Tag Archives: Vegan

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup with Garnish

I’m pretty disappointed at the overblown pumpkin frenzy this season.  It came earlier than usual, and everyone is trying to cash in on it.  Sadly, this led to a lot of sub par pumpkin treats – most of which aren’t even reminiscent of pumpkin.  I love the taste of pumpkin.  I mean, I like it sweet, savory, and all by itself.  But even though I look forward to pumpkin season all year, this will likely be the only pumpkin recipe from me until next year.  I’m just over it.  But the recipe I have to share with you today is different from your typical pumpkin pie or muffins.  This is one of the many fantastic ways to use pumpkin in a savory application.  Pumpkin is also an amazing fruit (that’s right – it’s technically a fruit, along with all its squash cousins!) with awesome nutritional qualities!  It’s low in calories (when not in dessert-form), a good source of fiber, and an excellent source of vitamin A.  It also boasts some vitamin C, copper, and manganese in smaller amounts.  Oh, and it’s delicious and versatile!

A few months ago, I bought some toasted pumpkin seed oil, and I’ve been patiently awaiting pumpkin season ever since.  It’s supposed to be excellent for things like salad dressing and pasta, and I have no doubt!  But I really wanted to use it in a soup to compliment pumpkin.  The oil has a rich toasty taste – you can definitely tell its source!  I will be experimenting more with it in the future, for sure.  It has a low smoke point, so it’s not good for high temperature applications, but it’s great for using raw, and for roasting and light sautéing.  You can absolutely make this soup without it, though.

I also recommend using an immersion blender for this recipe, but a plain old blender will work, too.

This soup is the perfect dinner on a cold fall evening.  It’s quick and easy, and the flavors won’t disappoint!  The coconut milk brings a creamy quality to it, without going overboard on calories or cholesterol – and that makes it vegan friendly, too!  You’ll love how filling the soup is, and the slightly spicy notes from the Thai curry paste really complete it.  I used a whole pumpkin that I roasted in the toasted pumpkin seed oil, but canned pumpkin (not pie filling) will work just as well and save time.  I also roasted the pumpkin seeds in the oil, with a little salt and pepper.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my very favorite fall treats, and they make the perfect garnish.  What I learned this year from other bloggers is that there’s no need to drive yourself crazy cleaning the seeds.  Just separate them from the “guts” as much as you can and toss them on a cookie sheet.  No oil really needed, but I’ve been dying to use my new oil!  Roast at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes – toss halfway through.  And that’s it!  Any of the remaining pumpkin pieces roast up nice and crunchy, and you’ll love it!

Now for the main event!

THAI PUMPKIN CURRY SOUP

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup with Garnish Close up

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, Chopped
2 ½ – 3 cups Pumpkin Puree
1 can Lite Coconut Milk
1-2 Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste

Directions

1.  In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion until soft and translucent.

2.  Add pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and red curry paste, and bring to boil.

3.  Blend with immersion blender until smooth.  Alternately, puree soup in blender in small batches.  Return to pot and bring to simmer.

4.  Serve hot, garnished with toasted pumpkin seed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Homemade Vegetable Broth from Scraps

Vegetable Broth from Scraps

It’s been a crazy week!  Well last week was.  Handsome Husband and I took a trip to Boston for the week for some fun-filled touring before the baby comes.  We took in tons of history, and tons of amazing food!  More about the awesome eats next time, once I can get all the pictures organized.  You’ll love it as much as I did, I promise!

I wanted to share this broth with you.  It’s so flavorful, has no sodium, and it’s free!  What could be better to make all your homemade soups with?!  For the broth, you’ll want to start saving all your vegetable scraps – put them in a zipper bag in the freezer until you accumulate enough.

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You can save pretty much anything you want, but you may want to steer clear of vegetable with a very strong flavor, or dark color – like beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, etc.  Feel free to save herbs, onion skins, the insides of peppers, carrot skins, celery leaves, spinach and lettuce.  Just don’t save anything that is passed its prime or moldy, of course.

Throw everything in a big pot with whatever spices you like (bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, etc.), cover with water, and simmer for about an hour.

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Then strain it and cool it.  Pour it into containers or zipper freezer bags.  Store in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for longer.  Probably months to a year, but I bet it won’t last that long!  Tip: If you freeze the broth in freezer bags on their side, once frozen you can stand them up in a line in a basket for easy selection.  This works with all kinds of liquids.  That way, nothing gets stuck forever on the bottom of the pile!

HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH

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Makes: 6-8 cups

Ingredients

4-6 cups vegetable scraps

2 Bay Leaves

5 quarts Cold Water

Directions

1.  Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil.

2.  Reduce temperature and simmer for one hour.

3.  Strain it all through a fine mesh sieve, and press to squeeze out all broth.

4.  Cool completely, and store in freezer bags to containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Happy, healthy eating!

