Sweater Weather

Headshot Hello readers, my name is Therese Bridges and I will be Suzanne's intern for the next few weeks. I am currently in the middle of my dietetic internship and I will be aiding with her blog and social media. A little about myself: I am from Mobile, AL, recently graduated from the University of Alabama, and my day revolves around planning my meals. I am looking forward to my time with Suzanne and I hope you enjoy my posts!

Now onto the point.

Fall has always been my favorite season. Ever since I was a kid diving into a large pile of leaves in my front yard, I appreciated the weather and beauty of autumn. As I have grown older, my admiration has evolved to include football and food (I still enjoy a good pile of leaves, though).

Hot chocolate and fire pits are on the top of my sweater weather list. However, any one of my friends will tell you, I crave soup once the temperature drops to 70 degrees (I know this is dramatic and in fact, not cold). My favorite soup in the fall is butternut squash. Let me create an image: Sitting in front of the fire, curled up in a comfy sweater, eating butternut squash soup, and laughing with your friends.

To make this image possible, I am sharing a delectable recipe that you are sure to enjoy. My mother has made this soup for the family before and it is even delicious served cold. **I made this for my sick roommate and, not taking any "credit", she feels significantly better today.**

This soup could serve a large dinner party of 8 or last one person for a week of meals. I made it a bit spicier than advised by my mother but I find that it adds an extra kick.


Based on recipe in Williams-Sonoma Everyday Roasting Cookbook, with some personal tweaks

Pumpkin seeds inspired by Panera Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 10 people


  • 1-  4 lb butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 or 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line baking sheet with aluminum then brush with olive oil and arrange de-seeded butternut squash on pan. Roast squash for 13 to 15 minutes or until brown around the edges.

2. Once squash is done, set aside squash. Chop and arrange the onions on the same oiled up pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on onions and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over onions. Roast for 12 to 13 minutes then set aside.

3. In a stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add squash and onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook vegetables, stirring for 2 minutes then add chicken broth (enough to cover vegetables). Bring to a boil then place lid ajar and turn to low heat/simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Let soup cool, then working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor.

5. Return puree to stockpot, taste and adjust seasonings then reheat soup. Serve soup and garnish with nutmeg and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (available already made at most stores) on top of each bowl.

6. Enjoy! (preferably enjoying your favorite movie, sitting around a warm fire)



Thanksgiving is less than 24 hours away and I can feel the holiday spirit in the air! I love the holiday season and I feel Thanksgiving is the official kick-off date!

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving can easily get lost in the whirlwind of anxiety from the thought of eating due to the tradition or expectation to overeat!  Thanksgiving was never intended to be an event where everyone could feel uncomfortably stuffed and weigh a few more pounds at the end of the day. Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that is set aside to specifically recognize the many ways that we are fortunate.

Instead of worrying about how to get out of eating calories or allowing calories to steal precious holiday moments from you, I encourage the NutriFocus family to treat Thanksgiving as any normal day of eating… eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.  This will allow you the chance to enjoy the reason for the holiday and love on your loved ones!

This year I have several things I am thankful for, which I thought I would like to share with the NutriFocus family!

  • My relationship with my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ
  • My loving husband & our marriage
  • My amazing, selfless, loving mother and father
  • My new nephew, Hartwell and my sweet Slayden and beautiful Claudia
  • The return of my brother George from Iraq
  • My Mamaw’s Ability to Continue Healing
  • Each special relationship with my girlfriends and the memories we made in 2010

What are you thankful for this holiday season?!

I’m looking forward to sharing many thanks with my family and friends. I encourage each of you to share your unique blessings and “thank-you’s” with those that you love this year!

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.  ~E.P. Powell

RECIPE REVIEW - Edamame Succotash

I have missed blogging and staying in touch with my NutriFocus family!  This weekend I celebrated my mom’s birthday so I was unable to get to my computer!  I had a fabulous time sharing this weekend with family and friends!As Monday rolls around, so does my usual schedule, which means it is time for another RECIPE REVIEW!!  This week I chose to try Edamame Succotash because it called for ingredients that I had on hand and wanted to use to save money on groceries.  The recipe required little prep time and very little cooking time which fit my busy Monday schedule.

I made a minor substitution to the recipe but the taste was not compromised on any level.  Since I already had fresh lima beans in the freezer, (thanks Mike’s grandma!!) I simply substituted the lima beans for the edamame beans.  The recipe calls for pork bacon, but you could use turkey bacon as the substitute if you do not eat pork for religious reasons!  This is the major source of flavor for this recipe, so do not stray too far away when searching for a substitute!

Due to fact that I refuse to cook bacon in a skillet b/c I always get “popped”, I called for back-up so Mike joined me in the kitchen to help with cooking the bacon. Normally I would cook the bacon in the oven, but it is important that the bacon is cooked in the skillet so the dish can keep most of the flavor.  But for all other purposes, I recommend cooking bacon in the oven to avoid injury and for easier clean-up!!

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Blog Pictures 001

Once the bacon was cooked and removed from the pan, it was simply an act of adding each ingredient one by one.

