Butternut Squash Soup

IMG_4212It is our favorite Fall/Winter soup. It even looks like fall when leaves on the trees change colors to yellow, orange, and red while some surprisingly stay green.

When it rains or the wind is blowing so strong making us hurry up in the warm shelter of our homes, this soup is the best “comfort food” – sweet, warming, and satiating. Easy to make, easy to digest, and healthy. Butternut squash belongs to the family called “winter squash” – seasonal vegetables with tons of vitamins. It is designed to keep you warm regardless of cold weather. It can stay in the fridge for 2 – 3 days… Yum!

Ingredients

  1. 1 large Butternut Squash peeled and cut into cubes
  2. 4-5 organic bulk carrots cut into rounds
  3. 1 big onion cut into pieces
  4. 1-2 large organic zucchini
  5. 1 small bunch of organic parsley with stems
  6. 1.5 Tbs sea salt
  7. 1/2 tsp cumin
  8. 1/2 tsp coriander
  9. 1/2 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 inch of fresh ginger
  11. 2 Tbs olive oil
  12. Water as much as it takes to cover vegetables

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cut onion into 1/2 inch pieces. Put a cooking pot on the range, add olive oil. After a few moments when oil is warm add onion. Reduce the flame and let the onion simmer. It may become slightly light brown.
  2. Peel butternut squashes skin off. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Remove and discard seeds. Put the cut butternut squash into the pot on top of simmered onion
  3. Cut carrots into 1/2 inch rounds and put on top of squash
  4. Cut zucchini into 1 inch half moons and add to the pot
  5. Slowly pour cold water on top of vegetables until they are almost covered.
  6. Increase the flame so water can reach boiling point. Reduce the flame when it boils, add salt, cover with a lid but leave some room so nothing would escape from the pot.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Add the rest of the spices
  9. Cut fresh ginger into very small pieces and add to the pot.
  10. Cut parsley and add to the pot. Cook for another minute.
  11. Turn off the flame. Let it cool off a little to protect your mixer knives from becoming dull.
  12. Mix well with an electrical mixer until your soup has even creamy texture
  13. Try it for salt. Add salt if needed to your taste.
  14. Serve hot.
  15. You can enjoy it with minced parsley added to your bowl and with your favorite crackers or homemade croutons or as is 🙂

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**Health Benefits of Butternut Squash

  • Butternut squash has very low calories. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, is a rich source of dietary fiber. Squash is one of the common vegetables that often recommended by dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight-reduction programs.
  • It has more vitamin A than other vegetables, constituting about 354% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus. It is also an essential vitamin for optimum eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protected against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • It is rich in the B-complex group of vitamins like folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. It contains adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
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Apples

Rosh Hashanah – It is a wonderful time. It is a new beginning with the deepened love, understanding, resolutions, commitments and sweet familiar feeling of celebration. It is time for new and old – like our traditions.

Traditionally we start the celebration by dipping apples into honey and wishing each other sweet year!AppleGala600

If you are, like me, eat according to the season, then you have not had apples for a while. Last season apples lost their taste and vitamins long time ago. Lately our tastes for fresh produce were mostly attracted to strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches and similar summer seasonal fruits.

And now I am excited for a new crop of this year apples – the first ones so tender, juicy with wonderful aroma. So many different kinds – all taste so amazing like never before!

New crop just in time for old and wise tradition to have apples for Rosh Hashanah!

Organic apples are so delicious and packed with vitamins.  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old saying that most of us are familiar with, but what makes this fruit so special? What health benefits are associated with eating apples?

As one of the most cultivated and consumed fruits in the world, apples are continuously being praised as a “miracle food”.  Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants and dietary fiber. Apples deserve to be called “nutritional powerhouses”. They contain many important nutrients: Vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, iron, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

Apples could be enjoyed in so many different recipes: just raw (with or without honey), baked, in salads, applesauce, as stuffing and many more.

Here are couple simple healthy recipes:

Baked apple slices, with raisins, almonds, and dried cherries in pomegranate juice and honeyReadyTo Bake Apples

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic golden delicious or granny smith apples
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • ½ cup dry cherries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 Tbsp organic raw honey

Cooking Instructions:

Cut apples to 8 slices each and place in the baking sheet (see picture above), evenly spread raisins, almonds and dry cherries. Mix pomegranate juice and honey and pour over apples. Bake for 30 minutes in 350 F without cover.

Enjoy for dessert or mid-day snack!

baked Apples

Blanched collard salad with gala apples, peanuts, sesame seeds and parsley

CollardAppleSalad_300Ingredients:

  • 2 leaves organic collard greens and stems
  • 1 quarter raw organic gala apple
  • 1/4 cup minced organic parsley
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

Freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with a few drops of brown rice vinegar, a few drops of soy sauce and a tea-spoon of peanut oil

Cooking Instructions:

Wash and check collard. Cut the stems off. Put stems in a pot with boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the hot water and let cool off. Put collard leaves one by one in the boiling water for 30 seconds.

Slice blanched collard stems, collard leaves, apples, parsley and mix together. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts and sesame seeds. Add dressing.

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Sweet and healthy New 5776 Year !

What about Mushrooms?

mushroomsBeansLeek500x300

I was introduced to mushrooms in my early childhood. We used to hop on a bus in the wee hours to go mushroom picking in the forest. It was one of fun activities during late summer – early fall. It was so exciting to walk through the early morning forest in the rubber boots with a basket and search for edible mushrooms under the trees. In the middle of the day our baskets were almost full with colorful mushrooms. We all got together to sit down, rest, admire each other’s crop, drink hot tea from thermos and eat our tasty sandwiches lovingly prepared on the previous night. That’s as far as my interest for mushrooms went.

The next less exciting but necessary step was to clean, sort the mushrooms and prepare them for different cooking styles: some were good for conservation – pickled mushrooms in a jar – delicious appetiser during winter gatherings; some were good to dry and use in soups throughout the year; some were good to cook for that day dinner – Russian favorites – fried chanterelle mushrooms with onions, sour cream and potatoes! 🙂

I didn’t care about any of it 🙂

When I started my journey studying foods and their medicinal properties, I rediscovered mushrooms and developed taste for them overtime. Now mushrooms take a well-deserved place in my regular cuisine.

Mushrooms …

What are they? They aren’t vegetables no legumes. These, not so obviously defined plants, are very humble and modest. But as we know G-d often design humble to possess amazing qualities. And mushrooms are no exception. shiitake550x300

One of the medicinal mushroom leaders is Shiitake. Shiitake mushrooms high in many enzymes and vitamins that are not usually found in plants. Shiitake is effective in treating a long list of ailments including high cholesterol, gallstones, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, anemia, and even the common cold. Shiitake are able to rapidly lower serum cholesterol. Studies with humans have shown that only three ounces of shiitake (5-6 mushrooms) a day can lower cholesterol by twelve percent in a week. There is increasing evidence that the health-promoting compounds found in medicinal and edible fungi, including shiitake, stimulate the immune system. Shiitake stimulate the defense system, spurring the immune fighters that attack cancer cells, bacteria, and viruses.

As a food source, Shiitake contains all eight of the essential amino acids in a better ratio than meat, milk, eggs, or soy beans. Not to mention they contain an excellent combination of vitamins and mineral including A, B, B12, C, and D. In addition, Shiitake produces a fat-absorbing compound which is perfect for those wanting to lose weight. It’s no wonder why the shiitake is also known as the “miracle mushroom”. Dried shiitake mushrooms have even stronger medicinal properties than fresh. And they are delicious when cooked!

Shiitake mushrooms are great in soups and various vegetable dishes. Here is the recipe of a basic miso soup where along with other ingredients it offers you healing powerhouse dish. Heal, lose weight and Enjoy!

enoki-mushrooms

The Enoki mushrooms could be found in Whole Foods Market or other health food stores and Asian markets. Enokitake mushrooms have tumour fighting compounds. They suppress further cancer growth and spread.

Enokitake has antioxidants that rid the body of free radicals hence boosting the immune system. The Enoki mushroom impacted greatly in test treatments of lymphoma and prostate cancer. The Enokitake mushroom also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. They help to balance the immune system and to keep the liver healthy.

The Enoki is able to fight against diseases of degenerative sicknesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It also has anti-inflammatory substances that help lower the risk of heart diseases.

Enoki mushrooms has to be cooked in at least 100 degrees of heat for 20 consecutive minutes.

BunashimejiMushroomsBunaShimeji Mushrooms – another medicinal kind and also very tasty. I usually buy them in Whole Foods Market and make various recipes. They are delicious in soups and go well with other vegetables.

Shimeji have tumors fighting properties. Shimeji mushrooms can also help diabetes, asthma and certain allergies by enhancing the immune system and boosting its healing capabilities.

Shimeji mushrooms have meaty taste. Their texture is firm. These mushrooms are used in preparation of soups and stir fried dishes. These mushrooms are also ideal for casseroles. It is important to cook these mushrooms before serving them. Raw shimeji mushrooms have a bitter taste. Cooked shimeji mushrooms are flavourful. It is best to use Shimeji mushrooms in combination with other vegetables because they are rich in Umami compounds. Umami compounds are known for enhancing the flavour of food.

My recent creation – Balanced delicious dish with BunaShimeji and oyster mushrooms, black soy beans, leek, and quinoa – Enjoy!

Bunashimeji Oyster Leek Beans Quinoa