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!

Recipe: Miso Maitake Soup

It’s that time of year again — no, I’m not talking about the Christmas shopping frenzy. I’m talking about the sore throats, aches and sniffles that tend to show up just as the holiday season kicks into gear. With flu season in mind, I decided that a nourishing, warming pot of miso soup was a good idea for lunch today.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, miso is a fermented, usually salty paste that is used as a seasoning in traditional Japanese cooking. In fact, the Onozaki family, who trace their ancestry 500 years back to the Samurai, are among the most respected makers of miso today. Miso can be made from a variety of ingredients, including rice, soybeans or barley. I usually use barley miso in my soups. Miso soup often contains a highly nutritious sea vegetable such as kombu or wakame. There are many recipes for miso soup, and I’ve combined some of my favorites to come up with my own recipe.

First, a word about one of my ingredients: maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa). Also known as hen-of-the-woods, maitake is valued as a medicinal, immune-boosting food in many Asian countries. You can buy dried maitake — as well as dried wakame and pickled ginger — from health food stores including the Kushi Store online. Just soak the maitake mushroooms in water before you cook with them.

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Dried maitake mushrooms

 

Miso Maitake Soup

Ingredients:

5 cups water

1/3 cup dried maitake mushrooms

1 3-inch strip dried wakame

1 carrot, sliced

1 tablespoon pickled ginger, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons barley miso

3 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

In a medium pot, soak the mushrooms in the 5 cups of water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the strip of wakame in a small bowl of water for about 5 minutes. Remove the wakame from the water and cut it into approximately 1/2-inch pieces.

After the mushrooms finish soaking, add the carrots to the pot. Gently simmer the mushrooms and carrots in the soaking water for 15 minutes. Add the wakame, garlic and ginger and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. In a small bowl, combine the miso with a small amount of broth from the soup. Keeping the soup off the heat, stir the miso mixture back into the soup. The miso will give the soup a cloudy appearance as its beneficial cultures activate. Serve in bowls, sprinkling the green onions over the soup in each bowl.

The ginger and garlic add a warming layer of flavor to this slightly salty miso soup. My sweet husband — my initially skeptical meat-and-potatoes guy — finished his bowl and was surprised how much he liked the soup!

I can’t guarantee that a bowl of miso soup will keep every cold and flu germ away, but a delicious soup loaded with vitamins and minerals may just give you a fighting chance this winter. I’ll bet you come up with your own recipe.

Be well and be blessed!

 

 

 

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

 

Missing a few ingredients or tools for a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try? Change it! I adapted this recipe from the Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad recipe at CookingQuinoa.net. I don’t have a grill, so I roasted onions and peppers instead of grilling. This nutritious salad is refreshing and filling…perfect for a summer dinner!

roasted vegetable and quinopa salad

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, dry

2 medium green bell peppers

1 small onion

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 small tomatoes

Directions:

Soak the quinoa in a small bowl for 5 minutes and strain. Place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 minutes or until water is absorbed. Set quinoa aside in a mixing bowl to cool.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the peppers into 1/2-inch-wide strips, and cut the onion into strips. The pieces do not have to be uniform. Place the peppers and onions in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss the vegetables in the oil.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the vegetables on the sheet. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, turning the vegetables after 20 minutes. Set aside the vegetables to cool until you can handle them.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper, minced garlic and sea salt in a small bowl.

Chop the roasted vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces and stir them into the quinoa. Chop the tomatoes into small chunks and stir into the quinoa-vegetable mixture. Toss with the dressing. Serve slightly warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Done!

John’s Secret Spaghetti Sauce Recipe: No Longer Secret!

I’m honored to post my husband’s spaghetti sauce recipe…you’ll want to try it! It’s a vegetarian recipe, so he uses textured vegetable protein (TVP) instead of ground meat. You can find TVP at Bob’s Red Mill, or at your local health food store.

