Recipe: Weekly Work Power Salad

For those of you who follow my @grayeatsgreen Instagram account, you have probably seen my #worklunch or #desklunch posts. This recipe is more of a “formula” and can be changed and tweaked based on what you have on hand!

I usually use curly kale as base because you can dress it ahead of time and it will hold up well in fridge for quite a few days without breaking down or getting mushy like many other lettuces.

I start by chopping up two bunches of curly kale and putting them into a huge mixing bowl.

I then make between 1.5-2 cups of a grain, some ideas are quinoa, farro, wheatberries, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, frekkah, etc. Follow the directions on cooking the grain. Wait until the grain cools and mix it in with the chopped kale.

Then I normally add a bean or legume of some sort for a protein boost; black beans, white beans, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, etc.

Then pick your vegetables, fresh, roasted, steamed, sautéed, even fermented, it doesn’t matter! Some ideas: roasted brussels sprouts, steamed beets, raw carrots, tomatoes, celery, peppers, roasted squash or sweet potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, the possibilities are endless! (If I add avocado I normally wait until right before serving)

Next up I usually like to added some dried fruit for a little natural sweetness; such as chopped medjool dates, chopped figs, cherries or raisins. Or chopped up fresh fruit such as a granny smith apple.

A nut or seed gives the salad a great crunch and a nice dose of healthy fat! I love adding hemp hearts, walnuts or chopped almonds.

Fresh herbs make a wonderful addition to any salad if you have them on hand; giving them a certain pop of freshness. Experiment with parsley, cilantro, dill or any herb of your choice. The possibilities are endless!

When it comes to dressing, I like to gently massage my big batch salads with a very light combination of an oil (olive, flax) and an acid (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar) along with some sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Sometimes I make a more complex dressing to add when I serve it, but with so many delicious add-ins, that’s really all you need!

Use your intuition when it comes to ingredient amounts and portion sizes, no one knows what you like and what you need better than you do. I’ve noticed that two bunches of kale along with 1.5-2 cups of grain (measured BEFORE cooking) yields about 5-8 meal sized servings. Perfect for lunch for most of the week for you and another family member and a dinner appetizer!

Batch cooking is crucial when it comes to staying healthy on the job. Keep checking back to the blog for more ideas on healthy tips for the workplace!

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Vacation Eats Recap: NYC

Happy Tuesday everyone! It feels so good to wake up in the crisp and cozy November mitten this morning after being in the craziness of New York City the past four days.

So sorry for missing this week’s Monday Link Up. I have been a bit behind on blogging due to the fact I was out of town, but don’t worry- you will still get your daily dose of linkage, it’s just going to be happening a bit later this week.

As of right now, I have a Vacation Eats Recap post that I think you will enjoy.

New York City was recently named the most vegan friendly city by MindBodyGreen. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve been spending so much time there lately… either that or the fact that it is home to quite a few family members and potential job opportunities.

Every time I hit this wonderful city, I have to take advantage of all the deliciousness it has to offer. This trip was no exception. My trips to New York usually consist of a compromise of all the trendiest healthy, vegan-friendly and foodie spots (for me) and just some classic good food (my family.) This trip, I convinced my family to go to The Butcher’s Daughter and Candle 79. Read on for reviews.

The Butcher’s Daughter

The Butcher’s Daughter’s famous avocado toast has been staring back at me from my Instagram screen since the summer. After checking out the menu, I knew I had to try out this trendy juice bar/almost-vegan café, it sounded right up my ally!

The small restaurant had green plants coming out of the wall, mint infused water on every table, drinks served in mason jars and staff sporting “We Sell Designer Kale” tees. Heaven on earth.

Once were finally seated at a spacious bar-style table three, overlooking a window, we ordered the notorious avocado toast (one single and one double order, so we could each have a piece) and two bowls of the soup of the day (butternut squash) to split between the three of us.

The avocado toast certainly lived up to its hype, I can honestly say it was the best I’ve ever had. A thick piece of whole grain bread is smothered with a fat layer of smashed, creamy avocado, with a faint hint of curry mustard seeds and lime. Served with some granny smith apple that added a refreshing tartness. The soup was great as well, very simple and true to the butternut flavor, I especially enjoyed the addition of pomegranate seeds.

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Candle 79

Candle 79 is a cozy, upscale restaurant that you would never know is vegan until you read the menu. I love the way they turn vegan food into a fine dining, culinary experience that delights all types of eaters. This was my second time at Candle 79, but my first time since going vegan (and first time since I’ve been 21.)

I started off with the Reforestation cocktail, one of the best cocktails I have ever had; VeeV açai spirit, wheatgrass infused Crop vodka, muddled mint, ginger-agave, lime, soda and rocks.

