Product Review: Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix + Recipe Bonus

Mary Ann's Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix
Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix

Product: Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix – $8.00

It’s the New Year.  Time to make resolutions and then, over the course of a month…break them.  Right?  Yes.  Right.  It’s the way it works every year.  You vow to stop eating chocolate…to go to the gym…to eat more vegetables and less potato chips.  You promise to get into a habit…make it a routine.  But then…by MLK Day…you’re already off the wagon.

And you know what?  That’s okay.  We’re in the midst of winter here.  Cold temperatures and lack of sunlight have a funny way of killing off any bit of motivation out there.  We’re human.  It happens.  But, it’s also okay to enjoy the little things in life and to be less strict with yourself.  Resolutions can be broken…but they can be picked right back up on where we left off.  That’s the best part.

Being that it is January…and the New Year has come and gone…and the weather outside is frightful(ly cold)…I’m a lover of all things comforting when it comes to food.  Tis the season for those hearty meals that make you just want to curl up with a good book in front of the fireplace and dig in while losing yourself.  Ah…it’s a wonderful thing.  And, when it comes to winter comfort foods…nothing is better than soups, stews, chili, and pasta, right?  Of course!!  Those are classic comfort foods if you ask me.

Well, in the January Happy New Year 2015 Cuisine Cube, we were served up a few products that were good for you…but also a guilty pleasure and comfort.  That’s the wonderful thing about Cuisine Cube…you just never know what to expect from one box to the next.  One cube guarantees a product that is good for a breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and dessert.  And sometimes, like in the case of January, you get a bonus item.  In this case…another snack.  YAY!

I know, if you’re reading this blog regularly, you are familiar with the service that Cuisine Cube offers…but just in case you are a newbie…first of all…welcome.  Secondly…hop on over to Cuisine Cube’s Web site and take a look at this fantastic service.  This small group of foodies put together a completely gluten-free box of goodness each month with 5-6 products from small, lesser-known artisan producers…some local…some not-quite-so-local.  I’ve discovered so many amazing products after I signed up for this service back in May.  And…you get a cube delivered right to your door each month…starting at $29.99.  So, yeah…I encourage you to check them out.  Have a little surprise each month and enjoy a few products you might never have tried or known about before.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

With that said, the January Cube was packed with a lot of healthy foods.  Seriously.  The dessert was dark chocolate covered rice cakes.  Yes, there will be blog on those soon…stay tuned.  Even the most comforting of foods inside…is healthy-ish!  And I’m okay with this.  But…I’m also dealing with a bit of the winter blues…so when I saw the unassuming cloth pouch of Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix…my brain immediately turned to comfort food.  And with that, I set out to do more than just make the chili and eat it.  You know, reinventing a product is something I love to do.

First, let me talk a little bit about Mary Ann’s Beans.  Chili can be comfort food, but Mary Ann’s Beans is making it a part of a healthy lifestyle.  All of the soup and dip mixes are nutritious and low in sodium.  They have options for vegetarians, gluten-free, and offer all seasoning mixes that are made with no salt, no sugar, and no MSG.  In other words…it’s good for you.  And these soups tastes great too.

Mary Ann's Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (dried beans and seasoning packet)
Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (dried beans and seasoning packet)

Make Mary Ann’s Beans part of your heart healthy lifestyle with our delicious and nutritious low sodium soup mixes. With flavors to please every palate, and options including vegetarian and gluten-free, your whole family will love our soups. Our all natural soup, dip and seasonings mixes are hand made with no salt, no sugar, and NO MSG.  Mary Ann’s Beans most famous mix is the Gluten Free White Chili Mix that was in the January Cuisine Cube.  And, honestly, I can see why!!  These mixes do take some time to make, but, trust me…it’s well worth it.

Mary's Ann's Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (beans soaked)
Mary’s Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (beans soaked)

Last night, I soaked the packet of dried white beans in water.  I drained them and rinsed them.  And then…set out to cook them.  The instructions included on this chili mix package give two ways to cook it…in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours or…on the stove top for 3-4 hours.  I went with the stove top method.  And making this chili is super easy.  The actual instructions do call for chicken, as it is a white chili.  But, as a vegetarian, I just left it out and kept it strictly the beans and the can of chopped green chilies.  I used Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth as well, instead of chicken broth.  Cooking it is time consuming, but it yields amazing results.  With the stove top method, you simply combine the white chili beans, 6 cups of broth (vegetable, non-chicken, chicken…), a 4 ounce can of chopped green chilies, 1-1/2 – 2 cups of boneless cooked chicken (if you are using…if you are a vegetarian like me…it’s fine to leave it out!), and the contents of the spice packet that is included, into a large pot and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and allow it to simmer for 3-4 hours, or until tender.  I let mine go for about 3-1/2 hours and it was perfect.  Add a bit of salt at the end voila…your chili is ready to eat.

What emerges is this hearty and thick chili that has this light, and slightly spicy taste to it.  White chili is amazing, even without the chicken, and it makes for a beautiful and eye-catching addition to any potluck or chili cook-off.  But I was not just going to cook up this fantastic product and just eat it straight.  You know better than that.  I did, however, take a few spoonfuls to see how it was.  And, let me tell you, Mary Ann’s Beans is doing comforting winter food right.  The flavor is familiar…the texture is hearty and rich…and the spice is a mild heat.  If you like hotter (I do), you can put in jalapenos instead of chilies, but my roommate isn’t a lover of spice, so I kept it mild.  At the end of cooking, I added some salt and a hit of berbere seasoning…and it made pure chili perfection.  If you love chili…you will love this.

Mary Ann's Beans White Chili Mix (prepared)
Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (prepared)

Let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  Mary Ann’s Beans White Chili Mix is made from great northern beans, navy and yellow eyed beans, dried onions, garlic and spices.  As stated before, these are gluten-free, contain no salt, no sugar, and no MSG.  This mix is also cholesterol free.

One pouch of Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix contains about 6 servings.  One serving will give you 190 calories and 1 gram of fat.  A full serving will also dish up only 10 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  As for being filling…it’s chili…it will be filling.  You get 13 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein in each serving.  I do love hearty, nutritious, comfort food.  And this is all of that rolled into one.

But wait…there’s more!!  I created an amazing (vegan and gluten-free) ultimate comfort food dish using the prepared Mary Ann’s Gluten Free White Chili Mix.  Trust me, your winter blues will disappear while you dive into this dish.

Recipe: Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta
Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

Servings: 6
Time: Prep 4 hours; Cook 30 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked gluten-free elbow noodles (I used Meijer Gluten Free Corn Pasta Elbow Noodles)
  • 3/4 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (if you do dairy…freshly shredded cheddar works!)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of leftover chili (I used Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili)
  • 1 batch of your favorite cornbread (I used gfJules Cornbread Mix)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Bring  the water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package, taking about 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time, as the noodles are going into the oven.

While the noodles are cooking, mix up a batch of your favorite cornbread (just the batter…do not cook it!) and get the cheese prepared.

Drain the pasta when it’s ready.

In an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, spray non-stick cooking spray.  Add the pasta to the bottom of the dish.  Then top it with a layer of cheese.  Then add the chili.  Top with the cornbread batter, spreading it evenly over the top with a spoon.  It’s okay if it doesn’t reach the edges.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden on top and cooked all the way through.  You can use a spoon to lift up the cornbread layer to make sure that it is completely cooked.  Cooking times may vary with the cornbread mixture you use, but keep an eye on it and check it.  The cooking time might increase due to the “wet” layers that are underneath the layer.

Serve immediately.

~*~*~

Oh. My. Gluten. Free. Comfort. Food. Gods.  No…really.  If you love a hearty winter meal, this is the way to go.  I loved the rich flavors that the Mary Ann’s Beans White Chili brought to the dish.  It was the centerpiece…the middle layer…the glue.  And it was an absolutely amazing addition to this entire dish.  When winter has you hiding under the blankets longing for something warm and wonderful to eat…this will definitely fulfill that desire.  Either that…or a big, steaming bowl of just the chili on its own.  However you serve it up…flavorful, creamy, and just…so good!

It was thanks to the amazing products that Mary Ann’s Beans put out and Cuisine Cube sent me that I was able to piece together this hearty, and amazing dinner.  For the record, the gfJules Cornbread Mix (review to follow) is also a product I received from Cuisine Cube in November.  So, as you can see…it is definitely a service worth trying out.  Seriously, your inner foodie will thank you for it.

Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices

Back in November, when I ran the TCS New York City Marathon, my friends and I celebrated my finish by going out to eat…at Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant, Red Rooster, in Harlem.  Amazing meal and amazing experience.  When my server came to the table, we explained that we were celebrating my completion of my final marathon of the year and then mentioned my food allergies.  He said he would go speak to the chef.

The chef was also a marathon runner and asked if he could create a dish for me.  I never turn down this opportunity.  I love it when chef’s get a bit creative with the ingredients they have on hand to produce a dish off the cuff.  I was more than happy to allow him to do so.

One part of the dish was this amazing curried black-eyed pea dish.  I was beyond impressed.  So, naturally, I went hunting online for a recipe.  And while this is not the exact dish that I had at Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant, this was one amazing dish.  One I was beyond happy to cook up.

I made a few minor tweaks, substituting the cilantro with collard greens.  I also used dried ginger instead of fresh.  The habanero is important.  It adds sweetness and a bit of heat (but it is seeded, so not too much!).  Do not leave it out.  Also, invest in berbere seasoning.  It is my favorite spice on my spice shelf at the moment.

Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices

Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices
Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices

Servings: 8-10
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 55 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas (12 ounces)
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large red onion, minced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 teaspoons berbere seasoning (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup chopped collards

 

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cover the peas with water and bring to a boil.

Simmer over moderately low heat until tender, about 40 minutes.  Add a generous pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes, then drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter.

Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chile and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the berbere and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add the peas to the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the peas are lightly coated, about 10 minutes.

Fold in the collards and serve.

~*~*~

This definitely had a bit of bite to it.  I almost thought it would be too spicy for my roommate, but she said that she could just handle it.  I absolutely loved it.  Definitely not the dish I had at Red Rooster, but amazing and delicious all its own.  And with the New Year almost here, it is often considered lucky to have black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day in the South.  So, here is an easy, delicious dish where you can enjoy both in a new and different way.

I have the leftovers in my freezer.  Can’t wait to enjoy it again at a later date.

Product Review: Lotus Foods Rice Ramen + Recipe Bonus

Cuisine Cube
Cuisine Cube

Product Review: Lotus Foods Rice Ramen – $2.75+

Say it with me…

FINALLY!

Finally the gluten-free world gifts me with…gluten-free ramen!  I have been waiting a long time for this.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Really?  Ramen?”

Trust me…when you are faced with never being able to eat something again…finally is what comes to mind when you suddenly are given that something.  I never knew how much I missed ramen…until I was suddenly able to have it again.

And for this great pleasure, I once again have to credit the amazing Cuisine Cube!  Honestly, this is the best money I have ever spent each month.  It is always a surprise as to what is inside the cube that arrives in the mail.  And I am like a kid at Christmas when I open it up.  Back in October’s box…Cuisine Cube included not just one, but two, packages of Lotus Foods Gluten Free and Reduced Sodium Rice Ramen.

Two flavors: Millet & Brown Rice with Miso Soup as well as Forbidden Rice with Miso Soup.

Color me excited.  I was so ready to make some ramen.  After all, I studied Japanese all through college and ramen is a way of life in Japan.  Now…it was back in mine.

Let’s talk about Lotus Foods for a moment, shall we?  The products produced by Lotus Foods are recognized for their exceptional cooking quality, taste, texture, and superb nutritional value.  The ancient and new rices that compose their products are grown on family farms in limited quantities, on healthy, chemical-free soils.  The rice and rice products that are produced by Lotus Foods are found in specialty gourmet, natural food markets, grocery stores, white tablecloth restaurants throughout the United States, becoming a fast favorite of consumers who are seeking healthier options, as well as chefs and foodies across the country.

I decided to do an even mix when it came to the two packages of Lotus Foods Rice Ramen that I received from Cuisine Cube.  I’d prepare one package as is stated on the package itself.  The other…I would cook up in a recipe.

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

The one that I chose to shine on its very own was the Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen.  These traditional Japanese-style noodles are created using their specialty rice instead of wheat.  Not only are these gluten-free, but both millet and brown rice are some of the most nutritious and easily digestible grains.

Nothing could be easier to cook.  Simply bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add in the ramen and simmer for about 4 minutes.  Stir every now and again, breaking the noodles apart.  When the noodles are soft, remove the pot from the heat and mix in the contents of the enclosed soup package.  You can then add in any additional veggies and protein as you wish.  I added some corn…because I happen to have a lot of fresh corn in my freezer leftover from this summer.

So…what emerged was a hearty, but delicious miso soup.  One that is not only gluten-free, but also vegan and non-GMO.  All of Lotus Foods rice products are made from organic rice…and that includes the rice ramen.

So…how did it taste?  Fantastic.  I love that this is also reduced sodium, as a lot of ramen on the market is overflowing with unneeded sodium.  I was impressed with that stat on the nutritional information immediately.  But as for the taste…the millet and brown rice lend a rich and nutty taste to the noodles themselves.  And the soup pack provided a ton of flavor to the hot water.  I love the mix of spices that brought a slight bit of heat and sweetness to the entire dish.  It was simple to cook and fun to eat.  Chopsticks not included.

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup (prepared with corn)
Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup (prepared with corn)

Let’s look at the ingredients in Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen.  The ramen is made from organic brown rice flour, organic millet flour, water, and organic white rice flour.  The soup pack contains red miso powder (cultured soybeans and rice, salt) tamari powder, salt, red onion powder, dried wakame seaweed, sugar, garlic powder, ginger powder, dried parsley, and dried chili peppers.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, organic, high in fiber and protein, non-GMO, low fat, vegan, and truly delicious!

As for the nutritional information…well…the Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen packs contain 2 servings, so a serving isze is 1/2 ramen with the seasoning.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  This portion will also give you 460 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  See how amazing that sodium level is?!  It has 25% less sodium than regular ramen soup.  This serving also provides 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  It may not seem like much when you look at it…but trust me…you will feel full after eating your bowl of this ramen.

In addition to the Millet & Brown Rice variety, Cuisine Cube threw in the Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen as well.

Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

Forbidden Rice is one of the most nutritious ancient grains.  It is made from Lotus Foods heirloom black rice instead of wheat.  I love the purple color that these noodles take on.  It’s really fantastic.  Instead of cooking these up according to the package, I incorporated these into a recipe.  But…I’m getting ahead of myself.  The forbidden rice ramen also has a delicious nutty taste and a great texture to them. In addition, these noodles are a natural source of antioxidants.  This package comes with a savory white miso broth  to create the noodle soup with.  I, instead, incorporated it with the recipe I made.  I added a ton of extra vegetables to create a delicious meal.  The recipe will follow the ingredients and nutritional information.

Taste was superb.  The noodles are amazing and perfect.  I wish Cuisine Cube had included more.  But, that’s why they have a Stock Up page on their Web site…to stock up.  I hope to do just that…because…YUM!

The Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles are made from organic black rice flour, organic brown rice flour, and organic white rice flour, and water.  The soup pack is made from white miso powder (cultured soybeans and rice, salt), salt, white onion powder, tamari powder, soybean powder, mushroom powder, dried parsley, and dried carrots.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, organic, non-GMO, low fat, and vegan.  WOOT!

As far as nutrition goes, Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen serves 2 people per pack, so a serving size is 1/2 of the package with the seasoning.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  In addition, this portion gives you 400 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  Yes, the Forbidden Rice Ramen contians 33% less sodium than regular ramen.  That’s fantastic.  And, finally, you will have less than 1gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  With less of these final two nutritional factors, load this up with hearty vegeatbles or your protein of choice.

Or…do what I did…

Recipe: Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms and Corn

Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Corn
Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Corn

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 packet of Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles (dried ramen noodles)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving

 

Directions:

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the ramen noodles and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar snap peas, corn, and the seasoning packet from the Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen and cook for 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Add hot sauce, if desired.

