweet, your taste buds will call for something salty and vs versa later in the day.

Oatmeal Broccoli

Healthy nourishing breakfast consists of complex carbohydrates (whole grains), freshly cooked vegetables or seasonal fruit and a small portion of protein. Light warm vegetable soup could be a nice start of the breakfast to promote healthy digestion. It brings relaxation if your condition is too tight. A warm cup of organic green tea or kukicha tea is a perfect satisfying conclusion to the breakfast.

Carbohydrates are macronutrients needed for optimal brain function and energy through the course of the day. Whole grain porridge contains a high amount of complex carbs, which gets digested at a slow pace, unlike simple carbs. This gives you lasting energy and balances blood sugar.

Those who start the day with vegetables may experience higher energy, improved mental clarity, and reduction in crazy food cravings, loss of pesky pounds and more. Starting the day with green vegetables will not only keep you satisfied for many hours, it will also gently cleanse your body and set a fresh, healthy tone for your day… and your life as whole!

Miso Soup is my Hero

Yesterday I had a stressful day at work. It is hard for me especially because I do not have a good poker face; actually it is quite opposite 🙂 I exercised an attempt staying composed, not overreacting, smiling, praising worthless ideas … It was one of those days…

But now it is time to nourish myself.

Miso soup
Miso soup is my hero; it always comes to rescue me and never fails. Actually any warm mild-tasting soup is relaxing. It is good to start a meal with soup. It calms you down after a busy day and prepares digestive system to digest solid food that is following the soup.

Miso soup is easy to make, so I cook a small portion. Freshly made miso soup has the most healing magic. It requires a few ingredients – dried wakame that is always on my macrobiotic shelf, miso paste and two to four vegetables. Almost any vegetable will do the job. Every combination results in another taste bouquet though delicious. Dried shiitake mushrooms can be added to enrich the soup with tremendous healing power. Shiitake mushrooms deserve a separate post.

Today I found in my fridge red cabbage, daikon, and broccoli – perfect nutritious combination of crunchy red cabbage, white daikon and refreshing green broccoli. It takes 10 minutes to make this simple miso soup. Give it a try!Miso Soup

Acquired Taste

Blanched Kale Salad

Blanched Red Kale Salad with Seeds and Pecans

I grew up on a very different diet than I am eating now. From the childhood I loved bread, pastries, cheese, eggs, chicken, tomatoes and fruits. ( At that time I believed tomatoes are vegetables 🙂 ). Coffee was my main drink – I had a cup of strong coffee for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a late night out.

I enjoyed my food while struggling to normalize my digestive system and lose extra pounds. Though I was traumatized by being overweight, I had no idea it is possible for me to lose weight and maintain it without going on a strict hunger diet. I had gone a long way through trying all kinds of rather damaging diets until I learned about macrobiotic balanced approach to lifestyle.

I read about it and went to many classes. I met people who got cured from terminal cancer by following macrobiotic diet. I believed in the system but I was very skeptical that I would be able to adjust to eating porridge, beans and cooked vegetables. Even more, I could not imagine my life without cheese, pastries and coffee.

When I got the list of recommended food I was surprised by so many different names I have never heard before. I took the list and went to the Whole Foods store. I asked the store employee for assistance to locate these strange foods.

I was determined to try this system and see what effect it will make on my health.

I lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks by eating lots of porridge!!! I could not expect that! It was an additional benefit I was not even looking for. My digestive system started working on its own and I dropped supplements that I believed I was doomed using for the rest of my life!

I was so pleased and excited with the results while being busy learning how to cook a basic miso soup and blanched kale that I did not think about cheese. I stopped drinking coffee and started drinking kukicha tea. It has very mild taste and very easy to switch to.

A few months later I was enjoying baked Brussels sprouts, sautéed Portobello mushrooms and brown rice rolls.  I started questioning what if I have a little bit of food I ate before that gave me so much pleasure in the past? A new unexpected experience took place – I did not enjoy that food as much – it tasted too salty, too heavy, or too sweet. Every time I eat out, I feel that homemade clean plant-based food is so much more delicious and satisfying. It pleases my palate during eating and leaves me with very enjoyable taste. I feel energized, light and nourished.

I discovered amazing natural taste of kale, collard, rutabaga, parsnip, daikon, leek, mushrooms, millet, lentil and more…. They are so delicious by being simply cooked! I learned that cooking healthy is EASY! Natural taste does not call for complex long cooked fatty or hot sauces. It inspired me to start creating my own recipes of delicious simple dishes.

It does not take long to acquire taste for new food. Our taste bites follow the food we eat!

This salad is rich with calcium, vitamins, fiber, protein and uplifting energy. It is a great vegetable option for breakfast to accompany soft grain dish. During Spring or Summer it is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner due to its cleansing properties.

Kale salad


**Health Tip: A high-fiber diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. It helps normalize blood glucose and insulin levels. It promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipationFoods containing fiber are helping to maintain a healthy weight and lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease.  We get fiber from unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans.