Dealing with Dreary

The weather might be dark and dreary, but that didn’t keep the BOY and I indoors.  Sunday Funday was SUPER fun yesterday because we went into the city to hang with my family!




And had lunch at Revolution Brewery, where the BOY and I have never been, and my Mom has now declared her favorite place to go.




Historically, spring day light savings can be rough, but not this year.  This could be because after losing 3 hours coming home from Las Vegas last year, one hour doesn’t seem so bad.  The good food, brew, and company didn’t hurt either.




We had an awesome day and I was in bed early Sunday night with my book after an eventful weekend.  I had no difficulty falling asleep and only woke up this morning when my alarm started beeping 10 hours later.  This morning’s breakfast was a variation of this recipe smothered in almond butter before CrossFit.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this morning’s workout, but the Harlem shake picture definitely had me laughing.  And I was excited to wear the new headband that I picked up at Athleta yesterday!




This morning’s workout was 7 reps max weight of snatches with rest in between.  We started off by breaking down the motion and then practicing on some light bars.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would be able to do, but I ended up in a group of three girls lifting weight, giving feedback on form, and working together to safely add more weight. I was able to lift 55-65-75-75-75-75-75.  Not to shabby for my first attempt at snatches.


After CrossFit, I picked up the BOY for this week’s grocery store run and meal planning.  I was starving and actually craving some protein with lunch on the brain.  Let me tell you…if you are ever shopping at Mariano’s and hungry for lunch, swing by the meat counter and have them grill you up a chicken breast.  I finished my shopping and on the way to check out, scooped up my lunch.  The BOY did the same with a white arugula pizza.




On the way home, I remembered that I had leftover salad from Saturday night (that my friend made and sent home with me).  You can’t see it in the picture, but this salad also has goat cheese, cranberries, pine nuts, and I added chopped chicken and avocado.




The BOY was right when he said that this is a restaurant quality lunch.  I totally agree!  Thanks to Mariano’s and Dana this is one of the best salads I’ve had in awhile!  I only had a short amount of time to eat lunch before it was time to leave again.  Although I didn’t know when I made the appointment that today would be rainy, a massage really is the BEST thing to do on a day like today.  I had a $20 off coupon to use before the end of the month, and I basked in the 60 minutes of relaxation while hands firmly worked out the tension and knots in my back and neck.  It was pure bliss and only afterwards did I return home to camp out indoors for the rest of the day.  With such a busy weekend, I had a lot to do.




Some of which included getting my food prepared for the week ahead.  Nothing says rainy days like chili.  One of the things that I love about this new slow cooker book is that it has separate chapters on soup, stew, and chili.  They are plenty of recipes to choose from!




I used the Mushroom Chili recipe but added in some eggplant since the beautiful purple veggies was on sale.  I ended up with a thick batch of chili, so I decided to stir in a cup of vegetable broth before cooking.




I’m looking forward to digging into this thick and hearty chili soon!



This Week’s Meal Plan…


Monday: Breakfast for Dinner (the BOY’s request)

Featuring Challah French Toast, Eggs, and Potatoes


Tuesday: BBQ Turkey Meatballs


Wednesday: Chicken or Salmon with Veggies


Thursday: Leftovers


Friday: Trip to St. Louis!!!


Lunch: Portobello and Eggplant Chili (recipe below)




Portobello and Eggplant Chili

Adapted from The Big Book of Slow Cooker Recipes



3 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned well and cubed

1 small eggplant, cubed

1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 28 ounce and 1 15 ounce canned tomatoes, drained lightly (or you can use chopped fresh tomatoes)

1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, and minced

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth



Place all ingredients into a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray.

Stir well and cook on low for 8 hours.



How do you deal with dreary?

Me? I dream of SPRING!


Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms {Revisited}

First up, a ‘I’m sick of being sick’ update…

I saw the doctor today and am beginning round II of antibiotics tonight.  This one is a super big pill and the gold standard in sinus infections, so I am ever hopeful!  It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve gone for a run, and I am in need of some activity.  It appears that the weather will be warming up next week (40 degrees), so I’m hoping to have some exercise posts to share.  Although the doctor suggested not heading out for a run just yet.  Thanks to everyone for your warm wishes…I really appreciate it!




Even though I haven’t worked out in 2 weeks (other than one yoga class), I have had plenty of food to share.  As is our NYE tradition, the BOY and I spent the night working together in the kitchen to create a an incredible dinner!


What was on this year’s menu?




Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Crab Legs

Lobster Tail

Roasted Broccoli

Grandma’s Brownies


The stuffed mushroom recipe comes from Real Simple magazine.  The first time I made it a few years back, I was amazed that such a decadent tasting recipe could come out of my kitchen.  Since then, it has become a New Year’s Eve tradition.




Last year, I used a few large mushrooms, but this year I went back to the original recipe.




I like to add a little extra garlic and parmesan to my mushrooms which enhances the flavors and it makes it difficult to stop eating this mouth watering appetizer.




And any leftovers heat up nicely!




If you’re looking for an easy appetizer for a weeknight meal or to impress your friends at a dinner party, save this recipe for your files!




With the oven hot, we also roasted up some broccoli with olive oil and sea salt




And that sat down to enjoy this special meal!


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I definitely won’t be waiting until next year to make these mushrooms again!





Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Adapted From Real Simple November 2010



24 medium mushrooms (about 1 1⁄2 pounds total)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 5-ounce package baby spinach, chopped

kosher salt and black pepper

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated (2 ounces)



Heat oven to 375° F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms; finely chop the stems and reserve. Coat a baking sheet with oil. Bake the mushroom caps, stem-side down, until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped mushroom stems and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more.

In a bowl, combine the spinach mixture with the bread crumbs and cheese. Spoon into the mushroom caps and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Store for 1-2 days in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave.

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?

Meatless Monday {On Friday}

The BOY took his last final on Monday and immediately hit the city with his law school friends in celebration!  Although he asked me to join him, I had had a busy day of personal training and acupuncture (along with laundry and all of the other things that didn’t get done while I was in class Saturday and Sunday).  Since I knew that I was on my own for dinner, I was psyched for a meatless Monday.  When I got back from my appointments, I was starving and although I didn’t have a specific recipe for dinner, I had lots of fresh produce and grains that I knew I could turn into a filling dinner.  I drew inspiration from the Whole Foods sweet potato quinoa burgers when ‘creating’ this meal.




I shredded up a whole bunch of veggies and stirred them into cooked quinoa topped with dried cranberries.


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I wasn’t sure what to do regarding spices, so I went with the basics (basil and sea salt) and added in a few of my new Spice House finds.




To hold the mixture together, I stirred in egg whites and formed 6 patties.


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I baked them in the oven for ~ 15 minutes, flipping one time.


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Even after 15 minutes, a few of my patties still broke apart a bit when I removed them.  I figured this was okay because it happens even with my Whole Foods burgers sometimes : )




Meanwhile, I roasted up some veggies as a side.


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Not all of my burgers fell apart, but even the ones that did, tasted great!




Everything came together to make an incredibly tasty and filling dinner.  The burgers have a strong veggie flavor and the basil is the perfect compliment.






And the leftover burgers (although not in true burger form) were just as tasty for lunch the next day!





Vegetable and Quinoa Burgers

Makes 6 burgers


1 1/2 cups shredded veggies (I used zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 tsp sea salt

pinch of white pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp basil

2 egg whites


Stir together your veggies, quinoa, and spices.  Stir in 2 egg whites.  Form into 6 burgers and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping once, until starting to brown on the top.


***This recipe is a work in progress and forgiving!  Get creative and have fun! 

PS I would definitely add in some sweet potato next time too!

