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Ginger & Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup

Soup, Lunch, Dinner, VeganLina LiwagComment
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It's been uber cold and snowing in Toronto lately.  This weather calls for soup.  I just love the mix of cauliflower + a sweet vegetable like squash and sweet potato with herbs and spices to help warm and nourish me.  My teenager enjoys these types of soups and depending if my day is busy or not, I would do the long or short versions of it.  This is the long one but cooking and prep time would be at least 30-40 mins. max.  Nothing too complicated especially to working moms and career women like me.

Fun facts about the ingredients:

Cauliflower - rich in Vitamins C, K and B6, folate and is linked to cancer-prevention
Sweet Potato - very rich in Vitamins A & C.  The bright colour is the presence of anthocyanin which is an antioxidant.  It has anti-inflammatory and blood regulating nutrients.  It's also believed to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Ginger - anti-inflammatory and helps with nausea and absorption of nutrients in the body.  It has warming benefits and helps clear out throat and nose congestion.  
Turmeric - it has been getting a lot of attention lately.  It is anti-inflammatory and helps in the relief of rheumatoid arthritis and is also linked to cancer prevention and improved liver function. 
Cilantro - also known as coriander leaves.  It has cholesterol  and blood sugar lowering properties.  It has high phytonutrient content and is also beneficial in helping the body get rid of toxins. Detox supplements usually has cilantro as one of its ingredients. 

 

Ginger & Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
Ingredients:

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets, approximately 3 cups
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes, approximately 3 cups
3 stalks celery, chopped
2" ginger, peeled and grated
1 small red onions, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
Himalayan or sea salt to taste
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
5 - 6 cups water or veggie stock or a combination of both

Method:
On a large pot and on medium heat, saute the ginger and onions with the coconut oil for 2 minutes.  Add the coriander powder, turmeric and cumin and stir until fragrant.  Pour in the water or stock and boil. then add all the vegetables.  Let it boil then simmer until they are tender, approximately 10-12 minutes.   Make sure they do not overcook.  Add the salt and adjust the taste. You can add more grated ginger or a pinch of cayenne for more heat.  Blend in batches in an upright blender until smooth.  Reheat if necessary. Serve with a few drops of cilantro oil.

Cilantro Oil (Optional)
1/2 cups cilantro
1/4 cup hemp or flaxseed oil
Pinch of salt

Blend until smooth.

I also have older posts for soups here and here which you may like.  For a short version of this current post, steam all the veggies  for 8-10 minutes  and use the water to blend the soup.  Add salt, herbs and all spices and blend until smooth.  Adjust the taste and serve.

 

I had a quiet "me-day" today as my hubby was at work and my son left yesterday for "Winterblast 2015."  He joined other teenagers at our Church for a fun-filled weekend up North.  They get to learn from God's Word and at the same time strengthen  their relationship with each other - without social media and electronic gadgets -  amidst the  beauty of this Season.  It's also a snow day in the city, one that is serene since it did not have that blizzard-type and windy characteristic like other days.  

I hope February is great for you so far.  I'm also writing about my "Plant-based Desserts" course at Matthew Keeney and will be posted mid-week in time for Valentines Day.  It has some chocolates in it!

Warmly,

Lina

Celeriac, Sweet Potato & Leek Soup + Lessons of Letting Go

Soup, Lunch, DinnerLina LiwagComment
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Hello and Happy New Year! As you may have noticed, I was MIA for the whole month of December.  It was never my intention to do that.   In fact I had plans for at least 2-3 posts before the year was over. However, things took a life of their own so to speak.  Before I knew it, the month was done and over with.  Welcome to  2014!

Nothing really major happened in the big scheme of things if you asked me.  But somehow even  small  or insignificant matters can take a lot of our time and energy.   Sometimes, they even test our very core.

To me this came in the form of technology malfunction that happened all at the same time: our fairly new desktop computer (we have no spare lap tops), our home telephone and internet connections.  This took place in the midst of the two busy weeks at my work, record high snowfalls and frigid temps of the season.

At the onset, I thought they could all be fixed quickly and I would then have time for my projects but boy, was I ever wrong!  It took almost 3 weeks, 3 visits from 3 different technicians and countless calls to customer service managers  before our phone and internet started working properly...with no more interruptions.

