Tag Archives: gluten-free
31 May

chocolate avocado pudding

 

I know.

I keep posting vegan and gluten-free recipes when I am neither vegan nor gluten-free.

My brother actually brought this up the last time we were all together.

So what gives?

With very little exception, I eat pretty much everything.

And more importantly, I can eat everything.

I realize that I’m in a very lucky position because I don’t have to put restrictions on the foods that I eat due to health or other reasons. However, I know plenty of other people who aren’t so lucky.

I also realize that one day my luck may run out and, for whatever reason, I may have to change the way I eat. So I think it’s important for this blog to have something for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions.

The short time that my husband and I spent failing as vegans about a year ago allowed me the opportunity to discover new recipes as well as vegan cooks, bakers, and bloggers that I still follow today.

I will say that once I stopped eating animal products, I felt better and looked better than I ever have in my life. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Sadly, my weak constitution coupled with my fondness for butter, cheeseburgers, seafood, and cheese kept me from becoming a role model vegan, or any kind of vegan for that matter.

Even though we gave up on veganism, we continue to incorporate quite a few of those vegan recipes into our everyday cooking and baking, but I like to put my own little spin on them from time to time.

This chocolate pudding is based on a recipe that I came across about a year ago but didn’t really care for. So I spent a little time tweaking it until it was just right. It’s a much healthier alternative to the powdery boxed stuff and almost as simple.

You will need a food processor or a blender but that’s about as difficult as this gets. You’re basically just going to dump everything into the machine and let it do the work for you.

I also want to note here that there are so many different variations on this recipe out there in blogland and on pinterest and it all comes down to personal preference. So with a little trial and error, maybe a little adjusting here and there, you’ll find what works for you.

I prefer honey or maple syrup as a sweetener but maybe you prefer agave or brown rice syrup.

My husband likes a pinch of cayenne mixed into his and sprinkled on top for good measure. I need a little sea salt on top.

Go with your heart on this one.

 

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

1 large ripe avocado – pitted and roughly chopped

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup vanilla almond milk (gives the pudding the best flavor but you could substitute any milk)

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (I used about 1/8 cup of each)

1/4 tsp cayenne plus a pinch more for the top

 

Just dump all of that in your blender or food processor and blend until it’s perfectly smooth.

Add more honey or maple syrup if you think it needs more sweetness, then cover and let it chill for about thirty minutes. It’s better eaten cold.

You can eat it as is or use it as a dip for fruit, or smear it on a warm tortilla with some thinly sliced strawberries or bananas, or use it as a frosting for cupcakes, and I’m pretty sure that you could make pudding pops out of it.

I’m going to have to try that.

If you’re not a fan of heat, you can leave the cayenne out and add a little instant espresso powder, chocolate chips, peanut butter, or just leave it plain.

You’re probably wondering if you can taste the avocado.

I would be.

If your pudding is nice and chilled and your avocado wasn’t overly ripe, you shouldn’t be able to taste it. Additionally, eat this the day it’s made. If you dig this out of your refrigerator three days after you make it, the avocado will have overwhelmed all of the other flavors and you’ll hate it.

So… don’t do that.

 

 

 

 

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30 Jan

carrot & red lentil soup

Since it’s still January, I feel like we’re still in some sort of resolution-making grace period.

So can we all agree to at least one resolution in 2014?

Good. Here it is…

We’re not going to sacrifice taste for health. We’re going to eat yummy food that is also good for us and we’re going to feel good about it.

I think it’s about time we all got on the same page.

Now, let’s talk carrot soup.

Wait…

I know. Up until I came up with this particular recipe, I had never eaten carrot soup. It just didn’t appeal to me.

Seriously, pureed carrots in broth?

Yeah, no thanks.

What I soon learned was that if you add the right combination of spices and a few lentils for texture, boring carrot soup becomes surprisingly delicious.

And the best part is that you can feel good about eating it.

I mean, carrots are healthy. Everyone knows that.

But we’ve also got turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallot, lentils, and green tea going on in this soup. All good things that taste good too.

Can we pause here and discuss lentils for a bit?

Great. Here’s what you should know: Lentils are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. They’re a good source of protein, iron, phosphorous, copper, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. They also add substance and texture to soups so that you can fill up but won’t fill out.

That’s a win!

It’s still cold outside so soup just seems right.

But let’s pass on the canned stuff for a while and just make our own with fresh ingredients.

It’s so much better for you, and it’s easy. Promise.

Ingredients

3 carrots – peeled and chopped

1 shallot

1 garlic clove – chopped

1/4 cup red lentils

1/4 tsp brown sugar

1/8 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp ginger (freshly grated or powdered)

1/2 tsp salt

1 package Numi Organics Carrot Curry Savory Tea*

Directions

Toss the carrots around with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Roast at 375 for 15-20 minutes until the carrots are tender and caramelized.

Bring 12 ounces of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop in a Carrot Curry flavored tea bag. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to a simmer and add the lentils. Stir occasionally. Cook until the lentils are tender. Turn off the heat, drain, and then dump the lentils back into the pot.

