A new year – a new start. That’s the way this holiday has evolved over time, a day to make resolutions, vows to ourselves and others. It can become overwhelming, and a set-up for failure. Instead of trying to change yourself over the course of one night, you will have much more success (and thus be happier) with small steps over time. Make your goals reasonable, attainable, and easy – or you will no doubt fail because, as we all know, life is busy! We have kids, jobs, meetings, laundry – the list is endless. Your first goal should be to carve out the time and space you need to get started.
Want to incorporate fitness into your week? Get up 30 minutes earlier and make that time yours. Aim for 2-3 times a week at first, or you will end up sore and burn out. Want to change your diet? Start with one meal each week. Small dietary changes are the easiest and most effective way to add years to your life. Transforming your eating habits is not a diet.
One of the best meals to make your first change to is lunch. I found a great soup recipe that I want to share with you. It is similar to my Tuscan Minestrone (recipe found here), but takes much less time to make, has less ingredients, and has a totally different taste due to a different spice base. Start replacing your regular lunch with this every day for a week. You will notice the difference at the end of the week – more energy, no afternoon slump, and you might even lose a few pounds. You can add extra red pepper flakes for a stronger kick, a small piece of crusty french bread, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It’s more like a stew than a soup and it is packed with fiber and protein. My daughter and her her college roommates are hooked on it -they make it weekly. One pot serves 8, so it would also make a great dinner with leftovers.
Italian Vegetable Soup
1 bunch collard greens, center ribs and stems removed
1 bunch Tuscan or other kale, center ribs and stems removed
salt and pepper
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
4 gloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (reserve the liquid)
8 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth (I like College Inn Fat Free Lower Sodium Broth)
3 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
a shake or two of dried thyme
a shake or two of dried oregano flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Shaved Parmesan (for serving)
Crusty Italian bread (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook collards and kale separately until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from pot and immediately rinse under cold water. Squeeze out excess water and chop. Set aside.
Add some of the broth (1/4 cup or so) to another large heavy pot. Heat over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and leek. Cook, stirring often, for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is evaporated and tomatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, 10-15 minutes (after about 9 minutes there will actually be more liquid, then it will start to cook off).
Add the rest of the broth, reserved liquid from canned tomatoes, beans, thyme, oregano, and reserved greens, and season with salt and pepper, Bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer until soup thickens, about 40-50 minutes. If you are refrigerating, let it cook completely.
This soup can be made ahead and keeps in the fridge for a good week.