French Onion Soup – Healthy & Plant-Based

Plant Based French Onion Soup by Produce with Amy“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~William Wordsworth

What is there not to love about the above quote? As an English teacher and writer I try to encourage my students to tell their stories. This year my 9th grade students are so reluctant to write that first line. They sit paralyzed in their desks with looks of alarm on their faces. I try to coax them — sometimes quietly – and sometimes in passionate-crazy-English-teacher fashion to allow their hearts to lead them.

I think that the same can be said about cooking (just replace the word paper in the quote with stock pot, bowl, or plate). When I became a Weight Watchers leader I was surprised to learn how many people are reluctant cooks. I love being able to help provide my members, and readers of my blog, with an array of new food finds and recipes.

For my regular readers, I apologize that I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. Life is busy and it is a challenge in the beginning of the school year to find energy to do anything but work, eat, and sleep. In fact, my healthy goals for the beginning of the school year have been nutrition, drinking plenty of water, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.  Luckily, I get in a lot of movement at work, but in the coming weeks I will be trying to add in more formal exercise.

Last week I started a new novel with my 9th grade students. We are reading Starved by Michael Somers. Somer’s novel details the story of Nathan Thomas who faces stress from school and his family life and develops an eating disorder. I think it is an important topic to discuss with teenagers and as I guide them through the novel, I anticipate many conversations.  In fact, this weekend the assignment was for my students to identify five healthy activities that one can engage in to manage stress. I look forward to seeing their responses tomorrow. As we brainstormed in class I loved hearing about how they love to hike outside and enjoy nature, go fishing, listen to music, and draw. It made my heart joyful when several shared that they enjoy writing when they feel overwhelmed emotionally. I hope that I can help them develop healthy ways to cope with stress at a young age.

My students were excited when I informed them that Mike Somers would be visiting us this year at our high school. What an exciting opportunity it is for them to be face-to-face with an author and be able to ask questions about the creative process. Especially an author that wrote a compelling book that addresses the overwhelming issues of self-concept, identity, and how to find control and balance in our stress filled lives.

For me, part of the way that I deal with stress is to make sure that I am fueling my body with the proper nutrition. Therefore, this blogging adventure has been therapeutic in helping with the stresses of work and my personal life. I really struggled this summer after my beautiful aunt Bev passed away suddenly in June. While I did not share as many recipes as I would have liked, the constant flow of comments and messages from readers who enjoy my recipes kept my spirits up.
BEVolution of Kindness

My aunt owned a supper club,  Bev’s Supper Club, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She was an incredible woman and I will always struggle with the reality of her death.  I spoke at her funeral and shared how I was not ready to say goodbye to Bev. She was my babysitter when I was a little girl and I looked up to her and loved her. I asked all present at her memorial to please commit an act of kindness in Bev’s memory. I started a Facebook page called BEVolution of Kindness and I am thrilled that the kindness campaign is still moving. I also started a FB group that is currently 230 members strong and I hope the numbers continue to grow in the coming months. Please consider joining. You do not need to have known Bev to participate. All it takes is a kind heart and the desire to make a difference in the world. What I am asking people to do is commit an act of kindness and to pass along a BEVolution card to the next person (who in turn passes on the card etc.). My hope is that people find their way to the Facebook group and page and share their story and location that the act of kindness occurred.

Here is a link if you are interested in printing off BEVolution cards:Printable BEVolution Cards

Today’s blog post is in memory of Bev. My aunt’s baked French Onion Soup was enjoyed by her customers and was nearly world-famous (or U.P. famous).

My version of this classic soup is plant-based and was made in the crock-pot. A woman who I chatted with in line at the supermarket suggested that making a flavorful French onion soup without butter or beef broth was impossible. Not only do I think that I nailed this recipe – but I also managed to add crusty bread with plant-based cheese that came out bubbly and browned from the broiler.

Fresh herbs from my garden. I think that the secret to a rich French onion soup is caramelizing the onions and slow-cooking it with a variety of herbs. You do not need butter to caramelize onions – your favorite cooking oil will do the trick. I like to use coconut oil or olive oil – and if you do not have fresh herbs, dried will work.

Since my husband would be eating this soup I made a large batch so you may want to reduce it in half (but I promise you will not regret making a large batch if it is only you eating this soup…it is the perfect, healthy, comfort food).
Plant Based French Onion Soup by Produce with Amy

PLANT-BASED FRENCH ONION SOUP

*8 cups of vegetable stock
*Optional – 1 cup of red wine
*8 medium sliced onions
*4 minced garlic cloves
*2 sprigs of rosemary (2 teaspoons dried)
*2 clusters of sage (2 teaspoons dried)
*6 strands of chives (2 teaspoons dried)
*1/2 cup of parsley (2 teaspoons dried)
(I do not chop the fresh herbs but tie them in a bunch with string and add them to the soup)
*3 Tablespoons of your favorite cooking oil
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Loaf of crusty bread
*Swiss cheese (I used Daiya Swiss Style Slices non-dairy cheese. I highly recommend this product…it was perfect for this soup)

A steaming bowl of soup is the perfect comfort day for a crisp Autumn day. Divide up the cooking oil and onions in three batches and cook on low heat. Add a little salt to the onions and cook until brown and caramelized. Saute the minced garlic with the last batch of onions. Add the onions, garlic, herbs, and broth to the crock-pot. Cook on high for four hours (times may vary according to your slow cooker.  This soup could be also be made on the stove top and I would recommend cooking it on low for a few hours).

