Probiotic Cleansing Soup

Once every few weeks, it can feel rejuvenating to eat the same thing for a day. This practice gives the digestive system a chance to re-calibrate and rest. Since a large part of our stress response is triggered by the enteric nervous system in our gut. this day-long cleanse helps to reduce anxiety and depression as well.

In traditional nutritional philosophies such as Ayurveda from India, this concept of periodic meal simplification is common and often takes the form if eating kitchari, a simple meal made up of rice, lentils, spices and vegetables.

This spring, try eating this cleansing and nourishing probiotic soup for three meals a day on a day off. You will move forward feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and energized.

Probiotic Leek Soup

You will need:

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  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 5 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 large leeks, rinsed and chopped

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced

  • 1 bunch chard, chopped

  • 1 cup artichoke hearts

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 inch kombu seaweed

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh basil

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the leeks and celery. Cook, covered, until these are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add zucchini and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Add the chard and artichoke hearts.

Add the water and kombu and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add the basil. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender.

Enjoy! Feel free to eat as much as you want during your one-day cleanse.

Cool, Green Summer

We find balance in summer weather by eating foods that are bitter (cooling, moist), such as: unsweetened cocoa, olives, dandelion, kale, celery, and amaranth leaves. It is also important to take time to rest, sit in the shade, breathe deeply, and absorb the green color that surrounds us.

These are the healing properties of summer herbs:

Basil – anti-bacterial, digestive, and aromatic, this member of the mint family stimulates growth of white blood cells and protects against unwanted bacterial growth.

Cilantro – the leaf of the coriander plant stimulates the secretion of insulin and helps lower levels of total and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), while actually increasing levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). Cilantro’s volatile oils have antimicrobial properties.

Parsley – purifying, anti-dandruff, digestive, and tonic, parsley is also rich in Vitamin C to decrease inflammation, beta carotene to help prevent infection and strengthen immunity, and folic acid (B vitamin) to support cardiovascular health.

VELVETY GREEN SOUP

You will need:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced

  • 1 bunch chard, chopped

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen peas

  • 3 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh basil

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots and onions.

Cook, covered, until they are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add zucchini and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the chard and peas. Add the water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add the basil. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender.

Chop the rosemary and use as garnish. Serve with cooked quinoa. This soup is excellent chilled, too!

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HERBED PESTO

You will need:

  • 2 cups fresh basil

  • ½ cup fresh cilantro

  • ½ cup fresh parsley¼ cup pumpkin OR sunflower seeds1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Place basil, seeds, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor.

Make a coarse pesto and set aside.

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Recipes for Spring Renewal

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Five Element Theory (TCM), the flavor of Spring is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind.

Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring. In India’s time-honored tradition of

Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the

European / Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

Spring is a wonderful time to engage in a food meditation while cooking. As you chop, stir, and smell, try to be quiet and pay attention to the alchemy of cooking. This practice, along with the inclusion of sour foods and bitter greens, will help you feel more patient, calm, assertive, flexible, and alert.

Creamy Green Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • 1 large bunch kale, collards and/or chard

Chop onions. 

Add oil to a skillet. When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Add a splash or two of water. Add salt and black pepper.

Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a medium stock pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Rinse and chop  kale, collards and/or chard. Add greens to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Braise greens for 5-10 minutes.

Add greens to onions. Stir well to incorporate and purée with immersion blender or food processor. Enjoy as a condiment for grains, as a delicious sauce for salmon, and as a sandwich spread.

Walnut Leek Paté

Chop one large leek into crescents and place in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes on low heat. Add a splash of lemon juice and turn off heat.

While leek is cooking, place ½ cup walnut halves/pieces in a skillet.Toast on medium heat, tossing often with a spatula, for about 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly browned.

Once leeks and walnuts are cooked, place them in a food processor and add 3 Tablespoons olive oil. You can also place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with an immersion blender.

Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.

Serve and enjoy with biscuits or savory breads or as a dip with steamed broccoli. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

Dandelion Pesto

In Italian, ‘pesto’ simply means ‘stomp’. You can ‘stomp’ any fresh herbs or greens you like into pesto. Get creative! Try a combination of parsley and cilantro, basil and parsley, or dandelion and nettles.

Harvest as many fresh, tender dandelion greens as you can. Aim for about 3 packed cups. Rinse well.

In a food processor or blender, blend into a thick paste:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup best olive oil (labeled with acidity of less than 0.5%)

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Add dandelion greens. Pulse to incorporate.

Freeze large batches or enjoy with sourdough rye bread, over freshly cooked quinoa, or as a topping for poached white fish or white beans. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

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Spring Tonics

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables available.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and its cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine systems.

Rejuvenating Nettle Soup

You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 large shallots

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: coriander and turmeric

  • 2 large zucchini

  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground brown mustard

  • 4 cups freshly harvested young nettle tops

  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock

  • 1 cup chopped green olives

Peel and dice shallots.

Place oil in a soup pot, warm it to medium heat, and sauté shallots for 5 minutes.

Add spices. Sauté for a few more minutes.

Dice zucchini and add to the skillet. Add mustard and olives.

Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the water / stock and nettles.

Bring everything to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.

You can add marinated tempeh or roasted chicken to the soup for a delicious meal.

Nettles (Urtica dioica): warming and drying, nettles alleviate water retention, boost our body’s stores of iron and offer many other nutritive minerals. Gently cleansing, they can help mitigate the effects of seasonal allergies.  Use the young, fresh leaves in soup, pasta sauce, or as tea.

Olive oil: monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

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Spring Greens

Now is the time to enjoy the savory, bitter, and sour flavors that prepare our bodies for spring.

Try these wonderful greens in your meals.

Broccoli

This wonderful vegetable is a favorite of kids, who tend to think it looks like little trees. It's high in fiber for digestive support. It contains B vitamins for heart health and helps the lymphatic system to cleanse itself.

Break it into florets, or 'trees', steam it for 3 minutes, and season it with pesto or lemon tahini sauce. Toss it with cooked spaghetti for a quick dinner or use it as a pizza topping once it's steamed.

It's much easier to digest when cooked, and steaming doesn't affect its health benefits.

Mustard Greens

This spicy cruciferous green is high in fiber to support elimination and vitamin K to promote healthy bones. The phytonutrients that make it so spicy are the same ones that encourage the body to cleanse and shed winter's heaviness.

Try them braised in coconut milk with garlic, ginger, and turmeric. I also like to add them to stir fried dishes. Their mild pungency decreases with cooking, so do not worry about them being too spicy for you.

Arugula

This delicious salad green is hearty and grows well in the cold spring months. It's high in vitamins A, B-6, C, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help maintain balanced mental health and detoxify the system. Arugula also contains copper and iron, which contribute to a balanced metabolism and reduction in cravings.

I like to serve it raw in salads, over grains, or tossed with cooked beans or chopped apples.

Bok Choy

This green, originally cultivated in Japan is high in omega-3s for brain function and rich in Vitamin K to strengthen bones and decrease inflammation. 

It cooks up quickly and has a nice tang. Cut heads in half lengthwise and sauté in a small amount of olive oil for 5 minutes. Dress with lemon, salt and black pepper.

Serve with white beans or white fish.

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