Comfort foods that are naturally filled with flavor and nutrition are exactly what we need as cold of fall and winter looms. Pleasant to the eyes and nose before the first spoon full lands on our tongue, and so economical and easy to prepare. I am going to share with you the keys to making a great soup.
I’m not going to recreate the wheel since there are hundreds of good soup recipes online. And I am going to be honest, I use those recipes for inspiration but do not follow any one recipe.
I purchase my arsenal of herbs and seasonings and keep them on hand. I always have frozen vegetables and odds and ends of fresh vegetables and canned beans here. That way I am always ready to cook up any soup that fits the mood and occasion. I cook up everything from pea soup to vegetable soup, bean soup, tomato soup, cream (vegan) of cauliflower with broccoli soup, to chili.
Have you priced healthier soups at the store these days? You will easily spen $3.00 to $5.00 for a can or store made small tub of soup. I do keep a few cans on hand but the last time I went to make use of a sale I saw advertised for Progresso soups, none of the healthier vegan ones were on sale.
I noticed there was a tremendous sale on good quality low sodium organic vegetable broth and stocked up. There was an equally good sale on frozen organic vegetables as well. Of course I loaded up. I purchased thyme, rosemary, fennel to properly season an array of soups.
At home I already had an ample supply of dried and frozen peas. Lots of cans of organic low sodium beans and lentils. Dried lentils are always a staple as well. There was a sweet potato waiting to be used in something. I had garlic and onion at home as well. Soup is great for using up these sorts of left overs.
So a couple days later, in my multi cooker (not a presser cooker), I sautéed some cubed sweet potato until they were semi cooked. I added 64 oz of the vegetable broth, 2 bags of mixed vegetables, a can of rinsed black beans and a can of rinsed chickpeas. Also added a cup of finely/pureed tomato with garlic, onion, chili powder, fennel and thyme, crushed red pepper.
Dont ask me how much of the seasonings I used, I never measure. I taste and adjust how much is in. Since you can easily add but can’t easily remove, I would suggest layering in small amounts of seasonings and add more as you taste.
You can use the stove top, slow cooker or multi cooker. Because I can’t stand for long due to my disability, I do the fast way and just chuck all the ingredients in my multi cooker. I bring it to a boil and then I reduce it immediately to slow cook. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a way to do that in the same cooking container, just start it off on your stove top and then pour it into the slow cooker once it has reached boiling.
A really well made soup is a soup made while the cook tastes it throughout its cooking and adjust seasonings. Forget recipes and season it with what you prefer and to taste.
Once the soup has been placed in bowls that is the time to add to each bowl your choice of greens. The temperature of the soup will allow you a hot enough cooking temperature even after it is in the bowl, to cook the spinach enough to release the vitamins you can only digest from spinach when slightly cooked.
I prefer adding the greens fresh just before serving it to who eats it, instead of to the whole batch in the pot. That way I can make the dish as fresh as possible each time the left overs are served.
Add leftover barley, farro, quinoa or brown rice to the soup to get your serving of grains as part of the dish.
Use bread such as a good german make of thinly sliced dense German rye bread, as croutons or for a side sandwich.
Add a piece of fruit with the meal
Very little effort and you can fill your tummy with food that will nourish your body and soul.
I had amazing success going Whole Food Plant Based, Low Glycemic Index and Low Fat. in 2018. Then during 2019 life garbage hit the same time all these trendy vegan fast food options hit and I only half heartedly followed the WFPB plan. I packed on 20 lbs because of that mistake.
In June I had a hysterectomy and I even brought my food with me to the hospital so that I could eat clean. I started off with no weight gain at all.
Once home, there was no peaceful recovery awaiting me. Life just isn’t like that sometimes. All the cooking fell into the hands of my husband. When he would ask me what we should eat, I would look at his stressed out, exhausted face and here the suggestion of him just going through a fast food drive through for the Impossible Burgers and I would just nod my head.
“Tomorrow will go better and then we will eat better,” I would think to myself.
But life demands didn’t run smoother for a long stretch.I went from over a year of solely eating beans, greens, vegetables and fruit, to the last few months dining on Beyond Meat Burgers, Impossible Burgers and vegan Big Mac’s at a wonderful local vegan restaurant.
