Clean Out The Pantry

Recently we decided to give the “Imperfect Produce” service a try. The first box we got was really good, except for the lettuce. The second box had good stuff in it, too, but some of the stuff was on the verge of going bad–so that was a big disappointment. Overall, I wasn’t super happy with it because it felt like pressure to use the produce quickly before it went bad. I don’t mind “ugly” produce (like a weird shape or smaller than normal, etc) but I didn’t want almost too-ripe stuff. It didn’t seem like I was saving any money, either.

So it was a short-lived experiment. But the good news? We got random produce that I normally wouldn’t buy in the store and got to experiment a little bit. For example, we made a fennel salad that was really good.

We used this recipe, Fennel and Endive Salad, as an idea and instead of endive, used kale. I liked the flavor and crunch of the raw fennel. The salad went with a simple skillet dinner. We had carrots and celery, onions and mushrooms to use up so we cooked them in the skillet with chicken and then used a Tikka Masala “simmer sauce” packet I got at the store.

Dinner was pretty good and fairly easy. We’ve been trying to also work through the pantry and use up stuff that’s been in there too long. The simmer sauce packet was one of them. (I have another one for pad thai that I am thinking I will use with carrot or zoodle noodles!).

The reason to “eat through the pantry” was twofold. I was tired of buying stuff each week when we had things in the pantry and it was overflowing. We just needed to be better about eating stuff I buy!

Another “pantry meal” was stuffed peppers. I had a can of “fiesta” corn (corn with red and green peppers) and taco seasoning so I made some ground turkey taco meat and then stuffed the peppers from the imperfect produce box.

Then I topped it with cheese and baked it for 30 minutes.

The flavor was really good. We had salad with it. It was a tasty and filling dinner.

It was also nice to be creative and have something different.

So looking through the pantry now, I see a lot of things that I need to be creative with! Cans of black beans, polenta, cans of Rotel diced tomatoes, lots of refried beans…I’m seeing some bean enchiladas in our future!

What are some of your favorite “clean out the pantry” meals?

How I Get Back On Track

I’m fully aware of the indulging I did in California. It was a week of healthy and unhealthy eating. I skipped meals, I ate at weird times, I ate things I normally don’t eat on a daily basis…


The only good thing was that I still worked out (even if they were shorter, “better than nothing” workouts) and I did a TON of walking. My hope is that that balanced the indulging out at least a little bit.

So what happens when I get back from vacation? I go right back into “normal mode.” I get back into the routine of the gym (or biking to work when I can) and I get back to eating healthier meals. Instead of decadent breakfasts, back to my two eggs and coffee. Instead of eating fried foods for lunch, I’m back to eating foods in the 300-500 calorie range for lunch.

Back at the Gym

Even though I worked out a bit on vacation (and even got in a run along the beach!), I never felt like I got a “good” workout. It just wasn’t the same. It felt good to have access to the weights I needed and it felt even better to get back into my pool! After one weight session:


And another day (even though I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to the gym):


Working out makes me feel better. It makes me choose healthier foods. All of it goes hand in hand.

Healthier Dinners

The first night back from California I made a salad with lettuce, sunflower seeds and tomatoes from the garden. Michael blackened salmon and I put it on top of the salad. Instead of having a glass of wine I had water.


Man, I had missed vegetables! That’s one thing that always always happens on vacation–I miss eating fresh produce on a regular basis. I eat fruit and veggies for snacks so when I don’t get that on vacation I just feel like crap.

I tried out a new recipe for pork chops over the weekend. It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten pork chops at Costco and it’s nice that we have them in the freezer again. The pork chops are so low in calories and healthy it’s hard to pass them up. Just a tip: if you get the boneless pork chops at Costco, cut them in half lengthwise because they are so huge!

Slow Cooker Pork Chops

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 1 pork chop

Calories per serving: 371 calories

From: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pork-chops-for-the-slow-cooker/?scale=6&ismetric=0


  • 6 boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place pork chops in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork chops.
  2. Cook on Low setting for 6 hours, until internal temperature of pork has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

The dinner was good. It was a lot like another recipe I’ve done with chicken (and chicken could easily be substituted in this recipe) but I think I liked the chicken and soy sauce recipe better. It had more “kick.” This recipe tasted good, though, don’t get me wrong. And it would be an easy one for a weeknight dinner.


I fixed some rice and steamed broccoli to go with the pork chop. I did 4 pork chops instead of the 6 that the full recipe called for so I could have some leftovers for lunches. For the leftovers I shredded the pork chops.

Another night I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. I was going into work late because I had an appointment so I had some extra time to throw things into the crockpot before leaving the house. I’m glad I did! It ended up being a crazy busy day for both of us and neither was interested in doing much when we got home.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Crockpot)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 8 servings depending on the size

Calories per serving: 370 calories for 8 servings

From: http://www.chef-in-training.com/2011/12/crockpot-chicken-tortilla-soup/


  • 2 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans Ro-Tel (I like the lime & cilantro, but the regular is fine)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder*
  • 1 Tbsp chile powder*
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin*
  • 1 Tbsp dried cilantro*
  • tortilla chips
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese


  1. Instead of these spices, you could include a packet of Taco seasoning if you prefer.*
  2. Put chopped onion, cans of beans, rotel, corn, chicken broth, water, and spices in CrockPot and stir to mix. Put chicken breasts on top of mixture and make sure they’re at least partly submerged in liquid.
  3. Cook on high 6-7 hours or low 8-9 hours. Before serving remove the chicken breasts from soup and shred, if needed, (sometimes they’ll just fall apart on their own, but sometimes they need some help). Return chicken to CrockPot, stir to combine.
  4. To serve put a few tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, ladle soup over tortilla chips, top with shredded cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream, serve with more chips if you like.

I’ve done a few different chicken tortilla soup recipes and I think this one was my favorite so far. I added some diced home-pickled jalapenos for some extra spice. It was good!


I added some shredded white cheddar cheese (that was all I had) and a spoonful of sour cream. I had some tortilla chips on the side. It was super filling and I had SO MANY leftovers it was ridiculous. Why don’t I ever learn that every crockpot recipe should be halved and there will still be tons of leftovers? Whatever. I put half of it in a tupperware to freeze for later.

Michael also made some gluten free pancakes that were actually really good! He used the Bob’s Red Mill mix and the calories weren’t crazy. The pancakes tasted good too. I added these to the breakfast rotation.

Skipping Dessert

Michael and I only got dessert one night we were in California–the Sweet Rose Creamery (it was so good) but that doesn’t mean I need to get back into the habit of eating dessert every night now that I’m back. I decided to take a break from eating dessert whenever I can once I was home.

This is a hard one for me. I WANT to have something sweet after dinner. It’s a habit, it’s something I like and crave. When I refrain from dessert I often feel like I’m on a diet or I’m very restrictive. It feels like the opposite of “everything in moderation.” But the one thing I can say is that it’s short term. Everything in moderation will be back soon.

QUESTION: How to get back on track after vacation?