A Clear View

Today and tomorrow I am doing a mini-cleanse. I am only eating two foods at each meal. While this sounds boring, it is very beneficial for the digestive system to take a rest from sorting out how to digest a bunch of different foods, especially if our system is sensitive. And, there is no starvation involved in this cleanse; it is nourishing as well as healing.

There is a lot going on for people right now, and a lot of information out there to be ‘digested’. Not only does our body have to digest and assimilate all the food that we eat, but our system must also digest and assimilate all of our experiences, including what we read or pictures we see. It is healthy to give our bodies a rest. Eating simply allows this to happen. As the physical body has less to deal with, the energy can be turned to digesting other layers of stimuli and information, preventing back-up and overwhelm.

I made a big pot of Kitcharee (I’ve written about this dish in other posts) – a one-pot meal developed in India. Sometimes I use more spices, like in the recipe I gave previously. But this time I made a simpler dish, using only turmeric – the amazing spice with powerhouse health and anti-inflammatory properties – and pepper. A little pepper tastes wonderful with turmeric, and it  assists the body in deriving top benefits from it.

I also made a delicious soup. At each meal, I have a bowl of Kitcharee that I heat in my cast iron skillet with a little ghee, and a big mug of my soup, which is so creamy and nice to drink from a mug. This soup is very healing and nourishing, with a bone broth base offering many amino acids and minerals that the body can use to repair itself, as needed.

If you decide to do a little cleanse, we can cheers our mugs together, virtually.

Using a journal can be very helpful when we cleanse. Thoughts and emotions may surface, and writing about them makes it easy to sort them out, or release them. This time of year supports the practice of letting go of what no longer serves us on the levels of body, mind and spirit. Just as the trees let go of their leaves in glorious bursts of color, we too can shed old layers with beauty and grace.

To make the Kitcharee:

1 cup uncooked organic basmati rice – soaked (Soak your rice in water for around 24 hours to make it easier to digest.Just before cooking, drain the water you soaked it in, leaving only the rice)

1 cup  green mung dahl – soaked (Same process as with the rice) This legume can be found in the bulk section of a good health food store. It is the easiest lentil type food to digest.

5 tablespoons organic ghee

3 tablespoons organic turmeric

one half tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

8 cups pure water

To prepare:

In a big stockpot, melt the ghee over low heat.

Add the turmeric and pepper, continually stirring. When the mixture has a paste-like quality, add the rice, stirring it in well. Stir in the mung beans. Add the water and salt  and turn the heat up to high. Allow the mixture to boil for about three minutes, then cover and turn the heat down. Simmer for around forty-five minutes, until the water is gone and you have a soft porridge.

For dinner on the two days of my cleanse,  I saute some zucchini in a little coconut oil to have with the meal.

To make the soup:

First make broth, which is a 24-hour process, but quite easy.

Use quality, grass-fed beef bones. Neck bones with a little meat work well.  Roast 3 or 4 bones in the oven at 325 for 30 minutes, to bring out a good flavor. It’s fine if bones have meat on them, this is good. Place bones in large soup pot and cover with a quart and a cup of filtered water.  Add a tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Let it sit without heat for a half hour. The vinegar will begin to pull minerals from the bones.

Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then turn the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 24-30 hours.

24-30 hours later…

Cut two butternut squashes into a couple inch long cubes, no peel. Toss these in melted ghee to lightly coat them. Roast squash for forty minutes at 375, stirring with a spatula after twenty minutes.

When squash has fifteen minutes left, put four cloves of garlic in their peels on a sheet and stick in the oven.

Squish the garlic out of the peel and into a blender with a cup or two of the broth. Add some roasted squash – you will probably have to do it in batches – and puree until creamy.

Pour this into a crock pot. Add a few pinches sea salt.

Simmer on low for four hours.

Both the soup and the kitcharee can be stored in the fridge and warmed up over the stove as needed.

A pic of my mug of soup, and one from the hike we did last month. A figurative new viewpoint is likely after we complete a cleanse. A clear view is inspiring.

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When Springtime throws you a Wintry Day

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Springtime in the Pacific Northwest is never predictable. Last week my five-year old and I met friends at the beach for a sunny day that satisfied my Vitamin D craving, and more; today, the sky is characteristic grey, a cold wind is making the leaves shimmy, and I think it may rain.

When I saw today in the forecast, I was actually happy. A soup day!

I had been a pescatarian for a very long time – almost twenty-five years – when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This means that the only meat I ate was fish, on occasion. But, after the diagnosis, I quit eating gluten completely and after so many years of being mainly vegetarian, I realized that I just may need some animal products. The healing protocol I designed for myself, based on the amalgamation of many experts, included bone broth soup.

This week is my two-year mark of being 100% gluten free, and I feel so much better that it still feels like a miracle. If you’re interested in exactly why I cut the gluten, check out my earlier post entitled “The Gluten Piece.” Here, I will only say that while some are still skeptical whether leaky gut syndrome  exists, I am convinced that it is quite real, and able to be healed.

