My Fave Soup

Why is it that the best soups always seem to be a pain in the arse to make? Not so in this case, cowboy!

(Cowboy? What?)

This soup has nothing to do with cowboys. It’s hearty enough for a cowboy, though.

Really. I’m not kidding. Yes, it’s a veggie soup. Yes, it’s hearty. Bonus: it’s vegan! And it is incredibly easy to make.

First up: saute some garlic and leeks and/or onions in a little olive oil.

Saute garlic and leeks/onions.

Next, add broccoli, rolled oats (the original kind, not the instant kind), soy milk, and dill. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Broccoli soup in progress

Add salt and pepper to taste, then puree with an immersion blender. Voila!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

So filling. So good.

This recipe works great with asparagus, too. I suspect it would be great with any soup-happy vegetable. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a food processor or blender works too – just let the soup cool a bit before you process it, and make sure to have the steam vent open while blending.

Enjoy a soup-er meal!

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 leek, chopped and 1 small onion, chopped
  • OR
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 6 cups broccoli (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Saute garlic and onions and/or leeks over medium heat in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add broccoli, soy milk, oats, and dill. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Puree with an immersion blender.

4. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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Going Green

So, it’s been about 2 weeks since I ran my last half marathon. That race was the culmination of a whole lot of chaos in my life: moving cross-country, starting a new (and thankfully awesome!) job, going to school for my MFA full time (12 credit hours, yikes!), and of course – another round of long-race training. Needless to say, upon completion of that race, I needed a break – so I took one. I took a break from running, and indulged in some holiday goodies in the form of way too much chocolate and pizza.

The result: I caught my first sickness in 2 years (ugh – still fighting it off), gained 5 pounds, and felt like absolute crap!

While I’m glad I took a break from all things healthy (I needed it mentally more than anything – I’ve been going at this healthy lifestyle thing for 2 years now!), it definitely demonstrated that feeling good is so much more enjoyable than eating junk food. I couldn’t wait till the new year to get back to eating right, so I started the day I got home from the holidays. I started yesterday. (The exercise is going to have to wait until I stop hacking up lungs).

Since my pre-planned junk food binge was pretty extreme (at least relatively speaking), I decided to embark upon a similarly relatively extreme detox: 5 days of only fruits and veggies.

I considered a juice fast, a la Jason Vale (the JuiceMaster), but decided I’d have a much more enjoyable experience with something like Reboot Your Life (a la Joe Cross, the guy that made the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead). I like Jason’s juice recipes more, though, so I’m basically drinking Jason’s juices and eating fruits and veggies as described in Joe’s Reboot Entry program.

So far, so good! I’m on day 2 of 5.

The first day, I was starving… All. The. Time. I was also pretty dehydrated from a week of holiday madness (and wine, ahem), and dehydration feels a lot like hunger, so I probably wasn’t actually hungry for food. Still, I felt like I went to bed hungry (booo).

Ironically, though, when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t hungry at all. I felt good (well, except for this plague of a cold I caught in Chicago over Christmas). I haven’t felt hungry today, and – knock on wood – my body seems to be fighting off this cold.

My basic plan is to:

  • drink juice concoctions and smoothies made with my Breville juicer (including a Vega protein shake each day).
  • eat fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries), green soups, and green salads.
  • drink lots of water and some tea.

Now, that does mean I’m also eating salad dressing. Sorry – I can’t live without my daily giant bowl of greens, and to that end, I can’t live without salad dressing. I also used a dab of olive oil to saute the veggies I used in today’s soup recipe (below). But those are the only non-whole-foods, non-fruit-or-veggie things I’m eating for these 5 days.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to busting out that loaf of bread I baked last week or mashing together a great new veggie burger recipe… but that day will come soon enough, and I’m already feeling the positive effects of this junk food detox. Ahhh, to feel normal again!

In the spirit of going green, here’s the recipe for the soup I had for lunch! Super tasty. I love kale!

