Spiced Red Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
curried lentil and barley vegetable soup

There are times when you don't plan ahead for dinner and you have to make do with staples, unless you want to run out to the grocery store, but that is not always a viable or preferred option. This is one such soup that I put together one afternoon employing the use of odds and ends of produce and basics that I usually always have on hand. The addition of barley and coconut milk add a silky texture to this earthy soup packed full of plenty of root vegetables and robust tomatoes.

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Thai-Style Coconut and Roasted Carrot Soup

roasted carrot soup

It's always soup season in my kitchen, and especially right now as spring temperatures are eagerly awaited. The chill has not left the air, though the sunshine is warmer than it was a few weeks ago. What better way to provide comfort and warmth than with a Thai-inspired carrot soup? Carrots are a pantry staple for those days when a meal is lacking in vegetables, as they keep well in the fridge and it's a snap to cut some up raw or lightly steam them for a side. In this case, carrots were the shining ingredient in this spicy and creamy soup.

Roasting the carrots brings out a natural sweetness that's complete with fragrant and zesty Thai flavors. Coconut milk is essential here for a more authentic Thai taste. Homemade red Thai curry paste is also an important component here. It also keeps well in the fridge and so I usually have some on hand when I am in the mood for Thai food. It's easy to make up and far superior in taste than store-bought varieties. Whether you make your own or purchase the paste, adjust the quantity added according to the heat level you are comfortable with. Remember, it is always easy to add more later on, but if you add to much to begin with, there is no going back.

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Mexican-Style Mung Bean Tostadas

mung bean tostadas

Tostadas are rather new to me, but this dish is essentially a salad with a toasted corn tortilla base and bean topping with other delights, such as lettuce, tomatoes and salsa or guacamole if you please. I was inspired to try this rather unconventional version of a Mexican classic with mung beans instead of refried beans for quite some time now after I spotted the recipe from Janet of The Taste Space. Another beauty and certainly I encourage my readers to check out Janet's vegan wonders.

I adore mung beans, with their particularly sweet and earthy flavor, and why not play around with traditional dishes? I am certainly glad I did.

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Chocolate Chili Cake

Quick and easy cocoa loaf cake with a hint of heat from chili powder. Not too sweet, it pairs well with fresh raspberries or even a pat of butter for a bit more richness.

Chocolate Chili Cake

Most of my sweet treats these days are raw ones that often incorporate dried fruits, nuts, including nut butters, a bit of natural sweetener and sometimes chocolate and coconut. Not that I don't enjoy baking, but I find raw power bars, balls and squares are an ideal, pretty much guilt-free energy boost as part of breakfast and a good pick-me-up for drowsy afternoons. Just anytime at all really.

Chili Cake

But sometimes there is nothing quite like the aroma of baked goods, such as chocolate cake in this instance. On a recent visit to my Dad and stepmom, I happened to overhear a conversation they were having after dinner. My stepmom is an excellent baker and cook and my Dad has made some pretty tasty meals and desserts himself. Although there is usually homemade dessert to complete their evening meal, it so happened that the next day for them was busy and my stepmom teased my Dad and told him he was going to have to eat yogurt for dessert. Not that a bit of sweetened yogurt is an unwelcome dessert, but my Dad likes his baked sweets.

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