Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup and Giving Spin a Second Chance

After the craziness that has been life for the past week, we are slowly finding our new normal.  Tough?  You bet.  Worth it in the end?  Well, that's what I hold on to.

I don't know about your parts of the world, but it is getting quite chilly here in the midwest!  We broke down and turned the heat on  last night.  My youngest refuses to wear socks, and our (new) oldest likes to wear her cute little-girl nightgowns, which aren't very warm.  Pretty soon, we'll be putting the flannel sheets on the beds - burrrr!

I am your typical lover of all things fall - pumpkin spice everything, chili, apple cider, you get the idea.  I found this recipe some time ago and knew I had to try it once the temps started tanking.  I love soup, and I love butternut squash, so perfect!  And it couldn't have been any easier to throw together.... well, outside of peeling the squash.  I hate that part.  But I will totally go through peeling another squash for this tasty soup!  Here's the recipe:

Butternut Squash Soup

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (the original recipe called for 2... not enough for me, if you love garlic, throw in a few more!)
1 small yellow onion
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 cup milk 
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional, if you like a little extra sweetness)
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium to large stockpot, melt the butter and add the garlic and onion, and saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the squash and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin.  Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (one of my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets!).  Add the milk, blend again, then taste.  I like a little sweetness to my squash, so I added the maple syrup, along with some salt and pepper for a sweet-and-savory take.

I love this soup!  It made almost exactly 10 cups, and the best part?  This is a very low-calorie, low-fat soup!  We're talking 130-ish calories for each cup.  It's perfect when I need a nice warm pick-me-up, or paired with your favorite crusty bread for dinner.  Even my 2-year-old likes this and wants a few bites.

So, this brings me to our second topic, mixing things up in the gym.  I used to be so guilty of being a one-sport athlete.  Running was my one-and-only true love for working up a sweat.  Fast forward through injury and exercise ruts, and now I love to mix up cardio, strength training, combine them.... My favorites?  TurboKick, Insanity, PiYo Strength, BodyPump, and this just in..... maybe spin!

Have you every tried a spin class?  I have done it before, but yesterday was the first day I loved it.  If any of my spin-loving friends are reading this, they know that the reason I'm not as in love with spin is because I dislike being stationary when I'm working out.  I need to move, to jump, to run, do burpees.... until yesterday.  Yesterday's spin class was like doing Insanity on a bike.  We did 18 sprint intervals for almost 30 seconds each.  For those last 3 intervals, I thought I might throw up.

In case you're wondering, that's a good thing.  I love being pushed to my limits.

I had a conversation with my spin-loving friends after Friday's BodyPump class about the benefits of releasing aggression into the bike.  I really hadn't thought of that for a bike.  Usually I would liken that to punching or kicking, but yesterday, I warned that bike, and we had the best ride.  We poured buckets of sweat, screamed, wanted to puke, and it was awesome.

That's my two cents on giving something a chance in the gym that you may previously have written off.  I can't wait for next week!

What's a workout that you have tried that you previously didn't enjoy or didn't want to try that now you're into?

Recipe slightly adapted from On Fire Fitness