Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Go ahead and book this one for your post-Easter meal – a Vegetarian Barley Blacked Eyed Pea Soup recipe. After indulging in the traditions – ham, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and what not – you’re going to want something a little on the lighter side afterwards.

But this Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe isn’t just great for a post-feast recovery meal. You can use it for a light entrée any time. In fact, I made a big batch of this one Sunday and saved off individual servings to store in the freezer for later. I’ve had them after post-work workouts and just-plain lazy days, and they’ve been a relief to have on hand. Served with saltines or (my preference) toasted whole grain bread with a light smear of butter, this is easy eats perfection.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

If you’ve been reading The Chic Life for long, you know I’m a big fan of homemade soup.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

There aren’t many things I think re-heat better, and I’m so over canned soup. I haven’t had any in years since the canned versions usually have so many extra, unnecessary ingredients and entirely too much salt. With each passing year, I’m turning more and more into that stubborn old woman who knows exactly what she wants and demands nothing less, and I’m okay with that.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Did I mention there’s kale in this Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe? Yep. As you know, I’m a fan of this dark green superfood. And hey, it’s one of the most hipster foods, apparently.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Guess I’d better stock up on craft beer and PBR to make this a complete meal.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe
 
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Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe makes for a great, light meal for lunch or dinner or even a nice, cozy snack. Enjoy with toasted whole grain bread or saltines.
*Vegetarian, vegan*
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 medium-large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 32-ounce boxes broth of choice
  • 2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package (8.8 ounces) 10 minute barley from Trader Joe’s, rinsed (or sub any type of barley, but adjust cooking time, as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 6 sprays Bragg’s Amino Acids, optional
  • fresh parsley, chopped, optional
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add broth, black eyed peas, barley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until barley is done, 12-15 minutes (or until cooked according to package directions if you’re using another type of barley). Add more water if you want the soup more brothy.
  4. If using, spray in Bragg’s Amino Acids. Taste test and season with additional salt and/or pepper (or Bragg’s), as needed.
  5. Serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if using, and enjoy.
Notes
Note: I used 10 minute barley from Trader Joe’s, which I recently discovered. This saves a lot of cooking time since most barley cooks for more like 45-50 minutes, but you can use any type of barley you wish. Just be sure to cook the soup long enough so the barley is the texture you want.


Note: If you store the leftovers for later, you may notice the barley soaks up more of the liquid. When you go to re-heat it, you may wish to add some more broth or water to make it more liquidy.


Ingredient Note: I really like the canned black eyed peas from Eden Organic. Not only are the beans organic, the can is BPA free. The ingredients are simply organic black eyed peas, water, and kombu seaweed. Eden Organic uses the kombu instead of salt when cooking their beans since it offers many benefits, including adding flavor and working as a tenderizer for dried beans.

 

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Happy cooking!

10 Easy Kale Recipes

Kale is still king in the land of vegetables and healthy eating, and if you haven’t tried it yet or don’t cook with it often, I wanted to share 10 simple ways to use this superfood. Here are 10 Easy Kale Recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!

10 Easy Kale Recipes

 

10 Easy Kale Recipes

So why is kale so great? According to whfoods.com:

The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.

Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (1) antioxidant nutrients, (2) anti-inflammatory nutrients, and (3) anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates.

Click here for the source information and to read more about the health benefits of kale on whfoods.com.

Let’s jump into the 10 easy kale recipes…

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10 Easy Kale Recipes

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1 – Piña Colada Green Monster Smoothie Recipe – just in time for the warm weather and not just for happy hour!

Put kale in a smoothie: This is my favorite way to eat kale because it’s so fast, easy, and tastes great. This is the fastest of the 10 easy kale recipes. You can add kale to your favorite smoothie to give it a pretty green color and boost the nutrition. Usually taking only 5-10 minutes to prep and blend, you can enjoy your kale for breakfast or a snack (or a dessert – see next recipe).

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2 – Cookies ‘N Cream Green Monster Smoothie Recipe – and since I like smoothies so much, here’s another one to whip up sometime soon. Try it for breakfast or switch things up and make it for a light dessert.

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3 – Green Monster Muffin Recipe – for the baking lover.

Bake your smoothie? And since we’re talking about green monsters, here’s a play on the famous smoothie that I adapted into a muffin recipe! The recipe calls for spinach, but you can sub kale. I should know…I have a new green monster muffin recipe variation just waiting to be blogged.

