Tag Archive: recipe


Just two more days until my next weigh-in! I’m excited! I spent part of the morning watching videos of Chalene Johnson (Turbo Jam, TurboFire, ChaLEAN Extreme), Brett Hoebel (Biggest Loser, RevAbs), Tony Horton (Power 90, P90X, 10 Minute Trainer), Shaun T (Hip Hop Abs, Insanity) and more leading the Super Workout at Coach Summit in LA which is extremely motivating. Can’t wait for next year in Vegas!

11:00am 12oz water and 2 Beachbody Slimming Formula tablets

12:45pm Breakfast – I have really got to start doing better about eating right after I get up and BEFORE I get on the computer! Chocolate Shakeology made with 4oz water, 4oz 1% milk, 1 Tbs. natural peanut butter, 1 scoop Shakeology Fiber Boost and 3 ice cubes

3:00pm Snack – 1/2 large cucumber, sliced with 2 Tbs. Trader Joe’s hummus

4:00pm – 12oz water

6:00pm Lunch – 12oz water with 2 Slimming Formula tablets, Smothered chicken burritos. Here’s the “recipe” inspired by Sam the Cooking Guy. Love him!

1. Shred some rotisserie chicken (Costco has the best deal by far) I used 3 oz in my burritos

2. Warm the chicken and enchilada sauce on the stove – I used about 2c. sauce for the whole family – make sure there’s enough sauce so that after you take the chicken out there’s enough to spoon over the burritos

3. Heat tortillas in a dry skillet on medium until soft and pliable, about 20 seconds, flipping halfway through (don’t leave them in the skillet too long or they’ll become hard and difficult to deal with) – I used Mission flour tortillas for the family and whole wheat, low-carb, high fiber tortillas for mine. Let’s compare…200 calories for one regular tortilla or 80 calories and 12g fiber for one of the kind I used. Seems like a no-brainer to me. I had two which were fewer calories than one of the other. Why didn’t I give the same to my family? Because they taste like whole grain and getting them to eat stuff like that is a work in progress. Baby steps.

4. Put warm tortilla on a large plate and sprinkle the center with shredded cheese – I used part-skim mozzarella because that’s what we had. Monterey Jack would be great. I weighed out 2 oz for my whole plate and divided it between the two burritos and top.

5. Top the cheese with some of the shredded chicken. I used a fork and kind of pressed it against the inside of the pan so it wouldn’t be too saucy, leaving some of the sauce for the top.

6. Roll up the tortilla to make a burrito. I fold in the sides first, then fold the bottom up over the filling and continue rolling up.

7. Once you’ve made the burritos, place on each person’s plate, spoon the remaining sauce over the top, sprinkle with shredded cheese and shredded lettuce then top with some sour cream. I used 2 Tbs. and it was the light kind.

8:00pm 12oz water

8:05pm Was feeling really sleepy and knew I was in great danger of slipping into that mental state where I blow off my workout, finding a myriad of ways to rationalize it, so I went out for a walk/run.

9:30pm 12oz water

10:00pm Dinner – 12oz water and 2 Slimming Formula tablets, Chocolate Shakeology made with 4oz water, 4oz 1% milk, 1 scoop Shakeology Fiber Boost, a little mint extract and 3 ice cubes

12:30am Snack – 6oz Yoplait Light Blueberry and 10 raw almonds

Total calories consumed – 1343  Total calories burned – 2925

Protein – 116g, Carbs – 145g, Fat – 47g, Fiber – 52g

Water – 72oz

 BONUS – Photos from my walk. Please forgive me for getting so excited about pretty clouds, but when you live in a place that’s overcast 75% of the year seeing some blue sky and clouds that have actual shapes other than “blanket” is a big deal. Once the sun had gone down to the point where taking photos with my not-so-great camera was pointless I decided to try some running intervals again. This time I took the advice of a friend and payed more attention to being light on my heels. It made a huge difference and I found myself going farther each time. Instead of counting steps I looked ahead for a landmark and told myself I could make it…and I did. The last interval was even uphill and I went farther than my goal. Booyah!! LOL

It’s amazing how often we hold ourselves back from accomplishing things because we tell ourselves we can’t. We were watching a fascinating show on the Discovery channel earlier in the day about a man who, if you didn’t know what he was doing and you believed in that stuff, you’d swear was a psychic. He’s actually a professional mentalist and he did share a lot of what he was doing. In one part he was explaining how car salesmen use little “tricks” to get you to think a certain way and do certain things like buying a car you didn’t really want when you went in. He also gave tips on how to counteract what they’re doing so you can get the best deal.

Afterward, I was talking to my kids about how our minds are so pliable…so open to suggestion…and how we can actually use that on ourselves to our advantage. I gave the example of how Chalene Johnson does this in a very unsubtle way in her workout programs. She says things like, “Guess what? You’re not tired!” or “I know you saved some energy for me!” or simply “You can do this!” and you start to believe it. The next thing you know you’re pushing yourself harder than you ever thought you could and you are doing it…just like she said. We can tell ourselves things that will either hinder or help. I know I have been guilty of holding myself back with negative thoughts, but I’m learning just how powerful our thoughts and words really are. It’s a gift from God. We need to exercise our free will and use it to our advantage. We do not have to be victims of our circumstances. We can choose to believe that we are capable of so much more, even if no one around us believes it. If we say we can’t, guess what…we’re right because we won’t even try. We have to say we can, figure out how and do it. It’s 99% mental.

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So far this week there hasn’t been a day when I reached my goal for calories burned…4500. Yes, that’s a lot, but doable if you put in the time and effort. I came close one day. I’m hoping today will be the day. It will be interesting to see how much I burn doing ChaLEAN Extreme Lean Circuit 1. First day of the new phase and I’m excited! Of course I’ll be doing some TurboFire, too, because there’s just nothing else out there that burns as many calories per minute/hour…and in case you missed it before, it’s FUN!! I was thinking about how people spend hours on exercise machines like treadmills or ellipticals. Ugh. BORING!! I don’t care what music I’m listening to or what show I’m watching, it still doesn’t change the fact that the movement is the same. Over and over and over and over and…well, you get the picture. Makes me want to run screaming from the room. Not exactly the best way to change your body, either. Using the same muscles in the same way a bazillion times isn’t going to do much other than to get those muscles really used to doing that one thing. No thanks.

10:00am Breakfast (earlier than usual because we had an unexpected visitor show up at our door) – 10oz water,  2 Beachbody Slimming Formula tablets, Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz water, 1 scoop Shakeology fiber boost, 1 Tbs. natural peanut butter, 3 ice cubes

12:45pm Snack – 2 c. homemade minestrone soup – need to eat it up before it goes bad, the recipe made a lot!

3:30pm Snack – 1 1/2 blueberry oat pancakes leftover from the batch I made for the kids (meant to eat two, but my son wanted another one as I was halfway through the second…I was just pulling pieces off so he wasn’t grossed out) Here’s the recipe…

1 c. unbleached white flour (wanted to use whole wheat, but was out)

1/2 c. quick oats, dry

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbs. sugar (I’d love to try this recipe with Truvia)

1 1/2 c. skim milk (For thicker pancakes, reduce to 1 1/4 c.)

1 egg

2 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (or chopped strawberries)

Heat skillet on medium while mixing ingredients.

1. Wisk together the dry ingredients (flour through sugar)  in a large bowl.

2. Wish together the wet ingredients (milk through vanilla)  in a large measuring cup or bowl.

3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix quickly with wisk until just combined. Batter will be thin with lumps. DO NOT OVER MIX!!

4. Let batter sit for a few minutes until it begins to thicken.

5. Spray skillet with Pam and add batter (1/4 c. per pancake). Place blueberries (5-7) on each pancake and push down gently.

6. Carefully flip pancakes over when bubbles appear in the centers and edges are dry. Cook until bottoms are golden brown.

7. Serve immediately or keep warm in oven at lowest temperature until all pancakes are cooked.

Makes about 14 pancakes at about 80 calories each.

