Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Wishes


Wishing all of my readers and friends who celebrate Christmas a very Merry Christmas! 
Blessing and Peace to the World!











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Monday, December 21, 2015

Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Red Onions


Looking for a delicious side for your holiday dinner? Don't let the simplicity of this recipe fool you. Roasted Brussels sprouts and caramelized sweet red onions are a one step sensational recipe that is very easy to make. 

Each Christmas, I try to come up with a red and green side! Last year, I made the beautiful Christmas Slaw Salad that was colorful, crunchy, and festive. This year's recipe has red and green colors that are more subtle, but the vegetables melt in your mouth.


During November and December, it's usually easy to find fresh Brussels sprouts on the stalk ( I found them at Trader Joe's) It doesn't get much fresher than that. However, you could use fresh Brussels sprouts from a bag as well . Unfortunately, frozen won't work.



Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Caramelized Onion

You can prepare the ingredients up to a day in advance and then store in the refrigerator until you are ready to roast them. Plan on roasting for 25 minutes in a preheated oven. They taste AMAZING coming right out of the oven, but they are still really good at room temperature. 

My friend Laura, who is a master entertainer, always looks for recipes that can be enjoyed a room temperature to free up her time and oven space when company has arrived. This is a winner Laura!


To make this recipe even more enticing, I recently read that Brussels sprouts, and all cabbage family vegetables, provide much needed healthy Omega 3 oils. Who knew? Here is a complete list of vegan sources that offer Omega 3 ( I found this site on the Internet and have no affiliation and take no responsibility for the info in the article- just sharing a link I found)  


So there we have it ! Brussels Sprouts are vegan, naturally gluten free, delicious and healthy. This recipe is an all around winner.


3 ways to help others like Brussels Sprouts

1. Never boil them- they will taste mushy and smelly

2. Roast them to bring out their best flavor- simply toss in oil, season, and place on a rimmed cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes ( depends on size of the sprouts) 

3. Saute in a skillet- Slice in half and saute raw sprouts in a skillet with other veggies, but do not overcook!

Author: Judee Algazi 
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes


Ingredients: 
30 Brussel Sprouts  ( a little more or less will work) 
1 medium red onion, sliced in half moons
1/4-1/2 cup of olive oil ( or oil of your choice) 
2 teaspoons of Trader Joe's 21 Salute ( a salt free seasoning )or try Mrs. Dash or similar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 
Wash and cut off the coarse end of the Brussels sprouts
In a rectangular 10 x14 Pyrex baking dish toss the sprouts, sliced red onions, oil and seasoning. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes until the sprouts are cooked. Remove and serve. 

My Notes: 
1. Don't skimp on the oil- it is needed for the onions to caramelize


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Healthy food is my passion. I am gluten intolerant, busy. and strive for a healthy balanced lifestyle. It has taken me many years to develop and discover easy healthy recipes that meet gluten free, vegetarian and real food standards. On my blog I share my journey, my struggles, my discoveries, and my new recipes. I hope you find ideas, resources, and recipes that will be helpful to you. Come Back soon.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms



Stuffed mushrooms make a sensational, yet easy, appetizer for any holiday party. These tasty little gems are stuffed with fresh spinach and artichoke ( I used frozen artichoke), a combo that is both vegetarian and naturally gluten free. They are easy to make and take about 15 minutes prep time for about 20 mushrooms. You can make them without cooking the night before and then just saute them in a large skillet for about 5 minutes before serving.


I found bags of frozen artichokes at Trader Joe's. I simply thawed part of the bag and then chopped them up without cooking. I added some Gruyere and Swiss shredded cheese ( again a mixture in a bag from Trader Joe); Vegans could leave out the cheese. I've made these appetizers with and without cheese, and they were delicious both ways. If you want yours to be vegan, add 2 Tablespoons of vegetable broth for some extra flacor when sauteing.

Author: Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
Makes : 20 mushrooms

Ingredients: 
1 pound of regular size white whole mushrooms ( around 20 ) 
1 cup of chopped artichoke ( Trader Joe's comes frozen in a bag) 
2 cups of fresh baby spinach, chopped 
2 Tablespoons olive oil ( or oil of your choice)
3 cloves of garlic , chopped 
optional: 1/4 cup of shredded cheese ( I used Swiss and Gruyere mixture from Trader Joe's) 


Directions: 
To clean your mushrooms,  wipe the mushrooms well with a damp paper towel. Rinse the mushrooms very quickly under cold water if they don't come clean enough from wiping them. 

Pop out the inner stems, chop and set aside in a bowl. Using a very small spoon, scoop out the inside of each mushroom, adding the inside scooping to the mushroom stems in the bowl. 

On a low heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil for about 1 minute in a large skillet. Add the chopped inside scooped out mushrooms and chopped up mushroom stems, chopped artichoke, chopped fresh spinach, and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. ( optional: Add a pat of butter for extra flavor) . Turn off the heat and add the optional shredded cheese and mix it in.

Use the spinach and artichoke stuffing to stuff the raw scooped out mushrooms.
When the mushrooms are stuffed,  place the mushrooms in a skillet , spray the skillet with olive oil spray or add a few pats of butter. Saute the whole stuffed mushrooms for about 5 minutes ( do not overcook)

Make immediately by sauteing the whole stuffed mushrooms in some oil or butter in a skillet for 5 minutes. Or place the mushrooms in a Pyrex container, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours and then saute just before serving.




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Friday, December 4, 2015

Easy Hanukkah Latke Recipe

If you are reading this on your phone, you will need to click the gray title to go to my blog to watch the video.

Tradition is eating latkes on Hanukkah. This is an easy, tasty latke just in time for the holiday. I added a little grated carrot to the potatoes to give it a more golden color. 



Why we eat Latkes on Hanukkah


Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights.
The holiday is in remembrance of the victory of the ancient Israelites against the oppression of the Syrians and the restoration of the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
The miracle of Hanukkah is that although they had only enough oil to light the Menorah in the Temple for to last for one day, but the little vial of oil burned bright in the Holy Temple and lasted for eight days.
Thus on Hanukkah, we light the Hanukkah Menorah ( also called a Hanukiya)) every night for eight nights and eat foods that are made with oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil in the Temple.
Eastern European Jews traditionally eat potato latkes fried in oil for the holiday. 
Sephardic Jews from Middle Eastern countries and Spain eat a type fried dough or doughnuts.
Today in America, Hanukkah is often celebrated by the eating  latkes and doughnuts, singing of songs, playing "driedel", and lighting the Menorah each night. 
Since the oil in the Holy Temple in ancient Jerusalem lasted for 8 nights, we light candles ( and give gifts after we light the candles)  for 8 nights!
Children also get "gelt" ( money ) or chocolate (gelt) coins to eat.
Hanukkah falls each year according to the Jewish Calendar ( which is different on the American Calendar each year. Hanukkah this year begins the eve of Dec 6 ( Sunday) 

Hanukkah Song
Here is a traditional Hanukkah song that I found on You Tube. It's fun and whimsical. Press the arrow to listen to the festive traditional song. 





Hanukkah Recipe: Latkes
There are as many Hanukkah recipes for latkes as there are cooks. Their is no steadfast recipe.
My favorite recipe is baked not fried. My cousin Harriet's latkes are traditional and easy! I'm sharing her recipe plus some links for my other " less traditional" variety of latkes.

My Cousin Harriet's Traditional Hanukkah Latkes 
My cousin Harriet is an amazing cook who makes all of the traditional Jewish holiday foods. 
This is her latke recipe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time : 5 minutes for each batch of 4
Materials Needed: Blender and skillet

6-7 white all purpose potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 large egg
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (gluten free)
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 cup of oil

Directions: 
Using a blender, add the egg, onion, and a half of the potatoes. Begin blending and add remainder of potato, breadcrumbs, and seasoning to form the batter. Heat oil in a large skillet. Drop tablespoon mounds of batter into the skillet and fry until crispy. Serve topped with applesauce or sour cream!

Try some of my other latke recipes:




My favorite Baked Latkes ( Best Ever) 
Weight Watchers style latkes ( uses grated broccoli slaw) 
applesauce ( traditional topping for latkes) 

Hanukkah Recipe: Easy Doughnuts ( Baked and gluten free) 




I know it's the tradition to fry, but these are so much healthier and they do contain oil!

Author: Judee Algazi of Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 5-8 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 12 doughnuts


Ingredients:
2 cups of almond flour ( Trader Joe's or health food store)
1/4 cup of coconut flour ( Trader Joe's or health food store)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder ( aluminum free)
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of milk ( coconut milk, almond milk, or regular milk)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten
optional: chocolate chips or chocolate frosting ( Quick recipe below)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and sea salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside. Mix the eggs, milk, banana together and then add to the wet ingredients. Mix with a spoon until blended. Pour batter into a 12 doughnut pan ( or 2 six doughnut pans)  and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, remove from pan and drip chocolate icing on top. Sprinkle with coconut if desired for a festive look.


