Be Kind in 2011

Black-Eyed Peas, Collards, and Cornbread New Year's Day and Paella with friends on January 2nd!

I started the new year off with some delicious food and a new book- The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. Yes, THAT Alicia Silverstone. And it turns out that she is a great writer and quite inspiring from a healthy, food- loving point of view. Who knew? Her book has inspired me to take a bigger leap in trying to live a healthier life. The word kind keeps popping up these last few weeks, as well, either in my head or from friends. I’ve witnessed situations in these first few weeks of the new year- from world events in the political realm to situations at work and even in my own neighborhood where I’ve caught myself thinking, “can’t we just be kind to one another?” My friend Mel wrote a beautiful new post on her blog about “living your life with kindness”. This little four letter word is everywhere suddenly.

Great books to start a healthy new year with- The Kind Diet & Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking.

I have the belief that we really are what we eat and believe that food can truly heal (or harm) us. It is our individual choice. I also believe in supplements but would much prefer to have them derived from whole, organic foods than come from a test tube in a science lab. Food- real, whole foods in their organic state are nourishing to our bodies and can benefit us in so many ways. I like to buy food from good sources and when I buy good, wholesome food that was grown with love, I feel like my body can tell. I absolutely believe this yet, like all levels of learning, I am not perfect in my practice of this belief. I adore food and gain so much happiness from it that I cannot only eat what is truly good for my body all the time and I think the happiness is also good for my body so I try to live with a balance of this- not too much indulgence on foods that aren’t good for me but not so pure and strict that the fun has been depleted for me. And sometimes these choices aren’t available at all times. It has been and remains still, a process of changing the way I think about things, giving and taking, finding balance, and making the right choices.

SO, with this, I offer up three new soup recipes that I came up with that are kind to our bodies!

Did you know broccoli contains almost as much calcium as whole milk? The main difference is the Broccoli Commission (if there is one) never hired an ad agency to come up with a big campaign to tell you so! Broccoli has been shown to protect against breast and colon cancer. It also helps stimulate the liver. Spinach is detoxifying, soothes intestinal inflammation, supports a healthy colon, helps build healthy blood, and has a high level of vitamin A which is valuable for the eyes. Cilantro is a digestive aid, a natural diuretic, helps purify the blood, and strengthen the heart.

So many broccoli soup recipes are loaded with cream and butter or cheese. Those are tasty but I wanted to come up with a healthier version. With the use of toasted nuts and lemon, I think this one ended up being a good alternate.

Be Kind to Your Body Soup
Serves 4-6

2 heads broccoli
1 cup of nuts (I used NW hazelnuts and SC pecans), toasted
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
handful of fresh spinach leaves
bunch of fresh cilantro
3-4 cups stock
1 tbsp unsalted butter
one yellow onion
4-5 cloves garlic
juice & zest of half a lemon
sea salt (I used some homemade rosemary salt)
fresh ground black pepper
red pepper flakes

Trim and cut broccoli into small pieces (trees and trunks!). Set aside one cup of tiny florets and place the remaining broccoli in a steamer. Steam for just a few minutes, keeping the broccoli a bright green color. Remove from heat and set aside. Toast nuts and then blend them in a blender with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add some stock in and blend until a thick paste forms. Add in spinach and cilantro and more stock. Blend. Add steamed broccoli and more stock and blend together until smooth.

Saute the onion in 1 tbsp olive oil and butter in a soup pan over medium high heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a couple minutes. Next, add reserved broccoli florets, lemon juice and zest, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir. Add in the blended mixture and remaining stock. Stir and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

Next up is this beauty of a soup- a roasted carrot, sweet potato, and butternut squash puree. (Notice I gave it a much more appealing name!) I mulled these ingredients over in my head for an entire week, I’ll have you know, and it all started with a cup of coconut milk left over from a previous recipe.

We all know from Saturday morning cartoons as a child, that carrots are good for our eyes. Carrots deliver abundant supplies of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to the cells in our bodies. Carrots are one of the best foods for the liver and digestive tract, they help the kidneys function properly, help prevent and treat cancer, balance the endocrine and adrenal systems, depress cholesterol, and increase elimination from the colon. That’s a whole lot of kindness going on. Winter squash is an excellent remedy for acidosis of the liver and the blood and are loaded with vitamin A and potassium and helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Wait- there’s more… the sweet potato is so fricking nutritious that we could actually live on them. Not only do they have huge antioxidant properties, they also are easily digestible and are good for treating ulcers, inflamed colons, and poor blood circulation. They are also detoxifying. Go orange vegetables!

Sexy Weekend Winter Soup
Serves 4-6

5 carrots
1 small butternut squash
3 sweet potatoes
6-8 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cups stock (I used homemade chicken, veggie would also work)
1” piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp (or more, if desired) sea salt (I used homemade orange fennel salt)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp cumin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 Tbsp olive oil in large baking dish. Wash, peel, and slice carrots and sweet potatoes and place in dish. Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place both halves flesh side down in baking dish with carrots and sweet potatoes. Roast veggies for 40-45 minutes. About 20 minutes in, pull dish out and place peeled garlic cloves under the squash, in the hollow part, and place dish back in the oven.

Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add spices and stir. Add roasted veggies in. Stir together. Remove from stove. In a blender, add the mixture and the stock stock, adding one cup at a time until you have enough liquid to successfully puree the veggies. Add pureed veggies back to the pan and place back on the stove on medium heat. Add remaining stock and stir to thoroughly combine flavors and then reduce to simmer. Add coconut milk in. Stir and simmer a few minutes.

In a separate small pan on the stove, heat 1 Tbsp cumin seeds until very lightly toasted. Add 2 Tbsp unsalted butter.  Watch carefully so seeds do not burn. Add a dash of salt.

Ladle the soup into a bowl and drizzle a tiny bit of the cumin butter over soup. (A healthier option would be to, instead, place a small dollop of Greek style yogurt on top!)

A big pot of beans can nourish, comfort and warm you on a cold winter day but that’s not all… Beans help reduce blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure , and regulate colon functions. Celery is amazingly good for you. Since early Greek times, celery has been valued as a cure for the hangover! Modern day studies show that it significantly reduces blood pressure by relaxing muscle tissue in artery walls and thus enhancing blood flow. Celery consumption has also been shown to help prevent cancer and is great for your joints, ligaments, and bones! Rosemary has a wide spectrum of talents such as… it helps alleviate nervous conditions, headaches, and respiratory troubles. It can improve the function of the liver and gal bladder as well as strengthens the muscles of the stomach and improves circulation. Throw all these ingredients together and your body will feel very loved with all that kindness.  This is a very simple, mild soup. The tomato drizzle gives this soup an extra yummy kick!

Italian White Bean Soup

1 lb dried Cannellini beans
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6-8 cups stock
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped and chopped
1 tsp (or more to taste) sea salt (I used my homemade rosemary salt)
freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Drizzle

10 roasted & pureed grape tomatoes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sprinkle of salt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 good quality anchovy fillets (optional)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
sea salt & pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight in water. Drain and rinse. Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add celery and stir. Add garlic and stir. Add beans, stock, bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Add salt, pepper, and rosemary. Remove bay leaves. Puree in blender.

While soup is simmering, roast tomatoes. Add all the ingredients for the tomato drizzle together and make into a dressing. Drizzle over the soup once you have ladled it into bowls.

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5 thoughts on “Be Kind in 2011

  1. Perfect timing!! I am gearing up for a few weeks of doing a unrefined clean diet – not quite a detox or a fast, but just good clean yumminess! And soups like these will be perfect! Yay!

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