New Year’s Resolution #1: Eat better!

Did you make any resolutions this year?

I usually don’t really get into making them. I figure, there’s more than one time throughout the year to change my behavior if necessary. But this year I made a couple. Because work and school and life were so crazy during November and  December, I felt like we fell into some kind of unhealthy patterns that I wanted to change. So this New Year I resolved to do two simple things: Eat better and exercise more.

Simple, right? :-)

First, eating well.For us at this point it means two things: eating better food (as in, more fruits and vegetables) and eating less.

During the last 2 crazy months of 2011, we were so busy and worked such long days that we ate out ….. a lot. That was bad for our budget, and not too great for us either. Now that Christmas is over we are on a saving-money kick for the next few months and eating out, even buying a drink from Starbucks, has been banned. Also we are both trying to get in better shape and be more fit. So I was thinking about how we could save money AND eat better & healthier, and the answer I came up with was to eat smaller, but still delicious, meals. Especially at night when you’re not going to burn a lot of calories before going to bed. Right now we are eating soup for dinner, every night ….. we did that last week, we’re doing it again this week, and then maybe we’ll take a break so we don’t get  bored, and eat something else for a couple of weeks. My goal is just to keep the meals inexpensive, nutritious and not too heavy on the calories so we can lose our holiday weight. :-)

The soup thing has been a big success ….. I know my family is laughing at me right now for having what we call “soup suppers” (sorry, inside joke!) …. but seriously, soup is a great thing to have for dinner. It fills you up, warms you up if it’s cold outside, Ben absolutely loves soup so he’s happy, it’s usually quick and easy to make so I’m happy — how much better could it get? Also it’s good for you (if you use lots of veggies) and not too rich. I’ve been staying away from milk or cream-based soups and making more broth-based soups or pureed soups to keep things light.

Last week I made three different soups — vegetable beef, roasted sweet potato soup, and a mexican-ized chicken soup. All of them turned out great. The vegetable beef one was just simple, nothing fancy, pieces of steak and a LOT of vegetables in broth. It made a ton, and I still have some left over! The roasted sweet potato soup was good, too. It was a pureed soup, the first one I think I’ve ever made. I really like the technique of pureeing soup because you can have a creamy soup without adding much — or any — cream. And finally, the last soup was a simple chicken soup which I added extra veggies to and then topped with tortilla chips that I made myself, finely chopped green onions, and cheese. It doesn’t seem all that amazing but it WAS!! Probably our favorite of the soups last week.

This week I am planning to make cabbage soup, coconut shrimp soup, and creamy broccoli soup (another pureed soup). I can’t wait to taste them!!

Logistically, it’s really easy to have the same thing for dinner every night. I choose soups that are very different so it doesn’t get boring, but still I’m making roughly the same thing every night so it’s very simple and doesn’t require a lot of thinking. No “what am I going to make for dinner??!!!” at 5:00 PM anymore. Making 3 soups is enough for 5 to 6 nights depending on how much I make. I like to make fairly large recipes and then I save the rest for another night. For example this week we are having coconut shrimp soup Monday night, cabbage soup Tuesday night, broccoli soup Wednesday night, and each night I’ll refrigerate any leftovers. Thursday night and the nights following we’ll choose which of the three preceding soups we want to have again, until the leftovers are used up. Storing the leftover soup is easy — I bought some wide-mouth quart jars which are perfect for the job.

By the end of this week we may be totally bored of soup, and that’s fine. We’ll move on to something else — sandwiches, salads, or whatever comes to mind. The goal, after all, is to eat lighter and to eat more fruits and vegetables, not to limit ourselves to one kind of food. But I’ll probably keep up this categorized way of cooking for at least a few more weeks. I like how choosing a category for the week — i.e., soups — somehow makes me more creative as I try out a wide variety of flavors & textures within that category. All of the soup recipes from this week and last week I’d never tried before. And so far I would make them all again! It’s a lot of fun and I’m adding a lot of good recipes to my arsenal. :-)

Well, this post has gotten very long, and I am out of time, so I guess I’ll talk about my second resolution, to get more exercise, next time. :-) It’s a dreary, gray Monday morning, and January is not my favorite month at all, so it’s a perfect opportunity to find little things to brighten up the day — a hot cup of coffee in the early afternoon, a candle, maybe some fresh flowers in the house. Life is meant to be enjoyed, so I’m gonna do that!! Hope you do too. Have a great week!

Love,

Bethany

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