Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Abundance Diet: Cozy Roasted Butternut Soup

Another new vegan "diet" book has arrived– The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowen.


I've made a number of these recipes, and so far, they are all pretty good. Some of them take a lot of time to prepare, but if you can do all your cooking in one or two days for the week, you'll have plenty of great food to munch on. One caveat–most of her recipes are rather high in calories. I found that if I followed her 28-day meal plan (which you have to find online at her website since the publisher forgot to put them in the book!), I was eating too much food and gaining weight. For me, personally, I think I need to restrict calories in order to lose weight, but if you are a very active person, this might not be a problem for you. Also, I think she assumes that people turning to this diet eat badly to begin with, and yes, this food is healthy and "whole" vs. processed and junk.

This morning I made her Cozy Roasted Butternut Soup found on page 128. Great name! It makes you want to cuddle up next to a fire and eat it slowly!

I've always been a little afraid of squashes. Not in the sense of I'm scared of creepy Jack-O'Lanterns, but in that I just didn't grow up eating much squash other than zucchini. I don't remember my mom bringing home all sorts of colors and shapes of squash, showing me how to cut them open and baking them. So, they remain a bit of a mystery to me! I know some are so hard it takes the anger and strength of The Hulk to get them open, and that's just too much work for me! And they often have a different color flesh than their skin, so it's a surprise what color food you are going to end up with! But now and then I've ventured into the scary, mysterious world of the squash.

I've had butternut squash soup at a local restaurant (The Guayaki Mate Cafe in Sebastopol), and I loved it. Their version was made with coconut cream, so of course it was rich and creamy and very flavorful. I've made some similar soups at home with pumpkin.

While I was at Andy's Market the other day, I decided to "woman-up" and buy a butternut squash. I got lucky last night when the first book I picked up (The Abundance Diet) had a recipe for butternut squash soup. I followed her directions carefully and even roasted the squash, onions and garlic in the oven, knowing I could let them cool overnight and make the soup this morning. One difference was that I put a little dab of olive oil on the all the cut sides. Maybe my oven was too hot (or I'll reduce it next time) but everything did get a little burned on one side. I peeled off most of this and left a little in for the roasted flavor.


My opinion? It's a very tasty soup, and I'd make it again. She uses cashews for the creaminess (optional if you want/need to reduce calories) and I didn't use the Sherry (also optional) since I didn't have any. Her main spice is thyme, which I found to be a little different, but I like it. I could see this going in any direction with almost any herb or spice (curry, rosemary, basil, etc). It would be nice with a dollop of vegan sour cream (which she has a recipe for), as well as the croutons I show here.

It's vegan and gluten-free (my croutons are not GF, but you could make some).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Herbivore Meal Plan: Curried Red Lentil Soup

Happy Herbivore Meal Plan Curried Red Lentil Soup

I used some orange lentils I had in the pantry (which turned very yellow). This is a good soup and easy to make. Just a lot of chopping of onion and carrot. Can be a little spicy, so you might want to reduce some of the spices depending on your tastes. Generous portion size is still low-cal.

Me: Very good.

Happy Herbivore Meal Plan: Kale Waldorf Salad

 Kale Waldorf Salad, Happy Herbivore Meal Plan

This Kale Waldorf Salad is very easy to make, and very filling. I chopped baby kale (from Costco) with my ulu knife (which I learned about from Chef AJ*). Lucky me got to pick apples off my backyard tree and make this sweet and tangy and nearly fat-free salad. There are some walnuts in the salad and dressing, but no added oil. Lots of nice crunch and tang.

Me: Loved it!
* See Hale to the Kale post.

Happy Herbivore Meal Plan: Oatmeal

This was supposed to be Cinnamon Banana Oatmeal, but I was out of banana. Luckily it's fig season at my house and the fig tree is having a really good year. I loved toasting the oatmeal first. It made the oatmeal stay kind of light and flaky versus mushy. I don't like mushy oatmeal!  I made a double or triple amount so I didn't have to make oatmeal two mornings in a row. I added a little non-dairy creamer and a very tiny drizzle of agave. Maybe I can wean myself off the agave. But I was a good girl and left off the vegan margarine I normally would have added.

Me: Loved it.

Trying the Happy Herbivore Meal Plan again...

 My weight has just been inching up and up and it's hit another number that scares me! (170 lbs.) The "Vegan-Modified Paleo" was not working for me...sooo hard to get protein and I just didn't feel good. I lost about 5 pounds, but gained it right back.

Last week I added back in exercise...made it to the pool three times! Yeah! And gained 2 pounds! Ha!

This week I will keep up the physical end as well as watch the calorie intake and see if I can gain some ground. Or should I say lose it? Gain ground, not weight! Lose weight, gain ground!

So, I am going to give Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore Meal Plan another try, maybe even trying to stick with it until the New Year and see if the pounds "melt off." I've yet to have pounds melt off me and I'd like to see what that feels like! Also in the mix soon is a CPAP machine. Hoping that helps with energy levels and all that.

I was pretty good yesterday (and so far this morning) and have followed the plan and made some food ahead so I won't get caught with my hand in the cookie jar. Or the Halloween Candy jar...

What pushed me over the line to try this again was Linsday's email about her plan. She herself had lost some weight, but was gaining it back. Once she started following her own meal plans strictly, she lost 15 pounds in a couple of months. There's no magic to it, and this isn't an endorsement, but we all know that if someone lays out a plan for us, it's easier to stick to. She also includes all recipes, and a shopping list. So, here I go.

Of course I won't be listing every single item or her recipes (unless I change them drastically) since this is her business and you should buy her plan if you want to follow it. I will list only what she already lists on her site about the plan (before purchasing), which is usually the names of the dishes. What you'll get from me is a photo (mine), comments and maybe some suggestions on changes or remarks on how I changed it for my diet or likes.

New meal plans are released every Wednesday...

Current release date: October 9, 2013

Individual Plan Highlights

Kale Waldorf Salad (NEW!)
Curried Red Lentil Soup (NEW!)
Farro, Apple & Pecan Salad (NEW!)
Quick Carrot Curry Soup (NEW!)
Cinnamon-Apple Oatmeal
Cauliflower Risotto
Lentil Chili
Chipotle Cakes
Blueberry Parfait
Adobo Tostados

Family Plan Highlights

Kale Waldorf Salad (NEW!)
Curried Red Lentil Soup (NEW!)
Farro, Apple & Pecan Salad (NEW!)
Garlic & Kale Soup
Asian Bowl
Easy Spinach Wrap
Toasted Oatmeal
Southwest Burgers
Vegetable Pinwheels
Breakfast Roll-Up