Started Off the New Year on the Right Foot – First Hike + Healthy Eats


On New Year’s Day, I bundled up from head to toe, jumped into my car around 1:15 p.m. drove to Walkway Over the Hudson west entrance to participate in America’s State Park First Day Hikes at 2 p.m.

It was a cold but beautiful day, about 250 people joined the group hike.
There were cyclists, joggers and walkers; some needed the aid of canes.
There were families with children; some in strollers.
There were pets.
All were smiling, enjoying the beautiful Hudson River and its surrounding sceneries.


dsc04671weblarge-copy.jpgFred Schaeffer, organizer of the Walkway Over the HudsonFirst Hike, with one of the about 250 walkers


dsc04658weblarge-copy.jpgKen Christian, the unicyclist and a regular on the Walkway, had no intention of missing the First Hike

dsc04663weblarge.jpgCheeto, also a regular on the Walkway, was not going to miss the First Hike either

dsc04665weblarge-copy.jpgSophie decided she wanted a better view
She is 1 year old, a cross between a dachshund and a blue heeler

∞ ∞ ∞

Need to get rid of the extra pounds gathered since Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I really did not overindulge, but I guess a nibble here, a bite there, an extra spoon of this and that, did add up.

Now my whole being is screaming: “Excercise is not enough, need lighter and healthier fare.”

Looked in my fridge and saw all the lovely veggies a friend brought back from NYC for me and decided a tofu veggie soup will fit the criteria. It is quick (the most time consuming part is washing the veggies), easy, delicious and satisfying, also versatile. What more can one ask for?

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Healthy, Easy & Quick Tofu Veggie Soup (4 – 6 servings)

4 (or more) cups broth, vegetarian or chicken (I had chicken broth in my freezer so that’s what I used)
 1 block (14 – 16 ounces) soft or regular tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
1½ – 2 pounds vegetables of choice

I used the following:
lotus root, peeled and thinly sliced. Click here to learn about lotus root.
carrots, thinly sliced (to make carrot flowers, click here and scroll down)
snow peas
baby bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces 

2 – 3 slices fresh ginger (remove and discard before serving soup)
1 – 2 tablespoons soy sauce (regular or gluten free) or to taste
 2 – 3 tablespoons shiro (white) miso (optional), dissolved in ¼ cup broth
½ – 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil (optional)
freshly ground white or black pepper to taste
kosher salt to taste
scallion slices for garnish

1. Bring broth to a boil, add all veggies and ginger. Bring to boil again, simmer 2 – 3 minutes or until veggies are partially cooked.
2. Add tofu, bring to boil. Simmer until veggies reached desired doneness.
3. Turn off heat. Stir in soy sauce, miso, sesame oil and ground pepper. Salt to taste. Garnish with scallion. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Add Asian chili oil/sauce to taste
 Add cooked noodles, pasta or rice (I am on temporary low-carb so I did not add any)
Top with a poached egg
Add shredded/chopped prosciutto (I keep sliced Parma prosciutto in my freezer to add to soup as a flavoring)
Add cooked meat, poultry, seafood or meatballs (if adding uncooked meat, poultry or seafood, add before veggies, bring to a boil then continue with veggies.)

As you can see, there is no need for quantities for this recipe, use whatever vegetable is available and, more importantly, what you like.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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61 Responses to Started Off the New Year on the Right Foot – First Hike + Healthy Eats

  1. Sammie says:

    what a great way to start your new year Norma!! Great looking healthy soup too! yumm!!

  2. Norma, I love the way you’ve cut your carrots to look like little flowers — the ponytails would LOVE that! The lotus roots add an unexpected texture and pattern to your soup as well. It looks delicious! My extra nibbles here and there over the past few weeks have had the same result, so I’m trying to eat healthier as well. I’m afraid this isn’t going to be a quick fix though…. Wishing you a very happy new year!

  3. Daphne says:

    The soup looks so pretty. I’ve been eating the heavier ham and bean soups.

  4. Kristy says:

    Your soup is lovely and light fare is definitely in order. It looks like a great First Day hike! We didn’t end up doing one, but we did get outside and go for a walk. Also watched the sun rise on New Year’s Day. It seemed fitting for the first of the year. And I too like how you cut your carrots. they make the dish so pretty.

