Living Lite

An Unexpectedly Flavorful Salad with Local Summer Peaches and Kale

July 31, 2019

Rush to your Farmer's Market this week! In Georgetown, there are markets on SaturdaySunday and Wednesday. And, of course, year-round is the behomoth Dupont Circle Market on Sundays. The local peaches are exceptional: sweet, juicy, flavorful, and with a perfect velvety texture. This recipe is a tasty way to feature them at any gathering. And it's always a favorite. 

Fresh Kale & Summer Peach Salad with Toasted Almonds and a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Excerpted from my book: Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook in Season!

Serves 6

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Salad Ingredients:
6 Handfuls of fresh Kale, washed, tough stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces or chiffonade
2 Cups Fresh Sliced Summer Peaches
2 Ounces toasted slivered Almonds
½ Sweet Onion, peeled and sliced

In a large bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk until blended. Add the kale, onion, almonds, and peaches. Toss together. Serve immediately.

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Paleo Diet Linked With Increased Heart Disease Risk

July 25, 2019

The "Paleo Diet" is based on the idea that the human genome has not adapted to eating products of agriculture. Paleo dieters eat meat, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables and few fruits, with no processed foods, grains or dairy products included. Short term, it may have the benefit of weight loss for some because of the sudden exclusion of refined starchy and sugary foods. But the long term picture isn't so positive, according to a new study in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Whole Grain Foods (Photo by: USDA ( Whole Grain Foods

The study divided participants into groups of people consuming a strict paleo diet, more relaxed Paleo plans, and a traditional healthy diet, based on current health guidelines. The study found that because the strict paleo diet adherents ate zero whole grains, this apparently caused the increase of a compound called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in the blood, which is associated with a significant rise in cardiovascular disease risk.

The researchers attributed this negative result to the disruption in the gut microbiome caused by the lack of fiber and nutrients contained in whole grains. The gut's microbiome is the collection of 100 million microorganisms in the digestive tract, which we now know, can make or break your health. Two recently published clinical studies confirm decades of evidence demonstrating that the nutrients and fiber in whole grains, such as whole wheat, oats, barley, rye, brown or wild rice, etc., are essential for overall well-being. They improve gut health (an emerging factor contributing to overall health), the immune system, cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, weight loss, and reductions in inflammation, a risk factor for diseases such as colds, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

How much whole grain should you be consuming? My advice would be three to four one-ounce servings daily. For instance, two one-ounce slices of whole wheat, whole oat or whole rye toast in the morning, or two slices of whole grain bread for a sandwich at lunch, would be two servings. One cup of cooked brown rice or whole grain pasta would comprise another two servings. It doesn't take much to receive health benefits. And the calories are lower than you'd expect. 

One whole grain serving, about 70 to 100 calories = 1 ounce dry (a typical slice of bread) or 1/2 cup cooked whole grain. Read more about whole grains.

A favorite summertime whole grain recipe of mine and my clients is Tabouleh with Chick Peas, Seasonal Vegetables and a Lemony Vinaigrette.

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Sweet Strawberries! First Fresh & Local Salad of the Season!

May 23, 2019

Strawberries! Strawberries! Strawberries! Come get your strawberries! I'm surprised the first strawberries of the season are sweet. I stopped by Quaker Valley Orchards at the Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market on Sunday (as I always do), tasted one, and the sweet juice ran down my arm - a good sign. Usually the season's first strawberries aren't sweet, but these are - and I recommend them - in case you haven't guessed already. And lucky for us, Quaker Valley also sells their exceptional produce at the Rose Park Farmer's Market on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 7:00 pm.

Of course, most of the strawberries I bought - 8 pints - will be popped into my mouth as is. But, this salad is also a great way to celebrate strawberries.

 Mike Gardner's Springtime Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Roasted Almond Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is a great salad for a hot day.  Let the strawberries sit long enough to absorb the balsamic vinegar flavor while you take time to catch up with friends and enjoy the summer day. Balsamic vinegar is a perfect accompaniment to strawberries (try them on vanilla frozen yogurt). Add the spinach and you have a “salad” you will LOVE (and will love you back with health benefits)!

Spinach Strawberry Salad (Photo by: California Strawberry Commission) Spinach Strawberry Salad

For the strawberries:
1 pint of ripe strawberries, if they are large, cut them in half
1/2-3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
For the salad:
Baby spinach
Baby arugula
Goat cheese crumbles
1 small red onion, sliced
2 ounce of toasted almonds (Mike doesn't add almonds)
For the dressing:
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the strawberries by placing them into a bowl and add the vinegar.  Let them sit for a while to absorb the flavor of the vinegar- an hour or better.  This can be done at room temperature

In a separate bowl, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Slowly stream in the olive oil, tasting for flavor balance.  If necessary, add additional mustard to taste.
When ready to serve, combine equal parts of baby spinach and arugula.  Add in the sliced red onion, and lightly toss the salad with a small amount of dressing, adding more as necessary slowly dressing the salad as to not drench it all at once.  Add the goat cheese crumbles and almonds.  Lastly, plate the salad onto a chilled serving plate.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the strawberries from the vinegar and place them on top of the greens.  Finally, top with fresh ground pepper and serve.

Learn about health benefits of strawberries...

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