Healthy Spring Minestrone

by Barbara Mendez, RPh, MS on April 21, 2014

Happy Monday everyone!

What a beautiful weekend we just had in NYC! Sunny, blue skies, with a lovely chill in the air, especially in the mornings and in the evenings… the perfect weather for a springtime soup.

The most amazing vegetables come into season in the Spring. Asparagus, dandelion, peas to name a few… Asparagus are great for liver and kidney health and dandelion is wonderful for detoxification. Combining them all into an aromatic minestrone seemed like just the thing to have these past few nights to take the chill off.

In today’s Motivational Monday I am going to show you how to make a delicious spring Minestrone that takes just minutes to prepare. All you’ll need are a few seasonal vegetables, rice pasta and broth and you’ll have dinner in minutes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. One you watch the video, I’d love to hear from you… What is YOUR favorite Spring vegetable? And what’s your preferred way to prepare it? I’d love to hear what’s cooking in your kitchen :)

Have a great Monday and a wonderful start to your week!
xo
B

Recipe

Ingredients

Make 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 small scallions (or 4 medium), sliced thin (whites and pale green parts)
  • 2 large garlic bulbs, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup diced asparagus
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup dandelion greens, chopped
  • 2 cups assorted baby greens (kale, chard, spinach), chopped
  • 1-15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked rice pasta
  • 1 1/2 Quart of broth (vegetable or chicken work well)
  • 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

  • Minced chives
  • Minced basil
  • Sun-dried tomato or basil pesto

Directions

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and scallions, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano and cook until scallions have softened and garlic and herbs are fragrant. Add zucchini and asparagus and cook about 4 minutes. Add broth and garbanzo beans and simmer about 10 minutes. Add peas and leafy greens and simmer another minute. Add pasta and turn off heat. Let stand for about 15 minutes to let flavors meld, adjust salt and pepper and then serve with any of the garnishes above.

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Spring Detox: Putting it into Practice!

by Barbara Mendez, RPh, MS on April 14, 2014

Happy Spring everyone!

After a very l-o-n-g and snowy winter, spring is here, though at times it feels like it’s in a death match with winter. Mornings and evenings are still chilly, but the warmth of the sun is finding it’s way between the clouds.

As the weather began to change, I felt myself slowly emerging from my cocoon. In total hibernation mode these months, I found inspiration in front of the fire, mining the well of creativity for my book. These days though, I want to get out more, go hiking and start engaging with friends again. Where winter is introverted, spring is extroverted. What I began to cultivate in the peaceful quiet of winter, I want to bring more fully to life with the energetic essence of spring. My body though, was still in winter mode so I decided to do a little spring cleaning.

I enjoyed loads of homemade soups and stews and even a few scones this winter. Cooking and baking were great creative outlets for the writing. These wonderful few months gave me the opportunity to create the foundation for what I want the remainder of the year to be about, which is to steep myself in writing and that which most moves me. It’s been a slower, more reflective time.

As the weather warmed, looking to feel more engaged and energized, I decided that detoxing my body was the fastest way to get me there.

In Chinese medicine, spring is the time of renewal and regeneration. It is also associated with the element of wood and the organ systems that correspond to this are the liver and gallbladder, the body’s main organs of detoxification. It is vitally important to your overall well-being to keep these two organs in top health in order to look and feel your best. Detoxing in spring is an optimal way to help you achieve that.

Rather than embarking on a 5-day juice fast, which I know is not enough nutrition to get me through long days in a focused and productive way, I decided to put together a cleanse of my own based on the information I know to be true. I’d rather engage in detoxing habits for a month or more than a quick-fix that will leave me feeling depleted and hungry, setting me up to overeat when the five days have passed.

In last year’s Spring Detox video, I discussed principles to follow when endeavoring to cleanse. Since I am already in the habit of avoiding wheat, dairy, sugar and refined and processed foods, for me the detox was about honing my diet. Rather than black tea in the morning, which is my favorite way to start the day in the winter, I switched to lemon juice in warm water followed by green tea. Additionally, I eliminated all alcohol and grains. I also increased my fresh juice consumption from one quart a day to two and rather than a soup for lunch, I have a detox smoothie. Dinner is a hearty salad dressed with flax dressing that allows me to include loads more vegetables into my diet, focusing on arugula, avocado, asparagus and cruciferous vegetables, all excellent for liver health. Sometimes I’ll have asparagus soup instead. The fiber in the veggies help with eliminating toxins that are being released into my gastrointestinal tract.

I’ve also upped the ante on my workouts. During the winter I maintained a 3-day a week running schedule and the occasional Physique 57 class. Now I am working out every day. Whether it’s a run, a class, or a core and arm workout, I make myself sweat every day because in doing so, I am eliminating even more toxins through my skin. What keeps me motivated for these daily routines is my trek to Annapurna Base Camp in October. I am officially in training!

Two weeks in, I feel amazing! Admittedly, the first week was rough and I struggled with classic detox symptoms such as mild headaches, mood changes and fluctuating energy levels. But now I feel like I could run the Annapurna circuit! After I crossed the hump, it was as though my body unleashed all the trapped energy of winter, helping me feel rejuvenated and renewed…just like spring itself.

If you feel your energy is still in winter-mode, then you may want to consider a cleanse of your own. Start with the suggestions in the Spring Detox video and see how that feels. Remember though, if you have any medical conditions or are on any medications, discuss any radical change in your diet with your health care provider.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Are you detoxing this spring? If so, what are YOUR detox habits? And how you are feeling as you move through the process? Please share your experience with me in the comments below.

Have a great week everyone! Stay happy and well! And enjoy the spring!
xo
B

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