Perfect Lentil Soup

IMG_9475Ah, January. Normally I’d be talking about how gray and sad the weather’s been here in Seattle, but fortunately I’d be lying to you if I said that now. It’s been gorgeous here this winter. Maybe a tish warm, but sunny and not gray, so I think we’re all counting ourselves lucky. That said, it’s still prime soup season, and lentil soup is my go-to, MVP, championship soup. I make a big batch at least every 10 days or so and take it for lunch. It’s warm, filling, easy, keeps well, and is great for cleaning out the veggie drawer and just using whatever you have. It’s pictured above with my buckwheat-oat biscuits, a fine combo if you’re so inclined.

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What you need:

1 small white onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 inches of fresh ginger, chopped

1 russet potatoe, sweet potato, or whatever other potato you’ve got, chopped

Olive oil – roughly 3 Tbsp

1 can (the large one) of diced tomatoes (use fire-roasted tomatoes if you want a little extra zing- I highly recommend you try this)

1 cup of de Puy lentils, rinsed

6 cups of water

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

two zucchini, chopped

1 handful of green beans, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

*Seriously, friends. Use whatever veggies you have on hand. Cauliflower, broccoli, sunchokes, whatever! It will be delicious.  Trust me.IMG_9450Start by sauteeing onion, garlic, carrot, ginger, and potato in olive oil until onions are golden brown and carrots and potato are soft.

Next, add your can of tomatoes and bring to boil. Then add water, bring it to boil, then add lentils. Let boil for about 1 minute, and then bring it back to a low boil/simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

Once the lentil are cooked, add veggies and cooke for another 5-10 minutes. Add thyme, salt, and pepper, let simmer another 5 minutes or so and then serve. Unlike Flava-Flav, the flavors will only get better over time. IMG_9477Eat up and enjoy! 🙂

Magical Cranberry Nut Bars with Chocolate Chips and Coconut

IMG_9444Merry new year to you, my friends! I’ve had a long hiatus from blogging, and I’ve missed you. It’s been a challenging year in some ways. I’ve not had much in the way of work-life balance, but I’m getting there slowly but surely. This time of year is always such a good time for reflection and re-evaluating what’s working and what’s not. Some people like to set resolutions and that’s not so much my thing. Resolutions in my mind are all about the “I’ll try to do (blank) this year.” Frankly, I don’t want to try. I simply want to do. So, 2015 is to be the year of the doing of the things. 🙂

This time of year is also an excellent time for baking and eating. So, while you reflect and resolve to do the things, let’s eat Magical Cranberry Nut Bars, shall we?

Yes, excellent.IMG_9439What you need:

1 bag of fresh cranberries

1 cup of gluten-free oats

1 cup of cashews, raw

1/2 cup of almonds, raw

1/2 cup of maple syrup

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

2 Tbsp shredded coconut (fine or course shreds, whatever speaks to you)IMG_9430Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin by using your food processor (or Vita-mix) to grind the nuts, oats, and maple syrup into a thick paste.

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, cranberries, chocolate chips, and coconut shreds and mix.

Spoon your the base layer (the nut and oat paste) into either little bite-sized muffin tins or line a loaf pan with parchment and pour it in there, evening out the base layer as you pour. I made enough to make both a few little muffins and a loaf, and I highly recommend that, because you will be very sad when you finish off the little muffin tin bites or the loaf, and oh-so-happy when you discover you still have another loaf or muffin pan full of them to eat!IMG_9434Spoon on the cranberry, chocolate, coconut mixture on top of the base layer and start the baking! The muffin sized treats cook in about 20-30 minutes, so watch them closely. The loaf took about 45min to an hour to cook for me, but it all depends on how thick you layer the base.IMG_9445It’s finished when a fork comes out clean. Once that happens, let it cool, then begin the eating! These freeze very well, so if you’re deciding to not eat so many baked goods this year, put the majority of the bars or muffin bites in the freezer and take one for a treat at work each day. Then you will have done two things – 1) made delicious baked goods; and 2) avoided eating all the baked goods at once. It’s really a win-win. 🙂

Again, happy new year to you all! I hope this year is full of tastiness, laughter, love, and magic!

IMG_7121This is how winter looks in my neck of the woods. Lucky, lucky me.