Trying to get off the holidays’ rush, lack of structure and overindulgence wave and finding it a bit overwhelming to get back to your normal routine? Well, me too!
I usually like to take it easy the couple of days after the holidays, so I make sure to have a smooth transition into my usual routine to avoid post-holidays blues. At the same time however, I try not to stall too much in getting my family back onto its normal schedule.
My first fix is a healthy, cleansing and simple meal. By simple I mean no trip to the grocery store and only minimal preparation. So I dig into my pantry and I make the best out of it. Here’s a recipe that helps put me back in a supreme state of mind, ready to hit all my to dos for the rest of the week!
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Roosevelt
Bean Medley (or Makhlouta) is a soup gathering the essential groups of food, making it a complete meal with nutrient-rich ingredients, mainly a fiber mine! It’s simply a mixture of 4 or 5 types of beans (white beans, kidney beans, lentils, chick peas and black eyed peas), grains (bulgur or wheat and rice), onion, a bit of olive oil or canola oil and spices. You can make your own mixture, depending on what you find in your pantry.
Here’s my recipe for 6 servings
- ½ cup large white beans
- ½ cup black eyed peas
- ½ cup lentils
- ½ cup chickpeas
- ½ cup bulgur
- ½ cup rice
- 8 cups water
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- If you’re using dried beans, soak them separately in water overnight (except lentils)
- In a pot, heat the canola oil, add the onion and stir fry until browned
- Add the rest of the ingredients (except the lemon juice) and let them cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are tender
- Add the lemon juice and let it cook on low heat for 5 minutes
- Serve hot (This soup is thick as the grains absorb most of the added water)
It’s flu season and the season for the debate about the effectiveness and safety of the annually changing flu vaccination, prescribed antiviral drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers. Unless you’re at a high risk of developing a flu complication (young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic illness and weakened immune system), hominess is the best and safest way to let your flu fly away without subjecting yourself to any potential side effects.
So take your flu as an excuse to get cozy and snuggle in your blanket for a day or so in the cold weather and try to recharge body and mind generally! While fluid drinking is important to keep you well hydrated, there’s nothing that could replace mama’s go-to sick-day-food: the one and only magic chicken soup! It might not kill your virus right away but it surely comes with the best remedies that help your body fight the virus away: nourishment and love!
My mama’s chicken soup recipe
Ingredients (for 6 portions):
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 4 medium carrots cut in thin rounds
- ½ cup of sushi or Egyptian rice
- Spices for flavoring the chicken: 2-4 bay leaves, 1-2 cinnamon stick, ginger root, whole peppercorns, whole cloves and whole cardamoms
- Salt (optional)
- Place chicken in saucepan. Add water to cover chicken.
- Bring to boil on medium-high heat or cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.
- Remove chicken form saucepan and wash it with cold water. Disregard boiling water.
- Add chicken, spices and cold water in saucepan and bring to boil again or cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Drain broth and keep it to be used as the soup fluid.
- Disregard spices and shred chicken into small pieces.
- Add broth and carrot to saucepan and bring to boil. Add shredded chicken and rice and let it cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Enjoy the warmth and the soothing flavors of this hearty soup…and get well soon!
Since I moved to New York, I have come to notice that people here are fad obsessed, particularly in relation to body image issues. They enroll in the latest and hottest mumbo jumbo celebrity workouts with the funkiest names ever like “Zumba!”, they follow the latest diet or un-diet (fasting) trends like the 5:2 diet, the master cleanse detox, lemon juicing diet, raw food diet…but what particularly caught my attention is the kale craze! New Yorkers love kale! They swear by kale juice, feast on kale salad and sandwiches and snack on kale chips. There’s even a National Kale Day (which happens to be today by the way, Happy Kale!). Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against kale and I’m actually a big fan myself of kale Tabboule and appreciate the nutritional benefits of this wonderful green veggie. I do feel however that there’s an excessive adoration of kale, which distracts from other interesting veggies that correspond to the same green category, have a very similar nutritional profile to kale and some are even more worthy of being singled out. So if you’re like me, tired of kale or even spinach but want to keep benefiting from the amazing nutritional and gastronomic qualities of green leafy vegetables, it’s time to introduce your cuisine to chard!
Chard is very comparable to spinach but with a bigger leaf and has a less accentuated taste than kale. Just like the venerated kale and Popeye’s spinach, chard is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and potassium, contains iron, calcium and folic acid. Also note that it’s slightly lighter in calories than kale and spinach and is a good laxative and diuretic. There are so many ways to enjoy chard, here are some of my favorites:
Zesty chard with blackeye peas salad / appetizer
- Chard and lentil soup (also includes zucchini, potato and onions)
Chard stuffed with a Tabbouleh-like mix
Chard dip (prepared in a similar way to hummus, but since we’re replacing chickpeas with chard stems, it’s lighter in calories)