Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Bean, Spinach and Coconut Soup….YUM

I came across this recipe last week on the Dishing up the Dirt Blog, and it is absolutely delicious. I bow to Andrea for posting it,  and offer her a heartfelt thank you because her dish warmed up the dreariest of days. You should check out what she has to offer in a bit…I have posted her website below.

So…. Thank You Andrea. The soup is comforting, nutritious, filling and most of all delicious. Enjoy!

Oh, and there isn’t a pic because Terry and I ate it too fast. It was all gone before I realized I missed my photo op….Oops.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa, White Bean and Spinach Stew.

  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, or two smaller sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans (or any white bean of your choice) if canned rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 6-8 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

**I adjusted the recipe to my liking and added a bit more cayenne and coconut milk as well as a few Kaffir Lime Leaves.

Directions:  Place a large soup pot on the stove over medium/low heat. Sweat or saute the onion in the coconut oil until translucent….about 5-8 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add garlic, sweet potato, cayenne, and dry quinoa. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add 6 cups of veggie stock and the beans and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add coconut milk and spinach. Simmer for another 10 minutes and serve! Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

Enjoy.

Visit Dishing Up The Dirt Website here...

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Easiest Healthy Dessert Recipe. Ever.

And when I say it is easy, I mean it really is. And it’s actually healthy. So, if you are a novice, or lack confidence in the kitchen, you can whip this together in about 20 minutes and feel really good about it. I had this the first time a few years ago and remember thinking how skilled the lovely woman who prepared it must have been…and she probably was….but in all reality not much skill is needed here. I have made this more than a few times and am not sure why I didn’t write about it until now. Better late than never.

Raw Avo Lime and Coconut Tart

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For ingredients all you need is a couple of ripe avocados, a few limes, some unsweetened coconut flakes, some dates, some pecans, some honey and some coconut oil.

For equipment you need a blender and 3 or 4 tart pans, even a pie pan will do. And a freezer.

1. Measure out approx 1 cup of dates, 2/3 cup of chopped pecans, 1/2 cup of coconut flakes, and a 1/2 tablespoon of lime zest and set aside. Prepping your ingredients before hand is called Mise en Place. Its fun to prep, it looks pretty and it feels pro.

2. Blend above ingredients until they are evenly blended and the mixture is sticky.

3. Layer the bottom of a lightly oiled pan(s) with the mixture. No need to press the mixture into the sides of the tart pan, but if you are using the pie pan and have enough mixture, why not.

4. Set the pan(s) in the freezer for a bit and continue with the recipe.

5. Measure out  2 cups of avocado flesh, 2/3 of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of lime zest and 1/2 honey. You can also add a tablespoon of coconut oil if you like. I have made it with and without and I like both.

6. Add items to blender and blend ingredients until smooth and pour into pan(s). Freeze for at least 2 hours. Let sit approx 30 minutes before serving. Top with some toasted coconut flakes and serve!

Want a little more info to banish the guilty conscience that can typically accompany dessert indulgence? Well, hetre is what avocados actually offer…

Heart Health and Cardiovascular Support

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Anti-oxidants

Anti-Cancer Properties

Blood Sugar Regulation

and there is even more.

Rest assured that with this dessert you are eating some nutrient dense, healthy goodness. For more info on why avocados are good for you, which is also where I got my nutrition info, visit www.whfoods.org

 

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Easy Greens

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Eat. More. Greens. Yes, we know this.

But for those of us that are less than adventurous in the culinary world, experimenting with bitter greens can be, well, bitter. Here is a recipe that I like…it’s easy, it tastes great, and it’s packed with nutrition. Enjoy!

~ 1 lb kale, stems and midribs removed and discarded.
~ 1 lb chard, stems and midribs removed and set aside.
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced. Up to you.

~ 2 tbs of your sautéing oil of choice, olive, grape seed, sesame…whatever you have in the kitchen. You can always use coco oil, but it will add a much sweeter and nuttier flavor to the greens. I use olive oil.

~ about 1/4 cup of Shoyu, Tamari, or Braggs Liquid Amino’s… Whatever you have in your kitchen.

Prepare greens by coarsely chopping the leaves. Also prepare the stems of the chard by slicing into 1/2 pieces. The stems are uber nutritious and taste pretty good when you add some seasoning. Boil greens for 3-5 minutes and then immediately blanch in cold water. Set greens aside.

Heat 2 tbs tbs of oil in skillet and add garlic. Simmer for a few minutes being careful not to burn, and then add the chopped up stems of the chard. Season with salt and pepper. Saute stems for 3-4 minutes.  Add greens and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and  add about 1/4 cup of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and a some red pepper flakes. Enjoy.

TIPS…

~ Last time I fixed this I was out of red pepper flakes, so instead I added some chopped up jalapeños. It added a gentle kick and ended up to be quite delicious!

~ You can make this in to  a meal by throwing in some mushrooms and onion and then serving with quinoa or brown rice. PS…Quinoa has plenty of protein for those of you concerned with not getting enough protein in your meal. 

~ You can omit the tamari or shoyu and use red wine vinegar instead. It shifts the dish from Asian style to Italian. 

