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Shitake Mushroom Immune Boosting Soup

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Shitake Mushroom Immune Boosting Soup

Being sick is the worst! So I'm sharing a nutritious recipe to help you stave off the next cold. When you are fighting the latest seasonal bug, there is much you can do to boost your immune system using just the ingredients you have in your cupboard. This soup combines many of my favorite immune boosters like shiitake mushrooms, bone broth and ginger. Each of these foods have medicinal properties that promote strong immune response to viruses, lower inflammation in the respiratory system, and help you get all your needed vitamins and minerals through real food.

While you certainly can get away with using store-bought broth, I'd encourage you to adopt the habit of making homemade broth with your vegetable and/or bone scraps. Here is the full recipe for how to make broth from scratch.

Can a mushroom day keep the doctor away? Maybe! Shitake mushrooms are well researched for their immunosuportive and antiviral agents. During flu season, eat a variety of asian mushrooms every week. (Try shiitake, maitake, reishi and cordyceps.)

Ingredients 2 tbsp coconut oil (or grapeseed/ olive) 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, green flesh minced 1-2 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced 2 tbsp garlic, minced 2 green onions chopped (green and white sections) 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, wiped of dirt and chopped into slices. 2 1/2 quarts homemade stock (bone or a vegetarian mineral broth) 2 tbsp tamari (a gluten free soy sauce) 2 lemons, juiced 2 lemons, zested 1 block soft organic tofu (preferably Hodu brand) 2 cups carrots, shredded Fresh ground black pepper

Directions In a stockpot over medium heat, melt your oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Next add your minced jalapeño, ginger, garlic and the white part of your green onions and sauté until soft and smelling delicious. Then add shiitake mushrooms and sauté another 2 minutes, until they are softened.

While this is happening zest and then juice your lemons and set aside.

Now add your add your stock and tamari to the cooking vegetables, bring to a simmer and cook for about 5-10 minutes while the soup reduces.

Add lemon juice, tofu and carrots and cook gently for 2-5 more minutes to heat tofu. Season with black pepper.

Ladle this nourishing soup into your favorite bowl, garnish with green scallion and lemon zest, and eat wearing cozy socks. Feel better!

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Stocks and Broths: How to Soup Yourself to Health

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Stocks and Broths: How to Soup Yourself to Health

Alternate tittle: How to Cook Bone Broth Like a Witch Doctor. Homemade broth is one of those ancient dishes we have let fall to the wayside. For centuries stocks and broths were the backbone of a family's nutrition, but now it is much easier to drop by your local store and pick up a box of pre-made or a bullion cubes.  I get it.  We, myself included, are all busy rushing around trying succeed in our lives and then feed ourselves and our loved ones.

But I had my eyes opened a few years ago, when I opened my life to a man who is an incredible chef and who takes none of these old traditions for granted.  He really values the taste and depth of food made from scratch and will go to great lengths to make homemade sauces, soups, dressings, and pastas, you name it.  While I agree that flavor is much better, my biggest discovery is how easy it is to actually make these healthy basics. Now I am the lucky owner of a jam-packed freezer.  It is full of homemade fish and chicken stocks, ice-cube trays full of different pesto's and tomato sauces, pre-made crusts and lots of tiny bags filled with veggie and bone scraps to be saved for future stocks.

I first got into drinking bone broth to improve on my digestive system (as it's known to seal and heal the gut), but now I drink one cup a day of this age-old medicine for a strong immune system during flu season, to support my body when I'm stressed out, and to give me beautiful, vibrant skin and hair. It is the very BEST real food way to get your body maximum nutrients.

A South American proverb says "good broth will resurrect the dead." Known as a cure-all in traditional households, bone broths can be found across many generations, continents and healing traditions.  And science validates what our grandmothers knew best, a homemade broth is the healthiest thing you can eat. It's known to cure colds, soothe sore throats, heal ulcers, relieve fatigue, strengthen hair, nails and bones, improve digestion, heal the gut and boost the immune system.  Whether you are a chef, a healer or just trying to live a healthy life, this is a must have ingredient for your kitchen.

