Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why Soup?

I have a relative (okay, she's my HUSBAND'S relative) who makes very funny but disparaging comments about our lifestyle. We eat a lot of unprocessed raw fruits and vegetables, and quite a lot of smoothies, soups, or the like, whirled up in the Vita-Mix. She calls our menu items "gunk and gook and mush". To defend our eating preferences, I have had to do some thinking (not a bad thing) and back up our choices with good research. Here are the reasons that we eat as many soups as we do (about 3-5 each week, on average, in the winter months):

1. Sipping soup is a great weight loss strategy! A recent study actually shows that people who eat soup regularly put on less weight than those who didn't. Strangely enough, the more times soup was eaten in the course of a week, the more weight that was shed! When you use the Vita-Mix whole food machine, the soups you make are high in healthy fibre and fill you up without a lot of fats in the recipe. When you take in the soup over the course of several small meals, vs. the traditional three 'square' meals (read: substantial or large meals) you "supply your body with steady fuel" and don't "feel like you are running on empty-- because you never are". (Jeff Novick, RD, of the Pritikin Longevity Center). Eat the right balance of whole foods and you eat well!

2. Homemade Soups are so tasty and comforting! A delectable soup made with several of my favourite delicate veggies and greens and seasonings lifts my spirits as well as nourishing my body! I personally love the aroma and mix of the various constituents......synergy, if you like.... and find nothing more comforting than the lovely fragrance of warmed herbs in my kitchen.

3. Whirled soups are fast, easy, and economical. In the same time it takes to open a store-bought soup and heat it up, I can prepare a nutritious, delicious soup from fresh ingredients in the Vita-Mix for a third to a quarter of the cost of eating a similar soup in a restaurant. The clean-up process is a whiz for a Vita-Mix meal-- just empty the container, put a little water in, whir up the water, and pour it out! Soup made in a Vita-Mix doesn't scorch or burn, so there will never be that to worry about.

4. Of course, eating soups made with fresh, ripe, in-season, organic, local veggies is about as healthy as I can eat! As I said earlier, my husband and I try to consume a good portion of our diet as "raw". We not only love the flavours of fresh and raw foods, but we know that nutrients are not only NOT destroyed with the method of heating the soup in the Vita-Mix (by the friction of the stainless steel rotor turning at up to 240 mph) but precious enzymes and other important phytonutrients are preserved through the process. Even more exciting to know is that soup made in the Vita-Mix is MORE NUTRITIOUS than eating a stack of ten fruits and vegetables that have not been Vita-Mix'd. Our teeth (for me, several crowns and other dental cosmetics) are not set up to break through the tough (i.e., protective) cell wall of whole foods to release all the locked-in nutrients. The laser-crafted, stainless steel blades crush and cut through the whole foods in seconds to give me the maximum benefits-- and I get all the fibre as well, rendered to its most usable form.

We are soup-lovers because of our Vita-Mix and the ability to find ingredients that we love and know are healthy for us. I'm happy that you are reading this because it means that you also recognize the benefits of whirled soup in your life!

Today's recipe:

PESTO LIVING SOUP (Mediterranean influences)

1/2 cup water
4 very ripe tomatoes, medium to large
1/2 cup mixed fresh parsley & cilantro (stems are okay)
1/4 cup basil (green or purple)
pinch celtic sea salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup pinenuts or other raw nuts (NOT peanuts, which are not nuts)
1/4 minced onion
1/4 cup minced celery
1 garlic clove pressed
1/4 cup red pepper diced

Whirl up the first five ingredients (up to the onion) in the Vita-Mix for as long as
it takes for the ingredients to be homogeneous and creamy-- probably about
30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Pour into a large bowl or soup tureen and add the other ingredients. Stir.
Enjoy! For 'raw vegans', this soup goes great with flax crackers. For
others, fresh foccacia or herbed French bread.

At first, this soup may seem "bland" to anyone who is unfamiliar with raw soups.
The more raw food that is eaten, the more sensitive the palate becomes to the
subtlety of flavours.

Keep on sippin'!

~Healthia Cynthia

**The use of the word "whirled" is meant to indicate a soup that is fully to partially made up using a Vita-Mix. To learn more about this amazing Whole Food Machine (10-Appliances-in-One), click here.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Farmer's Market Lemon Zest Soup

I am a sort of borderline vegan... sometimes I indulge in a little dairy, or eat fish if friends have prepared it for a meal they have invited me to. This recipe contains buttermilk. I suggest that you find the best source (organic if possible) of buttermilk around. If you are truly vegan, you could perhaps substitute a nutmilk or rice milk instead, squeezing some lime into it.  This soup is delicious and makes use of the abundant fall vegetables found at a Farmer's Market (or in your own backyard):

4 C. Buttermilk (or substitute)
2 C. vine-ripened tomatoes (could be 2 large tomatoes)
2 C. fresh, young (milky but not green)corn kernels
1 C. fennel root (or English cucumber if there is no fennel available)
18 fresh basil leaves
1/4 lemon skin, chopped-- should be a fairly tender skin (organic preferred)
Celtic Sea Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Add all ingredients to the Vita-Mix® cannister in the order listed and begin by processing on Variable Speed, turning the knob from lowest to highest at a slow, steady rate. Then process on High for about 2 minutes, until silky. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours. Serve garnished with sprigs of basil.

(adapted from "Zesty Summertime Garden Soup" in Lemon Zest: More than 175 recipes with a twist by Lori Longbotham, Broadway Books, New York, 2002.  Go HERE to purchase on Amazon.

Millennium Park hosting the Farmers' Market in Beautiful Courteny, BC 2007