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I’m adjusting to my new and improved body without a gallbladder, and for the most part, I’m feeling almost back to normal (as in June 2013-normal, pre-illness). I still have a bit of healing to do, but the chronic pain I was experiencing before is gone, making me feel like I have my life back! Wahoo! As Canadian treasure, Joni Mitchell, would say, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” -this is so true, and never more true than when you lose your good health. 
I would like to think that this experience has made me more balanced in my understanding of health. Sometimes, things just go amuck, and there’s nothing you can do about. My personal experience has solidified my belief in an integrative approach to health. I wouldn’t be sitting here feeling happy or nearly like my old self again, if I took a 100% natural approach to heal my condition.

The many things I’ve learned over the last year of illness include: 
  • You have to be an advocate for your own health
  • You know your body best
  • Stay off Dr.Google and health forums, as you're a unique individual 
  • Never pass judgement on what other people eat, as they do what works for them, and it’s not affecting your life anyways, so chill 
  • Reducing stress takes work, and it's absolutely necessary, especially for type-A personalities, to learn to manage stress effectively  
  • A vegan diet is what works for my body, and allows me to manage my day-to-day comfortably  
  • You don’t need a handful of supplements every day to be healthy 
  • Sleep when you feel like you need to  
  • Yoga is restorative, walks are essential, and using your own body as a weight if you can't lift actual weights, is surprisingly effective  
  • Buddha bowls should be eaten many times per week, and no skimping on the dressing! 
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Health Benefits of Fermented Foods 

Clearly, no lesson has been more powerful than the buddha bowl lesson, so I’m celebrating my back-to-my-old-self, more balanced me, with this balancing buddha bowl. It’s full of all of my favourite goodies; a curry pecan dressing that's ultra luxurious, creamy, and a little bit spicayyyy; and delivers a hefty dose of happy-tummy probiotics from the fermented food ingredients. 

I love to include fermented foods in my meals, because a) they taste nice, and b) they’re good for you! The fermented foods in this buddha bowl come in the form of these superfood ingredients:

Umeboshi Plum Vinegar:
Umeboshi is made from fermented sour, sundried, unripe plums. The umeboshi plum vinegar is a by-product of the curing of the plums. This product is rich in probiotics, and is incredibly alkaline, making it a superior food for balancing pH. 

Tempeh: A traditional Indonesian food created by splitting, cooking, and fermenting fresh soybeans. A friendly culture starter called, rhizopus oligosporus, is added to the soybeans. When this friendly bacteria grows, the cultures bind the soybeans together to create a tempeh “cake.” Tempeh is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins. Due to the fermentation process, tempeh is very easy to digest, and neutralizes much of the phytic acid that unfermented soy contains. The texture is nutty and chewy, and it can be incorporated in a variety of dishes for a protein boost. I'm not picky about eating a 100% organic diet, but soy is something that I personally only purchase if organic/non-GMO, for a variety of reasons. I used Henry’s Tempeh in this recipe, a company from Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario. 

Miso: A fermented soybean paste which can be made from soybeans, brown rice, or chickpeas. The flavours range from strong and pungent, to mild and sweet. Soybeans are a valuable source of nutrition, and when fermented, their health benefits are further increased. Miso is rich in a range of amino acids, along with being a powerful digestive aid, and detoxifier. As with any soy product, choose organic/non-GMO, if this is available to you.  

I use these foods quite a bit in my everyday cooking. Fermented foods are a fabulous way to enhance the flavour, texture, and nutrition of your dishes with the power of probiotics. Probiotics are required for synthesizing a variety of vitamins (yes, your body actually makes certain vitamins -cool!); the absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, and other valuable minerals; increasing nutrient absorption; improving the strength of the large intestine; boosting and supporting the immune system; helping to remove LDL “bad” cholesterol; and much more.  

Along with probiotics, you need to make sure you're eating prebiotic foods to "feed" the good bacteria. The in-season superfood, asparagus, just happens to be a wonderful source of prebiotic fibre, making it a fantastic addition to this bowl. Other easily accessible sources of prebiotic fibre include, bananas and onions -preferably eaten separately. 

I won't keep you waiting any longer. Here's to life lessons, balanced health, fermented foods, and buddha bowls!  
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Balancing Buddha Bowl with Curry Pecan Dressing 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Buddha Bowls
1 lb asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pkg organic/non-GMO tempeh, cut into cubes
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into thick rounds 
2 cups hot, cooked short-grain brown rice or hot, cooked quinoa, to serve
Roasted Edamame, to garnish, optional (see recipe below)
Curry Pecan Dressing (see recipe below)

Roasted Edamame 
1 cup shelled organic/non-GMO edamame, defrosted if frozen
¼ tsp each, sea salt, kelp granules, and curry powder
½ tsp avocado oil or olive oil

Curry Pecan Dressing
¾ cup water
¼ cup pecan halves
1 clove garlic (minced, if using food processor)
1 tbsp organic/non-GMO mellow white miso
2 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar 
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp flaxseed oil 
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp kelp granules, optional

Directions:

To prepare dressing: Place all ingredients in a Blendtec, or other high-speed blender, or mini food processor, and puree until smooth. Set aside. 

To prepare bowls: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place sweet potato rounds in a foil package, sealing edges. Roast for 2 hours+ (leave in the oven, until ready to plate, as they can keep cooking while roasting the remaining ingredients). 

To prepare edamame: After 1½ hours, increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add edamame all ingredients to the sheet, toss to combine, and roast for 15 minutes. Toss and roast for an addition 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside, leaving oven on and parchment-lined tray out for rest of the steps.

Using the same parchment-lined sheet as above, place the asparagus on one half of the tray in a single layer, and the tempeh on the other side of the tray in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes.

To assemble the bowls: Divide the hot brown rice, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and tempeh in 4 bowls (there may be extra). Drizzle with 3-4 tbsp curry pecan dressing each. Garnish with roasted edamame. Serve hot. 

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Quick update: 

My Spring Detox Beet Soup recipe is over at MindBodyGreen today. 

You can check that out here.  

Have you learned any important health or life-changing lessons? What's your approach to balanced living? 

 


Comments

05/01/2014 10:08am

I love what you have learned over the past year and I fit a lot of those lessons too. It is good to hear you are recovering well :). I am trying to incorporate some more probiotics to help heal my gut and I am yet to try tempah (it is on the to try list :). I love your mindset, it is very similar to mine - if only we could have a dinner date eating these delicious buddha bowls. Just a short flight away... boo!

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05/01/2014 10:59am

Hey Lauren! Probiotics are awesome for gut health. They've really helped my digestion a lot. And OMG I would LOVE to have a dinner date with you. I'm not ruling it out!!! Maybe one day in the near future :)

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05/01/2014 3:13pm

I am going to hunt down some kefir in London too, preferably coconut! Ah that sounds like you may be in London in the near future ;) yay :)

05/01/2014 6:33pm

Oh I would love to get my hands on some coconut kefir! I live in a smaller town, so I can never find it here. And I adore London! What a fabulous city! Who knows, maybe I'll be over there sooner than you think ;) (in my dreams!)

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05/01/2014 10:56am

Hi Lauren, I came across your blog through Izzy at She Likes Food. I love what you have learned from your illness. My brother recently had his gallbladder removed. Dietary adjustments can be difficult but can be made easier when you balance your diet.
I totally agree with eating more fermented foods. Here in the US they aren't nearly as popular as in other countries. Thankfully, we do consume a fair amount of yogurt to get those good probiotics :D

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05/01/2014 11:04am

Hi Cindy! I love Isadora -and I think I need to start calling her Izzy! She has an awesome blog and great recipes.

Yes, I continue to learn what I can and can't eat. It's mostly annoying when dining out! I totally agree about balancing your diet, just making sure I get a range of foods always makes me feel healthier :) Ohhh and I love fermented foods, they're very popular in my Danish background, but they're just catching on here in North America -we should change that!

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05/01/2014 1:04pm

You should definitely start calling me Izzy :) I'm so glad to hear you are feeling much better! Although I'm feeling better these days than I have in the past, your story makes me want to continue with my quest to get some real answers about the issues I've been having. I might e-mail you with a few questions, if that is ok! On a different note, I LOVE your salad dressings! You come up with the most creative and tasty combos and I, too, have like 5 recipes of yours bookmarked that I need to try! I just bought two huge bags of edamame and have been eating it like crazy. I've also been wanting to experiment with miso lately and this sounds like a great way to get my feet wet with it :)

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05/01/2014 1:33pm

Hey Izzy! hehe I love that nickname. And thanks for the sweet compliment :) You should totally try miso! If it's in my fridge, I seem to add it to everything in place of salt. And please email me! That'd be awesome, I'll be happy to give you any info I can: allisondday@gmail.com

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05/11/2014 9:18pm

I just went in search of miso at two different grocery stores and neither of them sold it, one had a strange miso broth product though. I guess I will have to find a specialty food store. I'm determined to get some soon!

05/12/2014 7:54am

I live in a small town in the country and my health food store carries only one type of miso, and it's a brown rice one -which I don't enjoy the taste of very much. I got this mellow white miso at a store called Goodness Me! (and yes, the exclamation mark is actually in the name lol). They're like Whole Foods and about 1/2 hour away from my house. That's where I get all of my "fun" cooking ingredients. So, maybe a good health food store or Whole Foods? I wish I could send you some miso but I think it would spoil en route :(

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05/12/2014 2:09pm

Whole Foods is a great idea, we have one about 25 minutes from here, so I will have to check there! I'm on a miso mission now!

05/05/2014 10:47am

I absolutely love this! I'm going to make it today or tomorrow! That pecan dressing is playing my heartstrings like a mandolin - looks so good!!

Fermented food lovers unite!!

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05/05/2014 11:02am

Hey Julia! Thanks so much! I hope you love it :) Also, you're comments are like beautiful haiku poetry -so charming!

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05/05/2014 12:19pm

This is a beautiful bowl! & filled with all those high nutrition yummy things! Oh, I'd love this for lunch today. Thanks also for the things you've learned. I so agree! I've always thought that the foods we eat are so personal, and what's healthy for one person may not work for another. Thanks for the lovely pictures too! :)

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05/05/2014 1:37pm

Hi Debi! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! Makes me smile :)

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05/09/2014 9:26pm

This looks so so good!

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05/10/2014 7:44am

Hey Suzanne! It was a mighty tasty dinner -if I do say so myself ;)

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05/10/2014 3:44pm

I just happen to have some pecans and that sauce looks awesome!

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05/10/2014 4:32pm

Hey Mila! I highly recommend that you put those pecans to good use ;)

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