Recipe: Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Cashew Cream and Fried Sage Leaves

Good morning, everyone!

I cannot seem to get warm between the months of November and August.

But I’ve noticed a couple things that help; hand warmers, fireplaces, coffee, tea and soup. 

Since I’ve started working with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition curriculum and learning more about eating localseasonal and listening to ones body, I have tried my best to follow my body and give it what it needs.

For example, when I wake up in the Spring, Summer and early Fall I tend to crave a big green smoothie. But once about October hits, I no longer crave a green smoothie upon waking, but a warm, soothing bowl of oatmeal instead. Rather than forcing a green smoothie down my throat, I listen to my body and give it what it wants. Another example is gravitating toward a warming cooked dish rather than a raw vegetable salad for lunch. And soup, lots of soup, I could eat soup at every meal if it was possible.

Thanksgiving is already home to many warming vibes, but soup rarely makes an appearance on the Thanksgiving table. Due to the fact that my family had a smaller Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to start us off with a soup appetizer.

I thought I’d showcase one of the most classic of fall vegetables, butternut squash. There are many butternut squash recipes floating around the web, but I wanted to create my own version with just the right texture and the right amount of spices.

I also decided to give this squash a slight Indian vibe with the addition of curry powder and coconut milk. I find the spices in curry powder to be extremely warming and coconut milk gave this a creamy feel. But worry not, both my grandparents, as well as my 13-year-old sister, who are all picky eaters in their own right, really enjoyed this soup.

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The recipe is pretty forgiving. Add more or less seasoning, adjust liquid and thicken to taste, increase coconut milk and decrease broth for a creamier texture, feel free to play around with the recipe, I assure you it is hard to mess up.

Ingredients

For The Soup

  • olive oil to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 1-2 tsp. of curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~4 lbs. of butternut squash (I used one 2 lb. bag and one mid-sized butternut squash to experiment)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened, coconut milk

For The Cashew Cream

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight or at least an hour
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened, unflavored plant-milk (I used coconut)
  • The juice from half a lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For The Fried Sage Leaves

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Toss the cubed squash with olive oil or spray the halved squash with olive oil and sprinkle with seas salt
  • Roast until soft- about 45 minutes
  • Meanwhile, sauté the onion and shallot in olive oil in a big soup pot on the stove
  • Sauté on low heat and slowly caramelize the onion, season with salt, pepper, and curry powder. Adjust to taste.
  • Once the squash is roasted, add it to the soup pot with the caramelized onion, add the broth and coconut milk
  • Using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth or alternatively, transfer mixture until a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serve hot or store in the fridge for a few days and reheat when you’re ready to eat. Garnish with the cashew cream and fried sage leaves. Enjoy!
  • For the cashew cream: Drain the soaked cashews and combine with plant-milk, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
  • For the fried sage leaves: heat olive oil in a small sauce small until it shimmers, toss in a couple of sage leaves and fry for a few seconds on each side, remove with tongs and put on a paper towel to dry. Store in an air-tight container for up to a couple of days.

Monday Link Up [12/1/14]

Happy December!

There’s nothing better than the first of the month falling on a Monday to refresh, renew, reset and rejuvenate. Especially after the crazy holiday weekend we just had!

I have some great links for you on this Monday we head into the Holiday season and look ahead into resolution season.

This is also my last Monday before I start working full time! Keep expecting the weekly Monday Link Up and other blog posts as well. I will do my best to keep up the blog as I transition into working life.

1. From HuffPost Taste, the 11 Gifts to Give Your Health-Obsessed Foodie Friend. Seriously, if anyone got me any one of these gifts, I would not be disappointed (hint hint.) Foodies and Health-Obsessed people are often grouped into two different categories and I appreciate HuffPost for giving a nod to the overlapping group of the two circles. The Fruit of the Month Club and the tofu socks gave me the biggest laugh. I have been eyeing a slow cooker, a Craft Coffee subscription and a CSA membership for a while now and might have to treat myself this holiday season.

2. Saving money is a great New Year’s resolution or a good thing to at least think about during the holiday season. Greatist’s 94 Creative Ways To Save Money Today are clever, quirky and totally doable.

