If you're looking to kick sugary or gluten-heavy breakfasts to the curb I encourage you to consider the sweet potato bowl. Slightly starchy root veggies provide a deeply satisfying base for a morning meal that is both hearty and delicious - especially with the help of few flavorful accoutrements.
For me, breakfast has long been a challenging meal. I grew up reaching for bagels or bowls of cereal, and even after spending my adulthood surrounded by brilliant food people I still struggle with finding ways to get away from that morning carb habit. It wasn't until I started leaning on sweet potatoes that I really got into a healthier breakfast groove.
It isn't always easy to set aside the time to make (or even eat!) a hot breakfast, but I almost always feel better when I do. I've managed to streamline the process a bit by cheating with frozen veggies, but you can make this even better by throwing some fresh kale into the steamer or roasting your own sweet potatoes ahead of time. Try swapping out kale for any other green vegetable. Chard, spinach, or asparagus would be great.
The sweet potatoes could also be replaced with another root veggie. Beets, turnips, or red potatoes would all be delicious ways to mix this recipe up. If frying an egg in the morning turns out to be too big a hassle, try using hard-boiled eggs instead or swapping the egg for a quicker pre-cooked protein like tofu, black beans, or grilled chicken.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
Makes one big serving
- 1 cup sweet potato, peeled, diced, and roasted (recipe here)
- 1/2 cup spinach, steamed
- 1/2 cup avocado, diced
- 1 egg, fried
- Optional garnish: lime juice, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, or Japanese mayo
- Prepare the sweet potato and spinach ahead of time in large batches. You can roast your own sweet potatoes at 350F for about an hour and steam your own spinach over simmering water for about 2 minutes. If available, you can use frozen pre-cooked sweet potato and spinach instead.
- When you are ready to eat, quickly heat the sweet potato and spinach in a microwave or toaster oven.
- Meanwhile, fry up a fresh egg (directions here) and dice up half an avocado.
- Throw it all together in a bowl and top with whatever garnishes you like. My personal favorite combination is lime, soy sauce, and a splash of hot sauce.
Once upon a time my husband and I went on a juice cleanse. Being the types of people who enjoy taking things past the point of reason, we decided that a 30-day cleanse would be a great way to start off our relationship with vegetable juice. If you're going to do something a little crazy, why not go all the way, right?
The first week was awful. My head hurt. My stomach ached. I saw stars, used curse words a lot, and spent most of my time sleeping. Then, after six or seven days without solid food a fire lit beneath me. Suddenly I felt full of life. I was light on my feet and totally energized - a total juice convert. That energy kept up for a while, and as I became more and more inventive with my juice recipes I started to wonder if I'd ever go back to eating solid food again!
But then, a little less than a week from my thirty-day goal my juice cleanse was foiled. One might expect that I would have fallen victim to the usual troublemakers - like ice cream, cheeseburgers, or PIZZA! The truth was far less sexy. Of the many temptations I had encountered during my fast, the siren that finally slayed me was a simple one - a plain old steamed head of broccoli.
I was prepping the broccoli from our CSA delivery to be frozen when hunger struck. Glistening with steam and fresh from the pot, that luscious green vegetable just looked so good to me. I figured that just one bite couldn't hurt. Then I though, well, maybe even two would be OK. It wouldn't kill me to add a little salt and lemon, would it? Maybe a squirt of olive oil?
Ten minutes later the entire head of broccoli had disappeared and I didn't even want to think the word juice ever again. Since that day I've had a much more sincere appreciation for the delicious simplicity of cruciferous vegetables. While they are unforgettable steamed with salt and lemon, roasting these hearty veggies on a sheet pan is my very favorite way to enjoy them. In fact, they are so good this way that I could probably devour an entire sheet pan even without being on the hungry end of a juice cleanse.
Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
Makes around six 1-cup servings
This simple method for preparing broccoli and cauliflower can easily be dressed up or customized by adjusting the seasoning. For example, you might try adding garlic, ginger and red pepper to give the veggies and Asian flavor. A sprinkle of thyme, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper is a great way to give it an Italian flair.
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 lemon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Toss the broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Spread the veggies over a sheet pan, then roast until tender (about 10 - 15 minutes)
- Remove from oven and squirt with lemon.
A simple Japanese rice seasoning using healthy ingredients like flax seed meal, sesame seeds, and kelp powder.
I know some of you might be thinking "Furi-what now?". I'll admit, furikake is not the most mainstream condiment out there. It is, however, one of my personal favorites, and something that I've loved the heck out of since my Japanese restaurant days.
