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BY Lindsay Reinsmith, Founder and CEO of Kaeng Raeng

One of the things I enjoy least is going to a restaurant the night of Valentine’s Day.  What a nightmare.  Mediocre food.  High prices.  Elbow to elbow with other patrons.  AWFUL service.  Yet everyone flocks to the nearest restaurant slightly more expensive than they’re used to and stuffs their faces with prix fixe menus only to go home and fall into a food coma.

Not us!  My boyfriend, Jason, and I have never made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day (since we love each other the other 364 days of the year…), but we do like to stay in and cook together to honor the occasion.  In past years, I’ve made a mostly vegan meal with a meat entree for him.  But this year, as part of his (and mine) dedication to staying healthy, we did a total vegan dinner.  What did he think of it?  Drum roll….

He loved it!  As a runner (and generally busy guy), Jason needs wholesome, filling meals and often gets hungry about an hour after eating an all-veggie salad.  So I had to get creative to make him a great vegan meal that wasn’t a bunch of carbs. He was full before we even got to the entree!

Here was the menu (I apologize for the grainy photos – I took these pictures with my phone in low light and the quality isn’t great)

Appetizer

Organic asparagus, sauteed in a pan with a small amount of organic extra virgin olive oil, lemon pepper, and sea salt.

This is a super easy dish to make – just pick up asparagus at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, throw it in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil on medium heat.  After you’ve cooked them for a little while, just drizzle some lemon pepper (or lemon juice plus pepper), and lightly salt to taste.  You can also have it raw – just don’t heat above 118 degrees.

Salad

This is my go-to dish when I’m dining alone, but it also makes a great starter.  Salads can be ruined by 1. not enough awesome ingredients, and 2. too much dressing.  Our salad had spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, walnuts, and organic avocado.  I added 1 tbsp of light balsamic dressing (Newmans) to the ENTIRE bowl of salad (not just my serving).  The key to dressing is to always always always measure it out.  Don’t just pour it all over the salad.  You only need a light taste!  Not salad soup!

Entree

Stuffed peppers!  You can see the original recipe for this dish, but I usually just wing it. I made 4 of these so we could have two as left overs but one pepper serves one person just fine.  The original recipe has many more ingredients – it’s totally up to you!

You’ll need:
-4 red peppers (or however many people you’re serving)

-1 orange pepper

-1 yellow pepper

-mushrooms

-squash or zucchini

-onions

-“butter” (I use earth balance)

-olive oil

-sea salt

-pepper

-garlic

-tomato sauce

-brown rice

-wok

-sauce pan

-baking pan (bread size)

-large mixing bowl

Cook 1 cup of organic brown rice (a great whole grain!) with 2 cups of water, 1 tbsp of Earth Balance “butter,” and some sea salt in the sauce pan. This can take up to 45 minutes to cook, so start this early!

Cut out the tops of the red peppers, wash them, set them in a cooking pan (a bread sized pan is fine).  Set your oven to 350 degrees (this dish cannot be served raw).

In a wok, saute the olive oil, onions, squash (finely cut), mushrooms (finely cut), peppers (finely cut), garlic, and drizzle on salt and pepper for taste.

Pour the sauteed veggie mix in a bowl with the brown rice and stir.  Using a spoon, scoop the mixture into the stuffed peppers.  Cover with tomato sauce.

Heat in the oven for 35-45 minutes (this is really for heat preference, all of the ingredients are already cooked or can be eaten raw).

While the peppers are heating, enjoy your appetizer and salad!

Dessert

I try to stay away from sugar (fruit) after noon, but I like to make an exception for holidays. I cut up organic strawberries, put tooth picks in them, and had them for dipping in Whole Foods vegan chocolate pudding.  The pudding is pretty cocoa forward (I’m sure you can make your own but I got lazy) but it was delicious!

Overall a very successful vegan dinner – boyfriend approved!

