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December 23, 2011

Eat Nutritiously to Fight Holiday Depression

Healthy Foods
Eat Nutritiously to Fight Holiday Depression

by Leanne Ely, CNC

We are completely entrenched in the Christmas season and for so many, also completely entrenched in holiday depression. Having gone through holiday bouts of depression myself, I will never discount anyone’s depression. I will tell you however, there are things you can do to fight the oppression of depression. Even if you don’t “feel” like it, you can take action against it.

One of the most effective things in battling any sort of depression (and it is a FIGHT!) is feeding yourself right. Poor eating actually helps fuel depression. In the midst of all the scurrying around during the holidays, we end up shortchanging ourselves and eating poorly. We “save up” for the Big Feasts or parties and starve ourselves or eat fast food because we’re too busy.

Having a plan really does make a difference. We have a great Christmas menu that gives you a menu for the big meal, recipes and the itemized grocery list to keep the panic level at bay. But even with lists and plans, there’s still a lot to do that can cause stress, which only contributes to that downward spiral.

Add poor eating to that and you’re going to be struggling big time to keep your chin above water.

To fend off bad eating, make yourself a big pot of soup (in your large Crock Pot) to keep yourself from “going there.” You need something easy, delicious and nutritious to get you through.

Below is a recipe for a major Crock Pot full of phytochemically rich veggie soup that you can tweak here and there with the variations I have added to keep you from getting bored. Once the soup has been initially cooked, put it in the fridge and heat up what you need in a small saucepan. The soup is vegetarian and low-carb friendly, too.

And while you’re running around over the next few days finishing up your last-minute shopping, remember to drink your water. Water is a nutrient, not a beverage. Drink a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated.

Leanne’s Basic Veggie Soup
Serves 12

1 tablespoon olive oil, or as needed
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 large carrots, chopped
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium turnip, chopped
1/4 head cabbage, chopped
2 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

In a large soup pot, heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook till nearly translucent, now add the garlic. Don’t let the garlic brown and saute another couple of minutes.

Add the rest of the chopped veggies, sauteing for just a minute or two; use extra olive oil if you need it for the rest of the veggies. Remember–you’re not cooking them– just sauteing them for the wonderful flavor this quick step will infuse in your soup. Add the thyme and salt and pepper while sauteing. Now put the veggies in the crock-pot, add the tomatoes and broth. Cook on low 7-9 hours (depending on your crock-pot) or high 4-6 hours. Just before serving, gently mash some of the potato chunks against the side of the crock-pot to thicken the soup, give it a stir and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving: 94 Calories; 3g Fat; 7g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 286mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat. Points: 2

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Grilled cheese sandwiches on whole grain bread and a spinach salad.

Quick Fixes for Variations on the Basic Veggie Soup

Now remember, don’t do these to the whole pot of soup! Just the little bit you pull out to fix yourself for lunch, etc. so that you can do all the Quick Fixes.

Quick Fix #1: Tex Mex Veggie Soup. Add some (eyeball it–how much do you want?) black beans (drained and rinsed), a little bit of cumin and chopped cilantro. Top with some tortilla chips and cheese, or serve with a quesadilla.

Quick Fix #2: Tuscan Veggie Soup. Add some (eyeball it again) cannellini (white kidney beans) or white beans (drained and rinsed), a little bit of Italian seasoning and some chopped kale. Cook till heated through and the kale is tender.

Quick Fix #3: Minestrone Veggie Soup. Add some cooked pasta, a little dried basil and top with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese.

Quick Fix #4: Autumn Veggie Soup. Add some diced acorn squash or butternut squash, a handful of cooked brown rice, a sprinkling of nutmeg and some chopped parsley.

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