Not only did my symptoms of my chronic illness worsen, I regained 20 lbs in a few months time. I avoided my scale and all mirrors. I really think something happened in my head after surgery that I doubted I was worth the effort.
It all changed when I woke up recently in the middle of the night and snapped out of it. I got online and placed an order to be delivered to our home from a couple of local groceries.
I pictured in my fridge my large Tupperware container stuffed with fresh spinach, romaine lettuce, fresh vegetables. I pictured fresh low glycemic grains, a couple types of fresh fruit. I pictured my pantry filled again with all varieties of bean and lentils. Then I made it happen.
From the delivery services for Aldi, Target and Whole Foods came the bags of leafy green and beany redemption. My husband was all for it. I told him no more of the stuff we had been eating. No more Impossible Burgers. He could bring into the home whatever he wanted, but no more fast food versions of vegan foods for me.
Day one: did fine but had a bowl of cereal that evening, shredded wheat. That was one more serving of grain than I needed. Still woke up the next day with a four pound loss *I have lipedema, lymphedema, and Dercum’s Disease and they all cause as one of their symptoms, rapid gain so if treated right you can lose some of it fast too.
Day two: lost another pound!
Day three: lost two more pounds
Day five: lost another two pounds!
In vegan circles the Impossible Burger, and other similar sorts are being declared the salvation of those who wish to eat less meat and to protect animals. There is merit to that. All I want to add is that for some of us, it is harmful as are many ultra processed, mass produced vegan foods. Once a month and special occasions, eating those tasty treats isn’t going to hurt anyone, but the average American tends to eat fast food more than that. Talk to your medical professionals and get their take on it. I just know what such food did to me.
My non medical advice? When you talk to your doctor, ask about Whole Food Plant Based. Maybe find a good bean burger recipe (I list a few of my own in this blog if you search the archives) and make them. If you are lucky to have a Whole Foods Market close by, Engine 2’s Black Bean burgers are also really very good.
What is Dercum’s Disease, that strange disorder I speak of sometimes? This is a great description of the range it can cover and what impacts it.
Those people like myself who have Dercum’s Disease have an immediate physical extremely painful reactions and swelling, brain fog because of:
-Too much physical activity, and that level before pain happens gets lowered more and more as the disease progresses.
-Lack of Sleep
-Stress that overtaxes thinking and focus, sensory and creates torturous pain, including:
a) happy occasions.
b) Surprises good and bad
c) Being overstimulated and it doesn’t take much…(light, noise, so on)
d) Trying to do more than you know you can do.
This rare disease can be seen in people of all sizes and shapes. Sometimes the Dercum’s tumors are so large you can see them, others can be easily felt when skin it touched, others are smaller and hard to detect. Some have a mixture of all three. Comorbid issues can include cardiac and diabetic issues, brain fog, lipedema and lymphedema,
One day you are walking 3 miles a day, working as a caseworker in a stressful field with minimal impact from the disorder and then you notice a couple of painful lumps on your ribs and you feel like you have the flu all the time. Annoying, but you assume it will go away….another day you realize you have pain and increased fatigue that is totally interfering with all parts of your life. You no longer rebound back into feeling better.
The pain you feel is traced to additional lumps along the ribs, shoulders stomach, back, arms and hips. Getting to the mailbox is the best you can manage. You swear you are in the early stages of dementia. You forget things that are scary.
I know I gained 60 plus pounds in less than a couple of months with no dietary changes.
Then you find out that driving the car is a problem many days because you haven’t the energy or focus, plus even outstretching your arms to hold the steering wheel is too difficult to do for long. You have zero endurance.
Dressing bathing, cooking, all are difficult.
You become a recluse, can make no plans, and working with doctors is difficult because what you have they have never heard of it. The options given to you by the experts you travel to see, you try but none of them help. But hey, at least they have worked with it before.
So that is similar what many with Dercum’s Disease go through. Some, the disease progresses slowly, some progresses quickly,
I think mine progressed quickly because of all the elements of years of advocacy and social work.
I believe many have it and don’t realize it.
