Comforting Borscht Soup

IMG_1410.JPG

I was reminded recently of this recipe in The Nourished Belly Diet, and being deep January in Berkeley (which, yes it’s cold here, particularly because houses in Northern California do NOT have great insulation) this is the perfect recipe. Borscht has an interesting history. I had always associated Borscht with Russia, but it was originally created in what is now Ukraine, was made with a parsnip rather than red beetroots, and in later forms also had a bit of a tangy taste due to some fermentation. It’s a good reminder to add a bit of sauerkraut to add some tanginess and some healthy probiotics. Borscht was also originally associated with peasant food, which as I dive deeper into traditional healthy foods, it’s always those with little means that instinctively knew how to make foods that held deep nutrition.

The first time I made this soup, I was working on a farm on the central coast of California and one of my roommates was a Russian girl named Liz. Although she had spent much of her childhood in the Bay Area, she still had a strong connection with her roots. I’m grateful to her for helping me adapt this simple recipe. Beets are extremely nutrient rich, and their beautiful magenta color is a sign of that, although you could use golden beets as well. Beets are full of minerals, are great for the liver, and they add a natural sweetness that most palates enjoy. It’s hard to mess up, and you can throw in just about anything you have in your fridge.

Ingredients

(feeds 8)  

1–2 pounds beef shank or short ribs

1 pat butter or beef tallow (optional)

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

2 medium potatoes, chopped

2 cups sliced cabbage

4 medium beets, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

½ 24-ounce jar stewed tomatoes

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

sea salt and black pepper, to taste


For the optional garnish:

(mixed together or separate)

½ cup minced parsley

½ cup green onions

½ cup yogurt or sour cream

½ cup sauerkraut

 

Directions:

1) If using a Crock-Pot, before going to bed, place the beef shank or short ribs in the Crock-Pot and cover with water. Turn on low.  If using the stovetop, place the beef shank or short ribs in a large stockpot and cover with water. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1 hour.

2) Optional: Sauté vegetables for added flavor in a pat of butter or beef tallow.

Or, skip step 4 and add the onion, potatoes, cabbage, beets, and carrots straight to the stockpot or Crock-Pot.

3) Add the tomatoes.

4) If using a Crock-Pot, set it on low for at least 4–6 hours and you are free to leave the house!

5) If using a stockpot, simmer on low for roughly 50 minutes. When a fork goes through beets easily, it’s done!

6) Add salt and pepper.

7) Serve with parsley, green onions, yogurt or sour cream and sauerkraut, if using. Mix the garnishes together or use them separately, as desired.


 



 

Almost Paleo Chocolate Chip Muffins

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

As I've explored what it means to eat healthy whole foods, I've realized that gluten doesn't always make me feel great.  When I eat too much bread, I tend to get super bloated, but I do love a yummy baked good once in a while.  I don't keep white flour in my pantry anymore, and I honestly don't bake all that much, cause I do see baked goods as an indulgence.   When I do bake, I bake with coconut flour.  It doesn't have gluten, which acts as a binding protein, so you need to make sure you add a binder, which in this recipe, is a bunch of eggs!  

I think I have finally perfected this recipe.  I've have made this before just as flat brownies, but there is something great about single serving muffins.  They are also great with ice cream, and I made them for a birthday cake once and they were a total hit!  

I call them almost paleo muffins, because they do have chocolate chips, which are made with cane sugar.  For me, I'm not strictly paleo, so I don't mind, but if you are keeping strict, then these might not be for you!  These are a once in awhile treat!  

You'll need a muffin tin and muffin cups (Are they called muffin cups?  You know what I mean....)

Ingredients (makes 10 muffins)

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips 

1 cup coconut flour

1/4 cocoa powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

8 organic eggs

1 cup coconut milk 

1 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 cup shredded coconut 

Directions:

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. 

3) Take a small saucepan and melt 1 cup coconut oil.  

4) Add coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut milk, and vanilla.  Mix well.    

5) Add coconut flour, cinnamon, salt, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix well.    