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By Lucy Danziger, the Editor-in-Chief of SELF magazine

Some people are lucky: They seem to be born with a naturally high metabolism and slender physique that requires little exercise and calorie counting to maintain. My mother, God bless her, is one such person. I am not! So it’s a good thing I love to run, bike and swim. But when SELF asked experts about the habits that slow metabolism, I was surprised by some of their answers—and guilty of a few no-no’s myself (see number 1…and 2…and…). Fortunately, these habits are also totally fixable. Start paying attention to them today, and you’ll become one of the lucky ones—or at least look like one—in no time!

1. Scrimping on shut-eye

Catching zzz’s may help you stay slim, reveals research presented at the annual American Thoracic Society meeting in San Diego. In the study of more than 68,000 women, those who slept seven hours weighed 5.5 pounds less than women who slept five hours or less. Pulling frequent all-nighters may slow your metabolism, impairing your body’s ability to utilize food and nutrients as energy so they get stored as fat instead, scientists say.

2. Stressing out

When you’re on edge, you’re likely to sleep less and eat more, which can affect your thyroid, a gland that produces hormones which regulate metabolism, body temperature, heart rate and more. If your thyroid’s not producing enough of those hormones, it can slow your metabolism and other body functions, leading to weight gain, depression and fatigue. Take time for yourself daily to keep both your thyroid and metabolism humming at optimal levels.

3. Skipping breakfast

People often tell me they hate breakfast foods; I tell them, find something you can eat within an hour of waking up! Missing a morning meal is the worst thing you can do. It slows metabolism and depletes your body of the fuel it needs to function optimally, explains celebrity nutritionist Joy Bauer, R.D. But what you eat matters as much as the fact that you eat something. Simple, unrefined carbohydrates—as in a breakfast muffin or pastry—signal the brain to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that brings on calm when you most want to be up and at ’em. Also, your body digests simple carbs quickly, sending blood sugar soaring and then plummeting, resulting in an energy crash. Try to start each day with a breakfast that contains at least 5 grams of protein, which activates the production of norepinephrine, a neurochemical that increase heart rate and alertness. The nutrient also digests slowly, so blood sugar and energy levels stay stable. Try an omelet made with 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 oz lowfat shredded cheese; it delivers an impressive 22 g protein per serving.

4. Staying seated

Get out of that chair! Staying on your feet revs metabolism and doubles your calorie burn during workdays, a study in Diabetes reports. Sitting for a few hours switches off enzymes that capture fat in the bloodstream, but standing up and getting active reignites them. Surrender your seat when possible (e.g., during phone calls) to start reaping benefits.

5. Eating junk food

I love a French cruller as much as the next gal, but it turns out doughnuts can be double diet trouble. Not only do sugary, fatty treats add calories and fat to your daily tally (a Dunkin’ Donuts cruller packs 250 calories and 20 g fat), but they can also encourage your body to store more fat. Junk food might stimulate a gene that encourages your body to store excess fat, causing you to gain weight over time, a study in The FASEB Journal reveals. (In the study, mice without the troublemaking gene had 45 percent lower body fat after eating a high-fat and high-sugar diet for 16 weeks compared to critters with the gene who ate the same diet.) Quell a sweet craving with berries or an orange: They’re high in vitamin C, a nutrient that can help you sizzle up to 30 percent more fat during exercise, suggests research from Arizona State University at Mesa.

6. Falling into a workout rut

I hear it all the time: “I’ve almost reached my goal weight, but those last 5 (stubborn!) pounds just won’t come off.” Sound familiar? Weight loss can stall along the way partly because you get smaller. As you shrink, there is less of you to provide energy for, so you actually start to need fewer calories. These plateaus can last weeks, so rather than get frustrated, try new workouts or ways to eat healthy to keep your metabolism going strong and your body burning even more calories than before.

