It’s Beet Season Again

Jannine Myers

It’s beet season again and I’m making the most of it; I was busy yesterday cooking with beets and one of the recipes I made was a delicious soup that I learned the recipe for just recently at a cooking class.

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Sanae-Sensei showing us how to make her delicious beet soup

Incidentally, I received a rather timely email this afternoon with the link to a post about the benefits of eating beets; the following information was included in the post:

Why Eat Beets? 6 Top Reasons

1. Lower Your Blood Pressure

Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.
The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

2. Boost Your Stamina

If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.

3. Fight Inflammation

Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.

As reported by the World’s Healthiest Foods:
“[Betaine’s]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.”

4. Anti-Cancer Properties

The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.7

5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber

Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

6. Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

So, with all of those great reasons to eat beets, give this soup a try; it’s fast, easy, and really delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 beet, peeled and diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 corn husk (corn removed)
  • 1 tbsp sake (or white cooking wine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 600ml to 800ml water

Directions

  1. Dice the beet, onion, and tomato
  2. Put oil and garlic in pan and simmer at low heat for a few minutes
  3. Add the beet, onion, and tomato to the pan, and add the salt and sake
  4. Slowly pour water into the pan, and bring to boil at medium heat
  5. Add the corn husk, and continue to cook at medium heat (uncovered), for approximately 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
  6. In a couple of batches, puree the soup in a blender
  7. Serve hot, and garnish with herbs of choice

 

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Jannine Myers

It’s getting so cold now that my food cravings are for hot and savory meals. Last night I pulled out my crockpot and threw together a very simple but flavorful spicy red lentil soup. I let the ingredients cook slowly overnight, and I enjoyed a delicious hot soup for lunch today. This recipe contains quite a few ingredients but it really is fast and easy to prepare.

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What you’ll need:

1/2 cup dried red lentils

4 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth

400g diced tomatoes with green peppers, celery, and onion

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small onion, sliced

2 small carrots, sliced

1 medium orange sweet potato, chopped

1/4 cup Thai Yellow Curry paste (add red pepper flakes, or use a spicier curry paste if you desire more spice)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)

1/2 cup cilantro – loosely chopped

Directions:

Rinse and clean lentils. Combine all ingredients except yogurt and cilantro in a 4-5 liter crock pot and cook, covered, on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Season to taste and garnish with yogurt and cilantro.

Re-Energize With A Healthy Chicken And Vegetable Soup

Jannine Myers

Starting to feel run down with all of the pre-Christmas chaos? The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy for me and I’m starting to feel the effects of a far-too-busy schedule. To try and boost my immune system and stay healthy until the madness ends, I’ve been eating as healthy as possible. One of my favourite winter go-to’s when I’m craving hot food with lots of vegetables, is soup! Here’s a recipe that I have been enjoying this week and thought I’d share with you; it’s a classic chicken and vegetable soup with a bit of heat (from added curry powder and red pepper flakes):

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Olive oil, about a tbsp
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Fresh spinach and parsley – as much as you want
  • 1 green apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Sea salt – a dash
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the chicken in olive oil for 4-5 minutes (or until no longer pink), then remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan, saute the onion and carrot for a few minutes, then add the apple and cook for a couple more minutes. Combine the flour and salt and sprinkle over the vegetables; cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in the curry, ginger and pepper flakes. Return the chicken to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, then just before taking off the heat, add the spinach and parsley and heat through for a couple more minutes. 

[I modified this soup from a recipe I found in an old Taste Of Home magazine]

Fight Your Cold With A Spicy Curry

Jannine Myers

Battling a cold? Try eating curry!

Whenever sickness invades my home, I usually try to combat the symptoms by making meals that include foods known for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. While I would normally go straight for the lemons and honey, and chicken and vegetable soup, I decided this time to go for a spicy curry. The spices in most curries typically promote the production of mucus, which is just what the body needs since mucus traps unwanted bacteria and prevents it from entering the bloodstream.

To make sure my curry was spicy enough, I opted for a Thai red curry with crushed red pepper flakes. It worked; I had to eat with a pile of tissues by my side!

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Here’s what I added to my curry:

  • Coconut oil (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes (as little or as much as you like)
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 can lowfat coconut milk
  • 1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • dried mint for garnish

Directions:

  1. Saute onions, garlic, and red pepper in coconut oil, for several minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add crushed pepper flakes, sweet potato, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Let it boil at low heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. When the sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for a further 15 minutes or so.
  3. Add some dried mint for extra seasoning (and a little lime juice if desired).

Make sure it’s piping hot when you eat it – it will help to soothe your throat as well as get the mucus flowing :) An extra bonus is that this is a fast and easy meal to make, and it’s really delicious!

When It Rains, Make Soup!

Jannine Myers

A few weeks ago I enjoyed spending a wet and rainy afternoon making a healthy cleansing vegetable soup, and yesterday, during another heavy rainstorm, I did the same. Last night’s soup (recipe borrowed from health and nutrition coach Ross Bridgeford), is one that is intended to nourish, repair, and replenish the gut. Here’s what Ross says about each of the ingredients:

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  • Lentils: contain heaps of folate, fiber, manganese, iron, protein, vitamin b1, b6, zinc and potassium. Lentils promote good heart health, stabilize blood sugar and most importantly, contain gut healing properties. The insoluble fiber in lentils helps prevent IBS, discomfort and diverticulosis.
  • Sweet potato: Vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B3 and B6 rich, sweet potato is also an incredible source of manganese, fiber and potassium. Sweet potato is an antioxidant rich food that also serves as an anti-inflammatory, which is critical for gut health. Nothing damages the gut more than inflammation.
  • Spinach: Spinach is a super-superfood. Chlorophyll rich, it is one of the most impressive of the ‘dark leafy greens’ which are ALL incredible. In terms of gut health, spinach is also a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and contains huge amounts of vitamin K, A B2, B6, B1, vitamin C and omega 3.
  • Carrot: packed with vitamin A and C, carrots are mega-antioxidants – particularly their high carotenoid content. Brilliant for gut health due to their high content of Vitamin A, C, E and fiber.
  • Bell Pepper: also high in Vitamins A, C and E, bell pepper is a strong antioxidant which can support gut health, with bountiful amounts of carotenoids and flavonoids.
  • Avocado: full of healthy omega 3s (specifically ALA), avocado is also a strong anti-inflammatory, containing high levels of phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, and vitamins A, C and E.
  • Dill: supports proper digestion by stimulating bile and digestive juices found in the stomach, while also a powerful anti-oxidant. Studies have shown that dill activates the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase which increases your antioxidant potential and reduces free radicals in the body.
  • Cashews: equally high in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Cashews are a powerfully antioxidant rich food that also support heart health, bone strength and are proven to help lower weight.
  • Garlic: a potent anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils (drained and washed)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 handful of cashews (roughly chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 brown onion
  • 200ml vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Additional broth (for the lentils, and a little more if you desire a more liquid soup)

Directions

  1. Prepare the lentils; rinse and drain, then cook. I simmered mine for 35 to 40 mins in approximately 1 cup vegetable broth and 3 1/2 cups water).
  2. Next, roughly chop the onion and garlic and warm gently in a very large saucepan with the coconut oil.
  3. While these are browning and flavouring up, chop the sweet potato and carrots roughly, add to the pan and get it all mixed together and coated in oil. Stir for about 2 minutes.
  4. Now add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are just warmed through but not overcooked.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the still-warm cooked lentils.
  6. Next, transfer to a blender or food processor (do in batches if your blender isn’t big enough to do all of this at once) and add in the avocado, roughly chopped red pepper, spinach and dill. Here is where you may want to add more broth if the consistency is too dense for your liking.
  7. Blend until smooth and serve with a few sprigs of dill and chopped cashews.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon Detox

Jannine Myers

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I find myself craving a big bowl of liver- cleansing vegetables! Okay, so maybe a few of you are still reading……..but if you can relate you’ll probably appreciate this post.

The months of May and June in Okinawa kind of feel like the busy Thanksgiving/Christmas season; there are always lots of end-of-school-year events, as well as PCS farewell events, all of which seem to involve copious amounts of eating! Now as we’re heading into July, I am starting to feel the negative effects of endless lunch and dinner dates. Since I was home yesterday with no plans, and feeling kind of lazy, I decided to give my body a little bit of TLC by making a huge pot of healthy and nourishing vegetable soup.

When I make a vegetable soup for cleansing purposes, I don’t really follow a specific recipe; I typically just choose a selection of in-season vegetables and try to add ingredients that cleanse and support the liver. Some of the best ingredients you can add to a “detox” soup include the following:

  • Broccoli – contains valuable phytochemicals, that once released into the body, help to flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
  • Leafy green vegetables  – are high in plant chlorophylls and help to eliminate environmental toxins from the blood stream.
  • Turmeric – is a great detox spice because it assists enzymes that specifically work to flush out dietary carcinogens.
  • Ginger – is beneficial in so many ways; it nourishes the liver, promotes circulation, helps to unclog blocked arteries, and even helps to lower blood cholesterol by as much as 30 percent.
  • Garlic – activates liver enzymes that help flush out toxins.
  • Carrots – are high in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene, both of which help to stimulate and improve liver function.

There are so many other vegetables, herbs, and spices that help to cleanse and support the liver, and vegetable soups are perfect for detoxing because you can include a wide variety of “detox” ingredients in one meal.

Take a break from eating out and spend an afternoon at home making a delicious cleansing soup – your body will thank you for it.

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What To Do With An Abundance Of Tomatoes

Jannine Myers

It’s not really the season for hot soups, but there’s a reason I decided to make a fresh tomato and basil soup last week. My oldest daughter went to the local farmers market and came home with a large bag of fresh produce, including a bag of 10 to 12 tomatoes.

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Since I already had basil, garlic, and onion in the refrigerator, it made sense to make a fresh tomato soup. The nice thing about soups is that besides the vegetable preparation, the rest is relatively quick and easy. As long as you have a few staple ingredients in your kitchen, you can get creative and make soups using the spices and flavors you like; I decided to use cumin and coriander in this tomato soup and rather than use full cream as most cream of tomato soups do, I substituted with coconut milk instead.

Ingredients

 3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, sliced

10 to 12 fresh tomatoes, halved

1 – 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes, in jucie

2 cups of chicken broth

1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup coconut milk

handful of fresh basil leaves

 

Directions

In a saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, spices, and also the canned tomatoes. Add the fresh tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes minutes. Finally, add the coconut milk and basil leaves and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

 

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Using a spoon, carefully remove the fresh tomatoes and allow to cool a little. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins and add to the soup once more. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and pulse until it reaches a smooth consistency. Reheat on the stove if necessary.

[I served the soup with a small grilled cheese bun, and raw vegetables and hummus]

 

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