a handful of green

I’ve been a little MIA this past week, in more areas than one.

I haven’t so much as touched the book that I’ve chosen to read during the month of March.  Aside from wearing a green scarf, I completely forgot about St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve been living off of hummus and swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch, with raw veggies, fruit and almonds for snacks.

In other words, I’ve been kind of busy.  And I really miss my kitchen.  And I think my kitchen kind of misses me.

So as soon as the day was officially “complete,” as soon as it was over, I decided to stop off at Whole Foods and see what I could conjure up for dinner.  I felt the need for something…something…

…something green.

If you’ve ever seen a bunch of bright green garden cress at the supermarket, but you’ve  had no idea what it was or what you could do with it, you are not alone.  The flavors were a complete mystery to me until today.  I had no idea how I would use the little green leaves.  If I would use the little green leaves (!?!)

But the bright, cheery little bunch was a mere $1.00.  I’ll try anything for $1.00.  Especially if it’s bright and sunny and it makes me smile.

The sign at Whole Foods explained the leaves as being smooth, soft, bright, tangy and peppery.

“Perfect for sandwiches and soups and salads,” it said.

Perfect for tonight.

The cress bared a faint resemblance to arugula, without being over the top or in your face about it.  It’s a little more subtle.

Light and soft and elegant.

And it really does lend the most wonderful, rustic charm to a hot bowl of Mushroom Soup.  I simply chopped it up and sprinkle it on top for a deliciously healthy garnish.

You could also let it wilt by throwing in a handful or two at the end of the soup’s cooking time.  It would also pair lovely with a hummus wrap and a slice of sharp cheddar.

It felt really nice to be back in the kitchen, tonight.  Chopping and dicing and stirring and eating.  Yes.  It felt good to unwind.

Have a happy Friday!

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a sweet, sweet potato

Just in case you didn’t think dinner was going to be on the table in 45 minutes or less tonight…

Just in case you didn’t think it was possible to turn your humble sweet potato into a meal…

Just in case you wanted a comforting, non-fussy sort of meal…

You know. Just in case.

This recipe is for you.

Broccoli-Feta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes—as seen in Moosewood Cookbook and on this website

Serves 4

Salty feta cheese and sweet, sweet potatoes; what an irresistible combination.  This luxurious (but simple!) dinner carries with it a faint reminder of my mom’s famous broccoli pie that she serves every Christmas.

Serve this creamy dish with a fresh, crunchy side salad.  Save any leftovers for a quick and easy lunch the next day.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 4 medium-large sweet potatoes, with skins
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Pierce sweet potatoes and rub with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees until soft-about 45 minutes. Or microwave.
  2. In a large skillet on high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until most of the water has evaporated and the broccoli is tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and set aside until the sweet potatoes are baked.
  3. When the sweet potatoes have baked, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving a shell at least 1/4 inch thick. Set the shells aside. Mash the pulp a bit and stir it into the broccoli mixture along with the feta cheese. If the stuffing has cooled, turn on the heat under the skillet and rewarm. Add water, if too crumbly.
  4. Fill the shells with the stuffing. Serve each half separately or push back together with stuffing showing between the two shells.  ENJOY!

QUESTION: How long does it usually take you to get dinner on the table on a week night? 30-45  minutes is average for me.  Unless I’m feeling lazy and decide to go the omelette route (i.e., 10 minutes. 😉 )

a bowl of comfort

Comfort comes in many shapes and sizes.

A warm hug.  A friendly hello.  A new book on a rainy day.  A phone call from a close friend.  A smile, a laugh, an ‘I love you.’

On the health front, the idea of comfort food has quickly gone out of style.  Replaced with the idea that food should not carry such emotion.  It should not have feeling.

Food and comfort do not belong in the same sentence.  So they say.

But you know what?  I say piddly wish-wash to all of that!!  I find the idea of sitting down to dinner with my parents every night, comforting.  I find the idea of eating lunch with friends, comforting.  And, obviously, the holidays are filled with warmth, good food, and comfort.

