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Favorite Vegetable Soup

Growing up, both of my parents made awesome versions of tomato based soups. My mom’s version was packed with veggies and had mini pasta in it and my dad’s version was more rich with oxtail in it. Quick side note – I always wondered about the origins of this soup since my Dad was born and raised in Shanghai and the soup seemed like something you’d find in the US…I stumbled upon this recipe from my favorite Chinese food blog that details the origins of the recipe my dad would make and the western influences on the recipe…if you eat meat, it’s definitely worth giving a try! Since I don’t eat meat and I have a gluten sensitivity, I have been on a quest through the dreary winter months to create an awesome tomato based vegetable soup packed with both flavor and nutrients. This super simple recipe came to be after reading a ton of different classic vegetable soup and minestrone soup recipes. I love making a big batch because it tastes even better the next day and is one of my favorite lunches!

Nutrient Packed Favorite Vegetable Soup

Makes 8 Servings

One sweet onion, chopped
Two carrots, peeled and chopped
Two stalks of celery, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz can diced tomatoes
32 oz container (4 cups) of veggie broth
2 cups of water
1 large potatoes, diced
1 15 oz can cannellini/garbanzo/kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium zucchini, diced
1 12 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies (about 2 1/4 cup)
2 large handfuls of chopped kale
1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
Salt + pepper to taste

1. Cook the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil for five minutes over high heat, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.

2. Add in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Stir well and cook on medium heat for ~3 minutes.

3. Add in the canned tomatoes with their juice, the vegetable broth, the water and the potatoes. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let boil for five minutes, covered.

4. Add in the zucchini, beans and frozen vegetables. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.

5. Add in the kale. Stir. Stir in the apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Top with Parmesan if you want!

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Easy 5 Minute Salsa

I am OBSESSED with salsa. I love it. I love it with the classics like tortilla chips and tacos but I also don’t hesitate to use it on top of my eggs or baked potatoes. Salsa is an amazing condiment that is packed with flavor without the fat and is also a good source of Vitamins A&C. While there are many amazing store bought brands, I decided to whip up a batch of my own that, if I do so say myself, rivals my favorite store bought brands. Since this salsa recipe is SO easy, I think it’ll definitely be a frequent flier in my house!

Easy 5 Minute Salsa

Yield: About 4 Cups

Ingredients:

1/2 of a Green Bell Pepper
1/2 of a Small Jalapeño, Seeds Removed
1/2 of a Sweet Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
One Medium Tomato
1 28 Oz Can of Tomatoes (Wegmans Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes are the best for this!)
2 Tbsp Lime Juice (1/2 – 1 lime)
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Tsp Salt

Instructions:

  1. Cut the green pepper, jalapeño pepper, onion, tomato and garlic into chunks and add to food processor.
  2. Drain the can of tomatoes and place half in the food processor. Add the lime juice, apple cider vinegar and salt.
  3. Pulse ten times. Add remaining canned tomatoes and mix on low for five seconds. Check consistency and pulse longer if you like a thinner salsa.

Store covered in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Use on everything.

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5 Tips to Building A Healthier Charcuterie Board

There are very few things that I love more than a good charcuterie board. This time of year is full of gatherings and people stopping over. A charcuterie board is a simple but elegant way to feed a crowd and allow people to pick and choose items that they want to eat. While I love charcuterie, I am a firm believer that not all charcuterie boards are created equal and I have come up with five tips to help you up your charcuterie board game to make a healthier charcuterie board for your next gathering or fun, casual meal.

  1. VARIETY: With so many people who have dietary restrictions and food sensitivities, have lots of choices for everyone. Having an assortment of meat, cheese, olives, fruits and/or veggies, dips, crackers (like my absolute favorite Simple Mills Fine Ground Sea Salt Crackers that those who do and do not eat gluten love!), nuts, pretzels, bread sticks, dark chocolate, etc.
  2. HEALTHIER CONDIMENTS: Add in healthier condiments and dips to accompany the items on the charcuterie board such as mustards, hummus, yogurt based dips, homemade pesto and raw honey.
  3. BETTER MEAT CHOICES: While cured meats are inherently salty, choose options that aren’t also loaded with preservatives! Look for organic meats, meats labeled “all natural” and meats labeled “uncured” (they’re still cured, just typically in a more natural way!) when choosing your meat for charcuterie boards. Many times, prosciutto is made with just ham and salt. While these are better choices, don’t eat tons of these cured meats as the salt content is typically pretty high!
  4. BETTER FRUIT & NUT CHOICES: Use better dried fruit and nuts! If you are adding dried fruit, check the label for added sugar, oil and preservatives. If you are buying nuts, look for ones that are raw or dry roasted (roasted but using no added oil).
  5. HAVE FUN: Be creative and don’t stress about it! You can’t mess this up!

If you follow Based Wellness on Facebook or Instagram, tag me in your next charcuterie creation so I can check it out!

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My Amazon Wellness Gifts Gift Guide

I shop local A LOT but I also love ordering stuff off of Amazon because it’s so convenient. I’ve rounded up a list of 15 gifts that have a wellness theme to ask for or give!

  1. Himalayan Salt Body Scrub

It feels like it’s rather hard to find products that are on the natural side even if they claim to be but this one is awesome! With ingredients that are safe, this is a great addition to a gift basket (salt scrub, journal, new pillows and a candle for a relaxation gift!), get as a stocking stuffer or tie a pretty ribbon around it as a small gift!

2. Organic Sweet Almond Oil

This is one of my favorite beauty products. This is amazing for all over body moisture for adults and babies! Skip regular scented lotions and baby oil (that is often made with mineral oil) and opt for Organic Sweet Almond Oil. Add a few drops of lavender oil for a relaxing before bed mixture.

