“Busy Day” Asian Veggie Noodle Soup (Gluten & Grain-Free Options)

Busy Day Asian Veggie Noodle Soup - AnAppetiteForJoy.com

By Natalia Gill from An Appetite For Joy

This asian-inspired broth is rich, savory, and loaded with perfectly cooked veggies and gluten-free rice noodles (or grain-free kelp noodles). The best part? It comes together in a flash! And it’s high on nutrition, particularly if you have homemade broth on hand.

I typically use chicken broth I have in the freezer, made in one of two ways – either a budget-friendly bone broth or a time-saving gelatin rich drumstick broth.

I’ve always looked for ways to spend less time cooking without sacrificing nutrition. But now, simple cooking is a must since earlier in the summer, we got a big surprise that our family is expanding! I’m on a mission to get my meal rotation pared down to simple meals, many of them using the slow-cooker or prepped ahead in the freezer (Check out Kimi’s great list of gluten-free freezer meals!)

My favorite simple meal is chicken soup and all the quick variations that can be made with it – from enchilada to Thai red curry to this Asian veggie noodle. I notice that my kids eat this variation with more gusto than plain chicken noodle, so I make it often.

I omitted the chicken this time for a lighter, veggie-focused soup. But feel free to add a few boneless, skinless thighs in at the beginning of cooking. When they are done, take them out, shred them and add back into the soup.

ADDITIONAL SIMPLE MEALS ON MY ROTATION:

Busy Day Asian Veggie Noodle Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Asian-Inspired
Serves: Serves 6-8
 
This Asian inspired veggie noodle soup is so comforting and full of flavor, but requires very little time and effort! See the recipe notes for additional shortcuts or ways to further enhance it.
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces thin rice or 24 ounces kelp noodles (kelp noodles are hydrated in the package and weigh more), freshly prepared according to package instructions and set aside in individual serving bowls
  • 8 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cups snow peas (ends removed, halved)
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce (less if full sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring the broth to a simmer and add the diced carrots. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the snow peas and tamari. Simmer another 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the broccoli florets and scallions. Simmer until the broccoli and carrots are fork tender but still have life in them.
  4. Stir in the sesame oil and, if using, fish sauce. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. (Add salt and pepper if needed.)
  5. Add the soup to the individual bowls you have set aside with the noodles. Enjoy!
Notes
When you have less time: Swap out the snow peas for frozen peas and put them in with the broccoli (step 3). Buy pre-chopped broccoli florets (Trader Joe's sells a bag of organic ones).

When you have more time: Add 2 cloves of crushed or minced garlic, a small knob of fresh peeled ginger (removed at the end), and/or 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro to the soup with the carrots (step 1).

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Greek Sweet Potato Hash – $15 Meal from Trader Joe’s

$15 Trader Joe's Meal - Sweet Potato Hash -- The Nourishing Gourmet

By Natalia Gill of An Appetite For Joy

What could be better than diced sweet potatoes fried up with garlic and green onions, then topped with wild peppery arugula, salty feta and a sprinkle of sumac? Not much in this world if you ask me.

This Greek sweet potato hash is also versatile – delicious on its own or stuffed into a pita pocket or lettuce wrap!

One thing I love about the direction Kimberly takes with this blog is learning to save money while eating right. She came up with the idea of buying meal ingredients at Trader Joe’s with $15 in pocket and I thought it was a fun challenge!

I didn’t include cooking fat and spices in the cost. To more than offset this, know that there will be plenty of leftover sweet potatoes, arugula and sheep feta. My son loves packing the feta with olives in his lunch. And the extra sweet potatoes come in handy for our favorite dessert – Sweet Potato Pie with Lemon Zest.

3 FAVORITE TJ’S FINDS

When creating the recipe, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite items at Trader Joe’s:

Sweet potatoes – I find TJ’s to have good prices on basic organic sweet potatoes.

Wild arugula – This was a new one for me. I like that there are a couple of wild-grown foods in the store as a cost-saving option compared to organic (wild blueberries and now wild arugula). This bagged arugula was amazingly fresh and the best arugula I have ever purchased from a grocery store. It was almost as tasty as the one I buy from a local farmer.

Sheep feta – I love this stuff. It comes in a sizable block that is pre-cut into manageable pieces. This cheese is much creamer than cow-milk feta and easier on digestion, like goat’s milk. It lasts all week for us!

