Weekly Dish: Hot ‘N Sour Soup

This is an incredibly nourishing soup when made using the proper techniques and ingredients.

[One caveat: Soybeans are a SOMETIMES food. We avoid them almost entirely, in any form (soy milk, soy “meat”, tofu, etc… Although, I haven’t ever tried Tempeh, which is fermented soybeans and would be okay also as a sometimes food.) This soup is our soybean exception. And only because the soybeans are sprouted. All the anti-nutrients in the soybean itself have been removed, but the phyto-estrogen (plant hormones) still remain. Phyto-estrogen can wreak havoc on a body, especially on young children, teens, men, and women in their childbearing and menopausal years. So, basically everyone at all times. Limit soy and make sure it is sprouted or fermented!]

This recipe is my Nana’s creation. She was notorious for doing this.  She went home and figured out the ingredients for this recipe after liking it so much at a local Chinese restaurant. (This was before the internet.) She has been gone for a few years now, but I still give all credit to her whenever it is due, which is often. I quadruple this recipe and add a tad more vinegar and a tad less sesame oil. I also omit the cornstarch and I just have a thin brothy soup. Just taste preference and my husbands current food limitations/allergies.  It’s a very versatile recipe and a staple in our home.

All of the ingredients should be able to be purchased at your grocery store or local health food store.

Hot ‘N Sour Soup

4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 teaspoon Real Salt
1 Tablespoon naturally fermented soy sauce or Liquid Aminos
1/4 cup pork or chicken, julienned  (I use chicken but pork does give a little more flavor because of the added fat)
1/4 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
4 shiitake mushrooms, dried and reconstituted* or fresh
1 square (1 package) sprouted** tofu, firm or extra firm
1/2 teaspoon hot chili paste (Sambal Oelek brand)
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
1 beaten egg
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 sliced green onions
Bring chicken stock, salt, soy sauce, pork/chicken, bamboo shoots and mushrooms to boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
Drop in Tofu and add chili paste and white vinegar. Bring to boil again.
Stir in arrowroot powder/cornstarch. Stir until soup thickens. Adjust cornstarch to adjust the thickness of the soup. Turn off heat and slowly pour in the beaten egg. Let stand for a few seconds, then stir to break up egg into soup.
Stir in sesame oil and garnish with green onions.
*Reconstitute dried mushrooms in hot water for at least half an hour.
**I found this at our local health food store (Whole Foods) next to the other tofu and soy products.


I am  sharing this at Real Food Wednesday.

FAT Is Your Friend, Pt. 3

Note: This is part 3 (of 3) in the “FAT Is Your Friend” series.

Let’s now talk about actual foods that contain fat that is beneficial to your body.  Don’t cut the fat off your beef, don’t use low-fat yogurt and buy lots and lots of butter!

Butter: High in vitamins A and D which is valuable in respect to growth, healthy bones, proper development of the brain and nervous systems, and normal sexual development.  Many studies have shown the importance of butterfat for reproduction; substitutes based on vegetable oils have led to infertility.

As butter consumption in America has declined, sterility rates have increased. Although long demonized by the vegetable oil industry, butter is one of the healthiest fats on the planet. It has a perfect fatty acid profile. Most of the fats in butter are saturated or monounsaturated, making it very stable. You can saute foods in butter, even at relatively high temperatures, and it will not break down. Butter contains medium-chain fatty acids, although in lower amounts. Uniquely, butter contains short-chain fatty acids with immune-stimulating and antimicrobial properties. Butter also contains the right amount and the perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Feel free to spread butter (ideally organic and grass-fed) to vegetables. Spread it on sprouted whole-grain bread or crackers. Add it to meat dishes and sauces. This will help ensure proper assimilation of the minerals and water-soluble vitamins in the vegetables, grains, and meat you eat–and also make your food satisfying and great tasting!