Quick Chocolate frosting
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips ( I used dairy free)

Directions 
Heat the coconut oil and chocolate chips in a saucepan on a low flame. Stir frequently until they melt together ( 1- 2 minutes) . Remove from heat and frost the donuts if desired. It takes about 4 hours for this icing to really dry. Eat immediately or wait 4 hours and then store.




Tips and Notes: Where to buy a doughnut pan
I bought my donut pan in AC Moore or you can easily purchase online:
Wilton Nonstick 6-Cavity Donut Pan 


Hanukkah begins this year Sunday Dec 6 at sundown and continues through Monday Dec 14




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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Eggnog Baked Doughnuts ( Gluten Free )



chocolate glazed gluten free doughnuts

Doughnuts made with eggnog?  Perfect for Christmas morning AND Yes, they are fabulous and very easy to make.

Do you like eggnog? You will LOVE these healthy baked doughnuts made with eggnog ( I used So Delicious brand non dairy eggnog that is on the shelves for the holiday season ) but use any eggnog you like.

baked gluten free doughnuts


If you want to use the vegan Nog, it comes in a carton and is located on the shelf, not the refrigerator case.
Delicious brand vegan eggnog

eggnog doughnuts and a glass of eggnog ( DF and GF)
Eggnog doughnuts with chocolate chips added and a glass of eggnog 

a stack of gluten free eggnog doughnuts


I recently bought a doughnut baking pan which makes baking doughnuts so easy. All I did is fill the batter in the pan, popped it in the oven, and they came out as beautiful doughnuts. My grandkids went gaga over them so I know they are good!
baking pan for doughnuts
I bought my doughnut pan at AC Moore  or you can purchase online at
Wilton Nonstick 6-Cavity Donut Pan 
The batter in the doughnut baking pan


Let's get one thing straight- These are not that sweet donuts!!
And they taste best once they are completely cooled. 
You will probably want an icing.

1-2-3 and you have doughnuts!!!! Personally it was my first attempt at baking doughnuts using a  pan, and I couldn't believe how easy it was!

Author: Judee Algazi
Inspired by a recipe on: Grass Fed Girl
Prep Time: 5-8 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 6 doughnuts

Ingredients:
1 cup of almond flour ( ground almonds) Trader Joe's sells bags of it
1/4 cup of coconut flour
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup of eggnog ( I used a vegan eggnog by Delicious Coconut Brand )
1/4 cup of olive oil or coconut oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
optional: chocolate chips if you are not going to ice the donuts ( ok , add chocolate chips even it you are going to ice the doughnuts)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients ( almond flour, baking powder, and sea salt) and set aside
In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together and add to the dry. Mix well with a spoon.
Spoon into the doughnut pan. Bake for 20 minutes



Very Easy 5 minute Chocolate Icing

Chocolate Icing #1:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips ( I used dairy free)

Directions 
Using a saucepan and a low flame, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together stirring frequently ( about 3  minutes) Remove from heat.  Spoon over donuts. This makes a smooth shiny icing. Set aside to dry for about 1 hour ( or icing will be sticky)

Chocolate Icing # 2:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar crystals
1/4 cup cocoa

Directions Icing #2:
Using a saucepan and a low flame melt coconut oil, coconut sugar crystals ( Trader Joe or Health food store) in a pan stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Stir in cocoa and shut off heat. Use immediately. This makes a grittier consistency but very tasty.





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photo of woman
  Wilton Nonstick 6-Cavity Donut Pan
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Homemade Cranberry Sauce in 25 minutes





This is a perfect cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It is a mixture of tart cranberries, sweet apple, walnuts and tangy citrus. Fresh cranberries cook very quickly ( under 15 minutes), so it is easy to make this delicious seasonal sauce. It is a quick recipe that tastes exceptional and needs only about 5-10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes to cook. Can be and should be made in the day before which frees you up Thanksgiving day.

Fresh Cranberries are tart. Many recipes call for a significant amount of white sugar to overpower the tart cranberries. This recipe has no added sugar and uses fruit and honey to sweeten up the recipe.


fresh red cranberries


The final product is a rich warm red color that looks very inviting and tastes delicious. In addition , i added some chopped walnuts for some little bit of crunch and to take away from the sweetness.




Judee Algazi from Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1 12 ounce bag of organic cranberries
2 cups of organic apple, chopped
1/4 cup of water
Juice of 3 (med-large) organic oranges
1/2 cup honey ( I always use raw local honey)
Zest from 1 organic orange
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts added at the end



Directions:
Place everything except the honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer stirring frequently until mixture thickens ( about 12-15 minutes) . Remove from the stove, allow to cool slightly and then mix in the honey.
Pour into a serving bowl, chill overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature





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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving Sides


 Can you imagine Thanksgiving without all of the FABULOUS seasonal sides made from sweet potatoes, string beans , potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, pumpkin pie,cranberry sauce, soup etc. ?

This is a collection of healthy real food recipes 

( gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan )


A collage of Thanksgiving Recipe Sides


I love Thanksgiving and the beauty and richness of the season! I try to make my recipes as easy as possible. I hope you find some recipes in this collection that you can try for this year's celebration

Healthy Thanksgiving Sides ( Gluten Free and Vegan) 


stuffed acorn squash


Stuffed Berry Acorn Squash-   A WOW presentation- acorn squash halves stuffed with an apple and berry filling. Looks as good as it tastes!

Cider Glazed Butternut Squash - This is one of my favorites for many reasons. It's an easy recipe that is naturally sweet and flavorful.  In addition it is low in calories, making it only 1 point plus on WW. Easy and tastes great!

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash If you love caramelized onions the way I do, this simple combination of winter squash and rich caramelized onions will become a savory yearly favorite.

Fruity Sweet Potato Tzimis- Dried fruit, sweet potato,  nuts , apples and sweet onions make this traditional Jewish recipe favorite a perfect side on Thanksgiving. A better choice than sweet potato casserole with sugar.  

Wendy's Crunchy Vegetable Balls This is a pseudo name for my crunchy and delicious roasted fresh Brussels sprouts. There was a time ( before I tasted this recipe that was shared by my daughter in law Wendy) that I turned my nose up to Brussels Sprouts! - But Not since I tasted them made this way. 

Wild Rice Stuffing  -  A delicious stuffing made from a blend of wild and regular rice.

Corn Bread Stuffing  This recipe calls for making gluten free cornbread. Jaime Oliver has a good homemade cornbread.

Quinoa Chinese Style Stuffing-  The only thing that makes it Chinese style is the ( GF) soy sauce that is added , which could also be left out. Check this one out!

A vegan Entree:  Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms with quinoa



Rice stuffed tomatoes


Greek Stuffed Tomatoes- Beautiful presentation and tastes divine! Perfect for every holiday celebration

Lemon Mushrooms with garlic and herbs  - A quick few minute prep and less than 15 minutes to cook. A lighter favorite that could be called Mushroom Scampi

Beets and Orange Slices  is a must at any holiday meal. The rich red color offset by the contrasting orange is just vibrant! A healthy dish for any occasion.

Sweet Potato Smash - Easy,  crispy,  and delicious. One individual sweet potato per serving. 

Sweet Potato Fries - Sweet potato are cut into strips and then baked, not fried. Your choice of how to season ( Cajun? Cinnamon? Salt and Pepper? ) Loved by kids of all ages.

White Potato Rosemary Smash  - Baked with olive oil and rosemary, the potatoes become crunchy, crispy and fabulous! 

Riced Cauliflower Pilaf
 a low calorie/low carb alternative to using rice. Tastes delicious and adds an interesting mystery dish to the table. 





Moroccan Carrot Recipe


If you like lemony Moroccan food, you'll love this authentic carrot dish. Simply steam carrots and then dress with the fabulous marinade. It looks simple, but it tastes outrageous!


Arugula and Cashew Salad- Make this for Christmas. The rich green arugula and sprinkling of fresh cranberries makes this a colorful favorite. 


Red and Orange Holiday Coleslaw is a must for cole slaw lovers. The colors and sweet flavors win everyone over.


Pickled Red Onions- nice pickled condiment that is fast, easy, looks pretty.  


Healthy, Quick and Easy Soups





Leeks and Brussels Sprout Soup : Fast, Easy, Delicious ( cooks in 12 minutes)  and is rich satisfying and seasonal. ( Paleo, vegan, gluten free) 

Pumpkin : This  Paleo Pumpkin Pie Soup  is a winner in my book. Use cooked pumpkin or any cooked winter squash for a delicious fragrant soup. Bursting with flavor, this rich golden soup is a favorite on the holiday. ( GF, Vegan, Paleo)

Butternut : A bowl of this Savory Butternut Squash Soup   is only one point plus on Weight Watchers. What a great way to start off a meal. Satisfying, low calorie and delicious.( GF, Vegan, Paleo)

Red Lentil Hearty Red Lentil Soup  is one of my favorites on a cold winter day. Red lentils cook quickly and melt into the vegetable soup making it hearty and creamy. ( vegan, GF)

Chickpea:  Many Vegans eat this high protein delicious  Spanish Chickpea soup on Christmas. Maybe it's the rich, red color.

