Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter Squash Soup & My 30 Day Skills Challenge

This past week, I had a random craving for the butternut squash soup that we served in one of the restaurants I had worked for during my time with Disney.  It was this thick, richly decadent soup that was sweet enough to border on dessert.  Packed with heavy cream, sugar and melted cheese, it masqueraded as a vegetable based soup, but it was truly delicious.  In an effort to recreate the flavors without all the heaviness, I came up with a paleo-ified version that I must say, stood up pretty darn well to the original.

Aside from soup making, I attended the Kill Cliff East Coast Championships this past Saturday in Boston and had the pleasure of being immersed in complete CrossFit culture for the day.  Having the opportunity to watch elite level athletes preform some of the most challenging workouts I've seen in my year of CrossFitting gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport and the fitness level of athletes at the competitive level.  Although I know I'll never hold my own against Stacie Tovar and Lindsey Valenzuela  in competition, watching them made me want to be a better CrossFit athlete.

I started thinking of my shortcomings  and things that I really wanted to work on improving.  My initial list was pretty extensive and I decided that I'm going to pick 2 movements per month to focus on.  (My thought process with 2 movements is that it provides variety in what I'm working on but is still focused enough that I can hone my skills in certain areas).  My choices for February: wall balls and  kipping pull-ups.

For the next 30 days, I'm committing myself to 15 minutes of skill work per day.  Each day, I can choose to work exclusively on one movement or I can break it up, but I have to spend 15 minutes working on form and skill.  I'll keep you posted on my progress as the month goes on.  I'm using my Karen time (150 wall balls for time), currently just over 12 minutes, as a gauge of my wall ball progress.  Currently, I can do a few strict pull-ups, but completely lack the coordination to kip so my progress there will be evident in my ability to preform the movement.

Consider trying your own skills challenge to improve your shortcomings.  I'd love to hear about your goals and aspirations!

Winter Squash Soup

1 medium sized butternut squash
1 medium sized acorn squash*
1 medium sized delicata squash*
1 tablespoon cinnamon**
2 teaspoons cardamon**
1 teaspoon coriander**
1 teaspoon nutmeg**
1 tablespoon kosher salt**
7-8 grinds of freshly ground black pepper**
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1 can coconut milk
3 cups chicken stock

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Peel and chop your butternut, acorn and delicate squash in 1 inch cubes
- In a plastic bag, combine cinnamon, cardamon, coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper
- Shake squash in the spice mixture until evenly coated
- Empty your spiced squash onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is fork tender
- Allow squash to cool for 15 minutes
- In a blender, combine squash, coconut milk, chicken stock and coconut sugar (depending on the size of your blender, you may have to blend it in batches)
- Adjust the spices to suit your personal taste (I added a bit more cardamon to mine)
- Push the pureed mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any clumps
- Store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to a week

*If unavailable, you can substitute a second butternut squash
**adjust to taste once soup is blended

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