Feb 242015


Lately I’ve been craving vegetables like crazy. I’ve always been a fan of veggies but for some reason I recently started craving them. I made a switch in my diet and started incorporating more veggies in my diet to satisfy that craving and I found that I was really enjoying roasted vegetables for lunch during the week.


I’ve been rotating what I roast. For awhile I was doing carrots, onions, broccoli and pre-chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. Then I did carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and onions. I don’t know why it took me so long to roast these babies. They are so good! I use a little bit of olive oil or the spray-on coconut oil from Trader Joe’s, then use salt, pepper and the Costco no-salt seasoning. That’s about it! And they come out delicious, perfectly cooked (although the sweet potatoes are often a little softer than the rest of the veggies).

This has been a base for my lunches at work lately. I love it! I tried it with some rice; for a few days I added some half a cooked spicy bratwurst (splitting one brat between two lunches); I also tried adding some cooked cubed chicken. All of those variations worked well and kept me fairly full for the rest of the afternoon.

One of the problems with the frozen meals (Lean Cuisines, etc) was that I would be hungry again in 1-2 hours after eating lunch. Then I’d start snacking on the candy at work. I was sabotaging myself by eating processed food that wasn’t filling, wasn’t enough calories and just made me hungry.

A tip that I learned a long time ago was to spend 1 hour doing food prep after grocery shopping. I am so glad I adopted this habit. I get home from the store and I take the time to chop the vegetables and on Sunday nights Michael and I cook up various meats (like pork sausage for breakfasts for the week, chicken breasts for lunches, etc). It makes it so much easier to make a good choice when looking to make something to eat quickly.


One night Michael and I went out for a date night dinner to Laughing Planet. It’s a great restaurant, especially if you have kids. They have tons of really healthy options, a rotating menu and they post the nutritional information for the meals. You also have the option to put your burrito in a bowl to make it low-carb.


I ended up ordering the daily special. It was called the “Winter’s Bounty Bowl.” It was pulled pork with Korean BBQ sauce, spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts on top of a butternut squash puree. Then it was topped with an apple, ginger and mango relish. It was SO good! And it was really filling. I am totally going to try and recreate this recipe at home soon!

Back to lunches…I’ve been trying to look for some recipes and ideas for other lunch options. I’ve collected a few. Here is one:

Carrot Coconut Curry Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 204

From: http://www.acouplecooks.com/2014/09/carrot-coconut-curry-soup/


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2½ cups vegetable broth
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes (to garnish)


  1. Dice the onion. Peel and mince 1 tablespoon ginger. Peel and chop 4 cups carrots.
  2. In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, carrots, and 2½ cups vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer; cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. When the carrots are soft, carefully blend with an immersion blender (or in a blender) until the carrots are smooth.
  5. Return the carrot mixture to the pot and add 1 can coconut milk and 2 tablespoons red curry paste. Stir until well blended. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon kosher salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes if desired.
  7. Notes: Slightly adapted from Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le

I recently had the Thai carrot soup at Whole Foods from their soup/salad bar and it was OMG AMAZING. I immediately tried to find the recipe because I had to make it myself. I didn’t find one specifically from Whole Foods but I found a bunch of options and settled on this one to try first. It was super easy to make and didn’t have a ton of ingredients. The only thing I changed: I used the Light Coconut Milk instead of the full fat like the recipe said. It’s what I had on hand and honestly,  I didn’t want the extra calories from the full-fat version.


One thing I’ve learned making Asian dishes–never add extra salt. A lot of recipes call for a pinch or two of salt (sometimes more). But if you’re using jars of curry paste, or chili paste, or other Asian ingredients from a can/jar/package–IT ALREADY HAS SALT! And sometimes a lot of it. I learned that lesson the hard way and now I almost never add salt to recipes I make when using these ingredients. It’s just not necessary.

I cooked everything up and let it simmer for awhile and then used my immersion blender to get the soup creamy. I love that blender! It’s so easy to use and it works really well. Plus I don’t have to mess with pouring things into a blender and then spilling it all over the place. So much cleaner and easier. I blended up the carrot mixture until it was the consistency of baby food then I added the curry paste and coconut milk.


The one downside of the immersion blender–I did get splattered a few times when I used the fast speed. Ooops! After everything was all mixed in I let it simmer for 10 minutes and then tasted it. It needed a little something…I added a pinch of Splenda and then tasted it again. I added one more pinch of Splenda and then it was perfect. I hadn’t expected having to add sweetener because carrots are already so sweet but the soup was just a tad on the bitter side. The Splenda fixed that right up and the soup was perfect!


