Minestrone Soup With Quinoa And Lentils

2015 Minestrone

Built around the well-loved, traditional Italian meal-in-a-bowl, this Minestrone Soup does away with the pasta and replaces it with high-protein, gluten-free quinoa and is packed with seasonally harvested veggies and hearty lentils. Feel free to play with your own seasonal, vegetable variations or add some that you already have on hand.

Autumn is a time to start adding more cooked, warming foods to the diet and this thick, rich, one-pot meal is easy to prepare and supports to the digestive system at this time of year. I always make a large potful so that I have it on hand in the fridge or freezer for a cold night or for a quick hot lunch.

Curling up with a warm bowl packed with these beautiful ingredients will comfort the soul and satisfy the tummy.

Minestrone Soup With Quinoa And Lentils

Ingredients
  • 1 red onion – medium diced
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic- finely chopped
  • 3 carrots – medium diced
  • 10 mushrooms sliced
  • 3 cups kale (stems removed) or silverbeet/chard – shredded
  • 1 large zucchini – medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves on – finely sliced
  • 700g jar diced peeled tomatoes or 3 fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 1.5 cups quinoa
  • 8 cups of water/vegetable stock
  • fresh (or dried) basil leaves
  • fresh (or dried) oregano leaves
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • salt and freshly crushed black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
Method
  1. Rinse lentils under running water and pick through them to remove any foreign matter. Optional- you may also like to pre-soak them for 1 hour prior to cooking in order to aid digestibility.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and sauté 5 minutes until the veggies are soft.
  4. Add the garlic and sweet paprika and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to colour.
  5. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and the water/stock, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
  7. Lower the heat to medium/low and add red lentils, basil and oregano.
  8. Allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking.
  9. Add the quinoa and cover for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the cover, add the kale and more water if needed. Bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.

Garnish with fresh oregano (and optional freshly grated parmesan).

Enjoy.

Banana and oat lunchbox treats

Banana and Oat slice 031

I am a fan of squeezing as much nutrition into each meal as I can when it comes to preparing meals for my children. Adding a pinch of turmeric and cinnamon to their quinoa porridge to reduce inflammation, a sprinkle of kelp in the Lentil Bolognaise to assist with healthy thyroid function, a handful of Gogi berries in the smoothie for a dose of amino acids and a vitamin C boost , etc. This list goes on…and on.

There are mornings though when my children’s one and only simple request is that their porridge isn’t too ‘busy’. They just want simple flavours without all the fuss. Understandable.

This Banana and Oat Slice, inspired by Dale Pinnock, is simple in flavour and has just a handful of ingredients but fulfills my nutritional value test. It is packed with calcium rich Tahini, omega rich flax seeds/linseeds and oats which are super high in magnesium to boost the immune and nervous system.

It could easily double as a breakfast bar for those mornings where the accidental sleep-in doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a quality breakfast, but they do make a beautiful lunchbox treat.

Banana And Oat Slice

Makes approx  16 pieces

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tbsp Tahini (or any other nut butter you have on hand)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 1/2 cups organic porridge oats
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds/linseeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil + extra for greasing tin

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tray with extra coconut oil.
  2. In a small pot add honey, coconut oil and Tahini and gently heat until evenly combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add the Tahini mixture to the bananas and mix until well combined.
  4. Add flax seeds/linseeds and oats to the mixture and combine well.
  5. Press the mixture into the the greased tin.
  6. Bake for approx 20 mins or until golden.
  7. Allow to cool before slicing with a serrated knife.

 

Banana and Oat slice mixture photos 001

 

 

Banana and Oat slice cooling rack photos 015

 

Enjoy!

 

Summer Soba Salad

Michelle's photos - Jan 2015 236

Cool salads are my go-to meals during the summer months. I’m on holidays and don’t feel like spending much time hidden away in the kitchen, and besides, no one feels like eating large, heavy meals in the heat.  With smaller portion sizes it is important that each bowl is packed with health-giving nutrients.

Soba literally means “buckwheat” in Japanese and is also the name of the thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are versatile, nutty and make a great gluten free option, as long as they do not contain wheat flour. The health benefits of including buckwheat into your diet are numerous and you can read more over here in a previous post.

This recipe also contains Umeboshi vinegar (it can be substituted but worth the investment). Umeboshi plums are considered the king of alkaline foods, highly respected in Japan for their remarkable medicinal properties in balancing the body and helping with indigestion. It can be used in any salads, just drizzle a small amount of Umeboshi vinegar over some olive oil–  it’s salty so start with only a little and taste from there.

Seaweed is known as an ancient super food and I include some Nori in this recipe to prop up the nutritional values. Seaweed draws an abundance of minerals from the sea. It is high in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein, Vitamins B, fibre and, alpha linoleic acid, EPA, and so much more. There are many varieties and it is worth experimenting to find ways of including more sea vegetables into your diet on a regular basis.

When making this salad be sure to create a complete meal. Combine seasonal vegetables with your preferred choice of protein. Good options include pan-fried tofu, grilled fish or a poached egg. My children prefer a boiled egg on the side (not pictured).

Here is my variation….

Summer soba salad

Serves 4

  • 2 bundles organic soba noodles (if gluten is an issue check that the ingredients do not include wheat flour)
  • coconut oil for cooking
  • 2 medium carrots julienned
  • 2 cups shredded kale (remove stem first)
  • 1/4 small white shredded cabbage
  • 1 bunch chopped broccolini
  • 2 small raw Lebanese cucumbers julienned
  • 2 sheets Nori to garnish

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Umeboshi vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

In a small jar combine salad dressing ingredients and shake to combine. Allow dressing to sit and infuse.

Cook soba noodles in boiling water according to packet directions. Drain and blanche in cold water  to avoid over cooking. Drain.

Lightly sauté cabbage, kale,  carrots and broccolini  in coconut oil until tender.

Heat a wok or non stick pan with a little coconut oil and lightly saute cabbage, kale,  carrots and broccolini.

Combine the raw cucumber, cooked vegetables and soba noodles in a bowl and drizzle with dressing.

Divide into 4 bowls and top with your choice of protein.

Use scissors to cut Nori sheets into thin strips and garnish.