Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookie Exchange: Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

The fabulous holiday food is only one reason that Christmas is my favorite special occaision- but it's a big one. The cookies are a delicious bit of the holiday spirit. This year, they are my contribution to a cookie exchange with friends. We each bring 4 dozen cookies, and we each walk away with 4 dozen (different) cookies, several recipes and some good times.

makes 4 dozen cookies
you can freeze the dough portion or the baked cookies (I love cookies I can mix the dough ahead and freeze)

2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 c oats (not instant)
1 c dried cranberries
6 ozs white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I've liked Ghiradelli)

Preheat oven to 350, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl, set aside.

Cream butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture, stir with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended.

Fold the oats, cranberries and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.

Drop dough in 3 tbsp mounds onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 in apart

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden but still a little moist. Let Cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

For a more decorative cookie, dip half of each cookie into melted white chocolate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

30 minute Chicken Corn Chowder

Chicken Corn Chowder


2 tbsp butter
1 med onion, chopped
2 celery, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 c chicken or vegetable stock
3 c milk
2 cooked chicken breast halves, chopped
1 can cream style corn
2 red potatoes, diced
1 1/2 c frozen corn
1/4 tsp thyme (or 1 tsp fresh)
about 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Melt butter in a large Dutch Oven or stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, celery, and jalapeno and cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  3. Add flour, cooking 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add chicken stock to deglaze pan, stirring up any bits of flour stuck to the bottom.
  5. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients.
  6. Bring to a boil, cook until thick (about 5 minutes).

**the creamed corn isn't necessary. If I don't have it in the pantry, I just add a little more corn and maybe some cornstarch in the stock if I want it thicker. This chowder has a little bit of a bite from the jalapeno. If you don't have a fresh pepper, you can also used canned green chilies (I used these last night). This soup does require a good bit of salt to really taste fresh and "bright".

I've served this soup when I had friends over for lunch and topped it with a couple tortilla chips and a little sharp cheddar cheese. For a more decorative serving, I'd make multi-colored tortilla strips to garnish. This Chicken Corn Chowder is incredibly filling and satisfying for such a quick meal, taking me about 30 minutes from start to finish. Less if I use onion and celery that I've already chopped and thrown in the freezer.

Spaghetti and Crockpot Meatballs

Yesterday, I had the little monkey's 4 month well baby check (read: shots!) so I knew that dinner would have to be either made ahead or very quick as I would have one fussy young'un by dinnertime. I ended up deciding on a combination of make ahead and quick. Spaghetti is a favorite around here, although we've had to compromise a bit on sauce. The husband likes a plain meat sauce. I like a more seasoned roasted tomato sauce without meat. Our compromise is meat balls :)

CrockPot Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef (I prefer sirloin)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c fresh bread crumbs
2 cloves finely diced garlic
1/2 med onion, chopped
3-4 sundried tomatoes, very finely chopped
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 c prepared tomato sauce/marinara
Onion powder*
Garlic powder*
Salt and Pepper*
Garlic Olive Oil

* to taste

  1. Combine ground beef, beaten egg, bread crums, sun-dried tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. I use my hands for this part. It takes less pounding to get everything combined, keeping the meat more tender.
  2. Form ground beef into large balls, I try for slightly larger than golf balls. The large size helps keep the meatballs from becoming dry.
  3. Brown meatballs in a hot pan.
  4. Once meatballs are mostly brown, add a tbsp or 2 of garlic olive oil, onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
  5. Place meatballs in slow cooker and add olive oil, onion and garlic.
  6. Cover meatballs with diced tomatoes and prepared marinara. Season as needed.
  7. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

I served these over spaghetti, making for a quick dinner I could do in the brief moments little man would let me set him down.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sicilian Chicken

I saw a really interesting looking seasoning blend in a specialty market a few months ago, but it was quite pricey. So I wrote down the ingredients and put it together myself. I've found it to be versatile and useful, especially with chicken and pasta dishes.

Sicilian Chicken


Chicken breasts, naked
2 c Cheese (of choice)
1 c diced tomatoes, drained
Sicilian Blend
1 box Pasta of choice

  1. chop and brown chicken breasts, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and Sicilian Blend
  2. Prepare Pasta al dente
  3. In a greased casserole dish, combine cooked chicken, pasta, tomatoes, 1 tsp Sicilian Blend and cheese.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bake at 375 for approx 20 minutes or until bubbling.

I modified this recipe to use up some leftovers and to use in the slow cooker. I substituted about 1 cup of left over queso for the cheese. I layered frozen chicken breasts, the tomatoes, and the queso dip in the slow cooker. This I seasoned with salt, pepper, and the Sicilian Blend. I set this on Low and let it cook for about four hours, stirring in cooked pasta at serving time.


Sicilian Blend
***Combine equal parts garlic, onion powder, oregano and basil.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Twist with Cream of Wheat

Cream of Wheat is a childhood favorite. We ate it sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, always risking a burned mouth from not waiting until it cooled. I wanted something warm for lunch today and pulled out the box (which has a permanent place in my pantry) and noticed a suggestion on the side to mix in Polaner All Fruit Spread. Since I happened to have some, I gave it a try. favorite. I also stirred in some natural sliced almonds to add some protein.

Slow Cooker Split Pea and Ham Soup

Kevin loooves Split Pea Soup. I prefer a chicken version I adapted from a clean eating cookbook. Since I had a ham bone and leftover cooked ham in the freezer, he's getting his version- perfect for the frosty weather we're having. I enjoy having soups on the weekends when we're usually working on things around the house or outside or running errands. Makes for a stressfree dinner whenever we happen to get hungry.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

1 package (16 oz) dried split peas
2 c diced fully cooked ham
1 c diced carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 c boiling water
1 c hot milk

  1. In a 5 qt slow cooker, layer the first nine ingredients in order listed (without stirring).
  2. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in milk.
  4. Discard bay leaves before serving.

How easy is that! Since I had the ham bone, I threw that in too :-)

Whirl of Holiday Projects

Between traveling for thanksgiving and cramming holiday projects before traveling for Christmas, I've maintained a mile long to do list. :) This one time of year that generally enjoy my to do's.

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. Going to a Catholic school as a kid, Advent and Christmas meant gorgeous decorations, my favorite church music and a ton of great food.

