Simple advice for a better life.

Harsh winter 5It is a proven fact that with weather changes, we also experience health related changes.

There are more people suffering from cold, flu, and other ailments, during Winter season, than any other time of the year.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Our healthcare providers do not encourage us to get flu shorts for the Summer, but as soon as Autumn approaches, flu shot requests are as popular as the gold rush.

During cold weather we tend to crave comfort foods, relax more, sleep longer, and stay warm.  Warm drinks, and hearty soups, also gain popularity.

I came across a very interesting article written by Dr. Mao, about longevity and Five Chinese secrets of maintaining health and energy during the Winter season.

Winter: the sleep of nature

The winter season is when nature sleeps, and everything experiences the slowing of natural processes — even our bodies. Humans stopped hibernating like their ancestral cousins long ago, but our bodies still experience the natural inclination to slow down in winter. The winter is a time to come back to quietness and rebuild your energy reserves.

I encourage you to read the complete article to be ideally informed, but I will post the headings of the Five Chinese Secrets to Winter Health:

1. Early to bed, rise when the sun is up

2. Be contented

3. Nurture energy storage

4. Eat for the season: no raw, cold foods

5. Avoid coldness and linger around warmth

So, what do you think?

Were you surprised by any of the items you read about?

How do you change your lifestyle during the cold winter season?

photo in this post was received via email – author unknown


Thankful At Thanksgiving

GIVING THANKSThanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday in the US.

It brings our family and friends together to enjoy a meal, as well as share memories of years past, and express thanks for everything life brings our way.

I am thankful for all the  Lord’s Blessings upon me, and my family.

My immediate family in the U.S. consists of myself, my husband, three adult children, their spouses, and three grandchildren.

We also are blessed with numerous extended family members, close friends, and all my blog friends, residing in the US, and other parts of the world.

God Bless you All!

Wishing you  a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

mushroom and veggie soupMost popular mushrooms in the US,  and most readily available,  are the farm grown white mushrooms.

There are also other varieties of  mushrooms, more on a brown side in color, called Cremini, or Portobello Mushrooms.  These two types are tastier, but a little more expensive, and not as readily available in all grocery stores.

I am also lucky to have some dried mushrooms (borowiki), grown in Poland, and these are my all time favorite, due to their rich flavor.  I use these for preparing filling for Vushka to serve with a Ukrainian Traditional Christmas Borscht.  I also like to add a couple of these mushrooms to my Kapusnyak, which I usually prepare for Easter Brunch.

Today I am sharing my recipe for a Ukrainian Mushroom and Vegetable Soup, which my husband and I really enjoy, and hopefully you will too.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts soup stock
  • 1 lb white mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs Canola oil
  • 1 Tbs dill weed, chopped
  • 1 Tbs garlic chives, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked pasta (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill a 6 quarts soup pot, with soup stock.
  2. Add chopped carrots, potatoes, celery, and bay leaves.
  3. Bring to boil.
  4. Heat Canola oil in a saucepan, add chopped onions and saute until wilted.
  5. Add chopped mushrooms, and saute 3 minutes, until juices start to build up.
  6. Add chopped garlic, and saute another minute.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and add to the soup stock.
  8. Add pasta, if you choose to use it. ( Before adding pasta, I use a potato masher, and pulsate it several times in the soup, to break up the veggies to smaller pieces, and make the soup creamier).
  9. Cook, until all veggies and pasta are tender.  About 15-20 minutes.
  10. Remove the large celery pieces, and bay leaves, and discard.
  11. Add 1 Tbs flour to the sauce pan, and fry it until golden, mixing frequently to prevent excessive browning.
  12. Gradually whisk in the heavy cream, or milk, forming a creamy mixture.  You may add some of the soup stock if needed to make it creamy.
  13. Cook for a minute, and add to the soup.
  14. Cook soup for a minute longer. Turn the heat off.
  15. Add the chopped dill, garlic chives, and adjust seasoning to your taste.

Serve hot, with a fresh piece of rye bread, garlic bread, or Kapusnyachky. (see TIP)

Enjoy.

