Light, Lemony and Healthy Asparagus Soup (no cream)!

I obsess over eating soup in the winter. Its comforting, warming and I love using different vegetable combinations to make them special. Usually I lean towards the root and winter vegetable soups, butternut squash, carrot ginger, kale and bean, but I really wanted something lighter and Springier. We have one more year until our own asparagus starts sprouting up so I picked up an organic variety at whole foods for this batch.

This soup gave me everything I was craving. It's silky, savory, lemony and bright! The asparagus tips gives you a bit of crunchy texture that you desire in a soup this creamy. The recipe makes enough for 4- 6 people but the 2 of us ate the whole pot in one sitting... oops. At least its guilt free! This soup could be made vegan if you eliminate the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or sub in nutritional yeast. Feel free to enjoy with some crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 6 cups organic veggie broth (I like Better than Boullion)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from 2 freshly squeezed lemons
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Handful of fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Melt the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, cut the tips off of the asparagus spears and set aside. Cut the remaining spears into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Add the chopped asparagus (except for the tips) to the pot, along with the broth, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes until tender-crisp. Drain and put tips in an ice bath. Set aside.
  5. Purée the soup in your blender (Vitamix preffered to get it really silky).  Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the thyme, lemon juice and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optinal). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if desired (you may need up to a teaspoon more salt).
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls, then top each bowl with asparagus tips, more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper if desired.

A Winter Kale Salad

We all love kale, right?

The hearty green we can enjoy all year round and incorporate to every meal ( depending on just HOW much you love it...like me) giving us loads of Vitamin K, potassium, iron and niacin (aiding our circulation in these colder months). I was attending a potluck this weekend and looking for a more wintery take on my favorite salad when I came across the PERFECT ONE.

Because the kale is baked in this salad, it creates a great texture of crispy kale chip meets a warm wilted braised green. The creamy dressing and smokey tempeh bacon make this salad a hearty one, unworthy of just being a side dish. This is not vegan, as it has pecorino romano in it, but that can be ommited with the addition of nutritional yeast. There were other kale salads at the potluck - 3 others to be exact - but none with the same wintery notes as this one. Hope you all enjoy it!

A Winter Kale Salad

Salad ingredients

  • large bunch of kale (plus olive oil, salt & pepper for drizzling)
  • 2-3 chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or any nut you like)
  • soy-balsamic tempeh bites

Dressing ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus some zest
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • a good grating of pecorino or parmesan cheese plus some for the top of the salad (if vegan, just omit cheese, or add a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast)
  • water to thin, as needed
  • a few pinches of red pepper flakes

Soy-balsamic tempeh:

full disclosure - I just bought fakin bacon tempeh and it was perfect.

  • 1/2 package tempeh, sliced into 1/4″ thick strips
  • olive oil
  • splash of soy sauce
  • splash of balsamic
  • drizzle of honey
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Start dressing. In a small bowl measure out your olive oil, lemon juice, zest, honey, salt & pepper. Smash and mince your garlic well. Set aside while you work on the other components.
  3. Drizzle whole kale leaves with olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread into a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes or until the edges are crispy and the centers are wilted. Remove from oven, let cool to room temp. Stack the leaves and chop them, removing the more coarse parts of the stems. Set aside.
  4. Start the tempeh. Heat oil in a small skillet. When your pan is hot, add the tempeh. Cook on both sides for a few minutes until they start to brown. Then add a splash of soy sauce, balsamic. Flip around to coat all sides. Add a drizzle of honey and cook a few minutes longer until the sugar and vinegar caramelizes a bit on the edges of the tempeh. (This got real sticky in my pan and some of the sugar burned, but that slight char ends up tasting really good). Remove from heat and chop into bit size pieces.
  5. Back to your dressing.  Whisk in tahini, cheese or nutritional yeast, water if necessary to thin it, and a few red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. More lemon for tartness, more cheese to mellow it out if it’s too tart for you… etc.
  6. Toss kale leaves with (some) of the dressing, add as much or little as you like, to taste. Add scallions, cherries, parsley, and tempeh pieces and toss again. Plate and garnish with pine nuts & more grated cheese.

