Believe the Doctors

Lentil Soup and Roast Okra

Happy Black History Month 2018. I’m using this opportunity of celebration as an opportunity to promote self care by reminding visitors about the importance of seeking professional medical assistance. Here’s my story:

One sunny summer day, I walked into my dentist office to complain about the pain of my shifting teeth and to make sure there wasn’t an underlying problem. I walked out with an autumnal schedule for a root canal and an appointment with a gum specialist who would later require surgery to be done in two phases. The dentist said I was a few months away from having one tooth swell with excruciating pain. It may sound like horrific news, but if I reframe my experience, I’m relieved to have caught these problems early, and lucky to have pretty good dental insurance to help pay for the work (I’m still broke).

Having these surgeries would have people believe my dental habits are reckless. Actually, the gum specialists noticed I take care of my teeth, but genetics and perimenopause (which can cause bone loss and hormonal changes) would have contributed to the problem. But, the doctor also mentioned, most people have extensive work starting in their 30s.

It’s not often I discuss my personal health on my food blog, but I wanted to use the experience to talk about the importance of visiting doctors. The internet is full of unprofessional advice about health. And, for some people, a visit to a doctor results in decreased income and an added expense, which is why I suspect home remedies are popular (and, they do work!). It seems when I tell friends to visit a doctor after someone tells me they’ve had a problem for more than seven to ten days, their response is usually about doctors only caring about money, or how they searched online for a natural cure for their ailment (I do it, too). Bad experiences with doctors are quite common, but one bad doctor doesn’t represent the entire medical field. If you dislike your doctor, search for another one. As much as I love natural cures, I’ve learned they work better when a medical professional diagnoses the problem and recommends the proper medical treatment. Such as the time I had a stomach ailment, and ginger and lemon exacerbated it — the better treatment was homemade chicken stock.

Lentil Soup

Someone very close to me is being treated for cancer. It’s humbling for me to type this statement. But, if they hadn’t gone to the doctor for their yearly physical, they would be in one of those difficult stages of treatment. The doctor caught the cancer cells before they entered their blood (or bone?), and that’s a pre-stage one, which doesn’t call for chemotherapy. The treatments are experimental. Most respected medical articles advise people to get their yearly physical, because the earlier a problem is caught, the more chances of a successful treatment.

There’s nothing like a visit to a dentist office to remind us of how crucial teeth are to health. I admit, I wish more medical practices had a certified nutritionist on staff offering professional and personalize advice. Since being perimenopause, I’ve noticed my diet needs a complete review, starting with learning how to include food rich with calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone loss (which could be associated with my dental problems). Also, the richest sources of calcium and vitamin D come from animal-based ingredients such as milk, yogurt, cheese and fish. For vegans or vegetarians, vitamin-fortified soy products, cereals and juices are also great sources. I’m also learning the importance of adding more protein to my diet for effective workouts. According to, 100 grams of lentils has 26 grams of protein versus 108 grams of steak (a healthy, normal potion) has 27 grams of protein.

Okra and Red Lentils
Okra and Red Lentils. The red coloring of lentils fades as they cook.

My gum surgery required two weeks of eating only liquid to mushy foods, and it’s done in two phases. When one half of the mouth heals, the doctor treats the other side. It’s a tough meal, because I don’t like “liquid diets.” Vegetables were roasted and puréed into soups with tofu. I spoonfed myself mushy steamed vegetables. Slurped down green smoothies. The issue with this special diet, is the amount of sugar being slurped, and there’s less less carbs and protein. Sure, plenty of these vegetarian-based recipes are naturally made, but sugar is still sugar. And, too much sugar makes my body and mental focus jittery.

“…The nutrients of concern in the diet of vegetarians include vitamin B(12), vitamin D, ω-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and zinc. Although a vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients, the use of supplements and fortified foods provides a useful shield against deficiency.”

Out of all these slurpy meals, Red Lentil Soup with Roast Okra is the only recipe I continue to make after my mouth healed. Not only did it stabilize the sugar from the liquid diet, it’s a ‘stick to your bones’ type of soup because of the protein and fiber. Before this diet, lentil soup was my least favorite soup. Maybe the homemade chicken stock is the ingredient that makes a difference (store-bought broth works with this recipe, too) or maybe it’s the carrots? A side of roast okra is the game-changer (in my world). And, no bowl of Red Lentil Soup is complete without a juicy squeeze from a lemon wedge. Sometimes a generous spoonful of yogurt is swirled into a warm bowl.

Roast Okra

Perfect doctors exist on television. Each of our health issues are a challenge for doctors, but they’re not demigods, so excuse them if they take their time finding solutions. But, their quality of treatment and advice exceeds most internet articles written from a stranger lacking a certified medical degree (and some articles don’t list their medical sources). These days, well-meaning friends’ health advice about treating every ailment with turmeric, ginger, drink plenty of water, homemade broth, and so on are met with a sarcastic wit about their medical degree from a search engine.

