Lemon Lentil Soup

This is a healthy nutritious soup that is so delicious you won’t even know you’re enjoying a low calorie, high fiber meal.  It’s pretty flexible too.  If you don’t want to spring for fresh parsley and fresh cilantro, use one or the other.  Use about equal amounts of celery, onion, and carrot. Vegetable broth rather than chicken broth makes this a vegetarian or vegan soup.  I loved this so much, I immediately made a second batch.  The first batch, I used half brown lentils and half red lentils (thought to be honest, red lentils are orange).  The taste is quite similar but the red lentils do make a prettier soup.  Let’s be honest, brown doesn’t make for incredible appetizing food.

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 medium onion, diced 

2 large stalks celery with leaves, diced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced or diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced 

7 cups vegetable or chicken broth

 2 cups lentils 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon ground coriander 

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon cayenne red pepper flakes

1 lemon, cut into wedges

In large stock pot, add oil and onion, celery and carrots and sauté over medium high heat for 4or 5 minutes, stirring every minute or two.  Add garlic to pan and sauté for another minute.  Add vegetable broth, lentils, parsley, cilantro, coriander, cumin, turmeric, black and red pepper to pan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to a low and simmer for 25 minutes or until lentils are fall apart tender and vegetables are soft.  Serve each bowl of soup with a wedge of lemon, squeezing the juice from the wedge into each bowl.  If you really like lemon, serve with extra lemon wedges.  

 

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Winter Blues Pot Roast

 

Winter doesn’t seem to want to quit here and that made me think a pot roast might be in order. I went hunting for a recipe that might be a bit more exciting than traditional pot roast with carrots and potatoes and I think this is just the ticket.  I found a great recipe on Add a Pinch and of course I had to make just a few little changes.

 The sriracha and pepper flakes add just a perfect hint of heat to balance the sweetness of the honey.   Try this and you may never go back to Grandma’s pot roast recipe again.  The gravy (sauce) was delicious served over the beef and mashed potatoes too. I’m not a big gravy fan but this is a keeper.  The beef was fall apart tender and loaded with flavor.  

 

3 or 4 pound boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast)

1 ½ cups beef broth

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6 cloves garlic, sliced

Place roast beef into the slow cooker. In a small mixing bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over roast beef and set the timer for your slow cooker. (4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low)

Remove the roast from the pan, cover with foil.  Use a fat separator to remove the fat from the liquid left in the crockpot or after removing roast from the pan, take a paper towel, folded into half and then folded into quarters and run the paper towel over the liquid using the paper towel to grab up the fat from the top of the liquid.  If necessary use a second paper towel to complete the job.  Once the fat has been removed from the liquid, pour the remaining liquid into a sauce pan and simmer over medium high heat until the liquid has been reduced by half.

 

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6 things Thursday

This post is random but aren’t they all!  Here’s whats on my mind (and phone) lately…

1.  Last week I went to Miami and Houston–I was there to work but the warm weather cheered me up like no other!  I needed it–this winter is starting to get to me, as I’m sure many of you can relate to.  I’m sure my pale appearance tipped people off to the fact that I was not a local.

2. I stayed at the Intercontinental Miami and the gym was one of the best hotel gyms I’ve seen.  All brand new equipment and tons and tons of weight machines.   The hotel charged for the gym which is lame but I sweet talked the guy at the front desk into giving me gym passes when I checked in.  But then the doors were wide open so I didn’t even need to use them!  I never thought I would be upset that they weren’t charging for gym use.  I mean..so much for feeling special!!

I also had an acai bowl for dinner one night.  I wish they had more places which had acai bowls here in Chicago–they are the best!

Horrible pic, sorry.

3. While in Houston, I obviously had to go to the mecca of all grocery stores.

 

Bulk bins, I love you.  (there are three more aisles like this one). I realized that I almost always bring back bags of either coconut flour or protein powder from this store in my suitcase.  Yes, I am weird.  It never dawned on me before now that having a random ziploc bag of powder in my carry on suitcase may not be the best practice.  Ha.  Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it though.

