Enjoy Good Food and Good Luck!

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Yippee! It is 2016!!! Time to celebrate with delicious food that loves us back! As I have written about before, greens and beans are well known for bringing good luck and prosperity for the New Year! So, let’s get started with a recipe that one of my NUTRI 300 students, Morgan Epperson, “accidentally” invented – by “throwing a few things together.” While it may look simple, Morgan outdid herself! Not only does her recipe include beans and greens, but you’ll see mushrooms, citrus, nuts, flax and chia – all extremely POWERFUL health-promoters that work so well together! When she shared her recipe with me, I got busy developing a dressing that would complement it and we were both very happy with the results. I had some very ripe persimmons on hand, but I also provide several other options, if you don’t have any left. Once your plate is in front of you, admire it, then take a few deep breaths and enjoy every single bite!!!

Morgan has a very interesting story to tell, one to which many of you may be able to relate. In her own words…

Initially, I did not want to go on a plant-based diet with my family. When my dad first told me how he and my mother were going to be participating in this three-week plant-based diet challenge that Kaiser Permanente was doing, I grimaced, rolled my eyes, and sighed. I am a very stubborn person and change was not something I enjoyed, even if it was only for three weeks. Another issue was that I liked to eat. I never liked having limitations on what I ate and I never gave a second thought to what it was doing to my body. Reluctantly, I agreed to do this challenge with my parents, since my mother had told me it would be beneficial to our health, and I knew my family didn’t usually make the healthiest choices when it came to eating. All three of us were overweight and didn’t exercise nearly as much as we needed to. We had followed diets before, but always ended with little results that were temporary, as the weight would eventually come creeping back.

We started eating vegan on August 24th, which coincidentally was the first day my classes started for the fall semester. I had originally enrolled in Professor Hagenburger’s nutrition class solely as a general education requirement. I figured I’d learn a thing or two, but overall it would just be part of my ultimate process of “getting things done” education-wise. I had no idea how much these things in my life would begin to intersect and how much more I would learn! Within weeks of learning about all of the real benefits of eating plant-based, I knew there was no way I was going to go back to eating meat or dairy again! I was relieved to know that my mother felt the same way and that she wanted to continue eating plant-based as well. My father was skeptical, but he agreed, since he felt so much better! Since we changed our diet, we’ve had more energy, didn’t feel as bogged down after meals, and were feeling fuller faster after eating delicious, plant-based meals that were chock-full of fiber and other amazing nutrients. It all just goes to show that you don’t have to sacrifice good taste to eat healthy when you can easily make food that tastes great and is good for your body, too!

Morgan’s Spinach and Kale Salad (makes 4-5 servings)

Ingredients
3 cups baby spinach
3 cups chopped curly kale
1-2 cups kidney beans (cooked from dry or canned, rinsed and drained)
1-2 cups white mushrooms
2 mandarin oranges
½ cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
Drizzle of the Lemon Persimmon* Dressing

Procedure
Rinse the spinach and kale thoroughly. Then, chop and de-stem the kale, slice the white mushrooms, and peel the mandarin oranges, separating them into individual wedges (cut into bite sized pieces, if large). Toss the spinach, kale, mushrooms, orange wedges, kidney beans and chopped pecans in a large bowl. Add the ground flax seeds (coffee grinder works great), chia seeds, and serve with your favorite oil-free plant-based dressing. (see recipe below). Feel free to add any other vegetables to the dish if you choose. (Kale stems can be chopped very small and added to the salad or as part of the base of any soup or stir-fry recipe.)

Timaree’s Lemon Persimmon* Dressing (makes ~3-3.5 cups)

Ingredients
3 small, ripe Fuyu persimmons* (see alternatives below)
2 Meyer lemons with zest
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon soy sauce mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup water
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ginger, powdered (or ½ tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chia seeds

The Nutrition Professor’s Cook Smart Tip: *If you don’t have access to ripe Fuyu persimmons, you can use ~1.5 – 2 cups of ripe pear/apple/apricots (unpeeled, just remove core/pit), papaya, pineapple or mango (frozen works well – may want to thaw before blending).

Procedure
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender until creamy! Will keep well in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the back of the fridge for at least 5-7 days.

If you would like to make wonderful homemade dressings like this one, all year round, and never run out of combinations to try, be sure to get your copy of The Foodie Bar Way at www.foodiebars.com

Timaree Hagenburger, a registered dietitian and certified exercise physiologist with a master’s degree in public health, is thrilled to work with students like Morgan, as a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College. Timaree also conducts corporate wellness work, has a regular segment on California Bountiful TV and published her first cookbook – The Foodie Bar Way: One meal. Lots of options. Everyone’s happy. Available at www.FoodieBars.com

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