Only a few days left until the summer solstice arrives. The weather turned to fall rather quickly in Seattle, but the leaves still remain green. Silly me found these pictures on my camera of a soup recipe that I made last year but forgot to post it.
Soup has a way of nourishing the mind, body and soul. In ancient times, soup was the main meal for many villages and soldiers survived off stews and soups, but ones rarely with flavor. They required nourishment to fight not a fanciful palate to satisfy.
In modern cooking, we are lucky to have an array of spices, herbs, broths and bouillon cubes to make our soups flavorful for the masses. I once had a past life regression hypnotherapy reading, and many of my lives revolved around food and nourishment.
I had one vision of a book on an end table with a candle and a cauldron of food simmering inside a lit fireplace. Simple and savory, soups are my favorite meal to cook. I once met a nutritionist who claimed soups are one of the best things to eat because of the equal balance of fresh produce, grain, protein, water and healing spices and herbs.
I hope you enjoy this simple soup!
Vegan Barley + Bean Soup
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
4 cups water + 1-2 bouillon cubes (or 4 cup vegetable broth)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup kale, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dried barley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
In a deep pot, cook the onion and garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue to stir and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the water, bouillon, barley and spices and simmer until the barley is edible. (Start with one bouillon cube and add an additional one or even half if you desire the broth to be saltier or more flavorful).
Add the kale and chickpeas near the later point of when the barley becomes edible. Once edible, adjust any spices and then remove from heat when finished.
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Gluten is sneaky. Like pollen, gluten has the ability to cross contaminate easily throughout our kitchen. Those who have a mild intolerance may not have issues with contamination, but those with severe life-threatening issues like Celiacs may need to be more cautious as the slightest bit of gluten triggers symptoms. Those with severe issues may find that eating out is impossible as restaurant kitchens cannot maintain a GF standard, unless the restaurant is specifically gluten free.
It is recommended to thoroughly clean kitchen appliance, or have separate appliances for those with severe issues. Here are some ways that gluten cross contaminates in the kitchen.
What other ways do you know of gluten spreading in the kitchen?
There are countless ways to transition into a plant-based diet (vegetarian or vegan). Most people can benefit from adding more plants to their diet, but if serious about a lifestyle change most people can't do it with a "cold turkey" switch.
Whether you want to become vegetarian or vegan, most people need to gradually ease into that style of eating. Smokers cannot quit smoking overnight. The same is with our diet and palate. We have biological cravings that our body is adjusted to, especially if older. If are are 35 and were raised eating meat, this means you lived nearly 100% of your existence eating meat or dairy (minus the nursing infant years of mother's milk / formula).
These three steps I use to help my clients who want to transition - Add, Replace, Eliminate to adjust to a pallet switch.
-First: Add Produce to Meals
-Second: Replace the meat Protein / Dairy / Simple Carbohydrate Sources
-Third: Eliminate the Remaining Meat/Dairy sources once Palate is Adjusted
There is no timeline for each step or zone. Graduating from one step to the next is an individual process.
While eating your normal diet, this is the time to start adding produce to meals. This doesn't necessarily all have to be raw produce, but just adding produce to cooked foods aides the palate adjustment. It adds bulk to the meal so some less meat / simple carbohydrate will be less consumed. In the video above I share examples of how to add produce to meals.
Most people today eat too many simple carbohydrates. If transitioning for health reasons, this is the time to start replacing to healthier choices as well as gradually replacing meat / dairy sources. An example of this is to replace brown rice with white rice. Another example is if you eat cereal, can you switch from cow milk to almond milk. Soy meat products have a different taste, even something like chickpeas is an ideal replacement for chicken. This stage is a gradual process.
Once your palate is adjusted and feel comfortable eating plant-based foods, this is the time to eliminate the remaining meat / dairy sources, or foods that no longer serve you from your diet. I explain more in the video above.
How have you transitioned into a plant based diet? What worked for you?
