Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Minestrone Soup

I'm lying here sick in bed (maybe that snowball fight wasn't such a good idea), and even with two sweatshirts, two comforters, and a pair of fake Ugg boots, the only thing that seems to help the chills is a hot bowl of  minestrone soup. My family loves minestrone, and I think I've tried a billion different varieties from my mother's kitchen experiments to the many Italian restaurants that dot New England. I got this recipe from the Vitamix cookbook, but I changed it due to lack of materials.

 2 cups chicken broth
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tsp minced garlic
4 baby carrots
1 pinch: salt, pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 can beans
Drizzle of olive oil
1/2 onion
1/2 zucchini
Optional: cheese

I tossed everything but the beans, olive oil, onion, and zucchini in the blender and increased from Variable 1 to High. Meanwhile, I drizzled olive oil in a pan and turned the heat on medium-high. I then chopped the onion and zucchini, and tossed them in the pan with one of Emeril's spice packets (it's essentially salt and pepper with a few other spices I don't have around the house, but I'm sure cooking the veggies in olive oil would be just as good). I drained half a can of Pinto beans, and by that time the base in the Vitamix had started to steam, so I turned it off. This was a 5 minute process. I then poured everything into a pot on the stove and waited for the soup to boil. I topped off my serving with some shredded cheddar cheese.

Taste score: 8/10
Likes: I really liked this. I used Hunt's crushed tomatoes with basil, and it gave the soup a hearty, tomato-ey flavor without tasting like a senior citizen's dinner. The recipe called for raw onion, which has too intense of a bite for me, so I'm glad I cooked the onion on the stove.

Dislikes: I would have liked a little more texture. The recipe calls for canned corn, which I don't have. I think next time I'll chop up the carrots and add them to the onions and zucchini on the stove. I also wish I had Parmesean cheese. 

Nutrition score: 9/10
 Pretty good. The broth adds sodium, but 1 cup of soup is under 100 calories, has 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of fat. Check out this recipe for minestrone with kale to add some Vitamin A. I'll have to try it next time!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken Broccoli Spinach Pesto

Okay so I obviously stole this image. This meal was so good I completely forgot to take a picture! Basically I used the pesto sauce recipe and threw some boneless, skinless chicken in a skillet. When the chicken was fully cooked, I threw in some baby spinach and blended some frozen broccoli (not more than Variable 4) into a chopped heap of veggies.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

When I went to summer camp and they served hummus, I had no idea what it was. I definitely had no idea it was made of chickpeas! But ever since then I've always wanted to make my own hummus. I had some red pepper left over in the freezer from Chicken Tortilla Soup a while ago and thought I'd give it a shot.

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 red pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 dash salt

I threw the red pepper slice on the George Foreman which I don't know was really necessary but seemed to mellow out the flavor. Toss all ingredients into the Vitamix and start on Variable speed, working your way up to High. Blend for a minute or two, so that the mixture is one uniform color. I had to add a few more drops of olive oil to keep it moving. Serve with pita, snap peas, carrots, etc.

Taste score: 8/10
Likes: I will definitely make this again! The red paper was not too overbearing and the texture was creamy and smooth. Usually hummus is made with tahini but I couldn't find that in the grocery store and this recipe came out great without it.

Dislikes: It's annoying to grill one little slice of red pepper. I'll probably just try garlic next time. Also, unless the hummus is in a sealed container, it starts to harden.

Nutrition score: 9/10

Chickpeas get glowing reviews. They're high fiber, folate and manganese-laden little gems. They help prevent heart disease, lower cholestrol, and stabilize blood sugar.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 peeled sweet potato 
1 tsp vanilla

Cook sweet potato in the microwave for 5 minutes on high with about 1/4 cup water. Dump ingredients (including the water) in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 5, pushing ingredients down with the tamper. Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Taste score: 9/10
Likes: Yumm these are better than cheesy biscuits and better for you too. They were moist enough so I didn't even have to spread them with butter. I'm guessing they're probably best right after they come out of the oven. I will definitely make this a regular breakfast recipe.

Dislikes: I probably wouldn't make this in a Vitamix again, since the batter gets stuck around the blades. And I might try to blend in the skin because it has so much fiber. Trying out a wheat flour version instead of Bisquick would add more fiber as well.

Nutrition score: 7/10
Sweet potato has lots of vitamin A and C. Bisquick isn't the most nutritional batter mix, but it's super easy!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Vitamix Salad Series: Strawberry Spinach Salad

It's finally strawberry season so I decided to try out this classic picnic recipe. Nothing makes spinach taste good like fresh strawberries!

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t salt

Dump ingredients in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 7, then blend for 20 seconds. Serve with baby spinach, chopped fresh strawberries, and almonds.

Taste score: 9/10
Likes: We used to have this in the summer at the peak of strawberry season. I remember eating this recipe at a friend's BBQ because it was the first time I ever had spinach that I liked! I don't know if the dressing would be that good with any other combination. This was the perfect blend of fruity, sweet, and leafy crunch!

Dislikes: Again, the vinegar is a little overwhelming. Since I only had apple cider vinegar, I'd probably use white if I had it. 

Nutrition score: 9/10
Spinach is a superfood full of vitamin K and it's really good for your brain, your eyes, and your bones. Strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C. The sugar content of the dressing isn't ideal, but it's preferable to fatty ranch or creamy italian dressings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Faux Fried Zucchini

Maybe I should make this blog, 100 ways to use Fiber One breadcrumbs! We used to have garden fresh zucchini in the summers, sauteed in a pan with oil and breadcrumbs. Even though it was one of the only ways I would eat this green summer squash, I know that frying vegetables don't necessarily make them good for you. Since I always eat the crispy ones anyway, I tried popping them in the oven.

I used the same Fiber One mixture from the Faux Fried Chicken recipe:

I cut the zucchini into thin slices and drizzled them with olive oil. I then added a few shakes of Parmesan cheese and some salt to the breadcrumbs, dipped the zucchini in the mixture, and baked at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Some took longer to crisp than others depending on the thickness of the slice.

Taste score: 9/10
Likes: This is even better than the oil drenched version, and that is a rare statement! Like I said, I always like the crispy ones, and the zucchini slices were perfectly golden brown. I had this as an after school snack, and I wasn't hungry hours later (probably because the combination of zucchini and the breading packs in a lot of fiber!).

Dislikes: I had to cook them in two rounds, because some burnt before others were fully done. But lesson learned- I can't wait to make this again!

Nutrition score: 10/10

Zucchini is full of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and folate. It's also low in calories and sugar. Aaand I paid a grand total of $0.52 for one zucchini. What's not to love?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coming soon...

Olive oil and parmesan sautéed asparagus

Oven baked onion rings

I have officially added onions to my list of eatable vegetables. Asparagus was on sale this week so I grabbed a bunch and wondered if it would share the same fate. Vitamix lovers, you are in luck!