Kitchen Sink Peanut Butter Soup

Posted on October 30, 2013. Filed under: Health, Soup Made Simple | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Food - Soup with Peanut Butter

This has got to be the simplest soup I ever made!  Mostly I wanted some stuff out of my freezer to make a little room!  The stock, beans, zucchini,  tomatoes and celery root all came right out of the freezer and into the pot.  As usual, my recipes are vague – make it your own!  This is my new normal – make soup on Monday – enjoy 2 days off of cooking dinner!  It really hits the spot, too, with the weather turning cooler.

Simple Soup

A shlock of butter (maybe 1-2 Tablespoons – vegans can easily use coconut oil/olive oil)

1 big onion coarsely chopped

3-4 Cups grated zucchini

5 big tomatoes – whole with just the cores cut out

1 Cup or so celery root or parsnip

3-4 Cups cooked beans – any kind – I used small red and kidney

3 Cups turkey stock (could be any kind of stock you have on hand – vegans can easily use veggie stock)

About 3/4 Cup organic, natural peanut butter (could also be almond butter – it doesn’t really flavor the soup, just thickens it and adds heft to the broth)

Seasonings:  about 1 Tablespoon Penzey’s Cajun Seasoning (a nice blend from our local spice company worth looking into:  Penzeys.com

about 1 teaspoon Penzey’s Berbere Seasoning (careful – very hot – if you use a lot, just a nice little warmth and zing if you use a little)

If you don’t have the above seasonings just use plain old chili powder as a substitute.  Also, try hunting around in your spice cabinet and adding some others like Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Old Bay Seasoning – all would be great additions.

about 1 Tablespoon dried garlic pieces (could be fresh)

about 2 teaspoons sea salt

Water to fill pot

Chopped yellow bell pepper for garnish

Chopped fresh garlic for garnish

1.  Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until onion starts to smell good and create brown stuff on the bottom of the pan.  Scrape up brown stuff – that’s the flavor!

2.  Add other veggies and beans except tomatoes.  Use a variety of what you have.  Can be fresh or frozen.

3.  Add seasonings and then stock and water.  Get it all steaming hot and then add tomatoes for just a few minutes after which you can slip the skins right off of them to compost.

4.  Right before serving stir in the peanut butter.  Then top each bowl with peppers and garlic.  (Other toppers work great too – chopped herbs like parsley/basil, chopped avocado, grated carrot or beet, use your imagination!)  Yum!

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Oregano and Lemon Thyme Harvest

Posted on September 11, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Plants - Oregano and Lemon Thyme

Free food – I love it!  Both these plants have come back for at least 4 years.  I just whack them down, dunk in a bucket of cold water, rinse and spin in the salad spinner.  Then lay out on paper towels in baskets and forget about them!  In a few weeks they are crispy.  Then it’s time to shove them into tins.  The oregano gets massaged to drop leaf parts into tomato sauce, pizzas, salads, eggs, you name it.  Same with the lemon thyme, which is a favorite on eggs.  It doesn’t get any easier than this!  These plants are completely neglected by me and the bugs in the garden.  Their high essential oil content protects them and me when I eat them!

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Garlic Harvest

Posted on August 6, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Plants - Garlic

Here’s the haul I made the other day!  Garlic is one of my favorite things to grow.  It is so easy and forgiving.  This year I didn’t weed, I didn’t even rake the leaves off of the bed in spring.  The garlic thrived in complete neglect.  My kind of plant!

Here’s what I did:

1.  I made a trip to Copper Kettle Farm near me to buy a few bulbs from their harvest last August.  You can find a local grower easily by doing an internet search for garlic growers or visit your local farmer’s market to find it for sale.

2.  In October, break apart the bulbs into individual cloves.  Prepare the planting bed by clearing of debris and weeds.  Hoe it if the ground is dry and hard.  Put a layer of compost on top if you have some ready to spread.

3.  Push the individual cloves into the ground about 3 inches apart and 2 inches deep.

4.  Water, and cover with something like straw or leaves.

5.  The cloves will begin to grow roots and get ready for the long winter.  If they start to grow little green shoots, just ignore this deviant behavior and it will go away!

