Category Archives: Cooking

Friday 5: Books on Acid Reflux & GERD

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Yesterday I shared the pain I’ve been dealing with over the past month or so with Acid Reflux/GERD. It took me about a month, but I strove to put my acid reflux at bay with minimal set backs.

When you are in pain, you will do just about anything to find relief! During that time, while taking Prilosec, I also followed as many common dietary and lifestyle recommendations which I have also listed in this post.

Still, I tried to learn everything there is to know about Acid Reflux / GERD and how to treat and manage it. Symptoms of heartburn, chest pain and bloat and burping don’t go away by popping antacids. Medications can take a few days to kick-in, so there is generally no instant relief. But once the relief started, I wanted to be armed with the information of what needs to be done to prevent this in the future.

I knew I didn’t want to just treat the symptoms. I also had read in online articles about the dangers of being on medications long-term. But there is so much conflicting information out there! Below are the books I turned to during this time. In this post, I included the year each book which published because that can sometimes matter when it comes to medical information.

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The 7-Day Acid Reflux Diet:
by Robert M. Fleischer (2013)

This was a quick Kindle purchase for $2.50. The publication is only available as an e-book. I rated it a 2 out of 5 on Goodreads. That basically is the rating for “it was ok”. Why did I rate it as such? One Amazon reviewer indicated:

“No new info here – very overpriced. Just a rehash of info you can find on the web for free.” 

That might be the case, but I tend to agree with another Amazon reviewer whose quote I now cannot find that indicated that this may include info that you can find on the web; but here you’ve got it all in one place without having to do the research yourself, especially if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes. In fact, I forgot about them until now.

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Acid Reflux:
How to Treat Acid Reflux
How to Prevent Acid Reflux
by Ace McCloud (audio, 2017)

I downloaded this audiobook from my library because it was only a 56-minute book. There were no reviews on Goodreads at the time. I rated it a 3 (“I liked it”) and someone has since rated it a 2 (“it was ok”). This was written by a guy who has suffered from acid reflux, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to give it a listen. There is not too much new here that you can’t find online, but again may be worth a listen if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

However, since listening to this book I found that author Ace McCloud has written 400 different works ranging from cookie recipes, to habits, to money, to Miley Cyrus. Doesn’t sound like much of an expert, now, huh. He advertises some of his books throughout the audio – like “checkout my book for managing stress” or something to that affect, which may be helpful; but some may find the shameless plug annoying.

Still there was one new nugget of information I did take away:

  • Aloe Vera Juice

I didn’t know this stuff existed or if drinking it would actually work. It’s a cheap purchase at Walmart in the pharmacy section. I listened to this book early on in my stages and I was willing to try anything. It tastes just like you’d think – like aloe vera gel smells, but slides down like a liquid. Not very tasty, but you only drink about 1/4 cup at a time before or with meals. I added some to my smoothies! Who is to say this works or doesn’t work with all of the other things I was trying at once!

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet
by Maria A. Bella (2012)

I haven’t read a Complete Idiot’s Guide to anything since… the 90s? But it was available at my library, so why not?! You’ll get a lot of info on how the stomach and esophagus work in this book. It’s got a lot of very detailed information for anyone new to acid reflux, including foods to avoid and friendly foods.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions, however. Many acid reflux cookbooks will suggest avoiding foods, but then put them in their own recipes! Also, although I know there is a correlation with high fat and acid reflux, I don’t like when low-fat and fat-free products are pushed so heavily.

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Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux (Revised Edition):
Nutrition You Can Live With
by Elaine Magee (2008)

I loved the title of this book because when one has acid reflux and starts to do some research, one learns all of the foods to avoid. It gets to the point where you start thinking, “Well, what CAN I eat?” It’s a pretty well laid-out and straight-forward kind of book.

