Thursday, July 19, 2018

Minestrone with Farro & Chia Pesto

This delicious and hearty soup is loaded with protein-rich farro, chickpeas, carrots, celery, and kale. So much good stuff in one bowl! This soup is from Julie Morris's book, Superfood Soups, in which each soup is loaded with superfoods. This one in particular uses miso, kelp, goji berries, and a pesto made with chia seeds. As funky as that all sounds, it ultimately results in a fantastic soup and the chia pesto is worth the time to make--trust me. Enjoy!

Minestrone with Farro & Chia Pesto
Serves 6


  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 tsp kelp granules
  • 8 cups Miso Broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin half moons
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped small
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5-cups cooked garbanzo beans (1 15-ounce can, drained)
  • 1/2 lb broccoli florets, chopped small (about 3 cups)
  • 3 big leaves kale, ribbed and chopped small
  • Sea salt
  • 1 batch Chia Pesto
In a blender, combine the tomato, goji berries, and kelp granules with 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until smooth.

Warm the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and farro, and cook, stirring often, for 6-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the zucchini, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf, and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Stir in the blended tomato mixture, the remaining 7.5-cups of broth, the canned tomatoes with their juice, and the black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then partially cover, leaving the lid a little ajar, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn up the heat to medium, stir in the garbanzo beans and broccoli, and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat, and mix in the kale. Let the soup stand for 5-10 minutes to let the kale fully wilt. Remove the bay leaf, taste, add salt as desired. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and swirl in a tablespoon or two of chia pesto on top.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chia Pesto

Chia in pesto? I was so skeptical! But, Julie Morris in her new book, Superfood Soups, showed me the light! This pesto is used in a minestrone I'll be posting in a few days and it is outrageously good! The chia seed gel serves to thicken the pesto and is a fabulous way to shave off calories and up the nutrient density in pesto compared to the classic recipe.

Chia Pesto
Makes 1 cup


  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 6 Tbsp water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
In a medium bowl, mix together the chia seeds and water or broth. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to swell, stirring once or twice to break up any clumps.

In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend until smooth. Scrape the pesto into the bowl with the chia seeds, and mix well to incorporate. Cover, and refrigerate until use. Chia pesto will last up to 1 week, refrigerated.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tupelo Honey, Arlington

I wanted to go out and celebrate with my colleagues, so I searched for a nice, business lunch appropriate restaurant in the Courthouse area of Arlington. Tupelo Honey was recommended by others at work, but I figured that a Southern restaurant wouldn't have much for me. Searches on the internet confirmed it was not very vegan friendly, but mentioned that the burger there was vegan. And, honestly, I'll try a place that has just one vegan item just to see if it is good.

So, off to Tupelo Honey we went! In my research, I discovered that this restaurant originated in Asheville, North Carolina. Tupelo Honey now has restaurants in Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Inside the atmosphere is bright and pleasant. Colorful, Southern-inspired paintings hang on the walls along with an American flag made of wooden posts. It's pretty cool.

I started with a Sparkling Blueberry Punch that was very tasty.

I inquired about the vegan options and was given a few dishes that could be modified, but not many. I'm sure the salads could be modified to be vegan, but I was in the mood for an entree. To start, I ordered the "Fried Okra with Carolina White Sauce," which when veganized was grilled okra with no sauce. I love that the chef was willing to accommodate because it turned out great! Slightly blackened and cooked perfectly, this okra was delicious.

For my entree, I ordered the Grateful Veg Burger. Honestly, I wouldn't even have believed it was vegan had I not done so much research ahead of time. In fact, they have their own cookbook and the recipe is available online. They use tofu as a binder instead of egg. When I asked about the bun, I was told it was not vegan, but there were a variety of breads that were and I chose pumpernickel instead. And without the aioli.

The housemade veggie burger was fantastic. Loaded with carrots, poblano chili, black beans, corn, bell pepper, celery, and spices, it was packed full of flavor. They put a huge slice of onion on top that was a bit overpowering and the bread was good, but probably not the best choice for this burger. Overall all though, it was great.

I chose the side salad as my side and they said they didn't have any vegan dressings so I was brought oil and vinegar. Eh, I'll take what I can get.

So, even though there's only one entree I can eat here, it was good and I'd come back again. The service was a bit slow, but the server was so nice and helpful that I really can't criticize. The prices were a bit high, but it's a nice restaurant so I expected that. Thanks for accommodating, Tupelo Honey, us vegans would love it if you'd add more vegan options too!

Tupelo Honey
1616 N. Troy Street
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 253-8140

Tupelo Honey Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Miso Broth

A simple, yet nutritious broth. It'll take you just a couple of minutes to make this and it punches up the flavor of everything it is added to. This miso broth is one of Julie Morris' from Superfood Soups, a fantastic cookbook. She recommends using yellow miso, but I used the lighter white miso and it turned out great. Use this as a base for any soup!

Miso Broth
Makes 8 cups


  • 4 Tbsp yellow miso paste
  • 1 tsp kelp granules
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender until the miso is fully dissolved. Use in soups as directed, or warm over low heat to enjoy as a sipping broth.

The broth may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or kept in the freezer for several months.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Kitchari is a famous mixture used in Ayurvedic medicine, which usually includes a starch, in the form of grains, and a protein, in the form of legumes. The recipe is used to balance the body in myriad ways--to detoxify, ease digestion, balance weight, and support recovery from illness or physical hardship. I found this recipe in a fantastic cookbook--Superfood Soups by Julie Morris. This soup will take some time to make, but the result is rewarding. Split peas and brown rice make up the base as the carrots, cauliflower, and Swiss chard give it its heartiness and the super healthy aromatic spices give it its flavor. This soup should be made to be shared!

