This Week’s Recipes: Delicious Soups, Milkshakes and More!

Roasted Vegetable Soup

This delicious, vegetable-filled broth can be served by itself or used as a base for other soups. This recipe oven-roasts the vegetables before adding to the soup liquid, enhancing their flavor. The aroma of the roasted vegetables will evoke memories of old-fashioned, home-style meals. It’s comfort food at its finest.

Food as Medicine

Carrots are one of the richest sources of carotenoids, potent antioxidants found mainly in red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. A review of six studies looking at the connection between carotenoid-rich diets and prevention of heart disease found a positive correlation; in one of these studies, those who consumed at least one daily serving of carrots or squash had a 60 percent decrease in heart attack risk compared to those eating fewer than one serving. One of the carotenoids found in carrots, beta-carotene, is a potent antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A, making it an essential component of eye health. The liver converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which travels to the retina and is further transformed into rhodopsin, a pigment that is necessary for night-vision.

Servings: 4

Nutrients Per Serving

Calories: 91.8

Protein: 1.8 grams

Fat: 4.8 grams

Saturated Fat: 0.7 grams

Monounsat Fat: 3.1 grams

Polyunsat Fat: 0.7 grams

Carbohydrate: 11.5 grams

Fiber: 2.8 grams

Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

Vitamin A: 12,165/IU

Vitamin E: 0.9 mg/IU

Vitamin C: 6.9 mg

Calcium: 40.6 mg

Magnesium: 14.9 mg

Ingredients

3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups water

1/4 cup dried mushroom pieces (Italian porcini, if possible)

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt, and black or red pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place the carrots, celery and onion in a small (8×8-inch) nonstick pan or dish with the olive oil. Toss to coat the vegetables. Bake for 10 minutes.

2. Remove pan from oven, add the garlic, and toss again. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are browned.

3. Remove pan from oven, add 1 cup of water and stir to loosen any vegetables that may be stuck. Pour this into a pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Season to taste with salt, and black or red pepper, and serve or use as the base for other soups, stews or pasta dishes.

Courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil.

creme-fraiche-milkshakeTurning Milkshakes into Health Food, One Glass at a Time

I’ve written about crème fraîche in the past — it’s far too lovely not to write about! — but usually within the context of serving a dollop of the velvety cultured cream with fruit or using it with savory dishes the same way you’d use sour cream. (In effect, crème fraîche is a VERY-MUCH upgraded, European version of sour cream. I stress the “upgraded” aspect because crème fraîche is still a small-scale product and as such is still made by artesanal producers who source their cream from grass-fed cows. The cream is then cultured and sold in small round tubs that are often placed near the mascarpone cheese and cream cheese in the refrigerated dairy section of grocery stores. Vermont Creamery’s bright-pink, checkered tubs are easy to spot on the shelves!)

Crème fraîche is also lovely when whisked into darn near any batter or stirred into darn near any dough — your baked goods will suddenly acquire a richer, deeper flavor. Or try topping your already-made slice of cake or square of brownie with crème fraîche for an instant cream-cheese frosting effect.

Last week I went into previously unexplored territory and blended a dollop of crème fraîche into my chocolate smoothie. My logic for doing so was that other tasty probiotic dairy products — i.e., cultured items such as yogurt and buttermilk — taste good in shakes, so why wouldn’t crème fraîche be good, too?

I’m happy to say that not only did the shake taste incredibly rich and smooth, the extra oomph offered by the crème fraîche resulted in a huge head of froth. In fact, the froth was so thick that first I ate it with a spoon like it was whipped ice cream (which essentially it was) before I put down the spoon and drank the shake. The heck with the anemic froth you get in a coffeeshop latte — this is the real deal! If you want to impress your guests with your barista skills, try serving this dessert drink at your next holiday gathering. You could even include a shot of espresso in the mix!

Chocolate Crème Fraîche Milkshake

To make a single-serving milkshake (feel free to multiply these amounts to make as many servings as your blender can hold), spoon 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder into a blender. Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup, a dash of vanilla, 2 ice cubes, a dash of cinnamon, and a big dollop of crème fraîche (about 2 tablespoons or 1/8 cup). Pour in enough milk — preferably whole milk from grass-fed cows — to reach the 1-cup mark on the side of the blender. Blend well, letting the milkshake get shaken up for at least a full minute. Immediately pour into a large waiting glass.

