Beet Soup – Ruby Goodness

As a child I loved pickled beets.  Now I have moved away from childish things… actually I’ve just never purchased pickled beets as an adult and I always end up roasting any beets that I’ve managed to coax from the soil.  Beets are oh so companionably roasted with sweet potatoes and other little colorful potatoes.  Anyway, it was nice to expand the beet repertoire with this simple, easy and nourishing use of beets found at Health, Home & Happiness

Being rebels with poor planning skills, we ate this ‘Cold Beet Soup’ hot for dinner and then cold the next day.  I thought it was delicious both ways, and once again, my 11 year old gave a thumbs up to a food that I thought would be stretching the envelope of his tolerance.  Either he is growing so fast that he’s starving and will eat anything, or his palate is broadening with age.  Or maybe this stuff is just really yummy!!

And don’t throw the beet greens away!  I like to saute them (and anything else not tied down) in a little olive oil and garlic!  Or follow these directions or braising beet greens:

Cold Beet Soup

4 medium beets, peeled and chopped (I peel the part of the beet that is hardened and dirty looking)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped (I am BiggSis and I never met a carrot that I wanted to peel)
3 cups stock, or more to thin the soup as desired
½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper -optional
¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped -optional (I did not use dill)
2 cloves garlic – add more to taste
Cultured cream, to serve (I used goat cheese, and Little Sis came up with a vegan sour cream that would be great I think!)

Directions for cold beet soup:
Place the beets, carrots, and stock in a crock pot.

Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, until the beets are soft. Add remaining ingredients and puree in a food processor or blender. Add more stock to thin as desired.

Ruby Soup – there’s no place like bowl… there’s no place like bowl….there’s no place like bowl

Chill well and serve topped with yogurt or cultured cream as desired.

Lunch the next day. How I love leftovers!

Enjoy my friends!  (And hey check out the picture of the food actually on the plate, semi-artfully arranged!  I must have not been starving that day.)

Condiment Queen

So I have a secret.  I miss creamy, gooey food.  I’ve had it recently enough that I know that most creamy, gooey food will require me to go hardcore kale smoothie for a few days, but  still miss it.  It would seem that our food memories and preferences don’t always line up with the decisions we’ve made.  and so my kitchen dabbling, in addition to requiring me to throw garlic/thyme/basil/and olive oil into everything, tends to focus a bit on finding creamy gooey that won’t make me feel icky pooey…..  Nice one, huh?  And in this vein, I’ve made a discovery.  It is a true condiment – not something I’d want to sit down and eat by the spoonful (and therefore fundamentally unlike sunflower cheez spread), but good anywhere that a bit of creamy gooey goes.  I’ve used it with kale; I’ve used it with salsa; I’ve used it with pasta; and I used it in biscuits….  fabulous glorious home baked biscuits.  And now, I shall share it all with you.  Cause I’m nice like that.  And so I give you….

Not So Sour Cream – adapted from everydaydishtv

  • 1 3/4 cups hemp seeds, cashews or pine nuts (I mixed them)
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 t salt
  • juice from a lemon
  • water as needed for consistency

Food processor.  Fill it and leave on while you’re doing anything else you can think of in the kitchen.  When it’s ready – creamy gooey smoothness.  What to do with it?  I’m sure you can think of things to do with sour cream, but maybe you’re not so sure what to do with vegan not so sour cream…  Why, creamy kale, of course.

Creamed Kale

  • olive oil for pan
  • large clove garlic, mashed, minced, whatever
  • giant bunch of kale, de-stemmed and ripped into smaller pieces
  • 1/4 c Not So Sour Cream

Warm oil in pan.  Saute garlic until you can breathe it.  Turn heat down a little (below medium is good).  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cover with lid so improve the wilting for the top leaves.  Stir occasionally to prevent overcooking.  When wilt is done, lower heat further and add NSSC and stir to distribute and warm through.  There.  Creamy fantastically healthy goodness.

Next Up?

