Simple Chicken-Wild Rice Soup

I like simple things. Simple food, simple exercise, and simple recipes. I don’t like: trendy, complicated work-outs, exhausting preparation in the kitchen, or weird food on menus of restaurants that are trying too hard. No Thanks, I don’t want to try “Pad-Thai Ice-Cream” no matter how real it tastes.

I think when food gets too mixed up, we lose the point that food is fuel and can be enjoyed in it’s natural state. When we make food into an emotional experience, that’s when the problems start. I like to taste the real-ness of the food, not someone’s idea of what it should taste like. I go light on condiments and seasoning and I cook things that I can still recognize when they are finished. When I am craving simple comfort I make this easy, nourishing, Chicken Soup. which is very similar to my Stay Well Soup.

I started by boiling a 3-4 pound hen and adding fresh herbs. I picked what was in my garden which at this time of year is Rosemary, and then snipped some fresh Thyme that I have growing in the house. I added onion, dried dill, black pepper, and garlic. After about an hour, remove hen and let cool enough to remove meat from bones. It should basically fall off.

Slow Cooked Chicken

Save broth and add chopped carrots and celery. Bring to a low simmer until veggies are soft. Place meat back in pot and continue to cook. Add any other seasonings you wish at this point. I am staying away from salt so I used Mrs. Dash.

Chicken Broth

Add chicken meat to soup and let simmer.

homemade chicken soup

Next cook wild rice in 2 parts water, 1 part rice. Bring to boil, cover, let steam for 30 minutes or until rice is soft. Add rice to chicken soup.

WIld Rice with Soup

I added in some fresh baby spinach near the end to give it some green and vitamin C.

Simple. Delicious. Nourishing.

chicken wild rice soup

Check out my vegan broccoli soup here

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Herb Stuffed Turkey

I know Thanksgiving is over and everyone is probably tired of turkey but not me. I’ve eaten so much chicken and fish in the last 8 weeks that my holiday turkey was a welcome change. And I don’t want to wait for a whole year to make a turkey again, why do we do that? It’s such a great source of lean protein with a richer flavor than chicken. Plus I love the fact that I can eat it for about 4 days and it still tastes just as good.

I made a clean version using fresh herbs from my garden and some lemons. Super simple!

1. Wash and remove any extras from the bird including plastic bag with giblets.

2. Pat dry and place in a large baking pan.

3. Stuff bird with a bouquet of fresh herbs, stem first. I used about 10 stalks of rosemary but thyme, oregano, and sage would also be really good.

Herb Stuffed Turkey

4. Place one lemon cut in half inside next to herbs. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over bird and sprinkle skin with garlic, herbs de provence and cracked black pepper.

5. Cover with foil and place in 350 oven for about 3-4 hours depending on size of turkey, mine was 12 lbs. Read the instructions on the packaging for accurate cooking time. I also watched the little pop-up thingy that comes up when it’s done. Remove foil for last 20 minutes to allow skin to brown slightly.

roasted turkey with herbs

The lemon and herbs gave the meat a nice, subtle flavor without overpowering it.

I  found this magic wand of brussell sprouts at TJ’s and roasted them with olive oil after using it to cast a spell  on my chihuahua. But she still barks.

brussel sprouts wand

All in all it was a  relaxed day with very little over-indulgence. I am not as tempted anymore to go crazy over foods that I once thought to be “forbidden”.  It’s amazing how our bodies really want to be treated and fed well and reward us with health, energy, and vitality.

8 Weeks of Clean Eating

As my 8 weeks of clean-eating is coming to a close I am anxiously awaiting my next bod-pod test. I took my first test October 1st and got an accurate reading of my muscle mass, body weight, and fat percentage, none of it where I wanted it to be for my age and activity level. This led me to following a protein rich meal plan that upped my metabolism, while cutting back on fiber-filled empty calories. In 2 days I will know how my efforts have paid off. In the meantime here are some random thoughts on the last 8 weeks….

1. There’s only so much you can do with chicken breasts. I baked, grilled, marinated, sauteed, and pan-seared. I used herbs, vinegar, lemon juice, and lots of hot sauce. But at the end of the day- chicken is chicken- get used to it and embrace the bird.

grilled chicken breasts

2. Kitchen confidence is a huge side-effect of clean-eating. I feel I could successfully cook for a family of 12 now. As much cooking, preparing, and shopping as I’ve done for just me, I am now confident I could handle any amount of people at any given meal-time.

3. Oatmeal turned into a decadent treat. With no sugar, honey, or sweeteners for the last 8 weeks my morning oats, warm with cinnamon and berries, began to taste like a heavenly dessert. I looked forward to breakfast everyday for the warm, gooey, spicy, naturally sweet goodness of my oatmeal.

healthy breakfast

4. Greek yogurt is a great mayo replacement. I made a killer lean tuna salad with water packed tuna, plain greek yogurt, dill, and lemon juice. The more it marinated, the “creamier” it got and I never once wished for mayo.

5. With so much shopping, I feel very at home in my neighborhood grocery. My car seemed to automatically park where it knew it should, my feet led the way to the greens, the chicken, the tuna, and the eggs every 4 days. The clerks began to recognize my parsnips and quit asking what they were.

6. If you don’t like structure, you will not enjoy clean eating for very long. If you are an “eat on the run” type, or grab whatever whenever the mood hits you, you will have trouble sticking with the timed meals of this plan. I ate almost on the dot every day at the same times and I happened to love the structured routine of this. It took the indecisiveness out of what and when to eat.

7. Progress comes slooooowly. I had to stop checking the mirror every day to see if my abs were any more defined. I realize the body works at it’s own pace no matter how hard I willed things to “change”. Change happens on it’s own whether we are monitoring it or not.

farm fresh eggs

8. Real food is really simple. Meat, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, oats, berries. This was my diet for the last 2 months. There was no stevia, mixes, protein powders, syrups, breads, spreads, soups, chips, or bars. It was food made to eat with a fork and a knife as my boyfriend says. No finger foods, no wrappers or containers. Simple. Satisfying. Energizing.

Results and photos coming soon!

Meal Prepping 101

People want to know exactly what I do to prepare for the week on my 6 week meal plan. Having healthy, prepared meals ready to eat is the key to keeping on track with clean eating. You will need to set aside a block of time in your week that you can devote to organizing a list, shopping, cooking, and containing your meals for the week. I do mine on Sunday but it doesn’t have to be, it’s whatever works for your schedule. It shouldn’t take anymore than 2 hours once you figure out a rhythm.

Here are a few tips that work for me:

-Plan and write out your meals for the week, write down your grocery list before going to the store. Be sure to include lean protein, complex carbs, fresh produce

-Divide meat/fish into 3 days servings, cook enough for 3 days and store the rest in freezer

-Buy large container of medium size eggs (30 count) for the best value

-Buy in bulk when available: tuna, oats, olive oil, brown rice, quinoa, frozen berries, frozen meat

-Do all the cooking at one time while your oven is heated. Ex: bake sweet potatoes and root vegetables while you’re baking chicken or fish.

Today I did chicken with root vegetables, fish, greens, and sweet potatoes all at the same time. My oven was packed!

healthy cooking

For the baked chicken I surrounded the breasts with the veggies and sprinkled some herbs de provence, garlic, and lemon pepper. After covering with foil I baked for 1 hour at 375 . I turned off the oven and let it sit for 30 more minutes. This makes it very juicy!

baked chicken with root veggies

More tips:

-Bake 4-6 sweet potatoes at a time, plain, pierced with fork and wrapped in foil. Store in fridge for easy access. Keep cooked meat tightly covered in fridge

-Keep measuring cups out on counter for oatmeal and brown rice servings. Use the “palm” rule to measure your protein serving. The serving should be no larger than the size of your palm.

-Keep greens sealed in the produce drawer and don’t wash until before cooking. Cooked kale/spinach can be kept for 2 days before getting soggy

I roast broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus with a little olive oil in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes or until it begins to get golden.

roasted greens

-Have fresh garlic, white onions, and fresh lemons on hand for seasoning.

-Have adequate supply of small serving containers to pack lunches, keep lids and containers together.  Also have plenty of aluminum foil, regular and heavy duty.

I bake/steam one large fillet of cod or salmon with lemon juice, dill, onion, and lemon pepper in a 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. This can be divided into 2 meals.

baked salmon

-Prepare lunch the night before and keep in fridge

You may have to make an additional trip to the store during the week to stock up on fresh produce or meat. At least until you figure out how much to buy. It takes effort to eat like this but the pay-off is so much greater than the time spent.

For more info on clean eating and nutrition counseling visit me at www.createwholehealth.com

“Food is Fuel” Week 2

I am two weeks into my 6 week meal plan and I feel really amazing! I have lots of energy, I feel much stronger at the gym and I am still sleeping so much better. Have I noticed any visual changes yet? No, and that can be frustrating, but I am not the most patient person in the world. Ask my boyfriend if you don’t believe me.

I feel like I am feeding 4 teenage boys with all the cooking I am doing for myself.  I cook on Sunday nights and usually again on Wednesday. I am learning to add more sweet potatoes in my initial batch because they keep great in the fridge. Chicken breasts I only do 4 at a time, but then those are gone in 2 days.

grilled chicken breasts

I stocked up on tuna packets and make a lean salad with tuna, hard-boiled egg white, lemon juice, dill, and mustard. It’s pretty tasty and tangy.

My  breakfasts look like this:

healthy breakfast

Spinach and tomato omelette and bowl of oats with berries and cinnamon. Sometimes I put a dash of vanilla in the for flavor, but I am enjoying the pure flavor of the foods without a lot of seasoning. I started adding avocado slices for healthy fats and to keep me full feeling for awhile.

Packing my meals to go when I have to has not been a problem either. The biggest surprise was last weekend on my “splurge” meal when I was supposed to eat whatever I wanted. I didn’t really have a craving for anything in particular except I wanted to try a new ice-cream shop everyone loves. I have not eaten junk in so long that nothing else seemed tempting. All I really miss is my beloved honey and homemade sweet treats.

My mind is so focused on treating my body well and feeding it what it needs to perform that the ice cream didn’t satisfy me. I am moving so far away from emotional eating and learning how my body absorbs and uses nutrients that I am losing interest in giving it sugar, heavy cream, artificial flavorings or color.

My typical meals look like this:

healthy meal

A protein, a green veggie, and a starch. Plus lots of water throughout the day and herbal tea. No weight loss or loose fitting clothes yet but I am looking forward to noticing some changes in the next 2 weeks for sure!

6 Weeks to Sleek Abs

I am 1 week in to a 6 week meal plan given to me by my favorite trainer- my boyfriend: the gym owner, the workout guru, the scientist, the muscle-whisperer. I wanted to amp up my workouts and training and needed to know where to start so I got tested in a bod-pod which accurately measures body mass/ fat/muscle ratio. The results showed my body fat percentage was much higher than I expected. My muscle mass ratio needs to come up and my body fat will balance out with that. Because I’m a capricorn and love to have a goal, my goal is to lower my body fat by 5%.

What’s funny is I already had started the new eating plan before I knew all that. It proves once again that we know instinctively what our bodies need and crave. Bottom line was I wasn’t eating enough.I was snick-snacking all day long on lovely little sweet treats that I whipped up and wrote about. I was eating tons of great vegetables that were filling me up but not satisfying my body’s needs.  I definitely wasn’t getting enough protein; the building block of muscles, tissue, and cell growth.

5470_492991497434797_2037558559_n

As hard as I like to train at the gym I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. This sounds like an infomercial for some pills or something but the real answer is in how we choose to fuel our bodies. So here’s what I’ve started doing to change my eating patterns:

– I eat 5-6 smalls meals a day keeping my metabolism fired up

– I include lean protein, complex carbs, and veggies in most of those meals

grilled chicken spinach salad

– I stopped eating empty calories (for now) in the form of sugar, flour, or cheese

– I also cut way back on fruits to decrease my sugar intake

– I am balancing my protein intake with my workouts so I eat more protein on the days I’m training

– I get my carbs/protein from real food sources, not shakes or powder

Week one was a lot of work. Lots of shopping, cooking, prepping, and storing meals to grab and go. Now that I have a pattern down this week will be a bit easier. Surprisingly, I am eating often but I still always have an appetite. My body is digesting the food easily and converting it to fuel. I have lots of energy and strength and my sleep is so much better for some reason.

I am learning ways to be creative with chicken and fish but usually just grill or steam them. Clean food is best when not messed with too much. Sweet potatoes are my sweet comfort sprinkled with cinnamon sans the coconut manna. My old standby breakfast of  oatmeal is without honey and nuts (for now) and truth is I don’t even miss it anymore. Eggs are also a staple in my day.

I’m excited to see how else my body and mind continue to adjust to this new pattern.

Amazing Buckwheat Waffles

This Sunday is my last Sunday to post to WordPress so please be sure and sign up by email if you’re not already to keep getting my lovely posts delivered to you. My new website will be up very soon and this blog will continue there!

Last night I did something I haven’t done in a very long time- I stayed out late. I was shocked to see how many people were out at midnight running around, dressed up, full of energy, and mostly drinking. How quickly I’ve forgotten that lifestyle. I am so happy when I get to go to bed early! This morning started slowly and I was craving something hearty so I made these buckwheat waffles. I was SO HAPPY with how they turned out- thick, fluffy, and grainy- just how I like them.

buckwheat waffle

I started with 1/2 cup of whole buckwheat in the blender until finely ground. Add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, cinnamon.

To the dry ingredients I added: 1 egg, about a cup of almond milk, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1 tablespoon honey. It was still thick so I added a smidge of olive oil and a few drops of water.

They took a long time and a lot of steam was coming out of the waffle iron so I knew they were going to be nice and dense. I topped with my usual fruits, organic syrup, walnuts, and greek yogurt.

buckwheat waffles

Was this enough of a Sunday breakfast though? Where was the protein?

I whipped up an 8 egg omelette with chicken, spinach, tomatoes, and cheese. I used feta and sprinkled cheddar on my man’s since he is lifting heavy and wanting to add calories.

cheese omelette

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I ended up only eating half of my waffle because they were so thick and dense. Next time I will make a smaller size rather than filling the whole iron with batter.

buckwheat waffles

I work with some people who are afraid of grains and carbs. They think “This will make me fat” or “Carbs will lead to weight gain” but nothing could be further from the truth. Simple carbs like sugar, processed foods, crappy packaged snacks, and diet food will do that but not good quality whole grains and vegetables. Whole grains are fiber and keep us feeling full! Carbs are fuel that we need for energy. Energy = Movement = Calories burned and muscles built.

Don’t be afraid to try new grains in your diet. The caramel colored “whole wheat” bread in most grocery stores just doesn’t cut it. Some of my favorite whole grains are buckwheat, oat groats, steel cut oats, whole oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

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