Original Recipe: Heart-Warming Fall Veggie Soup

Hi, friends!

I’ll start by, as always, apologizing for the delay in posting. My, how time flies! I have this ongoing list of great blog post ideas, and I need to start crossing it off. I’m the worst procrastinator.

I couldn’t wait to share this soup with you, so it had to be first. I’m excited about it for two reasons: 1) here in Virginia it’s PERFECT soup weather, so I crave it constantly and 2) my improvised on-the-spot recipe came out really, really good.  Soup is a filling yet typically lower calorie meal choice, making it ideal if you’re watching your weight or trying to eat “clean.” A good soup should have lean protein, preferably some type of beans, and lots, and lots, and LOTS of veggies — like this one!

I’ll get to the point (and likely why you’re here) — the recipe! This is ridiculously easy and a fantastic way to clean out that crisper drawer. Feel free to experiment using other assortments of vegetables, depending on what you have available.

Start with your veggie line-up. The amount used here made about 10 cups of soup, enough for at least a week’s worth of lunches.

Turnips, carrots, and kale, oh my!

Turnips, carrots, and kale, oh my!

  1. Chop into cubes: 1 large Yukon gold potato, 2 turnips. Place in crockpot.
  2. Make a mirepoix: Finely chop 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 1/2 an onion, 2 cloves garlic. Saute in 1 Tbsp olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add to crockpot.
  3. Pour in: 1 quart unsalted vegetable broth, 1 cup water, and 2 cans chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  4. Season: black pepper, pinch of sea salt, 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp oregano (or use 1 drop Young Living Oregano essential oil)
  5. Turn crockpot to high and let it do its thing for the next 3 hours.
    Get it cookin'!

    Get it cookin’!

     

  6. Using an immersion blender, puree some of the chunks of soup. (I just pushed some of the potatoes/turnips/chick peas to the bottom and then turn the blade on. Do this maybe 6 times.) This gives great texture to the soup.
  7. Rinse and chop 1 large bunch of kale. Throw the stems in there too — they’ll soften right up!
  8. Turn crockpot down to low; add kale. Cook another 30 minutes or so until the kale is softened but still green.Almost done...
  9. Done! Portion out into individual glass containers, or transfer to a large one with a lid. I split this batch up so I could take some for lunch the next day. Will last a good week in the fridge. Whatever you don’t eat, freeze! 20161120_205031There you have it. I’ll be making this one again, for sure! Look for more blogs coming soon. Up next: Healthy holiday dishes! Stay tuned!

Original Recipe: Spicy Marinated Tempeh Tacos

Tacos are one of my favorite foods ever. Well, to be clear, Mexican food is my favorite cuisine, and tacos are way up there on the list. Unfortunately, Mexican food has a reputation for being one of the unhealthiest out there. Fear not! I’m here to change all of that. As my followers know, I love making over foods with a healthy twist, and usually with a vegan spin. Behold — the tempeh taco! Feel free to experiment with different toppings and seasonings. You can even set your dinner up buffet-style and let people build their own taco creations. Endless possibilities!

If you’re not familiar with tempeh, it is a sort of cake made of compressed soybeans. It is gluten-free, cholesterol-free, packed with protein , and has basically no flavor on its own. This makes it incredibly versatile for everything from tacos to vegetarian chili to veggie burgers. The package looks something like this:

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Spicy Marinated Tempeh Tacos

Serves 3 (or two if you’re really hungry!)

Prep time: 10 minutes                Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 6 small corn tortillas (soft or crunchy; I prefer them soft) or 4 soft taco-size flour tortillas

Toppings

  • Shredded Napa cabbage
  • Guacamole or chopped avocado
  • Sauteed mushrooms, peppers, and/or onions
  • Taco sauce
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Vegan shredded cheese, such as Daiya
  • Cashew cheese (see my mac n’ cheese recipe for how to make this)

Directions: Cut the tempeh in half lengthwise, then cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Place in a shallow bowl and add the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, and sriracha. Set aside and let it do its thing for a few minutes.

