Although it is officially fall, the winter weather is upon us in Seattle. Cold, damp, and wet; temperatures dropped and the first signs of winter occurred when snow fluttered in the skies.
Since we are entering the hibernation season, it is important to consume healthy and hearty foods to warm the soul rather than gorging on comfort foods.
As a health coach and personal trainer, I advocate for eating greens. Many people who follow the paleo lifestyle do not realize that our hunter and gatherer ancestors received their potassium, calcium and other nutrients from plant-based foods.
Today, humans have a myriad of health problems caused by a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and/or environmental pollution. And getting our disease-preventing nutrients from plants is crucial to "keep us alive and well."
It is ideal to eat a combination of fresh and cooked greens. But soups are one of the best foods to consume as it contains water, vegetables and fresh herbs.
There are many reason on why you should eat your greens, but here are three thoughts to consider.
What is your favorite health benefit of eating greens?
"Let greens be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy greens."
Vegan Fresh Herb Chickpea & Collard Green Stew
Prep Time: 7-10 minutes
Cook Time: 22-30 minutes
4 cups water
1 can chickpeas, washed and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 small white potatoes, chopped
4 collard green leaves, chopped
1/3 cup chopped kale
1/3 cup parsley
3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped (optional but recommended)
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Prep the vegetables. Cook the garlic, onion, celery and carrots in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a splash of water if dry. Add all of the ingredients, except for the chickpeas, and simmer until the broth is flavorful and the potatoes are edible. Add the chickpeas the last minute of cooking. Remove from heat and serve.
Looking for other soup recipes this winter? Check out some of our favorite:
Super Easy Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup (Kürbis Curry Suppe)
My Vegan German-Inspired Clear Vegetable Soup ("Alles Klar" Gemüsesuppe) Recipe
Vegan Fresh Herb & Corn Soup
Vegan Sweet Potato Kale Quinoa Stew
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Nature is amazing once you "see" the interconnections between man, plants and food. I love these certain type of purple-flower bushes that blossom with what looks like blackberries.
The bees love these bushes and feed off of them during the spring and summer months. Whenever I look at these bushes, I think of blackberries.
And if you live in Seattle, you know there is no shortage of blackberry and raspberry bushes in the city. Inspired by the fruits and flowers of nature, I decided to combine the natural sweet and tart flavors in a refined sugar-free filling.
I always make desserts healthier, so if you want the filling to be sweeter, add more agave nectar. However, too much sweetener overrides the natural flavor of the berries. Enjoy!
Dairy-Free Blueberry Blackberry Lemon "Cheesecake"
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Waiting Time: Several Hours
1 premade graham cracker crust (or your favorite homemade recipe)
1 8-ounce container of vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries (or regular)
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp lemon zest
pinch of salt
Place all of the filling ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust any flavors as necessary. Add more blueberries, lemon zest or sweetener for a stronger or sweeter flavor.
Pour the filling into the crust and smooth out the filling with a spatula. Cover the cheesecake and cool in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight to thicken OR place in the freezer (about 1-2 hours) to solidify. Thaw in the refrigerator and serve chilled.
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Fall is officially here. The fall equinox has come and gone and our weather is a mix of late-summer sun, cloudy days and misty-grey skies. For October, this weather is pretty amazing and dry.
Most people in the Pacific Northwest dread the fall, but I embrace it. It's the season to expose our inner beauty (foliage) and channel the resting energy that lays dormant, which is much needed after an energetic summer.
Inspired by the many late-summer flowers and the interesting weather patterns, I decided to create a quick-and-easy snack that reignites the energy within us. As the sun continues to shine, there is no shortage of Vitamin-D just yet, but this semi-raw recipe resurrects our energy for when the skies get cloudy and grey.
While playing with flowers, I watched the sky shed raindrops while golden rays of the sun set over the Puget Sound. And when the two elements met, a rainbow appeared over the Sound. While blending these ingredients, I wanted to connect the symbolism between autumn, rain and energy.
If we allow the golden light to fulfill us everyday while embracing the rain (the shadow side of life), we can ground our roots deep into the earth while blossoming our branches. Isn't nature amazing? Even something simple as playing with flowers shows how we rebirth in the cycle of life. These petals and leaves were once a part of something. They've been destructed and constructed into something new. The symbolism is spot on for the energetic transition into fall.
So even though blueberries have the word, "blue," there is nothing to be sad about seasonal transitions. The irony is that nature is more predictable than humans because you know what is coming.
Plus, Mariani Wild Blueberries are bursting with flavor and are my favorite dried blueberries on the market. What I love most about Mariani is their message and deep roots to their heritage. In 1906, Paul Mariani, the immigrant son of a European farmer, arrived in the Santa Clara valley. He planted fruit trees on four acres, and within several years, and many obstacles later, his farm thrived.
Now four generations later, Mariani is a global company that is still a family-owned and operated farm. The moral of this story is that no matter how many setbacks you endure in life, it is important to preserve and rise above the challenges.
The rain will always be a part of life and although the weather may set us back (or make us more tired) it is important to keep a sound mind and continue on with life.
5-Ingredient Blueberry Cashew Bites using Mariani Wild Blueberries
Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes 12-13 bites
1 package of Mariani Wild Blueberries (approximately 3/4 cup)
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flax meal
2 tbsp. agave nectar
Place ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Scoop out the mixture and roll between your hands forming 1 inch balls. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I have not been compensated to write this post but did receive product from Mariani. All opinions are my own.
As the weather cools, I am inspired by the crisp, fall, and sometimes salty sea-mist, air in Seattle. It's a sign that autumn is here and time to warm up the mind, body and home. And with a box of Explore Cuisine's Organic Edamame Spaghetti Noodles, I decided to create an Asian-inspired soup.
Healthy, hearty and whole, these are my newly found favorite noodles. I discovered these noodles while exploring the booths at the IDEA World Fitness Convention in Las Vegas. Impressed by their samples using these noodles, this bean-based spaghetti is more versatile than I realized.
From Italian to Asian, we don't have to always use spaghetti the traditional way. The best part is that we can consume noodles without wheat. This is not only perfect for people with gluten allergies, but it gives our digestive system a break so we can still consume the things we love without eliminating it from our diet. Plus, this pasta is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein - in fact it's 24 grams per serving! Between the fresh herbs, spices and vegetables, this is one powerful plant-based meal!
I don't know anyone who doesn't love Asian food, but sometimes there are mysterious ingredients when using premade sauces. Sodium, msg and preservatives, the secret to cooking Asian food is through the spices. I like to make my food flavorful without high dosages of sodium. All natural and food being as clean as possible is important to me.
So get ready to explore a world of cuisine that is flavored (and inspired by nature).
The original recipe below is best served for 2 to 3 people. However, the box of noodles can serve four bowls. Double the broth recipe for four people, that way there is plenty of broth to go around.
I hope your heart and home stays warm this autumn and be sure to check out Explore Cuisine's Organic Edamame Spaghetti Noodles and other products on their website.
Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for my review, but have been given the product directly from Explore Cuisine.
Coconut Vegetable Soup with Explore Cuisine's Organic Edamame Noodles
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time; 20-3 minutes
1 box Explore Cuisine's Organic Edamame Spaghetti Noodles
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
1 cup cabbage, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
pinch of salt + tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 inch knob of garlic, quartered
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
5 inch fresh lemongrass, cut in half
1 tbsp thai basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
2 cups vegetable broth
7 oz (200 grams) coconut milk (1/2 can)
splash of lime juice
Cook noodles according to the package's directions.
In a pot, cook the onion, garlic, lemongrass, thai basil and ginger in oil for 3 to 5 minutes on low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes.
Wash and prep the vegetables. Sauté the vegetables with oil in a skillet on low heat for several minutes. Add the salt and tamari and stir fry for several minutes until the vegetables are edible but still crunchy.
Place noodles in a bowl and top with vegetables. Ladle as much broth as you prefer and top with the optional garnish. Serve warm!
*NOTE: If you want this to serve four people, double the broth recipe.
Happy Fall Equinox!
Looks can be deceiving. This is not exactly my finest photography skills, but I had to run to teach a yoga class within thirty-minutes of removing the pie from the oven.
I had a hankering for something cheesy and hearty. Something au gratin sounded good. I picked up some late-summer zucchini and squash at the Queen Anne Farmer's Market and decided to concoct a cheesy, zucchini/squash pie.
The pie is simple to make and solidifies once the pie has been completely cooled. As you can see in the above image, the cheese sauce "bled" through the open segment, but if you want to serve the pie completely solid, let it cool and then reheat after cutting.