INGREDIENTS Broths can take many forms but should always start with a pile of vegetables (or scraps), and pure water. From there you can add just about anything to make it your own and boost the nutrition to fit your needs:

Vegetables: Onion, garlic, celery, carrots, mushrooms or mushroom stems (cut and save your shiitake stems in the freezer), green beans, leeks (or saved/ frozen leek tops), greens, dried or fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, thyme).

Bones: Organic beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, or fish bones. these can be bought raw from your local butcher or you can save leftover bones after a roast. Keep them in the freezer adding scraps of bones/ vegetables until you have enough to fill half a stock pot. Now you are ready to make stock! Cooked bones work fine, but raw bones produce more flavor.

Boosters: Clean egg shells (for added calcium); Heads and feet of poultry (for added collagen); Dried seaweed, aka kambu, (adds iodine for thyroid support & digestibility); Vinegar (increases nutrient absorption);  shiitake/ maitaki or reishi mushrooms (to deep immune support ).

Nourishing Chicken Stock

INGREDIENTS

1 whole organic chicken carcass including all the bony parts: neck, back, breastbone and wings (Remove as much of the fat as possible.) (Highly recommended option to include the chicken head, feet, or gizzard for increased mineral density and lots of healing collagen. This is a great way to create a medicinal broth that will support your digestive and immune system and give you healthy hair, skin and nails.)

4 quarts of cold water

2 Tbs. vinegar

1 large onion, quartered, papers can be left on

1-2 full heads of garlic, cut width-wise, papers can be left on

3 pieces of celery, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 bunch of parsley

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp of whole peppercorns

Optional Boosters: 1-4 Tbs. of seaweed (dulce or kambu) optional 1-4 egg shells, cleaned 10 shitake stems (or whole mushrooms)

DIRECTIONS

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 and once ready, add your bones and onions to the oven to brown (about 15 mins). This will deepen the flavor of the broth and give you a dark, rich color (if you are looking to make a clear broth, skip this step.) NOTE: If using the head or feet, do not brown them first

(If using the addition of seaweed, cut a piece of kambu that is a few inches long and soak in water for 10 mins.)

Meanwhile, add the rest of your vegetables and non-roasting bones (like feet or head) to a stock pot with cold water. Cover with enough water that the bones and veggies are just submerged. Remove the roasted bones from the oven and place them directly into the stock pot with the vegetables. Add the herbs, bay leaves, pinch of sea salt, peppercorns and the kombu. Add vinegar and let them sit for 45 minutes in cold water. The vinegar will help to leach maximum nutrients (calcium and collagen) from the bones.

Once you have soaked your cold stock, turn on the stove to high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer then skim the top of the broth with a ladle to get the scum (small bubbles) off. (These are the toxins the bones release.) Remove the kombu after 45 minutes and discard, but let the broth continue to simmer for a minimum of 8 hours, but up to 24. If needed, you can add water to replenish any evaporated liquid

Once done cooking you will need to strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Save the liquid-stock, then compost the remaining bones/veg.

Your stock will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to four-five days. For the stock you don't think you'll use right away, let it cool and then add it to plastic quart containers (old yogurt jars) or zip lock bags to freeze. I like to freeze some in ice-cube trays so that I can have small portions to throw into sautéed veggies.

I love to drink a cup of steaming broth with my lunch with a little parsley and salt, but I also add it to my cooking by making rich soups, cooking grains, beans or even oats with it. It is the very BEST real food way to get your body maximum nutrients.

Alkaline Vegetable Broth

This is an excellent broth to make if you are vegetarian, fighting a cold, or on a whole-food cleanse. This broth is completely alkaline and will help your body re-set from the acidity of a regular diet.  You can use it as a soup base, to add extra flavor and nutrition to any recipe that calls for water, or as a great nourishing, hydrating and cleansing meal.

INGREDIENTS

Choose a combination of the following vegetables equaling about 1 1/2-2 cups of each: celery, carrots, zucchini, green beans, parsley, kale, spinach, chard, parsley, and onions. Add several cloves of garlic, a handful of your favorite herbs and a couple of bay leafs. Include boosters like kombu, vinegar, lemon juice, or shiitake mushroom stems.

DIRECTIONS

Place all of your vegetables in a large stock pot and saute for a few minutes. Add more than enough filtered water to cover them. Bring to boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off and let cool on the stove. Strain and discard the veggies and keep the broth.

