tomato chickpea & coconut soup

tomato chickpea & coconut soup (vegan) / @loveandlemons

This is the perfect pantry soup. I’m even betting that most of you have these ingredients on hand already. We’re all about fresh eating around here, but there’s nothing wrong with opening up a few cans from time to time… especially in the middle of winter when you crave tomato soup and tomatoes are not in season.

The soup is basically: 1 can of tomatoes, 1 can of chickpeas, and (part of) 1 can of coconut milk. The chickpeas thicken the soup and the coconut creates a creamy, velvety texture without adding real cream. For a lighter soup, you can use light coconut milk or—get this!—the leftover watery milk from the can after you’ve made coconut cream.

Of course no tomato soup would be complete without grilled cheese. I’m sure you don’t need a recipe… a good simple grilled cheese is really about good ingredient choices. At the moment I’m particularly fond of this combo: Sourdough from Easy Tiger, Champagne Cheddar from Whole Foods, with a spread of my favorite dijon mustard and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. (sub Daiya cheese if I’m feeling vegan-ish). Grill on a cast iron grill pan. Dunk in soup.

Go to the recipe “tomato chickpea & coconut soup”…

chili-orange veggie bowl

chili-orange veggie bowl / loveandlemons.comchili-orange veggie bowl / loveandlemons.com

If you had asked me two weeks ago about the best way to cook (flavorful) veggies, my unwavering answer would have been: roast them. I’m a sucker for all things roasty, toasty, caramelized, slightly crisp and even a tad bit charred… the simple steamed veggie is just a bit, well, simple for me. That is, until now…

chili-orange veggie bowl / loveandlemons.comchili-orange veggie bowl / loveandlemons.com

Our oven went kaput a few weeks ago and I was forced to get a little creative. (Although, thank you Thermador for coming to the rescue!). My little oven haitus seemed miserable at first, but it’s in fact incidents like these that force me to think outside of the box. (or in my case, outside of the oven).

Enter: the bamboo steamer. You don’t necessarily need a bamboo steamer to steam veggies, but I just love the subtle woody flavor it imparts. That bamboo-ey aroma – brought me right back to Kyoto, where simplicity is celebrated. I made this bowl a meal with some black rice, tofu, and a bright tangy sauce.

Go to the recipe “chili-orange veggie bowl”…

superfood sunshine smoothies

superfood sunshine smoothies / @loveandlemonssuperfood sunshine smoothies / @loveandlemonssuperfood sunshine smoothies / @loveandlemons

Happy almost new year! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure ready to start eating a little bit lighter and brighter. And of course, “healthy” in my book doesn’t mean bland and boring… quite the opposite.

In the middle of winter,* I find myself craving bright orange and red foods… so here’s a sunny smoothie I made with oranges, goji berries, bananas and almond milk. And for a healing kick: a bit of ginger.

Cheers to a healthy new year!

*Austin winter isn’t real winter, but I get cold anyhow.

Go to the recipe “superfood sunshine smoothies”…

avocado & pomegranate crostini

avocado pomegranate crostini / @loveandlemons

‘Tis the season for sugary, buttery treats… but as you may know, I’m not big on butter. I’m also not particularly good at holiday traditions…

Maybe it’s the Austin influence, but I love anything with avocado. I made this glorified guacamole and I think the little pomegranate gems make it especially festive. Only thing missing in this picture is a merry Christmas margarita.

avocado pomegranate crostini / @loveandlemonsavocado pomegranate crostini / @loveandlemons

For a healthier version, this would be delicious on endive spears. For a less healthy (but gluten free) version, feel free to break out the tortilla chips.

Go to the recipe “avocado & pomegranate crostini”…

creamy polenta & mushrooms

creamy polenta and mushrooms / @loveandlemons

I’m short for words today… we’re in Chicago visiting my family this week, and I’m making a point to spend less time in front of the computer. Sometimes it’s just time to put the electronics away… to cut the habit of looking at your iphone every few minutes and relax a bit, you know?

creamy polenta and mushrooms / @loveandlemons

We made this warm and cozy meal last week with one of our favorite foods – mushrooms. It’s pretty simple… creamy polenta, chickpeas and a mix of sauteéd mushrooms & tarragon. They have these fancy ones right now at Whole Foods that are amazing, and more importantly – on sale. I just loved combining the texture of the oyster mushrooms with the tiny shimejis (and a few lesser expensive cremini’s to get more bang for my mushroom buck).

Topped these with just a bit of asiago cheese and popped them under the broiler for just a few minutes. A warm yet bright meal… pretty much the opposite of what it looks like outside the window here right now. Brr.

creamy polenta and mushrooms / @loveandlemonscreamy polenta and mushrooms / @loveandlemonscreamy polenta and mushrooms / @loveandlemons

Go to the recipe “creamy polenta & mushrooms”…