Super Smooth Salsa

Mix your favorite salsa with NSSC for the balance of acidic zippy creamy deliciousness that appeals to you.  One might be tempted to dip a tortilla chip in such a concoction.  I confess I am a Triscuit dipper.  There, now you know.

Got a full fridge and nothing to eat?

Coronary Free Creamy Pasta

Chop some onion and mince a clove of garlic.  Warm olive oil in pan – add onions and a touch of salt and let them cook down until translucent and soft.  Add garlic.  While this is happening, grab your leftover pasta (quinoa, rice, couscous, whatever).  Warm in whatever way you like.  Add NSSC to warm pasta and stir in your yummy alliums.  Fan-flippin-tastic.

And yes, I did also say biscuits…

Vegan Cream Biscuits – adapted from

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 5 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 T NSSC
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Put in food processor, add NSSC and olive oil.  Pulse until the clumps of creaminess and fat are not clumping.  Return to bowl and stir in  non-milk.  Drop in 1/4c blobs onto greased baking sheet (or use parchment).  Bake in oven on low rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and slather with whatever floats your biscuit boat.  I had mine with date cream and a kale salad on the side.  Delish.

Mustard Tempeh

Tempeh is a cake of cultured, fermented soybeans that originated in Indonesia – at least that’s what Wikipedia says.  Unlike tofu, it is tough and will hold it’s shape and has a strong, nutty flavor.  It can be sauteed and treated like a burger or used as an ingredient, which is just what I’m going to do with it!

This is one of my fave old recipes and one of the first that I could truly claim as my own – not that it’s dazzlingly brilliant or anything – just not based heavily on another recipe.  I stopped making it because it seems like the price of tempeh went way up, so it is now a bit of a luxury.  How does a hunk of fermented soybean cake get to be so expensive?  Well, I’ve never made it, so I guess I can’t answer that.  But it is good for you and so I indulged… and my son approved it for THAS (thermos @ school).  Big thumbs up.

Mustard Tempeh
1 med – large onion
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin – or more if you have seed which is better
2 -8oz cakes of tempeh
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp applesauce
1/8 – 1/4 cup water

1) Prepare brown rice or quinoa or other grain for under or beside

2) Chop onion

3) Heat some oil in a pan on medium heat and add mustard seed and cumin until seeds begin to pop

Draw pictures in the seeds with your spatula or read your partners fortune in the seeds…. “You have an awesome partner who is cooking this nice meal for you.”

4) Add the onion and some salt and cook until onions are becoming translucent

The smell will make you want to stop and eat right here but hang in there…

5) Chop your tempeh into bite sized-ish pieces to preference or size of mouth 🙂

6) Add tempeh to the mix and allow to brown a little / get glistening before you

7) Add dijon and applesauce

8) Add water a bit at a time to achieve a little sauciness… but don’t go so far as to make it cheeky or disrespectful

9) Serve it over (or beside) your grain of choice.

Once again, by the time dinner was done, table was set and all were assembled with clean hands and grateful hearts…. I forgot to take a picture on the plate.  So sorry – although many of you have seen my dishes many times now and can just imagine the tasty little beige blocks on a red plate with black edges 😉

I would love to hear if any of you have a favorite tempeh recipe.  Now that I know that my boy will eat it, we may have to indulge more often!

Our Weekend Pleasure

Just about every weekend, we have pancakes (I trust this is not new information for those of you who’ve been here for a while). We all love pancakes, and while typical pancake breakfasts are not exactly low sugar, I’ve cut the sugar out of the batter, and we’ve greatly limited syrup. The kids get to have some with their first pancake, and then we turn to jam. There was a smidgen of resistance the first time we announced this policy change, and not a gripe since. They are just happy to have pancakes; and I am happy to see them happy eating wholesome homemade breakfast food. I am even happier that I have a weekly opportunity to tweak the family favorite and experiment with grain combinations and flavors. Today’s offering… Momma’s MultiGrain Thanksgiving Pancakes. As you might have guessed, these include our favorite tuber in a starring role.