4:00pm WORKOUT! Yes, it’s that exciting. ChaLEAN Extreme Lean Circuit 1 (WOW! That is one serious workout! …and I thought the Push Phase was intense), TurboFire FIRE45 and FIRE30. The first 15 minutes of FIRE45 my muscles didn’t really want to do what I was asking them to, but then I felt great and finished strong. Drank 40oz water.

6:15pm Lunch – 10oz water and 2 Slimming Formula tablets, Chocolate Shakeology made with 4oz water, 4oz skim milk, 1 scoop Shakeology Fiber Boost, 1/2 c. frozen blueberries and 3 ice cubes – my new FAVORITE!!! Would it be too much to say that it was like heaven opened up and an angel came down and handed me a glass? Maybe, but you get the idea.

8:25pm Went out for a walk because I really, really wanted to burn those 4500 calories.

9:20 Back from walk. Would’ve stayed out longer, but didn’t want to make my husband nervous with me being out alone after dark. I say bring it on! Ha ha! 20oz water

10:15pm Dinner – a big, fat quesadilla made with a low-carb tortilla, 3oz cooked ground turkey with taco seasoning (left over from the other day’s burritos), about 3 Tbs. pico de gallo, 1 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese and 2 Tbs. light sour cream. 8oz water with 2 Slimming Formula tablets

11:15pm Checked my calories burned and was 500 short of my goal so I turned on Best in Show (love Netflix) and walked in place in front of the TV for 35 minutes. Seriously. Funny movie.

1:00am Final snack – 6oz Yoplait Light Harvest Peach and 10 whole almonds, 12oz water

Total calories consumed – 1455  Total calories burned (as of midnight) 4329 So close!! Should hit 4500 around 2am which is before I go to bed so I’m good with it.

Protein – 106g, Carbs – 178g, Fat – 46g, Fiber – 52g

Water – 100oz

You may be wondering if I ever get hungry eating 1500 calories a day or less and burning between 3500-4500. The answer is no, not when I’m eating every few hours and consuming a lot of fiber and plenty of protein. It’s all about making every calorie count.  Also, Shakeology really keeps me feeling full and gives me tons of energy. There’s no way I could do this without it.

I was still up at almost 4am and found myself frustrated about something. After much deliberation I turned to food for comfort like I have many, many, many times before. At least this time, because I still had my goal in mind, I chose somewhat healthier foods (as opposed to ice cream, candy and chips) and stopped myself before I had completely undone all the progress I’ve made. Also interesting to note is that this was the first day I hadn’t really worked out since starting this challenge. Sure I had walked for about 40 minutes, but that’s way different from doing ChaLEAN Extreme or TurboFire. Way different.

Early Morning Eating Binge – 8 pieces (yes, 8 more) imitation crab, 2 slices Kraft American cheese, about 5 corn puffs (the white cheddar kind from Trader Joe’s), a sip (maybe more like a gulp) of root beer, and 4 chocolate covered mini-pretzels

1:15pm (yes, you read that right…that’s when I woke up) Breakfast – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz water, 1 scoop Shakeology fiber boost, 1 tsp instant coffee granules and 3 ice cubes. Also had 12oz water with 2 Beachbody Slimming Formula tablets

4:00pm Snack – 2 c. homemade minestrone soup and 12oz water

6:20pm WORKOUT #1!! ChaLEAN Extreme Burn It Off and TurboFire FIRE55EZ then a short walk around the park while the boys kicked a soccer ball around. Why did I split up my workout? Because my family needed food so I threw together some dinner and baked it while we went outside. 36oz water.

7:45pm Snack/Post-workout – 1 scoop P90X Results & Recovery Formula with 10oz water

8:30pm Lunch (aka Dinner for the rest of the family) – 12oz. water and 2 Slimming Formula tablets, 4 c. shredded romaine lettuce with dressing made from 1 Tbs. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, 1 Tbs. light sour cream, 2 tsp skim milk and a pinch of chipotle seasoning. It’s from Knorr and comes in little cubes.1/8 of the Veggie and Cheese enchilada casserole thing I made from scratch. The plan was to make actual enchiladas, but this was much easier and faster. Here’s the recipe. The veggies I used were just what I had in the fridge. I think this would be very forgiving and you could use lots of different combos. It could also be great with green sauce.