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It is no secret that many people today suffer from a gluten intolerance. Whether one has a serious disease like Celiac's, or has a mild intolerance, wheat and gluten can be found in a myriad of food and home products. Those who are trying to heal from gluten intolerances may have a difficult time because gluten is found in medications, kitchenware items, cosmetics and can also be cross contaminated in the kitchen.
If you notice issues after consuming wheat products, contact your doctor to undergo gluten allergen tests.
Here are the following food sources that contain gluten.
Information comes from Bastyr Center for Natural Health Nutrition Care Team.
Memories live inside us. Good or bad, memories have a way of uplifting or plaguing a man's soul. And I'll never forget the time spent in Nice, France. It is one of my favorite cities in the world. Part of my soul thrives in the ocean, and with it's Roman, Greek and Italian influence, Nice is a place of its own.
Words cannot describe the feelings and aura of Nice. At sunset, the ocean is like a canvas painting. The old town is as beautiful as a rose garden in the summer. And the food recipes are as ancient as Rome itself.
Check out my travel images + stories from my travel blog, The Lemon Tree. Discover more at: 20 Amazing Photos from Nice, France that Will Stir Your Soul
Ratatouille is a French Provencal stewed vegetable dish that originates in Nice, France. There are many versions of it, but usually it consists of eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, onion, garlic, tomatoes and local green herbs for flavoring. The dish originated in the 18th Century and "touiller" means "to stir up."
I made this the old traditional way of stirring vegetables in a pot to simmer. In modern times, food bloggers create beautiful circular arrangements of squash and zucchini for baking, but the easier and less time consuming way is to make it like they did in the 1700's.
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped (used purple)
2 peppers, chopped (any color, I did one red + one green)
1 very small eggplant, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano
2 sprigs of thyme
salt+pepper to taste
In a pot, cook the onion + garlic in olive oil for several minutes. Add the eggplant and peppers and cook + stir for several minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until edible and fragrant. Continue to stir so the vegetables do not stick on the bottom of the pot.
Enjoy as a side dish or part of the main course.
Let's Connect! Enjoy my other recipes below!
I hope everyone is having a good summer. Wow, is it now officially summer. I have taken a wee bit of a break from social media, and a well needed one. I felt as if I needed time away from the digital sphere and just work on things in the real world.
I did not, and still do not miss social media. I would not use it except as a writer it is necessary to have an online presence. Anyways, I am about six weeks too late posting this asaparagus recipe, but it is well worth it regardless of its timing.
Roasting vegetables is one of the most common forms of cooking produce. However, adding a twist with nutritional yeast gives this a cheesy flavor, which is now my preferred method of cooking and consuming asparagus.
Asparagus is one of those seasonal vegetables that has a unique history and past. It is believed that humans have consumed asparagus for over two-thousand years. A distant cousin of the onion family, asparagus originates in the Mediterranean.
The Greeks considered asparagus to be sacred and was used as an aphrodisiac. The ancient Greek doctor, Hippocrates, used this vegetable to treat symptoms of diarrhea and urethra pain.
The Romans ate asparagus as an entrée or alongside cooked fish. Europe forgot about asparagus during the Middle Ages, but made a comeback in the 16th Century as it was served by the royal courts. In the 17th Century, the French cultivated asparagus since King Louis XIV was very fond of it. By the 18thCentury, asparagus was available in the markets. What a history, and that’s the shortened version.
For a more Mediterranean flare, I added a variety of colorful cherry tomatoes, which also tastes delightful covered in nutritional yeast. Enjoy!
Dairy-Free Roasted "Cheesy" Asparagus + Tomatoes
Serves - 4
1 lb. of asparagus (or 1 bunch)
10 oz. package of cherry tomatoes (used sugar plum)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2.5 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper + garlic salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the last 1-2 inches off the ends of the asparagus. Place the asaparagus and tomatoes into a bowl and mix with olive oil. Mix the nutritional yeast and the spices together. Sprinkle over the vegetables (save about a teaspoon) and mix until well-covered. Arrange the vegetables on a baking sheet and roast for 21 minutes.
Many moons ago I worked at a vegan cafe in college named Squeakers. Veganism and vegetarianism was a "big thing" back in the early 2000's in Northwest Ohio. As a college student at Bowling Green State University, this is where a passion for cooking further ignited. I loved that job, and still to this day was one of my favorites. I guess deep down at heart I am not a desk-job type of person. Cooking is a form of creation and to me, it is therapeutic in nature.
One simple and easy recipe we served was a spicy tofu peanut wrap. It is one of the easiest recipes to make and is a quick meal to put together for work lunches. Back then we used San J International Thai Peanut Sauce, since that was the only thing we had on stock at the small cafe and health food store.
Today, you can use other brands though I do suggest San J, and the best part is that the sauce is Gluten Free. For this round, I used Trader Joe's Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette Dressing.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Wraps are simple, easy and easily digestible in the summer months. The cooling raw vegetables make this a perfect picnic or on-the-go lunch. Enjoy!
Spicy Tofu Peanut Wrap
1 14 oz. block extra firm tofu, drained and press
1 bottle of Peanut Sauce
1 package of wraps
optional: avocado, sprouts etc.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While heating, remove the tofu from its package and wrap in 2-3 paper towels. Press the tofu by placing in a dish with a heavy bowl on top. Press for at least 15 minutes (or hours if possible).
Cut the tofu block in half and then cut slices as seen in the image above. Smother the tofu in peanut sauce in a bowl and then pour evenly onto a baking sheet. Use about half of the bottle of peanut sauce for baking. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the tofu, and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the tofu cool. You can eat the wraps with the tofu cold or hot. Place lettuce, tomato, carrots and other toppings into a wrap. Place 3-4 sliced pieces of tofu on top and add a small amount of peanuts in the wrap. Drizzle additional peanut sauce on top and enjoy!
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A bit late in posting, but better late then never. Although I consider quiche warm and hearty and perfect for the winter months, spring is foraging season for mushrooms in Washington State, so if you're picking mushrooms and need a new recipe to try, here is an earthly, dairy-free quiche for you and your family.
Mushrooms are quit interesting and fascinating. Some are poisonous and some are known to have power to save the planet.
Save the planet?
Yes, you read that right. Washington native, Paul Stamets studies mushrooms and believes the mycelium, the root structure, has immense power to change human health and the planet's well-being. I dont know enough about the topic, but i find it fascinating that nature has provided us an organism that can boost immunity to clean up oil spills.
The earth is a natural self-healing organism. The earth organically recycles and grows and produces everything we need in order to survive. It is up to our human consciousness and intellect to understand how to use (or know the power of) the grown organisms. If mushrooms can save the planet, just think of how amazing this earth can become.
Vegan Mushroom Fennel + Leek Quiche
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Pan: 9-inch round pie pan
Makes: 8 slices
1 premade vegan pie crust (or your favorite homemade recipe)
1 block of extra firm tofu (14 oz.), pressed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 heaping cup, leeks, chopped
1 cup fennel, chopped (white bulb part of mushroom)
2 cup criminology mushrooms, sliced
1.5 tbsp parsley, chopped
toppings - parsley, fennel leaves + mushrooms
quiche base ingredients
2 tbsp + 1 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp non dairy milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove for the tofu mixture
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp tumeric
pinch of pepper
Begin pressing the tofu. Wrap the tofu in 3 paper towels or with a kitchen towel. Set it on a plate and then set a bowl or heavy object on top to press out the water.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and mold the pie pan with the crust.
In a pan, cook the vegetables in olive oil until edible or when mushrooms shrink. Add the parsley during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside when done.
Once the tofu is pressed, puree the tofu and the remaining ingredients noted in the third batch of ingredients. Once pureed, mix the blended tofu and the vegetables together.
Pour into the pie crust and bake for 30-35 minutes. The quiche will solidify once cooled. Enjoy warm!
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America is nutritionally confused. And for good reason. Marketing and false promises are the forefront of every nutritional belief.
