Spring is in the Soup

While shopping at Whole Foods yesterday I picked up their free magazine, Delicious Living and leafed through for some needed inspiration for dinner that night.  Yes, there it was a lovely green soup.  Yum!  Plus I only needed a few ingredients.

It was super tasty.  My son, who doesn’t eat zucchini ate two bowls.  By the way when the family asked what was in the soup, I answered “spring!”

(Next time I make it I’m going to reduce the water for a bit more texture.  For a richer soup you could substitute half milk for the water.)

Zucchini Soup with Mint from Delicious Living

This is a perfect appetizer—the last spoonful leaves you wanting more. Adding the herbs at the end protects enzymes and phytonutrients, and intensifies the soup’s flavor. For variation, substitute ¼ cup packed fresh basil for the mint and chives.

Serves 8

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium zucchini, diced (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Directions

  1. Place olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften. Add zucchini and garlic; continue stirring until vegetables soften. Add water and bouillon cubes; stir well. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Transfer to a blender and add 3 tablespoons chives and the mint. Process until smooth. Return to pot, add pepper, and reheat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chives.
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Day 3 – I am Hungry Challenge

Today was rough.  It wasn’t about not enough food, it was about not being near my food when I needed it.

First I woke up with swollen eyes.  I’m guessing because of the sodium in the canned tomatoes from the fondue from last night’s dinner.

For breakfast I had my usual oatmeal and half a banana.  Although we were running late for school, so I didn;t get to finish it.  My daughter had her yogurt, with granola and fruit.  My son had a 42 second egg and cinnamon toast.  What’s a 42 second egg?  I crack an egg into a ramekin and mix in a splash of milk, then cover with a piece of wax paper (important so it doesn’t explode all over).  This timing works for my microwave.  But you may have to adjust for yours.  It’s a great, quick way to make an egg.

My son's toast and 42 second egg

I made the school lunches.  Typical veggie, fruit, crunchy snack (here crackers) and roll up.  His is turkey and hers is hummus (remember she doesn’t eat meat).  It looks like an orange color theme today.

school lunch

My planning problem was mid day.  I dropped the kids, went for a run, got ready and went to a meeting.  I figured it would only last about an hour, so I’d grab lunch before getting the kids when I got home.  Well the meeting was with a wonderful group of people and we were talking and went over 2 hours.  During the meeting we sat down for their coffee break and they invited me to join them for birthday cake.  I turned down the cake and explained about the challenge.  At this point I was very hungry (red velvet cake smelled great), but hadn’t had lunch and even if it wasn’t the challenge the cake on an empty stomache would’ve felt bad.  Turned out I felt bad anyways – since I hadn’t eaten since 7 am.  If it weren’t for the challenge I would just stop someplace near the school (La Boulange or Whole Foods) and get a salad or sandwich and eat it leisurely.  Instead I remembered I had a Cliff Z-bar (emergency for the kids) in my purse which I ate on the way to my house because I had a horrible headache.  I think from lack of food and lack of iced tea. (I unfortunately bought unfamiliar, inexpensive tea bags and brewed it myself thinking I was prepared with hot and cold options.  But, yuck.  Too much spice and cinnamon.  I miss my Mighty Leaf and Tejava).  When I got home I had 5 minutes to use the bathroom and make a wrap (turkey, cheese, hummus, tomato) and ate it in the car on the way to pick up the kids from school.  That wasn’t until 2:20 pm.

my wrap to go

The kids were happy with their smoothie popsicles for their after school snack.

smoothie pops

Dinner was still just the kids and I.  My husband is back tonight.  We got home late from Tae Kwon Do, so I put out some of the left-over cut veggies from the fondue to ease everyone’s hunger,  while I made dinner between kids’ showers and homework.  They chose minestrone soup (Trader Joe’s from a can), tuna melts and spinach salad.  This was good and quick.  However halfway through dinner I got a horrible heartburn pain.  I actually had to take an antacid and lay down for a few minutes.  I’m guessing (and who knows?) maybe I was so hungry and ate too fast that I gave myself the gas and then heartburn.

soup and sand
spinach salad - note croutons from left-over baguette

So if I’m planning to be out and about I need to pack something for myself to eat (an apple, half a sandwich), so I’m not stuck having to come all the way home to make food.  I would usally have some raw nuts with me, but didn’t think I should splurge at $9 a pound for this week’s shopping.

 

 

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Cookbook Review – Cooking Light Comfort Food

I like comfort food.  Mac and cheese, pot pies, apple crips, meatloaf etc.  But I don’t make these foods frequently, and when I do I usually make mine on the healthier side.  It’s just how I cook.  So sometimes I was a bit surprised when reading Cooking Light Comfort Foods: Home Cooked, Delicious Classics Made Light by the nutritional information and label of “light” for a recipe that still has 10 grams of fat and 50 grams of carbs.  But most recipes give a reason why it’s lighter than the classic version which is helpful to those who fry cook, use lots of oil, full fat dairy and fatter cuts of meat.  Suppose that’s why comfort foods are so flavorful  and hearty and well loved?.  That said, there are some tasty recipes in Cooking Light’s Comfort Foods, and it never claimed to be a diet book.  So if you don’t already make these foods on the lighter side or need a new version of your grandma’s strawberry shortcake, then this is a good guide to get you cooking lighter.  I made…

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

I thought making this soup would wreck my oven.  The cooking is done in the oven rather than the stovetop like most soups.  I was quite worried the mixture would bubble and overflow on my oven bottom (I even put a pan under), but luckily it didn’t happen.  This was good as a soup with grilled cheese sandwich points, and I would even use it over pasta (and not use add milk, as shown above).  It was hearty and had a bit of a tang from the vinegar.  It was a bit spicy for my youngest.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was a classic chocolate chip cookie.  Of course best warm right out of the oven.  Nothing new here – sugar, butter, all purpose flour.  They came out nice and round and held shape rather than spreading (when using more buter).  Called for fewer chocolate chips than I’m used to, which my kids noticed, but still liked.

Buttermilk Pancakes

These were a hit.  These pancakes puffed up and cooked quite easily.  I substitute the usual syrup and butter topping with yogurt and fruit. Yum.

Overall Book Review

Pros: Foods that are classic and mainstream for all tastes.  Lighter versions of some classically guilt induced foods. Helpful nutritional information and comparisons to non light versions.  An appetizing color photo for just about every recipe.

Cons: Not as light as they could be.  Some of these recipes are pretty basic – you may feel like you’re competing with your family favorites (grandma’s secret recipes).

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A Tale of Two Feasts

Both my daughter and my son had “feasts” at school today.  My daughter is in preschool and I volunteered to do the food for the feast.  As the preschool classes get older, the teachers allow the children to choose what they’d like for their feast.  They usually pick pizza.  Not exactly what I picture in thinking of the pilgrims and native americans sharing on the original day.   However at age 3, the feast is traditional (somewhat) and there is no voting on the main menu.  I like the idea of the traditional food and so I supplied all the food for the feast.  (I won’t when it’s pizza).  The menu consisted of:

mini turkey and cheese sandwiches and roll-ups

fruit salad – some balked at the orange stuff…persimon

canberry sauce

sweet potato chips

steamed veggies and carrots with dip

oatmeal-chocolate chips cookes – which the kids made

Here’s what it looked like:

mini turkey cheese

sweet potato chips

cranberry sauce

preschool feast

I have to say it went over well.  Most kids ate something, and some even asked for seconds of fruit and sandwiches.  The kids were very proud of their handmade tablecloth, which was painted butcher paper.  So cute. 

The second “feast” of the day was at my son’s kindergarten friendship feast.  This was a clever idea.  The kids in each kindergarten class were each asked to bring an ingredient, such as onion (ours), tomatoes, stock, noodles, zucchini, etc.  Then one mom went home and made soup from the ingredients and returned with it the following day.  I knew making all the other items for feast number 1, I couldn’t make soup too.  Luckily someone else volunteered, but I did offer to make pumpkin muffins to accompany.  Here they are:

pumpkin ginger muffins

 

All four kindergarten classes ate soup together with teachers and some families and siblings.  Each class had made their own version of turkey hats and leaf placemats, which they were proud to bring home after.  The soup and muffins were appreciated and eaten.  Here’s a picure of my son and daughter sitting together.  The teacher is so sweet and treats her like one of the kindergartners.  After just coming from her feast, I was surpirsed to see she ate more than some of my son’s friends.

kindergarten feast

I must say with all these feast preparations, shopping, cooking, packing and clean up, I’m going to need to find some energy for the real feast on Thurs.  I’ll keep you posted…

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