COST BREAKDOWN

3 lb bag of sweet potatoes – $4.49
wild arugula – $2
green onions – $1.29
sheep feta – $6.49
lemon – 50 cents

TOTAL – $14.77

This meal comes together in a flash, especially if you can grab a few minutes earlier in the day to prepare the sweet potatoes (I like breaking up cooking tasks). I just cut them into french fry shape (a good knife makes this easy!) and soak in ice water in the fridge til I’m ready to cook.

$15 Trader Joe's Meal - Sweet Potato Hash -- The Nourishing Gourmet

NEED MORE EASY, FRUGAL MEAL IDEAS?

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14 Easy Dinner Recipes that are Healthy and Frugal too!

Greek Sweet Potato Hash - $15 Meal from Trader Joe's
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Greek-inspired
Serves: 4-6
 
This Greek-inspired sweet potato hash makes a great light meal for spring or summer. Enjoy it on its own or stuffed into a homemade pita, tortilla or lettuce wrap. A cup of bone broth on the side completes the meal.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and diced small
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried oregano, to taste
  • unrefined salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat (ghee, bacon fat, coconut oil, etc.)
  • OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:
  • chunks of sheep feta
  • arugula
  • sumac
Instructions
  1. This is a one-pot meal if you halve the recipe. But with the quantity of sweet potatoes, it's necessary to make it in two skillets.
  2. Heat two skillets over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon cooking fat to each. When hot, add diced sweet potatoes and cook until they start to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Add a little salt.
  3. Add the scallions and cook another 5 minutes, or until they start to get a little crispy. (Add extra fat if needed.)
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and oregano and cook another 5 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with a lemon wedge, a pile of arugula on top and some feta if desired. I also like to sprinkle on a little sumac.

Apple Pastila (A Honey-Sweetened Confection)

Apple Pastila - The Nourishing Gourmet

By Natalia Gill, from An Appetite For Joy

Imagine the bold, pure taste of apple presented in a wafer-like crisp. Apple pastila, the latest gift idea in this year’s 12 Days of Christmas Series, is a lightly sweet, Russian confection that is easy to make (though it takes a while to dehydrate in the oven). Its unique taste is surprisingly fresh and pleasant (and a little addicting!). It just happens to be grain free and dairy free too.

To make it, you’ll need two cups of your favorite applesauce, homemade or even store bought. Green apples, slightly underripe are best. This easy applesauce recipe yields two cups. This plum applesauce would be delicious as well.

The 200°F oven temp doesn’t officially cook the egg whites. Katie wrote a little about raw egg safety when she shared her delicious chai eggnog. Using good quality pastured eggs and giving them a wash in warm soapy water makes the risk very small, but there is always a risk. If you are uncomfortable with this risk see the notes in the recipe section below for how to make this candy at a higher temperature.

A little history

Apple pastila became popular in Kolomna, Russia (outside of Moscow), during the 18th century as a simple fruit leather to stretch the apple season. It was such a simple recipe that I’m sure it was present in other apple-growing regions as well. Later, egg white was added for a lighter texture. Now, different fruits, spices, and nuts are incorporated to make a variety of flavors. (In more recent years, pastila has been almost entirely eclipsed by a new variety of this style of dessert – the sweeter, marshmallow-like zephyr.)

Traditionally apple pastila is made in layered blocks or bars of varying denseness, but I like this easy 2-bite variation.

How to make apple pastila

Get your apple purée very smooth with a hand mixer or food processor. If it is unsweetened, add honey or sweetener of choice.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites til stiff peaks form.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

Fold the egg whites into the applesauce.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

Drop your apple mixture onto a silicone baking sheet (best option) or parchment paper. Use standard parchment, not a cutesie variety like this one, or it may stick! Learned the hard way.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

Dehydrate in the oven, and you have some light and airy apple goodness, ready to be sprinkled with sugar and wrapped up for loved ones!

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

Looking for more holiday ideas? How about Chai Eggnog, DIY Mint Chocolate Lip Balm, Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts, or Garam Masala Pickled Onions?

APPLE PASTILA (GRAIN & DAIRY FREE)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened apple puree (preferably from green apples – see recipe idea here)
  • 5 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, see notes for alternatives)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Directions:

1) Make sure your apple purée is very smooth. I beat it with a handheld mixer for about 2-3 minutes.

2) Add honey and almond extract (or alternative flavorings in the notes). If your apple purée is cold, you may need to gently heat it to get the honey to incorporate.

3) Fold in the stiff egg whites. Drop by spoonfuls onto a pan lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.

4) Dehydrate for 7-8 hours at 200°F. After turning it off, leave them in the oven overnight to cool. Enjoy as they are, or sprinkle on some powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. (I use unrefined powdered sugar at home and organic white powdered sugar when presenting as gifts.)

