1 Cup of Love

1 Tbls of Creativity

A Dash of Eco-friendliness

Servings: The Whole Universe

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Sweeeet Yummy Yam Soup!

I'm finally posting this recipe (which some people have been requesting for quite some time).  This recipe I created is all vegan and organic.  It has a thick and hearty consistency and is very healthy, yummy and good for you. My husband describes it as "rustic yummyness" and is one of his favorte comfort foods. Which is why I had to include the word "yummy" in the name.  It's definitely one of those soups that are perfect for those Winter days.  And considering we're already into Spring, I'd better get this out for those still wanting to make it (before it gets too hot).  Good thing the nights are still chilly enough for soup.  But my husband, Dalmacio wanted to add that he thinks this soup is good anytime of the year!  As he puts it, "Comfort food is comfort food!"  :o)

So for all those patiently waiting and for those who have yet to hear about it, I'd like to introduce to you my:

(accompanied with Bread and Rosemary Garlic Butter)

Yield: Makes about 8 cups - approx 6-8 servings

2 1/2 lbs of Yams
1 Cup of Split Peas
1 Large Chopped Onion
3 Cloves of Minced Garlic
3 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Black Pepper and Salt to taste
5 Cups of Rice Milk (Soy milk or Almond Milk can be used also)
Vegan Sour Cream or Soy Yogurt
2 Tbls of Chopped Chives

Rosemary Garlic Butter:
1 Cup of Vegan Earth Balance Butter
2 Clove of minced garlic
1 Sprig of fresh Rosemary

Loaf of French bread or even Focaccia bread is yummy with this soup.

Cook the split peas in water for about 40-50 minutes or until tender.  It's also best to soak the split peas overnight.  While the split peas are simmering, cut the yams in big cubes.  Chop the onion and garlic (put aside about 2 Tbls of garlic for the Rosemary Garlic spread).  Pull the Rosemary off of 3 sprigs.  Add the ingredients to a casserole dish and preheat the oven at 425 degrees.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of Bragg's Liquid Aminos along with the rest of the ingredients until all is mixed together well.  For those unfamiliar with Bragg's - this is a healthy, wheat-free non-GMO alternative to soy sauce.  Cook in the oven for approximately 30-45 minutes or until tender.

While both the split peas and yam mixture are cooking, prepare the Rosemary Garlic butter.  Pull the rosemary off of one sprig and cut into small pieces.  Take the left over minced garlic (2 tablespoons) and mix well with the Vegan Earth Balance butter and put aside.

Once the split peas and yam mixture are cooked, take some of the peas and some of the yam mixture and put into a blender (all of the ingredients might not fit in your blender so you may have to do a couple of rounds to this step).  Add 1-2 cups of rice milk and blend until smooth.  Pour into an empty pot.  Then take the rest of the peas and yam mixture and 1-2 cups more of rice milk and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the pot.  Add the rest of the rice milk to create the consistency of thickness or thinness to the soup that you desire.  Add pepper and salt to taste.

Wrap the bread in foil and put in the oven to warm for about 5-10 minutes (depending on how crispy you like you're bread).  Cut the bread into slices and smother the yummy Rosemary Garlic butter on top. 

Serve the soup in bowls.  Top it with a dollop of vegan sour cream or soy yogurt and sprinkle some chives on top.  Add the bread to the side and you've got yourself a yummy, fuzzy warm dinner! 

Of course the best ingredients are organic, local ingredients. We like to shop at our local Sherman Oaks Farmer's Market on Tuesday evenings.  Not only do you get organic produce without all the icky pesticides but you're also supporting the local farms, as well as local companies, such as soy candles, clothes made from organic wool and organic Korean tofu bbq, just to name a few of the pluses with shopping at Farmer's Markets.  Which by the way ties in very well with my theme of things that are made with Eco Love!  We definitely look forward to these nights as fun, family time (especially now that the sun is out later and the days are becoming warmer).  Last week, because I couldn't find any yams, I went with sweet potatoes instead. Although the soup was still yummy, it was a little too sweet for my taste. It also didn't have that nice, rustic orange/gold look or taste to it.  Plus, if it's made with sweet potato then it would have to be called Sweet Yummy Potato Soup and well to tell you the truth, it just doesn't have as good of a ring like Sweeeet Yummy Yam Soup does! :o)

I thought I'd add a picture of the soup I made last week with the sweet potato so you can see the difference between the 2 colors of the soup (the one pic posted earlier is with the yams).  Plus I served the soup on one of my favorite soup bowls so thought "Heck!  Why not show this pic". 

