A Flavourful Fall Soup

A few weeks ago I went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cave in Avon, NJ. It’s a Paleo restaurant featuring fresh, organic, and high quality ingredients that makes every dish a standout. Owner and head cook Doug Stehle creates dishes such as grilled “Tuna Salad Tacos” and one of my personal favorites, “The Bison, the Duck, and the Egg” burger.

On this particular day, he decided to delight our tastebuds with fall flavors, creating his Thai Pumpkin Soup. We ordered a bowl and practically licked it clean. Ever since that day, I’ve been craving that soup, trying to figure out how I could recreate such a flavorful and healthy dish at home.

The Soup That Will Make You Happy!
The Soup That Will Make You Happy!

Well kids… I figured it out! And since I love my readers, I’m sharing it with you.

Mind you, I didn’t use pumpkin (I was too lazy to go get one at the store) and used butternut squash instead. But feel free to substitute fresh pumpkin in! I know I’m going to this week.

As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was a hit. I even told my husband before he slurped a big spoonful, “You may want to divorce me, just so you can date me, propose to me, and marry me again.” Fair warning, you may receive an increased amount of attention. So don your “Kiss the Cook” apron and get cooking!

Knock Your Socks Off Fall Soup 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 inch of fresh garlic, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 handful chopped flat leaf parsley, thai basil, or cilantro

First, get yourself a large dutch oven on the stove around medium heat. Add in the coconut oil and onions. Cook the onions until translucent, then add the butternut squash, carrots, curry powder, chili flakes, cinnamon, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to get all of the spices blooming in the coconut oil and hugging the butternut squash, onions, and carrots. Cook for around 5-7 minutes. You want to get them semi soft, but the may point is to get as much flavour in them as possible at this moment.

Next up, add the coconut milk and water. You can also throw in a few sprigs of parsley. Let the mixture simmer for about one hour then transfer to a blender until smooth and creamy. Pour back into the pot and keep on simmer until ready to serve. You can serve with a few sprigs of fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper and salt, and even a drizzle of chipolte olive oil.

This soup is so good, you’ll want to be sure to make leftovers. So feel free to double up on the recipe. I served it with a warm wild rice noodle and kale salad with soy sauce.

Until next time, Bee Well and Eat Well!

Melissa

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For the Love of Cauliflower!

IMG_0221I admit it. I’m in love. It’s a great love. One that I expect will continue to excite me for years to come. Hopefully one that will be full of different colors, spices, and flavors. A love that makes me excited because it’s easy, yet will always bring exciting moments to the table. Yes, I’m in love with cauliflower and I don’t care who knows it!

I’ve been lucky enough to plant cauliflower at the farm I’m working at, watch it grow, and eat it. There’s nothing that is more satisfying (well not too many things.) To see those little white pillows hiding in those huge collard like leaves which you then wrap into a ponytail until the big day comes when it’s time to eat it – it’s like playing hide and go seek with your food.

Not only is it fun to plant, tend to, and harvest, but it’s also fun to eat. Especially those big leaves! Before working at the farm, I never knew how delicious those leaves were. Why would they take them off when they sell cauliflower at the supermarket? I don’t know! (Note: Both recipes below call for cauliflower leaves, however if you can only get cauliflower at the supermarket sans leaves – don’t fret! You can use collard greens or kale as a replacement).

And if I wasn’t making you excited enough for some cauliflower recipes, it’s really good for you too (of course!) Since it resembles your brain, it benefits your brain as a good source of choline and Vitamin B, both needed for brain development. It also contains sulforaphane, which has been shown to kill cancer stem cells and slow tumor growth. That same sulforaphane improve blood pressure and kidney function. It’s a known anti-inflammatory which helps calm your immune system and reduce your chances of suffering from countless inflammatory related diseases. And if that wasn’t enough, it also supports your digestive system by detoxifying and providing a good dose of fiber to keep things running smoothly. It’s packed full of vitamins including 77% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C among other vitamins such as vitamin K, thiamin, magnesium, and potassium. See, healthy things are delicious!

Below are two recipes that I’ve made recently with my CSA share. They’re both delicious and will satisfy your hunger despite being vegetarian. Cauliflower is such a hearty vegetable that you don’t even realize you’re not eating meat!

IMG_0222Roasted Cauliflower with Arugula Pesto Pasta

This recipe came about because I needed to use arugula and cauliflower, but I was craving pasta. Presto! Arugula pesto mixed with roasted cauliflower. It’s extremely satisfying. You even get a few doses of your greens for the day – all while eating pasta! It’s like a cheat day, but not!

1/2 lb Fresh Arugula
2 cloves garlic
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
Head and leaves of cauliflower (if you’re getting it at a farmer’s market you’ll have lots of huge, beautiful leaves)
Smoked paprika
1 lb whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup Parmigianno Regiano
6 very thinly sliced pancetta pieces (If you’re vegetarian, feel free to leave this out, I won’t know!)

First roughly chop (into bite size pieces) a whole head of cauliflower, leaves and everything. (If you don’t have cauliflower leaves, chop up collard greens or kale). Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the leaves are crisp and the cauliflower is cooked through.

On another baking sheet, lay thin slices of the pancetta on the sheet and bake until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes). Be aware that it will smoke, so put some fans on!

Bring a pot up to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dante. Drain, reserving a 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the arugla, garlic, Parmigianno Regiano, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil until the mixture comes together to a thick paste.

In a bowl, combine the pasta and pesto. Add a little of the pasta cooking water until the pesto is loosened up enough to coat the pasta. Add the cauliflower, leaves, and crumbled bruschetta. Top with extra cheese if you want!

 

Cauliflower SoupCauliflower Soup 

During our honeymoon in Italy, my husband and I had the best cauliflower soup we’ve ever had. Well it was the first time he’s ever tried it, but it won him over. It was delicate, smooth, and not overpowering. I’ve been trying to recreate it and I think I’ve come pretty close with the below recipe. Of course, I’ve put my own spin on it, making it super healthy (no cream here) without losing any of the flavor.

 

3 tablespoons olive oil
medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
Salt, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop up the leaves of the cauliflower (you can use collards or kale instead). Toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bake for 15 minutes until the leaves are crisp.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat. Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil (I like to use chipolte flavored oil), freshly ground black pepper, the cauliflower “chips” and toasted whole wheat bread cut in cubes.

A ‘Creamy’ and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

quinoa stew

Are you sick of soups yet? Well, I’m not! There’s nothing I love more than a hot bowl of soup on a cold night to warm you up. This soup is creamy, spicy, and healthy. Yes, creamy AND healthy! It’s a combination that you may not believe, but it’s true. Instead of using cream, I just blend it all together which makes it super rich with absolutely no guilt. So you can fill up with that second serving with no worries about fitting into your jeans tomorrow morning.

Because this soup is so creamy, I like to pair it with a crunchy side dish – roasted brussel sprouts with a fresno pepper and a drizzle of honey before serving. Here are some other ideas for other types of side dishes starring brussel sprouts. It’s the perfect pairing that packs an additional punch!

Just a note, when buying sweet potatoes, pay the extra money and buy organic. Sweet potatoes, actually all potatoes, absorb many of the harmful pesticides. Conventional potato farmers have even been quoted as saying they won’t eat the potatoes they grow to sell, only the ones in their separate garden. The Environmental Working Group designated the potato as one of their Dirty Dozen. They’ve found over 37 pesticides on sweet potatoes. If you want to learn more, visit my friend’s website. It’s worth it to spend the few extra dollars to safeguard you and your family’s health!

An Organic ‘Creamy’ and Spicy Sweet Potato SoupSweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 red onion roughly chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove smashed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 bunch scallions chopped for garnish

Heat a dutch oven and add the coconut oil. Once melted, add the onions and cook until translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once you can smell the spices, add the chopped sweet potatoes. Let the sweet potatoes brown a bit over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Then add enough water to come up to just below the top of the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Use an immersion blender until the soup is creamy. You can top with chopped scallions, a drizzle of maple syrup or even goat cheese.

Seriously, this soup is amazing. I amazed myself after marking it and couldn’t wait to share with all of you! oh and guess what, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free (as long as you don’t add the goat cheese!)

Until next time

‘Bee’ Well,

Melissa

MBeeWell

If you’re interested in learning more about how I can help you in the kitchen, with your health, or in your garden, contact me at info@mbeewell.com.

‘Souper Soup’ to Fight Off That Chill

Luckily for me, I just returned from an amazing vacation skiing in British Columbia. Unfortunately for me, I caught something and am feeling a little under the weather. Not exactly what you need when you have to “get back in the swing of things.”

garlicThis year, despite the freezing temperatures and countless cold and flu warnings, I’ve been able to stay healthy all season, giving major credit to my kick ass immune system that I built up over the past few years, especially with Vitamin D supplements (more on that in another post). So how can I bump up my immune system? By making a nutrient packed ‘souper soup!’

My nutrient packed ‘souper soup’ is full of cold fighters and immune boosters including garlic, tumeric, cayenne, ginger and sweet potatoes. Here’s some tidbits about what these perceivably small ingredients do for your body in a big way!

Power Packed Ingredients

Garlic – A well-known antioxidant that also has antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties, garlic has been used as a decongestant and expectorant for decades. It packs a punch with Vitamin C, enzymes, and minerals, all which help you fight that cold. The best way to get all these effects is eating fresh raw garlic – yes, I know. For beginners, crush a clove and leave it for 15 minutes, then smear on a piece of toast with a bit of honey or olive oil to decrease the intense flavor and be sure to eat it with whomever you’re with that night otherwise you’ll be very lonely!

Turmeric-Root-and-Powder-1024x666Tumeric – This little root helps the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses, also providing sources of manganese and potassium (two immunity supporters).

Cayenne – Even if you’re not into a lot of spice, be sure to add a pinch of cayenne. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne, thins mucus in your nasal passages allowing you to breathe freely without the vapor rub! If you’re brave, try out a “flu shot” made with cayenne, lemon, ginger, and hot water. Don’t let your lips touch the cayenne – I warned you!

Ginger – Used by Chinese herbalists for centuries, ginger is an antihistamine and decongestant. It’s warming effect on the body also helps with chills.

Sweet Potatoes – They don’t just taste amazing, they’re loaded with beta-carotene which helps your body create white blood cells that help you fight off infections.

Ready to fight off that bug you’ve been combatting? Here’s an easy recipe for my ‘souper soup!’

DSC_0214

‘Souper Cold Fighting Soup’

Serves 4

4 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled, scrubbed, and chopped into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, scrubbed, and chopped
1 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup frozen kale (or 1 1/2 cups of fresh kale)
3 chicken breasts (poached then use a fork to pull apart)
2 cloves garlic, chopped and minced
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and chopped or grated (use a microplane)
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne (or more if you like it hot!)
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil (you can substitute with olive oil)

Heat a dutch oven and add the coconut oil or olive oil. Toss in the onions until translucent (5 minutes), then add the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant add the ginger, tumeric, cumin, and cayenne. This allows them to “blossom” as the chefs say. Then add your sweet potatoes and carrots. Stir to combine and after a few minutes, add enough water (or broth) to cover the top of the potatoes. Once the pot has come to a boil, decrease the heat to simmer and put the top on. (If you’re using fresh kale, add that now in batches).

Once the potatoes are fork tender, add the beans, pulled chicken, and kale. Let sit for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Do you have a ‘go to’ cold fighting remedy that doesn’t involve over the counter medication? Let me know below!

Until next time, stay healthy and as always ‘bee well,’

Melissa

6 Steps to Enjoying Homemade Soup

We all know how comforting a big bowl of warm soup is on a wintery night. And really, who wants to leave their house when it’s cold? Not me! That’s why I love making soup from scratch. So when I found out that a client of mine didn’t know how to make her own versions of her favorite soups at home, I figured it was time to get her into the kitchen!

Making soup is really easy. It’s one of those dishes where you can do a “fridge sweep” and use everything up in your fridge (as long as you have decent ingredients!) On a side note, my client has a lot of food intolerances, so we really had to play around with the ingredients that we used in our soups. She realized within the first 20 minutes of our lesson that her intolerances really wouldn’t hinder her in enjoying amazing soup that she can easily make with only 20 minutes hands on time!

So what do you need to make healthy, tasty soup at home? Well, here are a few tricks that I shared with my class. If this list just entices you more and you decide you want to learn from a “soup master” aka me, send me an e-mail (info@mbeewell.com) and we can set up a class! I’m always happy to teach others how to manage meals in their kitchen in easy and delicious ways!

Melissa’s Soup Guidelines

My Soup Buddy : Staub Dutch Oven
My Soup Buddy : Staub Dutch Oven

1. Always use a heavy bottomed pot which successfully distributes the heat across the entire pan so that you don’t have to worry about burning your vegetables (just don’t put it on high heat and walk away – it’s heavy bottomed not magic bottomed!) Heavy bottomed pots can be easily transferred from the stove top to the oven, no extra pieces required. And of course, they look beautiful on the table – less clean up! Some of my favorite pots are Staub, Le Creuset, and Lodge. But, there are so many other brands available at your local stores at affordable prices including Kohls, Macys, and of course my favorite, Home Goods!

2. Always have the following ingredients in your cabinet and fridge to ensure amazingly delicious soups: dry or fresh herbs (especially bay leaf), hearty vegetables, starches, greens, and a liquid such as stock,white wine, red wine, or even water!

3. Start with your meat, let it get nice and brown, then remove. Then you can start cooking the rest of your ingredients. At the end, you’ll have an amazing set of “brown flavor bites” on the bottom of your pot that’s going to be a significant flavor boost to your soup! Don’t forget this!

4. Deglaze your pot! Don’t let those brown drippings go to waste!

5. Add your noodles, if you’re using them, a few minutes before you plan to eat your soup to prevent soggy sad noodles. Another great trick is to cook the noodles in a separate pot and then add to each individual’s bowl, that way everyone’s happy! (My pet peeve is overcooked noodles – al dente all the way!)

6. Enjoy! Be sure to top your soup off with some cheese, fresh herbs, avocado, citrus juice, citrus zest, or a nice loaf of crusty bread.

So the next time you’re hunkering down this winter, look in your fridge and pantry and see what you can create! The soup possibilities are endless!

Be sure to send me some of your soup creations this winter!

Southwestern Stew, Just for You (Corny!)

Yesterday, I enjoyed dinner at my friend’s house. She’s trying to learn to how to cook healthier and I rummaged through her cabinets, getting excited as I saw black beans, kidney beans, and even sweet potatoes. She asked me how to cook the sweet potatoes and I started telling her about one of my favorite dishes that’s so versatile! It’s a Southwestern Stew which can be vegetarian or not. For my friend, I’m not making it vegetarian or that spicy, but feel free to omit the chicken or add jalapeños (I do!)

Southwestern StyleP.S. I know there’s no photo to drool over – I didn’t have a picture available – so I’m hoping my friend makes it and shares the picture with all of us!

Southwestern Style Stew

3 chicken cutlets cut into bite size pieces

1 red onion

2 large sweet potatoes cut into bite size pieces

1 can black beans (rinsed)

1 cup corn (frozen or can)

1/2 cup diced celery stalks

2 cloves garlic (finely diced)

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 lime (zest and juice)

1 jalapeno (if you want it spicy)

Grated jack cheese

Cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

  • Put some olive oil in a hot deep cast iron or dutch oven. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the pieces of chicken and then remove from the pan.
  • Place the chopped onion into the pan with the sweet potatoes, celery, garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, lime zest, and jalapeno (if you are looking for a spicy stew!) Add in salt and pepper to taste. Let the sweet potatoes brown, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Once brown, add the beans, corn, tomatoes, chicken broth, and the chicken pieces. You can add some water if it’s too thick. Taste and make sure the seasoning is right. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
  • Turn the heat down to a slow simmer, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
  • Garnish with a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, shredded jack cheese, and crispy tortilla strips.

* Note: If you don’t have one or two of these ingredients, substitute it for something else! The beauty of soups is that you stay with a theme and just add the right flavors.This soup is a great way to spice up the beginning of Spring even if it’s still cold outside!