Drizzle a little olive oil into a saute pan over medium-low heat and add the garlic and shallot. Gently saute until tender.

Add the spices and brown sugar to the sautéed garlic and shallot. Stir to coat. Once the spices are toasty and fragrant, kill the heat.

Into your blender, add the carrots, half of the lentils, the sautéed shallot, ginger, spices, and the tea. Blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture back into the pot with the lentils over low heat.

Taste for seasoning and add salt if you need it.

While the soup comes up to a gentle simmer (you’re just making sure the soup is nice and hot at this point), get your garnish ready. I added Greek yogurt and chopped pistachios because that’s what I had but you can obviously add whatever you like to your bowl.

Pour the piping hot soup into a large bowl or two smaller bowls or mugs, top with your garnish of choice (if you want one), and enjoy.

See? Easy.

The soup is already pretty creamy thanks to the blended lentils but if you want a little extra creaminess, you can add heavy cream or yogurt.

*Carrot Curry tea contains: organic carrot, organic curry, organic cilantro, organic onion, organic ginger, organic turmeric, organic decaf green tea.

I realize that some of these spices (turmeric, cumin seed) are not common to most kitchens. The good news is that they are fairly inexpensive. Check the ethnic section of your local grocery store.  That’s where I buy most of my spices. They’re much cheaper but still great quality.

19 Jan

roasted tomato soup

I’m observing National Soup Month / National Hot Tea Month by combining soup and tea… again!

You can’t possibly be surprised at this point.

As long as I have tea in my pantry and veggies in my crisper, I am fully equipped to run this whole soup + tea combo concept right into the ground or at least as far as February when we can recognize other foods on a national level.

I’ve come up with another recipe that is healthy, incredibly easy, full of flavor, and uses just a handful of ingredients.

And just so that I can say that I warned you, this probably won’t be the last one.

I have another soup + tea combo up my sleeve that I can’t wait to share with you.

This recipe makes just enough for a big bowl of soup so it’s perfect for lunch.

It can also be split between two small bowls and eaten as a first course at dinner.

Or you could always pour it into two mugs and stand in your kitchen sipping it while chatting with your significant other on a lazy Sunday.

Just a suggestion.

 

Ingredients

16 oz. Marzano, cherry, or plum tomatoes – I use packaged Marzano tomatoes

1 roasted red pepper – roast your own or use a jarred pepper

10 oz. brewed Numi Organics Tomato Mint Savory Tea*

5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 garlic clove – minced

Balsamic Vinegar

 

Directions

Cut the tomatoes in half vertically and use your thumb to scoop out the seeds and gel. Take this time to contemplate the meaning of life or your to do list for the afternoon.

Toss the tomatoes into a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, a small splash of balsamic vinegar, the garlic, a good sprinkle of sea salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Strip the thyme leaves from their sprigs and add to the tomatoes.

Toss everything together.

Roast at 300 degrees for one hour. You will need to roast longer if you use plum tomatoes. The tomatoes are done when they are shriveled and caramelized but still moist.

Brew the tea according to package directions.

Chop up a roasted red pepper and toss it into a sauce pan along with the tomatoes (be sure to add the juice that has accumulated on the baking sheet), and tea.

If you roasted your own pepper, be sure to scrape off and discard the charred skin before you add it to the soup.

Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for a few minutes so all of the flavors can get to know each other.

Pour the soup (which should still be in a very chunky state) into a blender and give it a whirl until it is very smooth.

Pour the now creamy soup back into the pan and add a sprinkle of sea salt.

Give it a good stir and taste for seasoning.

Pour into a bowl or mug and top with chopped basil, hot chili flakes, shaved parmesan, crumbled bacon, hot sauce, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or a parmesan thyme crisp (recipe below).

I added a few dashes of Worcestershire but I’m an addict. I add it to everything.

I realize that adding Worcestershire might seem odd but since there is no broth or stock in the soup it has a much lighter, gentler flavor so the Worcestershire just gives it a tiny hit of sweetness and acidity that I really like.

Enjoy!

 

Parmesan Thyme Crackers:

Lay a silpat or parchment paper on a baking sheet or spray with non-stick spray.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese onto the baking sheet in a pile and then spread out lightly with your fingers.

Sprinkle thyme and freshly ground black pepper on top.

Bake at 325 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

 

* Numi Organics Tomato Mint Tea contains: organic tomato, organic onion, organic mint, organic lemon peel, organic parsley, organic cinnamon, organic decaf black tea, organic allspice

7 Jan

green tea soup

Not too long ago Numi Organics was offering free samples of their new savory teas online.

I love tea and up until that point, had never had the opportunity to try a savory tea blend so I jumped all over that offer.

About a week after I placed the request, I received a package that contained all six flavors included in their Garden Sampler variety box: Tomato Mint, Spinach Chive, Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice, Broccoli Cilantro, and Beet Cabbage.

All of the blends contain organic vegetables, herbs, spices, decaffeinated black or green tea, and they smell fantastic.

These savory teas would be great if you were under the weather or as part of a cleanse but when my box of savory tea samples arrived in my mailbox, I immediately thought soup.

I think it’s the most obvious route.

I make soup quite often when I need to use up some senior veggies that are past their prime.

It doesn’t hurt that my youngest child loves homemade soup. The canned stuff doesn’t do anything for her but if I put a bowl of my vegetable soup in front of her, that bowl is clean in just a few minutes.

I’ve shared my recipe for vegetable soup before so that’s old news.

This next version is even easier (if you can believe that) because it uses leftover marinara sauce.

Most of us will have a half-empty (or is it half-full?) jar of sauce in our refrigerator at some point.

It will inevitably be shoved in the back and forgotten.

So why not put it to good use and make soup?

I actually made two batches of this soup so that I could try out two different flavors of savory tea.

I went with the Fennel Spice and Spinach Chive flavors.

Both were delicious and each lent its own unique flavor to the soup.

Green tea is such a mild flavor on its own, so it really allows the flavors of the herbs and vegetables to come through.

I know I’ve said it before but this vegetable soup is beyond easy to make.

You don’t even need a recipe.

Just chop up some elderly veg and get it sauteing in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. I used an onion, carrots, celery, and kale.

While this is happening, steep your tea. Just follow the directions on the package.

When your veg has softened, discard the tea bag and add your tea along with 3-4 cups of vegetable stock, a can of diced tomatoes, and some marinara.

How much marinara?

That depends on your broth preference.

If you like a more tomato-flavored broth, add more marinara.

If you like a thinner broth and less tomato flavor, add less marinara.

See, easy.

You really can’t mess this up.

Just let it simmer for a little while until all the flavors come together.

If it needs salt, add it.

If you want oregano or basil or anything else in your herb/spice arsenal, add it.

Easy.

Once everything is nice and hot and the flavors have all mingled and gotten to know one another, you can also add beans and cooked pasta, if you like that sort of thing.

We certainly do.

green tea soup

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

10 Dec

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

I missed the pumpkin extravaganza that was the entire month of November. It was just too warm.

With Christmas being only two weeks away, I should probably be thinking about all things peppermint… and egg nog… and white chocolate, but I’m just not there yet.

Even though we kind of get cheated out of Fall around here, I still crave things like squash, spice, and cider around this time of year.

It’s just hard to get into that mindset when all of the trees are still green, the air conditioning is still running, and people are still wearing shorts and flip-flops.

Still, there was a bag of frozen butternut squash in my freezer that has been taunting me since I bought it back in September. I’m pretty sure that I had big plans for that squash but I never got around to them, thanks to our infamous heat.

So I made us some soup.

It’s basically Fall in a bowl.

It was also incredibly easy to make and it came together quite fast.

Garam Masala is what gives this soup such a fragrant and complex flavor and makes it taste like something much more complicated than it is.

Wait.

If you’ve never had it, don’t be put off.

Garam Masala is just a spice blend that contains things like coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. Spices that give the soup an aromatic warmth and a slightly sweet, almost exotic flavor.

See, not so scary.

It’s one of those things that when you serve it to people, they can never quite put their finger on what it is but they love it.

As he was eating it last night, my husband actually kept saying “It’s squash and beans… why is it so good!?”

Therein lies the beauty of this soup, and most things in life for that matter.

Sometimes, simple is best.

Toss a few simple ingredients into a pot. Warm them up. Blend until smooth.

Nothing scary about that.

 

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 a sweet onion – diced

1 clove of garlic – minced

12 oz bag of frozen diced butternut squash

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1 sprig of fresh thyme

3 cups veggie stock

1 can canellini beans – rinsed and drained

splash of apple cider (optional) – I use the hard stuff

salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

Add a little extra virgin olive oil to a big pot or dutch oven over medium heat.

Add the diced onion and a little salt and pepper.

Cook until the onions are translucent, giving them an occasional stir.

If your onions start getting brown, turn the heat down just a bit. You want your onions to sweat, not brown.

Once the onions have softened, add the garlic and toss it around with the onions for a bit.

Add the whole thyme sprig, squash, and garam masala, and give everything a stir while you rinse and drain the beans.

Now add the stock and increase the heat.

Once the mixture has come up to a bubble, add the beans and reduce to a gentle simmer.

At this point, everything should be cooked, we’re just introducing flavors to each other and letting them become friends.

Remove the thyme sprig and carefully ladle the soup into a blender. Whir it up until it’s silky smooth and creamy.

Pour the soup back into the pot and add a splash of cider.

This is also the time to taste a little and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Now you can ladle it into a mug and sip on the couch or pour into a thermos and drink it on the go.

You can even pour it into a big bowl and top with dried apple and a tiny sprig of fresh thyme if you’re feeling fancy.

If butternut squash isn’t your thing, you can use pumpkin or any other squash you like.