Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Stay warm this Fall with my new favorite soup!

butternut-squash

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

-1 butternut squash

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-1 small Granny Smith apple, chopped

-1 small Gala apple, chopped

-5 thyme sprigs

-2 tablespoons butter, melted

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

-salt and pepper

-4 cups chicken broth

Instructions:

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  

2.  Place squash in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes so that it’s softened and easier/safer to cut.  Remove both ends of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise.  Peel the tough, outer skin and remove the “guts” from the inside of the squash.  Continue to cut the squash into smaller, bite-size pieces.

3.  Place the squash in a bowl with the melted butter and thyme leaves, then generously salt and pepper.  Place on the lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The squash should be tender enough to pierce with a fork at the end of cooking.

4.  When the squash has cooked for 20 minutes, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and optional sugar (generally I wouldn’t recommend sugar, but since this is a lot of soup, it’s hardly any sugar per serving).  Add the apples, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. 

5.  In batches, add the cooked squash and onion/apple mixture to the blender along with a cup of chicken broth with each batch.  Blend until smooth.  Continue to add the squash, onions, apples and broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with thyme.  Enjoy!

Nourishing Beef Bone Broth

You can roll your eyes at the bone broth trend all you want, but the truth is, there’s a reason bone broth restaurants are popping up in major cities and making headlines. While I enjoy bone broth, it feels silly paying $5 for a cup of straight broth, and truth told, with this recipe I can make it better myself at home (and it’s not hard!).

Why drink bone broth?

Bone broth is essentially an anti-aging tonic.  It’s full of pure nutrients and minerals straight from the bones of animals, like chickens, beef, pork, turkey, or lamb, simmered for hours with water and roasted vegetables.  Unlike regular broth which is made with just the bones of animals, bone broth usually calls for some meat on the bones during the cooking process. Grandmothers have been making it for ages, swearing that its healing properties aid the body’s immune system and gut, alleviate inflammation and joint pain, and make skin soft and hair shiny. It makes perfect sense considering bone broth is rich in many important nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, protein, collagen, gelatin and glycine.  Drink it regularly to aid your body in good health!

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Making bone broth is easy enough. It’s recommended to use a mix of bones with and without meat, and choose bones from organically-raised animals only.  You don’t want to extract any potentially harmful additives that could’ve been given to the animals. Same goes for the rest of the ingredients in the broth.  This recipe is for beef bone broth, but you’d essentially do the same thing with this recipe as you’d do if you were using bones from a different animal.  If you so desire, which I highly recommend, you can add your favorite herbs or spices to the broth too to make it more flavorful.

Ingredients

-4 bones beef bones (aim for a mix of bones, some with a little meat and some without)

-1 yellow onion, quartered

-1 leek, chopped

-2 medium carrots, chopped

-2 celery stocks, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

-2 bay leaves

-2 tablespoons peppercorns

-1 tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt or regular sea salt

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place chopped onion, leek, carrots, celery and garlic into a roasting pan along with the beef bones.  Roast for 15 minutes, take out and toss the veggies, then roast for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off.

2- Fill a large stockpot with about 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, apple cider vinegar, and roasted vegetables and bones with any juices and scrapings from the roasting pan.  Add more water to the pot if the water doesn’t cover the bones all the way. Optional- add herbs or spices.  I added a mix of Italian herbs.

3- Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, and cook with the lid ajar slightly. Simmer for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours, occasionally skimming the foam and excess fat from the top with a spoon or lettuce leaf, if you have one. The longer you let the broth sit, the more flavorful it will be.

*Note- do not leave the house with the stove on or leave it on overnight while you sleep. You can always continue to simmer it the next day.

4- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Discard the bones and vegetables by straining the broth with a fine-mesh sieve into a large container. I then transferred the broth to a glass mason jar and made sure to skim the rest of the fat off the top.

Store the broth in the fridge for up to five days and up to six months in the freezer.

Cheers to good health!

 

 

 

 

 

Exotic Tagine with Spices Recipe

This recipe is for those nights when you want to eat something satisfying and healthy, but have too much on your plate to put too much thought into a meal. Although it’s not a traditional African tagine recipe, it shares some of the elements of one and holds up great as leftovers for a few days. You can go totally meatless with this dish and add extra vegetables, but I’ve made it with ground turkey on one occasion and with ground pork on another and liked both these too. I recommend any of these options. Flavoring is the name of the game with this dish, so make sure your spice cabinet is well-stocked. I tend to eyeball with most spices, and I welcome you to do the same.f167d4cb-14f2-4838-8be7-3dd3da36899e.jpg

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

-1 lb. ground turkey or pork

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, chopped

-1 tablespoon of each of the following spices: garlic powder, onion powder, ground turmeric, paprika, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground coriander, cayenne, salt, and ground pepper.

