Warming up to Healthy Eating- Lentil Soup

picture-for-blog-post-01-01-17

Was last night the sixth holiday party we just attended? Yes, it surely was. Or perhaps it was the thirteen. I’ve lost count. While I relished every last friend, holiday/new year wish, hors d’oeuvre, cookie & cocktail with gusto, I am now carried away to a more sensible space. Here in Florida it’s a sometimes cold place we call January.

If you are like us and many others, who have spent the last month stuffed with stuffing and tipsy with holiday cheer, January brings with it a promising opportunity for replenishment, balance, and the only way to do that is by giving your body everything it needs to thrive. Lots of healthy foods and vegetables.

But to go right from cookies to carrots in 0 to 60 seconds seems crazy, we believe the body must be eased back into it’s normal patterns gently and reasonably. No fad diets, or pill will have you looking and feeling your best.

At Intelligent Gourmet, we know it’s not about losing weight – it’s about living your best life. That said, for many of us, part of becoming healthier, happier people involves undoing some of the less-great decisions of the last several weeks and, yes, losing weight. Unfortunately, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight (though one diet claims otherwise)

What matters is keeping your nutrition high, your calories controlled, and your exercise up!

Try working your way back into some better eating habits with a healthy soup packed with protein and vegetables. Here we share with you a recipe for a very versatile lentil soup that you can easily adapt to your families personal preferences and pantry inventory:

Ingredients

  • 1 # package of dried lentils (You can use any kind you like, red, green, brown and black beluga)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, (small diced)
  • 1 large carrots, (small diced)
  • 2 ribs of celery (small diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 12 oz package of winter squash cubes (available at most grocers)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • 4-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 hand full of your favorite greens chopped, (kale, spinach, mustard, or chard)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Start my heating some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over moderate heat, (you do not want the olive oil smoking) Add the chopped, carrot, celery and onion and allow these vegetable to sauté slowly about 8 – 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent add in your chopped garlic, salt and spices, stir and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add in your winter squash cubes of choice and toss to combine.
  3. Add 4 cups of your stock ( chicken or vegetable depending on if you are making this vegan or not), and bring to a boil.
  4. Add in your raw lentils ( Lentils do not need to be soaked like other beans but do rinse, Check the cooking time on the package, which can vary from one type to the next. Red lentils cook in as little as 15 minutes while the black ones can take as long as 45 minutes.)
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until lentils are just tender but not mushy, and your squash is soft. (Add additional stock if you want a thinner soup adjust to your liking)
  6. When the lentils are just tender, add the chopped greens. (They’ll only take a minute or two to wilt remove the pot from the burner as soon as the greens are wilted and bright green.)
  7. Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous amount of chopped parsley. Adjust salt if necessary.

CHEF NOTE:

Change up your meal in any one of these 4 ways.

  1. You can trade 1/2 the stock with coconut cream for a creamy flavor.
  2. Season with smoked paprika, a touch of liquid smoke, and a ham bone.
  3. Add in a 14 ounce can of diced tomato for another variation.
  4. Serve with a tablespoon of greek yogurt on top.

Re-Vamp Your Breakfast Recipes, try a Quinoa Bowl

Why try a quinoa bowl for breakfast? Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all 10 essential amino acids, and a high fiber content. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 grams of satiating fiber, having it for breakfast will help to arm your body with the tools it needs to get through the day and stay fuller longer. As an added bonus, quinoa is packed with health boosters like zinc, calcium, iron, riboflavin, heart healthy fats and antioxidants that have been found to reduce inflammation.quinoa bowl

Recipe: Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 15
Yield: 2 bowls

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup canned lite coconut mylk + more for drizzling
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + more for sprinkling
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of dried unsweetened dark cherries
1 tablespoon of toasted pecans
1 tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seeds

Preparation:
Combine quinoa, coconut milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes until quinoa can be fluffed with a fork.
Divide quinoa into two bowls then cover with dried fruits, pecans, + pumpkin seeds and a few extra drizzles of coconut milk.

