Lasagna Soup with Fresh Spinach ♥ Recipe

Lasagna Soup with Fresh Spinach, a healthy hearty soup, high protein. For Weight Watchers, just #PP4.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's hearty soup recipe: Homemade lasagna in a bowl, all the flavors, but for post-holiday dieters like me, skipping the cheese. (No missing it, promise.) Weight Watchers 4 PointsPlus. graphic button small size size 10

~updated & republished 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

The new year is a sort of relief, isn't it? Not so much that last year was so bad (for me, though I know was a hard-hard year for many) but because it just feels sooo good to leave behind the too-much, too-rich, too-sweet, too-tempting foods that are hallmarks of the holidays. I've made soup every day this week, broth-based soups packed with vegetables and protein and nutrients. A cup at a time, they are reviving my holiday-logged body and spirit, preparing me for the fullness of the new year.

PLUS I'm cleaning out the basement freezer and the pantry! So when I spied the recipe for "Cheesy Spinach Lasagna Soup" in one of my favorite cookbooks from 2009, The Spice Kitchen, I knew that I'd skip the cheese and amp up the spinach. Better still, it was a great way to use up odd scraps of lasagna noodles that seem to collect.

Tis all a relief, for sure, shedding the excess, living with what's on hand.

Laura’s Famous Chunky Guacamole ♥

Laura's Famous Chunky Guacamole, the family favorite, ripe avocado tossed with poblano, tomato, onion, cilantro and lemon juice. Vegan. Paleo. #LowCarb. For Weight Watchers, just #PP4.
graphic button small size size 10 How to make a great bowl of chunky guacamole, big pieces of ripe avocado tossed with poblano, tomato, onion, cilantro and brightened with lemon juice instead of lime juice. Laura's Famous Chunky Guacamole is the family favorite, the one appetizer found at every single family party. But word to the wise. Get some fast – because it doesn't last long! Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

Two party stories about Laura's Famous Chunky Guacamole:

graphic button small size size 10 PARTY #1 The avocados were perfect and cheap. On the spot, I called Laura with an idea for a party that weekend. "If I buy the avocados, will you make your guacamole?" She laughed and consented. (Laura, she's cool that way.) I bought twenty avocados. My reward? Harumph, that guacamole vanished before I got a single bite. It disappeared in a flash!
graphic button small size size 10 PARTY #2 The next year, same story, same perfect avocados, same party, same call. But this time I was smart and made the offer conditional. "But only if you put some aside so I get some." She laughed and consented.

Fast forward a couple of years, many parties and many bowls of Laura's Famous Guacamole. Back in November, Laura arrived early for a small family gathering and made the guacamole right in our kitchen, me taking notes as her capable, confident hands worked quickly, coaching me with all those inside tips that turn a "recipe" into "success". She first makes what's really pico de gallo with poblano, onion, tomato and cilantro, then wets it with lemon juice not the more typical lime juice. "I just think it's brighter," she says.

Now for the record, Laura has taken to calling her guacamole "avocado salsa" because the Texans in the family say it's not "really" guacamole because of the tomato. Good! The more for the rest of us, the more for ME.

FUN PRESENTATION! Have you ever served guacamole right in the skins? I did that with this fun Avocado Dip and it looked cool. And for those of us, ahem, who exercise little restraint when it comes to guacamole, they'd help with portion control too.

Creamy Spinach or Beet Greens with Roasted Beets ♥

Creamy Spinach or Beet Greens with Roasted Beet from A Veggie Venture.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's vegetable recipe, a quick side dish or even a light main course: Spinach leaves or beet greens cooked gently with a little cream, combined with roasted beet. Simple as can be, way more than the sum of its parts! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2013 & 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

Original 2007 Post: As so often happens in the kitchen, 'fusion' recipes can be utterly delicious.

A. Beets were on sale for $1 a pound so I bought a bunch to make borscht. Oh my, do you make borscht? I must, more often! Anyway I roasted some extra beets my favorite way, not sure where they'd end up, beyond the first beet which always gets eaten straight from the oven.

B. Ever since making these baked eggs (also called 'shirred eggs', my friend food stylist Linda Behrends reminded me recently) I've been captivated by what happens when you cook a handful of spinach in cream or half 'n' half.

A + B = C, a delicious new side dish! And fast and easy and a keeper!

Beefy Tomatillo Chili ♥

Beefy Tomatillo Chili, the 'sour' of tomatillos totally works with chili. For Weight Watchers, #PP4. #LowCarb.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's chili recipe: A big pot of rib-sticking chili made with chunks of beef and tomatillos. Low Carb. Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

Shake it up, baby! Who says chili has to be the same thing, every time, every pot? Come cold weather, every couple of weeks, you'll find a big pot of chili simmering away here in our kitchen. To shake it up, to not get bored, we mix up the chili recipes. Often, of course, we follow no recipe, just kinda make it up as we go along. Luckily, chili likes that! We were enamored with tomatillo chili, the distinct "sour" of tomatillos really works in chili. So maybe you want to follow this recipe (it's a good one, I promise) or maybe you just want to tuck some tomatillos into your own make-it-up-as-you-make-chili. Either way, tomatillos belong in chili.

