Category Archives: Vegetarian

Vegetarian Greek Lentil Soup

Since February is my birthday month and soup is one of my favorite foods, I am declaring February Soup Month.  Besides, it is usually the coldest month here in Denver, so why not warm yourself from the inside with some delicious soup.  So my blog this month will be devoted to yummy soups.  So, here we go.

This recipe came from talking with the girls at work.  The forecast was predicting a cold weekend and I wanted to make soup for the cold weather.  I talked with the girls at work and asked them what  their favorite soup were.  I got everything from clam chowder, butternut squash to a vote for this Greek lentil soup.   I just can’t fathom the thought of clam chowder with all its chewy clams.  Yuck!  I prefer not to have rubber bands in my soup.  Sorry Laurie.   It’s a texture thing for me.  I also wanted something more on the hardy side, since I wanted it to be the main course.  So, here is how the lentil soup recipe was born.  Also, an added bonus to this recipe is the feta.  I usually have it with chicken or on a salad, but why not venture into soup.  Here is the finished product, thanks Lisa for the inspiration.  Enjoy!

Yields: approximately 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown lentils (washed and picked over if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablespoons Greek Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or a little less if you’re not that into lemon)
  • crumbled Feta Cheese for serving (optional, but good)
  • pepper to taste

Directions:
1.  Place lentils in colander and rinse with cold water.

2.  In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat, saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
3.  Add chopped celery and carrots, cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

4.  Next add in lentils, vegetable broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
5.  Add in Greek seasoning, thyme, oregano and salt.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until lentils are soft.  You can adjust the stock after lentil are done depending on how thick you want the soup.

6.  Once lentils are done, remove from heat and stir in chopped spinach and lemon juice.

7.  Place servings into bowls, pepper to taste and top with crumbled feta.

Adapted from:  kalynskitchen

Baked Crispy Edamame

If your looking for an easy party appetizer or a great side dish, then here you go.  These soybeans baked under a Parmesan cheese crust, turn a basic frozen vegetable into a delicious snack.  Crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.  However; be warned, they are addictive.  If you are making these for a party, make them shortly before the party starts, or you may end up having to make another batch, because you can’t stop nibbling.  Another good tip to remember when making these delights is that toasted edamame are best when consumed on the day you roast them.  They tend to loose some of their crunch the next morning.  You can still eat them, but they may be more chewy than crispy.  When making this recipe, make sure edemame are dry before mixing with other ingredients.  I placed them on a clean dish towel and patted them dry.  Making sure they are completely dry helps them get that crispy crunch that is so delicious.

Edamame also pack in a healthy punch.  A 1/2 cup serving of shelled edamame contain as much fiber as 4 slices of whole wheat toast and 11 grams of protein.  Step over protein bars, say hello to the new delicious high protein snack.

note:  if you don’t have time for the edamame to thaw, you can speed up this process by pouring the edamame into a stainer and running it under warm water for a few seconds.  Then spread the edamame on a clean dish towel and pat until dry. 

Yield:  roughly 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 oz) package frozen shelled edamame (soybeans), thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Place edamame, olive oil and Parmesan cheese into medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir until all edamame are coated.

2.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, again stir.  Place edamame onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, in single layer.

3.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Stir edamame.  Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is crispy and golden.  

Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potato fries, but when I have made them in the past they never seemed to get crispy.  I ended up cooking them so long in attempt to get them to be crisp, that they ended up burnt.  I came across some recommendations that included soaking the potatoes before cooking them.  I decided I would give home-made sweet potato fries one more try.  With, this recipe I included a spicy dipping sauce to go along with it.  Sweet and spicy, delish.  Well, I have to say they turned out well.  Even my husband who usually is not a big fan of anything beside old white potato fries, ate them up.

