Archives for lentils

Veggie Medley Soup (aka Holiday Helper Soup)

In true retail fashion, Thanksgiving dinner was still digesting in our guts when we heard Christmas music playing over the store speakers. [sigh]

Yes, we were THOSE people.

I’ll admit, on Thanksgiving night, we perused the racks at Sports Authority hoping to find some great deals on fitness apparel… and maybe some gifts in the process. You see, in the hot month of July when everyone else was sweating and sitting by the pool, I was already excited for Christmas. This NEVER happens and I’m still not sure what got into me. But this year I was determined to NOT be on the verge of tears while standing at the FedEx shipping counter, for fear my gifts to family wouldn’t arrive on time for Christmas.

Maybe it’s all the personal development I’ve been doing as a Beachbody Coach… or listening to Chalene Johnson’s CAR SMART series during my daily commute. Either way, I’m happy to report that as of today, December 7th, I have 95% of my Christmas shopping DONE and I couldn’t be happier! Not only are some of these gifts more thoughtful (I say some, because I did buy my 21 year old nephew a Subway gift card… and there may be some people getting Starbucks… but I digress…) I now have more time to devote to the things that REALLY matter at Christmas. The spirit of giving – not just gifts, but my time, celebrating traditions and focusing on providing my body with nutrient dense meals. This is the time of year where nutrition is MOST important, yet many of us, myself included let it fall to the wayside and put our priorities elsewhere.

I called this soup The Holiday Helper Soup, as I was thinking how beneficial it would have been for me to have this in my corner that night I was in tears at FedEx. I could have scarfed a bowl while shoving my homemade body scrubs into a large box and quite possibly avoided the meltdown I was doomed to inevitably experience when they asked me if I had liquids in my box. Perhaps my blood sugar levels would have been more balanced and I would have had the presence of mind to simply LIE, knowing full well it was oil mixed with sugar and perfectly harmless.

This original recipe was given to me almost a year ago by my friend Danielle. She is a fellow runner, vegan and both she and her husband Rob LOVE to cook! Over the past year, I’ve made this recipe many times, in a variety of ways. I finally think it’s been modified enough that I can share it here! The BEST part about this recipe is you can put just about any root veggies in it and keep the seasoning the same and it will always come out great! Below is a double batch, so it will last quite a while!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s a lot of chopping, but fairly easy and well worth it!

In a large stock pot, combine the following ingredients:
6 cups water
1 1/4 c. rinsed lentils
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 small golden potatoes (organic is best), chopped into cubes
6 stalks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 small parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 small bundle skinny radishes, chopped

Added in the last 5 minutes of cooking:
4 c. kale, without stems and ripped into bite sized pieces
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 – 7 oz. can tomato paste
2 tbsp coconut nectar (maple syrup works great too)
2 tbsp white vinegar (I’m going to also try apple cider vinegar next time)
1/2 tea. garlic salt
1 tea. dried thyme
1 tea. dried dill weed
1/2 tea. dried tarragon
1/2 tea. fresh ground black pepper

I love this soup because it’s so basic and really, really hard to mess up! The cook time is also pretty quick considering how much soup it makes. Once you get the first seven ingredients in the pot, heat on high to med-high and cook for about 15-20 minutes. You just want to make sure the potatoes and parsnips are getting soft – I usually pull one out and let it cool for a minute and take a bite. Once it’s almost the perfect tenderness, add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.

This will freeze great or stay in the fridge for up to a week.

It’s perfect to have on hand for those nights when you don’t have time to cook, but really need to nourish the body! You can mix up the veggies as well or add a side of sprouted toast for a little filler too.

Plant-Based Eating :: Volume II Day 8

Day 8 Volume II

It was time to get real today and challenge my sugar intake. Over the years I have cut out more, and more, and more sugar… but according to My Fitness Pal I’m still WAY over what my daily intake should be. I say “get real”, because I grew up surrounded by sweet treats and baked goods. My grandparents started a bakery in 1952 and it is still in operation today! So my outlook on sugar was pretty skewed growing up. We make a pretty tasty product… actually, MULTIPLE products. You won’t find a bakery like this on every corner like Starbuck’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. We have one store, that’s it.