They then brought us out one of their delicious complementary “snacks.” We started with the Guacamole Timbale, my mom ordered the special salad and my sister the special soup (more butternut squash.) Everything was delicious.

I decided to order the special entree. It was pumpkin seed crusted seitan, sweet potato purée, seasonal vegetables and cranberry coulis sauce, topped with a pumpkin seed and chopped apple salad. I wanted to branch out by trying something new and different. I had only ever sampled seitan, this was my first time ordering it. The meal was absolutely delicious, it tasted like a Thanksgiving feast on a plate. My mom ordered the portobello steak which was also delicious and my sister had the seaweed salad.

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Unfortunately the “non vegans” overruled and went out for a “normal” dessert. The Candle 79 dessert menu sounded delicious, but I was honestly too full to really care.

Other Eats

We hit some amazing non vegan restaurants as well. The Gray Dog, Nobu, Westville, Serafina, and Otto Enoteca en Pizzeria.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

This post is the second installment in the natural health and wellness blog post series I will be writing weekly for the Summit Chiropractic blog.


 

Eating Healthy On A Budget

It seems as if in today’s day and age, with the world’s knowledge at our fingertips and healthy options popping up everywhere you turn, it would be easier than ever to live a healthy lifestyle, but that’s not the case.

According a recent Huffington Post article, people claim that the biggest reason for why it is so difficult to eat healthy is not lack of willpower, lack of knowledge, or even lack of access to healthy foods, but cost.

In a world where a cheeseburger at McDonalds costs less than a salad, it’s no wonder people get derailed and have a hard time sticking to a healthy diet while also sticking to their budget.

So read on for my favorite tips on how eat healthy on a budget.

Go almost plant-based

Vegan, or “plant-based,” diets have been getting a lot of attention in the media lately. A plant-based diet is one free from all animal products; including meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy. This may sound a bit extreme to some, but the benefits of a plant-based diet definitely weigh out the cost, both nutritionally and financially.

Think about how much less expensive a serving of oatmeal, banana slices, a sprinkle of nuts and a dash of cinnamon is than the standard American breakfast of eggs, bacon and an English muffin. How about topping your salad with beans for protein instead of grilled chicken or feta cheese? Or how about a small coffee with a splash of soymilk instead of a fancy nonfat milk latte? These small changes will leave you with a lighter body and a heavier wallet.

The best way to incorporate the benefits of a plant-based diet without giving up your old favorites is the “Vegan Before Six” (VB6) approach. By eating a fruit, vegetable, whole grain or legume based breakfast and lunch, you’ll have more energy throughout the day and still be able to have all of your omnivorous favorites for dinner.

Get to know your local farmer(s’ market) 

Have you ever noticed that a tiny carton of raspberries at the grocery store cost upwards of $5 in the winter, but in the summer you can get a huge carton at the farmers’ market for $2? Buying seasonally and locally is always cheaper. If you’re not sure what’s seasonal where you live, check out this handy guide. You can seriously score some great deals at the farmer’s market. If you shop right before clo670px-Help-Poor-People-Eat-Healthy-on-a-Budget-Step-3sing time the farmers may even discount their items further.

Bulk up

Bulk bins, that is. Most health food stores have a bulk section where you can pick and choose how much (or how little) of each item you want. Because there is no packaging or advertising involved, you can get dried beans, grains, spices and specialty “superfoods” for a fraction of the cost as their packaged and brand name counter parts.

I have literally eaten meals for less than a dollar when shopping in the bulk section. Bulk beans and grains coupled with some veggies from the farmer’s market make for an excellent meal. If a healthy recipe calls for a teaspoon of a spice you don’t think you’ll ever use again, buy a pinch in the bulk section rather than wasting money on a whole jar.

Cooking in bulk also saves you time and money, make a big batch of dried beans and a whole grain every Sunday so you can reheat or use as salad toppers throughout the week.

Trader Joes

Don’t have time to cook in bulk or visit your local farmers market this week? No worries, Trader Joes offers awesome health food products for low price. They have a large selection of organic canned beans, frozen packets of brown rice and quinoa that are ready in 3 minutes, precooked lentils in the refrigerator section and a large variety of vegetables, both fresh and frozen. “Trader Joe’s” brand products are almost always less expensive than mainstream brands at other grocery stores.

Chill out

 Speaking of frozen, frozen fruits and vegetables are a great substitute if you can’t get your hands on fresh ones. They are always frozen at peak ripeness, so they contain the highest amount of nutrients and flavor possible, and are usually the cheaper option. Frozen fruits are a great option for smoothies, in oatmeal or just eaten as a snack. Frozen veggies work nicely in soups, stews or mixed into grain and pasta dishes. Plus, they keep for a long time so it is unlikely they would go to waste.

