Tag Archives: healthy

Vegan Sweet Potato Bisque

12 Nov

The  cooler weather is settling in on the eastern seaboard. The leaves are turning vivid colors of yellow, orange and red and the nights are getting crisp. My brain is still fried from our super-hot summer, but I am finally open to the change of seasons. After all, it is mid-fall and it is the perfect season for my silky-smooth vegan Sweet Potato Bisque.

Bisque you say, Culinary Chick? I thought that bisque was traditionally made from seafood!

You are correct!  Traditionally a bisque is made from seafood, utilizing the trimmings  from shellfish.  The French didn’t waste anything, and came up with a technique which extracted every ounce of flavor by  sauteing the trimmings and mirepoix , simmering them in stock, adding various flavorings,  passing them through a fine sieve and finally adding a bit of cream to add a rich and silky finish to the soup. I utilized the same techniques here to achieve the desired texture: I wanted the soup to glide over the tongue and not be encumbered by bits of vegetables. It’s a bit of work, but well worth the effort!

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

4 tbl. olive oil

2 cups peeled and diced onion or leeks*

1 ½ cups peeled and diced Fuji, Gala, Jazz , Golden delicious or Honey Crisp apples

1 Tbl. fresh grated ginger

2-2½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced ( about 3 or 4 medium to large )

2- 2 ½ cups carrot juice ( available in produce isle; I used Bolthouse Farms)

3 ½ cups vegetable broth ( make your own or use Swanson Vegetarian Vegetable Broth)

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. curry powder

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed stockpot over meduim heat,  heat up the olive oil. Add the onions and apples and saute, stirring occasionally until onions are transparent and apples begin to soften, about seven to eight minutes. Do not brown; if starting to brown, turn down heat and add a bit of the broth.  Add ginger and saute until fragrant; about two minutes. Place the peeled and diced sweet potatoes in the pot and add the broth and  carrot juice. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low. Add cinnamon,  nutmeg, curry powder, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes uncovered or until potatoes are soft. Turn heat off and let stand for 20 minutes.

In small batches, process the vegetables and broth in either a blender or food processor until smooth. Place pureed soup through a fine-mesh strainer and force through with a ladle or spoon until all the liquid is extracted. Discard the pulp** and repeat until all the soup is strained. Return to pot and add almond milk and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread and salad as a lunch or a light dinner. Serves 6 to 8.

* If using leeks, cut off the green stalks and root end, saving the white part. Split the leek in half lengthwise,  dice and float the leeks in cold water. Allow the leeks to soak for 20 minutes, occasionally agitating to water to loosen the grit . Remove the leeks from the water with a slotted spoon and discard the water. Run the leeks  in cold water in a colander  for a minute and drain. Proceed with the recipe.

**I saved the pulp and gave it to my doggie in her meal. She loved it.

How to Roast Peppers at home

15 Apr

Part One of my Pepper Tutorial:

Part Two

Rigatoni with Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic

22 Feb

Last week, I ventured out and went to the store for the first time in weeks and bought some chard with the intention of posting it for the blog. Then this great lady beat me to the punch.  If you haven’t stopped by the blog Dianne’s Dishes, you should.  She puts up recipes for everything from soup to nuts five days a week, and does a great job of doing so.  I ribbed her about it, then I tried her recipe with one half of the chard ( which was quite dee-lish), and sat on the other half and pondered what I would do with the other half. This is what I came up with.

For those who aren’t familiar with chard, it is a leafy vegetable that comes in several varieties. When eaten young, ti can be used raw in salads.  Mature chard can be sauteed, roasted or used in sauces or soups. When cooked, its texture is a bit heartier than spinach, and is slightly more assertive in flavor.

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic (serves two to four)

1 bunch of fresh chard ( 1 to  1½ lbs)

2 tbl. olive oil

½ c. chopped onions

1 tbl. chopped garlic

1 ½ c. chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

8 oz. dried rigatoni or other similar pasta

2 tbl. Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare chard by cutting off the last inch or inch and a half off the ends of the stems.

Chop chard into bite-sized pieces and float in a tub of water to wash off any sand and grit.

Drain chard in colander until ready to saute.

Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender and fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add tomatoes and saute for three minutes, then add chard to pan. Toss chard with the tomato mixture and add stock.

Cook chard until wilted and leaves are tender, about seven or eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss rigatoni into chard mixture and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Thia makes a  quick and elegant light supper, and healthy to boot!

Food rules from Michael Pollan

28 Jan

Meet Michael Pollan. This man is a journalist, author teacher and public speaker. He has a common-sense approach to how we should eat to remain healthy. I was first introduced to Mr. Pollan through a co-worker ( I work for a holistic internist and physical therapist), and became very interested in his philosophy of how to eat to live. I then was fortunate enough to catch him on Oprah and his segment was riveting to me.

In the segment on Oprah, Mr. Pollan discussed how food conglomerates have made mass production of the food we consume into a science, but questions if our food production practices are healthy for us. Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Michael Pollan’s website is http://www.michaelpollan.com

Restaurant Week tips

21 Jan

Baltimore is currently celebrating its version of Restaurant Week from January 22, 2010 to February 7, 2010. Many restaurants are offering specials on menu items or prix-fixe offerings at reduced prices. If you have the time and money, this is the perfect time to try a new place out. Here are a few tips to remember when going out.