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Ingredients:

Two 15-oz cans sauce

One 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles

6-oz tomato paste

Dried Italian herbs

1/2 cup sliced lack olives

¼ cup brandy or red wine

2 Bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 serrano peppers, diced

1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped

6 scallions, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

3 strips bacon, chopped

Apple cider vinegar

Dash of seasoned salt

Onion powder

2 tbsp sugar or sweetener

Olive oil

1 cup water

1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Directions:

Place all ingredients except for italian herbs, onion powder, seasoned salt, TVP and water in a large pot. Stir to combine. Sprinkle a layer each of onion powder and Italian herbs. Drizzle some olive oil over the ingredients and stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add a cup of water. You can add more water as the sauce cooks, if necessary.

Bring ingredients to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let it cook for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick. Feel free to sample on a piece of fresh baked bread!

About 30 mintes before the sauce is finished cooking, stir in the TVP. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes.

Done! Serve on pasta with grated cheese. This sauce freezes well, too!

Shared with Thursday’s Favorite Things…join us!

 

Thursday Favorite Things

Savory Saturday: Tacos!

We had these vegetarian tacos for dinner tonight, and the recipe is too tasty to wait for Meatless Monday, so here it is! I adapted this recipe, which uses textured vegetable protein (TVP) instead of meat, from Ten Minute TVP Tacos by Jolinda Hackett. TVP is a meat substitute made from dehydrated soy. It is a processed food, so you want to use it as a treat now and then — not necessarily every day. Whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables should be emphasized in a vegetarian diet.

TVP Taco

Add your favorite toppings to this TVP taco filling.

Vegetarian Tacos

Ingredients:

2 cups TVP

2 cups water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package taco seasoning

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup salsa

flour tortillas

suggested toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo

1. In a large skillet, boil the water and stir in the TVP. Turn the heat to low and let the TVP reconstitute for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and keep on low heat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a heated nonstick skillet, briefly warm each flour tortilla until the tortilla is soft. Add the taco filling and toppings of your choice and enjoy!

 

Meatless Monday: Millet Stew

meatless monday

 

After a week of sniffling, coughing and losing my voice, I wanted to cook something mild, nutritious and creamy with my favorite grain —  millet. Millet is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, lignans, antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients. I adapted this recipe for millet stew from Cooks.com. I’ve only made this recipe once, but I can picture many different types of vegetables in it, such as yellow squash, zucchini or peas. Here’s my version for this Meatless Monday:

Millet Stew

Ingredients:

7 cups water

2 cups hulled millet, rinsed

2 potatoes, peeled diced

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

dried Italian herbs to taste

sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

Boil the water in a large soup pot. Add all the ingredients — excedpt for herbs and sprinkleof salt and pepper — to the water. Reduce to simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the millet is soft and creamy. About 10 minutes before the stew is cooked, stir in herbs and a sprinkle of pepper. You may need to add 1/2 to 1 cup of additional water.

When the stew is finished, spoon it into bowls and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The stew really stays hot for a long time, so be careful! If you’d like to learn more about this grain, click to read a great article from World’s Healthiest Foods.

Be well and be blessed!

Meatless Monday: Cinnamon Applesauce Banana Bread

Happy Meatless Monday on this week before Christmas! I’m sharing a variation on banana bread that I made when I discovered I was lacking some ingredients for the traditional recipe. I adapted the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook — a favorite of mine.

Cinnamon Applesauce Banana Bread

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 beaten eggs

1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup sugar or equivalent sweetener

1/2 cup canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, bananas, applesauce, oil and sugar. Add this mixture all at once to flour mixture, and combine until just moistened (batter will be lumpy). Spoon batter into loaf pan.

3. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 55 to 60 minutes; during the last 15 minutes of baking time, cover the pan loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. On a wire cooling rack, let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on the rack. For easiest slicing, wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving (I’ve never been able to wait that long!).

I like this bread with cream cheese, but it’s great with butter or even peanut butter. Hope you’ll try it.

Be well and be blessed…and Merry Christmas!