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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Sweet Corn and Quinoa Salad

Hot off the press! This simple early autumn salad appeared in my hometown newspaper, the Waterloo Chronicle, over the weekend. My parents gave it a go and said it was delicious, and my Dad reckons in could be even better with a few dried cranberries and almonds for an added crunch. It can also be served cold, so it's perfect for left overs, which makes this recipe a favourite in our "cook once, eat twice" books.

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Ingredients

Roasted tomatoes
2 cups of grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1/2 tsp coarse salt

Salad
1tsp avocado or coconut oil
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 shallot finely chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet corn kernels, cooked
3 cups spinach, torn into small pieces
3 cups cooked quinoa
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup asiago cheese, grated or finely chopped

Preparation

Cut tomatoes in half, mix with oil and salt, arrange on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

In large skillet, heat the oil and salt over medium heat.  Stir in the shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add corn, quinoa and cook until hot.  Add in the spinach and heat for one minute, until wilted.  Add in pumpkin seeds and asiago cheese and stir.  Spoon onto serving platter, put hot roasted tomatoes on top and serve

Serves 4.

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Summer Seabass with corn and heirloom salsa

Looking for to add some colourful seafood flare to your summer menu? Try this baby. You can substitute the seabass for any other white fish of your choice—even scallops!

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Ingredients

2 handfuls of baby heirloom tomatoes
Sea salt and pepper
2 fillets of seabass
3 tbsp coconut oil, divided
 ¼ cup corn
 ½ bell pepper
2 handfuls of mixed greens
Olive oil
 ½ lemon

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut ¾ of the baby heirloom tomatoes in half and place all tomatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside when finished.

Drizzle the seabass with 1 tbsp of coconut and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. In the meantime, heat the remaining coconut oil in a saucepan and sautée the corn and bell pepper for 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and sautée for 2 more minutes.

Place a handful of greens on each plate and drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Add the seabass to the greens and then top with the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Bon app!

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Avo on toast

This is one of my favourite healthy quick fixes! It's the perfect go-to for breakfast, lunch or a snack. You could also substitute crackers for the toast and transform this into an impressive tray of hors d'oeuvres. 

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Avocados are a natural wonder food. They are high in the good kind of fat and carry all sorts of great health benefits. They're rich in fiber, they help lower cholesterol and they have the highest protein of any fruit. Yes, avocados belong to the fruit, not the vegetable family! For more fun facts about avocados, click here.

Ingredients: 

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cubed
1/4 lemon
Dash of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt and pepper
2 pieces of whole wheat toast
1/2 radish, thinly sliced (optional)

Preparation: 

In a bowl, mash the cubed avocado into a chunky paste. Squeze the juice of the lemon on top and add the cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture onto the toast and garnish with the radish.

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Hold-the-wheat Buckwheat salad

Up for experimenting with a new grain? Try buckwheat! Despite it's misleading name, buckwheat, which also goes by Kasha, contains no wheat at all—it's actually a relative of rhubarb!—so it's a perfect staple for a gluten-free diet.

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Buckwheat takes more time than its other grain compadres to travel through your digestive tract, making it very filling and fit for a hearty meal. It stabilizes blood sugar, strengthens the kidneys, benefits circulation and is rich in vitamin E and B-complex vitamins.

Put on your creative hat because the possibilities for ways to enjoy buckwheat are endless. It makes for a delicious porridge in the morning, a great sidekick to a main meal, or can be the star of the show. The other night I used it to sup up a summer salad. Here's how:

Ingredients

1/2 cup buckwheat
1 cup of water
Greens of your choice
Veggies of your choice (I used roasted beets, carrots, avocado, peppers and blanched peas and asparagus)
Drizzle of olive oil
Squeeze of lemon
Salt (unrefined!) and pepper to taste

Preparation

Bring the buckwheat and water to a boil and let simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or cook according to package directions. Fluff with a fork, set aside and let cool. 

Add the buckwheat to your washed greens and veggies, add olive oil, lemon, S&P, toss and enjoy! 

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