2 c. red enchilada sauce

10 corn tortillas

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 zucchini, diced

1 broccoli crown, chopped

1 c. frozen corn

1 serving frozen sweet potato fries (84g)

8oz shredded cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella because that’s what I had, but low-fat Monterey Jack or cheddar would be good, too.)

salt, chili powder and garlic powder to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray 9×13 pan with Pam.

1. Heat large skillet to medium-high and add olive oil.

2. Add veggies, salt, chili powder and garlic powder (or fresh if you’re not lazy or in a big hurry like I was).

3. Cook veggie mixture until crisp-tender and a little browned. Meanwhile, start prepping the pan with enchilada sauce and half the tortillas by spreading 1/3 c. sauce in the bottom and covering with tortillas then another 1/3 c. sauce.

Nope, I didn’t heat the tortillas or coat them in sauce. Just put them in straight from the fridge. Easy.

4. Spread the veggie mixture evenly over the bottom layer of tortillas. I was trying to keep the calories low and didn’t want a bunch of tortillas so I just did one layer.

5. Cover the veggies with about 6oz of the shredded cheese. Save the rest for the top.

6. Cover with remaining 5 tortillas, the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

7.  Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes or until heated through. Mine stayed in the oven about 40 minutes because we were outside and the veggies ended up a little softer than I would’ve liked, but it was still good. If I had green onions and/or cilantro I would’ve sprinkled them over the top before serving for sure.

Each serving (1/8 of pan) had 11g protein, 29g carbs, 7g fat, 4g fiber and 215 calories.

10:15pm WORKOUT #2 – ChaLEAN Extreme Ab Burner (10 min.) and Recharge (20 min. stretch/yoga)

11:00pm Dinner – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz skim milk (organic as always), 1 scoop Shakeology fiber boost, a few drops mint extract and 4 ice cubes – tasted just like mint chocolate chip ice cream 🙂 12oz water and the last 2 Slimming Formula tablets

1:43am (now) – Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger tea with stevia already in the bag – 10oz

Total calories consumed – 1517  Total calories burned – 3530

Protein – 99g, Carbs – 200g, Fat – 41g, Fiber – 41g

Water – 100oz

Today could have been a total disaster or at least a wash with the extra calories from my early morning mishap, but by incorporating lots of veggies into the rest of the day I stayed full and kept the calories right where I wanted them. Yay veggies!!

It’s been a while, too long, since my last post. After I finished the TurboFire 5-Day Inferno with great results I pretty much lost my mind and all self-control. This has happened before. It’s definitely hormonal. I suppose I could’ve posted during the past week, but you know what they say…”If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” That’s the approach I chose this time around. But after basically hitting rock bottom (I’m talking eating half a loaf of garlic bread followed by I don’t even want to say how much ice cream and washing it all down with 3 cans of root beer, not diet) I am back in control.

Not only am I back in control, but I have a new goal. It’s a big one. So big, in fact, that I’m not even going to share it lest you think I’m still completely insane and not really in control at all. It’s something I know I can do, though, because working from home part-time gives me the time I need to accomplish it. And it’s about gosh-darn time, too! I’ve been working out, but not as consistently as I should and I’ve been watching what I eat, but not as diligently as I should so I haven’t seen the results I could have if I’d been more on top of things. I will say that this is the first time in my life that I’ve lost weight and not gained it all back plus some, but I would like to keep shrinking, not just maintain where I am.

So I have a plan and it’s a good one. It’s simple math, really. Burn more than you consume. I have a BodyBugg that tells me what I’ve burned and I just need to keep track of what I’ve consumed, making sure I eat enough, often enough, to keep my body from going into starvation mode. So here’s Day 1 of my new 2 month goal.

