Special Dish for the Week: Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

When I am left to my own devices and take a day to myself, I often end up in the kitchen, delighting in the amazing flavours of my culinary creations, which this week is another one of my bone broth soups—and which this week I share as one of my Meals on Bikes with a friend who can use this kind of TLC to help heal the injured body and wounded soul—for this Special Dish for the Week:

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Similarly to when I made my Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup last summer, I once again stock up with beets and chicken bones at the downtown farmers market to make this summer’s version of this soup.

Oddly, the mushroom farmers are missing from the market this year, so I use my grocer as a back-up supply of shiitakes, among other mushrooms. I feel fortunate to love the taste and texture of mushrooms, as they are said to be super healthy, including their ability to produce and deliver their own vitamin D.

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Ingredients

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Ingredients

I make my bone broth from scratch, and as I chop, I add the following ingredients:

  • 8-10 cups bone broth, or water, or half and half
  • 1 cup red lentils, pre-soaked
  • wakame flakes
  • 4 small onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 beets, finely cubed
  • 3 carrots, finely cubed
  • 6-10 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and finely cubed
  • cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 – 1 in. ginger, grated
  • 1/2 red Thai chili pepper, or a teaspoon tip of sambal oelek that I usually have on hand now since my culinary adventure in Bali
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
  • drizzle of coconut milk (optional)

I serve the soup with a glass of siegerrebe white wine from the Sea Star Vineyard on Pender Island, that another friend generously supplies from their reserves.

Special Dish for the Week: Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

I am loving my bone broth soups—and I am loving being able to share my bone broth soups with a few friends who can use this kind of TLC while they heal their injured bodies and wounded souls—and I smile this morning while cycling over to one friend, packing a jar of one of my bone broth soups, as I pass a car labelled with a Meals on Wheels sticker, thinking, “Me too!”, and then, “I need a sticker like that for my bike*!” (to join the one that declares “One Less Car”), having prepared another bone broth soup for this Special Dish for the Week:

* Apparently, Meals on Bikes is what I can aspire to!

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup

I first make this soup last summer, when the downtown farmers market kept me well supplied with beets while I was concocting my daily doses of fermented beet juice. The summer before, I learn to also prepare and eat the greens from the beets. Having once tried them, I now love them in stir fries and soups.

Then I discover, when looking into not only nutritious foods again but also healthy food combinations, that beet greens are recommended to be eaten with chickpeas! According to various sources, the vitamin B6 in chickpeas increases absorption of magnesium in beet greens. So, I combine these two healthy ingredients, creating a “super bone broth soup”.

I sautée the base ingredients first:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2-1 in. ginger, grated
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper
Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup Ingredients

Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup Ingredients

I then add:

  • beet stems*, coarsely chopped
  • cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • wakame flakes
  • 1 cup red lentils, pre-soaked
  • 8-10 cups bone broth, or water, or half and half

* from ~4-9 beets

Once cooked (about 30 minutes), I purée these using my handheld smoothie blender.

I then add:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • beet greens* (leaves), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

To further thicken the soup, when the beet greens are wilted and chickpeas warmed through, I purée about a cup of the soup and return to the pot, mixing it in.

I serve the soup with a drizzle of coconut milk and cilantro leaves for garnish, and enjoy it with a glass of Côtes du Rhône Villages red French wine.

Special Dish for the Week: InspireHealth Barszcz

Not the barszcz I know and love since my childhood, this Special Dish for the Week is nonetheless very delicious, of course nutritious, and filling:

InspireHealth Barszcz

InspireHealth Barszcz Ingredients

InspireHealth Barszcz Ingredients

This recipe arrives in my mail with a letter from InspireHealth, contributed by Mirella Russell, who was given the recipe by a friend, and now I pass it on, naturally Maggified! It reminds me actually of my morning smoothies, so I wonder if it also works well as a chilled gazpacho.

The preparations begin with coarsely chopping an onion and sautéeing it in coconut oil.

Next, the following are washed, not peeled, and cubed to fit in my small electric chopper, a few handfuls at a time. The recipe calls for grating, but I don’t have the energy to do it manually.

  • 3 beets
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 apple
InspireHealth Barszcz

InspireHealth Barszcz

While these all simmer in the pot with the onions and enough water for desired consistency, I cut in some:

  • chopped green onions
  • chopped stems of cilantro

To spice things up a bit, I add:

  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs coriander
  • toss in some sea salt
  • grind in some black pepper
  • splash in a 2 tbs of Bragg soy sauce

In under 30 minutes, the chopped veggies soften and the flavours intermingle. I use my hand blender to purée half of the soup, tasting it for flavour and texture. I surprise myself how well it turns out. The apple adds sufficient sweetness, so I omit the suggested honey.