Furikake is basically a topping for rice (and also sometimes noodles or other dishes). It's often made from sesame seeds and seaweed but there are lots of different varieties and flavors using everything from garlic to dried egg to spice things up.
Depending on the selection of Japanese foods at your grocery store you may be able to find a jar during a normal grocery trip. Or, if your city has an Asian market (we have some GREAT ones in Austin) than you could even find several types of furikake to try out.
I've been meaning to make my own furikake for some time now, and was finally inspired to take the plunge while brainstorming ways to sneak more omega into my diet. Ground flaxseed blends into furikake quite well - giving the seasoning a mild nutty flavor that works really well with sesame and seaweed.
You can shake this lovely stuff all over rice, quinoa, noodles, or roasted vegetables to add a dash of salty, umami flavor.
My personal favorite way to enjoy furikake is simple. I start with a small bowl of freshly steamed rice, squirt a little soy sauce or liquid amino on top, then sprinkle the bowl liberally with furikake. This makes an amazing side or a wholesome snack - the perfect comfort food for anyone who loves rice as much as I do.
Flax Seed Furikake
Makes about 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon kelp granules
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- Combine the sesame seeds and flax seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat. Make sure to continuously move the ingredients in the skillet by gently shaking the pan as they toast. When you start to smell the sesame they are finished. Immediately remove the seeds from the pan into a small mixing bowl.
- Add the kelp granules and mix well.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely before transferring it to a small jar or shaker with an airtight lid.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Whole Foods Market
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but if you ask me, it is equally the most challenging. That is, it becomes challenging when you try to make sure it meets all of your very particular requirements for nutrition, speed, and taste. I actually have a very easy time eating breakfast - as long as it involves cream cheese and excessive carbohydrates. I know! I KNOW!
So I need to do better at breakfast. Another area that could use improvement is my overall nutrition. In my pre-baby life I ate well - like REALLY well. So well that I knew without a doubt that my nutritional needs were being met regularly and in the best possible way - through real food. These days I don't eat so well. I'm still adjusting to my new life as a mother and well, to be frank, still struggling to get my recently widened rear-end back in the kitchen!
Enter supplements, modern life's little shortcut to making sure that I DO get everything I need on a daily basis. I was invited to my local Whole Foods earlier this week to discuss what supplements might help get me back on track. With their resident Whole Body expert, Terri, I found a brand new probiotic and a solid multi-vitamin before delving into the world of fatty acid and antioxidant supplements, which are available in both pill and liquid form, and are present in food ingredients like flax oil and chia seeds.
If you'd like to create or revamp a supplement regimen I highly recommend visiting your local Whole Foods and speaking with someone in their Whole Body section to help get you started. It just so happens that this weekend is a great time to do so as Whole Foods is having a huge 3-Day sale on supplements. Between Friday, January 8 and Sunday, January 10 Whole Foods will be offering their entire selection of supplements at 25% off. I even have a $25 gift card to get one lucky reader started. (Giveaway widget below.)
So, back to breakfast. I know enough about health to realize that popping a few pills every morning is not enough. I need breakfast! I took advantage of this supplement education to work on a breakfast recipe that would be filling, nutritious, and most importantly really quick and easy to make. What better vehicle for protein, antioxidants, and soluble fiber is there than the great and powerful smoothie? And just to mix things up a little, this particular smoothie is meant to be enjoyed hot.
Hot smoothies. It's a thing.
Being new to protein powders I took Terri's recommendation to try out Whole Food's new Plant-Based Fit Protein in the Vanilla Cinnamon flavor. It's unsweetened and contains a few extra goodies, like green coffee extract, in addition to the totally vegan protein. I also used my own homemade Almond Milk in this recipe. When heated, it thickens the smoothie nicely and, of course, tastes way better than almond milk from the store. You can, however, use plain or sweetened store-bought Almond Milk and whatever variety of protein powder you like to make your smoothie.
Vanilla Almond Hot Breakfast Smoothie
Makes one 10-oz serving (or two 5-oz servings)
This hot smoothie recipe is packed with protein, antioxidants, and deliciousness. It can be enjoyed cold but in my opinion is much much better served hot. Try making a double or triple batch to keep in the fridge and heat on demand for instant breakfasts all week.
A note on sweetness: This was very sweet (like a dessert) when I added five dates along with my homemade Almond Milk which is also mildly sweet. You can add more or less dates and sweet or unsweetened Almond Milk to suit your own personal taste.
