Recipe: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is a good source of vitamin A.

During the cold months, few things are better than a good cup of soup. This creamy and healthy butternut squash-based soup is filling, delicious and easy to make.

Butternut squash is a versatile vegetable and a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin A. When bought in season, it’s budget friendly. Plus, butternut squash soup is easy to store. So what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 lb. peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 package soft tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for a few minutes until tender. Add the butternut squash and sauté a few more minutes, and then add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the tofu and ginger, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot, and simmer a few more minutes until the tofu is heated through.

Purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and reheat until the soup is very hot, but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh thyme or thin strips of lemon peel, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

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Need More Vitamin A? Here are Five Ways to Get Your A’s

Get your vitamin A from orange squashes.

Vitamin A is a critical player in the health of your eyes, skin, bones and more. Here are five colorful ways to get enough of this important nutrient.

It’s safe to say that vitamin A is a real multi-tasker. Most people know vitamin A for its role in vision, but it also plays a role in the health of your skin, bones and teeth, and it supports reproductive and immune system functions, too.

Related Article: What to eat for healthy skin

You can get your vitamin A from both plant and animal sources, but in slightly different forms. Preformed vitamin A – found mostly in animal foods like liver, fish, milk or eggs – is the active form of the vitamin. That means that once it’s absorbed, it’s ready for your body to use.

But you can also turn to all kinds of plant foods for your vitamin A, too. Many plant foods contain compounds called carotenoids – including beta carotene, lycopene and lutein.

These carotenoids themselves are not active vitamin A, but your body can convert them into the active form of the vitamin whenever the need arises.

Carotenoids contribute orange, red and green colors to plant foods, so it’s a pretty safe bet that if a fruit or vegetable has a deep, rich color, it’s likely to be a good source of one of these important compounds that your body can transform into vitamin A.

Here are five colorful, tasty ways to get you’re A’s:

  • Carrots have so much beta carotene that a single carrot can provide more than twice the vitamin A your body needs for the whole day. They make great snacks on their own, or you can simply grate raw carrots into soups and salads for a healthy, colorful boost. Cooked or raw carrots are also delicious when added to a vanilla protein shake with a dash of cinnamon.
  • Orange squashes like pumpkin, acorn and butternut also contain lots of beta carotene. Roasting brings out the naturally sweet flavor of squash and makes for a nice alternative to more traditional vegetable side dishes. Or, try blending cooked squash with some flavorful broth to create a base for a tasty soup.
  • Spinach contains a carotenoid called lutein, which contributes much of the green color. Fresh spinach is a natural in salads, and frozen spinach is convenient for adding to soups, pasta sauces and other mixed dishes. If you find the taste of spinach too strong, try baby spinach leaves – they’re usually more tender and milder in flavor.
  • Peppers of all colors contain a variety of carotenoid pigments – which explains why they come in so many colors that range from green to yellow, orange, red and even deep purple. They’re great sliced into salads, or used as vegetable dippers with a bit of hummus or avocado dip for a snack.
  • Tomatoes get much of their red color from the carotenoid called lycopene. Fresh tomatoes are great in salads, or simply on their own with a drizzle of flavorful olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato pastes might work better for you if you don’t care for fresh tomatoes – you can work some of these tomato products into sauces, stews or soups.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Are You Getting Enough of These Five Nutrients?

Get your folic acid from leafy green vegetables.

Not eating enough fruits, vegetables and dairy products? You’re not alone, and you might be missing out on some important nutrients. Nutrition Expert Susan Bowerman explains.

Unfortunately, many people are eating too much, yet getting too little nutrition. Many of us are eating too many calories from foods that are loaded down with fats and sugar, but these may also lack important vitamins and minerals. At the same time, we’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are some of the richest sources of vitamins and minerals. Because many of us don’t consume enough dairy products, it’s tough to meet needs for calcium and vitamin D.

So, it should come as no surprise that the vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in many diets are the same ones that are abundant in fruits, veggies and dairy products. Are you eating enough to meet your needs for these five nutrients?

5 Essential Nutrients

Folic Acid

Why you need it. Folic acid—or folate, which is the form in which it exists in foods—is one of eight B-vitamins that are needed for the manufacture and maintenance of cells, particularly during periods of rapid cell growth. This is is why it’s so important that women consume adequate amounts both before and during pregnancy. Folic acid is also used to manufacture genetic material, as well as red blood cells, which help carry oxygen throughout the body.

Where you find it. The words folic acid and folate derive from the Latin word folium, which means leaf, and for a good reason. This vitamin is abundant in green leafy vegetables. You can also find folate in asparagus, broccoli, avocado and citrus fruits, as well as nuts and beans.

Vitamin A

Why you need it. A key function of vitamin A is to support proper vision. It’s a critical player in the transmission of electrical signals from the eye to the brain. Vitamin A also supports the health of skin and mucous membranes, which act as barriers against infection. It also supports reproductive and immune system function.

Where you find it. Vitamin A is found in its active form (which the body is ready to use) in a few animal foods, such as liver, eggs and butter. Most people get the bulk of their vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, a compound that provides deep green, yellow and orange color to many fruits and vegetables. The body can easily convert beta-carotene into the active form of vitamin A. Beta-carotene is found in many colorful foods, including carrots, winter squash, peaches, apricots, papaya, sweet potatoes, leafy greens and broccoli.

Calcium

Why you need it. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and nearly all of it is stored in your bones and teeth. Most people know how important calcium is in keeping these tissues healthy, but it plays other critical roles. Calcium plays a role in muscle contraction and helps to regulate your heartbeat, and it helps cells in your nervous system to communicate with one another.

Where you find it. Although most people look to dairy products first—and they are the richest sources of calcium—you can also find it in leafy green vegetables, tofu, beans and almonds.

Vitamin D

Why you need it. Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the digestive tract, so it is vitally important in helping the body to form and maintain healthy teeth and bones, where these minerals are stored. Vitamin D is also necessary for proper muscle function and it supports activity of the immune system.

Where you find it. Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” because the body is able to manufacture this vitamin in the skin when it’s exposed to sufficient sunlight. However, many people may not have adequate sun exposure due to many factors, including lifestyle or use of sunscreen, to produce adequate amounts. There are only a few natural food sources of vitamin D. The primary ones are fatty fish, egg yolks and liver, which is why milk can be a valuable source. In many countries, milk is fortified with vitamin D.

Potassium

Why you need it. Potassium helps the central nervous system send its impulses throughout the body, It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure, and it helps you to efficiently extract energy from your food. And all your muscles, including your heart muscle, need potassium in order to properly contract.

Where you find it. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with potassium. The best fruit sources include melons, bananas, avocados, apricots, citrus fruits and strawberries. The highest potassium vegetables are tomatoes, carrots, spinach and broccoli. Milk, along with its calcium and vitamin D, is also a good source of potassium.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com