New nuggets for me:

  • Chew gum. This was the first time I heard this suggestion, but it makes sense:
    • “The saliva stimulated by chewing seems to help neutralize acid and force stomach fluids back where it belongs.”
    • Generally speaking, this seems to be working for me, but I started doing this way into my treatment that… who knows!
    • I quit gum years ago; but now I may have a new gum addiction. Whoops.
  • High-protein diets are NOT more healthful that high-carbohydrate diets
    • I loved this nugget of advice. People often give up carbs to lose weight (weight loss is a big suggestion to combat acid reflux); but ignore the saturated fat that often comes with eating a high protein diet. Too much saturated fat with exacerbate acid reflux. It’s a high fiber diet that’s more important.
  • Health, NOT Weight Loss
    • This was an aha! moment for me!
    • Focusing on losing weight puts you into a dieting mindset where are you more likely to fail. All diets “work” if you work them, but they aren’t always healthy.
    • Instead, “change your focus to being and feeling healthy.” The weight loss with follow naturally.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions in this book. I did try one for Green Sauced Chicken Enchiladas. They were a little cumbersome and tasted okay, not great. It did make me think of this Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole, though, and that I should make that again soon and can use green (tomatillo) salsa if I feel like tomatoes and I should continue our (sad) divorce.

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The Acid Reflux Solution:
A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally
by Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD (2012) – MUST READ

This is the one book I would read if you want some good information on the whys, hows and what-to-do-nows of acid reflux. I checked it out from the library and have since purchased it on Thriftbooks. It’s written by a doctor who had experienced acid reflex himself for many years.

I like how Rodriguez addresses the medication situation – that it is useful to treat symptoms in the short-term; but that by no means should it be continued for long term use. PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), like Prilosec, should not be “prescribed longer than 50 days”. PPIs stop the production of the stomach acid so that there will be none to reflux up the esophagus. This is why it often takes 24 hours to three days to feel any relief of symptoms.

However, you do need that acid to break down food and absorb important nutrients in the long term! Without it, you will have trouble absorbing calcium, magnesium, iron and maybe even B vitamins, as well. Even if you think you are getting enough of these nutrients, you may not be soaking them up, which can affect your bones, red blood cells and heart in the long-term.

Rodriguez also addresses the usual list of trigger foods, indicating that that list may not be as long as we think! There is really only a short list of what foods may cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax, causing the reflux to occur in the first place. The other items may irritate an already inflamed esophagus, which is why some people can and some people cannot tolerate certain items. Maybe tomatoes, garlic, onions and I can all get back together and become one happy family?! In any case, real food that’s high in fiber and eaten in controlled portions is best.

There is much, much more to this book and I found it to be the most informational and liberating of all the books I read – the reason why I purchased it.

Some of the recipes in the book have longer ingredient lists and include complicated methods, but not all. At first glance, I thumbed through the recipes, skipping over many. But giving it a closer look, I found reasons to try some things I may normally swept under the rug, like Fennel-Scented Lentil Soup. (Fennel is a natural digestive aid!) I would have loved photos of each recipe as well as the nutrition facts. That may have made it a 5-star book for me.

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Eating for Acid Reflux:
A Handbook and Cookbook for Those with Heartburn
by Jill Sklar & Annabel Cohen (2003)

This bonus 6th book on acid reflux isn’t really a bonus. I honestly didn’t read this book thoroughly, just thumbed through it. Frankly, I was quite sick of reading the same stuff about acid reflux and I felt like I got the information I really needed out of The Acid Reflux Solution.

This book goes very in depth about common causes and all the medical issues surrounding acid reflux. That part looks very detailed, but I did not read that lengthy section. It also goes over treatment and medication options, listing PPIs as part of “maintenance therapy”, which after what I’ve read about long-term use, makes this book seem dated!

What I did found intriguing in this book, though, were the recipes. I think I’d like to try every soup in the book despite the fact that there are no photos for any of them! And I found very few recipes touting the importance of low-fat or fat-free items. I may have to get a copy of this book just for the recipes!

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In the end, any of these books could be helpful if you are suffering from acid reflux or GERD. However, if you don’t want to weed through everything out there, I’d recommend The Acid Reflux Solution.

I don’t have the pain that I did back at the end of April, but I can tell that my esophagus is still somewhat inflamed and irritated. Some days I make good choices, other days I don’t and pay dearly. But at least I have the tools to move in the right direction.

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Do you have any favorite cookbooks or recipes for acid reflux sufferers?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Oh my GERD!

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After a stressful April at work (including an IT debacle that made doing work very difficult), a much-needed, almost-perfect vacation of overindulgence, I revisited a health issue that once struck me in my 20s – ACID REFLUX.

Now when I say acid reflux, most people think heartburn, which is something with which I can totally deal. But acid reflux is something that is persistent and never seems to go away no matter how many antacids one takes. And even changing the diet takes a long time before relief is found.

My symptoms were similar to, but not exactly like those I found when I was diagnosed in my 20s – after college when I returned to live my parents, was stressed-out trying to figure out what to do with my life while working a temp job.

This time, it was the tightness in the chest and dizzy spells, however, that sent me to Urgent Care rather than making an appointment with my doctor. After many tests to rule out anything heart-related, I concluded with the Urgent Care physician that this was an acid reflux situation or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

And I basically knew what to do – get on some PPIs (aka Prilosec) and change my diet. STAT. (That night, I did begin to experience the same symptoms as I did in my 20s – heart attack-like chest pains so severe that I could feel it under my breast bone right through my back, like someone stabbing me.)

So, I made one of the healthiest, somewhat bland throw-together bowls ever and really enjoyed it:

This bowl included kale, rice, black beans, butternut squash, avocado and pepitas. I may have a drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top, too. (And yes, that is a picture of restaurateur Jamie Malone from the 2018 Restaurant of the Year edition of Food & Wine magazine. I’ve been reading all about Grand Cafe and am hoping to visit soon!)

But I wanted to learn more about treating my esophagus, not just the symptoms. There is so much conflicting information out there! So while I tried to adhere to many of these recommendations…

  • Avoid trigger foods/irritants:
    • Citrus fruits
    • Tomatoes
    • Garlic & Onions
    • Spicy foods
    • Coffee (caffeinated and decaf)
    • Most Teas
    • Chocolate
    • Alcohol
    • Fried foods
    • High-fat foods
    • Mint
    • Carbonated Beverages
  • Manage Stress
  • Lose weight
  • Don’t lie down until 2, preferably 3 hours after eating
  • Limit portion sizes
  • Sleep on your left side
  • Don’t take NSAIDs, like aspirin and Aleve
  • Eat a diet high in fiber

…while I tried to adhere to all of that, I got on the interwebs and checked out books to learn more. What of all the conflicting information is correct?! Well, if you are experiencing Acid Reflux, GERD or even persistent heartburn, I’ll share with you which books and information was worth my while and which ones you can SKIP. I hope to have this post up and info reviewed in the coming week or so!

When talking with people about my acid reflux, I’ve learned that a quite surprising number of people I know have been on PPIs for years. They are treating the symptoms, which I understand. It’s painful and hard to concentrate when you are feeling pain. But for years? In my reading, I learned why one shouldn’t be on medications like Prilosec for long-term use; yet, doctors are prescribing it over and over again anyway.

Changing diet and lifestyle is hard, but I’d rather give that a go than create future complications! More to come…

Do you have any favorite books, tips or recipes to help combat acid reflux or GERD?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: 5 More Soups

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It’s been a couple months, but I did try 5 more soups from The Soup Cleanse Cookbook. You can read about this cookbook here. It’s more about what you are putting into your body on a daily basis than any real type of crazy cleanse.

Here is what I learned and an account of what soups I’d make again (or not):

Recipes I’ve tried from each category:

