March is National Nutrition Month, so what better time to talk about our love/hate relationship with vegetables.
Why is it so hard to “eat your vegetables,” at least for most of us?
Sure, I do have friends who would rather eat a giant salad or a plate of sautéed spinach than anything else in the world.
But that’s just not me, or most people I know. So, what can we do to get the essential nutrition that can only come from veggies?
For some of us, green smoothies are the answer. I was a skeptic, but even I have found a few that I love.
Except in winter.
Snow and ice and sub-freezing temperatures leave me longing for warmth.
Luckily, there’s soup. And even more wonderful is how limitless the possibilities are for the combinations of vegetables you can use to make delicious, soothing, nutrition-packed soups.
Rather than a bunch of soup recipes, I’d like to share with you my “go-to” list of nutrition-packed vegetables that work in just about any recipe and can help ensure you enjoy the power of veggies all winter long!
The top 7
Butternut squash. This beautifully colored vegetable is packed with vitamins A, C, and B6.
My favorite winter soup is a combination of squash, carrots, onions, and broth. Throw in some garlic and curry for a great Indian flavor. Just cook it all together until the squash is soft, and mash some of it for a thicker soup.
I find it a lot easier to buy the squash cut up and packaged. Cutting open the hard shell of the squash with a knife can be a little hazardous!
Lentils. These little legumes have so much to offer! They are high in protein and fiber. Not only that, they are a storehouse of nutrients: folate, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and iron, to name a few.
Dried lentils take a while to cook, so if you’re in a hurry, you can get pre-cooked lentils – they’re just as nutritious.
Here’s a basic lentil soup recipe that includes five other nutritious vegetables.
Related: 9 reasons to eat more lentils
Broccoli. You’ve heard us sing the praises of broccoli before. It’s a cancer fighter, immune system booster, and bone builder.
Broccoli is one of those cruciferous vegetables that is unbelievably loaded with nutrients: vitamins K, C, E, and B6, as well as folate. It’s also rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps boost metabolism ignored by many folks.
Puree your broccoli for a satisfying soup, but leave some of those stalks intact for a great serving of fiber!
Potatoes. You may be concerned with the high carb content of potatoes, especially during the winter months. But as part of a healthy soup, potatoes contribute potassium and Vitamin C and thicken things up nicely.
One of my favorite easy winter soups is this potato-leek soup.
Mushrooms. So many varieties to choose from here! And they’re all full of riboflavin, selenium, niacin, and potassium. They have some vitamin D, too, which you can’t get from other vegetables.
Most mushroom soups can add some calories with their creaminess, but there are ways to cut back on the calories.
Asparagus. Is one of the best foods to help protect your health after 40. No wonder — it’s nutrition-rich: Folate, copper, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, as well as B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6.
Asparagus soup is deliciously creamy, but don’t forget to save those tender tips to throw in at the end!
Cabbage. This most humble and inexpensive of vegetables is more of a powerhouse than most people realize. Vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, magnesium – not to mention a load of fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.
Try a spicy cabbage soup with a light broth, tomatoes, onions and lemon juice.
Still wondering where to start? Here are ten hearty vegetable soups to try.
Winter doesn’t seem quite so bad now, does it?