Should You Buy Detox Supplements?

It’s the New Year and the buzz word so far has been “detox” – everywhere I turn, I hear or read about it. Co-workers ask me about the best detox supplement, tea, drink, pre-made meal program and my answer often comes as a shock to them: Save your money. 

That’s right. 

Save your money. 

Or at the very least, re-appropriate your money. 

While this in vogue buzz word might make you want to rush to your local GNC to pick out the latest and greatest supplements to help you become the “new you,” this isn’t what overall healing and betterment is about. Our bodies need whole, real foods that are properly prepared and nutrient dense. We need foods that are in season and picked at the peak of ripeness. When our bodies have these nutrients, they do what they ought to do in the first place – they run as well-oiled and fine-tuned machines and they detox themselves. (Starting on a detox regimen before the body has healed or is able to reopen what is called “detox pathways” can be detrimental to overall health and small intestine healing must take place before an actual detox protocol can be started and even then, it should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional such as a Nutritional Therapist or ND.)

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When we eat healthy fats, grass-fed/pasture-raised meats, organic fruits and veggies and rid our bodies of all of the excess crud that marketers entice us into, it’s going to clean itself out. A popular myth is that the body is imperfect and disease-prone and illness is a fact of life and that invasive, costly and starvation-type detoxification regimens are necessary. Ummm… wrong. Our bodies want to be healthy and strive for homeostasis. Eating foods that allow it to maintain balance is enough to let it relax from whatever trauma we’ve caused it and heal.  

Sometimes we need to meet one-on-one with a Nutritional Therapist to help us navigate a paradigm shift in thinking about our food, what we put in our body and how that affects our overall health. Sometimes we need a strict program such a Whole30 to challenge us to eat better and kick the crud to the curb. Other times, that’s still not enough and we need to give our bodies a helping hand and enroll in a program like RESTART Sugar Detox. RESTART is a wonderful 5-week program that helps set a change in lifestyle regarding sugar consumption through weekly “check in” meetings with other people seeking to kick their sugar habit to the curb, a built-in 21 day sugar detox and support for long-term goal setting and practical how to’s. 

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Whatever you choose to do this New Year, save your money with the cheap supplements and eat clean. Buy meats from a local farmer. Know where your food comes from. Eat organic and local fruits and veggies. Limit your sugar consumption. Make that your New Year’s Resolution. Besides, you really don’t know what you’re getting in those consumer-ready supplements found at your local supermarket or popular supplement shop.

Bolognese (aka Meat Sauce)

When you’re marrying an Italian man (who has more Irish than Italian but who am I to question his ethnic claim?), there’s a few things you need to quickly add to your repertoire. The first being a tasty marinara. The second being a bolognese. The third is the caveat that both must taste authentic and the way his Italian grandmother makes them.

Just breathe.

No pressure.

It’s only his childhood memories that I’m up against.

Thankfully, he was willing to share a few of their secrets to help me improve what I thought was already a pretty good sauce. The below is what he and I have since concocted and perfected. I serve it over my Brussels Sprouts Braised with Mustard because when you’re paleo, you discover that traditional foods don’t necessarily have to be eaten traditionally. This also tastes fantastic with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and spaghetti squash. And when we really feel like splurging, over paleo noodles. Because sometimes you just want a noodle.

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Cinnamon might not be a common ingredient by American standards, but adding it gives the sauce a sweet flavor and doesn’t add to the sugar content. Growing up, we would use brown sugar to cut the acid and give the sauce sweeter undertones. The cinnamon does the same, all the while keeping it sugar-detox approved. Also, for the tomatoes, I process mine in the summer and freeze them at the peak of ripeness. And by process, I mean I throw mine in the Ninja for a few seconds and that’s it! Into the freezer they go! Until I decide that I’m craving a slow-cooked Bolognese. If you don’t have frozen tomatoes, fresh work, too – just make sure you adjust your cooking time and add an hour or two. Or, you can use two cans of 28-oz BPA-free organic diced tomato such as the Muir Glenn brand. (Which thankfully WinCo carries and is super cheap for all of you Pacific Northwesterners.)

