Creamy Tomato Soup

I don’t know about you, but my family’s garden is overflowing with tomatoes – little baby tomatoes to good medium-sized, bright red ones. Even though they are great enjoyed fresh with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the vitamin A content found in tomatoes is better utilized in the body when heated and in the presence of a little bit of fat. One cup of raw tomatoes has about 30% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A.  

I had some onion, garlic, and coconut on hand and decided to put together an easy, creamy tomato soup. If you have fresh herbs in your garden such as basil, oregano, or thyme—they would be a great addition. To help bring out the vitamin A in this soup, a small amount of coconut milk was used, which provides great texture and flavor. Enjoy!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Fresh pepper to taste

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions with a half teaspoon of salt. If the onions begin to stick to the pan, add about a quarter cup of water. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the oregano, garlic and tomatoes. Cook over low to medium heat until the tomatoes breakdown and release their juices.

Once the tomatoes are soft, transfer the soup contents to a high powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy (be careful with the hot contents of the soup and allow some of the heat to escape when blending). Add in the coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Re-blend and taste the soup, adjust seasonings accordingly (add more salt or vinegar to taste). Garnish the soup with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of fresh pepper!

What is your favorite way to use up all the tomatoes from your garden?

Fermented Cashew Cheese

This dip/cheese is a perfect afternoon snack when you are looking for something flavorful and tasty! Cashews also supply a good amount of iron – a 1-ounce serving of raw cashews supplies 10% of the Daily Value for iron and the fermentation increases the bio-availability of several minerals (calcium, iron, zinc). This can also be made with almonds instead of cashews, which are just as high in minerals, as well as Vitamin E.

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 probiotic capsule (I used 50 billion)

In a vitamix, blender, or food processor, combine the soaked and drained cashews and probiotic capsule and mix together. Pour into a bowl, cover with a towel, and let it ferment overnight.
When the mixture is fermented, add seasonings and spices to your liking! I added the juice of one lemon, onion powder, garlic powder, a pinch of cumin and smoked paprika, and sea salt to taste. Enjoy! It goes delicious on gluten free crackers.

Quick & Easy Vegetable Saute

I love simple dishes that come together and are full of flavor. This is a perfect side dish to accompany scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or fish or cooked beans (chickpeas, my favorite!). Top the dish with chopped walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for a nice crunch and added healthy fats. Ume plum vinegar is salty and slightly tart, yet provides lots of flavor…start with a small amount and adjust as necessary.

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 a small red onion, chopped
1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 zucchini, sliced in half moons
1/2 teaspoon cumin, coriander and thyme
Ume plum vinegar
Red wine vinegar

In a large saute pan, add the oil and heat slowly. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions and saute until soft and translucent.

Add the Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and spices. Stir vegetables and cover the pot until vegetables are tender, about five minutes.

When vegetables are tender, add ume plum vinegar and red wine vinegar to taste. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Enjoy!

Low Fiber Foods & Cancer

For today’s post, we have a guest blogger writing a great article about different foods that may or may not be beneficial during cancer treatment. For any individual going through chemotherapy, side effects may vary from person to person and make it difficult to know what to eat. Jillian shares with us some tips on how fiber and other foods interact with the body when undergoing chemotherapy. Jillian can be found at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/bio.htm.

Look for a follow-up post on our favorite cookbooks and nutrient-rich recipes to help manage side effects when undergoing cancer treatment.

Why Low Fiber Foods Are Recommended For Some Cancer Patients

Cancer treatment programs can often require a complete reworking of a person’s lifestyle in order to accommodate for changes in environmental tolerances. Changes in diet are certainly a big part of this. Often, doctors will sit down with their patients before treatment and lay out exactly what they can expect to experience based on past experience.

Dietary requirements are likely to change based on the type of cancer and based on which parts of the body are being affecting at the time. Proper nutrition for mesothelioma patients may vary somewhat from a patient that’s receiving treatment for something like colon cancer.

Because common cancer treatments can affect fast-replicating tissues in the body, it’s typical that cells that make up the lining of the intestines can experience disruptions in their normal life cycle. This can cause bowel irritability and chronic diarrhea for patients that are currently on a chemotherapy regimen. It’s for this reason that many doctors will recommend limiting the amount of fiber in the diet and may recommend that the patient stay entirely away from certain foods.

While individual dietary specifications will largely vary from one patient to the next, most doctors will recommend that their patient avoid things like beans, peas, and corn. These are heavily fibrous and difficult for even a healthy digestive system to process. For protein, it’s recommended that patients stick to eggs and nut-based products like smooth peanut butter. If these aren’t suitable for the patient’s tastes, things like tofu can also be added.

What About Other Foods?

Dairy products certainly aren’t banned from a cancer patient’s diet, but it’s often advised that they be limited to small amounts. It’s common for people that normally enjoy milk or yogurt on a regular basis to feel less tolerant of it while undergoing cancer treatment. Those people should adjust their dairy intake according to what feels most comfortable for them.

While proper dieting can certainly offer a tremendous number of health benefits, it’s important to keep in mind that it probably won’t facilitate the treatment of cancer all by itself, without other forms of treatment. The key idea is to create a diet that gives the body everything it needs to continue functioning normally, but without creating discomforts likely to occur during treatments. After all, the better a patient feels from day to day, the more energy they’re going to be able to devote to getting better in the long run.

Fermented Bean Dip

  • 2 cups dried beans
  • 1 kombu strip
  • 2 ½ to 3 cups cooking liquid
  • ¼ of a red onion
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ cup fermenting liquid (see note below)

Soak 2 cups of dried beans in a large bowl covered with fresh water overnight. (I used cranberry beans but any bean would work.) In the morning, drain the beans. Put the beans in a large bowl or dish in which they have enough room. Allow the beans to sprout for 2 to 3 days. Each day, rinse and drain the beans.

When the beans are sprouted, cook them over low heat in pot of water with a kombu strip added until cooked through (they should be soft and tender).

When the beans are cooked, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid and kombu strip.  Add the beans and kombu strip to a high-powered blender along with 2 ½ cups of the cooking liquid. Puree until soft and beans are well blended (add more or less liquid as necessary). Then add in ¼ of a red onion, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Blend again until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the pureed mixture into a large bowl. Wait until the pureed beans cool and then add your fermented liquid. I used sauerkraut juice from Bubbies Sauerkraut. Allow the mixture to sit out for 2 to 4 days. The end result should have a tangy taste, it’s hard to describe. Taste it each day so you can tell the difference as it becomes fermented.

The dip is great with fresh veggies (use it as you would hummus) or mixed with a grain of your choice. You can also spread some on top of a tortilla topped with veggies and roll it up for a healthy vegetarian sandwich.

Fermenting liquid: Any liquid that is fermented will work. I happened to have sauerkraut juice in my fridge that I used. Whey strained from yogurt or even just yogurt would work as well or a probiotic capsule should work. If you have any question, let me know.

Benefits of Fermenting

Celiac Disease, Part 1

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  • Celiac disease affects roughly 3 million Americans, which averages out to be about 1 in 133 healthy people.
  • In individuals with a first degree relative with celiac disease, the prevalence drops to 1 in 22, and in those with a 2nd degree relative, it affects 1 in 39 people.
  • The number of people with celiac disease in the U.S. would fill 4,400 Boeing 747 airplanes.
  • The number of people with celiac disease in the U.S. is roughly equal to the number of people living in the state of Nevada.
  • U.S. fans with celiac disease could fill Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, 37 times.

Did you know that May is Celiac Disease Awareness month? Although this is only recognized in a handful of states, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois, and California, awareness about celiac disease has spread. However, more knowledge is needed, as getting an accurate diagnosis is very difficult. It is commonly misdiagnosed as IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or many other various conditions. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, 41% of adults and 60% of children diagnosed were asymptomatic and it takes an average of four years for a symptomatic individual to be correctly diagnosed with celiac disease. This makes me wonder how long it takes an asymptomatic individual to be correctly diagnosed or someone who does not have the “usual” symptoms associated with celiac disease such as gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea. During this time without a correct diagnosis, individuals are at increased risk of other autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, neurological disorders, and possibly cancer.

So what exactly is celiac disease…? Individuals with celiac disease are allergic to proteins (glutenin and gliadin) found in wheat and relative wheat products (kamut, triticale, durum, spelt, semolina, farro, graham), rye, and barley. Upon ingestion of foods containing gluten, an immune-mediated toxic reaction occurs causing destruction of the villi in the small intestine. With atrophy of the villi, malabsorption of nutrients occurs including calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin K, along with the fat-soluble vitamins. With continued ingestion of gluten containing products, malnutrition can set in, along with other disorders including intestinal lymphoma and bowel cancer, lactose intolerance, osteoporosis, anemia, bone and joint pain, iron deficiency, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, depression, anxiety, neurological complications, miscarriages (and congenital problems in an unborn baby), and weight loss and failure to thrive in children.

Oats may be problematic in some individuals as crops that grow wheat are cleared out and then oats are grown leading to cross-contamination. However, you can purchase certified gluten-free oats at various grocery stores. It’s best to test the oats and see how well you tolerate them. If you feel that you have any symptoms re-emerge, remove them from your diet. Over time, as your GI tract heals, you may be able to reintroduce them again.

Next to come, gluten-free grains!

References:

Green PHR, Stavropoulos SN, Panagi SG, Goldstein SL, Mcmahon DJ, Absan H, Neugut AI. Characteristics of adult celiac disease in the USA: results of a national survey. Am J Gastroenterol. 2001;96(1):126-131.

Holmes S. Celiac disease: Symptoms, complications and patient support. Nurs Stand. 2010;24:50-56.

Cauliflower

Lately, cauliflower has been my favorite vegetable. It’s extremely versatile, as I enjoy it raw dipped in hummus, freshly steamed, roasted with Indian spices, or pureed into numerous soups to provide thickness and a creamy, velvety texture!

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that provides plenty of vitamin C, in addition to vitamin K, B vitamins, and fiber, while also beneficial in detox support. With its numerous vitamins and minerals providing anti-inflammtory benefits, it’s a wonderful addition to your diet.

Raw Cauliflower & Green Pea Dip

I didn’t measure these ingredients but here is a rough estimate and feel free to experiment with the ingredients and seasonings to suit your needs!

1 cup green peas, thawed
1 clove garlic
Onion (about a 1/4 cup chopped)
3-4 medium size pieces of raw cauliflower
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Dill to taste
Water (about a 1/4 cup or so)

Combine the ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender and puree until desired thickness. Enjoy!