7:45am – 1 cup hot green tea

8:00am – 8oz water with two Beachbody Slimming Formula tablets (green tea and other natural metabolism boosters with no stimulants/ephedra – that stuff is bad news)

8:30am – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz skim milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 scoop Shakeology fiber boost, a dash of vanilla extract and 4 ice cubes

10:00am – 16oz water and weeding for 45 minutes

12:00pm – Turkey wrap made with an 80 calorie low-carb tortilla, 3 slices turkey, 1 tsp brown mustard, and 2 c iceberg lettuce

2:00pm – Nap time since I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before

4:30pm – 8oz water and 2 more Slimming Formula tablets

4:45pm – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz water, 1 Tbs almond butter, 1 scoop Shakeology fiber boost, and 4 ice cubes

5:00pm – Workout time! TurboFire Fire55EZ, Fire30 and ChaLEAN Extreme Push Circuit 2 – yep, 2 hours of working out – drank 40oz water

7:15pm – 1 scoop or half a serving of P90X Results & Recovery Formula mixed into 10oz water

7:45pm – 6oz Yoplait Light Harvest Peach because I knew it would be a while before I would eat dinner and I didn’t want my blood sugar to drop too much

10:15pm – Raspberry Zinger tea sweetened with stevia (Celestial Seasonings has tea bags with the stevia right in them – brilliant!!) and the last two Slimming Formula tablets for the day

10:30pm – 2 c homemade minestrone soup or something close to it topped with 1 Tbs grated parmesan cheese and some cayenne for a kick – Here’s the recipe…

Makes about 14 c

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 c celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

4 c zucchini, chopped (I quartered two lengthwise then cut into 1/2 chunks)

1 1/2 c Prego Heart Smart sauce

1 14.5oz can 33% lower sodium chicken broth (this could easily have been vegetable broth)

1 6oz can tomato paste

8 c water

1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15oz can white cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained

6 oz fresh or frozen spinach, chopped (I used fresh because that’s what I had)

3 oz whole wheat pasta shells, dry

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp parsley flakes

1 Tbs granulated garlic

2 tsp Kosher salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium-low then cook the onion, celery and fresh garlic until they begin to soften.

2. Add the zucchini, basil and parsley (or any other herbs you like) and continue cooking until zucchini begins to soften.

3. Add the broth, Prego sauce, tomato paste, drained beans, granulated garlic and water and bring to a slow boil on medium-high heat.

4. Stir in the whole wheat pasta and spinach, cover and turn down the heat to medium checking the pasta for “doneness” every few minutes. (It took 10 minutes for mine to be ready.)

5. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

11:30pm – P90X Wildberry protein bar – sort of a dessert, but gave me the last 20g of protein I needed for the day

Total calories – 1465

Protein – 114g, Fat – 32g, Carbs 208g, Fiber 57g

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I used to post a daily food journal. After a while I started to whine and complain about it and say that it was driving me crazy. Soon after, I began to slack off more and more, making adjustments to the way I posted and how often and now I just throw a recipe up every once in a while. Well, the reality is that I have a lifetime of bad eating habits to deal with and I need the accountability because just as my journaling has slacked off, so have my eating habits. And that’s not ok because I’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting fit and healthy! I’m not about to throw that all away because it can be a pain to actually pay attention to every single thing I eat.

Maybe that seems a bit melodramatic, but I’ve been on the weight loss rollercoaster long enough to know how easy it is to slide back into old habits and one day wake up realizing that those jeans that were getting so loose they were falling off are starting to fit a little too well again. Nope, I’m not letting that happen again. Time to put my foot down, put on my big girl panties (referring to maturity, not size…ha ha), quit complaining and just do it. Please feel free to remind me of this post when my resolve starts to weaken again which I know it will. Success isn’t about always feeling like doing what you need to do, but doing it even when you don’t feel like it.

