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Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad

I've been eating raw this week after a bout of stomach unpleasantry on Monday night and this is the first real meal I've had outside of apples and bananas!  Super quick, crunchy and tasty.  My boys each ate a big bowl and gave all thumbs up!  The fennel bulb is something I bought last weekend and planned to use early in the week... but that plan got foiled by the sickness.  The bulb was very mildly flavored and likely would have been better if I used it closer to purchase, but it was still softly anise scented and very crisp and crunchy.  If you prefer more anise flavor, use more and if anise isn't for you just leave it out. Vary the nut choice, use orange juice instead of lemon, try thyme or oregano or parsley instead of the mint and lemon balm.  Sliced or shredded carrot would also be lovely in this salad.  Use what you have or try something new.  Enjoy! Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad [caption id="attachment_367" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad"]Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad[/caption] (Serves 4 as a main salad – 6-8 as an appetizer) This recipe can be doubled or tripled if you’re feeding a crowd.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several days before the veggies lose their crunch.  If you are going to be storing this salad, hold out the nuts and seeds until just before serving.  Choose a green apple variety if you want something particularly tangy, otherwise, go for something sweet and red like a Gala apple for a beautiful pop of color. Dressing fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon, approximately 1/3 cup splash of mirin 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup fresh ground pepper to taste Salad 8 celery stalks with greens, approximately 1 celery heart 3 apples, your choice of variety 1 cup raw fennel/anise, approximately ½ of a bulb 1 cup cucumber, approximately a 5 inch cucumber 1 cup raw cashews 1 cup raw sunflower seeds 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or lemon balm Kale ~ how much you use is up to you and your level of green eating; see note at the end of the recipe.  Let’s start by whisking the dressing ingredients in small bowl until they are combined.  Dip the tip of a clean spoon and either lick it or swipe it with your finger to get a taste.  Adjust your seasoning with pepper or whatever suits your tastes.  Set aside. Moving on, we’re going to tackle the veg and fruit.  Keep the celery heart together and trim the bottom off.  Slice thin pieces from the stalks straight across or on the diagonal.  Put the celery slices in a bowl and cover with cool water.  Swish the pieces around to loosen and remove any debris, then strain and set aside. Slice the apples into quarters.  Thinly slice each quarter so you end up with bite size apple slices. Slice the raw fennel into pieces similar in size to the apple pieces. Slice the cucumber into quarters and slice it too as you’ve done the apple. Tip the apple slices into a large bowl and add the dressing. Toss to combine.  The acid in the vinaigrette will keep the apple from browning, so be sure to coat the pieces.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine all the sliced veg.  If you are serving this within an hour or so, you can add the nuts and seeds.  Otherwise, if you want the nuts and seeds to retain their bite, hold them out until you are ready to serve and then throw them in and give everything a toss. The kale is something that you can use as a bed of greens for your salad.  You can also use large leaves of kales as wrappers to hold a scoop of salad and then roll it up like a burrito to eat.  Alternatively, you can chop or tear the leaves and add them into your salad in whatever amount you and yours enjoy.  This is a great way to introduce kale in a palatable salad in one of many ways… find something that works for you and get more kale into your gut!  Kale does a body good!

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When life takes over, make soup!

[caption id="attachment_326" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Vegan Corn Chowder"]Vegan Corn Chowder[/caption] Holy smokes!  Things have been CRAZY busy around here!  I've been cooking up a storm and writing down these recipes, but I am stunned that this is the first time in over a month that I've been able to sit down and type!  Wow.  Kind of a bummer.  But I am happy to have the time and I think you'll love this soup. Here is my recipe for garlicky, smoky, silky smooth vegan corn chowder.  You can add small diced potato if you want that extra element of a traditional chowder.  On the night I made this I didn't have the time to peel and cube potato.  I went with it and really put the pressure on the amazing cashew to work for me here.  The result is a super creamy, very satisfying vegan chowder.  Yum! Vegan Corn Chowder 1 tsp olive oil 1 onion, minced 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 4 stalks organic celery, minced 1 lb frozen organic corn kernals 3 Tbsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground pepper Dash of sea salt ½ cup nutritional yeast 8 cups water 1 cup raw cashews fresh parsley and rosemary or herbs of your choice, minced 1/2 organic lemon, juiced Heat the oil in a large soup pot.  Saute your garlic, onion and celery for about 5 minutes over medium heat until they just start to soften but are not browning.  Toss in the cumin and stir to coat the veg.  Cook for another minute until the cumin is very fragrant.  Pour in the corn, salt and pepper and cover with the water.  Raise the heat to medium high and let the pot come up to a boil.  We want to simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes.  Now for the magic… Ladle out about 2 cups of the soup into your high powered blender (I use a Vitamix).  Add the nutritional yeast and the raw cashews.  Process on low for a few seconds, then bump into overdrive and whiz until the cashews are completely blended and the liquid is silky.  Once you have this liquid perfection go ahead and pour it slowly into the soup pot.  You’re going to want to scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula to get out all of that creamy goodness.  Trust me.  Stir everything together and let the cashew cream warm into the soup.  Add in the lemon juice and stir after the pot has been removed from the heat.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.  Top your finished soup with the fresh minced herbs to brighten the bowls.  Serve and swoon over each spoonful!

