Creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup

img_9321

I really love the taste of these scrumptious little tubers. Sweet, fragrant, nutty in flavor, and delicate in texture. They were first cultivated by the Native Americans (way before this new vegetable was introduced to Europeans). Italians call it girasole – sunflower. And indeed, it is a type of sunflower. It is believed that the name Jerusalem artichoke came from the way of southern Italian pronunciation – [ʤiraː’zul]. There is no real connection to the ancient city of Jerusalem (but who knows!).

Jerusalem artichoke plant. Image: Annette van der Swaluw
Sunchokes (another name for Jerusalem artichokes) have a lot of health benefits. The phyto-nutrient profile is comprised of fiber (non-starchy carbohydrates), antioxidants,  minerals (potassium, copper and iron), and vitamins C, A, E and B-group. It is a very healthy and tasty vegetable to eat!

Now let’s make the soup.

Serving: 3-4

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs sunchokes (pealed and cut)

1 medium onion (chopped) – save a small amount of finely chopped onion for serving

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

4 c veggie broth (+ extra if needed)

2 tbsp vegan butter (or oil of choice)

1/4 c raw hazelnuts

1/4 tsp dry oregano

sea salt, crushed black pepper to taste

balsamic vinegar & fine olive oil for garnish

In a soup pot sauté onion and garlic in vegan butter (oil) for couple of minutes without browning. Add veggie broth and sunchokes and let simmer on medium-low heat for about 25-30 min or until sunchokes are soft.

In a mean time we are going to roast hazelnuts. Heat up a pan on a med-high heat. Without adding any oil roast the nuts until skins start coming off. Always shake the pan so no hazelnuts would get burnt. This should take a few minutes. Turn off the heat and let them cool off. When nuts are cool to touch chop them and set aside.

Once soup is ready move it to a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add salt if needed. Add more warm broth if the texture is too thick.

For serving, place on the bottom of a bowl little pinch of raw onion, and a generous spoonful of hazelnuts. Pour soup on top. Sprinkle with black pepper, oregano, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

IMG_9492.JPG

 

 

 

 

3 things I do every morning to jump start my day

morning-pictures-8643384

Hi guys! Jenya is here. How is your week going so far? How are your energy levels? Do you ever feel like you don’t have a lot of energy in the morning? Hate your alarm? Feeling dreadful before you have a cup of coffee in hand? I hear ya! I had many of those mornings myself. But since then I learned a few tricks and I want to share them with you. These 3 simple things that I do every morning (with an exception here and there) help me to awaken body, mind and spirit, and set my day is a positive direction. Yes, I know, we are all so busy, trying to do a million things in the morning. But check out this simple secret that I discovered: by creating a space for myself in the morning (usually 20-30 minutes) I have more mental space and clarity during my day. Magic? No. Just science!

Here is a morning tool kit that can help you to jump start your day in a nurturing way:

  1. Have a warm apple cider/lemon drink first (It awakens your body on a molecular level). To make it add 1 tbsp of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar or squeeze half a lemon into a tall glass of warm water. Easy! Why? Because while we sleep our bodies work hard to clean themselves up from the inside. As a result when we wake up our pH level is acidic. Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (I love Bragg brand) or lemon water are great and cheap alkalizing tools. Another benefit that comes with the package? An easy #2 bathroom visit!
  2. Have a moment to sit in quiet and meditate/set intentions for the day. This has been extremely transformative for me. I like to set a goal for the day first, and then do a little meditation. Intentions could be very simple, like to have a peaceful and calm day or more concrete and complex, like to have xyz done by x o’clock. Focus on whatever it is important for you in that moment/day! And then follow with a simple meditation. It could be a brief meditation of simply observing your breath for 5 minutes (set an alarm) while having your eyes closed, or perhaps, adding a mental scan of where your body stands this very moment, observing any tensions, discomforts without judging them. Note any underlying mood qualities. And then gently go into observing your breath. Simple and gentle.
  3. Move and stretch your body! This is a fun part. After you alkalize your body, set your intentions and create a peaceful mental state, you can activate your body through movement. I usually do a few rounds of cat/cow yoga stretch. It is flexing between these two poses:

Cat-Cow

Inhale, dip the spine, open the chest. Exhale, round the spine. Do a few rounds like that. Feel the energy moving in you. I would then follow with a downward dog pose, and while in it I would pedal my feet and flex my hamstrings. It also helps to bend your knees to have an easier stretch through the spine.

down-dog-400x400

Add a few other movements that you like. Maybe do some jumps? Who cares! Do what feels good to you. Be creative 🙂

That’s it guys! See what works for you and notice how your body feels and how your mood changes. And most importantly have fun with it!