These will keep in the fridge for up to three days, or you can freeze and use later as a soup stock.

The Skinny

When cooked for a long period of time bones and vegetables release their nutrients into the water. Bone broth's contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, and trace minerals. Vegetable broths contain the potassium and magnesium , but with little to no protein.  And in its liquid form, these nutrients are very easily absorbed by the body. Broths made from fish bones and seaweed provide iodine and thyroid strengthening substances.

When broths are cooled they congeal due to the presence of gelatin. Gelatin has been used for historically by many cultures to treat a long list of diseases including treat ulcers, hernia, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle disease, digestive issues,  infectious disease and cancer. Infant chicken stock that includes the head is called the "Jewish Penicillin".

Broths drastically improve the bodies mineral content, repair digestion and boost the immune. And as a low-calorie, protein rich food, vegetable and bone broths are hard to beat.

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

A good blended soup should be a go-to in your cooking kit of cooking techniques. They are easy to make, extremely nourishing and seem much fancier then they truly are.  All blended soups start with garlic, onions and vegetables. Get creative with whatever is in season. Cook vegetables until soft, season and then blend them until smooth. Wah lah! I love picking a good garnish. Garnish opportunities are endless! Some of my favorites are something with crunch (toasted nuts, whole-grain croutons, crispy tortilla strips), something creamy (yogurt or flavored oils), or fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, thyme.) Get creative! 

INGREDIENTS

Olive Oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 teaspoons of red curry paste

1 head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped

1 russet potato, peeled and chopped

1 can of coconut milk

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (low sodium)

Greek yogurt, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the onions, garlic and ginger and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until onions become translucent, stirring occasionally.  (4-5 mins)

Add red curry paste to the vegetables and cook another minute or until fragrant. Stir in your coarsely chopped cauliflower and your peeled and chopped potato. Add another pinch of salt.

Add about 4 cups of stock and increase the heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce it to medium heat and add in your coconut milk. Stirring occasionally, cooking until the vegetables are very tender. About 20 minutes.

Using a food processor, immersion blender or hand-held blender, puree the soup until it is completely smooth. Put the soup back into it's pot and reheat on low until you are ready to serve.

Serve hot in warm bowls and garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a few sprinkled pumpkin seeds and cilantro leaves.

The Skinny

Cauliflower is part of my favorite vegetable family: The Cruciferous! The cruciferous family are known sulfuric vegetables that stimulate and detoxify the liver. for healthy detoxification you'll want to include a cruciferous vegetable 2-3 times per week.

Cauliflower itself offers huge doses of antioxidant Vitamin C, manganese and carotenoids. 1 cup of cooked cauliflower gives you  55 mg of vitamin C. Cauliflower also contains high amounts of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation. And, just by virtue of having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cauliflower is naturally protective against cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

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The Easiest Soup Imaginable

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The Easiest Soup Imaginable

I have an admission: I ate my jack-o-lantern.

I couldn't help myself!  I had all these beautiful pumpkin's on my porch staring in, begging not to be wasted.  So I did some research (turns out you can eat almost every pumpkin!) and I roasted up several varieties.

Keeping in-line with my recent soup fetish, I decided to blend this baby up into a creamy concoction.  What I ended with is the easiest fall soup imaginable.

Thai Pumpkin Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 medium squash (Any kind will work: acorn, kambucha, butter nut, etc.)

1 can of light coconut milk

1 tablespoon of Thai red curry paste

½ cup diced onion

1 tablespoon of diced fresh ginger.

1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or olive oil.)

Topping: Plain yogurt, pumpkin seeds, chili flakes.

DIRECTIONS

To begin preheat your oven to 400.  CAREFULLY cut the squash in half and place in a deep baking pan, skin side up.  Pour ½ cup of water in the pan with the squash.

Roast squash for 30-45 minuets or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven and place on stovetop to cool.

While the squash is cooling, heat coconut oil in a deep soup pot. Add your diced onion and ginger and sauté until soft (about 3 minutes.) Add 1 Tbs. of curry paste and mix well. Add some chili flakes at this point if you want extra spice. Then scoop the pumpkin flesh into the pot and stir it well (breaking up the big pieces of squash). Pour in 1 can of coconut milk and mix together.   You can stop here and have a chunky soup, or you can blend this in your food processor little by little until it is smooth.  I think blended soups are fancy, so I opted for the latter.

