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Mushroom Bean Bourguignon

There has never been a better time to try out a plant based diet than during this COVID-19 pandemic. The two biggest reasons to eat meatless meals while “sheltering in place” are: A) Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to boost your immune system and B) fruits and veggies are cheaper and more plentiful in stores than meat and dairy (which can be harder to keep fresh). Some of you who are home with your families may have more time to prepare meals and can ask your children or partner to help prep/chop up veggies for recipes. Turn meal prep time into your own “home economics class” and prepare your kids for life on their own (which comes sooner than you expect).

This recipe from Taste of Home.com is one of our family’s favorites, esp. on cooler nights. It uses easy to find ingredients and tastes like a hearty stew – but without the beef. It is easy to make and serves 4 to 5 (or 10 servings if doubled).

Mushroom-Bean Bourguignon

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2.5 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Large portobello mushrooms cut into 1 inch chunks OR 1 pint package of baby portobello mushrooms cut in half (or quartered if they are big) .
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 2/3 cup dry red wine or cooking wine
  • 1 cup vegetable or mushroom broth (divided)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (optional – for more flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp minced free thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can navy or northern beans, drained
  • 1/2 pkg (14.4 oz) frozen pearl onions (optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp all purpose flour

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onions; cook and stir 8 – 10 minutes or until onions are tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Remove from pan to a separate bowl.
  2. In same pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, cook and stir until lightly browned. Note: If you are doubling the recipe – sauté the mushrooms in two batches and return both batches to the pan when finished.
  3. Add tomato paste; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in wine, 1/2 cup of the broth, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and carrot mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the drained beans and pearl onions (if using) and cook for 30 minutes longer.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk flour and the remaining 1/2 cup of broth until smooth; stir into pan. Bring to a boil and cook and stir 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add more broth if the mixture is too thick.

Serve with crusty bread.

Per Serving (without tomatoes): 234 calories, 6 grams of fat (1g sat. fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 613 mg sodium. 33g of carb., 7g fiber, and 9g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 fat.

Mushroom-Bean Bourguignon

Acorn Squash & Pear Soup

One of my favorite meals to make when the temperature starts to plummet is soup. I ran across this very delicious soup recipe from Taste of Home magazine (Dec/Jan 2013). I made it to share with friends or for potlucks and have received several compliments! This unique soup has an amazing flavor – pairing the sweetness of the pears with the savory flavors of the squash and other spices. I found a few shortcuts – but it still takes about an hour and a half to make – so start early! The recipe serves 10 (or cut in half for 5 servings).

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium acorn squash (cut in half)
  • 4 medium firm pears, peeled and coarsely chopped (1 inch cubes)
  • 3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt (or less if broth has higher sodium)
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 carton (48 oz or 6 cups) vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pears, celery, onion, olive oil and seasonings. Transfer to a greased shallow roasting pan. Brush olive oil on the inside of the acorn squash and place on a separate cooking pan/cookie sheet. Roast at 375 degrees for 1 1/4 hours or until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cool slightly. Scoop out one of the squash halves and add to a food processor along with 1/4 of the roasted veggies mixture. Process in 4 batches along with 1.5 cups of the vegetable broth. Transfer to a Dutch oven and heat through, stirring occasionally.

Shortcut: cut the acorn squash in 1/2 & bake it for 30 minutes @ 350 degrees, then sauté all the rest of the vegetables with seasoning on the stove until soft. Scoop out the squash and add along with the seasoned vegetables to a blender (in batches), then add broth and puree together. Transfer to a large pot and heat through.

Lentil and Butternut Soup

I had purchased a butternut squash and was looking for a recipe to use it. This has been a cold winter – a good time for veggie-packed soups. I thought I would try this lentil and butternut soup recipe to add some color to our menu. It ended up making a lot (6+ servings) and is another way to get some protein (lentils) and nutrient-rich leafy greens (I like to use spinach). This recipe was taken from “One Dish Vegan” by Robin Robertson and is budget friendly. I made some minor adjustments – including adding the squash earlier. Preparation should take an hour total (about 15 minutes to peel and cut veggies and 45 minutes to cook). You could try putting all the ingredients into a crock pot and cooking on low for 3-4 hours. If you try it – let me know how it turns out. 🙂

Lentil and Butternut Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium-size onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small (or med.) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 3 cups) – use 5+ cups for 6+ servings.
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped stemmed chard, kale, or other leafy greens (I like to use spinach)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot (or dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the lentils, squash, tomatoes with their juices, marjoram, and broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes (covered). Stir in the greens and thyme and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are tender (about 10 – 15 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve hot.

