Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cleansing Green Curry Soup

I am currently suffering from one of the worst colds I have had in a long time! Since changing my diet, I have hardly had a sick day and when I do get sick, it is quite mild and short lived (and I used to get sick ALL the time!!!)  So it is no coincidence that this cold hit me much harder at a time when I haven't been making the best food choices. I have fallen into a rut and have come to the realization that I have the winter blues! 

We have had an unseasonal winter for Colorado with colder temps and more snow than usual and you would think this Midwestern girl could handle it, but not my sensitive soul!!! But one amazing lesson that I am finally starting to understand is that life is all about ups and downs and that falling into an occasional slump is going to happen for the rest of my life. But it is how I react to it that will determine how low it goes and how long it lasts. I did not get this concept in my 20's so I frequently suffered from mild depression and anxiety, but with a little life experience, a lot of self awareness, and a huge desire to improve myself, I can proudly say I have overcome anxiety and depression. Now don't get me wrong, I still have my moments of despair, outrageous fears, excessive worrying, and falling back into bad habits, and sometimes those moments even last a week or two, but I don't attach to them like I used to. And I don't beat myself up. I know myself well enough now to know that I won't let myself just stay in a perpetual rut of self loathing and bad choices. In our society, eating clean and allergy free can be quite difficult and time consuming and sometimes I just get overwhelmed and need a break. Fortunately, my food sensitivities don't cause immediate discomfort (though sometimes I wish they did because they would be easier to stay away from!). But, when I find myself gradually adding in more animal products, gluten, sugar, preservatives and coffee, my body eventually feels more aches and pains, sluggish and bloated. 

Thankfully, spring is just around the corner and for me, spring has always been the start of my new year. I feel rejuvenated, inspired, motivated and energized. It is the perfect time to cleanse the body of toxins and awaken the body from hibernation. And meals, like this green curry soup, are just the ticket to jumpstarting the process!

Green Curry Soup

This soup was inspired by a recipe I found in Eating Well magazine. I took it to the next level by making my own Asian stock which is incredibly nourishing and makes enough to use for this recipe and freeze several jars. Using chicken broth, vegetable broth or water is perfectly fine, but if you want that extra cleansing factor, making your own stock is incredibly easy and incredibly worth it! If using Basil Green Curry Sauce, use up to 6 tablespoons and less coconut milk if you like it spicy, but use less sauce and more coconut milk if you want to tame the spice. And don't sweat it if you can't find lemon grass!

1 yellow onion sliced into crescent moons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups green beans cut into 1" pieces
1 cup thinly sliced broccoli stems (save the crowns for another use)
5 scallions, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced or grated
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons thai green curry paste or 3-6 tablespoons Meals in a Minute Basil Green Curry Sauce
4-5 cups broth or water
2 1/2 cups shititake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon grass (peel outer leaves until you reach tender center)
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
8 cups gently packed spinach, chopped (half pureed in food processor with a little water/optional)
1/2-1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
Brown Rice Noodles (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat and add sliced yellow onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add in green beans, broccoli stems, green onion, garlic, ginger and serrano pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add in the green curry paste or sauce and mix until well coated. Add the stock and mushrooms and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are tender. Meanwhile, cook up your thin rice noodles, if using,  in boiling water as directed, then drain. Add in lemon grass, cilantro, spinach and coconut milk and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Spoon some noodles into a bowl and ladle soup over top. Enjoy!

Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the finished product. I needed to run a quick errand so gave my husband instructions to cook half the package of noodles, but forgot to tell him to keep them separate. He cooked the whole package and added them all to the soup so we had Green Curry Soup Pasta that night instead :)

Asian Stock:

1 large onion, quartered
1 head garlic, cut in half cross-wise
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 inches ginger, chopped
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, chopped 
1 bunch cilantro stems
1 inch piece kombu (optional)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 tsp sea salt
8-12 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large soup pot and cover with water to within 2 inches from the top. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2-4 hours. Strain over a large bowl. Use what you need for the recipe and than jar the rest to freeze, making sure it is completely cooled first.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Starting Seeds

So I had this brilliant idea that my two year old and I would have a lovely afternoon planting seeds. What a test in patience! I think for this year he will be much better at watching them grow and picking the finished product!  I have been growing warm season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, cukes, beans and herbs) for over 6 years now, but after starting the square foot gardening method (more on that later) I am venturing into cool season veggies! Most of the seeds (carrots, radishes, beets, snap peas, lettuce, spinach) can be sown right into the garden  a month or so before the last spring frost, but some, particularly veggies in the cabbage family, need to be started now and then transplanted into the garden later. I have never started my own seeds indoors and I think I am opening a door into a wonderful new aspect of gardening!!! Now I won't be at the mercy of the nurseries not so great variety of GMO plants. Which opens another door into yet another fabulous world of gardening...heirloom seeds! Most of the plants grown these days are genetically modified but heirloom seeds are ancient seeds from around the world that have earned their success through natural selection. And the variety is out of this world!!! Yellow and white cucumbers, pink, white, and purple radishes, striped beets, yellow and red carrots, purple cauliflower, more varieties of tomatoes than you can imagine, and, well, you get the picture!  So yesterday I planted 3 cabbage, 3 broccoli, 3 cauliflower, 4 kale and 4 rainbow chard, and now the adventure begins! Over the growing season, I will break down gardening in a way that will make even the most hesitant and skeptical person excited to garden! It truly is quite easy, especially with the square foot method, and probably ranks as one of the most rewarding, and satisfying hobbies to take up.
I will be starting my tomatoes and peppers by seed when I get back from Florida around March 20th, so if anyone is interested in joining me, here is what you will need:
1. a seed growing kit like the one above with drainage tray, individual cells, and a cover
2. good potting soil
3. labels (I used popsicle sticks)
4. your seeds (I ordered mine online from
5. a grow light. They are pretty pricey but it is a one time investment. If you are confident that you have a really sunny spot in your house, you can always start that way and invest in one down the road if you are not successful. 
6. And if you are getting in to gardening, you just might as well order Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot gardening book because it is pretty much the best gardening resource you will own.
7. And don't forget you need a spot to grow them!!! As you will learn from the square foot method, all you need is a 4ftx4ft square, preferably raised, in a really sunny spot. If you are new to gardening, I would just start with one. You can always add more squares down the road as you become more experienced (and if you have the room)
This is my garden from last year. I currently have four 4x4 squares and am planning to add 4 more so that I can get into growing cutting flowers too. But one 4x4 square will have 16 square feet which means you can grow 16 varieties of vegetables, so it will easily keep a family of 4 in salad veggies for the season.


Thursday, February 23, 2012


Hello, and welcome to my blog about cooking and gardening. I have always enjoyed cooking, but when I became a mother and started a battle with food sensitivities, cooking became a passion. And what doesn't go better with cooking than gardening? I am taking my garden to a new level this year (think heirloom)  and thought I would take you all along for the ride. I am still in the process of figuring out the best way to eat for me...I have been gluten free, dairy free, nightshade free, sugar free, soy free, egg free, and vegan. I am sure I am leaving out a few but you name it, I've done it. Overall, I feel better than I ever have but I am still trying to find my ideal diet that will take me from feeling better to feeling my best! One thing is for sure, I eat as seasonally and organically as possible and thrive on as Michael Pollen calls it "Real Food"...which means nothing made by scientists!!! (well, almost nothing!) I recently came across a line of gourmet sauces and products that are all allergen free that I absolutely fell in love with! I have gotten so used to cooking from scratch because bottled stuff at the store either has stuff in it that I am trying to avoid, or I know I can make it way tastier at home. So when I discovered this product, I was so psyched by the fact that I could make an incredibly healthy and delicious meal literally in minutes and that it would bring such a huge new variety of meals to my kitchen that I decided to become a chef consultant for the company, Meals in a Minute! They are a local company that just launched and are driven to become a household name. So I finally decided it was time to start a blog. I look forward to sharing with you my adventures and tips in gardening, inspiring you with fabulously healthy and nutritious recipes, and introducing you to a line of products that will not only change your life in the kitchen, but just might be the business opportunity you have been looking for!