Blog by Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eat More Greens - Make Delicious Dressings



One of the keys to good health is eating lots of greens. Greens like romaine (and other) lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, collards and mustard greens are rich in vitamins like C and A and minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium. They are full of vitamins, minerals, enymes, fiber and even protein, but are very low in calories.

A key to eating lots of greens is in making yummy healthy salad dressings. I bring my own dressing when I go out; dressings at restaurants are often full of strange gums and unhealthy things like corn syrup. Next time you go to a "healthy" sandwich shop ask to see their ingredient binder: I think you'll be surprised at how many things there (all the dressings for sure) have high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient! It's the same with dressings everywhere...don't be fooled into thinking a restaurant's "honey mustard" dressing is really made with honey! It may have a drop of honey in there, but really it's sugar and corn syrup just like everything else.

Here are recipes for two of my favorite easy and super delicious salad dressings that I always have on hand (and if I don't, they just take a few minutes to make) and I take with me to restaurants.

Both dressings are gluten-free and dairy-free. The honey can be replaced by agave nectar for vegan versions.

Real Honey Mustard Dressing

This only makes enough for a couple servings. It's so easy to make I just make it every couple times I have salad...the extra I store in the fridge.

  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard (brown mustard is better as it usually contains no added sugar, make sure you check the ingredients of the mustards you keep in your fridge and consider a natural sugar free brand.)
  • Juice from one Lemon, about 2 Tbsp (you can use vinegar, but I love the light refreshing taste the dressing has when I squeeze a lemon myself)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil (can be eliminated for a fat-free dressing, just add some water instead)
  • 1/2 tsp Wheat-free tamari (or sea salt)
  • Optional spices: pepper, dried thyme, dried basil
Whisk all ingredients together. Spoon over salad.


Dairy-free Creamy Cashew Green Goddess Dressing

I made this for a gathering of women and called it a Goddess dressing, in honor of the gathering. It was a big hit.

I use raw unsalted cashews because they are a very soft nut, which blends easily into a creamy consistency. I use a vitamix, but if you don't have a high speed blender simply soak the nuts in water for at least 30 minutes first, which will soften them even more. They will then blend smoothly in any blender.

  • 3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews (soaking them first will soften them, see above)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon (you can substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • handful fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp wheat-free tamari (or sea salt)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard (brown is best, usually has no added sugar)
  • water to cover

Blend well (using a blender.) Taste, adjust seasonings...add honey if it needs to be sweeter, salt/tamari if salt is necessary.

This dressing is so good you will literally be making salads just so you can have more. And isn't eating more greens what this is all about? Win, win!

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(412) 381-0116

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healthy Holidays



The holidays are upon us! And while many of us are trying to eat healthier...often cutting out sugar, wheat, dairy, meat, even cooked food (!) for health purposes, sometimes our friends and family, who we love to gather with at this time of year, are not.

While it can be difficult to be around for many reasons: we may crave our old foods, or we may have given up something that we feel *everyone* should give up, I find it best to take a non-confrontation and non-judgmental attitude over the holidays, both with ourselves and our friends and family around us.

Over the years I have discovered some things that help:

1. Not making a big deal about different ways I eat. I find that even if I don't make a big deal about it, other people usually do. I just (try to) smile. This is not (necessarily) the time to convert others to my lifestyle!

2. Help in food preparation. It is nice to offer to make a vegetarian gravy, for instance, and vegetarian gravies can easily be made gluten-free by subbing potato starch for flour as a thickener.

3. Offer to make or just bring a dish or two that I know I can eat. Squash stuffed with rice and veggies looks beautiful, tastes delicious, and is often a hit with vegetarians and traditional eaters.

4. A big salad is often a healthy addition to a holiday feast, and not so very unusual (though sometimes lacking) so make and bring one!

The picture above is of a Raw Food Cranberry Sauce, which is delicious. It is gorgeous served in orange halves (the photo doesn't do it justice, it really is gorgeous!)

Cranberries are extremely high in vitamin C and A, and full of phytonutrients. When we do not cook them all their nutrition is preserved. To make the sauce above, I simply:

Juiced 3 oranges, saving the juice to add to the sauce and saving the orange halves to put the sauce in.

In a high speed blender (I use my vitamix), put

  • A package of fresh cranberries (washed)
  • Juice from the 3 oranges
  • 6-8 dates, pitted
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Blend and fill the orange cups.

They are topped with Candied Pecans, which is simply chopped raw pecans mixed with maple syrup (not raw) and pumpkin pie spice. You can also use walnuts or even wild black walnuts if you have those around. (Here is a video of how we crack our black walnuts.)

I bet everyone at the holiday table will enjoy these!!

Happy Holidays!

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Sign up today and receive your free gift: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!