The colder the weather the more I crave rich, warm soups and stews. This recipe has a unique mix of vegetables and spices and features lots of cancer preventing phytonutrients. It features sweet potatoes and cauliflower, an unusual combination but one I love. The cauliflower makes the soup super creamy and smooth. I think I will add it to other root vegetable soups. I adapted this recipe from Dr. Mark Hyman’s new book, Food, What the Heck Should I Cook? (Published December 2019 by Little, Brown Spark) I love all his work surrounding food and health.
Here is my take on Soul Food Sweet Potato Soup:
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoons chili powder
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 small head cauliflower, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cups filtered water
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ lime or to taste
¼ cup tahini
1 teaspoon sea salt
Dab of coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey
4 cups spinach, finely chopped plus more for garnish.
*the original recipe calls for fresh cilantro but many of my friends and family do not like the taste of cilantro so I left it out, but if you are a fan add it to the onions, celery and garlic.
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add in onions, garlic and celery. Cook until onions and celery are soft. Cook for about another minute adding in the cumin, and chili powder. Stir well.
2. Add the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, water, and paprika and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. In a high powered blender, add the lime and blend until smooth. Set aside. Blend the vegetables and broth, adding in the tahini and sea salt. Add in the lime to taste. Add in sweetener to taste.
4. To serve, place finely chopped spinach in a bowl and pour hot soup on top. Garnish with more spinach on top.
*Note: I used a whole lime on my first attempt and found it overpowered the taste of the vegetables. I reduced to ½ lime and added a little sweetness and perfection!
At this time of year, your body is craving warmth. Cooked foods nourish your body and soul. Avoid cold drinks and smoothies, switch instead to healing teas and cocoas. The key is to find a drink that is both delicious but also nutritious. Most take out beverages are full of sugars that cause inflammation. The following homemade drink is anti-inflammatory, easy to make, and full of nutritional benefits. This latte features Rooibos Tea which is Native to South Africa, and comes from the Aspalathus linearis plant. It has been used for centuries and is highly regarded for its health benefits. A serving of this tea contains iron, potassium, zinc, copper and magnesium and has been shown to balance hormones, prevent diabetes, soothe digestion, regulate blood pressure and prevent aging. On top of all that, it’s anti-inflammatory! The spices in this latte also have many health benefits. Enjoy!
Chai Rooibos Tea Latte
1 cup water
1 rooiboos tea bag
½ cup lite canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves, allspice, and cardamom
Pinch of black pepper
1 tsp. raw honey (optional)
In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Prepare a mug for the tea bag, pour the boiling water over it and allow it to steep for 5 to 7 minutes. While the tea steeps, place the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until totally combined and smooth. Return this mixture to the small pot and heat over medium heat until hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the tea bag from the mug and add the milk mixture. Stir in the honey (optional).
Check out other healthy drink options in my book, Fight Fire with Food. Check it out at susannej.com.
If you have ever had trouble sleeping you are well aware of the consequences of lack of sleep: fatigue,decreased brain function, cognitive decline, skin problems, insulin resistance, obesity, increased risk of major disease and accelerated aging. A good night sleep is paramount in maintaining good health and preventing aging. Here are some important tips to help increase deep sleep:
1. Your circadian rhythm is your internal biological clock triggering hormones like melatonin that
we need for adequate sleep. Sunlight is required to produce the melatonin we need at night.
The best time to get this dose of sunlight is first thing in the morning. So going for a walk in the
morning is the best way to get a good sleep at night. Cloudy day? No worries, there are still
melatonin producing rays.
2. No screen time for two hours preceding bedtime. Take a warm bath, read a book, and do some
3. Make your room pitch black, or as dark as possible. Black out curtains, getting rid of night lights
and electronics with lights on them, and wearing a sleep mask or hood all help. You will not
produce melatonin when there is light in the room.
4. Eating late at night dramatically affects your sleep. Try to finish your supper by 7 and avoid late
night munching. Eating something sugary leads to a blood sugar spike and then a crash that
triggers a release of adrenaline which keeps you up until 3 p.m.
5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or drug use before 2 p.m. All suppress REM sleep.
6. Go to bed before 10 p.m. for better quality sleep and a balanced circadian rhythm. Try to be
consistent regarding going to bed and getting out of bed times.
7. Exercise regularly but no aerobic exercise before bed.
8. Drink herbal teas before bed such as chamomile, valerian, passion flower, lemon balm, talsa or
holy basil, kava or lavender. I rarely recommend a particular product, but I do like Distinctly
Tea’s Good Night tea blend. I have found it to be the most effective. Their website is
9. A warm glass of milk and some ashwaganda are my go to, but there are many supplements that
help sleep. Magnesium, melatonin, passionflower, valerian root, lemon balm, GABA, L-
Theanine (from green tea), Vitamin B6 and Lactam ( bioactive milk-derived peptides) are some
10. After my last restorative yoga class one of my students told me she slept 9 hours straight and
woke up pain free for the first time in months. We need to activate the parasympathetic
nervous system (versus sympathetic, fight or flight, system) in order to sleep and heal. Come to
a class or start a home practice of restorative poses before bed. (Read previous blog on
restorative yoga at susannej.com)
Getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep is recommended by most professionals but the quality of sleep is even more important. During deep sleep our body and mind renews, heals and regenerates. This is important for our cells, brains, energy level maintenance, and for strengthening our immune system. I hope these tips help. Sweet dreams.
I love to have soup ready for busy lunches and dinners when I am on the run, but have you ever tried combining squash and broccoli? This week I’m sharing a new recipe for broccoli squash soup that is thick and rich and can be made to taste like broccoli cheddar soup if you like. Make it totally dairy free and gluten free, as well. Win/win!
Check out other great soups in my cookbook, Fight Fire with Food.
Here’s my version of broccoli squash soup.
2 to 4 tbsp. (30 to 60 ml) avocado or coconut oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup diced onion and celery
3 cups (420 g) cubed butternut squash
2 cups (500 ml) unsweetened almond, or coconut milk
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth (or bone broth)
3 cups (273 g) broccoli, chopped
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 to 2 tbsp. maple sugar
*½ cup (24 g) nutritional yeast, parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese
*I love the soup without this ingredient but the yeast or cheese give it a more true broccoli cheddar taste. Try it both ways.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, celery and onion. Cook until onion and celery soften. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the squash.
Cover and cook for 4 minutes or until squash is soft and golden brown. Add the broccoli, milk, broth, spices, vinegar and maple syrup. Add nutritional yeast, if using. Bring to a low boil and cook until vegetables are soft. Blend using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree until creamy and smooth.
If using cheese, add just before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Worried about stress and disease? Get a good night’s sleep! Ahh, but how to get enough consistent sleep? How to avoid waking up tired and cranky?
First, let’s discuss the importance of sleep and look at what lack of sleep can cause:
It’s the time of year when chronic stress can build causing unwanted physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety, flu and general fatigue will flourish just when you have the least amount of time for dealing with them!. Your best defense is to be ready with a plan to prevent illness and help you cope with all the demands on your time.
Here are some tips that help calm the nervous system:
Though ideal, it is not always realistic to get all our nutrients from our food. If you were prescribed high dose vitamin C (5000 mg) by your health practitioner, you would have to eat 75 oranges to get that amount of Vitamin C into your body. That’s a lot of oranges. Supplementation is clearly the simpler route. However, when faced with the plethora of vitamin brands in the market, how is one to choose? Here are some hints, facts and recommendations:
Last week I discussed common vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This week I'd like to focus on
what to do if you have symptoms of deficiency. First of all, get your blood work done to confirm that your symptoms are due to deficiencies and not something else. Ask your doctor for specific vitamins to be tested and explain the need. A naturopath can also request blood work.