This week I made sure to change my table over to more season appropriate colors :)

Santa Mozart even got into the holiday action, although a bit reluctantly:

When I need a break from the holiday swirl, I'm working on planning our 2010 garden calendar. Our veggies were pretty successful in 09, despite the moving and a late start so I'm excited about this year's plan!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spiral Ham for Sunday Dinner

Yummm....maybe it's my Southern roots, but you just can't beat a big Sunday dinner. We'll be traveling this week for the holiday so I took advantage of the commissary's sale on spiral ham (.90/lbs) and picked up an 8.5 lbs bone in Spiral cut ham. This will give me the basics for our meals until we leave and I'll have a little bit to freeze for the day we get home.

To glaze today's ham I used honey, brown sugar and a packet of apple cider (the just add water type). We're having oven roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts with it. Super Yum.

Speaking of brussels sprouts. I have a new favorite product. Birds Eye Steamfresh Baby Brussels Sprouts. Single Serving packets. You can steam them in the microwave. Taste like fresh. Healthy eating just doesn't get any easier than that. LOVE THEM!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mommy's Lunch Out

So, I had plans for lunch out today. Since it was a pretty day out, I thought I'd pull out some of my cute clothes (at least, the few that fit at three months post-baby). Baby cooperated by falling asleep about an hour before I was planning to leave. It's been a couple days since I washed my hair, but at least it was brushed. Make up went on without a hitch. Nice jewel tone fitted tshirt. Pulled out the super cute new fall boots. Got baby dressed, diaper bag ready, and we're headed out the door.


Popped into the bathroom to grab the cell phone I left in there. And realize that while I actually look put together like a normal person (as opposed to post-partum dishevled), there are three small stains on the front of shirt.

Oh well.

At least I had cute shoes.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pouches...homemade frozen meals

Pouches are my favorite convenience food. I find that most frozen meals leave a lot to be desired both in terms of taste and nutrition. This is a way that I can make sure I always have a tasty, good-for-you meal ready when life gets busy. They are also perfect for those times when I'm the only one eating and I don't feel like preparing a "full" meal.

A Sample Pouch Preparation

4 chicken breast portions
2 small leeks
2 carrots, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Grease (I use Pam High Heat) 4 squares of parchment paper.
  2. Divide leeks equally among each piece.
  3. Place 1 chicken portion on each paper
  4. Combine carrots and garlic. Season with lightly with salt and pepper (or any other seasoning you like) and place on top of chicken portions.
  5. Carefully wrap up each pouch, making sure the paper folds are sealed.
  6. When cooking, bake pouches at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and serve hot.
  • Pouches are easily frozen. I wrap each pouch in aluminum foil and place pouches in a Ziploc Freezer bag.
  • You can use any combination of protein and vegetable. I frequently toss a diced red potato in as well for a complete meal.
  • This is a great use for frozen chicken breasts and fish fillets.
  • A little drizzle of olive oil, especially paired with a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange, creates a light sauce.
  • For quick meals, I sometimes will make several of these on the weekend and cook a big pot of brown rice that I store in single serving containers. Then, for lunch on the go, I can heat up the rice and eat with my pouch protein- healthy, filling and quick.
Any suggestions for new pouches? Seasonings? Veggies?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One of my favorite soups- Pappa al Pomodoro

Soup is one of my absolute favorite things. Especially, traditional Italian soups. I didn't realize how much I liked these soups until I received a fabulous cookbook as a gift a few years ago. Soups of Italy is beautiful, informative and easy to follow. I'm slowly making my way through the recipes. One thing I've noticed is that while many of these recipes are higher in calories than many of my favorite meals, they are SO filling that I eat less at one sitting. Especially for chilly fall and winter weather, these substantial soups just hit the spot.

Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato and bread soup)

1/3 c EVOO
3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes or 2 1/2 lbs very ripe fresh plum tomatoes
Pinch of crushed chili flakes (optional)
6 c broth (any kind)
1 lb stale whole wheat country bread, cut into 1" cubes
salt and pepper
6-8 large basil leaves, finely shredded


  1. Combine the oil and garlic in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Saute over low heat until the garlic is golden, 3-4 minutes.
    Add the tomatoes and chili flakes and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
  2. Reserving a ladleful of the broth, add about 5 cups to the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, add the bread with just enough of the reserved broth to soften it. Mash the bread, using the bottom of a whisk. Add to the soup, stir well to combine and gently simmer for about 10 minutes. If the soup appears too thick, add a little broth or water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. remove soup from heat, stir in basil and serve with a drizzle of olive oil
**soup is commonly served with a few tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese stirred in

For those in the Ft Campbell area, Silke's has a wonderful country wheat bread that is perfect for using in this soup. (just make sure to keep a crusty end to dip)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Light Ahead

Today is the first day of my new training cycle. I'll be posting the daily details of my workout on a blog I set up just for that: All My Progress. I'll be updating weekly, especially in relation to my cooking/nutrition plans on this blog. So there will be some overlap. :)

I'm using a plan based off Lou Schuler's The New Rules of Lifting for Women. It's a great back-to-basics book. I have tendency to jump in with both feet and overwork myself, so I wanted something that was structured and easy to come back to if I get off track during the very hectic next two months. Holidays, possible deployments, travel, trying to figure out this whole parenting thing.

My first 4 weeks of Strength Training:
The New Rules of Lifting for Women
Stage: 1
Workout: A
Exercise Sets Reps Rest

A. Squat
Workout 1 2 15 60
Workout 2 2 15 60
Workout 3 2 12 60
Workout 4 2 12 60

B1. Push Up
Workout 1 2 15 60
Workout 2 2 15 60
Workout 3 2 12 60
Workout 4 2 12 60

B2. Seated Row
Workout 1 2 15 60
Workout 2 2 15 60
Workout 3 2 12 60
Workout 4 2 12 60

C1. Step Up
Workout 1 2 15 60
Workout 2 2 15 60
Workout 3 2 12 60
Workout 4 2 12 60

C2. Prone Jackknife
Workout 1 2 8 60
Workout 2 2 8 60
Workout 3 2 10 60
Workout 4 2 10 60

Weekly Menu

I find meal planning one of the single most effective ways of making my life easier. I spend less on groceries, eat healthier, stress less in the afternoons when the baby won't sleep and feel more organized. That last one might be the most important.

