Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

This recipe is a take on Ina’s Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup.  When you eat this soup, it feels like eating a big cozy bowl of chicken noodle soup or mashed potatoes.  It’s full of vitamins, especially Vitamin A, which is good for your skin, hair, and nails.  It’s seriously low in fat and high in fiber.  You can easily make this vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  It’s also gluten free and elimination diet friendly.

I love making a big batch of this and eating it throughout the week.  It freezes well, too.  I don’t give a specific amount of the chicken broth because I think it’s best to add it gradually until it’s the consistency you like.

Ina always recommends making your own chicken stock, but I have never done that.  I don’t want to say never, but I don’t really see myself doing that.  I always buy chicken base—similar to bouillon, but it’s a powder.  For this soup, I put water in my tea kettle.  I put the ratio of 2 teaspoons of powdered base per cup of water.  When the water boils, I pour it over the base into a glass measuring cup.  That way the base dissolves completely, and you can mix hot broth with hot vegetables.  

Total Time:  90 minutes15966111_412154012456574_7851803339849164156_n.jpg

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash

2 sweet potatoes

1 pound of carrots

Olive oil spray

Salt and pepper

8 cups of chicken broth

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel, seed, and dice the butternut squash into bite sized pieces. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and carrots (all about 1 inch dice).
  3. Spray sheet pans with olive oil spray. Arrange the vegetables on the tray.  Spray with more olive oil, and sprinkle with salt in pepper.
  4. Cook the vegetables in batches. For each batch cook for 40-50 minutes.  Take them out and turn them halfway through.
  5. Add the vegetables in batches to a food processor. Puree the vegetables on their own for a minute or two so the broth won’t splash up when you add it.  Add chicken broth, and puree until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Serve on its own, or with croutons or crusty bread and a dash of olive oil and cracked pepper.

(inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe)

 


Spiced Pear + Coconut Oats

Spiced Pear + Coconut Oats

(vegan, gluten free, elimination diet-friendly)

This is not turning into a health food or vegan blog.  I love cookies and cheese way too much. However, you may have noticed I’ve done a few healthy recipes lately, including Grain Bowl Basics and Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Cups.  I actually do eat really healthy most of the time, but I don’t like to say a certain food group is totally off-limits.  Even as a write this, I’m thinking about the Turkish Delights I’ll be making in a few days for another post.  I try not to eat too much junk, white carbs, red meat, etc.  Over the holidays, though, I gained about 7 pounds back of the 20 I’d lost!  But with just about a week of healthy eating, I’ve already lost 4 of them.  It’s not too hard, but it does take discipline, and I know it’s a lot easier to catch myself now than it would be to wait until I’d gained 10 more pounds.  So there’s that.
There’s also me reading about and preparing for the Elimination Diet to see what is giving me stomach troubles (I talked a little more about the Elimination Diet in the last 2 posts).  The Grain Bowls, Chia Puddings, and this oatmeal are all Elimination Diet-friendly.  Certain things, like the chocolate shavings on the pudding or the grape tomatoes in the grain bowls are not, but I really did those more for the camera.  You can always add those to your food of course, but it won’t be Elimination Diet-friendly. 

I never realized that oats weren’t gluten-free on their own.  I figured that because it was just oats, it was naturally gluten-free.  To do the Elimination Diet, I only had to get a few things at Whole Foods, but most of it is available at any grocery store these days.  I did get some gluten-free quick cooking oats (by Red Mill), some unrefined coconut sugar, white quinoa, almond butter plus some red lentil and chickpea pastas all at WF, but that’s about it.  The reason I got the quinoa and almond butter there is because I like WF’s generic brand 365 Everyday Value.  I think the quality and price are both better than at a regular grocery store.

I added some ground flax to the oatmeal too.  I order it from Amazon in whole seeds and grind it up in one of these.  Once it’s ground, I store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.  Flax seeds are full of Omega-3 fats (great for brain function and also found in foods like salmon and eggs).  One tablespoon of ground flax has 37 calories, 3 grams of fat, 57 grams of potassium, 2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. 

So here’s my take on a gluten-free, nutrition-packed, vegan, Elimination Diet-friendly –yet still warm and satisfying –oatmeal breakfast.

Total Time:  15 Minute1.jpg

Serves:  1

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Ingredients

2/3 cup water

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 pinch of salt

½ cup gluten free quick cooking oats

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 fresh diced pear (shown sliced only for photographic purposes)

1 ½ teaspoon coconut oil

Toasted Coconut (see below)

Directions

  1. Bring the water, coconut, and salt to a gentle boil.
  2. Add the oats, flax, cinnamon, and ginger, and reduce heat.
  3. Once the oats have begun to absorb the liquid, add the diced pear.
  4. Turn off the heat, and stir in the coconut oil.
  5. Top with toasted coconut.

For the toasted coconut, you’ll need:

A handful of unsweetened flaked coconut

Directions

  1. On a toaster oven-sized sheet pan, add a handful of unsweetened flaked coconut.
  2. Place it in a toaster oven, and turn on.
  3. Watch it carefully for 2-3 minutes and pull out of the oven just as it starts to brown.

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Cups

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Cups

This recipe is another during my Elimination Diet. I’m writing this the day before I start the diet…I had plans to take pictures this morning, but the fog is so dense, I’m afraid I won’t get any good ones.  The reason I’m trying the Elimination Diet is because I get a lot of stomach irritation, and I’m curious to see if there’s any one food group that’s affecting me. 

The Elimination Diet is no dairy, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, nightshades, white carbs, beef, pork, shellfish, processed food, soy, peanuts, eggs, and certain fruits like grapes and bananas.  It’s pretty extensive, but not exhaustive.  You can still have meat, most vegetables, and non-white non-gluten carbs. 

I made a similar pudding last year, but with regular cow’s milk.  I tasted this version along the way and adjusted the flavors to get it as rich-tasting as possible.  Just because you’re on a special diet doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to feel indulgent.  This recipe makes four 8 ounce portions, and each portion has about 260 calories if you follow my recipe exactly.  These are vegan free, gluten free, and Elimination Diet-friendly.  The puddings set up in 6 hours and will keep for about 5 days. 

Chia seeds are interesting little things, aren’t they?  Remember back in the 90s, Chia Pets?  It’s the same thing, except this time, we’re eating them.  Each serving of this pudding has 3 tablespoons of chia seeds.  The seeds are what helps the pudding become pudding.  For every 3 tablespoons, there are 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 180 mg of potassium, 15 grams of fiber (!), NO SUGAR, 9 grams of protein, plus 24% of your daily Vitamin A and 18% of your daily Iron needs.  Pretty impressive.

When I made these last year, I stored them in glasses with plastic wrap, but that was before I got my half pint mason jars.  I keep finding new reasons to love and accumulate mason jars.  I started using them for salads, but have since used them for homemade beauty products, salad dressings, and now for these puddings.  It’s homemade portable pudding cups tailored exactly to your specifications.  Plus– they’re spill-proof. 

You can top them with anything you like—I suggest toasted unsweetened coconut, almonds, fresh mint, or chocolate shavings (though chocolate shavings are not vegan or Elimination Diet-friendly).

 

Total Time:  6 hours, 15 minutes (hands-on time 15 minutes)

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Serves: 4best

 

Ingredients

3 cups of cold unsweetened coconut milk

3 tablespoons of unrefined coconut sugar

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

12 tablespoons of chia seeds

toasted coconut

  1. Add the coconut milk to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sift the unrefined coconut sugar and cocoa powder together to remove any lumps. Add them to the milk.
  3. Add the chia seeds to the milk mixture.
  4. Use a whisk to mix everything together thoroughly.
  5. Using 4 half pint (8 ounce) mason jars, add the mixture evenly to each jar.
  6. Put the lids on the jars, and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
  7. Garnish with toasted coconut, mint, almonds, or chocolate shavings (non-vegan, not Elimination Diet-friendly). Puddings will last about 5 days in the fridge.

 

 

For the toasted coconut, you’ll need:

A handful of unsweetened flaked coconut

 

Directions

  1. On a toaster oven-sized sheet pan, add a handful of unsweetened flaked coconut.
  2. Place it in a toaster oven, and turn on.
  3. Watch it carefully for 2-3 minutes and pull out of the oven just as it starts to brown.

