Tag Archives: SOUP: Water and Vegetables

What Nutritionists Eat When They Want to Slim Down

2014 Aug angry birds 016There was in interesting article on Fox News.com last week called “What Nutritionists Eat When They Want to Slim Down”. There are three important takeaways I’d like to pull from this article and the first one comes from the title.

Even experts get off track. The title itself implies that nutritionists aren’t 100% slim 100% of the time. Gasp! You mean that even people who spend years studying food and the human body and KNOW what they should and should not eat – even they get off track sometimes? They’re…they’re human? Gasp again! So if I get off track every once in a while, I’m human too? And I should stop beating myself up and start fresh today doing what I need to do to be on track again? How many rhetorical questions can a blogger type in a row before everyone groans? Two? Really? Okay, I’ll stop. Sorry about that.

P1050153More vegetables and protein. Almost every nutritionist said that they increase their intake of plants and proteins and limit carbs and sugar. More good stuff, less bad stuff. One lady said she puts a little cheese on her steamed vegetables.  That’s what I’m talking about! They eat real food – good for you real food – but limit the portion sizes.

They agree with me! It’s like the nutritionists have been reading my blog. The two tips they gave that didn’t boil down to “more veggies and protein” were to eat soup (because it’s full of vegetables, water, and fills you up with fewer calories) and to get more sleep.  Ta da! Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating! I feel like an expert now. “10 out of 10 random nutritionists from some random article agree that Katie knows what she’s talking about.”

March 2014 005If you’re off track, listen to the experts: take a walk, go to bed early, and eat a spinach omelet for breakfast. If you’re not off track, you should take a walk, go to bed early, and eat a spinach omelet for breakfast. It’s a plan we can all love!


Happy Junesgiving!

Turkey KitchenHappy Junesgiving, everyone!

The sun is shining, the kids are sweating…must be time to bake a turkey! Last week I baked the turkey I bought on sale last fall and experimented with Zucchini Mushroom Stuffing.  The result? Delicious! Celery and onion sauteed in butter makes ANYTHING you add to it taste good.

2014 June 051I used a classic Betty Crocker cookbook recipe for stuffing; I simply replaced the cubed white bread with quartered mushrooms and zucchini. I also used fresh thyme and sage instead of dried. You get a good amount of liquid from this stuffing, but the turkey seemed more moist than usual, so maybe there’s a connection there.

I encourage you to keep experimenting with your vegetables! Eggplant slices instead of noodles in lasagna, wraps wrapped in big green chard or lettuce leaves instead of a tortilla. Even little changes can make a big difference in the long run.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden” Genesis 2:16b


Can I Eat That? Random Leaf Stirfy

2014 April 004This week we ate the first fruits of our garden!  The turnip plants were about four inches tall and I thinned them and tossed the rejected plants into some stirfry with delicious results.  For you non-gardeners out there, “thinning” plants means pulling (or cutting) the extra baby plants from a row to give the plants that remain room to grow.  The “baby” plants are what you see sold in stores in plastic bags and labeled…wait for it…baby kale, baby spinach, baby arrugula, etc.  Baby plants are popular because they’re tender and sweeter than the grown up plants.  Ever eat overly mature greens (spinach, kale, turnip, etc)?  If it weren’t for the wilting, you could make shoes out of them.

2014 April 002I used to pitch the pulled plants along with the weeds, but then I discovered that you can eat them!  You can eat the leaves of turnips, radishes, beets, and broccoli, as well as the obvious “leaf” plants such as lettuce, spinach, chard, and kale.  When I found out that we can eat the whole plant, I was thrilled.  My kids were not.  I’m under no delusions: my present goal is not to make my kids like vegetables; that will come in time.  My goal is to convince them that they can eat a green leaf from the garden and not die.  I suppose I’m trying to convince a few of you readers as well.

Let’s do a quick science class review.  The parts of a plant?  Root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit, seed.  Depending on the plant, you can eat some or all of these parts.  Quick quiz!  Ready?

Which part can you eat from a carrot plant?
Root.  Nice work, too easy.

2014 April 003Green bean plant?
Fruit and seeds.  Excellent.  The bean is actually the seed pod (fruit) and as the pod matures, it gets thin and tough and the seeds inside become hard; these seeds are what we see in the stores as dried beans in bags or canned beans (think Baked Beans, black beans, kidney beans, etc).  Cool, huh?  This summer I’m going to plant some dried black beans from the store and see what happens.

Turnip, beet, or radish?
When it’s young, you can eat the whole plant!  Root, leaves, stem.  Once it flowers, the plant is so tough; you’d be hard pressed to choke down any part of it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you run outside and begin eating anything green in sight.  No, that would be crazy.  When you find a plant you think is edible, you should first Google it and base your consumption on unverified comments from an unqualified person on a random website.  (I’m kidding! Although that’s exactly what I did….) What I am suggesting is that you try a new vegetable this week!

