Tag Archives: recipe

Recipe: Winter Harvest Soup

This soup was invented based on two criteria: 1. I had the ingredients on hand that needed to be used before going bad, and 2. I needed something that would give Kyle (age 1) vegetables in a soft form. Thus, Winter Harvest Soup. The grownups enjoyed the recipe as is–a heartier, chunky soup; and I pureed the rest for Kyle–or those who prefer a smoother, creamy soup. He LOVED it!

Feel free to adjust the types of vegetables used in this soup (though root vegetables do seem to work best). If you’re not a sweet potato fan, try Yukon golds. If you have acorn squash instead of butternut, go for it! And if you’ve never seen a parsnip–well, first, try to find a parsnip because they’re delicious!–but if you can’t, try a turnip or rutabaga or just more carrots. This made a large pot of soup, so if you have fewer vegetables, just use half of the other ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower (chopped)
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (halved)
  • 1 butternut squash (halved and seeded)
  • 1 bag baby carrots (chopped)
  • 4 parsnips (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. marjoram (if you don’t have marjoram, basil would work)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. chicken (or vegetable) bouillon
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. prepared basil paste
  • 2-3 c. coconut milk (or cow’s milk, if preferred)

Instructions:

  1. Prep the winter vegetables. Using two large baking sheets, spread out vegetables in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbs and spices. Roast at 400°F for 40 minutes.
  2. Remove vegetables from oven and let cool slightly. Peel and chop squash and sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces.
  3. Toss all vegetables in large stockpot; fill with water to not quite cover vegetables. 
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (or until vegetables are completely soft). 
  5. Serve hot. 

Suggestion: serve with crackers, croutons, or garlic bread and a simple salad. 

Recipe: Corn Salad by Melissa McKinnon

photo-21Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • handful of fresh basil and cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ears of sweet corn, husked, scrubbed, and kerneled
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 radishes, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed

Instructions:

  • Chop herbs and whisk together with mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper. (If vegan, dairy-free, or you just don’t like mayo: substitute mayo with vegannaise and corn milk for the sour cream–after cutting off kernels, run flat edge of knife down ears of corn to release the sweet milk.)
  • Clean vegetables.* Cut kernels off of corn (discarding the cores), and chop other vegetables to desired sizes (I like the radishes and onion to be fairly tiny and the cucumber and avocado to be a little bigger, personally).
  • Toss vegetables into dressing and mix. Serve with sprigs of herbs as garnish, if desired.

*Note: All vegetables are raw in this dish–no cooking required. So, it’s a fast dish with fantastic colors and flavors. Since everything is raw, make sure you use the freshest produce possible and clean everything well. This salad is a great alternative to potato salad or coleslaw at a picnic or as a “salsa” on top of curried chicken and rice. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe: Kale Salad with Bacon, Cranberries, and Goat Cheese by Melissa McKinnon

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick-sliced bacon, crumbled
  • 3 Tbsp. bacon grease, reserved from frying
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 c. chopped fresh kale leaves (discard stems)
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c. slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c. crumbled (honeyed or plain) goat cheese (about 2 oz.)
Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil; Kale Salad with Crackers

Kale Salad with Crackers, served as a side with

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil

Instructions:

1. Cook thick-sliced bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and pat dry with paper towels. Crumble bacon. Let bacon grease cool slightly (pour 3 Tbsp. grease into a glass bowl to help it cool faster, if desired–just don’t let it burn).

2. Prepare kale. I buy the pre-washed, pre-chopped bag of kale, but if you buy fresh, whole kale from your grocery store or farmers’ market, wash thoroughly (I recommend triple washing to remove all the grit), pat (or spin) dry, remove stems and chop as finely as desired. Set aside.

3. Whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Carefully pour warm grease into vinegar mixture; whisk to combine. (I do this step in the serving bowl to cut down on clean-up.)

4. Toss kale in dressing. Make sure leaves are evenly coated with dressing (use your hands–just don’t burn yourself). Then add crumbled bacon, goat cheese, cranberries and almonds and toss.

5. Serve as an appetizer, a side salad, or as dip with crackers. The combination of crunchy and creamy, tangy and sweet is fantastic! This is definitely a new family favorite! Bon Appetit!

Note: You could also add 2 Tbsp. of finely chopped red onions or scallions for a nice touch.

As an alternative, I made some this week and switched out the cranberries for some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, added juice from half a lemon to the dressing, and used plain goat cheese, along with the almonds and crumbled bacon, and it was a big hit! So whether you go savory or sweet, bon appetit!

