Sep 15, 2009

Janet's Bean Soup with Roasted Veggies

Our friend Janet brought us this delicious bean soup that reminded me of my favorite childhood soup: Campbell's bean and bacon. I used to cook the condensed soup without adding in water then would add it to my ham, cheese, and potato chip sandwich. Sounds healthy, doesn't it? Now I can have this delicious alternative!

  • 1 pound dried navy beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 boxes vegetable broth (about 30 oz or 3 3/4 cups)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped (divided)
  1. Add beans, broth, onion, garlic, and 1 of the carrots to a crock pot and turn on low.
  2. Cook until beans are soft, about 4.5 hours.
  3. Remove from crock pot and add second chopped carrot.
What She Did:
Janet served the soup with shredded cheese, sour cream, and fresh roasted veggies. To make the veggies, she roasted 1 corn on the cob on the grill, and also put 2 jalepenos and two onion halves on the grill for a little flavor (but not to cook them). She then chopped those up with 2 tomatoes, some mushrooms, and some cilantro then put a squeeze of lime and a small shake of garlic salt over all of it.

She notes that she never makes exactly the same thing twice and often adds green chiles to the soup if she has them. She might not ever make this again, but we certainly will!

Special Diet Considerations:
The cheese and sour cream are available in rice varieties for those interested, but we haven't tried them in this soup.

Sep 14, 2009

Pakistani Cabbage on Rice

This recipe is great for the cold days of Fall and Winter. The warm spices will help to clear out minor congestion from the sinuses and chest. It is the perfect pick-me-up on a cool and gunky day. It's also very flexible to the veggies you have on hand, so don't be afraid to experiment.

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive (or vegetable) oil
  • 1 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon grated or ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can (or 1.5 cups) cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced OR two 10-15 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
  • Prepared rice to serve veggies on top of
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and stir in onions, garlic, and peppercorns. Saute until onions are tender.
  2. Mix in ginger, garam masala, turmeric, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stirring constantly, cook until onions are thoroughly coated with the seasonings.
  3. Stir 1/4 cup water into the saucepan. Mix in cabbage, chickpeas, tomatoes, and remaining water.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until all vegetables are tender, stirring often and trying to coat the veggies with the spices, taking about 20 minutes. Stir in the peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  5. Serve the vegetables on top of the warm rice.
What We Do:
This is not hot-spicy, but it is warm and spicy and therefore probably not for children who aren't accustomed to the sensation of food really warming you from the inside out. If you think your children might be OK, you could leave out the red pepper. I'm mean like that so I served it as is over some long grain brown rice on a sniffly day. I loved it! My cabbage-lover was not so fond of it, but it did curb the snifflies as intended so hey!

Aug 26, 2009

Quinoa and Lentil Soup

Cynthia Mary was served this soup at Holy Theophany Monastery in Olympia, Washington and liked it enough to ask for the recipe. She kindly made it for us and it has been our little one's favorite meal all week.

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Vegetable or olive oil for sautéing
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 cups of lentils
  • 2/3 cups or more as desired of whole quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Brown the onions and garlic with the oil in a soup pot.
  2. Add the broth, lentils, and quinoa and bring it to a boil.
  3. Turn the soup down to a simmer and cook until tender (30-45 minutes).
  4. Add the lemon juice and serve.
Further Information:
Quinoa (said keen-wah) has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. This complete protein source is also high in iron and calcium. To find out more about it, you can read here: (the rest of the site is unvetted).

This similar recipe adds carrots and rosemary to the mix. Here's a close-up of the quinoa:

Lasagna Spirals

  • 10 wide lasagna noodles
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages chopped frozen broccoli, thawed and drained OR 2.5 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
  3. In a large bowl combine broccoli, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, green onions, basil and nutmeg.
  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of the broccoli mixture along each noodle. Roll noodles to form spirals. Place in prepared dish. Spoon spaghetti sauce on and around spirals, and top with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Special Diet Considerations:
There's no way we know of to make this recipe dairy-free or vegan. It is just one of those we wouldn't even try.

