Mama's Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Another soup! I'm obsessed. But really, can you think of a better way to keep warm and nourished through this polar vortex of a winter we are having in the northeast? And I'm loving the healthy mileage I'm getting getting out of all the leftovers, which make for a perfect lunch, weeknight dinner, or freezer-friendly meal. 

This one comes from the kitchen of my Mama, who spent the weekend making her own vegetable broth (yay, Mom!) and stocking the fridge full of healthy, beautiful meals like this one. I'm definitely going to give this a go this week. My gluten and dairy-free friends will love this!

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Ingredients

3 lbs. red bell peppers, halved and cleaned (8-10)
5 cloves garlic, in peel
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tb. olive oil
2 large sprigs fresh thyme (1 Tb. leaves)
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. hot sauce
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
1-2 Tb. rice vinegar

Preparation

Half the peppers and remove all seeds and membranes. Press them flat with your hand and lay them on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Place the garlic cloves on the baking sheet.

Set the oven on broil and raise the rack to the upper position. Broil the red peppers and garlic for 15 minutes.

Once the skin has blackened, remove from the oven and place in a large zip bag to steam. (10 minutes)

Preheat a large pot to medium heat. Add the oil, thyme, bay leaves, and onions. Cook for 10 minutes, until onions are soft.

Add the broth, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the peels into the pot.

Then peel the charred skin off each pepper half and place it in the pot.

Reduce the heat, cover and cook another 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Then, using a hand-held immersion blender or standard blender, blend until smooth. *If using a blender, BE SURE TO remove the plug on the lid and cover with a kitchen towel—this with allow the heat to vent without a big mess!

Add the vinegar and salt again if needed.

Serve with extra thyme leaves or parsley

Recipe courtesy of: A Spicy Perspective

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Goals with Soul Soup: Leek, Potato, Parsnip and and Cauliflower

While I love the new year and all of the potential and possibility it brings, I'm not really one for resolutions. I'm more about doing some quiet soul searching, dreaming new dreams and setting heart-centered intentions than making categorical resolutions that imply that something about me or my life needs to be fixed, or solved.

This year I tried something I've never done before. It's called Desire Mapping. Sweet brainchild of the lovely Danielle LaPorte, Desire Mapping is all about uncovering your core desired feelings so that you can live in alignment with these feelings and create, as Laporte puts it, goals with soul. Her theory, and I wholeheartedly agree, is that when we create goals, it's not the goal we're really chasing. It's the feeling that we hope reaching that goal will give us. Yes! Desire Mapping helps you to identify your core desired feelings so that you can focus on enjoying the journey rather than waiting for the destination.

But, back to resolutions.  Many people make them and I get it. It's a chance at a fresh start. A chance to reinvent, redefine, re-engage. That's all very exciting. One of the most popular resolutions of all must be to get healthier, and that I cannot knock.

If one of your resolutions, and by resolutions I mean dreams, intentions, or goals with soul, is to be and to feel healthier this year, then I have just the recipe to get you started. Super easy, super clean, super healthy and super tasty. I made a huge pot on New Year's Day so that I could stash a few extra servings in my freezer to keep me warm and nourished over the next few weeks. Courtesy of Tosca Reno's Eat Clean book, enjoy!

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp best quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp coconut butter
2 yellow onions, peeled, coarsely chopped
4 leeks, trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise, coarsely chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets
5 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Preparation

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and coconut butter over medium heat. Add onions, leeks, parsnips and cauliflower and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. You may have to add a little extra olive oil.

Add cubed potatoes, garlic and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes or until all vegetables are uniformly tender.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup. Adjust flavor by adding sea salt and black pepper to taste.

**You can adjust the consistency of your soup by adding more or less stock, according to your preference.

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Cozy Root Veg Soup

One of my favourite things to do in the colder months is to make big pots of delicious, healthy soups. I love the process of making the soup, stirring over a hot pot of goodness on a cold winter afternoon or evening. And leftovers are perfect for the freezer, at-the-ready for a quick dose of healthy healing on a night when you don't have time to cook.

It's fun and easy to experiment with your own ingredients. I love using root vegetables for their grounding, comforting energy. Here's what I cooked up this week:

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Ingredients:

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled, diced
Small handful of fresh  herbs of your choice. I used sage, thyme and rosemary
A few shakes of hot chili flakes
Root vegetables of your choice. I used:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped
3 medium white potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled, chopped
Vegetable broth, enough to cover the vegetables
Dollop of goat cheese and sprig of rosemary for garnish

Preparation:

In large pot, heat coconut oil on high heat. Add onion and sauté for five minutes. Add carrots, celery, herbs and chili flakes and sauté until soft, about five minutes. Add root vegetables and sauté for another few minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until vegetables are very soft. For a chunkier soup, mash vegetables with  potato masher. For a smoother texture, purée with a hand blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve. Let the leftovers cool and then freeze in single or double portion containers.

