Looking good?

I know this is a recurring theme with me, but M told me that I look smaller today. I understand that I have lost a significant amount of weight. I also understand that I am going to lose more weight. But what does looking smaller mean? I asked if I look good. He said yes. I said than say that! So he told me that smaller looks good. Good grief!

I want to be smaller. I want to lose the excess weight that I have carried for far too long. But I don’t think that that affects my beauty in any way. However beautiful I ever am I always am.

So what should we say to people who lose a large amount of weight? Maybe we can ask if they have lost any and how they are feeling. Maybe we can notice things like their improved energy level or self-confidence. Maybe we can simply realize that someone else’s weight is not really any of our business and leave their health concerns between them and their medical professional.

I just wish people would see me as a person instead of a fat person. I’m sure that will happen soon enough, but will I have to go out and meet all new people?

In other news, we went to the gym today. I had planned on going swimming at a local pool, but with the current storm and chill in the air (leave me alone about being in the 50s, okay? I know I’m a baby!) neither of us really wanted to go swimming. So we took the dog for a walk in a downpour then came home, changed and hit the gym. I did a little more than 3 miles on a stationary bike and almost a mile on a treadmill then thoroughly stretched. It felt great. I was very tired when I finished. And hungry!!!

When we got home I ate a burrito bowl: rice, “refried” beans, cucumber, shredded carrots, and lettuce. I put some sweet chili sauce on it and 20151201_203753.jpgchowed down! Delicious!!! If you have never had sweet chili sauce, I highly recommend it. We are about halfway through a large bottle I bought on Monday! And it tastes great on just about everything. Seriously, try it. AMAZING!!!

Tonight’s dinner is not quite figured out, but I have a head of cabbage, 3 leeks, and some mushrooms in the fridge. I started some rice and split peas soaking. Have you ever added split peas to your brown rice? The texture is fantastic! I did 2 cups rice with 1 cup of mixed green and yellow split peas. I’ll cook it in the rice cooker tonight and probably sauté the vegetables or maybe make a soup. In any case, I’m sure it will be a warm and tasty dinner. 🙂

How is December going for you? Are you ready for 2016? Any challenges in the coming weeks? How do you plan to deal with them?

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Beautiful Bounty

This is a few days late since I promised to share the recipe for that pumpkin pie I mentioned on Thursday. I will say this. That night, the two of us ate half the pie! Then we finished it the next day. There is noFat Free Vegan Impossible Pie real crust on this, so it is a bit different from a traditional pie. But it’s like the filling baked alone with a kind of crust that develops. In any case, it’s delicious! I have several cans of pumpkin in the cupboard and can see us eating one a week! 🙂 Here is where you can find the recipe. I used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer and followed the directions for that amount plus water. I also was lazy and just went with pumpkin pie spice. Still, I highly recommend this recipe! The best part about it? It’s super easy!!! You stick some stuff into a blender. (We do not have a fancy, high powered blender. A regular one worked just fine.) Add a few more things and blend some more. Then pour into a pie plate and bake. Easy-peasy!

I also decided to make a full second Thanksgiving for my mom this past Saturday. She lives over an hour away so when I got home from work I ran around frantically throwing things into bags to take with us. The menu:
– Stuffed pumpkin
– Mashed potatoes
– Mashed sweet potatoes
– Dinner rolls
– Cranberry sauce
– Broccoli

On the way out, about half way, I realized I had forgotten the recipes. Oops! Luckily, I have Google on my phone. Crisis averted. I also realized I forgot the vegetable broth and oat milk I would need. So Saturday morning I woke M up and off we went to Sprouts. We got all the stuff we needed, plus a few other goodies. Once back at the house I started in the kitchen. Honestly, at this point I cannot even remember how I did everything. I just started things in pots and pans until the house smelled amazing.

I will be honest. I didn’t cook the broccoli. I know, for shame, right?

So we ate a fully plant based meal with no green vegetable except for the celery in the stuffing. As for the pumpkin, it was a very pretty presentation, but it was undercooked. I left in the oven for a full 2 hours, but it was hard Beautiful Bountyand stringy. Not the best. I would stuff a smaller squash again, maybe a sugar pie pumpkin or something in that size range. M and I also both prefer stuffing cooked in a pan so that there is more of the crispy top. Overall, though, a pretty amazing meal.

Here is the pumpkin: Stuffed Pumpkin

And dinner with a mound of dinner rolls. They were awesome!The full meal

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you enjoy the people you were with? Did you have two or more? How was the food? What is your favorite tradition?

Kitchen clean out plus stuffing/dressing debate

Yesterday we had to go to the store for some groceries. We both had the day off work so I was planning a special dinner – stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes. More on that later. One thing we tend to do is just wander the aisles of the store aimlessly looking at what sounds good in the moment, often forgetting key ingredients or purchasing duplicates of what we have at home. So M decided to make a list. More than that, he cleaned out the fridge. He started looking at all of the weird things we have been saving – carefully collected bacon drippings, tofu that was so old it was turning red, vegetables that were reaching liquefaction. It was pretty nasty. 🙂 Good thing he took that task on! Haha!

Next he turned to the cupboards. He actually went through all the odds and ends that I have been shoving in for the past two years that we’ve lived here and looking at what actually is okay following the dietary guidelines with which we are currently living. He even started a care bag for his parents of tuna for their cat (ours won’t touch seafood) and other new boxes of mixes that do not support our health and no longer part of what we consider food.

It was liberating and daunting all at once!

I took to two shelves where I have been stashing baking tools to make elegant cakes and other goodies, but never have. I finally let it all go. We ended up with a huge black trash bag full of stuff! Normally we carefully sort our recycling and compostable scraps out but yesterday was a trash day! I wish I had taken a picture.

Our next mission as part of Project Kitchen Clean up was to get a metal shelving rack. We have been talking about getting one for over a year and yesterday we finally had enough “extra” after paying all the bills to find it a worthy purchase. We got it home, set it up*, and filled it. We moved the microwave from the corned of the counter to the rack and moved all the spices over to the corner. It opened up a ton of space and feels so much better than the pile of stuff that had been there before. The pile included our Crock Pot, rice cooker, old water bottles, a large basket we store sweet potatoes and onions in, and more. Plus the chest freezer was totally covered in more stuff like the dog’s food and treats, the fruit bowl, and the salad spinner. Now we have a place for everything and everything is finally in its place!

*We have never successfully assembled anything together before. Usually our DIY projects start with one of us having a bright idea (more often than not me) and the other trying to help but in actuality taking the project over (M does this). There is a fight involved as the originator realizes s/he is no longer a part of the project. Mean things are said, feelings are hurt, projects are finished but don’t always resemble the initial idea, and both of us sulk. Yesterday, though, we were able to work together to assemble the shelving unit with no harsh words, no bickering, no nothing! There were a few tense moments in the beginning as we figured out how to do it without it falling apart, but we got it. By the last shelf it was smooth as silk. A major first for us! 🙂 Love that guy!!!

After we finished the kitchen, I needed a nap! M went to visit a friend down from Washington State. When I was rested I started on dinner.

Months ago I bought an acorn squash with the noble idea of baking it with cinnamon and salt, and even a little butter. This was before I went to a starch based diet. I never made it, though. Eventually it went from green with an orange spot to all orange. By the time I fished it out of the fruit bowl yesterday it was starting to look a little deflated. Oops. I love acorn squash, but firmly recommend eating them when they are still firm!

My plan was to make stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes and parsnips. Even with our good intentioned list I still forgot to buy the parsnips. Oh well. I cubed about 1/3 a

croutons
Vegan, oil-free, homemade croutons. YUM!!!

loaf of bread into 1/2″ cubes. I spread them on a rimmed baking sheet then sprayed lightly with Bragg’s and seasoned with a bit of poultry seasoning and garlic powder. I baked at 300 degrees (F) for 30 minutes stirring about halfway through. They turned into the best homemade croutons I have ever had! Granted, I have never had homemade croutons before, but they were delicious anyway!

 

While those were cooling, I got started on the rest. No matter what I am cooking, I love to start with an onion. I understand no everyone likes onions as much as I do. Feel free to use less! The nice thing is that I cook them enough to sweeten them and cook out all of the sharpness. They add such a wonderful flavor to the food and the house smells amazing as

vegetable goodness
Can’t you just smell it?

they sizzle on the stove. I heated a large, heavy, non-stick pan with a bit of water and thinly sliced an onion. I threw the slices in and let them work their magic while I chopped three celery ribs into small pieces. That went in on top of the onions. I then took the stems off of three large white mushrooms (the caps were about 3″ across!), cut off the dirty end, and chopped them finely. The stems are pretty woody when the caps get that big so I added them next so they would soften. Next I chopped the caps and added those. Periodically I added more water and stirred every so often to let everything cook evenly. When all the vegetables were nice and soft I added Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and a bit of salt. Then I chopped an apple into it and threw in a handful of currants, just for good measure.

 

I put the croutons in a mixing bowl and poured the vegetables over them. I stirred it all together adding vegetable broth until everything was moist. I let that sit while I prepared the squash:
– Chop the squash in half using the stem as the midpoint.
– Scoop out all the seeds and strings.
– Question the safety of eating this very old squash.
– Rinse if needed.

I put the squash on my cutting board to hopefully keep things tidy as I stuffed. Then I just heaped spoonfuls of stuffing in and pressed them in tightly with my hands and the spoon. When they were both as full as I could get them I put them into a glass loaf pan. There was still quite a bit of stuffing left over so that went into a baking dish!

Recently we had a conversation at work about stuffing vs. dressing. Which is which? We could not determine to our satisfaction the correct answer so asked Google. It turns out there is not really a difference, it’s mostly just where you’re

before baking
Stuffing or dressing? Why not both?!

from and which tradition you follow. I personally like the idea that stuffing goes into something and dressing is cooked in a pan, but it’s just semantics at that point.

 

They were covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes then uncovered and baked another 30 minutes. Two things that would have improved it at this point:
1. Adding some water to the squash pan would have prevented the scorching that affected the bottom of the squash. It probably would have made the squash more tender, as well.
2. Lining the baking dish with parchment paper or a very light coating of grease would have helped it release more easily. I had a few croutons that were pretty stuck to the bottom!

I also realized that I had no desire to wash the big pot to boil potatoes. Luckily for me, M had baked some sweet potatoes a few days ago and there was one left. I skinned it and heated it with some plain, unsweetened oat milk, mashing with a spoon as it cooked. I added a splash of maple syrup, a nice sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. It turned into the most amazing sweet potato mash ever!

Dinner turned out pretty good. I was quite pleased with myself, obviously. And I am so happy that I figured out how

plate of stuffed squash dressing and sweet potatoes
I ate some of the squash before I remembered to take a picture. 🙂 It was that good of a dinner!

to make amazing croutons! Here is the finished dinner. If you feel so inclined, give one of these ideas a try for Thanksgiving!

 

Whatever you make, however you celebrate, I hope this is a time of happiness and love for everyone!

Spicy (or not) Three Bean Chili

Not too long ago my dearest M started a new job. His hours are now completely different from what they have20150916_202651_resized been. This month he has to be at work at 630 am Friday – Monday. It has totally thrown me for a loop. Sundays have been our day to go for long hikes, run errands, watch a movie, and generally reconnect for the past few years. We have also been able to stay up late on Saturdays together and he was able to have dinner made when I got home from work Fridays and Saturdays. Now he’s working on those days and it’s been a little adjustment that I’m still working through.

So what do you do for dinner when you and your partner are both hungry but no one has the time for an intensive prep session?

Almost instant chili!

