When author and former Paris resident, Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen was first diagnosed with cancer, she was far away from home, some 3,626 miles to be exact. She’d lived in Paris for over 15 years, her adopted home, until a new opportunity prompted her family to move back the the United States. However, just ten days into her transatlantic move and new job back home, the married, mother of three received some devastating news: her breast cancer was advanced and she needed to seek treatment immediately.
In her latest book, “From Paris with Love: A Personal and Supportive Guide to Breast Cancer“, Lalisse-Jespersen recounts her journey from diagnosis to remission, and offers up some supportive advice for those embarking on their own health journeys. She took time out to speak with Simply Souperlicious’ Souper-in-Chief, Carolyn Moncel to discuss food, nutrition and self-care.
CM: Let’s talk about the title of the book. You had been living in France for many years. Can you share a bit about your life living there? What did you love about it and what did you dislike about it?
PLJ: Yes, I lived in Paris for almost 16 years. When I moved there, I thought I’d stay four or five years but that turned into a lot longer. Paris is such a special place for me. There’s just something about it that moves and inspires me, especially when it comes to creativity. That’s one of the things I love about it. As far as things to dislike? There aren’t too many, but one difference is that administrative things can be more challenging and take longer than in the United States. Other than that, Paris is an awesome place, and I can’t wait to get back.
CM: One of the better parts of living in France, is the access to local markets, mostly on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Did you and your family visit them often?
PLJ: Yes, absolutely. There’s nothing quite like shopping at Parisian markets. They’re the best for fresh produce, meats, cheeses, seafood, flowers, chocolate and everything in between. Our favorites are the ones on Rue Levis in the 8th arrondisement, and Rues Poncelet and Bayen in the 17th at Place de Ternes.
CM: When you returned to the US, did your eating habits change in any way (due to cancer or not). If so, how and why do you think?
PLJ: In France I ate healthy foods about 90% of the time. Unfortunately, things changed when I got back to the U.S. I got into the easy way of doing things—going through drive-thru windows, pizza days at work and getting quick fixes. I was also getting fast food that I hadn’t had access to in Paris, like Chick-Fil-A, a family favorite. And, I ate some of that when going through cancer treatment because I needed those pick-me-ups. But, during the course of having this terrible disease, I learned a lot about healthy eating and how that affects our bodies. I learned how certain ingredients like turmeric, onions and garlic can have a positive impact on our health, especially when it comes to cancer.
CM: A very cool point to mention is that your husband, Michael is a chef. Does he handle the cooking at home or do you take over?
PLJ: HA! He won’t let me in the kitchen. Just kidding, he does, but I am way too intimidated to do more than boil pasta or make scrambled eggs. He was trained in France, Denmark and the Netherlands and is such a fantastic chef. On top of that, he’s very conscientious when it comes to healthy eating and good home-cooked meals.
CM: Before your initial cancer diagnosis, how were your eating habits? Good, bad, meh?
PLJ: I moved to France from Manhattan, where I worked as an editor and ate off and on all day. I basically lived on tacos because there was an excellent Mexican restaurant near my apartment. There’s nothing wrong with tacos—I still love them, but I wasn’t eating veggies, whole grains or a lot of fruit at the time.
Once I got to France, it wasn’t long before I got into the French habit of eating really healthy foods and at scheduled mealtimes only. I cut out all the chips and cokes and began drinking lots of water, and exercising, too. It’s a cultural thing in France and it begins early on.
CM: Upon your diagnosis, how did your eating habits change?
PLJ: Once I knew how certain things could affect me, I made a decision to cut down on those and privilege the things that could actually help me. So, I went back to eating lots of fruit and vegetables, as we were doing in France and I upped my water intake. I started researching and reading books on cancer, fighting cancer, recurrence and the link with food. Books like Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen,Eating Well Through Cancer, and Eating for Health are extremely insightful.
CM: You went through many rounds of treatment. What role did food – particularly fruits and vegetables play in your self-care regime?
PLJ: In the beginning I did whatever was comfortable and helpful to get me through the treatments, which means, if I needed a Whopper, I got one. If I wanted BBQ, I got it. There are things that you can and can’t eat when you’re going through chemotherapy—and it all depends on the person. For example, I use to love frozen yogurt and I ate it during chemotherapy until I grew a strong aversion to it. Sometimes the food you eat during this time becomes your most hated food afterwards. In addition, my taste buds were dead when I underwent chemotherapy, so I had to eat really spicy foods in order to taste them. As I completed my treatment and got better and stronger, I knew that it was vital that I got back to a healthy regime, and fruits and vegetables were foremost on my list. Research has shown that diet and exercise play a key role in our overall health and can prevent cancer recurrence.
