Practical, healthful eating and living.

Life Progress: Nutrition, Kohlrabi, Gluten Free Body November 8, 2013

KohlrabiI tried a new food today; kohlrabi. It was amazing. First, I sliced a tray full and roasted thin slices of kohlrabi in olive oil. But I still had a lot left. So then I made a cream of kohlrabi soup. Amazing.

Two things led up to this adventure.

The first is that I enrolled in a college nutrition course. This is THE best investment I have ever made in my health. After twenty-plus years of blank stares from doctors when I was first struggling with the symptoms of gluten sensitivity, not knowing the cause, and then another five years of blank stares after letting doctors know that I can’t handle gluten, I have made life-changing breakthroughs that solve a lot of mysteries.

Vitamin A for eyes? You need to eat things like carrots and butternut or acorn squash with a little fat, or else your body can’t absorb it. Noticed your eyesight deteriorating lately? You might want to try having a few extra carrots w/ olive-oil based salad dressing, or squash with a pat of butter on top.

One key variable I learned about is that if your body isn’t handling gluten, then the mechanisms that absorb all the other nutrients are essentially blocked, shut down, wilted, rendered useless with regard to absorbing other nutrients.

Had a few bloody noses lately? When you get a paper cut do you spout like a fountain? Vitamin K is essential to helping blood clot. It’s so essential that newborns get a shot of vitamin K right away when they’re born. If they didn’t get it, and got a minor cut, they could bleed to death. Go ahead, check it out.
That’s what my college nutrition book says, and I believe it. Why? Because unstoppable flowing blood has been around in my world for quite a while.

None of these things ever get connected when I talk to doctors. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to be your own detective, and take charge of your own health.

So kohlrabi. The other motive behind kohlrabi is that I hear Lynn Rosetto Casper recommend it on a radio show this week. She gave some tips on how to use it: mashed with butter like potatoes, roasted, or in a cream based soup.

Finally, in my nutrition class, I learned that variety is key. I’m inclined to fall into ruts. I’ll eat the same thing everyday for months before I get sick of it. But my nutrition class encourages variety. Not just seasonally, but daily, too.

So I’ve started branching out. I’ve started taking risks. I’ve started bringing home one new fruit or vegetable from the store each week.

Since I’ve begun, I’ve discovered blackstrap molasses for calcium, cocoa nibs for antioxidants, increased my fish and flaxseed for omega-3s, and gone on a few adventures.


1 cup chopped onion
1-2 stalks of chopped celery
1 kohlrabi root, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
2-3 tablespoons butter*
4 cups broth of your choice
1/4 cup corn starch
salt and pepper to taste

Melt a little butter in a soup pot. (Butter is making a comeback, it’s not as bad for you as was once thought.)

Saute the onion and celery for a few minutes.
Add the cornstarch and stir to make a roux. ( A pasty sort of mix of the butter and cornstarch. Cornstarch is gluten free. Most traditional recipes use wheat flour.)

Add the kohlrabi chunks. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and stir well to mix the broth with the butter/corn starch mixture.

Cover and heat until boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender. Please be careful with the hot liquids! You can let the soup cool a bit. It won’t hurt.

Once blended, return to the stove and add about 1-2 cups of milk or cream. (Remember, fat helps your body absorb the great nutrients in kohlrabi, which is a good source of Vitamin A. (That’s good for your eyesight!)

Heat until warm, but do not boil. Boiling ruins a cream-based soup, so I’m told by the “Joy of Cooking.”

Taste for seasonings. Maybe top with a little freshly ground pepper. Garnish with chopped green onion or parsely, if you like.

Hint: When you bring home fresh herbs, green onion or bunches of parsley, chop it all up right away and store it in a covered container in the fridge. It’s SO handy for adding to eggs, sauces, pizza, salad, you name it. Just do it. You’ll be glad.

*Butter — a lot of chefs will say that when making a milk based dish, butter enhances the flavor better than other options like olive oil. Suit yourself, but butter is making a comeback. It’s also a source of Vitamin D. Finally, stop and consider whether you feel full and more satisfied (thus eating less) when you eat something with a little normal, natural fat in it. I know I do.

That’s it!


Ukrainian Gazpacho July 18, 2010

If you didn’t grow up eating Eastern European food, you might be skeptical of beets.  I find my self longing for them around this time of year.  Recommended for potassium and iron, beets are versatile and fairly easy to handle.  They may be roasted, grated raw into salads, or become the base of a comforting soup.  Every autumn, I set aside a special weekend just for making borscht.  In July, however, I look to beets to cool me down and restore nutrients lost to hot, steamy weather.

Here is a beautiful, 5-minute chilled soup that might become the first thing you reach for after an hour of Bikram yoga.


1 can of chopped or sliced beets (drained), or 2-3 chopped cooked beets (about 2 cups).

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 tablespoon minced scallions or chives

salt to taste

finely chopped cucumber (optional)

In a blender or food processor, combine the beets, apple juice and buttermilk.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or storage container and stir in the dill and scallions or chives.  At this point, if you have just returned, famished, from yoga, go ahead and have some!  Or, allow the soup to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Add salt to taste and top with finely chopped cucumber (optional).

Anything with beets, I find, gets even better the second day.  Feel free to double this recipe in order to keep this on hand for quick snacks throughout the week.

