I don’t know about you , but after a month of what feels like to many desserts, chocolates, cheese and aged meats-I was not feeling like my best self. A cleanse can be a good way to bring you back to food awareness and to good eating habits that make you feel good.
Let me be clear-I did not fast! I am advocating a weekend of laying low eating healthfully and drinking water frequently while removing heavy foods, stimulants and intoxicants from your diet. Ideally this would be a weekend of rest and relaxation. If you cant lay low than you can just do a few of these things mindfully. Otherwise embrace it and enjoy a weekend that is just about you.
Our cleanse story:
Our cleanse started out great on a Saturday morning with glasses of water with a good squeeze of lemon. Surprisingly my guy who-I have to say was not to excited about the idea of cleansing and really thought I was finally going all “nutritionist” on him- was on board.
There was no coffee and no yummy usual Saturday morning breakfast with bacon and sausage. Instead there was oatmeal for him and kale eggs and whole grain toast for me.
We did relax a bit for the morning- but we were couch shopping this weekend and super excited to do so-so we were off to town. Sitting in couches seemed like an ok activity for this weekend. During our errands we did pick up a couple iced green teas without sweetener from Starbucks-delicious detox! We only went to two stores and the last errand was to the grocery store for healthy salad and soup fixings. I found myself alone at the cart which isn’t new but soon turned the corner by the deli to discover my guy snacking on three chicken fingers. I reminded him that fried…greasy…meats…were not cleansing! Of course he explained that he was near death and was not going to make it to our salads, apparently. So-there was that. This is a good reminder that healthy snacks should also be included in your cleanse in order to keep the energy/calories up-and avoid grabbing inappropriate foods. We returned home and did make those healthy salads. My favorite salad from the weekend was the fennel, orange, butter lettuce and parsley salad-it was so refreshing with the soup.
We had a very relaxing afternoon. Later that afternoon I made up our HerbPharm Liver Support milk thistle blend extract in water in shot glasses and we toasted to our health. My guy said it was the worse thing he has ever had in a shot glass. We made a white bean kale soup for dinner and another big salad and it was delicious. We really embraced the relaxing vibe for the evening. There was soaking in the bath, lounging by the fire and ended the evening with a movie without devices.
Things were going great But then…we got an invitation from friends to a new food place in town that we could not turn down. So we-mostly me-made a healthy eating plan. It is a wine and small plates kind of place so I got on line and checked their menu. Roasted Brussels sprouts and rice paper veggie rolls-check. If we could go and order those and only have one glass of red wine I would still be feeling great. So we toasted with a round of milk thistle shots and headed out to enjoy some good company. I ended up ordering a salad with my brussls sprouts which were delicious and had a single rice paper veggie roll half. I did stick with my one glass of cabernet. I will not mention the pot pie my partner had…oops.
So I may have adjusted this plan to fit my life but I was inspired and spent the entire next work week starting my day with the lemon water before my workouts, packing healthy complex beautiful salads with lunches, including healthful fruit and nuts for snacks, keeping my portions smaller, avoiding sweets, candy and chocolate and even tossing some from the holiday, taking my milk thistle shot and drinking my warm zen green teas at work. And I feel great and my body feels more balanced and regular again.
If you want to try this for yourself I wish you the best of luck and advise you to take on only what feels right for you and what you can achieve. I hope you feel as great as I did!
Tips for your Winter Cleanse
- Have a glass of water with lemon first thing every morning.
- Include a salad with lunch and dinner with powerful detoxifying ingredients:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Sweet Potatoes
- Garlic & Onion
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts
- Enjoy Soups full of vegetables, greens, beans/lentils, herbs and spices.
- Eliminate caffeine and alcohol. You can take this as far as comfortable full caffeine detox is very achievable, but will take some support. So if your a 3 cup a day person maybe try 1-2 cups and a green tea and make sure and not put to many demands on yourself over the weekend.
- Take a break from meat and use beans, peas and lentils instead.
- Avoid greasy, cheesy, fried, preserved, and salty foods.
- Try some detox herbs in teas or extract form to support your liver: Milk thistle or Dandelion Root. (Note: Those of you allergic to ragweed and plants like it should avoid Milk thistle & Dandelion. Additionally if taking pharmaceuticals or if you are in a disease state please check with your pharmaisist or doctor before adding anything to your routines to avoid drug interactions. If pregnant or breastfeeding-don’t cleanse without the help of a practitioner.)
- Use detox spices in your cooking and cut back on the salt:
- Soak in warm baths or even better sauna if available. Remember to hydrate well, cool down gradually and follow all health precautions at your sauna.
- Drink 7-8 glasses of pure delicious water a day.
- Drink a couple of mugs of green tea or iced green tea (no sweetener)-a powerful antioxidant!
- Rest and stay warm. Sit by the fire or under a blanket, read and relax. Take a media fast=no bad news, no ipad, no over stimulation.
- Include light movement, walk or stretch, try some light gentle yoga poses.
- If you are spiritual sit, pray, meditate.
- Shock your system with short burst of cold=Hydrotherapy! Hydrotherapy is healing it basically increases circulation. My favorite way to do this is to walk outside with bare feet for a few minutes then right back in to warm up. You can get a more effective and more thrilling effect by changing the shower water to cold and let it hit your core for 10 seconds then back to warm. You can do this two or three times during your shower, but end on warm. The most important thing to remember is that you quickly come back to a warm and cozy temperature.
DONT CLEANSE if your sick, working, pregnant, post-partum, competing in sports or training-these are all special nutrition needs situations so just take care of yourself first.
Note: When I use the word Detox I am referring to processes already occurring in your body. The foods herbs and lifestyle tips above help support those ongoing attempts by your body to create health.
I do not advocate juice cleanses or fasting or any other extreme calorie restricted cleansing for the average person. I do like juices and smoothies but winter is not the best time for these foods. Cleansing in today’s busy world should not involve fasting. I recommended fasting only in special circumstances and always working with a practitioner. We need calories and energy for all that we do and we do a lot. A better approach is to fuel yourself through your cleanse and be really pure about your food and beverage choices and activities.
I have survived the holidays with the help of our annual tradition of a post holiday road trip getaway. We always start this adventure leaving out of the north bay area and headed north in some way. New to our adventures is a December 26th stop at Lagunitas Brewing Company Tap Room in Petaluma.
If you haven’t been-Go! I so appreciate the laid back vibe, the beer and sitting outside in the warm sun. It is the perfect place to decompress from the errands, the gifting, the parties the gatherings, all busyness of the holidays. I have not had a bad thing to eat here and the combinations are tasty and sometimes surprising. I was starving by the time I got there on this particular afternoon so a starter of wings would of course be in order. These things are not your usual wings. For starters they are not fried and they are not small. They are whole chicken wings that are brined and smoked to perfection. They are covered in a sticky spicy and delicious chili sauce. They are served with my favorite accompaniment crunchy cool jicama sticks with a cilantro lime dipping sauce…YUM!!
I am a big fan of Lagunitas IPA and have been for years but my current favorite is the Born Yesterday pale ale and no you cant find it in a bottle anymore…so sad. So in my beautiful Lagunitas mason jar was the cool crisp and perfectly hoppy born yesterday cooling my hot chicken wing lips.
And the eating went on…nothing like a nutritionist on a bender.
Up next was a cheese burger- cambezola cheese-carmalized onions-medium rare burger and it was of course out of this world delicious as well. There burgers come with salads which is delicious with all that rich burger and somehow makes it all feel right. Other dishes on our table included a smoked brisket sandwich, soft pretzels and more burgers and for those of you who appreciate beer Lagunitas should not be a new name for you.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Petaluma, CA
Tours daily-start with samplers-bring your dog-sit outside-don’t forget to hit the gift shop for your Lagunitas schwag on the way out!
