Curried Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup

We’ve been out traveling around, and while we’ve been out, our little village in Germany has gone full swing into fall. The leaves are beautiful (what’s left of them) and the air is definitely crispy. We’ve got a fire going and apples simmering on the stove for yet another batch of apple sauce. Another sign of fall here is the now over abundance of pumpkins and squash. It is definitely the season, and I love it! A couple of years ago while on a trip to Latvia, I had the best pumpkin curry soup of my life – and I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since. I think this recipe is the closest I’ve come and I hope you enjoy it 🙂 I like it served with lingonberries, but cranberries are much more available in the US. I think it is just as good with cranberry sauce or craisins for a little more color and the lovely taste of autumn.



  • Curried Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup
  • Chestnut Cream
  • Quick Cranberry Sauce

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A Summary of our Daniel Experiment


Collard Green Wrapped Burritos

First, let me apologize for the long break. The Lady and I finished up the 6 week purge and have remained for the most part dedicated to the changes we made. This is due to two big things.

One- We saw real results. I lost 30Lbs, a couple jean sizes and  fit into my first pair of Levi 501s. This may not seem do be that big a deal but in all the years I can remember my thighs and butt have been to big for 501s, not any more.

Two- We feel sick and gross every time we have more than a little animal protein. And by gross,  I mean awful. Dairy is the worst by the way, which makes the semi cheese addicted lady very sad. Honestly though, when she isn’t being dramatic and it’s not in front of her, she doesn’t really miss it.

This little experiment has truly transformed our relationship with food. We look at portions differently, we read ALL the labels, and a little goes a long way. If we must try the local cheese on our travels, we’re content to have a small delicious bite. If we have a bowl of broth-y soup or a plate of cooked vegetables, we aren’t looking for the rest of the meal. We are over our cooking rules. Nothing is out of bounds. We have learned to question cooking methods and ingredients. Of course, losing the oil was the biggest factor. We sauté all the time with water only. We bake without added fat. Our dressings are totally healthy. We no longer feel like we have to conform. All of these changes happened in about a month. It’s shocking really. We’re more adventurous and more confident than before. This transformation has been a very good thing for us. We have broken out of the American norm. With the exit of the Standard American Diet, we hope to get off the trending bandwagon of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions plaguing western society. As we hope our family grows one day, we are trying to ensure our future littles have the best possible chance at a healthy life free of some of our own struggles. Truth be told, we could make all of the right choices in the kitchen and still end up in a bad position, but at least this way, we know we’re giving ourselves what we believe to be the best chance possible. We’re taking control. We’re trusting the Lord while being good stewards of this temple he has given us. We’re trying at least. We think this will be a lifelong journey of living and learning. It’s not an obsession, but a conscious decision to be our best.

Which brings me to my next point…. Being a vegan is not always healthy. Much like anyone eating a “regular” omni diet, we have to be aware of vitamins and minerals and how are body is absorbing them. Just like everyone that eats meat…. Ok, most people that eat meat don’t pay much attention to that, although no one seems to worried about vitamin deficiency unless you’ve decided to eat a plant based diet. If you’re going to ask your vegetarian and vegan friends about how they’re getting their protein, please ask your steak eating friends if they’re getting enough of everything else (and actually protein believe it or not) and if they’re doing anything to cleanse their possible (maybe likely) clogged arteries. Eating a diet of steak and potatoes is not healthier than a vegan living on salads and fruit. Both are seriously lacking balance. Balance gives us all of the things our body needs. We eat a mix of beans, veggies, mushrooms, leafy greens, complex carbohydrates, fruits, nuts, and seeds. We can get everything we need from those foods when eaten in the right proportions and combos. We’re fine, but if you are looking at a plant based diet, please do your research and be sure figure out how to do it in a healthy, not-vitamin-or-mineral-deficient way.

Oh, and consider a B12 supplement. Look into and/or talk to your doctor. OR eat something animal based once a week – like lean Omega-3 filled fish.

So this hopefully is the first post in what will be our continued dietary adventures and we will be writing about how we adapt to a cruise at the end of the month. We hope that you continue to read and we appreciate all the views we have had so far. As payment for your loyalty and recompense for my inattentiveness, here is one of our favorite recipes from the last four weeks. Expect to see new recipes at least once a week. Things will probably slow down as now we are cooking a lot of things on repeat.

Also if you have questions, suggestions or requests please feel free to post in the comments.


  • Collard Green Wrapped Burritos
  • Black Beans
  • Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
  • Pico De Gallo
  • Peamole (original recipe here  or modified below for your convenience)

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Day 37 – Much Ado about Sugar

A couple of days ago, I talked a little about sweetness and how you train yourself to know what sweet really is for you. I didn’t talk much about the dangers of sugar, only that in the US and most of the western world, we are on overload – a dangerous overload. Lots of chronic diseases are related to too much sugar, and I recently read a new study that suggests that processed sugar is leading to inflammation in the arteries and causing cholesterol to build up eventually contributing greatly to heart disease.

But a life without sugar doesn’t sound very sweet?

You don’t need to use white, brown (usually white sugar and molasses), or even raw sugar if you are a little adventurous in the kitchen. Cane syrup, agave, stevia, and other sweeteners don’t seem so bad for you, but you still don’t have to use them.

