Saturday, October 27, 2012

Carrot Soup with Garam Masala

One of 4 bowls filled with carrots
This soup was inspired by two things.  First, I finished the rest of the pink banana squash for my lunch today and was sad that it was the last of it. (Though I froze some for a treat this winter.)  I had added garam masala, an Indian spice mix, to the squash and tossed it with the left-over tofu I made yesterday with a marinade of tamari(soy sauce), ginger, curry, and garlic.  Delicious combination. So garam masala was on my brain as I looked at the heap of carrots harvested from Tom's garden yesterday.    Hmmm,,,,carrots and garam masala.......

If you aren't familiar with garam masala,  it is a common spice blend from India and Pakistan, and usually consists of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, and black peppercorns.  It is generally a mild, sweet seasoning, but can be spicier, depending on how much black pepper is used, which is the type I had in my cupboard.  

A quick look on-line for pureed carrot soup recipes yielded one that included garam masala at the blog of Three Many Cooks. But it also used olive oil, butter, and whole milk, so I adapted it to fit my dietary needs.  Rather than adding milk or cream at the end, I swirled in plain goat yogurt and found that it was the perfect compliment to the flavors. You could use any type of plain yogurt that you enjoy.  I made only a half-batch of the soup, as I often do when creating something new, but was sorry that I hadn't made a whole batch because I will quickly deplete what remains!  

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 lbs carrots, cut into approximate 1" slices (about 5 cups)    
2 teaspoons sugar
3 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
2 Tablespoons garam masala (If you are unaccustomed with this spice, you might want to use less.)
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste (I didn't add either)

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large deep saute pan. Add carrots and then onions; saute, stirring very little at first and more frequently at the end, until vegetables start to turn golden brown, 7 - 8 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add sugar and garlic; continue to cook until all vegetables are a rich caramel color, about 10 minutes longer.  Add garam masala; continue to saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute more.

Simmering carrots with garam masala
 Add broth; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce to low and simmer, partially covered until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Puree in a VitaMix or with an immersion stick.  Ladle into small bowls, and swirl in some plain yogurt.  I used goat yogurt from my friend, Christal, and it was just the right amount to tame the garam masala.  I also added a very tiny sprinkle of ground hazelnuts.  The nutritional analysis doesn't include the yogurt or the nuts.

Soup without the yogurt

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 4
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 156
Total Fat: 7 g                                              
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 153 mg
Total Carbs: 21 g
Dietary Fiber: 5
Protein: 3 g

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gingered Kale Soup

The kale falafel flopped. Does this sound like the start of a Dr. Seuss story?  Nope, it was the tale of my day yesterday.  I had found a recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Kale Falafel on Diana Dyer's blog,   365 Days of Kale .  I thought it was definitely worth a try, because I love kale and the recipe pureed the ingredients before forming them into patties, so I was hopeful it would work for me. In making them, I made only a half batch so thought the ingredients could be processed in my Magic Bullet.  Nope..too small.  So I moved it to the VitaMix.  Nope. Not enough liquid.  So I moved it to my early 1980's food processor.  Just right.  (Now it sounds like the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears!) Then the patties stuck to the parchment paper when they were baking, probably because I omitted the coating of sesame seeds.  So I took them out and tried frying them in coconut oil. That helped the process, but they were ugly at best.  Taste was ok, but not as good as I had hoped.  Oh gads......I still had to clean the Magic Bullet, the VitaMix and the food processor I had used, in addition to the the two pans, and the mixing bowl.  I am sure Diana Dyer's Baked Sweet Potato Kale Falafel's were delicious, and I had done something wrong.   If anyone wants to give them a try, here is the link to her recipe for her Baked Sweet Potato Kale Falafel and let me know how you did. Interestingly, I found myself munching on them today.  I think the day of melding the flavors improved their taste, and they provided a much healthier alternative to munching on the brownies I made for Sam who is coming for dinner tonight.

While I was tasting the kale falafel last night, I commented that I wished I had made a kale soup instead.  So that's what I made for tonight.  It's a combination of several other "green soup" recipes I had done and this one turned out superb.  Pzazz after all!  While many of my "green soups" look similar, the taste differences make each one distinct and keep me coming back for more. 

