Five Delicious Foods For Winter Health

Winter is finally upon us in the Berkshires. Now is the time to take some preventative measures to insure a healthy winter. There are many ways to incorporate health building foods into a home cooked meal. Here are my top five, must eat foods for winter health and the best part is that combined, they make a delightful, one bowl meal.

muchroom miso broth with greens and ginger

  1. Bone broth + harmony

If you add one thing to your winter routine, start drinking a hot cup of bone broth. Why? Because it’s a collagen building, infection fighting, inflammation reducing wunder food. Just heat up and get cozy with your favorite mug and you are ready to go. We make our own, but you can also pick up bone broth at your local butcher shop. If you’d like to make your own, I recommend “How To Make Bone Broth” on WellnessMama.com, it’s full of resources. For the amount of broth we get, it’s definitely worth the effort!

  1. Mushrooms: we all love a fungi!

What goes great with bone broth and keeping your immune system strong and fortified against the winter chill?  Mushrooms! Maitake and shiitake are two flavorful varieties that are readily available fresh or dried. Maitake, aka “Hen-of-the-Woods”, is my personal favorite. Add them dried to your broth for extra flavor and an immune boost. A plateful of fresh maitake mushrooms sauteed in butter with a little salt and black pepper is sublime. Add a perfectly fried over easy egg and it’s dinner.

  1. Get fermented: foods that are good for your gut

Fermented foods introduce good bacteria and balance existing bacteria in your digestive system. Miso is a fermented superfood and it’s nutty umami depth adds the right amount of salty flavor to simple bone broth. Mix it in after the broth has been heated and plated. I’m a fan of Chickpea Miso by South River Miso. Other great for your gut and immune health fermented foods include yogurt, unsweetened Fire Cider and lacto-fermented veggies — Hosta Hill sauerkraut and kimchi are staples at our house.  

  1. Stay warm

Ginger offers anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. A warming spice, you can add it to soups, cookies, hot teas and broth. Grated fresh ginger in hot water with lemon is a soothing way to fight germs and mend a sore throat.

  1. Get your greens

It’s cold and dark outside so be sure to keep your mind and body bright with daily doses of green veggies. They are full of the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and balanced, so make slow cooked collards or give saag paneer a try. Plate up a quick salad to go with your bowl of broth for a balanced meal of both raw, cooling food and warming, cooked food.

Best of all, you can combine these five super ingredients into one dish in about 15 minutes, with only 5 minutes of active time, for one satisfying meal. For someone who frequently skips lunch, I’ll consider this recipe my new year’s resolution.

Mushroom Miso Broth – 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • a small handful (about ⅓ cup) of dried maitake and/or shiitake mushrooms , chopped small, stems removed.  Keep in mind they will expand 2-3 times during cooking.
  • about 1 teaspoon or so of dried powdered ginger
  • two cups or more bone broth, unsalted or lightly salted is best since the miso will add all the salt you will need!.
  • shredded napa cabbage or kale, about a ½ cup or less should do.
  • Miso to taste – use traditional soy miso or experiment with other flavors.

In a pot combine the dried mushrooms, powdered ginger and bone broth. Add a lid and bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms are fully hydrated.

Turn off the heat and add a small handful or less shredded napa cabbage or kale.

When the greens are bright green, serve in two bowls.

Add your favorite miso to each bowl, I like about a tablespoon, or more.  Serve with a side of kimchi and enjoy in good health!

 

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Chickpea Miso Seafood Soup

This winter has been one of major changes for me.   I presented 4 workshops in January and feel that I am officially over (it’s so last year) my fear of talking in front of groups.  I started a women’s wellness group and we are having so much fun and learning a lot as well!  Now I’m planning for more groups, for men and women, families and teens.  I’m looking forward to my presentation at Miss Halls School Health Fair at the end of February.  I will get to talk about what a health coach does, offer the students scholarships to The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and invite them to join me for my upcoming class series!

I have also done a lot of work on myself this past month.  In preparation for the Inner Quest Intensive at Kripalu I met in Great Barrington with Naturopath (and all around AMAZING lady) Pam Youngquist weekly for 4 weeks.  We did some talk therapy; some energy work and she gave me some thought provoking topics to journal on as well as some new techniques to help me heal on an emotional level from the Candida.  No matter what illness or imbalance you are trying to recover from, be it weight loss or chronic fatigue, you have to look at everything, from food to negative thought patterns, in order to really move forward.

Kripalu Yoga Center and grounds in Lenox MA

And after my weekend long Inner Quest Intensive I feel like I moved forward in my life, at about 90.  The IQI as described to me by others who have been through the program is that it’s like ‘several years of therapy in one weekend.’  There’s a lot to this program but that sums it up nicely.  It was a tough weekend and yes, it was totally worth it.  If you are interested in getting involved with Kripalu and live in the Berkshires, check out The Berkshire Kripalu Community!  You can apply for a membership which allows you to take Kriplau yoga at a discount as well as apply for scholarships to Kripalu programs.  You can also apply directly to Kriplau, a non-profit educational organization, for a scholarship to any one of their programs, which is how I was able to afford the Inner Quest Intensive.  Thank you generous Kriplau sponsors!!

During the IQI program we ate very simple, light foods.  There was usually miso or vegetable broth at each meal.  I was easing back into my normal diet (basically Kripalu food plus spices and garlic and hot sauce!) and so Dana made us miso soup with seafood for dinner.  Perfect.  This is the recipe he used as a guide for his soup.  Dana, of course, didn’t measure anything which means you’ve got a lot of leeway here with the amounts, use what you’ve got, improv the rest!

