Friday, March 28, 2014

Roasted Fennel, Leek and Pear Soup

Spring is on the way, but while you're waiting for all those fresh young greens, here is another warming soup to enjoy on a chilly day! Roasting winter vegetables intensifies their flavors, and the sweetness of pear perfectly complements the anise flavor of fennel and the savory flavor of leek, while crushed red pepper gives this hearty soup a bit of kick. I think this is the best soup I've ever made...

Roasted Fennel, Leek and Pear Soup
Serves: 6

  • 2 bulbs fennel
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 2 large leeks
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Slice the pears into segments and the fennel into rounds.
  3. Trim ends off leeks, slice lengthwise and wash well. Chop leeks.
  4. Coat the bottom of a cast-iron skillet or baking dish with olive oil.
  5. Stack the leeks, pears and fennel in your baking dish, drizzle with remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and crushed red pepper.
  6. Bake about 30 minutes, or until nicely browned.
  7. Add the roasted vegetables to a stock pot with 6 cups pure water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Purée with immersion blender. Taste for salt.
  9. Garnish with fennel fronds to serve.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Here's a recipe for transitioning from winter into spring. Asparagus is in season and on sale! There are many ways to enjoy these beautiful spring green spears, but if it's still a little chilly where you live, this seasonal soup will warm you up. I made some to bring to a dinner party with friends, and since they requested the recipe, I figured I should also share it with you!
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Serves: 6
Time: 45m (Preparation: 15m; Cooking: 30m)
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups pure water
  • 1 tablespoon wakame seaweed
  • 1 avocado
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Trim the woody ends off the asparagus and discard. Trim the tops off and set aside. Chop the stems up in small pieces.
  2. Clean the mushrooms. Mince the stems and slice the heads into thin strips.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and chopped asparagus and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the water and wakame and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.
  5. Dice the avocado and add to the soup. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. In a skillet, sauté the asparagus tops in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
  7. Ladle into bowls and garnish with asparagus tops to serve.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mushroom Umami

A trip to Princeton meant shopping at two wonderful stores: the Princeton Record Exchange, for vinyl (Fleetwood Mac: Tusk!) and the Whole Earth Center, for foodstuffs. When I saw the bulk bins gleaming through the windows of Whole Earth, I became very excited. Bulk maple syrup! I was in heaven. All I meant to purchase that day was tea and tempeh, but ended up splurging on several gourmet ingredients:  black beluga lentils, Arborio rice, a daikon radish, and one of my favorite mushrooms - maitake!

Having recently read an article in Mother Earth News about the incredible healing properties of gourmet mushrooms, when I saw this beautiful maitake in the produce section I danced for joy. Maitake aren't called 'the dancing mushroom' for nothing.

But what to make? Mushrooms only last a few days, so I didn't have much time to decide. My initial google search turned up a scrumptious-looking recipe from Vedge Restaurant, but as there were two boxes of half-empty quinoa pasta in the cupboard, I decided to invent some gourmet mac'n'cheese.

For the sauce, I soaked 1/2 cup of cashews in 1/2 cup of water until soft. Using my immersion blender, I puréed the cashews with their water, 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas and 1 teaspoon of tamari. Next I started the pasta boiling. Then I caramelized 1 thinly sliced red onion in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over low heat with a little ground black pepper and nutmeg. I tore the maitake into bite sized pieces and sautéed them with the onion for a bit. Next I added the cashew-chickpea purée, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and 1/2 cup almond milk, and left the sauce to simmer. Once the noodles were al dente, I dropped a bunch of baby spinach into the pot to steam, drained it with the pasta and plated it. The thick, creamy sauce went on top, with a little black truffle salt to garnish.

Behold, Cashew Onion Cream Sauce with Maitake Mushrooms over Quinoa Pasta with Baby Spinach!

I could feel a love of mushrooms coming over me. I still had that Arborio rice from Whole Earth, so I bought some Crimini mushrooms for a risotto.

I only have prep photos of this dish to show you, because I made it to bring to a formal dinner party and felt it would be rude to snap food pics during the meal. Trust me, though, it was delicious. 

If you're a guest at an omnivorous dinner, consider passing this risotto around. Rice and mushrooms pair well with meat dishes, and will tempt meat eaters to taste of the vegan deliciousness. It's a hearty dish all on its own, perfectly complemented by an arugula salad.

Crimini mushrooms, also known as "brown button," or "baby bella," are easy to find at the grocery store. They are firmer in texture than white mushrooms, and their rich, earthy flavor excite the umami taste buds.

There are two secrets to perfect risotto: hot soup stock and constant stirring. 

Keep some broth simmering on a back burner; adding stock that is already hot means you get risotto a lot sooner. I made my own vegetable stock for this batch, using the odds and ends left over from making another batch of fire cider (onion skins, parsley stems, citrus rinds, ginger peel).

To achieve perfect chewy consistency, stir constantly. Risotto comes out best if you use a deep, heavy pot, some cast iron or Le Creuset. I use my cast-iron wok, which distributes the heat evenly and is deeper than my skillet, resulting in perfect risotto.

