minestrone soup with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, soy free)

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With fall officially peeking around the corner and an early chill in the air – at least around here – I’m starting to crave  warm, comforting foods. Especially big pots of them for plenty of leftovers which matches with our busier back-to-school schedule. Like this minestrone soup.

I first came across this minestrone soup recipe in this cook book while I was trying to find more veggie-based recipes but before I went all in with a plant-based diet. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

One of the things I love about it is the subtle addition of zucchini. This is key when your garden produces monster-sized ones because you forgot to pick it (ahem). And when you are more of a zucchini liker than zucchini lovers. And in case you didn’t catch it, here’s a zucchini recipe I shared last week. The other thing I love is the use of rosemary – an herb I thought was a strange addition at first, but it definitely makes this soup sing.

 

I’ll warn you that although this minestrone soup is more labor intensive than many of my other soup recipes (like this one and this one), it’s completely worth it because of the quantity it makes and how well it freezes. If you have children who are able to handle a knife, have them help you with the chopping. Even a young child could help break the frozen green beans or help with the lettuce spinner for the spinach.

The original recipe called for using parmesan cheese. Since this wouldn’t fly for a vegan recipe, I whipped up some sesame seed parmesan which can be sprinkled on or stirred in (which also happens to boost the calcium and protein as well!). For those of you watching your fat intake (especially due to heart disease), you’ll be happy to know the soup is made without any oil and you can skip adding the parmesan altogether.

 

 

 

This soup tastes even better the second day because the flavors are able to develop. If it works, plan ahead and make it the day before you actually plan to eat it!

 

Print
Minestrone Soup with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 30 mins
 

This soup is chock full of vegetables and herbs and tastes even better the second day after it's been made. The sesame seed parm is a nod to the traditional recipe and boosts the calcium and plant-protein and is just plain fun to sprinkle on.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the soup
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (or 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 2 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup green beans in 1" lengths
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 2 cups beans (white or kidney)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp crumbled rosemary
  • freshly ground pepper
For the sesame parm
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
For the soup:
  1. Add the onion and garlic along with 1" water to a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining soup ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-minutes to 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings as needed.

For the sesame parm:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the sesame seeds are crumbly and look like parmesan cheese. Can be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes:

I prefer this soup with the vegetables (especially the tomatoes and zucchini) finely chopped - or in the case of the zucchini, shredded. This especially helps when serving it to children who tend to be suspicious of large chunks of vegetables - or adults who feel the same way. 😉

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

 

chocolate zucchini muffins (vegan, no added sugar, dairy free, soy free)

 

I know I’ve hit on a real winner of a recipe when my husband asks for me to make it again. He’s my gold standard. Not that my other recipes aren’t equally tasty, but rather, they might not be equally tasty to people who still love to eat meat, dairy and sugar. Like my husband.

So I’m going to guess that these chocolate zucchini muffins will be safe to label as crowd-pleasers …for vegans and non-vegans, sugar addicts and sugar abstainers alike.

I honestly wasn’t sure how these would turn out and it’s been awhile since I’ve attempted baked goods because most of my past efforts weren’t good enough to try baking again. You see, when you remove the dairy and the eggs and the added sugar, the science of baking a simple muffin suddenly becomes more complicated.

That challenge makes this victory all the no-added-sugar sweeter. If you’re curious why I work to eliminate added sugar in my diet and what the heck do I mean by added sugar anyway, click here to receive a free video which explains all that.

I love these chocolate zucchini muffins because…

  • they are chocolate (hello!)
  • are sweetened only with fruit
  • contain a ‘veggie which my children normally don’t like
  • have an added plant-protein boost from the almond butter and ground flax seed
  • and just look at these delightful air bubbles when you split them open (which reminds me of the Aero bars I used to eat as a child – it’s a Canadian thing)

 

When I’ve made these, I used fresh shredded zucchini. If you’re using frozen, make sure you stir it in while it’s still frozen and get them into the oven ASAP. That way, the water naturally occurring in the zucchini won’t create a soggy mess for you.

