ORANGE & SPICE HOT COCOA

ORANGE & SPICE HOT COCOA

This is a quick n' easy orange hot chocolate to change up the usual hot cocoa routine. The winter weather is finally setting in here with rain and very cool temperatures, it calls for a nice mug of hot cocoa! I love orange and chocolate together and set out to come up with a hot cocoa using this combination. After doing a bit of research on orange hot chocolate, using orange juice is not typical, usually a bit of orange extract is added or even orange flavored liqueur (which sound pretty good too on certain occasions!). Since I happen to only have some oranges on hand, I decided that would do perfectly fine. And it did! Using orange juice instead of flavoring will also give you the added benefit of vitamin C with your cocoa. Add in the cinnamon & ginger and you have yourself a nicely flavored hot cocoa. I even love this without the ginger, using just cinnamon. Use the spices to your liking and preference. For a bit of heat, you may consider adding a dash of cayenne powder. The toppings can be changed up to whatever you like or have on hand. So next time you're thinking about having a cup of hot chocolate give this version a try, I think you'll love it too!

ORANGE & SPICE HOT COCOAORANGE & SPICE HOT COCOA
ORANGE & SPICE HOT COCOA

ORANGE & SPICE HOT COCOA

Ingredients
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup 100% pure orange juice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar, pure maple syrup or coconut nectar/sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt

garnish options:

In a small/medium saucepan, heat milk and orange juice over medium-low heat. Add cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and pinch of salt, stir until cocoa is completely dissolved. Turn heat to low to keep cocoa warm until ready to serve.

Serve in individual cups topped with any garnish you like. I added coconut cream, dusted with cocoa powder and topped with orange zest.

Serves 2 - 3.

Notes:

Feel free to use water in place of non-dairy milk or use a combo of water & milk equally 3 cups.

For the orange juice, use fresh squeezed or bottled (no pulp to medium pulp pref). If using fresh squeezed, you may like to strain the pulp before using.

Make your 1/4 cup of cocoa heaping if you like a little extra chocolate flavor.


KALE + RED CABBAGE SLAW

Kale + Red Cabbage Slaw

Aah yes, I have a salad to share with you today. It's fresh, healthy and full of color! A much needed departure from all the cooked foods I've been devouring lately. If you're anything like me, you tend to eat more cooked foods in the fall and winter. It seems to be somewhat instinctual but a good fresh and hearty salad is a welcome change. It all started with some kale & red cabbage sitting in my refrigerator that needed to be used up quickly. After googling the two ingredients together, I found this recipe on Martha Stewart. I had all the ingredients on hand and whipped it up within minutes. The result was pretty darn good! It's one of those salads that on the first bite may not seem so great but after a few bites the deliciousness sets in. Maybe I was just having an off day and it was delicious from the get go. The dressing is light and not overly drowning, if you like lots of dressing I would suggest doubling the amount. All in all, I would definitely make this again...so that says something! I think next time I'll replace the oil with tahini for creaminess. I ate this salad to myself as a whole serving. I'll let you be the judge of how much you think this will serve, but to me it serves 2 or one generously. Ready, set, go...get out your biggest bowl and have yourself a nice big fat salad!
Kale + Red Cabbage Slaw
Kale + Red Cabbage SlawKale + Red Cabbage Slaw

Mix the dressing and prepare your vegetables. Add dressing to salad and toss to coat...

Kale + Red Cabbage Slaw

Throw in some heart healthy seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and hemp hearts. They'll add crunch while providing a good amount of protein and omegas!

Kale + Red Cabbage Slaw

KALE + RED CABBAGE SLAW

Ingredients
  • 1 small bunch tuscan kale (aka, lacinato or dinosaur), thick stem removed and shredded
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 - 2 carrots, grated or julienned
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Dressing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix your dressing and set aside.

Prepare vegetables and place in large bowl, add dressing and toss to coat. Add in seeds and toss again (or sprinkle over each portion before serving). Let salad rest a few minutes before eating, this will help soften the kale a bit. 

Serves 2 or one generously. 

Notes: 

For a creamier dressing, replace the oil with tahini.

If you have fresh lemons on hand, this would be great with a big squeeze of lemon over top.

If serving for one, use 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons each of the seeds.

CHANA DAL & SWEET POTATO CHOWDER

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato Chowder

This recipe is inspired by Bob Red Mill’s and comes from a recipe on the back of one of their dried Chana dal packages. I love chowders all year long but especially in the cooler months! This is a healthy and flavorful one packed with protein and fiber. The sweet potato adds a hint of sweetness while the jalapeno gives a bit of spice. This recipe will definitely be going on my meal rotation for the next few months. It’s everything you'd want in a chowder...creamy, hearty and satisfying!

Chana Dal = young chickpeas, dehulled and split in half

Chana dal are the desi type chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that have had their outer layer removed and split in half. Resembling yellow split peas, these little golden legumes are widely used in Indian cuisine. Unlike that of the yellow split pea, chana dal hold there shape when cooking. I've edited this recipe since posting to include soaking the dal. It's an extra step that will ensure quicker cooking and tender dal all the way through. Being low on the glycemix index makes them an excellent legume for diabetics. Per 1/4 cup, dried, they contain 190 calories, 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar and zero cholesterol. They're a good source of phosphorus, folate, magnesium and iron. If you can't find them locally, you can order them online.

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato ChowderChana Dal & Sweet Potato Chowder

Using one pot and colander, this chowder comes together easily. First cook your dal and potatoes...

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato ChowderChana Dal & Sweet Potato Chowder

Next saute your vegetables, set aside with the dal and potatoes...

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato Chowder

Add everything back to the pot once your non-dairy milk is ready and finish cooking. Enjoy the deliciousness!

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato Chowder

CHANA DAL & SWEET POTATO CHOWDER

 Ingredients
  • 1 cup Chana dal
  • 1 sweet potato, diced 1/2-1/4 inch cubes (orange or white)
  • 2 -  3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or 3 tablespoons water (for water saute)
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1 small green pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno, most seeds removed and diced
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons flour (chickpea, spelt, all-purpose, etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • mineral salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley, to serve

Rinse Chana dal and remove any pebbles or unsightly peas. In a large pot, soak the dal in about 4 cups of room temperature water for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or hot water for 1 hour. Drain water. 

In a large dutch oven or pot, place soaked Chana dal, sweet potato and bay leaves, cover with about 4 - 5 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until dal and sweet potatoes are tender.

Place cooked peas and potatoes in a colander, rinse gently and quickly with warm water, set aside. Leave bay leaves with the mix. Don’t worry about getting every pea out of the pot.

In same pot, heat oil/water over medium heat, add bell peppers, jalapeno, onion and thyme, saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove sauteed vegetables to the colander with the chana dal and potatoes, set aside. Don’t worry about getting every vegetable out of the pot.

In same pot, over medium – low heat, add flour and 1/3 cup of milk, whisk well until it thickens and lumps are barely visible, stirring continuously, slowly add in the remaining amount of liquids, stirring continuously, continue to heat over medium-low, lumps with dissolve completely as the liquid warms up. Careful to not boil or milk will begin to curdle. Continue to stir and heat until liquids begin to thicken about 7 -  10 minutes.

Add in the Chana dal and vegetable mixture, heat over low until everything has warmed, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed, remove bay leaves and discard.

Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers and a sprinkle of parsley over top.

Serves 4.

Notes:

You may consider using 3 1/2 cups milk w/ 1 veggie bouillon cube. Just be sure you have 3 1/2 cups liquids.

Edit: I've added in soaking the dal first for quicker cooking time. This will ensure that your dal is perfectly tender.  

CREAMY BROCCOLI + RED LENTIL SOUP

CREAMY BROCCOLI + RED LENTIL SOUP

I had a bunch of broccoli that needed to be used up and thought this would be a perfect time to add a broccoli soup to the recipe collection. Seeing that my last soup, Butternut Squash + Red Lentil Soup, was so good with the addition of lentils, I decided to add them to this soup as well. Lentils add bulk, heartiness and boost the nutritional profile by adding protein and good carbohydrates. They cook fast too so you can pull this recipe together in about 40 minutes from start to finish. It's also a one-pot meal which I love (less dishes is always a plus)! I was inspired by both these recipes from 101 Cookbooks and Green Kitchen Stories. Both simple and delicious! I especially love the Savory Corn Biscuit recipe included in the GK Stories recipe, which I had a chance to make. I made half a batch and used different shapes, a flower and a circle. Because I didn't have the non-dairy yogurt on hand, I subbed unsweetened almond milk. They were still delicious without the yogurt, so easy to make and a perfect accompaniment to the soup! 

On a side note... 