~*~*~

Let me tell you, I was amazed with how good this recipe was.  And thanks to Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen Noodles…I was able to create this and cook it up.  It had rich depth of flavor.  The Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles added a nice hit of bold color.  And the soup itself had this great umami flavor.  It was rich and loaded with nutrients and fresh vegetables.  It was love at first slurp.  And there was a ton of slurping going on.

If you haven’t looked into a subscription to Cuisine Cube, I do highly recommend it.  In addition, I encourage you to seek out or order Lotus Foods Rice Ramen and give it a try.  Especially, if you’re like me, and didn’t even remember what you were missing.  It was so delicious.  Or, as they say in Japan, “Taihen Oishikattadesu!”

Another product I love, brought to me with great thought and great care from Cuisine Cube.  I’m loving this service.

Product Review: Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle

Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle
Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle

Product: Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle – $5.49+

Sometimes I get big ideas and then wait awhile to actually try them out.  When I first spotted the words “traditional egg pasta” on a box of gluten-free tagliatelle from Jovial…I thought immediately of soup.

What?

You don’t immediately think soup?

The reason I thought of soup was, as I was growing up, my mom would make a homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, which required an egg noodle in the recipe.  So…this immediately sparked that in my memory.  So, I told myself that I could easily make my mom’s recipe…but make it vegetarian.  After all, I had one last package of Beyond Meat “Chicken” in the freezer, and for some reason, I think I was mentally saving it to make soup.  So…the perfect opportunity presented itself for sure.  The only big change was I didn’t make the stock myself.  I couldn’t.  I wasn’t using real chicken.  So, instead…I picked up a couple of the Imagine Vegetarian No Chicken Broth and adjusted the recipe from there.

It worked out brilliantly in the end.

But…that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  I am here to discuss the use of the Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle.  The pasta is actually the last thing that gets added to the soup.  Not only does this help to thicken the broth a little bit, but it also brings a heartiness to the dish.  I love a good, comforting bowl of soup.  And as we were in the low teens temperature-wise last week…this was the ideal food to have on hand.  And my roomie and I ate it…three days in a row.

Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle (uncooked)
Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle (uncooked)

Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle was the ideal and perfect noodle for this soup.  It is a thin, but longer noodle.  Sort of like fettuccine, but different.  Did you follow that?  HA!  It cooked perfectly in the broth with my not-chicken “meat” and my carrots.  These noodles absorbed the flavors of the broth and the items cooking in it.  And, for the first time, the fake chicken didn’t taste…fake.  That was more the broth than the noodle…but that’s an observation I thought I should share.  Anyway…Jovial actually managed to make a brown rice noodle that didn’t turn gummy and didn’t fall apart when it cooked.  I loved how these noodles held their shape and were so prominent throughout the soup.  What’s the point of having a “chicken” noodle soup if the noodles don’t hold up?  They really did bring the dish up to where it needed to be.  And, even on a reheat, they were perfect.  Three days in a row…noodle perfection.

I was beyond impressed.  I would purchase these again in a heartbeat to use in other dishes, including pasta dishes with a simple sauce.  They went above and beyond my expectations.

Let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Jovial’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta, shall we?  These shelf-stable noodles are made from organic brown rice flour and organic eggs.  Yes…they really are made from only two ingredients.  In addition to being gluten-free, these noodles are also free of casein, tree nuts and peanuts.  These are also certified kosher.

As for nutritional information, as far as pasta goes, this is right in line with even the regular stuff.  A serving of Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle is 2 ounces of pasta.  There are 4 servings in the package.  A serving will deliver 210 calories and 3 grams of fat.  One serving will also provide you with 40 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, and no sugar at all!  You will also be taking in 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  So, yes…these will make you feel full.  Trust me.  I made vegan grilled cheese sandwiches to eat with them and I was stuffed at the end of my bowl of soup and sandwich.

Another win for Jovial in the gluten-free pasta.  Seriously continuing to fall in love with this brand when it comes to my pastas.  Great noodles that are easy to cook and use…and don’t fall apart like some other brown rice pastas.  That is definitely a win!

Gluten Free and Vegan
Gluten Free and Vegan “Chicken” Noodle Soup made with Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle

Recipe: Irish Stew

Twas the day before I left for vacation and I still had a lot…and I mean a lot of fresh produce left from my bin.  Sometimes I think I should cancel it the week I go out of town, but never really want to.  After all, I love my local and organic fresh produce being delivered to me and I hate these weeks I get back from a trip and have nothing in my fridge resembling a fresh fruit or vegetable.  I had to do something with the plethora of produce that remained…and I wasn’t exactly sure what I could manage.

All hail the Happy Herbivore.  In the cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean, which, for those of you keeping track, is the same book I got the Garden Vegetable Chili recipe from, I found an amazing recipe for Irish Stew.  Yes…vegetarian Irish Stew.  Her recipe was not gluten-free…but I made a couple of adjustments…and added a more nontraditional ingredient (to use it from my crisper drawer before leaving, naturally) to make the recipe work for me.  Honestly…it is delicious.  And so easy to prepare.  Like any stew, chili, or soup…just let it simmer and let all those flavors soak in.  That’s what it’s all about.

Recipe: Irish Stew

Irish Stew
Irish Stew

Servings: 3-4 (but I managed 6)
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 portobello mushrooms (I used 16 ounces of crimini mushrooms)
  • 2 cups No-Beef Broth (I used 2 cups organic vegetable broth)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 thyme twigs, fresh, de-stemmed, or 1-2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 medium white potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup Guinness stout (I used Redbridge Gluten Free Bear)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (I used gluten free low sodium tamari)
  • **(In addition, I added 2 leeks to this stew…as I had them in my crisper…and why the hell not?)**


Directions:

Remove stems from portobello mushrooms and discard.  Cut the mushroom caps into strips and set aside.

