December 19, 2011

Lymph-cleansing foods

As winter sets in, it can be helpful to support healthy lymphatic function. Lymph is the colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathes the tissues and releases toxins via the lymphatic system. 

Lymphatic circulation enhances immunity by: draining waste associated with blood and cellular metabolism; reducing inflammation due to build-up in our connective tissues. 

Simplifying your diet and increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables will support lymphatic renewal. Spices and vegetables that cleanse the lymphatic system include fennel, coriander, fenugreek, kombu or kelp seaweed (Laminaria family), burdock, turnips, mustard, and horseradish. 

Turnip soup with fennel and coriander
Cover the bottom of a soup pot with olive oil and slowly heat the oil as you are chopping onions.

Chop off top and bottom of two onions. Peel skin and slice in half width-wise.
Place two halves flat on cutting board and slice each one into thin crescent moons. Follow the ridges of the onion when chopping.

When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover.

Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons coriander powder
1 Tablespoon fennel seeds

Simmer for 15 more minutes.
Meanwhile, chop 4 turnips into small chunks.
Add turnips and 1 Tablespoon whole ground brown mustard.

Add enough water to cover vegetables. Bring both to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook with the lid on until vegetables are soft.

With an immersion blender or in an upright blender, puree soup. Taste for salt.

Pour soup into bowls and enjoy! You can garnish with fresh-chopped scallions.

Millet Fenugreek Bread
Fenugreek, Trigonella foeniculum graecum, is actually a legume native to Egypt and the Horn of Africa. Its bitter and pungent taste lends itself to the gentle sweetness of millet to create a delicious bread that also helps clear lymphatic congestion.

Dry toast 2 Tablespoons fenugreek seeds in a skillet.

In a mixing bowl, combine:
3 cups millet, freshly ground in a spice/coffee bean grinder OR 3 cups millet flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Add fenugreek seeds. 

Make a well in the center and add:
            1 egg OR 2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
            ¼ cup olive oil
            1 cup water

Whisk these ingredients together briefly, then incorporate with dry ones and mix until you achieve dough-like consistency. Knead with your hands for a few minutes then set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease 1 large baking sheet with vegetable oil.

Flour a large cutting board. Divide dough into eight parts.
Shape each piece of dough into a 2-inch disc. Place on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Enjoy with soup for dinner or with scrambled eggs for breakfast. 

Horseradish Carrot Spread
Chop two large carrots into ¼ inch rounds.
Place in stock pot, cover with water, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil.
Boil for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender when poked with a fork.
Drain water and place boiled carrots in blender.
            ¼ cup olive oil
           1 Tablespoon horseradish root (freshly chopped or preserved in vinegar)
            2 teaspoons salt
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Enjoy as a spread or dip for steamed vegetables.

Nori Rolls
These seaweed-wrapped creations are excellent appetizers and serve as a fun group project.

Wash and peel 3 long pieces of fresh burdock root. You can substitute celery, scallions, turnips, zucchini or daikon radish.

Slice each root in half length-wise.
Cover the bottom of a skillet with 2 inches water. Bring to a boil, add burdock, and cover. 
Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until burdock is tender.

Open a package of nori wrappers. 

Distribute a thin layer of carrot spread over 3/4 of a wrapper. Place a piece of burdock inside and roll: start with the burdock at one end and finish with the part that has no spread. Wet this end so that it will stick to the roll. 

Slice each roll in half and enjoy!

If you like, you can make a dipping sauce by mixing:
2 Tablespoons tahini, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and a bit of salt in a bowl.

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