Chef Notes:  You can use a shelf stable organic Coconut mylk available at Aldi’s Markets. Or you can make your own Almond mylk but that’s for another blog.  Option to add  sweetener of choice,  we find it sweet enough with the coconut milk and fruit.

#Kidfriendly #addtoppingsofyourchoice #mixandmatchfruitsnutsandseeds #yearroundmeal

Nutrition: 302 calories, 10.3 g fat (4.9 g saturated fat), 99 mg sodium, 34.6 g carbs, 5.3 g fiber, 7.9 g sugar, 8.2 g protein

Reduce Inflammation & Improve Your Digestion with Easy To Make Bone Broth


Remember how soothing chicken soup is whenever you have a cold? Well it turns out that broth, and especially bone broth (made from simmering bones and cartilage) really do have medicinal properties. I’m always on the lookout for foods that both nourish and heal your body, and while studying at the Institute of Integrative Health and Nutrition I was turned on to bone broth as a way of improving digestive symptoms such as bloating and pain.

Bone broth is experiencing a revolution right now, and for good reason. It can reduce joint pain and inflammation through chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, proline, arginine, and glycine which all have anti-inflammatory effects. It promotes strong, healthy bones through high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and additional nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation, and promotes healthy hair and nail growth thanks to the gelatin in the broth. It may even help you sleep better due to the calming effects of glycine. Wow. No wonder superstar Kobe Bryant is drinking it daily and it’s even gained a cult following in NYC!

Another important component of both broths are that they are rich in Humic + Fulvic minerals! What are those you ask and why should I want them?
Research is just beginning to show us the important role that fulvic minerals play and the information is amazing! These minerals like others support the body in a variety of ways including cellular health, brain health and digestion by helping the body absorb nutrients from food.
In a perfect world, our food would naturally contain high levels of minerals from the soil, but this is not usually the case with our modern food supply.

Ready to try this out? You can make bone broth at home (recipe below!) by simmering chicken, beef, or pretty much any type of bones in water for 6+ hours. At Intelligent Gourmet we use this recipe as a base in most of our stocks and it’s just plain delicious! No single theory of health is right for everyone, but we’ve seen bone broth work well for some people and not cause adverse symptoms for anyone, therefore we feel it’s safe to approve as a food that promotes digestive health.
Intelligent Gourmet’s Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients

4-5.5 lbs. of Beef or Chicken bones (including joints, knuckles, necks etc.)
2 gallons Cold Water or enough to cover your bones (Why cold water? On a chemical level, it actually promotes the extraction of protein, helping to up the nutrient quotient of the stock.)
1 large Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 stalks of Celery, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of Garlic, peeled
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp of Vinegar* (such as Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 bunch of fresh Parsley
Optional: Thyme + Rosemary (I like to add thyme, bay leaf, and whole peppercorns, with maybe a sprig or two of rosemary. If you’re adding herbs and veggies to the broth, be sure to add them toward the end of cooking, especially if you’re doing a marathon stock making session.)

*A Note on Vinegar: This is not an optional ingredient. Not only is it ideal to combine fats with acids like vinegar, when it comes to making broth the goal is to extract as many minerals as possible out of the bones into the broth water and vinegar really helps to leech all those valuable minerals out of the bones. Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Preparation

In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to-low and simmer for 6 to 24 hours (the longer you simmer it, the more intense the flavor). Add water as needed to keep ingredients submerged. Strain stock into a clean pot or heatproof plastic container and discard solid ingredients. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. Leave the solidified fat on the top while storing as the fat acts as a protective layer and delays the formation of bacteria. Immediately prior to use, bring the bone broth to a gentle boil. Makes about 12 cups.

You can use this broth as a base for soups like we do at Intelligent Gourmet, or you can drink it straight as a restorative concoction.

Interested in learning more about foods that promote healthy digestion? Here are a few I can recommend:

Bananas
While all fruits and vegetables are generally good for digestion, bananas in particular are great because they don’t irritate the stomach. That’s why they’re part of the “BRAT Diet” (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, dry Toast), which has been suggested for folks suffering from vomiting or diarrhea.

Water
Water (which most people do not drink enough of) is excellent for the digestive process as it helps move things through the intestines. Drink an extra glass of water in the morning and evening, or carry a refillable water bottle that you can sip from throughout the day.

