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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Gingered Nectarine Green Smoothie

Gingered Nectarine Green Smoothie“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.” -Madeleine L’Engle

Yellow RoseIt is mid-July and this week my goal is to be mindful of stopping to appreciate my time off for the summer. With thirteen years of teaching under my belt I know how important it is to refuel and recharge for the upcoming school year. It is easy to let time slip between our fingers and I commit to facing each of my days with intention.

My husband and I spent the weekend in my hometown of Crystal Falls, Michigan for my 25th high school Orange Liliesclass reunion. When we got home I was greeted with new blooms in my garden. Flowers feel like poems to me because they force me to slow down and savor the world. I examine the sunshine filtering through the trees, the breeze, the damp soil, and the flowers’ bright petals make the sky even seem more blue.

I love when I get comments and emails about my blog and I have received several in the last couple weeks about my green smoothies. It is always wonderful when I hear from readers that try, and enjoy, their first green smoothie. I have found that most people try one sip and they are hooked.

One of my friends suggested that I do a green smoothie challenge in August with recipes and printable shopping lists like I did in December and January. I have decided that if there is enough interest that I will. Read about my winter green smoothie challenge HERE.

Today I thought I would share the green smoothie that I enjoyed for breakfast this morning. Nectarines are one of my favorite fruits (second to cherries) and I love the combination of fresh ginger and cilantro with the sweetness of the nectarine. If you have not tried cilantro in your smoothie you have to add some. It adds a refreshing zing and has a lot of health properties (including detoxification of the body).

When I first started drinking green smoothies I added a frozen banana to each drink for sweetness but I find that I do not have to add the banana when I use fresh nectarines or peaches since their sugar content is so high. The texture of this smoothie is lush and smooth and I hope that you enjoy it!

GINGERED NECTARINE GREEN SMOOTHIE

  • 3-4 cups of spinach (or your greens of choice)
  • 1 pitted nectarine
  • 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)
  • Fresh ginger root (to taste. Ginger can be an acquired taste so I recommend adding a little at a time until you achieve the flavor you desire)
  • Fresh cilantro (to taste. I used approximately 1/2 cup. If you do not like cilantro you could use parsley)
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)

Blend well and enjoy! Fresh lime juice and zest would be a wonderful addition to this smoothie but I did not have any on hand.

If you want to participate in a green smoothie challenge in August, leave a comment or send me an email or message on my  Facebook page. I would love to come up with recipes that take advantage of the abundance of summer fruit and greens.

If you enjoy nectarines as much as I do, make sure you check-out my last recipe: Cherry BBQ Salad with Nectarine, Sweet Potato, Basil, & Tempeh.

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

Stay tuned because the next recipe that I post will be a healthy indulgence. It is a plant-based substitute for a milk-shake that combines chocolate, fresh mint, and coconut – and I promise that it is as spectacular as it sounds.

Enjoy your July and remember to slow down, stop, and savor summer while it is here.

Pink Lilies
Red Rose

 

Blended Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice

Blended Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice

“I never guessed there were volcanoes in Illinois,
until I found them in my own garden.
Now, it happens every fall,
when I’m led to tall crater tops 
issuing feathery green smoke.” ~Cynthia Gallaher 

In my weekly Weight Watchers meetings a common question that I ask my members is, “What changes have you made to your food choices since you started the WW program?” Most members cite eating breakfast each morning, many state drinking more water, and a common change is planning out a weekly menu. I know one of the first changes that I made to my shopping cart was that I stopped purchasing juice. After figuring out how many Points Plus was in a glass of juice, I realized that juice was not worth my PP budget. Not to mention that many store-bought juices contain sugar and other ingredients that do not promote health. However, sometimes I really want a glass of juice with my brunch on the weekends.

Buying a Vitamix blender was one of the smartest kitchen investments that Mike and I have made. I make a variety of foods in our blender: my morning green smoothie, hummus, cold green soups, pureed soups, sauces, frozen summer cocktails, and I even use it to make fresh juice. While I really have considered investing in a high quality juicer, I love that when I make juice in my blender that I retain all the fiber in the fruit and vegetables. Blended juices are more filling and because the fiber is retained it takes our body a bit longer to absorb the nutrients. This slower absorption helps avoid blood sugar spikes that come with juices made in a juicer.

This morning I really was craving juice so I blended up one of my favorites. It is inspired from a gorgeous city that Mike and I consider our favorite vacation destination ~ Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville has an incredible eclectic vibe and features restaurants with the most exquisite local Vegan and vegetarian fare. One of our personal favorites is The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe. If you go there I highly recommend their Veggie Hummus Wrap and their fresh pressed Carrot Ginger Juice.

Since oranges are still readily available at the grocers, I decided to add some citrus to our juice.

All it takes is three simple ingredients to make fresh Carrot, Orange, & Ginger Juice in your blender (four if you count the water).

All it takes is three simple ingredients to make fresh Carrot, Orange, & Ginger Juice in your blender (four if you count the water).

This recipe makes approximately four cups of juice (depending on the size of the oranges and carrots that you use.

Three Simple Ingredients
CARROT, ORANGE, & GINGER JUICEBlend Well

  • Two peeled oranges
  • Five peeled organic carrots
  • One inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger root (Since ginger can be an acquired taste, if you are not familiar with ginger I recommend adding a small amount at a time. Ginger has wonderful health benefits and aids in digestion)
  • One cup of water

Fresh blended Carrot, Orange, and Ginger JuiceBlend on low for 30 seconds and on high for 60 seconds. Since the blending will warm the juice a bit, I make mine in advance and let it sit for a while in the refrigerator. If you want to drink the juice immediately you could add ice in place of the water.

A high-powered blender like a Vitamix is ideal for this juice. It also makes the high price tag in purchasing one worthwhile. When we bought our Vitamix I was determined to use it every day and I have been successful in this goal.

The resulting juice will be quite frothy (it will settle in the refrigerator) and since blending retains the juice it will be thicker than conventional juices. You may add extra water to juice to thin it out. This juice would also be great with the addition of grapefruit and I really like the combination of carrots, apple, and ginger.

Mike and I each drank one cup with our breakfast and I stored the remaining juice in a Mason jar in the refrigerator to drink this week.

Pin this recipe HERE.

Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice for TwoCitrus PowerThis weekend Mike started to feel a cold coming on so after breakfast I decided to whip him up some fresh citrus juice. I added four oranges, half a grapefruit, and a cup and a half of water.

The juice tastes fresh and does not need the addition of sugar. He will add a little fresh water to his glass before drinking and the burst of Vitamin C will help boost his immune system.

Who needs store-bought juice when you have a Vitamix?

Fresh Blended Citrus JuiceIf you experiment with your own juice please let me know what you think. Do you have any favorite combinations? If you are interested in checking out my other blender recipes check out my Green Smoothie recipes.

Stay tuned, my upcoming recipes include Mason Jar Salad recipes to add to my growing list and my recipe for a plant-based Creamy Lemon Dill Soup. I am having a productive weekend and I hope you are too. Thank you for joining me on this journey to maximize our health by eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables.