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Last chance for a Recipe Friday this year! So… here it is! I made this yesterday, and it’s wonderfully warm comfort food. Healthy, too: lots of good-for you fiber, anti-inflammatory turmeric in the curry, and the peas are a great vegetarian protein source.

Now, I grew up with grandparents who loved their split pea soup… but that was back in the day when bean soups and split pea soups were merely a bacon or ham flavor delivery mechanism. I had a container of dried split peas, but not being a bacon fan (please don’t stop reading my blog, I promise I’m still cool) I wanted something different. I didn’t have to search far to find this yummy alternative.

Curried Split Pea Soup
based on Alton Brown’s recipe

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 c split peas, rinsed and picked through
5 c vegetable or chicken broth
1 tbsp curry powder

1. Place the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and a large pinch of salt and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and continue to saute another 1-2 minutes, making sure that neither onion nor garlic brown.

2. Add curry powder and saute for an additional minute to lightly toast the spices in the oil. Then add peas and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until peas are tender and no longer hold their shape.

3. Using either an immersion blender or blending in batches in a regular blender, process soup until smooth. Adjust seasoning as desired.

This is such yummy comfort food… trust me on this one! Some cultures ring in the new year with black eyed peas for good luck… why not try split peas?

Start thinking about goals for the coming year! I’ll be back in a few days to talk more on that!

It’s almost Halloween! Got any fun plans?

I’ll admit to not really having a whole lot going on (other than a whirlwind trip to a party in Vancouver, BC, tonight) but I have a goofy costume idea. No way, nuh uh, I’m not tellin’ yet! I’ll let it be a funny surprise next week. 🙂 Stay tuned for details!

We’re starting to feel a chill in the air here, though, which makes it great to chow down on comfort food such as these burritos! I first discovered them years ago when cooking for two friends–one a vegetarian, the other trying to eliminate eggs and dairy from her diet. At the time, I had no vegan recipes in my repertoire (my, how things change). I tried this one, and–we were pleasantly surprised! I’ve since made it for several gatherings (including this past weekend’s yoga retreat) with great feedback!

So, do try out these…

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
from Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites

5 c peeled cubed sweet potatoes (small 1/2 inch cubes–you don’t want to be boiling forever)
½ tsp salt
2 tsp canola oil
3 ½ c diced onions
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced jalapeno
4 t ground cumin
4 t ground coriander
3 15 oz cans black beans, drained
2/3 c lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
8 flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place sweet potatoes in medium saucepan with salt and water to cover. Cover and bring to boil, then simmer ‘til tender. Drain and set aside.
3. While potatoes are cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet and add onions, garlic, and chile. Cook on low until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In food processor, combine the black beans, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and cooked potatoes. Puree until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl and mix in the cooked onions and spices.
5. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Spoon about 2/3-3/4 c of filling in the center of each tortilla, roll it up and place, seam-side down, in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake about 30 minutes until hot.

If you want, you can top these with fresh salsa and/or with sour cream (they wouldn’t be vegan anymore, but that’s up to you). Yum yum!!!

So, what’s your Halloween costume this year? Or… are you going to keep me in suspense, just like I’m doing with you–a taste of my own medicine???

Howdy! What’s up?

So it seems like I’ve been working my way through Mama Pea’s reciPea list recently, trying to find new uses for nutritional yeast (it’s good’n’good for you!). I found another yummy one last night, and I’ll be making another batch to share over the weekend!

This one is Pizza Quinoa Casserole. The base starts simply with quinoa cooked with veggie broth. Then, it gets mixed with a luscious, tomatoey, rich sauce containing my precious nutritional yeast and a few other seasonings. Bake it, top with whatever pizza toppings you prefer (keep it vegan or use real cheese), and… in less than an hour, you’re good to go! Cheesy, high protein, nutritious… best yet, really tasty!

Here’s the recipe, straight from her website:

Pizza Quinoa Casserole

I’m spending this weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) in downtown Seattle at Balanced Body’s Pilates on Tour! While I’m doing this to earn continuing education units to keep my certification current, I’m excited to deepen my understanding to use Pilates in a rehab setting.

