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Blended soups are an easy way to get in loads of healthy veggies (and sneak in a couple of veggies which your kids may not otherwise be inclined to eat!). They are very flexible, and a great way to throw in extra veggies that may be hanging around in the fridge. And, because they’ll be blended you can really rough chop your veggies which makes for easy prep. Best of all they are delicious and warming… perfect on these cold winter days!

The basics for starting a blended vegetable soup;

Warm approximately 2-3 Tbsp olive oil or 2Tbsp coconut oil in pot

Add roughly chopped onion (I like sweet onion, but any onion will do) and saute until starting to soften

Add chopped garlic (I love garlic, so this looks like 5-6 cloves for me, but if you are a more moderate garlic lover 2-3 cloves will do)

Add celery (preferably organic, rough chopped, 1-3 stalks), saute for an additional few minutes

If you’re adding dry herbs (ie.Italian herbs) or bay leaves, they can be added at this point.

This is the beginning basics of your soup. If desired, you can saute additional veggies with these or add your additional veggies in with your broth.

Next step is to add broth (preferably homemade chicken or vegetable broth, or organic broth available at the grocery store). One liter of broth is generally sufficient, and you can add extra water if needed for desired thickness of soup.

Add veggies of choice… I love broccoli and zucchini… or cauliflower and leeks…or carrot and sweet potato (for a sweeter soup! If desired you can also add some fresh grated ginger and a chopped apple or pear to the carrot and sweet potato soup)…or all of these veggies together!…any leftover beets in the fridge? Toss those in too!

Simmer your veggies until tender.

Now it’s time to add your greens and whatever herbs you desire… these require only a minute or so to soften… any combination of organic spinach, kale or bok choy greens (the white of the boy choy would have to go in to the pot a couple of minutes earlier) plus fresh parsley or cilantro.

Once those last greens have softened, blend with a stainless steel hand blender or transfer to a glass or BPA free and heat safe blender for blending (you may want to let it cool slightly before transferring to the blender…and be careful because it’s hot!). Blend to desired consistency. Transfer back to the pot, or immediately into serving bowls. Top with a sprig of parsley or cilantro if desired. If you enjoy a spicy soup you can add a little cayenne pepper at the end or saute chopped (and seeded) spicy peppers with your onions and garlic. Looking for a little protein.. top with goat feta, stir in a nut or seed butter, blend in cooked red lentils (or add rinsed red lentils to broth and simmer until softened with the other vegetables). Add sea salt and black pepper if desired.

Enjoy!

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As school is upon us, it’s important to think about school lunches and the best ways to make sure your child is healthy and robust for the school year.  For parents, it means stressing over planning school lunches that are healthy and that your child will eat and enjoy, getting them to the bus on time, and worrying about the colds and flus that are knocking at your doorstep.  Though it’s easy to put prepackaged foods into a lunchbox, with the tips below, you can make simple and easy to prepare lunches that with have your children going all afternoon and looking forward to their next lunch.

Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure your child is enjoying the most nutrient dense foods optimal for growth, brain function and overall wellness, while boosting their immune system in the process.

7 Tips for Lunches

  1. Invest in sturdy, reusable containers for less waste
  2. Get a good thermos and lunch size cooler or cooler bag to keep things hot and cold.  Make sure thermoses and water bottles are BPA free and stainless steel.  Be sure to remind your child of the importance of staying hydrated and drinking water throughout the day! Find out the top 5 BPA-free Water Bottles for kids.
  3. Let kids help plan their own lunches to be sure they will enjoy what’s in it
  4. Substitute Organic Sunbutter (from sunflower seeds) or Pumpkin seed butter if your child is in a nut free classroom (please ensure that seeds are allowed). They taste just as good, but are allergy friendly.
  5. Stay away from processed and pre-packaged foods.  Deli meats are a no-no.  Always opt for fresh meat, and nothing frozen.Pack a treat – Even if it’s bite-sized or an encouraging note or stickers. It’s hard work being gluten or dairy free, and eating healthy when other kids around you are eating chips and fruit roll ups.  Add dates and honey to gluten-free and dairy free cookie recipes for a nice snack.
  6. Talk to your child and child’s teacher/ school about food allergies that your child may have or about food allergies in his/her classroom… most schools are at least nut free, but there may be children with allergies to sesame, eggs or other foods. Remind kids not to trade any food with friends and not to try anything from anyone else and the importance of washing hands and being extremely careful about food allergies.

Delicious Substitutions

Gluten free?  Try the varieties of gluten-free breads and wraps for your child’s sandwiches.  As an alternative to a sandwich, leftover rice pasta is always a good option.   Dairy free? Try Coconut, Rice milk instead of Cow’s Milk.  You can even purchase Dairy free Yogurts made from Soy and Coconut.  With younger children, always try mixing their Cow’s Milk with the Substitute first, before weaning entirely off of the Cow’s Milk so they can adjust to the taste difference.  Nut/Peanut free?  Try Sunbutter  or other seed butters if you can’t use peanuts – seeds/ seed butters are also a great way to add protein and healthy fat to homemade snacks.  Sugar free? Try fresh fruit juices or adding water to a cranberry concentrate with honey.

Main meal ideas

  • Gluten free sandwich or pita with turkey, greens, and avocado
  • Leftover brown rice pasta with your choice of protein (beef, chicken, tofu) and tomato sauce with green peppers
  • Warm turkey or chicken stew
  • Chili with veggies and beans
  • Sweet potato and chicken breast
  • Bean salads.  Black beans with cucumber and corn are a kid favourite!
  • Quinoa salad. Be sure to include additional protein (chicken, pumpkin seeds etc) and your child’s favourite veggies!
  • Spinach or cucumber salad topped with apples and sunflower seeds

Snack Ideas

  • Vegetables, Mary’s crackers (contain sesame, be sure this is allowed in your child’s classroom) and hummus (contain sesame)
  • Vegetables, crackers and homemade guacamole
  • Apples and seed butter or goat cheddar
  • Boiled egg
  • A healthy Trail mix which could include some or all of the following: nut-free granola, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, goji berries, dried cranberries and blueberries, unsweetened coconut, raw cacao nibs.
  • Homemade gluten-free (or allowed grain) muffins or Sunbutter cookies (substitute coconut flour or gluten-free flour mix if desired)
  • Homemade gluten-free (or allowed grain) cookies with oats, seeds and dates.  Use coconut oil instead of butter.

Happy school year and happy eating!

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We’ve just launched our new website and will be posting health tips and the latest news of our Naturally Well Clinic, located here in Ottawa, Ontario.

www.naturallywellclinic.ca