Fresh Paleo Tomato Salad with Kalamata Olives

While visiting my grandkids (and my son and daughter-in-law, too) in Winston-Salem, NC last week, I jumped at the chance to use a gift certificate I’d received at Christmas for Green Gate Olive Oils. What a great store! We had a ball tasting the delicious olive oils and the amazing balsamic vinegars. Even the grandkids loved the vinegars — the big hit was the one that tasted just like fresh strawberries.

I had my selections shipped home to Michigan, and when I got the package and opened the Chipotle Olive Oil and the Maple Syrup Balsamic Vinegar, I suddenly had SUCH a craving for a fresh tomato salad with these two taste delights drizzled all over it — and I don’t even care much for fresh tomatoes!

So here’s the recipe I came up with, and I’m telling y’all, it’s amazing. If you haven’t tried flavored vinegars or flavored olive oils, you are missing out on a true taste treat. You can probably substitute in this recipe any olive oils or balsamic vinegars you like, but listed below are the ones I used.

Marinade/Dressing Ingredients

Mix this up first so the flavors can blend together while you’re making the salad:

2 T. Chipotle Olive Oil
1 tsp. White Truffle Olive Oil
2 tsp. Oregano and Basil Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. Maple Syrup Balsamic Vinegar (this is a must-have in my book. Delish!!)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. chopped fresh basil
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

Small handfuls of fresh basil and fragrant cilantro, both cut just minutes ago from my chemical-free container herb garden!

Small handfuls of fresh basil and fragrant cilantro, both cut just minutes ago from my chemical-free container herb garden!

The Process

Mix all ingredients in a jar and put the cap on it. Shake, shake, shake until the oils and vinegars emulsify and the salt dissolves. Set aside.

The marinade is none too pretty to look at and a bit messy to make, but if you could smell the aroma of the maple syrup balsamic vinegar coming out of this jar, you'd sacrifice the visual appeal, too.

The marinade is none too pretty to look at and a bit messy to make, but if you could smell the aroma of the maple syrup balsamic vinegar coming out of this jar, you’d sacrifice the visual appeal, too.

Tomato Salad Ingredients

6 Ripe Roma Tomatoes
3 Ripe Heirloom Tomatoes of different colors (I used purple and yellow)
1 C. Ripe Grape Tomatoes
1/2 Large Red Onion
1 C. (or more, if you want) Pitted Kalamata Olives

Fresh tomatoes waiting to be sliced and marinated. These are some beauties!

Fresh tomatoes waiting to be sliced and marinated. These are some beauties!

  1. Slice all the tomatoes except the grape tomatoes in thin wedges and place in a large bowl.

    These all taste like tomatoes, but with slightly different degrees of tomatoey-ness, and the vibrant colors make the salad just plain purty.

    These all taste like tomatoes, but with slightly different degrees of tomatoey-ness, and the vibrant colors make the salad just plain purty.

  2. Halve the grape tomatoes lengthwise and place in the bowl.
  3. Thinly slice the red onion, and then halve the slices so the pieces aren’t too long and unwieldy. Place in bowl.

    Slice the red onion really thin.

    Slice the red onion really thin.

  4. Strain Kalamata olives and place in the bowl with the other ingredients.
    I chose pitted Kalamata olives to save on the dental bills.

    I chose pitted Kalamata olives to save on the dental bills.

    Nowhere to go and not dressed up yet, either. Waiting for the marinade dressing!

    Nowhere to go and not dressed up yet, either. Waiting for the marinade dressing!

     

  5. Pour marinade/dressing over all and mix carefully with a large spoon to coat all the ingredients. Mix from the bottom up to try to keep the tomato slices intact.

    Fresh Tomato Salad with the dressing stirred in. Now to marinate it for a couple of hours while it chills! Can't wait to dig in!

    Fresh Tomato Salad with the dressing stirred in. Now to marinate it for a couple of hours while it chills! Can’t wait to dig in!

