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S&M Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on February 9, 2015 at 2:04 am

“Life itself is the proper binge.” ~Julia Child

s&m soup

In honor of Valentine’s Day and the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, I’ve masterminded a soup that is for the brave, wacky, and tad bit suicidal parts of all us (oh, come on, don’t play coy with me). I haven’t read the Fifty Shades of Grey book (heard the writing was terrible but that’s not the point, right?) and I’m not sure I’ll watch the movie since I’m not convinced the acting will be very good. But I do recommend watching Secretary with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal for a bit of uncomfortable but fascinating entertainment in a sexy, disturbing way. Kind of like this soup.

Speaking of sexy. It didn’t used to be sexy to speak about your colon and it’s functions or contents. And while it’s still not exactly sexy, it does seem to be the hippest new topic out there. The registered dietitian’s mantra has always been “The road to health is paved with good intestines.” And now it seems that everyone else cares about their colon as well. Now it’s totally hip to eat – and make your own – fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, kraut, and kombucha (this blog post brought to you by the letter “K”). Kimchi has a powerful, sour-spicy kick and I love it with fried eggs so I thought this soup was worth a try.the joy of food

Since it consists mostly of kimchi and gochujang with some tofu and scallions thrown in, this soup is kind of dark and dangerous. If the Korean spices aren’t intense enough then wait until the end when you top your bowl with a raw egg yolk. I freaked out at the last minute and tried to soften the blow by adding avocado. This soup has an oddly addictive quality to it but I’m not sure that I actually enjoyed eating it. Hence the name of the soup.

All of the gut-friendly benefits of fermented kimchi are lost in this soup recipe but that shouldn’t stop you from taking pleasure from this spicy, broth-y, brooding soup. All encounters with food need not be transactional. You are allowed to eat for pure pleasure from time to time. Stand down from the vigilance around “being healthy”. Treat yourself with kindness. But, if you want more info about maintaining a healthy gut, read on or skip to the recipe below.

Traditional fermented foods like kimchi (and miso and kraut) contain live bacteria (if not super-heated) essential for a healthy gut which in turn positively affects your immune system, endocrine system, and nervous system. For a quick summary on your gut and mental health, read Happy Gut, Happy You and for a more in-depth look at how our gut affects our mind (with links to interesting research), read this article and podcast from NPR.

Fermented and Pickled are not the same thing. Pickling often involves vinegar and sometimes sugar. Fermentation only requires water and salt and the fermentation occurs spontaneously with naturally-occurring bacteria found on the vegetables – well, really, it’s airborne and found on many things, even the glassware used during fermentation. kimchi ingredientsAdditionally, pickled products are shelf-stable through high-heat pasteurization so, even if they did have some beneficial bacteria (which they don’t), it would be destroyed by this process.

To find authentic, fermented products they must be located in the REFRIGERATED section of your market and will most likely have the words “raw”, “live cultures”, or “probiotics” somewhere on the front of the label. Read the back of the label as well for the ingredients list. Avoid sugar, MSG, and preservatives.

S&M Soup Ingredients:

1lb. silken tofu, cubed

1 TBSP raw sesame oil

4 cups cabbage kimchi, gently squeezed and chopped, plus 1 cup liquid

2-4 TBSP gochujang (what can you handle?)

8 scallions, sliced thinly

2 TBSP tamari (I used reduced-sodium)

1 TBSP toasted sesame oil

6 large egg yolks (or 1 per bowl)

a shake or two of toasted sesame seeds

kimchi and gochujangHeat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Pour liquid off jar of kimchi (reserve) and coarsely chop. Add kimchi to the heated oil (first!) and then add gochujang (or it will start popping and sizzling and splattering everywhere!). Cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 5–8 minutes. Add kimchi liquid and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until kimchi is softened and translucent, 35–40 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat, carefully add tofu cubes, and simmer about 4 minutes. The original recipe stated that the tofu will be slightly puffed and firmed up. I saw no such change in the tofu. I simply waited for them to rise to the top like ravioli. This might have been a tofu-cooking-failure but tofu doesn’t actually need to be “cooked from a food safety perspective. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tofu to a medium bowl.

Add scallions, soy sauce, and tofu to kimchi broth; simmer gently about 20–25 minutes. Add sesame oil. Ladle soup into bowls; top each with an egg yolk and sesame seeds. Attempt to enjoy.

