Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tangy Fage-Cranberry Dessert

Before I knew that Caleb and Kiara were bringing a pureed cranberry relish that I could eat for Thanksgiving, I had already purchased a can of organic jellied cranberry sauce at the Whole Foods Coop.  So, now my creative juices started flowing once again as I thought about how I could use this jellied cranberry sauce.  Upon sampling it, I realized how sweet it was and my taste buds were confirmed in their suspicions as I looked at the nutritional information on the can.  A quarter cup contained 26 grams of carbohydrates.  So my challenge was to think what I could mix with it to lessen the sweet taste and carbohydrate content. My immediate idea was to combine it with Fage (pronounced FA-yeh)Yogurt, which I always have in the refrigerator. I learned about this type of yogurt a few years ago in a diabetes magazine, where it was promoted as a good choice for people with diabetes because it has a higher protein content than most Greek yogurts.  In fact, one cup of Fage Nonfat Yogurt contains 9 grams of carbohydrates and 23 grams of protein.  And it contains five strains of live active probiotic cultures, which are helpful for both digestion and immune function.  I often use this as a healthy substitute for sour cream and as a base for dips, spreads, or as a garnish for cold soups.   It proved to be a winner once again when combined with the
tangy-sweet cranberries.

Now, I'm dreaming of other ways to use the jellied cranberry sauce.  Maybe combined with a savory red lentil soup, or would it work with squash?  Stay tuned for my next culinary creation. 

4 Tablespoons  (1/4 cup) Fage Nonfat Yogurt
1 Tablespoon jellied cranberry sauce  (I used a brand called Organic Grown Right)

Stir together the yogurt and the cranberry sauce, reserving a small portion of the sauce for a garnish.

Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon
Calories: 58
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 30 mg
Total Carbs: 9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0
Protein: 6 g

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cardamom-Ricotta Squash

I have more leftover food than leftover energy today.  So I made something really easy and yet tasty.  Cooked squash mixed with ricotta cheese spiced with cardamom created a delectable and healthy vegetable dish.  Our son, Caleb, who shares my love of cooking, is the one who told me that cardamom and ricotta are good companions.  A friend had given Tom several Sweet Dumpling winter squash, which was a new variety for both Tom and me.  We were delighted with its sweet, dry, nutty flavor, and glad to find the seed in the 2012 Pinetree Garden Seed catalog that arrived a couple of weeks ago so we can plant some next year.  I had cooked some of this squash for Thanksgiving and had a bit left.  I have mixed winter squash with ricotta and cardamom before, and used it as filling in egg-white crepes.  I didn't have the energy to make crepes today, so just scrambled some egg whites for protein and had a cracker to go with it.  Maybe another day I will make the crepes and post that for you to see.  It really looks lovely.   

3/4 cup mashed/pureed cooked winter squash
1/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
Sprinkle of freshly ground cardamom, to desired taste

Thoroughly mix the squash and ricotta cheese. Add freshly ground cardamom and stir.  Serve as a vegetable side dish, or use it as a filling in crepes. 

Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 142
Total Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 19 mg
Sodium:  81 mg
Total Carbs: 18 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 8 g

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweet and Savory Vegetable Soup

Sometimes I just can't stop myself.  I was watching the Today show last Monday and watched Chef Giada DeLaurentiis make Sweet and Savory Vegetable Dressing.  As she was adding apples, leeks and allspice to the already sauteed squash, carrots, and parsnips, I could nearly smell it through the television screen.  Then I thought of the large bag of carrots and about 10 leeks and  a few squash we still had from what Tom had harvested from our garden.  Voila!  I could use her combination of vegetables and spices to make another soup for my Thanksgiving meal.   This is creative cooking at its best, in my mind.  The resulting soup had a brand new combination of sweet and savory tastes, and topped with crumbled goat cheese, it was out of this world!   With the loss of varied textures and appearance in my restricted diet, new flavor combinations are heralded!  Today, I warmed up this soup for lunch and reveled in its great flavor once again. 

 For Giada's orginal recipe: 

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 14 - 16 oz. butternut squash, halved, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
12 ounces medium carrots (about 4), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
8 ounces medium parsnips (about 3) peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, cleaned (white and green parts only) (about 2 medium size leeks)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes  (about 2 cups)
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground allspice  (I grated fresh allspice, so I used about 1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Grated zest from 1 large lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled, for garnish

Garden leeks

Heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the squash, carrots and parsnips to the skillet and saute until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.  Add the apples and leeks to the same skillet and saute until the leeks are slightly softened, about 5 - 6 minutes.  Stir in lemon zest and allspice.  Add the vegetable broth and simmer till the vegetables are tender.  You may need to add a bit more broth to keep the vegetables covered with liquid while simmering.  Cool slightly and then puree with an immersion stick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with small bits of the goat cheese and a sprinkle of freshly grated allspice or nutmeg.  Be thankful!


