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blog by Alyssa Hood  • 

Every day it seems like another person I know develops a freaky food allergy or a sudden strange intolerance.

Girls’ stomachs especially are starting to ache each time they eat, and without any other option, they’re being forced to immediately crawl into fetal position until their stomach monsters decide to pass. Talk about a day ruin-er.

I happen to have experienced this pain myself when I was younger—forcing me to down copious amounts of Pepto Bismol and to lay in the middle of the lacrosse field during college practices, praying the “rocks in my intestines” would just go away.

Sounds fun, right? Quite honestly, it just made me afraid of food and afraid to eat. Not okay.

There is such thing as delicious food that is also easy to digest, and there are recipes to prove it.

After 6 years of having doctors chalking me up as a mystery, I diagnosed myself gluten-free and haven’t peered back at a breadcrumb since.

I thought I was just cursed with a defective stomach, but over time I have begun to notice that I definitely have company during this weird food intolerance phenomenon.

Why change your diet now? Well, what you eat cannot only change the way your stomach feels, but also can directly affect your skin, hair, mood and overall energy level—just to name a few effects.

Because of that, my hope is to guide others on a food exploration and to study what our bodies are truly ingesting.

Let’s face it: what is being added to our food has changed since when our parents and grandparents were growing up, and it is time to start being just a little more aware of what we are asking our bodies to digest.

Whether that means just starting to actually read the ingredients on the back of a label, having a plan before you go to the grocery store or changing the way you cook some of your favorite foods—eating better doesn’t have to be scary.

It is my mission to get people to stop being so afraid of food descriptions like gluten-free, dairy-free, and organic.

Words like quinoa and almond milk don’t have to be girly or terrifying. The chart to the left outlines food intolerance product sales increasing from $5.85 billion in 2006 to a projected $13.19 billion in 2015.

You do the math. There is a reason these products are becoming popular, and it’s time to start thinking about why. 

I am not saying you have to use them, but just give it all some thought as I begin to show you how to create hearty and flavorful meals that will leave your stomach smiling.

Let’s begin with this 40-minute homemade soup, because soup anywhere else isn’t exactly worth it. And if it is, it definitely isn’t good for you. 

After a long and moderately unhealthy birthday weekend I was searching for something that would replenish my body with nutrients and cleanse my stomach of its birthday sins. I found this White Bean-Chard Soup recipe on FoodNetwork.com, of all places.

Upon its discovery I thought, “a noodle-less soup with no added flour, butter, or cheese? Can this be real?“ If I’m scaring you already, I promise it gets better.

When I am searching for dinner ideas I find it easiest to look for a baseline inspiration recipe, and then I add my own twist. 

For instance, if you have a male in the household like I do, you may already know that if he sees just veggies sitting on the table for dinner, you are about as good as dead.

This recipe provides a simple way to “man up” this soup with my friend—the chicken sausage. If that finicky guy isn’t around, I promise holding off on the meat is just as tasty.

To begin, all you have to do is set aside 40 minutes of your time to chop veggies and stir a pot. If you think you can handle that, then here are some simple steps on how to create the ultimate soup-er food.

Step 1)

Every soup begins with onions and celery, so keeping those staples around the household “just in case” isn’t a bad thing. I just chopped em’ up (it doesn’t have to be pretty—see below), and threw them in the pot with extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe called for jarred roasted red peppers, but knowing that’s costly, I said, “What the heck, I will roast them myself with the onions and celery!” And so, I did.


Step 2)

Once the veggies were cooked down enough, I added the broth: just chicken stock and two cans of white cannellini beans.

To tell you the truth, when “the male” ate this, he did not believe me that there wasn’t any butter or cream in it.


Step 3)

While the pot of veggies and broth filled the kitchen with onion-y wonderment, I chopped up the remaining ingredients: garlic, a little cilantro, and Swiss chard. Who knew a giant bundle of Swiss chard could cook down and fit in one frying pan? See cooking IS fun!


Step 4)

Now all you have to do is marry the garlic, cilantro, and Swiss chard concoction with their other veggie friends and grab yourself a spoon!


If you are going the chicken sausage route, please do yourself a favor and buy them organic without the pork casing.

If that is annoying or overwhelming to search for at Wegmans, Lexington Co-operative Market on Elmwood Avenue has some great flavors.

Also, because of its cute quaintness, I found all the ingredients for this soup there in less than 10 minutes. To cook the chicken sausage, just slice it up and sauté for 7-to-10 minutes before adding to the pot.

For those that can tolerate wheat, feel free to swan dive in with a side of fresh sourdough bread. For those Sensitive Susies like myself, I recommend some Nut-thin crackers, corn tortilla chips, or if you have time, homemade Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornbread.

Lastly, a garnish of fresh Parmesan and cilantro is also great way to make an easy meal look impressive.

Fun fact: your intestine’s health determines the strength of your immune system and overall health of the rest of your body. So slurp your soup, clink your spoons and say cheers to happy bellies.

(All photos are courtesy of Alyssa Hood).

TAGGED: alyssa hood, gluten-free, healthy living, nutrition's new norm, photos, recipes

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