Weekend Update

The big talk of the weekend is the weather!  Is this true by you too?  Mostly, the extremely cold temperatures approaching on Monday (and in our case, possibly some snow first).  It’s been hard to tell what is really going to happen with the weather because each news source has a different story and the truth is, we just won’t know until Monday gets here.  However, there is already talk of cancelling schools.



Our Backyard!


I was in bed early last night and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.  But that didn’t happen.  The BOY has been sick with a cold since New Years and it took a turn for worse last night. He was up most of the night coughing.  In hope of a better night’s sleep for me tonight (and for his health), I had him at immediate care this morning minutes after they opened.


The BOY has a sinus infection and possibly double ear infections (although nobody thinks this is possible as we’re supposed to stop getting ear infections at age 9), so we went straight to the grocery store to pick up his prescriptions.  With all of the talk about weather, we decided to stock up on groceries for the weekend ahead, pulling together an easy meal plan.  I can’t tell you the last time I was at the grocery store on a Saturday morning before 10am!




We got the BOY back home, medicated, fed, and settled in his chair. And then I threw an easy turkey chili into the crockpot.  The only thing I had scheduled for today was an orthodontist appointment. I was able to bump it up earlier and since I was heading out, stopped by the indoor track for a run.  I’ve been pretty inactive this past week and was looking forward to catching up on some workouts this weekend.  I wasn’t about to let our adventurous morning in health care get in the way of that.  I ran for 40 minutes and after a week off, I felt great!  I was really energized and happy that I took the time to go to the gym! 


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I couldn’t choose just one sleeping Coop picture…he’s just too cute!


When I came back home around 1:30pm, I knew I was in for the rest of the day.  The BOY was snoring by 3:30pm (with Cooper in tow) and I found Adventures in Babysitting on cable.  With the cold weather has come the return of hot lemon water which I have been sipping on ALL day!  Dinner tonight was chili, which turned out fantastic…especially for how easy and pain free it was to make.




Now we are all tucked in to watch possibly my 10th movie in the past week, Monster University.  Perhaps we are tucked in for the next two days or maybe just the night, but either way, we will be prepared!



What’s on your weekend update?



Easy Crockpot Turkey Chili



1.25 lbs ground turkey (I like 93/7)

1 onion, chopped

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with basil and garlic

1 8 oz can of chopped green chilies

1 14 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 14oz can of hominy, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp chili powder

2 cloves of garlic, chopped (or 2 tsp of the pre minced kind)



Spray pan with cooking spray and brown meat over medium high heat, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.  Place meat on the bottom of the crockpot and layer the rest of the ingredients on top.  Stir well and set on low heat for 8-10 hours until flavors are blended and beans soft.

Top with your favorite toppings!

Labor/Lazy Day Weekend

So I know I alluded (a few times) to a busy Labor Day Weekend, but it appears I may not have been completely honest with you!  We did have an exciting Friday evening with our Fall Fiesta, which led to the BOY and I deciding not to set an alarm for Saturday morning.  When we finally woke up at 8am to stormy skies, it was more because of Cooper’s love of breakfast than our own desire to get out of bed.  What proceeded was quite possibly the LAZIEST day I have had in years.  I made some breakfast, read some blogs, watched TV, made leftovers for lunch before the BOY, Cooper, and I took a 2 1/2 hour nap!  We only woke up when I dragged us out of bed for fear we wouldn’t sleep that night, or worse get our nights and days mixed up like our crazy (yet adorable) kitten.  After our nap, we made some popcorn, finally watched Silver Linings Playbook, and then whipped up a simple but satisfying dinner.  After dinner, there was some more playing on the computer and an episode of Dexter before going back to bed.  Do I even need to tell you that I never changed out of my PJ’s.  I almost felt guilty for taking the day off but then remembered that I didn’t want to : )


Thankfully, Sunday had a little more action as I did leave the house for yoga.  That’s two weeks in a row…woo hoo!  Sunday afternoon, a friend, her two kids, and I took a road trip about 2 hours south to visit another one of our college roommates and celebrate her baby shower.  It was a great afternoon to be outside catching up with old friends and reliving good times.  We left just as the sun was starting to set over the fields.






Monday was a do over from Saturday.  I could have spent another day inside, but instead went out for a run.  Even though it rained most of last night (here, not where we were BBQing), it was still hot and humid today.  I’ve been feeling a little slow and down on my training, so I was hoping to have a speedy and strong run.  My legs (and abs) felt tired from yesterday’s yoga class, but despite a slow start, I was able to finish my 5 miles in 44:15 with a negative second half split.  That was a great way to start the day.  The BOY and I went out for lunch and then swung by the grocery store for the necessities.  He has been talking about chili all weekend, so despite the heat, we decided to throw a batch into the crockpot for dinner. 




