Immunity juice

In the midst of an emotionally taxing job, daily responsibilities, and the stresses life tends to bring, I'm always grateful for a moment to slow down. I tend to ruin these opportunities for myself, though: a worrier by nature, I have a self-destructive tendency to dread the coming tasks and tomorrow's worries instead of taking life moment-by-moment. This, of course, leaves me feeling drained and wondering when I will ever be able to catch my breath. What I fail to see most days is that the opportunity for recovery and rest - both physical and mental - is there, but something inside me prevents me from seizing it. I'm trying to grasp the idea that there will always be to-do lists, projects that need finishing, and problems that need my attention, and sometimes they need to stay un-done and not worried about for the sake of sanity. It's something I'm working on.

Today, though, I'm getting it right. Life at this very moment looks like a quiet afternoon on my comfy, well-worn sofa, tea in hand, windows wide open to let in the cool spring air, The Civil Wars playing on repeat, and components of tomorrow's dinner cooking on the stove. Inhale. Exhale. Life is good.
I avoided getting sick this winter. I feel like I can say that now that it's March and the first official day of spring came and went on Friday. Now, this was no small feat: I work in healthcare, and I can't count how many rounds of the common cold, the flu, gastroenteritis, and pinkeye came through my workplace this year. Yikes. I'm chalking my victory up to a strong immune system assisted by plenty of sleep, fresh produce, and Theives spray.

If you find yourself needing a boost, this juice might provide some help. Brilliantly colored by beets, turmeric, and carrots, it is packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and loads of vitamins C and A. I love my juicer (an Omega J8006), but if you don't have one, check out my Winter Goodness Smoothie, which can be made in a good blender, and substitute turmeric for the ginger.


ROOTS SERIES \\ Nutrition 101

Welcome to the ROOTS series of Taste & See: a source for education on all things nutrition and wellness. We'll dig though the fad diets, buzzwords, and confusion to get to the roots of healthy living, which will help you make educated, confident decisions about your food and lifestyle. I am a self-declared nutrition nerd, and I love understanding the ins and outs of how the body works, so be prepared to get a little science-y. This will be an expanding section of information, so check back periodically for new topics. Let's dig in!


Protein power smoothie (Recipe Redux)

This month's Recipe Redux theme is "Favorite Chocolate Matches," and bloggers were asked to create a recipe highlighting their favorite chocolate pairings. I decided to go the tried-but-true route with a delicious and satisfying chocolate, peanut butter, and banana combination.
I've been loving this Protein Power Smoothie for quite some time now. It was inspired by my husband's love for Jamba Juice's Peanut Butter Moo'd smoothie, and it has powered many of our mornings, particularly during our recent marathon training. It's silky smooth, thickened by the flax meal, and has perfectly balanced ratios of it's three star ingredients: chocolate, banana, and peanut butter. One serving (about 8 ounces) contains 360 calories and a filling 15 grams of protein to get your day started.


Massaged kale winter salad with crunchy quinoa

As much as I love a good bowl of greens, I just can't bring myself to eat many salads in the winter. When it's chilly outside, I want a hot, hearty meal - not cold, light lettuce. This salad, however, is different. Using dense kale instead of crunchy romaine and topping with warm fried quinoa and shaved winter vegetables, this salad is perfectly winter-worthy and satisfying. Top with garlicky shredded chicken or glazed salmon, and you've got yourself a healthy and hearty winter meal.
Few vegetables have taken the market by storm the way that kale has in the past couple of years. Kale, a member of the Brassica family of vegetables along with cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, is packed full of nutrients. One cup of chopped fresh kale provides 206% of your daily vitamin A, 134% of your vitamin C, 684% of your vitamin K (talk to your doctor or RD about kale if you take blood thinners), and 26% of your daily manganese. We know the Brassica family is fantastic at reducing internal inflammation, which is linked to many chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Glucosinolates, compounds responsible for the pungent flavor of these vegetables, are thought to be responsible for this reduction in inflammation.

Keep eating kale, America.


Maple spiced nuts (Recipe Redux)

I've previously shared about my affinity for snacks. Some people prefer to eat three square meals per day, and that may work for them, but I find snacking to be totally beneficial for the vast majority. Snacks can help regulate blood sugar levels, manage satiety, improve focus and concentration, and help ward off the infamous 3 pm "crash" in energy. Additionally, snacks are often vital in helping active folks consume adequate calories. Let's do some math: the typical "healthy" meal for many active people consists of chicken breast, broccoli or other vegetable, and brown rice. Six ounces of chicken breast alongside one cup of brown rice and one cup of roasted broccoli adds up to roughly 575 calories. If all three meals offer similar caloric density, this would result in around 1700 calories eaten in a day: perhaps enough to support a goal of weight loss in some, but for most, this will not be enough to result in muscle gains, improved body composition, or optimal athletic performance. Enter the essentiality of snacking.

This month's Recipe Redux theme is Start Smoking in the New Year. Bloggers were asked to create a recipe highlighting smoked or spiced foods, and these Maple Spiced Nuts make a nutritionally valuable and delicious snack. They're a satisfying blend of sweet, salty, and spicy: the maple syrup creates a perfect crust of sweetness, and the cayenne pepper adds an interesting bite. I've had a bag stashed in my desk drawer all week. Great decision.
Cashews have popping up everywhere these days, and I'm not disappointed - these guys pack in a lot of nutrients! A quarter cup of cashews (about 1 ounce) provides 20% of your daily magnesium, 24% of your phosphorus, 70% of your copper, and 23% of your manganese. Nut consumption is tied to lower risk of heart disease and gallstones, and weight gain. The copper in cashews assists in a variety of metabolic processes including formation of red blood cells, maintenance of blood vessels and nerves, immune function, and development of bone while the magnesium works to regulate nerve function, blood pressure, and bone structure. Grab a handful - they're good for you!