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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Love Your Liver

Why should I love my liver?

Liver is the most important organ after the heart.  It performs hundreds of essential functions :Cranberry Apple Dessert

  • Liver stores and regulates blood. It is responsible for circulation and nourishing every cell in our body.  Every part of the body depends on blood from the liver for nourishment and sustenance.
  • Liver helps the body to digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxic substances.
  • The amount of sugar in our blood is carefully controlled by the liver.
  • Liver is connected to proper eye function. Diseases involving the eye are closely related to a liver imbalance.
  • Liver also regulates emotional and mental state. A healthy liver ensures patience, endurance and the ability to maintain a strong spiritual center.

How does my liver communicate to me that it is not nourished? 

When the liver is overworked or under pressure, it generates too much heat within itself. One might feel hot and sweat excessively. When there is heat in the liver, the eyes are likely to be bloodshot, or feel a painful or burning sensation. When the liver blood is deficient, you might experience blurry vision, color blindness or dry eyes.

If liver is stagnant, we feel down or even depressed; it is hard to get started in the morning. Liver is responsible for anger. People with tired liver are quick to anger and have so called “short fuse”.

A weak liver expresses itself in deep insecurity, irritability, frustration, anger, excitability, and stubbornness.
Sometimes we can read right on our face if our liver is too tight – it manifests by deep vertical lines from nose going up between the brows.

How can you love your liver?

Get good night sleep

Liver likes to have a good night sleep on empty stomach. Liver rests and rejuvenate between 1:00 am and 3:00 am. In order to nourish your liver, it is best to go to bed no later than 11:00 pm. It gives you 2 hours to get to the stage of deep sleeping.

Do not eat late at night

Eat your last meat by 7:00 pm. Late night dinners, especially with hard to digest foods like meat and chicken, will send our liver to work most of the night. You might find yourself tired when you wake up in the morning and not willing to get out of the bed. Your mood in the morning also could be not the brightest.
Torah tells us that it has to pass 6 hour after eating meat before one can eat dairy. 6 hours is time it takes to digest meat.

Eat healthy and do not overeat

Eat plenty of organic vegetables and beans. Add complex carbs to your daily menu ( whole grains ).  Minimize consumption of processed food, fruits, honey and sugar which contain 50% of fructose. Just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat. So eating fructose is really like eating fat—it just gets stored in your fat cells. Healthy liver can process no more than 25 grams of sugar a day.

Liver likes sour taste – lemons, Granny Smith apples, cranberry, sour cherries. If you crave sour taste, that might be your liver is talking to you.

GrannySmithcranberries lemons

In return, your nourished liver gives you bright happy energized mornings; handles your stressful situations; maintains fit body, radiant young-looking skin, healthy eyes, nails, and well-circulated, oxygen-rich blood.

Your liver would be happy if you chose this dessert to complete your early dinner 🙂

Cranberry Apple Dessert

Coffee Love Makeover

I was a coffee drinker for as long as I can remember. Being born in Europe, it was natural to drink coffee. It was part of life, it was part of culture. We had a cup of coffee for breakfast and for a late night out. The size of an average coffee cup was about 2 espresso shots 🙂

riga coffee cup

When we moved to the US, I was surprised at many things; one of them the size of the coffee mug and that coffee is offered for free in every place I worked with unlimited refill. Being a coffee lover, I appreciated the accessibility to coffee all day long. Moreover, I noticed that it is “a thing to do” to run to a Starbucks for a cup of coffee in the middle of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon. It was all great until I realized that I was feeling sleepy multiple times a day. The more pressured situation I was in, the more difficult it was for me to stay awake. I was horrified that I was falling asleep in the middle of an important business meeting. I had to pinch myself under the table but even the pain could not help me to stay awake. I remember hiding in my office to take 20-30 minutes nap. It didn’t get any easier to drive home after a long workday. Driving in traffic was unbearable; I was falling asleep behind the wheel. It got to the point of not only being embarrassed at work but actually dangerous on the road. I felt tired and exhausted all the time. I was in my thirties!

