Makeover Mondays: Simple Sausage Soup

Winter means it’s cold (well, maybe not in the Bay Area), it gets dark earlier (I feel like I want to go to sleep at 3pm), and we make more wintery soups and stews. I attended the lecture of my colleague, Nikole Maxey, L.A.c two weekends ago at our Integrative Health Fair and she described how Chinese medicine teaches about nutrition, dampness and relating certain earth elements to emotions, internal organs, etc. Super fascinating topics of interest…that make perfect sense. For example, I am told it is better for my personally, my emotional well-being, my personality and digestive issues, or my “constitution”, to eat a lot of cooked foods, warming foods. This not only makes sense to me, but that is usually all that I crave. Cooked, warm, nourishing broths, soups and stews, even cooked fruits.

Here is a quick soup I made for friends, using really, really good sausage from Market Hall’s Marin Sun Farms meat counter.

Simple Sausage Soup

sausage soup

  • 2 handfuls small, brown Mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4-6 cups chicken or beef broth (I had homemade already in the freezer. Broth is super nourishing to just drink, too!) – buy low sodium if store bought
  • Fresh or dried oregano (I had fresh – I always love fresh whenever possible)
  • 3-5 really good sausage, cut into 1 inch chunks (I got Sweet Italian at Marin Sun Farms, but any kind you like will do!)
  • 5-8 leaves of kale, de-stemmed, diced into strips
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Sautee onion in olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add salt, pepper, oregano, mushrooms and sausages, cook another couple of minutes until coated and mushrooms and sausages just start to cook and brown.

Pour broth over mixture, bring to a boil. Toss in kale, cover lid for 2-3 minutes, turn off heat and serve hot. Serve with rustic bread to dip, or just enjoy on its own. Super comforting!

Makeover Mondays: Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones

I felt like a scone yesterday. I hadn’t had a scone in…I don’t know when the last time I had a scone was. Scones are definitely thrown into the pile of terrible for you, guilty pleasure, treat foods, much like doughnuts. However, the concept can be used to make a tasty, protein rich version. Throw in a little play on the Nutella concept, and you have a scrumptious combination of tastes.

The base recipe for these scones can really be used to include any add in (chocolate chips, fruit, homemade jam, cheese and bacon, seeds and nuts, etc.). I have been a bit obsessed with (mostly) grain and gluten free breads and baked good lately and can’t wait to make Sarah Britton’s bread that will supposedly change my life (I have not doubt as many of her recipes and concepts already have).  : )  So this is a prelude to that experiment.

These scones are egg free, dairy free, gluten free, soy free (if you use chocolate with sunflower lecithin instead of soy lecithin, which is the most common emulsifier used in hard chocolate bars and such). I did not make this recipe up, but it was hard to find one without eggs or butter.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones (adapted from alexandrajamieson.com)

scones

  • 1 1/2 cups of almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 egg replacer (I used 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds paired with 3 tbsp of warm water)
  • 2 tbs of maple syrup or honey
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened milk of any kind (I used hemp and coconut)
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup at least 70% cocoa chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and milk.

Combine the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until blended together. If the dough seems too dry and isn’t sticking together, use another tablespoon or two of milk.

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate. With a large spoon or your fingers, scoop out evenly sized scones and place on baking sheet and gently press down to flatten to 1/2 in thick with palm.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Serve while chocolate is still soft and warm, and serve with favorite preserve or jam, if more sweet is needed. Yum!

Thank you to Alexandra Jamieson for providing such a friendly recipe. I can’t eat eggs whites, and dairy and gluten always hit me wrong. This was scrumptious and filling.

 

Makeover Mondays: A Chocolate Experiment

I have found that chocolate, in its most popular forms (bars and chips) makes me angry, irritable and makes my heart race. I think it’s either the theobromine, a chemical in cocoa, tea leaves and and cola (the kola nut), and paired with sugar often accompanying cocoa, it makes for trouble. Theobromine can have similar effects on people as caffeine, which I think is what happens to me – I get super irritable and jittery when I have any kind of caffeine.

I give myself breaks from chocolate (long breaks) often, but I love it. I joke that my love for chocolate is genetic. But, I feel so much better, in the longer term, when I don’t eat it often. Today I wanted to use the cocoa powder in the house to play around with a baked good – a chocolate cookie. I have also been eating a very restricted diet, just to see how my blood sugar stabilization evens out without certain heavy carbs. Some would say it’s a modified paleo diet, but I don’t love labels because they feel restrictive. Labels always make me feel like a bad person; if I tell myself I am going to do something restrictive, even for a limited time, putting a label on it seems to sabotage any hope of me actually getting anything done and establishing a new routine. Sound familiar!?

In this case, my love and I are thinking about trying to have kids soon, and I have been wanting to take my time to get my body in gear. We have been working with our naturopath, Dr. Jennifer Strider, working on some deficiencies of mine, and some questions we have about our health in general, ensuring our blood work is better than normal.

Thus the restrictive diet. Today’s recipe is a chocolate coconut paleo-ish cookie. Here goes!

cookie 1

  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 5 tbsp coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 4 large eggs (or flax eggs = 4 tbsp ground flax seeds, plus one cup of water or coconut milk) + more if needed
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 bag mini chocolate chips (I love Enjoy Life)
  • ALSO OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup hemp seeds (“hearts”)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Separately mix flax and water/milk together, and add coconut oil. Mix all together, adding chocolate chips and/or hemp hearts, optional. If the batter seems too dry and hard to mix, keeping adding coconut milk or water until the batter is easier to mix, and looks like brownie batter.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet, and mash down with a fork slightly (they won’t melt and spread out themselves). Bake for 15 minutes (no more). Enjoy with a glass of (coconut, almond or any other kind of) milk.

cookie 2

With hemp hearts, no chocolate chips this time.