Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
It’s pouring sideways rain here in Bellingham, the perfect weather for a light pumpkin soup. I have been yearning for the Fall and all the bits of cozy that comes with it. Although I love salads, soups are a wonderful way to eat your veggies while also supporting digestion. Raw veggies are one of the hardest foods to digest, especially if you are not taking the time to chew them well. Therefore, soups can be an excellent meal for anyone struggling to optimally digest their foods. Soups are much easier for the stomach to breakdown because the ingredients are soft and tender. This is especially true if you make a pureed soup like this pumpkin soup. Usually, the stomach churns our food with stomach acid to make a liquidy soup called chyme. However, when the food is already pureed, the stomach has little work to do. Therefore, soups are a wonderful meal for anyone who has increased healing needs or has digestive concerns because the nutrients are much easier absorbed.
For this recipe I used a pie pumpkin (or otherwise known as sugar pie pumpkin), but you can choose whatever winter squash you have on hand. I also used homemade bone broth, rich in flavor and nutrition. I do not skim the fat because the fat provides flavor and increases the absorption of the beta-carotene in the pumpkin flesh. If you are using store bought bone broth (Bonafide is a great option) it is fat free, and therefore I would suggest adding organic heavy cream or full fat coconut milk to your liking.
Bone broth is an excellent choice to increase the protein content of otherwise a low protein meal. Rich in collagen, bone broth helps support the healing and repair of connective tissues (think, gut lining, bone, tendons, hair, skin, nails). Along with ample amounts of prebiotic fiber rich onions and garlic this pureed soup also supports the growth of good gut bacteria. If you want, you can even roast the pumpkin seeds for little salty and nutritious snack. Simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees, rinse the seeds under water to remove excess pumpkin fibers, and lay on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spray with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and your choice of spices. Roast for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Voila, now you have a nourishing soup and a tasty snack!
Simple Gingered Pumpkin Soup
1 small pie pumpkin (got mine at TJs)
1 large yellow onion
3-4 cloves garlic
3 inches ginger root
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups homemade bone broth (see note above if using store bought)
2-3 T honey
2 T apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp sea salt (adjust as needed)
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch chili flakes
Quarter the pumpkin, scoop out seeds (roast if desired), and place into a pot filled with some water and a steamer basket. Steam, covered, over medium heat for about 15-20min or until tender.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. In a soup pot add a glug of extra virgin olive oil and sauté the chopped veggies over medium low until glassy and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the steamed pumpkin flesh (leave skin behind), and add the bone broth. Cover and cook over medium low for another 10 minutes.
Once ready, using an immersion blender, puree the soup to your liking. Season with honey, vinegar, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
Note: If you want to keep the recipe vegetarian, simply use vegetable broth (may need to adjust salt down because most store bought vegetable broths are pre-salted), and add coconut milk or heavy cream for creaminess and flavor.
Have you ever tried making COLD INFUSED GREEN TEA?? It's color ranges between a beautiful golden amber hue to a light yellow-green depending on the tea that it used, is light in flavor, and by some considered "sweet" in comparison to the strong bitter flavor of hot tea because the tannins are not extracted. This also makes cold brew more gentle to drink, as tannins can irritate the gut causing nausea or discomfort in some people.
Interestingly, research has found that cold brew green tea is much higher in antioxidants called polyphenols than the hot water infused tea alternative. It does take some time, but it doesn’t take much effort on your behalf. Plus, cold brew green tea is much lower in caffeine than hot brew, containing about half the amount of caffeine per serving (~15mg per cup). This makes it a wonderful alternative for caffeine sensitive individuals and anyone looking to boost their polyphenol intake!
Of course, you have all heard that green tea is good for you…but why?? The polyphenol in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been found to be effective against multiple aspects of cancer development and progression and can be considered a safe and effective approach to cancer prevention and therapy. Furthermore, researchers have found that EGCG activity is enhanced by the presence of vitamin C (like lemon juice)! Some studies have also looked at green tea and its ability to improve skin health, reduce acne, and may also provide protection from UV damage and sunburns.
