I have recently plunged myself into a dangerous but rewarding habit: I take my credit card and 3 grocery bags to Whole Foods every couple weeks and fill them with my heart’s desires. Dangerous, because I am only a college student and being broke comes with the title. But also super rewarding because it gives me that chance in my day to release a little of my creative and curious side in cooking. Who doesn’t want to spend their study breaks creating new spontaneous dishes??
I’m particularly proud of the couple dishes I invented this week while sick. I think I speak for most when I say that warm soups and comfort foods are most praised when you’re sick. This week I decided to grocery shop for all my comfort foods and take them to the next level to add some healthy qualities to them. Here’s my new gluten free chicken noodle soup recipe:
- 1 container of Pacific Foods Low Sodium chicken broth
- 1 roasted chicken breast
- Gluten free noodles (clearly didn’t measure these)
- 1.5 cups organic parsley
- 1/2 organic lemon
- 3 organic bundles of bok choy
- 1 russet potato, diced
- A hint of garlic – used powder but next time I think I’m going to boil the garlic in with the water for immune purposes
- Salt and pepper to taste
It didn’t exactly compare to the store-bought soup with also has carrots and celery and whatever else but I was proud that the ingredients in my soup were not only familiar but organic and not processed. Even though the noodles were processed, I was content with the idea that they were gluten free so my gut was thanking me anyway.
There’s a current hype about bok choy being a superfood that contains anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, immune boosting properties, high loads of vitamin A, and much more. Seriously, if you Google search for “Bok Choy” the first page that pops up talks about the incredible benefits provided when you eat this vegetable. And the best part is? It can be added to nearly any dish as it’s own side or as part of the main dish! For those of you who know me, all the properties that bok choy possess are essentials in my lifestyle. They are never plentiful enough in my diet! Garlic and lemon historically have been known to aid in immunity and overall wellbeing as well, so those are a MUST in most the food I make.
I suppose if I wanted to up my game I would boil my broth with chicken bones and veggies like my mom used to do, to support my immune system. I could also probably substitute russet potatoes with sweet potatoes seeing as those are superfoods as well. There’s always some sort of creative way to include healthy foods with amazing benefits into your diet, and this is something I’m learning quite quickly and I’m finding that it’s really easy to do. Sweet potatoes also go along well with grilled chicken, baked salmon (an anti-depressant and omega-3 load) and pork chops. I use coconut oil in place of butter in all scenarios now too, so making mashed sweet potatoes (or really anything that requires butter originally) is quite tasty and super healthy!
I made another dish the other night that were basically shrimp tacos but with no fatty or “unhealthy” ingredients. I used gluten free corn tortillas, fresh organic avocado, cilantro, and tomatoes, and then I sautéed the shrimp in a skillet with garlic, coconut oil and lemon juice. I sprinkled some arugula on top of the tacos just to throw in that extra “green leaf” so I’d benefit from Vitamin A and calcium. Essentially, these are the benefits I gave myself just by throwing in random veggies:
- Tomatoes: Anti-inflammatory and source of vitamin C, A, E and folate – also high in fiber
- Arugula: Vitamin C, folate and calcium
- Coconut oil: Well we all should know how beneficial coconut oil is – it’s become a popular fad these days with it’s many properties such as: anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, bone health, digestion aid, hydration… you name the benefit and coconut oil probably provides it
- Avocado: Also a super food because of it’s healthy saturated fat content, fiber content, and ability to lower cholesterol levels
- Shrimp: Vitamin B12 and Iodine
- Garlic and lemon: Vitamin C, Immune and antioxidant properties
Who knew that I could be dramatically increasing the nutrients I take in just by randomly selecting vegetables to add to my meals? I’m clearly having a lot of fun with this, and I love tracking how nutrient dense my foods are ever since I learned how delicate my immune system was. I need all the help I can get, and it inspires me that food can be the answer to my deep-rooted digestion issues, immune weakness and overall wellbeing.
So next time you make a meal, consider what kinds of benefits you can give yourself just by adding a few slices of tomato, or a couple cloves of garlic. I’m personally inspired by the plentiful amounts of nutrients I can add to my everyday diet and I find myself consciously doing this every meal. Even if I cheat one day and I make mac n cheese, I will throw in some garlic or some arugula or other leafy green like spinach and then suddenly boom – my high carb, high fat, high dairy meal just gained some fiber and immune support! A little bit every meal can go a long way.
As I go through this creative and somewhat dangerous (to my wallet) phase in my college career I’ll be sure to share more recipes/benefits!