Forcing the Soup

In Mindfulness, Recipe on January 24, 2015 at 3:37 am

“Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence. Hold on to the truth within yourself as to the only truth.” ~ Buddha

coconut red lentil soup

Second time is the charm.

Fueled by dark chocolate coconut haystacks, decaf chai, and the Bon Iver Pandora station, I banged out this soup one afternoon mostly because the light in my kitchen was waning; therefore, my window for decent food photography was closing. That was my first red flag. You know red flags? Those super obvious banners alerting you – but only in retrospect, of course – to the situations, turns, decisions, or people you should have ran from. Well, everyone knows you can’t rush the soup; however, that’s exactly what I was doing. And the soup ended up terrible because I forced it…to be made…well, I forced it into the trash as well.

lentils colander

Split red lentils are really tiny. Like, tiny enough to fit through a colander hole.

Second red flag: attempting to rinse lentils in a colander. Those suckers are tiny. Red flag #3: I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed and was actually considering subbing goji berries for golden raisins. When a friend rushed over with her supply of raisins (who actually has golden raisins on hand?), I falsely thought “this soup is meant to be”. Final red flag: I glanced at stove clock at 5:33pm and realized that, damn it, I’d missed the sunset. I had a pang of regret that grew exponentially after a blizzard of sunset photos stormed my social media feeds.

Why did I continue on despite feeling uneasy and unfocused? I know better. I’m in tune. I’m a yogini. I don’t force things to happen. I allow things to happen. I meditate. I set intentions not goals. OK. That last part is not true and that’s where the problem lies. I had made it a goal to make a new soup every Thursday regardless of whether or not SoupAsana commenced. So…even though I was tired and had a lot scheduled for the following day and had a lot of space in my weekend (where I could make soup!), the specificity of my goal (to Thursdays) forced me to move forward with soup-making against the signs of the universe.

lentil soup - bad

Inedible. In the trash.

Perhaps I am being dramatic. A terrible pot of soup is not such a big loss. But, really, how often have you done this with important things? Like your health, your relationships, your career. We insist on things happening in a certain way, at a particular time, and we set measurable goals to make sure that it all goes down as planned. And then eventually, after enough forcing and ignorance, there’s an injury – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and you just knew it was coming. You always knew. The signs were there. You just didn’t want to see them.

Anyway, it’s just soup. And it’s also a tidy little reminder to heed the nudges of the universe and tuggings of your heart. Your ego is the one making the goals and setting the timelines but your heart can see the future and knows that timing is everything. Follow it.

I made a second attempt at this soup the following day. I tweaked some measurements and ingredients. I was more present. It made all the difference.

1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)
8 cups water
2 cups carrots, cut into rounds
2 TBSP fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 TBSP curry powder
2 TBSP ghee (or butter or olive oil)
8 scallions, only white and light green parts, finely chopped
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14oz can coconut milk
4 tsp fine grain sea salt
handful cilantro, chopped

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water – just don’t rinse them in a colander! Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft (important to test this as I charged ahead with soup-making and peas were still hard!).

chai and coconut haystacks

Dinner of chai and chocolate on the first night.

Add ghee to a pan over medium heat along with scallions, ginger, and raisins. Saute for about five minutes stirring constantly until everything is greasy and glassy, then add the tomato paste and saute for another couple minutes.

Add the curry powder (the original recipe recommends toasting curry powder. It’s stressful. Don’t do it.) to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so (this is your opportunity to make it taste good. Let it simmer. Taste it. Add salt. No texting.)

Enjoy topped with cilantro and yogurt if your curry powder had some kick!

Not Yo Mama’s Marinara

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Recipe on January 10, 2015 at 7:49 pm
marinara - cooking tomatoes

Hurry, make them into marinara before they turn to mush!

Growing up in Alaska gave me this do-it-yourself kind of attitude. You couldn’t just run to the nearest shopping center to get what you (thought you) needed. Add the fact of if you are choosing to live in Alaska, you are most likely quite eccentric; however, also quite resourceful. This lends to the attitude of “why purchase it when you can make it, build it, grow it, kill it – yourself?” As I live now, everything is available for purchase and yet sometimes I still insist on DIY just to prove to myself that I’ve got skills (useful ones, that is).

