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:

leekscooking.jpg
  • 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.

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!

tetiana-bykovets-1072096-unsplash.jpg

Chickpea Tagine with Buckwheat Pancakes

During the colder months, it's important to warm our bones with healing foods such as soups and stews. This one freezes well, so you can make a double batch to thaw and enjoy at a time when life is busy.

Take a moment to slow down and breathe in the fragrance of these spices as they cook. Native to North Africa, this spice blend and concomitant stew are a wonderful way to boost your immunity and strengthen your digestion while learning about the culinary traditions of another group of people.

Tagine refers to the earthernware pot in which this dish is traditionally cooked. Records of this dish date back to the 9th century CE.

Chickpea Tagine

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, salt

  • 1 cup chopped onions

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • One 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 15 ounce can no-salt-added garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), rinsed and drained OR 2 cups cooked chickpeas

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until beginning to brown and stick to the pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Stir in 1/3 cup broth and continue to cook 4 to 5 minutes longer or until very tender. Stir in spices and tomatoes. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining vegetable broth, sweet potato, garbanzo beans, and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.

Serve with buckwheat pancakes and parsley pistou if you like.

Savory Buckwheat Pancakes

Mix together:

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup water

Cook in an oiled skillet as you would pancakes. Serve with chickpea tagine.

Parsley Pistou

In a blender, combine:

  • 2 cups flat leaf parsley, rinsed and de-stemmed

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup water

Blend well and enjoy with tagine or as a spread on bread.

photo-1510234591826-c5a87a6832c9.jpg

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!

louis-hansel-C5YnAXEEZS0-unsplash (1).jpg

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.

artur-rutkowski-2lEoPVy3oJ0-unsplash.jpg

Kitchen Essentials

I love my chef's knife. It's a Chicago Cutlery knife -  not an expensive brand - that was passed down

to me by my parents about a decade ago. I chop almost everything with my chef's knife: from onions to apples.

The key to enjoying your kitchen knives is to sharpen them regularly. This is a very quick and simple task, which will make your food preparation much easier. It's not worth the work to struggle with poor quality, dull knives! You will enjoy cooking much more when you have a good, sharp knife.

wu-yi-1228489-unsplash.jpg

To choose a chef's knife: make sure that the metal blade goes all the way through to the end of the handle. This will ensure that the knife lasts and has good leverage without bending its blade.

To choose a sharpener: go to your local hardware store and ask for a simple kitchen knife sharpener.

Mine is small and yellow

. It has criss-crossed ceramic edges that sharpen knives quickly and easily.

Now that you have a nice knife and a good sharpener, enjoy preparing food! When you return from food shopping, chop up a few days' worth of vegetables and store them in the fridge.

I like to make cubes of sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and potatoes. I use these either for roasting or for

soups

.

I chop kale, collards and chard for sautes or soups. I add chopped onions to add to almost anything, from

pot pie

to

frittata

.

Regardless of how you prepare food, please set aside time to cook and enjoy your meal!

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Trust me, I am a lover of turkey. We have the honor of roasting a bird raised by our friends at Tangletown Farm. These turkeys are a heritage breed that only feeds on grass - they are delicious. 

However, it can be nice to have an alternative to the sedating effects of the tryptophan in turkey. Here are some protein-rich vegetarian ideas for the feast.

Lentil Millet Loaf

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, ground

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

  • 1 large carrot, grated

  • 2 celery ribs, diced

  • 2 cups cooked lentils

  • 1 cup cooked millet

  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth, as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: sage, rosemary, thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a loaf pan or 8x8 square baking pan with olive oil.

Grind the sunflower seeds into a coarse meal using a food processor or spice/coffee grinder. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Sauté vegetables in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add to the large mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Mix and mash together well, adding only as much liquid as needed to create a soft, moist loaf that holds together and is not runny. Add more ground sunflower seeds if the loaf seems too wet.

Press mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or platter and slice. Leftover slices of make a great sandwich filling.

