Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Rich Spanish Lentils with Quinoa

Spanish Lentils with QuinoaThese lentils are so rich, hearty and satisfying – they can be served alone in a big bowl as a standalone Winter meal, or offered as a tasty first course to a larger meal, as it is often served in Spain.  The addition of quinoa was inspired by the commonly used Spanish technique of starting many vegetable dishes by frying chunks of stale bread, or breadcrumbs in lots of olive oil, garlic and pimentón – the sweet, slightly smokey, Spanish paprika. The Castillian Sopa de Ajo, (Garlic Soup), is traditionally made this way. So it got me wondering what would happen to start with a base of quinoa, rather than bread…

So this soup is a hybrid between Sopa de Ajo Castellana, and the Andalusian Sopa de Lentejas, with my Californian non-gluten twist…

Spanish Lentil Soup with Quinoa – Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 t. high quality, high mineral salt
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa, rinsed very well and soaked one hour or more
  • 2 t. sweet paprika
  • 2 t. Spanish pimentón
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and soaked one hour or more
  • 1/4 green bell pepper, or 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into larger chunks
  • 1/4 c red wine, to taste
  • 1/2 t. umeboshi vinegar, or Braggs Amino Acids (optional)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

Saute the onion with olive oil and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, until golden brown and starting to caramelize –  about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, carrots, celery, salt and pepper and saute gently for about 10 more minutes until completely cooked, stirring occasionally and deglazing sides and bottom of pot with water every once in a whole as needed to keep it from sticking. This long slow cooking process at the beginning sweetens the vegetables and is what gives richness and depth to the soup, so make sure to put the time in here.

Stirring constantly over medium flame, add quinoa, paprika and pimentón, toasting the quinoa for a few minutes in the hot oil. Add water/stock, bay leaves, cumin, soy sauce and nutritional yeast, and 1 t. salt,  lentils, green peppers, sweet potato and potato chunks. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 30 -45 minutes, or until lentils are cooked but firm and potatoes can be cut with a fork.

Taste and add red wine and a splash of umeboshi vinegar or Braggs amino acids. (These give the “6th sense flavor” which the Japanese call umame. Soy sauce can also be used).  Thin with water if necessary to desired consistency. These lentils can be served thin and soupy or very thick, piled up in a shallow bowl, depending on your preference. Adjust salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in fresh parsley just before serving.

These lentils are great with a side salad and thick slices of toasted garlic bread, or served alongside Tortilla de Patatas (a Vapor!).

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January 15, 2013 Posted by | Main Courses, Recipes, Soups, Stews, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Creamy Beet Borscht with Horseradish Swirl

creamy beet borscht with horseradish creamBorscht is one of those things, like art, that everyone has an opinion about, but really, what is it?  My friend, the artist John Fadeff, who I think is also qualified to speak on this by nature of his fine cooking ability and Russian last name, told me that borscht in his family was anything that started with: 1 onion, 1/2 head of cabbage, and 3 beets, and then they would put all sorts of stuff in it afterwards, greens, beans, even meat. Really, anything goes with borscht –  look it up in Wikipedia – there are a bazillian varieties out there and everybody’s got one (they even make it in China, with tomatoes instead of beets), but anyway, per Mr. Fadeff: 1 onion, 1/2 cabbage and 3 beets is the basic ratio I always start with.

This borscht is the hot, thick and creamy kind – which I was recently told is the Hungarian variety, as opposed to the chunky Russian kind, or the chilled ones with dill and egg, or all the other variations there seem to be out there. The horseradish addition I am crediting to my friend Katherine, from Kosmic Kitchen, who used to do a horseradish sour cream to top a delicious red root soup (also a borscht, I guess: beet soup – with the addition of carrots, parsnips, ginger and all sorts of sweet rooty deliciousness.) I also adopted the ginger from her because I really like the warm spicy complexity it adds. This soup is all about balance of opposites: sweet, sour, spicy, smooth, hot, cold and creamy. It’s a perfect with a loaf of hot whole grain bread and salad.

Creamy Beet Borscht for 8

  • 2 large onions, in 1/2″ slice
  • 1 smallish head of cabbage, cut into 1 – 3″ pieces
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 huge beets or up to 6 medium ones, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 t. white pepper
  • 1 – 2 t. Himalayan or other high mineral salt
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 6 -8 cups water
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 – 2 t. maple syrup
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger, chopped coarsely

In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot, saute onions and olive oil with a pinch of salt until sweet and slightly caramelized. About 5 minutes. Add cabbage, salt, pepper and bay leaves and continue to cook over medium flame, with the top half on, until the cabbage softens and also starts to caramelize, about 10 more minutes. Stir occasionally, and add a little water as necessary to deglaze the pan and keep it all cooking away. Add beets to the pot, and then add water (eyeball it) to about an inch or two over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the beets are thoroughly cooked though.

