Veggie Wonton Soup
Before I share this recipe, I must come clean. For the past few weeks, I’ve been very committed to the “Ketotarian” plan. I have cut out many of the foods that I love in order to see how I feel on a low-carb, no-sugar (and my kids tease by saying a “no-fun”) plan. My husband and I have been going strong by doing 5 days on, 2 days off. The problem with the two days off, though, is you find yourself letting loose. When the carbs called on the weekends, I answered. It’s a slippery slope from there. So, this past week I completely fell off the low-carb food wagon. Yesterday I decided to really go for the gold, by dining out for lunch to celebrate Chinese New Year, devouring chow mein, white rice, and loads of dumplings…then to cap it off, I decided I should try my hand at making Wonton Soup for dinner.
This was my first attempt and my family loved it. There are no leftovers, which is a good thing, as I’m back on the wagon, but have modified my food plan slightly. Now I’ll do low-carb, high-protein breakfasts and lunches, but allow some grains, legumes and soy back into the mix for dinners. I’m still on the no-processed sugar train though.
So, here’s the recipe for Veggie Wonton Soup. It’s really simple, especially if you use a couple hacks like purchasing already-made wonton wrappers and broth.
8 oz of two kinds of mushrooms, like shitake, oyster, or cremini. Really, choose mushrooms that you like, but ensure they are flavorful (in my opinion, white button mushrooms taste like nothing).
Wonton wrappers (I used the “Nasoya" brand)
4 sprigs of green onions, chopped finely (2 for broth, 2 for filling)
2 tsp minced garlic (1 for broth, 1 for filling)
2 tsp minced ginger (1 for broth, 1 for filling)
1 carton veggie broth (use a broth that is quite clear)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
3 cups spinach
Low-sodium soy sauce
Salt to taste and pepper optional
Prepare the wontons:
First, chop your mushrooms, green onions, garlic and ginger. Wash and roughly chop the spinach. Note: I used dried shitake mushrooms and dried black fungus as this is what I had on hand - I reyhdrated the dried mushrooms in some warm water for 20 minutes before cooking.
Warm your wok, add oil, then sauté the mushrooms with half of the white bulb portion of the green onions, and half the garlic and ginger. Sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Add coconut aminos and soy sauce to flavor. I don’t measure these sauces, but I would guess it’s a couple tablespoons of the coconut aminos and a tablespoon of soy sauce. If you don’t do soy, then just skip. I think the coconut aminos do the trick and you can always add a dash of salt at the end. Add half the chopped spinach and allow it to wilt. Add the chopped stems of the half the green onions. Turn off heat.
Once the filling has cooled slightly, make your wontons. Get a small bowl of water ready, and ensure you have a good work space. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton wrapper, then using your finger, wet the edges of the wrapper. Gently press the edges together forming a triangle, then layer one corner onto the other and crimp. It’s really important that you ensure the edges are sealed or they’ll break apart in the soup. Set your prepared wontons aside.
Prepare the broth:
Heat the pot, add cooking oil, then sauté the remaining white bulb portion of green onions with the remaining ginger and garlic for several minutes. Add veggie broth, rice vinegar and either a bit of soy sauce or salt to flavor.
You can toss the wontons into the broth OR (and this is my preference), boil the wontons separately, then ladle them into the broth. You know they are done when the wrappings become opaque, and if you’re not sure, taste one. Add the remaining spinach to the broth.
Serve with a little garnish of the chopped green onion stems. A super fun and tasty meal in the comforts of your home on a cold wintry day!
Blackened Halibut with Avocado-Orange Salsa
Starting today, my husband and I are trying a primarily plant-based keto diet, based on the best-selling book Ketotarian by Dr. Will Cole. I’m not a paid sponsor of his book, but I’m a big fan of the knowledge he shares. Quite a fascinating read and easily digestible (pun intended) when it comes to learning about optimal health.
The “ketotarian diet” is very similar to our current diet in that it is highly vegetarian, but includes wild-caught fish/seafood and eggs. It is dissimilar from our regular diet because it cuts out a lot of the food that we had come to enjoy, and deem as “healthy.” So, now we will avoid the following foods, (which research has shown to cause inflammation of various degrees): soy, corn, grains (of all kinds), legumes, dairy, sugar and alcohol.
Whoa. That’s a long list. As a vegetarian who eats fish once a week, I usually count on eating a good dose of legumes and protein-rich grains. I also eat soy and/or soy products a couple times a week. My weaknesses are cheese, bread and red wine. Très français, n’est-ce pas?
I’m not one to follow fads and was always perplexed by the astounding weight loss stories of those doing the typical meat-based keto diet. It also seemed to me that the meat-based keto diet was artery-clogging. I like Dr. Cole’s approach to consuming healthy plant-based fats, and adding the wild-caught fish/seafood was also right up my alley. He advocates eating more free-range eggs than I currently do, and adding nuts, oils and ghee into recipes to boost their fat and nutrient content.
Last night we made a delicious meal that I wanted to share. It’s something that we would have made previously without the keto association, but then of course, we’d definitely have added a high-starch as an accompaniment (potatoes, brown rice or quinoa). It was very satisfying without the starch component and kept us full for the evening. We made the meal for the whole family (so the recipe below makes four small-to-medium sized portions). We served it with a simple broccoli side. Everyone (including our kids) gobbled the entire meal up lickety-split.