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Heat 1 Tbsp of good olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. While oil is heating, chop cabbage and other desired toppings. When pan is hot, add tempeh in a single layer, stirring every  minute or so. Cook about 5 minutes until most of sauce is absorbed, like so:

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Quickly toast the tortillas in the toaster oven until warm but firm enough to hold your toppings. Add whatever you like and chow down!

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My style: cabbage, sauteed mushrooms and onions, cheddar-style Daiya, and cilantro. I also used flour tortillas because that’s what I had in the house at the time. This is okay 😉 

Product Review: World Peas

20151113_110403 I received a packet of these in my most recent Urthbox (for those not familiar, it’s a subscription that delivers you a little box of vegan snacks every month.) While I’d tried World Peas products before and thought they were good, I had never had the ranch flavor. It should be noted that I’m a sucker for ANYTHING ranch-flavored, so I was thrilled to pull this little bag of goodness out of the Urthbox. I was so impressed with the flavor and nutritional content that I decided to write the company and request some samples. Lucky me — they said yes, and sent me a whole box of these bad boys!! I did a happy dance when I opened the box, for sure! I promised the company a product review, so read on.

Flavor: The peas are crunchy but not dry, and have a great, authentic ranch taste. They taste salty without actually BEING salty. My taste buds were jumping for joy!

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Nutritional value: non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, low sodium, and cholesterol free. There aren’t too many dietary needs that these wouldn’t accommodate.  They might even be Paleo, but I’m no expert in this area. The label may be hard to read, so here is the breakdown:

(per packet)

160 calories, 3 g fat, 230 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Are they a nutritional powerhouse? No…..but as a salty snack goes, these still blow chips out of the water. You won’t find many chips with this type of protein content, so that was a big plus for me. The protein in these will fill you up longer (the fiber helps too) and you’re saving a significant amount of fat as well. For comparison, standard snack chips have 7-8 grams of fat per serving.

Price: The company website sells these for $15 for a pack of 12, which equivocates to $1.25 per 1.2-oz serving. Vitacost also sells a 5.5-oz bag for $3.69. Overall, these are a good value.

Convenience: I’m the weirdo who always keeps snacks in my glove compartment, so these fit the bill perfectly. (I have two of these in there right now, in fact.) Portable and healthy is an important combination!

The World Peas Snacks company urges you to “go ahead and give peas a chance.” I would have to agree!

Spinach enchiladas with spicy corn – original recipe

This is one of my favorite recipes to make, and since I made it tonight, I decided I needed to post it already! Mexican food was always a vice of mine, so I’ve had to find ways to eat it often without facing serious weight gain. Quesadillas, enchiladas, and even taco salads can be loaded with fat and calories, thanks to the cheese and/or fried tortillas. The solution: make it myself and veganize it! These are very easy to make, and go well with a variety of sides.

They got a little messy this time around, but I assure you they tasted amazing!

They got a little messy this time around, but I assure you they tasted amazing!

Makes 8 enchiladas

For the enchiladas:

1 small onion, chopped
2 lbs baby spinach
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 corn tortillas
1 can red enchilada sauce
1/2 cup Daiya, any flavor (or other dairy-free cheese)
1/4 cup cashew cheese, optional* (see below)

For the corn:
2 cups frozen or fresh sweet corn
1 tsp vegan butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Pinch of sea salt

*1 hour before beginning preparation, boil raw cashews in water for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let soak as long as possible until needed. May also soak overnight in the fridge in an airtight container.
To make cashew cheese: Combine soaked and drained cashews in a food processor with 1/4 cup water, 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and a pinch of sea salt. Process until smooth. Set aside.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Saute onions and garlic with a small amount of olive oil. When translucent, add cumin and chili powder and stir to coat. Slowly add in spinach, cooking until wilted. Drain off any remaining water and keep warm. Spray a large skillet and a 9×12 baking dish with non-stick spray. Lightly fry tortillas on both sides until slightly crispy. Pour enchilada sauce into a bowl and stir in nutmeg. One at a time, dip tortillas in enchilada sauce and place in the baking dish. Place some of the spinach mixture in the center and top with Daiya and cashew cheese. Roll up, and repeat this process until all are done. Spoon any remaining enchilada sauce on top, and sprinkle some more Daiya for good measure. Pop ’em in the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.

