One Pot Chicken Noodle Soup!

There is just something about a bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold, dreary day.  I am not talking about a bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, either.  Even though I have consumed my share of the the canned soup as a child, I have decided to move on from the “easy” to the “excellent” for the health of me and my family.  Just one glance at the ingredient list on the back of the canned soup will convince you that it is time to MOVE ON. Let me just mention a few:

As much as I like to prepare excellent, nourishing food – I like it to be easy to prepare as well.  I found this recipe and loved the fact that it was crock-pot based.  I have made it in my crock-pot and I have made it in my dutch oven, depending on my schedule for the day.

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Stuffed Pepper Soup

Inexpensive, healthy, “stretchable,” dinners are what I am all about.  I was tickled to come across this recipe one day when browsing Pinterest.   I do admit, I was not a fan of stuffed peppers growing up, but have come to really like them as an adult.  My kids let out the same moan that I did when they see stuffed peppers placed on the dinner table but that is OK – they are not going to like everything I make and it is a great way to combine veggies, protein and a healthy complex carbohydrate.  I was intrigued by this idea of creating a soup that would contain all the elements of the whole stuffed pepper, especially because it seemed less labor intensive (bonus!)  The first time I made this soup, I followed the recipe very closely – just replacing the brown rice with brown basmati rice and I did not use lean ground beef, rather I used local grassfed ground beef which is higher in fat but it is a healthy fat (conventional raised cattle would not result in the same healthy fat.)  Also, I was fortunate enough to have some homemade chicken stock available rather than boxed chicken broth.  The second time I made this I made the same changes but omitted the chicken stock altogether.  This was not intentional…I didn’t even catch my mistake until looking over the recipe later that evening as I considered adding it to my blog.  It made sense though, I had thought that the soup seemed a lot thicker the second time around — more of a chili consistency.  I liked it just as much without the chicken stock (or broth) and would consider making it that way again.  However, adding chicken stock does help it to stretch further and gives it the true soup consistency.  

Ingredients: Continue reading

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Banana Maple Muffins

Three browning bananas.  Only one egg.  Out of sucanat.  Oh no.  I was planning on making my go-to banana bread tonight and realized that I am short on eggs and out of my sweetener.   Time to experiment and cross my fingers.  I found this recipe and saw that it was possible to create a baked banana bread given my circumstances.  I got excited and I got out my mixer.  I took the base recipe and tweaked it.  I used white whole wheat flour, I used an extra banana, added coconut oil, cinnamon, dark chocolate chips and made some other minor adjustments as you will see below.  I chose to make muffins as they are nice and portable for the kids lunches or to grab and go.  I was quite pleased with the end product and very pleased that I was able to use maple syrup as a sweetener!!!  I love that white sugar does not dictate whether I can bake some good ole’ muffins!

As a last second decision, I threw in a 1/4 cup of chia seeds, just to see what would happen.  I wasn’t sure if it would have negative affect on the end product but I am happy to report their addition is awesome!  You see, I have been somewhat fascinated with chia seeds of late, as a lot of people are.  I bought some a few weeks ago, not knowing exactly what to do with them.  I had read about their benefits, including the omega 3 aspect, that they help balance blood sugar, and are a great source of a complete protein.  (they also help you feel full longer and may stave off snacking…)  Until now I had just been throwing some into my yogurt and smoothies but hadn’t used them for any baked goods.

