Carrot Fennel Soup

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Last, but certainly not least, is most definitely my favorite of the 3 soups. I made this the other night to take some pictures for this post so my husband and I ate it for dinner. We both kept commenting on how good it really is, almost as if it's crazy that these ingredients make this much awesomeness!

For those of you asking, "what is fennel", I will give you the low down. Fennel is a whitish bulb with greenish stalks coming from it, as seen in the picture below. It is crunchy and a little sweet and smells like licorice. It is in the same family as carrots, parsley, dill and coriander. Fennel is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, phosphorus and folate. It also contributes some iron, magnesium, calcium and niacin.

I first had this soup at a dinner party with some great friends. Our friend, Annie, said she was going to bring a carrot soup to have with dinner that night. Seriously? Carrot soup? Cue eye roll. Let's just say I was less than excited to try, let alone eat, carrot soup with dinner. I admit wholeheartedly that I was way too quick to judge the soup by its title. I should also never doubt her taste in food (or wine!). It was delicious and I knew it was a recipe I needed. So, I found a similar recipe and have adapted it a bit, which is what I'll give you today. Trust me, don't judge this soup by the title!

I've made this soup as a first course for Thanksgiving, to go with pizza for a family gathering and for an easy weeknight meal. The color is absolutely gorgeous and it's fancy enough to wow dinner guests or to have with your holiday meal. The flavors work so well together and the creaminess is so rich and satisfying. This can also easily be a vegetarian/vegan recipe by using vegetable broth instead of chicken.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, hard core in center removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 t minced garlic
  • 32 ounces vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk, full fat or reduced fat (can sub whole milk or heavy cream)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In large sauce pot bring carrots, fennel, garlic and broth to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes to soften vegetables.
  2. Add coconut milk and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Alternatively you can blend veggies with some of the liquid in a blender until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I truly hope you will give this delicious soup a try. I think it will knock your socks off! This is a soup that can take your dinner party, holiday meal or even your weeknight dinner to the next level.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Lin

White Bean Soup

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This soup is another one of our family favorites that we've been making for years. It's not real pretty but it's so delicious! It is nice and thick and full of great flavors. I've made so many different variations of this recipe but the simple base is really just good on its own. I like this soup as an alternative to chili because the tomato juice and spices are hard on my stomach. Sometimes I will make this with some ground turkey or turkey sausage in it and crumbled cornbread on top. Yum!

This is an easy vegetarian/vegan recipe, hello "meatless Monday".  The beans are a great source of iron, fiber, protein and potassium. It is also a very cheap recipe if you are looking to make your grocery budget go farther. You can easily make a larger batch of this soup for a crowd by using 1 cup of liquid per can of beans. Also feel free to use a little water in place of the stock to reduce sodium. Lots of options, people.

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced

  • 1/2 cup celery, diced

  • 1/4-1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

  • 1 t minced garlic

  • 24 ounces vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you prefer)

  • 3 (15 ounce) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed

  • black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.

  2. Add diced carrots and cook for about 3 minutes to soften. Add onion and celery and cook another 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

  3. Add broth and beans to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

  4. With a potato masher, mash a good amount of the beans to thicken soup. Alternatively you could blend part of the soup in a blender and return to pot.

  5. Serve with cracked pepper on top. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this soup and can add it in to your easy weeknight routine. There are definitely lots of options if you want to jazz it up a bit like adding meat, some different spices or throwing your cornbread right on top.

Feel free to comment if you have a different variation that you love or with your go-to weeknight soup.

Lin

 

Sausage Potato and Kale Soup

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Fall is definitely my favorite season and it is finally fall here in Kansas City. Two of our son's birthdays are in the fall as well as our wedding anniversary, which we will celebrate 10 years this year. I love the change in weather, the color change of the leaves and the change in my regular menu. We love some delicious soup at our house, with cornbread of course. Soups are easy, versatile, can pack in a lot of great nutrition and make great leftovers. I can't wait to share with you 3 of our favorites over the next few posts.

This first one, sausage potato and kale soup, is one we definitely all agree on but our 8 y/o goes nuts for it. He will eat 3 full-sized bowls in one sitting, no problem. Leftovers are double delish, btw!

Funny story...  I was making this soup at my Mom's a few years ago and made it early enough to let it sit for a while before dinner. I gave my son a small bowl to "taste test" since it's his fave. My Mom asked him how the soup was and he said "this is damn good soup". He was probably 4 years old and I have never laughed so hard, of course while trying to tell him not to say that word. My Mom still talks about that story and we now call sausage potato and kale soup the "damn good soup". I think you will too!

Here is the recipe:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of your favorite ground sausage (you could sub ground turkey cooked with some seasonings)

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

  • 1 t minced garlic

  • 6 medium-sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (more or less depending on how thick you want the soup)

  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and shredded - about 2 cups (or more because, hey, it's kale)

  • 32oz good quality chicken stock

  • 8oz water

Directions:

  1. Cook sausage in separate pan until done. Set aside

  2. In large pot heat olive oil over medium heat.

  3. Add diced onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

  5. Add broth, water and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.

  6. Lightly mash potatoes with masher in pot to thicken soup. You can also use a blender if preferred. (You don't want the potatoes to be totally mashed or left in large chunks).

  7. Add in sausage and kale and simmer until kale is wilted, about 10 minutes.

  8. Top with a little cracked pepper and enjoy!

This has been one of our go-to soups for years now. It is very hearty and makes great leftovers, if you have any. I hope you enjoy this sausage potato and kale soup as much as we do.

