Immunity soups

Feeling a tad bit run down last week (ahem, yes that is my excuse for not blogging!). You know, the scratchy throat, tiredness, achy body. The cold/sickness/whatev was not at its fullest capacity but I was no where near 100%. On a quest to fight off what ever it is that tells my body to react this way, I turn to soups. I wondered if inflammation was the culprit. So I went back about a week, dissecting my diet, meals, snacks, etc. and nothing prominent stood out and said “Ah-ha!”. So a few days of soup as my main source of nourishment seemed the right fit. As well as permission to fully rest when needed (so hard for most of us to grant ourselves permission! when we are the directors of our lives!).

Most “clean” soups will do. I decided to share 2. One is inspired from Alicia Silvertone’s book The Kind Diet and the other from Dr. Weil’s new book True Food (he was in Sarasota a couple weeks ago and signed my copy! book signings being an interesting blog topic for the future).

In The Kind Diet, pg. 251, you will find “Alicia’s Magical Healing Soup”. It is indeed magical and healing. I made it a lot last year and have customized since with whatever is available during the time of need. That is the cool thing about soups, you can use what is available in your fridge, what appeals to you at that moment, and what is local and in season. The recipe serves 4 and can easily be cut in half to serve 2 (or 1 but 2 meals). Here is the gist:

1 carrot, cut into large chunks

1 daikon, cut into large chunks

1 red onion, cut into large chunks

3-5 celery stalks, chopped

5-6 broccoli florets

8 button mushrooms (or mushrooms you have around)

1 leek, cut into large chunks (to clean: cut in half swirl in a bowl of water to dislodge sand and grit)

juice from ginger, to taste (peel and grate a 1″ piece of ginger and squeeze out the juice with your fingers)

shoyu to taste (shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce. anything like tamari or soy sauce can be substituted)

2 whole scallions, roots and all, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the carrot and daikon first. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the red onion, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery, broccoli, mushrooms, and leek. Add the ginger juice and shoyu to the broth to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through but still slightly firm, about 5 minutes. Add the scallion, and turn off the heat (if you prefer scallions raw, add them just before serving). To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Top with watercress, mochi, or whatever else you fancy.

In Dr. Andrew Weil’s newest book, True Food, pg. 98 you will find “Immunity Soup” (which I cooked this week). **Heads up, this recipe calls for astragalus root which may be difficult to find. I did not find any and therefore did not add to the soup however, will be looking further to see if other natural food stores in my town carry from time to time. Astragalus root is a Chinese herb used to ward off colds and flu and has powerful immune-enhancing properties. Dr. Weil also shares that Shiitake mushrooms boost immunity and have an antiviral effect. Garlic is an antibiotic and ginger a natural ANTI-INFLAMMATORY agent. Here is the recipe for Mushroom Stock and Immunity Soup:

MUSHROOM STOCK

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (we used tamari)

1. Put the celery, onion, mushrooms, and 2.5 quarts water into a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and let the stock cook for 20 minutes.

2. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the stock steep for 20 minutes. Add the soy sauce. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer, discard the solids, and let cool. Use as needed, or put into lidded containers and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

SOUP

1.5 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 large onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, mashed (I am not sure the technical way to mash or if there is a utensil that helps with this, so I just mashed with knife)

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 large carrots, thinly sliced

2.5 pieces astragalus root (about 15 inches total)

10 cups Mushroom Stock

2 tablespoons tamari or low sodium soy sauce

Salt optional

2 cups broccoli florets

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the shiitakes, carrots, astragalus root, and Mushroom Stock. Bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Add the tamari and adjust the seasoning with salt IF NEEDED. Add the broccoli florets and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.

3. Remove the astragalus root pieces. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the scallions before serving.

Getting down in the kitchen!

Getting down in the kitchen!

Here it is!

Here it is!

Cheers to health!

Cheers to health!

The ah-ha in banana bread

This weekend, I began to realize the amazingly healing & gratifying qualities of making banana bread. It begins with having bananas go bad (or good depending on how one’s perspective is). There is something about being able to make something new out of something “old”. Then, as I was stirring, I had a flashback of my mom making banana bread. I mean, she made it a lot, consistently. Piecing together the beauty of time passing, I saw my son watching my cut his slice for breakfast and wondered if some day he would also find memories in this. Definitely an ah-ha moment for me.

I had Almond Flour in the fridge and decided to google a (gluten free because my tummy was a little icky) banana bread recipe. I cut the recipe in half, only had 2 bananas. Also decided not to use the almond extract. The result was moist and delish! Definitely recommend this simple, healthy recipe to try. Follow the link for the recipe chosen or see below.

http://nourishingflourishing.com/2011/04/gluten-free-bomb-banana-bread-aka-everyones-favorite-thing-i-make/

Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
4 ethically-sourced eggs or vegan substitute (Note: I haven’t tried this, so I can’t make any guarantees — sorry! Will keep you updated on my success.)
1 tsp almond extract
7 Tb – 1/2 C agave (or honey) — up to you how sweet
2 Tb vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 1/1 tsp baking soda
5 C. almond flour
2 Tb cinnamon
1 C dark chocolate chips (optional)

Optional: 1-2 Tb coconut oil. Not necessary, but totally takes it over the top!

Recipe:
1) Massage or squeeze bananas while they are still in their peel to make softening them easier. I literally crush them with my hands, and then remove the peel and dumb they into the bowl. It really makes things easy!
2) Mix wet ingredients and bananas. (I use a handheld mixer and it speeds everything up.) It should be ready when the consistency is fairly smooth — you want the banana to be in tiny little pieces, not big chunks.
3) Mix dry ingredients, and add to wet.
4) Pour into three smaller load pans, or one large and one small. (I always line mine with parchment, and strongly recommend it for even baking and easy clean up.)
5) Bake in preheated 325* oven for about 45 minutes (it might take longer). The top should be browned.
6) Remove when a knife in the middle comes out clean, and let cool in the pan. Slice with a sharp knife.

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