And—absolutely!—I find that sitting down to a warm bowl of summer squash and white bean saute to be absolutely comforting.

It’s okay to enjoy your food.  To enjoy your friends and family.  To enjoy the process from kitchen to table.  To find comfort in the simple preparation of a meal and to find comfort in eating until…well…comfortably full.

(It’s also okay to find comfort in downward dogs and tree poses. )

Yes.  Comfort comes in many shapes and sizes.

Summer Squash and White Bean Saute—courtesy of Eating Well Magazine

I like to serve this saute over brown rice, letting it soak up all of the delicious sauce.  But it also tastes delicious served in a wrap, if you don’t mind getting a little messy.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 15- or 19-ounce can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed (see Tip)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, summer squash, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar; increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan.

QUESTION: What does the word “comfort” mean to you?

a childhood flashback

It all started when I posted this picture over the weekend.

Childhood artwork, circa 1990’s

Normally, I can’t stand the thought of mushy spaghetti and meatballs being stored in a shelf stable can.  Really now, who had the imagination to come up with the idea of storing spaghetti in a can??  A can! Not to mention the mystery meat.

But this silly little drawing left me smiling.  It also left me in the mood for tomato smothered noodles.  And soup too.  I’m not sure if Chef Boyardee has come up with this sort of thing yet (spaghetti & meatball soup?) but this recipe from Moosewood Restaurant’s Cookbook brought me instantly back to my childhood.

You know.  In a totally delicious, non-canned, sort of way.

I like to think this is the grown up, healthified, adult version of an old childhood favorite.

Only there’s more vegetables.  No mystery meat.  Much less salt.  And a lot more flavor.

I think you’ll enjoy it. 😀

Moosewood’s Eastern European Minestrone—as seen on this website.

Minestrone soups will always leave you with countless options, and you can change the ingredients to fit your own personal taste preferences.  Broccoli would make a nice addition, as would water chestnuts, asparagus tips, and/or beets.  Use whatever your kitchen happens to have on hand, and you really can’t go wrong.

I highly recommend doubling this recipe, as it freezes well and can be used for lunches throughout the week.  Serve with a warm, crusty hunk of bread and enjoy! 😀

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • 1 cup diced  carrots
  • 3/4 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled turnips
  • 3/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 1-inch long pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  1. In a large soup pot on medium heat, cook the onions, garlic, and celery in the olive oil for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the paprika and caraway, and stir for a minute.
  2. Add the carrots, green beans, turnips and bell peppers, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the white beans, tomatoes, water, lemon juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in the pasta pieces, cover and simmer on medium heat until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the dill.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: What were some of your favorite school lunches when you were small?  Do you still enjoy them or have your tastebuds changed over the years?

Six. Point. Five.

 

I can’t even begin to tell you how worried I was about this morning’s run.  Worried. What an understatement of a word, if ever there was one.

Why, you ask?

Well.  First, there was the sharp wind, which was absolutely howling.  Blowing ladders around like little wooden sticks.  Opening screen doors and then banging them shut again and again and again.  Showing no mercy.

And then there was me, in my winter running garb and sneakers, wearing big, thick mittens and a blue wool hat.  And what felt like a lofty goal of running 6.5 miles.  A feat that I haven’t accomplished since last January before my knee injury.

Worried.  Psshh.  What an understatement.


 

And yet I was surprised at how quickly everything came together.  All the old tricks that I used to use to pull me through my long runs never really left.   You know, those self motivating pep-talks.  They work like a charm!

“Three miles to the top of this hill.  You can do that!”

“Two more miles.  That’s easy.”

“The first two miles are the toughest.  Just get through this and you’ll be fine.”

“Don’t go too fast.  Hold on to some extra steam for the last hurrah.”

And then…suddenly…the run was over.

Six. Point. Five!!

 

 

I felt so proud at the end of this run.  Six and a half (pain free!) miles may as well have been a marathon.  😀

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Post Long-Run Rituals

1. Foam Roll

Foam rolling hurt a lot (a LOT) the first few times that I did it, but it is much, much easier now.  My physical therapist had me doing this during my knee injury last year, and it really did help with my leg and knee pains.  It’s basically like having a really affordable, deep tissue massage.

Be sure to hold those painful positions for at least several seconds!  It takes me a good 20 seconds or so to bring the foam roller from right above my knee to the upper leg.

 

 

I’ve found this position to be particularly good for any IT band issues and/or knee pains.  Using your hands and leg for balance, roll yourself from right below the hip to right above the knee.  Back and forth, really slowly, stopping in any painful positions to let the massage go deeper.

 

 

2. Ice Baths.

Yes, they help with inflammation.

Yes, they’re totally painful.

If it’s just too painful, grab a bag of ice and compress any sore, tender areas for about 10-15 minutes.  That works well too.

 

 

3. Refuel.

 

 

Try to focus on getting some carbs and protein in for refueling your body after a long run.  Milk is known as the “perfect” choice because of the carb/protein balance that it has.  But really, anything that you feel like you can tolerate will do just fine.  Toast with peanut butter.  Half a banana with peanut butter.  Crackers and cheese.  A fruit smoothie.

Some people can’t imagine eating a large meal after finishing a tough workout, while others could eat their arm off in hunger (ahem, that would be me.)  Find what foods work for you and stick with it.

 

 

For dinner tonight, Dad grilled up some burgers.

Mom made a batch of whole wheat hamburger buns.

And I made the eazy peazy, balsamic glazed onions and peppers.

Delicious.

 

 

Balsamic Glazed Onions and Peppers

This is one of my favorite toppings for steaks, poultry, and hamburgers.  You could also use it in a veggie wrap, on top of a fresh garden salad, or chopped into brown rice with tofu.  Or, you could really just grab a fork and eat it as is. 😉

The important thing is to let the balsamic vinegar completely evaporate after you’ve added it.  It’s at that point, when the onions and peppers will begin to brown and caramelize, thanks to the heat of the pan.  It’s lovely, really.  And it’s also super easy.  Enjoy!

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/2 or 1 whole green bell pepper
  • handful of fresh mushrooms, sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  1. In a nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, pepper, and mushrooms.
  2. Continue cooking until peppers and onions are still firm but beginning to soften.  Add a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Enough to coat all the veggies.  Turn the heat to medium high and continue cooking until all of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Continue cooking and stirring for 1-2 more minutes, or until vegetables have caramelized.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  ENJOY!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sarah’s “Official” Half Marathon Training Plan

Week 1: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 2: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—5 miles

Week 3: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—2.5 miles

Week 4: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—6.5 miles (YIPPEE!)

Week 5: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—3 miles

Week 6: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—8 miles

Week 7:
Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—3 miles

Week 8: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—9.5 miles

Week 9:
Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 10: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—11 miles

Week 11: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 12: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—12.5 miles

Week 13: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 14: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—14 miles

Week 15: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—5 miles

Week 16: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—HALF MARATHON RACE DAY!!

 

Question: What are some ways you keep yourself motivated during a tough workout?

 

let’s try something new

 

I really don’t like change very much.

I do like to be spontaneous.  I like to explore and see new places.  I like to meet new people.  Make new friends.  But at the end of the day, I really, really don’t like change. 

My diet can attest to this fact.  I eat oatmeal more mornings than not.  My snacks predictably center around almonds, fruits, yogurt, cheese and crackers.  And when it comes to fruit, I know exactly what it is that I like. 

 

Of course, there’s another side to this story.   Because along with wanting things to stay just the way they are, I also have this unquenchable desire to saute, roast and shred as many vegetables as I can.  I guess you could say that it’s in my kitchen, where an urgent desire to keep things staying the same meets my lust for trying new things.  New vegetables. 

(In case you were wondering, the vegetables always win.)

