Beautiful beets boost brain power – More tips

Versatile beets, as well as their leaves with stems, make delicious treats at any meal. Experiment with them to find ways to include them often in your meal plan. Your brain will thank you for it. Don’t forget. Eat beets.

As further encouragement for adding beets and beet leaves to your diet, here are three helpful tips for preparing and serving them deliciously and easily. This post follows on my previous two posts about beets’ bounty. Be sure to read them:

More

Carrot ginger soup brightens your day

Being a student of nutrition, I was intrigued by a recent give-away in our Buy Nothing neighborhood Facebook group. A member was offering a book with the intimidating title, “The Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook.” I have discovered over several years of trying to encourage families to forego processed foods in favor of healthy meals that people are hooked on the foods they grew up loving. It takes a LOT to get them to consider changes. I wondered whether this recipe book could make a good stab at getting people to consider a regular infusion of fruits, veggies, and good quality protein and carbs.

The seven keys to making your metabolism function well, according to this doctor, Mark Hyman, are

  • controlling appetite
  • lowering stress
  • reducing inflammation
  • preventing damage from oxygen, AKA keeping your cells from rusting from the inside out
  • burning calories
  • strengthening thyroid fuction
  • helping the liver do its intended job

But people won’t care about any of that if the food doesn’t taste good, if the ingredients are unfamiliar, and, especially these days, if food prep takes too long.

Hyman takes care of food prep hangups by posting tricks to make shopping, preparing and cooking meals easier. Healthier eating does mean forming new habits and, perhaps, making more of an effort in the kitchen than you are used to. You WILL have to make some changes. But the results for you and your family are worth it.

Hyman’s recipes look easy and they contain foods that promise to deliver on the good doctor’s seven keys to a healthy metabolism. In no time you will feel less stress, maintain a healthier weight, and find more energy. Best yet, a more efficient immune system can help you better fight off those nasty viruses that are making life miserable for most of us these days.

To test things out, I chose a tantalizing recipe for carrot ginger soup. It is made with lots of spices, herbs and foods that derive from nuts and seeds. All these things are chock full of healthiness. You can easily make this dish vegetarian and dairy free, if that’s your thing. I can attest to it being super delicious!

Carrot Ginger soup

Makes 4 large bowls for lunch or 8 small cups for appetisers. Can easily be doubled and frozen for another time.

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, scrubbed and minced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I use our home-made bone broth)
  • 1/3 cup cream (or canned unsweetened coconut milk)
  • salt to taste (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili paste (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  1. Prepare the above ingredients, all washed, cleaned, chopped, and measured
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed large pot, over medium heat
  3. Add the onion and ginger and cook for 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent
  4. Add the carrot coins and cook for 2 minutes
  5. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
  6. Add the broth, cream and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and boil gently for 25 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
  7. Using an emersion hand blender, puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy
  8. Add the lime juice and chili paste and adjust the seasonings. You may need more salt and more broth to achieve your desired consistency
  9. Serve the soup in bowls or cups and garnish with the chopped cilantro and green onion. I didn’t have these on hand, so I used fresh dill and basil from my kitchen window.

Garden-fresh tomato soup

With a bumper crop this fall from my tiny COVID garden of five tomato plants, I needed to find some tasty ways to put tomatoes to good use. I love soup, so I decided to make some.

My highest yielding plants were for heritage tomatoes. They were slower to ripen, so I took a whole lot of green tomatoes off them in October. I was surprised to see that by November they had all ripened to a lovely bright yellow, not a red one among them.

The flavor is similar to what I remember tomato soup as tasting, but decidedly different. However, the taste is fresh, tangy, and satisfying. Use whatever fresh tomatoes you have at your disposal. The flavorings in the last step of this recipe can be added in either as little or as much as you might like. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Fresh tomato soup
Makes about 8 cups

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coursely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coursely chopped
  • 6 cups fresh tomatoes, coursely chopped
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Flavorings (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • a few shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon homemade liquid stevia, coconut palm sugar, or white sugar
  1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, saute the garlic with chopped onion until limp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the coursely chopped tomatoes, with skin and seeds, and bring to a sizzle. Allow them to cook until the tomatoes soften.
  3. Add chicken broth and cloves. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion hand-held blender. Strain into a bowl, using a large sieve. Use a spoon to force as much pulp through the strainer as you can. Discard the cloves and fiber left in the strainer.
  4. In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a paste, cooking until the roux is a medium brown, at least 5 minutes.
  5. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato puree, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest.
  6. Season with vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and salt, and adjust to taste. Instead of salt and cayenne, I added a teaspoon of TexMex seasoning, which is basically salt and cayenne… Next time, I’ll try it without the vinegar. I found it a touch on the sour side. See what you think before going ahead with the vinegar. I did love the basil, though. And I enjoyed the nip from the TexMex.
  7. Serve very hot with some cream on the side for people to add if they choose. The nutrition count below is for the soup without any cream.

Nutrition

Studies show that tomatoes and tomato products may reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers. This fruit is also beneficial for skin health, as it may protect against sunburns. These effects are likely due to high concentrations of antioxidants, especially lycopene and beta carotene. But tomatoes also contain several useful vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

A one-cup serving of this soup provides 100 calories; 4 grams protein, 7% RDV (recommended daily value); 4 grams carbohydrates, 1% RDV (just 1 gram sugar); 3 grams fat, 5% RDV; 81 mg sodium, 3% RDV; vitamin A 9% RDV; Ca 7% RDV.

As an aside: No pain, no gain

Just thought I’d point out that it may be easier to open a can of soup. But for pure personal satisfation, nothing beats growing your own food and making your own soup. For me, the only down side is the washing up!

But I’ve learned to enjoy the feel of warm water on my hands and the pleasure of seeing tidy work surfaces. I use the wait times between steps in the cooking process to wash utensils used to that point. There is far less to contend with at the end.

Now, I just have to put all these dishes away, and my kitchen will be spick and span again. Whistle while you work!

Battling Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 2: Choose Mood Foods

Fend off those “senior moments”

Vinny’s grandparents have told him that living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is one of the scarier prospects of growing older. So he has decided to do a series of posts about some lifestyle choices that could make a positive difference to our mental health in later years. He’s all for starting these habits early, for a longer and more active life. Read on for his second installment. Featured recipe: Yogurt bowl.

Part 2: Choose Mood Foods

The foods you choose affect your mood. And what is mood but your brain’s reactions to the world around you. Vinny’s yogurt bowl is a treat filled with probiotics and flavenoids to calm your brain and keep it firing on all cylinders.

More

Baked cheese and eggs dish

Easter egg bake

This delicious egg cassarole is easier than a quiche and twice as tasty. It sometimes goes by the name “Strata”, probably because it is a layered approach to eggy goodness. But as Shakespeare once noted, “a rose by any other name is just as sweet.” More

Smoked-salmon chowder for Robbie Burns Day

Robbie Burns Day!

Robbie Burns Day is an annual tradition in our house. Falling on the Scottish bard’s birthday, January 25th, the day is usually marked by a savory steamed pudding called haggis, which at one time came wrapped inside a sheep’s stomach. Bagpipes, Scotch whiskey, kilts, and an “address to a Haggis” are all part of the celebrations. More

Making butter – a food experiment

 

 

A butter-making model

 

You’d butter believe it!

Where does butter come from? Milk, of course. People discovered butter thousands of years ago. Methods for making butter all involve some kind of whipping or churning to separate the fat from the liquids in milk. We can make butter easily for ourselves at home. Seeing is believing! More

French toast sandwiches

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

March madness!!!

March in Ontario has us all looking forward to spring. And along with that comes a welcome school break – a whole week of free time!

Let’s help Mom and Dad survive March madness by getting creative. We’ll make them lunch!

Start with a loaf of fresh whole-grain bread. Add eggs, low-fat milk and some nice seasonings. Then fill with fruit or low-sugar jams,  and cheese or nut butter. More

%d bloggers like this: