December 4, 2011

Souperhero Soup

I am sure I have told you this before but I LOVE soups and stews in the winter. It is so hard to go wrong when making them and they tend to freeze and keep well.

I am naming this soup the Souperhero Soup because of some the the power veggies that are packed into it. Let's highlight some of those veggies and why you should eat more of them today...

Leeks- Leeks belong to the allium vegetable family and contain a lot of the health benefits that other members such as onions and garlic do. They are high (over 20% daily value) in vitamin K, Vitamin A and manganese. They also contain a significant amount of other nutrients such as vitamin c, b6, folate and iron. Leeks are very well known for their support of our cardiovascular system, which is why we heart them.

Lentils- Lentils are in the legumes family along with beans and contain some similar health benefits. Many  people do find lentils easier on the digestive system and they have even been shown to have a very positive effect on digestive issues such as IBS. They are PACKED with nutrients including high (over 20% daily need) of molybdenum, folate, dietary fiber, tryptophan, manganese, iron, protein, phosphorus, copper, vitamin b1 AND potassium. That was a mouthful. Lentils help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels after a meal. Research has shown that a diet rich in legumes such as lentils shows a whopping 82% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. I am not a calorie counter. I prefer to select my food based on nutrient value over calorie restriction, but if you were curious about the calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up--not out.

Kale- Somebody once described kale to me as the vegetable that helps you age in reverse. I think they knew what they were talking about. Kale is known for its antioxidant value in the body and has 1,327% of your daily need of vitamin K!!! As if that were not enough is also contains 354% vitamin A and 88% vitamin C. I guess we can forget about chicken soup when we are feeling sick. It contains a laundry list of other nutrients including some that might surprise you such as calcium, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. I know, I know pick your jaw up off the floor, you CAN get those nutrients from foods other that meat, fish and dairy. Don't get me started on that....

Enough of the lecture, lets cook.

Souperhero Soup
Makes about 8 servings

Since its now dark here by 4pm, my picture quality is taking a big hit... 

1 large Leek, white part only, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 - 2 cups of lentils
4 cups veggie broth
4 cups water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 can (14.5oz) diced toms
5 cups torn kale leaves, no stems
1/2 cup of pesto sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add leek and garlic and saute about 5 mins or until leek is tender.
2. Add lentils, broth, water and rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
2. Add kale and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until lentils and kale are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve with a dollop of the pesto. 

My taste judge Thor really enjoyed this soup, especially with a big dollop of the pesto mixed in. This recipe freezes well also so I stashed a container of it in the freezer to pull out in a couple of weeks when life gets crazy with the holidays.

December 2, 2011

Knitting Meltdown

I have been knitting for a little over two years now. It has been a gradual learning curve but I really enjoy the process of knitting. It forces me to slow down and really focus my mind in a creative manner, that is likely very under produced in the physically driven body of a personal trainer. I love the feel of the yarns, the different colours and stitch patterns, and of course, I love finishing a project and wearing it around town.

 I recently joined a Stitch & B*!*?h knitting group at a local yarn store and have LOVED getting to know other knitters, sip wine and chat away while we each work on our own projects. Maybe partially due to the confidence inspired by this group of co-knitters or maybe due to the beautiful cable scarf that I just got off my needles, I have been feeling less like a newby lately and ready to tackle some more complex projects. I wanted to try my first garment!

I found this beautiful shrug designed by Lion Brand Yarns. The name of the Shrug is 'EASY Lace Shrug'. So really, how hard could it be??

I was inspired. I was confident. I had a plan. I headed off to my knitting group with the pattern and picture in hand and a list of questions to ask the more experienced knitters. I understood all the stitches in the pattern. With a little patience and focus, what could possibly go wrong?

They assured my that I could handle this. I selected some beautiful jewel ruby yarn to knit with and I was off to knitting my gauge swatch. (I had never even knitted a gauge before because I selected items that it was unimportant, so I was feeling super proud!)

Prepare yourself for the dramatic turning point in my story....

After knitting a few inches in my shell lace pattern. I handed the swatch over to a more experienced knitter to get her opinion on if I had enough to determine my gauge.

She studied my knitting for a while then said "Let me just watch you knit a few rows."

I knew that this couldn't be good, but I had not yet grasped the depth of the situation. So, away I knitted with my experienced guide looking over my shoulder.

"Well," she started after a couple of rows were complete. "You are knitting in the 'Eastern European' style"

"I'm knitting in the what? Are you making that up?"

"No no, you're doing OK, there is no wrong way to knit" (so sweet of her to say, but really a little too kind) "you are just twisting every stitch that you knit, so your knitting is a little tighter and compressed."

What she was telling my in her very sweet and encouraging way, is that I do not know how to knit. I have been doing every single stitch incorrectly. I could literally feel any knitting ego I had built over the last two years come crashing down around me.

I poured a glass of wine and ate some chocolate.

I took a deep breath.

"OK, can you show me how I should do a knit stitch?"