Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Contributor | TERESA
Soup is one of our favorite meals. We look forward to summer ending every year because we have a tripod and iron soup pot that we use to make soup over a bonfire. Now that we are vegetarians, many of our favorite soups are just memories...chicken noodle, white chicken chili, Italian wedding soup, beef chili, minestrone...and the list goes on and on!
      We had to do some searching to come up with new recipes that fit into our new healthy lifestyle, but would still have great taste and appeal. Fortunately  we have found two great chili recipes that are so hearty and delicious that we rarely even think about the soups we have given up!

This sweet potato & black bean chili is so good and only gets better the longer is sits. The added benefits it provides make it our new favorite soup! Macular degenertion runs in my family. I have several relatives who lost their sight due to the disease and I've done some research on my own to find foods that help prevent the disease. Vegetables rich in beta carotene...carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes all have proven benefits, showing a definite preventative effect. Because of this, we eat lots of carrots, and try to have butternut squash or sweet potatoes at least once or twice a week, if not more!

The first thing you need to do to make this recipe is to peel and cube the sweet potato, then drizzle with the olive oil and salt, and roast it, which gives each piece a nice little crust. It amps up the flavor as well, but taking time to do this step keeps the potato from breaking down in the soup.  It's a simple task which can be done while all the other prep work is done, and makes all the difference in the success of the soup! I also use a roasted poblano pepper instead of the jalapeno because my husband doesn't like it too spicy. I set the pepper right on the open flame of my gas stove to blacken and char the skin, then place in a closed baggie for a few minutes and the skin will peel right off.
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Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
2 lbs. sweet potato peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Toss the potato in oil, add salt, and roast at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Set aside

In 1 Tbs Olive Oil saute:
1 diced onion
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 diced jalapeno (I use a roasted poblano)
After sauteing for 3-5 minutes, add to a soup pot along with:
2 Tbs chilli powder
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 can diced tomatoes ( I use 1 quart home canned smashed tomatoes)
1-2 cups of water
Salt to taste
1 tsp. cocoa powder
2 cans black beans ( smash one can with a fork or potato masher)
1 chopped chipotle pepper (leave out if you don't like spicy)
Simmer for 20 minutes...enjoy!

One more note! I cook my own black beans from dry beans. One 1 lb bag makes about the amount of 4 cans of black beans and doesn't have the high sodium found in canned beans. The cost for 1 lb is a little over $1, so the savings is enough to want to do it! Cover the beans with plenty of water and boil slowly for about 1 1/2 -2 hours. Leftovers freeze well!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower in Olive Oil with Spices

Contributor | JEFF

It can be hard to think of eating things that are both healthy and quick. And eating raw veggies can get old sometimes. I like to have variety in my diet so I don't get bored and go to something bad for me. So, I tried roasting cauliflower in the oven with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and an herb and spice blend. After they were done, I drizzled some garlic vinaigrette over them. (I love this local very fresh tasting stuff called Garlic Expressions.) The result: it made my cauliflower taste a lot better than eaten plain or with dip.

-preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- wash and cut cauliflower and place in a bowl.
- drizzle olive oil onto cauliflower and toss to coat.
- place on baking sheet
- sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and spices.
- bake for 15 minutes.
- drizzle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

7 health benefits 

  • It is very low in calories. 100 g of the fresh cauliflower head provides only 26 calories. Nevertheless, it comprises of several health-benefiting antioxidants and vitamins in addition to be very low in fat and contains no cholesterol.
  • Its florets contain about 2 g of dietary fiber per 100 g; providing about 5% of recommended value.
  • Cauliflower contains several anti-cancer phyto-chemicals like sulforaphane and plant sterols such asindole-3-carbinol, which appears to function as an anti-estrogen agent. Together these compounds have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
  • Furthermore, Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble compound present abundantly in Brassica group of vegetables has found effective as immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral compound by synthesis and potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors. DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.
  • Fresh cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C; 100 g provides about 48.2 mg or 80% of daily recommended value. Vitamin-C is a proven antioxidant helps fight against harmful free radicals, boosts immunity and prevents from infections and cancers.
  • It contains good amounts of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as folates, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3) as well as vitamin K. These vitamins is essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Further, It is an also good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium. Manganese is used in the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feta & Greek Yogurt Dip with Lemon,Thyme & Garlic

