Sunday, January 27, 2013

Best Ever French Onion Soup

Last week at work, we had leftover soup day. Julia brought in her tasty broccoli soup and I brought in my tomato soup (from the last post) to share for lunch. I am typically not a soup person, although I do have my favorites, but I have been dreaming of a good cup of French onion soup (one that won’t totally clog my arteries and damage my kidneys lol) since soup day. Yes, it is salty, but baby Amelie (in my belly) has just been screaming for salty treats! And I just can’t deny her (or him?).
In fact, I made Chris walk up the mini mart at the corner (only half a block away) from the house (yup, in the snow) for SALT AND VINEGAR CHIPS!!! That’s what baby wanted!! Unfortunately, the store was closed (it was only 9:30pm!) and I could not talk the man into heading to the grocery store.  I am still thinking about these chips, but trying to refrain from the junkie cravings. Being a pregnant dietitian is tough! Instead I will settle for some HOMEMADE FRENCH ONION SOUP!! and drink lots of water ( I promise).

 Best Ever French Onion Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. kosher salt (please please cut down on this if needed, I am a pregnant gal with salty needs so don't mind me)
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 quarts beef stock, divided
1 quart low sodium chicken stock
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
½ cup brandy or sherry, optional but I highly recommend it!
6 slices whole grain bread, such As Trader Joes Quinoa bread
1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
 Place 8 oven-safe bowls onto baking sheets and ladle soup into bowls (or as many as you are serving). Top each with about ¼ cup bread cubes and about 2 tablespoons cheese. Place under broiler for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately!!
Heat olive oil large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 12 minutes until tender. Add garlic, honey, salt, black pepper, and thyme.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 35 minutes, stirring frequently.Onions will be deeply caramelized!
Add stock, reserving ¼ cup; simmer for about 10 minutes, until heated through. Combine cornstarch with reserved stock in a small bowl; mix well. Add to soup and stir frequently until slightly thickened. Finish soup with brandy or cognac, if desired.
Love this stuff!!
 Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut bread into large cubes and lay on a baking pan; bake for 10-12 minutes until just crisp; remove from oven and set aside.
Place 8 oven-safe bowls onto baking sheets and ladle soup into bowls (or as many as you are serving). Top each with about ¼ cup bread cubes and about 2 tablespoons cheese. Place under broiler for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately!!
We served up little 1/2 cup portions just for fun:)
 Per 1 cup serving with croutons and cheese: Calories: 250, total fat: 7 grams, Saturated Fat: 2 grams, Trans Fat: 0 grams, Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 1000mg, Carbs: 31grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Sugars: 14 grams, Protein: 13 grams, Vitamin A: 130%, Vitamin C: 10%, Calcium: 25%, Iron: 6%

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dairy Free, Gluten Free Tomato Soup

It's chilly in Pittsburgh, and I had tons of tomatoes to use up; it is only natural to want to make tomato soup ( and it was suggested by the hubby), the ultimate comfort food (alongside a whole grain grilled cheese sandwich of course!). I also had to sneak in some nutritional yeast! It gives the soup that creamy, cheesy, nutty finish we all love!

No need for dairy to add creaminess, the super nutrient dense nutritional yeast does the trick. And who needs flour to add thickness; the onions, carrots and relatively large amount of fresh tomatoes gives this soup enough body to forget the added thickeners.

Also, feel free to cut down on the salt. I am a dietitian who does not fear salt, but if you have dietary restrictions, please please lower the salt as needed. Using only 1 tsp. of salt in this recipe, cuts the sodium down to 480mg per serving (20% DV ). If you go with 1/2 tsp. salt, the sodium drops to 360mg (15%). With no added salt, the soup has 240mg (10%) sodium per serving. You choose!

Fresh Tomato Soup with Sundried Tomato Oil

1 Tbsp. sundried tomato oil or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 whole cloves garlic
¾ cup chopped carrot
5 large tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
3-4 sundried tomatoes, optional
6 oz. can tomato paste
2  tsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
3 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic and carrots for about 5-8 minutes until lightly browned. Add tomatoes and cook, uncovered and stirring, for about 5-10 minutes. This helps to concentrate the tomato flavor.
Stir in sundried tomatoes if using (adds flavor), tomato paste, sugar and spices. Add broth and simmer covered for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in nutritional yeast.
Cool slightly and process, in batches, in a blender or a food processor. Take care when processing hot liquids; allow steam to escape by holding lid slightly opened and using a towel to hold top.

You don't have to use sundried tomatoes or sundried tomato oil. I did because I had some, and I think it adds extra flavor!

Nutrition Facts per 1 cup serving using sundried tomatoes: 90 calories, 2.5 grams total fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 600 mg sodium, 14 grams total carbs, 4 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, 4 grams protein, 50% Vitamin A, 35% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 8% iron

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Love Cilantro!

Cilantro is most definitely my favorite herb of them all. It is so versatile; from making a marinade for chicken, to a cilantro-cashew pesto, a beatiuful salsa, a cilantro laced rice or even a tasty margarita, this luscious heb will surely shine. Last night, I just happened to have a some cilantro that needed to be used, a "must-go" item in my refrigerator. So I whipped up the easiet thing my lazy butt could think of....a quick and simple salsa, to pair with our even quicker quesadilla dinner.

Super Simple Fresh Salsa

1 bunch cilantro, tough stems removed and chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeño (or Habanero), finely chopped (plz use gloves!)
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt and pepper

Make sure to enjoy your salsa making process by sipping on some homemade limeade! Tequila is optional, I certainly skipped it!

To remove stems, just cut right at the base of the leaves. No need to pick through and spend hours on this task, the tender stems are flavorful.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper (be generous) and toss well. Since the salt allows the veggies to release lots of water, you can drain the excess juices if desired. I like to do this.

Absolutely love these!!!
Try using this salsa as a base to the following suggestions:

1. Add 1 cup each of rinsed black beans and corn for a tasty hearty salsa. Adjust seasonings with a little cumin, brown sugar and olive oil.
2. Add a can or 2 of chopped clams, shimp or crab meat to make a super quick "ceviche".

3. Add 2-3 mashed or cubed ripe avocado for guacamole or avocado salsa.

4. Add is to your favorite chicken and rice soup and top it with crushed tortillas.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Breakfast Bars for Pooped People

Great News...we are expecting!!! the bad news...I'm exhausted!! which means less blogging time, and less cooking in general. But this "no excuse" protein bar recipe, is so easy, even A MOM-TO-BE can whip it up in no time! And check it's GLUTEN FREE

Almond Butter Protein Squares

1 ½ cups almond butter
½ cup Truvia® baking blend (or 1 cup sugar)
1 cup vanilla protein powder
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg plus 3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Mix ingredients in a medium bowl.
Spread into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are browned.
calories 145 fat 10 grams saturated fat 1 gram cholesterol 10 mg sodium 55 mg fiber 2 grams  protein 7 grams

Good enough for breakfast (snacks, dinner, whatever)!