7. Dodging the weight room

Although cardio sessions turn up the heat and burn big-time calories (which is why I run, bike or swim most mornings and still enjoy dessert!), lifting weights helps you build calorie-burning lean muscle, says Jeffrey Garber, M.D., author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Overcoming Thyroid Problems (McGraw-Hill). And with more lean muscle, you extend the burn to when you’re just sitting at your desk or in the car. Add weight-bearing exercises like planks, lunges, squats and tricep dips to your workouts three times a week, and you’ll see toning results like you’ve never experienced before!

Good luck, healthy girl!

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By Jeff Yeager, The Daily Green

(Photo: Robin Macdougall / Getty Images)

If you are what you eat, then I should weigh-in at under $1 a pound.

That’s because, as a general rule of thumb, I try to only buy foodstuffs that costs under a buck per pound. Under $1 a pound, year-round — that’s my grocery shopping mantra.

It’s not just because I’m a world-class penny-pincher and smart shopper; believe it or not, it’s also about eating healthier. When you look at the USDA’s “food pyramid,” many of the things we should be eating the most of — grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables — happen to cost the least.

It’s often the stuff that’s bad for us (at least in large quantities) like red meat, fatty dairy products, and processed foods high in trans saturated fats, that cost the most, on a per pound basis.

To prove my point, I’ve put together this list of 50 healthy foods that I’ve purchased at least once in the last six months for under $1 a pound.

So rev-up your shopping cart, but be careful: There’s a Green Cheapskate loose on aisle five!

  • Apples – One a day keeps the cheapskate away.
  • Asparagus – HUGE store special at 99 cents a pound during Easter week. I bought 10 pounds, blanched it, and then froze it.
  • Bananas – Potassium for pennies.
  • Barley – A tasty alternative to rice and potatoes.
  • Beans – Canned or dried. Kidney, pinto, navy, black, red, and many more.
  • Bok choy – Steam and serve with a little soy sauce.
  • Broccoli – Yes, a store special. Usually closer to $2 per pound.
  • Bulgar wheat – Try it in pilaf or a tabouleh salad.
  • Cabbage – Green and red. I like mine fried.
  • Cantaloupe – No, sorry, I can’t; I’m already married.
  • Carrots – Raw or steamed. Rich in carotenes, a healthy antioxidant.
  • Celery – Stir-fry it for a change.
  • Chicken – Whole or various parts, on sale.
  • Chickpeas – AKA garbanzo beans — mash ’em up as a healthy sandwich spread.
  • Cornmeal – “Polenta” is all the rage these days, but I loved it 40 years ago when Mom called it “cornmeal mush.”
  • Cucumbers – Try peeling, seeding, and steaming with a little butter and salt.
  • Daikon radish – My new favorite raw veggie.
  • Eggs – Don’t overdo them, but eggs provide high quality protein and still cost about $1 per pound. (Plus, there are many eggscellent things you can do with the shells.)
  • Green beans – Frozen, but fresh are sometimes on sale for under $1 a pound in-season.
  • Greens – Kale, mustard, turnip, and collard greens are rich in vitamins and a good source of fiber. Here’s how I cook ’em.
  • Grapes – Store special at 99 cents a pound.
  • Grapefruit – Bake with a little brown sugar on top for a healthy dessert.
  • Lentils – Perhaps the perfect food — healthy, cheap, and versatile. Think soups, salads, sandwich spreads — and those are only some of the “s” possibilities.
  • Liver – Chicken livers usually cost under $1 a pound, and sometimes beef and pork liver can be found in the DMZ (“Dollar Maximum Zone”).
  • Mangoes – High in fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • Milk – Yep, on a per-pound basis, milk still costs well under $1 a pound.
  • Napa cabbage – Delicious steamed or raw in a salad.
  • Oatmeal – The good old-fashioned “slow cooking” kind … that takes all of five minutes.
  • Onions – Try baking them whole in a cream sauce.
  • Oranges – Frequent sale price when in-season.
  • Pasta – Store special at 89 cents a pound — I nearly bought them out!
  • Peanut butter – Special sale price, but stock up because it usually has a long shelf life.
  • Pork – Inexpensive cuts of pork frequently go on sale for 99 cents per pound or less; sometimes even ham during the holidays.
  • Potatoes – White and red, Baked, mashed, boiled, broiled, steamed.
  • Pumpkin – Yes, you can eat the same ones you buy as holiday decorations, and they usually cost under 50 cents a pound.
  • Rice – White for under $1 a pound; brown, a little more expensive but better for you.
  • Rutabagas – Hated them as a kid; can’t get enough of them now.
  • Sour cream – 99 cents on sale, but long shelf life, so stock up. My cucumber awaits.
  • Spinach – Frozen (but Popeye doesn’t care).
  • Split peas – Add a hambone and make the ultimate comfort soup. Try it in the crock-pot!
  • Squash – Try baking acorn squash with a little brown sugar.
  • Sweet corn – Canned or fresh on the cob, in-season. (Try this recipe for summer corn fritters.)
  • Tomatoes – Canned are often better than fresh to use in cooking, and occasionally you can find fresh on sale for under a buck, in-season.
  • Turkey – A popular bargain-priced, loss-leader around the holidays — buy an extra bird and freeze it for later.
  • Turnips – Make me think of my grandparents, who always grew them.
  • Watermelon – Whole, in-season melons can sometime cost less than 20 cents a pound if they’re on sale and you find a big one.
  • Wine – Well, at least the stuff I drink — a 5-liter box (approximately 11 pounds) for about 10 bucks, on sale. (BTW, the beer I drink is even less expensive per pound.)
  • Yams/sweet potatoes – One of the healthiest foods you can eat, and usually available year-round for under $1 a pound.
  • Yogurt – 8-ounce containers on sale, two for $1.
  • Zucchini – OK, they’re a type of squash (above). But I love them so much they deserve their own place on the list. Plus they look great in pantyhose.

