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Meal Ideas: Super Healthy Heart Sausage Soup

This post is part of the Meal Ideas series. Finding something to eat that is simultaneously affordable, quick to prepare, healthy, AND delicious can be next-to-impossible sometimes. In this section I post pictures of the food I make, links to recipes I love, and some tips for saving time and money while still cooking great-tasting healthy food.

Awhile ago, I wrote two blog posts (Part One and Part Two) about what I eat for breakfast and how that has gradually changed as I have figured out the sort of diet that works best for me and as I have shifted towards a focus on nutrient-density in all of my meals. Since then, my food choices have continued to evolve as I uncover more information about how to optimize health with food, so today I want to share the recipe for my current go-to breakfast.

The inspiration for this breakfast was Stacy from The Paleo Parents, who has written about how she eats soup for breakfast every morning. In January, bored with the breakfast I’d been eating nearly every morning for six months (yes, it takes me that long to get tired of a food – I’m a creature of habit), I decided to try throwing my homemade sausages and veggies into some broth to try to mix things up. The warm soup was a wonderful way to start a cold, Canadian winter day, so I decided to stick with it, making adjustments along the way to optimize both taste and nutrition.

Beef Heart Sausage Soup with Carrots, Parsnips, Kale, and Ginger

Beef Heart Sausage Soup with Carrots, Parsnips, Kale, and Ginger

NOTE: Follow the links in the ingredients list for details on the health benefits of each of the components of this soup.

MAKE AHEAD — In order to keep breakfast prep time to a minimum, it’s important to make the bone broth and the sausages ahead of time. These instructions will make enough for one week’s worth of soup, but they can be halved, doubled, or tripled easily.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb beef or chicken bones
  • water
  • 1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 lb grass-fed, grass-finished beef, minced
  • 1.5 lb beef heart, minced (this can be done in a meat grinder or a food processor)
  • Salt and pepper (or other seasonings if desired)

Tools

  • Stock pot or slow cooker
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 2 baking sheets (or 1 large)
  • Parchment paper

Method

  1. Place bones in stock pot or slow cooker. Fill pot with water. Add apple cider vinegar.
  2. Bring water to boil. Reduce to simmer. Leave to simmer for 12-48 hours (the longer it simmers, the more nutrients will be in the broth). When the broth is done, store it in glass jars or other containers.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F
  4. Combine ground beef and ground beef heart in a large mixing bowl. Mix in salt and pepper or other seasonings.
  5. Place parchment paper on each baking sheet.
  6. Form the beef/heart mixture into patties (approximately 4 oz each – 14 total). Place 7 patties on each baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven. Let cool. Store.

DAY-OF — With the broth and sausages prepared ahead of time, there won’t be as much prep to do on the day-of. If you don’t have enough time in the morning, consider also steaming the vegetables ahead of time (while you’re making the sausages) so all you have to do the day-of is reheat and season the soup.

Ingredients

Tools

  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Medium saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring spoons

Method

  1. Chop carrots, parsnips, and kale to your desired size
  2. Combine carrots, parsnips, gelatin, ginger and bone broth in the saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. When carrots begin to soften, add kale and sausage to the pot.
  4. Season with turmeric, sea salt, and pepper. Add coconut oil.
  5. Simmer until carrots are soft enough to be pierced by a fork. (Total cooking time may be 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the carrots).
  6. Remove pot from heat. Serve and enjoy.

Meal Ideas: The Evolution of a Paleo Breakfast (Part II)

This post is part of the Meal Ideas series. Finding something to eat that is simultaneously affordable, quick to prepare, healthy, AND delicious can be next-to-impossible sometimes. In this section I post pictures of the food I make, links to recipes I love, and some tips for saving time and money while still cooking great-tasting healthy food.

The Evolution of a Paleo Breakfast in Four Stages (Stages 3 & 4)

Stage 3: Hodge Podge

IMG_0389Curried Cabbage, Ground Pork, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This meal is an excellent one for people small budgets and big appetites. Sweet potatoes are an excellent, inexpensive, and nutrient-dense carb source for any meal, and cabbage is even less expensive (usually $0.79/lb). One head of cabbage will produce a lot of food.

I have two favourite ways to prepare cabbage. For red cabbage I like to use the recipe for sautéed cabbage, apples, and onions from Practical Paleo. For green cabbage (as pictured above) I prefer to sauté the cabbage with some yellow onions and a generous helping of curry powder (turmeric alone would also be great). Always remember to use a good quality fat like coconut oil or pastured lard when sautéing.

The protein in this meal was also chosen for its economy: ground pork is generally less expensive than other ground meats, so if eggs aren’t an option, it’s a good choice for a budget meal. I ate between 4 and 6 ounces of ground pork mixed in with the sautéed  cabbage. Ground pork is also a good meat to buy from a good source (pastured pigs). While any good quality meat will be more expensive than meat from animals raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), ground pastured pork is usually still under $5/lb and it’s better for your health.

Stage 4: Nutrient Density

IMG_0564Beef Heart Sausage with Braised Kale, Steamed Carrots, and Raw Sauerkraut

The most recent iteration of my breakfast journey was chosen mostly for its nutrient density. In June 2013, I started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to help heal my gut and hopefully improve my symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease (an autoimmune-related condition which affects the circulation of blood to my hands, feet, and nose). One of the recommendations on AIP is to eat nutrient-dense foods as often as possible.

The sausage patties shown in the picture are ones I make myself using half grass-fed beef and half grass-fed beef heart. I get my sausage meat at Your Corner Butcher in the Byward Market, Ottawa, because ALL of their beef is 100% grass-fed. Heart meat is delicious; I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to eat more nutrient-dense meat without having to deal with the strong taste of liver or some other organs. Because heart is a muscle, it isn’t all that noticeably different from regular muscle meat. Like all organ meats, heart is also less expensive than muscle meat. I prepare my sausages according to this recipe, using the instructions for cooking them in the oven. I highly recommend using the spices dictated in the recipe: I tinkered around with my own combinations for a while, but I can’t find anything better than that sage, mace, and garlic powder combo.

The vegetables for this meal are the result of a fairly random choice. In accordance with the diet recommendations made by Dr. Terry Wahls, I try to always have about 3 cups of vegetables on my plate at each meal. Braised kale and steamed carrots are two vegetables that often end up on my plate because they’re inexpensive and easy to make in large batches, but sometimes I’ll use sautéed red cabbage and/or a microwaved sweet potato (3-5 minutes depending on size).

The final part of this nutrient-dense meal is my homemade raw sauerkraut. Sauerkraut has many benefits to overall health because it is a probiotic food. The beneficial bacteria which are the result of the fermentation process can help your immune system and improve gut health. I use the recipe from Practical Paleo to make it myself, and I often ferment some carrots and ginger with the cabbage. If you don’t want to make it (or don’t want to wait two weeks for it to ferment), there are many brands of raw sauerkraut that can be found in almost any organic or natural food store. My favourite brand before I started making my own was Karthein’s Unpasteurized Organic Sauerkraut. I usually see it sold for $9.99/jar, but I can make 2 jars of it at home for the price of one organic cabbage ($3 at my local farmer’s market).

There are a lot of options for breakfast outside of cereal, oatmeal, and toast. Hopefully with these thoughts and suggestions you will be able to find a breakfast combination that suits your taste, your health, and your time and budget constraints. Bon Appetit!

Meal Ideas: The Evolution of a Paleo Breakfast

This post is part of the Meal Ideas series. Finding something to eat that is simultaneously affordable, quick to prepare, healthy, AND delicious can be next-to-impossible sometimes. In this section I post pictures of the food I make, links to recipes I love, and some tips for saving time and money while still cooking great-tasting healthy food.

The Evolution of a Paleo Breakfast In Four Stages (Stages 1 & 2)

Stage 1: The Paleo Template

IMG_0332Kitchen Sink Frittata with Roasted Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

I call this breakfast my “paleo template” breakfast because it meets all of the basic criteria of paleo but still isn’t very far from standard breakfast food (an omelet and home fries), so it is a great place to start. Despite the mess of colours that ends up on the plate, this breakfast is actually very easy to put together. This breakfast is useful for an on-the-go lifestyle because the dishes can be made in large batches ahead of time, frozen or refrigerated, and then reheated when you want to eat them.

The Kitchen Sink Frittata is really just a combination of whatever veggies and meat you happen to have around (or whatever was on sale at the grocery store that week) and eggs (which are probably the least expensive protein source around, even if you’re buying pastured eggs). Sautée the meat and veggies till they’re cooked, fold in twelve eggs, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for a couple of minutes until the eggs start to get more solid. Pour the mixture into an oven safe dish (I used a 9×13 lasagna pan) and broil for 3-5 minutes until the top is golden brown. Usually I would make this with a bunch of kale, a large onion, 8 oz of cremini mushrooms, a sweet red pepper, and a pound of bacon or sausage.

The Roasted Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes are a great alternative to home fries if you prefer sweet potatoes to white potatoes like I do. (If you prefer white potatoes, try roasting them instead). Just chop or dice up a few sweet potatoes (however many will fill the container you have – I used a large roasting pan, which fit four large sweet potatoes) and through them in the pan. Then coat the potatoes with cinnamon and melted coconut oil (butter or animal fat would also be good). Roast them at 400F for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

If Roasted Sweet Potatoes seem like too much work to you, try just microwaving a whole sweet potato (make sure to puncture the skin with a fork) for 4-5 minutes and eating that alongside your frittata instead.

Stage 2: Egg Sensitivity

IMG_0370Roasted Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes, Bacon-Braised Kale, and Sautéed Veggies

This new breakfast came about because I realized, after completing my first Whole30, that I have a sensitivity to eggs. After being pretty-much paleo for four months and 100% paleo for one month, I was feeling much better in some ways, but in other ways things were getting worse: the more eggs I ate, the worse my digestion got. I stopped eating eggs, and in less than 24 hours I was feeling MUCH better.

Because I eliminated eggs so quickly and then didn’t go back, I had to quickly find an egg-free breakfast alternative that wasn’t going to take any longer to prepare than the old breakfast. What I ended up with was basically the “paleo template” breakfast without the eggs. I continued to make the roasted sweet potatoes, and I sautéed the other veggies together to eat on their own.  For protein I made bacon-braised kale, which I adapted from The Paleo Mom’s recipe for Bacon-Braised Cabbage. Instead of cabbage, I used kale, but other than that the instructions are the same.

This version of breakfast didn’t really end up having enough protein for me, so I eventually moved on to a new egg-free breakfast. To see that one or the next (my current breakfast) take a look at Part Two of this post.