Roasted Vegetable Stew

Roasted Vegetable Stew by Produce with Amy“Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.”
― Leo Tolstoy

My heart is not feeling autumn joy this weekend. The sky is gray and yesterday my husband Mike fired up the furnace. I guess when the inside temperature dips below 60 it is sign that it is time to rely on artificial heat. To help deal with my seasonal funk I made time to read, write, and I cooked up a storm. Chopping vegetables is therapy for me. Instead of turning to unhealthy food for comfort this coming week I decided to stock our house with an abundance of vegetable rich meals. I made a batch of autumn themed Mason jar salads, vegetable lasagna, and a rustic roasted vegetable stew (the salad and lasagna recipes will be shared soon).

Do you roast vegetables? It is a simple technique that brings out the sweetness in produce and makes the house smell incredible. When making this stew you may want to make extra roasted vegetables to use in other recipes and serve as a side during the week.

Roasted Brussels SproutsFor this stew I roasted the following in three batches:

1st Batch:
*Brussels sprouts (you will need 1 cup for this recipe.

I roasted extra for my jar salads for the week). If you are buying fresh, buy 2 cups (they shrink) or one bag of frozen. 

 

2nd Batch (Vegetable Medley):Roasted Vegetable Medley
*1 small zucchini
*1 medium onion
*3 ribs of celery
*1 yellow bell pepper
*8 ounces of mushrooms
*1 pint of cherry tomatoes (I add the cherry tomatoes in the last 15 minutes of roasting).

This recipe rendered 4 cups of vegetables. I used two cups for this stew and 2 cups for my vegetable lasagna. Therefore, you may want to cut the recipe in 1/2.

Roasted Root Vegetables

 

3rd Batch (Root Vegetables):
*3 carrots
*3 parsnips
*1 pound of potatoes (I used fingerling potatoes)

I did not season any of my roasted vegetables since the stew will be seasoned. I chopped, drizzled with a little olive oil, and roasted for approximately 40 minutes (turning at the 20 minute mark) at 400 degrees.

The carrots, parsnips, and potatoes were roasted for 50 minutes.  If I was roasting the vegetables to serve as a side I would also add salt, pepper, and minced garlic.

This weekend I also roasted 3 heads of garlic. If you have never roasted garlic before, you have to try it. Roasting garlic makes it sweet, mellow, and creamy. It is terrific in hummus, spread on bread, and is great in any recipe that calls for garlic. I added one entire head to this stew but if you are using regular garlic you can use a couple of minced cloves.
Roasted GarlicDirections for roasting garlic:

Slice the end off of the garlic bulb (the wider end). Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and wrap in tinfoil. Pop into a preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes at 450 degrees (depending on your oven).

After roasting the garlic flesh will become soft and will slide right out of the bulb. It’s marvelous spread on bread, in hummus, and works well in any recipe that requires garlic. I always use all of my roasted garlic immediately, but it would keep well for a week in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Roasted Vegetable Stew by Produce with Amy
ROASTED VEGETABLE STEW

*6 cups of vegetable stock (I used bouillon that I purchased at our co-op)
*1 head of roasted garlic
*2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
*Handful of lemon thyme (or 2 teaspoons of dried)
*1 cup of roasted Brussels sprouts
*2 cups of roasted vegetable medley
*Roasted root vegetables
*Juice and zest of one lemon
*1 bunch of chopped, fresh parsley

Bring vegetable stock, roasted garlic, and fresh rosemary and thyme to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add all the roasted vegetables and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and zest and stir in chopped parsley.


Printable Recipe: ROASTED VEGETABLE STEW by Produce with Amy

Pin it HERE.

If you are like me and enjoy a steaming cup or bowl of soup to help chase away a chill and bulk up a meal – make sure you check out my other soup recipes.

As the cold weather progresses, I promise to share more ideas for healthy comfort food. Thank you for joining me on the quest to enjoy plant-based meals. If you have a favorite fall or winter recipe – please share. Make sure you stop by my Facebook page and join the conversation. I wish you a healthy and productive week!

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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.