So what do you do?

As you may have seen in our previous recipes, we use fruit. Fruit has lots of natural sugar that’s not so bad for you. Fruit is good for you! Along with the sugar, there are vitamins and minerals and fiber – all things needed for a healthy diet.

Play with recipes a little to see how to substitute the sugar. Bananas, dates, figs, or raisins seem to work well. For baking, we either use mashed banana or dates blended with a little water to form a puree paste. A lot of times, we soak the dates first and use some of the water in the blend. We currently substitute 1:1 to suit our tastes. We drop a couple chopped dates in the bottom of chai or add bananas to our oatmeal. Peaches or other sweet fruit can work well, too, you just have to balance the taste. Try them and see what you think! OR try this deliciously sweet sugar-free oatmeal we’ve been loving for breakfast lately….


  • Blueberry Oatmeal

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Day 35 – You’re In for a Treat

We’re into sweets right now. I think it’s because we just realized we can bake things that taste great AND are good for us. Really good.

A couple of years ago, we started swapping oil in our baking recipes for apple sauce. We tried 1/2 oil and 1/2 apple sauce and went from there. It makes fat free baking a lot easier. If vegan baking scares you, try just the applesauce trick. It’s an easy change, and all those little steps to healthier living add up.

Now, without sugar or salt, we’re learning again. We started doing dates instead of sugar and that’s been an experience to get the proportions right – all trials with only a couple errors. We mostly just forget the salt and not worry about it.

A word on sweetness – You train your taste buds and body on how to handle sugar. You teach yourself what is sweet and what isn’t. If you’re eating the Standard American Diet, you are likely eating a TON of sugar. If you eat processed foods, just about everything has some form of sugar even if you don’t think you can taste it. This means your tastebuds need extreme sweet to taste it. After a month on this diet, things that used to be blah are really sweet! We don’t use sugar AT ALL. If you really want some more sweetness, up the dates. If you really want to challenge yourself to just enjoy the natural sweetness in life, start cutting down your sugar intake now! Don’t up the dates, don’t touch white sugar, and stop eating processed foods! When you have your first bite of delicious dark chocolate that you’ve always thought tasted bitter, you can think of me 🙂


  • Vanilla Cupcakes
  • Cashew Coconut Icing

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Days 30 – 33 – Confession: This Diet Might Be Addictive

We fell off the wagon.

BEFORE YOU JUDGE US, let me explain….

It all started when a dear friend of ours invited us over for dinner for the first time. He’s been here in Germany away from his family who lives in Eastern Europe for about 2 years and is about to move home. His wife was visiting and wanted to cook for us. Of course, we were thrilled and excited to try something new! We had talked to them about the vegan thing before they invited us, so we figured they had a handle on it. When he called around lunch time to let us know his wife was working on the chicken, we said it would be great! A little cultural misunderstanding I guess…

Well, she made this fantastic dish from Transylvania with fresh chicken and cream and it.was.AMAZING! We absolutely loved it! And the bread. And the dessert. With Ice Cream.

But we hadn’t had animal products in a month… so our bodies revolted. It was no good. The next morning, we had to get on a plane to Oslo (sad for us, right?), and had a miserable time. Traveling and the sniffles just don’t mix. But since we were already off the diet… we decided to try the Norwegian regional cuisine. For 2 days, we had vegan breakfast, then either vegan lunch OR dinner. After the plane ride, I (the lady) decided to stick with fish and avoid dairy. It wasn’t too bad. I felt mostly ok. The gentleman on the other hand, he ate whatever he wanted. By day 3 of the trip, we were back to total vegan after feeling completely miserable on the standard diet. We missed our way of eating. Seriously. We missed how we felt. We missed not having to worry about the sniffles. We just missed our vegan diet.

So we’re back on and more determined than ever! We’re glad we had this unintentional lapse to remind us how we used to feel. If we had any temptations left, they’re gone. Victory for us!

Day 29 – Eat Dessert First

We’ve recently gotten into making super healthy cookies and brownies and sharing them with people around us. As a result, we’ve had lots of requests for the recipes, so here they are….

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

  • Recipe here
  • If you’re reading the instructions, you don’t HAVE to soak the dates. Just blend them with water to form a paste. We omit the salt and the chocolate chips and opt instead to add crushed REALLY dark vegan chocolate to the top. We also add about 2 Tsp Unsweetened Cocoa to the mix for fun.  Best part? You can eat this cookie dough raw without worrying about a thing! It’s an awesome dip for apples and pretty similar to a cookie dough dip we used to make a lot.

Black Bean Brownies

  • Recipe here
  • We make this basically the same as the recipe. Maybe add a bit more cocoa. We’re working on a way to swap the almond flour with something less expensive, though it’s really not that bad. We usually have to bake them nearly an hour. Make a note on the dates: Don’t skimp or you might taste the spinach! If you can avoid the dates that look like cardboard, that’s awesome.

Go ahead. Eat the whole batch!*





*Well, maybe not the WHOLE batch. They’re good for you, but still aren’t quite calorie free with all those almonds. However, if you’re going to eat an entire tray of brownies, let them be this tray.