4th Annual Soup Swap

The fall has been a whirlwind, so much so that I almost let it slip by without hosting my annual soup swap! But, alas, I got my act together on December 2, when 9 fabulous friends gathered with plant-based soup in tow to do some swapping.

It was my biggest gathering to date (although last years annual soup swap was fabulous as well!) and think the most tasty! If you’re thinking of hosting your own swap, direction are below – it’s a great way to get together with friends, try some new, healthy recipes, and go home with 6 delicious soups.

This year’s guests brought tortilla soup, quinoa green chili, cauliflower potato leek soup, black bean, veggie dumpling, quinoa veggie, sweet potato chowder, corn chowder, Thai butternut squash….to name a few. A delicious gathering indeed!

 

What you need to do to participate:

Pick a plant-based soup to make (you’ll need to double the recipe) and come to the party with 6 containers full of 1 quart of your soup – we swap them, so make sure it’s in a container you can give away (dollar store has cheap containers!) The idea here is that everyone leaves with a variety of soups they can freeze!

What Does Plant-Based Soup mean?

Using veggie broth, tomato/based, or beans, create a soup that is animal & animal product free (no chicken, turkey, pork, cow, dairy, cheese, butter). It’s not hard! Earth balance has a vegan butter that is super cheap, there are nut milks & veggie broth is found everywhere! Be creative – plants are so versatile and delicious!!!

The Kick Off to Summer

The days are longer, weather has warmed and the nights stretch beautifully on…it is summer in Colorado. It’s a magical season in the mountains, one that lasts a tad longer than most states, due to the arid environment. A friend recently reminded me that summer is only 13 weeks – which seems awfully short, especially as you get older. So, what do I want my next 13 weeks to look like? Last weekend,  Memorial Day weekend, I got a taste of what I’d like this summer to be flavored with: camping, good friends, scrumptious (mostly) healthy food, good beer, biking, and outdoor adventures.

Friday came fast after a busy week of investment property milestones (we passed our plumbing inspections & 2nd story structure inspection) and a crazy work week filled with back-to-back meetings and fire drills. We had been invited to head down south to Canyon City, about 40 miles south of Colorado Springs, to enjoy 30 acres of private land, complete with a disc golf course and mountain biking trails close by. You had me at 30 acres! Being almost 3 hours from Denver, after a severely hectic, but productive week, we left Arvada around 6, avoiding some Friday, Holiday traffic and stopped at Trinity Brewing. This brewery is one of my all-time favorites – an amazing beer selection, with barrel aged sours abound, and an extensive veggie/vegan menu to boot. Ordering the 7 day sour, some seitan vegan wings, and some veggie sammies (Mike tried a Beyond Meat burger and he is now obsessed!). It hit the spot!

Sufficiently fueled, we carried on our way, making the last two hours just as it got dark. The piece of property was quite a bit out there, and we were very thankful to have detailed directions from Anthony, the owner.

We arrived at the private gate that carried us up and around the bumpy, rocky road, coming to the shelf section that made my heart beat extremely fast….I literally leaned over towards Mike as if that would have any impact on balancing the truck! It was a no fall zone for sure, yet we made it to the top of the shelf unscathed, turning right at the big pile of rocks and coming to the big open parking space. It was rather dark, although we saw the light of the campfire and our crew, so we had arrived!

The set up was quite impressive, even in the dark! While they didn’t have running water or electricity, there was a whole sudo kitchen, complete with solar powered lights. After pitching our tent, with only the light from our headlamps to guide us, we joined the few who were still up for a celebratory beer (at that point it was close to 10). It was going to be a good weekend!

The morning brought campfire coffee (nothing beats that!) and bike plans. In the light, the property was even cooler, expansive, with tree coverage, designated areas for hanging, and a disc gulf course (that we would experience later that day). The day plan was set: some would bike Oil Well Flats, some would hike around the property, and we’d all meet back later.

The girls were going to do one trail (there were a ton to choose from) and the boys another. Our friend Janine had the most experience on us, so led the way.

In the arid climate, you have to ensure you have plenty of water and sun screen and probably should head out early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the heat….not 11am, in the thick of the day.

After several hours in the hot sun, one cliff dive, one cactus encounter, one lost biker, and almost seven miles….we finally all made it down to the car! It was a technical ride, one that I felt great on, although it was difficult, but not going to lie, we were all pumped to see the truck!!

 

The few beers at the car quenched our thirst just enough to make it down to Fourmile creek to soak in the river. It. Was. Magnificent. Cool water to soak our sore feet in, friends to rehash tales of the trail, and a beautiful day to enjoy. It sure was a fabulous Saturday.

The river had soaked into our bones sufficiently, so we headed up to the compound to decompress at camp. After eating some lunch (avocado and hummus sandwiches) we settled into camp. There were different areas to hang in….a Mala coloring book station, bean bags, a horseshoe pit…it was an adult playground! Cocktails were poured as well, a pineapple fizzy thing that was amazing and made from pineapple vinegar. Who knew!?

The games wound down and we all decided to head down to play some disc gulf. Anthony had made the course himself, including the baskets, made from old bicycle spokes. It was impressive, with undulating hills, barriers of trees to try to avoid, and wild flowers everywhere. The boys team went first (we let them, of course) followed by the girls.

Stepping up to each hole, whipping the Frisbee discs, having to hunt for discs among the trees and branches…it was really, really fun! Team girls only played 9 holes, but still had a blast. Wine was beckoning, so we headed back to the compound.

That night’s meal was a new favorite: stuffed peppers with chipotle black bean crumbles & brown rice. Anthony & Laura had grills and propane stove tops set up, so cooking was really easy.  After dinner, we went to watch the sun set, the light of dusk shedding a pink hue on everything. It was magical to be out here, and the beauty wasn’t lost on any of us.

We headed back to camp and sat around the fire, listening to good tunes, having smores and enjoying the Coloradical night.

The next day we packed up and headed home, but the weekend had kicked off the summer in the best possible way. It’s going to be a good summer!

 

South Carolina Plant-Based Cookin’

Mike and I are visiting our South Carolina family this weekend and I decided to cook up some plant-based goodness they can eat in the week to come. My sister in law just had a beautiful new baby girl and with her first child, Nora, being in the full toddler swing, I thought cooking some meals they can throw in the oven would be a good way for me to lend a helping hand.

Saturday morning was spent hanging with the babies, taking a walk around the block, then heading back to make a lite lunch. Since I had prepped a Lentil Loaf  yesterday for them to eat this week, I thought I would make some Lentil, Mushroom & Spinach wontons for lunch then prep the cauliflower manicotti (I looked for shells to stuff in the grocery store & they only had manicotti – which works!).

Here are the ingredients for these delicious wontons.

Lentil, Mushroom & Spinach Wontons

  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils (I had leftovers from the lentil loaf!)
  • 1 1/2 cups of spinach
  • 6-8 medium button mushrooms (or baby bella mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons white rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons amino acids (or light soy sauce)
  • Chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (this is optional!)
  • Package of wonton wrappers

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all veggies. Stir and mash the lentils a bit.
  3. Add spices & oils and stir.
  4. Add a big heaping spoonful onto a wonton wrapper – positioning the wrapper like a diamond, fold up the bottom, then the right corner, then the left, and wrap tight.
  5. Put onto lightly sprayed cookie sheet.
  6. Put into oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway.
  7. Serve with a sweet chili sauce

For the cauliflower manicotti, I followed that recipe (adding 1 cup of spinach to the cuisine art/blender) to a tee. If you don’t have nutritional yeast, don’t worry about it. Will turn out great!

Did you make any of the #eatplants meals yet? Let me know how they turned out!