Sunday, June 6, 2010

Broccoli soup

I just whipped this up from some leftovers...

Creamy Broccoli-Avocado Soup

It may sound a bit odd, but the avocado lends a creaminess and a healthy dose of those incredibly good for you fatty acids. The flavors are balanced by the salty-umami flavor of miso, used in place of salt.

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 large head broccoli, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1-2 large Haas avocadoes, mashed
2 tablespoons yellow miso, or more to taste

Carmelize onions in large cast iron pot (or stockpot) in oil. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
Add broccoli. Turn down heat and simmer until broccoli is bright green and just barely tender.
Turn off heat and let cool for a bit before pureeing in blender in multiple batches.
In a separate large bowl, cream together miso and avocado. Add pureed soup to this mixture. Blend well.
Adjust seasonings to taste.

Let me know how it turns out :)

It's what's for breakfast.

Beef. Eel River, 100% grassfed beef to be specific, stir fry style. I had it for breakfast.

Here's the recipe for what I did:

1/2 teaspoon grapeseed oil
1/2 pound 100%grassfed organic beef, stir fry cut
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon tamari
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 fresh garlic clove, minced

Warm a medium cast iron skillet over medium-hugh heat and add oil. Pat dry beef with paper towel and add to skillet.
Cook about 2 minutes on each side, to desired doneness.
Remove meat from skillet and pour juices over meat.
Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Ideally, the combination results in a sweet, spicy, salty concoction that is an excellent accompaniment to beef. Especially in the morning.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I made kombucha! Since starting Bastyr in the fall of 2008, I saw emails everywhere about "kombucha babies" and had no idea wtf these were. I had started drinking bottled kombucha while living in Santa Barbara, and found I could only tolerate the mango-flavored one because it was sweetest, the other ones were so bubbly it hurt my throat and tasted a bit on the, uh, NOT appetizing side. Then, a few weeks ago, my friend showed me his kombucha operation, had me try some, and I had a revelation: if this guy can do it, I could totally do it...better. So, when his kombucha "mother" had a "baby" I went and adopted it.
My little kombucha baby was pretty much the opposite of any other kind of baby, as far as the whole cute thing goes. This looked like a gigantic slime mold pancake swimming around in a concoction of some kind of nastiness. And it smelled like weird vinegar. As soon as I figure out how to get the photos off my camera and onto my computer, I'll post some pics of the lil guy. Anyway, I followed my buddy's instructions for constructing a suitable home for my new baby. If you would like to do this yourself, here are the ingredients:
1 gallon-sized glass--it MUST be glass--jar
an old t-shirt or some cheesecloth
a rubberband
enough brewed green or black tea to fill the jar
a bunch of sugar
and the instructions:
Brew up a gallon of caffeinated tea, this will use about 6-8 regular sized tea bags. I used loose leaf jasmine green tea, the kind where the tea is in little balls that pop open into flowery-like things when added to water, I used about 3-4 tablespoons of this tea.
Once tea is brewed, strain it and add 2 cups of sugar (I only had powdered sugar. It worked, but I also noticed that it contains cornstarch, but it was all I had at the time, and my first batch turned out just peachy. Next time, I'm goin for the organic evaporated cane juice...). Stir until sugar is dissolved and then let the tea cool to room temperature. This will take a long long time. I saw a youtube video where the woman just used a quart of water to make her tea and then added water to fill the gallon jar. Do whichever method you like, I've only done it the first way I've described.
Then, once the sugary tea is cooled to room temperature and in the gallon glass jar, plop in your kombucha baby. Oh yeah, you have to have a baby for this method. HOWEVER, I found yet another youtube video where these two guys describe how to make a kombucha culture from scratch. Basically, instead of adding the baby, just pour in a bottle of unpasteurized kombucha, I'd suggest GT's Kombucha since you can find it pretty much anywhere nowadays.
When the baby/bottled kombucha has been added, place the old t-shirt or cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and rubberband it to keep it in place. Next, put your jar someplace dark and warm. I stuck mine in a cupboard above the stove at my house. And then you wait...
My kombucha fermented for 12 days (I've heard you can let it go for 2-3 weeks, but I got impatient). It wasn't too sweet but also had not begun to turn vinegary yet, and was slightly effervescent.
To bottle my kombucha, I simply removed the culture and it's subsequent babies (mine had triplets, yay!) and placed them in a glass dish with a extra "juice" from the big jar so they could float around and play. Then I simply poured the kombucha into GLASS bottles (old Pellegrino ones work well, so do those glass Knudsen juice bottles, or old wine bottles with a screwtop) with tight-fitting lids and place these in a dark, room-temperature place if you'd like them to ferment a little more and thus get more bubbly. When you want fermentation to stop, put 'em in the fridge. So far, I've only just bottled today so we'll have to wait a few more days to see what happens. This is basically just a test and retest approach here, I've got no strict "recipe", no formal instructions, which really wouldn't work anyway since climates are so different around the state/country/world. But what you have here is an excellent framework from which to grow your own kombucha in the comfort of your own kitchen. Since those bottles of GT's Kombucha run about $4 each (they're 16oz), homemade kombucha is definitely preferable if you're on the conservationist side of things. Plus, mine turned out absolutely delicious and I'm even going to bring some to school with me so that Rebecca can try it (she hates all things kombucha...maybe we'll convert her!)
I found that by referring to these nasty SCOBY's (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) as babies, I've grown quite fond of them, and don't want to throw them away, so if anyone reading this lives close by, feel free to let me know if you'd like to adopt one!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Magical Fruit

I made baked beans.
From scratch. Like, complete scratch, soaked the beans overnight and everything.
I found the recipe while leisurely reading American Food Writing, by Molly O'Neill. The "recipe" was part of someone's work, and here I will translate the recipe so that you too can make it at home (it's really easy, and so incredibly delicious):


4 cups white [great northern] beans, soaked overnight
1 lb (16 ounces) salt pork [I used bacon]
1 large onion, peeled and quatered
1 heaping teaspoon mustard
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 teaspoon black pepper
water to cover beans
1/2 tablespoon salt, divided [more or less to taste]

I quartered this recipe, but accidentally added 1/4 cup molasses instead of 1/8. It turned out incredible, but I'm a fan of sweet, and I topped the finished beans with plain Greek yogurt. I could imagine them being just as tasty if only half as sweet, however. The first time I tried baked beans hen I was growing up, they were ones that my mom had made. The moment the first mouthful passed my lips, I thought they were...disgusting. They were out of a can, but this is not why they were gross to me the first time around. I had expected the beans to be savory. They were sweet. A very interesting, complex sweet, not your standard, confectionary, cupcake-frosting sparkly sweet, but also tangy, pungent, sour, salty. All five flavors in one dish, a balanced food.With the balanced nutrient content of the beans themselves, plus the energetics of the other various ingredients, we have here a surprisingly simple, ambrosial tonic dish that everyone will enjoy...if they know what to expect ;)


Place beans in large bowl, cover with 2 inches of water. Soak overnight. In the morning, discard water and place beans in heavy-bottomed saucepan (or whatever you have that most closely resembles this setup) and cover with 2 inches of fresh cold water. Heat until a white scum forms on the entire surface of the water. Remove beans from heat and strain. Into an ovenproof casserole (with a lid. I used my cast iron one.), place the onion and pork [bacon]. Then pour in the beans to cover the first 2 ingredients. Add molasses, mustard, and pepper. Pour in boiling water to cover ingredients by 1-1/2 inches. Cover and place in a "slow oven" (I set mine at 300-350). Here the original "recipe" instructs us to wait 2 hours, then add salt mixed with 1 cup boiling water to the bean mixture. Then, every hour thereafter (according to the original instructions, we started this entire process at 5AM) we would add i cup of water to compensate for whatever had evaporated, or something. I chose to start my beans at 5:30PM. So at 7:30PM, I checked on the beans (having also checked on them about 3 times up until the 2 hour mark) and added roughly 1-1/2 teaspoons of sea salt (eyeballed it). Stirred the mixture and replaced the cover. Cooked until about 9:00PM, then removed from oven and placed on the stove uncovered to thicken the liquid portion, kept at a simmer for about an hour. Then, added a bit more water, maybe 1/3 cup, covered and replaced in oven set at 200 degrees until 3:30AM. The results were nothing short of delectable perfection. The addition of sour cream or plain yogurt (preferably organic, as dairy is one of the most important products it is crucial to consume only organic versions of) is a fantastic addition.

Happy baked beans!

And, for you further reading pleasure, here is the medicinal value of baked beans [from scratch]:

Great northern white beans:
Black pepper:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Seems the time has started to fly by this quarter as we enter week 5. Personally, I can't wait to go home next weekend. "Home" for these purposes is Santa Barbara, CA, the most beautiful place in the world...well, when my current world of Seattle, WA is 46 degrees with random hail storms, anyway. Looking forward to lay on the beach and see the sun...and drink some wine and eat the wonderful, local food that is abundant in that area.
Speaking of eating locally, I've realized that not many people see the benefits to this. I don't feel like explaining, but I will simply say that it is the best choice. The food doesn't travel far, the local economy is supported, and the food that grows where you live has distinct nutrient profiles specific to supporting life in that region. Along with eating locally comes eating "in season", meaning that you eat the food that naturally grows during certain times of year. For example, lettuce in winter is just weird, and who's ever heard of a spring pumpkin? So, wihout further ado, here is a recipe for springtime:

Awesome Asparagus
2 bunches fresh, local asparagus, trimmed* and diagonally sliced into thirds
1/2 tablespoon salted butter
1/8 tsp sea salt (more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons dried dill OR 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
OPTIONAL: 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. In a large cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat, add butter and let melt.
2. Add asparagus and stir-fry until bright green and softened but still crisp, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Just before removing from heat, add salt and dill and mix to incorporate. Remove from skillet and, if desired, add lemon juice and stir.
*To "trim" asparagus, hold one end in each hand and bend the spear. Where it breaks is the natural separation from the tender edible part from the tough, woody stem. Discard woody stems.

Copyright 2010, Jessie Carroll, Original recipe

If anyone tries this recipe, please let me know how it turns out for you!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


So my grandmother suggested I write a post on "balance." How to exercise, but not too much. Drink enough water, but not to the point where you have to pee every fifteen minutes. Eat healthy, but allow yourself some treats. And really, she's right. Health, like life, is all about maintaining a balance.
The following is a recipe I created after taking a TCM nutrition class. It is a "tonic" meaning it will mellow out excesses and replenish deficiencies, depending on what your body needs. I was puzzled for a long time as to what exactly a tonic was. What did it do, how did it work? Well, I've figured it out. They're amphoteric in nature, which means that whichever way your balance is off, too much or too little, the tonic will bring the system back into balance--kind of like putting two equal sized children on a see-saw.

Here is the recipe:

Vitalizing Quinoa-Black Bean Salad

This recipe can be used according to principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help restore the vitality of the kidney meridian, the source of all energy in the body. The black beans, quinoa, and salt are specific kidney tonics, and the spicy flavor improves circulation. Plus, it’s delicious.


1 cup red quinoa

1 1/2 cup water

1 ½ cup canned black beans, drained

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapenos

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons minced scallions

4 teaspoons lime juice

2 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Black pepper, to taste

Sea salt, to taste


1. Rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer under cool running water. In a saucepan, bring water to boil, add quinoa, cover, and simmer on low heat until all of the water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes. When finished cooking, remove from heat and allow to cool— uncovered—for 15 minutes.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, cilantro and scallions. Fold in beans, tomatoes, bell pepper and jalapeno. Add cooled quinoa, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Optional: garnish with lemon or lime wedges and cilantro springs.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Yield six 8-ounce servings

Copyright 2009, Jessie Carroll, Original recipe


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Common Cold

The common cold

Whenever I get sick, I like to make myself chicken soup. This is not, however, you average, run-of-the-mill, Campbell’s-style chicken soup. Mine will clear up symptoms overnight. I’ve made it for friends as well with wonderful results.

Chicken soup has long been held as a cold remedy. Combining my knowledge of Western botanical/herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) nutrition, and human biochemistry and physiology, I decided to make a more curative version of the classic recipe. The medicinal qualities of the ingredients are as follows:

Let’s start with chicken. As long as it is free-range and organic, and preferably grass-fed, you’ve got something good to work with. Personally, I only like to eat happy animals, and I define happy as being able to run around outside and eat it’s natural diet…which for chickens consists mainly of grass and bugs, and maybe some organic chicken feed. Chicken is a great source of protein, niacin (a B vitamin), selenium, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid (another B vitamin), and phosphorus. According to TCM, chicken builds energy and supports digestive function. Always rinse your chicken in cold water prior to cooking. However, some children (and adults) may have an allergy or sensitivity to chicken, so be sure to rule this out before feeding it to anyone.

