Recipe of the Week: Cauliflower Potato Cheese Soup

This past weekend we piled our girls in the car and headed north to visit three different families of friends. One of our excursions included the Oakdale Gouda Cheese Farm with the VanderMeulens. This place is the real deal with delectable cheeses handmade by Dutch immigrants. We came home with a 2-pound glorious wheel of basil gouda cheese.

My kids are cheese monsters. They would eat cheese all day long if I let them. I'm not sure if it's their Italian blood or if mama has modeled that one for them. That said, we are careful about too much cheese intake. We regard it as a special treat at our house for cost and health reasons.

I learned a good lesson during The New Year's Pantry Challenge that sometimes making the cheese a garnish is a great way to save money and show off the "special" ingredient. My Potato-Corn Chowder employs the same technique. I love easy soups when the weather is cold and you need something hearty to warm your insides.

This cauliflower soup was inspired by the beautiful heads of cauliflower at our local market, and, of course, the wheel of gouda cheese. Bon Appetit!

Cauliflower Potato Cheese Soup

-2 tablespoons olive oil
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 small head of cauliflower, chopped
-6 small potatoes
-2 carrots, chopped
-4 cups water or chicken stock
-1 tablespoon dried or fresh parsley, chopped
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon celery seed
-1/8 teaspoon pepper flakes, optional
-2 tablespoons flour
-2 cups milk or cream
-1 cup gouda cheese, shredded (You might use another hard cheese like parmesan.)
-4-5 stalks green onions, chopped for garnish

1. Add oil to a large stock pot. When oil is heated add, garlic and stir until fragrant.
2. Saute or sweat the cauliflower, potatoes and carrots in the oil until they are slightly brown and tender.
3. Add the water or chicken stock.
4. Add spices: parsley, sea salt, black pepper, celery seed, red pepper flakes.
5. Allow to simmer about 20 minutes until vegetables are very soft. Meanwhile, mix flour and milk in a separate measuring cup or bowl.
6. Add milk and flour mixture to soup. Continue cooking for about 10 more minutes until soup begins to thicken.
7. Serve in bowls with cheese grated on top as garnish. Another colorful garnish would be chopped green onions.


Thoughts on Fitness: Time to up the intensity

By Ericlee Gilmore

The longer I am in the fitness industry, the more I realize that we have been doing fitness all wrong. I was raised with an attitude to work hard always. For me that included fitness too. If my heart was not racing, and if everything in my body was not screaming "stop" then I knew I could work harder. CrossFit has helped me realize that true fitness is not just strength or endurance.

I have been doing CrossFit since 2009 and I have been coaching it for one year. True fitness is the ability to do more work over a broad domain in the shortest amount of time. True fitness is not debateable because there is always a winner. It could be just body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and pull-ups. Or it could be lifting weights like cleans or a medicine ball. Or it could be combination of body weight exercises, lifting weights, and metabolic conditioning. That is when you put it all together. Those are the workouts that hurt the most.

I think the problem we have is that we are not intense when it comes to exercise. Working hard means intensity. We are intense in our jobs, in the education of our children, in our personal rights and freedoms, even in our driving, but when it comes to fitness and exercise we aim for the lowest standard. Walking is a great start if you have never exercised in your life. You must move on from there.

Running is great too but running for a long period of time is not intense. Try sprinting 100-meters ten times in a row with a two-minute rest between each one. The key word here is sprint. That is an all out effort. So make fitness an all out effort. Make it intense! It might be just 5 minutes and that is okay. Whatever you do work at it with all your heart and I guarantee you will see results.

One last thing. Please remember that fitness does not stand alone. In the kingdom of wellness there is a king which is fitness and a queen which is nutrition. If you forget either one then your "kingdom" will fall apart. I just heard from a well-known strength and conditioning specialist that the best advice to give someone in America is called the "table push-away." Eat less and exercise more. I will leave you with that.
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