An online search says there are decent gluten-free lasagna noodles available for those who need them.


Black-Eyed Pea Gumbo

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas with liquid
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 2 cups prepared rice (meaning 1 cup of uncooked rice that's been cooked)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion, pepper, and celery until tender.
  2. Pour in the vegetable broth, black-eyed peas with liquid, diced tomatoes and green chiles, garlic, and spices.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes, or until ready to serve.
  4. Add water before serving if gumbo is too thick.
  5. Serve gumbo over the rice. Enjoy!
What We Do:
You can cook the rice in the gumbo if you wish (don't add extra water and take it off when ready around the 45 minute mark), but we prefer to cook it separately because the amount of water is just right for having leftovers the next day. That means it is a little soupy on the first day, but we just pour some of the liquid out of the ladle before serving on the first day and can easily re-heat it the next day. We make our own broth with a vegan bouillon cube added to 2 cups of water. We left it on the stove simmering on very low heat all day. We served it with some cornbread muffins and green salad.

Special Diet Considerations:
If you're making this for a strict fast, the veggies can be cooked with a vegetable oil. I assume they could also just be added to the gumbo without sautéing, but haven't tried it.

Our family found this to be just the right amount of spice, but a visiting child considered it too spicy. If you have someone sensitive to spiciness, I'd recommend omitting some of the Cajun seasoning or replacing some of it with plain black pepper and/or replacing some of the tomatoes with chiles with plain diced tomatoes.


Mar 18, 2009

Heddy's Black and Red Bean Soup

This fast and easy soup came out fabulously!

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetarian vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans canned red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic; cook and stir for a few minutes to release the flavors.
  3. Season with maple syrup, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper.
  4. Pour in the vegetable broth, black beans, 1 can of red beans, and corn. Bring to a boil.
  5. Combine the other can of red beans and the crushed tomatoes in the container of a large food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
  6. Pour the processed beans and tomatoes into the soup pot and stir to blend.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes. Then serve!
What We Do:
We used fire-roasted tomatoes and did not consider the soup spicy at all. We also used 4 vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes with 4 cups of water as a broth substitute. You could make your own broth by cooking and straining veggies if you wanted. We left it on the stove simmering on very low heat all day, adding the celery toward the end. We'll add some barley next time for a full protein. We served it with some sweet cornbread.


Mar 15, 2009

Sweet Corn Tomalito (Corn Pudding)

Shown here with bean and cabbage tacos, this sweet corn pudding can be used as a side dish, a dessert, a breakfast, or a snack. Be sure to make extra as you'll probably have it for all of them!

5 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons milk or milk alternative

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter/margarine, corn flour, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. In a food processor or blender, blend one cup of the corn kernels with the water and cornmeal just until smooth. Stir into the corn flour mixture.
  3. Mix in the remaining corn, baking powder, salt, and milk until the batter is smooth. Pour into an 8x8 inch glass baking dish or the top pot of a double boiler and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  4. If using a double boiler, put an inch or so of water in the bottom pot and place the top pot above it. If using a glass baking dish, set it on top of a large saucepan of simmering water. Steam for 50 to 60 minutes, or until firm. Check the simmering water occasionally and refill if necessary.
  5. Stir pudding before serving to give it a consistent texture.
What We Do:
Smart Balance Light margarine with flax seed is non-hydrogenated, vegan, and soy-free so we used that. We used rice milk and it came out great, but now that we have the MimicCreme open, we'll use it. We also buy aluminum-free baking powder.

Bean and Cabbage Tacos

The Mister used to get these in Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila, Mexico--the center of an international peace park that never reached fruition--where they sold three for a dollar and were cooked on a gas stove. The crossing between the village and Big Bend National Park was closed in May 2002 and it effectively destroyed the remote village's way of life. Please say a prayer for the few remaining villagers, many of whom were too old or frail to relocate, who now live disconnected from the sources of income, food, medicine, electricity, warmth, care, and friendship they've known for decades. They can see and speak over the border, but a single blanket handed to them is now illegal and the next closest legal crossing is hours away over dangerous terrain.

