Balance Your Hormones

Everyone thrives when their hormones are balanced. Lack of adequate hormone secretion can affect mood, digestion, and fertility. For female-bodied people, there are not any foods that contain estrogen or progesterone. However, certain nutrients support the body’s natural process of producing these hormones in a balanced way. Since most of the neurotransmitters that produce our hormones live in our intestines, using food to balance hormones is very effective!

After age 35, progesterone levels tend to decrease and estrogen levels increase. This slow process eventually leads to menopause. We can support this gentle change while we are still in the child-bearing years (until age 43 on average) by boosting progesterone levels.

Here is a list of progesterone-stimulating nutrients and their food sources in order of importance. Don’t feel like you need to get all of these nutrients every day. Focus on L-Arginine, Magnesium, and B Vitamins.

L-Arginine: aim for 6 grams per day

  • Turkey – 4 ounces contain about 16 grams

  • Chicken – 4 ounces contains 9 grams

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 1 cup contains 7 grams

  • Chickpeas – 1 cup contains 1.3 grams

Magnesium: aim for 500 mg per day

  • Spinach – 79mg per 100g

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 534mg per 100g

  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 97mg per 100g

  • Brown Rice – 44mg per 100g

  • Dark Chocolate (70% or higher) – 327mg per 100g

  • Vital Calm Magnesium powder – 320mg per serving

Vitamin C: aim for 1,000 mg daily (do not exceed)

  • Yellow Peppers –3mg per large pepper

  • Kale and Collard Greens – 120mg per 100g

  • Kiwi – 64mg per Kiwi

  • Broccoli – 89.2mg per 100g

  • Oranges – 69.7mg

Vitamin B6: aim for 25 mg per day

  • Sunflower Seeds –35mg per 100g

  • Pistachio Nuts – 1.12 mg per 100g

  • Tuna – 1.04mg per 100g (cooked)

  • Turkey – 0.81mg per 100g (cooked)

  • Prunes – 0.75mg per 100g

Vitamin E: aim for 150 mg per day

  • Almonds – 2mg per 100g

  • Sunflower Seeds – 3mg per 100g

  • Shrimp – 2mg per 100g of Shrimp

  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 8mg per 100g

  • Olive Oil – 4mg per 100g

Zinc: aim for 25 mg per day

  • Beef – 12.3mg per 100g

  • Wheat Germ – 16.7mg per 100g

  • Pumpkin and Squash Seeds – 10.3mg per 100g

  • Cashews – 5.6mg per 100g

Here are some recipes that include hormone-balancing ingredients.

Easy Trail Mix

You will need:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

  • 1 cup almonds

  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1/4 cup cashews

  • 3 tablespoons pure Grade B maple syrup

  • A pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup prunes,chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients except the prunes until well mixed.

Spread mixture in an even single layer on the lined baking sheets.

Bake the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place back into bowl, add chopped prunes and toss to combine. Cool completely.

Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lemony Turkey Stew

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 pound organic ground turkey

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 cups kale, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, oregano and salt

  • 1 bunch kale

  • 1 inch chopped kombu or wakame seaweed

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté turkey on medium high heat with vinegar, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, ginger, cabbage, seaweed and spices. Stir well. Add the kale and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and stir in lemon juice. 

Serve and enjoy!

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Moussaka

This incredibly comforting and delicious dish is akin to a Middle Eastern version of Sheperd's Pie.

The spices are warming (cinnamon), digestive (coriander and black pepper), and anti-bacterial (allspice and oregano).

Enjoy!

Know that you can make it vegan by using kidney beans instead of turkey or beef and olive oil instead of butter.

Moussaka

For the sauce:

  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef (hormone / antibiotic free)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 chopped onion

  • 4 chopped garlic cloves

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, coriander, allspice, black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cup tomatoes (diced)

  • 1/4 cup red wine

  • Salt to taste

For the layers:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 2 eggplants or 3 zucchini

  • 3 Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes

  • Olive oil

Prepare the sauce by chopping the onions and sautéeing then in olive oil for 5 minutes or until translucent.

