loaded red pepper soup

This roasted red pepper soup is both creamy and bright and loaded with cumin crusted chickpeas and cabbage to make it an entire meal. It's November and red peppers still have a strong showing the Portland farmers markets, I for one am impressed. Over the last couple of months I've become a little obsessed with roasting vegetables, it sounds so simple but in my opinion it enhances the flavor a huge amount in comparison to sauteing or pan frying. This soup is proof, taking the extra 15 mins to roast these puppies in the oven is what makes this dish awesome.   

loaded red pepper soup

mindful eating tips

This might be a good time to refer you to the basics behind mindful eating. If you haven't checked them out,  here are the six principles you can practice before eating in order to bring more awareness and attention into mealtime:

1. Breathe
2. Put Away Distractions
3. Assess Hunger
4. Observe
5. Chew
6. Slow Down

 You can learn more about each step, and links to more resources here on my site. 

loaded red pepper soup

ingredients
4 large red bell peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots
4 tablespoon cumin
3 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (*don't include for the vegan option)
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
1 can chickpeas
2 cups red cabbage 

instructions
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut your red peppers in half and take out the seeds (cut so that two halves are identical)  
Place the red bell peppers on a baking sheet with the cut sides facing down, and drizzle with olive oil.
Roast the peppers for 20-30 minutes until blackened on the top.
While the peppers are roasting start chopping the rest of the vegetables
Remove the peppers from the oven and immediately cover them in tinfoil, this steams the peppers. 
Turn the oven down to 350F, and toss the chopped cabbage and chickpeas in 2 tablespoons cumin and black pepper, put them on a baking pan and roast for 5 mins
Soup
Put onions, garlic and olive oil in a large pot and simmer over medium heat. After 5 mins add the soup stock chopped carrots, cumin, thyme and the red peppers. NOTE: the peppers should have now 'steamed' for about 5-10mins total and *remove charred red pepper skin* before adding the the soup.

Let simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are softened through. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup mixture smooth. (or a regular blender) 
Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add the roasted chickpeas and cabbage, enjoy! This soup keeps well in the fridge or freezer for leftovers.

spicy butternut squash + carrot soup + spooning tips

This is my go-to crowd pleaser butternut squash soup. Very easy to make, versatile and packs so much delicious goodness. My secret is adding in a TON of ginger to make the soup really pop with flavor and spiciness. 

spicy butternut squash soup

I generally always like to keep a butternut squash around. Besides the beautiful big yellow gourd always staring me down, frankly a squash nearby just makes me feel comfortable.  I know people can get hung up on squash because it does take a couple of steps to get to usable chopped segments. However I would say, it is worth it every time, and after a little concerted practice, the peeling de-seeding and chopping can speed up significantly. I recommend a strong vegetable peeler, a sturdy spoon to scrape the inside contents, and a sharp large knife for chopping. 

spooning tip

Do you find it hard to slow down during a meal? Put your spoon down in between bites! Use this pause to help you slow down and finish savoring and tasting your last bite. You can also use this little pause to take a moment to take a deep breath and re-focus on the present moment and your experience of eating. 

butternut squash soup with carrots and ginger

Ingredients
-1 small-medium butternut squash
-1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 2 -3 medium carrots
- 3 (or more) tablespoons of finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 6 cups vegetable soup stock

Garnish
-blue cheese, sesame seeds, red pepper chili flakes

Instructions
in a large pot simmer the ginger and oil on low heat for 3 minutes, then add the chopped carrots and butternut squash. Let all the ingredients simmer on medium heat for about 30mins or until soft. Make sure the soup stock level is at or slightly above the vegetable pieces. Use an immersion blender to  mix all the ingredients.  Garnish and enjoy!

 

spring roll salad + lime almond dressing + salad satisfaction

This Vietnamese inspired dish packs all the colors and crunch of a fresh spring roll in a bright salad with an almond-butter lime dressing. I just got back from my honeymoon in Vietnam and I was so impressed and inspired by how fresh and filled with herbs every dish was.  The Vietnamese pay so much attention to the colors and presentation of food. We witnessed carrot flowers, gorgeous garnishes, and amazing plating everywhere, even street vendors care about presentation! Have fun with this one, I'm particularly proud of the dressing because I've always struggled to produce a peanut dipping sauce that I'm proud of. This one is adapted with a little more lime and soy sauce to be light enough to cover the whole salad.  

Vietnamese Salad

Some pics from the trip... 

How To Eat A Salad and Feel Full = Eat it Mindfully 

Salads have a bad reputation, lets face it. Let's run through the normal insults, rabbit food, diet food, 'girly' food, the list goes on. Bottom line, if you are like me, you probably sit down to a salad with a mix of delight AND a little voice that says "I am not going to be fully satisfied". We'll I am officially against that sentiment, I truly believe a fresh, colorful salad can absolutely rock my world. However you do have to approach it with a different MINDSET. 

a different salad mindset

Let's strip away all of those preconceived notions and judgement about salad and sit down with this one in front of you, right now. You will get yourself into a world of trouble, and ultimately not fully appreciate or enjoy your salad if you think "I have to eat this to lose weight' or 'I'm eating this salad because its is necessary so I can eat what I really want pizza and brownies later'.

Let's concentrate on this moment. This spring roll salad (or whatever version is in front of you) is a bounty of crunchy flavors, sweet and complex. One tenant of mindful eating I always like to remind myself of is: Eat for the present moment, what foods are going to make your body feel great right now?  Its hard to feel bloated or over stuffed after eating a veggie salad. Most people feel pretty energized and frankly awesome. Try these tips:

  • Take in the colors. Spend a couple of deep breathes before you eat this salad and just appreciate the colors before you. It is amazing how something this simple can help you get more satisfaction out of a meal  
  • Take at least 20 minutes to eat your salad
  • Appreciate your salad noises: here is a sense you don't think about with eating very much, sound! Make it a game to be so present when eating this salad you pay attention to all your chewing and all the sounds this crunchy dish makes as you enjoy it. 

 

ingredients 

Spring Roll Salad
2 handfuls of spinach
1/3 head of red cabbage
1 orange pepper
1 small spicy red pepper (i used a Jamaican cherry)
2 ears of sweet corn

Lime Almond Dressing
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 very juicy lime
1/2 cup almond butter  
1 tablespoon of garlic chili sauce

Final Touches
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
1 big bunch of basil
1/4 cup almonds (freshly roasted and chopped finely)

instructions

I'm tempted to just let you guess on this one. Just kidding, but really its very easy. The way I did this was I roasted the corn and almonds in the oven for about 10 mins. I chopped up the cabbage and peppers very finely, then cut the corn off the cob, and cut the basil into small strips using scissors (this is a great tip to keep your basil super flavorful!!) Mix all your veggies together, then all the ingredients for the dressing, add the finishing touches, toss and enjoy!