Not All Snacks Are Created Equal 

Face it. We all snack. Especially if there are kids in the house. We’re all guilty of mindlessly chomping away and a bag of Doritos or a couple rows of Oreos later, we’re not even hungry…it just happened, like magic.

We’ve all done it. Easy. Relatively inexpensive. Tasty. There’s probably something staring at you from your pantry or tucked away in your fridge, right now, and like a moth to a flame, you’re now suddenly interested and thinking about a Netflix and binge marathon.

No shame. No judgement. It’s “Julia’s Law” – your desire for food is directly proportional to how badly you probably shouldn’t have it.

Yet, with Thanksgiving just a couple weeks away, and I heard Christmas carols playing today while grocery shopping, we all know weight gain this time of year is likely inevitable, but we all want to look our, sveltest, skinniest best for the family and friends we only see once every 12 months or so (see? Julia’s Law).

While we could all probably work on portion control, like knowing a standard serving of potato chips is about 150 calories for 14-15 chips or that a standard size candy bar is roughly 220 calories per serving, and there’s two servings, I’m not here to fat shame or talk you out of wiping your orange fingers on the dog and stepping away from the Cheetos. With the next six weeks being a food lovers dream, I’d just like to share some snacking ideas to help you keep off the pounds and take the guilt out of having that second slice of Aunt Betty’s famous pumpkin pie.


1. The fruit and veggie facts. 

We know fruits and veggies are good for us. Hell, I have a couple pints of blackberries sitting here giving me the eye right now. But, there’s a couple things that can make a healthy, low-cal snack, not so nutritious in no time.

Dips and Sauces

I love broccoli, but you’ll never catch me eating it, especially raw, without something else. Same goes for apples (if you don’t think caramel on an apple is a glorious thing, you’re doing it wrong). But, sauces and dips can be loaded with fat, calories and we tend to “over-dip” because, duh! That’s the best part! The fruit/vegetable is just the vessel so you can avoid the shame of eating your dip with a spoon (again, no judgement. I’ve sat and watched my husband eat an entire jar of marshmallow fluff like a pudding cup). Read the nutrition facts first. Serving sizes are small (measure it out and see how many carrots you get with the standard two tablespoons of ranch, or whatever your flavor, dip). Instead, consider low fat/low calorie options (just because something is labeled “low fat”, does not make it so. Always double check – or, if you must have ranch dip, consider buying Greek yogurt or low calorie sour cream and one of those packages of dip mix and making your own so you control the calories), or healthier options like hummus, nut butters, plain Greek yogurt or even things like mustard, horseradish sauces (including wasabi), fruit butters, hot sauce, vinegar like malt or balsamic, or guacamole. Yeah, theres still some pretty high-cal options on that list, but those are good fat calories, the ones your body can use, and don’t pack quite as much sugar, fillers and preservatives, so you can feel a bit less guilty about double dipping.

Convenience 

If it’s prepackaged, it’s going to be less nutritious. Vitamins and minerals are lost in the packaging and preserving process. But, sometimes you just can’t avoid it. I adore pickled vegetables, and I could pickle my own okra or asparagus or cukes, but I just don’t have the time and resources, so a jar it is, especially if said vegetable is out of season. I love olives, but those olive bars in grocery and specialty shops are expensive! Unless they have some reduced or one hell of a sale, those bad boys are coming from the canned/jarred veggie aisle. And, it’s a special breed of insanity that makes anyone want to skin and core a pineapple; if you’re really bored some day, try hacking a coconut (have 911 on speed dial). But, when you can, buy fresh and prepare it yourself (which, fun fact – baby carrots are not a special breed. They originated with a farmer who was losing tons of his carrot crops due to them being undersized or ugly/misshapen. So he peeled them and cut them into what’s in that bag you probably have in your fridge for school lunches. However, after undergoing peeling, they get bathed in chemicals to prevent browning, retain freshness and extend shelf life. Your call.).

2. Try something new

I love chickpeas/garbanzo beans (whatever you refer to them as). I love hummus and even eat them on pizza. Roasting them though, gives them a light, satisfying crunch and make an excellent snack, chock-full of protein. With the foodie I am, I’d read about them numerous times but hadn’t gotten around to trying them until last weekend at a monthly wine club my husband and I attend. They serve snacks and pallet cleansers and hors d’oeuvres, which these crunchy, roasted, chipotle seasoned chickpeas were amongst. Delicious! A bag came home with us! Supremely satisfying at taking the edge off my salty cravings, too. Maybe sub them for croutons on a salad or crackers in soup. The bag even recommends adding them to party mix, which you know someone will be serving , so maybe you bring the cereal snack we all know and love and add these (let’s face it…the triple pretzel method leaves a lot to be desired). Edamame “chips” (rather the roasted pods and caviar, which is what the “seeds” or “beans” inside  are actually called), a handful of nuts, and toasted veggie chips and crackers (just because they’re vegetable flavored does not mean they have any suitable source of veggies, so watch that) can all be super delicious and curb your salty, crunchy, savory cravings with tons of protein and other nutrients. Just avoid those puffy looking veggie sticks and snacks found in the chip aisle – yanno, the name brand involves a sailor and his treasure (or backside – however you like to think about it). They have no more nutritional value than a bag of potato chips.

3. If sweet is your go to treat…

Next time you’re tempted to grab a pudding cup or bowl of ice cream, grab a Greek yogurt instead. Personally, I prefer Oikos. However, those Chobani flips aren’t bad either. Again, protein. And, tons of it. You can get all your favorite ice cream flavors (even chocolate!), get that same sweet, creamy feel, but much better at nipping hunger pangs and filling you up. Much less guilt, too.

Why are we so damn hung up on protein? 

Protein is the building block of the human body, from muscle to hair. The body processes it easier than carbs, facilitating muscle strength and repair, fills you up without the carb crash and provides steady, consistent energy. I’m not saying you need to go on that famous diet that Sharon Osbourne will try and shove down your throat as her testimony to weight loss and health. In fact, you may occasionally see me discuss my weight loss of 150lbs, most of which I dropped in five months, but every body is different. Which is why your BFF may swear by “X” diet but you gained 10lbs on it. I will say the diet I used was a high protein diet. However, I don’t necessarily advocate it to others, nor will you ever see any diet being recommended on GF. If you’re considering a diet, I recommend you speak with your doctor and perhaps a nutritionist. They know you – I don’t. They are much more qualified to recommend what may work best for you. I will say, I tried (and inevitably failed) several before finding the one that worked for me. I’ve drank the disgusting shakes. Ate the gross bars. Soup, salad, more cardio, more weights. You name it. Protein is amazing though, and while it may or may not help with any weight issues you may or may not have, it’s going to build/repair muscle, strengthen hair and nails and help your skin glow. Plus, help kill cravings. Sounds like a good deal to me!

4. This sounds good, but you can’t live without…

Doritos? BBQ potato chips? Ice cream? Whatever your snacking pleasure is, don’t completely deny yourself! Like a diet, it’s a set up for failure of you completely deny yourself everything you love. Splurge! But, watch your portions, maybe cut back (or cut back/cut out other, lesser favorites) and ask yourself if you’re really hungry before you dive in. Most studies show that if you can occupy yourself for about 10 minutes when the snacking urge strikes, you’ll find it lessens or quits because it’s often boredom, not hunger, that has us crunching and munching. Read something. Take a walk. Pop in a movie. Take some silly FB personality quizzes. If you’re still hungry, go for it (in moderation!). Try getting your mind off it, first though. And, forget paying twice as much for those “calorie packs” – make your own! Stock up on zip seal bags and portion snacks for yourself. This way, you grab a pre-portioned bag and aren’t as tempted to have “just one or two more…”. Works for the kids, too, especially when they’re being a pain to begin with. You grab little Susie or Johnny a pre-portioned bag, they know their “limit” and there’s no meltdown because they can’t have the whole bag. They wanna scarf ’em down or savor them – choice is theirs! So, you’re helping them learn portion control, limits and other healthy eating habits all at the same time. And, don’t be afraid to tell them no to a second bag, either. Trust me. They won’t die. You may want to at first, but you’re doing us all a favor in the long run.

5. Avoid drinking your snack

Studies show drinking calories is much less gratifying than actually chewing them. Pre-made juices, smoothies and shakes are typically more sugar than anything. There’s that crash again, as soon as your body’s processed it. Won’t lie. This is a hard time of year for me, because we have a local grinder and sub chain that produces a fruit slush (what made them famous around here). They have four flavors year ’round and each month have a specialty flavor. Well, October and November are the two months I have to have the FOTM. My husband isn’t a fan of them, but indulges me. They do include actual fruit and probably beat the hell out of a fast food shake. I can’t say I honestly feel full after having one though and I’m sure if I read the nutrition facts and saw the sugar and calorie count, I may have a heart attack. It’s one of my splurges though (re-read #4 if you missed that). Otherwise, consider making your own juice or smoothies to control everything from sugar to calories to flavor. Also, check the alcohol aisle. Seriously. A lot of drink mixers (the ones you just add the booze to) actually have more juice and less sugar than brands you may find in the juice aisle. Seriously! We’re big Bloody Mary folks (as you should know) and we buy Mr&Mrs T or Zing Zang over the tomato juices in the juice aisle. Alcoholic or not. The flavor is better and so is the nutritional value. That famous tomato juice – the one with a letter and number in the name – is typically 5% juice, where the mixers run about 95% juice. Tough call.

6. Read ingredients and nutrition information religiously 

Formulas change. Suppliers switch. New and improved often means cheaper ingredients and a heftier price tag. Know what’s going in your mouth before you buy. Some may surprise you – for better or worse. Also, those values can change depending on flavor (chips for example) or how they’re produced (let’s say baked versus fried). Like those chips that “once you pop, you can’t stop”, and those ones that, “you can’t eat just one”? Check them both and opt for the lesser evil. Trust me. Having food allergies and having lost and kept so much weight off, for so long, I am that person you will see in the middle of the aisle reading everything. I’m used to it. My hubby, not so much. He will attest to what a pain in the ass it is. As silly as it sounds, this alone will make you far more conscious about exactly what you’re eating.

7. Just like dieting…

Avoid mindlessly eating (again, see #4). Avoid snacking away as you’re watching TV, surfing the web, or engrossed in a good book. Stop those activities and move to the dining room table. You’ll eat less because you’re eager to get back to your movie/FBing/reading, be more conscious about what you’re eating and notice when you’re full, faster and easier since you’re concentrating on the task at hand and not distracted, just going through the motions. It takes on average 20 minutes for your brain to send your stomach the memo that you’re full (for meals at least – since snacking is typically meant to tide one over between meals, that time should be a bit less).

8. Don’t shop on an empty stomach 

Everything is libel to look extra delicious when you’re starving! That’s two bags of chips in your cart instead of one. That’s butter pecan ice cream because you haven’t had it in years and now you suddenly must. That’s all those over-processed foods (#1) that you’re buying in a hurry because you want to eat. Keep a healthy treat like a bag of almonds or a granola bar in your purse/car for unexpected shopping trips or snack before you go. A list can help, but not when you’re dying of hunger and there’s a candy bar in the checkout lane that just tempted you. Again, guilty. Craig and I did some of our Thanksgiving shopping today (when name brand butter is under $2.00 a box, you jump!) and while I wasn’t remotely hungry when we left – by the time I smelled bread being baked and ripe apples by the display-full and onions being cooked in the deli area…my list went out the window. I had impulse moments before we were even close to the magazines and chocolate bars. I don’t eat much, but being hungry suddenly led to me grabbing far more carb-a-licious, calorie laden, junk food than I would have grabbed had I not been salivating all over the poor man sampling New York Crunch Rolls (sushi). I was HANGRY at that point. So, now I sit here snacking on soft pretzel bites and over-processed cheese food product, with a side of peppermint and chocolate sandwich cookies, rather than my typical broccoli and hummus and those blackberries I told you about earlier. Could have easily been avoided had a thrown a package of wasabi almonds or some of those chipotle chickpeas in my purse.

