Tag Archives: healthy

Creamed Vegetable Soup

 

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This vegetable soup is perfect for those nights when you crave warm, comforting soup but have little energy, never mind time.  The vegetables are cut into good-sized chunks, cook until tender then are blitzed with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender.  The recipe makes quite a bit but the soup is even more flavorful the following day and packs well for lunch at one’s desk.  It’s incredibly thick and hearty so often I serve it alone.  Paired with a grilled cheese sandwich of some sort, the soup with half a sandwich will leave you stuffed and satisfied.  If you prefer your soup thinner, by all means, add a bit more water or broth.  Make certain to blend until smooth and the end result will be a creamy, velvety meal.  Enjoy!

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Creamed Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, cut into eighths
  • 7-9 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 5 medium zucchini, cut into 1″ rounds
  • 5 medium organic carrots, cut into 1/2″ rounds
  • 5 stalks of celery, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 7 large tomatoes, cut into eighths and core end trimmed off
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, stalk end snapped off
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • water
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large dutch oven or soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions.  Stir occasionally, and cook until they begin to turn translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, zucchini, carrots and celery and continue stirring.  Cook until the vegetables begin to soften.
  3. Add the tomatoes, green beans and oregano. Stir until all the vegetables are well combined and the oregano is evenly distributed.
  4. Add water to the pot just up to the vegetables but not covering them.  You can always add more water if needed.
  5. Bring to a boil then drop the heat down to a medium simmer, cover and cook for 45-60 minutes or until the carrots and green beans are tender and completely cooked through.
  6. Add the basil, stir, then process until smooth with an immersion blender or transfer to food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Add salt to taste
  8. Add freshly cracked black pepper over individual servings.
  9. May be served hot, warm or cold.

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A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

My father is 94 years old.  He lives at home, in the house I grew up in.  He takes no medications.  None.  His preventive regimen consists of vitamins, little or no red meat and more green, leafy vegetables than one can imagine.  And it’s all organic.  His Achilles heel is his sweet tooth.  He has commanded no more cakes or pies to be baked for him.  He has no self-discipline.  These cookies are different.  Not too sweet and pretty clean.  I believe he’ll embrace and enjoy the fruits of this recipe.  I’m almost certain I’ve developed a wheat allergy so I’ve been trying to figure out how to have the occasional treat without sneezing and coughing.  I’m done with red, watery, old-lady eyes and a constant, bothersome post nasal drip.

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I fashioned these based on my breakfast cookie.  That said, these cookies rock.  Made with dark chocolate, they satisfy  sweet cravings at first bite.  Even Daddy loved them.  I replaced conventional white, bleached, wheat flour with almond and coconut flours.  In lieu of white sugar, (so bad for you!), I used coconut sugar.  The result is a thick, chewy, healthful cookie studded with gorgeous, dark chocolate chips all gooey and soft.  I don’t bake them often, they may contain good fats but they’re still fats, however, these make a wonderful occasional indulgence.  And my family loves them.  Hope ya’ll do, too!

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A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • Servings: 25 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, I use dairy-free “Enjoy Life” brand available at grocery and health food stores
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl add coconut flour, coconut sugar, almond flour and baking soda.  Mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined and set bowl aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine eggs, coconut oil and vanilla and mix well.
  4. To the egg mixture add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips.  Mix well until all the chips are evenly distributed.
  5. Use a melon ball scooper to measure out 25 equal portions of dough.  My scooper is 1 1/2″ in diameter and holds 5 teaspoons.  I pack each scoop firmly.
  6. Place each ball of dough on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and gently flatten the top of each cookie with your hand.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until bottoms are golden in color.
  8. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Allow to cool completely before storing.

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100% Whole Wheat, Orange, Nut and Olive Oil Biscotti

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Winter in Florida means citrus…jacked up citrus.  It’s the season for heavy with juice, dimple skinned, brilliantly colored oranges, lemons, limes and kumquats all begging to be juiced, baked or eaten out of hand.  I had a hankering for a crunchy dunking cookie and this is the end result.  I debated whether to drizzle a little icing or dark chocolate over the tops, both go so well with orange, but I opted for neither and went for a more European, unadorned cookie.  And healthful.  No white flour allowed today.  In working with the recipe I used pecans in some batches and walnuts in others.  Both are excellent but only if toasted prior to baking otherwise the nuts are bland and lost in the biscotti.  It’s a simple recipe and easy.

