Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I tried this recipe from Lifetime Fitness magazine because I thought it fit perfectly with my new way of eating. I'm trying to eat more like a 'hunter/gatherer' with much more kale, spinach, collard greens, cauliflower, and broccoli in my diet along with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and protein. Basically, it's as little grain as possible with NO white: no white flour products, no sugar (I may cheat a little here because there's always sugar in chocolate, even the dark chocolate I limit myself to), no regular pasta, no white rice, etc. When I do eat grains I try to keep it to whole grains.

It is extremely hard to make the change because there is 'enriched wheat flour' (translation: white flour) in so many products that call themselves 'whole grain.' If a loaf of bread, for example, doesn't say '100% Whole Grain' then it most likely has white flour in it. And sugar is a tough one to stay away from in bread. It makes the yeast happy with great, yummy results but it's just so bad for you!

New research has shown that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease and that without inflammation in the artery wall there is no way for cholesterol to accumulate. With repeated injury to our arteries by eating the wrong food, food that our bodies were never intended to process, the result is chronic inflammation. According to an article by Dr. Dwight Lundell: "What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods."

If you are interested in reading the full article, you can find it here. It will be an eye-opener for you because it poo-poos the common thought that fats are our problem.

Back to the soup. It tastes good and healthy! I added tomato as you will read below.

Italian Wedding Soup

With Chicken Meatballs and Parsley

For the soup base:

1 T. olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

8 cups chicken stock

1 bunch broccoli rabe (also called rapini)(about 4 cups)

1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, chopped

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, to garnish

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground chicken (I used ground thigh meat)

1 egg

1/4 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 t. salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil (I used more than 1 T.) and saute the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until al dente. Add chicken stock and simmer until vegetables are tender.

While stock is simmering, make the meatballs by mixing the ground chicken with the egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Shape into small balls with a teaspoon or a small scoop and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Add to the simmering soup.

Add the broccoli rabe, parsley and cannellini beans and simmer five minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese.

A few hints: along with using more olive oil than what they call for, I added a can of diced tomatoes. And I also cooked the soup longer than five minutes so that the broccoli rabe stalks would soften more. When I make this soup again in the future, I won't use the bottom, thicker stalks of the rabe; I will use the leaves and little broccoli flowers from the tops of the plants.

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