Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Wordless Wednesday- Professionally Carved Pumpkins

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

My neighbor is a professional pumpkin carver- 
His work is amazing! He does them all by hand!

   He has a showing Halloween week in his garage from 
    7:00-8:00 each night!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Lip Smacking Butternut Squash Soup- Instant Pot

The combination of butternut squash, sweet organic carrots, and tart green apple produces a bright orange lip smacking fall soup.

The temperatures dipped to 35 degrees last night making it truly soup weather. I hosted a family dinner for my brother in law and sister in law who were visiting us from Florida .

I made the appetizers, entree, roasted potatoes and some vegetables and my other sister in law said she wanted to make butternut squash soup.

Our appetizers included my weight watcher 1 point bagels that are so good warm out of the oven

Truthfully I am not usually a fan of sweet soups, but I figured if she brought soup, it was one less thing I had to make for our dinner group of 14!

I was blown away with her recipe. The soup was outstanding!
I loved the texture and especially the interesting spices!

I peeled my large squash in 45 seconds with this sharp
OXO Good Grips Y Peeler.
It's the fastest and best peeler I've ever used

I asked my sister in law for the recipe. She told me she googled gluten free, butternut squash soup in the Instant pot. The ingredients were a collection of savory and sweet vegetables. She found the recipe on a blog called Gimme Some Oven . Here is a link for the recipe for Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup.

I made a good butternut squash soup with apple too. Try mine as well.
Butternut squash soup with fresh Rosemary or Slow Cooker Butternut squash soup with apple

Badass Affirmations and Real Life Mindfulness- Book Reviews

The holidays are around the corner and if you are thinking about stocking stuffers, these are two pocket size books that you will get a big bang for the buck. Anyone who is into self care and self help books would appreciate these helpful uplifting guides.

I am a firm believer in taking time for self care. Prevention is the best medicine.

Badass Affirmation - The Wit and Wisdom of Wild Women by Becca Anderson is a collection of uplifting and inspiring quotes by celebrities and other well known woman like Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinman, Aretha Franklin, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Midler, Joan Baez, Margaret Thatcher etc. In addition, the author adds her own affirmations and short bio's about many of the women. The book focuses on courage, journaling, and actively using daily affirmations to build courage and self esteem. 

I really enjoyed reading the book, had a few chuckles, a few insights, and was inspired by the wit and wisdom of everyone from Madonna to Michelle Obama! It's a great book to keep on the nightstand and browse through each night for some inspiration and reminders of how other woman overcame obstacles and had the courage to come out stronger.  Very helpful and inspiring!

Great stocking stuffer and girlfriend book.. check it out!______________________________________________________________________________


Real Life Mindfulness

Becca Anderson seems to be the self help guru .  Real Life Mindfulness is one of seven small books that focus on self help and self improvement.  In this book, Becca shares meditations for a calm and quiet mind. 

The write up from Amazon: 

Spiritual self care: Real Life Mindfulness is a series of reflections that can illuminate every aspect of life. Authors Elise Marie Collins and Becca Anderson offer readers guidance on using the opportune moments between everything else in life for spiritual self care. In the same way we lovingly tend a garden, so does our soul require nourishment and attention. Your happiness quotient will soar with the practices and meditations in Real Life Mindfulness.

Control stress and anxiety: By following the suggestions in this gentle guide, you’ll be able to focus on becoming more fully awake to who you really are. In her own words, Elise Marie Collins adds, “People are overbooked, overcommitted and often feel lost and filled with anxiety. I went through this myself and found my way to back to myself through the practice of mindfulness. You can, too.” In just a few minutes a day, Real Life Mindfulness will bring you the calmness and clarity that an over-demanding schedule steals from you

My review: 
Real Life Mindfulness explains about the author's daily meditation practice, the benefits of meditation, and some interesting insights about those who meditate. In addition, the author shares a collection of quotes by famous people related to the mind and meditation. Each chapter begins with instructions for a short meditation exercise. This small book is very useful for beginning a meditation practice to relieve stress. Could make a nice gift for the holidays- another stocking stuffer.

I found both books delightful and inspiring. My only negative of the two books is that the print is  small and light. They are both small books, so I had a little struggle reading the print.

If you would like to know more about this book for yourself or a gift: 

Real Life Mindfulness: Meditations for a Calm and Quiet Mind

Disclaimer: I received these books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
In addition, I am an affiliate for Amazon .

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Creamy Parsnip Soup- Instant Pot or Not

Are you familiar with the parsnip? It is a root vegetable that looks like a carrot but is white.
It's loaded with nutrients and tastes mild and delicious especially in soup. It is sold in a bag in the produce isle of the supermarket.

I but them in the supermarket in a bag

I frequently add a parsnip to soup recipes to give a soup a little extra sweetness, but this is the first time I actually made a parsnip soup. It's a nice soothing comforting creamy soup.

I'm curious- do you eat for taste or for nutrition?- do you even consider the idea that we need nutrient dense high energy fruits and vegetables to keep us feeling energized. Do you see a correlation between the way you feel and the way you eat?

Love to hear your response -

After a little research, I discovered that parsnips are a great source of antioxidants and vitamins-and contain anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties . Parsnips provide fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin k, calcium, zinc, and vitamin C. Perhaps I should make this delicious soup more often.

As a root vegetable, parsnips pair well with other root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. The trio creates a rich satisfying fall soup that is light yet filling. If you are trying to keep your carbs a little lower, you could substitute kohlrabi ( a healthy but lower carb vegetable) for the potatoes.

Being gluten free, vegan and nut free, this soup works for a diverse group of eaters.

Creamy and light- it could be a perfect starter for your Thanksgiving meal.

I make my Potato and Parsnip Soup in the Instant Pot because the IP is so easy, and  I can't imagine going back to using the stove top- BUT you can.. !!! Follow the IP directions but just use a soup pot. ( bring to a boil and simmer covered until all veggies are soft).

This is the Instant Pot I use: Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, SautΓ©, Yogurt Maker and Warmer

This is a wonderful soup for grounding your root chakra with a blend of potatoes, parsnips and carrots- three delicious root vegetables.

Another soup that could be perfect for Thanksgiving is my vegan Roasted Chestnut Mushroom Bisque served in an acorn squash. What a lovely presentation!

Next week I will be posting my Vegan Thanksgiving Menu-


Olive oil spray or 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 cup of diced shallots ( about 3 large shallots)
3 cups of diced organic potatoes (with skin)
3 cups of chopped parsnips ( organic if you can find them)
1 cup of diced organic carrots
Cracked pepper
A few shakes of salt free seasoning ( I use Trader Joe's - 21 Salute)
5 cups of vegetable broth
4 cups of water

Directions Instant Pot or Stove Top

Saute the shallots in the Instant Pot or in a soup pot for 3 minutes, stirring. Add remainder of ingredients. Using the Instant Pot, secure the lid, close the steam valve and set to pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. When done, allow the steam to release naturally or release manually according to manufacturer's directions. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

If using a regular soup pot, add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables are soft. When done, use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

Sharing on Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post

Sharing on Deb's Souper Sunday with anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie.. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Turn Acorn Squash Into A Soup Server

If you are looking for a good idea for Thanksgiving, look no farther.
Acorn Squash and mini pumpkins make beautiful decorative serving pieces for fall holidays!

Thanksgiving vegan soup in acorn squash

Last Halloween, I scooped out mini pumpkins and filled them with guacamole and other dips.
See post on pumpkin ideas

Mini pumpkin filled with dip

This year, I am scooping out an acorn squash for Thanksgiving and filling it with my
vegan and gluten free roasted chestnut soup recipe for fall- so easy!!

Scooped out acorn squash

The acorn squash makes a beautiful edible serving piece.

acorn squash with soup inside
Roasted Chestnut Mushroom Soup - Vegan and Gluten Free 
I love the combination of the roasted chestnut soup in a beautiful acorn squash-

I use the Instant Pot for everything now - I make the soup in the Instant Pot and I steam the acorn squash in the Instant Pot- but you can still make everything without the IP. It will just take longer. See notes at the end of this post for how to make it on the stove top. 

My roasted chestnut soup serves four- so prep 4 acorn squash. 

How to prep the acorn squash
1. Snap off the stem 
2. Slice the pointed side off

3. Cut and scrape the inside to make enough room for soup
4. Freeze the insides(minus seeds) to save to make homemade broth
5. Wash the squash. 
6. Steam for 7 minutes in the Instant Pot.
7. Remove and fill with hot roasted chestnut soup
8. Eat the soup and the squash- delicious!!

acorn squash filled with roasted chestnut soup and 2 sage leaves

Stove Top Notes: How to Steam on the Stove Top vs. IP
Use a large pot and a steamer basket. Add 3 cups water, the cut and scooped squash to the steamer basket. Bring water to a boil and then reduce flame, cover, and allow to steam until squash is soft about 1/2 hour. Add more boiling water if water evaporates. 

Other Ideas for Stuffing the Acorn Squash Instead of Soup

click for recipe

1. Berry and Peach Fruit Compote

2. Gluten Free Wild Rice Stuffing

3. Cranberry Apple Chutney ( amazing) 

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Sharing on Deb's Souper Sunday with anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie.. 

Colors of Joy : A Woman's Guide for Self Discovery- Book Reveiw

A few years ago, I came across a blogger who shares many of my beliefs about healthy lifestyle. I've enjoyed reading her blog, interacting with comments, and becoming blog friends. Nancy is the author of the book Colors of Joy and the blog Colors 4 Health.

Colors of Joy

Recently Nancy contacted me to let me know about the recent  2nd printing of her book, Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss(2nd printing).  and asked if I would share it with my readers.

Nancy's book is described as " A Woman's Guide For Self-Discovery, Balance and Bliss"-

I have to admit that I love self help books and couldn't wait to review it. 

I like to think that my blog is not only about healthy food and recipes, but it is also about alternative healing ideas and inspiration.  

Nancy's book is focused on self care and discovering the joy within.

Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss is a 12 week interactive journal program. Color themed activities, affirmations, journal writing and reflection, 12 full color illustrations, and color-coded visualizations guide the reader as she discovers how to release stress, create a sense of ease, and love and approve of herself wholeheartedly.

After doing some of the exercises in her book and reflecting on my own thoughts and feelings, I began to lighten up, release tension, and feel more balanced. 

I began to take time to explore colors and the effect that they had on my mood and my well being. 

I've always believed in affirmations and positive thinking and journaling can be a very freeing experience!!

Nancy shares from first hand experience the self empowering tools that helped her get through a difficult time in her own life. You might like to take some time to use and practice the tools in this book to help yourself. 

It's an uplifting powerful book that I recommend to anyone who likes to journal, is looking for affirmations and tools to reduce stress and increase confidence, and is ready to practice simple ways to feel better.

It would make a wonderful gift or stocking stuffer for a friend, daughter, daughter in law, or even for yourself.

If you would like to find out more about her book or order her book, you can click Here:

               Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss


Our chakras ( energy centers) can get out of balance when we are stressed-  One of the many things we can do to help rebalance them is to eat food the color of the chakra..

To help balance the root chakra - eat red foods or root vegetables for when you feel un-rooted-

Beet and Orange salad

To help balance the sacral chakra - eat foods that are orange in color

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup

To help balance the naval chakra- eat yellow foods

Vegan Stuffed Yellow Zucchini boats

To help balance the heart chakra- eat green foods

Kale and Blueberry Salad with Orange Dressing 

To help balance the throat chakra - eat blue foods

Blueberry Mug Muffin 

To help balance the the third eye chakra - eat indigo foods

Peach and Blueberry Compote

To help balance the crown chakra- eat purple foods

Purple Cabbage Potato Salad 

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Roasted Chestnut Mushroom Soup

Looking for something a little different for the holidays? Chestnuts are in season, and they make a rich tasting holiday soup! It's definitely something unique that will delight your family and friends. I plan to make it for Thanksgiving!

Chestnuts taste creamy and a little on the sweet side - kind of like a mild sweet potato. Most people have probably never tasted a chestnut.

The first time I had a chestnut was on the streets of NYC around Christmastime when I was a little girl. Many street vendors roasted chestnuts then, and I believe still do today. It was a very cold winter day and my mother bought us a bag of piping hot chestnuts. I'm not sure that I really liked the taste as a little girl, but it was freezing outside and the bag of chestnuts was nice and warm.

You may know chestnuts from the popular Christmas song that begins, " Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" sung by Nat King Cole and written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel TormΓ©.
 It was originally titled: The Christmas Song. 

I recently saw bags of cooked chestnuts marked gluten free in our local supermarket. I bought a bag to make this chestnut soup.

On a side note,  one of my nearby neighborhoods is lined with mature chestnut trees. The beautiful chestnuts fall to the ground starting end of September and many people ( mostly ethnic peoples) come by and collect them. I never realized the prickly sacs that fall to the ground contain four beautiful chestnuts inside. I had seen them on the ground for years and finally asked one of the collectors what it was!! See my post with photos of the trees and all the chestnuts. 

Chestnuts are a true nut with a higher carbohydrate content and lower fat content than most nuts. They contain a good amount of potassium, vitamin C, B-vitamins, and minerals.

The chestnuts in this gluten free soup are paired with mushrooms and seasoned with bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. It makes a rich creamy soup that is traditionally enjoyed during their season from October through December.

See my previous post on purchasing roasted chestnuts.

olive oil spray or 1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup sliced celery
1 and 1/2 cups sliced onion in half moons
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 leaves of sage
1 sprig rosemary, stripped off the stem
1 sprig of thyme , stripped off the stem
5 cups of strong vegetable broth
1 3.5 ounce bag of roasted chestnuts.
Cracked pepper

Spray the bottom of the Instant Pot with olive oil spray or use olive oil. Add onions and saute for 2 minutes stirring. Add celery and mushrooms and continue to saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add carrots, sage, rosemary, thyme, roasted chestnuts and vegetable broth. Close the lid and the steam valve and set to pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. Release steam manually according to manufacturer's ingredients. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.    
Just to get you in the mood!
Mel Torme and Judy Garland Sing the popular song!

Sharing on Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post

Also sharing on Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie