How Does Kindness Affect Your Health?

Enjoy a Plant Based Meal Your Valentine Will Love

I believe one of the most important things we need in the world right now is more kindness toward one another. Did you know that there are scientifically proven benefits of doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness? This month, there is a whole week dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness: February 14th – 20th.

 

However, you won’t want to wait until Valentine’s Day to pay it forward when you learn about all the benefits you and others around you will experience when you simply demonstrate some simple acts of kindness.

 

Simply witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, which some call the “love hormone”. Maybe this is why Random Acts of Kindness week starts on Valentine’s Day! Oxytocin helps lower blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. It also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is helpful when we’re in anxious or shy social situations. The saying “a little bit of kindness goes a long way” isn’t just a flippant saying. It can actually make you feel more comfortable in a social setting, improve your heart health, make you feel better about yourself and increase your heart-health. How incredible is that?

 

No need for medial antidepressants, when you are kind to others, kindness actually produces serotonin. Serotonin is called the “feel-good” chemical. It can quite literally calm you down and make you happy. Kindness can reduce depression, increase well-being and life satisfaction and physical health is significantly improved. Not only do kind people produce more serotonin, but they also have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone), age slower than the average population, have more positive moods, and less anxiety. The moral of the story? Kindness matters!

 

But don’t take my word for it, you can visit www.randomactsofkindness.org, or check out their Health Facts Brochure for more information.


As Valentine’s Day is coming up and I love cooking that perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, I’d love to share with you a slightly modified version of my normal recipe for Dinner for Your Valentine. This is a version for plant-based eating and takes the normal Filet Mignon and replaces it with Cauliflower steak. Even the pickiest of eater will love the substitutes in this meal!

Ingredients

Cauliflower “Steak”

  • 2-3 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into approximately 1-inch slices
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 8-oz package pre-sliced mushrooms (baby bellas or shitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup organic vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay (or substitute white grape juice)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup dried or fresh figs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked pepper, to taste

Herbed Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 Large potatoes
  • 2/3 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon of each freshly chopped herbs (thyme, chives, parsley)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk or soy milk
  • optional: 2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (for extra creamy mashed potatoes)

 

Directions

Cauliflower “Steaks”

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Wash and cut the cauliflower, trim it up a bit but let the stalk remain and cut into 1-inch-thick slices. Don’t worry about the pieces that fall off the cauliflower – you can bake them along with your “steaks” and have some yummy florets as well.
  3. Spray or brush (depending on what kind of oil you are using) your steaks with avocado oil and sprinkle with spices.
  4. Bake them until golden brown and tender, which is just about 10-15 minutes per side.
  5. Keep warm until ready to serve

Mushroom Sauce

  1. While steaks are cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add thyme, mushrooms, and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Add broth and wine; bring to a boil.
  4. Cook until reduced by half (about 10 minutes).
  5. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  6. Add cornstarch mixture to mushroom pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  7. Serve ¼ c mushroom sauce with each steak

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  1. Toss arugula and figs in a large bowl. Whisk lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl until emulsified.
  2. Pour dressing over salad and serve.
    Makes 5 servings

Herbed Mashed Potatoes

  1. Peel potatoes and cut them in half
  2. Place them in a pot of cold water and cover.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pricked with a fork, about 30 minutes.
  4. Drain. Bring broth to a boil and turn down to simmer.
  5. Mash potatoes and combine broth, herbs, and unsweetened milk.
  6. Optional: add 2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise to make your mashed potatoes extra creamy.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    Yields 4 servings

You can see my original recipe for this meal here on my website.


Since no meal on Valentine’s Day is complete without dessert, I wanted to share one of my favorites with you. I modified this recipe for my Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies with Organic Raspberries to be plant-based as well and replaces the eggs with apple sauce. You can see the original recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2/3 cups unsweetened coco powder
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand is available at most markets)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (Bob’s Red Mill brand is available at most markets, however, if your gluten free flower already contains xanthan gum, omit this ingredient)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2/3 cups homemade sweet-potato puree (made from fresh or canned organic sweet potatoes)
  • ½ cup of unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2/3 cups organic raspberries, fresh

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350° and coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt vegan butter.
  3. Remove from heat and mix in coconut oil. Next, slowly stir in cocoa powder.
  4. Stir with a fork until the chocolate mixture resembles a thick chocolate sauce (not clumpy).
  5. Cover and set aside.
  6. In a separate small bowl mix together vanilla and espresso powder until the powder is dissolved.   Set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk gluten free flour, xanthan gum (if your flour contains this ingredient, skip this ingredient), baking powder and salt and set aside.
  8. In a medium bowl add coconut sugar to sweet potato puree and stir well.
  9. Next add apple sauce and stir until combined.
  10. Next combine flour mixture with the sweet potato mixture until no trace of the flour mixture remains.
  11. Stir in espresso mixture/vanilla mixture and chocolate mixture until the batter is dark brown.
  12. Carefully fold in fresh raspberries.
  13. Spoon into sprayed baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula coated in cooking spray.
  14. Bake until an inserted toothpick (or knife) comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
  15. Cool before serving.

If you’d like to try a festive drink to go along with your Valentine’s Day Dinner, I can’t think of a better drink to tie this whole meal together. This Skinny Pomegranate Bellini is an antioxidant-loaded sparkler has fresh pomegranates (which you will already have for your salad) and is a perfect way to toast to your true love!

Ingredients

  • crushed ice
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (orange flavored liqueur)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 20 oz champagne
  • 8 thin orange slices
  • fresh pomegranate arils (seeds)

Directions

  1. Fill martini shaker halfway with crushed ice.
  2. Add Grand Marnier and pomegranate juice; shake well to chill.
  3. Strain into 8 glass flutes.
  4. Add 5 tablespoons Champagne per glass
  5. Garnish with orange slices and a few pomegranate arils (seeds) and serve immediately.
    Serves 8 (Serving size about ½ cup.)

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and Be Kind to one Another.

 

xoxo

 

 

 

Christine

 

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