Veggie Chili & Whole 30

At the beginning of the year my best friend from home asked me to be in her wedding. I was honored, excited, & then totally horrified. I knew right away I would need to drop a few lbs before throwing on a bridesmaid dress & standing beside her. Is it terrible that all I could think about was her photos!!! Yikes!

So I started looking into a few different diets. I knew that I couldn’t just do a quick fad diet, but instead I need to change my lifestyle. The maid of honor, who is actually my oldest friend, gave me some tips that have helped her. She told me about a diet that she stays true to & has had a ton of success on. While researching the Keto diet I stumbled upon The Whole30 & started reading.

I saw that a lot of people had great long term results by using Whole 30. They started looking at labels more, eating fresher, & craving less sugar. My biggest weakness is carbs. Um hello, I’m Italian. So I love me a dinner full of pasta, red sauce, topped with cheese & amazing bread to dip in my sauce. AKA everything I cannot eat on this diet. So here goes nothing!

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Yesterday started my month of no carbs, no alcohol, no sugar, no dairy & no fun. This past week I have been doing Whole 30-light. We had a lot of people over this past weekend, which in turn means we had a ton of food. So once those Mexican rice, & Mac and Cheese leftovers were gone, I stopped eating carbs. I still have a few yogurts in the refrigerator that I am finishing up otherwise, it’s been all protein & veggies for me.

I have been researching a ton of Whole 30 recipes, & trying to find some of my own recipes that I could change up to make Whole 30 approved. Chris has been great. He agreed to do it with me, but I am sure he will be sneaking some of the sugars & carbs at work for lunch.

Here is one recipe that I made a few weeks ago as a clean out the refrigerator recipe, but it turns out if you pull out the beans & lay off the cheese topping, it is a great Whole 30 meal. Instead of using chili powder in this I actually used Flavor God’s Everything Spicy seasoning. It was amazing!!! Much lighter than normal chili powders & perk… they are GMO & MSG free… aka great for Whole 30 or even the Paleo diet.

Try my Veggie Chili out & let me know what you think. Also, who else has done Whole 30? What are your favorite recipes?

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4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb carrots, chopped
1 lb celery, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 head broccoli
1 pinto beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
14.5 oz petite cut tomatoes
2 cups water
½ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp Flavor God Everything Spicy seasoning or chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes

1. In a pot add vegetable oil, carrots and celery and cook on high for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Allow vegetables to get tender and add chopped garlic. Allow garlic to brown.
2. Add broccoli, and all three beans to the pot. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
3. Add diced tomatoes, water, and seasonings.
4. Lower heat to medium and cook for 45 minutes covered.
5. Top with cheese if desired.

Simple Crock Pot French Onion Soup

Back in January, when we were in Connecticut, it was cold. Like freezing cold. Especially for us California kids, but it was even pretty cold for my cold-blooded Connecticut folks. One night my cousins, sister, mom & I drove up to northern Connecticut to visit with another cousin & her brand new baby. It was even colder up north!!!

She made us two options for soups & then my aunt showed up with a few more options. And then I needed make them all! My cousin made an amazing French onion soup, which she had all of the fixings for. Gruyere cheese & crusty bread. I died! And then went home & made it. I didn’t care that once we got back to California it was 80 degrees! I wanted the soup!

And then I made it 4 more times!

I’ve tried adding things in, & changing it up a little. But I keep coming back to that original recipe. There is literally nothing better than the smell of fresh herbs cooking throughout the house all day. I am obsessed with it. Try it out. The fragrances are amazing & it tastes even better than it smells.

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3 onions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
14.5 oz beef broth
½ Tbsp pepper
½ tsp salt
3 cups water
3 beef bouillon cubes
2 Tbsp fresh thyme

1. Slice onions and shallots in ¼ inch slices.
2. Put olive oil, onions, and shallots in sauté pan. Add desired dashes of Worcestershire sauce to onions.
3. Cook on medium low tossing onions regularly. Allow to cook down until just about translucent.
4. Add salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes and add beef broth from can.
5. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.
6. Add cooked onions and broth to crock pot. Top with water and bouillon cubes and add in thyme.
7. Cook on low for 6 hours.
8. If desired top with crusty bread and cheese, or eat plain for a healthier option.

Herb Chicken Dumpling Soup with Veggies

OOhf it has been over 10 days since my last recipe post. Christmas is sneaking up on us over here in Orange County & we are not ready. On top of my crazy holiday schedule at the store, Chris has been studying for a professional exam to get a title at the end of his name, we are getting ready for a trip to Connecticut to see my family in January, & of course we had to spend our annual Christmas day at Disneyland. Oh & last week Chris had a last minute, emergency dental surgery. Oh what fun.

There has been very little time for writing & pretty much no time for cooking. The high was 58 the day we spent at DLand & it was pretty cold for us So Cal kids. After spending the entire 14 hours at the park we needed to heat up by scarfing down some herb chicken dumpling soup! Yumm!

And honestly, is there a better way to heat your house (or 800 square feet apartment) by cooking? No, nothing is better.

