Cold weather and bean soup

Hi everyone!  Although it’s only been a week, it feels like ages since I’ve blogged!  I guess it’s been a busy week 🙂

I played hooky from work and hit the slopes with the girls!  Well, it wasn’t really hooky since I requested the day off in advance… but being off on a random weekday still felt rebellious and awesome.

slopeside

Here I am with Heather and Sheila at Sugarbush, which is quickly becoming one of my very favorite places!  Wow, the picture makes the trail look so flat… must be an optical illusion.  Seriously, it felt much steeper!  😉

In other news, Jonathan and I had a great weekend, we spent time with both of our families, plus had a fun date night in Boston.  We went to Life Alive for dinner… we both love this place so much that we’ve already decided what to try next time we go!  (Life Alive owners, if you happen to be reading this, pretty please open up a restaurant in Portsmouth.  I promise, I’ll be there all the time!!)  After dinner, we saw a comedy show with Janeane Garofalo, which was hilarious, I love her smart humor.  And then…….

cannoli

We totally indulged!  In fact that less-than-gracious picture is me holding a chocolate chip cannoli… no plate… no napkin (!!)… just cannoli, straight up!  In my humble opinion, Mike’s Pastry has the BEST cannoli in the North End, as proven by the ever-present line out the door.

Mike's!

By the end of the weekend, we were both pretty tired.  Plus, the last few days have been cold and a bit dreary here.  A perfect time for a big ol’ pot of soup!

No-Limits Bean Soup

The great thing about this soup is that no bean is off limits!  You can use any combination of dried beans… as many different types as you like.  I used Bob’s Red Mill brand mixed dried beans, or mix and match your favorites.  This recipe does require a little planning as you will need to soak the beans overnight… not a ‘spur of the moment’ meal, but totally worth the extra time!  And dried beans are far yummier and healthier than canned.

beans

  • 1 cup dried beans (expands to about 2 cups after soaking)
  • 3 small leeks, about 2 cups chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalked, chopped
  • 1 lg. can of tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado (optional garnish)

Begin by soaking the beans overnight.  Be sure to cover the beans with a few inches of water as they will expand.  Rinse the beans after soaking.

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, sautee the leek, carrot and celery until slightly soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.

beans2

Add the vegetable stock, canned tomatoes, and soaked beans.  Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to simmer for approximately two hours.  After cooking, add water or vegetable stock if needed to thin and more salt and pepper to taste.  You can always add hot pepper, but I kept the recipe mellow.  Serve topped with sliced avocado.

Now, it was a particularly cold day and true comfort food was in order… so we ate the soup with mini grilled cheese sandwiches.  Mmmmmmm!!  As there are only two ingredients, I won’t walk you through a grilled cheese recipe, but I will say this: get really good bread and good cheese… and you can’t go wrong.  We used roasted garlic baguette and smoked gouda.  And it was ‘so gouda’  (you like what I did there)  😉

bean soup

The longer cook time on this soup really lets all of the flavors melt together.  Nothing like grilled cheese and soup to ward off the freezing weather!  And this guy…..

ice moose

15 days til Spring!!  Hang in there friends!!  xox  Kristen

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Fermented foods, and a quick weeknight dinner

Hi everyone!  I wanted to pop in and share a delicious and super-quick weeknight dinner, inspired by some great local Kimchi that I spotted at a market during my trip to Burlington.  Although my 10-day whole foods cleanse is officially over, I’m keeping some of the healthy habits in place… including lots of leafy greens!

If you’ve never had Kimchi, think spicy sauerkraut, which is an under-statement of its deliciousness.  Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made by fermenting cabbage with garlic, chile, salt and spices.  Because it’s fermented, kimchi is loaded with healthy probiotics (like yogurt) which are needed to properly digest and assimilate nutrients.  Kimchi is also a good source of fiber, and vitamins A and C.  You can find kimchi at your local health food store, but most regular grocery stores carry it too… check the refrigerated section near the tofu.

Kimchi Salad

  • 3-4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2-3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 smallish beet, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 cup Kimchi
  • handful almonds, chopped
  • Dressing: whisk together 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar, 1 Tbs tamari (or soy sauce), 2 Tbs olive oil, 1Tbs peanut butter

This recipe makes enough for two.  I’m sure you all don’t need directions for assembling salad… just pile all the goodies on a plate, top with almonds and drizzle with dressing.  😉

As I was prepping, I called to Jonathan, “do you want shredded beets on your salad?”  I was shocked that he said yes… I almost didn’t ask because he usually doesn’t like beets.  In fact, he never likes them, I was joking when I asked.  WELL, Jonathan declared this the tastiest salad EVER and suggested we have it again… every night… forever.  It’s that good!!

kimchi salad2

I know what you’re thinking…. hey, what else is going on in that picture??  Well, it’s a little homemade miso soup.  🙂  This refreshing salad pairs beautifully with a warming and mild miso soup, especially in the winter!  I recently started experimenting with miso paste, which is another fermented food, packed with health benefits!  Miso has an alkalyzing effect on the body and strengthens the immune system.  It has even been touted to have anti-aging affects, and who doesn’t want that?  Miso paste can be found at your local health food store or Asian market.  If you do not have, or do not like, miso, this simple soup totally works with vegetable stock.

Mushroom Miso Soup

  • 5-6 mushrooms, very thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped, include white and green parts
  • few thin slices of red pepper
  • 3-4 Tbs miso paste

Add mushrooms, scallions and red pepper to 4 cups water and bring to a boil.  Simmer 10-15 mins.  Immediately before serving, mix the miso paste with a few tablespoons of the broth to dissolve and then add the mixture back to the soup.  Don’t boil the broth with the miso because you can overcook the healthy enzymes.  Serves 2.

(If you aren’t using miso, just replace the water with veggie stock… I bet a mushroom stock would be awesome here!)

Experiment with the amount of miso you like… you can always add a little, then add a bit more.  There are also many varieties of miso paste… if you are new to miso, you may enjoy one of the lighter flavors like white miso paste.

Happy Wednesday everyone!!  Jonathan and I are heading to an anniversary party tonight… AND we’re bringing quinoa-stuffed mushrooms!!  I love ‘sneaking’ healthy foods to unsuspecting ‘normal’ people… I hope they are a hit!  Wish me luck  😉

xox,  Kristen

An Apple a Day

Today I had lunch with my parents… the food was great and company was even better!  Over a spicy pumpkin chipotle soup and delicious quinoa salad (which I can’t wait to recreate at home), the topic of the flu came up.  Jonathan and I are currently cable-free at our casa, so it’s easy to fall behind on current events.  Well, apparently, the flu is quite bad this year.  If you, like me, were blissfully unaware of this little tidbit of information until now, not to worry!  There are many things we can do to stay healthy, starting with the foods we eat.  A perfect time to share some immune-boosting recipes.

They say garlic is as good as ten mothers due to its incredible healing properties.  Try this super easy soup next time you aren’t feeling like your usual fabulous self:

Garlic Lover’s Soup

  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • huge handful of chopped fresh spinach

Slice the top off the garlic and rub with olive oil.  Wrap in foil and roast at 425F until soft, approx. 45 mins.  Squeeze the cloves into a soup pot and smash up with a spoon.  Add the veggie stock and simmer 10 mins.  Add the spinach to wilt just before serving.  Makes one big bowl of soup.  (okay, here’s a little secret…. Carl’s Meat Market in Kittery, ME sells whole heads of freshly roasted garlic… you could definitely short-cut this recipe)

Ginger tea is another favorite of mine.  I don’t always love ginger’s potent flavor, but this brew is mellow enough for me to enjoy.

Ginger Tea

  • small piece of fresh ginger, peeled, about 1/2in chunk
  • honey and lemon

Simmer the ginger in 2-3 cups of water for 15 minutes.  Add honey and lemon to taste.  I like two lemon wedges and about a tablespoon of honey.  That was so easy, it hardly qualifies as a recipe!

ginger

Tea in the works… yum!  Oh, if you are suddenly afflicted with mug envy, I picked up that sweet mug at Salmon Falls in Dover, NH.  It’s worth a visit… you can see the in-progress pottery and purchase the finished goods!

Stay healthy, friends!   xox Kristen