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It’s actually a super simple meal to throw together and can be made to suit your individual tastes very easily. Is there a particular flavor I used that you LOVE or HATE? Use as much or as little as you like. In the end, you’re the one eating it so make it amazing! 🙂

For this dinner I was able to have M wash and chop a few sweet potatoes. When I got home I started them steaming while I made the chili.

I used three cans of chili beans – pinto, black and white. I also used two cans of Mexican style stewed tomatoes, a 20150916_202617_resizedlarge can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onions, and a can of fire roasted green chilies. All of those went into a large pot along with some garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. M chopped several garlic cloves with an onion chopper (he likes to help) and those went in, too. I let it simmer for a bit then tasted and adjusted. We took the dog for a walk while the flavors melded. When we got back we tasted again. It was amazing!

I did add a little salt to the pot, but not enough to encourage eating beyond satiety. The sweet potatoes gave the perfect balance to the spices. And I loved the big chunks of tomatoes. It was a very hearty dinner!

This week we were lucky enough to have a day off together. Thursday we went for a hike in Joaquin Miller Park on a favorite trail of ours. We started walking this trail last summer and every time we have been able to go a little further. This time we made it all the way to the end!

It was a gorgeous day and a fantastic walk together. We also made it to the store and got a few chores around the house done. Doesn’t sound romantic, but it was a perfect day together. Which is good because I don’t know when we’ll have another day off together.

20150917_121830_resized  Recipe for Spicy Three Bean Chili:

  • 3 cans chili beans – pinto, black, white
  • 2 cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 large can or two regular cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onions
  • 1 can fire roasted green chilies
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • garlic
  • garlic powder, 2 tsp
  • onion powder, 1 tsp
  • ground cumin, 1 1/2 tsp
  • chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp
  • cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • salt to taste

Open all the cans and pour into a large pot set over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and stir well. Add seasonings, starting with a small amount of each and building up after tasting. Use any other spices that sound good. I also like smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and cloves in chili. They all add another layer to the complexity of the flavors. Try them and see what you think.

When the chili is warmed through it is ready to serve but the longer it sits the better it tastes.

The garlic will still be pungent since it is not precooked. If you are sensitive to raw garlic heat it in a small amount of water in the pot BEFORE adding any of the canned items. It will soften the flavor.

Serve the chili with your favorite starch.

Ideas for starch pairings include: steamed or baked sweet or regular potatoes, corn bread, polenta, steamed corn, rice, millet, whole wheat bread.

ENJOY!!!

This is a perfect recipe to help with weight loss. There is very little fat and it is incredibly filling. The flavors are intense and the overall meal is comforting. 🙂

Kenyan food!

I was recently reading an article comparing the effects of diet on top athletes. Kenyan runners are known for their speed and endurance. Their diet is typically a high-carbohydrate diet. One of the staples mentioned was ugali, which I had never heard of. Intrigued, I googled it! Turns out it’s a mush made from finely ground cornmeal that is used to pick up other foods like stews with the fingers and then the whole thing is eaten.

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International night: Kenyan edition!

Finger food? Count me in! The next step was to find food to eat with the ugali. Another Google search turned up a ton of meat based stews that sounded good but would not support my journey to health. A few keywords and related searches later I decided on two of the dishes listed here: cabbage and ndengu. I am still not sure how to pronounce that last one, but boy is it tasty! I followed her recipe for the ndengu and this one for the cabbage. I also chopped some fresh cilantro for an added burst of flavor.

The result? A totally new culinary adventure that was absolutely amazing! I have made the mung bean stew twice sinve then and it’s a little different but just as tasty each time. I love the simplicity of the flavors that really let the natural flavor of the ingredients shine through. Yum!

Ndengu - a mung bean stew with a contemporary tomato twist.
Ndengu – a mung bean stew with a contemporary tomato twist.

I for all recipes that called for oil I simply omitted it and added extra water as needed. The first time I made ndengu I used sweet potato. The second time I used russet. I much preferred the sweet potato and have a slow cooker full of it simmering away for when I get home tonight. I did not salt the stew while it was cooking, only in my bowl as usual for me. So the flavors really get to meld on their own and then pop against the salt on the surface.

