Breaking a Fast – Quinoa Minestrone

Have you ever been really hungry before? Not where you just missed lunch because you were in a hurry or couldn’t be bothered to prepare dinner because you didn’t feel up to it. I mean HUNGRY. Hunger where you’ve gone for several meals or even several days without food? Have you ever experienced hunger because you were too poor to buy food? Millions around the globe experience this kind of hunger. Can you imagine not knowing when or where you’ll have your next meal because you can’t afford to buy food?

One special woman is on a mission to do something about that. If you haven’t met Shira at In Pursuit of More, she’s like my blogging sister. Indeed, I recently discovered we are a mere 4 days apart in age. I’ve been in awe of her Not So Fast organization ever since I first read about it on her blog. Basically, the concept behind Not So Fast is to encourage those of us with plenty to go (just a little) without so that others that are really hungry can be fed.

Last month after I made a small donation to Not So Fast, Shira asked me if I would be willing to be a NSF guinea pig for their test period. I needed to go without something: a one day, 5 day, or 40 day challenge…going without one thing I would normally enjoy for the good of others and giving up the value of it to Not So Fast. Other NSF guinea pigs have gone without sugar or alcohol for periods of time.

1- Go Without:

I chose a 48 hour fast from food. I’ve fasted many times before, but never for more than a couple of meals at a time. I really wanted to know what it feels like to be REALLY hungry. My plan was to drink plenty of herbal teas, and lemon water to stay hydrated and to completely abstain from food. I knew it was going to be tough. Especially since I chose to do it over a weekend where I would be preparing food for my family at every meal.

 2- Make it Real:

 I also chose to fast with a purpose to help myself stick to it, so during my fast I concentrated on a loved one who is suffering from cancer.  When you fast with a purpose it can be a spiritual sort of thing. Many who fast feel a closeness to their maker or feel more in control of their own internal connections. I certainly do. Unbeknownst to me, Shira decided to fast with me. Despite Shira’s unseen help and these other powerful motivators, I didn’t make the full 48 hours. I was close, but I just got way. too. hungry. Not to mention lightheaded, irritable, and that blasted migraine that developed. It made me appreciate food just that much more. I have  an overflowing fridge and pantry filled with good wholesome food. I am lucky. It breaks my heart that others aren’t as fortunate.

3- Feed People:

I made another donation to Not So Fast, this time for the value of 48 hours worth of food for me on my generous food budget. Then I ate some soup….

Mindful Quinoa Minestrone

This is a light and inexpensive meal for anytime, but it’s particularly good for breaking your fast with. I use quinoa for it’s nutritional punch but feel free to use less expensive grains such as amaranth, millet or the other options listed below.

  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 3 cloves minced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 t. dried thyme
  • 1/4 C. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 C. quinoa, well rinsed (or for you really frugal types, substitute 1/2 C.  giant cous cous, bulgur wheat, broken or alphabet pasta)
  • 4 C. good vegetable stock
  • 1 t. sea salt, or more, to taste
  • few grinds of fresh black pepper

Method: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the onion and carrot, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two more. Add the veggie stock and the rest of the ingredients except basil and bring to a low boil. Cover with a lid and reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until quinoa is cooked through. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve immediately. This recipe was shared at Healthy Vegan Friday.

What can you do?

Can you go without that cup of coffee, pastry or take out lunch and donate those funds? If you are able, Donate here. You can give as little as a $1, $5 or $10. Your donations will go to feed the hungry and towards teaching impoverished children basic cooking skills with inexpensive recipes.

C’mon, warm fuzzies guaranteed.



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Filed under Soups and Stews, Vegan

90 responses to “Breaking a Fast – Quinoa Minestrone

  1. It is a really great initiative! I’m not very good at going without though :D. Perhaps I should give it a go :D. Anyway, great looking minestrone, Somer! Still haven’t tried quinoa… it’s just too un-frugal!

  2. The Vegan Green

    I love putting freshly grated ginger in my stew, yum! :) Great project

  3. What a great recipe to get back on track post thanksgiving. definitely going to give this a try this week. thanks!

  4. GiRRL_Earth

    This is such an awesome post! I’m going to spread the word around my office.

    I love fasting and generally try to fast 1 day a week, usually Saturdays. I always feel better when I give my body a break from food. Next time, I will do it in honor of someone and for NotSoFast.

  5. Food Stories

    There’s a lot of hunger in the world and I have been one of them at times in my life. Sometimes purposeful & sometimes not … Great post & great recipe :-)

    • Thanks for sharing that. I think us that live in abundance sometimes forget that others go without so frequently. It’s easy to get caught in a little bubble. I hope your pantry and heart are full right now.

  6. How wonderful! Both you for doing this, and the organization itself. What a great cause. Once I get moved, I’d like to do this too.

  7. Pingback: True Storytelling: A Not So Fast Going Without Story | in pursuit of more

  8. What a wonderful idea! I love this!

  9. If possible, I love you even more. Thanks for providing me with my first cry of the day ;-).

  10. Somer I am speechless! Your story is wonderful and your words strong – thank you for doing this and sharing it with everyone! I am honored to have you (and your strength) as a friend and supporter :) I love this and love even more that we fasted together! Gives me chills… :) :) Beautiful! XO

    • I’m not sure when I was more emotional, when I was actually fasting or when I put this post together. I love working on this cause with you my dear. It’s an honor and a privilege. xx

  11. Funny how love keeps growing, eh? I was really emotional writing it. Glad I wasn’t the only one shedding tears. Shira is so incredible. I love that she’s doing this.

  12. I love what Shira is doing!!! And I adore her blog :-)
    Thank you Somer for promoting this!
    Quinoa minestrone – delicious!!

  13. I love that you did the fasting together!! It is an amazing eye opener to try to go with out!! You guys rock!! Thank you for being such a great inspiration!!

    • Thanks Anne. She was like this wonderful unseen force. So beautiful. Going without is hard. So lucky to have plenty. Because of that I try to share as often as I can. We donate over 10% of our income to religious and charity organizations. It feels like the right thing to do.

  14. Wow, that’s pretty much what I ate every day during my first summer living on my own in NYC. I had a $10/wk grocery budget, so that meant lots of dry beans and brown rice and frozen veg, usually turned into soup. It’s good to be reminded that things are not so bad for me anymore.

    Thank you for sharing this charity! I’ll be definitely making a contribution.

    • Penny Parsnip! $10 a week is less than a grocery budget that I would spend in a day in my house. Good on you for surviving. Great too that things aren’t as tight now. Thanks for being a part of this. Every bit counts. xx

    • It’s a life changer for sure, I’ve been a poor student, but never starving. Glad you’re gainfully employed and that life is a little sweeter for you at the moment.

  15. biggsis

    Good for you… and for everyone. What a great win-win. Thanks for sharing, I think we will do this as a family. Will keep you posted!

    • I would love to hear if you are able to do this and how it turns out. I’m interested in a longer term “going without” but I’m feeling a bit cozy and somewhat selfish near the Holidays and don’t know what I should give up. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

  16. You’re amazing. I want to be as awesome as you when I grow up, and I haven’t even seen your Thanksgiving post yet. (I’m behind…) As to feeling closer to God, I usually fast for the week before Easter, from sun-up to sun-down, for just that reason. It makes Easter mean a whole lot more to me.

  17. Somer, thank you for this post and for the recipe! That minestrone looks awesome, can’t wait to try it. I will check out the NSF site, thanks for bringing it to our attention. Namaste.

  18. Minestrone is one of my favourites – and your recipe looks great. You really are an inspiration, both of you. I’m sorry to hear that your fast resulted in a migraine, but it seemed like an experience that you treasured (except for the last bit). I could do with just a little less too, considering my saddle bags are packing carryon luggage right now. If I start a little at a time, it should be doable. I usually buy extra high-protein groceries each month to leave in the food bank donations bin for the food bank – it makes me feel better about having a generous food budget.

    • It’s hard to not like Minestrone :) I find that when I fast I always overindulge afterwards so it’s not a good weight control method for me, which is why I run ;) Giving to the food bank is such a great thing. It’s hard to believe so many are hungry, the thought of hungry children just makes me want to cry. Wish we could solve world hunger together, but every little bit helps.

  19. Beautiful post and message Somer! The soup looks amazing too…I love anything with quinoa since I eat it so often. I cook with all these ingredients constantly so this would be a breeze for me to whip up! Thank you!

    • Thanks Brandi. Quinoa is so great, but I really am trying to use it less often in favor of more sustainable and affordable grains. Have you tried amaranth yet? It’s like baby quinoa! I’m loving it and it’s price tag.

  20. Kudos to you! I’ve never done a fast, but my husband and I did a SNAP challenge for a week to experience what it would be like to eat on food stamps. What a wonderful cause you are supporting!

    • Wow, Marian, reading your post was humbling. I probably spend $60 a week on produce alone (perhaps more) and I’m embarrassed to tell you what our actual weekly budget for food is, so I won’t. I will say though that we eat very well and are truly spoiled. Good healthy food is not a compromise for me, especially since going vegan and whole foods has so significantly changed my life. My medical bills are almost nil so I can afford to have fresh and organic healthy foods in my home. It is a luxury, and one that I’m very aware that many people are not entitled to. I remember watching Food Inc. and there was a family on there that regularly ate fast food since it was cheaper than buying produce. A hamburger or an apple for a dollar? Crazy. I can see why on such a limited budget they might chose the hamburger. Especially since the meat industry is so heavily subsidized by the government. I could wax on, but I’ll stop. Thanks for sharing that link with me.

  21. the minestrone looks amazing! that is so awesome that you took up the challenge! Shira keeps doing so much amazing stuff:) I get a headache and am super irrtable if i go without just one meal :) i think i’ll just give up on this years random shopping. We didnt buy clothes and such this Thanksgiving. Lets hope that continues :)

    • Giving up on random expenses and being more mindful is what this is all about. Deprivation doesn’t need to be involved :) I hear you about irritability and headaches. I had to apologize to my family several times. I can’t imagine how people have eating disorders, I love food far to much! xx

    • Richa – I love that you are always mindful to go without wherever you can, as Somer says that mindfulness around consumption in general is so huge! You are amazing!