Which is what got me on this whole subject to begin with.

Just some simple ideas to help your holidays be happier and take the guilt out of indulging a bit this season. They say it takes three weeks to learn a new habit and if you start now, these ideas can easily help you from making a diet one of your New Year’s resolutions (or a heart attack/diabetes one of your holiday gifts).

From us to you, happy holidays and salut!

Don’t Fall Victim to This Horror Story This Halloween (or ever)!

~~~*WARNING – this story includes graphic photos and images some may find disturbing or a trigger*~~~

Tis the season for scary stories, however, this isn’t the type most people have in mind when they imagine sitting around a bonfire with a flashlight and some s’mores. While it is graphic, it does contain a very important message, that’s often overlooked. 

Yes, this happened to me. Yes, the photos are 100% real and un-retouched. 

If you’ve followed GF for awhile, you may know that I have quite a few chronic health issues. My husband and I also have a great deal of stress in our lives, both as a result of our health problems, as well as other, more personal issues. I do my best to keep GF an upbeat, lighthearted, fun place, full of the beauty this world has to offer, instead of focusing on the negative. Last week though, I had two scares, if you will, that I feel compelled to share since they are both things we (as a society) often take for granted. 

Well, one thing really, but two different incidents. 

The people we trust with our health. Namely, doctors and pharmacists

Craig and I see our PC (Primary Care Physican) monthly, because we both take narcotic class painkillers (oxycodone), which in AZ is a controlled substance and therefore we have to have a new prescription each month as opposed to automatic refills. 

We also use three different pharmacies, between us. Our main pharmacy doesn’t keep enough oxycodone on hand to fill our monthly prescriptions, nor do they keep enough Valium (which I’m on). So, he uses “X” pharmacy for his oxy and I use “Y” pharmacy for my oxy and Valium, due to which takes who’s insurance, and we use “Z” pharmacy for everything else. 

There’s the backstory. 

Now…last week (Monday, the 26), we went in to our PC for our regularly scheduled, monthly prescription refill. Also, I was put on two more medications; one of which I have used in the past and one which I had not. We dropped them off at pharmacy “Z” to be filled, but being backed up, waited until the next day (Tuesday) to pick them up. At that time, my hubby dropped off my other scripts to pharmacy “Y”, to be filled and ready Wednesday. 

I got into a lengthy phone conversation that night with my friend and neighbor, after I had taken this new pill. After about four hours I said, “yanno what? Just come over! My ear’s going numb!”. Craig was doing some work for his son and being exhausted, decided to crash at his house for the night, instead of making the long drive, late at night, when he’s tired and has to be up early. He does this often so it didn’t bother me – besides, I was enjoying a “girl’s night” gossip and giggle fest with my friend (who, coincidentally, shares almost identical medical problems). 

One minute we’re laying back, relaxing…I’m showing her some reflexology points on her feet to help reduce pressure in other areas, when suddenly I look up and it’s not my neighbor anymore. It’s a little, old, Asian man (think George Takei in about 20 years). The room was spinning. Words didn’t make sense. I’m asking her who she is and she even sounded like an older Asian gentleman. My vision is blurry. My heart feels like it’s about to pound through my chest. 

I’ve never done acid or ‘shrooms or any kind of hallucinogenic drugs before, but what I imagine the equivalent of a “bad trip” to be. 

The last thing I remember with any clarity at all, was reaching over and grabbing a knife I keep in the end table for protection and thrusting it into my outer thigh. 

Look to the right-hand side of my thigh, above the knee. This was about an hour after the inital stab and the bleeding had subsided.

Blood was, needless to say, everywhere. My friend, bless her, stayed with me until I “came down” and my husband could get to me, I stopped hallucinating, applied pressure to stop the bleeding, tended the wound and bandaged it. She was covered head-to-toe in my blood (which, I do remember reassuring her I didn’t have any blood-borne pathogens like HIV or Hepatitis), and being a true friend, which is hard to find these days, she didn’t care. She cared about taking care of me. I also remember trying to stand and my itty bitty, 5’4″, 100# wet, neighbor caught my 5’9″, 150# ass. 

