Spring Corn Soup

You never what kind of weather you’re going to wake-up to these days. Last week we had highs in the mid-40′s to all the way up into the 70′s. Now, how is a gal to plan her weekly soup menu around that?

Clearly, I needed something that could be cautiously optimistic. A bowl filled with lots of color to celebrate the coming of spring, but, while not ready to commit to flip flops and shorts yet, something warm and filling too. Also, I needed a soup to help solve a dilemma, someone else must have done my food shopping this week because I have no idea why I ended up with sweet potatoes, corn, spinach, and tomatoes.

What to do? Back in January, I made Meeru Dhalwala and Vikriam Vij’s Milk Zucchini Soup. It was a delicious bowl; familiar, and yet, completely new thanks to the medley of spices. Inspired by Vij’s soup, I came up with Spring Corn Soup – a colorful bowl of spice-filled brothy soup that was still creamy and filling.

Spring Corn Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Olive oil

2 tsp of cumin seeds

1 garnet yam or sweet potato of your liking, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 large (or 2 small) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated

1 tbsp of jalapeño pepper, chopped with ribs and seeds removed (keep if you like the extra heat)

1 1/2 tsp garam masala (Vij’s recipe)

1 tsp of salt

1 bag of frozen corn (I used a 10 oz bag, but use whatever you have on hand)

1/2 pound of tomatoes, roughly chopped

5-6 cups of filtered water (depending how broth you like your soup)

2 handfuls of baby spanish, washed

1/2 cup of half and half

In a medium pot, heat a few glugs of olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for 30 to 45 seconds. Do not let them burn! Stir in the sweet potatoes and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes or until browned. Add a little pinch of salt. Keep an eye on the mix as the potatoes can stick and burn easily. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger, jalapeño pepper, garam masala, salt, and turmeric. Stirring frequently, sauté spices for a few minutes; you may need to a add little more oil if the mix is too dry. Add tomatoes and frozen corn and stir well. Add the water. Cook until all the vegetables are tender (or cooked to the texture you prefer) about 10 to 15 minutes. You’re not looking for a rolling boil, but a gentle bubble. When the vegetables are ready, drop in the handfuls of spinach, stir, then add the half and half and stir again. Do not allow to boil. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Note: Where are the onions? You’ll notice that I did not use onions in this recipe. That is because I am exploring a low-FODMAP diet (read about it here). As such, onions are a major no-no. If you like onions, add them! I’d go for about 1 large onion chopped. Add to the pot after the cumin seeds have sizzled (for 30 to 45 seconds) and then sauté for about 5 minutes before you add the sweet potatoes and carrots. And yes, I know that garlic is also a FODMAP no-no, but I’m not willing to live without, ever!

Printable Recipe

Baked Carrot Crisps

Major snack attack happening right now! I just have to have a crunchy, crispy, salty snack! (and these days, most snacks are off-limit because they contain ingredients I need to avoid) So what to do, what to do?

Crisps or chips, that’s what! And, not necessarily of the potato variety either….

Why not carrots? I always have a few (pounds!) in the fridge. It’s pretty easy to make a healthy chip using a vegetable, a little olive oil, and sea salt.

Because the crisps will shrink in the oven, you want to select carrots that are big (especially wide). Grab some sea salt (I actually used fleur de del which is typically used as a finishing salt because it’s sweet) and some olive oil.

I experimented using a mandolin to get nice, even ovals, but found that the carrots never got really crispy, even if I adjusted the oven temperature. Instead, I burned a few batches!  So I reached for my vegetable peeler to get long, thin strands of carrot.

Best to work with one or two carrots at time; you’ll have plenty of strands to fill a baking sheet. Work on one side of the carrot only; don’t turn the carrot over as you’re looking for wide strands. When it get’s too hard to peel the carrot, use  a knife to thinly slice the left overs. Or you can snack on them (it is a snack attack after all) or toss them in a soup or salad. Toss the strands with a few sprinkles of olive oil (maybe 1/2 to 1 tsp…I didn’t really measure) and a sprinkle of salt. You can add a little pepper, but know that it will intensify in taste (and spice) in the oven. Although I love pepper, I prefer my carrot crisps without it.

Lay your carrots strands on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure to separate the strands so that they can crisps evenly.

Slow and steady is the best way to go. In go the carrots in a 275 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so, check to make certain that the strands aren’t burning and rotate the pan. I found that turning off the oven after about 25 to 30 minutes worked beautifully. The strands would continue to crisp-up and kept their vibrant orange color. If you keep them in the oven too long, they’ll turn a dull brown; still yummy, just not as cheerful!.

Et voila! These carrots crisps will last for a few days in an airtight container. I’m going to experiment with parsnip crisps next! Enjoy this delicious and healthy snack…sure to satisfy any snack attack!

Carrot Crisps

Carrots, peeled – however many you like. Select big, wide carrots

Olive oil

Salt

Heat oven to 275 degrees.

I prefer to work with one or two carrots at time, depending on how many baking sheets I can fit in the oven.  One carrots yields an impressive number of strands (more than enough to fill a baking sheet), although these will shrink considerably in the over. Work on one side of the carrot only; don’t turn the carrot over as you’re looking for nice, wide strands. When it get’s too hard to peel the carrot, use a knife to thinly slice the left overs or use them in a soup or salad.

Toss the strands with a few sprinkles of olive oil (maybe 1/2 to 1 tsp…I didn’t really measure) and a sprinkle of salt. You can add a little pepper, but know that it will intensive in taste (and spice) in the oven. Although I love pepper, I prefer my carrot crisps without it. If there are other spices you like, experiment; they something new!

Lay your carrots strands on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure to separate the strands so that they can crisps evenly.

Put in the oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so, check to make certain that the strands aren’t burning and rotate the pan. After 25 to 30 minutes, you will notice that your carrots will have begun to shrivel-up and shrink. Turn off the oven, but leave the pan in for an addition 10 to 20 minutes.  The strands will continue to crisp-up and keep their vibrant orange color.  Note that if you keep them in the oven too long, they’ll turn a dull brown; a slight “burned taste” still yummy, just not as cheerful!

Remove baking sheet from oven and cool. Carrot crisps can be kept in an airtight container for several days. Enjoy this delicious and healthy snack…sure to satisfy any snack attack!

Printable Recipe

FODMAPS! Say what?

I have a new obsession. My tummy. To be more specific, my tummy’s troubles. I thought eating a (mostly) plant-based diet meant being healthy, but accepted that I had to deal with a few less than sexy, unpleasant side-effects. (you know what I mean!) For years, I struggled to understand why I felt less than stellar eating what I thought was a healthy diet. I was constantly bloated, gassy and, well, I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty; it was uncomfortable and could last for days. After speaking about my GI problems with my sister-in-law, who is a registered dietician in Canada (and clearly not phased by gross details),  it seemed that I could  actually have a ‘real’ problem with food. More to the point, a sensitivity or inability to adsorb certain kinds of food. She told me about FODMAPS.

FODMAPS?

According to Dr. Sue Shepherd, an expert in GI and dietary research in Australia, “FODMAPs are found in the foods we eat. FODMAPs is an acronym (abbreviation) referring toFermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols*. These are complex names for a collection of molecules found in food, that can be poorly absorbed by some people. When the molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine of the digestive tract, these molecules then continue along their journey along the digestive tract, arriving at the large intestine, where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally. The bacteria then digest/ferment these FODMAPs and can cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include abdominal bloating and distension, excess wind (flatulence), abdominal pain, nausea, changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both), and other gastro-intestinal symptoms.”

I though I knew enough about my body and what it could digest well. But reading Dr. Shepherd’s work (and that of others) on FODMAPS has been extremely revealing and very rewarding. I’ve begun exploring which foods cause my tummy troubles and which ones are safe for me to eat. Although it has taken some time to research and coordinate (and you must absolutely speak/meet with a medical professional about any tummy troubles), I’m working through an elimination diet and slowly reintroducing one FODMAP (category) at a time in order to track my body’s responses.

The foods I’ve eliminated to date, mainly fructans and galactans (such as apples, onions, and certain types of beans) and polyps (such as mushrooms and green peppers) have left my tummy feeling very happy (finally).  The combination of these FODMAPS was, I believe, a significant source of many tummy troubles. No more mushroom barley soup for me! However, I struggle to reduce or eliminate lactose (milk and unripen cheeses like ricotta), fructose (such as mangos, artichokes, and asparagus) and wheat-based products.

Here are a few resources I have found to be very helpful along the way :

When ever possible, I’ll note how to make recipes FODMAP friendly, to the best of my ability. However, everyone’s body reacts differently, so please rely on your experiences, what you can eat, and what you can’t!

Disclaimer – I am not a medical professional; this is not medical advice. I am sharing with others my food – and tummy – adventures. If you have questions about FODMAPS and/or GI problems, please speak with a medical professional. Also, I have not been, nor do I seek to be, compensated for referring to these resources; I’m just sharing information. 

a lunch on this sunny saturday…

Lunch on saturday is usually something light and simple. The day does start off with a croissant, butter (yes, more butter), and jam. At the Inwood farmer’s market there were few options for produce and fruit – it is March after all! But there are always plenty of apples. So, I made some apple pie “filling”.  I used Macoun apples (a cross between McIntosh and Jersey Black variety); sweet, crisp, and a little tart.

Two apples, a touch of cinnamon, a spritz of lemon juice & lemon zest, and a little sweetener (I used stevia) et voila – raw apple pie! Why not?

 

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