  22. You’re awesome! What a great way to support a good cause.

  23. MikeW

    Great soup and thank you for giving back and inspiring the rest of us to keep our eye on the most important things.

  24. What a truly wonderful good for you soup: nourishing too! :)
    MMMM, Somer!

  25. I am in awe of Shira anyway. Good to see you insired v=by her as well. Great soup and a great way to support a great cause Somer:)

  26. Pingback: I’d Like to Thank the Academy? :) « galley kitchen gal

  27. Hi Somer! First, I am totally inspired. (By both the soup and your acts of giving.) Thanks for that extra nudge to give this season.
    Secondly, I’ve nominated your blog for the Sunshine award. Thanks for so many fabulous recipes! Check it out here.

  28. Great post Somer. Sounds like a pretty tough thing to do (fasting, although I too have done it and meditated for a long time too), but you have a strong will which I know will make you achieve every goal you set your eyes on.. Very inspring work from Shira too :) It shows that grass roots activities do not have to be implemented by looking up to a large organisation for us to follow. Each and everyone of us can move mountains :)

    • It was tough, but oh so rewarding. I just wish I didn’t get so cranky when I go without :) I particularly adore Shira’s organization because it is small and the money goes directly from donations to feed the hungry. Too many middle men in other places makes you wonder how much of your donation is going for good and how much is lining someone’s pocketbook.

  29. Back in the day I once fasted 21 days…after 3 days you stop being hungry but those first 3 days are killers! I think that we should all learn to live with less and we should all support people doing it tough. A wonderful initiative and whether you made the full 48 or not, you were trying to see how it felt and you now have a much better appreciation for what a large percentage of the world population feels like every day.

  30. This is AWESOME. The recipe and the information about your blogging friend and here organization. Thanks for sharing. I will be making this soup to break my annual 15 day cleanse/fast at the beginning of the year. Because I am such an (advanced) planner I was just thinking today about what kind of soup I was going to make to break my fast, considering I always make something different. Thank you for this.

  31. You are such a delight. When the day comes when I’m ready to go “the extra mile,” I’ll call you for guidance. In the meantime, I’ll skip step one and go straight to steps 2 and 3. Cheers!

    PS — I owe part of an awesome Thanksgiving feast to you, Somer. Our first vegan one turned out better than we expected! I hope to post on our meal choices on GreensForGood very soon. Until then, too much to do…

    • Huge smiles right now Shannon. Thanks for your donation and your big ol’ heart!

      I’m so glad your Thanksgiving feast went so well. I have to say that having a vegan feast felt much more peaceful than in previous years. Everyone really, really enjoyed it (it probably helped that there were 4 very adept vegan food bloggers who brought dishes to share) Everything was perfect. ;)

  32. Found you through Shira. What a great story and cause…thank you!

  33. By the way, my whole fam – including three littles – would love this!

  34. Shira is just so amazing- she never ceases to amaze me. And this soup looks so perfect right now (it’s a cold, rainy night)- the quinoa in it sounds so perfect! xo

  35. I feel so lucky to have met some of the most wonderful, caring and awe-inspiring people over the world- you both are amazing ladies, what a great post Somer, you ladies make my heart smile.

    • Thanks so much Heather, that means a lot to me. Our little community is incredible and I feel so lucky to be a part of it and you are one of the very best bits ;) xx

  36. Awesome, Somer – this is great!!!! :)

  37. sunnyshans

    Somer, that is a lovely post that challenges and encourages me. I’m encouraged to hear of anybody who steps out and does something to aid strangers that are suffering problems much greater than “The supermarket didn’t have any pinto beans!! Now how am I going to make chilli?!”

    Thanks for the challenge. I’m convicted to join you.

    • It’s a tricky thing because I feel I have so much in comparison to others. It’s good to be able to step out of my shell and put on a new mindset. I’m thinking of a different/longer challenge starting at the beginning of the year.

  38. grimtorath

    Rad. I remember when I was on a homeless stretch, camping out in a small patch of woods during the winter, I’d spend alot of time sitting in a cafe of a grocery where i used drink alot coffee. One day i was really hungry and felt wretched, a guy, dressed in expensive outdoor clothes, walked past in a hurry out the door. Then he just stopped in his tracks and called out something like ‘you okay?’ i responded with something like ‘not really’. He handed me a 20 and told me something like,’get something to eat’, and then he was gone. That single act was one of the greatest things i’ve witnessed. The fact he noticed, and he cared, and he helped me feel better, when he had didn’t have to, it really meant alot. I didn’t catch his name, but it really doesn’t matter, he was simply kind.

  39. Pingback: True Storytelling: A Not So Fast Going Without Story | In Pursuit of More

  40. Pingback: Quinoa Minestrone. | How I Ate My Box

  41. Pingback: Happy Holidays! A Big Blogging Break, Roasted Ratatouille on Olive Focaccia and Giving Back. | Vedged Out

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