In essence, leaky gut is when the wall of our small intestine becomes compromised due to food sensitivities. When the intestinal wall is irritated, it can become more porous than it should be. Small particles escape into the bloodstream and alert our immune systems, leading to inflammation, and if left unchecked, autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s. Modern day gluten causes food sensitivity in some people, due to its difficulty to break down by the digestive system. I say ‘modern day’ because the gluten we eat is not the same product that our grandparent’s ate, but that’s another subject altogether.

If you’re not sure if this applies to you, I invite you to cut gluten out of your diet – 100% – there is absolutely no grey area on this one. Give yourself about a week, and then check in with yourself. Have any digestion issues improved, even somewhat? Have you noticed a difference in your energy levels, even subtle? If so, you may want to continue your gluten fast, and work on repairing your gut.

Bone broth is a powerhouse in this respect. Homemade bone broth contains numerous minerals and amino acids that are readily usable by the body to restore damaged tissue in the small intestine, connective tissues, and other organs. It is a truly healing food – I can attest to this firsthand after healing from the state of total exhaustion and inflammation resulting in daily hives – to a state of wellness I have never experienced in my life. The bone broth has been one component in my healing, and an important one. Using organic ingredients whenever possible is important, to minimize chemicals and toxins. I still eat meat rarely, having been vegetarian for so long. But the broth can be amazing in veggie soups too!

As the Mother of two kids – my little girl is eight and my son is five – and the wife of a big, hungry man, my soups have come in handy. Tonight, my family will enjoy a beef soup that has been simmering in the crock pot all day.

Here is the recipe. If you get handed a Wintry day this Spring, give it a try.

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Bone Broth

4 or 5 Grass-fed beef marrow or neck bones (organic if possible)

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

12 cups filtered water

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 pinches black pepper

To prepare:

Bake the bones in an oven heated to 350 for 30 minutes to improve flavor. Place bones in a large stock pot along with the water and vinegar. Allow to soak for 20 minutes to extract minerals. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Boil for three or four minutes and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 12 to 24 hours. Pour broth through a strainer so that only the liquid remains.

 

Wintry Day Beef Soup

2 large red onions

8 peeled cloves garlic

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

Lots of fresh thyme

One pound steak cut grass-fed beef chunks

4 large yams

4 large zucchini

2 cups baby carrots

Coconut oil

To prepare:

Cut sweet potatoes and zucchini into large, bit-sized chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in skillet. Add carrots and fry on medium heat for fifteen minutes. Pour bone broth into crock pot. Add vegetables, including garlic and and basil. Turn crock pot on high.

Cut onion into long pieces. Warm onions on low in 2 tablespoons coconut oil in skillet. When onions become translucent, add beef and sprigs of thyme, and fry until beef is cooked on the outside, adding a couple pinches of salt. Place meat and onions into soup. Add 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves and stir well.

Cook soup on high heat for six hours. Serve to someone you love, and let the healing begin!

 

Autumn: The Season of Soup and Spice

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I love this time of year in the Northern hemisphere: as the wind grows cooler and the leaves become tinged with the colors of warmth, the Crock pot reappears on my counter, diffusing the scent of spice and delight into the air.

One year ago I was in the middle of my elimination cleanse. After a lifetime of eating a gluten and sugar-rich diet, I constructed my cleanse over the course of a year. Gentle makes sense to me, when dealing with an issue as sensitive as what we eat. Everything we ingest goes through the process by which our cells are built – they regenerate, on average, every seven years. This regeneration process is constant, and the very fabric of our bodies – the cells- are fed by the nutrients extracted from what we eat.

And so, changing our diet, means we are changing ourselves. This metamorphosis requires much support.

In September of 2014 I eliminated practically everything from my diet, including: gluten, sugar, processed foods of any kind- only whole foods were allowed, meaning only ingredient lists of one ingredient.  Recipes such as the one offered here, were allowed, because they were homemade using whole ingredients -no store bought sauces or spice blends.

Soups felt like life-savers.  The healing properties in this soup fortified my weakened small intestine and made me stronger than I have been in many, many years. Allergies, autoimmune conditions, fatigue and thyroid disorders will all be pacified when the gut is strong. Thus, this soup is a powerhouse of healing.

Using homemade bone broth for the stock is where you get the deepest healing value. Slow cooking animal bones extracts minerals that are rejuvenating for our digestive system, cells, and connective tissue. The collagen in the broth literally heals us, from the inside out.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Cooking it on low heat with the ghee releases the healing properties of this amazing spice. Cinnamon, while adding flavor perfect for this season, also has the power to bust through candida, and kill it. (Candida is out-of-control sugar in the gut- a problem many of us in today’s world face.)

So, put your music on, light your scented candle and savor the Autumn season with this healing soup.

