Foods That Promote Liver Health

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It is not something that people think much about, but the liver is one of the key players in the body’s digestive system. The food and drink that we take, including medicine, passes through the liver. Therefore, we need to treat it right so it can do its job and stay healthy. Part of treating the liver right is by eating foods that promote liver health. Here at Italian Home Kitchen Blog, we love to write, read, eat, and to read about eating. We also love to write about foods that are good for the body.

Everyone needs a liver to live. In fact, it is the body’s largest gland and it had a number of functions, including:
• Destroying old red blood cells
• Detoxifying the blood by ridding it of harmful chemicals
• It produces bile, which is needed to digest fast
• It stores iron and vitamins
• It breaks down insulin, hemoglobin, and other substances
• It stores sugar as glucose, which is needed for a quick energy boost

Every day, the liver works extremely hard to protect the body from adverse effects from disease, toxins, and pollution, and it is easy for it to become overworked, which can compromise one’s health significantly. Fortunately, there are foods that promote liver health. Some of the best foods to detox the liver include:

• Carrots and Beets: High in Glutathione, plant–flavonoids, and beta–carotene
• Tomatoes: Rich in Glutathione protein that helps detoxify the liver
• Spinach: Super rich in Glutathione when raw
• Grapefruit: High in Glutathione, vitamin C and antioxidants
• Citrus fruit: High in vitamin C, which helps stimulate the liver
• Walnuts: Good source of Glutathione, omega–3, and amino acid arginine, which is also good for the liver
• Turmeric: The liver’s favorite spice and helps improve detoxification
• Cabbage: Contains isothiocyanates, which provide detoxifying enzymes
• Avocados: Helps the body to ptoduce Glutathione
• Garlic: High in sulfur that activates liver enzymes that get rid of toxins
• Brussels sprouts: High in antioxidant glucosinolate and sulfur
• Apples: High in chemicals that cleanse the digestive system
• Dandelion: Assists the liver to break down fats
• Leafy green vegetables: High in plant chlorophyll’s that increase bile production, absorb chemicals, neutralize chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals, and lowers the burden on the liver
• Cruciferous vegetables: Increase production of glucosinolate that helps flush out toxins
• Alternative grains: Increase the load on the liver’s detoxification function
• Asparagus: Helps in the cleansing process
• Green tea: rich in plant antioxidants known to assist liver function
• Olive oil: Suck up harmful toxins in the body

If the liver is prevented from producing even one of the many enzymes the body requires, there will be impairment in overall body function, which will result in greater metabolic stress. It is, therefore important to eat foods that promote liver health. Follow us for the most delicious articles on the web.

Best Quick and Easy White Bean, Bacon and Sausage Soup Recipe

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If you caught our earlier recipe for cannellini relish, you know that we love to cook with white beans, especially of the cannellini variety. Click Here to Get Our Cannellini Relish Recipe… Today, we are cooking with white beans again, but this time we are going in the opposite direction of the cold relish recipe and making a warm, savory and smoky soup.

White Bean, Bacon and Sausage Soup is extremely easy to make and is very hearty. We often make this soup on the weekends and keep it in a soup warmer (slow cooker), for the family to pour themselves a bowl throughout Saturday and Sunday. Because it is a bean soup, it holds for a long time as well, and can be refrigerated or frozen and reheated later.

Bacon VS Ham Hock

Bacon Vs. Ham Hock

A traditional white bean and sausage soup often uses a smoked ham hock to get that smoky pork flavored base in the soup. Our recipe skips the ham hock for a couple of reasons; first, a good ham hock is becoming harder to find, and the ones you do find in the grocery stores are not that great of quality and have often been deep frozen. Instead, we use delicious bacon to render that smoky pork flavoring and find that we do not miss cleaning the ham hock, nor do we lose any flavor.

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Kielbasa, Polish Sausage, Ukrainian Sausage

For the sausage in this soup, we like to use kielbasa — also called Polish Sausage or Ukrainian Sausage — as it has a good bite and good flavor. The sausage doesn’t really flavor the broth so much as it is a meaty chunk to balance out the beans, so go with whatever your favorite sausage is. However, make sure that it is a smoked sausage, as that flavor balances well with the rest of the flavors in the soup.

