Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

30 Oct

I love squash season. The vegetables are fairly new to my diet, thanks to last year’s #unprocessed challenge, but now I jump for joy at them! No really, I squealed in happiness when I saw huge bins of squashes at the store the other night. And of course I grabbed two of them and skipped along to the produce section.

Along with squash season is of course: soup season! It’s cold out, soup warms you inside, so it’s a perfect combination to make….drumroll please….squash soup!

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Chickpeas | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This version is comforting, wholesome and super tasty. Plus the roasted chickpeas on top add a nice crunch to the creamy base beneath.

Buy yourself some squash, roast it up with a few veggies, and get cooking!

Two notes on this:

    1. The prep will take longer than it seems. Squash is not an easy vegetable to work with – you have to put some time and effort into it, so be aware of that.
    2. As a result, next time I make this, I will first peel the squash, cube it, then roast it. I think this will make life easier.

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Chickpeas | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Chickpeas, lightly adapted from Vegan Insanity

Serves 6

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 20 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-8 shallots, sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (for roasting), plus salt and pepper
  • 2-3 C organic vegetable broth
  • 1 C non-dairy milk (I use soy milk)
  • 1 tsp dried basil, plus more salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil.

Cut squash down the middle, scoop out the seeds and guts (which I saved for roasting) and chop off the stem. You COULD try: peeling the whole squash, cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds and guts, and then cubing into 1″ pieces. See here for a tutorial.

Spread 1 tbsp olive oil onto squash halves and place cut-side down on lined baking sheet. OR: toss cubes with oil and spread onto baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Combine chopped carrots, onion and shallots in a bowl and drizzle with another 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Spread onto your second lined baking sheet, reserving 1/3 the space for the chickpeas.

Speaking of chickpeas: toss them with the remaining 1/2 tbsp oil and spread out on the reserved space of the baking sheet. Sprinkle everything with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Bake this for 20-30 minutes.

Once everything is roasted well – the squash can be pierced with a fork, the veggies look browned on their edges and the chickpeas are crispy – remove it all from the oven.

Cube and peel the squash (if not done before roasting) and add to a large pot along with the roasted vegetables. Keep the chickpeas out and save them till the end!

Stir in the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth and creamy. If you don’t have one, work in batches using a stand blender to puree. Return to medium heat on the stove, stir in the basil, and add salt and/or pepper to taste.

Serve soup hot into bowls and top with roasted chickpeas. Enjoy with a salad and glass of wine!

Best Ever Vegan Chili: Boyfriend Cooks Series

29 Oct

This is THE BEST ever vegan chili. It’s not just a claim, or opinion. It is truth. My non-vegetarian boyfriend, who made this for us, can attest to that. He’s been making a lot of chili lately – it’s cold out, it’s fairly simple, and it’s easily vegetarian for me!

But this one. Oh, this one transcends all others. It’s got just a bit of spicy kick to warm you up. It’s bursting with flavor. The herbs and spices just keep adding up to create one amazing soup. It’s packed with protein and fiber – from the organic beans, to the fresh veggies, to the #unprocessed garden burgers he found on sale at Whole Foods.

This last part is important – the original recipe called for “vegetarian burger crumbles.” What might that be? Well, a quick Google search returns a slew of such products, most of which are packed full of chemicals, not real ingredients! What a shame. So instead, read your ingredients labels and opt for an unprocessed variety, the ingredients of which you actually recognize and can pronounce.

Finally, if you’re like Chris and prefer to dice all your veggies, the end result is a chili that’s uniform in texture too! An added bonus: this pot of chili is HUGE. 8 servings in this case means 8 hefty, huge bowls of deliciousness. And for the two of us, that means leftovers for days. Perfect for those busy weeknights when cooking just isn’t an option.

Best Ever Vegan Chili: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Opt for vegan cheese, or just stick with chopped scallions to garnish.

