Curry Carrot Soup

We just got back yesterday from a week long vacation on an Alaskan Cruise (a few pictures are at the bottom of this post), and I came home to a bare bones fridge without any willpower to make it to the grocery store.  I grabbed all of the surviving veggies out of the pantry and fridge and got to work.  Sometimes the best recipes come from those we throw together out of necessity, and this is a keeper!

It is ever so slightly starting to feel like fall in western Washington, so this creamy, comforting soup just hit the spot.  Along with an afternoon of football, knitting, and tea, this soup got me in the mood to cuddle up on the couch, wear fuzzy socks, and relax.  Ahhhh... :)

I made this recipe in my InstantPot Duo pressure cooker, but it can easily be done on the stovetop or a crockpot by adjusting the cooking times.  See my notes below for suggested adjustments.

Curry Carrot Soup
(Pressure Cooker Friendly)
Time: 10 minutes prep, 6 minutes high pressure
Servings: 6-8 servings

        2 cups chopped onion
        2 celery sticks, chopped
        4 cups chopped carrots
        1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
        1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
        1 tsp minced ginger
        1 tsp cumin seeds
        1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
        1/2 tsp dried mustard powder (optional)
        1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubbed
        1 cup dried yellow split peas
        1 cup dried red lentils
        6 cups water (boiling water will bring pot to pressure faster, optional)
        2 Tbsp mild curry powder
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

        3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, deseeded, and chopped

Pressure Cooker Instructions:
1.)  In a large pressure cooker, saute the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, cumin, and fennel seeds for 3-5 minutes.
2.)  Add in the remaining ingredients except for the roasted red bell peppers.  Stir to distribute spices throughout.
3.)  Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.  Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes, and then release any remaining pressure.
4.)  Carefully remove the lid once pressure has been released.  Add in the chopped roasted peppers.  Serve chunky or use an immersion blender to cream the soup, adding additional water to reach the desired consistency.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Amy's Notes:
To make this soup on the stovetop, follow the same directions to saute, but simmer for 20-30 minutes in place of the 6 minutes cooking at pressure.

To make this soup in a crockpot, throw all of the ingredients in and cook on high for about 4 hours.

I would suggest topping with green onion, cilantro, parsley, basil, or nutritional yeast.  Again, I was running on empty cupboards, so mine pictured is merely garnished with fresh ground black pepper.

Now, here are a few pictures from our Alaskan Cruise last week... :)

Our first stop was in Ketchican.  We started the day by going to Creek Street (the old red light district), and then continued for a hike up Deer Mountain.  I hiked about halfway up (1500 feet) until we got to a beautiful overlook.  We met my parents halfway up the trail and Kevin and my dad decided to continue to the top of the mountain (3200 feet) while my mom and I slowly made our way down the mountain so I would have time to check out a yarn shop in town.

This is Kevin after the long hike.  The peak above is where him and my dad made it up to.  We were all a little sore the day following, but the views and scenery made it all worth it!

Our next stop should have been up the Tracy Arm Fjord, but unfortunately someone had a medical emergency that day on the ship and we had to proceed to Juneau instead of  seeing the Tracy Arm Glacier.  Huge bummer!  Thankfully, we didn't have any hard-set plans in Juneau and were able to take a shuttle up to Mendenhall Glacier.  The weather was perfectly sunny, but just cool enough that I got to rock some of my favorite knitted pieces.

Later in Juneau we took another shuttle to the Alaskan Brewery for a guided tasting.  Lots of fun to learn about the innovative ways the brewery has adapted to produce the quantities they do with more efficiency and less environmental impacts (recycling CO2 from fermentation and using spent grain biomass for energy).  The beer was delicious!

Health and Happiness,



Berry Poppy Seed Dressing

My two favorite parts of a grocery store are the produce section (for obvious reasons) and the bulk bin section.  Bulk bins are getting much more popular these days and carry just about everything including dried beans and legumes, whole grains and flours, nuts and seeds, as well as spices.

Buying items in bulk is great for getting as little or as much as you want of an item.  I also appreciate how it cuts down on packaging for sustainability reasons.  I find that when I shop in the bulk bins I save money on items in each section, but particularly on beans, whole grains, and spices.  When bought by the bag, beans can cost $2-$3 per pound, whereas I find them in the bulk bin around $0.50-$1 per pound.  Grains are about the same ratio in price differences as beans.  Spices are often where the biggest difference is.  Some tiny spice jars can cost $4-$8 depending on what you are getting, but in the bulk section can be a quarter of those prices or less.

Some of my favorite items from each section that are staples in our house are as follows (because I love making lists!):

  • Dried beans/legumes: pinto beans, small red beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, black eyed peas, brown lentils, red lentils, yellow and green split peas
  • Whole grains: rolled oats, steel cut oats, brown rice varieties, wild rice, pearl barley, millet, quinoa
  • Flours: whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, smelt flour
  • Nuts and Seeds: (all raw) cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseeds
  • Spices: cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried ginger, dry mustard, onion powder, garlic powder

Last time I loaded up in the bulk bin section, I thought I would try something new and decided to get poppy seeds.  I thought a sweeter poppy seed dressing sounded wonderful and remembered that I had froze some raspberries and blackberries a week ago when they were on sale at the produce market.