Add the garlic, spices and beef or turkey. At the wine and stir well with a metal spatula until meat is thoroughly cooked.

Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thick.

Remove bay leaf.

Meanwhile, slice the eggplant or zucchini, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast at 415 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Boil the potatoes, drain three quarters of the boiling water, mix with nutmeg and butter and mash thoroughly with a fork or potato masher. Set aside.

Reduce oven heat to 375.

Oil a 9x9 baking dish or small rectangular casserole dish. 

Assemble the moussaka:

place a layer of beef/turkey sauce on the bottom;

Arrange half of the eggplant/zucchini over it;

Cover it with another layer of beef;

Add the rest of the zucchini/eggplant;

Smooth the potatoes over the top.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden.

Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

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Get Your B Vitamins!

Many kinds of B vitamins are important to human health: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Each of the B vitamins has a unique and essential function:

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate: red blood cell production and nervous system health

Biotin and pantothenic acid: healthy metabolism

Niacin and thiamin: cardiovascular health and energy production

Riboflavin: production of skin cells, nails, and hair

The B vitamins are necessary cofactors in an essential cellular process called the methylation cycle. In this cycle, all three B vitamins are used to convert a potentially damaging molecule called homocysteine into the useful amino acid cysteine. When levels of these B vitamins are low, blood levels of homocysteine rise—a situation that has been shown in numerous studies to significantly increase the risk for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Luckily, homocysteine levels can be kept in balance by eating a diet high in the following foods.

Whole Grains (high in B6 and B12): brown rice, oats, kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

Vegetables (high in folate): spinach (also contains B6), parsley, broccoli (also contains niacin & riboflavin), kale (also contains niacin & riboflavin), beets, turnip and mustard greens (also contain B6), asparagus, romaine lettuce, bell peppers (also contain B6)

Fruit (high in B6): banana, mango, avocado (also contains pantothenic acid)

Legumes (high in folate and niacin): all lentils, green peas

Nuts / Seeds (high in B6, B12, folate and niacin): almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds

Animal Protein (high in folate, B6 and B12): beef, chicken / beef liver (also contains biotin), chicken (also contains niacin & riboflavin), pastured eggs (also contain biotin, niacin & riboflavin), wild salmon (also contains riboflavin)

Be sure to include food sources of B vitamins all year round! Some of us may need supplementation of specific B vitamins. If you would like to learn about ways to tailor your dietary needs to your personal constitution, please schedule a nutritional consultation here.

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Deep Winter Nourishment

Happy New Year!

Some of us celebrate with lights, toasts, and foods that delight our palates. Others choose to chant, meditate, or retreat and eat simple foods. No matter how you bring in the new year, set an intention.

Imagine yourself happy, healthy, feeling vibrant in your body, and intuitively knowing which foods are best for your body.

To find connection with this deep internal body wisdom, eat mindfully and nourish yourself with wholesome foods that are rich in good quality fats. Fats soothe the nervous system, provide warmth, uplift the mood, and ease stress. Here are some recipes to try this winter.

Chicken Stock

Place 2 pounds of pastured chicken legs into a large stock pot and cover with 10 cups cold water.

Coarsely chop and add vegetables: 3 stalks celery (1 1/2 cups), 2 onions, (2 cups), and 3 carrots (2 cups). Add 2 teaspoons each: salt and pepper.

You can also add: 2 inches fresh ginger root to make a warming, spicy stock; 2 Tablespoons each astragalus root and reishi mushroom slices to enhance the immune boosting properties of the stock.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 1-2 hours.

Remove the bones and strain the stock. Save the vegetables, purée them in a blender with olive oil, and eat as a spread on bread.

You can store the stock in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Use the stock to cook rice, kale, or make soup.

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Winter Chicken Stew

You will need:

  • 1 pound chicken: use boneless drumsticks or thighs

  • To make a vegetarian dish, substitute 2 cups cooked red lentils.

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 4 carrots, chopped into crescents

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 turnip, chopped

  • 1 bunch kale, chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Chop onions.

