Blood Sugar-Balancing Soup

Something I’m keen to address here on The Particular Kitchen is blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, a very low drop in our blood sugar levels, can influence us more than just physically. It brings on that manic state of hunger, our senses are heightened, our moods are all over the place, our head starts to spin. Believe me, imbalanced blood sugar levels are never a good thing.

In fact, they can be a potentially life-threatening issue. Your body is designed to get things back on track, but if you spend your life eating foods that will cause severe spikes and dips in your blood sugar, things can go from bad to worse. You could end up with type 2 diabetes or hypertension. Just another reason why eating a balanced diet as well as living a balanced life is so important!

How do you begin to balance your blood sugar levels?

This is something I’ve brought up with my detoxers, who are starting the program tomorrow! If you are trying to get over a sugar, caffeine, or alcohol craving, the best thing you can do is follow some of these crucial blood sugar-balancing steps:

  1. Breakfast. Having a healthy and balanced breakfast sets your glycemic balance for the entire day, so be sure to include protein and healthy fats into your morning meal (and don’t skip it!)
  2. Protein. Incorporating protein into every meal and snack can be challenging, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian. Try not to rely on animal protein sources only; legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and fermented soy, such as tempeh and miso, are all good quality plant-based sources.
  3. Healthy Fats. I can’t get enough of the stuff. When I don’t have a spoonful of ground flax on my morning smoothie or breakfast bowl, I feel… off. Failing that route, you can always add in some avocado, nuts, seeds, hemp, chia, or the freshest, wildest cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring) you can find.
  4. Snacks. Yes I’m telling you to eat snacks. But not just anything! One that contains a protein, a healthy fat, and a complex carb. Eating a little something every 2-3 hours ensures you don’t end up at the extreme hunger stage (which inevitably leads to the sugar binge stage). Examples of good snacks? A handful of raw walnuts and an apple. A handful of celery sticks and some hummus. A brown rice cracker with some almond butter.
  5. Limited Carbs. Limit your carb intake, but not in an Atkins way. Have as many leafy and sulphurous vegetables as your heart desires. Chomp away on kale, broccoli, fennel, onions, spinach, asparagus, etc. Just limit the amount of starchy veggies and grains you’re having (whether they’re whole grains or made into pasta or baked goods). Two to three 1/2-cup servings should suffice for a day.
Many vegetable soups do not contain that all-important protein, so it’s crucial to make sure you’re getting it from somewhere else if you decide to have some for lunch. However, this soup recipe below is ideal for balancing our blood sugar levels. It contains healthy fats in the form of olive oil and almonds and protein in the form of chickpeas. It also has some wonderful spices and herbs, including smoked paprika, which is such a lovely strong flavor – adds a bit of Spanish red to the soup too! This is adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe out of his fabulous Food Matters Cookbook – he uses dried chickpeas in his original version, so I wanted to make it a bit of a cheater’s version. I’m sure I’m not the only one 🙂

Carrot & Chickpea Soup

by Molly Robson

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

Keywords: simmer soup/stew gluten-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian wheat free Spanish

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1lb carrots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 15-oz can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1⁄4 cup flaked almonds, for garnish
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, until the onions are translucent and softened.

Meanwhile, toast the flaked almonds for a couple of minutes in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until lightly browned. Put to one side.

Add the garlic and carrots to the onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened slightly, then add the cumin, paprika, and parsley. Cook for 1 minute, until the spices are evenly distributed among the vegetables, then pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and leave to cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and leave to cook with the lid on for another 10 minutes.

Either serve like this, with some flaked almonds and cilantro leaves on top, or transfer to a blender and puree until smooth before serving with the garnishes.

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In other news…

  • Buy my cookbook, A Wholesome New Year, packed with recipes to inspire a healthy 2012!
  • I’m teaching an afternoon of Allergy-Friendly cooking at The Avenue Cookery School in Putney. There are currently 12 spaces left, so book your place with me today by emailing me. It takes place on Thursday 26th January from 11am-2pm.
  • Missed out on joining the Renewal Detox, which kicks off tomorrow? No worries! I’ll be running seasonal detoxes from here on out. The next one starts on April 14th, so more information will be coming in the spring about that one!
  • The free Healthy Food Series continues at Nourish Health Foods in East Sheen – my next talk tackles Winter Blues this coming Tuesday (Jan 17th) at 2pm. Come along for some mood-boosting recipe ideas and a healthy treat to take home!
  • New workshop alert! I’m presenting a 30-minute talk at Well4ever Clinic in Putney on 20th January all about Detox Advice. Come along at 11am for tea, healthy snacks, and some great info!
  • P.S. to keep up with all of my events as well as to get special recipes not currently featured on this blog, sign up to my monthly newsletter

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