Monday, November 30, 2015

Cancer Doesn't Like Turmeric

   I have been reading a lot about turmeric lately, and am totally on board with adding it to my daily diet.  The healing properties of turmeric first caught my attention more than a decade ago when I read that populations that consume turmeric regularly have a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Another reason, I thought, to love Indian food. Now I am finding out that turmeric also has powerful anti cancer properties.

   Turmeric is a rhizome from the curcuma longa plant that is native to South East Asia, but is also cultivated in other tropical areas. It is related to ginger and has a similar shape and dark tan skin, but is smaller with a bright orange interior. When dried and ground into a powder it is easily recognized by its golden yellow color. You will find it on the ingredient list of those familiar bright golden yellow mustard jars. It is best known as a spice commonly used in Indian cooking, but it also has a long history of use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. 

  Curcumin, the main healing ingredient in turmeric, is antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Inflammation contributes to many of today's chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.  Curcumin can protect us by inhibiting our bodies ability to create the kind of long term low grade inflammation that leads to these diseases. Its detoxifying abilities also protect us by reducing the harm that free radicals do to our cells. 

   Studies are showing promising results in many areas of cancer prevention and treatment. Curcumin has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, shrink tumors in certain cancers, prevent metastasis, increase the effectiveness of some chemotherapies, and reduce side effects.

Here is a list of some of the other ways turmeric is used in healing:
  • to protect against flu
  • as a natural pain killer
  • to detoxify the liver
  • to sooth an upset stomach
  • to improve digestion
  • as a natural antidepressant 
  • applied topically to heal and prevent infection
   Turmeric can be bought in capsule form and taken like a supplement, but I feel it is better to use it in cooking or to make a tea. I find tea the fastest easiest way to incorporate it into my day. I buy bulk organic turmeric by the pound on

Lemon Turmeric Tea
4c. water
1T. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
lemon or lime juice to taste
optional: sweetener, ginger root, 

Start by bringing the water to a boil. Add the turmeric, black pepper and a few (1/4") slices of ginger. Boil this for ten minutes then remove it from the heat, and strain.
Turmeric has an earthy, almost woody and bitter taste, so a bit of sweetness gives it a nice balance. Honey is best, but if you already have cancer I recommend you go with just a bit of stevia. You want to let the tea cool a bit before adding the juice if you plan to drink it hot, or wait until it cools completely if you will drink it cold. Sometimes I add just a bit of juice, other times I add enough to make it a true lemonade. I usually make it first thing in the morning and drink it cold throughout the day.

If you don't like the way it tastes, start out with less turmeric until you get used to it.

The black pepper is important here. It contains piperine, which improves the absorption of curcumin.

Here is another recipe I like:

Spiced Turmeric Tea
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp. turmeric
pinch of black pepper
2 tsp. of chopped ginger (a couple of slices)
1c. of water
1/2c. almond milk (or you could use coconut milk)
sweetener to taste

Bring the water to a boil. Add all the spices and simmer for ten minutes. Add the almond milk. Heat but do not let it boil. Strain and add sweetener of choice. 

Please note: I have read some contraindications for turmeric. For instance pregnant or nursing mothers should consult their doctors before using turmeric, and it may interfere with some chemotherapies. So, please be sure it is safe for you to use if you have any medical condition.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mind Changing Carrot Soup

