Yuca & Chicken Soup: A Recipe for Wellness

Do you remember the first diet you ever tried? Or the first diet you were ever put on? I must have been 11 years old when my mom sat me down at the kitchen table and without much explanation, told me to eat half a grapefruit and a boiled egg for breakfast. I thought it was odd that I wasn’t getting my daily dose of Fruity Pebbles, but I didn’t ask questions. I was already late for school. Then, during lunch break, I find a strange bottle of tomato juice, some string cheese and a mandarin orange in my lunch box. I was even more puzzled, but luckily, I had a few quarters with me and bought myself a bag of Cheetos at the school’s cafeteria. I didn’t know I was supposed to be on a diet. Or why.

As you can imagine, I complained the heck out of it as soon as my mom got back home from work. Was I being punished? My grades weren’t that terrible, I thought. My mom looked at me with the most loving, yet sad face and said: “You’re just a little fat, but we’re going to do something about it.” Dinner that night was steamed chicken with green beans. No dessert.

I went to bed hungry and feeling horrible. Not because I had to follow my mom’s diet hoping to lose a few pounds, but because this was the first time I was hearing that I was “gordita” from my mom. That always hurts. And don’t get me wrong… my mom is one of the most amazing human beings. But as I reflect on this now, as an adult, I wish my mom would’ve talked to me about being healthy and the benefits of a wholesome lifestyle. Unfortunately, this generation of women was somehow indoctrinated to lose weight in order to be accepted by society as an Ok woman or someone who’s Ok to look at. My mom didn’t want me to “get hurt.”

These are the kind of women who weight themselves every day, who just eat salads or sashimi for lunch, who feel terrible about every treat they eat, and who won’t talk to their doctor about what’s healthy for them. My mom is now 86 and till this day, she likes to tell people that “she doesn’t eat much” for the fear of being judged. Yet, you’ll see her sneaking into the kitchen later at night to have a slice of any available dessert. Why do this to ourselves?

I would like to tell you that I eat whatever I want guilt free, but that’s not the case either. However, after trying every diet and following every advice from the wrong people (including some doctors), I decided to take matters into my own hands and research the foods that could potentially have a negative effect in my wellbeing and diet. I went to my primary doctor for advice too.

And guess what? It’s working.

After removing a few things from my diet, migraines are going down significantly. I have more energy. I sleep better. I am more focused and motivated. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been.

In my personal case, dairy and gluten were causing chronic inflammation and disrupting my hormones, among other negative effects. Sugar was also a problem. And although I never ate a ton of it, going sugar-free is helping me reduce migraines and tiredness.

It’s hard to be honest about this kind of stuff, but I wish more people would understand that when it comes to wellness, it is very harmful to follow other people’s journeys. You have to follow your own. You have to find what works for you and what doesn’t. Most importantly, you have to do it for the right reasons. It’s how you take care of yourself and learn to be kind to yourself.

If you eat a donut every once in a while, that’s Ok too. That’s also being kind to yourself, as long as you go right back to your healthy routine.

Oh, one last thing… Once you figure out what foods you CAN eat, get to know those ingredients very well. Experiment with them. Turn them into irresistible weekly recipes. For example, I miss noodles like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m learning to cook with gluten-free alternatives. I do my best to make every meal as delicious and wholesome as possible, like the soup I’m posting here. It has a ton of veggies and protein, and I can’t get enough of it. Hope you like it too.

Chicken, Yuca & Veggie Soup with Brown Rice Ramen Noodles
  • 1 32oz Box of organic chicken broth
  • 1 32oz Box of organic veggie broth
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 Chicken thighs
  • 1 ½ Cups of roughly chopped cabbage
  • 1 ½ Cups of roughly chopped pumpkin 
  • 1 Cup of roughly chopped celery 
  • 2 ½ Cups of frozen yuca, chopped in smaller pieces
  • 1 Cup of sliced onions
  • 1 Cup of sliced cubanelle pepper
  • 4 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 Slices of low-fat salami, quartered 
  • 4 Slices of Canadian bacon, quartered
  • 2 Individual packages of brown rice ramen noodles (Check Asian section)

1. Trim the chicken from all the fat and cut into large pieces. Season with salt and pepper. In a large pot, drizzle some olive oil and sauté.

2. After it starts to brown on each side, add the salami, Canadian bacon, onions, pepper, and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the yuca, cabbage, celery and the two boxes of broth. Cook on medium-high heat.

4. Once the yuca starts to soften, add the pumpkin. Taste the soup and adjust the salt. 

5. Once the pumpkin is fork tender, add the noodles. Cook for about 3 more minutes.

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