Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

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Welcome Spring! and its amazing crazy weather, hehehe… here in Austin, Tx its rainy, cloudy and around 60 degrees that feels like 50 degrees. So I think a vegetable noodle soup, with a bright green hue, light, creamy and bright will lift up any cloudy weather… If you live in a part of the world where the weather feels accordingly with the Spring season, hey! this Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup it’s also for you since it can be served warm or cold.

Describing this soup is a dreamy pleasure,it is creamy, fragrant, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, green, calorie friendly and easy to make. The basil, ginger,  and coconut give this soup an aromatic spring flare. The raw zucchini noodles add bite and texture to the soup. For me, it always has been interesting to enhance one flavor by combining different cooking variations of it. Raw, steamed, roasted, sautéed, two or three variations in one dish with the same ingredient. I believe that by maximizing one subtle ingredient like zucchini you can achieve maximus dept of flavor, textures, temperatures and add lots of character to the dish by focusing on “the” one ingredient.

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Six ingredients joining one pot, and the fun task of making zucchini noodles. By the way, have you made Zucchini noodles before? It is awesome. This little apparatus, called the vegetable spiralizer it is the bomb!. As you know, I’m not very fond of uni-taskers in the kitchen, the only uni-tasker gadget I owned and loved was the Julienne peeler, until now. (which by the way you can use if you do not own a spiralizer) This vegetable spiralizer belongs into the FUN category, it transforms any meaty root vegetable or fruit into the most beautiful curly noodles. I’ve used, zucchini, carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers, rutabagas, green papaya, apples, pears, uff! you name it. It’s really easy to use and clean up. If you have heard of it, yes it is awesome! (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, what you are reading it is my honest opinion, in fact I did not even bought this beautiful red spiralizer ha! It was a Christmas present from my friend Andrea…Thank you Drea! I love it! Hehehe.)

So, dear friends, whether you are experiencing a warm or cold Spring; Begin by make this delicious soup and enjoy the Spring ride!

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Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

Serves 4

2 lbs. zucchini.  I combined half dark green zucchini, half mexican calabazita. Use what is best available.
1 -16 oz. Can Organic coconut milk
¼ small onion
1 garlic clove
4 large, fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4-6 Cranks of fresh ground Black Pepper

Preparation:

1. Reserve ½ of a large green zucchini for the raw zucchini noodles. Cut the rest of the zucchini into cubes.
2. Make the zucchini curls following the directions of your spiralizer, or use a Julienne peeler. Set the curls a side.
3. In a medium size pot, add the zucchini cubes and the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cook for 20 minutes until the zucchini is fork tender but not mushy.
4. With an immersion blender, a blender or food processor, pure until smooth. At this point add bit of water, or vegetable stock to adjust to desired thickness. Keep warm, and serve a couple of ladles into each bowl, add a handful of the raw zucchini noodles on top. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, salt pepper. Enjoy!

Note: You can add little tofu squares, corn kernels, queso panela or mozzarella little squares if you want to make it into a complete lunch or dinner… This soup makes for a fabulous beginning of a meal, for lunch or if you dare for brunch…put an egg on it!

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Enjoy!

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Spinach Ambrosia Salad with Dijon-honey-grapefruit vinaigrette

 

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Semantically Ambrosia is a powerful word, the food or drink of the immortals, Greek goodess, sweet luscious juicy fruits, sweet honey smells, something that will bring  youth, pleasure, and health. In my crazy fantasy food world I imagine Homer, Penelope, Aphrodite, and Sappho and their ambrosia offerings of sweet and incredible nectars.  But the enchanted elixir got shattered when I Googled “ambrosia salad” and the record sounded broken. To my surprise his ambrosia salad it is an abominable concoction from the 50’s. Where all the Greek Gods must of been under the marshmallow influence, along with cans of syrupy fruits like cherries red no.5, pineapple chunks of yellow no.5 undistinguished cubes of fruit matter, bright green grapes and that fluffy component all tied up into a sweet coma. That’s what I call fulminating love…(Pepé Le Pew style hehhee)

Being lost in translation and trying to rescue the origins of the word,  this salad came to my mind. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of “no wimpy salads” and a lot of encouragement to try and thrive while you feed not only your body, but the enticing act of eating consciously present and awake.

Althoug, I can not promise all of this matters in just one salad, I will assure you that this is not a wimpy one. In fact it does have the Ambrosia elements, fruits, smells textures, sweet, salty, acidic, juicy, creamy, crunchy all the components that make a salad a memorable meal, and the kind of salad you will crave the next day and perhaps the next weekend too. Spinach, strawberries, avocado, grapefruit segments, cucumbers, salty, creamy feta cheese, and crunchy nutty and meaty walnuts, all carefully combined and drizzled with a simple three ingredient Dijon-honey -grapefruit juice vinaigrette.  Needless to say the salad is healthy, energetic, nutritious, beautiful  and delicious.

This Spinach Ambrosia Salad with Dijon-honey-grapefruit vinaigrette  is what you need to welcome Spring and feel like a greek goddess, Enjoy!

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Spinach Ambrosia Salad with Dijon-honey-grapefruit vinaigrette

Serves 2 Greek goddess or 4 whimpy mortals.

4 large handfuls  baby spinach /4-5 cups approx.
2 cups strawberries cut into halves
1 large pink grapefruit
1 avocado Hass cut into slices
1/2 English cucumber cut into slices
1/4 cup Feta cheese crumbled
1/4 cup toasted walnuts coarsely chopped.
Sea salt flakes
Fresh Black pepper

For the Dijon-Honey- grapefruit juice Vinaigrette

2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoonful honey
4 tablespoons grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil/ or extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches salt
4 cranks fresh black pepper

Preparation:

1. Before you start prepping , place a large plate onto the freezer. It is always best if you remember to chill your salad plates so your salad stays fresh during the meal.
2. Peel grapefruit and make grapefruit segments, by cutting in between each membrane. Make sure you use a bowl underneath wile you cut the segments, to catch all the juices. Once you have all the segments, squeeze all the membrane to get all the rest of the grapefruit juice. (See photo below)

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3. Make your dressing by placing all the ingredients into a mason jar, or any jar with a tight lid shake until well combined.

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4. Start arranging your salad plate. I like to built layers, starting with spinach, cucumbers, avocados, grapefruit segments, and strawberries, drizzle a tablespoon of dressing. Build at least 2-3 layers or until you use up all the ingredients. Drizzle the rest of the dressing on top. Sprinkle some sea salt flakes, and 2-3 cranks of black pepper.

Note: Make ahead for lunch, dinner, or if you are entertaining, reserve the dressing, and drizzle it before serving. 

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Enjoy!

Ambrosia: noun am·bro·sia \am-ˈbrō-zh(ē-)ə\

1.(classical mythology) the food of the gods
2. anything that tastes and smells delicious and fragrant
3. is used metaphorically to mean anything so fragrant, so delicious that it seems divine —

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Rancho Gordo Corona Beans with Spicy Cilantro Pesto

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Beans are the perfect food to cook during this seasonal transition. You know, those days when the weather shows a great deal of indecisiveness . Cold-warm-windy-rain-sunny all in one week. What to cook? Beans. Whether you add them to vegetable soups, tacos or salads they are always there for you as a quick route to make great meals. The trick to it is a little simple plan, a slow cooker, and patience (my little grasshopper).
Beans don’t like to be rushed. They like to soak over night,( preferably) and they like to cook at a steady low, low simmer almost like one bubble per 3 seconds. They like to be cooked in plenty of water lightly seasoned. Usually a piece of onion and one dry or fresh chile is all they need. Salt should always be added at last once the beans are cooked and are soft enough to absorb the salty flavor. They also love clay pots, slow cookers, cast iron pots, Dutch ovens, or any heavy pot that retains even heat and keeps them well snuggled.
As you can see once you have these four factors down it is extremely easy to make a great batch of beans. I always make a big pot of beans and freeze small batches. I can’t tell you enough how much of a life saver this is. Even if you forget to take them out of the freezer, It will take 10-15 minutes to defrost in a microwave or a conventional pot with a lid on. Frozen beans keep for up to four months. I make a batch every month and a half and it works great for the two of us.

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Now let’s talk about what kind of beans to cook. For those who have not yet read our “about” page, Beans are my favorite grain and my ultimate last supper. Being from Mexico, beans are a huge part of our everyday diet. So, I am always looking for the ultimate bean, fresh and of good quality, that cooks evenly and has great flavor. I finally found it a few years ago when In the search for a bean that tasted like the ones home, I ran into Rancho Gordo. The first time I saw this brand was at wholefoods. Unfortunately they do not carry them any longer, but the good news is that you can buy them online. Rancho Gordo is not only a brand, Steve Sando owner, and grower is dedicated to find and save heirloom bean grains. He is part of Seed Saver Exchange where he rescues and grows beans and grains of the Americas.
He is recuperating our American diet roots. From North America, Mexico, Central and South America. Me being Mexican, knowing any one with this kind of mission goes straight to my heart.
My favorite beans Ayocote negro, Mayocoba, Midnightblack, Rosa de Castilla, Royal Corona uff etc…
If you are a bean fan like me, you can enroll into the Rancho Gordo Bean Club. Yes, you read that correctly, they will send you an amazing bean allowance 4 times a year. Also, you can enjoy some of the rare bean varieties. For more details click here: Rancho Gordo website

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As you can read I’m a 100% bean lover.
I hope you enjoy this recipe these Corona beans are a special type of bean, they are huge almost the size of a prune. In flavor they are buttery, potatoey and very starchy. These beans are easy to pair with any meal or a satisfying main dish for a meatless Monday. This bean does require the pre soaking overnight, it’s a must so plan ahead. Once they have been soaked, they cook more evenly and plump up.
I hope you like the recipe, which I feel is more like a pairing since it is so effortless.
Get into the bean club soon! Enjoy!

