2016-No Excuses

A few weeks back I was incredibly touched to hear someone I have never met reads my blog. I originally started this blog for me, but have come to love the ability to connect with other like-minded souls through this online space. That connection is why I continue to keep this up, despite the business of life. For a while I was silent,  but I have come to terms with the fact that no one  is dictating the rules…. that it is  perfectly acceptable to write every few months….that something is better than nothing…that even if only one person is getting something out of this blog then the effort is worth it. Yoga helps me see clearly that life is not about rigidity but fluidity. Even if I only have 15 minutes to come to the mat and do a few sun salutations , something is better than nothing . I am aiming for balance, not rigid rules.

It’s no secret to my close friends and family that I am busy, that I have little time to check in with friends and be proactive.

But that’s not a valid excuse…for anything.

Everyone is busy.

We make time for what matters most.

In 2016 my resolution was to make time for what matters and cut out the noise.

Health matters. Family matters. Marriage matters. Time with friends matters. Keeping a roof over our heads matters. Doing what we love matters. Giving back matters.

Worrying about things…feeling overwhelmed and trying to do everything well all the time….not only is it not possible, but it is a waste of valuable, precious time that could be spent helping myself and others around me grow and learn.

Therefore, I am posting the first recipe of 2016 as a healing, no excuses recipe that anyone can make.

If you have 15 minutes you CAN make this and you CAN take charge of your health. This is a power-packed meal, but also rather decadent and special because of the homemade croutons.

Check out these green ingredients!

gazpacho ingredientsThis soup is best served cold or room temperature and a good  choice for one of those Savannah-winter -70- degree- days.

Cheers to 2016 and a healthier you!

Green gazpacho

Serves 5
Prep time 10 minutes
Allergy Tree Nuts
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Soup
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
This no-cooking-needed green soup can be made in a flash and will leave you feeling refreshed and healthy from the inside out.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cucumbers , peeled, medium
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1/2 baguette(split into 2 parts)
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 6 cups fresh spinach (or 1, 16 oz bag frozen)
  • 1 cup basil(or cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • greek yogurt
  • 2-3 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Note

This soup can easily be made gluten free by substituting the bread with a peeled baked potato and leaving out the croutons.

Directions

Step 1
Lightly toast the walnuts on a sheet pan and let cool.
Step 2
Roughly chop the peppers and cucumbers and garlic so that they are easier to drop into the blender.
Croutons:
Step 3
Chop 1/4 of a baguette into cubes. Toss with 2 T of olive oil, 1/4 t of salt and 1/4 t pepper in a plastic bag. Roast cubes at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until toasted. Let cool and store for up to 1 week in pantry.
Step 4
Blend all vegetables and walnuts , 1/4 baguette, vinegar and honey until smooth. Add in yogurt , olive oil and and cold water and salt and pepper. Add cold water to desired consistency.
Step 5
Serve cool with toasted croutons on top.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s End Zucchini Corn Soup

It simply cannot be, summer nearly over. I am slightly sad, yet  slightly anxious for the fall foods to start appearing in the markets. I will surely miss soups like this: light, creamy, healthy, and fresh.

This is summer in a bowl.

I can’t remember a soup I have enjoyed so much. I can feel my body thanking me for all the superfoods every time I eat it.

Enjoy summer while you can.

This soup may take little while in the kitchen but it is plenty to eat on all week, hot or cold or room temperature.!

 

Zucchini-Corn Soup

Between the new job and raising a little kitten, it is meals like this I keep returning to, so I can cook less and enjoy time more.

Uni

Uni

 

 

Zucchini Corn Soup

Serves 10
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 25 minutes
Meal type Soup
Misc Pre-preparable
Region Thai
This creamy Thai Zucchini Corn Soup is light, healthy, and refreshing any time of year!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ears fresh corn (kernels sliced off the cobs)
  • 1 quarter-sized piece of ginger (grated)
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice plus half a lime
  • 6 cups water
  • 10-12 basil leaves
  • 2 large scallions
  • 4 cobs of corn (kernels chopped off the cob)
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5lb zucchini
  • 3/4 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro

Directions

Step 1
In a large saucepan, combine 2 T of lime juice,a half a lime, water,and ginger. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 2
Toss in the basil, turn off the burner. and let it steep for 10 additional minutes. Menawhile toss the chopped scallions into a cold bowl of water and stir around to remove all dirt. Drain and set the scallion pieces aside.
Step 3
Strain the warm stock through a sieve and set aside the aromatics, keeping the liquid broth for the soup.
Step 4
In a wide soup pot melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chopped scallions to the oil and cook until they are wilting, around 5 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini, 2/3 of the fresh corn kernels,1 tsp salt, and enough of the liquid stock to cover the vegetables.
Step 5
Bring the soup to a light boil and lower the temperature to a simmer. Let simmer 15 minutes.
Step 6
Let the soup come to room temperature(around 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to release steam). (This will preserve bright green color of cilantro one you add it in.) Add the cilantro leaves and puree the soup either using an immersion blender or your food processor. Stir in coconut milk and 2 Tablespoons lime juice. Serve warm with a few pieces of fresh corn kernels on top.

