squash_pilgrimHow is it November already? It was 80 degrees last Friday and 50 on Sunday… but the calendar says Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away. We’re here to remind you that you can indeed pick up lots of holiday fixings at Soupergirl. Of course we’ll have our Maple Syrup Roasted Butternut Squash soup on our online delivery menu the week of the holiday. We’ll also have a number of other pumpkin-themed soups and salads at the shops. We’ll deliver delicious holiday soups to various stores around town as well. But what we’re really most excited about is that we have an excuse to post a picture of a butternut squash dressed as a pilgrim. We look forward to November all year long. If we posted this picture in July, it certainly wouldn’t be seasonal, now would it??

Hello Loyal Soup People! Since the weather is finally cooling down, I’d like to discuss exercising outdoors. The good news (or bad news for people looking for excuses to take breaks for working out!), is that it’s never too cold to exercise. As long as you take proper precautions, you can exercise outdoors all winter long. Ignore that urban myth that freezing air can freeze our lungs – it is simply not true.

All year long, our bodies work to maintain a temperature of 98.6. In the summer, we sweat to cool down, and in the winter, we shiver and our noses run – all signs of our bodies working to keep us warm.

When exercising outside, it is important to dress wisely to stay safe and give your body a hand when it’s working to stay warm:

– Wear layers. The first layer should draw away sweat from the body,  so it should be something synthetic. Avoid cotton which simply turns cold when wet (i.e. when you sweat) and can actually cause hypothermia! The second layer should be a fleece to insulate you. The last layer should be waterproof. Layers are essential because you can remove them as you warm up. If you overdress, you’ll sweat excessively and could become dehydrated. Excessive sweating can also lead to hypothermia! Remember, when you first start exercising outside, you should feel cold. As a rule of thumb, if running, dress for the second mile, not the first. By then, you’ll be warmed up.

– Pay attention to your extremities. Our bodies concentrate our warmth and blood flow in our core, leaving our heads, fingers, and toes susceptible to cold. Wear gloves, extra socks, and hats to protect your extremities.

– Stay hydrated. The air is dry and we might not sweat quite as much in the winter, leading us to ignore traditional signs of dehydration. Always carry water with you and drink before and after exercising.

As a general rule, be smart! If it is pouring rain or icy, choose the gym or workout at home. It is very difficult for our bodies to keep us warm when we are soaked in cold rain. Look for signs of hypothermia. If you start losing feeling or have tingling in your extremities, head home immediately. Don’t, however, use the cold weather as an excuse to become a sloth! There is nothing quite as invigorating as a brisk nature walk in the winter. Give it a try!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! As Soupergirl mentioned, holiday season is rapidly approaching… which means cold and flu season is too! Yuck. I wanted to send out a few simple reminders about how to keep yourself germ-free this season. I also wanted to include a few notes about what NOT to do!

DO:

– Wash your hands often and correctly. You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it works! Wash your hands with soap for twenty seconds under warm water, while rubbing your hands vigorously. Clean your nails, cuticles, in between your fingers… all over! Be sure to dry them thoroughly as well. You should be washing your hands before you eat, after you sneeze into your hand, after using the restroom, after coughing, after exercising… basically a lot!

– Keep your kitchen counter and cutting boards clean. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, the kitchen can be the dirtiest (germiest!!) place in the home. Clean your counters and cutting boards before cooking to get rid of any germs.

DON’T:

– Avoid antibacterial hand soap and cleaning products. These types of soap are harsh on your skin and provide no additional health benefits. Plus, our overuse of antibacterial products is leading to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Not good!

– Don’t steer clear of the gym or airplanes out of fear of germs. Staying fit is only going to boost your immune system. Flying is the safest (but arguably most stressful) way of travel. Just avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes, and ears when at the gym or on a plane. Wash your hands often!

In short – be smart! Don’t invest in expensive face masks or avoid places just to stay healthy. Wash your hands, get proper sleep, and exercise. And do try to keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes, nose, and ears!

ImageFall is fun!! Speaking of fun, the holidays are just around the corner (wow), and it is time to think about your next party! Let’s face it folks, there ain’t no party like a Soupergirl party. What does that mean? Soupergirl caters! We can take care of a lunch meeting and deliver hot soup ready to eat (making the meeting a party…). Or, deliver gallons of your favorite soup. Serve the soup in a martini glass! Serve it in mugs! Serve it in a funnel and chug! No, please don’t do that. If you’re interested in having us cater your next event or meeting, send us an email and we’ll work on getting the soup-party started!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to chat about fat. As many of us have come to realize, fat isn’t nearly unhealthy as we thought it was. In fact, certain types of fat are incredibly healthy! Avoiding all fat all the time is definitely not a good way to follow a healthy diet. On the contrary, people who consume unsaturated fats have lower instances of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and may even benefit from lower blood sugar levels. Here is a brief overview of the fats that you should consume and those that you should avoid:

Healthy Fats – As I mentioned above, unsaturated fats are very healthy. There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Both are very hearty healthy and contain their own health benefits. They are found in various oils (e.g. olive, canola, etc.), avocados, nuts, seeds, flaxseed, and more.

Unhealthy Fats – There is no debate over the most unhealthiest of fats – trans fat. When oils go through a process called partial hydrogenation, trans fats are formed. This process keeps fats solid at room temperature and gives them a much longer shelf life. This is why they are so popular in shelf-stable, processed foods. Trans fats increase cholesterol levels and actually lower the good cholesterol in your body.  They are incredibly unhealthy and should be avoided – even in small amounts.

There is a lot of controversy over saturated fat. What is clear is that saturated fat in itself does not make you gain weight. However, many studies have shown that consuming saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels.

Because so much is unknown about saturated fat, I highly recommend sticking to consuming healthy fats. Choose nuts, seeds, and avocado over red meat. Remember, however, that foods with healthy fats are pretty calorically dense. Don’t eat the entire bag of peanuts in one sitting! The good thing is that a small amount of unsaturated fat will keep you full for a long time. A snack of an apple and almonds is so much better than a few Oreos!!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Last week, I wrote about the misconceptions about chocolate. As Halloween is getting closer, I’d like to chat this week about sugar. There isn’t a lot of ambiguity on this topic. I’m sorry to say that sugar is pretty darn unhealthy.  I’m referring specifically to added sugar. Whether it comes in the form of cane, beet, high fructose corn… our body processes sugar in basically the same manner. While there is a lot of debate these days of whether fat in food turns into fat in our body, there is no question about sugar. Sugar goes straight to our waistline! And there’s more…

– Sugar has been linked to heart disease. A 2013 study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that sugar can negatively impact your heart’s pumping mechanism and lead to heart failure.

– Sugar causes obesity. As I mentioned above, the extra calories that come from sugar turn directly into belly fat. Also, sugar can cause an increase in leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that tells our bodies when we are satiated. Studies, however, show that too much sugar can cause our bodies to ignore this hormone, causing us to overeat.

– Sugar can have toxic effects on the liver. Similar to alcohol, excess sugar consumption can cause liver disease. Also, just like alcohol, sugar can indeed be addictive.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. The biggest issue with sugar is that it doesn’t trigger any sort of satiation signal in our body. When we consume fat or fiber, we feel satisfied and eventually stop eating. Sugar, especially in the form of sodas and other sweetened beverages, doesn’t trigger any sort of satiation signal. We have to force ourselves to stop, which we often don’t do – especially when eating a huge bag of candy at the movies!

Unfortunately, sugar sneaks into so much processed food – bread, crackers, tomato sauce, and more. Like I always say – check the ingredient labels! If you want to cut back on sugar consumption, start keeping a journal. Track how much you are eating each day, and try to cut back slowly. Hopefully, as you lower your sugar consumption, your cravings will change too!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

IMG_1044Attention awesome people! Soupergirl is hiring! We’re looking for a few good souper-people to join our team. We’re hiring brand representatives, retail staff, and all around Souper-people. If you are looking for a new opportunity – full or part time – give us a holler! Visit our Careers page to apply.

Hello Loyal Soup People! As I see the supermarket aisles filling up with Halloween candy, I thought I’d chat about chocolate this week. There are a lot of rumors out there about the miraculous benefits of chocolate consumption. While I hate to be a “Debbie Downer,” none have been thoroughly tested or proven.

The truth is, there is some promising research being done on flavanols – bioactive compounds that naturally occur in cocoa beans. In fact, there is a large scale trial being conducted right now by the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s hospital. Researchers think flavanols may be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is a multi-year study, so we won’t know the results for a while.

Regardless of the results, it is important to educate yourself about chocloate so you don’t fall for label claims and marketing schemes. Flavanols are only found in cocoa solids – the nonfat part of the cocoa bean. Cocoa butter (the fat of the bean) does not contain any flavanols. Keep that in mind when purchasing different types of chocolate:

– Cocoa Powder – pure, naturally processed, unsweetened cocoa powder is a very good source of flavanols and relatively low in calories. Be sure not to confuse hot cocoa mix, which is full of sugar and fat, with cocoa powder! Also be wary of “Dutch” or European cocoa powders which are processed with alkali, which can reduce the flavanol content.

– Dark Chocolate – here’s where we find a lot of false claims. People often think that if they are buying a chocolate bar with a high percentage of cocoa, they are making a healthy choice. However, these percentages combine the amount of cocoa powder and cocoa butter. You have no way of knowing the exact amounts of each ingredient. Also, to consume a significant amount of flavanol, you need to eat almost 1000 calories worth of chocolate.

– Milk chocolate and white chocolate – Milk chocolate usually consists of cocoa powder and butter, milk solids, and sugar (usually more of the latter ingredients). White chocolate is made only of cocoa fat and contains zero cocoa powder (and flavanol!). While these types of chocolate are delicious, they offer no health benefits.

Until more research is done, we don’t know the real health effects of flavanols. However, relative to the many dessert options out there, high quality, dark chocolate is definitely a better choice. It’s fine to enjoy a bit of chocolate, as long as you watch your portion size. I like to end each day with a cup of herbal tea and a bit of dark chocolate. Perfect for the season.

Too much salt is bad, mm’kay? “Yes, Soupergirl, I know,” you say, reverently. But we are eating in the time of an interesting paradox — the more we learn about proper nutrition, the more we ignore! While our knowledge about food is expanding every day, so are our waistlines. This point is illustrated perfectly in Jane Brody’s article in The New York Times. Despite greater access to healthcare and information, we are experiencing a nutritional crisis, from supersized (not to be mistaken for soupersized) portions to the greater affordability of fast food to our affinity for sugar. It seems we are retreating in the face of information overload and mercurial evidence that has all the consistency of DC’s climate (bread is good! Actually, bread is very very bad! Never mind, it’s good again! But too much is REALLY bad!)

In times like these, it’s helpful to keep a shortlist of rock-solid principles to help guide you towards the right choices. Ask yourself, “Is it fresh? Is it made locally? Would Soupermom (or your grandmother) recognize the ingredients? Does it contain high levels of sodium and fat or preservatives?” Actively incorporating these questions into your shopping routine, and sticking to them, will help you lead the life you’ve learned!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Cold and flu season is officially upon us! As someone who is currently living with someone who has a nasty cold, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to avoid getting sick yourself. I’ve been following these tips myself and… so far so good!

First, the bad news. Cold viruses spread very easily. The germs can live for a long time (24 hours!) on all types of surfaces – tables, door knobs, computers, TV remote controls, etc.. All you need to do is touch a contaminated surface and scratch your nose and… voila. You’re sick!

The most obvious way to avoid getting sick is to keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, ears, and eyes. Unfortunately, we very frequently rub our eyes or scratch our nose without thinking. Which brings me to option two – keep clean hands. Wash your hands thoroughly as often as possible. I’m not talking about a quick rinse. I mean scrub your hands vigorously for at least twenty seconds with soap.  I recommend carrying some hand lotion around with you because washing your hands a lot can make them dry out.

Also, be sure to clean shared surfaces as often as possible. I’ve personally been cleaning all door knobs, refrigerator handles, utensil drawers, the dishwasher, and more many times each day. That’s another way to prevent the cold virus from getting onto your hands.

You should, of course, try to boost your general immunity to help your body fight off any cold viruses. Get proper sleep and exercise, stay hydrated, and eat a lot of plant-based food. Give your body the tools it needs to keep you healthy all winter long.