Monthly Archives: February 2013

Lentil Vegetable Soup

2013-01 lentil veggie soupI have really been enjoying soup lately. With the cold temperatures outside and frequent snowfall, it’s nice to know that a fresh, hot cup of soup can be ready in minutes. Soup is a great way to incorporate a variety of vegetables into a meal, and by adding lentils it is hearty enough for an appetizer or a whole meal. An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences late last year finds evidence that humans evolved with larger brains because they cooked their food, which allowed more energy and nutrients to be absorbed in their bodies. It sounds like eating homemade soup is both tasty and a smart thing to do.

I wanted to try making a lentil soup, since you do not have to spend time soaking or peeling lentils – just rinse and add to the soup. This is a time saver over dried beans. I found an online recipe for Chunky Vegetable-Lentil Soup from Better Homes and Gardens, and made a few modifications to remove the onion and boost the number of veggies. I added peapods to my soup, and in my next batch I added spinach, which both worked well and added to the flavor. This soup tastes even better on the second day once the vegetables have a chance to meld. When reheating, you may choose to add another cup of water because the lentils, over time, will soak up moisture and the soup will thicken.

I hope you enjoy this delicious soup.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 pound whole small mushrooms, sliced
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 stalks celery, chopped
3/4 cup favorite vegetable (such as peapods or spinach) – optional
4 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth (I like Pacific mushroom broth)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook for 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in lentils; cook and stir 1 minute.

Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, any other favorite vegetable, water, vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Pumpkin Muffins

snowHi everyone! I hope that you are having a good weekend. Mine has been snowy. SensitiveHusband and I got out the tape measure yesterday and noted that there was three feet of frozen precipitation on the ground…and on the sidewalks…and in the roads…and on our cars. This picture shows our two cars under mounds of snow. Yes, they really are under there!

So SensitiveHusband and I made a deal – he would shovel and I would bake. I know I got the better end of the deal, for sure! I decided to try my hand at a muffin. I don’t make them very often, and I thought that would be a nice snack whenever SensitiveHusband felt like taking a break from his snowy project. I found a nice recipe from Dr. Oz for Pumpkin Muffins that already called for a natural sweetener (I used maple syrup) and did not use any butter or dairy. The recipe was made moist by the pumpkin and applesauce. I reduced the amount of maple syrup used and substituted some of the whole wheat flour with oat flour (for lighter texture and lower gluten).

pumpkin muffinsAs soon as the muffins came out of the oven, SensitiveHusband was back in the house to warm up with a cup of tea and fresh muffin. We both agreed that they were delicious and that the other neighbors shoveling would probably enjoy them too. After my snack I suited up in a parka and boots, with a plate of warm muffins in hand so my neighbors could have a pick-me-up while moving all of that snow. These muffins use only two bowls to prepare, and are neighborhood approved.

The recipe below will yield approximately 15 muffins. If you want to use the whole can of pumpkin, double the recipe and give the extras to your neighbors.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the maple syrup, oil, eggs, pumpkin puree, and applesauce. Add in the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until the dry ingredients have been absorbed. Place in muffin tins and bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Freshly Squeezed Orange Oatmeal Cookies

2013-01 orangesGreetings from sunny Florida! That’s what the box on the gift of oranges read. This gift has been excellent and came at the perfect time – while SensitiveHusband and I wait for the next snowstorm, we have been able to enjoy really fresh, juicy, delicious navel oranges!

According to the Florida Department of Citrus, the Florida varieties that are currently in season include Temple Oranges, Honey Tangerines, Red Grapefruit, Pink Grapefruit, White Seedless Grapefruit, and Juice Oranges. Since the rainfall in Florida has been lighter than usual this year, the crop is estimated to be 142 million boxes, which is almost 5 million boxes fewer than the 2011-2012 season. According to Florida Citrus Mutual, the Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employs almost 76,000 people, and covers about 550,000 acres.

2013-01 orange juicerLast weekend I decided to get a little creative by figuring out how to bake with an orange. I took inspiration from a recipe for Orange Oatmeal Cookies and made a number of ingredient swaps and substitutions to remove the butter, cane sugar, cream of tartar (since I didn’t have any on hand), and reduce the gluten (although these could be made gluten free if you prefer by swapping the whole wheat flour out and replacing with brown rice or millet flour). I also enjoyed using my great-grand-aunt’s green juicer, shown above. I pictured her laughing and smiling while I juiced the orange and made the cookie dough. The result was a hearty and perky cookie that is delicious at any time of the day…even as a mid-morning snack! Whether you are enjoying a day at the beach or watching the snow fall (I am in the latter camp today), these cookies use ingredients that are easily obtained year-round.

2013-01 orange oatmeal cookiesFreshly-Squeezed Orange Oatmeal Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg white, beaten until foamy
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large naval orange, zested and juiced
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together canola oil and maple syrup in a large bowl. Stir egg white and applesauce into mixture. Stir in orange juice with pulp and orange zest.

Mix flours, oats, (optional) walnuts, baking powder, and cinnamon in a separate bowl; fold into the large bowl of wet ingredients until evenly incorporated.

Drop by heaping tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven until bottom of cookies are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

I am sharing my recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.