Take that, you freezing cold weather!

24 Feb

I hate being cold. Hate. It. And I'm so sick of winter. Don't get me wrong — I love how beautiful my backyard is when the snow rests on the branches of all the bare trees, and our two acres is covered in a blanket of white. It's stunning. But, honestly, a month of winter would be great and then let's just move into spring. I'm always cold and I'm just tired of it. 

Yesterday I had a visit with my awesome chiropractor for an adjustment. We always talk about my blood pressure and how it's going. I told him I've basically been stuck at about 150/100 forever. I'm frustrated and I don't know what to do next or how long to keep trying to get it down with diet. He reassured me that I'm doing everything right and it just takes time. He also told me that it might just be a result of vasoconstriction. Ever hear of that? 
Our bodies use vasoconstriction and vasodilation to regulate core body temperature. Vasodilation is when the blood vessels in our arms and legs dilate, allowing more blood to flow to these tissues, cooling the body. Vasoconstriction is when blood vessels in the arms and legs constrict, preventing blood flow to certain tissues. Why would we want to limit blood flow through our extremities?
Have you ever noticed how your fingers feel thinner on cold-weather days? Vasoconstriction. The central nervous system constricts blood flow to our extremities to prevent cold blood from returning to your core, causing a rapid drop in body temperature. As soon as the vessels in your extremities are constricted, a large amount of blood is forced into your core — causing a rapid increase in blood pressure!
Doc said give it another month or two and see if it starts to drop once the weather breaks. It's possible my BP isn't ready to come down because of the cold weather. Interesting stuff.
While I'm waiting for spring, I'm fighting this freezing cold weather with yummy, warm soups. This is a cannellini bean soup with a taste of Tuscany. It has garlic in it, which is known to help lower blood pressure. It started as a recipe from Food Network. Last fall, I modified it quite a bit to our tastes. Yesterday, I veganized it. So, I'm considering it mine. It's fabulous, filling and very satisfying. Great with a panini!
makes 6 servings
4 slices of thick whole wheat bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
oregano, garlic powder, black pepper and salt substitute
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed separately
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
4 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low sodium, if you can find it)
1/2 cup plain almond milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
salt substitute to taste
fresh parsley, minced for garnish
Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons olive oil with a few good dashes of oregano, garlic powder, black pepper and salt substitute. Brush this on both sides of the bread. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (spray with nonstick cooking spray or use parchment paper). Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Place a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 can of beans, oregano, sage and garlic. Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes. 
Whisk together the almond milk and cornstarch and set aside.
Pour the soup in a large non-plastic bowl. Carefully ladle about a cup of soup into a blender. Place your hand on the lid and puree. Put the pureed soup back into the pot. Continue pureeing the rest of the soup in small batches and returning to the pot. 
Slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer until soup is thickened. Stir in the remaining can of beans and salt substitute to taste, and heat through. Ladle into soup bowls and top with croutons and fresh parsley. Enjoy!
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One Response to “Take that, you freezing cold weather!”

  1. ErinGoBragh February 24, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    That looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your yummy ideas- my husband now loves roasted cauliflower, btw!

    The vasoconstriction thing totally makes sense! You're doing a great job and I'm sure that soon you'll see an improvement.

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