Best Ever Vegan Chili, heavily adapted from All Recipes

Serves 8

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 scant tsp sea salt
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shot (1.5 oz) jalapeno vodka (optional)
  • 2 4oz cans chopped green chili peppers
  • 3 vegetarian burger patties, crumbled (Chris used these Sunshine Burgers)
  • 2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/8 C chili powder
  • 1 envelope of vegan/organic chili spice mix
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 C frozen corn kernels
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar (our chosen topping), plain Greek yogurt, scallions, corn bread, or anything else you love with chili!

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, 5-10 minutes. Then mix in the celery, bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic, green chile peppers and vodka (if using). Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Mix in the tomatoes, chili powder, chili spice mix, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Stir in the black beans, chickpeas, and crumbled veggie burgers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving.

Best Ever Vegan Chili: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Chili wants its close-up.

Scoop into bowls, top with your favorite additions, and eat up! Some leftover 5-year aged Wisconsin cheddar was exactly the right topping on ours.

Bonus: Funny story! When I came home to see Chris making this, he informed that “we have a new spice now!” We didn’t have bay leaves before and he picked some up :) I love how the spice cabinet is growing because of him! What new spices have you acquired lately because a recipe called for them?

Fennel Orange Cranberry Slow Cooker Oatmeal

22 Oct

It’s time once again for Recipe ReDux! And the theme this month is SPICE. Not the ones you use every other day in practically every recipe. No, we’re talking those spices at the back of the cabinet that you bought once for some unknown reason and have simply forgotten about them. Autumn is a perfect time to incorporate a variety of spices in your cooking – they create a warm, hearty flavor that can brighten up any chilly day!

Fennel Orange Cranberry Slow Cooker Oatmeal | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

And the recipe I made for you will give you a bright start right in the morning. Let’s talk about fennel seed. I was first introduced to this herb in tea form by my grandparents (see bonus recipe at the bottom). If you haven’t tried it, fennel seed has a sweet anise-flavor and is just bursting with health benefits. And here are just a few of them:

  • Has many health benefiting nutrients, essential compounds, anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Contains numerous flavonoid anti-oxidants like kaempferol and quercetin.
  • Rich source of dietary fiber. 1 teaspoon of fennel seed has about 1.5 grams fiber.
  • It helps lower LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Contains essential oil properties that are known to have antioxidant, digestive, carminative, and anti-flatulent properties.
  • They have a concentrated source of minerals like copper, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and magnesium.
  • They also contain: vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C as well as many B-complex vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and niacin.

Ok, enough of the health lesson. Clearly you should be consuming more fennel, and I have just the way to do it! This slow cooker oatmeal is #unprocessed, healthy, filling and has just enough of a bright zing to it that it’s perfect to get your morning started. Plus it’s EASY. Just mix everything together in your slow cooker or crockpot, turn it on, and you’ve got a hot breakfast ready and waiting upon waking up.

Fennel Orange Cranberry Slow Cooker Oatmeal | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Fennel Orange Cranberry Slow Cooker Oatmeal, inspired by FoodNetwork

Serves 4

  • 1 C steel cut oats
  • 3 tbsp honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1 C fresh or frozen cranberries (washed)
  • 1 orange – zested and the juiced
  • 1 tsp dried fennel seed
  • 4 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 4 C water

Combine everything into your slow cooker or crockpot the night before you plan to eat this, mixing ingredients well. Cover and set to low, to cook 6-8 hours.

In the morning, stir and taste, adding honey as necessary. Serve into bowls and enjoy with a splash of your favorite non-dairy milk.

Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge up to 4 days. Reheat with a bit of water or milk in the microwave!

Bonus fennel recipe: fennel tea! Simply heat water like you would for any cup of tea. In a tea infuser, place 1 tsp of dried fennel seed and place that in your mug. Pour in hot water and let steep for five minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired. This is a great home remedy for stomach cramps, bloating or gas. Not a pleasant thought, but it really does the trick, and no drugs needed!

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series

3 Oct

It’s time once again to post a recipe made by my loving boyfriend! He has entered into October #Unprocessed along with me, so this recipe is not only easy, delicious and vegetarian, but it’s void of any “junk” ingredients. Everything is real, wholesome and unprocessed!

