I warn you, this is a bit of a whiney post so I apologize in advance. No, I have not disappeared off the face of the earth. As sometimes happens in the beginnings of a new year, this has been a bit of a difficult one. Ironically, one of the things that has been keeping me from writing has been the absolute required dedication to the diet of which I have grown to promote.
Let me take a step back, and also stop writing like someone out of Downton Abbey (just got caught up, so the lingo is fresh in my mind). I’ll be blunt. Migraines suck ass. They suck even more ass when you’ve had close to 10 in the last month. They suck even more ass still when they are broken up by intermittent headaches. Just in case I haven’t gotten my point across, this past month has seriously sucked ass.
So what do I do? I’ve seen the doctor, I’ve seen the neurologist. I’ve started a headache journal to try to pinpoint what they all have in common. I’ve started several medications; some that work, some that don’t. But by far the most challenging change has been…completely cutting processed food out of my diet. The fact that I call this challenging may come as a surprise to those who have followed my blog consistently. I am always preaching the value of real, wholesome, local food in order to nourish the body and the spirit. While I still hold by that belief, it is incredibly more difficult when you have to follow it to a “T”. The past 2-3 weeks I’ve been good as gold, looking at every label for anything that I don’t recognize as a real food ingredient. Heavy cream, gone. Boxed coconut milk and almond milk, gone. Most inexpensive cheeses, gone. It’s been exhausting but I am starting to feel better.
One of the things that truly does help the pain when my head is throbbing is spicy food. Weird, but true. Maybe it has something to do with the capsaicin. I do not know, all I know is that a hefty does of chilies or cayenne in a dish does ease the pain when I have a headache.
So, my dinner of choice these last few evenings has been an absolutely delicious Ancho Chile Butternut Squash Soup. I got the inspiration for a southwestern cooking class I took last week at The Seasoned Chef Cooking School. If you’ve never taken a cooking class, I highly recommend it. It’s a fun way to spend an evening, especially if you like conversing with other foodies.
Butternut squash can be so delicious but most of the recipes out there try to make it sweet. Yuck! I know I’m in the minority here, but sweet squash is just not my thing. This soup is not sweet at all. It’s perfectly velvety with a subtle chili undertone that you feel in the back of your throat but is not overpowering. Complimented with herbs and white wine, the way to finish it is pure genius…at the last minute, stir in 2 tablespoons of ghee. It makes it so luscious, you’ll think you’re on vacation in Mexico.
Ancho Chili Butternut Squash Soup
* 1 large butternut squash peeled, seeded, cubed
* 1 medium onion
* 3 ribs celery,diced
* 3 carrots, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 large dried Ancho Chilies, seeded and torn into big chunks
* 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
* 4 cups chicken broth
* 2 tsp dried thyme
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1 cup canned coconut milk
* 2 Tb Ghee (or butter)
Preheat the oven to 400. Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in a thin layer on a sheet pan and roast for about 20-30 min until soft and slightly caramelized. Cool completely.
In a large pot, drizzle a layer of olive oil and add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and chilies. Allow to sweat out over med heat for about 5-7 min. Add white wine and herbs. Bring to a bubble and add chicken broth and squash. Allow to simmer for about 20-30 min.
Puree with an immersion blender (or blender in batches). Remove from the heat. Stir in coconut milk and ghee until melted. Garnish with cilantro, roasted pepitas, or goat cheese.