Enjoy!

Bolognese

  • 1 lb pasture-raised organic ground pork
  • 3 tsp Mild Italian Sausage Seasoning 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts fresh organic diced tomatoes, with their juice – use a medley of Romas and juicier tomatoes
  • ¼ cup organic non-BPA lined tomato paste
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine spice mix and ground pork (or just use 1 lb pork sausage if you can find a good source with no added sugar). Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a medium-sized dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the pork until slightly browned, stirring often and breaking up the larger pieces. Remove pork from dutch oven and set aside, keeping the fat at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the onion and ghee to the sausage fat and continue to cook until translucent. Add garlic and saute until lightly golden and very aromatic.
  4. Dump in the tomatoes, juices and all, and the tomato paste. Add the spices and stir. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and put a lid slightly on. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 hours. After two hours, add the meat and continue simmering. 
  6. Serve warm! And just like most Italian recipes, this makes enough to feed the whole Roman army!

Napa Cabbage Soup

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a recipe. I sprained my ankle right before Christmas and was down for the count. I’m finally getting around enough that cooking, carrying plated food over to the window where I take my photos and balancing a camera… and maintaining balance myself, aren’t daunting tasks. Not to mention that the natural lighting has been working against me. It’s been exceptionally dark and dreary these past few weeks – even for Oregon. We’ve been socked in fog “‘thicker than frozen snot on a door knob,” according to Portland’s National Weather Service Office. So much so that my dad, who’s an umpteenth generation Oregonian, commented on how miserable it is.

Today’s soup is perfect for the dead of winter. I have fond memories of playing at a friend of our family’s farm out of Troutdale, OR. They lived in a house up on a bluff above the Sandy River and running around exploring and tormenting the older brother was heaven (it was two girls against one boy – poor kid!). They were (and still are) basil farmers and their house always smelled of the delicious, rich smell of fresh basil. So many fond memories in that house up on the bluff. My family was so taken with this simple soup that my mother had to ask for the recipe and it’s been a staple ever since in our family. I’ve made a few modifications to it over the years but for the most part, it remains the same. The best way to describe this soup is simple Italian peasant food. It’s nothing remarkable when you look at the ingredients but the flavors meld themselves together in such a harmonious blend… it’s impossible to not over-indulge and have one too many bowls.

It’s the kind of soup that will pump the lifeblood back into your bones on a cold winter’s day (or a day with dense fog) and won’t leave you overly full…. and only takes 30 minutes to cook! (Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray!)

But before the recipe, a few notes: You really want to use napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage) with this soup. It’s far more delicate than your typical “green cabbage” and cooks down nicely. You retain much of the crunch and texture of the cabbage but it’s not your “normal” thick pieces. Napa cabbage can easily be found at a farmer’s market or a natural foods store – if you aren’t sure which is napa, just ask!

 

Napa Cabbage Soup

  • 1 head organic napa, shredded
  • 5 pieces organic, nitrate-free, pastured bacon, sliced (can also use half a pound of a clean pancetta – this gives it an even more delicate Italian flavor)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can organic diced tomatoes, BPA-free lining
  • 7 cups meat stock
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 12-month aged, raw Parmesan for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium-large stock pot, over medium heat, cook bacon (or pancetta) until done. Remove bacon from pan, leaving fat at the bottom. Cut up cabbage while bacon is cooking.
  2. Add garlic and saute in the bacon fat until golden, stirring often.
  3. Add tomatoes and juice from can and shredded cabbage. Stir.
  4. Add filtered water and meat stock and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked.
  5. Add bacon back to soup and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with shredded Parmesan (optional) and an extra dollop of fat (such as coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, or more bacon fat) (optional).
A quick and easy GAPS, RESTART Program, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, and, most importantly, DELICIOUS soup that only takes 30 minutes to make!

