healthy

Winter Veggie Stew

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Apologies for the absence- a couple things have happened in the past month or so, including a wedding (yes, ours) and a honeymoon (also ours!). We are back to cooking and today we are pining for the long, lost seasons! In California everyone raves about the weather, but we miss having actual weather- and four, distinct seasons!

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Because the rest of the country is still sort of experiencing what some might call “winter,” we decided to make a stew with a few seasonal, winter veggies. To be fair, calling this a stew is a bit generous. It’s a fairly thin soup that isn’t chunky. However, it has all of the super comforting and cozy makings of a good stew, so we’re going with it!

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This recipe was inspired by a NYT recipe, you can find that here. I do love the NYT cooking section, however I often find their vagueness disconcerting. They leave much of the decision-making up to the reader, which is fine for experienced cooks who know all of their favorite flavors and combos, but not really useful for your average person who just wants to follow a recipe and get a tasty meal out of it.

We developed our own version that changes up the ratios to make this soup not only heartier and healthier, but also less wasteful. One notable thing we southerners tend to do is try to use every part of the veggies we are cooking with. That’s what we did here. No discarding of vitamin-rich greens, and very little peeling. (It also happens to be less work- yay!)

One caveat for this recipe- you will need a blender or food processor. You will also want some string for your bouquet garni. (Don’t be offput by the fanciful French. It’s just a bunch of yummy herbs for a “broth” base).

Winter Veggie Stew

8 servings (2 cups, 120 calories each!)

Ingredients

for the bouquet garni
3 bay leaves
2 tarragon stalks
4 sage stalks
3 thyme stalks
3 rosemary stalks
2 parsley bunches

4 carrots
2 celery stalks
3 leeks
3 garlic cloves
2 turnips
1 lb russet potatoes [yes, it’s possible you’ll only need one, giant potato for this!]

salt and pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche + more to top [if you want to keep it vegan, skip the crème fraîche!]

optional to top
french bread
parmesan cheese

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Begin by creating your bouquet garni. Wash all the herbs and stack them in a giant pile. I recommend placing the bay leaves in the center to keep them from falling out. Tie them together with string like this:

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Place your bouquet garni in about 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) of water. You will want the largest pot you have for this!

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Next, prepare your veggies. This is the most time intensive process of the entire meal, and it’s a great opportunity to get your family in the kitchen to help out! You need to: wash, peel, and dice the carrots; wash and dice the celery (please include the leaves, no need to waste them!); wash and clean the leeks, slicing all but the yellow portions on the innermost layers; mince the garlic; clean, peel, and dice the turnips; clean and dice the potatoes (or potato).

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After your veggies are prepped, you’re ready to begin the super easy cooking process!

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Throw all of the veggies into the pot of water along with 4 teaspoons salt and 4 teaspoons pepper. You’re making about 16 cups of soup, so don’t worry if this sounds like a ton of spice. Simmer all of this for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After your soup is done with its initial cooking, carefully remove and discard your bouquet, I recommend even counting the bay leaves to ensure none of them escaped during cooking!

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In batches, blend your soup to a thick, but creamy consistency.

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Place it all back into the pot, and add in 1/4 cup of crème fraîche. If you are vegan, you can skip this part!

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Serve topped with parmesan, additional crème fraîche, or even some french bread!

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Enjoy!

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P.S. You can freeze this soup and it gets even better when you reheat it! Great for meal-preppers, who like to have go-to healthy meals in the freezer for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight!

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Cauliflower Tortillas and Breakfast Burritos

cauliflower tortillas

About 8000 years ago someone amazing figured out that if you grind up wheat you can get flour out of it and make delicious things. The original tools used to perform this task were made of stone, and they continued to be made of stone until the 19th century when Europe’s Industrial Revolution instigated the use of metal in mills to grind wheat. Unfortunately, these “modern” processes also take away flour’s greatest, most nutrient-rich components (the germ and bran of the wheat). As usual, I am convinced that the Romans had everything solved perfectly as they used animals or water to power a stone which ground the wheat, leaving the nutrient-dense parts intact… but that is a story for another day!

cauliflower tortilla

Alas, here we are, with a new, cautionary tale every day that demonizes flour and gluten. While I do detest this slander and mourn the loss of my favorite ingredient’s good name, it has lead us to some interesting and exciting discoveries. When we ask the question: what can I use instead of flour, we get many answers (some more disgusting than others). So far, my absolute favorite answer is: cauliflower!