Know when to splurge

Recently, the subject of healthy eating made a splash on the cover of Time Magazine, with the headline “What To Eat Now: The Truth About Home Cooking.” Food journalist Mark Bittman attempts to get Americans away from restaurants, take-out and delivery and back into their kitchens.

Cooking at home is always healthier and cheaper than eating out. With the money you will inevitably save by not eating out as much, you can afford to splurge on organic meat and seafood, treats like high quality dark chocolate or other specialty products rather than a restaurant meal.

When you readjust your priorities and you will begin to see the cost of healthy eating in a whole new light, most of us don’t bat an eyelash at a $10 cocktail at a restaurant, but roll out eyes when we see a green juice in the health food market for the same price.

Weigh out the costs

Think of a healthy lifestyle as health insurance. Would you rather spend your money now in the produce section or later at the pharmacist?


If you have any further questions about eating healthy on a budget or want more tips about how to make these healthy and budget-friendly foods apart of your lifestyle, contact Natalie at nataliegray@me.com.

Natalie Gray is currently on her way to becoming a certified health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is passionate about health and wellness.

 

Vegan Mofo: Kale Yeah!

Happy Friday! Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite go-to kale salad recipes. I found this recipe after watching Engine 2’s Plant Rescue with Rip Esselstyn. This Forks Over Knives spinoff can be found on Netflix and is a fun, more functional video. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in a plant-based lifestyle or who just wants to clean up their diet in general. Former firefighter Rip goes into the homes of two families looking to go plant-based and helps them clean out their pantries and fridges, restock their kitchens and cook easy, healthy meals.

Rip’s message is unique because it really tailors to men and focuses on strength and simplicity. Much of the vegan media out there is tailored toward women, whether it be on purpose or subliminally. Rip avoids the word “vegan” all together because he believes it deters people and instead uses the phrase “plant-strong.” Even though I am a women, I still love Rip’s message and his recipes. He will be speaking in my home town on September 30th and I am very excited to see him in person and hopefully get a copy of his book!

Now, on to the recipe..

As many of you probably know the entire Forks Over Knives “line” promotes an oil-free, whole-foods, plant-based diet. Going completely oil-free sounds daunting and impossible to some, and I will admit, eating out oil-free is a huge challenge. After watching forks over knives, reading the cookbook and familiarizing myself with Engine 2, I have attempted to greatly reduce my oil consumption. It makes sense to me that oil is not technically a “whole food.” It is greatly processed, do you know how many olives you’d have to eat just to get to the same amount of calories as just one tablespoon of olive oil? A LOT! The Forks Over Knives theory is that it is better to get your fat needs from a small amount of fatty whole foods, such as avocados, nuts and seeds. By getting your fat from whole foods instead of processed oil, you are able to receive the other health benefits that these foods offer and eat them in greater quantities because they are not so highly concentrated.

Although I still use coconut oil in my vegan baking, a little bit of olive oil to roast and sauté when I am cooking for others and don’t make a big deal of it when eating out, I generally feel better when reducing my oil intake. The thing that has posed the greatest challenge though is SALAD DRESSING. Most vegan, oil-free salad dressing recipes involve the blender and some obscure ingredients but what I love most about this simple, oil free massaged kale salad is that all you need is kale, a lemon, an avocado and some sea salt!

(Recipe makes one serving)

Step 1: Wash and dry about half a bunch of kale, or about 3-5 kale leaves

 

Step 2: Chop the kale finely or into bite size pieces

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3. Cut the lemon and avocado in half (you will only use half of each for one serving so save the other halves in the fridge)

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4. Mash half of the avocado into kale and squeeze half of the lemon over it

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5. Drive the avocado and lemon juice into the kale and massage throughly

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6. Sprinkle a little seat salt over the kale. The end result should look something like this.

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7. You now have a lovely oil-free kale salad with a delicious lemon and avocado dressing. At this point you could add more veggies or grains to your salad or just eat as is. Enjoy!

Why I Love Mornings

As a self proclaimed “morning person,” mornings are clearly my favorite time of day. Most of the population may find this hard to believe but mornings have some serious benefits and perks that the rest of the day just can’t offer.

My ultimate favorite thing about the morning is the feeling that you are getting things done before the rest of the population even gets out of bed. Often times, I feel like I have two mornings per day, the first one by myself and the second one with my family, friends or co-workers.

That’s the other beauty of the morning; quiet, interrupted, alone time. Due to the fact that most people aren’t awake yet, there is no one up to interrupt you. I find the mornings to be great for just some relaxing “me time” if nothing else. Mornings are also the perfect time to take care of business, interruption free. Whether it be a getting in a workout, studying, writing, reading or working, mornings are an excellent time to bang out some crucial things on your to-do list. Once you have that workout in or that deadline met, you can relax and enjoy the rest of your day without something pressing hanging over your head. 

