In Pictures: Plum Tomato Soup

As promised in my last post, today I’m excited to share my recipe for homemade, fresh tomato soup. This soup uses plum tomatoes that are easily found in the colder months. The best part about this recipe is that it doesn’t require exact measurements and can be easily adapted to use up however many pounds you’ve got on hand.

Ingredients

 

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  • Three to four pounds of plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. After washing tomatoes, slice into quarters longways IMG_1897 (1)
  2. Place quartered tomatoes into a large soup pot
  3. Fill pot with just enough water to cover the tomatoesIMG_1899
  4. Add cloves and cinnamon
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Let boil for 5-7 minutes
  7. Reduce to a low simmer, cover pot with lid and let simmer for 20 minutes
  8. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutesIMG_1901
  9. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend tomatoes into the consistency you preferIMG_1903
  10. In a small sauce pan, heat butter or ghee on medium-high for 1 minute and add in cumin and remove from heat.
  11. Add butter/ghee and cumin mixture to soup
  12. Bring soup to a low simmer and stir well
  13. Serve with black pepper to tasteIMG_1907

 

Enjoy! And let this soup keep you warm in the cooler days ahead.

4 Items to Always Have in the Kitchen

Putting together a meal can be a struggle when you’re caught in the fast pace of our busy lives. To be sure I’m never without the the basics for a healthy meal no matter the time of day, here are four essentials I always have on hand:

oatmeal to the rescue

oatmeal to the rescue

1. Oatmeal: Instant or old-fashioned oats are perfect for breakfast, or even lunch and dinner when you’re really in a pinch. Oats are ideal for busy mornings because all you need to cook them in is water. You can dress up your oatmeal with whatever you have on hand; berries, dried fruits, nuts, or seeds. Full of protein and fiber, oatmeal is your best bet when you’ve got just a minute to get out the door.
2. Frozen vegetables: Some days you come home and all you see in your vegetable compartment is a wilting bunch of green onions. Keep a bag of frozen spinach, broccoli or mixed vegetables in your freezer so that you always have a vegetable on hand.
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3. Beans: Beans combined with a frozen vegetable from above come together to create a healthy, filling meal when dinner is the last thing on your mind. I like to have both canned and dry on hand, but canned beans are especially nice to have when all you can think about is satisfying your growling tummy after 10 hours in the office.
4. Grains: My favorite grain is quinoa because it’s filling and tastes yummy all on its own. White or brown rice is an excellent substitute if you prefer. Grains are a blank slate to serve up with some spices, a can of soup, or a side of sweet potatoes.
A final bonus is that you can stock up on each of these items when they’re on sale.
There you have my four essentials for plant-based living. Which items are you sure to have in your kitchen each day?

Meatless Monday: 4 Additions to a Heartier Salad

Salads sometimes get a bad rap for being nothing more than a sad serving of wilted iceberg lettuce topped with shreds of carrot–but they sure don’t have to be! Try one of these tips this Meatless Monday and you’ll surely change your mind about the potential of salads.

Here are four additions to build a heartier salad:

1. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds add a nice crunch to your favorite salad. The protein in nuts and seeds will help you stay full from your salad longer.

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Arranging my almonds in a neat way

2. Beans: My go to meal is always some sort of bean served on a bed of greens. For a Mexican style salad, try pinto or black beans with romaine lettuce and salsa. For Mediterranean flavors, try garbanzo beans with mixed greens and a touch of olive oil.

3. Tofu: Tofu is a perfect addition to virtually any dish that needs an extra boost. From blending it into smoothies to crumbling it into tacos–tofu always serves a plant-based eater very well. And that’s no different for salads. Simply chop up some extra-firm tofu and top over your favorite blend of leaves. You can even saute the pieces slightly to add a bit more flavor. Wait till the tofu is cool to add to your salad.

4. Cheese: If you eat dairy, a sprinkle of your favorite shredded cheese adds a nice flavor to your salad. Some say that the fat in dairy can help you digest leaves a bit better. Just a tiny sprinkle of cheese will go a long way.

What’s your favorite addition to salad? Do you eat them often?

Meatless Monday: 4 Easy Substitutes to Make Your Meals Greener

1. Hummus for Mayonnaise
I love hummus. My love for hummus requires a post of its own. Packed with protein and flavor–I think hummus makes a fabulous sub for mayo. Hummus is made with a tahini base rather than oil, which makes it a healthier (and in my opinion, tastier!) option for spreads and dips.

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Pile on the hummus!

2. Avocado for Cheese
Avocado’s richness makes it a fabulous substitute for cheese. It works especially well in dishes like sandwiches and tacos, when cheese doesn’t need to be melted. Instead of sliced cheese in your next sandwich, why not try some sliced avocado? Throw in some cubed avocado, or definitely guacamole, in Mexican dishes and you won’t even miss the shredded cheese.

3. Tofu for Steak
Tofu is a wonder food because of the infinite ways it can be transformed. You can bake, it fry it, blend it into a smoothie. You can even grill it just as you would a steak! The beauty of tofu is that its pretty much non-existent taste and variety of texture options ranging from soft to extra firm allows you to prepare it the same way you would prepare a meat dish. Substituting a plant-based meal for a meat-based dish gives you the chance to make a healthier choice for animals, the planet, and yourself.

4. Chickpeas for Tuna
This may not seem like a natural substitute but the other day I tried a really yummy mock tuna salad–and found out that the “tuna” was made out of chickpeas! Usually imitation dishes are made with fake meat products, but the chickpeas are really neat take on this dish. Simply mash up your cooked chickpeas with a little bit of seasoning (I love this recipe!) and you have a delicious “tuna” dish.

Taco Tuesday!

As a followup to my Meatless Monday recipe for black beans, I thought today would be a great opportunity to share one my most favorite uses of those black beans: tacos!

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I find that sometimes my taco shells aren’t wide enough to hold as many toppings as I’d like. In the picture above–you see how my family’s resolved that issue. We like to crush our taco shells and make a big taco salad, with black beans at the base.

Whether you crush yours up or eat them the normal way, black bean tacos are a super easy and healthy veg*n meal. We usually have tacos at least once a week (if not more!), hence the Taco Tuesday!

Tacos also don’t require much measuring of ingredients, but I eat them like this:

Crush one taco shell on your plate.
Add a half cup of cooked black beans
Spread a spoon or two of your favorite salsa over beans
Dice one half of a tomato and add to plate
Chop half an avocado into slices and add to plate
Finely chop four leaves of your preferred lettuce (I use Romaine) and add to plate
If you eat dairy, top your plate with shredded cheese and sour cream
Mix it all up and enjoy!

The best thing is, you can substitute or add toppings as you like. For a spicier taco, add jalapenos or hot sauce. Some grilled green peppers and onions also add nice flavor.

Do you find tacos to be as yummy as I do?

Meatless Monday: Kale Pasta Salad

This weekend I experienced the first signs of spring—the snow started to melt and I sneezed away as the pollen filled the air. I thought today would be a great day for a bright green kale dish as we welcome warmer days with open arms. This recipe serves four.

Ingredients

1 bunch kale, rinsed, separated from stems, and torn into 1-2inch pieces

½ pound of your preferred pasta

Two teaspoons lemon juice

Two tablepoons olive oil

Two cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

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Kale for an almost-spring day!

Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to directions on package

Once the pasta is finish cooking, remove with slotted spoon, and place into a large bowl

In the same pot of boiling water, add the kale

Cook kale for 4-6 minutes, or until tender

Once the kale is finished cooking, strain, and place into the bowl with the pasta

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper

Pour the mixture onto the pasta and kale and mix well

If using parmesan cheese, sprinkle over pasta and kale before serving

Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite kale recipe? I’d love to try it out!

Meatless Monday: Vegetable and Cheese Lasagna

This cold and snow cycle seems to have no end in sight! Today’s recipe is a great meal to warm you and your home–after you’ve turned off the oven, leaving the door open for a while spreads some extra warmth around. It serves 6-8.

Ingredients

  • 14 lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/8 crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium zucchinis, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow squash, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil or spray 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. After cooking, lay noodles on a sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Heat olive oil in a large frying pan with sides over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent; 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, zucchini, squash and a pinch of salt then cook, stirring occasionally until soft, for about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes. Stir, then bring to a low simmer. Simmer until liquid has thickened and reduced by half; 5 to 8 minutes. Add basil then season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  • Add ricotta cheese, eggs and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a medium bowl then stir until well combined.
  • Spoon just enough vegetable mixture into the baking dish to lightly cover bottom (about 1 cup). Arrange four noodles lengthwise and side by side to cover the bottom.
  • Spread about half of the ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese ) mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with a third of the Parmesan cheese and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Then, top with about a third of the vegetable mixture. Add another layer of four noodles then repeat with remaining cheese and vegetables.
  • Finish with a final layer of noodles, vegetables, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes, uncover then bake 15 minutes until cheese is crusty around the edges. To make cheese golden brown on top, slide under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.

Please be sure to stand 15 minutes after cooking before enjoying!

Ready to dive into yumminess!

Ready to dive into yumminess!