And yes, kale is still available in Tom's garden!   The photo at the top of this post is of the kale harvested on Monday morning.  Beautiful, isn't it! I like Diana Dyer's description of kale as a terrific cancer "phyter" because it is power-packed with phyto-chemicals that promote general good health and have been linked to cancer reduction.   While I don't think I meet her goal of eating at least 1 - 2 servings daily of foods from this power packed family, I certainly aim for one.  I concur with her that this improves my chances of long-term cancer survivorship and I would like to think that this has helped me live for 14 years since first diagnosed with a 14cm pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in 1998.  Now that is Poweful Pzazz!!!!

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium red garnet yam, peeled and cubed
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cups chopped kale
1 small leek, white part only, thoroughly washed and chopped
2 -3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 - 3 Tablespoons grated ginger
About 1 cup water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat coconut oil in pan and add the chopped onion with the salt.  Cook over low heat, stirring several times, until the onions are nicely caramelized, which takes at least 20 minutes, but is well worth the time.
While the onions are cooking, wash the kale and take any tough stems off, and chop coarsely.  Set aside.  Put the garnet yam and the whole garlic cloves in a soup pot with the vegetable broth, and cook until almost tender. Add the kale, leek, ginger and enough water to cover the contents by about 1".  Simmer until the kale is tender.  Add a few grinds of black pepper.  Puree contents in a VitaMix or blender.  

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 3
Serving Size: Generous 1 cup                
Calories: 146
Total Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0  mg
Sodium: 360 mg
Total Carbs: 26 g
Dietary Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 5 g

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Squash Bisque

Winter Squash Bisque

 15 lb. Pink Banana Squash from Tom's garden
This remarkably large Pink Banana winter squash from Tom's garden was substituted for the butternut squash in this soup recipe from my friend, Regis.  When I served the soup for myself at dinner last night with Tom, Dan and his friend, they asked for a taste, and then asked for a bowl of it for themselves.  Yes, this soup is one that has appeal to anyone who likes winter squash soup.  Tom added a drizzle of Half-n-Half and a few pine nuts to their soup bowls, while I reveled in it just as it was.  Today for lunch I added a swirl of kefir and finely ground pecans to dress it up for this photo. Hearty soups made with winter squash are the hallmark of autumn for me. The addition of a bosc pear and apple to this soup make it just different enough to give a new Pzazz to my array of fall squash soups.  

Pink Banana squash is a variety of winter squash that tastes similar to butternut squash. It is an earthy, dense, flavor-filled squash.  Similar to the butternut squash, it has a very thin skin, so if you purchase it in the store, it is an economical choice as opposed to the types of winter squash that have a thick skin that can't be eaten, yet you pay for it by weight.  But most importantly, butternut and pink banana varieties of winter squash that won't disappoint in taste and will keep in a cool place for weeks while I create more ways to use them.  

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
Seeded center of Pink Banana Squash
1 cup finely chopped onion
2# butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
(2# squash= about 3 cups peeled, cubed)
2 medium bosc pears, peeled, cored and cubed
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored,
  &  cubed
4 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1 Tablespoon finely grated gingerroot
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 (14 1/2 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup apple juice
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1.  In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and saute 10 minutes.
2.  Add the squash cubes, pears, apple, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, grated ginger, cumin, curry powder, cayenne broth, apple juice, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
3.  Let cool slightly.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked solids with a little of the broth to a blender or VitaMix.  Puree until very smooth and add the rest of the soup and puree all until very creamy texture is achieved.
4.  Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the pepper.  Heat through.  

Nutrition per serving:
Squash patch in early summer
Servings per recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup                                        
Calories: 121
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 95 mg
Total Carbs: 27 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 2 g

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apple Squash Soup

Apple Squash Soup

This is a tale of two winter squash plants.  They cross-pollinated and created one very large and very delicious squash.  It weighed 14.5 pounds! 

