Monday, January 14, 2013

Cinnamon Lentil Soup for Dad + Low Iodine Diet

I am a firm believer that the broth makes the soup. If you use broth from a can or carton, your soup will not taste nearly as good as it will with a broth you made at home. Making broth at home costs a fraction of the price, too (provided you keep a well-stocked pantry). When I am not making my own broth from scratch, I use Better than Bouillon brand No-Chicken base or their reduced-sodium vegetable base. Both of the bottles list salt as an ingredient. As many of you know, as of today, my dad has to follow a strict low-iodine diet to prepare for his iodine radiation treatment. It's the final step to combat his thyroid cancer. This does not mean he cannot have salt - he can have all the salt he wants, just so long as it is not iodized or from the sea. Therein lies the problem with processed food - you never know whether the manufacturer has used iodized salt or sea salt! So, I created this tasty soup completely from scratch just for him.

Cinnamon Lentil Soup

2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed
8-9 cups garlic cinnamon broth (recipe follows)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced, plus some of the carrot chunks from the broth
1 stalk celery, chopped
mushrooms from the garlic cinnamon broth
1 bay leaf
1.5 teaspoons coriander (if using seeds grind them up in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 grinds of a black pepper mill
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 large handfuls spinach
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a soup pot, except for the last three, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about an hour or until the lentils are tender. Turn off the heat and add the spinach, balsamic, and salt to taste.

Garlic Cinnamon Broth

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced
4 cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 small yellow onions, peeled and halved
2 green onions, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
the cloves from one bulb of garlic (about 8), crushed with the flat side of a knife and peeled
6 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
10 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and allow to simmer, covered, for one hour. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into the pot in which you will make your soup. Reserve the mushrooms and carrots to add them back into the soup. Discard the rest of the vegetables.

For more information on a low-iodine diet see here:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dark Chocolate Blueberry Secret Green Smoothie

A lot of people have expressed interest in green smoothies lately. I've been having green smoothies every morning for the past year and I remember when my husband and I first started doing this and told others about it - we mostly got a lot of disgusted looks. However, things have changed and I am super happy about it! On Netflix last week I saw that one of the most popular titles on Nextflix instant is Vegucated (if you haven't seen this documentary - watch it now)!! Folks are becoming more interested in veganism across the country and with good reason: individuals who adopt a vegan diet have a lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer, hormone-free eating, increased energy, lower blood pressure, improved digestion, much lower risk of diabetes, an increased life span, healthy cholesterol levels, lower risk of cancer, and the list of benefits could go on...

So, this post is not accompanied by a photo because I was way too hungry and grumpy this morning to mess with a camera. But, if you make this smoothie, you'll find that it is not green at all! The blueberries and chocolate make it a very dark chocolate color and the spinach cannot be tasted (unless you use over 2 cups, then you will get a pleasant, slightly green flavor). This smoothie is great for sneaking greens into the food of those who are otherwise reluctant to eat their greens. Shhh! Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium. Not to mention it has more protein per calorie than steak. Just take a look at the impressive nutritional information for this smoothie at the bottom of the page! 

Dark Chocolate Blueberry Secret Green Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened original or unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon cashew butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon hemp protein (optional)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
1-2 cups spinach (more if you wish!)
1 very ripe banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (omit if you used vanilla almond milk)
2 ice cubes
a dash of stevia or 1 tsp agave (optional)

Add all ingredients except sweetener to blender and blend until smooth. Taste for sweetener and blend again until well combined. 1 serving.

Nutrition info: 435 kcals, 69 g carbohydrates, 14.7 g protein, 16.9 g fat, 1.4 g sat fat, 23 g fiber, 229 g sodium, 26 g sugar, 6,302 IU vitamin A, 30 mg vitamin C, 465 mg calcium, 8.2 mg iron, 1,312 mg potassium


Monday, January 7, 2013

Update + Eat to Live Diet + Peach Pie GREEN Smoothie

I haven't been on here in awhile. I'm going through what could be called a "quarter-life crisis." I just graduated with my Bachelor's degree and now I am trying to find my place in "normal" society. I didn't go to college to make 100k per year - I went to college to get an education; to become a more well-rounded individual. It's not the fact that I have to get a job (and have been looking fiercely for the past 3 weeks) that is bothering me - it's the fact that I feel like my life is now at a standstill. I love learning. I want few things more than to enroll in graduate school, but right now that is just not an option.

