Detox Red Lentil Veggie Soup

Raise your hand if you spy someone who overindulged and under-exercised over the holidays and is now trying to pay for sins with healthier options. In the fall, I was all about cookies. But now that January has hit, and it’s been so “Texas cold,” I’ve been all about soups, and this is a good one.

As with all soups, it’s best not to get too persnickety with the exact ingredients. Use the veggies you like – I substituted butternut squash for sweet potato, for about half the calories and carbs. 

If you have an immersion blender, it’s perfect for this recipe. If you don’t, I’ll tell you it comes in so handy for things like soup and is $20 at Amazon – so much easier than dumping back and forth to the blender. (Happy Valentines Day, anyone?) OK, here’s the recipe.

Splash or two of extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
3 sticks celery, sliced
1 cup carrots, slided
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped (can substitute butternut squash)
1.5 cups red lentils, uncooked
1 t. turmeric
1 T. cumin
1 t. salt (to taste)
8 cups water
1/ 2 lemon, juiced

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium high heat.

Add leek, garlic, celery, carrots, red bell pepper, sweet potato, turmeric, cumin and salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add red lentils, water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Using a hand blender, blend soup right in the pot to desired consistency.

Stir in lemon juice and taste check for any additional salt.

Adapted from Colorful Recipes

Overnight Oatmeal with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

This recipe will change your life (and probably lower your cholesterol!). You can make delicious, steel cut oatmeal once a week and have it on the table in less than 10 minutes the first day and about one minute on subsequent days. I started my quest to speed up steel cut oatmeal after I had the Best Oatmeal Ever at a hotel in Portland with my friend Jessica. It was so good that I even gave her the ingredients as a gift. But I hate giving a gift that complicates life, so I was so happy to come across this speedy trick.

Just soak your oatmeal on Sunday night, and you have a whole week’s worth that tastes as good as the first day! Take time to find muscovado brown sugar if you can; it’s a special touch. I use sliced almonds and dried cranberries from Costco, but the hotel served hazelnuts, and of course you could use raisins for the fruit. Either way, yum! I found the recipe on The Bitten Word, adapted from Food & Wine in 2008.

Overnight Oatmeal with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water
1/4 cup chopped salted roasted almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Brown sugar or pure maple syrup, for serving

In a large saucepan, boil the oats in the water for 1 minute. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, uncover the oats and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is cooked and creamy but still a little bit chewy, about 10 minutes. Spoon the oatmeal into bowls. Top with the chopped almonds and dried cranberries and sweeten to taste with brown sugar or pure maple syrup.

Make Ahead: The prepared oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Rewarm in a microwave oven and thin with water if necessary before serving.

Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Waffles

This isn’t an “old standby” YET, but I made them this morning and LOVED putting all of them in the freezer! Hudson loves a waffle or pancake for breakfast, and now I can serve it semi-healthy and homemade! This recipe is from Alton Brown’s cookbook and appeared on the Food Network before I saw it in the Statesman.

Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Waffles

This recipe makes about a dozen 8-inch waffles.

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbsp. sugar

6 eggs, beaten

8 Tbsp. butter, melted

4 cups (or 1 quart) buttermilk (make your own by adding 1/4 cup white vinegar to measuring cup, then fill with 3 3/4 cup milk; let set for 5 minutes before using)

Preheat waffle iron. In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and melted butter until emulsified. Whisk in buttermilk. Combine wet and dry ingredients, but do not overmix. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. Cook waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To freeze: Let waffles cool completely and then freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, place in a zip-top plastic bag, squeezing the extra air out before sealing the bag to help prevent freezer burn.