Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Why Beets Make the Most Beautiful Cold Soup

Beets

Beets get a bad rap. Healthy and sweet, roasted beets are delicious on their own, in a salad or a refreshing soup.

Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Cold Beet Soup

Borsht

Growing up, I associated them with borsht. Made by Manischewitz, a leading producer of kosher foods, the tall colorful jar in the refrigerator didn’t look like my vision of soup. My grandmother, a Russian immigrant, loved it, and had it for lunch with a boiled potato. Since it wasn’t served for dinner, I happily gave this strange feast a wide berth. I never even tried it.

Uncooked Beets

Raw Beets

Pickled

Pickled beets occasionally accompanied dinner. However, the tangy flavor of pickled vegetables did not fit with my childhood preference for less piquant flavors.

Roasting

I attribute my epiphany to a beautiful plate of beet ravioli. The fresh roasted filling contained an incomparable sweetness, erasing all previous memories. Although I now know that roasting any vegetable increases its sweetness, the transformation it brings about in the beet is truly remarkable.

Beets Finished Roasting

Roasted Beets

Beets Nutrition

Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. The benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and detoxification support. They are also rich in antioxidants.

Beet Recipes

My go to recipe for the vegetable was roasted beet salad until I discovered cold beet soup. Sweet, tangy and refreshing, it’s perfect for a hot day. Saltibarsciai  is a  specialty of Lithuania. It’s garnished with a combination of cucumber, dill, scallions or hard boiled eggs and often served with a side of boiled potatoes. Attempting to modernize my grandmother’s favorite lunch, I updated the recipe to take full advantage of the fresh roasted flavor. Unlike traditional recipes, my recipe begins with roasting beets rather than boiling. I want to extract every ounce of sweet flavor into the dish.

Beets Coated in Olive Oil

Beets Prepared for Roasting

Lunch

For other lunch ideas try my recipes for authentic poke, twice – baked potatoes or kale salad.

Recipe

Cold Beet Soup

4-6 Servings

4 medium beets, scrubbed

Olive oil

1/4 heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

2 cups kefir

11/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

Sliced cucumber

 

Preheat oven to 400F. Place cleaned beets on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool until they are not hot to the touch. Peel off skins. They should come off easily. If  some skin remains take it off with a peeler. Grate peeled beets.

Roasted and Grated Beets

Grated Beets

Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold in the kefir. Mix with grated beets and puree. Taste. Add lemon juice if necessary to balance the sweetness. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced cucumber.

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir for Cold Beet Soup

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir

For a heartier meal add sliced radish, scallions, and hard boiled eggs Serve with a side of boiled potatoes with parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chopped Tomatoes
Video

How This Easy Gazpacho Recipe Can Keep You Cool

Authentic Gazpacho

I love gazpacho. Chopped vegetables in cold juice are so restorative on a hot day. Nevertheless, I knew my go to recipe was far from authentic. A variation on Ina Garten’sfrom The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, it has chopped vegetables rather than pureed. Most Spanish recipes for gazpacho feature smooth soups, with chunky vegetables and croutons used as a garnish. With this year’s tomato season underway I could rectify my departure from tradition. I would find a new recipe.

Chopped Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Spanish Chefs

To learn the history of Spanish food I read Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. I then moved on to the other end of the spectrum with Omar Alibhoy’s simple yet modern interpretations of classic cuisine from Tapas Revolution. Surprisingly, traditional recipes seemed less complicated. It’s much simpler to puree everything in a blender than to keep each individual ingredient crunchy.

Chopped Red Pepper

Red Pepper

Spices

Spain fell under Islamic rule in the 700’s. In 929 Abd-Al-Rahman III declared himself caliph of a state independent of Bagdad, Cordoba. During this time Spain’s culture flourished, including the areas of agriculture and gastronomy. Trade in spices and aromatics was heavy throughout the Mediterranean, the Islamic world, the Far East and India.  Spanish cooking techniques still show the influences of the many Jewish and Muslim traders. I followed Omar Alihboy’s suggestion to add cumin to my gazpacho. Cumin was already a feature of Spanish recipes when Ferdinand and Isabella married in 1469.

Raw Garlic

Garlic

Agriculture

Gazpacho comes from Seville, the province in Spain where tomatoes originate. It was the food of agricultural laborers working in vegetable gardens. They would bring olive oil, salt and vinegar to the fields with their mortar and pestle. The fresh vegetables could then be pounded and dressed for the day’s meal. Until the mid-twentieth century 80% of Spain’s population was employed in agriculture.

 Gazpacho

Smooth Gazpacho

New Recipe

I love that this gazpacho can be served as a traditional cold soup with garnishes, or as a shooter with brunch. I can waited to try it with bagels and lox. For other summer food ideas try my Summer Kale SaladGrilled Sweet Potatoes, or Southwestern Salad.

Smooth Gazpacho with Vegetable Garnish

Smooth Gazpacho Garnished with Vegetables

Smooth Gazpacho

Serves 8

3 slices white bread

4 pounds tomatoes, stem and had white area removed

3 red pepper seeds removed and quartered

2 cloves garlic, root removed

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

8 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes

Dice 1/2 cup each of red pepper and cucumber. Slice 4 scallions

 

Toast the bread, remove the crusts. Cube the toast.

 

Add all the ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth. Serve as a shooter in a glass or garnished with red pepper, cucumber and scallion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Drink

When You Need A Thirst Quenching Summer Drink

 

Refreshing Summer Drink

A refreshing summer drink made from fruits and vegetables is just what I want in July. By midsummer, the farmer’s markets are full of more beautiful ingredients than I can eat. That’s when I need to get out my juice recipes.

Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables

Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables for a Summer Drink

Herbs

My herb garden is my newest summer drink inspiration. Basil, mint, parsley and cilantro figure prominently in my recipes. Full of flavor, they add complexity to any beverage.  A mix of basil, watermelon, apple and lime juice is my newest after dinner treat. It’s sweet, filling and nutritious.  The basil also aids digestion and has mild sedative properties which makes it a perfect compliment to a evening meal.

Basil

Basil in the Herb Garden

Exercise

I take walks as a break from writing. It’s nice to get some fresh air after hours of solitude. When I get home I usually make a hydrating summer drink. The one that I make most ofen is a watermelon Agua Fresca. Watermelon is full of water and fiber. In the body, fiber acts as sponge, releasing water as the body needs it. Sweet and sour, it’s perfect for a hot day. For my Watermelon Agua Fresca recipe follow this link to my page on 30second.com. Also for more ideas about how to balance working remotely, check out my contributions to 7 Ways to Overcome Social Isolation on The Art of Happy Moving.

Sliced Watermelon

Watermelon

Green Juice

I wasn’t sure if I would like homemade green juice. I have mixed feeling about the packaged varieties. However, when I upgraded to a Vitamix blender, juicing became easy. It pulverizes everything. I just balance the flavors. Admittedly, a novice green juicer, I still rely on the sweetness of the fruit to balance the greens. Nevertheless, it’s a healthy low calorie snack that can be made in just minutes. It’s also more nutritious than packaged juices that remove the fiber. Try offering it to children who aren’t willing to eat spinach or kale. They might be entertained by the idea of sweet green juice, or willing to try it on a dare. Here’s my recipe. Let me know if it works for your family.

Homemade Green Juice

Green Juice

More Summer Drink Recipes

For mre summer drink ideas try my recipes for iced tea or a low alcohol Pimm’s Cup on my posts How to Make Perfect Iced Tea  or How to Create Your Favorite Summer Cocktail.

A Refreshing Summer Drink

Pimm’s Cup, a Refreshing Summer Drink

Recipe

Sweet Green Juice 

Serves: 1

1/2 cup Watermelon, cubed (rind and seeds removed)

1/2 cup Red Grapes

1/2 of a Banana

2 cups Spinach, stems removed

1/2 cup Ice

If you have a powerful blender add all the ingredients to the blender. Pulverize and serve. Otherwise, juice the grapes. Then add the juice with the other ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kale Salad

Why You Want a Better Kale Salad Recipe

A healthy kale salad might be a cliche, but it can also  be delicious.s Even people who hate cabbage like them. Low calorie and filled with fiber a kale salad is a perfect antidote to an indulgent holiday weekend.

Kale Salad

Sumer Kale Salad

I have to admit I didn’t expect to like kale. I don’t like cooked greens. Won over by kale chips I thought I’d try it raw. Not as delicate as spinach, fresh kale is is best chopped in a salad with bold flavors.

Raw Kale

Kale

I spread tiny bites of cheese, nuts and fruit throughout, to balance the dark leafy green. My summer recipe has sharp and salty Pecorino Romano, sweet cherries and toasted walnuts. Dressed with fruity vinaigrette, it makes a perfect lunch or side dish.

Fresh cherries

Cherries

If you are looking for more healthy recipes try my Yogurt Parfait or Roasted Salmon. They are easy to make, and nutritious.

Yogurt with Blueberries and Almonds

Yogurt Parfait

For ideas on how to lose weight read my posts a Healthy Way to Lose Weight or Food is a Way of Life.

 

Please share your favorite summer salad.

RECIPE

Summer Kale Salad

Serves 3 for lunch or 6 for dinner

 

6 handfuls kale (center stalk removed)

1 ounce Pecorino Romano, diced

1 ounce toasted walnuts, chopped

1 ounce pitted sweet cherries, chopped

Salt

Pepper

 Toasted Walnuts

Chopped Walnuts

Combine kale, Pecorino Romano, toasted walnuts and chopped cherries together. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste. Dress with Lemon Vinaigrette.

Fresh Lemon

Lemon

Lemon Vinaigrette

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Teaspoon maple syrup

 

Whisk together maple syrup and lemon juice. Whisk in the oil one table spoon at a time until emulsified.

 

 

You Need These Simple Healthy Breakfast Ideas for a Fun Summer

On hot days I like a cold breakfast. I also want a breakfast recipe that is simple, healthy and packed with protein.

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Banana Coconut Breakfast Jar

Growing bored of toast, I started noticing enticing overnight oat jars. Stirred together than put in the refrigerator, they couldn’t be easier. I added chia seeds to turn the mixture into a smooth pudding and increase the nutritional value. I also increased the health benefits by adding ground flax seeds.

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Banana Coconut Breakfast Jar with Almond Butter

I think my favorite breakfast jar topping is peanut butter and blueberries. A close second was a banana coconut variation with almond butter. There are endless combinations. Try it with your favorite cereal, yogurt or oatmeal topping. Post your favorites!

TRKA6055

Peanut Butter and Blueberry Breakfast Jar

For other healthy breakfast recipes try my Peanut Butter and Vanilla Smoothie, Yogurt Parfait or Tropical Smoothie Bowl.

Peanut Butter Blueberry Breakfast Jar

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ milk of your choice

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Blueberries

Stir together rolled oats, milk, chia seeds, flax seeds nut butter and maple syrup and refrigerate overnight. In the morning fill the remaining space in the jar with blueberries and serve.

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Blueberries

Banana Coconut Breakfast Jar

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ milk of your choice

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Sliced banana

Unsweetened shredded coconut

Stir together rolled oats, milk, chia seeds, flax seeds nut butter and maple syrup and refrigerate overnight. In the morning fill the remaining space in the jar with sliced banana, shredded coconut and serve.

 

Find Out the Latest Way to Make Grilled Vegetables Remarkable

I love summers in Chicago, so I try to enjoy every minute. I work outside, eat outside and cook outside. Lately I’ve been grilling what I find at the farmers market.

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Grilled Sweet Potato Yogurt Bowl

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Chicago

My newest discovery is grilled sweet potatoes. Soft and custardy inside, they have the marvelous consistency of a roasted sweet potato without having the oven on for an hour.

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Grilled Sweet Potatoes

They’re delicious as a replacement for fries, or drizzled with sweet – tart pomegranate molasses. Although I enjoy it as a healthy side dish, my true favorite is having it for lunch topped with both pomegranate molasses and Greek yogurt.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves 4         

 3 sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon sal

1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Peel sweet potatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise. Cut each half in quarters to make eight spears. Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl with the olive oil, paprika and salt. Toss until the seasoning and olive oil is evenly distributed over the potatoes.

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Sliced Sweet Potatoes

Grill over indirect heat, turning every five minutes for approximately 30 minutes. The sweet potatoes are done when they are easily pierced with a fork. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with pomegranate molasses.

 

Sweet Potato and Yogurt Bowl

Serves 1

4 grilled sweet potato spears

½ cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses

Arrange 4 grilled sweet potato spears in a bowl. Top with Greek yogurt. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses.

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Make Sensational Easy Summer Recipes with Spark Syrup

Warm days make me crave summer salads. Maybe I just want to get out to the patio, but heavy complicated foods lose their appeal.

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Southwestern Salad

While I have many favorite salad recipes, I wanted something new. I decided my inspiration would be a homemade salad dressing made with Spark Syrup’s Hibiscus Lime Ginger Syrup.

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Hibiscus, Ginger Lime Spark Syrup

The refreshing sweet and sour flavors of hibiscus, lime and ginger made me think of Mexican aqua frescas, so I paired it with a chopped southwestern salad. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are a healthy simple summer dinner.

 

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Corn Cut From the Cob

Spark Syrup is a locally made product that is a delicious addition to sparkling wine or cocktails. For ideas just follow the recipes on the bottle. In the Chicago area it can be found at Pagoda Red, Stumble and Relish, Vinic Wine and D&D Finer Foods. Throughout the month of June it will be available at the Evanston_made pop-up at the Evanston Art Center. It can also be purchased online at https://www.facebook.com/sparksyrup. This is their salad dressing recipe.

Hibiscus Vinaigrette

3 Tablespoons Spark Syrup

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

2/3 cup olive oil

Mix together the syrup, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until it emulsifies.

Chopped Southwestern Salad

Serves 2

 2 chicken breasts

Sprinkling of cumin

Salt

Pepper

6 handfuls combined romaine lettuce and baby spinach

1 cup chopped red pepper

1 cup peeled and chopped jicama

2 ears of corn, cooked and kernels removed from the cob

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and dried

Wash, dry and season the chicken breasts. Grill or broil the chicken breasts on high 7 minutes then turn and cook another 5. Turn the broiler to low or put on indirect heat another 5-10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160F. Let rest 5 minutes then chop.

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Peeled and Cubed Jicama

Layer the greens in a large bowl. Layer the salad ingredients in sections on top. Drizzle with dressing and toss.