Heat oil in large soup pot.

Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the spices, stir and sauté on medium heat for 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add carrots, turnip and celery. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom. Add the chicken pieces and 2 cups water. Cover and allow to cook for ½ hour (or until chicken is done).

Add kale and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Serve with shitake rice.

Shiitake Rice

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 2 inches seaweed: kombu or wakame (I like Ironbound Island brand)

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 cups napa cabbage, chopped

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice

  • 2 cups water or chicken stock (see above)

Chop onions and shitakes.

Heat oil in a deep skillet. Add onions and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until browning. Add shitakes and sauté for 10 more minutes, or until soft. Add tamari, seaweed, vinegar, and pepper. Add cabbage, rice and stock / water. Stir well to incorporate.

Cook, covered, on low heat for 30 minutes or until you see air bubbles on the surface of the rice.

Serve warm.

Freezable Meals

I so appreciate all who comment on these posts and make requests for more. Your feedback lets me know that this information is useful and allows me to learn how I can best be of service to you.

Thank you!

Based on requests, here are ideas for meals you can prepare in advance and freeze to have on hand in a pinch. Because we are pregnant, I am starting to freeze meals for the time after the birth. Whether or not you are expecting, this practice is a great way to incorporate healthy food into your diet no matter the circumstances.

Holiday time often gets full, and there's not always time to cook whole grains, mineral-rich vegetables, and nourishing proteins. By preparing this dishes ahead of time and enjoying them during the holidays, you will feel better, help ward off the cold and flu, and enjoy your down time more.

To start, get all the ingredients for two or three of these dishes. Have enough containers to store all the food in the freezer. Set aside two hours of time where you will not be interrupted, Invite a friend or a family member to cook with you if you like. Put on music and make it fun!

When you freeze, make appropriate portions. If a meal serves four and there are two of you, split it into two containers. Fill containers three quarters full so that they have room to expand once they freeze. Once you are done, label containers with the contents and date. I like using masking tape and a permanent marker.

Remember to make a list of what's in the freezer and tack it onto the fridge. This way, you will remember to eat these healthy delights! The night before you wan to eat them, remove from freezer and place in the fridge to thaw.

Chicken and Quinoa Soup

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 leek, chopped

  • 1 pound free-range chicken, with bones

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 cups chard or kale, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, oregano and salt

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté onion and leek for 15 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown. Splash with apple cider vinegar.

Add the chicken and sauté on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, garlic, ginger, and spices. Stir well. Add the chard, quinoa and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and stir in lemon juice.

Cool and store in portion-sized containers. This soup is a complete meal and serves four. 

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Chicken Breasts Baked in Rosemary Lemon Sauce

You will need:

  • 6 medium chicken breasts with skin

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup almond or cow milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place chicken in an oiled baking dish.

Whisk all ingredients together. Pour over chicken.

Bake skin side up 25- 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Freeze with wild rice pilaf in labeled, portion-sized containers.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Onions, Almonds and Peas

You will need:

  • 1 cup wild rice blend

  • 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon brown mustard

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper and salt

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups peas, fresh or frozen

  • ½ cup organic almonds

Cook rice in 5 cups water or stock. Add a pinch of salt as rice cooks.

Meanwhile, chop onion and cook in olive oil in a deep skillet. Add water to prevent sticking. Add salt, pepper, coriander and mustard. Stir well, close with a lid, and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes, or until golden. Once rice is cooked and onion is golden, mix them together. Add peas and almonds. Stir well to incorporate. 

Freeze with chicken breasts.

Aloo Saag - India-Inspired Potatoes and Spinach

You will need:

  • 4 medium white or red potatoes, boiled until just fork tender

  • 2 teaspoons coriander

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 5 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, roughly chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Boil the potatoes whole. Run them under cold water once they are cooked. Then, cut the potatoes into small wedges.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry until they are golden brown, gently stirring often, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, until each handful is slightly wilted.

Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, stir in the salt and cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid from the spinach has evaporated.

