To live naturally … When I started the redesign of my site, a year ago, I knew I wanted it to be a place to have the conversation with friends and family about things like Minestrone soup and our everyday life choices. The goal is to help us all “live more naturally”. About 6 years ago I began transitioning into a healthier more natural lifestyle. I chose to cut out processed foods from my diet, gave up soda and replaced it with water. I exercised 5 days a week. I started cycling, rollerblading, doing Pilates and yoga. I even learned how to lift free weights and found myself very comfortable in the weight room with the big boys. I became more and more educated on nutrition as a whole and by the time I turned 40, I was in the best shape of my life! Overall I thought I was living a very balanced healthy life, and then shockingly I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There is nothing like a cancer diagnosis to shake things up. Cancer made me rethink everything, starting with my diet.
I will never know why I got cancer at 43 with no family history, nobody knows why … but now more than ever before, it’s important to me to live as naturally as I can.
Reducing my exposure to chemicals and toxins in my everyday life has been an ongoing process and I am always surprised by how much and how little I know on the subject. There is so much to learn about what is in our food and how it impacts our health. The amount of information out there can be overwhelming for all of us, so today, I want to share with you some basic information about just one thing;
Bisphenol A, aka – BPA
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics. It is the main component in many plastics we find in our day to day lives. It is in everything from water bottles, plastic wrap, to the lining of canned foods. The reason BPA can be a problem is because it has been found to act as an estrogen hormone disruptor in our bodies. What this means is, that when we ingest BPA (because it leaches into our food from the packaging) it mimics estrogen in our bodies and throws off our normal hormone levels, this is never a good thing. Hormone disruptors have been linked to many health risks and increased risks of certain kinds of breast cancers. My particular type of breast cancer was estrogen receptor+ and very aggressive, so as you can imagine, reducing my exposure to BPA has become rather important.
To avoid or minimize my exposure to BPA, I avoid buying most canned foods. Canned food containers are lined with BPA that leaches into your food. Tomatoes, being specifically acidic are the worst culprit and should never be purchased in a can. The only exception I make to this rule is when I need a small amount of beans, like for this Minestrone soup. Soaking and cooking beans is not hard, but it does take time. I know many of you are just trying to kick the Pop Tart habit, so I want to give you an alternative to buying a canned soup which can be loaded with preservatives and other yucky stuff. The only brand of canned beans I buy are from a company called Eden Organics who line their cans with vegetable resin enamel.
Soup is a regular meal here at my house. When life gets busy, it’s an easy way to make something comfy and heartwarming without a lot of effort. Making a big pot of soup also means I can cook once and turn it into two meals. One day I serve the soup with a side salad and another day maybe a baked potato. Minestrone is one of my favorite classic soups. I love that flavorful rich tomato broth and I add lots of beans for protein. Not only are beans creamy and delicious, they are budget friendly and replacing meat with beans helps my family cut down on our animal protein consumption. I also love adding quinoa to my Minestrone soup. It is a grain I always have as a staple in my pantry, it is loaded with protein and bulks up anything it is added to. It also tastes great! Natural food just tastes better, you won’t be disappointed. Knowing that you are eating something that is good for you makes the effort worth it. ~Enjoy
|Quinoa Minestrone Soup|| || |
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into medium dice, about 2 cups
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice, about 2 cups
- 4 celery stalks, cut into medium dice or half moons, about 2 cups
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1Tablespoon of good quality Italian seasoning
- 4 cups low sodium organic chicken or organic vegetable broth
- 1 - 25 ounce jar of Eden organic crushed tomatoes with roasted onion
- 1 – 15 ounce can Eden organic BPA free, red kidney beans, drained
- 1 - 15 ounce can Eden organic BPA free, cannellini beans, drained
- ½ cup dry organic quinoa
- Rind of parmesan wedge *optional
- pinch of red pepper flake
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Olive oil
- Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley - roughly chopped for garnish
- Heat a large soup/stock pot over medium heat. Add oil and once hot ; add the onions, carrots, and celery. Sweat the vegetables for 3-4 minutes with a sprinkle of kosher salt, or until the onions and are soft and translucent.
- Add in the garlic, Italian seasoning, broth, tomatoes, beans, quinoa, parmesan cheese rind, pinch of red pepper flake, and salt & pepper – stir to combine and simmer for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender.
- Adjust seasoning and serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped flat leaf parsley.
- Overnight the soup may thicken (the quinoa will soak up the liquid). Warm over low heat and add in more broth to desired consistency.