Remove bay leaves and blend with ginger in Vitamix or blender until completely smooth. Return to pot adjust for salt and pepper, then add vinegars and maple syrup, cautiously. The soup should be both sweet and slightly sour, and how much you add will depend on how naturally sweet your veggies are, how patiently you caramelized them, and how acidic your type of vinegar is. In any case – if it is not already “mmm… wow” ad this point, keep adjusting.

(This soup freezes really well – I do a large batch and freeze half of the batch for later).

Serve with a scoop or swirl of Tangy Horseradish Yogurt Sauce or Vegan Horseradish “Sour Cream” in each bowl.

December 31, 2012 Posted by | Recipes, Sauces, Soups, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Silky Ginger Carrot Soup

P1040513It’s starting to get blustery and cold in New York City, and all I want to do is hole up in my cozy apartment and make soup! This soup is very versatile  – I made it simply ginger for an Asian-y accompaniment to my vegetarian “Chinese Chicken” Salad and Sesame Scallion Buns meal last fall, but it can just as easily be Mexican-ed up by replacing the ginger with cumin and adding a pinch of oregano.* (And for an awesome raw version, check out this one:  Warm Winter Carrot Soup.)

The secret of this soup is to get it really really smooth – it will be ok done in a blender, but it is divine when made in the Vitamix…

Silky Ginger Carrot Soup for 6

  • 2# carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, sliced evenly
  • 2 T olive or coconut oil
  • 1 t. Himalayan or high mineral salt
  • 1/t t. white pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained**
  • 1 – 2 cups water
  • 2 – 3 T. fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 – 2 t. maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 t. umeboshi vinegar or squeeze of lemon (optional)

In the bottom of a heavy-bottomed soup pot, saute onions with salt and pepper in oil over medium heat until starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and bay leaf and sweat them another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, with a lid loosely on the pot.  Add enough water to cover carrots (about 4 cups, but you can eyeball it), bring to a boil, and cook until the carrots are tender enough to cut with a fork, but still bright orange. About 10-15 minutes, depending on how thinly you have sliced them. Remove bay leaves, add cashews, and blend in Vitamix very well, being careful to start slowly with the top securely on. You can bring the soup up to the highest speed and then leave it there for at least a minute. I walk away…

Add grated ginger, ume vinegar and 1 – 2 cups water, slowly, thinning to desired consistency. Add maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a splash of umeboshi vinegar, or a squeeze of lemon. Rewarm lightly if not serving immediately, but do not boil.

Serve garnished with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, or thinly sliced scallion tops.

*This recipe can also go East Indian if you do ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric with the onions, or Moroccan if you do all of the Indian spices but add cinnamon and a pinch of saffron in the with carrots… play with it!
**You can replace the cashews and 2 cups water with almond milk, or hemp, soy or oat milk.

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Recipes, Soups, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , | 1 Comment

Gazpacho Andaluz!

Hola from España! I am back at Suryalila and midway through cooking for about 45 people on another Yoga Teacher’s Training with Vidya. Everyone here is studying very hard right now and I am again in the Suryalila kitchen, where our team has happily hit cruising altitude and is flying smoothly through meal after beautiful meal.

What could be more appropriate for September Equinox in Southern Spain than Gazpacho Andaluz? Here is my favorite recipe – when I made it the first time I was here I was shy about how truly “Andalusian” it was, (especially with my obvious deviations, like fresh ginger!) but since then I have gotten the big thumbs-up from our local friend Manuel and many of our neighbors, so I now can proudly say it’s been officially sanctioned. The hard-boiled egg topping, “huevo duro”, was the only suggestion from Manuel – and it’s a great one – so I have added as an optional third condiment.

Gazpacho Andaluz  –  for 10

  • 4 cups fresh sweet tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups cucumbers, peeled (seeds ok), in pieces
  • 1 cup sweet red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 small red onion, cut small
  • 1 T fresh ginger, cut small
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1 T high quality sea or Himalayan salt
  • 2 T honey or coconut sugar, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in 2 cups water

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl, then blend in batches in a Vitamix until completely silky smooth, adding tomato soak water if necessary to blend, or a little ice as necessary to keep cool. Adjust for salt and sweet, and chill well before serving.

Serve well chilled in a big bowl, along with small bowls of toppings…

  1. Homemade Garlic Croutons (or leave out, for gluten-free)
  2. Mixed Veggie Topping
  3. Huevo Duro  (or leave out, for vegan version)

Homemade Garlic Croutons

Please do not use prefab croutons here! Once you try these you will never go back.

  • 8 slices of whole grain bread, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T crushed garlic

Mix garlic, salt and pepper into olive oil in a large bowl, combining well. Add bread all at once and toss vigorously to coat all the bread as evenly as possible. Taste and adjust, adding more oil and salt if necessary. It should be delicious already. Toast slowly in a dry stainless or cast iron frying pan, stirring occasionally until browned and crunchy on all sides (my favorite method, since they stay a little soft in the middle) or toast in a 325° oven until crisp through.

Mixed Veggie Topping

  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced

Combine together and toss with a little olive oil and salt just before serving.

Huevo Duro (optional)

8 high quality eggs, hard-boiled for 10 minutes and diced.

A Note on Eggs…

Please make sure your eggs come from happy, pastured hens, or forget about using them. Seriously, this soup is fantastic without the huevo duro, and the only reason I am including it is this is how they do it here in Andalusia. Everyone who lives here seems to have chickens pecking around in their back yards, and happy, sun-drenched hens make for very good eggs.  So please just skip the eggs if you can’t vouch for the happy hens.

 

September 22, 2012 Posted by | Food Consciousness, Fresh, Gluten Free, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , , | 8 Comments

Pura Vida Tortilla Soup (Raw)

“Pura Vida” literally means “Pure” and “Life”, and it is a term used loosely in Costa Rica as a greeting or farewell  – meaning things are cool, and that life is good, in balance…

This recipe was based on Ani Phyo’s Tortilla Soup Recipe in her book, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials, but I think Tracy Morrisette, the chef at the Goddess Garden, brilliantly improved it with the addition of a little nutritional yeast and chili powder. Not to mention some utterly addictive deep fried fresh tortilla strips covered in her nacho cheese-flavored spice mix! Tracy made this soup for us on the first retreat here in Costa Rica and it blew my mind: an utterly virtuous and creamy raw soup with a handful of wickedly delicious crunchiness on top. Pura Vida!

Serve this gently warmed up for a cold winter day, or at room temperature on a hot one.

Pura Vida Tortilla Soup (Raw) – Serves 6

  • 4 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 ½ t garlic
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno (or to taste)
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t ancho chili powder
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 sundried tomato halves, soaked
  • 3 cups water (use soak water from tomatoes)

Fried Tortilla Strips

  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into half inch strips
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1 T ancho chili powder

Blend the Soup: Combine all soup ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until completely smooth and creamy, taste and adjust for salt and spiciness.

Fry the Strips: Combine yeast and spices in small bowl and set aside. Deep fry tortilla strips in two or three batches until crisp and lightly brown.  Drain each batch well on newspaper covered with paper towels to catch the oil, and sprinkle generously with the seasoning mix, tossing to coat. Serve in bowls alongside soup.

Serve soup cool at room temperature, or warm slightly in a saucepan: stirring constantly and testing with a finger often to make sure it does not get too hot. Pour immediately into warmed bowls and pass the strips!

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , , , | 7 Comments

Warm Winter Carrot Soup (raw)

Raw soups in winter never sound great to me, so I wanted to do something really rich and satisfying. If you have leftover parsnip pasta from the Creamy Parsnip Fettucine recipe, just use this in place of the wine-soaked parsnips below. Yum!

Serves 4

  • Macerate 2 c shredded parsnips with 1/4 c white wine and 1/2 t salt.  Let stand overnight.
  • 1 c raw cashews or macadamia nuts, soaked 2-4 hours and drained
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend parsnips, soaked nuts, ginger and one cup of the carrot juice in a high-speed blender until its a super-smooth creamy base. Slow machine and add in remaining carrot juice until you get a rich creamy soup consistency. Whiz in coconut oil and adjust for salt and seasonings.

Warm this soup very carefully on a pot on the stove just before serving. Make sure it does not get too hot (hover over it and keep sticking your finger in the pot). Soup should not go over 115°F which is just slightly over lukewarm.

Serve in pre-warmed bowls with a few cilantro leaves as garnish.

Play with the flavors!

  • Make a Curried Carrot Soup by adding a pinch of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric!
  • Add meat and juice of one fresh young coconut, and lime for a more tropical taste

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , | Leave a comment

Delicata Soup with Cashews and Curry

It’s Fall. This soup was made to chase away snuffy noses!

This soup is vegan but gets it’s ethereal thick creamy texture from the squash and the cashews.  It is completely satisfying with a warm crusty whole grain roll and a big bright salad!

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October 29, 2009 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , | Leave a comment