CM: As you have children at home, how has food selection and preparation changed for them?
PLJ: We are trying to teach them healthy eating habits. They’re just kids and they want to eat what their classmates are eating sometimes, but we try to limit our fast-food intake. We encourage water and exercise. And my husband is very big on educating them on food—where it comes from, how to grow it, why we need to eat certain things, while avoiding others. Thanks to him, they are not shy when it comes to trying new things. He makes French, Danish, and Asian food for example, on a regular basis. Their palettes are very well developed. Luckily, they favor healthy eating and ask for more of certain things like water or salads. We do have one “candy monster” in the family, but only one.
CM: There are many women and men currently navigating their way through breast cancer, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give to them?
PLJ: Take one treatment at a time; take one doctor’s visit at a time; take one day at a time. Go easy on yourself and allow yourself time and grace. You won’t be able to take on everything at once, so just take on what you can. And in the words of former ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott, who inspires me so much, ‘Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.’
Order your copy of From Paris With Love from Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen’s website.
The women in my life often make splashes later in life. There are friends who have travelled and settled all around the world; or met and married the loves of their lives. There are cousins who have started successful businesses in their 50s and 60s; and even an aunt who received her master’s degree in her 70s. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by women who remain unafraid of starting over at any age.
Which bring me to this old saying, age is nothing but a number. It’s a meaningful saying, especially since October is my birth month and in a matter of days, I’ll be turning … gasp … 52!
52 is NOT 25
Despite the inversion, 52 is not 25 nor is it 42 nor 32, either. There are always people out there spouting that “X age” is the new “Y age” and this needs to stop because it contributes to the rampant ageism we experience in society, but also in popular culture. So, let me put it bluntly: 52 is 52. It’s not a NEW anything. That’s right, I said it and I didn’t sugarcoat it. Even if I feel in my heart and soul, that I am younger, my body tells me otherwise despite, the best physical workouts. However, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t own the wisdom that age gifts me and use it to take on whatever the “new” that comes my way.
Here are five reasons why I embrace aging with utter glee.
1. Embrace my wisdom. At 52, hopefully I’m not nearly as “life” stupid as I was when I was at 25. At 25, you may have finished your formal education, secured your first serious job and finally have attained the status of living like a fully functioning young adult. But for the most part, you are still a stupid kid doing stupid things. If you don’t believe me, take a second to think back to that time. How much “life” sense did you really have? It’s in making those mistakes and learning from them that you grow. So, by the age of 52, hopefully, you examine life’s decisions in a wholly new way. At 52, I still don’t know everything, but I do know a hell of a lot more. And, I feel comfortable enough in my own skin to admit when I don’t know something, and I feel brave enough to ask for help when I don’t know. That, in itself, is growth.
2. Own my agency. The age of 52 pretty much ensures that I’m a grown-ass woman. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this. I know who I am – at least, this latest incarnation of me. I know what I want out of everything – life, love, work, family. I know what I expect of myself and of others. I know how to walk away when it doesn’t serve my soul. This is an important gift. It means that I’m not going to be wasting my time on anything that doesn’t enrich my life or make me a better person or doesn’t allow me to grow through connecting, interacting and helping others. It also means that I can/do stand up for myself. I always have but doing so always felt rebellious. Now, it feels like it’s my right. Bottom-line, I am not waiting for anyone’s permission to be or do ANYTHING.
3. Take care of myself. Turning 52 also means “me” time and selfcare. Everything that I do in my life should serve my life first, so that I am filled and fully charged to help others. It means quiet time and space, and practicing mindfulness. I have to admit this one is still a hard one for me to embrace. Honestly, as a black woman, who has time for this? But I now know it’s important. It means that I have to make sure that I am seeing the doctor like I should, watching how and what I eat, moving my body, laughing with family and friends and pursuing the activities and hobbies that bring me unadulterated joy.
4. Dream again. When I first started my career, female mentors on my career track used to tell me that we “could have it all: career, motherhood and more.” And, you can, just not all at the same time. I think the most astonishing thing that I’ve learned is just how much life really is like the book of Ecclesiastes: there really is a time for everything. Now that I’m nearly an empty nester and that my own children on their way to pursuing their own dreams, it’s time for me to start the next act of my life. I look to fellow Chicago girl, Michelle Obama to show me how to do it!
