Eat Your Vegetables!

2 Nov

And it starts. Holiday season.

It’s pretty much the norm to expect to gain 5-10 pounds between the months of October and January. That fact kind of freaks me out. I used to be 20 pounds heavier just five years ago, and it took me a long, difficult time to get myself out of the overweight category. I feel great about myself now and I’m in good shape, but it takes hard work and discipline, both of which tend to wane during the holidays. I feel like I’m being teased/tested everywhere with all the Christmas cookies and pumpkin pies and other baked goods, and everyone makes so much food that you’re obliged to go for seconds.

I’d like to try getting out of this holiday season without a gut. It’ll be a tough start to what I’m hoping is a lifetime of continued healthy eating, an upping of the ante from my current habits. I’m trying to make bad habits into good ones, and good habits into better ones. A book I recently read that inspired me, and I know will help me along the way, is Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, which I highly recommend for anyone remotely interested in food and/or health. It’s a fairly short book, the entirety of which is a simple list of rules for practicing healthy eating. It’s difficult to remember them all, but essentially, the guidelines for better eating habits can be narrowed to just a few.

One of the most important Food Rules for me: Eat more vegetables.

It’s taken awhile for me to go from being a vegetable-phobe to one who must always include them in at least one meal a day. The part I’m currently working is the MORE part – I don’t always make vegetables the main entrée of my lunches or dinners, but to be healthier, they should be. There are very few that I absolutely loathe and will not touch (cauliflower) but most I will eat because I know they’re good for me (carrots, broccoli) and some I absolutely love (onions, peppers, tomatoes, squash of any kind).

And when I find a dish that comprises of vegetables and a few other simple ingredients and is quick and super easy to make, there’s a total win in my book. It may not be enough to fulfill an entire meal requirement, but this butternut squash soup is certainly a delicious side to complement baked or roasted chicken, a hearty salad, or a sandwich. Or, as it was for me, serves as a healthy alternative to reaching for the blue boxed macaroni and cheese after happy hour. It’s not a replacement, because I do love me some macaroni and powdered cheese product. But the soup was filling without being heavy, and just as tasty. And, appropriate for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, this works great as a starter for the big Turkey Day meal.

Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients**

  • 1 – 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded (I had a large carton of pre-peeled, seeded and cut butternut squash that can be found near the pre-packaged vegetables in the produce section).
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock (I prefer low-sodium stock, as it’s healthier. I actually had 2 cups of brown chicken stock and about 2 cups of chicken broth on hand, so I just used both and it tasted fine. But using only stock may make the soup richer and fuller).
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish, like créme fraiche, thyme or parmesan cheese (which is what I used)

Directions

If not cut already, cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot, melt butter. Add onion, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes (this took closer to 20 for me). Take the pot off the heat and let cool a few minutes.  Remove squash from the pot with a spoon and put them into a blender, then carefully pour the rest of the broth (including the onions) into the blender.** (You may need to do this in batches depending on how big or small your blender is and how much soup you’re making). Puree until the mixture is smooth, or use an immersion blender if you have one and puree right in the pot. Pour the soup back into the pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.

*Food Networks’ website calls for larger amounts: 2-3 pounds squash, 1 whole medium onion, and 6 cups of chicken stock. I didn’t have as much and was too lazy to hit up the grocery store, so I adjusted the portions to what was in my fridge

** Food Network has you pureeing only the squash separately from the broth, and then adding the pureed squash back into the pot. I figured I’d just blend it all together, but definitely try FN’s method and see what you like best.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Eat Your Vegetables!”

  1. Sheridan November 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Great post! Have you read any of Michael Pollan’s other books? I love how much he supports eating a more local, plant-based diet 🙂

    • TheNoviceNosher November 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

      Thanks Sheridan! I haven’t yet read any of his other books but they’re in my Amazon queue!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: