Roasted Carrot & Tomato Soup | National Soup Month

Hey there, Chicago! I hope you’re staying as warm as you can. Today is one of those days where I feel extremely fortunate that I work from home. The “feel like” temperature this morning was -51 degrees and letting the pups out I felt like I had turned into a human icicle. This is dangerous cold so I genuinely hope you all are staying warm and avoiding the cold as much as possible if you’re experiencing this polar vortex. On the bright side, this is perfect soup weather! Nothing warms you up more than a screaming hot bowl of soup, something I’m going to miss in the gorgeous 60 and 70 degree Texas weather in a few days. Fingers crossed my flight gets out tomorrow night!

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Sweet Potato Soup | Farmers Market Series

Happy Monday! I hope your week is getting off to a productive start. It’s been awfully cold around these parts lately. Dinners have been all about soup in my house. Not only is soup easy to make and a one-pot-dish, it’s comforting and warming which is all you need on a cold night. The sun starts setting around 3:30 and is down completely by 5 which is crazy but I love it. I’m still adjusting to the early nights and trying not to go to bed by 8PM but I’m all for the arrival of winter. It’s the season of bundling up, fires in the fireplace, hot cocoa, Christmas music, and comfort food. You can add this recipe for Sweet Potato Soup to your collection of cozy cold weather soups too! It’s a good for you but still stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup…

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Lentil Soup | Around the World with Recipes

Hailing from the Greek islands and peninsula comes this lentil soup recipe. Lentil soup is one of those recipes that you can dump almost anything into as long as you have one main ingredient...lentils. It’s 100% vegetarian and even vegan being completely plant-based, as long as you don’t add any cheese. There will be no judgement from this side of the web, that’s for sure. Before you knock this soup because it’s vegan, give it a chance. The lentils are hearty and give the soup a meaty consistency plus all the veggies add tons of great flavor.

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Lentil soup is a great opportunity to empty the vegetable drawer in the fridge. When it gets to the point where there are only two carrots, a few celery stalks, a half of a squash, and a few other odds and ends, plan to whip up a pot of this soup. As long as it fits in the pot and you have a good liquid to solid ratio, there is no wrong answer. I went the traditional route with a bit of a winter twist. Onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and fennel join a small acorn squash, lots of fresh herbs, tomatoes, and a hint of lemon. The lemon zest gives the dish a brightness in lieu of the wintry vegetable mix. A few handfuls of spinach go in at the end for an extra boost of color and veggies.

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Lentils are a nutrient packed legume. They are known to help with heart health, lowering cholesterol, digestive health, stabilizing blood sugar, increasing energy, weight loss and they’re high in fiber (source: MindyBodyGreen). They add density to any dish making you feel full faster and longer. Vegetable broth keeps this dish vegetarian and vegan but if you only have chicken stock, that will work just as well. Honestly, as long as you have lentils in this dish, it’s considered lentil soup. Super easy, right? Make sure to be careful when you’re cutting up the squash. I did a mean job on my left index finger while I was cutting it up. Let’s just say that I needed a band-aid to cut off my circulation for two whole days.

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Lentil Soup
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Carrots, diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
½ Fennel Bulb, diced
1 small Winter Squash (I used acorn), diced
1 tsp. Oregano, finely chopped
½ tsp. Thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Basil, chopped
¼ tsp. Lemon Zest
1.5 cups Lentils
5 cups Vegetable Stock
15 oz. Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Spinach

1 - Heat the oil into a soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute until softened, about 12-15 minutes.

2 - Add the fennel, squash, herbs and lemon zest. Stir for a minute or so until fragrant. Add the lentils, vegetable broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are tender and the veggies are cooked.

3 - Add the spinach and cook a minute or so until wilted. Serve.

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Cheezecake Without The Guilt

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Recently, I was invited to a pre-launch tasting event for Daiya Cheezecake. Something I may or may not have mentioned on the blog before is that I'm technically not supposed to have dairy. Clearly, if you've seen any of my food posts, you know I don't listen to my doctors (I do not encourage similar behavior). I won't get into the nitty gritty but basically, my body is sensitive to dairy, not lactose-intolerant, just sensitive. How do you tell a dairy lover to never have dairy again though? It's devastating! Back when I was told this, there weren't a whole lot of non-dairy dairy options. Instead of milk, there was almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk. Gross. Now, we have Lactaid. Holy hell is this a gift from the gods. There's also now brands like Daiya who commit themselves to creating dairy-free options for people, like me, who aren't supposed to have it that also taste good.

Let's be honest. I love cheesecake. When I received an invitation for a private tasting of Daiya's new "cheezecakes" that are dairy and gluten free, I said yes but I was also very hesitant. I basically went in thinking I wasn't going to like anything. Daiya is the perfect example of why you should not judge a book by it's cover. I was ready to give these stuff the boot and it turns out, everything is incredibly delicious. I was able to try all four of their cheezecake flavors as well as several appetizers that they either sell or that were made with one of their products.

Chocolate Cheezecake What Daiya Says: Attention, chocoholics: This one is for you. Boasting a signature blend of cocoa and carob powders, the luxurious chocolate flavor is unlike any other. It's decadent, rich, indulgent - and once you've tried it, you'll wonder how you ever celebrated an occasion without it.

What I Say: The chocolate cheezecake tasted fabulous. It was incredibly rich and very smooth. I felt it was more of a thick mousse than cheesecake though. The texture was very light and airy, not dense like you'd expect for cheesecake. This one ranked in at #4 for me.

Chocolate Cheezecake

Key Lime Cheezeacke What Daiya Says: Bold and festive, Key Lime Cheezecake is like a trip to the tropics - but so much sweeter, and without the jetlag. Tart and tangy meets smooth and creamy to create a uniquely delicious flavor that will (much like a beach getaway) have your guests reminiscing for days.

What I Say: I am not a key lime person at all. I generally don't like the flavor. It's too tart for me most of the time. This flavor blew me away though. I honestly didn't think I'd like it but I loved it. The flavor was light instead of overpowering with the lime and the graham cracker-like crust was phenomenal. This one ranked in at #2 for me.

Key Lime Cheezecake

New York Cheezecake What Daiya Says: This one's for the purist - or for the topping enthusiast. Let the smooth, silky texture and classic flavor of New York-style cheesecake act as a blank canvas for whatever fresh fruit, syrup or sprinkles tickle your fancy. Or, you know, just enjoy it as is. Either way, we bet you'll soon believe in love at first bite.

What I Say: Of all the cheezecakes, this one was most like the real thing. If you had me compare real cheesecake with this cheezecake, I would not be able to tell the difference. It was dense and creamy, just like regular New York cheesecake. The lady serving this flavor encouraged me to try a piece on its own and then try one with some toppings. If you need to be told a second time to have two pieces of cheezecake, you've got to be crazy. I absolutely loved this flavor. It was my #1 pick of the four.

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Strawberry Cheezecake What Daiya Says: With its sweet, fruity flavor and eye-catching hue, pretty-in-pink strawberry is poised to steal the show. Bring it to your next dinner party and you'll have everyone asking which fancy, schmancy bakery you stopped at on your way home.

What I Say: The strawberry station was my favorite presentation of all four cheezecakes. It was served alongside pink champagne, my favorite! It was so pretty and welcoming. The cheesecake itself was pretty dense in texture and consistency. The strawberry flavoring was pretty sweet. This kind of reminded me of a strawberry yogurt. It was quite tasty but not one of my favorites. It came in at #3 out of the four varietals.

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So those are the cheezecakes. I was overall impressed. In terms of favorites, New York and Key Lime were my top choices. Strawberry and Chocolate, although good for being non-dairy, were not my favorites. As I mentioned earlier, there were also a few appetizers. I managed to get a photo of three out of the four at the event. The Mini Grilled Cheeze Bite with housemade rye, Daiya Swiss and pickled ramp relish was amazing. This was my favorite appetizer at the event. I had about six of them. The Micro Quinoa Cheeze Burger with Daiya Pepperjack and caramelized onions was also fantastic. The Grilled Asparagus & Daiya Smoked Gouda Quesadilla was really tasty but the texture was a little weird for some reason. I wasn't sure if it was the cheeze or the asparagus but it threw me for a loop. They also served one of their pizzas which I loved. I'd definitely get that in the store.

Quinoa Burgers

I am on a mission to cut the foods that my body reacts negatively to out of my life. I will never 100% get rid of dairy but I have eliminated 75% of it. I'm not buying non-dairy alternatives or lactose-free alternatives. I'm also watching my fructose intake since that seems to have a negative trigger as well. Just for general health, I'm looking towards more ancient grains for carbs but am fairly new to this world so if you have suggestions, please let me know. Other than that, have you tried Daiya products before? What do you think? Is this cheezecake something you'd consider?