Serves 4-6


  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas (I used green)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 2x4 inch strip kombu
  • 1 Tbsp chaga powder (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups finely chopped cauliflower
  • 4 medium Swiss chard leaves, finely chopped, stems and leaves chopped separately for about 2 cups total yield
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Warm the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black mustard seeds. Cook, stirring, until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the spices are fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the brown rice, yellow peas, coriander, turmeric, and ginger and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly so as not to burn the spices. Pour in 6 cups of water and add the kombu strip, chaga powder, and 1 1/4 tsp sea salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 minutes.

Stir in the carrots, cauliflower, and chopped Swiss chard stems, adding more water as needed. Cover the pot again, and cook for 30 minutes longer, or until vegetables, rice, and peas are very soft. Stir in the chard leaves and adjust seasonings if needed, adding more water if a soupy consistency is desired. Remove the soup from the heat and let rest until the chard is tender. Serve the soup warm with a little chopped cilantro.

Note: Kitchari is immensely flexible in its ingredients and structure. You can use anywhere from 2 to 6 cups of any vegetable you enjoy in this recipe, such as zucchini and green beans. You can even swap out the rice for another starch and the peas for another legume.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Little Beet, DC

The Little Beet--how have I missed you all this time? Apparently, The Little Beet, a fast casual restaurant originating in New York City, came to DC in 2015, but I guess I missed it. I was recently contacted by them to check out their new Rosslyn location, when I stumbled across their DC restaurant on my own. And this place is super vegan friendly! Better late, than never, I suppose!

Inside, it's your typical small, fast casual setup with a typical style menu. Nice wood paneling and simple wood tables with beet colored chairs make up the dining room. My favorite part about their menu is that their online menu allows you to select "vegan" and when you do, it crosses out all menu items that aren't vegan. It's brilliant!

You can choose from two vegan chef-made bowls or you can make your own. I chose to make my own. I started with a mix of half of the little beet salad mix and half of ancient grain blend. Then you have your choice of tons of delicious cold and warm veggies and beans. I went with the white beans marinated in herb salsa verde and lemon and the sweet potatoes with smoked sea salt and olive oil. Other veggie choices are beets and lentils, roasted kale, cucumber and sea veggies, butternut squash, broccoli, and green beans.

Vegans have three proteins to choose from: grilled avocado, tofu, or beet falafel. I just had to try the beet falafel, which they brought out fresh and grilled in front of us. Then, you can have as many sauces as you like, which is dangerous. I chose the turmeric tahini, piquillo garlic, and avocado white bean spread. And then I topped it with pickled red onions and super seeds.

Goodness, that is a lot of food! And it was really, really good! The beet falafel was really fresh as it was cooked right there in front of us and very hearty. The white beans and sweet potato were seasoned so well and all the sauces just made it all taste delicious. I was really impressed.

My friend got a vegan bowl as well and raved about the broccoli.

I can't believe it took me three years to find you, Little Beet, but I'll be back. The price ended up being a little over $11 so a little pricey for fast casual, but the food was so good and fresh and the ease of ordering with the dynamic menu made for such a great experience. Please come support this awesome restaurant either in DC or Virginia!

The Little Beet
1212 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 796-5100

The Little Beet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Le Pain Quotidien, Arlington, VA #4

Oh, Le Pain, you are still one of my favorite international chains. Meaning "the daily bread," Le Pain Quotidien originates out of Belgium and always has delicious food. They change their menu often, but I'm always able to find good hearty food. I recently discovered the Clarendon location in Virginia and visited twice.

This location is quite large. You are surrounded by the warming scent of fresh baked bread upon entering and quickly directed to find a seat of your choosing. The dining room itself feels a bit barren with its light wood floors, tables, and chairs. The only accent is the white exposed ductwork in the ceiling--otherwise it has a very monocolor feel.

I started with a Raspberry Lemonade. Freshly made, it had a natural flavor to it--not too sweet and well balanced.

For my lunch, I went with a seasonal special--the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Toast. This beautiful, fresh toast was layered with sweet potato cubes, black beans, and arugula and topped with avocado slices and vegan chipotle aioli. Oh my my--it is so good. All those flavors meshed perfectly together. The bread was crispy, the sweet potato soft and the aioli creamy. And it was very filling.

For my second visit, I ordered the Baker's Lunch, which consists of the soup of the day, a salad, and a tartine. The soup was split pea and was excellent. The salad was the quinoa taboule served with arugula--pretty good. The real star of this show though was the avocado toast topped with extra virgin olive oil, citrus cumin salt, and chia seeds. Do not go here without ordering one of their tartines!

My friend got the same thing, but with vegan chili. It looked scrumptious!

And I couldn't leave without my favorite vegan carrot cake cupcake. You must try one of these cupcakes--they are to die for!

All in all, the service on our first visit was pretty good, but the second visit wasn't so great. The prices are definitely high for lunch at $12.95 for the toast and $14.95 for the baker's lunch, but well worth it as the food is fantastic. The atmosphere is pretty laid back there--no reservations needed. So, I'd say it's one of my favorite places to eat in Arlington...and really all of DC. Recommended.

Previous reviews
November 18, 2014
February 17, 2014
January 6, 2014

Le Pain Quotidien
2900 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 465-0970

Le Pain Quotidien Clarendon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato