Wednesday, August 2, 2017


“The thought of a hot bowl of soup is comforting, especially during the winter months.  But before you crack open a can, consider this.  Volunteers in a study were divided into two groups.  Both ate soup for five days, one from cans and the other from fresh ingredients.  BPA levels measured in the urine at the end of the study were 12 times higher in the canned soup group.  BPA has been linked to diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.”  
           -- from The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle by Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D.

Recently I posted a picture on social media of lentil soup I made in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  I believe that all kids need to know how to prepare a  great plant-based soup.  It turns out all adults need to know, too.  Many of you asked for the recipe, so, as promised, I am delivering it to you. 

Cubed butternut squash

I have a love affair with lentils and other legumes.  Lentils are one of the most perfect foods on the planet.  One-half cup of cooked green lentils contains about 140 calories, 12 grams of protein, about 9 grams of dietary fiber (which fills you up quite nicely), and they are super easy to cook.  They are incredibly AFFORDABLE for any budget!  I cook a pot of lentils most Sundays to use during the week.  Some of my favorite things to make with lentils are vegetable lentil soup, veggie burgers, dal, lentil tacos, and on salads for work. 

Rainbow carrots can be diced or shredded for lentil soup.

There are so many things you can do with lentil soup:  add purple potatoes, use rainbow carrots, add spinach or kale, top with pesto or garnish with some fresh parsley or cilantro from your garden.  Have fun making this recipe one of your family's favorites! 

 GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil:
¼ cup green lentils (or use a combination of green and French lentils)
1 cup water

Cover, turn down to simmer and cook 15-20 minutes until lentils are soft.  Set aside.

In another medium pan, saute for 5 minutes:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup sweet onion, finely diced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix together in a small stainless steel bowl and let sit for 5 minutes:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh turmeric, finely grated (use gloves or else you’ll be wearing the orange!  If  you don’t have a source for fresh turmeric, then use dried)
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (TIP:  Adding black pepper releases curcumin, the active anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric.)

Add turmeric to the vegetables.  

3-4 cups water (or half water and half low sodium V8 juice)
1 Tablespoon white miso (available at most health food stores)
1 bay leaf
1 cup cubed butternut squash 
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons tomato paste (TIP:  When I have sun-dried tomatoes on hand, which is almost always, I blend some to create my own richly flavored tomato paste.)

Cover and cook on low for ½ hour. 

Puree about ¾ of the cooked lentils (I use a blender stick because it is convenient and easy to clean up).   Add all the lentils to the soup pot.   Remove bay leaf.  Cook for a few more minutes, then serve.  Add Bragg Liquid Aminos to flavor as needed. 

TIP:  Add a 2” square of kombu (dried seaweed) while cooking the lentils.  This adds minerals and flavor.  Remove kombu when lentils are cooked. 

Once you experience the flavor of homemade vegetable lentil soup, you will never buy a can of soup again!  If you do buy foods in cans, only buy cans marked as “BPA-free” (refer to the quote by Dr. Gaynor at the top of this article). 

Preventing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in children is important.  There are so many environmental factors that can influence the development - or the prevention - of diseases.  The choices we make matter.  Eating foods full of fiber matters.  Eating fruits and vegetables that are the colors of the rainbow matters.  Choosing to avoid foods from cans made with BPA matters.  (BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical used to harden plastic containers and the linings of canned foods and drinks.  There is evidence that it can disrupt hormones of children, affect the brain and behavior of infants and young children, and may be be linked to diabetes, obesity, and ADHD.)  

I, for one, choose to eat lots of lentils and to be BPA-free.  How about you? 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS - For more great lentil recipes, go to