Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lentil and Black Bean Soup

When I make soup I never go small.  If you're going to start chopping vegetables why not make it big and freeze some for another meal.  Two birds with one stone so to speak.  Plus soups and stews are two of my favorite things ever, so I want lots!  This soup is homey, a bit spicy and comforting, perfect for a fall or winter night. If you must, cut the recipe in half and you will still have enough for lunch the next day. :)  Get to chopping!

 Lentil and Black Bean Soup

2 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
5 carrots, sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 1/2 cups lentils
2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 T tamari
1 T cumin
2 t oregano
2 t parsley
2 t smoked paprika
1 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne 
8 c vegetable broth
2 lg handfuls chopped kale
sea salt and black pepper

In a  large pot heat oil over medium heat cook onion until translusent, add the celery and carrots and saute for a few minutes.  They will just start to get soft. Add everything but the kale.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Raise the heat and bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for a half hour or so, vegetables and lentils will be tender.  Add the kale and cook for a couple more minutes until the kale wilts nicely.  Taste and season again if needed.  Serve with a dollop of soy yogurt.

*Frozen or fresh corn would be great in this soup also, I just didn't have any. 

Fresh Delicious Liquid Sweetener (Date Syrup)

You can use this syrup in place of honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, or agave.

Date Syrup Two Ways

3 cups pitted dates
4 1/2 cups water

Place water and dates in a medium pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 30 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally and squishing dates with the back of the spoon.  The harder and dryer the dates were to start the longer the cooking time.  They should turn to mush.  You choose how you would like to finish your syrup.  The second way yields a more traditional syrup where the first is more similar to a syrupy puree.

1.  You may use an immersion blender to blend until very smooth or wait until the mixtures cools and pour into a blender and blend until very smooth.  Either way, if you are unable to get a completely smooth texture pour it though a strainer.  Store, covered in the fridge. 

2.  Or, after the cooking time, pour the mixture into a cheesecloth lined strainer placed over a bowl.  Use a spoon to force as much liquid into the bowl as possible.  Fold the cheesecloth over the mixture and place something heavy on top of it for an hour to get out everybit of liquid.  When it is cool enough to handle use your hands to squeeze out every last drop.  Place liquid in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about a half hour, stirring often.  The mixture will reduce down to a cup or a little less.  It will thicken as it cools.  Store in the fridge.  The flavor reminds me of caramel.

The flavor sort of reminds me of caramel.  Delicious. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup and Italian Bread

This is my kind of meal.  Hot, hearty and oh so comforting.  If you must live in Maine in the winter you deserve to eat like this all the time! 
 Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped 
2 large carrots, chopped
3 c or 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed 
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 c acini di pepe
8 to 10 cups chopped kale
4 c water + 4 c vegetable broth
1 t each dried rosemary, thyme, oregano
1 bay leaf
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes, beans, pasta, water and broth  to the pot.  Stir, taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the kale and continue cooking until kale is tender.  Serve hot with crusty bread. 

                                                                  Week Night Italian Bread 

2 1/2  to 3 c all purpose flour + 1 T vital wheat gluten
1 c warm water
1 packet or 2 1/2 t active dry yeast
1 t salt
1 t sugar or maple syrup
2 T olive oil

Combine 2 1/2 cup flour combined with the vwg, add remaining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add water and oil and mix well. Use hands and knead for at least 10 minutes adding more flour as necessary to keep from sticking, dough should be smooth and elastic. Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and let stand 10 minutes.  While waiting for it to rest preheat your oven to 400f. Form dough into a loaf. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cut few slashes in the top with a sharp knife . Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, it sound hollow when you knock on the bottom. Serve warm with soup. 

Anti-Inflammatory Chai (Golden Milk)

Golden (Turmeric) Milk is the perfect bedtime beverage. It is comforting, healing, anti-inflammatory and tastes delicious. Turmeric reduces the joint pain of arthritis as well as an over the counter pain reliever, it reduces swelling, and can be used to prevent many types of cancer. Traditionally it has been used to treat colds, congestion, sore throats, and headaches. It has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to treat depression. Turmeric may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it also may slow the help to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis. Use topically turmeric has been used to treat psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, acne and dark circles under the eyes and even to whiten teeth. You could call it a one stop medicine chest in your kitchen cupboard! My husband and I both suffer from joint pain and a while ago started drinking golden milk on a regular basis. I must say, I love the stuff. The difference when I drink it and when I don't is huge. It's a very pleasant thing to drink in evening as we're settling in for the night. Try it, you will be happy you did.

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and it has a relatively low bio-availability rate, meaning it doesn't absorb well and is rapidly metabolized.  The main reason behind the non-availability of curcumin in body for regular users is due to its low solubility in water. In order to improve the bio-availability we can add black pepper and coconut oil, which due to the bioperine in the pepper and the fat in coconut oil allows much more of  the curcumin to be  absorbed by the body.