-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

-1 cup uncooked jasmine rice or cous cous

-1 1/2 cups water or broth

-optional: raisins or golden raisins

Instructions

1- Set oven to 400 degrees F. On the stovetop, heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add about 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Next, add the onion, the fresh garlic, and meat to the skillet. Add all of the spices to the pan, mix in with the meat and onions, and cook until the meat is browned.

2- Add the uncooked rice, chickpeas, and water/broth to the skillet. Add a little more salt, mix together, then place in the oven covered for 40 minutes.

3- That’s it, food is ready! BE CAREFUL after removing the skillet from the oven. It’ll be HOT and I totally burned myself!

Enjoy your meal 🙂

Spicy Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Crunchy, salty, and packed with protein, chickpeas are the perfect snack. Just one cup of chickpeas has 39 grams of protein! I can eat a whole batch of spicy chickpeas in one sitting, so the recipe below is two servings worth. This recipe is SO simple! All you have to do is season the chickpeas with spices and olive oil, toss them, and roast them!

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Ingredients

-2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), thoroughly rinse and drain

-2 tablespoons EVOO

-1 teaspoon cumin

-1 teaspoon chili powder

-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

-1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Put chickpeas in a bowl with all spices and olive oil.  Evenly coat the chickpeas, then place on a lined cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or longer depending on how crispy you prefer you want them.

Reasons You Should Cook With This Cancer-Fighting, Pain-Reducing, Immune-Boosting Spice (plus recipe!)

Spices should not be neglected from your cooking, because most spices have health benefits and add amazing flavor or color to foods.  Today I want to talk about the brightly-colored spice, turmeric, which you may have tried before, especially if you’ve eaten Indian food.  Turmeric is argued to be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence, and speaking from personal experience, holy shit! This stuff works.

I started taking turmeric, or curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), in supplement form last year to treat chronic wrist and hip pain. Curcumin fights inflammation and contains lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.  Within days my pain dissipated.  Here are some other uses for the spice:

Arthritis, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, gall bladder disorders, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual cramps, depression, Alzheimer’s, water retention, worms, kidney problems, and cancer.

Sound too good to be true?  There’s a reason this spice has been used to treat illnesses for centuries. It works! Cooking with turmeric alone may not be a high enough dosage to make a huge impact with helping any of the above issues, but you can also find turmeric in supplement form to get the full effects.

Turmeric goes very well with black pepper, especially because the black pepper enhances the effects of the curcumin. Turmeric also goes great with other spices like cumin, coriander, curry, etc.

Crispy Turmeric Tofu Tacos

Ingredients:

For the tofu…

-extra firm tofu, drained, cut into cubes (to drain, place tofu block in a colander over a bowl and place a plate with something heavy on top of the tofu for anywhere from 20 minutes- hour).

-spices: turmeric, black pepper, salt, cumin, any additional favorite spices  *turmeric stains bright yellow, so clean immediately if you spill!*

-EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Extras for the tacos…

-favorite beans, soaked, rinsed and cooked

-taco shells

-avocado

-raw red onion, diced

-fresh corn off the cob

-optional: cheese

Instructions:

1. Turn over to 400 degrees F.

2. After tofu has drained and is cut into cubes, toss the cubes in a bowl. Add spices (I eyeball it out, but probably about 1/4 teaspoon of each spice) and oil and coat evenly.

3. Place tofu on lined baking sheet.  Put in the oven on the bottom rack for five minutes. Flip tofu and place in oven for another five minutes, then repeat once more for a total of 15 minute cook time.

4. Put tacos together- cooked beans, raw onion, corn, tofu, and avocado on shells. Serve up and enjoy!

If you have leftover tofu, I like to do another easy dish of sushi rice, veggies, and tofu.

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For the original crispy tofu recipe, sans tacos, click here.

Other Sources: Whole Foods

Home Remedies

urlI love using spices, herbs, and pantry items to make home remedies and beauty products.  There’s no need to feel guilty about spending $20 for a nice bottle of olive oil or coconut oil anymore, because that olive oil doubles as face cleanser and that coconut oil can be used for just about anything.  Using what’s probably in your kitchen or fridge already, here are a few simple recipes for home beauty and cleaning products:

Bathroom Freshener

-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

-1 1/2 cups water

-10-15 drops essential oils (cinnamon, clove, lavender, lemon, or any other pure essential oils)

Mix ingredients in a glass hair with a tight-fitting lid.  Keep some of the spray in a spray bottle in the bathroom and label “air freshener.”

Most commercial shampoo and conditioners create soft, gorgeous hair on the outside, but actually are a risk to your health. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient in most commercial shampoos, dries out hair and can trigger allergic reactions in some people.  Commercial products also contain gluten.

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Organic apple cider vinegar restores hair’s natural pH and helps remove dead skin cells from the scalp.

Rinse Away Dandruff

-1 cup organic apple cider vinegar

-10 drops clove essential oil

Combine ingredients and shake.  Apply 1/4 cup of the mixture to shampooed hair.  Towel dry, working well into the scalp. Wait 5-10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Deep Conditioning Mask for Damaged Hair

-1/2 cup Honey

-1 tsp olive oil

Mix ingredients and massage into clean, damp hair.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.  Rinse well with warm water.  Wash hair with a natural shampoo and dry.

Making body scrubs is simple.  Whatever isn’t already in your home, like essential oils, you may be able to pick up at a health food store.  Experiment with different scents and combinations of ingredients.  Your skin will be moist and soft after, especially if you use the scrub after a shower, because it’s easier to exfoliate dead skin cells.  It’s also great to use a scrub before shaving, and should result in a smoother shave.

You only need to scrub your skin once a week.  Avoid certain essential oils, because they can irritate the skin when mixed with hot water.  These oils include: basil, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and bay.

Salt Scrub

-1 cup sea salt

-1/2 cup grapeseed oil or almond oil

-1/4 cup avocado or olive oil

-1 vitamin E capsule

-10-15 drops essential oils (blending is ok)

Mix the oils, vitamin E, and essential oils in a small bowl.  Add the salt and mix well.  Store in a container with an airtight lid.

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Sugar Scrub

-1/2 cup white sugar

-enough olive oil to completely moisten the sugar, but not enough to make it runny with oil

-Squeeze of lemon

Stir sugar in with olive oil.  Squeeze lemon.  Use your fingers to scoop the mixture and rub on your face.

Source: National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies

Lo·ca·vore

Locavore:  one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

This new year I recommend trying to eat and buy foods grown locally.  Since my boyfriend and I dubbed ourselves locavores in 2014, it quickly became apparent that the quality of food was far superior to any commercial food products.  Not only is locally grown food more fresh, but there’s less fuel and chemicals involved in the transportation of the food.  Additionally, by supporting local businesses you’re giving less business to big corporations, which is a great thing because it stimulates jobs for local people and promotes whole foods and better eating.

The locavore movement was influenced by a Canadian couple, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who spearheaded the 100-mile diet in 2005.  For a whole year the couple ate only foods produced within a 100-mile radius.  This may not be easy for everyone, so start off with just a single family meal made of all locally sourced products. Taste the difference and put some love in that cooking!

I admit living in San Francisco I’m totally spoiled by the food options and local farms surrounding my area.  Every week I either visit my neighborhood farmers market (Clement Street represent!) or have my food delivered directly to my door by Good Eggs, a company that brings farm foods and locally-sourced products straight to my door.  It’s the bomb.  There are also other companies out there that deliver fresh foods and not just in San Francisco.  My advice is to look into farms or CSAs (community supported agriculture) near your own area and see where the farmers sell their products or see if there’s someone who’d deliver the food fresh for you.  CSAs are a great way to get to know your local farmers!

Check out some of my favorite, must-have products in San Francisco:

I love the spatchcock chickens by Roli Roti.  The company gets their chickens in the Bay Area and I order mine fresh from Good Eggs.

I love the spatchcock chickens by Roli Roti. The company gets their chickens in the Bay Area and I order mine fresh from Good Eggs.

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Thank you to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in Capay Valley, CA for producing this incredible olive oil. This product has taught me the importance of cooking with quality olive oil.

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Happy Boy Farms, near Watsonville, CA, keeps my belly very happy with their amazingly fresh and bright lettuces.

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It’s a secret what’s inside Omnivore Salt, but the flavoring has never let me down! I use it on nearly everything I cook.

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Given the amount of eggs I eat, I don’t mind paying a little extra for quality, pasteurized eggs. These multi-colored beauties come from Red Hill Farms in Marin County, CA.