Friday, May 30, 2014

The Power of Asparagus

Spring brings with it a specific vegetable that is great for detoxification! Asparagus (like avocados) contains an important molecule called glutathione which is needed to help the body detoxify and also contributes to a healthy liver. Although glutathione is produced naturally by our body it is when the toxic load becomes too great that can lead to problems. What exactly is glutathione? It is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein - cysteine, glycine and glutamine - and it contains sulfur chemical groups. Sulfur is a sticky molecule that acts like fly paper in the body so that all the bad things, free radicals and toxins such as mercury and other heavy metals, stick to it. Asparagus also contains very good amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid and potassium and is high in fiber.

I don't think it's any coincidence that asparagus, with its wonderful antioxidants and detoxification properties, is a SPRING vegetable. Spring and fall are both great times to think about doing some internal cleansing. I found a great recipe for cream of asparagus soup that I adapted from epicurious.com and wanted to share it with you. It's so easy to make and you can use your bone broth recipe to make it extra healthy. It also fits well into the GAPS diet protocol.

Cream of Asparagus Soup: 

  • 2 pounds green asparagus 
  • 1 large onion 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken or beef broth 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste 
Preparation
  1. Cut tips from 14 asparagus (1 1/2 inches from the top and halve tips lengthwise). Reserve for garnish. 
  2. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. 
  3. Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until softened. Add garlic and asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring for 5 minutes. 
  4. Add 5 cups of broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling water until just tender, about 4 minutes and drain. 
  6. Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth and return to pan. 
  7. Stir in the sour cream and add more broth to thin soup if needed. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and bring to just under boil. Add lemon juice (lemon juice can replace salt in some recipes) and garnish with asparagus tips. You can also add some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

p.s. The unusual smell that our urine may acquire after eating asparagus comes from the amino acid, asparagine, which actually acquired its name from this springtime plant. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

One of the Most Healing Diet Staples

Bone broth, or stock, is a simple way to heal and seal the lining of the intestinal tract, is packed full of minerals, is excellent for speeding healing and recuperating from illness, can aid in the healing of joints, and is considered the "poor man's protein". The latter because consuming broth can decrease the amount of protein that we need in our diet and is very inexpensive to make. Bone broth also promotes healthy hair and nail growth thanks to the gelatin in it and is beneficial for our bones and teeth!

Making your own bone broth is quite inexpensive as you can use either leftover bones from a roast chicken or buy beef bones inexpensively from your local butcher. You can use bones from beef, bison, lamb, chicken, duck, goose, or fish. As for nutrients, bone broth provides you with important things such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, chondroitin, glucosamine and arginine. Yes, we're talking the same chondroitin and glucosamine that many people take as supplements for different forms of arthritis but at a much lower cost. Plus, bone broth just adds SO much delicious flavor to soups, rice, casseroles, etc.! I actually recommend just simply drinking it to clients who have digestive disorders. It is also one of the cornerstones of the GAPS diet and is sometimes the only food tolerated for some in their initial stages of healing.

Here's a basic, simple recipe that you can use to make your own bone broth but feel free to change according to what you have in your fridge and what you like!

Bone Broth Recipe 

Bones (preferably soup, shank, marrow, ribs, knuckle bones; if using chicken you can use the bones from a roast)
Filtered cold water to cover
1 T Salt
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar (important as it draws out the minerals easier)
Veggies such as onions, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, rosemary, nettle or any other medicinal herb (optional)
  1. Put the bones in a large stockpot or crockpot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that will rise to the top (if using a crockpot you can bring to a boil in a pot on the stove and then transfer to your slow cooker. Personally, I prefer the results I get from using the stove). Turn down to a simmer or low.
  2. Add the vinegar and salt and vegetables (if using).  If you can, let this broth cook on low for 24-48 hours. You may need to add more water as it evaporates.  The minimum amount of cooking time would be 6 hours.  The longer you cook the bones, the more medicinal your broth will be.  Beef bones will take the longest; fish bones generally takes about 6-8 hours maximum and chicken, etc. are somewhere in the middle.
  3. Use a sieve to strain out the bones and any vegetables.
  4. Store the broth in mason jars or glass containers.  Once your broth cools it may become jellied.  This means you have a gelatin rich broth (this is a good thing!) and it will liquefy when heated.
  5. The broth will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen for several months.  You can freeze glass jars as long as you leave 2 inches of air space at the top. 
  6. Use to make soups stews, sauces, casseroles, rice and to just simply drink before meals or anytime!