I was very concern about my condition – constantly feeling tired and I started looking for the information. First time I encountered a nutritionist who told me quit coffee, I had a nervous laugh. I thought my life and ability to function totally depended on the caffeine. I couldn’t fathom such a crazy idea to quit coffee… But I did decide to give it a try. I had a 1 liter bottle of water in the morning and I had another liter throughout the day, (I know now that having so much water is not good; it washes off necessary minerals from our body). The water quickly cleansed caffeine from my system and … what an unexpected surprise! I started functioning much better. I could go through the day feeling energized without coffee or any caffeine whatsoever!

Later on I learned that starting day with a cup of coffee before food is a shock to the system. You will wake up quickly but then you will get tired quickly. Coffee shuts down the adrenal system, dries your bones and skin, and takes you out of balance. Most a.m. coffee drinkers don’t realize it, but their morning cups of coffee set their bodies up for a rollercoaster day of highs and lows, only to bottom out at the point of exhaustion. Just a few hours after consumption, when the artificial high dies down, many people may reach for more coffee or something sugary to get another lift, leading to daily fluctuations in energy and alertness, and possibly to eventual chronic adrenal exhaustion.

By stimulating your adrenal glands to produce adrenalin, caffeine puts your body in this “fight-or-flight” state, which is useless while you’re just sitting at your desk. When this adrenal high wears off later, you feel the drop in terms of fatigue, irritability, headache or confusion.

Caffeine causes nerve cells in the brain and body to fire faster, increasing activity of the stress response system. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to increase cortisol release. Cortisol then elevates heart rate and blood pressure and shuts down digestion. Once the adrenals are provoked to release cortisol in such a manner over and over again, a decreased resistance to stress occurs. Chronic adrenal stimulation from caffeine results in chronic high levels of cortisol, which breaks down healthy bone and muscle, and interferes with digestion, metabolism and mental function.

The majority of coffee drinkers who want to cut down on caffeine think, “I’ll just drink some decaf instead”.  Decaffeinated coffee is a processed product; moreover it is chemically processed. Most of the methods use chemicals like methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, and highly pressurized carbon dioxide.  After the green beans are moistened, they are immersed into the chosen solvent.  After the solvent performs its chemical reaction, the beans are rinsed with water.  The final decaffeination phase is steaming the beans. Decaffeinated drinks have been advertised as a healthy alternative for several decades at the behest of the chemical industry, but these drinks are often more dangerous than the unmodified versions.

Decaffeinated Coffee Is Highly Acidic. Too much acidity causes health problems that include heartburn, ulcers, inflammatory bowel conditions, osteoporosis, and urinary tract inflammations.

It is better to have a small cup of organic coffee once in a while than a decaffeinated one.

A cup of high-quality tea can be a great alternative as a warm, soothing morning beverage.

Green tea seems a popular choice. While green tea has many health benefits, it still has a lot of caffeine. Green tea  contains just  41 percent less caffeine than coffee.

I drink Kukicha tea now.

I run through my long busy day staying alert and full of energy without any form of caffeine or taking a nap.kukicha tea Amazon

Kukicha tea is made from a variety of twigs and coarse leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. Kukicha tea is a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. A cup of kukicha tea has 90 percent less caffeine than a cup of regular brewed coffee. Kukicha has the lowest caffeine content of all the traditional teas.

To keep the tea as naturally low in caffeine as possible, growers only select older twigs. Tea producers harvest the kukicha twigs and leaves in the fall and winter seasons when they are the most delicate and the caffeine content is at its lowest.

Kukicha teaGeorge Ohsawa, the founder of the macrobiotic system, brought kukicha tea to the U.S. in the 1960s from Japan. The tea is a healthy complement to a macrobiotic diet.

  • It is a really alkalizing drink
  • It is very rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It has a high calcium content
  • It has virtually no caffeine, it can be taken any time of day, even after dinner, without running the risk of lose sleep.