Autumn Bisque

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Fall is here!

Ever since Pret A Manger released their Fall menu, I’ve been excited to try their Pumpkin Bisque. It’s a treat for me since I don’t eat lunch out too much and avoid salty soups. But this vegan version using coconut milk (also a treat) was tempting!

One afternoon, feeling a little hungry and hummus-less after my salad, I ran over to Pret for a coffee and snack. I saw one small pumpkin bisque left and analyzed the nutritional content:

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Pret’s Small Pumpkin Bisque Nutritional Facts

Not bad! And I love that they have their nutrition facts clearly labeled both in store and on the app. I can deal with that level of sodium and sugar, especially in a pinch. And check out the fiber content and a little bit of protein. I also added a little bit of leftover tofu and chickpeas as toppings once I got back to the office – and check out this sweet Fall view of Union Square:

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Office view of Union Square Park in the Fall.

It was delicious and I wanted to get it again the following week. But they tend to run out of the small size and the large is too indulgent for me. So I decided to make my own version! My goal was to get it to taste as close to their version as possible, but cut down on the salt, sugar (from apple cider I assume) and fat (coconut milk) – but adding fiber and omegas.

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I measure by eye, but here’s the approximate ingredient list I used:

Base

1 can of organic Farmers Market pumpkin

*1-1/2 cups of unsweetened Almond Breeze Vanilla milk

*1/4 cup Pacific Foods Low Sodium Veggie Broth

1/4 cup Motts Unsweetened Apple Sauce

1/8 cup Organic Bob’s Red Mill Ground Golden Flaxseed

1 TBSP Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar


Spices – a few shakes of each, to taste:

Frontier Co-op Organic Ceylon Cinnamon

Organic Ground Tumeric

Nutmeg

Black Peppercorns, ground

Garlic Powder – salt free (if more time, use fresh)

**Onion Powder – salt free

Ginger

Parsley Flakes


Toppings (optional, but delicious!)

Steamed Organic Sweet Potato / Yam – cubed

Low sodium chickpeas

Extra Firm Organic Tofu


Instructions

  • In a non-stick large saucepan, I combined the base ingredients, starting with the pumpkin and milk. When that begins to simmer, add ingredients one by one and stir.
  • Add the spices, to taste. I was particularly heavy on the cinnamon myself.
  • Bring to a slow boil and taste.
  • *When I tasted my first go, it was a bit thin so be aware of the liquids or cooking long enough to let them evaporate while keeping the flavor.
  • **It didn’t taste quite right until I added a few dashes of onion powder. If you have time and resources, adding in sauteed onions and garlic would be great too I think! It’s all according to preference, but I was in a pinch for time and lack of fresh ingredients, so I’m grateful for my spice shelf!
  • Let it cool, add your toppings of choice and enjoy! IMG_6467

I was very happy with the result and plan to make this again over the weekend. I paired it with an Engine 2 Kale and White Bean Veggie Burger and spinach salad. Perfect for a rainy or chilly Autumn day – and nutritious too!

I’m eyeing other great squash to use for the season at the Union Square Greenmarket. What’s your favorite? 

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Incredible organic squash selection at the Union Square Greenmarket!

 

“Make It A Great Day!”

My Mom used to say that to me and I always took it to heart. You can always alter the course of your day, no matter when it is. When the day is over, you might say, “Well, that day sucked.” But if you go out with a positive mindset, there is so much more potential for it to be an incredible day from the start!
When I originally drafted this introductory post a few months ago, I was in a bad mood, dealing with sadness and malaise in general. I struggled to turn it into something more positive and give up fear and anxiety.
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Affirmation from Yoga Renee
So, I took actions to resolve and remove the negativity, lack of clarity and worry. Then I went to Vinyasa Yoga last night with a new teacher and Zumba tonight with a favorite familiar teacher. It’s a harmonious balance. And of course, my mood turned a complete 180. I was, and still am, exhausted but I’m so glad I made myself go. There’s something about dancing in a room full of women… it’s fun, feels safe and provides community and connection. And economic status or background doesn’t matter. Size doesn’t matter. Skill doesn’t matter. Some women were spinning in circles (the wrong way) the whole time, but they were laughing and trying and sweating and having fun.
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Broadway Dance Center – late 2017
The music was actually the perfect volume. I find in gym dance classes, it’s painfully loud very often and if they don’t turn it down upon request, I will leave. Tinnitus is a real thing. Ironically, tonight was the first time I thought I may ask to turn it up!
I feel incredibly free when I dance. I grew up taking tap classes from 8 years old and developed rhythm from that point forward. And I feel even more freedom in these supportive ZUMBA classes and it doesn’t matter if I mess up. It made me want to teach and inspire people to do this too, which isn’t a new thought. I’ve contemplated a yoga certification too.

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I realized that it’s not just movement and dance, but the entire shift I’ve made in the last year. It’s a way of eating, a lifelong habit and dedication to eating whole foods in addition to exercise. No fad diets here. I typically avoid any oil (yes, even coconut and olive oil), fats, butter, etc.. in addition to your typical, more “strict” diet of leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, etc. This is the way I had learned it in Dr. Fuhrman’s book Super Immunity – a gift from my wonderful mentor and my first Music Together director in CA. It arrived with another book called How Not To Die which I received and proceed to laugh to no end, as it was a massive reference book and a surprise. But now, I wish I could find and study it. Ahh, hindsight.
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My Organic mushroom, kale, spinach, basil pizza with a cornmeal and brown rice crust from scratch – recipe to come!
In addition to added oils and fats, I avoid dairy, gluten, sugar, processed foods, red meat, alcohol, and most animals except a very occasional chicken and mainly fish (salmon, tuna and sardines). I exercise 4-6 days per week, depending on intensity of workouts and life in general. I was doing 2 days of that is yoga, ideally. Plus maybe a running warmup. One Hatha, one Vinyasa, if possible. Since drafting this, I’ve sustained an injury that has made me shift my exercise plan for now and add physical therapy, but more on that in another post.
With this and having an incredible partner who inspires, supports, and teaches me – as well as learns with me – I’ve lost about 20 lbs. over the last year. But it feels like more like I’ve shrunk overall. Since 2016, I’ve gone from a 16 to 10 (and now even 8). An XL to M.
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August 2016 – Birthday road trip to Vegas with my Mom
And honestly, this isn’t about size or weight for me. It’s a way to feel better overall, from bigger issues like respiratory (asthma) and gastro issues (ulcers) to annoying issues like continuous breakouts (ugh) or getting winded by a few flights of stairs (still don’t like stairs). To be able to wear dresses in the Summer without stockings is a major victory of  comfort and joy.
And my life has changed. I don’t actually think too much about it anymore because 1. It’s a habit and 2. I’m not perfect about it. Sure, it can be a struggle those days when my office has cookies and some of those days, I’ll have one. Or two. But I don’t let it throw me off course completely, or beat myself up about it. It’s a conscious choice and more special and tasty than if I had it all the time.
So, I guess in that way, I’ve “made it a great year” too. And I’ve realized I’d like to help others do the same – thus a blog is born. Stay tuned for recipes, motivation, playlists, and more!
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February 2018 – Awesome Headshot by Susie M. Creative