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.

 

 

 

 

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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

Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and Oatmeal

Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and Oatmeal“I stand holding the apple in both hands. It feels precious, like a heavy treasure. I lift it up and smell it. It has such an odour of outdoors on it I want to cry.” 
― Margaret AtwoodApplesOne of my favorite parts of fall is the selection of apples at the market. Since childhood I have had an affinity for crisp, tart, green apples. Some of my fondest memories stem from my best friend Kim’s front yard in Crystal Falls where several apple trees grew. Kim, the daredevil that she was, would scale the tree for the largest fruit for our feast. Of course, this sampling of apples always involved a salt shaker. Yes, there is nothing like the combination of sour apples with salt! 🙂

Last week I made a large Crock-pot of slow cooked apples and they were a marvelous treat to eat during the week. They turned out like a sweet and tart applesauce and I warmed them before eating. I can only imagine how good they would be with a large dollop of ice cream on top. The recipe that I came up with rendered eight cups so I was able to freeze quite a number of servings to enjoy over the next few weeks.

My recipe goes very light on the oatmeal so if you want to enjoy this recipe for breakfast you may want to add extra oatmeal and liquid (or you could leave out the oatmeal and mix the fruity deliciousness into a bowl of oatmeal). When I joined Weight Watchers I ate oatmeal every morning for the first few years and I think that I burnt myself out of oats. However, on occasion I do sometimes still enjoy a bowl. This recipe may just make me a fan of oatmeal again.

Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and OatmealCranberriesSWEET & TART SLOW COOKER APPLES WITH CRANBERRIES, PUMPKIN, AND OATMEAL
*Printable shopping list and recipe below

  • 12 ounce bag of cranberries
  • 9 apples (I used five green and four red. The apples that I used were small)
  • 2 cups of oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats but a lot of crock pot oatmeal recipes call for steel-cut oats)
  • 2 cups of milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 cup of pumpkin
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar (you could 8substitute your favorite sweetener such as honey and maple sugar)
  • Zest and juice from one orange
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon nutmeg
  • 2 ounces of raisins (next time I would probably leave the raisins out since they fell apart and I would add before serving)

Add all the ingredients to slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. As I said earlier, the texture was very much like applesauce. If you want the apples more firm you could cook for a shorter time period.

Printable shopping list and recipe: Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and Oatmeal
You cannot go wrong with seasonal ingredients. A couple hours in and the fragrance is intoxicating. Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and OatmealThis time of year I think it is important to come up with healthy versions of comfort food and this recipe really does the trick. While I am not a big fan of kitchen gadgets, one item that I do recommend is an apple slicer and corer. My mom bought this one for me a few years ago and it is essential for recipes that contain apples.
12

Do not forgot to serve your apples in a pretty dish. Presentation can make all the difference.

Do not forgot to serve your apples in a pretty dish. Presentation can make all the difference.

Sweet Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and OatmealMike and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family and it felt spectacular to relax before the hustle-and-bustle of December. On Thanksgiving morning, before heading out-of-town, we were treated with a visit from some feathered friends. A group of cardinals (over seven) have taken residence in the large cedars in our backyard.

A friend shared that in recent years flocks of cardinals have moved into our northern location in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The cardinals were joined by a huge flock of pigeons, chickadees, black birds, and a lone and brilliant blue jay. We were delighted to realize this morning that the cardinals were still in our backyard and we will continue to replenish our feeders with seed this winter. I could not help but be reminded by one of my favorite quotes by Louise Glück, “It’s a mistake to think of them as birds, they are so often messengers.” My friend Ann said that cardinals symbolize health, strength and vitality and Mike and I believe that they are helping usher in positive energy for 2014.

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Speaking a positive and healthy New Year, did you start the December Green Smoothie Challenge today? If not, it is not to late to join. Mid-week I will be posting a shopping list and recipes for Week #2. If you decide to make this recipe, buy an extra-large can of pumpkin because the second week’s recipes will contain pumpkin.

Here is a photo of Sunday Energizer smoothie that I enjoyed this morning. I love the zing that the fresh ginger brings to my glass.

Day #1 Sunday Energizer

Pin this recipe here.

You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page and join the healthy conversation.

In January I will be celebrating the one year anniversary of launching my blog and I am so thankful for all the support of my readers. I love shopping in the grocery store and having someone say, “hey, I really love your recipes and your blog.” It is hard to believe that last year at this time I was nervous about putting myself out there and I wondered if people would be interested in what I had to say. Thank you for making 2013 so full of light and I am excited to continue sharing this healthy journey with others!

Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and Oatmeal Appreciation

Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Soup

I have been enjoying Autumn walks with Phoebe.

I have been enjoying crisp autumn walks with Phoebe.

“Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard.” 
― Walt Whitman

It feels good to be blogging again. Last weekend I had to finalize grades for the 1st marking period and this week we had parent teacher conferences at school. It is hard to comprehend that it is already November and soon the winter holidays will be upon us. I need to be extra mindful of exercise and making sure that I am preparing healthy versions of the comfort food that my body is craving. We have had many snow flurries in the U.P. and winter is quick on the heals of fall. Mike’s recent food obsession is lasagna and he teased me that he probably should get a Garfield tattoo. (Talk about a childhood flashback since I used to have a Garfield scrapbook that held stickers and cartoons from the Sunday paper.)

With cooler weather, fall forces us indoors and is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes. Have you tried spaghetti squash? It is simple to prepare and is a wonderful substitute for pasta. I bought a large spaghetti squash last weekend and used it to make one of my favorite fall recipes: Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Soup.

Pierce the squash with a knife or fork and add about an inch of water to a baking dish.

Pierce the squash with a knife or fork and add about an inch of water to a baking dish.

To prepare simply pierce the squash with a knife, or fork, and place into a shallow baking pan that is filled with water. (I bake the squash whole and use about an inch of water).

Bake for approximately 60 minutes at 375 degrees (I baked mine for 90 minutes since the squash was large). A friend of mine said that she uses the microwave to cook the squash. She said a large squash takes 10-15 minutes (flip every 4-5 minutes).

Let cool and cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and use a fork to shred the squash. It will naturally pull apart in strands that will resemble pasta.

Serve with your favorite sauce, herbs,  or use in soup or other dishes.

Cook the squash whole. It makes cutting it a breeze once it is baked.

Cook the squash whole. It makes cutting it a breeze once it is baked.

 Spaghetti Squash

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AND TOMATO SOUP

  • 6-8 cups vegetable stockSpaghetti Squash and Tomato Soup
  • 28 ounce can of tomato sauce (I also used a few cups of tomatoes from my garden that I had in the freezer)
  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 3 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped (I used 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red)
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • Large cooked spaghetti squash (Approximately 10 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon each of oregano, rosemary, and basil

Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in the olive oil until soft and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Makes 15 cups.

You could cut the recipe in 1/2 and it would still make a generous pot of soup. I like to make extra to freeze. You could add beans for protein and add any other vegetables such as zucchini and mushrooms. It is delicious, filling, and the addition of tomato sauce makes it taste similar to spaghetti. I rotated this for dinner and lunch last week and I partnered it with a large salad and garlic toast.

If you are a Weight Watchers member it is 1 PP per cup (depending on the vegetable stock and tomato sauce that you are using). Make sure you run it through the Recipe Builder if you add additional ingredients.

When I serve this soup to Mike I add cheese and homemade garlic croutons to the top and brown like French Onion Soup. My friend Jackie made this soup and said she added parmesan cheese and cottage cheese on the side. So I added a couple of Tablespoons of cottage cheese to Mike’s soup, along with a pizza cheese medley, and he said it reminded him of lasagna.

If you have not tried spaghetti squash, I hope my post encourages you to try something new. I hope you enjoy this soup. What is your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?

Pin this recipe here.

Check out my soup tab for other recipes.

You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page and join the healthy conversation.

Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Soup 2

Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Soup:  Produce with Amy

Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip ~ Individually Packaged for Portion Control

Layered Dip with Beans and Guacamole by Produce with Amy“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Bleeding Hearts Spring 2013

It appears that we have finally turned corner on winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I keep reminding myself, however, that it is not unheard of to have snow storms in May. Mike and I made sure we took advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and yesterday and today took our dog Phoebe for a hike. We are fortunate to have many scenic trails right in our backyard. We witnessed many patches of snow still lingering in the woods and it was quite muddy.

Mike and Phoebe enjoying the fresh air.

Mike and Phoebe enjoying the fresh air.

I have been struggling with finding time to blog recently and today I knew that I had to push myself. My intentions were to write this post during spring break since that is when I took the photos. The flurry of Cinco de Mayo posts on Facebook today made me realize that today was the perfect day to share my recipe for a luscious plant-based Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip.

A plant-based diet relies very heavily on beans for protein and I am always looking for new ways to use them. One of my favorite party appetizers is layered taco dip and here is my version. While tortilla chips are one of my favorite foods, they are also a trigger for me so instead of tortilla chip I try to eat this dip with raw vegetables. I also like to make the dip in individual containers for portion control. Years ago I made a sound investment by purchasing a couple dozen of Pyrex glass containers in a 3 cup size. They have really held up well and are so convenient for lunches. I

These glass containers stack neatly in the refrigerator and freezer.

These glass containers stack neatly in the refrigerator and freezer.

Ingredients for the guacamole: fresh cilantro, three avocados, lime juice, taco seasoning, red onion, and sour cream (I use Vegan soy-based sour cream). If you eat dairy you could also use plain Greek yogurt.

