Creamy winter squash soup with sage, thyme and cilantro

The Ultimate Creamy Winter Squash Soup

I love fall! Well, at least the attempt at fall that southern California is giving me. But, I’ll take anything because I’m ready for pumpkins, squash, apples….I’ve been doing this blogging thing for almost a year and as I’ve mentioned before, my goal is to utilize local organic ingredients when possible. So I apologize in advance if you’re already over it all!

I’m trying to be creative and think outside the box, so I used a variety of winter squashes in this soup. It would really work with any winter squash or combination of them, but I really liked the variety I used here. I wanted to add a little different twist, I’ve seen a lot of sage and thyme lately, and although I love both, I thought I’d mix it up by paring these spices with cilantro. It was a risk, but it totally panned out. If you don’t like cilantro, then feel free to leave it out, but if you do, this is the soup for you! We loved it! The variety of flavors really made it a tasty meal. It’s so savory and a perfect winter comfort food. We ate it for a few days and it was just as good as leftovers as it was fresh. I even made a fall sandwich to eat it with the next day, check out my Smoky Tempeh, Apple and Arugula Sandwich!

Creamy winter squash soup with sage, thyme and cilantro

Creamy winter squash soup with sage, thyme and cilantro

My favorite thing about making this soup was that I got to test out the “soup” function on my new Vitamix. And wow, was it amazing!! Apparently the speed by which the function purees the ingredients creates a heat that actually makes this soup hot when its done. So you can literally pour it straight from the blender into your bowl. I was shocked at the steam coming from it! And we are talking hot, not just warm, but hot enough that you had to blow on each spoonful before you ate it. This machine continues to amaze me…you can definitely use a regular blender for this, you just need to to heat the soup after its pureed. But if you’ve been on the fence about buying a Vitamix, I’d definitely do it and if you can, get one with the preset functions! So useful! I use mine multiple times a day and can honestly say that the functions have made my life as a mom easier.

Creamy winter squash soup with sage, thyme and cilantro

Click here for full recipe…

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Butternut squash apple burgers with caramelized onion and sage aioli

Butternut Squash Apple Burgers

It’s no secret that I love veggie burgers. I have four already on the blog: The Original Vegan Veggie & Bean Burger, The Stuffed Veggie & Bean Burger, a Cauliflower Hemp Burger, and a Portobello Black Rice Burger. However, this does not stop me from creating more so here is another one to add to the list! This burger truly exudes the taste of fall. It is sweet, savory and satisfying. The flavors complement each other wonderfully and my whole family really enjoyed them. Although you need to roast the veggies and cook the rice, it is really easy to put together and doesn’t have that many ingredients. The natural flavors of the ingredients make this burger, so a lot of extra seasoning is not needed.

I served these on the vegan pretzel rolls by Rudi’s even though we usually stick to our sprouted wheat buns. Great choice because the splurge was worth it! I’m sure they would be great on any bun though. The burger is also paired with my Caramelized Onion & Sage Aioli, which is a great addition and adds another layer of flavor that complements the burger well. Serve it with a side of my Baked Kabocha Chips and you have fall on a plate! I highly recommend this for your next dinner or fall gathering. I plan to make these as sliders for the annual fall party we attend. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks!

Butternut squash apple burgers with caramelized onion and sage aioli

Butternut squash apple burgers with caramelized onion and sage aioli

Click here for full recipe…

Baked Kabocha chips with thyme

Baked Kabocha Squash Chips

I discovered Kabocha squash last fall when experimenting with different recipes for the cooler weather that was approaching. I first used it in my Four Bean Crockpot Chili and I loved how it still stayed al dente after cooking in a crockpot all day. I am pretty sensitive with textures and slimy overcooked veggies make me gag, especially now in my preggo days. Kabocha is an Asian winter squash and similar to a butternut squash in flavor. I love that you can cook and eat the skin because peeling skin off is a huge pain!

A good friend of mine gave me the idea to make this awesome squash into crispy chips in the midst of my major morning sickness when veggies were not agreeing with me. I love the slightly sweet taste complemented with the dusting of Himalayan pink salt I added and hint of thyme. I made these both with and without a spray of coconut oil and either way was delicious. The slight coconut taste did give an extra depth of flavor though! But if you avoid oil, the good news is that it is great without it too.