Carrot Quinoa Soup

      Somewhere in my past , I must have had a bad carrot soup experience, because even though I like carrots, I held to the idea that I didn't want a soup made out of them. Luckily this soup came along and changed my mind.
   The first time I had it, I was on a three day silent meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Society  (IMS) retreat center in Barre, Ma.  There were ninety participants, and we all started our day with meditation at 6AM, and ended the same way at 9PM. The sound of the bells would call us to the meditation hall, where we would silently take our places on a cushion, or a chair if the floor was too uncomfortable for us.  We all meditated, did our assigned chores, ate our meals, and relaxed in silence. We were to spend the entire time being present (in the moment), and settling our minds. To help with this, along with not talking, we were discouraged from reading and writing, and cell phones were a big no-no. 
   I am not a talkative person, so the silence was not much of a challenge for me. The hardest part of the retreat for me was staying alert while just sitting there in a silent room. I guess focussing on your breath is supposed to be interesting enough to keep you awake, but really-it just doesn't cut it. I had an ongoing battle with fatigue. Luckily we alternated between sitting and walking meditation, so I was able to steal a couple of naps in my room when I should have been walking. That may sound like cheating, but I figured since it was a silent activity, it was allowed. Don't you think?
   It really was a great experience overall though. It made me more aware of how filled with distractions my days are. How I turn to something outside of myself when I don't know what to do with myself. I also found it interesting how even without sharing words, just sharing the experience made me feel connected to every person in the room. We all had our own reasons for being there, but we were somehow all in it together. I left the retreat feeling very peaceful, and with a renewed commitment to practicing on my own at home, which I find helpful. It doesn't keep me from getting scattered or stressed out, but I do notice that when I do spiral into an emotional frenzy, it's easier to observe the chaos in my head and quickly get to a better place.  I am looking forward to going back for five days in February.
   The silent part of the retreat ended with lunch on the last day, giving us a chance to share our experiences, and talk about the food!  This carrot soup was a favorite of everyones. I have to admit though, the first time I made it something went wrong. I don't know if there was a mistake in the recipe, maybe the amount of water was wrong, or maybe it was because of my zealous blender habits. I have a Vitamix Pro 300 and like to crank it up to maximum speed. I find it exciting how fast it it can go. It's the most amazing blender. Anyway, I ended up with a smooth paste. I made a few adjustments to the recipe and my technique. Now it works. It now has a clean carrot flavor, with a hint of curry spice, richness from the coconut, and a nice texture.

Carrot Quinoa Soup
serves 5-6

2T. coconut oil (or olive)
1 1/2 lbs. carrots
1 large onion
1 large stalk of celery
1T. minced garlic
2T. minced ginger 
2 tsp. of curry powder
2 tsp. of salt
4 c. vegetable stock, or water
1c. coconut milk
1/4c. of rinsed quinoa ( I soak my grains before using to remove the phytic acid)
1 T. lemon juice and some wedges to serve with individual servings
toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

This soup is very simple.

Since it is going to be pureed, you can rough chop the vegetables into 1/2 inch chunks.

Heat a medium sauce pan with the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. 

Add the garlic, ginger, and spices and sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots and celery.

Add the broth, salt, and coconut milk. If your broth is salted, you may need to reduce the amount of salt you add. Simmer for about 20 minutes, and then add your quinoa and continue simmering for another 10 minutes, or until the quinoa is done. 
You could also use leftover quinoa or pre-cook the quinoa, and throw it in after the soup finishes cooking.

Remove it from the heat, and let cool a few minutes before pureeing it in the blender. You can make it smooth, but not so smooth that you completely destroy the quinoa. 

Add in the lemon juice, and taste. Adjust if needed. You can also add more liquid if needed.

Top with pumpkin seeds, and serve with extra lemon wedges.

Phytic acid is present in grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. It is a natural substance utilized by the seeds when they sprout, but it impairs our bodies absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium. Soaking beans and grains overnight, or at least for several hours, and rinsing them well removes the acid and increases the amount of minerals we absorb from them. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to Make Almond Milk

nut milk bag

Start by soaking 1c. of whole raw (preferably organic) almonds in several cups of water for at least 4 hours. I use filtered water, and most often soak them overnight, and then make the milk in the morning. 

Drain and rinse the soaked nuts. You can if you want to, slip the skins off the almonds. They usually slip off easily with a little squeeze. I have seen recipes that tell you to do this, and recipes that don't  even mention it.  I usually pop some out of their skins just for the fun of it, but ignore any that seem stuck. I don't notice a difference in the milk either way.

Next put the soaked nuts in a blender with 3-4c. of water (less water will make a richer milk). Add a pinch of salt and 1T. vanilla ( optional). Blend on high for about 1 minute.

Next pour the milk into a nut milk bag fitted over a bowl. You could also use a thin kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze the milk bag over the bowl until as much liquid as possible is extracted.

Pour it into a covered glass container/bottle and store in the fridge for 4-5 days.

There are uses for the leftover pulp. Add it to baked goods, hummus/spreads, or hot cereal.

Rose Almond Milk With Raspberries

This drink started out as a raspberry strudel with rose frosting.

   Let me explain.  My friend Jenna and I had lunch at the Five Eyed Fox last week, and this was on the menu. It's a strudel filled with locally made raspberry jam and topped with a rose flavored icing. 