~ You don’t have to blanch the greens if you are short on time. The blanching definitely helps remove some of the bitterness, but you can skip it and just do the sautéing.

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Soup Sunday: No Chicken Noodle Soup

Some say that the modern cold and flu season is directly related to the decrease of Vitamin D in the system. As the fall days get shorter, so does our exposure to the sunshine that nourishes not only our soul, but also feeds nourishment to our bodies. If you avoid meat and dairy, getting enough Vitamin D is pretty tough to do in a regular diet. I take Vitamin D supplements to keep my body strong, and I arm myself with healthy soup recipes just in case my immune system weakens.

I have evolved what in my more wild days was known to be “Sunday Funday” into what I now call “Soup Sunday”, a day to fill the kitchen with warmth, cozy up with your loved one, or your cat, and watch some football… or a 24 marathon on Netflix. I will be posting a soup recipe each sunday, until I run out, and  in honor of this Soup Sunday, here is the latest greatest soup that has brought joy into my kitchen…Vegetarian or No Chicken Noodle Soup.

***I found this recipe on the oh my veggies blog, which is filled with great healthy, vegetarian recipes.

Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup:

Image 2Image 3ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 4 celery ribs, sliced
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, frozen overnight, thawed, pressed for 30 minutes (I use the Tofu Xpress), and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 quarts no-chicken broth
  • 12 oz. dried wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for 3 minutes; add tofu. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened, but not browned.
  2. Add broth and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, add egg noodles and simmer for 8 minutes. (The noodles will be slightly undercooked, but don’t worry–they’ll continue cooking after removed from heat. This way, the noodles won’t be mushy.)
  3. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley before serving.

notes

No-Chicken broth and bouillon cubes are sold at Whole Foods, natural grocery stores, and many supermarket chains. If you can’t find either of these, you can use vegetable broth.

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My Latest, Greatest Protein Smoothie…

As a “mostly vegan”, I often get asked how I get enough protein….well….here you go!  My daily dose of protein, energy, nutrition, and overall wellbeing delivered in 16 oz of healthy deliciousness…

1/2 of a banana (a great source of potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamins B6 & C)

1 cup of coconut water (rich in Vitamin C)

1 cup of coconut milk (contains 50% of the daily recommended dose of B12 vitamin)

1 scoop of vegan protein powder (17 g of protein)

1 tablespoon of peanut butter (another 8 g of protein plus plenty of iron and potassium)

1 tablespoon of chia seeds (2250 mg of omega 3’s, 805 mg of omega 6’s, and 295 mg os omega 9’s…plus 3 more grams of protein)

a handful of goji berries (rich in antioxidants, trace minerals and beta carotene…plus 7 more grams of protein)

1 tablespoon of Sachi Inchi Oil made by Sol Raiz Organics (excellent source of essential fatty acids and Omegas 3, 6 & 9)

1 tablespoon Sol Raiz Organics Maca Powder (contains nearly 20 amino acids and 7 essential amino acids’s)

a few mint leaves (promotes digestion)

maybe a few ice cubes…made with filtered water of course:-)

And 1 tablespoon of Cacao Nibs (rich in antioxidants and yet another source of protein plus iron, calcium and 9 g of fiber)

 

Mix all the above ingredients in a vitamix or blender, and enjoy! It makes a large smoothie, so you might want to nurse it for a while…

 

If you don’t already have these products in your kitchen, you might have to dish out a little bit of dough at the health food store,. That being said, the products should last you a while…and you will be well on your way to feeling healthier, lighter and more energized!

 

**A little more info…..Web md suggests that women should get 25 g of fiber per day and men should get 38g. As far as protein goes, you should divide your weight in half and consume that amount of protein per day…in grams:-) That would mean a 150 lb person should eat 75g of protein per day.

Keeping this info in mind, this shake covers nearly half of my daily suggested protein and almost all of my fiber. If I add some dark leafy greens for dinner with some whole food protein like quinoa or tempeh….I will be healthy, full and nutritionally satisfied.

 

Helpful Links…

Sol Raiz Organics

The health benefits of Coconut

Cacao Nibs…Even better for you than dark chocolate

 

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Antioxidant 101

I am frequently bringing up nutrition in my conversations as of late, and I continue to be surprised at how much we, as a society, don’t know. We know the words, but we don’t always know the meanings…..myself included.

My latest topic of choice has been Antioxidants, and after asking around for the last week or two, I have come to the following conclusion: We know we need them, but we don’t know why. So….here is Antioxidant 101.

 

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. The body produces antioxidants naturally, but the problem comes when there are more free radicals in the body than it can naturally handle. Types of antioxidants are: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Carotenoids such as Beta-Carotene, Lycopene, and Leutin.

 

Ok, what are free radicals? 

A free radical is an atom with an odd number of electrons. An atom needs an even number of electrons to be stable, so this electron imbalance creates an unstable atom. The unstable atom wants balance, so it scavenges through the body eventually taking an electron from wherever it can find one. This electron robbery* causes a new, previously stable atom to become imbalanced and unstable ultimately creating a new free radical. Now, this new free radical has to find an electron from yet another unassuming atom, which is the beginning of a destructive chain reaction damaging hundreds of atoms and cells in the process. Yikes.