Last week, I found myself pushing a cart through Whole Foods, a strict shopping list in hand.  I think it was about—oh, I dunno—a total of five minutes before I stuffed that crinkly list into my pocket and went to town with the vegetables.  I mean, really now.  Who says “no” to on-sale, dirt cheap, more-affordable-than-your-canned-beans, organic baby bok choy?  It would have been a shame.  An absolute crying shame.

 

 

I’ve never cooked with bok choy before.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve tasted it more than once.  But I’ve never actually welcomed the funny looking vegetable into my home.  Into my kitchen.  However, this lack of having any previous bok choy cooking experience did not deter me.  I would just keep things simple, I decided. 

Give us time to get acquainted and feel each other out.

(Besides, what vegetable doesn’t taste good with a little olive oil, a spritz of lemon and a dash of sea salt?)

Step 1: Heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat.

 

 

 Step 2:  Wash bok choy.  Pat dry.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Place in heated pan.

 

 

Step 3: Brown slightly.  Sprinkle sea salt.  Flip and cover until tender.

 

 

Step 4: Uncover.  Admire.

 

 

Step 5: Enjoy alongside your favorite meal.

 

 

Trying new things isn’t so scary after all.  It just takes a shot of confidence, a spritz or two of lemon and a drizzle of oil.

Sauteed Bok Choy

The flavors of bok choy are reminiscent of sweet asparagus and cabbage.  Mild, sweet and totally delicious.

I served this simple recipe with a veggie scramble, whole wheat toasts ‘n’ butter, and an orange.  It would also pair well with your favorite stir fry, tofu bakes, poultry, or anything else you can conjure up.  In other words, this will go with pretty much anything.  😉

Go ahead.  Try something new.

Serves 2

  • 2 small/medium baby bok choy, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh lemon juice to taste
  1. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Cut bok choy in half, lengthwise.  Add bok choy to heated pan and cook until golden brown on bottom.  Flip over, sprinkle with sea salt, spritz with lemon and cover over medium-low heat until tender, about 3-5 minutes.  ENJOY!

Question: Do you like to mix things up in your daily routine or do you like to keep things pretty much the same?

Life’s Not Always Pretty

 

Life’s not always pretty.

But it sure is delicious.

 

 

It was a very, very slow day at work today. 

In fact, it was hardly 3 o’clock when I finished seeing my last patient.  It was exactly 3 o’clock when I drove my little red car out of the lot.  And it was exactly 3:05 when I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was head straight home to face my ever growing pile of homework.  Oh me, oh my.  What a dilemna.

I toyed with going shopping, but it’s no secret that my sister and I have been going just a  teensy bit crazy with shopping lately. I think I need to hold off on any retail therapy for just a while.  I wouldn’t want the sales lady to know me by name, or anything. 😉

 

 

Besides, I think my kitchen has been resting just a little too long.  I’ve been itching to make something—anything! 

And so, with that final thought, I drove home.  I threw on my apron.  

And then I chopped an onion.

 

 

(I don’t always know where I’m going with a recipe or any given ingredient, but I’ve discovered that a scoop or two of salsa can do no wrong in most savory recipes…)

 

 

(…same goes for a spritz of lemon.  Salsa and lemon sure know how to spice up a party!)

 

 

These refried beans are a perfectly delicious option for filling a burrito or using as a dip for a dish of corn chips.

And, just as an extra bonus, this is the perfect recipe to make after a particularly stressful day.  You can chop away at an onion, smash a few beans, and make a snack (or lunch!) all in one shot. 

 

 

Life’s not always pretty.

But it sure is delicious.