I got 5 GENEROUS servings out of this recipe instead of 4, which made the calories more like 165 calories instead of 200+. This could have easily been 6 servings for dinner–with maybe some crunchy French bread and a salad. The soup was creamy and the texture was perfect. It was also surprisingly spicy!



I loved the soup. It was SO CLOSE to the Whole Foods recipe. I’m not sure where it’s different. I need to have the WF version again. I’m sure they used fresh ginger (I used powdered) and they probably used the full fat coconut milk. Maybe those small changes made the difference? I’m not sure but I loved my version. It was tasty and filling, low in calories and spicy!  Yum! Yum! I also had a bunch of leftovers for work lunches. Perfect!

What are your favorite veggie recipes?

Feb 032015

I love chili. I love crockpot chili even better! I’ve mentioned it before but long ago I found the perfect chili recipe and somehow lost it and could never find it again. :( I’ve tried every recipe I’ve come across that sounded even remotely close to that recipe but still haven’t found the perfect replacement.

This is the recipe that I based my recipe on. I made some changes because I am still trying to recreate that old recipe.

Slow Cooker Chili

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8-10

From: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/slow-cooker-chili-crock-pot-giveaway/


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped (*add more for extra smokyness and heat)
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (**see below for substitution ideas)
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup beer or beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. (Or if you are using this Crock-Pot slow cooker, heat oil in the ceramic stovetop-safe bowl on the stove over medium-high heat.)
  2. Add the ground beef, onion and garlic and cook for about 7-10 minutes or until the beef is completely browned, crumbling the beef with a spoon as it cooks.
  3. Drain about half of the excess fat. Then transfer the beef into the bottom of a slow cooker. (Or transfer the stovetop-safe bowl back into the slow cooker.)
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  6. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper or seasonings if need be.
  7. Serve warm, with desired toppings.
  8. *I used about 3 chipotle peppers, but did not add any extra adobo sauce.
  9. **If you don't like kidney beans, you can also substitute in black beans, pinto beans, or great northern beans.

A little while ago Michael and I went to a friend’s house for lunch and games and they made a really tasty chili. She used chunks of beef instead of ground beef and I loved the idea. So when I decided to make chili for the Superbowl I did a combination of ground beef and chunks of beef. I seared the chunks of beef in a skillet (it was less than a pound) and then added it to the crockpot. I browned the ground beef with onions, garlic and I added some celery to it, too.


The recipe said you could use any beans you wanted so I used what I had on hand. Great Northern beans and chili beans. I almost always have various cans of beans in my pantry at all times but for some reason I didn’t have very much over the weekend! Thankfully the Great Northern beans were something the blogger suggested as a substitution! (And apparently I need to stock up on my kidney beans.)


It cooked in the crockpot all day (about 7.5 hours total). I did not really watch the Superbowl. I’m not a football fan (in fact it’s my least favorite sport) and I loathe watching sports on TV…but I joined Michael for the game. I spent most of it reading and watching some of the commercials, occasionally watching and nodding when Michael said something important happened in the game. ;)

Bella and Fat Kitty weren’t too excited either.


Anyways, dinner was finally ready! The chili was hearty and filling.

I’m not really sure how the author of this recipe came up with the servings sizes…I halved the recipe and it made a TON of food. I cannot even imagine how much food it was if I made the whole recipe, which supposedly made 8-10 servings. With my portions I got 7 servings out of this!

photo 3

I froze some of the leftover chili and saved some of it for quick dinners for later in the week. The calories were a little bit too high for me to take for lunches. With my alterations and re-calculations of the servings I got 550 calories.

I liked the smokey flavor of the chili but it wasn’t spicy at all. I tend to prefer spicy chili. Michael said the chili was “okay” but he’s not a huge fan of chili. (Which I totally don’t understand. Chili is delicious!) I liked it. I liked the addition of the chunks of steak; I’m glad I added some celery and I think instead of adding sugar to this I’ll add some chopped up carrots instead to sweeten it. Or I’d leave the sugar out.

photo 2

Oh! And I also got to use a jar of my own canned tomatoes from the garden last summer! I topped the chili with cheese and a scoop of sour cream because I put sour cream on everything I can.

photo 1

While I really liked this chili, it wasn’t THE recipe. I’m not sure what it needed to be that magical recipe I lost years ago. It was good enough that I’d happily make it again (but make it more spicy) and I’d serve it to a group of people but…the search still continues.