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4 – Easy Kale Chips Recipe – a recipe along with helpful photos and my other tips to ensure successful chips.

Bake Your Kale: And if you’re looking for a baking recipe that isn’t sweet, have you heard of kale chips yet? Of all of the 10 easy kale recipes, this one may be the most well-known. I’m thinking most of you have, but if you haven’t, then click the link above for more details. I wouldn’t say they’re a fair substitution for my beloved salt and vinegar potato chips, but these are delicious in their own right.

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5 – Marinated Kale Recipe – This goes great as a side for any meal, but it holds especially well for a pack lunch to take to the office or on a trip.

Marinate Your Kale: If you don’t feel like cooking your kale, besides putting it into a smoothie, you can also eat it raw as a salad. My favorite is massaged with soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger for an Asian-inspired taste.

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6 – Southwest Quinoa Breakfast Bowl – a new kind of breakfast.

Steam Your Kale: You can eat steamed kale straight up for a simple side, but I really like this recipe for a unique breakfast recipe. If you’re looking to eat more vegetables, don’t forget about breakfast! This would also make a great light meal. Bonus – according to whfoods.com, steaming kale increases its cholesterol-lowering ability.

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7 – Tangy Greens – mixed with other greens and apple cider vinegar, these only take a couple minutes to sauté up.

Sauté Your Kale: Many recipes recommend braising kale for a long time, but I like it sautéed, which takes less time. Braised is great, but go sautéed when you’re short on time.

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8 – Vegetarian Italian Farro Soup – simple, delicious and perfect for a light meal any time of year.

Put Kale in Soup: Since kale wilts down so easily, I love to take a bunch, rip it into bite-sized pieces, and toss it into soup. Just a couple minutes of prep work adds extra vegetables and nutrition to your favorite soup recipe. Though 2 of the 10 easy kale recipes are for soup, you could use this method to upgrade almost any soup recipe.

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9 – Spiced Red Lentil and Kale Soup – zesty and flavorful. I had to add a second soup since this is such an easy way to eat kale.

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10 – Healthified Beef Stew – slow cooker beef stew gets an easy addition.

Healthify Comfort Foods: When I was making this beef stew recipe, I decided to throw kale in at the end because…why not? I can’t decide if this is me being really into eating my greens or being a lazy healthy eater looking for shortcuts. Hmm…I’m thinking of adding some kale to chicken and dumplings next!

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Happy cooking! Hope you enjoyed this recipe round-up of 10 easy kale recipes. Enjoy your greens! And remember to share this post for 10 easy kale recipes if you found it helpful!

Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

You’ve already seen my recipe for a simple, 3-ingredient almond butter smoothie. This time, I’m bringing you an Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe! I just made a couple simple additions to my basic recipe to make the smoothie extra healthy.

Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie

My simple almond butter smoothie has three ingredients:

  1. banana
  2. milk
  3. almond butter

Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie

I added a couple health-boosting ingredients to the basic recipe to turn it into an Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie.

Dates

Dates add a little extra sweetness to the flavor of this smoothie, but they’re good for you, too! According to The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, a “single date has calcium and magnesium in an almost perfect 1:1 ratio (15 mg to 14 mg), 1 1/2 g of fiber, and more than 160 mg of heart-healthy potassium. There’s even a smidgen of vitamin A, plus trace amounts of a half dozen of other vitamins and minerals.”

Ground Flaxseed

An article about flaxseeds on whfoods.com says, “The seeds of most plants are rich in nutrients and can provide us with health benefits. Yet flaxseeds are also nutritionally unique and offer us health benefits not found across the board within the seeds food group. The nutritional uniqueness of flaxseeds features three nutrient aspects.” You can read about those three aspects (omega 3 fatty acid content, lignans, and mucilage (gum) content by clicking here.

Cinnamon

According to Dr. Oz, “As we age, many of us may experience muscle and joint pain due to arthritis. Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help relieve that pain. Furthermore, cinnamon’s antibiotic properties help prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease, and have been shown to kill the harmful bacteria, E.coli.”

Healthy and delicious!

Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie

Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe
 
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This Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie takes a classic recipe up a notch with a couple simple, healthful additions. Read more about why these ingredients are healthy above in the blog post.
Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened rice milk)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 date, pitted
  • dash of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place milk, banana, almond butter, flaxseed, and date in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until ingredients are processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste test and if desired, blend in sweetener of choice to taste.
  3. Pour into a glass and add a dash of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
Notes
This single serving recipe multiplies easily to server more

 

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What are your favorite ingredients to amp up smoothies?

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

I think some of my friends think that I always maintain healthy eating habits. But, sometimes I have a tendency to get caught up with things and start skipping out on some of those habits. Work gets crazy, and my schedule becomes overwhelming. Once in awhile, I find myself missing out on sleep and making poor food choices. And sometimes those choices are less about picking unhealthy things than remembering to incorporate good, nutritious ones into my daily eats/drinks.

I was in one of those slumps recently. One thing that helped me out was buying some locally made vegetable juices (from Viva Raw) and having a smoothie every day or so. I really think the vegetable and fruit nutrition helped me get back in gear. It also gave me an excuse to play around with smoothie recipes. I decided to try a simple Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie first. Next, I tried an extra-healthified Almond Butter Smoothie. The recipe for the simple version is at the end of this post. I’ll be sharing the other one soon.

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

I love creative ingredients and all, but sometimes it’s nice to make something with just a handful of staples. This healthy Almond Butter Smoothie is made with only three ingredients. And, none of those ingredients is a sweetener! Yup, this smoothie uses the natural sweetness of a banana.

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

The key ingredient is a good almond butter. You’ll get almost all of your flavor from this ingredient, so pick one you enjoy eating. This Once Again Raw Creamy Almond Butter was on sale recently, so I decided to check it out. I’m not gonna lie, I prefer an almond butter made with roasted almonds and salt for a deeper flavor. This one is quite light.

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

However, for a non-homemade almond butter, the ingredient list is impressive.

Ingredients: raw pasteurized almonds

Yup, just one ingredient. No chemicals or additives. Just straight up almonds.

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

This smoothie is a great everyday smoothie, but there are also a ton of ways to jazz it up. More on that on my next post for the Amped Up Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe.

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe

Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie Recipe
 
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This Healthy Almond Butter Smoothie recipe is a cinch to whip up. It only uses three staple ingredients, too, and you can easily add in others to your liking. Remember to choose an almond butter you really love since it will be the main flavor of this smoothie. Did I mention there are no added sugars in this smoothie? Woohoo!
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened rice milk)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
Instructions
  1. Place milk, banana, and almond butter in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until ingredients are processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste test and if desired, blend in sweetener of choice to taste.
  3. Enjoy!
Notes
This recipe uses the sweetness of bananas for natural sugar. If it’s not sweet enough for you, you can blend in some more sweetener of choice.

A frozen banana is recommended for a nice, frosty texture. But, you can sub a non-frozen banana. I’d just recommend adding a couple cubes of ice to the mix.

 

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Have a great week! And, remember to eat your fruits and veggies!

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas {Recipe}

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places sometimes. I was in the office break room the other day waiting for my lunch to finish heating. As I stood there, a man came in with a pouch that looked to have come from Target. He microwaved the pouch for a minute or so and then poured the contents into a bowl. They tumbled out with a puff of steam. It looked like quinoa, chickpeas, red bell pepper, and spinach. And it looked good. Since I’m not a fan of processed food, I immediately started thinking of how I could create a similar concoction with whole foods.

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that I had time to play with the idea, but the result was a success. I made Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad (with chickpeas, red bell pepper, and spinach).

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad Recipe

I love the versatility of this recipe. You can serve it as a fun side dish or protein-packed vegan/vegetarian entrée.

Did you know that quinoa is a great source of protein for non-meat-eaters? According to this Natural News article on quinoa:

Quinoa is perhaps one of the most perfect non-animal sources of protein on the planet. What makes quinoa (pronounce keen-wah) unique is that it is the only plant based source of complete protein. “Complete” means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are crucial to human function and health.

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad Recipe

As I was working on this recipe, I wasn’t sure how to season the quinoa at first. When I originally saw the packaged quinoa dish at work, I could only capture the ingredients with my eyes. I only saw the major components. But, lemon turned out to be a good choice. I think it really brightens up the flavor. And, the lemon also makes this a great dish for the upcoming spring season. Potlucks, anyone?