  • Purees
    • Butternut Turmeric – This one called for roasting a whole butternut squash. To save time, I bought this big bag of frozen cubed butternut squash from Costco.
    • Turns out I didn’t quite need this much. 🙂  Just one package inside was enough:
    • This is nice warming soup to sip on a cold winter or early spring morning.
  • Beans & Lentils
    • Chickpea Stew Last post, when I didn’t remember the Lentil & Kale Stew, it was because I didn’t eat it yet! (I did this time around and it was good, though not great.) Instead, I had the Chickpea Stew Last time. I do remember that I didn’t like that we pureed some of the chickpeas and it gave it a gritty texture.
    • Here is a photo of the Lentil & Kale Stew, which could have been a bit more flavorful:
  • Sweeter Spoonfuls
    • Creamy Cocoa with Sweet Potatoes – Here is a recipe that illustrates how forgiving these recipes are. I had 4 recipes this week that called for either cubed butternut squash or sweet potato. When I was half-way through one of my soups, I realized I put in the wrong one! Oh well. So I don’t know what actually went into this one, I’m thinking butternut squash. But I loved it. This was always always a treat in the morning or after work. And the the black rice at the bottom was such a nice addition.
  • Stews
    • Winter Root Vegetable Stew – The author raves about this recipe and I have loved all the stews so far, but something about this one didn’t jive with me. It was a little… sweet? I could argue it was the sweet potato, because I really don’t like them very much because of their sweetness; but who knows if it was the butternut squash that went into this stew instead? The celeriac was much more difficult to find than I thought. I really thought I’ve bought this in the past without any trouble. It took me 4 tries and my final destination was Byerly’s.
    • BRIGHT SIDE – I didn’t use all of the collard greens that went into this dish. So instead, I used them as a bed in place of rice in this Saucy Moroccan Chicken dish. Greens FTW!
  • Restorative Broths
    • Pumpkin and Mushrooms with Star Anise Broth – If you remember, Centeno’s broths are not strained, so you get all of the nutritional goodness of the veggies used to simmer the broth. They also are filling and warming in the evening when you think you may need a snack. This soup recommended pumpkin, kabocha or butternut squash (probably because they are all hearty) and I believe this is the one (along with the Creamy Cocoa soup above) that I accidentally swapped the butternut and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes seemed to disintegrate a little bit… and while I absolutely love fresh mushrooms, they tended to get a rubbery texture on reheating. I found myself sipping this as a true broth and not chewing on or eating the vegetables.

All in all, some success… But I may hang my hat up on souping until the chill of the fall now that spring and summer is finally here!

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading (Not Doing!)

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Whoa! Where did the time go?! Well, a lot has been going on; but before I dive in, I wanted to share this last list of books I found in my drafts. I sure do have some catching up to do!

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This is probably my most diverse reading list yet. Okay, so there might be two cookbooks in here, but we’ve also got fiction, nonfiction, audio and a… play?!

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Weeknight Cooking for Two
by Kenzie Swanhart (nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a read

I love that all of these recipes serve just two people and have only 5-ish ingredients. I now own the cookbook and have flagged a dozen recipes, but I have yet to make one single dish. I’m still in the market for the best, flavorful tomato soup. So the Creamy Tomato Soup will be up first to bat.

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Overwhelmed:
Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time

by Brigid Schulte (nonfiction, audio) – worth a listen/read

If you are a mom, especially a busy mom… or one that feels guilty about anything for any reason, you should read this book. Don’t have time to read it? You should listen to it.

But this book isn’t all about motherhood, it’s about life… and work-life balance and our busy culture in America. There were times when this book made me downright mad. Because I listened to the audio, there was no way I could flag all of the pieces I wanted to.

But I love the perspectives and the bright spots. And there are good chunks of information at the end on what can be changed to ensure a more happy, fulfilling and less crazy-busy life!

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These is My Words:
The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901

by Nancy E. Turner (fiction) – must listen/read

I believe this book was on a list of books that all women should read. I honestly thought it was a true story until I got about a quarter through the book when U thought that it couldn’t be and had to look it up! It’s not entirely true, but inspired by diaries from one woman’s ancestors.

Think Oregon Trail, but in the Old Southwest. Arizona Territory to be exact. Covered wagons? Check. Snake bites? Check. Dysentery? Check. Only it’s So. Much. More.

I absolutely loved it and since the only way I could listen was via the downloaded audio on my phone, it kept my earbuds in and me cleaning up a storm! I’m thoroughly interested in listening to Sarah’s Quilt so I can remain in Sarah’s world for a while longer. (Not that I would have been able to successfully live in her world by any means!)

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Les Belles Soeurs
by Michel Tremblay (play, fiction) – SKIP

I don’t think I’ve ever read a play before… except maybe Romeo and Juliet in high school? Still, I think the written form of this script was lost on me, perhaps the English translation, too, since this was orginally written in Qubecois French in the 60s. I found the piece because it ended up on a list of Quebecois books before we went to Canada. I also read Tremblay’s The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant, which I didn’t really love either.

