"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: cabbage

intermittent fasting . . . and homemade vegetable soup!

Now that I have been on a water fast for almost 3 days, I decided to try intermittent fasting as a possible new lifestyle to “have our cake and eat it too,” a way to eat what we love and yet watch our weight and our health.

It’s not that onerous: 5 days of regular eating (yay!) and 2 separate days of “fast” days – limited to 500 calories a day. After I started toting up the calorie count for sample 500 calorie day menus as a guide for myself, I rediscovered that homemade vegetable soup is one of the most nourishing, taste-filled and satisfying meal that only contains about 80-100 calories per cup. Even if you have a large bowl of it, it wouldn’t exceed 150 calories.

simmering vegetable soup before cabbage is added. . .

simmering vegetable soup before cabbage is added. . .

So this morning, I set about making a large pot of soup that would be healthy, tasty and appetizing. I have made vegetable soup often in the past with a beef shin bone to add flavor so am used to making big pots of vegetable soup, especially when it’s snowing hard outside or one of us feels like we are coming down with a cold or flu.

Today’s ingredients included a whole vidalia onion chopped, 4 stalks of celery, 6 carrots, 3 small summer squash (peeled and chopped,) low-sodium chicken broth, no-sodium beef bouillion, a packet of Lipton’s onion soup, a can of Del Monte no-salt diced tomatoes and distilled water to fill my very large soup pot.cabbage and farfalline

After it simmered down for an hour or so, I added a whole small cabbage sliced thin and a cup of tiny farfallini egg noodles to thicken the broth. I tasted it when setting the soup to simmer to see how the broth mixture was coming along, fearing that perhaps the Lipton’s onion packet might make it too salty. Thankfully, it was mild and tasted like a sweet vegetable broth. That might be due to the size of my pot and the amount of water (more than half) that makes up the soup stock.

Townhouse low-fat crackers and some blue cheese spread on top might be a nice accompaniment to eat along with a cup of homemade vegetable soup. All told, the count for soup, crackers and cheese would still be less than 200 calories per meal! Leaving another 300 calories left in the 500 calorie fasting day quota!

A soft-boiled egg and tomato juice for breakfast, vegetable soup, crackers and cheese for lunch and a romaine caesar salad with four medium size shrimp (only 23 calories!) for dinner comes within the 500 calorie limit. It hardly tastes, nor feels like “fasting” to me!  Given my nature, what works for me is to experiment with these 500 calorie menus comprised of food that we already like to eat but in smaller portions.

During my research, I was flabbergasted to discover that one packet of ramen (Sapporo Ichiban) was a whopping 463 calories and 63 grams of carbs, just by its boring self! I had thought maybe a noodle dish with baby spinach and shrimp might work but apparently not. Boring as it sounds, looking up what the calorie/carb counts are for food we like has been an eye-opening exercise. I’m going to continue to fashion 500 calorie menus for myself so as to make the 2 days off a week easier to take. Who knows, maybe we’ll even come to enjoy them as much as the other 5 days of the week!

After we had it for lunch, this large pot of vegetable soup yielded 6 individual servings and 3 additional quart size containers for sharing, all stored in the freezer. I guess I won’t have to make another batch anytime soon! Homemade vegetable soup is healthy, nourishing, tasty and economical to make in abundance.

Meanwhile, back to knitting a Noro yarn tunic for myself and taking care of some business this week in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Bon Appetit on a smaller and more manageable scale!




soba noodles . . .

soba noodles 1We’re having a cold snap this week with temperatures hovering around zero outdoors. When this happens, I start rummaging around in the pantry and fridge to see what I can make for dinner that’s appetizing and filling so that I won’t have to go to the store. I found myself back on Pinterest last night, after a few months away and came upon some scrumptious looking photos of soba noodles. They’re Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. Sure enough in my pantry, I found a sleeve of green soba noodles made with mugwort (whatever that is.) On another note, I have a friend who has been writing to me about making herbal infusions with herbs such as nettles and oatgrass so I was right in the mood for using these mugwort soba noodles (turns out mugwort is an artimesia family herb with tonifying qualities.)

In the fridge, I found a package of fresh shitake mushrooms, baby spinach, scallions, two good sized florets of broccoli and half a head of baby cabbage. I knew that I also had a treasure trove (to me at least!) of large frozen shrimp in the freezer that I draw from in times like this. I took out about half a dozen shrimp and set them in a bowl of water to defrost. Now, I had a melange of appealing ingredients (see photo above.)

Next, I went to Pinterest and typed in “soba noodle recipes” in the “Search” box. Scrolling through numerous tempting combinations, I soon recognized that I had too many ingredients to make one dish. I could make the shrimp into crispy tempura and serve on the side of a simpler soba noodle dish; or I could cook the noodles and then add lightly cooked shitake mushrooms, broccoli and scallions–or have a cleaner tasting, simpler shaved raw cucumber and raw shitake mushrooms atop soba noodles dressed in a light sauce. I was happy to see that the teriyaki sauce that I made a couple of weeks ago which I still have a little bit left of, would be a tasty condiment to add to dashi broth. I also remembered a NYTimes clinical article months ago about a rare allergic (appeared neurological!) reaction to undercooked shitake mushrooms.

broccoli and shitake mushrooms

broccoli and shitake mushrooms

So, here’s what I think I’m going to make: leave the shrimp in their shells, dry them and saute them briefly with garlic, ginger and scallions with a little teriyaki sauce added just at the end. In a separate pan, saute sliced shitake mushrooms with broccoli and shallot, chopped thin. Make a dashi broth and add a little teriyaki seasoning. Cook the soba noodles in boiling water and drain well. Slip the soba noodles into individual large soup bowls filled with the dashi broth and fresh baby spinach. Serve the shrimps on the side to be eaten in their savory sauce.

shrimp with garlic, scallions, ginger and mirin

shrimp with garlic, scallions, ginger and mirin

All this just to keep from going outside and going to the store! I’ll bet there are a few more variations that we could try in a few days: a broth with cooked spinach and cabbage, and so on.

soba noodles in dashi broth with fresh baby spinach

soba noodles in dashi broth with fresh baby spinach

Oh, and while the afternoon sun was still shining in through the skylights, I decided to use a half bag of Macoun apples from the pantry to make an open faced apple pie for dessert.

apple pie