Sprouted Italian White Beans & Greens

This dish requires a bit of forethought, but not that much work, and the result is pure yum.  I serve these beans and greens over Italian-seasoned polenta, but you can enjoy them on their own, too.  I always make enough to have leftovers, because this dish is just as good (if not better) reheated.

Sprouting beans before cooking them lowers phytic acid levels, makes the beans far more digestible, and also improves their taste.

Sprouted Italian White Beans & Greens

Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup white beans I prefer cannellini but any white bean will do.
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning dried
  • 1 3 inch piece of kombu seaweed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms you could substitute a half cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes I use frozen ones from my garden, but feel free to use whatever you have, and peel and dice them. Save the peels in the freezer for broth.
  • 1 tsp lemon zest from an organic lemon
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • 6-8 cups kale or spinach lightly chopped. If using kale, remove all the hard stems.
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or asiago cheese optional
  • sprinkle aleppo pepper optional
  • sprinkle black pepper optional

Instructions
 

  • Start this recipe at least a day before you plan to make it.  To begin, soak the cup of dried beans in 3-4 cups of filtered water for 8-12 hours (I usually soak them overnight).  Then drain off the soaking water, rinse and drain, and leave on the counter.  You can use a colander to drain the beans, but I find it easier to use a quart canning jar with a cover like this.  Rinse and drain the beans every few hours until you start to see a little tail forming on the beans.  This means they are starting to sprout, and you can cook them then or refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.  They will keep in the fridge like this up to 3 days.  
  • Put the sprouted beans in a pot and cover with filtered water. Add the garlic, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, and kombu. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the beans are fully cooked. Start checking them after 15 minutes, because sprouted beans tend to cook much faster than non-sprouted ones. Note how lovely they smell while cooking!  
  • Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, and add the onions. Cook until softened, and then add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and become limp. Add the tomatoes, lemon zest, and salt. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
  • When the beans are cooked, strain off the cooking liquid (but save it for later use) and add the beans to the cooked vegetables. Put the greens in the pan, give it a quick stir, and cover, allowing it to cook until the greens wilt. If using kale, let it cook for an extra couple of minutes so the kale softens a bit more.
  • To serve, put in bowls and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over each dish, then a teaspoon of lemon juice. Optional: sprinkle with freshly grated cheese, black pepper, and aleppo pepper.

This is an adaptation of a recipe by Rebecca Katz – you can find the original here.

Have you sprouted beans before cooking them?  If so, let me know about your experience in the comments!

Healing Bone Broth

I’ve been reading a lot lately about improving gut health (specifically, Dr. Josh Axe’s Eat Dirt, which is fascinating), and for years, I’ve been recommending bone broth to friends, family, and clients.  Bone broth is great not just for gut healing, but also boosting immunity, general healing, and even beauty!  After writing the recipe half a dozen times this winter, I realized:  this really belongs on my blog.

I was first introduced to bone broth a decade ago, when I moved back to my home state of South Dakota and into a farm house I rented from my parents.  The house had a giant freezer in the basement, and because my parents run a hunting lodge, the freezer had several shelves filled with frozen pheasants.

I was a vegetarian at the time, and to put it mildly, the sight of a bunch of dead birds in the freezer did not spark joy for me.  Freezing produce from my garden did, however, so in order to make room for the vegetables, I thought maybe I could use some of the pheasant.  But, since I didn’t really eat meat, and I didn’t have any desire to start, I thawed out a few birds, cut out the breasts and gave them to my mother to cook, and I put the carcasses in a big stainless steel pot with water and vegetables and proceeded to cook them.  I’d previously relied on homemade vegetable broth to make soups… but when I tasted the pheasant bone broth, I was a changed woman.

My vegetarianism went out the window, and over that summer, I converted all those birds into delicious, nourishing broth.  One of my go-to recipes has always been Rebecca Katz’s Chicken Magic Mineral Broth, which I first discovered in her (amazing, life-changing) cookbook, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.  Despite not having cancer, that cookbook has been my favorite for the last decade, and the recipes in it are ones I return to (and recommend to others) every day.