IMG_1733 So when I started blogging a few years ago, one of the first food bloggers I found & truly started following was Christina over at Dessert for Two. When I starting making my chicken soup this time I wanted something different. I didn’t want rice in it & honestly I was far too lazy to go to the grocery store & get a pasta.

So I started searching the internet & came across Christina’s recipe for Easy Chicken N Dumplings with Collard Greens and Confetti & I had to try to dumplings. They were amazing! A perfect carb for loaded herb chicken soup. So here is my soup recipe topped off with Dessert for Two’s fabulous dumplings & while you’re at it, check out her amazing cookbooks that came out this year here & here. I have them both & they are perfect!

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2 Tbsp olive oil
5 carrots
5 celery stalks
1 parsnip
2 cups baby spinach
48 oz chicken broth
2 cups water
1 lb chicken breast tenders
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp rosemary
1 ½ tsp thyme

Dumplings from Dessert for Two:
½ cup flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter, softened
¼ cup milk

1. Remove butter from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Set aside for later.
2. Season chicken on one side with one half the amount salt and pepper, and 1 tsp each of thyme and rosemary.
3. Chop all veggie and cook them until tender in olive oil.
4. After 8-10 minutes, add chicken broth and water.
5. Cut chicken in ½ cubes and add slowly into soup while stirring so chicken doesn’t stick together.
6. Allow to cook on medium to medium-high and pull out all ingredients for dumplings.
7. Mix flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Add room temperature butter and mix together with your hands. Make sure the butter is distributed evenly though the mixture. Add milk into mixture. I used a plastic spatula to make sure all of the flour mixture is moistened.
8. Flour a cutting board and your hands. Place dough only cutting board and shape into a thin rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Add flour to top and cut dough into small squares. Drop dough into cooking soup one at a time stirring regularly.
9. Allow to cook another 10-15 minutes, adding the remaining salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and enjoy.

 

Tomato Soup

It’s finally starting to feel like fall here in So Cal. Temperatures are finally in the 60s, people are pulling out their sweaters & boots, trying to embrace as much of the autumn weather that they can before temperatures go back up to the 80s, I’m sure sometime soon. I am taking this time to make as many soups as I can. I have made a little stock pile of turkey chili & veggie soups.

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Tonight I am snacking on every child’s favorite post snow playing snack. Tomato soup & grilled cheese. My favorite part of playing in the snow was coming inside & defrosting at the kitchen table with some hearty, creamy, tomato soup & grilled cheese.

Although creamy tomato soup is amazing, right now I am all about a light weight soup. Sometimes a heavy soup is a little much, especially when it is not too cold out. Now once that fun stuff starts falling from the skies, sign me up for a heavy, cream, filling soups. But for now, I will stick with light soups that are full of amazing flavors.

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6 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopper
3 cups chicken broth
2 whole garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 small roma tomatoes
3 vine tomatoes, peeled
1 ½ Tbsp tomato paste

1. Melt butter on medium-low heat. Add in salt, pepper, onion and garlic until soft.
2. Add all tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid burning.
3. Blend using an immersion blender, or in a blender in small batches, until smooth.
4. Return to pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup

Happy first day of Fall ya’ll! Only it’s still in the 90s here in SoCal I am sure the rest of you throughout the country aren’t over heating but these temperatures don’t seem like they are every going away here.

Fall is a super nostalgic time for me & since moving to California I haven’t really been able to get a grasp of the new normal I have out here.

IMG_1134As some of you may know I coached high school cheerleading for 8 years, 4 in Connecticut & 4 in California. Fall to me is football games on Friday nights, cozy sweaters, pumpkins in pumpkin patches, & piles of leaves lining the streets. Here it is football games where I need to apply enough sun block that I don’t burn, pumpkins sitting outside grocery stores while you wear a tank top & shorts, & the palm trees being trimmed around town. Not really the quintessential New England fall that I grew up with.

So with all that is in me trying to bring New England fall to sunny So Cal I am going to be dedicating my fall season to all that is pumpkin, orange, & cozy. Today’s recipe is actually a mess up that I made while I was trying to make a simple butternut squash soup. I through a little too much pumpkin and cinnamon flavor in & Chris ended up loving it. It’s not my favorite, because ironically, I am not a huge pumpkin flavor person but if you love pumpkin this is the soup for you.

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1 large butternut squash
1 sweet onion
2 celery stalks
3 carrots
1 medium apple, peeled and cored
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup water
½ tsp pumpkin flavoring
1.2 tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper

1. Cut butternut squash in half long ways and place on cookie tray. Season with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 60-75 minutes, until top is lightly browned.
2. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool to touch. Peel carrots and chop carrots and celery to 1 inch pieces.
3. Add remaining oil and chopped vegetables to a pot and allow vegetables to cook until tender. 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Stir regularly not allowing the vegetables to burn
4. Remove squash from the skin and discard the skin. Add squash and apples to pot.
5. Add broth, water and spice.
6. With an immersion blender puree all ingredients together until desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, blend ingredients in a blender in small batches and return to pot when completed.
7. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 45 minutes.