Meal Prep

[All the] Soup for You!

Summer in Boston is a magical and beautiful time. The flowers are out, Charles River is bustling, and all the patios/roof decks are open. If you’ve ever been to New England in the summer, you might think that 80 degrees might not be too bad but HOLY CANNOLI the humidity can be a KILLER! You walk outside and immediately start sweating. And forget about keeping that cute hairstyle…frizz central!

Being a soup person (cue Seinfeld Season 7 Episode 6), I was always a little bummed when winter ended and fresh soups were harder to come by. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of Gazpacho – the chunky kind, don’t be puréeing that shiz – but there’s gotta be more to the chilled soup game, right?!

Enter my most recent project: Finding amazing, healthy, chilled summer soups. I’ve spent the last couple weeks testing out various recipes and fruit/veg combos and I have to say…YUM. My body has thanked me for all the vitamins and my taste buds have been having quite the party!

Get on the soup train…Larry Thomas approved.

Soup #1: Chilled Cucumber Soup from Garlic & Zest

While I usually steer clear of softer tofu, the addition of it in this recipe added a beautiful silkiness to the texture. The soup itself is light, airy and refreshing. I whipped this beauty up in less than 25 min as part of my Sunday meal prep and brought it for some lunches during the week. It keeps nicely in the fridge for a couple days, just add the toppings day of. This soup can also be used as a nice appetizer.

I followed Garlic & Zest’s recipe pretty closely, with the only difference being the Pico de Gallo since I didn’t have a jalapeño at the time. Instead, I topped with cilantro and cucumber slices. I bet the little kick the pepper gives would have been a nice addition though.

Soup #2: Cold Carrot Soup with Jalapeño Coconut Milk from Spiced Blog

Looking for a summer soup that will fill you up and keep you satisfied? Look no further. This carrot soup was thick, creamy (without adding any cream – yay!) and had just the right kick. Adding the jalapeño coconut milk on top really made a difference. The pieces of jalapeños not only added crunch but also paired wonderfully with the touch of cumin to add a little heat.

I did make a couple modifications to the recipe. I swapped the chicken stock for reduced sodium vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. I also used Trader Joes Reduced Fat Unsweetened Coconut Milk. This worked for the soup, but I would recommend getting the full fat version if you want to make the jalapeño milk topping. Mine was watery, where I was hoping for a bit more thickness. Cooking is about experimentation. There’s a beauty in making mistakes and trying new things. Lesson learned.

Soup #3: Quick Healthy Zucchini Basil Soup from Feasting at Home

OK if you want to know what food heaven tastes like…make this soup. We’re talking about a silky smooth mixture of farm grown zucchinis and basil that is completely vegan. No milk products needed. This incredible vegetable provides texture that’ll blow your socks off – keep the Lactaid in the cabinet.

I followed Feasting At Home’s recipe quite closely, save for the garnish of yogurt/sour cream. Instead, I topped with basil leaves. I also used 1 cup each of water and veggie stock, instead of 2 cups of either. This recipe is legitimately on point. There’s nothing I would change about it. It is a great soup to eat warm, but I also packed it up in containers for a cold work week lunch. If you have the opportunity to hit up a farmer’s market before the end of August, the zukes will be phenom. I got mine from Plainville Farm in Hadley, MA.

Soup #4: Pea and Mint Soup from Not Enough Cinnamon

This soup is nothing short of two peas in a pod…OK cheesy I know, but totally had to make the reference. Petite peas are used in this recipe instead of regular green peas because the adorable petite variety adds a sweeter flavor and creamier texture. Because peas have such a short growth season, purchasing frozen petite peas reduces the starchiness you will get from the legume.

If you are not a pea person, this soup is not for you because the taste is like a pea party in your mouth. The hint of shallot and mint adds some depth to the flavor profile. It’s a refreshing and smooth soup that can be served both hot or cold (although I prefer it cold). I’m also big on adding a kick to my food, so I experimented with chopped jalapeños (seeds removed) and it gave a slight heat and crunchiness to each bite that tied all the flavors together nicely.

Soup #5: Yellow Tomato + Corn Gazpacho from What’s Cooking Good Looking

It just wouldn’t be summer without farm stand tomatoes and corn on the cob. So when I came across What’s Cooking Good Looking’s gazpacho, I knew I had to try it. I kept to the recipe and honestly wouldn’t change a thing. The colors from all the produce were so vibrant, and the fresh crisp flavors did not disappoint.

I packed these up for weekday lunches, which was quick and easy. My only piece of advice would be to add the avocado and micro greens day of. Then sit back and watch as your “another deli sandwich” co-workers look on with envy.

Soup #6: Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho from Spiced Blog

What better way to celebrate summer than with the ultimate thirst quenching staple; the watermelon?! Ever since I was a kid, I can remember enjoying cold watermelon slices while my toes were dug deep in the sand. Not only is the beautiful fruit full of nutrients and antioxidants…it’s down right delicious!

August is when we find watermelon at its prime. It’s sweet, refreshing and the perfect twist to a summer gazpacho. Using the Spiced Blog’s recipe, I made a couple tweaks based on personal preference.

First, I used a shallot in place of red onion as shown in the recipe. Shallots tend to carry a sweeter flavor when eaten raw, compared to its red counterpart which are more on the spicy side when not cooked. Shallots also bring a hint of garlic (and who doesn’t love garlic), which is always welcome in a dish of mine.

Now, I don’t know about you but I am a HUGE fan of spicy margaritas. One of my girlfriends, Jacki, has the best spicy marg recipe and I’m literally drooling just thinking about it. So in honor of her smashing bev, I diced up a jalapeño, discarding the seeds, and added to the blender. Coupled with the chili powder (which I would only add a touch of), the addition of the jalapeño married deliciously with the watermelon and added that heat that I love oh so much.

Lastly, I wanted to balance out the heat so I didn’t start sweating during lunch in the office. Toss in a couple mint leaves and not only will the herb calm the peppers but it also aids in digestion and stimulates the mind.

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This project has been as enjoyable as it has been delicious. I’ve had so much fun experimenting with various produce and seeing what heavenly concoctions they can create. I’ve also proven to myself that soup isn’t just a cold weather comfort food. There is a world outside of the traditional gazpacho, and it is yum-my (don’t worry G, you’re still a fav)!

What cold soups catch your eye every time the temp starts to rise??

Bon Appétit!

Meal Prep

Wedding Shower Quinoa

 

It’s wedding season – Let the festivities begin! Lisa, one of my best friends, (@danceworksboston @danceworksnyc @thefarmhome) is getting married this July up in Vermont and I am over the moon excited for them! Yesterday, Lisa’s sisters hosted a Guys & Gals bridal shower that was fit for the betrothed Syracuse alum. Think, food truck pizza, Pastabilities hot tomato oil dip, local craft brews and anything Wegmans. Needless to say, it was one for the books.

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Beautiful Bide in the middle!

With all that tasty goodness though, and knowing our group of friends, it’s always nice to mix in some clean, whole foods. So the minute I heard there was a need for a grain or pasta salad – I was all over it. Enter the delicious Quinoa and Carrot Salad with chickpeas, golden raisins and walnuts.

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Quintupled the recipe for the party

The great thing about this salad is that it is best when made ahead and allowed to sit overnight in the fridge. Hello weekly meal options! It has the nuttiness of the quinoa, crunch of the carrots, and perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. No need to save this only for special occasions. Break it out during your weekly meal prep!

Quinoa is more than just a cute little grain. With its high protein, vitamin, calcium and fiber content it is a “does the body good” powerhouse. More than you can say for that sad white rice that, let’s be honest, nobody really likes to eat or cook. And great news for Celiacs out there – quinoa is gluten-free!

I got this recipe from Floating Kitchen and made a couple tweaks to satisfy my taste buds. It is great as a side dish, especially to salmon, and can also be an absolutely wonderful salad for lunch. Hope you’re hungry!

In sweat and health,

Buda

Quinoa & Carrot Salad

Serves 4 – 30min (plus time to cool quinoa)

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  • 2/3 cups dry quinoa, red or multi-colored
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (from about 1-2 carrots)
  • 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Cook the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to maintain a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 15-17 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let the quinoa stand covered for 3-5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the quinoa has cooled, toss it with the carrots, chickpeas and raisins.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the quinoa salad, tossing gently to combine.
  4. Upon serving time, stir in the walnuts and top with the chopped parsley.
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Bon Appétit!

 

Meal Prep

Crazy for Couscous

For so long I put off cooking as much as I could using the excuse that I had no counter space. Living in a one-bedroom apartment in Boston’s Back Bay, my “kitchen” is cute, but more of a closet than anything else.

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Awwwe

I was intimidated by the idea of meal prepping at first, and it’s normal to feel that way. The key is finding versatile ingredients that you actually enjoy eating. After that, it’s all about creativity and a little research. Fun, right!?

For those of you just starting out on the meal prep front, here’s some first hand advice I have for you:

  1. Search for recipes with ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes. For example, greens, roasted veggies, tomatoes, eggs, avocado, beans, grains.
  2. Invest in several single serving Tupperware.
  3. Set aside time on Saturday to do your meal planning. On Sunday, pour yourself a glass of Cupcake Sauv Blanc (because…YUM), put on your favorite tunes, and get cooking!
  4. Prepare in moderate bulk – nobody likes spoiled food.
  5. Prep dinner accompaniments such as veggies and grains ahead of time. As a pescetarian, I like to prep my protein the night of to keep it fresh.
  6. Post-It Notes are your BFF! Assemble all lunches and leave notes on those that require day-of additions, such as olive oil or tuna.

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Want to know what I’m totally crushing on at the moment? Curried. Couscous.

Now, curry usually isn’t my thing, but this couscous recipe is legit to die for. For best results, I would eat day of preparation (great for a Sunday meal). When reheating later in week, add a touch of water to bowl or saucepan prior to firing up the microwave or stovetop to bring the moisture back to the party.

Try it and thank me later!

In sweat and health,

Buda

Curried Squash Couscous (1,001 Low Fat Veg Recipes Cookbook)

(Serves 3-4 – less than 45 minutes)

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Ingredients:

¼ cup sliced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1½ cup diced roasted butternut squash

1-1½  tsp curry powder

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup walnuts

1 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth

2/3 cup Israeli couscous, dry

1 cup thinly sliced kale

S&P to taste

  1. To roast squash: Preheat over to 425 degrees F. Dice butternut squash into cubes, place in single layer on baking sheet and cover with single layer of olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin (to taste). Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes until browned but still firm. Remove from oven and set out to cool. NOTE: Can make this the day before and keep in fridge until needed.
  2. Sauté onion & garlic in olive oil in large sauce pan over medium heat until tender. About 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add squash, cook until lightly browned. About 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in curry powder, raisins, walnuts and broth. Heat to boiling.
  5. Add couscous and kale, stirring with a fork.
  6. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until couscous is tender and broth is absorbed. Above 5 minutes. Season with S&P to taste.

 

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Bon Appétit!