Breakfast – Chocolate Shakeology with 2 tsp peanut butter, 1/2 c organic vanilla Silk, water and ice – 250 cals

AM Snack – 1/4 c Meza hummus and 3 celery stalks – 140 cals

Lunch – hmmm, this was technically dinner because I slept from about 11 am to 3pm. I have kind of a weird schedule because I stay up really late (at least 3am) to spend time with my husband who’s schedule is even crazier than mine. Anyway, I had 4oz chicken breast seasoned with Season-All (keeping it simple) – 187 cals, 3 cups Romaine with 2 Tbs Wishbone Italian dressing – 105 cals, and 2 cups broccoli potato soup – 220 cals, which was a happy accident. I intended to make mashed potatoes and gravy, but realized I only had three smallish potatoes. Not exactly enough for four people. I thought about posting a separate recipe, but it was so ridiculously easy I’m just going to include it here.

I peeled 3 small to medium potatoes and cut them in large cubes. Then I cut up about 3 cups broccoli including the stem which I peeled first. All of that went into about 4 cups boiling water and simmered uncovered until the potatoes and broccoli were soft enough to blend. I dropped in 2 chicken bouillon cubes, 1 tsp dried minced onion and 3 cloves of garlic, pressed. Then I blended until smooth (a hand blender works great for this). Finally, I combined one 12 oz can of evaporated milk (cream cheese would work, too, like I used in the Potato Corn Chowder) with 2 Tbs cornstarch in another container. Once it was mixed well I slowly poured it into the soup, stirring constantly until it thickened. Finally, I added a little kosher salt and plenty of black pepper. When I served it I sprinkled mine with cayenne pepper.

It’s almost 8pm now and the only other thing I plan on eating between now and midnight is 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt with a sliced banana, a packet of Truvia and a few drops of coconut extract. – 210 cals

Total calories – 1112, Protein – 88 g, Carbs – 121 g, Fat – 36 g, Fiber 16 g

I’m sure I’ll eat something else before I go to bed, but I’ll include it in tomorrow’s post. See you then!

This recipe originated as one of those “dump everything in a bowl and hope it turns out ok” experiments. I’ve found that ground turkey can seem a little “wet” even after cooking so adding quite a bit of bread crumbs and only dry ingredients other than the egg seemed like a good idea. Turns out is was. Great flavor and texture. This is my attempt at coming close to actual measurements.

1. I started with a package of 93/7 ground turkey (about 1 1/4 lbs).

2. Then I broke up 4 slices whole grain white bread and pulsed it in the blender to make crumbs. It totalled about 2 cups. I added the crumbs and 1 large egg to the turkey in a large bowl.

3. Next I added about 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp dried basil, 1-2 tsp Italian seasoning that included rosemary and sage (crushed to break up the rosemary), 1/4-1/2 tsp granulated garlic and 1 tsp dried minced onion.

4. You can’t make meatballs without getting your hands dirty so I mixed it all up with my hands then shaped the mixture into balls. This batch made 48 that were about 1 inch in diameter.

5. While I was shaping the meatballs I was heating a large skillet on medium. Just before adding them I poured in 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil. Then I browned them by swirling the skillet every few minutes. During that time I cooked pasta according to the package directions.

6. Once the meatballs were cooked through I removed half to save for another meal and added Prego Heart Smart Sauce which has less sodium and let it simmer for a few minutes.

7. I added the pasta to the skillet and tossed to coat, then served it with grated parmesan cheese. Yummm!!

I love that song. If fact, here it is for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Ok then, back to the food. This was one of those Ok, I Have Some Yakisoba Noodles and Random Vegetables So Let’s Throw Them Together “recipes”.  So let’s get to it!

1. First, I said a word of thanks for living in a town with a Trader Joe’s because they have organic tofu for well under $2/lb.

2. Then I cut one block into cubes. Yeah, I know my cuts were kinda uneven. Oh well. While I was cutting the tofu I was heating about 1 Tbs. oil (canola and corn blend, but use whatever you want as long as it holds up well to heat) in a large skillet. Just a note here about tofu – if you have time and you’re planning on browning it, press it first. You’ll get much better results and it won’t stick to the pan as easily. I was in a hurry so I didn’t do it this time.

3. I added the tofu to the skillet, giving it a quick shake to keep the cubes from sticking and cut 2 medium carrots into strips. Kind of like wide matchsticks, but feel free to cut them however you want. Go on…go crazy.

