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Tips for Healthy and Delicious Cooking for Two

Ellie Krieger's butternut squash soup recipe and advice for eating well

spinner image Photo of two bowls of butternut squash soup, illustrating a recipe from hole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet by Ellie Krieger
Courtesy Ellie Krieger

If your priorities include both good food and a healthy diet, Ellie Krieger is the chef for you. Host and executive producer of the public television show Ellie's Real Good Food and a best-selling cookbook author, Krieger defies the common belief that, as she puts it, “delicious is on one end of the spectrum and healthy is on the other end.”

She calls that place where healthy and delicious meet “the sweet spot” — and you'll find all of her recipes inside that spot, including those in her new cookbook Whole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet (see her recipe for butternut squash soup, below).

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We talked to Krieger, 54, about how to make healthy cooking a delicious, easy part of your day, and even something fun to do with your honey.

Her food philosophy

spinner image Cover photo of Whole in One cookbook
Courtesy Ellie Krieger

It really centers on looking at food as “usually,” “sometimes” or “rarely.” You make the backbone of what you're eating the “usually” foods, such as vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, healthy fats, seafood, lean protein. The other foods are “sometimes” and “rarely” — you sprinkle them in and they can add flavor and texture. Then you can have the lusciousness that you want in your food and still keep an overall really great nutritional profile. And there's no such thing as “never": There's no forbidden fruit, which kind of takes the stress and guilt out of it.

Cooking for two

My daughter is graduating from high school this year and she's not home as much, so my husband and I are definitely getting into that cooking-for-two zone. It's become a nice project for us to do together, like our little ritual, where we put music on — good music, to help switch our day into another zone, out of the work mentality — and open a bottle of wine. Cooking is easier if you rethink the process, not as a chore but as just a nice part of the day. And the one-pot meals make it easier. In the entire book each recipe uses just one vessel. You need just six cookware items to make all of the 125 recipes, and you probably have them already.

How to avoid overeating at dinner

I never put a platter on the table. I keep the food in the kitchen, and we each take a portion and go to the table. If you want more, you have to get up and refill your plate, which makes you stop and say, “Do I really need more?” Some days you're hungrier than others and that's OK — I feel like people should trust their appetite. But keeping the food in the kitchen and off the table is a good way to minimize mindless eating.

Healthy breakfast idea

Oatmeal with nuts and berries, whatever fruit is in season. Now I'm really into adding apple and some pureed pumpkin, kind of like a harvest oatmeal. I also have a great Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats recipe.

This glorious bowl of goodness is the epitome of modern comfort food. The soup itself is a golden, fragrantly spiced puree of butternut squash, made hearty and protein-rich with the addition of canned chickpeas blended right in. But it’s the garnishes that seal the deal. A finishing drizzle of tahini adds a beautiful pale ribbon of creamy richness, punctuated by flecks of fresh parsley, and a new favorite from the snack aisle of the store — crispy chickpeas — make for a fun, healthy, crouton-like crunch. If you want to explore some other squash varieties, kabocha or honey nut would work well here, too.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 7.5 cups butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup canned no-salt-added
  • chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 cup packaged crispy chickpea snacks
  • (plain or lightly salted)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes; add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in the squash, chickpeas, salt, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and cayenne.

2. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. (Alternatively, allow to cool slightly, then puree it in several batches in a regular blender.) Stir in the honey.

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4. Place the tahini in a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add more water by the teaspoon until the tahini is loose enough to be drizzled. Serve the soup drizzled with the tahini, garnished with the crispy chickpeas and parsley.

The soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.


PER SERVING: Calories 390; total fat 12g (saturated fat 1.5g, mono fat 6g, poly fat 3g); protein 13g; carbs 58g; fiber 8g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 550mg; total sugar 12g (added sugar 4g)

EXCELLENT SOURCE OF: copper, folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, protein, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K

GOOD SOURCE OF: calcium, iron, molybdenum, niacin

Excerpted from Whole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet by Ellie Krieger. Copyright Ellie Krieger 2019. All rights reserved.