Pumpkin, Chard and White Bean Soup

November 8, 2012 - Written by Diana

This soup is easy, semi fast and very seasonal.  I made this on vacation with a microwave, a bowl, and one pot on an electric burner.  The kitchen was a small not even efficiency size kitchen.  One microwave, a dorm fridge, a two burner cooktop and a small sink with a tiny counter made up the kitchen.  I have trouble with how small my small kitchen is and I could live with this little efficiency for the one week we were staying in Duck, North Carolina – but I think one week is the limit.

Pumpkin, Chard and White Bean Soup

While the recipe made four bowls of soup, my husband and I both ate two bowls each for dinner.  It was a vegetarian dish for us, you can add sausage to it, or chicken and it would go well.  Also, you could serve it as a soup course along with a sandwich.  While spelt berries were cooking in broth, the microwave was used to partially cook the pumpkin – after slicing in into pieces and cleaning out the seeds and pulp. Only one soup/stew pot was used along with one glass bowl for microwaving the pumpkin. You can easily use your oven to bake the pumpkin, or peel and cook in broth to soften it.  I used a quart of chicken broth that cost me nothing because I used leftover bones to make the broth last winter. The chard melts down quite a bit, so you throw the leaves in at the end, but the stems can be thrown in with the onion in the beginning for extra veggie goodness. I used canned beans – but if you want to really make it a project you can soak the beans twice, rinse it and then simmer it on the stove for hours until they are soft.

This makes up a great hearty soup with chewy spelt, white beans, seasonal pumpkin and chard.  Yummmmmmm!


Pumpkin, Chard and White Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hearty seasonal vegetarian soup with pumpkin, white beans and chard along with chewy spelt berries.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Soup
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup spelt berries
  • 1 quart Broth (vegetarian or chicken)
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 small pumpkin
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • big handful of chard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  1. In the bottom of a soup pot, heat oil and saute diced onion.
  2. Add 2 cups of broth and cook spelt berries until they are the right chewiness.
  3. While the berries are cooking, slice the pumpkin open, scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until the pumpkin will come away from the skin.
  4. Remove skin and dice.
  5. Add to soup pot. Large dice the swiss chard leaves and throw into the soup pot.
  6. Rinse beans and add to the soup pot along with salt, pepper and allspice.
  7. Heat and serve in bowls.
If you wish to use the stems, dice and saute along with the onion. Instead of the microwave, you can peel the pumpkin, seed it and dice it. Then cook it in the soup pot in broth until soft.


Fast and Delicious – Grilled Veggies & Bulgur

September 25, 2011 - Written by Diana

Grilled Summer Vegetables & Bulgur

Tonight’s dinner – had a side of grilled veggies and bulgur.  This side dish is a really fast and easy side that packs in a good deal of nutrients.  This side can also be served as a vegetarian main and can be eaten cold or hot.  So double up and bring it to lunch the next day or a repeat dinner.  It’s a little scorched on the edges, but still very tasty.  A quick grill with olive oil and then after you combine the veggies and bulgur, give it a quick toss with some chopped fresh basil and a little bit of olive oil.

I have a  grill grate that I place over the grill top because I worry that the vegetables will fall through.  I sprayed the grate with a little oil first to make sure the veggies wouldn’t stick and I used a sweet onion along with some summer squash, and red peppers.


Core, de-stem and slice pepper lengthwise. Slice onions into similar size.  Slice zucchini down lengthwise into fourths, and divide into thirds so that you end up with rectangles of squash.  Do the same with the yellow squash.  Spray grill grate with oil, and also the vegetables.  Sprinkle with dried basil, salt and pepper. Place on the grill and if you can flip – a couple of minutes on each side.

Cook the bulgur according to directions.  Chop fresh basil up and toss in a serving bowl along with some olive oil, salt, pepper, the bulgur and the grilled veggies.  That’s it, on the table in twenty minutes at the most.



Beet, Feta & Spelt Berry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

July 7, 2011 - Written by Diana

Beet, Feta, Spelt Salad with a Strawberry Vinaigrette

My Beet, Feta and Spelt Salad was my favorite of the two salads (the other was a pasta salad with peas, lamb mint sausage and a dill mint pesto) that we brought to the 3rd of July family gathering.  It’s a potluck and I try to bring something new to the table, to make it interesting.  Of course the young boys wouldn’t touch it, because it was healthy looking, and an aunt said she didn’t eat beets because they taste like dirt.  I say earthy – she says dirt.  Her husband liked it, and so did my family.  I made a pretty big batch, so we had leftovers for breakfast and then some for dinner again.  I also left a small bowl behind for my daughter because she had to work and wasn’t able to go with us.  Feel free to cut down on amounts, I was cooking for a potluck, and had plenty of leftovers for us, which I wanted by the way – so I didn’t need to cook on the 4th.  This is great for dinner, but I brought out the leftovers for breakfast and it went over well then too.

Spelt berry is similar to faro – or wheat berry.  I intended to buy faro, but the shopkeeper told me I could have faro, or a more locally produced spelt which is similar.  The spelt came from Stutzman Farms in Millersburg, which is not too, too far from me but I bought mine at the Greener Grocer.  I seem to have a lot of their products in my home, I didn’t even realize it until today.  Roasted beets are new to our family this year, and yes they have a very earthy taste, but I am enjoying it.  I added basil and parsley from the garden, that was a suggestion from my daughter, who is getting into trying to figure out what herbs to use in our recipes.  Feta seemed like a really good choice crumbled into the salad, though wait until it is cool, or it will be melted feta.  I also threw in dried cranberries and chopped walnuts, plus don’t tell my husband but some itty bitty minced shallots.

This is a really delicious, healthy salad.  Made ahead, you can portion it out for lunches or breakfast because it travels well in a covered bowl.  It will also make a great side dish, or main dish for dinner. Best of all, it’s a quick fix with lots of chopping and a little bit of cooking.  You make ahead and set to cool in the fridge.

I did roast my beets in the oven, but you can try the toaster oven, microwave or stove top if it’s too warm – today at 95 would be too warm.

The method I used to cook spelt was kind of a risotto method.  I added the same amount of water as there was spelt, and heated in the microwave in a glass measuring cup more water.  I slowly cooked out the water in the pot with the spelt, and then added a ladleful of warm water.  I continued this way until the berries were almost the correct consistency and then I pulled the pot off the heat and allowed it to finish absorbing the water left in the pot.  The berries were nice and chewy, not mushy, and not hard.

For the beets, I placed them into a glass bowl with a little water and cooked them until they were soft enough to chewy.  Then you peel the skin off and dice.  The walnuts I chopped with a knife, and also the basil and parsely.

Beet Feta & Spelt Berry Salad


Toss it all together, serve with a bottle of strawberry vinaigrette – my daughter used balsamic, but redwine or raspberry would work well also.


Strawberry Vinaigrette

Shake well before serving.

Salad Season Has Arrived!

May 12, 2011 - Written by Diana

I arrived home from work to a hot and sweaty daughter studying at the computer.  When I mentioned dinner, she replied – anything but not hot.  Salad season is on folks, especially now.  This is the best time for fresh salads because salad greens love early spring best.  They don’t do so well in the super heat of the hazy summer end, but planting seeds outside in the end of winter will bring you perfect greens in the beginning of spring when the bugs are still on vacation.  I hope to have a few more cool evenings with warm tomato soup, stew or a roast, but I’m looking ahead to more salad days.

Tonight’s dinner was both quick and easy to prepare and all the ingredients in my fridge, so I didn’t have to run out for anything.  The quinoa was made up in a big batch but frozen in dinner size portions.  You can set it to defrost in the fridge, or if you are like me and deciding at the last minute, you can microwave for one minute, stir it around a little and it’s ready to go.  The rest of the ingredients came together into a nice salad topped with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.  Not only was it declared delicious by my college girl, but she made herself a second round.  Yummy.


Goat Meat Over Quinoa With a Side of Broccoli Raab and Prosciutto

April 29, 2011 - Written by Diana

Spring is crazy right now with this really strong winds and storms blowing through.  In the middle of it all, my garden started growing.  We have raised beds so our veggies don’t get over sogged and root rotted.  Too early for tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, but I have broccoli rabe.  I’ve never tried eating broccoli rabe before never mind growing it, but that’s the way I roll; grow it and see what we think.  I was surprised at how fast it sprouted up and grew tall with little floret heads.  For our roasted veggies on Easter, I threw in some rabe, tasting it with my mother in law first to try it out.  It had a little bit of a sharp taste – maybe bitter, but pretty good.  It was even better cooked.  So tonight’s meal I decided to cook up some goat to go over quinoa, and for the side I went and picked a bunch of broccoli rabe from the garden.  It’s amazing how much more there is today, just a few days later.