From a Snowy Start to a Sweet Surprise

With all of the excitement about the big storm heading our way, I was upset not to have a snow day today.  I had never thought snow days were possible once you were out of elementary school, but after last year’s Snowpocolypse and getting snowed in for almost 2 days, I am a big fan of ‘Adult’ Snow Days!  Sadly, today was not one of them.  I knew last night driving to my parent’s that it was too good to be true.  Our office was too prepared, with a phone tree and everything.  Plus, I’m just not lucky enough to spend the day lounging around on my couch as opposed to powering through my 12th STRAIGHT DAY at work.  I woke up absolutely exhausted, and not quite sure I’d make it through the day!  The snow was beautiful, and I did enjoy the view of my parent’s backyard as I ate breakfast (my wonderful mom made me veggie eggs).






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Although this view is never quite as beautiful!




I did enjoy the quick commute to work and the gorgeous iced tree branches.








10 hours later, my work day was over.  I was as sore as if I’ve been tri training, yet I haven’t worked out all week and I don’t feel like the best version of myself.  On the BRIGHT side…it was a successful weekend of class and I was able to apply all my new knowledge with my patients this week.  The BRIGHTER note…we have a mostly quiet weekend ahead.  I drove home with no traffic (I guess some people DID get a snow day), and I was happy to finally be moving out of my car.


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I walked into a super clean house (thank you cleaning service) and a BIG SURPRISE


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A beautifully set dinner table and stunning flowers!






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And guess who made a vegetarian dinner???




Spinach and garlic stuffed Portobello mushrooms,



With potatoes, broccoli, and onions,




And some extra cheese for the BOY.




He even treated us to a fancy desert.




It is soooo good to be home!



What Do You Get?

When you mix whole wheat pasta…

With sautéed garlic spinach….

Some grilled mushrooms and scallops…

With a splash of olive oil and a dash of parmesan?

My pre-race dinner!

Back in the day when I lived in Evanston, I LOVED going to Dave’s Italian Kitchen for pasta.  I’ve always liked pasta, but never really loved it.  I don’t crave it like other people I know and usually only eat it a few times a year.  When I lived alone, I didn’t even have any in the house.  But before a race, I truly enjoy a bowl of whole wheat pasta.  At Dave’s, I used to create this shrimp and scallop dish with Aglio Olio and added spinach. It was phenomenal!  Almost as good as their chocolate mousse!  Now that Evanston is a hike, I make my own pre-race pasta dinner.  Since today was the first real warm day of the spring, the BOY was in full-on grill mood.  So he grilled the scallops and mushrooms and I made my pasta.  All I can say is DELISH!!!  I don’t know if it’s because I forgot how good grilled seafood is or if I am just getting better with my seasonings in the kitchen, but tonight’s pasta was the best I’ve ever made!

Now, if only I had some chocolate mousse for dessert?!

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Barley Bake

I have been sick for over a week and although my appetite is returning, I’m still not  feeling the meat products.  I found this recipe for a Baked Barley Casserole in Clean Eating Magazine.  It looked like the perfect dinner to have for the week.  The barley is a whole grain so it is healthy and filling, but easy on the stomach.  Just a heads up…I didn’t have the energy to go looking for leeks at the grocery store, so I just didn’t use one.  My casserole didn’t look as organized as the one in the picture, but it tastes great.  It reminded me of one the grain salads I love from Whole Foods.

I started by peeling and then cutting my butternut squash into cubes.

You can use any mushrooms, and I found these at the Whole Foods.  Saute mushrooms with salt and olive oil.

Add veggies and continue to stir.  I also used some extra celery since I had some around.

Add barley and garlic, stir to coat.  Then add chicken or veggie stock along with thyme.  I used dried spices since I didn’t have fresh thyme.

Transfer mixture into casserole dish.  I used my largest Pyrex.  Then cover with foil and bake 20-30 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Add pumpkin seeds and cheese.  The recipe calls for goat cheese, but I had feta so I used that instead.  Return to oven for 10 minutes until seeds are toasted and cheese has melted.