Our next stop on our adventure was Healdsburg CA-ok so we did not make it s0 far and that was on purpose. We junked our way through old town Petaluma (don’t miss the Seed Bank 199 Petaluma Blvd N-cant eat it have to grow it first) and moved on up to the cute little town of Healdsburg. Our plan of attack was to hit the downtown shops (including my favorite tea shop Dragonfly Tea Co), grab a cocktail and roll into dinner. It is really difficult to pass up food or drink at Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar. This place is a smash up of east coast US meets spicy Latin/South America and it is fabulous. First off the bar has attention to detail down, bottles of Blanton’s bourbon, and brandied cherries…hello whose up for whiskey sour done right! Our evening was rich with friends and fresh oysters-a tradition on this trip. I cannot say enough about the little sweet briny oysters you can find nearby the northern California coast. We shared dozens on that day from Hog Island Oyster Company over in Tomales Bay, CA. Loved the starbirds and walker creek oysters. The evening rolled on into many small plates including grilled fish tacos, and amazing lobster roll, carmalized Brussels sprouts with linguica and blue cheese, almond crusted sole, beet salad with goat cheese mouse and basil, calamari with organge chili gremolata. There plates are served small or sectioned into smaller servings and intended to share-I love that. Everything was delicious-I already want another lobster roll. We had a long wonderful evening of eats here and also want to shout out to their bloody Mary’s and Hamachi Ceviche from another adventure here. This place is a pleasant surprise.
Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar Healdsburg, CA
Order the oysters, lobster roll, flat iron steak, fish tacos,
Hog Island Oyster Company Tomales Bay, CA
Available here, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Napa and more
On the road again…
Up the coast we roamed stopping at cute shops and jukin along the way!
It was rainy and cold on the coast but we made the best of it with brunch and shopping in Mendocino-I love Mendocino!
Flow Restaurant Mendocino, CA
Great view. As for the food no complaints but no raves either biscuits and gravy, juevos rancheros and a bloody mary!
We made our way to fort bragg where the rain continued, but that was fine with us. We had no agenda and no place to be. We had a view of the ocean and soon wandered downtown to grab a hot beverage. The town was a little sleepy on this Sunday but we found ourselves stopping in to the north coast brewery and grabbing a few bottles of their Rasputin (for family) and IPA to go. We wanted a quite scene so opted for Italian take out at Cucina Verona downtown. They were more than accommodating and friendly and if we were coming back I would sit at the bar. We took our stuff back to the fireplace and relaxed over delicious minestrone soup and garlic bread and eventually dug into creamy pesto linguini with prawns and petrale sole picatta. Everything was good and was washed down with a lovely 2014 Assemblage Blanc from Concannon Vineyard in Livermore, CA (thank you cousin Spencer! and I want a case of this for summer!).
Cucina Verona Fort Bragg, CA
I am coming back to try the butternut squash lasagna and a pizza!
That was the end of our adventure as we headed to the new year. It is amazing what a couple days downtime will do for you. You should try it sometime.
Note: Sorry for the lack of pics-post Petaluma …in Willi’s the atmosphere is for eating and hanging out but not so much for picture taking. And the other images are trapped on my apple device and I am so upset that all loaded images to my PC are opening in Word that I better just post this before all devices end up in the driveway:) Deep breath!
The 100 calorie beverage is not a secret number for success it’s more about bringing awareness to your intake. Many of us can add 400 calories or more to our day… in a night out for holiday cocktails or on a chilly day going through the Starbucks drive through. We know we’re going to have adult beverages AND were going to want a hot cup of something. So be prepared and make good choices…at least most of the time.
Celebrate: Champagne sparkling wine 4oz, 100 calories. Watch your pour! Choose bruts they are less sweet =less sugars= less calories!
Watch the alcohol content-more alcohol= more calories
White wine (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Gruner) 5oz, 9-12% alcohol, 100-140 calories
Red wine (Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Syrah) 5oz, 11-13.5% alcohol, 120-160 calories
**Note: Longing for more wine info check out Wine Folly
Make it last: Wine spritzer 1/2 wine 1/2 club soda with a twist!
1 oz = 100 calories
Vodka martini 120
Whiskey sour 160
Go skinny: Vodka or tequila without sweeteners, but with lime juice and sparkling water. Be creative don’t forget to add mashed fruit (berries-apples-pomegranates) vegetables (mashed cucumbers) or herbs (basil-thyme-mint) these add a lot of flavor and antioxidants with not many calories.
Oh beer how I love thee. Preferably a closer to 7% alcohol content, complex, junipery and delicious IPA. However, if you are watching your waistline these things can derail you. More alcohol content =more body more flavor AND more calories. So our local Sierra Nevada IPA Hop Hunter at 12oz 6.2% alcohol is going to have 186 calories and some days this will work for me. Celebration ale 12oz 6.8% 214 calories. Don’t be fooled dark beers do not always mean more alcohol and more calories Deschutes Porter 12oz 5.2% 185 calories.
A skinny beer option: Session IPA’s, they are light but have lower alcohol with an IPA flavor try Ballast point Even Keel 12 oz 3.8% 114 calories.
Light beers have 100 calories or less and may be a good second or last drink option.
**Note: Craving more beer info check out realbeer: What part of beer don’t you understand?
Baby it’s Cold Outside:
Size matters! Cut the # of pumps of flavored sweetener or eliminate! Go no whip!
Short non-fat chai tea latte 103 calories
Tall Cappuccino 2% 90 calories
Trader joes hot chocolate made with water 100 calories
Starbucks short non-fat no whip mocha 110 calories
Hot tea 2 calories
**Note: Explore Starbucks drinks under 200 calories:
Above all Enjoy-drink and be merry and be safe with the people you love!
Winter weather is setting in here in northern California and warm cozy desserts to share with friends are on the menu. My latest creation was a pear, apple cranberry crisp that was simple to make and my friends were just plain crazy about.
A crisp is not a difficult dessert to create-and that is why I love them. The truth is I had a bunch of Bartlett pears getting really ripe so I took advantage of them along with a big bowl of apples from the farmers market. Combined with a little leftover thanksgiving hankering for cranberry and some dried cranberries from the pantry we had a dish.
For many the ingredients for a crisp are at hand. Seasonal fruits can be used for the filling and toppings usually include butter, flour and sugar combined with oats, nuts and spices. I like to lead with the oats and include some wheat flour because nobody misses the white flour. I also like to add in more nuts (there’s those a-monds again) and spices.
The house will smell amazing and your friends will swoon. Top with healthful plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or a scoop of REAL vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
- 3 large Bartlett Pears
- 3 Granny Smith Apples
- 1 cup Dried Cranberries
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups oatmeal
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and sliced (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 stick unsalted butter (cold)
- Preheat Oven to 375 deg F
- Peel, core and slice apples and pears and place in a large bowl. To the bowl add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, flour and spices. Stir gently to combine.
- In a medium bowl combine oatmeal topping ingredients except the butter. Stir to combine.
- Cut cold butter into slices and work with a pastry blender to mix into dry ingredients. The goal is to have little pieces of butter distributed throughout the mixture. Pour fruit mixture into 13"x9"x2" glass baking dish top liberally with oatmeal topping.
- Bake for 45 minutes over a baking sheet (to catch any bubble overs). Check and rotate and bake up to 15 minutes longer until browned on top and bubbling.
- Note: You can substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugars and feel free to use even less sweetener. I have even used tablespoons of maple syrup on a crisp when I was covering super sweet summer stone fruits.
- Some may substitute coconut oil for butter and that works well also.
Oh the pomegranate! So much work so little pleasure…WHAT! No-Not really. What I mean is I can commit to freeing half of the arils from their shell then I get a little bored and I would never get enough to juice them. Looking for opportunities to easily include pomegranates I discovered a beautiful local cooking sauce; SkyLake Ranch Pomegranite Balsamic Grill Sauce. It has exactly the sweet and tart taste that I love about pomegranates only elevated. It is the perfect glaze for my holiday meatballs.
I love when savory meat dishes join together with bright flavors like herbs and tangy fruit and that is what this hearty appetizer gives you. It does not get heartier or more versatile than the meat ball and this is a must have dish for your Christmas party. Add in a pop of greens (of course!), lemon zest, herbs and pomegranate and you have the perfect starter or main. The pomegranate balsamic glaze can be made from reduced pomegranate juice with balsamic or purchased from a pom sauce purveyor. This is definitely an antioxidant boost upgrade from the vintage grape jelly meatball recipe and is great option for your throwback vintage Christmas cocktail party.
These meatballs start off on the stove top for perfect browning but finish in the slow cooker making for super easy party prep. Cheers!
PS: Sorry we ate these too fast to take pictures!
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, Italian
- 2 tbs parsley leaves
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 pinch chili flakes (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups pomegranate balsamic grilling sauce
- 1/4 cup feta
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Make meatballs by combining turkey, salt, pepper, garlic, breadcrumbs, herbs, and egg in a large bowl. Gently combine all ingredients using your hands or a spatula. Pinch off small hunks and roll in the palm of your hands to form into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Continue with all of the meatball mixture until meatballs are formed.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add in 1/2 the meatballs but do not crowd the pan. Flip when just browned on one side, brown on other side and remove to paper towel lined tray. Continue with the remainder of the meatballs. Place meatballs in the bottom of your slow cooker. cover with pomegarnite sauce and set on low for 2-3 hours.
- When ready to serve plate meatballs top with feta, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Plate on a beautiful serving dish with toothpicks.
- This recipe yields about 20 meatballs and I figured two per person on a buffet with other foods. Adjust as necessary to meet your party needs.
A few months ago, my guy and I were lucky enough to be sent a trial of Blue Apron. A medium sized cardboard box showed up at our door and inside was a bag of insulated bubbles, with giant ice packs-think mini refrigerator-holding all our goodies. Burried within were beautifully chilled vegetables, fruits, herbs, meat and little brown paper bags of condiments labeled with the names of the recipes. The boxes are delivered weekly, and include three dinner recipes a bit about an ingredient/farm and everything you need except olive oil, salt and pepper. You can opt in and out of weeks for delivery-online, the boxes come for two or four people and the recipes are fabulous and we loved it. Cost is about $10 a meal, calories are under 800 and cooking with prep time is less than 40 minutes. For those of you who occasionally lack inspiration for the weeknight meal but are a stickler about cooking at home with quality ingredients-this may be an option for you.
My favorite dish this week: Carmalized Leek & Barley Miso Ramen (see pic)- I cannot say enough about the sweet savory combo here-the fact that it was vegetarian-and included a new take on hello Delicata squash-loved it!
Cooking at home-always healthier than eating out!
My guy and I cook these together-we are more efficient that way-and oh ya and we get to hang out!
Be more transparent about where produce and meats are coming from
Give us info on the food miles vs. what we are saving in packaging/food waste at the grocery store
Note: Some ingredients are sourced locally: Greens from Gilroy, CA , Pasta from Santa Cruz Pasta Factory, Santa Cruz, CA, Citrus grown in the San Joaquin Valley, CA, Peppers from Guinda, CA, Ghee from San Francisco, CA…
I love those big Greek salads that aren’t mixed yet. Where all the ingredients are separate but then each bite combines to yield an amazing dish. That was the inspiration behind my thanksgiving roasted veggie platter.
If you are not into roasted veggies yet, it is time to start. Roasting vegetables yields sweeter tasting and a crispier textures. These are the most common complaints about vegetables- usually from the two year olds I hang out with. Its bitter! Its mushy! Not when you roast them. We all know a few adults who could do better in the cruciferous and orange vegetable categories as well. The best thing about roasting vegetables is that it is so easy.
This recipe includes only the superstar favorites of fall; carrots, cauliflower, broccoli (or romanesco), butternut squash, beets and red onion. One oven and two trays of roasted veggies, shake up your vinaigrette, top with herbs and cheese and you have your holiday vegetable dish.
Time is everything during holiday food preparations and the good news is all of this can be completely made ahead and definitely prepped out ahead of time and stored until the big day.
- 4 carrots
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 1/2 head broccoli or romanesco
- Butternut squash 1/2 small (1 1/2 cups of cubes)
- 3 ea Beets
- 1/2 Red Onion
- 1 sprig Rosemary, fresh
- 1/2 cup Blue Cheese, crumbled
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Wash vegetables. Slice carrots into long pieces about 3" strips and cut cauliflower and broccoli into 1" florets. Carefully chop up butternut squash into 1" cubes. You can remove the skin or leave it-it is edible. On a plastic cutting board trim the tops and bottoms from the beets and use a peeler to remove the skin-this is pink and messy. Chop into 1/2" chunks. Quarter red onion and separate into pieces with a few layers. If preparing ahead of time place veggies in plastic bags and store in the refrigerator. Be sure and keep the beets in their own bag-they stain everything.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Add olive oil to the bags just to coat the veggies, sprinkle in salt and pepper, seal and toss to coat. You are going to get the beets started first so add some of them to each tray well separated. Place on cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Add the remainder of the olive oil coated and seasoned veggies to the tray. Give them plenty of space for browning. Place back in the oven for 15-20 more minutes and occasionally shake tray during the cooking process to move veggies around.