  6. Refrigerate for at least two hours, but stop by the fridge every 20 minutes or so to mix the salad (carefully) so the ingredients each get a fair shake at absorbing the marinade.
  7. Serve chilled in a bowl, a plate by itself, or let your guests dig in! If you serve it already dished up, be sure to use a large spoon to get some of the marinade from the bottom of the bowl to drizzle over the top of the salad just before you serve it.
  8. Enjoy!

NOTE: I think this would be great with some sliced strawberries mixed in it.

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Container Herb Garden — Organic in the City

Opie's pretty proud of my backdoor container herb garden, can't you tell? Sage, cilantro, basil, thyme. In the straw purse: marigolds are hiding the rosemary.

Opie’s pretty proud of my backdoor container herb garden, can’t you tell? Sage, cilantro, basil, thyme. In the straw purse: marigolds are hiding the rosemary.

My sweet little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Opie, is pretty proud of my container herb garden. You can tell how proud he is by the fact that he’s not totally asleep.

I’ve had all kinds of herb gardens — in-ground, in-house, in-container — and I’ve found that I do the best job with the herbs if they are right outside my kitchen door and planted in containers.

Since I’m a visual person, if the herbs are not right where I see them every time I go in or out, I simply won’t remember to water them. Or even harvest them. Truly. If it’s not in front of my face, I’ll forget it. Which is why my desk is always cluttered, I have notes all over the house, and the herbs are right next to the back door.

So, since I live in the city and have a concrete driveway outside my kitchen door instead of a huge fertile garden plot, containers are my best option for growing the herbs and keeping them where I’ll remember I have them.

Besides gardening, I also design and make purses, so planting the rosemary and a couple of marigolds in my aunt’s old woven plastic summer carryall adds a perfect, and whimsical, touch.

What herbs do you have the best luck with in your garden? What herb-growing secrets can you share? What’s your favorite fresh herb recipe?

Part of the container herb garden by Deborah's kitchen door. Pink container: sage, cilantro, basil. White impatiens waiting to be planted elsewhere. White container: thyme.

Part of the container herb garden by Deborah’s kitchen door. Pink container: sage, cilantro, basil. White impatiens waiting to be planted elsewhere. White container: thyme.

Who says it all starts with food? We do (and some other folks, too).

An informative article about how diet affects our bodies and minds, and how a holistic approach to figuring out which foods do and don’t work for us can make the difference.

The holistic nutritionist is in Holland, MI, but her wisdom goes beyond geographic boundaries. If you’re struggling with the issues mentioned in this article from West Michigan Woman, you might want to try the Whole30 or seek the help of a holistic nutritionist near you.

The Proof of the Pudding: Discovering the Ideal Diet for Ideal Health

Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:03

The Proof of the Pudding: Discovering the Ideal Diet for Ideal Health

Pam Zinn, owner of Holland’s Holistic Nutrition Center, knows you are what you eat—or at least your health conditions are. Where many are quick to diagnose illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular trouble, difficulty sleeping, or even depression as medical conditions treatable by myriad prescription drugs, Pam advises first taking a good look at your diet.

Pam has a nursing degree. She worked in the profession for twenty-five years, in different positions across West Michigan—from Mary Free Bed to nursing homes to dialysis positions in a hospital. Pam’s family moved to England for a short time, and moving back to the United States proved a stressor Pam’s body was unable to handle. “I went from normal life to completely derailed,” she said. Pam had trouble getting out of bed, dialing the phone, and even finishing sentences. “I had no energy, to the point that I would wake up in bed frozen in place.”

Pam went from doctor to doctor and was prescribed an endless amount of medicine, but nothing could solve the mystery of her disappearing energy. Finally, she met a nutritionist. “That’s when things started to change,” she said. “And as I started getting better, I realized I could help a lot more people.”

Pam earned her master’s degree in holistic nutrition, put together her business plan, and set to work sharing her story and the positive influence a well-rounded diet can have for those who are struggling with “invisible” illnesses. Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, and multiple sclerosis are all puzzling yet debilitating sicknesses. But Pam says when people examine underlying issues—many of them related to diet—symptoms could be quelled and sometimes erased.

Some people are born with allergies to certain foods; some acquire them over time. With Pam’s help, those who are sick (or those who are healthy and want to stay that way) could discover which foods are best for an individual’s diet in order to keep unsavory health conditions at bay.

It may be a mineral deficiency. Many women are low in magnesium, Pam said. Women who have been on the pill are often off balance in vitamin B6. And although Pam does recommend some supplements, she said with a balanced diet, we can get the nutrition we need. Still,  one diet does not fit all.

“Every person is different. You can’t just read a magazine article to get a healthy recipe. What’s healthy for one person may be unhealthy for another,” Pam said. “What I do then is get to know the person, take a look at their underlying problems, and try to find a nutritional solution.”

So, what if you find you are low in magnesium? How, through changing your diet, could you incorporate more magnesium? It’s not as though there is an aisle in the grocery store labeled “Magnesium-Rich Food.” Pam helps in this department, too. In addition to being a well-educated cook, she has a personal chef who works with her at the Holistic Nutrition Center, or will even come to your home and prepare a week’s worth of meals. Pam holds workshops or can work one-on-one to help people figure out what to eat, where to buy it, and how to prepare it.

“If a person doesn’t have a background in nutrition, they won’t know what to eat. It’s complicated, and most of us get it wrong. There is way too much misinformation,” Pam said. “Even though most people are trying to do the right thing, many are overweight and need to take medication. To get it right, a person really needs to sit down with a nutritionist like me. Then, they will have an understanding of what they should be eating.

“What I’m looking for is energy—having enough energy to have the brain completely on fire so it can stay on task. That’s good for a mom, for a dad, or for an eight-year-old getting through a math class. It’s good for everybody to have that.”

Click here to find out more about Holistic Nutrition Center, located at 90 W. 8th Street, in Holland. For a list of workshops offered at the center, click here.

Written by: Erika Fifelski is West Michigan Woman magazine’s staff writer. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism. Erika was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she’s home and loving it.

The munchies for crunchies!

These tart-tangy-sweet colorful gems will make your taste buds dance a crazy jig! And you'll like it.

These tart-tangy-sweet colorful gems will make your taste buds dance a crazy jig! And you’ll like it.

Every so often, I get the munchies for crunchies that a stalk of celery or carrots and dip can’t satisfy. Sometimes I just want something different, and let me tell you, these babies fit that description!

I picked up these Organic Just Fruit Munchies at Nourish Organic Market here in Grand Rapids, MI, and they have had my taste buds dancing a jig!!! The company, Just Tomatoes, Etc!, apparently has lots of freeze dried goodies on the market, and a brief perusal of the web tells me they’re available online. But do your community a favor and buy local, if you can.

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This package contains only organic fruits: apples, blueberries, sour cherries (yes, they are!), mangoes  pineapple, and raspberries. The combination of sweet, tart, and sour is delightful!

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These munchies are vegan-, vegetarian-, Paleo-, Whole30-, and omnivore-ready (read your labels, just to be sure), and you don’t need a huge amount to be satisfied by the flavor and the crunchy texture.

They’re pricey — these were over $7 — but they’ll last me a long time because I don’t want a gigando helping. I’ve eaten them just out of the hand, thus far, but have plans for them to join a few pecans in adorning a green salad in the near future.

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Yup. Them are some good stuff!

Hot dog, it’s a Whole30 hot dog!

Applegate Organic Hot Dogs are great for Whole30 lunches, dinners, and yes, even Meal One!

Applegate Organic Hot Dogs are great for Whole30 lunches, dinners, and yes, even Meal One!

When I was in Winston-Salem, NC in December, I went to Whole Foods and found some marvelous hot dogs that The Hub and I could have during our Whole30 detox. I was elated! But alas, when I got home to Michigan, I couldn’t remember the name of the brand. Ain’t that the way it goes?

