Cold Weather, Warm Soup
Whether you’re in a warmer beach climate (like I am as I write from L.A. right now) or you’re surrounded by snow, winter is a great time for warm, cozy evenings at home with family. One downside of the cold weather, of course, is that we’re even less likely than ever before to run outside for a workout, and clean, healthy eating isn’t always a priority like it is in sunnier months. And it probably goes without saying, but my goal is to help you continue to reach toward your healthy weight loss goals in spite of these cold weather obstacles.
So let’s start by slowly putting down that hot chocolate. I know it’s oh-so-soothing…but it’s also oh-so-sugary! (Instead, try my new Protein Hot Chocolate recipe!) Here’s the good news: this incredible soup recipe will help you keep the winter chills at bay. In the midst of holiday meal planning with our extended family, my cousin Amy introduced this fantastic recipe into the mix, and my daughters and I have been hooked ever since. This delicious little broth is yummy enough to please the whole family, filling enough to keep you satisfied without feeling stuffed, easy enough to make in spite of a busy schedule, and best of all: It’s packed with nutrients to help you stay on track to the ultimate fat-burning success.
Let’s start with the broad strokes on what’s in this soup that makes it so stellar:
This superstar veggie is finally getting the attention it deserves. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest sends out a terrific regular publication called Nutrition Action Health Letter, always packed with interesting studies and new research on healthy eating. One recent issue ranked the healthiest veggies based on the amount of Vitamin K, Lutein, Vitamin C, and Fiber they provide, also taking caloric content into consideration. The winner, by a landslide, was kale. (Other leafy greens like spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and swiss chard weren’t far behind.)
That same issue of Nutrition Action also posed the burning question, “Which Beans Are Best?” It rated a variety of legumes, with lentils scoring major points for their folic acid, iron, protein, and, of course, fiber. Once I get started talking about the many benefits of fiber, it’s hard to get me to stop, but I’ll try and topline it for you: Fiber helps you feel fuller longer, it helps balance blood sugar, it helps flush fat out of your system, and a study at Harvard suggested that women who eat high-fiber diets were half as likely to become obese as their low-fiber counterparts. Ah, fiber. There’s a reason I’ve often referred to it “the one ingredient you need for lifelong weight loss.”
Originally cultivated in Asia and the Mediterranean, this member of the onion family has a subtle sweetness. Leeks are packed with immune-boosting Vitamin A, and have a prebiotic effect on the lower bowel, converting harmful microflora into healthy bifidobacteria. And if you need yet another reason to love leeks, here’s a bonus: They also have a slight diuretic effect, which helps you avoid retaining water.
Potatoes tend to get a bad rap in the diet and weight loss worlds, but their healthier orange-hued cousins are packed with Vitamins A and C, fiber, B vitamins, potassium and iron.
Hopefully all that info has helped you work up an appetite. Well, the waiting time is over. Time to start cooking!
Warming Weight Loss Soup
3 C. kale (chopped)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
28 oz. can whole tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted in this recipe)
8 C. water
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 C. Lentils (brown or green)
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
12 fresh basil leaves
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 C. (1 oz.) grated parmesan