The women in this play were just nasty to each other and I didn’t really get anything out of the story. I had to look up other reviews on good reads to see if I really missed something. Those reviews are definitely mixed!

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Great Bowls of Food
by Robin Asbell (nonfiction, cookbook) – Skip

I am a sucker for a good bowl as shown here, here, here, here, here, and here. For me, it’s like healthy comfort food. What I did like about this book is that I discovered a few sauces to add to my bowl repertoire, such as the Creamy Goat Cheese and Tomato Sauce. What I didn’t like was that all of the bowls made four servings and weren’t always easily scale-able down to one. I also would have preferred the ingredient lists to be broken down a bit. You know, when a recipes shows “for the sauce” or for the “roasted vegetables” or when there are different pieces of the dish made separately, which often happens in bowl meals. I think that would have made them seem less overwhelming. I do think I may put the Cure a Cold Brothy Bowl in the rotation though, if I should have enough energy (and all the ingredients on hand!)

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Have you ever read a play??

Cheers~
Carrie

Asian Beef Dishes in 10 Minutes (from the best cookbook)

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Yes, I’m still making my way through the best cookbook that you’ve never read!

And I have two new, husband-approved winners!

Each of Jules’s recipes serves two, which is perfect for us since my husband hates leftovers. I had a pound of ground beef thawing in the fridge, which meant I could use 1/2 lb one night and save the other half for another dish. Also, each recipe in 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes has only 5 ingredients (not including cooking oil, S&P) and should take about 10 minutes or less.

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Hokkien Noodles with Minced Beef

Ingredients: fresh hokkien noodles or Singapore noodles, ground beef, spring onions, baby bok choy, sweet soy sauce or oyster sauce

Here are my notes with my adaptations in blue:

  • Jules’s recipe called for fresh hokkien noodles or singapore noodles, which I had never heard of before. I’m guessing she chose those for this recipe for their adaptability to Asian dishes and perhaps how quickly they cook. When I saw this package of hokkien noodles, I picked them up:
  • Not exactly fresh, but definitely quick! 
  • I used the 90-second microwave instructions and then added them to the dish. There is one more package left in there. Each one was 2 servings. Now, if I could only remember where I found them. My guess is Cub Foods.
  • I used scallions/green onions in place of the spring onions. They are very similar.
  • I chose this recipe because I had leftover bok choy from one of the soups I made from the Soup Cleanse Cookbook. But I think you could use virtually any vegetable that suits your fancy for an Asian dish here. {I’m looking at you, broccoli!}
  • We use tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce in place of the sweet soy or oyster sauce. We aren’t gluten-free in our household; we have just found it to be the best tasting. I’ve tried regular soy, low-sodium soy and cocount aminos over the years and it seems that we often prefer the dishes when I use tamari. I haven’t cooked many Asian dishes at home in the past because I’m always stumped on what to use in place of certain things like fish sauce or oyster sauce since Rob is allergic to the sea, seafood. As of late, I’ve just been using tamari the place of any of these ingredients with much success!
  • Also, whenever I am making an Asian dish that calls for olive oil, I do substitute at least a portion of that for sesame seed oil because I feel like this gives the dish a little more Asian flavor as well.
  • We may have ended up with less noodles than the original, but I think the ratio was perfect for us. 
  • Sriracha – Yes, I served this dish to Rob with the bottle on the side so that we could adjust the spice to taste and kick it up notch or two!
  • Rob commented about how well I seasoned the meat. The only thing is… I didn’t. 🙂 Whenever I know there is soy sauce or sriracha in a dish, I know that the sodium level is up there and there really is no reason to add any additional.
  • With the pre-cooked package of hokkien noodles, this dish took right around the 10 minutes.
  • This is now a dish in our rotation!