3. I also stayed at the best hotel ever–Hotel ZaZa.  If you are planning trips to Houston, Dallas or Austin, I highly recommend!

Even though I had never stayed at this hotel before, they upgraded me to a suite–complete with chandelier!  They also had a really nice gym–with another chandelier.  The pool looked awesome as well but I didn’t have time this trip.

They also put chocolates on the bed and in the morning, they have coffee on every single floor!  That means I don’t have to go down to lobby while sweating profusely after the gym–win for everyone involved!

 

 

4. Speaking of gyms–as anyone who has tried to go to a hotel gym in the morning probably knows–it can get pretty cutthroat.  Anyone who gets on the elevator that early in the morning is probably going to the gym–and at hotel gyms, the most coveted thing is usually the treadmill.  So, ideally you want to be the last person on the elevator, so you can be the first one off and book it to the open treadmill, right?  Right.  Unfortunately, last week, a girl got on after me, and I took one look at her barefoot running shoes and just knew she was going to make a beeline for the treadmill.  But, I was at the back of the elevator–what could I do?  Of course she got off before me and then slowlyyyyy walked down the hall for the gym–I really wanted to pass her but I held myself back in an effort to not be really rude.  And then what happened, she got the last treadmill.  Of course!  Sigh.  Such is hotel life sometimes! Luckily the gym had plenty of space and weight machines so I ended up still getting a workout in–but when a treadmill is the only option, it’s a real bummer.

5. My friend Kat just sent me this and I laughed pretty hard about it.  It was weird timing too because lately random strangers–mostly in airports–keep telling me how tall I am.   Like at least 3 or 4 times in the past week.  What exactly are they expecting me to say in response???

‘You’re tall’

‘Ummm…yeah…I am…”

6.  Completely unrelated to any of the above.  I just got these Nine West shoes for 12 bucks!  Woo hoo!

Clearly, I am committed to being over 6 feet tall :)

Happy almost weekend!

Katie

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Coconut Curry

Happy Valentines Day!

After a very long pause, it’s time to stop being a slug and get back to sharing the recipes I love with you.  I wanted to share a recipe that I really, really love and this is it!

I was on a hunt in the pantry for some canned food or another and I was so frustrated with the utter chaos that I decided to organize the canned goods by category (I don’t think I’ll ever become someone that alphabetizes my pantry).  In the processes of organizing my life and pantry I discovered can after can of chick peas and coconut milk and here is what I came up with to deplete the excess.   It is so yummy, I made it once and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  This is such a nice mix of flavors and if you enjoy a bit more heat, add 3 jalapenos instead of 2.  As is, this recipe has just a hint of heat.  I have made this twice now and I used regular and light coconut milk and although I really am always looking to cut the fat, in this case the fat adds lots of flavor and full fat coconut milk really outshines the light coconut milk.  So if you too have an abundance of coconut milk in your pantry, use the regular variety for this recipe.  I hope you really enjoy this!

 

2 tablespoons oil (coconut or vegetable)

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium red bell peppers, diced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced (or 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained)

1.5 or 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (1.5 cups to serve with rice, 2 cups to serve as soup)

1 can (15 oz.) chick peas, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

In medium stock pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about another minute.  Add the broth, tomatoes and chick peas and bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow vegetables to simmer for 10 minutes, until carrots are crisp tender.  Add the curry powder, coconut milk and cilantro and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve over warm cooked brown or white rice or serve in a bowl as soup.

 

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Lately…

Wow…it has been awhile huh?  I think the last time I posted was before Thanksgiving.  Since then, I have actually started a new job and it has been keeping me really busy–and stressed!  And I haven’t even started the travel part yet–or at least not in full!  In between holidays and trying to learn as much as I can, I haven’t made much (or I guess any) time for the old blog.   I also haven’t made time for things like getting my hair colored before my roots are an inch long.  Ugh.  Hoping both those change as I get a little more settled at my new job and get back into the travel swing of things and hopefully have a life again!

I have been taking pictures of food, airport happenings, etc for the past few months but just haven’t gotten the chance to sit down and get them up.   While coming back after 2 months is a little strange, I figured one way to do it would be to just jump back in with the salad I have eaten for about 2 weeks straight.   It is kind of a strange combination so I wasn’t going to share it at first, but I have made it at least 10 times so I figured maybe you guys are into strange combo’s too!

The salad is very versatile but the main ingredient I always used is finely chopped brussel sprouts (raw ones).  I combine the sprouts with whatever other veggies I have that can be chopped–mostly I have been using celery.   I also add avocado if I have it. Then I add some sort of protein–either chicken, tuna or a turkey burger.   I crumble a few tortilla chips on top, add a little bit of salt and then, I add a few splashes of Frank’s hot sauce and the final ‘ingredient’–the olive muffalata.

The most important ingredient is definitely the olive muffalata.  I got mine from Costco (a huge jar which is now gone) but I’m pretty sure you can get it at any grocery store–or even make your own!  The ingredients in this particular one are olives, cauliflower, celery, carrots, spices and oil and all very finely chopped.  It is a great spread for sandwiches but since I eat more salads than sandwiches, I figured out that it also makes a great dressing!  I took a picture of the jar but of course, I can’t find it and now the jar is gone–I’m going to need to take a trip to Costco this week and then I’ll be sure to post it.

I don’t know what it is, but something about this combo of flavors is really great and I pretty much always find myself a little bit sad when I have eaten the whole salad :) .  Not only that, it’s healthy and makes me feel like I am getting a lot of good veggies in.   If you want to make it even healthier, you can skip the chips–the picture I posted above actually doesn’t have any in it.  With the olive spread–a little really does go a long way in adding a ton of flavor, I usually find that a tablespoon or two is enough–depending on how big my salad is.

Also–buying the pre-chopped brussel sprouts from Trader Joe’s is definitely worth the extra price.  I bought that bag full and next time bought full sprouts that were on sale at Stanley’s–they are a pain to dice up so I’m going back to pre-chopped after this.  Last but not least, the best and most addicting tortilla chips in the world are the spicy soy and flaxseed chips from Trader Joe’s.  They are dangerously good–but they also have 6 grams of protein and 3 g of fiber per serving, so I like to tell myself they are good for me.

If you like brussel sprouts, definitely give this a try!  Hope you like it!

Katie

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Cranberry Nut Pumpkin Coffeecake

I I recently added, “A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash, Seasonal Recipes” by Lou Seibert Pappas to my cookbook collection. Did I  need another cookbook?  Probably not but it’s a great  assortment of recipes that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas.  I was totally drawn in with the recipe for pumpkin coffee cake and baking is usually a task I avoid (I had to dust out the bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer). I made a few minor changes to the recipe that was written, I’m not really able to follow a recipe as written.  I swapped out the sour cream for yogurt and it worked wonderfully.  I increased the amount of cranberries, the recipe suggested using either fresh or dried cranberries.  I used fresh but was concerned the fresh cranberries might be a bit too tart, so I chopped them coarsely to avoid too much tartness in any bite.  It’s called a coffeecake but I think it would make a great dessert, served warm with a bit of whipped cream on top.  Canned pumpkin works great for this recipe but homemade would be perfect.  In either case freeze any extra pumpkin you have for the next time you make this!  The cornmeal adds a nice bit of texture that I think you’ll enjoy.  I think this would be a perfect way to start a day of shopping on Black Friday!

¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I opted for pecans, it’s what I had in the freezer)

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup canola oil or coconut oil

1/3 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 ½ cups fresh or dried cranberries (coarsely chop cranberries if using fresh)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8 x 11 inch glass baking pan.