I serve the soup with a dollop of plain yogurt and some chopped cilantro leaves. I enjoy a glass of French red Beaujolais-Villages wine gifted by some friends. I find the wine to be quite delicate in flavour, which pairs nicely with my two helpings of the hearty soup on this uncommonly chilly Vancouver evening.

Meal ideas & recipes from InspireHealth Barszcz recipe in the mail.

Special Dish for the Week: Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner

Slowly feeling more festive, having heard my first Christmas carols a few days before, I enjoy a Sunday night dinner with good friends—feeding the taste buds and the soul—serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat like queens and kings, comprised of 4 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner Menu

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner Menu

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Upon a small toast of Apothic Dark red wine to greet my guests’ arrival, I begin serving the previously featured Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup. This time, I use green Thai curry and one of each: yam and sweet potato, instead of the suggested ingredients. The soup is purposefully a little less spicy than my usual to please the palate of a guest, and a little less sweet and colourful with the introduction of the sweet potato in place of one yam—and it still most delicious!

The hors d’hoeuvres are accompanied by “a little something from the chef” (i.e., not specified on the menu), which turns out to be Fermented Beet Juice.

Beet & Red Cabbage Hors d’Hoeuvres

Beet & Red Cabbage Hors d’Hoeuvres

The hors d’hoeuvres consist of a small serving of Beet and Red Cabbage salad served on a bed of arugula and sprouts, sprinkled with a dash of sesame oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Peanut Sauce Stir Fry main course (le plat principal) is accompanied by red lentils, prepared with a tablespoon of wakame flakes (a type of seaweed), which I add during cooking of the lentils. The lentils are pre-soaked overnight in order to induce the germination process previously explained.

The Peanut Sauce for this dish is a mildly spicy sweet and sour sensation is a “Maggified” version of a dish inspired by a personally made recipe book from some good friends. The ingredients for this sauce, all mixed and lightly heated in a pan, consist of:

  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (Adams 100% Natural)
  • 1/3 cup of water (or more, for desired consistency)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 red Thai chili pepper (or more, for desired spiciness)

For the stir fry, I shred, dice and slice the following ingredients:

  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • carrot, thinly sliced
  • red and orange peppers, diced
  • green onions, chopped
  • pre-cooked chicken, shredded
  • coconut oil
  • cilantro, on the side for garnish
Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Just before serving le plat principal, I combine the separately heated stir fry ingredients and the Peanut Sauce. I serve the Peanut Sauce Stir Fry together with the wakame lentils, and trying this dish for the first time, it is a tasty success! Next time, though, I think I might try bigger chicken chunks rather than shredding the chicken, for more some defined texture to the dish—although the chunkiness of the peanut butter assists this goal too.

For dessert, I serve little dollops of Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed, which I recently re-discovered and have been experimenting with varying its flavours and textures.

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book, the “Food and Love” book, from Whole Foods Market, from “The Wahls Protocol” book, and from the Budwig Diet.

Special Dish for the Week: Algerian Chicken Dinner

After several out-of-town family visitors, and a long and slow recovery from various computer meltdowns, I enjoy a Friday night dinner with good friends—feeding the taste buds and the soul—serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat like queens, comprised of 4 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Algerian Chicken

Algerian Chicken Dinner Menu

Algerian Chicken Dinner Menu

Fig and Peppercorn Soup with Yam

Fig and Peppercorn Soup with Yam

Upon my guests’ arrival, I begin serving the previously featured Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup. This time, I introduce a couple of twists. In place of the cream, I use coconut milk, and I add a yam, which thickens the soup and brings to the soup more of an orangey colour. Both of these additions sweeten the soup considerably, particularly appreciated by those with a sweet tooth!

The hors d’hoeuvres are accompanied by “a little something from the chef” (i.e., not specified on the menu), which turns out to be pickled asparagus that surprises even the uninitiated chef with its texture and flavour. It tastes just like a pickle! The pickled asparagus comes from the gift basket that the chef had been prized at the Kayaking to InspireHealth event.

The hors d’hoeuvres consist of two small servings of salads served on a bed of arugula and sprouts, sprinkled with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. One of the salads is a Beet and Red Cabbage sensation, and the other a Red Sauerkraut and Carrot delight.

