Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black Bean and Kabocha Squash Soup

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday filled with delicious food and many blessings. I for one have a lot to be thankful for and I loved spending time with family to celebrate that. I hope that as the end of the year holiday craziness is upon us, we can remember that attitude of gratitude that we all have at Thanksgiving.
I've made this soup a few times and I've just gotten around to blogging about it. It's super simple and most definitely delicious. It's from the Sprouted Kitchen blog, which I highly recommend you check out. The blog is filled with beautifully photographed vegetarian food and the writers of the blog, Sarah and Hugh, just came out with a gorgeous cookbook that's totally on my Christmas list this year.
This soup is hearty and healthy, filled with all the nutrients to make your body happy in this cold weather. I love it topped with lots of avocado and cilantro, so don't skimp on the garnishes! The addition of cabbage to the soup is genius and should not be omitted. The local savoy cabbage I used was so super gorgeous, I squealed with delight when I was photographing it.
I used kabocha squash in this soup. It's a beautifully sweet squash and the skin is entirely edible. I like using it in recipes that call for butternut squash because I don't have to peel it.  Also, you can't go wrong with the proportions in this soup. I've added much more squash and more cabbage before and it's still delicious. Just season and adjust to taste.

 Black Bean and Kabocha Squash Soup (from Sprouted Kitchen)
1 Tbsp. coconut or extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped (heaping 2-3 cups)
3 cups cubed winter squash (butternut, kabocha, sweet potato would be good, too)
3 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
2 cups cooked, black beans
avocado, for garnish
cilantro, for garnish
pumpkin seeds, for garnish

1. In a large pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until just beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, cabbage, squash and water (or broth). Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes for the vegetables to cook.

3.Add the spices and the beans and stir. Let everything continue to cook another ten minutes for the flavors to blend. Salt to taste. At this point, I did a few pulses with my immersion blender through the soup, because I wanted to thicken up the broth a bit. This is optional, but makes it seem a bit thicker. You could alternatively, run just a bit of the soup through a blender or food processor, and add it back in to the pot.
Garnish each bowl with some diced avocado, a handful of chopped cilantro and some pumpkin seeds.

For more fabulous food and photos from Nourish The Roots, 
be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Green Juice

Look at that green goodness right there! Gorgeous. I've been on a juicing kick for awhile now. Each morning, I wake up to one of these giant green juices and it makes me feel so good. I've known about the health benefits of juicing fresh vegetables and fruits for a long time. After all, my first job in high school was at a juice bar, where we made different concoctions of vegetables and fruit. I've enjoyed having juices occasionally over the years, especially if I was battling a cold or just needed an extra nutrition boost. But now that I have a juicer of my own (a purchase made just about a year ago), I can enjoy them on a regular basis.

What's wonderful about juicing is that it's possible to consume very large amounts of vegetables and fruits in a very absorbable form. Basically, all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from the raw produce is quickly transported to and used by the body's cells. There's no fiber to break down and slow digestion when it comes to juice.  The juice itself is extremely detoxifying, contributing to a whole host of health benefits. So, here's to a big glass of green goodness, full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to keep your beautiful body humming along wonderfully!

Super Green Juice 
Note: when juicing vegetables and fruit, it's important for them to be organically grown so you're not ingesting toxic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc...

4-5 leaves of kale
2 collard green leaves
3 stalks of celery
half a cucumber
juice of one lemon
1 or 2 apples
1 inch piece of fresh ginger

Add vegetables and fruit to the juicer, making sure to juice the lemon by hand separately into your glass. Juicing the entire lemon with the peel is just a bad idea. Enjoy!

For more fabulous food and photos from Nourish The Roots, 
be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet Potato Coconut Kheer (Indian Style Rice Pudding)

I have the privilege of working with really talented cooks on a daily basis. I've learned a lot over the past year working in a natural foods kitchen and the experiences I've had have taught me a whole lot about cooking delicious and healthy food. This particular recipe was inspired by a dear friend whom I work with on Thursday nights. She's an incredible cook and I just love seeing all of the many flavor combinations she comes up with every time I work with her. She's also hilarious and a joy to be around. This past Thursday night, we were pretty busy (given that it was the week before Thanksgiving and we work in a food co-op) and she was trying to come up with one last thing to make that would be quick and simple so that we wouldn't have to stay really late that night. She decided on whim to make this sweet potato kheer, which is a super delicious Indian style rice pudding. Traditionally, it's made with milk or cream, but she chose to make it with coconut milk to make it vegan. I was blown away by how delicious it was and how incredibly easy it was for her to make. I took some home and gave it to my husband to try and he liked it a lot. I then realized that I had all of the ingredients on hand at home, so I whipped up a batch, too!

This dessert is rich and warming and actually quite good for you, given that it's made with all healthy ingredients and contains no refined sugar. It will certainly be a hit among all your friends, whether they're vegan or not. And I just may have it warmed up for breakfast tomorrow. It's that good.

Sweet Potato Coconut Kheer (serves 4)

1 cup short grain brown rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated (I used a cheese grater)
1 can organic coconut milk
1/4-1/2 cup pure maple syrup (sweeten to taste)
pinch of sea salt
large pinch of saffron threads
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cardamom (adjust to taste)
shredded coconut flakes, pomegranate seeds, slivered almonds, or chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)

1. Add rice and 2 cups of water to a small pot on high heat. Bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked and the water is absorbed. Remove cooked rice from the saucepan and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

2. In the same saucepan that the rice was cooked in, add the coconut oil and the shredded sweet potato. Cook over medium low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring constantly so the sweet potato doesn't stick to the pot.

3. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, sea salt, saffron, and cardamom to the sweet potato. Stir well, then add the cooked rice to the pot. Stir again and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld and the rice to warm through. Serve with desired toppings. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days and can be warmed up in a pot on the stove simply by adding a bit of water and stirring.

For more fabulous food and photos from Nourish The Roots, 
be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Five Minute Spaghetti Squash Bowl

I don't know about you, but I've been in many situations (usually at the end of a long week) where I look into my refrigerator and there's hardly anything in there but a few odds and ends. And it's during these instances where my mind starts creating and discovering ways to combine whatever little bit of produce and leftovers that I have into meals. And I have to say, most of the time, I'm pretty impressed with my brief moments of genius. This meal was the product of one of those moments.
I realize I've never talked about spaghetti squash before on the blog, but I have to say it's one of my favorite squashes to cook with. All you do it cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle it with olive oil, and roast it cut-side-up at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You then gently scoop out the flesh with a spoon and magically, you have spaghetti! Not just any type of spaghetti, but crazy healthy, vitamin A packed and perfectly al-dente spaghetti that can be used any way you would typically serve regular spaghetti. It's really awesome with a quick sauce made with sundried tomatoes and lots of garlic, I might add. Anyways, for this meal, I had half of a leftover cooked spaghetti squash in my refrigerator, plus a half head of broccoli. There were some kalamata olives leftover from a previous meal, plus a bit of goat feta cheese that I had bought as a treat a few days prior. That was about it. So, all I did was put the squash and broccoli in a frying pan with a splash of water, warmed it up until the broccoli was bright green, and topped it with the olives and cheese, plus a healthy grind of black pepper. It was one of the best lunches I had all week. Plus, it was ready to eat in 5 minutes. Gotta love those moments of genius.

For more fabulous food and photos from Nourish The Roots, 
be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Savory Breakfast

Recently, I've been changing up my routine for breakfast. For as long as I can remember, I've eaten oatmeal, lots of fruit, and nuts (usually almonds and walnuts) in the mornings. In the summertime, it's lots of fresh berries. In the fall, it's lots of apples and pears, and everywhere in between it's a mix of dried and fresh seasonal fruits. And I love my packed bowls of oatmeal very dearly. But over the last few weeks, since the local fruit season is definitely winding way down, I've been drinking a giant green juice in the morning filled with kale, celery, lemon, apple, and ginger followed by a meal with some more green. And you know what? I'm loving the way I feel. Loading up in the morning with greens is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. I'm also trying to get more healthy fats and protein into my diet, as well, so a beautiful poached egg and avocado is perfect on top of a bed of wild rice, steamed broccoli, and probiotic-rich sourkraut. It might sound weird to have such a savory meal for breakfast, but it works for me. Did you know that it's perfectly normal for the traditional Japanese (who usually live to be over 100, I might add) to eat vegetables, rice, and even fish in the mornings for breakfast? Yeah.  And to be honest, eating this in the mornings keeps me full for hours with zero signs of low blood sugar that I would normally get with oatmeal during a busy day of work. So I leave you with inspiration to have some green in your breakfast...and maybe next time I'll share my recipe for the giant green juice, as well.

For more fabulous food and photos from Nourish The Roots, 
be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mung Bean, Sweet Potato, and Squash Stew

Please don't be upset with me, dear readers. It's bad enough I've been absent from the blog for over two weeks (that never happens), but I'm here to share with you yet another soup recipe. I know, I know. Enough with the soup already. But the thing about this soup is special. See, I've made it at work now a bunch of times and every single time I do, it's gone within hours. And I've gotten loads of requests for the recipe, so it's finally here to share with the world!
I absolutely love the mung beans used in this soup because they have a similar texture to lentils (which I love), but with a bit more structure. They cook quickly, due to their small size, and they are the coolest shade of green. For thousands of years, mung beans have been used for a variety of purposes. They originated in India and were cultivated throughout Asia. The ancient Chinese used mung beans for culinary and medicinal purposes, such as dispelling heat and detoxifying the body. Today, the beans are currently being used for culinary and health purposes due to the beans' high nutritional content and value.
Mung Bean, Sweet Potato, and Squash Stew

1 cup mung beans
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
 6 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup peeled, seeded and cubed winter squash (butternut, kabocha, pumpkin)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed (or leave out the sweet potato and just use squash)
1 or 2 large carrots, chopped
2 cups collard greens, tough stems removed, and then chopped
2-3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
3 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 can of organic unsweetened whole coconut milk (totally optional, I like the soup with or without it)
1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste (the amount of salt needed will depend on how salty your stock is)

1. In a large bowl, soak mung beans overnight (or for at least 8 hours) in plenty of water. Drain and set aside. Soaking is entirely optional here, just know that the beans will be a bit more digestible if you soak them. I've made the soup with unsoaked mung beans before, and I didn't have a problem, but again, totally up to you!
2. Warm coconut oil or ghee in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add stock or water.
3. Add the mung beans, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Then add the spices. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, and adding more liquid if it becomes too thick. Remove from heat when everything is soft and cooked through. Add the chopped collard greens and allow them to wilt into the soup.
5. Add optional coconut milk and stir well to combine and heat through. Taste, add salt, and adjust for seasoning. Serve with chopped cilantro and even some diced avocado on top.

For more fabulous food and photos from Nourish The Roots, 
be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest