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3 Things to Make This Weekend

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? If you’re anywhere in the northeast, you’ve probably been making lots of small talk about the freezing weather, but it’s supposed to “warm up” a bit for a few days—in the 40′s and mostly sunny here in NYC. I’m not planning to do a ton of cooking, as I’ll be working at the hospital through Monday, but here are a few things for you to try.

golden milk 1.) Golden Milk. Bone-chilling days call for warming drinks. And no, for once in my life, I do not mean bourbon. I’ve been using turmeric and ginger potions as a col remedy for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about golden milk. Basically, you slowly boil some milk and add turmeric and ginger. Then you grind a little black pepper on top, sweeten with honey to taste.  This post from Fresh Bites Daily gives a pretty good background—and recipe. I like to use organic low-fat milk, but you can definitely use coconut milk or almond milk if preferred.

2.) Have you tried my eggplant lentil soup yet? I’m obsessed with it. Try it with a poached egg and some feta or goat cheese on top. Perfect cold-day comfort food. I like to add a little steamed kale or spinach (aka—greens that have been zapped in the microwave) for a little color, fiber, vitamin boost.

3.) This baby kale breakfast salad from How Sweet it Is. This is what I think of when I think of brunch. And by brunch I mean the kind I will never know because it involves sleeping past, like, ten a.m., but I would totally make this for lunch-called-brunch. Champagne optional. I know I’m a dietitian and all, but there is absolutely room in life for salad with bacon and poached eggs on it. If your arteries clench up just thinking about it, you could always, like, skip the baked-in-butter croutons and use olive oil instead of bacon grease in the dressing. Whatever makes it work for you.

Have a lovely weekend!

What are you planning to make this weekend? What do you think of when you think of brunch? 

 

Eggplant Lentil Soup

When the temperatures drop, I crave tomato-based soups and sauces like crazy. Perhaps it’s some misplaced longing for summer? I refuse to buy fresh tomatoes once they’re out of season because it’s kind of like dating a blander version of that ex you’re not over: Just not the same, no matter how much wine you drink.

tr_logoCanned tomatoes are the perfect solution, and I always stock up once I’ve adequately mourned the end of the summer season. When the folks at Tuttorosso tomatoes sent me a bunch, it was the perfect excuse to make an updated version of an old idea. This Eggplant Lentil soup will keep you warm on many a lonely winter night, especially since it makes, like, a billion servings. Or ten.

eggplant lentil soupEggplant Lentil Soup

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed, peeled, or diced tomatoes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 2o minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft and onion is translucent.
  3. Add spices, zucchini, pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms begin to soften and then add wine. Raise heat and bring to a boil for one minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Add lentils and cook on low another 15 minutes.

What foods do you refuse to buy out of season? Any favorite soup recipes? 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday. How’s your weekend been? Mine’s been a mix of productive and relaxing. If you’ve watched or read the the news at all recently (or signed on to any social media platform for that matter), it would be hard to not to see there’s a lot of unrest, upset, and all-around bad stuff going on around the world and at home. Though I have my own thoughts and feelings about current events, I usually prefer to keep that stuff off of the blog.

That said, I think those are the times when we especially need to remember to take a second to appreciate the positive things to help bring our focus into balance. Here’s a little list of things that have made me happy this week:

1.) I enjoyed a few more birthday dinners: Pho Grand on Tuesday and Gallo Nero last night. I’m a lucky gal.

2.) What would my life be this time of year without soup? I’ve got a new recipe coming tomorrow. eggplant lentil soup

3.) I finally got a TV. With the exception of a few months in 2012 where I had a set,this is the first time in almost 10 years. It’s not like I had anything against TV, it just wasn’t something I had. This past summer, though, I admitted to myself that I really missed being able to, like, invite someone over to watch something. I finally realized I’d been buying in to some stupid starving-artist complex about how TV was one of those things only people with normal, stable lives had and that I wasn’t entitled to one. Turned out, this weird little voice was actually just trying to keep me down to make it feel better about itself.  I can’t believe I spent so long feeling ashamed of being able to afford a monthly cable bill.

So yeah, yesterday morning, I had Open House on while I folded laundry (new guilty pleasure?). I felt like a grown-ass adult and totally liked it.

4.) Eli continues to thrive with my family and their dogs. Little dude is climbing up on chairs and things now. My dad sent me this picture of him after his latest haircut the other day. Eli Haircut Dec 2014

5.) Yesterday, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen since the freaking summertime for some yoga and vegan eats at Jivamukti. Anytime I get to catch up on girl-talk while simultaneously feeding the mushroom tooth is a win. These grilled portobellos and spicy tempeh were fantastic, especially with the turmeric tahini dressing. Jivamutkea tempeh and mushrooms

What’s brought you joy recently? 

 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things: Late August

Happy Sunday! Welcome to another Small Collection, a series I started to help me focus on the things that bring me joy. 

pumpkin pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes with sliced plum & cinnamon ricotta

So wow—late August, hello. Who’s ready for this weeks’s descent into Pumpkin Spice Land?

