A Love/Hate Relationship with Fall

Tomorrow is October first. The leaves are starting to change and cover the ground. The sun is setting earlier and earlier with each passing day. The temperatures are dropping, resulting in needing heat in the morning, air conditioning on the drive home, then heat again at night. It’s almost time to pull out the sweaters and faux fur-lined boots! Dunkin Donuts is selling pumpkin muffins! Apples are on sale every week at the grocery store!

To me, Fall means comfy clothes and yummy food. The problem with this is that I have completely fallen off the healthy eating/Weight Watchers bandwagon. I’ve only been making a pitiful attempt to track: if I don’t know the points in something, I don’t track it. I’ve been eating as much as I want of whatever I want, whenever I want. Needless to say, I’m not feeling too hot physically or emotionally, and I can barely zip my pants (no, seriously).

I told myself at the beginning of September that I would strictly follow WW until the holidays so that I could get back on track, feel better, and then not feel horribly guilty about stuffing my face with first candy, then turkey/potatoes/mac and cheese/pie, then cookies and cakes and more candy. Not to mention the wine. The holiday season is just not complete without wine.

I bought a couple cans of pumpkin puree just to have, because you never know. And pumpkin is a vegetable, so it’s totally healthy. Then this happened:

IMG_20140921_190025

Those are homemade pumpkin donuts coated in cinnamon sugar. They are only 5 points each, which really, is not as bad as they could be, but that’s still 5 extra points that I don’t need every day. The recipe made EIGHTEEN of these delicious wonders, which is great, except I’m the only one in the house who will eat them. To be fair, hubby did taste them and said they were good (but he wasn’t interested enough to eat an entire one). I ended up dumping most of them because I would have had to eat, like, three per day before they started to go bad.

I’m starting over tomorrow morning. I stocked up on yogurt and apples and bananas and chicken breasts and seltzer and Diet Coke. I have veggies in the freezer and plan to get in as much walking as possible before the sun starts setting at 4:30pm. I’ll clean off the elliptical and force myself to use it when it gets too dark and cold to safely go wander around outside. I will get back on the wagon and I will feel better.

Advertisements

Irish Vegetable Soup!

When I was in Ireland, pretty much every meal looked like this:

Vegetable soup, brown bread, and tea. Lots and lots of tea. I was sick with a nasty respiratory infection and also grieving the loss of my mom (she had passed away only 3 weeks before), so I wasn’t much in the mood for real food. I ordered the vegetable soup on a whim the first night because the thought of anything else made me want to vomit, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was pureed instead of chunky. I’m not a huge fan of veggies in general, so this was a fantastic discovery. I proceeded to order it at every meal, and every single time it came out pureed.

When I got home, I felt nostalgic for the Emerald Isle so I began scouring the internet for an authentic recipe and I came across this one. The picture looks a little different, but I figured it was worth a shot. It tasted just like I remembered! I haven’t made it in a couple of years, but I decided to give it another whirl yesterday in honor of St. Patty’s Day. I had big plans to attempt making a loaf of brown bread, too, but that idea went out the window very quickly. Maybe next year.

I left out the garlic from the recipe this time because I have IBS and I’ve recently discovered I can no longer digest garlic, and honestly, the soup tasted exactly the same without it. Here is the original recipe, thanks to askaboutireland.ie:

Ingredients

1oz/25g butter (2 tbsp)
1 medium sized onion (I used frozen chopped onions because I am lazy. I grabbed two handfuls and threw them in.)
2 sticks of celery
1 medium leek
3 cloves of garlic (I didn’t use any this time and didn’t notice a difference. Last time I know I used garlic powder and I just seasoned it to taste.)
2 large potatoes
2 medium carrots (I used a handful of baby carrots again because I am lazy and they are already peeled and chopped small enough.)
Seasoning
2 pints/1200ml chicken/vegetable stock (4 cups)

20140316_173840

To garnish:
1 tablespoon pouring cream (I didn’t add either of these)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Method

Begin by chopping all of the vegetables and garlic.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and then add in the vegetables.
Sauté gently for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften.

20140316_182653

Next add in approximately two thirds of the stock and bring the mixture to a slow boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes or until all of the vegetables have softened down completely.  (I threw in all the stock right away and it was fine.)

20140316_183121

Purée the soup until it is nice and smooth. Return to the heat and bring back to a very gentle boil.

This is where it fell apart for me. I didn’t realize that my blender wasn’t working properly anymore, so I ladled a bunch of the soup in and pressed the button only to hear the most awful grinding noise. I ended up with an entire blender full of steaming hot semi-mush. I frantically searched the kitchen and found my old Magic Bullet and then had to puree the entire batch of soup a couple of ladles at a time. It was not good times.

20140316_185228

If you would like a thinner soup, now would be the best time to add some additional stock to thin it down. Correct the seasoning at this stage also, adding in some salt and pepper as required.

Transfer it to your serving bowls or cups and garnish the soup with a little pouring cream and chopped parsley.

Serve immediately or alternatively allow the soup to cool down and then transfer it into suitable containers and freeze until required.

—————

It turned out wonderfully. I picked up some pretzel rolls and Irish butter from the store which go nicely with this meal. I have enough to last me at least four days, so I’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day all week long. Slainte!