Serve the soup hot and top with toasted bread. Slice the bread, top with cheese, and allow to brown under the broiler. You can also make garlic toast and forgo the cheese if you are trying to save calories. Last week I spread olive tapenade on my garlic toast for my soup since I did not buy the Daiya non-dairy cheese until the weekend.
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Printable recipe:PLANT BASED FRENCH ONION SOUP

Pin it HERE.

Make sure you check out my other soup recipes.

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Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. As cold and flu season makes its ugly rounds this time of year it is important to fortify our immune systems with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Your body and health will thank you.
Plant Based Onion SoupI hope you enjoy this soup recipe that I am sharing in memory of my sweet auntie. There is nothing quite as comforting as a bowl of healthy soup. My aunt welcomed people into her restaurant as if it was her own home. She was known for her infectious laughter, warm personality, and her heart-of-gold. I am certain that if there were more people like Bev in the world – it would be a much kinder, gentle, and joyous place. I hope you will consider joining the BEVolution of Kindness that I started to honor her spirit of compassion. Thank you!

BEVolution of Kindness

 

Chilled Green Soup – A Summer Staple

Raw - Chilled Green Soup by Produce with Amy“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child

Often I am told that I am fortunate to be married to a man who is flexible with meals and will eat anything that I cook. While I do often prepare a different dinner for each of us (since he does eat meat and I do not) Mike does enjoy eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables. He will try anything that I make and loves to eat healthy. I agree that I am lucky –  but his eating habits are one of the reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place. Right from our first few conversations I could tell that he cared about nutrition and fitness. When we first started dating he purchased a cookbook (which just so happened to be a Weight Watchers cookbook) and we would select dinners from it to prepare together.

VitamixTwo summers ago when Mike and I invested in a Vitamix blender, I had a marvelous time experimenting with different recipes. One of our favorite summer recipes is a raw, cold, green soup. I suppose it could be called a green gazpacho – or a savory green smoothie – and I never make it the same way twice. I love to add whatever produce that we have on hand and toss in a variety of fresh herbs from our garden. The result is a refreshing, filling, and healthy soup that serves as a great lunch or opening course for dinner. I normally make a bowl for each of us but I think that one could make a large batch of this soup and it would keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Not only are cold soups refreshing on a warm summer day but there are loads of health benefits from eating raw vegetables. One of the advantages of blending greens is that the blender breaks down the cell walls of the kale and spinach and the nutrients are easily absorbed by our body. In my Weight Watchers meetings we are always discussing new ways to consume more fruit and vegetables and a cold soup is a light and delicious way to do so.

In this post I will share the recipe for the soup that I made for tonight’s dinner so you can create it yourself or tweak the recipe based on your personal tastes and what you have on hand.

Produce

CHILLED GREEN SOUP
(Makes 2 bowls.  Approximately 3 cups)

*2 cups of fresh spinach
*3 large kale leaves
*1 cup of vegetable broth (I have also used water)
*Juice and zest of one lime (lemon works well too. If you are using bottled citrus juice, use 1/4 cup)
*1/2 cup of fresh cilantro (chop and reserve 1/2 for garnish)Garnish
*1 cucumber (chop 1/2 into small pieces and reserve to add to soup after blending)
*1 avocado (cube 1/2 and reserve to the soup after blending)
*1 medium tomato
*1 seeded jalapeno
*1 carrot
*1 red bell pepper (you can also use orange, yellow, or green)
*1 clove of garlic
*1 Tablespoon of onion
*1 Tablespoon of fresh chives (optional. Since I have chives in my garden I add them to everything in the summer)
*Pinch of salt and pepper
*Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
*Optional – if you are eating this soup as a main course you can add raw nuts or beans to the top for protein

Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend until all ingredients are smooth. I have a high power Vitamix blender and do a quick blend for 45 seconds.

Pour the soup in a bowl (if my ingredients are room temperature I like to let the soup chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before serving). Add the cucumber, bell pepper, avocado to the top and drizzle with olive oil. I also like to sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt. The color will be bright green and beautiful and it tastes as fresh as it looks.

Printable recipe: CHILLED GREEN SOUP by Produce with Amy

Pin the recipe HERE.

Raw Green Soup by Produce with Amy

Chilled Green Soup by Produce with Amy

Cold soup is so simple to make and it is a great way to add more vegetables to your meal plan.  Please let me know if you are interested and I will gladly come up with more flavor combinations. Think about a raw tomato, spinach, and basil soup with grilled corn added after blending. How about turnip greens with avocado, cucumber, and marinated mushrooms? Or spinach and garden peas with fresh mint and dill? Maybe you have a favorite cold soup combination that you would like to share!

