The Secret of Soup

The Secret of Soup

One of my favorite winter foods is soup; especially healthy homemade soup . Nothing quite compares to a big bowl of steaming soup to warm you up, feed you when your not feeling well, or simply act as a comfort food.

Soup is good food, like the commercial says. The only problem with canned soups is they aren’t as healthy as when you make them yourself.

Soups are typically filled with vegetables, meats, and herbs. It’s a nutritional powerhouse . One of the best parts of eating soup is that you also enjoy the broth that everything was cooked in which means you’re not losing any vitamins or minerals that may have leached out during cooking time.

It is easy to plan for making soup. When I have a few leftovers from a yummy meal I’ll store them in a freezer safe zipper-topped plastic bag in the freezer. The next time I’m making a soup I can plop those leftovers in the pot. Sometimes I’ll toss them in the blender or food processor and puree them before I add them for a different texture.

Here’s a rich and creamy soup for you to enjoy this week.

Print Recipe
Butternut Bisque
Course Soups & Stews
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Soups & Stews
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prepare squash by cutting in half and baking for 90 minutes OR by microwaving for 10 to 15 minutes or until softened.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; sauté onion, garlic and apple until onion is translucent.
  3. Add flour, curry powder and nutmeg and continue to cook until apple is tender.
  4. Place squash in a food processor or blender along with skillet ingredients; add 1 cup of broth and puree until smooth.
  5. Pour contents into a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
  6. Add remaining broth, tomato paste, evaporated milk and sage.
  7. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

NUTRITION per serving: 224 Calories; 2g Fat; 13g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 416mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat. Points: 4

 

If you’d like to see even more delectable soup recipes check out our Casseroles, Soups & Stews collection of ebooks. . Stock up and treat your family to some warm winter dinners today.

Eat Nutritiously to Fight Holiday Depression

Eat Nutritiously to Fight Holiday Depression

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 cooker) 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 cooker 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.

Print Recipe
Leanne's Basic Vegetable Soup
Veggie Soup in an earthenware bowl
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Veggie Soup in an earthenware bowl
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot, heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook till nearly translucent, now add the garlic. Don’t let the garlic brown and saute another couple of minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the thyme and salt and pepper while sauteing.
  5. Now put the veggies in the crock cooker, add the tomatoes and broth.
  6. Cook on low 7-9 hours (depending on your crock cooker) or high 4-6 hours.
  7. 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.
Recipe Notes

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.

Beat Winter Dehydration

Beat Winter Dehydration

Is it just me or is it easier to remember to drink your water in the summer?

Just because the temperatures have dropped, doesn’t mean your water intake can take a dip, too. Our hydration needs don’t change much in the winter months–our body functions still need water to make it function optimally.

In warm or cold weather, your body loses water the same way– through sweating, breathing and urinating. Whether you’re inside or outside, summer or winter, you’re losing water the same way and you need to hydrate the same way by making sure you’re drinking water. Exercise is an important way to not only stay fit, but detoxify your body though sweating. Replenishing your body with water after a workout is essential to restoring balance.

We are all different and have different activity levels, so the best real gauge of your own hydration status is your individual output. Hold on to your water here… this might get gross, but it’s important to know.

When you go to the bathroom, yellow urine means you need to drink more water, whereas clear or light yellow urine means you are well hydrated. Signs of dehydration are pretty easy to identify. Be aware of your body and catch them quickly. If you feel thirsty, have dry mouth, are light-headed, can’t focus well, feel tired or notice your skin is dry, then you need to drink more water.

Bottoms up!

How to Eat to Beat the Blues

How to Eat to Beat the Blues

The holidays are bearing down on us, and while this is a wonderful time of year for a good segment of the population, there are a lot of folks who find it difficult to cope with the hustle and bustle.

During the month of December, many people run around trying to do too much, spending more money than they should. The stress can start to take its toll!

For a lot of people, depression creeps in around the same time as the holidays. Maybe because of the stress of the holidays, maybe because the holidays aren’t particularly joyous for some reason or other or maybe because there isn’t as much sunlight as we need to get our feel good hormones. (This lack of sunlight leads to something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and affects roughly 5% of Americans.)

Now, if you’re feeling depressed, I would suggest you make an appointment with your doctor. Depending on the state of mind you’re in, you may be prescribed vitamin therapy, counseling and/or some sort of pharmaceuticals to help you out a bit.

When you’re feeling sad, it’s natural to reach for sugary foods that tell our brains we’re happy, but of course that’s not a great strategy, because once that “sugar rush” wears off, you end up feeling worse than you did before.

There are some foods you can start adding to your diet in the meantime that are known for their feel good effect on the body. Heck, whether you’re feeling blue or not, we could all use a pick-me-up, am I right?

