“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness.”
Another Sunday is here and I have been given the gift of time to relax, reflect, and regroup for a short work week before the Thanksgiving holiday. As everyone else is surely doing today, I find myself wistful for passing time and I cling to each minute ~ wishing that the weekend would never end. Do not get me wrong, teaching is my calling and I love being a teacher, guide, and student in my classroom, but the weekend has been so cozy and peaceful that I do not want to let it slip between my typing fingers. I could easily spend the entire weekend blogging but I also had to fit in my Weight Watchers meeting, shopping, cooking, grading, and household chores. Though, I made sure that I remembered to breathe deep, savor, and find gratitude for some rest and relaxation.
It was snowy, cold, and blustery yesterday and the scale and I were not friends at my Weight Watchers meeting. Or maybe we were, it was just time for a reality check and some tough love. I faltered with my healthy goals in the beginning of November. My bedtime crept up and events pulled me away from exercise. Last weekend I picked myself up, brushed off the excuses, and I am proud to say that I started Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred (today will be Day #6). Sore muscles may have attributed to my gain this week, but I have also been negligent in making sure I am drinking enough water and a couple of days I was sloppy with tracking.
With the Thanksgiving holiday in the distant future, I decided that I do not want to face another gain. What is my plan? My plan is to build in exercise EVERY DAY (yes, even on Thanksgiving) and I will be packing my DVD, yoga mat, and weights when I travel out-of-town to visit family. This week my meals will be brimming with vegetables, I will drink plenty of water, and I will bring some of my own food and healthy snacks on my travels. I know that I can work in indulgences and still stay On Program. I will have to make smart choices and make sure that I am creating balance with nutrition and activity.
One of the secrets to my Weight Watchers success over the past seven years has been soup. Not only does soup make a hearty lunch but it is a terrific way to bulk up dinner. Add a side salad and a cup of soup to a meal and you can eat smaller portions of your dinner entrée (this will also stretch your grocery budget). Though, my husband Mike and I can easily make soup and salad dinner. Mike loves when I top his salad with steak, chicken, or salmon and I can add protein to mine with raw nuts, beans, or tempeh.
Black bean soup is one of my favorites and I make many different varieties. I do confess that I normally do not follow a recipe and often add whatever I have on hand. This means that I often am not being 100% accurate on tracking the Points Plus value of the soup and depending on ingredients count it as 3-5 PP per cup. Imagine my surprise last night when I made a pot of soup and after running it through the Recipe Builder discovered it was only 2 PP a cup. I am thankful that blogging and sharing my recipes with others has made me more accountable to accurate tracking in Weight Watchers eTools.
This soup really is fiber rich and full of nutrients with the addition of sweet potato and pumpkin. Sweet potatoes are my current obsession and I love their taste and texture. I also love spice so I added a large can of Ro-tel brand tomatoes with green chilis and a Tablespoon of taco seasoning. If you do not like spicy food you could use a can of regular diced tomatoes.
Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Tomatoes
*4 cups of vegetable stock
*28 ounce can of Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilis (regular tomatoes would work well if you do not want the spice of the chilis)
*3 cups of black beans
*2 cups of peeled and cubed sweet potato (I used one large potato)
*2 cups of chopped celery
*1 cup of chopped green bell pepper
*1 cup of pumpkin (I used canned but fresh/frozen would work well)
*1 cup of chopped onion
*3 cloves of minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon of homemade Taco Seasoning
*1 teaspoon of cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Recipe renders 12 cups of soup
Add sweet potato and vegetable stock and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through.
Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool enough to put in blender.
Since I have a high-powered blender (a Vitamix) I did a quick blend (20-30 seconds) because I wanted a little texture to the soup and did not want to completely puree the mixture.
You can skip this step if you want chunks of sweet potato in your soup. Sometimes I cut the potatoes in tiny pieces and skip the blending.
Add the mixture back to the pot and add the black beans, taco seasoning, and pumpkin to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn down and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
*Recipe renders 12 cups.
I had two cups of this soup for lunch and before serving I squeezed fresh lime on top and added a dollop of plant-based sour cream, a couple of slices of avocado, fresh cilantro, and a sprinkle of smoky paprika.
It was delicious and FILLING. The pumpkin and sweet potato give the soup a slightly sweet background which is balanced out by the spice of the chili infused tomatoes and taco seasoning. Let me know if you try this soup and what you think.
Check out my soup tab for other recipes.
Also, please think about joining my December Green Smoothie Challenge to get a jump-start on the New Year with 31 Days of Health. Stay tuned for a “Getting Started” post with a suggested shopping list, tips, nutritional information, and recipes.
Have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving holiday! May your blessings be so abundant that they are difficult to count and I hope you are able to relax and find laughter and peace. This year I am extra thankful for those who are reading my blog and for the reciprocal nature of social networks. Thank you for sharing this journey!