Two 8 oz wild-caught halibut fillets (4 oz serving per person, about 1 inch thick)
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 navel orange, segmented (no pith) and cut to same size as avocado cubes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Mexican chili powder
Salt and pepper
Olive, avocado or grapeseed oil (not EVOO, as we will be using it to cook)
Chopped cilantro to garnish
Bunch of (organic) broccoli, cut with longer stems
1-2 tsp ghee
Chipotle mayo (our fave is the Primal Health brand)
Take your fish out of the refrigerator an hour prior to cooking. Make a rub with the paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Spread the rub generously on the halibut. In a separate bowl, mix together the avocado, red pepper, red onion and orange, and set aside.
Heat a stainless-steel pan. Add your oil to coat the hot pan. Here’s the tricky part and why my husband is in charge of cooking the fish in our house: gently place the fillets (rub-side down into the pan). I tend to get nervous about being burned that I practically throw the fish in. This is a no-no as it is a sure-fire way to get splashed with the hot oil. Please be careful.
Parboil, then drain the broccoli. Warm a non-stick pan. Add the ghee. Pan-fry the broccoli.
You’ll start to see when the fish will need to be flipped, as the lower half will become opaque. Don’t be in a rush to turn the fish because it will stick to the pan if you try to do so too early. Halibut is a less oily fish, so it can dry out quickly. Be mindful of this and careful to not overcook it.
Once the fish is cooked and the broccoli has nice charred marks, sprinkle both with salt and pepper.
To serve: plate the halibut with a large spoonful or two of salsa and garnish with cilantro; then, on the side, smear a spoonful of chipotle mayo on the plate and place several pieces broccoli on top.
Voilà! A healthy, five-star, restaurant quality meal at home!
Radish Greens Pesto
We love radishes. We buy them regularly at the farmers’ market and will top our salads with them, or just crunch on them with crackers and cheese. But we previously would just toss the leaves away. Not anymore!
Now, I wash the leaves and turn them into pesto! You can also sauté them with a little EVOO, onion, garlic and salt and pepper. They have a naturally yummy peppery taste. Here’s my pesto recipe in case you need a quick meal and have a bunch of radish leaves that you were going to compost.
Bunch of radish leaves (washed and dried)
4 cloves of garlic (less if you’re not obsessed with garlic as I am)
1/2 cup of pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil - about 1/2 cup (depends on pesto consistency - read about this below)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Squeeze of lemon juice (oops, not shown in the photo)
Put all the ingredients into a food processor, except for the lemon juice and salt/pepper, and whiz it up! Add additional olive oil if the pesto appears too thick. The consistency I aim for is akin to a thick smoothie. Add your lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. This makes the perfect amount for a large pasta meal with the family, or you can reserve it to use as a spread (we love to put it on veggie burgers). When creating your pasta dish, make sure to save some starchy pasta water to add to the pesto to thin it out a bit, and make the entire dish silky. Finish with parmesan reggiano if dairy works for you!
Also fun fact: radish greens have six times the vitamin C that the actual radish has, plus many other health benefits - ie. aside from being high in fiber, they contain antioxidants, vitamin B6 and calcium, just to name a few.
Slow Cooker Veggie Chili
It’s fall, so that means it’s time to dust off the slow cooker and start throwing things into it, then reaping the benefits.
One of my family’s favorite meals is veggie chili, and this recipe is super simple. I’ve played around with other recipes, and adapted this one as it takes minimal time, and bonus: it has loads of veggies, and not beans. Most times, veggie chilis are jam-packed with beans…which means they are heavier, and they cause ahem, digestive issues (I think you get the idea). So instead, this chili has quinoa as a main ingredient, which is a great source of protein and adds an appealing texture.
The only thing that really takes any effort in this meal is chopping the vegetables, but then everything else is done for you by your slow cooker…while you go and take care of other things (ie. life in general).
1 cup of dried beans (soaked for 24 hours and rinsed) - I used red beans called “sangre de toro” but anything will work *OR if you are in a rush, use 1 can of black or red beans*
2.5 cups of veggie broth
14 oz can of tomatoes (diced if possible)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup quinoa
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 onion (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
2 stalks celery (cut small)
1 small jalapeño (optional for spiciness)
1 green pepper (diced)
1 red pepper (diced)
2/3 cup of corn
2 tsp cumin
3 tsp chili powder (with oregano if possible, or simply add a tsp of oregano)
Salt and pepper to taste
Agave syrup (optional, and used sparingly to sweeten the chili if tomatoes aren’t sweet enough)
Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker except the salt, pepper and agave syrup. Stir ingredients and set your slow cooker to low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3 hours. If using dried beans, you may need to add more time (up to two hours) to soften the beans.
Once cooked, add salt and pepper, then taste your creation and add more if you need to “doctor” it as my Mum would say. Possibly add a drizzle of agave if necessary.
Serve with your favorite toppings. Our family loves grated cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, cilantro, avocado and crumbled tortilla chips. The recipe makes enough to feed the four of us, plus there are leftovers for lunches!