Monday Soup Night: Creamy spicy Pumpkin soup with lots of comfort and nutrition to heal me after my tooth extraction

When I first get started with what I call soup-season I just want to eat soups everyday. The way hearty thick soups give nutrition, energy and warmth to your whole body is addictive as the degrees are dropping. And when you need healing after a tooth extraction / oral surgery like me.

This weeks creamy spicy pumpkin soup is like the sweetest and most flavorful party my taste buds have ever experienced. And it's the most healing dinner I could think of today...

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My Favorite Breakfast Smoothies

I believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is where we "break the fast" our body has been under for many hours and where we stock up the energy needed to Attack the Day.

So we need to eat a lot and we need to eat right. Most mornings in our home we make big healthy breakfasts with greens, grains & proteins. With coffee on the side, oh don't forget the coffee (:

But some mornings my body doesn't feel like a big feast. Or I don't feel like cooking. Or I don't have the time (this happens very rarely as I always make sure to have time in the morning, nothing worse than rushing from the beginning of the day!) But on these days I replace my greens, grains, coffee & protein with A BIG YUMMY BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE!

Fruit and Vegetable (I prefer a mix) are super super yummy and gentle to your digestion system in the mornings. Remember that no matter how yummy and healthy the supermarkets pre-packed smoothies look, they are probably packed if not with sugar then with additives to make the shelf live longer. DYI (Do It Yourself).

Nothing like a morning smoothie routine and starting each day with this healthy addictive habit - you should try it!

Mango-Banana Breakfast Smoothie

(2 glasses)

1 banana

1/2 big mango or 1/1 smaller mango

50 g of muesli/oats

1 cup of soymilk

1 cup of water

TIP: Add spirulina powder for a green version

Directions

Blend, serve with ice & enjoy

A Typical Breakfast in our home

Avocado on rye bread, egg, greens & a Sweet Kiwi Treat. Coffee and water on the side

Chocolate: The Yummiest of All Superfoods

Chocolate tastes so good that often we can’t help but feeling a bit guilty about eating it. But is chocolate actually bad for our health? As many of you may know already, the answer comes with great relief and is NO, chocolate may actually help you keep healthy. How? Read on and find out everything about this delicious superfood!

The darker the better

First, not all types of chocolate are healthy. So, if you’re already reaching out for a chocolate candy bar... hold on! Chocolate’s nutritional goodness comes from cacao, a bean that is packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine. The only problem? Cacao on its own is bitter, chalky and overall nasty to the taste buds. This is why most chocolate bars also contain sugar, milk, butter and other substances which have the only effect of diluting the benefits of cacao and adding on the calorie count.

To keep it beneficial and still delicious, choose the least processed
chocolates possible containing 70% of cacao and up. Many brands, like Hershey’s, sell pure cocoa powder, which you can add to your smoothies or yogurt for maximum benefits.

A healthier heart

Once determined which kind of chocolate is good for you, let’s pass on to the actual benefits. Research from different institutes proves that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits. Thanks to a high concentration in antioxidant flavonoids, chocolate may help keep your blood pressure under control and reduce the risk of heart attack. On the other hand though, as these antioxidants come together with a great amount of sugar, eating chocolate is not an excuse to cut down exercise.

Actually, studies have shown that together, chocolate and exercise, maximize each other’s benefits to your body. So, why not treat yourself a guilt-free piece of chocolate after exercising?

A brighter brain

Ever felt like it’s impossible to focus at work or at school and you’re just too distracted to get anything done? Here’s your solution! Chocolate seems to increase the blood flow to the brain, helping you improve your cognitive functions. The effects of alertness and receptiveness may last up to 3 hours after consumption, also thanks to its small caffeine content.

Moreover, chocolate is also believed to be a stress reliever. So, grab that chocolate snack, not only will it help your body ward off the effects of stress on the work place, but it'll also boost your brain power when you really need it.

Lose weight the yummy way

Yes, we’ve said it. Eating dark chocolate might actually help you lose weight. Before you reach out for a huge chunk though, let us remind you that chocolate is really high in calories and the secret to its benefits lies in moderation. Eat it as a substitute for unhealthy snacks or whenever you experience a sweet craving; it will make you feel satisfied and will help you control your appetite, thus producing weight-loss effects.

So, instead of reaching out for a cookie, a sneaker or a sugared drink, just go for dark chocolate, an equally delicious option with much higher benefits to your body.

If you need some inspiration for yummy yet healthy December treats, follow our recipe section and find out the many ways you can indulge during the holiday season without falling into unhealthy habits.

----- Buy Fair Trade chocolate whenever possible. It’ll taste even better as you’re doing good, and will make a huge difference to the lives of cocoa farmers and their families around the world.


Healthy Thoughts on Hearty Soups

As winter is approaching, we’re taking a stand against cold temperatures and seasonal illnesses by boosting our system with healthy nutrients all throughout November. To keep warm and enhance our body’s nutritional intake we have decided to share one yummy soup recipe each week of the month. Want to know why having soup is so important for your body? Read on and find out!


Maximize your nutritional intake.
Sugared hot drinks, chocolaty snacks, fatty warm dishes… winter is also holiday season with Christmas, New Years and, for us living in China, Chinese New Year. For many, cold temperatures and the holiday cheer might result in eating more and more often, with the risk of increasing only the calorie intake while disregarding the nutritional value of what we eat.
Our suggestion is to start your meal with a delicious soup. Containing much water and healthy fiber, vegetable soups help you feel satisfied and full sooner. Research has shown that eating soup at the beginning of your main meal, reduces the calorie intake by up to 20% without compromising on nutrition.


Better raw or cooked?
The answer is… it depends! On one hand, some nutrients in vegetables are heat sensitive and easily get destroyed when cooked or dissolved in water. It’s the case of vitamin C, a compound that can be found in many vegetables such as bell peppers, dark leafy greens and broccoli. On the other hand, boiling vegetables is proven to enhance the level of other nutrients such as beta-carotene and lycopene. These powerful antioxidants, which can be found especially in cooked tomatoes, are associated with a number of health benefits among which a reduced risk of cancer.

Comparing the health benefits of cooked versus raw vegetables is complicated. What we do suggest is that you eat plenty of both, according to your own taste. No doubts, a hearty and creamy soup is the perfect accompaniment to your winter meals.

Do It Yourself!
If you’ve lived in China for a while, you should already know that you can choose among a great variety of packaged or powdered instant soups. Obviously, DIY Soups are the best option to maximize all benefits of a healthy diet. Pre-made soups that you can find at any convenience store and supermarket are EXTREMELY high in sodium, low in protein and high in carbs as they are potato starch based.


It’s true, making soup out of fresh veggies might take a while and sometimes it’s hard to fit some cooking time into our busy schedule. But Natural is just Better! For efficiency purpose, we suggest you make big quantities of soup at once and consume it over the next few days or freeze it for a later use.

If you love your body and are ready to try some delicious soup recipes, visit our Recipe section here on Shanghaihabits and get started with cooking!

Happiness is many things and Home-Cooked Soup is definitely one of them!