loaded carrot soup

loaded carrot soup vegan quinoa

The other night I came home from work starving and exhausted.  I guess this is where normal people order takeout, but I don’t think I’ve done that in years.  Too much work, plastic, money, and I can cook something way better at home.  Not to put down anyone who does get takeout, it’s just not my style.  Cooking things myself is self-love, a way I give love to my family, and a creative outlet.

Surveying the fridge, I saw a jar of carrot soup that I’d pulled out from the freezer that morning, and decided to make my meal around that.  The result was so easy and delicious that I made it for dinner the next night, too.  Here’s the recipe.

loaded carrot soup (serves two very hungry people)

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of roasted carrot soup – this recipe is so simple and tastes amazing.  I double or triple cook it and then freeze in mason jars.

1 cup of quinoa

2 small or 1 large zucchini (other green veggies would work well here, too- like brussels or broccoli)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons seeds- like pumpkin, sesame, sunflower or a mix

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

any other toppings you’d like- fresh herbs, chili flakes, green onions, flaky sea salt, cherry tomatoes, dollop of coco yogurt, the options are endless.

METHOD

Place quinoa in a small pot with 1.5 cups of water or broth and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour the soup into a small pot to heat.

Chop up zucchini and heat oil in a skillet.  Add in zucchini and a sprinkle of salt and let sear without stirring for a minute or two on high.  Stir and let cook another minute or two until tender.  With broccoli or brussels, cover the pan at this time to let it steam a bit.  Pull off the heat, add in the garlic, and stir quickly to incorporate, taking care not to burn the garlic.

Toast the seeds in a dry pan until popping and toasty, about 2 minutes over med-high.

Divide soup between bowls and dollop the quinoa (you may not use it all) in a pile towards the side so it doesn’t disperse all the way into the soup.  Add the zucchini.  Add the avocado, seeds, and any other toppings and serve!

*also, the first picture is from when I made it the second night and wasn’t rushing.  This picture below is from the first night and arguably is even prettier.  REAL fast food.

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a fall meal prep: basics edition

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If you can squeeze in a little time on the weekend, do this: head to the market and pick up fresh, seasonal fruits, veggies and greens.  Wash them and store them so that they are ready to use.  Then make a few basics- these will vary depending on your preferences.  For us, I like to make: a vinaigrette, a pot of beans, a pot of grains, hummus, baked tofu, and almond milk.  Maybe a baked good or snack too, if I’m feeling ambitious.  Having these things on hand and ready to go makes eating healthy really easy.  Here’s our basics for this week.

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vinaigrette:

1/2 cup ACV

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallot

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

salt and pepper

whisk all ingredients together and store in a mason jar in the fridge.

pot of beans: chickpeas this week, a double batch (one for hummus and one for eating whole).  3 cups chickpeas soaked overnight, drained, and cooked until tender with salt.

pot of grains: barley this week, 2 cups of the pearled variety, simmered in a pot of boiling, salted water (like pasta) for 40 minutes or until tender.  good for grain salad, morning porridge, as a side, in soup.

hummus: beet hummus this week.  I toasted some pine nuts, too, to serve on top.  a great healthy snack and delicious dolloped on a salad.

baked tofu: super simple, just slice a block or two of super firm up and bake plain or rubbed with olive oil at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes on parchment/silicone mat.  Menawhile, mix up 2 tablespoons of tamari with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a large minced garlic clove.  Remove from oven and drizzle with the tamari mixture while still hot.  Let cool and pack in a glass container to store, making sure to pour in any tamari left in the pan.

almond milk: I’m not sure if anyone even needs a recipe, but it’s 1 cup of almonds soaked overnight.  Drain in the morning and add to a high speed blender with 1 medjool date, pinch of salt, and 4 cups of water.  You can add vanilla too if you like.  Blend on high until smooth and pour through a straining bag- I simply use my organic cotton produce bags to strain and it works great.  You can use cashews, too, without soaking or straining since they are a softer nut.  Same with hemp seeds.

chocolate bark: what’s life without chocolate?  Having this satisfying crunchy little bite in the fridge is a life saver.  Just melt 8 oz. of dark (70% +) chocolate in a bowl set over a small pot of boiling water.  Turn off the heat and mix in whatever flavorings you like- chipotle, orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, mint extract, almond extract- or keep it plain.  Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spread in an even layer as thinly or thickly as you like.  Sprinkle over toasted nuts, seeds, or anything else you want- freeze dried fruit, goji berries, hemp seeds, pepitas, hazelnuts, flaky sea salt, chopped crystallized ginger, cacao nibs- and place int the fridge until set, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from fridge and break up into 1 oz or so pieces.  I store it in a glass snaplock container in the fridge so it stays snappy.

wash/prep veggies: wash and cut up carrots for snacks.  Wash, dry and store kale, lettuce, spinach, and chard.  Wash, dry, and cut up cauliflower or broccoli or brussels.  This way, everything is ready to use and eat.