Kenyan curried cabbage. Simple, delicious. A definite repeat!
Kenyan curried cabbage. Simple, delicious. A definite repeat!

The cabbage was so easy to make. I added a few dollops of tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes. It turned out fantastic. I also upped the spice on this since the ndengu turned out so mild. It made a nice balance on my plate.

Ugali. The dish that started it all. Forgive the blurriness. It's hard to focus on cornmeal mush!
Ugali. The dish that started it all. Forgive the blurriness. It’s hard to focus on cornmeal mush!

Ah, ugali. What can say about this delectable ball of starch? It was a workout to cook since it’s twice the grain to water ratio as polenta. It gets cooked very firm then allowed to cool slightly before serving. I don’t have a nice pot or bowl to use as a mold so I eat it lumped. The first night I actually followed the eating method I read online: take a small portion and roll into a ball then indent with the thumb and scoop stew up to eat. I managed to get most of my ugali and about half of the other dishes into me that way. However, since I was raised eating with utensils, I am not that dexterous with my fingers. I finally resorted to using a spoon. I will say that it is more fun to eat with my hands and I have been practicing. 🙂

All in all, international night, Kenyan edition was a great success. Since then M has been putting avocado on his ndengu and he loves it. I play with the spice level each time I make it. It is truly a simple dish to throw together. I don’t always cook the beans first, either. Since they are small and thin-skinned it is simple enough to just add some extra water to the sauce and cook it longer. Then everything melds so beautifully! Even if you are not a huge fan of cilantro, I would suggest a little bit as garnish to enhance the other flavors. The more I eat it this way the more I love the freshness it brings to whatever I made.

I have also started using masa harina from the Mexican section of the grocery store (like to make tortillas or tamales) to make ugali. It comes together much more easily. I don’t know the whole chemical reaction of it, but it just turns into a smooth, creamy, firm dish that is the perfect base for anything else. I do add a bit of salt to this before I put the corn into the water since it is more palatable that way, but I use a small amount so I don’t over eat it for taste alone. With all of these recipes, it is easy to adjust the seasonings to suit your preferences. Give them a try and enjoy! Who knows, you might have the energy to start running, too!

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Feeling pretty and “fried” rice

I have been following Dr. McDougall’s guidelines for 6 weeks now. In that time I have lost 16.2 lbs. I have already seen improvements in my physiology. I am starting to see a difference in my appearance, too. I am starting to see definition in my cheeks. My hair is very shiny and soft.  My skin actually is glowing!

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I felt very pretty this morning when I took this picture. I have pants that were too tight just a few months ago that now are getting loose. I am fitting into clothes I couldn’t put on for a few years.
How am I doing this? Starch! I eat starch all day, every day. For breakfast I eat oatmeal with some currants and a bit of brown sugar. Lunch lately has been frozen corn with veggies. Dinner is where things get exciting. I eat a lot of potatoes and rice. When I have leftover rice, I love to make “fried” rice.

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I am lucky enough to work with an amazing woman who is originally from Beijing. We had a potluck once for which she brought in the best chicken fried rice I’ve ever had. And she was nice enough to share her method! Since I am no longer eating chicken or oil, I modified it to McDougall it! All the flavor, all the comfort, no oil or meat. And what a perfect way to use old rice! (Old rice – a day or two -absorbs the liquid better than fresh rice. But if you only have fresh, play around. You might like it more!)
First I throw a little water into my biggest nonstick pan, maybe 1/2″ deep, probably less. I set that on medium heat while I roughly chop an onion. I love onions so I use big ones. I add that to the pan and spread it out evenly. If I have garlic on hand I might chop a clove or three. Garlic cooks much faster than onion, but the water tempers the heat well. I usually add it when the onion is translucent. When that is fragrant, add some mixed frozen veggies. If you want it to cook faster, thaw the veggies first. Or use fresh veggies of choice. There is no wrong answer here. When everything is cooked until not quite done, add the rice. To this I add Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, but your favorite soy sauce or tamari will work, too. Sometimes I add a little garlic powder or other herbs and spices to make a more Asian flavor. I also usually add a splash of rice vinegar. When everything is heated through and the liquid has evaporated it’s done.

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Serve yourself a big bowl and season to taste. Look at all those starchy veggies! Yum!
This method does result in rice that is softer than restaurant fried rice. I am still trying to tweak my cooking to get a better brown. But it is certainly delicious. And much healthier!

How I am thinking like a loser – in the best way possible

I have been reading a lot of success stories on the internet lately. Most are of people, usually women, who have lost significant amounts of weight. I read one the other day about a woman who lost 85 lbs and thought that she would be beautiful then. It got me thinking. In the story, she mentions that a man offered her parents 1000 camels for her sister since she was so beautiful. When they refused he looked at the author and offered 100. It was a devastating experience that I can relate to. When I was at the music festival a few weeks ago some women were talking about what it must be like to grow up with a sister you are constantly compared to. I had just shown one of them pictures of my sister who I absolutely adore. I was chattering on about all the things I love to brag about including how pretty she is and how fun her wedding was. She made a point to stop me and say that yes my sister is beautiful and so am I. That was nice, but didn’t sink in very far. When we were talking about being compared to sisters I told them that for most of my life my sister has been the pretty one and I have a pretty face. They both looked at me with kind of a stunned look on their faces because honestly what do you say back to that. But the conversation moved on as it usually does.

This summer Weight Watchers has a focus on happiness. Last week our task was to take one negative thought we have about our bodies and turn it into a positive. I used that. That my sister is the pretty one and I have a pretty face. When you think about it it’s pretty rough. Saturday as we were walking back out of the park I told my husband how good I feel. I am beautiful. I am powerful, I am strong. I made it past where I made it to the last time we’d followed the same trail. I feel worthy. All the effort of being so careful with what I eat is totally worth the work. I deserve it. I shared this transformation at my Sunday morning meeting. It feels completely different to want to go for a walk with my family just for the sake of going for a walk than it does to try to force my body to lose weight. I love this new feeling!

As for my sister, she is the best. She has always been beautiful. And it’s from who she is as a person as much as is from what she looks like. The worst thing about her is that she moved pretty far away for her family and I miss her terribly. But she’ll be visiting soon and I’ll get to cook for her and our mom which will be a lot of fun.

polenta 1Speaking of cooking, I thought it would be fun to make polenta fries over the weekend. I love polenta, but can’t stand the premade tubes. So I turned to my trusty advisor Google and asked for some inspiration. Oh did I find it! I found this recipe that looked amazing. Of course I modified it a little but the method was great. I added a little onion and garlic powder to the polenta when I measured it out along with some Italian seasoning but no salt to the water. After cooking to creamy I spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. It probably would have been okay directly on the sheet, even with no oil. I let it cool while I did some other stuff. polenta 2When we were hungry enough I cut it into strips and broiled on high until the paper was smoking. 😳 Cooking is always fun at our house! By the time I checked it it had been about 7 minutes or so. There was a slight color to the top and one darker spot. I pulled it out then and served it with some warmed pizza sauce I had in the cupboard. I topped that with a little salt and some homemade “parmesan” sprinkles. Can we say delicious?! Next time I will probably add a little salt to the cooking water. It’s not quite the same on the surface of a dish like this. But boy it was tasty.

So go make something yummy and know how wonderful you are today. It is not an easy journey but the ride is beautiful!

Split pea pizza

I have a confession. Sometimes I make really weird things to eat. This is one of those times. I have been in a pizza mood lately. I don’t know what it is I like so much about eating with my hands, but I love it! I also have been on a split pea soup kick lately. So I decided to combine the two!