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Meanwhile, melt vegan butter over medium in a small saucepan. Stir in cumin, then add corn and cayenne and stir to coat. Heat 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Serve meal with sliced avocado.
Other great side dishes include pinto or black beans, Mexican-style brown rice, or diced potatoes.

A more attractive attempt, when I made served with pinto beans with tomatoes and Mexican-style brown rice.

A previous, more attractive attempt, served with pinto beans with tomatoes and Mexican-style brown rice.

Breakfast, baby!

I’m stuck at home after a snowstorm, so I had to take advantage and post this because I’ve been talking about it forEVER. Breakfast is my favorite meal of all time, and I’ve been saving up tons of pictures for this post. Most of these I’ve made up, but if it is a recipe and I have online access to it, I will provide the link or at least tell you where it came from. Why should you eat breakfast? What should a healthy breakfast contain? Your burning questions answered and your taste buds tantalized!

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Vegan oatmeal-banana pancakes with figs and strawberries – recipe from Moosewood Collective Cookbook and is in an earlier blog post 🙂

Now, the FAQs:

Does it really matter if you eat breakfast?

In a word, yes!! Think about it — you’ve been sleeping for (hopefully at least eight) hours, and your body is ready to replenish. If you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism still thinks you’re asleep and therefore conserves any energy it would release to your cells. Breakfast — BREAK the FAST — is meant to give you that kick start so you will start using energy, and therefore, burning calories. Studies have shown people who eat breakfast are leaner for this very reason. In addition, breakfast eaters have improved mood, increased concentration, and get fewer headaches than those who skip it. If you’re stomach isn’t growling, you can focus on what you’re supposed to be doing at work/school/whatever it is you do all day 🙂 With children, all of the above benefits are shown as well as better test performance. It’s a win-win, really!

What should I be eating?

Breakfast should contain 2-3 food groups, two of which should be carbohydrates and lean proteins or healthy fats. The third is usually fruit or a dairy/dairy equivalent. Carbohydrates provide that cell energy, protein/fat keeps you full, and fruit gets some vitamins and fiber into your system. Choose from the following foods to maximize the benefits. Avoid greasy meats, large quantities of cheese, pastries, donuts, biscuits, or anything else with a high fat or sugar content. This will just cause a blood sugar crash and subsequent sleepiness, which is definitely counterproductive!

I’m not hungry in the morning. Do I still need to eat?

Again, yes! For some people, it takes a little training to get your stomach used to it. Start with something small, like a fruit & almond milk smoothie or a slice of toast with peanut butter. After about a week, you will start waking up hungry and ready to take on something bigger. Remember, you’re not trying to pack in a whole day’s worth of calories. 300-350 is plenty for more people, but if you exercise early in the day, go up to around 500 calories.

Build your Breakfast!

Carbs: Oatmeal, high-fiber cereal (5 g fiber or more), sprouted grain bread (like Ezekiel), whole-grain bagel or English muffin, stone-ground grits (NOT instant), whole-grain waffles or pancakes (such as Kashi), flatbread, wrap.

Proteins: Eggs (free range for better cholesterol content), egg whites, tofu, quinoa, organic cheese, low fat organic milk, soy milk, Greek yogurt, soy yogurt.

Healthy fats: Nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, avocado, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut shreds or oil

The combinations are almost endless. Get creative, and feel free to veer away from traditional breakfast foods. As long as it meets the above criteria, you can basically eat anything. I know people who don’t like breakfast food, and end up eating last night’s leftovers instead. Again, the rules are yours to make, but make sure to get your 3 food groups!

All of the following meals take less than 5 minutes to prepare, making them perfect for busy weekday mornings! All pictures are mine. I’m getting better at food photography, I think!

Gluten-free rolled oats with chunky almond butter, hempseeds, and pomegranate stewed apples

Gluten-free rolled oats with chunky almond butter, hempseeds, and pomegranate stewed apples

Avocado on Ezekiel bread with a clementine

Mashed avocado on Ezekiel bread with a clementine

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Blueberry soy yogurt with muesli, dried cherries, and pomegranate arils

Half a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and sliced apple

Half a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and sliced apple

A less traditional route: Mashed sweet potato with raisins, walnuts, and a little maple syrup.

