Cherry Coconut Milk Smoothie

Cherry Smoothie

Breakfast is an important meal of the day as it provides the necessary nutrients and fuel to get us going in the morning. I have never been a big breakfast person though, so instead I often have a power-packed smoothie with fruit, almond milk, sometimes a bit of protein powder and various other delights.

This smoothie might just be one of the tastiest yet. Cherries are coming into season here and that means they are bursting with flavor and affordable too. Of course, pitting cherries is not my favorite activity, but it's well worth the effort when you have a bowl of glistening red cherries to use however you please. They star here in a creamy beverage with coconut milk, some almond milk, frozen banana and a dash of vanilla. Apart from a blender, that is all you need.

Cherry Coconut Milk SmoothieCherry Coconut Milk Smoothie
Recipe by
Published on July 13, 2016

Cold, creamy, delicious and refreshing cherry and banana smoothie made with coconut milk

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Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup almond or hemp milk, or more as needed
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced (2/3 cup frozen slices)
  • 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Add a bit more almond or hemp milk if the mixture is too thick.

  • Tip: To freeze bananas for smoothies, peel the banana and cut into slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-friendly container or freezer bag. The bananas will freeze well for up to 4 to 6 months.

Makes 2 servings

Fresh Cherry Smoothie

More smoothie recipes to enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Beet and Strawberry Vanilla Smoothie
Avocado Blackberry Smoothie
Raspberry-Banana Oat and Chia Seed Smoothie
Pomegranate & Blueberry Oat Smoothie

Audio Accompaniment: Sam Maher – New York Handpan 01

On the top of the reading stack: The Camp of the Saints

Summery Tomato Soup with Pasta and Chickpeas

Summer Tomato Soup with Pasta and Chickpeas

I've called this recipe summery not only because it is easy to make and satisfying without being too filling — if you resist the temptation to go for a second bowl — but because it has a fresh colorful vibrancy in taste and appearance that comes from cooking with fresh herbs from my garden and fresh local summer produce. While salads are often preferred during the hot months, I enjoy soups all year round. This also happens to be a new favorite vegetable soup and I'm certain this will be a staple on the menu, no matter the time of year.

The texture of this soup is phenomenal. Each bite is a different taste experience. Tangy tomatoes make for a lightly spiced and herby broth, and the buttery soft chickpeas, along with some quinoa pasta, fresh garden peas that pop in your mouth, and some diced carrot make up the rest of the bowl along with the fresh herbs. My only regret is that I did not double the recipe as it makes for a nice lunch or starter or side for dinner. Serve it up with some crusty bread if you like, but I enjoyed the soup just as is — it's that good.

summery vegetable soup

Summery Tomato Soup with Pasta and ChickpeasSummery Tomato Soup with Pasta and Chickpeas
Recipe by
Published on July 11, 2016

Simple, light, colorful and vibrant summer tomato soup with fresh herbs and vegetables, chickpeas and pasta

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fusilli or spiral pasta (I used quinoa fusilli)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 green chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder (optional)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup (1/2 14 oz can) cooked chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook until tender according to the package instructions — about 10 minutes depending on the type of pasta used. Stir often. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and rinse the pasta in cold water. Set aside.

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium or large saucepan. When hot, add the onion to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the carrot and sauté for another few minutes. Now add the garlic and chilies, and continue to sauté for another minute.

  • Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and amchoor powder if using, stir for another minute, and then add the tomato. Simmer for a few minutes and then add the herbs and 1 1/4 cups of the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Simmer for another few minutes and then add the peas. Simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes, and then add the chickpeas and pasta. Simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, adding more water if necessary to achieve desired consistency.

  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread or just as is. It's wonderful served at room temperature or slightly warmed. I sprinkled the bowl with some nutritional yeast, but feel free to sprinkle some fresh grated Parmesan overtop if you enjoy cheese.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

tomato soup with chickpeas and quinoa pasta

This is my contribution to Jaqueline's Meat Free Mondays. This is also my contribution to No Croutons Required, a monthly event, alternately hosted by Jacqueline and myself, featuring vegetarian soups and salads. I am hosting for July.

Other vegetables soups to enjoy this summer:
Curried Indian Vegetable Soup
Creamy Thai Coconut Mushroom Soup
Indian Sour Mung Bean Soup
Pear Soup with Raspberry Sorbet

Tamarind Broth with Puréed Toor Dal and Spices

Tamarind Broth with Toor Dal

A heat wave has once again enveloped Ontario, and that means lighter meals are in order. I've been serving a lot of salads lately, and wanted something fairly light, but different. A craving for Indian creations got me searching for some new ideas.

The first book I flipped through was Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries, and all of the other books simply sat on the shelf as I knew what I was going to make pretty much right away. Certainly one of the most cherished cookbooks on my shelf and one that I always recommend to friends and family wanting to know more about Indian cooking. Mr. Iyer provides a treasure trove of recipes that always work out perfectly and are easy to adapt to the cook's preferences. Each time I flip through the book, I find more and more ideas to try. The book is not vegetarian, but with 660 recipes, vegetarians will never run out of ideas.

This time I went with an easy sweet and hot tamarind broth cooked with earthy toor dal and spices. This broth makes its presence known with the complexity it imparts to the palate. Thinner than the English version of mulligatawny soups so often found in Indian restaurants in this part of the world — thickened with the addition of vegetables and sometimes meat — this is a classic “pepper and water” soup much closer to traditional south Indian creations that consist mainly of just water, pepper and spices. I added a tomato to the broth for extra tanginess and depth, a small shallot for a bit of sweetness and texture, and hot chilies for some added heat. It's a soothing and comforting soup that, served over fresh cooked white rice or Indian flat breads, makes for one trouble-free summer meal.

Note: Tamarind has a unique taste profile, as it is tart, sweet and sour with robust flavor. You don't need much for the tamarind flavor to come through. If you can't find or don't have tamarind, you can use lime juice sweetened with a bit of coconut sugar. The dish will not be quite as rich in flavor, but good nonetheless.

Tamarind Broth with Puréed Toor Dal and SpicesTamarind Broth with Puréed Toor Dal and Spices
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on July 7, 2016

Simple, hot, sour and comforting mulligatawny-style soup with earthy toor dal, tomato and spices

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dried split toor dal (pigeon peas)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 red or green chilies, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • plenty of fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  • Thoroughly rinse the toor dal and transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the dal is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Purée the cooked dal in a blender or use an immersion blender. Set aside until ready to use.

  • Meanwhile, soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of hot water for 40 minutes. Drain the pulp over a bowl using a strainer. Push through as much pulp as you can, discarding any seeds and coarse pulp.

  • Pour 3 cups of water into a large saucepan and stir in the tamarind water, cilantro, tomato, sambar powder, shallot, chillies, asafetida, turmeric, salt and curry leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

  • Heat the ghee or oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds, and cook until they turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Add to the broth, stir, and then stir in the cooked toor dal and black pepper.

  • Serve hot with fresh cooked whie rice or Indian flat breads with papadums on the side.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

This is my contribution to My Legume Love Affair, a monthly event featuring the mighty legume. Started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and now administered by me, and kindly hosted this month by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds.

Tamarind Broth with Pureed Dal and Spices

Other dishes featuring tamarind you are sure to enjoy:
Tamarind Potatoes with Spices (Imli Aloo)
Indian-Style Potato and Pea Salad with Tamarind and Chat Masala
Chickpeas in a Creamy Coconut Tamarind Gravy
Tamarind and Coconut Pulao Rice

4 Ingredient Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups

peanut butter cups

Before I moved away from processed sugar and store-bought treats, Reese's peanut butter cups used to be a weakness of mine. Now that I have learned more about making healthy treats in my own kitchen, especially healthy raw delights, I can still enjoy the taste of peanut butter and chocolate without the guilt.

No food processor is required to make these raw delights, and best of all, there are only four ingredients, unless you want to count a little dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of sea salt as ingredients. These wonderful and not-too-sweet chocolate and peanut butter treats keep well in the freezer for a good few days. They are actually rather filling, making them a perfect protein-packed light breakfast on the run or as a snack whenever the craving hits. I have a weakness for peanut butter, but if you wish, you can use almond or cashew butter instead. Using a fine dark chocolate is key for the recipe. Inferior chocolate just won't do.

4 Ingredient Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups4 Ingredient Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups
Recipe by
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
Published on July 4, 2016

Raw healthy chocolate and peanut butter “cups” with only four ingredients

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups natural crunchy or smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut flour, as needed
  • 7 oz (200 g) dark chocolate (I used 72% dark), broken into pieces
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the coconut flour until well blended. Add additional coconut flour if the peanut mixture is too soft — it should be pliable and easy to form into shapes with your hands.

  • Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Form into balls and flatten each ball slightly with your fingers. Place in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes until firm.

  • Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until melted. Let cool for a few minutes and then dip each of the frozen peanut butter pieces into the chocolate to coat completely. Using a fork is a good way to do this and be sure to work quickly.

  • Transfer each peanut butter cup back to the baking sheet and return to the freezer. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt if desired. Chill until set, about 1 hour or more. These will keep well in the freezer for several days, if they last that long.

  • Note: You can make a half batch instead, but these are so good, you won't want to do that, especially as they keep so well.

Makes about 1 dozen 2-inch peanut butter cups

4 ingredient peanut butter cups

Other raw peanut butter treats to enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Raw Peanut Butter Fudge
Raw Peanut Butter Cocoa Maple Squares
Raw Peanut Butter Truffles
Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Nut Squares

On the top of the reading stack: Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat

No Croutons Required – July / August Edition submission requests

no croutons required

It's my turn to host No Croutons Required this month. Alternately hosted by my good friend Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen, this monthly event features vegetarian and vegan soups and salads.

It's been a hot summer so far, so I except we will be seeing plenty of salads on the table. All the same, soup is pleasant all year round, especially on cooler days.

To participate, simply post a soup or salad on your blog. The few rules are only one submission per blogger and it must be vegetarian. Please link back to this announcement, Lisa's Kitchen and also Jacqueline's blog. Recipes from the archives will only be accepted if reposted and updated with the requisite links.

Then, add your recipe using the linky tool at the end of this post. As usual, we are very much looking forward to all of the inspired creations this time around.

Update: We have extended the date for submissions. Consider this the summer edition. With many folks enjoying the weather and taking vacations, submissions haven't been coming in. So, now you have until the 28th of August to submit a prized vegetarian soup or salad. Looking forward to a healthy roundup of recipes from your tables.