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Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup

Last week, when the thermometer on our deck registered 90°F, I craved soup. It didn’t make any sense, but I wanted a warm tomato-based soup loaded with vegetables. The fact that I needed to use up some farmers’ market finds that were just a tiny bit past their prime was only a bonus.

The recipe below is a specific instance of a more general soup-making technique:

  • Sauté aromatic vegetables like onions, garlic and celery in olive oil.
  • Add seasonings like salt and pepper.
  • Add crushed tomatoes and vegetable or chicken stock.
  • Add firm vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and/or root vegetables.
  • Add softer vegetables such as yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, string beans and leafy greens.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs.

I’m trying to stay away from starchy vegetables and beans at the moment, but feel free to throw in peas, corn or drained and rinsed canned beans when you add the softer vegetables.

I like my vegetables to be on the crunchy side; if you prefer yours to be softer, cook each stage for 5 or 10 minutes more than indicated below. You really can’t screw up this recipe.

The result will be a delicious, nutritious, satisfying bowl of soup. Even if it’s ridiculously hot outside.
Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup

Adapted from VB6 by Mark Bittman

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
garlic pepper
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (add more if you want a thinner soup)
1 small head cauliflower, separated into florets
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 yellow squash, halved lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
4 stalks of kale, stems removed and leaves finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to look translucent, about 5 minutes. Add salt and garlic pepper. Stir.

Add tomatoes and stock. Stir to incorporate well. Add the cauliflower and carrots, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the bell pepper, squash and kale. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When vegetables are as soft as you like them, the soup is done. Spoon into bowls and garnish with basil.

Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 153 calories, 3g fat (1g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 594mg sodium, 31g carb, 10g fiber, 16g sugar, 8g protein

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Fennel and Kale Slaw

Kale and Fennel Slaw

I recently attended the Taking Control of Your Diabetes® conference in Raleigh, NC. TCOYD is a non-profit group that strives to educate and motivate people with diabetes and their loved ones to take a more active role in managing their health care. This delicious Fennel and Kale Slaw was served for lunch at the conference.

I love TCOYD’s philosophy. Education, access to medical professionals who care for people with diabetes and aggressive management are all good things.

However, I found the attitudes of some speakers at the conference to be at odds with my own personal philosophy of diabetes management.

I prefer to handle my diabetes first with food, then with exercise, then with medications. If insulin ever becomes necessary, of course I’ll add that to my regimen. But I believe that any successful diabetes management strategy starts with food. Some of the speakers seemed to think it’s okay to stick with a diet based on processed foods and artificial sweeteners as long as you take several medications too. That may be the best treatment option for folks who aren’t willing to make dietary changes, but it isn’t the best approach for me. I was disappointed there weren’t any speakers at the conference advocating a more integrative strategy for diabetes care.

During the last 15 years, different ways of eating have worked at different times in my treatment. At first, I followed the American Diabetes Association guidelines and used the exchange system. This worked beautifully and allowed me to lose 35 pounds. My A1C numbers were close to that of a non-diabetic. I ate lean protein, low-fat foods and greatly reduced the amount of sugar in my diet. I still ate a lot of restaurant meals and processed foods, however.

I started taking metformin when diet alone wasn’t working and eventually added glipizide too. I didn’t like that glipizide occasionally caused my blood sugar to drop too low, so I investigated whether I could make additional changes to my diet that would eliminate the need for it. I was also diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease around this time. I moved to eliminate wheat from my diet and tried to embrace a vegan approach.

These two changes essentially made my fatty liver get back to normal; however, I suspect because I was substituting grains and legumes for meat, my A1C went up. Way up. Most plant-based protein sources also contain carbs. This isn’t true of animal-based proteins.

Now, I’m off glipizide and my diet is composed primarily of organic vegetables, meats, fruit, oils (olive and coconut), nuts and seeds. I occasionally have non-wheat grains such as rice and quinoa and dairy products such as local goat cheese, but for the most part I’m off grains and dairy. If I go out to dinner, I may splurge and have brown rice or corn tortillas, but I still try to avoid wheat. My blood glucose numbers aren’t exactly where I want them to be yet, but they are finally moving in the right direction. The jury’s still out on how adding meat back into my diet has affected my liver.

Diabetes treatment is a lifelong, ever-changing process that can be very frustrating at times. Once you think you have it all figured out, something changes and you have to readjust. I personally would rather eat whole, organic foods that I cook myself than rely on a bunch of pills that may have unintended side effects. As always, your mileage may vary.

Now, back to that slaw. The carrots lend sweetness, the fennel is crunchy, the kale is earthy and the citrus juice (I used key lime) is tart. This slaw combines great flavors and textures and is vegan to boot. Folks at my table for lunch who were terrified of kale and had never eaten fennel loved this dish.
Kale and Fennel Slaw

Fennel and Kale Slaw

Adapted from Taking Control of Your Diabetes® (TCOYD)

2 small carrots, shredded (about 2 ounces)
1/4 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (about 2 ounces)
2 large stalks kale, stem removed and leaves finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon or key lime juice
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, fennel and kale. In a small bowl, whisk juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad and toss.

Makes 2 servings
Per serving: 73 calories, 4g fat (1g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 199mg sodium, 10g carb, 4g fiber, 3g sugar, 2g protein

Nutritional Analysis: Kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is a particularly good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Fennel adds Niacin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Dietary Fiber.

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Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

As I flipped through 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney, this recipe for a quinoa salad featuring grapefruit and avocado spoke to me. The CompostMaster had picked up a bag of key limes at our food coop and I thought their juice would be perfect in the dressing.

I had a package of coconut crystals (coconut sugar), which bills itself as a “low glycemic sugar alternative,” so I decided to use it instead of the natural cane sugar called for in the recipe. It worked beautifully to balance the tartness of the grapefruit and key lime juice.

I garnished the salad with raw pumpkin seeds. Nutritional dynamos, pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, zinc and omega-3 fats. Studies show the seeds may help regulate insulin and provide protective benefits for the heart and liver as well.

In a hurry? Move the quinoa from the cooking pan to a bowl for faster cooling.

WARNING: Grapefruit can interfere with the effectiveness of statin drugs. If you are currently taking a statin for cholesterol management, replace the grapefruit in the recipe below with 2 oranges.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney from Robert Rose for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

Adapted from 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney

1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained, cooked according to package directions and cooled to room temperature (I used a mixture of red, white and black quinoa)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (I used key limes)
2 teaspoons coconut sugar (raw coconut crystals)
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and each section cut in half
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/3 cup Pickled Pink Onion Relish
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

In a small bowl, combine mint, lime juice, coconut sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil in a steady stream. Add grapefruit, avocado and onion relish. Toss to coat.

Divide quinoa among 6 serving plates. Spoon dressing mixture over each plate and garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 316 calories, 19g fat (3g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 424mg sodium, 33g carb, 5g fiber, 6g sugar, 6g protein

Nutritional Analysis: 19g may seem like a lot of fat per serving, but most of it is the “good” kind. If you want to reduce the fat, eat less of the avocado or take a smaller portion size.

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