Sunday, January 24, 2016

Slim Down Vegetable Soup

Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you're well :) So one week ago today, I decided to go sugar-free for the next 28 days. After I got sick a couple of years ago, I cut down my sugar intake considerably, but I never completely cut it out of my diet (partially because I bake so much!).
The truth is, though I DO love sugar, I love healthy food too! If you were to have come to my house last weekend, before I threw out the processed stuff, you'dve seen a counter and fridge full of fruits and vegetables! ...however, if this was a panoramic view of the kitchen, you'd also have seen some iced lemon cookies and some apricot-raspberry thumbprint cookies. Soo.... yeah. Haha! What can I say? I like balance.

Anyway, the good news is: I've lost NINE POUNDS since I started last week! I'm eating less food, and I'm eating better-for-me food (veggie-packed protein shakes for breakfast and lunch and then a healthy dinner). I'm also drinking a lot more water than usual.
The most challenging part of this whole experience has been when I get home after work in the evenings! I always want to snack on something! There are some days that I snack all night rather than eating a proper dinner. Also, since my preference is sweets, it's been hard not to follow up my healthy meals with something sweet! But I know that my body is loving the benefits, and I feel good. Moderation is key, and I know myself well enough to know that I won't stop at just ONE cookie--so it's better not to start at all!

This soup, adapted from Averie at AverieCooks, is helping me pack in the veggies, and it's high in iron, fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B, and C, which assist in the weight loss and detox process! Filled to the brim with goodness like squash, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, and more, this soup is a great choice to warm you up on a chilly January day, and will feel so good!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 medium/large yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, trimmed, and diced small
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled, trimmed, and sliced thin (about 1 1/2 large carrots)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (baby portobello, white, or your favorite)
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can petite-diced tomatoes
  • 115-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, (optional; you can also use kidney beans, garbanzo beans, or omit them altogether)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups zucchini or squash, diced small (about 1 1/2 large zucchini)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, optional (brightens up the flavor)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add onion; saute until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring intermittently.

Add the peppers, carrots, and mushrooms, and sauté for another 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, optional beans bay leaf, and spices, and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil gently for about 5 minutes.

Add zucchini, squash, and optional lemon juice, and boil 3 to 5 minutes, or until zucchini  and squash are crisp-tender. Remove bay leaves. Taste the soup and season to taste; serve immediately! Store in the fridge or freeze.
Nutrition Facts- Servings: 10 Size: 1 cup soup Calories: 89 • Fat: 1.6 g Carbs: 13.8 g Fiber 5 g • Protein: 4.9 g • Sugars: 3.8 g

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