Line a large pot with 1 cup of no-beef broth.  Saute onion and garlic over high heat until onions are translucent, about a minute or two.

Add thyme, carrots, celery, potatoes, stout, and tomato paste, and stir.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms on top, along with Dijon, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and remaining broth.  Bring to a boil again, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

Continue to cook until mushrooms and potatoes are very soft – past fork-tender.

Taste, adding more Worcestershire sauce if desired.

Add a generous amount of black pepper and salt if desired.

Remove bay leaves and serve.

~*~*~

This is definitely a healthy and hearty stew.  It has that great ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ feel to it, yet is completely plant based.  Gotta love that.  And I thought my addition of the leeks actually worked quite well.  As I had to use a beer instead of a stout, the flavor is a bit more mild, but this has Ireland written all over it.  A little nontraditional…but very good.

I froze a few servings of it and this thaws out and reheats beautifully.  Trust me.  You’ll love this!  Especially as we enter the perfect time for soups!!  And with just over 115 calories per 1-3/4 cup serving…you won’t feel guilting indulging in this stew either.  I can’t wait to try out more of the Happy Herbivore dishes!

Recipe: Garden Chili

I have a lot of vegetables in my crisper drawer.  Like…a lot.  A whole lot.  Because…I get a CSA bin loaded up each Friday and sometimes I get through them, and other times…I don’t.  Well, last week with all the birthday insanity…I barely got through them.  It wasn’t without trying.  I just…had so much going on and a few dinners had to be really quick and simple and…not cooked from my fresh and delicious vegetables.  Hey…I did make an amazing salad though with a whole lot of them.

But, I digress.

With a trip coming up next week, I am determined to use up much of what is now in my crisper drawer.  I also had a new gluten-free and dairy-free recipe for cornbread that I really, really, really wanted to get working on…so…I thought…

CHILI!!

Now, I have a TON of recipes for vegetarian chili…but I wanted one that I could use simply what I had in my kitchen.  And, it just so happened to exist in my Happy Herbivore Light & Lean cookbook.  Only thing I needed was…beans!  Simple enough, I was grocery shopping today anyway.  So…clocking in at 153 calories and 1 gram of fat, I give you…

Recipe: The Happy Herbivore’s Garden Chili

The Happy Herbivore's Garden Chili
The Happy Herbivore’s Garden Chili

Servings: 2-3 (but I made 6 servings out of it)
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (undrained) (I used fire-roasted low sodium diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (I used gluten-free liquid smoke instead!)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used organic chili beans)

Directions:

Line a large pot with a thin layer of broth, and sauté onion and garlic over high heat until onion is translucent, about a minute.

Add the bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, mushrooms, celery, carrots, tomato paste, remaining broth, spices, and condiments.  Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 10 minutes.  Add water or tomato sauce to make it more chili-like if necessary.  Add beans and serve.

~*~*~

Okay…confession…I totally missed the part where it said to cover the pot.  HAHA!  No wonder it took a little bit of time to get those vegetables fork-tender.  My total bad!  But, it still worked.  And what emerged was a fantastic spicy (but not too spicy…because the roomie didn’t even comment that her sinuses were running!) chili that celebrates vegetables.  Most vegetarian chilies seem to put so much emphasis on beans that this was, indeed, a nice change.  And serving this up with a couple slices of gluten-free and dairy-free cornbread made for one great, perfect fall meal.

It’s soup/chili season, folks!  Let’s get cooking!

Restaurant Review: The Grape Leaf, Louisville, Kentucky

The Grape Leaf, Louisville, Kentucky
The Grape Leaf, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: The Grape Leaf, Louisville, Kentucky

It’s not my birthday…but my roommate and I have a tradition to treat each other to a birthday meal someplace new, interesting, or a personal favorite for each others special day.  Mine was pushed back to this weekend as my birthday fell on the start of the weekend and I already had Indian food on the mind at my favorite place in Louisville!

So, I had said that what I really wanted was…finally…some Chinese food.  We had read a review a couple years ago about a place called the Tea Station in Louisville that had gluten-free options.  However, after e-mailing them and not hearing anything back…then the roomie calling and basically being told they can give me rice and vegetables and tofu…and after seeing reviews about how the place has sort of been on a downward spiral…it was time for a second option.

The problem was…I really wanted Chinese food.  So, now, nothing sounded like something I wanted.

Perfect.

I tried to get some feedback from Cathy, but she kept saying it was my choice.  Which only stressed me out.  I narrowed it down to a couple of places…and after scanning the menu pages a few times, I settled…on The Grape Leaf.

Yep.  Mediterranean food!  I love everything about Mediterranean food…so I figured…why not try out somewhere new and different and interesting?  So…after work, we drove out to Frankfort Avenue…and attempted to find parking.  We finally managed to find a spot well up the road and made a bit of a hike to the restaurant itself.  The Grape Leaf prides itself on being a friendly, locally owned, pan-mediterranean neighborhood restaurant.  I loved everything about that statement, so I was pretty excited about it.  Not to mention, their chef, Nabil Al-Saba, is the real deal – serving up authentic cuisine since 1992.

Impressive, yes?

We stepped into the restaurant and were greeted by the hostess.  We were taken to our table and seated.  One of the chairs had a balled up cloth napkin on it, but it was near the window and I was sitting in the seat nearest the aisle.  So, I set my purse down in the chair, away from the napkin, and settled in to look at the menu.  The hostess/waitress asked if we wanted any appetizers like hummus or grape leaves, but Cathy said this was our first time there so we were going to familiarize ourselves with the menu first.  So, she went to retrieve glasses of water while we perused the menu.