Serve with red lentils but freeze separately.

Red Lentils in a Spiced Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 cups cooked red lentils

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1 bunch kale or collards, chopped

  • 1/3 cup olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin and coriander powders

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • Salt to taste

Bring lentils to a boil with 4 cups water. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and then cook for 30 minutes, or until they are reduced to a soft paste.

Meanwhile, chop onions. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes. Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes. Add lime juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop greens and ginger. Add to skillet. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom. Add the cooked red lentils and ½ cup water. Cover and cook for ½ hour more. 

Freeze separately from aloo saag. Reheat separately and serve together.

Liver and Skin Renewal

As we move towards the sweet delight of spring equinox, the chickadees are crowding into our crab apple tree, looking for berries. Despite the cold nights, sunshine feels more potent than ever.

I am pausing to feel the awe that comes from looking up into the sky and feeling the expansive nature of consciousness.

Take a deep breath and bring brightness your next meal with this white fish dish.

Burdock and kelp cleanse and soothe the lymph and skin while promoting liver rejuvenation to prepare for the warmer months ahead.

Vegetable Ragout with White Fish

You will need:

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 1/2 inch ginger root, chopped

  • 1 inch burdock, peeled and chopped

  • 1 bunch kale or collards, chopped

  • 2 handfuls kelp

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 Tablespoon coriander powder

  • ½ Tablespoon cumin seed powder

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

  • Salt to taste

  • 1 pound Atlantic cod or haddock

Chop onions.

Heat coconut oil in large skillet.

Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes.

Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes.

Add lime juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Peel and chop burdock. Add to skillet.

Chop greens and ginger. Add to skillet. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom.

Add ½ cup water, kelp and white fish. Cover and cook for ½ hour more.

Enjoy! Try it with kasha biscuits

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Soup!

During this last moon cycle before spring equinox, I like to strengthen immunity and soothe my winter-weary spirit with soup. Here are some tips to cook ahead and be flexible with this delicious one-pot wonder. 

The Building Blocks of Soup


Protein: Next time you cook protein like beans, eggs, chicken, beef, tempeh, or tofu, make a double batch for soup. Perhaps you a roasted a chicken earlier in the week, or boiled pinto beans for tacos — whatever you have leftover will make the perfect addition to your soup.

Grains: Did you eat millet, rice, buckwheat, or oats recently? All of these make a great add-in to enrich soups and offer filling fiber. If you don’t have any left over, rice noodles and oats (yes, savory oats are delicious!) cook quickly and are terrific in soup.

Vegetables: Have leftover cooked broccoli, kale, or carrots? Blend veggies and add them to your broth! Not only does this put leftovers to good use, but it’s a great way to sneak added nutrients into your meal without your kids even knowing they are eating veggies.

Slow Cooker Magic
Let soup cook during the day! Slow cookers are helpful: simply throw some ingredients in before you leave the house and by the time you get home you’ll have a delicious stew waiting to be served. 

Try this general guideline: three parts liquid (try chicken or vegetable broth), one part protein, one part starch (beans or whole grains) and tons of vegetables. Layer them with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and raw grains on the bottom, raw vegetables and spices/salt in the middle, cooked protein on top - all covered with liquid.

To prepare slow cooker soup ingredients ahead, set aside an hour on your day off to divide out chicken/beans, potatoes, veggies, whole grains, and anything else you want in your soups into re-sealable freezer bags. On busy days, you can simply dump the bag in the slow cooker on your way out the door in the morning.

