Zucchini Noodle Soup

“Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden. ” 
― Mary Engelbreit

Zucchini Noodle Soup by Produce with AmyThe topic of last week’s Weight Watchers meeting was one after my own heart — “The Power of Produce”. My mom always tells me that she knew when I was growing up that I would become a vegetarian one day, because fruit and vegetables were always my first choice when it came to snacks and meals. However, I admit that when I joined Weight Watchers in 2006 – my methods of cooking vegetables were not always the healthiest. Long periods of time would pass without fresh produce in our house. Life was busy and my husband Mike and I would often go on a large grocery run once or twice a month. This resulted in limited options when fresh supplies ran low. Not to mention the obscene amount of produce that was tossed out because we did not make fruit and vegetables a priority like we do now. Currently I make at least one grocery trip a week (sometimes 2 or 3) and my cart is always full of fresh and frozen produce.

Last week at my WW meetings we discussed how bulking up meals with fruit and vegetables not only helps you stay full (due to the fiber, water, vitamin, and mineral content in produce) but it also has a psychological impact by visually making your plate look full. When I joined WW, I found that adding a side of raw carrots and celery to a sandwich made me feel more satisfied and did not make me feel deprived. Before I joined WW my husband and I always had rice, pasta, or potatoes as a side to dinner entrees and when I learned about the Points system, I started preparing 0 Points Plus vegetables instead.

Last summer I purchased a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer to make vegetable noodles. While I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets, this is one that I recommend.

Last week at my Monday night meeting, my friend Wendy, shared that she bought a Veggetti. She said that her sister makes zucchini noodles daily and that she makes them into a soup with broth. What a great idea! While most of my soup recipes make 10-12 cups of soup (I like to have extra to freeze) in a post from the winter of 2013, I shared how I am known to assemble a bowl of spontaneous soup. After hearing about Wendy’s sister, I decided that I would make a bowl of Zucchini Noodle Soup.

Yesterday was the perfect day for healthy comfort food. I subbed a WW meeting in the morning and when I left the house it was 49 degrees. Spotty rain and gray skies made it a day of napping with our cats, taking a hot bath, reading, and soup. From start to finish this bowl of soup took fifteen minutes at most (including gathering and prepping the ingredients). I did not purchase special ingredients but selected what I had on hand.

ZUCCHINI NOODLE SOUP

  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of spiralized zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 5 fresh pea pods 
  • 3 thin slices of leek
  • 3 mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove of finely minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped, fresh chives
  • 1/2 carrot peeled and chopped
I bought this chili sauce from Target. I love its heat - but be careful because it's spicy!

I bought this chili sauce from Target. I love its heat – but be careful because it’s spicy!

  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh tomato
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (if you do not like cilantro parsley works well)
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Splash of rice vinegar

Saute the onion, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, carrots in the coconut oil for 3-4 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, pea pods, tomatoes, and chili sauce.

Bring to a boil.

Add the zucchini and remove from the heat (I wanted the zucchini to be al dente).

Ladle into a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and garnish with the cilantro.

Thank you to Wendy for the great idea of making Zucchini Noodle Soup! This week I am going to make a bowl each day for lunch or to eat with dinner.

Tonight I am planning to make an Italian version with the following ingredients:
Broth, zucchini noodles, onion, garlic, celery, fresh herbs from my garden (basil, oregano, and chives), 3 Tablespoons of marinara sauce (leftover in the refrigerator), mushrooms,  and red bell pepper.

I am also imagining a curry inspired soup with:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, 3 Tablespoons of light coconut milk (I have some in the freezer), sweet potato, chopped tomato, fresh ginger root, curry powder (to taste), a squeeze of lime juice, and fresh cilantro.

How about a Mexican inspired soup?:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, homemade taco seasoning, tomatoes, bell pepper, black beans, and top with fresh cilantro and cubed avocado.

Or a refreshing lemon dill:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, celery, fennel, fresh lemon juice and zest, spinach, and loads of fresh dill.

A lovely garden pea and mint:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, fresh garden peas (you could puree or leave whole), and fresh mint.

This month I celebrate my seventh anniversary of reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers and I believe in the power of produce. I also believe in the power of a well stocked refrigerator, pantry, and fruit and vegetables bowls on the counter. Let your imagination and what you have on hand be your guide. If you make a spontaneous bowl of soup I would love to hear the combination that you create. Social networking allows us the opportunity to learn, share, and grow in healthy ideas together.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you want other soup ideas make sure you check out my Soup tab at the top of the page. .
In the next week I will be sharing my recipe for a raw zucchini noodle dish that features a lemon basil pesto and my favorite cold green soup (think savory green smoothie in a bowl).

Thank you for your comments, feedback, and support. As Produce with Amy nears the milestone of 100,000 views – I am thrilled and humbled.  I  feel thankful that there has been so much interest in my recipes. I love sharing my creativity and passion for healthy food. Thank you!

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Flowers from my garden.

Flowers from my garden.

 

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Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, & Dill

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.” – Susanna Clarke

Mike and Phoebe on the Heritage Trail I think it is safe to say that winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is over. Today, on the 1st of June, it feels like we have been given a fresh start. To celebrate I broke open a fresh journal – clean pages – just like today’s freshly washed sky. Last week – Mike, Phoebe, and I enjoyed the blissful weather. The freshly minted leaves startled our senses, so green and new that they jolted us awake. As we hiked, the air itself appeared green. Vibrations of chartreuse permeated our vision like a green haze. It made our hearts soar and we were thankful.

GardenYesterday I started my container garden and decided that instead of buying ornamental fillers (vines and greenery) for my flower boxes,  I will use edible plants. I planted cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil. Instead of using morning glories as climbers, I planted peas and beans. I cannot wait to watch them progress over the summer. Our perennial herbs planted outside (chives, sage, oregano, thyme, mint, and lavender) are starting to flourish with the warm temperatures. I earned 5 Activity Points Plus hauling planters from the basement and did lots of squats weeding.

The school year is rushing to a close and I have six more days with my students before summer break is here. My goal for the summer is to share a minimum of two blog posts a week. My journal is quickly filling up with potential ideas and recipes. Though, I have been busy, I have continued to eat healthy and my favorite lunch or dinner for the past couple weeks has been vegetable filled pasta salad. I have been tracking Points Plus on weekends and sticking with the Simply Filling Technique on weekends. This way of eating, partnered with increased activity, has helped me lose 5 pounds in the last three weeks.

The salad that I am sharing today consists of 100% Power Foods. I am trying to reduce my intake of sugary fruit and am trying to incorporate more vegetables (I do eat fruit and am currently eating berries, green apples, and grapefruit – with small amounts of other fruit in my green smoothies).

A couple weeks ago, the topic in the Weight Watchers weekly handout was fiber. One of the high fiber foods that was mentioned was artichokes. I love artichoke hearts in salad and on pizza so I decided to incorporate some into my lunch for the week.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie's on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip...one of his favorites.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie’s on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip…one of his favorites.

Salad by Produce with Amy

VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS, CAPERS, & DILL

  • 4 cups of cooked whole wheat penne pasta (approximately 1/2 box of 13.25 ounce pasta)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of artichoke heartsVegetables
  • 1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 3 cups of asparagus (I was going to use broccoli but our neighbor brought over wild asparagus that he picked)
  • 3 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 3.5 ounces of capers (drained)
  • Fresh chopped dill to taste (I used one small clamshell that I purchased in the produce section)

DRESSING

  • 3/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 juiced lemon and zest ~ if you use fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (spicy brown mustard also works well)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I am going to add 2 teaspoons of oil to each serving for portion control)

Chop all the ingredients and mix in large bowl. This salad makes approximately 12 cups. My husband and I will eat it all week. If you want a smaller portion you could reduce all the ingredients.

This salad would make a fantastic addition to a cook out or gathering. It takes better the longer it sits and will stay fresh for over a week (7-10 days).

Printable Recipe: VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy

 

If you like this salad you may want to check out my other salad recipes.

Please make sure you stop by my Facebook page, sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow my posts on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you this summer.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley.

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley with some of my vintage glass.