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

Winter Wrap-Up + Snowday Cookies

It’s March and winter won’t let go! Yesterday we had ice and snow and today the snow has stayed because it’s so cold. That is not normal this time of year. It seems all I’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to stay warm! I’ve been gravitating towards warm, comfort foods and vitamin C packed citrus. (Oh and the snow day prompted me to bake cookies!)

My yoga student brought me some oranges and grapefruits fresh from an organic grove. I’ve been cutting way back on fruit since following my lean meal plan, but I couldn’t not try these. I split the grapefruit in half, sprinkled a small amount of brown sugar on top, and broiled for 3-4 minutes to let the sugar caramelize.

broiled grapefruit

It was so good and juicy! The oranges were like candy and I limited myself to 2 of those.

I’ve also been enjoying healthy bowls of food for simple lunches and dinners. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of this, he likes a knife and fork,  but I love the idea of throwing everything together in a bowl and sprinkling with nutritional yeast. It’s simple and easier to clean up. I start with rice or a grain, then add a protein, and top with cooked veggies. I’ve made this with tempeh and tahini and called it a “Buddha Bowl” 

Buddha Bowl

Lola got a spring haircut a bit too early. She is shaved down to a slick coat and it’s still pretty cold out, but I think she loves it- her energy level is way up and she’s acting like a puppy. She’s been curling up with us on the furniture whenever possible as if she knows how cute she looks.

Peke haircut

The ultimate snowy day activity for me is baking! I have not baked in a long time and yesterday it was so fun to make these chocolate chip/oatmeal/peanut butter cookies.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Recipe:
1/4 stick butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 peanut butter, 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, 2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut.

Mix all wet ingredients, add flour, coconut, chips and oats. Drop on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 375.

They are SO good and I love that there is no white sugar or white flour in them. Check out my other healthy cookie recipe for Tahini Cookies 

Enjoy!

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

Clean Turkey Chili

It’s cold. Everywhere. The holidays are over and normal activity has returned. Here is a super simple recipe to make for a winter’s night meal that will not get you off track of your clean-eating meal plan. Start it early and let it cook while you go to the gym!

Clean Turkey Chili

Brown 1 lb Extra Lean ground turkey and 1/2 white onion in skillet.

In a slow cooker combine:

1 can no salt kidney beans

1 can no salt crushed tomatoes

1 can no salt tomato sauce

Add browned meat/onion mixture

Stir in:

2 Tbs Chili powder

1 Tbs Cumin

1 Tbs Garlic Granules

Dash red pepper flakes, black pepper

Cook on high 3 hours. To cook longer (for more gym time) set to low.

Serve topped with plain greek yogurt if desired, or spoon over brown rice or quinoa for more complex carbs.

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!

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