From: “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites” by The Moosewood Collective


What I’m Eating Now – Tomato Soup + O-Shaped Pasta March 27, 2009

Filed under: What I'm eating now — beansandyoga @ 1:50 pm
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Fighting a cold, the lingering of frosty weather, and icy rain, I am finding comfort in tomato soup this week.  I bought a 32-ounce tetra pack of Trader Joe’s soup, from which I poured one microwavable serving at a time, storing the rest in the fridge.

Trader Joe’s O-shaped pasta brought back images of childhood spaghettios, so I boiled water, cooked a batch that was large enough for a few days, and added the pasta to my soup as I went.

Other additions?  Frozen peas, today.  A little dill on another day.  A melted cheese quesadilla made the perfect accompaniment on yet another day.  Yes, when soup is this satisfying I really DO want to eat it all the time.  At least for a while.


Moroccan Coconut & Chickpea Soup March 2, 2009

Filed under: Easy food prep,Recipes — beansandyoga @ 12:43 pm
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photo_030109_002My favorite form of online entertainment is to peruse food blogs.  I stumbled across one called, “Karina’s Kitchen,” several weeks ago.  A recipe for Moroccan coconut and chickpea soup has been safely posted in my bookmarks ever since.

A mixture of coconut milk, peppers, Granny Smith apples, lime, curry and cinnamon, it is bubbling on the stove as I write.  Click through from the links above for the recipe.  Here are a few tips.

Curry powder: I love Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder.

Chickpeas: Last week, I realized I had a cup or so sitting on my shelf.  I threw them into a bowl, let them soak overnight, and while I was reading the paper and having coffee on a Sunday, I let them boil merrily on the stove.  When they were soft, into the freezer they went, with a bit of broth to keep them insulated.

This might seem like an intimidating recipe, but don’t be afraid to use a red pepper in place of the yellow one.  I did not have the wherewithall to get the exact same type of canned tomatoes suggested in the recipe, but a stew like this, I’ve found, tends to be forgiving.

If you are a meat person, chunks of cooked chicken would add nicely to the stew.

Footnote:  Whew!  This soup was just what I needed!  I’ve gone through three bowls already.

One last tip: I added salt a bit at a time, tasting as I went.  I ended up adding A LOT of salt!  Don’t be discouraged if the soup seems a tiny bit flat at first.  Just keep adding a little salt at a time, or perhaps more lime juice.  Once you hit the flavor zone, the soup is divine.


In the Freezer February 18, 2009

Filed under: Easy food prep,Uncategorized — beansandyoga @ 5:35 pm
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frozen-peasEveryone has staples they keep on hand.  Most of mine are in the freezer.  Here’s a peek:

Veggies: peas, broccoli, edamame, corn, spinach and whatever else sounds good.

Fruit: raspberries or strawberries



Shredded cheese: Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar and Colby-Jack

Left-overs: slices from home-made roast beef or roasted chicken.  Just thaw in the microwave to add to a salad, soup or sandwich.

Soups, Rice & Re-fried beans: home-made and stored in 3-cup/24 oz. containers.

Chopped onions: Recipes often call for chopped onion, but may not always require an entire onion.  I chop the entire onion, and place the extra in a Ziploc bag.  It freezes beautifully and then when I want just a handful for an omelet, it’s ready to go.  When cooking frozen onions, omit the oil at the beginning or you’ll have a splatter.  Once the onions have thawed in the pan and appear to be sauteing nicely, you can add a teaspoon or so of oil as needed for your recipe.


Back to Work – Easy Lunches January 5, 2009

Filed under: Easy food prep,Energy — beansandyoga @ 7:19 pm
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One of the easiest ways I’ve found to make lunch for work is to “build my own soup.” I mix frozen vegetables with a basic soup.  It’s easy to carry, and I can keep it in either the fridge or the freezer.  When I’m ready to eat, I pop it into the microwave.  I’m not a fan of microwaving in plastic, so I do keep a few dishes at work.  I find that if I have a bowl and plate, then I can put the plate on top of the bowl to prevent splattering inside the microwave.

If I know that I have to make enough lunches for a week, I make four at a time.  I keep mine in the freezer, and grab a new one each morning.

Why build my own soup rather than take a can of pre-made soup?  I find that canned soup vegetables are mushy.  This way, the vegetables seem fresher.  This also allows me to be more in sync with what I really feel like having.  If I have options in the freezer, I can add them as I like.  It costs less than buying separate cans of soup.  I can add as much protein as I like, which helps keep me full through the afternoon.  And to be honest, I get tired of the standard flavors.

Crackers?  Easy enough to keep a box at work.


1 32 oz. package of soup  (I like Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Tomato)

1/4 – 1/2 cup frozen vegetables, such as corn, green beans, kale, carrots or sweet potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions:

  • Shredded rotisserie chicken (Shred into pieces and freeze, then use as needed.)
  • Sliced sausage
  • Cooked black beans (Beans are also easy to freeze.  Spread on a tray, then once frozen, switch them to the container of your choice.  This way, they are available as needed, rather than having to use a whole batch at once.)
  • Slices of roast beef or steak
  • 1/4 cup of cooked rice or noodles  (If you don’t like to make your own rice, it’s often available in the frozen foods section at Trader Joe’s.  I make a big batch and freeze it into small containers that last me a few days at a time.)

Container: 1& 3/4 cup/14 oz. Glad or Ziploc bowl