If you’re a fan of froth, let stand for 5 minutes — by then about half the contents of the glass will have transformed into a beautiful foam that you can scoop up happily with a spoon. Be sure to stir the shake with the spoon or swish it within the glass as you drink it so that you won’t lose any of the cocoa to dregs when you slurp the last drop.

Bet you never thought that an insanely rich milkshake could be a “health food,” but that’s exactly what it is when you use unsweetened cocoa, a minimal amount of a natural sweetener (and maple syrup also has a lot of calcium, too), cinnamon, and cultured dairy.

Enjoy!

Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

acorn-squash-sundried-tom-soupTurning Squash into Soup

‘Tis the season for acorn squash! They’re cute, they’re compact, and they’re easy to roast and then use in soups, sauces, and even baked goods. They’re also easy to cut in half thanks to their firm ridges — those nice straight angles provide stability as you use a large, heavy knife to make a neat cut all the way through. (Rounded squash like pumpkins and butternut are a bit trickier.) And like other squash, acorn squash also has edible seeds that you can roast to create a tasty snack. Bonus!

A friend recently bequeathed a bevy of acorn squash to my larder, so check back every week to see how I wind up using my bounty. Most of the recipes will start with roasting the squash — once it’s cooked and soft, it’s easy to scoop the flesh out of the ridged shell. For this recipe, I opted to leave the scooped-out squash in chunks; for other recipes, I puréed the squash into creamy smoothness. You could do that with this soup, too, if you’d prefer a smoother texture, but I wanted a soup that I could sink my teeth into … hence the chopped onions and sun-dried tomatoes alongside the scooped-but-unpuréed squash.

Feel free to make a double batch of the soup if you wish — like all broth-based soups (especially soups that include tomatoes), this sage-scented soup only gets better upon standing. How about whipping up a batch two days before Thanksgiving to wow your family? You could even double up on the squash and then leave half of it in its shell as an attractive and easy side dish.

Sage-Scented Acorn Squash Soup with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 4 as a hearty appetizer.

1 acorn squash

Handful sun-dried tomatoes

1 large Spanish onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups (32 oz.) chicken OR vegetable broth (try to get free-range chicken broth)

1 T. dried sage

Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, saving them if you wish to toast them later. Cut just a little bit off of the bottom of each squash half so that the halves have flat bottoms and will sit up nicely. Place them on the prepared tray and bake for 45 minutes or until the edges are browning and you can easily poke into the flesh with a knife. Remove from oven and let cool. This step can be done up to 4 days in advance.

While the squash cools, place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. They can soften while you make the soup.

Heat a pat of butter or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until onions are quite fragrant and turning golden brown. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute to soften the garlic. Pour in broth and crumble the sage between your fingers before adding it to the pot. Grind in a pinch or two of black pepper and stir well. Drain tomatoes and stir them in.

Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for at least 10 minutes. While the soup simmers, use a regular soup spoon to scoop the cooled squash out of its shells. Stir squash into soup and heat through for another minute or two. Season to taste with sea salt.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 days. Feel free to garnish with minced green onion. You might also like to top the individual servings with grated Cheddar or Parmesan. The more savory, the better!

Enjoy!

Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

rigatoniRigatoni with Roasted Broccoli and Chickpeas Recipe

Heat oven to 450°. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté 3/4 of an onion and 4 cloves of garlic until brown. Add reserved liquid from 1 can of chickpeas and 1 chicken bouillon cube to onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until bouillon dissolves. Pour onion/garlic mixture into roasting pan; add 1 can of drained chickpeas and 1 lb broccoli, cut into small florets; stir to coat. If you choose to add chicken, you can add 3 boneless chicken breasts (already cooked by baking first) to this mixture or just eat vegetarian style.

Roast 20 minutes in 425 degrees oven.

Cook 1/2 lb of whole wheat rigatoni as directed on package until al dente. Drain rigatoni, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to chickpea-broccoli mixture; roast until pasta is completely cooked, adding reserved cooking liquid a little at a time and stirring to reach desired consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let sit 5 minutes; serve topped with 1 tsp of grated Romano/Parmesan Cheese.

Courtesy of The Natural Nutrition Advisor.

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