We are a little rusty on our technique, but pulled together a bold tasting Turkey, Black Bean, and Brew Chili based on this Vegetarian Times recipe.




Just the smell of chili in the air brought a smile to my face!




This wasn’t our favorite chili recipe, a little more watery than we typically like (I would recommend only using one bottle of beer), but it was extremely tasty with the dark ale!  There will be plenty left over for lunch this week, which I am looking forward to!  Sadly, the long weekend has come to an end, but fall is just around the corner!  Hope you had a wonderful labor day weekend filled with adventures and down time!



Turkey, Black Bean, and Brew Chili

Adapted from Vegetarian Times



2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained and minced

1.25 lbs lean turkey (we used 93%)

2 Tbs. ground cumin

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 14-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can corn, rinsed and drained

24 oz. dark beer (2 bottles, but you can decrease to 1)

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes



-Brown meat in skillet over medium heat.

-Place meat in the bottom of crockpot sprayed with cooking spray.  Add chilies, onion, red bell peppers, black beans, corn and tomatoes.

-Stir in spices and beer.

-Set crockpot per instructions 6-8 hours.

Half Homemade

Before I even start this post, I should warn you that this is my first time attempting to use Windows Live Writer on my new computer.  I have no idea how it will work because the BOY set everything up for me, and he doesn’t even know the name of my blog…LOL!  One of the things I still haven’t done is move my pictures and Eye-Fi onto this computer. I am so spoiled because my photos automatically upload, but I haven’t switched that around yet.  It’s on my list of things (along with update music and take car for an oil change) to do this weekend.


I must say that snow is much more beautiful in the day light and when you don’t have to commute to work.  The BOY and I were both up earlier than expected this morning.  After a simple breakfast of banana walnut oatmeal and Elixer, I hit the road for Hot Yoga.  The class was warm, intense, and rewarding.  I felt strong in my balance poses, lightness in Warrior II, and utter fatigue in chair pose.  I know that I have mentioned this before, but I really do feel different when my diet is clean.




After yoga, I picked up Mediterranean for lunch.  Our favorite place just happens to be on my way home from the studio.  Although their pita is amazing, I knew I had some sprouted wraps and homemade hummus at home.  I ordered my favorite Fattoush salad with grilled chicken with plans to create a half homemade lunch that was clean and satisfying. 




While the BOY dug right into his lunch, I created 2 grilled chicken wraps.  One with garlic hummus and the other using this new Roasted Red Pepper Spread from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook that I whipped up earlier in the week.




Both wraps turned out incredible!  With my salad on the side, even the BOY commented about how good my lunch looked.




I’m sorry I didn’t get more pictures, but after this morning’s workout, I was starving!  I will tell you that this spread is really easy and versatile, and I would recommend using it to spice up your sandwiches.

I’m heading upstairs to pack and take a nap before heading into the city for a bachelorette party tonight.  See you tomorrow!



How do you eat clean on the weekends? 

Do you ever make ‘half homemade’ lunches?




Roasted Red Pepper Spread

From Forks Over Knives



2 cups or 1 15- ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 red bell pepper, roasted (I used jarred)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

3 tbsp finely chopped dill (or 1 tsp dried)

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste



Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.

Store in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Turkey and Bean Chili

We haven’t made chili in a few weeks, so it was time to grease up the crockpot and chop up some veggies.




I found a wonderful looking chili recipe in Clean Eating Magazine.  I picked up all my ingredients at the store last week, so that I could get right to work Saturday morning.




Unfortunately, I didn’t have white beans (kind of a big deal since it is in the title of the original recipe), but I knew that black beans would be a fair substitution.  I was able to find tomato puree (I’ve never used that in chili before), and decided to use sweet potato instead of white potatoes for taste and nutritional value.




I like to slow cook on low heat.  I don’t know much about slow cookers of the past but I think that my crockpot is super strong and therefore I can cook something on low (8-10 hours) for only 6 hours and have a thick bowl of chili.



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After a few hours, my chili was smelling good but not as thick as I would have expected.  I added in the roasted corn.  Yes, it appears that microwaving a premade bag of roasted corn could be considered cheating, but when I saw this in the frozen section, I knew it would make life this recipe MUCH easier.


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A few more hours back in the crockpot with some additional seasonings, and I had a THICK and smoky chili!




I was even more surprised to see how much thicker my chili was when I poured myself a bowl for lunch today.  Although I shouldn’t be too surprised as soups and chilies usually taste even better the second day.  I think some of my substitutions changed the flavor of the recipe as written, but I am totally digging this colorful chili.  The sweet potatoes add the right amount of sweetness that compliment the smoky corn.  Covered in avocado, this was a filling lunch after this morning’s challenging Hot Yoga class.