Preheat oven to 350º Continue reading

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Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Old habits die hard, right?  Well, people don’t really stop bad habits, they merely replace one habit with another — hopefully a good habit rather than bad.  If someone stops biting their nails, they start cracking their knuckles or if someone stops smoking, they may start eating more, or if someone stops cursing they may begin gnawing on their lip.  You get the picture.  Well, a bad habit of mine was baking — baking goodies with refined sugars, refined flours and vegetable oils.  My family enjoyed my habit because it resulted in goodies for them but now that I have stopped using white sugar, white flour and vegetable oils, I have drastically cut back on baking.  My family has suffered.  If you can call it that.  Maybe, in actuality they were suffering before and didn’t know it because they were not nourishing their bodies with my baked goods.   However, they still tasted good and I know my family misses the yumminess.   Over the last few months I have tried experimenting with blueberry muffins, banana bread and brownies in hopes to recreate the familiar taste with more whole ingredients.  I have had some successes and some complete failures.  Today I wanted to embark on a more wholesome chocolate chip cookie.  My previous habit was to follow the recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip package.   Therefore, I needed to replace that habit with a new one — with nutritious ingredients.  I am thoroughly intrigued with the use of honey and maple syrup as sweeteners in just about anything and also the use of the ever-awesome coconut oil in whatever I can.  It seems like every day more good news come out about the consumption of coconut oil.   I found a recipe that indeed used honey and maple syrup as sweeteners so I knew it was possible.  The cookies turned out very thin, they spread a lot — probably because of the coconut oil — but they taste really good.   My one son grabbed one off the cooling rack and took a bite and said, “yum, these are good!”  I think he was surprised because it tasted very similar to the cookies I made before my change of habits…

Ingredients Continue reading

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Wholesome Beef-A-Roni for the Kid in All of Us!

I am ever in search of easy dinners.  I love meals with simple ingredients – the fewer the better…honestly.  I recently stumbled upon a pin that caught my eye as a great dinner option!  I made it tonight and tweaked it just slightly and the finished product was so reminiscent of my childhood “beef-a-roni” that I wanted to share it with you!  It is great to find a recipe that rustles up warm cozy feelings of childhood and yes, some of my warm cozy feelings are directly attributed to good ole’ Chef Boyardee.   Canned ravioli, spagettios or beef-a-roni were a staple in my household growing up.  I loved the nights my parents would go out on a date because it meant eating dinner from a can.  Now, my mom and dad have really changed their eating habits over the years and quite honestly, in the 80’s, very few people knew that this canned goodness was really not so.  However, I think back fondly on my dinners of ravioli, spagettios or beef-a-roni and I am thrilled to now be able to re-create it in a more wholesome way!  I also love this because it is a one pot meal.  Fry up the ground beef and onions in your dutch oven or stock pot and then throw in the remainder of the ingredients!  If you are using grassfed beef, don’t bother draining the fat from the ground beef because it is good for you!

  • 2 lbs grassfed ground beef
  • 1 large organic sweet onion; chopped
  • 3.5 – 4 cups water
  • 30oz can  crushed organic tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp organic soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of macaroni noodles
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Curried Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt

The busyness of spring sports makes healthy dinners hard to come by.  Many nights are “eat and run,” and I admit I have fallen victim to Subway hoagies a couple of nights already.   Creating quick, portable meals that have some semblance of “healthy” is difficult.  Due to early practices, I often eat my dinner at the practice because I don’t want to eat dinner at 4:30 or wait until 7:30.  Also, I need to consider making a meal that doesn’t need to stay hot because my husband and my other son will eat later while I and my soccer player are at practice.  Not to mention it needs to be “light enough” that my soccer player can eat it before practice without feeling stuffed.  Phew!  A lot of criteria to consider!  I have relied on egg salad sandwiches and roast beef wraps in the past but wanted to expand my horizons on this front.  Due to the success of my egg salad made with Greek yogurt, I ventured onto chicken salad using Greek yogurt and I have to say….I think I like it even better than the egg salad!  The first time I made chicken salad, it was really plain – just chicken, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper.  My husband pointed this out to me (very lovingly, of course.)  I acknowledged the lack of excitement in the chicken salad and said I would do better next time.   So — here is better!

1 lb of chicken thighs*; boiled and shredded Continue reading

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Cucumber Tomato Onion Salad – The Taste of Summer

This has to be one of the easiest side salads ever!  I love this because it is so simple yet tastes so good.  The taste of this is pure summer.  I know we are still in spring, technically, but I don’t care.  I am making hamburgers for dinner tonight (from local grassfed ground beef) and this side salad is the perfect complement.  Did I mention how pretty it is?  The ingredients can vary in amounts based on personal preference and the oils / vinegars used can be swapped as well.  I have seen people make it with balsamic, apple cider, or just plain white vinegar.  I happened to have white balsamic vinegar that I like so I used it.

Ingredients:

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Dark Chocolatey Gluten-Free Mini Muffins

Chocolate.  I am pretty much obsessed with it.  If there is anyway that I can incorporate it into a healthy snack, I will.  I created these chocolate mini muffins to satisfy my desire for something bite-size (or two bites if you have restraint,) chocolate and rich.  These meet the requirements.  One added bonus is that these are gluten-free!  We are not a gluten-free family, but I have made great strides in reducing our gluten intake by purchasing sprouted bread and just consuming less grains overall.  Also, I know several people in my family and friends that prefer gluten-free foods so I thought this would be helpful!  These are very rich – a glass of raw milk is a must when consuming these. 🙂

Pre-heat the oven to 350° Continue reading

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Crunchy Granola Bars

I admit, I went through a “phase” where I pretty much lived on granola bars.  I loved granola bars.  There were quick, easy, and somewhat low in calories so when I was in the “calorie-counting” trap, a “less than 150 calorie snack” was mega-important.  If I was running out the door to go grocery shopping, pick up the kids, run to the office, I grabbed a granola bar.  Being a busy mom, I didn’t take time to eat a real meal.  I rarely sat the dining room table to eat lunch.  My husband constantly teased me for not taking time to eat a real meal at lunch time.  Food to me was merely a necessity (not a pleasure) and if I could get it in the form of a individually wrapped, organic granola bar – rock on!  However, in our transition to a whole foods based lifestyle, gone were the boxed, individually wrapped bars of convenience.  Even the organic granola bars had too much sugar and questionable ingredients.  I quickly learned that just because it said “organic” on the box, it didn’t get a free pass into my stomach.  I have learned to think ahead and plan quick meals, even on the go (I usually grab an apple when really pressed for time) and have weaned myself off of granola bars all together.  However, my husband misses them too.  He likes crunchy granola bars.  I like to make him happy so I made it a priority to find a recipe that would create healthy, low sugar granola bars the he can enjoy with his lunch or as a quick snack.  My mom sent me a recipe recently that I thought looked really promising.  Just a few tweaks and I knew I would have a winner.  I have made these twice.  The first time I baked them too long and they were really crunchy and falling apart so I reduced the baking time the second time around.  The second batch turned out better – less crumbly (but not perfect.)  I don’t mind a little crumbliness.  After cutting up the cooled bars, I scooped up the leftover crumbs, put them in little bowls and gave them to my sons to snack on.  If you are looking for granola bars sans crumbs, these may not be the right ones for you.  If you don’t want crumbs, look for a chewy granola bar recipe which would probably be a better fit.  As you can see in my picture below, I was able to get nice squares cut despite the crumbliness.

Ingredients: Continue reading

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Finally….Fantasticall-y Fudge-y Brownies!

Finally!  I have been on a search for yummy brownies for weeks now!  I have been unable to bake a from-scratch brownie, with healthy ingredients, without them tasting like cardboard.  Whole wheat flour just doesn’t work.  I tried.  It doesn’t.  Sure, I could make tasty brownies from scratch if I was willing to use lots of refined white flour and white sugar – I know because I have made these before.  Yes, they are super tasty but also really unhealthy so I refuse to make them again.  I was given a recipe from a friend that she had found in one of her Clean Eating magazines and it was a great springboard for my recipe.  I swapped a couple ingredients out to match my personal preferences and it worked wonderfully.  I think part of the problem is that my family and I are so trained to expect brownies to taste like Duncan Hines, that anything that doesn’t taste like it came out of a box is automatically bad.  This shouldn’t be the case.  We shouldn’t measure the quality of food against boxed junk.  What gives boxed brownies their “good” taste? Continue reading

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