Pantry Lentil Tomato Soup with Spiced Sunflower Seeds

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We’ve been clearing out the cabinets lately, and when you do, you realize how many quick and easy meals you can whip up using mostly shelf stable items forgotten in the back of the pantry. This is an excellent example of such a dish – it comes together in 30 minutes start to finish, and really only requires ingredients most of us have at home. We like to make this for a warming lunch – perfect when you work from home – and of course we serve it with a thick slice of bread on the side. The spiced sunflower seeds both look and taste great, and are well worth the extra few minutes of prep work.

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Simple and Creamy Green Pea Soup

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This soup would most likely win the award for cheapest, most climate friendly meal ever – and it’s not lacking nutrients either. To top it all off, it also comes together in 20 min, start to finish, making it a weeknight savior extraordinaire. Green peas are great to have on hand in the freezer all throughout the winter for us – besides being versatile in dishes, they’re also very good as a stand alone vegetable side. A quick, filling meal we tend to turn to when time is limited (but hunger is real) is boiled potatoes, green peas and some sort of bean/veggie patty from the freezer. Some sort of dipping sauce added to the mix and we’re satisfied! This soup is a little more sophisticated looking than that, but in the end – the ingredients are about the same. Slow carbohydrates, protein and a whole range of micro nutrients make this a nutritious bowl for sure – and with a slice of bread with hummus on the side, it’s as complete as can be. And yummy. Enjoy!

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Onion Soup with Kale and Chickpeas

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Cheaper food than onion soup is hard to find – and more flavorful too, for that matter. Despite being such a cooking essential, onions rarely get the spotlight all to themselves. With the winter season (almost) coming to an end, we definitely have to dig deep into our pantry and really scratch our heads in order to come up with inventive, fun things to cook. It seemed a great opportunity to allow the good old yellow onion to shine, in other words. Onion soup is a classic, of course, but here’s a jazzed up version with both chickpeas and kale, for a nutritious ad well as colorful winter soup. Enjoy!

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Winter Minestrone

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The best thing about minestrone is that you can whip it up with things you most likely have at home already. Some kind of pasta, some kind of lentil or bean, random vegetables and a few tetras or cans of crushed tomatoes – that’s it. The heartiness of minestrone makes it one of our cold season favorites. We tend to make it more stew-like than soup-like, and filling enough to not need bread on the side (even though bread is always a good idea). Using both green lentils and cannellini beans ups the protein content nicely, so even hungry athletes can trust this meal to do the trick. All in all, it’s a winner any day of the week.

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West African Peanut Stew

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I know, I know, we do like to put peanut butter in/on just about anything around here. What can I say – it’s just one of many glorious things Michael (and America) has opened my eyes to. As a matter of fact, I think peanut butter has an undeservedly bad reputation – why, really? If you get (or make) unsweetened peanut butter, it’s just ground up nuts with a dash of salt. That’s all. Peanuts pack a lot of protein, good fats (both mono and polyunsaturated), vitamins (especially folate, some B’s and E) and minerals (good amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and iron, for example). And it’s energy dense. All of the above together make peanut butter a great staple for athletes. And while it’s quite amazing slathered on bread, we use it primarily as an ingredient in energy bars/balls, as an oatmeal topping (oh my, it’s the best) and as an amazing flavor and nutrient booster in savory meals, such as this stew. 

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Lentil-Potato Dal

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Dal – spelled daal, dhal and dahl as well – is a term used for legumes (that is, lentils, beans and peas) in the Indian subcontinent. It also refers to a variety of soups or stews prepared with any of the said ingredients. Most commonly, one tends to associate dal with a curry-laden lentil concoction, and that goes for us too. In our opinion, that’s just the best. Sometimes we make it without potatoes and serve it over rice instead (which, we’re not going to lie, is ridiculously yummy), but with potatoes already in there, it turns into a one-pot complete meal AND a much more eco-friendly alternative (naturally, buying locally grown potatoes is a far better choice than imported rice). Another great alternative is to serve it over wheat berries, which gives you some rice-like chewiness from a far more sustainable food source (at least for us up here in the north).

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Broccoli Coconut Soup

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Until I was 19 years old, I couldn’t stand broccoli. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking back then, but I do remember being served some steamed florets at a restaurant in Costa Rica – at the age of 19 – and I just loved it, all of a sudden. Weird, isn’t it? I was also one of those cilantro-haters until I moved to New York, where I had some the first week, immediately loved it and couldn’t understand what I’d been complaining about all those years. Also weird, right? My theory is that both my Costa Rica-trip (my first long backpacking trip without family) and my move to NYC changed me so fundamentally even my taste buds got tweaked. And hey, it was awesome! Now I’m a happy grower of both broccoli and cilantro and treat them as if my own babies!

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Carrot-Ginger Soup with Sweet Potatoes

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How many recipes for carrot-ginger soup do you think there are out there, spinning around in cyberspace? Many, for sure. Can we agree the reason probably is because it’s pretty darn delicious and everyone wants to take a stab at making their personal favorite? That’s what we’ve been thinking, at least, and here we are. Carrot soup is probably one of the lighter meals you’ll ever serve yourself (unless you add a generous amount of heavy cream, which some people do), and it sure doesn’t hold us over for very long. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to make a little heartier of a version. Maybe not hearty enough to make up a full meal for the active person, or for the runner who just kicked off their wet shoes after hours worth of training in the November rain (we hear you), but enough to make up the base for a dinner (or lunch). We recommend serving this with pita wedges (which you can make from making this flatbread) and some sort of bean spread (such as the white bean “hummus”), or simply as a starter.

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Kichadi (Vegan Indian Stew)

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Kichadi – sometimes spelled e.g. khichdi or kitchari – is a well-known Indian stew, cooked with plenty of spices and said to possess purifying and detoxing properties according to Ayurvedic traditions. There’s no 100% set formula, it seems like, but most versions come with mung beans, rice and a variety of vegetables, in addition to e.g. mustard seeds, cumin, ginger etc. Kichadi is sometimes used as a reset button for the digestive system, and some people eat it solely for a few days in order to give the body a fresh new start. We’ve never tried doing something like that (nor have we ever tried fasting), but this dish does feel very warming, nourishing and overall grounding. The fact that you only have to get one pot dirty is also a huge bonus! Once you’ve chopped up all the veggies (you can go for a rough chop here, nothing needs to be too small), your work is more or less done, and you’ll end up with a good chunk of leftovers too. It reheats very well, even after some time in the freezer.

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Vegetarian Borscht

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Before moving to NYC, I thought maybe I’d find an awesome bagel spot that I’d make “mine”. Or a pizza place, or a coffee shop. I wasn’t expecting becoming a regular at a Ukrainian/American eatery serving up pierogi, borscht and blintzes next to eggs Benedict and chocolate chip pancakes as if the most natural thing in the world, but I did. And while Veselka, as this cultural landmark is called, was a favorite of Michael’s too, I’m proud to say I’d been there multiple times already, when meeting him! (I believe this scored me some extra points there, early on you know) We’ve enjoyed more delicious meals at Veselka than we can count – for example, the thought of a large plate of potato pierogi was the only thing that could get Michael out of fetal position and up from the couch after his first half marathon distance run. It was also the place I took my parents for brunch when they came to New York for the first time, and they did in fact order said chocolate chip pancakes… Whenever we go back to visit these days, a dinner there beats any temptations the fancy restaurants throw at us – and we’re lucky that our brother/brother-in-law doesn’t turn down an opportunity to get his Ukrainian food fix, so we can combine seeing Max AND eating potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream. Win-win.

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