Mystery Winter Squash

Tom really isn't sure what varieties of squash cross-pollinated, but it is likely a cross of one variety from Japan and one from New Zealand.  He had ordered several heirloom varieties of squash seeds and started them in the greenhouse, then planted them in late May in our garden. But that great start came to an abrupt end when a neighbor dog dug up most of the plants. The dog's life nearly came to an abrupt end that day too when Tom discovered the damage.  But true to gardener spirit, his persistence prevailed and he salvaged and replanted what he could.  But he was unable to identify each squash variety, and thought that it wouldn't matter since he would be able to identify the squash it produced.  But this huge squash does not look like any of the varieties he planted and we can only surmise that two plants cross-pollinated because they were in such close proximity.  So we were a bit skeptical about how it would taste.  Ah....surprises can be so joyous!  Tom cut it into several wedges to roast in the oven and we reveled at the bright orange flesh. And when it was tender after about an hour in the oven, we sampled a bit and our taste buds exploded with rich, sweet wondrous squash! PZAZZ!   Having large amounts of delicious cooked squash ready to use in a variety of ways is a definite time saver.  I even like to put it into my egg-white omelets.   Winter squash is a dream food for those of us with diabetes because a full cup of cooked squash is only 18 grams of carbohydrates and is remarkably filling.

Squash wedges ready to roast in the oven

While I can enjoy soft squash just as it is with just a bit of sea salt, I also delight in a hearty squash soup.   This one was an impromptu creation inspired by several recipes I had seen in magazines recently, as well as a desire to use up onions, carrots, and apples harvested by Tom. This is one I will definitely make frequently.  Squash is full of vitamins A and C and a healthy dose of fiber, making this soup a nutritious and delicious lunch. I like to add just a dash of cayenne pepper to many of my soup creations.  Be sure to add just enough to add a little bit of Pzazz, but not so much that you overwhelm the other earthy tastes.     

2 teaspoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cups cooked, mashed winter squash
2/3 cup shredded apple
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
dash of cayenne pepper

Heat the oil in a large soup pot.  Saute onions and carrots in the oil until softened, about 5 - 7 minutes.  Add the apple and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and cooked squash. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, making sure the carrots are fully cooked. You may need to add more broth if the carrots take longer to cook.  Transfer to a VitaMix and puree until creamy.  Add cayenne pepper carefully, a little bit at a time, to desired taste.  Or just sprinkle a bit on top of the soup in the serving bowl.

Nutrition: (using coconut oil)                            
Squash coming out of the oven
Servings per recipe: 3
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 135
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                                        
Sodium: 160 mg
Total Carbs: 27 g
Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 2 g

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lemon Ginger Applesauce

Tom's apple tree is glorious in appearance and in bounty!  This single tree yielded a bushel of apples.  Yes, they have a bit of a scaly looking peel, and don't look nearly as perfect as the ones in the local market, but the taste far surpasses anything I could purchase.  And I am confident that no pesticides have been sprayed on the apples. So last weekend midst the snow flurries and gale winds of 49 mph, Tom harvested the rest of the apples that he hadn't harvested earlier in the week.  

So, if you have been wondering why there haven't been any new posts lately, take a look at the photo below of my kitchen table filled with garden produce and you can imagine what I have been doing - peeling apples, making applesauce, roasting or stewing tomatoes, making kale and Swiss chard soups, dicing leeks and onions, cutting and roasting squash, labeling and freezing containers to pull out in the middle of the winter. 

Do you see the giant squash at the back left corner of the table? Expect to see that pink banana winter squash again soon on this blog, as well as another mutant squash child that Tom raised.  Unfortunately, something ate the blossoms of many of the winter squash, so we didn't get as much as usual so bought some other winter squash at the Duluth Farmers Market last week.  The butternut squash in the photo is one we purchased there.  

Garden produce 

I made lemon-ginger applesauce last year, adapting an idea I had seen in a magazine.  I loved taking it out of the freezer in the middle of winter and savoring the splendors of fall once again, and determined that I would certainly make it again this year. I peeled and shredded the apples to create a uniformly cooked sauce.  The addition of lemon-ginger tea-infused water to the applesauce eliminated the need for any other type of sweetener.  Definite Pzazz!

4 cups shredded apples (peeled first)
3/4 cup boiling water
2 - 3 lemon-ginger tea bags (I used Stash brand)

Steep the lemon-ginger tea in the boiling water.  Put the lemon-ginger tea water and the shredded apples into a sauce pan and cook over low heat until the apples are entirely soft.  You may need to add a bit more water as the apples cook to ensure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan, or if you like a thinner consistency. This applesauce freezes incredibly well and is delightful if warmed to eat it in the middle of the winter!

Servings per recipe: 4
Serving Size: 1/2 cup                              
Calories: 65
Total Fat: 0 g                                            
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 0  mg
Total Carbs: 17 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 0 g