Green Veggie Soup

by Shelly

Prep Time: 10

Cook Time: 30

Keywords: soup/stew kale broccoli zucchini garlic

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head broccoli florets
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 4 leaves basil, plus 3 tbsp chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 6 cups water

Instructions

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.

Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add broccoli, basil leaves, zucchini, spinach, salt, and pepper.

Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.

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Pesto Pasta, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Mmm Sauce, & Asparagus

Let the Freezer Eats Begin

I told you it was about to get all crazy up in this hizzouse!

Pesto Pasta, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Mmm Sauce, & Asparagus

Pesto Pasta, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Mmm Sauce, & Asparagus

Ha!

You’re like, what the heck is that?!

Eatin’ good in the freezer-hood, my friends!

Gotta. Empty. Freezer. Can’t. Waste. Food.

(No worries – what I don’t eat or take with me will be bequeathed upon family members’ freezers).

It all started with a bag of frozen asparagus spears. I don’t even remember buying them, but when I saw the bag, I thought, “Genius! Frozen asparagus spears! Like, in spear form!” Too bad I didn’t realize they existed sooner. I could’ve eaten them when my fresh asparagus went limp way too soon last week.

So, I steamed that frozen asparagus (5 minutes in the micro – will probably go 5:30 next time), and coated it in my current obsession, Perfect Pinch veggie seasoning.

Then, I decided to make another batch of pesto. (I’m obsessed. What can I say?). Made the pesto, then realized I did not have the ingredients on hand to make my favorite Pesto Veggie sandwich.

Heavens, no! What would I do?!

OK. Change of plans. What’s in the fridge? I went for a big ol’ salad to use up the rest of my leftover spicy roasted chickpeas, and then realized I was out of salad greens. Well, heck. I need more greens!

I’ve got pesto. I’ve got asparagus. What can I do with pesto and asparagus?

I hobbled together an idea: in honor of the release of Mama Pea’s new cookbook (Peas and Thank You, which had just arrived at my door), I would try a recipe from her web site that I’d been meaning to make forever: Mmm Sauce. I’d mix that with the rest of my spicy roasted chickpeas, mix in some pasta and pesto, and throw some steamed broccoli in there. (I was too lazy to roast or grill anything – my preferred veggie cooking methods).

I got to work making Mmm sauce, only to realize I didn’t have the right spices on hand. Instead, I used oregano and basil and parsley. Italian Mmm sauce? I guess so!

So that, my friends, is what you’re looking at in the photo above. Frozen asparagus, steamed, with veggie seasoning. Whole wheat pasta topped with pesto. Steamed broccoli with chickpeas and Mmm sauce.

A weird plate – yes. But it was pretty darn tasty! So much so that I just had it again for lunch….

Stay tuned for more adventures in freezer eats!

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

A Vegan Alfredo Attempt

What do you think of when you think of alfredo sauce? If I had to come up with 3 descriptors, they’d probably be:

  • Creamy
  • Rich
  • Buttery

Traversing through my collection of vegan cookbooks, I’ve managed to pull together some pretty good creamy vegan sauces. But pulling off rich and buttery in a vegan dish? It’s a bit more difficult – especially if you’re trying to do it without the help of vegan margarine or Daiya miracle-cheese.

So when I came across this recipe for Potato Alfredo Pasta, I knew I had to try it. The secret ingredient: potato flakes. (Not the crap-loaded ones of my youth – I was super-excited to read the ingredient list on the Whole Foods 365 brand of instant potatoes. It reads: dehydrated potatoes. End of story. Yes!) Cannellini beans might also be considered a secret ingredient. (Did you know that they’re really just white kidney beans? I did not).

I stuck to the recipe faithfully, opting to use soy milk for the entire liquid portion (instead of half milk/half creamer). This recipe made a TON of sauce – enough for the 4 servings of pasta I made, plus about 1 cup left over.

I had trouble getting the sauce down to the consistency pictured in the original recipe. I added a good half cup extra of soy milk, but it was still very thick (and I ran out of room in my food processor to add any more).

