Friday, December 5, 2014

Healthy Vegetable Soup

Yum
This soup is one of my secret weapons for managing my weight. Also, it tastes really yummy and freezes well.


Healthy Vegetable Soup

I wish I didn't need to think about managing my weight, and that it was easy to stay within my healthy range. But I do have to work at it, and it isn't always easy. I have tried many different diets in the past and found them to be frustrating experiences that had me focused on the wrong things (i.e. what I couldn't have, how hungry I was, what special food I needed to buy, etc.). The thing that finally worked for me was calorie awareness, which is different than counting each and every calorie. I just try to ballpark it and stay around 1500 calories a day (I am a short female, so my daily limit sounds low, but it works for me).

When I first started counting calories, I used myfitnesspal, which is a great app. I still use it from time to time to check in on my nutritional stats. I am interested in my intake of iron, calcium, protein, and sugar....as in not too much sugar :-) I like the data and find it to be a useful checkpoint to decide if I want to tweak anything.

When I went vegan almost five years ago, I thought it would be the end of dieting forever. Vegans are thin glowing people, right? Maybe some are, but I sure wasn't. I gained weight after going completely vegan, because it turns out I can eat a lot of brown rice with olive oil. Seriously, the idea that all the veggies, fruits and whole grains would fill me up and send that appropriate signal of satiation to my brain did not materialize for me. I love vegan food, so my signal was more like "go ahead and eat up all this awesome vegan nutritious deliciousness".... which resulted in a 10 - 15 pound weight gain before I decided to rethink my approach.

Being aware of my caloric intake works for me and I am now able to stay closer to a weight that is healthy for me. I found throughout this process that all calories are not equal. I can have a vegan glazed doughnut from Voodoo Doughnuts (and I often do), and I estimate one to be around 300 calories. This fits in my 500 calorie per meal framework, but I know I will be hungry soon after and maybe feel a little sluggish. I can also have a bowl of oatmeal with some soy milk, agave, and chia seeds for around 226 calories. I can add a handful of nuts to reach that same 300 calorie mark, and know that I will stay full longer and feel more energetic.

So, I have learned that I feel better when I choose foods that are wholesome and that will keep me full. I have also found that I don't do hunger well at all, and I would rather eat a lot of nutritious food as opposed to a small taste of more decadent foods. For example, I would rather eat a bag of carrots than a bite of a brownie simply because I find it more satisfying....that's just me.

Back in my crazier dieting days, I tried the cabbage soup diet. I could never make it through the three days of only eating the soup...but I did like the soup. Now I incorporate a similar nourishing vegetable soup as part of my stay slim; but not hungry plan. I like to start a meal with a bowl of this soup as it is filling but low calorie. I find it helps me ward off hunger and it fits into my wholesome and filling eating plan.

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp minced celery leaves
2 carrots, diced
*1 dried shiitake mushroom, ground (I used my coffee grinder, you could also chop it very fine)
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
6 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable boullion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste (I am loving fresh ground pink peppercorn lately!)

*The mushroom is optional, but adds another layer of flavor if you want to try it. Also, soups are very forgiving so feel free to adapt and throw in whatever veggies you have on hand that sound good to you.

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium-low in a soup pan, and then add the onions and garlic and cook them down for about 5-7 minutes to let them start to soften. Add the celery, celery leaves, and carrots to the pan and stir. Let that cook for 5 minutes more and then add the nutritional yeast, ground shiitake, and the spices (thyme, basil, and oregano). Stir that together and then add the chopped cabbage. Cover with 6 cups of water and let simmer for 20 minutes. Once the veggies have softened, add the bullion, parsley, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

For 8 servings. Nutritional information from caloriecount.about.com

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 265 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
36
Calories from Fat
6
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
0.7g
1%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
313mg
13%
Potassium
177mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates
7.1g
2%
Dietary Fiber
2.0g
8%
Sugars
2.9g
Protein
1.1g
Vitamin A 56%Vitamin C 36%
Calcium 4%Iron 3%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

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