We are in serious soup weather right now. As I write this, it feels like negative 15 degrees outside (no that’s not a typo). Fortunately this cold spell isn’t supposed to last more than 24 hours, but yikes that’s cold! It’s safe to say I will not be venturing out today. Days like this call for hot tea, a cozy fire, and homemade soup. Lots and lots of soup. Continue reading “Curried Lentil Soup”
So somehow it’s Friday again already. I’m not complaining because it’s my favorite day of the week (well maybe after Saturday). I’m just wondering where the days went! This week seemed to go by in a blur for some reason. Anyone else?
Anyway, I’m popping in today to share one of my favorite new-to-me recipes, courtesy of my mother-in-law, Carol. When Carol came to visit us shortly after we had Jackson (back in 2016), she made a pasta dish for dinner one night that completely knocked my socks off. It was essentially just pasta tossed with sauteed vegetables that were seasoned with olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. If it sounds super basic, that’s because it is, but don’t let that fool you! The flavor is fantastic. I was honestly surprised at how much I liked it because I’m typically much more of a tomato sauce person when it comes to pasta and never choose to order an olive oil-based dish when I go to restaurants. I liked it so much, though, that I’ve now added the recipe to my shortlist of standbys, and I request it every time Carol comes to stay with us! Continue reading “Lentil Pasta Primavera (Vegan & Gluten Free)”
We’re sick with colds over here, AGAIN. That makes the second time in a month! I think we have daycare germs to thank for that. Normally a cold is no big deal, but when you’re pregnant and are so limited in what you can take to get relief, it can be pretty miserable. In my first pregnancy, I somehow didn’t get sick once, but so far in my second pregnancy, I’ve been sick a number of times and it’s not pleasant! I like to turn to natural remedies as much as possible even when I’m not expecting, but while pregnant, I don’t have much of a choice. Earlier in the week when I was feeling particularly lousy, I decided to make a batch of soup in an effort to relieve some of my congestion. There’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of homemade soup when you’re sick and stuffy! Although chicken soup gets all the glory, veggie-based soups are packed with immune-boosting ingredients to help get you well in a flash.
There’s nothing fancy about this veggie and soba noodle soup I’m sharing today, but sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. This soup contains onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, all warming ingredients that can help with immunity, plus carrots, kale and broccoli, which are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients. It’s filling and satisfying without being heavy, and offers the comfort that comes with homemade soup.
One side note about garlic. I learned from my sister (who is a nutritionist) years ago that if you really want to get the most out of garlic when it comes to immunity, you need to eat it raw. I know this isn’t the most appetizing way to eat garlic, but there are ways to make it more palatable. After chopping a couple cloves into small pieces and letting it sit for about 15 minutes, which apparently boosts its healthy compounds, I like to mix it into some hummus and eat it on a few crackers. It’s pungent, for sure, but edible. Obviously when you’re already sick with something it’s not going to magically cure you, but if you eat some raw garlic at the first signs of illness, I think it can definitely help! I had some in addition to the cooked garlic in the soup for an extra boost. Bad-breath aside, it always seems to make me feel a little better. Anyway, I hope you’re managing to stay well this winter and if you decide to try this soup, be sure to let me know!
- 2 cups yellow onion, chopped (about two medium onions)
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp low sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 8-oz. package soba noodles
- 2 cups frozen chopped kale (I used Whole Foods’ Organic Blue Curled Kale)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups frozen broccoli
- Add a couple tablespoons of vegetable broth to the bottom of a large pot to prevent sticking (or add a bit of olive oil) and toss in the chopped onions and garlic.
- Let the onions and garlic saute for a few minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally, and then add in the carrots, ginger, and turmeric. Continue cooking and stirring for about five more minutes and then add in the vegetable broth and tamari (or soy sauce).
- Bring broth to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook until the carrots are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- While the broth is cooking, prepare the soba noodles in a separate pot based on the package directions and set aside (I like to keep the broth and noodles separate so that the noodles don’t get mushy but you could cook the noodles in the soup if desired).
- Once the broth is about done, add in the frozen vegetables (kale, peas, and broccoli) and let cook for about 4-5 more minutes, until the vegetables are heated through.
- To serve, add soba noodles to the bowls and then top with broth.
