Thursday, September 26, 2013

Simple Seasonal Supper

Last week, I picked up beets and a small pumpkin squash from the grocery store (my garden space is small, so I don't grow either of these veggies) and decided to make a simple seasonal supper a few nights ago.  Although the veggies took approximately 1 hour to bake, the preparation time was pretty quick.  To prepare the squash, I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, placed the squash into a casserole dish, spooned some of the tomato 'juice' I had on hand from the many tomatoes I have harvested from my garden this year into the centre, added some oregano and sea salt, and baked for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Once the squash was in the oven, I diced the beets and placed them in a casserole dish with diced onion, garlic, and zucchini.  I added a simple tahini sauce (tahini, nutritional yeast, tamari, lemon juice) over the veggies and placed the dish, alongside the squash, in the oven and baked for 45-50 minutes.  The whole preparation time for both of these dishes combined was at the most 20 minutes!  Once the veggies were ready, I served them with pinto beans and short grain brown rice.  This was a hearty and delicious and easy fall meal!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hello September!

Even though the arrival of September means most of the front yard perennials have finished their work for the year, the echinacea plants are in full bloom.  Echinacea is my favorite perennial and is such a great immune stimulating herb!  I love seeing the echinacea plants every year!

With the summer winding down, I have already made my second batch of yummy fall granola (the recipe is from the Oct 30, 2010 blog post).  With these last 2 batches, I didn't have any cashews, so I added extra almonds and walnuts instead.  I also didn't have any sesame seeds, so I added hemp seeds and I have changed from using canola oil to coconut oil.  Each time I make the granola, it is quick and easy (it takes under 20 minutes to add the ingredients together and another 24 minutes to bake) and it is always delicious!

This year I planted 5 small tomato plants that I picked up from the farmer's market and they have turned into a tomato jungle!!  I have already picked enough tomatoes to make 1 batch of my favourite tomato soup.  Because tomatoes can aggravate both joint pain and heartburn, this soup isn't a great fit for everyone, but if you can tolerate tomatoes, it is yummy and easy to make.
Here is the recipe for Simple Tomato Soup:
1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 onion, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped, 2 cups zucchini, chopped, 1 tbsp basil (I also used a handful of fresh basil, oregano, and parsley), 2 tbsp wheat free tamari, 8 cups tomato 'juice' (to make the juice, I stewed the tomatoes until they were primarily liquid and then stamped them through a colander and discarded the skins and saved the remaining juice), 2 - 4 cups leafy greens (I used a combination of kale and collards), chopped, 2 cups cooked green lentils, 1/2-1 package pasta (I used tinkyada brown rice penne), cooked

Place olive oil in a soup pot over low-medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Add crimini mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.  Add zucchini, basil, and wheat free tamari and saute for 3 minutes.  Add tomato juice and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add leafy greens, lentils and rice pasta.

I have been making some variation of this recipe for more than 20 years and it never disappoints!  To make it even more enjoyable, the tomatoes, zucchini, leafy greens, fresh basil, fresh oregano, and fresh parsley that I used in this recipe are all directly from my backyard garden.  The penne that I used in this recipe soaked up most of the tomato juice and turned the recipe into more of a stew than a soup!

I have been aiming to pick zucchini regularly from my garden, but I missed one and ended up with a super zucchini!  In order to use up some of the super zucchini, I made chocolate zucchini bread (really a cake :))!  This is definitely a treat recipe and not a every day food recipe, but it is so yummy and well worth making if you find your self with LOTS of zucchini.  The recipe I used is from the book Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  This book has many delicious and nutritious recipes based on the variety of lovely and colorful vegetables and fruits available and is a good one to have at home/borrow from the library.  I substituted spelt flour for whole wheat flour, coconut oil for canola oil, and halved the amount of sugar (and used pure maple syrup instead of granulated sugar) and the bread/cake still turned out great.