- 10 ounces (1 1/4 cup) Vanilla Almond Milk (recipe here)
- 1 scoop Whole Foods Plant-Based Fit Protein in Vanilla Cinnamon
- 2 to 5 pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon filtered virgin flax seed oil
- Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth. (About three minutes)
- Transfer mixture to a saucepan and heat to taste. This drink can also be microwaved in a heat-safe mug in quick 30-second bursts until heated through.
I have a $25 gift card to share! Use the widget below to enter.
I'm not one of those people who obsessively makes every ingredient in their pantry from scratch.
Don't get me wrong. I'd LIKE to be one of those people. I've even tried to be. Unfortunately, that kind of 100% total from-scratch lifestyle just isn't in the cards during this particular stage of my life. At this point, if I can cook a meal at home instead of driving through some god-forsaken window somewhere I call that a win.
So you might be surprised to know that I prefer making my almond milk at home, from scratch. There are a few reasons I do this. The most noble would be to avoid drinking all kinds of wacky stabilizers and preservatives added to commercial almond milk. The less virtuous motivation (and possibly the more pressing of the two) is that homemade almond milk tastes AMAZING. It's seriously so much better than anything you can buy at the store.
Is it an extra step? Yes. Is it a little slow and sometimes even a bit annoying? Sure. Is it worth the trouble? You bet your sweet bippy it is.
To make a very basic, non-sweetened, non-flavored almond milk simply omit the vanilla beans and dates from this recipe - then go home to your pristine lair of virtue and judge me. I need some sweetness in my life. I figure dates are not the worst variety. This recipe yields a very mildly sweet milk. If you want it to be extra sweet just add a few extra dates.
By the way, squeezing the milk through a questionably named device - the nut bag (ahem), is the best way to get a really smooth, pulp-free milk. The second best method is to strain through cheese cloth. That's very effective, but it does take a while with all the dripping and waiting involved. I don't know about you, but I haven't got all day to spend milking nuts.
The fastest method is to strain through a fine mesh strainer, but there is a drawback. This method allows much more pulp to get into the milk. Whether or not that bugs you is really up to personal taste. As long as you are using unpasteurized almonds to make your milk (see *note below) it shouldn't result in a big difference in flavor. I've tried it both ways, and you can see the difference in the following photo. The milk made with cheesecloth is on the left and the milk made with a mesh strainer is on the right.
Vanilla Almond Milk
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
- Soak the almonds and vanilla beans in water for 24-48 hours.
- Transfer mixture to a blender and blend on highest setting for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is fairly smooth and frothy.
- Strain the mixture through a nut bag, cheesecloth, or a fine mesh strainer.
- Refrigerate for up to one week.
*I've seen these available at Whole Foods, Amazon, and occasionally at other hippie-dippie type grocery stores. Thrive Market also carries them. There is actually a huge difference (to my taste anyway) between pasteurized and unpasteurized almonds. The latter being far more bitter than the untouched variety.
Perfect for the holiday by-week, this quick and simple smoothie provides a boost of vitamins A, B5, C, and E, along with a little Zinc. I always find that my body needs a bit of extra love during this awkward stretch of days between Christmas and New Year's.
This time of year has its perks, but the cookies, presents, and general revelry are often accompanied by health busters. Stuff like emotional overload, physical exhaustion, cranky tummies, germs germs germs abound. Between travel and indulgence there is a pretty good chance of getting dehydrated to boot.
Bottom line? Too much fun can be tough on your body so it's good idea to boost your defenses in between feast days. Smoothies to the rescue!
Bells & Berries Smoothie
Makes about 16 ounces
This vitamin-packed smoothie is on the mellow side, sweetness-wise. It has a thick and creamy texture which can be thinned out by adding a little extra coconut water (up to 1/4 cup extra). When measuring the diced peppers and frozen raspberries make sure to include a little extra to make up for the empty space in your measuring cup. Heaping measurements of each usually work out just right.
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup coconut water
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (can be squeezed from about 1 lime)
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1/2 a pepper)
- 1/2 cup ripe avocado (about 1/2 an avocado, medium soft)
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
Add the orange juice, coconut water, and lime juice to the blender. Next add the bell pepper and avocado. Finally, top it off with the frozen berries. Blend until smooth (about1-2 minutes). Enjoy immediately!