Aside from that, Anthony and I have been following the Eat to Live program for the past 5 days. We followed this program from January up until about April of last year and it turned out to be very successful for us - I lost 20 lbs and he lost 30 lbs. Neither of us are overweight now, we just have a few extra pounds we can afford to lose. While it is a great program (and you feel amazing while following it), it takes a great deal of discipline to follow. I'll have more on our progress later, but for now, here's what it entails:

  • all raw vegetables, including raw carrots (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • cooked green vegetables (goal 1 lb. daily)
  • beans, legumes, bean sprouts, or tofu (minimum 1 cup daily in total of these)
  • fresh fruit (at least 4 daily).
  • eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomato and other non-starchy vegetables, cooked and raw (unlimited)
  • cooked starchy vegetables OR whole grains–Maximum 1 cup per day (butternut or acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, brown rice, cooked carrots, whole grain breads, whole grain cereals)
  • raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. or 28.5 grams a day) or 2 ounces avocado
  • ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day)
  • soymilk, low-sugar preferred–Maximum 1 cup a day
  • dairy products
  • animal products
  • between meal snacks
  • fruit juice, dried fruits
  • salt, sugar

Now, we do not follow this diet 100% the way Dr. Fuhrman wants us to. We use small amounts of salt, chia seeds instead of flax, maple syrup and agave as sweeteners in small amounts, and occasionally have a snack between meals. Everything else, we're pretty much spot-on.

This brings me to the smoothie I made this morning. I have a green smoothie every single morning. It just makes you feel great for the rest of your day and if you haven't tried one, you're missing out! I had an excess amount of peaches in the freezer so when life gives you peaches, make a....

Peach Pie Green Smoothie

1 cup vanilla soymilk (if you use a plant milk that does not contain vanilla, add 1/2 tsp of extract)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon cashew butter (I use cashew butter because its flavor is relatively neutral - you could use peanut butter in a pinch but the smoothie would be very peanut-ty.)
1 small frozen banana
1.5 cups frozen peaches
1 cup (packed) spinach
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 - 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
1/2 - 1 cup cold water to reach desired consistency (this smoothie is very thick, but you can thin it out with even more water)

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth!
Serves one very hungry person.

Hope everyone is having a great new year!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Butternut Black Bean Nachos

Yesterday, I posted a recipe for smoky roasted butternut squash. The recipe served two as a side dish and we had leftovers so today I bring you.... BUTTERNUT BLACK BEAN NACHOS!!! I know, I know. It sounds like a weird combination, but damn were they tasty. If you've never had vegan cheeze sauce, you should try it. Not because it tastes   like cheese, but because it is delicious in its own right. I would never tell anyone that vegan cheese tastes like dairy cheese (unless we're talking about mozzarella Teese on pizza - that shiz tastes real).

Regardless, this was very good but I've been known to never do things the same way twice when it comes to cooking. I'm thinking next time I pair butternut squash with tortilla chips I will use a mango peach salsa and leave off the cheezy sauce and lettuce.

Butternut Black Bean Nachos

Warning: These are really filling and ridiculously addictive!

