Thursday, February 10, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Today was a gloomy dreary day and there's nothing I like better on such a day than some good home made soup. Tonight I made a really easy variation of Italian Wedding soup - traditionally a clear broth soup made with meatballs and greens.

I don't eat meatballs but of course you can add them if you like, whether you use pre-made or home-made, beef ore turkey that's your call. I actually used a kielbasa flavored tofu sliced up. Other than your meat of choice, all that is needed is:
  • 6-8 cups Base or Broth
  • 1 cup uncooked Grain
  • 1-2 cups Greens
You can customize it however else you like, adding spices or vegetables. I started with a little chopped onion, a few small red potatoes, quartered, and some italian spices.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in the bottom of a stock pot and added the onion, potatoes and seasoning. After the onion begins to brown, add about 6-8 cups of broth. I use instant vegebase but any low-sodium beef or chicken broth works.

Bring the broth to a boil and add your ingredients. I use long grain brown rice but orzo, small noodles, and lentils also work well here. Cooking it in the broth adds flavor. I also added about a half cup each of pre-soaked dried chickpeas and navy beans for extra protein and fiber. I'm all about packing the most nutritional content possible into a dish. For greens I used a small package of frozen spinach.

Reduce the heat and let simmer for at least 1 hour, until the meat of your choice is cooked through.

Ta-Da! Easy peasy delicious homemade soup!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Benefits of Peppermint

There are many things we can to to improve our health, why not take advantage of simple things that benefit your health in many ways? One of these things is peppermint oil. It is sometimes known as the oldest medicine because it has been used to treat ailments for so long ( It remains one of the few herbs and essential oils that has been backed by scientific research for several purposes.

Peppermint is a natural antiseptic along with eucalyptus and melaleuca (tea tree) oil so it is used in toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos and some natural cleansers. Pure peppermint oil can be applied to acne breakouts to kill the bacteria without drying out the skin. It also contains minerals and nutrients such as  iron, calcium, potassium, and copper, vitamins A & C as well as omega-3 fatty acids ( All of these can be beneficial when applied to the skin topically or taken internally.

Peppermint is soothing to the digestive system and can help alleviate heartburn, gas and indigestion without many of the possible side effects of medication. It also offers immediate, though temporary, relief from respiratory problems associated with the cold and flu, asthma, bronchitis and sinus congestion. This is why menthol, a primary component of peppermint, is used in cold rubs to provide instant relief.

Because of its cooling nature, peppermint oil can be applied to sore muscles or joints to soothe pain. It can also be applied to rashes or insect bites because it contains anti-inflammatory properties. The oil or tea of peppermint help relieve stress and tension while keeping the mind alert and refreshed. In this same manner it can be used as a treatment for headaches, nausea, and restlessness.

Growing peppermint is the easiest way to insure your peppermint is pure and fresh with not processing. It is relatively easy to grow and can help deter ants and other insects from entering your home. It has been used in natural insect repellents for humans and dogs, though cats are sensitive to essential oils so use caution around them.