Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable Soup

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable SoupI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if the starving artist has one best friend, it is soup. Bang for your buck, hearty, delicious, and (usually) really healthy. This week I’ve been racking my brain as to what I could cook for dinner that won’t completely destroy all my healthy efforts but is also not a salad or scrambled eggs…. yes, this is what my life has come to.

Vegetables are of course the go to when trying to maintain or improve one’s figure, but come on, how many salads can one consume before having a psychotic breakdown? Now ROASTING vegetables is something I can get behind. The depth of flavor one gets is amazing, but aside from tossing them with brown rice, you can’t really  make a meal of a plate of vegetables…. and then it hit me. There’s a restaurant near me, Tender Greens, that makes soup out of their seasoned grilled veggies. Why not do the same thing here, except up the flavor quotient by using curry powder and some coconut cream. Well, let me tell you, the outcome is one tasty friggin’ soup that is completely vegan and completely amazing.

It’s super easy – all it entails is roasted a few pans of your favorite vegetables, then bringing them to a simmer in a broth made of Trader Joe’s vegetable stock, Trader Joe’s coconut cream, and a few spices. Then you puree and voila, a hearty meal to keep you energized and full without the guilt. Check out the recipe below.

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable Soup (Recipe PDF)

For the record, I wish I took the photo before I pureed the soup just so you could see all the colors and big chunks of vegetables. Trust me, it’s good stuff.

Also, I have not forgotten about valentine’s day. Look for a v-day post from me on here tomorrow – and don’t worry, there will be nothing heart-shaped coming out of this kitchen! In the meantime check out my facebook and twitter for fun v-day recipes I’ve been finding, like better-than-sex Chex mix. Any excuse for chocolate is ok in my book.

The Green Secret

Green Juice ArrayHave you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up and just feel thinner? That sensation that your body is shrinking from the inside out and you know when you get on that scale the numbers are going to be down. This has happened to me two days in a row… and it feels beyond fantastic. After battling with my body for weeks I feel that I finally have it under control and I am finally reaping the benefits of all my hard work. Alleluia!

Now is the perfect time to talk about one of my “secrets” (though it really isn’t a secret) and that is juicing. Green juice to be exact. I know many people cringe at the thought of drinking juiced kale or spinach. And rightfully so – by itself that sh*t is nasty. But when you combine greens with the right blend of fruits and other veggies, it becomes a refreshing, healing elixir that you’ll never want to live without. I have juice for my breakfast pretty much every day – I find I get the most out of it in the morning on an empty stomach. When I’m really feeling ambitious I will also juice for either lunch or dinner. The philosophy behind juicing this is that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients of an entire bushel of fruits and vegetables – an amount you could never eat in one sitting – condensed into a beverage that you can drink down in no time and will be easily absorbed into your body.

If you’re a long time follower of my blog, you may recall a post from many months ago where I spoke of my recipe for the magic green elixir. I have since changed my recipe and I think it’s a winner:

  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 2 or 3 leaves of beet greens (see below)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 beet
  • 2-3 small apples
  • a 1-inch chunk of ginger
  • 1 lemon

When I buy beets they come with huge beautiful greens attached to them. Instead of throwing them away, I juice a few stalks along with the kale. It’s delicious. Also when blueberries are in season I will juice them in here as well for an antioxidant boost – it’s phenomenal. I also have been adding an aloe solution to my juice for an extra cleansing kick. I use Herbalife’s aloe, but I am sure you can find a good one at Whole Foods. It may seem crazy, but I promise this will not only help you lose weight, but it will do wondrous things for your overall health.

If you’re in need of a juicer, I highly recommend this Breville on amazon for $150. Its feed tube is extra wide so you can put in whole apples and cucumbers and carrots without having to cut anything up in advance. Considering it’s a product I use every single day, the price is a super deal.

If you’re still in need of convincing, you can read about some of the benefits here. I also highly recommend checking out a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This film is what turned me on to juicing in the first place and presents a very compelling real-life case for making juicing a part of your life.

Acorn Goodness

Roasted Acorn SquashThis time of year I’m seeing bins of acorn squash at all my local grocery stores. It’s perhaps a little off putting to see a vegetable in the shape of a giant hard acorn. I mean what the hell are you supposed to do with it, crack it? Plant it and see if a tree grows? But the truth is that when roasted properly, acorn squash makes a delicious and satisfying winter time dinner that will fill you up without deviating at all from your healthy regimen. Definitely Bootcamp friendly. ;-)

So here is what you do. Very easy. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut your acorn squash in half against the grain. Scoop out the seeds and guts from the crevices and then trim the outer ends so that the squash will sit straight up with the crevices facing up. Coat the outside skin with a very thin layer of olive oil, then place them on a foil lined quarter sheet pan. Now for some flavor. In a small bowl combine the following:

  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp maple sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of clove
  • pince of cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Mix thoroughly and spread evenly between the two halves. Rub mixture thoroughly over the flesh of the squash and drain any excess that pools into the bottom of the cavity back into the bowl and set aside. Season liberally with salt and fresh ground pepper. Then place a small pat of butter in each half of the squash. Put tray into the bottom half of the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft and the edges are crispy.

Eat directly from the squash, drizzling the remaining maple syrup mixture over each half and adding some extra butter as desired. Or, scoop out all the squash, place into a bowl and lightly mash together with the left over syrup, some extra butter, and an extra sprinkle of maple sugar. As I always tell you, do not run out to buy spices you don’t already have. Make up your own seasoning. Brown sugar can easily be substituted for maple sugar, but maple sugar is really great stuff.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Dirt Lobster

So I have become obsessed with the farmer’s market near my apartment in Hollywood, not surprisingly known as the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. I’ve decided that every time I go I will buy something new that I’ve never tried before, bring it home, and cook it. My rule is I bring a $20 bill with me and that is all I get to spend – after all I am the Starving Artist. Last week I took mom and discovered a beautiful thing – the mushroom tent. It is, as you might guess, a tent full of all kinds of mushrooms, most of which I have never seen or heard of before. And what I love about it is that the owner divvies up the mushrooms into little, flat-priced paper bags. I honed in on these little beauties:

You might have guessed from the title that these are known as Lobster Mushrooms, and you can clearly see why. The color is spot on and I have to say that even the texture is reminiscent of lobster. I didn’t want to do anything crazy to them, so I cooked them very simply in olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. I also added asparagus, chives, and finished it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I ate it with a sliced heirloom tomato, also purchased at the farmer’s market. So fresh and delicious.

 

This was so successful I’ve decided that each week I visit the market I will buy something I’ve never eaten before and see what I can come up with. I have a feeling I may be on a mushroom kick for a while. And you know what, I’m ok with that.

Hot Cauliflower Mess

So you might have noticed I haven’t done too much cooking the past few weeks. We’ve had some pretty hot days here in SoCal and honestly, the hotter it gets, the less I want to be at home standing in my air condition-less kitchen. Hence why most of my posts have been sweets like s’mores or restaurant reviews. Still, on my last trip to Trader Joe’s (which feels like forever ago… seriously I don’t even know when I was last in TJ’s… clearly I need to get my life together…) I was inexplicably compelled to purchase an entire head of cauliflower. No idea.

Last night I was at home, in the mood for dinner, but unwilling to have yet another meal out. I opened my fridge and there it was. The cauliflower. Staring at me. What the hell does one do with a cauliflower besides chop it up and use it for veggie dip? After a good hard look around my kitchen I discovered a box of vegetable stock on top of my fridge. Though it was not exactly soup weather, I decided a nice hearty yet not heavy stew was in order, particularly considering all the garbage I’ve been feeding myself lately. So I just started throwing sh*t in the pot – bay leaves, basil, sriracha, few cloves of garlic, baby carrots, half a red onion, salt, pepper. I ended up running to the store and getting a can of fire roasted tomatoes for $2.50 (a ridiculously high price for a can of tomatoes. Thank you, Gelson’s.) and one bunch of kale. You can read the recipe for the details, but I ended up with a healthy, flavorful, and chunky… mess. But a good mess. I even managed to dig up some whole wheat penne, which I cooked up and dumped the mess over. Perfect. And honestly there’s a lot of ways you could serve this. Instead of pasta use wild rice, maybe some white beans, or even some noodles. You could even serve this cold with some nice hearty bread instead of penne. Perfect for a summer night. And of course put in whatever you want – any veggies will do, but I literally just threw in stuff from my refrigerator. Not too bad if I do say so myself. Enjoy!

 

Also, for those of you watching your weight, this is practically a zero-calorie meal if you skip the pasta/beans/rice/whatever. But it will still fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied. So eat as much as you want, guilt-free!

Hot Cauliflower Mess (Recipe PDF)