Red Cabbage Braised with Broth and Mead

There’s a theme to my posts recently – braising. It’s not purposeful, it’s just late autumn and nomming on braised veggies sounds divine. Mention fresh veggies to me and my stomach acts like it’s on a Six Flags roller coaster. No thank you. I’ll stick with my slow-cooked veggies. In this case, slow-cooked cabbage. I think I’ve mentioned that I’m Irish/German American. Cabbage and all derivatives thereof were a staple in my family when growing up. This recipe was our favorite when my mother decided we were going to have “German Pub Night,” as she so aptly put it. We knew when we saw that on the menu planner on the fridge, it was going to be this cabbage, a whole lot of Eastern European sausages from the local Polish sausage maker (he had dead carcasses hanging in his shop, totally cool to a family full of kids), and some kind of potato dish. 

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Like all family favorites, I had to hack this one apart and reassemble with tender loving care. It’s one of those foods that we would eat for an after-school snack… which usually meant my mom was frustrated with her because there went any hopes of having leftovers for dinner. But, seriously. If you can get kids to want to eat this rather than fruit roll-ups (we never were allowed those, anyway), I’m sure you’re more than winning as a parent.

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A few notes and substitutions: If your body stand the mead, add more chicken broth. I usually use whatever I have made in my freezer – whether it be chicken or beef. Omitting will turn it Whole30, Anti-Inflammation Diet, 21 Day Sugar Detox, specific carb diet, and paleo-friendly. (Also omit the maple syrup for Sugar Detox and Whole30.) Stay away from fish stock. Look. I might be Irish, but I draw the line somewhere. No fish stock in the cabbage. Your kids won’t be sneaking that for an after-school snack. Guaranteed. 

Finally, this is one of my favorite recipes because I can put it on to cook and walk away for a while. As in go for a jog, take a long, hot bath and read a good book. Today it was just the jog – I had this post to edit. But it’s a good recipe if you’re a busy family and it can be cooked on high in a crock pot for about an hour and a half if you’re going to be gone for a while and are uncomfortable with leaving the stove on. It’s also fabulous when made ahead of time, the juices continue to marinate the cabbage into a flavor that’ll make your Irish ancestors jealous. 

Red Cabbage Braised in Chicken Broth and Mead 

  • 1 head organic red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 organic onions, chopped
  • 3 cups organic cranberries, rinsed and check for bad ones!
  • 1 organic Granny Smith apple (or some other tart, hard apple) peeled, cored,and sliced
  • 1 ¼ cup organic chicken stock 
  • ½ cup mead
  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup organic grade B maple syrup
  1. In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is tender, about 45-60 minutes. Or see crock pot directions above. 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

If you want to talk about a food that gets a bad name, these might be it. No one likes them, everybody hates them, guess I’ll go eat worms. Ummm… or not. Brussels sprouts are one of my most favorite foods. Why? They’re just so much fun to eat! Each one is a mini cabbage that I get to play with and peel. Because I’m 30 going on 5. And sometimes I play with my food. Sometimes I also understand the necessity to get other people to eat their greens. This recipe was born out of that need. According to my brother, who loathes, despises, abhors and detests Brussels sprouts, they did not taste like the delightfully adorable mini-cabbages and were actually quite good. (A huge compliment from a sarcastic 21 year-old!)

They have a touch of ground mustard to give them some subtle heat and a bit of a kick. Not to fear, it’s very subtle and enhances the flavors in the dish. The lemon juice provides a distinctive acidity that is delightfully mellow. I hope you enjoy them! I’ve been eating them alone, with other foods and as a noodle replacement for my marinara all week. So fantastic! 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

  • 2 tbsp organic ghee 
  • 1 ½ lbs organic Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed, julienne-cut
  • 1 small organic onion, diced
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • ½+ tsp ground mustard (the spice, not the condiment and heap that measuring spoon)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp organic lemon juice

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, melt the ghee and add the onions. Saute until translucent, add the garlic and saute a few minutes more.  
  2. Add Brussels sprouts and stir to mix. Add spices. Cook until sprouts are a bright green (not the gross dark green overcooked crud).
  3. Add lemon juice and stir. Turn off heat and serve warm. 

Two Meat Chili

So before I tell you what meat is in here, let me just preface this with a disclaimer: Organ meats are really really good for you! And beef heart is no exception. Especially when it’s organic and pasture-raised. (That preface didn’t last long.)

A few months ago, my local food buying club had a buy on a whole cow. There were various cuts and it was first come, first serve. Ironically, no one wanted the ox tail, the heart or the Rocky Mountain Oysters. Okay. I didn’t want the latter, either. But for $10, now was a good a time as any to buy a beef heart. So I did. And it sat in my freezer until I was tired of looking at it this past week.

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Beef heart gets a bad rap for being a “gamey” chunk of meat. (For those of you who are gagging over this, it’s a muscle. And it’s the hardest working muscle in the body and it needs gobs of nutrients to work, making it nutrient-dense and really good for you. So… Think of it that way.)

This chili wasn’t gamey at all. It’s rich, the spices compliment each other and the beef heart is the most tender piece of meat you may ever put in your mouth. I cut the pieces up into stew meat sized bites. To the untrained observer – aka your family, they’ll have no idea.

Preparing it is a bit of a trick, you want to cut away the connective tissue (it’s tough), the valves and tendons (no one wants to chew on something that much) and the fat (it’s a hard, grisly fat that doesn’t cook well). Then, just cut it up like I would stew meat. Voila! No one knew… Until I told them. (And I did because I like to see the look on their faces. I’m mean like that.)

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Two Meat Chili

  • 3 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 medium Organic Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 Organic Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Jicama, peeled and diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 lbs Ground Pasture-Raised Organic Pork
  • 1 Pasture-Raised Organic Beef Heart, trimmed and cut up like small pieces of stew meat
  • 1-28 oz can Organic BPA-free Crushed Tomatoes
  • ½ cup Filtered Water
  • 1 tbsp Chilli Powder
  • 2 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Organic Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp Cayenne
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt or salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  1. In a stock pot over medium heat with 1 tbsp coconut oil, brown beef and ground pork.
  2. In a separate skillet over medium heat, saute jicama in 2 tbsp coconut oil until slightly translucent.
  3. When beef is lightly browned, add onion, garlic and spices. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add jicama (after about 6-8 minutes) to the beef, pork and onion mixture. Stir to incorporate.
  5. Add tomatoes and water.
  6. Simmer until done, about 1 hour.
  7. Serve with your favorite raw milk aged cheddar or Crème fraîche.

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These are a few of my favorite… squash.

Don’t worry Rogers and Hammerstein, I’ll keep my day job. Here’s an overview of my favorite squash (the list will be growing) and how I like to prepare them. 

Turban Squash

Get out an ax or a cleaver and channel your Yan Can Cook! You think I’m being funny but this delightful squash is a beast to cut into. I joke with my roommates that this is the only season I can decorate with my food. Yes, mother. I’m playing with my food right now. Anyway, this beast of a squash is sitting over on my hearth until I hack (literally) into it. It’s related to a butternut squash and has a wonderfully hazelnutty flavor. 

I like to hack it into quarters, scoop the seeds, and roast it in coconut oil, 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until fork tender.

It also makes a good mashed squash. Prepare as you would above. Scrape the squash from the rind and put it in the blender with a bit of pasture-raised organic butter (such as Kerrygold) and raw cream or whole-fat coconut milk. Toss in a head or two of roasted garlic if you so desire (this means you have to make roasted garlic ahead of time). Puree and serve warm. 

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Cheer up, Buttercup!

Buttercup squash, related to the turban squash (see above) is also gracing my fireplace hearth until he gets consumed. 

I always use this as a go-to soup squash. Toss in a bit of turmeric for good measure and it’s a stick-to-your-ribs-on-a-cold-night kind of soup. That recipe will be posted shortly. 

Butternut Squash

Use in everything. Soup, casseroles, adore it, love it, eat it with wild abandon. It’s one of the most famous squashes and for good reason. The rich nutty flavor and smooth texture when cooked make it a cook’s favorite.

Delicata Squash

This delicate little squash really lives up to it’s name. A mild, delicate flavor accompanies the tender rind and meat. The rind is so tender, in fact, that it can be cooked and eaten. I like to cut mine in half, scrape out the seeds, put a little dollop of coconut oil in each half and roast it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until fork tender and serve it with eggs and sausage scramble in the middle for a little breakfast “boat”. Or, check out my Delicata Squash Saute with Apple and Leek. 