Lentil Squash Soup

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon

  • 1 medium butternut squash, baked

  • 1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and boiled

  • 1 cup kale or Swiss chard, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake it for 1 hour, or until it is soft when you cut through it with a knife.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and bring them to a boil in a sauce pot with 3 cups water. Reduce heat to simmer, skim off any foam that rises, and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain, and set aside.

Now, chop vegetables. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion and vinegar and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add diced carrots, celery, and spices. Sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add cooked lentils and 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cook, covered, while you peel and de-seed the squash. Once it’s peeled and de-seeded, add the squash to the pot.Add the kale or Swiss chard. Simmer for 15 more minutes.

Pumpkin Cashew Soup

Watch this simple video

to learn how to make it!

monika-grabkowska-1129300-unsplash.jpg

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.

janine-joles-1131811-unsplash.jpg

Miso Soup

Soothing, cleansing, and delightful, this gentle soup helps to balance our springtime need for a little extra salt and liquid.

It goes well with vegetarian sushi. Try it.

Miso Soup

You will need:

  • 8 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 1/4 cup miso paste

  • 1 tablespoon dried seaweed (kombu, kelp, or wakame)

  • 1 clove chopped garlic

  • 1 inch chopped ginger root

  • 1 carrot, grated

  • ½ bunch chopped kale or chard

Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the seaweed. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop and grate vegetables and herbs. Add these to the pot and simmer for 10 more minutes.

As soup simmers, spoon the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot broth into a bowl and whisk with chopsticks or a whisk to mix and melt the miso paste so that it becomes a smooth mixture.

Turn the heat off, add the miso paste to the pot and stir well. Taste the soup - if it needs more flavor, whisk in another tablespoon or two of miso paste. Serve immediately.

henrique-felix-113544-unsplash.jpg

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

andrew-buchanan-1239220-unsplash.jpg

Love the Body, Calm the Mind, Nourish the Spirit

Mid-winter is here. We are half-way between winter solstice and spring equinox. This is a time to savor the warmth of the hearth, the delight of soup, and the crunchy texture of a little bit of winter green food.

Enjoy these recipes and remember to breathe in the scents of the spices as you savor your meal.

Lentil Squash Soup

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this recipe inspiration.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon

  • 1 medium butternut squash, baked

  • 1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and boiled

  • 1 cup kale or Swiss chard, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake it for 1 hour, or until it is soft when you cut through it with a knife.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and bring them to a boil in a sauce pot with 3 cups water. Reduce heat to simmer, skim off any foam that rises, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Rinse, drain, and set aside.

Now, chop vegetables.

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion and vinegar and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add diced carrots, celery, and spices. Sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked lentils and 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cook, covered, while you peel and de-seed the squash.

Once it’s peeled and de-seeded, add the squash to the pot.

Add the kale or Swiss chard.

Simmer for 15 more minutes.

Taste for salt and serve immediately with nutty rice flatbread.

Roasted Root and Chopped Egg Salad

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this recipe inspiration.

You will need:

  • 2 large carrots, chopped

  • 3 large parsnips, chopped

  • 1 celeriac (celery root), chopped

  • 5 whole cloves garlic

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1½ pounds frisée and/or arugula, torn and washed

  • Walnut mustard vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss carrots, parsnips, celeriac and garlic with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast, tossing halfway through, for 30 minutes total.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.

Add eggs and boil for 5 minutes. Run them under cold water, peel them, chop them, and place them in a large bowl with the roasted roots. Toss well.

Add frisée and/or arugula and dressing.

Toss again, serve, and enjoy!

Walnut Mustard Vinaigrette

You will need:

  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

Place all ingredients in a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake well. Pour over salad and enjoy!

jeshoots-com-409789-unsplash.jpg

Hazelnut Escarole Salad

For many indigenous cultures of this hemisphere, today's full moon is known as the wolf moon. The wolf honors its pack, its community, its loved ones. It also takes time alone to howl at the moon, hear its own voice, and reflect the importance of taking space to care for the self.

The wolf moon reminds me to find inner balance so that I can relate to others in a harmonious way.

Try these recipes to balance body, mind, and spirit. Prepare them mindfully. Spend time with the ingredients. Taste as you go. Mix and match them to create different meals.

Most of all, be well and take time to reflect on the splendor of your own inner harmony.

Hazelnut Escarole Salad

For the dressing, blend these ingredients in a food processor:

¼ cup roasted hazelnuts

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon raw honey

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)

Then, mix all these ingredients together in a large bowl to assemble the salad:

1 head escarole, washed and steamed

1 green tart apple, thinly sliced

½ cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

¼ cup sourdough bread croutons (optional)

Pour dressing over salad, toss well to coat, and serve with your favorite soup.

jef-wright-505512-unsplash.jpg

Winter Foods That Heal

The full moon of December is here, and snow covers every last remaining plant stalk and kale leaf in our gardens. This moon is known by indigenous people of North America as the Cold Moon, the moon of long nights, and the Winter Moon. I try to welcome winter with warming foods

Deer are browsing the crab apple branches and chickadees buzz between bee balm stalks to stay warm. I love this time of year. It is peaceful. The snow that blankets everything is a metaphor for stillness. Take ease in this time. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Even if the holiday commitments are piling up, take time to rest each day. Even if you rest for five minutes while sitting at a window or on your couch with a cup of tea, this practice invokes the stillness of the upcoming Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.

This is the stillness that rejuvenates, respects the spirit, eases the mind, and clears stress from the body. From this calm place, ask yourself what you need to be truly nourished.

I like to prepare soups, whole grains, and delightful, wholesome desserts at this time of year. My husband and I sit, light a candle, and savor carrot ginger soup. I wake up to a simple, hearty breakfast of eggs poached in greens.

jade-aucamp-725965-unsplash.jpg

I enjoy baking simple desserts and sharing them at holiday gatherings. This way, I avoid eating lots of white flour and white sugar and having a headache and bellyache the next morning.

Try this maple gingerbread (gluten-free) to inspire your holiday baking.

johanneke-kroesbergen-kamps-556249-unsplash.jpg

Spices for healthy holiday cooking

The early winter holidays are traditionally a gathering time. Come together with friends and family, slow down and enjoy the peaceful darkness of long evenings. As you circle around the meal table, remember that the light will return at winter solstice, December 21st.

Honor the peace that comes before the light slowly starts returning. Nourish yourself and your loved ones while staying healthy by incorporating these spices into your holiday cooking. You probably already do.

CINNAMON

During the colder months, cinnamon increases warmth and circulation and supports efficient digestion of fats and heavy foods. It counteracts the congestion that is often accompanied by dairy-rich foods.

Cinnamon also brings relief from the common cold and flu by dissolving mucus and resolving coughs and bronchial congestion. 

NUTMEG

Nutmeg is a highly prized digestive aid, commonly added to cheese sauces and creamy desserts. Enjoy it! It mediates the effects of rich food, sweets, overeating and late-night eating. Watch this short video on how to make a vegan cream sauce that mimics the flavor of dairy.

CLOVES

This potent spice comes from a beautiful beautiful tropical bush, the clove bush. It can develop into a large woody shrub. I have seen it growing in the shade of coffee trees in Indonesia. It is antimicrobial and antiseptic, particularly for the gums and teeth. Heavy holiday desserts are known to clog the sinuses and produce mucus. Cloves clear the sinuses, encourage mental clarity and clear mucus. Hence, they are a perfect addition to sweet treats as well as savory dishes.

Try these recipes to incorporate a taste of health into your meals.

COCONUT CARROT RICE PUDDING

You will need:

  • 1 can organic, full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey to finish

In a pot, bring coconut milk, rice and water to a boil.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Reduce heat to low; add carrots, vanilla, spices and raisins.

Stir well, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. The mixture will still be liquid, like a thick stew. Cook it down more if you like or try it as is.