Ingredients for the guacamole: fresh cilantro, avocados, lime juice, garlic, taco seasoning, red onion, and sour cream (I use Vegan soy-based sour cream). If you eat dairy you could also use plain Greek yogurt.

I saw a recipe on Pinterest for taco seasoning and had all the ingredients on hand in the pantry. I doubled the batch and am storing in a recycled jar. Never will I buy pre-packaged taco seasoning packets again!
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Source: Allrecipes
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions:
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2 3/4 tablespoons.
Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Guacamole
*2 avocados cubed
*1/4 cup chopped red onion
*1/2 Tablespoon taco seasoning (or to taste)
*2 cloves of minced garlic
*1/4 cup chopped cilantro
*2 Tablespoons lime juice
*1/2 cup sour cream (I used Vegan sour cream)

I LOVE avocado. As I have said in an earlier post, I could eat cardboard if it had a smear of avocado on it.

I LOVE avocado. As I have said in an earlier post, I could eat cardboard if it had a smear of avocado on it.

Add the chopped red onion.

Add the chopped red onion.

Add the taco seasoning.

Add the taco seasoning.

Fresh cilantro really perks up the flavor of the avocado. Add the garlic and lime juice as well.

Fresh cilantro really perks up the flavor of the avocado. Add the garlic and lime juice as well.

The sour cream gives it some body.

The sour cream gives it some body.

When I made guacamole to serve on its own I also add in some chopped tomatoes.

When I make guacamole to serve on its own I also add in some chopped tomatoes.

The finished product.

The finished product.

For each individual dip you will need:
*1/2 cup Vegetarian Refried Beans
*1/2 cup Guacamole
*1/4 cup salsa
*Lettuce
*Tomato
*Black olives
(any other toppings you desire)
I made four individual dips. They were quite generous in size and I probably could have made five from the recipe.

To start the dip, I added 1/2 cup of Vegetarian Refried Beans.

To start the dip, I added 1/2 cup of Vegetarian Refried Beans.

Top the beans with a 1/2 cup of guacamole.

Top the beans with a 1/2 cup of guacamole.

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Top the guacamole with 1/4 cup of salsa. You can also use taco sauce.

Top the guacamole with 1/4 cup of salsa. You can also use taco sauce.

Next chop lettuce.

Next chop lettuce.

A layer of crispy lettuce gives the dip a pleasing crunch.

A layer of crispy lettuce gives the dip a pleasing crunch.

Top tomatoes. I used grape tomatoes but any tomato will do.

Top with tomatoes. I used grape tomatoes because they do not release much juice (my dip needed to sit a few days in the refrigerator) but any tomato will do.  If I make this dip on a platter for a party I purchase large tomatoes and cut into small pieces.

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Sprinkle the dip with black olives.

Sprinkle the dip with black olives. You can also add jalapenos, corn, cheese, and your favorite taco additions. A drizzle of hot sauce or taco sauce is always a welcome addition.

My guacamole recipe and one can of refried beans rendered four individual layered dips. I will make my own refried beans next time.

My guacamole recipe and one can of refried beans rendered four individual layered dips. I will make my own refried beans next time.

Ready to store in the refrigerator.

Ready to store in the refrigerator.

I ate the dip with raw vegetables.

I ate the dip with raw vegetables.

Why wait for a party when you can eat taco dip whenever you want. Fresh, healthy, and a great way to eat your vegetables!

Why wait for a party when you can eat taco dip whenever you want. Fresh, healthy, and a great way to eat your vegetables!

This dip is versatile and you can fashion it to suit your tastebuds. I have swapped out the refried beans for black beans before and have topped with spinach instead of lettuce. If you are like me and are always looking for healthy comfort food, you will enjoy this dip.

This weekend was a very productive weekend. Yesterday I cooked for the week and my lunches this week will be homemade marina over whole wheat pasta. I added two different kinds of olives to the sauce, capers, and lemon juice. My plan is to share my recipe in a future post.

Olive marinara over whole wheat pasta.

Olive marinara over whole wheat pasta.

In February I pinned a recipe for a Vegan Split Pea Soup from Healthy. Happy. Life. on Pinterest and in the past week 180 people repinned the recipe and it received 23 likes. I figured that it was time that I tried the soup recipe. It is delicious and I am thankful that I did. It will serve as this week’s dinner with a large green salad that is topped with my homemade plant-based creamy dressing.

I let the peas soak over-night.

I let the peas soak over-night. There still is a chill in the air and this soup will be my dinner along with a large green salad.

As we head into the summer I am anxious for break so I can get back on pace with my weekly blogging. While it will fill me with sadness to say goodbye to my students for the summer, I am ready to garden and spend some time in the sun. Cheers to sunshine, productivity, and healthy plant-based eating!

Layered Refried and Guacamole Dip