you, like me, spending a lot of time in your kitchen these days, as we all ‘shelter
in place’ and follow social distancing mandates during this very difficult
kitchen has become my sanctuary. It is providing me with much needed activity
and purpose and is forcing me to exercise creativity daily as my pantry becomes
more and more empty.
beans, lentils, rice, barley, and pasta have become staples for many of us, I
am also trying to stock up somewhat on root vegetables, which have a longer fridge
and shelf life than many of their fresh counterparts.
Keep It Simple
my belief that always having a few basic ingredients on hand will ensure that
meals never become bland or boring.
me, the list includes extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onions, carrots, sweet
potatoes, and a variety of fresh or dried herbs and spices. Any soup or stew
that starts with sautéed onions and garlic as its base is sure to be flavourful.
Root vegetables, also known as tubers
or vegetables that grow underground, have been a staple in many South American
and Asian diets for thousands of years.
In addition to providing essential
nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and dietary
fiber, root vegetables are usually inexpensive and easy to prepare.
Studies suggest that including these
vegetables in our diet, with their numerous antioxidant properties, may help to fight cancer, diabetes,
obesity as well as inflammatory-based disorders like heart disease and
Examples of common root vegetables are:
potatoes, beets, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, sweet potatoes, fennel, Jerusalem
artichokes, jicama, yams, radishes, and turnips. Turmeric, garlic, and ginger
are also root veggies, even though we think of them more as spices.
The Potato in My Bed
I love roasted vegetables – so easy
to prepare, so flavourful, and so nutritious. Nothing is easier than using
leftover roasted vegetables and pureeing them into a soup.
Soup has always been the ultimate
comfort food for me, especially in winter. My TCM acupuncturist, who was a
medical doctor in China, strongly advocates including numerous root vegetables
in our diets, especially in winter, as they are ‘warming’ foods.
Because I suffer from rheumatoid
arthritis and low thyroid hormone, I am always cold. She has even encouraged me
to take a potato to bed with me, emphasizing that the earth’s warmth of this
tuber would be released in my bed. I can’t say that I have tried this yet!
Below is one of my favorite go-to
recipes for immune-boosting, vegan, gluten-free, yummy roasted vegetable soup. I
used butternut squash, but you can also use parsnips, sweet potatoes, yams,
Yukon potatoes, or any other root vegetable that you fancy. Change up the
ingredients and make it often!
In a large roasting pan, add:
- One butternut squash, halved and with the seeds scooped out
(or any combination of parsnips, sweet potatoes, Yukon potatoes, yams)
- 3 large carrots, peeled and quartered
- 3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
- Many cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
Drizzle the veggies liberally with
olive oil and add your favourite herbs and spices – smoked paprika, lemon and
pepper seasoning, garlic powder, rosemary and sea salt, etc. Add ¼ inch of
water to your roasting pan. Cover and roast the vegetables in a 375-degree F oven
for 75 to 90 minutes.
The aromas that fill your kitchen are
going to make you salivate! So, have a plateful of these veggies when they are
done, before you puree them into a soup.
After the veggies have cooled scoop out
the flesh of the butternut squash into a large stock pot. Add the other
veggies, mash them manually, and then add at least 2/3 litre of low sodium
With an immersion blender, puree the
veggies into a soup. Now is the time to add your favourite spices – ground
ginger, a little cumin and mild curry powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper. I
also added some ginger lemon sriracha spice blend – to give it a little ‘kick’.
The sweetness of the squash combined
with the savoury spices will leave a lingering taste sensation on your palate!
I made this soup again yesterday, and
when I finally sat down to savour and enjoy it, my only regret was that I
couldn’t share it with friends around my dinner table, given our current social
Instead, I solemnly enjoyed this meal alone and before eating it, gave thanks to God and prayed that this daunting global pandemic would soon come to an end. Stay well and stay safe, everyone.
How have mealtimes changed for you during this unprecedented time of self-isolation and social distancing? Are you enjoying cooking, or do you see it as a simple necessity? What suggestions do you have to keep meals simple yet nutritious? Please share a recipe in the comments