Ingredients For White Bean, Bacon and Sausage Soup

This recipe will make a large pot of soup, but feel free to cut it down to smaller batches if you like. Again, this soup holds well and you can freeze it to reheat it later, so we always make the big batch.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Yellow Onions
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 2 Large Carrots (Peeled and Diced)
  • 1 Packet of Sliced Bacon (1 pound)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 3 Cans of White Beans (Cannellini Beans)
  • 1 Can of Diced Potatoes
  • 3 Cans of Beef Stock
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chopped Garlic (In Water)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons of Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons of Turmeric
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt to Taste

Directions for Cooking White Bean, Bacon and Sausage Soup

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Preparing Your Mirepoix

A mirepoix is a mixture of celery carrots and onions that give this soup recipe (and many other soup recipes) the basis for flavoring. Preparing it is simple, and it is really the only “hard work” that you have to do in this incredibly easy soup recipe.

  1. Take your carrots and peal them.
  2. Slice carrots in half lengthwise.
  3. Slice the carrot halves in half again lengthwise.
  4. Slice the carrot sticks into roughly quarter inch “cubes.”
  5. Take your cleaned celery stalks and slice in half lengthwise.
  6. Slice the celery into roughly quarter inch “cubes.”
  7. Cut off both ends of your onions.
  8. Cut onion in half and rotate.
  9. Dice the onion into quarter inch “cubes.”

With your mirepoix prepared, you can set it aside and move onto the bacon.

Soup Pot

  1. Take the full package of bacon and slice it into 1/2 inch pieces. HINT: You can actually use scissors to quickly slice the bacon into appropriate pieces.
  2. In a large soup pot pour in your vegetable oil and let it coat the bottom of the pot, while bringing it up to medium-low heat.
  3. Add the bacon pieces and let the bacon render out all of its fat.
  4. When the bacon is starting to brown, and the fat has melted off, use a slotted spoon to fish out all of the bacon pieces, leaving the fat and oil behind.
  5. Add your mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions to the bacon fat in the pot and give them a stir (making sure to let all the vegetables get coated with the flavoring).
  6. At this point add your butter to the mirepoix as it is cooking so that the vegetables have plenty of fat to simmer in until translucent NOTE: The vegetables will quickly drink up most of the bacon fat originally used, so the butter helps to keep them moist while cooking.
  7. When you mirepoix has been cooked until translucent, add the bacon pieces back in, and give a good stir.
  8. Next add your spices: Cayenne Pepper, Chopped Garlic, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika, Turmeric, Bay Leaves, Worcestershire Sauce, Ground Black Pepper.
  9. Stir all ingredients well and add your Canned White Beans and Diced Potatoes.
  10. Slice your kielbasa sausage in half lengthwise and cut at an angle into chunks (Size is up to you).
  11. Add the Beef Stock to the pot. NOTE: the 3 cans of beef stock is usually enough to cover all of the ingredients, but if your white beans are extra thirsty, simply add water to make sure that the broth is at the right balance to the rest of the ingredients. Some like their soups thicker, while others like it more watery… this step is up to you.
  12. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  13. Final Step: taste the broth and add salt to taste.

And That is All It Takes…!

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After only 20 minutes of simmering, this soup is finished! Who knew making a delicious white bean soup could be so easy? Serve soup alongside pieces of your favorite crusty bread (baguettes, foccacia and ciabatta go great with the flavors in this soup).

Recipe: Cannellini Bean Relish Salad

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We should probably preface this article and recipe by explaining why this dish is technically a bean salad but referred to as cannellini relish. We mean relish in the old European form of the world, not the American form of relish that is usually that bright radioactive green pickle relish that get slathered onto hot dogs so often.

