Clean cooking for every culture with Kirsten Helle

Chef Kirsten Helle, the founder of Mesa de Vida, showcases some of her fall soups from different cultures.

SEATTLE - Cooking healthy food can take a lot of time and energy. Thus, many people settle for processed foods. Kirsten Helle was among those people, but health issues changed her priorities. She started cooking clean and focused on living a healthy lifestyle. After becoming a chef for professional athletes of different cultures, Helle began to tailor her meals to each individual's cultural backgrounds.

Mesa de Vida was born, and the rest is history. Helle stopped by New Day to share some of her fall soup recipes that are not only delicious but will help keep your immune system in top-notch shape. 

Don't forget to register for the Puget Sound Heart Walk at Cheney Stadium on September 30th and at the Seattle Center on October 14th. 

Feijoada – Brazilian Black Bean Stew, the national dish of Brazil. It is also actually of Portuguese origin. 
The dish is usually based on beef, pork, bacon, meat trimmings,  and served with sausage. We’re going to make this flavorful dish vegetarian and simple! Mesa de Vida Smoky Latin-inspired healthy cooking sauce is going to help give you those rich, long-cooking flavored, smoky notes, without the meat. It is customary to serve this dish with cooked rice and oranges, said to aid with digestion. What a great meal! 
Via National Geographic: As a celebratory dish, feijoada is traditionally served on Saturday afternoons or Sunday lunch and intended to be a leisurely midday meal. It is meant to be enjoyed throughout the day and not eaten under rushed circumstances. The meal is usually eaten among extended family and paired with an event like watching a soccer game or other social event. Because of the dish's heavy ingredients and rich flavors, feijoada is viewed as Brazilian soul food. In the city of São Paulo, feijoada is a common dish on restaurants on Wednesdays, mainly in the commercial area. In Rio de Janeiro, restaurants traditionally serve it on Fridays.
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked black beans 
15 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 jar Mesa de Vida Smoky Latin Inspired Healthy Cooking Sauce
(If you don't have this sauce add 1 finely chopped onion and 3 cloves minced garlic, juice of 1 lime)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste and chopped hot chili pepper to taste, optional
Hot cooked rice
Sliced, peeled oranges
Simmer all of the ingredients, except for the rice and oranges, on low for 45 minutes. (Or cook in an electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes). Serve over hot cooked rice with oranges on the side. Enjoy! 
Caribbean Chickpea & Potato Stew 
Simple, Caribbean flavors that can be served as a stew, or serve in roti with a mango salsa for a simple Trinidadian-inspired take on the Double Up!
2-3 tsp coconut oil, or other healthy oil/fat of your choice
½-1 cup Mesa de Vida Caribbean Inspired Healthy Cooking Sauce 
(If you don't have the sauce blend the following ingredients in a blender: 1 bunch green onions, 1 cup fresh cilantro, 3 cloves garlic, 1 Tb tamarind puree, 1 date, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, 1/2 tsp Caribbean curry powder, juice of one lime)
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1-1 ½ cups water
Salt to taste and chopped hot chili pepper to taste, optional
Optional for serving – roti or other soft bread of your choice (defrosted pizza dough, rolled into 2” balls and rolled flat then fried up works great), mango salsa 
Heat a large skillet with tall sides, or a dutch oven, over medium heat, when hot add oil and swirl to coat. Add the Mesa de Vida Caribbean inspired healthy cooking sauce and stir for about 1 minute until highly fragrant. Add the chickpeas, potatoes and 1 cup of water, salt and hot peppers to taste. Stir and bring to a simmer. If your pot looks like the water is evaporating quick, add a bit more water. You want just enough to fully cook the potatoes, but not enough to make it soupy. Lower the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. (Or cook in an electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes.) Serve as a stew, or wrapped up in roti and topped with mango salsa if you wish! 
Moroccan Lentil Soup with Raisins
This is such a warming, fragrant soup packed with all of the rich, intoxicating flavors of North African cuisine. You’ll want to make all winter long! It is very gentle for digestion as well. If you’d like to bump up the heartiness of it you can add chopped potatoes or beef/lamb/pork as well, just simmer longer. 
6 cups low sodium, high-quality broth
2 cups lentils, rinsed and drained
1 jar Mesa de Vida North African Inspired Healthy Cooking Sauce
(If you don't have this use 1 cup tomato puree, 1 finely chopped onion, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp ground cumin)
Salt to taste and hot sauce (Harissa is wonderful for this), optional
½ cup golden raisins (regular raisins or chopped dried apricots or dates will also work)
Bring all of the ingredients to a simmer in a soup pot or Dutch oven, lower heat to low and cover. Cook for 30 minutes until the lentils are tender and begin to thicken a bit. (Or cook in an electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes.) 
Creole Inspired Jambalaya Soup
This is such a quick and healthy dish, it may just become a weekly regular for you! Packaged or frozen cooked rice is a great time saver, along with Mesa de Vida healthy cooking sauces. Stocking up on these, along with vegetarian sausage (you can use a spicy meat sausage if you’d prefer) and frozen okra are more time savers that pack big flavor for quick and healthy meals! 
8-12 oz Chicken Andouille sausage cut into 1/2" slices (or use vegetarian Field Roast Italian) 
1 jar Mesa de Vida Creole Inspired Healthy Cooking Sauce 
(If you don't have this use 1 diced tomato, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 diced green bell pepper, 3 stalks chopped celery, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 bag frozen sliced okra
1 cup rice, rinsed
4 cups low-sodium broth 
Salt to taste and hot sauce to taste
Bring all of the ingredients to a simmer in a soup pot or Dutch oven, lower heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and begin to thicken a bit. (Or cook in an electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes.) 

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