Show your heart some love!

I thought Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to talk about something very near and dear to each of us. In fact, none of us could live without it! It is your heart!

On this day we see hearts everywhere, but we rarely think about our own heart and how important it is to us (or to those we love). You may already know this, but Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and also the leading cause of death worldwide.* That’s right – not cancer, not drugs, not suicide – but something that in most cases is preventable.

My Dad’s list of 12 medications

This hits close to home for many of us with aging parents. It was just a year ago this week that my family gathered to mourn the death of my father. He died of a massive stroke at the age of 85 after having surgery to restore circulation to his foot (which had a bad ulcer). He had high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and was taking 12 medications just to stay alive (I found this list in his personal calendar). Like many men his age, he was overweight, rarely ever exercised and had a love for food (which I do as well). He was a veteran of the Korean War, faithfully loved his wife for 64 years, provided for us 4 kids – but he didn’t make his health a priority. Now my Mom is living alone in an assisted living facility and dealing with dementia.

As we get older, we look at our parents to see what we could become (both good and bad). Some of us have the genetics hardwired toward certain diseases and we just accept the fact that we will probably have to deal with the same illnesses. When I stated in this blog, I mentioned how genetic testing showed that I have a higher chance of getting several diseases that my parents and grandparents dealt with (and are still dealing with). There is good news, though! Science is starting to show the impact of healthy lifestyle choices in preventing and even reversing many of these same diseases!

One of the websites that lead to my husband and I cutting out meat, fish and dairy from our diet was NutritionFacts.org. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM also had seen firsthand what heart disease did to his own family and it lead to his becoming a medical doctor. Today many doctors ignore diet as a means to prevent or treat disease and instead just prescribe more medicine with terrible side affects. Even as far back as the ancient Greeks, the physician, Hippocrates knew the importance of good nutrition to counteract disease. He is quoted as saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

OK – I’ll get off my soapbox for now and give you a heart-healthy recipe to cook up for your favorite Valentine. But remember, the biggest gift you can give any of your loved ones is a healthy heart. Lord willing, you will be sticking around for them as long as possible!

Black bean and sweet potato chili

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This is one of our favorite soups for cold nights. I love the colors, flavors and textures – and it has been a hit with company who come to visit and are not into the vegan thing. Another bonus is the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find at your local Aldi or grocery store. I found this recipe in One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson. It serves 4 – 6 and takes about 1 hour to prepare (depending on help with chopping).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I like sweet yellow onions)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (optional: we leave this out because it’s too spicy for us wimps)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more if needed (I use low sodium if available)
  • 1 1/2 – 3 Tbsp chili powder (according to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups cooked black beans or 2 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, rinsed drained
  1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until softened (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the sweet potatoes, chipotles (if using), diced tomatoes with their juices, crushed tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt, and beans. Stir to combine, then bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender (about 45 minutes).
  3. Add more broth if the chili is too thick for your taste. If you prefer a thicker chili, cook uncovered for 15 minutes to thicken. Serve hot. We like to serve this with vegan cornbread muffins.

*According to the article, “The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States” posted by Medical News Today. Last updated 23 February 2017 By Hannah NicholsReviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP

Soup in a Hurry

We all have those nights when dinner has to be prepared quickly because family members need to eat and a leave for evening activities. Tonight was one of those nights. I pulled out my “go to” quick recipe for when I don’t have time to shop and want to use up veggies in the fridge before they go bad.

This recipe was actually taken from the The China Study All-Star Collection by Leanne Campbell, PhD (Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes From Hour Favorite Vegan Chefs).