Lin

 

 

Sleep Well, Be Well

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It's wellness Wednesday. At least that's what I'm calling today for the sake of this post. Wellness can be defined many ways but it is basically the overall state of physical, mental and social well-being. It includes more than just eating eggs, drinking green smoothies and building muscles. It is your overall health and wellbeing.

A lot of us are working really hard on our wellness but one area that may get overlooked is our sleep. Sleep is so important for many aspects of our health and wellbeing.

I recently had many days in a row where I didn't sleep well, and that is very unusual for me. I would either toss and turn all night or wake up way too early and couldn't go back to sleep. I couldn't believe how bad I felt when it started to catch up with me. It was hard for me to focus, I had zero patience, and was just really moody. Don't ever go on a 3rd grade field trip when you haven't slept for days!

Here are some other reasons to make sleep a priority, according to the NIH:

  1. Decreased sleep increases ghrelin (hormone that makes your feel hungry) and decreases leptin (hormone that makes you feel full). So lack of sleep can make you feel hungrier.
  2. Sleep deficiency can decrease your immune system function.
  3. Studies show that decreased sleep in teens can increase the risk of obesity.
  4. Ongoing sleep problems can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease because it is important for healing and repair of blood vessels and the heart.
  5. A good night's sleep can improve learning and enhance problem solving skills. Sleep is good for the brain!
  6. Sleep helps support growth and development of children and teens.

How much sleep do we need? Most sources say that 7-9 hours is optimal for adults. There are increased risks with more and less sleep. Children and teens need even more than that.

Here are some tips for better sleep habits:

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  1. Be consistent. Try to get on a bed time/wake up schedule as much as possible. Consistency might help with your sleep-wake cycle.
  2. Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Just don't exercise right before bed.
  3. Manage your stress! Easier said than done, I know, but going to bed with a million things on your mind doesn't help you sleep. Jot down your worries for tomorrow, meditate or try the "legs up the wall" yoga pose to clear your mind.
  4. Reduce blue light exposure at night, which comes from electronics. It can trick your brain into thinking it's still daytime and can reduce melatonin, which helps you sleep.
  5. Avoid caffeine late in the day. It can decrease the ability to relax at night.
  6. Try drinking kefir before bed. It contains the amino acid tryptophan, which can help you sleep. It's also great for gut health! Click here for more info on kefir.
  7. Diffuse lavender essential oil at bed time. Lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure potentially making the body more relaxed.

Sleep is really essential for our overall health and wellbeing. Don't underestimate its importance! If you are one of the many that have trouble sleeping, hopefully some of these tips can help you.

Happy sleeping!

Lin

 

Real Talk

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I have been into listening to podcasts lately, mostly nutrition and health related with some motivational ones thrown in there, and I love them! It's hard for me to sit down to read because I get bored and fall asleep quickly. Truth! I can listen to podcasts while I'm driving, cooking, walking or getting ready, which works great for me. I listened to one today called RealTalk RD, which gave me the idea for this post. She broke down articles and other topics with another RD. I will probably be doing more like this because I have a few RealTalk topics I'd like to put out there.

So, can we talk about diet, diets and dieting? I haven't really talked about this on the blog yet but I've been suffering from disordered eating for a while now. My disordered eating includes constantly thinking/obsessing about food, falling victim to dieting, and considering self-worth based on my weight and body size. I really don't know when all of this started but it has gradually gotten worse the last few years and I am so ready to deal with it so I can live my life again.

Whew, that is a lot to admit to a lot of people I don't know. But it's important to know that everyone has their own struggles, and yes, even Dietitians. Hopefully this can help someone else going through the same thing. Anyway, since starting my blog in April, I've been following more Dietitians on social media and listening to podcasts as I mentioned and I am loving all of the anti-diet stuff out there right now. Other hot topics are intuitive eating and HAES, which is the health at every size movement.

We've known for a long time that diets don't work, yet we still get fooled into trying them, myself included. Has anyone dieted with success but then gained all the weight back after stopping, maybe even more weight? We "starve" our bodies of calories and/or nutrients it needs so when the diet is done our bodies overcompensate to prepare for another starvation. And the cycle continues.

What might even be worse is what it does to us mentally. The yo-yo dieting, restricting foods that we love, giving up social events to not slip up, and working out so hard to burn what we eat is really taxing on our mental state and happiness. Not to mention that it can affect hormones, metabolism and stress levels. Increased stress does not help you lose weight!

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You will see me mention Whole30 in some of my posts because my husband and I completed it last year. I thought it was going to help me figure out my digestive issues and maybe help me lose a little weight. After all it is a "short-term nutrition reset", not a diet, right?

We made it through, I felt pretty good and lost 5 pounds. I gained those 5 pounds back within probably 3-4 months. What I really noticed was that I was starting to label foods as good and bad based on whether they fit into the Whole30. I would get mad at myself for eating the "bad" foods when I obviously could do better. Then when I felt like I was getting out of control with my eating or my weight I would try to do a week of Whole30 again. It was really bad for me mentally and for my self-esteem.

I am working on loving my body and listening to my body when it comes to eating. I am trying to live a lifestyle that works for me, my 4ever healthy lifestyle, which includes a lot of foods that are good for my body and some foods that are good for my soul. I am also working on listening to my body when it comes to exercise and take a break when I need it and stretch more when I need it. I am not perfect and won't ever be but what is perfect, really?

Let's throw diets and the diet mentality out the window because our bodies deserve better than that. Let's love ourselves so we can better love each other. Thanks for the real talk!

Lin