This weekend I made the most amazing, simple soup and it reminded me of all the little things I do day-to-day to¬†help me feel in control of my diet. Before we go any further let me establish I despise the word “diet” when used to represent calorie restriction for a short period of time solely for the purpose of losing weight.
Instead I use it to simply mean “what I eat,” which I happen to take fairly seriously. I say fairly¬†because¬†I am a fan of moderation and balance — I know, I know two overused, eye roll-inducing words, but it’s true! ¬†I try my best to be intuitive and focus on¬†nutritious¬†foods¬†as much as possible because I feel better when I do.
That doesn’t mean ¬†I drool over bulgar instead of brownies or crave chard instead of chocolate. Sometimes I have to¬†trick myself¬†into eating better, and you ¬†know my family’s eating habits by now. They aren’t always down with my mission to eat healthier either, but¬†I’ve learned a¬†few¬†easy and subtle changes¬†that do make a difference¬†(which, do dare I say¬†are very¬†#wycwyc¬†<– I wrote a book in case you didn’t know) over the years. These are simple things I do¬†all the time now without even realizing it.
1. Spice From Scratch
I do my best to make my spice mixes from scratch. I know there are prepackaged spice packets,¬†but when I read the ingredients, especially the sodium content, I’m like, whoa!
I’d much rather keep a pantry full of simple, base spices that I can make a variety of seasonings from. I can control the amount of salt I use and have fun experimenting and¬†customize my dishes. Some¬†spices even have health benefits¬†we forget about.
2. Do it Yourself¬†Dressings
You have to watch dressings just like you watch spice mixes. Instead of the traditional store-bought stuff I’ll keep the basics in my pantry (oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Just Mayo by¬†Hampton Creek, honey, maple syrup, etc.) and just have fun making dressings to match whatever I’m in the mood for that day.
3. Sneak Your Veggies
I say “sneak” but my kids know I’m¬†all about the vegetables¬†so I don’t really keep it a secret.¬†I really just mean include as many veggies as you can in dishes you may otherwise not consider, ¬†like¬†bulking chili with zucchini and/or eggplant.¬†I also put veggies in sauces, add mushrooms to ground beef, and I never make pizza without a sprinkling of chopped baby spinach– my kids are so used to it they think spinach is an herb like parsley.
4.¬†Cash in on Convenience
When I think of “convenience food” I generally think of pre-packaged meals, drive-thus and protein bars, but did you know your grocery store’s produce department probably has a whole host of fresh “convenience items” like precut ¬†fruit and vegetables.
That’s what I picked up to make my soup this weekend because there was no way I was coming home from the beach and hacking at a huge butternut. I just didn’t have the time or energy. Instead I bought this…
A 32-ounce package of precut butternut squash. I combined it with a handful of simple ingredients and have been enjoying some delicious Butternut Ginger Soup ever since.
Here’s what I did…
- 2 small yellow onions
- 9 oz (907g) cut butternut squash
- Chunk of fresh ginger, cut into pieces (30g)
- 1 cup of chicken broth (or more if you like a thinner soup)
- 1 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk
Heat a large soup pot and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Cook the onion with a pinch of salt until it starts to brown.
Add the squash with another pinch of salt and toss. Let it cook and caramelize for a minute then toss again. Repeat this process 5 or 6 times just to bring out a bit more flavor.
Add the ginger and toss.
Add the broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil then lower to simmer and cover. Continue to cook until the squash is tender, approximately 30 minutes.
Use an immersion blender or transfer to a standing blender and puree.
Now you can enjoy as is but I topped my first serving with some leftover shrimp and dried cilantro.
It was delicious!
Since then I’ve also eaten it with leftover pork and ground turkey. I’m not sure there’s a portion that doesn’t go with this soup!
It’s super light, too.
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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by¬†Hampton Creek. All opinions, photos and the recipe idea are my own.¬†