Yummy Soup for Sickies

My two kids, myself and my husband all got colds last week (typical).  Seems to happen to us often.  One kid gets it, sick for two days, next kid gets it, adults get it, etc. And, of course, as soon as we’re all better, the first one who caught it starts the cycle all over again.  Good times.

So, I wanted to cook something for everyone that would be easy on sore throats, delicious and contain some immunity building/cold fighting qualities.  For some reason, chicken soup in Florida doesn’t feel quite right to me.  I also like to make vegetarian items when possible.

I did some research to select ingredients (see Health Magazine article here and Best Health article about spices) and found that:

  • Garlic contains allicin, a sulfuric compound that produces potent antioxidants when it decomposes.  Leeks have similar benefits.
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene. When we eat these foods, our bodies convert this organic compound into vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. Vitamin A is especially important for colds, as it keeps the mucous membranes that line our nose and throat—one of the body’s first lines of defense—healthy and functioning properly.
  • Ginger is great for aches, pains, and nausea, just in case the cold was thinking of turning into a flu.  It also is an overall immunity booster.
  • Celery is an important food source of conventional antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese.
  • Cinnamon is a warming expectorant, used to gently reduce congestion and phlegm in the lungs, and dry up runny noses.
  • Tumeric – recent years have seen an explosion of research into curcumin, an antioxidant found in turmeric. Studies have shown it has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer activities.

So, taking that into account, I decided to make start with a Carrot-Ginger soup recipe I found on “Mountain Mama Cooks”. I used the freshest and most local ingredients I could find (the ginger and herbs were local).  It was easy, DELISH, and the kids & hubby wolfed it down! In fact, I had to do a second batch.  I modified a bit- I love using coconut milk, see my version below.

Bye Bye Cold Carrot Ginger Soup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 lbs carrots, grated
  • 3 leeks, chopped & washed thoroughly
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh peeled & grated ginger (If you didn’t know – I had to google – you peel fresh ginger simply by taking a spoon and “Scraping” off the skin. )
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • 2 oz canned Coconut Milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Tumeric

photo courtesy Mountain Mama Cooks


  1. Melt butter in a large stock pot. Add carrots, leeks, celery, sweet potato and ginger. Cook on medium-low for roughly 15 minutes until vegetables are soft.
  2. Add vegetable stock, Tumeric, and Cinnamon and turn heat to medium high. When soup starts to simmer, turn heat down to low and let soup simmer for 30 minutes (I like to cover because I want to keep all the vitamins in, but you don’t have to). Turn heat off and let it cool down a bit.
  3. When soup is cooled, use an emersion blender (LIFE CHANGING! And only $30) or a large blender  in batches to smooth soup.
  4. When ready to serve, add cream and coconut milk and season with salt and pepper.  Keep on low to keep it warm if you’d desire.


If It’s Good Enough for David Beckham + Top Chef Results

Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau is one of our favorite restaurants.  Yes, it’s expensive, yes the parking is astronomical, but there is something about that big hotel that feels exciting.  Kind of in a Vegas, cheesy-but-OK-with-it way.  The restaurant itself just feels specials.  The food is amazing – no detail missed (I mean, where else is plain spaghetti the star of the show?!?), the decor is gorgeous and unique, the crowd is never over the top.  Good Stuff.

Last night, we went there for a viewing party of the Top Chef Finale, as their Chef de Cuisine, Nina Compton, was a finalist.  SPOILER ALERT: She was ROBBED, I say ROBBED, of the title.  Kicked ass the entire season, made two extra amazing dishes for the finale, and some guy wins for a dessert?!? Not good.  That said, it sure was watching at her actual restaurant, especially because they served many of the dishes Nina had created through-out the season.  Very cool!

Additionally, two nights prior, David Beckham and Simon Fuller dined there.  On order, spaghetti, roasted chicken, polenta and gnocchi. So, that’s what Beckham eats.  And then I got to meet him…see picture above.  He was very adorable and sweet.