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Super Simple Sang Choi Bau

Ingredients: ground beef, water chestnuts, dried chili flakes, oyster sauce, iceberg lettuce

Here are my notes with my adaptations in blue:

  • Let’s start with the water chestnuts. My husband loves them, which is why I wanted to try out this recipe on him. The recipe called for a 225g can (approx 8 ounces). Mine was less than that and it was all I had. But my husband still thought there were a few too many. We have decided to make a note for next time that our ratio should be 1 can of water chestnuts to 1-lb ground beef (instead of a 1/2 lb), because the flavor was still great! <<–Note to self.
  • We used tamari in place of the oyster sauce (see above).
  • While I think these would make nice lettuce wraps, I didn’t have any on hand. We served it over a bit of precooked rice I had in the freezer instead. (Recipe photo on the left, my dish on the right):
  • Also used a little sesame seed oil in place of some olive oil when cooking the beef.
  • And, again, sriracha was served on the side.
  • So easy. Rob actually wants leftovers of this to take to work.
  • This dish took right around the 10 minutes.
  • Another dish in our rotation!

Thanks, Jules, for some quick, easy dishes!

Do you have any quick, easy go-to Asian dishes or sauces you’d like to share?

Cheers~
Carrie

Cold Cure

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I didn’t grow up drinking tea. In fact, it took me a long time to grow an affinity for it. Yet it has become one of those things that comforts me when I have a cold. The warmth of the hot liquid, just like soup, makes me feel better, if only mentally. Although there is some truth to hot liquids and steam opening the sinuses.

Recently, after a day or two of a slight scratchy throat, I woke up with a stuffy nose and head one morning. That night, when I tried to go to sleep, breathing out of my nose was impossible and I woke up with another scratchy throat for a different reason – I had been snoring.

Groggy, it was a morning of indecisiveness. So I got the idea to look up on the interwebs to find out what the best tea would be for a cold. As you can imagine, there is a wealth of knowledge and a number of opinions! {I’ve also found that while Hot Toddies in the evening may be be comforting, but I’m always left feeling a little more stuffed (and dehydrated) the next day.}

Last week, though, I think I found the trick! I drank this concoction and the next day…

I felt better.

Now I wasn’t 100% yet, but I woke up and could breathe freely through my nose. Usually, the morning of a cold is the worst. I ended up having another one before breakfast, too…

The DIY Stuffy Nose Remedy includes three medicinal ingredients:

  • honey
  • lemon
  • ginger

This is such an easy, natural tea you can make yourself using ingredients that have been known to treat symptoms for thousands of years. You can get the “recipe” here. But the truth is that there is no right or wrong ratio of these components – you can make it to taste. Here are the tips I’d like to offer that I think help make this tea best:

  1. You need a big mug – one that can hold two cups of water, like in the recipe. Otherwise, you’ll need to make yourself a second cup of tea and when you’re sick, that’s just a PITA. Get a big mug – or bowl – and settle in. This one did the trick for me. Just shy of two cups:
  2. Do not skimp on the ingredients!
    • Do not substitute stevia or another sweetener or leave out the honey! It’s the medicinal qualities in the honey that are helping you fight infection. The sweetening properties are just a bonus!
    • I found my personal best ratio is about 1 Tbsp or so of honey, juice of half of a lemon, 3/4″ piece of fresh ginger (freshly grated) and 2 cups of water. My humongo lemons from Costco were a bit much the first time around, so I upped the honey a bit. You can adjust to taste.
    • You might be able to use ground ginger or even a ginger tea in a pinch in place of fresh; but I haven’t tried and can’t vouch for it.
  3. Put the ingredients in your mug first.
  4. Boil your water separately.
    • Often, when I make tea, I heat the water in a mug in the microwave and add the teabag afterward. I know it’s better to pour boiling water over the teabag; but sometimes I’m just lazy. I don’t have a kettle and think it’d be silly to boil water for just one cup of tea.
    • This is a time that it’s worth it to heat your two cups of water in a separate bowl in the microwave – 3 to 4 minutes should do.
    • Take the water out of the mic using a pot holder and pour over your ingredients and stir.
  5. Adjust ingredients to taste. It tastes good and will make you feel good, too!

Do you have any home remedies you swear by for colds?

