Whenever I finish cooking for a client (their treatment is over and they are starting to feel better) we often have a conversation about how they are going to keep up the nutrient-dense way of eating on their own (without a chef).
My first recommendation is always juices and smoothies. I don’t have a ton of recipes on here for either (well, some, here and here) because it seems like such a simple thing to figure out on your own (is it? Should I have more?), but it is truly one of the best ways to ensure a good volume and variety of nutrients. You don’t need a lot of skill and you can consume 3-5 lbs of veg in a glass of juice and all kinds of hard-to-include-in-your-regular-diet super foods in a smoothie.
Those options are both raw, which is a good thing in many different ways, but it can require some balance as the cooler months come into play. Some good soup recipes can be useful, as soup is warming, nutrient-dense, savory and satisfying on many levels. It’s a bit like a cooked smoothie, offering lots of veggies, but with fewer nutrients that don’t do well in the heat and more nutrients that expand and multiply with some heat, so it literally brings something different and balancing to the table.
On a basic level, what I recommend after the raw juices and smoothies, are some good soup recipes to keep on hand. They take a little more skill than a smoothie, but not that much, and they are very forgiving and easy to fix if you screw up. One of the best parts? They are almost always freezer-friendly so you can make a big batch, divide it into portions (in glass, freezer-proof containers or jars) for one or more people depending on who is usually eating with you.
If you have a slow cooker, you don’t even have to be awake (or home!) while it’s cooking. If you don’t like the smell of food filtering through your house for 12-24 hours (nauseous people or my husband) plug it in on your bathroom counter, turn the bathroom fan on and close the door.
Soup usually tastes even better on day 2 or 3 after the ingredients mellow into each other, so when you pull it out of the freezer it will taste at least as good as it did going in, if not better. If you make a different batch every week or so, eventually you’ll have choices. Now, if you have friends drop in to visit, you have flavourful meal options (by anyone’s standards) in case they stay for a long time and you start wondering if they would be cool with a green smoothie for dinner or if you should order them a pizza.
Some tips to keep things exciting in your frozen soup relationship: once defrosted (to defrost, I put into a pot: ½ c of water, the block of soup and a lid on top on med/low heat, adding more water if necessary) add a big handful of greens (kale, spinach, chopped broccoli, napa cabbage, Swiss chard) or herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, tarragon, oregano) at the very end. Garnish it with avocado slices, some coconut yoghurt, chick pea croutons, a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime or any leftover cooked beans or grains from your fridge. This will keep it from getting boring; a really important thing when you’re lovingly making food for yourself in advance.
I’ve said it before but it’s worth mentioning again -this is a really nice thing to do for someone who is under the weather. Make a big batch of soup for their freezer (preferably at your house so that they don’t have to endure the smells). You get dinner for one night and can take the rest over to their house in jars. Even if they are mid treatment and going through a crackers only phase, eventually they will be very happy to have it, even if it’s just to feed guests/family members. You might want to check on their freezer space first.
This soup recipe today has a big assortment of veggies and plant based proteins. It tastes awesome, and is currently in my freezer in individual big man portions for my husband while I go away on a trip (he’s not sick, just lucky). Ideally he’ll pour it, hot, over raw kale and garnish it with avocado. Realistically, I just hope he remembers it’s in there before he cracks a bag of cheesies for dinner.
- 3 c Tomatoes, diced (3-5 fresh tomatoes)
- 2 c Red Peppers, diced (2 peppers)
- 1 c Red Onion (1 onion)
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 c Leek, diced (1 leek)
- 2 Celery stalks, diced
- 1 Jalapeno, diced small (optional)
- 2 c Cooked Black Beans (about ¾ c before soaking and cooking)
- ⅓ c Millet, soaked overnight, drained, rinsed
- 2 tsp dry Oregano
- 2 Tbsp fresh Turmeric, minced (or 2 tsp dried)
- Several grinds of Black Pepper (to enhance turmeric absorption)
- 1.5 tsp Cumin, ground
- 1 sheet of Kombu
- 6-8 c Stock or Water
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1 bunch of Cilantro, chopped
- Fresh Lime juice
- Avocado, diced
- In the Coconut oil with a splash of water (1/4 c or so), sweat the onion, leek, garlic and celery until they soften.
- Add the spices and sauté for a few more minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, peppers, jalapeno, cooked black beans, soaked and rinsed millet, kombu and stock.
- Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for 20-40 minutes, until all the ingredients have melted together and the millet is cooked.
- Remove 2 c of the soup and blend in a blender until smooth. Return it to the pot. (alternately, put an immersion/stick blender right into the pot and *carefully* blend for a few seconds to break things up a bit).
- Ladle into a bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado and a big squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- Like many soups and stews, this tastes even better on day 2 so make it ahead if you can!!
- It also freezes extremely well so it's worth it to make the whole recipe (freeze into single serve portions to make an easy meal).