Enjoy the casserole warm or cold.  It has fabulous flavor and the crunch of the seeds tastes great with the feta.  Yum!  Someone has already typed up the recipe on Spark People, so I am going to use that to save some time.



Baked Barley Casserole with Mushrooms and Squash


    1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
    8 oz mixed wild mushrooms (shitake, oyster, cremini), sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
    1/3 cup leeks, white and light green parts only
    1 stalk celery finely diced
    1 cup uncooked pearl barley
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth ( vegetable stock for vegetarian)
    2 tbsp parsley
    1 tbsp thyme leaves
    1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
    1 1/2 oz soft goat cheese , crumbled(I used feta)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet or dutch oven, add mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms begin to release their moisture, about 2 minutes. Add squash, leeks, celery, and remaining 1 tsp olive oil, cook until everything is tender about 4 minutes. Add barley and garlic and stir until well coated and slightly toasted, about 1 minute. Add broth, parsley, and thyme and stir.
Transfer to an 11-cup casserole dish cover with foil and bake until barley is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 35 minutes. Remove foil sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and cheese and return to oven uncovered for 10 minutes until seeds are toasted and cheese is softened.
Number of Servings: 6

Not My Typical Dinner

So a friend and his wife came over to hang out and he pointed out that my BOY might be less likely to hit up fast food on his way home from work if there were options other than black bean burgers and parsnip chips at home.  He also made some quote about two unhappy parties reaching compromise….which got me thinking about my recent menu selections.  Definitely a lot of vegetarian dishes for dinner.  With that being said, I decided to try a new approach to dinner. I saw this recipe in Clean Eating Magazine. I thought it looked fabulous and I loved the idea of a hearty casserole to warm up this wintery weather.


First step is making the pasta.  I couldn’t find farro at a few stores, so I went with whole-wheat farfalle.




While that was cooking, I started by chopping and sautéing my vegetables.




Then I added 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth.


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I brought the broth to a boil and then let it simmer.  I used half the veggie and 3/4 of the liquid mixtures in my food processor with a cloth over the top to keep the steam from escaping.  I had to guess on my portions and then added sour cream and the other ingredients.  Then, I returned the sour cream mixture to the pot, along with the pasta, chicken, and peas.


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I stirred everything together and poured the casserole into my greased baking dish, topping the casserole with the rest of the cheese.  FYI,  I had trouble finding graded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but the nice people at Whole Foods made some for me.




I pulled it out of the oven after 25 minutes. It looked good and smelled incredible!




We had a few house guests who were snowed in at our house and stayed for dinner.  Everyone enjoyed the meal (even the side of veggies).  Plus we had some extra Pumpkin Blondies for dessert!



Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole


Olive oil cooking spray

1/2 lb (8 oz) whole-wheat or farro short pasta

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion

1 medium carrot, peeled, halved length-wise and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 Tsp sea salt

2 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely graded (about 1/3 cup), divided

2 Tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon

1/2 Tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

5 oz roasted chicken breast, torn into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)

3/4 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup roughly chopped raw almonds, optional


ONE: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly mist an 11-cup (2.6 L) casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside.

TWO: Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions, drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again; set aside.

THREE: Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over high heat.  Add mushrooms, onion and carrot and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add salt and continue to cook, stirring until mushrooms are golden brown and carrot has softened, about 4 minutes.  Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes.  Transfer three quarters of broth and half of vegetable mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.  Add sour cream, parsley, half of Parmigiano-Reggiano, terragon, lemon zest and juice and pulse blender until mixed.  Return pureed mixture to skillet and toss with pasta, chicken, and peas.  Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle remaining half of cheese and almonds if desired over the top.  Bake until sauce is bubbling and top is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

MAKE AHEAD: Casserole can be assembled, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.


Nutrition (per 1 1/2 cup serving including almonds)

Calories: 269, Total fat: 7 g, Carbs: 36 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 16 g, Sodium: 226 mg, Cholesterol: 27 mg