A recipe to remind us that we can create quality food that is inexpensive and easy, plus musings on staying healthy in all aspects of your life.
Here in the Catskills where I live, it’s finally warming up outside and I am filled with a vacillating mixture of hope, anxiety, joy, fear — and love all at the same time. When I find myself too far at the edge of one or all of those feelings, I do my best to remember to take a moment and make sure I am nourishing myself consciously.
Grounding myself, I ask, am I drinking water? Am I feeding myself and my family with food that will keep us strong and healthy?
…or am I scrolling through the hate-filled news, angry and mindlessly eating chips and junk while crying? Truth be told… lately, it’s a bit of it all.
My heart breaks over what is happening, and for the deep-seeded racism that has been a part of our country for centuries. I cannot remain silent. I will try to feel power within the powerlessness of it all — and to stay grounded in the ways that I know how; connecting to my creativity, nature, art, family, my kitchen.
And one thing I can continue to do is share simple, nourishing and delicious recipes that support all of us in these uncertain times (What is ever truly certain anyway?).
I want my recipes to support more than just our bodies, but encourage the wellness of our minds as well — to be easy, versatile and accessible — to fortify and feed us in all ways.
Lately, I’ve been inspired to reconnect with summer soups, which is why I’m sharing a favorite of mine: Summer Black Bean Soup with Cucumber Yogurt Raita. Yum.
Nothing says comfort like a pot of soup no matter the time of year. And if you make too much… bring some to share with a neighbor. If you don’t have black beans — you can use red beans or lentils. Don’t have fresh herbs and can’t get out? Use dried spices and add your favorite flavors.
The reality is that we live in a moment, in a country, where eating plant-based, healthy, local food is sadly not the norm — it actually feels more like an act of rebellion. I don’t take for granted that I have access to farms and fresh food — that I don’t live in a food desert or have to rely upon prepackaged foods filled with chemicals.
Eating healthy food shouldn’t be a privilege and yet, it is.
That said, I’m dedicated to sharing inexpensive ways that you can stay healthy and connected to your Best Self and your community.
Keep yourself nourished and share that nourishment with others. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), question everything you see and read. Know what you are putting into your body (and mind) — and most importantly, please be kind to each other.
Here are some resources that you may find helpful:
- Find your local CSA using your zip code: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/csas
- Find your local Farmers Market (most are now open with Covid-19 protocols in place) https://www.localfarmmarkets.org/
This easy-to-prepare meal takes only a few ingredients that you may already have on hand. A quick trip to your local farmers market or garden can furnish you with fresh herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Summer Black Bean Soup with Cucumber Yogurt Raita
Note: Make the Cucumber Yogurt Raita first or the day before.
Cucumber Yogurt Raita
- 1 organic cucumber
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 green scallion
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ cup unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Wash the cucumber well, trim off the ends and slice in half lengthwise. Do not peel. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard them. Using a box grater, grate the cucumber halves on the largest shredding hole.
- Place the shredded cucumber in a coffee filter lined colander, sprinkle with salt and place on top of a bowl or in the sink. Let the liquid drain from the cucumber for about 30 minutes.
- Gently squeeze any extra liquid out of the cucumber and place in a mixing bowl. Add in the lemon juice, green onion and black pepper. Mix together and then add in the vegan yogurt.
Keep refrigerated up to 3 days.
- If you are unable to get an organic cucumber, peel off and discard the skin before slicing in half.
- If your yogurt is very loose and watery, drain the excess liquid in the same way as the cucumber, in a coffee filter lined colander.
- Make certain your plain yogurt is unsweetened, reading the ingredients is the only way to tell for sure.
- Add in fresh herbs like mint, dill or parsley for extra flavor.
- Use as a salad dressing, or on top of some pan seared tofu.
Summer Black Bean Soup
- 1 15oz. can black beans
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1 plum tomato diced
- 1 green scallion thinly sliced
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- 3-4 sprigs fresh herbs, stems removed (oregano and baby basil used here)
- Warm olive oil in a small pot. Toss in diced tomato, scallions, salt, dried thyme and smoked paprika. Stir gently and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes begin to get lightly stewed. Add in the leaves of the fresh herbs and stir.
- Pour in the can of beans, liquid and all. Add in the vegetable stock and stir together. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a medium-low flame.
- Simmer for 10-12 minutes. Serve with Cucumber Yogurt Raita and Corn Chips.
- Add in sliced radishes at the end, fresh corn cut from the cob or sliced green beans.
You may also enjoy eating Marmalade and Musings: From the Kitchen to Life’s Table by Christine Moss