Recently, a friend asked me if I knew what she could eat to help her heal from surgery. I hadn’t really thought about foods that helped speed the healing and recovery process after surgery. But, it makes sense – your body needs nutrients to help rebuild cells and tissue, and you want to make sure you are providing your body with the right nutrients so it can efficiently repair any damage and start anew.
As I started researching this topic, I came across a number of vitamins and minerals that are supposed to help speed things along during the recovery process, all of which are (not surprisingly) whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and lean proteins. Several articles also recommended eliminating all processed food, and either eliminating dairy or using low-fat dairy products. Sounds pretty much like a healthy whole foods diet, doesn’t it?
Specifically, vitamins C, A, E, B complex vitamins, zinc and bromelain are supposed to help with healing.
- Foods high in vitamin C include: red bell peppers, citrus fruits and juices, berries, kiwi, mangos, papaya, cantaloupe, leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes
- Vitamin A is in sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach
- B complex vitamins are found in whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh, beans
- Vitamin E is in mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kiwi, tomato, blueberries, sunflower seeds, almonds
- Zinc can be found in sesame seeds/tahini (hummus), lean cuts of red meat, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts
- Bromelain is naturally found in pineapple
An easy way to incorporate as many of these foods into a diet as possible is by making soups or smoothies. I had a stash of sweet potatoes from my CSA Box, and have been thinking about Thanksgiving foods, so I made this Spiced Sweet Potato Carrot Soup for my friend, full of vitamin A, C, and B6 vitamins. The pumpkin seeds on top provide an added boost of zinc. Not only is this soup good for you, but it’s pretty enough to serve for company as a starter to your Thanksgiving feast.
If you’re looking for a healthier soup recipe for Thanksgiving that doesn’t compromise on flavor or that rich mouthfeel, here it is. With warm spices of coriander and fennel seeds, this soup would make a nice start to a Thanksgiving meal. Although there is no cream in this recipe, it is as rich tasting, warm and comforting as traditional cream soups. Trust me, your guests will thank you for helping them enjoy a day of Thanksgiving in a healthier way.
P.S. My friend loved the flavors in this soup. Since her mom is an excellent cook, I took that as a big thumbs up for this recipe (friends and family make the best taste testers!).
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 shallots, minced
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced (about 4 cups)
- 6-7 cups vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1 clementine peel
- salt, to taste
- light coconut milk, for garnish and serving
- toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
- Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add carrots, sweet potatoes, stock, coriander, fennel, oregano and clementine peel.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
- Remove orange peel, and puree soup in a blender, being sure to remove the stopper from the cover (otherwise, you might have an explosion of soup!). You can also use a food processor or immersion blender.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Add a drizzle of coconut milk and sprinkle some toasted pumpkin seeds on top before serving.