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.
Regular bowel movements (BMs) are essential for wellbeing. Did you know that elimination is the final step of detoxification?? After the liver has done all the heavy lifting, processing all the toxins, chemicals, and hormones into water soluble packages, they need to be eliminated via the stool and urine. If you are not pooping enough or eliminating fully, the stool stays stagnant in your colon, and the nicely packaged toxins can be reabsorbed into circulation. This can leave you feeling fatigued, “off”, and generally unwell.
How many BMs should you have each day?? Generally, 1-3 BMs is considered normal elimination. However, I have found that many of my clients that have only one BM each day, are often still struggling with "hidden" constipation. If you have a small, thin bowel movement then its likely that you are not fully evacuating, and therefore, may be constipated despite having a BM every day. This is especially relevant if this happens despite eating eating a high fiber diet. Clinically, I have found that around 2 BMs per day keeps my clients feeling their best. Also, instead of small, thin stools, they have girthy, long stools, often reporting “Selva, I almost clogged the toilet!” After a full elimination, you should feel fresh, light, and energized...and ready for another nourishing meal!
If you are struggling with healthy elimination, then try this Poo Happy Smoothie. It is naturally low FODMAP and therefore is a great option for anyone struggling with IBS. The mucilaginous rich fibers from the okra and chia seeds help lubricate the gut while the aloe vera helps sooth and heal the gut lining. Plus, aloe vera juice is also a natural laxative! Pineapple contains protein digesting enzymes, and both lemon and ginger help stimulate motility. And the combination of all the ingredients together, makes you feel like you are in Hawaii. Not only will your belly be happy, but your taste buds too!
Poo Happy Smoothie 💩🍍💩🍍
Makes two 1 cup servings
1 med. banana
1 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen okra
1/4 cup Lakewood organic pure aloe vera juice
1-2 tsp chia seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled/chopped
2 scoops Great Lakes hydrolyzed collagen
2 T organic coconut cream
1/2 cup filtered water
Generous pinch of sea salt
Directions: Blend together until smooth. Divide into 2 servings and drink on empty stomach, either upon waking or before meals. It may take 24 hours after consumption for bowels to move.
Fresh rolls have always been near and dear to my heart. I remember the first time I made them myself. I worked as a waitress at a local Thai restaurant and decided I had to try making them myself. It can't be that hard, right?? So I made some deluxe fresh rolls filled with every vegetable I had in the fridge and lots of fresh herbs. They turned out even better than the restaurant version, which usually are filled with additional rice noddles and just a few veggies to keep the cost low. Instead my rolls were true SALAD rolls, full of flavor and nutrition. Over the years I have made a variety of different versions, but this one is very satisfying, including the texture of the bite and the flavor of the ingredients. When it comes to making fresh rolls, you want to try and avoid tough veggies to avoid breaking the rice noodle wrap. Alternatively, you have to process the veggies in a way to reduce their "breaking potential", for example grating carrots or making cucumber ribbons. The ingredients I chose for this version don't take much extra work, which is so important these days as I have a toddler running around. Plus, the sweet and spicy peanut (or almond) sauce is soooo yummy I use it as a salad dressing, drizzled over rice/quinoa bowls, and of course with these fresh rolls. Unlike the restaurant peanut sauce, this is made without sugar and processed oils, but still has a ton of flavor. I often use almond butter in place of peanut butter and it tastes just as delicious!
Fresh Lettuce: I always have a fresh head of red or green leaf lettuce on hand. For these fresh rolls I soak and wash the lettuce leaves and then remove the main bottom stem while I rip the leaves into smaller pieces. I choose this type of lettuce over romaine because it is more tender. You can use pre-washed packaged greens too, but they are generally not quite as gentle and "fluffy".
Zucchini Noodles: In place of the extra rice noodles that often make their appearance in restaurant fresh rolls, I julienne zucchini to make fine zucchini noodles. This gives the fresh roll a nice tender bite.
Mango: For me mango is essential in a fresh roll. It adds a little bit of sweet/sour flavor that really hits the spot in fresh rolls. They also provide a little bit of a meaty bite. Try to find a mango that is neither too ripe or too green so that you are stuck with fibers in your teeth or too firm of pieces that could break the rice wrap.
Avocado: Fresh rolls without avocado are just...not complete. Avocado gives the creamy texture that pairs wonderfully with mango. I suggest using a large avocado so that each slice is nice and thick.
Fresh Herbs: This part is the secret sauce!! I like to use a combination of cilantro and basil or cilantro and mint. I chop a good amount of both herbs and add a good tablespoon to each fresh roll. This provides a lot of flavor and enhances the freshness of the roll. Sometimes I also add in some fresh alfalfa or broccoli sprouts if I have them on hand.
Makes 4+ rolls
8 sheets rice wraps (2 per roll) - may make more based on ingredients available
Lettuce (washed and ripped into small pieces) or bagged mixed greens
Fresh chopped herbs (cilantro & basil or cilantro & mint or all three together!)
Zucchini, julienned into thin threads
Mango, peeled and sliced
Prep all the veggies first and lay out on a large platter. Place 2 inches of water in a large sauté pan and heat over high until simmering. Reduce heat to low. Place a large plate next to your stove for easy transfer of the cooked wraps.
Take two rice wraps and dunk the first half into the water for a few seconds. Gentle lay the cooked and soften end over the lip of the sauté pan so that the uncooked half is now immersed in the simmering water. Use a large spoon to press the wrap into the water gently. Then, using your hands, carefully pick up the part of the wrap that is over the edge of the pan, and transfer the wrap to your plate. This can be a little tricky because it can be hot on the fingers. Now it's ready to be filled!
First place a handful of greens into the center and top with a tablespoon or so of freshly chopped herbs. Then top with zucchini noodles, mango, and avocado. Gently fold the lower edge up and over the veggies, then fold in the left and right sides, and roll up like a burrito. Set aside and repeat with the remaining wraps. Cut in half prior to serving.
Serve with sweet and spicy peanut sauce as an appetizer or along side a protein of choice. In this picture I served my fresh rolls with pan seared rare grass-fed top sirloin steak cut into thin slices.
Tips: Use two rice wraps per fresh roll. This helps maintain the integrity of the roll and avoids tearing. Also, always start with the lettuce and herbs first, then top with the other ingredients. If you want to make the fresh rolls a complete meal, then you can add a protein (like tofu or shrimp) as well.
Sweet & Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes ~ 1 cup
¼ cup coconut aminos (I used TJ's)
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon grated ginger (I used microplaner)
1 clove pressed/grated garlic (I used microplaner)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup salted creamy peanut butter (or almond butter)
Sea salt (generous pinch or two)
In a medium-sized bowl whisk coconut aminos, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, water, and maple syrup together with a fork. Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and whisk again. Add 1/2 cup peanut/almond butter and combine well. Season with salt to taste. Thin with extra water or vinegar if desired.
Note: This sauce/dressing thickens up a little when refrigerated. You can thin it with extra water or gently warm up in microwave for 5-10 seconds if desired.
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.