I’m elated to finally have left the territory on the BMI chart labeled “obese.” I feel fantastic. I eat wholesome food; I crave wholesome food, vegetables even. I feel my taste buds have embraced their new identity in belonging to a healthier person as well. It is a joy to know that when I sit down with my patients to talk about their weight loss needs, I speak from experience and can share the keys to success with them. Not only as a doctor, but as someone who has overcome obesity.
I have a lot to say about motivation, and I’ll probably post on that soon. I’ve realized one of the keys to lasting behavior change, when living in the toxic food culture of the South, is having significant motivation to tap into which provides a concrete battle plan when a pile of fried onions or a slow-cooked bar-b-cue buffet is staring you in the face. I have learned to resist, and it has gotten easier.
For now, I’m going to pass along a recipe that has become a staple in my January kitchen. It’s delicious, packed with vegetables, and easy to cook. It helped me reach the 55 pound mark of weight loss this month, and I’ll continue to enjoy it all winter. This, like many of my recipes, is a recipe-less recipe. I enjoy cooking when I don’t have to look at instructions. So here is how I do it:
Magic Disappearing Cabbage Soup (it disappears fast and so does the fat)
Large soup pot
Olive oil, a few tablespoons
An Onion or two, roughly chopped, or leeks, if you are feeling fancy
A cabbage, or even just half of one (I use a single small one from my garden), chopped thinly
Any other veggies you would like to use or have on hand: green beans, carrots (chopped), celery, cauliflower, chopped spinach. I aim for a total of around 5 cups of these veggies when I have cabbage, or 8 cups if I don’t have cabbage.
Chicken broth (enough to cover the pile of veggies you have and fill the soup pot)
Box of chopped tomatoes.
Salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasoning to taste
Optional: Nitrate-free, reduced-fat Italian sausage, just a small amount chopped up and thrown in to simmer with the onions for added flavor.
First, heat the olive oil until it runs easily around the base of the pot. Add the chopped onion (or fancy leek), garlic, and sauté for a minute. If you are using sausage for added flavor add it now. After a minute or so, add carrots and celery if you have them, and cabbage. Shake in a bunch of Italian seasoning, maybe a tablespoon at this point. Stir the veggies for a few minutes over the heat, searing them a bit, till there is a golden color you notice emerging here and there. Then add the chicken broth, enough to cover the veggies in the pot.
Add the tomato (I use one box of diced tomatoes—and I recommend boxed rather than canned as the box is BPA free, and tomatoes will leach a lot of BPA from cans since they are so acidic). Throw in the rest of the chopped veggies you have on hand, and let the pot come to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and let the soup go for an hour or so. Once the vegetables are tender, taste the soup for seasoning. Add salt carefully, and Italian seasoning liberally.
For those of you type “A”s who love numbers and actual measurements in your recipes, you can use this recipe, which I started with when I still read numbers in the kitchen while making this soup.
The great thing is that you can customize this to whatever veggies you have on hand, to your tastes, or up the protein content by adding beans or lean chicken, or even add some whole wheat pasta if you want.
I make a massive pot of this at least once a week and eat it for lunch, and sometimes also with dinner. As much as I want. I’ve served it to my family a few nights here and there for dinner with cornbread, and the kids have grown to like it. Talk about packed with nutrition! I know there are raw foodists out there who think every veggie is better raw, but did you know that the lycopene in tomatoes is increased with cooking? I need to start throwing mushrooms in every pot, as cooked mushrooms may have a protective effect against breast cancer!