Perfect Post-Massage Lentil Soup

One of my favorite bits of wisdom shared in an old blog post about getting the most out of your massage was from our therapist, Justin. He recommended that clients figure out an easy dinner plan or have a meal going in the slow cooker so after their service, they don’t have to worry about cooking, dishes, or grocery shopping. I love this advice so much I’ve started doing it myself!

Last week, I made one of my favorite vegetarian (easily made vegan) crock pot lentil soups, inspired by a recipe from my favorite vegetarian restaurant, the Chicago Diner. I was SO GLAD this was waiting for me at home on massage day or I would have caved and picked up a super unhealthy carry-out meal because I was too relaxed to cook!

Perfect post-massage lentil soup

1 1/2 c. dried lentils

1 bay leaf

6 cups veggie stock (I use “Better than Boullion” brand concentrate. Trust me, this is the best veggie stock mix out there)

1 large carrot, chopped

1-2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 small red pepper (or whatever color bell pepper is on sale!) chopped

15 oz can diced tomatoes (I prefer the kind with peppers and onions, but pain is great too)

1/2-3/4 cup chopped yellow onion

Spinach (fresh)

Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

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Toss all ingredients except spinach, feta, salt, and pepper into a crock pot. Set on low temperature for 10 hours (perfect if you’ve got your massage right after work!)  After 10 hours, toss in a few generous handfuls of spinach to wilt, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a sprinkle of feta cheese and a side of bread or a few crackers.

veggie-lentil-soupI’d LOVE to hear your favorite hearty and easy meals to enjoy on massage days! Need a massage day? Click here to book yours online!

Healthy Summer Salad: Blueberry, Kale and Quinoa

Yesterday was a perfect day for a cold salad on a warm deck with a chilled glass of white wine or iced tea.  I’d been traveling for 10 days and I could tell my body was craving “real” food so I turned to a favorite, Blueberry, Kale, and Quinoa salad.

Ingredients:

3/4c. dry quinoa cooked prepared according to package directions*

1 1/2 c. blueberries (p.s. the blueberries I got from HyVee yesterday were so good they almost didn’t make it into the salad!)

4-6 big handfuls of Kale from a bag of salad-ready Kale (it will be tender enough you won’t have to pre-cook it)  No Kale? Spinach works great too!

3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

1/2-2/3 c. chopped pecans, lightly toasted (toss them in a dry pan on medium heat to lightly toast, you’ll know when they’re ready because they’ll get more fragrant)

2-3 T. Olive oil

Juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

*If you don’t have package directions, bring 3/4 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 c. water to a boil on the stove top. Cover pan and continue to simmer on low to medium-low heat 15 minutes.  If all water is not yet absorbed, cook a few more minutes.

Instructions:

Combine olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to make dressing

Mix all ingredients together except for dressing

Toss with dressing to coat and chill for at least an hour to let flavors combine.  Adjust salt and pepper as needed.   Serve cold or room temperature.

blueberry salad

Cassie’s Vegetarian “Neat”loaf Recipe

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and as a vegetarian, I never feel like I’m missing out because I can make a killer vegetarian meatloaf and amazing veggie gravy, then enjoy all the wonderful sides.  For nearly 10 years, we’ve done thanksgiving with friends, typically at least half the group is vegetarian.  In recent years, I’ve started doubling my recipe because it freezes well and the leftovers are great for a week.

If you are trying to cut back meat or are going to have a vegetarian guest at some point this winter, give this dish a try!  Note: This dish requires a food processor, you could use a blender, but I think it would be really tricky.

The finished product (I wish I had a prettier photo, but I'm not a food stylist.  I just like to eat.)

The finished product (I wish I had a prettier photo, but I’m not a food stylist. I just like to eat, and I was finishing the gravy while chasing two very muddy dogs around the kitchen)

Cassie’s Veggie “Neat”loaf

Ingredients:

8 slices whole wheat bread (toasted-I do all at once on a baking sheet, then cool)

2 c. pecans (you can use walnuts if you prefer)

3 large eggs (you can use vegan egg substitute, but I’ll be honest: it isn’t as good)

1 yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 large carrot, peeled

1 celery rib

1/2 red, green, or yellow pepper, sliced (whatever is cheapest)

1/2 can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings (if you use plain, add a pinch of Italian seasonings of your choice)

1 1/2 T. olive oil

1 t. salt, other seasonings to taste (I like about 1/2 t. garlic powder)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and lightly spray a loaf pan with oil.

2. Tear up the cooled, toasted bread into the food processor and process into bread crumbs.  Toss in a large bowl.

3. Process the pecans into fine crumbs and toss into the large bowl with the bread crumbs.

4. Process the pepper slices, carrot, and celery until very finely diced and toss into the bowl with the pecans and bread crumbs

The dry ingredients, plus the veggies.

The dry ingredients, plus the veggies.

5. Crack 3 eggs into the food processor and add the onion.  Process together into a frothy mixture.  The onions should be very fine and it should be a liquid.  Pour into the large bowl with everything else.

Blend the 3 eggs and the onion until (for lack of a better word) frothy.

Blend the 3 eggs and the onion until (for lack of a better word) frothy.

6. Add the olive oil and diced tomatoes, plus salt and seasonings of your preference to the bowl and mix well (you might want to use your hands to make sure it is evenly mixed.

7. Pat into the prepared loaf pan and bake covered with foil for 60-70 minutes, remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.

See, looks delicious already!

See, looks delicious already!

Top with veggie gravy (I love the Chicago Diner recipe), BBQ Sauce, or Ketchup.  The gravy recipe takes awhile to thicken once it cools, and I think it is even better the second day.  You can find nutritional yeast typically in the health food section of the grocery store, but I’ve found it in baking sections too.  I usually have to ask.

Fun tip: If you make the dry base for the Chicago Diner gravy recipe, it makes a TON.  I’ve taken extra and bagged it with the directions to give as holiday gifts to my fellow vegetarians.

If you try it, please post a comment and let me know what you think!