Monday, June 30, 2014

It Ain't Easy Being Green

For the past week, I've been a guinea pig. (OK, not literally.) I volunteered, along with few others, to test out a diet book for an upcoming article at work. I thought it would be a good opportunity to hit the reset button and stop pretending that I can eat and drink like I am 21. Which I am not. I thankfully only have to commit for two weeks. By the way, I'm calling it a diet because it is. (And it says so on the front cover.) It's only meant to be followed for four weeks to achieve rapid weight loss and is not meant to be incorporated into one's lifestyle full time.

While I have dropped 4 pounds in the first week, I can't believe that the weight loss will last long. The caloric restriction is a bit much. For example, by 5:00 pm today I had only consumed 550 calories. (Yes, I was getting hangry!) According to my tabulations, on most days I have been limited to 1000 calories tops. There's no way I'll be able to sustain that on my own, particularly because I am currently required to include several meals that should consist of either a 200-calorie fruit smoothie, protein shake or low-sodium soup. I personally don't like to drink my calories, so have opted for the soup. I quickly realized that I better start making my own soups because on my last run to Pret A Manger for my liquid-ish lunch, I discovered that several of their small soups top out at 1100 mg of sodium! (Your entire daily intake should be between 1500 mg and 2300 mg.) No joke! Also not a joke? Saturday's 100-calorie snack suggestion of 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds OR 6 oysters. Ummm…when is the last time you or anyone you have ever met in your life has eaten poppy seeds? That weren't in a muffin? And who snacks on oysters without a glass of wine? (Oh yeah, I'm not drinking alcohol or coffee either.)

So...I bring you fresh pea soup. Or frozen pea soup. Whatever you can find. It's super quick and easy and meets my stupid diet requirements. Typically fresh pea soup is coupled with mint but I found a recipe from The NY Times that suggested tarragon which I thought was a nice alternative. It's delish. I think I'll save the mint for all of the mojitos that I'm going to make once this is all over!

Summer Pea Soup
Adapted from Bon Appétit

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
6 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 6 pounds pods) or 1 (16-ounce) bag of frozen peas, thawed
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add the peas, reduce the heat, and simmer gently until tender, about 5 minutes for fresh peas, about 2 minutes for frozen.

2. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the tarragon and remaining 1-2 cups broth to pot, if desired. (Add any additional broth according to your desired consistency.) Purée the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 4 - 6.