Beet & Red Cabbage and Red Sauerkraut & Carrot Hors d'Hoeuvres

Beet & Red Cabbage and Red Sauerkraut & Carrot Hors d’Hoeuvres

Algerian Chicken and Quinoa with Wakame

Algerian Chicken and Quinoa with Wakame

The Algerian Chicken main course (le plat principal) is accompanied by tri-coloured quinoa, prepared with a tablespoon of wakame flakes (a type of seaweed), which I add during cooking of the quinoa.

The quinoa is pre-soaked overnight in order to induce the germination process, which alters the chemical properties of several substances in grains and legumes that otherwise contribute to increased inflammation and block the absorption of minerals.

The Algerian Chicken dish is very colourful, flavourful, a little bit spicey, and nutrient-rich, consisting of the following ingredients (selected to be organic, where possible, and the chicken to be unmedicated and free range, when organic is not available or is cost-prohibitive).

The ingredients for this dish comprise:

Algerian Chicken Dish in Progress

Algerian Chicken Dish in Progress

  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
    • Tip: Mince garlic and let sit for 15 minutes to allow sulfur to stabilize.
  • 3 chicken thighs, cooked in water (making broth to add to this dish), de-skinned, de-boned, and shredded
  • 1 medium can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (alternate: 2 cups sliced leeks)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (from cooking the chicken thighs)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (alternate: red Thai chili pepper)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp wakame flakes (alternate: 1 tsp kelp powder)
  • 1 zucchini, diced (alternate: 4 cups green beans or asparagus)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble

For dessert, one guest shares her delicious apple crisp, and for beverages, one guest supplies the requisite red wine, while the chef serves organic sparkling cranberry juice (also from the gift basket that the chef had been prized at the Kayaking to InspireHealth event).

A feast for the queens!

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Queens

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Queens

Meal ideas & recipes from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Beet Apple Charoset Salad

With the downtown farmers market in full bloom this summer, and beets of various varieties and colours—red, orange / yellow, and white even—I embark on a search for additional  beet recipes to the cooked beet ones that I well know and love from my childhood, and I am rewarded with this delicious gem, with RAW beets no less:

Beet Apple Charoset Salad

Tri-coloured Beets for Charoset

Tri-coloured Beets for Charoset

This beet and apple charoset salad turns out to be most delicious, particularly for one with a sweet tooth! It really does not need the honey for more sweetness, although the additional nutrition from the honey is always welcome.

Later in the summer, I discover another, similar version of this salad—one that uses raw red cabbage instead of the apple. Most surprisingly, it is nearly as sweet with the red cabbage as with the apple, and likely even more nutritious.

Ingredients of the Charoset

Ingredients of the Charoset

The first time that I make this salad, I spend the time and get a pretty good arm workout grating the beets by hand. Also surprisingly, the beets are not as difficult to grate raw as it would seem. On following iterations, I use a small electric chopper, and it goes a bit quicker. I chop the first 4 ingredients in the chopper, and add the other ingredients upon transferring the chopped ones into a large bowl. Then I hand-mix all the ingredients.

This salad freezes very well, so I make it in large batches and freeze small portions in glass jars for snacks, at home or on the go.

Beet and Apple Charoset Salad

Beet and Apple Charoset Salad

The ingredients for this salad comprise:

  • 3 medium beets: red, yellow and white, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 1 medium Fuji apple*, peeled (*1 small or 1/2 medium red cabbage, finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green* onion (*sweet, red or white onion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts* (*pecans, cashews)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup squeezed grapefruit* juice (*orange, lime or lemon)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil* (*coconut oil, heated in the jar by warm water to liquefy it)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or cumin
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

I serve the salad over arugula and garnish with cilantro, or sometimes have even a little more fun with and get my food to make some funny faces at me from my plate.

Beet and Apple Charoset Funny Face

Beet and Apple Charoset Funny Face

Meal ideas & recipes from Whole Foods Market and from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Fermented Beet Juice

This week’s Special Dish for the Week combines the benefits of two of nature’s culinary marvels: fermentation and beets—in a drink that I remember running away from as a child, but now, I find myself enjoying even:

Fermented Beet Juice

Fermented Beet Juice

Fermented Beet Juice

Fermented beet juice—also known as sour beet juice, or beet kvass—is made by a process called lactic acid fermentation—as opposed to ethanol (alcohol) fermentation and yeast or mold fermentation. The process is anaerobic (not using oxygen), and requires a certain type of bacteria to get going and to generate desired results.