1.) Though I’m not a huge fan of the syrupy sweet drinks that are about to start cropping up all over the place, I do love eating real pumpkin. Here are a few of my favorites:

My palms are turning orange just thinking about all that beta-carotene deliciousness…

2.) Just thinking about September and all the business ahead has me in my weird version of nesting mode. I was working from home Thursday and Friday/trying to pretend it was the weekend, as I was on the hospital schedule for the weekend, so in addition to cleaning, running errands, and doing laundry, I made my first batch of fall-ready soup. Freezer=stocked. I made something very similar to this (minus the pumpkin/squash), mostly so I could clear my freezer of frozen veggies. august soup

I also made black garlic pulled pork chili that did have pumpkin in it. And bourbon. Lots of bourbon. That went straight into the freezer too.

3.) For now, though, berries are still in season!ricotta with berries

4.) Unrelated: I made eggplant dip twice this past week. This is a super-simple version where you just slice an eggplant lengthwise and bake, cut side down, at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Then you scoop out the insides and blend in a food processor with some garlic and olive oil until smooth. You could also add tahini, paprika, lemon, and/or liquid smoke for something a little richer. I was just being lazy. eggplant dip

In non-food things that have made me happy this week, we have Eli, pondering the universe. Eli, universe

5.) I found out that the song I’ve been singing him to help him wind down is the same song my mom used to sing to me when I was in utero. I find this creepy, weird, and awesome all at the same time.

6.) I love the way Patrick Stewart handled the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I try not to talk about my day to day work too much on the blog for confidentiality reasons, but I actually work with ALS patients one day a week in an outpatient setting. The same people wondering “how” and “why” I worked with HIV patients when I was a student are the same people asking me about my ALS work—those who know me well just know that when something feels right, I don’t shy away from it. For whatever reason, I always seem to find my way to working with individuals living with illnesses for which there is no known cure. It’s sort of related to what I was talking about last week, having a willingness to “go there” and feel the feelings. Though I wouldn’t say it’s all sunshine and rainbows, working with this population helps me tune in to the beautiful little things in life and appreciate what I have around me.

What’s brought you joy this week? 

 

Sausage and Kale Soup and Why I need a new pasta shape

One of my favorite jokes of all time goes something like this:

Two sausages were sizzling in a frying pan. One sausage said to the other, “It sure is hot in here!”

The other sausage said, “Oh my god, it’s a talking sausage!”

Anyway.

No matter how old I get, the word “sausage” will probably always make me giggle a little bit—for obvious reasons. There’s really no way around it. I have accepted this about myself.

sausage and kale pastaI first got the idea for this soup from a recipe I saw on How Sweet It Is, which calls for spicy Italian sausage and whole wheat orecchiette. However, instead of pasta, I decided to use up some brown rice that had been in my cupboard for well over a year.

I actually decided to throw out the orecchiette in there because it finally dawned on me that almost all of the not very many relationships I’ve had in the past few years ended within days of sharing a meal that contained said orecchiette, and well, f*** that. It’s 2014. I need a new pasta shape in my life. Energetically speaking, I’m sure there’s something not good about eating pasta that looks like ears, maybe to do with hearing/listening/being heard. I don’t know—I’m over-thinking this, clearly. Let’s just say I’m ready to actually learn from my mistakes by not making bad-karma-pasta anymore. Maybe I also should enforce a new rule about not making pasta too early in a relationship, since the one that did not end with orecchiette ended with ravioli.

But back to the soup…To up the fiber content, I added some green lentils and used less sausage. Speaking of sausage (let’s see how many times I can say “sausage” in one post), I went with a couple Trader Joe’s roasted garlic chicken sausages for this recipe, but you can use whatever kind you want. Turkey sausage, beef sausage, pork sausage, mystery sausage…

You can also play around with using different greens if kale’s not your thing or if you got spooked by that article you read a few weeks ago.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 cooked sausages, cut into half-moon shapes
  • ~8 cups water or broth
  • 1 bunch kale or other greens

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot. add garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and leek. Cook until onion is translucent and veggies begin to soften.
  2. Stir in spices, lentils, rice, and sausage. Cook another minute or two before adding liquid.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in kale. Allow to simmer ~30 minutes.

What’s your favorite joke? Does “sausage” make you giggle? Which pasta shape should I try next? 

Chickpeas, Mushrooms, and Kale in Spicy Tomato Sauce

spicy chickpea mushroom stewYou can tell you’re reached “a certain age” (which has nothing to do with numbers) when you go to parties and all anyone talks about is food and cooking. To be fair, this party in question was a cookie exchange hosted by someone I went to grad school and did my dietetic internship with, and the guest list included some of my other friends from school, so of course RDs are gonna talk food together.

Anyway, after hearing my friend Natalie’s plans for a spicy stew she was making for dinner that night, I went home and whipped up something similar using what I had lying around. It’s kind of similar to my favorite post-Christmas detox dish, but soupier and spicier—perfect for a cold January night!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale and/or spinach
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Directions: 

1.Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and shallot. Sauté until fragrant and shallot is translucent.