6) Fold in chocolate chips 

7)  Prepare muffin tin with muffin cups, and using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, fill each one with roughly 1/4 cup.  

8)  Sprinkle each muffin with coconut shreds.

9)   Bake for 15 minutes.  

Cool and serve!  Enjoy!  

Coconut Squash Soup

You know the seasons are changing when, aside from the foliage reflecting hues of crimson, brown, and gold, the stands at your favorite grocery store or farmers market are bursting with these warm colors. This beautiful time of year brings all things warm and cozy, including delicious and warming recipes. One of my favorites? Squash! A vegetable, originating in Central America that was originally cultivated for its seeds, is now found in recipes around the world and a favorite thanks to its rich, sweet flavor!

Squash is a chi-tonic and warming food, which makes it medicinal to many areas of the body including the stomach, spleen, and large intestine. Packed with generous amounts of nutrients, these vegetables are a GREAT source of natural sweetness, carbohydrates (providing starch), and alpha and beta-carotenes. The unique carotenoid complex along with the significant amount of Vitamin C (about 1/3 cup of recommended daily value in every cup) makes them a winning choice with their high level of antioxidant support. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber.

Now, would you have ever thought these superfood vegetables would have been a part of the melon family? Well… they are. Squash actually belongs to the melon and gourd family or Curcurbitaceae. A wide variety of squash including acorn, butternut, pumpkin, kabocha, and others accompany many other family members including cucumber, zucchini, pear, watermelon, and so on. Feeding humanity for centuries, the origin of this families many members, span the world.

Unlike summer squash, winter squash is eaten when fully matured. They are available from August through March, but are best when in their peak season- October through November. When choosing yours, look for one heavy for weight with a firm rind. Soft rinds can be an indication that the squash is watery and has little to no flavor. A good squash will be overflowing with delicious, rich flavor. Also check for soft spots or signs of decay, for these blemishes can manifest and spoil the entire vegetable.

Another unique characteristic of squash is their ability to act as the main starch component of a meal. With about 90% of its calories coming from starch, we recognize squash is a very starchy vegetable. Now, I know what you may be thinking. Isn’t that… maybe... not the greatest? On the contrary! Research shows that not all starch is the same and with this starch in particular, there are great health benefits including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and insulin-regulating properties. Remember, it is important to eat these vegetables with a healthy fat to ensure maximum nutrient absorption! I recommend organic grass fed butter and coconut oil….yum.

The transition into the Autumn and Winter seasons, bring a chilly breeze, cozy sweaters, and kitchens filled with captivating aromas. That means… it’s time to head to the kitchen! Check out Tammy's favorite recipe below! Some of my favorites include Spaghetti Squash, Beet & Brussels and Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Kale. Take a look at these other fall recipes and try experimenting with different flavors at home!

Written by Ashley Green for The Nourished Belly

Fall is the time for winter squash.  These really are such a treat.  For this soup, you can use any squash, but Kabocha is one of my favorites.  You can even mix them together!  I prefer to steam kabocha, since it can be dry if roasted.  However, if using another squash such as butternut or acorn, roasting will bring out a sweetness that will be lost in steaming.  Simply cut the squash in half, place on a baking sheet face down, and bake for approx 40 minutes!

Coconut Squash Soup 

Serves 4

Ingredients

Coconut Squash Soup

1 medium squash (butternut, kabocha, acorn, or delicata work great!)

1 quart bone broth/veggie broth/water 

1/2 can Native Forest Coconut Milk 

1 medium onion

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger 

sea salt to taste 

pinch of cinnamon (optional)

handful of cilantro/parsley and pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Directions

1)   Cut Kabocha squash in half , and take out seeds.  Put them in the compost.

2)   Cut into large cubes, you’ll blend everything together later, you just want the pieces to cook quicker.

3)   In a large pot, place kabocha cubes with 1 inch of water.  Put over medium heat.  Cover.

4)   When the water starts to steam, turn down heat and cook for 10 minutes or until a fork slides through easily. 

5)   While the squash is steaming, slice onions into slices and heat a sauté pan on medium heat. 

6)   Place coconut oil or butter in the pan and put in onions and minced ginger.  Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

7)   Once kabocha is finished, add in onions, ginger, chicken broth and the coconut milk. 

8)   Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. 

9)   Simmer for another 10 minutes.  Add filtered water if you desire a more liquid consistency, or more coconut milk. 

10)        Add salt to taste and serve with cilantro/parsley or pumpkin seeds

 

Sources

- Wood, R., Pitchford, P., Markel, P. (2010). The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: An A to Z of Selection, Preparation and Storage for More Than 1000 Common and Uncommon Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Herbs. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

- Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods: The Most Comprehensive, User-friendly A to Z Guide Available on the Nutritional benefits and Medicinal Properties of Food. New York, NY: Atria Books.

- Organic For All, Inc. The Cucurnitaceae Family. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://www.organicsforall.org/vegetables5.htm

- Drummond, R. (2013, Nov 11). Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Kale. Retrieved from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/11/roasted-spaghetti-squash-with-kale/

- J Dean. (2013, Oct 5). Spaghetti Squash, Beets & Brussels. Retrieved from http://www.deliciouslivingnutrition.com/spaghetti-squash-beet-brussels/

- George Mateljan Foundation. Squash, Winter. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63

Making Ghee

Ghee

Ghee is used widely in Indian cooking, and is used in various religious ceremonies.  It’s made by simmering butter, which evaporates the moisture (butter can be 18% water) and causes the milk solids to sink to the bottom.  Therefore,  some people who are lactose intolerant, are able to tolerate ghee as opposed to butter.  Clarified butter is made in a similar manner, but not simmered as long.  In ghee, the milk solids are browned which give it a nuttier taste.

Ghee is regarded as anti-inflammatory and is said to boost memory.  In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to cure a whole host of ailments, from treating burns to aiding in digestion.

Ghee is ideal for frying since the smoke point (when molecules start to break down) is 482 degrees F.  It is probably the only oil that I would feel comfortable using in deep frying.  It does not need to be refrigerated, and can last about 6 months in a cool dark place.  With refrigeration, it can last up to a year.  Be careful not to add any moisture as this will cause spoilage.

Since it is so simple and relatively quick to make, I don't make large batches at once.  I use it pretty frequently, so I keep it in my pantry, which keeps it soft and easy to scoop out.  Note: I have noticed that after a few months, it loses its nutty aroma and starts to smell stale, so I try to use it regularly.

How to Make Ghee

Makes 1 pint

2 sticks unsalted organic butter

1)  In a saucepan, heat butter on low until it starts to simmer.  A white foam will rise to the top and it should start to bubble. 

2) Check every few minutes and stir occasionally. 

3) You will start to see white milk solids cling to the bottom of the pan. 

4) When they turn nice, golden brown (in about 10 minutes) the ghee is done!  

Some say the aroma is like popcorn, but to me it smells like a buttery croissant.  Careful not to burn the solids on the bottom as this will affect the flavor.  You can also simmer with different herbs to add flavor:  thyme, rosemary, basil and garlic are good options.  Strain and place in a glass jar, opaque if possible, but otherwise store in a cool dark place.  Some people sprinkle the browned milk solids on toast or over potatoes.  Use frequently and feel proud that you make it yourself!

 

References

Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig, Ph.D. (2001) Nourishing Traditions. Washington D.C.: New Trends Publishing

Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: ATRIA Books.

Wood, Rebecca. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  New York.  Penguin Books.

 

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER – This website (including any/all site pages, blog posts, blog comments, forum, etc.) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have an urgent medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader’s discretion. Tammy Chang and The Nourished Belly are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this website and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this website.

How to Make Bone Broth

If you want ONE thing you can do to improve your health….this might be it.   Save your chicken bones.  Make your own stock.  Bone broth is one of the most amazing foods you can add to your diet.  Truly.

bone broth

Traditionally, bone broth has been used throughout cultures as an ailment for the weak and the sick, and throughout culinary traditions as a way of adding flavor and depth to a dish.  It’s a win/win!  In ancient cultures, bones and organ meats were prized more than meat itself.  They are the most nutrient dense parts of an animal, and therefore, the most nutritious for us.

