This morning Evelyn had pancakes for breakfast… and lunch was going to be macaroni and cheese. While eating breakfast she asked what she was going to have for dinner and I told her that it had to be vegetables and protein since she was eating starch for the two other meals. After thinking for a minute she asked me to make vegetable soup for dinner. She requested that I add chicken to it for the protein and, since she’s 6 and can’t help herself, she did ask to have pasta in it.
In my house this is how we teach healthy eating habits: moderation in all things. I refuse to vilify any particular food group (except refined sugar). You won’t hear me bashing carbs like many who want to lose a few pounds. But I try to teach my kids that repetition of any one thing too much isn’t going to bring good nutrition with it. Spinach is great (it’s a superfood after all) but if it’s all you eat that’s going to get pretty boring. So, starch-starch leads to vegetable-protein.
But of course as that good old expression goes; moderation in all things, including moderation. My thought is that if the 6 year old requests vegetable soup and asks for a little pasta to be thrown in then it’s perfectly ok to include a little pasta in the soup. If it gets her (and it does) to scarf down a bowl full of spinach and onion.
If you want to make this soup vegetarian just omit the chicken and use vegetable stock. If you want to make it vegan omit those things and then just skip sprinkling Parmesan on top.
UPDATE 9/12/11: I’ve been experimenting with reducing the amount of fat in some of my recipes. The recipe as I originally posted it called for 2 tbsp of olive oil. I’ve recently realized that a little goes a long way when sauteing onions. I’m now reducing the olive oil to 1 tbsp and it makes no noticeable change in the flavor of the finished soup. However, it does reduce the calories per serving from 185 to 165 and reduces the fat grams per serving from 6.8 to 4.5. It may not seem like much but over the course of a day, this can add up. It also keeps the fat at lower than 30% of the total calorie intake for the item, which is a better ratio for weight loss or weight maintenance.