First addition: Onions

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Blog Pictures 005

Second addition: Corn – Since corn is not in season, I used a 10oz package of frozen corn for this recipe. I definitely think fresh corn would really add flavor to this dish, but frozen did the trick for this season!

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Blog Pictures 007

Third addition: Lima Beans.  Lima Beans can be a great source of folate, potassium, and iron! These little green beans also pack a super punch with a significant level of fat free, high-quality protein and dietary, cholesterol-lowering fiber which helps keep blood sugar levels stable which is important for individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or insulin resistance. Lima beans are also known to be high in a trace mineral called, molybdenum, which is part of process of detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are preservatives commonly found in prepared foods and if an individual is sensitive to sulfites, they can experience rapid heartbeat and/or headaches.  By increasing your molybdenum stores, you can improve your ability to detox sulfites, therefore, decreasing or preventing side effects.

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Blog Pictures 008

Fourth Addition: Spices, Red Bell Pepper, and Plum Tomatoes – Red bell peppers provide this recipe with a significant dose of Vitamin A & C and lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may lower risks for certain types of cancers.

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Blog Pictures 009

Final Addition: Bacon Pieces

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Blog Pictures 004

To round out the meal, I added a piece of French baguette with melted havarti cheese! This was simply made by cutting a fourth of the baguette in half, placing approx 1-1 ½ oz havarti cheese, and placing in 425 degree oven for approx. 5 minutes, then broiling for another 2 minutes!  The flavors really complemented each other and really gave it a comfort food feel.  My husband and I both agreed that this recipe is a keeper due to the ease of preparation/cooking, inexpensive cost of ingredients, powerful nutrition stats, and the one of a kind taste that took us by surprise!  It was delicious!

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Blog Pictures 012

We both highly recommend all of you trying this recipe and letting us know what you think!

Succotash Meal
Succotash Meal

EDAMAME SUCCOTASH - "Cooking Light" Recipe

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups) Cost per Serving: $2.47


  • 1  slice center-cut bacon
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 2  cups  chopped sweet onion
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 1  (16-ounce) bag frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sugar
  • 3  plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1  red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3  tablespoons  torn basil


1. Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; coarsely chop bacon.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Melt butter in drippings in pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn kernels; sauté for 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Add edamame, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through bell pepper); cook 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and basil.

RD's Recipe Review: Sante Fe Soup for the Soul

Happy Fall Yall
Happy Fall Yall

According to the majority of my clients, the most common barrier to success in terms of following a meal plan is, LACK OF TIME!  As a full-time, working professional, as well as a wife, daughter, and friend, I know time can easily hinder our ability to nutritionally care for ourselves. We live in a fast pace society which is clearly evident by the high number of fast food restaurants, take out menus, and pre-made meals at local groceries.  So if you feel pressed for time, you are not alone. As a young girl, I can remember sitting down to a hot meal every night for dinner. I consider my mom a “super mom” for many reasons, but one reason being her ability to complete a full day of work as a school teacher and still manage to place a piping hot, comfort meal on the table for my two brothers, my dad, and me to enjoy.  I still marvel at her ability to manage time and I’m so thankful for the priority she placed on meal time as a family. It was not only a time to nourish our bodies, but also our souls by reconnecting with each other at the end of an eventful day. All of us may not have the gift of time management, but that does not mean we have to skimp on enjoying delicious, home-cooked dinners on a weeknight!  Each week I will be reviewing recipes that my family personally enjoys and that I find time to make with my busy schedule.  Our bodies are important and the best preventative medicine is nutrition, so I encourage each of you to make meal time a priority, not only for your physical bodies, but also as a time to reconnect with loved ones.  For this week’s “RD’s Recipe Review”, I decided put together a quick “Santé Fe Soup” recipe.

This recipe is a modified version of the Southwestern Soup recipe that can be found in “Super Fast Suppers” by Cooking Light.  This particular recipe caught my attention because of the short amount of cooking time, but more so because the ingredient list contains mostly pantry staples!

Soup Ingredients
Soup Ingredients
Sante Fe Soup II
Sante Fe Soup II

This soup was extremely easy to put together.  It really made my house feel like a home by filling it with the comforting smell of soup bubbling on the stove.  After all, there is no better comfort food than soup!  This soup brings vibrant flavors by combining the taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, and jalapeños. A dollop of sour cream added a nice touch by incorporating a creamy texture and a nice temperature differentiation.

This soup will help you meet your daily vegetable servings by incorporating onions and a heaping amount of tomatoes!  Tomatoes are full of lycopene which is a carotenoid considered a potential agent in the prevention of certain types of cancer. Your protein needs will be met by the fajita chicken strips and the black-eyed peas!  And finally, your carbohydrate needs are partially met by the addition of corn and black-eyed peas.  In order to complete the meal I simply served the soup with a hearty slice of Mexican cornbread, of which I would share the recipe but I must admit, I did not make the cornbread. It’s my mother-in-law’s specialty which she was kind enough to make while visiting us this past weekend in Birmingham!

I can confidently recommend this recipe for a quick weeknight meal or for entertaining guest on a budget!  Enjoy!