Stop by my Produce with Amy Facebook Page and make sure that you sign up to receive email updates of my posts (on the right side of the page). Follow my posts on Twitter Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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

 

Zucchini Noodle Soup

“Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden. ” 
― Mary Engelbreit

Zucchini Noodle Soup by Produce with AmyThe topic of last week’s Weight Watchers meeting was one after my own heart — “The Power of Produce”. My mom always tells me that she knew when I was growing up that I would become a vegetarian one day, because fruit and vegetables were always my first choice when it came to snacks and meals. However, I admit that when I joined Weight Watchers in 2006 – my methods of cooking vegetables were not always the healthiest. Long periods of time would pass without fresh produce in our house. Life was busy and my husband Mike and I would often go on a large grocery run once or twice a month. This resulted in limited options when fresh supplies ran low. Not to mention the obscene amount of produce that was tossed out because we did not make fruit and vegetables a priority like we do now. Currently I make at least one grocery trip a week (sometimes 2 or 3) and my cart is always full of fresh and frozen produce.

Last week at my WW meetings we discussed how bulking up meals with fruit and vegetables not only helps you stay full (due to the fiber, water, vitamin, and mineral content in produce) but it also has a psychological impact by visually making your plate look full. When I joined WW, I found that adding a side of raw carrots and celery to a sandwich made me feel more satisfied and did not make me feel deprived. Before I joined WW my husband and I always had rice, pasta, or potatoes as a side to dinner entrees and when I learned about the Points system, I started preparing 0 Points Plus vegetables instead.

Last summer I purchased a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer to make vegetable noodles. While I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets, this is one that I recommend.

Last week at my Monday night meeting, my friend Wendy, shared that she bought a Veggetti. She said that her sister makes zucchini noodles daily and that she makes them into a soup with broth. What a great idea! While most of my soup recipes make 10-12 cups of soup (I like to have extra to freeze) in a post from the winter of 2013, I shared how I am known to assemble a bowl of spontaneous soup. After hearing about Wendy’s sister, I decided that I would make a bowl of Zucchini Noodle Soup.

Yesterday was the perfect day for healthy comfort food. I subbed a WW meeting in the morning and when I left the house it was 49 degrees. Spotty rain and gray skies made it a day of napping with our cats, taking a hot bath, reading, and soup. From start to finish this bowl of soup took fifteen minutes at most (including gathering and prepping the ingredients). I did not purchase special ingredients but selected what I had on hand.

ZUCCHINI NOODLE SOUP

  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of spiralized zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 5 fresh pea pods 
  • 3 thin slices of leek
  • 3 mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove of finely minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped, fresh chives
  • 1/2 carrot peeled and chopped
I bought this chili sauce from Target. I love its heat - but be careful because it's spicy!

I bought this chili sauce from Target. I love its heat – but be careful because it’s spicy!

  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh tomato
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (if you do not like cilantro parsley works well)
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Splash of rice vinegar

Saute the onion, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, carrots in the coconut oil for 3-4 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, pea pods, tomatoes, and chili sauce.

Bring to a boil.

Add the zucchini and remove from the heat (I wanted the zucchini to be al dente).

Ladle into a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and garnish with the cilantro.

Thank you to Wendy for the great idea of making Zucchini Noodle Soup! This week I am going to make a bowl each day for lunch or to eat with dinner.

Tonight I am planning to make an Italian version with the following ingredients:
Broth, zucchini noodles, onion, garlic, celery, fresh herbs from my garden (basil, oregano, and chives), 3 Tablespoons of marinara sauce (leftover in the refrigerator), mushrooms,  and red bell pepper.

I am also imagining a curry inspired soup with:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, 3 Tablespoons of light coconut milk (I have some in the freezer), sweet potato, chopped tomato, fresh ginger root, curry powder (to taste), a squeeze of lime juice, and fresh cilantro.

How about a Mexican inspired soup?:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, homemade taco seasoning, tomatoes, bell pepper, black beans, and top with fresh cilantro and cubed avocado.

Or a refreshing lemon dill:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, celery, fennel, fresh lemon juice and zest, spinach, and loads of fresh dill.

A lovely garden pea and mint:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, fresh garden peas (you could puree or leave whole), and fresh mint.

This month I celebrate my seventh anniversary of reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers and I believe in the power of produce. I also believe in the power of a well stocked refrigerator, pantry, and fruit and vegetables bowls on the counter. Let your imagination and what you have on hand be your guide. If you make a spontaneous bowl of soup I would love to hear the combination that you create. Social networking allows us the opportunity to learn, share, and grow in healthy ideas together.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you want other soup ideas make sure you check out my Soup tab at the top of the page. .
In the next week I will be sharing my recipe for a raw zucchini noodle dish that features a lemon basil pesto and my favorite cold green soup (think savory green smoothie in a bowl).

Thank you for your comments, feedback, and support. As Produce with Amy nears the milestone of 100,000 views – I am thrilled and humbled.  I  feel thankful that there has been so much interest in my recipes. I love sharing my creativity and passion for healthy food. Thank you!

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Flowers from my garden.

Flowers from my garden.

 

Mushroom Stroganoff ~ Healthy, Plant-Based, Comfort Food

Plant-Based Mushroom Stroganoff by Produce with Amy“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”
~ Wayne Dyer

It is only Tuesday of spring break and this is my fifth blog post. It feels great to catch up on posting the recipes that I have been creating and have not had time to share. Looking back I can see that I need to celebrate that in spite of a hectic schedule, I still have been making it a priority to eat healthy. In the past when I got busy I would often neglect meal planning and grocery shopping and that is no longer the case. One of the healthiest routines that I established when I joined Weight Watchers in 2006 was meal planning and cooking in bulk on the weekends. The extra time that I take to prepare meals guarantees that Mike and I always have healthy food on hand and it saves precious time during the week (and it is easier on our pocketbook since we do not rely on takeout).

It would be an understatement to say that it has been a long winter. Ultimately, with dreary cold weather comes the desire for comfort food. Unfortunately, comfort food does not always translate into healthy food. Add into the equation that I try to maintain a plant-based diet and things get even more challenging. Living in a rural area I do not have access to a lot of plant-based cheeses or dairy substitutes (which is probably a good thing since many are heavily processed) so I have to get creative with the comfort food that I consume since I strive to eat whole non-processed food.

I find that mushrooms make a great meat substitute and I love their texture in a variety of meals. A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to make a Mushroom Stroganoff and decided to puree roasted cauliflower as the base. I came up with this idea after creating a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Carrots. In fact, I used the same roasted cauliflower recipe as I did with the soup and I think that the seasonings added a depth of flavor to the stroganoff. I froze a few portions of stroganoff in individual servings.  I had one tonight with a side of broccoli and tomatoes and it tasted just as fresh as the day that I made it.
Mushroom Stroganoff Over Mashed Potatoes with a Side of Broccoli and Tomatoes by Produce with Amy

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Roasted CauliflowerCut one large head of cauliflower into florets and drizzle 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

Roast the cauliflower for 60 minutes at 350 (I flipped the cauliflower at 30 minutes).
Or roast  450 for 30-45 minutes.

MUSHROOM STROGANOFF

  • 1 head of roasted cauliflowerMushroom Stroganoff
  • 2-3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 16 ounces of mushrooms 
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or cooking oil of choice)

Saute the celery, onion, garlic, and mushrooms until soft in the coconut oil (15 minutes on low heat). Puree the cauliflower until smooth in a blender with a cup of the vegetable broth (add more if needed) and pour the puree into the sautéed mixture. Add the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Add more vegetable broth if needed for desired consistency and heat until flavors marry (20-30 minutes). Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, spaghetti squash, or steamed vegetables.

Optional ingredients that you could add to flavor the stroganoff would be red wine (to saute the mushrooms) and before serving you could stir in a plant-based sour cream or yogurt.

Printable recipe: Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff by Produce with Amy

Cauliflower makes a wonderful, healthy, and neutral tasting thickening agent in recipes and if I was served this dish I would not be able to guess that cauliflower was its base. However, at the same time, the roasted cauliflower recipe is so delicious that you may want to roast two heads so you can eat one as it is.

If you try this recipe or any of my others, please let me know. Stop by my facebook page, give it a like, and post a photo of your creation. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. I love being part of healthy on-line community. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

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

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!

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