Immunity Boost Soup

Oh boy oh boy. Everyone is sick. And if you have young kids, or know people who do, then you know 'tis the season to be on the merry-go-round of seemingly endless illness for the next 4 months. Booo! So, I offer you some cold and flu season comfort. The ingredients are both soothing (for when you are sick) and protective (for when you aren't--but are in the danger zone!)

The real magic of this bad boy come from the stock. Pictured below are the superstars in this soups: Miso paste, fresh ginger root, an insane amount of garlic, and the often overlooked white peppercorn.

I want to give some extra love to the miso paste and the white pepper in this soup.

Miso:

One of my favorite super foods! Miso paste is an ancient fermented food that originated in China, 2,500 years ago, but is commonly thought of as a Japanese staple food. Miso paste is a made by fermenting beans and/or grains for months to years, depending on the type of miso you end up with. I love fermented foods for many reasons…one is that they are a sustainable way to preserve, in the case of miso, your bean or grain of choice.

I also love the health benefits that arise from the fermentation process. Fermentation uses earth energy to transform a plant food into a living health food, by decomposing the plant and turning it into something new. Fermented foods are chock full of good bacteria (probiotics), that help us to bring life and energy to our intestines, and are beneficial in helping our digestive systems break down and assimilate nutrients from our foods. If you think about the word pro-bitoic, or pro-living things, it makes sense that fermented foods are being touted for their ability to heal our guts in a world that is rampant with an  antibiotic or anti-living things philosophy.  It is a deep philosophical statement to choose to eat fermented foods, to choose to build good life in your body, rather than strip the "bad" away. Whether or not you want to go on the philosophy journey with me, know that miso is delicious--and that is a good enough reason to enjoy it!

Miso has an earthy, soothing umami flavor, which translates to “deliciousness” in Japanese or "pleasant savory taste”. This is a flavor that is difficult to find in our standard diet, but our bodies crave it! Finding ways to balance our intake of flavors is a good way to ward off cravings—which typically have us grabbing for packaged sweets or oily, salty snacks.

Eat miso when wanting something warm, comforting or salty. The Earth qualities of miso mean that is is a grounding, stabilizing, nourishing food to eat. Great at times when feeling ill, anxious, or “flighty”.

When buying miso, be sure to get the unpasteurized paste that will be in a glass jar or plastic tub in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. The unpasteurized miso will still be teeming with those good gut bugs-the lactobacillus, and you want those!

When it comes to color, the lighter the miso, the lighter and sweeter the flavor. The deeper in color the more robust the flavor. I encourage you to experiment with different types to discover how YOU miso!

For this soup we will use a light and sweet white miso, and we will stir a shot of it into the main stock, right at the end. By not "cooking" the miso, we are preserving the good bacteria that are alive in there!

White Peppercorn:

White pepper berries come from the same vine as the familiar black peppercorns, but are harvested later and processed slightly differently. For white pepper, the hull of the berry is removed - the outer black “shell”. Check out that  g o r g e o u  s  illustration at right. The cross-section of the berry on the left side of he drawing clearly illustrates that black hull.

With the hull much of the biting spice is removed from the peppercorn. Instead, white pepper has a more floral taste and has the most beautiful warming quality when eaten - rather than an overt spiciness. You will notice this right away in the soup broth, and I think that is what makes it so special: It warms the chest and belly without spicing out the tongue.

I like to eat this soup when it is hot hot hot. Like mouth burning, chest radiating, nose running kind of hot. It just feels more healing that way!

I hope you enjoy this delicious soup, and this season leaves you well and full of vitality!

Immunity Boost Soup

 

This spicy, healing, power-house of soup is great anytime, but especially when needing some added protection during cold + flu season.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium carrot, diced
  • 8 -10 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced or crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip or daikon radish, diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, wiped and trimmed (I used chantrelles)
  • 1 small head broccoli, chopped into pieces
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons white miso paste
  • For garnish: fresh scallions - finely chopped, cilantro finely-chopped, radish-thinly sliced (pictured are watermelon radish)

Instructions

  1. Heat a heavy soup pot over high heat.
  2. Stir in the oil, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Gently sauté just until soft, but not browned. Add a bit of water if the pan drys out.
  4. Stir in the white pepper and 8 - 10 cups of water.
  5. Turn up the heat to bring the broth to a simmer, and hold there for about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, and salt, and gently simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Prepare the miso by stirring the miso paste into approximately 1/2 cup water to dissolve. Set aside.
  8. After 5 minutes, stir the soup well, taste, and adjust with more salt, pepper or water if needed.
  9. Turn off heat.

Notes

  • Ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls and drizzle about a teaspoon of the miso mixture into the broth. 
  • Top with a big dollop of green onions, cilantro, and a few watermelon radish slices. Fresh and crisp garnish rocks the heck out of most soups!

Enjoy!

 

Immuni-Tea + Kick Ass Tips to Stay Tip-Top this Season

Immuni-tea

This time of year I am all about drinking simple delicious teas, all day long. My very favorite thing, is a day spent at home with some of this tea simmering on the stove, warming up the place in a steamy + delightful  way.  Plus, it smells so great. This stuff is fantastic to sip all day long, hot or room temp.

Plus it is packed with super foods for wellness. You could switch it up with some of your wintertime favorites, but I try to keep these ingredients cooking on the regular, because they do wonders to make you feel good!

Ginger

Ginger is anti-inflammatory, which allows your body to protect itself from disease. Ginger also helps aide in digestion by stoking those fires, and heats you up by boosting your circulation. Ginger is also incredibly soothing to tummies upset by over-indulgence, or flu bugs.

Turmeric

This powerful natural medicine has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine for it's anti-inflammatory benefits, which help to relieve the body of aches and pains in the muscles and joints.

Lemon

Lemons are alkalizing, detoxifying superstars. Lemons and limes are both high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and cleanse bad bacteria from your stomach and kidneys. 

Clove

Spicy, delicious, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and high in manganese and vitamin k--cloves are a great addition to teas and cooking this time of year. Plus--cloves have an amazing aroma that inspires coziness (and nostalgia!)

The Tea:

Immuni-Tea + Kick Ass Tips to Stay Tip-Top this Season
Author: Denise
Ingredients
  • 1 inch sliced ginger root
  • 1/2 inch sliced turmeric root
  • 1 Tablespoon pepper corns
  • 1 Tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A few lemon slices (with peel removed if lemon is not organic)
  • Water
Instructions
  1. Boil it up and serve with honey. Delicious, nutritious and smells lovely.
  2. **If you like medicinal mushrooms, turkey tails would be a great addition, as would chaga. Both of these mushrooms do wonders to boost immunity!

More Immunity Boosting Tips:

Sleep!

In the winter, most of the natural world slows down, and so should we.  Curiously, winter time seems to be a time when us human animals run ourselves ragged with work, social obligations, holiday festivities, travel, shopping and the stress that goes along with all of that jazz. It can be hard to slow down and give your body the rest it craves when our culture wants us to go go go all the time. Keeping us detached from nature's natural rhythms is a huge boost for the capitalistic machine. I say--don't fall victim! You can show them all by getting some sweet, delicious sleep. Gobs of it. 8 hours a night (at least)  is especially important this season. Do what you can to rest when you need!

Exercise.

Getting a 30 minute walk, most days, will help keep the immune system strong. Bonus if you walk in the sunlight, the added vitamin D boost will do wonders for you health. 

Avoid sugar.

It’s a killer and it tends to be  e v e r y w h e r e   during the holiday season. So, do what you can to reduce your sugar intake by being conscious of the amount of sweets you are popping.  Take a beat before you grab that candy, cookie, cake at your co-workers desk and ask yourself, "Do I really want to eat this?" Chances are, there are plenty of times that the answer will be "NO!" So drop the goodie and be proud of your choice. 

Eat colorful fruit and vegetables.

Instead of sweets, fill your diet with fresh fruit and vegetables. Those loaded with vitamins C, A, E, Betacarotene, and Zinc are especially helpful to the immune system. Look for colorful fruit and veg to get those beautiful vitamins and nutrients. Think orange carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes. Deep garnet colored pomegranates. Rich purple cabbage. And dark green leafies, always...

Reduce Stress.

Stress is also a killer. Stress is guilty of systematically sabotaging your immune system by disturbing your sleep, distracting your fitness routine, and encouraging you to turn to caffeine and sugary sweets to get through the day. Stress will weaken your overall system leaving you more susceptible to infections and disease. So prioritize ways to manage stress this season.

      A few ideas:

  • Meditate: Deepak Chopra and Oprah have a 21 Day meditation series happening online right now, and it is free. The daily guided support can offer a big boost to your budding meditation practice. 
  • Find ways to lighten your load: say NO, ask for help
  • Connect with people: support systems support your whole body, find ways to connect with people that juice you up!
  • Exercise: a simple walk, ideally in fresh air and natural light, will do wonders to lower your stress levels. 
  • Laugh! Seriously, find ways to laugh--daily! 

I hope you find these tips helpful! Feeling good is so important if you want to SHOW UP in this world.

Make your tender health a priority this season.

 

xo

Cravings, Pomegranates and Ponderings

pomegranate beautyI was recently sick sick sick, with a flu that had me completely knocked out and absolutely without appetite. In fact, it was hard to consider food. It was hard to consider anything really, save for resting up and keeping still. Which, in hind sight was very nice. During the holidays indulgences of all varieties are the norm, and don't get me wrong, I love to indulge, but I was struck by the sensation of being repulsed by food, repulsed by consuming almost anything. It made me feel light, physically --naturally --but also mentally. There was a vulnerability and ease that came with being incapacitated that I deeply enjoyed!

As is typically the case, I have been extra in tune with this idea, the grace that CAN come with darkness, stasis, rest. Winter invites all living creatures to take a moment, to soak it in, to slow   w a y   d  o  w  n.  Which, can be really hard to do. I fight it big time, especially in times of change. But not when I have the flu!

I saw this quote in an article called "The Disease of Being Busy": "remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing." The article points out how connection with others can feel like trading To Do lists and exhaustions. It asks, why it's so rare to just be with someone, in space, and get to know what their heart is feeling. Not the 25 things they think they need to do by next Tuesday.

It struck me because at the moment, I don't feel like I am doing "enough", I don't have "enough" going on or "enough" items on my to do list. Sure there are things on there, but they could not happen and the world would keep spinning. At the moment I feel like I have time, and I feel guilty for it to not be filled, filled to the brim! I feel guilty that I don't have a long list to trade and I find myself chasing after things I might not want to do, just to fill it. But not when I have the flu! Ha!

For some reason, the flu and the winter, and the desire to rest and just be and not worry and not do and feel okie dokie with that, and be vulnerable and underground and ready to bud into something unknown --makes me think about cravings. And, a lack of punctuation and the above mentioned, makes me think about Crave, a play. Especially this verse done two ways. Both really really good. Seriously, peep it.

But I digress. What is a craving? It's a wanting, a powerful desire for something. Maybe to be busy, to feel important, to feel full, to feel satisfied, to feel like you have enough, to be liked, to have money, to have more money, to have fame, to have stuff, to have more time, to be alone, to be with others, to go to a tropical island etc.

Sometimes I think cravings are really good, they keep you on your toes and give you reasons to treat yourself, which I love. Cravings can be playful and joyous and ambitious. Cravings can also be distracting, and off putting and never ending and dishonest. A craving is like a trickster, it keeps you guessing and running and then you catch it and you might say, "oh, this is it?" And then you start running after another one.

But a craving can also tell you what you need. What your body needs and your soul needs from you--now. When I was sick and wanted for nothing, truth be told--I did want a couple of things. I wanted fruit and juice, something cool and slightly sweet and wet and "healthful".  You know when you just want something that seems good for your body? And for me that was oranges and strawberry and banana smoothies that my mom made for me and...pomegranate seeds. A delicate little juice filled wonder, that was the perfect size to satiate my non-existent appetite.

pom seed

I love the flavor of pomegranate, even when everything else makes me sick. Is that a tagline for Pom? It should be.  And I love the idea of a pomegranate. It's decadence, and all the things it makes me think of that have nothing to do with the fruit: winter and red lipstick, and thick juice, luxury, good wine, tasty company, glitter, shine, candlelight, stockings, twinkling, coziness, warmth, smiles, fire, dreams of light. But also the combined order and chaos of the actual fruit, the seeds draped exquisitely in fruit and nestled together like the deepest red snowflake or a crystal or a star. Swoon.

I wonder: What is the actual thing we need, and how does it tend to get fulfilled? When do you know you got it right?

A mystery worth pondering.

Me, alone, light and airy and vulnerable, on my bed, during the holidays, sucking on a pomegranate seed, feeling like it was plenty. Feeling like a powerful desire was satisfied. Was it the seed or all the holiday-rific good cheer I associate with it. This time those stories were for good. This time the trickster was a saint. But how else can this be turned around and flipped inside out?

I remembered a couple of years ago, in winter, I made this film with Ollie and a sweet friend who I miss. And it had pomegranates in it, and they were being elusive. Watch it if you want to,  it's short, you should have plenty of time.

http://vimeo.com/36050304

 

xo

 

 

Going Deep—With the Roots

rootcollage

 A weekly meal at my house in the colder months is roasted roots. I tend to make these on a Sunday night, to bring the weekend to a close. The grounding, warming energy of the roots is exactly how I like to wind down the weekend and prepare for the work week ahead. Additionally, making a big batch of roots sets us up with a few lunches for the week. I love to feel prepared with easy to assemble, nutritious lunches for my husband and I to bring into work. It leaves me feeling grounded and in charge!

