Everyone’s got a few favorite things in their toolbox that help them to feel well, happy and peaceful, right? I feel compelled to share a few of my latest faves with you, dear reader, in hopes you’ll find them useful.
For starters, Trader Joe’s lip balm. It’s the bomb! Doesn’t dry out my lips like Burt’s Bees’ products do. Seems one's stashed in all my coat pockets.
I’m also a huge fan of white bean soup. New Year’s Day, when it was too chilly to go in search of black-eyed peas to ensure my little family’s luck for the coming year, I resorted to culling my cupboards for ingredients, possessed with the determination to make something cozy of them. A moment later I spotted the following recipe on Facebook, posted by my favorite author, Elizabeth Berg. Oddly enough, nearly every ingredient was already on my kitchen counter. I love it when the universe cooperates. (No luck needed, I guess!) I didn’t have pancetta, but a half-stick of turkey summer sausage did the trick:
WHITE BEAN SOUP
2 T. olive oil
¼ cup chopped pancetta
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 each carrot and celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained (I prefer one or two cans)
5 cups rich chicken broth (I used four cups, since that’s what those handy broth cartons hold. Don’t you hate opening a whole carton of broth, only to use a smidge?)
¾ tsp. finely chopped thyme (I had fresh in my fridge – I know, shocking! Heck if I know how much I actually chopped. Probably more than ¾ tsp.)
½ cup grated good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Splurge on this cheese. You only need half a cup. It’s SO worth it, and ‘makes’ the recipe!)
Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 2 T. olive oil. Cook pancetta for five minutes. Add onion, carrot and celery; cook eight minutes. Add garlic, cook one minute. Add beans, broth and thyme. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Off heat, puree with immersion blender (if you don’t have one, let soup cool and puree it in a blender) until smooth. Stir in cheese, salt and black pepper. Serves six. This soup came in handy (pureed even more thoroughly and cooled down) for Holly when she convalesced after her recent oral surgery. All that garlic! A nice balance to all the sherbet she consumed.
As for good health, I’m also a huge fan of the herbal supplement quercetin with bromelain. I use the “Now” brand, which I picked up a couple years ago at Fruitful Yield. As per its website, quercetin is a naturally occurring free-radical scavenger reputed to support healthy seasonal immune system function, most notably respiratory function. And bromelain is long-heralded by herbalists for supporting a balanced immune system response to environmental challenges. A good thing these days, with temperatures bouncing up and down by 50 degrees every few days, right? I’m told it takes a few months for quercetin to reach a therapeutic level (it isn’t a symptom reliever, but more of a histamine inhibitor), but I swear it’s why environmental allergies have lost their grip on me! (As with any advice, consult your doctor before taking quercetin.)
Last, but certainly not least, I’ll leave you with a nod to my latest favorite inspiring idea:
”I want students to believe that the only way to write or live is to shout out the continuous 'yes' to the universe. Water doesn’t say, 'Oh, no,' and stop when it comes to a rock. It follows its intention and finds a way around. So what I try to impart when I teach is to keep moving, like the water, keep exploring, following your intention and keep embracing 'yes.'" Attributed to Marsha Diane Arnold, this is one quote I’ll be sure and stick on the new fridge for my kids to see. Will we be well, happy, and peaceful this New Year? “Yes” and Amen to that!