Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cold Soups

When I was younger I never cared much for cold soups. The whole concept was simply beyond me. I remember being invited over to a friend's house for dinner as a teenager and being horrified when her mother served us cold tomato soup. Thankfully, my food preferences have changed and cold soups are now some of my staple dishes during summertime.

My favorite cold soup recipes come from Nava Atlas' cookbooks. If you're short on time, want something healthy to eat, and require lots of variation in your diet, I strongly recommend that you check out two of Nava's books, Vegan Express and Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet. In recent weeks I have made some of my favorite cold soup recipes from these books:

Cold Tomato and White Bean Soup
from Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet

This soup is one of my all around favorite recipes. It takes less than 5 minutes to make, is fat free and Eat to Live friendly, and tastes absolutely delicious. You can see the recipe by clicking here. The recipe calls for stewed tomatoes but I use Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted tomatoes instead. I also use canned organic cannellini beans which have no salt added, or cook my own, as they taste much better than their non-organic counterparts.

Cool White Bean and Cucumber Soup
from Vegan Express
Cucumbers, radishes, and dill combine to make this soup amazingly cool and refreshing, not to mention beautiful. I love the colors in this soup. Photos just can't do it justice.

Nearly Instant Thai Coconut Corn Soup
from Vegan ExpressCreamy and delicious, this soup will satisfy you if you're palate is searching for something a little sweet and a little spicy. You can see the recipe by clicking here.

With all this talk of healthy soups, I must confess I have had a bit of a sweet tooth lately, so I'm ending this post on a very sweet and sugar sprinkled note. Ever since going vegan over two years ago I have managed to totally abstain from one of my favorite cookies: snickerdoodles. For whatever reason, my cravings got the best of me in recent weeks. Fortunately Celine at Have Cake Will Travel came to my rescue with a portion controlled recipe for Snickerdoodles, (click here for the recipe). Enjoy!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cool Eats for Hot Days

It's sooo hot out. Every year I dread the months of July, August, and September. I absolutely hate the heat and humidity and try to avoid cooking over a hot stove at all costs. So, what do I eat? In the upcoming weeks I will feature some of the recipes that have been helping me stay cool, and keeping my taste buds satisfied this summer.

Edamame Dip with Crudites, Wasabi Cucumbers, and Bird's Nest Sushi

A few months ago my mother told me about this recipe from Epicurious, Edamame Dip with Crudites, and I waited way too long to try it. Per my usual ways, I reduced the amount of oil called for in the recipe to only one Tablespoon, and had no problem with the end result. This dip is so delicious that I made two recipes in one week! I just could not get enough of it.
While I was over at Epicurious, I decided to look around for some other recipes to go with the one above, and much to my excitement found Cucumbers with Wasabi and Rice Vinegar as well as Ice Tray Sushi. I made the cucumbers exactly per the recipe instructions which gave me a wonderful excuse to go out and buy a Zyliss Mandolin, something that I have been wanting for a long time. Despite having wasabi in the recipe, the amount is so small that it doesn't burn your mouth or clear your sinuses. The cucumbers are refreshingly crisp and delicious and I know I will be making them many times again this summer.

The Ice Tray Sushi recipe was an inspiration for the little Bird's Nest Sushi I created. I used short grain brown rice and prepared it as if I was going to make sushi. Then I took an 1/8th cup dry measuring cup, packed it 3/4 full with cooked rice, used my thumb to make an indentation in the top, then turned over the measuring cup, tapping it onto a piece of wax paper taped to the countertop until the rice nest fell out. Then I flipped the nest right side up to fill it. For the Bird's Nest Sushi filling I diced green, red, and yellow bell peppers and then combined the diced peppers with 1 1/2 Tbs vegan mayo mixed with 1/4 tsp sesame hot chili oil. These would make great appetizers or a great snack if you're craving the taste of sushi but don't have any nori on hand to make nori rolls. For other filling ideas, check out these sushi filling recipes on The PPK, by clicking here.

In closing, an obvious way to stay cool in the summer is to have someone else do the cooking for you. A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Grass Root Organic Restaurant in Tampa. If you are ever in the Tampa area, I highly recommend you visit this place. The atmosphere is absolutely delightful and the food was nothing short of incredible. For my entree I had the Parmesan, which I still can't believe was vegan, it tasted so crispy and delicious! In the photo below you will see a side of house salad and garlic pasta in the background. For dessert I had their famous Key Lime Cheesecake, a must try if you go. I have to say that the texture was nothing like regular cheesecake, it was actually better. Unfortunately , the photo below doesn't quite do it justice due to the dim lighting, but I just had to feature it because I think this was one of the best pies I have ever tasted in my life!
By the way, if you live in the Lakeland, FL area, the owners are opening a restaurant there, too, so no more driving all the way to Tampa to get your fill!
Stay tuned for more cool summer eats in upcoming weeks!