Tag Archives: vegetarian
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.

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20 Jan

pb&j smoothie

 

Let me just say first that there is no jelly or bread in this smoothie.

Because that would be gross.

But it tastes just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Crazy right?

And it’s good for you.

If you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you will love this.

Promise.

I’ve been making this smoothie for a while but just recently figured out how to make it correctly.

Lemme explain…

Up until recently, I was pretty much just dumping everything into my blender and letting it whirl around for several minutes until everything was blended.

The problem was that the oats never really blended up.

I never minded chewing an oat here and there while I was drinking my smoothie but I knew there had to be a better way.

There is.

Now, I toss my oats in first along with the wheat germ and pulse until they’re powdery and super fine. Then I add everything else and blend again.

This one maneuver has completely changed my life.

Okay, so it didn’t really change my life but it sure made this particular smoothie better.

pb&j smoothie

If you want the flavor of the smoothie to be as close as possible to a pb&j sandwich, use frozen strawberries.

FYI: Dark purple blueberries + bright green spinach = gray smoothies.

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

Because it’s probably cold where you are…

13 Jan

tomato tortellini soup

 

Polar Vortex.

Destined to be my favorite phrase of 2014.

I know we’re only a few days into the new year but I have heard that phrase more times that I can count and it’s equally ridiculous to me every time I hear it.

I’m betting that most of you that were seriously in the grasp of the Polar Vortex don’t find it so funny.

The Polar Vortex made things mighty uncomfortable for us Floridians for about three whole days.

People lose their minds here when the temperature drops below 60 degrees so I’m sure you can imagine the situation here when we were experiencing temps in the 30’s and 40’s.

The humanity.

Nevertheless, we survived the blustery, unforgiving, 3-day long winter of 2014 with our sanity mostly intact.

But because it’s still pretty cold for most of you guys right now, I think soup just feels right.

I know, I know. We just talked about soup a few days ago.

Well, get ready because this is happening.

We’re also using marinara again because it makes things so much easier.

This soup isn’t vegan or gluten free or dairy free or fat free.

It is meat free so there’s that. Hey vegetarians!

And I make no apologies because what it is is hearty, creamy, and just plain good which is just what you need when it is ridiculously cold outside.

Sure. You can certainly make your own marinara from scratch and if you have the time, I whole-heartedly encourage you to do so.

However, using a good quality jarred marinara is so much easier and comes already seasoned. It’s also less expensive than buying all of the ingredients you’ll need to make marinara from scratch if you don’t already have them lying around your kitchen.

What do I mean by good quality?

Well, the next time you go shopping for marinara and spot one that looks promising, go ahead and flip that jar over and look at the ingredient list on the back. Check for things like high fructose corn syrup, natural flavors, lots of sodium and/or sugar, yeast extract, and soy bean oil.

Do you see any of those things?

No? Great! That jar goes home with you.

Yes? Put that jar right back on the shelf.

Why?

Let’s look at it this way… if you were making your own marinara at home, would you add any of those things?

No. No you wouldn’t. So you don’t need them in a jarred sauce.

Moving on.

You’ll notice (eventually) that this recipe calls for cream cheese. I realize this seems weird.

I thought it might be weird too until I found myself without heavy cream and just tried it.

If the idea of cream cheese in soup is too much for you, you can always leave it out and just add a good splash of heavy cream instead.

Do what feels right to you.

Adding the cream cheese gives the soup a flavor that is eerily similar to that tomato soup that comes in a red and white can that we all grew up dipping our grilled cheese sandwiches into.

So if you’re into that, stick with the cream cheese.

Ingredients

24-26 oz Jar of marinara – or equivalent amount of the homemade stuff

4 cups of vegetable stock

6 oz. room temperature cream cheese (not low fat)

8 oz. mushrooms (approx.) – chopped or quartered

1 bag fresh spinach – chopped

1 bag frozen tortellini

Directions

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil into a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add the mushrooms.

While the mushrooms saute, add the room-temperature cream cheese to your blender along with 2 cups of stock and blend it up until it is completely smooth. No specks of white should appear.

Pour the cream cheese/stock mixture over the mushrooms along with the remaining 2 cups of stock and the marinara and bring to a simmer.

While the soup simmers, cook tortellini according to package directions.

I prefer to cook pasta separately and then add it to my soup just before serving. Otherwise it just gets too mushy.

However, if you are feeding a crowd, go ahead and cook the tortellini right in the soup.

Once your tortellini has finished cooking, add your chopped spinach. Adding the spinach right at the end will keep it crisp and bright green.

If you opted to use heavy cream instead of cream cheese, now would be the time to add it along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and taste to make sure the seasoning is just right.

To serve, add some tortellini to the bottom of each bowl and just pour the soup over.

Garnish with shredded or shaved parmesan, chopped basil, red chili flakes, whatever you want.

Enjoy!

Daily Bento

8 Jan

Lunch is in our Yumbox today.

Cam has some itty bitty saltines and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge, sweet pepper rings, strawberries, yogurt, a Babybel, and a few dark chocolate covered almonds.

 

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

24 Jun

super greens smoothie

On any given day, if you search the internet for a “green smoothie”, you will undoubtedly find endless variations of just that, green smoothies.

However, I want to let you in on a little secret…

Ready?

You can add spinach to pretty much any smoothie that contains berries and/or pineapple and as long as you blend it long enough, you will not taste it.

Promise.

There are no recipes to follow and you don’t need to get any measuring cups out.

Just get a handful of fresh or frozen spinach and throw it in.

For realsies.

Spinach in smoothies is all well and good but what I really want to tell you about is how to take it a step further and add kale.

Yes, I’m serious.

Kale is good for you. Super good.

Here’s a helpful graphic:

Isn’t it large and informative?

Here’s another graphic just in case you weren’t swayed by the last one:

I drink this smoothie several times per week. I just feel better when I do and I can also see a noticeable improvement in my skin and energy level.

It’s also husband and super picky teenager approved because it tastes like peanut butter and banana – not greens. If that means anything to you.

I used to use fresh kale and just cut the leaves off of the stem. But I recently discovered bagged organic kale at my grocery store for less than $4, so that goes into my cart every week and then right into the freezer when I get home. For this smoothie you can use fresh or frozen greens.

You’ll notice that there are no measurements when it comes to the greens so it’s customizable to your taste. Add as much or as little as you like.

I put two good handfuls of kale and about half a bag of spinach in my smoothie. If it’s too thick, I add a little more almond milk.

It’s a smoothie. It should be simple.

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana – peel and slice a few and store in a resealable freezer bag

1 Tbsp natural peanut butter

1/4 – 1/2 cup yogurt

1 – 1 1/2 cup milk (I use almond milk)

spinach

kale

Just toss all that goodness into your blender and let it whirl for at least a couple of minutes. That gives everything enough time to get thoroughly chopped and blended. Makes for a much tastier smoothie.

If you want more peanut butter flavor, add more peanut butter.

Want a thicker smoothie? Add more banana or yogurt.

Too thick? Add a little more milk.

Now that you’re putting kale in your smoothies, why not take it a step further and put it in rice, couscous, pasta, meatballs, sauces, soups, and mashed potatoes!

Chop it up, saute it in extra virgin olive oil with garlic and a little sea salt until tender and mix it into mashed potatoes. Then top a shepard’s pie with it! I’ve done it – you should too!


* Makes 1 large or two regular sized smoothies.