One of my biggest concerns about starting a family was the fact that I’d be responsible for shaping another person’s ideas about food along with their eating habits. Of course there were other worries, but this thing about food was stuck in the back of my mind because it’s something that I’ve personally struggled with throughout my life. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when very few people thought twice about processed food and healthy meant “fat-free” and “low-fat”. Despite all of the Diet Coke and sugar-free yogurt in my life I was still overweight and on a diet by age 12. Looking back, I shutter to think about all of the chemicals I’ve consumed in my quest to get healthy.
My food journey started long ago with the influence of my family and it continues to evolve today as I try to educate myself. After my daughter was born I really started to question everything I was consuming. It was around that time that I discovered the 100 Days of Real Food site. I was intrigued by Lisa’s story of how she and her family of four took a 100 day pledge to eat absolutely no highly processed or refined foods for 100 solid days. That means no white flour or sugar! For a girl with a passion for baking that sounded like a serious challenge. The rules did allow for wine and beer in moderation though so I figured I could survive for 100 days and I took the plunge. If I’m being honest, I didn’t completely follow the guidelines for a full 100 days, but I was strict about it for 2 months or so. The experience opened my eyes a little wider and I learned quite a few things that have stuck with me over the past few years.
I’m now religious about reading labels in the grocery store. Where I used to pay attention to calories and fat on food labels, my primary focus is now on the ingredients list. More times than not I end up having to put food back on the shelves after browsing the label and finding unpronounceable ingredients, unnecessary sugar, or processed food-like substances on the list. Another change I made was making more of my own food at home. This part wasn’t much of a sacrifice for me because I have always enjoyed cooking. Some of my favorite homemade versions of foods to make are almond milk, peanut butter, granola, taco seasoning, and this awesome recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans. I love that I have control over the ingredients when I cook at home, and it almost always tastes better too!
Because Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food had been such an inspiration to me, you can imagine my excitement when she announced that she was working on writing a cookbook. She was kind enough to send me a copy of the book ahead of its release to read and share my thoughts with you guys. The book is beautiful! I love that in addition to all the wonderful whole food recipes it also includes tips about making the change to a real food diet, meal planning, and budget-friendly grocery shopping. My party-loving heart adores the section about entertaining and ideas for “make your own” food bars (pizza, crepes, etc.) that your guests will love. This book will be an awesome reference for me and I’m so happy to have it as part of my cookbook collection now.
Veggie Corn Chowder is one of the first recipes I’ve made from the book and I’m sharing it with you two different ways. I have been trying out a vegan diet recently, so I made some substitutions to the original recipe to eliminate meat and dairy. I’m also including the recipe as written in the book for those of you without my dietary restrictions. The soup was simple to put together and it’s delicious!
Vegan Veggie Corn Chowder
Yield: 6 servings
3 Tablespoons flax oil
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
3 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 teaspoon sea salt
cayenne pepper to taste
2 cups organic vegetable broth
2 cups light coconut milk (only ingredients should be coconut milk and water)
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir until the mixture darkens in color (about 4-5 minutes).
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until the veggies start to soften (about 5 minutes).
- Add the corn, salt, and cayenne pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the vegetable broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes or until you notice that it has thickened a bit.
- Use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup. You want to have some diced veggies and corn still intact, so don’t go overboard with the blender. Alternatively, you can transfer half of the soup to your blender to puree and then add it back into the pot.
- Garnish with chives if desired and serve immediately.
adapted from the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook