Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Before you pour the coffee, pour some water and squeeze a lemon!

With the change of seasons and transition into spring, I have been waking up feeling my body's need for cleanse and transition. Every yoga class I have done in the past week or so, I have set the intention of moving stuck energy through my body as we transition to spring. Some of it seems to be from all the training, but some of it is from winter stiffness that has accumulated. Each morning I have been craving drinking water with lemon in it. I have known the benefits of drinking lemon water for quite some time now, but I have rarely practiced it. Until now. I have been waking up every morning and squeezing 1/2 lemon into a room temperature glass of water. It has been an easy and great way to start the morning feeling cleansed and energized.

Benefits of lemon water:

-stimulate the liver, loosen toxins in the body and cleanse the body of impurities
-helps dissolve uric acid which can be cause of pain and inflammation in joints
-assists in digestion and elimination by stimulating the GI tract
-balances the body's pH- it is an alkalizing food that balances out an acidic environment creating a  strong, healthy body more resistant to disease, flu, sickness, viruses and bacteria
-antibacterial properties which control unhealthy bacteria

For a quick, easy way to improve your health and energy, start your day by drinking a fresh squeezed glass of lemon water. Then reach for the cup of coffee... if you must :). 

Monday, April 2, 2012

French Lentils with Beets and Beet Greens

I Instagram-ed a picture of my french lentils with beets and beet greens last week, so I thought I would post the easy recipe! It is a great way to use the whole beet to get the full powerful nutrient content of the vegetable. It is also an easy way to incorporate a different leafy green into your diet, that you might not typically eat. Don't throw out those beet greens and all their wonderful nutrients- eat them!

French Lentils with Beets and Beet Greens

1 cup French Lentils
3 large beets or 4 small-medium beets (I used golden beets, but red beets would be great too!)
3 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion
1/2 lemon 
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt to taste

1. Soak the lentils in water for 8 hours. If you don't have the time to soak for that long, soak for as long as possible since you will greatly increase the nutrient benefits. Soaking lentils increases the digestibility and increases the absorption of the vitamins and minerals. The soaking deactivates the enzyme inhibitors and the phytic acid found in the lentils. 

2. Cut off the beet greens and add the beets to a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beets. Add some lemon juice to the water to prevent the beets from bleeding. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 40- 45 minutes.

3. Fill another saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1 cup of the drained and rinsed lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer until tender, but not too soft. This is about 20 minutes.
4. In a skillet, add a tbsp of olive oil and sautee the chopped onion and garlic on medium heat until soft- bout 3 minutes. 
5. Chop the beet greens and add to the skillet with the onion and garlic. Cook for a about 2 minutes. 
6. Drain the lentils and add to the skillet with the onion, garlic and beet greens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on a low heat stirring occasionally. 

7. Drain beets and rinse with cold water. Use your hands to peel the skin off. It should come off pretty easily.
8. Chop beets and serve on top of lentil mixture. Stir in the other tbsp of olive oil and taste to see if more salt or pepper is needed.

If using golden beets, they will absorb the brown color of the french lentils if they sit too long, so serve immediately.
However, if you use red beets or don't mind the color change- this dish was fabulous left overs. I put some in my salad for lunch the next day.

Nutritional Benefits of Beets and Beet Greens:

I'm a full believer that foods work synergistically and the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. So together the beets and the beet greens are a powerhouse that fully nourishes your body. 

-The beet root is rich in Betalains that have shown to have very powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and  detoxification properties. Betalains trigger activity of the enzymes that hook toxins up with the compound that neutralizes them and excretes them from the body, thus aiding in the body's detox process. 
-High in Vitamin A and C: Both these vitamins are important for a healthy immune system. This is especially important to bolster up that immune system as your training volume and intensity increases this spring.
-Rich in: