By: Jennifer Amato, RD
As Thanksgiving approaches we might feel ourselves getting swept into a frenzy of elaborate meal planning, too-many-to count trips to the grocery store in search of the perfect ingredients, prep-work, dovetailing, and anxiety over our finished products as we carefully pull them out of the oven. The list of stress-inducing tasks could go on forever. Even if you are not hosting Thanksgiving or preparing any dishes for the occasion, the journey to be with family on the busiest travel day of the year, the onslaught of super-rich food, and really all the excess can be too much to handle.
In such chaotic times, stopping to catch your breath and reflecting on the true meaning of Thanksgiving can do wonders. Isn’t Thanksgiving about acknowledging all the things in our life for which we are thankful and spending time with our loved ones? The simple things in life such as the comfort and the support we feel from our family is a gift. The simple things in life are the best things.
When I think of simplicity, I often think of my grandmother’s broccoli soup. My grandmother is of Sicilian descent, feisty and healthy as ever, and celebrated her 94th birthday this past summer. She prepared this soup for me, my siblings, and my cousins when we were children. Now I serve it to my family and we all marvel in how simple yet flavorful and nourishing it is. I don’t think she realizes how much of a gift her soup is to me.
Here is how I was taught to prepare it:
Empty a box or bag of frozen broccoli spears into a pot and cover with water. Add some olive oil (about a tablespoon), and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes until the broccoli is tender. That is it! My grandmother would pour the soup over a small serving of cooked pasta, but more nutrient-dense options could be cooked quinoa or brown rice – just as yummy!
I can remember my grandmother insisting I drink the broth. “That is the best part! Don’t let it go to waste!” She was right. While the broccoli will provide you with fiber, the broth is nutrient-rich with vitamin C and several B vitamins that are leached from the broccoli during the boiling process. Not that I needed much convincing to drink the broth…I found it to be delectable and soothing.
So during times when we feel as though we need to slow down and take a deep breath, let’s return to the simple things in life…perhaps a recipe passed down from family such as my grandmother’s broccoli soup. Flavorful, nutritious, and delightfully simple. That is the beauty!
About Jennifer: Jennifer was born and raised in New Orleans, but she’s been a NYC resident since 2000. She is a registered dietitian and worked as an RD at the VA in New Orleans as a renal dietitian. After moving to NYC, she worked at the Brooklyn VA where her focus was oncology. She is currently a stay-at-home mother and training for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon (which she hopes to have successfully run by the time this goes live!).