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad Recipe

I enjoyed this Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad with a slice of broccoli cheddar quiche with a whole wheat crust. The recipe for the quiche (and another flavor!) is queued up for another day.

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad Recipe

Feel free to switch up the mixing to our liking. This recipe is pretty versatile.

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad Recipe

Warm Lemon Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas {Recipe}
 
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This recipe makes for a great protein-packed vegan/vegetarian entrée or everyday side dish. Consider even trying it for breakfast. Top it with a fried egg! And, freshest is always best, but this dish also reheats well for easy leftover eats.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (cooked according to package directions – I used water, but broth would be more flavorful)
  • 1½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach (or sub baby spinach, about 4-6 loose cups – it wilts down!)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon, plus more to taste
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add chickpeas and spread to an even layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir and repeat. Move to a bowl.
  2. If needed, add a little extra olive oil (about ½ tablespoon). Add the bell peppers and cook for about 2 minutes, until just softening.
  3. Add spinach and 1 tablespoon water and cover with a lid to steam for 1 minute. Remove lid, stir and cook till wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add quinoa, chickpeas, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Taste test and season with additional garlic salt, salt, and/or pepper, as desired. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
Serving size will depend on whether you serve this as an entrée or side dish.

 

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Here are some more great quinoa recipe ideas (from breakfast to dessert):

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If you like this recipe, let me know by sharing this recipe using one of the share buttons below or leaving a comment. I love hearing from you! And, your feedback lets me know what kinds of recipes/posts to do in the future!

Happy cooking!

Healthy Hot Chocolate {Clean Eats}

Snowed in? Here’s an idea…

Healthy Hot Chocolate (made with only four ingredients)

Healthy Hot Chocolate

I used hot chocolate packets for many years. They were just too convenient. Open, add to hot milk or water, stir, drink. So simple, right? But not only can you make from-scratch hot chocolate with the same simplicity, you can also control the quality of ingredients and make it a little healthier.

Plus, have you seen what they put in some conventional hot chocolate packets? Here’s an example from one popular, unnamed brand:

SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.

What is all that stuff? There are more than a dozen ingredients in that list, and if you’re a Michael Pollan fan like me, you’ll notice you can’t pronounce many of them. Food Rules fail. On top of that, who puts vegetable oil in hot chocolate? I mean, can you imagine making hot chocolate and stirring vegetable oil and corn syrup into your mug? And instead of sprinkling in cinnamon, you sprinkled in a dash of sodium aluminosilicate or sodium caseinate. Yum?

You know what the ingredient list is for the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder I used? It’s:

Cocoa

Yup, that’s it.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

But, then, I started thinking, well maybe they used semi-sweet chocolate pieces that were melted down?

However, here’s the ingredient list for a Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar:

Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin – an emulsifier, vanilla)

I’m not saying the long ingredient list is bad, it’s just…why would you want to eat that when you can eat hot chocolate made with only four simple ingredients?

(I keep referencing Ghirardelli because I bought a bunch on major sale awhile back, but there are lots of good, pretty clean chocolate producers out there. Check your local health food store.)

Healthy Hot Chocolate

My healthy hot chocolate ingredient list contains the following:

Milk, cocoa powder, raw sugar, vanilla extract

It’s a simple list and pretty much just as easy to make as the kind that comes out of a box. I wrote the recipe for heating the milk on the stove because I’m one of those hippies who doesn’t like using the microwave. But, you can use whatever you want to warm up your milk.

Bottom line – you don’t need those packets once you know how easy from-scratch hot cocoa is!

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Healthy Hot Chocolate {Clean Eats}
 
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Ditch the packets of hot chocolate that come out of a box! Clean eats hot chocolate is just as easy and a thousand times better. Here’s a simple recipe that uses only four primary ingredients.
*Vegetarian, Vegan*
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice (I used rice milk, vegan)
  • 2 rounded teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, optional
Instructions
  1. Place milk in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of rice milk in a small bowl. Whisk until a paste/thick mixture forms and powder is absorbed. Add additional tablespoon of rice milk, if needed.
  3. Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling.
  4. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
  5. Serve and enjoy once the drink is cool enough to safely drink.
Notes
The directions above are for a stovetop preparation, but you can just as easily make this in the microwave.

Multiplies easily if you need more than a single serving.

 

Enjoy your hot cocoa!

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