Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit…

Hi Family and Friends!

My Gorgeous Mother - 9-year Breast Cancer Survivor
Strongest, Most Positive Woman that I know
Growing up, I was blessed in having a mother who taught herself how to cook.  After 39 years, she has come a long way from her first meal prepared for my father (her boyfriend at the time) of fresh white fish “soup.”  Well… intended to be baked white fish, but accidentally over-baked it and the actual fish disintegrated into soup.  When I first began cooking, I had no idea what I was doing.  Literally.  However, by studying in Paris, absorbing as much knowledge as possible while working in 3 Michelin-starred restaurants, experimenting, learning from “failures” and allowing my natural God-given talent to shine through experience, I am fortunate to share what I have learned with those that I love.  Cooking is intimidating when venturing into the unknown for the first time.  But what adventure isn’t?
Go Green!

Regardless, mom experimented as a newlywed and quickly turned her inexperience into a passion.  She raised our family on a diet consisting of fresh vegetables, lean meats, hearty soups (tradition, veggie soup!)  After living in San Francisco for several years while my father was studying at Stanford, she learned the value in fresh produce.  She was “green” before it was “cool to be green.”  Yes mom, you are a trend-setter.  For that, I am grateful that my “comfort foods” are fresh greens, vibrant veggies, seafood galore, lean proteins, warmed lentils, whole grains, oats, long-grained rice and milk, milk, milk (although Vanilla-Almond Milk has become a new favorite!)

As a youngster, my brothers and I were involved in a plethora of activities.  Reflecting back on my childhood, I have no idea who my parents juggled three children who were motivated to excel in every venue of their life.  Each of us were hungry to fight for our dreams… and continue to do so.  Because of our motivation, homework was often executed in the car while being transported from activity to activity.  Meals were consumed prior to workouts and practices.  My parents sacrificed SO much of their lives in order for their children to pursue our own dreams, goals and God-given talents.  In my heart, I desire to do the same for my children one day.
Tofu Goes West - A Family Favorite...

My mom was devoted to cooking us healthy meals.  As her children grew older, time was a commodity that was more and more precious.  She would often spend one day a week cooking… and making an absolute mess of the kitchen.  She would make meals that would be able to be frozen (and portioned into meal-size amounts), as well as fresh meals that would last for the week.  The general rule for food – it can be stored in Tupperware in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Beyond that, discard… it is better to be safer than sorry.  Health should not be jeopardized by “being lazy.”  My mom was able to save time during the week because she only had to clean up the mess from cooking once a week.  Because my brothers and I were athletes, the consumption of her nutritious meals was expedited compared to a “normal” rate.  She also saved money by purchasing in bulk and making large quantities of said meals. 

My Mother Used This Book to Prepare
Healthy Recipes for the Family
While We Were Growing Up
She desired to fuel our bodies with nutrients that would enhance performance in the classroom, athletic field, performance stages and work-field.  She made it happen.

Veggie soup was a hearty family favorite.  Lentils are often dismissed simply because people have no idea how to prepare the protein-packed beans.  Not only are lentils full of fiber and fatigue-fighting iron, but they are a healthy alternative to Rawmen-noodles in terms of cost.  The great benefit of soup is that soups are very forgiving (they do not need a significant amount of attention when cooking), as well as versatile (any type of vegetables, potatoes, proteins and spices can be added).  Growing up, our Baumert “Tradition Veggie Soup” consisted of:

2 c. Dried Orange Lentils
2 c. Chopped Green Cabbage
1 c. Diced Carrots
1 c. Diced Bell Pepper (Red, Orange, Yellow or Green – or mix of all)
1 c. Diced Celery
1 c. Squash – Zucchini or Yellow Squash (or both!)
1 c. Chopped Onions
8 c. Chicken/Veal/Vegetable Stock (Organic, low-sodium)
1 Tbsp. Curry Powder
2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp. Garlic Salt
2 Tbsp. Minced Fresh Parsley
Optional – Diced potatoes/whole grain rice

Drizzle a small amount of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil on a sauté pan and add onions, green cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, celery and zucchini (add diced potatoes if desired).  Cook for about 5 minutes – stir the vegetables to prevent them from burning on the bottom of the sauté pan.  Add 1 c. of the stock and continue to cook until the stock had been evaporated. 

Gorgeous, Fresh, Organic Vegetables
Stir in lentils, curry powder, cayenne, garlic salt and the remaining 7 cups of stock (also add rice if desired).  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and the stew is a thick, vibrant orange soup – about 25 minutes.

Season with parsley (and black pepper if desired).

Curried Lentil Soup (with Quinoa!)
and 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
Options – Cooked chicken, turkey, beef, shrimp, salmon, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta can all be additions to any basic Veggie-soup.  Forgoing the Curry and adding other spices can also be an option (Herbs de Provence, Italian Herbs, Rosemary, Lavender, etc.) 

Fat-Free Feta cheese can be sprinkled atop the soup with fresh roasted almonds.  0% Greek yogurt is one of my favorite accompaniments to soup, as the texture transitions into a thicker, more creamy flavor.  It also helps to balance the spice of the curry and cayenne pepper.

I encourage you to try cooking with lentils.  Not only will you save on your budget, but the energy-laden beans provide increased health benefits and you will expose yourself to new flavors.  The aroma that permeates through your home will also welcome even the “pickiest” of eaters.  Make it a tradition amongst your family and friends.

Why not create and enjoy a meal that will benefit your body and those that you love?

Do it.

All my love from DALLAS, y’all,

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