Carrot Ginger Soup

carrot ginger soupIt took me a couple of times to get this recipe right, and hoooo, boy, it was worth the work! This soup is perfect for a chilly fall day–hearty, warming and with a big healthy kick of ginger to soothe tummies and clear out those stuffy sinuses! Carrots are a good source of calcium, potassium, fiber, and your immune system’s BFFs, vitamins A and C, which make them an important part of your flu-season diet. This soup is virtually fat-free; its small fat content comes from just a tad of heart-healthy olive oil. A lot of soups get their satisfying qualities from cream, butter and oil, but the carrots and potatoes in this dish provide such a thick texture that you’ll never miss the fat.

This recipe requires little labor, and you can whip up your soup in a blender if you don’t have a food processor. Double or triple the recipe to make leftovers for the whole week; warm a bowlful in the microwave at work for a quick lunch or enjoy a chilled dish if you’re yearning for summer.

I must warn you, this recipe yields a VERY gingery soup, so if you’re sensitive to its spicy quality or looking for something a little milder, cut the ginger quantity in half. I recommend topping your soup with snipped chives, or, for a decadent treat, a sprinkle of shredded coconut. Incredible!!

Carrot Ginger Soup (makes 2 servings)

1 1/2 cups baby carrots

1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed yukon gold potatoes (about one medium potato)

3-4 cloves garlic

2 Tablespoons (for mild flavor) to 1/4 cup (for spice!) chopped fresh ginger

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups veggie stock

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash carrots and peel and chop potatoes. Place them in a steaming basket and crank the heat up to high, cooking until the veggies are soft.

2. Chop onions, garlic and ginger. Sautee them with a drizzle of olive oil until they’ve just begun to turn brown.

3. When veggies are soft and cool enough to transport to the blender or food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and give it a whirl. Your soup may need a minute or two of reheating if you’ve added cold veggie broth. Cozy up by the fireplace (or your candle collection) and enjoy!

Satisfy-My-Craving-for-Banana-Peppers Sammich

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All I can think about today is banana peppers. The way their vinegary goodness prickles my tongue makes me swoon. Banana peppers, I must consume you immeds. Solution: a turkey sandwich stacked with layers of vegetabley goodness (and plenty of bp’s, of course.)

I am always on the lookout for bakery bread with the fewest number of ingredients. After all, who wants a paragraph full of preservatives and other shenanigans in their bread? I made this sammy on delicious, soy- and preservative-free six-grain bread with pumpkin seeds, which gives my meal a nice boost of fiber and iron and adds to the turkey’s protein. Avocado laces this lunchtime delight with oleic acid, an omega-9 fat that has been found to lower cholesterol. Avocados, especially those from California, are very high in lutein, an antioxidant that’s great for your eyes, skin and heart. A little spinach and some tomato slices for a burst of vitamins A, C & K polish off this delish & nutrish treat.

Satisfy my Craving Sammich

2 slices toasted wholegrain bread

3 slices natural turkey

1/3 avocado, sliced thin

1/2 heirloom or vine-ripened tomato

a smear of dijon mustard, honey mustard or low-fat mayo (if you must; ew)

banana peppers, pickles or jalepenos–whatever garnishes please your ‘buds!

Healthy Girl Reunion!

Holy crap, y’all. It’s been awhile! This healthy girl has been getting a serious lesson in time management. Between school, two jobs and a long-ass commute (upside: tons of QT with NPR,) I’ve become way too familiar with my local take-out spots. This, of course, has taken quite a toll on the ol’ budgeroo. As we speak, I’ve got tomorrow’s lunch a-roasting, and it’s good to know I won’t be shelling out another 10 bucks for my mid-day satiation (ok, 5 of those bucks go to the gallon-sized latte I need to get me through the day…but everyone’s gotta be in denial about SOMEthing.)

So, let’s get back on track together, shall we? Cause let’s face it, you could always be a little healthier, a little more frugal, and a little plan ahead-ier when it comes to eating. Over the past couple months I’ve been compiling new recipes, so get excited for hummus and other Mediterranean-inspired delights, healthified lasagna, and snacks galore—all perfect fresh or as leftovers! But now, we turn to tomorrow’s lunch: lentil & veggie salad, which is easily transported and munchable all day long. Lentils are a great source of lean protein for omnivores and herbivoures alike, and they are absolutely packed with fiber to keep you feeling full and, er, regular (albeit a little gassy.) Add your own personal touches to this dish–I just used the veggies I had in the fridge, but any combo will work!