Time is flying and the holidays are almost here. If you haven't finished your holiday menus, take a peek at my Vegan Thanksgiving & Christmas Recipe ideas on pinterest and follow along if you like. During mid-October through December of every year you'll find this link at the top of every page. All handpicked and include a note about the recipe or suggestions when needed. Check the board often, it will continue to grow as I find new recipes. Happy holidays and happy pinning! :)

I also updated a couple soup recipes over the last week or so. If you need some more soup inspiration take a look at these: Roasted Fennel & Potato SoupRoasted Butternut Squash Soup, Parsnip & Split Pea Soup: Slow Cooker or Stove Top and this Curry Lentil & Greens Soup. Each one is delicious...check em out!

CREAMY BROCCOLI + RED LENTIL SOUPCREAMY BROCCOLI + RED LENTIL SOUP

We know broccoli is a nutrient dense vegetable. Rich in fiber, vitamin k & C and folate, its deep color holds many health benefits. I often eat it simply steamed with a dollop of hummus and a little sambal oelek. Once mixed, the combination is creamy, slightly spicy and delicious! Having it here in a soup is a nice change up, especially with soup season under way.

I love red lentils and their ability to blend easily in pureed soups. They add fiber, protein and cook up very light as to not alter the color of the soup as much as if using green/brown lentils. I would suggest sourcing and keeping red lentils in your pantry at all times. They are reasonable at about $2 to $3 a pound and will make dishes more nutrient dense when added. 

CREAMY BROCCOLI + RED LENTIL SOUP

CREAMY BROCCOLI + RED LENTIL SOUP

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon coconut, grapeseed or olive oil or 3 Tbsps water for water saute
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 - 3 large heads broccoli, cut into florets (stalks chopped ok too)
  • 6 - 7 cups water or vegetable broth (or combo)
  • 1 can coconut milk, optional
  • mineral salt, to taste

to serve
  • mustard seeds, crushed (I used black)
  • 1 - 2 scallions, sliced
  • slivered almonds

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil/water over medium heat, add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook another minute or until fragrant. Add lentils, broccoli, broth/water and optional coconut milk. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, using the back of a fork or spoon press the broccoli down as much as you can to cover with liquids. Cover pot with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Soup is done when lentils are tender. Taste soup, add salt as needed. Using an immersion blender puree until desired consistency. Or once cooled a few minutes, use a food processor/blender to puree (this method may take two batches to complete).

Serve in individual bowls topped with mustard seeds, scallions and almonds. Pairs great with crusty bread or biscuits of choice. If you have one on hand, a squeeze of lemon will add some brightness. 

Notes: 

If using pre-cut packaged broccoli, use about 1 1/2 - 2 pounds or 8 - 10 cups.

You may feel there is not enough water, and most likely all the broccoli won't be covered by the liquids at first. As it cooks it will soften and sink down, and any that doesn't will steam and become soft. If you like you can push the broccoli down half way through cooking. If adding a while can of coconut milk, start with the lower amount of liquids adding more as needed.

If you don't use veggie broth or have run out of an onion and/or garlic. Try adding 1 teaspoon each of garlic and/or onion powder.

I recommend sticking with red lentils but you can use green/brown lentils if needed. Cook same as above but simmer for 30 - 35 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Your soup may look a bit muddy but flavor will be good.

Use full-fat or light coconut milk. If you'd prefer, use up to 1 cup or so of unsweetened almond milk. 


EVERYDAY OATMEAL

Everyday Oatmeal

Today I share with you my go-to oatmeal. It's quick and flavorful! On its own, oatmeal is nothing to get excited about. It needs help with warm spices, sweet and/or tart fruits and some crunchy nuts & seeds. Add a drizzle of pure maple syrup and splash of almond milk for the perfect finishing touch. I love oatmeal all year long, but during the fall\winter I especially eat this on a regular basis. It warms me up, fills that morning hunger, supplies me with good carbohydrates and keeps me going for a good part of the day. 

Everyday Oatmeal: The Essentials

My everyday oatmeal always consists of cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup and almond milk...these are the essential flavor boosters. The rest of the ingredients will be mixed and matched depending on what I have on hand.

Cinnamon and cardamom are warming spices and both hold health benefits. They are delicious together and will add a ton of flavor to plain oatmeal!

Pure maple syrup is my sweetener of choice and contains a good dose of manganese and zinc.

For the milk, I use unsweetened almond milk but you can use your favorite non-dairy milk. Most non-dairy milks are low in calories, fat and are fortified with important vitamins and minerals (even more so than dairy milk) like calcium, vitamin D, B-12 and E, manganese, potassium, copper and selenium.

The oats can be whatever you prefer. Lately I've been using quick oats, it's what I've been baking with and have tons on hand. You can use rolled or steel cut oats too, just cook according to the package directions.