A less traditional route: Mashed sweet potato with raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup.

Smoothie bowl: Beets, banana, strawberries, hemp, and chia seeds. Sprinkled with granola for some crunch.

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Kashi waffle sandwich with almond butter and banana

Peach-mango soy yogurt, chia/hemp seeds, dried persimmons and oat clusters

Peach-mango soy yogurt, chia/hemp seeds, dried persimmons and oat clusters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a little more time or can prepare ahead, you can make some more fun stuff like pancakes and breakfast breads. I absolutely LOVE these two recipes from Ceara’s Kitchen:

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Flourless Pumpkin Pancakes with almond butter, pumpkin butter, and chocolate chips. On the side – a beet, berry, and chia smoothie. These pancakes are made in the blender and are SO easy and SO amazingly delicious. This picture actually made me a pseudo-celebrity on Instagram, and was reposted by Ceara herself!

 

 

Vegan Banana Oat Breakfast Cake. I baked this last night and we ate half of it immediately! Great by itself or with a smear of vegan cream cheese or almond butter.

Vegan Banana Oat Breakfast Cake. I baked this last night and we ate half of it immediately! Great by itself or with a smear of vegan cream cheese or almond butter.

Links to recipes:

http://www.cearaskitchen.com/healthy-vegan-banana-oat-breakfast-cake/

http://www.cearaskitchen.com/pumpkin-oat-blender-pancakes-flour-free-gluten-free-vegan/

With awesome foods like this, fast food is COMPLETELY unnecessary and obsolete. If you don’t even have five minutes to make something, keep low-sugar, high-protein bars like Clif, Larabar, Kind, or your other preferred brand in the pantry. Also have plenty of fresh fruit, so you can grab a bar and a banana on your way out the door. This way, your belly is happy and you can confidently drive right past that drive-thru!

That’s all, folks. Happy breakfast-ing!!

Original Recipe: Vegetarian Chili-Cornbread Casserole

I know, I know, I promised you a breakfast post. It’s coming, I swear!!

I posted this on Instagram last week and said I would provide the recipe, so first thing’s first! This casserole was a dish I made for my department’s holiday party. Of the 20+ people in the department, I am definitely the only vegetarian. I had to come up with something that I could eat, but that the others would too. Enter this brilliantly easy and delicious recipe. It is perfect for gatherings of any kind — football party, potluck, etc.

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Vegetarian Chili-Cornbread Casserole

Serves 8 (or 4 as a main dish)

Filling:

2 cups cooked beans (I used black and garbanzo, but feel free to use whatever you have around)

1 cup sweet corn

1 can organic diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup Quorn crumbles (may use other brands, this is just my preference as it lacks processed soy)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Topping:

Non-GMO cornbread mix of your choice (I used Pamela’s cornbread and muffin mix, which is gluten free. I have a coworker with celiac.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a deep saucepan. Add onions and saute 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add Quorn, tomatoes, beans, corn, and seasonings and stir to combine. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cornbread according to package directions. Pour bean mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish. Top with cornbread mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve hot. Serve as is or with desired toppings, such as chopped avocado. Watch it disappear! (Tip: your husband, kids, anyone else will not even know it’s vegetarian. Score!) This also makes great leftovers (if there are any) for your vegan lunchbox the next day!

 

 

Original Recipe: Quinoa Enchilada Bowl

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Hooray, another Jean’s Kitchen original!! I made this up yesterday morning while scrambling to make something to take to work for lunch. I have a terrible tendency to just throw things together without measuring, so I’ve done my best to get the quantities right for you. This was delicious and super filling. Took it for lunch to share with the girls (aka the other dietitians) and it was a hit with them, too!

Makes 2 hearty servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa                                                 1/2 cup enchilada sauce

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth                                   2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup cannellini beans                                                        1 tsp chili powder                                              

1/2 onion, chopped                                                           1/2 tsp cumin

1 bell pepper, chopped                                                     1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 roma tomato, chopped                                                    1/2 cup cilantro, chopped                       

Cook quinoa (using broth instead of water) according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add peppers and all seasonings except cilantro and mix well. Saute an additional 2 minutes, then add the beans, tomato, and enchilada sauce. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. 