Optional: Top with a dollop of goat cheese and sprig of rosemary.

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Grateful for pumpkin pie mousse!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in America and as an expat, it's one of my favourite holidays. A whole day in the middle of the week to eat, drink and be merry! I can't think of anything better.

Last night for dessert I added some thanksgiving flair to one of my favourite dessert recipes. I turned my usual chocolate mouse into pumkin pie mousse and it was the perfect end to a gorgeous day of gratitude. Super easy, super festive, super delicious, super dairy and gluten-free. If you're not pumpkined out yet this season, give this a whirl!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled + quartered

  • 1/2 cup 100% pure pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
 (NOTE: If you choose not to eat honey, substitute with your favorite natural vegan sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Chopped pistachios and a dash of cinnamon for garnish

Preparation: 

Put all the ingredients (except pistachios) in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer the pudding to individual ramekins, top with chopped pistachios. Refrigerate for one hour, serve and enjoy!

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Mushroom and Walnut Paté

With the holiday season approaching, chances are you'll be hosting a party, or tasked with bringing a dish to someone else's shindig. Keep things healthy (and delicious!) with this easy goodie, which can be made ahead of time and served right out of the fridge. 

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup walnuts
 ½ cup minced shallots
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms
4 oz. Cremini mushrooms
4 oz. Portobello mushrooms
Leaves from ¼ bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
 ½  tsp.  each of S&P

PREPARATION

Toast the walnuts in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes until you smell the aromas; or 5 min. in a toaster oven at 350 degrees. In a large sauté pan, cook shallots in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and coconut oil over medium heat until translucent. Add chopped mushrooms, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through.

Process toasted walnuts and remaining olive oil in a food processor until mixture forms a thick paste. Add in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until it forms the texture of pate. Pack mixture into well-oiled ramekins or bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Serve with toasted whole grain baguette or crackers of your choice.

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Roasted butternut squash hummus

All hail butternut squash! I love this winter veg. It's great in soups, salads, risottos, and even on its own, roasted and mashed with some garlic. I adapted this recipe from food52 and served it at our Samana Social a few weeks ago. A nice alternative to traditional hummus, which, although still number one in my books, is often overdone as a healthy party food.
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Ingredients

  • pounds butternut squash
  • cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • heads garlic, separated into cloves and peeled (about 1⁄2 cup cloves)
  • 2 or 3 serrano peppers, sliced in half, stems and seeds removed
  • 1/4cup tahini
  • tablespoons lemon juice
  • Cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Rub flesh with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 generous pinches salt. Place squash cut side down in roasting pan and bake until very soft, about 1 hour.

While squash is baking, place garlic, serranos, and remaining olive oil in a small pot over very low heat. Poach garlic and peppers in oil until completely soft (30 to 40 minutes). Garlic should be very lightly browned.

Scoop out flesh from roasted squash and place in food processor. Add garlic-poaching olive oil, garlic, serranos, tahini and lemon juice. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Hummus texture will vary depending on squash variety and size; add up to 1⁄2 cup water until desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.

Garnish with optional pumpkin seeds and cilantro or parsley leaves. Serve with your choice of break or crackers.

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Sweet Potato and Spice Loaf

Last weekend we hosted the first-ever Samana Social, which brought together friends and friends-of-friends from around the city for an evening of yoga, bubbles and healthy nosh. We downward-dogged our way through some classic MJ and Wilson Phillips, popped a few corks, raised money for the No Kid Hungry Campaign and nibbled on scrumptious treats like this delightful (gluten-free, dairy-free) loaf. Not only was it a hit at the party, but I brought leftovers home and it's been serving me very well for breakfast, morning/afternoon snack or dessert. It's extra tasty topped with some coconut spread or hummus. Many thanks to The Nutrition Guru and the Chef for the creative and delightful recipe!

More Samana Social-inspired healthy recipes coming soon! But in the meantime, here's how you can bake up your own spice loaf at home.

 

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups of ground nuts (I used 1 cup of almonds, 1 cup of cashews)
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups grated sweet potato (skin included)
4 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tsp baking powder (choose gluten free baking powder if coeliac or highly sensitive to gluten)
1 tbsp vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp chai powder OR 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

PREPARATION

Pre heat oven to 350F.  Place ground nuts (you can grind them yourself in a food processor) in a large bowl and add coconut and grated sweet potato.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Add the oil to the eggs and whisk lightly to incorporate. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl containing the oil and eggs and mix to combine.

Add this wet mixture to the dry bowl of nut flour and coconut. Stir with a wooden spoon to thoroughly combine. Pour mixture into a greased and lined loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave in tin to cool.

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