Monday, December 20, 2010
Faux Potato and Leek Soup
Sunday morning we started our day at Whole Foods instead of the farmers’ market. I think this will be our new Sunday routine. We NEEDED kale for smoothies, tofu, and a few miscellaneous other things that are best from Whole Foods. I had to stroll around while we were there to see if there were any other goodies that I might need to bring home.
Since I knew I would be making soup today I decided to read the labels on the vegan bouillon packages. They either had too much sodium (seriously it was absurd) or palm oil. Really? I am sure the answer would be that it was organic but who cares. Needless to say I didn’t buy any vegan bouillon. This is what I mean about it is easy to be vegan but not as easy to be a healthy vegan. It is hard to now imagine that I used to find it hard to be vegan. *shakes head* Now I want to know something. Do you buy foods that contain too much sodium, palm oil or soy protein isolates or are there other things you avoid? Since many products contain these, even at Whole Foods, I am starting to feel like I am in the minority trying to avoid this stuff.
We didn’t start our morning at the gym because they are never open early on Sunday or Saturday. I can safely say both Dan and I are now both morning exercisers. I never thought that would happen since we aren’t morning people in general. We are thinking of hitting the gym this evening after the 3pm meal with my parents and before dinner but that was being overly optimistic. We just don’t seem to go to the gym unless it is in the morning. Fear not, we have plenty of exercise equipment at our house to get in a proper workout anytime. ;-)
Breakfast this morning was another green smoothie which contained: kale, frozen banana, cinnamon, ginger, ground flaxseed, walnuts and a touch of stevia for Dan. Like always Dan's smoothie contained double the banana and triple or more the amount of walnuts. He needs the calories and I am only 5’3” (when I stand up really tall) …. I really don’t need the extra calories.
My afternoon snack was another orange and two Brazil nuts for my daily selenium intake. Have you noticed the recent rut I am in? ;-)
Late in the morning Dan and I talked about what to make for the meal with my folks. I decided to rework a soup I made with cauliflower and white bean that tasted like potato only had a lower GI, more fiber and more nutrition not to mention fewer calories. Sounded like a good one to repeat to me. This time I decided to make it more like potato leek soup. Here is what I did:
Faux Potato Leek Soup
½ pound dried white beans, picked through sorted and rinsed
2 or 3 bay leaves
water to cover by at least an inch
1 large head of cauliflower
10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (don’t forget to let them sit 10 minutes before adding to the pot)
1 leek, light green and white (I also let this sit 10 minutes before cooking. It is from the onion family so it should have a similar chemical reaction taking place)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (enough to mimic the umami of butter but not so much as it make it cheesy)
¼ teaspoon mustard powder (to add a hint of heat in the background)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
optional – you can add raw cashews which you puree to make the soup “creamier”
Cook the beans until they are tender, and then remove the bay leaves. I cooked an entire pound of beans and moved ½ the batch to the refrigerator to use later this week.
Cut the cauliflower into rough chunks. The smaller the chunks the faster they will cook. Add the garlic now too and simmer until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Now you have two choices. Either puree the soup in batches in your blender or use your immersion blender. Since I never use my immersion blended I decided to use it thinking it would be fine since the cauliflower and beans were both pretty soft. Once again the texture was not spot on. I considering putting the soup in the Vitamix but didn’t want two appliances to wash. I might be too picky, or my Cuisinart immersion blender may not be strong enough. I am not sure which one it is. ;-)
Now add the remaining ingredients except the parsley and cook until the leeks are tender.
When you are reading to serve taste the soup, correct the seasonings and stir in the parsley leaving a little for garnish.
If you want to add the raw cashew process those in a “cream” with either a little of the soup or water and stir then into the soup at the end of cooking before you add the parsley.
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 218.11
Calories From Fat (3%) - 6.38
Total Fat - 0.7g
Saturated Fat - 0.14g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 92.38mg
Potassium - 1502.32mg
Total Carbohydrates - 40.03g
Fiber - 12.48g
Sugar - 6.57g
Protein - 14.42g
This tastes very much like potato leek soup to me. I am not sure I can actually tell the difference it is that close. The combination of the white beans and cauliflower mimics the texture extremely well though I do recommend that you use a regular blender to puree the soup.
Overall this soup was enjoyed by both the omnivores and the vegans. This is definitely a good soup base to play around with when you potato but something with more nutrition. I love the protein and fiber on this soup.
To accompany this soup we had a small salad of mesclun, cucumbers, marinated mushroms, roasted peppers and salsa. I added pumpkin seeds, but not to Dan's. ;-)
Challenging Yourself to Make a Change for the Better:
This is a subject I have wanted to talk about for some time and decided today was as good a day as any. Have you ever wanted to make a change but weren’t sure where to start? I think that happens to everyone at some point in their life. I know it has happened to me many times. The particular change I am going to address is changing your diet.
Dan and I were your typical foodies until not all that long ago. We would eat anything, and I do mean anything, that the chef suggested. We had some seriously delicious meals by doing that, expanded our culinary horizons, added weight, elevated our blood pressure and cholesterol all at the same time. ;-) However it all tasted good going down and we enjoyed it immensely in the moment.
Anyone can get away with dietary indiscretions when you are in your 20’s as the body seems to repair the damage and keep up. But as we get older and bombard our bodies with less than healthy food year after year, decade after decade things start to go wrong. Our bodies can’t repair the damage as quickly as we can cause it. The signs might be subtle like a slightly elevated blood pressure, cholesterol or weight. However the signs can also be much more dramatic like a TIA or worse cancer. Some people, like us, need a serious wake up call to make a big change in their life. In retrospect I wish we had known more about nutrition years ago. If we had I feel certain things would have been very different.
One of the reasons I started this blog was to share not only recipes but how to eat a healthy diet and prevent the diseases of affluence that come from eating the standard American Diet (SAD). You may wonder why I am mentioning the SAD since that doesn’t apply to vegans. Actually it can and does apply to vegans if they eat a lot processed food and not much fresh produce.
Our first five years or so cooking vegan food I was always trying to recreate omni meals. I perfected seitan and we ate it often. We also ate a lot of pizza (which we now only eat when we go out) and the pasta was free flowing. Was it vegan? Absolutely it was vegan. Was it healthy? Now there is the rub it wasn’t exactly healthy. Sure it had vegetables but I wouldn’t call it healthy food. Better than most is not the same as good or optimal. Before I forget the early recipes on my blog I no longer consider healthy enough. Just a quick heads up on that one.
Now our diet is definitely much healthier and is almost exclusively based on whole plant-based foods. Initially I thought eating a diet based on whole foods would be limiting, repetitive and not very satisfying. About a month after I decided to stop cooking with processed foods (sugar, oil, flour, etc.) my cooking started to change dramatically. I ended up needing to get more creative with the products I was using. I also started to challenge myself to make our food taste even better since I wanted this to become a lifestyle and not another passing fad. In the end I think we now eat not only a healthier diet but a better tasting one. This was not what I expected but it is what happened.
I am telling you this because if you are looking to make a change in your diet but you don’t know where to start because you need to eliminate too many things just start with one thing. I would suggest you challenge yourself to change the most detrimental thing first, whatever that is for you. Get used to that change and make the next one. Just keeping moving forward and making changes. It really is possible to turn things around health wise. I feel better at 48 than I did at 38 and maybe better than 28, though I am not entirely certain how I felt like 20 years ago to be honest. ;-) When you fuel your body with healthy food it makes a difference on many levels.
It helped me to educate myself as to the health benefits of changing our lifestyle. I find that once I have learned something I can’t unlearn it. That is why you don’t see me making cookies for the holidays. I can’t convince myself that I am showing people I care about them by giving those things that are bad for their health. Is this going against the flow? It is absolutely going against the flow and in a big way too. Some people with support your healthy changes but sadly most will not. Worse yet those that don’t will be vocal about it.