And while I was going through my technology pains and as the city was continually being inundated with snow and even at one point blanketed in tons of ice that we’ve never seen before, I was making soups.  Soups to warm me and my family.  And after a month when our iMac is now as good as new…many thanks to Pat, the tech genius of the family… here is my first post of the year!  So forgive me as this is rather a long one.

 

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For me personally,  this is not the time to do a “Detox.”  I find that I can handle that better in the Spring as the weather gets warmer.  I still make green juices at least 3 times a week but my body feels balanced with more warming foods in the winter.  I learned this through the guidance of my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner as I was going through rough times in my health. 

This soup is a winning combination of celeriac, sweet potatoes and leeks.  Celeriac is that root vegetable that looks hairy, knobbly and rather uninteresting like the photo above.  It is the root of the celery plant so it's also known as celery root. It has a mild celery-like flavour with starchy consistency when cooked.   Did you know that this is a great source of Vitamin K and essential minerals such as phosphorus ,iron, calcium, copper, and manganese?

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Celeriac, Sweet Potato & Leek Soup 
Ingredients:

1 medium size celeriac,washed, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
(approximately 3 cups)
1 big  or 2 small sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
(approximately 1  1/2  cups)
1 leek, washed and chopped, white and light green part only
1  1/2" ginger, grated
thyme leaves from 3 sprigs
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Himalayan pink salt to taste
6-7 cups water or vegetable broth (or a combination of both)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (see other options below)
1 -2 tsp. pepper flakes 

Method:
1. In a big stock pan, saute the leeks in coconut oil until they soften.  Add the ginger, thyme, coriander powder and turmeric and let the flavours incorporate.
2. Combine the celery, celeriac and sweet potato and stir for a minute or so.  Pour the liquid, add some salt and let it boil then lower heat to simmer until the root vegetables are cooked, about 15-18 minutes.  
3. Adjust the taste and add the milk.
4. Blend by using a hand blender or in batches using a blender.
5. Before serving,  sprinkle with pepper flakes.

Suggestions:

1.  This is a large soup and great for leftovers.  Please feel free to cook half of the recipe if required.
2. You can substitute cauliflower if celeriac is not available and adjust the liquid (5 cups)  and  less cooking time .
3.  I've used almond, cashew and coconut milk in the past and they all worked well.  It all depends on your taste.  1/2 avocado can  also be substituted for creaminess.  If preferred, not adding any of these is also fine .

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Deep Freeze in Toronto

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So what did I learn through these situations?  “Let go and let God.”    We live in a world where everything must always be done fast and according to our own timing and schedule.   There is so much liberation from letting go!  Of course I was frustrated and at times angry with my phone and internet provider.   Then one day as I was feeling so stressed about the whole thing,  I stopped and prayed...first for my heart  then secondly for the situation and left it all to the Lord.

This scripture at Philippians 4:67 reminds us:  “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition with THANKSGIVING, present your request to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Thanksgiving in the midst of stress, how is that possible?  Well it’s part of letting go and letting God.

 Amazing how everything started to fall into place.  I interacted with amazing managers and technicians who were empathetic and kind. Although it took almost 3 weeks, the company sent Thasan, one of their their most senior technicians.   On that  3rd visit, he was able figure out the root cause of our problem. We now even have his direct line in case something may happen again in the future.

As for our desktop, I just had to wait for my brother-in-law to be able to come by (he lives on the other side of the city).  I didn’t have to bring the computer to the Apple store and spend money for the repair.  He even made it more efficient by updating and simplifying what’s in there.  To tech-challenged people like my husband and I, this is priceless!

I hope you have your own lessons from 2013.  May I leave you with more verses from the bible that have become my inspirations lately. These last ones were from a message delivered last Sunday by Mark Kang.  Mark is an evangelist from our church in Milwaukee who was visiting his relatives during the holiday.  He also shared this powerful video that you can find on this link.  This is called the “Invisible Woman” by Nicole Johnson.  This is so moving... a reminder that it's not always about me but all about HIM.  I hope you too will get inspired!

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.

Ecclesiastes 7:9-10

 

May your 2014 be filled with great lessons in life!

