I don’t know about you, but I love a warm cup of vegetable broth. Right now I’m sipping a large mugful as I recover from a bit of over-indulgence over the holidays. I’m also hoping to keep a cold at bay by drinking as much broth as possible. A cup of delicious broth can also make for a satisfying small meal or help keep you warm on a cold day. This broth also makes a great base for any number of soups. There are a lot of great broth recipes out there, but the one I’m going to share with you is based on the Magic Mineral Broth recipe made famous by Rebecca Katz in One Bite at a Time.
2 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
1-2 unpeeled medium onions, including peels/skin, cut into chunks
3-4 stalks celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
1 head of garlic, including peels/skin, roughly chopped
few inches of fresh ginger root, roughly sliced
1/2 bunch fresh flat‐leaf parsley
1 sweet potato or yam with skins on, quartered
1 8‐inch strip of kombu seaweed (available at Whole Foods, online or if you live in Oakland, HERE)
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries (optional)
1 tablespoon quality sea salt (note: if I’m going to cook beans with the broth, I leave the salt out)
Note: Adjust the amount of ingredients to the size of your stock pot. Also, I often use vegetable scraps to make my broths (see below for more info on using scraps). Other vegetable choices (depending on the flavor profile you want and what you have on hand) can include mushrooms, leeks, fennel, greens, fresh herbs, parsnips, and potatoes.
Rinse all the vegetables well to remove any dirt.
In a large stockpot, combine all the ingredients except the salt. Fill the pot to 2 inches below the rim with water, cover, and bring to a boil.
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer a minimum of 2 hours. As the stock simmers some of the water will evaporate. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. I like to try and simmer mine for as much as 4 hours or more.
Add the salt and stir (unless you plan to use the broth to cook dried beans).
Let stock cool in pot until room temperature.
Strain the stock using a large coarse‐mesh strainer (remember to use a heat‐resistant container underneath) and/or cheese-cloth or clean linen towel. Compost the cooked vegetables.
Makes 6 to 7 quarts, depending on stockpot size.
Broth can be frozen up to 6 months in a variety of airtight container sizes for every use.
Tips for what to do with your broth:
You can add a little tamari, Bragg’s amino acids, coconut amino acids, or miso to your broth for a little added flavor.
I also often add some coconut oil for a bit more substance.
If you are not vegetarian/vegan, you can also add some gelatin for added protein.
When I’m making broth to really support my immune system, I will add A LOT more ginger and garlic to the initial broth ingredients. You can also add dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms, oregano, reishi mushrooms, and/or astragalus root.
Again, broth can be sipped alone or used as a base for any soup.
Broth is really great to drink when recovering from surgery, illness or chemotherapy. It is a great way to get nourishment for your body without putting too much stress on your digestive system.
To store leftover broth, I put them in mason jars to drink over the week and then freeze the rest.
Using vegetable scraps:
One of my favorite ways to make vegetable broth is to use leftover vegetable scraps. Not only does this reduce waste and save money, but often the foods we consider “scraps” contain great nutritional benefits!
When cooking any meal, save your cleaned vegetable scraps in a plastic freezer bag and store in freezer until ready to make into broth. I just keep adding ingredients to bags until I’m ready to make broth (or the freezer gets full!).
Good “scraps” to include are carrot peels, carrot tops, celery tops and bottoms, fennel tops, leek green tops, onion and garlic skins, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, stems from herbs like parsley, green tops of radishes, turnips or beets (just note that if you use beet greens, your broth will turn red!). I also added any vegetables that we didn’t get a chance to eat in the week that may be going a little limp.
Just dump the frozen vegetable scraps into your pot, add in some fresh vegetables that may not be included in your frozen bag, and then follow the directions from above!
I would love to hear from you. Have you made your own broth? What tips or suggestions do you have?
Many people benefit from eating every 3 to 4 hours. A great way to be sure your body is getting the energy it needs is to eat a mid-morning and/or afternoon snack. Snacks are generally smaller and lighter than meals, but look for ones that are nutrient-rich. Nutrient-rich means that the food is concentrated in vitally important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and energy.
Many of these items can be mixed and matched. For instance, add some almond butter to your apple or swap the tortilla for gluten free crackers for your avocado salsa. Adding enjoyment and variety to your snacks makes them more enjoyable for you and also adds different nutrients to your diet. Also, be sure to consider your own biochemical individuality—what works for YOUR dietary system and nourishes YOU—when choosing healthy snacks!
Nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds—raw & unsalted(1/4cup = 1 serving)
Nutrition: Goodsourceofprotein&healthyfats;also good sources of fiber, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, folate, vitamin E, & B vitamins; varies depending on nut/seed.
Tips: Remember that 1/4 cup is a serving size, so enjoy but do not over-‐indulge. Many people find nuts and seeds easier to eat and digest if they have been soaked or sprouted first.
Hummus or other healthy dip and veggies (carrots, celery, red bell pepper, broccoli, radish or pea pods)
Nutrition: Fiber, phytonutrients, & vitamin C. Carrotsarealso a greatsourceofvitaminA,K, biotinandfiber.Celeryisa good source of potassium,andvitaminsB6 & B1.
Almond butter and whole-grain, seeded crackers like Mary’s Gone Crackers(2T.almondbutter& about 7-10crackers)
Nutrition: Forbenefitsofalmondbutter,seenuts/seeds above. Whole-grain crackersarehigherinfiber & other minerals than crackers made with enriched flour.
Tips: Look for crackers without a lot of additives and ingredients; simple is best.
Whole grain or corn tortilla, avocado and salsa
Nutrition: Avocadosaregoodsourcesoffiber,vitaminC, E, K, folate & potassium. Tomatoes are great sources of vitamin C, biotin vitamin K, carotene & lycopene.
Tips: Use about a ½ avocado in a serving. For the other half, leave the pit in the fruit and place in the refrigerator in a sealed container—it will keep for the next day.
Fruits like apples, oranges, berries, plums, or pears
Nutrition: Good amounts of antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, vitamin C; amounts vary depending on the fruit
Tips: It sounds so simple but fruits with a high fiber count can be quite filling and refreshing as a snack. Can pair with some almond butter for some added fat and protein.
Nutrition: Good source of vitamins A and C and iodine.
Tips: This delicious snack is a great way to add sea vegetables to your diet. Great as an after-workout snack! The iodine in seaweed can help regulate hormones like estrogen and thyroid.
Nutrition: Excellent source of phytonutrients, molybdenum and manganese. They are also a very good source of folate and copper as well as a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, protein, iron, and zinc
Tips: Make these yourself because the ones in the store are usually full of added sugar. For an easy recipe, check out here or here.
Nutrition: High in protein and low in fat; good source of fiber, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, vitamin K, folate & manganese.
Tips: You can get shelled edamame in the frozen food section of most stores. Add soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s if you want some flavor. If you have thyroid issues or a food sensitivity to soy, you will want to avoid soy products.
Nutrition: Good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Tips: Great for if you want something crunchy and savory with the benefits of kale. Easy to make yourself or can get at the store.
You may feel like suddenly everyone you know is talking about the Paleo diet. So what are my thoughts?
Things I LIKE about the Paleo Diet:
1. Only eat whole foods: Automatically people are likely to feel better and lose weight
2. Focus on fresh vegetables and fruits: Focusing on eating so many vegetables and (low-glycemic) fruits is going to give you fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients
3. Nuts and seeds: Great source of protein and fats as well as many nutrients
4. No dairy, wheat, corn or soy: These are common allergens for many people, so avoiding these will definitely help some people. Plus, much of the corn and soy out there is genetically modified.
5. No processed foods like refined sugar, refined fats, trans fat, or processed meats: Most people in the nutrition field agree that these cause inflammation and weight gain. Everyone benefits from eliminating these.
6. Some people really benefit from a low/no grain, no legume, high animal-protein eating plan. These kinds of special eating plans are for very specific health reasons and should be done under the care of a professional.
Things I QUESTION about the Paleo Diet:
1. The supporters need to emphasize eating grass fed, organic meats or wild game, otherwise it is not “paleolithic” in any way since our commercial meat does not even resemble meat from even 100 years ago, let alone 20,000 years ago. I recommend that anyone eating meat or eggs try to buy mostly grass fed, organic products. They are more expensive but you really do get what you pay for.
I also have a lot of concerns about eating so much meat, beyond nutrition. There are also MAJOR environmental and ethical issues to consider as well. Eating so much meat requires using scarce resources like water and land to feed and support the animals; run-off from animal waste is a leading source of water pollution and causes “die-offs” in our oceans; animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction; most people are eating meat from CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, otherwise known as factory farms, which are very dangerous and unhealthy places not only for the animals, but also for the people who work there; animal agriculture in the United States is directly linked to GMO crops like corn and soy grown as feed for the animals; over 15-17 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock every year to promote faster growth and address infections from their unsanitary living conditions. I could go on, but you get the picture. I do believe that some people need to eat animal meat for their health; however, we do need to remember it comes with a cost.
2. The ban on legumes and whole non-gluten grains across the board is troubling because some people do very well on these foods and they provide a great source of fiber, proteins, and nutrients. For many people, sprouting or soaking these foods can help aid digestion and absorption.
3. Is it a sustainable diet? To me this is the biggest issue. It is quite strict and restricting and most people will not maintain this way of eating for life. The creator of the diet, Loren Cordain, says you only need to eat Paleo 80% of the time. From my education and expertise, I also recommend the 80/20 goal where 80% of your foods are nourishing and that means your body can handle the 20% that is depleting. However, what is considered “nourishing” is much greater and wider. I question anything that is a “diet” and anything that cannot be maintained, otherwise it leads to more yo-yo dieting and weight gain for many people.
