First of all, Happy New Year! I hope you all had very happy celebrations and are geared up for a great 2011!
I did have a happy new year, but not a healthy one. The last two weeks of December I'd been feeling tired, run-down, and had constant headaches and sore throats. I finally had to call out sick last Thursday and Friday because I felt especially awful, and after a trip to the doctor I found out a few things: I probably have a viral infection (because I tested negative for strep and mono) but I was put on antibiotics anyway (after 4 days they still aren't helping) and I'm severely anemic. I was mildly anemic in high school, and thought it was because I was a vegetarian, but was surprised to find out that I'm now severely anemic! I haven't been eating a lot of red meat lately (I go through phases of loving it and not being very into it) but I do eat a lot of kale and spinach, both of which are high in iron. The doctor said that the anemia is to blame for my fatigue and headaches, so at least I have an explanation and can work towards getting better! I immediately bought iron supplements as well as Vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron. I also learned that calcium decreases the amount of iron your body can absorb, so I'm not supposed to take my iron supplement with milk products or other foods/supplements that contain calcium. I'm now trying to get used to the juggling act of all of my vitamins and supplements and what time of day they should be taken, and what to avoid eating/drinking with them.
I know I probably sound like a sick kid at this point, but I assure you that I'm not! I take fish oil capsules and Vitamin D (which is recommended for all women to aid in the absorption of calcium) daily, and now I'm also taking iron supplements, B Complex (which includes several B vitamins and Vitamin C) and a multi-vitamin (which has to be taken separately from the iron because it contains calcium). Phew. I've also looked into what other foods are good sources of iron (since I don't believe that supplements solve everything) and found that the following are high on the list:
-Oysters, clams, fresh and canned tuna, halibut, sardines, crab, shrimp
-Turkey, pork loin, chicken leg and breast, beef
-Spinach, acorn squash, apricots, raisins, broccoli, green beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
-Soybeans, lentils, beans, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds
Iron occurs in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme derives from animal tissue, and non-heme derives primarily from plant tissues. Heme iron is more efficiently absorbed by the body than non-heme iron (from Good Sources of Iron in Food). So its easier to absorb iron from meat, poultry and fish, but it is still found in many fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Anyhow, now that you know all about my iron deficiency, I can get back to the real point of this post: Triple Squash Soup! I'd been wanting to make this since I had the Triple Squash Soup at Whole Foods last week, and I finally made it on New Year's Eve. Yes, that was the wild and crazy way I celebrated the end of 2010 and start of 2011, by making squash soup. Pat was wonderful enough to stay home with my sick self, and we enjoyed a night of soup, sparkling apple cider, and wondering when Dick Clark will finally retire.
Triple Squash Soup
I made this soup by amending the ingredients listed at Whole Foods for their soup, and by playing as I went with the directions. I was very happy with the results! I wanted a spicy squash soup, and this had just the right amount of kick. If you prefer very spicy or sweet, adjust the spices accordingly.
- 4 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 2 medium onions, minced
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups baby carrots, or chopped carrots
- olive oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- garlic cloves (I used 4, but unless you are my sister or dad, I might suggest using 2-3 instead)
- spices: red pepper flakes, paprika, ground pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg
- brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare the butternut squash - peel, seed and cube squash and put in an oven dish. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, until evenly coated. Add pressed garlic cloves and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, paprika and ground pepper.
3. Prepare the acorn squash - halve and seed the squash and put in an oven dish. Sprinkle cinnamon on each half and measure 1 teaspoon of maple syrup into each half. Put enough water in the dish to cover the bottom.
4. Roast both butternut and acorn squash for about 30-35 minutes, until fork can easily be inserted into squash.
5. In a large pot, saute minced onions in a couple teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Cook until browned.
6. Transfer onions to a separate dish and then put carrots and 2 cups water in same pot that was used for the onions. Cover and cook on medium for about 20 minutes, until carrots are soft.
7. Pour liquid from acorn squash into the food processor and scrape the insides of the squash into the food processor as well.
8. Add onions and butternut squash to the acorn squash in the food processor and puree.
10. Empty carrots and pumpkin into the large pot and stir to combine with the squash and onion puree. Add water until desired thickness is reached (I used about 3 cups). Continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
11. Taste - add spices as desired. I sprinkled in some brown sugar (couple teaspoons), nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and ground pepper.
I also made some garlic goat cheese toast to have with the soup. I had this great bread that was baked with garlic from a local bakery and cut pieces of it, slathered it with goat cheese, and baked at 250 degrees for 7 or 8 minutes, until the bread was crispy and the cheese was melty.
The goat cheese was a wonderful compliment to the spicy squash, and was especially good when dipped in! Pat enjoyed this soup, even though just a month ago he thought he didn't like winter squash! This soup can convert squash haters to lovers!
I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2011! I plan to make this my best year yet!