Evidence is mounting on the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet – a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats. Low-fat dairy foods, lean red meats, fish, skinless poultry and eggs are also included in the diet, if desired, but in moderate amounts. This way of eating can lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes and may help prevent certain cancers as well. A recent study in Greece followed 2,500 adults for 10 years. They found that those individuals ranked in the top third as being most adherent to a Mediterranean diet had a 47% decrease in risk for developing heart disease compared to individuals that did not follow the diet (ranked in the bottom third).
Following this diet may be a complete lifestyle change for you, but small goals can help get you there. One way to increase your vegetable consumption is to start your lunch or dinner meal with a salad or vegetable soup. This pasta fagioli soup, or pasta and beans soup, with it’s savory tomato-based broth, is full of vegetables and flavor. It’s also a wonderful light meal with some carrot sticks and hummus, even though my teenage son has declared that soup is not a meal. However you enjoy this comforting soup, you’ll know it’s good for your heart.
Did you try this recipe? Do you have a favorite soup you enjoy? Please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom to leave a comment.
Alphabet Soup with Vegetables and Beans
1 sweet or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green squash, halved, seeds scooped out with a spoon, halved again and chopped
2 yellow squash, halved, seeds scooped out with a spoon, halved again and chopped
3 carrots, sliced in half and chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced in half and chopped
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz.) cannelloni (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
32 oz. vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 ½ cup alphabet pasta*
¼ tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Dried parsley
½ tsp. Dried oregano
1 tsp. Basil
1 Bay leaf
Warm olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 8 minutes.
Add green and yellow squash, salt and pepper and dried herbs (except bay leaf) and sauté another 5 – 8 minutes.
Add spinach and sauté another minute until wilted.
Add beans, tomatoes, stock, water and bay leaf and increase heat to medium-high until simmering.
Once simmering, add pasta and reduce heat to medium once pasta begins to simmer. Let simmer 10 minutes until pasta is cooked through. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 more minutes. Add more water if desired. Remove bay leaf before serving.
*For chunky pasta, like elbows, cook pasta separately and add to the soup during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Recipe compliments of http://www.nourishednation.wordpress.com