Slow Cooker Soup Recipes

Mung Bean Vegetable Soup
You will need:
1 cup cooked mung beans (about 1/2 cup dry beans)

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
2 large yellow onions
4 stalks celery
½ inch fresh ginger root
1 turnip, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 bunch collard greens, chopped
1 teaspoon each: garam masala and coriander seed powder
½ Tablespoon each: cumin seed powder and turmeric root powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish of cilantro if desired

Soak beans at breakfast and cook in slow cooker overnight (from 6pm to 6am for example).
Rinse and drain in the morning. 
To the bottom of the slow cooker, add oil and rice.
Add all the vegetables
Add spices.
Add cooked mung beans. 
Cover with 5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable).
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

***
Zucchini Soup
You will need:
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion
1 inch fresh, chopped ginger root
Salt and pepper to taste (1 teaspoon each)
1 teaspoon each: turmeric, coriander, cumin and thyme
4 large zucchini, chopped into crescents
1 bunch fresh basil

In a slow cooker, add oil, onions, ginger, and spices.
Add zucchini.
Cover with 3 cups water or stock.
Cook for 6 hours on low heat.
Wash and chop 1 bunch basil. Add to soup, stir, and turn off heat.
Blend soup with immersion blender or in food processor. Enjoy!

***
Tuscan Ribollita Soup
You will need:
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, peeled and chopped into crescents
3 carrots, chopped into cubes
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock (make your own or choose a brand with no sugar)
1 cup cooked cannellini or great northern beans
1 sprig fresh rosemary OR 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
½ cup rolled oats
Soak beans at breakfast and cook in slow cooker overnight (from 6pm to 6am for example).
Rinse and drain in the morning. 
To the bottom of the slow cooker, add oil, celery, onions, garlic and carrots. 
Add sauteed sausage if using.
Add beans.
Add the kale and oats. 
Add the tomatoes with their juices, broth and rosemary. Add 3 cups water.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Wolf Moon Recipes for Warmth and Comfort

As the January full moon wanes and we sink into the simple beauty of white snow and cold nights, enjoy warming foods to strengthen your spirit and your immune system.

Turkey Meatloaf

1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1 teaspoon each: salt black pepper, coriander, thyme
1 teaspoon each: mustard and lemon juice
1 Tablespoon each: olive oil and water

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots cook for another 5 minutes; remove from heat to cool.

Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, carrots, egg, and spices in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.

Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F. Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Orange October Soups

This is the new moon that heralds autumn. It is time to nourish, go inside, ground down, and fill the freezer with soup.
Make these bright, beautiful sunny soups all at once, freeze portions, and enjoy during the month of October. Be well.

Sweet Potato Soup
You will need:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 large sweet potatoes
1 large onion, loosely diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves (optional)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
3 c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

To garnish:
Avocado slices drizzled with lime juice
 
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep sautee pan.  

Add onion and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat until onion is clear and soft.

Add diced sweet potatoes.  Sautee for 7-8 minutes or until ingredients turn golden brown.
Reduce heat to low, add garlic, and cook 10 more minutes, until vegetables are a caramel color.

In a separate soup pot, add 1 Tbsp. oil, ginger, and the spices.  Sautee 5 minutes on medium heat, until the spices are fragrant.  

Add broth/water and vegetables to soup pot.  Add tahini.
Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Puree in a blender or mash with a potato masher.
Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Garnish with avocado and lime.

***
Peanut Soup
 

You will need:
Sesame or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

1 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon each: fenugreek seeds (or powdered fenugreek) and cinnamon
pinch cayenne if desired

1/4 cup peanut butter (you can substitute almond or cashew butter if you like)
3 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups stewed tomatoes

1 cup chicken or tofy, sautéed in:
2 Tablespoons sesame or olive oil
1 teaspoon Tamari (i.e. wheat-free soy sauce)

chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


Sauté onion on low heat for 10 minutes, until browned. Add carrots, garlic and ginger. Add spices and sauté on low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Add nut butter and stir to dissolve.
Add broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to summer and cook about 30 minutes on medium-low heat.


Prepare chicken or tofu.
Add to soup pot.
Mince cilantro and mix into soup.


Serve hot with rice and lime wedges.

***
Pumpkin Cashew Soup

You will need:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil 
1 can full fat, organic coconut milk (8 oz.)
1 onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
2 cups pie pumpkin, peeled and diced 
1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
pinch each: ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground coriander
freshly ground black pepper 

Heat coconut oil in a large stock pot. 

