Saturday, February 26, 2011

Root Veggie Soup & Catching up

Hi, everyone!

Again I've been MIA. First I had the flu (horrible!) in early January, then we just moved to a new place much closer to the beach and where I work (hooray!) We've been quite busy so far in 2011! I hope it's been treating all of you well.

The real reason for my post is this delicious root veggie soup I made last night. At my acupuncturist's suggestion, I decided to make a root veggie soup. Root veggies are especially good for my constitution, and warming spices can be as well. Anyway, I'm really happy with how it turned out! I totally improvised it, though I did take some tips from a local bakery/eatery called Azucar (by using coconut milk as part of the base). Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

Warming Spiced Root Veggie Soup
(serves a crowd, this one will make a whole Dutch oven's worth)
Note: Try to get the chunks semi-uniform so they cook evenly :)
1 small butternut squash peeled & chopped
4 small yukon gold potatoes chopped
1 rutabaga peeled & chopped
1 turnip peeled & chopped
1 large (or two small-medium) yam peeled & chopped
1 medium sweet potato (these are lighter in color than yams & have cream flesh) peeled & chopped
2 carrots peeled & chopped
1 large sweet onion diced
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 bouillon cubes (I used Rapunzel brand salt-free)
1 15oz can light coconut milk (you could use regular, I bet it would be thicker if you did)
3-4 tsp Vindaloo seasoning or use to taste (I use the one from
1 tsp cinnamon or use to taste
salt & black pepper to taste

Gather all ingredients & prep them. Once you have all the root veggies chopped & are working on the onion, begin to heat 2 tbsp of butter or oil in a 6qt Dutch oven (or similar-sized soup pot). Once the butter or oil begins to bubble, add the diced onion & a bit of salt (I added a pinch or two of celery salt at this step, may have added something, but probably not necessary). Cook until the onions are becoming translucent. Add all the root veggies & enough water to just barely cover the veggies (the pot should be fairly full at this point) plus 2 bouillon cubes (you could go ahead and prep them w/ hot water early, but I find this step to be unnecessary). Allow the water & all the veggies to come to a boil (stirring occasionally), then turn down & let them simmer until they can be easily broken apart with a wooden spoon (or are falling apart). Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender, but really everyone should own an immersion blender, they're so useful!) puree the veggies together until all chunks are gone. Afterward, pour in the coconut milk and blend to combine. Season to taste with all the spices listed (it's better to season after the soup is done to avoid over- or under-seasoning), and enjoy! I loved this soup with SQUAW bread from Charlie's Best Breads (local to San Diego), but any dark/semi-sweet bread would be nice. Grafton smoked cheddar cheese was another fantastic pair with the bread & soup.

It's been raining all weekend here in San Diego, and I'm so ready to see the sun again! Plus, it's really cold (relatively). The dogs are not fans of the rain, either. Luckily we were able to get them over to the dog beach on Friday at dusk just before the rain started. They loved running around and having the whole place to themselves. :)

Hope to be posting again soon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maple Walnut Butternut Squash Bread

I love pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash etc. All squash, pretty much. Of all the squashes, I find that butternut is one of the most versatile (a close runner-up to pumpkin). I love pretty much anything butternut squash (except this soup I had the other day, note to self: don't mix vanilla with butternut squash, it tastes strange!)

Anyway, I found this recipe through the website Tastespotting (one of my favorite sites because of all the gorgeous food pictures) and HAD to try it. It combines a lot of my favorite ingredients, plus it's pretty healthy (especially the way I made it). You can find the original recipe here and look below for my take! It's not a savory bread, but more of a sweet bread. However, it isn't TOO sweet, and doesn't use any refined sugar! It would make a nice breakfast bread, or a healthy dessert.

Vegan Maple Walnut Butternut Squash Bread
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran (instead of flax, since I don't use flax)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
A few pinches of sea salt
1 heaping tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ground, if you must)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Ener-G egg substitute mix for 2 eggs (or 2 [hopefully organic & free-range] eggs if you aren't vegan)
1 cup butternut squash puree (I used canned organic)
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted (I don't have walnut oil, so I used this instead)
3/4 cup maple syrup (I had to augment a bit with some agave because I ran out of maple syrup)
1 tsp good vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped freshly toasted walnuts (I toast them in a cast iron pan for a few minutes on med-high)

Mix all the dry ingredients (minus the walnuts) together with a whisk in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate larger bowl, add all the wet ingredients and mix well (I whisked them for about 2 minutes fairly vigorously). When the wet ingredients are well incorporated, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts, and pour the mix into a lightly greased loaf pan (I just used evoo spray to grease the pan). Bake at 325 degrees for about 65 minutes (it took me almost that long, I kept checking because I don't trust our oven at all), then let cool in the pan a bit before turning on to a rack to cool.

Changes I'd make next time? Definitely MORE nutmeg. I often will add a lot of extra spice to baked goods because I rarely find them spicy enough. I didn't use enough nutmeg, and I will next time. Nutmeg is perfect with butternut squash (ever had butternut squash ravioli with nutmeg and sage? Pretty incredible stuff...) and it really needed more in the bread. However, it still tastes great, and reminds me a lot of the taste of pumpkin pie.

What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast bread recipes? I love making baked goods for in the morning that are super healthy and delicious, and I'd love to hear your ideas! :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Granola, the quintessential hippie food

I had never made granola before tonight, which might be surprising to some of you (I know it was to me!) Now, I can't believe I ever pay for the stuff! It's super easy to make, and you can combine some of the most awesome ingredients. I went pretty tame with my first batch, and I used, to some extent, this recipe. It turned out delicious. It's also super healthy, and vegan! Here's how I tweaked the recipe:

Organic Vegan Cinnamon Maple Pear Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup rolled kamut (has more protein than oats, and is crunchier)
1 cup raw almonds
A few pinches of sea salt
1 tbsp chia seeds (high in omega 3s & no phytoestrogen weirdness, hooray!)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dry shredded coconut (NOT sweetened!)
1/2 tbsp ceylon "true" cinnamon (I love cinnamon, so I use a lot, adjust as you like it)

Mix the above together, then (in a separate bowl) mix together 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or you could use brown rice syrup, agave or honey), and 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (warmed if solid). Pour the wet mixture over the dry, and stir it all up.

Spread onto one fairly large baking sheet (12x17 is what I used) and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven & stir the granola well, then bake another 10ish minutes. Be sure to watch the granola during the last 10 minutes as it can burn easily! Mine "toasted" a bit, and while it's still tasty, I'm sure it could have used slightly less time in the oven.

Once the granola is out of the oven, carefully remove from pan and place into a pyrex (or similar) container for storage, then stir in 2/3 cup chopped dried bartlett pears (chop them to small bits).

I think my next granola might be a coconut, mango and cashew granola sweetened with agave. I also have plans for a fig, sesame and pistachio granola sweetened with honey. Yum! I'll post those recipes once I've worked them through. :)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A way-too-late post + delicious dinner

Hi, everyone!

So sorry I haven't blogged in FOREVER. Things have been pretty crazy around here... We went out of town at the end of October, and spent a week in Rhode Island and New York City. We got to eat at some delicious vegan and vegetarian restaurants, though, and it was such a great experience to go to as many neat sites as possible in RI and NYC while we were there. Check out my Yelp reviews for details on where and what we ate, and what we did on our trip. :)

However, this post would not be complete without some recipes of what I made tonight! Unfortunately there aren't any pictures, I haven't been quite "in it" enough lately to cook, much less take pictures. Sorry! The next time I make something fabulous I'll be sure to document it in pictures.

Anyway, for dinner tonight, I'd been really wanting to try this lentil soup recipe from 101 Cookbooks that I've had bookmarked for some time. That site is very inspirational to me, and I'm grateful that my mom's friend Pam introduced me to the site awhile ago. The recipe was for "Lively Up Yourself" lentil soup, and I honestly had no idea what to expect when I made it. The end result was delicious, warming, and perfect for a "chilly" fall evening in San Diego.

Here's the link to the recipe: Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup
It's great on its own, however the saffron yogurt REALLY adds a nice touch. I was very pleased with how it all turned out. I followed the recipe to a t, except for using non-fat Greek yogurt instead of 2% (higher protein in the non-fat, it turns out, so I opted for that).

This soup was great with stoned wheat crackers from Trader Joe's, but would also be great just on its own or with whole wheat toast of some kind (or nice crusty bread, yum!)

Dessert was a total spur of the moment decision. I wasn't even going to make anything, but Jon was complaining about the apartment being cold, so I figured if I turned on the oven to bake, that would warm it up a bit (and it did!) I decided to use this recipe: Pumpkin Apple Strudel Muffins that I've actually made before, but I tweaked it SO much, that I'm going to post my new "original" recipe on this page. Basically, I veganized it, made it healthier, and didn't add the strudel on top. The end result was really tasty, lightly sweet, and fairly dense (which I really like). These will make excellent breakfast muffins, too.

Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Apple Muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups whole spelt flour
(you could also just do 2.5 cups of ww pastry flour if you don't have spelt flour)
1 cup of maple syrup (I used grade B)
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or just ground nutmeg if you don't grate your own)
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh puree, but I'm not that ambitious)
Ener-G Egg replacer [soy free!] (follow the directions on the package) or 2 eggs
2 cups finely chopped, peeled apple chunks

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and all the spices. Whisk together until well incorporated. In a separate smaller bowl, mix the prepared egg replacer (or two eggs), 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or canola oil if you don't have coconut), maple syrup and pumpkin puree. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the apple chunks.

In a 350 degree oven, bake the muffins in a lightly greased (or lined with muffin cups) muffin tin for 25-35 minutes, testing for doneness (it took my oven 25 minutes, and the recipe says 30-35... our oven is wonky). Let the muffins cool a bit before trying to get them out of the pan... Mine slid right out without any hassle after 10 minutes or so. :) Enjoy!

Let me know if you try either of these recipes, and how you like them!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Favorite Dip: Hummus

So, what do you all think of hummus? Some of you might think it's totally boring, doesn't taste good, etc. I know others of you like it a lot. I, for one, am addicted to the stuff! And I can't say that I've ever found it boring, especially after discovering that so many ingredients can go in to hummus to make it unique and different. The local co-op that Jon and I are involved with always makes the most interesting flavors (currently I love their sun-dried tomato and artichoke hummus), and they've prompted me to come up with a few combinations of my own. Hummus is super easy to make at home, especially if you have a food processor (or a blender), and it's inexpensive and healthful! It also tastes great on whole wheat bread or pitas, brown rice cakes, veggies (carrots, celery, jicama, etc.) and as a spread on sandwiches (in place of mayo or other less-healthy choices).

Here are a few ideas to get you started! But definitely explore and don't be afraid to try new combinations. You never know what you might like! 

Hummus Ideas:
1. Roasted Garlic Hummus: Basic hummus recipe (garbanzo beans, tahini, a bit of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper) with roasted garlic added to the mix.This is pretty typical, but you can add as much garlic as you want if you make it at home! Roasted garlic is super easy to make. Here is an online tutorial.

2. Chipotle and Cilantro Hummus: Basic hummus recipe (you could sub black beans for garbanzos, though!) adding one chipotle chile plus a bit of adobo (if you like it spicy, add more to taste) and cilantro. You could top it with cilantro to serve, too.

3. Caprese hummus: Garbanzo beans, Roma tomatoes (fresh chopped, or maybe canned would work), basil, extra virgin olive oil and a bit of goat cheese (because it blends better than mozzarella). You could drizzle balsamic over the top before serving for extra flavor! You could easily substitute cannellini beans for garbanzos, too.

4. Spinach and Artichoke Hummus: Basic hummus recipe with fresh cooked (or jarred) artichoke hearts and steamed (or raw) spinach.

5. Caramelized Onion Hummus: Basic hummus recipe (adjust some of the ingredients to taste, if you like) with added caramelized onions. It's pretty easy to caramelize onions, and SUPER delicious. Here is an online tutorial. This idea is based on a cannellini bean and caramelized onion dip I made that was great! I recommend making dips out of other beans, too. Though, for the sake of this post I'm only touching on hummus.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: Basic hummus recipe adding in jarred roasted red peppers. You can always roast your own red peppers, too, I just think the jarred ones are less expensive. Typically, red bells are one of the most expensive produce items around here!

What are some of your favorite hummus combinations? :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

EatingEco Begins

Hi, all!

After months of preparation, and weeks of thought, I finally came up with a blog name I feel is appropriate. EatingEco.

So, what does that mean, exactly? I suppose it depends on your beliefs.

For my husband and I, part of EatingEco means not eating meat. We've been vegetarian for almost a year now, and it's done so much for our health and outlook on life. I could go on and on, but I'll spare you the details (unless you want them, then feel free to contact me!) EatingEco also means buying locally grown produce and other goods (which is easy when you live in San Diego, but can be done anywhere), eating seasonally (checking web resources to see what is in season), buying organic and buying with a conscience (we buy from our local organic food co-op and/or farmer's markets for the most part).

All of that can seem daunting, I know. We spent the better part of a year trying to work out all the kinks. Though now that we have, it seems pretty simple. I hope to help all of you reach that point, too!

Besides food stuff, this blog will likely cover things such as our dogs and dog rescue (we have two rescued miniature dachshunds), our yoga practice, San Diego (where we live), eco friendly products and tips, acupuncture (since I work at a community acupuncture clinic and am fascinated by it), and other holistic living topics.

Anyway, I will be updating with actual recipes, tips, tricks, etc. soon, but I just wanted to say "hello" and that I appreciate and applaud all of you who try to help out the planet as much as you can.

Cheers :)