A Spring Salad

After promising myself to eat a lot more variety and a little less of my favorite pasta, I decided to try this spring salad recipe on Urbanara's Journal. It calls for a rainbow of veggies I don't incorporate often enough in my diet -- zucchini, asparagus, radishes -- as well as whole grains and a sweet, citrusy kick.

This salad will give you a huge boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Just take a look at asparagus: it's in season right now and loaded with vitamins A, C, E and K as well as folate and, surprisingly, protein. 

I followed Urbana's recipe with a couple of modifications: I substituted red peppers for red onions and cracked wheat for bulgar.

I also made the orange vinaigrette according to the recipe, using orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and honey. Many say that asparagus and apple cider vinegar prevent bloating, so eating a salad like this is good for your tummy, inside and out. I'm not complaining! Here's a shorthand version of the steps:

1. Cook 1/2 cup of grain and blanch the asparagus. 

2. Slice all of your veggies and mix them with the corn and grain. I julienned the zucchini using a vegetable peeler.

3. Make the dressing using 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. honey and a dash of salt and pepper. Drizzle on the salad, toss and serve. 

This salad is proof that it's possible to cook quick, healthy meals on a budget. I made a huge batch that served three people; all of the ingredients were organic and totalled to just $10.

Have a go-to healthy recipe? Please share!

Omega-3 for Healthy Skin

I've always been intrigued by "beauty foods"... you know, those ones that promise to give you a glowing complexion? Though I know it's not that simple, from my humble non-scientist's perspective, it seems pretty intuitive that what you feed your body does in some way influence your skin, which is, after all, your body's largest organ. One nutrient in particular has become an important part of my skincare lately: omega-3.

In addition to the non-superficial benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. they support cardiovascular and mental health), they are thought to improve skin function and structure. Studies suggest that omega-3 strengthens skin cells against dehydration and reduces inflammation from eczema, psoriasis, photodamage and even acne. I've suffered from eczema on my arm for a long time, and about a month ago I stopped in a natural food store in search of (yet another) remedy. A specialist there recommended treating the problem from the inside out, upping my omega-3 intake through regular doses of flaxseed oil. Not only has my eczema practically vanished now, but my skin is overall more hydrated, supple and smooth. Though I know there are other factors involved, I'm convinced that incorporating more omega-3 has made a significant difference.

Flaxseed oil is the richest plant-based source of omega-3. I take Barlean's Organic Flax Oil, which is pure, unfiltered and cold pressed. You can find something similar at any health food store; I recommend the liquid form, which gives you more for your money than the capsules. The suggested daily quota is a tablespoon a day, but I go some days without it, especially when I eat fatty fish, another major source of omega-3. It's important to consume a balance of omegas-3, -6 and -9; in general, many people are short on omega-3. In addition to fish and flax, walnuts, soybeans and pumpkin seeds are also great sources of omega-3.

If you'd like more information, check out this short article or this research paper containing everything you'd ever want to know on omegas. I stick to a plant-based, unprocessed diet, so it's rare that I notice a change in my skin based on what I eat. However, I can say with certainty that incorporating more omega-3 in my diet has helped my skin immensely.

Food Shopping

Transient

Given how much I love cooking and eating, it's no surprise that I also love shopping for food. Though I'm not a picky eater, I try to be selective about what I buy and enjoy the whole process of exploring the aisles and trying new things. I know I'm not the only one (just search "food haul" on YouTube... you've been warned)!

Yesterday I went shopping to get ingredients for a unseasonal dish: matzo ball soup. The flu has hit my nearest and dearest, so I decided to whip up a huge batch. Is it weird that I consider this a comfort food? (Slightly less weird if I told you I have Jewish ancestry?) A few more ordinary items in my grocery bags: Swiss Müesli (a breakfast staple), sugar plum tomatoes and fuji apples (delicious snacks), two varieties of Theo Chocolate (the best chocolate ever, as I've told you before; I chose salted almond and spicy chili), and tulips (just because). Also, I couldn't resist stopping in the beauty section of Whole Foods, where I picked up the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream, and though I have yet to perfect the method (it says "press and roll?"), I'm liking it so far and will keep you updated!