Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup with Roasted Chickpea Croutons

One word: Yum! Seriously, I kid you not, this soup is tasty. I found the original recipe in Angela Liddon's vegan cookbook, Oh She Glows, which I ever so slightly adapted to fit my on-hand ingredients. Like everything I've tried of hers, it was a winner! 

Now, if you aren't vegan and want to use chicken broth in lieu of vegetable, go for it, but with as creamy as this soup is, I highly doubt you will need to top it off with any sort of dairy (i.e. sour cream, Greek yogurt or cheese).

BTW: even if you aren't in the mood for tomato soup, don't wait to try the italian chickpea croutons. You won't be sorry. I enjoy many variations of these because they are as tasty as they are nutrient dense, making them a perfect pick-me-up snack. 

Ingredient for croutons:
•1-15oz can chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
•1-2 teaspoon oil (I used the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1 teaspoon garlic powder or granules
•1/4 teaspoon onion powder
•3/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used Celtic)

1) Heat oven to 425°. 
2) Drain chickpeas and blot excesss moisture with paper towels
3) Toss chickpeas with ingredients until evenly coated 
4) Transfer chickpeas to a baking sheet lined with tinfoil; then spread chickpeas in an even layer
5) Bake 15 minutes and then gently lift chickpeas with a spatula and bake for another 15-20 minutes until lightly charred and/or golden in color
6) Let cool 5 minutes; they'll become crisper as they cool

Ingredients for tomato soup:
•1 tablespoon oil (I used avocado)
•1-medium yellow onion, diced (1-1/2 to 2 cups)
•2 large garlic cloves, minced
•Half cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours up to 24)
•2 cups vegetable broth
•1-28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juices
•1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
•3 to 4 tablespoons tomato paste
•1 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I use a tablespoon of fresh)

1) Sauté onions and garlic in a large saucepan until the onions become translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes; remove from heat
2) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients minus the salt and pepper 
3) In a blender, I used Vitamix, blend broth and soaked cashews drained of soaking water on high until creamy and smooth
4) With the blender turned off, add the sautéed garlic-onion and tomato mixture, and blend on high until smooth 
5) Pour the tomato mixture back into the large saucepan that sautéed the onions and garlic
6) Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld together
7) Ladle hot soup into bowls and top with 1/3 to 1/2 cup chickpea croutons, salt and pepper to taste. 

*Optional garnishing may include a splash of olive oil and/or fresh minced basil leaves

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recipe: Vanilla Almond Milk

What's really great about this recipe is that it's customizable: so you can adjust just about everything in to suit your needs. Personally, I like mine a bit on the sweeter side: if I'm drinking this it's typically in its raw form, or in a as is, or in a smoothie. The caveat is I don't want to add sugar, to anything if at all possible. So, by  puréeing Medjool Dates along with the almonds, it adds just the right amount of sweetness I desire without refined sugar.

First of all, to all the naysayers that argue that dates are bad for you because they're high in sugar, you're dead wrong. Dates are loaded with at least 15 essential minerals, including selenium, which is believed to prevent cancer and support immune function; 23 types of amino acids; fiber, which is promotes healthy bowels and is a crucial component for digestion and nutrient absorption; potassium, an electrolyte that helps control blood pressure; phytonutrients and vitamins A, B and K, which helps protect mucus membranes and skin, as well as preventing several types of cancers. 

So yes, while an ounce of pitted dates do contain 19g of sugar, they are invaluable source of concentrated nutrients that promote a multitude of health benefits that some scientists say are not even found in some of the most popular fruits such as apples bananas and oranges. 

Okay, now for the recipe I have promised many. My recipe was adapted from the Oh, She Glows cookbook. I highly recommend it.

1c Raw Almonds
1 tsp Cinnamon 
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2-4 Medjool Dates
4c Filtered Water and more for soaking the nuts

Nut bag
High powered blender; Vitamix
Medium sized bowl

1. Cover almonds or nuts of choice with water and soak overnight. 
2. Drain the water and rinse well.
3. Blend soaked nuts and remaining ingredients on high for about one minute.
4. Pour mixture into a nut bag over the working bowl and squeeze gently until milk is extracted and enjoy.

1. Clean nut bag and repeat step four.
2. Blend finished product on high for an addition 30 seconds or so.  

Bon appétit 

Chocolate Avocado Pudding: Nutritious & Yummy

Get your chocolate fix with this super easy, guilt-free chocolate ganache pudding that will have you scratching your head because it's incredibly nutritious but tastes like fine dining. So don't let the main ingredient scare you away because this is the real deal! I know it's hard to believe, but it's the avocado that gives this pudding the complexity, depth and texture one expects when indulging.

Trust me, my husband HATES avocados; so when I served this to him as an after dinner dessert topped with blueberries and freshly whipped coconut cream, I didn't say a thing; he devoured it! He always says the same thing when he really likes something I've made: "Wow! This is really good; thank you babe, you always treat me so well." This of course, tickles me pink because I know if he knew what he was really eating, a food he's decided not to like, period, he'd suddenly taste what he couldn't prior to knowing and would stop eating it. 

Believe me, I could hardly contain myself from telling my husband that apparently he DOES like avocados after all. Instead, I allowed him to reminisce in my rare dessert offering until the following evening; then only after he unequivocally agreed my new recipe is a keeper did I spill it. I do however, wish I had a picture of his facial expression to share with you when he learned of my secret. It was golden! 

My kids would be so proud of me because it seriously takes up ALL my willpower not to blurt my ingredient secrets! I have ruined many successful concoctions due to this flaw of mine, of which, I have yet to master. It's just odd to me that a person isn't as excited as I to discover a creative way to sneak foods we don't like into dishes that don't sacrifice taste, texture or compromised how the food looks or smells.

Now it's your turn. Make this tonight and don't spill the beans until after everyone has finished eating and thanked you for the yummiest dessert EVER.

Bon appétit!

1 Ripe Avocado 
1/4c Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4c Almond, Coconut or Dairy Milk (or any milk alternative)
1/8-1/4c *Honey, Pure Maple Syrup (I like a combination between the two)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Blend ingredients in food processor or high powered blender such as a Vitamix until smooth. Chill and serve with toppings of choice. 

*Dates may be used in substitution of all sweetener but to do this successfully, soak pitted dates in water overnight and increase milk until the desired consistency is achieved.