Place quinoa into the bottom of a bowl. Pour bean mixture on top. Top with additional cilantro and chopped avocado, if desired. 

 

Original Recipe: Cherry Berry Overnight Oats

I usually steal recipes, but I’m proud to say this one is all mine! 

I’ve tried many different recipes for overnight oats; some I’ve loved, some not so much. I played around a little bit and came up with my ideal version — hope you like it as much as I did!

Ingredients: 

1 cup rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great gluten-free version)

 1 cup almond milk (alternative — you can use milk and/or Greek yogurt if you’re not vegan)

1/4 cup chia seeds

 1 cup organic unsweetened applesauce

(This makes about 3 servings)

Place all ingredients into a mason jar (this is what I used, because I’m country like that) or other airtight container. Stir well to combine. Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight. 

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Before mixing

In the morning, take it out and you shall see that it is “magicially” thickened and softened. Spoon out about 1/3 of the mixture into a bowl. This is where you can really take some creative liberties. Experiment with different types of fruits, nuts, seasonings, or nut butters. To make it according to what I did, add:

1/4 cup dried tart cherries

2 Tbsp walnuts

Dollop of homemade strawberry chia jam (from Oh She Glows, naturally!)

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Before devouring

Eat up, buttercup.

I didn’t think it needed any sweetener added to it because of the fruit, but this is up to you. 

Side note: This fills me up! This is important — I usually get hungry about 2-3 hours after breakfast. I can go at least 4 with this in my fuel tank.

Have a healthy, happy day! It’s guaranteed with a breakfast like this!

Almond Butter Chocolate-Chip cookies – from Oh She Glows

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Photo credit: Angela Liddon (Oh She Glows cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup coconut oil or vegan butter
1/4 cup almond butter (I like Justin’s Maple flavor)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats*
1 cup almonds (unsalted)*
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

*Put oats and almonds into a food processor and grind into a flour.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed with 3 Tbsp water and set aside to thicken.
In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and almond butter. Add sugar and syrup and beat an additional minute. Then beat in the flaxseed mixture and vanilla. One by one, beat in the baking powder, soda, salt, and oat/almond flour. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Form into 1-inch balls (I use a small melon baller) and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. They will be very soft. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

Now, the challenge — try not to eat them all at once! Take them to work or put some in the freezer so you’re not tempted. Enjoy!

New product review: Raw Revolution

Today, I am reviewing a bar I just tried for the first time. It’s an exciting day! (At least for me!)
Generally, I’m not the type of person to choose a bar over, say, nuts or fresh fruit as a snack. I also don’t insist upon gluten-free, since I don’t have celiac disease and there’s little evidence to support a gluten-free diet otherwise. However, I also cannot resist a good bargain, so when I saw these on one of my discount shopping websites, I had to try it.

raw revolution

Initially, my inner skeptic thought, “it’s vegan, raw, gluten free, and on sale, so it probably tastes terrible.” I am pleased to report that I was proven wrong. It was both chewy and crunchy with nice chunks of almonds. The raspberry flavor was perfectly balanced with the chocolate. It was pretty amazing, really.

Here’s the breakdown:

What I liked:
1) The flavor, obviously. You can’t really go wrong with anything called chocolate truffle. This particular brand comes in other flavors, too.
2) There are exactly eight ingredients: cashews, sunflower seeds, agave, dates, cocoa, almonds, raspberry powder, and flax (all organic!). I’m big on simplicity and pronounceability, so they got major points for this.
3) It actually filled me up. I’m known for being kind of a “bottomless pit”, so this is impressive. It’s been an hour since I’ve eaten it and I still feel satisfied.

What I didn’t like:
Honestly, there wasn’t really anything I didn’t like. I’m not sure how much these cost in retail, but I’m willing to bet they’re quite a bit more than what I paid. (I got them at http://www.zulily.com for about $10 for a box of 12.)

Basic Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 5 g fiber, 7 g protein, 11 g unsaturated fats (including omega-3s from the flax, bonus!)

The bottom line: Worth it! If you can find these at a reasonable price, go for it. (Or go for it anyway if you don’t care about price!)
I look forward to trying some of the other flavors if I can find them on sale.