 

 

 


Grain Bowl Basics

Grain Bowl Basics

I think I mentioned this in another entry, but grain bowls and mason jar salads are what inspired me to start a blog in the first place.  It was right after the New Year in 2015, and I fixated on making both of these things.  I think I covered mason jar salads pretty thoroughly over 2 different posts (though my pictures could use some updating).  But I never got around to grain bowl basics until now (I first saw these “Health Bowls” in an old Real Simple issue.)  

Another new year, another reason to start fresh.  This year I’m planning to do a 10 Day Elimination Diet—not for weight loss, but because my stomach has been irritated a lot lately, and I’m curious if it’s because of certain types of foods.  I’m no expert, and I haven’t even started yet.  (As I write this, it’s New Year’s Eve.  I told my family I will not start this until everyone is back in school and at work because I don’t want to punish everyone by not having caffeine in the mornings if they’re all here). 

You may already know what an Elimination Diet is, and usually it is supposed to last for a month or so.  But I’m not sure I’m ready for that.  Instead I’m trying 10 days, and I’ll gauge it from there.  There is a long list of food types to avoid—types that can cause stomach irritation.  After you’ve done a week or more on an elimination diet, you’ve kind of given your digestive tract a restart, and then you slowly add back one food group at a time to see how you feel.  It doesn’t determine allergies, just sensitivities.  I’d like to know what I’m eating that’s making my stomach act funky. 

Some of the types of food you cannot eat include caffeine, alcohol (obviously), beef, pork, raw fish, shellfish, nightshades (like eggplant and tomatoes), white potatoes, soy, gluten, certain fruits like bananas and grapes, peanuts, dairy, and eggs.  It sounds like a lot!  But I decided to look at it as what I can eat:  chicken, fin fish, rice, gluten free oats, lentils, quinoa, sweet potatoes, lots of vegetables, lots of fruits like apples and pears, olive and coconut oil, every type of nut except for peanuts, tea, most herbs, almond milk and coconut milk, vinegars, even cocoa powder.  When I look at it this way, I think…hmmm, what can I make?  I have a lot of ideas coming very soon!

11111

Brown rice, chili and cinnamon roasted acorn squash, purple cabbage, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, avocado, hummus, and sesame seeds

Immediately I think of grain bowls.  My family likes grain bowls, and while I’m certainly not asking them to do this diet with me, it will be nice to make things we can all enjoy.  A grain bowl starts with a bed of grain– any kind you like.  For me, it’s usually Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice or Quinoa.  After that, I pick a type of protein like beans (if I’m doing vegan), or salmon or chicken if not.  I almost always add sweet potatoes, seasoned and roasted.  Then a few raw veggies and cooked veggies (for contrast), something rich like olives or avocado, some herbs, and a dollop of hummus in the middle.  I think of it as a salad, but the base is a grain instead of a lettuce.  From here on, I’ll just list some options, and let you go to work and become inspired.

 

Total Time:  10 Minutes plus time to cook any veggies or grains

Serves:  1

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

  • Grains (Pick 1): brown rice, barley, quinoa, oats, farro
  • Proteins (Pick 1): Egg, chicken, salmon, tuna, cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils
  • Cooked Veggies (Pick 2-3): roasted sweet potatoes, roasted acorn squash, roasted red pepper, steamed mushrooms, blanched asparagus, shelled edamame, roasted kale, blanched broccoli florets
  • Raw Veggies (Pick 2-3): diced cucumber, scallions, sliced radishes, shredded carrots, shaved Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, purple cabbage, grape tomatoes
  • Something Rich (Pick 1-2): olives, avocado, feta, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • Herbs (Pick 1-2): basil, parsley, chives, cilantro
  • Extra Flavor (Pick 1): hummus, pesto, chimichurri, Greek yogurt, tahini, tzatziki, olive oil and vinegar

 

Directions

Assemble your meal in a large, shallow bowl.  Start with the grain, and then layer the different vegetables and toppings.  In the center of the bowl, add dressing or hummus.