Is it just me or does it seem like everyone is sick? Not just run of the mill 3 day colds, but 2 weeks of missing work and school and life in general. So far this season, I have managed to stay healthy. As I dodge people sneezing and hacking at the grocery store, I’m grabbing as many fruits and veggies as I can to boost my immune system. Soups, stews, stir-fry, smoothies, and salads are the easiest way to pack in loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep up the fight against illness taking me down.
This simple soup is easy to make on a Sunday and take to work or school for lunch all week. It’s packed with protein to keep me full and satisfied without feeling tired and heavy all afternoon. If a cold or the flu does happen to try and sneak in, my immune system will be prepared to take it on!
This easy soup is full of immunity-boosting foods: vitamin C–rich kale, vitamin D–enhanced mushrooms, zinc-containing chicken and chickpeas, and antioxidant-packed garlic. Plus, the hot, steamy broth and a hint of pepper heat get your nose running—great for flushing out sinuses and potentially staving off an infection. It’s a big pot of brothy soup that you can make ahead and enjoy for a couple of days; the flavor just gets better over time. You may be wary of the large amount of garlic, but keep in mind that it mellows considerably after being cooked. Though we love using bone-in chicken breasts here, you can also swap in 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast in a pinch (be aware that it will add more sodium).”
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 pound presliced vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms (such as Monterey Mushrooms)
- 10 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, drained
- 2 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 12 ounces curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add onion, celery, and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Stir in stock, thyme, bay leaves, and chickpeas; bring to a simmer. Add chicken, salt, and red pepper; cover and simmer until chicken is done, about 25 minutes.
Remove chicken from Dutch oven; cool slightly. Shred meat with 2 forks; discard bones. Stir chicken and kale into soup; cover and simmer until kale is just tender, about 5 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
- calories 253
- fat 6.5 g
- satfat 1 g
- monofat 3 g
- polyfat 0.9 g
- protein 28 g
- carbohydrate 22 g
- fiber 6 g
- cholesterol 54 mg
- iron 2 mg
- sodium 581 mg
- calcium 116 mg
- sugars 5 g
- Est. Added Sugars 0 g
Tips: Add fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped for an additional immunity boost! Leave out the chicken, swap out chicken broth for vegetable broth, and increase the veggie portions for a vegan friendly soup.
Whether it’s called a frittata, quiche or strata…it all has to do with eggs in some sort of casserole form. Eggs have so many good qualities that I have to agree with the commercials that boast their incredible, edibleness. Eggs are an inexpensive form of protein that are easy to prep in a variety of different ways. They contain tons of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including selenium, choline, and essential amino acids. Be sure not to short yourself by ditching the yolk! It’s good for you and does not increase cholesterol or risk of stroke…in fact some studies show it’s quite the opposite.
This recipe is packed with protein, veggies, and flavor and is very versatile. Keep it vegetarian or add in a little uncured bacon for additional flavor and protein. You can also play around with adding or swapping out vegetables depending on taste preference and availability. The best part is that it’s perfect for any meal and tastes great warmed up the next day too. For me, leftovers are an easy and fast way to get in a veggie packed meal when I have little time.
Mushroom Spinach Spaghetti Squash Strata
1 medium spaghetti squash, about 2.5 lbs
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped, packed tight
6 large eggs
1 cup feta or goat cheese
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 tsp onion or garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half and place face side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside to cool until safe to handle.
In the meantime, preheat large skillet on medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add spinach, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper and saute until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the crust, remove seeds from the spaghetti squash and separate flesh into strands using a fork. Transfer to a medium bowl along with 1/2 tsp thyme, garlic, and salt; mix to combine. Transfer to a deep oven safe dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil and press evenly onto bottom and sides using your hands. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, feta/goat cheese, mushroom kale mixture, 1 tsp onion or garlic powder, 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper and mix to combine. Pour into prepared crust and flatten with spatula.