Ginger, Turmeric, Peppermint
Spices and herbs like ginger, turmeric and peppermint are great for settling an upset stomach. Try drinking ginger or peppermint tea, or sucking on a peppermint lozenge.

Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi
Probiotic-containing foods like yogurt are good for the digestive system because they contain good bacteria that crowds out any bad bacteria that you may have in your gut. You want to look specifically for foods that contain live bacteria, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Asparagus, Oats, Onions, Lentils, Whole Grains
Prebiotic foods like asparagus contain a type of fiber that probiotics feed off of to multiply, so it’s good food for your good bacteria. Prebiotics are found in foods such as asparagus, onions, lentils and whole grains.

Soup

JUICING WITH KIDS

Here is a fun family activity for the weekend, JUICE with your children.
You love your juice we see you and know you do, some of you even have kids we have met who like juice. IG believes in the nutritional benefits so much so that we want to share this article with more of you. We hope to teach you all that you need to know about the best ways to get kids to drink juice and what are the safest juices for them nutritionally along with some kid friendly recipes.
We are not suggesting juicing should  be used as a replacement for meals or fresh fruit and vegetables  for kids, but this is  a great way to get some extra nutrients into them, especially from produce that they may otherwise refuse to eat.
Some kids don’t need much persuasion to drink fresh juices, and some would not drink juices no matter what you do.  Here are some of our tips for introducing kids to juicing:

3 Simple Creamy Vegan Winter Soups

Broccoli Soup With Cream

It’s officially the Winter Holidays! And while Tampa remains a stubborn balmy 70 degrees, we’re almost dipping into the 60s this week. If you’ve lived around here long enough, I’m sure you’ll agree: It’s hat and coat time! But not only do we crave our winter wardrobes when the weather turns chilly (read: Less than 75), we crave soothing hot comfort foods. Here are three of my favorite hot soup recipes made vegan, low-calorie, and extra delicious. Oh, and the best part: They’re all major cancer-fighters!

You’ll definitely need an immersion blender…

All recipes serve 3-4 (or 2 if they want seconds!)

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

  • 1 head of cauliflower and 1 head of broccoli, steamed
  • 1 Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Add 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4th tsp grated nutmeg
  • Vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Non-Vegan options: Garnish with plain Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Directions:

In a pot, saute 1 chopped onion until well browned in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Using an immersion blender, blend cauliflower, broccoli, and onion mixture together, adding vegetable broth until desired soup consistency is reached. Garnish with fresh parsley, or non-vegan alternatives.

Vegan Mushroom Soup

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • 1 Tb EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 lbs mushrooms
  • 1 Tb dry sherry (or white wine)
  • 1 russet potato or 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • To add depth of flavor, try adding a dash of balsamic vinegar!

Directions

Saute onion with olive oil in a pot until caramelized, add garlic. Deglaze with dry sherry and add mushrooms and potatoes. Add herbs and spices. Cook down until mushrooms are deeply browned (not burnt!) and potato pieces are soft. Immersion blend until soup has reached a desirable consistency. Since mushrooms produce a lot of moisture while cooking down, you may not need any additional vegetable stock, which is why it’s omitted. If extra moisture is required, use vegetable stock or white wine. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme (yep, just like the song says!).

vegan creamy tomato soup

Vegan Tomato Soup

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours beforehand
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 14.4 oz cans stewed tomatoes (or 4.5 cups)
  • 1/4 c coconut milk
  • Fresh basil, chopped with some more for garnish
  • Sugar, salt and pepper to taste (yes, sugar!)
  • Pepitas (optional garnish)

Directions

In a pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until they are soft. In a 2-cup measure (or deep pot – whatever you have handy), use your immersion blender to blend the cashews with 1/2 cup water until it’s creamy. Add into the onion/garlic pot with stewed tomatoes, basil, and coconut milk, and blend until creamy. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garlic bread, or garnish with pepitas.

5 Potluck-Perfect Healthy Holiday Party Recipes

Healthy party food

In the early days of Pinterest (what was that – all of 3 years ago?), when you searched for “Healthy holiday party recipes,” all you’d see is a Christmas tree made of broccoli and radishes. Healthy, but lacking in the vital ingredient of party food: Fun!

healthy holiday party food

 

How times have changed. Taking inspiration from some of my favorite Pinterest finds (Check out my new Intelligent Holiday Entertaining Pinterest Board), I’ve got you covered for all of your holiday entertaining needs – from Brunch to Lunch and Dinner Potlucks.

5 Potluck-Perfect Healthy Holiday Party Recipes

1. Artichoke-Dip Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust (Brunch)

Ingredients

  • Olive oil.
  • 3 Sweet potatoes, sliced into thin rounds (1/8th”) – May need more sweet potatoes or less depending on their size.
  • 5oz blanched spinach (or frozen spinach, thawed). Squeeze out excess moisture.
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (in water), chopped.
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced.
  • 1 Cup parmesan.
  • 1 Cup low-fat cottage cheese.
  • 4 eggs.

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate with olive oil and line it with a single layer of sliced sweet potatoes, placed so they overlap. Brush the tops with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce oven heat to 375.

Whisk together eggs, parmesan and cottage cheese. Stir in artichoke hearts, garlic and spinach. Pour into deep-dish pie plate. (There may be extra filling)

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is puffy and lightly browned.

2. Christmas Tree Cucumber Tea Sandwiches (Lunch)

Using your favorite bread – sqaw, rye, or pumpernickel work great! – cut into tree shapes with a cookie cutter. Blend light whipped cream cheese (or your favorite vegan substitute) with chopped dill, a pinch of salt and fresh-ground pepper, and spread lightly on the bread. Cut a cucumber in half lengthwise and slice thinly (1/8th”), and arrange on the bread like the boughs of a Christmas tree. Finish with a light squeeze of lemon.*

*This works well with pita bread triangles, avocado hummus, and diced red pepper too!

healthy holiday party recipes

3. Skinny Grapefruit Margarita (Drinks)

For one cocktail, combine: 1 shot of blanco tequila, 1/2 shot Triple Sec, 5oz grapefruit juice, and a twist of lime. Sweeten if necessary with agave syrup.

4. Omega-3 Bites! (Dinner Potluck)

You can call them smoked salmon-avocado bites, but I love these good-fat, brain-fueling appetizers. Lay out 1×3″ strips of smoked salmon and spoon mashed avocado and finely diced cucumber (sprinkled with a little salt and pepper – dill too if you like) into the middle. Fold salmon over the filling and spear with a toothpick. Top with a tiny wedge of thinly-sliced lemon.

5. No-Bake Pomegranate Chocolate Clusters (Dessert)

Ingredients – makes 20

  • 1 pomegranate worth of seeds, rinsed and thoroughly dried (not like a raisin – just not wet to the touch)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • Mini muffin pan & mini muffin liners

Put chocolate chips into a heavy-duty ziplock bag and heat in the microwave at 15-second intervals, kneading after each, until the chocolate is liquid. Snip off a corner of the bag, and drizzle a small amount of chocolate into a liner. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds onto melted chocolate, and drizzle more chocolate on top, topping with a pinch of shredded coconut. Repeat 19 more times, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Don’t feel like cooking this holiday season? Come by the store and check out our Holiday Menu!

The Trouble with Pumpkin

Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

This week alone I’ve seen pumpkin-flavored breakfast cereal, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin beer, pumpkin bread, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin Danish kringle, and pumpkin croissants for sale. And then there’s everyone’s favorite: Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I love pumpkin! This time of year, I want to put pumpkin into everything too and eat it 24-7. But here’s the problem with “pumpkin” products: Pumpkin – as in, the actual squash – might not even be in them. That Pumpkin Spice Latte? There is no pumpkin on the ingredients list. And the ingredients are not good. A Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte contains: 380 calories, 49 grams of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, Annatto E160B color, “caramel color” E150D, “natural and artificial flavors,” 240 mg of salt, potassium sorbate E202, milk, espresso, whipped cream, and – the spices you know and love with a dash of sulfites.

That’s almost as scary as little girls dressing as Snooki for Halloween, am I right ladies?

If you’re buying pre-packaged pumpkin products, be sure to read the nutrition labels and check to see just how far down the list real pumpkin actually is. But, for my money, I want the real thing, with all of pumpkin’s wonderful health benefits intact.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin – and Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. “Superfood” may be an overused term, but in this case, it absolutely applies. Just one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, and they’re packed with cancer-fighting, eyesight-helping carotenoids, contain lots of fiber, and are very low in calories.

Pumpkin seeds are no slouch either – well worth the work of washing off the orange goo and roasting them in the oven after carving. They’re rich in zinc, tryptophan, and phytosterols, which lower cholesterol, boost your immune system, and even improve your mood.

Even pumpkin pie spice – the blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice – is very good for you. Cinnamon lowers cholesterol, ginger aids digestion, and all together, these spices present a compact and delicious way to consume antioxidants.

Unfortunately, creating that delicious pumpkin pie flavor also requires a lot of sugar – but there are ways to get the Autumn flavor you love without sacrificing your health, teeth, and waistline.

5 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

1. Health-Boosting Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe: Care2.com posted this recipe that I just love – and it uses real pumpkin puree! She does recommend substituting coffee for roasted dandelion root, but the recipe will work either way.

2. Easy Pumpkin Oatmeal: Using your favorite oatmeal, include a tablespoon of pumpkin puree with pumpkin pie spice and agave syrup to the mix – and don’t forget to top it with walnuts! The good fats and fiber make this a real breakfast of champions.

3. Vegan Pumpkin Pie Pudding: GirlMakesFood blogger Alissa posted this recipe last year that uses maple syrup and almond milk with pumpkin, spice, and arrowroot (or corn starch) to create a healthy and vegan pumpkin dessert.

4. Coconut Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Take 4 cups pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 Tb coconut sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, and 1/4th tsp salt, and mix them together, coating the seeds. Spread the seeds on a single layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 7 minutes. Stir and sprinkle with more coconut sugar, then bake for another 7 minutes – repeating 2 more times (for 1/2 hour total baking time). ***Try this recipe with curry powder instead of cinnamon and ginger also!

5. Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto: Sure, you could blend the pumpkin puree in with the slow-cooked quinoa for this risotto, but I love bringing some Italian flair to the recipe by using fresh wedges of cooked pumpkin instead, like this recipe does from the Times of Malta. Garnish with crispy brown butter-fried sage leaves if you’re so inclined.

Your Holiday Table Is Missing Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts?!” I hear you ask. Yes, I can sense your surprise through my computer screen, and I completely understand your distrust of Brussels sprouts. You’ve been burned before – I get that. You have a bad history with these mini-cabbages because someone in your life cooked them the worst way possible: steamed. Yes, steaming your vegetables is healthy (much better than boiling), but this method of cooking does no favors for the cabbage family – at least taste-wise. Prepare to be amazed, because I will show you TWO ways to love Brussels sprouts so much, you won’t want to have Thanksgiving without them.

1. Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios, Cranberries & Parmesan

  1. Chop a brown onion finely and saute with olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize.*
  2. While the onions are browning, chop 10 Brussels sprouts in half, through the root, then slice into thin shreds.
  3. Add the sprout shreds to the pan with the caramelized onions and stir, cooking until they’re tender but still bright green.
  4. Add shelled pistachios, dried cranberries and Parmesan cheese – and serve hot!

*Carnivores might like to add one slice of bacon to flavor the onions, and to crumble over the top of the finished dish.

Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

2. Brussels Sprouts Hot Harvest Salad*

  1. Dice 1 apple, 1 butternut squash, 1/2 brown onion, and 5 Brussels sprouts.
  2. Toss the apple, squash, onion and sprouts with 1 Tb olive oil, and add torn sage leaves, a sprinkling of salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, stir, then roast for another 20-30 minutes until the sprouts, onions and squash are nicely browned.

*Add croutons or wild rice and thyme and this recipe makes a delicious turkey dressing!

Roasted vegetable salad recipe

3 Weeknight-Simple Fall Salads

Fall salad recipesThere is a rainbow of Autumn colors happening right now on Pinterest as all the food bloggers are creating fabulous Fall salad recipes. If you love Autumn flavors as much as I do – butternut squash! pumpkin! beets! carrots! sweet potatoes! – then it’s like being a kid in a candy store. These salad recipes, inspired by Pinterest, are so easy that you can whip them together any night this week for a quick appetizer, dinner or side dish. But what I love best about them is how they combine sweet, savory, and healthy.

Rainbow Carrot Amuse Bouche

If you see rainbow carrots at the store – get them! These deep purple, dark red and yellow carrots are the result of selective carrot-breeders trying to increase the amounts of nutrients found in the pigments. So not only do they look pretty, they’re even more packed with anti-oxidants.

For the best visual appeal, shave off thin slices of rainbow carrot for a raw salad, combine with slices of avocado or beets, and drizzle with a tangy ginger-lime salad dressing.

Ginger-Lime Dressing Recipe –

Combine: 3-4 Tb lime juice, 1 Tb agave nectar, 1 Tb fresh grated ginger root, 3 Tb extra virgin olive oil.

Sweet & Savory Roasted Side Salad

Chopped apples, chopped butternut squash, chopped sweet onion, and sliced brussel sprouts – with a drizzle of maple syrup or agave nectar and olive oil – are all you need for a delicious roasted salad. Toss the vegetables with the maple syrup and olive oil, then bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, tossing once or twice. Take out when nicely browned and serve hot! Perfect for a chilly Autumn night.

Hearty Dinner Spinach & Pear Salad

Spinach is one of the healthiest dark leafy greens you can eat, packed with iron and anti-oxidants. For a delicious and filling Fall salad, I like to combine spinach with ripe sliced pears, blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds – dressed with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette. The protein in the nuts and the fat in the cheese will help you feel full after having “just a salad” for dinner, but be careful not to overdo them. Spinach should be the main ingredient.

Want to see what other recipes I’m pinning? Follow Intelligent Gourmet in Pinterest for daily inspiration

Pumpkin Power!

healthy vegan pumpkin soupPumpkin season is so packed with super-food goodness, I don’t know why we don’t eat pumpkins year-round. Did you know that just one cup of pumpkin contains half your daily recommended dose of fiber? It’s got antioxidants that prevent everything from wrinkles to cancer, contains more potassium than a banana, and is a great source of vitamin A and iron.

Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly good for you as a source of unsaturated fats and oils, zinc, and the amino acid tryptophan, which helps your body produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. In short, pumpkins make you look better AND feel better – but don’t help yourself to seconds on pie yet.

Whole V. Canned Pumpkin?

The argument against canned pumpkin is that the pumpkin goes through an intense heating process to pasteurize it for safe storage. Any cooking will, of course, destroy some of the nutrients, but considering that raw pumpkin just doesn’t taste the same (and I challenge anyone to make it into a pie-like substance), I’m going to say that it’s okay to cook this one. The canned version is usually sold with no preservatives or additives – so just be sure to look for “100% Pumpkin” on the label and check the ingredients list.

Canned pumpkin is also more concentrated, which means that one cup of canned pumpkin will actually have a higher density of nutrients than 1 cup of fresh cooked pumpkin.

Quick and Easy Vegan Pumpkin Soup

I love making a hearty Fall soup out of pumpkin using chopped onion, vegetable broth, ginger, nutmeg, salt and pepper – and, of course, a garnish of pumpkin seeds and crispy-fried sage leaves!

  1. Saute the onions in the pot first until they caramelize, then add the ginger and nutmeg, stirring until fragrant.
  2. Add 1 can of pumpkin (or the cooked meat of 1 small cooking pumpkin) and mash it together with the onion mixture.
  3. Pour in enough broth to get the creamy consistency you like best. Add salt an pepper to taste and cook for a few more minutes to let the flavors combine.
  4. While the soup is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet and fry a handful of sage leaves until crispy, sprinkled with a little salt.
  5. Serve the soup garnished with the crispy sage leaves and pumpkin seeds.