Sup on Soup

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 12:04 Written by Flax Tuesday, 25 October 2011 11:35

Personally, after a month of holidays, I feel the need to lighten up the meals and drop off some of that extra weight.  One statistic claims that the average Israeli manages to gain 2.5 kilo (5 lbs.) over the month of Tishrei!  Perhaps what we really mean by mar-Chesvan is diet-Cheshvan.   Ironically enough, some of the best foods to assist in weight loss are bitter foods, examples of which include, radish and celery.  While eating a radish a day is beneficial for anyone trying to lose weight,  one of the best ways to feel full while shedding some weight is with a hearty vegetable soup.  Soup is a water based food that is extremely filling while also being low in calories.  To turn a vegetable soup into a full meal I add whole grains to the soup as a thickener while simultaneously adding nutritional value.  I also tend to puree my soups so that the individual ingredients become unidentifiable.  This trick is especially helpful with picky eaters who are afraid of new foods.

This recipe below is a healthier version of a Russian Spinach Soup. While the real Russian would use potatoes, I try to avoid that.  Potatoes happen to be one of the most fattening foods around, not a good choice for anyone wanting to lose weight.  Instead of using a potato, I use both millet and quinoa.  The grains thicken the soup in the same manner as a potato would, but they are a whole lot healthier.  While really any grain can be used here, I chose to use quinoa, for its nutritional value and millet as a wonderful way to balance the spinach.

Quinoa, considered only a few years ago to be exotic, is now a popular food.  The rise in popularity of quinoa  is due to its wonderful nutritional value.  Quinoa has the highest protein content of any grain, has more calcium than milk and is a very good source of iron, phosphorous, and vitamins B and E.  Millet on the other hand, might be one of the least used grains.

Millet is also high in protein and it has a rich silicon content.  Millet is a great food to eat while pregnant and it is helpful in preventing miscarriage. Millet is also used in  treating candida, this is due to its anti-fungal properties. Millet is  the most drying of the grains and is beneficial to a state of excess.  Eating millet during the month of  Cheshvan will help us to lose weight by restoring our normal balance after a month of feasting.  Combining spinach and millet is a very good practice.  While millet is very drying, spinach is very slippery.  The two foods harmonize each other both in flavor and by nature.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 bunches spinach, washed well
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 5 sprigs dill
  • 2 liters water
  • 2 cups oat milk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Saute the onion until they soften. Add the carrots and celery and continue to saute for five minutes more. Add the water and the oat milk and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on a low flame for one hour.  Remove from the flame and puree.

Serve hot.  Serves 6

Note: Adding a little bit of hiziki (seaweed) to your bowl of soup will add nutritional value as well as promote weight loss.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine and nutritional counseling.  She also teaches healthy cooking.

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Nutrition Workshop #3 The Spleen

Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 June 2011 02:30 Written by Flax Wednesday, 1 June 2011 02:30

Spleen/Pancreas (לבלב)

The spleen/pancreas in Chinese Medical theory is the organ that is most responsible for the digestion and distribution of food and nutrients. Someone with a healthy spleen will have a healthy digestive system.  These people are hard-working, practical and responsible.  Those with a weak spleen are characterized by chronic fatigue, both physical and mental stagnation, weak digestion, hard lumps in the abdomen, and loose stools.

One of the common features found in people with weak spleens is excess dampness. Excess dampness is a Chinese Medical term that refers to a condition with excess mucus and/or excess weight.   Overconsumption of meat and dairy cause the thickest and stickiest mucus buildup.  The commonly eaten foods, wheat and sugar are also major contributors to mucus buildup.  Other likely contributors to excess mucus buildup are; processed and refined foods, toxins found in “food” and water, meals which include too many food combinations, late night eating, and overeating.

Foods that help to heal the spleen are:

  •  all orange vegetables (especially the sweet potato)
  •  whole grains (especially rye, amaranth, and quinoa)
  •  bitter vegetables and herbs (including romaine, celery, alfalfa, turnip, and chamomile) 
  • Cooked vegetables are healthier for the spleen but raw vegetables can be eaten during the hotter summer months.

Healing the spleen means improving the digestive system and as a side-effect, losing excess weight.  A healthy spleen means that you won’t need to fight unhealthy cravings for sugary foods and snacks.  This is because you won’t be craving them.  Sounds simple, well it actually is.  One of the methods I use during the summer months to help this process is the Celery Smoothie.  Eat a celery smoothie every day for 2 weeks and see  the results for yourself.

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Celery Smoothie

Last Updated on Monday, 20 June 2011 10:51 Written by Flax Wednesday, 1 June 2011 08:48

In order to achieve optimal weight, a diet should be based around vegetables.  Unfortunately, most of us don’t eat nearly enough vegetables.  A great way to rectify this imbalance is to begin with a celery smoothie.   There are two steps in correcting a diet.   Increasing consumption of healthy foods while also decreasing consumption of un-healthy foods.  The celery  smoothie is ideal for this two pronged task.   Celery is the ideal diet food.  It helps to dry up dampness (phlegm/fat) caused by excess sugar consumption and it also helps us to curb our sugar cravings.  This  makes it easier to begin on our path towards healthier eating.

When I make a smoothie, I add a variety of other vegetables using a few different principles.  The  first thing that I am looking for is watery vegetables that will give it a more liquid texture.  Examples of these are cucumbers and sprouts.   The next thing I am looking for is a bit of sweetness, here I use a carrot.  After that I will add a bitter vegetable (like a radish) to help the celery clean out the dampness and toxins in the system.  On occasion, I will add a member of the onion family, I prefer scallions for their more gentle flavor.

The fact that it’s pureed helps for two reasons.  The smoothie is condensed and so a large amount of vegetables looks a lot smaller.  The second reason is because unfortunately, many of us have forgotten how to chew our food. (Each bite of food should be chewed between thirty to fifty times).   Starting a diet with a smoothie will help us to digest better, until we once again, relearn how to chew whole grains and firm vegetables.

I recommend making a batch of this in the morning, serve it on a bed of quinoa or brown rice and don’t eat anything else until it’s finished.  There should usually be enough for more than one meal.   Chances are, after finishing it all up,  you won’t be hungry for anything else.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head celery, leaves attached
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 package mung bean sprouts
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 radish
  • 1 scallion
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Atlantic grey sea salt

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor and serve on a bed of quinoa or brown rice.

Enjoy!

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