Minestrone

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This is the very first soup I ever learned to make.  I tore the recipe out of a magazine about a decade ago.  I only had one child, and he was still a little guy at the time.  I had written on the recipe that it took me 20-30 minutes to chop all the vegetables.  Thankfully that isn’t the case any longer!  From the very first time that I made this I subbed sweet potato for the potato.  At the time, I just didn’t care for the taste of potatoes.  Nowadays, show me a potato roasted with a whole chicken, smothered in olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and I am all over it.  But in making this soup, the sweet potato has been a constant.  At some point I swapped chickpeas for the original cannellini beans and added some frozen peas.  I’ve been making it this way ever since.  The first time I make it each fall my daughter squeals with delight.  I don’t squeal, but I’m just as happy that it’s back for lunch as she is.

IMG_6141Pull out a sweet potato, onion, stalk of celery, carrot, zucchini, cup of frozen peas, can of chickpeas, can of diced tomatoes with italian herbs, and chicken stock.  (My stock is homemade, you can’t buy it here in Israel, but the boxed stuff works just fine.)  Alternatively, if I can’t find a can of diced tomatoes, I just chop up whatever kind I have on hand.

IMG_6142Dice the onion, slice the celery, quarter and slice the carrot.  Heat up your soup pot with about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Throw in the onion, celery, and carrot.  IMG_6143Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  If it’s browning too quickly, lower the heat.  Cook for about 8 minutes, until softened.

IMG_6145While the vegetables are cooking, chop up the zucchini, peel and chop the sweet potato, drain and rinse the chickpeas.  Once the onion, celery, carrots have softened up, add everything else into the pot.  Raise the heat, bring to a boil.  Then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Minestrone

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, italian seasoning
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably low sodium
  • 2 T olive oil
  1. Dice the onion, carrot, and celery.
  2. Saute in olive oil over medium heat, until softened.
  3. While the vegetables are softening, peel and chop the sweet potato, chop the zucchini, drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  4. When the onion, carrot, and celery are softened, add everything else to the pot.
  5. Add 2 1/2  cups water.  Raise the heat, simmer for 10 minutes.  Or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with parmesan.  Add fresh torn basil leaves, if desired.

One of my favorite things to do with this soup is to store individual servings in glass jars.  Then I can freeze them for future lunches.  Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

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Rosemary Cashews & Sunflower Seeds

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I am always looking for a good snack, and lately I’ve been turning to nuts. Instead of a carb heavy snack like pretzels, where I find myself hungry an hour later, nuts actually fill me up and hold me over for a couple of hours.

This combo of cashews and sunflower seeds makes great clusters thanks to the egg white, has great crunch, and a really fun flavor too. Don’t be put off by the maple syrup, these are not overly sweet. And the chili powder adds a nice kick!

IMG_6050 Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment, then rub with a bit of butter so the nuts won’t stick.  Then whisk the egg white with the salt.  After that add the rosemary, chili powder, and maple syrup.  Mix it all together with the cashews and sunflower seeds.

IMG_6047Spread the nut mixture on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and crispy.  You can stir halfway through, I forgot to this time and it didn’t seem to mess things up!  Let cool before eating.

IMG_6051They make nice clusters, you can break them up to whatever size floats your boat.  Store them in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Rosemary Cashews & Sunflower Seeds

  • butter, for greasing the parchment (I save butter wrappers in the freezer for this purpose)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1T dried rosemary, rounded on top to give a bit more
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then rub with a bit of butter so the nuts won’t stick.  Then whisk the egg white with the salt.
  3.  Add the rosemary, chili powder, and maple syrup.
  4. Mix it all together with the cashews and sunflower seeds.
  5. Spread the nut mixture on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and crispy.  Stir halfway through.
  7. Cool before eating.

Adapted from Giada’s Feel Good Food 

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

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Around a year and a half ago I wanted to transition away from processed foods.  I still have the occasional ‘fail’, caving in to some junk food.  The rest of the time I think my clean eating is serving me well.  Especially when, at lunch last week, a few friends confided that ever since they turned 40, this or that was aching.  Not the case for me!  I feel pretty amazing a lot of the time.  Instead of full speed ahead, I went the slow and steady route for my family.  The first things I stopped buying at the grocery store were cookies and granola bars.

This is one of the first recipes that made making the switch fairly easy on my family.  I now make these granola bars so often I don’t need to look at the recipe!  My 3 kids, and even my husband, love these so much that we have them stocked in the freezer at all times.  And, if perhaps, we run out before I’ve noticed and made another batch <gasp!> there is a bit of panic in the kitchen.  “Mommy, I can’t find any granola bars!  Are we OUT?!”

Mix all the dry ingredients (oats, coconut, flax meal, chocolate chips, salt) in a bowl:

IMG_6008Whisk the coconut oil, honey, and vanilla together.  (*I accidentally measured the coconut flakes after the coconut oil, hence the white flecks!)

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Mix the two together.  Then press into a 9×13 rectangle on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

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Finally, allow to cool for a couple of hours to allow it to firm up.  Then cut with a sharp knife.

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chocolate chip granola bars

  • 4 cups oats (not quick cooking or steel cut)
  • 1/2 unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 flaxmeal
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F
  2. Stir the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
  3. Whisk the melted coconut oil with the honey and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well.
  5. Pour it all onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Form the mixture into a rectangle, approximately 9″ x 13″ and press with the back of the wooden spoon to flatten.  (I press party hard for firmer bars)
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Cool at least one hour (longer is even better) before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.

These bars will last a few weeks in your pantry, individually wrapped.  Our habit has become to wrap the lot of them in the parchment they baked on.  Then slide that into a zip top bag and put it in the freezer.  Then they are available for lunches, hikes, whatever and they usually thaw before you need to eat them.

adapted from Weelicious~you can find the original recipe here: http://weelicious.com/2011/09/06/chocolate-chip-granola-bars/