6.  Ignore the bed until spring when you should rake off the covering.  A little water when it is dry is good, but they don’t really need anything.

7.  In June you will notice flower scapes developing on the green plants which look like curled whips at the tops of the plants with a sack at the end which would become the flower.  Because you don’t want the plant to put any energy into flower production, but rather building a nice big bulb below, you cut off these flower scapes.  Collect them, chop up and sauté in a little butter or olive oil for a delicious veggie!

8.  About mid-July the plants become about 1/2 browned.  This is harvest time!  Carefully dig up the bulbs, cut off the tops about 6 inches above the bulb and put them together in bunches or loosely in a box or bag to dry (cure).  I like to put them in the basement near the dehumidifier, my dad hangs bunches in his garage.  Whatever you like, basically you want air flow.  They are dried in about a month, but you can be using it fresh during this time too.  Drying it makes it last into the winter without spoilage.

9.  Save the biggest bulbs (I know, hard to do, but worth it) to replant in October.  Eat the rest!  Enjoy the freedom from cancer and a bunch of other ailments!

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The Vegan Who Ate a Pork Chop

Posted on May 22, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , |

Food - Pork ChopYou may remember that several months ago my new doctor wanted me to become a vegan for a few months to, “Give my body a break and reduce inflammation” in my body while my body was grappling with perimenopause.  She referred me to “The China Study” which I have since found out to be very flawed.  I made it one week and even that wasn’t completely vegan as I still enjoyed cream in my morning coffee.  Even the doc admitted there is no substitute for cream in coffee!

Since then I have been reading, “The Vegetarian Myth:  Food, Justice, and Sustainability” by Lierre Keith.  This book has rocked my world.  The author has thoroughly explained how industrialized food products are the real culprits in the standard American diet (SAD for short) which produce a whole host of illnesses including the inflammation my doctor was trying to reduce in my body.  This author also explains how agriculture which produces the foods vegetarians eat causes more environmental havoc than any way of eating before it was instituted.  I also now thoroughly understand how I developed a binge eating disorder in my young adulthood; a result of fasting, vegetarianism, and extreme dieting which depleted my brain of serotonin, a crucial brain chemical which can radically alter mood, cravings, and overall health and well-being.

And all this brings me to the luscious dinner I enjoyed the other night!  Just look at that pork chop above.  It was juicy and tender and full of fatty flavor.  My brain and body rejoiced to have eaten it.  I knew this by the great sense of well being I enjoyed afterward.  This is no small thing.  People in other places like France understand that the after affects of eating something are part of the overall food experience.  People here eating the SAD tend to equate the bloating, lethargy, gas, ongoing physical hunger, depression, achiness and more as completely separate from the low quality food that they are consuming, but the two are intimately connected.

So here is my super simple pork chop method:

Pork chops – locally produced, raised on pasture – this is crucial – pork chops from the average American grocery store are completely different – they are from tortured pigs raised in horrifying conditions, so cramped, they cannot turn around, force-fed industrial food waste-products namely corn and soybeans which are not the pigs’ natural food!

organic ketchup

garlic powder

salt + pepper

coriander + rosemary

Squirt a little ketchup on all sides of the chops.  Sprinkle spices and herbs all over.  Put into crockpot on low for 4-8 hours, longer just makes it more tender!  Enjoy with a big salad, complete with olive oil and vinegar.  Your body will rejoice when you consume gorgeous food like this!

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Superfoods – The Stash Builds

Posted on March 29, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Food - Superfoods

I met with my doc yesterday and we both agree that veganism is just too hard!  That said, I am eating no red meat nor dairy, and very little animal products at all.  Some days are vegan for me, but I’m not killing myself to keep it up.  So all in all I have still reduced the inflammatory load on my system by making my diet very clean.  On top of that, I’ve boosted my intake of this new category of foods known as superfoods which are chock full of nutrients the body loves.

Here is my growing stash:  nutritional yeast (yummy, rich flavor component to put on salads), chia seeds (for smoothies and oatmeal – 1 T. keeps me full for hours!), hemp seeds (so delicious as is, but an easy addition to a salad and/or smoothie), goji berries (crunchy and good for a little snack – little because they are very expensive!), and golden berries (puckery tart and chewy, also pricey, so small quantities.)