Sorry there are no pics for this dish. Just picture fairies and hearts and stars and flowers doing a little dance in your tummy…

Lentil & Veggie Salad for Busybodies

1 package steamed black lentils*

1 zucchini

1 head broccoli

½ head cauliflower

½ bag baby carrots

diced red onion to taste

a bit of olive oil

salt, black pepper, & crushed red pepper or your fave hot sauce

additions: for a protein boost, add tofu or chicken.

*you can buy these in the produce aisle at trader joe’s. using precooked lentils saves a step and at least 15 minutes, and as long as the package is unopened, they stay fresh in the fridge for ages!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower and transfer pieces to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop ‘em in the oven til they’re lightly browned—about 15 minutes. You can also dab olive oil on your veggies, but I find this is unnecessary; I like to drizzle a little over the whole salad when it’s done.

Throw carrots into your steaming pan and cook until soft. Meanwhile, dice the onion and sautee with a drop of olive oil.

When everything’s nice and soft and fragrant, throw it all into a big bowl with the lentils. Add seasoning and a dab of olive oil to taste, mix well, and enjoy hot or cold. Tupperware that shite and eat it all week long!

PS y’all: I’m engaged!!!

Chilled Melon Soup for Summer


I’m proud to bring you another recipe from my mom–radical babe, inventress, and maker of fantastic eats (like Scrambled Tofu with Portabellas.) This refreshing summer soup is perfect for a leisurely outdoor brunch or as a quick meal on a hot day. I love the simplicity of the dish–it’s a breeze to make and to transport, but can also make an elegant addition to a dinner party or luncheon. Mama says:

“This soup can only be as good as the melons–they must be very ripe! Tap on the melon with your fingertips; it should sound like a hollow thump. Honeydew should be very pale green with hints of yellow.”

Ingredients
Yield: about 5 1/2 cups; 5 (or 6 small) servings.

1 large honeydew or cantaloupe melon, peeled & cut into small chunks*

Grated rind of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

1 Tblsp finely chopped mint leaves

*My preference is to use 1 ½ recipe, using a whole honeydew & ½ cantaloupe.

1. For optimal presentation, choose individual serving bowls that can be chilled in the freezer, & store them there for a couple hours before serving.

2. In a food processor or blender, process melon chunks until smooth; use a low setting to avoid building up froth.

3. Add remaining ingredients and blend until well mixed.

4. Chill thoroughly and scoop into frozen bowls, garnished with sliced blueberries and mint sprigs if desired; serve immediately while bowls are frozen. Best served within 24 hours.

Latest Obsession: Egg in a Quinoa Nest


This concoction is the result of my search for easy-to-digest, wheat-, dairy-, soy- and meat-free sources of protein to eat during my cleanse. The best thing about this dish is that it’s easy to assemble quickly if you have a batch of cooked quinoa in the fridge. On second thought, the best thing about this dish is its TOTAL DELICIOUSNESS. When I fall in love with a food, I want to eat it all the time, and that’s exactly what’s been happening with this bowl-o-goodness–I’ve had to force myself to eat anything else! It’s easy to transport sans egg, which makes this concoction a perfect weekday lunch.

For a lighter breakfast or a super-energizing afternoon snack, follow the recipe below. For a heavier meal, increase the amounts of quinoa and black beans and add a second egg. I prefer to use poached or over-easy eggs; the gooeyness really pulls everything together! If you’re trying to cut fat and calories, scrambled egg whites make a good substitute.

I’ve included the nutrition facts below (calculated to the best of my knowledge using product labels and internet sources) to give you an idea of how well-rounded this dish is! Besides being super high in protein and fiber, quinoa is also a great source of B vitamins, iron and zinc.


Ingredients (one serving):

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup black beans, drained
1/4 cup hummus
1/2 cup thawed frozen spinach or steamed fresh spinach
1 egg, poached or over-easy
black and crushed red pepper to taste
additions: roasted corn, chopped avocado and tomato

1. Stir quinoa, spinach, black beans and hummus together in a bowl. Create a nest in the center of the mixture for your egg.
2. Heat water in a small saucepan. When water begins to boil, stir from the center to create a whirlpool. Drop eggg into the whirlpool and allow it to cook for about one and a half minutes.
3. Drop egg into the center and marvel at how cute your breakfast is. Add seasoning to taste. Mix everything together and enjoy!

