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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Recently, I have started a quest to find a healthier diet. I’ve decided to take the popular phrase ‘you are what you eat’ to heart and give my body a dose of food that is truly good for it. If you haven’t noticed, eating sweets and sugary things will make you feel more lethargic. Who wants that? Why not kickstart your health by making a healthy change?

So far, my quest has led me to the organic produce section of the grocery store. I stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies. Now, I want to give you one of my favorite soup recipes, but I’ve changed it a bit to give it more of an all natural quality. Meet chicken soup with lentils and barley. This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sliced leeks or chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped organic red or green sweet pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons light butter
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth (I recommend using organic low sodium free range broth, like the brand Imagine makes.)
  • 1.5 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup dry organic lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (all the herbs can be store bought or picked and dried from your herb garden)
  • 1.5 cups chopped cooked free range organic chicken or turkey
  • 1.5 cups sliced organic carrots
  • .5 cup quick cooking barley
  • 1 14.5 ounce can organic tomatoes, cut up

Step one: In a large saucepan, melt butter. Then cook leeks or onions, pepper, and garlic until tender.

Step two: Add broth, water, lentils, basil, oregano, rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step three: Stir in the chicken pieces, carrots and uncooked barley. Cover and simmer another 20 minutes. Add the undrained tomatoes and heat.

This recipe makes about 8 cups of soup. I know you may be thinking that you can’t afford to buy all those organic ingredients, but you can surely substitute whatever you need to fit your lifestyle. This soup is still very healthy even if it isn’t completely organic. However, it’s nice to try to throw at least some organic ingredients into your soup pot. The environment and your body will thank you later. Here’s to healthy eating!

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Mine is the anti-tomato version. It's still delicious! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Mine is the anti-tomato version. It's still delicious! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As some of you may know, family gatherings are a great opportunity to bring different kinds of foods for everyone to enjoy. Well, as luck would have it, I recently had one of those kinds of family gatherings, at which I tasted the best pasta salad I’ve ever had.

I would like to introduce you to Mediterranean Pasta Salad, courtesy of Norma. In a span of about two hours, the huge bowl she had made completely disappeared, and the reserve stock in the fridge was eaten later that night!

The greatest thing about this dish is its versatility. As Norma herself said it, she never follows a recipe and she always puts her spin on it. That, my food loving friends, is highly recommended with this pasta salad. You can throw in new veggies, take out what you don’t want, or even include some other form of dressing other than the oil and vinegar suggested.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package of spiral or curly noodles, cooked and drained
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, diced into 1/2 or 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium sized cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp finely sliced red onions, optional
  • 2 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently until well mixed.

Step 2: Refrigerate several hours before serving. That’s it!

If I were you, I’d double the recipe. It makes a smaller amount, so if you like to keep eating leftover pasta salad all week like me, doubling is the way to go. This stuff goes great with a sandwich and transports easily for lunches on the go!

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