So I picked a Sunday at the end of the tomato growing season – November here in SoCal (I know you’re jealous) – and dedicated the day to stocking my freezer with tomato sauce. I took an hour break to watch the sunset and I met a girlfriend for lunch but otherwise my day consisted of buying tomatoes, coring and pureeing tomatoes, and boiling and simmering tomatoes. I had to write this blog post standing at my kitchen counter lest the pot of sauce start sticking.

marinara - 30#

How will I get 30# of tomatoes home?

I used a fantastic marinara recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s very herb-y and non-traditional. The first time I used the recipe, I harvested all the tomatoes from my garden at the end of the season and thought I would be able to stock my freezer full of tomato sauce for the whole winter. “No one will starve this winter, family, I have taken care of it!” Like I was Pa Ingalls settling into the The Long Winter. As a child, I really empathized with Laura Ingalls Wilder and re-read that series more than twice during the long, dark Alaskan winters. Previously, my “harvest” yielded about 9 cups of marinara sauce. Clearly, we’d starve if left to our own devices. This time I headed to the La Jolla Open Aire Market for the tomatoes since my garden is currently, um, underutilized right now. And, in my exuberance for this project, I promised quite a few people that I would just hand over some of the sauce when it was done. I am no longer feeling so generous. This was a lot of work and I mean to enjoy it all. These 27 cups of marinara are just too precious.

marinara and sausage

My marinara with a friend’s homemade sausage.

I heart Barbara Kingsolver – like a lot. Like stalker-level. But only in my mind. I don’t write her wacko fan letters or find out where she is vacationing in San Diego. But, like, I kinda want to be her. She’s a scientist and a writer – two things that I like to call myself. We both have degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (hers is a Masters and mine is a Bachelors) so I feel like it’s possible to be even a teensy, weensy bit like her. Her books often focus on the interactions between humans and their environments as well as biodiversity and her writing is smart and insightful with a dry wit. All things I love or want to be. My favorites are: The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

The Poisonwood Bible had a whiff of my childhood about it with the missionary parents and all the daughters named after religious figures (check out my sister’s photography) and living in another culture but, luckily, none of the madness and tragedy. Prodigal Summer really spoke to me because of the themes of interconnectedness between all things living whether human animal, wild animal, or plants and the elements on which they all depend. And then there is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If you thought you were a local foodie, think again. Kingsolver chronicles the year her family lived on their farm and ate only local food whether they raised it themselves or traded with other local farmers. It’s fascinating and funny and discusses food politics, nutrition, and environmental sustainability as well as the practical issues of trying to explain to your children’s friends why bananas are not allowed in your house.

marinara - tomatoes in blender

This is not the best way to puree tomatoes. I switched to a food processor.

So I tried out Barbara’s life for a day and, phew, this was quite the undertaking. It didn’t exactly take me all day as far as hours were concerned but you will definitely need to clear your calendar for the day and have no further objectives other than the process of making tomato sauce. You’ll notice (or maybe not) that this sauce doesn’t have any olive oil in it. The original recipe was meant for canning and adding oil to a canning food is a dangerous liability from a food safety perspective. From a nutritional perspective, fat makes the vitamin A and lycopene in the tomatoes much more accessible to the body for assimilation. I recommend making it as is and then, when you are defrosting and reheating this winter, swirl some olive oil into the pot for added flavor and nutrition.

Family Secret Tomato Sauce (makes 6-7 quarts) from “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver

10 quarts tomato puree (about 30# of tomatoes)

4 large onions, chopped (processed into a soupy foam)

marinara - ready

Ingredients all lined up and ready to go.

1 cup dried basil

1/2 cup honey

4 TBSP dried oregano

3 TBSP salt

2 TBSP ground dried lemon peel

2 TBSP thyme

2 TBSP garlic powder, or more, to taste

2 TBSP dried parsley

2 tsp pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

marinara - pot

Maxed out sauce pot.

Add pureed tomatoes, onions, all the spices, and honey to a REALLY large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 2 to 3 hours until sauce has thickened to your desired consistency. You may need to stir frequently towards the end to avoid burning. Transfer to freezable containers (leave some head space if using glass and make sure sauce is cooled first) and feel good about yourself that you’re stocked with marinara for the long, cold winter.

