Category Archives: soup

Artichoke Soup with Polenta Croutons

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I have decided to let go of my goal to exercise in the early morning before the kids wake up.    I am tired of being disappointed in myself before I have even stepped out of bed.   Who am I kidding?     It’s hard enough for me to get up at 5:30 or 6am with a good night sleep so it’s highly unlikely when I have been up with my daughter half the night.

About a month ago, we stopped letting Cecilia crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night and instead I bring her back into her room, half asleep, bumping into furniture and mumbling things I shouldn’t be.    She used to climb into our bed and we would hardly realize she was there but then she developed a kicking, whining 3 year old habit that just wasn’t working for us.   So the rules changed.  Now it feels like we have a newborn and sleepless nights make mommy very unproductive and forgetful and not as sweet as I want to be.    I think my kids slept better as babies than they do now.   Last night (for maybe the first time) I was in bed last night at 7:55pm and asleep by about 8:05 which meant that I got a solid 4 hours of sleep before my daughter woke me up for the first of 3 times starting at midnight.   And that is why I am able to write today 🙂

Cecilia says things like, “Mommy, I’m little.  I’m not a big girl.  I can’t sleep in my room all night,” and  typical things like “I scared” and  “Just lay with me a little bit and sing one song.”   But her excuses are becoming more creative.   She has decals of little pigs and birds in her room and her latest reason for not being able to sleep in her room is that the animals on her wall are talking too much.   I moved one of the pig decals away from the head of  her bed so the pig wouldn’t be so loud.   She’s a funny one!

I think (desperately hope) things are going to start to look up.   Mostly thanks to a clock.  The clock and my constant talks with her throughout the day about sleeping, plus a little bribing and a sleep chart with fun stickers and a trip to the toy store if she sleeps in her room for 7 nights in a row.   Oh my goodness.  I told Cecilia that a  nightlight clock was coming in the mail for her and it would help her sleep.   I thought the clock would arrive the next day but it took a whole week.   So everyday she would ask if her clock was here and said “Mommy, when the clock gets here I can sleep in my room alllllll night.”  But that meant that since the clock wasn’t here yet, she wouldn’t be sleeping in her room all night.  It was a long week anticipating that clock.   And now we have had the clock for about a week and I have thankfully seen some improvements.   But it’s baby steps.     She earned a couple stickers on that chart but let me tell you, she did not like it when I put an X on the chart.   Although I like how early my kids are going to bed now with daylight savings, my five year old, Max now wakes up at about 5:30 every morning.   Oh boy.   The 8pm bedtime for Mom might become regular.

It’s been a while since I have written and now you probably know why.  Here is an Artichoke Soup that I hope you enjoy!

And if you have any tips for me regarding kids sleep I am all ears!

It’s pretty easy and quick to make.

Artichoke Soup with Polenta Croutons- 4-6 servings

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

2 TBSP Coconut Oil

2 Celery Stalks – chopped

1 medium onion – chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

3 Cups Vegetable Broth

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

12 oz. package of frozen artichoke hearts (or use canned artichoke in water)

1 Cup Kale or Spinach -chopped

2-3 garlic cloves -minced (only if you like garlic!)

For the Soup- Heat Coconut Oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the celery, onions, salt and pepper and cook for about 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add the Broth, Coconut Milk, and Artichokes and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.   Pour the soup into a blender one cup at a time and puree.  Add the chopped kale or spinach last and pulse a few times.   Return Soup to the saucepan and add addition broth if it’s too thick.   In a small saucepan with a 1/4 tsp of Coconut oil, saute the garlic for several minutes.  Add to the pureed soup.   Serve with Polenta Croutons.

Polenta Croutons

1 Cup Polenta

3 Cups Water

1 tsp Salt

Prepare polenta according to package- 1 cups of Polenta in 3 cups of boiling water (or broth), stirring continuously until cooked.

Spread prepared polenta onto a greased baking sheet so it’s about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.   Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, until it is golden and crispy.  Cut with a pizza cutter and put a few pieces in each bowl.

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Celery Root Soup

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I felt a little fancy when I made this but we all deserve to eat food that looks beautiful and was made fresh.  We had some friends coming for dinner and it’s great to be able to serve something that is fairly easy to make, but looks like it’s something you would order in a restaurant.

I am trying to be conscious of how many things I put in my mouth that come out of a bag, box or can and to really limit it.  Eating real food can really change the way you feel.   So I encourage everyone to just be a little more conscious of where their food comes from and try to eat foods that only have one ingredient (ie. broccoli, lettuce, eggs, walnuts, chicken, quinoa) and not foods with an ingredient list so long it takes up the whole side of the box and is filled with names no one can pronounce.  As Michael Pollen suggests, “avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.”

Let’s get back to our roots and start eating real.   And with that, I have a recipe for Celery Root Soup.   It is from a cookbook called The Conscious Cook by chef Tal Ronnen and the recipes in his book  make eating vegan taste decadent.   Now,  don’t shy away because I said vegan.  Tasting it, you wouldn’t believe it’s vegan because of a little secret weapon a lot of vegans use in their food.

Read the rest of this entry

Green Lentil Soup with Curry and Cauliflower

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This week has been a little strange for me as I have recently given up Gluten. Six months after my first child was born I found out I was  hypothyroid.  It was such a relief  to have an answer to why I had been feeling so awful for the last half of a year. I thought I was going crazy, couldn’t focus, was tired to my bones, not to mention I was a total B*#&@ from time to time, and I couldn’t lose my pregnancy weight no matter how much I exercised while Max was napping.   That last one was very depressing for me.   And a clump of my hair was turning white. Yup, white. (I was 32). I chalked everything up to “new mom” and was probably too tired to talk to the doctor about it.  After getting test results back from a community health fair blood test, I learned that my TSH was off the charts. The first thing I did was google TSH.     I learned that it meant Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, and then I googled everything about Thyroid.   And the I smiled. YAY!!   There is a reason I am going INSANE!! Normal TSH is between about 1-4 and mine was 56.

I called my doctor right away and she didn’t think the test could be right and had me take another blood test.   My TSH came back at a 92. She wasn’t sure how I was functioning.  Me neither! I was told I was hypothyroid ( which is a condition) and then later told, after asking my doctor more questions, that it was Hashimoto’s Thyroidosis, which is a disease.  I was given a little pill to take every day and I couldn’t have been more happy to take it. But, after some time when I returned to my  normal self, the idea of having to take a little pill everyday for the rest of my life didn’t sit well with me. I mean, what if I was traveling for months and couldn’t get my prescription filled, or what if I was snowed in for a month and couldn’t get to the pharmacy?!?…what would happen to my thyroid?   I also learned that the longer I take synthroid or armour thyroid, the more lazy my thyroid becomes. Wasn’t there anything else I could do about it?

It turns out there is. Gluten is the enemy. My immune system attacks my thyroid every time I eat Gluten. For any of you who don’t know, Gluten is the protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and malts and it is what makes dough elastic. I don’t know if I have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease ( I have an appointment with a naturopath next week to get tested), but I do have this auto-immune disease called Hashimotos Thyroiditis, which is fairly common.

Chris Kresser ( http://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection) explains the Gluten and Auto-Immune Thyroid Disease (AITD) connection well. He writes, “What explains the connection? It’s a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.”

Upon learning that my immune system was attacking my thyroid every time I ate a slice of pizza, a cookie or dipped my sushi into soy sauce (yes, there is gluten in regular soy sauce but thank goodness, there is Tamari which is a GF Soy Sauce), I decided to give up gluten and see how I feel. Our bodies need time to heal though. Just as our bodies don’t get disease in one day, we don’t heal in one day either. The good news for me is that I hear many people at least start feeling better right away. Giving up white flour (and white sugar) is something I should have done a long time ago as they are probably the worst things for our bodies. They both turn into sugar when digested and have very little to no nutritional value. Studies show that sugar, which causes inflammation, leads to high Cholesterol more so than eating eggs or meat.

I already had Tamari in my fridge and have been making my kids gluten free pancakes for years and bake with almond, brown rice and quinoa flour. This isn’t a sudden about face for me but gluten sneaks up in unlikely places so it will be a challenge.

For the time being, you can expect mostly Gluten Free Recipes. They will still be very tasty though….promise!   I have an awesome GF homemade soft pretzel recipe to share with you (it’s a big hit with kids and a great football watching snack), as well as a GF orange gingerbread biscotti.   And if you don’t have any issues with gluten, it is very easy to turn a gluten free recipe into a gluten recipe.   If you do have problems with gluten, hopefully this will be helpful and I will share with you what I learn along the way.   One thing I know is that it’s not healthy to go from a processes pretzel to  a GF processed pretzel.    Many processed GF  snacks on the market are made with white rice or other highly processed flours without the enriched nutrients that enriched wheat snacks contain.  It’s really a lose-lose.

And now for the recipe!   It is winter after all and the best time for a warm bowl of soup.   I have been making lots of lentil soups this winter and this one is a favorite.    I used Coconut Oil as the fat.   If you aren’t cooking with Coconut Oil, I recommend you go to the store right now and get some.   It has a naturally occuring saturated fat which is very different from saturated fats created by hydrogenation processes.   It contains Lauric Acid with is shown to reduce the bad cholesterol and Coconut Oil boots immunity.   It is also stable enough to withstand the high heat.  There are many health benefits and here is an article if you are interested. ..http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html

Ingredients

6 cups of homemade vegetable broth

2 cups of green lentils, washed well

1/2 head of cauliflower (about 2 1/2 cups) broken into small pieces

1 onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves

2-3 Tbs Coconut Oil

1/2 tsp Paprika

2 tsp Curry

dash of Cayenne

2 tsp celtic sea salt

Rinse the lentils in a sieve strainer until the water runs clear.   Add the Vegetable Broth, Garlic Cloves and Lentils to a large pot and cover.   Cook on Medium heat.   In a medium pan,  saute the chopped onion in 1 Tbs Coconut Oil for about 4-5 minutes.  Add the Carrots and cook another couple minutes.    Then add the onions and carrots  to the pot.     Using the same saute pan, add another Tbs to the pan and saute the chopped Cauliflower.   Add the Paprika and Curry and stir until well mixed.   Cook for about 5 minutes.    Add the Cauliflower to the soup and a dash of Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste) and 2 Tsp of Salt.    Cook for about 20-30 minutes, adding more broth or water if needed until it’s at the desired consistency.