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

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 

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
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.

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. 



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)


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! 

butternut squash w/ crispy rosemary beets and quinoa

This is a super simple veggie packed meal combining a lot of different textures and flavors. Great in the fall when you can find amazing squash and beets fresh and local. I've gotten the comment that 'a butternut squash is magic in my hands' but I think whoever said that doesn't realize that cumin is actually my secret ingredient to make everything delicious.  

butternut squash quinoa and rosemary

the harvest   

An important element to mindful eating is truly appreciating where your food came from. The forces of nature: water, soil, sun, and all of the people involved in getting ingredients to your plate. The fall is such a perfect time to practice gratitude because you can't help but be hit over the head with the amount of beautiful vegetables and fruits ripening. Tips for staying mindful with this meal:

- Take a moment before you dive in to think about all the people and forces of nature that made your plate possible.
- Express one element you are grateful for in regards to this meal. It will add a lot of joy and overall feeling of contentedness to your experience. 

beets in a bowl

3 small-medium beets
1 small butternut squash (peeled, and diced)
3-5 cups of veggie soup stock (or bouillon) 
1 clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon of fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 cup quinoa
1 large spring of rosemary
1 handful of basil (cut into strips)
olive oil, salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel the beets and cut into thin rounds, either with a mandolin or sharp knife. I recommend not too thin because they have a tendency to burn. Coat with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and lay out individually on a baking pan. Cook for about 15 mins and turn the pieces over, cook for another 15 mins w/the rosemary added. Really here you have to watch to make sure they don't burn because cooking time will depend on how thin your pieces are.

Peel, remove the seeds, and dice the squash into inch cubes or smaller. Add the garlic, ginger and some olive oil to a deep frying pan or pot. Saute for about 3 mins then add the stock, squash, and cumin and cover the pan. Simmer on medium heat for about 20 mins or until the pieces are soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and use a masher, or large fork to cream the squash. Leave some pieces semi in-tact to create a chunkier consistency. 

Meanwhile cook the quinoa according to the package directions. To plate spoon a large portion of squash, add the quinoa, and then fan out the beet chips. Add cut basil and freshly ground pepper to garnish.  

fall harvest cornbread cake

This dish is inspired by a Southwest camping trip through Arizona where corn is packed into every dish and cumin is king.  I was camping there and the idea of adding vegetables to cornbread struck me, I'll admit, mainly out of necessity to combine the very few ingredients we had in our possession.  

You’ll be surprised by how satisfied you are before you even take a bite

Now, fast forward to a Portland fall farmers markets. After an August of intense traveling coming back to a slow Saturday morning roaming the market is a dream. I love the mini eggplants each little bite adds so much color and texture, mix it with fresh sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and crunchy cornbread and you've got yourself hit. 

Mindful Eating Notes

The main suggestion I have for eating this dish mindfully is use your sense of smell! With the amount of rosemary and basil I recommend for this dish, the baking process will absolutely fill up your kitchen with so many lovely and enticing smells. Enjoy the whole cooking process by really noticing and enjoying the smell, let it fill you up and satisfy you  as well. Take in three deep breathes every couple of minutes including right before you sit down . You'll be surprised by how satisfied you are before you even take a bite! 

Cornbread Base
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1⁄4 cup butter (melted) 
1 1⁄2 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup white sugar + 2 tablespoons of raw sugar for texture
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Veggie Topping
2 cups cherry tomatoes, 
2 cups mushrooms,
1 carton of mini eggplants (about 10)
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
3/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
2-3 large springs of rosemary
1/2 cup of basil
olive or coconut oil / salt /pepper

*optional: 1/2 cup of cheddar or parmesean cheese 

The first thing to do here is preheat the oven to 350 and cut up the eggplant to small pieces, toss with coconut or olive oil and cumin, and start those puppies roasting in the oven on a baking sheet or pie dish. Roast those for about 30-40mins total until very soft, while you are doing this throw in your ears or corn for 5 mins, enough to soften just a little  so you can cut the kernels off the ear. 

While the eggplant is roasting, cut all your other veggies (your tomatoes and mushrooms, and corn) into small pieces and saute lightly with salt. This is mainly to drain excess water, add a generous helping of cumin to this mix as well. 

Next, make the cornbread base by mixing the milk, eggs, butter together, then adding the dry ingredients. Add the mixture to a buttered pie pan (or muffin tins)  then  add the veggie mixture on top. Bake for about 10 min then add the cheese and rosemary, bake for another 10 min and add the fresh basil at the very end. Tip: cut basil with scissors! (I wish someone told me that a long time ago, just try it)