A Love Affair With Cooking: Roasted Beet Soup with Ginger and Coconut Milk

“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

I have said it before. Food. It should be simple. We should eat to live. Yet, we have an intimate connection to the food that surrounds us. Food is comfort, culture, community, family, and a way to celebrate and nurture others. Food is smell, taste, and texture. It even has socio-economic implications. While there are many emotional associations with food, I try to remember that the bottom line is that food is sustenance and fuel. Therefore, it is important to put wholesome food on the table for myself and family.  

If you are like me, the pleasure of cooking runs deep. It includes carefully selecting ingredients at the market (or even better, growing our own). It involves all the  slicing, roasting, sautéing, and simmering that brings a dish to the table. However, part of the enjoyment for me also comes in the presentation. I believe that we feast with our eyes first and the joy I find in a pretty plate of food back to my childhood. My mom made even a simple lunch elegant by serving mac-n-cheese (almost always homemade) on her cream wedding china with the delicate gold band and lime Jello (sometimes with grated carrot) in footed pressed glass dessert cups (purchased with Gold Bond stamps from the IGA). She taught me that meal time was an event that was worth our time and attention and I try to pass this lesson on to my own family. Sometimes this means something as simple as a sprig of fresh mint in John’s glass of iced tea when he’s working outside on our farm, a whimsical straw for Lukas’ smoothie, or Avalon’s handwritten name cards when guests pay us a visit.

Winters in the UP of Michigan are long and cold.  I winter my front porch geraniums in the window sills of my classroom, and in the mudroom of our home, so in the heart of winter their scarlet blossoms can remind me of July. Red is one of my favorite colors and I am naturally drawn to foods that are bright and vibrant as well. Tomatoes, bell peppers, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and apples are high in antioxidants and protect us against cancer and heart disease. I always remember learning in school that blood-red vegetables help fortify and our own blood and immune system.

Beets are one of those vegetables that people seem to either love or hate. I grew up adoring my mom’s pickled beets and as I grew older I enjoyed roasted beets as a side or in a salad. While it is an acquired taste (my husband did not enjoy this recipe and he does like beets). I thought that I would share a recipe for you that uses this root vegetables as a main ingredient. This dish would be a perfect starter course for a romantic Valentine dinner. Afterall, beets are earthy, sensual, and when roasted take on a sweet taste and luscious texture. The color of this pureed soup is exquisite and begs to be ladled into a pretty bowl with a backdrop of glowing candles and soft music. Corny? Perhaps. However, trust me, if soup can be sexy – this one is! If only my husband John would agree. 😉 

ROASTED BEET SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK & GINGER
*2 bunches of beets (roasted)
*4 cups of coconut milk soup base (I found locally in Wal-Mart. You can substitute four cups of vegetable or chicken broth and ½ can of coconut milk from the Asian food section)
*1 rib of celery, chopped
*¼ cup chopped onion
*1-2 cloves of minced garlic
*½ inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
*Olive oil (couple of Tablespoons)
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional – garnish with chopped cilantro or dill

I found this product at Wal-Mart and I will buy it again.

Preparing beets can be a bit messy but their sweet flavor and silky texture makes
them worth the mess.

Cut the beets into several pieces. Scrub well and leave the peelings on. If you
have smaller beets you can cut in 1/2 or thirds. Once they are done roasting the peels will slide right off. Roast the beets for 40 minutes at 450 degrees (time may vary depending on your oven). After 20 minutes give them a toss. Let the beets cool a bit before removing the peel.
Saute the onion, celery, garlic and in olive oil until soft. Add the ginger and saute for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk base (or stock and coconut milk) and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and puree soup in the blender. Warm the soup to serve. If you desire, garish with a sprig (or chopped fresh dill) or cilantro (both flavors work well with beets).

Printable Recipe HERE: ROASTED BEET SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK
One of the benefits of living in a cold climate is that winter allows us to spend time inside and enjoy the pleasures of cooking. Remember to nourish your body with a rainbow of vegetables so your health benefits from a variety of nutrients. With this soup, you have the color red covered! If you love beets as much as I do, make sure you check out my other recipes that use beets (Links to recipes below).

Roasted Beet, Mango, and Blueberry Salad with Orange Dill Dressing

Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette
Peach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Pistachios, & Raspberry Orange Dill Dressing

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Plant-Based Chocolate Mint Shake with Coconut

Plant-Based Chocolate Mint Shake with Coconut by Produce with Amy“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.” ― Joanne Harris, “Chocolat”

July marks my seventh anniversary of reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers and August is also my seventh anniversary of becoming a Weight Watchers leader. When I look back and reflect on my journey, I realize that one of the healthiest changes that I made to my lifestyle is eradicating refined sugar from my meal plan. When I drink coffee or tea, I drink it black and candy, sweets, chocolate, juice, cereal, and ice-cream does not find its way into my shopping cart. I will on a rare occasion, when at a gathering, indulge in a regular soda (I try not to consume artificial sweeteners) and when I want something sweet I reach for a piece of fruit.

Every once in a while I will have a craving for something sweet – especially in the summer when ice-cream beckons – so I have come up with healthy ways to indulge a sweet tooth. Today I thought that I would share one of my favorites from the past couple years.

When I first started making plant-based shakes, or ice-cream, I would buy a carton of almond or coconut milk. But after reading the long list of ingredients, I decided that it would be healthier to make my own nut milks. Not to mention that I found myself tossing the processed cartons of plant-based milk away since I did not use it often and with the price of groceries, I despise throwing out food. For my dessert recipes that call for homemade plant-based milk, I use raw nuts and coconut water (or plain water). If I know beforehand that I am going to make a shake, I soak the nuts overnight (or for a few hours) but if I am being spontaneous – I add them straight to my Vitamix blender .

This recipe calls for fresh mint which I have available all summer in my garden. If you do not have access to fresh mint – a mint extract will do the trick. (I have found wonderful almond, mint, and vanilla extracts available in the spice aisle at Target.)

Cocoa Powder, Raw Nuts, & Mint

CHOCOLATE MINT SHAKE WITH COCONUT

  • 1 and a 1/2 frozen bananas (mine were medium in size. I allow my bananas to get fully ripe and then I peel and toss in a freezer bag or bowl for smoothies and ice-cream/shakes)
  • 1/2  cup to 1 cup of coconut water (depending on how thick or thin you want your shake. I used 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of raw nuts (I used a mix that I find at Target)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder to taste (I used 2 heaping Tablespoons)
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Few sprigs of mint (or 1+ teaspoons of extract)

Blend well and garnish with cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips – many varieties are plant-based) and coconut flakes. Serve and enjoy!

*Notes –
Possible healthy additions to this shake include:

  • Avocado (it adds healthy fat and makes the shake creamy…surprisingly, it does not dramatically impact the taste)
  • Vanilla extract
  • A dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Spinach (it is naturally sweet and it will change the color of the smoothie but like the avocado will not dramatically change the taste)
  • When I make curry I do buy canned coconut milk and I freeze the leftover. When I have it on hand I will use it in my plant-based shakes to make them extra creamy.

Printable Recipe: CHOCOLATE MINT SHAKE WITH COCONUT by Produce with Amy

 

Chocolate Mint Shake by Produce with AmyChocolate Mint Shake with Coconut by Produce with AmyMake sure you check out my Healthy Indulges tab for other plant-based dessert shakes. I always love to hear what people think after trying one of my recipes and I enjoy hearing about the changes that are made to fit personal tastes.

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Have a beautiful week and I hope that you enjoy the Chocolate Mint Shake! I raise my glass to you – cheers to thriving together!

Chocolate & Mint Shake with Coconut by Produce with Amy