2.Add greens and cook until they start to wilt. Add spices.

3.Add mushrooms. Cook until they begin to soften. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer ~5 minutes.

4.Add chickpeas. Mix everything well and cook until greens are wilted and chickpeas are nice and hot. If desired, cook on low until sauce has thickened up.

 

Polar Vortex

Holy polar vortex, batman! I wish I could just stay inside and make soup.

In case you’d like to do the same, here are a few of my favorites:

I’d also like to wish a very happy birthday my mother, who taught me how important it is to follow your passions and listen to your intuition. Love you!mom and jess dec 18 13

Stay warm out there!

Tofu Mushroom Miso Soup

IMG_4573I’ve been using miso paste in cooking for the past 5 years or so—I think it was Mark Bittman who converted me when I started reading his books and column and getting a sense of what a well-stocked pantry really meant.

The guide he provides in Food Matters was definitely a game-changer for me, as I’d lived off instant oatmeal and canned soup in college, and now found myself sharing a kitchen with a fake-meat vegetarian who gave me a lot of crap (and lectures) for not feeling satisfied by Boca burgers and veggie hot dogs wrapped in pre-sliced bread. I felt miserable and undernourished, so coming across Bittman’s  flexitarian, “Vegan Before 6″ style was a breath of fresh air. I loved his approach to following a plant-based diet with small amounts of high-quality animal protein with an eye toward sustainability. It seemed so…sane. Vegetarian or not, I’ve always found his real-food recipes uncomplicated and adaptable, and yet somehow even the simplest feel like a step up from the everyday, even when consumed in front of a laptop on a weekday afternoon.

Miso paste, one of those key pantry items, makes a wonderful base for soups, sauces, and salad dressings. You can even use it in marinades and in foods like seitan or meatfloaf. Made from fermented soy, rice, and/or barley, it provides that “umami” flavor. Here are some other great ideas for how to use miso paste from the folks at Whole Foods (been loving their blogs lately).

Yesterday after hot yoga, I had a really strong craving for miso soup. Though I could have just gotten takeout from a local Japanese place, I had what I needed to make it at home, so I did. This recipe is far from authentic, but it makes a perfectly restorative brothy lunch for a cold winter day.

Ingredients: 

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 c miso paste (I used a mix of red and white—you can use whatever)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (you can use silken if preferred)
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • a few handfuls kale, baby spinach or other greens
  • 1 cup langostino tails, thawed from frozen (optional, but I was use some up)

Directions: 

  1. In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Add miso paste and whisk until broth forms. Add ginger and green onions.
  2. After 2 or 3 minutes, add tofu and mushrooms. Lower heat. Cover and cook ~10 minutes.
  3. Add greens and langostino tails. Cook another 10 minutes.

Serve hot. This will make about 4 large bowls of soup. Feel free to add noodles or rice in cooking if you want something heartier—I would have, but that would have meant a trip to the store, during which I would have spent another $40 on things I suddenly really, really needed.

Do you like miso soup? Do you cook with miso paste at home? 

Red Lentil Chili

Yesterday was cold.

I had the day off from my clinical job, but I had some other work to do that was going to require some time in front of the computer. Because I had day-off brain, I kept finding things to do instead of sitting down to my to-do-list items. Naturally, one of those things was to make soup.

Red Lentil ChiliI was thinking about making red lentil soup from this recipe, but I was also sort of in the mood for chili. So…this happened. Because red lentils cook so quickly, this comes together in no time at all. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner for the wintertime.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 c red lentils, dry
  • 4-5 cups water or veggie broth
  • 1 24-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 3 c spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen

Directions: 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and celery. Cook a few minutes until fragrant and onion begins to turn translucent. Add spices and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add squash and lentils. Toss well. Cook a few minutes to coat and then add water. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach. Simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy hot topped with a little goat cheese—or, you know, slightly more traditional chili toppings. This would also be great over brown rice or quinoa.

What’s one of your favorite cold-weather weeknight meals? 

Something Good

Sunday morning, I was up way early (so what else is new?) and prepping some food for the week. When I paused for breakfast, I was reminded of one of the very awesome things about being single: No one was there to tell me there was anything weird about eating soup for breakfast!

soup for breakfast

This was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. It’s basically the same as my recipe for yellow split-pea soup, only instead of cabbage, I used thawed frozen spinach. Aside from the fact that it tastes good, the hefty dose of turmeric and garlic also helps clear up whatever cold-weather bug is trying to mess with your immune system.

Like I said, cold weather makes me crave savory breakfasts for some reason—this was the perfect way to satisfy that hunger pang.

To be completely honest, as a dietitian, I’d encourage anyone to eat whatever healthy food appeals to them in the morning—sometimes we do ourselves a disservice by limiting our options to the narrow scope of what’s “normal” to eat at a particular time of day. What’s important is getting a balanced mix of nutrients to fuel you for your day!

Do you ever have soup or non-breakfast foods for breakfast? 

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