Warmly,

Lina

"Indian-inspired Meals" - Red Lentil Curry + Potato With Kale and Mehti Leaves Curry

Indian, Soup, Dinner, LunchLina Liwag4 Comments
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I've been making a lot of soups and stews lately...we need all these warming foods to get us through the winter.  As I write this post, we're enjoying some snow on a Saturday.  Since my family is a big fan of Indian spices (yes, even our 15-year old is), curried lentils, beans and vegetables are a regular fare  in our kitchen.  They are great as leftovers and therefore  one of my favourite packed lunches.  

Since eating out is a big challenge for me due to my food sensitivities, I decided a few years ago to learn how to cook Indian food.  I have several Indian friends and I happen to work closely with a few of them.  I ask them a lot of questions and they offer me tons of suggestions...sometimes I even get free spices!  These ladies grew up making these wonderful and delicious recipes without following exact measurements...so  I don't really get complete recipes from them, just a list of ingredients.  It works for me as I learn better by doing and experimenting on my own.  My good friend Raminder is actually my tester...I get to bring the food to work and she usually gives me the thumbs up or offers more input on how to do it better. 

 

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On this post, I made two dishes:  Red Lentil Curry + Potato With Kale and Mehti  Leaves Curry.  Some interesting facts about red lentil - they are high in fibre, folate, protein, iron, manganese, phosphorous, copper, Vitamin B1 and potassium.  It's actually high in a nutrient called molybdenum (something I just learned recently) and is supposed to be helpful in regulating some of the important enzymes of the body and in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and iron.  I love making lentil dishes as they cook in under 30 minutes which, to  a working mom like me,  is just a gem especially during weekdays.  Mehti or fenugreek leaves look like watercress (see photo above).  They are slightly bitter but delicious.  Rich in iron as well as significant levels of potassium, fibre, calcium and Vitamin K, they are believed to be equally as nutritious as the spinach.  Fresh mehti leaves are usually found in Indian and Middle Eastern stores.  I  first started cooking with this herb last summer and since we live in a predominantly South Asian community, I don't have a problem finding them at my regular grocery store. 

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Red Lentil Curry
Ingredients (preferably organic)

1 1/2 cups red lentil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 1/4  t. (or to taste) Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 t. turmeric
2 t. cumin powder
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
5 green cardamom, lightly smashed (optional)
half of jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped
6 cups unsalted vegetable broth or filtered water
juice of 1/2 lime (or more)
1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves

Method:
In a stock pot, saute the onions, garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes then add coriander powder, cumin, turmeric, jalapeno, cardamom and salt.  Stir the mixture and wait until the spices become fragrant then add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn soft.  Add the lentils and water.  Boil then turn down the heat to simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils are tender and the mixture becomes thick.  You can add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.  Add  the lime juice and half of the coriander leaves.  Adjust the taste.  Serve and garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves. Enjoy!

Suggestions:
You can definitely adjust the spices to suit your taste.  This is a little mild considering that my 15-year old son cannot tolerate a more spicy blend.  You can also add greens to the lentil like spinach or kale if you are not planning to cook a vegetable side dish.    This dish  tastes better the next day... so definitely a good option for leftovers. 

 

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Potato With Kale and Mehti Leaves Curry
Ingredients (preferably organic)

2 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 bunch black kale, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 bunch fresh mehti leaves, washed and chopped (see suggestions)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1 tomato)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t. (or to taste) Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
1/4 t. cumin seeds
1 1/2 t. cumin powder
2 t. turmeric powder
1/4- 1/2 t. cayenne
1 1/4 c. water

Method:
In a pan, saute the onions, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes then add coriander powder, cumin seeds and powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt.  Stir the mixture and wait until the spices become fragrant then add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn soft.  Add the potatoes and water and cook until they become tender but not mushy, approximately 20 minutes or so. Combine the kale and mehti leaves and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the lemon juice.  Adjust the taste then serve.  Enjoy!

Suggestions:
If you can't find mehti leaves, increase the black kale to 2 bunches.  If you prefer spinach,  that works fine as well.  Another option is mixing 1 bunch of black kale and 1 bunch of spinach.
 

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This is the view from our window as it was snowing today.  it's our "Family Day" weekend here in Toronto which is a fairly new holiday for us, being just on its second year.  It's a welcome break and hoping to enjoy it with family and friends.  I hope you are all enjoying your weekend:)

Much wishes,

Lina