Browsing Tag

vegan

Comfort Food

Mediterranean Inspired Red Lentil Soup

June 19, 2017

We are attracted to food as much by color as by flavor.To my eye, red lentils have always looked so much more appealing than the typical, muddy-colored lentils I usually cook up with a big old ham hock. Their color lies something between creamy orange sickle and apricot.
Plus, they have the added benefit of cooking up pretty quickly.

The pretty soup took only 25 minutes to make … from beginning to end, yet it has a surprising medley of flavors going for it. It’s has  a bit of heat, a touch of tang, and a few surprises. Plus, it is super quick and easy to prepare.

Here’s how I did it.

RED LENTIL SOUP WITH MINT & BASIL

Into a deep sauce pan or soup pot, dribble 2 tablespoons of good olive oil.
To this, add:

  • 2 claws garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 small potato, cubed

Sauté the above mixture about two minutes, then add:

  • 1 cup water (adding more as needed as the lentils cook)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tbsp vegetable bouillon, photo below (or 1 chicken stock cube)
  • 2 tbsp real butter or good butter substitute. I use Earth Balance in just about everything.
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1 shake of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar or white vinegar (or lemon juice). Do not overdo the acid.

Allow this concoction to cook until the lentils are nearly soft, about 10- 15 minutes.
Then add:

  • 10 leaves freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 10 leaves freshly chopped mint leaves

Simmer until the lentils are soft, the carrots and potatoes soft to bite, but not mushy.

TIPS: If you’re a meat-eater and  want to make this into a heartier meal , add 8 ounces of breakfast sausage a few minutes after adding the lentils. Add by breaking the raw sausage up with your fingers or a wooden spatula in order to make small, bite sized bits.  Serve with warm bread or croutons.

My Daily Kitchen

Lemony, Minty Vegetable Soup

June 5, 2017

Here you go people. It’s Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian & Vegan!

Many years ago, I spent about 10 fascinating days in Istanbul where I was introduced to flavors profiles I had never tasted growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut.

My very learned mother was keenly interested in just about everything and she did her best to bring the world to our kitchen table. Well, it was really a counter, probably one of the very first “kitchen islands” before they became popular. It was long, like a bar, and we kids bellied up every night at 6 pm, perched on stools, waiting to see what country was being served on any given night.

She and our dad exposed us kids to an impressive variety of international foods. We were taken to Manhattan for Smorgasbords, but also never left the “city” without stopping at the now famous Papaya King for that then rare and exotic papaya smoothie.  We tasted real Honduranian “Picadillo” with tender raisins. I  watched, bug-eyed,  my sister Madeleine cringing in complete horror, as our mother peeled and sliced up delicious beef tongue. I would sit on the counter by the stove,  fascinated,  as I watched my dad slice and fry up yummy these dark sausages he called “black puddin” which I later learned were also called blood pudding’. Enough said.  But with all my parents’ interest in international fare, never had we been introduced to the flavors I discovered during the few weeks I spent in Turkey.

One afternoon in Istanbul, I stopped to  grab a regular meal at a cheap and local cafeteria style diner. I can’t remember all I put on my tray, but will never forget the surprise in my mouth as I tasted what I expected to be a plan, salty lentil soup. Wow! Turkish Lemon & Lentil soup bursting with unmistakable notes of mint, lemon and heat.  Mint? In a soup? This was new to me. And lemon? Lemon in a soup with tomatoes? The experience, all those decades ago, was something entirely unexpected to this little New England girl.

Today, as in the same morning of this posting, I wanted to try to recreate that never forgotten experience. Alas, I’m back on a the no-grain wagon with a renewed commitment.  When  you eat truly grain-free, lentils and other legumes are not on the menu!

What to do?

Well, only days ago, I had bagged up some cups of “riced” cauliflower so I thought I’d try using these in place of lentils.

The result was a low-carb, vegetarian & vegan (without the dollop of sour cream) hot, spicy, minty and lemony medley.

I enjoyed my first taste of this soup in a nice bowl, but I think tonight I will place a poached egg on top for protein.

Lemony, Minty, Spicy Vegetable Soup

  1.  Pop your favorite soup pot on the stove, turn the heat to  medium and fire up 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. To this, add…
  • 3/4 cup of diced onions & 1 tsp salt.  Sautee this for a minute or two, then add…
  • 1 Grated carrot
  • 1 Grated sweet potato
  • 1 diced, fresh tomato.
    Sauté this mixture for a few minutes, then add…
  • 1 can of salt-free, diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups of riced cauliflower
    (about 1/2 a head of cauliflower, riced in a food chopper. See photo, below.)
  • 1/4 cup well-chopped fresh parsley  OR 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh, chopped mint leaves OR dried mint.
  • Juice from 1/2  a fresh lemon
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) of red pepper flakes

2.  Cover and allow  to simmer on low for 10  minutes, adding salt or lemon or mint to taste.

3.  Now add 1 cup of  good quality vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you are not vegetarian.)

4.  Once your vegetables are soft and the flavors have emerged, pull out  your hand-blender (or a regular blender)  – do not puree – and lightly mix up all the mixture until you still have visible vegetables, but not slush.

5.  Now that the mixture is all smooth and lush, I added about 1/2 a cup of sour cream. (Vegans, substitute the same amount of any creamy  vegan product, such as a  Half & Half substitute or any creamy product you like to use.)

6  Ladle into a nice  bowl. Garnish with parsley or mint and a nice dollop of sour cream, or sour cream substitute. 

TIPS:
You can make this same recipe SUBSTITUTING RED LENTILS and OMITTING the Cauliflower. If you do this, do NOT add the sour cream.

If you are serving this as an appetizer, cut up some oldish bread, sautée quickly in salted olive oil until crispy and golden, and serve on top!

I enjoy a nicely poached egg on top of spicy vegetables and the lemon will be fine. Remember, Hollandaise sauce is very lemony! When I really want to make this a warm, late night comfort meal, I melt a slice of mild and  creamy cheese on top of the egg. That is not for vegans though.

Comfort Food

Vegan-Ease …with Spice!

August 16, 2015

Taro Root has a surprisingly creamy, buttery taste on it’s own.
So when you do add some zip, it’s even better.
Taro is an interesting and different alternative to the white potato, plus, it’s easier on your blood sugar load.

To Prepare Creamy, Spicy Taro

  • Peel 4 good sized taro roots
  • Cut them into chunks
  • Cover with water, about an inch
  • Toss in a full tablespoon of fresh, or dried, rosemary
  • Add a teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes
  • Add a teaspoon of salt to the pot
  • Boil together as you would potatoes, about 20 minutes, or until you can pierce a chuck with a fork.
  • Drain away the water and don’t worry that much of the Rosemary and Pepper Flakes will wash away. Enough will remain.
  • Stir in a spoonful of Earth  Balance butter substitute

TIP: This would be easily just as yummy with Fresh Parsley, but tossed in at the end, after the boiling is done. I would use about 1/4 cup.

Breakfast

Healthy Craving Fixer

May 10, 2015

imageAs a little girl, no trip to “the city”, a.k.a, New York City was complete until, at my mother’s pleading, my dad pulled the car over at 86th and 3rd, to fullfil her craving for the then exotic fruit, slightly odd tasting fruit, papaya,  always available at the now historical Papaya King.   She adored this gorgeously colored fruit which, to my young palette tasted a bit, well, off. Still,  I loved anything coconut, and a trip to Papaya King meant a coconut treat for me!

As I grew up and traveled some,  my taste buds came on board. In the Southern Philippines, I learned to stab a slice of fresh papaya with my fork, and then fill the tiny rows of holes with fresh squeezed Calamansi, a kind of citrus, not quite like a lemon or a lime, but these will do.

calamansiIt was here that I also learned  to love crisp, tart, unripe, green papaya, sliced into sticks, then dipped in vinegar and spicy salt. Later, in New York City, I learned you can julienne green papaya to add to salads and savory dishes.

 

Calamansi

green papayaIn Mexico and in Panama, I came to love thick fruit smoothies, either alone or paired with bananas or pineapple or strawberries.  I cut the papaya into cubes and store it in bags in the freezer. This way my smoothies are cold and fruity, undiluted by water or ice cubes.

Today,  I enjoy teaming my papaya up with the taste of coconut, which I still adore.

But when I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic (I have corrected this with my diet), I steered away from sweets, including fruits in general, since sugar is sugar… isn’t it?

With a Glycemic Index value of 59, Papaya is generally considered a “medium” sugar threat.  And now for the good news: On the Glycemic Load Index, papaya measures at a low 10.

The Glycemic Load refers to the body’s response to sugars by taking into account both the quantity of carbohydrates as well as the type of carbohydrates. For a detailed explanation of glycemic values and how they are calculatedClick Here.  In short, this means that eating papaya occasionally, especially if paired with other foods, doesn’t necessarily cause blood sugars to spike.

When I have a true craving for something sweet, I make this delicious treat using only four healthy ingredients.

1 Cup papaya, diced.
2 Heaping tablespoons coconut milk (I like to spoon it on, chilled)
1 Tablespoon crushed flax seeds (easy to crush up in a coffee grinder!)
1 Slice of Lemon or Lime

TIP:  Keep papaya cubes cold and handy by freezing them. Then, use the same above ingredients to blend into a  fresh smoothie, and, if you are feeling festive, add and ounce and a half of rum! 

Comfort Food

Easy Veggie Comfort

April 22, 2015

I often feel that if I eat vegetarian or vegan, I’m going to be left wanting. I have nothing against the raw food champions, but me? I like my food warm and creamy.

This dish not only fills the comfort-food bill, it fills you up and it does so without dairy or meat. It’s vegetarian healthy (vegan if you use a pesto that does not include Parmesian).

Serve up a large bowl for lunch, or serve it as a side dish to a main course.

Mushroom Comfort

Lace the bottom of a your favorite frying or sauté pan with 1-2 tbsp. coconut oil (or substitute cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, or half & half, mixing the oils), and heat.

Add to the pan, and  in this order:
2 Teeth garlic, minced
1 Medium onion, thinly sliced
Sautee onion and garlic about a minute, then add in:
2 Cups sliced mushrooms (any kind)
2 Cups sliced zucchini (I cut half-moons to match the mushroom shapes).
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Sauté together until the mushrooms are soft, but not limp,  and the zuchini is softening, but not going clear. You want it to hold a little firmness.

Add 3 tbsp of your favorite home-made or jarred Pesto (vegans, you will want to use a pesto that huses a substitute for the Parmesian cheese or incorporates extra nuts and basil).

Stir together until hot and then… add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
This is going to really give the dish some zing and bring out the flavors.

Vegetarians and meat-eaters, top with grated Parmesian.
Vegans, opt out of the cheese and top with toasted nuts.