I once picked up a prepared Shepherds Pie at a large grocery store for an easy supper for my son. As I walked towards the cash I started reading the list of ingredients and was shocked at all the preservatives and chemicals. How could such an easy recipe contain all these extra toxins? Needless to say, I put it back on the shelf and went home and made my own. This recipe is even healthier than the traditional with use of sweet potato and grass fed beef.
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Fill a large pot with water. Place sweet potatoes into water and bring to a boil. Cook for 12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Transfer potatoes to a food processor if you want the top nice and smooth or use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes. A potato masher also works. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, ghee or butter and non-dairy milk of your choice to the potatoes. Set aside.
In a large frying pan, on medium heat sauté the ground meat until no longer pink. Once done, set aside on a plate. In the same pan with heat on medium, cook onions. After a few minutes, add carrots and cook for 5 more minutes. Next add the yellow pepper and cook for 2 more minutes and then the thawed peas, garlic, fresh herbs and finally the ground meat. Mix until combined. Add the tomato paste and veggie stock mixing it well into the ground meat mixture. Remove from heat and spoon evenly into an 8” x 10” baking dish
Spoon sweet potato mixture on top. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
I love this soup because it takes the already adaptable and healing cauliflower and elevates it to a new level of healthiness. This is due to its anti-inflammatory properties that are enhanced by the addition of ginger, turmeric, and garlic. The onions are caramelized and the garlic is roasted adding a depth of flavor to the soup. The turmeric gives it a deep yellow color. This is a good “get back on track soup” especially if you are feeling rundown or achy but also special enough to serve to company.
Healing Cauliflower Soup with Onion and Garlic
Makes 4 servings
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 to 4 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets (one small cauliflower)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
15 roasted garlic cloves, peeled and stabbed with a knife
2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne or to taste
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 cups spinach or 1 ½ cups chickpeas
Roast your garlic: start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Keep the peel on the garlic cloves and pierce with a paring knife. Place the cloves on a cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 16 to 20 minutes or until the garlic is browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the garlic.
While the garlic is cooking, in a large pot sauté the onion with a few tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt until the onions are completely translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir often and add more water to prevent burning. Add the turmeric and cauliflower and sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
Turn the heat off and transfer the soup to a blender. Add the roasted garlic, tahini, ginger, lemon juice, cayenne, and salt to the blender and blend until completely smooth.
Return the soup to the pot. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper if needed. If using chickpeas or spinach add to the pot and warm over low heat. Garnish with fresh herbs or with a drizzle of tahini.
I made this cake for a birthday celebration and it was a huge hit. It is gluten and sugar free but you would never know it. It tastes like the real thing. I used walnuts but pecans are an option. Its a very fragile cake so be extra careful taking it out of the baking pans. I used a cream cheese icing. If you are dairy free check out your local health food store for dairy free versions or skip the cream cheese icing and just eat the cake plain or use coconut milk whipped cream.
3/4 cups monk fruit sugar (or coconut sugar)
3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
1 tablespoon black strap molasses (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cup grated carrots, loosely packed
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, 1 cup for batter, and 1/2 cup for topping
Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (177 C) LIne two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the bottom and sides.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and monk fruit, until fluffy. Beat in the molasses, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Stir in the grated carrots. Fold in the 1 cup of nuts, reserving the other 1/2 cup for the top of the cake.
Transfer the batter to the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is springy to the touch or a toothpick comes out without any raw batter on it.
Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes, before transferring them to a plate or wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
4 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into cubes
1/2 cup icing sugar Swerve or fine monk fruit
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon or more of heavy cream or coconut milk
Using a hand mixer beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla and sweetener. Add cream and beat again until creamy.
I love the simplicity of this recipe. Its easy and delicious. The blueberry sauce came from the August edition of Canadian Living. In the magazine they serve the sauce with a grilled chicken breast which I decided was a bit to plain as I was serving it to guests. Also I love the combination of lemon and blueberries so it was a win, win. Still simple but extra delicious!
Chicken with Blueberry Sauce
8 organic chicken breasts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or use dried
1 teaspoon arrowroot starch or tapioca starch
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Place chicken breast in a bowl or baking dish and pour the olive oil and lemon juice over them. Place in the fridge to marinade for 1 hour or longer.
In a small saucepan, heat half of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add blueberries, vinegar, maple syrup, rosemary, cornstarch and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until blueberries burst and sauce has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your barbecue and cook the chicken until no longer pink inside approximately 3 to 5 minutes per side at a medium high heat.
Serve with blueberry sauce and vegetables. I served with carrots and asparagus and potato salad.
My friend, Pam, recommended this recipe. She follows Tieghan Gerard from Half-Baked Harvest and has enjoyed many of her posts. I love it because it is fast and easy and made in one pan. It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I added mushrooms to the original recipe and have tried it with pickerel instead of salmon and it was equally delicious. I used coconut milk and was pleasantly surprised that it didn't taste in the least bit coconutty. This is a great recipe to serve to guests and the leftovers are yummy the next day.
Salmon with Creamy Feta Sauce
4 salmon fillets, skin on or off
Sea Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion or shallot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup canned full fat coconut milk or heavy cream
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
Juice of one lemon
Fresh basil and thyme, for serving
Season the salmon with salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon, skin side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the salmon is crisp. Flip and continue cooking for another couple of minutes or until salmon is cooked. Remove from the skillet and remove skins and discard.
In the same skillet, add butter, zucchini, mushrooms and shallots, and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes, cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and feta. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then turn the heat down to simmer and stir constantly until the sauce is smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove from heat and slide the salmon back into the sauce.
To serve, plate each piece of salmon, and spoon sauce and vegetables on top. Serve topped with fresh basil and thyme.
Gluten free, healthy and looks appealing…? Can it be?
I am happy to say this one is a winner in all the above categories. Just a little pre-planning is needed as the dough requires refrigeration before cooking. I made the dough the night before and baked the cookies the next day. My colleagues did a taste test and gave them rave reviews! They loved how soft and chewy they were. When I got home the remainder of the cookies had been eaten by my family. I knew we had a winner when no one suspected they were actually healthy, as well!
There is a very slight coconut taste so if you do not like coconut try substituting the coconut oil for grass fed or vegan butter.
This is the perfect food to bring out to a picnic this weekend along with the Rhubarb Lemonade.
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 14 to 18 cookies
½ cup smooth almond butter
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg (or flax egg)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup almond meal
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar broken into small pieces
In a large mixing bowl combine the almond butter, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, egg and vanilla extract. Blend together until smooth. Add the almond meal, baking soda, and salt. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips or pieces.
Place the cookie dough in the fridge for at least an hour, but up to 24 hours. You want the dough to be firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out rounds of dough about 2 inches apart as the cookies will spread.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the centers are puffy. Cool before serving.
Two Treats today! Rhubarb is in season, oh yes it is!
Looking for a nice mild pudding that you can use as a base for any type of topping? Here you go! The possibilities are endless. In this version the rhubarb is a nice contrast to the milder base. If your rhubarb is green you can add one small beet diced into the rhubarb for color. Remove it before serving or leave it in. I used canned light coconut milk but any type of milk will work. Take the hard topping off and whip it with some sweetener to make a thick whipped cream. I served it with a fresh strawberry on top. I love strawberries and rhubarb together. Yum!
Chia Pudding with Rhubarb
1 cup (250 ml) light coconut milk*
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons chia seeds
Zest of a lemon
*If using canned coconut do not use the hard topping. You can save this part and whip it with some sweetener to make a whipped cream.
3 stalks rhubarb, ( 1 cup roughly chopped)
Juice of a lemon
1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup to taste.
To make the Pudding:
Add the coconut milk, honey, and vanilla to a bowl or jar. Whisk to combine.
Add the chia seeds and mix again, then cover and refrigerator for at least and hour, or until the seeds have gelled and the pudding is thick.
Place the rhubarb, lemon juice, and honey in a small saucepan.
Cover the pot with a lid and turn to medium heat and simmer until the rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes.
Set aside to cool fully.
Place pudding in a serving dish and place compote on top. Eat as is or add a dollop of whipped coconut or some diced strawberry.
This is a strange drink that I thought would be too sour but instead is refreshing and really does taste like lemonade. Your guests will not know that you have made it with rhubarb. The original recipe contained 4 cups but I found it a bit strong so I doubled the water. You might also want to increase the sweetener or try Monkfruit, Swerve, Truvia or even maple syrup.
3 stalks rhubarb chopped (2 cups)
1 to 2 litres water (4 to 8 cups)
Juice of 2 lemons (about ⅓ cup)
¼ cup (60 ml) raw honey
Place the rhubarb and water into a medium pot and heat on high. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture, then whisk in the lemon juice and honey.
Place in the refrigerator and cool for at least two hours or until cold, before serving.
Information presented in Conversations with Susanne: An Interview with Dr. Brian Smuk about the Immune System .
In this interview Dr. Brian and I take a deeper dive into what you need to do to support your immune system especially when it is challenged by a flu, virus, the common cold or more serious health challenges.
It is important to recognize that your immune system is an actual system that functions well when it's in balance and harmony. Research is looking at the effects of lifestyle choices on the immune system and although we are focusing mostly on supplements it is important to recognize the importance of other factors such as:
In regards to supplementation for a stronger immune system the Basic protocol includes:
Next we add Accelerators and Anti’s (supplements that work like an antibiotic):
Accelerators are typically site specific homeopathics or botanicals such as:
Echinacea - increases the number of white blood cells
Mushroom Extracts - Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tale, etc. boost the immune response
Oscillococcinum - is a homeopathic remedy said to shorten symptoms of colds and flu
Arsenicum, Belladonna, Ferrum phosphoricum are all remedies that can be used. Seek out a practitioner for help choosing the right remedy for you.
Anti’s are those supplements that are generally antimicrobial, antiseptic, antibacterial, and/or antifungal. They are:
Iodine - this ancient remedy is a mineral that helps grow and repair damaged cells.
Colloidal Silver - an antibacterial agent
Oregano Oil - antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
Garlic - it helps the body resist or destroy virus, unwanted microorganisms and infections
Ginger and Turmeric - both reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system
Elderberry - high in antioxidants and vitamins, prevents and eases flu and cold symptoms
Black Walnut - used to treat parasitic worm infections, infections and cancers.
Watch our video on my Youtube channel, Susanne Jakubowski, https://youtu.be/Jb7-857aAXw and https://youtu.be/1LFo4BXUyi8 to get a deeper understanding on how to use these remedies.
Gut Health - Time to make a change!
The really exciting news regarding your microbiome is that it only takes 3 days of eating for health to change. It does take longer to heal the gut lining itself (3 months to a year depending on actions taken) but in the meantime you will start to feel better both physically and mentally! Cravings will dissipate, weight will drop off, hormones will balance, mood will improve, inflammation will lessen, you will get better sleep, and lastly, gas and bloating will disappear. Hopefully, feeling this much better will be the incentive to keep you on track.
Here are my recommendations for healing the gut:
Please share and stay tuned for part 4, supplements for the gut.
What causes your gut lining to destruct?
Medical professionals are still trying to figure out what causes leaky gut. What we know is that a protein called zonulin is a regulator of intestinal permeability and when it is released into the gut it can lead to destruction of the gut lining. It pokes holes in it allowing toxins to seep into our blood.. If gluten or bad bacteria are added into the mix this disintegration of the lining may be more severe. It is believed this process is more likely to happen if you have a genetic predisposition to this process or have celiac or irritable bowel, but does happen to everyone if the lining is continually attacked.
As always, it is never one thing that causes imbalance in the body. It is believed that the following factors play a role in destroying our gut lining and poor digestive health:
Dysbiosis - a bacterial imbalance in the gut or more specifically the gut microbes. Too many harmful bugs and not enough helpful bugs exist. This can be a result of many factors but the use of antibiotics is a main factor.
Food/nutrition - a diet consisting of proteins that are found in unsprouted grains such as gluten, corn, soy and oats irritate the lining of our stomach. Dairy, GMO foods and sugars do the same.
Processed, fast or junk foods are filled with sugars, corn, soy and grains that are detrimental to your gut microbiome and your overall health. They also contain chemicals and pesticides that are foreign to our body resulting in inflammation.
Stress is always a causal factor in illness as it weakens our immune response. Harmful bacteria and viruses invade our body during these times.
Refined vegetable oils - now thought to be even more hazardous to our health then sugar due to their toxicity levels. Vegetable oils are mostly rancid by the time they get to your table or into your food. They are highly processed, are high in omega 6’s, and create free radicals in the body all of which triggers the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals leading to illness.
Artificial anything but particularly artificial sweeteners.
Gluten - grains such as barley, rye, bulgur, seitan, oats, spelt, kamut, contain gluten and are a main contributor to inflammation and disease. Everyday we are learning more about its detrimental effects.
Toxins by way of food, household and beauty products Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Whatever you lather on ends up being processed by your liver and kidneys.
Pesticides, GMO foods and non-organic foods.
Nutrient deficiencies - the majority of individuals are in some state of deficiency especially if you have health issues. In this state the body does not have the tools to repair itself or fight against the constant attack by toxins and irritants.
Common drugs are one of the biggest causes of leaky gut including antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin, oral contraceptives, chemotherapy drugs, and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) also known as acid reflux medications. As it turns out, these pills for the tummy do way more harm than good and are ineffective after long term use.
As outlined here, there are many causes of leaky gut! I wonder how our gut even has a chance. However, let me tell you, you can restore your gut! I have done it and I have helped many clients do it but you must be willing to make changes in your diet and lifestyle. If you are not sure it is worth it, you are so wrong. There is nothing more important than your gut health. It affects every aspect of your existence from your physical, mental and spiritual life.
Susanne Jakubowski is a holistic nutritionist, yoga teacher, Thai Yoga Therapist, and cancer survivor.