Green Beans Almondine

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Happy Hump Day, everyone! I hope everyone is having a stellar start to their day today. I went for a super speedy 5 mile run this morning and it felt GREAT. It was one of those good ones where you feel fantastic from start to finish, and you really go for it. It’s a good feeling to be able to step on the gas when you hear a power song on your playlist! This morning brought perfect run conditions for me: dark (stars were out!), quiet (it was 5 am), prime temperature (55Β°F / 13Β°C) and I was feeling really zippy. All around awesome, and a great way to start the second half of my week! Booyah!

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It was still pretty dark when I finished my run around 6 am.

Two nights ago I made this super simple, yet extremely delicious side dish. My mom sent me home from Rochester with Ang’s sauce (translation: the secret family recipe of marinara sauce), and I made this dish to accompany the luscious and comforting tomato sauce. I bought a boatload of fresh, snappy green beans at a local farm stand, and this is one of my favorite ways to prepare them. The best part? There are three ingredients, and it takes only about 15 – 20 minutes to whip this up. πŸ˜‰

Green Beans Almondine

Ingredients

  • Green beans (~1 lb)
  • 4 oz slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance

Directions

  1. Cut the ends off your green beans and chop them in half. Steam green beans for 3 minutes (you want the green beans to still be firm and slightly crunchy). Once steamed, transfer your green beans to a plate or bowl and set aside.

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    The green beans after steaming.

  2. Over medium-high heat, add the Earth Balance. Once the butter has melted, add the slivered almonds. While continuously stirring (otherwise these suckers will brown), cook the almonds until fragrant and lightly golden, 1 – 2 minutes.

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    Right after adding the slivered almonds to the hot (vegan) butter.

  3. Add the steamed green beans to the pan, cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until the almonds are golden brown.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy! πŸ˜€
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The finished product. πŸ˜‰

I hadn’t eaten this dish for awhile, so when I got my first bite, it was a big “Mmmmm!” moment. This dish is really, really good. Even though it’s simple, your family/friends/dinner party guests will be uber impressed by the big flavor impact. The toasted almonds really give a nice foil to the crunchy texture of the green beans. YUM. Also, you can feel really good about eating this dish, since green beans are full of phytonutrients and good things for you! In addition to conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene, green beans contain important amounts of the antioxidant mineral manganese. However, the area where green beans really shine is through in their antioxidant value. Green beans contain a wide variety of carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties. The overall antioxidant capacity of green beans has been measured in several research studies, and in one study, green beans were shown to have greater overall antioxidant capacity than similar foods in the pea and bean families (for example, snow peas or winged beans). Woo! Go green beans!

I hope that you guys enjoy this dish as much as I did. Happy Hump Day, everyone! πŸ™‚

With warmth,

L

7 Mile Trail Race Recap

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Hey everyone! This Sunday, I ran a 7 mile trail race that was so epic and SO much fun! I did okay for me – I finished in about 1:05, with a pace of 9:21/mile and was in the top 50% of finishers. I was hoping to do a little better than that, but I had two factors working against me: 1. The day before the race, I went on a 4.5 hour, ~35 mile biking adventure with my friend R (whooops!) all over the state of Massachusetts and 2. I was literally running through a forest of ragweed, so my lungs were in serious revolt. Overall, it was awesome, and the post-race party seemed like a grand ol’time, but I had to jet early to watch my Billsies crush the Colts. The Bills Mafia is walking on a cloud today after that win! πŸ™‚

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The view at the Buffalo Bills backers bar in Boston. ❀ ❀ ❀ So much Western New York in one space! YAS!

First, let’s start off with my epic bike adventure on Saturday. R and I rode along the a lot of awesome trails: from the Minute Man Commuter Bikeway (a paved path) to the Minute Man Battle Road (loose gravel/sand) to main roads to dirt trails in Bedford. We covered somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 miles trails over 4.5 hours of biking. Getting off that bike, my legs were feeling pretty wobbly. Obviously, I do not suggest this if you are preparing for a 7 mile race the next day. I spent quality time in compression socks with my legs elevated after that, but there’s really only so much you can do once you’ve burned out your legs the day before a race. It’s almost good practice for me though – steeling yourself with the mental toughness to get through 7 miles on tired legs. Sounds kind of like the self-doubt-crushing mental toughness you’d need during a half marathon, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

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On the Minute Man Battle Road in Concord, MA on our biking adventure.

