Sunday, September 30, 2018

Soup Weather Adventure

I woke up this morning and I knew it was here.  Soup weather.  Tis the season here in Seattle--gray, misty days that are just cool enough to spark the desire to wear flannel and switch from sneakers to hiking boots.  I love it.  I welcome the gray with flannel-covered open arms.

So here's the thing.  I wasn't really expecting the lovely gray Soup Weather day, so I was caught off guard.  No freshly made bone broth, no celery, no carrots on hand...what was a soup-obsessed girl to do?

I decided to wing it.

Those of you who know me may know that on any given day, I might be trying a new "way of eating".  I do this for two reasons...(One) I'm in the process of healing my gut and my thyroid and (Two) because I'm a health coach and I think it's really important to try out different ways of eating so when clients have questions about a particular way of eating I can answer them based on true life experiences.

Now that being said, I just finished reading two books-- "Eat Right 4 Your Type:  The Individualized Blood Type Diet Solution" by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo and "Happy Healthy Thyroid" by Andrea Beaman.  Both interesting books.  The funny thing is, based on my blood type (O) and my thyroid issues, both books had similar recommendations about how to eat.  So...I'm doing a little combo of the two and we'll see how it goes.

OK, now back to my soup dilemma!  I needed to find blood-type friendly soup ingredients that I could just toss into the Instant Pot and let it do its magic (cuz I'm totally lazy on gray Seattle days).  So...I found the following:

Not bad, right?  Boxed Chicken stock, onions, garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes, kombu, and power greens.  All blood type O powerhouses!  Yay!  Not really sure how it's going to taste, but we'll see!

I roughly chop the onions, garlic and sweet potatoes and then shave off some ginger.  I keep the finely chopped power greens and the kombu separate.

Now comes the Instant Pot.  Hit Saute and throw in a bit of olive oil and let it heat.  Next comes the onions, garlic, sweet potato and ginger.  And a little salt.  Stir it around.  Crap...the ginger is sticking!  I should have anticipated that!  So I throw in a splash of broth and scrape it up.  Note to self:  Next time add ginger after the broth. 

Oh well.  Live and learn.  So now I dump in the broth and re-set the Instant Pot to the Soup setting.  12 mins on high pressure.  Go!

Of course I totally lose track of time (because I'm writing this) so the Instant Pot beeps and it gets to depressurize naturally due to my lack of focus.  I open up the IP.  It looks like this:

Which is fine, but I'm more of a creamy soup girl, so out comes the immersion blender which I stick directly into the Instant Pot and blend like crazy until the contents look like this:

Then I cut the kombu into strips (by the way, this is my first time trying kombu) and add them to the pot.  I press saute and saute for about 4 minutes to soften and release the nutrients. 

Almost time for the big taste test!  I sprinkle a little chopped power greens into a bowl (just a little), pour in a little soup, add a dash of turmeric and give it a stir.  Top with a sprinkle of parsley.  Let it sit for a bit to let the greens soften.  Results?  Pretty great.  Warming and healing.  Though next time, I think I'd leave out the turmeric (and maybe the power much as I love the extra nutrients, I really DO prefer a creamy soup).  Maybe next time I will sub out the turmeric for a little cinnamon or maybe even chili powder.  Mmmm.  I'm dreaming of my next soup day already!

So that's my Soup Weather adventure...have you got a favorite that you just "throw together" on a crisp Fall day?  Share below if you like!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Move Over, Pumpkin! There's a New Squash in Town. (Recipe: Delicata Squash--Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free)

It's Fall.  And anyone who knows me knows Fall is my favorite.  Love the beautiful colors, the crunchy leaves under my feet, the crisp fresh air, and of course, all the delicious foods that Fall has to offer.

My old self (the one who was addicted to sugar) would go crazy in the Fall.  I would obsessively buy and try every Fall treat I could find--pumpkin lattes, pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins with cream cheese topping, pumpkin cookies, ginger cookies, gingerbread lattes, spiced cider, apple cinnamon doughnuts, caramel apple pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin name it.  Needless to say, I always put on a lot of extra "padding" during the month of October.  I also walked around feeling like a zombie--tired, stiff, foggy brain, grouchy mood, etc.  Sugar was not my friend.

Fast forward to today.  I've pretty much kicked the sugar habit. (Woo hoo!)  I don't crave the same type of sweets that I used to.  I DO however, occasionally crave sweetness...not from a cake or a doughnut, but from a squash or a pumpkin--you know, something REAL from NATURE that hasn't been processed and then drowned in milk with 8 pumps of chemically flavored liquid sweetness.  It's been a long journey, but I made it!  ;) 

So, I'm here to tell you about my new favorite fall snack...Delicata Squash.  Well, I ate it today as a snack, but really it's a maybe it's a side dish?  Or a main part of your vegan dish?  