Spending a bit of time prepping is a great investment in the week ahead.  When you have things made in the fridge, it’s so much easier to stay on track with healthy eating and stress less when things (inevitably) get crazy during the week.  Even if you only have time to wash your greens and make a batch of dressing, it’s worth it!  Hope you enjoy and be sure to tag me in your meal prep on Instagram @mamaeatsplants !

 

 

 

 

 

at the market now: beets + 5 ways to use them

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I just adore beets.  Those gorgeous colors, that deep earthy sweetness, and the fact that they come with a free bunch of greens attached!!!!  YES please.  In all honesty, I really used to be disgusted by them, though.  I thought they tasted like dirt.  Thankfully my taste buds aren’t petulant babies anymore.  Beets are abundant at our local farmer’s market throughout fall, winter, and spring.  After a long hot summer, I’m dying to welcome  them back.

I usually find three varieties at our market- red (Bull’s Blood, Detroit Wonder, Cylindrica), pink with white rings inside (Chioggia, Candy Stripe), and yellow or golden.  They all taste a little different.  The golden and chioggia types taste milder and sweeter.  They are delicious raw, sliced paper thin on a mandolin (chioggia are especially gorgeous this way, as you can see all the vibrant stripes).

Beets can be roasted, pickled, steamed, eaten in salad, added to hummus, and so much more.  Cut into cubes and roast with squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rosemary and garlic for an easy side.  Slice them thinly on a mandolin, and bake with olive oil and sea salt for crispy chips.

An easy way to prep the whole bunch at once: cut off stems and tail, wrap tightly in aluminum foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour until soft.  Let them cool a bit and then open up the foil and rub it against the skin-it will slip right off.  Compost the skins and rinse off and reuse or recycle the foil.

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Treat beet greens like any other hardy green (kale, chard, etc) and saute.

At the market, choose beets that feel firm with fresh and green leaves.  The best, freshest beets will have a sort of sheen to the skin.  When you get home, wash them and cut the greens off, or they will continue to draw moisture and flavor out.  I store the roots loose in my crisper drawer.  Cut the leaves off of the stems.  Compost the stalks and store the leaves as you would any leafy green- I either wrap loosely in a slightly damp kitchen towel, or in my storage bags from The Swag (they work really well).

All that said, let’s get cooking.  Here are a few recipes that we especially enjoy using beets as the star.

citrus and beet winter salad (serves 4 as a side)

INGREDIENTS:

2 large beets, steamed or roasted, peeled and sliced into wedges (see roasting instructions above if interested)

1 small chioggia or yellow beet, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin

2 oranges, skin and pith removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise, seeds removed

1 large avocado, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup of roasted pistachios (sub any other toasted nut or seed)- roughly chopped

1/3 cup of pomegranate arils

1 small shallot, finely chopped ~ 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme OR 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped very finely

1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

a handful of leafy bitter/spicy greens, like arugula, radicchio, or endive

flaky sea salt for finishing

opional: Urfa Biber chili flakes (I had them around, they are black flakes with a mild heat and deep flavor + they look beautiful on food) black sesame seeds would do the trick too to pop the colors.

METHOD:

Place shallot and ACV in a small mixing bowl.  Let sit 2 minutes, then whisk in the oil, sweetener, herbs, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Spread the greens out over a large plate or serving platter.  Arrange the roasted beets, oranges, avocado on top.  Tuck in the raw sliced beets around the sides and in empty spaces. Sprinkle on the pomegranate arils and drizzle dressing over the salad evenly.  Sprinkle the nuts and a few pinches of flaky salt over and serve immediately.

We like to serve as a side with a nice creamy soup, like butternut or carrot + some crusty bread + the beet greens (sauteed with olive oil, shallot, lemon, and nutmeg).

+4 more recipes that can’t be beet 

crushed and crispy beets with yogurt : this is a delicious recipe.  I skip the second step of pan frying to make it easier.  Coco yogurt with a few teaspoons of lemon and pinch of salt mixed in is an easy swap for the labneh.

french “peasant” beets : I’ve made this recipe quite a few times, subbing miyoko’s vegan butter (TJ’s has the lowest price on this or you can make your own!  this is miyoko’s recipe and it’s really easy + no plastic) and a cashew cheese for the goat cheese called for.  A great dinner with a green salad and some crusty bread.

fudgy chocolate beet cake with avo frosting : GF/V, rich, dense, packed with healthy plant foods, and tastes like perfect cake.  I made these in cupcake form once to send with my son to a SAD eater’s kid’s birthday party, where I knew they’d be serving chocolate cupcakes.  They looked exactly the same and my son didn’t eat crappy corn syrup and hydrogenated oil laced cupcakes.  WIN!

ginger+star anise quick pickled beets : so easy + silky, sophisticated flavors.  A perfect dinner party starter along with some roasted almonds and some crackers and nut cheese.

Now go buy some beets and eat them all the ways 🙂  Tag me on Instagram @mamaeatsplants so I can see all your beet-y creations!

xx love to you

a week of fall cooking

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I don’t know about you, but we are so happy to be welcoming back fall.  The crisp mornings, the gorgeous oranges and reds, a whole new season of foods.  I thought it would be nice to share a seasonal, vegan week full of nourishing foods.  Seasonal foods are amazing because they align perfectly with what your body needs at this time- grounding and nourishing foods in fall, deep greens and denser fare in winter, detoxing light foods in spring, hydrating and cooling foods in summer.  Also they are cheaper, fresher, and more environmentally friendly when they’re local and not shipped from halfway around the world.

Just coming into season here in Northern California, we have: apples, pears, pomegranates, beets, cauliflower, winter squash of all types, carrots, dates, almonds, grapes, mushrooms and more.  The best way to find what’s seasonal to your area is to visit your nearest farmer’s market.

Here’s what I’m hoping to cook up this week (with links to recipe where applicable):

  1. Red lentil soup with spinach and lemon (recipe)  + a flexible fall salad
  2. Falafel feast: herby falafels + green tahini sauce + pomegranate cabbage slaw and pita or tabbouleh to round it out.
  3. PIZZA with butternut puree as a sauce.  YES PLZ. Here’s the recipe.  Serve with a nice kale or arugula salad.
  4. Dhal- is there anything more comforting than this?  There’s so many versions out there and I need to write down my own, but this is a good recipe to start except I like to add onion, and fresh shredded coconut on top.  Serve with a saffron rice (i like to add orange zest and sub the pine nuts for pistachios) and simple salad or sauteed greens.
  5. Mushroom dumpling stew.  This post includes the recipe and its an absolute obsession in our house, I’ve made it so many times (even a few times in summer!!!!) plus theres two other great recipes for easy vegan dinners in that post.  It’s so so easy, comforting and meaty (even though I leave out the faux meat).  I’ve swapped out the all purpose flour with GF all purpose with success before too.  Also, you should definitely follow Rhian (@wifelife) if you don’t already for vegan and cruelty free makeup and recipes.
  6. Pumpkin Turmeric Granola : I never made this before, but it looks so good and I love Amy Chaplin’s recipes.  It will be nice to keep around for a quick school morning breakfast for the kids with some fruit and almond milk.
  7. Beet hummus: I make Ottolenghi’s hummus recipe (my all time favorite) and then add in some roasted or steamed peeled beet (maybe 1/2 a large or 1 whole small) plus extra lemon.  So good to dollop on salads, grain bowls, dip veggies in and more.  Plus it has a gorgeous electric pink color (or neon yellow if you use yellow beets!).
  8. Simple roasted veggies.  I’ve been loving the combo of delicata squash (no need to peel!  So nice), red bell pepper, beets, cauliflower or carrots.  Toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary and roast at 400 for 30-45 minutes.  I make a nice big batch and keep the leftovers in the fridge for easy lunchbox crafting.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to try something new this week at the market or in your kitchen!  Have a lovely week and tag me on instagram @mamaeatsplants with your favorite fall foods 🙂

a flexible fall salad

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This is a seasonal favorite of ours, a colorful salad with a strong vinaigrette that can hold its own and acts as a nice counterpoint to the denser, grounding, cooked dishes that our bodies gravitate toward in winter.  There’s hearty greens, crunchy vegetables, sweet fruit, toasted nuts and/or seeds, and a garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette.  I’ve added lots of substitution suggestions in the recipe as I don’t believe in rigid cooking.  Use what you have, what you enjoy and gravitate towards, whats available and fresh in your area.  One of the pleasures of cooking is sensing and feeling instead of measuring.  Also, if you have children, whisking vinaigrette is a fun job for them and they can learn the proportions and how make it themselves over time.  Serve it as a side or as a meal with soup, or add some legumes, tofu, or tempeh to make it a complete meal.   I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

VINAIGRETTE:

1 clove garlic, minced OR 1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice OR apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard OR whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons agave nectar OR maple syrup OR honey

S+P to taste

SALAD:

1/2 a head of kale, stems removed, sliced crosswise into thin strips OR any other hearty green like beet greens, bok choy, endive, escarole, spinach, or a mix.

1 cup sliced cabbage or brussels sprouts

1 large carrot, thinly sliced or grated OR radish OR celery- anything with CRUNCH!

1 large apple OR pear OR fuyu persimmon, sliced thinly

1/2 cup pomegranate arils

1/3c toasted nuts and seeds- any or all.  pumpkin+sesame, sunflower+hazelnut, almond+hemp, pecan+poppy are great combos

METHOD:

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a large salad bowl.  Taste and adjust to your preferences.  Add in kale to bowl.  Massage until softened, 3 minutes or so.  Add in the rest of the veggies and the apple and toss to coat.  Last, sprinkle the pomegranates and nuts+seeds over the top.  Serve!