Thursday, June 4, 2015

Breakfast Soup (recipe at end. Oh, yeah, recipes!)

The last two days, I've been having breakfast soup for breakfast.  One of my favorite breakfasts ever was been grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Ever since the lactose intolerance, the grilled cheese is out of the picture, which leaves me needing more soup.

(I don't generally do fake cheese sandwiches.  They just aren't as good.)

Breakfast soup, you say?  Made with broth?  Won't the sodium drive my blood pressure up and send me to an early, very salty grave?  

True.  Most people have to restrict their salt, watch their sodium intake, and be careful of processed food since most of us consume way, way too much sodium.  This can be bad for a lot of reasons.

I seem to be the one person in the universe whose doctor tells me to make sure I add salt to dishes!  Over the last year, I've been experimenting, and indeed, we have confirmed what I have suspected (and what my first tri coach suspected) for a while: my body does not hold on to salt.

I have no idea why.

This could be the most awesome or the worst thing ever.  On one hand, I can eat all your nachos since it won't bother me a whit.

On the other hand, I get such disapproving stares when I go for the salt shaker.

And really, Breakfast Soup?  Is that some weird thing like cereal with toppings and you're just trying to trick us like all the other sites promising creative breakfast and just re-hashing normal breakfast?

No.  Breakfast Soup is not normal breakfast.  I don't like sweet breakfasts.  I have tried oatmeal and Cream of Wheat and grits and polenta and every other mushy cereal out there, and universally, in the morning, they remind me of snot.  At night, I've been known to make a steamed oatmeal topped with fresh fruit.  I make polenta for dinner sometimes.  But in the morning?  Get behind me, Breakfast Satan.

I typically feel a little queasy in the morning.  This can make eating or working out a challenge. Things that work in the morning tend to be eggs and vegan sausage, or an avocado quarter or half topped with salt and seeds, or a PB&J with extra salt sprinkled on it, or Breakfast Soup.  I've found that my easily queasy tummy settles down with a little salt hit.  So Breakfast Soup makes a lot of sense.


Breakfast Soup is super easy.  You can use anything you have in the cabinet that you like.  Do you have chicken noodle or minestrone?  Eat that.  You can use anything you have in the fridge.  Made a nacho soup for dinner last night?  Have some more for breakfast.  Who cares?  (We all eat cold leftover pizza for breakfast.  Why not soup?)

But what about when you have not made soup in a while and there's no soup cans in the cupboard because you just happen to make most of your stuff from scratch?  Well, here's a recipe for a quick and easy soup.

One-one-one soup.  My  mother calls this the One-one-one recipe.  Just remember: One (ish) of everything. 

Time: 10-20 minutes.  Basically, while the coffee is perking and you're yelling at your kids to get their backpacks or asking your spouse to feed that cats that morning.  

You need:
-1 TB of butter (or 1 pat). I use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks which works great.  Not lactose intolerant and prefer to use real butter?  Go for it.  Not a butter person and want to use coconut oil?  Try at your own risk.  I made this once with olive oil and it was oily.  
-1 TB flour.  Any kind, except I have not tried this with gluten free flours.  I wouldn't use quinoa flour for this, because of the grassy smell.
-1 cup broth.  (I use full sodium broth, because of me, but you might need reduced sodium). 1 cup usually does the trick, although if the veggies are dry or you like a more liquidy soup, you might want a little extra water.
-1 cup veggie.  Any kind of cooked veggie.  If it's not pureed, it should be in big chunks.  Today, let's use tomato.  You can use tomato sauce, crashed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, tomatoes with spices in them, whatever works.  Most other kinds of veggies work great too.  Try this with pumpkin in the fall.  Trust me!
-Bonus veggie.  I often throw in a handle of spinach or kale.