Whole Milk: Glycosphingolipids, fats that protect against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the very young and the elderly, are found in whole milk. Diarrhea occurs at rates 3-5x greater than children who drink whole milk. Real milk–full-fat, unprocessed, and from pastured cows–is a fully “self-sufficient” food, containing numerous enzymes that, when exposed to the specific pH of the intestinal tract, become active and assimilate the milk’s various components, making it easy for you to digest.

Eggs: Contain every nutrient the body needs except vitamin C. The whites provide the highest=quality protein of any food, and the yolks provide special fatty acids necessary for nerve function and if raised on pasture, provide generous amounts of vitamin D and A. Also supply choline and long-chain fatty acid DHA, both important for nerve function.

Since eggs contain high levels of cholesterol, various authorities promulgated the hypothesis that eating eggs raises cholesterol levels and thus contributes to heart disease. However, during the period when egg consumption in the US went into decline, rates of heart disease and other chronic diseases soared.

Contains lecithin, which assist in the proper assimilation and metabolization of cholesterol and other fat constituents and trace minerals.

The common denominator  among Eggs, Beef and Lamb, and Butter is cholesterol, which the body needs to produce a variety of steroids that protect against cancer, heart disease, and mental illness. It is the precursor to the sex hormones, stress hormones, bile salts, and vitamin D. Mother’s milk is high in cholesterol because it is essential for growth and the development of the brain and nervous system. No research has ever shown that cholesterol in natural foods causes heart disease. 

Oxidized cholesterol, on the other hand, can cause arterial damage. Heat and oxygen can damage cholesterol just as they do fats. Damaged, or “oxidized” cholesterol can injure arterial walls and lead to a pathological plaque buildup in the arteries. Both of these changes can results in heart disease. AVOID foods that contain damaged cholesterol, such as powdered eggs and powdered milk (which manufacturers add to reduced fat-milk, yogurt, and other dairy products to give them body– without stating this fact on the label.) Ironically, when you choose reduced-fat milks in order to avoid heart disease, you consume the very form of cholesterol that can cause heart disease.
Other very healthy fats:

Coconut Oil: Queen of saturated fats. High in lauric acid (antifungal agent that is also found in mothers milk), high in EFAs!

Cod Liver Oil: Critical for redressing the widespread deficiencies in vitamins A and D in the modern diet. Unless you have access to whole dairy products from pastured cows and also eat liver several times per week, you will not be getting the levels of fat-soluble vitamins that you need.

Beef and Lamb: Omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs occur in nearly equal amounts in the fat. The fat of pasture-fed beef and lamb, as well as butter made from pasture-fed cows, contain something called CLA which has strong anti-cancer properties. IT also encourages buildup of muscle and prevents weight gain. CLA disappears when cows are fed even small amounts of grain or processed feed.

Nuts: An extremely nutrient-dense food, supplying high levels of minerals, as well as B vitamins, some protein and lots of fat. The fat content of nuts ranges from 40-70%, most of it monounsaturated. A few varieties, particularly walnuts, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are very satisfying and make a great snack food, but be warned: they are calorie-dense and their monounsaturated fats can contribute to weight gain. Nuts are great if you lead an active life or don’t need to lose weight (or even need to gain weight), but they’re not for you if you need to take pounds off. Note: nuts need to be prepared correctly in order to be the most nutritious and to get rid of toxins. Soak raw nuts in salt water for 6-8 hours, then drain and dehydrate in a warm oven or dehydrator until completely dry and crisp.

Let’s examine the other dietary fats and oils to determine their usefulness and appropriateness in food preparation:

  • Duck and Goose Fat: Semi-solid at room temp. 35% saturated, 52% monounsaturated, 13% polyunsaturated. Omega-6 to Omega-3 proportion depends on what the birds have eaten. Stable and able to be used for frying.
  • Chicken Fat: 31% saturated, 49% monounsaturated, 20% polyunsaturated, most of which is omega-6 linoleic acid, although the amount of omega-3 can be raised by feeding chickens flax or fish meal, or allowing them to range free and eat insects. Inferior to duck and goose fat, but may be used for frying.
  • Lard: 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated, 12% polyunsaturated. Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio will vary according to the diet of the pics. In the tropics, lard may also be a source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Stable and a preferred fat for frying. Widely used in America at the turn of the century. Excellent source of vitamin D. (side note: Some researchers believe that pork products should be avoided because they may contribute to cancer. Others suggest that only pork meat presents a problem and that pig fat in the form of lard is safe and healthy. Investigation into the effects of pork consumption on blood chemistry has revealed serious changes for several hours after pork is consumed. The pork used was organic, free of trichinosis, so the changes that occurred in the blood were due to some other factor, possibly a protein unique to pork. In the laboratory, pork is one of the best mediums for feeding the growth of cancer cells. The prohibition against pork found in the Bible thus may derive from something other than a concern for parasite contamination or Jewish spiritual separation. However in fairness it must be noted that many groups noted for longevity, such as the people of Soviet Georgie and Okinawa consume pork meat and lard in their diet on a daily basis.)
  • Beef and Mutton Tallows: 50-55% saturated, about 40% monounsaturated and contain small amounts of polyunsaturates, usually less than 3%. Suet, which is the fat from  the cavity of the animal is 70-80% saturated. Suet and tallow are very stable and can be used for frying. Good source of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid.
  • Olive Oil: 75% oleic acid, the stable monounsaturated fat, along with 13% saturated, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linolenic acid. The high percentage of oleic acid makes olive oil ideal for salads and for cooking at moderate temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants. It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden-yellow color, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives. Olive oil has withstood the test of time; it is the safest vegetable oil you can use, but don’t overdo it. The longer chain fatty acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids founds in butter and coconut oil.
  • Flax Seed Oil: 9% saturated, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6 and 57% omega-3. Flax seed provides a remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance so prevalent in America today. New extraction and bottling methods have minimized rancidity problems. It should always be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads.
  • Tropical Oils: More saturated than other vegetable oils. Lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and in mother’s milk, has strong anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. Stable and can be kept at room temp for many months without becoming rancid. Highly saturated tropical oils do not contribute to heart disease but have nourished healthy populations for millennia.
  • Peanut Oil: 45% oleic acid, 18% saturated fat and 34% omega-6 linoleic acid. Like olive oil, peanut oil is relatively stable and therefore appropriate for stir-frys on occasion. But the high percentage of omega-6 presents a potential danger, so use of peanut oil should be strictly limited.
  • Sesame Oil: 42% oleic acid, 15% saturated fat, 43% omega-6 linoleic acid. Similar in composition to peanut oil. It can be used for frying because it contains unique antioxidants that are not destroyed by heat. However, the high percentage of Omega-6 militates against exclusive use.
  • Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean and Cottonseed Oils: All contain over 50% omega-6 and, except for soybean oil, only minimal amounts of omega-3. Safflower oil contains almost 80% omega-6. Research continues to accumulate on the dangers of excess omega-6 oils in the diet, whether rancid or not. Use of these oils should be strictly limited. They should never be consumed after being heated, as in cooking, frying, or baking. High oleic safflower and sunflower oils, produced from hybrid plants, have a composition similar to olive oil and are more stable than traditional varieties.  However, it is difficult to find truly cold-pressed versions of these oils.
  • Canola Oil: 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6 and 10-15% omega-3. The newest oil on the market, canola oil was developed from the rape seed, a member of the mustard family. Rape seed is considered unsuited to human consumption because it contains a long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions. Canola oil was bred to contain little if any erucic acid and has drawn the attention of nutritionists because of its high oleic-acid content. But there are some indications that canola oil presents dangers of its own. It has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Baked goods made with canola oil develop mold very quickly. During the deodorizing process, the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids, similar to those in margarine and possibly more dangerous. A recent study indicates that “heart healthy” canola oil actually creates a deficiency of vitamin E, a vitamin required for a healthy cardiovascular system. Other studies indicate that even low-erucic acid canola oil causes heart lesions, particularly when the diet is also low in saturated fat.