Add onion and sauté for a few minutes, until softened. Add garlic, ginger, pumpkin and cashew nuts. Save some nuts for garnish if desired. Cook gently for 2 minutes. 

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add coconut milk and simmer to 20 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.

Place into a blender or use an immersion blender and process until smooth.  

Serve with a garnish of cashews if you like.

Apple Season

It's apple season. In Vermont, the wild apples are lining the roadsides, ready for gleaners to scoop them up and make sauce or cider. These fragrant fruits have excellent medicinal value and help us transition into fall and winter.

Apples contain polyphenols and fiber to help prevent blood sugar spikes. They provide pre-biotic compounds that support intestinal flora and ease gas and bloating. Apples also contain antioxidants that help to digest fat in the cell membranes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular difficulties.

These lovely fruits, in the malus genus, are part of the Rosaceae family, to which roses also belong. Thus, it is no wonder that apples enliven our hearts and uplift our spirits.

Enjoy these apple recipes and ease into fall.


Apple Onion Tart

This tart is gorgeous and delicious. Sweet, savory, and fragrant, it is perfect for any meal.

For the crust:
1 cup almond meal
1 cup millet, freshly ground in a coffee bean grinder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: rosemary and thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Grease a pie plate with olive oil and set aside.
Grind millet in a coffee bean grinder to produce a grainy flour-like consistency.
In a mixing bowl, combine almond meal, millet flour, salt, and spices.
Make a well in the center, add olive oil, lemon juice and almond milk, whisk together, then incorporate with dry ingredients.
Press into pie plate. Make sure that the crust gets up the sides of the plate and that the thickness is relatively even all around.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove to prepare the filling.

For the filling:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 tart baking apple (McIntosh, Gravenstein or Jonathan)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, for about 15 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond milk, and nutmeg.
Stir in the onions.
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apple.
Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust and arrange the apple slices decoratively on top.
Press on the apples to slightly submerge them.
Bake until the top is lightly browned and the center is set, about 30 minutes. Let the tart stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Onions: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.


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Gingered Apples and Leafy Greens with Oven-Roasted Beets

For the apples and greens:
wash 1 bunch kale or collards. Chop length-wise.
Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil.
Grate ½ inch fresh (or frozen) ginger root into skillet. Chop 2 cloves garlic and add to skillet.
Turn heat to high and sauté onions and ginger for 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add greens.  Grate 1 granny smith apple (rinsed, with skin on) and add to skillet.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour 2 Tablespoons water over vegetables and cover with lid.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt before serving.

For the beets:
Choose 4 medium red beets for a 9x13 glass baking dish.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop beets in half, first length-wise then width-wise. Then, chop each section into cubes. Throw cubes into baking dish after they are chopped.

When the bottom of the dish is covered with one layer of diced beets, sprinkle over the top:
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon garam masala
Pour ¼ cup olive oil over the top and toss with a spatula until beets are coated well.

Slide dish into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven and toss with spatula.

Bake for 15 more minutes, cool and enjoy alone or as a soup garnish.

Dark, leafy greens: collards and kale are rich in folic acid, calcium, and fiber.


Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.   

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Kasha Biscuits
 
You will need:
¾ cup cooked kasha (buckwheat groats)
1 tart baking apple, cubed 

¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup ground flax seeds

¼ cup ground sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt



Place ½ cup dry kasha (buckwheat groats) and 1 ½ cups water in a stock pot. 
Add cubed apple.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until kasha begins to thicken.

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.



Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grind flax seeds then sunflower seeds in a spice/espresso bean grinder until they reach a flour-like consistency.

Place in a mixing bowl and add the coconut oil, cut into pearl-sized chunks.
Add spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Incorporate the cooled kasha and then the lemon juice.

Drop mix in heaping spoonfuls on a greased glad baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges have turned dark brown.

Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats): rich in the flavonoid rutin, buckwheat woks to lower lipid content in the bllodstream, thus helping maintain smooth blood flow. Buckwheat also contains almost 86 milligrams of magnesium in a one-cup serving. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure.

Coconut oil: saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.

 

Roast Rabbit and Pomegranate Risotto


I understand why American people become enamored of Italian culture. Although a reverence for local foods can be found in many places world-wide, the Mediterranean climate allows such traditions to shine through the variety of ingredients available year-round.

In Vermont, we cultivate beautiful vegetables, tend to winter-hardy fruit
trees, pasture healthy animals, and grow an impressive variety of grains. Because our growing season lasts five months at best, we do not have access to fresh foods all the time. As supplies dwindle during the cold months, so do I feel a growing desire to visit the warmer places where these foods grow year-round. 

Certain parts of California may reflect the Italian peninsula's growing season, but the scale on which food is raised does not compare to the small production to which Italy must adhere due to its mountainous geography.

With the Apennine mountains running a spine north-south and the Alps holding the northern part of the country, there are few places to cultivate anything on more than a handful of acres. Hence, even though the growing season here is luxurious, Italian food acquires a precious quality due to its small-scale production. Regional recipes are integral to the cultural paradigm. 

One of my childhood memories of is marked by the truckloads of blood oranges and clementines that make their way North from Sicily. Here in the Po River Valley, my father and I discovered an agritourism that raises rabbits and grows pomegranates, both of which get sent to other Italian provinces so that others may enjoy them. 

In honor of our local foods, we decided to make pomegranate risotto and roast rabbit with white wine and chestnuts. Risotto is a rice dish that hails from Italy and has myriads of regional variations. To make this beloved primo piatto, or first course, with the tangy crimson-seeded fruit that informs the length of Persephone's stay in the underworld, it is essential to remove the seeds from the fruit body, boil them briefly, and spin them through a sieve in order to catch the brilliant juice. This succus becomes the broth with which we cook the rice.

Rabbit meat is rich and lean, but can often profer a gamey flavor unless and retained water is removed first. We seared and rinsed the rabbit before placing it in a roasting pan with garlic and much of the rosemary and sage we collected when we visited the hill village Arqua Petrarca. These herbs, when minced, create a paste that can coat the rabbit and help it to retain its juices while roasting. We poured a quarter bottle of the whine wine made by one of my dad's university colleagues into the roasting pan and sent it on its way into the hot oven. 

Meanwhile, we sliced crescents along the rinds of chestnuts gleaned from Imperia, a nearby town on the ocean. We placed them on a baking sheet and roasted them until the nut meat began to escape from each sliced section. We wanted to peel them immediately, savor some of their sweetness as a prelude to our meal, but we had to allow them to cool. 

Instead, we sampled some of the rye bread we had baked with flour from my family's home town in the Dolomite mountains of Trentino alongside a few of the tangy, tiny black olives that my father picked and pickled in Pienza, Tuscany last year. Bread and olives can provide enough temporary respite to any hungry Italian. 

When we added the chestnuts to the rabbit, gave the risotto its final stir, poured bubbling glasses of Serprino Prosecco from the nearby Euganei Hills, and sat down to dinner, we were satisfied by the process before we ever ate one bite.

Summer Cooking Techniques

Cook your vegetables in new and delicious ways this summer!


Soffritto 


Try it with green beans.
Sauté a chopped onion, 4 chopped tomatoes, and 2 minced garlic cloves in olive oil until very soft. Add 2 pounds green beans and simmer until just tender.



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Braising with Lemon Juice

Using a vegetable peeler, cut ribbons from 1 zucchini and 1 summer squash.
Place in a deep skillet with 1 cup water and the juice of ½ lemon.

Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.
Place cooked zucchini and summer squash in a bowl and mix with 1/2 cup basil leaves, sliced thin, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well and season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.


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Grilling

Try it with corn!
Fire up a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Peel back the husks and remove the silk of the corn, and then re-cover the ears with the husks and soak them in cold water for 10 minutes. Grill the ears for 15 minutes, turning so the husks don't burn. Pull back the husks and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the corn is lightly charred. Paint the ears creating a sheen with the mayo, squeeze some fresh lime juice on top