5. Give back. Giving back gives life meaning and purpose. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping young people find their way. Life is tough and there will always be crossroads, and pressure to take the “safe” path – even if that path doesn’t speak to the soul. Sometimes, you just need someone to tell you that everything is going to be fine, and that’s the role that I love serving.
Whoever says life is over at 50 is so wrong. In fact, for a lot of us, we’re just getting started … again. So, 52 comes in exactly five days and I cannot wait. While I’m no longer 25 or living my life as if it’s the “new” 25. I do plan to live my best version of 52, 62, 72, 82, 92 and who knows … 102. There’s only one force in the universe that can intervene … but for everyone else, well, they can just try and stop me.
When I was child growing up on the south side of Chicago, much of my summertime fun was spent at either family cookouts or summer block parties. Having now lived abroad for almost 20 years, increasingly, I realize just how much I miss this part of my life. And, I regret my children missing out on all of the memories and fun.
Summer Holidays Memories
For many American expats, the ultimate summer holiday is the Fourth of July. However, for me, it’s actually Labor Day, maybe because its arrival signals the end of the summer fun. No longer can you pretend that a new school year or work will not be in full swing on the following day.
During my childhood, Labor Day was almost always spent at the house of my mother’s cousin, Clarence. He held annual family cookouts on two holidays: Memorial Day (last Monday in May) and on Labor Day (first Monday in September). Sometimes, it would take him two weeks to prepare for these gatherings.
Clarence also was a man who could hold a grudge for an extremely long time. If for some inexplicable reason you missed either occasion, you could expect to receive the silent treatment from him until the next available holiday. Once, my mother missed the Labor Day celebration because she wanted an extra day of rest before returning to work. Cousin Clarence was having none of it. He refused to speak to my mother for eight months. Given the fact that they spoke by telephone at least once per week, his silence meant he took her absence seriously. Then just like that in May, he called and said, “Hey, Chick, are you coming and what are you bringing?” When she arrived at the cookout with a case of pop and a lemon icebox pie, all was forgiven.
It wasn’t just discovering my mother’s hidden baseball talents (she was a great hitter) or that she could jump double Dutch. It wasn’t just seeing family and having the elders remind us younger kids that we were all family, or needing to commit to memory how we were all related and never forgetting. It wasn’t just discovering that sometimes strangers showed up “pretending” to be family members just to get a free plate of barbecue. It wasn’t just because the barbecue sauce was so hot that it made your fingers tingle. Or, even the fact that the barbecue sauce would be slathered on almost every conceivable dish – from grilled ribs, chicken, sausage and fish to spaghetti and baked beans. And it wasn’t how many gallons of drinks (water, pop, juice and strong spirits) that the grown-ups brought – anything to quench thirst and to extinguish the fire in our mouths, along with other foods like potato salad, slaw, various bean salads, cakes and pies. It wasn’t just about watching our cousins pair up and play bid whist or dominoes or UNO. It wasn’t about chasing lightning bugs after dark with your cousins. It was about ALL of these things.
But, it was also about the music – incredible music so memorable that whenever I hear it, I’m instantly transported back in time. Whenever I hear it, I know exactly how old I was when I heard it, what I was doing and who I was with.
Simply Souperlicious: Kitchen Music – Labor Day 2020
Music has always been a constant in our home. Even now, whenever I talk to my brothers, we speak in code, often quoting obscure lyrics from deep tracks on famous and not-so-famous albums alike. The genre of music is inconsequential to us because we grew up listening to almost everything. It’s a tradition that we’ve all managed to pass down to our own children.
So, for me no holiday would be right without music. Yes, even though it will not be Labor Day here in Switzerland, and I will have to go to work, I will still prepare my favorite cookout food anyway. I do it so that foods that I associate with my childhood, my “American-ness” can be passed down to my own children. But most importantly, I play the music so that I miss my extended family and friends a whole lot less.
So, here’s my playlist for Labor Day. A little kitchen music for those families that must celebrate the holidays at a distance, and also for our essential workers who could stand some upbeat encouragement. If you’re in the kitchen today preparing food (both with your family present or at a distance), or honoring those who have left us, put this music on and dance like nobody’s watching.
Happy Labor Day, and in the famous words of the great Marvin Gaye, “Let’s Get It On!”
We used to eat together at our dining room table very night … until I was four years old. That all changed when my father died at age 50 from chronic heart disease.
From what I remember and from what I’ve been told about my dad, this five-foot-nine-inch, World War II veteran from Greenville, Mississippi, was one of the most disciplined cooks and eaters. Having recovered from his first heart attack at age 26, he managed to slim down his 205-pound frame during a time when most people were not very health conscious. Dad followed all of his doctors’ dietary restrictions. He didn’t smoke. He drank only skim milk. He ate artificial egg whites and steamed vegetables; consumed margarine, and lots of what we now know to be Omega-3-rich fish and oils). He would only take a glass of red wine on holidays. I even remember taking a couple of sips with him. Occasionally, he was permitted to eat my mother’s Angel Food cake. His dietary needs were so integrated into our family meals that those needs continued to influence our food choices long after his death. But, none of that thoughtful care taking prevented his involuntary departure.
With each passing Father’s Day – this being the 47th year without him, I find myself missing him even more. It’s not just because I’ve spent most of my life without him. It’s because my two older brothers and I, now have all existed on this earth longer than him. With each passing year, two points still remain needlessly unchanged and extremely pertinent for the times in which we live: First, wellness – especially in America — is expensive. There was a reason why my father would rarely risk sharing his garlic halibut fish with me, his finicky-eating preschooler. Second, if you’re poor or a person of color, the right to wellness feels exclusive, inequitable and often inaccessible.
We’re living through a pandemic. From everything that I know about this insidious virus so far, being overweight, or having any one of the nutrition-linked underlying conditions (diabetes, hypertension or yes, chronic heart disease), could mean the difference between life or death. So, when I think about the 100,000+ hardworking, innocent people who have already died back home in America alone – many of them “essential workers”, I cannot help but think about the links between affordable, accessible food, wellness and my dad. I pray for my family members, friends and even strangers that I don’t even know, because there are so many people at risk. If my father had lived during these turbulent times, he, as a food factory worker and custodian, would have been considered an “essential worker”, too. With a chronic heart condition, he would have been at risk, and he would have had to deal with the stressful, and difficult choice between wellness and a paycheck.
That’s why now, more than ever, finding ways to make wellness accessible and equitable IS the “essential” work that we must place collective focus. Addressing this issue is directly linked to our protests for other types of reform, be it racial, economic, educational, health or justice.
Wellness is for everyone – not just for those who are lucky enough to afford it. For me, this is a personal fight and I’m ready for the challenge. Like my dad, I was born in a turbulent year; for me it was 1968. When I was born, he said that he knew that I was a fighter because I was born with my hands already formed as fists.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thank you for continuing to inspire me and reminding me to always think about self-care, the care of my family and also the care of others.
It’s an unusual time around the world, as businesses and organizations grapple with the effects of the coronavirus/ COVID-19.
Updated: 6 March 2021
Please note that this page will be updated as the situation evolves.
Let’s Talk about “Hand Washing”
Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth and even ears. If you must, wash your hands. Avoid hand shaking. Elbow bumping works just as well.
Let’s Talk about “Mask Wearing”
Wearing a mask not only protects you but others. Even as vaccinations are underway, it is still recommended that we wear masks in public spaces until further notice.
Let’s Talk about “Social Distancing”
For many of us around the world, our governments are now encouraging us to work from home when possible, practice good hygiene and hand washing as well as practice safe social distancing. What does that mean?
What is social distancing?
According to this nifty article from the World Economic Forum, “Social distancing” is a tool public health officials recommend to slow the spread of a disease that is being passed from person to person. Simply put, it means that people stay far enough away from each other so that the coronavirus – or any pathogen – cannot spread from one person to another. Check out these two cool articles to get ideas on what you can and cannot do:
Don’t forget to scroll down and consult the sources listed in point 4 below!
The safety and well-being of both our local and global communities are our highest priority. Therefore, we want to provide some basic information but also links to sources for consultation so that you can care for yourselves and your families.
1. What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
The most frequent symptoms are fever, coughing and respiratory problems. These symptoms can vary in severity. Complications, for example pneumonia, are also possible.
2. How is coronavirus COVID-19 transmitted?
The nouvel coronavirus is transmitted primarily by close and prolonged contact; in other words closer than two meters for more than 15 minutes. The virus spreads by droplet infection: if one person sneezes or coughs, the virus can be transported directly to the mucous membranes in the nose, mouth or eyes of other people.
