Organic French lentils, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and kombu – what’s not to love? I made a pot of this soup before going to the spa on Sunday, and it was the perfect dinner to come home to – after treating myself to a lovely massage, I continued to treat myself to a delicious, healthy dinner. Now that’s what I call pampering!
Lentil Vegetable Soup
1 quart organic chicken or vegetable stock
1 quart water
1/2 cup French lentils
2 strips kombu (sea vegetable, available in the Asian aisle of your market)
3 carrots, sliced in thin rounds
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules (optional)
kosher salt and fresh pepper
pinch of cumin, oregano and thyme
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Bring water and stock to a boil in a large stockpot. Add lentils and kombu strips (break them in half before adding them, to make them easier to eat) and cook on a low boil for 45 minutes, until lentils have begun to soften.
- Add vegetables and season with kelp granules, salt and pepper, dried herbs and spices, and continue to cook until lentils have completely softened and the carrots and zucchini are cooked through as well, about 10-15 more minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes or so to allow the flavors to combine.
Source: Adapted from Sara Snow
How’s this for a contradiction? I love to bake, but I also value healthy eating. Baked goods and healthy foods don’t always seem to go hand-in-hand. Usually, I bake according to the principle that everyone needs a little indulgence (and you can always run it off), and I’ll have just one serving of whatever it is I bake and then give the rest away. But I do like the challenge of taking baked goods and making them healthy… or at least healthier than they would otherwise be. This weekend, I challenged myself to come up with a healthy alternative chocolate zucchini muffin. I swapped out the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat and most of the sugar with agave nectar. Just with those two steps, I incorporated whole grains and lowered the glycemic index of what would have otherwise been delicious, but pretty unhealthy, muffins. They also have zucchini in them – obviously – so there’s a vegetable for ya. And I cut the fat by substituting organic applesauce for butter. You’d never know. So there you have it – a delicious muffin recipe that’s heavy on the chocolate, light on the guilt.
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
2 eggs (preferably organic)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup blue agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cup organic applesauce
1/4 cup skim milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (such as Green&Black’s Organic)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar, agave nectar, vanilla extract and milk, and stir to combine. Mix in the grated zucchini and the applesauce. Sprinkle the salt and baking powder over the top, and stir that in too.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and Chinese five-spice powder and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches. Stir until combined. The batter will be thick, but if it gets too difficult to stir, add a bit more milk to loosen it up.
- Prepare a muffin tin with liners, or spray it with a baking spray that contains flour (such as PAM for Baking). Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the muffin wells until you run out of batter.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of one muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Yield: 12 muffins
Source: Loosely adapted from Simply Recipes
This is a great weeknight summer dinner – sweet shrimp, slightly caramelized zucchini, and the mild bite of ancho chili powder served over tortillas. Using pre-cooked shrimp helps when you are pressed for time, but if you’d like to cook your shrimp from raw, by all means do. The heat from the chili powder and the cool of the light sour cream are a wonderful dichotomy on a summer evening.
Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas
4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
1 zucchini, cut into medium dice
1 pound shrimp, already cooked and chilled
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of ancho chili powder
light sour cream and scallions for garnish
- In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast tortillas until lightly golden; set aside.
- Add canola oil and zucchini to the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Saute zucchini until they are golden brown and crisp-tender.
- Roughly chop shrimp (or, if you prefer, leave them whole). Add them to the zucchini once the zucchini has finished cooking and saute just long enough to warm them through.
- Season with a good pinch of ancho chili powder (which is NOT balancing for pitta, but everyone needs to live a little!).
- Spoon shrimp and zucchini onto prepared tortillas. Top with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped scallions.
Source: Adapted from Everyday Food, May 2009
Wine pairing: This would go well with a young, grassy white wine such as New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Gruner Veltliner.