  5. pooks says:

    I didn’t know about the First Walks until I saw them posted on a Texas State Parks website late on Jan 1. Now I want to do one next year! I have a blue heeler mix (and had a purebred blue heeler before). They are such smart dogs, which is a good thing as long as they use their powers for good. And yes, I speak from experience with that cautionary phrase!

  6. That’s a lot of walkers! Happy New Year, Norma. Thanks for your continuing inspiration to cook beautiful, healthy food. Yum….now, where to find lotus root in New Hampshire?

  7. Toni Kellers says:

    Norma – sorry I missed you at Rhinebeck – my sheep and display were there but I was across the road in the hospital having a mild heart attack! Missed the whole bloomin’ Fair! Doing fine now. Wanted to let you know I made homemade sauerkraut in October at our Grange Market – ate it with pork roast on New Year’s Day. That was a first for me, easy, and absolutely delicious.
    This winter am having Soup on Sunday – easy and delicious way to spend the day. Thanks for the ideas.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Toni,
      So sorry to learn of you hospitalization in Rhinebeck. Glad you returned home safely and doing fine now.
      Soup Sunday sounds like a great idea. Made a big pot of beef and barley soup with the prime rib bones from Christmas and froze a few containers for later.

  8. Maggie says:

    Hi Norma,
    even across the ocean your soup looks so delicious that I will cook it next week when I have bought the veggies at our market in Sindelfingen!
    Have a wonderful winter week!
    Much love from Maggie + Peter

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Maggie and Peter,
      So delightful to hear from you. Can you get lotus root in Sindelfingen? It is so cold, was low single for the past 2 days, glad I made a big pot of soup, today is a tad warmer.

  9. How terrific that Cheeto likes to participate in the walk…I can’t see either of our girls going for that! This soup looks healthy and delicious, and I love the pretty lotus root.

  10. Eva Taylor says:

    Happy New Year! What a wonderful event, I wish I lived closer I definitely would have joined you on that walk! It must have been very chilly.
    The soup sounds and looks amazing. I’ve only ever had lotus root deep fried in restaurants as a garnish, it makes me wonder what the texture is in this context. I also really like the carrots cut like flowers, do you have a metal cutter for it? I also like the idea of adding meat balls, kind of like an Asian style Italian wedding soup! My stupid cold has snuck back (it really never left one hundred percent), so this would be perfect. Now the dilemma is to make this or the one Kelly had posted earlier which seemed really tasty too.

  11. Great way to start the new year Norma and that soup looks so good. I need to get some lotus root!

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    Good to see that the Walk was so well attended. I checked out the Walks in this area and neither was convenient. Maybe next year more parks will be involved. I’ll sure keep alert next time around, thanks to you. Your soup looks delicious. Hearty without being heavy. Perfect.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      Sorry that a park closer to you did not participate hopefully next year one will.
      The soup was just what I needed, hopefully I will get rid of the excess poundage real soon.

  13. Patsy says:

    Those First walks pictures look so nice! I checked out my state using your link and found one not far from where I live even though our state only had two locations. Because it was snowy and they suggested using snowshoes I opted not to walk, but maybe next year! Your soup looks just delicious!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Patsy,
      I have never tried snowshoes, should Google to learn about it. Hopefully next year you will have the opportunity to participate.
      The soup was delicious and surprisingly filling.

  14. Delicious Norma, and a healthy start to the year! I’ve never seen fresh lotus root before! And your hike looks like it was great fun! 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Celia,
      I am surprised you do not have fresh lotus as I read that it is native to Queensland, Australia.
      The hike was a great deal of fun, made more so because of the beautiful winter day we had, we were lucky, the 2 following days were brutally cold and windy.

  15. A Table in the Sun says:

    Your soup looks fabulous. We haven’t yet had our first hike of the year, but we will be doing our first trail ride tomorrow…..with a tad less than 250 people. Trust me, you never want to put that many horses in one place at a time. Could be some surprises!

  16. A great start indeed!

  17. hotlyspiced says:

    I’m glad the walk went well. What a great thing to do and it must have been so scenic. It looks like you’ve got the New Year off to a great start xx

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charlie,
      I am glad the weather cooperated as it can be awfully cold in the middle of the bridge on a windy day.
      Yes, got the New Year off to a great start, the challenge now is can I maintain it?????