15 corn tortillas
1 can refried beans
1/3 small head of cabbage, shredded
Vegetable or canola oil

1. Pour a thin layer of oil in the bottom of your skillet and have it warming on medium heat.
2. Place a spoonful of refried beans in the middle of a corn tortilla.
2. Sprinkle some shredded cabbage on top of the beans.
3. Fold the corn tortilla like a taco and place it in the skillet. Turn when golden to cook the other side.
4. Place the heated tacos on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

What We Do:
The Mister likes the cabbage sprinkled in after frying while I prefer it be a little softer, which is gained by adding it before frying. The tacos are shown here with pico de gallo on top and sweet corn tomalito on the side.

Special Diet Considerations:
Most canned refried beans add animal lard to the beans. The fat-free varieties do not add this extra lard and are therefore usually vegan.

Cookie Dough

This stuff is delicious as batter and nearly half didn't make it into the oven. Great for keeping in the fridge to grab a spoonful when you're wanting something cold and sweet. And since there are no eggs, you don't have to worry about the raw batter making someone ill.

2-1/4 cup unsifted all purpose flour
1 cup softened (not melted) non-hydrogenated, vegan margarine
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 oz of vegan chocolate chips
5 oz of another cookie add-in like chopped pecans, coconut flakes or more chocolate

1. If you want to bake them into cookies, pre-heat the oven to 375F.
2. In a large bowl, cream the brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, applesauce and margarine until it has a still chunky but somewhat smooth texture.
3. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.
4. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir. When the combined ingredients are smooth and thick, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (or other ingredients you desire to a total of about 10 oz).
5. If you want to use this as a raw dough (which I recommend) then cover the bowl and refrigerate it. Eat by the spoonful once chilled.
6. If you want to bake any of the dough into cookies, drop them on a greased cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes or when they are soft enough but solid enough to eat.
7. Remove from oven and place the cookies on a cooling rack.

What We Do:
While any applesauce will work, Santa Cruz' cherry applesauce gives it a distinctively delicious taste.

Special Diet Considerations:
We used Smart Balance Light margarine with flax oil as it is vegan and soy-free. The other Smart Balance margarines are not vegan, and many margarines contain soy, so watch the ingredients if it is of concern.


Mar 9, 2009

Time sure goes by fast...

Now that we're all in the Lenten Fast, it is a good time for the below video with Father Moses of Holy Resurrection Monastery on incorporating fasting into the Christian diet. The video includes sections on fasting when one has special diet considerations such as small children, non-fasting spouses, and medical needs.

Jan 6, 2009

Happy New Year! Let's feast!

Just in time for the feasts of Epiphany and Theophany is the below video with Father Moses of Holy Resurrection Monastery on incorporating feasting into the Christian diet.

Dec 21, 2008

Tomato and Artichoke Pasta

There's no way you'd get someone in my family to eat any of the foods in this meal individually, but together they make a delicious homestyle food that's easy to throw together.

This recipe is enough to feed a small army, so scale it down if necessary.

2 (14 oz) cans rinsed and broken apart artichokes
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 (14 oz) cans Italian style stewed tomatoes
1/2 (4.25 oz) can (or as desired) diced olives
2 (16 oz) cans rinsed chickpeas
1.5 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 lg onion)
6 small mushrooms, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb dry rotini or mezze penne pasta
Italian seasoning to taste
Black pepper to taste
Some oil for sautéing

1. Put one large pot of water on to boil. When it boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a skillet and add onions and garlic. Sauté on medium-high until onions are translucent.
3. Drain the water out of the pasta. Add the cooked pasta, artichokes, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, paste, sauce, onions, chickpeas, and spices to the pot. Simmer until heated through, about 8-10 minutes.

What We Do:
We use fire-roasted diced tomatoes and remove the stems from the artichokes and mushrooms, only using the tops.
This can be served cold for lunch the next day if desired.

Special Diet Considerations:
Buy wheat- or gluten-free pasta if necessary.
Use vegetable oil and not olive oil for strict fasting.

