Potato Soup and Ugly Produce

Next time you go to the grocery store, look at the produce. Like really. Do you notice a difference (other than size) between one carrot and the next? One tomato and the next?

No way! (unless they are rotten, of course)

Surprisingly this is no coincidence. Each year 1 trillion dollars of food is wasted and much of this can be attributed to the beauty standards our society holds for fruits and veggies. This food is waste either by getting tossed at the farm, rotting in warehouses, or going unsold in stores until it's inedible

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I wonder how it started. As in, who was the first person to say that all apples had to look the same? I prefer that my produce look different from piece to piece. Hell, I can’t make cookies all the same shape, how can I expect mother nature to make all of my potatoes are exactly the same? :-P

If you are caught up in the aesthetic, that’s cool, but I invite you to try a service that will carefully choose your produce for you. It’s like going for a natural birth but having a doula. Starting a plant-based diet but hiring a private chef. Have someone help you make the switch. AND be able to trust that everything you get will be just as nutritious and delicious.

Quality control, you know?

Misfits Market gives these otherwise undesirable products I’m talking about a shot to be turned into your next recipe. Products that may slightly imperfect can easily be chopped up and turned into a pie or hearty soup.

Speaking of - check out my soup recipe below.


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Misfits Market’s founders hail from Philadelphia and I had the chance to speak with them both one-on-one. They come from a long line of tech startups, and yeah - they are super smart. They saw a unique opportunity to create a business from wasted produce, which not only provides a salary, but does something amazing for the world, food waste, and the people who benefit from the inexpensive and conveniently shipped boxes each week.

Misfits Market provides an array of fresh produce including apples, peaches, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, broccoli, lettuce and other leafy greens, onions, peppers, and other seasonal things, at a fraction of the cost.  All of the products come from organic and local farms, which helps to support farmers.

Give them a try - get 13-16lbs of fruits and veggies weekly for $19 (approx 50% savings) and looks like this:

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Or get 22-26lbs of fruits and veggies weekly for $34 which looks like this:

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Potato Soup!

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed or avocado oil

  • 3 potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped

  • 3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (I like 5!)

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or 1 1/2 cups of other non-dairy milk

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • Optional: squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar

Cook potatoes until soft (microwave, oven, or boil the cubes). Then heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until they soften. Add the cooked potatoes, veggie broth, milk, salt, pepper and paprika and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend in batches in your regular blender - but make sure you are careful so it doesn’t explode on you!

Add the blended soup back to your pot, add peas, and heat through. Taste and add additional spices as needed and voila! Sometimes at this point I like to add a little bit of acidity to cut the fat taste - some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar!

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Are you using the right Ashwagandha?

Adaptogens! Ashwagandha! Buzz words!

Yes.

But, truthfully, they can work for you if you are looking to de-stress a bit. Before writing this post, I had the opportunity to work with KSM66 Ashwagandha by Fresh Healthcare I tried their product for 60 days while I was researching and writing this post, because I wanted to experience the benefits of less stress first-hand. Also I had NO idea that there is a ton of BS ashwagandha on the market. NO IDEA. (read more about them here)

So what is all the recent buzz around these so called ‘adaptogens’? An adaptogen meaning that, when consumed, can 'adapt' and adjust to individual bodies differently to combat different types of stress that are put on the body. They vary in their level or type of support - they can calm or stimulate the central nervous system or do both simultaneously. They can have an amazing effect on focus, stress and in general - the quality of mental work we get done.

Some examples of adaptogens include:

  • Ashwagandha - a soothing nervine (not stimulating usually), and great for anxiety, stress, insomnia and fatigue

  • Eleuthero - a support for those working in extremely stressful jobs, long hours or crazy schedules

  • Rhodiola - increases mental stamina and sleep quality, used in Russia as an antidepressant

  • Tulsi (Holy Basil tea) - good for mental fog and positive mood

  • Schisandra (berry) - calming, generally, but can also be stimulating - can help to soothe anxiety and provide mental focus

Let’s talk about ashwagandha! This particular adaptogen has gotten lots of attention recently, mainly for its effect on stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is an herb that originated in india and has been used for centuries. According to University Health News a recent study examined 64 adults in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Researchers gave half the participants a placebo and half 300 mg of ashwagandha extract twice a day for 60 days. All of the adults had a history of chronic stress. The results were posted in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine and stated that the individuals who were administered the 300 mg had cortisol levels 28% lower than those in the placebo group. Not only did their cortisol levels drop (the stress hormone), but the participants who took the adaptogen also scored 72% lower on a General Health Questionnaire and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. (These two tests are administered to evaluate stress, anxiety and overall well-being, the lower the score the less stressed out you are.)

The participants also experienced significant reductions in depression, anxiety, social dysfunction, physical symptoms, and insomnia.

I also want to mention that with any adaptogen, it’s important to consume it for at least 60 days before making a judgment call on how it worked for you. These herbs take time to do their magic!

Despite all of the benefits, we need to be smart when choosing an ashwagandha product in order to properly reap the rewards. Not all are created equal, so here are some things to look for when choosing your ashwagandha!

  1. Withanolides - this is one of the root’s active ingredients and we want to be looking on the ingredient list and checking the levels. Look for ashwagandha root powder extracts that contain at least 5% to 8% withanolides.

  2. Withaferin A - it is important to know that not all withanolides are created equal. Withaferin A is a withanolide that is cytotoxic (toxic to living cells), and we don’t want to have it in high concentrations in our ashwagandha extract. This component can be extremely dangerous at high levels and is usually a result of the manufacturer using the ashwagandha leaves rather than just the roots.

  3. Extraction - (water vs. chemicals) - some ashwagandha products products extract the herb with water and some are extracted with chemicals. Of course, we want to consume the type that is extracted with water!

  4. Roots vs. Leaves - Some manufacturers use the roots and the leaves of the herb and some use the root only. We want to look for ashwagandha that uses the root only method. By choosing products that use this method we are at less of a risk of consuming high levels of Withaferin A, (the cytotoxic withanolide that can be dangerous at high levels as mentioned above).

  5. Black Pepper - Pepper aids in the bioavailability of the ashwagandha, which means it is better absorbed within and used by the body when it is consumed with pepper.

Bottom line: We want to look for an ashwagandha supplement that contains active ingredients, in a clean way. In this case we are looking for withanolides, saponins and alkaloids. These are the ingredients that are coming from the root and how we are going to get the most benefits. When looking at the withanolide concentration we are looking for a supplement with the highest percentage (currently we want to look for a concentration of 5-8%). The standard recommended amount of ashwagandha is 300mg twice a day for at least 2 months. Before writing this post, I tested KSM66 Ashwaghanda for 60 days while doing my research, and it hits all of the marks mentioned above!

I also want to leave you with a killer "coffee replacement" using ashwaganda (the herb, not the capsule) -or- you can add this to your coffee if you want a little of both. If you add this to your coffee, don't add the water. Let me know what you think!

  • 1 teaspoon cacao
  • 1/4 teaspoon maca

  • 1/4 teaspoon ashwagandha

  • 1/4 reishi mushroom

  • 1/4 teaspoon cordyceps

  • blend with 1 cup hot water

  • add maple syrup to sweeten and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon tocos on top

 

This post is sponsored by KSM66 Ashwagandha by Fresh Healthcare, but all research, thoughts and opinions are my own. In fact, I would have had no idea about any of this if they didn't tell me to research it!