Have you had Delicata Squash? Here are my top 5 reasons why you should try it:

  1. They are can get them at Trader Joe's for only 99 cents each.
  2. They are EASY to prepare--Wash, cut in half, scoop out seeds, maybe cut into slices, season and roast.  No peeling needed!
  3. High in fiber, low in calories.
  4. Good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.
  5. They are filling, sweet, and full of Fall flavor!

So, here is the snack I had today.  Easy breezy and yummy.

Roasted and Spiced Delicata Squash (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

  • Delicata Squash-washed, cut in half, seeds scooped out (You can leave the skin on!)
  • Spices of Choice...I used the following (But really you could just use Salt & Pepper!):
    • Salt
    • Garlic
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger
    • Cardamom
    • Ground Cloves
    • Cumin
    • Cinnamon
    • Chili Powder
  • Olive Oil
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees (I used the "convection roast" setting)
  • Take the prepared squash and cut into 3/4" slices
  • Put your squash slices, some olive oil, and your spices of choice into a plastic bag and seal (or put it all into a bowl with a snap on lid).  Shake, shake, shake, until all the slices are coated with oil and spices.
  • Put your squash on a cookie sheet and roast for 15-25 mins.  I like my squash fairly soft and a little crispy on the edges!
  • Enjoy! 
The one in the front is a Delicata Squash.  The one in the back is Butternut.
(I multi-task...I cooked them both at the same time!  Cook once, eat twice...)

Washed, scooped, and cut in half!

Spiced, oiled and ready to be put in the oven!
25 minutes later--DONE!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Aquafaba! What the heck is it? (Vegan, Egg-Free)

Aquafaba. Sounds like a word a magician would use. What is it? It's the leftover cooking liquid from beans or legumes, most often chickpeas. It's becoming increasingly popular as an egg white substitute.
Why do you need to know this? Well, you don't, really. Unless you're avoiding eggs--Hellooooooo, Vegans! (And people, like me, who are allergic to eggs or who are egg intolerant).
Aquafaba has only recently (since 2014) become known as an egg white substitute. It's often used to make meringue and mayo.
Pic from the Minimalist Baker,

As someone who is egg-free, but finds Vegenaise to be totally not worth it taste-wise, I was really interested to come across this recipe by the Minimalist Baker . I made it sans the brown rice syrup (as I'm avoiding all, I prefer tangy mayo to sweet) and with extra light olive oil (because olive oil is good for you!). It was totally yummy! I mean, like, better than regular mayo! What? Weird, right?
OK, so then, I thought, this has got to be too good to be true. What the heck is in Aquafaba? I mean, in every other recipe, it tells us to drain off that goopy bean liquid, right? So I started searching and came across this article about "6 Reasons to Avoid Aquafaba and Other Bean Liquids"
I read it and found parts of the article to be a little alarmist, but I'm not going to lie, other parts made me nervous. Mostly I don't like the claims that Aquafaba probably has BPA in it (bad for the Endocrine System) and that it also contains the anti-nutrient Saponin (bad for pregnant women and can cause leaky gut). I mean, who wants to mess with the endocrine system or cause their gut to leak???
So then I did a little more research, and like anything, there are two sides to every story.
I came across a site completely dedicated to Aquafaba.(
(Seriously. You can find anything on the internet.)
So, according to this site, "3/4 cup of Aquafaba contains less than three hundreds of a percent of saponins".  That kind of took away my worry about the saponins.  

BPA though...still a worry.  But this goes with anything that comes in a can--beans, tuna, salmon, pumpkin puree, soup, etc.  I don't use a lot of canned stuff (I've weaned myself off over the years), so that is not too high of a risk for me, personally.  If you use canned may want to re-think that and start cooking some of your canned stuff from scratch or finding glass jar alternatives.

So now what?  I REALLY liked that mayo recipe!  Should I still make it?  

Aquafaba is definitely not something nutritious, but it also doesn't seem toxic.  For me, I'm throwing it in the "neutral" category for now and I'll keep my eyes open for more research.  I think more info is needed before I can totally get behind it as something I use FREQUENTLY as an egg substitute.

Right now, mayo is a rarity for me, so I think using Aquafaba once in a blue moon to make Vegan Mayo is okay for me, personally.  

How about you?  Is Aquafaba something you use or avoid and WHY?  

We're all different--one person's food is another person's poison and only you can decide what works for you!  No judgements!

As always, feel free to leave constructive comments below!  I'd love to know your thoughts!