Spicy Garbanzo & Barley Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

“It’ll destroy you if you try to make it mean anything to anyone other than yourself.” ~Henry Rollins

my eye

My eye after chopping onions for this soup

Eating Junior Mints (a leftover movie theater purchase) while taste-testing a spicy soup recipe does not mix well. Other things that do not mix well: my eyeballs with freshly chopped onions, soup-eating in sunny, 73 degrees F weather or milk with spaghetti (why do parents do that to kids?).

Tori Amos & Sarah McLachlan mix well together and used to accompany me on road trips to Ventura County during my previous life as an environmental consultant. Three hours of singing at the top of your lungs while cruising the empty PCH at 530am is cathartic. Singing at the top of your lungs while recipe-testing is also cathartic so I put both of those women on for good juju while exploring this Tunisian-inspired soup.

moroccan spices

Homemade harissa paste: water and olive oil added to chili flakes, garlic, parsley, caraway, and coriander.

This recipe is adapted from 101cookbooks.com who further adapted it from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, which according to my extensive Google research (not really), appears to be inspired by a common Tunisian breakfast soup involving garbanzo beans in a thin garlic and cumin broth served over stale crusty bread pieces and topped with, potentially, one or all of the following: egg, olive oil, harissa, capers, tuna, lemon, olives, more cumin, etc. It sounds amazing and inspired me to eat this soup again in the morning with a raw egg poached right into the broth. A smell a business idea for a food truck…that’s another topic…

The great thing about this soup is it uses only water as the base instead of a vegetable or meat broth. This allows all the fragrant North African spices and delicate flavors of the carrot and celery to really stand out.

Garbanzo Bean Broth:

garbanzo-barley soup ingredients

The thin, water-based broth perfectly highlights the spices and veggies that provide the base for this delicious soup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, diced

4 – 8 cloves garlic, depending on how much you love garlic, crushed

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

4 – 6 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons harissa paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds

2 cans, drained, garbanzo beans

6-8 cups water

Fine grain salt and/or black pepper, to taste

Grain to Serve it Over:

barley or farro

Is it barley or is it farro?

1 cup barley or farro (which did I have on hand?)

3 cups water or vegetable broth

Creamy, Herby Feta Paste:

3 1/2 oz feta, broken into large chunks

1/4 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)

1 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped or just ripped from stem

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt

*for a non-dairy version, add herbs to this cashew cream recipe

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and continue cooking for another 5- 10 minutes. Add the harissa, cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds and cook for a another 5 minutes, stirring well, until fragrant. Add garbanzo beans and water into the vegetable mixture along with salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

barley garbanzo soup bowl

Hydrating and Hearty

Meanwhile, rinse the barley, add to a small saucepan, and cover with 3 cups cold water (or veggie broth for more flavor). Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid is gone or barley is soft.

To make the feta paste, put the feta, crème fraîche, cilantro, mint, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small food processor or hand blender until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Serve by adding cooked barley to the bowl and spooning soup over grains and topping with a dollop of creamed/herbed feta paste. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Potato Leek Soup with Dill Oil

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 24, 2014 at 3:03 am

“The point is to write as much as you know as quickly as possible.” -Kurt Vonnegut

disco joy

Go where the joy is

I’m not sure in what context he said the above quote but I thought it was inspiring and could be applied to almost any creative pursuit.

There can be this palpable rush of needing to get it all out of you already.

I’ve always liked to write but I used to be confined, as an environmental consultant, to the rigid rules of technical writing. It feels so liberating to blog about food and nutrition and yoga; however, I hold back from doing much writing and mostly stick to presenting recipes. I am self-conscious about the fact that I have neither an English degree nor experience in journalism and editing. Jeez, I was even terrible about keeping up a diary as a young girl. I now journal regularly but that doesn’t necessarily make you a writer, right?

Kurt Vonnegut’s formal education was in biochemistry and he also obtained a Master’s degree in anthropology: “I’m on the New York State Council for the Arts now,” he told The Paris Review, “and every so often some other member talks about sending notices to college English departments about some literary opportunity, and I say, ‘Send them to the chemistry departments, send them to the zoology departments, send them to the anthropology departments and the astronomy departments and physics departments, and all the medical and law schools. That’s where the writers are most likely to be… I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”

butter in dill oil

Every good soup begins with butter…and dill oil.