 Contributor | JEFF & KRISTINA
Sometimes when we're in the kitchen ideas will pop into our heads to give a recipe that extra punch. You better believe that's what we did with this rich and creamy flavorful dip! Starting with blended feta cheese, this dip is infused with olive oil, thyme, garlic, lemon and sea salt. We added a little Greek yogurt and dried basil to ours too. 

If you like feta cheese, this dip will become your go to dip trust me! (Sweet Paul says so and it is true!)  It takes less than 5 minutes to make and is so versatile. You could use it as a veggie dip, spooned onto baked or grilled chicken, on top of toasted  bread slices or with pita chips or even with oven fries...the list could go on and on. When you try this dip your taste buds will be thanking you. Now for the recipe:

8oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil+ extra for serving
fresh thyme

Recipe courtesy of Sweet Paul

our modified version reduced the amount of feta cheese to 6 oz. and we added 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, and a dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. 
Facts |
Greek yogurt
-contains bacterial cultures that boost the immune system.
-contains less sugar and more protein than other yogurts. 
-has vitamin B12 a disease preventative vitamin.
-can lead to weight loss, especially around the waist. 

-can help lower blood pressure
-aids in detoxifying
-antibacterial, antiparasitic, and antifungal

Olive oil 
-allows the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin A and E 
-omega 6 fatty acids
-contains a newly discovered compound called oleocanthal that has the same anti-inflammatory action as ibuprofen.
If you make this dip or a variation, share with us how you liked it and what you ate it with. 

Don't forget to follow The Empty Spoon via Google Friend Connect, Facebook and Pinterest.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Contributor | KRISTINA   
Now it's time for a sweet treat recipe, a little indulgence after eating so healthy. I would personally like to hug whoever came up with the combination of mint and chocolate. It is my favorite! It's funny-seems like people are never neutral about this combo-they either love it or hate it, the haters claiming it tastes like toothpaste. Not me, I am in the love category forever! These cookies are great eaten alone or work well for ice cream sandwiches, pressed down a little flatter before baking: Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat, half unbleached white)
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.)  Chocolate chips 
  • 8-10 drops peppermint extract
  • Method: 
  • PREHEAT oven to 325° F.

    COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, mint extract and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets (I lined  mine with parchment paper). For ice cream sandwich cookies, press or roll flat circles onto cookie sheets. 

    BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

    FOR MINI MINT CHOCOLATE DELIGHT COOKIES:Prepare dough as above. Drop by well-rounded measuring teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Makes about 7 dozen mini cookies.  Recipe modified from The Very Best Baking

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You better believe I doubled this recipe and froze half in a freezer bag for on-demand cravings. They were amazing as sandwiches with mint chocolate chip ice cream in the center. Sorry I didn't post pictures of them, they were gone too fast. I finished off my cookies with a light dusting of powdered sugar, because it made them so pretty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mediterranean Kale Salad with Quinoa on Baked Flat Bread

Contributor | JEFF

 Talk about infused healthy flavor...I think this may have been the wedding of healthy and flavorful becoming one.
Recently I have had this love affair with kale... and have enjoyed eating these mouth watering salads.

 Did you know that kale is considered a super food? Kale is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, B6, calcium,copper and potassium. It also helps prevent certain cancers. You can find more info here. . Quinoa is a super grain very rich in protein and fiber. It also contains (B2) improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells. To see more info go here. For me knowing whats in my food and why it's good for me makes me want to eat more of the foods that will benefit my health. Since doing this and eating healthier my energy level has sky rocketed. You will not regret making these changes to your lifestyle. 

While discovering how amazing kale is I learned that sauteing it in olive oil makes it even better. In this recipe I added onions, mushrooms, yellow peppers, olives and kale to the skillet all at the same time. You can add what ever spices you want at this point. I used sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, rosemary and basil. After all this cooks for about 4 minutes then you add the quinoa for about 3 more minutes with a lid. 

When that is all finished spoon it on to the flat bread, add feta cheese and dried cranberries and some garlic vinaigrette (I used my local favorite-Garlic Expressions) The cool thing is that you don't even need the fork to eat it. Just pick it up like a piece of toast and enjoy. 

What's in It |

- kale 
- mushrooms
- yellow peppers
- onion
- cranberries
- quinoa
- feta cheese
- sea salt & pepper
- olive oil
 -garlic vinaigrette dressing
- black olives 
- cayenne pepper, rosemary and basil

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You can find the recipe for this flat bread here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Olive Oil and Sea Salt Whole Wheat Flat Bread Making

Contributor | JEFF

Lately I have been on this bread making kick and the results have been very tasty! I had it in my head that you had to be a professional baker to make good homemade breads....but boy was I wrong.
Here is one of the amazingly easy recipes I would like to share with you I found here. Lets face it, it's the new year and everyone is trying to cut down on the calories and carbs they are taking in. I think substituting whole wheat flat bread for white bread is a great start! This bread has a perfect crispy and flaky texture to it. It would be great for dips or simply topping with kale salad which is what I did. The possibilities are endless. The recipe is simple a child could make this.My favorite part is adding the different spices and herbs to put your own twist on things.


-2 cups of whole wheat flour ( the original recipe called for white flour)
-1/2 tsp salt 
-1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup of water 
- Sea salt and your favorite herbs to taste. 
Go here for method

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In case you're wondering what my kale salad consists of, I will be posting that one next on the blog. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Amazing Baked Oven Fries

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Contributor | KRISTINA  
Who likes fries? Just about everyone, right? But oh, the grease...have no fear, the next time you get a craving you should try this french fry miracle that  
tastes like deep fried but only uses 5 tablespoons of oil!  
But this comes with a warning--
they are addicting! 

A quick story behind my discovery of these started with a visit to
 some friends. They offered me these fries and my first response was 
"these are so good-are they fried?"
 "Nope. Oven fried." 
"Really? I need this recipe!"

Coming from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, 
here's what you'll need to try these out:
 (p.s. It's important to follow closely for great results.)

3 russet potatoes, peeled or skins on (your preference),
cut lengthwise into 10-12 evenly sized wedges
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
salt and ground black pepper
heavy duty baking sheet
large bowl for soaking potatoes
paper towels or dry, clean kitchen towel
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Preheat to 475.
  2. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover with hot tap water for 10 min.

a hot bath works wonders to remove starches and reveal a creamy, smooth center

3. Meanwhile, coat a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 Tbsp. oil.
Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. ground pepper (suggested amount.)
 Set aside.

4. Drain potatoes and blot dry with cloth or paper towels. Spread out onto paper towels
or kitchen towel and thoroughly blot dry.
5. Wipe out empty bowl, return potatoes to bowl and toss with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.

and add a little salt and pepper to taste so both sides are coated

6. Arrange potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Cover tightly with
foil and bake 5 minutes.

7. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden
brown, 15-20 min, rotating baking sheet after 10 min.
8. With spatula or tongs, loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping
potatoes in single layer.
9. Continue baking until fries are golden and crisp, 5-15 min. longer, rotating pan
as needed if fries are browning unevenly.

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These fries taste great sprinkled with malt vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper. Your taste buds will be tricked into thinking they ate something deep fried but in fact are low in fat. 

(P.S.If you notice the logo "Remadesimpleblog" on these photos, that's because they came from Kristina's DIY blog where she posts mostly crafts and decorating, but sometimes posts recipes too.)You can visit her here: