Friday, December 19, 2014

Soup's On!

For a long time, I've been thinking of soups. A long time ago, I began to favor soups over other foods. They're a good way of getting your veggies and herbs (you can mix and match any combination) while being gentle on your stomach. After succumbing to the fact that soup was my new favorite food, it was just a matter of figuring out my favorite combinations and the best method for making it. As is typical when learning about new dishes, I began with recipes (typically of the American sort) which called for sauteing vegetables first in order to soften followed by a simmering in chicken or veggie stock. At the end, one could throw everything into the blender in order to emulsify and thicken the soup (which I usually did) or leave it be. I experimented with a host of veggie combinations and sometimes added protein. However, in the Washington Post Magazine, I came across an Afghan soup which called for making an emulsification (suffice it to say blended mixture) beforehand and adding your protein after.

An emulsion, by definition, is a mixture of two or more liquids that cannot typically be mixed (i.e. oil and water). In my cooking experience, this is typically done by mixing the elements quite fast with either a spoon or a blender. A general guideline for the soup follows:

Afghan Soup
  • chop a root vegetable (parsnip, carrot, etc.)
  • chop half an onion
  • smash two cloves of garlic
  • toast and chop two chilies 
Pulse above ingredients in a blender to make a paste. With the motor running, pour 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a stream to make an emulsification.

Once the emulsification is made, you can heat it in a seasoned pan along with 2 tbsp. of tomato paste. This will serve as the base of the soup.

From here, you can add any veggies, herbs and/or condiments you choose. I made mine with chopped celery and onion along with some peas and soy sauce at the end. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Breathe In, Breathe Out

While food doesn't have much to do with weight loss in certain parts of the world and more with health, using specific edible elements to aid with healing, maintaining and sustaining our "bon sante", it doesn't hurt to learn about the weight loss process. The Washington Post recently published an interesting article on what happens to fat during weight loss. For most of us, weight loss is synonymous with transformation and a sense of better health which, of course, is what this blog is all about. Through the process of weight loss, one may also become better acquainted with their bodies whose processes are also discussed in the article. The article can be found here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mo Dressings/Mo Herbs

As stated before, herbs rank low in placement and high in importance on my food pyramid, right above water. Herbs have a great array of therapeutic properties, if fact, I'm reading a book on them now which I'll share later. As you know if you read the blog, I'm always looking for ways to incorporate herbs into my diet on a daily basis and dressings is a key way in which I choose to do this. Since (ideally) I try to eat an abundance of leafy greens day to day which, on their own, are packed with vitamins and minerals. As such greens can be healthy but bitter, dressing are a great way to add flavor to such meals. I subscribe to the Cooking Newsletter put out by the New York Times and, this week, it featured a mustard-shallot vinaigrette by Julia Moskin which may be found: here.

In the recipe, Julia provides the base for a tangy vinaigrette which may benefit from the use of herbs such as parsley or cilantro: something which can add extra kick to the vinaigrette while kicking up it's nutritional value.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


In my last post I mentioned the topic of science which has come to be my inspiration for food (theory) as of late. I remember in high school, I had a teacher who apparently majored in something food/cuisine related. Taking her food skills class, I was surprised to note how much chemistry and biology went into the study of food. I thought food skills was supposed to be a blow off class! However, as I age, I have come to realize that we can't escape the strong link between what we put in our bodies and our body's development. From medicine to botany, taxonomy to environmental science, food can be placed at the nexus of scientific study if you choose to view it that way. And, in general, our approach to food can come from a host of various perspectives. In society, our approach to food generally comes from the framework of taste. We constantly read in the New York Times how a new chef is combining flavor profiles in new and exciting ways. However, I began to write this blog as my own paradigm began to shift from flavor to health and how "food" can be applied as a tool for our bodies.

As food provides our body with nutrients we need to keep going, I believe we have a responsibility to consider the natural world where food comes from. In science class (see last post), students are learning about communities, ecosystems and food chains. Within various food chains, the fact exists that there are primary, secondary and tertiary consumers. At the bottom of the food chain tend to be green plants while a primary consumer might be a grasshopper, a secondary consumer a frog and so on. In learning (again) about the food chain, I began to consider our role as humans and the choices we make. Many say that humans are kings of the food chain and that's true. However, it seems to me that eating at the top of the food chain (i.e. eating animals which eat other animals) simply prevents our access to the foods with the most nutrients such as green, leafy vegetables. As Michael Pollan said in Food Rules, "eat food, not too much, mostly plants." In general, this is what essentially gets corrupted after being processed through animals at the primary levels etc. Instead of eating all those animals, we have the choice to go straight to the source. Food for thought.


"Hello, Mr. Chanterelle. I love your cap." This was a cute line I picked up from the movie Maleficent over the weekend. The quote, in isolation, is a lone bright spot in an otherwise dull movie but perhaps it caught my interest because mushrooms have been on my mind. In science class (my day job involves shadowing and assisting students in their classes) we're learning that mushrooms are decomposers, that is, they break down dead organisms. This struck me as interesting as I imagined mushrooms acting as an appertif, breaking down the food in our stomach following a meal. While such a process likely rests in my imagination, mushrooms, in reality, carry a great deal of benefits for us. They contain loads of vitamin B as well as minerals such as copper, phosphorus and manganese. The kicker from thinking about mushrooms to writing about them on the blog came in the form of a New York Times article by Martha Rose Shulman. In it, she explains the benefits of mushrooms while incorporating them into tasty recipes. Here article can be found here.