I eat the same breakfast every day for a week, then rotate. Just makes it easier for me. This week will be Nested Eggs.

lunch- Cranberry Chicken Salad
dinner- Creamy Chicken Chili

lunch- leftover chili
dinner- Couscous Stirfry

lunch-tilapia pouch with rice
dinner- egg fried rice

lunch-tilapia pouch
dinner- chicken and broccoli pasta

lunch-tilapia pouch
dinner- acorn squash with beans and rice

lunch- leftovers
dinner- CrockPot Roast

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Leftover Sauce?

I've been in a cranberry mood lately. Maybe it's the season- who knows? But since I had quite a bit of left over Cranberry gravy from last night's Cranberry Pork Roast, I figured I'd put it to good use.

So, I baked a dish full of chicken tenderloins (I buy the large frozen bags of them and cook in large qualities to use as my "snack" protein) covered in the left over sauce. Took about 25 minutes cooked at 350 degrees.

I served the chicken with Near East's Wheat Couscous and green beans. Yuummmm. I sprinkled some Craisins in the Couscous for good measure.

**note- I don't put butter in my Couscous as the directions show, I just don't find it necessary.

Super quick dinner- took me less than thirty minutes and used up the sauce that I might have otherwise thrown away.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A little holiday warmup

We have had beautiful fall weather to herald the holiday season. We had a busy day of yard clean up and errands planned, so it was a good day for a Crock Pot comfort meal. This one fit the bill.

Cranberry Pork Roast

1 boneless rolled pork loin roast (2 1/2- 3 lbs)
1 16 oz can of jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 c sugar
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
Salt to taste

Place pork roast in a 5 qt slow cooker.

In a small bowl, mash cranberry sauce; stir in sugar, juice, mustard, and cloves. Pour over roast.

Cover and Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove roast and keep warm.

Skim fat from juices.

Pour juices into a measuring cup. Add water if needed to make 2 cups of liquid.

Pour into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir into pan with juices. Bring back to a boil.

Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Season with Salt.

Serve sliced pork with cranberry gravy.


I made a couple substitutions. I used sage instead of cloves because I love sage with pork. I also added water in place of the cranberry juice because the last time I made this I felt the cranberry was a little too intense and I didn't have any juice in the fridge :). I will serve this tonight with either sauteed or roast potatoes depending on how much time I have, but its excellent with creamy mashed potatoes as well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mama's Creamy Chicken Chili

Mama and I are big fans of chili, especially chicken chili. So when she told me she had a great new recipe, I had to try it out.

Creamy White Chili

1 lb chicken breast, bite sized pieces
1 med chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp oil
2 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
1-2 can (4 oz can) chopped green chiles ( Mom uses 1 can)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

Saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil in a large saucepan unitl chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chiles, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream and whipping cream.


In the interest of losing baby weight and using what I had here in the house, I made a couple substitutions. I used two large breast halves (the ones with the ribs attached) to make my own broth since I find most of the prepared ones too salty. I used the meat from those breasts in the chili. I used fresh oregano from my hrb garden in place of dried. I also used Stonyfield Plain Low Fat yogurt in place of the sour cream, which is a usual sub for me. I decided to go ahead with 1/2 c of whipping cream because it's so little for the whole pot. Super yuuuuuummmmm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Kevin had today off work for Veteran's Day, so I pulled out my lasagna ingredients. I've been meaning to make lasagna for a while but the little man hasn't really given me the time.

1/2 box lasagna noodles
Jarred Sauce
16 ozs shredded mozzarella
2 lbs ricotta
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare noodles al dente.

Combine 2/3 of mozzarella, ricotta, eggs, and season with salt, pepper and basil. Mix well.

Spray/Grease a 9"x13" baking dish.

Layer noodles, sauce, and ricotta mix to the top of dish (I did 3 layers of each).

Top with remaining mozzarella.

Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until bubbling.

Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to set.

Serve and enjoy

**Note: I normally use homemade sauce that has more veggie fiber and less salt and sugar, but I'm using up some open sauce that I keep for those baby emergencies where I don't have time for anything except boiling water for spaghetti.

Mama's Chicken and Dumplings

I love my mom's chicken and dumplings. It's just one of those comfort foods that tastes especially yummy in the fall as the weather gets cold. The first time I tried to make it on my own, we ended up with chicken and "dumpling", a sort of casserole instead of the thick-almost-soup that my mom makes. So during a recent trip home, I asked her to make it while I wrote down the steps.

Chicken and Dumplings


Whole chicken
Poultry Seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder


Put cleaned chicken into large stockpot and cover with water.

Slice carrots, celery and onion, adding to stockpot.

Bring to a boil and cook until chicken is done.

Remove chicken.

In a seperate bowl, put approximately 2 c flour (seasoned with salt and pepper). Add enough broth from stock pot to make a dough.

Roll out dough, with the thickness depending on preference.

Cut dough into strips, then diagonally.

Bring broth to a boil and drop in dumplings.

Debone cooled chicken, shred and add back to simmering broth.

Dissolve flour in cold water and add to broth until desired gravy consistency is found. (about three tbsp worked for me).

**Mama's Suggestions:
  1. For those not from the south (and not used to traditional chicken and dumplings) roll the dumpling dough thinner.
  2. 2-4 Chicken breasts works in place of a whole chicken with less cleaning. I like using the frozen chicken breasts with rib meat. You get all white meat, but still the benefit of bone for the broth.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Progress

Yet another step.

I've decided to take advantage of the opportunity that MyCAA offers to add nutritional counseling and renew my personal training certification.

The more I learn, the more I find myself believing in a holistic approach to wellness. I know that my personal wellness has been greatly enhanced by changing the way I eat and the products I use in my home. I know that the more fit I am, the better I feel. (Although getting my thyroid functioning normally again will certainly help me in that regard!). I'm excited about this change.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Asaparagus Soup and Homemade pizza

Not the most likely pairing, but I'm trying to use the leftovers in my fridge and pantry. The soup turned out especially well. I halved my soup recipe because I was using leftovers. The pizza was prepared whole wheat pizza crust, 1/2 c or so of tomato sauce, grated fresh mozzarella and a sprinkling of chopped fresh oregano and basil from my window garden.

Creamy Asparagus Soup


  • 2 lbs asparagus
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • Leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper


1 Cut asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

asparagus-soup-2.jpg asparagus-soup-3.jpg

2 Cook onion in butter in a 4 or 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth, thyme, and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

3 Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. If you want a very creamy texture, you can put the purée through a food mill or press it through a sieve. Transfer to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in cream. Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I have always loved Fall. As a kid, it meant going back to school, new clothes, great food, and that the holidays were coming.

As an adult, I still love the weather, warm soft clothes, great food.

But it means the holidays are coming.

It's very easy for me to get so wrapped up in planning for all the busyness of the upcoming holiday season (multiplied by impending deployment this year) that I completely forget to enjoy my favorite season. So, this morning, I took a moment to enjoy the sunshine after a week of gray and rain.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A great new Wine Find

I'm a big fan of promoting local businesses. Even better when that business makes my new favorite wine!

With family visiting this past weekend, we stopped by Beachaven Winery on Sunday afternoon. They offer free tours and wine tasting (something we've paid up to $20/person for at other wineries). The winery is very pretty and the staff friendly. They kindly offered to hold my stroller behind their desk since the tour went up and down stairs.

As a bonus to a really pleasant afternoon, Beachaven offers a Chablis style wine that neatly stands in for one my personal favorites at a much lower price. Kevin and I were introduced to Joesph Drouhin Chablis by a server at the Melting Pot in Tacoma, WA on our 1st anniversary. Paired with tart green apples (and a sharp cheese fondue on that occaision), it is fabulous and one of my favorite treats. Beachaven offers a wine with similar notes but a significantly lower price tag in Melody.

Melody, along with a few others, will undoubtedly be taking up permenant residence in our wine fridge.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicken Ragout with Polenta

Adapted from a Sandra Lee recipe.

3 C frozen primavera vegetables (I used green beans because that's what I had)
6 naked chicken breasts (I used 3)
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper
1 1/2 tsp italian seasoning (I make my own: parsley, oregano, basil, garlic powder)
1 14oz jar pasta sauce (I used one can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp crushed garlic (2 sm cloves or 1 large chopped very fine)
1 24oz tube pre-made polenta, sliced 1/2" thick

Slow Cooker:
Combine frozen vegetable medley in the bottom of a 5 qt slow cooker. Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. Place chicken on top of vegetables.

In a large bowl, stir together pasta sauce/tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic. Pour 2/3 over chicken and vegetables. Top chicken with polenta slices and cover with remaining sauce. Cover and cook on the LOW setting for 4-5 hours.

In the Oven:
Preheat over to 400 degrees.

In a 13"x9" greased pan, layer chicken, vegetables, and polenta. Stir together pasta sauce/tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic and pour over chicken. Cover with aluminum foil, and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

We really liked this recipe. It was easy to assemble. I cooked it in the oven because the little man didn't take a long enough nap until the afternoon. I put it together in minutes around 3 pm and put in the oven at six. I used frozen breasts and it worked perfectly. This was the first time Kevin had polenta and he really liked it. If you've never experienced polenta check here.
It's a great alternative starch that is made REALLY easy if you use the prepared tubes. A great, quick alternative if you really like risotto. It has a similar creamy texture.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto

Posting the recipe for a friend :) One of our favorite and the meal I used to introduce Kevin to squash and convince him it wasn't "yucky health food".

Butternut Squash Risotto

2 c water
2 cans veggie broth (about 4 c)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 c finely chopped onion
3 c cubed, butternut squash
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
grated Parm-Reggiano cheese
3 tbsp butter (i prefer unsalted)
fresh parsley, chopped

bring 1 1/2 c water and broth to a simmer in a saucepan (without boiling) and keep warm over low heat.

heat oil in a dutch oven (or stockpot) over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 8 minutes or until translucent, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 c water, squash, salt, and pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until squash is tender.

Add rice, and stir until mixture is combined. Stir in 1/2 c broth mixture and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 c at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next. Stir in cheese, butter and chopped parsley.

Butternut Squash Penne

Adapted from a Cooking Light Cookbook.

I love Butternut Squash. It is easuly one of my favorite foods and really is the taste of fall for me. The leftovers of this recipe make a great lunch for the next day and I prefer my meals to do double duty ;)

Butternut Squash Penne

Med Butternut Squash, chopped into 1" pieces
4-6 shallots or 2 sweet onions, juilienned
Sage, 1 tsp
Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
Brown Sugar, 1 tbsp

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Combine Squash, shallots, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper in baking dish and mix well. Distribute evenly throughout the pan. Cook in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until squash is fork tender.

Prepare Penne according to box directions. I prefer whole grain.

After squash is out of the oven, toss with sage and serve over pasta. I also sometimes add a sprinkling of shaved parmesan cheese.


If you have leftover squash and shallots, it can make a quick base for butternut squash soup tomorrow. Just mash in a stockpot, add some chicken broth (about a cup for 1 serving) and a couple tbsps of plain yogurt and PRESTO...yummy fall soup!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quinoa Stirfry

Quinoa is one of my favorite foods- totally verstile and a serious superfood. If you haven't tried quinoa, read about its benefits here.

It's also available in the commissary, but I use it quite a bit so I purchase in bulk from Bob's Red Mill. That website is very, very bad for my bank statement- but great for my pantry.

For tonight, I sauteed a julienned pepper and onion, string beans, diced cooked chicken breast (left over) and cooked quinoa. Seasoned with soy sauce, garlic powder, craked pepper and a little salt- the whole meal took less than ten minutes and is a popular alternative to carb heavy stirfry.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chicken Bolognese

Ok, so its not really Bolognese- but it's a similar texture. After errands today and with GM being fussy in the evening, I needed an easy dinner. Sticking with my plan of emptying my pantry and fridge, this is what I came up with.

leftover half box of spaghetti, prepared according to box
3 c of basic tomato sauce
1 c cooked chicken breast, shredded

Combine shredded chicken and tomato sauce in sauce pot over medium heat. Serve over cooked spaghetti.

Not fancy, but it tasted good, was filling and offered something different than the usual spaghetti and sauce .