First cleaning. Salt and alcohol. Old school. My friend told my husband while she was on the phone with him, waiting for him to get home, “I’m a tough bitch”! No way! She’s the tough one, not bailing and staying cool when most people would have freaked.

I’d love to tell you more – including why on earth I decided to shove and eight inch, serrated butcher knife about 3″ into my leg – but, I can’t. I have no clue what possessed me to do so. 

The knife. As she was on the phone with Craig, she grabbed the medical information pamphlet that came with the new prescription. I was suffering from all six of the top, stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to the ER side effects.

My husband naturally, was upset and furious. He called our PC who said I was “obviously beyond medication and needed to be in a psych ward and he’s not a psychologist”. I might add, he didn’t even have the balls to come to the phone himself, rather had his RNA deliver that information. 

Not satisfied with that answer, he called the pharmacist at pharmacy “Z”, where it was filled. He knows us well and within two seconds found the problem and apologized profusely for not catching it himself, since he filled it. 

The new medication and one I’ve been on for about a year don’t play nice together. Apparently, I was lucky I only suffered what I did, since this combo could have lowered my BP too far, too fast had I chosen to go to sleep (which, I was planning to do until I got into the epic phone marathon with my neighbor) and stopped my heart. This combination is apparently a huge NO, and being my only prescribing physician for the last year and a half, my PC should have caught that. He showed no remorse or responsibility for what could have very realistically left my husband planning a funeral, and showed absolutely no concern for “squeezing me in” to clean, check and stitch the wound that resulted from his fuck up. 

Cleaning and changing the dressing yesterday. Thankfully it was a “clean” wound. The bruising extends 2-3″ around the wound and the pain from groin to ass, knee to hip.

Naturally, having hit nerve and muscle, and being in a great deal of pain, my husband picked up my prescriptions from pharmacy “Y”. They’re notorious for changing the manufacturer on my Valium every couple months, but later that evening as I reached in to grab one before bed, lights off, watching a movie and keeping my leg elevated, I kept gravitating towards a pill that was significantly larger and smoother in texture than the others in the bottle. 

I reach over and turn on the light to see what the fuck is going on, and apparently I must have been the 500th customer at pharmacy “Y” last month, because they threw in a “freebie”…which, ironically was in the same class of drugs as the one that damn near killed me (I looked up the number online to find out exactly what it was). It wasn’t the exact same drug, but like hell if I’m taking any chances! 

One thing in this photo does not look like the others. I’d never even heard of this pill before, nontheless taken it.

Here’s the thing folks – doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists – their job is to help us. Part of why they take what’s called the Hippocratic Oath, which is a vow to do no harm. Yes, mistakes happen. But, they seem to be happening more and more often; not to mention with more severe consequences. 

Why did I share all this with you? Because it never occurred to me to question my doctor about whether or not there may be an interaction with any of my other drugs. I assumed being the only one seeing me for 1.5 years and the only prescribing physician I have as of present, he either knew my scripts well enough or would have at least glanced at my chart to refresh his memory. Doctors are busy. They see tons of patients every day. I get it. 

This nonchalant behavior from the medical community is unacceptable. Our lives are very literally in their hands, and when they chose to ignore that fact, is when they need to look into a new profession. 

I urge you. Please double check with all of those who provide medical assistance to you and your loved ones – especially when changing a medication, adding or stopping a medication or changing doseage of a medication – and/or if you notice any new symptoms/side effects, plan to take OTC (Over The Counter) or herbal/dietary supplements, or your medications don’t seem to be working as effectively anymore – ASK. 