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Another view from the Minute Man Park Battle Road that R and I biked on Saturday.

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R and I ate a lunch of PB&J by the Meriam House at the end of Battle Road. It was very picturesque. The only battling we did was squashing our quads, and we slayed those PB&J sandwiches.

Now, let’s get right to the race.

The trail was fairly flat, a majority of it was very rocky so you had to be careful and watch your step – I didn’t want to eat it and bust my sass seven days out from my first of three fall half marathons, so I kept telling myself to slow down. That was the hardest part – putting a lasso on my pace when I was feeling strong, and then dealing with the frustration of feeling like my lungs were letting me down when I was climbing hills or trying to speed up my pace. Regardless of those challenges, I had a blast, and really enjoyed it – it was cool and misty, and felt like a great kick off to fall racing season. With each race, you learn, so I was really glad about some of my race prep that I incorporated into my routine. Everyone is different, so your pre-race ritual may not be the same as mine, but I did a lot of planning ahead. Here are some things I’m glad I planned ahead:Β 

  1. I pre-made my breakfast. I made overnight oats the night before, so I could get up early, grab and go, and eat my oats in the parking lot about an hour before gun time.

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    Overnight oats with fresh blueberries and blackberries, coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter and cinnamon. The perf pre-race breakfast!

  2. I packed a ton of water to bring in the car, for both before and after my race.
  3. I brought a book to read while I waited. I got to the parking lot super early, and instead of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook a million times, I read in my car. It distracted me and allowed me to focus on something other than my pre-race anxiety.
  4. I brought a post-race outfit: jacket, compression sleeves and flip flops to change into after the race. I knew I’d be a) freezing and b) my feet would be sore, so I brought layers to keep me warm, compression sleeves for recovery, and flip flops so I could immediately ditch my shoes. IMG_3663
  5. I packed a post-race PB&J. You never know what will be offered for food after the race (there may be limited vegetarian/vegan options), so it’s always a smart idea to bring your own snacks to refuel.

The best part? The post-race beer/cider, of course.

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All the local breweries were there, and I’m really excited to try Downeast Pumpkin Cider for fall – it looked sooooo good (but was only for the Downeast Running Club VIPs – womp)!! All in all, awesome race, I was stoked to run trails instead of roads and I can’t wait to do another trail race. BOOYAH!!! I’m so in love with trail running! ❀

So, what did you guys do this weekend? Anyone else completely burn out their legs? Tell me all about it in the comments. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€Β 

With warmth,

L

Sunday Simmer: Warming White Bean and Pesto Soup

Hello, hello! Happy Monday. It is really chucking down rain out here in Boston, so today is the perfect day for the soup I made yesterday! I had a very good relaxing/restive weekend, and I hope you guys did too. I made my return to the yoga studio after long runs/half marathon training and my cross-training classes at the gym sucked up most of my free time this fall. The chill is in the air outside (bye summer!), and that heated studio and my mat were calling my name. And man, I am so glad I did! I am facing my week feeling very zen. After feeling very warm and melty on the inside after savasana, I wanted something just as warming to eat last night. So, I made this soup, with white beans, leeks, red potatoes, Swiss chard, carrots, a whole bunch of fresh herbs and a little bit of pesto for pop. And damn, was it good! It was a little bit like a unique form of torture waiting for it to be ready and smelling the herbs and vegetables melding and harmonizing together in steamy cloud in my kitchen. Last night I felt like I was in a cartoon with those wavy lines coming off the pot and me, with my nose leading, following them into the kitchen. YUM. Lucky for me, from start to finish, this soup probably only takes about 45 minutes to make (depending on how fast of a chopper you are!) – the simmer time is only 10 – 15 minutes. The best part (there always is a pretty solid “best part” on B&B, I assure you) is that one large serving is only about ~200 calories. YES! You can still fit into your skinny jeans the next day (or, whatever adorbs outfit you’re feeling). πŸ˜‰ The second best part is that the taste-to-difficulty ratio is low: you basically chop some veggies, stick ’em in a pot and BOOM: amazing, healthy and immensely satisfying meal (especially on a cold, rainy day with horrid traffic like today).

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Warming White Bean and Pesto Soup – serve with a delicious piece of crusty bread and voila – perfect soothing, warm meal for a chilly and rainy day!

Warming White Bean and Pesto Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cans (16 oz) Cannelini beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 large leek, washed and sliced*
  • 3 large carrots, washed and sliced (I don’t bother peeling, whatev)
  • 1 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 3 (packed) cups rainbow chard, washed and chopped
  • 2 containers of veggie broth (32 oz each – 8 cups in total)
  • A bunch of fresh herbs: ~ 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, 1/2 Tbsp thyme, 8 – 10 sage leaves, chopped**
  • 2 (heaping) Tbsp pesto***

*Leeks are super tasty but a pain in the ass to clean. I fill a large bowl with tap water, and as I chop, I throw the chopped pieces of leek into the bowl of water and swirl/rub to remove the dirt and grit. You def do not want that in your soup! Once they are cleaned off (they float!), I simply scoop them out of the bowl and gave them a good shake to remove excess water. It doesn’t really matter if they aren’t super dry because they are headed straight for that soup pot.

**I bought a pack of “poultry blend” fresh herbs at the grocery store and it contained rosemary, thyme and sage. I figured that would pair well with these ingredients, and it did! Use whatever you like – parsley, dill, whatever your fave is. I really liked this combo in the soup, so I would definitely try it out if I were you.

***You can use your own homemade pesto, store bought if you’re in a time crunch, or follow my recipe for pesto (there’s a vegan AND vegetarian version!) below. Whatever works for you. πŸ™‚

Directions:

Step One: Prep all your veggies first, that way, all you do is dump them in when it’s “Go Time”.
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I set two bowls up while I was chopping: one large and one small. Into the small, I put the chopped onion, leek and minced garlic (which I ended up just dumping straight into my saucepan once the oil was heated up – so easy!). In the large, I put the potato, carrot, Swiss chard and herbs (the beans were draining in a colander after rinsing) – this one I also just up-ended straight into the saucepan once the broth was simmering. Makes life just a little easier to have all your veggies in one place.

Step Two: Once all your veggies are ready to go, heat ~1 Tbsp olive oil and saute the onion, leek and garlic in a large saucepan.
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I’m aware this picture kind of sucks, but there was so much steam coming off the onion/leek/garlic mixture it was hard to get a good one! Saute for a few minutes, or until the onions are starting to become translucent.

Step Three: After about 5 – 6 minutes of saute time, add one box of the broth (32 oz or 4 cups), and bring to a simmer.
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Make sure you get a nice, rolling bubble on that broth before you start adding veggies. It will cut down on the cooking time and you’ll get to eat this delicious soup faster.

Step Four: Add all your remaining veggies, beans, fresh herbs and enough veggie broth to cover them. The Swiss chard will cook down, but make sure there is enough liquid to submerge all your veggies (I used both boxes of veggie broth, but just in case your saucepan is a bit smaller than mine – add it gradually).
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Just for a visual, that is about how much fresh herbs I added in total – almost a small handful. The more the merrier, it really adds great flavor to the soup.

Step Five: Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and allow to simmer on low for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender (aka you can easily insert a fork in them, but they are not so cooked that they are disintegrating into the broth).
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Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. Unless your broth is low-sodium, you probably can skip the salt altogether, so you don’t end up with salt overload and puffy eyes like I did today. πŸ˜›

Step Six: Swirl in pesto and enjoy! πŸ˜€
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Soup sans pesto – it’s pretty damn delicious pesto-less. I ate a whole bowl plain first before I convinced myself it needed “something.”

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Soup with pesto added – YUMMMM!!! The pesto gives it just a little bit of something special. πŸ˜‰

So, not going to lie – I didn’t originally have plans to add pesto to this soup. But, it needed SOMETHING. The soup itself is wonderful with just the fresh herbs, it tastes fresh and light, but to give it a little somethin’ somethin’, I added the pesto for a flavor ka-POW. Pesto is one of my favorite things in life (for real – every birthday, if it isn’t vegetarian buffalo “wings”, it’s pesto) and it has a multitude of uses beyond pasta (spaghetti squash pasta, zoodles or otherwise). It adds a bright, fresh flavor to any dish. If you’re not in a time crunch, take a moment to whip up this pretty dope version. Obviously, it tastes the best when you use fresh basil that is in season, but I found some pretty legit fresh and hydroponically grown basil in the grocery store.

L’s Bomb Pesto:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (or Romano cheese, if you’re not vegan)*
  • 5 Tbsp pine nuts (or chopped walnuts, if that’s more your style)
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 5 cloves of garlic, minced)

*If you’re not down with the nutritional yeast, try “diluting” it with cashews (blend nutritional yeast & cashews together in a 3:1 cashew : yeast ratio and add 1/2 cup of the mixture in place of the cheese). OR, substitute my sister J’s fave brand Go Veggie! Vegan Parmesan cheese.

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a food processor and blast until they are finely chopped into a pesto-like consistency (just enough so that the nuts are chopped). Add more olive oil if necessary. If you want to be a cooking rockstar, after adding the two tablespoons to the soup, divide the remaining pesto into a clean ice cube tray and freeze – that way, you can take one “pesto cube” out of the tray and use as necessary without thawing a whole container. Genius, eh? πŸ˜€ Once they are completely frozen, you can pop them out of the tray and place them into a freezer bag or airtight container for storage (and to make room in your freezer).

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did, I am preeeeeeeettty excited to go for round 2 at lunch today. Yum.

Happy Monday, everyone! ❀

xoxox

L

Basic B*tch Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

photo 1Between gallivanting around Colorado two-ish weeks ago, and being a stand-in instructor for boot camp on Tuesday, I was due for a good ass kicking to get back into the training game for my upcoming half (Ok, I mean it’s upcoming in February, but I don’t want to lose my momentum now!). Well, my trainer was back from her much-deserved vacation and yesterday my ass was sufficiently kicked by the TRX band rows/T,Y,I workout, box jumps, sit-ups, and sled push (I pushed 108% of my body weight! Hollaaaaa!) – just to name a few. And then again this morning (some highlights include: lots of push-ups in different forms, and the love child of my two fave cardio exercises: box jump burpees). Needless to say, I am feeling the sores today. My foam roller and I have a hot date tooooonighttt, ow owwww!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

In the spirit of training, I am ready to get my head in the game. And as a vegetarian, it’s imperative that I get enough prots per day to build up those muscles (without going overboard, and drinking plenty of water so I don’t get those weird protein kidney stones – I can already hear my nutritionist prof sister Dr. J bossing informing me of the proper intake requirements). What to do? Well, I bought 10 lbs of whey protein* on Amazon prime (double chocolate and vanilla) and am going to start making some crazy smoothie creations! I’ve really been feeling the fall, and the orange foods so I figured – what the hell? I’ll try to make a smoothie that tastes like pumpkin pie. Why not.

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Ingredients: Vanilla protein powder*, pureed pumpkin, frozen banana, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice (not pictured: almond milk).

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin (I think 1/2 cup would do it, that was a little excessive)
  • 2 dates (for sweetness/fiber, can substitute 1/2 Tbsp honey)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (plus a few extra shakes cinnamon and a pinch of ginger)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (either my vanilla protein kinda sucks or that was too much – I’d try 1/2 scoop)*
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
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Before and after blending.

*Fret not my vegan loves! There are TONS and TONS of vegan protein substitutions to make. A new fave is pea/hemp protein powder. πŸ˜€

Directions:

Blend until smooth. Add almond milk to achieve desired thickness. Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on top to garnish. Wrap on an infinity scarf, take a break from your Pinterest “Quotes” board, unwrap your hands from around your pumpkin spice latte and Enjoy! πŸ˜€

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I like my smoothies pretty thick, so I only used 1/2 cup of almond milk.

I love these smoothie creations because a) they are fantastic after working out, b) they taste like a dessert and c) they are a great way to sneak a little extra protein in your diet at the end of the day. Because I work out in the morning, get ready at the gym and go straight to work, I usually reserve smoothies for weekends after working out, during the week after a long evening run, or as a dessert treat after dinner. The recipe I made up last night is not the lowest in calories (it’s around 450 calories – oooops!), to make a “lighter” version: use 1/2 banana (53 cal), 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (50 cal), skip the dates/honey, and use 1/2 scoop protein powder (~65 cal), plus the spices, vanilla and almond milk – that should get you right around 200 calories. Even the lightened up version is awesome.

photo 2photo 3This was a definitely a successful creation – I’m looking forward to tweaking it to get that pumpkin pie flavor just right. It definitely filled me up, tasted rich, creamy and decadent, and was very on trend with Autumn. Yum. I hope you guys like it just as much as I did! πŸ˜›

Have a great one, and don’t forget to drink water ❀

L

Balls-to-the-Wall* Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup, garnished with freshly ground black pepper and a lime slice.

*Balls to the Wall: Meaning: intense, extreme, to the max. Although the origin of this expression is relatively benign, most people assume it is a reference to testicles (I mean, that’s fine too, if you’re into that). It’s actually from fighter planes: when accelerating quickly, the throttle is pushed all the way to the panel and the throttle lever (ball) actually touches the panel (wall). Hence, balls to the wall. πŸ˜‰

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Butternut squash (local from MA!), ginger root and potato are key players in this amazing creation.

Last night I made a butternut squash soup that was out of this world. The creamy texture of the butternut squash makes this soup silky smooth and feel really decadent, even though a 1-1/4 cup serving has only 182 calories (say WHAT!!!). Also this soup is vegan, gluten-free AND paleo (win all around). Pureed soups always seem a little intense to me (my general feeling is “Ain’t nobody got time for that”), but this one was really not that labor-intensive. It consists of shoving a butternut squash and baking potato into the oven, walking away for ~75 minutes, sauteeing some onion and spices and putting it into a blender, removing the stuff from the oven, and pureeing the sh*t out of it. The most difficult part is waiting for it to be ready. And, not eating all of the butternut squash before you can puree it, because gotDAMN it is good! πŸ˜€ Without further ado…

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Ingredients, plus a butternut squash and a potato. I’m looking at you devil onion, for making me cry more than any of my ex-bfs.

Balls-to-the-Wall Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped*
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (~ 1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 heaping Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 medium-ish butternut squash, quartered
  • 3 cups veggie stock
  • 1 baking potato
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can of light coconut milk
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: lime wedges and cilantro for garnish

*I used a red onion and balled my eyes out, feel free to use whatever you have on hand if you don’t want mascara running down your face into your soup. It was intense, man!

Directions:

Step One: Prep your squash. You can cut it into two and just roast the halves if you’d like, I simply quartered it because it was easier, and as I’ve mentioned before, I like to avoid chopping off any phalanges. I poked a fork into it a few times because it was making weird noises in the oven, but I don’t think that’s really necessary. You definitely need to poke your baking potato with a fork on both sides, or that little guy will explode and make a mess of your oven. Ain’t nobody got time to clean up after that.
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Quartered butternut squash ready to go into the oven. Roast at 425F for 90 minutes.

Step Two: Bake squash and potato at 425Β°F for 90 minutes (Yeah, that seems like a really long time, but you want to be able to easily scoop out your squash and potato to puree it. I started the next step about 75 minutes into roasting time. It’s kind of nice to have a solid 75 minutes to do something you enjoy, like RELAX!).
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Butternut squash after roasting. You should be able to (VERY) easily insert a knife into the squash.