 Spread the nuts in a small baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes (or cheat like I did and buy the already toasted pecans from Trader Joes) 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugars, oil, yogurt and pumpkin and beat with a large whisk or electric beater until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in the cranberries and the nuts.  Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. 

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan to room temperature, then cut into 12 pieces.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month. 

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Potato Kale Cakes

Who loves cool crisp fall days?  Kale is a lover of cool weather and the 2 plants I have tucked in the herb garden are still going strong.  Here’s a recipe I made when I wanted to use up left over mashed potatoes at breakfast.  Mashed potatoes don’t make me think breakfast but these potato cakes were great, the perfect way to add a little kale to your day too.  I really think these would be great for any meal.  They would be great as a stand-alone with a little side salad at lunch or a great side dish to serve with grilled steak and salad.  I’ve made them twice and both times served them with eggs at breakfast.  Feel free to use premade mashed potatoes that are available refrigerated at the grocery store.  These reheat pretty nicely in the microwave, so make a few extra to a quick meal later in the week.

 

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2 cups mashed potatoes

1 medium onion, diced

4 or 5 large kale leaves, trimmed and chopped (about 4 cups)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil, divided

Add one tablespoon oil to large sauté pan.  Add diced onion and jalapeno to pan and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes or until onion begins to soften and become translucent.  Add chopped kale to the pan and sauté for another 3 or 4 minutes or until kale has wilted.  Remove onion kale mixture from pan and allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.  In medium mixing bowl, combine egg and mashed potatoes until well mixed.  Add onion kale mixture to potatoes and mix until well blended.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Form potato mixture into 5 or 6 portions and gently form cakes with hands.  Add cakes to pan and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes per side or until lightly browned. 

                                                                                 

 

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Chicago Raw Food and airport eats

I have become obsessed with Chicago Raw Food.  It’s becoming a bit of a problem since it isn’t exactly cheap.  It is located inside the French Market which lucky–or unlucky for me is only 2 blocks from my office.

I think if I had access to this place 24/7, I would have no problem eating an entirely raw diet.  The food is just that good.  That being said, I am considering trying to add a little bit more raw eating into my life.   Although it seems relatively time consuming to make.  So, while Raw Chicago isn’t cheap–I think the price is worth it on occassion since they do all the work for me and the food tastes great!

Here is what I have had so far:

Acai bowl (acai smoothie, granola, banana and strawberries).

Sampler platter which includes ravioli (turnips and cashew cheese), zucchini pasta and a garden burger + a truffle for dessert.  All of this food lasted me 2 meals and I loved all of the items!

Zucchini pasta this time with sauce

Collard burrito with guacomole, salsa and a non dairy sour cream.  The filling on this one was actually pretty heavy because it was a cashew cheese mixed with veggies.  It was very good and left me full all day (which rarely happens to me).

I also had an unpictured cranberry muffin which was SO good and very dense.  I want to try and recreate at home.

If you are in Chicago, I highly recommend giving this place a try–even if you don’t think you would like raw food, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

On the non-raw food front, here are some airport/travel eats:

This is not the most appetizing picture since I was so hungry I ate half of it before remembering to take a pic :) .  This is eggs, cheese and chicken sausage with gluten free toast at the airport in Indy (from Cafe Patachou).

I finally tried Tortas Frontera at O’Hare (a Rick Bayless restaurant at the airport).  This is by far the best thing I have eaten at O’Hare.  Which isn’t saying much since the food at O’Hare sucks–at least in the United terminals.  But, the guacomole was definitely some of the best I have ever eaten and the torta (Mexican sandwich) is HUGE–the picture above is only half.   I managed to eat it all though, don’t you worry.  The sandwich was delicious–but it definitely is a ton of bread.  Don’t get me wrong, I love bread–but I felt like I had eaten a loaf of bread when I was done–because I had–and I sorta wanted to be able to taste the other flavors (mine was the short rib torta).  Maybe next time I would eat it open faced but I definitely will be eating here again.   Even just for the guac and a margarita.