Every system, diet or program "guarantees" results if you follow their every step. So many people try with good intentions, but sadly fail. Does this mean they have a lack of willpower? Does this mean they're stupid? Or that they're a total failure?
No. Absolutely not. America is "food confused" because of so many systems out there. Unlike other parts of the world, where ancient cultures are still connected to the land, or consume specific foods during harvest season, most Americans have lost touch to the basics of agriculture and simple eating.
So what is the missing ingredient in the world of nutrition?
It is our spirit, which is missing.
America has lost touch with it's body and it's bodily awareness through the last few decades. Although it's making a comeback, the combination of desk jobs, technological devices, and artificial foods have "blocked" Americans not only from their spirit, but also from the connection and energy of the land.
Nutrition from a logical lens nourishes, or fuels, us, but more from a weight loss/gain perspective. It's the energy balance equation. If you eat more than you expend you gain weight. If you eat less than you expend you lose weight. Although this philosophy contains truth, there is a missing link.
A calorie is a unit of energy. And what you consume energetically matters not only nutritionally, but emotionally, psychologically and mentally. We've lost touch in fueling the spirit, where today we use food for superficial reasons. This in itself is spiritual and understand the spiritual context of food created by God.
Viewing nutrition through a spiritual lens ignites a fresh perspective, seeing food through a new light.
God's wisdom is profound. Depending on whether you believe in creation or evolution, we can all agree that food from nature provides the necessary nutrients that the human body needs for optimal function.
I believe some issues related to obesity is due to a lack of one's connection to spirit. Most people on this planet crave "something more." This "something more" is our soul, or our higher self talking to us.
Food is medicine and heals us internally as well as promotes exterior beauty.
Our physical body is the vessel that our soul uses to connect to the Divine. When clean, healthy and whole, our bodies continue to "bring in" more of the light. This light inspires us to further nourish our heart and soul.
Many ancient traditions considered the body sacred, believed that taking care of the body ensure's one health and longevity. in simple terms, the body is a temple. Interior beauty is just as important as exterior beauty. You can read more at my other blog link, Why You Should Treat Your Body as a Temple.
Not only is nutrition important, but ancient cultures also believed in the art and well-being of movement, holistic medicine, relaxation techniques and adequate sleep. These traditions viewed the body not as God, but as a vehicle to God.
So what makes these ancient cultures different than today? These cultures had a spiritual foundation.
Without a spiritual foundation, nutritional knowledge can only go so far.
No matter how strict one's diet is with adequate vitamins, minerals and vegetables, one is still susceptible to health issues. This doesn't mean that one should not attempt towards better health, but without stable emotions and a mindset and a connection to God, nutrition can only be taken so far.
In today's world, we have a surface level understanding of nutrition thanks to marketing and quick-fix gimmicks.
Children are natural intuitive eaters, but adults once we enter the "real world" we experience eating a myriad of complex eating issues. Some eat their emotions due to stress, loneliness or depression. Some don't eat because of body image issues. We adopt beliefs around the "right and wrong" foods.
We need a mix of nutritional and spiritual enlightenment.
We are more than just a body, but a vehicle containing a spiritual source. Please read the upcoming blog post that discusses questions one should ask regarding their spiritual foundation and nutritional knowledge.
Some say life is a series of random and chaotic events. Others say life is pre-determined by God. Whatever you believe, the cycle of life and nature never changes. But sadly, it has changed. The climate is as confused as people are in this country on how to eat.
The beauty of spring is here. A time of rebirth and the season of precious petals falling to the earth and petite birds chirping with the morning sun. The key is that warmth drives this season. The temperatures rise and people begin to sow seeds into the earth.
As life gains more energy at this time of year, it is important to continue on the path of consuming natural foods. Like a bird searching for seeds and berries, this "bird food," granola bar is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat.
Most mainstream granola bars on the market contain a variety of either sweeteners, artificial ingredients or preservatives.
These chewy (not crispy) granola bars are naturally sweetened from the banana and the maple syrup. There is gunk or junk, only hearty, healthy and wholesome goodness. Enjoy!
"God gives every bird its food, but He does not
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com