Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spring Green Pea Soup

This delicious fresh spring green pea soup is made from farm fresh or frozen green peas, organic romaine lettuce and organic parsley. It's a very simple combination of spring greens which produces a very thick and flavorful soup. Actually, I was surprised how good it tastes!

If you are pressed for time but still want something healthy, then this soup is for you.  You can make it from start to finish in just 15 minutes. We all know that greens are really good for us, and this is a delightful way to eat your greens.

Who would have thought you could cook romaine lettuce?
The romaine imparts a mild pleasant flavor into the soup and gives it a little fiber as well. The fresh ( or frozen) green peas give the soup its bright green color, and the parsley just adds a little extra flavor. Together, when these greens are blended, they produce a rich tasting soup.

Now that it is growing season in most parts of the country, this is a great way to use up some of your abundant spring lettuce from your garden or from your CSA pick up!

Do you belong to a CSA? 

My first order from my CSA starts this Monday. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It is usually an organic farm that anyone in the community can join in advance and then be entitled to pick up organic vegetables one day a week during growing season.  I opted to take a half share which means my pickup will be every other Monday starting now and going through November. I believe there are CSA's in most communities across the US.

This week I'll be getting  broccoli raab, bok choy, romaine lettuce, butterhead lettuce, endive, escarole, dandelion greens, radishes and turnups plus a variety of herbs! I'm excited. ( Elise - if you are still reading my blog, I joined Anchor Run this year-)

Back to my soup- Vegan, gluten free, and delicious!

 Spring Green Pea Soup Recipe ( meets vegan and gluten free standards) 

Author: Judee Algazi- Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Blend Time: 5 minutes
Serves 4 cups of soup

4 cups of of Chopped Romaine Lettuce
1/2 chopped parsley
1 cup of frozen or fresh green peas
Olive or Coconut oil spray
4 and 1/2 cups of boiling vegetable broth or boiling filtered water ( I used water and it was great)
Himilayan Salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Saute the chopped lettuce in coconut oil spray in a large wide Dutch oven until slightly wilted . Add the chopped parsley and frozen peas and continue to saute for a few minutes making sure to coat all the vegetables adding a few more sprays of oil if necessary. Add 4 and half cups of boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes until vegetables are cooked but not overly cooked. Peas should stay green. Using an immersion blender blend leaving it just a little chunky.. Add Himalayan salt and pepper to taste. Top with some chopped dandelion greens if desired. Serve immediately. OR eat a room temperature later.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spiralizer Sweet Potato Curly Fries

Can One little kitchen gadget help make eating your vegetables happier, healthier, and easier?  These sweet potato curly fries blew me away. They are so easy to make and are baked, not fried, making them a healthy DELICIOUS choice that the entire family can enjoy.

A spiralizer is not electric- it's a simple hand held kitchen tool
If you have a simple spiralizer, I'm sure you love it and use it as much as I do. If you don't have one, you can get one and they are inexpensive. It will change the way you make some of your vegetables and make eating vegetables more interesting, tastier, and easier.

 Spiralizers are relatively inexpensive ( around $15-$30 )  and can help you make amazing raw vegetable noodles from zucchini, beets, sweet potato, white potato, and butternut squash.  You get the feel of a noodle dish but the nutrients, calories, and carbs of a vegetable. You may remember one of my previous posts fozucchini noodles. All the taste without carbs!

If you are looking for ways to cut down on calories and carbs, you can do so with a spiralizer!

  zucchini spaghetti .- low calorie and low carb- very high in taste

Before Baking
Today's recipe is a fun way to eat sweet potatoes.  I made the curls in 5 minutes by using my spiralizer.Then, I tossed the curls in a little oil, popped them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and placed them into the oven while I went and did something else.

For crispy curly fries. bake about thirty -five minutes; For a softer noodle-like fry ( which is also good) ,  bake about 20-25  minutes.

They cook much faster than regular sweet potato fries because they are so much thinner. They do cook down somewhat, so I figure one medium - large potato per person.

Season Your Fries! 
  • Mexican Fries: Sprinkle with cumin 
  • Cinnamon Fries:  another hit!
  • Cajun Spicy Fries? Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning

How do you like to season your sweet potato fries?

I love the presentation of this healthy side dish, and let's not forget that they are naturally gluten free and vegan!

How do you buy a sprializer?

I bought the   Joyce Chen 51-0662, Saladacco Spiral Slicer, White which is simple to use and makes a  thinner spaghetti noodle strand than my Palermo. ( It also makes a ribbon like strand)

I also have one like this Palermo which makes a little thicker spaghetti type noodle strand.
Spiralizer By Palermo- Voted the Best Vegetable Maker, 

Truthfully, I like them both. But there are many other types of spiralizers available on Amazon to choose from as well like this smaller hand held model ( I've never tried it, but I've heard it works and it's in the $12.00 range.) I've also seen the small hand held ones in some stores.

Author: Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time  : 5-7 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Special Equipment: Spiralizer
Serves: 2 large or 4 small portions

2 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
1/4 cup of olive oil or coconut oil  ( or use olive oil or coconut oil spray)

Preheat oven to 375
Cut both ends of each sweet potato so they are straight and flat.
Follow the direction on your spiralizer for making spiral noodles ( they are many kinds of spiralizers).  When the noodles are cut ( sprialized) , toss with the olive oil OR spray with olive oil spray. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and then place the cut sweet potatoes on the parchment paper. Bake for abou 35 minutes for a crispy potato or about 25 minutes for a noodle like texture. ( Check after 20 minutes and toss if desired and check for burning)

Toss with Olive Oil 

Place on a cookie sheet and bake

What kind of spiralizer to you use? How do you like it? 
Leave some comments for those who have never tried one before!
Eat more vegetables- to get life giving nutrients that aren't available in packaged processed food. Make every bite that you or your kids eat count towards your good health and avoid foods that take away from your good health.

When you are healthy you feel energetic, can accomplish more, and can enjoy life more. Kids who eat well can focus better in school and feel more balanced. Adding more fresh energizing vegetables to your diet is a first step in feeling good!

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    Good food is my passion. I am gluten intolerant, busy. and strive for a healthy balanced lifestyle. It has taken me many years to develop and discover easy healthy recipes that meet gluten free, vegetarian/vegan and real food standards. On my blog I share my journey, my struggles, my discoveries, and my new recipes. I hope you find ideas, resources, and recipes that will be helpful to you. Come Back soon.
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    Tuesday, May 12, 2015

    What I learned at Weight Watchers

    Yes, I actually went to Weight Watchers because I gained weight over the winter. I've been trying to lose the weight on my own, but I realized that I needed some support. Don't get me wrong, I eat well; my meals are healthy real food meals. However, It's the quantity of good food that I eat plus the snacking that puts on the extra weight on me. For the past 2 months , I've been losing 3 pounds and gaining it back on the weekend. I felt out of control.

    In desperation, I went to a Weight Watchers meeting. The lecturer was interesting, helpful and inspiring! I learned a few tips that I think will get me on track .

    First of all, the lecturer  was older and  slim ( I liked that) , and she said she was a vegetarian ( like me).I was very curious to hear what she ate and how to start to approach trying to lose weight and stay motivated.I find as I am getting older, I have less discipline and patience for the thought of  food deprivation.

     I learned that on Weight Watchers you do not have deprive yourself-
    Although Weight Watchers encourages eating what they call Power Foods ( real food like vegetables, beans, fruit, nuts, chicken, fish, etc.) , you can make your own choices.

    If you want a cookie or ice cream you just have to account or it.

    It's like a budget. I get 26 points ( each food is assigned a point value)
    If I want to eat ice cream, I'm going to use up many more points than eating an apple or banana.
    In fact, fresh raw fruit has a zero point value.

    The main message at tonight's meeting was to record everything I eat daily! By doing that, you are supposed to become much more aware of what you are putting in your mouth. She said that in the course of a day, we often eat small things that we don't even realize.