 

 

Refried Beans

If you prefer a creamier refried bean, toss this mixture into your food processor and give it a whirl.  This is a delicious filling for your burrito, when paired with feta cheese, avocados, fresh tomatoes and lettuce.  Or, serve it cold with some corn chips for a protein packed, fiber rich snack.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 15-oz. can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. salsa
  • lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • pepper
  • cayenne to taste (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and cook until onions are soft and tender.
  2. Add pinto beans and reduce heat to medium low.  Continue to cook and stir occasionally, 5-6 minutes.  Add salsa, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne if using.
  3. With a potato masher, mash and stir all ingredients together.  Serve warm or cold as desired.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: If you had one day to do absolutely anything, what would you do?

to tofu, with love

I once marched around the house with a picketing sign that read “I. Hate. Tofu.” in big, bold letters, while my sister who was making a tofu lasagna, pretended not to notice. 

I took one bite of the dreaded sauce & cheese imposter.  And then I declared it the best lasagna that I had ever tasted, while my brother went off to contemplate how he might disown me.

Let it never be said that I’m afraid to speak my mind.  Or afraid to change my mind as needed, for that matter. 

 

4 

Tofu is no light topic of discussion.  In fact, I wouldn’t really recommend discussing soy or tofu at the family dinner table, unless of course you’re looking for a good debate.  Everyone feels something about the little white blocks of soy.  Everyone has something to say about it.

“Ugh, it makes me gag.”

“Oh my word, I practically live on the stuff!”

“Well.  It’s kind of complicated.”

 

2

 

The lasagna was my very first delightful encounter with tofu.  And then I decided to experiment—just a little.  Gradually crossing the boundaries from being a McDonalds loving, cheeseball consuming, soda addicted kid to *gasp* a tofu eater.  I blame that on discovering good sauces and smart preparation techniques. 

And the rest is history.

 4

3

 

(p.s. The best part of this story is when my brother—the one who was planning on how he could disown me for going to the “dark side”—became the vegetarian of the family.  Go figure!)

 

2

 

The moral of the story is (a) don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and others.  Tastebuds change.  And so do we as individuals.  If you love a juicy hamburger now and then, admit it, and don’t feel shame or guilt.  If you’d much rather not eat meat at all, and stick mostly to vegetarian fare, that’s great too.  Be yourself.  Be you!  And find what works best for your own individual needs.  A healthy diet can be formed around either of the aforementioned.  Really!

(b) Try something new!  If you’re feeling like you’re somewhere in the “it’s complicated” category of tofu, then branch out and try a new recipe.  Different techniques yield different flavors and textures.

(c) This isn’t really a moral, but—as your friend—I feel I should offer the advice of always making enough of this BBQ tofu for seconds.  It is *fabulous* as a sandwich filler. 😀 

 

1

BBQ’d Tofu

Both of these recipes stem from the Veganomicon cookbook.  I made just a few subtle changes to make the cooking process a tad bit easier, while also basing the ingredients on what I happened to have on hand (I didn’t have the called for smoke seasoning!)  The BBQ sauce makes quite a bit—about 4 cups worth.  It is incredibly easy to make, and it’s nice having the extra sauce for future sandwiches or tofu/chicken creations. 

Serve this tangy sweet tofu with rice or mashed, garlic potatoes and your favorite roasted veggie.  Enjoy! 😀

BBQ sauce:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. yellow mustard
  1. Saute onions in oil in medium pan over medium heat, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic through sugar and cook for 1 hr. over low heat.  Add mustard and adjust flavors as needed. 
  2. Puree in a food processor and store in refrigerator.

Baked Tofu with BBQ sauce:

  • 1 lb. tofu, pressed for 30 minutes (I recommend freezing the tofu ahead of time and dethawing/pressing before using…this produces a much “meatier” texture)
  • 1/2 of above recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a 9×18 inch pan, place 1/4 of the above recipe on bottom of pan.  Place tofu on top.  Cover in 1/4 more of the above recipe. 
  2. Bake for 20 minutes.  Flip.  Bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Question: Tofu Feelings?  Love?  Hate?  It’s kind of complicated?

hug a bowl of soup

I am cold, and all I want is soup.

Most of my favorite soups are the ones that will never win a beauty contest. 

