March 31, 2012

Lentil Spinach Burritos

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These are a great change-of-pace from bean burritos. I've been making them for years and they rank up there as one of our favorite go-to meals. They're flavorful, healthy, easy, and always satisfying. The leftovers heat up great as well. If you love lentils, you might want to check out the Lentil Orzo Soup too!

Vegan, gluten-free (with gluten-free tortillas)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 oz. baby spinach (oftentimes I double this)
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
4-5 tortillas
Salt/pepper

Directions
Cook lentils: pour 6 cups water and lentils in a saucepan. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
While lentils are cooking, dice onion and mince garlic.
In a large skillet, saute onion, garlic, 1 tsp cumin, and oregano on med-high for about 7-8 minutes.
Reduce heat to med-low. Add cooked lentils, tomatoes with juice, roughly chopped spinach, 1 tsp cumin, and salt/pepper to taste. Heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spoon the mixture onto tortillas, top with fresh spinach. Roll up tightly, tucking in one or both ends.

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March 29, 2012

Fruit Smoothies

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We've been making these smoothies for years now. It's such a refreshing way to get a wide variety of nutrients. Trader Joe's is a great place to stock up on frozen fruit. Strawberry and mango are our favorites, but we also sometimes add blueberry, raspberry, or pineapple. We think bananas are a must-add to any fruit smoothie, and kefir is a great probiotic and protein boost. I also tend to add a lot of flaxseed to our smoothies since it mixes right in and you can't even tell it's there.

Ingredients
Frozen strawberries
Frozen mango chunks
1-2 bananas (great way to use up overripe ones)
Ground flaxseed
Kefir (we like strawberry flavored)
Apple juice

Directions
Simply mix all ingredients well in a blender. Enjoy!
Play around with different fruit combos and see what you like the best.

March 28, 2012

Black Bean Tempeh Tacos

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Tempeh is a wonderful substitute for ground turkey/beef. Make these your own with the toppings you love. They're great wrapped in burritos, tacos, and as the filler for taco salad.


Vegan, gluten-free (with corn tortillas)

Ingredients
8 oz. tempeh (I use organic 3 grain from Trader Joe's)
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 quantity taco seasoning
Whole wheat, corn, or tortilla of your choice
Toppings of your choice: salsa, cheese, lettuce, sprouts, corn, guacamole, cilantro, etc.

Directions
Cut tempeh in half and steam for 10 minutes. (*This step can be omitted but I've read it helps to remove a "bitter" taste.)
In a skillet over medium heat, saute garlic and onion for 1 minute.
After tempeh cools, crumble and add to skillet. Cook until slightly browned, about 8 minutes.
Add taco seasoning, black beans, and 1/3 cup water. Turn heat down, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add roma tomatoes, a bit more water if it's dry, and cook for 5 more minutes.
Spoon into tortillas and sprinkle on your favorite toppings.

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March 25, 2012

Vegetable Fried Rice

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This recipe is great because of it's versatility. It can be used as a general guideline for whatever vegetables are in season. Asparagus, mushrooms, corn, broccoli, snow peas, mung bean sprouts, bell peppers... so many options and combinations. It's also a great way to use up leftover rice. Try it with some Egg Drop Soup if you're looking for a full Asian inspired meal.


Vegan (omit eggs), gluten-free (with gluten-free soy sauce)

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked basmati brown rice, or 4 cups cooked rice
1 block tofu
2 eggs, beaten
2 baby bok choy
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 large carrots
6 green onions
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
Sesame oil

Directions
Rinse rice well in cold water and cook according to package directions.
While rice is cooking, prepare tofu and veggies. Gently squeeze out moisture and cut tofu into small cubes. Chop bok choy, mince garlic, dice carrots, and slice green onions.
Cook eggs: place wok or skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. sesame oil. Pour in eggs and scramble, until slightly under-cooked. Set aside in a bowl.
Cook tofu: increase heat to med-high, add 1 tsp. oil. Add tofu. Cook until slightly browned on all sides, stirring little, about 10 minutes. Remove and place in bowl with eggs.
Add 1 Tbsp. oil to wok/skillet. Add garlic and carrots, cook 1 minute.
Add cooked rice and stir to evenly coat with oil. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice begins to brown.
To the rice, add soy sauce and bok choy. Cook for a couple minutes.
Add peas, green onions, egg, and tofu. Stir and cook for a few minutes until heated through.

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*Note about the rice: certain types of rice may make this come out a bit soggy. I've read it helps to use already cooked, cold rice if you can. (This can also be a great time saver if making the rice ahead of time or the day before.) We haven't noticed much trouble with using basmati brown rice, rinsing it with cold water before cooking.

March 23, 2012

Laundry Detergent

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Making your own laundry detergent may seem like a daunting task, but don't be fooled! The folks over at DIY Natural created an easy and effective recipe. It saves money, reduces unnecessary chemicals, and is better for the environment. We've been using it for quite some time now and it seems to work great. Check out my simple photographic tutorial below:


Ingredients
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1 bar soap (Ivory)

Directions
Grate one bar soap (as finely as possible) in large bowl.
Add one cup washing soda, and one cup borax.
Stir to combine for about 5 minutes.
Store in container.

To Use
Use 1 Tbsp per load (or 2 Tbsp if you have a large washer).

I usually make a couple batches at a time and store in a larger container. One batch makes enough for 32-64 loads depending on how many Tbsp you use.

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About the ingredients
Bar soap - found Ivory for about $0.44/bar at Target
Super Washing Soda - found a 55 oz box in the laundry aisle at Fred Meyer for $3.49
Borax - found a 76 oz box in the laundry aisle at Target for $3.49

Well stocked, larger grocery stores usually supply all these ingredients.

March 21, 2012

Clover Sprouts

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Looking for a lettuce replacement on wraps, sandwiches, and burgers?
Maybe some extra pizzazz in your salad, coleslaw, or stir-fry?
Enter... CLOVER SPROUTS!


{What You Need}
Seeds, water, and a growing device. 

{Buying Seeds}
An important note to growing sprouts is using organic seeds. If you can't find a local supply, I recommend ordering online from SproutPeople


{Growing Devices}
We use this sprouter from SproutPeople and it works wonderfully (especially for clover since the seeds are tiny). You could also use a glass mason jar with a small wire mesh top.


{How to Sprout}
Measure 2 Tbsp. seeds into sprouter, rinse well. 
Soak seeds in cool water for 8-12 hours.
Rinse and drain sprouts every 12 hours for 3-5 days. Set the sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight, and be sure to drain sprouts thoroughly after each rinse. That's it!


Check out SproutPeople's clover sprout page for an even more detailed look.


Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas

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Get ready because these will rock your world! My husband and I can't get enough. Before now, it never occurred to me to make my own enchilada sauce but I'm so glad I did because it's really simple and can be easily tweaked to your own taste (i.e. adding your own favorite seasonings, or some cayenne pepper or ground chipotle if you like a kick.) I highly suggest trying it yourself because it really adds something special to this dish, taking it above and beyond what's already amazing deliciousness. Even the leftovers are incredible. If you're looking to make this dish even healthier, simply decrease the amount of cheese, or use Daiya. (Update: try the vegan version of these with avocado and quinoa!) We love to pair this with Cilantro Lime Rice.


Vegan (with dairy-free cheese)
Gluten-free (with gluten-free flour and corn tortillas)
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
{For the sauce}
3 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Salt/pepper

{For the enchiladas}
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups corn (I used frozen, thawed)
6 oz. fresh baby spinach
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
3 cups shredded 3 cheese blend (or pepper jack, etc.)
8 large flour tortillas

Directions
Make the sauce: in a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add tomato paste, flour, 2 tsp. cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder. Cook 1 minute, whisking. Whisk in broth, bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, and cook until slightly thickened about 8 minutes. Salt/pepper to taste, and set aside.

