My breakfast: Green Smoothie, Scrambled Eggs, Kimchi, Avocado and Green Tea

When people find out that I’m a foodie with a background in nutrition, they often ask: “What do you recommend for breakfast?” So, here’s a post about a breakfast I would recommend — my breakfast this morning.

As shown in the photo, I had a green smoothie (recipe below), scrambled eggs with  green onions, kimchi, avocado slices with balsamic vinegar, and green tea.

Very Slightly Sweet Green Smoothie to Eat with a Spoon

This smoothie is loaded with fresh green veggie goodness and has very little sugar or carbs! Whip up batch and store it in the refrigerator so it’s ready to grab and enjoy anytime! It’s perfect for eating mindfully with a spoon — or maybe not so mindfully while preparing breakfast or packing lunches for the day.


2 small/medium zucchini (about  10 ounces)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, including the stems (3 1/2 to 4 ounces)
1/2 pound fresh asparagus
2 small/medium organic cucumbers with skins on (8 ounces), cut into quarters
1 cup cold filtered water
1 cup coconut water


To bring out the delicate sweetness of the zucchini, lightly cook the it as shown in this earlier post; set aside. While the zucchini is cooking, put remaining ingredients into a blender and purée. When the zucchini is cooked, cut each one into quarters and  then add to the blender, purée until you have a smooth and thick consistency.

Food and Nutrition Notes 

Cilantro – This amazing herb has been used to bind heavy metals and purify polluted water! Maybe it can do the same in the body? I couldn’t find any hard science on this, but surely some scientists somewhere must be working on this! For a summary of cilantro’s health benefits see Wikipedia.

Coconut water – Coconut water is delicious and also lower in sugar than many fruit juices! And it has other benefits as well, as mentioned by this article at And here’s a great article about how to choose the best tasting and healthiest brand of coconut water. Based on the information I learned from reading this article and price considerations, I chose to order Harvest Bay Coconut Water (from Amazon). It has 10 grams of carbs per 250 ml (~8.3 ounces) — a lower carb count than most of the other brands. (After we try it, I’ll post a comment here to let you know what I thought of it.)

Asparagus – According to a 2013 review article in the journal, Nutrients, asparagus is a good source of prebiotic fiber, which is the kind of fiber that probiotic bacteria (the good bacteria for your gut) need in order to thrive. “Prebiotics occur naturally in foods such as leeks, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, wheat, oats, and soybeans.”

Eggs from pasture-raised chickens - Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are the healthiest eggs. But these eggs can be pricy. For example, at Whole Foods, one dozen Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs cost about $7.00! Fortunately, at farmer’s markets, you often find pasture-raised eggs for a few dollars less, or about $5.00 a dozen.

Green onions (scallions)Green onions are an unheralded super food, according to Jo Robinson who spent 10 years doing research for her book, Eating on the Wild Side. Here’s what Jo has to say about green onions: “green onions, they have 100 times more phytonutrients than other onions in the store. They’re inexpensive, they’re common and they’re unheralded super foods. It’s the green portions that are the best for you; when you’re chopping them up, make sure you chop up all the green portions too.”

Kimchi – Kimchi’s health promoting properties are amazing! I like the Wildbrine Korean Kimchi available at many health food stores. To learn more about kimchi, see an earlier post on this blog.

Avocado – Very interesting info about the amazing nutritional properties of avocado can be found at  the website, The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Green tea and lemon juiceto boost the absorption of the antioxidants in green tea, add a little lemon juice to your tea. Having this organic lemon juice on hand makes it easy to add lemon just to tea (or whatever) anytime.

Enjoy and be healthy!



Delicious Low-Carb Coffee Milk Shake with Protein

Delicious Low-Carb Coffee Milk Shake with Protein
Delicious Low-Carb Coffee Milk Shake with Protein

My mom had a tooth extracted recently. After that ordeal, I wanted  to provide her with something tasty and easy to eat that would give her a fair amount of protein. So I came up with this recipe! Mom liked it — and so did I. In fact, I’ve had this shake for breakfast myself a few times already! It’s delicious!


1 cup vanilla almond milk (at refrigerator temperature) 1/2 cup  half & half from grass-fed milk (at refrigerator temperature) 1 scoop of whey protein powder (see Ingredient  Notes) Instant coffee (regular or decaf), to taste Maple syrup, just a little, if desired


Place all of the ingredients into a quart-size jar, screw on the lid, and shake the jar until it’s well mixed and a bit frothy.  Pour into individual glasses, with our without ice.

You can make double this recipe in a quart-size jar, and what you don’t drink up right away can be kept for another day or two. Just the lid back on the jar and refrigerate.

Ingredient Notes

  • Whey Protein powder – Milk contains 2 proteins: whey and casein. The protein powder I used, Biochem Ultimate 100% Whey Protein (Natural), contains just whey. in the form of whey protein isolate. It also contains natural french vanilla flavor,  sunflower lecithin, and xanthan gum, and has 22 grams of protein per scoop. There are about 30 scoops in a 24-ounce can. I have found this product at Whole Foods and on Amazon. Any fractionated food like this is not something I would depend on a lot in my diet — but for a small amount of your daily protein, if you like it (and don’t find it too expensive), why not use it?
  • Half and half made from grass-fed cows – The first time I made this shake, I used store-bought half and half. The second time, though, I made my own half and half by mixing  some lovely organic grass-fed heavy cream with organic grass-fed milk (1 part cream to 4 parts whole milk or 1 ounce of heavy cream and 3 ounces of whole milk or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and 6 tablespoons of whole milk), as explained in the post. Note: By comparison, a cup of ice cream has about 1/2 cup heavy cream in it.