When she returned, she asked if we had any questions or if we were ready to order.  We had done a bit of discussion while sitting there…but finally settled on what we were going to eat.  Cathy went first, as she had the easier order.  She went with the Lamb Schwarma with her two sides being the Lentil Soup with Pita and the Cauliflower Rice ($13.25).

I was going with a couple of items on the Appetizer list.  I settled on a cup of the Organic Vegan Red Lentil Soup ($4.00) and the Vegetarian Grape Leaves ($7.50).  Order was in.

A cup of The Grape Leaf's Vegan Red Lentil Soup
A cup of The Grape Leaf’s Vegan Red Lentil Soup

And just moments later, our appetizer soups arrived.  I had to take a picture for the blog, but Cathy dove in and said…”It tastes citrus-y.”  That made me giggle and once my photo was taken, I spooned up a bit myself and tasted it.  I didn’t get citrus at all, but I did get this smokey-sweet flavor from the paprika that was sprinkled on top.  The menu lists the ingredients of this sup as being organic red lentils, extra virgin olive oil, onion, and spices.  What it was was this thick and rich soup that had a gentle, tame flavor that was elevated by the dashes of paprika over the top.  It was warm and soothing and smooth.  And it was a good way to start the meal, for sure.

In fact, we had just polished off our cups of soup when the entrées arrived at the table.  Wow.  Fast.

The grape leaves looked like…grape leaves.  I mean, you can’t really dress those up, can you?  Except with spices…like that same sprinkling of paprika…everywhere.  I mean…everywhere.  I had six stuffed grape leaves on the plate with a dollop of tzatziki and lettuce in the middle.  The grape leaves themselves were wrapped around a blend of tomato, parsley, onion, Egyptian rice, and herbs.  I cut into one of them.  They looked really great.  I dipped my fork in the tzatziki and added it to the bite…and gave it a try.

It was…pretty good.  It was okay.  The textures were great.  The grape leaves were cooked perfectly, kept soft.  The stuffing was creamy and had a bit of flavor.  Not a lot though.  In fact, the star of the entire dish was the tzatziki.  So, thank goodness for that.  I had Cathy try a bite and she liked the creamy inside…but just didn’t look like she was a fan at all.  And, sadly, being a schwarma lover…she was most impressed with her side of Cauliflower Rice.  I was also…really…really…concerned with how quickly the food came to the table.  I watch Kitchen Nightmares…I know how this works…

The food was just…okay.  Not meh.  Not gross.  But not something I would actively make a point to go back and try again.  Which…is so sad.  This was my birthday meal and it didn’t live up to expectations.  I feel cheated.  I feel like my going out on a limb…trying something different…was a letdown.  Do I get a do-over?  We left after paying the bill and decided we couldn’t end the night with food that we weren’t happy with…so we hiked just up the street to The Comfy Cow for kiddie scoops of their Strawberry Fields Forever ice cream.

So…The Grape Leaf…has an amazing reputation…but it wasn’t busy when we were there…nor was the food anything to scream from the rooftops about.  It was just…eh…good.

And I was hoping for great.  I was expecting great.

I don’t think I’ll be back.

The Grape Leaf's Vegetarian Grape Leaves
The Grape Leaf’s Vegetarian Grape Leaves

Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest – Indianapolis, Indiana – August 23, 2014

GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!
GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!

This past Saturday, I had the honor of being able to attend the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest up in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I love going to gluten-free expos and events and Indianapolis seems to always have one at some point during any calendar year.  This year was no exception, and I was thrilled to read about the new location for this year’s event – the Indian State Fairgrounds.  With all the vendors and exhibitors I saw listed, I knew this year’s event was going to be HUGE! I was not let down at all.One of the magazines I currently subscribe to, Gluten Free & More (formerly Living Without), was putting on the Living Without Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in various cities this year as a way to show those with food allergies and/or sensitivities that we can live life without deprivation and missing out on delicious food.  It was a coming together of the magazine, as well as over a hundred of their favorite exhibitors to celebrate living well.  And it was open to anyone who wanted to stop in.

Tickets went on sale and, as a subscriber, I received a free entry, and then received a discount code for another ticket…so I had Cathy taken care of as well.  So, on Saturday morning, we ate a light breakfast before climbing into the car and hauling up to Indianapolis.  We timed it perfectly because we burned through our breakfast just as we got up there, about 30 minutes after it officially opened.

And…there was already a line waiting to get in.

Oh…that made me happy, indeed.

It was a hot summer day already and standing outside in the blazing sun didn’t sound like too much fun…but it wasn’t going to be a long wait.  Just about 5 minutes, at the most.  And while standing in line, I got to listen to people who have done expos like this before (like me) describe the events and how things work to the first timers.  I even got to geek out over favorite products and the like for a few moments.  I love making gluten-free friends!

Before we knew it, we were inside the doors, in the air conditioning, and getting the tickets scanned.  We were given blue wristbands to wear (for re-entry purposes and to show we paid!).  Cathy and I put them on and headed into the expo proper.  We were greeted at the door by people passing out reusable shopping bags from Glutino (a personal favorite!).  Perfect for all the samples and products you are bound to pick up and buy.

Trust me, you don’t walk out of these events empty-handed.