Saute the spinach in olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until slightly wilted.
In a large bowl, combine beans, 2 cups cheese, spinach, corn, green onions, 2 tsp. cumin, and cilantro.
Preheat oven to 375. Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking dish, and pour a small amount of the sauce to coat the bottom.
Generously fill tortillas with mixture, roll up tightly with ends tucked in, and place seam side down in dish.
Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas, coating evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese on top.
Bake about 20 minutes, and garnish with cilantro and/or green onions (optional).

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Freezer Instructions
A sweet reader of mine, Kara, tested out this recipe as a freezer meal and found it worked great. Here are her instructions:

"I made the enchiladas as you outlined above, stopping before adding the sauce and cheese to the top. I froze the enchiladas and the sauce separately. Thawed the sauce in the fridge overnight, then when I was ready to bake, I heated the sauce slowly in a saucepan - whisking helped keep it smooth. Then poured the sauce over the frozen enchiladas, added some cheese, and baked @ 400, covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes."

Awesome. Thank you Kara!



Looking for more enchilada deliciousness?


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March 19, 2012

Couscous Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers with a Mexican flare! I was originally going to use rice to fill them which is more conventional, but a box of couscous staring back at me from the pantry convinced me to try that instead. Great change of pace, and loved the texture it brought!

  
Ingredients
4 organic bell peppers
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup whole wheat couscous
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheese blend, or other
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste

Directions
Cook couscous: boil 1 cup salted water in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add couscous, stir, and cover. Let sit 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff.
Saute onion, garlic with salt over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. 
Add black beans, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder. Combine and heat for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove stem, and clean out inner ribs with a spoon.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine cooked couscous, cheese, and black bean mixture.
Fill each pepper half, lightly packing down, and place in a 9x13 baking dish.
Add a little water to the bottom of the pan and cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove foil, add additional cheese on top if desired, and bake for 5-10 more minutes.


March 16, 2012

BBQ Tempeh Sloppy Joes

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If you've never tried tempeh before, this is a great recipe to introduce you to this awesome food. Get ready because these sandwiches really live up to their name - they are sloppy to the max! My husband says he's going to start eating them open faced with a fork. Not a bad idea. Although I can't help but think your fingers will be left with no BBQ-y goodness to lick off when you're done :) Whatever your method of consumption, enjoy this tasty remake!


Vegan, gluten-free (with gluten-free buns)

Ingredients
8 oz. package tempeh (I use organic 3 grain from Trader Joe's)
1 cup BBQ sauce (I use Bold & Smoky Kansas City style from Trader Joe's)
1 green bell pepper
1 small onion
1/2 cup vegetable broth
4 hamburger buns

Directions
Crumble tempeh in a bowl. Add BBQ sauce and let marinate for at least 15 minutes, more if you have time.
Meanwhile, dice onion and bell pepper.
Saute onion, bell pepper over medium heat in a large skillet for 10-15 minutes or until soft.
Add BBQ tempeh and broth. Mix well. Bring to simmer, cover, reduce heat, and lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pile onto hamburger buns and enjoy!

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March 14, 2012

Chocolate Oat Balls

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* See the updated page here! *

Time for a treat! Ohhh, but there's a trick. Despite their chocolatey appearance and taste, these are mostly packed with oats, flax, almonds, and sunflower seeds. But you would never know! Great for an energy boost or on-the-go snack. My husband and I absolutely love these. I make them a few times a month, usually doubling (and sometimes tripling!) the recipe.


Ingredients
{This makes a small batch, about 6-8 balls}
1/4 cup agave/honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds, crushed
1/8 cup ground flax seed
1/8 cup sunflower seeds

Directions
Melt peanut butter and honey in a pan over medium heat.
Add remaining ingredients.
*Note: to crush whole almonds, place them in a ziploc bag on a cutting board and crush with rolling pin.
Stir with spatula for a couple minutes to combine until chocolate thoroughly melts.
Remove from heat and let sit in pan at least 10 minutes to cool and harden a bit.
When it cools enough to touch, mold into balls. They will harden further as they sit for a while.
We store ours in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Can you believe all this healthy goodness is hidden in these tasty little morsels?