The following tips may help you feel a little bit happier:

  • Ensure every meal contains complex carb-rich foods. Complex carbs perk up your brain’s energy center. Reach for healthy sources of carbs like squash, dark leafy greens, blueberries and dark-colored fruits. Make sure every meal has extra servings of these good sources of carbs.
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin B6. Low levels of Vitamin B6 may cause mild depression. Eat lots of fish, bananas, chicken, dark green veggies, and avocado to boost up your intake.
  • Eat two servings of folic-acid rich foods per day. Folate (folic acid) is also important to get more of when you’re feeling blue. Pile your plate high with broccoli, spinach or chard.
  • Eat fish. Mackerel contains fabulous acids that can elevate your mood.
  • Add Greek yogurt to your daily diet. The amino acids in yogurt help to regulate your stress hormones. But don’t eat the sweetened stuff! Plain only!

In addition to these dietary suggestions, you might also want to add some exercise to your daily routine. The world always looks a little bit better after a walk in the fresh air.

Fun with Fall Fruit

Fun with Fall Fruit

Can you feel the crispness in the fall air? The leaves are changing. The nights are colder. It’s sweater weather. It’s harvest time. I love this time of year. It’s finally cool enough to do some serious cooking without worrying about heating up your kitchen and the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables has never been better.

Let’s focus a bit on those fruits. Although they are great to eat just as Mother Nature created them, there are lots we can do to add some kick to our traditional meals as well. Have you ever tried chicken with apricots? How about pork chops with honey and apples? And adding an assortment of berries when roasting meats is simply divine!

Try baking up some of those apples. Just remove the core then add some raisins, a little honey and cinnamon in the empty space. Bake for thirty minutes at 350 degrees. YUM! And just think of all the calories you just saved yourself by skipping the traditional apple pie (save that for Thanksgiving).

Another fun way to serve up your fruitful bounty is in a Fall Fruit Salad. I’ve included a recipe for you below but feel free to get creative with this one. Add or subtract fruits to your heart’s content. For a flavor that is more tart try adding some dried cranberries. You can add some extra crunch with a few almonds or even chopped celery. There’s no limit to the fun you can have with your fall fruit.

 

Print Recipe
Fall Fruit Salad
Course Desserts, Salads
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Desserts, Salads
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the apple, pear, peach and grapes.
  2. Toss with yogurt and chill.
  3. Stir in the walnuts just before serving so the walnuts will maintain their crunch. You can also garnish this with mint if desired.
Treat Yourself with Tangerines

Treat Yourself with Tangerines

It’s citrus season in the Untied States-that time of year when you can find those little citrus sweeties all over the grocery store. Tangerines are in season from November through April.

There are three major types of tangerines that we tend to find here in the western hemisphere: tangerines (tangerine is a type of tangerine), mandarins, and tangelos. These cute little fruit are smaller than oranges, and they also tend to be easier to peel because the peels are much looser, so they make a wonderful snack. Kids love them and, really, who doesn’t?

You start finding tangerines around Thanksgiving. The most common tangerine varieties we find here are Dancy and Fairchild.

Mandarins are known for their exquisite sweet flavor and their light orange color. Satsuma, Clementine, Royal and Honey are the most commonly found varieties of mandarin in the US.

Tangelos are very juicy and have quite a mild flavor. A hybrid between a tangerine and a grapefruit, tangelos aren’t as sweet as the other types of tangerines.

There’s a lot of nutrition packed into these small orange fruits.

A single tangerine contains:

1 gram of protein
2 grams of fiber
45% of the Vitamin C you need for the day
6% of your RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) of Vitamin A
4% of your RDA of calcium, magnesium and potassium
2% of your RDA of manganese, copper, phosphorus and zinc

Tangerines also contain notable amounts of: Vitamin B6, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin and riboflavin.

So much goodness in these yummy little guys!

I love tangerine segments in green salads and they’re divine in coleslaw (really!), but don’t forget to pop out the seeds!

Print Recipe
Mandarin Orange Teriyaki Chicken Salad
Half of a peeled Mandarin Orange on a white marble surface
Course Salads
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Half of a peeled Mandarin Orange on a white marble surface
Instructions
  1. In a large zipper-topped plastic bag, combine chicken and teriyaki sauce; seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Drain and discard marinade.
  3. Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray; add chicken; cook and stir for 5 to 7 minutes or until no longer pink; transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  4. In a large bowl, combine salad greens, frisee, chicken, oranges, carrot, almonds and green onion.
  5. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine remaining ingredients; shake well and drizzle over the salad; toss gently to coat.
Recipe Notes

NUTRITION per serving: 299 Calories; 13g Fat; 25g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 1066mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 2 Fat. Points: 6

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