Back to studying! More squash will be listed soon – err, after finals!

Delicata Squash Saute with Apple and Leek

Okay. So I said that I wasn’t going to be posting anything on here until after finals… but when my friend who’s in charge of our local food-buying club asked me for some recipes for an upcoming organic squash buy, my mind started racing and I realized I didn’t have a whole lot on the blog by way of squash. Which is a crime against humanity. Because I love winter squash with a complete and total abandon. Dramatic? Yes. Accurate? Yes. 

I picked up the original recipe from my local New Seasons and modified the heck outta it. They had a sampling in store and it was so good! I was sad I only had a small little paper cup with less than a bite of food provided. Oh well. It only meant I had to go home and make it me-friendly… which was probably better in the long run anyway.

This dish would make a fantastic side dish and is kid-friendly. Talk about a win if you can get kids to eat squash without it ending up on the ceiling! … not that we ever did that to my parents. Ever. (We usually hid food under the table.) Anyway, cook up a pork tenderloin and serve this up on the side. Your guests and kids will thank you.

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Delicata Squash Saute with Apple and Leek

  • 1 medium organic Delicata squash, seeded and cut into ½" pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 organic leek, halved and chopped
  • 2-3 tart organic apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used organic pippin apples)
  • 2 tbsp pasture-raised organic butter, unsalted (such as Kerrygold)
  • 6-6 leaves fresh organic sage, roughly chopped, or 1 tbsp dried organic sage
  • 1 tbsp organic, raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan and add the squash with a pinch of sea salt. Cook over for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is lightly brown, stirring often.
  2. Add the chopped leek and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. 
  3. Add the apple, sage and vinegar. Stir to incorporate and cook for another few minutes, until the apple is cooked and the sage wilted. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. 

Paleo Egg Roll Filling… Minus the Roll.

I made the not-so-bright decision to pull two pounds of ground pork out of the freezer.

Not one, but two.

Apparently I was over-zealous with how much I thought I could eat this week.

Or maybe how much I like homemade Italian sausage. Which is a lot.

But, seriously. I have my limits.

Perusing my fridge, I realized that I had a head of cabbage that had been hanging out in the back for…. longer than I care to admit. Cabbage doesn’t ever really go bad so I peeled off the leaves that had started rusting and voila! Inspiration was born. (I also had to steal two carrots from my roommate – but she got dinner out of the deal… and I still owe her two carrots.)

Below is the result of my said inspiration. It’s hearty, filling and 21 Day Sugar Detox-friendly.

You know that filling from egg rolls? Yea. It tastes like that. Minus the greasy fried egg roll bit. (Who likes soggy fried food anyway? mmm.. French fries in duck fat… okay. I do.) But let’s bring it back to egg rolls. I hated the roll and only ate them so I could have the filling and maybe the dipping sauce. But this recipe is so tasty that it doesn’t need the dipping sauce. So this is the best thing ever. 

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  • 1 lb organic, pasture-raised ground pork
  • ½ head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 organic carrot, shredded
  • ½ cup organic daikon radish, julienne cut
  • ¼ cup organic green onion, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh organic minced ginger
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice 
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 3 ½ tbsp coconut aminos
  • ½ tsp (or more) dried red chili flakes
  1. Over medium heat, cook the pork until no longer pink along with the ginger, spices, salt and coconut aminos.
  2. Add the cabbage and carrots and cook for three minutes more, stirring often to make sure the cabbage cooks.
  3. Add the daikon radish and continue to cook until radish is slightly cooked and cabbage is cooked but still tender. (It shouldn’t be bright green – if it is, keep cooking.)
  4. Serve on a bed of lettuce or put it in a bowl and eat it. Or if you feel like being all fancy, fill Belgian endive cups with it. This would also taste good on cauliflower rice. Or just grab a fork and throw manners to the wind and eat out of your skillet.

What. Don’t judge me. 

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