Butternut-Miso Soup with Coconut

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Butternut is such a stereotypical Fall food, but sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason.  Am I right?  Butternut is amazing.  I love it mixed into creamy risotto, embedded in delicate ravioli, roasted with herbs like rosemary or sage, but mostly, I love it in soup.  This recipe is different from the traditional butternut squash soups you see this time of year.  It is made with miso broth, fresh ginger, cayenne and coconut milk.

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The hardest part about making butternut squash soup of any kind is prepping the butternut.  It’s worth it though, I promise.  Get smallish butternuts so you’re not left wrangling a large one, which is more difficult in my experience.  A smaller one will make it easier to slice off both ends, peel, then halve the squash before removing the seeds and cubing the butternut.  It’s a little messy…

P1050201But that’s OK because everything else about this dish is simple.  White miso has a delicate, salty flavor and when you put the paste into simmering water, you’ll instantly think you’re about to make miso soup, which I might do another time.  However, adding the butternut with sauteed onions and fresh spices makes this soup rich and unique.

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Jam and bread

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I was going to call this post “Life changing loaf” because that is what this bread is actually called, and it actually is life-changing!  Instead, though I’m calling it “Jam and bread” because I couldn’t help myself, I am a huge fan of The Sound of Music!!  Who else?  There’s no jam recipe, just the bread and you don’t have to top this life-changing bread with just jam, I’ve done nut butters, honey, coconut oil, pesto and I’ve had it warmed up and enjoyed it on its own.

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Kale pesto for everything

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Someone asked me the other day if I thought pesto was a condiment.  I say it is!  I put pesto on pretty much anything, which to me makes it a condiment, and the Huffington Post seems to agree.  I put pesto on sandwiches, eggs, avocado, pasta, pizza, plus you can use it as a dip for veggies or pita bread.  The options truly are endless.  Because I so enjoy pesto, I have developed my own that uses some traditional pesto flavors like pine nuts and garlic, but I omit the cheese and add the kale.  #teamkale

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Pesto’s amazing flavor comes from basil.  Basil is such a wonderful herb with a subtle sweetness and elements of anise that give it an interesting bite.  Basil is packed with vitamins K and A so it’s a terrific thing to add to your diet.  We’re just incredibly lucky someone thought of pesto!

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Mexican Lasagna

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I was recently in Tulsa, OK to see one of my beautiful sorority sisters get married.  The wedding was gorgeous and the weekend was a blast, partly because I stumbled upon the greatest cafe ever!  It was a spot I did not expect to find in Tulsa.  I love when the world surprises me!  The cafe is called Nourish and it was opened in January by two sisters who seem to have a passion for bringing healthful food and drinks the their beautiful Midwestern city.  I bought my new favorite t-shirt there (see below) and later explored Nourish’s website where I found this yummy-sounding recipe for Mexican lasagna.  After making it, I know it is not just yummy-sounding but yummy-tasting, too!

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Raw banana bread bites

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Really ripe bananas are so sweet, they’re almost impossible to eat on their own at that point.  They are however, fantastic in smoothies and cookies, and overly ripe bananas are essential in this recipe for raw banana bread.  Your bananas should be mostly brown and very soft.  For this recipe, ripe bananas and dates are the only sweetener added, and those two natural ingredients are all the sweetness this “bread” needs!

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It would be easy to mistake this raw banana bread for traditional banana bread, but this bread has no eggs, flour or oil.  It is made mostly with nuts and seeds.  It’s extremely dense and nutritious, but after serving these to a variety of friends, I can confidently say you won’t find someone who doesn’t like this bread.

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Carrots love raisins

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I think I was in eighth grade when I had my first carrot-raisin salad.  My mom made it one night when I had a friend over for dinner.  This friend was a “picky eater.”  For some reason, a carrot-raisin salad just sounds unappealing to an eighth grader.  Even now, I don’t know if it would be what I order on a menu, but I can tell you, I crave this easy and delicious salad that is filling and full of healing nutrients like beta-carotene!  And, as my mom said years ago, “Do you like carrots?  Do you like raisins?  Well, they’re mixed together!”  This salad is almost that easy.

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Simple summer sides for the win

The summer months are slow and easy, especially in my new home in the South.  The days are long and hot, which zaps my energy and leaves me with little motivation to spend a ton of time in a hot kitchen, unless I have wine, of course!  Lately, I’ve been picking up whatever vegetables and fruits are freshest and making meals with just that.  I figure many of you may be doing the same or want ideas about how to make a meal quickly and easily.  This was my dinner tonight: Brussels sprouts with lemon and parsley, a summer veggie salad with basil, smoked salmon and half an avocado.  So simple and I prepared it all in under thirty minutes.

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I washed and thinly sliced the Brussels, roasted them in a 350 degree oven with olive oil, sea salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.  Then, I dressed them with a mixture of lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and a generous amount of fresh chopped parsley.  There’s never enough parsley!

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While the Brussels roasted, I sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, a medium raw zucchini, one yellow bell pepper, chickpeas and torn basil.  I drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper on top and let it marinate, then added raw pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.  It’s divine and took ten minutes, plus it is gorgeous!

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With my two all-star veggie sides, I felt I had a meal, but I added smoked salmon and avocado to jazz it up a bit then sat outside and enjoyed it while the sun went down.  Talk about summer perfection.  Bon appétit!

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Shopping in the middle

Going to the grocery store can be overwhelming. You’ve heard the tips from “the experts” who say to stay on the outside of the grocery store, not allowing yourself to be tempted by the middle aisles, which carry foods responsible for our expanding middles. I agree with those experts, but also spend hours at the store, and at home researching food products located in those middle aisles. These products are ones I trust and enjoy, both because of the way the food tastes and makes me feel, but also because I believe the brands are worthy.

First off is Theo Chocolate.  I look forward to indulging in it each day. Theo is the first organic chocolate to be made in the U.S. and as far as I can tell, it is one of the only brands of chocolate not made with soy lecithin, which is used mainly as an emulsifier but it is debatable whether this is an ingredient we should be consuming, so I try my best to avoid it.

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Theo’s products are all organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade certified and made in Seattle. It’s pricey, but worth it and whenever I see it on-sale, I stock up! My favorite is the Dark Salted Almond. Delicious, good for you (in moderation, of course), and available in a center aisle near you, I hope! I get mine at Whole Foods.

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Superfood cacao nut bars

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It has been a busy transition from Winter to Spring and now it feels like it’s nearly Summer.  Where does time go?  Since January, I started a new job, moved into a new apartment, have begun making wonderful new friends and have been eating at lots of new, great Southern restaurants.  I’m still staying true to my mostly healthy self and feel best when I eat a mainly plant-based diet with protein from non-animal sources.  These bars will fill you up, and possibly even satiate a sweet-tooth!  Never too busy for that.

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These superfood cacao nut bars are essentially nuts and seeds, bound together by the natural sweetness in raisins and dates and by the yumminess of raw cacao powder and coconut oil.  Perfection filled superfood!

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I recently treated myself — aka SPLURGED unnecessarily — on a lovely Cuisinart Food Processor.  I’m in love.  For these bars, a processor is prime to get the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to the right consistency.  However, you could use a powerful blender or get back-to-basics with a sharp knife and cutting board!

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