Baking these to crispness can get tricky, and I found that straight on parchment paper works best without oil or with very little oil. Because Kabocha releases water when cooked (especially freshly picked ones), if covered with too much oil, the oil almost traps the water in and doesn’t allow the squash to crisp up as nicely. The best way I found to cook it in order to get the crispiest chips is to place a drying rack on top of a cookie sheet and lay the squash strips across the rack. This way the squash stays dry as the water is collected below. Using parchment on a cookie sheet also worked. If you do use oil, a spray works best so that there isn’t a solid layer of oil and water can still evaporate. Hope you enjoy! My kids LOVED these!

Click here for full recipe…

Caramelized onion and sage aioli

Caramelized Onion & Sage Aioli

Well, we are finally getting some hint of fall here in SoCal! Although there are more hot days on the horizon, a few fall like days are being thrown in the mix so I’m going with it. Now that I am starting to have more good days than bad in the morning sickness department, I have slowly started to get back into the kitchen. My brain is overflowing with all I want to experiment with, but I still need to take it slowly, so I am only allowing myself a few days a week of “working.”

The kitchen is being stocked with winter squash, pumpkin, apples and all that I can think of that may pair well with these amazing flavors of fall. My goal as I approach my one year blogiversary (I can’t believe it!), is to step outside the box to create combos and ideas not usually in my repertoire. This first group of recipes hit the nail on the head and turned out delicious without too many trials. Here’s the first of the group, an aioli or dip that could complement so many things. It can be made with vegan mayo, or a silken tofu or nut base if you’re looking for an oil free version. Look for what I paired it with coming up over this next week!

Caramelized onion and sage aioli

Click here for full recipe…

Vegan Whole Foods vanilla bean cupcakes

Whole Foods Vegan Cupcakes and Our Big Reveal!

Vegan Whole Foods vanilla bean cupcakes

For our first two kids we waited to find out the gender. After all we had gone through to get pregnant with our first, we truly didn’t care or even think about, whether we would have a boy or a girl, we were just over the moon that we were lucky enough to have a baby at all! It killed everyone else, but waiting for us was easy. When we miraculously got pregnant with our second only 5 months after I had the first, we once again felt beyond blessed because although we were content with one child, we felt relieved that we would be able to give him a sibling. Waiting again was easy, especially because our first was too young to have any idea about what was going on. The delivery room surprise was so amazing and we loved every minute, both times. But when this third little surprise came along, it was something we weren’t expecting or even trying for. We decided since we were blessed enough to be able to do this one last time, why not do things different? We also wanted our boys to know whether they were having a brother or sister since they are old enough to understand what was going on.

Click here for more about our gender reveal…

Apple Cinnamon Date Muffin Scones

Apple Cinnamon Date Scuffins

A few weeks ago, my fabulous sister made me some Berry Scuffins from the site of the wonderful Dreena Burton and her Plant Powered Kitchen. I saw Dreena post these beauties and my pregnant morning sickness induced self just had to have them. Well, they were as amazing as they looked! I loved the texture, somewhat of a cross between a muffin and a scone, just like the title implies. A little chewy, a little dry. But a lot delicious! I knew that I had to create more…

As fall shows hints of approach here in the never ending summer of southern California, I’m taking the opportunity to dive into my fall recipe creating now that I am starting to feel better. First on my list were these scuffins made with the organic apples my boys collected from the apple picking farm they visited last weekend. Apple Cinnamon is an obvious fall flavor, but I love it nonetheless! Sticking to my desire to sweeten all my desserts with dates, I added some chunky date paste to these instead of the maple syrup in the original recipe. I love that these treats aren’t super sweet and have a hint of tartness. Depending on the type of apples you use, you can change the flavor. I used the sweetest reds of the big bag we had, but any type would work. Overall they were a huge hit with my family! We loved them at breakfast alongside one of our delicious smoothies!

Apple Cinnamon Date Muffin Scones

Click here for full recipe…

Lemon Berry Mint Sparkler

Lemon Berry Mint Sparkler

During the peak of my awful morning sickness, I got a lovely email from Heather with Williams-Sonoma asking if I’d like to participate in their latest campaign on using freshly pressed juices to create a Sangria recipe. They are currently promoting all their awesome variety of juicers, from simple slow ones all the way to whole food juicers. Well, since creating anything, let alone consuming anything, was not happening at the time, it took me a while to pull something together. Lucky for me, Heather is awesome and was patient for my belly to allow me back into the kitchen!

Since Sangria is sadly not happening right now, I created this mocktail like summery Sangria. You can in fact easily make it into an adult beverage, but for now it’s mocktails only for me! This concoction helped soothe my belly during some of my most difficult times. It took on many forms, staring with simple lemon and growing with ingredients as I began to feel better. And each time, I loved it more and more. It is refreshing and simple to make. My kids love it too! I love the tang of lemon and sweetness of strawberries laced with a hint of mint and maple syrup. When I made this most recently, I used my new Vitamix Professional Series 750 to pulverize the berries and mint with the fresh squeezed lemon juice. Wow, that machine is awesome! I love having it in my kitchen, it makes a world of difference in all I have been using it for.

This is a perfect drink to cheers to the end of summer and beginning of fall. Unless you live here in hot southern California…it looks like summer is not getting the hint!

Lemon Berry Mint Sparkler

Click here for full recipe…

Along the Bu

Deciphering food code, pressure and feeding your family

From the time I found out I was pregnant, the stress of having to worry about feeding another child began. Being so sick and not eating like I usually do brings on another set of worries. Everything I put in my mouth is transferred to my baby, and they miss out on all the healthy stuff I can’t handle eating right now too. This has been tough on me, going from such a healthy veggie filled diet, to basically living on fruit, bread and beans. I know I just need to do what I have to to get through this time, but it’s still stressful.

My only saving grace is that when it comes to feeding my non womb living family, I am pretty relaxed. Today’s world is filled with more information than we can process, with new “bad” things in our food coming out each day. So how do I stay relaxed in this crazy information overloaded world? I READ INGREDIENTS. Sure, you can spend time learning all the lingo and keeping up with the latest and greatest in the food industry…but I prefer to spend that time with my family. So I read my labels, make sure I know what each ingredient is, stick to fresh, organic and local ingredients when possible, and let the rest go. I can live with that and my life is pretty stress free when it comes to food.

Click here for more including two great recipes…

Rainbow Black Bean and Lentil Tacos with Tangy Mango Dressing

Rainbow Tacos With Tangy Mango Dressing

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been 3 months of morning/all day sickness and I am finally beginning to feel good enough to get back to my life! I am still going to take it slow, this pregnancy has forced me to take a step back and see that it is ok not to do it all. I love what I do with my blog, and have so much I want to accomplish, but I am going to take it all slowly, one step at a time. That being said, I am excited for the future and all the new things I want to roll out! For now, enjoy this extremely simple, healthy and delicious recipe!

A random pregnancy craving was the reason behind this creation. I am slowly starting to feel like eating veggies again, but mostly cold crisp ones. I felt like something sweet and salty, and tacos sounded good. There is zero oil in this, oil has actually not agreed well with me so you may see more oil free recipes. I love how quick and easy this is to put together, but yet so flavorful. There are a lot of different flavors here: sweet, salty, tangy with a hint of spice in the chili powder. It hit the spot perfectly for this growing belly of mine!

Rainbow Black Bean and Lentil Tacos with Tangy Mango Dressing

Click here for full recipe…

Tropical Pitaya Smoothie Bowl

Tropical Pitaya Smoothie Bowl

This is a quick little treat that has helped me feel better when I need a little pick me up. I’m craving fresh fruit right now, especially those with a touch of sour, and this smoothie bowl has hit the spot. I love the combination of all the tropical flavors thrown in with the mild flavor of Pitaya. Mixed with hemp seeds and pecans for a little protein makes it a great snack for me these days. Feel free to add some greens if you want to get those in, but my belly isn’t quite there yet. On my way to feeling better each day though! And getting closer to finding out what this little nugget is! Any guesses on whether it’s going to be pink or blue??

Tropical Pitaya Smoothie Bowl

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