Velvety butternut squash soup

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With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought I’d share a few of my make ahead recipes with you. This one is yet another soup that is perfect for fall and winter. Make ahead, keep it frozen or refrigerated, warm and … Continue reading

Soups on!

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I love soup! It’s so easy to make and now that it’s harvest time, there are so many vegetables to choose from. Just throw in your favourite, add liquid, simmer and you are done. Its really that easy.
I came up with this combo because I had these vegetables in my fridge.
This is also a great detox soup.

INGREDIENTS:

3 tbsp organic olive oil
4 leeks washed and chopped ( or 1 medium onion)
2 celery stalks chopped
4 medium carrots chopped
4 small zucchini chopped
3 litres chicken stock or broth or vegetable stock )
2 cups tomato purée
1 bunch lacinado kale ( any kale will do) stemmed and chopped
2 cups water ( if needed)*
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed chilli peppers to taste
Hemp hearts (optional BUT yummy so get some)

PREPARATION:

Heat oil in a heavy bottom stock pot. Add leeks and cook on medium heat 7-10 minutes. Add celery, carrots and zucchini.
I add a good tsp of chilli peppers to the vegetables because I like the heat. Cook on medium heat another 5-10 minutes to soften the vegetables and bring out their natural sugars. Add stock and tomato purée. Add chopped kale and enough water to completely cover the vegetables.
Cook on medium-high heat bringing it to a gentle boil then reduce to lowest heat, cover and simmer 30-45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle a few tbsp of hemp hearts on your soup*
Note: if you don’t have broth or stock, use water instead.

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NUTRITION FACTS:

CELERY contains bone-beneficial silicon and cancer-fighting phenolic acids and may even help reduce blood pressure.

KALE can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability—just not as much.
Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.
Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.
Researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

LEEKS, like garlic and onions, belong to a vegetable family called the Allium vegetables. Since leeks are related to garlic and onions, they contain many of the same beneficial compounds found in these well-researched, health-promoting vegetables.
Given their substantial polyphenol content, including their notable amounts of kaempferol, we would expect to see overlap with garlic and onions in terms of support for many health problems related to oxidative stress and chronic low-level inflammation. These health problems would include atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and allergic airway inflammation. We would also expect to see leeks providing measurable amounts of protection against several different types of cancer, mostly likely including colorectal cancer. It’s important to remember that even in the absence of research studies to confirm health benefits, leeks still belong to the same allium vegetable family as onions and garlic and contain many health-supportive substances that are similar to (or identical with) the substances in their fellow allium vegetables.

ZUCCHINI: Several recent studies have underscored the unique contribution made by summer squash to our antioxidant requirements. While not as rich in some of the more widely-publicized antioxidants like beta-carotene, summer squash is a very strong source of other key antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Since the skin of this food is particularly antioxidant-rich, it’s worth leaving the skin intact and purchasing organic summer squash to help avoid potential unwanted contaminants.

ZUCCHINI is one of the very low calorie vegetables; provide only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.
It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.

TOMATOES are widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, including, of course, their oftentimes-rich concentration of lycopene. Researchers have recently found an important connection between lycopene, its antioxidant properties, and bone health. A study was designed in which tomato and other dietary sources of lycopene were removed from the diets of postmenopausal women for a period of 4 weeks, to see what effect lycopene restriction would have on bone health. At the end of 4 weeks, women in the study started to show increased signs of oxidative stress in their bones and unwanted changes in their bone tissue. The study investigators concluded that removal of lycopene-containing foods (including tomatoes) from the diet was likely to put women at increased risk of osteoporosis. They also argued for the importance of tomatoes and other lycopene-containing foods in the diet. We don’t always think about antioxidant protection as being important for bone health, but it is, and tomato lycopene (and other tomato)

Much of the research on CARROTS has traditionally focused on carotenoids and their important antioxidant benefits. After all, carrots (along with pumpkin and spinach) rank high on the list of all commonly-consumed U.S. antioxidant vegetables in terms of their beta-carotene content. But recent research has turned the health spotlight onto another category of phytonutrients in carrots called polyacetylenes. In carrots, the most important polyacetylenes include falcarinol and falcarindiol. Several recent studies have identified these carrot polyacetylenes as phytonutrients that can help inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells, especially when these polyacetylenes are found in their reduced (versus oxidized) form. These new findings are exciting because they suggest a key interaction between the carotenoids and polyacetylenes in carrots. Apparently, the rich carotenoid content of carrots not only helps prevent oxidative damage inside our body, but it may also help prevent oxidative damage to the carrot polyacetylenes. In other words, these two amazing groups of phytonutrients in carrots may work together in a synergistic way to maximize our health benefits!antioxidants) may have a special role to play in this area.