Benefits of Bone Broth

  • High in Minerals:  Due to the current food supply and the American state of health, most people are deficient in minerals.  Minerals are just as important as vitamins to our daily bodily functions.  Bones are a power house of minerals, and through prolonged simmering, we are able to extract all of these precious nutrients.  Thomas Cowan, author of A Fourfold Path to Healing, suggests that adding bone broth to our diet is the fastest way to rebuild our mineral deposits.
  • An Important Source of Gelatin: Gelatin is extracted collagen and an extremely soothing and nourishing food.  It is an excellent digestive aid and it’s extremely healing to our gut, our nervous system and for our entire body.  This is the original reason that jello is served in hospitals.  Patients were served a gelatin based food, but in the words of Jessica Prentice, worker owner at Three Stone Hearth, the jello served nowadays to patients is a “toxic mimic” of tradition.
  • High in Protein:  Included in the large amino acid profile of bone broth are glycine and proline.
    • Glycine is necessary in creating glucose when we are in need of more energy and is vital in supporting our detoxification pathways (thus, cleansing with only bone broth is a great idea.)
    • Proline is essential for the production of collagen, which helps us maintain healthy skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

 

Making Your Own Bone Broth

Making your own broth is less time consuming than you might think, and if you have the proper tools (i.e. a crock pot!) it is extremely simple.  First off, save your bones in the freezer.  Of course, quality always matters, so at the very least you should be buying organic meats with the bone.  You can also go to the butcher and ask for bones, they are pretty inexpensive for the amount of nutrition that they provide.

Once you have a nice bag of bones, you are welcome to mix them, but I usually separate chicken from other meats due to flavor.  Place them in a large stock pot and cover with water (preferably filtered) and add a splash of apple cider vinegar.  The vinegar helps to pull the minerals out of the bones.

Temperature and simmering length are important.  The broth should be kept at a simmer, too high of heat will destroy the gelatin.   I personally leave the pot covered on a low flame over night and when I am out of the house.  The only incident I’ve run into is when I left a window open and the flame went out.  Another option is to leave the stock pot in the oven on 200.  However, if you have a crock pot, you don’t need to worry about any of this!  A crock pot has literally changed the way I cook in the kitchen, so I highly recommend you get one.  They are inexpensive and for busy people, they are invaluable.

Ingredients: (Makes roughly 3-4 quarts)

1-2 lbs of bones 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped 

4 carrots (you can include tops) roughly chopped 

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves 

Directions: 

1) Place the bones at the bottom of a stockpot or Crock-Pot, covering the bones with filtered water.

2) Add the apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will help to pull the minerals from the bones.

3) Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

4) Follow the cooking times below: Bones should be easily crushed, this means you’ve extracted as much as you can out of them!

 Fish (keep the fish heads!): no more than 6 hours

Chicken: 12–24 hours

Lamb and goat: 36 hours

Pork and beef: 36–48 hours

5) For the last 4 hours of cooking, add the onion, carrots, celery, and any other vegetables of your choosing! Using a strainer, funnel the broth into jars. Freeze some (label with the date and kind of broth) and keep some in the fridge for immediate use! 

 

If the bones you are using have a nice amount of collagen and you've kept it at a nice low temperature, the broth should gel nicely when cooled.  This is a sign that it is gelatin rich.  Great job!

So get started!  Start saving your bones!  Or get a whole chicken and use the carcass.  I just used the turkey carcass to make an amazing stock….the holidays are a great time to try it out!

References:

Cowan, Thomas.  (2004) The Fourfold Path to Healing. United States; New Trends Publishing

Fallon, Sally.  (2000, Jan 1)  Broth is Beautiful.  Wise Traditions. Retrieved from http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/broth-is-beautiful

Prentice, Jessica. (2006) Full Moon Feast; Food and the Hunger for Connection. Vermont; Chelsea Green.