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Soup’s On! Tabatchnick Soup Review

Just discovered a line of frozen soups in my local Publix grocery store that I never noticed before, and bought every veggie-based one they have! Not sure if it’s a new product or not, but I’m loving these soups because

  1. All the ingredients look pretty healthy, with less oil and salt than many canned soups
  2. There are two individual packs, so no more thrown out leftover canned or boxed soup
  3. The price is pretty great – about $2.50 per carton, so at $1.25 a serving they’ll fit into anyone’s budget
  4. With 4 cartons and paired with some fruit, or maybe a potato or a salad and some nice whole grain bread, I’ve got my own lunch or light supper for a week figured out!

So far I’ve tried two – the black bean and the (organic!) lentil: truthfully they’re maybe not the most flavorful soups I’ve ever had, but then again I usually add seasonings to commercially-made soups anyway. So these are a great base to add seasonings or canned, fresh or frozen veggies.

What’s at your grocery store? Let me know so I can spread the word!

Today’s Super Quick and Simple Salad and Sweet Potato Lunch!

I’m busy getting the house ready for my son, daughter-in-law and 3-year old grandson’s stay here (yay!) in between their 4-month long vacation and tai chi school experience in China (I know – how fun, right?)  and their new digs here in North Carolina.  So as usual(!) I’ve procrastinated cleaning the house until the last minute, and needed a super quick, super healthy lunch to give me some energy. Maybe I’ll call it a “linner” – half-lunch, half-dinner, and then I’ll just make a fruit salad for dinner, easy breezy-style!

I’ve been watching Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s excellent new PBS Special, Eat to Live, (more on that later) and am inspired to consciously try to incorporate more of his recommended “GBOMBS” – Greens, Berries, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans and Seeds – into our diet.

I like the contrast of the warm sweetness creaminess of the sweet potato with the cold crunchiness and tanginess of the salad – but if anyone has ideas for other dressings and seasonings that would go together well for this lunch, please let me know!

Anyway I just popped a large sweet potato in the microwave for maybe 4 or 5 minutes, then added just a bit of Earth Balance margarine, and a small drizzle of maple syrup – which is my go-to topping for oatmeal too. Then I mixed up a huge salad from a mix of prewashed organic spinach, kale, and some organic romaine. The romaine were the only greens I had to wash, but if they’re organic I don’t get too carried away, since a little bit of the dirt is actually good for you (maybe not so great for your teeth, though!)  I added some chopped onion, some shrooms, pumpkin seed, tomato and a little ground flax seed for good measure, as well as a few slices of cucumber soaked for a day in some beet juice just to be fancy. Some agave mustard dressing bought from my favorite local vegan restaurant/shop, Bean Vegan Cuisine, and I was all yummy-fied in under ten minutes!  Took care of Joel’s  “G,O,M, and S” all in one fell swoop – a few berries for a snack or in a fruit salad, and the B for Beans are the only thing left I have to figure out – maybe some roasted garbanzos would do the trick!

By the way this made lunch for two but I had so much salad leftover I threw it into a ziplock and will use it for a “soda salad” – a salad in a soda glass – tomorrow!   Ahhhh – so easy breezy.

Forgive me, Aldi’s!

Hadn’t been to Aldi’s for a very long time – even though a new one had opened up just a couple miles down the road.

You see the last time I had gone in one, I was hit first thing by a bunch of pop-tart-looking artificial creations, candy, and awful-sounding cereals. NOT the store for me, I concluded, and walked out without buying anything.  But after a long trip to Aldi’s over the weekend with hubby Ron, I need to beg your forgiveness, Aldi’s – I have judged you too harshly! (or maybe you got a makeover?)  While some of the old junk food is still there at the beginning of the store, just walk on by – there’s a land of healthy products waiting for you just ahead!  We had fun trying to track down all the vegan and healthy items we could find, and figured we saved at least $100 over our normal grocery store prices!

I’ll be sharing more of the cool products I got in future blogs, but here’s a sneak peek of my new kitchen contents:

  • A small but pretty great selection of organic fruits and veggies. Blueberry smoothies here I come!
  • A large line of organic products called Simply Nature
  • An awesome spicy bean hummus – just add some pita triangles and some raw veggies and lunch is done!
  • A couple salad dressings – tahini goddess and roasted red pepper – that are great with cut-up veggies. My all-day snack yesterday, and when a friend came over, I had food to share in about two seconds!

While you still need to go to a regular grocery store for odds and ends (their spice selection is pretty sparse, for one, and you probably won’t find napkins and stuff like that), Aldi’s is a really great place to start with your shopping list. I’m really lucky because my closest Aldi’s moved in almost right next door to a regular grocery store, so doing a “two-for-one” shopping trip isn’t going to be a big deal for me – but if your Aldi’s isn’t handy for you, then maybe make it a once-in-a-while thing-

But definitely check it out if you can – and I hope you have as much fun as we did!