  18. Eha says:

    Thank you, Norma, as this soup is honestly and truly going to be my supper tonight – have absolutely everything at home! I began disliking stepping on the scales soon after I began working on the computer three years ago: no time for walks but appetite sure stayed the same! Love my wine also!! So much more to lose than you I am certain! No park walks here but am doing 2 x 20 minutes a day and pleased. We’ve had a couple of very good lectures on our ‘serious’ TV channels for New Year: all doctors have agreed food choices more important than just excercise. So far so good 🙂 ! Your family style walk sounds wonderfully energizing! And don’t complain about your cold too much: Australia has been hit by a once in 50 years heatwave with temps 45-50 degrees C and bushfires [forest fires] already devastating four of the seven states . . .

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eha,
      Sounds like you are off to a good start with the New Year also, excercising and eating healthy.
      Whoa, you are having a major heatwave, hope it does not last long. Expecting a bit warmer weather this coming week which I am looking forward to.

  19. Ginny says:

    I had hoped to do the hike at the Walkway over the Hudson (we often enjoy walking across it!) , but had a conflict with the time on Jan. 1st – so my family had to settle for a 4.4 mile walk around the neighborhood on New Year’s Day – still a good way to start the New Year. The next 2 days were so bitter cold that I could only go about 3 miles each walk. Now, I look forward to trying your Healthy Tofu Veggie Soup – hope to buy the ingredients this weekend. I haven’t seen the lotus root in the stores – I may try one of the Chinese food stores to see if they have any.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Ginny,
      Cannot believe you walked 3 miles during those 2 bitterly cold and windy days, I stayed in and did not venture out. Looking forward to the predicted warmer weather next week. Hope you find lotus root at the local Asian stores.

      • Ginny says:

        Norma, The store in HJCT was sold out of lotus root, so I substituted some thinly sliced daikon, along with the fresh snow peas, carrots, bok choy and some sliced scalllions. (I did find the white miso at that store so have added that to my ingredients on hand for future soups, too).. And twice shopping and forgetting to buy the tofu, I used some lean cooked chicken instead. Made for a real tasty, nutritious soup for yesterday, with leftovers for lunch today — good for these cold winter days.. Then headed out for a 6+ mile walk in today’s cold weather – but was fun, as Roseanne joined me on this one and egged me on past my normal 4+ miles – such a bright, sunny, clear chilly afternoon…. not too breezy cold till the last 1/2 mile. And yes, I will be making your soup recipe again! Thanks!

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Ginny,
        Great substitutes. You can add miso to stir-fry, stew and salad dressing too, boost both the flavor and nutrition. Yesterday was so frigid, more power to you for walking 6+ miles.

  20. The lotus root soup looks really delicious.
    What a surprise to see the cat on the walkway!

  21. Dear Norma,

    It looks pretty cold at your neck of the woods whilst we are having summer beach weather here 🙂 That kind of soup is definitely what I would be cooking up over the next few weeks after all the indulgence over Christmas and new year.

    Wishing you and your family a great 2013!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello ChopinandMysaucepan,
      It was pleasant the day of the hike, but the following 2 days were bitterly cold and windy. Warmer weather is forecasted for next week, looking forward.
      You sure had some indulgence over Christmas and New year but such fun with all the different cultures mingling together.

  22. I think we are all in a similar situation from the nibbles and bites from the last couple of months. You walk and soup sound like a great way to start off the year.

  23. Hi Norma, happy New Year to you, dear friend! I agree with you, all those sweets over-consumed during the holidays added to my waist line an inch, and walk is a perfect way to start shading it off. Although, soup is more desirable to me right now…

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Marina,
      Soup is ideal for the kind of weather we are having, however, we are going to have a “heat wave” starting tomorrow, may get up to the low 40’s. Hope I can maiantain my good start.

  24. After that cold hike I would love to sit down for a cozy bowl of your comforting soup. I love lotus root and now is the season. Take care, BAM

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      I am envious, you can get such good quality lotus roots. Locally, even in season, it is hit or miss for me, so friends bring it back from NYC when they visit.

  25. A hike is a great way to start the new year, and what fun with company like Cheeto!
    I’m intrigued by the lotus root. I have never tried it! Looks delicious!

  26. What a fabulous way to start the New Year. For years now, like maybe 20 years, I’ve gone on a hike on New Years Day. This year we were in the mountains, so I went for a snowshoe instead 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful year!

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