Thursday, April 16, 2015

Turmeric-Lemon Miracle Soup

Miracle Soup is a pretty big claim, isn't it?

I love soup in general--I'd be hard pressed to ever pick a favorite. I think I could live on soup.

But to me, this particular soup is nothing short of miraculous when I need it most. It soothes my tummy on days when nothing else sounds good, and when I'm feeling worn down and icky. I don't know what ingredient  gives me the most comfort--maybe it's the just-tender-enough bites of cabbage and rice, or the zing of lemon, or the tang of nutritional yeast. I don't know what it is about this soup (probably all the goodness combined), but when I'm feeling a little beat-up, or achey, or not in the mood to eat much of anything, a hot mug of miracle soup hits the spot. There are days I simply crave this soup-- sick or not!

Awhile ago on my Facebook page I mentioned my "Triple Threat". I bring out the triple threat whenever I start getting those dreaded symptoms of a looming monster cold--aches, pains, sore throat, and just in general feeling like I've been hit by a small truck. Fire cider (click her for a great recipe) is the first player in the triple threat, and though I've become a believer in its healing properties, I have to admit, it burns a little going down. To tame the tingle, I eat a spoonful of honey, and then enjoy a cup of miracle soup. I then spend the next hour or so sipping on herbal tea. I repeat this for as long as I need to, usually several days, but I feel better the very first day. 

A Note About Nutritional Yeast

In my opinion, nutritional yeast (affiliate) is what makes this soup tick. Nutritional yeast is used in many vegetarian and vegan recipes to add a cheesy, umami kick, or in this case, a soothing tangy broth.  If you've never had it, you must try. It can be found at any health food store in the bulk section, it's relatively inexpensive, and it offers a boost of nutrition, mostly in the form of vitamin B12. 

I've found that nutritional yeast is cause for some debate, however. As an advocate for real, whole foods, I figured I had better do a little research. It turns out, the research is murky and there are some alarming rumors about nutritional yeast that don't seem to be based on solid studies. I'm not by any means a medical professional or a holistic guru, but here is my take on it: I think that we all have an inner voice that lets us know when a food is not helping our bodies (like the way I feel when I eat too much gluten--a topic for a future post in the works). If nooch (a cutesy name for nutritional yeast) gives you any negative reactive feelings, then by all means avoid it. This article addresses nutritional yeast and explains some of the myths surrounding it.

If You Don't Want Nooch, Make Miracle Soup with Chicken Broth

While I love 'nooch' and prefer this soup be made with it, I've also made it with chicken broth. After all, chicken broth is one of the top sources of comfort people turn to when they are feeling under the weather. My vegetarian friends do not turn to chicken broth for comfort, however, and will love this vegan option. I have found you need to add a little salt to your cup if you are using chicken broth, since you will be missing the 'nooch zing'. (Can you tell that I really want you to try making this soup with nutritional yeast, at least once?!)

*Note: Don't be alarmed if your pee turns bright, bright yellow after eating the nooch version of this soup. It's okay! It's just the extra water-soluble riboflavin being released. It means you are getting plenty of those B vitamins and riboflavin that your body needs, and releasing the extra is not harmful to your body at all.

Don't overcook this soup. This is important. Follow the times in the recipe even though it seems like it couldn't possibly have cooked long enough. While I do freeze individual portions to have on hand if the need for it suddenly arises, the soup is best fresh. Every couple months or so I make a pot of it to keep in the fridge, dipping bowls of it out to warm up for a snack, light lunch, or breakfast. Once you freeze it, the texture of the rice changes slightly, but it's still wonderfully effective.

*I adapted this recipe from this obscure book I found at my public library. (affiliate link).

Below are the herbal teas I find the most helpful in my Triple Threat. They are all from Traditional Medicinals and available at most grocery stores.

Throat Coast, Gypsy Cold Care, and  Breathe Easy
 are my favorites:

Turmeric-Lemon Miracle Soup   print here


4 green onions, chopped (white and green parts) OR 1/4 c. chopped white onion
6 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of pepper
1 t. turmeric
2 T. coconut oil
3 c. precooked brown rice

6 c. water  OR  6 c. chicken broth and omit Nutritional Yeast
3/4 c. nutritional yeast

juice of two medium lemons (about 1/4 c.)
1 T. tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg's liquid aminos

In a soup pot over medium heat, saute onions, cabbage, garlic and spices in oil for 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently and if the veggies start to brown or stick, turn heat to medium-low. Do not overcook--the cabbage should have a bit of crisp left in it. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Eat the soup hot out of a mug. Take with fire cider and herbal tea to help chase away the cold-season ickies.

Tastes best the next day. Make a batch of miracle soup and keep in the fridge when you feel a minor illness coming on, and eat a mug of it each day. Or, freeze in 1-cup portions for those times you need it.


*Try substituting kale for part or all of the cabbage.

*Gently whisk a tablespoon of miso into your cup of soup to make it super-charged with immunity boosters!