Notes:

Higher temp option: If you choose this method, please use a silicone baking sheet and not parchment paper or the pastila will stick. If you want to get your egg whites to a higher temperature, preheat the oven to 350°F. After making your apple mixture (through step 3 above), bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 200°F and continue to let them dry out for 3 hours. Leave in the oven (turned off) several hours (or overnight) to cool.

Flavoring options: In lieu of almond extract, you can use a little vanilla extract, cinnamon, or your own mix of spices and extracts that go well with apple.

 

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Confection
Cuisine: Russian
Serves: 40 pieces
 
2 cups unsweetened apple puree (preferably from green apples - see recipe idea here ) 5 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener, to taste) 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, see notes for alternatives) 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple puree (preferably from green apples - see recipe idea here)
  • 5 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, see notes for alternatives)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
Instructions
  1. Make sure your apple puree is very smooth. I beat it with a handheld mixer for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add honey and almond extract (or alternative flavorings in the notes). If your apple puree is cold, you may need to gently heat it to get the honey to incorporate.
  3. Fold in the stiff egg whites. Drop by spoonfuls onto a pan lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.
  4. Dehydrate for 7-8 hours at 200°F. After turning it off, leave them in the oven overnight to cool. Enjoy as they are or sprinkle on some powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. (I use unrefined powdered sugarat home and organic white powdered sugar when presenting as gifts.)
Notes
Higher temp option: If you choose this option, please use a silicone baking sheet and not parchment paper or the pastila will stick. If you want to get your egg whites to a higher temperature, preheat the oven to 350°F. After making your apple mixture (through step 3 above), bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 200°F and continue to let them dry out for 3 hours. Leave in the oven (turned off) several hours (or overnight) to cool.

Flavoring options: In lieu of almond extract, you can use a little vanilla extract, cinnamon or your own mix of spices and extracts that go well with apple.

Homemade Instant Noodle Bowls

Homemade Instant Noodle Soups (with Paleo Options) - The Nourishing Gourmet

By Natalia Gill, from An Appetite For Joy

Mason jar salads are a healthy and handy lunch idea. But as temperatures drop and we crave more warming foods, how about instant noodle bowls? Simply pack a few jars with savory Asian fixin’s. When you’re ready to eat, add hot broth and you have a satisfying umami-rich soup on the spot.

This quick meal idea was born when my husband and I caught a cold after a fun, rainy wedding weekend in Savannah. We needed something fast but even more so, we needed something restorative. This soup was perfect, two key ingredients being comforting stock and powerful turmeric.

Since then I’ve lined up a few in the fridge for easy lunches on busy weeks.

Incidentally, I like to eat the noodles with a fork or chopsticks while taking sips of broth straight from the jar or bowl. This is how my Japanese colleagues (from my previous life) ate noodle soups when I was in Tokyo. Pictured here are rice noodles, but there are a number of delicious gluten-free pasta options with which you can experiment!

GRAIN-FREE OPTION
Try mung bean threads, found in the Asian section of many grocery stores. They look and taste a lot like thin rice noodles.

PALEO OPTION
Season with coconut aminos instead of tamari, and use kelp noodles. (If you haven’t yet tried kelp noodles, they are silky, soft and neutral in taste!)

Homemade Instant Noodle Bowls - The Nourishing Gourmet

HOMEMADE INSTANT NOODLE BOWL
Serves 1
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 cup cooked noodles (rice, mung bean or kelp)
  • ¼ cup chopped cooked chicken
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons diced green onions
  • hot peppers such as jalapenos or habaneros (sliced thinly, to taste)
  • 1 cup hot broth
  • unrefined salt and pepper (to taste, optional)
Fill a mason jar with all of the ingredients except for the broth, salt and pepper. Store in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, pour in the hot broth. Stir very well. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Homemade Instant Noodle Bowls
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Asian-inspired
Serves: 1 serving
 
If you liked instant noodle bowls as a kid, you will love this easy healthier option. Perfect for quick, make-ahead lunches. Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 cup cooked noodles (rice, mung bean or kelp)
  • ¼ cup chopped chicken
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons diced green onions
  • hot peppers such as jalapenos or habaneros (sliced thinly, to taste)
  • 1 cup hot broth
  • unrefined salt and pepper (to taste, optional)
Instructions
  1. Fill a mason jar with all of the ingredients except for the broth, salt and pepper. Store in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, pour in the hot broth. Stir very well. Adjust seasonings to taste.