In terms of gut health, due to its rich polyphenol content, regular green tea consumption encourages the growth of beneficial microbes called Bifidobacterium. Research has also found that green tea consumption may help offset the dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria) and inflammation caused by high fat diets. Since green tea is in the top 100 polyphenol rich plant foods, no wonder it can do so much good!
Cold Brew Green Tea
With the summer weather upon us, and cold beverages a pleasant delight, I hope you will try to make your own cold brew green tea. There are various types of green tea you can try. I personally have used jasmine green tea for a lighter more floral option and gunpowder for a robust earthy flavor. Choose any green tea that you enjoy! Add a squeeze of lemon to enhance the properties of EGCG or add a splash of cream for a bit of decadence. Drinking 2-3 cups of cold brew green tea daily can provide many powerful anti-inflammatory and gut friendly benefits.
Makes 8 cups
2 tablespoons loose leaf organic green tea
8 cups of filtered water
Optional Add-ins (when serving):
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Organic Half and Half or Cream
Sweetener of choice
Add 8-10 cups of filtered water into a large stainless steel pot. Stir in loose leaf green tea. Cover with lid and place into refrigerator. Allow the tea to infuse for 6-8 hours, or even overnight (see note below). Stir briefly every few hours if able. Also give it a good stir before straining. Stirring gently agitates the leaves to encourage the diffusion of the polyphenols into the water. The more often you stir, the more flavorful and potent the brew.
Pour the infusion through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl with a pourable lip. Transfer the strained cold brew into glass jars/bottles. Store in refrigerator. Enjoy plain, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (enhances the activity of the ECGC), a ¼ tsp of rose water for an extra floral aroma (this pairs nicely with jasmine green tea or emerald cloud green tea), a sprig of fresh mint, or a splash of cream (pairs well with the more robust gunpowder green tea). Add sweetener if desired and pour over ice.
*Note: The longer you infuse the tea, the more robust the flavor. If this is your first time making it, try your cold brew at 6 hours and then decide if you want to infuse it longer for more flavor.
Are you going to give this a try?? Let me know what you think!
Slippery elm bark powder is a wonderful herb used for healing common digestive ailments. It has no known toxic effects and therefore is considered safe for children, pregnant women, and adults a like.
Due to its demulcent properties slippery elm in used to heal irritated and inflamed mucous membranes along the digestive tract, including esophageal irritation, GERD/acid reflux, and gastric ulcers. It is also used to alleviate both diarrhea and constipation.
When mixed with boiling water slippery elm becomes a slimy consistency due to its unique carbohydrates called polysaccharides. These polysaccharides are considered prebiotics and may therefore cause symptoms in some patients with SIBO. If you do have SIBO, it may be best to use slippery elm slowly and cautiously and monitor for symptoms. Usually, patients tolerate slippery elm well after SIBO has been treated. However, for most slippery elm is very well tolerated and is considered safe for regular use.
You can drink slippery elm as a tea in combination with other demulcents in Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat blend, you can use slippery elm lozenges, or you can make your own slippery elm gruel (my preferred method) and eat it straight or mix it into other mucilaginous porridges like oatmeal or buckwheat porridge.
Slippery Elm Gruel
Making a gruel is a great way to get larger therapeutic amounts of the herb in one sitting. If you are new to slippery elm gruel, I would suggest starting with a smaller amount to see if you tolerate it well (especially if you have SIBO or IBS). Ideally, it is best to take the gruel on an empty stomach such as before bed or in between meals. To enhance the the flavor of the slippery elm bark gruel I like to add ground fennel and ginger due to their gut healing benefits, but these are optional. I also like to sweeten it with a little drizzle of honey to make it taste like a little treat. You can find slippery elm bark powder at your local herb shop. In Bellingham, you can find it at Living Earth Herbs and Wonderland Herbs. You can also find slippery elm bark powder online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Makes 1 Serving
1/2 tablespoon slippery elm bark powder
Sprinkle ground fennel (optional)
Sprinkle ground ginger (optional)
Pinch sea salt (optional)
3-4 tablespoons boiling water
Drizzle honey (optional)
Bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the slippery elm bark powder with the optional spices, and salt. Pour in the hot water, and begin to stir vigorously with a spoon until a gelatinous pudding forms. Stir in optional honey and enjoy.
Have you used slippery elm before?
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.