recipes

Two Soup Sunday: French Lentil and Turkey Meatball with Orzo and Greens

In a strangely ambitious state for a Sunday morning, I whipped together these two soups that will help us through the week's meals. We love having a pot of soup in the fridge to fall back on as a light dinner with a salad or as part of lunch. The French Lentil soup here is gluten free and vegan, and the "French" part of it refers to the small green/gray lentils called Le Puy lentils. You definitely want these and not red, yellow or brown lentils. These have wonderful flavor and they will retain their shape after cooking, unlike other varieties. Both of these recipes are adapted from Epicurious. I got so caught up in cooking that I didn't remember to pull out the camera until the first soup was done, so the only photo of the Turkey Meatball soup is the finished product. I hope you'll enjoy making one or both of these soups! 

TURKEY MEATBALL SOUP WITH ORZO AND GREENS

Ingredients - For the meatballs

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup plain, dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound organic ground turkey breast
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the egg and water in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes. Add turkey, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into small meatballs (about 1.25" diameter). Place on baking sheet; cover and chill 30 minutes. (FYI, my meatball yield was 34. They could have been a little smaller and I probably would have gotten 40 out of the recipe.)

Ingredients--for the soup

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano 
  • 8 cups low salt or unsalted chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup orzo (rice shaped pasta)
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped greens--for this batch I used escarole. You could use kale, spinach, or your choice of other leafy green

Heat oil in a 8-quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and saute about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and oregano, and stir thoroughly, cooking another minute or two. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chilled turkey meatballs, turn the heat down slightly and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Add orzo and 4 cups of water; bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again and cook for 12-15 minutes, until orzo is done. Turn heat off and stir in the greens, and cover the pot. It's ready to serve when the greens are wilted. 

FRENCH LENTIL SOUP

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups French lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic; saute until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups of stock, lentils and tomatoes with juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35-40 minutes. 

Transfer 2 cups of the soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with 2 cups water. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if desired. 

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Season's Eatings: Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes

I've been making these for the past 3-4 years as our breakfast on Christmas morning. Top them with butter and maple syrup or, if you're like me and find them sweet enough without the syrup, just top them with some fresh berries. The composition of these, with the whole wheat flour and Greek yogurt, give these cakes more "staying power" than traditional pancake mix cakes, not to mention an uptick in overall nutrient value. Enjoy these pancakes on Christmas day or whenever the mood strikes you for pancakes that are deliciously different! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 7-oz container Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, nutmeg and coconut sugar.
  2. In another bowl, combine the egg, melted butter, yogurt and milk. Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Batter will be thicker than other pancake batter.
  3. Cook batter on a greased skillet until golden on both sides.
  4. ENJOY!

We Kicked Clif To The Curb...And We're Not Sorry.

Clif Bars. They were a staple of existence for us for a good while--Norm especially, as an energy source that could easily slip into a cycling jersey pocket. But earlier this fall we made a commitment to overall "cleaner" eating which, by our definition, meant eating even fewer processed foods. On the whole, we probably eat at least 75% fewer processed foods than a lot of people we know, but we figured there's still plenty of room for improvement. We felt this was one area where we could do better with homemade, and probably with very little effort. 

So, take the ingredients of the Clif bar variety that was often found in our pantry (Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch) :

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Peanut Butter, Rice Flour, Peanuts, Organic Soy Flour, Peanut Flour, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Dried Cane Syrup, Unsweetened Chocolate‡, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Cocoa Butter‡, Barley Malt Extract, Soy Lecithin.

The first thing I'm going to say about this list is that there is not one, but THREE kinds of syrup listed, and one of them is the primary ingredient. The second thing I notice is that there are four sources of soy, and three kinds of flour. Yeah, I think I can do better. So what did I want from a homemade bar? 

  • 10 ingredients or less
  • No baking or cooking
  • Easily accessible pantry staples
  • GREAT TASTE

Well, I'm happy to say, we got what we wanted. I now make a batch of these once a week, wrap them individually and keep them in the refrigerator. This recipe makes eight generous (Clif bar-sized) bars. I switch out the fruit, depending on what we have, or it can be left out entirely. The addition of cinnamon (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) with raisins as the fruit would be an awesome way to change it up as well.  I use regular rolled oats, but you can make these gluten free by using G/F oats.

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NO-BAKE ENERGY/SNACK BARS

Mix these dry ingredients together (scant measurement--don't go overboard with the dry items)

  • 1 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (favorites here are blueberries, cranberries or cherries)

Put these wet ingredients (you can be generous with these measurements) in a microwave-safe measuring cup, and heat them for 30 seconds, to make them easier to incorporate into the dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup all natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry, and then turn into a 8 x 11.5 inch baking pan that has been lightly oiled (I use either coconut oil or avocado oil). Press the mixture firmly into the pan. It will be sticky--I find that applying a little of the oil to my fingertips as well as the pan can help in the pressing process. Refrigerate until firm, and then cut into whatever size bars or bites you wish. Wrap individually if desired, or cover the pan with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

If you try these, let me know how you think we did! Were we right to kick old Clif to the curb?  What other healthy, delicious options can you come up with for this recipe?

 

Recipe: We're Having A Ball Over Here!

I am primarily a coffee fan, but lately I've had an on-again, off-again flirtation with matcha. Loving the fact that energy balls are one of my favorite snack options, I was really happy to find this recipe that's easy to make, and packs a lot of nutrition into one little bite. These are simultaneously energizing, filling, and a great option for pre- or post-workout. 

Less than 10 ingredients, 5 minutes to make in your food processor and you've got a snack that's packed with healthy fats, plant-based protein and natural sweetener. 

MATCHA PROTEIN BALLS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

10-12 medjool dates, pitted

1 scoop Life's Abundance vanilla protein powder

2 tablespoons almond butter

2 teaspoons culinary grade matcha powder

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional; sub water if desired)

1-2 tablespoons water (as needed)

METHOD:

Add nuts and dates to processor and process on high until finely ground. Add almond butter, protein powder and matcha and process again until a dough begins to form. If mixture is too dry, add maple syrup and/or water until the mixture comes together in a sticky dough. Form into balls to store in the refrigerator or freezer.