Here are a few disclaimers about my list-o-50:

No, I don’t live on another planet or in a part of the country where the cost of living is deflated. In fact, I live and shop in the Washington, D.C., metro area, which has one of the highest costs of living (and groceries) in the country.

No, I’m not saying that all of these items are available in every store, at all times. But if you shop carefully, you can always find at least some variety of these foods around which to plan your meals.

Many of the items on the list (e.g., most root vegetables, bananas, beans, etc.) can usually be purchased for under $1 pound even when not on sale or in-season. Other items on the list were “store specials” and typically would cost more than $1 a pound, and/or they were in-season so cost less.

No, none of the items on my under $1-a-pound list are organically grown. The pros/cons of that debate aside, for most people with a limited budget, the choice isn’t whether or not to buy expensive organic, it’s whether or not to eat highly processed crap like fast food or eat inexpensive healthy foods like those on my list. (See the dirty dozen foods with the most pesticides to maximize organic purchases.)

No, I’m not saying that by eating only these foods you’ll have a complete, healthy diet. But they certainly can be the backbone around which to plan healthy, inexpensive menus for your family.

No, I don’t burn up a lot of time and gas by running around to a lot of different grocery stores, and I rarely use coupons. I shop only once every week or two, and I usually shop at only one or two stores.

I plan my meals around the-best-of-the-best weekly store specials (aka the “loss-leaders”), the sale items that are usually on the front page of the weekly circular most stores publish. If you’re not a creative cook like me, try a website like Delish or Epicurious, where you can enter the ingredients you have to work with and get all kinds of recipes.

Now look at all the money you’ve saved!

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By Liz Coughlin

If you need a hand whipping your body into shape quickly, there are few better people to turn to than Jillian Michaels, one half of the dynamic duo from “The Biggest Loser.”

[Check out the 5 things Jillian Michaels wants us to learn from “Losing It” on Shine.]