Carrot :  Moroccan Spiced Carrot   adds a little kick to this otherwise mild carrot soup. Perfect to spice up  and heat up any meal.

Mushroom: This Hot and Sour Chinese Mushroom  Soup is my version of a hot and sour soup that is served in Chinese restaurants. It's full of fresh mushrooms making it a mushroom lover's favorite.

Carrot Ginger Soup  . This is the fastest soup ever and it's perfect if you are under the weather - it acts like a vegan chicken soup  - don't forget the gluten free matzo balls

Spinach Vegetable: This is my friend Paula's soup recipe. I've had this Wilted Spinach Vegetable Soup  at her house on family gathering for various holidays. We love it.

Lentil; Tangy Tomato Lentil is a wonderful lentil soup with a tomato base. Cooks up quickly and it rich in protein too.

Spinach and Garlic: This beautiful green soup is easy to make and a must for spinach and garlic lovers. Fresh Spinach and Garlic Soup ( 1 PP on WW). Low in calories

Detox Soup -  Perfect after holiday detox - lose up to 5 pounds in 4 days. This post went viral and I still get hundreds of views /day



Vegetarian and Vegan Desserts


Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie ( vegan, GF, Paleo) - Made in the blender, this fast and easy recipe is delicious.(  

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie with Grain Free Crustone of my favorites

pumpkin pie gluten free


Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies- These are healthy enough to eat as a breakfast. no sugar. My grandkids LOVE them. Makes a great dessert.. Use dried cranberries for Thanksgiving or Christmas


Pumpkin Cakes: Flourless   These little mini individual cakes are really delicious. Made with crunchy almond butter.. don't eat too many -- they are healthy but a little more caloric

Baked apples, cranberries, raisins, and nuts ( vegan) - This was my mother's recipe that she made for dessert every Thanksgiving. Certainly a healthy and tasty dish... top with some Vanilla Greek Yogurt for an added treat..

Raw Cranberry Walnut Tart-  ( vegan) This tart was featured on Veg news magazine. It requires no cooking and looks absolutely delicious.

Black Bean Brownies: These brownies are made in the blender and are quick and easy to make. They taste amazing! Healthy, flour less and tasty! 
                                     
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Monday, November 9, 2015

Quick and Easy Chinese Cabbage Soup


Think that you are too busy or too tired to make healthy homemade soup for your family? This Chinese Cabbage Soup can be made in a Jiffy.


I love making and eating homemade soup because it isn't overly salty, full of chemicals, or high in fat like packaged or canned soup  or soup from restaurants. Not only is homemade soup delicious, nourishing, and healthy, it can made relatively quickly. This flavorful Chinese Cabbage soup took only 10 minutes preparation and around 20-25 minutes to cook.

Why not try it? Cooking a pot of homemade soup warms your house, your belly, the soothing aroma greets each person as he/she enters your home.

 I used Napa cabbage for this recipe, a soft flavorful cabbage that cooks up quickly and  cuts as easily as a head of lettuce. It's almost always available in regular supermarkets and Asian markets.  Combined with onions, carrots, fresh ginger and fresh garlic, this cabbage makes a wonderful Chinese style soothing light vegetable soup that is sure to please.

Garlic and ginger are powerful immune builders-


Author: Judee Algazi from Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4-6 cups

Ingredients: 
5  cups of Napa cabbage, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of chopped onion
2 cups of sliced carrot
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 small finger of chopped fresh ginger
Cracked pepper to taste
3 cups of water
5 cups vegetable broth

Directions: 
Saute the onions and garlic in the oil in a soup pot for about 4 minutes ( stirring). Add the cabbage, carrot, and fresh ginger, toss and continue to saute and stir. After about 5 minutes add the water and vegetable broth, Cook for about 20 minutes about carrots are soft.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cuban Black Bean Soup-Spicy and Smoky


This easy recipe is as authentic as it gets for Cuban Black Bean Soup without the meat! The flavors are Cuban, but the soup is vegan. I added smoked paprika to the recipe to give it what otherwise would be the" smoked ham hock" taste. But that's optional- you decide whether to add the smoked paprika or not. The soup will taste great either way- ( just a little different) .