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

And it tastes like autumn in a pot. This was warm, comforting, and felt like it was super unhealthy, but fear not! It’s packed with fiber, potassium and tons of flavor. And you probably have all the ingredients on hand already, making it that much better for a quick weeknight meal. Get cooking!

Cooking note: you’ll see that the pasta is never drained. Cooking the other ingredients with the pasta ensures that the starches released will be absorbed by everything, making for a creamier finished product. Don’t be scared by this! It’s delicious, trust me.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta, adapted from Kitchen Treaty

Serves 4

  • 8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 4 C vegetable broth (I stocked up on an organic, unprocessed variety)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (make sure you’re buying oil that is pressed and bottled in the same area!)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (gives it a little bite)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) log fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

In a large, heavy pot, combine all ingredients except the cheese and parsley. Cover with the lid and set over high heat on the stove.

Bring the contents to a rolling boil, then let it cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will begin to thicken about halfway through. Test pasta to make sure it’s cooked to your liking, then remove from the heat.

Crumble the goat cheese and stir into the hot pasta until it’s melted in. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir and taste, adding salt and pepper as desired. Serve into bowls (easiest to do with tongs) and sprinkle on some dried parsley. Enjoy!

Vegan Taco Casserole

1 Oct

Happy October! With the new month comes a challenge: October #Unprocessed. I’ve mentioned it before, but this will be my third year participating in the challenge, and I couldn’t be more excited! The spirit of the challenge is to avoid any food item that is “processed,” which is defined by any ingredient you could not reasonably make by yourself (think chemicals, food dyes, and additives with names longer than Supercalifragilisticexpiolidocious)! Andrew over at EatingRules.com spells out the rules, if you’re interested.

In the previous two years, I learned about ingredients I had never even heard of, cooked up some crazy delicious dishes, tried new fruits and vegetables, and influenced loved ones to embrace “unprocessed” as well.

It’s not terribly difficult to give up processed foods for a month, but it is easy to fall back into old habits, buy that tasty bag of processed snacks, and carry on. This month, I look forward to foregoing all processed foods and drinks. As a result, my shopping trip last night took twice as long, given I was looking at all the labels. But it’s so worth it! My body has always felt significantly better because of the challenge. It’s amazing what your body can do with REAL foods! And while I may slip back into processed things after October ends, it’s always fewer and fewer foods that get me. More often than not, I incorporate those new grains, gourds and sweeteners into my everyday life. It IS a lifestyle change, after all!

Are you willing to give up processed foods for a month? A week? Even a day? Give it a shot :)

Vegan Taco Casserole | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Anyway, whether you take the challenge or not, this taco casserole is something you should make for dinner tonight. It’s quick, easy, versatile, healthy, and #unprocessed (and vegan, too!). It’s the perfect make-ahead that you can just pop in the oven when dinner time arrives. And it’s great for using up whatever veggies you have around – frozen corn? Throw it in. Cilantro lover? Add some on top. 3 jars of salsa in the fridge? Put them to use in this!

Vegan Taco Casserole | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Taco Casserole, adapted from MyFitnessPal

Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one red and one green)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 1.5 C cooked brown rice (or other cooked grain of choice)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C salsa of choice (I used a combination of spicy and mild)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • fresh black pepper
  • pinch of salt (there’s enough in the salsa, so you won’t need much)
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 oz queso fresco (dairy-free variety if vegan)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8″ dish and set aside.

In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic, shallot and peppers until soft and fragrant.

In a large bowl, mix together rice, beans, salsa and spices. Once veggies are cooked, stir them into the rice & bean mixture until well-incorporated.

Transfer mixture to prepared dish. Cover with chopped tomatoes.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. If using cheese, sprinkle on top and put back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes, and serve up!

You could top this with Greek yogurt, avocado, more salsa, or eat in tortilla shells, scoop up with tortilla chips, or scoop it onto a bed of lettuce. The possibilities are endless!

I entered the recipe into MyFitnessPal, and it says that one serving is only 230 calories and 6g fat! It also boats 9g protein and 8g fiber. A perfect meal :)

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