   Technically, Jenna ordered it, but I helped her eat it. It was so delicious that it started me thinking about what I could make with these flavors that would not involve all the sugar typical of a dessert like this. So, I deconstructed the strudel.
   I loved the floral quality of the icing, so I definitely wanted to make something with rosewater in it. The first thing I thought of was falooda, a sweet drink/dessert made with rosewater flavored milk that's popular in India. Falooda typically has some kind of fruit, some basil seeds or chewy bits, not unlike the texture of the tapioca balls in bubble tea, and ice cream in it. It's delicious, but again it's loaded with sugar.
    I stuck with the falooda concept and started out with almond milk. I added chia seeds (because I didn't have basil seeds), and raspberries. The seeds and the raspberries give it texture, and it's nice how the raspberry flavor intensifies when you get the bits of fruit in your mouth.  So forget you ever saw the picture of that sugar laden strudel, because this is just as satisfying. And if you are already missing summer, as I am, this is like summer in a glass. Of course if the direction of your day depends on whether or not you have the strudel, by all means have the strudel. We all need to be a little decadent once in a while, but if you can be satisfied with a delightfully fruity, floral drink that can sweeten your day with (a lot) less sugar, go for this refreshing drink.

rose almond milk with raspberries
So this is very simple.
serves 1

start with:
1c. vanilla almond milk (please make your own)
1tsp. chia seeds
2 tsp. of honey (I used 1tsp. honey plus 1/8tsp. stevia)
mix these ingredients and let sit for 20 minutes for the seeds to hydrate
1tsp. of rosewater
1/2c. of raspberry pieces-I use frozen and break them up so that they will go through a straw.
mix well and enjoy

   I always make my own almond milk. I don't like the way the stuff in the carton tastes, and I don't like all the gum additives they put in. Fresh is so much better tasting, and I feel like I can trust it to be a healthy choice.  If you use the stuff in the carton, be sure to adjust the sweetener if the one you buy already has sugar. Most original flavor almond milks are high in added sugar.

If you don't know how to make almond milk, I am posting a quick how to next.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Inspiration and Quotes

a favorite spot for tea

   This is where I like to find myself on a quiet lazy Sunday morning, or any other lazy day for that matter. It is a used bookstore that is housed, along side a cafe, in an old grist mill. There are a lot of little corners and funky furnishings scattered about, allowing you to nestle yourself in amongst the books and forget the pressures of the day.
   I love to sit here by the window with a cup of tea, soothed by the rushing sound of the river below. It is a great place to browse a book, contemplate life, or formulate an idea for a blog post. At least it was. Until I discovered Pinterest. I spent hours this past Sunday, eyes fixed on my phone, pinning, glancing only occasionally out the window to relieve eye strain. 
   I am not a big fan of social media. I believe it has its place, but a part of me still holds the belief that because it is distracting and addictive, it is contributing to the decay of society. That said, I am totally hooked. Pinterest is so awesome. I love photographs, especially of beautiful things and interesting places. I am addicted to interior design, and food, and style, and all the pretty things in life and commerce. I also found a lot of useful information to pin. 
   I am into quotes these days. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple words to inspire you, or remind you of what you seem to have a hard time remembering. I hope you like quotes too. I found a lot of them on Pinterest. Some of which I am posting here.

I love this one:
In three words I can sum up
everything I learned about life:
it goes on"
by Robert Frost

This is beautiful:
"The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away".
by William Shakespeare

This is my favorite:
"Above all be the heroin of your life
not the victim"
by Nora Ephron
   Do you have any favorite quotes you would like to share?  I will be posting more quotes here on the blog in the future, but if you want to read all of the ones I have pinned so far, go to my board click here

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cancer I know (my story)

"You never realize how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have"

