5 Simple Ways to Clean Up Your Diet

Eating healthy doesn’t have to take all of your time and effort.  Here are 5 easy tricks to sneak into your diet, and believe me, you’ll want to keep them there for good!

  1.  You perhaps may be one of many who have made the resolution to eat healthier for the New Year, and salads are a great way to do so.  With best intentions, you could unknowingly be hampering your efforts by using store bought dressing.  Why?  Most commercial salad dressings contain plenty of unnecessary and unneeded ingredients which can be harming to your health.  Here are just a few common ingredients and why you should avoid them:
  • Poor quality oils: The bulk of oils used in most commercial salad dressings are coming from genetically engineered canola or soy, and have been processed and refined to the point of turning them into unhealthy fats.
  • White sugar or high fructose corn syrup: imbalances blood sugar levels, depletes nutrients in the body and encourages weight gain.  We don’t need the extra sugar!
  • Chemicals, preservatives, and artificial flavorings:  The list is too long to mention here, but do we really need titanium dioxide or xantham gum in our lovely greens?  Even in small amounts these chemicals have shown to be detrimental to health.

That’s not to say that there are not some decent organic dressings on the shelves, but even so you can’t beat homemade.  Here are a few simple recipes for homemade dressings to get you started.   

Basic Vinaigrette

Lemon & Anchovy Dressing

  1.  What’s your pH?  If you are eating along the lines of the SAD (standard American Diet), probably acidic.  Coffee, heavy meats, alcohol, dairy, sugar, white flour, processed foods all create acidity in the body.  Acidic environments are the perfect breeding grounds of disease.  Achieving more of an alkaline balance is done by eating more greens, fruits, pure water, lean proteins.  Here is one step you can do to improve your body’s alkalinity everyday.  

Alkalinize by drinking hot water with lemon every morning.  Love that cup of coffee in the morning?  Me too! But how about balancing the acidity of the coffee by drinking hot water with lemon?  Do it everyday, and you’ll be thanking yourself for your new healthy glow!

  1.   Drink more water.  (I know, like you haven’t heard this one before).  You should be drinking about half your body weight in ounces, per day.  Heavy work-outs got you sweating? Then you need to drink more on top of that.  You do the math!  Carry a water bottle wherever you go to ensure you get your fill.
  2.  Try sourdough bread instead of yeast-containing breads.  Sourdough bread rises due to a long fermentation process.  During this process, the gluten is broken down into amino acids which makes the bread more digestible, even those gluten-sensitive have found they are able to tolerate sourdough.  Sourdough bread contains in the good bacteria lactobacillus, which helps to break down the hard to digest phytic acid in the grain, and also increases the absorption of minerals because of its positive effect on the gut flora.  Lucky for us in the Berkshires, we have Berkshire Mountain Bakery in our backyard which honors this ancient tradition of making sourdough bread.
  3.  Shop the perimeter of the store.  The middle aisles are where we get into trouble with processed and refined foods.  Stick to the fresh produce, meat, dairy sections for most of your shopping needs.  Try reducing your toxic load by buying organic meats and dairy.  You don’t have to buy all organic, just be savvy.  Check out the ‘clean 15’ for a list of produce that are okay to buy conventional.  



BasicVinaigrette

Basic Vinaigrette

Everyone needs that one ‘go-to’ recipe to make a fast and delicious salad on the fly.  This is mine.  It’s a recipe that my French mother-in-law handed down to me, it is a typical French Vinaigrette.  The first time I went to France, I fell in love with having a salad at the end of each meal because of this dressing.  It cleansed the palate and ended the meal on a light, fresh note.  
BasicVinaigrette basicvinaigrettepour

Everyday Vinaigrette
A Simple Vinaigrette you can use on your everyday salad. Make it in bulk to keep in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tbs of dijon mustard
  2. 1 tbs balsamic vinaigrette
  3. 3 tbs olive oil
  4. S&P to taste.
Instructions
  1. Add dijon mustard and balsamic vinaigrette and whisk until all incorporated.
  2. Slowly add in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time.
  3. Whisk together until creamy.
  4. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Notes
  1. As I make this on a almost daily basis, I have swapped the measuring spoons for a wooden spoon and use the same 1:1:3 ratio of ingredients.
Molly Bea http://www.mollybea.com/

Lemon & Anchovy Dressing

I have a tendency to become obsessed with certain foods.  When I discovered the Irish Kerrygold butter you would have thought I won the lottery, so much joy from such a simple thing!  A year later, Kerrygold and I are still going strong.  But anchovy’s are my “it” food right now.  Not only are they packed with healthy Omega-3 fats, they add a subtle yet powerful flavor to anything you add it to.  They are wonderful in salads, I love this simply with romaine and shaved parmesan cheese.

