Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Clean Food

I took Sienna to Barnes & Noble over the weekend. I had been looking for Christmas gifts, though for no one in particular. I was thinking that while walking around with a pumpkin spice soy latte something might jump out at me that would be the perfect gift for that special someone. Guess what? That "special someone" ended up being me!

Whenever we hit a bookstore, I always check the cooking section for new vegan cookbooks. Saturday was a good day because prominently displayed on the “Featured Cookbooks” table was Clean Food by Terry Walters. I picked it up and began thumbing through it. Walters is well-known in the clean eating lifestyle movement, having published the highly acclaimed book Clean Start. She’s dedicated to helping people make "sustainable health" easy and delicious, without the preaching and judgment that often comes with it.

Her collection of recipes is broken down by season, which I found appealing. I immediately flipped to “winter” and loved her selections, from soups and stews like Spicy Coconut Pumpkin, Lentil and Three Bean Chili, to grains and pasta such as Whole Wheat Pancakes and Baked Stuffed Shells. There are also wonderfully healthful recipes using tofu, tempeh, seitan, vegetables and legumes. Did I mention the desserts? How about Tiramisu, Chocolate Pecan Pie and Chestnut Cream Pie (to name a few) … all whole-food, plant-based! I’m always more and more amazed by how easy it is to eat like this.

I knew immediately what would grace my table first … Tuscan Bean Soup. I loved her choice of spices and the addition of kale and kombu. Kombu is a sea vegetable that you can purchase at a health food store or online (as I did). “Adding a small piece to grains, soups, legumes, etc. is an easy way to infuse foods with highly alkalinizing minerals iodine and iron. It’s also known for its ability to tenderize legumes and reduce their gaseous properties,” writes Walters.

This soup came together in a snap and bursts with flavor -- a scrumptious fall and winter dish and right in line with our Whole-Food Wednesdays Challenge. If you’re looking for the perfect dinner tonight, you can't go wrong with this. For a heartier meal, serve it over quinoa, brown rice or 100 percent whole wheat pasta.

As a reminder, the goal of Whole-Food Wednesdays is to reduce our meat intake but also increase our consumption of plant-empowered foods.

Each of you who shares a whole-food, plant-based recipe, success story, or fitness and nutrition win or technique will be automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win your own copy of one of my most treasured cookbooks! You can comment directly on this site or e-mail me at

The raffle goes off in just one week -- 5 p.m. ET next Wednesday, Dec. 26. Good luck!

Tuscan Bean Soup
1 thumb size piece of kombu
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried rosemary
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 ½ cups cooked small white beans
1 ½ cups cooked aduki beans (or pinto beans)
4 cups of diced tomatoes, fresh or canned (with juice)
1 bunch kale, chopped into bite size pieces
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste, optional

Place kombu in a bowl with enough water to cover and soak for 10 minutes. Drain, mince and set aside.

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, sauté garlic and onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft.

Add basil, oregano, and rosemary. Stir well.

Add all the cooked beans, tomatoes, kale, kombu, and water (or stock).

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.

Add vinegar and wine, and salt & pepper (if using).

Cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Serve hot.


  1. A trick I learned from a friend recently is to add a few large pieces of Kombu with several dried shitake to a vegetable stock that you can use in any dish to give it an "ocean" or "seafood" flavor. :)

  2. Anytime I learn something new, I can't wait to try it. And I am definitely trying this. XO

    Do you make your own vegetable stock, buy it or a combo of both?

  3. Also, Eric -- what is your most favorite cookbook?

  4. I never know what kind of wine to use in recipes like this. What did you go with? You're supposed to choose something you'd like to drink, right?

  5. I did go with what I had -- Mirassou Pinot Noir -- because the idea of using something that I'd drink made sense to me (and that's pretty much the only wine I'll drink).

    I asked your question to some friends on Facebook and most suggested dry. Is Pinot dry? I have no idea ... but I like the taste

    I did have recommendations like Marsala for most anything Italian, Spanish or other Mediterranean, and a Petite Sirah, Zin or Cab for a heavier dish. Someone else also recommended Valpolicella.

    Has this helped you or confused you further? : )