Food and Culinary

55Soups are a great appetizer. Different types offer a variety of flavors and textures. More importantly, a bowl of healthy soup with legumes, vegetables and other fiber-rich ingredients nourish the body with essential nutrients. It has also been found that soup consumption helps maintain a healthy weight - according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, soup eaters have better overall eating habits and tend to weigh less compared to those who are not.

So on your next barbecue night, pair your steak with any of these 3 easy healthy soup recipes:

Thick and Creamy Potato Soup

What you need:

  • 6 cups mashed cooked potatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot over low heat, melt the butter then sauté the onions until tender. Add the mashed potatoes then slowly stir in the chicken broth. While stirring, carefully add the milk. Cook until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Classic Chicken Tortilla Soup

What you need:

  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, sliced into cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 1 cup corn tortilla chips
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large pot, heat olive oil and cook the chicken over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin, then slowly add chicken broth, corn kernels, onion, salsa, chili powder and lemon juice. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 25-30 minutes. When ready, break tortilla chips into separate serving bowls then pour soup over it. Top with cheese before serving.

Green Squash Soup

What you need:

  • 2 chayote squashes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon, crumbled
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Dissolve the chicken bouillon in hot water then set aside. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat then cook the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes until tender. Add the squash, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Stir for 5 minutes then add dissolved chicken bouillon and remaining chopped cilantro. Cover and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. When ready, pour the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Divide soup into serving bowls then garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

54What's a better way to add flavor to your drink thank all-natural ingredients like fresh herbs and spices? This is especially helpful if you have started eating healthy. Whether you're aiming for weight loss, a more efficient metabolism or more energy, trust that healthy herbs and spices can help you achieve your goals faster!

Here are 5 refreshing herbs and spices drink recipes you can try at home:

1. Relaxation Potion

What you need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lavender leaves

Combine the water, mint leaves and lavender leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes more. When ready, drain the tea using a strainer. Serve immediately if you want hot tea or allow to cool then serve over ice if you prefer iced tea.

2. Basil-ade

What you need:

  • 12 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Ice cubes

Mix together water, lemon juice, lime juice and white sugar in a pitcher. Stir in fresh basil leaves. Stir to blend ingredients well, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to overnight. Strain the lemonade and discard basil leaves. Serve over ice.

3. Minty Peachy Cooler

What you need:

  • 12 cups water
  • 4 peaches, pitted and halved
  • 2 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Ice cubes

Combine water, peaches, mint leaves, cucumbers and salt in a pitcher and stir gently to combine ingredients well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to overnight. Serve chilled.

4. Yummy Coffee Spice

What you need:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons ground coffee beans
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • 3-inch piece cinnamon stick

Using a coffee filter set, mix together the ground coffee beans, red pepper, cloves and cinnamon into a drip coffee brewer. Pour water into the brewer's reservoir for water then set to brew. In a medium saucepan, warm the coconut milk over medium-low heat. Add the honey then gently stir until dissolved. Stir in the coffee mixture and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

5. The Milky Dream

What you need:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 drops vanilla extract

Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until it begins to foam. Add honey and vanilla then stir gently to combine ingredients well. Remove from heat, pour onto a mug then sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve immediately.

SONY DSC

Chili pepper is one of the most popular spices out there. It is also one of the healthiest - it contains up to 7 times more Vitamin C than orange! This spice is also a good source of Vitamins A and E and is known for numerous health benefits such as relieving muscle and joint pains as well as improving digestion.

So if you're in for an appetizing dinner, here are some delicious chili dinner recipes you must try:

Chili and Chicken Stew

What you need:

  • 2 cups cooked ad cubed chicken meat
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups cream of chicken soup
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté until tender about 5 minutes. Stir in cooked chicken, chicken broth, soup and chili powder. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Throw in mixed vegetables and tomatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When vegetables are cooked through, remove from heat. Serve warm.

Chili Orange Beef Stir-Fry

What you need:

  • 1/2 kg. round beef steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup orange peel, sliced into slivers
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsps. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Mix together beef broth, orange marmalade, soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Stir until all ingredients are well-blended. Set aside. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add beef strips and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, orange peel and ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Pour red pepper mixture over the beef and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

The Ultimate Chili Casserole

What you need:

  • 3/4 kg. ground beef
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 red chili peppers, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups chili beans
  • 1 3/4 cups corn kernels
  • 1 3/4 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup egg noodles, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup taco sauce
  • 2 tbsps. olive oil

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onions and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until beef is browned and onions are tender. Drain fat then stir in celery, chili peppers, chili beans, corn, tomatoes and taco sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Place cooked egg noodles in a large baking dish. Pour the beef mixture over the noodles and toss to coat. Top with cheese before baking in a pre-heated oven (175 degrees Celsius) until cheese is melted completely, about 20 minutes.

57Fish is just as fulfilling as meat but less the calories. Their meat is extremely versatile as well - they will taste good whether you season them simply with salt and pepper or go all out with a flavorful marinade. One of the most popular fish for grilling is salmon mainly because its meat is firm and hearty. It also has a strong, distinct flavor that is made even better from the smokiness of the grill.

Here are some grilled salmon recipes that you should try cooking for your next barbecue:

Smoky Salmon and Dill

What you need:

  • 1/4 kg. salmon fillet with skin
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. chopped dill
  • 2 tsps. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 pinches brown sugar

Combine mayonnaise, dill, mustard and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Brush salmon fillets with vegetable oil then cook skin-side down on a pre-heated grill over medium heat for 3 minutes per side. Spread the mayonnaise mixture on top of the fillets and cook for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through or when meat is easily flaked with a fork.

