Bell Pepper and tomato soup


This is my new favorite soup!  I love it.  It's smooth and warming with a little kick. Today has been rainy, which is sooooooo unusual for Northern California at this time of year, so I decided to make some soup and feel all warm and cozy.



Here is the recipe:

40g or 1/4 cup red lentils
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped/crushed
5 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped or a can of tomatoes (eg Pomi chopped tomatoes)
2 peppers - one red and one yellow
400g or 1 3/4 cups water or stock
shake or two of cayenne pepper
To serve - hemp and pumpkin seeds

1. Begin by grinding the lentils into a powder/flour, using a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Put to one side.
2. Dry-fry the onion, garlic and peppers in a medium saucepan, until soft (approx 5 - 10 minutes)
3. Add the stock/water, tomatoes, ground lentils and cayenne and simmer for 12 - 15 minutes
4. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
5. Serve sprinkled with hemp and pumpkin seeds.

You can use just red peppers, but I like to use one red and one yellow - just coz they look pretty! They are a good source of Vitamin C and also carotenoids.




The lentils are used like flour, to thicken the soup.  I'd never tried using ground lentils in a recipe - but grinding them first helps you achieve a smooth texture to the soup and they cook quickly.  I can see myself using them to thicken lots of other dishes too.



It's quick and easy to make.  As the soup will be pureed, you don't have to spend a long time on chopping things finely, as the blender will do that.  And the kick of cayenne (to your taste) gets your taste buds dancing!


If you feel like you need to cozy up, give it a try.  A healthy, warming, tasty soup.
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Food as Medicine group

We had two great mornings in our food as medicine groups this week - focusing on the health benefits of legumes, beans and lentils.


Here is the Tuesday group, as we sat down for a 4 course lunch together, eating what they had cooked together.


The menu was:

  • Lentil and caper pate with lentil chips
  • White bean pesto with poppadoms
  • Sugar snap pea and blood orange salad
  • Moroccan Bean stew (using black beans, garbanzo beans and red lentils)
  • Not-so-dumb blondies (using cannellini beans)
  • Mandarinquat brownies (using black beans)
Most of us don't get enough fiber in our diets and beans are a wonderful was to increase our fiber intake.  I love using the "Eden Foods" brands of cooked beans in my cooking, as they are cooked with kombu - a sea vegetable that helps to break down the oligosaccharides in beans, which is the part that causes gas.  Soaking your beans helps too - along with good rinsing - as the oligosaccharide is water soluble. Gas shouldn't be your reason for not eating beans! There are many ways to avoid it.


Beans help with :
  • stabilizing gut transit time - not too fast so that nutrients can't be absorbed and not too slow so toxins can't be reabsorbed
  • heart health, 
  • are an EXCELLENT source of anti-oxidants (more than blueberries), 
  • help maintain a healthy gut flora
  • high in folic acid and B6
  • are a good protein source
  • high in iron, magnesium and calcium
  • a good source of molybdenum
  • stabilizing blood sugar levels
  • eliminating toxins, carcinogens and excess hormones
  • producing butyrate from your gut bacteria which heals and protects the lining of the large investine.
So go eat some beans today!  
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Food as Medicine Group - Beans

My two "Food as Medicine" classes this week are focusing on the health benefits of beans/legumes/lentils.

Here are a couple of photos of two of the dessert items we will be making together.


I'll share some of the recipes later.  Both of these are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

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Chickpea crepes (and upgraded Moroccan Bean Stew)

As I said a couple of days ago, I made a yummy Moroccan bean stew this week - enough for a few meals.

Reheating it, I've added a few other ingredients - which has bulked it out a little so it's gone further, and also improved the flavor, I think.


First of all I added a bunch of kale, fresh from the garden.  Yummy. Tastes even better because you feel all that green is good for you!

And for my last bowl, I've added a handful of currants. I loved the sweetness as part of the spice mix, and wanted to build on that a little, so the currants did the trick.  Not too sweet, like I think raisins could have been, but the currants lift the flavor nicely.


These photos also show my chickpea crepes I made to go with it.  I tried using the batter to make small blinis, but they tasted heavily of "bean" so I wasn't that keen on them.  But the thin crepes don't taste beany at all - so could go with sweet or savory accompaniments.

Here is the chickpea crepe recipe: Makes 6 crepes.
150g chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
1 egg or egg replacement
200ml water

I made the crepes on my aga, so put a non-stick sheet directly on the simmering plate (no frying pan needed) and poured the batter on there, so I didn't need any oil.  I love making pancakes, crepes etc on the aga, directly on the plate!

But if you don't have an aga :-(, heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan.  Add some batter and swirl it around the pan to spread it out into a circle and cook on medium heat until the edge start turning golden (~1minute).  Flip it over and cook for another minute.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

These will make nice wraps too - quite flexible and strong enough to place lots of vegetables in them.

Do you change your meals throughout the week when you make a big pot of something? What sort of things do you add?
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Moroccan bean stew

Chilly nights mean a desire to cozy up with some yummy comfort food.



As I mentioned yesterday, I cooked some garbanzo beans and so used them in a Moroccan bean stew.  As well as the garbanzo beans there are black beans, red lentils and sweet potatoes plus a host of veggies and spices.


It is the combination of spices that brings this dish alive. Ten different herbs and spices to be precise!  They have a lovely sweetness to them. Its a great synergistic effect.

This makes for a really healthy dish including:

  • excellent fiber levels from the beans and lentils
  • very high antioxidant levels from the spices and beans and lentils too
  • plenty of protein from the beans and potatoes
  • good beta carotene from the sweet potatoes
  • anti-inflammatory activity from the Quercetin in the garlic and onion, and the turmeric and fresh ginger
  • anti-cancer activity from the garlic and onion and spices
  • blood sugar control from the cinnamon
  • selenium from the garlic
  • free from added fat, and gluten too - low allergy and vegan.
I made a big pot of it, so it'll keep me going through the week.  Let me know if I can bring you a bowl!  

The recipe comes from Dreena Burton's book "Let them eat vegan".   Moroccan Bean stew recipe.  It has to be the book I use most often of all my recipe books - and you wouldn't believe how many I have! 

I'll be making it again next week in my Food as Medicine class where we are focusing on the health benefits of legumes.

Hope you are cozy tonight.  Take care. 
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Bringing in the New Year

Are you ready to bring in the New Year?  What do you have planned?

When we were in Mexico for New Year a couple of years ago, we loved all their bringing-in-the-new-year traditions and have definitely adopted one...even if we are making a little change to it this year!


The idea is that when making a toast with champagne for the New Year, each person should have 12 grapes, one for each month of the new year, in order to attract good vibes throughout the coming year.  With each strike of the clock on the final seconds of the year, you have to eat a grape - one on each strike, with the wish that your hopes and dreams will come true.

The grapes can be little bunches for each person, but we liked the idea of putting them on a skewer and in the champagne. Our slight deviation this year, however, is that the other day I found some gooseberries for sale in Sonoma! I absolutely adore gooseberries and have only seen them on sale once before in the US! So I bought all they had and so we have our skewered gooseberries to bring in the new year, instead of skewered grapes!  Don't they look good!...and will look even better when the glasses are filled with champagne.


The other traditions we learned about are:

  • underwear!  The underwear you wear on the last night of the year must be new and given to you by someone else! The color should be red to attract love and passion, and yellow to attract money and success.  When we were in Mexico, we saw quite a bit of red AND yellow underwear for sale just before new year - so you can attract it all!!!
  • suitcases.  If you want to travel in the New Year, you should keep a couple of suitcases ready at the door of your house, stuffed with clothing.  In the first few minutes of the new year, take them out of your house and walk them as far as you can, to attract lots of trips in the new year.
  • lentils. Eat at least a tablespoon of lentils to attract wealth and prosperity in every way, and especially for a business.
  • broom. As the new year strikes, open the door and use a broom to sweep out the bad vibes and welcome the good vibes in.
  • coins. Have a lot of coins and money on hand that you can count when the clock strikes midnight, which will bring you a lot of wealth.  Some place it in their shoe to bring more prosperity!

So what are you wishing for in the New Year?  Do you need to send someone out quickly to buy you new underwear?

Whatever your hopes and dreams, enjoy making them come true.


Have fun bringing in the New Year and may 2013 be full of happiness, love, and good health.

Cheers!
PS. Not sure how the gooseberries will go with the champagne, to be honest!
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