P.S. What healthy morning rituals do you have? How do you start your day? Share your  story in the comments below. Xo

Vegan spinach and zucchini lasagna

IMG_2227

I am so excited to share this recipe with you!! When I was creating it I deeply felt a sense of being an artist (I do work in many different mediums). This time lasagna noodles were my canvas. A truly magical experience!

I love lasagna. It is one of my favorite dishes in Italian cuisine. It is so flavorful, juicy in the middle, and crunchy on the top. My recipe is very light, yet it has all those qualities that we like in lasagna. The noodles are soft, the sauce is flavorful, and zucchini and spinach create this wonderful play of textures. This is where we get to put to use the amazing Vegan bechamel sauce that I’ve shared with you in the previous post. This recipe also uses freshly made cashew cheese. It does take time and a little extra effort. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Here is how to make this delicious lasagna.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 2 lbs spinach
  • 1 sweet Italian onion
  • 1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Cheese:

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight or at least for 6 hours)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

Bechamel sauce recipe could be found here.

1.In a large pot on a medium heat saute chopped onion with olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add washed spinach, salt and then cover the pot with a lid. Spinach will start wilting, mix it up, saute for another minute or 2 then turn the heat off. Set cooked spinach in a colander to get rid of excess liquid.

IMG_2220
Fresh spinach from farmers market.

2. Cut zucchinis in 1/4 inch thick slabs, use mandolin or just a sharp knife. Cook on a medium heat in a large pan with olive oil. About 3 min on each side. Zucchinis should get a golden brown crisp, and become softer, but not too soft. Do not over cook! Set them aside when done.

IMG_2222

3. In a large food processor blend together all the cheese ingredients. Do nut put all the water in at once. Put a half, blend, then see if you need to add more. It should be a consistency of a light whipped cream cheese.

IMG_2221

4. Prepare your bechamel sauce.

5. Preheat oven to 350F.

6. Now we are ready to do the assembly! Get your lasagna pan (any square baking dish would do with high sides), oil the bottom of the pan. Place noodles on the bottom, overlapping them a little. Then create a layer of zucchinis, bechamel sauce on top.

IMG_2224

Then noodles again, bechamel sauce, layer of spinach, cashew cheese.

IMG_2225IMG_2226

Continue repeating layers until you run out of ingredients. Make sure each layer has bechamel sauce. You want your noodles to be moist with the sauce. The last, top, layer would be the noodles and the sauce.

7. Now here is a trick that I’ve learned: let the assembled lasagna sit for at least an hour. This would make the noodles soak up some liquids.

*You can also do all of these steps the day before you will be serving lasagna. Even better! It will have a whole night to stay in the fridge and soak up all the flavors for a little longer.

8. Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil. And then another 15-20 minutes uncovered. Test lasagna with a knife to ensure that the noodles are soft.

9. Voila! Enjoy your delicious spinach and zucchini lasagna! 🙂

 

Vegan fried rice

IMG_0873

I love fried rice! So many cultures have their own version of fried rice, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Nigeria, you name it. Well, here is my take on it. 🙂

This fried rice is an excellent staple dish that is healthy, easy to prepare and won’t take a long time. Feel free to add other veggies of firm texture that you like. If you have leftover rice this is a great recipe to utilize it and create a tasty and complete dish.

Here is how to make it:

Serves: 4 people

Time: 50 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • small bunch of scallions
  • 10 spears of asparagus
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 large leaves of Tuscan kale
  • 1 package of baked tofu (optional)
  • cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp of tamari
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, agave or brown sugar
  • 2 clothes of garlic – minced
  • 2 tbsp of chili paste (or Sriracha hot sauce)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Set rice to cook according to the package instructions. Mine takes 45 min to cook. Chop all the vegetables in small pieces – about 1/4 inch, including kale! Chop onion, scallion, and garlic even smaller. Chop tofu in 1/4 inch cubes. I like using my cast iron skillet, but a large wok pan would be great too. Heat up some oil, throw in chopped onions first, then add garlic, scallions, and the rest. Cook on medium heat until veggies get a nice golden crisp to them. Mix occasionally so they don’t stick. In a separate pan, heat up oil and start cooking tofu on a medium heat. The goal here to get crispy golden cubes. When tofu is ready add it to the main skillet with the veggies.veggies

While vegetables and tofu are cooking we can prepare our sauce. Mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside. Add half of the sauce to the cooking vegetables/tofu.

When rice is fully cooked add it to the veggies mix, add the rest of the sauce. Mix well. Cook for another 5 min so that rice could get a slight crisp to it. And we are done!

Simple and delicious. I hope you enjoy it!