The goat was really tasty too.  I don’t know why it isn’t more mainstream. I sauteed onion and garlic in oil along with the goat meat, then added beef broth and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Delicious and tender.   In another pan, I sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil and threw in a couple of pieces of prosciutto  When the prosciutto was crispy, I added the rabe and sauteed that too until it was limp. It was a really tasty meal. Not much prep time, or cooking effort, but pretty darned delicious.

Quick Quinoa Burgers

January 28, 2011 - Written by Diana

Quick Quinoa Burgers is from The 150 Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes on Earth by Jonny Bowden and Jeannette Bessinger.  When Deb, Desiree and I were younger, my dad tried the meatless burger thing.  He used birdseed – or rather millet, but they were dry and not very tasty.  I tried this meatless burger thinking it would end on the same note, but I really was surprised at how good they were.  No, they don’t taste like burgers, not at all, but they are packed with flavor.  Where the recipe said to use a quality salsa – I used my canned salsa.  Where it said to use canned kidney beans, I substituted pinto beans that I made up earlier in the week, and it had a little garlic flavoring in it.  I also topped the burger and sauce with chopped avocado.  Deb are you listening – this meal had quinoa, avocado and salsa in it, you will like it.




Place the beans, oats, cheese and salt in a food processor in that order and pulse until combined and holding together but still chunky, about ten quick pulses (I think I probably over pulsed, but it came out nicely).  Turn the bean mixture out into a medium bowl, add the quinoa, and mix, with your hands just until it holds together well.

Heat the oil on a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat (or just below medium in a regular skillet to prevent sticking), and form the quinoa mixture into four patties.

Place the burgers in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side in until heated through.  Patties will be soft, so handle gently.

While the burgers are cooking, place the salsa, yogurt, lime juice, syrup, cumin, and chili powder into a blender (or a small bowl, and use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth.  Serve burgers with a generous helping of the dressing.

Chicken & Summer Vegetables Over Rice

September 20, 2010 - Written by Diana


We love roast chicken, and if I didn’t stop my husband, he would eat the whole chicken in one sitting.  He’s not a large man, but now that the kids are away, we need to watch our portion sizes.  So, the last time I made a roast chicken, I use the meat from half on our plates and told him not to touch the other half. I also have some rice I’m trying out and I’ll go into the details in another post.  I am a person who likes fragrant rice.  I’m not a fan of that flavorless stuff that comes in a box and is ready in 60 seconds. I want fragrant nutty tasting delicious real rice.

Today we were making salsa and though we filled about 20 pints, we’ll probably make another batch and spend another day chopping.  Salsa is a lot of chopping.  Skinning, deseeding, dejuicing, and chopping, chopping, chopping.  Since we were so tired of chopping, I decided dinner was going to be leftover roast chicken, but what else – well, rice of course, and how about sautéing some of those delicious veggies along with the chicken.  Throw in a little white wine or chicken broth, some herbs and we sat down to a delicious dinner.


Heat up a tablespoon of Olive oil in a non-stick pan and sauté the garlic and onion.  Add in the green peppers and the squash.  Pull the chicken off the bone in strips.  when the veggies are soft but still firm add in the chicken and throw on a couple of splashes of chicken broth and/or white wine.  Throw in some crumpled dried sage and chopped parsley and toss and stir.

Prepare rice according to directions.  Serve Chicken mixture over rice.  My husband added some salsa over top, since we made a big pot of it today.


This was a great nutty rice, that I’m going to talk about in another post.


Disclosure;  I was sent some sample packets of rice to try out in my recipes. 

Grill Once, Dine Twice

July 16, 2010 - Written by Diana

We like grilled food, and grilling, but cooking a full meal every night can be time consuming and we are an easy prep/cook family.  Most days I assign a person, and then that person tries to figure out a meal that won’t take up a lot of their time.  Of course with my son it means Mac n cheese and hot dogs, plus something that’s not baked beans – because he doesn’t like them.  If I can during the week I try to figure out something quick too.  Grilling is great because not only does it taste good, but if you do it right, you get two meals out of one grilling.

