Feature Friday // Cashmere & The Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Vegetable Soup

Whether you’re desiring to entice the entire family to the dinner table, searching for a chemical-free home fragrance, or seeking to cozy in with a cashmere sweater and a bowl of something just as comforting,

this is your fix!

There is nothing more suited to cozy sweater weather then a simmering pot of steaming stew, aromatic with herbs and spices, hearty and holistic with vegetables and lentils. For this one, we have Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa to thank!

 

 

cashmere

6 Reasons to love lentils:

  • Reduced cholesterol
    • High in soluble fibre which helps to control cholesterol levels.
  • Stable Blood Sugar
    • Say goodbye to the post lunch crash! With the soluble fibre to slow the digestion of carbohydrates (sugars), you will be keeping blood sugar levels stable. This makes lentils a great option for those with hypoglycemia and diabetes.
  • Promotes Proper Digestion
    • The insoluble fibre helps to regulate your digestive system to prevent constipation and promote proper elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Heart Health
    • Lentils are also a great source of folate to lower homocysteine levels (correlated with increased risk of heart problems) and magnesium to improve blood flow and oxygenation to the entire body.
  • Energy
    • Complex carbohydrates are metabolized slowly leading to steady and sustained energy much like a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats. Lentils are also a great source of B vitamins and iron, both essential for high energy.
  • Vegetarian protein
    • The protein source of meatless Mondays! Though I do not follow any one day, 1-2X a week I participate in eating meat free. This means that my protein is sourced from plant-based whole foods which includes lentils. Just remember to pair this with food that will make a complete protein (having a net result of all essential amino acids) such as quinoa.

 

 

Holistic Recipe Swaps:

  • Kosher salt for Himalayan:
    • You will need to season wisely here as Himalayan salt is generally a finer grind more reminiscent of table salt. This pretty pink salt offers a higher and broader range of health benefits.
  • Chicken Stock:
    • Look for a quality chicken stock. Health food stores are excellent places to prowl for your pantry. Check the ingredients list to ensure that it is all real food, free of yeast when possible. The brand I like for broth is Pacific.
  • Red Wine Vinegar:
    • Where the recipe states that red wine and the vinegar are interchangeable, I recommend staying away from the wine to avoid all possible sulfites. Opt for the red wine vinegar instead.
  • Cheese:
    • We omitted the cheese entirely. This was not only for the sake of optimal health but also for the flavours of the soup to stand out on their own, as they did.

Holistic Hacks

  • Make in large batches to enjoy through the week and freeze to thaw on late nights when you want to heat up a quick and warming soup.

 

THE RECIPE

Find the full recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lentil-vegetable-soup-recipe.html

lentil pizza

THE SWITCH UPS

The wonderful thing about this soup is its versatility. My personal favourites:

  1. Wrap it up – Create wraps by easily separating spoonfuls of lentils and vegetables from the broth. I wrapped mine in sushi rice wraps with avocado, salsa, lettuce and olives. You could also use other gluten-free wraps, nori sheets, collard leaves, or lettuce leaves. Try it with humus or stone ground mustard or perhaps pesto, there are endless options available!
  2. Top your pizza & pasta – Using a brown rice wrap as a crust, I topped the pizza with a layer of tomato paste mashed with garden fresh tomatoes into a pizza sauce and layered the lentil mix (without the broth) on top. You could mix this soup into your next pasta sauce as well.
  3. Add it to roasted vegetables – Roast root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets in the oven and add some of the soup for extra flavouring to the dish.

 

With a few swaps, this recipe became one the whole family enjoyed with the Barefoot Contessa to thank! Though they quickly regretted my ability to eat it as the leftovers mysteriously vanished (Oops! 😉 ), I think this stew will be making a comeback to the table again very soon.

To your cozy cashmere Fridays,

Suzanne Eden

 

 

 

 

 

Mothers Day Gatherings With The Mediterranean Lentil Summer Salad

This was a smashing hit this weekend at our Mother’s Day gathering (as evidenced by the lack of salad that made its way home to me) and it’s about time for another recipe!
  • Have you tried lentils before? They are one of my favourite plant-based ways to pack protein and fibre into my diet. When prepared properly they are easily digested, simple to make and we always have organic bags of them stocked in our cold cellar ready to cook up in a pinch. So whether you are looking for a way to dip a spoon into these legumes or are on the hunt for the ultimate entertaining salad for summer BBQ’s, this dish is your holistic fix!
   But first, a little taste of Mother’s Day…
oh she glows
 
We spent a “heartfelt” Mother’s Day bonding for bunch with these golden chia bagels from the “Oh She Glows” cookbook with dollops of homemade strawberry jam.
  • I made the jam using frozen organic strawberries which are more cost-effective and last longer than the fresh ones. When flash frozen, they maintain the same nutrient value they had fresh, though warming them as you do with this recipe, will unfortunately destroy most of its nutrients anyways.
  • In the bagels, I recommend using maple syrup as opposed to honey as it is more heat-resistant. These bagels are cooked at a very low temperature which is optimal and my mother, and a fellow coworker I shared them with, loved them! It was a good thing for extra ingredients as I maaay have spent Saturday night whipping up another batch after eating the first one straight out of the oven… oops!
 Though I wasn’t able to attend our Mother’s Day gathering this year, we packed up this Mediterranean salad for everyone to enjoy. We are so spoiled as our families get togethers are ripe with fresh veggie platters (much of which is supplied via my grandparent’s garden) with homemade dips & hummus and feature healthy dinners always tailored to our dairy-free, gluten-free needs! But this salad offers the perfect holistic life hack if you find yourself in a situation where it is the only healthy dish on the menu as the high protein content, fibre and healthy fats make this a light but hearty salad so that you can fill up with lentils and take smaller samplings of the rest of the food and/or desserts.
entertaining
The Mediterranean Lentil Summer Salad
Light, effortless and wholesome, this is the perfect entertaining salad for all of your summer gatherings!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked red or green lentils (soaked overnight)
  • 1-1/2 cups quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled and quartered cucumber
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper (organic as it is part of the dirty dozen)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • ½ cup pitted olives (black or green. I go based on which organic ones I can find and pit them myself)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves or cilantro
  • Optional but reccommended; 1-2 Avocados!

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey (raw, unpasteurized, unprocessed)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Rinse and cook the soaked lentils as instructed on the package and allow to cool (This can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge).
  • Combine all salad ingredients (except avos) in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and gently mix into the salad. Add the avocado, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavours to come together. We prepared this dish the night before for an easy morning.
The Switch Ups:
To take you through the remaining few days of our seven days of salads challenge, there are lots of tasty things you can do to revamp this dish!
  • Make wraps with lettuce wraps, raw wraps or rice wraps and include avocado, sprouts, a little mustard or hummus or whatever other wholesome toppings you might enjoy.
  • Use it as a topping for a big, green salad
  • Stuff roasted red peppers, Portobello mushroom caps or squash
  • create a rustic “salsa” type of dip for brown rice or nut and seed crackers
Whether entertaining your family or an entire crowd, this simple, wholesome and yummy salad is your new quick fix go-to and  the perfect way to conclude our final days of the seven days of salads challenge!
To a deliciously plant powered weekend,
Suzanne Eden