I usually always add in some sort of fruit, whether dry or not. Usually its dried fruit since I always have some on hand in the pantry or refrigerator. I prefer unsweetened dried fruit like raisins, currants, barberries, blueberries and cranberries. Chopped dates, apricots and cherries are also great. I'm loving the addition of the barberries I picked up awhile back, they add a tartness contrasting the sweetness of the other dried fruits. I've come to learn that barberries are higher in anti-oxidants than dried blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and even pomegranates! These little tart fruits can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores (you can also order them online) and hold up well in the pantry or refrigerator. When using fresh fruits, I may use blueberries, sliced bananas or apples.

The addition of nuts & seeds will add protein and a nice crunch. Many nuts & seeds contain essential omegas that are heart healthy making them another good reason to add a small handful. You can use any combo of walnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), almonds, hemp hearts, chia seeds and pecans.

It's the perfect everyday oatmeal to get me going, or end my day! Sometimes I have oatmeal for dinner. ♥

Everyday Oatmeal

EVERYDAY OATMEAL

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup quick oats 
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, divided
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • small handful mixed nuts (I used walnuts and pepitas)
  • small handful dried or fresh fruit ( I used currants and barberries)

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in 3/4 cup oats, reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup milk and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Place oatmeal in your serving bowl, top with cinnamon, cardamom, nuts, seeds and berries. Drizzle maple syrup over top and some of the remaining milk. Give a good stir and enjoy!

It tastes great with a morning cup of coffee, green tea or lemon water.

Notes: 

Give or take on both the oatmeal and water when cooking, using more or less as needed.

Use rolled or steel cut oats if you prefer, cook according to package instructions. 

If you don't like the flavor of maple, use coconut nectar or pure cane brown sugar. 

Dried fruits you might like to use...cranberries, blueberries, goji berries, raisins, currants, barberries, chopped dates, apricots and cherries. Fresh fruits can be blueberries, apples and bananas.

Nuts and seeds you might like to use are almonds, walnuts, pecans, pepitas, hemp hearts and chia seeds. 

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

It's been two years since my last lentil loaf recipe. I thought this time I'd create something with a whole new flavor profile. I love this flavor combination and think it's a perfect fall/winter loaf or one you can rotate for variation all year long. All the flavors come through making every bite just as good as the last! A little sweetness from the apple, it's not overpowering at all. The fennel and sage are a perfect pairing of herbs. The walnuts give a little extra texture. I've kept the glaze super simple with just organic ketchup, apple cider vinegar and pure maple syrup. The glaze is tangy which is a nice contrast to the other flavors. Simple worked great here (at least I think so). I'd love to know what you think! I've adapted this new lentil loaf from my other one, The Ultimate Vegetable Lentil Loaf, which was a big hit, it's a great all-around loaf and I hope you all find this new one just as delicious!

A note on the fennel seeds. In case you're wondering what to do with your fennel seeds, I've used them in a few recipes like this Cannellini Bean & Fennel Flatbread, Mushroom and Buckwheat Soup and the Rustic Cabbage, Potato & White Bean Soup. If they are new to your pantry, you can purchase them knowing you can use them in other recipes. I love the flavor they give in each of these recipes!

APPLE FENNEL SAGE LENTIL LOAFAPPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

Cook your lentils, let set for about 15 minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Mash or puree about 3/4 of the mixture. You should be able to easily mash the lentils with a back of a fork.

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAFAPPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

While you're working on the lentils, prepare your vegetables and apple and saute with herbs.

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAFAPPLE FENNEL SAGE LENTIL LOAF

Once everything is mixed, pack mixture into a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Spread glaze over top and bake.

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

Remove from oven and let cool. You may like to add a fresh layer of glaze over top like I have in the first picture.

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

APPLE, FENNEL + SAGE LENTIL LOAF

Ingredients
  • 1 cup green/brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced or grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small apple, cored, peeled and diced or grated (use firm crisp like fuji or gala) (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, use whole or lightly crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sage or 2 tablespoons fresh minced
  • 3/4 cup oats, quick or rolled (I used quick) or bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour (splet, almond, oat, GF all-purpose, etc.)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, optional
  • salt & pepper to taste (I used white pepper)
Glaze
  • 6 tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Cook lentils: In a dutch oven or large pot, add vegetable broth and lentils, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 - 45 minutes, most to all liquid should be absorbed. Lentils should be overcooked and tender. Set aside to cool, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Mash lentils with the back of a spoon or fork, or roughly puree using an immersion blender or food processor, about 2/3 - 3/4 of the lentil mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toast walnuts: Spread walnuts on a small rimmed baking pan, place in oven and toast until they are fragrant, about 10 -15 minutes. Set aside to cool..

