Heartland Revival

vegetables

Snow Day Vegetable Soup

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment

Yesterday I got woken up to "WHAT, Um, we need to go to the store...." Apparently the forecast for the beginning of the week had changed and now we were finally getting our first "real" snow! I had already been promised a trip to the History Museum so on our way there, we made a quick stop at the store to stock up on some snow appropriate foods including the fixings for vegetable soup. Well, the weatherman was right so I took a break from my snow day work to make a batch of soup to simmer until dinner. 

Vegetable soup makes me think of my childhood. I remember my mom taking leftever vegetables from dinner and putting them into baggies and into the freezer. Once our freezer was full of half baggies of corn, green beans, etc, she would defrost them all and throw everything into a big pot to simmer throughout the day. When I was little, I loved the soup EXCEPT I would always beg for her to leave out the cabbage.... but I guess we all have to grow up at some poing so I now love cabbage in my soup. (thanks, mom!)

As you know, I like being flexible when cooking so feel free to substitute or change the ratios between vegetable or spices. I use some frozen vegetables because they are convenient but fresh can be an option. Also, I make my soup without a fat, using broth to saute the vegetables but if you prefer, they can be sauteed with oil or butter. This batch makes a lot of soup, probably enough for around 6 bowls. I like to cook one big batch and then freeze for quick lunches to take to work. Hope you enjoy! 

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup
1 celery stalk
3 carrots 
1 small yellow onion
1/2 small green cabbage
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup frozen green beans
1/2 cup frozen corn (I like fire roasted)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 can of crushed tomatoes 
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
48 oz of vegetable broth (approximately)
salt and pepper to taste (keep tasting as it cooks to adjust the seasonings.. I feel like I use a good amount of salt for this soup)

1. Heat a stockpot and add a few splashes of vegetable broth. Add chopped carrots, onion and celery, season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes. 
2. Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme and oregano. Stir until the vegetables are coated in herbs and fragrant. Add more broth if needed to keep from burning. 
3. Add frozen green beans, corn and peas, stir and add more salt. 
4. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and cabbage and stir. Pour in vegetable broth until you reach the consistency you like your soup. (I like mine more stew like, while my guy likes it more liquidy)

Bring soup to a boil and then cover and let simmer at least an hour. I usually try for about 3 hours. Once you are ready to eat, remove bay leaves and serve. 

CSA:5

At Home, In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA:5

My CSA pickup was on July 3rd right before the holiday weekend so I wasn't able to plan and start enjoying until the Sunday after the 4th of July. Boy, was I glad to come home to some fresh vegetables after the (to many) fried fair foods and sweets. So far, this is the share that I am most familiar with except for the fennel... to be honest, the fennel makes me very nervous. I am not a fan of licorice and when I put the fennel away, I caught a whiff of just that. After some googling "fennel recipes", I decided on Roasted Fennel with Parmesan from Food Network. The reviews claim that the licorice taste goes away when roasted, and I love anything with parmesan on it so this seemed the best choice. As I am writing this, I have made most of the below except for the fennel so I will come back and update my experience. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!

Carrots: pickled and roasted
Potatoes: roasted and mashed
Celery: chopped and then froze for soup bases this winter
Bunched Purple Baby Onions: in salads and hash
Fennel: roasted with parmesan
Cabbage: roasted with carrots and potatoes
Cucumbers: cucumber salad
Summer Squash: squash au gratin for one
Zucchini: breakfast hash with easy-over eggs
Parsley: garnish, in cucumber salad

 

FENNEL UPDATE /// In attempt to use up the rest of my CSA, I combined the cabbage, carrots and fennel, roasted with thyme and rosemary, and then topped with fresh parmesan cheese. As a whole, it wasn't too bad! I am still getting used to the fennel flavor but am open to using it other ways to see what I like best. After all, it it very good for you!

Making Recipes Healthier: A How-to

In My Kitchen, Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
Art found  here.

Art found here.

Often times I find recipes that sound awesome but can be made a little healthier (IMO). I wanted to show you how easy it is to deconstruct a recipe and rework for maximize health benefits. I keep these 3 questions in mind when customizing recipes.

  1. How can I add more vegetables?
  2. Can I make this with less sugar? Or with a different sweetener (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
  3. Is there a more nutrient-dense or gluten-free grain to substitute with? (If the recipe calls for a grain)

Lets take this recipe I came across today. It sounds delicious, looks easy to make and I've been on a pineapple phase so this is right up my alley.

Here are the ingredients called for:

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. sweetened coconut flakes, optional
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • Serve over white rice

Here is what I would do differently:

  1. Reduce amount of pineapple (too much natural sugar) to 1 1/2 cups and add cubed zucchini (something green!) instead.
  2. Substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil. Vegetable oils cause inflammation (among other things) and the coconut oil will better complement the other flavors.
  3. Omit brown sugar as the pineapple has enough sugar. (reading comments on recipes that you've never made before can be helpful. many said that there was no need for additional sugar )

  4. Use unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the sweetened. Again, reducing sugar but not compromising flavor.
  5. Serve over soaked brown rice or quinoa instead.

There you have it! Cooking healthy food is not as hard as you think. What is a favorite recipe that you could rework to be healthier? Or what methods do you already use to make recipes healthier?

Let me know in the comments!

-Amber