Sunday, January 10, 2010

Slow Cooking: Lentil Soup

A few weeks ago, I picked up some beef bones at the Farmer's Market (grass-fed from a local Amish farm). I was hoping to give one or two to the dog as treats, but they were way too small with sharp edges. I piled them into my slow cooker and made some mineral-rich bone broth. When talking to my mother the other day, she suggested I make lentil soup, so I scoured the internet looking for a slow cooker recipe. Not only was this recipe super easy, I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen. Super convenient.

Lentil Soup
Adapted from ABC's Slow-Cooker Recipe Finalist, Mary Sperling of Newberg, Ore.


• 3 carrots, chopped
• 4 ribs of celery, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed
• 6 cups beef broth, 2 cups water (you can do all water, all broth, veggie broth, etc.)
• 2 cups lentils, rinsed
• 1 tsp. dried thyme
• 1 bay leaf (because I love bay leaves in lentil soup!)

Directions Put all of these ingredients in the slow cooker. Set it on low if you are leaving it all day, high if you are starting it around lunchtime. I started around 2pm so I set it on high figuring I'd eat around 8pm.

10 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add:
• 1 ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
• 2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. ground pepper
• 1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped

Variations to add:
• cubed potatoes at the beginning of cooking.
• one 14 ½ ounce can of diced tomatoes at the beginning of cooking.

I forgot to add the balsamic vinegar and the kale, so each morning when I prepared my lunch for the day I drizzled a bit of vinegar and added a frozen veggie. One day it was broccoli, the next it was spinach; I tried to mix it up, keep it interesting and nutritious.

I also discovered crockpot365's Stephanie O'Dea on Good Morning America! Click here for her recipes featured on GMA.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mammogram 01/07/10

I don't typically get on my soapbox here at holisticanaturopathic. There are so many sites that do just that; I prefer to keep things light with the occasional recipe, recycling tip, medical-related news or link. But something has been happening on Facebook that has caught my attention, but not for the reason intended.

A meme has been going around encouraging women to post their bra color as their status update, all in the name of breast cancer awareness. Even before I found this article, I thought the whole thing was a bit odd, somewhat voyeuristic, and unsure how bra color posting would make anyone more knowledgeable about breast cancer. One thing the Facebook meme did do was make me incredibly aware that I am in dire need of new support undergarments. But as far as activism? Education? Not so much.

I decided to start my own meme. It's off to a very slow start, perhaps because I only sent it to a few friends, maybe because it's REALLY kind of a personal thing, or folks are getting sick and tired of Facebook memes. Here goes: post as your status update the date of your last mammogram, self breast exam (SBE), or clinical breast exam (CBE). Easy enough, right? What? You don't remember the last time you did a self breast exam? When is the best time to do one? Haven't had a CBE in how many years? Maybe you're not quite old enough to get a mammogram, or maybe you are...wait...what IS the age to start screening?

See? Made you think. Or at least do a Google search. You notice your friend got a mammo two days ago (that friend would be me, thank you very much) or did a SBE last Tuesday. So you make an appointment with your doctor or check your breasts in the shower.

These are the American Cancer Society's current guidelines for screening:
  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) should be part of a periodic health exam, about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
  • Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.
The newest meme encourages women to breastfeed because breastfeeding and being breastfed reduces breast cancer risk. I'm in a bit of a pickle because I was mostly bottle fed and chances are I won't be breastfeeding any time soon. And I have old bras.

Now, where is that Victoria's Secret catalog?

More info from
Self breast exam
Clinical breast exam
Early detection and screening

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Slow cookerama

I'm trying to plan ahead and make lunch/dinner for the upcoming week. Working long days doesn't leave much energy to come home and prepare a healthy meal and, although it is very affordable, the cafeteria at work doesn't offer much when it comes to gluten-free.

I checked in with one of my favorite blogs,, and learned how to cook up some beans in my slow cooker. I took half a bag of dried pinto and half a bag of black beans, rinsed them in a colander, drained them, then poured them into the slow cooker. I then added one large, crushed clove of garlic and covered the beans with filtered water (plus two inches, as instructed). I added the garlic because I remember my mom telling me that garlic reduces the gas from the beans. I crushed it because crushing, chopping, or mincing actually activates the properties of the garlic. They soaked overnight, this morning I rinsed them and returned them to the slow cooker to cook on low for about 6 hours. I had a small helping for lunch, with some salsa, grated cheese and cilantro. Will need to make some rice tonight so I can have bean and rice bowls for lunch this week.
When the beans were almost done, I referred to crockpot365 for a chicken and dumplings recipe. The best (and only) chicken and dumplings I've ever had were at Tad's in Troutdale, Oregon. Those dumplings were so huge...they were painfully delicious. Literally. Glutaginous balls of death. I will be using Bob's Red Mill gluten-free biscuit mix, so my version should be a bit more intestine friendly.

My favorite part of using a slow cooker is throwing frozen ingredients into the crock, no thawing necessary, step away, and let it do it's thing. I inherited another, larger slow cooker (I actually think this one is an official crockpot), so I took it off the shelf, grabbed some open packages of frozen peas and green beans, chopped an onion, and added boneless chicken breasts all into the crock. Covered with two cans of gluten-free, organic cream of chicken soup, turned the slow cooker on high and in four hours will drop in globs of gluten-free biscuit dough. One more hour of cooking and, fingers crossed, I hope to have a scrumptious, stick-to-your-ribs dinner of comfort food! Perfect for a snowy, 4° winter day (and lunch this week!).

(I just added some rosemary to the crockpot, along with the biscuit dough. Felt like it was missing something. Almost done, picture to come!)

Friday, January 1, 2010


Hard to believe I've been blogging here since July 2007 and have yet to post anything about one of my favorite quick breakfast recipes. I first had migas in Santa Fe. Don't remember the name of the restaurant, but they truly were delicious. But where I had them doesn't really matter because they are so easy to make, you, too, can enjoy the yumminess of this Tex-Mex breakfast delight. I mostly love this recipe because it's perfect for using up those stale chips that are sitting in the cupboard. It's great the day after a party, perfect for New Year's Day.

The ingredients are simple: olive oil, salsa, eggs, corn tortilla chips, grated cheese and cilantro for garnish.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, not too hot as you don't want it to smoke. Add in a cup or so of salsa per person. Let the salsa cook long enough to burn off the excess liquid.
Scramble 3 eggs per person then add crumbled tortilla chips to the egg batter. Pour into frying pan and stir while cooking egg/salsa mixture.
Serve immediately, garnished with grated cheese and cilantro.