Farmer’s Market Friday: Simple Squash Soup

Vegetable gardens make me happy. I love getting my hands into the dirt and face close to the ground to investigate what is going on down there. If I look closely and sit very quietly next to a plant for a few minutes, I can see the garden  teeming with life,: wasps, bees, worms, birds, and every once in a while an unwelcome caterpillar. It’ s amazing to me that they all work in such harmony.

our garden

So far our organic and companion planting methods have worked well and the all of the plants except the squash seem happy. I have managed to harvest a few squash, but discovered we have squash vine borers. I awoke this morning after so much rain to see the squash looks even worse than the picture below and most of our plants had to be pulled up. You can see the base of the vine is where the larvae breaks in and destroys it, causing the leaves and stems to wilt and die. . What a pain! Oh, well. Check out some of  the other plants sprouting and flowering!

yellow squash

lettuce

eggplant

 

cucumber

marigolds

 

cherry tomato

 

 

So how do you grow an organic garden without being  invaded by pests?

Pests are inevitable. Prevention is key. Now that we know we will have squash vinve borer problems, we will have to pay closer attention  to prevent the larvae from being hatched!

 1) Companion planting-Try planting beans with cucumbers, basil with tomatoes, chives with peas, peppers  near eggplant, etc. You can read a great article on companion planting from Mother Earth News  HERE.

2) Marigolds everywhere! I plant 2 or 3 different marigold varieties.

3) Keep birds busy with a birdfeeder nearby. Otherwise they may try to eat all of your pretty tomatoes.

4) Attract bees and beneficial insects with other beneficial plants-I planted bee balm and salvia throughout the garden to attract beneficial insects.

5) Prevent squash borers with row covers. Cover the young plants with a very light row cover until they begin to flower. Then uncover them so they can be pollinated. This will prevent moths from laying eggs on the plants. This is a lesson learned for us this year.

5) Keep a garden journal and map out what you planted, how many plants, and where they are situated in the garden. Track how much produce you are getting, how often you fertilize and water, etc. This way you can look back and see what you did right or wrong if pests invade!

I transformed the 5 or 6 squash we harvested into a delicious soup. My mom made me an incredible squash soup last year around this time and I asked her for the recipe. I am not sure where this recipe came from, but it is my get -rid of -copious-amounts-of-squash-recipe.

Simple, refreshing and fast, this soup is the epitome of an easy, summer meal.

I don’t think you can screw up this soup. You can add more cream or any kind of fresh herb to your liking. Just make sure to use yellow summer squash.

In Love and Health,

Lydia

Summer Squash Soup

Serves 6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Meal type Soup
This creamy summer squash soup is a cinch to make with only a few ingredients and 10 minutes of your time!

Ingredients

  • 1 vidalia onion (chopped)
  • 2-3lb yellow squash (sliced thinly)
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1
Chop vidalia onion. Saute in butter for 5-8 minutes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Meanwhile boil chicken stock. Drop in the chopped squash into the stock and cook 4-5 minutes.
Step 2
Puree the squash, chicken stock, and onion in a food processor until smooth. Add back to the soup pot, and stir in the half and half. Serve warm garnished with chives.

 

Sweet Potato Roasted Pepper Soup

You can tell a great deal about a person by what lies in the depths of their refrigerator.You know you do it, snoop through someone’s refrigerator while visiting.

The “empty-fridge person”? That just blows my mind. How do manage to eat out 3 meals per day? And never snack?

Then there is the beer-only fridge…I won’t name any names since some of my former roommates may or may not read my blog.

The there is my mother-in -law’s fridge, that perfect fridge. You know….the one that is bright white and all the tupperwares match and are perfectly stacked by size. The vegetables are in the crisper where they are supposed to be the foods are labeled and dated. The sauces look nice and tidy in the fridge door, nary a drip or drop anywhere to be seen around the caps.

And then.

You have my fridge.

About once I week I find myself cursing as I reach into the back trying to find that darned piece of ginger wrapped in foil and my hand hits something sticky. The soy sauce spilled back there somewhere. My dog is sticking his face in there trying to lick it up, amidst the small stacks of leftovers haphazardly packaged in foil and plastic wrap. You can see  an  open-air bowl of noodles my husband placed on the top shelf with no cover on it. Random piles of vegetables are placed haphazardly on every space available. Even though I clean it out every 2 weeks, it looks as if it hasn’t been organized in months.

