I hope your new year has gotten off to a great start! What are your priorities for 2015? Just about any goal you set will affect your health, as our emotions are intricately tied to our overall wellness. It’s easy to set them, but not always so easy to follow through and make them happen, right? We get busy, there are distractions, excuses, etc… That’s why narrowing a goal down enough so it’s achievable, but not too simple or hard to accomplish, can be a powerful strategy. Our ability to do so has to do with our mindset and level of motivation.
We can’t focus on cleaning up every aspect of our health at once, but we can focus on ONE area to work on at a time, and build upon that. No matter how stressed or busy any of us may be, there’s always one small thing we can do to improve our health.
This year, I’m focusing on weight loss, not only for myself, but for the clients I’m working with at a cardiology office. After having an extremely stressful year last year, I have gained at least 10 pounds! A more ambitious goal is to get my pre-baby body back by the end of 2015, by getting back into a more intensive exercise routine, including some strength training. My teenage daughter has taught me how important it is for women, even though girls are generally not encouraged to do so.
Besides getting back into a regular exercise routine, my smaller goal for this month is to consume more warming, detoxifying foods. It’s been cold out, and if we eat according to the seasons, it’s time to choose more soups and stews over salads and barbecued meats. Slow cooked meat and vegetables are easier to digest, and are perfect for soothing the gut and pushing out toxins. Of course, it’s important to choose organic vegetables and clean, pasture raised/grass fed proteins when you can, to minimize exposure to chemicals, GMOs, pesticides, etc…
Did you know that sometimes, it’s not how much you are eating, but what foods you are choosing, and/or the toxins you are taking in that can silently lead to weight gain? I’ve been writing about the importance of maximizing nutrients and minimizing toxins in the recent series, What is your Body Hungry for? The recipe I’m going to share today enables you to do both at the same time.
Warm vegetable soup is unique in that is is both cleansing and nourishing. This one contains two major liver detoxifiers, beets and carrots. It is nourishing not only because it’s packed with a variety of phytonutrients, but because it’s warm and soothing to the gut, the heart, and the mind. There’s a reason that the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series is so popular!
Usually, I use some kind of a meat or poultry based stock as a base for my soups. They add so much flavor and nutrients. This time, I purposely made one that’s a vegan recipe. Taking a break from animal foods once in a while can be a great detoxification tool, as long as you don’t replace them with other acidic foods, such as grains and sugars. While I don’t recommend the vegan lifestyle overall, as it can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies if implemented over months or years, it’s a great cleansing, weight loss tool if used temporarily, over a few days or a couple of weeks.
I made my first batch of detox soup on Sunday, and have been drinking it every morning, first thing when I wake up, and again later in the day. It’s a great replacement for coffee or tea, and offers a micronutrient packed way to hydrate. I prefer it to cold, freshly pressed juice in the winter. Plus, you make it once, and it lasts for days. A lot less work than juicing! Of course, it is important to eat some raw vegetables and fruit every day, if your gut is able to digest them, but you can do that easily without going through that process anyway.
Here’s the recipe, which has a subtly sweet beet and carrot taste. It makes good use of the beet greens, but you can’t taste them! If you don’t like the taste of beets, feel free to add more carrots, parsnips, or other root vegetables. Great to mix it up and experiment anyway, right?
Next time I make this soup, I will experiment with adding some herbs and spices, such as fresh ginger, parsley, and/or cilantro, all of which are great detoxifiers as well. Feel free to try it yourself, adding a small amount to a batch in the blender to see if it tastes okay!
On Sundays, I usually make a lot of food, to get a head start on the week. I made this soup while making other things at the same time. All you have to do is chop vegetables and throw them in a pot! And now I have a warm drink that I can substitute for any snacks I may otherwise eat during the day. My Paleo Carrot Soup works well for that too!
Please note that if you’d prefer a raw carrot and beet cleansing, vegan, weight loss alternative, you might also enjoy my Heart “Beet” and Carrot Salad. I also have come to love raw celery sticks as a snack! Add some almond butter, and it’ll keep you full for a while.
What simple tricks and recipes have you used to help you reach your health goals? Like I always say:
While a special diet may ignite a spark, it’s the slow and steady changes in food and lifestyle that’ll light your way in the dark.
Small changes can make a big difference in how you look and feel. Here’s to a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2015!