Momma’s Multigrain Thanksgiving Pancakes

  • 1.5 c whole wheat flour
  • .5 c all purpose flour
  • .5 c corn meal
  • .5 c spelt or buckwheat flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1.5 t baking soda
  • 1.5 t salt
  • nutmeg to taste
  • 3 eggs (I used flax eggs)
  • 3 c butter milk or soured milk (I used soured almond milk)
  • 6 T oil (I used canola)
  • cooked sweet potato cut into small bites
  • handful of craisins (any dried fruit, I used craisins because I had some leftover from a large purchase BEFORE I looked at the sugar content)
  • handful of pecans (toasted if you’re really going for it)

When I make pancakes, I mix the dry ingredients and prepare the flax eggs (1T flax meal to 3T water for one egg, in bowl, in fridge) the night before.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I am hungry when I wake up and I don’t like waiting TOO long for breakfast.  I also put my pans in the oven and set it pre-heat them before we get up because I’m fussy like that (more on pancake technique here).  On rising I task whichever munchkin is up with mixing the dry ingredients while I whisk the oil and flax eggs together.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  I then remind wakeful and hungry munchkins that we must let the batter rest.  While resting, I gathered my “flavors” (sweet potato pre-cooked and cut into small pieces, toasted pecans leftover from making a salad, and the stupid big bag of Craisins).  Remove warmed pans from oven and turn on heat on stove to bring to temp.  After at least 10 minutes of resting, pour batter using a 1/4c measure onto med warm pan.  Add mix-ins (I find it takes surprisingly little, especially of things like craisins, to get the flavor without overwhelming). I realize many people mix in their flavors, but I prefer adding them to the pancakes once in the pan.  This way the fruits get a little brown edge and you can SEE what you are eating, and you’re more likely to get all the bits in one bite – yes, I am that particular.  Flip when pancake edges are firm, and there are a few bubbles in the batter.  Serve to famished and delighted family.  Happy Thanksgiving… errr..  delish!

Tuber Gratitude

While tooling around the internet news world, I came across a fascinating story.  It has all of the things I look for in news: a real story about a real problem, a real solution proposed and implemented by real people, and a demonstration of a fundamental principle of healthier eating.  Who could ask for more?  The short version, for those of you who are pressed for time and prefer reading my post to the news story (a girl can dream, right?)… Economist and all around international smarty pants Howard Bouith, when faced with the reality of micronutrient deficiency amongst the world’s most impoverished populations, proposed that rather than attempting to ship vitamins and supplements to these, often remote, populations, communities would be better served by consuming those micronutrients in the foods that they rely on as staple nourishment.  The most successful implementation of Bouith’s idea to date: a public health campaign in Uganda and Mozambique that encourages farmers to grow ORANGE sweet potatoes rather than the white and yellow ones that most farmers have traditionally grown there.  Why?  Because the North American orange sweet potatoes provide the beta carotene needed in the body to make vitamin A, a micronutrient that has been so sorely lacking that it has resulted in death of children in these countries.

The good news? It seems to be working.  The farmers are growing North American sweet potatoes, and the people are eating them.  Public health campaigns educate parents about the improved nutrition available from the orange spud, and parents demand them at the markets to ensure the health of their children.  The better news for you?  You are likely living somewhere where the choice of an orange sweet potato can be made at the market.  You will not have to wait for your farmers to plant and grow a more nutritious choice.  You can simply pick one up.  You can simply make that choice – a sweet potato, whole grains over refined flours, water over soda, whole fruit over a juice box, nuts over chips, milk over non-dairy flavored creamer goo.  If you can’t find the nutritious choices you seek at your market, ask for them, and ask your friends to do the same.  In Mozambique and Uganda, the baby step of eating an orange potato rather than a yellow one can change the fundamental quality of a child’s life.  The truth is, a baby nutritional step can fundamentally change the quality of anybody’s life.  And all that needs to be done is to make that choice.