I’m just that messy apparently.

I dislike wasting good food. Sometimes it’s a struggle to use up all the fresh veggies we have in the fridge before they go bad, so I survey the fridge as the end  of the week nears and use past-due foods  in the best way I know how: a soup! Whatever doesn’t make it into the soup goes to chickens as long as it is not moldy.

I made this soup with leftover sweet potatoes and a bag of peppers that was about to bite the dust.  This has to be one of the easiest soup recipes I have made to date.

sweet potato red pepper soup

Roast the veggies, dump in the pot, puree.

Done.

A clean recipe that will get you into swimsuit-ready shape.

Top with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), feta, or sliced avocado and a side of crusty bread .

 

In other news, the Barred Rock ladies are officially hitting puberty.

 

Barred Rock Chicks in November

Barred Rock Chicks November 2012

 

grown barred rock hen

Barred Rock Hen April 2013

Our first tiny brown egg appeared in the coop yesterday after 4.5 months of waiting. It’s entirely too cute to eat. Don’t you agree?

The first  2 tiny brown eggs.

The first 2 tiny brown eggs.

 

 

 

Roasted Sweet Potato Red Pepper Soup

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
This low calorie and flavorful roasted sweet potato red pepper soup is the perfect fast weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups red bellpepper (chopped)
  • 2.5 cups peeled sweet potato (cubed)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 5 cups no salt added chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/8 t salt and toss well. Place mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Step 2
In a soup pot or large saucepan, combine the roasted veggies,chicken broth and another 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Place half of the mixture in a blender. Cover blender with a towel and puree. Repeat with remaining veggies in the pot until mixture is smooth. Top with rosemary, feta cheese or pumpkin seeds. Serve,

 

 

 

Peanut Chicken Stew

Have you jumped on the peanut train yet? Well, clearly I have because I am posting a second peanut recipe , and I still have another jar to use up. Peanut butter protein balls perhaps next?

My husband began calling this Peanut Chicken Stew “crack” stew because neither one of us could walk by the pot without hovering over it, swiping spoonfuls before and after dinner.

It is that good. I have been dreaming about this stew  since we finished it one week ago. This is really special. It makes you feel good, so good, that I made it again today to pair with homemade bread and friends!

peanut chicken stew

When you read the recipe, you are going to jump out of your  chair and proclaim I am crazy for putting together the strange mix of ingredients….I jumped out of my chair the first time I saw peanut butter, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, rotisserie chicken,coconut milk, turmeric, brown rice, fresh herbs and other healing spices mixed together.

The, I tried it because I was curious, and I am  now a peanut-stew-convert.

On another note, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in almost 2 weeks.Life over here has looked like this-

work. cook. eat. sand. repeat. paint. cook. eat .repeat.paint. repeat. clean.repeat. think about starting the garden. paint.

Our dining room is now painted, and we are working on the impossible task of the kitchen, which entails removing 50 year old wallpaper, sanding with my purple swimcap on to protect my  hair , balancing on a 15 foot tall ladder at a 60 degree angle, and finding dust bombs from the sanding on every surface. Today we painted trim. Ick.

I am looking forward to the part where I have a glass of wine and marvel at the newly painted  walls.

Until then, I’ll be eating this peanut stew while the weather is still cold, and  enjoying this cream sauce without the cream from Eating Well. I used it to make a killer healthy macaroni and cheese  last week and in homemade tomato soup.  Alas,  the healthy  mac n’ cheese was downed before I could photograph it. Food blogger photography problems….the subject disappears quickly.

 

To Your Health,

Lydia

Peanut Chicken Stew

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Peanuts
Meal type Main Dish, Soup
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
This peanut chicken stew , filled flavorful ingredients and superfoods, is the perfect cold-weather healthy meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 roasted bell pepper (chopped finely)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1.5 teaspoons grated coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dark chili powder
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 16 oz can plum tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 rib rotiserie chicken, meat removed and chopped
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Note

You can puree this stew before adding in the coconut milk , peanut butter, and chicken and rice for a smooth and creamy soup.  Then warm it up, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and serve. I prefer the chunky stew though.

Sriracha is a delicious hot sauce, but you can substitute tobasco is you have no sriracha on hand.

 

Directions

Step 1
Saute the onion in the oil on medium-high heat until it is translucent. The add in the spices, garlic,and ginger and saute 2 more minutes.
Step 2
Add the chicken broth, grated carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, sriracha, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer with the top on for at least 45 minutes.
Step 3
Stir in the coconut milk and peanut butter and whisk until combined.
Step 4
Stir in the roasted chicken and cook another 2 -3 minutes on medium high until the chicken is hot. Garnish with fresh chives or cilantro.
Step 5
Serve atop the cooked brown rice in a bowl and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.