I wasn’t sure why this soup is called “Italian Wedding Soup.” So I searched on the Internet. According to the “Cooking Geek,” although it is commonly served to brides and grooms in the North Eastern U.S. for ‘energy fortification’ for their first night together, the real etilogy of the name ‘wedding soup’ is because the combination of flavors in the soup is the perfect “marriage.” According to Wikipedia, “The term “wedding soup” comes from the Italian language phrase “minestra maritata (“married soup”),” which is a reference to the flavor produced by the combination/”marriage” of greens and the broth.” That makes sense to me – I have always loved the combination of mini meatballs, dark leafy greens, pasta, and a light chicken broth!
But since going gluten free – I haven’t been able to have it – until now! This gluten free version of Italian Wedding Soup is just as good – maybe better – than the gluten kind!!
Give it a whirl and see what your family thinks – mine liked it a lot! Definitely a new family favorite! Plus – a bonus – extra meatballs for an easy homecooked meal later in the week!!
Note – this recipe makes double the amount of meatballs you need. I figure if I am making them, I may as well make extra – I rolled some small ones for this soup recipe, and some bigger to throw in some pasta sauce later in the week. If you don’t want pasta & meatballs later in the week, you could cut this recipe in half.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
I love cauliflower and broccoli – my favorite way to make has usually been to cut it up into small florets, toss in avocado oil, season it, and roast it in the oven….that is, until I discovered how quick and easy it is to saute riced cauliflower and broccoli. This dish comes together in about 5 mins, and is delicious, satisfying, filling, and very nutritious!
Cauliflower and broccoli are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables which are high in sulfur compounds, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals – they support our cardiovascular, digestive, immune, inflammatory, and detoxification systems. Consuming cruciferous vegetables at least once a week has been associated with lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, and supports healthy cholesterol levels and heart health. Just one cup of broccoli has over 200% of the RDA for vitamin K, an important nutrient for bone building; it also has over 100% of the RDA for vitamin C.
You can ‘rice’ cauliflower and broccoli by grating it with a boxed grater; or you can roughly chop it and then pulse it in the food processor until “riced” – meaning it is broken down into rice sized pieces. But I recently discovered already riced organic cauliflower and broccoli in the freezer section of Sprouts – which just makes it super easy when you don’t have time to grate it or pull out the food processor. I think you can find it at Trader Joes too.
Warm saute pan on medium high, add oil and let it get hot. Add in your riced cauliflower and broccoli, season and saute for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through to your desired amount.
Serve! This dish can be a side dish, be added to salads or soups, and mixed with rice or pasta. Enjoy!!
It’s official. I’m obsessed with this recipe. I seriously daydream about it.
Now, if we are being honest here, there are no actual “noodles” in this recipe…but when you taste it, you won’t care.
I almost called this recipe Spaghetti Squash Garlic “Bread“, because this recipe tastes just like garlic bread – well, without the actual bread part. But since spaghetti squash is kind of like spaghetti, I thought calling it garlic ‘noodles‘ was less of a stretch than garlic bread in this case.
Bonus – this recipe is super simple, it is great as a side or a main course, and it is also good leftover!
And did I mention…? It tastes like garlic bread!! Yeah, I think I probably already did mention that…
For someone who has been gluten free for a long time, getting to have garlic bread without the bread is the bomb.com!!
Two other great ways to top spaghetti squash are marinara sauce and pesto.
The secret ingredient in this chili is cauliflower – and you would never know it was there!! A member of the cruciferous family, cauliflower adds fiber, vitamins, minerals, and also helps to give it some “body.” Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and sulfur – which supports the liver. But the real star of this dish is the tomatillos and poblano chili peppers – they are so delicious!! My whole family loves this one pot dinner! You could also make it in a slow cooker – but it would take longer.
Serves 6-8 people.
Note: If you don’t have time for steps 1-5 and want a quicker and easier version – you could replace steps 1-5 with a jar of green tomatillo salsa – I like the Hatch chili kind at Trader Joes.
Recipe developed by Sara Vance. All rights reserved.