One year ago: Jack Gilmore's Shrimp & Cheesy Grits
Two years ago: Twelve Root Veggie Recipes that Rock
Three years ago: Meyer Lemon & Pomegranate Ceviche
Four years ago: Creamy Chipotle & Quinoa Sweet Potato Casserole
It seems the more complicated things become outside of the kitchen the more I find myself craving simplicity within its walls. Cooking has always been calming to me, but now my floors are constantly sticky and my counter tops seem to be forever piled with madness. My little hideaway just doesn't promise the same meditative quality that is once had. In those rare moments when I do actually clear the counters, empty the sink, and pull out my chef's knife I am often way too exhausted to consider making anything more complex than a a bowl of cold cereal.
Such is the state of things that roasted vegetables on a sheet pan is now a grandiose task. A few minutes slicing up brussel sprouts (though I would have gladly purchased these pre-shredded had the stars aligned to make it so), a quick toss in a bowl with some diced butternut squash, oil, salt, and pepper, and into the oven it goes. My weekday masterpiece!
I hope you'll enjoy this too. For all of you out there with toddlers I encourage you to go ahead and buy your squash pre-diced and your sprouts pre-sliced. Those of you without kids had better damn well get your knives out though. I need to know that someone out there is chopping - even if I can't. Do me a favor and tag me in some action shots as you get busy with your cutlery. It will give me a thrill to slice vicariously.
Roasted Squash and Brussel Sprouts
Makes about six 1-cup servings
This simple recipe can be used to prepare almost any combination of hearty greens (think: kale, collards, or chard) and hard squash (pumpkins, acorn squash, delicata). I like to add a little lemon and parmesan on everything once it comes out of the oven but I encourage you to experiment with other flavors, like a splash of soy sauce or balsamic vinegar and a shake of toasted sesame or crumbled goat cheese. It's really quite versatile!
- 12 ounces (about 2 cups) brussel sprouts
- 2 pounds (about 4 cups) peeled and diced butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (try olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, or melted bacon fat)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 lemon (optional)
- 2-4 tablespoons grated or shredded parmesan (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Slice brussel sprouts as thinly as you can manage. (Watch out! They are quite wiggly.)
- Toss brussel sprouts and squash with oil, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Spread veggies over a sheet pan lined with parchment or silpat. Use two pans if necessary. Do not crowd them.
- Roast for 60 minutes, turning halfway. If the sprouts are not yet tender after an hour, roast for an extra 15 minutes. The exact time may vary depending on the thickness of the slices.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon juice and parmesan.
I had never really heard of black eyed peas until I moved to Texas. I guess my childhood in the northeast left my bean horizons sadly unexplored. I'll have to lodge a complaint with my parents for stunting my bean education so badly. Lucky for CC he is growing up in Austin where no variety of produce goes unsung.
So what's up with black eyed peas? These starchy little beans hold up quite well in hot weather, making them a staple in gardens throughout the southern states. Even I couldn't kill them! Black eyed peas have a very mild flavor and a pleasantly tender bite, and they are as easy to cook as they are to grow.
My favorite way to enjoy black eyed peas is in a simple cold salad called Texas Caviar. It's quite similar in nature to a Three Bean salad - dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette and tossed with veggies. Texas Caviar adds a pinch of heat though, and depending on which family recipe you are using, it often includes an unexpected ingredient like jicama, sweet corn, or in this case, mango.
I really love the combination of sweet and spicy flavors in my Texas Caviar, so this recipe uses fresh diced mango. You could easily replace the mango with another sweet tart fruit such as peach, nectarine, or pineapple. When I make this I use the full four tablespoons of minced jalapeño, but feel free to use half as much or omit it all-together if you'd prefer something not so hot.
The addition of fresh cilantro, chives, or scallions in this salad is great too. When you've put it all together you can enjoy it as a fresh summery side dish, a quick lunch, or even a dip. Texas Caviar goes great with crunchy tortilla or pita chips.
Black Eyed Pea & Mango Salad (Mango Texas Caviar)
Makes about eight 1/2 cup servings
- 1 1/2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
- 1 cup diced mango
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup dice green pepper
- 1/2 cup diced onion (red or white)
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- The juice of 1 lime
- 2-4 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeño
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- If you are using fresh black eyed peas, boil them until they become tender (about 15 minutes), then rinse them with cold water, and drain. Dried peas will have to be soaked overnight before cooking. If you are using canned peas you will not need to cook them, but they should be rinsed well to remove any extra sodium.
- Combine the black eyed peas, mango, bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. You can serve this immediately but I think it tastes a little better if it has an hour or so to chill in the fridge.
Disclosure: I am being compensated for working at The National Honey Board's Benefits of Honey events mentioned below.
The first time I saw fruit on a salad I was quite skeptical. Even though I am a big fan of all things sweet and savory it gave me pause. Could that really work? Aren't salads meant to be slathered in fatty accouterments like bacon and cream dressings? How could fruit beat croutons?
Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I gave it a shot and discovered that the bursting sweetness of fresh fruit is incredible in salads. I was hooked immediately. It started with cranberries on a waldorf. Then there was my first strawberry spinach salad, and that watermelon feta combination. Before I knew it I was piling fruits of all kinds over beds of lettuce. Grilled peaches? Mandarin segments? Yes please. If you haven't tried making a salad with fruit in it yet, today is the day.
This recipe combines tender baby spinach with crisp jicama and juicy raspberries. If you can't find jicama in your local store try substituting a mild apple, like a red delicious, instead. The vinaigrette also includes one rather exotic ingredient - roasted almond oil. This adds a wonderful nutty aroma to the dressing but again, it's totally swappable. If you don't have any on hand or don't feel like investing in a bottle (it's a bit pricey), try using something like olive, sweet almond, or avocado oil instead.
By the way, I'm heading back out on the honey trail tomorrow. If you are in Washington, DC or Austin, TX I would love for you to join me at The National Honey Board's Benefits of Honey event. I'll be there demonstrating a fresh Honey Grapefruit Salt Scrub and talking about how to use honey in your natural skin care routine. Other honey gurus will be offering demos on cooking, wellness, and beekeeping. There will even be fun stuff for the kids - like face painting and a visit from everyone's favorite Honey Bear! This event is totally free and a really fun way to learn about honey.
Come see me on Tuesday, 05/19 at The Loft at 600 F in Washington, DC., 6:30 pm or on Thursday, 05/21 at Vuka in Austin, TX, 6:30 pm. If you do stop by please make sure and say hello. It's legitimately thrilling for me to meet a reader in person. I kid you not.
Raspberry Spinach Salad with Honey Almond Vinaigrette
Makes two servings
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons roasted almond oil
- pinch of salt
- Start by making the vinaigrette. Combine the honey and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until fully blended. Add the salt, then pour the oil in slowly as you whisk continuously. The dressing should thicken up as it is mixed.
- Divide the spinach into two bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Top each salad with jicama, raspberries, and roasted almonds.
- Devour at once!
Sometimes I like to roast up a huge baking sheet of broccoli and eat it piece by piece until I don't even want to think the word vegetable. This usually involves some pretty simple preparation - a dash of oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Maybe when it comes out I might squirt some lemon over the whole thing. That's all I really need to enjoy myself: peace, quiet, and a savory snack. An added bonus to this particular pig-out is that I have noone to compete with. Under my nagging eye Scott Bobleo will grudgingly fill the requisite third of his dinner plate with green vegetables, but you would never EVER catch him snacking on a piece of broccoli for fun - no matter how much lemon was involved.
So I knew when I pulled a head of cauliflower from my Farmhouse Delivery box I would be eating the whole thing myself. While oil, salt, and pepper would have done the job handsomely I decided to spice it up by adding some Curry Powder. I'd recently tried the same ingredient on my popcorn. It wasn't bad, but butter, salt, and garlic powder remains my favorite way to address a popcorn craving. Anyway, I still had curry powder fresh in my mind, so onto the veggies it went.
The verdict? Curry powder is WAY more delicious on cauliflower than it is on popcorn. I could totally sit down with a bowl of this stuff and eat my way through a movie. Speaking of movies - have you seen any good ones lately? I find myself so far out of that particular loop that I don't even recognize the names on the theater signs as we drive by. Because I haven't seen any commercials or previews to accompany those names they all sound like jokes to me. I drive by and imagine each title as an SNL sketch. You can imagine my tittering when I saw the sign reading 22 Jump Street.
This makes me the worst person in the whole world to be stuck behind at a Redbox. Recommendations from the outside world would be most welcome. Once a week or so I get a chance to sit down with Scott and watch 1 or 2 hours of TV. It would be great if we could spend at least half of it actually WATCHING a movie instead of trying to think of something to watch.
So back to the cauliflower. Baking sheet, oil, salt, pepper, curry powder. Yes yes yes.
Curry Roasted Cauliflower
Makes 1 serving 4 servings
- 1 Head Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- a sprinkling of salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Cut the stem off of the cauliflower. Trim the dry end from the stem, then use the tip of your knife to separate the little blooms of cauliflower from the stem. Slice them in half when necessary to make them all bite-sized. Dice the leftover stem. (That is - if you are into eating the stem - if not, chuck it. I won't tell anyone.)