   Cancer, I know it well. I have been living with it for almost two years now. It was two years ago, the week before Thanksgiving, that I was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer. 
   Cancer, I know it well. I have had tumors surgically removed. They gutted me like a fish. I had a complete hysterectomy and an appendectomy. They removed my omentum. They removed tumors from my colon and my diaphragm.
   I survived against the odds. I was told that I had a 40% chance of surviving. I was told that as soon as I could, I needed to get myself up out of the bed and walk. So I did. I dragged myself and my IV pole, with my bags filled with fluid dripping into my arm, down the hall and around the nurses desk, lap after slow lap, with someone by my side in case I collapsed. 
   I was bloated and heavy from edema from the waist down from lying in bed, while at the same time being nothing but skin and bones up top. My five feet five inch frame had dropped from 115 pounds to ninety five pounds in a matter of days. I was not allowed to eat for the first three days, and my body was quickly burning through it's supplies trying to heal itself.
   Four days after my surgery I was released and sent home with my abdomen stapled shut from the tip of my sternum to my pubic bone. I was sent home with ten days worth of medicine that I had to shoot by needle into the flesh of my slack scrawny thighs to prevent blood clots. I was shown how to care for my wound, and told to watch for signs of infection. I would start chemo as soon as I healed. 
   Cancer, I know it well. I have had chemotherapy twice now. I have lost my hair- all of it. Not even an eyelash was spared. I didn't really care. It was no time to be vain. I looked as bad as I felt. I have lost my ability to taste food. I have had painful neuropathy in my hands that woke me up at night. I have had mouth sores which made it impossible for me to eat, even liquids sipped cautiously through a straw caused terrible pain. Talking was also painful, except when I could get the sound out through my clenched teeth without moving my tongue. Which is nearly impossible. My cognitive functions became impaired, and the steroids I had to take turned me into an emotional maniac, and prevented me from sleeping. 
   I live alone, and it was the dead of winter. I didn't have a car at the time, so I took taxis, or walked when I had the strength. At times I ordered chinese food to be delivered when that's all I could manage.  People helped, and probably would have helped more if I had asked, but I am independent, and I felt I was managing. I find it hard to ask for help, so I actually prefer struggling on my own. I tend to turn people away.  
    Seven months after this all started, when I finished with chemo, I was in remission. My blood work (CA125) was below the normal mark, which is 32. It was at 4000 when I was diagnosed! After a few months of being drug free, I felt better than I had in years, but then that feeling went away. The cancer was back, and it had metastasized to my liver. I was (am) now at stage 4. So, just five months after my first chemotherapy ended, I was again on the fast track to an early death. I was right back on the same road.... In spite of this I decided to delay chemo for a while. I was still feeling relatively well. I was still working and traveling. I had just spent a few weeks in Paris and the French Riviera. I wasn't ready to ruin what quality of life I still had. Every successive blood test showed that the cancer was growing rapidly, and I lived everyday with the decision of- is this the day I should start chemo. Will tomorrow be too late.
   When I started chemo this second time my blood CA125 was at 800.  The chemo brought it down at an astounding rate. After only two rounds of chemotherapy it was down to a jaw dropping 50! Yay! it worked. Two more rounds brought it down to 12, a comfortable spot well within the normal range of 0-32. Okay, another chance to live! I have now enjoyed two months of remission.  I will be tested again at the end of December. If my blood CA125 level has risen, I will again have to decide if I want to do chemo.
   Ovarian cancer is treated as a chronic disease. Even though it has one of the highest fatality rates, and is not curable, there are drugs, chemotherapy drugs available to prolong your life. And as long as they keep working, you keep living, until they destroy your body so much that they kill you, or they just stop working and the cancer kills you. What a choice!
  By now I know cancer very well, I have lived it, I have researched it, and I have talked with so many people who have it, or who know someone who has it. I am so grateful for all the stories I have heard. I have learned so much, and gained so much strength from them. 
   So, that's my story. I hope no one misunderstands my motive, and thinks I would accept their sympathy here. Congratulations would be accepted though. I wrote this simply because I wanted to share it. This is my life. This is what I have to share. And if it makes even one person with cancer feel less alone for having read it, I would be very pleased. 
   Cancer is not a death sentence. Cancer is a challenge. I choose to meet the challenge everyday.
   If anyone would like to write to me and share their story, or ask me any questions, you could use the comment box on this blog, or email me at 
   Thanks for listening

Monday, November 9, 2015

Carrots With Coconut From My New Cookbook

Carrots with Coconut

   I am so excited. I just bought Madhur Jaffrey's new cookbook, Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking (Knopf, 2015), and it is so full of delicious looking recipes that I don't know where to start. Of course there are dals to try, and my favorite flatbreads, but she has also included recipes that are less familiar to most, like pancakes and poha (flattened rice) upma, which I love.
   I used to live in India, and I miss it every single day: the food, the people, the culture. I spent the greater part of four years living in Goa. I lived right on the beach, going days without ever leaving the sand. I never missed a sunset, and I slept and woke to the gentle sound of the waves. Well it was probably the roosters that actually woke me up, but it was lovely none the less.
   I used to be a professional massage therapist, and I used to travel- a lot. I went to India on vacation, planning to stay for a month or two, and ended up setting up a massage business there in a local guesthouse. I worked through the eight month tourist season, and then travelled by train across that beautiful, vastly diverse country. It's crazy to think about it now, but that's how my life was back then. I travelled. I explored. I was free and open to life's opportunities.