So I hope you enjoy my Sweeeet Yummy Yam soup!  There will be plenty more recipes that I'd like to share in the future...especially now that my diet isn't as restricted anymore because this mama loves to create in the kitchen!  God I love food!  And it doesn't get any better than organic, healthy food that's for sure!  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What We Eat is Who We Are!

Q: So what's even better than store-bought organic baby food in a jar?  A: Organic HOMEMADE baby food in a jar!  I gotta tell you, providing organic homemade food for our son just makes me feel so good inside.  Knowing that Andrik is getting the best and most nutritious food without worrying what is in the baby food means alot to my husband and I.  And yeah having a Vitamix industrial blender definitely helped!!  LOL

Knowing what Andrik is eating is very important to us.  Shoot, what we eat ourselves is very important to us!  I'd say before Andrik came along that Dalmacio and I ate pretty healthy.  Although fast food had been taken out of my diet for years (Alright - I hate to admit it, but the occasional order of french fries from McDonald's would be ordered on the way home coming from a club - ya know to soak up the alcohol!).  BUT besides the occasional french fries, I did however feel that we were pretty healthy.  But I also definitely knew there was room to grow and learn about eating healthier.  I was a vegetarian (had even stopped eating seafood until I was pregnant) and always ate free-range eggs (refused to eat eggs at restaurants because I knew they weren't free range) but I guess the Universe had other plans for me to become even more aware of what I was putting into my body.  And that day came when I found out I was pregnant.  From about 2 months into my pregnancy until now, my diet had drastically changed. 

A couple of days after finding out I was pregnant from a home pregnancy test (8 weeks preggo to be exact), I made an appointment to see an OB/Gyn.  She claimed to be holistic but there was definitiely nothing holistic about this woman.  I could feel the fakeness seeping through her pores as she tried to force a smile towards Dalmacio and I.  I think it's because all along I told her we were planning on a having a home birth but wanted to see her a few times (just to see how far along I was pregnant and well to tell you the truth, we hadn't interviewed any midwives yet and were still new at all this).  She told me I had to take a couple of tests because I was a "high risk" pregnancy due to my age (I was 35 at the time).  Of course at that time, I followed suit because well I just didn't know any better.  I had no idea what the test was for because well I guess I didn't ask enough questions and she basically just didn't give us enough information.  Of course nowadays, man, you tell me something to do and you better believe I have questions to ask!  And my own research to do - hey, ya gotta be in order to be well educated on the things that matter most to your baby and your family!

Ok so back to that dreaded day of that test I had to take.  It was a glucose test to be exact - to see how much sugar intake I have.  This was to be a very important test little did I know - one that would determine if I can have a home birth or not (thank God the first test was just a pre-screening test for the actual one that I would end up taking at 28 weeks pregnant!).  The reason for this test is to see if you're baby has Gestational Diabetes.  If you don' t pass the second glucose test, you unfortunately have to have a hospital birth and this was not an option for me!  I was determined to have a home birth!

But before I knew all this pertinent information, the weekend before I took the pre-screening test was my sister, Vivi's birthday party - where there was lots of yummy sweet treats for me to eat.  Hey I was pregnant and well the only thing that seemed palatable to me at the time was fruit and sweets (which was very abnormal for me because I was definitely not a sweet tooth).  Anyways to make a long story short, after downing that disgusting sugar drink (it's like a really, really, really sweet soda that has gone flat) and having my blood taken, I unfortunately failed by 1 point.  The upsetting thing (at the time) was that the Ob/Gyn made me take this test 20 weeks too early!  As mentioned above, normally you're supposed to take this test at 28 weeks pregnant, not 8 weeks pregnant where you're eating habits are out of wack!  But again thankfully it was only a pre-screening test!

Soon after, we began our search with interviewing midwives and thus my diet had to change.  Every midwife that we interviewed said the same thing, I was not allowed to have anymore sugar for the rest of my pregnancy.  Which also meant no pasta, no rice, no potatoes, no nothing!  Let's just say I ate alot of quinoa, vegetables, nuts, and fish.  For sweets, I was only allowed to have berries but any other type of fruit, such as bananas or pears or apples was a no-no!  I thought I'd be fine with this because heck, I didn't like sweets anyways so why should it matter to me, right?  Wrong!!  You know the saying "You always want what you can't have?" - well suddenly sweets became the one thing I craved!  Ice cream, cheese cake, mashed potatoes (ok so mashed potatoes aren't sweet but I still couldn't have it)...sigh...

