Monthly Archives: October 2012

Fresh, Local, Global: Holiday Superfoods & Healthy Spices

Loris Sofia Gregory, Healthy Kitchen Coach, Apple Valley, MN
Valley Natural Foods, 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville, MN 55337

Most of us look forward to traditional comfort foods this special time of year, usually anticipating the pleasurable sights, smells and tastes of our family holidays. What dishes are on your “must serve” holiday list? Does everyone in your family agree or do you stress yourself out trying to satisfy everyone’s favorite food memories? What about potential rising numbers on the bathroom scale during the next few months?  Just thinking about holiday cooking and eating does not have to raise your blood pressure. Holiday feasts and treats can include superfoods, offering more nutrition per calorie without straining your waistline or wallet. Here’s a fresh, local and global rainbow of holiday superfoods and spices to consider. These fresh foods offer power-packed energy and strong immunity for happier healthier holidays.

Cranberries: Rather than using these tasty tart red beauties as a sugar-laden compliment to your Thanksgiving turkey, try these alternatives: (1) simmer whole cranberries sweetened with fresh apples, (2) dice cranberries and apples in a food processor or by hand and enjoy solo or with yogurt or oatmeal (3) mix cranberries with guacamole and a drizzle of honey, or (4) blend them with olive or local oil, balsamic vinegar and pinches of sweetener and salt for a super salad dressing. Sandhill Cranberries in Wisconsin deliver fresh, local organic cranberries to VNF through November and December, as long as their supply lasts.

Brussels Sprouts: Like other members of the broccoli and cabbage family, this “love ‘em” (or not) vegetable offers a boost of health-enhancing qualities, including beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and calcium. Cut off the ends, but not so much that they fall apart. Roasting these green gems in salt, pepper, olive or local oil, with a touch of honey and balsamic vinegar (cook until tender but still bright).

Pomegranates: Who cannot use calmer nerves during the holidays? Have you discovered the rich-red juicy delights of pomegranates and their seeds, offering antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties for a healthy nervous system? Try peeling the whole fruit in a bowl of water, as the seeds will drop to the bottom and your hands will remain stain-free. Or pick up a package of super-convenient pomegranate seeds in our produce department, for adding festive color and nutrients to green or fruit salads, oatmeal, breakfast batters, breads and more.  Create a new tradition with Roasted Pear and Pomegranate Salad.

Mushrooms are easy to overlook in the nutrient-rich rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms contain virtually no fat, sugar or salt and are a valuable source of dietary fiber as well as five B vitamins. Most significant among their minerals is selenium that protects against viruses. Don’t forget to add mushrooms to your Thanksgiving dressing, pasta and rice dishes, pizzas, soups, salads, and stir frys. A diversity of mushrooms is delivered fresh and local from Forest Mushrooms of St. Joseph, Minnesota. Be adventurous and try Spinach and Almond-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms.

Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins and Squashes: Colorful and naturally sweet, these vibrant orange and deep yellow holiday favorites are rich in nutrients, including fiber and the alpha and beta carotenes that convert to immune-boosting, vision-enhancing Vitamin A. Bake whole in the oven till soft, scoop out any seeds and pulp, and whip the warm flesh into creamy delicious with a touch of cayenne, salt, butter and ginger juice (Grate unpeeled fresh ginger, then squeeze it through your hands or strainer.)  Perfume your kitchen and be popular with Spiced Butternut Cranberry Squares, courtesy of locavore chef Amy Colter.
Consider these health-enhancing spices for your holiday cooking and baking, delivered fresh, local and global from Frontier Natural Foods Products in Norway, Iowa. Buy a pinch or a pound of these money-saving bulk spices to enjoy optimum aroma and freshness.

Cinnamon: One teaspoon daily can lower blood sugar levels, possibly helping to prevent or control diabetes. Sprinkle cinnamon on fall squash soup, fruit chutneys, hot or cold cereals, French toast, pancakes, hot chocolate or other tummy-warming holiday treats. Cloves have one of the highest antioxidant ratings of any spice. Use it in winter fruit salads, mulled wine or cider and spicy curries. Nutmeg is a holiday super spice shown to calm your stomach, improve circulation and concentration, regulate anxiety, promote sleep and relieve joint pain. It might be tempting to overdo on the nutmeg. Caution: large doses can lead to nausea. Enjoy smaller doses in baked goods and eggnog. Sage can boost memory, another boost everyone can use. Savor sage in holiday stuffings, soups and pastas.

Are you ready for more inspiring coaching, plenty of tasty samples, recipes and support for super healthy happy holidays? I look forward to meeting you or reconnecting at my November classes:

FRESH, LOCAL AND GLOBAL HOLIDAY FLAVORS, Thursday, Nov 8, 6:30-8:30 pm, Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli, 2823 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis 55406. $32 members / $34 non-members (Demonstration/Tasting). Please register 48 hours in advance at Customer Service or call 612-338-2465. Prepayment is required to reserve your spot.

FRESH, LOCAL AND GLOBAL HOLIDAY FLAVORS, Tuesday, Nov 20, 6:30-8:30 pm. Valley Natural Foods, 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville 55337. Register by Friday Noon, November 16 with VNF Customer Service at 952-891-1212 ext. 221 or online. Use coupon code #5130 for $3 off online registration.  REGISTER ONLINE HERE.

FRESH, LOCAL AND GLOBAL HOLIDAY FLAVORS, Thursday, Dec 6, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, $15. Mazopiya (Food Market & Deli), 2571 Credit Union Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372. Register with payment by Friday Noon, November 30 at 952-233-9140.

Discover, explore and taste fresh, local and global holiday food traditions with new healthy twists. Health Coach Loris Sofia Gregory will demo and share ample samples, recipes and serving ideas for festive appetizers, snacks and meal ideas using fresh plant-based, gluten-free ingredients (and local when possible). Learn what traditional holiday foods and spices have “superfood” qualities, offering peak nutrients with minimal calories, expense and hours in the kitchen. Be inspired by special holiday products and local foods for standout entertaining and appreciative family meals. Take home fresh ideas and healthy recipes for eating well throughout the holidays and beyond. Bring your own favorite healthy holiday recipes to share! 

What’s FRESH & LOCAL in October?

Loris Sofia Gregory, Healthy Kitchen Coach, Apple Valley, MN
Valley Natural Foods, 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville, MN 55337

Imagine the earthy jewel tones and delectable tastes of autumn harvest on your dinner plate. Even after our first frosts, nutrient-dense, calorie-sparse root vegetables deliver a bounty of body-warming energy for the months ahead. Many of the super-healthy hearty fall “greens,” such as chard, the kales and cabbages, Brussels sprouts and beet, collard and mustard greens, taste even better when they are kissed by frost. Cooler temperatures stimulate plant sugar production leading to a touch of sweetness. In addition, October is the month to stock up on sweet or tart FRESH & LOCAL apples. Consider building optimal health while supporting local farmers and growers with October’s plentiful produce.

Sweet Potatoes from Wisconsin Growers and Gardens of Eagan: We generally eat sweet potatoes in the US, not yams that flourish in tropical climates like Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Sweet potatoes have been called the “vegetable indispensable,” with their moist deep orange flesh bursting with vitamins A and C, not to mention low in calories with zero fat. You can’t get much simpler than piercing a sweet potato a few times and baking whole for a satisfying meal or snack. Consider a side of fiber-rich black beans. Cut into fries (skin and all), toss with chili powder and cumin, bake in one layer at 425 degrees until crisp. Salt and pepper lightly and enjoy immediately.

For cooking demos and ample samples of “Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes” and “Tangy Cranberry Salsa with Pumpkin Seeds” plus more seasonal recipes and healthy coaching for easy whole-foods meals, sign up for my “FRESH & LOCAL FLAVORS OF THANKSGIVING class, coming up on Tuesday, Oct 16th. (Register by Friday Noon, October 12: $27 members / $30 non-members. Use coupon code #5130 for $3 off online registration.)

Beets from Harmony Valley: Release any distasteful childhood memories of over-processed, cooked canned beets. As a heart-healthy source of vitamins and nutrients including vitamin C, iron, fiber and antioxidants, we should definitely reconsider beets as our friend, and they are experiencing a renaissance in a range of gorgeous earthy hues. You just might like the milder flavor of golden or the red-and-white striped Chioggia beets. You can bake whole beets along with sweet potatoes until tender. Shred FRESH & LOCAL red cabbage and beets, and stir fry them together with a little balsamic vinegar, sea salt and butter. Don’t forget the beet greens, which are tasty when sautéed with garlic and a little oil. Boost your salads, green smoothies, stir-fries and soups with super beet greens.

More Root Vegetables: The healthy virtues of all root vegetables, also including carrots, celery root (celeriac), daikon and black radishes, kohlrabi, parsnips, purple potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips, are too often overlooked. Solo or in community, there isn’t a root vegetable that doesn’t taste wonderful when roasted. Use a hot oven (425 to 450 degrees) and a large enough pan so the vegetables barely touch each other. If you overcrowd, they will steam rather than roast and you won’t get the delicious caramelized flavors that have even the non-vegetable eaters asking for seconds. Dice vegetables in a uniform size (1/2 to ¾ inch) to cook evenly and quickly. Toss lightly with oil and spread out on an oiled pan. Roast for 20 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice. They will shrink in size, and are done when lightly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper or also drizzle with a little tangy balsamic vinegar.

Apples from Cedar Hill Orchard (Hutchinson) and Mississippi Valley (Elgin): Support “Minnesota Grown” by buying bags or single Haralson, Honeycrisp, McIntosh and Cortland apples now at VNF. Get expert education for using, preserving and storing apples from Minnesota Apple Growers Association. It might not hurt to pick up a few Abdallah (Burnsville) creamy caramel apples or a jug of Sogn Valley (Dennison) apple cider to enjoy while perusing your other options for apple eating and baking. Bring family together at the dinner table this month with the alluring aroma of cinnamon-laced warm baked apples or apple crisp for desert.

Are you ready for inspiring coaching, recipes and support for shopping and eating FRESH & LOCAL month by month? I look forward to meeting you at my additional upcoming events, all hosted in Valley Natural Foods’ Fireside Classroom.

FRESH FALL FILM: “Turn Here Sweet Corn,” Friday, Oct 19, 6-8 pm. (FREE but please register 36 hours ahead online or with VNF Customer Service at 952-891-1212 ext. 221)

SAVE MONEY: TOXINS YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT, Thursday, Nov 1, 6:30-8:30 pm
NEW CLASS in collaboration with ISD 196, $22. Register at least one week ahead at 651-423-7920 or online.

Based in Apple Valley, contact FRESH & LOCAL healthy kitchen coach Loris Sofia Gregory at 952.431.5586 or through this website. Loris would love to collaborate and support you towards eating FRESH & LOCAL and creating your own inspiring healthy kitchen.

What is More Precious Than Our Bodies and Our Homes?

September 27, 2012

“For all of nature is as beautiful as you are. The intertwining of leaves, of the grass, or the wind and of you is the most beautiful of dances. Your worth is priceless and in that priceless vibration you need to embrace all the dreams within your heart…YOU are the destiny of this beauteous planet that you stand upon.” Gillian MacBeth-Louthan
I hope you are taking time to enjoy yourself in the beautiful nuances of autumn. Each season, each day, is precious and fleeting. Do you know anything more precious than our bodies and our homes, including our hopeful hearts harboring our deepest dreams and the most sacred Earth that continues to support our every step? Are you doing all you can to honor, nourish and realize the optimal health of your dreams, your body and your home?
In this time of seeming chaos, we are being called to create easier, simpler lives in alignment with a healthier Earth. All that is stagnant, “clutter” and no longer serves us within our hearts, our bodies and our homes can no longer be sustained. Our divine bodies artfully interlaced with the earth’s body humbly serve as our only irreplaceable home. As Carl Sagan insightfully noted over a decade ago, “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusions that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”  

The only way to be fully nourished, energized and dance our heart’s desires with wild abandon is to create space within and around us. Welcoming greater health, more peaceful relationships and meaningful opportunities into our lives means perpetually letting  go of all that is no longer necessary and not supporting our health. And all that is BEAUTIFUL NECESSITY: CREATING HEALTHY SOULFUL SPACES also supports our Earth. We are truly inseparable divine co-creators with ourselves, our families, our communities and across our big blue globe.
In support of Beautiful Necessity earth-friendly clearing and cleaning all around us, I offer SPECIAL FALL RATES of $25/hour  for any of my services booked through OCTOBER 30, including:
(detoxing your life and all coaching services by phone or in-person)
Please review this flyer for further inspiration including testimonies from satisfied customers,  and discover more on my website.
A GREAT WAY TO RECEIVE FREE COACHING SERVICES is to organize a gathering of friends and family for an interactive fun coaching class in your kitchen, home, workplace or other community spot. Be inspired by my new topics below or by anything described on my website. Five participants is the minimum, with $10 to $25/participant for a two-hour class, depending on the total number. The greater the collaboration, the greater the healthy benefits!