Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

Another frigid week and another big pot of soup was made! This has all simple, easy to find ingredients that blend well together for a hearty meal.

Very much like my Three Bean Vegan Soup, despite the name there is so much more in this soup.  Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup ingredientsAlongside the Butternut Squash and Lentils and kale (I know everyone is saying that kale is so ‘2015’ but I still love it!), there are black beans and cannellini beans.

This is another soup that packs in the protein, vitamin c, iron and lots of vitamin a from the butternut squash.  Make some warm cornbread to go along with it and you have a satisfied mind, (warm) body and soul.

Feed the wellness in you!

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup


  • 9 cups of vegetable stock (Better than Bouillon is preferred)
  • 1/2 lb Chopped Kale
  • 1 lb of diced Butternut Squash
  • 1 - 15 oz can of Cannellini Beans
  • 1 - 15 oz can of Black Beans Beans
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 tbl onion powder
  • 1 tbl garlic powder
  • 1 tbl smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Bring your stock to a boil and add the kale. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the butternut squash and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, stir, and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  4. Let cool to desired temperature and serve.

Frozen and Prepared Favorites Part 2

Last month I shared a few favorite frozen and prepared foods that help me when I’m pressed for time to prepare a meal.  Here are more favorites that I recommend you keep in mind when you are rushing to the grocery store and want something quick to prepare. Stick to a single serving (although it’s tough!), add a vegetable or salad as a side dish and you’ll have a great meal.

Trader Joe’s Spinach and Kale Pie

Spinach and Kale Pie

This has all the robust flavor and flaky texture of traditional Spanikopita.  If you’re a fan of that Greek dish you would love this.  Neither one of the greens overpowers the other and they did a great job at blending them so you don’t get the toughness of the kale.  Very well done.

Trader Giotto’s Kale, Sweet Potato and Butternut Pizza

Kale, Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash PizzaTrader ‘Giotto’s’ is the Italian product line at Trader Joe’s.  Looks can be deceiving but not in the case of this frozen gem.  Not only is it a very unique combination of ingredients but it tastes like it is freshly made out of a brick oven.  The crust is perfect; great flavor and slightly crisp. The use of pureed sweet potato in place of a traditional sauce is amazing.

Trader Giotto’s Organic Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Broccoli

Organic Pesto Pizza with tomatoes and broccoliAnother slam dunk for a great frozen pizza!  Again, the crust is perfect and it is bursting with just the right amount of pesto flavor.  Simply done with tomatoes and broccoli, this is another one to have ‘on call’ at home!

LaPasta Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli

This is a Costco product and is made in my local area according to the package so I’m not certain whether you can get this at all Costco’s.Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli  However, I’m hopeful that Costco wouldn’t deny others of this wonderful pasta.  This cooks in 3 minutes and is such a wonderful blend of simple flavors.  The description states that the pumpkin is sweet and it really is.  It tastes more like butternut squash than it does pumpkin.  I top with a tomato sauce but I’m sure it’s great with light olive oil and garlic also.

Feed the wellness in you!














Curry Tofu and Chickpeas

Curry Tofu and Chickpeas1 

Since starting this blog I stayed away from the inclusion of a tofu recipe thus far.  Despite preparing meals with tofu at least 2 days a week,  I figured a tofu dish would be expected on a vegetarian blog, very cliché and the obvious default.  I thought you would find it boring.   While chatting with some girlfriends recently they told me that although they eat tofu they never cook it because they didn’t know how.  They weren’t sure where to start and how to incorporate it into their lifestyles because they would if they could (they are not vegetarians). How many of you are struggling with cooking tofu?  If you don’t fall into this category and this post bores you, please return tomorrow!  But for those who are curious about how to prepare tofu, here’s the first of many tofu dishes, an easy Curry Tofu with Chickpeas.  I always have tofu and chickpeas in my pantry along with the required spices.  I am a first generation American, born to parents from the Caribbean so this style of cooking in this recipe is very natural for me to use.

Tofu dishes can be considered my ‘fast food’.  I regularly have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It can be scrambled for breakfast, added to sandwiches and salads for lunch, used in an array of main and side dishes for dinner, and even in desserts.  The key to adding it to the dish is knowing the type of tofu to purchase depending on what you are making.  There are several different types of tofu – silken, firm, and extra-firm.  Silken is used for soft things like sauces or desserts; firm is best used in salads or things that don’t require a lot of manipulation like a wrap sandwich and extra firm would be used in stir fry’s, baked dishes or deep fried.  When eating out, do not be fooled by the inclusion of tofu in the dish as a healthier option.  It is often deep fried when it arrives so ask how it is prepared before ordering it.  If it is fried, just ask them not to.  It’s a quicker process for the chef to flash fry it than to dry the water out of it.

Tofu is packaged in a big block usually with water.

Tofu in white backround

What helps with  gaining the right consistency for your dish before cooking is to drain the water from the tofu.  I open the package, drain the water, slice the tofu, then wrap it with paper towels, changing at least twice.

Curry tofu 2

I then often bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees so it just gets a little firmer and slightly brown around the edges, as I did with this dish.  When I do bake it, I cube it before placing it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


With this base of tofu preparation, you can try tofu in various dishes.  Here’s the Curry Tofu and Chickpeas recipe which requires this type of prepping.  I hope you give it a try.  I served it over a plantain mash but I also do it with rice and peas –  it works with any starch you choose.  Use as a side dish with your protein of choice or as a main dish if you’re exploring the green life on that day.

Feed the wellness in you!

Curry Tofu and Chickpeas

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Curry lends itself to be customized for those who love it so pay attention to your spices, taste and adjust accordingly.


  • 2 pkgs extra firm tofu
  • 1.5 cans garbanzo beans
  • 2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp curry powder (mild, medium or hot - your choice!)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 - 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tbl curry powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (optional)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • cilantro


  1. Prep the tofu as described above.
  2. Saute the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onions, garlic, ginger, 1 tsp curry powder for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Turn to low.
  3. Add your tofu and mix well.
  4. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock along with your chick peas, tomato paste, curry powder, onion powder, ground white pepper, cumin, turmeric, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, scallions, 1 tsp of sea salt, habanero or scotch bonnet pepper.
  5. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
  6. Add the additional cup of vegetable stock as it thickens, then turn to low for 25 minutes.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes, mix, then let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove the scotch bonnet or habanero before serving.
  10. Serve over your grains with cilantro on top.

Vegetable Lasagne with Polenta

 Vegetable polenta


A few weeks ago while in London with my family we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the restaurant, Jamie Oliver Italian. I’m a big fan of Chef Oliver’s “better food” education efforts because it was sorely needed.  However, I really had no intention of making his restaurant a destination while in the UK. I thought it would be difficult for a ‘chain’ restaurant (there are 37 locations in London) to maintain his personal stamp and I really wanted to explore other dining options (given the chance I would’ve eaten Indian food everyday!). We were in the midst of sightseeing between attractions and the children were suddenly starving.  If you have children you know you need to resolve that right away!  Chef Oliver has four children of his own and is known to have great kid friendly dishes. With 37 restaurant locations the opportunity easily presented itself to see what Jamie Oliver Italian had to offer.

There were a decent amount of vegetarian pasta options on the menu and I chose the Vegetable Rotolo Al Forno that is a dish comprised of seasonal pumpkin, squash & spinach. ‘Rotolo Al Forno’ seems to translate to ‘Baked Roll’ and there were pinwheels of pasta (about half the width of a lasagna noodle) filled with the pumpkin combination and topped with tomatoes, ricotta and a little parmesan cheese. The description also had ‘herby breadcrumbs’ which seemed to be Chef Oliver’s topping on several dishes. I couldn’t foresee how breadcrumbs would help the dish so I asked for the pasta without it and they obliged.

I really enjoyed this savory blend! The combination of the vegetables and cheese really worked for me and I immediately thought of incorporating it in a dish when I returned stateside. So I did! I made some changes using polenta instead of pasta, butternut squash only with no pumpkin, in addition to spinach I added collard greens, and lastly instead of using parmesan cheese I used parrano cheese. I’m really pleased with the flavors and I hope you are too!


Vegetable Lasagne with Polenta

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6


  • 16 oz Chopped Collards
  • 12 oz Baby Spinach
  • 20 oz Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 2-24 oz tubes Polenta
  • 8 oz San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Rao’s Marinara Sauce
  • 64 oz Vegetable Stock
  • 24 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Basil
  • Shaved Parrano Cheese
  • Sea Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put collards in a large pot with enough vegetable stock to just cover the collards about 1/4 inch.
  3. Season with the onion powder, garlic powder and 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.
  4. Bring to a boil then turn to low and cook for 1.5 hours.
  5. Add spinach and sea salt to taste.
  6. Cook until the spinach is the same dark green color as the collards. The spinach should not be just wilted and bright green. It should be soft and dark. This may take approximately 30 minutes. The collards and spinach should be very soft and the same consistency.
  7. Drain the liquid and set aside.
  8. In another pot, cook the butternut squash similarly; cover with just enough vegetable stock and cook for about 20 minutes or until they are soft. No seasoning is added. Mash them to a soft consistency and put in a strainer to release the liquid.
  9. Slice your polenta (I like the Sun of Italy brand) in even ‘disk’ sizes. You should have at least 20 slices but you should not have more than 2 rows and 2 layers of polenta when it is all assembled.
  10. Mix your ricotta cheese with the dried basil and a dash of sea salt to taste.
  11. In a baking dish (I use size 9x13), pour the marinara sauce to cover and coat the bottom of the dish.
  12. Add a layer of polenta (about 8 - 10 slices).
  13. Top with the butternut squash and spread evenly.
  14. Add the collards and spinach and spread evenly on top of the butternut squash.
  15. Top the butternut squash with the ricotta and spread evenly.
  16. Top the ricotta with the remaining polenta slices.
  17. Add the San Marzano tomatoes evenly on top of the polenta.
  18. Bake for 40 minutes.
  19. Add Parrano Cheese and serve.

 Vegetable Polenta1I prefer Parrano cheese but you can use Parmesan or Pecorino Romano also.  All of them are delish!