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Garlic Roasted Green Beans

Garlic Roasted Green Beans 1

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you have something amazing planned for the weekend!  It’s going to be chilly and probably rainy here in Pittsburgh.  I think it’s about time to pull all the veggies that are left in the garden into the house soon.  Snow is actually in the forecast for us in the next week.  The time for warming food is pretty much here, but I wanted to share one more “summer-ish” recipe with you before the snow flies.  These were about the last green bean harvest from Dad’s garden for the year.  Truly, fall is upon us. 🙂

I can’t honestly think of any vegetable that’s not amazing roasted in garlic, and these green beans are no exception.  Roasting makes the beans kind of crunchy – I bet you could call them bean fries and the kids would gobble them up (can you tell I’m starting to think about kid foods already?!).  Remember those days of soggy, tasteless, canned vegetables?  This will change your mind about green beans forever.  Promise.  Feel free to experiment with spices, or more or less garlic to suit your taste.  We loved these garlicky beans, and I hope you will, too!

GARLIC ROASTED GREEN BEANS

Garlic Roasted Green Beans 3

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 lb Fresh Green Beans, washed and snapped, if needed

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Place cleaned beans on baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Toss to coat.

2.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt/pepper if desired.

3.  Bake at 425⁰ F for about 20-30 minutes, until baked through and slightly crispy.

Garlic Roasted Green Beans Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Baked Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

Baked Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

I love all things sweet potato.  So when I saw sweet potatoes on sale during a shopping trip, I knew just what they were going to become: fries!  Sweet potato fries are a special treat at county fairs the country over (at least I would guess).  The first place I ever had them was at the Big Butler Fair.  It was love a first taste!

But traditional sweet potato fries are deep fried and so greasy they practically slip right out of your fingers!  Sweet potatoes pack a nutritional punch, but deep frying them adds a ton of fat and calories that won’t help your waistline, and they’re still not crispy.  My version has all the flavor with far less fat and calories – and the fat that is there is ultra-healthy monounsaturated fat (the kind that lowers your cholesterol!).  And sweet potatoes and cinnamon?  Soul mates!

What’s not the love?  And there’s so much flavor here that no sauce or ketchup is needed – which is kind of like heresy here in Pittsburgh (home of Heinz Ketchup)!  No, they don’t get crispy either.  I’m thinking that’s just the nature of sweet potatoes.  But I’m guessing if you’re a fan of sweet potato fries, you don’t care much about that!

Now go pre-heat that oven!

BAKED CINNAMON SWEET POTATO FRIES

Baked Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large Sweet Potato (about 1-1 ½ lbs)

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon

Salt to taste

Directions

1.  Pre-heat oven to 450⁰ F.

2.  Wash and dry sweet potato, and slice julienne style (leave the skin on).

3.  Toss with oil and cinnamon.

4.  Bake for about 60 minutes, turning with a spatula every 15 minutes or so to prevent burning, until soft and browned (they will not get crispy).

Baked Sweet Potato Fries Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Raspberry Mint Chia Pudding

Raspberry Mint Chia Pudding

We have officially entered the dog days of summer here in Pittsburgh!  I’m not complaining at all; in fact, I love this weather!  But I try to institute a “plant shut down” in my kitchen when it’s so hot.  I like fast, easy to prepare foods that don’t need cooking for days like this.  Chia pudding is just that.  I’ve been wanting to try chia pudding for quite sometime now, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time!

Chia seeds are the new “it” food.  You remember those commercials from the 80’s: “Ch-ch-ch-chia!”  That’s what these are!  Chia seeds are native to Mexico and Guatemala and were cultivated by the ancient Aztecs.  They are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids and, unlike flax seeds, do not need to be ground for your body to digest them!  Just one ounce of chia contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 18% of your daily value of calcium, and 30% of your daily value of manganese.  Talk about a powerhouse!

It’s so refreshing, and it really couldn’t be easier to make!  Besides being easy and delicious, it’s healthy and versatile, too!  I had just picked some raspberries from the bushes in my backyard and had some leftover mint from another recipe, so that’s what went in it.  Get creative with this one!

Before I share my recipe, quick update on my garden!  I have definitely learned a lesson in vining plants:

Garden Update

This summer, I will have squash and lemon cucumbers.  That’s it.  No more lettuce.  No beets, onions, peppers, and probably no tomatoes.  Next summer, the squash are not going in this particular bed.  Only non-vining plants!  Whoops!  Oh well.  Stay tuned for a million recipes for squash!

On to the yumminess!

RASPBERRY MINT CHIA PUDDING

Raspberry Mint Chia Pudding

Serves 4 (trust me; it’s filling!)

Ingredients

1 cup Milk of choice (I used Almond Coconut Milk Blend)

½ cup Red Raspberries

¼ cup Chia Seeds

1-2 Tbsp 100% Pure Maple Syrup

8-10 Mint leaves

Directions

1.  Add all ingredients to blender, and blend well until combined.  (Alternatively, blend all ingredients except chia seeds.  Stir in chia seeds to milk mixture.)  If it seems thick, add a little more milk.  It will only become thicker as it chills!

