FitFare: Butternut Soup

With Fall officially here, warm up with one of my favorite homemade soups. It is a take on the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe with a few adjustments to make it vegetarian and allergy-friendly. Squash and apples are in season, so hit up the Farmer’s Market for some local produce and make this easy, yummy, and super healthy soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded

2 yellow onions

2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored (or any local varietal)

3 tablespoons good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade * can sub veggie broth

1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Condiments for serving:

Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally

Roasted salted pumpkin seeds, toasted or Roasted salted cashews, toasted and chopped

Diced banana

Optional: Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted (I don’t use because I don’t like coconut)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, put them through a food mill fitted with the medium blade. (Alternatively, you can place the roasted vegetables in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree.) When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup.

Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor.

Reheat and serve hot with condiments of choice either on the side or on top of each serving.

FITfriends: wannabeFIT

As I mentioned, I have NEVER been to a group fitness class. Just the sound of it was terrifying–working out…for the first time in my life…in front of other people?? No way.

But, alas, I agreed to these challenges and I couldn’t give up before I even tried.  So I opted for what I considered the “easier” twist on this challenge: a yoga class. I mean, from what I heard, yoga is a gentle form of exercise. Plus, it’s supposed to be particularly good for the body AND mind.  Maybe Melissa and Liz would count yoga for two challenges??

The only experience I had with yoga prior to the class was with the Wii Fit Yoga game (if you can even call it that). From that, I could only remember the Tree Pose, the Sun Salutation, and some insane pose that actually expected me to stretch my leg back and up high enough above waist level that I could reach my arm over my shoulder and hold my toes. Yeah freaking right. Of course the Wii Fit trainers could do it – they were animated!  The more I thought of the Wii Fit, the more I started to wonder why I thought taking a yoga class would be the “easier” thing to do…

I dragged my equally non-athletically inclined friend with me & we set up camp with our yoga mats (courtesy of my handy mother) in the very last row of a very packed exercise room.  We begin with the corpse pose. And as I lay on my back, all I could think was, “This is called the Corpse Pose?? Isn’t that a bit, well, morbid??” Then I realized I didn’t listen to the teacher while I was worrying about the name.  Was she saying eyes open?  Closed?  Should I be moving?  How do people find this relaxing?  All I have done is lie down so far and I am stressed about failing.  So I try to casually sneak a peak around. My friend is still lying there – eyes closed.  I glance around. Other people have similar obtuse looks on their faces, but almost all of them are face up to the ceiling, eyes closed. I come back to myself. Eyes closed… I feel more on edge lying here this way, knowing that I’m supposed to be taking in comfort from this weirdly shared silence, and I can’t help but hold my breath because what if–God forbid–my breathing threw off someone else’s deep enlightenment?  Or am I just missing the point here?

Finally, we move into other poses—and I mean MOVE. All of a sudden, the instructor is listing off poses as soon as I find myself able to figure out what they are and get into them. Down dog! Plank! Cobra! Back to plank! I glance at my friend—she seems just as frazzled as I am. Finally, I figure out the rhythm of the routine for a minute until the instructor switches it back up, and all I can think is “Uhh, can I get a reference chart here? Maybe alphabetized?” Then I’m super excited when we get into the Sun Salutation and I whisper over to my friend, “I KNOW this one!!” She shoots me a thumbs up as she awkwardly extends into her backbend.

I was able to generally keep up for the remainder of the class, though was definitely panting hard and sweating…a lot.  Until the side-planks…but we were almost done by then so I allowed myself to fake this one a bit and joined everyone again when I heard “Corpse pose.”  Now I not only knew this one but was looking forward to it.  And you know what…I felt incredibly relaxed this time.  Like my mind had been wiped blank from the workout in a nice, satisfying way. I had worked hard for the past hour, and I deserved to lay there, on my back, not thinking about anything at all.

Finally, the teacher whispered to join her in prayer pose when we were feeling ready (…had to look around for this one again…just when I thought I was getting the hang of it!)  “Namaste,” everyone whispered.  What in the world does “Namaste” mean? Is this like saying job well done?  My gut tells me this is a yoga thing…but hopefully Melissa and Liz can give me some guidance before I shout it at the end of a boxing class or whatever crazy thing they have planned for me next.

My friend and I agreed though – despite our frustrations, yoga class was a positive experience overall.  Maybe she would agree to do more challenges with me?  “Sure!” she said…until she heard the next challenge.

…eating BEANS.

Yes, a mightier challenge than going to a yoga class, some (aka me) might say.  Anyone have a recipe that will make beans taste good???  Please write me with recipes, your yoga or other class experience, wisdom, or even just some encouragement, because we all need it! And please try my challenges for yourself! Hey, I’m not doing this all on my own, right?  I’m dying to hear how YOUR experience goes…

Sincerely,

wannabeFIT

FITfare: veggie stir-fry

Vegetable Stir-Fry with Chicken

Sometimes I feel the need to do these extravagant meals that taste delicious and require fine wine, however, let’s get real… with work, a 3-month old, and a dog that needs constant attention my evening hours are full of walks, baths, storytime, bedtime (not for me of course!) and very little time for cooking a delicious and nutritious meal.  Here is a favorite recipe that I use on those crazy weekdays for a simple, quick, tasty, dinner that’s under 500 calories.  ENJOY! ~ FITmama

Ingredients

1 all natural skinless chicken breast (no antibiotics, no hormones)

tbsp evoo

salt and pepper

1 tbsp of sesame oil

1 pack of frozen asian stir-fry vegetables

dash sesame seeds

Directions

1. Wash and clean chicken. Heat a skillet on medium heat with evoo.  Add chicken, salt and pepper, and cook all the way through (15-20min).

2. Cook all stir-fry veggies in a separate skillet on low-medium heat with evoo and sesame oil until tender.

3. When chicken is cooked, remove from skillet and chop. Add pieces of chicken to veggie skillet and toss. Add sesame seeds to taste.