4. Then I sliced 1 yellow onion into strips about 1/4 – 1/2 inch wide. I also check on the tofu because it was starting to brown. Once most of the moisture has evaporated from the pan it’s important to check it every few minutes so it doesn’t stick. Or you could use something other than tofu. Whatever you want.

5. Once the tofu had browned on most sides I removed it from the pan before adding the carrots and onion because this was a particularly soft block and I knew it would fall apart if I left it in while cooking the other ingredients. If I had mushrooms I would’ve used them, too, but I used them all in the Turkey Tetrazzini the other day.

6. While the carrots and onion softened on medium heat I cut 2 large celery stalks and about 3 cups green cabbage into thin strips. Some other veggies that would be nice to add if you have them on hand are zucchini, Napa cabbage, baby corn, water chestnuts or snow peas.

7. I added the cabbage and celery to the skillet (I’d love to have a wok, but don’t have room to store it) and continued cooking it all for a couple of minutes.

8. You may be wondering, “Where’s the garlic??” Don’t worry, it’s coming. Next I broke up the noodles a bit with my hands before placing them on top of the veggies. I don’t know the exact measurement of the noodles, but I got them at Costco and they come in a two pack. I used one of the packages.

9. Let me just apologize in advance for this section. I made the sauce while the noodles steamed over the veggies and just like every other time I’ve made this I didn’t measure anything except for the 1/4 cup light soy sauce I used as the base. I added maybe 1 Tbs mirin, 1 Tbs sugar, 1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar, 1/4 tsp ground ginger (fresh is so much better, but I didn’t have any), 1/2 tsp black pepper, 6 cloves minced garlic (fresh, that I minced myself) and enough water so the whole thing equalled 1 1/2 cups. Just be sure to taste the sauce before adding it to the pan. It’s a lot easier to adjust before it’s mixed in. I stirred it until the sugar dissolved then poured it over the noodles, mixing it in and breaking up the noodles with the spatula. Then I added the tofu back to the skillet and tossed with the noodles and sauce, heating the whole thing through.

10. I topped the finished product with sesame seeds. Yumm! This one’s a family favorite.

This is one of my favorite soups and it’s pretty easy to make from scratch. I’m going to attempt to share this as an actual recipe although it’s usually something I make without measuring anything. There are so many variations of this, too, so feel free to change it up. You really can’t go wrong unless you add something crazy like vanilla extract or cinnamon. But I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, right?

1. I started with 3 largish leeks. If I had thought about posting this before I started I would’ve taken a photo. Oh well. Anyway, I cut off the dark green tops leaving only the white and very light green parts.

2. Then I split them lengthwise and cut them into 1/2 inches pieces. If you’ve ever used leeks before you know how dirty they are.

3. I washed the chopped pieces in a colander after soaking them in warm water for a few minutes and breaking them apart.

(Oh my gosh, I’m eating this while I’m typing and it’s SO good!)

4. I heated about 1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter in a large pot on medium-low and added the drained leeks.

5. While those started to cook down, I chopped 1 large celery stalk and minced 6 cloves of garlic which I also added to the pot.

6. Then, I peeled and cubed 3 medium Russet potatoes and soaked them in cold water until the other stuff got nice and soft. I like to cut the potatoes in fairly large chunks so they hold their shape better in the end, but that’s totally up to you.

7. Next, I added 1 c. frozen corn to the pot and 1 14.5oz can Swanson chicken broth with less sodium (I think it’s 33% less, but I’m too busy eating and typing to get up and check).  You could also use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian. The broth just covered the veggies. Look, here’s a photo!

8. Once the concoction heated through I added the drained potatoes and enough water to cover them. Trust me, the other stuff is in there. It’s just hiding under the potatoes.

9. After turning up the heat to medium-high and bringing the pot to almost a boil, I covered it with the lid and turned the heat back down to medium-low. It took 10 minutes of simmering for the potatoes to become nice and soft without falling apart, but that time will vary depending on the size of the chunks so check them every few minutes so they don’t overcook.

