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

Sexy Sunday Omelette

What’s not to love about a Sunday morning? The slow awakening, the lingering in bed, staying in pajamas until we feel like it, the breakfasts……Oh the breakfasts are the BEST part of my Sunday morning!

buckwheat waffles

During the week my breakfast is the same every morning: Oatmeal with berries and cinnamon and 5 egg whites with spinach and avocado. I follow my clean-eating meal plan pretty strictly during the week so on Sundays I like to mix it up a little bit and take my time in the kitchen. Cooking in pajamas is sexy, right?

I still want my protein and carbs but every once in awhile I will have a delicious buckwheat waffle or pancakes as a treat. Or maybe even a mimosa if it’s a very special Sunday.

Today I made a lovely, high protein, chicken, spinach, and feta cheese omelette. I started by placing 1 cut up grilled chicken breast in a heated skillet.

grilled chicken

I used 10 eggs, but only 3 yolks. This was for 2 people. Just typing this I realize how much food we put away together. You may not want/need 10…..

eggs

Add about 1 and 1/2 cups baby spinach to chicken and stir over medium heat just until spinach begins to wilt.

spinach chicken omelette

Add egg mixture, black pepper, garlic granules and cover to steam for 5 minutes.

spinach chicken omelette

Add crumbled feta cheese and re-cover. I only used about 1/3 cup. I use cheese very sparingly, if at all. It’s a treat and not something that I need in my daily food intake.

Flip omelette over after edges begin to brown and firm up.

spinach omelette

Cook thoroughly with pan covered until firm and fluffy!

spinach cheese omelette

I served this with sliced white and sweet potatoes browned in coconut oil- YUM!

Comforting Spinach Stuffed Shells

Comfort food is traditionally eaten food (which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it),[1] or simply provides the consumer a familiar meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories, nutrients, or both. (wikipedia)

Hopefully being with family evokes feelings of nostalgia and comfort. When my sister visited this weekend so we could plan my mom’s upcoming birthday party, I definitely must’ve been craving comfort food. I wanted to cook a big Sunday dinner with no regards to counting calories and watching ingredients. I managed to keep it simple, yet still comforting with these savory, stuffed shells.  This recipe is not complicated but always impressive! Great for leftovers too.

Boil Jumbo Shell Pasta until soft. Not too soggy, but firm. Drain and let cool.

Jumbo Shell Pasta

Prepare sauce by browning meat (I used ground turkey), onion, garlic, tomato sauce, and spices. I added a little red wine and a tiny bit of agave to the sauce.

red sauce

In a large bowl combine 1 container ricotta cheese, 1/2 container cottage cheese, 1 egg, dash of nutmeg, and 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach. Mix well. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and mix well.

ricotta cheese stuffingUsing a small spoon, stuff each shell with cheese filling and set in a large rectangular oiled baking dish.  Line shells closely together, “stuffed” side up.

stuffed shells

Spoon meat sauce over shells evenly.

stuffed shells with meat sauce

Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

stuffed shells

Cheese should be melted and edges beginning to crisp

stuffed shells

3 or 4 shells are a good serving size so this is good for a large group. I don’t eat like this often, but I love cooking this when I get the chance. Vary the ingredients by adding other chopped vegetables to the cheese or make vegetarian by skipping the meat.

spinach stuffed shells

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

Quinoa Spinach Patties

I found this recipe while doing one of my favorite mindless pastimes- Pinterest! Hard to believe I have found yet another thing to keep me on my computer but unlike other social media, It can be very relaxing and dare I say- inspirational!  I choose to pin healthy recipes, fitness tips, motivational quotes, and cool houses. It’s my little way of relaxing and daydreaming. I have found TONS of great healthy recipes on there.

This recipe is super easy and the end result makes you look like a fancy chef!

quinoa spinach feta patties

I love the thought of protein packed quinoa mixed with dark leafy greens for a great nutritional pairing.

The lemon dill sauce is divine too on other things like chicken or fish.  Prepare sauce before making patties so that it has time to chill and marinate.

Lemon Dill sauce:

1 cup plain greek yogurt

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon fresh lemon

1 tablespoon dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh dill

1 clove minced garlic

Mix well and refrigerate.

Quinoa/Spinach/Feta Patties

3 cups cooked quinoa

fluffy quinoa

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

fresh spinach

1/2 white onion

3 garlic cloves

1 egg

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup ww bread crumbs

Cook onion, garlic, spinach in olive oil over low heat until soft.  Add to cooked quinoa and bread crumbs.

Add one beaten egg and feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Shape quinoa mixture into small balls and press lightly into pan to form patties. Mine were a little bigger than a golf ball.

Let cook until golden on each side.

Serve warm topped with sauce.

Stewed Okra w/Tomatoes and Kale

I bought my first okra of the season last week at the local farmers market; the purple and green variety, along with some cherry tomatoes of various hues. See more CUTE veggies here

okra

cherry tomatoes

I didn’t have a plan of action other than stewing together with some onion.

I started with that basic plan and added several cloves of chopped garlic.

sauteed okra

After adding chopped tomatoes, I let it cook on low for a bit to get nice and stewy (not sure that is a word?)

stewed okra and tomatoes

Then I got creative and added some kale that was sitting in the fridge. This mixed right in with the stew-ish-ness of the okra and tomato combo.

kale

I was missing protein and didn’t want meat, so I added some red beans I had pre-cooked and put in the freezer. Not quite sure how this would turn out, I gambled the whole dish on this one additional ingredient.

stewed okra/tomato/kale reciipe

I added some spices: chili powder, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes.

After a good 20 minutes of low heat stewing, I served over brown rice.

stewed okra recipe

Substantial. Hearty. Healthy. That’s how I would describe this mash-up. What I liked the best was that I got my complex carbs, my greens, and my protein all in one dish. So simple!

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