This dressing is indispensable.  Keep in fridge for the week to drizzle on romaine for a cleaner Caeser dressing, or drizzle on sautéed greens or grilled meats.

Lemon & Anchovy Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. 7 anchovy filets
  2. juice of one lemon
  3. ¾ cup olive oil
  4. Black pepper
  5. Salt (optional depending on saltiness of anchovy)
  6. blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Molly Bea http://www.mollybea.com/

 

 

A Frenchman in the kitchen, Beef Bourguignon

Beefbourguignon

Stephane is making his debut on the blog today bringing us a classic French recipe, beef bourguignon.  He tells me that it’s called bourguignon because of the Burgundy wine that it is traditionally cooked with.  Once considered a peasant meal because of the method of tenderizing otherwise tough meat in red wine, it has become a staple of French cuisine.  As Julia Child puts it, “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man”. Voila, enough said.  

Miseneplace

One of the many things I’ve learned from Stephane in regards to French cuisine, (and all cuisine for that matter) is that the method in which you cook is the single most important thing you do to ensure your dish comes out well.  Like browning the meat before roasting, or properly deglazing a sautée pan, or how to  chop, mince, and carve your ingredients according to the dish you are preparing.  All basic steps, but oh so important.  And this dish is no exception.  The steps are all laid out for you in the recipe card below. 

potatoes

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butternutsquashsaladbowl

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Salad

Yeah!!!!  It’s Fall and what’s not to be happy about?  Other than the slight reminder that winter is right around the corner, but that can’t change the fact that…..1). It’s absolutely gorgeous around here.  2.) It’s back to making soups all the time.  3.) Pheasant and woodcock season has begun, which means bliss for our GSP and my husband who are actively stocking up for the winter.  4.) It’s time for roasting and slow-cooking all those vegetables we forgot about all summer  5.) It means pulling out all our cozy, chunky sweaters again. Shall I go on?  I think you get the gist…. 

butternutwhole

‘Tis the season of squash and there are a great many things to be done with these starchy friends but I love the sweetness derived from roasting them.  While heat can diminish the nutritive value of some vegetables, fear not!  Roasting maintains a great deal of the vegetable’s nutrients, especially when you use a good quality oil like extra virgin olive oil.

 butternutsquashsaladbowl

This is a super simple recipe that can be made even easier by buying pre-cut butternut squash, or marinating the onions the day before.  Otherwise it’s a throw-together that is substantial enough as a meal of it’s own or as a side. 

butternutsquash

You can also use any greens here so feel free to play around.  Baby spinach would be a nice substitute.   I personally like to add the squash while still warm from the oven, so that the salad wilts just a bit, especially during the colder months.

butternutsquashplate

 Happy fall, I hope you’ve had a chance to jump in some leaves.

Ciao for now,

Molly Bea

Roasted Butternut Squash, Marinated Red Onions and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salad
Serves 6
The sweetness of the squash tossed with marinated red onions and toasted pumpkin seeds is the perfect fall combination!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 1 inch cubes
  2. 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  3. 2 Tbs mustard seed grain
  4. 1/3 cup olive oil
  5. 2 Tbs maple syrup
  6. Enough mixed greens to make it a "salad" (spinach would work nicely as well, or baby kale)
  7. 1 Red onion, thinly sliced
  8. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  9. heavy pinch of salt and pepper
  10. Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
  11. ......................................
  12. For the Vinaigrette
  13. 1 Tbs dijon mustard
  14. 1/3 cup olive oil
  15. Mix with vinegar leftover from red onion mixture
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 on roast setting if possible.
  2. Toss the cubed butternut squash in a bowl with olive oil, mustard seeds, maple syrup and salt and pepper. Coat well.
  3. Transfer to a lined parchment paper baking sheet, spreading evenly and place in oven.
  4. Let roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing occasionally to ensure equal cooking.
  5. At the same time on a separate baking dish, roast raw pumpkin seeds for 10-12 min.
  6. Meanwhile, let sliced onion marinate in 1/4 cup red wine vinegar for up to 5 hours, the longer the better.
  7. Prepare your vinaigrette, I like to do this right in the bowl that I will be using to serve the salad.
  8. Mix mustard and a couple teaspoons from the vinegar from the onions until blended, slowly add olive oil and mix well.
  9. Once squash and pumpkin seeds have roasted, remove and add to greens (if you wanted a warmer salad, add immediately, otherwise you can wait for it all to cool)
  10. Drain red onions and add to salad.
  11. Add crumbled goat cheese if using.
  12. Toss until well coated.
Notes
  1. Depending on how much squash you want in your salad, you may have extra.
  2. I let my red onions marinate for 5 hours which makes them a bit sweeter and less tangy.
Molly Bea http://www.mollybea.com/