Asking your doctor is probably your best bet (not in my case, but I’m going to consider it extreme), however, pharmacists are also a fountain of knowledge. Don’t be afraid to look up drugs you may be taking or planning to take online and have a list of questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist if necessary and always read the information that comes with your prescriptions. Every time you fill it, in fact, since information often changes and your pharmacist may forget to mention it or be unaware. 

Please feel free to share this story! It could save a life! While I’m currently very, very sore and my entire right quadricep hates me, my husband destroyed the pills in question, according to pharmacy “Z”‘s instructions and seeing as how it does not seem to be improving and pain is waking me every 3-3.5 hours (when my painkillers wear off), I am planning a trip to UC (Urgent Care) in the next day or so to see if they can do anything to at least ease the discomfort (numb it and give it a good scrubbing, maybe a muscle relaxer or anti-inflammatory to coincide with my oxy) because they at least check my medications every time  I go in. I am also in the process of finding a new PC, as I no longer trust or respect the one I currently have and I will keep y’all updated. 

Again! Share! It could save a life! 

SOUPer Sayisfying (and Sexy, Too)! 

Even though we live in hell (also know as Arizona), I crave fall. It’s my favorite season and I adore everything about it. 

Unless we make a trip up the mountain at just the exact right time, we miss any real fall color. It literally happens over night, and being off by a week or even a day or two, can make the difference between seeing those luscious crimsons and fiery oranges, and seeing the same dead, dirt brown that blends with everything else here. 

We have several mulberry trees in our yard that go from green to gold and then dead. Also, an overnight thing. And, honestly? Doesn’t count. Not when you pine for radiant rubies, glorious golds, opulent oranges and vivacious violets, all mixed in a dazzling array, sprinkled with the last bits of Summer’s shades of emerald, kelly and lime; a final farewell. 

The weather cools a bit – this mostly means it will be 100+ during the day and 40- at night. The only freaking state I’ve ever been in I’ve had to blast the AC during the day and the heater at night…in November. 

Sweater weather? Hah! Try, if “death by heatstroke”, is your ideal way to go, then by all means wear a sweater. Layer it over a tank top though, because I guarantee that sweater is coming off by noon. If it doesn’t spontaneously combust first. 

The afternoons are nice though. The sun “softens” and the scent in the air does change a bit. I’ve mentioned before, we live north of the metro and at a higher elevation, so we do get a bit more of the fall feeling here.

 The days are shorter and every so often you get a slight chill in the air that makes you crave something, warm, comforting and satisfying to eat – both to warm your body and soul. 

What’s more warm and satisfying than soup? 

Can you smell it? that warm, soothing scent, filling your home…and belly!

I’ve been craving soup for days now, since a front came through and gave us a few stormy days and nights. Not cold…just rain and thunder and the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up with a good book or movie, a cup of coffee or cocoa and have a bowl of…soup. 
I’m not typically a soup person. I’m pretty picky about what kinds of soup I’ll eat, when and how. Many have ingredients I can’t or don’t eat, if we’re at a restaurant or buying pre-made. Many just taste watered down and flavorless to me. I do enjoy making my own (as you’ll notice on the list I’m about to share, potato soup did not make it simply because it was shoved down my throat as a child and unless I make, what I call, “mashed potato soup”, which is basically a loaded potato soup made with both mashed potatoes, made from baked potatoes, and small chunks of potatoes I bake to a crisp or fry, I don’t touch it), and it’s a cozy way to warm up a chilly house, on a chilly day and satisfy your hunger (let’s face it…after you’ve smelled it simmering for hours, you’re starving!) with what you probably already have on hand or can easily get. Plus, substitutions and/or omissions/additions (like, I’m allergic to pork, so I just omit it), make soup a hard thing to screw up. 