Reading this single quote by this one author inspired me to just do it already. Just start writing about anything and everything that popped into my head. It’s OK that I didn’t get my degree in English Lit. I feel aligned with Vonnegut in that I have two science degrees, so why not pursue writing?! I’ve always been a voracious and quick reader and have consumed so many books in my lifetime that you would think I’d have absorbed decent sentence structure and a vast vocabulary.

For my trip to India last fall, I decided to list “writer, nutritionist” as my occupation when filling out my visa forms. This was an attempt to start establishing myself as a writer in my subconscious while actually attempting to become a working writer. This proved to be problematic as I was then labeled a journalist and had to fill out additional paperwork stating that I would not be acting in a journalistic capacity while in India and, although I requested a 10-year visa, I was only awarded a 5-year visa. Apparently, I’ve got to reach enlightenment by 2018 and then I’m on my own.

potato leek soup

Drizzled, topped, and sprinkled with dill oil, toasted almonds, and Gruyere cheese

So, on to the soup…obviously there are a TON of potato-leek versions out there but they aren’t all good or even all that simple (which I feel like this humble soup should be). This is a really quick and easy soup for the busy holiday season. It’s perfect to make when you are tired of preparing all the fancy holiday dinners and just want something nourishing. A bonus is that you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.

I think this soup caught my eye b/c of the toppings. I am sucker for garnishing and embellishing my food. So the addition of a drizzle of dill oil, toasted almonds, and Gruyere was more than I could resist. Plus, this soup requires few ingredients and can easily be made vegan (sub olive oil for butter). I simplified the preparation a bit without sacrificing taste (I think) and feel free to get creative with the toppings. Pureed soups sometimes need a bit of embellishing in order to give them depth and texture.

potato leek soup - ingredients

Leeks, dill, and red potatoes…and not much else.

I used red-skinned potatoes which are perhaps not the most “thin-skinned” potato but look prettiest in pictures so, thus, were chosen. Yukon Gold potatoes are perhaps the creamier and thinner-skinned choice for this soup. Experiment.

The following makes a large pot (8-10 servings):

1 small bunch of fresh dill
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3.5 pounds leeks
6 TBSP unsalted butter
Sea salt
3 medium-sized, or 4-6 small, potatoes, thinly sliced
4-8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of knife

4 cups veggie broth, for cooking, and up to 4 cups more for thinning the soup

Toppings: almond slices, toasted and Gruyere cheese, grated

Use a hand blender to puree the dill and olive oil into a creamy green emulsion. Set aside.

Cut the dark, tough green leaves from the leeks, trim off the roots, and wash/rinse well. Use a food processor to chop the leeks in two batches. 

In a large soup pot, heat the butter and 5 tablespoons of the dill oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, stir in the leeks and a couple big pinches of salt. Stir well, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften up, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and garlic and 4 cups of veggie broth. Simmer until potatoes are soft and mushy. Puree with a hand blender and then continue to add veggie broth until the consistency suits your taste.

Bring back to a simmer, then serve topped with almonds, grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of the remaining dill oil.

Chicken (& Kale) Soup for Your Soul

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 19, 2014 at 12:32 am
sunset

Sunset at Windansea Beach, December 16, 2014

So there is this couple that lives a block away from me and I see them walking down to the water each night at sunset with their hands in each others back pockets. They are the same height, have the same sun-bleached blonde hair and tanned skin. I think they are in their early 50s but I don’t know them well, they seem so satisfied and filled up with just each other, that I don’t even dare introduce myself. And I admire them from afar, thinking that they must have it all. Just last week a beautiful, mint condition, Airstream trailer appeared on their street with the CA license plate: 2HOBOS. Not thinking of them at all, I suspected it must be the two hipsters with the perfect beards I see watching the waves at sunset these days. But, alas, it belongs to the golden couple and not for glamorous reasons. He has a brain tumor and a year to live. They’ve sold their house and are embarking on an adventure together for however long they have…

jung and dylan quotes

Just do it already!

And now I’ve digested that information and I’m sitting on the floor of my kitchen with a bottle of wine and my laptop while the chicken (and kale) soup simmers. Pearl Jam’s “Black” comes on the sound system and the melancholy envelopes me while thinking that I STILL envy this couple. With all the dramatic doom and gloom of a terminal diagnosis and the romance and passion of selling it all and driving off into the sunset. Why? Is it because I fear that, if tomorrow, I was given a year to live, there is no one who would leave their current life behind and join me on an adventure until the end of my life? Or is it because I am thinking of all the things that I DON’T do because I am fearful?