I believe the doctors, do you?

Lentil Soup with Roast Okra

Lentil Soup with Roast Okra


    Ingredients for Lentil Soup
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • (Optional) 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of red lentils, rinsed clean
  • 1 small bunch of fresh thyme wrapped in twine or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth, warm with a few bay leaves
  • 4 to 6 carrots, stems trimmed, sliced into half-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Serve with lemon wedges
  • Optional: Plain, unsweetened Greek (thick) yogurt
  • Ingredients for Roast Okra
  • About 1 lb. okra, gently cleaned
  • About 2 tbsp. olive or neutral oil
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
  • Ground garlic; to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin; more or less to taste


    Directions for Lentil Soup
  1. Heat a medium sized pot over medium heat. Pour oil in the pot when it’s hot.
  2. After a few seconds, add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Occasionally stir for about 10 to 15 minutes. If the onions start to quickly burn before 10 minutes, reduce the heat.
  3. Add the coriander, cumin, red pepper, tomato paste and garlic. If necessary, add more salt and pepper. Stir for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils, thyme, chicken broth and carrots. Cover to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook lentils for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils have fallen apart to create a textured pureed soup with soft carrots.
  5. Stir in parsley and turn off the heat.
  6. Serve warm with lemon wedges and a dollop of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt.
  7. Directions for Roast Okra
  8. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil (I also add parchment paper to make sure the okra doesn’t stick).
  9. After cleaning okra, use paper towels to pat the okra dry (it’s not going to be completely dry, but the object is to get rid of excess water).
  10. Cut okra vertically in half.
  11. Toss okra in a bowl with olive oil and spices.
  12. Place okra, cut side up, over the foil lined baking sheet. Keep each okra slice separate from the other.
  13. Place baking sheet in the oven to bake at least 15 minutes (more for a slightly crispy, charred flavor).
  14. Remove roast okra from the oven. Turn the oven off. If necessary, season the okra with a tiny bit of salt, pepper and ground cumin.
  15. Serve with lentil soup.

Sources and Additional Information:

Black History Month Potluck 2018

My Life Runs On Food is one of 28 Black food bloggers from around the globe sharing a few of their favorite recipes for a virtual potluck celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth. Read the list below to read their stories and try their recipes.
Please Note: Recipes publish before or on February 1, 2018.

Beautiful Eats & Things | Turkey Sausage Stuffed Collard Green Wraps

Better With Biscuits | Corn Pudding

Beyond The Bayou Food Blog | Redfish Courtbouillon

Brandi’s Diary | Better than Jiffy Cornbread from Scratch

Butter Be Ready | Southern Style Mac and Cheese

Chef Kenneth | Fried Sweet Potato Hand Pie

Chocolate For Basil | Pilau and Kachumbari (Spiced Rice with Pico)

Cooks with Soul | Braised Short Rib Meatloaf

D.M.R. Fine Foods | Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding

Dash of Jazz | Nigerian Jollof Rice

Domestic Dee | Fried Fruit Pie

Eat.Drink.Frolic. | Olive Oil Collard Greens

Food Fidelity | Mofongo Relleno

Food is Love Made Edible | Buttermilk Biscuits with Fried Chicken and Tabasco Honey

High Heels and Good Meals | Crawfish Etouffee

HomeMadeZagat | Shrimp with Spicy Curry Cream Sauce

Houston Food Fetish | Sweet Almond Tea Cakes

In the Kitchen w/Kmarie | Pineapple Lemonade

Marisa Moore Nutrition | Date Night Bourbon Peach Glazed Salmon

Meiko and The Dish | Candied Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Orchids + Sweet Tea | Carrot and Zucchini Noodles Stir Fry with Shrimp

Raised on Ramen | Orange Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Savory Spicerack | Creamy Fish Stew

Simply LaKita | Blackberry Cobbler

The Hungry Hutch | Orange Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze

The Kitchenista Diaries | Smothered Turkey Wings

The Seasoning Bottle | Honey Turmeric Skillet Chicken

13 thoughts on “Believe the Doctors

  • February 26, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    I have to have a similar surgery so I am thankful for you story and recipe! I love lentils anyway, so like you I probably wimm continue eating that.

  • February 26, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    What a great article, thank you for sharing your experience! I personally use both. Modern medicine & the old school methods. I find that they can complement each other very well. I’m not a fan of okra but I love lentils in any iteration.

  • February 20, 2018 at 12:39 am

    Wow this was truly a wake-up call for me. I just had an Aunt pass from pancreatic cancer. I don’t trust doctors sometimes either (especially my dermatologist) but they are the experts we must learn to let them do their jobs. 🙂 Great post I will be trying this recipe 🙂 God Bless

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