Split pea soup.  Lentil soup.  Brazilian Black Bean Soup.  Creamy Mushroom Soup.  They leave me feeling more and more comforted with each delightful bight.  Happy with life in general, no matter what kind of crazy day I may have had.  Soups that are filled to the absolute brim with bright and beautiful personalities.  Warm and friendly and totally indulgent.

This creamy mushroom soup—from the latest Eating Well magazines—is one of my current favorite soups.  It’s rich, smooth and full of body.  Come to think of it, it’s a little like warming up to a bowl of savory mushroom gravy and realizing that such a guilty indulgence is actually okay.  More than okay.  That it’s actually healthy for both your mind and your body.  Really, it’s enough to make a girl sing.

Side Dish: Salad

Side Dish: Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
(made with blackstrap molasses)

There is nothing quite like hugging a bowl of creamy mushroom soup after a chilly January run. 

Life is so delicious.

Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup—as seen in Eating Well Magazine

I recommend doubling this recipe and serving it out on the chilliest of winter nights.  It pairs lovely with a rich, dark bread and a simple side salad. 

Each bowlful of this creamy soup offers you more than just flavor.  You’ll also get a healthy dose of calcium, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, fiber and protein.   Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika, preferably Hungarian
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill
  • 4 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are very soft, about 3 minutes more. Add flour, paprika and dill and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add broth, milk and potatoes; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sour cream and salt. 

Question: What are some of your favorite soups?

a bowl of broccoli soup

I went a little crazy over the broccoli in the produce isle.

 I’ve been feeling this dreadfully slow pattern of a head cold coming on over the past few days.  Yesterday, it was just a little soreness in my throat.  This morning, it was uncontrollable sneazing.  Tonight, I felt like a heavy brick that just wants to lie down and sleep.  Forever.

And when a cold is indecisively lingering, not really sure if it wants to hit me hard or just up and leave altogether, all I ever really want to eat is soup.  A hot, steaming bowl of soup.

More precisely, a hot, steaming bowl of veggie soup.  

The broccoli was on sale so I took five pounds.  It was much, much, much more than I needed—even for a double batch—so there will be plenty of broccoli both now and in my future. 

The original recipe comes from the most recent Eating Well magazine, but I made my own subtle changes to it.  Such as adding milk instead of the half and half.  And adding in some white beans to help thicken the soup, while also providing some extra protein and fiber.  And I just love how buttery white beans taste.  It was an all-around tasty addition.

Stir, stir, stir…

I’m still sneezing.  I definitely feel like sleeping.  But I have a belly full of warm broccoli soup and I’m feeling just fine.

I just hope it’s Dad who’s feeling motivated for tonight’s run, because I sure could use the pep talk… 😉

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Broccoli Soup

I fell upon this recipe in the most recent Eating Well magazine and knew instantly that I had to make it. 

The soup is very gentle.  Very delicate, with just a hint of creaminess.  If you want to up the richness factor, use part milk and part “half & half.”  Or use the milk but add a handful of sharp cheddar cheese after you’ve blended everything together, allowing it to melt into the soup.

Serve out bowls of broccoli soup with homemade croutons and a few shavings of parmesan cheese.  Or serve with a roasted veggie quesadilla.  This is an easy to make, delightful soup that will warm up any chilly winter evening.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 c. chopped broccoli
  • 4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 c. water
  • One 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. milk, warmed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the butter melts.  Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-6 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme; cook for about 10 seconds.
  2. Stir in broccoli.  Add broth and water; bring to a lively simmer over high heat.  Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook until very tender, about 8 minutes.  Add beans.
  3. Puree soup in batches in a blender.  Stir in milk, salt and pepper.  ENJOY!

Question: Do you continue to eat a lot of salads in the winter or do you switch to “warmer’ vegetables such as soups?  I’ve continued eating an abundance of salads, but I’ve been realizing more and more how much I love soups during the chillier months.  They make the perfect dinner after a long, busy day, and—really—I can’t think of a nicer way to warm up after a cold, winter run than hugging a hot bowl of soup.  😀