On a normal day, I have lunch between noon and 1 p.m. and head to the gym between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. I don’t do well during a workout if I’ve eaten too recently or if my blood sugar is on the low side because I’ve skipped lunch.
I’ve been experimenting with what foods work best as a pre-gym lunch and I’ve found that puréed vegetable soups are perfect. Since they are smooth, they seem easier to digest and they have enough punch to get you through a workout without causing a steep drop in blood sugar afterwards. However, these types of soups don’t have so many calories that you’re uncomfortable on the treadmill.
I used a spice blend called Baharat in my soup which is a combination of paprika, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger, cayenne, cardamom and nutmeg. It lent a nice bit of heat. If you prefer a milder flavor, use a milder curry powder.
I like to make this soup on the weekend and then heat it up in a mug with an extra splash of almond milk during the week for a quick lunch. It makes a great post-workout or late afternoon snack as well.
Try serving this soup with sliced apples instead of crackers for a change. You might want to garnish it with a few sliced almonds as well.
Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Carrots
Adapted from Carrboro Farmers’ Market
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (4 to 5 cups)
1 large apple, cored and chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
In a large soup pot (at least 5 quarts), heat olive oil. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add squash, apple, carrots, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry powder, salt and pepper. Stir well to evenly distribute the spices and sauté for about 5 more minutes. Add vegetable stock and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until squash can easily be pierced with a fork.
Use an immersion blender to purée the soup. (You can also use a food processor or regular blender and purée in batches. If you go this route while the soup is still hot, make sure to follow the instructions that came with your appliance; otherwise, the lid might blow off and you’ll have squash soup everywhere.) Once the soup is smooth, stir in the almond milk.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 118 calories, 3g fat (1g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 531mg sodium, 24g carb, 5g fiber, 8g sugar, 2g protein
Nutritional Analysis: If you are watching your Sodium intake, use a low-sodium vegetable stock (or make your own so you can control the salt) and/or eliminate the added salt.