I digress.  Bone broth.  While I often make Katz’s recipe, which is phenomenal, I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s too much trouble, and I just want to make a simpler broth that requires next to no time.  This is where thriftiness comes in handy.  You see, I never toss a vegetable scrap that I’d like to see end up in a pot of stock.  So in my freezer, you’ll find numerous baggies and containers filled with random bits of organic veggie scraps – onion peels, carrot peels, potato peels, sweet potato peels, tomato peels, celery ends and leaves, a leek that didn’t have a proper home in another recipe, parsley stems, basil stems, ginger peels, etc.)  I don’t save things like broccoli or cauliflower, as they taste a tad sulfurous when cooked into a stock, but I do sometimes save things like hard kale stems.  Use your judgment, and save the things that you think would make a delicious broth.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has found one of these baggies filled with random scraps and tried to throw it away, and I had to run to the kitchen, yelling “Noooooooooooo! That’s for broth!” and rescue my precious scraps before they ended up in the rubbish bin.

Some people!

Another weird thing those friends will find, if they dig a little deeper in my freezer, is a package or two of chicken bones.   When I buy chicken (which I do sometimes now – my vegetarian ways were fully dismissed the day I realized I could kill a vicious rooster instead of allowing it to repeatedly attack me), I buy a whole young organic bird (preferably one raised on pasture), and I cook the bird, and then I save every single bone in the bird, as well as the giblets.  If I’m not ready to make broth right then, I put the bones and giblets in a bag in the freezer.

Then, when I’m ready to make a big pot of stock, all I have to do is dig around in the freezer, put the bones and the vegetable scraps in a big stock pot, and fill the pot with filtered water.  I also generally a few other items:

2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon bouquet garni (optional)
1 3-inch square of kombu (seaweed)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice (this is to help draw the calcium out of the bones)
1 teaspoon sea salt

This takes all of 3 minutes to prepare.

If you don’t many scraps stowed in the freezer, add an onion, some celery, and a few cloves of garlic.  No need to peel any of these, just roughly chop and toss in with skins on.

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat to low and cook for 12-24 hours.  If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your stove on overnight, you can make a smaller batch in a crock pot, or you can make broth in an instant pot, as well.  In the instant pot (this is the one I own and like), I add all my ingredients to the pot, fill with water to the fill line, and then cook on the manual setting on high pressure for 2 hours.

Once the broth is cooked, let it cool a bit and strain all the bones and vegetables out of it.  Throw the bones and vegetables away, as all the good stuff will be taken from them and put into the liquid, which should be a rich golden color.  I pour the broth into glass jars and refrigerate overnight, and then I transfer what I’m not using within a few days into freezer-safe containers and freeze.  Broth keeps for 4 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.

I use homemade broth as the base for all my soups, and I also often drink it in place of coffee or tea.  Sometimes I add a teaspoon of miso paste after warming the broth, which adds more rich, savory flavor, and sometimes I drink the broth plain.

The broth has lots of vital minerals including calcium and phosphorous, as well as collagen from the bones, which is soothing to the digestive tract and also promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails.

If you’re sick, there’s nothing more magically healing than homemade bone broth, and if you’re healthy, there’s nothing more soothing.

And if you’re wondering… “Can’t I just buy bone broth?”  The answer is Yes, you can.  Kettle and Fire is a good brand, but when you see the price, you’ll understand why it makes sense to make it!

Plus:  I find that there’s something really lovely about making broth from scratch.  I get to use things that would otherwise be thrown away, and the process transforms them into something that’s precious, healing, and delicious.  That’s magic!

I keep bone broth on hand at all times, and if I feel a bit under the weather, I thaw out a container and drink 1-2 cups a day.  And, it’s toddler approved.  My 2 year old loves drinking broth and will ask for it.

Have you made your own broth before?  Have you experienced any health benefits from it?  If so, let me know in the comments!

 

Chicken Soup that Feeds the Soul and Heals the Body

‘Tis the season… for seasonal illness!  If you or a loved one has succumbed to the plague or something resembling it, do give this (slightly updated) version of the ultimate comfort food a try.  I’ve included directions to make it on the stove or in an instant pot, if you have one.  (Thanks mom and dad for the instant pot!)

Hearty Chicken Soup with Vegetables

1 organic chicken, 3-5 pounds
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks organic celery, chopped
2-3 organic carrots, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped
6-8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
9 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt or Real Salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 strip kombu seaweed (about 3 square inches – see note below if you don’t know what kombu is)
1 juniper berry (optional)

1 zucchini, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh basil
Celery salt

  1. INSTANT POT: If using an instant pot, put the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, leek, mushrooms, water, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, kombu, and juniper berry in the pot. Set to your machine’s “Soup” setting and press “Start.”  My machine takes about 15 minutes to get ready to cook and on this setting it pressure cooks for 25 minutes.  When it beeps to indicate it’s finished cooking, quick release the lid using your machine’s instructions, and continue with step 3 below.
  2. STOVE-TOP: If making on your stove-top, put the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, leek, mushrooms, water, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, kombu, and juniper berry in a large stock pot and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for one and a half hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Next, remove the chicken from the soup and place on a cutting board to cool. Add the zucchini, lemon juice, parsley, and basil to the soup.  If using the instant pot, just close the lid.  If you’re using the stove-top, keep the soup on the lowest simmer setting.
  4. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken, and reserve these for making bone broth. (See Cook’s Note below regarding broth.) Cut up the chicken into ½ inch pieces and put it back into the soup.  If you can, fish out the bay leaf, seaweed, and juniper berry and discard or compost them.  These ingredients are for flavoring but aren’t meant to be eaten with the soup.
  5. Season the soup with celery salt to taste, and enjoy!

Leftovers:  This makes a rather large batch of soup, so if you’re only cooking for one or two people, let the soup cool and partition into containers to freeze for a future rainy (or snowy) day.  The soup will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Only reheat the portion of soup you intend to eat, because multiple reheating will diminish the nutrient content of the soup.

Green Ginger Thai Variation:  After removing the chicken from the soup to cool, add the zucchini, 1 can full-fat coconut milk, 1 teaspoon green ginger paste, replace the lemon juice with lime, and replace the fresh parsley and basil with fresh cilantro.

Cook’s Note on Kombu:  Kombu is a type of seaweed.  If you’re wondering why you would want to put seaweed in your soup, you’re not alone – but the answer is this:  it’s because it has vital minerals and trace micronutrients to keep you healthy.  See this article on specific health benefits of kombu.  It doesn’t change the taste of things it’s cooked with, and it seems to aid the digestibility of a lot of foods like legumes, so I always throw some in when I’m cooking beans.  You can find kombu dried and in bags in the Asian section of nicer grocery or health stores or on Amazon or Thrive.

Cook’s Note on Broth:  I keep a container in my freezer for broth-making.  Whenever I peel an onion for a recipe, I reserve the skins and trimmings and tuck them in a resealable bag.  Chicken bones, skin, and giblets go in the bag, as do vegetable scraps like onion peelings, parsley stems, celery trimmings, mushroom trimmings, etc.   I’ll be posting on how to make a healing bone broth soon.

Cook’s Note on Shiitake Mushrooms:  Shiitake mushrooms are great for boosting immunity.  Though a lot of people throw away the stems because the texture is harder than the caps, the stems are good, too!  They just need a little more preparation.  To use them, cut the stems off the caps, and trim any woody pieces off the end of the stem.  Then shred the stems sort of like you would chicken meat.  (Oddly enough, when they’re shredded, they kind of look and taste like chicken.)  Here you can see the shredded stems along with the caps of the mushrooms.

be here now

The sky dropped nearly a foot of wet, dense snow on us, and now we face the task of digging out.  I wouldn’t have to, really, as the weather will probably warm, and all the snow will disappear on its own.  But I like shoveling snow, and my toddler loves being out in it, so we spent a good portion of our day outside, taking turns wielding the “shubble,” as my tot calls it.