Everything Minestrone
(
with white beans, carrots, yellow squash, & zucchini)

Everything Minestrone

Makes 8 servings. Recipe by Lindsay Nixon. Gluten free without pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion diced (or half large onion)
  • 4 garlic cloves minced (2 tsp)
  • pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups sliced or chopped vegetables (such as carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, etc.)
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or reg vinegar)
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted – optional)
  • 1 15-oz can of white beans or garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Cooked rice or small shaped pasta like Ditalini (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Line a large pot with a thin layer of water and sauté onion, garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper (if using ) for about 1 – 3 minutes.
  2. Add Italian seasoning and continue to cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add all remaining ingredients, including choice vegetables (except beans), salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil then cover, decrease heat to low, and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 – 20 minutes.
  4. Add beans and cooked rice or pasta (if using) and continue to cook until thoroughly warm.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Everything Minestrone
(
with garbanzo beans, carrots, yellow pepper, zucchini and celery)

Tips: Fire-roasted or tomatoes with onion and garlic can be used for more flavor. Feel free to use leftover cooked pasta or rice for the optional beans (or use all three). You may need to add a cup or more of the vegetable stock if the soup is too thick. You can use any vegetables you have on hand. For extra nutrition – I like to throw spinach at the very end.

Super Lentil Soups

Winter is a great time to cook soups – and last week’s record-breaking cold snap (23 below with wind chill in Cincy) made us even more hungry for a good, hot soup. I cooked up this yummy Vegan Lentil Soup to bring to a good friend who had recently given birth to twins. She had actually made it for us when my father passed away last winter and we loved it.

Vegan Lentil Soup
Vegan Lentil Soup

I exchanged the kale (which can sometimes taste bitter) for spinach to give this new mom some extra needed nutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron and calcium. It is super easy to make and the ingredients are flavorful, filling and very inexpensive. My husband and I gave this 5 stars!

Vegan Lentil Soup

Author: Cookie & Kate

Prep Time: 10 mins. Cook Time: 45 mins (55 min. total). Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (can be substituted with veg broth)
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed and minced (or 2 tsp. minced garlic)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 large 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt, more to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped fresh kale, collard greens, or spinach (stems or ribs removed)
  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 medium lemon (to taste) – about 2 Tbsp.

Instructions

  1. Warm the olive oil (or veg. broth) in a large Dutch or pot over medium heat. One-fourth cup olive oil may seem like a lot, but it adds a heartiness to this nutritious soup. If you are cooking oil free, you can substitute the oil with 1/4 cup of vegetable broth.
  2. Once the oil (or broth) is shimmering, add the chopped onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, cumin, curry powder and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly (about 30 seconds). Pour in the diced tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often, in order to enhance their flavor.
  3. Pour in the lentils, broth and water. Add 1 tsp. salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly group black pepper. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
  4. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender. Protect your hand from steam with a tea towel placed over the lid and puree the soup until smooth. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and add the chopped greens. Cook for 5 more minutes or until the greens have soften to your liking.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in lemon juice (about 3 tbsp). Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice until the flavors are too your liking. Serve immediately. I like to serve this soup with warm vegan cornbread muffins. Leftovers keep well for about 4 days in the refrigerator (or can be frozen for several months).

Recipe from Cookie and Kate: https://cookieandkate.com/2019/best-lentil-soup-recipe/

Let me know how you like the soup – or if you tried any variations that worked well.

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Moroccan Lentil Soup
Moroccan Lentil Soup

Here is another easy to make soup from Forks Over Knives that is very close to the previous recipe – but uses no oil, no greens and includes more exotic Moroccan spices. We gave rated this 4 and half stars.

Moroccan Lentil Soup

By Somer McCowan of “The Abundance Diet” Makes 6 servings. Total Prep/Cooking Time: 45 min.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups vegetable broth (I try to find a low-sodium broth with 500 mg or less)
  • 2 cups chopped onions, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 medium carrots, chided into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (or 1 tsp. minced)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 heaped tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 large (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups slip dry red or brown lentils (I used the Lentil Trio from Aldi)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (opt).
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp. seat salt or to taste
  • 1/3 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and sauce, adding additional broth as necessary to keep the vegetables from burning. Cook until the onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the flavors to bloom. Add the remaining vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and lentils and bring to ta boil.
  3. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked.
  4. Add the parsley, cilantro, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Notes: For texture variation, pulse the soup a few times with an immersion blender. For extra brightness, squeeze an additional slice of lemon over each bowl.