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

4 or 5 beef neck bones – make sure the beef is grass fed

9 cups filtered water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. Place bones on a glass baking dish and bake them for 30 minutes to extract flavor. Place roasted bones into a large soup pot. Pour water over the bones. Add the apple cider vinegar – this helps extract the minerals from the bones. Bring pot to a boil. After five minutes of boiling, turn the heat to low and add salt. Allow the bones to cook on low for around 20 hours. You can also use a Crock pot for this process.

Autumn Healing Soup

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

2 organic sweet onions

3 tablespoons organic ghee

1 tablespoon organic turmeric

2 cups homemade beef broth

1 can organic coconut milk

2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon organic cinammon

1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

Peel and cube the squash. Steam the squash until easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, cut onions into long slices. Warm ghee in a frying pan (cast iron is the best) and add the turmeric. Warm the ghee and turmeric over a low heat, stirring. When they are blended into a paste, add the onions. Cook onions on low until they are translucent and soft. Place the softened squash, the onions and the broth into a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Place this puree into a Crock pot. Add coconut milk, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Simmer the soup on low for three or four hours.

Enjoy, and be healed!

Bone Broth Saves The Day

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After eliminating various key players from my diet, including sugar, gluten and dairy, I was no stranger to will power and cleansing. But, what really saved the day and eradicated the daily hives, had nothing to do with denying myself anything. Instead, it had to do with adding something.

For me, true healing came down to the bone broth. I know that cleansing prepared my body to receive – to reap the benefits of the broth. But the step in my year to heal that made the biggest difference in how I felt (and looked) was this simple soup.

I always found it so silly that when someone was ill, the neighbors brought warmed Campbell’s soup. I never liked that stuff and I strongly doubted its ability to heal anything. I was right – it doesn’t. But the idea behind this custom is solid, and comes from a distant time when canned soup was not yet a reality. If one wanted broth, one made it from scratch.

Homemade bone broth soup is a powerhouse of healing. For real.

I had eaten what I called ‘the mermaid diet’ for twenty years – no meat, except wild-caught fish, vegetables – and lots of gluten. For some reason, I never questioned the gluten, even though now that I think about it, a virtual mermaid would not be eating french bread. But, I saw it as an innocuous food substance that didn’t require questioning. Bread, bagels, pasta – I took them all as just part of being alive. Turns out, eating gluten in every meal was not helping – it was actually harming my intestinal tract. But that’s another post.

The point here is that since I ate no meat, there were important amino acids that my body was missing. The beauty part is I still don’t have to chew steak if I don’t want to (I don’t know why the thought horrifies me). I do have to be very aware of getting enough protein. I eat nuts, seeds, salmon and avocados often. I have also added eggs to the roster.

But, the tonifying and strengthening aspects of meat, I can drink. On a Winter’s day, a hot mug of steamy bone broth has replaced my afternoon coffee, and my entire body has thanked me.

In a past post I discussed the phenomena of intestinal permeability – or the ‘leaky guy’, and how this condition contributes to autoimmunity and allergies. This is where bone broth comes in and saves the day, just like a super hero. The elements in the bone broth actually heal the intestinal wall. The collagen fortifies the all-important barrier between your GI tract and your bloodstream. Your GI tract hosts many things from the outside world, from food to bacteria to dust – and when functioning right, your intestinal wall kicks out the bad guests, right down through the colon and out. But, when it is NOT functioning at its best, this wall lets junk into your blood. Not good, right?

Enter bone broth. Time to fortify that wall. Time to strengthen, from the inside out.

My hives have gone, never to return. This alone feels like a miracle. They left during the 30 day period I spent last September, eating NO sugar whatsoever, and drinking PLENTY of bone broth. This was no coincidence.

I feel stronger, with more energy. The easily digestible amino acids and Vitamin B that is found in the broth gave my body just what it had been looking for – for years. My skin glows. I am forty years old, yet my skin has taken on a youthful glow, since starting the broth.

And, if you don’t like the flavor, don’t worry. You can hide the broth in sauces, soups or stews. Come to find out, fine French cuisine calls for bone broth to make most of its sauces.

How do I make mine, you may ask. Easy.

1. Buy quality grass-fed beef bones. Marrow bones are fabulous.

2. Roast a few bones in the oven at 400, to bring out a yummy flavor.

3. Place bones in large soup pot and cover with a generous amount of filtered water.

4. Add a couple tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

5. Let it sit without heat for a half hour. The vinegar will begin to pull minerals from the bones.

6. Add lots of garlic cloves, a few halved onions, sea salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes.

7. Turn the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 30 hours. Yep, 30.

8. Strain the broth through a wire mesh, into mason jars.

9. Keep in fridge for a week, heating some up as needed.

10. Drink or cook with it, and watch yourself grow younger before your eyes.

I will soon post some recipes I have created, using the broth. Cheers!