February 28, 2014

Soup!

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

The Building Blocks of Soup


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

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

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

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

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

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

Slow Cooker Soup Recipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 24, 2014

Mardi Gras Foods

Dear Friends,
I just returned from New Orleans, where Carnival season is in full swing! Locals celebrate with music, dancing, parades, and, of course food.

This is the traditional time of feasting before the 40 days of lent and simple living, which lead up to Easter.

This year, Mardi Gras, which translates as 'Fat Tuesday', is March 4th.
Enjoy these healthy versions of celebratory foods and consider eating more simply for the days that follow. From a seasonal perspective, this practice is a wonderful way to prepare body, mind and spirit for spring, which makes its first appearance around spring equinox, March 21st.

Corn Bread

To prepare, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease a square baking dish with oil and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine:
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour (rice, spelt, or millet)
1 teaspoon each: baking powder and baking soda
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add:
1 cup milk (almond, rice, or cow)
1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil
2 eggs (or 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal soaked in 4 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Whisk these together, then incorporate with dry ingredients until barely mixed.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.

Try it with molasses, black-eyed peas and greens for a complete meal.

***
Another classic recipe of coastal people who celebrate Mardi Gras is Jambalaya. This one-pot wonder often includes spicy sausage and seafood. Prepare it according to your palate and tradition.

Jambalaya

In a stock pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Brown 1 pound boneless chicken breasts on both sides, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Using the same pot, saute together for 10 minutes:

3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon gumbo file (made from sassafrass)
1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, oregano

Add shrimp and/or andouille sausage if you like and cook until done, about 5 minutes.
Add cooked chicken.

Then, add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup crushed tomatoes with juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 1 cup long-grain rice in 2 cups water.
Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil as rice is cooking to add flavor.

Serve jambalaya over rice and breathe in the amazing aromas of this traditional dish.




February 6, 2014

Brussels Spouts

These adorable tiny cabbages might get a bad rap, but they are a delicious and ideal mid-winter cleansing food.

Roasted Almond Brussels Sprouts

You will need:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon stone ground brown mustard
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half, rinsed and patted dry¼ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, caraway seeds, and almonds. Add the trimmed Brussels sprouts to the mixture, toss well, then spread them in an even layer on the prepared pan. Season the Brussels sprouts with sea salt and roast for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Enjoy with white bean velouté.
***
White Bean Velouté

Choose cannellini (white kidney) or Vermont yellow-eye beans.To soak dry beans, place ½ cup in a large bowl and cover with 1 inch water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.
Pour beans through strainer and allow to drain.Rinse with water until liquid runs clear through strainer.
Pour into a stock pot with 3 cups water.Cover pot and turn heat on high.Bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure that beans do not boil over.

Once the pot has come to a boil, remove lid and reduce to medium heat. Foam will form on top of the water. Use a spoon to skim off the foam. Repeat this step periodically as you notice more foam. Cook beans 1 hour or until tender.
Strain and rinse once more.If using canned beans, choose ones with no salt added (I like Eden Organics). Strain and rinse before proceeding.
Meanwhile, make caramelized onions (see below).
Once beans are cooked, add: ¼ cup olive oil 1 Tablespoon dried thyme Salt and freshly ground black pepper Caramelized onions (see below)Purée in food processor or with immersion blender.

***Caramelized Onions
Choose 1 large yellow onion. Chop off top and bottom, 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.Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet that has a matching lid.When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover.Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.Add salt and any desired spices and simmer for 15 more minutes, until onion starts to brown.Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

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