I have been buying frozen cornmeal pizza crusts at a local natural grocery. They do have a little oil in the ingredient list so I reserve them for more of a treat than a staple. They come in a two pack so I tend to eat them quickly once I open them.

When getting this idea together in my head I made the soup on the thicker side so it would hold up to topping a pizza crust. I also made a fresh batch of brown rice. My first night I spread the rice on first without seasoning it. Then I covered that with the soup and baked it. It turned out alright, but I already saw room for improvement.

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You can see that it held up well and the crust and soup were both plenty flavorful. But I knew it could be better. The second night I put the soup down first. It was chilled so it was very spreadable. I then topped the soup with rice. Next, I seasoned it! A little garlic powder, a touch of salt, and a sprinkle of homemade vegan parmesan. I baked that up and knew as soon as I pulled it out of the oven that I was in for a wonderful meal.

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I didn’t even take any pictures after I cut into this one! That was partly because I was very hungry, but mostly because it was so good! Who knew pea soup and brown rice would be so tasty as a pizza?

Split Pea Soup methodology

Last time I mentioned making split pea soup for dinner. I did, it was amazing, I forgot to take a nice looking picture. 🙂 I also am someone who usually uses recipes for cooking (not baking) as merely a suggestion for how to possibly prepare a dish. So in this post I will share how I made the soup, and how I could have made it better. There will be very few specifics but lots of ideas for how to make a delicious bowl of pea-soupy-goodness including serving ideas.

So let’s get into it! First I chopped an onion. I have seen lots of people who know how to get the perfect dice by leaving the root end on and no matter what I do I can’t seem to get it. But I did recently see a tip for a no-tear way to chop onions and that was to keep your mouth shut the entire time you cut it. Don’t even talk! I gave it a try and it worked! But it was only one onion and I always cut along the latitude orientation first anyway, so I don’t usually have too much issue. It’s good to have more tips to not crying while chopping onions though!

Put the chopped onion in a medium pot with a small amount of water. Heat on medium to medium-high heat until fragrant and translucent. While that’s cooking, chop some garlic. When the onions are cooked enough for you, throw the garlic right in there. Add more water if it dries up and starts sticking. I like to season the veggies as they cook as well. This time I used poultry seasoning (the sage is so earthy!) but feel free to use whatever herbs and spices you fancy. I also used smoked paprika. Something about the smokiness and the split peas is so good to me!

When everything starts to smell really good, add some dried split peas. I used two cups of mixed green and yellow. In retrospect, I wish I’d soaked them. It took a lot longer to cook them than I wanted. But if you have extra cooking time it doesn’t matter as much. Now add enough water to fill the pot as full as the amount of soup you want to make. I also added a bay leaf here and a few drops of liquid smoke. Put a lid on to speed up cooking time or simply simmer until the peas are soft. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. This is my favorite thing to do because every time I stir I get to smell and taste the progress and adjust the seasoning as I go. When the peas were soft enough to eat I used an immersion (stick) blender to puree most of the peas. Then I put in a squirt of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. I ended up with a gorgeous, thick, hearty, chunky pea soup that was absolutely amazing!

Pea Soup 2I served the soup over rice. I asked my husband to cook brown rice but he made white rice by mistake. Not the end of the world. We both put rice into our bowls then ladled some pea soup over it and salted to taste. It was great as a topping for the rice and mixed up so the rice was more part of the soup. Play around and see how you like it. I also think this soup would be great over baked or mashed potatoes or with any other whole grain. Feel free to season or garnish with fresh herbs or lemon zest. Both are delish!

Next time I make this I will soak my peas! Soaked legumes and whole grains cook much faster. I also will make this on an afternoon that I am not at work and can actually take my time. The night I made this I started cooking around 8:30 pm and didn’t eat until around 9:30 which is very late, even for me! I also will take a pretty picture when I first serve myself. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was pretty darned hungry by the time the soup was ready. This picture is of my second bowl and you can see that I stirred the rice into the soup. It was great, though!

Do you like split pea soup? How do you make it? What is your favorite way to serve it? Share in the comments!