Vegan Carrot Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Tomatoes

Carrot Lentil SoupBeen quite some time since I have had carrot soup so thought now is as good as any time to make some. My recipe was inspired from Carrot Apple Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk over at Vegangel, a wonderful vegan food blog with some great recipes.  I have to say I am very much happy with how this soup turned out, being absolutely delicious, if I can say so myself, filled with flavor as well as a lovely color and texture.

I didn’t think the three tablespoons of olive oil called for in Angela’s recipe was necessary and wanted to cut down on the fat content so used just one tablespoon of olive oil, which worked just fine and I don’t think detracted in the flavor or texture of this soup at all.

I did use all the other ingredients called for in her recipe, with the exception of substituting the nutmeg with fresh dill and cumin.

Dill is one of my favorite spices and it certainly didn’t let me down for this soup, giving it a really nice flavor. I know it sounds like a bit of a strange combination but I thought that the cumin in addition to the dill complemented this the carrot soup very well.

KitchenAid KFP0711CU 7-Cup Food ProcessorGoing a little off topic for a moment, my brand spanking new KitchenAid KFP0711CU 7-Cup Food Processor was a God send for slicing the carrots and apple — very nicely too I might add — saving me a ton of time. It did dice my onion nicely as well, but I have a bit of a story that goes along with that.

The first time that I used this food processor for dicing an onion, using the multipurpose blade, I simply pressed the High speed option. Big mistake! My onion was not diced but liquefied. This time around I did few short bursts with the Pulse control until getting the onion diced to the desired size.

Anyways, back to my modifications and additions. Instead of the two cups of vegetable broth in Angela’s recipe, I used three cups of Campbell’s® No Salt Added Ready To Use Vegetable Broth, available here in Canada. I like to keep the amount of sodium content in the food I eat relatively low so use low and no salt foods whenever I can in my recipes. You can use whatever vegetable broth you want/that is available in your locale.

For extra protein I added one-cup of red lentils, loaded with nutrition and with the added bonus of being super cheap. Lentils are great for soups and other dishes that you are going to puree as they blend very nicely. Also a great way of sneaking some extra nutrients and minerals into your food.

I added a 28 oz can of No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes as well, which I think was a great addition to my carrot soup.

At the last minute I decided to add one cup of chopped kale to the soup. I am a big fan of this vegetable, as it is so rich in minerals and nutrients, being a great source of potassium, iron, protein (2.9 grams per one cup) and fiber as well as vitamins C, K and A. I find kale  is so versatile, going very well in stews, soups, chili’s, salads, etc.

cashew-sour-creamYou may be wondering how a recipe that is vegan could possibly be garnished with sour cream. Well, that is not dairy sour cream but cashew sour cream. I used the Cashew Sour Cream recipe over at wholefoodsmarket.com. I got to say that I love this sour cream. I don’t think it tastes quite like dairy sour cream bought in the store but certainly has a nice creamy flavor and texture to it.

I did make one modifications to the cashew sour cream recipe. I substituted the 1/4 cup of water with 1/2 to 3/4 cups of almond milk. I used Almond Breeze Unsweetened Original almond milk, with only 40 calories per cup. However, I’m sure another brand would work just fine. What I liked about using the almond milk instead of water is that it gives the sour cream a nice white versus a brownish white color when using just water.

You can tweak the flavor and texture of the cashew sour cream by modifying the amounts of almond milk, lemon and apple cider vinegar used.

As a side note, a word of warning (or a few words I guess would be more accurate). When pureeing this soup in the blender be sure to fill the blender only one-half full of soup at a time. If you fill it to the brim with hot soup the lid could explode open, leaving you with quite a mess and possibly getting burned to boot. Also, be sure to leave the blender lid slightly ajar to allow the steam to escape.

Carrot Lentil SoupVegan Carrot Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small apple, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cups sliced, peeled carrots (about 1½ pounds)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I used Campbell’s® No Salt Added Ready To Use Vegetable Broth)
  • 1 28 oz can of No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 cup dried red lentil
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tightly packed cup of chopped kale
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add sliced apples and carrots and cook for 3 minutes more.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add vegetable broth, tomatoes, lentils and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until carrots and apples are almost softened, about 25 minutes. Add the kale and cook an additional five minutes. If the carrots and apples aren’t softened continue cooking until they’re softened. After removing the pan from the heat, let stand for ten minutes. Next, stir in the coconut milk.
  3. Puree the soup either in batches with a regular blender, like I did, or with an immersion (stick) blender. Note: If using a regular blender be sure to fill it only half full of hot soup to prevent it from exploding all over, making a real mess and possibly burning you. Also, leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.
  4. Once all of the soup is blended, return to the pot (if you used a regular blender). Stir in the fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat for an additional five minutes if desired.
  5. Serve with vegan sour cream, cashew cream, carrot greens, a dash of fresh cracked pepper, etc.

 

Nutrition Facts
Servings 5.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 455
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17 g 26 %
Saturated Fat 10 g 50 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 156 mg 7 %
Potassium 650 mg 19 %
Total Carbohydrate 56 g 19 %
Dietary Fiber 13 g 54 %
Sugars 17 g
Protein 16 g 33 %
Vitamin A 452 %
Vitamin C 34 %
Calcium 21 %
Iron 27 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Soy Free Vegan Moroccan Stew

Vegan Moroccan StewToday I made one of my all time favorite recipes, Vegan Moroccan Stew. It is loosely based off of the Make Ahead Vegetarian Moroccan Stew recipe found on one of my favorite online recipe sites allrecipes.com (I have made several additions and modifications). This recipe is so flavorful with the spices being the key to the flavor of this soy-free vegan stew. I love the smell of the spices in the stew when cooking this dish.

It is filling too with 15 grams of protein per serving but with a mere 4 grams of fat, zero cholesterol and 404 calories per serving. It is very nutritious as well, loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It is an excellent source of fiber (19 grams), potassium, iron, vitamin A and C. This recipe makes a large batch (a good seven servings) and freezes very well. ]

I especially like this as I find that doing my grocery shopping and batch cooking over the weekend is the key for me eating healthy, nutritious food during the week, helping me keep on track with losing weight and eating tasty and nutritious meals at the same time. The prep time involved in chopping all the vegetables is well worth the effort for this healthy, exotic and delicious North African inspired stew.

Ingredients

Spice Mixture:

Stew vegetables:

vegan moroccan stew potDirections

  1. Combine cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  2. In a large pot saute the onions and celery in the olive oil until soft and the onion is just beginning to brown.
  3. Next, stir in the spice mixture and finely chopped kale. Cook for approximately two minutes until the kale begins to wilt.
  4. Now pour the no salt added vegetable broth into the pot. Stir in the tomatoes, carrots, sweet potato, zucchini, apricots, lentils and the no salt added chick peas into broth. Bring the stew to a boil and simmer for around 30 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are cooked and tender. Season to taste with black pepper and salt. I find with such a flavorful combination of ingredients and spices it doesn’t need any salt added but this is a matter of personal preference.
Nutrition Facts
Servings 7.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 404
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g 6 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 3 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 152 mg 6 %
Potassium 912 mg 26 %
Total Carbohydrate 80 g 27 %
Dietary Fiber 19 g 76 %
Sugars 22 g
Protein 15 g 31 %
Vitamin A 275 %
Vitamin C 97 %
Calcium 17 %
Iron 29 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Wendy’s Asian Cashew Salad (Without the Chicken): A Healthy and Tasty Soy-Free Vegan Delight

Wendy's Asian Cashew SaladOne of my favorite healthy fast food meals before I became vegan was the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad at Wendy’s (I know, “healthy” does sound like an oxymoron to “fast food”). Now it has become my favorite fast food meal minus the chicken. Yes, this healthy and delicious salad is vegan if you forgo the chicken (just ask for extra cashews). The Asian Cashew Chicken Salad is loaded with goodness containing 12 (yes 12!) different greens and topped with cucumbers, red bell peppers as well as a tasty Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette dressing.

Besides being delicious the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad (“Hold the chicken and one extra packet of cashews please”) is nutritious too containing 330 calories, 7 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein as well as percent daily values (DV) of 110% DV Vitamin A, 90% DV Vitamin C and 20% DV Iron. You can rest assured that it is soy free and peanut free as well. The dressing for this salad contained peanuts when it first came out but reformatted the dressing around 2014 to contain no peanuts.