My coverage of his MLS Miami Soccer team press conference on People Mag yesterday…


Miami Magazine Food Event

Every year, MIAMI Magazine (a publication I contribute to) hosts an annual celebration of their restaurant issue – Live and Dine Miami.  It’s a really great tasting event with Miami’s best chefs – who all take it very seriously.  Fun atmosphere, an overwhelming amount of ridiculously delish food, and a chance to chitty chat with our city’s top food talent.  What more could you want?

This year’s event is next week – July 31st. The tickets are going fast, so be sure to get yours soon – definitely babysitter worthy.

Food from Catch, Swine, The Dutch, Cypress Room and more.  Like going to ten restaurants in one and only trying their best dishes (last year I overloaded on Haven’s Tiger Shrimp…yum!).

Squeezy Mania

Is anyone other than me spending a TON of money on little fruit/veggie squeezies like thesethese or these?

They are such a great resource – you can throw them in your bag and they last forever.  Good little snack without a ton of sugar, carbs, artificial x/y/z, etc. Also well-portioned – instead of your kids “fishing” in a bag of goldfish for 20 minutes until they’re full and have no room for your gorgeous but less-than-goldfish-delicious baked Cod with vegetables dinner, they get just enough to warn off crankiness and leave room for meals.

When I first started buying these (about four years ago), they were around $1/squeezy.  Even then, it seemed expensive but I was a new mom and they filled a major need. We stopped using them for a while but my second is now 18 months and I’m in that world again. The prices have climbed quite a bit…Even in the last six months I’ve seen them go from  $1.29/pp to $1.59.

So, I’ve tried to find a way to circumvent this ludicrous pricing.

Enter “make squeezy at home project”.  First step, get a personal blender (using/cleaning the huge blender for a 3 oz smoothy is seriously time prohibitive).  I bought this one – less than $15, not perfect but works for what I need.

Second step, Obsess over “make your own squeezy” pouches on Amazon for a few days.  Add/remove items from your basket, then pull the trigger.  I Have done the work for you.  Here are the few I debated on and why I made my final selection.

First is the Squooshi pouch.  Clearly the cutest, but also the most expensive and the comments referenced the interior pouch curves getting dirty which makes sense.

Second is the EZ squeezes.  These almost won (good price), but they’re small and lately my little one likes larger “concoctions” (I also thought the little top would get lost).  Similar concerns went with the Yummi pouches and some reviews said they leak on top (and they WOULD in my bag).
So, final decision – I went with the Little Green Pouch.  Good price, seemed to fill all of my needs, and Daily Candy gave it an award so it must be good :)
On to the making.  I already had some organic frozen berries, so I used those.  Added some Almond Milk and Sunflower Seed butter for liquidity/protein.  I can’t give measurements, because I just kept adding as I went and saw the consistency…I suggest you do the same.  I skipped the ice since my berries were frozen already, and I wanted to be gentle on the cheap blender.

Filled up two little pouches with my concoction, put one in the freezer and one in the fridge (and gave my little one some of the smoothy which he loved)! BOTH were a success!   I took the freezer one with us to music class so he could have it afterwards and it was perfectly “slushy” a few hours later.

For my second batch, I am going to use some yogurt to thicken it up – it got a bit watery in the fridge and am considering putting in Quinoa (though I would use those fast…grains and bacteria are friends after a few days).

I know I’ll still buy the crazy expensive ones to throw in my purse, but I’m hoping I don’t need to buy anywhere near as many.  If they want a snack at home or we need snacks for the car, I’m going homemade all the way!


Food & Wine Fest: Fun & Fit Family + Recipes

This weekend, we did some fun Food & Wine Festival outings, one of which was a great family affair at Jungle Island.  The “Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family Sponsored by Carnival featuring Kellogg’s Kidz Kitchen” (I guess they couldn’t find any sponsors).  Long title aside, the event was well done.

The main area had little tents with snacks & food activities (see my son’s first-ever macaroni bracelet), with information about each product.  There was also a fun obstacle course – my son did it four times in a row, and the super-buff dudes leading it served as great cheerleaders as well as nice eye candy :)

The only down side was that I started to get that  “where should we go – are we doing this right? Did we start in the right place? Am I missing something” anxiety, but that’s just the vestige of my crazy New York days inside me…

The best part of the event was the Kelloggs Kidz Kitchen, where celeb chefs showed off a recipe, discussed food,  and played with the kids.  We saw Robert Irvine, who was specifically discussing eye health as he works with Transitions Lenses and talking about is show, “Restaurant Impossible” (I’ve never seen, but want to now).  The array of KitchenAid products spread over the area were quite enticing as well…I need a bright red cake mixer, right?!?

Irvine was adorable – funny and engaging with some real information.  He talked about his general mission, “my job in life is to educate parents and children” and did some serious name-dropping, “I’m working with the first lady. I don’t care about your politics, I’m all about good health!” He also showed that it doesn’t matter what you grew up on, anyone can turn things around – and if all else fails, go for Corn Flakes, “my mom was a terrible cook- I grew up on two boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes a day”.

The team also shared all the eye-healthy/kid friendly recipes from the Chefs with me, which I’ve included here.  Click link SOBEWFF RECIPES

Recipe Time: Healthy Pasta with…Anchovies!

I’m very surprised this is my first recipe entry, as food and health is something I spend a lot of time reading about.  Partly because I think much of the food/grocery industry is trying to kill us all (especially our kids), and partly because I’m obsessed with food and love any excuse to look at it and imagine eating it.

My family is, naturally, a group of picky eaters and we mostly don’t like the same stuff.  I’m a relapsed vegetarian who never eats red meat/pork and eat poultry rarely (organic only).  I also love bread and chocolate.  My husband is a steak and potatoes guy with a foodie edge. My son is a picky 3.5 year old who likes about two foods in the whole world (and NOT Mac & Cheese or grilled cheese or normal “kid” stuff). And my baby is…well…one.  He’ll eat most items, and gives me the most pleasure to cook for.

That said, cooking dinners (and lunches for the babe) are always a challenge – like it is for every mom. So, I’m really into one-dish dinners that cover all the bases. One such recipe I’ve used quite a bit is this Mark Bittman NY Times Pasta - it incorporates veggies (Arugula), protein (anchovies) and yummy/crowd friendly pasta.  Also, you can keep all of it on-hand in the pantry other than the greens. AND IT’S EASY AND QUICK! The link even includes a video.

Before you gag, keep in mind I never ate anchovies before either. But I kept hearing they were so good for you – protein, low fat, and they contain among the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids of any food. Omega-3 fatty are supposed to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer; lower your blood pressure and cholesterol; and even reduce period cramps! Also, they are a plentiful fish – so eating them doesn’t deplete our fragile environment.

Best of all, when you cook them this way – they break down completely, you don’t see any trace of fishiness in the final product; they just create a salty, flavorful sauce for the pasta.  I PROMISE IT’S NOT GROSS. See recipe below taken from the NY Times.  One important trick – I chop the arugula very finely beforehand so the kids don’t see long strands of green “leaves”, and then the bits are too small to pick out.  

Pasta With Anchovies and Arugula

  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
  • 8 anchovy fillets, or more to taste, with some of their oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups arugula
  • 1/2 pound linguine or other long pasta
  • Freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it.
  • 2. Put the oil in a deep skillet, and turn heat to medium. A minute later, add the garlic, and then the anchovies and red pepper flakes. When the garlic sizzles and the anchovies break up, turn the heat to its lowest setting.
  • 3. Cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, and drain. Add pasta to skillet, along with enough reserved cooking water to make a sauce. Off the heat, combine the pasta with the greens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss, taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.