Berry Poppy Seed Dressing
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

        1 cup frozen mixed berries
        1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
        1/2 cup raw cashews
        4 pitted dates
        3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
        1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
        1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
        1/2 tsp dry mustard
        1/4 tsp cinnamon

        1/4 cup poppy seeds

1.)  In a high-powered blender, blend together all of the ingredients except the poppy seeds.
2.)  Blend until smooth and creamy, adding additional plant-based milk to reach desired consistency.
3.)  Add in the poppy seeds and blend on low to mix.
4.)  Serve chilled over a salad or as a sweet, tangy dip.

Amy's Notes:
In my recipe I used a mixture of frozen raspberries and blackberries.  You could also use blueberries, huckleberries, strawberries, or any mixture of your favorite berries.  I also used unsweetened soy milk, but feel free to use whatever plant-based milk you like best.  Because of the sweeter nature and the acidic ingredients in the recipe it has a slight yogurt-tangy flavor.

For my pictured salad below, I served the berry poppy seed dressing over a bed of green lettuce (from my neighbor's garden, score!), shaved carrots, fresh strawberries, sliced radishes, diced avocado, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseed.  Yum!

Health and Happiness,



Week 3 of ETL 6-Week Challenge

This last week was hard for me and I know that I did not get in as much fresh produce as I should have.  I ran into several situations where we were out with friends and there just wasn't anything to eat, so most of the time I didn't eat, or ate small amounts of acceptable items.  By Sunday morning after being out and about most of Friday and Saturday, I was so relieved to have a nice big salad going into my system.  It's funny how salads become second nature when you are on ETL.  My body and energy levels definitely change when I am missing my daily greens.  All the more encouraging reason to keep at it!

Breakfast on Monday
Leftover from our Saturday trip the
weekend before to Ocean Shores for the 4th.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast: apple slices and carrot sticks
    • Lunch:  warmed kale and chickpea salad with sundried tomato dressing
    • Dinner: steamed zucchini and Indian Mixed Dal
    • Exercise: no exercise this day - my hip was sore from walking over the weekend
    • Extras: apple after lunch

Breakfast on Tuesday
Peaches are so easy to throw in my work bag
and chop up quickly once I get into the office.
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: 2 sliced peaches
    • Lunch: warmed kale and chickpea salad
    • Dinner: I got busy painting and wasn't hungry for dinner.
    • Exercise: painting my kitchen for 2 hours
    • Extras: 2 dove dark chocolate pieces after lunch, glass of white wine in the evening

Lunch on Wednesday
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast: 2 golden pluots, 1 peach, 1 apple
    • Lunch: warmed kale and chickpea salad, Indian Mixed Dal
    • Dinner: plain veggie nachos with extra beans (no cheese)
    • Exercise: painting my kitchen for 1 hour
    • Extras: 1 beer at trivia

Breakfast on Thursday
This was probably my favorite meal of the week.
The little bit of avocado was just right to
 fuel me through a busy morning at work.
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: 1/2 avocado, 1 peach, 1 apple, and 1 golden pluot
    • Lunch: steamed zucchini and Indian Mixed Dal
    • Dinner: I got busy painting and wasn't hungry for dinner.
    • Exercise: Finishing painting my kitchen for 5 hours in the evening.
    • Extras: 2 dove chocolate pieces after lunch

"Lunch" on Friday
I got so busy painting and cleaning my kitchen I skipped a meal or two.
I had two handfuls of Brazil nuts to tide me over until I was able to eat
when we got to Seattle for a friend's birthday celebration.
  • Friday
    • Breakfast: Skipped breakfast while deep cleaning my kitchen after painting.
    • Lunch:  Two handfuls of Brazil nuts to hold me off until early dinner.
    • Dinner:  Vegan sausage with grilled onions and sauerkraut in downtown Seattle. 
    • Exercise: Cleaning in the morning, walking in the evening.
    • Extras:  A few drinks out with friends

Us at a Mariner's game on Saturday.  We got tickets from a friend's work for free.
It happened to be Nelson Cruz bobblehead night AND they won!
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  Slept in and didn't eat breakfast
    • Lunch:  Vegan mac and cheese
    • Dinner: Chips and salsa out with friends
    • Exercise: Walking around Seattle
    • Extras: 1 beer at the Mariner's game

Lunch on Sunday
This salad was super good!  I made berry poppy seed dressing (recipe coming this week).
The salad consisted of green lettuce from my neighbor's garden, sliced radishes,
shaved carrots, sliced strawberries, diced avocado, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseed.
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: Sliced strawberries
    • Lunch: Large green salad with berry poppy seed dressing (recipe coming this week)
    • Dinner: Whole wheat spaghetti with veggie loaded marinara sauce and chopped field roast vegan sausage
    • Exercise: 20 minutes biking, 10 minutes stretching, 5 minutes arm exercises
    • Extras: 1/2 glass of red wine with dinner, olives while prepping dinner

Health and Happiness,