Bake in 400 degrees F oven for 50 mins or until the knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool and set for 10 mins. Cut into 8 slices and serve hot.
Tips: Any dark, leafy greens like kale can be used in place of the spinach. Use fresh thyme if you it available.
Adapted from an ifoodreal recipe. Pictures from www.ifoodreal.com.
Today I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am writing to you from my new favorite spot in our little atrium herb and vegetable garden. When we moved in, the atrium was a dry dirt plot filled with overgrown plants. It was not an inviting place and had not been given any love for a long time. I knew it had so much potential and pictured fresh herbs, tomato and bell pepper plants, and beautiful flowers thriving. Now, with some sweat equity, help from my super handy Dad, and Pinterest, I am enjoying watching it grow.
One of my boys has been keeping a very close eye on the daily changes with our heirloom and yellow pear tomatoes as well as our orange and red bell peppers. We have picked leaves off of every fresh herb to smell them and he can now identify basil, mint, oregano, lemon thyme, and cilantro. I think it’s so important for children to learn about how food grows and to be able to prepare their own meals.
Herbs don’t just look and smell good. They also have a wealth of health benefits including protective polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. With all these wonderful fresh herbs available, I decided to make a fresh herb polenta dish using other vegetables I had in the fridge. The herbs paired perfectly with polenta (also known as corn grits), goat cheese, zucchini and mushrooms. This recipe is versatile and a combination of fresh and dried herbs could easily be used depending on what is available. Bon Appetit!
Fresh Herb Polenta with Mushrooms
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces Goat Cheese
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- Fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, garlic chives, and basil
- 2-3 cups Cremini Mushrooms, quartered
- 2 small zucchini, cut slightly larger than mushrooms
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sweet marsala wine
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions: Cook polenta according the package directions for making “cereal.” Bring water to a boil, add polenta and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove polenta from heat, cover, and let stand for a couple of minutes. Stir in butter, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh herbs. Cover polenta to keep warm while prepping the vegetables. In a small skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute for 5-6 minutes and add wine and black pepper. Continue to saute until vegetables are tender. Serve vegetable mixture over the polenta and top with more fresh herbs, goat cheese salt and pepper if desired.
Fall is my favorite food season! The markets right now are full of the years best offerings of winter squash, apples, pears, potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Spaghetti squash is one of the most versatile of the winter squash options to cook with. Spaghetti squash can be used to replace pasta or rice and easily takes on the flavor of the herbs and spices it’s cooked with.
Cooking with winter squash can be intimidating if you have never done it before. The outer shell is difficult to cut through in it’s raw state. Having a good sharp knife is essential to any kitchen, but when cutting winter squash it’s an absolute must. If you still fear cutting off an appendage while trying to get to the good stuff inside, never fear, there are ways to cook squash whole.
Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Chicken Sausage
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 5 links chicken sausage (I used Aidells Chicken & Apple)
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 5 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise, spray the inside with olive oil in an oil mister (Misto makes a good one). Turn the squash cut side down on a baking sheet with edges or a 9×13 glass baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Spaghetti squash can also be cooked whole by piercing the squash several times with a skewer and baking at 375 degrees for 1 hour. By baking it whole, it will not have a roasted flavor like when it’s cut in half.
2. While the squash is baking, chop onion, slice mushrooms and thin slice sausage. In a 12 inch skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil and saute onions and mushrooms for 5-6 minutes. Add sausage and dried thyme (use fresh thyme if you have it) and continue sauteing for another 8-10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and turn heat down to low until squash is ready to be added.
3. After the squash is removed from the oven, flip it over to cool just enough so you can remove it from the shell. Use a fork to shred the inside so that it looks like spaghetti. Add squash to the mushroom and sausage mixture and turn heat up to medium. Fold in squash and heat 4-5 minutes or until heated through.
4. Recipe makes 5 servings. Top each portion with 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese. Use any left over portions for lunch the next day!