Someone took a nice picture of their version of Seafood Miso Soup, looks good enough to eat!

Seafood Miso Soup

  • 4 quarter-size pieces fresh ginger
  • 1 strip kombu kelp*, about 1/4 oz.
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced and rinsed well
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-in. matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 pounds black cod or Pacific halibut, cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces
  • 3/4 pound medium sea scallops (15 to 16 per lb.)
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.), peeled, tails left on if you like
  • 1/2 cup shiro (sweet white) miso (we used chickpea miso)
  • 1/2 cup lager (preferably Longboard, optional, Dana left the beer out for ours)
  • Lemon zest/wedges (optional, but highly recommended!)
  • Thinly sliced shiso leaf (optional)

You can find kombu, a large seaweed sold dried, and bonito flakes with the Asian ingredients at well-stocked supermarkets and at natural-foods or Japanese markets. Find shiso, an aromatic herb, at Japanese markets and some farmers’ markets.

Preparation

  1. Bring 4 cups water, the ginger, and kombu to a boil in a large, wide pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 4 minutes. Turn off heat, sprinkle in bonito flakes, and let sit 3 minutes (flakes will sink)
  2. Add leek and carrots. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Add black cod and scallops; simmer 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes more.
  3. Whisk miso with lager or water in a small bowl. Remove stew from heat and carefully stir in miso mixture. Serve with lemon zest/wedges  and shiso for topping if you like.

Sunset
OCTOBER 2011

Mushroom Kale Salad

This recipe from The Washington Post Food editor Joe Yonan was inspired by Animal restaurant in Los Angeles, where a baby kale salad with chili-lime vinaigrette, pecorino and pumpernickel crumbs is a standout on an otherwise carnivorous menu.

Mushroom Kale Salad

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups baby kale or adult kale, minus their stems
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon ( 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon mild miso (I like chickpea miso but soy is fine as well)
  • 3 teaspoons water
  • 2 large eggs, local, free range, of course!
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces cremini, oyster, hen of the woods or other meaty mushrooms, chopped (not stemmed)
  • 1 ounce pecorino cheese, coarsely grated
  • 2 Tablespoonspoons chili-flavored oil or olive oil and chili flakes
  • Coarse, flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Wash and dry the kale. If its stems are thick, remove the leaves from the stems and reserve the stems for another use. Cut the leaves into thin slices and transfer to a medium bowl; add the lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons chili oil, sprinkle of salt and toss to coat.

Whisk together the miso and water in a small bowl, then whisk in the eggs until well combined.

Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they collapse and exude their juices, about 4 minutes.

Pour the miso-egg mixture over the mushrooms; cook for about 1 minute, or until set on the bottom; lift the edges of the set egg on one side and tilt the pan so the uncooked egg runs underneath, then fold over a time or two to form an omelet. Cook for a minute or two on each side, until just cooked through. Transfer the omelet to a plate to cool.

Once the omelet has cooled, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it into small pieces.  Add the omelet pieces and pecorino to the kale in the bowl and drizzle more olive oil if necessary; season with salt and pepper (lots!) to taste, then toss to combine.

Spaghetti Squash with Walnut Miso Topping

Sure, spagetti squash and homemade basil-y tomato sauce is delicious.  Unfortunately one thing that I know for sure is that tomatoes are too sweet for me right now.  Sometimes I can handle them, and now is not one of those times.  When there is more stress in my life, for good or ill, I always eat more conservatively.  So, instead of tomato sauce I make a walnut and chickpea miso topping, plus some raw pressed garlic, hot pepper flakes, a little oil and, yum, healthy comfort food!

Spaghetti squash with walnut miso, romano cheese and garlic.

First you’ve got to get your squash baked.  There are a few ways to do this.  I like to hack my squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibers, oil the inside and bake the halves skin side up at 350 for about 30-45 minutes.  I know they are done when given a push, the skin gives a little.  Also, when I try to fork out the spaghetti like strands, they should come out without much effort.

Using a fork to pull out the strands of cooked squash.

Be careful not to over cook this squash, the strands will lose their slightly crunchy sweet individuality and turn into a mushy mass.  If you want to read up on the various ways to cook spaghetti squash, here are a few suggestions, with pictures!  And if you are interested in the nutritional profile for spaghetti squash, here it is!

For the walnut miso topping I use my Cuisinart.  The ratio is about 1/4 cup of walnuts to 1 1/2 teaspoons miso.  I’m allergic to soy so I found some chickpea miso at my co-op and it’s really tasty.  Miso is a fermented food with some great health benefits like being high in minerals, good for your digestive system and boosting immunity.

Adding miso to the walnuts in the Cuisinart.

So put your walnuts and your miso of choice, I used 1/2 cup nuts and about 3 1/2 teaspoons of miso, into your Cuisinart.  Pulse until it becomes a slightly sticky, crumblely mixture.  Taste for salt and add more miso if necessary.

This is a yummy addition to salads as well.

Once your squash is baked and cooled a bit, scrape out the spaghetti like strands.  Mix with a little olive oil, hot pepper flakes, pressed raw garlic (I use one whole clove per serving, it’s a great pathogen fighter, colds, flu, candida and vampires beware!)  And finally top with some walnut miso crumble.  If you have any fresh parsly, basil or oregano, add that too.  There you have it, healthy comfort food!