Warming Up to Watercress Soup

Diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2006, I make every effort to incorporate thyroid-nourishing foods into my diet.

While I enjoy or can tolerate eating most of the iodine-rich foods, I struggle with watercress. Its pungency doesn't sit well with my fussy taste buds.

While stocking up on spinach and parsley last week, I noticed the watercress. On a whim, I picked up one of the bunches and some sweet potatoes. I experimented and came up with the following recipe.


Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
4 cups of chicken/vegetable stock
1.5 cups of watercress
1/4 cup of parsley
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

1. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft.

2. Add the sweet potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

3. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

4. Add the watercress and parsley. Stir and let the mixture simmer for about one minute or until the greens have wilted.

5. Remove from heat and purée the soup in batches using a hand or immersion blender.

6. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper (to taste).

7. Sprinkle hemp hearts into the individual bowls.

Makes 4 servings, about one cup each.

Buon appetito!


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Enjoying Sweet & Savory Asparagus Soup

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that asparagus possessed medicinal qualities, curing everything from toothaches to rheumatism.

While none of these claims have been proven, asparagus contains many essential nutrients, among them potassium, folate, and Vitamins B6 and C.

Last week, I decided to create an asparagus soup that would satisfy my sweet and savory taste buds.


Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of asparagus, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
3 cups of chicken/vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the asparagus , sweet potato, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

3. Simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

4. Purée the soup in batches using a hand or immersion blender.

5. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper (to taste).

6. Sprinkle hemp hearts into the individual bowls.

Makes 4 servings, about one cup each.

Buon appetito!


Adding a Touch of Gold to Celery Soup

During chemotherapy, I found myself unable to tolerate a host of foods, among them coffee, meat, fish, cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salad dressings, citrus fruits, and all cooked vegetables.

So, what could I eat?

Plain Eggo waffles without syrup, roasted chicken, white bread, some luncheon meats, white rice, apples, pears, carrots, and celery.

I was especially fond of celery, a preference that has remained in life abc (after breast cancer). I love munching on the stalks and tossing them into casseroles, stuffings, and soups. Almost every soup I make has at least one celery rib.

Last week, I decided to make celery the primary vegetable. While researching celery soups, I discovered that most of them included potatoes or cauliflower. The final results appeared a bit too pale and unappetizing for my taste. I experimented and came up with this golden alternative.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 cups of fresh celery, chopped
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of baby carrots, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (include stems)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft.

2. Add garlic cloves and cook for a minute before adding celery, stock, carrots, water, and parsley. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

3. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the celery and carrots are soft enough to be puréed.

4. Purée the soup in the pot using an immersion blender. Or remove the soup from the pot and purée in a blender.

5. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper (to taste).

6. Sprinkle hemp hearts into each individual bowl.

Makes 4 servings, about one cup each.

Buon appetito!


Warming Up with Broccoli Soup

A piping hot bowl of soup is my favorite way to incorporate vegetables into my diet. I especially like puréed, low-starch vegetable soups that are quick and easy-to prepare.

Puréed broccoli soup is at the top of my list.

Considered one of the most nutritious vegetables–and often described as a superfood–broccoli is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

This daily bowl of comfort helped me survive (and somewhat thrive) during this past week of frigid temperatures, record snowfalls, and dangerously low windchill factors in Southern Ontario.

On Wednesday, I thought we’d reach a windchill of -40 degrees Celsius. At that point Celsius and Fahrenheit meet…something my well-honed left brain finds fascinating. But only in theory!!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped (include stems)
4 cups of chopped broccoli (florets and stems)
2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup water
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

1. Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft.

2. Add garlic and celery. Cook until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Add parsley and stir for about ten seconds.

4. Add broccoli, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Test to see that the vegetables are tender.

5. Transfer the soup (in batches) to a blender and purée until smooth. Or you can use an immersion blender.

6. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Optional: Sprinkle hemp hearts into individual bowls.

Makes 4 servings, about one cup each.

Buon appetito!


Free…And One by Me!

Treat yourself to our favorite holiday baking–brownies, bars and squares; cakes and cupcakes; crisps and cobblers; fruit desserts and compotes; pies and tarts; icings and frostings–all from the kitchens of The Wild Rose Press authors.

I’m happy to share my recipe for Zucchini Cake on page 64

Happy Holidays!



Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

Celebrate this National Day by treating yourself to a cookie (or more) containing those tasty bits of chocolate. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy recipe, try this family favorite from my mother’s kitchen.

Ingredients

14 ounces brown sugar
14 ounces white sugar
1 pound Crisco
7 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips
7 cups Monarch flour
Dash of Salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cover the bottoms of cookies sheets with aluminum foil.
3. Beat sugar and Crisco.
4. Add eggs and continue beating.
5. Add flour and continue beating.
6. Add the remaining ingredients and continue beating.
7. Shape into balls and drop on cookie sheets.
8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy!


Rebecca’s Power of 10 List…This is NOT a Diet!

I’m happy to welcome author Rebecca Marino to the Power of 10 series. Today, Rebecca shares ten rules for losing weight and her latest release, The Drive.

Here’s Rebecca!

(Disclosure—I am NOT a health professional or a dietician. I’m a teacher/author who loves to eat chocolate and peanut butter.)

April rolled around in Indiana after a snowy winter. In one week the high temperature changed from 31F to 68F. Time for a drastic wardrobe change. I pulled several pairs of shorts from my closet and not one pair fit comfortably…My favorite pair were impossible to get into. I finally squeezed into last summer’s ‘loose shorts’ and decided I really needed to do something. Diet??? UGH!


I had all kinds of excuses…

• I’m a preschool teacher and work five days a week
• I’m an author and have been doing a lot of sitting while writing and revising two books
• I hit the golden age of 50 in February
• I run two to three times a week…isn’t that enough?
• I found some REALLY yummy dessert recipes on Pinterest that I just had to try–(and eat the entire batch)

There are more excuses too embarrassing to mention…

BUT, not only was I unable to zip my FAVORITE pair of shorts…I couldn’t squeeze into 90% of my shorts. I jumped on the scale and my eyes bulged almost as big as my protruding gut….I had gained 10 pounds in the past 6 months.

I HAD to do something about this because I couldn’t bear to place my favorite shorts in the Goodwill pile!

I turned to the internet and Googled every diet and exercise program I could find. Everything was commercialized…buy this food…buy this book…buy this exercise program…Diet and exercise is EXPENSIVE! The before and after pictures were encouraging, yet every success story had a small print disclosure stating, ”These results are not typical.”

Hours later I decided to not ‘diet’. I had watched a ‘Good Eats’ by Alton Brown episode a few years back about how he lost weight without being on a ‘diet’. He lost 50 pounds by changing the way he ate…without totally giving up sweets and carbs.

I LOVE bread and I LOVE chocolate and I LOVE peanut butter. Giving those foods up completely was not an option. I knew if I wanted to wear my shorts again I’d need to severely limit my intake of those precious commodities.

I also researched exercising and found out when you exercise is important for weight loss. The best time to exercise to burn fat is first thing in the morning BEFORE you eat. I didn’t increase my running (two to three times a week) because the research showed the best workouts for weight loss were NOT running…they were High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Strength Training. I decided to include a short Tabata workout (The Seven Minute workout on Youtube) and 25 minutes of strength training three times a week.

With a lot of will power and the following 10 rules…I changed my eating habits with the goal to lose those ten pounds. Here’s my POWER OF TEN list…Remember…this is NOT a diet!

1) Eat oatmeal for breakfast. Not the little package kind. Straight oats with water and a dash of cinnamon and almond or vanilla extract. I either cook it on the stove or microwave it. It’s not the tastiest breakfast, but it keeps me full.

2) Eat a mid-morning snack, a mid-afternoon snack, and an evening snack in addition to three small meals. Snacks I choose included: a protein shake (easy to drink at preschool) or a plain rice cake with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, or a handful of almonds or walnuts, or carrot sticks and humus, or a half cup of plain Greek yogurt, or an apple, or a piece of deli turkey wrapped in a piece of cheese, or any fresh green veggie.

3) Eat as much fresh green vegetables as possible during your six meals/snacks. Spinach, Kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, etc.

4) Drink a gallon of water every day. This one is REALLY hard. Most days I didn’t drink the entire gallon…but I found if I carry a water bottle around I come close to drinking a gallon.

5) No snacking in between the three meals and three snacks. AND no eating after 9:00 pm.

6) No added sugar. Read the labels. If sugar is an added ingredient…don’t eat it.

