All Posts for October 2014

Basic Black Bean Soup w/ Carrots

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Black bean soup with carrots—-perfect for Halloween!


I love black bean soup and order it at Panera’s as well as a local restaurant that makes it really well. My recipe is easy, especially if you use organic black beans in a can from Eden Foods. There is no BPA lining in their cans, so I feel safe when I need to use them. However, I made this soup from dried black beans that I cooked in a crock pot; also easy. (Trader Joe’s organic black beans are supposed to be BPA free but have to write to their HQ to be sure.)

Utensils: cutting board and knife, 2 qt. sauce pan, small fry pan, crock pot if using dried beans
Prep. Time: With canned beans, only 10 minutes; with dried beans overnight soaking
Cook. Time: With canned beans about 15 minutes; with dried beans about one hr. cooking time
Categories: Vegan, GF, NSA (No sugar added)


2 cups organic, cooked black beans* (Not sure how many cups in the canned beans, so you can use one can or two, depending on how many people you want to serve.)
one small onion or the whites of scallions or leeks equal to 1/2 cup
one-two garlic cloves, chopped
one org. carrot, grated
optional: one small potato, scrubbed, cubed and cooked (Use a small saucepan)
olive oil
salt, pepper, cayenne & fresh or dried ginger powder to taste


*1. If using dried beans, soak one cup overnight in more than enough water to cover. Drain in the morning and place in a slow cooker to simmer about one hour or until tender, adding new water to cover. You can also simmer in a saucepan but be sure water does not evaporate and burn the beans. If using canned beans, just open the can or cans, drain and measure out about 2 cups. Save liquid for blender.

2. While the beans are cooking, prepare potato, if using, in a smaller saucepan with enough water to cover the potatoes.
If no potato is being used, proceed to sauteing the chopped onion and garlic in a small fry pan. While they are cooking, scrub and grate one carrot and set aside.

3. When beans are cooked, place in blender or food processor and add about 1/2 cup liquid from cooking or if using canned beans, measure out 1/2 cup of the liquid, adding water if needed to make 1/2 cup. Then add the onion, garlic, spices and puree until smooth, adding more water if needed. (I used about 3/4 cup all together.)

4. Heat and serve, spoon or pour soup into bowls, add cooked potato if using, and garnish with carrots. Serve hot.


1. Add minced, organic yellow and red bell pepper instead of carrots.
2. Add slices of avocado instead of potatoes.
3. Puree some of the potato with the beans for greater thickness.
4. Saute another carrot with the onion & garlic.

Yield: About 2 1/2 cups of hardy soup

Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried, MD

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

While I am only 3/4 of the way throughThe Hormone Cure, I have learned so much already that I don’t want to wait until I am finished to encourage you to get a copy, because the contents are so important for midlife women and beyond. This is the best midlife self-help book I have read and I plan to give a copy to each of my daughters, because both will benefit, even though my older daughter is 49 and my younger daughter is 35. (Dr. Christiana Northrup’s The Wisdom of Menopause is my favorite menopause book and Dr. Sara refers to it often.)

The note below Dr. Sara’s name is: “A Harvard Physician’s scientifically proven method to optimize hormones at any age.” Thus, this book covers more than just menopause; it surveys a women’s entire hormonal system and provides suggestions and solutions to help women weather the ups and downs of the different stages of life after 35.

Since the book is around 450 pages, it is not something you will finish in a week.  Each chapter is filled with important scientific and common-sense facts and information that need to be digested gradually. Written in lay terms, you don’t need a medical dictionary to understand it. Instead, view it as a great reference book that, once you have read it, you can always return to it to refresh your memory about a particular chapter or topic.

Part I is called Educate and Illumunate: Understanding the new Hormonal Landscape. This is the introductory section and includes a questionnaire and hormonal primer as well as a section on *peri-menopause. Part II is entitled Assess, Diagnose, Treat: From Imbalance to Ideal Hormonal Specimen. In this section Dr. Gottfried discusses in detail high and low cortisol, progesterone, androgens, and thyroid issues with a final section called Hormonal Nirvana. Part III is actually a lengthy Appendix that includes The Gottfried Protocol, a Glossary of Terms, Recommend Labs for Home Testing, The Gottfired Food Plan and other excellent reference sections.

*Here is a quote from the section on perimenopause: “We come fully into our power.” (p. 65) Dr. Sara’s tone is always positive.

This is a very complete book and I have highlighted several of the lists, summaries, and important sections that I want to share with my daughters. Just as Dr. Northrup waited until she was going through menopause before she wrote The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Gottfried had experienced hormonal issues herself and is at the midlife stage where these hormonal issues need to be addressed.

Finally, I like Dr. Sara’s style of writing; she writes as though she is having a conversation with you personally. While the book is lengthy and filled with a great deal of medical information, it is dissected into user-friendly sections that anyone can grasp. She laces her facts with humor, such as the page on progesterone imbalance, where she writes: “When you’ve got your progesterone at its proper level—not too little and not too much—you feel like Goldilocks in the just-right bed: sleepy at the right times, triumphant, and content.” (p. 149)

The soft-cover version published by Simon and Schuster is only $18, a perfect gift for the younger women in your family. They will be ever so grateful for your choice of this gift.