But hey if the Universe wanted me to learn to be healthier, it was working!  Because I was pretty darn healthy at this point that's for sure!  In the end, when I had to take the test again at 28 weeks to ensure that I can have a home birth, I passed with flying colors!  But it wasn't a pleasant experience.  I thought the first test was bad but this time around, not only did I have to drink that nasty, overly sweet sugar drink again but I had to get blood taken from me 3 times - which meant no eating before the test with a sugar high that made me feel like I was on crack for the next 3-4 hours!  Mine as well have injected me with the stuff so I wouldn't have to taste it!  You can imagine how hard I crashed after that!  Poor Lil Munchkin must've been like "Oh this thing again!"  But even though I was upset at first for the mistake of taking the test too early and having to take this awful test AGAIN, surprisingly I'm actually very grateful for that experience.  So I have the Ob/Gyn to thank for making me take this test too early - because if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been more cautious of what I was eating during my pregnancy.  Everything truly does happen for a reason.

But I think the Universe still felt there was more for me to learn because I was once again led down this path towards a restricted diet or shall we say Elimination Diet (which is not to be confused with Elimination Communication - which to me is a much more delightful experience!)... LOL :o)

I'd say Andrik was about 5 months old when we noticed his cloth diapers had a discoloration to them.  It was a light salmon-colored spotting each time he went pee.  Of course I called our pediatrician and also did some research online.  Everything I found on salmon-colored spotting said the same thing: that it could be crystallized urine from being dehydrated or perhaps a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection).  So for the next month we did test after test (blood tests, urine tests, stool tests) but nothing showed up for either of those things or anything for that matter.  This was definitely a stressful time for us because 2 Pediatricians and several clinics could not determine what was the issue.  Thankfully my step-mom, Tutti reminded me to not think of something as "wrong" with Andrik.  To change my perspective and truly see him as perfect, whole and complete, as well as, surround him and the situation with LOVE. And true indeed, after shifting our thoughts (a.k.a. fear), Dalmacio and I felt the shift of how we were treating each other, as well.  Something as stressful as this could definitely put extra hardship on the relationship (and on top of that, being new parents AND being newly sober was definitely taking its toll)!

So even though we had shifted our energy to love, we still had to figure out the cause.  So since the doctors couldn't find anything, we decided to let our Naturopathic pediatrican know that we were also going to see an NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) Specialist to dig deeper.  So we went to an awesome NET specialist who did muscle-testing on Andrik and soon found out that he was having an allergic reaction to the foods I was eating.  Which, by the way, the main culprit was - drum roll please, cheese and corn.  To my dismay because I LOVED cheese!  But it made sense though because I was eating cheese like it was going out of style!

So if this was the cause then I knew I had to take it out of my diet.  The NET specialist also suggested I remove all Nightshade Veggies (which meant no more tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, or any type of pepper for that matter, as well as, cayenne seasoning).  I was a little heart broken to say the least but this was for the sake of my son's health so it didn't matter to me.  I soon decided to also take out wheat and gluten, as well since that is considered a high allergen.  And then soon soy/tofu products also went on that restricted list, as well.  I know, I know -  it's beginning to sound like my diet would consist of air and water, right?  Oh just wait - it gets better. Soon my pediatrician suggested I go on an elimination diet.  Um, wasn't I already on one?  But apparently I wasn't.  So for the next month I ONLY ate organic white rice and organic steamed veggies (yes, this is what I ate for breakfast, lunch AND dinner).  Eating that for a few days would make a person go crazy - try a whole month!!

Some mothers would ask me "Why not just give Andrik formula so you don't have to go through all this"?  But that was not an option because I wanted my son to have the healthiest milk with the best vitamins and nutrients (and formula certainly wouldn't win over my yummy, organic breastmilk)!  Besides all the amazing benefits of breastmilk, it's FREE and eco-friendly (no need to dispose of the containers or to travel to get the formula - not to mention the carbon footprint of the formula being delivered to the store)!  Plus, if he was having digestion issues with whatever I was eating, there could be a number of further issues he may have acquired from the synthetic formula!  There was just too many great benefits that came with my milk that I wanted to give to my son than me thinking of my own selfish desires!  Thankfully I received alot of support during this time from my husband, family and other mothers because although again grateful for the experience, it was not an easy one. 