Nutrition facts:
Calories 364; Fat 16.5 g; Saturated fat 1.5 g; Cholesterol 215 mg (71% RDV); Carbohydrates 45 mg (13.5%); Fiber 10.6 g (41%); Protein 21 g; Vitamin A 21%; Vitamin C 9%; Calcium 17%; Iron 27%

Chili Chicken Salad

Scrounging for salad ingredients in my pantry and fridge (and sometimes freezer!) always makes for a fun experiment. This salad, with its avocado, roasted corn and spicy chicken, is Mexican-inspired. Take advantage of the warm weather and try grilling your chicken! Or, if you’re cooking it on the stove, steal my boyfriend’s trick of mixing a little olive oil with a plentiful dose of your favourite hot sauce (we like Trader Joe’s chili sauce–it’s smoky and tangy without being over-the-top hot) and cook the chicken in this delish mixture. This salad would be delicious with black beans for some extra protein or as a substitute for the chicken if you don’t eat meat. I added sunflower sprouts, which make a great addition to any salad–they’re crunchy and full of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Ingredients (makes 2 salads):
1 package salad greens
1 package sunflower sprouts
2/3 avocado, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 small or medium tomatoes
2/3 lb. chicken breast
hot sauce and dressing of your choice to taste (I like Annie’s Organic Cowgirl Ranch)

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Wash and dry veggies. Slice tomatoes and avocado.
2. Spread corn onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes. You can heat it in the microwave instead to save time, but roasting gives the corn a wonderful flavour.
3. Slice chicken into bite-size pieces and cook. Top greens with corn, chicken, tomato and avocado. Top with a little dressing and enjoy!

Easy-Peasy Pesto Shrimp Pizza


I have been on a major pesto kick lately, and I’ve been brainstorming new ways to get my fix. I made this tortilla-based pizza for lunch today, using some multi-purpose staples I like to keep around: mushrooms, tomatoes, a whole grain tortilla, parmesan cheese (strong enough to add flavour in small, low-fat doses) and frozen pre-cooked shrimp (you can buy a bag for about $6, thaw ’em in 5 minutes flat and throw them into salads, soups, pasta dishes, quesadillas, omelets–anything, really!–for a big boost of lean protein.)

This pizza is satisfying without being too filling, thanks to the nice balance of protein from the shrimp and fiber from the tortilla (make sure you use whole wheat or whole grain to avoid filling up on nutritionally useless simple carbs.) Tomatoes are high in vitamins A, C and K; they’re also a good source of lycopene, a cancer-fighter that the body absorbs best along with a little fat (like the olive oil and nutty pesto in this dish.) Mushrooms are densely packed with minerals like selenium, riboflavin, copper and niacin. Add a salad of fresh spinach and mandarin oranges to this already well-rounded meal, and you’ll be feelin’ great all day long!

Ingredients (makes one single-serving pizza):

1 whole grain tortilla
1-2 TBSP pesto
1 vine-ripe tomato, thinly sliced
about 8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 TBSP parmesan cheese
a handful of medium frozen shrimp, thawed

optional:
1/2 cup frozen spinach for an extra veggie kick (make sure you drain it well!); crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Place shrimp in a colander and run cold water over them to thaw while you slice your tomato and mushroom.
2. Throw the mushrooms into a non-stick pan and cook until semi-soft. You can drizzle them with a tiny bit of olive oil if you like, but it’s not necessary.
3. Place tortilla on a baking sheet and spread it with pesto. You need very little to give it that yummy herb-garlic flavour, but if you’re a pesto nut like me, load it up!
4. Add tomato, mushroom, and shrimp, and sprinkle your pizza with a little parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until melty and crisp!

Note: juices from the tomato and mushrooms (and shrimp too, if they’re not drained super-well) might collect a bit in the corner of your pizza like they did on mine. Just dab them up with a napkin–or leave ’em be if you don’t mind getting a little messy!

Sopa de Batata para Bretaña


That’s Spanish for “Sweet Potato Soup for Brittany,” y’all!

I recently discovered the surprisingly delicious combo of black beans and sweet potato, so I thought I’d experiment a bit with this beautiful (and super-nutritious) marriage. Cilantro, my friend Brittany’s favourite herb (she and I share a love of Mexican culinary delights,) had to be involved, so I chopped up plenty of this amazing-smelling greenery and put my spice collection to work in search of the perfect complementary flavours. The result of my experiment is a filling, good-for-you soup that holds its own as a satisfying meal.

This is only my second attempt at homemade soup, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with myself! Once you get started, it’s hard to stop throwing things into the food processor. I set out with the goal of making a vegan version, but if you’re feelin’ spunky, you might wanna experiment adding some dairy (1/2 of skim milk, perhaps?)

In an attempt to water down my very thick concoction, I got brave and threw a little wine into the mix. This would’ve been a better idea if the bottle I had in the fridge was NOT a fruity pinot grigio; if I were you, I’d use something super dry like savignon blanc. If you don’t have any wine on hand, no worries; I’m sure it’ll be great without the spiking!

