Ruth's Recipes: Especially in our grief, we must eat well for our health

Marie Ruth AugusteMarie Ruth AugusteThese last few weeks have been painful for so many of us. Sooner or later, however, the body demands nutrients to stay alive and well; mind, body and soul. For many of us (myself included) when we’re experiencing shocking, stressful, emotionally painful times loaded with anxiety, the appetite shuts down and the body says “no” to eating. From the lump that you feel in your throat to the seemingly yet vivid tightening knot in your stomach, food is the last thing on your mind and nothing will go down.

Perhaps you feel wired and at the same time tired. You’re running on empty but still you have zero desire to eat. Sometimes you might even get a repulsive feeling just from the smell of food- food that you would otherwise enjoy.
I don’t know that there is a word that encapsulates all of these emotional and physical reactions in terms of food and eating but at the end of the day, I think it’s all tied to the aching heart. Call it heartache for now though there are other words for this reaction.
In a nutshell, it is what it is and you know what it’s like for you as you go through it. Having said that, back to the food is fuel point, you need to put food in you even with the knots and lumps in the way.
Don’t get it twisted though; I also know about the flip side of the “I can’t eat” reaction. The part where you want to eat everything that is eatable, specifically the types of foods that we know for sure are just “bad” for us. You know what I’m talking about: fried, greasy, salty and/or sugary foods e.g. griyo, tasso, bannan fri peze, pate, etc. Guilty, guilty, guilty — I am. Bottom line: You either don’t want to eat or you want to eat too much- especially the “bad” stuff. So what do you do? I try to combine easy-to-eat healthy foods with lots of enticing flavors! Mix it up and have some comforting “good for you” food around.
Following is one of my favorite chicken soups or bouyon:
Tasty spicy soup
This easy concoction can be thrown together with pretty much any meat/poultry or seafood, veggies and herbs. I love making this bouyon with left over chicken with bones!
~2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cooked pieces chicken (bone-in breasts preferred)
1 large yellow onion (quartered)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
2 large roma tomatoes (quartered)
1 cup celery (including leafy part); chopped
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small easter egg radishes, peeled/diced
1 bay leaf
1 large fresh thyme and parley sprigs, tied into a bouquet
3 cloves
1 tablespoon natural chicken bouillon paste
Grey sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted real butter
Fresh baby spinach, ~2 palms full
1 bunch watercress
1 half cup leaks, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric, natural unsalted
1 whole scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
1 sliver of fresh peeled ginger, ~1 inch
1 cup thai rice noodle (or any noodle that cooks in 5 minutes)
1 cup cooked potatoes, e.g. leftover roasted potatoes
~1 quarter cup white wine (optional)
8 cups water
If you’re still using those maggi-like bouillon cubes watch that salt people. That’s another column that I won’t get into at this moment- okay!

In a large pan over high heat, add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, leaks and ginger. Saute for a minute or until lightly caramelized. Add cooked chicken pieces, sauté for a minute and deglaze with white wine. Season with salt and pepper and add chicken bouillon, water and stir. Next, add half tomatoes, bay leaf, turmeric, cloves, whole pepper, radishes, and thyme & parsley bouquet. Bring to a boil and then continue cooking on medium heat for ~25 minutes. Add remainder of ingredients and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Makes 4 servings.

Earth quaked, our hearts ache, as we try to accept the realities of the things that have happened and find strength to do the things we have to in order to keep moving. We breathe and try to remember that man needs food, it’s fuel. So, as a little 4-year old friend once said to me “how about something to munch on!”