Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pressure Cooked Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotles, Tomatoes and Hominy

Wednesday was another one of those typical winter days here. The temperatures were reasonably tepid with highs in the 40’s. My only complaint is the brown landscape and barren trees.

Dan had his usual green smoothie for breakfast of: kale, frozen bananas, cinnamon, powdered ginger, walnuts, ground flaxseeds and a little stevia with water sufficient to process.

Once Dan was out the door to work I knocked out my exercise and made myself something to eat. Breakfast for me was a salad with leftover quinoa, lima beans, sweet and sour and cabbage and topped with almonds.

For an afternoon snack I had an orange and Brazil nuts. I wasn’t very hungry so I skipped lunch.

Dan ended up coming home earlier than I had expected which meant dinner wasn’t ready. Since my pressure cooker was still on the stove I decided to use that to make dinner. Soup is always fast in the pressure cooker which is why I decided to make that for dinner. Here is what I did:

Pressure Cooked Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotles, Tomatoes and Hominy
Serves 4


1 red onion, peeled and diced
1 head garlic, smashed and peeled
1 butternut squash, well scrubbed, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
3 chipotles in adobo, or to taste (this will result in a very spicy soup start with 1 if you don’t like heat)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups water
16 ounces canned tomatoes or 15 ounce can diced tomatoes no or low salt
15 ounce can hominy
freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine squash, chipotles, cumin and water and close the pressure cooker. Turn the heat to high until the cooker is under pressure then reduce the heat as low as you can while still remaining pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to reduce naturally and then remove the lid. Taste a piece of the squash to confirm the skin has softened (which is should have). Either use your regular blender or immersion blender to process the soup until smooth.

Now add the remaining ingredients and heat for a few minutes and serve. This would be good with a dollop of cashew crème but I didn’t have any in the refrigerator.  I used baked squash seeds for texture

Nutritional information (for 1/4 of the recipe doens't include the seed garnish):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 151.51
Calories From Fat (7%) - 10.54

Total Fat - 1.26g
Saturated Fat - 0.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 171.5mg
Potassium - 765.64mg
Total Carbohydrates - 33.86g
Fiber - 6.16g
Sugar - 7.02g
Protein - 4.36g


This soup was flavorful but about as hot as I would like. If you aren’t a fan of heat start with one pepper you can always add more once you have processed the soup. I add the tomatoes and hominy after cooking because I wanted the texture in the soup. If you like Mexican seasonings I think you will enjoy this soup.

After the soup we had a simple salad for mesclun, a diced mango and a few sliced almonds. The fresh mango helped to cool the fire from the chipotles. The mangos were so juicy I decided we didn’t need any dressing on the salad.

Like usual Dan had strawberry banana soft serve for dessert and I had a few spoons from what remained in the blender. Can you tell Dan is in a dessert rut? LOL

Living to Eat versus Eating to Live:

Until the last few years of my life I thought of food as something that you did for nothing but pleasure. Sadly the healthfulness of food was not the priority as it is now. I mention this so that you know that I have not always been as health conscious as I am now. Cancer was what prompted us to eat a more healthful diet. This change came because I poured myself into research about cancer, health and nutrition. It didn’t take long to realize that our diet needed to change and in a big way.

While it seems in the media that nutrition scientists have very different opinions I would actually disagree with that. I think scientists mostly agree with the disagreement coming in quantity more than anything else. Everything that I have been reading points to eating a whole food diet. It seems that no matter what you read they are saying consume more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans. Some scientists add moderate amounts of meat and low fat dairy but I think that is more out of convention than actual science. The one thing you never see is anyone telling you to eat processed foods, cookies, cakes or other sugary desserts.

The reason the emphasis is on vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans is for the nutrients. In the past I never stopped to think that food provided the nutrients that become the building blocks and energy for your body’s functions and structure. Once I realized that eating a nutrient deficient diet will eventually result in health consequences I saw the light, so to speak.

The Chinese have a health concept known as terrain that makes sense to me. My understanding of this concept is that chronic diseases (like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes) are the result of bad terrain. This concept of terrain basically says that if you aren’t feeding yourself a healthy diet and leading an unhealthy life things will break down. The Chinese believe that in order to correct chronic problems you need to change your terrain, which means change your lifestyle (food, exercise, stress, etc.). While this doesn’t agree with western medicine it makes a lot of sense to me. I will point out it does agree with nutritional science. I keep this concept of terrain in mind as often as possible. When we eat at meal I like knowing that we are doing something healthful and providing our bodies with the nutrition it needs to work as efficiently as possible.

I have gotten a few emails asking what food principles I follow. My diet is a combination of a number of theories but is a little “Eat to Live”, a little “The China Study” with the remainder being things I have read. I will try to summarize all of that for you tomorrow so you know what I am thinking when I create meals and recipes.

Happy Thoughts:

Wednesday was another good one for me. Here are my happy thoughts:

• I love it when I have a productive day and that is a good description of my day. Crossing items off my far too long to-do list always feels good.

• It is driving me crazy to rest my knee but so far I am still showing good sense. I am very happy that my knee is “almost” back to normal. Who knows maybe I am growing up. Nah! LOL

• This is going to sound like a weird thing to be thankful for but I love my electric blanket. About a month ago we broke down and bought an electric blanket. We turn it on 30 minutes before we get into bed to warm it up before we go to bed and works brilliantly. It would be too hot to sleep with it on but I love using it warm the sheets. Dan loves that I am not whining how cold it is when I get into bed which means we are both happy. ;-)

• I really enjoyed my salad for breakfast with the sweet and sour cabbage. I think that cabbage may be one of my favorite things I made up in months. I can’t wait to come up with more uses for that flavor combination. I love it when an experiment works out so well. :-)

• Another thing I am thankful for are the wonderful people I have met through blogging. I need to include a list of some of my favorite bloggers in a post soon. I have gotten an incredible amount of emotional support from many of you. I want you to know how much I appreciate your emails, direct messages, texts and phone calls. The vegan community has a large number of wonderful people that regularly brighten my day.

Signing out:

Thursday has been a good day. I spent a few hours reading a nutrition textbook for fun and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is such a shame that I couldn’t figure out what I was passionate about two or three decades ago. Oh well, at least I know now right? Like I said yesterday you are never too old to learn or change.

I hope you are having a great week. I will chat with you again tomorrow. Thursday I made a tomato sauce with lentils and porcinis that turned out well which I need to share with you next. Talk to you again tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your evening.


  1. oh high 40s isnt too bad! but the barren landscape can be depressing.

    3 chipotles in adobo..?

    "Some scientists add moderate amounts of meat and low fat dairy but I think that is more out of convention than actual science"

    i agree.they just kind of throw that in to not cause a stir:)

  2. I am glad to see you lived through the 2nd pressure
    I love the sound of the soup, I am a late bloomer when hominy is involved, but I love it now! I might just have to make this tomorrow. I am happy that you had a nice day!

  3. I love my electric blanket too. We keep our house fairly cool, so I do keep it on low. Heck, I even broke down and bought an electric throw for when I'm istting on the sofa! The terrier and I love it. :-)

    Have a good day!

  4. Michelle,

    You are right about the bare trees and brown/grey everything being depressing. It is just very bleh looking outside.

    I used 3 chipotles from a can of chipotes in adodo and yes it was spicy. I was in the mood for heat, LOL.

    Not everyone is like us in the terms of being able to give up meat and dairy. Food is as tough to change as religion or political affiliation for most folks.

    Have a wonderful Friday!

  5. Brandi,

    I have used the pressure cooker before but just haven't gotten it out in the last 6 months or so. Once it gets put away I don't think about it. ;-) I think you would love how quickly it cooks which is the best part in my opinion.

    I haven't used hominy all my life either but I do like it in Mexican flavored dishes.


  6. Neca,

    An electric throw? I have not seen those. I am sure my little felines would love that as much as your terrier. Dan shakes his head at me but I turn the bed on when we get up so Massimo can sleep there during the day. No spoiled cats at my house. ;-)

    Have a wonderful Friday,

  7. I love adding the toasted seeds to my squash soups. I love the added texture - obviously I'm a texture girl ;-) Glad your knee is improving. I know all about being driven batty trying to recover from an injury. Happy Friday Alicia!!

  8. Did I mention that I finally found chipotles in adobo, at Walmart of all places? (and I wasn't even looking for them) They're sure a great way to add spice/flavor to a dish! Your soup looks delicious.

    We used to use a full heated mattress pad, but switched to an electric footwarmer pad that we turn on before bed. Actually it's entirely on my side now, since my hubby is using an extra blanket instead. Last night I got cold and turned it back sure felt great!

    It seems that the most disagreement about food is linked to fats. For example the Mediterranean diet is still in the news a lot, with its emphasis on olive oil, fish, nuts/seeds, etc. I wish I knew the optimal amount of "good fats" to ingest that would maintain a decent lipid profile and nice skin/hair--yet not clog my arteries! There are also quite a few scientists that promote coconut oil and even butter and cheese. One book I'm reading (Perfect Weight, which I got free at EarthFare last year) says "...eating saturated fats is not the culprit...on the contrary, the patients I have followed, who have increased their consumption of saturated fats (as well as all other good fats) have improved their cholesterol profiles, decreased blood pressure, and lost body fat, thereby reducing their risk for heart disease". They say that the residents of Crete, whose consumed a diet of almost 50% fat, had very low rates of heart disease. Same with the Inuits, who ate mostly animal fat/meat. The books that are referenced include "Coronary Heart Disease: The Dietary Sense and Nonsense" and "The Schwarzbein Principle", as well as the Framingham Heart Study which they said is often cited wrongly by the media. Although I still subscribe to the same general principles as you do, the information out there can be very confusing!

  9. Good Morning Heather,

    I love toasted squash seeds on anything. Like you it is a texture thing with me.

    It is driving me nuts to take it easy on my knee. ;-) I keep reminding myself that means I will recover faster in the long run. *sigh*

    I hope you have a great Friday too,

  10. Laura,

    There are two schools of thought one that thinks fat is good and one that doesn't. I have looked for scientific studies on the health benefits of coconut oil and sat fat and can't find anything to support it.

    What worked for me was realizing that oil is nothing but processed food. I try to keep our average fat intake (from nuts, seeds and avocado) below 20% and generally closer to 15% of our total calories. That seems to be enough for my skin and hair and we both feel good at that level. I hope that helped.

    enjoy your Friday,

  11. That's probably about what we've been doing lately (15-20% fat). When we tried 10%, our cholesterol didn't go as low as we had hoped and we had trouble keeping weight on. Getting a bit more fat in the form of nuts and seed helps our digestion too. Hope you're having a great day!

  12. I sure wish I had a pressure cooker, because that soup sounds delish!

    Have a great weekend!

  13. The butternut squash soup sounds really good. I love butternut but I think I would like it spicy rather than sweet like it is often prepared around here.

    I like hearing about your electric blanket ... I may have to try that trick.

  14. It sounds like you had a great day, I am so glad. Being productive and getting things done always feels *so* good and reading for pleasure is always such a treat :-)



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