Prepare vegetables and apple: Heat oil in a medium size pan over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrot, saute for about 5 minutes. Add apple, fennel, sage salt & pepper, heat for another 3 - 4 minutes.

Combine everything: Add the sauteed mixture with the lentils and mix. Add flour, oats, walnuts and 1/2 cup apple sauce, mix well to combine. If mixture seems to dry, add a little more apple sauce, mix again. Taste for seasoning adding extra herbs, salt and pepper as needed. 

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with parchment paper, (this will make for easy removal later), add mixture and press down gently but firmly filling in along the edges as well. 

Make glaze: In small bowl, mix together the glaze and spread over top lentil loaf as evenly as you can. Here you can even add a fresh sage leaf in the center of the loaf, it won't burn, it may roll a bit on the edges, and will add a nice decoration (the sage leaf I have shown was fresh). 

Bake: Place loaf in oven, on middle rack, and bake for 45 - 50 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan using the edges of the parchment paper. You may like to mix a bit more sauce and spread over top. Place loaf on serving dish, cut and serve individual slices.

Serving suggestions: Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes, or potato & cauliflower mash, a side of green beans or any combo of roasted brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash and beets. A simple fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette is also a great side! Left overs make for great sandwiches!

Makes 8 slices. 

Notes:

If you don't use a good vegetable broth while cooking the lentils, I recommend add in 1/2 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder, along with a big pinch of salt. The lentils are the base of the recipe and should have good flavor.

If mixture is too wet, add a tad more flour or oats/bread crumbs. If mixture is too dry, add a tad more apple sauce.

I've used both oats and bread crumbs. Both were great. I didn't notice that the oat flavor came through at all (or maybe I'm just adapted to them).

I don't recommend reheating the entire loaf at once. It will most likely become too dry, as the heat will take to long to reach the center. I recommend cutting slices and reheating, this way. If you need, you can make your lentil loaf the day before and store uncooked until ready to heat, bring to room temperature if possible, and heat according to instructions above.

If you love fennel and sage, by all means add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of each! Or an extra tablespoon of fresh minced sage.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUP

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUP

First off, let me say this soup was so much better than I expected! I thought it was going to be completely ho-hum, especially with such minimal ingredients, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious! I should have remembered butternut squash doesn't need much from my last recipe Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. It's been awhile since I've made butternut squash soup and unlike my last one, this is very filling on it's own.

I began this recipe with thoughts of adding it to pasta as a sauce. It could be used as that, although it's hearty enough on its own and honestly doesn't need it. If you do decide to add a grain, a serving of pasta or rice would be perfect. It's also fabulous with artisan bread (you already guessed that I'm sure). This soup is meant to be thick but feel free to add a tad more water if you like. This truly is a simple recipe from the ingredients to prepping and cooking. Peeling the squash is the hardest part...and really it's not so bad. No need to roast your butternut squash either, simply make make your soup in one big pot. All together, the flavors are perfect for fall. This would be a colorful and delicious starter soup for the holiday table! 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUPBUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUP

Butternut squash with its sweet flavored, brightly colored flesh is a great source of omega 3s and beta-carotene. It's also an excellent source of various vitamins like vitamin A, C & B-6 and trace elements such as manganese, copper, potassium and folate. When available, enjoy the winter squash often!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUPBUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUP

As a vegan, ethical vegan in my case,  I'm always doing my best to add in high protein plant-based sources when I can, the addition of lentils are perfect for that while adding extra thickness to the overall soup. Lentils of all color should be a part of any heart healthy diet.

The addition of sage is perfect for the fall season and holds its own health benefits, like boosting brain function and working as an anti-inflammatory. Two great reasons to add this herb wherever you can!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUP

Colorful, hearty and delicious!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + RED LENTIL SOUP

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + LENTIL SOUP


Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or 1/4 cup water (for water saute)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed (about 8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils 
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage or 2 tablespoons fresh minced
  • 7 cups vegetable broth or water 
  • himalayan salt & white or fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Cook soup: In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil/water over medium high heat, add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Add sage and squash and cook a few minutes stirring occasionally. Add lentils, broth and salt & pepper, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until squash is fork tender and lentils are soft. 

Puree: Once ready and slightly cooled, puree soup using your preferred method. Use an immersion blender and puree soup right in the pot until desired consistency. Or you can puree in your blender or food processor, this method may take two or three batches to complete. Add extra liquids as needed for desired thickness.

Serve topped with pine nuts and chopped sage if you like, fresh cracked pepper would also be great. 

Serves 4 - 6. 

Notes:

I used half water, half broth for this recipe. I use Better Than Bouillon paste, about 1 heaping teaspoon with 3 1/2 cups water. I find that's plenty of flavor and my soup was great. If not using vegetable broth, I might suggest adding a half teaspoon or so of garlic powder, onion powder and maybe a smidge of coriander to bring some extra flavors to the soup.

Keep in mind the smaller you chop your butternut squash, the quicker it will cook. Try to keep them around 3/4" or smaller. 

Add in chopped carrots, about 2 large, if you like.

You may just as well enjoy this soup without blending. Or you may like to use a potato masher instead, this will add some creaminess while still leaving some chunkiness.

Only red lentils will work with this recipe. For one, the color would be altered making it look muddied. Secondly, other lentils take longer longer to cook. If you can't find red lentils at your local grocery store, try ordering them online. 

Try using this as a pasta sauce or serve with a serving of rice.

This can be made a day or two ahead and reheated when ready to serve.


CARROT BANANA BREAD

CARROT BANANA BREAD

Lots of baking going on around here lately. I've been wanting to make a carrot banana bread and have finally got around to doing it. It's a nice textured bread, moist but not too moist and not too dense. The batter can handle the addition of walnuts and other dried fruits but for the sake of my daughter I've left those out. The recipe is adapted from my Banana Tea Bread which has been a wonderful recipe to work with! I have plenty of notes in this recipe so you can vary it up and change it around when the mood strikes. I don't usually add anything to breads like these when eating but this would be nice with a smidge of Cashew Sweet Cream. I hope you find you love this carrot banana bread as much as I do. It's a keeper and a great way to add in extra vegetables!

P.S. The cooking holiday season is just around the corner! I have a nice collection on pinterest of 250+ vegan recipes for you to consider adding to your holiday table. Am I missing any great recipes you'd like to see? Let me know and I'll add it. You can find the resource here: VEGAN THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS RECIPES 

CARROT BANANA BREADCARROT BANANA BREAD

Mix your dry and measure your wet ingredients (I measured the oil and milk in one cup)...

CARROT BANANA BREADCARROT BANANA BREADCARROT BANANA BREAD

Grate your carrots, mash your bananas...

CARROT BANANA BREADCARROT BANANA BREADCARROT BANANA BREAD

To the dry ingredients, add oil, milk and bananas, mix well but don't over mix. Lastly, fold in carrots.

CARROT BANANA BREAD...just slightly cooled

My bread just slightly cooled and moved to it's storage place. Once it's cooled and covered, it will look a bit moister and darken in color. I did another loaf here where you can see the difference, this is 12 hours after being covered. I would've taken more pics of the loaf shown here but it was eaten too quickly!

CARROT BANANA BREAD

CARROT BANANA BREAD

Ingredients
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup organic pure cane or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla or unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup light flavored olive oil or warmed coconut oil (see notes)
  • 3 medium bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 3 carrots, grated (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Optional Toppings
  • sprinkle of raw sugar (pictured, my daughters favorite topping)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder & soda and salt, mix well with large slotted spoon or fork. Add milk, oil and mashed bananas, mix well, but don't over mix, making sure there are no clumps of flour (especially on the bottom of the bowl). Fold in carrots. In a lightly greased 9 x 5 loaf pan, place mixture and bake for 50 - 55 minutes on the middle rack, rotate pan half way through.

Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely. Store covered. Serve warmed or at room temperature. Slices would pair nicely with this Cashew Sweet Cream.

Serves 8.

Notes: 

The riper the bananas, the less sugar you'll need. If your bananas are not very ripe, you may like to add a tablespoon or so more.

If you don't have baking soda on hand, use 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking powder instead of 2 teaspoons.

If using coconut oil, be sure your milk is at room temperature or warmer. If adding straight from the refrigerator, the coldness will harden the coconut oil.

Replace the oil with applesauce for oil-free bread. Bread may be a little denser. 

Make gluten-free by using a GF flour blend.

Feel free to leave your carrots unpeeled. I felt mine needed it this time but usually skip this step whenever I can.

Fold in 1/3 - 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice. Raisins, currants, cranberries or chopped apricots or dates would work nicely. 

Add in 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg for another layer of flavor and variation.