Skip the cashews and you have a low fat salad with just 5 grams of fat and 170 calories (with two packets of cashews 18 grams of fat or if you have it with one packet of cashews 12 grams of fat and 250 calories). Though cashews are a higher source of fat they have some excellent health benefits as well, being a good source of iron, magnesium and protein. For more nutritional info on this salad please scroll down to the bottom of this post.

The dressing comes on the side in the form of two packets so you can have as much or little as you want. The dressing is only 45 calories though per packet and I think you’re missing a real treat if you choose not to have any. If you’re really watching your calories just have one packet instead of two. The cashews as well come on the side so you can say “yea or nay” to having extra or even any of those.

I live in a smaller city which is fairly “blue collar”, probably with not a lot of vegans. Most of my co-workers I would say think my newly founded vegan diet is quite “strange” to put it mildly I guess you could say. It was quite interesting the reaction I got from the girl at the cash register when I ordered my Asian Cashew Chicken Salad today, asking to, “Please hold the chicken.” I got this incredulous look on her face and she stammered, “Without the chicken?!?” From her reaction I gather that is a request that they don’t get too often at my local Wendy’s. Lol.

It’s so nice to know that there are nutritious, filling and tasty fast food options out there. I’m especially glad that Wendy’s does as it is probably my most liked fast food restaurant. The Asian Cashew Chicken Salad (without the chicken) is far from the only vegan fast food option out there. Here are a few posts and pages that contain info on Wendy’s vegan options.

Below, I have included the nutritional info on the Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad (voiding the chicken and with an extra packet of cashews). I got this info courtesy of the Wendy’s website where you can actually get customized nutritionally information on their various menu items, allowing you to add or omit select ingredients. Kudos to Wendy’s for doing this!

Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad Nutritional Information – No Chicken and Two Packets of Cashews

Calories 330 Sodium 560 mg
Total Fat 18 g Potassium 820 mg
Saturated 3 g Total Carbs 35 g
Polyunsaturated 5 g Dietary Fiber 7 g
Monounsaturated 8 g Sugars 19 g
Trans 0 g Protein 11 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 110% Calcium 10%
Vitamin C 90% Iron 20%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

My New Favorite Vegan Soy Free Green Smoothie

Photo: The Minimalist Baker
Photo: The Minimalist Baker

After purchasing a Hamilton Beach Power Elite Blender three weeks ago I have been making smoothies pretty much every day. Up until today I have been experimenting with various themes of chocolate smoothies. Even though I love chocolate I was starting to get a bit tired of chocolate smoothies so was delighted when I came across the Minimalist Baker My Favorite Green Smoothie recipe and even happier after trying it.

This smoothie is absolutely delicious and so refreshing. Besides that, it is also very nutritious, loaded with fiber (10 grams), protein (8 grams), potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. It comes in at 304 calories. The My Favorite Green Smoothie is so easy to make as well, with just a few minutes of prep time and a mere six ingredients.

I used the packaged pre-cut and pre-washed spinach which saves even more time. I followed the recipe as written except for a couple of slight variations. I replaced the salted peanut butter with unsalted and unsweetened peanut butter and didn’t freeze my banana.

As you can see, this smoothie recipe is so versatile. Today, I used two cups of kale leaves instead of spinach. As kale has a stronger and more distinct flavor than spinach I upped the amount of frozen berries to one cup to mask the flavor of the kale a bit more. It was surprisingly delicious.

Kale, considered a superfood, really does give you a good bang for your buck, loaded with vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, calcium and iron. Kale is also a good source of protein containing four grams of protein for two cups of kale. Two cups of kale contains 12% of your recommended percent daily values of iron intake as well.

One great tip that I read for blending your green smoothies that I now follow is to first blend the greens (ie. spinach, kale) with the liquid (ie. almond milk) prior to adding the remainder of the ingredients to blend. That way you can ensure that the greens are thoroughly blended and that you are not getting clumps of spinach, kale or whatever green(s) that you are using in your smoothie.

I was a bit hesitant to try green smoothies, mainly due to the color and being afraid that they would taste too earthy with so many greens. Thanks to the Minimalist Baker My Favorite Green Smoothie recipe I am now totally sold on green smoothies and will certainly be having them on a regular basis.

Author: Minimalist Baker Recipe

type: Breakfast Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 medium banana, previously peeled, frozen and quartered (I didn’t freeze my banana)
  • 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries (I used Europe’s Best 4-Field Berry Mix)
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 heaping Tbsp natural, salted peanut butter (I used Kraft Unsalted and Unsweetened peanut butter)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Almond Breeze Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk at only 40 calories per cup)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy, adding more almond milk or frozen berries (or bananas) to thin/thicken, respectively. Serve immediately or freeze to enjoy later. Although, it is best when fresh.
Nutrition Facts
Servings 1.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 304
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14 g 21 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 13 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 141 mg 6 %
Potassium 956 mg 27 %
Total Carbohydrate 44 g 15 %
Dietary Fiber 10 g 39 %
Sugars 21 g
Protein 8 g 17 %
Vitamin A 122 %
Vitamin C 59 %
Calcium 42 %
Iron 20 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Hearty Soy-Free Vegan Borscht

hearty vegan borschtOne of my favorite soups is borscht and something that I have been craving for awhile now. Every weekend I cook one or two recipes for batch cooking. I find that batch cooking really helps me keep on track with my diet, having nutritious and tasty meals throughout the work week, ultimately helping me to keep on track to reaching my weight loss goal. There’s just no comparison either to a healthy home made soup to a sodium laden, overcooked store bought soup.

I decided that I was going to cook homemade borscht today and created this recipe. It makes six servings and freezes really well so is ideal for batch cooking. I think that this Ukrainian/Russian soup is one of the ultimate comfort soups. There are many variations to borscht.

Mine includes beets, red cabbage, parsnip, carrot and onion. I added two cups of chopped kale to this borscht as well. I add kale to so many of my soups, stews and even my vegan bean and vegetable burritos. Kale is so versatile and nutrient rich, loaded with vitamins and minerals. This antioxidant is an excellent source of Vitamin A, C and K as well as potassium, protein and iron and has many proven health benefits.

I also added one 28 ounce can of No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes. Tomatoes, according to the Wikipedia page on borscht, is one of the typical ingredients to traditional borscht and I think, add a really nice flavor and texture to this soup. The Borscht Wikipedia page also states that besides beet roots the usual ingredients to borscht include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and, as I just mentioned, tomatoes.

For the stock I used six cups of Campbell’s No Salt Added Vegetable broth, available here in Canada. If you live outside of Canada you can use another brand of no salt added or sodium reduced vegetable broth. Another alternative is to make your own homemade salt free vegetable broth. I haven’t tried this myself but is definitely something that I am going to do. The Basic Vegetable Stock, found on probably my favorite recipe site — allrecipes — looks really easy to make and has excellent reviews. To make this stock salt free, all you would have to do is simply omit the salt.

For added protein I added one can of black beans to the borscht. Be sure to rinse the beans under running cool water as rinsing canned beans reduces the sodium content by as much as 41%.

Speaking of sodium, you can add salt to taste. I found that this soup is so flavorful though that it wasn’t necessary to add any salt. I also put in 4 tsp of dried dill weed and 2 tsp of red wine vinegar to the Vegan Borscht, both which give it a really nice flavor. Fresh dill would be really nice in this soup as well. Substituting the red wine vinegar for white or apple vinegar should be fine also.

Without further ado, here is my Hearty Soy-Free Vegan Borscht recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 beets, skin peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 6 cups no-salt added vegetable broth (I use Campbell’s No Salt Added Vegetable Broth, which is available here in Canada)
  • 1 28 Oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, diced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp dried dill weed
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar (you could also use apple cider or white vinegar)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onions until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add the beets, carrots and parsnips and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and simmer, with the lid on the pot, for 25 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage and kale and simmer for another 15 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir in the black beans and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Season with dill, vinegar as well as salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

With the help of the MyFitnessPal Recipe Calculator I have included the nutritional information of this healthy and tasty soy-free vegan borscht

Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 251
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8 g 13 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 7 %
Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 437 mg 18 %
Potassium 475 mg 14 %
Total Carbohydrate 40 g 13 %
Dietary Fiber 10 g 42 %
Sugars 16 g
Protein 8 g 17 %
Vitamin A 85 %
Vitamin C 67 %
Calcium 11 %
Iron 23 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.