Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taste of Fall: Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Here in Pennsylvania, the weather has been acting a little bipolar, but I am not fooled. Even if the boys and I were able to slurp ice-cold smoothies while running around in sandals and 80 degree October days last week, it's still fall and I am still going to embrace all things fall-ish. Enter pumpkins, squash, soups, scarves, tall boots, et cetera. Woo-hoo!

I can always tell the autumn itch has begun when my dear husband starts asking for butternut squash more often - and specifically, this soup. I have been making it for several years, and it keeps evolving to something (I believe to be) more magnificent. I have served it to company on numerous occasions and it is always met with requests for the recipe. A little over a month ago we started following the Trim Healthy Mama eating style. (More on that in a bit). I didn't have to change much to make it fit THM guidelines, just a few small tweaks, and we are happily enjoying our favorite fall dinner as an E for Energizing meal.

I bought and read the book Trim Healthy Mama in early September and it made so much sense to me. Since starting to follow the plan I have lost about 5 lbs. and a whole pant size! I am absolutely loving it. In a nutshell, the authors, sisters Serene & Pearl, have done a lot of research and put together a plan that is not a fad or a diet- but rather focuses on eliminating blood sugar spikes so that insulin does not have to work overtime, causing fat to be stored. This is done by eating healthy fats (with protein) at one time and low-glycemic carbohydrates (again always with protein) at other times- but NOT large amounts of fat and carbs at the same time. By eating only one fuel source at a time, it allows your body to more efficiently use your food for fuel and not store excess glucose as fat. I am so excited that I get to nourish my body with coconut oil, real butter, olive oil, cream, etc. and embrace yummy carbs like fruits, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and oatmeal. That is the short version. Check out and follow the THM facebook page for lots more info!

Onto this recipe, which is of course the reason for this post. I will have a few notes as we go along as it is very much open to modification.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
Trim Healthy Mama E Meal
Serves 8-10

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet potato, also peeled and cubed
2 red or sweet yellow onions, quartered
1/2 bag (8 oz.) of baby carrots OR 2 whole carrots, chopped
1/2 large head of cauliflower or (for those not following THM) 2 white potatoes
4-5 cloves of garlic, halved
2 T. coconut oil or butter
Rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper
4 c. vegetable or chicken stock plus more water as needed
1 c. low-fat cottage cheese
1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey, chicken, or sausage
Crushed red pepper for topping, if desired
Optional: other root vegetables such as rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, etc. Go wild! I use what I have on hand.

1. You will want to peel and chop your vegetables to a uniform size and place on a 2 large baking pans/cookie sheets. Do not try to shove all the peelings down your garbage disposal. Not that I would know what would happen if you were to do so :-o. I once heard that a plumber's busiest day is Thanksgiving.. because many a person thinks their garbage disposal can eat massive quantities of vegetable scraps. Moving on...
2. Drizzle vegetables and garlic cloves with coconut oil and toss to coat. Don't fret, THMamas- this makes a LOT of soup and your serving will certainly have under 1 tsp. to keep it in E territory! Dust generously with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
3. Roast trays of vegetables in a 400 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until soft.

Here are my roasted vegetables, all soft and caramelized!

4. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
5. Pull out your trusty food processor or blender (I use our Ninja for EVERYTHING. You will see I mean this literally in a few minutes). Fill 3/4 full with roasted vegetables, 2 c. broth and 1/2 c. cottage cheese. Puree until smooth. Repeat in batches until all vegetables are pureed with the rest of the broth and cottage cheese to the consistency you desire. You may need to add more water or broth to get it to a smooth, soupy consistency. We like ours somewhat thick.
6. Transfer vegetable puree to large pot to heat through. Can also use the crock and cook on high (or low if longer time) til dinner.
7. This step can be done while vegetables are roasting, or after.. it won't take long. Brown ground turkey or chicken to add to the soup- to boost the protein content (and yummy factor). Season with ground sage, ground fennel, pepper and garlic salt to achieve a sausage taste. Back to the Ninja: I found today that I can grind raw chicken breast in it!! This makes me SO excited and will save us money for sure.
8. Add ground meat to soup, heat through and simmer for a bit to blend flavors, taste and adjust salt and other seasonings, and serve! Top with crushed red pepper if desired.

I actually may have filled it a bit too full and we may have had slight overflow-age upon coming home to dinner. Oops, should have used my big one!

Comfort food at its best.

This creamy deliciousness is how I followed up my dinner:

It is just the Frozen Yogurt from page 376-377 of the Trim Healthy Mama book. So easy and refreshing- and I totally wanted to make a second helping. Good thing it is a FP!!! :)

This post is linked up at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen's Nest for Trim Healthy Tuesdays! Stacy is cooking up Spaghetti Squash Primavera and I can't wait to try it! Gwen tells us how to make sweet tea concentrate, which looks fabulous. Stacy's blog is actually where I first read about THM and saw it explained. So I owe the thanks to her for introducing me! Thanks, Stacy!

Happy fall, friends!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Breakfast Muffins Fit for Dessert

Sunday was a double-hitter in the kitchen. We hosted our home church meeting and had friends stay for lunch afterwards. I was feeling adventurous (the night before of course, since I "come alive" in the evening) and tried two new recipes for these occasions. For breakfast at church, I made two kinds of muffins, Strawberry Banana and Chocolate Coconut. For lunch, I threw together a Sweet and Savory Sausage & Rice Soup. The strawberry-banana muffins were just ok in my opinion. Some people loved them. But the chocolate ones? Whoa. We will come back to that. All of these recipes I sort of invented. Now with me and experimenting in the kitchen, usually things turn out ok, but every once in awhile they don't, so trying new things for guests may not always the best idea, right? I usually push this thought to the back of my mind and go for it. In this case, everything was met with raving reviews. (Phew!)

Back to the Chocolate Coconut muffins. I doubled the recipe so we would have enough to serve the group- which means we have quite a few left over. I cannot eat just one. I have tried. They are addicting. There is something SO chocolatey, moist, subtly sweet, something so DELICIOUS about them that they beckon you after you've finished the first.

I will try to recall what exactly went into the batch- I did a lot of revising the following morning after they got a bit dry overnight in the fridge.


Chocolate Coconut Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups hazelnut coconut milk coffee creamer (I happened to have this on hand due to finding it on sale at a discount store. If you can't find it (very likely), substitute non-coconut-milk creamer or unsweetened coconut milk).
1/2 c. sugar (adjust to taste if you are using sweetened creamer)
1/2 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/4 c. coconut oil OR other veg/canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
 2 T. milk or more to right consistency
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients and coconut.

In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut milk/creamer, egg, applesauce, milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to dry, mix just until combined. At this point if you are using coconut oil you will add it. If you add it to cold ingredients it will solidify, something we want to avoid (although it will melt again in the oven, obviously). Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake for 20-25 minutes in a greased muffin pan until centers are done when tested.

I will be making these again! Thanks for tuning in.. If you make them, let me know how they turn out!