Daph with pumpkin

Brrrr.  It’s been so chilly here in Idaho.  It seems we went straight from summer into winter with not much of my favorite fall season in between. 

With the cooler temperatures, not much sounds better to me for dinner than a bowl of warm homey soup.  I’m kind of a soup fanatic and because of that we do “Souper Sunday” each weekend in our household.  I created this recipe for Pumpkin Soup a couple of years back and it’s become a favorite stand-by especially around this time of year.  It’s simple, low-fat and high fiber.  Plus it just tastes really good!  

If you want to be really creative and Marthaesque, hollow out a big pumpkin and serve up your soup in it.  The croutons are obviously not low-fat but they are delish and if you can keep yourself from shoving them in your mouth by the handful (I personally struggle with this), you won’t have to run too far to justify adding them to this healthy soup.

Daphne’s Easy Pumpkin Soup

 1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp dried sage

29 oz. can of pumpkin puree (or fresh pumpkin if you so desire)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth/stock

½ cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

croutons (homemade or store bought)

 Heat olive oil and sage in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add pumpkin, stir and heat for 1 minute.  Add broth and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Add cream, stir and add salt and pepper to taste.  You may need a lot of salt but I prefer to use the low sodium broth and then add my own salt back in so I can control the amount that goes in.

Keep over low heat until served.  Ladle into mugs and top with crunchy croutons.   Keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.  Makes 8 servings.

Pumpkin-soup-758189

Daphne’s Croutons

Baguette (french, sourdough, seeded – any will work)

1/4 lb unsalted butter,  melted (8 Tbsp.)

1/4 cup olive oil (garlic olive oil works wonderfully too)

sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the baguette into 1-inch cubes.  Toss the bread cubes with the melted butter and olive oil.  Toss well so that each piece is completely coated.  Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet, lightly salt and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Use on soups and salads.  These will keep for several days in a ziploc bag or airtight container.  If they last that long!  You can also experiment and add fresh herbs, parmesan cheese to make “Caesar” croutons, etc. You would just mix in whatever you want to add when you are tossing the bread with the butter/oil mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh honey…

October 20, 2009

I will admit that before I moved to Idaho (for the most part) I was not very open-minded regarding any type of “homeopathic” treatments or remedies.  I don’t really know what my rational behind my disregard for natural remedies was but since I’ve been here in Spudsville I’ve changed.  Not drastically (see my green is good post – I still use toilet paper, etc.) but if there is some common sense, good reasoning behind it I’m kind of feeling these days that the more simple and natural, the better.  Getting closer to eating and using foods/products that more closely resemble the way nature intended them to be seems to be a worthy and attainable goal to aspire to. 

half marathonA great non-food example of this happened recently during my training for my 1st half-marathon.  Everything was going swimmingly (can you say that with regards to running?) when the wheels started falling off my 39-year old never been a serious runner before now, bod.  I ended up with a hip injury and some very painful jacked up runners toes.  If you don’t know what runners toes are, lucky you.  I had some black toenails and 4 nails that were almost completely lifted up and off of my toes.  Very painful and very gross.  Let’s just say they ooze.  It’s nasty and I guess somewhat unavoidable if you run for 10 plus miles. 

My homeopathic lovin’ friend Heidi (yep, brussel sprouts Heidi – what would I do without her?) recommended I soak my feet nightly in epsom salts and then follow by rubbing tea tree oil into the injured toenails.   I simultaneously made an appointment with a podiatrist and began to take Homeopathic Heidi’s advice.  I was desperate!  And wouldn’t you know it, I wasted $120 visiting the Dr.  After he looked at my toes, he told me to “soak your feet in epsom salts, apply tea-tree oil and get new running shoes.”  He also clipped the injured toenails which I couldn’t bring myself to do but at $120 for 15 minutes I probably could have convinced the nice ladies at Rosy Nails in Eagle to do it for a hell of a lot cheaper.  My point being, while sometimes the natural route may be the path less travelled it might actually be the path worth taking.

Honey_combFrom a food perspective, there are all kinds of foods out there that have homeopathic healing as well as nourishing properties.  One of the most versatile and multi-purpose ingredients you can (and should) keep on hand, is pure and natural honey.  I just read in Better Homes & Gardens that warm water mixed with a tablespoon of honey and vinegar can help relieve a sore throat.  The vinegar discourages bacteria growth and honey is anti-inflammatory.  And it sure tastes a lot better than just straight vinegar!  Good to know during this cold and flu season. 

In the same article, a remedy for nasal congestion recommends mixing the juice of one clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp of honey and some aloe vera. Soak two cotton balls in the mixture and insert them loosely in your nostrils for about 5 minutes.  You might not look very attractive but you’ll probably be able to breathe a little easier after the garlic clears your sinuses, the honey works as an astringent  and antibacterial and the aloe moisturizes your sore nasal tissue. 

There’s also was also a recent study done that found using honey as a cough suppressant for children over the age of 12 months was as effective (and probably easier to get down) than over-the-counter medications.  You can read this article and find lots of great information and recipes using honey on http://www.honey.com 

I have my own home remedy using honey.  Instead of buying those expensive sugar scrubs which I love because they make your skin smell so good and feel so soft, I make my own.  I take a plastic lotion jar (I go through tubs of cetaphil – it’s pretty dry here) and add brown sugar, coarse sea salt and lots of honey.  Mix together until it’s the consistency you like and use to scrub-a-dub-dub in the shower.       

My little aspiring chef, middle daughter “L” wanted me to include one of her favorite recipes using honey from her own kids cookbook.

Sunny Honey Granola (From Gooseberry Patch Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook)lila apples
 
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
non-stick vegetable spray
 
Mix oats, almonds, seeds and coconut in mixing bowl.  Stir honey and oil together in separate bowl and then combine with oat mixture. 
 
Spread out on a sprayed baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 20–30 minutes or until golden brown.
 
Let cool slightly, pour into a clean bowl and stir in raisins.  Store in a airtight container

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