Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cold Comfort Lunch

We're still fighting this cough thing. Now Blair says her upper teeth hurt when she bites down—a sinus infection? So, I dug out my nutritional materia medica and tossed together this lunch yesterday:

Cold Comfort Lunch
Chop 2 garlic cloves, set aside. Cook a pound of orzo in a quart of boiling vegetable broth for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let it absorb the moisture while it cools. While that's all going on, chop a small onion, six shiitake mushrooms and eight green beans into tiny bites. Steam those with the garlic for 5 minutes, drain. Toss the veggies in a large bowl. Drain the orzo and add that to the bowl. In the pan you steamed the veggies over medium heat, toss 1/4 cup of pine nuts until toasty and light brown, but don't let them sit or they'll burn. Add those to the bowl. Strip the leaves from eight or nine stalks of fresh thyme, grate 2 carrots and add the thyme leaves and carrots to the bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth and 1/4 cup raisins. Add that in and toss all together. Serve with a little parmesan on top.

Garlic and onion are prized for their immune-boosting and infection-killing abilities. Shiitake mushrooms have antiviral properties. Thyme is a miracle worker when it comes to calming coughs (we have a bowl of boiling water with thyme for the kids to "tent" their heads when they start coughing.) The fresh lemon juice is a great source of vitamin C, and raisins are alkaline. Orzo is filling, and the small pieces of veggies are easy to chew and nutritious, making this meal a real "comfort food" for when colds strike.

At snack time, I didn't want the kids eating a bunch of immune-suppressing sugar, but they wanted something sweet. I also wanted a big nutritional "BANG" for those who are not feeling well enough to eat a lot. So of course, I turned to sweet potatoes! Ah, all that orangy goodness. You just can almost feel the beta carotene working its wonders on you. Of course, they taste great, or they wouldn't get eaten!

I just peeled and sliced 3 large sweet potatoes in 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices and tossed them in a big bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil. Onto a pan-sprayed cookie sheet, into a 500° oven for 20 minutes, and voila! Snacktime! They were crispy on the outside and sweet and chewy on the inside. Didn't even need salt.

I wanted something for dinner that would be soothing on upset tummies, cough-suppressing and warming, but not overly filling, and this chowder fit the bill.

I call it The More (Vegetables) The Merrier Chowder

I mixed together 3 cups of vegetable stock, a large chopped onion, a tablespoon of stripped thyme leaves, a teaspoon of cumin, 2 cloves of minced garlic and got it boiling. I turned the heat down to simmer and covered it for five minutes. I stripped a cob of corn and tossed that in with a handful of frozen peas, four stalks of chopped bok choy, three stalks of chopped celery, a chopped up red bell pepper, two chopped carrots and two chopped zucchini. I let it simmer for about 15 minutes while I put the bread in the oven to warm. Now, I'm not normally a fan of white bread, but this meal just screamed out for an Italian loaf and I didn't have a whole wheat one ready. In a separate bowl, I mixed together 3 cups of milk, three tablespoons of peanut butter and a dash of Tabasco. I added that to the soup and stirred it around. It was the perfect eating temperature almost immediately. We had elderberry preserves on the bread, well, the kids did. I dunked my bread in the chowder!

Kate was still hungry after dinner and wanted something sweet, so she put together this yummmmmmmy dessert:

The Cider House Pears

Boil a cup of apple cider with a 4-inch sprig of rosemary, cover and reduce heat to simmering. Add five sliced pears and simmer five minutes. We served it with whipped cream.
Yup, that's Kate's hand!

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