1/30/17

Real Simple Meatless Monday: Green Curry Butternut Squash Soup With Tofu Croutons

If you have half an hour, you can have a vegan Meatless Monday lunch or dinner: Green Curry Butternut Squash Soup With Tofu Croutons.


I think we are all turning to comfort food these days to temporarily get away from the reality and to sooth ourselves. Comfort food doesn't have to be bad for you: you can have a steaming bowl of vegan soup that tastes smooth, creamy, rich and decadent without piling on pounds.

Over the weekend I finally made Real Simple's Red Curry Squash Soup With Tofu Croutons that I've been meaning to make for weeks.

The soup starts with butternut squash, which I already had on hand. I also happened to have firm tofu and limes. Quick trip to the store to pick up red curry paste turned out slightly problematic: my store did not have red curry paste. They only had green curry. Fine, I thought. Luckily, the taste of the soup was still great, and the color did not turn green ;)


Butternut squash chunks get cooked in vegetable stock and curry paste until tender, then get pureed with coconut milk.

There are two toppings for this soup: one is fresh raw bok choy mixed with fresh lime juice and sliced chile. The other is tofu croutons. If you are making the soup to have as leftovers, only make the amount of toppings you'll be able to eat immediately.


I had a tiny bit of coconut milk left in the measuring cup, so decided to drizzle it on top of the soup, which you can see in the first photo.


Because of the complexity of flavors in the curry paste, you really don't need any other spices.  A bit of salt and the acid from the lime juice bring out the natural sweetness of the butternut squash, and the added heat from the chile lingers a while.

I was really happy with this recipe, and actually had leftovers (just the soup part) for breakfast today.

1/27/17

New Orleans Picture Travel Guide: Where To Eat & What To Do

Last week I whisked myself to New Orleans for a mini vacation. I wanted to get out of DC: the tickets to New Orleans were dirt cheap and I found a great deal on a hotel through Priceline! All I had to do was pack my bag and decide how entertain myself. I knew that would not be an issue in the city full of great food, nice people and fun things to do.

Below are instagram photos of some of my favorite bites of food and a few nonfood related activities. By the way, shockingly I managed not to gain any weight while in New Orleans...must have been all the walking around.

Willa Jean: open space, high ceilings, waiters in checkered shirts and jeans, and AMAZING food! I came first for brunch and sat at the bar sipping on a Bloody Mary and digging into shrimp and grits. I enjoyed this restaurant so much, I came back for my last lunch in New Orleans and ordered a fried chicken sandwich. Divine!



I had by far the best chocolate almond croissant at La Boulangerie: warm, soft on the inside with a hard sugary exterior, and plenty of almonds! They also had satsuma juice instead of orange juice: a great splurge! Start your day with this breakfast and then walk off the calories by doing some shopping on Magazine Street.



Shaya: make sure to make reservations and come with a group of people so that you can share plates of hummus (the one topped with lamb and fried chickpeas was great), freshly made hot pita, and lamb. Leave space for dessert!



The minute I bit into the hot fried dough, I was transported back to my first time in New Orleans. I did not care I had to stand in line, Cafe Du Monde is a must. Make sure to bring cash: they are old school and don't take credit cards. Also, don't wear black clothes because without a doubt you'll be covered in powdered sugar.



I told you there was a lot of great food! Make sure to check out my instagram account and #NewOrleansJan2017 for more of the things I ate!

For something different, I took a ferry to Algiers Island {Thanks Naomi for the recommendation!}. It was a quick ride and only $2 each way: bring exact change!



The Island is pretty sleepy, but I did enjoy walking around and taking photographs of all the colorful houses!


After booking my trip, I contacted New Orleans CVB and they graciously sent me a VIP pass that I used to get tickets to a few attractions.

First up, The National WWII Museum. My favorite part of the museum was The Victory Garden. Of course I had to take a photo under the tomato poster. For those who are into history, you can spend hours in the museum and even experience a submarine simulation!



Even though I wasn't in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, it was fun visiting the Mardi Gras World and seeing where the props for the floats are made! 



My favorite museum by far was Ogden Museum of Southern Art. If you happen to be in New Orleans on a Thursday, as I was, make sure to check out this museum for the after hours program: this time there was live music and a lovely stranger bought me a glass of wine! The fact that their stickers are my first initial was a bonus.



I also checked out the Audubon Aquarium and was quite mesmerized.  