Cathy and I decided that we were going to be systematic about our approach to each table/vendor/aisle.  We’d start on one side and then work our way up, then come back down the other side.  This was a good plan in theory, and we decided to start in the middle aisle to avoid the congestion of the end aisles.  We soon found out…no matter what…it was just hopping and congested.  People were surrounding tables, getting free samples, trying products, trying local baked goods, and the like.  So, we ditched our original systematic plan for the…let’s just see what there is and wriggle into open areas when we can.

We’re pros.  HA!

That being said, we began our Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest at the Glutino/Udi’s/Earth Balance booth, which was giving out samples of Udi’s Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies as well as Glutino’s Gluten-Free Multigrain English Muffins, schmeared with Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread.  It was all crazy, crazy delicious.  I actually have the Glutino English Muffins in my freezer, I just haven’t tried them yet. Now…I know buying them wasn’t a mistake at all.  They were delicious.  And that Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread…out-of-this-world good!

And from there…it only got better.  We made a point to stop by each vendor’s table and talk to them about their products, if we had tried them.  If we hadn’t…we would ask all about them.  I made a point of raving to the Pamela’s Product people about the Figgies & Jammies.  Because they are awesome and worthy of praise.  I talked to the Hodgson Mills representative and when I mentioned being a food blogger he said to reach out to the Hodgson Mills team anytime.  I was told the same thing by various other vendors as well.  And one local vendor who was selling the most amazing bar-b-que sauce and seasoning (which we purchased) said to tag her on Facebook when I use their products so they can read my blog.  I was having a great time.

I think, though, the best moment had to come at the Freedom Foods table.  Because, as many of you are aware, Freedom Foods only makes my favorite gluten-free cereal, Tropic-O’s.  NOM NOM!  I can’t find this cereal here anymore, since my Whole Foods stopped carrying it, so my parents ship it to me from Birmingham, Alabama.  We have a system down.  But, recently, they put out a gluten-free, dairy-free, and not-free version of Nutella…which I fell in love with.  My local Kroger is the only place that had it…and I bought the last jar of it a few weeks ago.  It has never been restocked.  So…I stocked up on some Quinoa Pancake Mix, lots of “Smudge” (that’s the Nutella stuff!), and a few other products to try, all the time raving about how much I love their products and how they honestly care about what ingredients go into all of their stuff.  It didn’t hurt that the guy at the table had a New Zealand/Australian accent.  HELLO!  I actually ended up going back to the table before leaving that day and buying 4 more jars of Smudge.  I hadn’t opened the one I had at home for fear I would never find it again.  Now…it’s on!

I was able to sample some of the best gluten-free Snickerdoodles I have ever eaten.  And this pasta that was made from lentils that tasted exactly like regular pasta…but I couldn’t afford the hefty price tag on it.  Unfortunately.  It was nice to sample it, however.  At the very back of the building, for those over 21, was the gluten-free cider/beer tasting area.  There was so much food and samples…so I was glad we ate light.  And Cathy and I have a system down…where we split a sample so we aren’t filling up on our own.  It always works at these events.

However, I have to say the greatest moment ever was when I finally got to meet GF Jules in person. GF Jules (formerly Jules Gluten Free) was one of the first Celiac/Gluten-Free bloggers/recipe makers/amazing people I started to follow on social media after my diagnosis.  While I have been to events where she has been present, I have never been able to actually meet her.  That changed.  We discovered that we were food allergy soul sisters, both of us being vegetarian Celiacs who also can’t handle dairy.  Go figure.  She was so nice and just so easy to talk with.  I picked up one of her cookbooks, which she signed, and she was kind enough to take a picture with me.  I might have geeked out a little bit.  Or a lot.  You know how it goes…

And soon, after a couple hours of tasting, testing, buying, talking, and exploring, our time at the expo drew to a close.  We were going to meet our friend, Greg, for lunch that day, so we bid adieu to the fantastic event and made our way out to the car.

This event was probably the best one I have attended so far.  Great people, great vendors, great information all around.  And I came home with samples and products to try in the very near future.  Can’t argue with that, right?  Right!

I hope they return next year.  I’m already making plans to attend.  If one of these events happens near you…I definitely encourage you to go!

Product Review: Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers

Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers
Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers

Product: Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers – $4.99+

One of my go-to brands here!  Everything…and I literally mean…EVERYTHING that I have tried from Glutino has been amazing.  From my first ever product…their pretzels to their pizza to their breads to their breakfast bars…to everything else I can lay my hands on (especially the chocolate covered pretzels…which are my favorite thing in life…in general!)…I have found Glutino to be one of the gluten-free brands that I can trust to put forth a quality product that also has perfect flavor and texture.

Not too long ago, for no reason I can discern whatsoever, I picked up a box of their Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers.  Normally I don’t keep random crackers in my pantry.  God only knows why I had a box of these in my pantry…unless they were on sale or I just, at the time, had a craving.  Or maybe I thought I’d need them.  Regardless, they’ve been in my pantry for a little while.  In the back.  Where I kept forgetting they were there.

UGH!  This is why I clean up my pantry every month.  To remind me of what I have and what I need to use.

Well, yesterday I went ahead with some much-needed meal preparation.  I was in the kitchen for much of the afternoon, not only working on things I would need for Sunday’s dinner…but things for Monday and beyond.  The week.  Or beyond that…because one thing I was making was a fantastic Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup, which I can freeze some portions.

