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Magnificent Minestrone

30 Jan

IMG_3989Jim and I met many years ago when I had just graduated from nursing school and he was a fourth year resident.  When we both started getting paychecks and had a few extra dollars, we used to go to Lelli’s Restaurant in downtown Detroit for special occasions.  Their minestrone soup was the best we’d ever had….chunky and creamy and so delicious! (The picture above was taken day 2 and when it was cold, so it looks more like a stew.  It tastes so much better than this picture looks.  Photography is still not my forte!)

When my sister-in-law made minestrone soup for a family occasion, it was equally delicious, so of course I asked for the recipe. Would you believe that the recipe was for the famous “Lelli’s Minestrone Soup”?  Thank you universe!

I’ve made this soup a number of times now and it has become a much loved regular in our home, (meaning at least 2 bowls each, and for my husband, maybe three……and that’s just the first night). It’s great because the needed ingredients are staples. I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed canned tomatoes and beans.  So no extra shopping necessary!

I’ve made some changes….the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter…I use just one teaspoon of olive oil and to be honest, you could get away with using none at all.  The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I subbed in the Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken broth base.  This is my favorite brand of broth.  It comes in vegetable and mushroom flavors also. The original recipe also called for parmesan cheese and skim milk.  I’ve completed eliminated the milk, as the soup gets creamy with the blending of the beans, potatoes and broth.  Instead of the dairy parmesan, I’ve sprinkled the top of my serving with Go Veggie dairy free parmesan. Leave it out and let people add it if they wish.

I’ve made this recipe with different amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes as well as varying amounts and types of herbs.  I think the combination I put together last night was the best so far!

Minestrone Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup broth

3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)

3 carrots, chopped

3 medium yukon potatoes, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil

4 cups No Chicken bouillon

1 14 ounce can cannelini beans, with juice

1 14 ounce garbanzo beans, with juice

3/4-1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 teaspoon basil (can use fresh, to taste)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1/3-1/2 cup small whole wheat macaroni-elbow, etc.

Saute onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in broth and oil until softened.  Add tomatoes, rest of broth, beans, herbs and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Blend some of the soup into creaminess using an immersion  blender.  Alternatively, take out 1/2 of the mixture and blend in a standing blender and return to the pot.  Add pasta and bring back to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender.  Flavors continue to improve as they meld together.

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Powie! Pesto Pasta

4 Sep

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I have my garden in pots on my deck this year which is wonderful because I take better care of them when I see them all the time!  I have dino kale and curly kale, fennel, collards, swiss chard, parsley, basil, dill, oregano, three kinds of cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.  My basil plants were calling out to me “eat me, eat me, can’t you see I’m ready?”  Which only means one thing to me…..PESTO!  In previous years, I have always run out of basil before the growing season is over.  This year I made sure to plant plenty, which as it turns out is 8 plants.  I haven’t run out yet!  I’m leaving on a three week trip mid-month so I think I may need to make more pesto to freeze before I leave.  Can’t let delicious fresh basil go to waste!

I’ve been using this kind of brown-rice pasta lately and I’m loving it!  I added some lightly steamed broccoli on top and I had a gorgeous green meal.

Note to self:  Although you like to use the whole recipe on a pound of spaghetti, your sweet husband likes less pesto on his pasta  (more for me!).

This recipe is based on an oil-free vegan pesto you can find here.  I tweaked it ever so gently.

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil (go ahead and pack it in!)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 medium lemon

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/3 cup water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Process until smooth and season with sea salt and pepper as desired.

Beautiful Emerald Green Juice

5 Oct

I feel my diet is pretty healthy. After all, I don’t eat any animals or animal products!  Yet, there is always room for improvement.   I’ve decided to kick my health up another notch by changing a few things.  Best of all, I’ve been starting my days with beautiful and tasty, emerald-green juice!  Yum!  My daily mix is made from 5-6 leaves of Dino kale, 5-6 leaves of romaine, 1 cucumber, 4 celery stalks, a 2-3 inch piece of ginger and 1-2 pears or apples.  I might add a broccoli stalk if I have it.  Trust me, it’s so good.

I waited a long time before I splurged for a juicer.  I wanted to be sure that I was committed to using it on a regular basis and not have it be an expensive counter decoration.  This is the one I bought on a recommendation from Kris Carr.  I love it!  I haven’t yet convinced my husband to try more than a tiny sip although I still have hope.  What is it about green juice that makes people cringe?  I guess that used to be me also, before I actually tasted it.  I thought it was going to taste bitter, like liquid greens.  Perhaps if I didn’t add the ginger and the apples it might be bitter and I might be holding my nose, too!  This stuff is so good, though, that my 19 and 22 year old daughters will drink it, and trust me, their diet is not always very healthy!

So, why am I doing this?  Check out these posts for a thorough discussion.

This is what Kris Carr says: “Chlorophyll contains a powerful blood builder that’s said to increase red blood cells, improve circulation, ease inflammation, oxygenate the body, and counteract harmful free radicals. By eating (and drinking) a diet high in chlorophyll (raw fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens), we dine on liquid oxygen, the very substance we need to stay alive and thrive”.

It’s true and I’m feeling it.  I’m more energetic, vibrant and clear headed.  I never would have thought 5 years ago that today I would be vegan and drinking green juice every day.  Just confirms the idea that we just don’t know the future even though we may be absolutely convinced we do.

Try the juice.  Trust me. You won’t have to hold your nose, I promise!