Be Well!
Carrie

 

 

Soup (Book) Week: The One That Changed My Thinking…

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And here we arrive… the last Soup Cookbook review of the week. Are you fed up with soup by now? I’M NOT! 🙂

And just to recap in case you missed:

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Soup Cleanse Cookbook
by Nicole Centeno (cookbook) – worth a READ

WOW. This book.

Knowing it would deserve it’s own review, I came up with Soup Week rather than doing a 5 for Friday with 5 cookbooks in one post.

At first glance, I flipped through these recipes and thought, “Where is the protein?” and “I’m not going to make very many of these.” I do not eat a vegan, nor a vegetarian diet. Maybe it’s psychological, but I always feel like I need some sort of protein in order for a meal to feel “complete” to me, whether that be meat, eggs or beans. I really did skip over a lot of recipes in this book.

But then… 

I did what I do what I do with every cookbook I read (unless I’m in search of one specific, quick recipe!)…

I read it like a novel… from cover to cover.

And boy did I learn so much. This soup cookbook is the one that changed my thinking… and when I wasn’t looking to change it at all. It is also the book that got me out of my comfort zone to try a bunch of those unusual ingredients that I was not really inspired to in some of those other cookbooks I mentioned this week.

And I have since made 10 recipes from it.

This is the book that actioned me out of my comfort zone!

Word of Caution:  If you are looking for a book with a few good soup recipes to peruse, this book may not be for you. It most certainly wasn’t what I was looking for when I went in search of soup cookbooks. This book embodies more of a plan – a plan to eat real food… plant-based food.

~

Now if you are still intrigued… here is what I learned:

  • Only 13 % of the American population gets enough vegetables. Do you really believe you are part of that 13%? Do you get 30-60% of your calories from vegetables?
  • We seem to have worry about not getting enough protein in our diets; when for most Americans, that is not an issue. (Especially, compared to the issue of getting enough vegetables!) And get this, if you increase your vegetable intake, you’ll be adding protein to your diet, too. While the protein amounts in plants seem lower than traditional protein sources; when you star adding those extra vegetable servings to the diet, those little bits add up.
  • In the past five years, I’ve heard more and more nutritionist and dietitian advice to the lines of “eat real food, mostly plants.”

What I Loved About This Book:

The author’s goal is not to get you to give up meat or really even overhaul your diet. We put too much pressure on what we should restrict from our diets. What about the things that are missing? What if we added real, plant-based food and the rest followed?

Along with each recipe, Centeno points out specific ingredients and what they will do for your body. And why some items should prepared a certain way. Maybe this is what sold me?!

While I don’t specifically like the term cleanse (or diet) because it sounds so restricting; Centeno’s suggestion on how to eat her soups goes like this:

  • Pick one day to make 5 soups – one from each category of  purees, beans and lentils, sweeter spoonfuls, stews, restorative broths.
  • Each soup makes 4 servings, so your soups will last you two weeks. (Two servings of each soup will be eaten this week, the other two servings of each soup can go in the freezer for the following week.)
  • On the first day, you will eat only soup – one of each of the soups in order. Yes, this part is a restrictive; but it’s more about mindfulness. Soup forces us to slow down.
  • On the following five days, you replace one meal – any meal – with a soup. She recommends lunch, because it makes lunch easy, especially during the work week. But you can really do any meal, based on your schedule.

These recipes are all made of real ingredients, are plant-based and filling. What’s more is that most of the soups do not have broth or stock on the ingredient list, so almost all of the flavor you are getting is from the fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains themselves!

It kind of wowed me that each soup had as much flavor as they did. Only one have I found I needed to season with salt. The recipes are also pretty forgiving. I’ve messed up a step and ingredient or two.

What I Didn’t Like About Souping:

You’ll need to set aside a lot of time on the day you make these soups – like 3 hours or so. I’ve done it twice and have been pretty exhausted afterward. But I think it’s been worth it to have healthy, cleansing meals at the ready all week long – for two weeks! Sometimes I’ve just made four of the soups on a Sunday for my Monday Souping Day and would make the 5th soup for dinner, just like I would make dinner on Monday night.

