Spicy white bean, sweet potato and kale soup

“Well the weather outside is frightful”….ok ok I won’t start singing winter wonderland songs but it’s really quite true lately.  It’s been chilly and rainy for days with the exception of one nice day…where is the nice weather?!! So I decided to give in and cook myself something warm and comforting to cozy up on my couch with and embrace this crappy weather….and what’s better than soup?!! I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe on the blog, because for me, soup is EXTRA hard to pay attention to what I’m putting in it.  It gets a little of this and a little of that, and oh, no wait, a little more of that…soup is about tasting as you go and tweaking it to perfection by building the flavors.  But this was so simply delicious, I will do my best to explain it all 😉 and please, tweak as you go too! Start with little dashes and add more if you like the way it’s going, it’s a great way to introduce new flavors to your palate.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato, and kale soup

The basic ingredients:

2 TBS EVOO

½ white onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

About 2 cups of organic kale

1 medium sweet potato, diced into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)

Organic vegetable broth, low sodium (I used about 3/4 of a quart container)

Seasonings:

Salt and pepper

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Ground cayenne red pepper

 

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium and cook the onion until translucent
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the kale and sautee until wilted
  • Add the beans and sweet potato and stir to combine
  • Pour the vegetable broth over everything until you have a little more broth than you would want if you want it soupy, or a little less if you want it thicker.  The broth will cook down and thicken up some so keep that in mind.
  •  Now I add my seasonings.  Like I said, dash and taste and figure out what works for you.  With the cayenne I started out with just a little bit and built it up to make sure it wasn’t too hot.  The cardamom and cinnamon, I did a couple dashes of each since I love those flavors together, especially with sweet potatoes! And as always, season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring up to a boil, cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, check your seasonings again.  You want a balance between the sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne.  Adjust as needed and ENJOY!!
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Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

A little while back I had the pleasure of ‘talking food’ with one of my sister’s closest friends Emily and her husband Andy.  It’s not every day that I meet people who get excited about vegetables like I do, (and I completely plan to steal from their garden this summer 😉 haha).  But tonight’s recipe was inspired by them.  While we were swapping food favorites and looking through old pictures of dinners (because I’ve been taking pictures of my food long before I ever had a blog… I’m weird I know) Andy came across one that he immediately wanted the recipe for.  If you know me, or have read my blog before, then you are well aware that I am not good at recipe writing.  I also rarely make the same thing twice, partly for that reason.  However, I can always decipher what ingredients I had used in something and frankly, it’s more fun sometimes to use the same flavor profile but find new ways to re-invent it!!  This is a twist on the dinner that they saw and it came out delicious!!

Baked squash stack with white beans and stewed tomatoes

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow squash

1 medium zucchini (you can swap these two depending on which one you want more of; I just happened to have these quantities so I went with it!)

1 can organic cannellini beans (no salt)

1 can organic stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and transfer them to a small bowl.  Using a fork, mash the beans into a chunky paste.
  • Also, drain the stewed tomatoes and put them in a separate bowl.  (squash give off a lot of liquid when they cook so you won’t need the extra from the tomatoes)
  • Slice your squash and zucchini into thin rounds, keeping them each in separate piles
  • Spray a baking dish (mine was 8×8) with non-stick spray and lay out an even layer of your first yellow squash in the bottom of the dish.
  • Season the layer with garlic powder and Italian seasoning
  • Take ½ of the mashed cannellini beans and dot it on top of the layer
  • Take ½ of the stewed tomatoes and using your fingers break them apart it into chunks, spreading it on top also.
  • Next, layer your zucchini and repeat the same seasoning steps followed by the remaining cannellini beans and stewed tomatoes.
  • Top with the final layer of yellow squash
  • Season with Italian seasoning and drizzle with 1 TBS of extra virgin olive oil to allow the top to brown up in the oven
  • Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the squash are tender and cooked all the way through, test this by sticking a fork in it! (the bake time will vary depending on how thick or thin your rounds are and also the size of your baking dish)
  • Broil for a few minutes at the end to brown the top

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Overhead

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Sideview

I also think this dish would be amazing sprinkled with some fresh grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (but since I’m dairy free 😦 you’ll have to let me know!!!)

Daily Don’t Forget: More Bananas!

organic fair trade bananas

Bananas are a staple fruit in my diet and they have a ton of health benefits.  Here’s a few of my faves!

  • Not only do bananas give you energy because they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, but studies have shown that eating a banana can actually lift your mood!!
  • They are also a fantastic source of potassium which is great for an active person like me because it can prevent muscle cramps after working out.   It also regulates your circulatory system and helps keep a proper balance of fluids in your system.
  • They’re a good source of iron, vitamin C and B6
  • They’re easy to digest and their fiber content (about 3g in one banana) can help regulate your digestive system.

BUT! I have a bit of a reputation for being a banana snob…I’m super picky about what degree of ripeness I will eat a banana.  Not too green, bright yellow, very little brown spots, if any…it’s a little neurotic haha

What this means is that a lot of the bunch gets too brown before I can devour them!

While making banana bread with your over ripe bananas can be one good way to utilize them, there’s no way I can make, let alone eat, an entire banana bread each week.

MY Solution: Freeze them!

Once the bananas start getting too ripe for my taste, I peel them (<– important step), cut them in half or thirds depending on the size, and just toss the pieces into a Tupperware container to be frozen.  It’s that simple.

My favorite way to use a frozen banana is in my morning green smoothie.  By adding a frozen banana to the mix, the smoothie instantly gets that thick, creamy, frozen texture that is hard to get by using ice cubes.  It’s delicious.

Another simple way to use a frozen banana is to make banana ice cream!!  You just blend the banana with some almond milk and literally…..voila!  You can jazz it up too by adding dark chocolate chunks and/or peanut butter, or by adding different berries, whatever your imagination brings!

So next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up some bananas, and don’t hunt for the small bunch! Because don’t forget! you now have a quick simple solution for the ones that get too ripe!!