Mushroom Leek Risotto
Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 ounces Crimini mushrooms
  • 3 cups Arborio rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, to garnish
  • lemon wedges, to garnish
  • Slice the ends off the leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse well, checking between layers for dirt. Wash, de-stem and slice the mushrooms. Mince the stems and the parsley. Slice the garlic cloves razor-thin.
  • Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a saucepan; reduce heat to a simmer.
  • On medium low, heat the olive oil. Sizzle the garlic slices, leeks and mushrooms with salt & pepper, until tender. Add the risotto and stir til transparent, then add 1 cup of the hot stock.
  • Stir constantly til the stock evaporates, gradually adding more as needed to make the risotto soft. 
  • Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges to serve.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

The Winner Is...

...Miss Kacie Lyn!

Kacie has won a Deluxe Detox Package, including a 3-week personalized detox & meal plan, Tarot & astrological readings, plus this lovely care kit! I'm looking forward to working with you, Kacie, and designing a special detox just for you.

The Deep Soul Detox is a luxurious way to form new, healthy habits and effect lasting lifestyle changes. It's the ultimate makeover! Deep Soul Detox is a 21-day personalized regimen of delicious, plant-based meals and indulgent self-care. Enrich your relationships with others by showing yourself the love you deserve. Purify your body, renew your mind and replenish your soul while enjoying every minute!

If you have any questions about my program or are interested in a free consultation, please visit my Deep Soul Detox page to schedule a chat. All information submitted will be kept strictly confidential. It would be a pleasure to speak with you!

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Heart Strawberry Muffins

Happy Valentine's Day! I figured today would be a perfect occasion to use my heart-shaped silicone baking mold for something sweet. Please enjoy!

Strawberry Heart Muffins
(makes 6 muffins)

3/4 cup all-purpose, gluten-free flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
10 ripe strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and stir.
Purée 7 of the strawberries with the coconut oil, soy milk and vanilla in a blender.
Pour the strawberry soymilk blend over the flour mixture and fold in with a fork.
Divide the batter evenly between six cups of a heart-shaped silicone baking mold.
Slice each of the remaining 3 strawberries in half and cut the halves into heart shapes.
Lightly press one strawberry heart into each muffin.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing from baking mold.

*You don't have to use coconut oil. Canola or sunflower would work fine.
*To purée the strawberries, I used my immersion blender in a deep mug.

Don't forget to enter my Valentine's Day Giveaway - indulge in the most luxurious detox ever! Replenish body, mind and soul the pleasurable way with personalized self-care and meal plans. The Deluxe Detox Package includes a Care Kit with Buddha Chocolates, a Yerba Prima Tampico skin brush, and Epsom Salts scented with essential oil of bergamot. Treat yourself right!
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Feed a Child, Nourish a Mind

Food bloggers are uniting once again to feed hungry children around the world. Today I'm offering up an inexpensive, vegan twist on an American lunchtime favorite: Chickie Nuggets!

Kids love finger foods - anything dunkable is an instant hit. Kids love animals, too, and don't want to eat them! These healthy nuggets are made of chickpeas instead of chickens, so moms on a budget don't have to worry about pink slime - that's just gross! Dry chickpeas take a little time, but are "cheep" compared to canned chickpeas, and they are also free of BPAs! For frying, use a high-heat oil like peanut, sesame or sunflower.


1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (flax meal)
6 cups + 1/4 cup pure water
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup cornmeal for breading
oil for frying

Bring soaked chickpeas to a boil in 6 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until soft.
Combine ground flaxseed and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and set aside.
Purée or mash the chickpeas in a large bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice.
Add the nutritional yeast and spices and mix well. Add the flax mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the cornmeal into a bowl. Scoop up a spoonful of chickpea dough, roll it into a ball, then roll it in the cornmeal. Flatten the ball between your palms and set it on a plate or tray. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
Heat the frying oil in a deep skillet. Deep fry or pan fry 2 minutes on each side.
Cool and serve, or freeze for future lunches!

Makes 48 nuggets.

Now that your kids are fed, will you help feed some more?

Nearly 65% of children in South Africa live in poverty. Without food, a child's performance and attendance at school are severely jeopardized. School lunches nourish bodies and minds, and keep kids coming back to complete their education.

The Lunchbox Fund is a campaign to raise $5,000 to provide a year of lunches to 100 kids in a South African school. No child should ever go hungry, and you can help! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day Giveaway

This Valentine's Day I'm sharing the love and giving away a deluxe Deep Soul Detox package for free to one lucky winner. Immerse yourself in LOVE - chocolates included! Details below...

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Purify your body. Renew your mind. Replenish your soul.

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Detox is about identifying destructive behavior patterns and forming new, healthy habits.
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The more you enjoy your detox, the more effective it will be!

I will create a Personal Detox Plan specifically for you, to help you reach your goals. Individualized plans are based on your personality and designed to fit in your schedule. Packages include:

  • Personalized Plant-Based Meal Plan based on your favorite foods - there will be dessert!
  • Daily Reminders via iCal or text message to keep you on track toward your goal!
  • Appointment Scheduling for yoga classes, massage or acupuncture therapy, dinner reservations or any other detox activities.
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