Meanwhile, the BOY grilled up some burgers for our Dad’s who came over to watch the Indiana v Northwestern basketball game today.  It took a little convincing but the BOY braved the cold (it was in the 30’s) to make juicy burgers for the guys’ lunch.  He even took the time to make roasted mushrooms and caramelized onions to go with the burgers.




We had a wonderful afternoon relaxing in the living room, devouring our lunches, chatting about sports, and telling stories.  This was the first time that just our Dads came over and it was an awesome way to spend the afternoon.  The boys were more than happy to save room for dessert, Peanut Butter Bon Bons.




And the Dad’s even took a few to go home.  FYI, the BOY has decided that the vanilla coated bonbons taste even better than the chocolate ones in case you are already making your Valentine treat list!


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I know it sounds crazy, but I could totally go for another bowl of chili for dinner.  Maybe that’s because we are watching the football playoffs and chili just seems appropriate : )


Have you made any new recipes in your crockpot?




Turkey and Bean Chili with Roasted Corn

Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine



1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey breast

4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (can sub in min red skin potatoes halved per original recipe)

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 cups low sodium chicken or veggie broth

1 can black beans, rinsed (original recipe calls for navy beans but any white bean will work)

1 cup tomato puree

3 tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

salt to taste

3 medium cobs of corn or 2 cups frozen and thawed corn kernels



In a large skillet, heat oil or cooking spray over medium heat.  Add turkey and cook, stirring frequently until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and onion, stir and cook for 5 minutes until soft and well cooked.

Transfer turkey mixture to slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray.  Add potato, pepper, broth, beans, tomato puree, and all seasonings.  Stir and cook on low (6-8 hour setting) or high for closer to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, if using corn cobs, char on grill or over grill pan.  When cool, shave kernels from cob.  About 1 hour before finished, stir in fresh or microwaved corn and cook until potatoes are soft and chili has thickened.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator or freezer.

Healthy New Year Soup

I am swapping the sugary sweet holiday baked goods in for some veggie packed recipes.  Well, at least one veggie packed recipe.  I woke up January 1st with a craving for breakfast.  I whipped up a batch of these Banana Flax Pancakes.




I forget how easy and satisfying these guys are!




The BOY and I spent my last day of winter vacation laying low, and watching some college football.  Despite finishing my antibiotic, I am still nowhere near 100%.  This definitely frustrates me (who wants to be sick for over a week?), and I just don’t have my usual energy levels.  So I took advantage of my last day home finishing my third book this break, Emily Giffin’s Where We Belong (which in my opinion is her best book to date!) and cooking up some food for the week ahead.




We did make one trip out of the house to the grocery store to stock up on some fresh produce for the week.  Since my soup pot was out and clean after NYE dinner, I figured some veggie soup was in order.  I haven’t made a plain veggie soup in some time.  Mostly, because my Mom makes some wonderful soups and is always happy to supply me with her leftovers.




I know that I have commented before on my huge soup pot.  It was a gift to me along with some lessons in soup making when my Mom and our friend Beth came to visit me in Memphis a little over 5 years ago.




Beth makes some wonderful soups, and it was with her in mind that I picked up some cabbage along with all my other veggies for this Healthy New Year Soup.




I think once you’ve made a few veggie soups, you get a feel for what veggies to add, when to add them, and what spices work best.  Needless to say, I ‘m not there yet!




So I just sorta winged it, chopping up veggies and sprinkling in spices to create this veggie packed soup.  The outcome was a thick and hearty soup guaranteed to keep you warm in a winter chill and help you get started with your healthy new year.  However, this doesn’t make it easy to write out a recipe.  I’m not quite positive what I did, if it is typical of making soup, but I know the results worked.  I will do my best to share the recipe but feel free to add in any thoughts or suggestions (I mean you Beth!)




This soup freezes well, so I know that I am well stocked with healthy options for the next few weeks (unless you want some soup and in which case I am happy to share).  Sadly, I downed tonight’s dinner without getting a better photo of my colorful concoction.  What can I say…after my first day back at work, I was starving when I walked in the door. 


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So I overcompensated by taking plenty of pictures of tomorrow’s lunch!  I must say that it was tough to get up today.  When my alarm went off at 6am, I had NO idea what the noise was (I hadn’t heard it in 2 weeks).  Even my car seemed a little perturbed to be up and at ‘em before the sun.  But it was nice to be back at work catching up with my friends after the break.  This means that my posts might be a little less frequent as I adjust to the work/life balance and for right now I am done writing because I started book number four, Eat & Run (Thanks Brittany for the suggestion), and I am eager to get back to it.