To make: 
-Get your saucepan going over medium high.  
-Melt the butter.
-Throw in the flour, and stir it around until it sops up all the butter.  Keep stirring madly.  The flour should look like a thick slurry, like thick cement.  Keep stirring until it smells a little nutty.  This step usually takes about 2-3 minutes.
-Add the broth, while stirring frantically to prevent clumps.  I usually use a small stream or a heavy drizzle for the water, if that helps you visualize.  Once you have a thin slurry or a thick broth...
-Add the veggies. Give it a few more stirs to incorporate it all.

Now if it's a pureed veggie:
-Stir to incorporate, and bring to a gentle boil.  When it's hot through, it's done.

If it's a chunky veggie: 
-Do you like your veggies chunky?  Then bring to a boil, and when it's hot through, it's done.
-Want a smoother soup?  Grab your hand blender, blend it into a nice smooth soup, bring it to a boil, and when it's hot through, it's done.

Finally, if you like bonus veggies: 
-See that spinach/kale/collard/argula/dandelion greens in your fridge you've been ignoring?  Yeah, it's judging all of us as it slowly dies.  Quick, grab it before it wilts anymore, [rinse it if you need to],  and toss it in the soup.  Stir it around for a few minutes while it wilts and cooks.  When it's hot, it's done.

End story: It's delicious and makes me happy.  Please don't complain if this doesn't fit your morning schedule 'cause of work/kids/school/dog.  I don't have kids, I have a short commute, and we split animal duties in my house.  This works for me, and if you enjoy, great!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

More Speed. Bikeshare! New part time job.

So I am clipping away in the speed training.  After talking to some running friends, I jumped ahead in the program to the point where I felt I was physically.  The first three weeks were SO slow.  So I'm now doing week 4 and even if I don't gain major speed, I feel like I'm regaining form.

I'm thinking that next, I'll be adding weight training to my workouts, like I used to do in Arlington, where I would be out biking or running and would stop into the gym, do a 20 or 30 minute weights and stretch circuit, and finish my workout biking or running or walking home.

While at a work event, there was a silent auction, and I won the Bikeshare package.  Oh, of course, I had to pay for it.  That's the purpose of an auction, right?  But I WON THE AUCTION!  And it was a full package to a year's subscription to Capital Bikeshare.  I've been thinking about trying Bikeshare for a while now, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Besides, the package came with a helmet, socks, a t-shirt, a seat cover, and a really cool bike tote bag that is marketed as a helmet purse. Personally, I don't care who sees my helmet (it seems to almost be a status symbol to tote a helmet around this town!), so I use the bag as a nice smallish work tote.  It holds my lunch and my iPad, and my personal stuff, and it's freaking adorable.  It looks like a little red Cyberman!

Don't you think?  Bag here.  Cyberman here. Mine is a red small bag.  It's the sort of thing that I would not have bought on my own (without a ton of dithering and months of debate) but that I would have wanted badly.  So getting both bag and Bikeshare membership... it was a great deal!

I've already been riding all over the place, trying bikeshare in all sorts of shoes (I rode today in heels, with my afternoon errands in the front basket!).  It's already proved it is worth it.  I have managed to get around some terrible traffic, and avoid a metro fire/shutdown, and it's erased any reservations I had about going to, say, Whole Foods for a speciality ingredient.  It was SO FAR AWAY.  But on a bike, it's about 10 minutes instead of 25.

Finally, one month of ¾ time work was plenty for me, and I swiftly lost my mind with all the spare time.  The first few weeks, I slept a little more and cleaned the apartment and cooked and shopped and then I died of boredom.

What with one thing and another, I decided I either needed a part time job or a volunteering gig to get me out to see PEOPLE.  I went to check out an animal shelter (because puppies, people.  Let's be real) and fell in love with a puppy.  As I was considering whether to adopt her, I wandered into this brand new pet store near my home and next thing I knew, I was applying for a part time job there.  So this week I start at the Wylie Wagg!  I'm really excited, not just because it's a job (and extra money means vacation fund) but because I really like the team and the philosophy.

I start Thursday, and I'm really thrilled to have a totally non-religious form of income for the first time in, oh, forever.

It'll be fun.