Four handfuls of tortilla chips
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 avocado, diced
1 cup cooked black beans (or you could use 2/3 of a can)
1 cup tomato salsa
hot sauce to taste
vegan sour cream (optional)

1 cup cheezy sauce:
1 ¼ cup unsweetened nondairy milk
¾ cup vegetable broth
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons arrowroot flour
¾ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon mustard
A splash of lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Mix your butternut squash with the black beans in a foil packet. Place in the oven until you are done preparing the other ingredients and ready to assemble your nachos.
2. Make the cheezy sauce: whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan except for mustard and lemon. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until it starts to bubble and thicken. Let it cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add mustard and lemon. Set aside.
3. Chop your lettuce and avocado. Place 2 handfuls of tortilla chips on both plates.
4. Assemble the nachos. For each plate: first the lettuce (1/2 cup), then the avocado (1/2), then the butternut/black bean mixture (1/2), then the salsa (1/2 cup), then 1/2 cup of cheezy sauce. If you want, add a few dashes of hot sauce and a dollop of vegan sour cream!



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smoky Roasted Butternut Squash

To me, fall is all about squashes and roasting things. Last Saturday I bought a butternut squash at Lancaster Central Market.

Let me start out by saying I had an unfortunate experience two years ago with my first attempt working with butternut squash. I wanted to make butternut soup, but the squash disagreed. The soup, to be generous, was vile. There are few things that my husband will not eat, but that dastardly creation went straight down the drain. I shudder at the thought. Anyway. I didn't give up on butternut squash and shortly thereafter I bought another squash. This time, I simply roasted it with some salt, pepper, and a spray of olive oil. It was FANTASTIC! I've been seeing butternut squash ever since. And this is how I got to this recipe: I needed to combine my love of smoked paprika with my love of roasted butternut squash. Mission accomplished! If you have not tried roasted butternut squash, I highly recommend trying it today!

Smoky Roasted B-nut Squash

1 butternut squash
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons pomegranate-infused balsamic vinegar (You could use regular balsamic instead. The pomegranate lends a fruity note.)
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
As much freshly ground black pepper as you like/can handle (I used about ½ teaspoon)

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a glass roasting dish with aluminum foil and set aside.
2. In a large bowl (and I mean large, unless you want to make a mess) mix together all of the ingredients except for the butternut squash. You want to mix those together first so that your squash gets coated evenly with all of the spices.
3. Peel your squash (the best way to do this is with a sharp chef's knife, cut off the bottom of the squash straight and run your knife along the sides) and chop the flesh into about one inch pieces.
4. Add you squash to the bowl and coat evenly with the spice mixture. Transfer to the roasting dish, making sure to spread out the squash.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, stir it up, and then bake for another 25-30 minutes. You want your squash to be tender and slightly browned around the edges. Serves 3.

I served this with BBQ tofu, but it would make a fitting side dish to pretty much anything. Tomorrow I will be posting what I made with our leftover roasted squash!



Thursday, November 15, 2012

There's always the question of "What's for lunch?" This recipe is a poignant answer to that question. This is my first published recipe ever. Hopefully you don't think it sucks.

I think that this recipe is way better if you use Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Broth and cook the quinoa a day in advance. This recipe comes together in about 10 minutes if you already have the quinoa made. Since my husband and I are broke, this recipe is also pretty cheap to make... especially if you buy quinoa in bulk, cook your chickpeas from scratch, and score .60 packs of wraps at Big Lots. Vegenaise can get a tad pricey but one jar lasts quite a long time!

Cheezy Quinoa Chickpea Burritos with Smoked Mayo

½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup no-chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup frozen or 2 cups fresh chopped kale
½ cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ cups cooked or 1 15oz can chickpeas
½ cup daiya shredded cheddar cheeze
Freshly ground black pepper

4 whole wheat flour tortillas

For the mayo:
4 tablespoons vegenaise
½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1.      Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Briefly heat quinoa to let any excess rinsing water evaporate. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
2.      While quinoa is standing, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the kale and sauté until thawed or soft. Add the corn kernels and cook until they are thawed, about 2 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Stir well.
3.      Add quinoa and chickpeas and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through. When the mixture is hot, add the daiya. Season mixture to taste with pepper.
4.      Mix together the vegenaise and the smoked paprika.
5.       Slather a tablespoon of smoked mayo on each wrap before filling with the quinoa mixture. Roll up like a burrito and enjoy!