TIP: Kapusnyachky recipe is coming up very soon.

Saurkraut Soup -  KapusnyakSauerkraut soup, also known as “Kapusnyak”- in Ukrainian, or “Kapusniak” – in Polish, is a very refreshing, zestful, and  nutritious soup.

I like making Kapusnyak for Easter late afternoon meal, since in Ukrainian Easter tradition, very special foods are served for brunch, so Kapusnyak is a wonderful addition to this menu for an early afternoon meal.

It also gives me a chance to use the leftover shank bone from the baked ham, and some of the pan juices, which add wonderful flavor to the Kapusnyak.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham shank bone, with some meat on it
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 whole onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 2 stalk celery, cut to large pieces
  • 2 cups sauerkraut (drained, and rinsed out)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs. Canola oil
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs dill weed, chopped
  • 2 dry Porcine mushrooms (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill a 6 quarts (or larger) soup pot  with  cold water.
  2. Add the shank bone, and bay leaves, and some of the pan juices (these may be quite salty), and bring to boil.
  3. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Add whole onion, chopped carrots, celery, and 2 dry Porcine mushrooms.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the celery stalks, whole onion, and the bay leaves.
  7. Drain the sauerkraut, place on a colander, and rinse under a running, cold water, for about 2 minutes, continuously mixing it, to remove most of the sour juices.
  8. Squeeze out, to drain the water, add to the soup pot.
  9. Bring to boil, and cook for additional 30 minutes, or until kraut is tender.
  10. Remove the whole mushrooms, chopped them up, and add back to soup.
  11. Remove the shank bone, cut away the remaining meat, and add the meat back to soup.
  12. Heat Canola oil in a sauce pan, add the chopped onions, and saute until golden.
  13. Mix in 2 Tbs of flour to the onions, and brown lightly.
  14. Gradually add some soup stock to this mixture, and mix well to creamy consistency (not lumpy), while cooking it for a couple of minutes, so it thickens.
  15. Add to soup, and bring to boil.
  16. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste.
  17. Add chopped dill.
  18. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, and fresh rye bread.

Cream of Broccoli SoupIf you like creamy soups, you will enjoy this Broccoli Cheese Soup, which may also be served in a Bread Bowl, rather than the traditional soup bowl.

Cream soups are usually higher in calories, due to the creams and cheeses, but by preparing it yourself, you can lighten it up with low-fat cheese, and low-fat milk.

If you are not a big fan of broccoli as a side dish, you might surprise yourself, and really like this broccoli soup.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced thin
  • ½ cup celery, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, separated to smaller pieces (or 16 oz. package frozen, chopped broccoli)
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups of soup stock (I used chicken stock) see TIP below
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk (see TIP below)
  • 1 Tbs. corn starch, or flour
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup cheese, shredded (Swiss, Cheddar)
  • 1/8 tsp ground thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Simmer potatoes, carrots, and celery in 4 cups of soup stock, for 20 minutes.
  2. Add broccoli and cook for 7 more minutes.
  3. Remove 1 cup of cooked broccoli, set aside.
  4. Saute chopped onion in 1 Tbs of canola oil, until golden.
  5. Add butter and minced garlic. Saute 1 minute longer.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Pour the soup into a blender, or food processor to puree it.
  8. Return back to soup pot.
  9. Add sautéed onions and garlic.
  10. Mix corn starch, or flour, with 1/4 cup of milk, until smooth.
  11. Add to the remaining milk, and pour into the soup.
  12. Bring to boil.
  13. Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
  14. Mix in shredded cheese, until melted.
  15. Fold in the reserved cooked broccoli.
  16. Serve it hot.
  17. You may also cool  it, refrigerate, and reheat before serving.

You can create quick bread bowls, by hollowing out crusty rolls, such as Portuguese Rolls, and serve the soup in them.

TIP:  You can prepare a quick soup stock by dissolving chicken, or vegetable bullion in water, per package directions.  You can also use ready-made stock, if you do not have time to make your own homemade stock.

For richer soup, and higher calories of course, you can use whole milk, or even cream and milk mixture.

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