Confession: I did add a few dairy-free chocolate chips to some of the batter which helps “bridge the gap” between traditional added sugar muffins and fruit-sweetened ones. However, I don’t think my family was any wiser when they ate the chip-free muffins, so I might leave them out altogether next time.

 

Print
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These chocolate zucchini muffins are sweetened entirely with fruit which makes them perfect for breakfast, but they are sweet enough for snacking or as a dessert too!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Servings: 12
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 scoops 100% pure stevia*
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 small ripe/slightly underripe banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup date paste*
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease your muffin tin well (coconut oil is recommended). Mix up your flax egg and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix to thoroughly combine.

  3. In a food processor or high speed blender, add all wet ingredients EXCEPT the zucchini and apple cider vinegar. Blend until well-combined and very smooth then add to the dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.

  4. Gently stir in the zucchini and then add the apple cider vinegar and gently mix again. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


  5. When finished baking, leave in the muffin tins for 10-15 minutes and then loosen with a knife and remove from the tin and place on a cooling rack. Store muffins in a covered container for 1-2 days refrigerated or 3-4 days refrigerated.

Recipe Notes

*Recipe Notes

  • Be sure to use 100% pure stevia
  • If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.
  • I recommend using spelt flour and unsweetened almond coconut milk as it's why I used and results may vary with other flours or dairy-free milks although feel free to experiment
  • Unless you don't mind a slight banana flavor to these muffins, I recommend using a small perfectly ripe or just under-ripe banana.

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I got my organic spelt flour (GMO free!) from the bulk section at Whole Foods, or you can find it here.
  • Target and many other grocery stores carry the unsweetened almond coconut milk, but you also can get it here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • I get my chocolate chips at Trader Joe’s, but here is another kind of dairy-free chocolate chip if you aren’t near a Trader Joe’s

 

O Canada cherry berry creamsicles (vegan, sugar free)

Every year I tell myself I will plan ahead and get my holiday-related posts up before the actual day.
Ahem!

But inevitably, I leave inspiration to strike at the last minute. 

(For those of you who don’t know me, I live in the US and am now a citizen but I was born in Canada.)

I came across this idea on Pinterest, and had to try it while dreaming up my own recipe.

I was so excited how these Cherry Berry Creamsicles turned out! They were easy to make and are packed with whole fruit and are dairy and sugar free.

If you want a quick video tip that comes with making these, leave a comment with your email address.

There’s also lots of fun and inspiration happening daily on my Facebook page…www.facebook.com/wildberrycoach. I would love to have you join me there for conversation!

CHERRY BERRY CREAMSICLES

1.5 cups frozen cherries

1.5 cups frozen strawberries

1 T white grape juice (optional)

3 bananas, sliced into rounds and frozen

1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk.

1 tsp. vanilla

1. Bring cherries and one cup of strawberries to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add white grape juice if using. Add to a food processor with the remaining strawberries and blend until smooth. Let cool then add a large spoonful to the bottom of each Popsicle mold. Freeze.

2. Rinse food processor bowl and add frozen bananas, coconut milk and vanilla. Blend until smooth.

3. Take Popsicle mold out of freezer and add 2-3 spoonfuls of banana-coconut mixture. Pop back in freezer for 20-30 minutes.

4. Add remaining cherry strawberry mixture to top off the Popsicle molds and insert stick.

5. Freeze until frozen solid.

6. To release Popsicle from mold, run under warm water. 

brown bag mondays: saving greens

brownbagmondayI’ve lost track of the dollars I’ve wasted in throwing out fresh greens that ended up spoiling before I used them up. Frustrating especially when I need them for a recipe.

So to save some green and some greens, here is today’s tip:

storing greensHere’s how:

Asparagus: store upright in a jar that has a little water in the bottom. Change the water every few days when it starts to get cloudy.

Cilantro, Parsley: Can also be stored upright in a jar that has a little water in the bottom. Change the water every few days when it starts to get cloudy. You also can pesto the herbs with a little water or oil and freeze them to use in recipes.

Basil: Fresh basil turns black after only a short time of being exposed to air. Best way to make it last is to pesto what you can’t use. I like to freeze mine in 1 T quantities so they are recipe ready.

Lettuce/kale: Buying the whole bunch instead of the pre-bagged and washed kind is a great place to start. I also found that removing any elastic bands or ties from around the leaves keeps them from getting slimy. Mine usually keep for a week like this in the plastic bag I place them in from the grocery store.

 

 

quinoa tabouli (vegan, gluten free, low carb, sugar free)

quinoa tabouliI love trying foods from other cultures which have a solid amount of veggies in their diets.

Ever since I tried tabouli, a middle eastern salad that usually features bulgar, I was a fan. However, my enthusiasm for it waivered ever since I began cutting back on wheat products several years go. I also swapped out the oil for hummus for an interesting twist on the dressing.

Thankfully, I discovered that quinoa is a perfect substitute and packs a superfood, plant protein punch into this refreshing salad. The key to great quinoa is thoroughly rinsing off the bitter saponin and using a ratio of water to quinoa that is just shy of 2:1.

If you give this a try, I would love your feedback.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the quinoa tabouli recipe

quinoa tabouli

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

    For the Ingredients

    • 4 T hummus
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • ½ tsp salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper

    For the Salad

    • ¾ c. uncooked white quinoa
    • 1 cucumber, diced
    • 1 pack cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • ½ onion, finely diced
    • 1/4 -1.2 cup fresh parsley, minced
    • optional: pine nuts

    Instructions

    For the Dressing:

    Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup, jar or bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Add water if necessary to thin. Pour over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    For the Salad:

    Thoroughly rinse quinoa. Best way is to cover with water in a bowl or pot, agitate with you hands, pour into a sieve and repeat 2-3 times with fresh water.

    Add quinoa to a pot with 1.5 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

    Cool and fluff with a fork. When cool add cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and pine nuts, if using.

    Pour dressing over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    This salad is best eaten fresh, but will keep in the fridge for one day if properly stored.

    Powered by Recipage

     

    brown bag monday: morning motivation

    brownbagmonday

    Although I’m usually a morning person, there are some days when it’s hard to get out of bed at the crack of dawn. Or before it, during the winter months. The promise of a few extra winks of sleep or warm blankets on chilly mornings are awfully tempting to ignore. But for morning people, this often is our most productive time of day so lingering in bed can throw off our entire day.

    If this also is a struggle for you, here’s the tip to take with you this week:

    morning motivation

    When I add things into my morning that I love and look forward to, it’s much more likely that I’ll get up and moving instead of hitting the snooze button endless times. For example, I love starting my day in prayer and in studying the Bible as these anchor me for the day. When I need extra motivation, I’ll brew a warm mug of black or lemon-ginger cleansing tea and diffuse a favorite essential oil. These activities wake me up enough that I’m ready to tackle my workout and my work.

    There are endless possibilities of things to get you going…the satisfaction of crossing chores off your list first thing, the color of a favorite mug, the texture of a blanket, a favorite spot to curl up, a friend to meet or talk with, a place to go, music to listen to.

    And while these activities, routines or favorite things might change over time or with the seasons or when they no longer hold wonder, the important thing is to find that certain something that puts a sparkle in your eye as your feet hit the floor in the morning.

    Are you a morning person? What are some favorite things you love to do that could be incorporated into your morning routine?

    Need a little help brainstorming…send me a message for a free mini coaching session on this.

    anatomy of a power packed, gluten free breakfast

    gf breakfastAs May winds down, so does my anti-candida diet. Since May is Celiac Awareness Month and the anti-candida diet also is gluten free, I’m sharing the breakfast that has largely been a part of my mornings this past month.

    Have you ever had quinoa for breakfast instead of oatmeal?

    Love this protein-packed grain and often swapped it in over my usual gf standby of buckwheat and millet.

    I try to be mindful in eating a variety of foods that pack in the nutrients, so here’s the breakdown of what is included in this breakfast:

    • Quinoa: is one of the few plants that is a complete protein and also has iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, Vitamin E and fiber
    • Chia seeds: contain fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients
    • Unsweetened shredded coconut: contains protein, fiber, iron, zinc
    • Ground flax seeds: gives you micronutrients, fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, Omega-3
    • Cinnamon: has multiple health benefits and contains antioxidants and is antimicrobial
    • Coconut oil: has beneficial medium-chain fatty acids
    • Blueberries:contains antioxidants, vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, fiber and copper.
    • Unsweetened almond milk: is rich in phosphorus, potassium and zinc

    What your favorite gluten free breakfast? Favorite hot or cold cereal mix ins?

    brown bag monday: food focus tip

    brownbagmonday

    As I’ve made a major switch in my diet four years ago by choosing to eat a plant-based diet and then tweaking that to reduce my sugar intake a couple years later, I’ve come to appreciate just how closely food is tied to our emotions, memories and sense of community.

    Suddenly, many of our go-to foods are off the list and we may need to learn new cooking techniques or try new foods that are foreign to us. Depending on the dietary change, it can be a small or steep learning curve. And if you’re making these changes for health reasons, like discovering a gluten-intolerance  or cancer or heart disease or diabetes, you also may be dealing with emotions and frustrations related to the diagnosis.

    So here’s the tip that you can take with you for this brown bag monday:

    focus brownbagmonday

    Whenever we focus on what we can’t eat…a list that may be quite extensive…it’s easy to become frustrated and even depressed. Focusing on what you can eat frees you up to be creative, to appreciate the variety that is available to you and helps keep your outlook positive.

    I learned the value of this tip two years ago when I did the anticandida diet for the first time, especially during the strictest part. By switching my mindset, I was better able to come up with a solid meal plan that didn’t make me feel deprived.

    If you’ve had to make a change to your diet, what was the hardest part? If you know you need to make a change and haven’t what is one thing that is holding you back?

    new series: brown bag mondays…tips you can take with you

    brownbagmonday

    New series: Brown Bag Mondays:  I see Mondays as a fresh start, another opportunity to face the week head on and move forward living life. But as the week wears on, I recognize our ideals don’t always play out the way we think. My heart for this series to provide you with something you can use or chew on as you go about your hours and days in the week ahead.

     

    This is how my family calendar has looked for the first half of this month.

    may calendarNot that we had nothing to do…quite the opposite. But I hesitated to write down all the things that were filling it up, because, well,  I rather liked the look of those blank spaces. It is my soul craving some unstructured time amidst all the structure that keeps us on track.

    I find it easy enough to plan for things that are consistent in our days…time with the Lord, school, work, church, chores, weekly or monthly gatherings with friends. But sometimes I fail to plan for the unexpected like school events and appointments and suddenly our unstructured time is nibbled at bit by bit.

    As summer vacation draws near, I want to be mindful of our time…to balance the structured with the unstructured. To allow breathing room for the unexpected to be easily accommodated into the structure of our days.

    So here is this week’s “brown bag monday” question:

    time may calendar

    I think when we feel overwhelmed, it’s because we’re not leaving enough time in our schedule to handle the things we can’t plan for…the extra load of laundry required from an ill child, the repairman we need schedule for a leaky faucet, the errands we need to run because we forgot something on our list, the moments our children ask us to sit and read, or color or play a game, the friend who would love to get together, the unexpected blessing of sun in string of rainy days.

    Care to explore this topic a little more? I would love to do a coaching session with you on this. Click on over to my contact page so we can set something up.

    tutorial: soaking gluten-free grains

    May is Celiac Awarness Month and today I’m sharing a video on one my favorite gluten-free breakfasts for on-the-road or when I’m following the anti-candida diet.

    As an encouragement to anyone who is making a significant change in their diet, this mix took me several weeks to enjoy the first time I did the anti-candida diet. Sometimes it takes our taste buds a little while to catch up with what we know is right for our bodies, so give it some time to adjust to new flavors or textures before you decide a certain food is just not for you.

    What are you favorite gluten-free breakfast options to take on the road?