Mom’s “Famous” Zucchini Soup Recipe

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My mom has an incredible garden that we fondly refer to as “Nana’s Secret Garden”. I don’t have a garden myself (nor should I with my two “brown thumbs”), but my boys love playing in her garden and eating fruit, berries and veggies (literally) off the vine. This time of year Nana’s Secret Garden is bursting with zucchini, some the size of my small children. It was from this prolific garden that my mom was inspired to create this recipe for zucchini soup. This soup is one of my favorite end-of-summer treats–it is creamy with a fresh, vibrant taste. In fact, this soup is so good that it was published in Sunset Magazine–which, basically, makes this soup famous. At least to me. And it really does deserve to be famous.

Well, I was at the grocery store yesterday trying to figure out what I’m going to feed my family this week (somehow it’s still a mystery to me. Every. Single. Week. You’d think that after years of cooking every single day I’d know what to make for dinner but, alas, I still wander the grocery store looking for inspiration, week after week). This week, my store had courgettes on sale–only I didn’t know what courgettes were. I have learned that there are many different names for things here in Ireland. As it turns out, courgettes are none other than the humble zucchini. And you know what that means? I get my zucchini soup, even though I’m thousands of miles away from Nana’s Secret Garden.

So here is my mom’s award winning recipe for zucchini soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

zucchini-soup-su-637683-lCurried Zucchini Soup

1 large zucchini (or courgette!)
1 large onion
1 head of garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
*instant mashed potatoes for thickening

In a large stock pot, sautee coarsely chopped vegetables and 1 cup of stock until the vegetables are soft. Working in small batches, puree the mixture in a blender, adding more stock to liquefy as necessary. Return vegetable puree to pot and add curry powder, salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture and add coconut milk and evaporated milk. Add more stock if necessary or, to thicken, add instant mashed potatoes.

*Since the zucchini come in many different sizes, you’ll probably need to adjust the amounts of stock and seasoning you use. Sometimes I also like to add some fresh herbs like basil at the very end of the cooking. This soup also freezes well for a taste of summer in later months.

…And, if you have LOTS of zucchini to use up, here are a few of my other favorite zucchini recipes:

Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini and Corn Tacos
Zucchini Bread
Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Pasta
Zucchini “Noodles”
Zucchini and Rosemary Frittata  

7 Healthy Habits For Families

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One of our favorite family past times: the monthly Seattle Adventure Run

A couple of weeks ago at Stroller Strides we were talking about healthy habits that we are trying to implement in our lives. There were so many great ideas, that I thought I’d write a post to share some of them with all of you.

1. Set the example for your kids: I’m really fortunate in this arena because my parents are some of the healthiest, most motivating and inspirational people I know. They have always set a wonderful example of healthy living for me and my sisters. Case in point: My mom got attacked by a dog last summer while she was out running. She broke her shoulder and had to get multiple surgeries on her arm. Three months later she was running a half marathon–with her arm in a sling for all 13.1 miles. Smiling and chatting with other runners the whole way. My dad’s favorite past-times include boogie boarding (yes, he still dons a wetsuit and goes out in the frigid Northwest Pacific Ocean), skim boarding and downhill skiing. They work hard, play hard, and eat well. I learned a lot of healthy habits from my parents, and I hope I can pass those along to my kids–kind of a “pay it forward” for our health.

2. Be Active With Your Kids: My boys are only 2 and 6 months now, so a lot of being active with me involves them riding along in the stroller while I run or walk or exercise. I secretly want to be like “Greenlake Mom”. If you’ve ever been to Seattle’s Greenlake, you know who I’m talking about. She’s the one out there running in the pouring rain with her double jogging stroller in one hand and the dog leash in the other hand while her 5 year old zips ahead on his bike. As the boys get older, I’m looking forward to spending time practicing sports with them, going for family bike rides, hiking, rock climbing, skating–whatever will get us moving and having fun together.

3. Keep bad food out of your house: If you know that you’re tempted to sneak a bite of ice cream every time you open the freezer, it’s probably best to just NOT keep ice cream in your freezer. We have lots of opportunities outside of our homes to eat unhealthy food (parties, dinners out, a quick snack from the vending machine when you’re out and about), so make your home a safe-haven.

4. Keep good food in your house: Replace those food traps with healthy options that you actually like eating. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a huge sweet tooth. I will literally sit down and eat a whole chocolate cake if I’m left un-checked. Seriously. Instead, I fill my fridge and pantry with healthy sweets: yogurt, fresh fruit, berries, raisins and fruit leather and even a bag of chocolate chips (I can eat a few chocolate chips for a chocolate craving and it will usually tide me over so I don’t feel like I need to go and bake myself a cake). That way when the craving hits, I can usually find a healthier option that will satisfy me.

5. Prepare your meals and eat as a family: I consider dinner time to be almost a sacred event. Even when Jon is crazy-busy with work, he makes an effort to be home and at the dinner table by 6:00 every single day. I cook almost all of the food we eat and I even have my toddler “help” in the kitchen. The whole family eats together, talks together, and gets to share a few moments of peace in our otherwise busy lives. Many days, this is the only time that everyone is awake and present in one place at the same time–I wouldn’t give up family meals for anything!

6. Get enough sleep: This is for you and for your little ones. Set a bedtime and come up with a bedtime routine that you do to unwind every single night. 6 AM always comes way too early, so do what you can to make it less terrible!

7. Limit screen time: Everyone knows that watching too much T.V.  or playing too many video games or spending too much time surfing the internet isn’t a great idea. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against any screen time for children under age 2. The importance of limiting screen time basically sets you up for a healthier lifestyle in two ways: (1) you aren’t sitting around watching T.V. all day and (2) you’ll have more time to be up doing other things.

The earlier you start incorporating healthy habits in to your life, the earlier your kids can start learning with you.  And, if you’re lucky, maybe your kids will even teach you a thing or two!

Now excuse me while I go watch The Biggest Loser with a brownie and a bowl of Doritos.