HEMP contains:

* All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
* A high protein percentage of the simple proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins.
* Eating hemp seeds in any form could aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases. This conclusion is supported by the fact that hemp seed has been used to treat nutritional deficiencies brought on by tuberculosis, a severe nutrition blocking disease that causes the body to waste away.3
* Nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acid, with more essential fatty acid than flax or any other nut or seed oil.
* A perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid – for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system.
* A superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible.
* A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.
* The richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids.

Nutrition facts from whfoods.org

Spiced up shrimp

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I love shrimp! And it’s so versatile you can season it virtually any way you like and as long as its NOT overcooked you really can’t mess it up. It’s great fried, grilled, sautéed, and even boiled, in soup, salad, hot or cold. I always have a few bags of frozen shrimp on hand for a quick protein option.

Often times I’m cooking without a recipe because I need to use up the ingredients I have on hand.
And this is how my Spice up Shrimp came to be.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lb. bag of large frozen shrimp ( 12-15) per pound if you can find them( no smaller than 21-25)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 shallots finely chopped
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary finely chopped( without the stem of course)
1 tbsp lemon thyme chopped( optional) ( I have this in my garden)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper* see note below
1 tsp black pepper
Lemon zest

PREPARATION:

Put everything in a large ziplock bag, mash around and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
Bbq on a medium hot grill, or charcoal grill or in a large sauté pan 2 minutes per side. If you’re unsure, cut the end off and if it is white throughout its ready.
Remove from heat, placing on a serving plate. Grate some fresh lemon zest over top and serve.
Great hot or cold.

* purchase red pepper flakes and using a mini food processor or coffee grinder pulverize into a fine powder then re-seal

Asian inspired slaw

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Cool down with this Asian slaw. No cooking required, make this ahead, keep refrigerated for a few days. Add some protein, keep it simple and quick. When I’m rushed for time I add leftover shredded chicken or store-bought shredded roasted chicken right to this slaw. It pairs well with shrimp and lobster too.
To save time purchase pre-shredded mixed cabbage or slaw and just add the dressing.
Use 4 cups of slaw.
If you have a food processor follow the instructions below.

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 head each of red and green cabbage, finely shredded in food processor~ 3 cups total
1/2 cup store-bought broccoli slaw
1/4 cup store-bought match stick carrots
2 green onions chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger(optional)*
1 1/2 -2 tbsp raw honey
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
Pinch of salt and pepper
Sesame seeds for garnish

PREPARATION:
Microwave honey for 10 seconds, then add vinegar,lime juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
In a large bowl add the cabbage, broccoli slaw, carrots and green onions. Pour in the dressing and mix. Refrigerate at least an hour.
Garnish with sesame seeds.

Get planting

This is the perfect weekend to plant some herbs if you havent already done so. Basil is one of those herbs that keeps on giving. All you require is a sunny spot on your balcony or backyard and a planting container.
I suggest you purchase a few good size plants, water and feed them and in a month or so you’ll have enough basil to make and store pesto over the winter months. Sure beats running to the store every time you need a few leaves.

I’ve got a few containers planted already. Tomorrow, I’ll share my walnut basil pesto recipe.

Basil

Easy paleo choco-nut granola

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Easy paleo chocolate coconut granola

Holy snow day! It hasn’t stopped snowing today and it’s beautiful to look at.
I was beginning to get a bit stir crazy and it was just one of those days when all I could think about was food and eating.
Who am I kidding….that’s a normal day for me! So while I foraged around the kitchen for a snack, and by snack I mean chocolate…. I thought about a granola recipe I had seen earlier this week. It comes courtesy of Paleolifestyle.com. I did make a few minor alterations. I put it all together and headed out in the blizzard to squat and row. (at my crossfit gym) While my hubbie plowed and shovelled 😉

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
1/4 cup raw honey
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
a pinch of sea salt
3 tbsp organic cocoa powder
1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla (any natural vanilla will do)
1/2 cup of fresh coconut ( use shredded if you don’t have fresh)

PREPARATION:

preheat oven to 200′
Using a food processor, pulse the almonds, walnuts and fresh coconut 6 times. They will be coarsely chopped. Leave them in the processor.
Melt the honey and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Whisk in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Pour this over the nut mixture. Pulse another 6- 8 times until the chocolate is evenly distributed. *If you are using shredded coconut you will add this after the chocolate mixture and pulse once.
Spread the granola on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Bake 4 hours. Allow it to cool completely then break into chunks.