Over the next couple days I will be sharing weekly recipes and shopping lists for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. My hope is to have the recipes posted this weekend so that you can be prepared. You can use my recipes, or come up with your own. The goal will be to try to drink at least one green smoothie a day (Mike and I will be drinking ours for breakfast). If you are new to green smoothies you may want to check out my post from last January: New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge.

We can keep each other updated on our favorite green smoothie combinations during August so please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like”. I will create a hashtag on Instagram too. In the meantime, please sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter and thank you for joining me on the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Cheers to our health!

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Creamy Asparagus Soup ~ 100% Plant-Based

Creamy Asparagus Soup by Produce with Amy“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.” 
― Marty Rubin

Dare I be bold enough to say that spring has arrived? Yesterday was Easter Sunday and Mike and I stole outside to walk our dog Phoebe. We remembered to go slow. Last year, in our exuberance, we pushed her too fast and too far. Her poor little hips and legs grew sore and she limped around for a couple of days. This year we made a promise to acclimate her muscles slowly with short loops around our neighborhood until she can manage longer walks.

After a long winter, we cannot help but feel the symptoms of cabin fever. Even our indoor cats jumped from window-to-window yesterday to watch the birds and feel the warm breeze on their fur.

To add to the delight, my flowers are already starting to wake-up. Shoots of tiger lilies, tulips, poppies, and bleeding hearts are starting to inch forward and tingle with life. Of course, I had my camera ready to document their growth.
Spring GrowthI wanted to make a spring dish that I could enjoy all week so I decided to make asparagus

I use my Vitamix blender to puree the cauliflower and white beans.

I use my Vitamix blender to puree the cauliflower and white beans.

soup. This soup gets its creamy body from a puree of white beans and roasted cauliflower, It was simple to assemble and tastes delicious and satisfying. Plus, the protein from the white beans makes it especially filling. If you are a Weight Watchers member, an added benefit is that it is composed of 100% Power Foods and works well with Simple Start and the Simply Filling Technique.

I always make a large batch of soup to eat for the entire week (with several servings to freeze). If you do not want as much soup you may want to cut the recipe in half.

CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP

  • 8 cups of vegetable  broth
  • 2 cups of roasted cauliflower (I cut the head in pieces, drizzled with melted coconut oil, spread on a baking sheet, and roasted at 450 for 30 minutes. Flip at the 15 minute mark. You could use all of the cauliflower in the soup but I reserved some to eat on salads or as a side with dinner this week)
  • 2 cups of white beans
  • 1 bunch of chopped asparagus (discard the woody ends)
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your oil of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the cauliflower and bean pureeSaute the onion, celery, and garlic in coconut oil until soft. Puree the cauliflower and white beans in a blender with a couple of cups of the vegetable stock until silky smooth. You can puree the onion, celery, and garlic too but I like to leave them whole.

Add the vegetable stock and the pureed mixture to the sautéed ingredients. Bring to a boil.

Add the chopped asparagus and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

If you prefer the asparagus to be a bit crisp, once the soup comes to a boil remove it from the heat and add the asparagus. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy.

Broccoli or kale would be a healthy addition to this soup and it would be lovely served with a fresh drizzle of lemon juice, lemon zest, and even fresh dill.

Printable recipe: CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP

Creamy Asparagus Soup

If you like this soup you may want to check out my other soup recipes.

Please make sure you stop by my Facebook page, sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow my posts on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. We are worth the time and energy that it takes to prepare a healthy meal. 

Creamy Asparagus Soup for Spring

Asparagus

Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale & Green Chilies ~ Plant-Based Comfort Food

Creamy White Bean Soup with Green Chilies & Kale by Produce with Amy

“The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only.”
-Joseph Wood Krutch
Last night I peered out the window countless times in a transfixed state of both awe and horror. I was stunned by the beauty of giant, lacy flakes falling from the sky, but at the same time disenchanted that March has nearly come and gone and there are yet to be signs of spring in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In fact, our spring holiday (in the school district that I am a teacher) was extended by a day ~ with today heralding in a snow day. I have lost track of how many we have this year.
Winter WonderlandTrying to remind myself how thankful I was for a warm house and a job that keeps me off treacherous roads on most stormy days, I remembered that this is not the longest winter in human memory (even though it may feel like it). A message from my mom did inspire hope. Five days ago she planted tomatoes in her sun room and they have begun to sprout already. Summer will be here soon and the earth will awaken in green glory.

Our Street Decked Out in Spring Snow This Morning

Our Street Decked Out in Spring Snow This Morning

With winter’s chill still upon us, I figured that today was the perfect time to post a soup recipe. When I created this recipe I was craving a creamy soup so I decided to add body and creaminess to the broth with pureed beans. It is very rustic with pieces of kale, but so silky that it is refined and elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. Green chilies and Rotel tomatoes give it a little heat and the end result is a bowl of healthy comfort food.

