However, this shouldn't stop you from eating well. I have developed a love of gardening and take much pleasure in growing vegetables in my garden at home. I also have a couple of fruit trees. Feeling as though I wanted and needed to give my body plenty of 'the good stuff', as I like to call it, I had harvested my garden a day earlier and used some of this to make some sensational vegetable soup that was totally 'packed with a punch!' This post is dedicated to the wonders of some vegetables that are readily available, easy to cook with, are extremely good for you and taste fantastic. Who needs to buy expensive multi vitamins to take everyday when you can simply eat well and get a complete range of vitamins and minerals naturally in the fresh food that we eat.
The first basic ingredients I put in my soup were onions and garlic. These seem to be in most dishes that I cook. So I added 2 onions and not just one or two cloves, but the whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed. "Garlic cloves contain many minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that have proven health benefits and have been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Garlic is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. The bulbs are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. It contains many anti-oxidants like carotene beta and vitamins like vitamin C." Fortunately, I can never have too much garlic in my cooking and use it almost everyday in my kitchen. My family and I love the taste and the smell of it.
I often use a lot of onions too in my kitchen, so they were an obvious start to my soup, peeled, chopped and browned with the crushed garlic in my big soup pot. "Onions are a rich source of chromium, the trace mineral that helps tissue cells respond appropriately to insulin levels in the blood. They are an also good source of antioxidants which are found to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic functions. They are also a good source of vitamin C, mineral manganese and the B-complex group of vitamins".
As a base for my soup, I like to mix in a good couple of tablespoons of tomato paste in with the garlic and onions at this stage. It gives the soup a great taste and texture, similar to that of minestrone. You can see how I make minestrone (which is very similar to this) in my other blog, 'Laura's Little Italy' www.littleitaly397.blogspot.au
Now my pot was ready to add plenty of 'the good stuff' from my garden. Here I am washing spinach, silver beet, broccoli and kale, all home grown. It is a fantastic feeling to walk outside and pick something to eat. Firstly, you may know broccoli as a 'super food' and this is why. "Broccoli is one of the very low calorie vegetables and is an exceptionally rich source of vitamin C. Further, it contains very good amounts of vitamin A and is an excellent source of folates. It is a rich source of vitamin K and B complex group of vitamins like niacin and riboflavin. The flower heads also have some amount of omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus." Wow! Can't feel too bad about eating broccoli now, can you?
Another veggie that is 'packed with a punch' is spinach. "Fresh 100 g of spinach contains about 25% of daily intake of iron; one of the richest among green leafy vegetables and is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. It also contains good amounts of many B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, folates and niacin. 100 g of farm fresh spinach has 47% of daily recommended levels of vitamin C. Its leaves also contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc." Need I say anymore about sensational spinach?But wait......there's more, much more. I also added kale to my 'packed with a punch' pot. "Kale is very rich in vitamin A and vitamin K. 100 g of fresh leaves contain 120 mg or 200% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin C. This leafy vegetable is notably good in many B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 and thiamin. It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus." And to top off my home grown additions to my super soup, I added silver beet. "Like many leafy green vegetables, silver beet is rich in a dazzling array of minerals. It has high levels of magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, iron, potassium, vitamin A. Silver beet is also rich in folate, zinc, copper, vitamin C, dietary fibre, and vitamin E".
So are you starting to see how we can all get many vitamins and minerals naturally in fresh vegetables? It is as easy as this. Asparagus is plentiful at the my local Fruit Shop at the moment and I can can't resist but buy a bunch every time I shop there. In the pot it went! "Fresh asparagus contains fair amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K. Asparagus is a good source of minerals, especially copper and iron. In addition, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus."
One of my all time favourite vegetables is egg plant. I have a couple of young egg plant seedlings in my garden and I'm dreaming of growing some big, fat, juicy egg plant of my own soon.......wish me luck! I added a couple of these to my soup creation for another 'punch'. "Eggplant is very low in calories and fats but rich in soluble fibre. The peel or skin (deep blue/purple varieties) of aubergine has significant amounts of chemicals called anthocyanins that have potential health effects against cancer, ageing, inflammation, and neurological diseases. It contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins and is a good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and potassium."
The asparagus and egg plant and are all washed, chopped and into the pot they go.
I had a couple of monster mushrooms in the fridge that I thought I would add too. This pot of soup just kept packing those punches as I went along. "Mushrooms have a surprising amount of nutrients including: Niacin, Riboflavin, Folate, Phosphorus, Iron , Panthothenic Acid, Zinc, Potassium, Copper, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Selenium and Thiamin".
At this point, my pot was rapidly filling with loads and loads of 'good stuff', I was nearly done......but not quite as I was on a roll! In went some red kidney beans for fun. "Red kidney beans are a source of fibre-rich complex carbohydrates, which should play a large role in your diet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body's cells and are the sole energy source for the nervous system". I added some lentils to be extra good. "Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fibre, lean protein, folate and iron. Lentils contain some soluble fibre, but are an outstanding source of insoluble fibre."
Tomatoes are another one of my big favourites. "Tomatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants, dietary fibre, minerals, and vitamins. They contain very good levels of vitamin A, anti-oxidants and are also good source of vitamin C and potassium. Further, they carry average levels of vital B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and other trace elements."
OK, for the grand finale, I had to add a couple of carrots. "Carrots are exceptionally rich source of carotenes and vitamin-A. Carotenes are converted into vitamin A in the liver. Beta-carotene is the major carotene that is present in these roots. Beta carotene is one of the powerful natural anti-oxidant that helps protect body from harmful oxygen-free radical injury. Fresh roots are also good in vitamin C and in addition, they are especially rich in many B-complex groups of vitamins and compose healthy levels of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus."
You can see from this picture that by this stage my pot was very full and it was time to let it cook. I had much pleasure in preparing my array of vegetables and making them into a soup that I knew I would love to eat but that would also do me the world of good. As I was preparing this soup, I knew it was good for me but I wanted to find out exactly why and how. Hence, this post complete with some researched facts and figures on the wonders of fresh vegetables.
You can also add stock to your soup for an extra flavour kick. If you don't object, adding a smoked ham bone also gives this soup an amazing flavour. But on this day, my super soup was going to be a vegetarian one, dedicated to my garden and love of fresh food from Mother Nature. Here is my soup cooking away and the aromas in my kitchen were amazing. Adding a dash of salt and pepper to the pot doesn't hurt either. I like to enjoy a big bowl of this 'punchy' soup with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top to give it an extra flavour boost.
I let my soup simmer for a good couple of hours and enjoyed a bowl of it for lunch. As you can imagine, I made plenty (as I usually do when I make soup) and I packaged it up into single serves and freezed it for later on. It is great always having some soup handy for those days when I need a good 'pick me up'.
After reading this post, you may not be able to look at your veggies in the same way again! I trust that you can now see the incredible health benefits of fresh veggies that most certainly take care of your vitamin and mineral needs naturally. The garden and its produce is truly amazing and never ceases to amaze me. Those many, many unassuming plants that 'grow things' in the earth are most certainly 'packed with a punch!' :) xxx