A video posted by Olga Berman (@mangotomato) on

If you don't want to pay for a museum, just walk around! Take a street car to The Garden District and check out old gorgeous houses. You'll definitely spot a few or more beads hanging on the gates.



I'll end this post on a sweet note: this is a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt I brought back from Willa Jean. It helped me ease back into the work week.



Have a great weekend! 

1/22/17

Meatless Monday: Vegan Beets, Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts Lunch

While I've been eating everything in sight in New Orleans these past four days, I know that once I'm back to DC, my diet and exercise routine will come back to a more balanced picture. 

In fact, before I whisked myself to the city of beignets, Bourbon Street, and really friendly people, I made it a point to eat better and exercise daily (well...other than the day I went shopping and spent over an hour trying on clothes. But that's basically cardio, right?).

Below is a vegan lunch I made before my vacation that required very little preparation or cooking time. It's also a great way to clean out your fridge before vacation. 

Vegan Beets, Sweet Potatoes And Brussels Sprouts

Here's what you do: 

1. Cube beets, dice sweet potatoes, halve Brussel sprouts.
2. In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add beets and saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add sweet potatoes and saute for additional 5 minutes.
4. Add Brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender.
5. Serve the vegetables topped with olives, smoked almonds and sliced avocado.

This is a great filling lunch!



1/20/17

Breath In. Breath Out.

For all of my friends marching on Saturday, be safe! This is a video I took at the aquarium in New Orleans. Let's all remember the beauty that surrounds us.

A video posted by Olga Berman (@mangotomato) on

1/13/17

Weekend Inspiration: Tulips

#frommetome
#treatyourself
#flowerpower

If you follow me on instagram, you know these are the hashtags I believe in. I highly recommend you do the same! Go and get yourself some fresh flowers: surround yourself with beautiful things. 

A side benefit of buying flowers: this will encourage you to clean your living space. Trust me!

Have a beautiful weekend.



1/11/17

Simplest Frozen Treat: Frozen Mexican Chocolate Vanilla Yogurt


Last month I received samples of the latest flavors from Noosa Yoghurt. Mexican Chocolate. Vanilla. Pumpkin. I immediately brought pumpkin containers to work because I only like anything pumpkin related in a savory application. I then tried and fell in love with the slightly spicy Mexican Chocolate flavor and  vanilla bean speckled Vanilla flavor. I decided not to be greedy and shared a few of those flavors with my friend Anna and her family.

Let's be honest: this is not your I'm being healthy so I'm eating yogurt type of yoghurts. I treat these decadent Noosa creations as dessert. Because of this, I wasn't able to eat all of the mini containers before their expiration date. That's when I decided to turn the last three containers into frozen yogurt! This was the first time in two years that I used my ice cream machine!




I simply took two Vanilla containers and combined them with one Mexican Chocolate container in my ice cream maker. I then put the mixture into the freezer. It froze. Hard! I had to scrape the yogurt into my ice cream scoop, so the texture wasn't perfect, but the taste was incredibly rich. 

I think next time I'll simply make soft served frozen yogurt...is there such a thing?




Disclosure: Noosa sent me samples of their product but I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

1/9/17

Meatless Monday: Quinoa & Chickpea Bowl With Kimchi


This Quinoa & Chickpea Bowl With Kimchi is a super quick, delicious and versatile Meatless Monday recipe you can make for lunch or dinner and have leftovers for the next few days.

This is not really a recipe. It's more of an idea or a guide.

1) Start with quinoa: I sauteed mine in a bit of olive oil before topping it with boiled water and cooking till tender. It takes about 20 minutes. Use red or white quinoa, or mix it up.

2) I topped the cooked quinoa with chickpeas I made in my pressure cooker. You can use canned ones.

3) For the dressing, I mixed mustard with lemon juice, olive oil, a finely minced garlic clove, splash of red wine vinegar and salt & pepper. I used a larger amount of lemon juice and vinegar than olive oil for a more acidic taste.

4) Pour the dressing over the warm quinoa and chickpeas mixture so that it gets absorbed faster!

5) Now for the fun toppings: think texture, color, and flavor. I chose dill, red onions, kimchi and Marcona almonds.

I recommend you keep all of the components separately and put together your bowls right before eating. This way, the almonds will stay crunchy, and the aroma of kimchi will not be super overwhelming ;)

1/6/17

Weekend: Pick a fruit, any fruit.

Whether you are planning on being productive this weekend or indulging in total relaxation, enjoy it!

Don't forget to eat your fruit and vegetables!