Easy Natural Food

Healthy everyday meal ideas

Trail Mix Oatmeal

Trail Mix OatmealThis is my favorite way to eat oatmeal at the moment. I had it again for breakfast this morning, and I thought that it’s about time I shared it here!

What I love about eating oatmeal this way is the variety in every spoonful – will I bite into crispy, crunchy almonds? Chewy cranberries or raisins? Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds?

I used to sometimes throw some raisins into my oatmeal, but oneday I was looking in the pantry and noticed that I had a whole bunch of bits and pieces on hand – some crispy almonds that needed using up, dried cranberries, roasted pumpkin seeds and some dried papaya. Feeling like it was going to taste really good, I sprinkled on a little bit of everything and mixed it all in.

Wow, scrummylicious! I was hooked, and I’ve been eating my oatmeal this way ever since. The raisins, cranberries and particularly the papaya give it enough sweetness that I don’t need to add any other sweetener to my oatmeal.

Trail mix is one of those “anything goes” type of things. Add whatever combo of nuts, seeds and dried fruit that you like, and you really can’t go wrong. I like to keep a jar of my favorite trail mix so that I can sprinkle it on rather than chopping/mixing the trail mix ingredients each time. Quick and easy rocks first thing in the morning!

Trail Mix Oatmeal

1/3 cup rolled oats (per serving)

Selection of nuts/seeds/dried fruit:
Dried cranberries
Dried papaya
Dried apricots
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Shredded coconut

Mix and match with:
Coconut milk
Raw cream

1. Soak oats overnight in warm water (optional but I prefer to do this)
2. Cook oats, adding a pinch of salt and a knob of butter. (no need to drain the soaking water, just pour off any excess)
3. Mix in your trail mix.
4. Add yogurt and/or coconut milk or raw cream.

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free WednesdaysHealthy 2day Wednesdays, The Homeacre HopFull Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Foodie Friday, Inspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop, Natural Living Monday, Meatless Mondays, Fat TuesdaysTraditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop

Carrot and Cilantro Salad

Carrot & Cilantro SaladI have a great mother-in-law. A truly wonderful mother-in-law. Do you know why? Well apart from being a truly awesome person, she bought me a subscription to Cuisine Magazine last Christmas! Cuisine is New Zealand’s premier food and wine magazine with amazing recipes, gorgeous photography and interesting articles about local artisan producers, the restaurant scene, and food and travel.

I have been eagerly awaiting each new issue, reading it cover to cover and bookmarking recipes that I want to try. I have a long list, so look out for Cuisine Magazine-inspired recipes popping up on Easy Natural Food from time to time.

To kick things off, I made this Carrot and Cilantro Salad from the March 2013 issue of Cuisine. The original recipe is called Carrot and Coriander Salad, because in New Zealand we call cilantro “coriander” (just the same as we call sweet peppers “capsicums”!).

I made a few modifications to the recipe. I grated the carrot instead of peeling it into ribbons (so perhaps mine is more of a slaw than a salad) and I found I only need half the quantity of dressing.

My husband and I both love this salad. It is quick and easy to throw together, but looks and tastes great! A perfect side dish for a BBQ or any summer meal.

Carrot and Cilantro Salad

3 medium carrots, peeled and grated
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves (chopped semi-fine)
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 ½ tablespoons honey (liquid honey works better)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Add the grated carrot, chopped cilantro and red onion into a bowl.
2. In a small jar or bowl, whisk together the honey, lemon juice and olive oil.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss to combine.

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Wildcrafting WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays, Tasty TraditionsThank Your Body Thursday, Alive & Thrive ThursdayFoodie Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Sunday SchoolInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop, Natural Living MondayFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent TuesdayHearth and Soul Hop

Filipino Chicken Curry

Filipino Chicken Curry

I love recipes that are simple yet tasty. I mean seriously, why cook anything else? 🙂 Well this recipe is both those things, and we love it!

We love experimenting with different cuisines, and one day I stumbled across a recipe for a Filipino-style chicken curry. It is basically chicken simmered in coconut milk with curry powder and fish sauce, potato, peppers and sometimes celery. Simple, right?! I love the coconut milk/curry powder combination because of how the sweetness and mellowness of the coconut milk helps to counteract the spiciness of the curry powder.

