Lemon-spiked yogurt floats on a leafy green so you can scoop a little tangy goodness with each spoonful of creamy avocado-leek soup.

This is my first Recipe Redux challenge and for those of you not familiar with this, it is a once-a-month themed cooking challenge in which you redo a recipe to make it healthier (and hopefully tastier!) This month’s theme is “The First Shoots of Spring.”  I was pretty excited to try and come up with something that would be worthy of the challenge, but it was a lot harder that I expected because 1) I’ve lived my entire life in a tropical climate and didn’t know what ‘spring’ foods were, and 2) the local markets didn’t carry pea shoots, garlic scrapes (?) or ramps (??). Although my findings were limited, there were lots of leeks in the markets, so I decided to brighten up a traditional vichyssoise with easy to find ingredients, and which can be made in less than 20 minutes…how’s THAT for a redux? :)

Vichyssoise is made up of potato, leek, heavy cream, and chicken stock. My stomach is sensitive to dairy so I eliminated the heavy cream, increased the potato, and added a ripe avocado, celery, some water, and fresh lemon zest. The taste remained rich and savory, and to add a new dimension, I topped it off with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (easy on my stomach) with a touch of fresh lemon juice.

Avocados are a great source of fiber and vitamins, including vitamin K (aids in blood clotting,) vitamin E (antioxidant, helps body assimilate vitamin K,) folate (aids in tissue development,) and potassium (helps metabolize carbs and ensures proper function of cells, tissues and organs.) Yogurt contains live bacteria cultures to aid digestion, and the fresh squeeze of lemon juice also helps digestion while providing a bit of vitamin C.

This healthy soup uses fresh ingredients and can be enjoyed warm or cold any time of day. Happy eating!

Potato Leek Avocado Soup
 serves 2
This soup can easily be veganized with vegetable broth and soy yogurt.

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup diced potato
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup diced celery
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
lettuce leaves, minced red onion for garnish (optional)

To clean leeks: cut off dark green portion. Slice leek lengthwise from green part to bulb, but not cutting through bulb. Fan out leaves and rinse well under running water. Slice thinly.

Cook potato and garlic in oil on medium heat about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery, leek and 1 cup of chicken broth, simmer low for 5 minutes.

Transfer half of mixture to blender and puree.

Transfer half of mixture to a blender with 1 cup of chicken broth and avocado and puree about 30 seconds or until smooth. Return puree to pan and add remaining 1 cup broth and 1 cup of water. Heat until simmering, about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat, stir in lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide soup between two bowls. Place 1 lettuce leaf (at least 3″ long, 2″ wide) in center of bowl.  Top with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and sprinkle minced red onion for garnish. Can be served warm or cold.

Lemon-spiked yogurt floats on a leafy green so you can scoop a little tangy goodness with each spoonful of creamy avocado-leek soup.

Need a little extra? Try these little appetizers made of sliced cucumber, fresh Parmesan and  raw beets topped with thin slices of leeks. Lots of fresh flavors, sweet and salty combined with crunchy and creamy…this little appetizer has it all!

Easy peasy leeky appetizers!

Two comfort foods in one: grilled cheese and mashed (cauliflower and) potatoes

This afternoon my husband seemed to have a minor case of the blues. My way of cheering him up is usually with a nice shoulder rub (not like rubbing a pork shoulder with spices, but actually massaging his shoulders!) or with some kind of comfort food. The fridge was mostly filled with veggies, but we still had some turkey, cheese, and even some purple cauliflower I was going to use for some cauliflower-potato mash. So, sandwich night, it is!

My grilled cheese sandwiches usually have the same thing: cheese, turkey, mushrooms, and slices of fresh apple. Today I added some bacon (another meat source in the fridge!) and piled it with some cauliflower-potato mash topped with more cheese. It’s an easy-prep meal that is filling, comforting, and still has a serving of healthy greens. The apple slices cut through the salty savory flavors of the turkey and bacon. The mushrooms and cheese add more flavor and melty goodness, and the cauliflower mash is light but still creamy enough to give this open-faced sandwich a special “comfort food” quality that’s perfect for a last-minute midweek dinner. Enjoy!

 
Open-Faced Grilled Cheese Sammies for Two
These sandwiches will fill you up, but the cauliflower mash won’t fill you out!

2 slices bacon, excess fat trimmed and cut in half crosswise
4-6 white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
8 slices deli turkey
unsalted butter
4 slices bread
cheese (such as Gouda, Jarlsgerg or Chevre) enough for each piece of bread plus extra for topping
1 apple, quartered, then sliced into 5-6 thin pieces
2 cups cauliflower mashed potatoes (1 cup cooked potato and 3 cups cooked cauliflower mashed with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt, and 1 tablespoon tahini (optional))
mixed salad greens

directions:
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add bacon and cook for 2 minutes, moving around the pan to distribute the fat. Flip over bacon, move to the side. Add sliced mushrooms, sautee for 2 minutes.

Put 2 slices of turkey together and add to pan, do the same with remaining slices, pushing mushrooms around to make room. Heat for 1 minute. Flip over turkey slices, pile on 1/4 of mushrooms and 1 slice of bacon on each 2 pieces of  turkey, heat for 1 minute more. Carefully transfer turkey slices with mushrooms and bacon onto plate, set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add 4 slices of bread, top with cheese slices. After about a minute, add turkey slices with mushrooms and bacon to each slice of bread. Heat for 1-2 minutes more or until the underside of bread is browned. Transfer to a plate, set aside.

In the same frying pan, melt 1 teaspoon of butter. Spoon 1/2 cup of cauliflower mash or mashed potatoes into pan, forming a mound (this will not hold together, but don’t worry.) Heat 1 1/2 minutes, carefully flip over, don’t worry if it spreads out a little. Top with a thin slice of cheese (or dab some goat cheese like I did for mine) and heat for another minute. Add one scoop of cauliflower mash to each bread slice topped with turkey & toppings. Serve on a bed of salad greens.