I have had the tumors cut out, they grow back. I’ve had them removed from along my spine, my ribs, my upper stomach. Every single time they come back plus bring some new friends. They now number in the hundreds throughout my body, from feet to head. And the other symptoms that go with it besides painful lumps are ridiculous.
Whole Food Plant Based, No Oil, Low Glycemic Index, Low Fat, Low Sodium though has been the best remedy. Any relief feels like a miracle. It’s reversed weight gain from Dercums Disease. That has been a moral booster and a moral booster has been greatly needed and appreciated.
This way of eating has had a wonderful impact on my cholesterol, blood pressure, and no more suspected tachycardia. Blood sugars are pretty good too.
It also has minimized the number of tumor in my stomach area. Very happy about that.
Worse thing I ever did for this disorder? KETO. I did two variations of it and it was crash and burn.
We hadn’t been there in 10 years. We went back to Fitz Root Beer Bottling Company and Restaurant as part of our 10th anniversary week. Heard they now serve a mean black bean burger. It was delicious but when I enquired as to what was in it, I learned that the secret ingredient was their spinach-artichoke dip. Drats! It had animal products in it.
Looked online for simple spinach-artichoke dips that didn’t use oil or animal products. They may be out there, but I didn’t find any. I have these stupid extremely painful Dercums Disease tumors all over including my arms and along my spine. So being on me feet, using my arms for any length of time without arm rests and so on, was a no go. So that took away most options. I knew my husband and son would not be willing to do all the work on new recipe like this. Ii was going to have to wait until I had a good day and play with this and just pray it didn’t get too involved. They had enough on their plates. I would need to be the one to at least do parts of it. So it had to be simple.
This was one of those situations where having convenience appliances like a Vitamix makes all the difference. And my husband took care of the more taxing parts of it. Love, love, love the results
So with Fitz Root Beer Bottling Company and Restaurant’s bean burger as inspiration, and guidance from reading multiple recipes online, I came up with this recipe. My husband and I just love it and we swear it’s every bit as good as what we had at Fitz, but without the animal products. It is still 100% compliant to a WFPB No Oil or added Sugar, Low Glycemic Index and Low Fat and Sodium Way Of Eating.
Both recipes have also been geared to be exactly the amounts needed to make exactly 7 to 9 large burgers or 14-18 smaller burgers. If you want dip to spare for the days to come, just double that recipe.
The recipe for the dip is at the end of this article. Highly recommend it as a dip on it’s own.
Black Beans w/WFPB Spinach-Artichoke Dip Burgers (Wowzer Burgers)
Makes 7-9 large burgers or 14-18 smaller burgers
Preheaat oven at 400 degrees F
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed..
1 can of any kind of lentils OR my favorite, 1 packet of Target’s Simply Balanced black beluga lentils (if you can’t find these and don’t want to cook lentils, just skip them and maybe use less of the dip sauce)
* 1 cup of the Spinach-Artichoke Dip (recipe at the end) combined with 1/3 cup salsa of your choice
2/3 cup or more compliant crumbs, 100% oil free white flour free, 100% whole grain options such as whole rye crackers, whole wheat bread
1/2 tbl. garlic powder
Step 1. Combine the ingredients in the order listed. Will be meatloaf consistency.
Step 2. For the burgers and stick them covered, in your refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Step 3. On parchment paper lined cookie sheets, bake the burgers for 10 minutes. Remove and allow them to cool enough to be easier to flip over. Then bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes. Serve or cool off completely and freeze.
Vegan Oil Free Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip
Preheat Oven 425 degrees
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews (either soak in water for 4 hours or use quick method of bringing them to a boil in water with a good size squirt of lemon juice, then cover and let sit for 20 minutes) drained
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1/2 small diced onion (or you can add in onion powder to taste later on)
3/4 cup unsweetened non diary milk (plant milk)
1/8th cup (or more) nutritional yeast
1 Tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup loosely packed fresh spinach
One 14 oz can oil free artichokes
optional vegan parmesan cheese
Combine all the ingredients except vegetables in a high power blender and pulverize until very smooth. Add the vegetables and blend until smooth (If you are making this as a dip only, you may want to leave it chunky).
Pour into a small baking dish, sprinkle if you desire a little additional seasoning or nutritional yeast on the top.
Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role of Cinderella in “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”. Meryl Streep cast in “Grease” as Danny Zuko.
Can you imagine going to a play and being handed a playbill and seeing that level of miscasting? I would find it fun at first, but personally I would want to see more logical choices or the roles.
I would be asking myself, “With the means to hire a well known actor to play the lead, with so many other options available, why make such a poor choice?”
The producers and directors have a list of parts to cast and a list of available options for actors to play those parts. Auditions are many times held, trying to find the right one for each role.
We make “casting choices” in the form of life choices every day. Imagine each day we get out of bed, we walk out onto Life’s Stage in a production of “A Day Of Living” Each of us are our own producer and director of a significant part of our own story.
What options are you going to select in your life today?
I speak from experience like so many others. Foods can be so addictive especially chocolate, cheese, meat, plus other processed sugars and animal proteins. Many of us are taught from a young age to have these and similar addictions to help us deal with our needs. Those serotonin levels rise with all of it. Life can be complicated and eating processed sugar and fats are so very easy and handy. All that immediate gratification is enticing and potentially life shortening.
I use the analogy of a stage production and the playbill that is the official accounting of each day’s “performance”. The playbill shows who plays what role. For me it’s helpful to be able to visualize and pinpoint the questionable “casting”, if you will, of how by habit in the past I coped with life. It keeps me on top of things. Many times food is the go to for needs that really are better handled by other options. Sometimes we learn it young.
I still remember to this day being 4 years old and it was a miserable time in my family with deaths, stress, my grandparents being in the hospital for months due to severe injuries from a car accident. My mother, sister and I lived with them. My poor Registered Nurse mother had to work some horribly long hours and oversee the care of my grandparents. They had different people taking care of my sister and I. Those caring for my sister and I would give us ice cream at night as something in which to look forward.
An evening snack was called “a party” and it was always something wonderfully sugar and fat filled.
The pattern had begun.
To make things more annoying I have 3 fat disorders that, since childhood , made me large and misshaped. What I eat and how I exercise had made no positive impact on those. No doctor realized I had those. Dercum’s Disease, lipedema and lymphedema went overlooked and mistaken for obesity for decades.
I was so worn down as I struggled with the lack of impact of dieting and seeing that it made no difference if I ate or starved myself. Those fat disorders are fairly painful. I was in misery for decades. I remained large and misshaped, it made it easier to make some pretty unhealthy choices. Why not have a piece of Dove Chocolate when anxious? Why not eat a Big Mac when hungry?
After decades of feeling helpless, and low carb diets doing nothing for me, life handed me the path I had sought my whole life. Over a year ago I got violently sick on animal products with horrible blood sugar and cardiac related lab results. I discovered WFPB No Oil, Low Fat, Low Glycemic Index, Low Sodium. I started to see better labs, weight started dropping. There has also been a bit of a budge on some of the symptoms associated with my fat disorders.
Sure I will always have three painful, annoying fat disorders. That’s how the ball bounces. I have fibromyalgia and like all other humans, I have a variety of stresses. I can’t do a whole lot to change some things, but I can empower myself and do what is possible. Some of those symptoms for those health issues have improved. Some remain the same. I enjoy taking far fewer medications than before. I enjoy having heathy coronary and blood sugar numbers. I find joy in what is possible as I continue to learn to coexist with the rest. The power is in making good choices and lovingly holding myself accountable.
As I sit here finishing this, my husband came home from the grocery store. To this day my mind wants to ask him if he brought home chocolate. I have to remind myself of that playbill. Chocolate is no longer a regular on my playbill. It’s been replaced by strawberries or an apple or watching a good movie.
My experience has been that there is nothing like a rare disease to make a person feel helpless. It doesn’t matter how many miles you travel (for me it was 7,000) to find expert treatment. Over time I know I lost my hope and sense of empowerment. Then last year I learned that empowerment sometimes can be found again in the simplest of ideas. My regaining my sense of empowerment had been 10 plus very painful, long years in the making.