I based my recipe on the recipes found herehere and here. but with a few variations. Instead of potato, I decided to use sweet potato (which works even better, I think!). I also decided not to use celery, and I used a little less curry powder than what most recipes call for (because I can’t handle the heat!). I also added some chicken stock for additional nutritional, but you could leave it out if you don’t have it. Finally, it would be more traditional to use chicken pieces with the bone and skin, but I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs simply because it makes it easier to eat 🙂

Filipino Chicken Curry

2 tablespoons oil (I like to use a mix of ghee/coconut oil)
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 – 2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs (cut each thigh into 3-4 pieces)
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
¾ cup chicken stock
1 medium sweet potato, diced into ½ inch cubes
1 red pepper, sliced
Pepper – couple shakes

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté for a couple minutes.
2. Add the chicken pieces and cook for a couple minutes until they lose their pinkness.
3. Stir in the curry powder, fish sauce and a dash of black pepper.
4. Add the coconut milk, chicken stock and sweet potato.
5. Simmer gently (lid off) for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is tender and the sweet potato is cooked.
6. Add the red pepper with about 15 minutes to go.
7. Serve – goes great with rice!

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays, HomeAcre Hop, Foodie Friday, Gluten Free FridaysSunday SchoolInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop


Cashew Raisin Cookies

Cashew Raisin Cookies gluten freeHmmm, cookies! Well I don’t actually eat cookies that often, but when I do, I like them to be as healthy as possible. That’s why I love my Cashew Raisin cookies! They are gluten free, grain free and only use natural sweeteners – honey and raisins.

The texture of these cookies is slightly soft and chewy. Because of this it is hard to tell they’re made of nuts. If you didn’t know, you might just think it was flour.

I like to use roasted unsalted cashews for these cookies. I think the roasting gives a richer flavor. If you can only find salted cashews then I’d probably skip the 1/4 teaspoon of salt in the recipe below since your cashews are adding the salt to the recipe.

Cashew Raisin Cookies

2 cups roasted unsalted cashews
1/2 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour
Scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup raisins
4 tablespoons honey (liquid honey is easier to work with)
1/4 cup oil (I like to use a 50:50 mix butter and coconut oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Gently melt the butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat.
2. Blend the cashews into a flour/meal consistency using a food processor.
3. Combine cashew flour, tapioca/arrowroot, salt and raisins in a large bowl.
4. Mix in the honey, oil, vanilla and egg. Mix it well. The dough will be quite sticky and gooey.
5. Form the mixture into 1 inch (approx.) balls of dough and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Flatten each ball into the shape of a biscuit (either use the palm of your hand or a fork dipped in flour).
7. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies just start turning brown around the edges. Cool and serve.

Makes approximately 20 cookies.

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Full Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays, Foodie FridaySunday SchoolInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own MondaysHomestead Barnhop, Meatless MondaysFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul HopGluten Free Fridays

Cherry Vanilla Yogurt

Cherry Vanilla YogurtI love plain yogurt on it’s own, or with some chopped fruit added. I typically don’t add any sweetener, I just like to enjoy it as is. My daughter will eat plain unsweetened yogurt quite happily too. But just for fun I decided to try making a “special treat” yogurt with real cherries, vanilla, and sweetened with a little honey.

This really is a special treat because it is pretty decadent, but perfect for dessert or a yummy snack 🙂

The difference between this recipe and the store-bought fruity yogurts (even the organic brands) is that the fruit is real and fresh, there is NO refined sugar, and there are only 4 ingredients.

I started with a store-bought plain yogurt that contains active/live bacteria (some store-bought brands may be pasteurized after the yogurt has been cultured, which kills off the beneficial bacteria). A nice thick homemade yogurt would be even better if you make your own yogurt.