Simmer soup (blended or not) for 5 minuets and its ready to eat.

Serve with 1 scoop of plain yogurt and sprinkled pumpkin seeds and chili flakes.

The Skinny: Pumpkins are full of carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium and fiber! This low calorie squash will help you keep healthy eyes, bones strong, promote healthy digestion and a strong immune system! 

If you use the seeds (waste not, want not) you get a huge does of Omega 3's  manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and tryptophan. Pumpkin seeds are at the top of the nutrition nut pile.  They are anti inflammatory (good for arthritis), protect from prostate cancer, lower cholesterol with their Phytosterols, and improve mood and stress coping. They are also very high in protein

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Poached Egg Miso

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Poached Egg Miso

Is it just me or did winter sneak up behind us, in the midst of our summer holiday?  True to San Francisco weather, we had  two precious weeks of 70 degrees, sunny park lunches, followed quickly with the a search for our wool hats and boot socks.  With the rainy weeks ahead I thought it the perfect time to talk soup. Those of you who know me, know that my relationship with soup has been a rocky road. My mom would always cook up big pots of everything-in-fridge-soup, that I would force down throughout the week. Resentful that I was once again face to face with the vegetables I had rejected so certainly just a week before. Once I was free to rule over my own kitchen, I vowed to ban all soups, stews and watery leftovers from my kitchen table.  But I admit, I have softened through the years. Maybe its due to chilly San Fran living, or that a blended soup offers something much more complex and intriguing. Or possibly that my 'ol mom was onto something and that I now recognize that soups are a great way to make a nourishing meal.  Whatever it is, I have turned a corner and am always looking for interesting new ways to make amends with my old enemy.

This week I was inspired by The Kitchn's  winter soup round-up and made this super easy, nourishing miso soup for dinner last week. It is the perfect prescription to rainy nights and fall colds and will leave you wishing your mom was around to fix you soup.

Poached Egg Miso 

INGREDENTS

2 quarts good broth

1/2 cup miso paste

One 12-ounce block soft tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 small bunch scallions, green tops sliced thin

Greens (I used spicy broccolini in this version but bok choi, chard, pea shoots or dandelion greens would be great.)

Chili flakes

Kombu  (a seaweed that adds flavor, nutrients and digestibility to soups, grains and beans.)

For each  bowl:

1 cup cooked brown rice (or quinoa)

1 large egg

Soy sauce

Sambal (aka rooster sauce.)

Sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Pour stock into a large saucepan.  Add a 3 inch piece of kombu to the cold stock and bring to a boil.  While stock is boiling ready the miso paste into a small bowl or measuring sup.  Add boiling stock to the miso and whisk until completely dissolved then combine with the stock.  Keep over low heat; do not let the broth boil after the miso has been added.

Stir in the tofu cubes and the sliced scallions, and heat just until warmed through.

Meanwhile add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to a pan.  Once hot, add your greens and stir to evenly coat with sesame oil. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon (depending on taste) over the greens, add a splash of water lower the heat and cover for aprox. 5 minuets or until the greens have wilted.

To prepare a bowl of soup Place 1 cup cooked white rice in each soup bowl. Poach an egg for each bowl of soup. (Alternatively, you can add an egg to a bowl of hot broth, cover it, and let stand for several minutes.)

Pour about 1 cup of miso soup over the rice in each bowl, place a poached egg on top and add wilted greens.  Serve with soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil.

The Skinny

Seaweed is a super food you should be eating. The Japanese have been cooking with sea vegetables for centuries to enhance both the flavor and  nutrition of their dishes. Seaweed offers the broadest range of minerals of any food as they contain every single mineral found in the ocean. The highlights are iodine which support the thyroid, lignans which offer cancer prevention, funcan substances dramatically lower the inflammation in the body.  Seaweed also has theraputic levels of folic acid and magnesium which protect the heart, cardiovascular system and support women in menopause. And last but not least a broad range of B vitamins to decrease stress and anxiety.  (Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Murray, 2005.)

Adding pieces of kombu to your soup stocks, grains and beans will allow the nutrients to be absorbed by the food.  You can also try dulce flakes as a seasoning and of course seaweed sheets for making sushi and wraps.