First you'll need to make the turmeric paste.  Once you make this you will be able to keep it in the fridge and it will last three weeks or so.  

Turmeric Paste

1/2 cup water - adding more to keep to a smooth paste consistency
1/4 turmeric

Add water to small saucepan over medium heat.  Add turmeric and stir to form a paste.  Continue cooking and stirring, adding additional water as needed to keep it a nice smooth paste, for 7 to 9 minutes.  Remove from stove, let cool and store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator. 

Add 1 teaspoon or less of paste to a cup of almond milk, mix and heat, sweeten if desired.  Add a bit of coconut oil and a bit of black pepper for bio-availability..or better yet, instead of plain black pepper add  1 teaspoon of chai spices for a delicious Golden Chai Latte!  

Chai Mix

1 T cinnamon
1 T nutmeg
1 T cardamon
1 T ginger
1 T basil ( use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind to a fine powder)
1 T black pepper
1 t cloves

Mix all spices together.  Use one teaspoon per cup.  Store the remainder in a jar for 18 cups of chai. 

You can add this paste to many other things besides almond milk, examples - oatmeal. smoothies, cookie or cake batter, pancakes, tofu scramble, etc.  You're only limited by your imagination.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Okara Burgers

It's been such a long time since I've updated this blog.  As part of my new year intentions I've stop going to facebook for the month of January, perhaps longer if it suits me, but I've also decided to try and post more regularly here.  I still cook and bake so why not write about it?  I think sometimes we just get out of the habit of things...and sometimes pick up some habits we should let go.  January is the time when we naturally reflect on these sorts of things I guess.  Time to be better, more organized, fitter and smarter people.  Haha, in a perfect world maybe.  I just want to be healthy and happy and be around others that feel the same way. 

Time to post some recipes too I think.  I've been making my own soy milk lately and one of the by products of the process is okara . Okara can be used in burgers, breads, cakes and muffins.  I've been experimenting with great results.  My very first attempt at making something with okara was a slightly modified recipe from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen site.  I'm sure her recipe with no modifications was absolutely wonderful but I always adapt to what's in my kitchen and what I like.  ;) They were fabulous! 


Okara Burgers
(adapted from this Okara Crab Cake recipe)

1 large stalk celery, finely chopped              
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1/2 orange or red pepper, finely chopped
2 cups okara
1/2 cup old fashion oats
2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup cornmeal

I threw all of the vegetables in the food processor and pulsed until everything was finely chopped.  Feel free to do it by hand for a more meditative experience.  :)
Saute in a nonstick skillet until softened, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine okara, vegetable, oats, and Old Bay.  Mix well and set aside to rest for 10 minutes or so.  I took the time to wash the dishes so mine set for much longer then 10 minutes and was a great consistency.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Using a 1/4 measuring cup make about 12 to 16 patties. Very gently coat the patty with cornmeal.
Gently place the cornmeal coated burgers on a  baking sheet that's been sprayed with oil.  Bake 15 minutes. Carefully flip and bake for another 20 minutes. They should be golden and crispy on the outside. 

These go well with all sorts of condiments.  Tarter sauce, ranch dressing, ketchup, mustard, you name it and it tastes great!  I served them with a big green salad and sweet potato fries.  So good!  Thank you Susan for your great inspiration! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy Monday!

My loving advice for this glorious Monday - 

Stop comparing yourself to others, and focus instead on what you're grateful for.

Eat plants, walk lightly and love boundlessly! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Latest Elephant Journal Article

Waking up to the Practice of Yoga. ~ Tammy Foley

meditate morning yoga mat window

The practice of yoga keeps us present; in our bodies; and able to cope with things that may have seemed previously unmanageable.

In today’s world, between conference calls, texting, voicemails, emails, and social media, we can be (and are most likely) hooked to technology 24/7. In all likelihood, many of us  are still connected on our days off and even during vacations.
We multitask because there aren’t enough hours in the day to get what we need accomplished. We are rarely, if ever, actually present, in the moment or in our bodies.
The practice of yoga is healing for mind, body and spirit. When we take the time for yoga daily, we’re simultaneously taking care of our physical, emotional and spiritual health. We’re giving ourselves over to something beyond our ego. There is no competition. No judgment.
As I practice yoga, my breath becomes a tool to calm, reflect, and respond. Yoga allows me to just be.
Getting up and beginning a yoga practice first thing in the morning (or at least very shortly after rising) is an effective way to be calmer; more productive; less stressed; and even more loving and compassionate throughout our day.
Studies show that it takes 21 days to start or break a habit. Why not start a habit that is good for you in all ways? A one hour yoga class is only four and a half percent of your day.

to continue reading the article click here  - Elephant Journal
Photo:  kahala/Flickr