Healthy New Year Soup



1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

10 stalks of celery, chopped

1 package of mushrooms, chopped

1 head of cabbage, chopped

6 carrots, pealed and chopped

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

6 cups of water

1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained

Sea Salt (to taste)

Seasonings (I used a mix of basil, garlic, and a veggie mix)

1 bag frozen green beans

1 bag frozen zucchini (fresh if you can find it, but it didn’t look good)


Optional: Add your favorite seasonal veggies and sub in frozen as needed!  Other ideas include okra, corn, peppers, beans, etc.




Spray the bottom of a large soup pot with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Add in onion and garlic.  Stir until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes or so).  Add in celery, mushrooms, and cabbage.

Stir often as flavors begin to blend and veggies soften (another 7-8 minutes).

Add in veggie broth, water, spices, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil (this takes time with a huge pot).

Add in frozen veggies (whatever you want, but I chose beans and zucchini…okra is good too!) and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Freeze in air tight containers and you’ll be set for the winter!



What healthy recipes are you staring the year with?

Soup Before Sunrise

I decided that I was going to make soup this morning even before I stepped outside into the blistering cold.  Ok, let’s be honest, 38 is pretty typical for March in Chicago, but after our 80 degree heat wave it felt pretty chilly.  This weekend, I finally had a little time to flip through my new slow cooker cookbook




I am a huge fan of this book as it is based around healthy and sound principles and carries lots of extra nutrition knowledge, slow cooker tips, and healthy cooking suggestions.  The instructions are easy to follow and who doesn’t love a one pot meal.  I didn’t even make it past the first chapter before discovering, like 10 recipes, that I had to make.  I decided on the Mighty Minestrone.  To save time, I prepped some of the veggies last night while I was making dinner.


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This morning, it was super easy to chop up the rest of the veggies, empty the cans, add in some spices, and cover with broth.





I had everything stirred up in the crockpot before the sun was beginning to rise.




I set the crockpot on low and headed off to the gym with specific instructions for the BOY to add in the the last two ingredients.




When I walked in the door after work and a haircut, dinner was ready in the crockpot.


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And it looked unbelievable!




And tasted even better! 

This tomato based broth is perfectly seasoned and this chunky soup is filling enough to be a meal on its own!






Mighty Minestrone

From The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth



6 baby red potatoes, scrubbed, left unpeeled and diced (per recipe, I substituted 1 peeled and chopped sweet potato)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs celery, sliced

1 zucchini, coarsely chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, undrained

1/4 cup red wine

1 tsp dried basil

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Parmesan cheese garnish (optional)


Place the vegetables, beans, broth, tomatoes, red wine, basil, bay leaf, oregano, salt, and pepper in the slow cooker, stir gently to mix, cover, and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, or until veggies are tender.  Stir in the spinach and cook for 30 minutes, or until the spinach is hot.  Add the red wine vinegar and stir.  Stir to incorporate the spinach, garnish with the Parmesan, if using.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


*Chef’s tip: To save chopping time, use 4 to 5 cups fresh prepared vegetables of your choice (corn, broccoli cauliflower, peppers, sliced carrots, cut green beans, squash, etc.)

32-Bean & 8-Vegetable Soup

What have you gotten done today?



Although my toes are still pretty ugly and I didn’t work out, I did get whole bunch of things done around the house that needed to get done, including some cleaning, laundry and a trip to Target.  However, my lazy morning has turned into a semi-lazy afternoon.


Yesterday, I bought this 32-Bean & 8-Vegetable soup mix from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.






It comes with a recipe card.






And only requires two additional ingredients, which is perfect for a lazy afternoon!




I used just under 2 cups of beans and combined it with 4 cups vegetable broth and 4 cups of water.  After two hours of simmering, the beans were tender.  I added in the diced tomatoes, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and simmered for a few minutes more.




The soup is definitely chock full of healthy stuff (I can’t even name 32 types of beans) and the tomatoes are a must.  Although I don’t typically add salt to soup recipes, I thought this one was a little bland.  If I made it again, I would sauté up some onion and garlic first and then add in the beans and broth.  Most soups taste better the next day, so I am looking forward to trying it again tomorrow! I’ll keep you posted!


You can find more tips and nutrition information on the North Bay Trading Company website.



Do you have any favorite dry soup mixes?

I’ve never tried making a soup from a dry mix before…it definitely cuts down on time, but I must say that I am a huge fan of homemade soups.  Check out some of my favorite soup and chili recipes on the RECIPE PAGE!