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crockpot Chicken Chili

Chili is one of my favorite ways to use up bits and pieces left over in my fridge and pantry, along with stirfry. I'm trying to use up everything before I go grocery shopping again so tonight is a chili night (plus, I needed a crockpot meal so I could get caught up on some housekeeping).

I use dry beans so this morning when I made breakfast, I threw about 1/3 c each of red kidney beans and white northern beans into the crockpot along with 4 c of chicken broth, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Once the beans were mostly cooked, I added 1 c of salsa, 1 c of water, and chopped up the odds and ends from the fridge: yellow pepper, 1 1/2 cooked chicken breasts from last night's Picatta, celery, carrot and a couple potatoes.

I make my chili pretty chunky and thick because otherwise Kevin doesn't consider it a meal, silly man. I'll whip up some quick fresh guacamole when it's time to serve (just avacado, a little red onion and a squeeze of lime juice).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chicken Piccata

Yummm...I'm being a little more ambitious tonight since Kevin cleaned the kitchen (mostly...he never wipes the counter or completely empties the sink for some reason) last night. So tonight, Chicken Piccata. Tweaked a little.

Chicken Piccata

1/4 c whole wheat flour
sea salt and ground pepper
4 chicken breasts, pounded to flatten
3 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olives, rinsed and chopped (these only go on my plate, Kevin doesn't like them)
**I add rosemary because I like it and it goes well with olives!**

  1. Reserve 1 tbsp of flour, mix remaining flour with salt and pepper. Coat chicken in flour mix completely and shake off excess.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until light brown. Remove chicken to a plate.
  3. In the same pan, add remaining oil garlic, and reserved flour. Heat mix, stirring constantly to scrape up any brown bits from pan. Add stock and lemon juice (olives too if everyone wants them). Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until sauce thickens. Add chicken back to pan and continue to simmer for a couple minutes. Remove from heat, stir rosemary into sauce and season with salt and pepper.

I served this with sauteed potatoes and steamed green beans. :) A neat twist on a favorite dinner.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lazy Day Dinner

I love meals that you can eat for two days :)

For tonight, I'm taking the leftover filling from the chicken pot pie, adding more chicken broth so that it is a bit more soupy and serving it over brown rice.

Yummm...again- major comfort food for my lazy day.

Macademia Nut Crusted Porkchops

This was dinner one day last week and turned out well. I adapted it from a chicken recipe in Oxygen. The original recipe included coconut, which Kevin can't stand. The next time I make it I'll play with seasonings, as it could use a little more creaminess.

Macadmia Nut Crusted Porkchops

Chops (boneless)
4 oz macademia nuts (I used 2 ozs and it was just fine for 1 lbs of chops)
1 egg, beaten

**I also tossed in a seasoning mix I like with chops

  1. preheat over to 400 degrees. Spray a baking rack with cooking spray, placing it over a cookie sheet.
  2. Combine Macadamia Nuts and seasoning on a large plate. Dip each chop in the egg, then coat with nut/seasoning mixture.
  3. Place Chops on baking rack and bake for 40 minutes (mine were quite thick) or until cooked through. Note- you might want to cover with foil for first 25-30 minutes so the coating doesn't start to burn.
Very, very good. Healthy and one of the better versions of chops I've had. I think with a little tweaking this would be a favorite. If you like coconut, just subtract the seasoning and add 1/4 c of flaked coconut. A great way to use some left over coconut sitting in the pantry.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mom's Chicken Pot Pie to end a hectic day

Today was a little rough. I've been working the last week to really get set up to prep a good bit of my food in advance and decided on last night to really get going on it. So I prepped my chicken pot pie filling to cook overnight in my crockpot.

And it turned to be a really good thing!

An eight am check up for the little guy turned into an all day affair when the dr suspected a heart murmur and sent us immeadiately down to Nashville to Vanderbuilt Children's Hospital Pediatric Cardiac clinic (by the way- those folks were wonderful, every single one of them). It was a rough, nerve wracking, emotional day. But it all ended up ok. The little guy is just fine. He has a very small hole in his heart that is common in little ones born early and develops when they hit a growth spurt. The Cardiologist expects to close by itself with zero longterm effects. *whew*

As to that growth spurt- he's now 8 lbs 10 ozs and 22.5" long.

Thanks to my prepping, we are enjoying some serious comfort food with minimal effort tonight.

Mom's Chicken Pot Pie- straight from the source
Stew 1 chicken or you can use 2-3 chicken breasts in large pot with salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder, and parsley. When finished cooking take out chicken and remove all bones. Dice chicken and set aside.
In the chicken broth, add diced potatoes, celery, carrots, and onion. You can add some frozen or fresh peas if you like. When vegetables are fork tender, add the diced chicken to the mixture. (if you stop here , this is a great chicken soup).Then I thicken it by using flour mixed with cold water (to prevent lumping) until I get it like a thick soup consistency. This needs to be room temperature before adding to the pie crust.
Meanwhile I have preheated the oven to 375. You can use any kind of pan you want to make this end. It looks good in a pie dish and if you use the prepared pie crusts, it fits the pie pan. But you can either make your own pie crust or buy two boxes of the prepared pie crust and cut then to fit together to use any pan.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

it's been a busy week...

This week was Kevin's first full week back at work and new the position requires some looong hours. So, besides finding a new routine for GM and I, I am having to adjust my plan for meals. With dinner time very much up in the air, flexible dishes are a must.

I'm going to be working on reviewing the recipes that I used during the last week, but it will probably take me a few days :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday night Baked Chicken

The little man was still a little on the fussy side, so a quick prep time was on order. I had decided on baked chicken in my weekly menu, leaving me some flexibility as to what that entailed.

I decided on a honey mustard chicken. I recently reworked my receipe to make it even healthier- it's undergone several renovations over the last couple years as I adjusted my lifestyle to fit my goals. This is definitely the version I am happiest with.