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Deceptively Creamy Broccoli Soup

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Deceptively Creamy Broccoli Soup

The C.S.A Challenge, Part 1 I have finally done it! With a little nudge from a Living Social Deal, I signed up for my first ever C.S.A box. These Farm-Fresh-To-You delivery boxes are great on so many levels, as they promote local and seasonal ingredients, AND encourage you to try cooking with vegetables out of your box (heh.)

Bright and 6:00am early this morning, on my way to teach a bootcamp, I was surprised to find sitting on my doorstep (open for the world sample from), the newly arrived C.S.A box.  I am embarrassed to admit as a Nutritionist, that it has taken me this long to sign up.  But the time is right! These days I am working/eating at home more often and have the time to truly commit 100% to the C.S.A challenge.

So I'd like to share my journey with you, as I delve into the depths of "the box" and together we will face all the challenges the veggies have to offer.  Because I imagine, like me, many of you might be sitting at home, hesitant, non-committal and wondering what would you do with all those veggies? Let's find out.

Box Contents

1 bu Beets 1 bu Carrots 1 bu Leeks 1lb Summer Squash 1 pt Blueberries 8 ct Black Plums 1 Cantaloupe 2 ct Cucumbers 2 ct Green Bell Pepper 2 ct Broccoli 1 bu Green Leafy Lettuce

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C.S.A Endeavor #1: Not-So-Creamy-Broccoli Soup

I currently have so much broccoli I can not close my vegetable drawers. I've been wondering: realistically, how much broccoli can two people eat? Well it turns out, that when cooked down and blended,  a lot!

I scoured my favorite cookbooks/journals for broccoli soup recipes, but all I found was

cream-heavy variations.

So then I turned to some

healthy blogs

and found many bland, vegan varieties. Something in between will suit my tastes best.  Lots of flavor without the junk.

The recipe I concocted is a classic broccoli soup meets nutritional boosters dish. I've added tofu for protein, and although that might seem scary to a few of you, the result is a creamy, full body soup. As some of you may know there is a controversy surrounding soy products.  One of the main issues is that soy does not contain a whole protein, so it can be difficult for the body to process. However, as demonstrated for centuries in the Asian diet, when combined with other proteins ( ie: fish or chicken broth), it becomes a whole and lean source of protein.

Secondly I've added nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a nutrient dense super food, packed FULL of B vitamins and happens to have a very cheesy flavor ( of course, dairy free.) I did use chicken broth to 'up' the protein, but feel free to go with vegetable broth if you prefer the dish vegan. So without further ado...

Leandra's C.S.Awesome Broccoli Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of broccoli (stems included)

2 leeks

4 cloves garlic

1/4 white onion

2-3 Tbs olive oil

4 small red potatoes (optional)

1/2 container of tofu

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

4 cups of chicken broth (Proud to say, I used home-made)

salt, fresh pepper and cayenne (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pot. Chop the leeks (excluding most of the green tops), dice 3 garlic cloves, and thinly slice the potatoes. Add all to the heated oil and cook about 5-10 minutes until the leeks begin to caramelize. Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Then add 2 cups of chicken broth.  As this cooks continue to scrape the bottom of the pan to include the sticking bits. Once the chicken broth is added, cook until the potatoes soften (aprox. 10-20 mins.)

Meanwhile chop the broccoli (including the sweet stems!) in to large florets.  Remember, all of this will be blended later so the size is not important for the outcome. (But remember: slicing all your veggies approximately the same size helps them to cook at a more even pace. ) Once the potatoes are 85% cooked, add the broccoli to the pot and pour in the remaining two cups of chicken stock.Bring to a simmer and cook approximately 10 minutes, letting the broccoli cook until al dente.

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While the broccoli cooks put your tofu, white onion, remaining garlic clove and nutritional yeast into the food processor. Season with 1 tsp of salt and of pepper. Add a little of the soup liquid if    needed to help blend smoothly.  Blend until creamy. When the broccoli is cooked, add the "creamy" tofu mixture into the soup. Mix together.

Then in small batches, transfer the veggies and a little broth into the food processor and blend until smooth. Once blended add it back to the soup and continue until all veggies have been blended smooth. Season with salt and pepper and cayenne to taste.  Cook another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

The soup can be served with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and ground pepper.

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