Welcome back, my friends! This is my first recipe post back after the New Year and it only seems fitting that we make a super duper cozy meal filled with veggies. It's time to shake off the holiday treats and get back to our healthy habits.
For me, that means filling my plate (and bowls) with veggies and plant-based proteins. If you've been following for a while, then you already know I'm pretty much a vegetarian at this point, but for those of you who aren't, I want to challenge you to something this year:
Eat 100% plant-based for one day a week.
Might sound a teeny bit scary I know, but trust me when I tell you this: when you nourish your body with plant-based foods and skip out on the meat and dairy, you are going to feel incredible. No joke. It's transformational.
Now to me, plant-based doesn't necessarily mean vegan. It means focusing on plants (fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes) and skipping out on meat and dairy. Eggs are fine in my book, as is honey. Two things about that: you want to make sure your eggs are organic and free-range, and honey needs to be raw and preferably local.
So what does eating plant-based look like?
It's actually pretty simple. You can check out any of my What I Eat in a Day videos on my YouTube channel, but here's what a typical day could look like:
- Breakfast: smoothie bowl OR oatmeal (my creamy coconut matcha oatmeal would be perfecto)
- Lunch: green salad with chopped veggies and chickpeas OR a veggie sandwich/wrap
- Dinner: a quinoa buddha bowl OR this creamy Italian quinoa soup
Snacks can include things like protein bars, fresh fruit, nuts/nut butters, lighter smoothies, etc. See what I mean? You can TOTALLY do that for one day week!
I've discovered that dinners tend to be the most challenging for folks. They're either working full time with little time to cook, or are cooking for a family of picky eaters, and often times both, so “healthy” or “vegetarian” meals are out of the question.
And then there's the issue of taste. How many times have you heard (or even said to yourself), “Healthy food doesn't taste good”?
When I was first transitioning to this way of eating, I told myself the exact same thing. Until I realized it wasn't about the kind of food I was making (i.e. healthy food), it was about the way I was cooking and the ingredients I was using.
Which is precisely where this soup comes into play. Not only is it a cinch to make, but it's also healthy, full of flavor and is made entirely from plant-based goodies.
The base of this soup starts with a mirepoix, which is just chopped up onions, carrots and celery. Those get sauteed with some garlic, salt and pepper, and begin to build the flavor of the soup. Then, it's on to the tomatoes.
Since we're in the heart of winter and tomatoes are certainly not in season here in New York, I knew turning to canned was the best option. And my brand of choice? Always Tuttorosso.
If you remember back in October when I shared that recipe for my healthy tomato bisque, part of that also talked about why I adore this brand so much. I was lucky enough to tour their factory and saw that the tomatoes are picked at the peak of ripeness (which also means the best flavor) and are in the can in less than two hours. The quality blew me away!
And I truly believe that your food is only as good as the ingredients you cook with. Because when you use high-quality ingredients, your food is going to have more flavor and nutrition.
I chose stewed because I wanted the soup to have somewhat of a rustic feel. So by roughly chopping the stewed tomatoes, rather than using diced, there were larger chunks of tomato mixed in. Loved that! (if you don't want to use stewed, you can totally sub diced!)
The sauce gave the soup a nice thick texture, a gorgeous color and even more tomato flavor. After all, we want this to be as tomato-y and Italian as possible, right?!
The other secret to this Italian quinoa soup? Cream of course! (<– jk we're not using dairy, remember?)
So instead of the actual cream, I whipped up a cashew cream in my blender and stirred that into the soup. All you need are cashews, nutritional yeast, miso paste (for that nice umami flavor), some water and a scoop of the soup base. Blend it all together and you have a cheesy-tasting cream without any of the dairy!
And one final thing about this soup: it freezes wonderfully! You can make a big pot over the weekend, and freeze the leftovers in containers for lunches/dinners throughout the week. That means #noexcuses, my friend!
So are you ready to join me?
To make this a bit easier, let's start with just the month of January. For the next four weeks, let's make a goal to eat at least one day per week 100% plant-based. If you're up for it, click here to take the “pledge” and I'll send you a free ebook that contains 5 delicious, plant-based salad recipes!
Creamy Italian Quinoa Soup
Not only is it a cinch to make, but it's also healthy, full of flavor and is made entirely from plant-based goodies.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion chopped
- 4 medium carrots chopped
- 4 celery ribs chopped
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
- 1/3 cup white quinoa uncooked
- 1 14.5oz can Tuttorosso Stewed Tomatoes*
- 1 15oz can Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
- 4 - 6 cups fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast + more if desired
- 1 teaspoon miso paste
- 1/4 cup water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until carrots have started to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add chickpeas and quinoa to the mixture.
- Roughly chop the stewed tomatoes, then add them, along with the juice, to the pot with the sauce, broth and herbs and stir to combine. Season with a bit more salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer, partially covered, for 20 - 30 minutes (or longer if desired).
- While the soup is cooking, add the cashews, nutritional yeast, miso, water and 1/2 cup of the soup broth (just scoop it from the pot) into a high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- When ready to serve, stir in spinach and cream. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary (I stirred in a touch more nutritional yeast). Serve immediately!
* substitute diced tomatoes if desired
This post was sponsored by Tuttorosso, but all opinions are my own. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that I love and I hope you try their tomatoes!
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