Garden Carrots

Servings per recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 181

Total Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 7 mg
Sodium:  217 mg 
Total Carbs:  25 g

Dietary Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 4 g

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Ginger Soup

In addition to the soup recipe that I posted a couple of days ago for Thanksgiving, I also made this spicy pumpkin soup.  I have no idea where this recipe originated.  Last week, as I was cleaning out my 3-ring binder of "recipes to try", I discovered this recipe on a printed piece of paper, but without a source notation.   Anyway, I  couldn't resist adding it to my Thanksgiving menu.  Garnished with a dollop of yogurt and freshly grated nutmeg, it was a big hit with several family members at our Thanksgiving meal.  

My family does an outstanding job of making me feel as "normal" as possible by at least trying my pureed soups, and then exclaiming how delicious they taste.  Ah...I am truly thankful for my family.  My husband, Tom, did all of the preparation of the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and other family members brought the side dishes. My son, Caleb, and his wife, Kiara, brought a cranberry relish that they had pulverized very finely so I could tolerate it, in addition to scalloped corn, andoulle sausage dressing,  and homemade sourdough bread.  My son Dan works at the Wedge Whole Foods Co-op in Mpls and he brought maple glazed sweet potatoes and green beans almondine, and my friend Tahirih brought a vibrantly fresh green salad.  While I couldn't eat those side dishes, the lack was more than compensated for by the abundance of love surrounding me.   

Today, I warmed my soup for lunch and served it with a crisp cracker and some finely chopped/ground turkey.   Who doesn't love the leftovers just as much as....if not more than...Thanksgiving dinner!  

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small potato, peeled, boiled and cubed
1 1/2 Tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne), or to taste
  (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
2 15-oz. cans solid-pack pumpkin
3 cups water
4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth   
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Dollop of plain non-fat yogurt
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over moderate heat and add onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, ginger and cooked potato cubes; continue cooking for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add spices and puree in a blender or food processor with a little of the broth and return to the soup pot.

Add pumpkin, water, broth and coconut milk, stirring to combine and simmer gently, uncovered, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.  Reheat when ready to serve.  Squeeze some lemon juice into the soup and ladle into bowls.  Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and freshly grated nutmeg.

Nutrition:  (Does not include the dollop of yogurt for garnish)
Servings per recipe: 12
Serving Size: Approx. 1 cup
Calories: 141
Total Fat: 10 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 62 mg
Total Carbs: 14 g
Dietary Fiber: 3
Protein: 1 g

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup and Thankfulness

I remember my first Thanksgiving after my surgery in September 1998 to remove a 14cm pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor.  While I was incredibly thankful to be alive, I was daunted and discouraged by what I could no longer eat.  I tried to hide my tears as I stared at the bountiful feast set before me.   Now, 13 Thanksgiving feasts later, I can happily say that I have developed a bounty of recipes that meet my needs.  This is a soup that I have made for a few years now and I save it just for Thanksgiving so I have something special that I don't ordinarily have.  I still have moments ...ok..I'll be honest ....sometimes days.....when I lament my dietary restrictions.  Then, I remind myself of the millions of people throughout the world who daily subsist on meager amounts of food or who don't have clean water.  This "reality check" with the larger view of the world beacons me to focus on what I do have, rather than what I don't have, and calls me to share my bounty with others.  So, I share this recipe with you, and wish you a hearty helping of thankfulness.  


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup (1/2 inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
Drizzle of plain kefir as a garnish

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion, saute 3 minutes.  Stir in curry powder, cumin, nutmeg and garlic; saute 1 minute.  Add sweet potato, broth, and pumpkin; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, cool 10 minutes.  Puree soup in a blender in batches or with an immersion stick in the pot. Stir in the lime juice and ladle into bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of plain kefir.
Servings per recipe: 5                              
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 113
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: mg                                      
Sodium: 66 mg
Total Carbs: 19 g
Dietary Fiber:4
Protein: 4

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sweet Potato-Coconut Soup

This is another excellent recipe from Rebecca Katz's cookbook, One Bite At a Time.  I modified it slightly by using vegetable broth rather than using her recipe for Magic Mineral Broth.  I have made her Magic Mineral Broth in the past and it was fabulous, but my time and energy constraints led me to use vegetable broth instead for this recipe.   Also, I used lemongrass paste rather than a stalk of lemongrass, since it was what I had available.   I made just a half-batch, which is what is listed below.  What I liked most about the soup was the hint of ginger and lemongrass, and the creamy texture created by the use of coconut milk. 

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
2 (1-inch) pieces fresh ginger
1 shallot bulb, halved and bruised
1/2 teaspoon zest of a lime
1 Tablespoon lemongrass paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon shredded unsweetened coconut, for garnish

In a large stock pot, bring the broth, coconut milk, ginger, shallots, lime zest, lemongrass and salt to a slow boil over medium heat.  Let the ingredients infuse their flavor into the liquid for about 20 minutes.  Decrease the heat to low and continue to let the broth develop for another 30 - 40 minutes. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon.  Add the sweet potatoes and turn the heat  back up to medium.  Cook the sweet potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.

Puree in a blender or with an immersion stick. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with lime juice, and garnish with the coconut. 

Servings per recipe: 6                    
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 102                                   
Total Fat: 1 g                            
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 171 mg
Total Carbs: 12 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 1 g

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oops....for previous post

A friend just looked at my recipe for the Butternut Apple Soup with Ginger that I posted a couple of days ago and asked how many apples are used in the recipe.  Yikes..I looked at it and realized I had omitted to list the "1 large tart apple, seeded and cubed" in the list of ingredients.  I just finished correcting the recipe. 
Just for your information, I used a Granny Smith apple for my soup. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Potato Leek Soup

One Bite At A Time - Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends by Rebecca Katz is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks!  All of her recipes are nourishing and immune boosting and oh ---those photographs of so many recipes makes me want to cook nonstop!  Unfortunately, I can't eat many of her tasty recipes, but the approach she uses for flavor combinations and her vast knowledge of nutrition has been inspiring for me.  Many of her soup recipes are pureed, so I have tried most of them and this one is definitely one of my favorites.  Using yukon gold potatoes and leeks from my husband's garden, this soup was voted a "keeper" by my husband, Tom, and my 18-year old son, Sam.  The recipe gave directions for roasting a head of garlic, which I had never done before, but was convinced of its merit as the aroma permeated the kitchen.  It was definitely worth the time.  One day I added some pureed kale that I had in the freezer to a portion of this soup and oooolala.  Yummy.  Nutritious.  Digestible! is full of Pzazz!

Yukon Golds and Russet Potatoes from Tom's garden

1 head garlic
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds medium  Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or a pinch of dried rosemary
1 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 leeks, white part only, chopped
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Cut the top off the head of garlic and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.  Wrap the garlic in a square of parchment paper and then in a slightly larger piece of aluminum foil.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until soft and golden.  The aroma will tell you when it's ready.  Remove from the oven to cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Toss the potatoes with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper and rosemary.  Spread on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.  Transfer to a bowl and mash by hand.  Set aside.

While the potatoes are roasting, in a 6 - 8 quart pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and leeks, decrease the heat, and saute until both the leeks and the onions are golden.  Add the roasted garlic by squeezing it from its skin and saute for 30 seconds.  Deglaze the pot with 1 cup of the broth.  Once the liquid evaporates, add 7 cups of the stock and simmer for 25 minutes.

In a blender or using an immersion stick blender, puree the potatoes and broth until smooth.  Return the soup to the pot and taste; you may need to add a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon.  If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more broth or water.  To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a pinch of nutmeg.

Servings per recipe: 10

Kale can be added to this soup too!

Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 137
Total Fat:  0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 275 mg
Total Carbs: 29 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 5 g

Friday, November 11, 2011

Butternut Apple Soup with Ginger

The original recipe for this soup was one I found in a sale brochure from the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op.  I omitted the cream and it was still delicious.  The hint of apple taste combined with sage was delectable.  It was delightfully easy to make, as well.

Have I ever mentioned how shopping at the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op makes me feel nourished, healthy, wholesome, peaceful, zany, vivacious....ALIVE!   Those days when I have a bad case of the crankies....I try to get to the Co-op.  It cures me almost instantly....until I get home and long for the same aromas, the same "natural" feeling, the same sense of well-being.   Ah.....what else do I need to get at the Co-op?   When can I go again?  Here's the link:    Hope to see you there!  Did I tell you that my husband and I were one of the original "cooperative member/owners" of the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op, when the building was off the beaten path and remarkably small and contained primarily locally grown produce and we volunteered our time as part of our membership? My first exposure to a whole foods cooperative was while I worked in a small community in southern WI and traveled to Madison many weekends to explore the farmers market around the capital square, and the many alternative whole foods stores.   Great memories!  Now....back to the soup......I ate it with a slice of sourdough bread and some smoked whitefish that someone gave to my husband, Tom.  The fish was soft enough for me to digest easily and was a fine compliment to the soup. 

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 large tart apple, seeded and cubed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper to taste (not included in nutritional analysis)

In a large stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic and ginger until soft.  Add the squash, apple, sage and broth and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for about 20 minutes until the squash is very soft.   Remove from heat, and using a stick blender or regular blender, puree the soup.  Season with salt and pepper.

Simmering ingredients for the soup

Servings per recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 106
Total Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 41 mg
Total Carbs: 18 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 2 g

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Favorite Green Soup

I was looking at the recipes I have posted thus far and realized that I had omitted this very basic and favorite soup in my repertoire.  Use whatever types of greens you have available.   When I wasn't feeling well at the beginning of September, a gracious friend, Tracy, harvested  the Swiss chard, typhon greens and kale from my husband's abundant vegetable garden, then made large batches of this soup and froze it for me. What a gift to be able to go to the freezer and pull out this soup whenever I don't have the energy to make something nourishing for myself.  

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed           
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
7 cups chopped fresh spinach
(or other greens such as kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, collards, etc)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Saute onion in oil.  Add potatoes and the water.  Cook until potatoes are tender.  Add greens and the chicken broth, salt and pepper and simmer until tender.  Puree.  

Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size: Approx. 1 cup
Calories: 97
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Sodium:  543 mg (this used regular chicken broth, not low-sodium)
Total Carbs:  16 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 4 g