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.

Spicy Ginger Cookies for Quarantine

I’m on a kick these days, trying out traditional recipes that represent our mixed heritage in Canada. I’ve just published a recipe for Norwegian glögg, a warm, spicy wine concoction served often at Christmas. Glögg tastes great with spicy ginger cookies, so I’m posting a recipe for these now, which came to me from a friend who was experimenting with cookie recipes during COVID isolation.

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Spiced ginger and green tomato coffee cake

A tasty coffee cake that needs no extra sweetness can be had by making up this moist snacking cake. A wonderful treat if you have some green tomatoes on hand, a strong possibility if you were growing tomatoes at home this year, like Vinny was. It calls for 200 grams of green tomatoes, which is about two medium-sized ones.

Ginger is the healthiest spice in your pantry. It is one food that earns its reputation as a “super food” whole-heartedly, as has been proven by science. This recipe uses lots of ginger.

A Bundt cake studded with green tomato pieces and candied ginger, then spiced with masala tadka powder, is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, or even with a glass of milk.

Spiced green tomato and candied ginger coffee cake
Makes 12 modest slices

  • 1 cup green tomatoes, chopped (200 grams, about 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) candied ginger, chopped finely
  • 60 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 60 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) coconut palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 grams (1 1/2 cups) whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon masala chai powder or tadka masala spice*
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
  2. Prepare a small Bundt pan (6 cups or 7.5 x 3 inches) by lightly coating the sides, bottom and center spindle with canola oil or other flavorless oil. Sprinkled some flour liberally around the sides and turn upside down over the sink to tap off any excess. Make sure the spindle is coated with flour too.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Keep your fingers away from the beaters while they are beating, or else you might catch your fingers in the blades and faint! Vinny knows this from personal experience. No bones were broken, though…
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
  5. In a smaller bowl mix the chopped tomatoes and chopped ginger together well. Add the 1/2 cup (50 grams) of the flour and toss with a wooden spoon, till the flour has coated the veggie pieces.
  6. Sift 1 cup (100 grams) of the flour together with the baking soda, baking powder, and masala powder in another smaller bowl. Add this to the butter mixture in the large bowl in three parts and beat on medium speed after each addition till well mixed.
  7. Add the green tomato mixture to the batter in the large bowl and fold in till well mixed using a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick.
  8. Scrape this mixture into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top.
  9. Turn the oven setting to Bake and cook the cake for 45 to 50 minutes till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then unmold the cake onto a rack to cool.

To Serve

No need to use a sugar glaze. Leave it plain and enjoy the moist delicious flavor of this spicy cake.

Note

If you don’t have a prepared masala spice mix on hand, add these to the flour mixture: ½ teaspoon cardemom and 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and coriander. If you like a highly spiced cake, you can double these quantities.

Nutrition

A serving size of one-twelfth of the cake has 150 calories and 10 grams of sugar. It provides 11% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A and 5% of each of protein, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is said to help prevent nausea, improve osteoarthritis, and promote weight loss, among other things.

Spices add way more than flavor to foods. I like to add them liberally every time I cook.

Halloween cooked-carrot and tomato salad

Halloween doesn’t have to be all about candy. Having gained a very bad 15 pounds between March and August in this year of the coronovirus, and now being well on the way to shedding it all again, I wanted to celebrate a sugar-free evening with the ghosts and goblins.

The powers that be have decreed that it’s not safe for children to go door to door this year… and rightly so, with numbers of covid-19 cases soaring in a second scary wave. So we have not bought the usual crazy amount of mini chocolate bars this year.

Instead of candy, I nominate the color orange to be our celebration vehicle for Halloween in our house.

Pumpkins are a bit cliche… so I chose to make a delicious dinner-time dish from the gorgeous, sweet, orange carrots available in the market these days.

The recipe is modified from one I published earlier for a big crowd. The recipe here provides eight servings as a veggie side dish for dinner. It has enough tangy sweetness to make you forget that there is no candy for you to gorge on, after all the little ones stop knocking on your door on October 31st. Happy Halloween!

Halloween cooked-carrot and tomato salad
Makes eight 4-ounce servings

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 0.5 – 1 inch fresh ginger, skin scraped and finely chopped (I like lots)
  • 5 ounces tomato sauce (I used roasted red pepper pasta sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 8-16 ounces tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large green onion, sliced, or a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish (optional)
  1. Slice carrots into coins, then cook in slightly salted boiling water until tender yet crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, then submerge in cold water to cool.
  2. Combine tomato sauce, oil, vinegar, ginger, and curry powder in a small sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes to the carrots and the cooled tomato dressing (sweetened if you wish with 1 tablespoon of my homemade liquid stevia or 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar). Mix well.
  4. Chill until serving time. Garnish with the chopped green onion or the chopped basil leaves. Stays fresh for 3 days in the fridge.

Nutrition summary

Total calories per 4-ounce serving is 234. If you go easy on the dressing that pools in the bottom of the bowl, the calories are reduced somewhat.

Carrots are a sweet veggie, containing a significant amount of sugar. So there is no need for additional sugar. But I did use a little stevia sweetener, to take the edge off the vinegar. You might not need any sweetener at all.

One serving contains 6 times the vitamin A and 33% of the fiber, vitamin C, and potassium you need every day. This salad is also a good source of iron, calcium, and even protein, providing about 10% of the recommended daily amounts.

If you are diabetic, know that one serving provides 11 grams of sugar, twice the suggested amount per dish.

This is a delicious tangy side dish that can serve as your starch portion, as well as your veggie, in one single serving. Trick or treat? I hope you find this recipe more on the treat side of the equation. Boo!

Rhubarb and Ginger Fool for April 1st

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What is an April Fool?

The only surprise I was treated to on April Fool’s Day was Alex Trebek, walking onto his game show set without his pants! I did, however, write this post for you on April 1st, which should entitle me to name my fruit pudding recipe April Fool. It’s a tasty British fruit “Fool,” in the traditional sense.

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Treat Christmas headaches with ginger tea

Mrs. Claus serves a soothing cup 'a tea

Mrs. Claus serves a soothing cup of tea.

Santa felt poorly. He was dead tired after his epic night’s ride around the world. Too many chimneys to climb. Too many sherries to gulp down. He sneezed into his cottony white hanky and sighed.

Mrs. Claus settled him by the fire and helped him get his dusty leather boots off his aching feet. By and by, she brought him a steaming-hot pot of tea and a warm cup. “Something to bring you around,” she said with a smile and gave him a gentle hug.

But as you can imagine it wasn’t a pot of English breakfast tea. Oh no. It had honey and lemon and ginger, oh my! More

Angels we have heard on high

Tea biscuit angels

Tell us to go out and buy!

So says Tom Lehrer, mathematician, teacher, lyricist, pianist, composer, singer/songwriter and all round great guy. He wasn’t much impressed with the consumerism that Christmas often embodies. His little holiday ditty from the 1960s is just as relevant today as it was when he penned it:

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly.
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say when.

This year we’re trying to fill our cups and plates, not with folly, but with great-tasting foods that feed our bodies and minds with goodness. Our host of angels are made from More

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