Updates & Eats

Hello everyone! Just thought I’d give you all a brief update on what’s been going on lately.

Work

I started work two weeks ago, as I posted about before, and have been insanely busy trying to establish and good balance of work and other activities. It’s going to take a little while getting used to working full time while also doing some of the more classic Gray Eats Green activities, such as running, cooking, going to marketing, writing this blog, etc. But the good news is, I absolutely love work so far!  I may even started to shift this blog (or create a new one) towards one that showcases and discusses healthy and/or vegan food in Detroit. Only time will tell so stay tuned on that project.

As far as on-job-eats goes, I am very fortunate to work in a company with a couple cafeterias that have pretty great salad bars. 7 Greens Detroit Salad Co. also recently opened up and has been my go-to spot. The “Yoga Girl” salad, which is a mix of kale, spinach, shredded carrots, and roasted beets, brussels, and tofu with a miso dressing and a drizzle of Sriracha is so up my ally. The Zingerman’s spelt bread it is served with is the perfect addition. I love how they emphasize fresh, local ingredients. This place has truly changed the work lunch game in Detroit!

IMG_6582

I also whipped up a big lentil, wheat berry and roasted vegetable salad this past weekend, which I kept in the fridge and mixed with arugula each morning. That lasted me from all the way until Wednesday which was great!

Most mornings I’ve still been enjoying Rip’s Big Bowl cereal for a quick, but filling and nutrient dense breakfast.

Although I haven’t had much time to cook dinners, I am fortunate enough to live at home and my mom has been whipping up a lot of great vegetables, grains and pasta dishes. It’s also been fun going out to dinner with friends in Detroit after work, Wright & Co., Green Dot Stables and Gold Cash Gold have been some spots I’ve tried so far.

Travel

Tomorrow, I will begin my journey with 18 of my other family members to South Africa. This trip has been in the works for a long time and I am a bit nervous, although very excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

My goal is to document my experience with the local cuisine and eating vegan while traveling here on the blog. Although I’m not sure what kind of Internet connection I’ll have, I will do my best.

Yesterday, I stocked up on a bunch of plant-based protein bars and made a huge bag of trail mix to take with me on the trip.

Stay tuned for more of my South African adventure!

Monday Link Up [12/8/14]

Happy Monday! Today was an especially exciting Monday for me, it was the first day of work at my new public relations job in downtown Detroit. I am officially a real person! 

More to come on managing a healthy lifestyle while working, both in and out of the workplace. But for now, I have a great Monday Link Up for you.

First up, an article from the New York Times about Millennials aka the “Slash Generation.” More and more millennials have been stretching themselves thin, not working two jobs because they are pressed for cash, but because they feel the need for a creative outlet in addition to a job that pays the bills. I feel proud to be a part of the “Slash Generation,” as I try to experience the corporate world and utilize my marketing degree, while also exploring my passions in the nutrition and cooking world. The “slash” part could not be more accurate as I currently try to come up with a new Twitter bio… I assure you there will be some sort go “/” or “|” involved.

Switching gears, next up we have a post from one of the blogs that first got me into nutrition and food blogging, Kath Eats Real Food. This posts features a guest plant-based nutritionalist, Bryana Piazza, discussing one of everybody’s favorite topics, protein on a plant based diet. I especially enjoyed this post due to the fact that Kath is neither vegan nor vegetarian, so the unbiased and friendly natured in which her guest blogger discusses a plant based diet is a welcome change from some of the more preachy vegans out there.

Here’s another one for the protein concerned vegans and their grandparents, 8 Things I’d Tell My Grandparents About Protein by MindBodyGreen. My grandparents have been some of the most difficult people to explain my new eating style to, mainly due to the old-school nutrition information that has been instilled in them and most people of their generation. Coming off of Thanksgiving dinner and heading into a big family holiday vacation, this article couldn’t have come at a better time. I may print it out and bring it on the trip!

Finally, as we wrap up 2014 and look on to 2015, I’d like to present two “Top Trends” lists from two of my favorite websites, MindBodyGreen and Well + Good NYC. 10 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2015 has me excited for more healthier restaurants, functional medicine going more mainstream and “fitness polygamy.” Top 2015 Fitness Trends and Wellness Trends is making me look forward to using juice as medicine, Instagram finally getting the healthy lifestyle credit it deserves and sugar getting the same treatment that trans fat does.

Hope everyone has a great week, see you back here soon!

The Kombucha Encyclopedia

So far, this blog has been a random collection of ramblings, recipes, and things that excite and inspire me in the health & wellness foodie world. Yet I have been trying to carve out a more specific niche and purpose for this blog, my interest of all things wellness, food and my Institute for Integrative Nutrition education, have me gradually shifting toward “foods and beverages I love to eat, drink and prepare and the health-benefits of said food and beverages.”  hippocrates

That is what excites me so much about healthy food in general, not only can it taste great and look great, but it can be great for you. Putting food in your body is like putting gas in your car, you can alter the output performance by the quality of the input.

Today, we are going to discuss one of my favorite beverages from both a taste and health-promotion standpoint, kombucha. 

If you’ve ever walked into your local health food store and seen a wall that looks like this, you’ve seen kombucha.

IMG_4534

What is Kombucha?

There is nothing that makes you feel quite like an alien from another planet than explaining Kombucha to someone who has never heard of it before.

“Uhhh… it’s like a really healthy Japanese fermented tea…”

The next question that follows is usually, “why would you want to drink tea that is fermented?”

“Well, it tastes really good and there are a ton of health benefits and… just try it… you’ll see”

At which point the person may make a face, wrinkle their nose, and exclaim that it tastes like vinegar. Most of the time, it will grow on them. I’ve converted many naysayers to Kombucha devotes. My college friends now use Kombucha as their vodka chaser/mixer of choice. It’s certainly an acquired taste.

I Love Kombucha

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Kombucha. It’s quite possibly my favorite beverage and you can often spot me walking around doting a glass bottle full of the stuff or the passenger seat of my car littered with empty kombucha bottles.

I love the taste and there is just something about the way it makes me feel, an energy boost yet a calming and relaxing feeling at the same time… and I haven’t even mentioned the health benefits yet.

Some people may collect keychains or some other little memento when on vacation, I collect local Kombucha bottles. You should see my eyes light up when a place has Kombucha on tap. I’ve had the pleasure to visit a Kombucha brewery in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Although I’ve tasted many different kombuchas from around the country, my favorite brand continues to be G.T.’s and my favorite flavor continues to be Trilogy.

IMG_3899

I’ve even experimented with brewing my own Kombucha, a very weird process that involves water, tea, cane sugar and a S.C.O.B.Y (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacterial Yeast… do you think I’m officially a weirdo yet?) Some may call me a Kombucha addict, but I prefer dedicated fan.

IMG_3560

Health Benefits of Kombucha

Okay, now we’re getting to the good stuff. Other drinks may taste just as good as the magical wonder potion, but they most likely do not boast the same health-promoting properties.

According to DrAxe.com, the newest research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food 2014 states that “it is shown that [kombucha] can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.”

Let me break it down for you in simple terms for why Kombucha has magical properties.

Kombucha has been shown to detox the body by counteracting liver cell toxicity.

Kombucha boasts high levels of beneficial acids, probiotics and enzymes, which is why is great for the digestive system.

As far the the energy promoting properties go, some of the iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process has been shown to increase energy. Kombucha also contains B-vitamins and trace amounts of caffeine, which help to energize the body as well.

Lately, I have been upping my kombucha intake in order to support my immune system during these winter months. Kombucha contains a powerful antioxidant known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) that emerges during the fermentation process. DSL, coupled with the high levels of vitamin-C and probiotics found in Kombucha, have been shown to give the immune system a boost.

I find that Kombucha also works as a natural appetite suppressant for me, which is why it has been credited as having weight loss properties. The natural effervescence (“fizziness”) of the beverage really fills me up. When I want something to sip on and a little energy boost, but don’t want to eat a full blown snack or meal, I turn to a kombucha. Although beware of the bloating that may occur!

For more information about the benefits of kombucha, click here, here or here.

7-Benefits-of-Kombucha

What About The Alcohol?

Due to the fact that kombucha is a naturally fermented product, it contains a trace amount of alcohol and you need to be 21 in order to purpose certain brands. But, I can assure you that the amount of alcohol essentially nonexistent.

Another one of my favorite, kombucha products, is Unity Vibration Kombucha Beer, a unique beverage of kombucha + hops. This product is an entirely different beast and I can assume that the amount of alcohol in this product is quite existent.

New Neu

Proof that the kombucha movement is continuing to pick up traction, I found this new brand local Kombucha made in kitchen in Royal Oak, Michigan at a health-food restaurant and I have a feeling it will continue to appear around Detroit! There is talk of it being sold at Eastern Market next season which I am very excited about. I love supporting local business and local kombucha is even better!

IMG_6256

Cheers!

Recipe: Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Cashew Cream and Fried Sage Leaves

Good morning, everyone!

I cannot seem to get warm between the months of November and August.

But I’ve noticed a couple things that help; hand warmers, fireplaces, coffee, tea and soup. 

Since I’ve started working with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition curriculum and learning more about eating localseasonal and listening to ones body, I have tried my best to follow my body and give it what it needs.

For example, when I wake up in the Spring, Summer and early Fall I tend to crave a big green smoothie. But once about October hits, I no longer crave a green smoothie upon waking, but a warm, soothing bowl of oatmeal instead. Rather than forcing a green smoothie down my throat, I listen to my body and give it what it wants. Another example is gravitating toward a warming cooked dish rather than a raw vegetable salad for lunch. And soup, lots of soup, I could eat soup at every meal if it was possible.

Thanksgiving is already home to many warming vibes, but soup rarely makes an appearance on the Thanksgiving table. Due to the fact that my family had a smaller Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to start us off with a soup appetizer.

I thought I’d showcase one of the most classic of fall vegetables, butternut squash. There are many butternut squash recipes floating around the web, but I wanted to create my own version with just the right texture and the right amount of spices.

I also decided to give this squash a slight Indian vibe with the addition of curry powder and coconut milk. I find the spices in curry powder to be extremely warming and coconut milk gave this a creamy feel. But worry not, both my grandparents, as well as my 13-year-old sister, who are all picky eaters in their own right, really enjoyed this soup.

IMG_6329

The recipe is pretty forgiving. Add more or less seasoning, adjust liquid and thicken to taste, increase coconut milk and decrease broth for a creamier texture, feel free to play around with the recipe, I assure you it is hard to mess up.

Ingredients

For The Soup

  • olive oil to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 1-2 tsp. of curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~4 lbs. of butternut squash (I used one 2 lb. bag and one mid-sized butternut squash to experiment)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened, coconut milk

For The Cashew Cream

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight or at least an hour
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened, unflavored plant-milk (I used coconut)
  • The juice from half a lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For The Fried Sage Leaves

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Toss the cubed squash with olive oil or spray the halved squash with olive oil and sprinkle with seas salt
  • Roast until soft- about 45 minutes
  • Meanwhile, sauté the onion and shallot in olive oil in a big soup pot on the stove
  • Sauté on low heat and slowly caramelize the onion, season with salt, pepper, and curry powder. Adjust to taste.
  • Once the squash is roasted, add it to the soup pot with the caramelized onion, add the broth and coconut milk
  • Using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth or alternatively, transfer mixture until a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serve hot or store in the fridge for a few days and reheat when you’re ready to eat. Garnish with the cashew cream and fried sage leaves. Enjoy!
  • For the cashew cream: Drain the soaked cashews and combine with plant-milk, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
  • For the fried sage leaves: heat olive oil in a small sauce small until it shimmers, toss in a couple of sage leaves and fry for a few seconds on each side, remove with tongs and put on a paper towel to dry. Store in an air-tight container for up to a couple of days.

Monday Link Up [12/1/14]

Happy December!

There’s nothing better than the first of the month falling on a Monday to refresh, renew, reset and rejuvenate. Especially after the crazy holiday weekend we just had!

I have some great links for you on this Monday we head into the Holiday season and look ahead into resolution season.

This is also my last Monday before I start working full time! Keep expecting the weekly Monday Link Up and other blog posts as well. I will do my best to keep up the blog as I transition into working life.

1. From HuffPost Taste, the 11 Gifts to Give Your Health-Obsessed Foodie Friend. Seriously, if anyone got me any one of these gifts, I would not be disappointed (hint hint.) Foodies and Health-Obsessed people are often grouped into two different categories and I appreciate HuffPost for giving a nod to the overlapping group of the two circles. The Fruit of the Month Club and the tofu socks gave me the biggest laugh. I have been eyeing a slow cooker, a Craft Coffee subscription and a CSA membership for a while now and might have to treat myself this holiday season.

2. Saving money is a great New Year’s resolution or a good thing to at least think about during the holiday season. Greatist’s 94 Creative Ways To Save Money Today are clever, quirky and totally doable.

3. Speaking of resolutions, this article from PoughKeepsie Journal explains Why Going Vegan May Be Your Best New Year’s Resolution Ever. It covers many common New Year’s resolutions; such as weight loss, overall health, environmental concerns, and cooking and eating more delicious food in one fell swoop. I think back upon the start of my journey with veganism just last year and wonder how many people will decide to take the vegan plunge in 2015!

4. I recently learned about Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Breathing Technique and wanted to share it with you. This simple breathing technique boasts some pretty impressive health benefits and I have been trying to work it into my daily routine.

5. Just in case you are having a little difficulty resetting after this past week, or want to cleanse before the next holiday, here are 5 Easy Ways To Detox After Thanksgiving (or anytime!) from Well + Good NYC.

Enjoy your week!