It’s been fun to play with these new foods.  I’m still enjoying the Superfood Kitchen book and now I’m looking forward to Julie Morris’ new book on using superfoods in smoothies.  Today I made a rice milk, frozen strawberry/blueberry/kale, stevia, vanilla, chia/hemp smoothie.  I wondered if the kale would kill it with yucky greens taste, but no, I couldn’t even tell it was in there!

By the way, I had a cholesterol test done at the local Walmart clinic because I didn’t want any dubious results in my medical record since I pay for my own insurance and it could be disastrous if I got a bad result recorded in my record.  So, I was Mary Smith for the day and for 70 bucks I found out I have a perfect cholesterol panel and perfect glucose as well.  The nurse practitioner said, “I wish I had numbers like these.”  I replied, “That’s a lot of vegetables and exercise!”  She admitted, then, that she should give up junk food.  Well, at least there was an acknowledgement that my lifestyle has at least contributed to those numbers!

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Healthy Energy Bites Made Simple

Posted on March 7, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Food - Energy Bites

I broke down and went to the doctor yesterday.  I know about iatrogenic death and disease (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/iatrogenic?s=t) so I don’t run to the doctor easily.  I go reluctantly and with great skepticism, but I will go minimally to the best person I can find who supports my health goal of zero medical intervention in my health!!  Well, I actually found a medical doctor in my area who gets it.  What a breath of fresh air in a quagmire of landmines, but I don’t want to get off track here, maybe another day we’ll go there.

My new doc is going to help me weather perimenopause smoothly!  Along the way we are going to avoid the big 3:  heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  She was telling me I need to quit all red meat for now as a minimum to reduce the inflammation in my body which will ease the demands of this new change and then she said these startling words, “No one who eats a plant-based diet (shunning all animal products) gets cancer.”   Wow, that’s an amazing thing for a medical doctor to say!  See, The China Study, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(book)

So, I agreed to give it 3 months of as close to meatless and dairyless as I can get.  She says I will feel so amazing I won’t care that much.  Hmmm… we’ll see, but no degenerative diseases might be worth it anyway.  I asked her, “What do you eat that’s fun, though?”  I do not believe in eating for entertainment, where bagsful of potato chips get inhaled, etc. but a homemade chocolate chip cookie to top off a dinner?  She said, “I like energy bites.”  And then she ran to her office and produced them for me to try!  This is like no other doctor I have ever encountered!  Drug samples, yes!  Healthy food samples, never!

So, being me, I came right home and tried to make a version.  They are really, really good.  I must say and I’m looking forward to tinkering with this whole idea to make lots of variations so that boredom stays away.  Here is my first attempt:

INGREDIENTS:

Carob powder (I happen to love carob, but many people don’t.  I don’t see any problem with cocoa powder instead or in addition)

Local, raw honey (yep, not completely vegan because this whole experiment is not about animal rights for me, but health, maple syrup is another sweetener I am going to try and that would be very vegan, you get the idea, this is very loose!)

Nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)

Raw, unsweetened grated coconut (again, leave out if you are not a fan)

Cinnamon and vanilla (1 teaspoon each)

Coconut oil

Dried sour cherries (or blueberries, or raisins, whatever you like)

Hot water

DIRECTIONS:

Put some of everything except the hot water and the cherries in the food processor, spin it around to puree and mix and see how it looks. Dry? Add a little hot water. Too wet?  Maybe some oats or more nuts or flax meal, you get the idea.  Then right before you’re done throw the cherries in and give it a quick whirl just to mix them in, not to chop them up.

Spread the whole thing into a little 8×8 or 9×9 brownie pan (stainless steel or glass NOT aluminum).  I put mine in the freezer to firm up and I dusted it with coconut flour just for looks.   I just got off my bicycle and the two in that photo above are gone.  Yum and healthy.  Pretty cool.

By the way, last night I toasted some coconut chips in a dry cast iron pan for a few minutes and they are also really good and good for you!

Food - Coconut Chips

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