7) No high carbohydrate foods. (Oatmeal, brown rice, and ancient grains like quinoa are slow burning carbs—GOOD. Bread, potatoes, pasta, basically anything with flour in it—NOT GOOD).

8) Limit fresh fruit to one serving per day. Fresh fruit has a lot of natural sugar in it. Berries are the best with the lowest amount of natural sugar.

9) Treat yourself! Eat two servings of bread OR pasta each week…not per day… Two servings per week. That means one bun and one small cup of macaroni in seven days.

10) Treat yourself! Eat dessert once a week or alcohol once a week…make it worth it and keep the proportion small. Desserts taste so much better when you only have one a week!

During the first week I was shocked that I wasn’t hungry. Yes, I missed sweets and breads and potatoes at first, but quickly noted my energy levels had gone up instead of down. The water and the veggies really helped me feel full all day. I even had a hard time remembering to eat my healthy snacks three times a day.

After seven days…I got on the scale…I had lost 5 pounds! My shorts still didn’t fit, but the weight loss gave me some serious motivation to continue.

After three weeks…I remained at a 5 pound loss….UGH! At first I was very frustrated BUT….my shorts were beginning to feel MUCH looser!

After four weeks…I had lost 7 pounds and my shorts were zipping without me taking huge deep breaths!

After six weeks…I remain at the weight loss of 7 pounds…but ALL of my shorts fit comfortably!

I’m very happy after nine weeks….despite remaining at a 7 pound total weight loss. I’ve talked to a registered dietician and she noted my 3 extra pounds is probably added muscle from working out. I lost the fat but gained muscle which helps my body burn fat around the clock—even while I’m sitting. Cool!

Did I ever cheat? You betcha! I had two desserts one week (chocolate brownie and fresh strawberry short cake) I also ate a piece of yummy bread at a restaurant before I ate my grilled shrimp, broccoli, and green beans. I’d remind myself, “It’s okay to cheat once in a while, just don’t make it a habit.”

I accomplished my goal of fitting into my clothes without losing all ten pounds and that is OKAY because I feel new strength in my arms from the muscle I developed. My biggest takeaway is my new awareness of ingredients in the foods I’ve eaten mindlessly for so long. With a little preparation and planning I eat more foods that are healthier and make me feel better.

Plus, I learned how to eat to feel full, yet remain in moderation without completely giving up chocolate and peanut butter. Now that is sweet!

Here’s my favorite snack.

5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

2/3 cup peanut butter (I use natural crunchy)
½ cup Hershey dark chocolate chips
1 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup ground flax seed
2 Tablespoons honey

Combine all 5 ingredients in a bowl. Stir. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to make it easier to roll. Roll into 12 bites and store in a zip baggie in the fridge for up to a week. (I use my small cookie scoop which makes 16 smaller bites.)

I found this recipe at ChefSavvy

I LOVE to try new recipes and read mystery/thrillers so feel free to share your favorites in the comments below. Thanks, Joanne for hosting me today!
Keep reading, writing, and indulging (every once in a while).

Blurb

Three last words…Trust No One.

Kasey Carter’s life changes forever when a mysterious flash drive arrives on her doorstep. Three people with connections to the drive are soon murdered. With evidence in hand, the police and FBI quickly close each case.

A year later, Kasey finds the drive hidden, along with a note from her husband. ‘Deliver this to FBI Agent Dylan Rogers. Trust no one.’ Within hours of contacting Rogers, she finds herself on the run from an organized crime ring, the police, and the FBI.

Who can she trust?

A heart-pounding, action-packed tale of nail-biting suspense that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

buynow

Free on Kindle ~ Wednesday, June 20 – Friday, June 22

Ms. Marino has crafted a riveting thriller filled with nail-biting suspense, multiple murders, romantic tension, and plot twists. I was impressed by the descriptive detail, heart-pounding and action-packed scenes, and smooth handling of multiple POVs. I strongly recommend setting aside large blocks of uninterrupted reading time. You won’t be able to put down this gripping page-turner.

Next, please!

Bio

Rebecca Marino is a preschool teacher, author, and mom of three, almost-grown kids (four if you count my husband of 26 years). I read and write suspense novels and children’s picture books while eating chocolate and peanut butter.

My novel, THE DRIVE is a Suspense Thriller, taking readers on a non-stop ride full of mystery, murder, and unexpected twists from the very first page.

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