The best way to explain this relish is that it is much like the Spanish have salsa and use it to dress any number of food items. This relish is of Italian descent, and is used to dress meats, bread, or can even be eaten all by itself as its own salad. In our home, we make very large batches of this dish and it makes an appearance in almost every meal that we make — sometimes as a relish for other items, and other times just as a side salad. With that being said, lets get to this delicious and healthy recipe…

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Cannellini Beans

First off, the cannellini beans are really the star of this dish, adding a protein that soaks up all the delicious dressing and marinates in it. We always use canned cannellini beans — as it is much easier this way — but feel free to cook the cannellini beans from a dry state if you’d like. Canned cannellini beans can be found in almost every grocery store, though sometimes they are just called white beans.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Stalks of Celery
  • 3-4 Large Carrots
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chopped Garlic
  • 4 Large Roma Tomatoes
  • 2 Large Onions (Red or White)
  • 1 Serrano Pepper
  • 2 Cans of Cannellini Beans
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Good Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Recipe Directions

This is an extremely easy recipe to prepare, and most of the prep time comes from cutting the vegetables into their correct sizes to allow them to stay a bit crisp, but soak up all of the flavor from the vinaigrette dressing. Below you will find out to slice all of the vegetables perfectly for this recipe…

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Slice the Carrots

First skin the carrots with your peeler and nip the ends off at each end. At a slight angle cut the carrot as thinly as you can, so that the pieces look like little coins. If your knife skills are lacking, you can always use a kitchen mandolin to get perfect slices every time.

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Firs separate the ribs of celery and rinse them under cold water — making sure to get all of the dirt and grit. Again, at an angle slice the celery very thinly. These thin slices of celery give a nice crisp snap that compliments the soft cannellini bites.

160557511Dice the Tomatoes

First Slice off the top of the tomato where the stem originally was and then cut the tomato in half lengthwise. Using your hand, rip out all or the seed and “guts” of the tomato so that you are left with to hollow halves of only the tomato meat inside of the skin (they should look like hollowed out boats). Next slice the halves into thin strips, rotate 90 degrees and slice thinly again to make little cubes of pure tomato meat.

177429740Slice the Onions

Whether you use red, yellow or even white onions is completely up to you. Some find red onions to be too strong, so we often tone it down with yellow onions — especially for the kids. First slice the top and bottom off of the onions, cut in half lengthwise and slice the onions into thin strips as shown in the picture above.

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First off, make sure you get Seranno peppers and not jalapeno peppers. They look almost identical but the serranos are much milder than the jalapenos which are far to spice for this light and delicate dish. To put it in salsa terms, bell peppers are mild, serranos are medium, and jalapenos are fiery hot sauce. All you have to do is (very thinly) slice the pepper into little coins, seeds and all. The thinner you slice these the better, as if you bite down on a big chunk of serrano, you are going to get a lot of spice that overwhelms the mouth.

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Prepare the Vinaigrette

We did not give exact measurements for the oil and the vinegar in the ingredients list for a reason; that reason is the amount of vinaigrette you need can fluctuate between batches, as some cannellini and vegetables soak up more vinaigrette and more quickly than other batches. The dressing, unfortunately, really needs to be “eye-balled” to get the best results. The magic ratio for vinaigrette is 1 to 3. One part vinegar to two parts oil. Using a blender or a stick blender, add the Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon (out of the 3 total for this recipe) of chopped garlic, dill, garlic powder and onion powder and vinegar together. turn on the blender and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, allowing the mixture to froth itself into an emulsion. Remember the 1 to 3 ratio!

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Combine All Ingredients Together

This recipe makes quite an amount of the relish, so when mixing everything together, we have found that using a large soup pot is best. First, open and drain the cans of cannellini beans and add it to the pot. Next add all of your chopped vegetables and the remaining garlic; after that, simply drizzle your vinaigrette over all of the ingredients and mix well — so that all of the ingredients are coated with the vinaigrette. The last thing you need to do is to tuck 1 whole bay leaf into the mixture and let it work its magic on the mixture.

Let It Marinate

Your Cannellini Relish Salad is now technically complete, however the longer the mixture marinates, the more flavor the vegetables soak up. When making this recipe, we usually allow the mixture to marinate in the soup pot — refrigerated — overnight. After giving it a good stir the next day, it is ready to eat. The longer you let these vegetables marinate, the better they get.

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Well there you have it; the recipe is complete. Like we said in the beginning, this is often used as a relish that adds flavor to anything from meats to rice to bread and beyond. We, ourselves, have used this on everything from wraps to topped on sirloin grilled steak… so don’t be afraid of mixing this relish into other dishes, and feel free to explore how it compliments other dishes, proteins and recipes.

Enjoy, and check back often for our latest and most delicious recipes.