I love using fresh herbs – they really brighten up and transform a salad or soup. As far as herbs go, dill is right up there with basil and mint at the top of my list!
This dill soup is very refreshing, and easy to make – it literally whips together in about 3 minutes! And besides the broth – this is totally raw!
Dill is a wonderful herb – and can be helpful to relieve headaches, which can occasionally happen when detoxing, it is a natural anti-fungal, and has even been found to have anti-cancer properties (learn more about dill in this article from Dr. Mercola).
My kids love comfort food like chicken pot pie, and after seeing a friend post a delicious looking recipe online – I decided that I was going to try to make a grain-free version (you could also make this totally dairy free too)!
To me, food should not only taste delicious – but it should be good for us too. It is possible for food to be both delicious and nutritious! It just sometimes take a little tinkering. I love to take traditional recipes and UPGRADE them to make them better for our health & metabolism. This recipe has been upgraded by adding a whole head of cauliflower (additional vitamins, minerals and fiber). Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, which is shown to support a healthy liver, and potentially can be helpful in the prevention of cancer. This has also been upgraded by taking out the usual white flour in the crust – and replacing it with a grain and gluten free version. And since many people do not tolerate dairy nowadays – this can also be made 100% dairy free too. Eating foods that we are intolerant to can lead to weight gain, inflammation (pain), and a long list of chronic symptoms.
I looked online for some recipes, and found this one from The Paleo Mom. I loved her idea of using a cauliflower sauce – I have used cauliflower for alfredo sauces, and I add cauliflower to many of my recipes to thicken them and add nutrition – in my mind, cauliflower is an essential ingredient in the dairy free chef’s kitchen!! I made a few adjustments to her recipe along the way, so here is my version of Chicken Pot Pie:
*For some reason – I could not get the crust from The Paleo Mom’s recipe to work – I think it needs some butter or something to get it to come together. So thankfully – I had a Chebe bread mix box handy – which is a grain free bread made with tapioca (they make great buns, breadsticks, and pizza crusts). So I made that (follow directions on the box – I made mine without the cheese, you can use any kind of non-dairy milk you like, water, or raw dairy if you tolerate it).
Serve & enjoy! Save extra in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
I love it when I come up with a recipe that is healthy, and passes the kid taste test – this recipe hit it out of the ballpark on both accounts! Even my quinoa-hating daughter loved them – I only told her about the quinoa after she had decided that she loved them! My kids like to call them “meat muffins” because they are made in muffin tins – which makes them even more fun!
I have already made this recipe twice, and my kids regularly ask for it – so I plan to make it again this week. The leftovers make a great (hearty) after school snack, or a quick meal – but in my house, they don’t last for long!
Put the sugar into the vinegar and stir until it dissolves. Then add all the ingredients together, stir to combine – taste & adjust. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. This step can be done a day or two ahead.
This recipe is great with steamed broccoli with some grass fed butter and mashed potatoes. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days (they won’t last that long)!
*A note about quality – I always make sure to go for grass fed beef – to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and other additives – plus grass fed beef is higher in omega 3s and 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional beef – which studies have found helps to burn fat (read this article to learn more). I also always choose organic for zucchini – because conventional zucchini is highly likely to be GMO, which I avoid because there is evidence that GMOs could be harming our gut health and even increase our risk of cancer. And finally – I always look for organic pastured or free range eggs – which also have a higher amount of omega 3s and no antibiotics or hormones.
This crust is gluten free and delicious – and easy to make!
Directions to Make the Pizza Dough:
Suggested toppings: carmelized onions, arugula, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, thinly sliced red peppers, slices green or black olives, and shredded goat or sheeps milk cheese.
I just watched the Showtime documentary Stop at Nothing the other night, this powerful film profiles Lance Armstrong’s obsession with winning, fame, and power.
Watching that film got me thinking about the one thing that all serious competitive athletes have in common is – they have a very powerful desire to win. In order to win, an athlete knows they need to set goals, train hard, and that means that they need to be able to push through pain and overcome adversity. Often they have to make sacrifices in other areas of their lives to truly commit to their chosen sport.
The better an athlete gets at their sport and the tougher the competition gets – the harder it gets to stay on top. I understand the immense pressure Lance Armstrong and other serious athletes are under to win.
Unfortunately, Lance chose to take the illegal and unethical path of using banned substances to gain an unfair edge. It eventually cost him everything – his Tour de France titles, all his lucrative contracts, and the respect of the world. His actions and choices led to disgrace. I hope one lesson that young athletes can learn from Lance’s mistakes, is that it is not worth compromising your character to win, and that trying to rely on the “quick fix” might come back to bite you in more ways than one. Because even some of the legal substances that athletes think will help them gain an edge can potentially lead to deficiencies in other areas of performance or recovery, and potentially even serious health trouble (ranging from dehydration to cramping and even organ dysfunction). Just because a product might make your muscles look bigger, does not mean that they are necessarily stronger, or will make you be able perform better.
The good news, is there are a number of natural and healthy ways for athletes to gain a competitive edge today. One area that all too often gets overlooked is the power of using foods to improve performance and recovery. And the cool thing about nutritional approaches? Beyond the performance & recovery benefits, they can also offer other health benefits ranging from disease prevention to brain function and balancing mood. The first step is simple –
Just get the junk out!
Realize that the majority of people (yes, even athletes too) are eating way too many processed foods and getting too much sugar (read about what happened to a man who ate 40 teaspoons of sugar a day in just 60 days – which is a little more than the average teenage boy gets). The more processed foods in your diet – the more energy the body has to expend on detoxification, the more bogged down the body will become, and the less energy you will have for your training. Processed diets are nutritionally deficient – and athletes need nutrients to perform and recover. Another thing that happens to the body when the diet has too much sugar or processed ingredients – inflammation. An athlete’s enemy, inflammation leads to swelling, pain, and can degrade performance, range of motion, flexibility, and recovery. Inflammation raises our risk of overuse injuries, asthma, and almost every major disease. Simply cleaning up the diet and staying properly hydrated, and getting more plant-based foods, high quality grass fed or organic proteins, and cutting out the junk – will give an athlete an edge over the competition.
Got a clean diet and ready to take it a step further? Check out these superfoods to see if they can help to take you and your performance to the next level.
5 Performance-Enhancing Superfoods:
Although not typically the first thing that comes to mind when talking about athletic performance, mushroom’s are one of nature’s most powerful superfoods – and could be an athlete’s secret weapon. Mushrooms are a type of fungi, or bacteria that can offer a wide range of health benefits ranging from immune-boosting to performance-enhancing effects. They have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. Although you will get health benefits from adding a few button mushrooms into your omelette, for performance enhancement, athletes will want to look to medicinal-grade mushrooms like cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail, and lion’s mane. An ideal way to incorporate them into an athlete’s diet is with certified organic mushroom powders, which can be added to things like smoothies, soups and drinks. Interested in seeing how mushrooms can boost your performance?
A local company called Mushroom Matrix, offers organic mushroom powders, and have extended a 10% off coupon for me to share with you, enter: rebalancelife at checkout to get your 10% discount. Some Mushroom Matrix organic powders to try:
Make sure to choose organic when purchasing mushrooms or mushroom powders/supplements.
2. Beetroot juice or powders
Google beetjuice and performance, and you will find a plethora of articles touting the benefits – “beets are like legal blood-doping” and “like taking performance enhancing drugs.” At the Olympic training center in London – athletes were eschewing the brightly colored sports drinks and downing bright pink cocktails of beet juice, pineapple, ginger and orange juice instead. The benefits of beet juice come from their high content of nitrates, which are converted in the body into nitric oxide – which causes blood vessel dilation, and improves energy production and usage – which makes the body more efficient, and supports the heart to do it’s work. You can juice whole organic beets, or buy a beetroot powder. I recommend if you do incorporate beets/use a powder, to make sure it is non-GMO or organic. Add some spinach, chard and celery to your drink too – as they also are high in nitrates. One example of a organic beet powder to try is Superbeets organic beet powder, just 1 teaspoon is equivalent to eating 3 organic beets.
One thing to point out with beetjuice – it can change the color of your stool and urine. So don’t freak out the day after trying beet juice when your toilet water looks pink.
3. Chia seeds
From the book Born to Run: “In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone.” An ancient Aztec superfood, chia seeds may rival mushrooms as one of the oldest performance-enhancing foods. Chia seeds gave the ancient Aztec warriors the long-lasting energy and endurance they needed to go into battle. Chia seeds boost endurance, energy, hydration, focus/attention, and reduce inflammation. Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, and are also high in fiber, protein, and have a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium – all important for athletes. Omega 3s are shown to lower inflammation – critical for recovery and injury prevention. Unlike flax, chia is rich in antioxidants, which means it will not go rancid after grinding, and helps to prevent free radical damage. Chia seed are uniquely hydrophillic, so when they come in contact with water, they form a gel-like substance. This chia gel slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to level out bloodsugar and maintain energy/endurance. Chia gel also holds on to water, which helps to maintain hydration – very important for an athlete. Always make sure to consume chia seeds with plenty of water or liquids to prevent dehydration, I like to soak the chia seeds for about 5 minutes before consuming to ensure they are hydrated. Add chia seeds to your smoothie, or make chia pudding.
4. Virgin Coconut Oil
Medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) which are found in coconut oil have been known in the body building industry for a few decades as a superior form of fat. Medium chain fatty acids are more readily converted to energy by the body, so it is also less likely to be stored as fat. Coconut oil is more easily digested, so it is less likely to cause stomach upset than other fats. Taking coconut oil in the morning helps to train the body to use fat as fuel, instead of glucose. If an athlete can get their body out of sugar-burning mode – that can be a key advantage over the competition. I recommend adding a teaspoon or two of coconut oil to your morning smoothie, chia pudding, or oatmeal. A 1978 study also found that coconut oil increases the body’s production of hGH within 30-90 minutes of ingesting it. Coconut oil has some other key advantages – first, it is a m
5. Goji berries
Another ancient superfood with a rich history, the goji berry is a small red berry that has a slightly tart flavor. Also known as wolfberries, they can be eaten raw or made into a tea. Goji berries are known to naturally increase the body’s production of human growth hormone – which is known to improve performance and also has anti-aging effects.
Using nutrition is a healthy and ethical way for athletes to improve their performance, endurance, and recovery.
Note: although some foods can impact performance immediately, others will take longer to build up into the system – so allow up to 4 weeks of consistently taking them to reach the full benefit. Also, some people might notice a difference/benefit from adding superfoods, while others may not.
The other benefit of adding superfoods to your diet – is that they can offer many benefits beyond just performance and recovery enhancement – ranging from immune-boosting to disease-prevention.
A final word of advice to gain an edge? Don’t undervalue recovery. Like all things in nature, the body has a yin and yang, and in order to perform at your best – you need to be allowing your body the time to recover in order to perform at your best (read: The Yin and Yang of Sports Recovery and Are you Headed for Performance Burnout?).
Some links to studies/articles:
My son loves soup. You name it, he loves it. Chicken noodle, clam chowder, beef stew, lobster bisque, miso, lemon artichoke chicken, and even cream of broccoli soup. Sometimes we stop at Whole Foods for a snack, and more often than not he has – you guessed it – soup! The other day we were stopping in for a cup of soup when I saw it – broccoli cashew soup! Wow – what a cool idea, a dairy free cream soup made with cashews. We had a little taster, and both loved it. The lightbulbs started going off – oh the things I could make with cashew cream – cream of broccoli, clam chowder, alfredo…. I couldn’t wait to put my chef hat on, and give it a go myself. In fact, we had had broccoli with dinner the night before, and as I always do – I made extra, so I had some steamed broccoli already in the fridge. I grabbed some cashews, chicken stock (I love this new chicken bone broth from Pacific foods), and we were off. This is the delicious result!
Creamy Broccoli Soup:
Store any extra soup in the fridge for up to 3 days.
© copyright 2019 Sara Vance