The snow is beautiful.  I lift scoop after scoop, keeping an eye on my boy as he wanders down the yard, half-walking, half-swimming in deep drifts.  He tumbles and squeals.  His hat falls off, and I try to put it back on him.  “I don’t aunt it,” he insists.  I see the neighbor clearing his deck in a t-shirt, so I figure a bare noggin is probably fine, at least for a while.  One by one, my son’s boots get sucked off by the snow, and I pick him up, carrying him back to the house like a sack of potatoes, if potatoes were known for kicking and crying and yelling.  I put him down by the door to brush the chunks of snow off him, and he darts back to the snow, just in socks.

He runs, squealing joyfully, and I follow him, but slowly, as I’m hindered by my jacket’s pocket zipper… as I try to take out my phone and capture some of his glee.  I take a few photos, none of which captures quite how happy this makes him, and then I give up and just watch, taking it all in.  The white-carpeted trees, the crunch beneath my feet, the way the snow muffles all the sounds.

A slushy rain starts falling, and I put the phone away, zip up my pocket, put my mittens back on and go to my son’s side.  He pulls a colorful knitted sock out of the snow, hands it to me, announcing that it is wet.

“Do you ever get cold?” I ask him.

“No,” he insists, looking up at me with one bare foot and one sock-covered foot, standing in a another foot of wet snow.

I pick him up anyway.  He protests loudly as I carry him to the house, this time depositing him inside, determined to keep him there at least long enough to put dry clothes on him.  He fusses for a minute and then relents, helps remove the rest of his wet gear, and heads upstairs for a much-needed nap.  I tuck him in and he slumbers, and I head downstairs to see that more snow is falling, the wind is picking up, and I know we’ll have more to do when he wakes, and know he’ll be delighted by it.

A couple four-wheel-drive trucks have managed to make it down our sleepy little street, but the rest of us with cars are staying put, content to tuck in by the fireplace with a cup of cocoa.

As I sit by the fire, I resist the urge to reach to my phone, and just sit instead, savoring this quiet, snow-filled day.  May each day bring us these moments, when we opt for what is tangibly before us, not on an illuminated screen.  The dumpster fire of politics will burn on with or without my gaze.  The one in my fireplace needs my attention, right here, right now.

Happy winter, friends.  Wishing you peace and love and the best present of all:  presence.

xoxo

ginger cumin carrots

One of my guests ate a bite of these carrots and cooed, then asked in awe, “Why are your carrots so much better than my carrots?”  Answer:  love.  Also, this recipe.  it’s adapted from Rebecca Katz’s The Cancer Fighting Kitchen.  This recipe serves 16.   You don’t cook for 16 people at a time?  Invite strangers!  Or use division.

2 teaspoons ground cumin or cumin seeds (if using the seeds, toast them in a skillet and grind them up a bit)
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
9 cups peeled and sliced carrots, cut 1/4 inch thick
1-2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt or Redmond Real Salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
2 tablespoons maple syrup

If you’re making a big meal, to make things easier on yourself, clean and cut the carrots the night before, and put them in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight.

Half an hour before you plan to eat, pour the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the cumin and fresh ginger.  Saute for a minute, then add the carrots and salt, wait until it gets good and hot, and then turn the heat down to medium low.  Stir every now and then.  Covering the pan will make them steam faster, but I tend to leave the carrots uncovered, because I think it intensifies their flavor by driving off some of the moisture.

The carrots will be tender in 10-25 minutes, depending on how big your pan is, how many carrots you have in it, the phase of the moon, the amount of composted chicken manure fed to the carrots, and myriad other factors.  in other words, keep eating a piece of carrot every now and then until they are pleasantly al dente.  If they stick to your pan, add a glug more oil.  If they taste like they need more salt, add more salt.

When the carrots are done to your liking, pour the lemon juice and maple syrup over them.  Stir and transfer to your serving dish, which I hope you put on the stove to have warm.

Pray that there will be leftovers, because they make a fantastic green curry coconut carrot soup.  (Recipe forthcoming!)

Happy Holidays, friends.  Wishing you good food, fellowship, and love.