I’ve been making a lot of chicken soup lately. It nourishes me – body and soul. But it also worries me that I make a lot of soup when I’m not physically ill – I am rarely sick – because this means that I am in fear mode. The antidote for fear is massive action (Tony Robbins said that). This mantra has worked for me in the past; however, right now my “massive action” is half-assed. There are 19 unpublished drafts in my list of posts for this blog. Why? I get a burst of action and I write and cook and take pictures and then completely freeze when it comes to publishing.

chicken stock

Making your own chicken stock makes for REALLY good soup

Really good chicken soup starts with really yummy, homemade broth. I usually roast a 5 to 6 lb chicken using this recipe and, since our household is only 1 adult and 2 children (50% of the time), those extra pounds are used for stock and soup. Take that extra chicken carcass (and whatever meat is left on it), put it in a crockpot, cover with water, and simmer on low for 24-48 hours. Your home will smell amazing. Leave the whole lemons and garlic and thyme that stuffed the bird with inside – these will disintegrate into full flavor for your stock. Drain your stock through a colander into a soup pot (not the one you will be using to make soup) and pick out the bones – this is an exercise in finger-burning and super tedious but well worth it. Let it sit there and cool for awhile, if needed. Meanwhile…make sure you have the following ingredients:

64oz organic, free-range, chicken broth

water (maybe)

2 sticks salted butter

1 head of celery – chopped

garlic – as many cloves as you like – smashed with the back of your knife

2 onions – chopped

1 bunch carrots – chopped

salt n pepa – to taste – don’t be afraid to pile it on

crushed red pepper, depending on your audience

fresh thyme – LOTS

Baby kale leaves (boxed or bagged)

chicken & kale soup

Serve over baby kale or egg noodles or brown rice or anything at all, really…

Melt butter in soup pot and add the smashed garlic. Chop all the veggies and sauté with garlic in butter. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Sauté until veggies are a bit soft. Then add broth from the crock pot creation. Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are super soft. Add additional (store-bought) chicken broth and more seasonings, if needed. Bring to a simmer and then add reserved chicken from broth-making adventure. Separate thyme leaves from stems (I use an entire container of fresh thyme) and mix into soup pot.

When ready to serve, place a handful of baby kale leaves in the bottom of a bowl and ladle hot chicken soup over the greens. They will wilt to bright green perfection. This soup is so nourishing and soul-stirring that you will eat nothing but this for days and feel warmed and satisfied to your very core.

Creamy Tahini Noodles

In Nutrition, Recipe on November 18, 2014 at 7:22 am

My BFF, Amy, is so cool.

She was eating kale in the late 90s way before it was en vogue.

creamy tahini noodles

Soba noodles, carrots, and cabbage in creamy tahini sauce.

Back then she gave me the recipe for this tahini-based sauce. It was a revelation to me at the time. These days using nuts and seeds in sauces is quite common; however, if you have yet to try a tahini sauce…well, you must! It’s simple and fast to make a creamy, savory dish with no food processor required.

This speedy meal combines gluten-free soba noodles and high-fiber, high-antioxidant veggies with a rich, creamy, HEALTHY sauce made from tahini (ground sesame seeds). Tahini is a powerhouse of minerals such as copper, calcium, and iron as well as the 2nd highest plant source of tryptophan, a pre-cursor for seratonin (the “feel good” hormone).

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat whose unique flavonoid compounds are critical for vascular health. Buckwheat is unrelated botanically to wheat (it’s a fruit seed) so it’s naturally gluten-free; however, read labels, some brands add wheat flour to their noodles. Of course, feel free to sub in zucchini noodles or kelp noodles (as in this kelp noodle recipe with a spicy, coconut, tahini sauce) or soba noodles, if you so desire.