4. Not everyone is the same and I question whether paleo addresses biochemical individuality. Chris Kresser, a proponent of the paleo eating plan, has new book called Your Personal Paleo Code that seems to allow for flexibility as well as personalization. He also addresses non-food aspects of health, which acknowledges the holistic approach to health. I think Chris Kresser’s approach may address some of my main questions with many of the other paleo diets out there.
Ultimately, I think eating a whole foods eating plan—full of organic, fresh, seasonal produce, quality proteins and healthy fats—is the way to go. The details within that guideline (gluten, dairy, legumes, meat, soy, citrus, etc.) are going to vary person to person and will likely even change for us over the course of our lifetimes. The key is being open to experimentation and recognizing what works best for you right now.
½ cup raw nuts, chopped (like pecans, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, etc.)
½ cup raw seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, etc.)
½ cup dried coconut flakes
1-2 tablespoons grade-B maple syrup or raw honey or a combo of both (optional)
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 large pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300º F.
Add coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and optional maple syrup and/or honey to large bowl and mix together until ingredients are mixed together and oil is liquid. You can also warm the coconut oil and optional honey first so that they are both liquid before adding.
Add oats, nuts, seeds and coconut to bowl.
Use your clean hands to mix well and toss to coat; it will be sticky and messy but that’s the fun part.
Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet(s) and bake for 9-10 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Do not over-bake. I line the cookie sheets with parchment paper for easier clean up.
Cool before serving or storing.
This granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.
Note: This is the lower sugar version; if you choose to make it without any maple syrup or honey, there will be a discernible difference. You can add fresh fruit to your morning cereal and “sweeten” it naturally instead!
Tips: Add 1/2 granola to unsweetened yogurt and 1/2 cup berries for a great breakfast or snack. Also delicious with unsweetened almond milk!
Since many people shop at Costco at least some of the time, I thought it was a good idea to make a journey out to the superstore to see what they had that would be “Michelle Approved.” Boy, was I surprised by not only the number of organic foods available, but really great quality foods as well! So I am doing a three-part series (or maybe even more!) on foods you can get at Costco! Series #1: foods I think are SUPER!
1. Blueberries (organic, frozen):
I use these every day for my morning smoothie but they are great in any recipe. I love buying frozen berries because they are always on hand and don’t spoil or get moldy. Blueberries are low-glycemic (which means they won’t spike your blood sugar). They are also full of antioxidants and phytonutrients like anthocyanin which support our brain, heart and eyes. I especially love that these are organic!
2. Chia seed (organic, non-GMO):
I also use these every day in my smoothies but you can add them to soups, salads, cooked grains, and even make this pudding from them! Chia seeds are packed with fiber, omega-3s, and protein which helps stabalize your blood sugar, makes you feel full, and keeps you satisfied. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 g of fiber, 3 g of protein plus a good amount of magnesium, calcium and potassium.
3. Hemp seed (raw, organic, non-GMO):
Super-duper food here because they are delicious and you can add them to just about anything. These little seeds add a nice crunch and nutty flavor. Since they are seeds and not nuts, these can be a good alternative for anyone with a nut allergy. You can also make a porridge out of them or add them to your oatmeal, smoothie, salad, baked goods or even dessert! Just 3 T. contains 10 g of protein, 3.3 g of Omega-3, and 50% of your magnesium and phosphorous and 25% of your zinc (RDA).
I was so excited to see these at Costco! Why sprouted? Sprouting makes the seeds easier to digest and more of the nutrients available. Also the phytic acid is removed in the sprouting process, so that it won’t block the absorption of valuable minerals in your body. Besides being a good source of protein, vitamin E and the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc and iron, they are also have anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Pumpkin seeds are great all by themselves or sprinkled on salads, soups, cereals, or added to baked goods or granola. You can also make delicious sauces with ground pumpkin seeds like this pesto or this sauce.
Sprouted sunflower seeds are also a staple in the house because again you can add them to just about anything. These also pack in the vitamin E, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorous and are a good source of iron, selenium, zinc and vitamin B6. And again, these are sprouted.
Believe me when I say that these are great crackers, in and of themselves, not just as a gluten-free alternative. I love them because of their great flavor, crunch and whole seed goodness. These crackers just taste and feel a lot less processed than your average cracker. The only drawback? They are a bit pricey, which is why I was so excited to see these at Costco for a pretty good price. These crackers are so delicious and satisfying that you don’t need to eat a lot to feel gratified.
7. Quinoa (organic):
Quinoa has been a popular “grain” option because it is a gluten-free seed, a complete protein, and nutrient dense. It can be used in almost any recipe where you would use rice, bulgur, couscous or wheat berries like pilafs, tabouili or in soups. You can even make a hot cereal out of it. Quinoa can be pretty bland, so if you want to add flavor, cook it in a quality broth instead of water or toast it in the pan before adding the liquid. I also love Heidi Swanson’s Double Broccoli Quinoa Recipe.
8. Coconut oil (organic, cold-ressed, non-GMO):
If you’ve followed me on Facebook, you’ve heard me sing the praises of this amazing and versatile oil. You can use coconut for so many things besides just cooking! As a cooking oil, it is great because of its antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-bacterial properties. It is a type of saturated fat but it is different than the kind found in animal products and is a great oil to cook with because it can handle the higher heats. Coconut oil is also a great healthy beauty product with so many uses.
9. Hemp oil (cold pressed, organic, non-GMO):
This is actually a newcomer to my home. I’ve been eating ground and shelled hemp seeds for a while but hadn’t encountered hemp seed oil. Well, like happens to everyone at Costco, I saw it on the shelf and though, “Hmm, why not?” (Funny how easily that can happen there!) Turns out hemp oil is pretty amazing stuff: not only does is it a good source of omega 3s and 6s but it also contains vitamins A, C and E, minerals and fiber. According to recent studies, hemp seed oil contains beta-sitosterol and campesterol, which have been linked to lower heart attack risk, reduced LDL cholesterol, lower levels of inflammation and have been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis. However, it is not a oil to cook with because it does not handle heat well. This is the kind of oil to use for salad dressings or drizzle on top of soups or grilled vegetables after they have cooked. It has a delicious flavor too!
10. Farmhouse Culture Kraut (raw, organic):
Heard about the health benefits of probiotics? These are the healthy bacteria in our body that help keep our digestive system in balance, our immunity supported and even help keep our moods more stable. Sounds pretty good, right? Fermented foods like sauerkraut are excellent sources of probiotics. Almost all traditional diets include a little fermented food in their diet. Mostly this was because fermentation was a way to preserve food but could it be that our ancestors also knew the health benefits of eating a little each day?
Please note that each Costco is different and not all products are available at every Costco. They try to cater to their local community, so you will find unique foods at each store. These purchases were made at the Costco store in Richmond, California (in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay area). If your particular Costco doesn’t carry one of these products, ask!
Also, I am in no way endorsing Costco nor was I paid by Costco for this blog (or any other, for that matter!). I just know that many of my clients shop at Costco and I want to show you all some of the great foods that can be purchased there!
Want some easy ways to put this into practice? Here are 12 tips for eating more plants and less refined foods:
Try replacing coffee with green or herbal tea. Green tea is full of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and herbal tea counts towards your water intake for the day! If you are going to drink coffee, be sure it is organic, limit it to one cup a day (or even just to the weekends) and do not add any sugar.
Reduce chips or crackers and replace them with almonds or walnuts for an afternoon snack (about ¼ cup) or veggie sticks with hummus.
Add spinach to your meal—it is easy to get organic prewashed baby spinach in most grocery stores. Chop it up, sauté it and add it to almost any meal!
If you are going to add a salad to your meal, be sure to choose the darker leafy greens and be mindful with the amount of salad dressing and what’s in it—better yet, make your own! Also, add beans or nuts/seeds to a salad for added fiber and protein.
Avoid products with added sugar or hydrogenated oils—read the ingredients label! You would be surprised where added sugar shows up.
Choose healthy fats—coconut oil is very good for sautéing, olive oil is good for salads, dressings and lower heats, and flaxseed is great to add to smoothies or take straight (but should always be refrigerated and never heated). Nuts, seeds, olives and avocados are also good sources of healthy fats.
Buy organic when possible and see the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to make the best choices if buying conventional (you can also read more HERE from my previous blog post on why it makes sense to buy organic).
Smoothies are a great meal or snack: choose a quality protein powder and add berries, greens, and chia or flax seeds. See my blog post HERE on quality protein powders and a smoothie recipe!
Think portions: Remember that a serving of whole grains or pasta is ½ cup, a serving of nuts is ¼ cup, and serving of vegetables is usually 1 cup. It is best to make half your plate vegetables!
If you are going to eat soy, only sparingly eat the processed soy products like soy sausages and burgers as well as soy milk. Instead, opt for tempeh or miso. Tofu can also be eaten in moderation for some people. Always select organic soy products since most conventional soy is genetically-modified and high in pesticides. My absolute favorite tempeh can be found HERE. New to tempeh? Check out the Post-Punk Kitchen’s great recipes HERE.
Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day! Variety is really good for our bodies and the rainbow of colors in foods contain powerful phytonutrients to give us optimum health. For example, in a stir fry add red bell pepper, carrots, yellow squash, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, purple cabbage, garlic and onions.