When I make soup I make a HUGE batch so I can freeze and have a constant rotation on soup on hand. This recipe makes 14 cups so you may want to reduce the ingredients if you do not want a large amount of soup.

CREAMY WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH KALE & GREEN CHILIESWhite Bean Soup

  • 6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 6 cups of white beans (I cook my own from dried)
  • 4 cups of kale (I roughly tore the leaves)
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • 10 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes (fire roasted tomatoes would also work well)
  • 14 ounce can of green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your cooking oil of choice)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro 
  • 1 lime cut in wedges
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic, and celery in the coconut oil in a large stock pot. I like to keep these ingredients whole because I like the chunks in the soup but if you prefer the soup to be completely creamy you can puree the onion, garlic, and celery with the beans.

Puree the beans in the blender with a couple cups of the vegetable stock. Add all the stock and pureed beans to the pot. Add the Rotel tomatoes, the green chilies, the coriander, and cumin and bring to a boil. Turn off soup and add the kale. I wanted the kale to still have a slight crunch and be lightly cooked so its nutritional value was not destroyed.

Finish with chopped cilantro and a fresh squeeze of lime before serving.

Printable recipe: Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Green Chilies

This soup was filling and full of flavor. I loved the addition of kale.

This soup was filling and full of flavor. I loved the addition of kale.

Plant-Based Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale, Green Chilis, and Tomatoes

Creamy Bean Soup

 

I enjoyed the soup so much that I photographed it twice.

I enjoyed the soup so much that I photographed it twice.

Soup is such a satisfying and healthy way to add variety and bulk up our meals. If you are familiar with my blog you know that I make a large batch of soup every weekend. If you are interested in other recipes, make sure you check out my Soup tab.

Make sure that you stop by my Facebook page, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest,Twitter, and Tumblr. I will be sharing at least one new recipe a day this week since I will be home on spring holiday. Let me know if you try this soup recipe or any of my other recipes. I am thrilled to be able to share my passion for creating healthy and delicious recipes with you. Thanks for joining me on my journey to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Cheers to thriving together.
Birdfeeder and Birches

 

 

Hot & Sour Soup ~ Plant-Based Comfort Food

Plant-Based Hot & Sour Soup by Produce with Amy“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” 
― Thich Nhat Hanh

My Mason Jar Salad Prep

My Mason Jar Salad Prep

Time. There never seems to be enough, but I do make sure to cherish every moment. I am determined to not let the daylight savings time change derail my schedule. My meal prep for the week is finished and I have had a productive weekend. Yet, I still feel that Sunday anxiety creeping into my path. I am very behind in posting recipes so I decided that today’s posts will be short and sweet. While I love to reflect and ruminate, I am sure that many will appreciate it when I get right to the point and share the recipe.

Mason Jar Salads by Produce with Amy

Top: Dijon dressing, cucumbers, carrots, radish, bell peppers, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce. Bottom: Waldorf Inspired Slaw (recipe under salad tab)

While I love sharing recipes for Mason Jar Salads (make sure you check out my salad tab at the top of page) one of my other passions is soup (make sure you check out my soup tab as well).

A couple of weeks ago I was craving Hot & Sour Soup so I decided to come up with a plant-based version. It turned out fabulous and I had to share it with you. It is filling, spicy, and since it is homemade you can tweak it to fit your own personal taste. I always love to make a large batch of soup each week and I freeze a few portions to grab for a quick-lunch or side to dinner when I am busy.

IngredientsHOT & SOUR SOUP

  • 6-8 cups of vegetable stock (I used six cups of stock and next time I will use eight for a more “brothy” soup)
  • 8 ounce package of fresh mushrooms
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped (you could substitute a small onion or bunch of green onions)
  • 1 package of dried shiitake mushrooms (reconstitute with hot water. The package that I used rendered 8 ounces when hydrated. I purchased dried shiitake mushrooms in the produce section by the regular mushrooms.)
  • 1 can of bamboo shoots
  • 1 cup of cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil (you could also use coconut oil or your cooking oil of choice)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce would work as a substitution)
  • Chili garlic sauce (to taste. I used two Tablespoons because I like my soup extra spicy. I found this sauce at Target)
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Saute the leek (or onion), garlic, celery, and carrots in the sesame oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and lightly saute for approximately ten minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for thirty minutes. Before serving add a dash of rice vinegar, sesame oil (I highly recommend sesame oil since it imparts so much flavor), tamari, and chopped cilantro. Makes approximately 10 cups.

Printable recipe: Hot & Sour Soup

Hot and Sour SoupThis soup really hit the spot and I will be making it again soon. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please make sure to stop by my Facebook page and feel free to share my recipes. I love hearing that others are enjoying my creations. Remember to breathe deep this week and savor every moment. I hope my blog helps you maximize a healthy lifestyle and makes a difference in your week.

Our Cavalier King Charles Phoebe is my photo assistant.

Our Cavalier King Charles Phoebe is my photo assistant.

Hot and Sour Soup by Produce with Amy

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots ~ Plant-Based

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots by Produce with Amy“Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to what they want to do.” 
–Kathleen Winsor

This morning, as every day, I woke up with a list of things that I wanted to accomplish. At about noon, I felt my regular Sunday anxiety start to multiply. No matter how productive I am, I get that sick feeling in my stomach that I did not do enough. When this happens, I remind myself to breathe. I take a few deep, cleansing breaths and remind myself how fortunate I am to have a teaching career that I love. I might not get to the bottom of the mountain of papers I hauled home and my house and closets may not be fit for a magazine spread, but I am doing the best that I can. While the temperatures dip outside I have a cozy home that I am able to keep warm, a kitchen full of nourishing food, and my health is currently strong. Being thankful for what we have always sheds some perspective on stress and makes it seems less significant.

The fact that I have a food blog is proof that I have made many lifestyle changes. In January of 2013, I decided that I wanted to make time for my own writing and share some of my recipe ideas. While the entire process of coming up with a recipe, cooking, documenting with photos, selecting photos, and writing is time-consuming ~ it is worth all the labor. I feel a burst of elation every time that I hit publish because it is a reminder that I am making time to pursue my passion. That said, I have many recipes waiting in the wings to share. Therefore, I am going to make this post short and sweet so I can share a couple of recipes today.

You know from previous posts that soup is a weekly staple in our house. My husband Mike and I each have a cup with dinner. It bulks up a meal and allows us to have a smaller portion of our entrée. As a Weight Watchers leader I encourage my members to make soups that are full of Power Foods. The cauliflower soup recipe that I am sharing today works perfectly with Simple Start or the Simply Filling Technique.

I decided to roast the cauliflower first to make the flavor more robust. I cut one large head of cauliflower into florets and drizzled with the following mixture:

*2 Tablespoons coconut oil
*2 Tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce would also work)
*I Tablespoon Dijon mustard
*1 Tablespoon minced garlic
*1 teaspoon cumin

I roasted the cauliflower for 60 minutes at 350 (I flipped the cauliflower at 30 minutes). (Normally, I roast vegetables at 450 for a shorter amount of time but I had bread baking at the time that needed the oven to be at 350)
Roasted Cauliflower

Words cannot even explain how amazing the house smelled from the roasted cauliflower. It would serve as an incredible side dish and I really regretted not buying two heads of cauliflower. 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH SWEET PEPPERS AND CARROTS

  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your cooking oil of choice)
  • 1 head of roasted cauliflower
  • 3 small red bell peppers (or 2 large)
  • 5 peeled carrots
  • 1 seeded fresh jalapeno
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the celery, garlic, and onion in the coconut oil until soft. Reserve and put in a separate container (When I make pureed soups I often like the texture of the celery and onion so I add it to the soup after blending. If you want your soup to be completely smooth you may add all the other ingredients right to sautéed celery, onion, and garlic).

One nice thing about pureed soups is that you do not have to chop the vegetables into small pieces.

One nice thing about pureed soups is that you do not have to chop the vegetables into small pieces.

In the same pot add the rest of the ingredients (except the cauliflower). Bring to a boil and cook approximately thirty minutes until the carrots and peppers are soft. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower to the blender and pour in the pepper and carrot mixture. Puree until smooth. Add the puree along with the reserved celery, onion, and garlic. Heat and serve. Makes approximately ten cups of soup.

Printable Recipe:Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots

Pin it HERE.

I did add the cauliflower to the mixture but next time I will add it directly to the blender since it is already cooked.

I did add the cauliflower to the mixture but next time I will add it directly to the blender since it is already cooked.

You may also decide to roast the peppers and the carrots with the cauliflower (which would reduce the cooking time of the soup and enhance the taste of both).

The color of the soup is vibrant and I think that the flavors really combined well together. It is rich and creamy and I think that if you served it at a dinner party your guests would be shocked that it is healthy and 100% plant-based. It tastes indulgent, comforting, and satisfying.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I have enjoyed sharing the recipe with you. Make sure that you check out my other soup recipes. I would love it if you stopped by my Facebook page and please feel free to share my recipes. Together we can embrace a healthy lifestyle that is full of fresh produce. Check back often. In the coming days I will be sharing my plant-based version of a Hot & Sour Soup, a Mushroom Stroganoff, and more jarred salad recipes. Remember to stop and breathe when you are busy and I wish you a productive and powerful week!

Roasted Cauliflower by Produce with Amy

Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup ~ Plant-Based Comfort Food

Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup by Produce with AmyGet people back into the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food. ~ Andrew Weil

I have a confession to make. Ever since I switched to plant-based meals, I sometimes find myself in a food rut. Yes, I probably eat a wider range of foods now than I did before, but I find myself sometimes craving old favorites. While I would love my new lifestyle to be uncomplicated, at times it is not.

The story of why I choose plants over meat is multi-layered. My mom said she always knew that I would be a vegetarian when I was growing up because I always favored vegetables. In college I dabbled with meatless meals and found that I really did not miss meat. Approximately four years ago I decided to give up meat again and I found my life transforming.