*Adapted from Fork, Knife, Swoon’s Ginger Miso Soba Soup
Today I’m excited to share an easy plant-based meal that’s as healthy as it is delicious. Let me start off by saying that I am in no way against traditional pasta. While it has been demonized and many people won’t touch it with a ten foot pole, I think pasta can actually make for a very nutritious meal, and I eat it often. However, there’s no denying that pasta is dense and there are times when I want something a little lighter, especially after the holidays. Enter spaghetti squash! With a mild flavor and pleasant texture, it’s the perfect canvas for a savory tomato sauce. Although it’s very low in calories (under 50 calories per cup), I find spaghetti squash to be very satisfying, particularly in the the cold winter months.
If you’re thinking that spaghetti squash is a pain to prep, I get it (it used to intimidate me and I never bought it), but I assure you it’s easy! You have three options for cooking it: One is to cut the squash in half and bake it, two is to bake the squash whole, and three is to microwave it. Obviously the easiest route is to throw it in the microwave, but I think it’s worth the additional time and effort to bake it in the oven. In terms of baking it whole vs. cut, if you have a suitable knife, I recommend cutting it in half. For a long time I never bothered and always baked it whole, but after some researching, I learned that cutting the squash allows it to caramelize a bit and results in a more “al dente” texture, whereas baking it whole essentially steams it and leaves you with a softer, wetter texture. Either way works just fine with a sauce, but I prefer firmer “noodles.” It also takes less time to cook when cut in half. The one caveat is that you need a very good, large knife, otherwise cutting through the squash will be nearly impossible. I have been there and it wasn’t pretty!
When it comes to tomato sauce, I love adding mushrooms and lentils for a hearty, healthy, and filling combo. Mushrooms are meaty and a good source of antioxidants, and lentils–packed with protein, fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals–are a nutritional all-star. You could use dry lentils in this recipe and cook them first, but I’m all about easy, so I go with organic canned. Aside from chopping the veggies, there’s not much more to this sauce! Just throw everything in a pan and let it cook. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
So tell me, are you a fan of spaghetti squash? What are some of your favorite spaghetti squash recipes to make at home?
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 1 10-oz package cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms
- 1 25.5-oz jar of basic tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen’s organic tomato basil)
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-oz can lentils
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
For the squash
- Preheat oven to 425
- Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray it with a bit of olive oil.
- If baking the squash whole, pierce the skin in several places and place it on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. Let the squash cool for a few minutes and then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds and pulp. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.
- If baking the squash cut, use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise. If you make shallow cuts along the area you want to cut, the knife should go in a little easier. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rub a little olive oil onto each of the squash halves and then place them cut-side-down on the tin foil.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. This is optional, but I like to turn the squash halves over and let them bake facing up for a few minutes, to crisp up the flesh a little more. Let the squash cool for a few minutes. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.
For the sauce
- Lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil
- Chop the garlic and onion and add to the pan, cooking on medium-low for about five minutes, stirring occasionally
- Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan and stir. Let the vegetables cook for another few minutes.
- Add the jar of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, lentils, and spices, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Top spaghetti squash with sauce.
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday, however you chose to spend it. We party animals over here ordered in Thai and were in bed by 10pm, ha. I’ve never been a huge New Year’s Eve person to begin with and now that I have a little one, it’s all the more reason to lay low and have a relaxing night at home. The freezing cold weather was another motivator for staying in close to the fireplace. Feels like 1 degree? No thank you!
Speaking of the weather, given how frigid it has been the past week, I wanted to make something warming and hearty for dinner New Year’s day. What better than a big pot of chili? This version is packed with fiber-rich beans (three different kinds, in fact!) and veggies to fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours.
It’s also low in sodium and fat. Tomato products tend to be loaded with sodium so I always try to buy versions that are low sodium or no salt added, like I used in this recipe. Personally, I find the other seasonings to add enough flavor that I don’t even add any salt to my bowl, but it’s easy enough to salt it to taste. Best of all, this is beyond easy to throw together and can last for several meals. The next time you’re on the hunt for a wholesome and delicious veggie chili recipe, I hope you give this one a try! If you do, let me know how you like it.
- 2 large yellow onions
- 3 cups of carrots (about 3 large)
- 3 peppers (I used 2 green and 1 red but any combo will work)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 cans kidney beans, no salt added
- 2 cans black beans, no salt added
- 1 can white beans, no salt added
- 3 tbsp chili powder, or to taste
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 16 oz bag of frozen corn (I like the fire roasted kind from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s)
- Spray the bottom of a large soup or stock pot with oil (you can also use veggie broth if you’d prefer not to use oil).
- Chop onions, carrots, peppers, and garlic and add them to the pot. Set on medium/low and let the veggies cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick.
- Add in the diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Drain and rinse the beans and then add them to the pot and stir well.
- Stir in all the spices and let the chili cook on low for about an hour to 90 minutes, until all the veggies are tender.
- Add in the frozen corn and stir again. Leave it for a few minutes to warm.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: This recipe makes a LARGE pot of chili. I always like to make a big batch so that it can provide multiple meals. Sometimes I even freeze some of the leftovers to have later. If you’d rather make a smaller amount, I suggest just halving the recipe.
For some reason I never think to make stuffed peppers, even though they’re one of the easiest and most versatile things to make on the planet. But inspiration struck on Sunday. I had two cored out peppers left over from a crudités platter I bought on Saturday and it was pretty obvious what I should do with them. Based on the ingredients I had lying around, I decided to do a Mexican version with quinoa as the base. A little corn and onion, some black beans, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro, and voila! A delicious and spontaneous meal that was on the table in about 90 minutes.
You can stuff peppers with just about anything you want. Rice is popular, as is ground meat, but I personally love the texture of quinoa and think it works great in this recipe. And you can’t get any easier or healthier than canned beans (just make sure you get beans without salt or any other junk). I chose to use black beans in keeping with the Mexican food theme but you could use any kind of bean you like or even a mixture of beans. Anything goes! If you’re looking for a simple and quick recipe that’s big on flavor, give these stuffed peppers a try.
Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 4-5 large bell peppers
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 15 oz can black beans
- 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
- ⅓ cup chopped red onion
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- A few bunches of fresh cilantro
- Wash peppers, cut their tops off, and discard the seeds. Place peppers on a 13×9 baking dish and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Add quinoa to two cups of water in a pot and bring water to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and cover. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add frozen corn to hot quinoa and stir.
- Transfer quinoa and corn mixture to a mixing bowl.
- Rinse and drain black beans and add to quinoa and corn mixture.
- Add the stewed tomatoes with juices. Slice large tomato chunks into smaller pieces.
- Add red onion, lime juice, and all the spices and cilantro. Mix well.
- Lightly brush outsides of peppers with olive oil and spoon quinoa mixture into each pepper shell until mostly full.
- Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, until peppers are tender.
Note: I’d add avocado to these as a topper but didn’t have any on hand when I made this batch. Although definitely not a necessity, I think avocado would take these peppers to the next level!
We had a few blissfully warm days over the past couple of weeks but this weekend the deep freeze returned, and there’s a snowstorm in the forecast for tomorrow. A really big one apparently. Womp womp. We’re exactly a week away from the first day of spring, so let’s hope this is winter’s last hurrah before the temps start climbing for good. I’m so ready for warm weather and sunshine!
When it’s this cold outside I like to warm up with a nourishing bowl of soup. As much as I like salads, I often crave something hot for dinner in the winter and don’t find salads so appealing. I don’t want to forgo all my veggies though and that’s where soup comes in! A hearty veggie soup packs in loads of healthy and fresh ingredients while offering the comfort of a warm dish. This lentil and green pea veggie soup is a family fave that I make all throughout the winter months. It’s filling and flavorful and incredibly easy. Whenever I’m making soup I always double or triple the recipe and make a giant pot so that we can eat it for several nights. You can also freeze it if you want to have some on hand for later, but we always wind up eating it all and don’t have any left over to freeze!
I didn’t measure the quantity but it makes a lot. I’d guess about 12 cups! If you wind up making it and measure it out, let me know.
Lentil & Green Pea Veggie Soup
- 4 tbsp low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 1.5 cups chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 large sweet potato
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 2 cups uncooked green lentils, rinsed thoroughly
7-8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup frozen spinach
- salt & pepper to taste
- Add 4 tbsp vegetable broth to an extra large skillet or pot placed on medium heat. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, sweet potato, and garlic. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender or at least starting to soften.
- Add 7 cups of vegetable broth to the pot along with the uncooked lentils. Add the curry powder and turmeric.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. If you notice that you need more liquid, add up to a cup more of veggie broth to thin out the soup.
- Add in frozen peas and spinach and stir until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*Adapted from the Oh She Glows Curried Lentil Soup recipe