“Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden. ”
― Mary Engelbreit
The 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!
- 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.
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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!
Flowers from my garden.