- Toss the chopped cauliflower with the oil, then add the curry powder, salt, and pepper, then toss again until the curry powder coats the cauliflower pretty evenly.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat mat. Spread the cauliflower over the sheet evenly.
- Roast for 20 to 40 minutes (depending on how you like it cooked). Roast 20 minutes for chewy cauliflower and 40 minutes for crispy cauliflower. 30 minutes will get you somewhere in between.
- Taste, and add a little more salt if it seems at all bland. A little crushed red pepper wouldn't hurt either.
I really have a thing for orange colored foods. Sweet potatoes, carrot juice, nacho cheese... Whether you are talking about health food or junk food the color orange is usually a sure-fire sign that I'll like it. That's one reason why I make soup from root veggies so often. Besides my natural affinity to warm colored vegetables I find these soups to be stupid easy to make and extremely versatile when it comes to flavoring. I've made about a zillion variation on the basic pureed veggie and stock combo. I've added curry spices, cheese and broccoli, and even miso. It seems like every time I turn around I'm making an orange colored soup.
This soup is a little extra vibrant thanks to some fresh turmeric. Turmeric not only adds a bright, sunny flavor to this soup, but is also valued for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Between an ongoing lack of sleep and hours spent everyday hunched over a tiny little person I have my fair share of aches and pains. Add to that discomfort my battle with Austin's dreaded Cedar Fever and you've pretty much sussed out my motivation for making a batch of turmeric soup. I'm inflamed, baby, and I need something to bring that mess down a notch.
By the way, I thought of calling this stuff Sunshine Soup because it's flavor struck me as bright. Turmeric has a taste that is hard to describe - the closest adjective I can seem to muster is sunny. Thus Sunshine Soup. Some Googling revealed several other recipes for Sunshine Soup, but none of them seemed to be anything alike, so I'm guessing that the title isn't really officially attached to any particular soup yet. When it goes for a vote, remember me. Turmeric = sunny = sunshine soup. Makes sense, yes?
Butternut Sunshine Soup
Makes about six one-cup servings
- 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 large sweet onion (vidalia is best, but yellow will do), peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil/fat (grapeseed, olive, bacon fat, or melted butter)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry sage powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 quart stock or broth (I used chicken, but veggie would be fine)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon dry turmeric
- the juice from one lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the squash, onion, and garlic with the oil, spices, salt, and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the roasted squash to a large soup or stock pot along with the stock/broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add turmeric, then using a stick (or immersion) blender, puree the soup until totally smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
After the many indulgences of the holiday season (and there WERE many) I've been trying to make an effort to get back on the path to losing weight. So, salads. Salads were the key to my staying healthy during pregnancy, so turning to them once more seems wise - not to mention tasty. I find a good salad to be extremely satisfying. It can hit all the right spots: sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, hearty...
Of course, you can't just throw some lettuce in a bowl. A proper entree salad needs something more. Lydia over at The Salad Diaries has got the right idea. If you need a little salad inspiration head over to her blog or follow her on Instagram. I started following her a while back and find her passion for salad to be infectious - just what I need after a season spent letting my bad habits run amok.
Anyway, THIS salad is a good one. I used a store-bought poppyseed dressing because homemade vinnaigrettes are not really part of my post-baby life at the moment. It's sad when you can't spare two minutes to whip up a salad dressing but there it is. Shit is getting real around here. As for YOU, I'd suggest anything on the sweet and sour side. Poppyseed, balsamic, fruity vinnaigrette, that sort of thing.
The pickled beets are what make this salad special. They go really nicely with salty feta and crisp, sweet carrots. Fresh berries and crunchy nuts would also be nice things to add, if you have them. I've been enjoying variations of this salad topped with sliced turkey, leftover roast chicken, and in my dreams - a lovely hunk of sockeye salmon with nice crunchy skin. (A girl on a tight grocery budget can dream.)
Quick Pickled Beets
- 1 large beet, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 ounces rice vinegar
- 4 ounces water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
- Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and spices in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.
- Stir in the beets, then let the mixture cool to room temperature. The beets can then be chilled in the fridge until use. (They'll stay good for about two weeks. After that they may get mushy.)
Spinach Salad with Quick Pickled Beets
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 raw carrot, shredded, thinly sliced or spiral cut
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta
- 1/8 cup pickled beets
- Dressing to taste
- Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and devour promptly.
Disclosure: The giveaway below is sponsored by World Vision, a Christian charity. World Vision provided me with a set of spoons to photograph and keep and is supplying the second set to be given away.