Sweet potatoes pack an insanely high content of vitamin A. They’re also high in vitamin C and fiber, and contain significant amounts of of iron and calcium, which makes them an important dietary component for vegans and vegetarians. Top the soup with 1/2 cup of black beans, and you’ve got yourself a protein party! Good luck with your soup-making endeavors, I think you’ll have fun experimenting. I want to hear all about your adventures!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings–great the next day for lunch!):
6 cups peeled sweet potatoes, coursely chopped (I used almost a full bag)
1/2 cup water
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup very dry white wine
1/2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste

topping:
one can black beans, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP cilantro (I like to snip mine into little pieces with scissors)
juice of 1/2 lime

optional toppings: grilled chicken strips, fat-free sour cream, hot sauce, crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Place them on a 1″-deep baking sheet and drizzle them with 1/2 cup of water (this keeps them from drying out without the added fat of oil.) Roast the potatoes until they’re soft to the touch–20 minutes should do the trick.
2. Mince the garlic and cilantro and throw them into a bowl with the rinsed beans. Squeeze the lime over the beans and stir well.
3. When the sweet potatoes are done, throw all of the soup ingredients into your blender or food processor and give it a whirl (depending on the size and power of your machine, you might need to blend your ingredients in two batches.)
4. Dish everything up all pretty-like. Ole!

Katyana’s Salmon Salad


My friend Kat is famous for making amazing salads. In honour of her, I’ve thrown together a crudité-inspired feast that should please any seafood lover (instead of salmon, feel free to try shrimp, tuna, tofu, tempeh, chicken breast, or even 1/4 cup of hummus, depending on your dietary requirements and cravings.)

I like to top my veggie-rific salads with a tablespoon or two of thick, tangy scrumptiousness like Goddess dressing (mmm, tahini!) Yes, it adds a notable amount of fat, but when 5 servings of fat-free veggies topped with lean protein lies before you, a little fat ain’t no thang, especially if it’s coming from a dressing made from real food rather than chemicals (see my note about choosing healthy dressings at the bottom of the Roasted Veggie & Quinoa Salad entry.) Today, my lonely fridge shelf was very much without my favourite salad topper, but it DID boast a variety of this-and-thats from recent culinary experiments, so I decided to attempt a variation of Green Goddess Dressing (the tahini-less kind.) I was pretty impressed with myself, being a first-time dressing maker and all, but in the future, I think I’ll make sure to stock up on my trusted Annie’s version.

Salad (serves 2):
1 6-oz. bag mixed salad greens
1 small head broccoli, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
about 12 cherry tomatoes
8 ounces wild Alaskan salmon filet (boneless & skinless)
optional garnishes: jalepeños, olives, crumbled low-fat feta cheese

Garlicky Goddess Dressing (makes 2 servings):
1/4 cup light of fat-free sour cream (leftover from Turkey Meatloaf)
2 TBSP canola oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 TBSP chopped green onions (leftover from Orange Chicken a la Emma)
1 clove garlic, minced
squeeze of a lemon slice or two
black and crushed red pepper to taste

1. Place salmon in a non-stick pan and cook over low heat until salmon is cooked through. Meanwhile, wash, dry, and cut up your veggies. Assemble them on plates, all pretty-like.
2. Throw all of your dressing ingredients into a food processor (I tried it in my blender first, but it just wasn’t doing the trick.) Whirl it up real good. Play with the ratio of ingredients, and if you have other fresh herbs, try throwing them into the mix! Don’t add more oil, however, unless you’re planning to feed more than 2 people.

Healthy Girl Says: This recipe kicks off Homage Week, during which I’ll be honouring people I love who tear it up in the kitchen all healthy-style, and in some cases, whose dietary needs or interests have inspired me to experiment with something new. Stay tuned for upcoming recipe-story combos!

Leftover Orange Chicken Salad

Leftover entree matter is prime next-day salad material, and I always keep this in mind when I make dinner. Changing up the way you use last night’s dinner keeps things interesting! I always keep a bag or two of mixed greens in the fridge, plus a few other salad staples like a bell pepper, a cucumber and a pint of cherry tomatoes (actually, I suggest keeping your tomatoes OUT of the fridge; they maintain their nutritious qualities much better that way!) I also LOVE raw broccoli in salads and wraps; the flavour is great and the crunchiness is so satisfying!
For this salad, I added my (cold) leftover orange chicken to a big bowl of greens and tossed in orange pepper slices, tomatoes, bean sprouts, green onions, jalepenos, and a handful of slivered almonds. I drizzled a generous portion of the orange-soy sauce mixture over my salad, which served perfectly as a light, delicious dressing! If you’d prefer to use something a little thicker, I’d suggest a soy-ginger vinaigrette or maybe a citrus vinagrette (though some dressings with similar flavours might clash with the flavour of the chicken rather than complementing it.)

Ingredients:
leftover Orange Chicken a la Emma with sauce
salad greens
your favourite veggies!

…I think you get the idea!