Spring Detox? Here are the top 5 herbs

by Yuri Murakami, naturopathic doctor

Doing a gentle detoxification (detox) is a helpful way to recover the body’s vitality, especially the people with chronic disease like sinus congestion, mild allergy, fatigue, over weight, and so on. It can also help to prevent further worsening of the condition.

There are many ways and school of thoughts to do detox, but the very basics are the same. First step is to avoid the toxins that go into the body by eating healthy food for example, and second is to support the body to eliminate toxins efficiently.

Many herbs can be used to help the body effectively removing toxins and here are Top 5 common herbs for the detox.

fern-1429164-m1. Dandelion
Both root and leaves of dandelion can be used for the purpose of detox. Root is an excellent supporter for the liver to heal, protects from the damage and also stimulates the bile flow to improve digestion and weight loss by removing toxins. Leaves can be eaten as salad or lightly steamed. It is high in potassium, and is a good diuretic to support the kidneys.

2. Schizandra
Schizandra berries are one of the multi tasking herbs that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for ages. this herb supports all the pathways (Phase 1 & 2) for the liver detox. It has been used to treat in severe liver issue by normalize liver enzymes and regenerating the liver. It can be also used to adapt to stress easily by increasing endurance. Schizandra is also high in vitamin C and E to fight the free raicals.

3. Milk thistle 
This herb is well known for benefiting the liver, but it also helps the spleen, kidneys and digestion. There are a number of studies have done on the milk thistle and its therapeutic use. The most amazing fact about this herb is its ability to protect the liver such from chemotherapy, free radicals, heavy metals to name a few. It also help to regenerate the liver, and able to increase glutathione level in the body by 35%! 

4. Turmeric
Turmeric is another powerful liver detox herb and also known as a anti-inflammatory herb used commonly in treating jaundice, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBD. It has been also getting attention on its anti-cancer effect. It is a bitter in taste which stimulate both digestion and the gallbladder function. There are number of both traditional and new recipes that you can enjoy turmeric more in your food!

5. Marigold Flower
This beautiful orange flower is like a sunshine in the early spring melting down the snow. The main action is de-congesting lymphatic system and liver by removing toxins and inflammation. It is also a healer for the heart, skin, uterus, and veins.

We have a special herbal tea blend, “Rainbow Detox” that includes some of the herbs above and supports a variety of organs  for safe toxin removal available at our naturopathic clinic in Danforth, Toronto for $10. Contact us for the purchasing detail: yuri@yurisvillage.com or 416-466-5773

Refreshing Summer Smoothies & Juices

Summer is a great time to increase some raw food in your diet. You don’t have to go completely raw, but at least try to have one meal raw to start. Refreshing summer smoothies is a great start!

 Glass With JuiceJuice and Smoothies can be a refreshing raw breakfast or snacks to clench your thirst while nourishing your body with vitamins & minerals. Most of the commercially prepared one are, unfortunately, not recommended. The good news is, making juice and smoothies are simple and fun! You can prepare the fruits and vegetables for children and they can have fun with making own combination. Children can benefit homemade juice without added sugar to regain the taste buds, too.

Here are some recipes with focus on summer vegetables and fruits to inspire you this summer!

Recipes (2 servings)

All listed here are just ingredients. Use juicer to make juice and powerful blender to make smoothies.

1) Cooling Smoothie & Juice

  • Hydration Juice: 6 cups of watermelon (cubed, remove seeds), 1 English cucumber (cut in few pieces), and 1 fresh lime without peel
  • Hawaiian Sunshine: 1 cup pineapple (cubed), 1 cup mango (pealed, without pit), 1/2 cup coconut water, and 1 orange without peel

2) Weight Loss  Juice

  • Green Diuretic & Detox: 2 green apples (cored), 1 stalk celery, 1/2 cucumber, 1 cup ice, 1/2 lemon without peel, handful of parsley spinach, kale,  and lettuce
  • Pink Lemonade: 2 pink grapefruits, 1 cucumber, 1 cup coconut water, 1 lemon without skin

3) Protein Rich Smoothies

  • Banana Strawberry Almond Cream: 1 ripe banana, 1 cup strawberry, 1 cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 tbsp almond flour(powdered almond), 1 cup plain yogurt, and 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Avocado, Mango & Green: 1 avocado (peeled and without pit), 2 mangoes (peeled and without pit), 1 cup spinach, 1/2 pain Greek yogurt, 1 lime without skin

 

Hypoallergenic: Rhubarb “Tomato” Sauce

Most of us know all of the vegetables are good for you, but not all of us know that some vegetables can have  a negative effect especially if you suffer from aches and pains. There is a specific vegetable group call nightshades (Solanaceae in Latin) that contains toxic substance, solanine.  You may have or have not heard […]

Soffritto – An Instant Aromatic Soup Stock

I learned Soffritto from a Japanese chef, who are trained in Italian Food (her blog, Chisa’s Pastry, in Japanese). Ever since she told me how to make soffritto, this has been my favourite thing to use for soups. Soffritto is a sauteed aromatic vegetables originated in Italian cuisine (and similar things exist in many European cuisine with different name). It can be used as a base of a variety of meal such like soup, stew, source, and casserol.

home-cooking-765656-mWhile she taught me the traditional style, I tend to add a few more aromatic vegetables to give extra taste and nutrients. So in this recipe, I will write the traditional recipe and also my extra vegetable version.

As I mentioned, I like using soffritto for the base of the soup instead of vegetable stock especially when I am making vegetarian or vegan soup. It gives gentle sweetness and delicate yet rich taste that you cannot achieve with regular vegetable stock. A great tip for soffritto is always make it in a large quantity, and freeze in smaller portion for using it later. When you have this in freezer, it makes your dish to be flavourful instantly!

If you have a food processor, then soffritto is so easy to make!

Ingredients for the Basic Soffritto (for 4 servings of Soup)

  • 2 medium Onion
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

Direction: chop all the vegetables finely or use food processor to make them into fine pieces (finer pieces are much easier to use for sauce). In a pan, place the olive oil and add all the vegetables, salt and pepper and gently saute in low medium heat. Cover the top to help the vegetables not to dry out, mix occasionally  and continue saute until all are soft, melting, golden colour. (note: Try not to brown the vegetables)

Extra Vegetable Soffritto (for 4 servings of Soup)

  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 stalk of Celery
  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 leaves of Cabbage
  • a handful Parsley
  • 1/2 medium Parsnip
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

Direction is same as above.

When you use soffritto, you can simply use this as a replacement of any “onion” in the ingredients (such like for soup, pasta sauce, risotto, chili, etc). Check my Rhubarb “Tomato” Sauce for one idea of using soffritto.

Gluten Free Breton Crêpe

My husband is from Brittany in France, where many of known foods and desserts are originated from.  Among them, crêpe is I believe the most well known one. In their region, crêpe is not just a breakfast/brunch food with a lot of sweet things on, but they use crêpe like a tortilla or roti, and just wrap anything (from seafood, pork sausages, to all kind of cheese!) and eat as a meal. They also use buckwheat flour as a main part of the crêpe batter which is a great option as a *gluten-free menu!

imageThere is something about crêpe that makes all of us feel happy and special. Even for children who are doing gluten-free menu, this is a good idea to feel not being limited in their diet option. Once I made crêpes for our daughter’s birthday party, although she was still too young to eat crêpe, all the guests enjoyed them! 

The key to make crêpe to be a healthy meal, choose the topping wisely! You can have things like fresh salad with smoked salmon, grilled vegetables with chicken, sautéed mushroom, spinach with cheese, nut butter with fresh fruits etc to make it complete and nutritious. 

*Note: Buckwheat can be processed in a same facility where they process gluten containing flour. To be completely gluten free, choose the one it has the label with gluten free certificate. Also please note that some people are sensitive to buckwheat itself.

Ingredients (4-6 crêpes):

  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 oz milk of your choice
  • 4 ounces buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbsp tapioca or arrowroot starch (or non- GM corn starch) — this is to bind the flour well and make crêpe much more easy to wrap without breaking
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (you can also use coconut oil, ghee or olive oil) 

Direction:

Beat the eggs well, add milk and whisk well. Add the buckwheat flour, tapioca starch and salt, whisk them together fully (since this is gluten-free, mixing well does not make the batter stickier!). Let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours or so. 

Cooking the crêpes:

Set a large cast-iron skillet over low heat and slowly bring it up to medium-high heat. Whisk the butter fully again to make the batter to mix all well. Put some of the butter in the hot skillet. When the oil has melted, swirl in some of the crêpe batter. Tilt the skillet back and forth until the batter covers the entire surface. When the edges are set and starting to curl up from the pan, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, run a metal spatula under all the edges of the crêpe. Flip the crêpe. Cook for 30 seconds then turn the crêpe out onto a cutting board or plate.

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This crêpe batter recipe is modified version of recipe from Gluten-Free-Girl and Chef. She has a quite a nice writing about the ratio for crêpe batter. With this you can experiment with different type of flour (like mix of quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, coconut or almond) to make your own special crêpe! I have not tried raw buckwheat flour yet in this recipe, but sounds like a fun things to try next time!

Sweet Carrot Crunch Salad

by Leena Athparia, ND.
carrot-top-706402-m

It can be challenging incorporating salads in the winter, when we feel like hot foods.  Nonetheless, vegetables are important to add into the diet and a portion of raw food can help provide enzymes, fibre and nutritients we need that sometimes get reduced by cooking. Root vegetable salads are a perfect addition to the meal especially during the colder months with carrots, pumpkin, beets.

In Ayurvedic medicine, all the different tastes are combined into a meal, including some sweet. When we incorporate a natural sweet into the meal, you won’t crave a sweet dessert afterwards. For people that crave sweets, this is perfect !

Tip:
Always best to serve the salad at room temperature (not straight out of the fridge which is too cold). try taking the ingredients out of the fridge a few hours before you prepare the salad.For people who have colder constitutions, increase the ginger & pepper.  This will help warm you up since it reduces the cooling effect of raw food!
IngredientsSalad:

  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1 medium Apple
  • 1/2 cup Chopped pineapple (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Grated coconut (fresh is best – or dry organic)
  • 1/4 cup Dates
  • 1/4 cup Roasted peanuts (or almonds or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/4 cup Roasted or raw sesame seeds

Dressing:

  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Lemon (juice of)
  • 1-2 tbsp Honey (raw, unpasteurized)
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper, coarsely ground, to taste
  • Grated ginger (optional)

Preparation Method:Salad:

  • Wash the carrot, peel, and finely chop it.
  • Wash the apple and chop it into small squares.
  • Chop the peanuts and dates into small pieces. Mix them with the chopped carrot, apple, and pineapple, together with some grated coconut, and roasted sesame seeds.

Dressing:

  • Juice the orange and lemon or lime.
  • In a small glass bowl, whisk together the orange and lemon/lime juices, honey, salt, and pepper.
  • Holding the measuring cup of olive oil about 30 cm above the bowl, pour the oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly.

Pour the dressing on the salad ingredients, mix well, and serve.

Raw Dessert: Cacao Berry Pie with Almond Cream

My friend offered her special raw dessert with a lot of fresh fruits at the evening of Spring Equinox. It was so refreshing just like the spring air, and I was inspired to make one too! Raw dessert with fresh fruits is almost like a smoothie, so it is a great snack, or can be a breakfast! This recipe is a combined with nutty almond cream and fresh berries. It is also a gluten-free (want to know more about gluten? Come to the workshop on Wed.Apr.17th! Information below) dessert!

Cacao Berry Pie with Almond Cream
note: pre-saok all nuts 6-8 hours

1) Crust Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Crust Directions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until they bind well together to reach your desirable crunchiness. Press flat into a 9? cake pan and place in the fridge to set.

2) Almond Cream Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 -2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Almond Cream Directions

Combine all but the chopped almonds, into a food processor until all are creamy & smooth. Fold in the chopped almonds. Spread a thick, even layer of the cream on the crust layer above. Chill in the freezer for a few hours, or until the cream is firm enough to spread the next layer on top.

3) Cacao Berry Topping Ingredients
  • 100g Blueberries & Blackberries (or berry of your choice!)
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 2 Ripe Mangoes
  • Blueberries & Blackberries for garnish
Cacao Berry Topping Directions

Combine blueberries, blackberries, cacao powder and mango into a food processor until smooth. Pour over on almond cream layer above. Garnish with fresh blueberries and blackberries. Refrigerate until set and serve.

Almond Cream Recipe came from “We Like It Raw” site: click here

Gluten Free & Vegan Finger Food: Quinoa Balls

December is a social season for most of cultures. I am sure you have many invitations to the gatherings and parties. I am introducing this recipe for people looking for gluten free & vegan finger food to bring to the potluck or for your party!

Idea is from Quinoa burger, and we are now making it in mini size, just like meat balls. It’s nutty and crispy outside and I made this nutty, crispy appetizer for a big party and both kids and adults really enjoy this “Quinoa Balls”!

Enjoy the festivity!

Ingredients (about 40 balls) :

  • 1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa (well cooked side to make it stick together)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, minced in food processor (combination of brown/white and Portobello)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp flax meal (ground flax seeds) or any alternative flour (buckwheat, chick pea etc) to bind
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • sea salt & black pepper for taste

Direction:

Combine the quinoa, mushroom, shallot, and parsley in a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil, flax meal and all the spices in to the bowl and stir well. Let sit for a few minutes so the flax meal can absorb some of the moisture.  Make small balls in 1-2 bite size, about 1 to 1.5 inch diameter (if it does not hold together, add some more flax meal), place on baking sheet (put little olive oil on the sheet).

Preheat the oven at 400F and bake the quinoa ball for 10-15min until all sides are golden.

Serve with Tahini Sauce (below) or Greek style plain yogurt for non-vegan.

Tahini Sauce

 Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp Tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (high quality extra virgin would be better)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chive as a garnish

Direction: Combine all the ingredients except chive, whisk together for a few minuets until the source is smooth. garnish with chive.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

I came across this type of beets & goat cheese salad a few times at the restaurants, and each time I did enjoyed them! The combination of the sweetness of beets and creamy goat cheese is simply great! So I decided to enjoy it at home too! In this salad, I also added maple syrup coated walnuts to give another layer of flavour.

In this season, you can make this salad easily at home with all local ingredients in Ontario. It is quite simple to make but the richness of the colours makes it to be quite gorgeous on the table.  Thanks to the blessings of the mother earth.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 medium beets – you can use different colours, too!
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 handfuls of your choice of greens (mixed green, baby spinach, arugula, dandelion green etc)
  • Chèvre (soft, fresh type of Goat cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • dash of sea salt and black pepper

Direction:

1. Wash and remove stems and ends from beets and place in a saucepan of water and bring to a boil. Cook on boil for 40 to 60 minutes, until you can stick fork or knife through beets easily. After cooling, remove skin and cut into thin slices.

2. Place the walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat to toast. When walnuts are heated up and starting to have a nutty smell,  stir in the maple syrup and pinch of sea salt. Stir well until walnuts are evenly coated, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and sea salt and black pepper to make the dressing.

4. Toss greens in a big bowl with the candied walnuts and beets then top with goat cheese. You can drizzle the dressing on each plate separately or toss with the spinach before adding other ingredients.

Vegan Vichysoisse: Cold Potato & Leek Soup

Cold soup on a summer day can be a refreshing appetizer for a BBQ or a garden party! Using a new potato will add a mild sweetness to the taste. 

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium leeks, slice thinly
  • 4 medium potato or 6 new potato, cut in small cubes
  • 2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk (or 1 cup of other milk substitute)
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • sea salt, black pepper, and nutmeg for taste
  • chive, chopped for garnish
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the coconut oil in low-medium heat. Add the leeks and a little pinch of sea salt, saute until leeks sweat for about 5 to 10 minutes, careful not to change the colour of leaks to brownish. Add the potato cubes, cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook at a low simmer on low heat for about 1/2 an hour, until the leeks and potato are very soft. Allow to cool for a few minutes before the next step.

Using a blender or food processor, very carefully puree the soup in small batches. Return to the cooking pot, whisk in coconut milk, nutmeg and taragon. Add the sea salt and pepper. Return to a boil, turn down and simmer for 5 minutes. If it’s too thick, add a little more stock to thin it out. Then let cool and refrigerate. Serve topped with chives.