Honey Mustard Chicken
Mustard (dijon, stone ground, etc)
Yogurt, Plain non or low fat
Wheat Germ (or Oatmeal, Crushed cereal flakes, anything crunchy in your pantry)
1 lb chicken breasts, sliced into tenders

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Combine 3 tbsp mustard, 3 tbsp yogurt, and 1 tbsp honey and mix well.
  3. Spray 13"x9" baking sheet or pan with non stick spray
  4. Dredge chicken in mustard mix and lay in single layer on baking sheet
  5. Sprinkle wheat germ (or crunch ingredient of choice) over top of chicken tenders
  6. Bake for approximately 40 minutes depending on thickness and your oven.

This is one of my go to quick recipes as I can make it one handed as long as I've already cut up the chicken- which I usually do that morning to make dinner quick. I really prefer a good stone ground mustard for this recipe as I don't think yellow mustard can match the flavor when baked- but it could definitely substitute in a pinch. I like Wheat Germ as the crunch factor for added nutritional value. I served this with quinoa seasoned with oregano, parsley and basil (all dried), and had a large mixed salad while dinner was cooking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Treasure! The local Amish Market

Today we decided to venture over the Kentucky state line to find the Amish market that I'd heard about. It took a little while to get there, but was definitely worth the drive! After enjoying the surrounding cornfields and blue skies, we found the store a bit of a small treasure. Ingredients that I haven't been able to find locally since leaving Ft lewis were available in bulk- wheat germ, quinoa, barley, flours from several different specialty grains, organic milk/cheese/butter, homemade jams without granulated sugar, organic sucanet, buckwheat pancake mix, organic fudges, and more! Kevin was thrilled by finding Adirondack colas and ginger ale- which he drank growing up in NY and hadn't had in years. I was thrilled with the prices!

Our haul?
2 liter of Adirondack Ginger Ale
12 oz can Adirondack Cola
12 oz can Adirondack Ginger Ale
1 lb of Almonds
1 lb of Wasabi Peas
2 lbs organic sharp cheddar cheese
2 lbs organic mozzarella
1 lb wheat germ
5 lbs quinoa
1 lb organic sucanet

For less than $20.

I will definitely be going back! Regularly! The Amish ladies working in the back store room packing herbs were thrilled with GM, coming out to say how cute he was, and were very sweet in general. It was an altogether pleasant shopping experience, with addition of benefiting local farmers and companies and fitting in with my clean eating goals. Next time we'll also visit the bakery.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sandwhich

I'm so very glad that I decided to get going on my intention to make use of my crock pot today. GM kept me up all night (and is sleeping very peacefully even now), so it was an excellent day for an easy dinner.

Slow Cooked Pork BBQ
1 boneless pork loin roast (3-4 lbs), cut in half
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt (I used kosher salt and a 1/2 tsp of a "clean" seasoning mix)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup BBQ Sauce
1 cup cola
Sand which rolls

  1. Place roast in a 5 qt slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and garlic powder.
  3. Cover and cook on low for four hours or until meat is tender
  4. Remove meat
  5. Skim fat from cooking juices
  6. Shred meat with a fork and return to the slow cooker.
  7. Combine BBQ sauce and cola; pour over meat.
  8. Cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours or until sauce is thickened. Serve on rolls.

This turned out really well. Both Kevin and I liked it, despite my not usually liking pulled pork or BBQ. I used a seasoning mix that I make from dried herbs that I know I like. The pork by itself, after step 4, was really good. So I pulled out 1/4 of the roast to use this week in my lunches. Because I'd pulled out some of the meat, I also cut down the BBQ sauce and cola to 3/4 cup each. I used a Jack Daniels BBQ sauce that I had in the fridge from some dish Kevin had made himself (I don't eat the stuff). It had some ingredients that I don't care for, so for next time, I will research making my own "clean" sauce. I was surprised at the large amount of pork this made. So, for next time, I will probably pull out half the roast after step four to use later in the week. It was a super convenient way to roast a pork loin! This is definitely one that I will repeat.

Weekly Menu

In the process of easing myself step by step back into fitness, today is the day I start sticking to a food plan. For the last week, I was tracking everything I ate. I always try to make smart food choices but I was still indulging a bit. The goal this week is to make every meal clean and work on eating every 3 or so hours. I'm continuing to work on increasing my water intake. Next week, we'll start the exercise!

Breakfast- Grits and Scrambled Egg Whites
Lunch- baked chicken, salad
Dinner-Pulled Pork Sandwhiches ( slow cooker)

Breakfast- whole grain Cream of Wheat
Lunch- Pulled Pork left overs
Dinner- Baked Chicken, Quinoa, green beans

Breakfast- Grits and Scrambled Egg Whites
Lunch- Baked Chicken leftovers, salad
Dinner- Baked Ziti, mixed salad, green beans

Breakfast- Egg White Omelet
Lunch- Leftover Ziti
Dinner- Stirfry with brown rice

Breakfast- Whole Grain Cream of Wheat
Lunch- Chunk Tuna on salad
Dinner- tilapia & veggie packet

Breakfast- Grits and Scrambled Egg Whites
Lunch- Salad with hard-boiled egg whites
Dinner-chicken tenders with oatmeal crust, salad

Lunch- out
Dinner- Macademia Nut Crusted Pork Chops with brown rice.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baked Chicken

I needed an easy dinner because G.M. has been fussy today so I made this one up.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 2 tbsp olive oil

* 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
* 1/2 tbsp course ground black pepper
* 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tbsp Red Pepper flakes
* 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat over to 425 degrees.
Combine the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder (seasoning mixture).
Place chicken presentation side down in a baking dish.
Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the chicken.
Sprinkle half of the seasoning mixture over the chicken.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese over the chicken and bake for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, turn chicken over and repeat the earlier steps (oil, seasoning, cheese). Bake for 20 more minutes.

I served the chicken with spaghetti lightly tossed with marinara and a large mixed salad.

Satisfying a chocolate craving

Great day today! Despite having a fussy little one who didn't let me sleep much last night, today is good. I decided that I really needed at least one pair of pants that really fit. I have one pair of non-maternity jeans that I can wear, but they are now too big. But I still can't quite fit into my pre-weight gain clothes comfortably.

And I found out that I have already dropped a size! Whoohoo! Major affirmation for my efforts to eat well and get going on my workout plan.

Good thing too because I came home with a serious chocolate craving. My clean answer? Chocolate Mousse. :)

Chocolate Mousse
Mix 3 tbsp melted dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) with1 tsp of organic honey or agave necter (I used agave). Whisk into 1 cup of yogurt cheese. Blend well and refridgerate.