at work

my beach

   Well now, where was I before I drifted away with my memories of India. Oh yes, food, Indian food, and recipes for things I love, but haven't tasted since I left India.
   Now I have to admit here that I am not a very organized cook. I wish I were the type to have a meal plan for the week and all the necessary ingredients on hand, but I'm not. I almost never know what I will make for my next meal. I usually just throw some ingredients together and hope for the best. Even so, I eat well. But when I get my hands on a new cookbook, I get totally organized. I pull out my little colored sticky tabs to mark all the recipes that I like. I make a list of the ones I want to make in the week ahead, and then set out for the markets. Once I have rounded up all the ingredients that I need, I dive in. So, with my new cookbook in hand , I know what I will be eating this week-Indian!
   I chose to start with this recipe for carrots because it was simple, and it reminded me of where I used to live. The use of coconut is most commonly used in southern India, where they grow. In Goa I actually lived surrounded by coconut palm trees, and when it came time to harvest, I would watch the men skillfully climb the tall slender trunks with their deft hands and feet. When they reached the top they would release the large nuts with a quick chop of their machete and let them fall to the ground. You could hear the rhythm- thwack, thud, thwack, thud, until they shimmied back down, and moved on to the next tree.You had to keep your head up at this time, because you didn't want to accidentally wander into the path of a falling coconut. They can do serious damage.

   This is a simple light side dish. The flavor of the carrots dominates, while the coconut adds a rich, nutty sweetness. The ginger and dried chilies add warmth, and the cilantro brightens things up a bit. I like a bit more bright acidic flavor to balance the sweetness, so I give it a good squeeze of lime juice.

Recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian India
Yields 3-4 servings 

Carrots with Coconut

5 medium carrots
1 T. olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 tsp. urud dal (white lentils)
You can find urud dal in Asian markets or online, but it won't change the dish too much if you leave it out.
1/2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chilies broken in half
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 tsp. salt or more to taste
3T. grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
2T. chopped cilantro (I used more)
lime wedge (optional)

   Let me start by saying that I don't expect anyone to crack open and grate their own coconut. Extra points if you do, but I certainly am not willing to. I bought frozen. If you can't find frozen, I would go with dry unsweetened, and not worry about it.
   Next, if you are a peeler, go ahead and peel the carrots. It does make for a prettier dish, but I wouldn't hesitate to skip this step. Just scrub them well, and slice them into thin rounds.
  Heat the oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. I used olive oil as the original recipe suggested, but will probably use coconut oil next time. Throw in the urud dal, and when it starts to color throw in the mustard seeds and dried chilies.  When the mustard seeds start to pop (after a few seconds) throw in the carrots, ginger and salt. Stir it around for a bit until well mixed. 
  Add 3-4 T. of water and cover the pan. Simmer until the carrots are tender. I like my carrots on the crunchy side, so I used only 3T. of water.
   Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut and cilantro. Mix and serve with a wedge of lime.

You could try this recipe with other vegetables too. I remember eating something like this with pumpkin/squash, and I bet it would be a fantastic way to do green beans.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

   I made this soup at the last minute for dinner last night. I needed something I could make quickly before heading out the door to my pottery class. I already had some roasted squash in the refrigerator, so I decided on a creamy soup. I figured that if I needed to, I could easily put the soup in my thermos and drink it when I got to class. It was so good that I didn't want to wait, so I decided to be a little late. A decision I don't take lightly.
   I remade it this morning so that I could write it down and share it. You will have to start with some leftover roasted squash, or allow time for roasting. I used butternut here.
   Winter squash is at it's peak right now (in New England anyway), so I didn't want too much interference with its sweet nutty flavor. I kept it simple. The almond milk keeps it vegan and adds extra sweetness and creaminess, and the cinnamon and nutmeg add warmth and comfort, but it is the squash that shines here.

serves 3-4

1lb. of roasted butternut squash
1 T. olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 of a medium onion chopped
1/2 of a carrot chopped
1/2 of a stalk of celery chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
1 3/4c. water 
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste
1c. almond milk (it is best if you make your own)
few grinds of black pepper
toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish (optional)

If you don't have leftover squash, cut a squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut side with olive oil, and place it cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees until tender (30-40 mins.)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Saute the onion, carrot and celery until tender (a few minutes). Add the salt and the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. 
Add the water, spices and roasted squash. Bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the almond milk. Remove the pan from the heat when hot, but not boiling.
Puree in a blender and serve.

I like to top it with some pumpkin seeds for added crunch, nutrition and flavor.
A dash of cayenne would be good here too.

Just Me

fun fall window box

  If you read the first post introducing this blog, you are probably wondering where my friend and blog partner Margaret is. Well, the last time I saw her she was perched on a chair going head first through her kitchen window.

   We had just spent a lovely morning sitting outside one of our favorite restaurants enjoying a cup of tea.  We were lucky enough to have caught one of those rare warm sunny fall days that appear and disappear this time of year, until they give way completely to the cold of winter, making every ray of sun something to savor.

   We were on our way home when she realized she didn't have her keys. I was driving, and when I had picked her up her husband was home, so she had no need for her keys to drive or to lock the door behind her. Of course shortly thereafter, her husband left for the day. Isn't it funny how the brain remembers something we forgot to do without our thinking about it. So it was. It just came to her. "I think I forgot my keys". Sure enough, she searched her pockets and found no keys. Luckily one of her windows was not yet in permanent lock down for the season, and we were able to break in. I held the chair. She hoisted herself through the window.

   Have you ever locked yourself out? It's a terrible feeling to be locked out, to be denied entrance to the safety of one's own shelter. I haven't done it recently because my door requires being locked from the outside with a key, but because arriving home having lost or left my keys elsewhere is a possibility, I keep an extra key in a secure location.

   While Margaret and I still meet regularly for tea, it became apparent that she doesn't have time to post on this blog. She would really like to, but found that at the end of the day it just wasn't possible. I know I can still count on her support and inspiration, and I am ever so grateful that she got me into this, but she won't be posting any time soon. I guess that means that your stuck with just me. I will do my best.

  I hope that this blog in some way lets those with cancer know that they are not alone, and that yes, cancer is scary, but it's not the end of life. I like to say that cancer may kill me, but it's not going to ruin my life. And for everyone else reading (cancer or not) let's eat and get to know each other.



Monday, November 2, 2015

Miso Kale Soup or My Cold Remedy Soup

  I have a cold- drippy nose, scratchy throat, achey head, miserable cough kind of cold. It used to be a rare thing for me to get any kind of common illness, (I seem to hold out for the big ones- like cancer) but since two rounds of chemo has left me with a couch potato of an immune system, I'm not surprised that a few germs were able to slip through the door and wreck viral havoc on my house. 
   Tired and cranky, I am putting everything I can into getting better quickly, starting with this soup. This is my most powerful cold remedy. It is full of antimicrobial immune enhancing garlic, making it a good one to keep in mind as the winter months approach. I just hope associating it with a cold remedy does not put you off, because its robust flavor is delicious.
   The  construction of this soup is so simple that I put it together any time I feel the need for an immune boost, or just want a strong hit of garlic to excite my palate. Be warned, the garlic lingers. I usually reserve this soup for days when I will be spending a lot of time alone.

   This soup is finished in a blender. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like, but I make it on the smooth side so that I can curl my hands around a warm mug of it, and sip it while sitting on the couch.

Here is the recipe:
Serves 4 4c. water
4-5 fat cloves of garlic
1 large bunch of kale roughly chopped
1/2tsp. salt (or to taste)
3 scallions roughly chopped
3T. + 1tsp. white miso paste (or to taste)
2T. + 1tsp. olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
black pepper
flax oil to garnish (optional)

   Bring the 4 c. of water to a boil with the 1/2 tsp. of salt in a medium saucepan. Drop the peeled garlic into the boiling water and let blanch for 1-2 minutes. One minute will leave a bite, two will leave it more mellow. I like it somewhere in between.  Remove it with a slotted spoon. Keep the water boiling.
   Next plunge the kale into the boiling water. You will need to push it down with the spoon until it is all submerged and wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and throw in the scallions. Give it a stir and let it cool for a few minutes. The kale will continue to cook during this time. 
   Next put the garlic and the remaining ingredients into the pan (oil, miso, pepper,red pepper) and transfer/ dump it all into your blender. Blend until it is the desired consistency.
Taste it and adjust if needed. Top it off with a bit of flax seed oil for added health benefits. Serve. 
whole wheat orecchiette

Serve it over some whole wheat pasta
or add a soft poached egg (breaking the egg to enrich the broth)
Reheat gently over medium low heat. You should never boil miso. Boiling destroys the beneficial bacteria.