Remove from heat, stir in honey, and serve in small bowls, perhaps with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

GET CREATIVE! Two ideas: substitute parsnips for carrots. Instead of raisins, add chopped almonds and dates.

BAKED APPLES STUFFED WITH ALMONDS AND FIGS

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped

  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 6 tart apples

  • pinch salt

  • 3 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine chopped figs, almonds and wine in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop apples in half, remove core, and place right-side up in a greased baking dish that has a lid. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Fill apples with fig almond mixture.

Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over apples, seal tightly, and bake for 1 hour. 

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you like!

monika-grabkowska-437279-unsplash.jpg

Leek, Fennel and Squash Soup

After Thanksgiving, it's a wonderful practice to simplify your diet for a week. Enjoy vegetables like fennel, celery and leeks. These potent plants cleanse the lymphatic system, support healthy lungs, and lend a bitter-sweet complexity to any dish.

Try adding bitter, liver-cleansing foods like quinoa, chard, beets and spinach. These chenopodium family plants are high in plant nutrients and help restore healthy blood and liver function.

Give these recipes a try!

LEEK, FENNEL & BUTTERNUT SOUP

You will need: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, baked and peeled

  • 2 tablespoons local oil (sunflower or olive)

  • 3 leeks, chopped and rinsed

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped – save fronds for garnish

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme, cinnamon, turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and fresh black pepper

  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  • fresh, chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Poke squash with a fork, place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 1 hour (20 minutes per pound).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large soup pot. 

Add the leeks and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped fennel, ginger, hazelnuts, spices, salt and pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes.

Remove squash from oven, cut it open and let it cool for 5 minutes. Compost the seeds. Scoop out flesh and add it to the soup pot. Add the vegetable stock and stir.

Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat. Blend until smooth. 

Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro.

Serve with cooked quinoa.

natural-chef-carolyn-nicholas-560118-unsplash.jpg

Hearty Stews

The harvest moon wanes and we head towards Halloween, also known by agrarian people of the British Isles as Samhain, the New Year.

CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

For the chicken stew:

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 2 pounds chicken, baked and de-boned

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 medium red potatoes, chopped

  • 3 cups quick chicken stock*

  • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme, rosemary, and oregano

For the dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour (spelt or rice)

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon rosemary

  • ½ cup milk (cow, almond or rice)

To cook chicken, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place in a glass baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Cool, remove skin, and remove from bones. Add to stew pot. Include the juices. 

*Place the bones and skin in a separate pot with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Add to stew pot.

To make the stew, heat butter in a stock pot or Dutch oven.

Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and potato. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

Add peas and spices. Add chicken and stock.

Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes as the dumplings cook.

To prepare the dumplings, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in milk until a thick batter forms. With a large spoon, drop batter into simmering soup. When dumplings are puffed and slightly firm, cover pan and continue to cook about 5 minutes more.

Serves eight. 

Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for this inspiration.

MUSHROOM AND BARLEY STEW

Mushrooms are rich in protein and help us adapt to the change in seasons by boosting our immune response.

You will need:

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 6 cups vegetable stock

  • ½ cup pearl barley

  • 2 teaspoon thyme

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, celery, carrots, and onion, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cremini and shitake mushrooms, and cook about 15 minutes.

Add stock, barley, and thyme, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in juice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley.

Serves eight.

steve-zeng-1429286-unsplash.jpg

Immune Soup

A food’s energetic quality is inherent to it. Cooking can modify it, but only to a certain extent.  A cooling food like fruit, even when cooked, is still relatively cooling. Ginger or cinnamon can be added to an apple to increase its warming quality, but the fruit’s original cooling effect remains.  As we prepare for winter, we can eat warm and warming foods to prevent illness and strengthen ourselves for the colder months to come.

Foods rich in protein and fat have more calories and thus are more warming. Vegetables that grow more slowly are also more warming. For example, cabbage is more warming than lettuce and root vegetables are warmer than peppers or tomatoes.

