Butternut carrot soup

Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall veggies. But it is not low FODMAP. What to do? Mix it with a bag of carrots!

The combination of spices was my attempt at a sweet/salty combo with a little spice. They only served to enhance the flavors of the vegetables, however — in the very best way. (Carrots still aren’t my favorites, but I like them in this.)

 

Butternut carrot soup

1 butternut squash, cubed
1 pound baby carrots
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Penzey’s pie spice or cake spice*
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
24-36 cups of water (more for a soupy consistency, less for a baby food consistency)
2-3 ginger tea bags

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash, carrots, olive oil, salt, and spices in a ziplock bag and shake until well coated, then spread on two parchment-lined baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender; sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake another 10 minutes more. Set aside.

Boil the water with the tea bags for 5 minutes or until the tea is the desired strength — just remember, time makes ginger spicy. Add the vegetables and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes; remove from heat and cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, puree until smooth. Serve with a crunchy side — crusty bread, veggie chips, perhaps kettle corn.

*I was running low on both, so I did one of each.

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Kiwi-honeydew smoothie

This is not a pretty smoothie, but it’s a tasty one. And I’m not really a fan of kiwi or honeydew.

This is a great meal prep recipe, as you can portion out a week’s worth of smoothie ingredients ahead of time and just grab them as needed for blending. Anything that makes mornings easier is a win in my book.

Kiwi-honeydew smoothie

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup honeydew melon cubes
1-2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

Freeze fruit (I like to freeze mine in the smoothie blender cups, but any small cup or baggie will work). An hour before serving, remove the fruit from the freezer to thaw. Once thawed partway, sprinkle with sugar to taste and puree. Top with extra sugar granules if you’re feeling fancy.

If you’d rather not wait for the fruit to thaw, add 1/2 cup of green tea to achieve a drinkable consistency.

“I suck at gardening” shelly beans (GF, vegan)

I’ve been trying to grow a vegetable garden for a few years now, but I keep losing everything to birds, bugs, stray cats (at least I’m telling myself it’s stray cats), and powder mildew. This year it was bugs, mostly; they ate up my fledgling veggies before they even ripened. Because my gardening style is of the Hunger Games sort (“May the odds be ever in your favor”), I picked and shelled the poor green beans on the spot, tossing the seeds back into my container garden and giving the dirt a little stir.¬†And damned if they didn’t take off. But I’ve been busy with back-to-school, after school, a suddenly hectic workload, and sick kids, so I didn’t notice I even had beans until this morning. At which point they were ripe to overripe.

I didn’t have enough to feed the fam, but let’s be honest: The kids likely wouldn’t have eaten this anyway, and R may or may not have enjoyed it. For my part, it was a welcome break from canned green beans. I may have to do more stuff with fresh green beans. Just not homegrown green beans — not this year — because this was pretty much it.

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I cooked these hours after I picked them, so they cooked up quick. As such, there was no gravy to speak of. But I didn’t feel like they needed any.

 

“I suck at gardening” shelly beans (GF, vegan)

Fresh green beans, half ripe and half overripe (you’ll be able to see the outline of the inner beans clearly from all angles)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white cooking wine
salt to taste

Prepare the green beans: Wash all beans and snap off the ends. Break the ripe (but not overripe) bean pods into 1.5-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Split the remaining bean pods down the seam on the bean pod and push the ripened beans out into the bowl; discard pods. If not using right away, refrigerate until ready.

Pour olive oil in a medium saucepan; add bay leaf and sage and heat over medium until the herbs are fragrant. Add the beans, water, wine, and salt and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf, drain, and serve.

Pumpkin soup (GF, vegan, and damned delicious)

Unlike a lot of my recent soup recipes, this did not have its start in a recipe I can’t eat at present. With the exception of the peanut butter, the whole idea for this soup started in my head. I was going for a salty/sweet/spicy combo, because I’ve been eating baked potatoes for days and I miss flavor. Once I had it together and had tweaked the seasonings, though, I still felt it was missing something. Then I remembered a smoothie recipe my mom shared on my FB recently, which involved bananas (barf), pumpkin, and peanut butter. My head had that pounding ache that I’ve come to learn means I’m running low on fat, so I dished out a cup (so as not to ruin the pot if this was a horrible idea) and spooned in some peanut butter. As Emeril would say, bam! All of the flavors came together. So I’m estimating the PB in this recipe; I didn’t measure a precise amount or anything, but rather spooned it in until it looked the same as the soup in my cup. Your mileage may vary.

 

Pumpkin soup (GF, vegan, and damned delicious)

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
2 cups strong ginger tea (I use Yogi) plus 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling; add two bags of ginger tea and steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on your desired level of spice. (I stopped at 5.) When the tea has reached the desired strength, combine with the 1/2 cup of water and the pumpkin in a saucepan and whisk together over medium heat. Add the ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, and sugar; stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter.

Maybe Heihei has IBS, too

Those of you who keep track of this blog, particularly the recipes, may have noticed a trend over the past few weeks. Specifically, a shift from actual food that people might want to eat to…soup. Soup with 5 or fewer ingredients. Glorified baby food.

There is a reason for this.

Remember back when I found out that I’m full of it? Since then, I’ve been on a mission to eat healthier — more fresh fruits and vegetables, less cheese and pasta. And I succeeded. I, an avid, lifelong fruit hater, managed to consume fruit on the regular. Even grew to like fruit. (Okay, some fruit. Let’s not get crazy here.) But it didn’t help.

