It’s almost too easy to serve up this no fuss, healthy, and delicious Gluten Free Vegetarian Crock Pot Taco Soup.
I have almost every word of the Moana soundtrack memorized and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
We saw the movie opening night with our girls and some friends visiting from Arizona. I mean, how lucky are we to watch a Hawaiian/Polynesian Disney movie while living in Hawaii???! I can say with assurity that most children will never have that same opportunity.
Now I just need someone to remind my children how blessed they are because I’m pretty sure the novelty of Hawaii has worn off and they no longer appreciate their magical surroundings. To them, paradise is just another ordinary day of living.
We actually had a little scare this past month where we thought we might be moving back to the mainland. Ben was approached by his current employer about considering an open position in Utah that would require us to pack up and leave at the beginning of the new year.
I was freaking out.
Of course it would be nice to live by both of our families (a novelty we have yet to experience with our children), but I felt like our time here on the island was being cut drastically short. I expected to be here somewhere around 5 years, and to move after merely a year and a half on the island seemed like I was being robbed of years in paradise.
To make a long story short, another rep ended up claiming the Utah territory since his territory was soon to be dissolving, and we are here to remain in our tropical little bubble until the next opportunity arises.
Anyhow, during this whole fiasco of figuring out what we were doing, we ended up seeing the movie Moana twice. Both times Ben, yes Ben, ended up crying during the beginning of the movie when the ocean speaks to young Moana. It is a very tender moment, but even more so when you think you may be leaving the island you love.
When I was talking to my parents about the potential for us coming to Utah, they were beyond ecstatic. In fact, I think I kind of broke their hearts by not acting quite as excited as they were. It’s not that I wouldn’t love being near my parents. It’s just that we’ve never had such a great group of friends as we have here in Hawaii.
We’ve had amazing friends in all the places we’ve lived from being college students in Utah to living in three different houses in Arizona. You find people you love no matter where you go. But in Hawaii, there are so many people that rely on their friends to become part of their family since most of us are living on the island alone, away from our relatives. You find that your friends fill the roles of sister, brother, mother, father and everyone takes care of one another.
We are constantly gathering together for parties and potlucks and beach days and getaways. There is never a day that goes by that I couldn’t call up a friend to meet at a park, or museum, or trail-head. I have a handful of gals that will join me for surfing or swimming or snorkeling.
When I found out that my grandma had passed away last month and Ben and I were wanting to go to the funeral, I had nearly a dozen friends reach out to me asking what they could do to help and if they could watch my girls while we traveled. I never once worried that my girls were being taken care of during our stay in Utah.
There truly is a sense of “Ohana”, or family, when you move to this island and I only hope that wherever we go next, we can take even a portion of that aloha spirit.
I really can’t think of anything that I can teach the people here that they haven’t already taught me. They’ve taught me to love, to serve, to let loose and enjoy life, to live in the moment, to appreciate what I have, to be patient, and the list goes on.
Being a food blogger, I didn’t think I could love food anymore, but I have learned to LOVE food even more living here. I am telling you, Hawaiians LOVE food. I have never brought food to a potluck and had to take leftovers home. Everything gets eaten.
Now that I think about it, that is probably the only thing I have contributed to the people living here. You can always rely on me to bring a tasty potluck item to share during our gatherings. I’m usually known as the dessert girl, but occasionally I will bust out a main dish menu item and blow people away with a few of my savory skills.
Some favorites of mine to make are soups, stews, or chilis. They are so easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and are pleasing to most people’s taste buds. A recent concoction of mine was this Gluten Free Vegetarian Crock Pot Taco Soup.
Four simple words: It doesn’t get easier!
Seriously, this soup is so simple, yet so full of flavor. It’s filled with fresh diced tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and garlic. The perfect base for a zesty taco soup.
I used plain old taco seasoning for my spices to make the preparation that much easier. In fact, this soup is so easy you can throw it together in the morning and rush out the door within a short 15 minutes. Come home a few hours later to a perfectly simmering soup that you can load with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and crunchy tortilla strips.
If you do have a little extra time, I would recommend sauteing the veggies in olive oil before adding them to the crock pot. But, this step is only if you have extra time and want a little more flavor. Otherwise, stick to the basic recipe.
I don’t know what it is about soup, but I always want to eat it with the people I love. Gathering around soup is one of my favorites. It’s warm, toasty, and makes you feel loved. It’s just like those Campbell’s commercials where even football players want to eat soup with their mamas. Or what about the winter commercials where the mom’s are making soup for their kids after playing out in the snow?
Let’s just face it, soup = love.
Even better, FOOD = love.
So wherever we go from this island in the years to come or whether we are Hawaii lifers, I know that I can always share a little aloha with my food. We may not always have the same friends as we do now, but we will continue to create memories wherever we live, gathered around a table enjoying some tasty treats.
What has been your favorite place to live?
- 4 cups diced tomatoes (or 2 cans petite diced tomatoes)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow)
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can black beans with liquid, plus 1 can of water
- 1 small can diced green chilies
- ⅓ cup taco seasoning
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar, or brown sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon dried cilantro or 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups frozen corn
- Place all ingredients except for salt and frozen corn in a crock pot. Stir and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours until veggies are tender.
- Before serving, add frozen corn and warm through. Season to taste with salt. Top with desired toppings.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.