While I like sweet potatoes, I must admit that I also really enjoy their less nutritious relatives.  I am moved to give myself a kick in the proverbial nutritional pants and so I will embark on a sweet potato romance.  I thought I’d share a few recipes that I intend to savor as part of my orange spud flirtation.

Big Sis has provided us with some lovely options: Sweet Potato Gratin, Sweet Potato Pancakes

I had to do a quick search on OhSheGlows and was quickly drooling at this particular option: Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach, and Pepper Vegan Enchiladas

I also liked the look of these Sweet Potato Pita Pockets.

There is always the option, of course, of roasting those bad boys in a little olive oil, salt. And then dip them in herbed naioli… oh yes.

Delish and nutrish, a reality I am grateful to be able to choose.

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

And you then mix it with sweet potatoes?  For real?

This is indeed something completely different, and my whole family enjoyed it and O.K.’ed it as a thermos filler in the lunchbox.  I love it.

Believe what you will about serendipity / fate / destiny, but how often do you have leftover coconut milk, cilantro and lime and then randomly choose a recipe in your new book “Meals That Heal Inflammation” that requires all 3?  Seemed like I was the chosen one in the chosen moment to try this strange concoction called “Sweet Potato Gratin.”  (By the way, I had those ingredients after making Thai Tomato Soup a la An Unrefined Vegan – a GREAT source for inventive and delicious vegan recipes, and Thai Tomato Soup rocks.) Continue reading

Herbed Naioli or Nutonaise

As you likely know by now, I have become somewhat obsessed with sunflower seed spread.  We eat it all the time, and I’ve been playing around quite a bit with it to see just how far I can vary and stretch this wonderful (and, yeah, cheap) little refrigerator staple.  It started as a cheese substitute for me, and has progressed to a hummus alternative, a pizza topping (oh yes, I like it better than any cheez I’ve tried), the base for vegan pesto, and NOW it’s standing in for the condiment I miss the most, my beloved mayonnaise.

Ahhhh mayonnaise.  Big Sis and I both have an old love of mayonnaise (she may not remember, but she had mayo sandwiches as a kid; I favored ketchup sandwiches – both offerings I now imagine were the result of a very tired Mom).  There is something about the creamy fatness and the slightly sweet salt of mayonnaise that still works for me in theory, although the shiny fat thing sort of turns me off now. I have missed the condiment’s place on my sandwiches, veggie burgers, various summer salads… you get the drift.  It makes me look fondly onto those culinary classes when I followed the advice of the French chefs with abandon.  They were right about a lot of things, and homemade mayonnaise was one of them.  Times have changed for me, however, and while a little mayo now and again will offend neither my sensibilities nor my  overall eating philosophy, I really did want an alternative for a few dishes.  Enter my beloved sunflower seed.

As I was already convinced that this super spread might be the solution to my problem, I started by just making a batch of the spread.  And then the simple addition that changed my condiment world… marinated artichoke hearts.  Yes, artichoke.  I grant you that this takes the spread from one that is cheap to one that is, well less than cheap, this addition made for an indulgent concoction perfect for the uses I had in mind.  I added six artichoke hearts to my batch, about a teaspoon of dried dill (sadly my fresh finished a long time ago), a little extra lemon juice, and an additional clove of garlic.  The liquid in the artichokes made the spread much thinner (in a good way).  I then turned on a the food processor and just let it go.  I left it on for a while during dinner prep, honestly I have no idea how long.  The spread got smoother and smoother.

When it was done (which means I didn’t want the noise of the food processor any more), I had something that reminded me (in flavor) of an herbed aioli and oh do I have a fairly long list of things one can do with an herbed aioli.  You could add a little olive oil and get more of the fatty creaminess, but as I was happy with both the texture and flavor, I opted to leave it alone.  We had it on our veggie burgers and… the real treat… we dipped our roasted potatoes in it and I was transported to a park in Amsterdam where I hovered over a warm and greasy paper cone of french fries that came with a side of garlic aioli.  Stupendous, delish, and all the result of a series of experiments prompted by a visit from a black bear.  Life’s funny, eh?