We have made muffins and pizza crusts out of cauliflower with great success. Our most recent use of this oddball veggie is for tortillas. For anyone concerned with calorie or carbohydrate counts, flour tortillas are basically a no-go. They are extremely compact and therefore calorie-dense, it’s just not worth it. However, these cauliflower tortillas make for a darn good substitute. They are only 28 calories per tortilla, with 1.5 grams of fat and carbs, but a whopping 2.3 grams of protein! While they do break apart more easily than traditional flour tortillas, they are much more moist and flavorful. If you’re okay eating your burrito open-faced, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

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As for the process of making them, as far as I can tell they do require a blender. You need to rice the cauliflower, and although I’ve read that you can do that with a grater, it sounds messy and frustrating to me. With the food processor, it doesn’t take but an hour or so to make and bake them, totally worth it!

Cauliflower Tortillas

makes 6-7 tortillas

Ingredients
1 head cauliflower
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

additional items
blender
cheese cloth or tons of paper towels
parchment paper

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Loosely chop the cauliflower, discarding the green stems and leaves.

Place the cauliflower in a blender with one cup of water. Blend it until it looks almost like disintegrated styrofoam floating in the water (that’s a weird simile, but that’s what it will look like). Scoop the cauliflower out and drain it on paper towels or through a cheese cloth. You want to get it as compact as possible. Place it on a plate and microwave it for ten minutes.

When it is done cooking, take it out and carefully drain it again. I took my time with this, as the cauliflower was still very hot from the microwave. I used a combination of paper towels and a cheese cloth to get it (again) as compact and dry as possible.

Measure out two cups of the mixture (this should be essentially all of the riced cauliflower). Combine it with the eggs and spices in a medium-sized bowl.

The mixture should look like thick grits. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully shape six or seven tortillas. We used a heaping 1/4 cup of mixture for each tortilla and pushed it into a circle with the bottom of the measuring cup.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the tortillas for ten minutes. After the first ten minutes, very carefully peel up each tortilla and flip it over. They are fairly fragile, so you want to use the biggest spatula you have! Bake them for ten more minutes or until they are dry and browned! Let them cool thoroughly before enjoying them!

Try not to stack them before they are cooled, as they will stick and break apart. You can treat these like any tortilla, except they don’t wrap up as well because they break apart. If you want to add some extra crispiness and a buttery flavor, you can heat them up in a skillet with some butter! We made breakfast burritos and just enjoyed them open-faced, more like tacos! (Pictured below: open-faced breakfast burrito. Scrambled egg whites with soy sausage, shallots, shredded pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, and parsley. All on a cauliflower tortilla!)

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Five Days of Smoothie

A few weeks back, William and I tried a smoothie cleanse. We were kinda sorta committed to it (at best), so it obviously didn’t end up being a full cleanse. However, we did get into the habit of drinking smoothies for breakfast each day. We have found that often, smoothies give us more nutrition than a typical quick breakfast and they keep us full for longer. They are easy to make, and what I love most is that you know exactly what goes into them. These smoothies can be easily altered to fit your taste preferences, dietary restrictions, or nutritional needs. Each one takes about five to ten minutes to make. We calculated servings off of pint-sized mason jars (so one serving is about 2 full cups of smoothie).

I decided to post all five recipes together because they are all so simple. Essentially, you throw all of the ingredients into the blender and enjoy your smoothie! There are a few places that require more planning. For soaked oats and chia seeds you’ll want to cover them with hot water in a small dish and let them sit for about half an hour to an hour. This is more important for the chia seeds because it gives them the gelatinous texture they need to act as a binding agent for the smoothie. Oats can be included without being soaked beforehand resulting in a thicker smoothie. Also- whenever a recipe calls for frozen fruit, it is actually not required that it be frozen. If you are planning to drink the smoothie immediately, you might want to stick some of it in the freezer a few hours before you make it so that you can enjoy a cold smoothie. However, if you are planning to make it the night before, it will be refrigerated and cooled overnight anyway, so there’s no need to freeze anything!

Enjoy!

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Dill and Garlic Egg White Scramble

scrambleI was inspired to post this recipe because I absolutely hate wasting egg whites, and there is just no way around the fact that the best lava cake recipe calls for 3 egg yolks. I’m never gonna stop making that recipe, so my solution: find a delicious way to use those egg whites!