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Smoky Black Bean Soup (gluten free vegan)

From me to you on an icy NH day.  This soup can be made in your crockpot too if you don't want to mind the stove.  Soak your beans overnight or using the quick method (or cheat and use 3-4 big cans(I'm guessing) of black beans, drained and rinsed) and then put everything into the old faithful to simmer away all day.  You will be richly rewarded no matter which way you do it.  Top with diced raw tomato, pepper, avocado, tomatillo, scallions cilantro and salsa.  If you want to indulge, add a spoonful of tofutti sour cream and a sprinkle of daiya shredded cheddar! The smoky flavor comes from the cumin and smoked paprika.  If you want to go all out with the smoky rich flavor you can char your onions on a grill before adding them to the pot.  I find that the spices and the chipotle in adobo do the trick, but you can take it as far as you'd like! A tip or two:
  • To stretch this soup you can also make a pot of rice and serve a ladle of soup with a bowl of rice and the chopped veggies of your choice. 
  • Leftovers can be frozen in small amounts and added to a pot of minestrone or tomato soup to make a savory base.
 
 
[caption id="attachment_303" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Smoky Black Bean Soup"]Smoky Black Bean Soup[/caption]   Smoky Black Bean Soup 3 cups dry black beans (about 1 lb), soaked overnight 1 Tbsp olive oil 6 celery stalks 6 carrots 6 cloves garlic 2 large onions 10 cups water + 6 Tbsp broth powder or use your favorite broth in place of the water/powder 1 piece of dried kombu (optional) 2 Tbsp ground cumin 2 Tbsp smoked paprika 1 chipotle with 1 tsp adobo sauce or 2 tsp chipotle powder (more or less to suit your taste) Salt and Pepper to taste Pick over your dry beans and pull out any debris or pesky pebbles. Place the beans in a big soup pot, cover with a few inches of water and soak them overnight. If you’re short on time, bring your bean pot to a boil for 10 minutes then shut it off and let the beans soak for an hour at least before continuing.  Drain the soaked beans and discard the soaking water. While your beans are in the colander draining let’s work on the base of the soup. Working in batches using your food processor or your big kitchen knife, get the celery, carrots, garlic and onion to a mince.  I do each veg separately because my food processor is on the small side.  Plus, for whatever reason, I like sautéing my onions before the rest of the veg, so it makes sense in my mind to keep the veggies separate at this point. Heat your oil in the soup pot over medium heat.  Saute the onion until it is softened and golden. Stir in the spices along with the chipotle and adobo and let them go for a few minutes with the onions until everything is smelling amazing!  Add in the other minced veg, stir and cook for another minute.  We are looking to build that incredible glaze on the bottom of the pan really; that caramelized layer adds a lot of flavor and we want it to work for us!  The veg will cook along with the beans, so don’t worry about them.  Just stir them so nothing burns. Add the soaked beans, kombu, water and broth powder.  Kombu is a variety of seaweed which improves the digestibility of beans.  You can remove it when the beans are cooked or incorporate it into the soup.  Increase the heat and bring everything to a boil for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat so we’re just at a slow simmer, cover the pot and leave it for about 90 minutes.  We aren’t cooking the beans to a soft oblivion today, we’re aiming for a bit of bite.  Pull out the kombu if you can find it, otherwise it will be blended into the soup yielding a little nutrition and a pinch of salty flavor (1 piece of kombu in this size pot will barely be noticeable if you puree it in). At this point, turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes.  We will be pureeing the mixture to yield a smooth bean soup.  If you’d rather not, then stop here, taste and adjust your seasoning before serving.  In my house, we like this soup mostly smooth with some whole black beans and then toppings of diced raw tomato, scallions, avocado, salsa, etc.  So once the soup has cooled a bit I reserve about 2 cups of cooked black beans in a bowl and then I ladle the rest in batches into the Vitamix blender and puree it.    This requires one big bowl on the side of the blender to hold the puree while I work through the non-pureed soup from the pot.  Then I put the pureed soup back into the pot, toss in the reserved beans and stir.  If the soup is too thick for your tastes go ahead and thin it with water or broth until you get a consistency you like.  If I need to heat it to serving temp, now’s the time.  Otherwise it is ready to be put in the fridge or freezer for a later meal.  The great part about this soup is that unlike dairy based soups this freezes really well and doesn’t break.  The flavor improves on day 2 and 3.  I tend to go mild on the chipotle favoring the addition of salsa or chiles by each soup eater.  It’s easier for me and my husband to make our bowls spicier rather than asking our kids to take the heat!

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