Love What You Eat. Love you.

Happy New Year! We have made it to 2021, which is truly no easy accomplishment. Way too many have been left behind. Way too many continue to struggle. Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness ~Desmond Tutu. We unfortunately cannot control everything in our lives, or the lives of others, but we do have power over our thoughts. Stay hopeful. Think positive. Share the love❤️.

Choose to share love and kindness with everyone around you, including YOURSELF. Think positive about YOU. Stay hopeful for YOU. Speak to yourself, and to your body, as you would your best friend. Be kind. Be honest. Be authentic. Encourage yourself to try your best but not to expect perfection. Find your strength.

If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. ~Albert Schweitzer. The same is true when it comes to what you are eating. You do not have to eat anything you do not love. Eating should bring you joy, keep you smiling😃, keep you loving you.

It does not mean it is not hard-ass work, unfortunately🤨, but enjoy the process. Find what you enjoy — is it the cooking, buying fresh foods, ordering fresh foods, eating with others, eating alone, eating outside, eatings lots of fruits and veggies, eating lean protein, eating healthy fats? All of the above :)? Whatever it may be, and I am happy to help you search if needed, make that the healthy focus for YOU, for 2021.

An empowering way to start is to douse yourself during these chilly, darker months with some bright, nutritious, comfort food. We might not be able to hop on a plane and travel the world right now, but we can certainly spice things up by providing our tastebuds with a curious and comforting zing💥.

Photo by author

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND PARSNIP SOUP
Not everyone gets as excited as I do about cauliflower, and even more likely about parsnips. I challenge you to put any negative thoughts aside and give this warm, deliciousness a try. It takes about an hour overall, between preparation and cooking, but this smooth, creamy creation, satisfies the body and mind. Both parsnips and cauliflower are an excellent source of fiber and potassium, with a touch of protein and calcium.

INGREDIENTS
3–4 parsnips, peeled and chopped into coin-size pieces
1 head cauliflower florets, washed and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 springs fresh thyme plus a teaspoon of fresh leaves for garnish
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Place prepared cauliflower, parsnips, garlic, shallots and thyme springs in a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil and toss until all veggies are well coated. Sprinkle with cumin, paprika and pepper and toss again. Spread onto rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Roast vegetables for 25–30 minutes, tossing veggies halfway. Remove from oven and roll thyme springs in your clean hands, to remove cooked leaves. Toss the remaining springs.

Pour 3 cups of the broth into the blender. Add roasted veggies. Remove plastic center on blender lid and securely place lid on blender. Use a kitchen towel to cover the lid, securing the towel with your hand (this will allow for the steam to escape without any type of explosion…been there, done that ;).
Puree mixture for about 1 minute or until the mixture is smooth. Add another 1/2 cup of broth and continue to puree. Repeat with final 1/2 cup of broth. *Note: Add more broth if desired for achieve a thinner consistency.
Transfer the mixture into medium sauce pot and bring to a light simmer. (*If you have a Vitamix, you can use the heating feature). Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh thyme leaves. Serve hot. Makes 4–5 servings.

Photo by napolina

SPICY SPINACH AND PASTA SOUP
As spinach is a rich source of fiber, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, plus small quantities of vitamin E, A, C, K, folate, thiamine, B vitamins, it is hard not to give it a leading role in most dishes. This tasty soup is no exception, balancing it out with chickpeas and tomato, for some healthy carbs, additional vitamin C, and protein.

INGREDIENTS
1 10-ounce package fresh spinach (or 2–3 bunches), washed and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2–3 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
2/3 cup small pasta (like stalline-tiny stars, or ditalini-tiny tubes, or orzo)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil)
1 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes, low sodium
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

PREPARATION
Place a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for 6–8 minutes, or until onion is slightly browned, stirring frequently. Add broth, turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Stir in pasta and continue cooking 2 minutes.

Add spinach, basil, tomatoes and chickpeas to the pot. Continue to cook or another 5–6 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste (or additional cayenne pepper, depending on the level of heat desired☺️). Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4–5 servings.

Photo by lasting ingredient

LOADED VEGETABLE SOUP
This is a soup I created at the very start of my career, with a couple of my dietitian mentors. It has evolved over the years with removing and replacing some of the ingredients and adding the beans for a protein source. This is easily many meals in a bowl, as freezing in single portions works well for any leftovers.

INGREDIENTS
1 small chopped onion (about 1 cup)
2–3 celery stalks, washed and chopped (about 1 cup)
2–3 cloves minced garlic (about 2 teaspoons)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
2 15-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, low sodium
8 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small head of cabbage, washed and roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
1 red pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
2 cups cannellini beans
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION
Place a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, garlic and tomatoes. Cooks for 5–6 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Add sweet potato, cabbage and peppers. Cook for 15–20 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Reduce to low heat. Add beans, tofu, salt and pepper to taste. Heat until warm. Ladle into bowls and garnish with freshly ground pepper. Makes 10–12 servings.

SNACK TIP ~🍎 🍎 🍏Speaking of cauliflower, don’t fall for the “made with” on a food label, without seeing how much is actually in the package. It might be “made with” very little cauliflower (or chickpeas or veggies), but certainly lots of flour. You can’t beat the real thing — cut up raw veggies for an extraordinarily satisfying crunch. Looking for more flavor? Add 1–2 tablespoons tzaziki, hummus, salsa, etc, to jazz up your snack without adding excess calories. You will get a tasty boost of nutrients, fiber and fill from your fresh veggies.

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. ~author Haruki Murakami

For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amysmargulies@gmail.com

A nutrition expert and middle child, I am writing to promote health and wellbeing, recipes and tips in a relatable, slightly rebellious fashion.