Journey Journal: Days 84-87

Day 84: Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday to “My Journey To Lean” blog! It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since I started this blog–and even longer since I first started blogging.(July 28, 2005 was my first ever blogpost!…almost 8 years ago now!) Lots has changed since it started, but I’m still enjoying the journey, and I hope you are too!

Bryan made up some scrambled eggs and warmed up some leftover ham with a little maple syrup for breakfast before work. It was really good.

For lunch, I had the ham and bean soup we made yesterday with a side salad. The soup was started by making ham broth out of the bone from Sunday dinner’s baked ham. After simmering for several hours, I discarded the bone and strained the broth (yielded about 12 cups), reserving as much ham as I could. Then I sautéed onion, carrots, and garlic in some olive oil with salt, pepper, a couple of bay leaves, crushed red pepper, and worcestershire sauce in the stockpot. I added about half of the broth back in, along with the ham meat (about 2 c.), a bag of frozen kale, and 1 cup each of dry red beans and dry Northern beans, and let it simmer for about 4 more hours, till the beans were perfect.

Had an adventure this afternoon when Bryan’s keys fell out of his pocket onto the carseat (after he had locked the car door). Oops. Then we realized we hadn’t made a copy for this car’s keys yet. Oops again. Fortunately, we were able to use a couple coat hangers and screwdrivers to get the keys. I’m actually surprised this was the first time we’ve had to do this–too bad it was one of the colder days of the year, and his jacket got locked inside the car with the keys (of course).

Day 85: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Long, busy day. We’re hitting crunch time with various deadlines at the office, and I’m working diligently on my multi-tasking skills. For lunch, the whole office headed to Brick Street Cafe for a special celebration lunch for Katie, our bookkeeper who is retiring after this week. She is an incredible asset and will be greatly missed! After work, I ran home for a quick supper of scrambled eggs and grilled ham (this time using cane syrup–actually turned out even better than the maple). Then I was off to meet a bride, her MOH, and her mom for a flower consult for her wedding this August! Finished the day with a cup of TAZO Zen green tea.

Day 86: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another busy day. Another ham soup lunch. And actually had ham soup with salad and a hearty bread for dinner too. And finally made it to Goga today–especially enjoyed the lymphatic massage and infrared sauna portions!

Day 87: Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lunch was a chunk of hearty bread, a freshly sliced tomato, and some warm ham with spicy mustard. It hit the spot! Mom arrived for a brief visit tonight! Had the last of the ham and bean soup with a side salad and the last of the hearty bread for dinner. It really hit the spot. And it’s always good to have mother-daughter time! Finished the day with a French Press of Columbian coffee, a handful of almonds, a square of dark chocolate, and good conversation with mom.

Recipe: Kale and White Bean Soup by Melissa McKinnon

Kale and White Bean Soup

by Melissa McKinnon

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • water (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tsp. chicken bouillon (or 2 cubes)
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, with liquid

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, shallot, garlic, olive oil, carrots, salt, pepper, and herbs. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent, stirring regularly.
  3. Add tomatoes, potato, and kale and cook 3-5 minutes, until kale begins to wilt.
  4. Cover with water, just to the top of the vegetables, add bouillon, and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low, add beans with liquid, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender but still firm.
  6. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a hearty bread.

Bon Appetit!

Recipe: DIY All-Natural Deodorant

Along my journey towards a simpler, healthier lifestyle, I started coming across articles about health and beauty products that weren’t so healthy for you! So many of them have added chemicals, like aluminum in deodorants, for example.

A few months back, I started making my own laundry detergent to avoid the extra chemicals (and save some cash). Last month, I started making my own deodorant. It’s so easy and it really does work! I wanted to test it for a while before I shared the recipe, to make sure it worked, thus the delay in posting this. But, I assure you, it does work and has no hidden chemicals or unnatural elements! And it’s cheaper than buying an all-natural deodorant in the store.

Note, however, that this is NOT an antiperspirant; it’s simply a deodorant. God gave us sweat glands as a built-in mechanism to cool us down and release toxins from our bodies, so I’m not a big fan of antiperspirants, unless you have over-productive sweat glands, of course.

Recipe:

  • 1/3 c. organic coconut oil (I used Spectrum brand)
  • 1/4 c. all-natural baking soda (I used Arm & Hammer)
  • 1/4 c. all-natural cornstarch (I used Cream 100% Pure brand)
  • 30 drops lavender essential oil (natural anti-fungal)
  • 30 drop tea tree essential oil (natural anti-bacterial)
Cream all the ingredients together in your mixer and store in a jar. It works best if you store it in a cool, dark place (like under your bathroom counter) so the oil doesn’t melt. I simply use my finger and rub about 1/4 tsp. under each arm in the morning  (you could clean out an old deodorant stick and refill it if you don’t want to use your hands). It lasts all day and smells great!

Do you have a favorite natural beauty product recipe you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Recipe: French Onion Soup by Melissa McKinnon

We had a catering last week that included a salad bar. There was about 6 cups of shaved onions leftover from the salad bar. They were ready to be tossed and I thought, “What can I do with that many onions?!” Then it hit me, French Onion Soup! I’d never made it before, so I thought it was worth a shot. Turns out, I was right. I didn’t follow a recipe. I just followed my nose. Yum! Check it out below:

French Onion Soup by Melissa McKinnon

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups shaved onions (about 6 medium onions, finely sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce (I used Lee & Perrin’s Thick Sauce)
  • 1/3 to 1 c. Shiraz (or favorite red wine)
  • 4 beef boullion cubes
  • 5 c. water
  • 10 slices Provolone cheese
  • 10 slices of French bread (and butter to spread on top of each slice)

Instructions:

Slice onions as thin as you can slice them. I would recommend cutting each onion in half or quarters before slicing, so they don’t get too stringy as they cook down.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in Medium Stockpan over Medium heat. Add onions, salt, pepper and basil, and reduce. It helps if they’re able to brown just slightly, bringing out the natural sweetness of the onions in the caramelization process. Once it reaches this point, add wine and Worchestershire. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, allowing the onions to soak up the wine flavor. Then add boullion cubes and water. Make sure the cubes are fully dissolved and transfer to crockpot.

Cook onion soup for 4-10 hours on low.

Crockpot of Onion Soup

Ladle 3/4 c. into 10 serving bowls. Meanwhile, butter and  toast slices of french bread (I broiled mine in the toaster oven for 2 minutes).

The Toast is Ready for the Soup

Place one slice of toast in each bowl and cover with 1 slice of Provolone cheese.

I let my cheese hang over the edges of the bowls. You can use shredded if you like and just top the bread.

Broil on low for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

The one cup Pampered Chef glass storage containers are the perfect size.

I served mine with salad and a slice of french bread with butter, thyme and garlic salt.

Dinner is Served!

This is a great make-ahead recipe. To reheat, place in toaster oven on bake at 300F for 5-10 minutes. Bon Appetit! ~Melissa

Recipe: Raw Pumpkin Pie

Raw Pumpkin Pie: all photography in this post courtesy of Bryan McKinnon, http://www.shadowlight.smugmug.com.

My friend Catherine and her husband Greg were coming over for dinner Saturday night. She eats a mainly raw vegan diet, so I wanted to make a special treat that neither of us had tried before: Raw Pumpkin Pie. We followed the recipe by Veronica Bosgraaf in the Gluten-Free e-Cookbook I posted a link to a while back, and it turned out surprisingly well! I couldn’t believe how much the filling looked like a traditional pumpkin pie. I brought an extra slice to my friend Lonnette at work, and she raved about it on Facebook, asking for the recipe. So, here you go…

Ingredients for Crust: 2 c. almonds, 1 c. dates, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.

Pulse crust ingredients in food processor, then press into glass pie plate.

Next, take half of a small pie pumpkin (about 6" diameter), peel, pit, and cube. That's right folks, no cooking involved. Make sure you have a sturdy peeler or use a sharp knife.

Filling Ingredients: 2 c. pumpkin puree (this means you will need to pulse the pumpkin cubes before measuring this ingredient), 1 to 1 1/2 c. dates, 1/4 c. raisins, 1/2 c. cashews, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. each nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom, and a dash (1/8 tsp.) salt. We also added about 1/3 c. water to get the right consistency (add this slowly, 1 Tbsp. at a time, as each pumpkin may have a varying amount of moisture).

Pulse on low in food processor for several minutes. Ours took about 10-12 minutes and about 1/3 c. water to look right. Scrape into pie crust.

Spread evenly into crust and refrigerate for 2 hours, or till set.

The Finished Product: Raw Pumpkin Pie

I served mine with a dollop of whipped cream; Catherine had hers all natural.

Mel & Catherine (no, we did not plan to match)

Celebrating 10,000 Hits with Guest Author Catherine Hosack and Her Zucchini-Tomato Pesto Rolls Recipe

I met today’s guest author several years ago at a local Barnes & Noble while we waited for the midnight release of the final Harry Potter book. Catherine Hosack is a dear friend who is also in a journey towards better health. She writes a blog called “Going Raw: Adventures in Uncooking.” Check it out here. I wanted a guest author to help me celebrate 10,000 hits on my blog, so I asked her to share her story with my readers, and here it is:

“I love Melissa’s “journey to lean” blog for a lot of reasons; for one, it shows that everyone has their own spiritual and physical health journey to experience. The process of learning what is best for our individual bodies, minds, and spirits is, I think, an essential part of our lives. As Melissa’s blog testifies, this process can be hard, but it’s worth it. My personal journey along these lines has led me to eating a mostly raw, Vegan diet. Briefly, a Vegan raw food diet is a pure vegetarian diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In order to qualify as raw, no food can be heated above 118º F, which is the temperature at which the whole live enzymes and nutrients in the food start to be destroyed.