3. Speaking of resolutions, this article from PoughKeepsie Journal explains Why Going Vegan May Be Your Best New Year’s Resolution Ever. It covers many common New Year’s resolutions; such as weight loss, overall health, environmental concerns, and cooking and eating more delicious food in one fell swoop. I think back upon the start of my journey with veganism just last year and wonder how many people will decide to take the vegan plunge in 2015!

4. I recently learned about Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Breathing Technique and wanted to share it with you. This simple breathing technique boasts some pretty impressive health benefits and I have been trying to work it into my daily routine.

5. Just in case you are having a little difficulty resetting after this past week, or want to cleanse before the next holiday, here are 5 Easy Ways To Detox After Thanksgiving (or anytime!) from Well + Good NYC.

Enjoy your week!

Thanksgiving 2014 Cooking Recap

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! I thought I’d give you a little recap of what I made last night. My mom and grandma also made some more traditional Thanksgiving staples but here are my healthy, plant-based and Gray-Eats-Green-approved Thanksgiving contributions.

Vegan Cornbread Muffin recipe adapted from Food52 served with Cranberry-Pear Sauce recipe adapted from Oh She Glows and homemade “honey butter.”
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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Cashew “Cream” and Fried Sage Leaves. This was a completely original recipe that I will have to post on the blog soon. The soup ended up being a big hit with everyone from my younger sisters to my grandparents and it was nice sitting down to an “appetizer” course, a Thanksgiving first for us.

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Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Bread Stuffing with Apples recipe adapted from Food52. Made with local, Detroit Avalon Bakery Motown Multigrain Bread.

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Here is a look my Thanksgiving plate. Salad with roasted asparagus and maple mustard dressing, a baked sweet potato, a corn bread muffin with honey butter, cranberry sauce and stuffing.

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Good luck to anyone participating in Black Friday Shopping today and enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday in Detroit

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the morning in downtown Detroit with someone I am very thankful for, my mom.

What started as a Thanksgiving dinner Eastern Market shop quickly turned into a lovely morning expedition exploring some of the cool spots that the city has to offer.

I recently accepted a job offer in Detroit so this is not the first time you will be hearing about this awesome city! I love the hip vibe and gritty charm of the city and I am excited to be a part of the movement and revitalization. I also have high hopes of helping Detroit blossom into more of a health and wellness hotspot.

After spending some time in Brooklyn this past fall, I’ve noticed that Detroit gives me a similar feel. The cities share a strong emphasis on local and artisan products along with a unique smattering of individuals, industrial roots, and underdog attitude. I got the chance to soak up a bunch of these vibes yesterday morning.

Eastern Market

We started off at Eastern Market, one of the best farmer’s markets in the country and a signature Detroit destination. While this market is normally hopping and plentiful during the summer months and on Saturdays, we were let down on this special Holiday Market Tuesday. The local vendors were extremely scarce due to the off-season time of year, and the market was focused more on handmade items and imported produce. We did purchase some local cranberries, shallots, onions and some imported sweet potatoes, but decided to buy the rest of our holiday haul at Trader Joe’s.

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Avalon Bakery

After being let down by Eastern Market, I wanted to continue my Detroit adventure. I had my heart set on making my vegan stuffing out of Avalon Motown Multigrain bread so we headed over to the bakery. I hadn’t been to Avalon in a while and I was impressed and excited by the freshness and variety of baked goods at the flagship store. We got two of the multigrain loaves, a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and my mom got a cherry walnut scone to snack on.

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Shinola

After Avalon, we headed over to Canfield Avenue, home of Shinola and some other hip hot spots. My mom had never seen the Shinola store before and had been feigning to check it out. I love the watches, handmade leather goods and design of the store, the new Commonwealth coffee bar doesn’t hurt either. I find that Commonwealth has some of the best coffee in town.

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Willy’s Detroit

After admiring leather goods at Shinola, we headed a couple doors down to Willy’s Detroit. This was my first time checking out Willy’s, I had heard great things about this place and I was not let down. They are also home to Drought juice, a new favorite of mine, so I couldn’t help but purchase one of their 4oz. immunity potions. I also got an awesome gift for a friend. All the clothes and cool accessories stressed the fact that they were made in the USA. So cool.

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I love whenever I have the opportunity to explore downtown and I am absolutely thrilled that I now have the opportunity to work down there and are going to get to enjoy it everyday.

Now back to my Thanksgiving preparations. Have a cozy day-before-Thanksgiving Wednesday!

Monday Link Up [11/24/14]

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Monday Link Up! 