- While cooking add all ingredients for the dressing to a jar and shake and set aside.
- When veggies are fork tender, remove from the oven let cool enough to handle. Arrange by veggie or mixed up on a platter and top with dressing. Mound cheese in the middle of the platter. Sprinkle with fresh chopped rosemary.
- Veggies can be prepared the day ahead and brought to room temperature or re-warmed for serving then dressed.
If your still looking for something to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner or fretting over cranberries… fret no longer! Every holiday season I volunteer to bring the cranberry sauce. I do this first because I don’t want any perfectly smooth and overly sweet canned cranberry sauce and secondly because fresh sauce is super easy to make. Although in the past, I have experimented with adding spices like cinnamon and star anise, today I keep mine simple.
This recipe makes 3-1/2 pint jars and can be made a week ahead of time and kept refrigerated.
I made three variations to the prepared recipe below. The first jar I left plain, to the next I added a peeled and chopped mandarin, and to the last jar I added chopped toasted pecans and chopped orange segments. I plan to serve the plain and the orange cranberry sauces at the thanksgiving dinner table and the pecan orange sauce is going over a warmed brie cheese wheel as an appetizer.
Whole, fresh, brilliantly red, plump cranberries
Juice and Peel from one Orange
and Yes it really is that simple!
- 2-12oz bags fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar (more or less to taste)
- 1 orange zested and then juiced
- 1 mandarin
- 1 Orange
- 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
- Combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest. Cook over medium-low heat stirring frequently. Cranberries will start to pop and sugar will dissolve. Lower heat and maintain at a low simmer. The cranberry sauce will become thick and spit a little so be careful. When the sauce is thick and falls in clumps it is done or around 10-15 minutes.
- Peel and course chop the mandarin and fold into one of the jars of prepared cranberry sauce.
- Peel and chop the orange and fold along with the pecans into one jar of the prepared cranberry sauce.
- I go with the less sugar to yield a sweet and tart flavor. Feel free to check on the sweetness of your sauce half way through the cooking process. Remove some sauce and allow it to cool and taste it. If it is not sweet enough for you add some more sugar and finish cooking.
It is raining today! In California that is always a good thing and it means we are having soup for dinner. In our home we try to honor Sunday dinners but that doesn’t always mean they are fancy or involved. They are usually cooked together with my guy or my little nephew and shared with family.
Today will be no different and calls for something warming and hearty. We are all suffering from a pretty nasty cold bug and have spent our days sipping hot beverages and laying low. So I need a no fuss dinner. I have smoked bratwurst in the freezer and canned white beans and lots of veggies so white bean and sausage soup it is.
The orange vegetables, peppers, tomatoes and kale add a power packed punch of vitamins A and C and will support our bodies in their fight. Served with some toasty warm sourdough bread this one is a hit!
- 4 smoked sausages in casings (bratwurst, kielbasa...)
- 1 yellow sweet onion, diced
- 1 cup butternut squash, 1/2" cubed
- 5 medium carrots, 1/2" chopped
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 poblano pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 15oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 qt low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cans low sodium great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups kale, leaves only torn into small pieces
- Shredded Parmesan
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Slice sausage into 3/8" slices. Add in a single layer of sausage and brown on one side. Sauté for 1 minute longer and then remove to a paper towel lined plate. Brown remaining sausage and set aside. Add onion to the soup pot with sausage drippings and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add in both peppers, squash and carrots and sauté for 5 more minutes. Meanwhile mix together spices, herbs, salt and pepper in a small saucer. To soup pot add in garlic and spice mixture and sauté for 1 more minute. Stir in canned tomatoes and water and deglaze the bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Once all the bits are removed add in 3/4 of the box of chicken stock and stir. Add in drained and rinsed white beans and cooked sausage. Stir and partly cover with lid over medium heat until simmering. Reduce to low and simmer on very low for an hour or more. Right before serving add in kale and let softened for 2 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Enjoy!