(While writing this blog, I must say, I had the most hilarious conversation with my sis, because as I was sourcing graphics, I asked her what she thought made soup, “sexy”. Let’s face it…it’s not the most fascinating thing to look at. As a PSA, do not search for “sexy soup” via Google. At the very least, wait until you’ve made some of these beautiful bowls, before you do.)

Here’s my top ten SOUPer soups, that I’ll eat or make, pretty much anytime (well, nine – the last is one of my husband’s favorites and a soup staple for many), in no particular order. These aren’t my recipes – I rarely write recipes down and I’m even less likely to measure what I do and don’t add – and, as previously mentioned, I work a lot with what I have on hand. But, this is a jumping off point to bring family dinners, or cozy company, into fall. 

1. Broccoli Cheddar 

Classic! Who doesn’t love cheese! Even kids get into this if you keep the bits of broccoli small enough! Sneaky way to add veggies! This is a Panera copy-cat recipe of their famous version. If you’re in a hurry and still want a great Broccoli Cheese soup, Bear Creek brands makes a fantastic one (look for a dark green bag in the soup aisle, near where the boxes of chicken noodle packets are). Plus, the dehydrated powder makes it easy (once you get the hang of it), to make a cup, a bowl, or a whole pot, to taste. Also stores well and is “non-perishable”, so all you do is literally add water and heat. Fantastic if you’re traveling, camping or otherwise unable to store perishable items for long periods. 

2.Hot and Sour

Classic! My fave at any Asian restaurant (although, Miso runs a close second). Traditionally considered medicinal, a spicy way to warm up your day! Add mushrooms, onions, bamboo shoots – all found in the “ethnic food” aisle of most major grocery chains, in cans, bottles or jars. If you want protein, but not meat, firm tofu, cut into thin strips or small cubes, is a great way to go. Miso broth, like found at Trader Joe’s in the carton, or paste, makes a great, vegetarian broth substitute for most soups. Add some of the aforementioned veggies or tofu and it’s a delicious, healthy way to warm up as well. Look for brown or red Miso; it has more cancer fighting benefits and flavor. If you’re not familiar, good Miso has a light, refreshing, slightly chive/scallion (table onion) flavor. 

3. New England Clam Chowder

Yes, we can debate all day whether Manhattan or NE is better. It all boils down to whether you want that creamy goodness, or a tomato based, soup version of Clamato. If I’m feeling Manhattan, I treat it the same way I do a Bloody Mary. So, I do make both (and we all know by now how much I adore a good Bloody Mary!), but there is something about NE style that keeps it my fave. Bacon is becoming very popular in NE clam chowder. And, while I use turkey bacon, does add a nice touch. Cook your bacon of choice and then use the drippings to sauté onions, even some of your potatoes. Add all that goodness to your chowder and then add the cooked bacon in before serving or crumble on top as garnish. Cheese and croutons are also fantastic! 


4. Cream of Mushroom

It’s not just for cooking! However, if you have leftovers, let them cool, pour into ice cube trays and freeze (stash the cubes in a freezer safe storage bag once you’ve popped them out of the tray), and add to chicken or rice dinners later in the week. 

5. Squash Soup

As in Butternut. I’m sure pumpkin or other hearty, winter squashes would work as well with this recipe – just make sure you find baking pumpkins, which are smaller, as opposed to Jack-O-Lantern types, which can be very bitter when cooked. If you use pumpkin purée, make sure it’s the 100% pumpkin and not pie filing (which has less nutritional benefits, added sugars and spices you may not want in soup, as well as a “thinner” consistency). Don’t forget the nutmeg (I use Chinese Five Spice), which really does illuminate the flavor of your squash! Even if I’m just baking acorn squash, Five Spice is a must! 

6. Chili

Not a soup, per se, but still warm, hearty and satisfying! Accessorize (yeah, I went there!) with sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips or some people add ketchup and saltines. However you like it, it’s easy to add or swap proteins to work with what you have (I use ground beef and some kind of steak/roast type meat in mine). Swap beef for turkey for a lighter alternative. Or, use chicken and white beans for a white chili. Options here are endless! Five alarm or luke-warm, it’s up to you! I also love adding corn and garbanzo beans to mine. Great way to use canned veggies that may be reaching their shelf life and get kids to eat them! 

7. Gumbo