Ingredients (serves 2):

1 cup carrots – sliced into rounds

1 cup red cabbage – shredded

Soba noodles or kelp noodles or zucchini noodles or whatever

Tahini sauce (makes a lot!):

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup hot water

1 lemon – juiced

2 TBSP tamari

3 tsp maple syrup

2 tsp rice vinegar

Nutrition Info (SAUCE ONLY): 1/2 cup (4oz) = 244 kcals + 16g fat + 8g protein + 4g fiber

Directions: Whisk sauce ingredients together and set aside. Toss carrots into boiling water. Bring water and carrots back to a boil and toss in 2 servings of soba noodles (whatever that looks like to you). Cook for 3 mins, then add cabbage. Boil for 1-2 mins more (test for done-ness) and drain. Toss 1 cup (more or less) of sauce with hot noodle mixture and top with green onions. Savory, creamy, delicious…

shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms

Try this “meatier” comfort food variation: Sauté 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms, 1/2 cup diced red onion, and 2 TBSP fresh grated ginger in a splash of sesame oil and tamari. Toss with sauce and soba noodles and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. This version will be higher in fat and lower in fiber but ginger, onion, and shiitake increase the ‘healthy’ factor so dig in!

Cold-Busting, Flu-Fighting Garlic Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on November 4, 2014 at 10:40 pm
Immune-supporting Garlic Soup

Immune-supporting Garlic Soup

So you think you’re about to get sick.

Stop. Sit down. Breathe. And check your calendar. What previous commitments are you going to cancel?

You don’t have wait until you are full-on sick to rearrange your calendar. Being bed-ridden is not the only good excuse for not following through on a coffee date or volunteer time-slot or swimming with your kids or dinner with your loved ones.

And, by the way, you don’t need an excuse. Ever. For anything. If you’ve changed your mind about something, you are allowed to state that with no explanation necessary – but that is another discussion.

Sickie Defense Arsenal

Sickie Defense Arsenal

If you start to have even the slightest bit of sniffles, sore throat, or achey-ness, it’s time to clear your calendar and break-out the Sickie Defense Arsenal: throat sprays, herbs and minerals, neti pot, and citrus juicer and make a pot of nourishing, immune-supporting soup. Traditional chicken soup is always a winner. You can also try Quinoa Chowder or Cleansing Soup. Or, if you want to go BIG, try the recipe for Garlic Soup below.

An electric citrus juicer (and 10lb bags of oranges and grapefruits) is a winter-time necessity. Once November rolls around, the apples are starting to get old and citrus is the only local, seasonal fruit left (at least in Southern California). Indulging in fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice during the cold, dark winter months keeps you hydrated and full of antioxidant, immune-supporting vitamin C.

Vitamin C is quite fragile and quickly loses it’s effectiveness once exposed to heat, light, and oxygen – geez! It’s found in most FRESH fruits and vegetables but the longer your food has been transported, displayed, and stored, the less vitamin C it contains. Citrus, with it’s trusty, protective peel, locks in the vitamins until it’s juiced and then straight into your belly!

Head to the market for the following ingredients for GARLIC SOUP and other necessities:

grocery cart

Garlic Soup ingredients & Vitamin C-rich citrus

garlic (52 cloves, yes, 52!)

olive oil (2 TBSP) and sea salt (for roasting garlic)

ginger (1/2 cup)

onions (2 yellow)

butter, grass fed (1/2 stick)

cayenne (2 tsp or more!)

fresh thyme (lots)

coconut milk (1/2 cup)

3 1/2 cups veggie stock

If Garlic Soup sounds scary, think how scared that random virus will be and how stoked your body will be.

Sickie Defense Arsenal and Strategy:

1) Neti Pot 2x/day w Varcho Veda Neti-Wash Plus (zinc drops)

2) Throat Sprays 3-5x/day (2-3 sprays each time): Echinacea/Goldenseal/Propolis and S-Clear

3) Wellness Formula 2x/day – 3 horsepills (they suck but are so worth it)

4) TONS of fresh-squeezed orange juice (or grapefruit). Even better – try a carrot-orange-ginger juice

5) Make a HUGE pot of soup. Eat it all day long for days. Garlic Soup directions below (ingredients in list above).

To Make Garlic Soup:

Preheat oven to 350F. Get pumped for the job with positive warrior affirmations (and maybe a few warrior poses) to kick this sickness to the curb. Now put that awesome energy into your soup.

roasted garlic

Roasted garlic – olive oil, salt, 350 for 45 minutes

Place 26 garlic cloves (UNpeeled) in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes.

While garlic is roasting, take a bubble bath.