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Rancho Gordo Corona Beans with Spicy Cilantro Pesto

1 pound Rancho Gordo Royal Corona Beans pre soaked overnight.
1/2 small onion
2 quarts of water

Sea salt to your taste.

For the Spicy-Cilantro-peanut pesto:

1 small Bunch of cilantro about 2 packed cups of chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons roasted salted peanuts
2 large garlic cloves
1-2 Serrano peppers
The juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup Robust green California extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 cranks fresh black pepper

Preparation Method:

1. Pre soak the beans over night.
2. In a Dutch oven pot, clay or cast iron pot, place the soaked beans and cover them with water up to 2″ above the beans level. Add the 1/2 onion cut unto quarters, and if you like add a dry chile, any mild kind will work, for extra flavor. 
3. Bring to a boil and lower the temperature to a very slow simmer, cover the pot with a lid. Check them every 30 minutes, and stir gently occasionally.
4. If the beans need a bit more water as they cook, be sure that the water you add is boiling hot, to avoid the beans from splitting, add 1/2 cup or a cup depending on how broth do you want them to be. The Beans will take about 2 hours to cook, it can take a bit more or less upon your stove,  freshness and quality of the beans. Like I said before Beans do not like to be rushed, slow and low simmering its best. Salt its is always added at the end, so the skins do not get tough. Once the beans start showing signs they will be ready add the sea salt. For one pound I add about two teaspoons. This is how they should look: They are tender, keep their shape, broth is a little cloudy you can easily squeeze a bean  between your thumb and index and it will resemble mashed potatoes.

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I usually cook them the day before I plan the meal, or during the weekend if I’m gonna be at home. Also it works if you place them before dinner time any day of the week and you would not even notice, by the time you had your dinner, clean the kitchen, read a book or watch the news,  they will be cooked and ready for the next day.

5. For the pesto, place all the listed pesto ingredients in food processor, pulse until a coarse paste consistency. Set aside.

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6. When you are ready to eat bring the beans to a simmer, turn off the heat and right before serving add 2 tablespoonfuls of the pesto directly to the pot. Stir and serve warm, with a few ladles of the beautiful green broth.

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7. At this point you can add some roasted red peppers, goat cheese, or queso fresco, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few cranks of fresh black pepper. Serve with rustic crusty garlic bread. enjoy!

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How you bean?

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Matcha Date and Almond Smoothie

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Loong time no see my friends! We apologize for the post delay, we have been dealing with some household chaos. I’ve been out of order for about 10 days, rough times I’ll tell you Back issues can be really painful I heart for people who have chronic pain. Thanks to Ian and his caring I’m feeling much better these days. In the meantime I hope you had time to make all the soup and all those recipes that you wanted to make last year , but you didn’t, because you can’t, but you want to, and you will and today is a good day to start. I hear you…. all this time in bed and I wanted to cook so bad, and I couldn’t. I made an awesome 3 1/2 minute soup that tasted just like it 3 1/2 minutes of big effort and glory! For me it tasted like if it had been simmering for hours. I guess when you are sick you just want some warm comfort. Any way this smoothie made my morning one of these sicky days it just put a smile on my face it felt like I was having a healthy dessert in a glass.

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Let me tell you all about this green creamy smoothie. The matcha and dates are a combination made in heaven; the sweet caramel dates play so well with the bright intense green tea flavor. The supporting cast: the almond milk, a couple of tablespoons of almonds and of course for texture and body a frozen banana. A small squeeze of lemon to brighten all those flavors, all goes to the blender….bleeeehhtzzz, blitzzzz, a little more blitzzz blitzzz …then pour it in a chilled glass and add a straw or two if you are willing to share… Enjoy!

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Matcha Date and Almond Smoothie

Makes 1 large non-sharable smoothie or two skinny glasses for a little afternoon snack.

1 cup almond milk
1 medium frozen banana peeled.
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder cooking grade
2-3 medjool dates / remove the pits. Start with 2 dates and from there decide if you want it more sweet, add another date.
1 small squeeze of lemon
4-5 ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients on a blender, bleeeeeeeeehhtzzz.
Pause then pulse Blitzzzz, blitzzzz just to make sure the dates are completely blend in.

Serve on chilled glasses with a straw.

Enjoy!

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