I know a handful of things to be absolute truths. For example, kindness is better than judgment, It’s essential to stay hydrated, life is never what you think it’s going to be, it’s impossible to get Adele concert tickets without selling a kidney, and when in doubt, MAKE SOUP. Always and forever, style. Like, tattoo a steaming bowl of chicken noodle onto my biceps. Do you think I could make the noodles dance when I flex? Maybe. I will probably never find out.
Lately things have been kind of rough in my camp. This all falls under the absolute truth of life being unpredictable. I don’t often discuss my health journey on here, but every now and again I peel back the veil behind all the mashed potatoes and eggplant parm to reveal some more personal deets. For those of you who are long time readers and followers, you know about my Lyme Disease diagnosis, and how hard I’ve been working to kick its butt.
It’s been about two years since I was diagnosed, and after seeing several doctors, I finally found an amazing Lyme-literate, functional medicine doctor about a year ago. He’s thorough. Like, I’ve never taken so many tests in my life. You know you’re in for a ride when you go to get blood work and the phlebotomist says something to the effect of “I mean…what kind of doctor orders THIS much blood in one sitting?!” Cue all of the clammy upper-lip sweat and some light hyperventilating (I tell that story here). But, it was thorough, and he found things. More than just the Lyme. There was mold toxicity in my system, other viral components and methylation issues (curious about methylation? I’d recommend this podcast episode). Not to mention he found some fun little bacteria in my gut, and SIBO. I did a couple of pretty intense protocols in order to kill the SIBO and open up my methylation pathways. It wasn’t easy, but I felt so much better after a couple of months. In fact, I was able to travel for the first time in several years. I went to Kauai, you guys. This was a huge win. One that I feel I should write about, but still need to find the right words.
But, if I have learned a few things along the way, it’s that cases of chronic illness are complex and ever-changing. When we went back to retest my gut, we found that I had killed the SIBO (huzzah!) yet, I now had a crazy case of yeast overgrowth, or Candida (opposite of huzzah!). Honestly, I wasn’t too worried about it. After all, I had just conquered SIBO, and flown on a big scary airplane over the ocean. I was pretty much Superman, without the cape, or the piercing blue eyes, or the schmeckle. So, I approached this new Candida killing spree with the attitude of the ever popular internet meme slogan, “Come at me, Bro!”.
And, come at me it did. Hard. I’ve spent the past month trying to find a good rhythm with this new protocol. When you kill pathogens quicker than you can eliminate them, it creates a build up of biotoxins in your system, which can lead to some very undesirable symptoms. This is called a Herxheimer Reaction, and let me tell you… it feels bad. On the positive side, you’re killing things. On the negative side, you turn into some sort of feverish zombie version of yourself that sleeps during the day and consistently grumbles about how your joints are on fire. The goal is to kill things at a manageable rate, and to avoid a lot of the discomfort of a herx. But, finding that balance can be challenging–especially if you, like myself, have the constitution of a sensitive baby chinchilla.
It’s hard not to get discouraged when you find yourself spending days on the couch, not able to function. I had planned a trip to Los Angeles to take an amazing photography and food-styling class, but had to cancel due to the fact that I could barely stay conscious for more than a couple hours at a time. I felt a little heart broken, and a lot frustrated. But, at the same time I knew I was doing the best thing for my health, and put as much effort as I could in allowing myself to heal and implementing expert levels of self care. I’m still not feeling my best, but the fog is starting to lift a bit, and for that I’m thankful. This is all part of the journey.
One of the ways I take care of myself when I don’t feel so hot is to make a big ol’ pot of soup. It’s soul food. Kinda like Soul Train, but less polyester and synth sounds. Since I haven’t been feeling my best, I wanted to deliver something to my face that was both nourishing and EASY to make. Enter the Instant Pot. Do you have one of these miracle multi-functional pressure cookers? I highly recommend getting one if you’re someone who is constantly making broth, or likes tender meats and stews in a hurry. I’m pretty sure this thing even makes yogurt and a whole bunch of stuff I haven’t even tried out yet. Pretty dang awesome. There’s even a slow cooking function. Whatever the opposite of a one-trick pony is… this is that. I’m totally not being paid to say these things. I’m just generally jazzed about pressure cooking.
This soup has awesome Asian flavors, and reminds me of something my Grammie would make. It’s kind of reminiscent of the popular Hawaiian dish Chicken Long Rice. Lots of tender chicken and strong ginger flavors mix together with scallions and pepper flakes for a pop of spice. The kelp noodles are low calorie and highly nutrient dense. They seem really crunchy when you remove them from the package, but once they spend enough time in the broth, they take on great flavor and soften up to taste a bit like rice noodles. It’s a total winner. Serve it up, and squeeze some fresh lime juice into your bowl. That just sends it over the edge. Trust. Plus, citrus is a great source of vitamin C. So, it’s basically like adding medicine to your already nutrient-rich broth. Did I go too far? Possibly. Just, use lime. Trust me. I ain’t playing.
Now, lets all hold up our bowls and cheers to health and healing. Don’t worry if hot broth spills all over us. It’s totally fine. This is a good idea. Um, you have a kelp noodle in your hair. I’ll get it. Just sit still. Perfect.
- 1 Tbsp.ghee (or, other cooking fat/oil of your choice)
- 2 Lbs. Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- 3 large cloves of garlic, pressed
- 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
- 6-8 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. gluten-free fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp. Tamari (can sub in coconut aminos for strict Paleo)
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 piece of kombu
- 1 lb. package of kelp noodles
- Extra scallions
- Fresh lime juice
- Turn on the saute function of your instant pot, and heat up the ghee at the bottom of the pot. Once the ghee melts and heats up, add in the chicken thighs, and season them generously with salt and pepper. Add in the garlic and the ginger. Brown the chicken thighs on all sides. This will help to seal in the juices.
- Once the chicken thighs are nicely browned, add the chicken broth, fish sauce, tamari, scallions, red pepper flakes and kombu to the pot. Put the lid on your Instant Pot and set the valve to the closed position. Set the pot to cook for 15 minutes on high pressure.
- After the 15 minutes are up, either release the pressure on the pot, or allow it to drop naturally on its own as it cools. After the pressure has been released, open the pot and return it to the saute function. Remove the piece of kombu from the soup and set it aside. You can use it again in another dish, so make sure to save it.
- Using a couple of forks,or a pair of cooking tongs, break up the chicken thighs. This will be easy. They should pretty much fall apart when you touch them. Finally, rinse your kelp noodles and cut them to a desired length. They are usually really long, so I will cut them in half. Add them to the pot while it's still on the saute function. Stir together. Allow the noodles to cook in the broth until they soften and are no longer crunchy. This will take a few minutes.
- Once the noodles are soft, the soup is ready to serve. Garnish it with extra scallions, cilantro and juice from a fresh lime wedge! Enjoy!