The fire element is related to heat in the body. Metabolism and circulation depend upon this stimulating quality to transform food and body chemicals into functional substances and circulate them throughout the system. Foods that are hot, both in temperature and spice level, increase metabolism and circulation.

To support healthy immunity, we must first promote healthy digestion.

To do so during the fall and winter, eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and slow-growing vegetables for protein and vital energy. Increase fats from nuts and seeds, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive and/ or sunflower oil.

Steam, bake or roast vegetables (use coconut or sunflower oil for roasting) and garnish with oil and garlic. This practice helps the body assimilate of fat soluble vitamins like A and D, which are also found in whole milk, dairy, and eggs.

Enjoy hearty meat and or bean-based stews, root dishes, and spices, whole grain porridges as winter comfort foods that are both heating and healing. 

IMMUNE SOUP

Start heating a pot of cold water on the stovetop.

Add:

  • 3 chicken legs, stew beef with bones, lamb shanks – leave meat out if you prefer

  • A handful of astragalus root and/or codonopsis root

  • A handful of fresh or dried shitake or maitake mushrooms

  • 2 inches of rinsed kombu seaweed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 carrots, chopped into quarters

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped in half

  • 1 onion, whole with peel removed

  • 1 head garlic, whole with peel removed

Cover the pot and bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until any meat falls off the bones.

Remove bones, herbs, any dried mushrooms and roots from the soup.

Now, you can add other vegetables and herbs, such as:

Aromatic vegetables like parsnips, turnips, mustard greens and leeks – these reduce congestion

Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash – these are rich in carotenoids, which support immunity and respiratory health.

Spices such as thyme, black pepper and oregano – these are anti-microbial and reduce risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection

Simmer the soup until everything is tender, then add more fresh garlic and ginger if you like. Taste for salt.

Serve with a drizzle of your favorite oil and a whole grain.

henrique-felix-113544-unsplash.jpg

Chicken and White Bean Stew

As Autumn Equinox comes near, I am gathering the abundance of the harvest and making basil and nettle pesto, elderberry syrup, tomato sauce, and blanched vegetables for the freezer.

The evenings are almost frosting and the mornings are misty and cool.

It feels like time for some warming, comforting soup

A food’s energetic quality is inherent to it. Cooking can modify it, but only to a certain extent. A cooling food like fruit, even when cooked, is still relatively cooling. Ginger or cinnamon can be added to an apple to increase its warming quality, but the fruit’s original cooling effect remains. As we prepare for winter, we can eat warm and warming foods to prevent illness and strengthen ourselves for the colder months to come.

Foods rich in protein and fat have more calories and thus are more warming. Vegetables that grow more slowly are also more warming. For example, cabbage is more warming than lettuce and root vegetables are warmer than peppers or tomatoes.

The fire element is related to heat in the body. Metabolism and circulation depend upon this stimulating quality to transform food and body chemicals into functional substances and circulate them throughout the system. Foods that are hot, both in temperature and spice level, increase metabolism and circulation.

CHICKEN AND WHITE BEAN STEW

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 1/4 pound free-range chicken, boneless (omit for vegetarians)

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups purple cabbage, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander and cumin

  • ½ teaspoon each: oregano, chili flakes, and salt

  • 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed, or 4 cups

  • cooked canellini beans

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • Parmesan cheese as garnish if desired

In a soup pot, saute onions for 15 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown.

Splash with apple cider vinegar.

Add the chicken and saute on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, and spices. Stir well.

Add the other ingredients (except the cheese) and bring to a boil.

Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and serve.

Garnish with Parmesan if you like.

Enjoy with sourdough bread or your favorite whole grain.

dana-devolk-1348684-unsplash.jpg

Stone Fruit Tart

Late summer: harvest time, abundance, peaches, plums, berries, and the first apples.

Maple trees tinge red-gold and mornings are crisp and dew-dropped. 

Now is the time to enjoy this abundance.

Feed your body. Feed your soul.

food-photographer-jennifer-pallian-137621-unsplash.jpg


STONE FRUIT TART

You will need:

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 1/2 cups millet flour (gluten-free) or spelt flour (wheat-free)

  • 1 teaspoons baking powder

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil OR unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 2 large eggs OR 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal dissolved in just as much hot water

  • 5 plums, 6 apricots, OR 4 peaches, pitted and cut in half or into wedges

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom, cloves, nutmeg

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Grease a 9 inch cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, zest the lemon and squeeze out the juice. 

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Add the oil or butter in pieces and smash into the flour mixture with a fork so that the fat is well coated with flour.

Add the maple syrup and eggs / flaxseed, mix well, and spread into the pan.

Arrange the fruit halves / wedges in concentric circles on top of the batter, lightly pressing them in. 

In a small bowl, combine the spices and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. 

Pour the mixture over the fruit and bake about 1 hour. 

Serve warm.

Spinach for spring

A wonderful spring vegetable, spinach is growing in many farmers' greenhouses right now. Enjoy its mineral rich content and know that your digestive tract will thank you for eating green fiber! You can substitute chard if you like, which is another delicious green member of the chenopodium family.

heather-barnes-FaIb6he_a7Q-unsplash.jpg


SPINACH ROSEMARY SOUP

Rosemary adds a complex flavor to this simple soup while helping to boost brain function and immunity.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, fresh

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

  • 2 cups red potatoes, rinsed and cubed

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • 6 cups fresh spinach (or chard)

To prepare:

Add oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. 

Add onion, garlic, rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. 

Pour in broth.. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach (or chard) and continue to simmer until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes more.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or regular blender (in batches), leaving it a little chunky if desired.

Serve the soup garnished with nutmeg, if desired, and topped with a spoonful of yogurt (cow or almond).

MUNG BEAN AND SPINACH STEW

This fresh spring stew will nourish you and re-vitalize your senses! Breathe in the aromas of ginger and chiles and savor their digestive power.

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger

  • 2 cloves minced garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons Tamari or soy sauce

  • 4 cups mung beans, soaked overnight and cooked

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro

  • 2 cups fresh spinach

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

To serve:

  • Freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Cilantro 

To prepare:

Rinse and drain mung beans. Cook in 8 cups water, skimming any foam that rises to the top. Once tender, drain and rinse once more.

Rinse and cook quinoa in 2 cups water with a pinch of salt.

Place minced garlic and ginger in a skillet with coconut oil. Saute on medium heat for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add chile, paprika, and tamari. 

Reduce heat to low. Add cooked mung beans and stir together.

Add water, cilantro and spinach.

Cook on medium heat until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and serve in bowls garnished with fresh cilantro and lemon juice.

Shitake, Cabbage and Lentil Stew

Spring is coming! Until we can see the gardens from beneath the three feet of late season Vermont snow, we use the last of the root cellar and pantry stock to make soup that warms the soup. Try cooking it on the wood stove if you have one. Shitake mushrooms lend an extra hand to helping our immune systems stay healthy through this slow transition into spring.

SHIITAKE, CABBAGE AND LENTIL STEW

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small to medium yellow or red onion, chopped

  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut in ½-inch dice

  • Salt to taste

  • 3 to 4 large garlic cloves, minced

  • ½ medium cabbage, cored and chopped

  • a handful of shitake mushrooms, brushed free of dirt and chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander

  • ½ pound lentils (about 1⅛ cups), picked over and rinsed

  • 2 quarts water

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just about tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, shiitakes, and cabbage, along with another generous pinch of salt. 

Cook, stirring, just until the garlic smells fragrant and the cabbage has begun to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add spices and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the lentils and water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, season to taste with salt, about 2 teaspoons to begin with (you will probably add more), cover and simmer 1 hour, until the lentils are tender and the broth fragrant.

edgar-castrejon-xPPoMWL4r_A-unsplash.jpg

Add pepper to the soup and stir in rice, or just add rice to each bowl when you serve the soup. Taste. Is there enough salt? Garlic? Adjust seasonings. Stir in the parsley. Serve, topping each bowlful with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if you like.