But that’s not the only reason I love making roots.

These quiet, brooding, extra serious winter vegetables of the root variety have some really admirable characteristics.

culprits

beets

If you think about a root, and it’s function in the plant, the root is there to stabilize. It acts as the anchor, providing consistent nourishment, giving the plant the stamina and endurance needed to thrive.

Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the energetics of food when dealing with any sort of discomfort or dis-ease in the body. I find it fascinating to look at a food beyond it’s nutritional values (though those are super important too) and consider the energetic characteristics of the food we put in our mouths. Food for thought, right?

parsnips

An interesting read on the topic is the book Food Energetics by Steve Gagné.

Here’s a great quote from Gagné regarding roots:

“The private nature of the root, demonstrated by its work underground in darkness, is energetically manifested in us as stamina, confidence, grounding (physically and mentally), persistence, and strength…

Roots are fixed-goal-oriented: their goal is to dig deep and get to the point.”

Don’t you just love that? And doesn’t that energy satisfy the sort of inherent desire we have lurking around in the winter? I know I have been digging deep this winter, doing a lot of soul searching and feeling energized by creating and maintaining persistent habits. I figure I better do it now, before the freshness and the newness of spring encourages flightier endeavors! The flit and fancy of spring’s leafy greens are perfect for such moods!

But now, in the winter, the root reigns king, and I am all for it.

kings

This recipe is incredibly flexible, so please feel free to try whatever vegetables you want! Though, these are all real tasty…

Also good: A few varieties of potatoes, daikon radish, celery root, celery stalks, sunchokes—etc. Do what you want!

And please, don’t fear the knife here! I know some people can be a little shy to chopping up hard vegetables like roots—but having a sharp knife and watching your fingers ought to get you through unscathed. I find that having a nice rhythm on in the background helps too—get the old rock and chop going and you won’t want to stop! For your convenience I have added a few tunes at the end of this post—they accompanied my last round of roots!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  onion
  • 2 medium sized beets
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 15 or so Brussels Sprouts
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 inches of ginger, sliced thinly or grated
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • salt + pepper to taste (lot’s of pepper!)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree

2. Chop all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, or to your preference.

sweetpotato

3. Once chopped, add to a deep bowl.

cutup2

4. Toss vegetables with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

rootcollage

5. Spread coated vegetables onto a cookie sheet. Cover with foil.

onthesheet

6. Bake for 80 minutes or so—bake time will depend on the size of your veggies—test often!

7. Remove from the oven when vegetables are soft, yet still somewhat firm.

8. And voila! I like to serve with some cooked quinoa or brown rice (I cook mine in a little rice cooker while the vegetables are in the oven),  a bit of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and a lot of fresh ground black pepper.

roots!

I often add a few raw vegetables into the mix as well. There is some chopped kale and purple cabbage tossed in here.

Simple, nutritious, and designed to take your energy where it needs to go this time of year. Rock and roll.

Enjoy!

As promised, some tunes to chop it out to:

How could I resist this one?! The Seed 2.0 by The Roots

Beat those winter blues little Ikes: I’m Blue by The Ikettes

Pushovers don’t rock and chop—keep that in mind: Pushover by Etta James

Ok, I get it, ‘m talking about the personalities of parsnips: Superstition by Stevie Wonder

Bonus Shot—here is my lunch the next day at work! Yesssss!

RootLunch

 

Roasted Roots
Author: Denise
Ingredients
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 medium sized beets
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 15 or so Brussels Sprouts
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 inches of ginger, sliced thinly or grated
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • salt + pepper to taste (lot’s of pepper!)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree
  2. Chop all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, or to your preference.
  3. Once chopped, add to a deep bowl.
  4. Toss vegetables with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  5. Spread coated vegetables onto a cookie sheet. Cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 80 minutes or so—bake time will depend on the size of your veggies—test often!
  7. Remove from the oven when vegetables are soft, yet still somewhat firm.
  8. And voila! I like to serve with some cooked quinoa or brown rice (I cook mine in a little rice cooker while the vegetables are in the oven), a bit of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and a lot of fresh ground black pepper.
Notes
I often add a few raw vegetables into the mix as well. There is some chopped kale and purple cabbage tossed in here. But good old salt and pepper are about all you need!