We recently spoke with the fitness trainer about a common struggle: managing belly fat (it is summer, after all). Here are her top five tips, in her own words:

  1. A big part of ab definition is managing water weight. This means that you should reduce your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day and up your water intake to 80 ounces a day. The more water you drink, the less water you will hold.
  2. Eat foods that are high in potassium (like watermelon). This will help you reduce bloat, giving definition to your abs. Other things to try: cranberry juice mixed with water, dandelion tea, asparagus, and try taking a couple teaspoons a day of apple cider vinegar. This vinegar helps to maintain healthy levels of potassium in your body.
  3. You can spot-reduce belly fat, but you have to engage in a regimen that burns body fat. This means counting calories so that you are burning excess body fat.
  4. When you hit the gym, go hard. Work at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for optimal fat-shedding results. Try workouts that are core-based and use multiple muscle groups, like mixed martial arts or Yoga flow.
  5. Avoid processed foods, alcohol, and lack of sleep. Those three things increase cortisol levels, which is one of the hormones believed responsible for storing belly fat.

    Jillian’s on her own this summer, starring in a new show, “Losing It With Jillian.” The premise is simple: Jillian travels across the United States, helping families who are desperately in need of health and wellness improvement. Sure, she is dominant and occasionally yells (it’s her signature method for motivation), but she is also kind, encouraging, and very insightful. Just like its sister show, this one is sure to inspire America.

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    By: SusanVoison, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

    The short story behind it is that I saw it, or the one it’s based on, in Eating Well magazine, and couldn’t resist making it, with a few changes: 1) Instead of tofu I used pinto beans. 2) Then I doubled the amount of pinto beans because I wanted it main-dishier (see, I’m making up words; swearing can’t be far behind). 3) I used Mexican oregano instead of epizote because I like Mexican oregano and don’t have any epizote. 4) I added chipotle powder because I wanted it to be spicier (without it, it’s deeply chile-flavored but not spicy at all). 5) I divided it into 6 servings instead of 8 because my family and I eat like pigs (only messier) and because I wanted it to be main-dishier (see #2).

    Tortilla Soup with Pinto Beans

    Tortilla Soup with Pinto Beans
    (printer-friendly version)

    Adding pinto beans makes this more of a main dish soup, but it could be even heartier with more greens and vegetables added.

    3 large dried New Mexico chiles (or pasilla or ancho chiles)
    1 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, peeled
    1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
    1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
    4 cups vegetable broth or no-chicken broth
    4 cups water
    3 cups pinto beans, cooked
    salt to taste
    6 corn tortillas
    1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges
    1 ripe large avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
    4 cups chopped spinach, chard, or kale leaves (packed)

    Toast the chiles. If you have a gas stove, you can hold them with tongs over the flame one at a time for a few seconds until fragrant. But if like me you use an electric stove, put them in a dry skillet over medium heat and press them flat for a few seconds on each side.

    When the chilies are cool enough to handle, stem and seed them, tear them into pieces, and put them in a blender along with tomatoes and their juice.

    Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Spray lightly with olive oil (optional) and add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour it all into the blender along with the chipotle powder and process until smooth.

    Return the pot to medium heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. (Careful–watch for hot, bubbling “eruptions”!) Add broth, water, oregano (if using), and drained pinto beans. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.

    While the soup is cooking, prepare the tortillas. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut each tortilla in half (can be done in a stack if you have a sharp knife). Then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Place the strips in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool uncovered until soup is ready.

    Add spinach (or chard or kale) to the soup and season with salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes for spinach, longer for chard or kale.

    Ladle the soup into 6 soup bowls. Divide avocado and tortilla chips among the bowls. Serve warm, with lime wedges.

    Servings: 6 large servings


    Nutrition Facts

    Nutrition (per serving): 282 calories, 53 calories from fat, 6.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 489.1mg sodium, 799.2mg potassium, 47.8g carbohydrates, 13.7g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 12.4g protein, 5.4 points.