adapted from Love and Lemons

Birthday zucchini bread

There are too many zucchini...again. I've souped, I've sauteed, I've even juiced them. Still when they come in, they come with allll their friends! It's as though one day you see the blossom and think, 'oh boy zucchinis are on the way!' Then 1 week later they are filling up every fridge and countertop within a 5 mile radius. But we can't hate on them, they are one of the BEST vegetables to have on hand. For instance, it was my honey's birthday and I made him the absolute best cake (errrr bread) using one of these fresh zuchs. Good thing the recipe makes 2 loaves because he polished a whole one off in a day!

Want to know what makes this the best bread ever? It has dark chocolate in it and it feels like a secret surprise.  I also add cherries (fresh when in season, dried when out of season) or respberries, blueberries, whatever! It's the moistest most delicious bread of the season.

Zucchini Bread with Dark Chocolate and Cherries

Dry ingredients:

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  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 1 cup organic Turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chunked
  • 1 cup of dried cherries (or fresh cherries pitted if in season)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil 2 9x4 inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the 9x4 loaf pans. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.

A Summer Panzanella

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! We wait all year for the for sweet, juicy enticing harvest and once the time arrives we have them coming out of our ears. Well if you are over making sauces, juices, ketchups and caprese salads, try this one on for size. Its a fresh, filling and an incredibly good potluck choice. The crusty, garlicky bread soaks up all the bright flavors of a late summer tomato harvest and who can resist the smell of a basil medley? Because this recipe is so simple, freshest ingredients work best here. Golden Jubilees are low acidity and a pretty color so I use them with heirlooms for a striking color palette.

Llama Mama Panzanella

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  • 4-5 good sized fresh tomatoes - Golden Jubiless and German Heirlooms
  • Big handful of fresh basil and thai basil
  • Day old baguette or italian bread
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 container of small mozzerella balls (optional for vegans)
  • olive oil
  • Himalayan salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  1. Cut the bread in half lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill (preferred) until the bread is nicely seared on both sides or bake in the oven until its nice and toasted.
  2. Let cool for a few minutes then peel and rub the whole cloves of garlic on the bread until the garlic is gone. Cut the bread into big chunks and set aside.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into chunks and chiffonade the basil.
  4. Throw the tomatoes, basil and mozz. balls into a large bowl.
  5. If serving right away, add the chunks of bread and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. If not serving immediately, keep the bread separated and add before serving.
  6. Toss everything together and enjoy the flavors of summer.



Zucchini Soup (recipe) and why you should eat it

It's that time of year! The squash, they are abundant, and it's a good thing too! Zucchini contains loads of Vitamin A, C, and K which is good for your bones, limits cell damage, and contains a good source of beta-carotene. There is also a good amount of Maganese in here which helps promote calcium absorption.

Coincidence that this super veggie grows in abundance this time of year? Nature's way of prepping us for colder months ahead by boosting our immune system. Not to mention,  it's pretty darn yummy. This soup is super clean, easy to make and you will be surprised as to how incredibly delicious it is. Even those who don't like curry have raved to me about this.  Make a lot and freeze some for the winter!

Zucchini soup with Curry

  • 5 large zucchini
  • 1 onion
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of curry
  • 1 tablespoon of Tumeric
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Himalayan salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 quart of veggie broth
  1. Cut up the onion and zucchini up into medium sized chunks. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot and saute the onion until its translucent. Add the curry.
  2. Throw the zucchini in and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the zucchini is tender and then add the broth.
  3. Let this cook for about 10-15 minutes on low heat with the lid on.
  4. Turn off the heat and spoon 3/4 of the soup into your Vitamix or blender. Blend until the soup is silky smooth. Pour back into the pot and stir with the unblended soup.
  5. Serve and enjoy your veggies!