We had a meal or I should say meals lately that were fantastically good, simple and yet clean tasting all at once.  We grilled some salmon, and veggies, just brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper.   Really simple.  Then for dinner the next night, I chopped up the salmon and the veggies, added a cucumber, some dressing and then spooned it on top of a bed of bulgur.  My son both nights, waved his hand over the food, and said, ” Mom, all of this is good.”  My son who will be officially an adult next week (and tells me I legally have to provide him with shelter until then), hated a lot of food when he was a kid, but I never gave in to his whines and now he appreciates my cooking. My husband, daughter and I all loved it too.  Cold grilled Salmon is really flavorful and delicious in a salad, but we often use chicken and make extra for the second night’s salad.

First night – Grilled Dinner – Prepare extra of everything – we want leftovers.

Brush all of it with Olive Oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill over low heat.  You want the vegetables to soften, but not get mushy, the salmon needs to be just barely cooked on both sides – a few minutes on each side. When the salmon stops gripping the grill, it’s time to flip.

We also had grilled corn on the cob with this meal.

Leftovers should be placed in zipper bags, or a covered bowl.

Second night – Cold Grilled Salad



Cut all the grilled veggies into bite size pieces, including the salmon.  Prepare bulgur according to package directions.

Place a heaping spoonful of bulgur on your plate and spoon the salad over top.  Use dressing as desired – substitute your favorite dressing for the vinaigrette if you like.  My mom eats fat free ranch on all of her salads, and my dad when he was alive ate blue cheese  – if you have a favorite use that.

Grilling once, dining twice is also frugal way to go too, because you aren’t using propane or charcoal twice.  There are also no fights over who was cooking dinner because it’s a quick prep and then right to the table.  In fact – Grill once dine three times might be a good way to go also.

Quinoa Berry Salad

May 31, 2010 - Written by Diana

We went to a family/friend gathering at my brother in law’s today.  Though the day was a little warm, sitting under the shade trees, it was a pleasant cookout with lots of great food.  My contribution was Quinoa Berry Salad.  I went out and picked some parsley and mint to add a little hint of something. When I asked my husband if I should add some walnuts, the answer was a resounding yes.  I’m not a big fan of syrup for the berries, I want it less sweet, so that I can taste the sweetness of the berries, so instead I added Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette.   This salad went over so well, the two year old little boy from next door kept coming back for more.


Put all the ingredients into the bowl (except the vinaigrette) and toss.  Pour the vinaigrette over top, and toss a little more.

Black Quinoa – Red Quinoa too.

January 29, 2010 - Written by Diana

Yesterday I posted a picture of Black Quinoa.  We’ve mentioned quinoa before, it’s one of the best grains to get on your plate.  Black Quinoa was one of the main ingredients I used in my dinner the other night.  I liked the contrast that the Black Quinoa added to the bowl, they’re the little speckles in with the bigger grains. Alter Eco Black Quinoa

The black quinoa has a little more earthy flavor than the white quinoa, and also a little bit crunchier texture. Therefore it takes longer to get to a mushy texture than the white quinoa.  You have to be a bit more careful with the white than the black, I think.  I got my package of black quinoa from Alter Eco to try out, so this quinoa is fair trade as well as organic.

Quinoa is also gluten free.  My daughter often uses leftover quinoa for a salad the same as she does with leftover couscous.  If you desire gluten free ingredients, quinoa is a good substitute for couscous and also, if you cook it a little longer you can substitute it for oatmeal and eat it as a hot cereal.


I found a box of Ancient Harvest Inca Red Quinoa at the grocery store.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I wanted to let you know it’s available to add to your dishes.  I like the idea of having the red grains in my recipe for a little color.  When I visited the Ancient Harvest website, I found they have quite a few recipes .  They also have pastas, flours and flakes made out of quinoa too and kosher products. Ancient Harvest Quinoa However, I don’t know that they are a fair trade product.


Don’t hesitate to add quinoa to your dishes and try out something healthy and new.  My family is enjoying my foray into wholegrain goodness.  (Robyn sorry, I probably can’t help your husband and son.)  Give it a whirl and see what you think.