Lunch Today: Raw Zucchini Spinach Soup

Happy first day of spring!
Here’s to a spectacular gardening season (have you begun planting yours?).
However, I must be honest. I’m off to a poor start.
Here’s a tomato seed that Hyrum planted.

Our experience with starter plants goes back a few years ago when we attempted starter plants to save money on our garden.
They were a flop. Nothing grew from those little pots. Nothing. Not even one sprout we could call our own. I chalked it up to lack of love and attention. Maybe, now that I’m thinking of it, it was the exact opposite. Maybe I over watered the little guys and they simply had too much water for their own good. I really do not have a green thumb, and beyond water and weed, am a bit clueless in the garden. I’d like to think that my enthusiasm makes up for any lack of knowledge on the subject.
Recently, the kids had an activity at church where they planted some seeds. They were excited, I was hopeful. My husband wanted to throw them all away.
“Remember last time?” he gently reminded me. Yes, I remembered, but, maybe this year will be different. I will water them, and do all the right things. And they will grow.
Here they are, a week and a half later. Nothing’s there. I’ve failed again.
I suppose it is a bit illogical of me to think this time will be different even though I’m not doing anything different from what I did last time. Oh well, someone’s got to support these little garden shops, eh?
On a different note.
Today I began the day alone.
It’s the only morning (except for Sunday) that I don’t teach a 6 am exercise class.
Sometimes I’ll sleep in on these days (sleeping in is like 6:30 or 7), but wouldn’t you know, the alarm clock (my husband’s cell phone) went off and kept going off every 5 minutes after 5:30 am.
It was all the way upstairs in our kid’s toy room, but the dang thing is so loud.
So I got up at 6 to finally shut the thing off and debated what to do. Only 20 minutes or so until one or two, or all four of the kids get up.
What to do–Shower? No, I’m just going to get all sweaty in a few hours teaching classes.
Check some emails, Twitter? No. I’ll do that later.
Get ready and go to work early and do some grading that has been piling up?
I think I deliberated for a good 10 minutes. You know, just kind of doddled around the house, before I finally decided I would just get ready for the day (workout clothes, my staple wardrobe, whether I like it or not) and then I’d see if my kids were up by then.
Once dressed, I hear the door creak open upstairs, and thuds coming down the stairs. Wait a few seconds, and two little heads appear through the doorway. They want cheerios and books (a morning ritual).
We sit down on the couch and read this:

The Little Bear books are faves from my childhood (my favorite one is A Kiss for Little Bear).

Maurice Sendak, the illustrator (also illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are) has a way of telling the story in pictures with just a few colors and simple illustrations.
His illustrations are imaginative and engaging.
I love beginning my day with good books, my kids snuggled up against me (or just as common, climbing and jumping all around me).
So, back to the fact that it’s the first day of spring. This puts me in the mood for lots of green things. What about you?
Maybe it’s my body’s way of preparing me for summer months, of letting me let go of a few extra winter pounds.
For lunch I was in the mood for something green and light, yet filling. Soups tend to do the trick, when I’m feeling this way.
I really like a raw soup I often get at Ginger’s cafe, one of the few local resteraraunts that serves a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan food. Theirs is a blend of green peas, avacado, and cucumber. I was out of my favorite frozen green peas from Costco, so I added spinach to the mix, and freestyled it, making my own version of the good stuff.
Raw Zucchini Spinach Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Serving Size: 1/2 recipe

Calories per serving: 148

Fat grams per serving: 11 g

Easy to make & requires no heat. A cooling, cleansing, nutrient-rich soup, perfect for hot summer months.


  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 c. raw spinach
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 TBS. Mrs. Dash tomato basil seasoning
  • 1 TBS. Mrs. Dash original seasoning
  • 1 tsp. mild miso OR 1/4 tsp. sea salt


  1. Peel cucumber.
  2. Cut cumber & zucchini into large chunks.
  3. Place all ingredients except miso in blender.
  4. If using a Blendtec, run through one cycle on soup setting. If using a regular blender, pulse the ingredients a few times then blend on high until very smooth.
  5. Add miso & blend briefly until incorporated.

4 g protein, 7 g fiber, 114 mg sodium

Your body will love this. Loaded with all sorts of good things!

Mrs. Dash is one of my favorite ways to flavor dishes without added sodium. Sam’s Club sells the one on the left at a great price.
All the ingredients out to make my lunch (I made put everything together in less than 15 minutes).
It gets kinda messy when I’m in the kitchen. Drives Joseph crazy, but he’s so polite he rarely mentions the fact. Yes, it get’s messy, but creativity has a price. One burst of frantic energy in the kitchen, and then, poof! I’ve got,
A cooling, velvety green soup. One of my fave sandwiches: a tomato and sweet onion on toasted bread. Accentuated with a splash of baslamic vinegar and cracked pepper. Ooh, and a bit of horseradish sauce, I always appreciate a little flavah that surprises.
My mom used to eat these sandwiches as a quick lunch between mowing the lawn and building fences (she’s quite a handywoman, my mom, and always on the go). I suppose you could say a bit of her has rubbed off on me.
The bread is gluten-free. I still don’t eat very much bread after going gluten-free.
I’ve had some sticker-shock with gluten-free bakery items (twice that of wheat). But, I can’t deny I love the texture and taste of bread, and have to have it now and then, especially when I’m craving a sandwich (and rice cakes simply don’t cut it as a bread replacer, I know).
Udi’s is a new fave brand of mine, although on closer inspection, their claim that they are dairy-free (which is in large, bold letters on the front of the package), means milk free, not egg-free. The bread contains egg whites or some such egg product, but I’m going to forget I saw that. I finally found a gluten-free bread that I like and if it says dairy-free on the label, well, good enough.
To round out the meal, I had some of these, bright, plump beauties.
Strawberries have been on sale ($1.25/lb.) this past week, so we’ve been enjoying our fill.
Ahh, doesn’t it feel like spring is here?
Question of the post: Are you going to plant a garden this year? If so, do you do starters or just buy the plant?
If you have any tips or tricks for not killing the starter plants, please, be a dove and do tell. Thanks.


  1. Ashlee
    on March 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm said:

    I also wanted to ask if you find that you have to follow the McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss principles long term in order maintain the weight lost. Or after losing your weight can you go back to the regular McDougall program?It seems if I eat just a little bread, pasta, or flour, I not only get a complaining tummy (the healthier I get the more my body seems to talk to me. It doesn't seem to like flour, oil, or sweetener of any type…Stevia being the exception. But it does seem to really crave greens and whole grains in their whole form — brown rice, rye, barley, oats, quinoa, etc) I also get tired (even if it's spelt flour or oat flour) but mostly it seems like it causes me to gain weight easily. I feel like I can't eat bread or tofu, cookies, or nuts and seeds of any type without weight gain and feeling heavy. Whereas when transitioning I seemed to be able to eat all the nut sauces I wanted, and cookies, and still lose weight.I really hope I am not gluten sensitive. I don't have to have bread, but I really like having the option.Anyway, I just wanted to know if overall you have to follow basic principles of McDougall's MWL to maintain weight loss long term. Is it really a sustainable/enjoyable long term eating plan? Or meant only to be short term? I really like his eating plan compared to Joel Fuhrman's plan because of his emphasis on starches. Without the starch I am constantly hungry. And my family strongly dislikes vegetable soups (I am the only one who really loves/eats them, although I will continue to introduce it and make it) which is what Dr. Fuhrman emphasizes. Dr. Fuhrman also thinks bread and pasta of all types are unhealthy. I understand the whole pasta thing, but bread of any type? Even unhealthy for kids? I don't think I agree. Do you have thoughts on this?I know I ask a lot of questions — I have been saving them up! They're all bugging me enough now to finally discuss it. Ashlee

  2. Ashlee
    on March 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm said:

    Sounds Good. I look forward.Ashlee

  3. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on March 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm said:

    Ashlee: This is such a fantastic question! I'm glad you brought it up. It's something that I've actually wanted to talk about for a long time, but haven't gotten around to formulating it into a post. You address some big issues here (weight loss, plateau, set point, etc.). I want to answer some of your questions in much greater detail, so do you mind if I wait to answer until next week in a post? I think your questions more than deserve a full post. I understand where you're coming from, and a little bit of the frustration that it sounds like you're experiencing. Definitely been there. Let's talk more about it, in a post next week, shall we?

  4. Ashlee
    on March 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm said:

    Janae — thank you for posting the foods that you eat on a daily basis. Pictures are so helpful; although I know it's not easy to take time/effort to take all those pics and post everything (with four kids! I have three so I kinda' relate). I love that your lunch has variety, flair, and a lot of bulk. And it looks very tasty, yet easy to make. My weight has not been cooperating with me lately and I keep wondering if I am eating too much? But seeing your lunch makes me think I am not. During six months of vegan eating, I have solidly lost 15 lbs but feel like I would just love to shed 5-10 lbs more. I could exercise more, that's for sure! The gym where I worked shut down so I don't teach my "boot camp" classes anymore — bummer! But I am starting to run/walk and hope to get back into super-weight lifting (one of my favorites). Did you find after being vegan for a few months that you could eat a lot more bulk of vegan foods than when you first started? Like your body adjusts to this new way of eating and then tries to make up for the calorie deficit by screaming at you to eat more? Some days I feel like all I am eating are green salads (no oil) and vegetable soups (again, no oil) but then weigh more the next day! Any tips?I mostly just wanted to say how much I love your blog, and cheer you on to keep going because you are making a huge difference! I love that you focus so much on optimal nutrition (not JUST veganism) because that is my daily goal. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! And keep these awesome posts comin'! Ashlee

  5. Tina
    on March 22, 2012 at 3:50 am said:

    Sorry about your starter plants! I've never tried starting my own tomatoes . . . but just might this year. A little late, but we'll see.ON a brighter note, that soup looks amazing! Thanks for inspiring me yet again.Tina

  6. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on March 22, 2012 at 2:43 am said:

    Jess & Inkling: Aww, you guys are so sweet to take the time to recommend the gf bread-making. I really LOVE bread, and I making bread (used to be a fave past time of mine), so this is fortunate news. I knew you COULD make gf bread, I just always assummed it was blah. I've had great success doing gf waffles, pancakes, and the like, but bread has been so intimidating, I just thought it would be one of those things I'd have to forgo in order to have a happy digestive system.I WILL check it out and make some bread, and I'm sure you'll hear all about it in an upcoming post. Thanks so much for the suggestions!

  7. Jess
    on March 22, 2012 at 1:27 am said:

    You really should look into making some g-free bread! We are also vegan and gluten free and I can't stand the Energ bread at the store, yuck….plus I don't loke all those multisyllable words in my food. There are some great and super easy recipes on Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen's website as well as Gluten Free Goddess and you could easily do a search on Pinterest for gluten free vegan bread! We finally overcame the intimidation that is homemade bread and it's so much better! We also eat waffles, pancakes, muffins, cookies and cupcakes now! We just whip them up and they are lovely! 🙂 GOod luck!

  8. Inkling
    on March 22, 2012 at 12:56 am said:

    I did my first garden last year, and found it easier to plant directly in the plot. I had tired starter plants before, and failed miserably. I bought a few packets of seeds, and scored some good deals on some seedlings and some organic plant food. Thanks to a woman from our church who shared a great set of notes on companion planting, my plot in the church community garden was abundant and beautiful. If you would like, I can attach what she wrote out for us and email it to you. You can contact me at saraorange1974(at) yahoo (dot) com. I'm just a beginner, but last year's gardening experience was a really big blessing for me and I learned so much and fell in love with digging in the dirt and watching things sprout.We just had to go GF here at our house because of some health issues my hubby is dealing with. The best bread recipe I've found so far is on the Gluten Free Goddess site, and it's her sandwich bread recipe. The only problem you would have is that her recipes do require oil, and I don't know enough what to tell you about a good substitution. Since going GF, I've had fun experimenting with making my own GF flour blends, and find that it's much cheaper and healthier (fresher, no preservatives, my choice of whole grain flours) if I do it that way. Also, most of her recipes can use the EnergyEgg Replacer product. (Can't remember exactly how you spell it, but it works when eggs are required, which they are in most GF baked items.) Oh, and the quinoa/corn pasta is WAY better than the rice stuff. Ancient Harvest makes a good one, and one of my friends has found it at her local Target. I got it at a grocery store yesterday.Hope this helps. And do feel free to contact me if you want that companion planting handout.

  9. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on March 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm said:

    lfwfv: Mary's Gone Crackers are hands down my fave gluten-free crackers. Soo good. Word of advice from one who knows–when you're pregnant you can eat whatever your body tells you to eat. It's hard, I know. I go from clean, plant-based, to all over the place when I'm with child. For the first trimester, I just eat whatever I can stomach and whatever will get me through the day, which is never vegetables and hardly any fruits. I used to beat myself up for not being "stronger" but then just realized, hey, if I can't eat exactly "perfect" it's okay. My body is making a baby, so I'd better listen to what it's trying to tell me. Definitely easier said than done. Ditto on the rice cakes. Love 'em, but rice cakes ain't bread, that's for sure.

  10. Anonymous
    on March 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm said:

    We might try container gardening this year. I kill everything though. I think i might over-water…or under-water….who knows?! We always do fresh herbs and we are going to try some lettuce and tomatoes this year i think. We will definitely start with small plants. Seeds don't stand a chance with me as their mother!I am gluten free too. i usually eat only whole, unprocessed foods, but pregnancy nausea is making it difficult to eat much of anything. Sometimes I get a hankering for bread, but all the gluten free breads seem to be full of oils and refined flours. Kinda turns me off. I might just give in and get some though since there are some days i get so hungry and i just can't get any quinoa, or bananas, or lettuce down. Last night, i finally ate Mary's Gone Crackers which was a decent bread substitute…definitely more satisfying than rice cakes which I usually try to make due with. lfwfv