Cherry Vanilla Yogurt

8oz (1 cup) plain yogurt
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons liquid honey (preferably raw) or maple syrup*
8 ripe cherries

1. Pour yogurt into a bowl and mix in the vanilla extract and honey until there are no streaky remnants of vanilla or honey.
2. Cut each cherry in half and remove the pit. Cut each half into quarters and add to the yogurt.
3. Stir in the cherries and watch your yogurt take on a pretty light pink hue!

*Amount of honey used will vary depending on personal taste and the tartness of your yogurt.

Linking to: Full Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Foodie FridayInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead BarnhopFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul HopReal Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Wildcrafting Wednesdays

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Beef Noodle SaladThis is a simple take on a Vietnamese beef noodle salad. I make this quite often because it’s  easy to make and doesn’t take much time, and we love the flavors!

I’ve simplified it by using ground beef instead of steak, which means I don’t need to worry about marinating the meat. I’m also using an oil-based salad dressing instead of the more typical Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham), but I’m sticking with the same tangy/sweet/salty/zesty flavors in the dressing.

Because many of the same ingredients are used in multiple places in this dish, save time by chopping everything at once, then setting aside the unused portion for later. For example, garlic, ginger and lime juice are used both in cooking the meat and in the dressing, so chop/juice enough for both at the same time. Cilantro is used in the meat, the salad dressing and as a salad topping, so chop enough cilantro for all three parts at the same time.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad

1 tablespoon oil (butter/ghee/coconut oil)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
1 tablespoons fish sauce
½ teaspoons Sucanat/coconut palm sugar
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Thin rice noodles (cooked according to packet directions)
Lettuce, chopped/shredded

Dressing (makes 4 servings):
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
1 tablespoon Sucanat/coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
Red chili flakes

Salad topping suggestions:
Bean sprouts
Chopped peanuts
Grated carrot
Chopped cilantro
Fresh mint leaves, torn

1. Heat oil in a pot.
2. Add the sliced shallot and sauté for a minute or two.
3. Add the ground beef and lightly brown, breaking up the chunks.
4. Add the garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and Sucanat/coconut palm sugar.
5. Simmer on low for 10 minutes or so, until the meat is cooked through.
6. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

7. While the meat is cooking, mix up the salad dressing and prep the salad toppings – grate the carrot, chop up the scallions etc, and lay the toppings out on a plate so that each person can help themselves and dress their own salad.

To assemble the salad:
1. Place a serving of rice noodles in each bowl
2. Place lettuce on top of the noodles.
3. Spoon ground beef mixture over the bed of lettuce in each bowl.
4. Add salad toppings according to personal preference.
5. Pour over the dressing.

Linking to: Full Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie FridayInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own MondaysFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays

Back from New Zealand!

I have spent the last week or so, since we got back from New Zealand, getting over my jet lag and just generally catching up on everything. Lots of unpacking, many loads of laundry, and trips to the various supermarkets, farmers markets and farm stores that I shop at to stock up on food. Then, of course, getting back into the rhythm of preparing and cooking food, meal planning etc. which you gladly let go of when on vacation 🙂

We had such an awesome time in New Zealand! We caught the tail end of the New Zealand summer weather, so overall it was warm and sunny apart from some rainy afternoons.

My mum lives in Auckland, which is in the North Island of New Zealand. The part of Auckland where mum lives is known as the East Coast Bays. It is a truly breathtaking stretch of coastline punctuated by calm bays with beautiful sandy white beaches. The beach down the road from my Mum’s house is called Rothesay Bay (see picture above) and is an easy walk. As you can imagine, Larissa, my 3yo daughter was in heaven!

All she wanted to do was to go to the beach and swim, and so we did, most days.

Although the water had cooled sufficiently from the height of summer for most locals to declare the ocean too cold for swimming anymore, we had come from Northern Hemisphere winter and the water felt fabulous to us!

The beaches have wonderful rock pools to explore…

And great big scary caves too!

As well as swimming, I tried to go for as many walks as possible. At low tide, you can walk from one bay to another around the rocks. If the tide is too high, you can walk over the cliff top walkways that link one bay to the next. These walkways are very scenic with great views.

Jacob, our 6mo, also really enjoyed our trip. He is a very sociable baby and loved being around so many people. So much so that he decided that he hardly wanted to nap, in case he missed out on any of the action!

In addition to spending time at the beach, we enjoyed catching up with friends and hanging out with family. It is hard living overseas and only seeing your family once a year or so. I especially regret that Larissa and Jacob don’t get to spend more time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. But we really like where we live in Northern California too, and so we are lucky to be able to live in one beautiful place and vacation in another.

On the food front, it was feijoa season while we were in New Zealand. YES!!! I think feijoas might just be my all-time favorite fruit. Big call I know….but I simply adore feijoas, and I have my daughter hooked now too. For our first 6 years in America we lived in New Jersey and I don’t think I ate a single feijoa in all of those years (feijoas are extremely seasonal and our trips back home never coincided). Then four years ago we moved to Northern California, where the climate is more similar to New Zealand. It happened to be Fall, and I saw some feijoas at a local fruit stand. They were called “pineapple guavas”, but it didn’t really matter what they were called, I was in fejoa heaven once again! Now we have planted our own feijoa trees and I can’t wait for the first harvest.

I also spread vegemite on anything that moved. Although vegemite is actually an Australian product, it is equally common and popular in New Zealand. It’s an acquired taste, but I have definitely acquired it 🙂 I also brought a couple jars home with me.

One very special food unique to New Zealand are the New Zealand green-lipped mussels. They are my favorite seafood. Love them, adore them, ate lots of them! In fact these mussels are now being recognized as a super food that can help with arthritis pain due to anti-inflammatory compounds, and support gut health (a topic near and dear to me!) The mussels are freeze-dried into a powder and sold in capsule form.

My final memorable food indulgence was roast lamb which my mum cooked for me. Lamb has always been my favorite roast, and no one cooks it quite like my mum does. With mint sauce, gravy and all of the trimmings, I was a very happy little camper, and went back for seconds…or it might have been thirds! 🙂

Linking to: Fat TuesdayReal Food Wednesdays

Lamb Curry

Lamb CurryI’m feeling bad that my last post was nearly a month ago….bad, very on bad on my part 🙁 March has been a busy month for us. We have been working a lot in our garden and have been making plans for some much-needed interior renovations. Also, this Friday we are flying to New Zealand for 3 weeks! Hooray, it’s been 2 years since my last visit home, and I can’t wait to see all of my family and friends again. Not to mention the chance to indulge in some of my favorite foods! Well….within reason that is, since my favorite sugary treats are off limits to me. However I cannot wait to eat New Zealand mussels and other seafood, my favorite fruit (feijoas) and lots of lamb’s fry (lamb’s liver). And perhaps some meat pies and sausage rolls while I’m there 🙂

Before I go, I will leave you with my current favorite dinner – lamb curry. Doesn’t sound too exciting I know, but it tastes unbelievably good! So easy to make, too. I have recently come to the conclusion that lamb, more than any other meat, is made for curry, and that curry, more than any other flavor of spice, is made for lamb.

For this dish, I love the tougher cuts of lamb such as lamb shoulder blade chops or lamb shoulder arm chops. These cuts are affordable, and when slow-cooked, yield the most amazingly flavorful, moist and tender meat. I’ve made this recipe both stove top and in the slow cooker, although I generally prefer to make it on the stove. If you choose to use your slow cooker, use less liquid, cook it on low for 8 hours, and don’t add the raisins until the last hour otherwise they become mushy and tasteless.

Curried Lamb

1 tablespoon oil (butter/ghee/coconut oil)
1 ½ – 2 pounds lamb meat on the bone (lamb shoulder blade or arm chops)
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
2 medium carrots, sliced
Potatoes, diced (optional)
2 cups stock
1/3 – 1/2 cup raisins

1. Heat oil in a large pot.
2. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes or so.
3. Add lamb chops (no need to cut up) and brown on both sides.
4. Add the salt and curry powder and mix it in with the meat.
5. Add the stock, carrots and optional potato.
6. Bring to a simmer, then cover (leaving open a crack).
7. Cook at a low simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours, stirring and turning the meat periodically.
8. Add the raisins with about 30-40 minutes to go.
9. It is ready when the lamb starts to fall apart when you stir it. My family prefers me to pull the meat off the bone before serving it (fussy!) but I personally like it served bone and all so that I can suck all of the juicy goodness off the bone as I’m eating it. Your preference!

Linking to: Inspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead BarnhopFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul HopReal Food Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie Friday

Mashed Veggies

Mashed VeggiesI could have given this a fancier, more appealing name, such as Root Vegetable Mash, or Rutabaga, Carrot and Parsnip Puree. But mashed veggies was what my mum called them, and mashed veggies was one of my favorite comfort foods as a kid (and still is might add). So mashed veggies it is!

There’s not much of a recipe to this one, because it is so flexible and almost anything goes. But I’ll give you my “usual” recipe along with a few ideas for variations.

What I love about mashed veggies:

  • Healthy and tasty carb option – a great alternative to mashed potatoes or rice, especially if you’re looking for a carb that will “soak up the sauce”.
  • Lower carb options – potatoes are very high in carbohydrates, but root vegetables such as rutabagas, turnips, and also winter squash such as butternut squash have fewer carbs than potatoes ore sweet potatoes.
  • GAPS diet-friendly – choose GAPS-friendly vegetables such as carrots and winter squash for a hearty and satisfying side dish.
  • A complete veggie side dish all in one – starch/carbs AND green vegetable. I always include a green vegetable, such as broccoli or any of the leafy greens, in my mash too.
  • Flexible – so many different combinations of veggies work in this dish, which is great because it means you can use up whatever you have on hand in the fridge.
  • Freezes well – I usually make more than I need for one meal and freeze extra portions for later.
  • Tasty 🙂

My go-to combo is carrot, rutabaga and parsnip with either broccoli or chard. But I’ve made so many different combos depending on what I have on hand at the time.

Mashed Veggies

Select 2-3 different root veggies eg. carrot, rutabaga, parsnip, turnip, celery root, potato, sweet potato, and/or winter squash (butternut squash works great).

Select your green veggie eg. broccoli or any of the leafy greens. Sometimes I will add cauliflower instead of broccoli. I estimate that I use about 1-1.5 cups of either chopped broccoli or chopped greens.

1 Tbsp. fat/oil of your choice – butter/coconut oil/ghee/olive oil/lard. Use more or less fat depending on the quantity of vegetables that you’re mashing.

Seasonings – salt and pepper to taste

My typical mash recipe is……. (makes about 3 servings):
2 large carrots (butternut squash in place of carrot is also really good)
1 medium/large rutabaga
1 medium/large parsnip
Either 1-1.5 cups chopped broccoli, or an equivalent amount of chopped greens (uncooked, which reduces to maybe 1/2 cup after cooking)

1. Peel all root vegetables and cut into even-size chunks, preferably no more than 1/2 inch in size (makes for faster cooking).

2. Boil or steam your root vegetables until they are soft when pierced by a sharp knife. I prefer to steam them because I find that boiling them can leave them a bit watery/mushy, whereas steaming gives a better flavor.

3. While root vegetables are cooking, rinse and chop up your green veg. If I’m using broccoli I will throw it into the steamer with the other root vegetables when I estimate there is about 10-15 minutes to go before the root vegetables are done. But if I’m using leafy greens such as spinach, chard or beet greens, then I cook the greens by boiling them, then I discard the cooking water, to minimize the amount of oxalic acid in my food.

4. Once the vegetables are cooked, get your seasonings and fat/oil ready, because you want to mash everything together as quick as possible while it’s still hot. Drain away any cooking water and add all vegetables into the cooking pot. Add the fat/oil, salt and pepper and mash everything together really well! I mash by hand using a potato masher, but alternatively you could use a blender to puree it. Taste and adjust seasonings as you go.

Note: for vegetables like carrot, rutabaga, parsnip etc. I never need to add any liquid to get the right consistency for the mash. But if you’re using potato or sweet potato which is starchier and drier then you may need to add a little milk or broth to get the right consistency and make it easier to mash.

5. Serve immediately (with added butter melting on top is really yummy!), or allow it to cool and refrigerate/freeze for later.

Mashed Veggies Beet Greens

Mashed veggies with beet greens

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie FridayInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead BarnhopFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop

Greens Soup

Kale Soup Swiss Chard SoupEating your greens is a very healthy thing to do, right? But me personally, I’ve never much been into greens 🙁 The urge for a green salad almost never hits me, and cooked greens can leave a strange “chalky” feeling in my mouth, which makes eating cooked greens unpleasant for me.

I decided to research this a little and found out that the chalky feeling is due to oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an organic compound that naturally occurs in many dark leafy greens such as swiss chard, spinach, beet greens etc. When ingested, oxalic acid binds to minerals, particularly calcium and iron, and reduces the absorption of these minerals in your digestive track. Oxalic acid is also a big contributor to kidney stones.

Cooking your greens helps to break down and release the oxalic acid, and the longer you cook them for the more oxalic acid that is released. If you cook your greens in water, such as boiling them, then the oxalic acid is released into the water. Throw out the cooking water and you therefore minimize the amount of oxalic acid that you consume. However if you saute the greens, you are cooking them which causes the oxalic acid to be released, but the oxalic acid remains on the greens so you are ingesting it.

I remember when I was a kid I actually quite liked swiss chard (although I pretended not to!) and so I was puzzled why I wasn’t enjoying it when I cooked it myself. Well, mystery solved! My mum boiled the swiss chard, whereas I always sauteed it! Tada!

But back to eating more greens….I bought a lovely bunch of beets not so long ago and I went to chop off and throw out the beet greens (as I always do) when for some reason I couldn’t bear to throw them away this time. On a whim I decided to try using the greens to make a soup. I had a celery root (celeriac) in the fridge that I had also been meaning to turn into soup, so I decided to add onion, garlic and a few cups of homemade stock, and make soup. With my newly acquired information on oxalic acid, I decided to chop up and boil the beet greens first, drain them, and then add them to the soup. Although there is some mineral loss through boiling the greens, it is better to lose that pesky oxalic acid.

The result……one of the tastiest ways to eat my greens, ever! I love this soup and have made it several times now. I have tried a variety of different greens – beet greens, swiss chard, kale, mustard spinach and even stinging nettle! The type of greens that you use doesn’t really change the flavor much, but I mix it up for the nutritional variety and depending on what I have on hand. Each time I’ve made this soup I’ve used celery root because I love the substance and flavor that it gives to the soup, but I keep meaning to try other root vegetables such parsnip or rutabaga.

I love to eat this soup for breakfast – it’s warming, hearty, nutritious and easy to digest. It’s become my favorite way to eat my greens. No longer do I buy a bunch of greens with good intentions only to have them sit in the fridge and wilt as I remain uninspired. Now I buy bunches of greens specifically to make this soup! If you have a veggie garden and have more greens than you can manage, make this soup!

Greens Soup

2 large bunches of greens* (chard, kale, beet greens etc.)
2 celery roots (approx. ¾ – 1 lb each)
2 tablespoons oil (butter/ghee/coconut oil)
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 celery ribs, sliced
4-6 cups stock (depending upon cooking time and desired thickness of soup)
½ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
Dash of black pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Use a large, sharp knife to cut off the outer layer of the celery roots to reveal the creamy flesh underneath. Chop the celery roots into chunks about 1/2 inch in size.
2. Heat oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or so.
3. Add the celery root and celery, sauté for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the stock, bring to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until celery root is soft (about 20-25 minutes)
5. Meanwhile, rinse and chop each bunch of greens, removing the tough stalks from each leaf.
6. Add all greens into a large pot, cover with water and boil for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
7. Once the celery root is cooked, add the cooked greens and the (raw) parsley into the soup pot, along with the salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
8. Allow the soup the cool a little then blend to puree it – either in a blender or by using a hand blender in the pot. Add lemon juice and adjust salt to taste. Serve with a splash of yogurt, kefir or chevre!

*Your two bunches of greens don’t have to be the same type…..I usually use two different  types, such as beet greens and kale, or kale and chard etc

This recipe was inspired by Green Soup by Traditional Foods.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent TuesdayHearth and Soul HopReal Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie FridayInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop

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