Kale is considered to be the king of all vegetables.  It is packed full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  It has many anti-inflammatory properties that help with diseases like arthritis and other auto-immune disorders.  All leafy green vegetables are very detoxifying for the liver and digestive system.  Packed with fibre, this healthy vegetable will help to promote regular elimination as well.  

The pumpkin seeds in this salad are an excellent source of healthy fats will provide your body with a good source of omega 3's that it requires on a daily basis.  The more that we eat healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil, the more that we won't binge on unhealthy fats.  The carrots in this salad are a great source of anti-oxidants which help to reduce 

Kale and Carrot Salad
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup craisins
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

Honey Lemon Dressing
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon 
1 tbsp raw honey
Pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper

Steam the kale for about 5 minutes then leave out to cool.  Mix in the other ingredients and toss with the blended dressing.  Enjoy!
Sesame flavours can transform a bland dish into a very tasty one!  When using sesame flavours, some suggested additions are soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lime and honey.  Start by cutting up lots of fresh vegetables.  In this case, I used carrots, red onion, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, green beans, red cabbage and cauliflower.  Cook the vegetables in garlic and ginger that have been lighted sauteed in sesame oil.  Once the vegetables have cooked for a few minutes, add a few pinches of sesame seeds.  

I find that sauces are the best when they're blended separately.  Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, lime and honey together.  Add it periodically during the cooking process.  In the meantime, cook the brown rice separately then add it in towards the end.  If you have time beforehand, soak the rice in water.  This helps to improve rates of digestion.  It minimizes phytic acid which surrounds grains as a protective measure in nature but can inhibit mineral absorption in our bodies. 

Sesame Cauliflower and Broccoli Dish
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3/4 cup green beans, halved 
1 head broccoli, chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
Handful of bean sprouts

Sesame Ginger Sauce
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp ginger
1 fresh squeezed lime
1 tbsp raw honey
1/3 cup sesame oil
3 tbsp tamari (organic soy sauce)

Blend the sauce ingredients and set aside.  Saute the vegetables until they are cooked, yet still slightly firm.  Periodically add in small amounts of the sauce.  Add in the brown rice and seeds at the end and add the remainder of the sauce.  Top with bean sprouts.  Enjoy!

This is a great dish to bring lots of nutrients into your diet.  It has a healthy balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats.  It's also delicious too!  I used the vegetables I had on hand but feel free to use what you prefer.  Make sure to add the kale in though because it's one of the vegetables that we never get enough of.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and is often referred to as the "king of vegetables".  

Cannellini beans are large white beans with a firm texture and nutty flavour.  They are also one of the least glycemic beans.  The glycemic index rates foods based on how they affect blood sugar levels.  When you eat foods high on the glycemic index (potatoes, white bread and sugary snacks or cereals), your blood sugar levels will be sent up in a hurry.  After peaking, the blood sugar will drop dramatically.  This volatility in blood sugar levels has been linked to diabetes, lack of energy, mood swings and hypertension.  

Coconut Cannellini with Brown Rice
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped 
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 butternut squash, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 can coconut milk
2 cups cooked brown rice
Sea salt to taste 

Cook the garlic and ginger in coconut oil for about 3 minutes then begin to add the spice and onion.  Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes then begin to add the other vegetables. Add in the coconut milk after the vegetables have softened.  Simmer for about 5 more minutes then serve over brown rice.  Enjoy!

During the summer months, it's nice to enjoy lighter meals throughout the day.  When the temperature rises, our desire to eat heavy meals usually decreases.  Pay attention to what your body truly wants.  A focus on fresh fruits and vegetables is always a good choice. 

This salad is a combination of fruit and vegetables.  Mangos are high in antioxidants, which help to prevent a wide range of diseases and illnesses.  They can also be helpful in clearing clogged pores and boosting the immune system.  Mangos are delicious on their own, in a smoothie or in a light salad like this.  Mix them with vegetables that don't have a strong taste such as spinach, mixed greens and cucumbers.  For the sweetness, I added dried cranberries.  This will help to prevent sugar cravings later on in the day.  Cashews are an excellent source of healthy fats.  They have cardio-protective benefits as the magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure. 

Mango Cashew Salad

2 cups mixed greens and spinach
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup cashews
1 mango, chopped
3 tbsp dried cranberries

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 fresh squeezed lemon
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Mix the salad ingredients together then toss with dressing.  Enjoy!

As a change, try swapping regular quinoa with red quinoa.  It has a slightly different texture and adds great colour to your dishes.  It also tastes slightly earthier than white quinoa.  If you're not used to cooking this grain, start by swapping a rice dish with quinoa.  It is filled with amino acids that are required for strong bones, skin, blood and muscles.  It also has over double the amount of protein than rice.  

This is a nutrient packed dish with sweet potatoes, rainbow chard, green beans, red peppers and mushrooms.  The sweet potatoes are an excellent form of complex carbohydrates.  They also stabilize blood sugars naturally and prevent cravings later on.  Swiss chard is an extremely cleansing vegetable that is great for detoxing the liver.  It is also high in B vitamins and many minerals.  

Sweet Potato Red Quinoa
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups rainbow chard
3/4 cup green beans
2 cups cooked red quinoa

Lemon Balsamic Sauce
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp basil leaves
1 freshly squeezed lemon
3 tbsp tamari (or organic soy sauce)
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Cook the garlic in oil on low heat for a few minutes then add the mushrooms.  Cook for about 5 minutes then add the sweet potato.  Continue to cook until the sweet potato for about 5-10 minutes, until it becomes softer.  Add the remaining vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in 4 cups of water.  Add stock to the water if you want a little more flavour.  Add quinoa to the vegetables.

Blend the sauce ingredients in a food processor then add it into the rest of the dish.  Enjoy!

If you want to load your body with the best of the superfoods out there, add Swiss chard and kale to your diet as much as possible.  Kale is often referred to as the king of all vegetables, while Swiss chard is the queen.  These powerful vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body and mind requires on a daily basis. 

They are both excellent for detoxification and provide the liver with extra support.  Filled with chlorophyll, they assist the body in its cleansing processes.  They are also high in anti-oxidants, calcium, iron, vitamins A, B and C.  If you're dairy intolerant and feel stuck for finding other calcium options, you'll find much more calcium in kale than milk and cheese. 

Lemon Chili Leafy Greens

2 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red chili, minced (or 1 tbsp chili flakes)
3 tbsp olive oil

Lightly cook the garlic in olive oil for a minute or two then add the leafy greens.  Continue to cook the greens for another 5 minutes then add the chillies.  Eat this as a side dish or add a piece of fish on top as a warm salad.  Another alternative is to add in some quinoa or brown rice to make it a complete meal. 
Red Lentils and quinoa are both great choices if you want to make a quick meal.  They cook in less than 15 minutes so are easy to make if you don't have a lot of time.  If you can, try to soak them in water for at least 2 hours before.  Grains contain phytic acid in their covering which can inhibit mineral absorption.  This exists as a protective measure in nature but soaking them in water can release this. 

You can use any vegetables you like or have on hand to mix with this dish.  In this case, I used broccoli, sweet potato, red pepper and onion.  If you want to make a curry, use spices like cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and curry powder.  If you prefer more of a Thai flavour, use coconut milk as the sauce.  I decided to go for a neutral flavour and just used garlic, basil, oregano and lemon. 

Red Lentil Quinoa Blend
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup cooked red lentils
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 
Sea salt and cracked pepper

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes then add sweet potato.  Cook until the sweet potato softens.  Add the red pepper and broccoli and cook for a few more minutes.  Mix the dried herbs into the vegetables then add the quinoa and lentils. Stir for a few minutes until everything is warmed.  Add in the fresh basil and top with cracked pepper and sea salt.  Enjoy!

If you're in the mood for a Mexican style meal or just feel like making a different kind of salad, give this one a try.  It's very simple and doesn't take much time to prepare.  Salads without lettuce are often ideal because they keep much longer and you can use them for lunch or a side dish the following day.  It tastes very fresh and doesn't contain gluten or dairy products which can often leave us feeling lethargic. 

While I'm on Mexican fare, here's a great salsa listed below.  It's nice to accompany grilled fish or chicken.  It can also be used when having wraps or fish tacos.  This is a delicious to have when dining outside in the summer months.  It can also be used as a dip along with fresh vegetables or tortilla chips. 

Mexican Salad
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 can black beans
1 can corn (optional)
1 red pepper
1/2 orange pepper

1 fresh lime
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped

Mexican Salsa
1 green onion, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 red onion, diced finely
Handful of fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tomatoes (insides removed), chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped

Top with a few spoons of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, and some salt and pepper. 

This dish was made because I had a few leftovers vegetables that needed to be used up.  I always keep things in the cupboard that can be used as staples in dishes - items like quinoa, brown rice and lentils.  If you have vegetables that are about to go off, just toss them with the staples listed above and you'll have a meal!

This dish can be enjoyed hot as a main course and can also be eaten as a salad when it has been chilled.  Add it to a bed of mixed greens and this will give you a nutrient power packed salad.  Depending on the season, choose what you like.  Generally, it's nice to eat cooled food in the summer.  The body naturally craves raw foods during spring and summer as a cleansing process, so add as many raw vegetables and mixed lettuce as possible. 

Spinach Lentil Blend
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 package/head of spinach, steamed
3/4 cup cooked brown lentils
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese (optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tamari (organic soy sauce)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon

If you're having this in its cooled version, cook the lentils and lightly steam the spinach.  Allow both to cool then mix all ingredients together.  Toss with dressing and serve.  In the cooked version, simply heat the ingredients in olive oil then have on its own or as a side dish with a main course.
When you're making a new dish, it's best to do all of the prep work first.  Take out your knife and chopping board, so you can get all of the vegetables sliced before you begin cooking.  Use this time as a chance to practise remaining present.  Try to stop your mind from wandering and be completely there as you chop away.  This is a form of active meditation. 

Once the vegetables are chopped, it's time to make a sauce.  This time I used a basil, lemon and olive oil sauce.  It isn't too overpowering and tastes fresh amongst the vegetables.  It's nice to keep sauces simple so that the vegetables can stand out. 

I also cooked brown rice to go along with the dish.  Short grain brown rice is my favourite and can be found at most health stores.  Brown rice is the unrefined version of white rice.  It still has the hull and bran which provide the natural wholeness to the grain.  This complex carbohydrate will also stabilize blood sugar levels. 

Basil Lemon Vegetables
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup snow peas, chopped
1 cup snap peas, chopped
1/2 cup green beans, chopped
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cups brown rice

3/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh basil
1 fresh squeezed lemon

Cook the garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat then add remaining vegetables.  Cook until the vegetables turn a deeper colour but still remain crisp.  If they are cooked too long, they lose their enzymes.  Add in the cooked brown rice and stir in the sauce.  Serve with a side salad.  Enjoy!