Vegan Potato Alfredo Pasta

Vegan Potato Alfredo Pasta

The real question: did it fool my taste buds into thinking I was eating a dairy-based alfredo?

Hmm. Well, not really. Maybe I’m too close to the last time I ate alfredo (probably within a year), so I remember the flavor too well.

That’s not to say it was bad. It was tasty – definitely flavorful, approaching “rich.” Definitely creamy. Not my favorite sauce on the planet, but certainly a “keeper” in the recipe box.

As I was eating this dish, I was thinking about food expectations. Does this dish have to taste like the pasta alfredo of my youth to give me the same sense of comfort?

I decided that it does not. The key to my food memories with this dish is the ooey, gooey factor. This Potato Alfredo was ooey gooey, and had the familiar comforting factor of pasta, and tasted “Italian.” It made it to the right ballpark, and as such, hit the spot.

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

Broccoli played the supporting role to this dish, and I went a little nuts with the whole vegan cheese theme. I made up a batch of Isa’s Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction. Nooch-based vegan cheeze sauces are kind of like a rite of passage. You’re just not cool until you have a favorite nooch-cheeze. (Nooch = nutritional yeast). I like this one! Again – I think it’s just the comfort of drenching veggies in an ooey, gooey sauce that brings the love.

Broccoli and Easy Breezy Cheeze Sauce

Broccoli and Easy Breezy Cheeze Sauce

Yeah, it looks like Cheez-Whiz – but that’s not entirely a bad thing. I recall many an afternoon chowing down on tortilla chips and Cheez-Whiz as a kid. Gawd, I don’t even want to imagine the ingredient list on that stuff. Still, good memories.

So, I’d give this dinner 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Maybe a little closer to 4 stars, but not quite there. I’ll eat the leftovers, and I’ll likely make it again someday.

However, I am still in search of the perfect vegan alfredo sauce. I suspect it is just going to have to include Daiya and Earth Balance. We’ll see.

 

Real Food FTW!

Food, real food!

black bean burgerDinner consisted of black bean veggie burgers – a concoction from Emily over at The Front Burner, topped with a roasted red pepper pesto and spicy dill pickles, roasted broccoli, and roasted garlic potatoes.

The other day, when I was making the roasted potatoes with the last of my bag of ‘taters, I threw a red pepper in the oven with it. I found the perfect use for that pepper today – I made roasted red pepper pesto, loosely based on a recipe from Brendan Frazier’s Thrive book. It included 1 roasted red pepper, some basil, a couple tbsp of nutritional yeast, some sesame seeds, a tbsp of hemp oil, and a pinch of salt. I think that was it! Very tasty.

The spicy dill pickles were a farmers’ market find.

black bean burgerThe burgers were very easy to make – throw some raw oats, black beans, pumpkin seeds, and spices into the food processor, then form into patties and bake! I plan to experiment with some different spices. This burger was very savory and really didn’t need any toppings – it was that good!

broccoliThis was the first time I ever roasted broccoli. I tossed it with some olive oil and salt and pepper and stuck it in the oven with the burgers. It turned out to be the best broccoli I’ve ever had! Steamed broccoli seems flavorless to me, and raw broccoli just isn’t my favorite thing in the world. But roasting it gave it a really subtle, delicious flavor. So good!

The roasted garlic potatoes were the splurge of the plate 🙂

Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment: Prep

*queue Mission Impossible music*

Actually, I think this mission is quite possible! I am embarking upon what I call the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment. You are about to bear witness to Phase 1: Prep.

It all started when my sister in law Amanda suggested that I check out this book: Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife). Since I was already sold on the possibility of hiding veggies in my smoothies, I thought this book might hold some promise (though I’d be attempting to deceive myself, not kids). I picked it up at my local library (Homer Township Library ftw!) and decided to give it a test-drive.Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

The basic premise of the book is that you puree a variety of vegetables and store them in 1/2 cup portions in little ziplock baggies, then sneak them into recipes as needed. Sounds good to me!