Anyways, eventually the spotting went away.  And I was then slowly but surely able to re-introduce foods into my diet to see if we noticed anymore spotting and if we did, then the new food I re-introduced we would then know was something I couldn't eat (at least for the next 6 months until we tried that food again). It was a slow and painful re-introduction though.  For instance, one day I would re-introduce black pepper but then would have to wait 2 days to see if he got an allergic reaction in his diaper before I could try, let's say basil the 3rd day and so on and so on.  This process lingered I'd say for a good 2 months.  I do have to say though that what I ate was truly, very healthy!!  Quinoa and organic produce became a staple in our household.  Thank God for the supplements, prenatal vitamins and the Complete Whole Food shake I was able to take to receive a balance of nutrients for my son and I.  And I have to admit, I looked great (weighed less than what I was before I was pregnant) and felt great physically.  That was definitely a plus to this elmination diet that's for sure! :o)

Also, I guess you could also say I was practicing for when I would introduce solid foods to Andrik.  So by the time we did introduce solids, I had that whole process down!  LOL But of course, for Andrik it took some getting used to.  Although I love breastfeeding Andrik (and still plan to for however long I can), I knew that eventually I would have to get him started on solid foods one day.   

We wanted to make sure that this whole allergic reaction had been eliminated before starting him on solids.  So we waited until he was 8 months old.  I probably would've waited longer but our pediatrican wanted Andrik to gain more weight (he was under his weight percentile).  Anyways, the first food he tried was avocado and boy did he not like that.  Then we tried sweet potato and then carrots and he wasn't digging these either.  So far our introduction was beginning to feel like an end...until Cody came into our lives and helped us (an amazing nanny turned Parent Coach trained in RIE).  I remember that day!  Ahhh it was a blessed day in deed!  We started with steamed green beans that day.  We took the green beans and added a little bit of the steamed water (since it has the nutrients of the green beans in it) and blended it in our Vitamix.  We had let it cool down a bit and fed him his first bite and voila!  He loved it.  I don't know - perhaps it was the shift of energy surrounding the food that made a food lover out of him!?  :o)

Oh another important tip that Cody gave us was to first start Andrik off with green veggies only (i.e. green beans, zuchinni, peas, avocado, etc) and then later introduce other colored veggies and then fruits.  The reason to wait on the fruits was because of its sweetness.  She also mentioned that many parents think that yams are a great food to introduce but in fact it's too sweet (like dessert sweet) for babies taste buds.  The reason behind this belief is that once you introduce the sweet foods, it can be a challenge for kids to eat their veggies in the long run (thus creating picky eaters).  So she suggested when I introduced the veggies that Andrik didn't particular care for, to introduce for at least 15 days.  It didn't mean he had to eat it for 15 days if he didn't like it, just offer it.  Eventually within those 15 days, he would start to like it.  And sure enough when I did this process with him, every green veggie I gave him, he liked.  So for any parents out there that has toddlers that are picky with their veggies, try this process (without forcing them to eat it - it has to be a positive, nonchalant act of offering it to them for 15 days straight).  Every toddler she has done this process with has never been a picky eater afterwards!  And after my own experience with Andrik, I'm a true believer!  Which is why if you read about Andrik's 1st Green Birthday is why I waited a year to introduce banana to him as his "birthday cake".

So as you can see, this past year has definitely had its challenges when it comes to food (or lack of, shall I say?).  But the true fact is WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!  And now I do my best to provide only organic and healthy products for my household at all times (even more so than before)!  Once again, I have to say all the experiences Andrik and I have had to partake, I am truly grateful for.  Because of these series of events, my family is much more healthier and conscious of what goes into our bodies.

Oh and just in case you're curious, I do eat potatoes here and there and wheat too but I still don't eat cheese/dairy or corn. It's a wise choice because cheese and fructose are really not that great for our bodies anyways (neither is wheat but I do my best to only eat it once or twice a week). Oh and I don't eat tomatoes still - only because it's too acidic for the breast milk.  Hey, if we are what we eat then why would I eat something that could potentially upset Andrik's tummy?  God knows I did enough of that with the cheese and corn!  ;o) So when moms are amazed at the fact that I make Andrik's homemade food instead of buying store bought - well they would be even more amazed at what I have sacrificed when it comes to food!  Making Andrik's organic homemade food is actually a breeze compared to what we both have had to endure in his first year!

Phew....With all this talk about food, I'm getting hungry!  LOL :o)

So to end this post, keep coming back to my blog to read up on some yummy organic eats because this family loves to cook and I'd love to share some recipes! Thank God I can start creating some love in the kitchen again!  And yep, you better believe our food is definitely Made With Love!!  Oh and of course the left overs get put in a recycled Earth Balance butter spread container.  How's that for some "green" love?!!  :o)