Detox Time: Spring Minestrone

asparagus and rice

Coming home from vacation means a few things.  It means snugging my puppy for a very long time because I missed him so much.  It means spending a couple hours catching up with my favorite food blogs.  It means doing laundry and putting all my essential things back where they belong.  It means uploading my pictures to Facebook and catching up with my friends.  It also means detox time.

It turns out the food on Carnival Cruise lines is, at best, sub-par.  That was a huge bummer for me, I got no inspiration from my plate!  However…sub-par food does not mean it was inedible.  The food was fine.  There were some great California Rolls, custom made omelettes in the morning, and of course 24-hour pizza and ice cream, which you can’t really go wrong with.  Sub-par food does not stop me from eating lots of it.  Sub-par food led me to gain three pounds…ha.

I’m not worried!  Sub-par food tends to be packed with sodium and other things that make you bloat.  A diet of whole grains, fruits, and veggies is the solution, and that’s my plan for the next few days, starting with this healthy and delicious soup.

spring minestrone

super natural cookingMy best friend Heidi recently lent me Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, and I’m totally in love with it.  I usually find organic-y books to be filled with unfamiliar foods with ingredients that are hard to find, but this one does a great job with appetizing and not-overly-difficult recipes.  It is divided into chapters, and each chapter has a very informative and interesting introduction that explores the nutrients and ingredients that are found in the recipes that follow – Ms. Swanson tells readers about the ingredients that may be less familiar (like Brussels sprouts and cabbage…ahem).  Anyway, it’s really great – one I will buy for my own cookbook collection (and look, it’s only $13 on Amazon, where the cover image is from).

Spring Minestrone with Brown Rice
by Heidi Swanson in Super Natural Cooking
Serves 4

Laura notes: I chose this soup as a good detox meal because it contains all whole foods.  The veggies and brown rice give you nutrients and fiber, and the broth can act as a hydrating water – as long as it isn’t high in sodium, either make your own or read your labels!  You can always dilute a high sodium stock with some water!  I really loved the basmati rice in the soup, it has a great texture that is similar that that of wild rice.  Yum!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced (LN: these came from our garden!)
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup medium-grain brown basmati rice, rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock (LN: I used chicken…my favorite brand is Kitchen Classics, they make divine Chicken, Vegetable, Beef, and Seafood stocks.  Homemade is always the best, though!)
1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, trimmed and cut in half diagonally (LN: I omitted these and added more asparagus and peas, I just wasn’t in the mood)
8 spears asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the shallots and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes until soft.  Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the rice is just tender, 35 to 45 minutes.

Add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, and green peas, and season with a few healthy pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes and serve immediately; this way the vegetables stay crisp and bright.

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