From Mommy’s Vegan Kitchen has been trending in my kitchen.  Vegan soup, of course.  I have gotten smarter about making most of my soups a day or two before I really want them to be perfect.  This past Tuesday I made a pot of yellow split pea soup to go with tonight’s vegan feast.  I no longer follow recipes, instead I look over a couple of them and decide which parts I have in the house or like and mix and match.  What I have come to realize is that if you saute some chopped onions, carrots and celery, you have the base for most simple soups.  This week I had a lot of those leftover from Thanksgiving so instead of measuring, I chopped up what I had, which probably amounted to about 1-2 cups of each.  I diced up a couple of pieces of garlic and added one small potato chopped (not at all necessary) and and sauteed all of them in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a big soup pot.  After the onions started to get soft I added 2 cups of uncooked yellow split peas, about 4 cups of water and 4 cups of vegetable broth.  You can definitely cut calories and sodium by using just water and NO broth.  I threw a bay leaf in and once it came to a boil, I lowered the heat and let it simmer about 40 minutes (or until everything gets soft).  After removing the bay leaf I blended up the soup to a creamy consistency (this took 3 batches in my regular blender).  The carrots really give it a nice color.  Once I returned it all to the pot, I added some ground black pepper and a bit of cumin.  You can really use any spices YOU like.  From start to finish, it takes about an hour but most of that time the pot is just sitting on the stove simmering.  I watched an episode (or 2) of the Twilight Zone while I made this, so it was all good.  Tonight, when the posse comes for dinner, soup will be a perfect start to our meal on what will be an unseasonably cool South Florida evening.

Something else that has been trending in my kitchen has a back story and I will tell it first.  Erica and Jeff were over one day and they were telling us about a restaurant they ate at in Wilton Manors, that serves their beef burgers with peanut butter.  I know, sounds so weird, right?  In fact, when they questioned the waiter he said “no one has EVER sent one back after ordering.”   So they decided to give it a try and raved about how good it was.  Well, I decided that since I can use a little more protein in my diet and veggie burgers are a staple for me, I would try spreading some peanut butter on my whole grain toast before setting the burger down on it.  No need for any condiment.  Protein is best eaten with a healthy fat, anyway, so it seemed to make some nutritional sense, though I couldn’t really imagine how it would taste.  Suffice to say…I AM ADDICTED!  No kidding.  And to make things even weirder, I have been eating them for breakfast!!!  At about 300 calories I get close to 20 grams of protein,  a good shot of fiber and I savor every bite.     Try it…trust me!

On this, World Aids Day, let us remember those we lost to this horrible disease as well and keep good thoughts for all those living with HIV and AIDS.  Right here in my home county, there are about 17,000 people living with the virus.  Though much progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.

Stay tuned to more about soup and kitchens…an important topic, but for another day.  Be careful,  be kind and make compassionate choices.  It feels so much better than the alternatives!  Much love.