MEAT? Really, at A Veggie Venture? Yes, A Veggie Venture is about vegetables but it's not 100% vegetarian. And while 95 percent of the site is veg(etari)an, occasionally I post a recipe for the readers who, like me, are vegetable-crazy omnivores. (Note to Vegetarians)

Recipe for Homemade Guacamole with Tomatillos ♥
Weight Watchers-Friendly!

Homemade Guacamole  with Tomatillos, great flavor, lightened up with #LowCal tomatillos. For Weight Watchers, just #PP2. #LowCarb #GlutenFree #Paleo
Today's guacamole recipe: Traditional avocado guacamole lightened with tomatillos. Stays fresh and bright green for a couple of days! Weight Watchers Friendly, just 2 PointsPlus per quarter cup! Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". And decidedly delicious, did I mention that?!

~recipe & photo updated 2014 & republished 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

2008 ORIGINAL POST: Much as we all might hope (and I might try, say, with guacamole made from broccoli), there's really no replacing real avocados if we want real guacamole. So this year, I switched strategies, trying a recipe that adds bulk from a lower-calorie ingredient to the traditional avocados.

TASTE Taste-wise, guacamole made with a mix of avocado and tomatillo completely works! It is definitely a real avocado guacamole. Better yet? The lower-calorie tomatillos add a brightness that's just a touch deliciously different. Tomatillos are also called Mexican Green Tomatoes so in addition to being lower in calories, they also fit the Mexican-ish theme. Score!

NUTRITION So did my strategy to lower the calories in guacamole work too? Yes! With tomatillos, the guacamole can't help but have fewer calories for equivalent volume – and a quarter cup of this guacamole adds up to two points for Weight Watchers (both Old Points & PointsPlus). It's all still a matter of portion control, however, be sure to check the nutrition information provided after the recipe.

Vegetables 101: What Are Root Vegetables?

What Are Root Vegetables? Another Vegetables 101 from A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 So many vegetables, so many that are unfamiliar! This is the latest in an occasional series of posts, quick, easy and practical information about out-of-the-ordinary vegetables or familiar-but-ill-defined vegetable terms. Recipe suggestions included!

Today's subject? The staple vegetables of winter, the root vegetables. If you've ever wondered what "root vegetables" are or "which vegetables are root vegetables" – read on!

HOW TO PRONOUNCE ROOT? Haha, this is a "you say tomato, I say tomahto" answer. I say [ROOT] – a pronunciation that rhymes with boot, toot, loot and cranky old coot and what-a-hoot this is!

But others say something more akin to [RUUT] – rhyming with football and fireplace soot. The English language is so complicated! How do you pronounce the word "root"? Maybe we can discern some regional variations!

MORE FOR WORD DANCERS I love this introduction to "odd roots" from Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka, a real tome but one I refer to often. She writes,

"The word 'root' is odd, with many meanings and associations – good and bad, and some times the opposite of each other. If an animal roots around looking for food, it is a pig. Yet if one roots, it can be that one is establishing permanency in a community. If one is rootless, a settled location or function in life is missing. Words are roots in languages. People who live on roots are metaphorically poor and deprived. However, it is time to root for roots. They are on the food team." ~ Barbara Kafka, Vegetable Love

WHAT ARE ROOT VEGETABLES? There are two definitions of root vegetables. At A Veggie Venture, we are more cooks than botanists so let's start with the culinary definition of root vegetables.

THE CULINARY DEFINITION For good cooks and good eaters, a root vegetable is the underground, edible portion of a plant. For those who don't have gardens, it's not that obvious, we never see the dirt, do we?! So think potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes, those are common root vegetables.

How to Make a Spinach Omelet ♥ Tips & Techniques

How to Make a Spinach Omelet, lots of tips & techniques, #Paleo and #Whole30 versions. #LowCarb #HighProtein For Weight Watchers, #PP3 to #PP7, depending on choices. #AVeggieVenture
graphic button small size size 10 How to make a low-cal, low-carb, high-protein Spinach Omelet with fresh spinach or frozen spinach, either big or small, with milk or water. All the tricks and tips from this spinach-crazy veteran omelet-maker! Weight Watchers Friendly: depending on choices, PointsPlus range from 3 to 7. Gluten Free. Paleo and Whole30 substitutions included. Vegetarian. graphic button small size size 10

Put me on a desert island for a week or a month and the foods I'd want, for sure, would be eggs and greens. (You? What would be on your "food necessity" list? Would eggs be on the list?) For a year now, I've fixed one spinach omelet after another, some times for a solitary supper in a fast 15 minutes, more often as a healthy breakfast for two. Here are my tricks: