New Year’s Day is typically considered a day in which we focus on the positive changes we want to make for the new year. This seems especially true when we embark on a new decade that offers so many possibilities. At 53 years old, I realize more and more the value of how food impacts my health and I want to take this time to reset how I eat. So, I hope you will join me on my January journey towards a cleaner way of eating. My goals this month are:
- Eliminating beef, pork and chicken
- Reducing the amount of processed foods
- Focus on more plant-based foods
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m going to focus first on foods from what is called the Blue Zones of our world. These are places where people live to be 100+ but are healthy and food plays a very large part in this. There are 5 of these zones and my first stop will be will be in Ikaria, Greece.
“THE IKARIAN DIET, like that found on many other Mediterranean islands, includes a generous dose of vegetables and olive oil as well as lower amounts of dairy and meat products. It is a remote place, however, and the local diet is unique from other Greek and nearby islands because of its focus on beans and legumes (especially chickpeas and lentils), wild greens, goat’s milk, and smaller amounts of fish.”
Excerpt From The Blue Zones Kitchen, Dan Beuttner
So here is how my Day 1 went….
I rarely eat breakfast so really I just started my day with coffee. I snacked on some dried apple chips and has a little Swiss cheese but really didn’t have more than that. What I did do is make a version of Ikarian Longevity Stew which has black-eyed peas in it which are often a symbol of good luck for the new year. I added my own twist of putting in some carrots and another traditional new year’s ingredient, collard greens, plus some jalapeño and other heat seasonings. I love my spice! Here is my version:
Ikarian Longevity Soup
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 15 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 32 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
- 2 tsp tomato paste, diluted in ¼ cup water
- 2 cups collard greens, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1 bunch dill, finely chopped
Heat ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Add onion, fennel, carrots, and jalapeño; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 12 minutes.
Add in tomato paste and “toast” with veggies for 1 minute
Add tomatoes and peas plus enough water to cover the beans by about 1 inch.
Add in collard greens, bay leaves and other seasonings.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes.
Add dill and season with salt.Remove from heat, and stir in remaining ¼ cup olive
My finished product along with a side of sourdough bread and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese to garnish
Sourdough bread on a mainly plant based diet? Yes! Apparently, the fermentation makes it a healthy choice so you aren’t just limited to whole grain bread. This was the perfect compliment to my soup and gave it that “chew factor” you sometimes miss with soup.
Bottom Line: this soup is so versatile and you can easily switch out the veggies for your favorites! For leftovers, I plan on this over brown rice and omit the bread. Give this a try and let me know what kind of personal twist you put on it.