Saturday, November 16, 2013

Meatball Power

Asian Meatball Soup

Well, I finished my course of antibiotics on Tuesday and immediately fell sick again on Wednesday night. This time I've picked up a head cold with sinus pressure. I'm beyond frustrated at this point. I feel like Rapunzel trapped in her tower. Every time I try to go for even a slow, easy walk I become sicker, so Jerry isn't letting me go outside much or do very much. I spent most of today sleeping. I'm bored out of my skull.

Since the trip to the doctor was a bust I am trying to fight back with nutrition. Some doctors and scientists think people my age and younger are actually unable to absorb adequate nutrition because we've become so dependent on antibiotics we've killed off most of the beneficial bacteria we should carry in our digestive tracts. This is serious, because most of the immune system is centered in the digestive tract. I read another study recently which also showed overweight and obese people have less variety of beneficial gut bacteria, so overuse of antibiotics may also be making us fat. Everyone in the house is sniffing and coughing some, though luckily no one else has caught it as badly, so I decided to try to devise a "nutritional bomb" for supper so we can try to avoid any more antibiotics.

I've been really craving won ton soup from Raleigh's late, lamented Duck and Dumpling restaurant lately. There are several issues with this, chief among them the fact that Chef David retired and the restaurant no longer exists! Also, won tons aren't on our low-carb diet, and Raleigh is over 3 hours away. Since I've been lying around for a month now I definitely need to stick to my diet! I gained a depressing amount of weight during marching band season and it's coming off very slowly if I watch my diet. Years ago I devised a copycat won ton soup recipe that came very close to replicating The Duck and Dumpling's. Tonight I decided to see if I could produce a low-carb version. I did, and the result was fabulous. Jerry said he thought it was even better than the original Duck and Dumping recipe, and it was gobbled up with no complaints from anyone.

Boil the broth with shrimp shells and kelp for extra nutrition and Asian flavor.

So, here it is: Asian Meatball Soup, packed with all the nutrition I could manage to stuff in there! The soup is actually made with both meatballs and "won ton" dumplings wrapped with nori (dried seaweed). I've made some adjustments unnecessary if you have an Asian grocery nearby. Back at home I used bonito fish flakes and dried powdered shrimp to flavor the broth, but I don't have that option here, so I tried to replicate the flavor by using half seafood broth and boiling the shrimp shells while I made the meatballs. I also wanted the nutritional boost from my homemade 6 hour bone broth. I don't have homemade seafood broth right now so I used purchased seafood broth. I used local pork from the farmer's market. We are lucky to have a couple wonderful organic, free-range pig farms here, including the famous Grateful Growers farm in Denver, and I feel much better about eating pork that was raised in such a healthy environment.

Asian Meatball Soup
Serves 12
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups seafood broth
4 cups water
shells from 1 pound shrimp
1 piece dried kelp, (dashi kanbu), divided into thirds
2 tbsp. sake or mirin
2 tbsp. soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp. Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 tsp. salt
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 pound ground pork
1 pound raw shelled shrimp
1 bunch scallions
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. grated ginger
2 eggs
1 tbsp. mirin or Chinese rice wine
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coconut sugar or stevia
1 tsp. soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. fish sauce
pinch ground pepper
2 sheets sushi nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into 3 inch squares
To prepare the broth:
Peel the shrimp, reserving the shells in a separate bowl. Place the shells in a stock pot strainer. Pour the broths into the stock pot, then add the strainer full of shells. Add 1/3 of the kelp and remaining ingredients except the scallions. Pour the water over the shells. Bring this to a boil and boil while you make the meatballs. If you are able to find bonito flakes and dried, powdered shrimp then you may add those to the broth and skip the step of boiling the shrimp shells.
To prepare the meatballs and dumplings:
Place all ingredients except sushi nori in a food processor and process until everything is well-mixed. For the dumplings, place a 1 tbsp. scoop of meat filling in the center of each square of nori. Bring two opposite corners together diagonally and seal by dipping your finger in water and wetting one corner of the nori. Press the other corner to the wet part and press with your wet finger. You can leave the dumplings like this or repeat with the other two corners to make a square dumpling. Set aside. For the meatballs, scoop 1 tbsp. of meat and place on a plate. Set aside.
When you have prepared all the dumpling and meatballs, remove the strainer of shrimp shells from the stock pot and discard the shells. Bring the broth in the pot to a boil. Break up the remaining 2/3 kelp into 1 inch pieces and drop in the broth. Add the chopped scallions. Drop the dumplings and meatballs in one at a time. Boil for 8-10 minutes until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Taste and correct seasonings if necessary.
Serve each bowl of soup with a mix of meatballs and dumplings.

I make my bone broth according to Sally Fallon's recipe from her Nourishing Traditions book, a must-read for anyone who wishes to enhance health through nutrition. Take bones from poultry (in this case I used duck bones), hearts, gizzards, necks, feet, and any other trimmings and add to a stock pot with a strainer in place. Add whole, unpeeled carrots, onions, garlic, celery and celery leaves, herbs, and any other vegetables you desire. Cover with water. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer at least 6 hours, skimming impurities that rise to the surface of the broth occasionally. Pull the strainer full of bones and solid ingredients from the pot and skim the remaining broth.  Cool the broth, and when the fat rises to the top skim it off. This super-healthy liquid now contains the nutrients from the vegetables as well as the vitamins from the poultry meat and organs and the gelatin from the bones. Whenever possible use organic ingredients.

Preparing the dumplings

Besides its being low-carb, I really like this tasty soup because it introduces both kelp and seaweed into our diets. These highly nutritious foods, ubiquitous in Asia, are largely missing from Western diets. This soup provides a shot of health not only from those, but also because it does not contain refined white flour won ton wrappers. Refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar not only contain little to no nutritional value, the metabolic process of digesting them depletes the nutrients from your body without replenishing them, so they actually drain nutrients from your body!

Preparing the meatballs

I like using the nori wrappers to make dumplings as well because I adore filled and stuffed foods. Dumplings, ravioli, stuffed shells, filled favorites! I preferred the dumplings in this recipe to the meatballs because they provided the stuffed texture I love as well as increasing the Asian flavor.

I hope this gives our bodies the boost we need to fight off all these nasty germs. We did spend some time today disinfecting the phones, remotes, shower heads, door knobs, and stuff like that to try to kill the germs as well. Someday I want to get back into my studio and get some work done! I do still have a good amount of inventory in my store. Check it out here:


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