March 12, 2012

Lentil Orzo Soup

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A thick, hearty soup great anytime of the year. I've made this so many times since it's one of our favorite soups (if not our #1 favorite!) Packed with nutrients, it's always nourishing and satisfies our hunger. I've also made this with bulgur in place of the orzo, and it's fantastic that way too. If you like this, you might want to check out the Lentil Spinach Burritos. It's like this soup wrapped up in a burrito! Mmm...

Vegan, gluten-free (with gluten-free orzo or substitute quinoa/rice)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup orzo
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
15 oz. can diced tomatoes (oftentimes I double this)
2-3 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
4 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt*, 1/2 tsp. pepper
*reduce salt if not using low sodium broth

Directions
Place stockpot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic, carrots, and cumin for about 8 minutes.
Add broth/water and lentils. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.
Simmer with lid tilted about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
Add orzo and tomatoes with juice. Simmer 10 minutes or until orzo is cooked.
Add spinach, salt/pepper, and garlic salt. Let heat through for a couple minutes.
Season to taste with additional salt/pepper if needed.

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March 10, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad

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*See the updated recipe here!*

This salad is simple, yet phenomenal. To really get the full effect, you must try it with Marshall Field's tomato balsamic vinaigrette. It's a salad/dressing combo we crave very often!


Gluten-free, vegan (omit feta)

Ingredients
Baby spinach
Strawberries, thinly sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Feta, crumbled
Candied nuts (optional)

Directions
Lightly toss spinach in a bowl with dressing.
Place on plates and top with onion, strawberries, feta, and walnuts if using. 
Drizzle a little more dressing on top.

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{Print Salad and Dressing together}


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Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette

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*See the updated recipe here! *

This amazing dressing comes from Marshall Field's cookbook. It's an absolute must-try with their strawberry spinach salad. Hands down one of my very favorite dressing-salad combos!

Vegan, gluten-free
Makes just under 3 cups dressing - cut in half if desired

Ingredients
2 large roma tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Directions
Combine tomatoes, garlic, shallots, vinegar, and mustard in a blender and puree until smooth.
With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream to make an emulsion. Add the salt/pepper.
It can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.


March 8, 2012

Greenchiladas

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*See the updated version here*

I didn't snap a very good picture of these, but don't let that deter you because these guys are GOOD. I created this recipe looking for something unique to fill enchiladas smothered in delicious salsa verde. Cannellini beans, edamame, corn, and onion make up the bulk of the filling.


Ingredients
1 can cannellini beans (white kidney), rinsed and drained
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
2 cups shelled edamame (fresh or frozen)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp diced green chiles (I use mild, fire roasted hatch chiles from Trader Joe's)
12 oz. jar Salsa Verde
8 whole wheat/corn tortillas, or tortilla of choice
Mexican shredded cheese
3-4 slices provolone or pepper jack cheese

Directions
Place skillet over medium heat. Saute onion 5-8 minutes.
Add cumin, garlic, green chiles and cook 1 minute, stirring.
Add corn, edamame. Saute for another couple minutes.
Add beans, salt/pepper to taste. Stir to combine and turn off stove.
Preheat oven to 325. Distribute the mixture evenly down the center of tortillas. Top with shredded cheese, then roll up tightly tucking in both ends.
Place enchiladas seam side down in a lightly sprayed 9x13 inch pan. Coat with salsa verde.
Place in oven for 15 minutes. Remove and place provolone or pepper jack strips on each enchilada.
Return to oven for 10 minutes.

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March 7, 2012

Pesto Mushroom-Lover Pizza

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The mushrooms, pesto, and feta/mozzarella makes for a tasty combination. I also love to add tomatoes and top it with fresh basil when I have it. Of course the pizza dough and pesto can be homemade if you prefer, but using prepared is a great time-saver when that pizza craving hits.


Ingredients
7 oz. pesto (try homemade!)
20 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 onion, sliced
Prepared wheat pizza dough (I used Trader Joe's)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Feta cheese
Flour for sprinkling

Directions
Let dough sit on floured surface for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute mushrooms and onion with salt, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475.
Note: we use a cast iron pizza pan and prepare it with a sprinkle of cornmeal.
Roll out dough and place on pan. Add layer of pesto.
Add mushroom/onion mixture, squeezing out moisture with a slotted spoon.
Top with mozzarella, then feta.
Bake for about 15 minutes, adjusting time as needed based on your oven.

If the season is right, fresh basil is wonderful to add right before serving. Play around with different cheeses and mushrooms to find the taste you love!

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March 6, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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This is a great use of quinoa I came across from Vegetarian Times. Even the leftovers heat up wonderfully (call us crazy but we actually think it tastes even better the next day after the flavors mingle for a while.) It does take a little longer to prepare than most meals, so make sure you have the time. Definitely worth it to us!


Gluten-free, vegan (use dairy-free cheese)
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

Ingredients
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. fresh baby spinach
3 carrots, grated (1 1/2 cups)
3 or 4 large bell peppers
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
Two 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican or pepper jack cheese

Directions
Rinse and cook quinoa according to directions. Meanwhile, prepare veggies.
In a very large skillet, saute onion for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Add cumin and garlic, saute 1 minute.
Stir in spinach, drained tomatoes (pour tomato liquid into bottom of 9x13 baking dish). Cook 5 minutes.
Stir in black beans, cooked quinoa, carrots. Heat for a few minutes.
Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt/pepper.
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise (remove inner ribs with a spoon). Fill each pepper with heaping amount of quinoa mixture, packing it down, and place in baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.
Uncover, sprinkle peppers with cheese. Bake uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.
Drizzle with pan juices before serving.

March 5, 2012

Splashy Potatoes

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Credit for this tasty concoction goes to my mother-in-law. If I can recall correctly, she named it splashy potatoes because of the "splash" of color from the spinach and tomato on the white potato backdrop. It's perfect for quick & easy weeknight dinners. And my husband loves to bring this to work for lunch the next day. There aren't specific measurements for this recipe so you can use however much you need based on servings needed and personal preference.


Ingredients
Potatoes (smaller, gourmet type work best)
Abundant baby spinach (LOTS because it cooks down)
Fresh roma tomatoes
Feta
Olive oil
Garlic salt
Optional: pine nuts are a wonderful addition

Directions
Boil potatoes until tender.
While potatoes are boiling, dice tomatoes.
Lightly saute spinach in olive oil over med heat with garlic salt (and pine nuts if using) for 1-2 minutes.
Dice potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and garlic salt.
Top with spinach, tomatoes, and feta.

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March 2, 2012

Egg Drop Soup


Put that takeout menu back in the drawer - in ten minutes you can be slurping your own fresh, hot egg drop soup! As a lover of soup (no matter the time of day) I love this even for breakfast. Or you can enjoy it for dinner paired with Vegetable Fried Rice.

Gluten-free (with gluten-free soy sauce)

Ingredients
1-2 eggs (your choice)
2 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
2 green onions
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Garlic salt/pepper

Optional add-ins: I almost always use frozen peas because it's so convenient. You can also add spinach, corn, mushroom, etc.

Directions
Slice green onions.
Heat vegetable broth, soy sauce, green onions, garlic salt/pepper, and any additional add-ins in saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a simmer.
Beat eggs in a bowl.
*Slowly* pour eggs into simmering broth while stirring clockwise to create egg ribbons.
Let heat for a minute. Season to taste with additional salt/pepper if needed.
  


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