Luckily, breakfast food is my favorite category of foods. I love biscuits and bagels and croissants. Soy breakfast meats are delicious, as are breakfast potatoes (oh, the many kinds of breakfast potatoes-YUM). I even like pancakes and waffles every now and then. As a result, it was natural for me to want to use those egg whites for a yummy, weekend brunch!

For starters, I actually had to use the egg whites from 6 eggs to make a 2 serving scramble. For those of you who are planning to make this after lava cakes, just plan for only a 1 serving scramble the morning after! For those of you who are not making this recipe after having made lava cakes and would like to include the yolks, I really think you should add a little bit of milk in with the scramble before you cook it. Egg whites by themselves are amazing because they are so so fluffy even without the addition of milk (plus they’re way healthier). If you make it with the full egg, the added milk will help give them that fluffiness that is so pretty and delicious in scrambled eggs!

Dill and Garlic Egg White Scramble
Makes one serving

Ingredients
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 small clove)
1/2 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill
1/2 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley (I use Italian parsley)
1/8 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/4 of an onion)
4 tablespoons minced, tri-colored bell peppers
1/2 campari tomato, chopped
1/2 cup of cheese (Italian blend or Mexican mix are my favorites)
several dashes of cayenne and paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste

ew scrambleWhisk together the egg whites, garlic, dill, parsley, onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes. The mixture will be a little foamy but fairly thick, this is good! Then, mix in the cheese, cayenne, and paprika.

ew scrambleIn a skillet, let the olive oil get warm over medium heat and then pour in the egg mixture. You want it to be fairly warm, so that the eggs sizzle a bit when you pour them in.

ew scrambleThe sizzling will produce a nice crispy bottom and the eggs will really fluff up and cook quickly.

After a minute or two, check underneath the eggs to make sure they’re browning. Once they’ve become a little browned, flip them. Let the other side cook, and take them off before they are fully done because eggs tend to cook a little more on their own on the plate. Add kosher salt and pepper as you like!

I made this scramble with toasted everything bagels, soy sausage, and home-fried fennel potatoes, but it is so good and filling on its own that you don’t really need to have all that extra stuff.

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Enjoy!

Foods of the Deep South: Collards

collardsCollard greens are a nutrient-rich, dark green, similar to kale or turnip greens. Traditionally, they are cooked with some kind of cured or salted meat. However, because I am a vegetarian I do not cook mine with meat. Honestly, these cooked greens are unbelievable even without the meat and it makes them much, much healthier!

The pot likker (the juices that are left over after the greens are cooked) makes a delicious sauce for cornbread or yeast rolls, so you don’t have to waste any of the good nutrients! Collards are eaten all year round but are a requirement for the New Year’s Day meal that is supposed to give you luck in the coming year: collards, cornbread, and black eyed peas!

As a vegetarian, I actually try to make collards a couple times a month because of how healthy they are. I don’t love salads, and this is a great way to get A, K, and those all too easy to miss B vitamins.

Collard greens are in the same genetic family as kale, but when it comes to kale, I am not a fan. To me, kale tastes bitter and is a hard sell despite its wealth of nutritional value. Collards are an excellent substitute, and have actually been proven to be better for you than kale in some ways.

As a final argument for why you’ve got to give collards a chance (if you even need any further convincing!): this recipe only requires FOUR ingredients! Okay, so maybe it does have to sit on the stove for 2-3 hours. Yes, that is fairly time consuming, but it’s just simmering so there’s no need to actually watch it for those three hours!

This is a traditional dish from the South that is actually healthy; likewise, it’s a dark leafy green that doesn’t taste like rabbit food, so I think a little extra cooking time is okay!

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Vegetarian Collards
Makes 6-7 servings

Ingredients
2 bunches of collard greens, thoroughly washed (roughly 15 stalks)
1 medium yellow onion
38 oz vegetable broth
kosher salt to taste

Roll up the collards and cut them like you’re chiffonading basil.

collardsThe result should be long, thin strips of collards:

collardsChop up the onion, and place the onion and collards into a pot with all of the vegetable broth. Place the pot over medium-high heat and watch the mixture, stirring it every now and then until it begins to simmer.

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Turn down the heat to maintain the simmer, and  place a lid, tilted, over part of the pot. The collards need to be covered partially but really need some air venting out so that they don’t get too hot and dry up. Let them simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with kosher salt to taste.

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Enjoy!