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 43:19a

MAGIC BEANS! For Weight Loss

surpriseTired of snacks that don’t satisfy? Tired of spending a fortune on diet foods that don’t taste good and don’t fill you up? Try MAGIC BEANS!
MAGIC BEANS! come to you in a nifty paper packet. Simply add soil, water, and ultraviolet light to your MAGIC BEANS! and PRESTO! You’ll be snacking on MAGIC BEANS! in no time!
In a store you’d pay four dollars per pound, BUT you can grow a bushel of your own MAGIC BEANS! for less than two dollars!
Email me now and I’ll send you your very own MAGIC BEANS! for only $19.95. But wait! There’s more! If you keep reading, you’ll realize I’m full of crap!
P1010356MAGIC BEANS! are: ta ta ta taaaaa….green beans! Even if you’ve never gardened before in your life, I want you to give growing your own green beans a try this summer. Here’s why:
1. They taste better freshly picked.
2. They are SO cheap when you grow your own.
3. Beans store nitrogen in their roots as they grow; this means that they can grow in relatively awful soil. Most other veggies need good soil, but beans are hard core.
No kidding, when my husband and I bought our house ten years ago, we bought a tree and a shovel and went outside to plant it. Our soil was so hard that we had to buy a pickax to dig the hole. But the very next year we started a garden and our beans grew well.
2013 Summer 605Why am I blogging about this now? Because in a couple of weeks the weather will be gorgeous and you will have plenty of pent up energy and inspiration to do projects like prepping a small patch of dirt for your bean plants. Don’t worry, this is not turning into a gardening blog, but if you’ve never grown your own vegetables, give it a try. You’ll love them even more when you taste them home grown!
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2:8


Image of the woman loving her Magic Beans is from http://blog.shelbysystems.com/2011/07/what-reaction-are-you-looking-for/

Slurp This, Not That

P1010196Not all soup is created equal.  That’s like saying all chocolate is the same.  I extol the merits of soup and its ability to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, but I feel the need to define “soup”.  To avoid confusion and – in the spirit of this blog – to keep a positive spin on things, we’ll call good, healthy, diet-friendly soup “sexy soup” to distinguish it from all the other “soups” out there that are worse for you than an Italian hoagie.  (Note: Italian hoagies are awesome BUT I don’t recommend eating them several times a week if you want to lose weight…unless you bike the five miles to and from the hoagie shop.)

Sexy Soup IS:

Mostly vegetables and water,

Going to maintain a liquid state in the fridge and not congeal into some sort of glop,

Less than 150 calories per 1 cup serving,

Tastes so good your kids will eat it.

2013 october 010Cream of Broccoli Soup, for example, is not Sexy Soup.  If you remove the water, it’s really a block of cheese with one stem of broccoli added for color.  Have you ever seen it when it’s cold?  It’s Jello.   But if you love cheese Jello like I do, then try this trick: Cook a bunch of broccoli and mix it in, about half soup and half broccoli (and water if you need to thin it out a bit).  It won’t be quite as thick as the original, but at least it won’t be misleading to keep the word “broccoli” in the title anymore, and you’ll have calcium oozing out of your pores.2013 october 015

Canned soup is convenient, but it’s not Sexy.  Some of the soup companies have created healthy lines of soup: “100% Natural”, “Light”, “Heart Healthy” and so forth.  Not a bad idea, and these soups are on track calorie-wise, but each ONE cup serving gives you about 700 mg of sodium.  That’s 30% of the sodium you should consume in an entire day.  If they have less sodium, they add more sugar, as much as 3 teaspoons in a ONE cup serving.  I don’t add that much sugar to my coffee, and I like it sweet!

Let’s not forget the main reason we love soup: it’s a warm, comforting, delicious way to eat lots of vegetables.  Most canned soups don’t give you a lot of veggies; you usually get what you see on the label’s picture…a whole three carrot slices per can.

How do you make Sexy Soup that’s satisfying and rich without adding loads of dairy, salt, or sugar?  The trick is to make the water feel like not-water in your mouth.

Option one: when the soup is cooked, pour half of it into a blender and blend it, then return it to the pot.  Your “broth” is creamy, but there’s something left to chew.  Note: this is a great way to get veggies into kids; if they pick out the carrots they can see, they still slurp down the ones they can’t.

2013 october 014Option two: add purees.  Don’t pitch your decorative pumpkins!  Did you know that pumpkins were a vegetable before they were décor?  You can eat them!  Not after you carve them, light a candle in them, and leave them on the doorstep for a month, no, but even in November and December, an unopened pumpkin can be cooked and consumed.  Bake or microwave it, scoop out the now soft insides (not the seeds), puree it in a blender, and freeze it in little ziploc baggies to add to soups.  Purees of cauliflower, yellow summer squash, and carrot also work for Sexy Soup.2013 october 012

Option three: add potatoes or rice.  Potatoes and rice tend to thicken a broth when simmered for a while.  Just make sure most of the soup is made up of colorful plants.

Option four: cheese or milk.  If you add dairy, follow the Rule of Thumb for your veggie:fat ratio.  One thumb of fat/dairy per one hand of veggies.  Choose a strong cheese that you can taste; if a mild flavored cheese blends in too well, you may as well leave it out.

Option five: blend all of the soup and pour it into a large plastic martini glass.  Put on sunglasses, heels, and lip stick, then sit by a pool and sip it through a straw.  Sexy is as sexy eats!

“Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Daniel 1:12

Homemade Soup in Twenty Minutes

P1010166A disclaimer before we begin: if you don’t own a food processor, the only way your soup will be ready in 20 minutes is if you use pre-chopped frozen veggies or went to culinary school and earned the nickname Flash for your chopping ability.

Don’t despair!  You can still make homemade soup that is healthy, cheap, and delicious.  You just might take a little longer to get it ready.  Or you can plan ahead and chop the day before.  Or the month before and freeze little baggies of soup-ready veggies.  Or the summer before when vegetables are super cheap at the farmer’s market and you start September with three gallon sized Ziplocs full of chopped zucchini and potato and onion.  You, too, can live like medieval peasants, working from dawn ‘til dusk during the harvest season and then reaping the benefits during the long cold winter.  But I digress.

You have two options.  The first option is Clean Out the Fridge Soup, one of my favorites.  With a plethora of random leftovers, the resulting soup is different every time and you get to wash twenty little Tupperwares when you’re done.  The second option is Planned Soup where you think about it ahead of time and try to match ingredients that will go well together.

P1010196Let’s get started!

Step 1: pull out all of your vegetables and meat, especially the ones that need to be used up because they’re going bad quickly.  (Be brave, but not stupid.  Pull it out from the back of the produce drawer; if it’s less than 50% mold, you can work with it.)

Step 2: Put the soup pot on the stove and turn the burner on to medium or medium high.

Step 3: Chop up a medium onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.  Don’t worry, it’s only raw garlic that make you unkissable; you can still ask your hubby to get you to bed on time!  (See post from August 4th) When the soup pot is hot (no, don’t touch it, just let your hand hover and see if it’s hot), add some fat: oil, butter, bacon, your choice, though olive oil is the healthiest. When the fat is hot, sauté the onion and garlic for a minute.

Step 4: Chop your meat up into tiny pieces and throw it in, raw or already cooked.  Remember that you can mix your meats…one serving of meatloaf, a chicken leg, half a pork chop, etc.

4Step 5: Chop up your veggies; smaller is generally better, but go with whatever you prefer.  Sauté the veggies for a minute or two.  My dad likes to add the veggies by length of cooking required so that the garlic doesn’t burn while he waits for the carrots to cook.  He does carrots, broccoli, potatoes first and onion, pepper, garlic last.  Soup is not an exact science; figure out what works for you.

The vegetables in soup are like a contemporary music band; the right combination creates beautiful harmonies.  Onion and garlic are your lead vocals and your keyboard or guitar, water and salt/seasoning are the sound wave vibrations that your ears translate into music.  Without these, it’s just not a band. (If you’re not a fan of onion and/or garlic, you need remedial eating classes.  You can never have too much garlic!)

Celery, carrots, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale, etc are your drums.  You can make a band without it, but why bother?  If the point of soup is to give your body nutrients, don’t leave out the colored plants.

Corn, meat, okra, turnips, etc are the violins and harmonicas.  If you like them, they add a special flare to the band.  If you don’t like them, don’t add them; no harm done.

5Beets are a diva with control over the volume of her own microphone.  I like beets, but I don’t add them to soup unless I want beet soup.  You will only taste the diva.

Step 6: Add water.  Finally, right?  You boil your soup just as long as you need to in order to cook everything in it.  If you chop your ingredients small, they cook quickly.  Ten minutes should do it.  (If you add uncooked lentils or beans or rice, you just added 20-30 minutes to the recipe.  Not a bad thing to do unless you want to eat in 15 minutes.  Leftover cooked lentils or rice?  No problem!)  I add about eight cups of water.  If that feels like too much for your family, start with less.  If your soup gets crowded, you can always add more water later.

Step 7: Add the secret ingredient: salt.  I used to have trouble making soup.  At first I would throw a lot of things into a pot and serve it.  My husband got a few nasty surprises since he was generally the first one to taste it, so I started sampling dinner before dishing it.  If a soup didn’t taste right, I’d add a little of this or that or those and my husband would ask “did you add salt?”  It only took me five years to start listening to him.  Before you despair, add a little salt and taste. Add a little more and taste.  It’s very hard to take extra salt back out! If you over salt, try adding potato.

3The easiest way to do this is to add chicken bullion cubes or packets.  Bullion gives you seasoning and salt all in one easy step.  Just as with the salt, you should add one, taste.  Add one, taste.  This is also when you can add herbs, pepper, or spices.  When in doubt, let Simon and Garfunkel guide you: add “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”.  When it tastes good, soup’s done.

Now I know some of you are panicking right now!  NO recipe?  That’s ludicrous!  Anarchy won’t help me, Katie!  Calm down and start by clicking here.  It will lead you to a recipe for Potato Chicken Cheddar Soup.  Experiment when you feel comfortable.  Anarchy comes with practice!

The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for … I myself will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:23 (Taken completely out of context!)  Be courageous to change your life!