Hi everyone, and Happy Friday!  Hope everyone is keeping up with the Abs Challenge.  I didn’t blog yesterday, so if you missed yesterday’s challenge it was just a four-minute Tabata.  Today’s is how many pushups (on either knees or feet – pick one and stick with it) you can do with good form in 60 seconds.  Keep up the motivationyou are almost half way through.  Tomorrow is another rest day and Sunday I’ll have Week 3’s challenges lined up for you.

Moving on to my January Reader Recipe guest!

In my Reader Recipes series, I am highlighting one F&F reader a month so they can share their favorite recipes with all of you.  This month’s recipe comes from my friend Jen, who you’ve seen guest post on my blog before here.  Jen is also one of my most committed group ex class members – she usually comes Tuesdays AND Thursdays!  Thank you, Jen, for sharing your reader recipe!

January Reader Recipe of the Month

I am so happy to share a recipe this month!  Winter is one of my favorite times of the year to cook, and I love making soups and chili!  I really making my own soups since so many of the canned versions in the store are full of sodium.  Today I am going to share one of my favorite new soup recipes – roasted butternut squash!  I found this recipe in the new Cooking Light cookbook I got from the gym friends healthy holiday party last month (you might recall Athena’s post about this!).  It is filled with great recipes and tips to be healthier and make smarter food choices!

Healthy Holiday Party Me & Jen

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is very easy to make, but you will need a blender.


  • 1 butternut squash (2.5 pounds) – I use 2 packages of the pre-cut squash from Stop & Shop
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups roasted vegetable stock (I use low sodium vegetable broth)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped and peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons honey


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds.  Plash squash, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Baked at 400 for 30 minutes or until tender.  Cool.  Discard peel; mash pulp (I use a hand masher since the squash is quite soft).  If using the pre-cut squash, just place them on the baking sheet, evenly spread out.
  3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add mashed squash, roasted veggie stock, and the next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.  Let stand 10 minutes, then discard bay leaf.
  4. Play 1/3 of vegetable mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape).  Secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid to avoid splatter.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into large bowl.  Repeat procedure twice with remaining squash mixture.  Return puree mixture to pan, cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in parsley and honey.

I like to cook barley and add it to the soup when I am ready to eat.  It is an excellent grain and a great source of fiber!

Jen's Butternut Squash Soup

I know I will be making this many more times this winter.  It’s a quick grab for lunch during the week too!


If anyone is interested in being featured on Reader Recipes, please email me at akaralekas@gmail.com.  I’m open to any recipes (healthy or not), you just need to be willing to write up a little post about it and photograph your food.  Would love to feature you, and you do not need to be a blogger to participate!  Have a great weekend, everyone!