Although perhaps sounding highly technical, the preparation process and ingredients are very simple!

And despite the rather strong but not unpleasant aroma, the juice is tasty—if a bit on the salty side!

The ingredients—and the reasons for selecting them just so—include:

  • 3 medium beets*, washed but not scrubbed or peeled—to maintain the needed starter bacteria
    * beets can be red, yellow, white, or a mélange of colours, a.k.a. rainbow beets
  • 1/2-1 tbsp sea salt—to keep the fermentation to the lactic acid type, to help pull out the juice out of the beets, and to add additional minerals
  • 1 cup of freshly boiled water—to quickly dissolve the salt
  • 5 cups of room temperature boiled water—to ensure that beets don’t cook and that enzymes and bacteria don’t get wiped out or don’t get contaminated with other organisms potentially in tap water (depending on the tap water source and treatment)
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (optional)—for added flavour and nutrients
  • spices (optional)—for added flavour and nutrients—a cardamom pod, a knob of ginger, a star anise, or a clove, to be tried in future batches
Beets for Fermenting

Beets for Fermenting

Various recipes exist for how to cut, store, and start the fermentation process of the beets. Here is my way:

  1. Cut each beet into 8 “cubes”.
  2. Mix sea salt and 1 cup of freshly boiled water in a clean 2 L wide-mouth glass container.
  3. Add a few icecubes to cool down the brine (now salty water).
  4. Add 4 cups of room temperature boiled water to further cool down the brine.
  5. Place the beet cubes in the brine.
  6. Add the optional garlic and/or other spices.
  7. Add final cup of water to top up the contents up to 1/2 inch below the top of the glass container.
  8. Cover the glass container with a small plate.
  9. Place the glass container on the counter in a spot out of direct sunlight.
  10. And let it do its thing for 3-7 days*—it seems to do just fine to take a few peeks under the plate to ensure no moldy film is developing and that the smell is right! Sour!
    * If fermenting the beets for more than 3 days, place the fermenting juice in the fridge after 3 days to slow down fermentation and other bacterial growth.
  11. Strain and funnel the fermented juice into preferably screw cap dark bottles from wine, vinegar or olive oil, to make it easier—and more fancy—to pour each serving.
  12. Place the fermented juice in the fridge.
  13. Enjoy 1/2 cup (125 mL) twice to 3 times per day over about an hour each time to slowly absorb the live and healthful goodness.
  14. Compost the fermented beets, or some suggest that they too can be enjoyed on their own or in a salad (see Bonus Project in Source #4).

So, what’s so good about fermented foods, and beets in particular?

Fermented foods:

Fermented Foods

Fermented Foods

Fermented beet juice:

  • Fermented beet juice alkalises the blood, which is beneficial for many health issues.
  • It cleanses the liver.
  • And it detoxifies and protects healthy cells from radiation.

Beets:

  • Beets are high in betacyanin, which can dramatically increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood, starve cancerous tumors and hinder cell division.
  • They are a great source of healthy nitrates that convert during digestion to nitrites and nitric oxides, which, in turn, widen the arteries, increase the oxygen content of the blood, and reduce blood pressure.
  • Beets also help increase one’s energy by helping the energy-producing mitochondria in the cells operate more efficiently and by supplying the body with a healthy energy-dense carbohydrate source.
Rainbow Beets

Rainbow Beets

I thoroughly look forward to incorporating in my meals more fermented foods, such as fermented beet juice, sauerkraut, brined pickles, miso, kefir, yogurt—and wine, naturally!

And thus getting back to my roots, I also plan to enjoy all types of beet dishes, such as beet salads, barszcz (beet broth), beet greens soups, cooked beets, beet dips, and beet juices: fermented and pressed.

Fortunately for my ethnic background, I already love most of these foods!

 

And if one must, then cheers to “beeting cancer”, one sip and mouthful at a time!

Sources & Resources:

  1. The Writer’s Parents and their curative Polish cuisine knowledge
  2. http://www.integrativecanceranswers.com/side-effects-of-radiation-natural-protection-from-fermented-foods/
  3. http://hiddenpondllc.com/beet-kvass
  4. http://sofakingnextlevel.com/2014/01/28/beet-kvass-nbd/ – recipe ideas
  5. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/benefits-beet-juice
  6. http://www.curejoy.com/content/want-to-build-up-endurance-boost-your-energy-and-increase-your-speed-24-more-reasons-to-eat-beetroot/
  7. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49