For those who haven't made it:

Yogurt Cheese
2 quarts low fat plain yogurt

  1. Place 4 layers of damp cheesecloth in a fine mesh sieve or colander. Place colander over a bowl.
  2. Add yogurt and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. What's left in the cheesecloth is a soft, creamy cheese-like dairy.
I've used this to make dips, chocolate mouse, to thicken sauces, anywhere I'd use cream cheese or sour cream. It's healthy and very versatile.

Recipe from Clean Eating Cookbook

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Leftovers Plus

Dinner tonight was the last of the leftover Roast, sliced thin and warmed. I was very excited at the commissary this week to find Red Mills Quinoa. Quinoa was the first really clean food that kevin willingly embraced. So to go with our leftovers, I sauteed some garlic and onion in olive oil spray and added the quinoa. For a vegetable, I had plenty of my homemade salad mix left from my tuna on salad at lunch.

It was healthy, satisfying, and used up leftovers! What more could I want in a meal?

Who needs exercise?- according to TIME

Just about every blogger who occasionally mentions fitness or nutrition has discussed this article. There is no doubt that the idea that exercise does NOT work is appealing on one level. There are plenty of days were the walk from my couch to the fridge seems daunting enough, let alone going for a run! It is also true that many, many people in this country would benefit from a nutritional make over- and that healthy eating is an essential part of weight loss.

But let's get real, shall we?

There is so much more to being healthy than weight loss alone. A healthy lifestyle is a multidimensional way of living: eating choices, activity level, sleep, self-awareness and more. Of course, that "way of living" requires that we actively consider the consequences of the decisions we make everyday, that we be deliberate in those decisions.

In this article, John Cloud wittily observes that exercise makes you hungrier!

Stop the presses. Really?!

Does the man realize that calories represent a measurement of energy? As in fuel? Or any of the other scientifically tested aspects of exercise, nutrition, weight loss, etc? Of course not! Because what would boost readership and coverage in other medias like telling people that they are overweight BECAUSE of exercise- that thing they hate but feel obligated to do, or at least say they do?

Cloud's casual dismissal of the complicated physiological processes involved in weight loss is unfortunate. On one hand, there is an excellent message buried in the refuse of this article. It is absolutely true that diet (as in what you ingest, not how a starlet starves herself) is an essential building for healthy living and weight loss. Imagine the possibilities for the health of America if everyone took an extra half hour a week to really plan their nutrition! But it is NOT the ONLY component of weight loss or healthy living.

I thought about posting links to a couple articles written about the benefits of strength training, fitness in general and other healthy living components. But there were so many valid, peer-reviewed, relevant studies and articles that I was really struggling with choosing which to link to! Instead, I'll offer this- if you are inclined to believe Cloud's take that exercise hinders weight loss, I challenge you to an experiment. For a month, give up exercise and focus only on your diet. Then, for a month, take a broader approach. A balanced diet, appropriate exercise, enough sleep, hydration. Just see what happens, how you feel.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Apricot Almond Chicken

Trying out a new recipe from a slow cooker cookbook . I liked the look of this recipe because it was already pretty clean and healthy as long as I used natural apricot preserves. I had a bit of a sweet craving today so thought this would satisfy it.

Apricot Almond Chicken

2 1/4 cups chicken broth (I used homemade I had)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 small onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 tsp salt, optional
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 lb)
4 tbsp apricot preserves
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a greased casserole dish (13"x 9"), combine broth, rice, onion, peppers, salt if desired, thyme and marjoram. Top with chicken.

Cover and bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until rice is tender. Uncover and stir rice. Place 1 tbsp of preserves on each chicken breast. Bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 5 minutes longer or until meat juices run clear. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I used only red peppers, because that's what I had (Kevin doesn't care for the green ones so I don't buy them). I chose to omit the salt because I find that thyme usually adds a salty enough taste for me. I used simply fruit apricot preserves which I always have as its a personal favorite, one of the few really sweet things that I like. I also didn't toast my almonds before hand. Just tossed slivered almonds on top and put it back in the oven.
I found that 350 in my oven wasn't hot enough to cook the rice. I increased the heat to 400 and everything was ready in 20 minutes. Also, the preserves slid off in large part. For next time, I would combine the preserves and almonds and see if that creates more of a crust.
Taste was great, it was filling and Kevin liked it. I served the chicken and rice with a large green salad. My serving was approx 6 ozs of chicken, 1/2 c of rice, and 1 1/2 c of salad with 1 tbsp of Ceasar dressing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Huevos Rancheros- the clean version

Yesterday, we went out for an approximately 40 minute mini-hike that left me out of breath and ridiculously sweaty, renewing my commitment to eat correctly and get going on some more regular exercise. I'm limited on the amount of exercise I can do, for now sticking mainly to bodyweight moves and walking at the request of my doctor. I'm looking at this next few weeks until I can workout more as an opportunity to really get my nutrition on track before adding the demands of working out on top of breast feeding and the lack of sleep.

Kevin very generously cooked dinner last night- a roast with mashed potatoes. While I generally prefer to limit my beef consumption (too much over the course of a week upsets my stomach), sticking with a smaller portion size and adding some veggie munchies afterward made for an excellent dinner.

Despite a fussy night last night, I pushed myself out of bed this morning and into real clothes (as in- not having elastic or previously belonging to my husband) to attend coffee with some friends. The little man cooperated by sleeping the entire time, which made me wish I'd brought a pillow. The energy boost from not-male, sympathetic conversation helped more than I expected- allowing me to actually get some things done around the house.

For dinner, I decided to try out a recipe in the sept/oct issue of Clean Eating, with a few modifications.

Huevos Rancheros
with chicken, black beans, and roasted potatoes

1 med onion
1 jalapeno (I didn't use)
Cooking Spray
15 oz can of black beans
3 med, diced russet or idaho potatoes
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 lb chicken breast
Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 tomatoes
6 egg whites
4 whole wheat tortillas

  1. Combine 3 tbsp onion, 1 tbsp jalapeno, 1 tbsp cilantro, and 1 clove garlic and set aside.
  2. Preheat medium sauce pan over medium high heat for 2 minutes and mist with cooking spray. Add onion-jalapeno mix and saute for 2 minutes. Add beans plus 1 tbsp water and reduce heat to low. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring occaisionally.
  3. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line a medium sized pan or baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix potatoes with 1 tbsp cilantro, 1 clove garlic, cumin, and oregano. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes so potatoes evenly brown. Remove potatoes and leave oven on at the same temp.
  5. Line another medium sized baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Add chicken and season both sides with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes at 350, turning occaisionally with tongs. Remove from over and let cook for 5 minutes. Chop.
  6. Heat a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Mist with cooking spray. Add remaining onion, jalapeno, and garlic- saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute for another minute. Add remaining cilantro and chopped chicken and saute for another minute. Add egg whites and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until cooked.
  7. To assemble, place 1 tortilla on each plate. Divide beans among plate, top with egg-chicken-vegetable mixture. Serve potatoes aslongside and enjoy.
Serving- 1/2 c potatoes, 1/2 c black beans, 3/4 c egg-chicken-vegetable mixture, 1 tortilla
Calories- 480. Total Fat- 5 g. Carbs 74 g. Fiber 11g. Protein 36 g. Sodium 660 mg.

**Modifications- I made a few changes to this recipe mostly to use up leftovers. Instead of chicken, I subbed approximately 6 ozs of roast from last night. Instead of dried oregano and cilantro, I used fresh oregano, chives and basil from my garden. I also prepared three cups of dried black beans in my slow cooker instead of using canned as I use black bean quite a bit during the week for lunches and such. I didn't have any jalapeno or tortillas. And I served four eggs over easy in deference to Kevin's tastes. I also cooked everything on the stove top instead of in the oven. :) It turned out well although for next time I will do the scrambled egg whites as I think that would be better. This would be a great use for left over chicken although I don't think I would make it if I had to bake the chicken. Almost all of the main ingredients (black beans, eggs, chicken and potatoes) are items that I usually have in my kitchen and f=often have leftovers of. This is a great use-up-leftovers dinner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eating Clean

I am a huge believer in the power of nutrition. It is an art and a science. The art of cooking and preparing food in all its varied forms. The science of fueling the body for maximum performance and health. For me, the power of food manifests itself in the prevention of my migraines. I suffered from intense headaches and migraines from childhood. In my 20s, I discovered that by reducing or eliminating packaged foods with their preservatives and dyes from my diet I also reduced my migraines and generally felt better.

As I attempt to regain my fitness post-baby and make myself into the healthiest role model possible, I find myself again looking to nutrition. The eating style that I have found matches up most closely to my own ideas and opinions I found in a body building magazine. The concept of "eating clean" appealed to my sense of preferring food in its original form.

I am now embarking on a new adventure of combining eating clean with eating with attached infant. :) One of my projects for the next few months is adapting slow cooker recipes that I have liked to be healthier.

The basics of Clean Eating:
  • Eat five to six times a day- three meals plus two to three snacks. Including lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a complex carb at each meal.
  • Drink plenty of H2O- I aim for half my body weight in ozs
  • Get label savy- Aiming for whole foods and avoiding chemicals and preservatives.
  • Avoid processed and refined foods- white flour, sugar, bread and pasta, and most foods that come in a box
  • Know your enemies- avoiving foods high in saturated and trans fat, fried foods, foods high in sugar
  • Shop with a conscience-consume humanely raised and local meats and produce
  • Consume healthy fats- a balanced diet is vital, and includes fat. EFAs are a basic building block
  • Learn about portion sizes- and learn to recognize and respect them
  • Reduce your carbon footprint- eat seasonal and local
  • Moderation is key- limit alcohol to a treat
  • Slow down and savor- food tastes best and is best absorbed when eaten slowly and enjoyed!
  • Take it to go- pack a cooler for work or outings so healthy options are always available.
  • Make it a family affair- food is social glue that should be shared. Improve the quality of your family's life (and set yourself up for success) by sharing the benefits of eating clean

**My first post-baby goal- to consistently fit in five to six balanced meal/snacks, with at least 64 ozs of water. **

Monday, August 10, 2009

A New Page

"There are only two choices- make progress or make excuses." - Ellen Mikesell

Garrett Michael Smith made his entrance into the world almost four weeks early at 5:57 am on July 27, 2009. He was in a considerable hurry to join us, as I was in active labor for only about four hours. He made his entrance weighing in at 6 lbs 14 ozs and measuring 19 inches, with a head full of dark hair.

Aside from a brief elevation of his billirubin levels, requiring a hospital overnight under light therapy, he is a happy, healthy, easy going infant.

Today was Garrett's two week well baby checkup. He has exceeded the goal of regaining his birthweight and now weighs in at 7 lbs flat, as well as growing to 20.5 inches. It will be interesting to see where he's at by the time we reach his due date of August 23rd.

I was incredibly fortunate that my mom was able to come out and help me for the first two weeks of his life. It was amazing- and not just because she got up with him in the middle of the night so I could sleep a little more. Having her there to reassure me, to answer questions to recount memories of my childhood and hers- it made the experience of bringing my first child home so much more complete. It really makes me wonder how much we lose by being as spread out as our culture is now.

So, now to look forward. Enjoy this time with the little man, work on getting fit again, and making this new house really feel like home.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pre-Baby Workout

Yesterday, sitting right at a month till Baby is expected, I created myself a very gentle Pre-Baby workout. Just something to give me structure between here and there. The objective is not so much to finish the four week cycle, but simply to maintain as much muscle and flexibility as I can. I have to work on how to attach it to my blog...hmm, something to try to get done today.

Thought for the Day:

I often lose motivation, but it's something I accept as normal.

Bill Rodgers, American Marathon Runner

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I am attempting to consolidate. This is an ongoing struggle of mine. I love starting fresh, new much that I rarely finish them because I've moved onto the next new project. I've gotten better. For some reason, scrapbooking really helped because I love having the finished product. Although I do tend to go on kicks. I'll sit down and finish a scrapbook in one sitting, start on another one, then not touch it again for a month.

I have the same problem with journals and blogs. A tendency to start several different ones and lack consistency with any of them. Which is odd because I used to be a compulsive journalist.

So here I am. Consolidating.