Anyway…it’s Monday.  It’s crazy.  And I really just wanted to be able to come home, eat something, and then settle in to watch some World Cup with dinner.  This meant I prepped the soup on Sunday, let it cool down, froze four portions of it and put the other two into the fridge for easy reheating on Monday evening.  That’s exactly what I did.  I also baked Vegan Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Scones too…but I digress…

I was thinking, while at work, that we might want something with the soup tonight…and was trying to figure out if I wanted to bake up gluten-free corn bread…or grill up some corn…or just have crackers (I have another brand awaiting its turn for tasting and blogging rights).  I asked my roommate around lunch time and she was apathetic toward any suggestion.  I hate when she doesn’t care…because…honestly…I’m good with anything.  I just want some input.  But…on the way home, it seemed she had it all worked out…requesting crackers with the soup.

Sweet.  Decision made.

The next question was which kind to have with dinner.  Since the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers had graced my pantry shelf longer than the other one…they won the non-existent coin toss.  In other words…default!

As I heated up bowls of soup, I plucked the box from the pantry and opened up the top.  Two silver bags of freshness were waiting for me.  I checked the nutrition information and found that the box held four servings, so each silver bag held two servings of crackers.  Perfection!  I got out some paper towels, cut open one of the freshness sealed bags and poured out the contents, splitting the crackers evenly between Cathy and I.

These crackers are larger than a standard Ritz cracker.  They have this subtle pale color, but inside each cracker you can see little flecks of flavor.  I loved vegetable crackers growing up, so I was hoping that these would live up to my high expectations.  I finished up the soup, and served it with a serving of crackers each.  I wasn’t exactly sure how vegetable flavored crackers would go with peanut soup…but I was willing to at least give it a shot.

Believe it or not…it worked.  Seriously.

I think the texture and overall flavor of Glutino’s crackers (regardless of flavor) reminds me a lot of oyster crackers (Dear Glutino…please make oyster crackers for my soup!).  And I used to eat the hell out of oyster crackers.  But here is where the magic comes in with this particular cracker.  You see, it’s flavored…with vegetable flavors.  Seriously.  You get this little taste of herbs, garlic, and even tomato in each bite.  It would be great with cheese or even some hummus and vegetables on top.  The vegetable flavor definitely gives this cracker a more savory feel and taste.  And I loved it.  While I dipped most of my crackers in the soup, I kept some out to eat on their own.  That’s how good these are!  They can be eaten plain and their subtle flavors bring a lot to the cracker itself.  Delicious, any way you choose to eat them.  Trust me.

Ingredients in the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers include corn starch, white rice flour, organic palm sugar, modified corn starch, dextrose, eggs, sunflower lecithin, tomato powder, salt, dehydrated oregano, dehydrated garlic, guar gum, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and rosemary extract.  Not a big fan of that word “modified” in there…but…I just now noticed it!

As far as nutrition information goes…the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers contain 14o calories per serving (about 8 crackers) and 5 grams of fat.  These crackers also serve up 5 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, and only 1 gram of sugar.  That’s not bad at all.  In addition, one serving will also provide you with only 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.  Not too filling…so don’t expect the crackers to hold you all day.  Not happening.

Seriously…if you’re looking for a snack cracker or something to serve up at a party, I highly recommend the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers.  They are perfectly seasoned bites of cracker goodness.  Great for soups, snacks, and savory hors d’oevres.  Really just great.  Eat them on their own, or dip or top them however you like.  You won’t be disappointed.  On the contrary, you might find yourself stocking your pantry with these on a regular basis.

Recipe: Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup

I admit it.  I’m a girl from the North, so when my CSA bin arrived with collard greens inside…I had NO clue what to do with them.  None.  And while I lived in Birmingham, Alabama for six years…I was never one for southern-style cooking.  Just ask any of my friends and co-workers.  I was not having any of it.  So…collard greens had me stumped.

So, I did what any good Northern girl would do when staring at collard greens and trying to figure out a good way to use them before they went bad (because we waste NOTHING!).  I hit up Pinterest.  And…much to my delight, found a soup recipe (and I love soup!) that incorporated collard greens and pretty much (save for a red onion and an extra box of organic veggie broth) everything I already had in my pantry.  Seriously!  So…I figured I would give it a try.

Let me tell you…this soup is so easy to make.  One pot.  That’s all you need.  I used my Dutch oven to cook everything up and it was just…easy.  And smelled really good.  I know…some of you might wonder how these ingredients all come together.  Like…tomato paste and peanut butter…but it works.  Just trust me.  If you like Pad Thai…you’ll appreciate this soup.  That’s what it smells and tastes like…minus the noodles and chicken and all that stuff.  I got this recipe from Cookie + Kate…and it was a flavor sensation of pure perfection.

Recipe: Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup

Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup
Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup

Servings: 6-8
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or kale), ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth…I used chunky so I wouldn’t have to buy peanuts to garnish)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • Hot sauce, like Sriracha
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:

In a medium Dutch oven or stock pot, bring the broth to a boil.

Add the onion, ginger, garlic and salt.  Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl.  Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well.

Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste.

Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.

Serve over cooked brown rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

~*~*~

Like I said…it’s like liquid Pad Thai.  And I love Pad Thai.  It sounds odd…but trust me…the flavors are there.  You can make it as mild or as spicy as you want.  I kept mine near the middle, because while I love spicy foods, my roommate is a “heat wimp” (her words).  So…I found the happy medium there.  This soup is just delicious and honestly…couldn’t be easier to make.  It didn’t take much time to get the ingredients ready and then you just let it cook, stirring every now and again.  I do recommend using chunky peanut butter.  It is just awesome.

So…if you are looking for a different soup to try…totally give this one a shot.  I promise…you’ll like it.  You might even love it…like me.