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HEALTHY HAPPENINGS November 2012

Comfort Food For Good Health
Eula Gonzales- Moonflower Market

Fall is once again upon us. Shortened days and multi-colored leaves blowing in the chilled air remind me that it is time to reset my internal clock. Fall is my favorite season. My hyper-active go, go, go routine is replaced by the urge to relax in house and cook. When the weather outside is frightful, I fire up the stove and create comfort foods.

When I cook, I hold fast to the belief that good food is a lifestyle that we choose to implement to maintain good health and wellness. If you feed with high quality fuel, the body will naturally create a strong immune system. I find no greater joy then creating tangible dishes that engage the taste buds and leave the palate wanting more.

photo of garlicThe breeze is particularly chilly tonight, and I have chosen soup to help warm my small frame. I gather my ingredients and arrange them on my counter. Extra Virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, tomatoes and lentils are scattered across my cooking space. I roll up my sleeves and pull back my hair. It’s time to go to my happy place. Lentil soup is a simple dish to make. Once all the ingredients are prepped, the process graduates to combine, simmer and stir.

I pour a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil into my pot. The beautiful light green liquid slowly coats my pot. Olive oil originates from the Mediterranean, which is known to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. The oil from the olives has been shown to fight osteoporosis, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and aid insulin levels in diabetics. Who knew that the small green fruit was capable of so many health benefits.

I look to the onions and pause for a moment. Onions literally bring tears to my eyes. They will make up the bulk of my base if I can blink back the tears that begin to well up. I chop them up in long lengths and sauté them with my olive oil. Onions are high in antioxidants. They are also a know anti-inflammatory that have been used to treat boils and blisters when topically applied. For women going through menopause, onions have been shown to prevent bone loss.

photo of sauteingI begin to peel back the skins from the heads of garlic that I have chosen. I love garlic, and always use a whole head when making soup. Garlic has many benefits, and aside from being found in most dishes, its medicinal uses are vast. During World War I & II it was used to fight gangrene. Grave diggers in 18th century Europe drank a garlic wine to guard their immune systems against the plague. Today, it is used to boost the immune system. As well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Garlic also aids in the fight against heart disease, specifically atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries, and prevents some forms of cancer. I add the minced garlic to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Once my base is well sautéed, I add the lentils that have been soaking in water for about two hours. Pre-soaked beans are easier to digest, and can eliminate the gassiness that most people associate with legumes. Lentils are my favorite legume. Lentils come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are nicknamed the “mighty mini legume,” and for several reasons. Lentils have the third highest protein content, by weight, then any other legume. They are high in dietary fiber, Vitamin B-1, folate and iron. I often use lentils as a meat substitute in my pasta dishes.
Jar of roasted tomatoes
I finally reach for my tomatoes. I prefer to use fresh local tomatoes, but today I will use a can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes. As we creep deeper into the cold season, fresh local produce is not as abundant as it was in the spring and summer months. I add two cups of water for every cup of lentils. I adjust this measurement depending on the consistency of the soup that I desire. I stir all the contents and season to taste, adding Mountain Rose Oregano and Rosemary to the salt and pepper. I bring the soup to a simmer and check back every fifteen minutes to give it a quick stir. After 30 to 40 minutes my soup is ready to serve.

I ladle the hot nutritious liquid into my bowl. The earthy aroma of legumes and herbs triggers my salivary glands. It’s time to eat. In the twenty minutes that I have taken to prep and assemble, I have created a heart healthy meal that will keep my immune system in good standing, help my body combat cancer and reduce the inflammation in my body. Along with every other benefit mentioned above. I suppose if you view food as your medicine, then you could possibly keep yourself free of disease and illness. There is only one way to find out. What will you feed your body today?

French Green Lentil Soup

Ingredients List:

4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large organic onion (yellow or white)
1 head of organic garlic
3 cps of organic French green lentils
4 large tomatoes cubed or 1-28oz can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes
6 cups of water
1 Tbsp of Mtn Rose rosemary and oregano

Pre-sort the lentils in a large bowl, making sure to remove rocks and other debris from the lentils. Add enough water to submerge the lentils. Use your hands to stir the lentils. Drain the water and repeat two more times to ensure all dirt has been removed. Submerge the lentils in water and soak for a minimum of two hours.

Slice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the olive oil to a large pot, and heat on medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes, or till the onions are translucent in color. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 3 minutes more.

Fresh Lentils
Bowl of fresh, homemade lentil soup

Add the lentils and tomatoes followed by 6 cups of water. If a thinner consistency is preferred, add 3 more cups of water. Add the rosemary, oregano and salt as desired.

Stir and let simmer for 30-40 minutes. Periodically give it a stir.

Enjoy!



 
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