2.  Chill for at least 3 hours until firm.

Nutrition Information (per serving – 1/4 of recipe)

Calories:  64

Fat:  3 grams

Saturated Fat:  0 grams

Trans Fat:  0 grams

MUFA:  0.5 grams

PUFA:  2 grams

Cholesterol:  0 mg

Sodium:  39 mg

Carbohydrate:  8.5 grams

Dietary Fiber:  4 grams

Protein:  1.5 grams

Vitamin A:  2%

Vitamin C:  5%

Calcium:  17%

Iron:  2%

Happy, healthy eating!

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Curry Roasted Radishes

All the radishes are now done from my garden!  I got probably 5 bunches of radishes, which has more than paid for all my seed packets at this point.  Anything else is bonus!  The lettuce is going strong…a little too strong.  One of my coworkers doesn’t mind that, as she just received a gallon bag of fresh lettuce today!

Radishes

Lettuce

I’ve gotten two pounds of lettuce so far!

Garden Update

My garden explosion!  Lettuce and mesclun greens on the left.  That’s yellow squash, winter squash, and zucchini overgrowing in the middle there.  Then there’s peppers, beets, lemon cucumbers (a new taste treat!), and tomatoes.  There are some onions there too that you can’t see yet.

Squash Blossom

And a squash blossom!  That’s gonna be a zucchini one day!

Anyone who knows me knows that wasting edible food is next to a sin to me.  Throwing out something that could be turned into delectable edible deliciousness makes me so sad!  So sad, in fact, that I’ve been adding those radish greens to my salad.  They’re actually good!  They add some nice spice to it.  In this recipe, though, they’re curried up, along with their underground counterparts and roasted to perfection.  Greens are so nutritious!  Radish greens are actually a pretty good source of calcium; 20% of your daily value in just 3 ounces! They are also great sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and contain a good amount of iron, magnesium, folate, and a trace amount of molybdenum.  I’m always looking for new ways to eat these nutritional powerhouses!

Look at those curried raw radish greens!

Curried Raw Greens

Curry Roasted Radishes

Curry Roasted Radishes

Serves 4

Ingredients

30 Radishes, greens separated

2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided

2 Tbsp Curry powder, divided

2 tsp Garlic powder, divided

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Toss radishes with 1 Tbsp oil, 2 tsp curry powder, and 1 tsp garlic powder to coat.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until soft.

3.  Meanwhile, coat radish greens with remainder of ingredients.

5.  Add greens to radishes, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until greens are starting to turn crispy.

Serve immediately.

Radish Close up

Happy, healthy eating!

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Grilled Blue Potatoes

Grilled Blue Potatoes

I help people along their weight loss journey every day, and this is something I hear every day: “I’ll never lose weight because I love carbs.”  Oh!  The infamous carb!  Never mind the fact that weight loss is about total calories (not total carbohydrates).  Do you know what “carbs” are?  Do you know what they do for your body?  Carbohydrates are found in most of the foods we eat in varying amounts: fruits, vegetables, grain products, dairy products, and foods containing added sugar.  Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose, which is what your body (and your brain!) uses for energy to keep everything going!  Your muscles can’t even contract without this fuel source.

Invariably, once my clients start eating a balanced diet that includes a healthy amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat (yes fat! But that’s a topic for a different day), they find they start dropping those “stubborn” pounds, without feeling deprived…and that’s weight loss that lasts!

Now some carbohydrates are “better” than others.  I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you, but your body doesn’t need added sugar.  That’s sucrose, fructose, maltose, honey, corn syrup, molasses, agave…the list goes on.  These sweeteners may taste good, but don’t provide much nutrition.  That’s not to say they’re inherently “bad,” but overloading on these can run up your calorie tab for the day, without really satisfying your body’s need for nutrition.  Healthy carbohydrates (also called complex carbohydrates) include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.  These foods provide you with bountiful nutrition for the calories, and can actually help you manage your weight!  That’s because those foods also provide things like fiber and protein to help keep you feeling fuller longer.

Now, let’s put that information to use, and cook up some healthy carbs!  My inspiration here came from some blue potatoes left over from our CSA, and the fact that it’s officially grilling season.  Never grilled potatoes before?  It’s a must!  You can use regular potatoes for this as well if you don’t have blue.  Just make sure to leave the skin on for the biggest nutritional bang for your buck possible.  I paired it with some grilled chicken breasts and a few spears of asparagus I grilled (also from our CSA).  I know it’s hard to tell in the picture, but they really are blue!  See?

Blue potato

Grilled Blue Potatoes

Grilled Blue Potatoes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

12-14 Blue Potatoes, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

Directions

1.  Preheat grill, and turn heat to medium.

2.  Brush both sides of potato slices with olive oil and grill approximately 10-15 minutes on each side, until cooked through and slightly crispy.

Happy, healthy eating!

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