Here are some hints to improve your vitamin and mineral profile:
1. Taking a good quality multi-vitamin is like an insurance plan against malnutrition. Most cover
the full spectrum of vitamin and minerals needed for good health. Avoid any brands that have
fillers, chemicals, or preservatives listed in the ingredients, active or non-active ingredients.
2. Eat from the earth. A whole foods diet with a broad range of foods works best.
3. Eat vegetables and fruits especially superfoods like berries, apples, onions and greens that
contain healing antioxidants.
4. Avoid Frankenfoods (manufactured, processed foods) which are full of chemicals and toxins.
5. Eat both prebiotic and probiotic foods for good digestion. Poor digestion and gut health inhibits absorption of vitamins and minerals so work on your gut microbiome.
6. Sugar and alcohol taken with a meal inhibit the absorption of precious nutrients from your meal. Cut down on these saboteurs!
7. Our food today doesn’t necessarily provide all the nutrients our bodies need. Add individual
supplements to your vitamin regime depending on symptoms. A nutritionist can advise you on
which you may need and optimal amounts.
Optimal health depends on a solid foundation of nutrients available for your bodies use. Your body utilizes vitamins and minerals to perform hundreds of functions in your body. They heal wounds,protect your vision, boost your immune system, and help maintain bone health. There is a reason we call them “essential” as most disease can be attributed to a poor diet and most conditions can be helped, or even cured, by proper nutrition.
Study after study reveals that North Americans are not eating enough vegetables and fruits. A new study finds that there are many who do not even eat one serving per day. This is why malnutrition is common in our society even though there is an abundance of food available for most. In my years providing nutritional counselling I have never seen anyone have perfect blood work if minerals and vitamins are tested along with the standard blood work.
The most common deficiencies I see are:
1. Vitamin D – it is believed that at least 40 per cent of Canadians have less than the minimum
requirement for D. Many experts believe this minimum level is way to low for optimal bone,
mental health and disease prevention. Symptoms may take years to display themselves.
2. Iron – deficiency effects 25% of population worldwide. Young children, menstruating and
pregnant women and vegans and vegetarians have increased risk of deficiency unless great care
is taken with diet. Symptoms include fatigue weakened immune system, and impaired brain
3. Vitamin B12 - is necessary for every cell in your body to function especially your brain and
nerves. It is believed that much of dementia among the elderly is actually a B12 deficiency as
absorption decreases with age.
4. Magnesium - defiency is common among 50 per cent of the population and even more
common among the sick, elderly, those that take prescription drugs, and those with digestive
5. Vitamin A – is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and is vital for a healthy immune
6. Iodine – deficiencies are more common due to the use of sea salt versus processed salt which is fortified. 1/3 of people are lacking worldwide. Iodine is essential for thyroid function, brain
and bone development and maintenance.
These deficiencies result in serious symptoms and have long term consequences. Get tested so you know for sure where you stand and eat a whole foods diet high in vegetables and fruits.
Supplementation is also recommended. A good multivitamin is good insurance.
What most people don't know is that they are deficient in nutrients. When I was diagnosed with cancer I discovered that I was deficient in Vitamins D, B12, and Iron. I was also deficient in melatonin, magnesium and zinc. All of these vitamins and minerals are linked to increased cancer risk and present themselves in symptoms that we often ignore.
Here are some of the symptoms you should never ignore:
1. Pale skin or unusual pallor
2. Ridged or spoon-shaped nails
3. Mouth issues - cracked lips, ulcers, fissures, swollen tongue
4. Fatigue and muscle weakness
5. Food cravings
6. Inability to loose weight
7. Lightheadedness, feeling faint, heart palpitations
8. Constipation or diarrhea
9. Skin problems
10. Hair loss
11. Neurological disorders - vision issues, dementia, brain fog
12. Numbness and tingling
13. Menstrual issues
14. Depression and Anxiety
if you have these symptoms ask your doctor for blood work so that you can start a vitamin regime.
Stay tuned for the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Susanne Jakubowski is a holistic nutritionist, yoga teacher, Thai Yoga Therapist, and cancer survivor.