Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tasty Asian Soup featuring LEMONGRASS and YUMMINESS!!

Tonight I wanted to make an Asian soup that had the Thai components of Tom Kha soup, with its spicy clear broth and definite hints of  lemongrass, that I have tasted in many different recipes and restaurants. I have also been wanting to try this soup called Pho that I have seen at some new Vietnamese sandwich shops that have started to pop up all around town. The main thing I noticed about Pho is that it comes with an assorted side of condiments. The other day I noticed a gentleman eating this soup and his condiments included bean sprouts, cilantro, and jalapeno slices. I have seen others as well. Tonight I decided to focus on these because, well, it just sounded good to me! I have also seen mint, basil, and green onion.

You take these condiments and place them on top of the soup just before eating them so they are still basically raw.

So, my soup was a combination of these two. I started out by making some chicken broth. I cheated and basically heated some pre-made broth. I added fresh basil, straw mushrooms, and bok choy.

I also took some cheese cloth and used this to tie up my lemongrass once I had bruised the stalks and cut them into approximately one inch pieces.

I used two stalks of lemongrass for about 7-8 cups of soup. I let this boil for a while. During this time I prepared my condiments. I chopped some cilantro, jalapeno, and placed some bean sprouts in a bowl. I would have added green onions as well but I forgot when taking these pictures. Once the soup was at a good boil I placed some skinny vietnamese rice noodles into a pot to boil.

When the soup had sufficient time to boil I removed the cheesecloth with the lemongrass. I love lemongrass and I also loved the intensity of the flavor in the broth and did not want it to change by leaving the bag of lemongrass in there. I have done this before with soups where I added ginger and was disappointed to find out that the ginger eventually overpowered the soup. Now when working with ginger and even lemongrass, though it is more subtle, I remove it from the broth once I like where the intensity is at.

Let's talk about lemongrass while on the subject! Not only is it a lovely essential oil that is used to make citronella and repel bugs but it is also refreshing, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, etc. and generally cleansing. It just has a clean and crisp but pleasant smell. When working with the actual stalks the smell is less intense and more soothing.  

DO NOT use essential lemongrass oil when cooking. In fact, unless you are specifically using COOKING GRADE oils it is important that you NEVER ingest essential oils. They are too intense and will make you sick. 

Lemongrass is a stalk.

When cooking with it you should bruise or pound on the stalk to release the flavor and aroma from the stalk. It doesn't soften very much so you want to remove most of it before consuming the food you are making it with. This is why I wrapped it in the cheesecloth. Rather than fish out the individual pieces, I simply remove the cheesecloth.

I placed the remaining pieces that I did not use (the upper third of the two stalks) into my tea pot and let it steep awhile so I could sip on some soothing tea.

Lemongrass, in addition to being soothing, is also mildly sedating. It fights cancer cells. It detoxifies your kidneys, and lowers cholesterol. It contains a wide array of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Vitamins include C, A, and B including folate which is B9. Minerals include manganese, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Lemongrass fights digestive issues, infection, and last but not least it helps to improve symptoms of the common cold.

Now back to the soup!

Once the both was done cooking and the rice noodles had softened (a matter of minutes), I placed the noodles in a bowl. I did not combine the noodles with the soup because sometimes rice noodles dissolve and lose their consistency and I did not want to chance this happening in my broth.

I added the broth atop the noodles and then last but not least I poured my condiments on the top.

The result was beautiful to gaze upon, yummy in my mouth, and soothing on my tummy.

The tea was a lovely addition.

P.S. for dessert I ate some fresh figs which were equally as divine.

Quick re-cap on the recipe:

Noodles: rice noodles or whatever you want
Broth: Chicken broth (or whatever you like), a meat of your choice if you like, two chopped stalks of lemongrass tied in cheesecloth, basil, mushrooms, and bok choy.
Let this boil for 30 minutes or so. Add salt to taste and remove the lemongrass once you are happy with the flavor it adds to the soup.
Condiments: You can top this with whatever you like. I personally enjoy jalapeno, cilantro, bean sprouts, and green onion.

Voila!! Bon appetit!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Essential Eucalyptus Oil

Many people have smelled Eucalyptus oil when they have been in the steam room at the gym. It is a known decongestant and expectorant. Try hanging a bunch of fresh Eucalyptus in your shower or putting some essential oil on the shower walls so that the steam will help disperse it as you shower and open up your chest and lungs. Eucalyptus is also an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. You can add it to steamy water to help you clear your sinuses and chest when suffering from a cold or even some allergies. It is also known for purification and healing. Get some today and give it a try in your shower or even in your bath with our Eucalyptus bath salts! These can be found at my current retailers Chicago Lash Lounge in Roscoe Village and Christopher Thomas Salon in Lakeview. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Geranium - Another Essential Oil Must Have

Geranium oil is another must have essential oil. I use it in my Peace and Calm blend that I am perfecting as we speak. It increases circulation, balances hormones, and assists in relieving cramps (anti-spasmodic). It is also hemostatic which means it helps to stop bleeding. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. It helps to repair skin cells which makes me want to try this if I have gotten too much sun. I also plan on trying this with a couple small sunspots I have noticed on my face. Geranium relieves negative emotions and balances us. It lifts our spirits and relieves nervous tension. Several people, including myself, sometimes experience anxiety and I can't wait to try this when one of those experiences arises...or perhaps even preventatively. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Essential Lavender Oil

There are so many people that love Lavender and is it any wonder why? Lavender helps revitalize us if we are exhausted and stressed. It helps to calm us down. It has been other benefits as well. Lavender tea or Lavender Lemonade is loved for its floral flavor. It is also a good natural antiseptic, antibacterial, and painkiller. You can use it externally to treat cuts, wounds, insect bites and allergies. It is also a decongestant so it helps to fight colds and flus. Finally it is good on the digestive system and not only assists digestion but helps alleviate nausea and indigestion.

When using the Lavender internally you want to use fresh or dried flowers. The essential oil is usually not advised for internal use unless specifically noted on the bottle. It is also very concentrated so you always want to dilute it with what is known as a carrier oil such as grapeseed, almond, olive, or apricot oil.

There are several oil blends that contain Lavender that are my favorites: Peace and Calming blend as well as the Irritability blend...look for these blends to be produced by Simple Life. Simple Health. and on the shelves of my retailers soon. You can always contact me for some samples or products as well.

Did you know there are several kinds of Lavender? The most commonly used is the Lavender Augustifolia

Also, stay tuned for another live demo that I will post on You Tube and my blog where I showcase another smoothie or fresh juice recipe. I am also planning on showing how I make the bath salts and other body products. So stay tuned Chicago and remember that Simple Life. Simple Health. is here to serve you!