Fall Quinoa Salad (With Kale, Root Vegetables, and Maple Vinaigrette)

Fall Kale Salad

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

A couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw that my favorite West Michigan deli, Farmhouse Deli in Douglas, was serving a tasty sounding fall salad with quinoa, butternut squash, and kale, with a maple vinaigrette.  I was planning on going there that day to try it, but the day got away from me and when I went to get some the next day, they were all out.

It was a cooler fall day and the sound of a warm salad with a little sweetness to it sounded perfect, so I thought I would try to make my own version of their salad.  I still had a ton of kale in my garden so I thought this would be a great way to use some of it.  And even though my family isn’t always big on quinoa, I thought by adding the slightly sweet maple vinaigrette, it might win them over and I’d be able to sneak lots of great veggies into them.

I had just been to the farmers market so I had some great-looking butternut squash and beets, and Frankie had harvested some of her potatoes from the garden that I though would be perfect as well.  I decided I would add some toasted pecans too – they would complement everything nicely.

Then I had to figure out how to make the maple vinaigrette.  I figured it would have an olive oil base with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  And of course, there would be some maple syrup.  I added a touch of cinnamon because that sounded like fall and then a bit of dijon mustard so it wasn’t too sweet or too vinegary.

I experimented a bit with everything until I got a taste I liked and then served it to Mike and the girls for dinner.  To their surprise, they loved it!  This will definitely be something I will make again and again.

Here’s what I did:



4 cups cooked quinoa (red makes the prettiest salad)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 large potatoes, cubed

1 large beet, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup pecans toasted

1 bunch of kale, deveined, and chopped

olive oil


Heat oven to 375 F.  In a big bowl, mix the potatoes and butternut squash with 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper, mix until evenly coated and spread onto a baking dish. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender.

In a separate bowl drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, onto the cubed beets.  Mix and put in a separate baking dish in the oven to cook for about 30 minutes as well (or until desired tenderness).

Put the pecans in, yet, a separate small baking dish and put in the same oven, but only for 5-10 minutes – until just toasted and fragrant.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the kale.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

In a large serving bowl mix together the cooked quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, beets, kale, and pecans.  Drizzle with the maple vinaigrette (recipe below) – start out with a little and work up (you can always add, but you can’t take away!).  Toss and taste!

Season with more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing

1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. sea salt

pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk.

Healing Mood Disorders With Food

Trudy Scott

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

During the Natural Cures Summit, one of the speakers that resonated with me was nutritionist Trudy Scott.

Her segment, entitled “Healing Mood Disorders With Food,” dealt with how changing the way we eat can help us combat issues like depression and overcoming food addictions.

As someone who has dealt with depression and eating disorders in the past, I found her information very useful.

What were the highlights?

One is that sugar is especially addictive, and with its prevalence in today’s market, becoming a serious issue. Sugar in the body depletes it of nutrients, and alters our blood sugar levels, which will immediately affect mood. It can also alter chemicals in the body like serotonin, or catecholamines, which, when unbalanced, lead to feelings of anxiety,  stress, apathy, rage, and depression.

Secondly, we all know that gut health is also a major link to our overall well-being, emotionally and physically. Yet today we are seeing major trends in food allergies and intolerances, medical problems like leaky gut or SIBO, Celiac’s, and other autoimmune disorders which mean our guts cannot properly absorb nutrients. Like many doctors and other nutritionists, Trudy recommends people with health or mood issues first try removing gluten from the diet. While not everyone is affected by gluten, 80-90% of the patients she removed from gluten thrived, and there are no ill effects to taking gluten from the diet. Often this is a beginning step toward healing the gut, even if you do not present any obvious symptoms, and putting the body back in balance.

So what other tips does Trudy suggest for improving and maintaining a positive outlook?

-Eating grass-fed red meats, which have a huge correlation to good mood. Vegans and vegetarians should make sure they are getting enough iron, zinc, B12, and omega-3’s, as deficiencies in the body can negatively affect mood, or consider adding in a little humanely raised animal protein now and then (if able and willing).

-Eating real, whole foods, of course, with healthy proteins and fats – especially at breakfast – and eating food before drinking coffee (a “drug of choice”). She places an emphasis on healthy fats – too low of cholesterol can lead to depression, as cholesterol is a raw material for creating proper hormones.

-Exercise, sunshine, and natural light throughout the day. Vitamin D is especially linked to mood, and most people are deficient.

-Minimizing stress, which can worsen symptoms of mood disorders.

-Getting proper sleep in a dark, quiet room. She recommends lavender or chamomile scents before bed, or tryptophan supplements if you have difficulty sleeping.

Some of this seems pretty straightforward – we know that not being stressed, and being well-rested, puts us in a good mood, right? But it’s always good to keep in mind that the body is one big system working together, and that if one aspect is off, it can throw everything out of whack. Give yourself priority!

So eat well, get some sleep, and relax this weekend! Happy Friday!

Chloe Coscarelli’s Vegan Meatballs!

Vegan meatballs

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch 

Today is Tuesday, which means it’s Q&A Tuesday on Marie Forleo’s Marie TV.  Today, she interviewed Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan chef who, at the age of 22, won The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and was the first vegan to ever enter the competition.

I pretty much love all of the stuff Marie Forleo posts and writes about, and I always look forward to her videos – especially her interviews.  Today Marie and Chloe talked about how she got started in cooking

Her third cookbook, “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics,” came about because, of course, she’s Italian.  Everyone said she couldn’t possibly eat Italian as a vegan, because of all of the cheese and meat.  So, she set out to “veganize” some of her family’s traditional Italian recipes.  And the results are Marie approved!

On today’s interview, they brought out these vegan meatball sliders and they looked like real meatballs.  So I clicked on the link for the recipe to check out the ingredients, because I couldn’t believe that they would actually come close to real meatballs.  And when I saw the ingredients, I thought these might actually work – brown rice, mushroom, and onion, were the base of the recipe.  So I got right to work on making Spaghetti with Meatless Meatballs.

First off, everyone loved the smell that cooking these created in our house.  So that was a good sign.  Then, as I prepared everything and shaped them into balls, they were really impressed how they actually looked like meatballs.

Then came the true test.  After cooking them in olive oil in the pan (rather than canola oil), Lindsey and Frankie (who are both vegetarians) tried them and they couldn’t believe how good they were!  A still bigger test was Mike, since he loves regular meatballs.  And they won him over too!  And of course, for me, they are one of my new favorite recipes.

Here’s the link to the recipe for vegan meatball sliders. Check out how easy they are to make!

Instead of pasta, I chose to “grill” a piece of gluten-free bread in the pan I used for the meatballs, which had some leftover olive oil.  It was amazing!

Now that I know her recipes work – meaning they are easy and they taste great – I am definitely going to order her book so I can play around with her other vegan recipes.  And, this will definitely be my go-to gift for my vegan and vegetarian friends.

Try it our for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Sean Croxton’s Podcast with Paul Chek: Healing Fungal and Parasite Infections


By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I can’t even remember how I came upon this Podcast today, but I’m so grateful I did.  You have to check out Sean Croxton’s podcasts on iTunes.  He’s got an incredible line up of interview and topics ranging from an interview with Dr. Amy Myers: Toxic Mold Exposure, to Marie Forleo: Make Money Change the World, to Adrenal Webinar Q&A with Reed Davis.

The one I gravitated toward and just had to listen to today was Podcast #57 with Paul Chek: Healing Fungal and Parasite Infections.  It was awesome!  I took copious notes and am really intrigued to dive into this subject further.

Sometimes Podcasts or webinars give a lot of general information, but make you buy a particular program or DVD set or workshop to get “the good stuff.” But with Paul Chek, yes, he does have a DVD set they promote on the Podcast, but they give plenty of great, free information, to get you well on your way to learning about and implementing strategies to deal with fungal and parasitic situations in yourself or those you know.

First, parasites can be worms, fungus, bacteria, or viruses.  There are good parasites and there are bad parasites.  We need certain parasites in order to function effectively – these are symbiotic parasites.  With a parasite infection, someone has a population of parasites that have reached the point where they are now regulating the environment they are in.  So if they are in your intestinal tract, they are regulating the pH or the rate of peristalsis using chemical messengers and so on.  When your body cannot kill down the number of parasites to the level to which is favorable for the body to have them, you now have an infection.  The problem with parasites and fungi is that they have weapons that can seriously interfere with the operation of the autonomic nervous system and the immune system.  So it’s like you are taken over by a host whose objective is to eat you (Paul’s words).

I could get quite lengthy here about what I learned, but I suppose I will just list the top 3 concepts I took away from this Podcast, and if these intrigue you as well, you can check out the rest of the Podcast.

  1. Stress is one of the biggest issues in having fungal and parasitic infections.  So, once again, how you perceive stress and process it in your life will have an impact on whether or not you are susceptible to parasites.
  2. Healing yourself from parasites takes quite a bit of commitment and motivation.  To find the motivation, ask yourself or someone else, “What is it that you can’t do right now because of the way they re feeling?”  Or, “What is it that they love enough to make changes for?”  It’s most likely not just a general statement that you don’t have enough energy, but that your lack of energy is preventing you from being fully present with and playing with your kids, or having enough energy at the end of the day to ride your horses or take your dog for a walk in nature.  Once you find out what this is for you or someone you are working with, then you have found what creates enough pain to make you or them want to stick with what is needed to clear up the infection.
  3. Key anti-parasitic tools:  bentonite clay, diatomaceous earth, Oreganol p73, cayenne pepper mixed with honey, frozen cod liver oil capsules, turmeric, garlic, and ginger.

Testing for parasites isn’t always effective, so he recommends that if you have symptoms (lack of energy, brain fog, elevated cortisol, adrenal stress, can’t get going in the morning, skin problems, athletes foot, nail fungus, yeast infection…), then start an anti-parasitic protocol and lifestyle like he lays out in his book and the DVD’s.

I know I sound really geeky here, but this stuff fascinates me!  We’re all creatures living on this planet, and when we create harmony and balance in our own lives, it effects so much more beyond ourselves because we are all connected in so many ways.  Let things get out of balance, and the signs and signals are everywhere.

Are we willing to acknowledge them and make changes, or are we going to give in?  I know which one I choose.  How about you?