It's not often that I toot my own horn, so forgive me here while I do. My friends and family will tell you that I have shied away from the kitchen, because, well, when you have a husband who could take down Bobby Flay why bother. If you've read our "about" section, you'll know Mark is a professional creative, so cooking (and taking phenomenal food photos) is just an extension of that for him.
For me, cooking was a chore. Shop, chop, cook, feed, clean, repeat and repeat and repeat. Spending all that time to prepare a meal that was devoured in minutes and barely got "meh" reviews from my kids was defeating. Plus I wasn't good at it, which made bringing a dish to a friend's house paralyzing.
So when I took my health in my own hands, I knew I needed to figure out firsthand how to use food as medicine. The problem was many of the healthy recipes I saw didn't appeal to me. I'm not a fan of coconut oil despite its healthful properties. I won't make fake eggs from flax seeds. Beets and I don't get along. And as much as you try to make spaghetti squash taste like spaghetti, it really doesn't.
I want my healthy food to taste good, so my task was to find real food recipes that I could improve upon to make them healthier. Sometimes I swap coconut milk for cream or coconut sugar for refined sugar. Sometimes, I'll grind my own almonds to make almond flour or purée veggies to make a soup a meal. I'll also add nut butters and avocado to thicken up other dishes. I know olive oil doesn't have a high smoking point, but I like its flavor so I lower the heat. I like one-pot dishes and avoid dishes with too many steps, so I'll combine steps to simplify. I've learned what's ok to skip and what's a dish-breaker. Plus, when you feed your family and friends with a meal truly made from your heart and soul, it just tastes better.
That said, old habits die hard and I still feel a slight panic when a friend assigns me a dish to bring over. Even when I find myself volunteering to bring a meal to a friend, a little voice in my head says, "hope it doesn't suck." This Halloween was no different, except that despite that unsure feeling, I took a leap of faith and attempted a soup for the first time. Granted these are special friends who really love me and would have said nice things anyway, but they all genuinely raved. One even gave it an A++. This single soup gave me the sensation that I have arrived - like "Hey, look at me...I CAN really cook." The kitchen is no longer a scary and daunting place to me, but rather a little life lab...create, experiment, fail, try again, again, get it right. I have even taken on the first-ever attempt in my family to make Ace's (aka my mom) lasagna. It's legendary, so stepping up to the task is a new and exciting moment for me. Even Mark is impressed - and that says a lot.
So, here's the soup that made me super proud. Enjoy!
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
2 giant football-sized sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 cup peas (can be frozen)
1 1/2 can lite coconut milk
6 cups chicken broth (more for a thinner consistency)
In a large pot, steam half the sweet potato cubes until sweet potatoes are soft. (about 10 minutes). Set aside.
In the same large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of Kosher salt. Cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add curry powder and garlic and cook for another 30 seconds over medium heat.
Add lime juice, coconut milk, broth, steamed sweet potatoes only (keep uncooked sweet potato cubes separate for now), coconut sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a quick boil and then let cool for 15 minutes.
Purée soup in stages in Vitamix or high-speed blender. (I pour puréed soup into a large bowl and then return it all to the pot.)
Return puréed soup to the pot and add remaining sweet potato cubes. Bring to a boil.
Turn heat down to simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft (20 minutes).
Stir in the peas and spinach and cook for just another 2 mins.
Add red pepper flakes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Top with cilantro.
Note: spice kicks in a little later, so don't over spice right away. To reheat the next day, add a little broth to thin soup.
HEARTFUL RECIPE - One of our real food recipes that focuses on veggies, protein, healthy fats and/or healthy carbs and doesn't include gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, corn or peanuts.