    So, even if you pop 2 M and M's  in your mouth, even if you lick the spoon, or taste the soup you are preparing, you have to write it down .At the end of the day, you can really see how the little tastes of this and that you ate or polishing off the crust of your child's sandwich all add up and interfere with weight loss.

    Most of the people at the Weight Watchers meeting only had about 20 pounds to lose, and they were doing great. Everyone was saying how much better they feel with their weight loss of 10 pounds or 20 pounds ( so far) . There was one man there who had lost 100 pounds and was very very proud of his accomplishments ( he should be) . The leader said to focus on the reason you decided to come to the meeting and then think about it every time you want to snack.

    I received a booklet with the point values of a variety of foods as well as some suggested daily menus to get me started. I bought a little Plan and Track journal to record my food. ( or they give you a weekly paper one for free) .

    A few members who had been attending for a while and had had some weight loss, shared that recording what you eat every day so you are aware of what you are actually consuming was their key to success.

    So to sum it up -
    1. Record what you are eating and it's point value ( or you use calorie value)
    2. Don't guess the point value of a food- look it up then choose wisely. ( a brownie is 10 points- a banana is 0)
    3. Make a food plan- get rid of the junk in the house( yes, you will eat it)
    4. Carry healthy food with you in a baggy ( 10 almonds, or a hard boiled egg, a fruit, etc) when you will be out for a long time and become tired, hungry, or stressed. Be prepared.
    5. Stay focused on the reason that you wanted to come to Weight Watchers ( fit into my clothes that are way too tight, get ready for the beach, feel more comfortable, etc.) Staying focused on your reason for following a food plan will help. So what if it's a holiday or birthday, don't get into old habits. Choose wisely.
    6. Drink 6 -8 glasses on water daily
    7. Be aware of bad habits like eating when not hungry, or eating unconsciously, or finishing up the kids food, etc.

    My goal for this week:

    • Eat my allotted point value each day
    • record everything I eat 
    • plan my menus in advance so I know what I'm going to eat
    • be prepared when I go shopping or will be out by packing a low point snack ( banana? veggy sticks? a hard boiled egg? ) 
    • drink the encouraged 6-8 glasses of water a day
    • eat power foods ( real food as opposed to processed or prepared) 
    The lecturer stressed that it is important to know what you are going to eat in advance, otherwise you might just grab whatever is around when you are hungry, tired, or stressed out! That makes sense!

    My Sample Menu for Tomorrow: The Weight Watchers points are actually called Points Plus and personally my meals are all gluten free and vegetarian.  This overnight oatmeal is a timesaver and so delicious. 

                                          Click for recipe:  Weight Watchers Style overnight no cooking required oatmeal-

    Breakfast:  This oatmeal is creamy rich and delicious - No need to cook oatmeal. The overnight version is just assembled, put in the fridge overnight and it's ready in the morning.  Eat it cold like a parfait

    Overnight oatmeal , 1 add teaspoon of ground flax seeds, 6 berries   for a total of 5 Point Plus                         

    Large tossed salad ( cabbage, romaine, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, kale)                      0 Points Plus 
    1 TBSP. of flaxseed oil  and freshly squeezed lemon juice                                                3 Points Plus
    1/2 cup cooked chick peas                                                                                                   2 points Plus
    1 cup of my homemade vegetable soup (  Detox Soup)                                                    1 point Plus

             I make my salads in advance in Mason jars for the week in advance: see salad shortcuts 

    Snack: Celery sticks and 1/4 cup of humus                                                                         2 Points Plus

                                                                        Herbal Omelette 
    1 cup of my homemade vegetable soup ( is warm and filling)                                           1 Point Plus
    Herbal Omelette ( 2 eggs) with fat free feta cheese 1/4 cup                                                5 Points Plus
    chopped dill,  chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mint                                            0 Points Plus
    1 small sweet potato                                                                                                            3 Points Plus

    Snack:   3 cups of Air popped popped corn                                                                        3 Points Plus

    5 glasses of water throughout the day

    Total: 26 points plus

    I will be planning my meals all week and weighing in Next Tuesday. I'll keep you posted

    Read my other article : Lunch in a Jar

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