Special Dish for the Week: Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup

These couple of weeks, my Special Dishes for the Week—recently turned ‘Maggified’ Meals on Wheels—take another couple of turns when I join two more car share programs (car2go and evo, in addition to having been a long-time member of Modo, thanks to free or discounted memberships from HUB, Vancouver’s cycling organisation), and I deliver some of last week’s soup by car at the end of a tiring day of cycling and hospital visits—the other turn being the “lecithin-ication” of my soup:

Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup

Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup

Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup

In month 10 of my painful neuropathy symptoms of constant pins and needles along my left arm, with additional shooting electric pain when reaching for something with it—with no medical clue for how to resolve it and my previous neuropathy cure tricks of increased aerobic and lymphatics-moving exercises not working this time—I pay another visit to a nutritionist at InspireHealth for advice.

The nutritional remedy recommendations that I receive for neuropathy in general, and more specifically for damaged myelin sheath regeneration (i.e., the rebuilding of the tissue that encases the nerves in our bodies) include:

  • lecithin supplementation*
  • increase Vitamin C and B Complex (especially inositol) supplementation*

* Supplementation being in nutritional supplement form and/or dietary intake of (good) fatty foods and proteins, including:

  • some red meat
  • nuts and seeds, especially sunflower seeds
  • beans, including non-GMO soy
  • eggs
  • fermented foods and/or probiotics
  • fatty fish
  • organ meats in bone broth
  • citrus fruit

So, in addition to giving my symptoms more time to resolve, I am curious to see if this nutritional remedy works for me too.

Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup Ingredients

Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup Ingredients

And so, I introduce a few new ingredients into my weekly bone broth soup:

  • 3 L bone broth made from chicken bones, wing tips and chicken feet
  • 1 cup red lentils, pre-soaked
  • sunflower seed oil, for sautéeing onions and chicken livers
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (half cooked with red lentils in bone broth, the other half sautéed with chicken livers)
  • kelp, shredded and cooked with red lentils in bone broth
  • 1 lb organic or unmedicated free range chicken livers (or chicken hearts, beef liver, beef kidneys), sautéed in sunflower seed oil with onions and puréed with some bone broth using my handheld smoothie blender.
  • tomatoes, coarsely shopped
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • basil leaves, shredded
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • cilantro and basil leaves, for garnish
Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup Dish

Tomato, Basil, Kidney Bean and Chicken Livers Soup Dish

I leave this soup chunky, garnished in green and accompanied by a cup of lemon balm tea and a lovingly gifted to me aloe vera plant, both to deal with other aches and pains.

I feel engulfed by TLC, from within and on the outside, and await sharing this feeling with my ‘Maggified’ Meals on Wheels soup recipients.

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: Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

This week’s Special Dish for the Week is once more inspired by the recipes from InspireHealth, such as this:

Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad Ingredients

Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad Ingredients

Heavily adapted from the original recipe, but grateful for the delightful idea, I begin with laying out the ingredients ahead of me. They look so colourful and varied. I feel healthier even just by feasting my eyes on the sight of all the nutritional goodness. My first adaptation is to cook up some red lentils, which naturally turn to mush. To give the salad back its texture, I add a can of organic black beans.

Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

Then I begin to chop, all quite finely (particularly all the raw onions!): sweet onion—my favourite onion variety of late, one which I find I can even tolerate raw; a bunch of green onions—which I find not too bad when very finely chopped; sweet and colourful red and orange peppers; and a fresh bunch of cilantro. These I gently mix together with the red lentils and the black beans to retain their individual textures..

Next, I make the dressing, also an adaptation of the original recipe. I mix the dressing with my handheld smoothie blender:

  • 1 avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup cold pressed virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp French dark mustard
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • black pepper
  • salt
Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad Dish

Lentil, Black Bean and Arugula Salad Dish

On a bed of spicy arugula, I serve the mixed lentil and bean salad, carefully adding a few dollops of the dressing. For some sweet contrast, I sprinkle some dried cranberries. And for some colourful fun, I sprinkle some black sesame seeds. My delicious, nutritious and ever so colourful dinner is accompanied with beeswax candlelight, a vase of dried red roses, place mat and serviette Provençal, a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, served in my lovingly delivered Santé, machine à manger wine glass—and along with all these, memories of good friends abound!

Meal ideas & recipes from http://www.inspirehealth.ca/recipes/2012/11/lentil-salad.

Special Dish for the Week: Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

For the last few weeks, I have been inspired for my Special Dish for the Week by the recipes from InspireHealth, such as this:

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

Naturally, it is an adaptation of the actual recipe, I do not find the Japonica black rice, and besides, the overnight soaking is sometimes a bit much even for me to organise. So, I go with one of my favourite staples: brown jasmine rice. But I add some saffron for added colour and nutrients such as: Manganese, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, and Vitamin B6; as well as dried thyme for added flavour and nutrients such as: Vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc and Copper, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, and Manganese. I have often heard that herbs contain a lot of nutrients, but I don’t often look up exactly which herbs contain what nutrients. Very interesting to do this once in a while, particularly to potentially help explain why I sometimes crave certain herbs—apparently it might not be just for their flavours! It could be that when I feel deficient in some nutrients, I may reach for more or less herbs.

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish

With the rice well under control, I sautée some finely sliced onions and finely sliced red cabbage in a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil. When translucent and softened, I add the slightly dethawed edamame, along with the cannend organic black beans. I further flavour this part of the dish with grated garlic and ginger, as well as chopped cilantro roots. I keep sautéeing these at low heat for a little longer, but I am careful not to burn or overcook them.

In another bowl, I prepare the raw veggies: grated carrots, finely sliced red pepper, some raw organic pumpkin seeds, chopped cilantro leaves, and some torn basil leaves. I wait till I make the dressing to stir these ingredients.

The dressing is also an adaptation of the original recipe—and it is oh, so yummy! I mix the dressing with my handheld smoothie blender:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup unrefined, untoasted sesame oil
  • a little less than 1/4 cup unrefined, toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

Again, heeding the lesson I learned about keeping my kitchen walls, outside of the fridge, and container of utensils on my counter dressing-free, I use a large glass jar, hold it firmly with one hand, while it sits low in the kitchen sink, and blend the heck out the dressing ingredients. The end result is a deliciously creamy, sweet and spicy dressing. Yum! The dressing I add to the raw component of the salad, and only then do I mix those ingredients, together with the dressing.

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish Lunches

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish Lunches

For my Sunday dinner, I serve each of the salad components separately on my plate, garnished with basil and cilantro leaves, and the yellow and fragrant rice I sprinkle with some black sesame seeds. For my lunches for the week, I mingle the rice, warmed beans, and raw veggies with dressing together, and store in glass containers for easy packing in the mornings. My dinner is accompanied with a small glass of organic Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, served in my lovingly delivered Santé, machine à manger wine glass.

Meal ideas & recipes from http://www.inspirehealth.ca/recipes/2014/01/asian-japonica-rice-salad-with-edamame

Special Dish for the Week: Ground Turkey Chili

Though the Thanksgiving turkey evaded me this year, it could not escape its fate entirely, as I make this Special Dish for the Week:

Ground Turkey Chili

Ground Turkey Chili Feast

Ground Turkey Chili Feast

In my current search for perhaps more absorbable food source of iron and protein, I purchase a pound of organic ground turkey at the last for the 2013 season downtown farmers market. It is quite lean as I cook it with some chopped onion and grated garlic and ginger, before adding the other ingredients. While chopping the veggies and opening the cans of beans, I put on the wild rice (pre-soaked in water over night) to cook in my rice cooker.

Ground Turkey Chili over Wild Rice

Ground Turkey Chili over Wild Rice

I coarsely chop red and green peppers, shiitaki and brown crimini mushrooms, and a zucchini. I slowly add these to the cooking ground turkey and onions. Out of convenience, I use canned beans, but I choose organic, one can of each: red kidney and black beans. Next, I add one can of organic diced tomatoes and one can of tomato sauce, and then the spices! Two types of chili powder (one more spicy than the other), two types of coriander (fresh leaves of cilantro and powdered), cumin, turmeric & black pepper, the left over pinch of dried oregano leaves, and some dried thyme. Not giving it even half the recommended cooking time, my impatient hunger will be satisfied—over the cooked wild rice and garnished with cilantro, I ladle out this tasty and warming chili, and enjoy the dish with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Meal ideas & recipes from http://www.inspirehealth.ca/recipes/2013/09/crockpot-chili.

Special Dish for the Week: Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup

Feeling in need of some comforting Fall warmth, in temperature, colour and spice, InspireHealth inspires this week’s Special Dish for the Week:

Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup

Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup—Pre-Blender

Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup—Pre-Blender

To this bright and cheerful-looking soup recipe, I add red lentils as a base flavour and protein source. And doubling, or so, the recipe, I use about 12 large organic carrots. I use organic carrots to hopefully avoid taking in toxins, like pesticides and heavy metals. I use carrots for their antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, to help protect my cells from damaging free-radicals and to help my liver eliminate toxins. Eating carrots also gives my skin a healthy glow that in the winter months is often mistake for a tan.

While the rinsed lentils and chopped carrots simmer for about 30 minutes, I chop an onion, peel and press a few cloves of garlic, and grate lots of organic ginger. These I sautée in some sesame oil before adding about 2 cups of cashews for some light roasting. I spice these with turmeric and black pepper, some paprika, ground cumin, and some sea salt. Adding a little water to the mix, I transfer these to the softened lentils and carrots.

Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup—Post-Blender

Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup—Post-Blender

Working again from the recipe, I add some coconut milk, honey and the juice of a lime, stirring and simmering for a few more minutes. Then I toss in a bunch of chopped cilantro. Before I blender the soup, I take a ladleful on a plate and snap a photo revealing the chunky ingredients. The unblendered soup tastes very flavourful, with a contrasting variability in the textures. After blending, I garnish a ladleful with fresh cilantro and a drop of coconut milk, snapping another photo while the soup cools. The blendered version tastes delicious, with a mélange of spices, and has a very interesting dense texture from the blendered cashews.

The soup definitely meets the comforting Fall warmth expectation!

Meal ideas & recipes from http://www.inspirehealth.ca/recipes/2012/11/carrot-cashew-with-cilantro-soup