Monday, September 27, 2010

Broccoli Bacon Potato Soup

Come September Mother Nature and I go to battle with each other.  While I'm demanding cooler weather and fall colors, the sun continues to beat its hot rays down on my patch of earth while the AC clicks on once more.

Growing up on the northern coast of California, extreme temperatures in the 100's were not part of my awareness in September.  Instead my memories of September include apples, blazing oranges and reds, falling leaves, pumpkins, crisp morning air, sweaters, back-to-school, new clothes and pencil boxes.  Now living in the foothills of California several hours away from the ocean, summer insists on having its way during my favorite time of year, hence the battle.

I actually begin the fight by decorating my home with all my autumn decor on September 1 begging the summer heat to go away!  Apples, pomegranates, and figs begin to find their way into the fruit bowl as the summer peaches dwindle away.  I'm ready for fall!  I'm ready for the magickal stirrings of the land as the dry heat releases its grip and makes way for cool breezes and perhaps if luck will have it, some rain.

Even in the heat of the day, I find myself craving fall foods, especially soup!  So my Sunday in the kitchen consisted of making a broccoli potato bacon soup while cursing at the air conditioner.

Broccoli Bacon Potato Soup

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium or 4 small yellow potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (or non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme herb
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, coriander powder and nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a pot cook bacon until crispy, remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel leaving bacon drippings in the pan.
  2. Add to pot broccoli, onion, garlic and potatoes along with the olive oil.  Add the thyme herb and cook about 10 minutes until onion is translucent.
  3. Add chicken broth, the spices and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Remove bay leaf and using a potato masher, mash the soup until smooth or leave a little chunky if you like.  (or place soup in a food processor to blend if you really like velvety smooth soup)
  5. Add milk, salt and pepper.  Taste and add more spices until desired taste is achieved.
  6. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with bacon.

A bowl of fall yumminess!!

So the battle will continue and more soups will be made.  This morning I even placed pumpkins from the garden on the porch, and for dinner I'll be roasting acorn squash.  Perhaps Mother Nature will finally get my very big hint and stop this 100 degree weather non-sense.

How is fall coming along in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Leftover Quinoa

So what do you do with leftover quinoa?  Whenever I do cook a batch of quinoa, I always cook a little extra to keep in the fridge for the week.  I love opening the fridge to see a tupperware of leftover quinoa that I can transform into a lunch or a breakfast with the wave of my wand.

So this week I got a little creative and tried something new with my leftover red quinoa.  My first experiment was lunch.  I'll call it "Sauteed Veggie Quinoa with Egg and Tomato Basil Salsa".  I know its rather long, makes me feel like I'm on Chopped or Top Chef.  Of course you can take my creation and change out the vegetables to create your own taste sensation.

Sauteed Veggie Quinoa with Egg and Tomato Basil Salsa
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 1 handful of ripped beet greens (or use a green of your choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Handful of fresh basil ripped (why chop with a knife when you have hands that can tear?)
  • 1 cup leftover quinoa
  • Several spoonfuls of tomato basil salsa (see recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan.  Add fennel and beet greens, sauteeing until tender.  Add garlic and fresh basil right before greens and fennel are done cooking.  Season with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder.  Place veggies on plate.
  2. Add leftover quinoa and some water to your pan to get quinoa warmed up.  Let quinoa heat up while water evaporates making sure to stir so the quinoa doesn't stick.  Add the quinoa to your veggies.
  3. Now add the butter to your pan and once melted fry your egg however you like.  Add to the veggies and quinoa.
  4. Spoon some tomato basil salsa on top and enjoy!!
 Tomato Basil Salsa ~ chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, chopped garlic, chopped red onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar.  I don't measure anything on this one.  Just fill a bowl with your tomatoes, however much basil you like, as much garlic and onions as you like, season with salt and pepper to taste, olive oil is about 1 -2 tbsp but you can add more if you like, and vinegar is about 2-3 tsps.  Taste as you go and keep adding until you are happy!

A little lunch love

So that was my lunch.  This morning when I got up to make breakfast for the girls before school, my mind started humming again when I saw the last of the leftover quinoa and an apple in the fruit bowl.  Hmmmm, how about quinoa porridge with sauteed apples!

Quinoa Porridge with Sauteed Apples
  • 1 apple, cored sliced and cut in half (any kind of apple you like is fine)
  • Leftover quinoa
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp butter
  • Walnuts, chopped or crushed
  • Sea salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple syrup or Agave Nectar
  1. Heat a pan with the 1 tbsp butter, when hot add the chopped apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and let cook until soft (think apple pie filling)
  2. In a pot, place leftover quinoa with some water to warm up the quinoa.  Add the 1 tsp of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon.  (feeling creative? try other spices too ~ ginger, cloves nutmeg)
  3. Place quinoa in bowls and top with sauteed apples and walnuts
  4. For a little sweetness, drizzle with maple syrup or agave nectar

A Little Bowl of Delight

The easiest way to think of quinoa is to think of rice.  However you would use rice, replace with quinoa.  This gives you some variety in your diet and more nutrition.  The possiblities are endless with quinoa! 

You don't have to be a chef to create delicious meals.  With determination and a willingness to be adventurous you too can be a Kitchen Witch.

Want another quinoa recipe?  Check out my Kitchen Witch Coaching Facebook page. 
  • Just click on my Facebook Badge to the left of this blog
In the Notes section there is a delicious recipe for Quinoa Muffins!  Join me and all my fans as we celebrate food, nutrition, health and wellness.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wheat Free Gluten Free LOVE

I'm pretty sure I have an intolerance to wheat and gluten.  For years I've been trying to get rid of that awful "belly bloat" that makes me sometimes look like I'm 5 months pregnant, the painful cramps in my lower abdomen that make me lie on the floor in the fetal position, the dark circles under my eyes as if I forgot to take off my Maybelline and the continual stuffy "feel-like-I-need-to-blow-my-nose-but-nothing-comes-out-feeling." 

For several years I managed a food coop and in that role I discovered a whole new world of foods, including wheat-free and gluten-free products.  Off and on I made attempts at eliminating wheat/gluten foods from my diet, but my attempts were weak at best and the loaf of rice bread made a better door stop than a tasty sandwich.

Since enrolling at Integrative Nutrition this past summer, I made a serious committment to myself that once and for all I would solve the mystery of my ailments.  Though I have done a MUCH better job than I have ever done before in eliminating wheat and gluten, they still creep in.  But luckily being the scientist that I am, I take well to journaling and documenting my progress.  And so far, the results are definitely showing an intolerance.  Not an allergy, but an intolerance.  An intolerance that rips my intestines apart and leaves me achey and raw!  I even researched IBS and Celiac.  Thank the heavens I am not Celiac!  Though I do have great sympathy to those who are. 

So a little trip to the health food store, well not so little as I have to drive 50 minutes to get there, was like going to heaven!  So many new wheat/gluten free products on the shelves since those days of when I managed the coop.  I couldn't believe it!  And neither could my wallet!  Since then I've found breadcrumbs, pie crust, brownie mix, english muffins, bagels, and much more that I have yet to try.  But my one staple that I absolutely love is Pamela's Pancake & Baking Mix.  I use it for everything.  I actually buy it by the case at Amazon! 

Here is a little wheat-free gluten-free love for you and a bread machine recipe using this mix.  I told you I use it for everything!

Bread Machine Recipe
3/4 cup very warm water
2 tablespoons oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon honey or white sugar
3 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
2 pkg instant yeast (4-1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all liquid ingredients into bread machine, then add dry ingredients. Turn on machine using white bread setting. This recipe makes a 1-1/2 pound loaf. Use a serrated knife to cut slices or freeze loaf first and then slice.

Try adding sesame seeds, poppy seeds or sunflower seeds to dough while mixing, or add 1/2 cup raisins and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. 
This bread makes fantastic grilled sandwiches, cinnamon toast, and french toast.

Bon apettit!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Embracing Me

There have been a few women in my life who have rocked my world.  Seems to be, that in the journey of my life, it has been women who have carried me along from one adventure, one experience to the next.  My umpteen jobs have always come about because of women.  My 9 year journey into my own soul came about because of women.  And even my passion for food and nutrition was inspired by women.

But there have only been a very few that have come into my life and literally transformed it; actually shaken me to the core.

Once such woman was Barbara Backus.  My senior year at CSU Sacramento, first day of school, sitting in Chemistry waiting for the professor.  In walks this red-headed woman in a white lab coat and proceeds to introduce herself and hand out the syllabus.  My chin was on the floor.  I couldn't move.  As my heart pounded, I could feel my brain actually killing off the old neuropathway that said "Only men are scientists" and begin the creation of a new one "Women CAN BE scientists!"

I spent every homework study hall in her office, even though I didn't need any help with my chemistry.  I just had to be near her.  Soaking in her scientist brain and desperately wanting to wear her lab coat.  Did I become a scientist?  No, unfortunately there still lived a voice in my head that had told me back when I was 20 that I couldn't be a scientist, that I wasn't good at math and science.  Well actually, that voice was wrong.  Very wrong.

I found out during that last year of college that I was actually VERY GOOD at math and science.  I scored all A's and those A's came rather easily.  My heart wept for the scientist in me that was graduating and going off to be a school teacher.  Within 5 years of teaching, I quit.  Teaching 6th graders the standards wasn't in my heart.

Since then only 2 other women have seen the scientist in me.  Yesterday, as I did a practice session with a fellow student at Integrative Nutrition (my current school), my heart was once again torn open.  After a half hour of going over my health history with this woman, she proceeded to show me how all the pieces of my life were strung together and she actually called me a scientist!  I was dumbfounded.  I was dumbfounded at how she completely saw ME!  The ME that I keep locked inside my heart, and here it was so obvious to her.

The only other woman in my life who has ever seen ME is my dearest sister in spirit, Tracy.  She is an artist, and an extraordinary one at that.  Not too long ago, back in the early spring, she sent me a package.  When I opened the package and saw the art she had created I exploded with spasms of sound that I don't think any human or animal has ever made.  There I was looking at myself wearing that white lab coat, hands on my hips, a look of "this is me world, I am a scientist!"

And now even as I write this my heart is pounding, to actually claim the word "scientist" brings shivers throughout my body.  A scientist, a nutritional scientist.  Can I actually call myself by that name?!  Can I actually shut up that voice of "I can't" in my head?  Can I actually embrace that love I had for Barbara Backus and her Chemistry class.  Can I finally after all these years embrace ME!