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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Dana’s Pork or Chicken Stock Recipe

The secret to amazing pork stock?  The answer is trotters, aka pigs feet!  The same goes for chicken stock, it’s best with chicken feet.  Now don’t get all ewwww about it, the feet are perfectly clean.  You eat animals, they have feet, it’s really not a big deal. When we kill animals for food we should use every bit, nose to tail, because all those bits in between are full of health building essentials!  The reasons this specific part of the animal is so great for making stock are threefold:

1. Trotters especially are known for their gelatin, so when you simmer them for hours, they make a naturally thick, deeply flavorful stock that is soothing to the digestive system, full of cartilage repairing collagen and deep immune support.

2. They are cheap and plentiful.  For every hog that’s butchered, there go 4 more trotters.  Your local butcher or farmer can hook you up with feet for cheap, just ask!

3. Waste not, want not: chicken feet and trotters can certainly be deep fried into one of the best bar snacks you’ll ever eat but I’d argue that making stock from the bones and feet of an animal is the best and easiest way to use them.  And you’ll be sure you are making the most out of the food you raise or buy.

Bone Broth or Stock is relatively easy to make in large amounts, it just takes some time.  I eat a bowl of broth a day during the winter months, dressing it up with kelp, mushrooms and chickpea miso.  Or making traditional chicken soup.  You can also add frozen cubes of stock concentrate to all kinds of recipes to add deep nutrition and lots of flavor.  I recommend a bowl a day to stay warm and healthy til Spring.  Here’s the basic recipe and method my husband Dana uses-

Ingredients for 2 ½ quarts Chicken /Turkey /Pork Stock:

  • 5 pounds assorted organic, local farm raised chicken parts (2-3 pounds of feet plus backs, necks, legs, and wings), rinsed.  For pork stock, use the bones from your last roast plus several trotters.
  • Handful dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 medium leeks or one onion, chopped into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, or 1-2 Cups wine/hard cider

Optional, but highly recommended for ultimate, health enhancing stock add:

  • 2-4 tongue-depressor sized pieces Astragalus root (available from mountainroseherbs.com)
  • Small handful dried Reishi and/or Maitake mushroom
  • 1-2 ginseng roots

Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a stockpot large enough to hold them with about 3 inches of room above (an 8-quart pot should do) and add enough water to cover by at least 1 inch (about 3 quarts).
  2. Heat until bubbling, then reduce heat to a bare simmer (bubbles should just gently break the surface). A slow cooker works well for this if you have one. Simmer for 8-48 hours.  I think the longer the better.
  3. Pass stock through a sieve into another bowl or pot, line the sieve with cheesecloth if you want clearer stock.  I never bother.  Discard the solids, I recommend composting them, or feed to your chickens.
  4. You can use the stock for soup right now, yummmm!
  5. If you are planning to store it without reducing it, stick it in the fridge or freezer.  The fat will rise to the top as it cools, and you can remove it, or leave it in. You can also boil the stock uncovered and reduce it by as much as 90%.  This makes for easier storage of large amounts of stock concentrate.
  6. Note: I use ice cube trays to freeze cooled stock.  Then I keep the cubes in a container in the freezer for use whenever I need.  It’s easy to make a cup of hot broth by adding cubes to a mug with boiling water or throw a bunch into soups.  Sometimes I sauté greens until almost done, then add a cube of stock to finish for extra flavor and health benefits.

Creamy Leek and Mushroom Soup

Yesterday, on my way home at the end of my run, I saw the first few snowflakes of the season start to fall.  It seemed like the right time to make some hearty soup using the leeks my dad gave me a few days ago.  We didn’t grow any leeks this year so this was a nice treat.  My dad has leeks down to a science, he gets the edible parts of white or light green to grow very tall and so I ended up with a lot of leeks to cook with!

I based this soup on the leek soup I posted a few years ago.  I started with a few carrots, a handful of dried mushrooms, all the leeks, Reishi mushroom powder and dried Astragalus root, about a stick of butter, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, salt and pepper.  Here’s how I put it all together into a creamy, filling soup:

I got out our enamel pot, the Reishi mushroom powder, the heavy cream and some bonito flakes. I later decided bonito flakes were a bad idea. I also made my self some aloe ginger lemon juice, it’s important to re-hydrate after a long, cold run! I boiled water to soak my dried mushrooms in, you can see I used a bowl to weight them down in the measuring cup.

All the leeks trimmed and ready to chop, my mushrooms ready to mince along with the mushroom broth and a few carrots.

I started with the heat on medium low and added most of a stick of butter and all the sliced leeks, I’d say about 6-7 cups total. I salted the leeks and stirred to incorporate the butter.

The leeks took about 20 minutes to reduce down and soften.  Just keep the heat relatively low and stir occasionally so the fat doesn’t start to brown or burn.  Taste and make sure you have enough salt.

While the leeks cooked down I chopped the mushrooms and carrots and got out a piece of dried Astragalus to add to the broth. Just remember to remove the root before you puree the soup!

Add the carrots and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes more before adding the mushroom soaking water and any other stock you need.

At this point you can eat this sautéed veggie combination, with some black pepper and salt to taste as a compliment to some baked fish. Or you can add more broth, the heavy cream and puree it. I took some of the veggie saute out and then made soup with the rest!

I used a wand blender to puree the soup, you can also use a blender, just be sure to vent the top.   The soup ends up being a sort of beige color, it’s not very photogenic, especially given the unflattering overhead light in my kitchen.  What it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavor! I ended up with about two quart sized Ball jars full of soup, which are quickly disappearing.

Carrot Ginger Soup

It’s that time of year again: I have about 20 pounds of carrots in my refrigerator from my Dad’s garden and our friends at Woven Roots Farm.  I also have about as much free time as…wait, what’s that?  Since the first week in September I have been busy and busier and I can’t complain about it one bit.  So this week’s recipe is all about carrots, and quickly!

My husband Dana and my brother Brian and I started selling our Fire Cider in stores around the Berkshires last September.  We have gotten so much support from so many people and local businesses (no, they are not the same thing!) all over the Berkshires and beyond: we are now officially in every state in New England and even Ohio.  It’s been a pretty amazing year for the three of us.  This fall for our one year anniversary we exhibited at the Big E for 6 days, handing out over 15,000 samples of our tonic.  This has led to us working pretty much nonstop for the past 4 weeks and counting.

One thing that has kept us going (aside from the Fire Cider, of course) has been sitting down for a home cooked meal together, at least a few times a week.  I am so used to cooking almost all of the food we eat that it’s been kind of a shock all this eating on the go- grabbing prepared food at the Co-op or The Creamery and  eating in restaurants at the end of a long workday, too tired to cook, or even go to our garden to harvest food.  So I feel reassured that once again, home cooking with farm fresh foods is the way to go for health, best flavor and my sanity as well.

Eating together is one of those things that is full of intangibles and is so very important to any family, be it your group of friends, your roommates or your parents, siblings and kids.  When we eat together we have a chance, maybe the only time all day or all week, when we are all doing the same thing, at the same time, together.  When we share a meal we have prepared together we share the energy and love we put into the food and we all receive the benefits.  Eating together is community building 101.  Speaking of the energy we get from our food, eating root vegetables helps me to to feel more grounded and connected to the earth, especially during times when I’m really busy!  This easy soup recipe calls for 3 root veggies: ginger, onion and carrots with some fresh herbs for a very colorful and nutrient dense meal.

This soup takes about 15 minutes of actual cooking time, with about 30 minutes of simmering and cooling, so make a double batch and save some for later in the week when you have less time to cook.  You can use the downtime while the soup simmers to sauté some greens in garlic and olive oil for a well-rounded, brightly colored meal that will surely leave you and your family feeling nourished, brighter and healthier.

Carrot and Ginger Soup with a swirl of cream or coconut milk, perfect fall food!