Dercum’s Disease sufferers like myself face the same obstacles Too few doctors know about it and there is no known cure. Also, there are really no reliable treatments. I had just gotten married when it set in with a 60 lb weight gain, numerous painful lumps, brain fog and increased immobility. My physician had one other patient who in the past had the same symptoms. In the years to come I saw doctors from one side of the country to the other multiple times where Dercum’s Disease and other associated illnesses were diagnosed. Dercum’s Disease and two other of the disorders can put considerable non calorie based weight on a person. I likely had some of these disorders since childhood. All those years and no one knew why I was as I was. Having names for what was wrong with me helped, but there were no answers.
In spite of seeing the country’s top experts, I found zero relief. I still didn’t give up easily. I did both the standard and out-there treatments. I heard through a friend that she found hope spending a few days in an out of state University hospital’s ICU getting round the clock Ketamine infusions. Fearful of my husband losing his job, my husband had to drop me off at a homeless shelter- in that community. That is where I stayed until a bed opened up in the intensive care unit. During the treatment I went through a 2 day psychedelic trip. Ketamine can do that. It did not benefit my health, but I did though, acquire a small collection of wigs because of the hair loss. I tried.
As is the case with many with Dercum’s Disease, the weight kept coming on and my diabetes and coronary labs got worse. Tachycardia joined the mix. To make it harder to combat, Dercum’s Disease and physical workouts do not go together. There is a problem with the lactic acid that lingers around the Dercum’s Disease lumps. The only physical activity I can tolerate is in the pool and that is not easy for me to access.
I kept doing what the rest of the people in the Dercum’s Disease crowd were doing and whatever doctors said to try. My physical and mental state worsened as I appeared destined to live in an ever-growing painful shell where I would die young from cardiac and or diabetic health issues. That is what people with Dercum’s Disease usually die from.
Doctors told me that restricting calories would not help my disorder. My disorders kept the weight piling on. So like any other red blooded American woman, it didn’t keep me from trying. Is there anything we deem worse than being large? It’s how we are socialized. I followed Weight Watchers, RAD, Paleo, KETO, Low carb, the American Heart Association Diet, South Beach Diet, The American Diabetes Association diet. . It all combined had minimal positive results. Some had horribly negative results.
Every six months or so I was traveling to see one of the national experts on Dercum’s Disease and the other disorders commonly associated with Dercum’s Disease that I have. I would arrive with some hope. Sometimes I would be understood and sometimes I would feel not understood. They would put a hoop up for me to jump through, I figurately would jump it with bells and a smile. My Dercum’s Disease continued progressing. My health got worse.
Then I just could do it no more. I traveled out of state once again and was honest with my doctor.
“I’m ready to stop chasing the unicorn”, I believe were the words I used.
I do believe that there is some empowerment that can be found in accepting reality. The doctor that day told me to just accept it all as it being what it is. I have to admit that I was at the time relieved to hear that because I really could not handle trying anything else. Really had tried more ways of getting better than most. My family had sacrificed so much. All those miles and dollars spent on improving my rare condition and everything associated with it, and nothing worked.
Fast forward a year later. It took a weekend of endless vomiting, where I found myself in the hospital and received the lab results for me to finely listen to my body. It was the spring of 2018 when all that happened and the only logical conclusion was that I had to change my way of eating. I had been on the same way of eating everyone else in my shoes had been told to follow. I had been eating low carb and focused on proteins. From that point forward, I had to do something different. The only reasonably healthy foods left for me to eat were the foods I had been told would be bad for this condition. Sure they were the same foods I grew up eating from our garden, but they were considered to be “high starch” by current popular recommended diet standards.
I did some research and sure enough, there were studies done that for my overall health I could eat the garden delicacies such as basic vegetables and fruits. I could even eat beans! I felt I had nothing to lose. I would start eating this way, get labs done and then talk to my doctor.
I indeed did start to eat that way and within a month had labs drawn to make sure the change agreed with me. That cardiologist appointment to discuss the results was the best doctor appointment of my life. His receptionist asked me if I had gone through bariatric surgery. My cholesterol had dropped 57%, my A1C dropped 3 points, and I had dropped a couple clothes sizes and quite a bit of weight. The cardiologist told me to continue eating that way. He even cancelled some of the cardiac testing he had jotted down before seeing me.
That was the moment I felt empowered for the first time in years. I made a decision for myself, sought medical labs and advice at the onset and found my own way to make a positive difference for my health. . One by one, my doctors all were in agreement that I should continue eating this way. From Ohio State University to my cardiologist to my primary care doctor to my cardiologist, everyone was amazed with the results.
I just passed the 1st year anniversary of empowering myself through intuitive measures for my care. I have gone from a size 32 to a size 14. I’ve gone from 13 pills a day to one prescription and a supplement. I am no longer on diabetic or cardiac related medications. I have no more IBS symptoms or year round allergy concerns. My legs that had been miss shaped with one leg larger than the other, are now the same size and shape. I’ve lost 60% of my Dercum’s disease tumors in my stomach. For the first time in my post pubescent life, my top half and bottom half are the same size.
It’s’ true I still have Dercum’s tumors in my stomach, arms, along both ribs, along my spine and the base of my back. They are in my neck and head legs and feet. I still have difficulty sleeping, being comfortable, and the misery can be considerable. I have brain fog, but it’s improved some. I still have to spend my day with my legs up and spend more days in bed than I want to but there is no choice. I still am forced to use a wheelchair in the house when in the kitchen. A motorized scooter is how I manage myself out in the community. I average once a week getting out if my husband drives. Every now and then I can pull off driving if it’s just in the neighborhood. Sometimes a little further than that, but we don’t count on my being able to do such things. I am still significantly suffering from Dercum’s Disease.
But I use to have surgeries to remove Dercum’s Disease tumors. Now without surgery, 60% from one area have vanished and I possibly added 20 years to my life by improving my overall health. What is not to love about that? I wake up every day with hope. Hope is a powerful commodity not to take for granted. My finding my empowerment didn’t find a cure but it did find a useful treatment for Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema . Those disorders have not advanced. They have improved in ways that shouldn’t have happened through just nutritional changes. . It also reversed my cardiac and diabetic numbers so I could get off all that medication. So while there is suffering, to have any positive change, I am so grateful.
Empowerment isn’t about suddenly being handed a magic wand and all your problems are solved. Empowerment doesn’t mean what works for one person will work for another. Empowerment for me is that I can count on myself to make decisions and to think for myself. You never know what might change your life.
Last year I started this blog. I felt at that time that the most honest title I could give it would be “The Unlikely No Meat Please Gal”. Meat and animal products had been the center of all my meals for 55 years.
I grew up in the Ohio farmlands and there were a few decades where very few vegetables were consumed but many, many meals of meat, eggs and dairy. So the chances of ever saying, “no meat please” were practically non existent. So that was the title of this blog,”The Unlikely No Meat Please Gal”
After more than a year of not eating meat, dairy or eggs, I felt that it was time to change the name of this blogging effort. I thought about why my commitment to not eating meat and other animal products was strong, and the new title was easy. I thought about the reversal of my heart and diabetic issues. I thought about how the dress I wore when I married my husband 10 years ago is now way too big for me and yet a year back I couldn’t have squeezed into it. And just the hope it all has brought to me.
I am indeed “The Glad To Not Eat Meat Gal”: A fat girl from St. Louis, Missouri who is now at a much healthier weight and better lab results. All of that inspite of 3 fat disorders (lipedema, lymphedema, Dercum’s Disease) that makes it very difficult to lose weight. Am I cured of any of them? I stand firm in saying that it has reversed some of the symptoms. I would not say that I am cured, but I’ve changed the quality of my life and I no longer feel helpless. So in addition to everything else, less depression that comes with being diagnosed with a rare disorder that had taken over my life.
From 13 pills a day to one prescription and a selenium supplement, down in clothes sizes and up in hope,, I am forever The Glad To Not Eat Meat Gal. I am forever no animal products or oils, period.
Thank you to my friends, family, doctors, Forks Over Knives community, the STL Veg Girl, Dr, Joel Kahn’s publicly shared information on this topic, nutritionfacts.org , Clayton Medical Associates and my fellow members of the Lipedema, Lymphedema and Dercum’s Disease communities who have supported me on my efforts.