1). Make a reservation and arrive early– Most of these places are busy and making a reservation and arriving at least 15 minutes prior will ensure a pleasant dining experience.

2). Try something new– Now is not the time to order chicken. If scallops are available and you’ve never had them, try them. Don’t forget that glass of wine; ask the server for suggestions and he may find you a gem.

3). Try lunch as an alternative to dinner-Lunch is a great time to try something new. Portions are usually smaller and are great for the health conscious.

4). Be kind to your server– These people work hard, often with no benefits or other compensation. Tip them accordingly ( 15% good service, 18% great service, 20% for exceptional service). Remember that the discounted meal you enjoy during Restaurant Week would normally cost at least twice that amount other times.

5). If you like a place, go back– Restaurants are a business, and use this time to promote their businesses. If you enjoy a place, show them by giving them your return business.  Your dollars pay the salaries of cooks, dishwasher, porters and many vendors who supply everything from forks to the olives in your martini. This helps our economy and save jobs.

6). Say Thank You– You have no idea what this  simple gesture does for your server, especially if they are busy.

Many participating restaurants are offering a three-course lunch from $20.10 and three-course dinners from $35.10 ( excluding tax and gratuity).

Mangia Mangia!!

Kwik Killer Kale

16 Jan

Killer Kale with bacon, garlic and onions

Today at the office, one of the doctors at the practice received a very large “Edible Arrangement” from one of her clients. This thing was humongous, and we all ate chocolate-covered strawberries, pineapple and melon until we were full. Even then, there was enough fruit left over for an army and nobody wanted it. You know what I did.

Okay, for those folk who really know me will acknowledge that I waste nothing. NOTHING.

I took that bad boy home, took it apart and was surprised (as I pulled off the nearly five pounds of fruit left on this thing) about 1 1/2 lbs of fresh kale used as a base for the fruit-tastic sculpture. So I cooked it for dinner, and here is the recipe. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish.

(For all you veg-heads out there, omit the meat and substitute fire-roasted peppers for a little smoky flavor.  Similarly; if you loves the meat add as much or as little as you care to)

Kwik Killer Kale

2 lbs.  fresh kale

2 tbl. olive oil

4 strips diced bacon ( optional)

1/2 cup diced roasted peppers (optional)

1/2  cup thinly sliced onion

4 cloves chopped garlic ( about 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped jalapenos, poblano, or banana peppers

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water or chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste

Kale comes washed and bagged in most upscale markets. If you get loose kale, pull off stems and discard. Float kale in a sink full of cold water for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to remove all of the grit.

Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Add bacon and saute until crisp over medium heat. Remove  bacon from pan and set aside. Add onions, garlic and peppers and saute until soft. Add kale, vinegar and stock, and cover pan with a tight-fitting lid.

Cook for five minutes, then remove lid and stir kale.  Replace lid and continue to stir kale until losing its bright green color, and leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper, then top with bacon. Serves around 2 to 4 people.

For the vegetarian/vegan crowd:  Add olive oil to pan. Over medium heat, saute hot peppers, garlic and onions until tender. Add  kale and roasted peppers to pan and toss with garlic mixture. Add water and cover pan with lid. Toss and cover until kale turns dark and leaves are tender. Season and serve.

Brown Rice for breakfast: Who Knew?

13 Jan

Brown Rice with pears, walnits and skim milk

In the search for a healthy way to start my morning, I have had issues with just about every breakfast option available to me.  I hate funky textures, so I can’t get past the first three bites of  hot oatmeal before the texture of it drives me crazy. I have valiantly tried eating cold cereal, but frankly the idea of it left me, well…you know. As a child I was raised on a hot breakfast, so I’m stuck on the idea.

I once had a personal trainer who extolled the virtues of egg whites and some sort of turkey bacon or sausage. So for the past eight years ( yes), this is what I would eat, along with the bi-monthly splurge of no-cholesterol pancakes.  If it was a hot July or August morning, then a pot of coffee and fruit and toast worked just fine. But, it’s been a real issue for me. So imagine my pleasure when my boss; a holistic doctor, suggested I treat brown rice as a breakfast alternative to oatmeal or a healthy addition to my egg whites.

Eureka! I just imagined all the possibilities. For those who don’t know, brown rice is considered a whole grain because only the husk is removed. It has a delightful nutty flavor and a chewy texture.  A note to those who may be diabetic: I ran across conflicting information on the web concerning  brown rice and glycemic load ( healthy)  and glycemic index (unhealthy), so consult your doctor before adding this to your diet.

Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl

½ cup Cooked brown rice ( cook according to package)
¼  of Raw apples/pears diced
½ cup berries
2 Tbl. Raisins ( optional)
1 tbl. Chopped walnuts or almonds
¼ tsp.  ground cinnamon
¼ c. skim milk/almond milk/rice milk
Honey/Stevia to taste

Just combine these ingredients in a bowl and heat in a microwave. Enjoy