Or am I a complete dork for being excited about a professional conference? (I’m sure someone out there is, right?)

I’m baaack! (still catching up!)

This was a good one! Healthy, and vegan, too! (Well until you decide to top it with cheese and sour cream. But that would be your choice, right?)

Recently, I was poking around for healthy soups and stews to have around during our wintry February June weather in the Northwest, and I found this, which also uses part of the monster pile of quinoa I acquired. I traded out the kidney beans for garbanzos because I prefer the flavor, and… I totally spaced out on adding the corn. But I’m sure it would taste great! (Heh.)

Aside from a little time for veggie chopping, this went together really quickly. Hearty, tomatoey, and you can make it as spicy as you want! (Bruce didn’t miss the meat! That’s an amazing endorsement!)

Quinoa Chili
adapted from

2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot!)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 c quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 c frozen corn
1 (15.5 oz) can tomato sauce
1 c water

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and saute until tender.

2. Add salt, garlic, pepper, and spices; saute 5-10 minutes.

3. Add rinsed quinoa and stir. Add corn, tomato sauce, and water to onion/quinoa mixture. Simmer 20 minutes.

4. Add beans to the pot and simmer another 15 minutes.

5. Serve as-is (which tastes perfectly fine!) or with your favorite toppings: cheese, sour cream, avocados…

There! Finally got you your “Friday” recipe! And just in time for chili season. 😦 Hopefully we’ll break out of this weather rut soon… I think some of you on the East Coast need to give us a few degrees to balance us out, eh?

Hey guys, this is a GOOD one! Good for the taste buds and belly… but not so much for the eyes. That’s why I don’t have a snapshot. If you look at it, you have pureed spinach with spices and tomato paste… just think about what that might look like. YUK. You guys would never want to make it!

But I strongly encourage you to try this, because it is wonderful! If you’ve had this dish at an Indian restaurant before, you know how great it is. And now, you know how easy it can be to recreate it at home!

A few ingredients that may be unusual to you:

  • Paneer: an Indian cheese. If you live in an urban area, you may be able to pick it up in an international market. Otherwise, firm tofu substitutes just as well.
  • Garam masala: a warm spice blend used in Indian cooking. It combines sweet and savory, including flavors such as cinnamon and cumin. Most mainstream seasoning brands sell a garam masala mix these days.
  • Here we go!

    Paalak Paneer
    adapted from The Everything Indian Cookbook

    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 medium red onion, minced
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    1 tsp minced ginger
    1/4 c tomato paste
    1 jalapeno, minced, no seeds or ribs
    1/4 tsp turmeric
    1/2 tsp garam masala
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp coriander
    1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (to taste)
    1 10-oz package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
    1/2 c room temperature water (or more)
    1/4 c plain lowfat yogurt
    1 c paneer (firm tofu may be substituted), diced in 1/2-in cubes, pan-fried if desired
    Sea salt, to taste

    1. In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil on medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring continuously until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

    2. Add the ginger and garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.

    3. Quickly add the jalapeno, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and chili flakes; saute 30 seconds.

    4. Add the spinach (make sure most of the water has been squeezed out) and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until combined. Add the water and cook, uncovered, on low heat for about 20 minutes. If the mixture starts to dry out, add more water. Cook until the spinach is soft. Add yogurt.

    5. Puree about 3/4 of the mixture in a blender, if desired, to create a smoother sauce. (You may need to add more water.) Return to pan. If the sauce is too spicy, add more yogurt.

    6. Add the paneer or tofu to the pan, and heat everything through for about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt, fresh-ground pepper, and yogurt. Enjoy! Serve on its own or with basmati rice.

    **While it’s not the healthiest, I do prefer to pan-fry my paneer and drain/blot the pieces on paper towel. The paneer holds up to the spinach sauce a little better. You can skip this step, if you want.

    This recipe got rave reviews from friends a few weeks ago–so try it out, and wow your friends, as well! Who says you need to go to a restaurant to get good Indian food?

    Do you like Indian food? If so, what’s your favorite dish?

Happy Thanksgiving to fellow Americans! I’m not big on turkey, myself, and always eat “non-traditionally” on this holiday, so I thought I’d offer my turkey day alternative. Last week, fellow Seattle foodie (and fellow Pilates instructor! and fellow Brooke!) La Femme commented that lentil soup kept her warm and toasty in the winter. That reminded me of this lentil soup variation—definitely different, mildly acidic, and definitely fantastic! From the first time I made it, I fell in love!

Per cookbook author Deborah Madison’s suggestion, I served this over basmati rice, to give the soup more body. She also suggests adding pieces of pita that have been sautéed in olive oil until crisp—doesn’t that sound great!

Red Lentil Soup with Lime
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 c red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tbsp turmeric
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 c)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds (or 1 tsp ground mustard)
1 bunch chopped cilantro
Juice of 3 limes (or to taste)
1 large bunch spinach leaves, chopped into small pieces
1 c cooked rice
4-6 tbsp yogurt

1. Put the lentils in a soup pot with 2 ½ qts water, then the turmeric, 1 tbsp of the butter, and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart, about 20 minutes. Puree for a smooth and nicer-looking soup, if desired.

2. While the soup is cooking, prepare the onion flavoring: In a medium skillet over low heat, cook the onion in 2 tbsp of the remaining butter with the cumin and mustard, stirring occasionally. When soft, about the time the lentils are cooked or after 15 minutes, add the cilantro and cook for a minute more. Add the onion mixture to the soup, then add the juice of two limes. Taste, then add more if needed to bring up the flavors. The soup should be a tad sour.

3. Just before serving, add the last tbsp of butter to a wide skillet. When foamy, add the spinach, sprinkle with salt, and cook just long enough to wilt. If the rice is warm, place a spoonful in each bowl. If it’s leftover rice, add it to the soup and let it heat through for a minute. Serve the soup, divide the spinach among the bowls, and swirl in a spoonful of yogurt.

I tell ya, this is great stuff, especially if you like the slightly sour like I do!!! And even if you aren’t celebrating a food-engorging four-day weekend, this is great comfort food on a chilly day.

Chilly? Yep, I’m sure Seattle has made national news. My Seattle suburb got down to 9 degrees last night, and my 50-mile roundtrip airport run on Monday took 8 ½ hours… never thought I’d spend the equivalent of a workday in a car, in such a small radius! I hope it’s over, now…… (and I hope LaFemme got to Tucson!)

Are you all celebrating Thanksgiving traditionally, or non-traditionally?

It’s soup time! We have our first (potential) snow (maybe) predicted in the area for the weekend… (can you tell how much I trust the forecasters around here?) and in any case, I definitely feel a new chill in the air. A few days ago, I tried this soup recipe that I saw in the recent Shape magazine. I don’t usually make the recipes from fitness magazines, but hey, when it looks good, why not?

This one is full of good vegetables that all come together with great flavor: sweet potato, corn, tomatoes, green onion… Also, shrimp contain a lot of lowfat protein. The sweetness of the corn and sweet potatoes balanced nicely with the savory broth and thyme. It came together quickly, and was a hearty dinner with a crusty bread.

Sweet Potato and Shrimp Chowder
from Shape Magazine

¾ pound large shrimp
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c chopped scallions
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp flour
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 c diced sweet potato
1 c frozen corn
1 c diced green pepper
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp thyme leaves

1. Peel and devein shrimp, and set aside.

2. (Be prepared: this part moves fast!) In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add ½ c of the scallions and the garlic and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 5 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, and 1 ½ c cold water, then increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

3. Add potato, corn, green pepper, and black pepper and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Add shrimp and thyme leaves, raise heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until shrimp are just cooked.

4. Garnish with remaining ½ c scallions.

Enjoy! What’s your favorite winter soup?

Once again, I sing the praises of the chickpea! It is, by far, my favorite of all of the beans. Something about its creamy, nutty flavor just blends wonderfully with so many cuisines, don’t you think? And without chickpeas, we wouldn’t have hummus! (what a crime!)

