Recipe: French Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Soup

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Have you tried French green lentils?

 

Two weeks ago, a family health crisis forced us to quickly learn about the ulcer-friendly or “bland” diet. My husband learned that he had a bleeding ulcer, and that onions, garlic and spicy foods were out of the question for the time being. As a family who loves to cook, we were determined to find flavorful alternatives to these cooking staples. Of course, if you have an ulcer or other digestive condition, ask your doctor about the foods that are best for you.

Soups are a favorite meal at our house, and I’d been meaning to try French green lentils. These small, dark gray-green lentils have a lovely sweet flavor and creamy texture. The caramelized roasted vegetables, along with some mild cooking herbs, add a rich flavor that helped us forget about the term “bland diet.”

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Roasted, slightly caramelized vegetables replace onions and garlic.

 

My husband likes to add zucchini and other vegetables to roasting meats, so I decided to use that idea for this soup.  My mom and I had fun cooking this soup and refining the recipe. No garlic, no onions, and lots of healing thoughts went into this soup. Here’s the recipe:


Ingredients

1 cup French green lentils

4-inch strip of dried kombu

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried ground thyme

Sea salt to taste

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1-1/2 cups diced potato

2 zucchini, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Dried oregano

Directions

1. Sort and rinse lentils. Place lentils and kombu in a medium bowl and soak for 4 hours (Available in health food stores, kombu is a sea vegetable that helps make beans and lentils more digestible) .

2. Just before the lentils have finished soaking, preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, toss the carrots, potatoes and zucchini in oil. Sprinkle with dried oregano and sea salt, then toss some more. Place the vegetables in the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through cooking time. Vegetables will be ready when they are tender and slightly caramelized.

3. Drain and place the lentils and kombu in a large soup pot. Add enough water to cover the lentils and add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Remove from heat and set aside until the vegetables are finished roasting.

4. Add roasted vegetables to the pot of lentils and stir to combine. Sample the broth and add more water, salt and additional thyme if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook the soup for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Bland diet? What bland diet? You’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor, even without the tried and true onion and garlic base. Hope you’ll give this soup a try!

Natural Living Beauty

Judith C Evans:

Some of my husband’s photos have been published on this wonderful site called Broken Light. Hope you’ll pay a visit!

Originally posted on Broken Light: A Photography Collective:

Please welcome first-time contributor John G. Evans, a man who has been suffering since 1972 from what is now known to be a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from a trauma faced during military service time. He has discovered that photography and poetry have allowed him a second chance at life, and have released him of his depressive states and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He recently relocated to Boise, Idaho, to photograph the mountain ranges, rivers, canals, nature, wildlife, landscapes and weather.

About these photos: “This photo series was taken in San Antonio, Texas, at the zoo early in the morning during the peak of the “golden hours” between 7:00 am – 9:00 am. The mood was quite beautiful and serene that one has the potential of losing yourself within the crisp cool morning air of twilight and the natural living beauty that surrounds you within this natural & metaphorical landscape of exotic birds &…

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Love in Action

Judith C Evans:

Insight into the words of Thomas Paine and more!

Originally posted on Vehemence!:

“An army of principles may penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.” Such a powerful statement by Thomas Paine, very powerful! Should this power of the written word be taken out of context for political, social, or economic gain? Absolutely not! And those of who refrain from coming to embrace this power as a personal verbal inflection for a personal, selfish gain should truly have their motives and gains highly questioned.

Quite obviously, Paine’s motives for the “rights of man,” were to free two young countries from the tyrannies of their respective periods of time; thus being the French and the American Colonial Revolutions. As well, it should be clearly noted Paine died penniless and homeless, so there was no political, social, nor economical gain to be made. He simply spoke truth. And this was to no gain with the exceptions for these two countries to have the right to…

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Perception and Breathing New Life

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February has always been a month of contrasts for me. The magic of the first snowfall is long gone, and the once flourishing garden is a tangle of gray, dormant branches and stems. And that lingering fatigue from the latest flu strain is getting old. On the other hand, it’s time for seed catalogs, late winter pruning, and first glimpses of crocuses. I think of my Star Word of the year, “perception,” and how one scene can trigger contrasting emotions — depending on one’s perception.

Here in Boise, the temperature has been in the 60s for the past few days, so my husband John and I picked up the pruning shears and headed for the patio and garden. Later, my mom and I savored the sunlight in our front yard. I’ve seen enough winters to know that spring always returns, but I admit I am relieved when I see those first shoots emerge in late winter.

