It's hard to believe that the first month of 2018 is behind us and we're already into February! Today is Groundhog's Day, a day that I hold near and dear in my heart - and not because I'm a lover of large rodents! On February 2, 1997, I wentto the real Groundhog's Day celebration in Punxsutawney, PA with a group of my college friends. It's a fond memory of mine from that time in my life, an experience that I have no desire to replicate, but I can say that "I've been there and done that". What experiences have you had that fall into that category?
This weekend is the BIG one for NFL fans, the culmination of another season of football! Whether or not you're cheering for either of the teams in this year's SuperBowl, you surely will watch at least some part of the game and/or the half-time show. Food plays a large role in football season for many fans, and unfortunately game-day eats are often not the healthiest menus that you'll find. I thought about sharing some of my favorite nourishing snack foods with you today, with hopes that you'd incorporate the recipes into your football fare, but let's be real here - it's OK to enjoy the typical snacks once in awhile! The key is to make healthy choices before and after the game, to keep your cravings & desires in-check. Remember, deprivation (often) leads to bingeing.
So what's the best way to prepare yourself for an evening of football eats? I advise anyone to fill-up on healthy foods before going to any party. That way, you're less likely to find yourself hungry at the party and eating chips & dip for dinner! Hearty soups are an excellent way to warm the body and nourish yourself before going to a party. I've created this week's recipe for that purpose - to serve for lunch or as a mid-afternoon snack before the big game on Sunday. The soup couldn't be easier, most of the ingredients are items that you likely have in your pantry already. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables, I love it's anise flavor (think a subtle black licorice flavor), and it works therapeutically to aid in digestion. Many people need all of the help they can get when it comes to digesting typical snack fare, so give your body a head-start and include some fennel in your meals before the game!
Regardless of who wins on Sunday, it's all about having fun with your family and friends. Make the time together relaxing, serve food and drink that you enjoy eating. If you indulge - no worries - you can easily get back on-track with healthful eating on Monday morning. Give yourself permission to eat those chips - just be present and conscious of what you are consuming.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Creamy Tomato-Fennel Bisque
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, thinly sliced into coins
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (reserve fronds for garnish)
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 C water
2 28oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 t sea salt, or more, to taste
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper, or more, to taste
1 14oz can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and fennel, sauté until softened and golden on the edges. Stir frequently to prevent burning, about 10-15 minutes. Remove carrot-fennel mixture from the pot and set aside.
Add the onion to the pot and sauté until soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning. Add water to the pot, scrape-up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot.
To the pot, add 1/2 of the carrot-fennel mixture, canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 t sea salt and 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
After 15 minutes of simmering, add the cannellini beans to the pot and continue to simmer. Remove pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Working in batches, purée the soup in a high-speed blender. Alternatively, use an immersion blender in the pot to puree the soup, although it won’t be as smooth as if using a high-speed blender. Return the puréed soup to the pot, taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Reheat gently.
To serve, place soup in individual soup bowls. Top with reserved carrot-fennel mixture and fennel fronds.
recipe yields 5-6 generous servings
leftover soup keeps well in refrigerator, in a covered container, 2-3 days; reheat gently before serving
leftover soup can be frozen for several weeks
garnish leftovers with a fresh batch of sautéed carrots & fennel, if desired