Traveling through Louisiana last May, on our way back from New York, we so desperately wanted to get some good gumbo! It was hot and humid and just not gumbo weather (not to mention, we were on a bit of a time crunch at that point…and money crunch. Hey, that 2016 Dodge Charger surprised me; averaging 28 MPG, but still). Don’t deny yourself this Creole classic because of okra. The slimy texture adds to the base of the soup, lending to its thicker, more stew-like consistency, as opposed to using a roux (flour/butter/milk/cornstarch/however you roux). And, like chili, add veggies and proteins you have on hand. Just remember, a good gumbo has a “surf and turf” protein ratio. 

8. Smoky Eggplant Soup

Mediterranean  flavors are some of my favorites! Finish this with some pita bread and a sprinkle of good feta cheese? Heaven in a bowl! Personally, I’d add some zucchini and yellow squash as well. Slimy eggplant? Slice and dice the night before, salt and cover in paper towels. Refrigerate. The salt will help pull out the excess moisture and the paper towels soak it up. Works for any eggplant application -grilling, frying, stuffing, Parmesan-ing, etc. 

9. Green Chile Soup

Perfect base to add protein like chicken, and some tortilla strips or crushed Doritos (cheese and chilies?!? Plus, kids and junk food?!?), and have a tortilla type soup. Have it plain one night, soup it up the next. Get the freshest chilies you can – preferably Hatch chilies (from Hatch, NM) – it makes a huge difference in flavor. Watch though – real, Hatch chilies are mild with a deep, green, earthy (almost umami) flavor. If you want spicy, toss in a few jalapeños. For spice with less heat, remove the seeds and ribs of a pepper – this is where the Capcasian, or heat, is predominant. Oh! And, wear gloves when handling spicy peppers. Otherwise, you will inevitably have to scratch your nose, fish something out of your eye and use the restroom almost immediately – and suffer the consequences. 

10. Chicken and Dumplings

One of Craig’s favorites, this classic is easy to add frozen veggies or whatever you have on hand, to, without sacrificing flavor. Don’t have time to make dumplings (which are actually super easy)? Canned biscuit dough works in a pinch! He says mine remind him of the Chicken and Dumplings his mother used to make. No bigger compliment than that! 
Consider adding frozen or fresh tortellini or ravioli to soups. Trader Joe’s has some great lobster ones (refrigerated) and dry with a cheese blend. Dumplings (Asian style) or Crab puffs can also be an easy addition (look for wonton wrappers in your local grocery store; sometimes near produce, sometimes by dairy. They’re refrigerated, so that helps narrow the search. Stuff them with whatever you like – about a TBSP per large wrap. For dumplings, stuff and drop them in – they’ll cook with the soup as it simmers. Crab puffs are an easy mix of cream cheese, spring/table onion or chive and crab or imitation crab, finely diced and blended into the cream cheese. Fry and serve as garnish. Have a bowl of water and pastry brush handy – it makes sealing the edges of the wonton wrappers easier). Pastas,  like macaroni or bow tie can add an extra level of satisfaction (especially if your family is mostly boys/men, who are always starving), as will rice, and both will cook as you simmer the soup. Beans are also filling and fabulous. I love black beans and garbanzos in most everything. Just open the can, drain and rinse, first. 

Veggies that are still good but a bit wilted or not as appetizing looking can be thrown in to cut down on waste. And, garnish, drizzle, dollop or dunk as you see fit. Most soups can be up-cycled (the mushroom, for example), for late week leftovers or protein/veggie leftovers from earlier in the week can be tossed in to use them up! 

For some more SOUPer ideas, as well as ways to minimize food waste, check out Good Housekeeping Magazine‘s October issue. Lots of fabulous ideas (and some suburb pumpkin decorating tips, too – which, if you’re hosting a Halloween bash or just a fun family/friend get together, pumpkins, hollowed and cleaned out {save those seeds! Roast them and snack or add as a garnish to your soup!}, with a small crockpot inside, set to warm, makes a super cool way to serve your SOUPer supper! Great for dips and beverages too!)!

Let us know if you try any of these recipes, or share your own! 

And, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest! 
Photos: BettyCrocker, Pinterest, pesto.co.za, societi.co.za 

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