While garlic is cooling, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions (sliced), thyme, ginger (peeled and chopped) and cayenne powder. Cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.

Onions, garlic, ginger, butter, cayenne

Onions, garlic, ginger, butter, cayenne

Meanwhile, squeeze cooled garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Lick your oily, salty, garlicky fingers. They are delicious.

Add roasted garlic and 26 raw garlic cloves (peeled this time!) and cook 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, cover, and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree soup with a hand blender, add coconut milk, and bring to simmer.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon on top and feel better soon!

Almond Joy Cookies

In Nutrition, Recipe on October 20, 2013 at 11:50 pm
coconut and chocolate

Coconut and Chocolate

My ideas about dessert and sweets are changing…

As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. It’s not just the dressing up in costumes. It was the idea of going house-to-house, asking for candy, and actually being able to eat it! My childhood home was completely devoid of sugar – and I mean completely. Did you know there are 2 grams of sugar per serving of Rice Krispies? Therefore, only Cheerios were allowed. You know, only 1 gram of sugar per serving, so it was only half as bad for you.

I grew up putting taco sauce on hot dogs because ketchup has sugar in it. Yes, ketchup was banned but hot dogs were OK. I think we all have places in our lives where our decision-making is a bit contradictory. I have a close friend who is very diligent about consuming organic food and yet drinks Diet Coke all day long…hmmmmm…

I have a rule in my home that all desserts need to be homemade. The idea being that you must really want that cupcake if you’re going to take the trouble to bake it and ice it, thus leading to less sweets consumption.

cookies

Combine these two to make an almond joy cookie!

Until recently I subscribed to the idea that if you are going to indulge, you ought to do it right. Eat the butter. Eat the eggs. Eat the gluten. Eat the white sugar. Just don’t indulge so often. Lately, that doesn’t seem to be working for me. Now, when I indulge in a “real” cookie or cupcake, I feel like I’ve got a hangover. My system has become so finely-tuned towards simple preparations of plant-based foods that even the occasional rich dessert cannot be tolerated without consequence. So I am officially on the vegan-gluten-free-honey-sweetened-dessert bandwagon these days.

Back to candy eating at Halloween. As a kid, gathering all that forbidden treasure was a major high. My parents would let my siblings and I indulge in the candy for a day, maybe two, and then we turned the contraband over to them (I later learned they stashed anything chocolate in the freezer). I tell this to friends and they assume I have awful memories of that holiday. But I remember it as a non-issue. Two days of gorging on sweets was plenty. Of course, I made sure I consumed as many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers as I could before my 2 day limit was reached. I also remember wishing I could combine Mounds Bar and Almond Joy into one because I love dark chocolate and almonds.

I am positively giddy about a cookie that combines chocolate and almonds. And is gluten-free. And is vegan. And is not overly sweet. And is more simple to prepare than “real” cookies.

Start with the simple base batter using a food processor fitted with the dough blade.  I’m sure you could also blend with a wooden spoon and muscle.

cookie collage

Vegan, gluten-free, chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey

1 TBSP vanilla

Other ingredients: finely shredded, unsweetened coconut and block of high quality dark chocolate

Directions: Combine dry ingredients (mix and blend well) then add wet ingredients (mix and blend well). The mixture is sticky and the almond flour a bit gritty but never fear – they will be delicious! Heat oven to 350 degrees. Baking time is 6-8 minutes and cookies will stay somewhat gooey so judge done-ness by bottom browning. Also, since you will be rolling them into balls to bake, after about 3-4 minutes use the back of a large spoon to gently flatten them and then finish baking.

homemade cocoroons

Homemade Cocoroons

If you prefer a coconut-y cookie reminiscent of Cocoroons or Rickaroons (for the local San Diego folks) then form the batter into balls and roll in coconut (consider adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut to batter but not too much as it gets dry).

Or add coarsely-chopped dark chocolate to make (somewhat) traditional chocolate chip cookies.

Or do BOTH and enjoy a chewy, gooey concoction that tastes awfully close to an Almond Joy candy bar but is WAY BETTER for you! Add chopped chocolate to the batter. Form into balls. Roll in coconut flakes. Bake. AMAZING.

Just because these are vegan and gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s open season for consumption. Cookies are still a treat and are highly caloric so take it easy, people.