Dec 19, 2008

Deceptively Simple

I'm not a big fan of sneaking small amounts of healthy foods into otherwise not-so-healthy foods as a way to feel good about eating a brownie or a pancake. Maybe it is because I eat the healthy foods on their own enough to be able to enjoy a nice thick piece of tiramisu for what it is without too many feelings of guilt. (That kicks in about the time I'm contemplating if anyone will notice my shaving a small amount off the side of each of the remaining slices.)

However, there are some simple additions that can be made to foods to help them taste better and to bring more nutrition to your plate. If you are wondering if you're getting all the nutrition you need, try some of these ideas. Then enjoy that piece of dessert without wondering if someone snuck spinach into it.

If you're having cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles for breakfast, add fruit or nuts. Berries are particularly healthy, give you antioxidants (not just good for cleaning the laundry) and have some natural antibiotic benefits. Banana nut oatmeal or additional sliced almonds add a lot more than just taste.

Add peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic to your ommelette. You wouldn't believe all of the immune-boosting nutrition these tasty foods add. If you're like me and have a slight aversion to mushrooms, dice them finely with a food chopper and you'll probably find them to be quite good in the mix.

If you usually have toast, try adding a nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, etc) and some local honey. The honey will help with any seasonal allergies you have since it desensitizes your system to the local pollens while the nuts will add protein and other good stuff.

You can buy pre-packaged baby spinach just about anywhere. It tastes like salad greens and is great on sandwiches. If you insist on lettuce, get the protein-rich romaine or another dark, leafy green. The lighter colored head lettuce has practically no nutritive value.

Don't forget to add some cold fruits and veggies. They'll help fill you up and satisfy the desire to crunch.

If you make enough dinner the night before, you can be the envy of the office or neighborhood by having a delicious, nutritious hot meal for lunch every day.

Add in more side dishes. If you have a little of all of them, it will give you more of the nutrition and you'll be too full to load up on the fat- and calorie-dense main dish. Then you'll have enough for lunch the next day!

Don't be afraid to let the family snack while you are making dinner. Put a veggie tray out and offer it to anyone who is looking for food (including yourself). If they fill up on carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes and other good foods, it doesn't really matter that they eat a smaller portion of your cheese enchiladas, does it?


Add some frozen strawberries and pecans to the top of your small bowl of ice cream. Make fruit sorbets or smoothies.

Make fruit-based side dishes and instead of serving them with dinner, serve them as dessert. And don't underestimate the deliciousness of some fresh fruit next to some spiced freshly whipped cream (which you can make vegetarian or vegan).

Dec 18, 2008

Fruit Compote

This is a very fast, extremely easy, and in my opinion fabulously delicious recipe. It can go on or beside almost anything. I love the nutrition data on it, too.

A quarter of the recipe contains only 1g of fat with no trans or saturated fats, it has no cholesterol, no sodium, 3% of the day's protein, 17% of your fiber, 12% of Vitamin A and a good 4-5% of your Vitamins B6, E, and K, Niacin, Calcium, Magnesium, 7% of your Iron, 12% of your Potassium, and 18% of your Manganese. This stuff is great!


1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dried apricot halves, quartered
1/2 cup dried whole figs, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Simmer apple juice, brown sugar, water and lemon juice in a small pot, stirring occasionally until dissolved.
2. Add fruit and seasonings; simmer 5 more minutes or until fruits are plump and liquid is slightly thick. Serve hot or chilled.

What We Do:

Make double so there's enough for seconds!

Dec 17, 2008

Lentil Soup

Here's a soup that will warm you up on these winter evenings. Pictured here before food processing it, the soup is thick and hearty.

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
6 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon garam masala
1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in a little olive oil in a large pot for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the water, lentils, chick peas, white kidney beans, diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, garam masala, cardamom, cayenne pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil for a few minutes then simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours or longer, until the lentils are soft.
3. Puree half the soup in a food processor or blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot, stir and enjoy!

What We Do:
We put out all the ingredients and let the little one make this one. It is easy and delicious.