One of the ways I’ve found of making this whole weight-loss racket enjoyable has been through trying new recipes. I’ve always liked cooking, but I got away from it for a long time because of a combination of no time (full-time job + grad school is a BAD idea), a presumed lack of logic in preparing full meals for one person, and sheer laziness — Hot Pockets are easier.
In 2015, long before any weight-loss efforts commenced, I had the idea (NOT resolution style!) that I would try making at least one new recipe every week. I can gladly report that I was successful in that endeavor. I doubled up on new recipes a few times, which made up for weeks when I was traveling and not doing any cooking. It was a great experiment, and it led me to become more creative and adventuresome in the kitchen. It also helped me discover that there are foods I didn’t think I liked that — hey! — I do like! (I’m looking at you, Brussels sprouts. I’m sorry I stalked you. Please repeal your restraining order against me.)
When I threw in the added element of trying to lose weight, my food preparation routine was a true gift. Not only did it ensure that my meals were already planned, pre-portioned, and ready to grab and eat, it also made it virtually impossible for me to get bored of what I was eating. To keep up with the need for at least one new recipe every week, I subscribed to the paper editions of Cooking Light, Clean Eating, All Recipes, Eating Well, and Bon Appétit. I also started following a few cooking blogs at Brussels-sprouts levels of obsession. I can’t get enough! I’ve loved this accidental culinary eduction, and I’ve even grown to love my ritual of cooking pretty much all day Sunday in preparation for the week ahead.
Through my forays into the wide world of recipes, I have developed a particular appreciation, and knack, for picking apart several recipes and Frankensteining them with my own strokes of inspiration into formulas that I think would add up to something yummy. It has not led me astray yet. I was particularly proud of what I concocted for this week: spiced butternut squash soup.
I used to shy away from making very involved soups like this. All the recipes I’ve ever seen for butternut squash soup call for roasting the squash, then cooking it stove top for a while with all the seasonings and other ingredients (which usually include heavy cream, a no-no for me), THEN putting the whole mess into a blender fresh from the hot pot, and serving. That sounded like a poorly sequenced series of steps to me, and it also daunted me to think about handling a hot mixture and putting it directly into my finicky blender. Finally feeling confident enough to tinker around with this myself, and since the eastern US has finally decided it should start acting like winter here, I went for it this week.
Luckily, my local grocery stores carry pre-sliced, pre-seeded chunks of butternut squash, so that spared me probably an hour’s worth of work. A pound and 4 ounces costs a surprisingly reasonable $2.99, so I was able to pick up 3 packs for what I would normally spend on a large package of chicken breast. I cut the squash cubes into slightly smaller chunks, then tossed them directly into a pot of boiling water as if getting ready to make mashed potatoes. Ain’t nobody got time for roasting. Once the chunks were tender, I strained them, let them cool for about 20 minutes, and then blended them with coconut milk and vegetable broth until smooth. Finally, I poured the contents of the blender back into the pot and seasoned the hell out of it with savory spices, then let it cook at a simmer until the thickness just kind of looked right.
It. Tastes. AWESOME.
I will admit that much of the reason I’m posting this is that I just want to broadcast my soup success to anyone who will listen. Beyond that, though, it’s a great example of how this process of losing weight can go when it goes well. It’s ALL an experiment. It’s about forcing yourself to be brave enough to try something new and knowing that there’s no wrong way to do a good (read: healthy) thing for the right (read: healthy) reasons. It boils down to one thing: TRY. You might even have fun. 🙂
So, I’m extra into soups now, and have learned through one of my aforementioned recipe magazine subscriptions that “souping” is the new juicing. It’s just what it sounds like. You heard it here first! Maybe! Anyway, I think I’d like to try a new soup every week for January. If anyone out there in the DietBet crowd/blogosphere has a beloved soup recipe they’d be kind enough to share, please post it here or send it to me in a message. I’d really appreciate your help in building my ever-expanding recipe arsenal!
Many thanks and happy souping!