Creamy Butternut Soup
This easy, healthy recipe is warming and filling. I often make it several times a month through the fall and winter – with coconut milk, no pecans and no jalapeño to suit my son’s taste, and full spices and garnishes when its just for me. This recipe is very forgiving; feel free to adjust the amounts of ginger, jalapeño, veggies and cream based on what you have on hand and to suit your taste.
Handful of pecans, for garnish (optional)
4 TBS (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (or vegetable or coconut oil if vegan)
2 medium leeks, white parts only, carefully washed and coarsely chopped (or yellow onions, shallots, or even scallions in a pinch)
1 cup coarsely chopped celery stalks and leaves
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2-1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
1 medium butternut squash (~ 2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into rough cubes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or water, or veggie stock
½ cup light cream or ½ and ½ (or coconut milk if vegan)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- (optional) Preheat oven to 375 F
- (optional) Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then chop finely. Set aside.
- In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, ginger and jalapeño and sauté 15 minutes, until wilted.
- Stir in the squash and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until all veggies are very soft.
- Let cool slightly, then puree in blender or with immersion blender until smooth.
- Return the puree to the pot and stir in the cream. Heat through, but do not allow to boil.
- Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into individual bowls, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.
Superfood Honey, Walnut and Sesame Balls
These healthy treats are modified from a recipe from my favorite Chinese medicine cookbook, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen. In Chinese medicine, walnuts and sesame seeds (especially black ones) nourish the Kidneys and support the “essence” while honey is sweet and moistening to the Lungs and digestive system. Together, these superfood ingredients can benefit lung function, constipation, and insomnia in the short term, and when taken long term, can help with hair growth, libido, sleep, fertility and back pain. Warming spices further benefit the digestive system.
- ½ cup black sesame seeds
- 1/3 to ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 3-4 tablespoons honey
- Warming spices (optional): 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ginger as well as cardamom, nutmeg, fennel, cloves, etc. to taste
- Roast the sesame seeds and walnuts in a cast iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the seeds and nuts become fragrant, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
- In a food processor combine nuts and seeds with honey and spices and blend until completely mixed. Adjust spices as desired.
- Roll into ½ – ¾ inch balls. If the mixture doesn’t stick together at first, add more honey and mix again until incorporated. Roll in additional sesame seeds if desired.
- Take 1 to 3 before bed as a nourishing treat!
Caffeine-free Golden Milk Chai
This is a warming and nourishing drink for any time of day. The spices have anti-inflammatory effects, and with the addition of a teaspoon or two of ghee, it is especially soothing right before bed. I recommend this to post-partum mothers with whole milk or coconut milk and plenty of ghee to gently warm and nourish their digestive systems and provide healthy fats. It makes a healthy special treat for young children as well. You may also add 2-3 black tea bags for a more traditional caffeinated chai tea. As with most of my recipes, the ingredients are versatile, so feel free to play with the suggestions and make it your own. Serves 3-4.
1-2 cinnamon sticks
dash of nutmeg
1 tsp whole cardamom seeds (no skins)
1 inch chopped fresh ginger
1/2 inch chopped fresh turmeric, or ¼-1/2 tsp ground turmeric.
2-3 cups whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk or other alternative
ghee or coconut oil
- Add spices to 2-3 cups water. Bring to a boil, and simmer down to 1 cup over 15-30 minutes.
- At this point, the spices can be strained and the spiced concentrate can be refrigerated for up to a week for future use.
- When ready to serve, add milk and bring back to a boil.
- Serve warm. Add honey or maple syrup for sweetness to taste and 1-2 tsp. ghee or coconut oil per cup.
Kate Blalack is a nationally certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner in Boulder, Colorado. Kate has a special interest in working with women and families, including acupuncture for fertility, menstrual problems, pregnancy, and postpartum. Contact Kate for more information or to book an appointment at her Boulder clinic.