by Judith Fertig
In summer, when many fruits, herbs and vegetables are at their peak, it makes sense to harness their power for the family’s benefit. “Some people flock to plant-empowered living for better health, others because of their spiritual beliefs, to support animal welfare, respect the environment or, best of all, because it tastes great,” says wellness activist Kris Carr, a documentary filmmaker, New York Times bestselling author and the educational force behind KrisCarr.com.
Carr joined the wellness revolution after being diagnosed with a rare disease. It proved to be the incentive she needed to change her eating habits and find renewed power and energy. Her new book, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, with recipes by Chef Chad Sarno, celebrates the colors, flavors and powers of plants that nourish us at the cellular level.
Her main tenets include a focus on:
Reducing inflammation. Inflammation is caused by what we eat, drink, smoke, think (stress), live in (environment), or don’t do well (lack of exercise). At the cellular level, it can lead to allergies, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and cancer, according to Victoria Drake, Ph.D., of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, who culled the latest research.
Creating an acid/alkaline balance. “Tilting the pH scale in the alkaline direction is easy with a diet filled with mineral-rich plant foods,” says Carr. It also means minimizing meat, dairy, sugar, eggs, commercially processed foods, coffee and alcohol.
Drinking produce. Green juices and green smoothies are ideal. “They are the most important part of my personal daily practice, one that I will never abandon,” Carr notes.
Carr and her husband, Brian Fassett, whom she met when he edited her documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, share the juice and smoothie making responsibilities. “We make enough to have two 12-ounce servings of green drinks a day. Our recipes are often guided by what’s available in the fridge,” she advises. The secret is a three-to-one ratio of three veggies for every piece of fruit..
Kale is queen in their home. The dark leafy superfood is especially suited for smoothies, salads and sautés. They like kale’s generous helping of vitamin K for maintaining strong bones.
Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kale Salad is dressed with vinaigrette that includes flax oil, which she notes is high in omega-3s to promote healthy brain function. It’s also a well-known anti-inflammatory food. “Make sure to buy cold-pressed, organic flax oil in a dark bottle and store it in the fridge,” she advises, “because light and heat may turn the oil rancid. I like Barlean’s brand, but there are many other quality flax oils available. Since it is sensitive to heat, I use it mostly in salad dressings and smoothies.”
Carr maintains that, “By decreasing the amount of acidic inflammatory foods while increasing the amount of healthy and alkaline plant foods, you flood your body with vitamins, minerals, cancer-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber.” This supports the body in maintaining and repairing itself. She further points out, “Once your body repairs, it can renew. That’s big-healer medicine. You might as well get a business card that reads: self-care shaman.”
Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig blogs at AlfrescoFoodAndLifestyle.blogspot.com.
Easy Summer Recipes
“Many of my recipes have been influenced by cultural experiences, twists on favorite childhood meals or newly discovered ingredients,” says Chef Chad Sarno. “The strawberry smoothie is among Kris Carr’s favorites. Few dishes have proved to be as timeless and widely beloved as the kale salad.”
Strawberry Fields Smoothie
Enjoy the nostalgic tastiness of strawberry milk sans moo juice or powdered junk. Strawberries are phytonutrient factories, supplying the body with a bounty of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients.
Yields 2 servings
3 cups cashew or nondairy milk of choice
2 cups fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 small orange, peeled
1½ cups loosely packed spinach
Blend all ingredients until smooth in a high-speed blender.
Crazy Sexy Kale Salad
Kale is the king of the leafy veggies and rules this prevention-rocks salad. Serve it solo with a favorite cooked grain, or wrapped in nori or a gluten-free tortilla. Crown this kale creation by adding chopped fresh herbs or favorite diced vegetables. To be fancy, serve the salad wrapped in a cucumber slice.
Yields 2 to 3 servings
1 bunch kale, any variety, shredded by hand
1 cup diced bell peppers, red, yellow or orange
¼ cup chopped parsley
1½ avocados with pit removed, chopped
2 Tbsp flax oil
1½ tsp lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
Pinch of cayenne, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Massage and mix using both hands to “wilt” the kale and cream the avocado (takes just a minute or two). Then serve.
For a fun touch, cut a thin lengthwise slice of cucumber and create a circle to outline each serving of salad, stitching the ends of the cucumber slice together with a toothpick. Place the salad in the cucumber ring and then serve.
Source: Adapted from Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution, by Kris Carr with Chef Chad Sarno.
Crazy Sexy Fridge Foods
Each week, Kris Carr stocks her fridge with what she considers “whole, plant-based deliciousness.” One of the biggest secrets of eating healthy, she says, is being prepared. “Always keep a well-stocked arsenal of healthy ingredients at your disposal,” she advises. “At the very least, you’ll always be ready to whip up a green juice or smoothie.”
Canning jars filled with ready-to-drink homemade smoothies and green juices
Kale, parsley, spinach, cauliflower, cucumber, bell peppers and citrus fruits
Vegan buttery spread