Considering O’Hare is my home away from home–I don’t think that will be too much of a challenge.

Sticky rice + lettuce + spicy tuna + avocado bowl.  This is from Whole Foods in Palm Beach.  I don’t know if my Whole Foods has this but I’m going to look for it–it was like deconstructed sushi with a little extra veg and was delicious.

And a few things I have made at home.  These are probably going to be the most appetizing pictures you have seen in awhile so get ready:

Don’t knock this till you try it.  Egg whites but sweet instead of savory.  I added a little coconut milk + a lot of cinammon and a banana.  Cook and then add peanut butter to the top–which melts from the hot eggs.  Sounds kinda gross/weird but tastes great!

Another nasty looking concoction that was really good!  I wanted to make nachos but didn’t have any cheese (and I am trying to eat less dairy).  So, in my food processor, I blended kabocha squash with lots of nutritional yeast, coconut milk, salt and garlic.  Then I heated it on the stovetop to make ‘nacho cheese’.  Combined with black beans and Trader Joe’s spicy flax chips, tomato and salsa.

Would I ever serve this to anyone?  No–the presentation is pretty gross looking.  But it tasted delicious and made nachos just a little bit healthier with an extra serving of vegetables.

Have a great weekend everyone!  And if you live in Chicago go to RAW! :)

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Tomato Caper Salad

I’ll admit it; I have been a slug, but finally I’m back at it and have a really great recipe to share. This is one of the simplest and most delicious tomato salad recipes I’ve found.  I modified a Bon Appétit recipe adding and subtracting from the original recipe based on ingredients I had on hand.  Fresh local tomatoes are the key to making this an incredible dish.  If you don’t have tomatoes growing in your backyard garden (I don’t) then run to your local farmers market and treat yourself to a basket of late season tomatoes before they’re gone.  Give this a try; you can’t believe how delicious this is until you take a bite.

3 large tomatoes, cored, sliced or cut into wedges

½ of a small sweet onion, very thinly sliced

8 -10 basil leaves, chopped or torn

1 stalk of flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1 or 2 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ cup olive oil

Arrange sliced tomatoes on a serving plate.  Top tomatoes with thinly sliced onion, basil, parsley, capers and parmesan.  In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar and sugar.  Pour over tomatoes and serve.

Here are a couple farewell to summer photos!

 

 

 

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Kale ‘Caesar’ with baked chicken fingers

Told you I had a recipe coming!

The other day I made a kale salad and wanted to use a caesar dressing but I didn’t have the right ingredients.  Since I really didn’t want to go back to the store, I improvised.

First, I roasted a head of garlic drizzled with olive oil at 350.  Then, I pureed the garlic with a little bit more olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast and added a little bit of water to thin everything out.

I poured the dressing over the kale at night and then in the morning I added tomatoes, some sunflower seeds and the delicious baked chicken fingers that I made.

For these chicken fingers, I ground up fiber one cereal in the magic bullet, and added salt.  Then I coated the chicken pieces in almond milk and then rolled in the fiber one/salt mixture.   Then put them on a pan and baked for about 20 minutes at 350–the chicken pieces I used were really small so you would probably need to cook for longer if they are bigger pieces of chicken.

Sounds like a strange combo right?  But they turned out really well.  I have made these before a long time ago…I think the initial recipe came from Hungry girl?  They were really good with the salad/dressing but I also just ate them with ketchup the night before and liked them that way too!  I plan to make more this week.

Also, if you can use the Trader Joe’s version of Fiber One, it’s cheaper and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have aspartame in it (I didn’t realize Fiber one did  until after I bought it).

Hope you like them if you try them!  Also, just a note–since the garlic was roasted–it didn’t have that super strong garlicky horrible breath flavor—it is more mild once you roast it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Katie

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