Sometimes the soup’s textures aren’t as smooth or creamy as I’d like them to be; but I don’t have a blender, just a food processor. I did invest in an immersion blender and am slowly learning how to use that. But you don’t have to always blend the soups. And if the texture or a style of soup is something you don’t like, Centeno suggests choosing something from another category. Also, when I’m making soups for the week, I try to choose soups that might have some overlapping ingredients so I don’t have a lot of leftover ingredients or waste.

A day of souping can be a (mental) challenge, but it’s just one day. And I love ending the day with a restorative broth and a warm tummy full of it.

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Recipes I’ve tried from each category:

  • Purees
    • Carrot and Turmeric – This one wouldn’t puree in a food processor. My newly purchased immersion blender did the trick, when I figured out how to use it! Still, not as silky smooth looking as the photo. I’m still learning.
    • Cumin Sweet Potato – I don’t even really like sweet potatoes IRL. I gave it a go anyway. This one is flavorful. I think it’s the “sweet” I don’t like in sweet potatoes, but now I know if you add some Mexican or spicy flair, you’ve got me!
  • Beans & Lentils
    • Lentil and Kale – I don’t remember much about this soup, but I think that’s a good thing. It means it had good flavor and wasn’t too weird in texture. The ones that were lacking flavor or had weird texture were the ones that stood out.
    • Beans and Greens – Out of all the soups, this is the only one I needed to season, liberally, with salt. It was also the first time I’ve ever used dried beans. While canned beans are totally acceptable, I thought I decided to go all out and start with dried beans, sorting, rinsing and soaking them the night before. I thought all of this and the long simmer on the stove would make them taste the same as canned. (Or better?) But they were a little too al dente to my taste when I actually ate the soup. (And a bit more difficult to… ahem, digest.) Why didn’t I think to taste them after the allotted stove time?! Also, the resulting soup water just tasted “dirty” to me for some reason.
  • Sweeter Spoonfuls
    • Spiced Fig & Cashew – My fig and date ratios were off, but this still came out beautifully. I found that I liked to replace breakfast with the Sweeter Spoonful soups.
    • Vanilla Pistachio with Oats – I think my oats were undercooked and this wasn’t really sweet, just a little dull.
  • Stews
    • Courgette Stew – You might wonder how it is a stew without any big chunks of meat or even beans, but this was so flavorful! The stews really surprised me.
    • Curly Kale Stew – In my opinion, some of these recipes are misnamed. Yes, kale is an ingredient, but my overall feel for this stew is for the warming coconut curry! So comforting in winter.
  • Restorative Broths
    • Lime Pepper Broth – I loved the little kick of jalapeno! Centeno does not strain any of her broths, so veggies used are fresh and you’ll get to benefit from their nutrients. My only complaint about the broths is the suggestion to used sliced onion. I feel like I’m slurping up noodles! If you like that kind of thing, fine. I’ll be dicing all of my onions next time.
    • Spirulina and Kale Broth – Here is an example of an uncommon ingredient I bought – Spirulina Powder! It’s made of sea algae and is loaded with Omega-3s as well as protien, iron and potassium. Still, Centeno did what I love – she recommended using other types of ingredients like nori or wakame or even doubling up on the Kale if needed. The deep blue-green color of the spirulina powder was a bit of a trip, though!

I have never felt deprived eating any of her soups, even if (with my mindset) there is a lack of traditional protein in many soups. I’ve actually eaten slower and been more mindful of each bite. This coming weekend is my next weekend to prep soups. But I am just getting settled in my new digs at work. I need to establish my routine, so I’m going to hold off for a bit.

In the meantime, I’m going to lunch from my freezer to continue to empty it so that we can make room for more upcoming soups – whether they be for this new souping ritual or for any of my favorite soups. (I’m looking at you, Immunity Soup, Provencal Lentil Soup and Crockpot Italian Chicken and Quinoa Soup)!

And if you are looking for posts on traditional soups:

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What books have you read that have altered your thinking?

P.S. Ever since I published the post on Clean Soups, I’ve heard kombu used in recipes (on tv and in print) several times! Maybe I just never noticed this ingredient before. Either it’s not too unusual after all… or I’m just now noticing it. 🙂

Cheers~
Carrie