Nutrition can seem complicated and yet when we distill it down to the basics it can become oh-so simple. There are countless dietary theories out there making bold claims such as to help you lose weight, to slow down the aging process, to build muscle, to help you become a better athlete, to help you heal your digestion, your skin and your anxiety. Dietary theories can feel confusing and overwhelming.
While sure, many of these dietary theories may have positive outcomes, they will not all be helpful for everyone. What makes one person feel amazing may make another feel terrible. Not to mention that what one theory says will heal you another says may cause long-term health problems. All of the information and conflicting information makes it difficult to know what is best for YOU—and where to even begin.
When you simplify the information, what it comes down to are two basic elements. One, eat REAL food, meaning whole, unprocessed foods. Two, pay attention to how these foods make YOU FEEL, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically.
In my approach to wellness and helping others heal their relationship with food, I recommend following the 4 S’s of Cooking. This helps to simplify the question, “what should I eat?” by focusing solely on these two basic elements- eating real food AND paying attention to how it makes you feel. The 4 S’s of Cooking are: Soups, Salads, Stir-fry’s and Smoothies. These are all plant-forward, whole foods methods of preparing food and cooking while minimizing processed and sugary foods.
Maximizing your intake of vegetables and fruits will help improve your health and wellness. Vegetables and fruits have a high profile on nutrients. For a refresher, nutrients are: Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber, Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein. These are all needed in order for your body to function optimally and yet so many people do not take in the nutrients daily they need to be healthy. Enter the 4 S’s of Cooking!
The 4 S’s of Cooking can be used to structure your meals and are nutrient dense by nature. Begin searching for recipes for each “S” that will delight your palette this fall to winter season. (I have included a seasonally focused recipe for each “S” below!) Here are a few of the many reasons to integrate the 4 S’s of Cooking today!
Soups often begin with a strong base of veggies, including onions, carrots and celery. Many soups include several other vegetables as well and they are hearty, filling, nourishing and delicious. Warm soups are super satisfying in the fall and winter.
Salads do not have to be boring! This winter, try slightly warmed salads with roasted veggies, nuts and seeds.
Stir-fry’s can be made into delicious hearty bowls chock full of vegetables, healthy proteins like beans and meats with a base of rice, quinoa or other favorite whole grain. These veggie heavy bowls are great because you can cook once and eat twice or more!
Smoothies may be harder to incorporate during the winter because they often use frozen fruits, however, if you do, they are great way load up on fruits and veggies and can serve as a filling, nutritious breakfast (or dessert!)
I hope you enjoy the following fall inspired, 4 S’s of Cooking recipes. Let them inspire you to get creative, find combinations that you love and get (healthy) cooking!
Creamy Broccoli Heaven Soup
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
1 medium potato, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, top removed and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme + a dash of dried to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3-4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
4-6 cups broth of choice (I use beef bone broth but whatever you have/like will do!)
In a large soup pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, celery and potato, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes. Add broth and bring heat to medium-high to create a light simmer, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli, red pepper, garlic, fresh thyme, salt and pepper and additional broth/water if needed (all vegetables should be covered with liquid). Let simmer on medium-high for about 6-8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low or low, cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, checking occasionally to stir and be sure the broccoli does not lose its bright green color. Turn off, stir in soaked and drained cashews (if you forgot to soak it’s ok, still add them for creamy texture!) and let sit 10 minutes. Transfer in small batches to blender, adding in a cup of fresh spinach with each batch as well as dash of dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
Warm Winter Salad
4 cups baby spinach and kale mixed together
1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 carrot, grated
1 avocado, sliced
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 medium chicken breasts
¼ cup grated aged manchego cheese (or your favorite hard cheese)
½ teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons avocado oil (or other cooking oil)
Olive oil and fresh lemon juice for dressing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until chicken temperature reads 165 degrees F. Let cool 5 minutes before dicing into cubes. Lightly toss diced sweet potato cubes and fennel in oil and dried herbs. Place on baking sheet, cook for 15 minutes, toss the cubes and fennel and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Add greens to a bowl and toss in warm sweet potatoes, fennel, chicken and grated manchego. Toss in pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and grated carrot. Top with sliced avocado. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze in a wedge of lemon juice and sea salt if desired and enjoy!
Savory Mushroom and Butternut Squash Bowl
2 Portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 cup finely chopped kale leaves, stems removed
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely sliced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, ribboned
2 cups quinoa, cooked
6 tablespoons avocado oil or other cooking oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Juice of ½ a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa according to package directions, once ready stir in lemon juice, parmesan cheese, drizzle in 2-4 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, once warm, add in butternut squash and stir occasionally for 8 minutes, should begin to soften, if not, cook additional 2-5 minutes. Once the butternut squash is softened, turn heat to medium-low, add shallots, carrots and garlic and sauté together for another 8 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, mushroom cap slices and shredded kale, and fresh sage, stir together for 5 minutes. Serve over prepared quinoa. Enjoy! Can add favorite protein as well and top with grated parmesan!
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
1 cup plain pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 small apple, chopped
1 cup spinach
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 teaspoon raw honey
2 tablespoons collagen protein powder or unsweetened/unflavored protein powder of choice
ice added if desired
Blend all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!
When you try these recipes let me know what you think! If you find other great recipes, share them with me! I now have a private Wholistic Food Therapy Facebook Group. It is for anyone starting or reigniting your wellness journey. It is a supportive space to share goals, recipes, wins and receive support.