Niagara Gazette

October 23, 2013

APRONS READY: Add vegetables to your diet with homemade soup

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Have you ever gotten stuck in a rut? Did you know that rut was unhealthy for you, but making the changes to your routine would be too hard? 

Oct. 6 marked the start of the Niagara County Fair Grounds Eat Well Live Well Challenge. Anyone can sign up for the challenge at eatwelllivewell.org and you can sign up as an individual or group.

At the Fair Grounds, there are 15 of us who are counting our steps and striving to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This challenge will last eight weeks. Doing the challenge together helps us to support each other and doing it for eight weeks helps us to build new routines rather than short-term changes that wouldn’t be maintained.

To make it a little easier to reach our five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, we have started a “Salad Club.” On Monday each member brings in their assigned salad ingredient and all the members can have a salad every day at lunch. With lots of people participating, there are many ingredients to choose from each day and the salad stays appealing and interesting. You can also choose to add the salad as a side to a sandwich or cup of soup. With sharing, you don’t have to worry about waste.

Another easy way to increase the number of vegetables that I’m eating is by making vegetable-based soup. Usually I make soup with whatever I have in the fridge, cupboard and freezer mixed with some store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock. My homemade soup is ready in less than 30 minutes. To mix it up a little for my family, I found a Tex-Mex soup recipe in “The Healthy Heart Cookbook.” I changed the ingredients a little trying to use as many local ingredients as possible to make it Niagara County Tex-Mex soup. 

Niagara County Tex-Mex soup

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup diced onion, celery and carrot

1/3 cup diced red or green pepper

1 can diced tomato

1 cup corn

2 tablespoons parsley

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Bay leaf

1 cup cooked chicken breast

Combine all ingredients except cooked chicken breast in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered. Stir soup occasionally. 

Remove bay leaf and add chicken. Soup is finished when chicken is thoroughly heated. 

For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with black or kidney beans.

Optional: Top with low-fat cheddar cheese or a tablespoon of low-fat sour cream and serve with tortilla chips.

Nutrition facts: 100 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams sugar, 15 grams protein. Makes four large servings. (Does not include optional toppings or tortilla chips.)

Jennifer Grier works with Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play. It is a five year grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. The grant aims to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases among the people of Niagara Falls by making it easier to be physically active and to eat more healthy foods. CCE Niagara County provides equal program and employment opportunities.

Jennifer Grier works with Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play. It is a five year grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. The grant aims to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases among the people of Niagara Falls by making it easier to be physically active and to eat more healthy foods. CCE Niagara County provides equal program and employment opportunities.