I could go on an on about our family business, but I think you already get the point. I included the above visual to drive it home. I grew up around sugar, amazing, tasty, addictive, white sugar. My sugar tolerance was abnormally high compared to the average person. I could eat a slice of chocolate cake minutes before going to bed and sleep like a baby. But the older I’ve become and the easier it is to pack on the pounds I’ve learned to make adjustments to my daily intake of foods.

Now to really educate myself today, I looked to the experts. I found an article on the American Heart Association’s website that is really straight forward. The key word in everything I read about sugar, is ADDED. Not sugar from a banana, apple or carrot, that sugar is considered intrinsic sugar since its an integral part of the whole fruit. Added sugar is refined or processed and NOT naturally occurring and offers our bodies zero nutrition – this is the bad guy. The number one culprit is soda or drinks containing sweeteners – shocking I know. The “good” news is the experts say we can have some refined sugar each day – yay!!!! If you are a woman (or small man) – 6 TEASPOONS. If you are a man (or large woman) – 8 TEASPOONS. The current average American’s intake? 22.2 teaspoons a day. Just one 12 oz. soda has 10.5 teaspoons of sugar. (If you want some super serious reading, you can check out this scientific statement released by the American Heart Association.)

For the past year and a half Mr. Zucchini Runner and I have been very careful about our added sugar intake. We don’t use refined sugar when baking, and started making our own peanut butter and spaghetti sauce because most brands like to add sugar of some sort. We always look for extra sugar in anything pre-made at the store; you’d be surprised at how many brands do it! So the sugars I’ve been giving at the end of each journaled day are mostly from fruit! Unfortunately My Fitness Pal doesn’t distinguish between added or intrinsic sugars. They just give you the RED NUMBERS with the negative sign, which freaks me out! All my research today was very useful, and made me even more aware of sugars in general. I watched my added sugars like a hawk today and I STILL got the red number, only this time I didn’t freak out! 😉

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 8.53.08 PM

For breakfast I wanted to try something different; no smoothies, no eggs, no oatmeal. I went all veggie and beans, much like my dinner from Day 7. I combined a bit of grapeseed oil, onion, celery, zucchini, kale, tomato and garbanzo beans. I seasoned it with a little curry powder and pepper, topped with some hot sauce. (538 calories, 93 carbs, 12 g fat, 24 g protein, 14 g INTRINSIC sugar)


Mr. Zucchini Runner was really proud of his egg platter this morning, so I took a picture and promised I would share it!

As I stated in Day 2, we get our eggs from a local couple, Adam and Melissa, who have their own hens in their backyard. They are very well fed and cared for, and their daughter has a special attachment with each one! I’m of the firm belief that if we are taking from an animal, we should give something in return. They clearly have a great give and take relationship! Plus, these eggs are way cooler looking than the factory-farmed store bought ones. 😉IMG_3007

We skipped coffee today since we ate breakfast so late… so I tried some tea I’ve had in my pantry since Christmas. I tried it once and didn’t really like it. Since I used the last bag of my favorite tea last night, I thought I’ve give this one a shot. I even added some cinnamon. It was really good – and good for me!peppermint_cocoa

For our late lunch, we had spaghetti squash with lentils, onions, tomato and kale – a great standby that is loaded with nutrients and iron! (619 calories, 117 carbs, 3 g fat, 40 g protein, 20 g INTRINSIC sugar)IMG_3032

We went to a work happy hour and I drank nothing but water. I’m sure the restaurant looooooved me! 😉 By the time we came home, I was actually hungry again so I had a gluten-free, peanut butter, homemade applesauce and half a banana sandwich. (191 calories, 38 carbs, 4 g fat, 5 g protein, 14 g INTRINSIC sugar – I do not add anything to my homemade applesauce, it’s literally just cooked apples!)


Tomorrow morning I’m meeting up with a couple friends for an early morning run, so I made sure to fuel enough today! My legs are pretty sore still from Tuesday’s plyo workout and now this morning’s workout – P90X Legs and Back. The run should be a nice challenge! I’m super excited to try Shakeology after my run too! I had an awesome Beachbody Coach send me 3 free samples of their new vanilla flavor and I can’t wait to test it out. I’ve been wanting to try Shakeology for a long, long time… but just never pulled the trigger because of the price. I’ve recently started researching the ingredients and I was very happy with what I found!


Final totals today include a couple handfuls of almonds I forgot to photograph 🙂

Calories: 1,495

Carbs: 253

Fat: 32 g

Protein: 74 g

Intrinsic Sugars: 49 g