“I started eating this way because in 2002 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which basically means that my immune system and my colon were not happy. After seven years of dealing with really strong medications and a very bleak outlook for my long-term health, I decided to increase my health through nutrition. I decided to try a raw food diet because it maximizes one’s intake of live enzymes, antioxidants, and alkaline-forming foods – all of which actively improve your body’s immune system and increase your natural health. The idea, in short, is to eat foods that make you stronger, instead of eating foods that make you weak and therefore more susceptible to disease.

“Transitioning to this new way of life was difficult at first, but now I am happy to say that after a year and a half of eating a diet heavy in raw foods, I have experienced NONE of the ulcerative colitis symptoms that used to disrupt my life every couple months. Additionally, I have more energy, I hardly ever get sick (not even a cold), and I’ve experienced other unexpected health benefits as well.

“I LOVE raw food. If I go a couple meals without a big raw dish, I crave it. I still eat cooked foods sometimes, of course, and it’s still fun to eat my old favorite foods like Pad Thai and pumpkin pie and things like that… but as time goes on, I feel less and less drawn to my old comfort foods, and more and more attracted to my new favorite dishes, like avocado-carob pudding, fresh sprouts, garden-fresh okra, and marinated eggplant.

“This is one of my favorite raw food recipes.”

~Catherine

ZUCCHINI-TOMATO PESTO ROLLS by Catherine Hosack

  • PESTO INGREDIENTS
    • 1 cup of pine nuts or walnuts, soaked in water for 8 hours or more
    • 1 cup of fresh basil
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • dash of sea salt to taste
    • Appliance needed: blender or chopper
  • OTHER INGREDIENTS
    • A couple medium tomatoes or 3-4 small ones
    • 1 zucchini

INSTRUCTIONS

“Blend all the pesto ingredients in some sort of small blender or chopper. Next, you need to make thin zucchini-strips. You can either do this by getting a big knife and cutting your zucchini carefully, lengthwise; but it’s far easier to use a cheese slicer if you have one. Just hold the zucchini and pull the slicer down from one end to the other, keeping the thickness of the slice as even as possible.

“Dice the tomatoes into pieces about the size of large grapes. Then take a slice of zucchini, spread pesto on the slice, and stick a tomato on one end of the zucchini slice. Carefully roll the zucchini around the tomato. I like to grind peppercorns over the finished rolls. These are so tasty…and cute too!”

Bon Appetit! I hope you enjoy this raw Vegan treat! Don’t forget to check out Catherine’s blog! ~Melissa

Recipe: Ham, Bean and Barley Soup

I’ve had a bunch of dried beans in my pantry for ages and have been waiting for the fall to make a great soup. This recipe is healthy, hearty, and homey! And it makes plenty, so invite a crowd! Here’s what I did:

Sneak Peek at Some of the Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 1 cup dried red beans
  • 1 cup dried northern beans
  • 1 cup dried mung beans
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • WATER!
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 # turkey ham, chopped
  • 1 c. uncooked pearl barley

Instructions:

First, I took 1 cup each of the following dried beans: black beans, red beans, northern beans, mung beans (the little green ones), and lentils (the little tan ones). I soaked them overnight in a big pot of water.

Beautiful Beans! I felt like I should be doing some kind of Aztec Art, they were so pretty!

Soaking overnight...

Then this morning, I drained and rinsed the beans, and put the big pot on the stove. I melted one stick of butter and added the salt, pepper, spices, and the chopped onion.

Tip: to finely chop an onion, cut a criss cross pattern without going all the way through, then lay the onion on its side and slice. Makes perfect little squares of onions.

Mmm! Onion cooking in butter...one of the most pleasant aromas on earth!

Once the onion was transluscent, I added the rinsed beans, chopped ham, and 8 cups of water.

I used an 8 quart stockpot.

Bring to a boil on high, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour. After the hour, add the barley and cook for another 40-45 minutes.

Be sure to invite a crowd...or be ready to eat this for a very long time!

Serve hot! To reheat, I would suggest adding a little water, bringing it back to a boil, then turning down to low to keep it warm.

If you don't have enough bowls to go around, utilize those tea cups from your grandmother! Enjoy!

Recipe by Melissa McKinnon