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    By Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention

    Weight loss requires two things: burning calories through exercise and cutting them through smart food choices and portion control. In theory, you could create a calorie deficit by spending hours at the gym, but that’s not realistic-or much fun. And who wants to live on lettuce leaves? Instead, try these seven everyday moves to drop pounds effortlessly.

    1. Fidget

    James Levine, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has spent a decade studying the role that everyday movement, or

    NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis), plays in metabolism. His discovery: People who tap their feet, prefer standing to sitting, and generally move around a lot burn up to 350 more calories a day than those who sit still. That adds up to nearly 37 pounds a year!

    2. Keep most meals under 400 calories

    Study after study recommends spacing out your meals at regular intervals and keeping them all about the same size. Eating meals at regular intervals has been linked to greater calorie burning after eating, better response to insulin, and lower fasting blood cholesterol levels.

    When you eat regular meals throughout the day, you’re less likely to become ravenous and overeat.

    3. Take yourself off cruise control

    Increase the intensity of your everyday tasks, from vacuuming to walking the dog, recommends Douglas Brooks, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer in Northern California. “Turn on some music, add in some vigorous bursts, and enjoy the movement,” he says.

    4. Drink 8 glasses of water per day

    Water is not just a thirst quencher–it may speed the body’s metabolism. Researchers in Germany found that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of cold water increased their subjects’ metabolic rate by 30%, and the effect persisted for 90 minutes. One-third of the boost came from the body’s efforts to warm the water, but the rest was due to the work the body did to absorb it. “When drinking water, no calories are ingested but calories are used, unlike when drinking sodas, where additional calories are ingested and possibly stored,” explains the lead researcher, Michael Boschmann, MD, of University Medicine Berlin. Increasing

    water consumption to eight glasses per day may help you lose about 8 pounds in a year, he says, so try drinking a glass before meals and snacks and before consuming sweetened drinks or juices.

    5. Step it up–and down

    Climbing stairs is a great leg strengthener, because you’re lifting your body weight against gravity. In addition to taking the stairs at every opportunity, try stepping up and down on the curb while you’re waiting for the bus or filling your gas tank, says Brooks.

    6. Use grocery bags as dumbbells

    Letting someone else load your groceries or carry your suitcase is an opportunity missed for strengthening and calorie burning, says certified coach Beth Rothenberg, who teaches a class for fitness professionals at UCLA. “Carry your groceries, balanced with a bag in each hand, even if you have to make several trips,” she says. “And pack two smaller suitcases instead of one big one, so you can carry them yourself.”

    7. Eat 4 g of fiber at every meal

    A high-fiber diet can lower your caloric intake without making you feel deprived. In a Tufts University study, women who ate 13 g of fiber or less per day were five times as likely to be overweight as those who ate more fiber. Experts see a number of mechanisms through which fiber promotes weight loss: It may slow down eating because it requires more chewing, speed the passage of food through the digestive tract, and boost satiety hormones. To get 25 g of fiber a day, make sure you eat six meals or snacks, each of which contains about 4 g of fiber. For to-go snacks, buy fruit; it’s handier than vegetables, so it’s an easy way to up your fiber intake. One large apple has just as much fiber (5 g) as a cup of raw broccoli.

    Good luck, healthy girl!

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    By Dr. Maoshing Ni

    The healing power of soup: something that both scientists and grandmothers can agree on. From helping you lose weight to warming you up from the inside out to boosting your immunity, soup is a winter staple that you shouldn’t be without. Maybe that is one reason that it is celebrated this month with its very own National Soup Month. Here’s a closer look at what you can do to benefit from soup’s amazing healing powers.

    The healing power of soup
    An ancient Chinese proverb states that a good doctor uses food first, then resorts to medicine. A healing soup can be your first step in maintaining your health and preventing illness. The therapeutic value of soup comes from the ease with which your body can assimilate the nutrients from the ingredients, which have been broken down by simmering.

