Tomato Red Pepper Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a quintessential soup for the dog days of summer. For me, sipping a big bowlful is an enjoyable and tasty way to stay hydrated and get loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients at the same time.  Serves 8

1 ½ – 2 cups tomato juice or tomato juice blend, low sodium if possible

6 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

2 small red bell peppers, roughly chopped [about 2 ½ cups]

4 medium or 2 large stalks celery, roughly chopped [about 1 ½ cups]

1 medium organic and un-waxed cucumber with skin, roughly chopped [see note below]

1 small zucchini, roughly chopped [about 1 cup]

¼ cup roughly chopped red onion

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons capers

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 large clove fresh garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt [decrease amount to ½ teaspoon if not using low sodium tomato juice]

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ – 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Place the tomato juice, tomatoes, red peppers, celery, cucumber, zucchini, onion, olive oil, capers, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and dried oregano into the blender container. Blend on high until vegetables are fully broken down and soup is very smooth. Add the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, fresh basil, parsley, and ½ teaspoon of maple syrup.

Blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if an additional pinch of salt, sherry vinegar, or maple syrup is needed for brightness and balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Variation: for a more chunky texture stir in some diced celery or cucumber, chopped green olives, or crumbled croutons before serving
  • Cucumber with it’s skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but they are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the cuke if organic and/or unwaxed product isn’t available


Honeydew Cucumber Gazpacho with Pumpkin Seeds and Basil

This fresh take on gazpacho is restorative, hydrating, and a perfect remedy if feeling fatigued or depleted. Members of the   cucurbitaceae or gourd family, honeydew melon and cucumber are a natural pairing. The pumpkin seeds in this chilled soup lend texture along with essential fats, fiber, and easily digestible proteins. Jalapeno pepper, citrus, and fresh herbs team up with the watery gourds to deliver a super fast, super delicious dose of  vitamin C, and potassium.                  

Makes about 6 cups

4 cups cubed honeydew melon

1 large organic un-waxed cucumber with skin, cubed [see note below]

¼ – ½ cup water

6 Tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 medium scallion, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

¼ cup roughly chopped basil

2 Tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

Place melon, cucumber, ¼ cup water, pumpkin seeds, jalapeno, scallion, lime and lemon juices, and salt into the blender container. Blend on high until very smooth. If soup is too thick, add more water in 2 Tablespoon increments to assist blending until desired consistency is reached.

Add fresh herbs and blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if another pinch of salt or lime juice is needed for balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Variation: substitute ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint for the basil and parsley, increase fresh lime juice to 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons.
  • Cucumber with skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but unfortunately these fruits are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the the cucumber if organic and/or un-waxed aren’t available.
  • Storing the melon and cucumber in the refrigerator before using them in the recipe saves time and will make this soup ready to eat in about 5 minutes.

Broccoli with Edamame and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Recent conversation came up around Eating the Rainbow so I thought it would be fun to develop a series of recipes based on color. This one represents one of my interpretations of green; a yummy one pan, veg-centric, dish that comes together in under 15 minutes.

2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic [about 3 large cloves]

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

8 ounces, about 1½ cups, frozen edamame beans, thawed

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs blend

1 pound broccoli

½ teaspoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons water

2 scallions, sliced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place pumpkin seeds in a large skillet set over medium low heat. Toast, shaking the pan often, for about a minute, until seeds are puffy and lightly browned. Be careful to not let them burn. Remove seeds to a plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add oil to the skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and red chili flakes, cooking and stirring until fragrant, 30-40 seconds.

Add the edamame beans, a pinch of salt, and dried Italian herbs, stirring to coat the beans. Saute for 1-2 minutes then add the broccoli and salt.

Cook, stirring often, until broccoli turns bright green and becomes just tender crisp, about 6 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water at a time to the pan if it becomes dry before broccoli is done. [Note: The steam created also assists the cooking process]

Remove from heat and stir in scallions. Add the lemon juice, stirring to combine and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Chef C’s Cooking tips:

  • Take color green to the extreme by combining leftovers with baby spinach or arugula and diced avocado for a fantastic lunchtime salad.
  • Substitute kale for broccoli
  • If you prefer fresh herbs, substitute 1 Tablespoon fresh for the dried and add when you add the scallions. Basil, parsley, thyme, a bit of oregano would all work.

Avocado Toast with Egg

A favorite breakfast or snack of mine is avocado on whole grain toast. Much of the time it gets topped with scrambled egg to which I’ve added shredded cabbage, scallion and a drizzle of sriracha. But diced pepper, zucchini, kale, almost any veggie and/or fresh herb works. Best thing is it takes less than 5 minutes to make. This picture is one of my uber fast home versions with egg and baby spinach. 

And… life happens. When I find myself in a bigger than ever, gotta get out the door NOW kind of hurry I just make the toast and schmear on the avocado, wrap that up, grab a handful of baby spinach or arugula, my portable sea salt and black pepper container thingie and a hard boiled egg. Later on the greens go down and the egg is sliced on top.

Either way it’s made avocado toast with egg is a delicious, sustaining, and nutritious treat!

Curried Tofu Scramble

Budget friendly and protein packed, tofu is another one of those template foods; a blank slate just waiting for your flavor instructions. This vegetarian dish uses curry to provide an anti-inflammatory hit in addition to deep, rich taste. Better yet, any variety of veggies can be used. The result? A super quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner that satisfies, energizes, and holds well.

Curried Tofu Scramble

Serves 4

12 ounces firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled

1 ½ Tbs. mild curry powder

1 medium red potato, diced small

1 cup broccoli florets, cut small

¼ cup water or vegetable stock

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Black pepper to taste

1 Tbs. tamari soy sauce, more to taste

1 medium carrot, shredded

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Crumble the tofu into a bowl and sprinkle with the curry. Stir gently to combine.

Bring a small pot with steamer insert to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes until just tender. Add broccoli florets to the pot and continue to cook until tender crisp, another 3 minutes. Remove the steamer from pot and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil shimmers add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onion until soft and slightly golden, 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so.

Add the tofu and steamed vegetables to the onions. Season with tamari to taste and some black pepper. Mix gently but well, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring as necessary, so tofu can absorb flavors. Remove from heat and gently mix in shredded carrot and scallions.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Chef C’s Cooking Tips:

  • This is a dish with endless possibilities!
    • red peppers, celery, zucchini, green beans, or shredded cabbage could get added to the sauté step with the onions
    • nutrition effects can be bumped up even further by adding some fresh minced ginger and or jalapeno in with the garlic
    • swap diced sweet potatoes and cauliflower for the red potato and broccoli
    • chard, baby spinach, or chopped kale could easily go in at the end


February – Heart-y Beet and Barley Salad

It’s February….the month of the heart! When I think about words used to describe the heart, things like hardworking, vulnerable, steady, and loving are a few that come to mind. When I think of caregivers many of those same words apply. I came up with this dish in recognition of the vibrant pulse that beats within each of us. Fresh ingredients in this salad join forces to give maximum flavor plus provide abundant amounts of cholesterol lowering fiber, heart healthy fats, anti-oxidant phyto-nutrients, and cardio-protective vitamins and minerals. Enjoy!

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