Monday, November 19, 2012

An Untraditional Shepherds Pie

Sometimes when it’s cold outside I just want to warm up with some homemade comfort food. Bust usually comfort food equals butter, cream, carbs, cheese, sodium and fat! How about a comfort food dish that is healthy?! Now you might be thinking that this isn’t possible but it is! I’ve created a “healthy” version of Shepherds Pie and it is absolutely delicious! I came across a couple of different vegan shepherds pie recipes and combined bits and pieces of them to come up with this awesome creation! Oh and for those of you who receive my To Be Nourished Monthly Newsletter, this recipe features the Sweet Potato Parsnip Mash that was published last week! Yum!

How you ever had lentils? Lentils are legumes but much easier and quicker to prepare than other dried beans. Generally you can whip up a batch of lentils in 30 minutes. They come in many different colors and are often sold split in halves. Lentils are an excellent source of protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. In addition, they contain significant amounts of folate, magnesium and iron. This means that lentils are heart-healthy and excellent for energy!

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
4 medium-large parsnips, peeled and chopped into cubes
½ cup of almond milk (may require more based on your preference)
1 ½ cups of dried lentils
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic gloves, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
6 oz. of cremini mushrooms, sliced (button or baby bella would also work)
1 bag of fresh organic baby spinach
3 ½ cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of EVOO
2 tablespoons of dry red wine
2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce or tamari would also work)
2 tablespoons of Ghee (or butter)
2 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch
1 teaspoon of rosemary
½ teaspoon of thyme
¼ teaspoon of sage
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Place the cubed parsnips and potatoes in a large stockpot of cold water. Salt the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain and return the vegetables back to the pot or a high-speed blender. Add the almond milk, Ghee, salt and pepper to taste and blend or mash until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.

While the potatoes and parsnips are cooking, bring 1 ½ cups of lentils and 3 cups of vegetable stock to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Approximately 30 minutes. Set lentils aside.

Drizzle the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and golden. Add the celery and cook until tender. Next add the mushrooms and continue to cook until tender. Add the lentils, spinach, herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage) and remaining ½ cup of vegetable stock, red wine, and Bragg’s. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally.

Now combine the arrowroot or cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Add it to the mixture to thicken the sauce.  It should become a gravy-like consistency. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the lentil mixture in a round oven safe dish and delicately top with sweet potato/parsnip mash. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the mash starts to brown.

Scoop and serve!

*Option to add a fresh rosemary spring as a garnish.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Oh my goodness! The last couple of months have been a complete whirlwind. I apologize that the posts have been few and far between; that is all about to change. Two weeks ago, my fiancé and I left our sunny San Diego beach cottage for a (much larger) bungalow in the Greater LA area. On top of that, I left my full-time corporate career to follow my dreams of being a full-time Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor, Yoga Instructor, Food Blogger and Business Owner!!! Ahh! Someone pinch me! 

I have finally had the time to get back in the kitchen to create fun, fabulous food! And…since pumpkins will only be around for another two weeks, I must take full advantage of their deliciousness. This Spiced Pumpkin Soup is smooth and creamy and complemented by warm flavors of cardamom and coriander.  Its rich decadence will leave your taste buds begging for more!

Pumpkins are a great source of fiber and are actually rather low in calories. This vegetable contains 3 grams of fiber per 1 cup of pumpkin and 49 calories - which means that this beauty keeps you feeling full longer and fewer calories! It is also chock full of antioxidants and a vitamin powerhouse. Pumpkin is great for healthy vision and healthy skin. The carotenoids are sure to give you a beautiful glow, and may I add, anti-aging properties.

If you choose to roast and eat the seeds, which I highly suggest (they charge $16.99/pound for pumpkin seeds at Whole Foods), then you can also count on the benefits of phytosterols, shown to reduce LDL levels “bad cholesterol.” The moral of the story is…eat pumpkin!

*This recipe makes 4 small cups of soup or two large bowls.

2 medium sugar pie (baking) pumpkins
2 tablespoons of EVOO (plus a little extra if you’re going to roast the seeds)
1- 14 oz. can of coconut milk (I used full-fat; cream would also work)
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of cardamom
½ teaspoon of sage
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut both pumpkins in half. Scoop out the flesh and seeds and set aside for later use. Drizzle the fleshy part of the pumpkins with EVOO, place cut side down on a parchment-lined pan and roast for approximately 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle.

While the pumpkins are roasting, sort through the pumpkin seeds separating the stringy pumpkin from the seeds. Rinse the seeds and place them in a small bowl. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread them evenly on a pan and roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin* and transfer to a blender (I used my Vitamix) or large food processor. Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, all remaining spices and puree! The soup should be thick and creamy. If you’re not going to eat it right away, or if you like your soup piping hot, place it in a saucepan over low heat until desired temperature is reached.

*Serve the soup in the leftover pumpkin half’s or small bowls. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!