September is finally here! I get excited with the cooler weather, trees changing colors, and pulling out my soup recipes to warm up with. My family and I look forward to visiting apple orchards, drinking hot cider and indulging in everything pumpkin spice and maple syrup. One of our favorite autumn soups is my Butternut Squash Soup. As soon as, the first touch of cool temperature sets in, we look forward to this easy-to-make, highly nutritious, and hearty meal. Low in fat, it delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems.
Follow my recipe and enjoy bowls of it with your family. It’s such a requested soup among my friends that I’ve been asked to add it to my collection of recipes in my soon-to-be-released cookbook, “Just Eat”.
Butternut Squash Soup: Makes about 12 servings
1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (or 1 container of prepared butternut squash from the supermarket)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, red and yellow peppers and chopped celery. Stir and cook for 3 minutes, then add garlic, lower heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, about 8 minutes; lower heat as necessary to prevent burning.
Add squash and carrot to the pot and mix well. Add stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, or with an immersion blender, until completely smooth. Pour soup back into the pot and return to the stove on medium heat. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and simmer for 5 minutes. Thin, if necessary, with additional stock until desired consistency is reached.
Serve soup into warmed bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Fall Fabulous & Fresh
Fall is one of my favorite seasons (along with winter). I recently celebrated my birthday — and, of course, with each birthday, I reflect on many things. I also make sure I pay attention to my sense of fashion because I feel that age is no longer a barrier when it comes to dressing with panache and style.
As you may know, I LOVE fashion. I like to think I got it from my Mom. She was quite the fashionista in her young days and I’m proud to see that she still upkeep her image. I realized that so many stigmas are noted for women as they get older and I wonder why? Why can’t we just enjoy dressing and being happy? Getting older shouldn’t mean we have to stop dressing nicely and enjoying the latest styles and trends, just as long as they are well suited, of course. For example, I don’t think ripped jeans are my style at 53!
Here are a few things that I’ve done as my fall refresher, and it’s quite fitting because it ties into celebrating my birthday.
I got a hair trim and refreshed my highlights. In the past, I’ve tried wearing short hair but I feel it doesn’t suit me (although I’ve received compliments and comments that I wear it well). But it still didn’t feel right for ME. So I wear my hair long, because that is what I enjoy.
I’ve visited my favorite boutiques and catalogs and picked out seasonal styles for work and outings. Adding a new scarf is a part of my sprucing up my closet. You don’t have to always buy many new clothing, but adding the latest accessories will brighten your outfit.
I bought new ballerina shoes in shades of brown and taupe as they are beautiful hues for fall. Navy blue and grey are nice colors, too.
I don’t care for some styles; here are a few of my “no-no’s”
Don’t wear match-matchy jewelry.
Don’t wear “boxy” clothing.
Don’t wear workout clothes as an outfit – except to work out!
Though simple, these things are important to me and self-care is the best you can do for yourself. I hope I’ve encouraged you to take some time for self care and enjoy shopping for a new scarf or cardigan as you get ready to enjoy the cooler temperature. I know I am! Just embrace the new, fresher, younger looking you and dress the part. You ARE fabulous after all!
A New Chapter
Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer and most students are back in school or heading off to college. For some parents this can be bittersweet, which can make them feel nostalgic and overwhelmed at the same time. I remember going through that when my son went off to college and my daughter was finishing high school. It all felt surreal and I had a deep drop in my heart as I realized they are no longer little children. A lot of the things we did together had changed and I started to get sad by overthinking a lot of things. Fortunately, I learned how to take those melancholy thoughts and turn them into happy memories. I comforted myself that they have become the people I hoped they would, which meant I could focus on watching them continue to grow.
Here’s what I found helpful and beneficial — I started my own business. This lead to meeting new people, and I have been kept successfully busy since then. I have enjoyed watching my children’s growth; all the emptiness that I thought would have existed did not get a chance to happen. It was always great when our family did get together and we continue to do so whenever the opportunity arise and make memories.
Just because your children have grown up and are ready for another level of class or off to colleges, it doesn’t mean your life should become empty. Get involved in something that serves your purpose and make new friends. This is another chapter of our lives to be lived well and enjoyed!