Ease that (sometimes) rocky road into Fall

You know how it is when you’re feeling like crap? It’s your body’s way of saying, look, we need a re-boot! Listen to me and just clear your books. We need a rest! You know it and I know it when that happens. The question is: do we pay attention?

I did when this happened to me recently, and I wanted to tell you how I wrangled self-care while feeling lousy.

Transition Time

It’s that time of year, September/October, when we’re transitioning into fall. We’re going from raw foods and the heat of summer to the precariousness of fall, that changes from warm or hot to rainy and cold in the blink of an eye. We’re a little more vulnerable. This is the perfect time to really pay attention to what your body is asking for, and what it’s rejecting! 

I can’t eat raw foods in the winter. When I started feeling lousy, my body started asking for warm foods. Do you sometimes feel that way during this in-between time? A craving for something warm, a shawl, even a cozy read?

To learn more about Transition Time and the wisdom of Chinese Medicine plus more delicious recipes, read:

Engineer a health reboot, really quick: make soup!

I was under the weather but not chained-to-my-bed sick. A project was certainly a possibility. But my body was saying, please don’t go into the studio and paint. Please don’t go for a long walk. Please don’t run errands this weekend. Our cells need a rest!

My body was clearly telling me in no uncertain terms that it’s soup time! 

Of course, soup starts with broth. My all-time favorite healing broth and soup stock is my own legendary Magic Mineral Broth. I am fortunate enough to have a very dear friend and neighbor, Julie Burford, who is my Soup Sister and co-conspirator in the making of soup. Either or both of us always have MMB in our freezers so we can make soup or provide a healing elixir at the drop of a hat. 

Except for this time. It was so early in the season, neither of us had started making it yet. What to do?

When you’re feeling like crap and you don’t have MMB in the house, it turns out a that a really good activity is to make MMB! It’s just cutting vegetables up in big chunks and throwing them in a pot with water, a couple of herbs, spices, sea salt and a strip of dried seaweed (one package lasts for ages) . And then curling up on the couch while the broth simmers and fills your house with a magically beguiling aroma. 

Ooops! How to fix it when it doesn’t turn out.

I, who rarely follow recipes, always, always follow the Magic Mineral Broth recipe. 

Except for this time.

My garnet yams and sweet potatoes were small, just babies. I didn’t measure the water. I took my great big stock pot (it’s the size of a small studio apartment in NYC), threw in my ingredients and let it go, for like 3 hours. I was getting the aroma, but it wasn’t as strong as it usually is. I tasted it. OMG! I screwed up the recipe. Noooooo! My own recipe! 

It was like a shadow of itself. Like when you make a print that’s your main print, then you run it through the press again, and that’s your shadow print. It wasn’t full throttle. 

The only way out was in. I didn’t have any more vegetables. I wasn’t feeling well. I wasn’t going to go out to the market. But I had some homemade chicken stock. I added some of that which made the broth richer. Then I put it on the stove and reduced it by half. Spot on! 

The moral of the story: soup making is alchemical. You can shape-shift it and make it work.  And here’s the best part: I filled a thermos, sat down and drank it all Saturday and Sunday. As soon as I started drinking it, I started feeling better! People tell me they experience this all the time.

I’ve gotten reader response emails every week about the Magic Mineral Broth since 2004 when One Bite at a Time came out. MMB is ALWAYS a topic of conversation.  I continue to receive anywhere from 2 to 20 emails a week with questions or comments about the broth. It’s quite wonderful! 

A couple of points: 

  • I do recommend following the recipe. :) But clearly, I’m still making mistakes myself after all these years! Remember, you can always add or reduce the liquid. In fact, reduction concentrates the flavor. You crank the heat up and boil down to about half the volume. Liquid gold.

  • NOW is the time to stock up. We’re in that precarious transition time. We had 100 degrees one day and a drop to 60 degrees the next. Don’t get caught off guard like me!

  • There’s no expiration date. MMB will last in your freezer well beyond 3 months. 

The perfect next step: make soups!

After I rescued my MMB and had a vat of lovely robust broth, I was inspired to make soups! I raided my pantry—I had carrots, celery, onions, a delicata squash, dried lentils and a couple of cans of black beans on hand—and made a delicious, nutritious trio of soups! And then I took a long nap. :)

Here saffron gives a luscious, exotic taste to the carrots, which are naturally sweet. (Saffron is rather expensive, but you only need just a little.) Saffron is also a visual delight; in this soup, the saffron looks like monks’ robes tossed against a vibrant orange background. Consider this dish a treat for all your senses.

It’s a myth that you have to soak lentils overnight; just a quick rinse will do. With a host of spices, cubed delicata squash, and thinly sliced kale, this is my go-to soup when I’m working hard and need a serious nourishment and flavor boost!

A staple of Latin cuisine, this black bean soup rocks because it’s a nutritional powerhouse—rich in protein and dietary fiber. The avocado cream adds a beautiful garnish plus healthy fat. Having friends or family over this weekend? Serve this and I guarantee they’ll all be saying “more, please!”

When you make soup, make extra! Eat some now and in the next several days and freeze the rest. You’ll easily build a valuable soup inventory in your freezer, all ready for the next perfect soup moments. A slam dunk.

What I’m reading

So, while I was making soup, I was listening to audiobooks! I’m a fan of listening to historical fiction. I used to be an NPR junkie, but I don’t want to go there these days! Highly recommended for fun self-care and recovery listening:

Cara Wall, The Dearly Beloved. A stunning first novel with well-developed characters and beautiful metaphors set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam War. Goodreads ranks it 4.5 stars.

Lara Prescot, The Secrets We Kept. A spy novel that takes place in the 50s during the Cold War, involving CIA secretaries smuggling the manuscript of Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago out of the USSR, so it can be published in the West.  

These are lose-yourself-in-the-story kinds of books. I went through them both in one weekend of wall-to-wall listening. Maybe my utter absorption caused me to put too much water in my broth?

What are your favorite audiobooks? Please add to the comments below. I’m always on the lookout. :)

THE TAKEAWAY: WHEN IN DOUBT, MAKE SOUP! DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE HEALING POWER OF WELL-MADE, MINERAL-RICH BROTH. EASY TO DIGEST, NOURISHING, RESTORATIVE. ADD SOME NAPS AND A DELICIOUS AUDIOBOOK OR TWO, AND YOU’LL BE ON THE MEND. :)