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I used a fork to hold my squash in place while I scraped out the roasted flesh. If you try to hold it with your fingers, like I did, I promise that you WILL burn them.

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Like your squash, your baking potato should be soft enough to easily remove from the potato skin after roasting.

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This picture is here to illustrate why you should 100% line your pan with aluminum foil – you can roll up the zombified remains of your squash husk into a foil swan and toss when you’re done! Ta-da! Easy clean-up.

Step Three: SautΓ© onion, garlic, ginger and curry paste in a large saucepan (There are other things I’d like to do with my time than wash dishes, so I sauteed the above ingredients directly in the pan I was going to use later to re-heat my soup after pureeing. If you want to achieve orange-y creamy butternut-y perfection, use a small skillet, otherwise you may get little flakes of whatever’s left in the saucepan in your soup. Eh, there are worse things in life, amiright?!). Cook the ingredients about 8 minutes, or until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally. When it’s all cooked up, transfer to a blender.
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Sauteed onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste ready for blending.

Step Four: Blend. Once your squash is soft enough to scoop out of its rind, scoop about half of the squash and place into the blender (And/or say a prayer: it was my first time using a Vita-Mix unsupervised!). Add about half of the veggie stock, and blend until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan if it needs to be re-heated, or directly into a large bowl. Repeat for the remaining squash and the potato (removing the potato from the skin, of course).
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Don’t forget to add about half the veggie broth for puree-ing!

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This Vita-Mix is a magical creature, like a kitchen unicorn. It is amazinggggggg!

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Blend until smooth and there are no weird chunks hiding in your soup. Make sure you allow the steam to escape while blending by removing the center piece of the lid. You can place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid to avoid decorating your kitchen butternut-orange.

Step Five: Combine. Once all of your butternut squash, onion mixture and potato are pureed into velvety goodness, add the coconut milk and lime juice and stir. Reheat on low, if necessary.
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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Step Six: Enjoy! Sprinkle with extra black pepper (it makes the flavors really pop). You can garnish with a lime wedge, and cilantro, if desired.
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So delicious. I ate two bowls.

Choose-Your-Adventure Alternative Ending: You can make this soup using all of the same ingredients in a crock-pot (ahem, I’m sorry, “electric slow cooker”). Skip straight to Step Three, then transfer the onion mixture into a 6-quart crock-pot. Add the squash (~8 cups chopped and peeled), potato, and veggie stock. Cover and cook on low for 6 -8 hours (or until squash is tender). Then continue at Step Four. It’s always good to have options. πŸ˜‰

This is a really fantastic soup. It tastes really impressive, because the flavor profile is pretty bangin’, but it is not that difficult to make. Totally worth it – I am definitely a convert to the pureed soup arena. I hope you like it as much as I did! And the best part: no balls were harmed during the making of this soup. I’m actually pretty stoked to have a bowl after my run tonight, now that it gets dark so early, it will be an extra special warm treat when I come inside!

Enjoy, enjoy! And happy HUMP DAAAAAAAAY!

Full throttle,

L

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad

Despite it being a very un-autumn 81 degrees and sunny in Boston yesterday, I decided to quest on with my farm market haul roasting party. Pumpkin, beets, green beans, oh my! You also may wonder: WTF is an un-salad? An un-salad is the only type of salad that qualifies under my sister J’s personal preference requirement – a salad without lettuce/leafy greens as the primary component. Give it any other vegetable/grain base and she’s all for it. Ain’t nothing wrong with that – un-salads are salads too, man. This particular one is especially tasty, not too complicated and gets you into the autumn spirit faster than you can say “Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte!”

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Ingredients for Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad. Disregard that tofu – I was just making my weekly ration of Best Tofu Ever simultaneously!

I also like to point out that this meal is 3 for the price of 1 (or ~3 1/2 really, with the pumpkin seeds – more on that later). You have the un-salad, roasted pumpkin andΒ  roasted beets. They can be eaten together, separately, used in other things. You can break up the components completely and have it any way you damn well please. How fun is that? I’ll tell you how I made mine last night, and you can go from there!

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad

Ingredients

For the un-salad:

1 15.5 oz can chickpeas*

1 cup of barley**

~2 cups green beans, ends trimmed and sliced into halves***

1 pound sugar pumpkin, unpeeled and sliced thinly***

3 medium beets, peeled, trimmed and sliced

Optional: goat’s cheese and toasted pepitas to top it off

*Or 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in a bowl of cold water. You would drain, rinse and add these in to cook with the barley.

**Or pearl barley, but I couldn’t find that at Stop N’Shop. Or, substitute your favorite gluten-free grain!

***My pumpkin was way bigger, and I used several handfuls of green beans because I really like them – see image.

For the dressing:

3 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil*

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (at least – I used much more, you can’t really overdo it)

*Usually coconut oil is solid at room temperature, I microwaved it for ~30 seconds to melt it in order to incorporate it into the dressing.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400Β°F. Start prepping your veggies. Set aside your pumpkin seeds for later – we will be doing something fun with those tomorrow! πŸ™‚

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Chop the pumpkin in thin slices. Make sure your knife is sharp enough, you don’t want to be hacking away at the pumpkin with a dull knife.

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Scoop the pumpkin seeds out and set aside. I rinsed, drained, patted them dry and put them in a mason jar to save for tonight’s recipe.

2. Meanwhile, cook the barley in a medium saucepan of boiling water, about 20 minutes or until tender. Add the chickpeas and green beans to the pan during the last minute of cooking time. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

3. Make the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a screw top jar, season with salt and pepper to taste, and shake well to combine. Divide the dressing into three portions.

4. Once your pumpkin and beets are ready for roasting, toss them in about 1/3 of the dressing each and place them in a lined baking dish. Make sure your pumpkin and beets are in a single layer to roast, otherwise it takes forever. Roast about 30 – 40 minutes or until caramelized and tender.

photo 1

Pumpkin slices tossed in dressing and ready to go in the oven. Once they are lightly coated, place them in a single layer – they will roast much faster.

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Beets tossed in dressing and ready to go into the oven. I sliced my beets in thin-ish slices and then quartered the slices to make them a little more “bite size” out of personal preference. As you can see, I really went for it with the fresh thyme.

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It’s totally okay if your hands make you look like an ax murderer after chopping the beets. It gets you right into the Halloween spirit! I promise it comes off (eventually).

5. Here’s where you have some options:

a.) Combine the barley, chickpeas, green beans*, pumpkin, beets and remaining dressing in a large bowl. Toss gently.

b.) Combine the barley, chickpeas and green beans with the remaining dressing and toss. Top with pumpkin and beets (keeping them separate).

I chose option b.) because I had a huuuuuge amount of pumpkin and have big plans for the leftovers this week.

*If you forgot, like I did yesterday, to add the green beans in with the barley during the last minute of cooking time, no worries! I just steamed my beans for 2 minutes and added them at the end.

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Beets roasted and ready to be chomped. Once roasted, you should be able to stick a fork through them, but they should not be total mush.

photo 1

Pumpkin slices after roasting. You should easily be able to stick a fork through these when they are done.

6. Serve the un-salad sprinkled with cheese and pepitas, if desired. Enjoy!

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Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Salad

I am pretty jazzed about this recipe, it’s really good. I especially like that I can pick and choose what version I want to eat when I chow the leftovers. All of the components are delicious separately, and together they are bangin’! It also looks pretty, so you can impress your friends or significant other with all your mad cooking skillz (even if you’re not really Top Chef material).

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I’m not going to lie, I put a pretty significant dent in the roasted pumpkin eating the slices straight out of the pan while I was waiting for the beets to be done. YUM!

In unrelated news, my knee is doing much better. I count myself especially lucky and didn’t push it by going to the gym this morning. Rest days are the best days, especially when you have some delish veggie sh*t to eat.

Happy Hump Day! (insert camel emoji) πŸ˜‰

L