(Becky, the Mama.)
A sure-fire way to humble yourself is to announce: “I never (fill-in-the-blank)” publically. (Or worse, “My child will never…..”) And so when I declared, on Facebook that I almost never get sick, I should have known I was in for it.
For some unknown reason, for nearly a week, day after day, I forgot to take my daily regime of immune-boosting supplements (fish oil, odorless garlic, probiotics, super green food powder) and woke up one morning feeling as though I was swallowing razor blades.
I went on the attack with liberal doses of all my regular supplements above plus a couple of more exotic-sounding ones: olive leaf extract and astragalus. By mid-afternoon my throat had calmed considerably and by nightfall it did not hurt at all. (I did, however, get the standard stuffy head, runny nose bit – though, thankfully, without fever and it seems to be running its course fairly quickly.)
My husband was also out of town, so I had no choice but to practice good self-care and nourish my body as best I could, all by my lonesome.
In addition to honey-sweetened white tea (more nutrition-packed than green tea) laced with fresh grated ginger, and sips of Feel Good Blueberry Smoothie, I made two pots of healing soup.
First, I made a classic home-style chicken soup, a super quick and easy recipe I’ll share in coming weeks. The other, is my new favorite “healing soup” – a Thai Panang Curry soup, rich with cancer-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants from the ginger and spices, cruciferous veggies, shitake mushrooms (which contain a compound called lentinan, shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease) and vitamin & mineral rich kale. Coconut milk, too, has healing properties. It contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Afriend introduced me to my first good Thai Panang curry , when she bought us both take-out containers of it during a working writer’s lunch. It was love at first bite. It hit all the strong flavor notes I crave: spice from the curry and ginger, slightly sweet and creamy from the coconut milk, a touch of tang from fresh lime, and salty-savory-earthy from the mushrooms, veggies and broth.
It sounds so exotic, but I do not make complicated recipes, especially when I’m fighting a cold, so trust me – this is quick and easy. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand, or enjoy, in this basic recipe. I’ve included instructions for both tradition curry with rice and also the soup, in the recipe below.
“Healing” Panang Curry Soup
1 can coconut milk (I prefer whole fat as it makes a creamier soup).
1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth) — use 3/4 c if you prefer to make the thicker curry version
½ small jar Thai red curry (about 3 T – less if you prefer less spice) (This jar of curry is found in Asian section of most groceries now and is small, about the size of a baby food jar.)
1 t. fresh grated ginger (pinch of dried ginger if you don’t have fresh)
1 t. brown sugar
Soy sauce or sea salt to taste
1 c. rainbow slaw (or broccoli slaw)
1 large clove garlic
1 T. olive or coconut oil
1 T. butter
2/3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)
1 c. loosely packed, torn kale
1 fresh chopped tomato
2 sliced green onions
Slice of lime
Cilantro (sprig or chopped) and/or basil for garnish
Protein of your choice: grilled diced tofu, diced or shredded chicken; or cooked shrimp, 1/2 to 1 cup depending on preference. I use a small amount of chicken in the soup — as I like the veggies taking center stage in this soup. You could also sprinkle in toasted peanuts for added protein. For the curry and rice version I prefer shrimp, about 5 medium shrimp per person.)
Saute garlic with mushrooms, slaw and kale in oil and butter in a deep large skillet until just tender. Dump all the ingredients except the last three (green onions, lime, cilantro or fresh basil ) into a large skillet and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy. Add chopped fresh tomato last, and stir to heat through. Ladle veggies and broth into each bowl, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro or basil (or chop it up and sprinkle), some green onions, and a slice of lime to squeeze over and stir in right before eating.
Variation: To make a more traditional curry instead of soup, use half the broth and put a scoop of jasmine rice in the middle of the bowl before garnishes. Sauteed shrimp is beautiful, artfully arranged around the rice and on top of the curry. You can use any veggies you like in place of slaw, mushrooms or kale. Add slices of cooked sweet potato and pineapple for a creamy pineapple curry. To add heat, use a few drop of siracha sauce or thai chili paste.
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I’m a curry coward. It’s exotic. It’s bright yellow. It has a long ingredient list.
So last night I decided to come up with a simple curry that even a curry coward like me can manage to make. I took the easy route and bought a can of curry powder instead of buying ten different spices and making my own. The first batch I made had lots of veggies and chickpeas, but I decided that three ingredients really stood out from the crowd — cauliflower, kale, and roasted garlic. So I made it again for breakfast this morning while the baby was napping. The life of a food blogging mama! This time I just used those two veggies and a whole bulb of roasted garlic. Much easier. Much better.
I don’t know if brown sugar is a classic addition, but I found it really balanced the strong curry flavors nicely. Curry powders can vary from brand to brand, so you may want to taste the seasoning as you go to see if it needs adjustments. Here’s the kind I used.
Are you intimidated about making your own curry too or was I the only curry coward?
What other dishes would you love to make but haven’t because they seem to complicated or overwhelming?
Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Curry
1 bunch of Kale, ribs removed, washed & dried well
1 head of Cauliflower, chopped into “trees”
1 bulb of Garlic
3 tbs Olive Oil, divided
~ 4 tbs Curry Powder, divided
4 tsp Brown Sugar, divided
1 tsp Salt, divided
1 can of Coconut Milk
16 oz Lentils, prepared per package instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top of the garlic to reveal the top of each clove. Put the bulb on a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil on top, and wrap the clove tight with the foil. Put in the oven (directly on the rack is fine until you get the cauliflower in).
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower “trees” with about 1 tbs olive oil. Tossing as you go, gradually add 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt until evenly coated. Place on a large baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray and put in the oven. (Move the garlic onto the baking sheet at this time.) Set the timer for 20 minutes.
In the same large bowl, toss the kale with 1 tbs olive oil, using your hands to massage it into the leaves. Tossing as you go, gradually add 2 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Put the kale on a large baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. It will be crowded, but that’s okay, we aren’t looking for crisp kale chips so it can be a little crowded. Add the kale to the oven, leaving the garlic and cauliflower in too. Cook everything for 20 more minutes. You might want to give the cauliflower and kale a shake every now and then.
In a small sauce pan, heat 1 tbs olive oil on medium heat and add 3 tbs of curry powder. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add 2 tbs brown sugar and 1 can of coconut milk. Stir.
When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and remove the garlic. You can leave the kale and cauliflower in the oven to stay warm while you finish up the sauce. Carefully (it will be really hot) take the garlic out of the foil and squeeze it into the curry sauce. You can just stir it in if the garlic is really oozy or put it into the blender for a few seconds to evenly incorporate it.
Serve veggies on a bed of lentils and top with curry sauce.
And just like that I’m over my fear of curry and you can be too!