The summer’s bounty is in full effect and I’m greeting it with a new perspective! The blogworld has been a challenging playground for me since I first wandered in as a newbie circa, um, 2003-ish? Heck, I don’t really recall, but it’s at least getting close to a decade. Lots of other bloggers have been ultra productive during that time and I have aspirations of creating a more permanent and personlized niche for myself than what I can get through the free blogs. Though they’ve been really quite good to me, I feel a growing need to have more control. (What? Who? ME?!?) Plans are in the offing, including a domain my sweet hubby was kind enough to procure for me. Until then, I figured, why not post a couple more articles here? I can always grandfather them over to my new site. Someday.

About that perspective shift I alluded to… I’ve successfully reduced my dairy and meat intake over the past two-and-a-half months, which has resulted in a 14-pound (6.35-kilogram) weight reduction. Yay me!! I’m not eating cheese, cow milk, sour cream, yogurt or butter for the most part (exceptions being if it’s baked into bread or crackers, though I’m exercising caution there, too). Gone, too, is chicken and red meat. I’ve had a little pork, in the form of bacon, to the tune of about 1-2 servings per week, but that is slowly going away, too. I have decided to continue eating fish. For me, that mostly means some tilapia I cook at home with lime juice, coconut water and seasonings. (I don’t really like fish that much, so it seemed safe enough to keep it at 2-3 servings per week.) Eggs are on the menu, too, but in a reduced capacity and only of a good quality. A lot of vegan recipes call to me and I’ve learned a lot more than I could cram into one little post. Suffice it to say that it seems to be sticking – I actually saw an uber-cheesy dish on Pinterest the other day and had to stifle a gag! Once upon a time, I would have been drooling… The concept at the core of my changes has been to increase the quantity of veggies, legumes and grains I consume, focusing on those which have anti-inflammatory properties.

 So I saw this post over at Healthful Pursuit (http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2012/07/madly-organic/)* the other day and fell in love with the photos of the vegan chili. I thought, hey, I could do a vegan minestrone! To make it a little more descriptive, I’m going with quinoa minestrone. And, let’s face it, a lot of people still freak out a little when you use the word “vegan”. Because it’s so, like, scary. Or something.

Quinoa Minestrone

1/2 c. quinoa of your preference, rinsed if not already
1 c. diced tomatoes (I cheated and used canned, diced, herbed tomatoes.)
1 c. cooked garbanzo beans
1 stalk celery, diced large
Half a sweet onion, diced medium
1 ear’s worth of corn kernels, sliced from the cob
Generous helping of parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. Nutritional Yeast
Salt/Pepper/Cayenne and other seasonings to taste
water to cover (about 2-3 cups)

This was an exercise in restraint for me – I tend to make gargantuan quantities of soup / stew / stewp but RARELY see them finished. As I was examining the concept of creating a “soup”, it dawned on me that I really didn’t need to put a lot of ingredients in since soup is often largely broth! (Huge, world-changing epiphany, I know.)

Basically, pitch the tomatoes, beans, celery and onions into a pot with enough water to cover a couple inches. Get it to a low boil then dump the quinoa in. Make sure you stir it regularly for the first 5 minutes after adding the quinoa. Add some seasoning and let it simmer for a while. I wanted the corn to remain crisp so I put it in once the quinoa was mostly done. I tasted this a lot more frequently than I normally do, which allowed me to adjust the seasonings the way I wanted to. After the corn had had a few minutes to simmer, I turned off the heat and added the parsley. Man! It was WAY stronger than I thought it would be! Glad to report that it mingled and mellowed overnight so it wasn’t so in-your-face when I had some for lunch the following day. The nutritional yeast I added as an afterthought, because the soup didn’t seem quite “complete”. A very little goes a long way, so start off on the modest side and add more only if you’re up for it.

Sorry there are no photos (yet) – I’m having difficulty getting my iPhone to communicate with any other device in the absence of wi-fi… How dependent we’ve become, eh?

What healthful changes have you been making lately? How did you go about choosing to make those particular changes?

*Excuse the crappy linking – my browser is apparently no longer supported by wordpress. Will address that soon. 😉

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