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I drank enough water to sink the Titanic. Exercised. Meditated. Did yoga. Abdominal massage. De nada.

So I started doing research. Discovered this lovely autoimmune disorder called irritable bowel syndrome. And these foods called FODMAPs. The internet tells me that if I eliminate FODMAPs for a month or two, I should go into remission, and may then be able to eat food again.

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I began to experiment. I discovered quite quickly that gluten is a highly probable trigger for my symptoms — the last thing I ate before I wound up in the ER all those months ago includes gluten as a main ingredient. So I eliminated gluten. And dairy (another common trigger). And, as I began noticing reactions to them, almonds, oats, corn, rice, then pretty much all grains. Eventually, I was down to eating these foods:

  • avocados
  • mangoes
  • honey
  • strawberries
  • pomegranate juice
  • potatoes
  • apples
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • celery
  • peanut butter

I stuck with that for a month. And it didn’t help.

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Back to the FODMAP drawing board. Turns out a lot of what I considered to be “safe” foods aren’t low FODMAP-friendly. (Depending on the list you are consulting; I’ve found them to conflict.) So while I do believe I’ve resolved the original impaction (I still need to go back to the doctor to verify that), I have not yet corrected the cause. Which means that I still swell up like I’m 8 months pregnant nearly every evening. I still wake at 2 a.m with excruciating back/abdominal pain. And I’m still hungry pretty much all the time.

So I’ve cut things back even further. And continue to eliminate foods. I’ll give it a month. If I can’t sort this out with another round of low-FODMAPping on my own, I’m consulting a dietitian. Because I am still breastfeeding. Because I’ve begun losing my hair, and have had to start taking B12 as a result. Because I’m a wife and a mother and a business owner, and I don’t have time to be run down. But mostly because I’m becoming depressed every time I try to cook or eat or buy groceries; the joy has been sapped out of eating, and what I’m left with is a pinless grenade of a digestive system. I’m miserable, and I’m making everyone around me miserable.

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Sorry the food’s been so boring. Believe me, this isn’t what I want to eat, either. With any luck, I’ll get this glitch under control and go back to eating at least some fun foods. Or, less fun, I’ll start posting IBS-friendly recipes. I just have to sort things out first. Thanks for hanging in there while I do.

Mashed potato cakes (GF, vegan)

For when you have a lot of leftover mashed potatoes but want to…y’know, chew. Quick, easy, endlessly customizable — just stir in whatever spices and add-ins strike your fancy. I bet these would be amazing with chives and a dash of sour cream, for you nonvegans.

These are not 100% kid approved — Kai refused to taste them. But Anya said they were good, and that’s not nothing.

 

Mashed potato cakes (GF, vegan)

Leftover mashed potatoes*
flour (I use potato flour, but regular flour works well if you’re not GF)
butter/oil (I use vegan butter)

Heat your butter or oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles. Sprinkle your mashed potatoes with flour and stir; repeat until the mixture is a bit dry (wet mashed potatoes don’t patty well). Scoop up small quantities (no more than 1/4 cup at a time) and gently form into patties (1/2 inch to 1 inch thick), then place in the pan. (Do not overcrowd the pan; you need room to flip these, as they’re a bit delicate.) Cook for 5-10 minutes or until browned, then flip and brown the other side. Serve with the condiments of your choice; also good as pictured, with just a sprinkling of salt.

*To make vegan mashed potatoes, sub vegan butter for regular butter and use reserved cooking water in place of the milk. They taste every bit as delicious as the real deal — promise.

Butternut squash soup (vegan, GF)

I am ready for fall, and fall foods. Unfortunately, “fall foods” to me means pies and baked goods and soups with crusty breads and all sorts of other things that I find myself suddenly unable to digest.

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I have been so desperate for fall flavors that I tried a pumpkin spice “ice cream” recipe that was basically pureed pumpkin pie filling and bananas, frozen and scooped. I hate bananas with a purple passion and always have, but I held out hope that the pumpkin and added flavorings would mask the banana taste. They did not. Sigh.

This soup’s delish, though. Not sweet like other butternut squash soups I’ve had, and creamy thick even without a roux base. It’s like sweater weather in your mouth, and makes me feel autumnal despite the fact that the temps are going to crack 90 today. It’s also wonderfully filling, unlike many soups. And if you buy pre-cut squash, it’s extremely easy to make.

Note: I let my soup boil down to the consistency of runny mashed potatoes, because I was working while cooking and lost track of time. It’s good this way, but you are welcome to leave more liquid in yours if you like.

Butternut squash soup (vegan, GF)

11 oz (approx. 3 cups) butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
salt, and pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth (I use Edward & Sons Garden Veggie bouillon plus 2 cups water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the squash with the olive oil, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.* Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender, stirring occasionally, 30-50 minutes. You want the squash to be browned, but not blackened. Heat the broth/bouillon to boiling in a medium saucepan; add the squash and return to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until slightly reduced. Using a regular or immersion blender, process until smooth.

Serves one as a main dish, two as a side.

*I grated directly over my squash and let my nose be my guide; I’m not sure exactly how much I used. If you’re not used to cooking with nutmeg, start with 1/4 teaspoon and go from there — a little goes a long way. Also go easy on the salt; the broth is salty.