After making a shiitake, cauliflower and kale stir-fry last night I was left with the usual mushroom stalks in the strainer. Tossing them away as I had done in the past just felt - well, wrong, so I set them aside while cooking.
Dietary wisdom in Chinese Medicine has long known that having a bit of warm broth with your meals aids with digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. There's a reason we eat matzoh ball and chicken noodle soup when we're not feeling well. When our bodies are fighting a pathogen, we don't have too much energy (or qi) to digest and assimilate nutrients. Soup is the ultimate energy drink, except instead of amping you up, it provides balanced and sustaining energy.
Knowing this, I realized it was too easy to make a broth last night - I hope you do the same!
Here's an eight minute way to make a tonic broth for your meal:
Fill a saucepan with filtered water, leftover mushroom stalks, other vegetable "ends" and peels you might otherwise discard, or whatever vegetable you have in the fridge. The combination I used last night and I can attest to being delicious:
2 cups shiitake mushrooms stalks
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
Add towards end:
Grated ginger (1-2 tbsp) or taste (more will be spicy)
Handful of chopped parsley
Brewer's yeast (2 tbsp)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Boil the stalks first for about five minutes, and then add then carrots and celery to boil for two more minutes. After that, simmer lightly for 25 more minutes. Vegetables do not require an extended boiling time (as in a bone broth) and over-boiling can result in a loss of nutrients.
When I was ready to serve, I grated some fresh ginger and added it to the pot. The warming and acrid nature of ginger is wonderful for the winter time (especially at the onset of a cold with chills) and has the added benefit of aiding in digestion, and being an anti-inflammatory.
I also added the chopped parsley, Brewers yeast at the very end, as well as the salt and pepper.
This broth goes down quite easily on its own but if you want to make a meal out of it, the possibilities are endless. You can add some lightly sautéed vegetables, chard, a fried egg, tofu, rice noodles, cubed sweet potatoes, miso, or your choice of protein.
This recipe makes about two-three cups. This should be made fresh daily and can easily be done while you are eating your breakfast or any time you find yourself in the kitchen.
The power of these foods is amazing.
Shiitake mushrooms are a great immune tonic and a great source of bioavailable iron for vegetarians and vegans.
Carrots have so many health benefits, including eye health. And new research shows that they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Celery is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, Vitamin B6 and B1.
Parsley is a detoxifier, an immune system supporter, and a source of iron and potassium.
Ginger fights inflammation, and has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties.
The Brewer's yeast is a source of probiotics and has also been shown to prevent colds and flus. Plus, it brings a rich flavor to the broth.
Enjoy and stay well this season!
This recent interview with Krista Tippett and chef Dan Barber is inspirational, educational, and humorous... My favorite part of the interview is Dan's explanation of how a plant's physiology actually changes (i.e. tastes better, and is likely more nutrient dense) when it is grown sustainably and locally - particularly plants indigenous to us in the Northeast.
Since I spent a January-term in college in Peru studying indigenous agriculture, spirituality, sustainability and biodiversity, I became very aware of the dangerous effects of monoculture (planting just one type of crop as opposed to a more natural, biologically diverse yield ) to the land, the people, and the environment. What I saw in Andean Amazon was vast stretches of agricultural mountainous terrain being stripped of its biodiversity to make way for monocultures. The surrounding environments suffered greatly as a result. The crops that had previously been situated on those mountains were part of a diverse system that yielded not only food crops, but also plants used for medicine, as well as construction purposes. There is simply a lack of understanding in terms the detrimental effects of interfering with these cultural landscapes. So, what can we do to make a difference where we are?
Barber's interview with Krista is the first that I've heard really brings the point home to our neck of the woods. Unfortunately, today, even organic crops are often planted in monocultures. This underscores the importance of buying from small, local farms where landscape and production is interwoven, where the bottom line is not only yield but also quality and taste.
Barber adds a twist to the equation, adding that what is ethical is not only good for us and the health of all, but also simply tastes better. It brings more joy to the palate and the environment benefits. He is first and foremost, a chef wanting to create delicious foods. Enjoy!