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Creamy White Bean Tomato Soup Is Perfect For A Fall Night

Creamy White Bean Tomato Soup Is Perfect For A Fall Night

Do you love soup?  I sure do.  More than most other foods, I think that soup often has memories attached to it: like being nursed back to health with some homemade chicken and dumpling soup prepared by my mom.  My mom’s soup somehow always did the trick. I’m not sure the soup actually healed me, but the memory of it doing so is strong.

This is not a soup from my childhood nor have I been making this soup for my family over the years, but it’s a soup with a memory attached.  This lovely soup reminds me of a mistake I made recently, proving sometimes mistakes are not all that bad. By mistake, I accidentally bought the wrong kind of beans at the store. I wanted chickpeas (for my older son who is chickpea obsessed these days) but I was rushing (as I often do) and bought navy beans instead–lots of them.

With limited pantry space available (mine is often a bit full…) I needed to figure out what to do with my many mistake beans.  I did what any other food blogger would do in a pinch, I searched “bean soup” online and scrolled my way down numerous soup posts till I found a gem.  This recipe is from the blog Love & Lemons, and it’s a keeper.  I have adapted the recipe only slightly.  (The original one can be viewed here.)  This is a great, easy-to-make (rather healthy) blended soup made with either vegetable or chicken stock to accommodate any vegetarian or vegan soup lovers.  The original recipe uses cannellini beans, a well know kidney-shaped bean from Italy. But navy beans are actually a great substitute for cannellini beans.  And with my pile of navy beans before me, I decided to make this soup.

white bean tomato soup

I have previously posted a vegan lentil soup recipe that has some similarities.  I like them both.  But the addition of cashews in this white bean tomato soup adds a lovely creaminess without the use of heavy cream.   You can omit the nuts if you wish, they are not imperative, but I suggest you try it this way once, as I think the nuts add nicely to the consistency.  The wilted spinach and whole beans add texture.  I also added crispy croutons to incorporate some crunch-factor (and because by boys love croutons), and a dash of red pepper flakes to enhance the flavor profile.  This soup is perfect for a cool Fall night or for lunch on the weekends.  It works great made ahead and reheated later as well.  A splash of water or vegetable stock during reheating can work magic, just remember to readjust the seasoning as well.

white bean tomato soup

Creamy White Bean Tomato Soup

October 18, 2017
: 4
: 20 min
: 50 min
: 1 hr 10 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • splash of white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 3/4 cups canned cannellini beans (or navy beans), divided
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • croutons, for garnish (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Step 2 Add the carrots. Continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent and the carrots begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the tomatoes. Season with more salt and pepper and continue cooking for about 8 more minutes.
  • Step 4 Add the wine, stir and let the alcohol cook off for about 1 minute. Add the cashews, and half of the white beans, the thyme sprigs, the broth and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Step 5 Turn off the heat. Remove the thyme sprigs from the pan and let cool slightly.
  • Step 6 When cool enough to handle, carefully pour the mixture into a blender, working in batches if necessary. Blend the soup and season to taste with salt, pepper. If the soup is too thick, add a little more broth or water as desired.
  • Step 7 Pour the blended soup back into the pot. Add the remaining beans and the spinach and simmer over low heat until the spinach has wilted slightly and the soup is hot, about 3 more minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Step 8 Garnish with fresh thyme and croutons.

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A Blueberry-Banana Walnut Smoothie That Will Start Your Day Off Right

A Blueberry-Banana Walnut Smoothie That Will Start Your Day Off Right

I came up with this blueberry-banana walnut smoothie with my older son in mind.  He, like me, avoids the super sweet smoothies, favoring ones like this instead. This smoothie recipe has some power to it, loaded with protein, fiber and antioxidant power.  The three key ingredients here are blueberries, banana, and walnuts–the perfect trifecta in the smoothie world, if you ask me.

Blueberries and their low-calorie Superfood classification are a go-to for me in smoothies.  Loaded with fiber, blueberries are also considered the “king” of antioxidants as they have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables–now that’s impressive!

Bananas are considered the most popular fruit on Earth.  Bananas are sweet, easy to eat, and come in their own case, eliminating the need for washing. With a fair amount of fiber, bananas are also great for digestive health.  In baking, bananas are used to help keep items moist, and they also reduce the amount of sugar, butter, oil or eggs that you need.  Bananas are also a great ingredient in smoothies to help as a natural sweetener, as well as a thickening agent so I tend to use them often.

Walnuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and a great source of protein. When people thought that all fat was bad for you, nuts got a bad reputation. But they are great in moderation, as they are dense in nutrients and provide heart-healthy fats.  Large studies have shown that eating nuts helps you live longer.  Added to a smoothie, sprinkled in a salad or a handful as a snack, nuts can be a great, healthy option. In walnuts, the combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber increases your sense of fullness–another plus to me.

Although I like smoothies on the less-sweet side–and the base of this one is unsweetened almond milk–I add a bit of sweetness with a little peanut butter, dried dates and agave.  (The sweetness profile of this drink is similar to my favorite breakfast protein shake.) I have one kid who loves this drink and one who thinks it’s just not sweet enough, so feel free to play around with the sweetness level and adjust to your tastes.  This blueberry-banana walnut smoothie is a great breakfast option, perfect for a busy Monday morning, but is truly a great go-to anytime of the day when you simply need a boost.

Blueberry-Banana Walnut Smoothie

October 15, 2017
: 1
: 10 min
:
: 10 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon chai seeds
  • 1 teaspoon agave or honey
  • 1 cup ice
Directions
  • Step 1 Place the banana, blueberries, walnuts, dates, yogurt, almond milk, peanut butter, chai seeds, agave and ice in a kitchen blender.
  • Step 2 Blend, on high, for about 20-30 seconds until all ingredients are incorporated.
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Awesome Vegan Brownies Everyone Should Try

Awesome Vegan Brownies Everyone Should Try

My thirteen-year-old niece was diagnosed with sever food allergies when she was an infant.  Allergies to dairy, eggs and peanuts is serious stuff for anyone to navigate, especially a young kid.  In doing so, one should not have to give up delicious treats, like brownies.  This is a vegan brownie recipe made with tofu and soy milk, and it is a particularly great option for anyone with a dairy or egg allergy.  This recipe was inspired by my niece, who has one heck of a sweet tooth.  I encourage everyone to try these vegan brownies, they are truly delicious, slightly more healthy and may just become a new favorite. The brownies from this recipe come out with a nice cake-like texture and a somewhat fudgy center.  Although they are rich in cocoa flavor, they are not overly sweet (another plus for me).
vegan brownies

Many people get nervous at the thought of vegan baking: how to get the right textures and tastes without the use of eggs, butter or milk.  For me, it has been a learning experience.  While experimenting, I have found numerous recipes that just don’t work.  But it is possible to make a delicious vegan brownie.  Eggs typically bind, but tofu, bananas, and apple sauce can do the same.  Milk adds moisture, but these days there are lots of non-dairy “milk” alternatives including soy, almond, and coconut milk.  Butter (fat) both binds and helps with flavor, but canola oil and coconut oil are great go-to substitutes that can withstand high baking temperatures.  For sweetener, skip the honey and use agave or maple syrup.  Sugar works and can also be vegan, but look for vegan sugar–as many granulated sugars are processed in a non-vegan way (with the use of something called bone-char).

vegan brownies

The firm tofu, mixed with soy milk and oil and then blended, replaces the egg typically seen in other traditional brownie recipes.  Because you puree the tofu, you simply can not tell it’s in there, but it works.
vegan browniesWhether you choose not to eat animal products for ethical reasons or because of allergies, there are lots of baking alternatives one can use.  Above is a great easy reference sheet I found online.  PETA’s Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet is also a fantastic recourse for substitutes.

vegan brownies

Vegan Brownies

October 13, 2017
: 15 min
: 30 min
: 45 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 ounces firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup plain soy milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar (or vegan sugar if using)
  • 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Step 2 Lightly grease a 8×8 baking pan and set aside.
  • Step 3 Using a kitchen mixer, such as a Cusinart fitted with a blade attachment, puree the tofu, soy milk, vanilla extract and oil until completely blended. Set aside.
  • Step 4 In a medium mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Mix well to incorporate.
  • Step 5 Add the tofu mixture to the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula, mix well. Note, the brownie batter will be slightly thick, this is completely normal.
  • Step 6 Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and smooth out the top.
  • Step 7 Bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Step 8 Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting.
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