 

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

As we approach Lent and then Easter, I am keenly aware of God’s fierce and renewing love for His creation: a love that repeatedly breathes new life into our cloudy, icy mornings, and refuses to give up on any of us. It’s a love so fierce that it will lay down its life to give new life. A love that says “I forgive you” before it hears the words “I’m sorry.” A love that says “I love you where you are right now, because I can see past the dry, dead brambles and anticipate tender new growth.”

“Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

I pray for sharpened perception as the Creator breathes new life into our dreams. What new perspective will He show us in a cherished but stale goal? What refreshed perception will we have of ourselves? What new beginnings will he create — as only He can create — out of what looks like ashes?

I hope that wherever you are, whatever your circumstances at this moment, that you sense the promise of renewal and rebirth in the coming seasons!

Taking Part in the #WomensLives Campaign!

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You may have been noticing a lot of social media posts from me with the hashtag #womenslives. I am pleased to be taking part in the #WomensLives media initiative by Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows media, the parent company of BlogHer. For years, I have enjoyed listening to The World and other programs produced by PRI, and I have found a great blogging community at BlogHer.

Beginning this month, the #womenslives campaign will highlight issues that affect women, including health, education, domestic violence and climate change. This initiative resonates with me in a personal way: about ten years ago, my mother and I lived in — and eventually worked at — a shelter for women and children. I found the closest friendships of my life at this shelter, and experienced the value of listening to women’s stories. I saw and experienced the economic, social and personal toll of poverty, inequality and domestic violence — but I also witnessed over and over again the strength and courage of women.

You can participate in this media initiative in several ways. You can share stories from PRI with the #womenslives hashtag on social media, for example. Why not write a blog post of your own and add your voice? It’s a wonderful opportunity to share your story in a powerful international media campaign. Bloggers who are participating in the campaign have added this badge to their blog:

#womenslives

 

Stay tuned for more posts from this blog, and keep an eye out for posts and discussions on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. See you there!

A Bunker Hill Commemoration

Judith C Evans:

I hope you’l read this poem and its reflections on history from John Evans.

Originally posted on Vehemence!:

Ah, but the fragrance of love in the night

A gentle sweeping curve of ardor

A love gently returned, softly, sweetly

The thrill so joyous as to savor each moment

Your eyes of grateful expression, light up

As your sensitivity embedded upon my palate

Leaves me no choice but to love you so much more!

Reminiscing of the night before

A journey we embarked upon decades ago

Together, in the spirit of the great American Revolution

Boston lives because of courage, we know this!

And out from the cover of darkness, we rise

This city, all that the spirit of freedom desires, is

To be free.

To others, we marvel, and to the questions of “why?”

Have we forgotten this siege?

And Bunker Hill just fades into our oblique memories

No! I shall not let her go!

For the fear, the courage, the bravery

The victories, and loss…

Shall not…

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Climate Change: Add Your Voice

 

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The facts about climate change can seem overwhelming and even discouraging. We see severe storms, droughts and record temperatures on the news more frequently. 2014 was the warmest year on record for the earth and its oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since the 1800’s, scientists have warned of the “greenhouse effect” caused by excess levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Before the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of CO2 was 150 parts per million (ppm); today it is 400 ppm.

But there is good news! A grassroots organization called Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) gives individuals a voice as advocates for addressing climate change. I recently signed up with CCL and am impressed with the in-depth knowledge they provide to citizens who are concerned about climate change. After listening to an introductory phone call, I was able to connect with local members and learn about opportunities for advocacy.

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CCL advocates a carbon fee and dividend plan, which is a market-based approach to dealing with CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. The fee would help provide a truer picture of the costs of carbon-based fuels, and encourage the use of solar power and other non-carbon energy sources. Simply put, companies would pay a fee on the amount of carbon in fossil fuels, and the fees would be given back to households.  Countries that do not have a carbon fee plan would face import fees, and American industries that export to these countries would receive rebates.

According to a study by Regional Economic Models, Inc.,  the carbon fee and dividend could reduce CO2 emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels in 20 years. Air quality improvements could prevent over 200,000 premature deaths in 20 years. The study also found that the dividend would stimulate the US economy and help produce 2.8 million jobs in 20 years.

Yes, there is cause for concern, and yes, the forecasts are dire. But once again, the voices of ordinary citizens add up to a force for meaningful, positive change. If you are looking for a way to connect with like-minded people and add your voice to finding real solutions to climate change, CCL is a great place to start.