Hope everyone had a nice a relaxing weekend and is looking forward to the short week ahead; whether you are taking off Wednesday or Friday, have a school break or just get Thursday off, Thanksgiving week, weekend, or day is always a nice time to relax and recharge during this gloomy transitional season.

I hope everyone caught my Big Fall Salad recipe & Friendsgiving post yesterday. If not you can go check it out, here.

Monday Link Up

1. I know I put together a Vegan Thanksgiving Link Up post last week, but this Ultimate Guide To A Healthy and Happy Plant-Based Thanksgiving by Don’t Loose The Cow is the most comprehensive guide to a vegan Thanksgiving I’ve seen on the web thus far. Matt’s blog is new to me and another excellent resource for handling social situations as a vegan with ease.

2. While it may only be November, winter is certainly here and these 10 Tips To Beat the Winter Blahs from MindBodyGreen couldn’t be more spot on. So far I have been trying to eat and drink a ton of warming foods and beverages (tea and soup!) as well as enjoying hot baths. I have noticed that getting motivation to workout in the winter is tough, but once you do it you feel better than ever. Even 30 minutes on my home elliptical trainer or a short, bundled up walk on a freezing-but-sunny day does the trick.

3. Speaking of the winter blahs, nothing is more “blah” in the winter than coming down with something. We tend to run ourselves into the ground, guzzle orange juice and over-the-counter pre-cold meds when we feel something coming on, then end up out of work or on yet another antibiotic, which can be very damaging to ones health if taken too frequently. Enter the Immunity & Wellness Guide from Robyn Youkilis, a health and cooking coach who graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I first learned about her when she gave an online lecture for IIN. Though some of her tips and tricks may appear to be hippie witchcraft compared to a prescription from your local CVS, I’m telling you, they really work!

4. This one is not nutrition related but here is a review of a movie I saw this past Thursday, Whiplash. The movie was incredibly well done with great performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. But what I loved most is the theme and the message, and this review from Eugene Daily News sums it up with the question, “how far are you willing to go to realize your dreams and potential and at what cost?” Though this movie is about music and drumming, the theme of finding balance in ones life between passion and addiction can be applied to anything.

5. And finally, another Thanksgiving roundup post. This time its from Edible Perspective and its all about the food! I hope her stunning food photography and brilliant recipe ideas delight and inspire you in the days to come.

Recipe: The Big Fall Salad

From Instagramming a picture of avocado toast, to binge watching the latest Netflix TV series in one sitting, to posting a Buzzfeed article on Facebook about the either of the above, it seems as if it can be hard to keep up with the many trends of Millennials. Enter the latest and greatest seasonal trend for the average American 20-something; Friendsgiving. Friendsgiving is a Thanksgiving themed dinner that is usually served potluck style where friends get together before Thanksgiving (or during Thanksgiving) and celebrate what’s traditionally a family holiday, with each other.

Friendsgiving is unique in the fact that it is one of the few trends that is not inherently narcissistic. No matter if you are hipsterbasic or somewhere in between, Friendsgiving is a time for Millennials to gather together, reunite and catch up, give thanks for their friendships, and of course, do what they do best, drink. And, if you are a kitchen junkie like me, Friendsgiving is a great time to experiment with new recipes, show off your cooking skills to a new audience and practice some fall favorites for the big family Thanksgiving event.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a “Friendsgiving” potluck dinner myself. When attending dinners and get togethers, I am always faced with the challenge of bringing a dish that is healthy and meets my dietary needs and one that the average eater will enjoy. Luckily, with awesome blogs and cookbooks out there, such a Oh She Glows and Edible Perspective, its not too difficult. I think my mom is always a little worried I will turn off the crowd with some sort of weird, ethic, vegan, pile-of-mush type of dish, but I know that the best way to get people to try new-to-them, healthy dishes is by making them look as visually appealing, normal and inviting as possible.

I attended a few dinner parties and holiday dinners this fall and one ingredient that consistantly dazzled and pleased the crowd from both a visual and palate standpoint is delicata squash. Something about the unique shape and colorful, edible skin really gets the crowd going. Delicata squash is low in calories and high in nutrition and flavor. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. It’s small shape and size and thin skin make it one of the easiest squashes to work with. Unfortunately, squash season is coming to a close, but I thought I’d bust out delicata one more time for Friendsgiving.

I made a couple versions of this salad so far but this one was by far the best. There are a lot of components to this dish but I think you will find it is worthwhile in the end, it’s a huge crowd pleaser and the leftovers make for an excellent lunch the next day.

Curly kale gives this salad a sturdy, cold weather base, while the pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and maple mustard vinaigrette added a classic fall flare. I decided to use millet instead of a more typical grains, due to its warming properties and strong nutritional profile. The roasted brussels sprouts and red onion round out this dish by giving it some depth of flavor. And of course, the delicata squash is the star of the show.

I quadrupled this recipe for the Friendsgiving potluck dinner but I’d say this recipe will comfortably serve 4 people.

The Big Fall Salad 

Ingredients 

  • 1 head of curly kale
  • 1/2 cup of millet
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 3 cups of shaved brussels sprouts (1 full bag of Trader Joe’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 delicata squash
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 batch of Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
    • 1/4 cup whole grain seedy mustard
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Mix shredded brussels sprouts, red onion with olive oil, maple syrup and salt & pepper to taste
  3. Roast for about 20-30 minutes or until crispy. Let cool.
  4. Combine the 1/2 cup millet with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes,) fluff with a fork and let cool.
  5. Cut the squash into thin rings, place the squash on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes (until brown), flipping once halfway through
  6. Chop the kale into bite sized pieces
  7. Whisk or blend the dressing ingredients together (I prefer to blend for a smooth consistency)
  8. Combine the kale, millet, brussels sprouts/onion, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and lightly toss with the dressing
  9. Arrange the roasted delicata squash rings atop of the salad
  10. Serve with extra dressing and enjoy!

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I also made this Oh She Glows Saweet! Potato Casserole with a Crunchy Nut Crumble that I highly recommend. Sweet without being overly sweet and much healthier to some of the more traditional sweet potato side dishes, this could almost make a delicious breakfast dish or even a dessert!

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Happy Friendsgiving and Familysgiving to you all! Looking forward to celebrating more on the blog throughout the week!

Recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

Buckwheat. Did you know this Russian native plant isn’t actually wheat at all, but a highly nutritious, gluten-free pseudo-grain that comes from the rhubarb family? Rich in vitamin E,  B-complex vitamins and amino acids, Buckwheat helps to strengthen kidneys, stabilize blood sugar, benefit circulation, build blood and neutralize toxic acidic waste.

Buckwheat is also super filling and has a nice hearty texture, perfect for pancakes.

The only problem with buckwheat is that the flour version is fairly hard to find. There are two types of buckwheat, raw buckwheat and toasted buckwheat, or kasha. Toasted buckwheat is easier to find in flour form, I have worked with it before and it gives baked goods a very dense, earthy flavor, not great for pancakes and not great for people who are just getting their feet wet in the health food world.

I decided to finally bite the bullet and make my own buckwheat flour. I bought a bag of raw buckwheat groats from the bulk section of my local health food store. A few sections in the Vitamix and boom, you have have a light, finely ground flour perfect for healthy, gluten-free baking. I stored my homemade buckwheat flour in a large mason jar but feel free to use whatever you have.

I have been wanting to make buckwheat pancakes for a while now but just couldn’t find a solid recipe. There are many boxed versions on the market but many contain dairy, eggs or weird additives. And after scouring the web for a solid buckwheat pancake recipe that involved fairly simple ingredients, I decided to just come up with my own.

I gave this recipe a fall twist with the addition of pumpkin and cinnamon, you could also throw in a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice if you’d like. You could also sub mashed ripe banana for the pumpkin.

Buckwheat Pumpkin Pancakes (vegan, gluten free and oil free)

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (ground from raw buckwheat groats)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 medjool dates (could alternatively used 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, agave, honey or sweetener of choice)
  • Coconut oil or coconut oil spray for cooking

Instructions

  1. Mix together the buckwheat flour, oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Pour the blender mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not over mix)
  4. Let the batter sit for at least 20 minutes and up to overnight in the fridge
  5. Lightly grease a pan with coconut oil and pour your desired amount of batter onto the pan
  6. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until done to your liking
  7. Top with Earth Balance, pure maple syrup, nut butter, honey, banana, chopped dried fruit, etc. and enjoy!
  8. Freeze any leftovers in a large ziplock bag and reheat in the toaster oven for an easy weekday breakfast!

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