My decision was based on a number of factors. After my husband Mike suffered a brain hemorrhage I started to re-evaluate what I was putting into our shopping cart. I started to purchase local and organic meat from our community food co-op. However, when Mike went back to school full-time, we could not swing the heftier price tag of organic poultry and grass-fed beef. At this time it was an easy choice for me to stop eating meat. Basic economics coupled with my compassion for animals made this the right choice. I feel that there is already so much suffering in the world and I do not want my meals to contribute to any more pain. The shift was easy since I had been leaning this way for a long time and out pocketbook gave me the nudge I needed.

To any meat eaters reading my blog, I promise you that it is not my purpose to try to convert you to only eating plants. However, as I tell my Weight Watchers members, I challenge you to seek out Vegan and vegetarian recipes because these recipes will maximize protein and nutrients. Many of my members incorporate a few meatless meals a week into their meal plan and find it helps both their grocery budget and their waist lines.

While I choose to eat mainly plants (I do on occasion have a free-range organic egg, a small amount of cheese, and every few months a piece of fish) my husband is a meat eater (though he is open to meatless meals). In fact, I roast a chicken for his weekday sandwiches each weekend.

I promise you that I will not pass judgement if your lifestyle is different from mine. We all have our own belief system and do what we believe is best. My goal for my blog is to reach out to others who also want to eat clean, non-processed food and learn more about nutrition and health. I thank you for taking the time to read my posts, to share my recipes, and for sharing your insights and recipe reviews.

Another goal that blogging achieves is that it is challenging me to come up with new recipes and avoid the food rut that I easily fall into. A couple of weeks ago I felt a craving set in for one of my favorite foods from years ago.

If you are from the Marquette area, chances are that you have had the Chicken Avgolemono Soup at Vango’s Pizza and Cocktail Lounge. (If you are in the area I highly recommend this restaurant. It is one of the few original “mom and pop” restaurants left in the area.) I worked at Vango’s for over seven years and during that time I lived on that spectacular soup. Even as I type this I can perfectly picture a vegetarian gyro with a steaming bowl of Avgolemono. Okay, maybe a few waffle fries too 😉 So I decided to come up with a plant-based version that would help satisfy my longing for the Greek soup.

When I started to create this soup I remembered when my WW receptionist Gini told me that her daughter uses beans to thicken soup. Since I did not want to use egg for this recipe, I decided to puree white beans and add it to the soup and it worked like a charm. If you like lemon and dill, I think you will enjoy this bowl of healthy comfort food. In fact, I think I will have to make another batch this weekend.

Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup
CREAMY LEMON & DILL SOUP (Printable recipe below)

    • 4 cups of vegetable stockCreamy Lemon & Dill Soup
    • 3 ribs of chopped celery
    • 3 lemons ~juice and zest (I really like lemon and this did turn out lemony. You may want to reduce the amount of lemon based on your personal taste)
    • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 3 cups of cooked white beans
    • 1 small, chopped onion
    • 1 clove of minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup of fresh, chopped parsley
    • 1/2 cup of fresh, chopped dill
    • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the celery, onion, garlic, and carrots in the coconut oil until soft. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Put the beans in a blender with a cup or two of the vegetable stock from the pot. Blend until silky smooth. Add the white bean puree to the soup pot. Add the lemon zest and juice, the parsley, and dill. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

*Makes 10 cups

Printable Recipe ~ Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup

Pin this post HERE.

One of the ways that I enjoy this soup is with a generous drizzle of hot sauce. One night I added chunks of oregano roasted potatoes to the soup and partnered it with a salad and it became a filling dinner.  Other additions could include pasta (orzo or whole wheat pasta) and if you eat meat you could add chicken (though I think you will find it delicious without).
Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup

I hope you enjoy this recipe. You may also be interested in the others found on my Soup tab. As always, if you try this recipe, I would love to know what you think. Please stop by my Facebook page, leave a comment on this page, or send me an email and let me know how you found my blog. I am always fascinated with social networking and how our connections allow our journeys to intersect.

Together we can bring back the importance of the kitchen into our daily lives and release our reliance on heavily processed food. We will find that it is not difficult to prepare wholesome, nutritious food and live up to our healthy potential. Thank you for your support and inspiration. I promise to keep sharing so we can thrive together!

Cabbage Soup ~ Wholesome, Plant-Based, and Weight Watchers Friendly

Weight Watchers Friendly Cabbage Soup

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”-Andy Goldsworthy

It would be a lie if I said that I did not do a jubilant snow-day-dance in my kitchen this morning when I got the call that school was cancelled due to inclement weather. I tapped on the window and mouthed the words to Mike, “SNOW DAY.” It may have been an act of unkindness considering the fact that he was brushing my Jeep off at the time. He scowled up his face in mock disgust. About forty-five minutes later he was headed out the door to work. He grabbed his Arctic Carhartts, planted a kiss on my mouth, and left the house with a smile plastered on his face from ear-to-ear. Mike is so thankful to be employed right now and loves his new job. We are so fortunate and will never take for granted the opportunities that we are given or our network of support. Last year at this time Mike was a full-time college student and we were stressed about our finances. It feels wonderful to have two incomes again and to be catching up on our bills.

Athena absorbing the snow day magic from her chair.

Athena absorbing the snow day magic from her chair.

This morning I enjoyed a silent house and the company of our furbabies. I had a bottomless cup of tea and felt my energy levels restore. While I spent my afternoon working on lesson plans (yes, a snow day really throws things out of whack) this morning I allowed myself to be steeped in the bliss of writing in my journal, yoga, and brainstorming future blogs.

Today’s recipe is one that I have been meaning to share for quite a long time. It is an old healthy favorite that my mom and I loved making when I was in high school and college. In fact, I talked to my mom today and she said she was getting ready to make a pot. I have seen recipes for many different versions over the years and this is a recipe that I often share with my Weight Watchers members.

I am going to share a basic recipe and you may decide to bulk it up with pasta or beans and flavor it with your favorite spices. You can also add other vegetables (I have added zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale or whatever I have on hand). When I ran it through the recipe builder it came out to 1 PP per cup but I do count it as 0 when I follow the Simple Filling Technique (even though juice is not a Power Food).
Cabbage Soup by Produce with AmyCABBAGE SOUP

*1 medium head of chopped cabbage
*1 medium chopped onion
*4 ribs of chopped celery
*3 chopped bell peppers (I use one green, one red, and one yellow. I really like the flavor that the bell peppers bring to the soup)
*2 cups of chopped carrots
*6 cups of tomato juice
(You may want to buy a low sodium version since tomato juice is often high in sodium. Sometimes I use 3 cans of tomato juice and 3 cans of vegetable stock depending what I have on hand. I especially love this soup with my mom’s “homemade” tomato juice from her garden tomatoes)
*2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon of coconut oil
(or your oil of choice)
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Lemon juice to taste
*Worcestershire sauce to taste
*Hot sauce 
(Optional. I recommend adding it to your cup or bowl before serving. If you like some heat you could also add a diced jalapeno pepper to the pot)

Sautee garlic, onion and celery until soft and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 45-60 minutes.

Printable Recipe: Cabbage Soup

That is it. It is a simple and versatile soup and it is packed with flavor and nutrients. While it is wonderful hot, I must say that I even enjoy it cold (similar to a gazpacho). One of my WW friends, Linda, tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and she said she swapped out the tomato juice for fire-roasted tomatoes. One of my other friends Theresa said that she loves to have a cup of vegetable soup at night for a filling and healthy snack.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and please share your feedback. I always love to hear the tweaks and additions that people make to dishes to suit their tastes. If you are interested in other soup recipes, please check out my Soups tab.

Pin recipe HERE.

Have a wonderful and healthy week my friends and thank you for sharing my recipes with the world. Make sure you find my page on Facebook and stay tuned for more fruit and vegetable filled dishes. In the next couple days I will be sharing a new Mason Jar Salad that features blue/purple fruit and vegetables and a homemade tangerine dressing made two ways. Thank you for sharing this journey with me!
Cabbage Soup for Your Health

Cabbage Soup for a Cold Day

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

As a Weight Watchers leader I often encourage my members to experiment with vegetarian or Vegan recipes. Not only do those who practice a plant-based diet know how to find alternative and filling sources of protein, but often plant-based recipes use healthy spices and herbs for flavor.This chili recipe is one that I have shared with my WW members for years and I always mention, that if desired, they can always add meat. However, many of my WW friends report back that they loved the recipe without meat (and often so do their meat-loving spouses). While my husband Mike will eat meat-free meals, I often make a double or triple batch of this chili and I do sometimes add meat to his. This recipe is packed with flavor and it freezes well. Today after finishing off the pot that I made last week I added ingredients to my shopping list and I will be making a double-batch this weekend and will add many servings to my rotation of soup in the freezer. Having soup/chili on hand is essential to our meal plan and it guarantees that we always have a quick and homemade dinner or lunch in a pinch.

Not only is this chili satisfying and full of fiber and protein, but it is also easy on the pocketbook. While you can use canned beans that you purchase at the market, I suggest buying dry and cooking your own. I make the beans in bulk and freeze. One pot renders approximately fifteen cups and for WW members it comes out to a mere 2 PP per cup. While it is fantastic alone, sometimes I like to add a dollop of plant-based sour cream, chopped green onions, fresh cilantro, whole wheat pasta or quinoa, and/or a squeeze of fresh lime juice to perk up the flavor even more.

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili with Side Salad

Today I had a bowl for lunch and I added a side salad with romaine lettuce, a slice of avocado, pomegranate, pickled jalapeno, avocado vinaigrette dressing, a dash of taco sauce, lime wedges, and grapefruit segments. What a perfect winter lunch.

THREE BEAN VEGETARIAN CHILIThree Bean Vegetarian Chili ~ Healthy & Hearty Comfort Food

  • 3 cups of tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato juice 
  • 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery   
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic  
  • 1 cup white beans (cooked)
  • 1 cup black beans (cooked)
  • 1 cup kidney beans (cooked)  
  • 1 small can diced green chilies   
  • 1 Tbsp  ground cumin  
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano     
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder, (Add as much for desired heat.)   
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

Saute celery, onion, green pepper and garlic with olive oil. Add all ingredients to crock pot or stock pot (you may also want to add a cup of water). The longer the chili cooks, the better it will taste. If I cook via stove-top I simmer for 60 minutes. Using the slow-cooker method I cook on low for 4 hours.  Season to taste (adding more chili powder or “heat” if desired).

You can also toss in other vegetables that you have on hand. Last week I added a small zucchini and in the past I have added carrots and even cabbage.

Printable list and recipe: Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

Pin this post HERE.
Salad with pomegranate, avocado, and pickled jalapenosIf you are looking for healthy ways to bulk up your meals I recommend that you check out my other soup recipes.

Check back often because my goal for 2014 is to continue sharing my recipes with others who are trying to find ways to incorporate more vegetables into their meal plans. You can follow my Produce with Amy board on Pinterest and please stop by and like my Facebook page. Cheers to healthy 2014 and thriving!

Three Bean Vegetarian ChiliWinter

 

White Bean, Rice, and Vegetable Soup

White Bean, Rice, & Vegetable Soup“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” 
― Edith Sitwell

Today is the first “official” day of my winter holiday and if I did not have to venture outside tonight for my Weight Watchers meeting, I could easily stay in my lounge clothes and robe all day. The landscape outside is covered with a fresh and fluffy coverlet of snow and it is a hot-bowl-of-soup and a steaming-cup-of-tea kind of day. The next few days will be bustling with Christmas cheer and family, so today I am enjoying a hushed house as I ruminate over the past year and continue to map out my intentions for 2014.

My health is always #1 on my resolutions list and in 2013 I managed to create healthy routines involving our living spaces. I find that the less cluttered our tiny house is, the stronger and more “in control” I feel. Yes, it is true that I make healthier food choices and do not make as many excuses not to exercise when our house is tidy. With the stressful nature of teaching I need to have a restful and calm sanctuary to come home to and wind down.

When I started Produce with Amy my goals were to both eat more produce and to be productive. How accomplished I feel to say that I have been successful with both. Thank you to my readers for sharing this journey with me. Your feedback, comments, and support has helped me stay accountable and I love being able to help others make healthy choices.

Cooking is a pleasurable activity for me and I enjoy the creativity found in combining different flavors and textures. A few weeks ago I heard someone refer to themselves as a refrigerator cook because they cook meals out of what they have on hand. I could relate to this since I do the same thing. Now that I am blogging my food combinations, I do try to write them down so I can share them with you.

This white bean soup is an example of a dish that I tossed together with what I had in the house. I am always cooking up large batches of beans from dried to freeze for my meals. For this soup I also used my Spicy Brown Rice since I had several servings in the freezer.

WHITE BEAN, RICE, AND VEGETABLE SOUPWhite Bean Soup with Spicy Brown Rice

  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 3 cups of tomatoes (I used tomatoes from my garden that were roasted with rosemary and basil)
  • 3 cups of Spicy Brown Rice (you could also use plain brown rice and add some taco seasoning or spices for flavor)
  • 3 cups of white beans
  • 1 cup of chopped cabbage
  • 4 minced cloves of garlic
  • 3 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1 large chopped carrot
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 small chopped zucchini
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Once all your vegetables are chopped simply toss into the slow cooker. I cooked on low for 4 hours. Normally bean soup would take twice as long but the beans were already cooked.  This recipe makes approximately 12 cups of soup and it freezes well.

White Bean Vegetable Soup

My favorite way to eat bean soup is with a dash of vinegar added to the top before eating. I love the way the vinegar brightens up the flavor. I also often drizzle two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil on top.

This soup is very versatile and you can add any vegetables that you have on hand (sometimes I also add tomato sauce). The combination of beans and rice make it hearty and satisfying.

White Bean, Rice, & Vegetable SoupVegetable packed soup is one of my secret weapons for weight management and my husband Mike and I have a cup each night with dinner. This bean soup, along with a salad, is a filling meal. I make soup on the weekend and I often like to make a double batch so I can freeze a few portions. This is especially helpful if we end up going out of town on the weekend and I do not have time to make our weekly soup.

I hope that this soup helps you to stay warm and healthy this winter. Enjoy any holiday festivities that you may be attending and do not forget to pile your plate with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and build exercise into your schedule.

I challenge you to reflect on your successes for 2013 and come up with a list of goals that you would like to achieve in 2014. Stay tuned ~ I promise another year of healthy recipes coming your way!

If you are interested, check out the other soup recipes that I have posted.  Pin this recipe. Make sure you stop by and like my Facebook page.

White Bean, Rice, & Vegetable Soup