Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sparkle and Shine

Dear Readers,

Here they are: more speedy, yummy vegan meals!  I discovered an amazing website - with delicious and healthy vegan and gluten-free meals that are simple to make but taste far more complex and special.  Ms. Sparkles is an adorable Australian, so you need to convert some of her measurements from weight to cups, but other than that simple, simple, simple, yummy, yummy, yummy!

We made the Cashew Cream of Mushroom soup and the Moroccan Sweet Potato Chickpea soup over the last two evenings.  Both were incredible!  Vegan or no, you must try them!  Ms. Sparkles also has some desserts I've set my sights on that look divine.

Tips for healthy, speedy dinners:

*Keep your kitchen stocked.  With the following on hand, you'll never be stuck without what you need: canned beans, onions, garlic, veggie stock bouillon cubes, a good variety of frozen veggies and a well-stocked spice rack.  Frozen veggies are the best for soups because it cuts down on the wash/chop time, plus they're never under or over ripe.  I recently found an amazing blend of mushrooms in the frozen section at Whole Foods I used for the Mushroom Cashew soup and some frozen sweet potato chunks I used for the Moroccan Chickpea soup!

*You don't need to cook with oil.  Oil is 100% fat, some of it saturated, and none of it healthy.  Try to get your fats from whole foods, not extractions (like olive oil).  This is the one change I made to the Vegan Sparkles recipes - I didn't cook the onion/garlic/veggies in oil or margarine.  Veggies, and in particular onions, have water in them naturally.  So turn up the heat and just toss them in!  The key with caramelized onions without oil is a very hot pan.  You can also cook your veggies in a little veggie stock if you like.

*Chop, toss and go.  These soups have some cooking time, so toss everything in the pot right when you get home.  Dinner is still done in a flash!  Plus these recipes make enough for at least 4 adults, if not more, so you'll have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

*Get the gear.  Use a hand-blender to blend your soups if you have one.  And soaked nuts blended in a Vita-Mix makes any soup creamy and delicious without any dairy.  Obviously you don't have to buy a Vita-Mix (just think how much you're saving by not buying meat or eating out though!), but it really pulverizes the nuts into a perfect creamy base for your soup!  Seems so decadent, and yet it's healthy and wonderful.

Try these tricks and recipes and I promise you'll sparkle from the inside out too!

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