So, I thought all was lost until last week when I was shopping at one of my local health food stores, Harvest Health Foods. They had these Applegate Organic Uncured Hot Dogs. I don’t know if they were the same ones I found at Whole Foods, but they sure looked similar. I read the label and they contained nothing I couldn’t have on the Whole3o, so I grabbed ’em.

As soon as I got home, two of them went into the frying pan for my lunch! Yum. Yum. Yes, indeedy. Exactly what the doctor ordered.

They are meaty, they fry up firm and nicely browned. They are some of the best dogs I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve had quite a few. Don’t let the price scare you, though. They’re a bit on the rich side, but I’ve found that one dog with a side salad is a good lunch serving and is Oh. So. Satisfying.

Dogs? WHAT did she say about dogs?

Dogs? WHAT did she say about dogs?

If you visit the Applegate website, you can find out if a store in your area carries them. I haven’t had time to check out the other foods Applegate makes, but it looks like there are a lot of choices on the website.

Dog time! Enjoy!

Whole30 Days 12 & 13 — Living social again

My friend Jesse MacIntosh pipes a lively tune at ArtPrize in 2010. Today, I was jigging a lively tune in my spirit (!!!!!!) thanks to a huge turnaround that I'm sure is because I've removed grains, dairy, and sugars from my diet.

My friend Jesse MacIntosh pipes a lively tune at ArtPrize in 2010. Today, I was jigging a lively tune in my spirit (!!!!!!) thanks to a huge turnaround that I’m sure is because I’ve removed grains, dairy, and sugars from my diet.

I’m starting to think I could be a walking miracle. In the past four months, I’ve gone from being nearly a recluse who didn’t want to see anyone outside of my home, to this weekend when I was out and about with lots of other people and enjoyed every minute.

I went shopping with The Hub, met my sister for lunch at a busy restaurant then went with her to a jam-packed stage presentation. I left there and came home to cook dinner for The Hub and my artist friend Sarah Haas who was visiting from out of town and spent the night. Then today I went to church and then visited a friend in the hospital. I haven’t had a weekend that social in months, and that was months after the time before.

I’m starting to think that living social could be my norm again. Ridding my diet (my body) of grains, dairy, and sugars is undoubtedly the biggest factor for this uplifting change. I’m so thankful!

I’ve been grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and legume-free for 14 weeks, and while I haven’t lost a lot of weight (yet), I feel great. (I’m almost afraid to say that because I might jinx it.) But seriously, I not only feel the best I’ve felt in 14 weeks, I feel the best I’ve felt in years.

I’m counting my blessings!

  • My energy has returned and lasts all day
  • I’m sleeping better.
  • My body aches are gone, and thanks to the diet and to physical therapy, I’ve been pain-free (foot, back) for the last week.
  • I haven’t had a headache in I don’t know how long! I used to have intense headaches 3 or 4 days a week. I got those under control through chiropractic care and lots of ibuprofen. Even so, I still had horrid sinus headaches about 3 days a week that sapped my energy. Can’t remember the last headache I had. Or when I had it.
  • My anxiety is GREATLY decreased, and my chronic depression has lifted immeasurably (although not gone).
  • I have an overall sense of well-being.
  • I’m singing again, and listening to music again. I find myself singing when I’m loading the dishwasher or vacuuming.
  • My house is cleaner, less chaotic (because I have more energy and am less depressed).
  • I feel hopeful about the future. Huh. So THIS is what it feels like!

Do I still have down days and days of fatigue? Yup. But I have fewer of them and the time between them keeps getting longer. And, yes, I’ve had chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, massage, and have increased the exercise I get. I’m still taking medication for the depression and anxiety. All those have contributed to the recovery and healing I’m experiencing. I know I couldn’t have walked this path without my doctors, massage therapists, and physical therapists. They’re wonder-workers.

But the healing began in earnest on November 23, 2012 — the day I began my first Whole30. The Whole30 and Paleo lifestyles have changed my life. I’m a walking miracle. I’m living social again.

Preparing to eat consciously, 2nd installment

A Week’s Worth of Lunches in Just An Hour!

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A few weeks ago, AnnaLee posted about Preparing to Eat Consciously and gave some great tips on grocery shopping and menu planning. Jeez, I hate to have anyone show me up so easily (love you AnnaLee!) so I thought I’d share how I prepare to eat consciously and give y’all some different ideas on how to prepare for a week of eating whole foods. Please feel free to add your own ideas and comments. We love hearing from our readers!

Unlike AnnaLee, who has a young child at home, is a nurse who works for a large healthcare system, and packs lunches every day, I haven’t packed a lunch in 13 years! I have only The Hub and myself to shop and cook for and I work from home. I can have breakfast whenever I feel like it, and it’s usually leisurely — I don’t have to get breakfast for anyone else or eat it quick before I run out the door.

Whole30 or Paleo breakfasts are easy for me, supper is a relaxed affair after The Hub gets home from work, but lunches are a challenge. I don’t want to cook my lunch unless I have to, so it’s an ideal time to warm up leftovers. But I often have last night’s leftovers for breakfast because I get tired of having eggs every day.

I’ve found that my easiest lunches are a huge salad adorned with chopped apple or chopped pear, maybe some avocado, and a  portion of protein — sometimes tuna, sometimes something from last night’s supper if there are any leftovers left over, sometimes hard-boiled or deviled eggs — you get the picture.

So I prepare all my greens for the week at one time — I wash them, cut them, have them ready in the fridge. I prepare my salad dressing once a week (I love this vinaigrette) so it’s ready, and if I’m making a dressing that calls for mayonnaise, I make this Olive Oil Mayo once a week, too. I usually make the mayo anyway, just so we’ll have it for deviled eggs or lettuce wraps.

I like leaf lettuces, romaine, and spinach, and sometimes I chop up some red cabbage to go with them. But you can use any greens you like.

Two bunches of green leaf lettuces and a bunch of romaine make a lot of salad-ready greens.

Two bunches of green leaf lettuces and a bunch of romaine make a lot of salad-ready greens.

Cut the root ends off and separate the leaves into a sink filled with cold water. I also add a little Veggie Wash.

Cut the root ends off and separate the leaves into a sink filled with cold water. I also add a little Veggie Wash.

It only takes about an hour to prep the greens, and make the salad dressing and mayo. Then I’m ready for the week!

This stuff gets even the waxy coating off your fruits and veggies.

This stuff gets even the waxy coating off your fruits and veggies.

I love Veggie Wash for washing my fruits and veggies and especially for washing my greens — I put them in cold water with a bit of the Veggie Wash, swish everything around for 30 seconds, then rinse the greens in my other sink. (If you don’t rinse them well, your tongue will tingle when you eat your salad and everything will taste like soap. Not that I’ve ever experienced that personally…)

Dirt. Yuck.

Dirt. Yuck.

Clean. Yay!

Clean. Yay!

Then I get out my trusty Salad Spinner and spin the excess water off the greens. I hate watery salads that drain all the salad dressing to the bottom of the plate. It actually makes me mad. Nope. That is not for me.

I love my salad spinner. It keeps me happy.

I love my salad spinner. It keeps me happy.

Greens in the salad spinner waiting to be spun.

Greens in the salad spinner waiting to be spun.

A couple quick pulls at the lettuce tears it into manageable pieces, which get tossed into my giant white bowl with the blue lid. Anything that doesn’t fit goes into a reclosable plastic bag (make sure you squeeze all the air out of it). Then it all goes in the fridge.

Tons of greens, all ready for a week's worth of lunches and suppers. Easy peasy.

Tons of greens, all ready for a week’s worth of lunches and suppers. Easy peasy.

Voila! A week of large salads for lunches and some small salads for a couple of suppers. One hour, and I’m outta the kitchen!

Dang. I’m good.