Classic Minestrone

A bowl of traditional italian minestrone soup with ingredientsDo you yearn for comfort food, but despise spending hours in the kitchen? Have we got a recipe for you! Adapted from a Prevention magazine recipe, this no-hassle minestrone is on the table in less than 30 minutes. What’s more, this tasty traditional Italian soup is full of fiber, veggies and protein-rich beans.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped, 1 cup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 sweet potato, 8 ounces, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 zucchini, 8 ounces, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 yellow squash, 8 ounces, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, 8 ounces, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 5 cups lower-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach
  • 1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potato and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the zucchini, yellow squash, and fennel and cook until just starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 25 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, 5 minutes.
  6. Add the beans and pepper; cook until hot, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

YIELD: 8 servings
NUTRITION FACTS: (per serving) 176.6 cal, 4.7 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 502 mg sodium, 26.7 g carbs, 6 g total sugars, 9 g fiber, 8 g protein

Key Ingredient Benefits:

Basil: Revered in many traditions around the world, basil benefits cardiovascular health and offers DNA protection and anti-bacterial properties. Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. In addition, basil is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.

Beans: Beans are an ultra-healthy, versatile and affordable food. Kidney beans, like other beans, are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, and helps with weight management. Beans are hearty, helping you feel full so you will tend to eat less.

Chicken Broth: Chicken broth has been used for treating common colds for centuries. The heat, fluid, and salt may help in the removal of pathogens. Also, the broth may contain important minerals in a form the body can absorb easily – calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. The gelatin present in the broth contains amino acids to support health.

Garlic: Vampire jokes aside, garlic can protect us in many ways. It contains sulfur compounds that may protect cells from cancer, relax blood vessels and improve cardiovascular health. Research suggests garlic may help boost our cellular antioxidant production. There is some evidence supporting numerous health benefits from a diet rich in garlic.

Olive Oil: This type of oil contains numerous antioxidant polyphenols in addition to monounsaturated oleic acid. Both help support fat metabolism and cardiovascular health. Studies suggest a healthy combo of olive oil and fish oil (omega 3s) can work together in maintaining a pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory balance.

Onions: These common cooking staples contain a number of flavonoids, one being quercetin (found in Juvenon’s Youthful Energy). This nutrient has been demonstrated in studies to protect the liver, cool the fire of inflammation and has anti-cancer properties. Quercetin may help in weight control by reducing fat synthesis and increasing fat burning.

Parmesan: Parmesan is a good source of calcium. One ounce of grated or shredded Parmesan cheese has about the same amount of calcium as a glass of whole milk. Also, since Parmesan cheese is so flavorful and satisfying, you can substitute a few sprinkles of Parmesan for cheddar or mozzarella.

Spinach: A super leafy green, spinach is among the world’s healthiest vegetables. Rich in vitamins (good source of vitamin K), and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection.

Squash & Zucchini: Summer squash is 95 percent water, making it naturally low in calories and a good choice if you are trying to lose weight. A medium zucchini, for example, contains just 33 calories. It supplies a gram of protein and less than a gram of fat. The same size zucchini contains 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of which are dietary fiber. That makes zucchini a low-glycemic food that will not spike your blood sugar, but will instead provide a steady source of glucose to your system.

Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes may be one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene. Several recent studies have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. In several studies, sweet potatoes were found to contain between 100-1,600 micrograms (RAE) of vitamin A in every 3.5 ounces— enough, on average, to meet 35% of all vitamin A needs, and in many cases enough to meet over 90% of vitamin A needs.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a good source of the flavonoid antioxidant, lycopene. Studies have shown that lycopene may offer protection from skin damage and skin cancer. Another flavonoid abundant in tomatoes is Zeaxanthin, which helps prevent age related macular disease. This fruit, which is often thought of as a vegetable, is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.