Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Set some carrots aflame, make them your soup.

I really dig Occasions magazine. It like to read about all the newly-released alcohol I can't afford, and dream about the ones I will purchase someday. I also enjoy the recipes, usually created by local chefs and paired with wine, beer or spirits. While I often doddle and procrastinate for years before trying a recipe that I've clipped out or copied down, I made this recipe the day after I first read it. Roasted Carrot and Cumin Soup? It called to me. This one's incredibly easy.

About to set these carrots on fire!
I made mine with rainbow carrots, so the colour isn't a normal carrot orange but a deeper, more pumkiny hue. Root vegetables are very grounding, connecting us to our centre and helping us settle down and not be so flighty. Goes nicely with this time of the year, don't you think? These qualities are enhanced further when you roast them (the carrots, not the qualities). If you've got a bag of carrots (preferably local and doubly preferable-- unsprayed or organic), and a decently-stocked spice cupboard, you can make this soup right now. Get lost in a book or some work, and you'll blink before this soup is done. My carrots only took 40 minutes to roast, as I cut them pretty small, therefore shortening the time between being tempted by the awesome aroma of roasting carrots, garlic, and... oh wait. I used garlic in lieu of onions in this recipe, as Brucifer abhors onions. 
Cookin' this soup twice, gettin' all the beta carotene!
Here's how to roast garlic: Take a head of garlic and chop off the top so a little bit of each garlic clove is exposed. Rub the whole thing in olive oil. Cover it in foil. Chuck it on  the pan with the carrots in the oily spice rub. When the carrots are done, remove the foil from the bulb (careful, it will be hot-- let it cool some!), and squeeze the garlic up and out of the holes in the top of the  skins. The garlic will ooze out nicely (a bit sticky maybe, but I've still found this to be the best way). Puree the roasted garlic with the roasted carrots, the water or broth (less if you like it thicker) and you're golden. I also added some nutritional yeast to mine, for the extra vitaminions! 

This bowl of soup has a nipple.
Let me know if you make this soup. Carrot makes for good soup. I'll totally root for it! 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Miso Soup for Ninjas!

Miso (a fermented, aged soybean paste) is one of the most nourishing foods on the planet. Really really. It's been around since 800 BC, and there's probably a pretty solid reason for that. It's a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, many B vitamins, as well as easy-to-digest protein. It's possible you find that boring. Stay with me.... it also helps improve crappy, weak digestion, is used to help treat cancer, to alkalinize overly acidic bodies, as a libido tonic (you heard me), as well as to heal several types of intestinal infections. Miso's got lots of antioxidants such as sapoins and melanoidins (moreso in the darker, aged versions). It's got lots of good bacteria which increases the overall usability of nutrients as well as myriad other benefits. Miso helps you rid your body of excess tobacco. In traditional Japan, miso is still used to remove tar from smoker's pipes! That blew my mind just a bit.

I promised you guys forever ago that I'd give you my recipe for miso soup. Not sure why it took me so long, but it did. Allow me to mention in advance that this is the Beany von Doom take on the traditional miso soup. A real miso soup is usually mostly broth, peppered with a few vegetables, some tofu and seaweed and is generally meant as a starter course. When it's a main meal, it's generally a light meal meant for healing. Enter my miso soup. It is a meal that will not leave you wanting and I'm not frigging around. Adjust the quantity depending on your appetite or the number of folks you intend to feed. 

Basically, I boil about two cups of water in a small pot, add three or four dried shitake mushrooms, between one and a half and two cups of seasonal vegetables (make sure to have some greens!), a quarter of a block of fresh cubed tofu or a few pieces of frozen fried tofu, and some kamut soba or spaghetti. Simmer this for 15 minutes with the lid partially askew. This way much of the water evaporates, and we're left with enough to make a broth, but not so much that you'll be full off water. 

When the vegetables are suitably tender, ladle out a bit of broth in a small bowl and add a heaping teaspoon of miso paste. If this isn't enough, you can add a bit more, but remember that miso is extremely salty! Whisk to combine, then add it back to the soup. This step is important, because if you boil the miso, the heat destroys many of its beneficial properties. To cool it down,  I add a splash of rice wine and sometimes some hot sauce or spicy seasoning. This is an awesome ninjalike move, definitely not a traditional monastic one, not that there's anything wrong with monks.

Voila. You just ate lots of vegetables for breakfast! This is actually my favourite breakfast. I'll often prepare the soup before I begin to exercise, let it simmer, then take it out to cool partway through my workout. When I'm done, it's ready, and I'm rewarded with my lovely soup. I eat it, breathe in the steam, and continue to sweat. It's awesome. It's a very alkalinizing start to your day. Your cells have a fighting chance!

Do you make miso soup? What the heck is yours like? What else do you do with miso?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kale Satan!

I've probably eaten too much kale today and it's only 2pm. Kale, as you may or may not know, is a leafy green vegetable which has many varieties. It's got the highest antioxidant rating of any commonly-eaten vegetable (I'm sure someone would debate this, but it's generally held to be true), it's beautiful, and I think it's generally pretty badass. I went from hating it to tolerating it to liking it to loving it. The nutritionist in me was the one to push. "LOVE KALE OR DIE, BEEYOTCH!" I said to myself, or some such thing. I said the same with seaweed. I made it happen in both instances. With enough willingness, I believe you can make yourself like any food. I don't even mind cilantro now.

Brassica bra, or bra-ssica. 
Yup. If I ever get married, I'd do it in the autumn, and carry a huge bunch of kale down the aisle with me. I love holding a humongous bunch of kale. Makes me feel very alive, very strong (lots of vitamin K and calcium in those leaves!), and very beautiful. 

Anyway, back to kale consumption! This morning I woke up on day two of my cleanse and was keen to make a whole juice with my Blendtec blender. I concocted a juice from some purple kale, blueberries, a pear, an apple, and some ginger. I put too much water in it and it tasted kinda bland, so I won't bog you down with a shitty recipe. But I was feeling MIGHTY good after that, and additionally after my peppermint yerba mate with with almond milk and syrup from the tit of the Mother Maple Tree (a crude yet apt analogy from the geniuses at Epic Meal Time). 

Fastforward to my first meal of the day, after recording my workout on Fitocracy, I decided to make some Hail to the Kale salad, a recipe from the company who shan't be named where I used to work (although you can click to see). Brucifer isn't too into vinegary dressings so he wasn't into this, but I ate a ton of it alongside some sprouted grain bread and some happier eggs (free-range from a cute little Menonite farm). 

Goth Kale Salad
Anyway, I feel like a crazy person I feel so good right now. Part of it's the cleanse, part of it's the juice from this morning, and part of it I'm sure is the kale overload (and the sunshine outside)! I'm about to go for a massive walk in the park to check out some squirrels. I'll report back if the kale was an overload (I'll be able to tell). Because you know, you can overdo everything (even kale and links and parentheses-- what the hell is my problem today!?) you like or love kale? If so, how do you like it?