- Serve with warm whole wheat or sourdough bread.
I have to admit that the Fuyu persimmon is a fall favorite of mine. Just when I start to miss all berries of summer they show up in their bright shinny orange with a muted green cowlick like leaf on top. They are subtly sweet and juicy with an unnamable yet wonderful spiced aftertaste. They are the main ingredient in my current go to snack; I add a chopped fuyu persimmon on top of plain Greek yogurt and top it with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
The Fuyu is the flatish persimmon and eaten when firm. The other persimmon around now is the Hachiya which is pointed on the bottom and eaten only when mushy. I use the pulp of the hachiya for baking. Don’t confuse these and eat a Hachiya when it is firm or horrible tannic puckering things will happen to your tongue and mouth!
I am happy to announce that this month marks the start of the food holidays! I cant wait and I have already been planning and taste testing. First thing to come out of the kitchen in my preparations for Thanksgiving is a Persimmon Crostini. A simple crostini with formage blanc, fuyu persimmon and a pistachio topping. The crostini is layered with chili infused honey and drizzled with balsamic glaze. The combinations are amazing and go perfectly with my preferred starter beverage for any holiday event; Champagne.
Fuyu Persimmons. Choose bright orange firm fruits without discolorations or scars. In season now or Sept-Nov.
Baguette. Use your favorite baguette-seeds, no seeds, French, rustic, sour or not. Today I had a traditional French baguette…but I am leaning towards seeds for the main event.
Formage Blanc: Local cheese from Orland Farmstead Creamery-Orland, CA. This is a hand made cow milk cheese that is not only award winning but light and fluffy and easily spreadable with a ricotta like texture.
Pistachios. Roasted Salted or Raw they provide richness and that bright green color.
Blasamic Glaze. I get it in a bottle. A big thank you to Trader Joes for allowing me to remove the process of reducing balsamic vinegar to a glaze from my kitchen-it’s stinky!
Chili Infused Honey. I buy local Chico area honey at the farmers market. I use a medium amber color alfalfa honey for fall cooking and canning. For Chili Infused Honey I combine this with my magic chili flakes for a mildly spicy honey. Lucky for me, I have a chili friend who braves drying and blending (now with a mask on) her own cowhorn and cayenne chili mix. Chili flakes should be bright red in color and fragrant not dull or dry if so, buy some new stuff. You can also crumble up dried chilis from your garden and use them for infusing the honey -See Recipe. Chili infused honey is an amazing topping for many things including pizza, blue cheese apple crostini, and just chunks of pecorino with a glass of wine-try it you will be hooked. I make it in minutes but you can also purchase a jar.
Champagne: I chose a California sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut (Costco). It is delicious, goes well with the fruit, it is balanced and not overly sweet and easy on the pocket book. Try other sparkling wines from Shramsberg, Roederer, Korbel or Mumm and keep it California grown this season!
- 1/2 fresh crusty baguette
- Olive oil
- Chili Infused Honey-Recipe follows
- 2 Fuyu Persimmons
- 8 oz container formage blanc
- 1/4 cup roasted salted pistachios, chopped
- Balsmic Glaze
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Slice baguette into 1/4-3/8" slices and place on cookie sheet. Brush sides with olive oil applying a thin layer to each slice. Bake in oven until slightly toasted and light brown.
- Remove skin from persimmons. Slice across into circles about 1/4" thick and remove any seeds. Slice circles in half again and set aside.
- When crostini's are cool drizzle with a teaspoon of chili infused honey. Add a slice of persimmon. Top with a heaping teaspoon size dollop of formage blanc. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and finish with chopped pistachios.
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4-1 teaspoon dried chili flake (my chili is part powder, skin and seeds-if yours has more skin and less powder increase the amount-think of it like ground coffee-finer=stronger)
- Combine honey and chili flakes in a heavy bottomed pot over the lowest heat. Stir constantly with a spatula and make sure honey is not sitting on the bottom of the pan-it scorches easily. The honey will thin quickly and will be warm and fragrant in 2-3 minutes. Pour warm honey through a mesh strainer to remove chili pieces and into a jar.
- This recipe easily doubles/triples/quadruples to serve more, and there should be enough chili honey left over for several other recipes.