Serves 4 – Cooking Time 15 minutes – Total Time- 40 Minutes

Ingredients

 

Enough olive oil or coconut oil for sautéing the onion

medium yellow onion, sliced

1 & 1/2  pounds  carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

4  cups  vegetable or mushroom broth

1  tablespoon or more fresh  grated ginger

1 1/2  teaspoons  salt

1/4  teaspoon black pepper or more to taste

Optional:

1/2  cup  heavy cream (Highlawn Farm!) or coconut milk

Fresh herbs for garnish: chopped parsley or dill

Procedure

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in the carrots, broth, ginger, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

Using a wand blender or a vented stand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to pot and warm, if necessary, over medium heat.

If you want to add cream: whisk the cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in a pinch of salt and chopped fresh herbs. Divide the soup among individual bowls and top with the herb cream.

For the coconut milk: use organic, canned coconut milk (not the light stuff, it just has water added) and blend well so that it is smooth.  Add the chopped herbs and serve the soup with ¼ cup swirled into each bowl.

If you are on a strict no sugar diet, try making this version of the soup using lots of leeks and just a few carrots for color and mild sweetness.

Gazpacho Salad

It’s a salad! It’s a summer soup! It’s both, yum.

Here’s the latest recipe I’ve come up with for our Fire Cider Recipe Book due out late this fall, isn’t that right MVB Printmaker?!

Chop two large garden fresh tomatoes into bite sized pieces; thinly slice a ¼ of a medium white onion, thin slice or chop one medium cucumber.

Add crumbled mild goat feta and top with chopped fresh basil, about a handful will do.

Add an ounce or more of Fire Cider and a few healthy splashes of olive oil.  Mix well, taste and add more Fire Cider and salt to taste.  The tomatoes will give off a lot of delicious juice so plan to eat this chopped salad/soup with a big spoon.

Serves 2

A note about tomatoes: for me, cooked tomatoes are way too sweet to eat.  I have been eating small servings of fresh tomatoes this season with raw onion and Fire Cider, both of which help keep Candida in balance.

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

Souper Immunity!

If you really want an immune boost come visit our booth at Alchemy’s Handmade Holiday Festival, this Friday evening and Saturday from 10-5 pm.  We will be handing out Fire Cider samples and selling our holiday edition wax sealed bottles as well as herbal bath soaks, unique tee shirts from A Fine Example and other great handmade gifties!

Dana just made turkey stock from the Thanksgiving carcass (thank you Meat Market!) and it came out really well.  Soup stock made from simmering an organic, healthy animal has tons of nutrition in it.  If you don’t have a day to simmer, here’s an easier immune boosting soup recipe from my doctor in NYC.

'Tis the season for soup!

Superimmunity Soup from Dr. Vincent Pedre

When you need an immune pick-me-up, try this superimmunity soup to charge up your immune system and ward off that cold.  It contains many common vegetables that we all enjoy, but feel free to vary the recipe by adding your own winter vegetables.  You may vary the mushroom used from shiitake to reishi or maitake, all are highly medicinal.  It is ideal to always add the astragalus, but it may be harder to find at your local grocery store.  Astragalus may actually require a trip to Chinatown or to Mountain Rose Herbs on-line.

Also, remove any ingredients you don’t enjoy.  For example, I am an avid cilantro lover, so I always add cilantro to my soups, but there are those among that may not share my enthusiasm.  Feel free to quietly omit the cilantro and use parsley instead.  You can also use the soup recipe to make a vegetable stock to use in other recipes.

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients

1 yellow onion

2 large organic carrots

2 stalks of organic celery

1 head of kale

30g dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms

30g dried astragalus root

1-2 tbsp finely chopped ginger

10 garlic cloves (chopped or whole)

1 bunch of cilantro

¼ cup olive oil

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Wash and cut the vegetables
  2. For extra browning and flavor, you can sauté the vegetables with olive oil or sesame oil
  3. Wash the mushrooms and astragalus root and place into pot
  4. Pour cold water into a large soup pot up to 3/4 full, add all vegetables, and bring to a boil
  5. Lower the heat, and cook uncovered for 40 minutes
  6. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste
  7. Cool down and enjoy!
If you have an autoimmune condition or other chronic disease, you should consult with your doctor before taking medicinal herbs or mushrooms.  Read Dr. Pedre’s whole post about immune boosting for the winter….and don’t forget to take your daily dose of Fire Cider!!!

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