Another reason why I love mornings is breakfast. If you have a good functioning metabolism and aren’t snacking late at night, you should normally be hungry in the mornings. I usually wake up ravenous and breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I enjoy properly fueling my body to take on the day and breaking cuisine is some of my favorite. My breakfast usually consists of a green smoothie of some sort, oatmeal with various toppings, Rip’s Big Bowl, or Ezekiel toast with nut butter.

But, before breakfast, I always start my day with a large glass of water and a little splash of apple cider vinegar. I have been doing this for about 5 years now and I really find that this “elixir” helps to alkalize my body and stay on track for the rest of the day. Even if I am out of town or don’t have access to apple cider vinegar, I make sure to chug a large glass or two of water upon waking in order to hydrate my body.  

Coffee is yet another reason why I love mornings. Coffee is a contradictory beverage amongst the health community, but I find that if I stick to one mug of high quality coffee a day (before 10am so the caffeine will not affect my sleep) with a little bit of almond or hemp milk, I tend to feel best. Often I will go on a week or so “coffee cleanse” just to make sure I don’t become dependent. But coffee adds a calming and soothing feeling to my morning and I love enjoying a mug of it while reading, writing or getting work done. Coffee shops, especially those local ones with a “hipster” feel are some of my favorite places to relax, hang out and get work done. 

Meditation is something I have recently been trying to get into. I find that it can be beneficial at any time of day, but if you are awake enough it makes a very nice start to the morning. Even if its just breathing and setting your intentions for the day for five minutes, meditation can have a powerful effect in the mornings.

I personally love morning workouts, but some people’s bodies are just designed to thrive best in the afternoon. So although morning workouts are great for some, when it comes to working out, it is best to find the time of day that feels best for you and go with it.

What is a crucial part of your morning routine? What would you like to adopt as part of your morning routine? 

Gray Eats Green Tip: Freezing Bananas

 

 

 

When it comes to making great smoothies, the key is using frozen bananas. Frozen bananas offer a creamy texture that you just can’t get by combining regular bananas and ice. Adding ice to your smoothies also water them down and affect the taste. Many people will just throw bananas into the freezer but then it is a pain to get the peel off! Here is how to property freeze bananas for smoothies.

1. Wait until your bananas are “cheetah spotted” but not completely brown- this will ensure they are ripe and sweet enough for smoothies

2. Unpeel the bananas

3. Cut or break each banana into halves or chunks 

4. Place them in a big Ziploc freezer bag that can be reused

5. Freeze the bananas (at least overnight to get them completely frozen)

6. When you are ready to make a smoothie, simply open your freezer, throw the desired amount of banana chunks in your blender with liquid, other fruit, greens, superfoods, etc. and blend away!

 

 

 

 

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Vegan Mofo: Why Vegan?

Why_Vegan

Since becoming primarily vegan almost a year ago, I often get a lot of questions (especially from older generations) about why I decided to make that change. Can’t one lead a healthy lifestyle and eat healthfully without cutting animal protein out of their diet. Of course the answer is yes! But here are some of my personal reasons for eating this way 95% percent of the time.

  1. Physical and athletic performance. I shaved over 30 minutes off my half-marathon time, need I say more?
  2. Feel better after meals. I feel lighter and more energized after meals. I rarely feel that over-full or sick-to-my-stomach feeling anymore, and if I do it’s because I accidental consume some dairy at a restaurant. 
  3. Confirmed my dairy-intolerance. Since becoming vegan I have proven the fact that I really just feel better with no dairy in my diet. I truly believe most humans suffer from some form of dairy-intolerance, after all, we are the only species who suckles on another species secretions, how weird is that?
  4. Fun and challenging way to explore in the kitchen. Experimenting with obscure ingredients and “veganizing” recipes has given a fun edge to my cooking and baking.
  5. Putting more emphasis on vegetables. Hence the name, Gray Eats Green. Vegetables are now the central component of my meals, I try to incorporate dark, leafy greens into my diet in some way, shape or form every day. I have discovered the benefits of local, seasonal and organic produce. 
  6. Sense of community. From connecting with bloggers and Instagrammers, to striking up conversation with restaurant owners and employees, to attending VegFest, the sense of comradery in the vegan community is phenomenal. 
  7. Improved digestion. Being vegan keeps me… regular. 
  8. I feel more connection to nature/animals. This one really surprised me. It was never my intention to become one of those “vegan hippies” but I just feel more “natural” and “connected.”
  9. Good for the wallet and the planet. I have learned if you shop wisely, eating a plant-based diet is actually more inexpensive. It’s also a more sustainable way to eat. 

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