SKEY

Ever feel guilty when you buy arts and crafts?

I love arts and crafts – especially art. Sometimes I like creating my own tropical art and wearables, but I think I probably enjoy going to arts and crafts shops, fairs and festivals and seeing what other people have created even more.  People are so amazingly creative and talented, and window shopping is so much fun!  Not always, but fairly often, I’ll also go home with some (usually) small treasure someone made. But I will also also fairly often feel guilty later about that purchase – did I really need it? Should I have used that money for something more “practical,” or just saved it?  (And if I didn’t feel guilty before that, sometimes friends or families’ comments suggest that I should!)

If you’re like me too, here’s a quote for you that I saw on a meme the other day that puts things in a different light and is guaranteed to make you feel better – that you actually did a good thing, and should possibly do more of it!  So instead of feeling guilty, let’s be proud that we are supporting talented artists:

 “When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul……. a small piece of someone else’s life.”

Cool, huh? And it’s so true – of all the things we buy in life, someone else’s talent, dreams and spirit are all embodied in those big and small treasures we take home, making them some of the most special things we will ever own (not to mention artists usually can’t follow their dreams if someone isn’t buying from them)!

So don’t buy arts and crafts if you can’t afford to also put food on your table, but as long as you can do that, save a little extra to support the amazing artists of the world (and have fun too!)

paper art

“The greatest dishes are very simple dishes.” … Virginia Woolf

I like this quote by the famous English writer, feminist and author of  A Room of One’s Own, but I’m not entirely sure what she meant by “greatest.” At face value you might assume that she just prefers the taste of dishes with the fewest ingredients/preparation, but since she was a feminist I am inclined to think that she also means that simple dishes are simply less time-consuming, and get you out of the kitchen faster and leave you with more time to do what you want in life.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of sites by talented vegan and vegetarian cooks who post lengthy and complicated recipes that look amazing – this is not one of them!

I almost never make a long or complicated recipe – partly due to the fact that most fruits and vegetables are delicious with very little extra help, and partly because even when I do make a long recipe, it seldom turns out delectable enough that I think “gee, that was worth all that effort.”  And sadly, my family usually agrees!  But if you are a good enough cook that this is not the case for you – your cooking is delicious AND you enjoy the process of cooking along with the extra cleanup, shopping, etc. etc., I applaud you and I would never try to turn you away from your passion and talent.  That’s just not where my passion or talent lies, and I think it’s time that many of us women stop spending so much precious time in the kitchen and start doing more of what we came here on earth to do – whatever that is. Plant a garden, have coffee with friends, take a zumba class, write that novel, or discover a cure for cancer (oh wait – eating a lot of veggies helps with that!)

And what about our families? While most husbands and kids would no doubt prefer a great cook as a wife/mom, as long as we feed them healthy food in some fashion (or even better, teach them how KOCIS_Korean_vegetable_dish_(4553316183)to help out or do it themselves), they’ll survive.  We are also setting a good role model for our daughters that their self-esteem does not have depend on whether or not they can bake an amazing cheesecake, but rather on what other amazing things they can do.

So if you are like me and want to get out of the kitchen as fast as .possible (or never go in there in the first place!), I gotcha covered!  This website will contain tons of tips, tricks, resources, and uber-quick and easy recipes to make cooking – or not – easy breezy!  You’re welcome.

(And if there’s anything special you’d like to see in this site, or ways you’d like me to help you, please let me know! I am committed to making your life a breeze!)

Love pickles? Get two-for-one

Ever since I had to pull all-nighters cramming for finals in college, and then later on when finishing reports for work, pickles were always my main go-to snack buddy. Somehow the crispiness, sour taste, and my own crunching would perk me right up. The sodium in a whole jar of pickles was probably off the richter scale, but since I’ve picked up much worse snack habits throughout the years, so I plan to return to my old way – but even cheaper and better!pickles blog picture2

I love the fresh and crispy taste of Claussen pickles from the deli section of groceries, but the cost? Not so much. So I decided to get 2 or 3 times my money’s worth by making my own easy breezy pickles after I’ve eaten the last pickle.  I just fill the pickle jar (leftover juice and and all) with cut up cucumbers, onions, or, if I feel adventurous or have leftovers, other crisp vegetables. In a day or two I’ll have some really fresh tasting semi-pickled veggies with a lot less sodium and almost as good tasting as the originals.

Give it a try! Just make sure to eat your homemade versions within a week or two, since the veggies haven’t been properly prepared like normal pickles.

Late night projects? We’re ready for ya!

What other ideas do y’all have for stretching food?  Let’s share them!