Ingredients:

For Fries:

2 sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ziplock bag

For Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise ( I use Nayonaise, it’s a low fat vegetarian version.  A bit healthier)
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Directions:
     1.  Wash and peel sweet potatoes.  Cut potatoes into medium sized fries.  Not shoestring and not   steak fries, somewhere in between.
     2.  Place sweet potatoes in bowl of water and allow to soak for 1 1/2 hours.
     3.  Preheat oven to 425°

     4.  Put a tablespoon of cornstarch into medium sized ziplock bag.  Put half of sweet potato fries into ziplock back and close (leave some air in bag, allowing for fries to freely be tossed around). 
     5.  Shake fries until lightly coated w/cornstarch. Place coated fries onto nonstick cookie sheet.  
     6.  Repeat process until all fries are coated and placed on cookie sheet.

     7.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over fries, using hands toss fries to make sure all are coated with oil.
          * you can use more oil, depending on how healthy you would like them to be. The more oil you use the more crisp they will get.  But using 2 tablespoons, I was able to get them pretty darn crispy.
     8.  Arrange fries on cookie sheet, making sure there is space between each fry.  If the fries are too close, they tend to steam instead of getting crispy. 
     9.  Place into preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.
     10.  While fries are cooking, make the dipping sauce.  Mix mayonaise, Sriracha and cayenne pepper together in small bowl.  You can adjust the amount of Srirach and/or cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want it. 
     11.  After 15 minutes, check fries and flip over.  Cook another 5-10 minutes, watch closely so they don’t burn. 

Healthy Green Smoothie

After all my holiday eating and then having to getting ready for a fun New Years Eve party, I decided to come up with a healthy pre-party snack.  I wanted something quick, easy and good for me.  I hoped it would balance out the cocktails and food I would consume later in the night.  I came up with this smoothie on the fly.  So, hope you enjoy it and hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Years!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana chopped

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until thoroughly combined, about 2-3 minutes.  

**If you want a thicker smoothy either add more banana, which makes it a bit sweeter or you can add a few ice cubes.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

 
Now that Christmas has come and gone another year and I am totally “turkied” out, I was craving some type of vegetarian soup for dinner. Something easy to make, full of flavor and healthy.  I settled on this recipe since I had never made a red lentil soup before.  It was a perfect cold winter night dinner.  I have to admit it wasn’t the prettiest soup to take pictures of, but believe me it was delicious.  I will definitely be making this one again.  

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 (32-oz) container vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb. red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup raw barley, rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In large soup pot heat olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, saute over medium heat until onions transparent, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, except for salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a rapid boil, then decrease heat.  Cover and simmer until lentils are mushy, about 1 1/2 hours.  Stirring occasionally
  4. When lentils are done, remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. This soup thickens as it sits.  If you want a thinner soup, add more water as needed.

Adapted from:  VegKitchen

Quinoa “Veggie” Fried Rice

 Hello, delicious.  This recipe takes an old traditional recipe like fried rice and amps up the vegetables and substitutes the rice for quinoa.  It’s a great vegetarian dish that even my husband could love.  Also, this is one of the only times I will eat mushrooms in a meal.  For whatever reason mushrooms always taste a bit like dirt.  Sorry mushroom lovers of the world, they just do.  I’ve tried them fried, baked in butter, you name it and I have tried it in attempts to learn to tolerate mushrooms.  I decided when making this dish I would not omit them, realizing most of the world does not share my views.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this dish, including the mushrooms.  Maybe I will become a converted mushroom lover.  You never know stranger things have happened. 

Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Bragg’s liquid aminos, it’s much better for you)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • Sriracha sauce if desired

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Add beaten eggs and fry until cooked through.  Flipping only one time.  Allow eggs to cool before dicing into small pieces.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add remaining olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, saute for 4 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms, broccoli and zucchini.  Saute vegetables until tender, about 4 minutes.  Stirring constantly.
  4. Add corn, peas, carrot and quinoa.  Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add ginger and soy sauce, stir to combine.  Next add green onions and eggs, cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or Sriracha if desired and serve immediately.

Adapted from: damndelicious

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Well let me tell you I have attempted mashed cauliflower in the past and it did not turn out so well.  It was gritty, not creamy and lacked much of a flavor.  So, when I came across this recipe I was a little hesitant to attempt this side dish again.  But, considering cauliflower is my favorite vegetable,  I was determined to give it another chance.  This recipe was a hit.  It had a smooth texture and was loaded with delicious flavor.  So, if your looking for a healthy mashed potato alternative, give this a try.  Let me know if you think it was a good as my husband and I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into smaller pieces (florets only)
  • 1 (6 oz) container nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to boil.  Add cauliflower to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until florets are soft.
  2. Remove cauliflower from heat and drain in colander.  Place cauliflower in food processor, add Greek yogurt, butter, garlic and shallots.  Blend until creamy.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste or any seasoning of your choice and blend again. 
  4. Transfer mixture into serving bowl and mix in Parmesan cheese while still hot.  Garnish with scallions. 

Adapted from: sproutandpea

Italian Spaghetti Squash

This is a wonderful dish when your craving pasta, but are also watching your calories.  The flesh part of the spaghetti squash when removed, comes out in long strands, resembling the noodles from which its name comes from.  While eliminating calories by cutting out the pasta, you add a unique flavor and slight crispy crunch from the spaghetti squash.  These “noodles” are tossed with vegetables and feta cheese to bring this recipe to deliciousness.  You may add or substitute different vegetables, like zucchini or yellow squash if you prefer.  Serve this dish with a nice loaf of fresh warm bread  Considering all the carbs you cut by eliminating the pasta, you deserve it.

Servings:  4

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (about 3 Roma tomatoes) chopped
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes if desired

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with spoon. Place spaghetti squash, cut-sides down, on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only little resistance.  Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion to skillet and saute until tender, approximately 2 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. 

3.  Stir in tomatoes and black olives, cook only until tomatoes are warm. Remove from heat, add feta and basil, toss well. 

4.  Using a fork, scrape out insides of spaghetti squash and place in large bowl.  Add sauteed vegetables to spaghetti squash and mix well.

5.  Place servings in individual bowls, salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a fresh basil leaf and/or red pepper flakes.

Vegetable Quinoa w/Garbanzo Beans

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has made a name for itself within the health community over the past few years.  With its high protein content and unique texture, it has become a popular substitute for starchier rice and pasta.  It is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein, it also has the benefits of containing high amounts of iron, magnesium and fiber.  This grain is extremely versatile in its uses and simple to cook.  When cooking quinoa make sure to rinse it before using in your recipe.  Rinsing removes a natural coating quinoa has called saponin.  If left on, it can leave a bitter or soapy flavor to the grain.  Most boxed quinoa is pre-rinsed, but I always rinse it again, just to make sure.  So, go ahead and join the quinoa craze, it is deserving of all its praise.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 yellow squash chopped 
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped 
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro if desired.
  • Cayenne pepper if desired 

 Directions:

1.  Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water for 1 minutes.
2.  Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  
 

3.  In another pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Toss in garlic, zucchini, yellow squash and  onions. Saute veggies over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until desired level of tenderness reached. Then toss in garbanzo beans, tomatoes and lime juice.  Cook for 2 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.

4.  Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Fluff quinoa with fork and add to pan with vegetables.  Mix well.

5.  Sprinkle with cilantro if desired and/or a little cayenne pepper to spice things up a bit.

Fall Vegetable Curry

For those of you who like a meal packed with Indian flavors, this is the dish for you.  It is a quick, easy and delicious curry, that only requires 30 minutes of prep and cook time from start to finish.  Enjoy fall with this flavorful vegetarian dish, loaded with nutritious veggies.  It’s not really a spicy-hot flavor, so I added red pepper flakes to give it a little kick.  If you want more substance to add to the meal, try serving it over brown rice or basmati rice.

Yield: 4 (1 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • red pepper flakes, if desired

Directions:

1.  Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sweet potato and saute for 3 minutes.  Decrease heat to medium and add cauliflower, onion, curry powder and red pepper.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
2.  Add broth, salt, garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes, bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Stir occasionally.
3.  Dish into serving bowls, sprinkle with cilantro and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt.

Adapted from: Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2010