Healthy Soup Recipes for Busy People
Do you like to cook healthy recipes but be in and out of the kitchen quickly? 
This recipe can be assembled in 10 minutes, and you can do other things while the soup is cooking.  Black Beans and the other simple vegetables in the recipe make for a healthy high fiber meal.
There is definitely a reason that black beans are so widely used and so popular in Latin countries.
Satisfying and filling, this soup is perfect for a cold winter day ( or a chilly fall night).

Optional Step:  I Soaked and Cooked My Dry Black Beans
If you want to avoid using cans ( because of BPA and other chemicals in the lining) , then it is important to buy dry beans ( sold in bags in the supermarket) and cook your own. You will need to think about it in advance, but it is so easy.
  • Wash the beans according to directions on the bag
  • Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water
  • Soak the covered beans over night
  • Rinse off the water in the morning 
  • Place in a large pot and boil for about 1 and half hours until beans are soft

Fastest Method Use Canned Beans If You Are In A Rush
 If you are in a rush, and want to eliminate the soaking and cooking step for the beans,  you could use organic canned black beans! Some organic brands do not contain BPA in the lining.  If you do use canned , this recipe becomes a really quick and easy soup and surprisingly whether you cook your own or use the canned,  either way, the soup tastes just as good!


What are the Heath Benefits of Black Beans ?


  • Packed with antioxidants.The darker a bean, the greater its antioxidant value, making black beans antioxidant superstars even surpassing the antioxidants in oranges! Studies report that  antioxidants help boost our immune systems to help protect against cancer, degenerative disease, and general health.
  • Loaded with fiber. In addition, black beans are loaded with fiber which helps rid toxins from building up in your system by keeping your elimination regular. 
  • Does it Fight Heart disease ? Just one of many available studies was an impressive 19 year study that followed 10,000 persons ( Archives of Internal Medicine). The study found that high fiber foods like black beans, helps prevent heart disease. Eating at least 21 grams of fiber rich foods a day brought down the risk for heart disease by at least 15 %. A cup of black beans provides about 12 grams of heat healthy fiber.
  • Stabilizes Blood sugar  Fiber also helps you maintain healthier glucose metabolism, so the high fiber content of black beans can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Provides lots of Minerals. Black beans are a good source of minerals including iron, magnesium, and folates. If you have Celiac, check with your doctor, you may may be low in minerals due to years of poor absorption. ( especially iron)
  • Low in calories and fat- black beans are filling, satisfying and taste great, yet they are low in calories and low in fat. On Weight Watchers, they are  one of the suggested filling foods.

My Cuban Black Bean Soup Recipe
Author: Judee Algazi of Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time:  10 minutes if using canned beans or previously cooked beans
Cook Time:  45 minutes 
Adapted from :  A recipe on The Kitchen

Ingredients: 
7 cups of cooked black beans ( make your own like I did or use organic canned beans)
1 cup of chopped green pepper
1 cup of chopped onion
3 cloves of fresh garlic , chopped
1/4 cup of olive oil
cracked black pepper to taste
4 cups of water
6 cups of vegetable broth ( or chicken broth is you are so inclined)
optional: 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ( I got mine at Trader Joe's ) or more to taste
optional: 1 teaspoon chili powder
optional: 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
** If soup cooks down: If you need to add additional water ( see directions) you may also need to add a 1/2 teaspoon of bouillon powder)

Directions: 
Saute the onions, fresh garlic, and green pepper in the olive oil in a soup pot ( on low) .
Add the cooked beans ( use the liquid from the cans or cooking too.
Add the water and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. As it cooks the beans will soften into the soup.
If the liquid begins to cook down and the soup thickens too much, add an additional 2-3 cups of water and a teaspoon of powdered bouillon if needed. Season with black pepper to taste. If you would like the smoky taste, add the smoked paprika add it now and any other optional seasonings.
 See my notes below for additional serving ideas.

These will cook down and almost disintegrate in the soup and the green pepper
flavor will be very mild 


My Notes:
  • For an interesting kick, add 1/3 of a cup of vinegar ( white or apple cider) to the soup during the last 15 minutes of cooking.  
  • I add 1/4 cup of cooked white or brown rice to each bowl before eating
  • I sometimes top each bowl with plain Greek Yogurt or sour cream 
  • Chopped red onion and raw chopped green or red peppers is also a good garnish 
  • Freeze leftover soup for another meal ( freezes well) 
  • If cooking your own black beans, make them the day before
  • Make your rice while the soup cooks or the day before

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