Heart healthy “pizza” soup

Heart healthy “pizza” soup

In an effort to celebrate heart health month and Valentine’s Day, while juggling the necessity of a few vegetarian meals for lent (Fridays only, we’re not overly strict here), I came up with this simple recipe that I dub “pizza soup”. It’s a combo platter of spinach, white beans, tomatoes and spices. What could be easier and more nutritious?

This recipe is not only high in fiber (11 grams, thank you very much), it’s also a great source of protein, vitamin C, potassium and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. You can use any canned white beans you have on hand (Navy, Great Northern, Cannellini), fresh or frozen spinach and canned tomatoes. I use low sodium chicken broth, but vegetable broth would work great, too. Top with shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese and served with a rustic, crusty bread, you can’t beat it!

Ingredients
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz can, keep liquid)
2 cans white beans (drained and rinsed)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 box chopped frozen spinach
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. basil
1 tbsp. rosemary

Directions
Place tomatoes, onions and garlic in a large pot and simmer on low heat until vegetables are soft. Add broth, spinach, beans and spices and continue to simmer on low heat until soup thickens (~one hour). Serve with shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese and your favorite crusty bread.

Makes 8 servings. Nutrition Facts per serving: 194 calories, .8 grams fat, 13.7 grams protein, 34.5 grams carbohydrate, 11.3 grams fiber, 107 mg sodium

Use your noodles

Use your noodles

I keep waiting for the low carb diet fad to go away and truly wish it would. While there’s lots of “anti-carb” people out there, they may not realize that many whole grains contain more antioxidants and phytochemicals than fruits and vegetables. Yeah- that’s right. The germ, endosperm and bran of a plant contain nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, zinc and other chemicals scientists are still studying. Our bodies crave carbs to fuel muscles as well as secreting serotonin- the key to a peaceful, happy brain. I understand limiting white bread, enriched white rice and cookies, but there’s no reason to shun quinoa, whole wheat pasta, wild rice or bulgur. These are all loaded with appetite-killing fiber, which also promotes healthy bacteria production in the gut. Remember- your gut is key to keeping your immune system robust and healthy. Limit portion sizes if you’re trying to “manage your waist”. Come on people, use your noodles.

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