*Note to self… this process of removing electrons from an atom is called “oxidation”. Some examples of oxidation are the browning of an apple or the rusting of iron. 

So, basically, an excess of free radicals in the body causes a browning effect, similar to that of an apple, not only on the outside of the body, but on the inside as well. Ick. When there is an excessive amount of this oxidation happening in the body, it is called “oxidative stress”.

 

Ok, so aside from the obvious, why is this bad?

When oxidation occurs and a healthy cell has been damaged, the DNA in the cell may have been damaged as well. When a cell then reproduces with damaged DNA, it is reproducing with a mutation and has therefore recreated itself with abnormalities. This potentially opens up a vulnerability to disease and other aging related issues. Oxidative stress has been linked to a number of medical issues including Alzehimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease.

 

Where do free radicals come from?

Some free radicals are natural and actually created in our own bodies. They are a byproduct of chemical reactions, and the body experiences millions, probably trillions, of chemical reactions every day. Our bodies were designed with the means to be able to handle a normal, natural load of free radicals, but the problem occurs when we introduce unnatural free radicals into our systems. Unnatural free radicals come from pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol, UV rays, chemicals from foods and drugs, and other environmental toxins.

 

How do antioxidants help?

Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals by donating their electrons. Antioxidants can remain stable with an odd number of electrons, so they aren’t in danger of becoming free radicals themselves.

 

Where do we get antioxidants? 

Food! Its easy. Healthy, wholesome foods. In my opinion it is best to get your nutrition through whole foods rather than popping a pill or taking a powder, but do what you can.

Here are some suggestions:

– Bell peppers (green, yellow, red bell peppers)

– Apples

– Berries (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries)

– Spinach, Kale

– Broccoli,  cauliflower

– Nuts

– Beans

 

Hopefully you found this info to be helpful, and maybe it even peaked your interest a bit on the subject. If you want to explore some more, check out some of my resources…

 

Happy researching.

 

 

Resources:

Dr Andrew Weil

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400537/Stumped-by-Oxidative-Stress.html

National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm

WebMD

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1?page=2

Antioxidants Detectives… A great example of the chain reaction

http://www.antioxidantsdetective.com/antioxidant-definition.html

Health Check Systems…A great refresher on the science of the cell…

http://www.healthchecksystems.com/antioxid.htm

 

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Vegan Tom Yum Soup

I have been playing with Tom Yum recipes for a few months now, and this one is my personal favorite. I found it on The Chubby Vegetarian Blog...which is awesome, btw.

I use extra cilantro, because I love it, and I omit the Kombu and sambal because I can’t find it. I also add rice noodles…and make it more of a meal. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup

2 stalks  lemongrass
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
3 lime leaves
1/2 inch sliced ginger
1/2 ounce kombu (about 3 small sheets, rinsed)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon (or more)  sambal
2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce (or soy sauce)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup tomato wedges
1 red pepper (sliced)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk  (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 1/2 cups sliced and quartered king oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 lime (quartered)

“Trim the ends off of the lemongrass and peel away the first two layers. With the back of your knife or a frying pan, beat the lemongrass until it splinters. Cut into 4 pieces and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil with the lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, kombu, brown sugar, fish sauce (or soy sauce), and garlic. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer; allow this mixture to cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Strain out the solids leaving only a fragrant broth. Return the broth to the saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomato, red pepper, and coconut milk. Allow the tomato and pepper to warm through. Just before serving, stir in the king oyster mushrooms. (They’re easy to overcook and become rubbery of they sit in the hot broth for too long.) Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime. (Serves 4 as a starter and 2 for dinner.)”

Borrowed from the Chubby Vegetarian Blog.

 

Vegan Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas

I just tried this one the other night and it was easy and delicious. All credit goes to Kim Barnouin’s AWESOME Cookbook, Skinny Bitch

Ingredients:

2 tbs grapeseed oil

1/2 an onion,chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and  chopped

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 canned chipoltle peppers

1 cup diced tomato

salt and pepper to tasts

12 corn tortillas

1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese

cilantro, for garnish

salsa and guac, for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 350.

In a medium saute pan, heat one tablespoon of the oil offer medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook 6-8 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and pepper flakes. Stir. Add the black beans and mix well. Pour a little less than half or f the bean mixture into a blender or food processor. Add the diced tomatoes and chipotle peppers and blend well until it to make a black bean sauce. Season with salt and pepper. (Although the original recipe didn’t call for it,  I added some corn to the unblended mixture for some sweetness!)

In a medium saute pan, heat the remaining oil over medium-low heat.  Place one tortilla at a time in the pan and flip to warm both sides.

In a 13×9-inch baking dish, spread just enough of the black bean sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Fill the tortillas with about 3 tablespoons of the remaining, unblended black bean mixture. Roll tightly and place in the baking dish with the seam side down. When all the tortillas have been filled and wrapped, pour the remaining black bean sauce on top. Sprinkle with vegan cheese and bake 30-40 minutes. Be Careful not to dry out…

Garnish with fresh guac and/or salsa and ENJOY!

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