3. Sonic Vibrating Facial Cleansing Brush

This little brush makes skincare an absolute breeze. I love this particular one because the size is perfect for travel and it comes with multiple attachments and speed settings. The price point is great too!

4. The Five Minute Journal – Guided Gratitude Journal

I love the idea of a few minutes disconnected from everything to focus on the good that is within every day. I also love actually putting pen to paper! This would be a great gift to get or give!

5. Natural Soy Candle Set

Is any gift list complete without candles? No. Absolutely not. But these candles aren’t just any candles…they’re natural candles made from soy wax which is a lot better for you to burn than some other super popular brands I won’t name.  Gift this as a set or separate them!

6. Waterpik Water Flosser

Don’t think for a minute that you’re oral health is separate from your overall health! Bad oral health and oral hygiene’s connection to other health issues is well documented. I love using a Waterpik to floss with because it gives me an I just left the dentist feeling of clean!

7. Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow
We have so many pillows at my house. I thought I was losing my mind because they kept appearing but really my husband just kept buying them! We have tried so many pillows but these ones are the best and the price for two is amazing!


8. Resistance Bands


Do you know someone who is always on the go but also makes fitness a priority? These take up virtually no space at all and are perfect for a workout at home or on the go!

9. Sleep Mask

I’ve honestly never used an eye mask because whenever I’ve tried one on they’re extremely uncomfortable and it feels like I’m being blindfolded. I purchased this one for a long flight and it’s nothing short of amazing. The mask has super comfy cups (this honestly kind of looks like a mini bra) that allow for your eyelashes to have some room rather than get squished. Being able to get ample sleep is so important for good health!

10. Marbled Pouches

I love these pouches! I bought them to toss in my purse and beach bag all summer so that I could easily transfer items from one bag to another. Use this to store your supplements, your sunscreen, your lip balm or whatever else you may want to have on the go!

11. Heated MassagerEven if you or people on your list don’t have chronic pain, there will always be those days that you are a little more sore than others. This heated massager is amazing and is a great gift to give or, in my case, to even to gift to myself!

12. Organic Tea Set

Have a tea lover in your life? This is a great option so that the tea lover in your life can try a variety of teas to find their favorite!

13. Nespresso


Why am I including this? When I got my Nespsresso, I actually started drinking LESS coffee because it was single serve. This machine makes the best cup of coffee and it even came with a milk frother that works with non-dairy milks like almond milk! While I am typically against single use coffee makers (cough cough Keurigs) Nespress machines are made almost entirely from recycled products, the coffee itself is actually fair trade and sustainable and the pods are recyclable! I was and am totally sold on this product. Additionally, if you know someone or are someone who LOVES buying coffee drinks out, this makes coffeehouse quality drinks at home allowing you full control over the creamer and sugar content!

14. Spiralizer

This easy to use gadget allows any sturdy veggie to be turned into a “noodle”! Use this to make hot or cold dishes or create garnishes.

15. Yeti Water Bottle

I love a reusable water bottle. I always have one with me because I think paying for bottled water is ridiculous and single use plastic water bottles are super wasteful. Use this to keep items hot or cold for hours! If you feel like splurging on another Yeti product, this bag is amazing to pack some snacks or a lunch in or to keep in your car to keep items cold in after you go to the grocery store. As a bonus, it floats!

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Savory Stuffed Squash

There is a cute little farm in the town I grew up in that, among many other things, has the most gorgeous squash. After receiving a suggestion to visit this place, I stopped by this farm stand where I was able to purchase a locally raised free range chicken, onions, potatoes, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, blue hubbard squash, butternut squash and two varieties of acorn squash I have never had – baked potato squash and mashed potato squash. These varieties, as their names suggest, have a white flesh that is less sweet than other squash varieties and seemingly a bit more starchy making them comparable to a potato. I am a potato lover so I of course had to try both of these and they were great!

If you are not able to find a baked potato squash, this recipe would be equally as amazing with the ever popular and easy to locate acorn squash.

Savory Stuffed Squash

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:
1 Baked Potato or Acorn Squash
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Bunch Tuscan Kale
1 Sweet Onion
1/3 Cup Blue Cheese
1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
Salt
Black Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the two squash. Using a sharp knife, cut each squash in half length wise. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet. image1
  3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the two halves and use clean hands or a basting brush to distribute the oil evenly.  Season with salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the flesh is able to be easily pierced with a fork.  If you’re pressed for time and waiting for the squash to bake isn’t your thing, you can also check out this 10 minute microwave cooking version which is just a quick and easy shortcut!image4
  4. Peel the onion and cut it in half. Lay the cut side of each half down and slice the onion into 1/8 inch or so pieces. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Season with salt a pinch of salt and some black pepper and stir to coat. Allow the onion to cook, stirring occasionally until it become soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.image2
  5. While the onion is cooking, wash your kale and peel or cut the leaves away from the hard stem, discarding the stem (or saving it for stock).image3
  6. Stack the leaves on your cutting board horizontally and begin to slice them vertically creating short little ribbons. Add the kale to the cooked down onions and stir. Allow the kale to cook for 5 minutes or until it has wilted and is soft. Turn the heat off and stir in the pecans and blue cheese.
  7. Divide the filling equally amongst the squash halves and place in the 400 degree oven to bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the squash and cut each half in half again before serving.

If the delicious taste wasn’t reason enough, a serving of acorn squash contains about 1/3 of the daily value of fiber and is full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. On top of that, kale is incredibly rich in Vitamins A, K, C as well as Manganese.