Shitake mushrooms are one of the most popular immune system supportive foods in the world. I’ve heard of one woman here in the Pacific Northwest who cultivates shitakes and refers to them as here “health insurance policy.” Shitakes have been used medicinally for 6,000 years in China, and they are a symbol of longevity in East Asian countries. This tells me they work. Shitakes contain the polysaccharide lentinan, which stimulates the immune system to increase its infection-fighting power. They also contain selenium and other trace minerals necessary for proper cell function.

Lemon juice is the most concentrated and powerful form (naturally) of vitamin C, which we all know is quite beneficial when it comes to fighting infection. Always choose organic if you are going to be using the peel (which this recipe does) so that you don’t run the risk if ingesting pesticide residues. The outer part of the peel (the zest) contain volatile oils—which I’ll discuss in a minute—and the white, inner part of the peel contains a phytochemical called limonene, which has been shown to have anti-cancer activity. Since whole slices are used in this recipe, and softened by being cooked in the soup, you can eat the whole thing. Delicious.

Volatile oils are a plant’s immune system, and so we can use them to help our own. The majority are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-microbial in general. Parsley, thyme, basil, and lemon peel all contain high amounts of volatile oils. Thyme in particular is especially helpful and is specifically used medicinally to treat respiratory infections and bronchitis. It helps to relax the airways to make breathing easier, and to help clear any gunk from your lungs.

I like to “heat up” a “cold”, since I believe a big part of health is balance. That is why I include ginger, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. All four are considered “warming” herbs. Ginger aids digestion as well. Cumin has shown to be enhance the liver’s detoxification enzymes. Cayenne actually works as an anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Black pepper supports and enhances the detoxification actions of the liver as well, and it also dramatically increases the absorption of selenium and B vitamins.

And finally, there is garlic. Garlic is famous for its benefits to the immune system, especially when used fresh. For this soup, I mince a bunch of fresh garlic and add it at the very end after the soup has been removed from heat. This preserves most of its beneficial compounds that are lost during the cooking process. It stimulates digestion and increases circulation. Garlic is very high in vitamins and minerals, and is nicknamed “Russian penicillin” due to its excellent infection-fighting capacity.

References: Murray, M. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods & Tilgner, S. Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out:

Dr. Jessie's Healing Chicken Soup


2 breasts from a free-range, grass fed chicken, bone in, skin on and rinsed in cool water

filtered or distilled water

2 cubes vegetable bouillon

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

2 stalks celery, finely diced

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

6-10 medium shitake mushrooms, sliced

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (can substitute ½ teaspoon red chili flakes)

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup parsley, chopped

6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

½ cup fresh basil, chiffonade

5 lemon slices, sliced thin


1. Place chicken in a stockpot and add enough water to completely cover. Bring to almost a boil and then simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove chicken and set aside when cooked. Skim off any foam that has collected on water surface. Add bouillon, onion, carrot, celery, ginger, turmeric, cumin and peppercorns to water and bring to a boil.

3.When water has reached boiling, return to a simmer until vegetables are softened but not mushy, about 7 minutes.

4. Turn heat to low and add shitakes, stir and cover.

5. When chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove skin and discard, then remove meat from bone and discard the bones. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces, but do not add to soup just yet.

6. When vegetables are desired texture, reduce heat to low and add shitakes, stir and let sit for a minute, covered.

7. Add remaining ingredients (cayenne through lemon) and stir to incorporate ingredients.

8. Add chicken. Let soup rest over very low heat for another couple minutes, covered, then remove from heat. Let sit covered until cooled enough to eat. Serve and enjoy!

Total prep time: 90 minutes to 2 hours

Yield: a really large pot of soup ;)

Copyright 2010, Jessie Carroll, original recipe

As always, if you have any questions, want further explanation of the benefits of these foods, or just want to leave a comment…please feel free!