10. Now for the creaminess. There are many ways to achieve this including heavy cream, half and half, fat-free half and half, evaporated milk, soy milk (not the kind with vanilla!), or cashew milk (the last two are great if you want to go vegan – you’d just sub olive oil for the butter). I chose to use cream cheese because that’s what we had on hand. You can’t just drop the cream cheese in, though, or you’ll end up with little blobs which is not what we’re going for. I scooped out 1 cup of the soup including some broth and some veggies and blended it with another 1 c water, about 4oz cream cheese and about 2 tsp cornstarch which I added to thicken it a bit and still keep most of the chunks.

11. After adding the blended mixture back to the pot I let it simmer a few more minutes. At this point, you can decide to leave it as is or blend more of the veggies to make a thicker soup with fewer chunks.

12. Finally, I seasoned it with salt and pepper and since I still had some, chopped fresh sage leaves.

I sprinkled on more black pepper once it was in the bowl. Cayenne or paprika would be good, too. YUMM!!!!!!

I think I’m falling in love…with fresh sage. I bought some from Trader Joe’s a few days ago for a Martha Stewart recipe that involved browning chicken sausages then simmering them in apple cider with fresh sage, onion, salt and pepper until the cider reduces to a delicious, syrupy glaze. Usually when I buy fresh herbs I forget about them until it’s too late and remorsefully discard them. This time I remembered the sage was in the fridge and that it goes great with turkey. A quick google search led me to a few easy recipes for turkey tetrazzini which I modified to work with what we had on hand. The finished product was delightful. Here’s the recipe. Serves 4-6

12 oz uncooked pasta of your choice ( I used organic gemelli)

1Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped small

2 large stalks celery, diced

10 oz sliced mushrooms (I used pre-sliced ones from Trader Joe’s)

1 jar Ragu Light Parmesan Alfredo sauce

2 c cubed, cooked turkey breast

4-5 fresh sage leaves, sliced in thin strips

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1. heat olive oil on medium in large skillet

2. saute onions, celery and mushrooms until soft

3. while veggies are cooking, boil pasta according to directions on package and drain

4. add cubed turkey to skillet and heat through

5. add sauce, sage, salt and pepper to skillet and heat through

6. add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to coat

7. garnish with sage leaves if desired and enjoy!

When it comes to dinner for my family, the faster and easier the better. The trick is finding dishes that everyone will like. I live with some pretty picky people and they all like and dislike different things which makes things challenging (and frustrating at times). I’m not quite sure how we ended up this way because when my boys were little they ate pretty much everything good. Somehow along the way they decided they don’t like certain things anymore that they used to love. Hopefully it’s just a phase. My husband has been picky ever since I met him so that’s no big surprise. Now that I’m attempting to provide healthier food it’s even more challenging. You see, they all like pizza and hot dogs and french fries, but eating that way all the time isn’t exactly ideal.

Tonight, I decided to throw together a soup inspired by the ease of Sam the Cooking Guy’s tortilla soup. With plenty of ingredients in the cupboard I started throwing things together and it turned out better than I expected. Here’s the “recipe”. The ingredients are listed in the order I dumped them into the pot. The only thing I wish I had, but did not, was corn. Oh well. Next time. Oh, and maybe some green chiles. Shredded rotisserie chicken would work, too. Ok, the possibilities may very well be endless.

2 14.5oz cans Swanson chicken broth – 33% less sodium

about 1tsp minced, dehydrated onion

1 14.5oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand (because I didn’t feel like washing the blender)

5 cloves of garlic, pressed

taco seasoning, chicken and tomato bouillon to taste (didn’t measure)

about 2tsp Mexican oregano, crushed (different from regular oregano, found in the Latino section)

about 3/4c Barilla Plus penne pasta, dry (added after the rest came to a boil and simmered for 12 minutes)

The entire pot of soup only had 725 calories, 3 grams of fat, 46 grams of protein, and 36 grams of fiber. Serves 4-8 depending on whether the soup is the main dish or a side.

I topped the soup with some shredded cheese and served it with salad and corn bread. I’m thinking it would’ve been really good with some freshly squeezed lime juice like Sam suggests for his Black Bean Soup (also easy and delicious).