Preparation Note

If you use a quart-size canning jar with measurement markings on the side,  you don’t have to even dirty a measuring cup! They sell such jars by the dozen on Amazon. But I see you can find these for a better price elsewhere, so it might pay to shop around. If you decide to buy these jars, be sure you get the “wide mouth” jars. Wide mouth jars can be used to freeze foods, but the “regular mouth”jars are not good for freezing — they tend to break when defrosting!

Nutrition Note

I used to be a dietitian and all my professional life I told people to avoid foods rich in saturated fat, such as cream. Now I’m giving my mom cream! The field of nutrition is going through a major shift — from backing the low-fat diet (which by necessity is high carb) to finally admitting that nutrition science supports a higher fat (and lower carb) diet. If you want to understand this paradigm shift, check out the new New York Times Bestselling book, The Big Fat Surprise – Why Butter, Meat, Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.

Enjoy and be healthy! ~ Leni

Kimchi with Sautéed Cabbage

Sautéed Cabbage with Kimchi
Kimchi with Sautéed Cabbage

Kimchi, that spicy, smelly, fermented vegetable dish the Koreans adore and eat with every meal, is oh-so-healthy and delicious — if you’ve acquired a taste for it.

According to the Journal of Medicinal Food (2014), the health promoting properties of kimchi are: “anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.”

Kimchi is a great source of probiotics (live, healthful bacteria). And the lively bacteria in kimchi continue to do good work in your digestive system. On the other hand, the probiotics in many supplements may not be alive.  In addition, kimchi, especially if you make it yourself, is a lot less expensive than probiotic supplements.

Never tasted kimchi? No problem! Here’s a recipe for kimchi newbies that mixes pungent store-bought kimchi with slightly sweet sautéed cabbage.

Note: This recipe does not include measurements. Just mix it up however you like! If you’re a kimchi novice, start with less kimchi. If you love kimchi, use more.

Avocado oil
Fresh ginger, diced
Cabbage (green), cut into long ribbons about 1/3 inch wide
Store-bought kimchi, cut into small pieces
Red onions, diced
Fresh cilantro, chopped


Heat a large heavy sauté pan over medium high heat, and when somewhat hot, add avocado oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot (starts to shimmer), add the diced ginger and sauté for about 10 seconds. Then add the sliced cabbage and stir constantly for 1 – 2 minutes, or until the cabbage is lightly wilted. Remove from heat.

Assemble the dish:

  • Put the sautéed cabbage on a plate.
  • Top with kimchi.
  • Pour a little of the liquid from the jar of kimchi over the kimchi. (Note: When you pour off this liquid, be sure there’s still enough liquid in the jar to keep the kimchi covered/submerged. This keeps the good bacteria in a relatively anaerobic environment so they can do their work, and in doing so they keep the kimchi from spoiling.)
  • Scatter diced red onions and fresh cilantro on top.
  • Serve as a first course  or side dish.


Cook with kimchi?

The Koreans do, but traditionally they use kimchi that they no longer consider good enough to eat. Note: Heating (or freezing) any probiotic-rich food kills most of the probiotics.

How long can I store kimchi? 

This Kimchi Q & A from answers many questions, including how long you can store kimchi.

And what about mold that you may sometimes find on top of the kimchi in a jar  that’s been stored for a while? Some say you can skim off the mold and eat the kimchi below.  I could not find an authoritative source about mold and kimchi, but I can’t see why this information about surface mold on sauerkraut, from Wild Fermentation (Sandor Katz’s website), would not be applicable.

Safety note: If the mold is not just on the surface, throw your kimchi away! And if the kimchi smells bad (not the usual smell), don’t taste it, throw it away. And make a fresh batch!

How to open a jar of kimchi

The first kimchi I bought at the store, went into the garbage disposal. I thought it was not safe to eat because it bubbled over when I opened it. Later I learned that the good-for-you bacteria (probiotics) in kimchi produce gas, and sometimes when you open the jar, especially for the first time or after a long time, the gas in the kimchi causes the liquid to bubble over or release a fine spray.

To keep the kimchi liquid from spilling  over onto the kitchen counter or spraying into your face:

  • Put a plate under the jar of kimchi so that if it bubbles over, the liquid goes onto the plate, not the counter.
  • Place a paper towel over the lid when lifting the lid for the first time so that the spray, if any, will hit the paper towel and not your face.

Make kimchi at home! It’s easy!


Avocado oil – Avocado oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fat, the same healthy fat that’s in olive oil. But unlike olive oil, avocado oil has a smoke point of 500 degrees F so you can use it for high heat cooking, such as sautéing — without destroying the oil and creating nasty by-products like trans fats and peroxides.

Ginger – Ginger has many health benefits, including aiding digestion and reducing bloating and gas. So when eating a “gassy vegetable” like cabbage, you may want to include ginger in the meal! To learn about the health benefits of ginger, check out Herb of the Month: Ginger on Dr. Oz’s blog.

Red onionsTo get the most anti-cancer fighting properties from onions, choose small yellow or red ones and eat them raw or just slightly cooked. And if they are too pungent to eat raw, here’s a trick to reduce their bite: Put the onions in a container and add water to cover the onions. Put the lid on the container and then shake it for about 20 seconds. Drain out the water. The remaining onions will be more mild. Unfortunately, this process will rinse off some of the nutritional value (from the sulfur).


I can’t wait to make two batches of kimchi – Maangchi’s Cubed Radish Kimchi and Mother In Law’s Nappa Cabbage Kimchi — and you are invited to join me! So if you are in the Reston area and want to come over to make of a batch kimchi, send me an email at

Enjoy and be healthy!