This recipe is extra quick if you use a pre made pie crust. If not, I recommend using your favorite recipe. If you don't have a recipe, a quick Google search will do the trick. I recommend using vegan butter instead of coconut oil to capture the buttery and savory flavor that compliments that nutritional yeast. Enjoy!
Vegan Zucchini Squash Au-Gratin Pie
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
1 premade dairy-free pie crust
2 large zucchini + squash
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1 cup nondairy milk (used almond)
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper + onion salt
splash of apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to the 350 degrees. Press the crust into a 9-inch pie pan and set aside. Thinly slice the zucchini and squash. Next, place all of the au gratin sauce ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.
Layer the slices in the pie crust in a circular pattern, alternating between zucchini and squash. When the pie is half full, pour some of the cheese sauce on top. Next, continue layering the vegetables until there is about a half to a one inch space from the top of the crust to the zucchini. Pour the remainder of the cheese sauce on top, filling any open holes.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!
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Lemon and dill go together like peas and carrots. Everything I think, smell or taste dill, it reminds me of childhood of my Ukrainian great grandmother cooking borscht or seasoning potatoes with dill. Dill is an interesting herb that is common in Eastern European cooking, but is an herb we don't use on a regular basis in America.
But nothing tastes better and more pure than a freshly picked batch of homegrown dill. I picked up a bundle for a couple bucks at the Queen Anne Farmers Market this summer. When the weather was hot (a little late posting this!), I craved a cold pasta dish.
Inspired by the complimentarily flavors of lemon and dill, I share this recipe in hopes to ignite healthy cooking on a budget. All you need are some fresh, crisp vegetables, pasta, oil and lemon.
Many of our seasonal foods are boxed, packaged products, which contributes to inflammation in the body. They are foods that are stripped from their nutrients and remain a mystery on why so many people consume these foods on a regular basis.
Healthy, whole foods cooking is not difficult and this dill-lemon pasta contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Dill is used for culinary and medicinal purposes known for aiding digestion and respiratory health and preventing insomnia. It's ironic that with the cooler climate in Eastern Europe, dill is one of the best herbs to consume to prevent chronic respiratory issues.
The plant is native to Russia and parts of the Mediterranean and West Africa. Dill is even mentioned in the Bible and ancient Egyptian writings. The Greeks and Romans prized dill for its medicinal properties. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, used dill in a recipe to clean the mouth and supposed ancient soldiers applied dill seeds to heal wounds.
If our ancestors loved dill so much, why not resurrect the use of dill and try this pasta, a simple and easy-to-make recipe that is perfect for the work week. All you need to do is make and then take!
Vegan Lemon Dill Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
2 cups uncooked pasta (used small shells)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Cook pasta according to package dressing. Mix the lemon juice, dill, garlic, salt and olive in a bowl. Set aside while you prep the vegetables.
Drain and cool the pasta. Once cool, mix everything together in a bowl and serve chilled. Enjoy!
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The season is shifting and the planet is ten days away from the fall equinox. As the weather cools, it's time to bring some warmth, nourishment and "roots" into our body. And nothing is more earthly than the potato, a food that has nourished humanity for thousands of years.
Americans, especially fitness professionals, have this "thing" with potatoes. It's a "bad" food because it's starchy and Americans over consume French fries.
I am the potatoes' number one fan! It's not necessarily the potato that is the problem, but HOW we prepare the potato and HOW MUCH potatoes we consume.
Various cultures around the world survive off of, and use the potato as part of their regular diet. The Irish, the Germans, Eastern Europeans, East Indians - everyone uses potatoes, but these cultures either boil, baked or lightly stir fry the potato. The potatoes aren't dunked in a vat of cooking oil and laden with chemicals.
This soup, similar to the taste of a pierogie, is simple, easy and an affordable recipe. I've made this several times and there is a trick to this soup, the size of the potato definitely matters! The smaller the russets, the more you'll taste the onion and garlic. The larger the potato, the more potato flavor you'll have. Please follow the notes below on this recipe.
As we kiss the summer sun goodbye, enjoy this late-summer/fall soup to bring heartiness and warmth to your home.
"My family lived off the land and summer evening meals featured baked stuffed tomatoes, potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh shelled peas and homemade ice cream with strawberries from our garden. With no air conditioning in those days, the cool porch was the center of our universe after the scorching days."
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