    Here are some healing soup tips that will preserve your wellness and longevity:

    1. Lose weight with soup
    Obesity is on the rise throughout the industrialized world, resulting in a startling increase in the rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. You can count yourself out of the statistics if you eat a bowl of soup at least once a day. Nutritious low-salt soups will nourish you as they flush excess wastes from your body. It has been found that people who eat one serving of soup per day lose more weight than those who eat the same amount of calories, but don’t eat soup. Homemade soup is your best bet, because canned soups tend to be loaded with salt and chemicals. My advice is to use organic vegetables whenever possible. The herbicides and pesticides that can be present in conventional produce can assault the immune system and overload it with toxins.

    2. Build your immunity
    Your immune system needs a lot of minerals to function properly and the typical Western diet does not always hit the mark. When you slowly simmer foods over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value of the foods. Keep in mind that boiling can destroy half of the vitamins found in vegetables, so cook soup over a low heat.

    Immune-Boosting Soup
    Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes: cabbage, carrots, fresh ginger, onion, oregano, shiitake mushrooms (if dried, they must be soaked first), the seaweed of your choice, and any type of squash in chicken or vegetable stock. Cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection, ginger supports healthy digestion, and seaweed cleanses the body. Shiitake mushrooms contain coumarin, polysaccharides, and sterols, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and well-being. Eat this soup every other day to build a strong and healthy immune system.

    3. Detoxify your body

    As a liquid, soup is already helping you flush waste from your body. When you choose detoxifying ingredients, such as the ones featured in the recipe below, you are really treating your body to an internal cleanse. The broth below boasts many benefits: it supports the liver in detoxification, increases circulation, reduces inflammation, and replenishes your body with essential minerals.

    Super Detoxifying Broth
    Simmer the following for 1–2 hours over a low flame: anise, brussels sprouts, cabbage, Swiss chard, cilantro, collards, dandelion, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, mustard greens, daikon radish, seaweed, turmeric, and watercress. Drink 8 to 12 ounces twice a day. You can keep this broth in your fridge for up to one week; however, it is always best to serve soups when fresh because each day, the therapeutic value decreases.

    In addition to using cleansing herbs in soups, you can take cleansing herbs in supplements. For a gentle but powerful cleanse using Chinese herbs, Internal Cleanse increases the ability of the liver to cleanse the body of internal and environmental toxins.

    4. Warm up with a hearty soup
    You always want to eat for the season. Soups provide something the body craves in cold weather. When you cook foods into a soup, you are adding a lot of what Chinese nutrition would call “warming energy” into the food. Warming foods to feature in your soups include: leeks, onions, turnips, spinach, kale, broccoli, quinoa, yams, squash, garlic, scallions, and parsley. As a spice, turmeric aids with circulation, a great boost against the cold weather.

    5. Get well faster
    As you mother may have instinctively known, when you are sick, there is no better healing food than soup. The reason for this is that soups and stews don’t require as much energy to digest, freeing your body up to fight the infection.

    It would be impossible to talk about soup’s healing abilities without putting the spotlight on homemade chicken noodle soup. Studies have found that chicken noodle soup does seem to relieve the common cold by inhibiting inflammation — helping to break up congestion and ease the flow of nasal secretions.

    While chicken soup may not cure a cold outright, it does help alleviate some of the symptoms and can help as a preventative measure. Many of my patient’s keep the herbal formula Cold & Flu in their medicine cabinets so its there to support recovery when a cold strikes.

    In Chinese medicine, you would traditionally be given a tonic soup specifically tailored to your needs, and for that level of personal care, it is a good idea to consult a health practitioner knowledgeable in Chinese nutrition.

    I hope you have gotten a taste of the healing power of soup! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

    Good luck, healthy girl!

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