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Mineral-rich Vegetable Broth (and Miso Soup)

The recipe I am sharing with you this week is almost always in my freezer, my clients’ freezers and simmering in my slow cooker. It is not always exactly the same, depending on what I have on hand and what I am using it for, but it is always filled with vitamins and minerals, easy to consume and very diverse.

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It is a vegetable stock, but even better. It’s made with lots of mineral-rich sea vegetables, the aromatic and powerful members of the allium family (onions, leek, garlic), the anti-inflammatory rhizome dream team (ginger and turmeric), immune-boosting shitake mushroom stems (you know, the part we sometimes throw out…), and of course, lots of clean, hydrating water.

I might be making this up, but I feel like ‘stock’ is a base to be made into something else (soup, sauce, stew) whereas ‘broth’ can be enjoyed as it is. This recipe can be both. On its own, with the help of a pinch of salt (and some turmeric –activating black pepper), it is a clean, flavourful, hydrating way to sip your nutrients. Especially when you might be going through a time when eating food and drinking water is not your favourite thing to do.

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Banana Bread with Dried Plums

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When we become more conscious of what food does to our body, especially when we are in search of wellness, we tend to cut out a lot of old favourites. Choosing a long and healthy life over your famous mac ’n’ cheese or coffee and muffin routine is an easy choice, right? For many, it is at first, but food also brings us comfort and conjures up fond memories, and it is hard to let this all go, long term. And then if we temporarily fall off the wagon, the guilt and visualization of the delicious buffet that you have just set up for your cancer cells, really doesn’t help anybody.

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For this reason, from time to time, I am going to include a healthier alternative to something we might be missing from our lives, to keep us from feeling the guilt, and to help us to create new, fond food memories. New soul food, if you will.

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Tomato & Fennel Soup

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When I think of comfort food, I think of tomatoes. I am a quarter Lebanese by blood and about 2/3 Lebanese when it comes to food obsessions. Although we are third generation Canadian, my sisters and I grew up embracing all things tomato, parsley, mint and lemon. For a special treat, my Mom would make stuffed grapevine leaves (we would help roll) baked in a tomato sauce, served with a classic tabouli salad. If it was just the four of us and our Mom for the night, she would often make the very most epic ratatouille with chick peas, finished with a healthy squeeze of lemon and some parsley for dinner. When we were sick, naturally, we got tomato soup.

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Perhaps this is why I gravitate towards tomatoes when planning menus for clients who are unwell. It doesn’t hurt that tomatoes are also one of the richest sources of the antioxidant, lycopene, which is well known for its cancer fighting and preventing abilities. The lycopene is actually more abundant in cooked tomatoes than in raw, so a slow-simmered tomato soup is especially healing.

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Cherry Season, 3 Ways

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When certain fruits or vegetable come into season, underneath all of the welcome back party feelings, a part of me starts to panic. It’s a bit like when you start worrying about going home on the first day of your vacation. What if I don’t get the chance to take full advantage of it before it leaves us again for another year?!

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(A cherry pitter, although niche, is indispensable for the short cherry-filled weeks. They also work for pitting most olives.)

The summer is full of this strange, delicious seasonal produce anxiety. I find the only way to remedy it is to properly roll around in the local bounty. Eat lots of it as is, while you transform the rest into culinary creations to be appreciated both later that day and later that month, when it has abruptly stopped showing up to the farmers markets.

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