The virus can also survive outside the body for a few hours in tiny droplets on hands or on surfaces such as handles, doorknobs, lift buttons, etc. It is not yet known whether it is also possible to contract the virus by touching these surfaces or objects and then touching one’s own mouth, nose or eyes.
3. Who are persons thought to be particularly at risk and needing special protection?
Persons over the age of 65 and those with any of the following pre-existing conditions: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, diseases or treatments that weaken the immune system, high blood pressure.
4. Where can I find the latest updates on coronavirus or COVID-19?
Yes and no. No, in the sense that most of our activities take place online. However, our local Simply Souperlicious “Soup Talks” are postponed until further notice, pending further updates from local Swiss authorities. Please check the “News” section here on the Simply Souperlicious website for latest updates: https://simplysouperlicious.com/news
Additionally, as most of our “Taste Soups” take place locally during local Meetups in the cantons of Vaud and Geneva in Switzerland, no events will held and no soup will be served until further notice, pending updates from local Swiss authorities. Please check here: https://simplysouperlicious.com/taste-soups
We are closely monitoring the local situation here in Switzerland. We also remain concerned about you, our global fans, as well. We encourage you to consult your local authorities for further instruction. If you’re looking for ideas for staying hydrated, boosting immunity and eating healthy, well, our soup recipes are a great place to start!
In the meantime, please stay safe; follow official recommendations; eat well, stay hydrated by consuming water, juice, tea and soup; get sleep and move around — even if it’s just around your own home.
Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is a digital media and communication consultant, author, mother, contrarian, book, music and reformed veggie lover and Founder and Souper-in-Chief at Simply Souperlicious. Follow her veggie and food journey on social @simplysouperlicious.
One month from today, my oldest kid will graduate from college back in the United States. It’s both an exciting and bittersweet time. I’m excited that my new adult will embark on a new life. However, I’m also saddened by this event because my once “little person” is all grown up and probably will need me a whole lot less.
After devoting 18-plus years to caring for this “little person” what do you now do with all of this extra time? Well, in my case, you keep on raising the youngest child waiting in the wings and you make soup.
Life Lessons to Live By
Over the years and when the time came, always I’ve wondered what bits of advice I would proffer. It turns out that after talking to the said “kid” and college friends, what they really want to know are Life Hacks — how do you navigate your way through this thing called life? What do you do with that degree you’ve worked so hard to achieve? Do you continue on to graduate school? Do stop and travel? How do you balance your budget to allow for a night or two out per week while paying back your student loans? Finally, how do you really go after your dreams when you don’t know where to start and you’ve haven’t yet found the right mentor or role model to show you the way?
What’s my answer to do these pressing questions? Well, there really isn’t an absolute right or wrong answer, so all I can do is share what I’ve learned over the years. Each month, I’ll be tackling these questions and others in the Soup + Soul blog.
So today I thought I’d impart some gems of advice passed on to me by one of my college professors before I graduated. He said, “You know, it’s okay to feel ‘lost’ right now. If you’re between 20 and 25 and you DON’T feel lost, I’m concerned for you because this is a time of awesome discovery so don’t be afraid. Go out into the world and just do because this is where your real education begins.” He suggested that I read Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Life Hacks for the New College Graduate
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life — learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. 15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup — they all die. So do we (so get on with your life).
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned — the biggest word of all — LOOK.”
I’ve always been grateful to that professor for recommending this book because it reminds us that what we need to succeed in life has already been ingrained in us from the time we still took afternoon naps and ate graham crackers and juice for mid-day snacks.
Life Tips for College Graduates
But if college kids need a little more advice about how to succeed in this thing called a “career” — especially if entrepreneurial in spirit, add these last five points I was reminded of while doing my walk, this morning, around the mini-track at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne:
Visualize this finish line — there will be other races but this finish line is the only one that matters for now.
Stay in your own lane — crossing into others only causes confusion.
Run YOUR race as best you can — the only competition is YOU.
Respect and support your fellow competitors — they’re on a journey too!
Be kind to your body — it’s the only one you got so take time to cool down and relax.
Making soup isn’t all that different from building a lean startup business. In both cases you have to make, test and learn.
Take for example, our journey toward creating the perfect Cream of Artichoke Soup!
The first time I attempted to make artichoke soup, I bombed…big time. The failure was not so much about technique as it was about the lack of effort. I hadn’t always been a fan of artichoke and I didn’t really know what to do with it either.
However, every time I went to the grocery store or the market – especially in the fall of the year, I could never resist its bold and beautiful purple hue. So, I tried again.
I went online and consulted a few recipes, gathered all of my ingredients and set out to make my own delicious version of a soup. While it’s true I didn’t follow all of the directions completely –, I never do, it cooked up beautifully anyway.
‘Remind me to serve this to a man whom I do not love!’
All was good until I served it to my youngster who took two slurps and proclaimed: ‘Remind me to serve this to a man I do not love!’ Ouch! One has to love our quick-witted, snarky teens. So I asked her to continue with her critique. She said that the soup would taste terrific – if only the “grass” was removed.
So what was the “grass”?
She was referring to the stringiness of the artichoke. I had not chopped the artichoke petals finely enough before putting them into the kettle. Even after blending and adding cream, the soup’s consistency still wasn’t smooth enough, so I desperately needed to run the contents through a strainer.
I’m sure there are better ways of perfecting this technique and also better ways of avoiding this as a professional chef, but hey, I’m not one. I grabbed the strainer from the cupboard, along with two bowls and soup and poured the contents through the strainer, keeping only what was good. I repeated this two more times until I got the desired consistency and a smile from my daughter, indicating that all was good. My daughter now says she’d be happy to serve up this soup to a man whom she does love.
As for me, here are the common sense lessons learned:
Follow directions for recipes until you perfect it.
Be open to honest opinions because it’s the only way you’ll ever improve.
Invest in a good soup blender. Sometimes you need to really break down coarse ingredients
Use your strainer
Try again and do it until you get it right.
Pretty easy advice, huh? It’s funny how you can even apply the same advice to business. We’ve since made this soup dozens of times. We’ve finally gotten it right and the outcome is always the same…Simply Souperlicious.
So your soup wasn’t a unanimous household crowd pleaser, or you simply made too much soup to even freeze? Here are a couple of food life hacks to save the day and your pocketbook.
Happy March! It’s spring – well, almost! We kicked off the new month with a trip to the Farmers’ Market and now in our kitchen, it’s all about greens and root vegetables. So in celebration of our first soup for the month, we made parsnip soup – but with some mixed reviews.
The parsnip actually was a gift bowl from our neighbors who are away on winter holiday. While I had heard of this root veggie and had seen it in the grocery store, I had never eaten it until yesterday. However, this cream-colored root packs a pleasantly sweet flavor and for me, it was great. However, for our delightfully snarky teen girl? Well, let’s just say she was less than enthusiastic about the outcome.
‘So I waited until 3 o’clock to eat … THIS?’
Our weekend shopping excursion took us to both the Farmers’ Market but also shoe shopping. By the time we returned home, it was well past lunch time, and well, I just had to try the parsnip. We dished some of the soup into bowls and began eating. All it took was two slurps for her to say, “’So, I waited until 3 o’clock to eat … THIS?’” My first reaction was, ‘you should be thankful I’ve made anything.’
The “this” in “that”
After a negotiation of other meal options, I sent her on her way. But, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the parsnip. The “this” was the unexpected sweetness and how it impacted the soup recipe.
When cooked and sweated, apparently parsnip gets really sweet, more so than carrots. For many of our soup recipes, we normally sweat our vegetables before adding them to broth. However, when cooking parsnip, this process intensifies the sweetness. Therefore, be sure to add the parsnip separately from the other vegetables and add to the broth after all the other ingredients have cooked for at least 15 minutes.
‘Necessity is the mother of invention’
I ended up storing the soup in the fridge overnight. I hated to waste a perfectly good pot of soup, and surely there had to be other recipes that would accommodate. I found luck after a bit of research. By simply adding a few extra ingredients like flour, eggs and spices (savory or sweet) to the existing soup, I could have two pretty cool alternative recipes for pancakes and muffins. See? As the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’
Making Pancakes (Savory)
Store the parsnip soup overnight. Pour 1/4 of the container into a mixing bowl.
Add two cups of flour (any kind of your choice)
Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
Add 1 egg
Add 1/8 cup of milk or water
Add 1/8 teaspoon of white vinegar
Add 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil (optional)
Salt to taste and mix
Heat the pan and add vegetable oil. Pour a bit of the oil into the mixture and stir.
Reduce the heat of the pan and scoop in the mixture for pancakes. Cook on each side for about three to five minutes
When creamy parsnip soup that goes well?
Find these Parsnip soup recipes here!
The Final Verdict
And what says the teen girl? Well, she didn’t like the soup, but do you know what she DID like? The pancakes and the muffins! And, the teen girl is not a huge fan of pancakes, y’all. It just goes to show that you can make pancakes and muffins out of soup! Who knew?
As for me, here are the common sense lessons learned:
Taste the unfamiliar vegetable raw instead of cooked. If I had done this, I would have already determined that the parsnip would be sweet.
Don’t sweat root vegetables – particularly carrots and parsnip if you don’t want intense sweetness in your recipe. Once this does happen, you can tone down the sweetness by adding spices like cumin, nutmeg or lemon juice.
Deviate from the recipe to reduce sweetness. Instead of adding 4 parsnip to the recipe, reduce the number of parsnip by half.
Be open to alternative ideas for recipes. If the soup didn’t come out the way you expected, check to see if there is an alternative recipe that will suit. After all, no one has money to waste.
Pretty easy advice, huh? We’re off to enjoy our muffins as snacks. While the recipes were not Simply Souperlicious, their alternatives came out just “souper” nonetheless and that’s a pretty cool hack.
Veggies are yucky!
That’s what my two children used to say when they were younger and whenever I would present them with any type of vegetables during meals. I couldn’t blame them too much because I’ve always been a very picky eater as well. In effect, I too, had convinced myself that I wasn’t a very big fan of vegetables.
As busy mom working long hours in digital; coming home at inconvenient times, almost certainly ensured that I would prepare my children some sort of frozen, prepackaged dish or offer some fast food options. That changed back in the fall 2016. I’d just dropped off my oldest kid at college (she survived childhood) back in the US. For the first time, I took a long, hard look at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t too happy with what I saw. This isn’t fat shaming. I was completely happy with not being the same weight (my slimmer, svelt self) prior to getting married and birthing tiny people. What disappointed me was the fact that I always felt so…irritated and TIRED.
A routine doctor visit revealed that I was borderline hypertensive and diabetic. Although I had time to reverse the symptoms, I needed a dramatic lifestyle change. As my doctor said, ‘you’ve got to get rid of whatever is causing you so much stress.’ So I switched jobs and got divorced.
While I started to feel better and lose some weight initially, I couldn’t maintain the new lifestyle. So in the summer of 2018, I focused on moving my body, and move I did! I started by taking 2,500 steps a day, then increased my steps to 5,000, and then 10,000 steps. In addition to walking those 10,000 steps per day with my youngest kid (who BTW loves hiking in one of Switzerland’s hilliest cities), I also changed my diet significantly. I needed to eat better by adding a wider variety of vegetables to my diet. I discovered that the easiest way to eat better was by making soups. The result? I lost over 40 lbs in six months (from 206 lbs to 162 lbs) and my newly-awakened taste buds thanked me!
Because soups can be:
Consumed during any meal, year round, using an endless variety of vegetables and fruits.
Both simple and sophisticated depending on tastes and textures.
Cheap, fast, healthy and easy to prepare, requiring no special skills
Stored easily in the freezer for future meals
Why Souperlicious ?
Simply Souperlicious is one family’s journey from discovery to converting local, seasonal veggies to healthy, fast and tasty soups!” We believe that you can re-learn to love veggies and soups provide a great re-introduction to foods that you didn’t even know that you could love. Anyone can make a great soup, and there’s always room to become a better soup maker. And, working within limitations such as a seasonal availability as well as discovering new fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, flavors, texture and techniques is what keeps soup creation interesting.
Soup is Soul Food
Finally, soup really is good for the soul. So if you’re looking for a few life hacks to accompany your recipes, I’m here as a mom/fellow mom (not a chef) to provide you with unfiltered, unsolicited “mom” advice that you know you’ve always wanted to hear but refuse to admit aloud.
There are shortcuts to eating better, and committing to eating better gets easier in steps, thanks to soups.
Knowing that there other families of finicky eaters out there who are also willing to take those steps with us makes both the challenge and journey worthwhile.
Finally, even though our promise to you is to focus on local and seasonal vegetable options, that doesn’t mean a) we don’t want to sample other soups worldwide; or b) try your recipe suggestions. Your opinions and feedback count, so please don’t be shy about sharing. We’re all family here.
So go and “nourish yourself” like your mom would want you to.