August 27, 2014

100 Days of Real Food Cookbook

100 Days of Real Food was one of the first blogs I found when I started blogging back in 2010.  In fact, if I remember correctly it was a google search for the definition of "real food" that led me to Lisa Leake's blog.  I was excited to meet Lisa at BlogHer Food this past May and happy to discover that she and her husband were just as sweet and genuine as they come across in her blog.

When I heard Lisa was working on a 100 Days of Real Food cookbook, I excitedly pre-ordered a copy and it arrived today!  Well, sort of...the copy I received today is actually a complimentary copy for the purpose of reviewing, so I re-directed my pre-ordered copy to a friend with two young children who I think will love this cookbook.

I've made three recipes so far - veggie corn chowder, cinnamon-raisin quick bread and frozen yogurt pops.  Each recipe was easy to make, used all familiar ingredients and the best part is that everything tasted great!

Corn chowder is one of my favorite soups and Lisa's version did not disappoint.  It's pureed just slightly to thicken the soup without turning it into hospital food.  I only wish I still had access to Alsum's sweet corn that I used to buy at the farmers' market when I lived in Wisconsin.  Farmers markets here in Miami just aren't the same.

The cookbook is a nice size with easy to read recipes and inviting photos.  Every recipe in the book has a photo which I think is so important.  I just recently culled quite a few cookbooks from my collection that lacked photos.

The frozen yogurt pops have just three ingredients.  Look for whole milk yogurt because as Lisa points out "In most cases low-fat or fat-free dairy products are more highly processed than whole milk products."

I'm embarrassed to admit how many yogurt popsicle recipes I've tried, all of which had failed until now.  This is the first recipe I've seen using maple syrup as a sweetener which I much prefer to honey which was used in the other recipes I tried.  The pops held their shape and tasted great - finally a yogurt pop recipe I can make again!

Chapter 5 is one of my favorites because it talks about eating real food on a budget.  I know many people who think it's impossible to shop at Whole Foods.  I find their 365 products are often similarly priced to Publix, which is my conventional grocery store option, but as a bonus many of the Whole Foods items are organic.

For recipes, like the cinnamon-raisin quick bread, I recommend buying individual containers of applesauce so you can open just the amount needed for the recipe.  The cost of real food will be higher than it needs to be if you have half-used jars of applesauce in your fridge.

This was my first time using only whole-wheat flour in a recipe and I was surprised at how normal the bread turned out.  I was expecting a much denser result.  I like Lisa's suggestion of topping with cream cheese because cinnamon-raisin bagels with cream cheese was one of my favorite breakfasts as a kid.

This book trailer video is a great 2-minute synopsis of the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook.  In the end Lisa says "I hope you're feeling inspired to make these important changes a priority" and it's a great way to sum up how I feel about her new cookbook.  Making the change to a real food lifestyle can be very daunting.  This book is the guide that will get me there.

August 21, 2014

Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup

The inspiration for this soup comes from the book Blue Moon Vegetarian which I recently read and recommend.  The author talks about lentil soup a few times, but it's not one of the recipes she shares in the book, so I came up with my own creation which both Chris and I loved.

Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

If you're vegan or vegetarian and have annoying well-meaning friends who ask about your protein intake, you can tell them a cup of lentils has 50 grams of protein and a can of black beans has 25 grams, so each serving of this soup has about 12 grams of protein.

Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

It's not exactly soup weather here with highs still in the low 90s, however I think soup is a great meal year-round and I'm a big fan of making meals using a slow cooker.  My 4-quart Crock-Pot was a Christmas gift in college from my grandma and it's gotten a lot of use since then.

Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours on high
Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Stir together all ingredients (except salt and pepper) in the bowl of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 10 hours or on high for about 5 hours. Then stir in salt and pepper.
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August 19, 2014

Piña Colada Sorbet

I can't believe how long it's been since I've used my ice cream maker.  I'm so glad I finally dusted it off because this piña colada sorbet recipe from the June 2011 issue of Cooking Light is fantastic!

Don't mind the melted look of the sorbet in the photo photo below, I promise it freezes well, yet it still easy to scoop.  I find it difficult to photograph frozen treats quickly enough in the heat of the summer sun.

When we first moved to Miami we were all about tropical drinks and determined to make a perfect piña colada.  We tried many brands of cream of coconut before finding Coco Real which I highly recommend.  We bought it a liquor store, however I've also seen it in the baking aisle at The Fresh Market.  Be sure to buy cream of coconut and not coconut cream.

Living in a 1,000 square foot apartment has made me re-evaluate just how many kitchen items I need.  I recently ditched my juicer but my Cuisinart ice cream maker has a permanent place in my home.

Now that it's dusted off, I'd like to use it more often.  Especially since it won't cool down here until December. Anyone have ice cream, gelato or sorbet recipe recommendations?

Ingredients (makes 5 cups)

  • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup cream of coconut
  • The day before, freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker.
  • In a blender, combine the pineapple, coconut water and sugar, blending until smooth.
  • Pour blender mixture into a medium bowl, then whisk in coconut milk and cream of coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Pour mixture into bowl of ice cream maker, then process for 15 minutes or according to the instructions for your ice cream maker.
  • Transfer sorbet to a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

Recipe Source: Cooking Light - June 2011
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