This stew has a simplistic name, but when I first tried it, I was sold. It’s simple to make, and combines iron-rich spinach with the vitamin C in tomatoes, which will release the iron in the greens. Furthermore, the beans are a great protein and fiber source. And, enough with the nutrition—the garlic, rosemary, and tomatoes together just plain taste good!

Chickpea and Spinach Stew
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp fresh or dried minced rosemary
¼ c chopped parsley
1 c peeled, diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
3 c cooked chickpeas or 2 15-oz cans, rinsed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bunches spinach, stems removed

1. In a wide sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, rosemary, and half the parsley. Saute for 2 minutes, then lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 12 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in the water clinging to its leaves until tender. Add the spinach to the chickpeas, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Serve in pasta plates, top with extra virgin olive oil if desired, and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Mmmmmm! Great comfort food going into mid-October!

This one screams “one-pot ‘70’s dish comfort food”. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) But wait, there’s more! It contains the goodness of spinach and tomatoes, yet they’re hidden by a (lightened) yummy, creamy sauce that even picky eaters will enjoy. I love this casserole, and so have others that have tried it.

If you don’t do beef, it also works with ground turkey. I imagine it also works with veggie crumbles. Oh, and leftovers reheat wonderfully!

Mexican Hamburger Casserole

adapted from the internet

1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey or veggie crumbles)
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
(dash cayenne if desired for extra spiciness)
1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can RoTel (or other) Mexican-style tomatoes, drained
1/3 c light sour cream
1 8 oz package light cream cheese, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large skillet, brown the meat over medium heat, along with the onion. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, add the cumin and chili powder (and cayenne if desired) and thoroughly mix in. Turn off heat. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, and stir until thoroughly blended.

3. Pour mixture into oiled 8×8 casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Great way to get beans and veggies into picky eaters! It’s a great casserole to keep you warm during the winter.

As we transition into cooler times of year, I’m looking more toward soups, stews, and risottos. This has been a go-to recipe of mine for a while. It’s a dairy-free risotto, and meat-free as well. The original recipe calls for tarragon, but I substituted fennel seed the first time I made it, since I had no tarragon on hand. Bruce understood that there was no meat in the dish, but the flavor of the fennel tricked his tastebuds into believing there may be some sausage… and he happily scarfed down consumed the meat-free dish!

This risotto uses Arborio rice, which is a standard in risotto preparation, and it also contains wild rice, which is high in fiber and potassium. I’ve modified the original in a few places. This dish is truly outstanding.

Wild Risotto
from Vegetarian Planet

1 cup water
1/4 c uncooked wild rice
4 c water or vegetable stock (I suggest stock)
2 tsp olive oil
6 scallions, both white and green parts, chopped fine (I use regular onions sometimes. Tastes just as good, though you don’t get so much color in the dish.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ c uncooked Arborio rice
½ c dry white wine
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon, or ½ tsp dried tarragon (I use fennel seed, crushed)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2/3 c coconut milk (light works great)
1 c fresh, or frozen and thawed, peas (I can’t stand peas, so I’ve always omitted these)

1. In a saucepan, bring the 1 c water to a boil. Add the wild rice, cover the pan, and reduce the heat. Simmer 25 minutes. Drain the rice.

2. In a saucepan, bring the 4 c water or stock to a simmer, and keep it hot.

3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the scallions and garlic over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the Arborio rice, and stir it for 2 minutes. Add the wine, the wild rice, and the tarragon. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, then add ½ c of the heated stock or water. Stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed, then add ½ c more water or stock. Continue adding the water or stock in this manner, waiting between additions until the liquid is absorbed and stirring frequently. After about 18 to 20 minutes, most of the liquid should be used, and the rice should be tender but still slightly chewy.

4. When all of the stock or water is used, add the tomatoes, coconut milk, and peas. Stir the mixture, and simmer it, stirring often, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve at once. (I find it reheats well, too!)

Enjoy! This is a great dairy-free risotto. So many recipes need cheese or butter to avoid blandness, but this one is great! Try it, and tell me what you think!

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