Grilled Salmon Linguine

What you need:

  • 3 salmon fillets
  • 1 cup linguine
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • 6 tbsps milk
  • 2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps. butter
  • 1 tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brush salmon fillets with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then cook on a pre-heated grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Allow to rest for a few minutes before flaking with a fork into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in onions and yellow bell peppers, cook for about 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add in cream cheese, milk and salmon flakes. Stir occasionally and cook for about 3 minutes. Set aside. Cook linguine as directed in the packaging. Transfer in a serving bowl when ready then pour salmon sauce over it. Toss to coat pasta. Serve warm topped with lemon slices and dill.

Orange Glazed Grill Salmon

What you need:

  • 1/2 kg. boneless and skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pcs.
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsps. white vinegar
  • 2 tsps. soy sauce
  • 2 tsps. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger root

In a medium bowl, mix together marmalade, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, oil and ginger. Set aside. Brush salmon with oil and cook on a pre-heated grill over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side. Brush salmon pieces with marmalade mixture then cook for another 2 minutes per side until fish is cooked through.

52Healthy Meal of the Week: Slow Cooked Chicken, Brown Rice & Corn Cob
Healthy Leftover Idea: Chicken Sandwiches

Here's an easy-to-prepare meal using your wonderful slow cooker that may likely be sitting sadly in the corner of your kitchen waiting patiently to be called upon. When planned accordingly, this meal can be all ready to eat when you return home especially if the rice and corn variety you purchase is the microwave type variety. Not to worry if you don't have those or want to spend the extra money on them since the rice and corn will only take about 20 minutes to prepare.

For the leftover meal, you'll have a great handheld treat weighing in only around 250 calories each if prepared as described below.

Equipment Needed
- slow cooker (Crock Pot)
- pan with lid for rice (or rice cooker)
- large pot for corn

Prep Time
- 5 minutes

Cooking Time
- 4-8 hours depending on temperature setting

Ingredients
(4-6 servings)
- 1 prepackaged whole chicken
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 16 ounces chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
- 3-4 whole corn on the cob
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- optional: butter/margarine for corn & rice
- optional: 3 bay leaves for rice

For Chicken Sandwiches
- 100 calorie multi grain sandwich slenders
- shredded cheese
- chili paste/salsa

Directions

*Decide if you want to cook the chicken on either the low setting for 6-8 hours or high setting for 4-5 hours.

1. Open the chicken package and rinse well with cold water in your kitchen sink. Place the whole chicken inside your clean slow cooker.

2. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons seasoned salt to 16 oz. chicken broth and stir/mix well. Add solution to the slow cooker and turn on to the desired setting. Remember to set a timer or the alarm on your phone for 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours if slow cooker is on high.

3. When there is approximately 1 hour left on the timer, add the 1/4 cup honey on top of the chicken. Recover and let finish cooking.

4. About now you can start cooking the rice and corn. For the corn, fill a large pot about 1/2 way with hot water and bring to a boil on the stove. While that's happening peel the corn husks off each piece you plan to cook. Rinse the corn pieces under the sink to get rid of any straggling husk pieces. For this meal example, the corn pieces were snapped in half to make leftover travel portions easy to fit in the plastic containers, but this choice is entirely up to you. When water is boiling place pieces in the water and set a timer for 20 minutes.

5. If you want to prepare the brown rice the same way as this meal, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to your rice pan and turn on to low/medium temperature. Add 1 cup of brown rice and stir frequently for 3 minutes. Add one cup of chicken broth along with 3 bay leaves. Stir and allow to cook/soak in for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup of hot water, increase temperature until rice mixture comes to a boil stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover pan with lid and set timer for 18 minutes. That's all there's to it!

6. Once chicken is finished cooking, turn off slow cooker and using two forks, you should be able to easily tear off pieces from the whole chicken, at least enough for the servings you'll need for now. You can get the rest later when you are putting leftovers into containers or making the leftover sandwiches as listed below. You can also try to carefully pull the entire chicken out, but it may be easier to wait until liquid is a bit cooler to do this. The choice is entirely up to you.

7. Serve an appropriate portion size with an optional bit of butter on the corn, and a spoonful of the slow cooker liquid on the rice/chicken and enjoy!

Healthy Leftover Idea: Chicken Sandwiches

The best thing about these leftover sandwiches is that if you use the right type of bread/wrap, there's no reason why these sandwiches can't be made to be easily under 300 calories each. Combine that with a piece of fruit and a nice large glass of water and you have a nutritious lunch that will be right around 400 calories total. Isn't that far better than the 1,300+ calorie meal you'll find at any fast food spot?

Hopefully your local supermarket has a nice selection of bread/wraps and look for these multigrain 100 calorie sandwich slenders or something else that's similar in calorie count. Open up the pre-sliced bun and layer the bottom slice with 2 tablespoons of cooked brown rice. In order to spice up this sandwich a bit, some ground fresh chili paste was added, but literally any of your favorite can be used. Carefully dice up some chicken into fine pieces and add a couple of tablespoons on top of the rice/chili paste side. Finally add a bit of shredded cheese then the top piece of the bun and you have quickly yet effectively created a delicious travel sandwich that you will find quite enjoyable for lunch the following day. Just be sure to wrap it up securely in a piece of foil so all the fixings don't fall out.