The worst part of making a dietary change for the better is that people that were your friends will get mad at you and may even call you names or worse. I know because this has happened to me. I realize this is because our diet/lifestyle is highlighting the problems with their habits which they aren’t ready to acknowledge and/or change. While this is sad it is also life. Not everyone is ready to make serious changes and that is just the way it is. However, they shouldn’t criticize others who are trying to make changes for the better. For whatever reason a large part of society seems to find it easier to put down someone else rather than acknowledge things they could/should change. I suppose this is the worst part of changing your habits. It isn’t the dietary change itself but the reaction from “so called” friends. In the end I came to the conclusion that these people weren’t actually friends in the first place so it was no big loss. :-/
I feel strongly that it is important to do your homework and educate yourself about what constitutes a healthy diet. I know when I did that it changed the way I look at food. That change in vision, or food philosophy, was the only reason I was able to move us to the diet that you see today. As I have said many times I am not certain I would have been smart enough or motivated enough to make these dramatic changes before cancer. But now that I have learned much more about nutrition I can’t image ever going back to the way we used to live. I feel too good and the lab results show such dramatic improvement there really is no way we are going to throw that away.
If any of you want to make changes and don’t know where to start feel free to email me. It may take me a few days to get back to you since I am backed up at the moment. But if you need to bounce ideas off someone feel free to send me an email. Also I would be happy to recommend books for you to read so that you can educate yourself as to what is right for you. I really do believe learning about nutrition is the best overall approach because then you know what changes you need to make and why they should be permanent.
We eat such a late lunch with my parents on the weekend that we frequently aren’t hungry for dinner and that is what happened again Sunday night. We spent the evening relaxing and Dan watched some sci fi (The Lost Room) he DVR’s while I read and chatted on-line. It was a very laid back evening which I think we all need as often as possible. Stress is another one of those things that isn’t good for anyone’s health. We try to relax as often as possible. ;-)
Sunday was a very introspective day for me. I have many things to be happy about:
• I am very thankful to be married to such an open minded man. He goes along with my desire to make our diet healthy without complaint. He even listens when I tell him what I learned about nutrition/health each day. Much to my surprise when I send him an article to read about nutrition he actually reads them. I am very lucky to be married to the man who is perfect for me. I wouldn’t do well with someone that was close minded and rigid. I love you sweetie and thank you for being you.
• Sunday we had another good pureed soup. I had almost forgotten how well cauliflower and white bean work to mimic potato soup. Maybe next time I make “faux mashed potatoes” I might add some white bean to them. I love playing with my food. LOL
• I am also thankful for a sweet little angel, Massimo, who goes to bed on his own each night and waits for us to join him. Have you noticed now much I adore the felines?
• A good friend sent me an article to read today. I love this stuff, LOL. This one is on different varieties of rice and the iron, zinc and phytic acid content and I can’t wait to read it. Am I a nutrition geek or what? ;-) Thanks again C! You are the best! I really appreciate it.
• This morning there was the most gorgeous sunrise as we were leaving the gym. I put a picture on twitter if you want to see it now. Otherwise it will be in the post tomorrow. The colors were absolutely spectacular.
• I really enjoyed being back at the gym this morning. My knee was a little painful but not bad, definitely better than it had been. Also I was able to get my calorie burn back up to 500 so that made me very happy! I had put on 4 pounds in the last month that I want back off. So far 2.5 down and 1.5 to go. In my perfect world those will be gone before 1/1/2011.
• According to the weather today we may get a white Christmas. I don’t remember ever having one of those in the last 30 years I lived in Maryland. It will be nice to have snow falling on Christmas. I really hope the weather people are right about this. ;-)
• I am happy that my friend Deirdre who was in a car accident last night is fine. We are worried about you please keep us posted.
It is almost Christmas and I am getting really excited about it. I love Christmas and look forward to it every year. I am such a little kid and Christmas time, LOL.
Do you have any holiday traditions at Christmas? We have a few that I love. We always get a few new ornaments for the tree and more holiday decorations in general. Since Lasagna is a traditional Italian feast food it always makes an appearance either as a side dish or main dish either on Christmas or New Years. We used to do the feast of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve but that I have no idea how to veganize, LOL. The other two things we always did were open on present Christmas Eve before we went to sleep, and then have mimosas on Christmas Day.
It is time for me to be productive at home. I still need to do my strength training and get started on my day.
I will talk to you again tomorrow. I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy day.