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links. I'm eligible to receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links. Click Here for my full disclosure!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

If Dad Approves Chickens, Surely The City Will

Adorable photo taken by my cousin Lindsey;
who also knew Grandma's chickens in our childhood
So my dad called me this afternoon, and in his typical style, launched into a conversation with no preface or warning.

"You were right; egg color does depend on the breed of chicken, not their diet. Grandma must have had Leghorn chickens. But I do remember her having brown chickens, too, so she must have had Rhode Island Reds; they look red in the light, but mostly brown. I have been googling...I printed off some breeds for you."

I tried catching my breath--not because I wanted to say anything, dad would have talked over me anyway--but to try to hold in my glee. Let me explain something about my dad. When he makes a phone call out of the blue, has lots to say about a topic you love, and even admits to googling it...well, it means you've earned his approval. You've sparked his interest and given him a way to bond in his own quirky way.

Let me back up a little.

Chickens have been on my brain for several years now, though my yard contains none. Our city doesn't allow backyard chickens, and lots of us would like to change that. About this time last year, petition number one made the rounds on the internet, my hope was spurred, and I wrote this post when I was told that 'urban people are not farmers'. Petition number one died out, sadly, and during the past year I started to think of ways to enamor my neighbors with the idea of my secretly keeping chickens, assuming that they'd never be legal. THEN, petition number two showed up, written and promoted by a local woman who had once kept chickens illegally in my city.

This petition picked up speed quickly, and not only that, Michele (writer of the petition) gathered a bunch of us through Facebook to approach city council. The meeting was on Tuesday night and left me feeling ecstatic. I have no idea yet if any of the city council members are willing to take on the proposal, but a few seemed very intrigued and enthusiastic. The conversation's been started, and we will keep bugging city council until they take action or bluntly turn us down.

My excitement was still tangible last night during my weekly Friday-night visit to my parents'. Both my brothers and their wives were there, and they had caught wind of my newest chicken adventures. My dad never knew I wanted chickens in my backyard and, of course, he was initially astounded--but not speechless. He immediately started telling me all the negative aspects of chickens, not knowing I've been researching for years.

He grew up with chickens. He does know what he's talking about. And every point he made was valid:

"There will be shit everywhere. You will walk inside with it on your shoes every time you go outside."
"You have to feed them. Feed's expensive. So you certainly won't be getting free eggs."
"They stop laying eggs after a few years."
"Do you even like eggs?" (He doesn't.)
"They can escape."
"You do know that predators will be after them?"
"Where would you put them?"
"Chickens in the city are not a new idea."
"....there will be shit, everywhere." (Again with the shit--dad, I get it.)

I'm very accustomed to my dad's initial reaction to most ideas, and I've learned that he is not trying to be overly critical or discouraging. When he goes on a little rant about whatever topic has been brought to his attention, what he is actually doing is thinking out loud to find whatever negative aspects might be involved. It's his way of staying realistic. I recognize the quality very well, since I have that same trait. Outwardly I might be enthusiastic and positive, but I'm a critic and skeptic by nature. In fact, my mind inwardly races with everything that is wrong even as I outwardly champion an idea--like backyard chickens. I want them, but the idea does terrify me a bit. I have laid awake at night worrying about the very issues dad mentioned, plus some.

As my dad went on that night, I realized what he was doing, and I didn't get defensive. I acknowledged all his concerns, impressed him a little bit with some of the facts I have learned on my own, and then we talked a little bit about Grandma's chickens. I ended the conversation with "Dad, I grew up with chickens, too. I was at Grandma's house almost every day. I know some of the realities of chickens, but I don't care...I still want them."

His phone call was a welcome surprise this afternoon. I smiled as I imagined him googling and discovering some things about chickens in general...things he may have forgotten over the years or simply never knew. I heard papers ruffling as he referred to notes he'd printed off. I was happy inside knowing that this was my dad's way of giving a stamp of approval on something he actually thought was insane--his way of acknowledging that I'm a very different person that he, but that my ideas are okay. He had taken time out of his day (and the man never stops for much of anything), had looked for a way to connect and bond, and left me feeling on top of the world.

"Grandma and Grandpa complained about one thing a lot." I held my breath, not wanting to tarnish the romantic view I had of my paternal grandparents, wondering what horrible thing about chickens I was about to hear next.

"They hated those store bought eggs. Said they had the consistency of snot. They wouldn't even consider not keeping chickens for that reason." I let my breath out, smiled, and said "I know."

If my dad is willing to look at the chicken situation with a level head and encouraging words, then I have the highest of hopes that city council will, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Clean Water, Please! Berkey Giveaway

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!
Keep an eye out for future giveaways at!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Winter as a Blank Slate

One of the littles with our mini snow shovel,
digging a path on the sidewalk next to the side garden.
Our property ends at that little sidewalk--yes, there
actually is a garden smooshed up there against the house! :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Overheard in the Kitchen: Simon Explains Water Kefir

Simon posing for me with his grape-flavored water kefir.

If you are the major proponent of change in your home (read: troublemaker) and are looking for a way to drag the rest of your household along with you, it makes sense to help them get there the same way you did. Help them try small steps. Watch the steps work. Watch your family members learn to love it. --Dasiy Siskin in Little House in the Suburbs

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

20+ Ways To Eat Your Kraut

20 + Ways to Eat Your Kraut (every day of the year)
*Note: Some of the ideas below require cooking the kraut, and some do not. The good bacteria that is living in your kraut will die if it's heated over 110 F, so while I recommend eating kraut whenever you can, also try to eat plenty of kraut cold, or barely warmed.

Kraut Salsa! I'm so glad my friend Tess from Homestead Lady taught me this!

1. Number ONE way to get daily kraut--Straight out of the jar. Use a clean fork and grab a bite whenever you want.

2. "We do Reuben Sandwiches or Reuben Burgers with Kraut! Delicious! Also, my grandma used to fry it with potatoes for breakfast." -Charley from Cooke's Frontier

3. "We eat it almost every day for breakfast. We usually have scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and kraut--either from cabbage, or for a treat, beets. It took some getting used to, but now we really enjoy the super healthy start to the day!" -Christine from Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers

4. "We just had pulled BBQ pork from wild boar we harvested this fall; kraut on top as a sandwich for New Year's was surprisingly great!" -Kate from Backwoods Homestead

5. "On top of baked potatoes!!!" -Angi from A Return to Simplicity

6. "Crockpot Sauerkraut and Kielbasa!" (clickable recipe here)  -Kelly from Simple Life Mom (also, here's her method for making kraut)

in sushi...what??? Yeah!

7. "Reubens, for sure! I also like to cut up smoked sausage and onions and mix them with kraut in a frying pan to warm them all up together." -Patrick from Survival at Home (here's his method for making kraut...and in his post he mentions loving kraut on hot dogs, too!)

8. "With pierogis and kielbasa!" -Megan from Linn Acres Farm

9. "Reubens are our favorite. I also like it with sliced beef link sausage." -Erica from Mom Prepares (here she describes her journey into making kraut and other ferments!)

*You may have noticed Reuben sandwiches are a common theme.
If you are mostly vegetarian like me, give this recipe for Vegetarian Reubens a shot. :)

10. "In the crockpot with kielbasa and sauteed onions, served with mustard, or in pierogies." -Alecia from Chicken Scratch NY

11. "We eat it like salsa on those organic chips from Costco." ( I find this idea GENIUS!)  -Tessa from Homestead Lady

12. "We eat in on the side with nearly all meals. Around 1 to 2 T--aids in digestion and ups the good microbes in the gut. I will even have it at breakfast but my hubs turns up his nose at breakfast! I make a 9 x 13 casserole with mashed potatoes, sausage and kraut with extra seasoning of salt/pepper and butter. Bake and serve." -Pamela from Cedar Hill Chronicles (check out her incredible recipe for a spicy Latin American kraut called cortido here!)

13. "We like it with smoked sausage & mashed potatoes...or pork ribs...crock pot all day long. Yummm." -Jo and Eddie Rellime from Homestead Chronicles  

14. "Hubby likes to eat it as a side dish with a nice pork roast." -Mindie from (mis) Adventures of a Born Again Farmgirl

15. "I love to make a plate of sliced, fried sausage, a big heaping pile of kraut (sauer, not that sweet junk), some slices of sharp cheddar, and some pretzel bread. Just all laid out on a plate like a ploughman's supper. Mmm...."  -Brandon from Lonestar Farmstead

16On Oatmeal. I am dead's so good! 1/4 c. rolled oats, 3/4 c. water, 1/2 apple, chopped. Cook for 3-5 minutes in microwave (or however you cook your oatmeal). Top with cinnamon, a few tablespoons of kraut, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Sometimes I can't even discern the kraut, other times I get a nice little occasional zap of sweet-sour yumminess!

Perfect on top of apple-cinnamon oatmeal. True story. Crazy, I know!

17. Add it to coleslaw.

18. Add it on top of a big old yummy salad.

19. Use it as a sushi filling (we love making homemade sushi a couple times a year--no raw fish, only veggies! Recipe coming soon to the blog).

20Pancakes! Either add a little to your batter, or a put a dab on top with your syrup. Don't knock it til you try it!

21. On pizza. You can even make a special batch of kraut with added jalapenos, garlic, and fresh thyme and oregano if you have them. A perfect kraut to top pizza!

22. On tacos. Again, make a special batch just for your taco nights; this time add some crushed cumin seed to the kraut when you make it.

23Quesadillas: equal parts kraut, shredded or finely sliced apple, and sharp cheddar cheese, melted between two tortillas. YUM!

There you go...PLENTY of kraut-eating ideas. Take some notes on what things sound the most amazing to you. Get started with your kraut--it's as simple as picking up a cabbage the next time you go to the grocery (or, if you still have cabbage from your own garden, then bonus for you!).