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As I’ve written in other posts, I strongly, strongly suggest using parchment paper to line your baking sheet.   It can be found at the grocery store but the paper is in a roll like tin foil or wax paper which makes it tricky to work with.  The ends of the paper curl imitating the roll in the box.  Flat sheets are found in many food warehouses and are much, much cheaper.  Leave them to cool completely before storing them and the cookies will remain crisp.  Dunk in a cup of coffee, hot tea or a glass of milk for a satisfying treat.

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100% Whole Wheat, Orange, Nut and Olive Oil Biscotti

  • Servings: approximately 50 biscotti
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour + extra to shape the dough
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, a pinch
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, optional
  • 2 teaspoons orange oil or extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt until completely combined.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standup mixer add the eggs and, with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs until broken up.
  4. To the eggs add the sugar and olive oil and mix until well combined.
  5. Add to the egg mixture the orange zest, liqueur if using, orange oil or extract, vanilla and mix until completely combined and the orange zest is evenly mixed through and not in clumps.
  6. Add the flour mixture and nuts to the egg mixture and slowly beat until all ingredients are well mixed and there are no wet spots on the bottom of the bowl.  The dough will be heavy and sticky.
  7. Sprinkle flour on the counter and on your hands, divide the dough in half and roll each half into logs measuring about 14″X3″X1″.
  8. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving 2 inches between the logs.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes then remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.
  10. Move one log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/4 inch cookies.  Place cut cookies back on baking sheet cut side up.  Slice the second log in the same manner.
  11. Return baking sheet to the oven and bake 30 minutes, turning over cookies after 15 minutes of baking.
  12. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing.

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Less Time in the Kitchen?

Yesterday I saw the title of an article in a cooking magazine.  “We’ll Show You How to Spend LESS Time in the Kitchen!”, it barked.  Are you kidding?  Thanks but no thanks.  I KNOW how to spend less time in the kitchen; my quest is how to make my time in the kitchen MORE enjoyable. Because I ALREADY take pleasure in it. I finally went to The Fresh Market, which recently opened in our neighborhood, to see if all the hubbub was justified.  I liked it.  It’s extremely well laid out, and tres, TRES jolie.  And y’all know, pretty is very important in my kingdom.  I gauge a good market by whether or not they carry two items.  Mahlep, in seed form or ground, and nigella seeds.  Fresh Market carries neither.  But I DID like it.  I took my time, working my way through produce, and I’ve got to say it looked good.  I was happily surprised by some pretty decent pricing.  As we’re eating less and less meat, organic has become, well, more important.  We eat salad for dinner at least four times a week so when a green, leafy is on sale I give thanks and then I buy a couple!  But then I found myself smack dab in the middle of the bakery section thinking, “I don’t WANT to work anymore.  I want to create.  I want to fiddle with doughs and flavors.  I want to play with fruits and scents.  And textures.”  Mentally stamping my Delman encased foot while changing a line from one of my favorite movies, I thought, “But cha can’t, Blanche.  But cha can’t!”  Well, a girl can dream.  So, to make myself feel better, I bought some big, fat, shiny dried cherries.  And some sweet sunflower seeds.  I bought lavender, pistachios and raspberry honey.  Now I’ll be happier in the kitchen.  I’m playing with homemade granola.  This past Christmas Jimmy made me VERY happy by researching and giving me a spectacular serrated chef’s knife.  He researched it by asking Selene, “Hey, tell me about that knife you’ve got that Alicia wants?” It doesn’t get any easier!!  For all involved!  And makes my time in the kitchen more pleasurable.  Years ago we redid the kitchen and Jimmy suggested since I spend a ridiculous amount of time in there that we bite the financial bullet and get the sink of my dreams.  And, boy howdy, did I!!!  You could bathe two large babies in it with room for toys!  It’s black, matte and sleek.  And STILL gives me a swell of pleasure when I turn around from anywhere in that room and see that spectacular inky hole.  Money well, well spent.  I have five or six cutting boards, and love them all.  Hardwood, bamboo, small to large, each gives me pleasure just by being supremely functional.  A kitchen should be a place of enjoyment, free of anger and tension.  We have the rest of the house for that!!  Truthfully, a bit of thought and planning in the kitchen can turn things around.  It adds to the contentment.  Think of how much nicer it looks when, in June, you get rid of that tall stack of Christmas cards.  You know it’s true!  It’s hard to toss them when they’re the Yuletide photos of family and friends so I take the special ones and use them as bookmarks in my cookbooks.  There must be at least three or four of the Schloss’ in my “The Olive and the Caper” volume.  Megan, Emily and Zach will forever be in grade school in MY kitchen!  And my aunt in Puerto Rico, Titi Myrna, sent us a gorgeous card some years back of a typical Puerto Rican Christmas feast.  It lives happily in “The Art of Caribbean Cookery”, presented to me in 1970 by another aunt, affectionately named “Madrinita”.  Engagement announcements, precious thank you notes, Christmas cards, class pictures, baptism invitations, they ALL make me happy!  And they make terrific bookmarks for those favorite recipes.

Years ago we brought back bottles of Metaxa, a beautiful, Greek brandy-like spirit from one of our summer trips. Lots of memories THERE!  Metaxa is distilled twice, wed with aged muscat wine from Samos and Lemnos, blended and aged in handmade oak casks.  It’s a real sipper and poli divine!  (Poli – the word for “very” in Greek, poh-lee, accent on the second syllable.)  We also brought back bottles of Ouzo, specifically Barbayannis, an aniseed liquor which many people mistakenly shoot, but which is also a sipper.  The bottles we brought back are gorgeous!  Absolutely splendid labels, rich in color AND happy memories.  I kept the empties, then and now, filling them with liquid dishwashing detergent.  I don’t want some mass-produced-made-for-the-masses cheap piece of crap gracing my sink.  I don’t want mediocrity in my kitchen.  It looks poli splendid, gives me such pleasure, and don’t nobody else have it!!!  Rum, wine, champagne, it will all look crazy good!  When I was in college, my friend BL, AKA Betty Lou, had a gorgeous, deep red runner in her kitchen.  That is brilliant.  You ain’t got no little ones?  Put something outstanding on the floor.  It will make your heart sing and make that small space welcoming yet add that surprise wink of sophistication.  I always have music playing, always, classic rock, salsa, whatever helps me prepare a dish and enjoy the color of the food, the sound of chopping, or the scents of aromatics.  I love my time in the kitchen and look forward to Saturday afternoons when the weekly demands have been met and now I owe no one anything.  This is MY time.  I pull out my good flours or chocolates.  My good vanilla or the Greek oregano I THOUGHT I was smuggling back.  Whatever floats my boat that day.  Even if you’re not crazy about cooking, a good-looking kitchen will make that first cup of coffee you pressed even better.  At 6:00 in the morning it’s dark out and utterly still in my house. I look around me and don’t pretend my house is sumptuous or lavish but I love it and think it’s pretty terrific. And most splendid.  I WILL make that olive foccacia, some chocolate chocolate-chip pistachio biscotti or whole wheat coconut ginger scones.

Yesterday Jimmy brought home some stunning irises.  I put them, yeah, you guessed it, in the kitchen.  I look forward to my time in the kitchen.  I L.O.V.E my time in the kitchen.  Oh, hell yeah, it’s time well spent, and I want more.  This is kind of a base granola recipe that I’m crazy about.  I don’t keep any sweets in the house with the exception of baking chocolates, so it can get a little sketchy and tense here when I have a craving and am not quite ready to pluck out an eye to sacrifice to the diet devil.  Thankfully, this is just sweet enough to talk me down.  There is a little bit of brown sugar and a bit o’ honey, just the right amount.  I’m on a dried cherry kick right now along with raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds.  They’re both rich and gorgeous, most pleasing to the eye and the palate.  You can use any seeds or berries as well as mix up the spices.  I think lavender and orange zest would be wonderful together.  Or  pear with dried raspberries and almonds.  To add more flavor and brightness, add fresh citrus zest to the dry ingredients and the juice of the fruit to the wet ingredients.  Try this cinnamon, cardamom, coriander mix.. it’s quite the exotic blend.  Really, the combination is endless.  These are soft bars, I’m just not crazy about that break-your-teeth hard stuff.  So, I use some egg whites to bind the granola together and help it hold its shape.  (It still kind of falls apart.)  So, so good, though.  So, so good!

Soft Granola Bars

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries, or dried fruit of your choice
  • 1 cup chopped or sliced almonds, or nut of your choice
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2-1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2-3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Line a 12 X 17 jelly roll pan with tin foil leaving an excess of a few inches to hang over each end of the two short sides.
  3. Spray tin foil with non-stick spray.
  4. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the brown sugar and mix well.
  5. In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Pour the wet into the dry, stirring until all the dry ingredients are well coated with the honey, oil, egg mixture.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and, using wet hands, press the mixture firmly into the pan, making sure it’s reasonably level, and pressed into all corners.
  8. Bake about 35-45 minutes or until a dark golden color.  The baking time varies depending on your humidity level.
  9. Cool on a wire rack but still in the pan.
  10. When cool use the foil as handles and transfer to a counter.  Using a sharp knife, a pizza cutter will not work, cut lengthwise into six strips then crosswise into four strips.
  11. Store in an airtight container or, as in our house, a gallon size freezer bag.

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