I'm on a diet right now - a strict diet, and I have a lot of feelings about that. Rather than prattle on and on, I'll sum it all up via haiku.
Nutrient dense food
A bottomless appetite
I would kill for pie
Are you feeling me? I know you get it. I'm dreaming of pizza, but instead I'm eating this kale salad here. Yeah I know, another kale salad. I promise to branch out to other greens as soon as this baby stops sleeping on my chest six hours a day. Until then, kale.
Lemon Cashew Ceasar Salad with Roasted Squash
Makes about four servings
- 1 bunch of organic kale (because I think organic kale tastes better)
- 1 acorn squash, sliced and seeded
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil/fat (I used bacon fat because paleo - but any fat or oil will do)
- 1/2 cup cashews (either raw or roasted will do fine)
- 1/4 cup almond oil (or another healthy fat - virgin olive would be nice)
- 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce, or the paleo-friendly sub of your choice)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400. Spread the sliced squash onto a baking sheet, brush with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 - 40 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Combine the cashews, almond oil, tamari, fish sauce, and lemon juice in a blender. Puree until smooth. If there are still some cashew chunks in it, that's OK. You just want to make sure and get a good portion of it blended into the dressing.
- Add salt and pepper to the dressing to taste, adding less salt (or maybe even none at all) if the nuts you are using were already salted.
- Rinse the kale, then tear the leaves from the hard spines. Discard the spines (or feed them to your dog if they are veggie-inclined. Or save them for juicing. Or use them as alternative drum sticks. It's your life, baby.)
- Smash the kale leaves in your hands until they soften up. Tear them into bite-sized pieces, then toss them with the blended dressing. You don't have to use all of the dressing. Just add it to taste. The flavor is pretty strong.
- Top the salad with the roasted squash, which you will need to gently nudge from its peel as you eat. You could try to peel the squash prior to roasting - but only if you are in the mood to drive yourself crazy. Acorn squashes are hard to peel.
Did you notice the lovely hand carved serving spoons in my salad bowl? Those were gifted to me by World Vision Gifts, a Christian charity shopping site that helps provide food and emergency assistance to people in need.
You can buy small gifts, like these wooden spoons or other home goods and accessories or you can make direct donations to fund the purchase of livestock or the digging of a well in places where help is needed most. You can even donate to feed hungry kids here in the United States.
So, instead of stuffing your husband's stocking with bacon-shaped band-aids or provacatively shaped beer cozies you can make a donation on his behalf that will give another human being something they actually need.
Win these spoons!
To help spread the word about World Vision, I have another set of these lovely hand carved wooden serving spoons to give away. Just leave a comment telling me about the silliest gift you ever gave or received. I'll pick a winner in two weeks, on Wednesday, 10/29.
If I had to describe myself based on a defining skill, I'd have to say that I'm an idea person at heart. Nothing really gets me going like a good brainstorming session. My husband shares the same over-active imagination. We've spent many a road trip engineering make-believe business plans, inventing impossible machines, or dreaming up imaginary characters and stories.
When it comes to food, coming up with new ideas can be trickier than you might think. Thanks to the internet, it seems like almost everything has been done before. So when I come up with something new, I try to stay away from Google while I'm working things out. Nothing takes the winds out of my sails like finding out that my great new idea has been done umpteen times before.
This soup, for example, was a fairly simple thing, but its newness gave me a thrill. I steamed the squash, pushed it through a food mill, then whisked it together with chicken broth and miso paste. I tasted it, then decided to add a little salt and a splash of sesame oil. Developing this recipe wasn't rocket science, but with my belly full of warm soup I felt kind of like a genius anyway.
Now that I finished making my soup I Googled a bit and found that, yes, other people have had this idea as well. You can check out recipes from my fellow soup geniuses here:
By the way, HELLO food mills! Where have they been all my life? A big thanks to Aneelee for letting me borrow hers. I'm now in love with pushing food through mesh.
Simple Acorn Squash & Miso Soup
Makes about three cups
Last week the folks over at Ulysses Press hooked me up with a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go. At first glance, I thought the concept was a little silly. I mean, do we really need to put EVERYTHING in mason jars? But when I read the introduction it made me stop for a moment and consider Juliana's reasoning.
It actually makes perfect sense to pack salads ahead of time in glass jars. First off, salads in jars are visually appealing - which really helps boost morale when you are looking at a whole week of salads for lunch. (We all know that we'd really rather be looking at five giant sandwiches - at least I would.)
Packing the ingredients tightly, and in a thoughtful order, helps keep the ingredients fresh and crisp, a challenge for salads made ahead of time. Jar salads also provide a clever solution for the problem of portable dressing. Rather than carrying around an extra container or stashing a bottle of dressing at the office, you can layer the dressing into the jar on the very bottom where it won't soggy up the greens.
So, after being won over by these very convincing arguments, I decided to try out a recipe. The Kale and Avocado Salad looked promising since I'm a fan of pretty much anything that involves avocado and lemons. My jar looked a little scant, so I added a couple of extras: 1/3 cup blueberries and 1/3 cup sunflower sprouts. The verdict? Tasty. Pretty. Win!
Juliana's original recipe for this salad follows. (Posted here with permission from Ulysses Press.)
Ulysses Press is providing a free book to one of my lucky readers, so be sure and enter the giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. Let me know what kind of salad you like best, and I'll drop your name in the hat.
A winner will be selected and contacted privately next Monday, September 1. Please check your email. If I don't hear back from the winner, I'll wait five days before passing the prize on to someone else.The giveaway is over. Thanks for your comments! The winner was Julie!
Kale & Avocado Salad (In a Mason Jar)
Makes 1 serving
- 1 avocado
- 2 1⁄2 cups kale leaves
- 3 tablespoons Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1⁄3 cup sliced red onion
- 1 quart-size Mason jar
- Cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. Using a spoon, remove the avocado flesh from the outer skin; cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and set aside.
- Remove the center ribs from the kale leaves and cut them into 11⁄2- to 2-inch pieces. Kale is best when lightly massaged to take away some of the toughness, so place the leaves in a bowl and gently rub them together with your hands to soften them. Be careful not to massage them too much, especially if you’re planning to eat the salad toward the end of the coming week.
- Layer the ingredients in the jar, starting with your dressing, then adding the onion and the kale. Finish with the diced avocado on top. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
- This salad is delicious made with mango, too! Cube a 1⁄2 cup of mango and add it on top of the kale. Top the salad with the avocado.
- Avocados will last about 3 days in a Mason jar, but it will depend on the avocados’ freshness. I don’t recommend using super ripe avocados if you aren’t planning on eating the salad the next day.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Whisk together the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking, until the dressing thickens.
Who has the best kale salad in Austin? This is a debate that I never would have expected myself to weigh in on. Kale is one of those vegetables that people love to love - maybe too much. While I can get down with kale now and again, I'm always a little suspicious of those who purport to LOVE kale. Kale is your favorite? Really? I mean, it's OK and everything, but compared to pizza, kale is practically inedible.
Besides, it's kind of bitter, and hopelessly chewy. If anything, kale is an underdog in the world of greenery. Roast it or toast it, and I'll chomp it down. Smash it and thrash it, and I'll drink it up - but kale salad? Yeah, never been a big fan. That is, until I tasted The Soup Peddler's Kneel Before Kale Salad. So sweet! So tender! So enjoyable! Maybe I do love kale salad after all?
I must, because here I am sharing this recipe with you - a recipe for a salad that I just can't stop eating.
Sweet & Savory Kale Salad
Makes about four 1-cup servings
- 3 cups raw kale
- 1/3 cup pepitas (or sunflower seeds)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup red onion, minced
- 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons marmalade or fruit butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by showing your kale who's boss. Rip out the spine (thick stem) from each leaf, then chop it roughly into bite-sized pieces. Next, squeeze the bejeezus out of the chopped leaves. I like to mash it up in my hand and then rub it between my palms. Some people refer to this process as "massaging", but if I paid someone in a spa to do this to me I would be pretty pissed off.
- Next, warm a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas, and toss until lightly toasted. Once you can smell them, they are done. Remove them from the skillet right away, and set them aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and lemon juice. Add the marmalade or fruit butter. (I used peach butter, but something like orange marmalade or apricot jam would work just as well.) Season the dressing with a pinch of salt and some black pepper, then whisk again.
- Combine the kale, pepitas, cranberries, and onions in a large mixing bowl, then add about half of your dressing. Toss the salad to coat it evenly, then give it a taste. You can add the rest of the dressing if you'd like, or leave it on the dry side.
This week's guest post is from Nelly at Aneelee. Aneelee is a family-friendly vegetarian food blog where Nelly shares tasty recipes, weekly meal plans, and stories from her family kitchen. Keeping up with Aneelee is a treat for me since Nelly and I share the same CSA. I often check out her blog for inspiration on how to use up my own share of fresh local veggies. This delicious soup is a great example of the kind of healthy, delicious fare you'll find there. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Nelly!