Saturday, August 11, 2012

In the Kitchen - With Love

Gotta love the face after his first sip : )

Since my last blog, my dad has agreed to allow me to start introducing more raw foods into his diet, which is a big breakthrough. We've been making encouraging progress during the days, but he still desires a warm, comfort-food style dinner, so I am doing my best to come up with dishes that are thoughtfully prepared with fresh, organic ingredients that are vitamin, mineral and antioxidant rich. I'm also trying to add in as many herbs and spices as I can that are known for their cancer-fighting properties.

So we've been having fresh fruit or smoothies in the early mornings, a mid-morning juice or shake made with Rockin' Wellness and Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein, lots of salads for lunch & sometimes a bit of left-overs from the prior evening's dinner. I am sharing some of the favorite dishes from this week with you here. I hope you will enjoy!

Cancer-Fighting Vegetable Soup
Besides the ingredients and time allotted for chopping, be sure to add LOTS of love into your preparation. I fully believe there is a very special healing property involved when we intentionally put our loving energy and compassion into whatever it is that we are making for ourselves and our loved ones. Enjoy this delicious, health-promoting soup!

1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
dash of dried red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cartons organic vegetable broth (64 oz.)
2 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices (I used about 4 cups fresh organic tomatoes - but canned will work)
2 cups carrots (about 4), sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup celery (about 3 stalks), diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced (any color but green is good)
1 big handful fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 -2 cups broccoli bits
1/2 cup fresh herbs (use flat-leafed parsley, basil, cilantro - whatever you like), minced
water, as needed to reach desired consistency
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/2 lemon, juiced
additional salt & pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add in onion and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook another minute or so until fragrant. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Continue to cook for another minute or so. Add in the broth and tomatoes and stir. Add in the carrots, celery, bell pepper and mushrooms. Allow to simmer until the carrots are almost tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add in the broccoli, herbs and turmeric. Bring back up to simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, an additional 10 minutes or so. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and additional salt & pepper, to taste.

Creamy Broccoli Rice Casserole
This turned out to be a marvelous main entree. Serve with a colorful side salad for a feel-good meal. If your family eats cheese, a bit of shredded white cheddar or gruyere added would likely make it extra yummy, but it was very good as the vegan preparation below.

2 cups cooked brown rice
2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped baby bello mushrooms (any variety is fine)
Vegetable broth, as needed
Himalayan salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

I cooked the rice while I was chopping the vegetables.
In a large stock pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add in onion and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook another couple of minutes, stir in the remaining ingredients and stir until all are well combined. Taste to see if it needs any additional salt or pepper. Pour in a cup or two of vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, cooking until the vegetables start to get soft, about 10 minutes.
In a large glass casserole dish (mine was 9 x 13), combine the vegetables with the brown rice, using some of the vegetable broth to create a casserole like consistency, making sure not to make it soupy with too much liquid. Put into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to allow all the flavors to come together.

Sauteing the veggies before I add the tomatoes

Epic Garden Vegetable Marinara Sauce
We have been so blessed with an abundance of tomatoes from dad's garden this year. This sauce was created from the last harvest of the season and it was truly spectacular.

2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can use a good quality olive oil - but I prefer evco when cooking these days)
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red peppers, seeded and diced  (a roasted pepper or two would be delightful)
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms (diced)
2 - 28 fluid ounces canned plum tomatoes, include liquid (use fresh tomatoes if possible, skins removed & seeded)
6 ounces tomato paste (I used a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and blended)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
3 large bay leaves
2 teaspoons local honey
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil; add onions, sauteing  until onions are transparent, about 5 minutes, add garlic and stirring frequently for another minute or two. Add diced peppers, carrots and celery; saute' for an additional few minutes. Transfer mixture to a large stock pot. Add mushrooms, tomatoes (including liquid), sun-dried tomato paste, oregano, dried basil, fresh basil, bay leaves, honey, salt and pepper Bring sauce to boil; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Adjust seasonings to taste. Remove bay leaves and discard.
I used an immersion blender to make the sauce more smooth, but it would be equally as delicious if left chunky.

Serve sauce over pasta of your choice or serve over stemmed veggies. This sauce could be canned while it is hot, just follow canning instructions carefully. It also freezes well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Life in Cooked Food Rehab

Thanks to Linda Wagner for sharing this photo today!

I wanted to share an update here, as it's been awhile since I've updated my blog. For the first half of this year I was working nearly full time in a support/leadership role at Cleanse America, which is an awesome mission that is the brainchild of the fabulous Paul Risse.  I absolutely LOVED every minute of working with the Core Team and all of the truly amazing Wellness Warriors. Both the spring and summer 10-Day cleanses were epic, but I have recently stepped down from my leadership position due to a new role I've taken, which I'll share more about in the next couple of paragraphs. I am really looking forward to what Paul has planned for Cleanse America's upcoming Fall Cleanse (which will begin on September 21st) and I encourage you to stay plugged into his website and Facebook page for all the latest details!

For those of you who are part of my Raw Food Rehab family or are on the Cleanse America Community Site, you may have heard about my father's illness. My dear dad has had chronic leukemia (CMML) for about a year and a half, but fortunately, he has almost no noticeable symptoms....until recently. Dad started losing weight over the past several months, and it eventually became quite dramatic, getting down to 155 lbs. just a few weeks ago.  Dad's always been a fairly large man at 6 ft. tall and it was unusual for him to get below 200 lbs. So it was shocking to see how frail and thin he had become.

Dad has been living alone, at his little fisherman's getaway on Grand Lake.  He is an avid organic gardener and fisherman and is one of the more active fellows in his neighborhood of mainly retirement aged people.  Even at 82 years young, Dad was always mowing someone's yard or tinkering with a broken down air conditioner for a neighbor. When I went to visit him just 3 weeks ago, I found him nearly immobile, battling extreme fatigue and hardly eating, and I knew I had to do something.

So we've moved Dad into our home and I am now his full-time caregiver, making regular meals, driving him to all of his many doctor's appointments and looking for ways to entertain and keep his spirits up. We are hoping to be able to get some of the mobility back in his legs (they think it is unrelated to the leukemia and is a result of arthritis of the spine). A series of epidural shots may very well get him back to a more normal daily life, so I am praying that this will be so.  He has just recently started taking an oral anti-cancer drug daily, after a new bone marrow biopsy showed a shift in the diagnosis to Acute Myeloid Leukemia, in hopes of managing the aggression of the bad cell growth in the blood, but Dad is choosing not to go the route of traditional chemo-therapy, which I fully understand and support.

The good news is that he has gained over 10 pounds since he's been here with us. I am jokingly calling his stay here, Cooked Food Rehab, as he has absolutely no interest or palate for raw foods, salads or juices at this time (wouldn't you know it). I am able to get a superfood shake in him daily (thanks Mike & Seth for making Rockin' Wellness taste good to cancer patients!!) and I am doing my best to keep the cooked meals as healthy and appetizing as possible. So far so good!

I have had much kind input and suggestions by lots of people who are very well-meaning and wish to offer advise or their love and support. I read all my emails, but don't have much free time to respond at this time. But I appreciate each of you all so very much.

For now I'm approaching all of this one day at a time and trying to help support dad's quality of life as much as humanly possible while respecting his lifestyle wishes and desires. It is an honor to love and serve this amazing man, in this time of transition and uncertainty, as he is my biggest role model and who I admire the most in my life.

I will still be lovingly working on projects for Raw Food Rehab, and on my writing, whenever I am able, but I've stepped down from any other work related responsibilities or travel for now. Perhaps, if it isn't offensive to my raw food friends, I may share a healthy recipe from our time in Cooked Food Rehab on this blog from time to time.  Let me know how you feel about that.

Wishing you much love today & always!

PS - One of my recipes is being featured today at my good friend, Tess Masters' website Healthy Blender Recipes. Please check it out & let her know you stopped by! I also have a bonus recipe for those of you at Raw Food Rehab - Enjoy!!