Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of the hardest parts of doing this February challenge is learning how to read labels to find ingredients that may be on the “no” list. It’s really nice when the manufacturers make it easy and label a package as gluten or lactose free. Of course, that doesn’t always happen so you have to have an eagle eye. I look for basics like: wheat, flour, semolina, etc. Thankfully the ingredients lists I’ve seen have been pretty straight forward. You can find a more comprehensive list here. I also found a super helpful list provided by New Seasons (kind of like Whole Foods) with a list of gluten and dairy free items.


What about milk? I’m finding that it’s harder to find dairy-free items. Look for things that have milk, powdered milk, any word that contains “lactose” or some variation in it, whey, casein, to name a few. Those aren’t the only no-no’s. This list has them all.

As you can see, it can be mind-numbing standing in a grocery store trying to read teeny tiny labels with a bunch of words you don’t understand. But going in with a few keywords will really help. I’m definitely getting better at it but I wouldn’t say it’s fun. It’s still pretty frustrating trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Michael picked up some chips at Costco this weekend that are freaking good! They are gluten and dairy free and totally addicting. They’re called RiceWorks and they are made from brown rice. But they are crunchy and taste just like regular chips. We got the sweet chili flavor and I love it. In fact, I like them so much it may be a bad idea to have them in the house very often…if you know what I mean.


By the time Sunday came around, all I wanted to do was make something homey in the crockpot. I had a recipe for black bean and chicken soup but it just didn’t have the pizzazz I was looking for. I found this recipe instead. It was super easy. I love crockpot recipes where you simply dump ingredients in from a can.

I added a can of black beans to the recipe and of course, a little more garlic than the recipe called for. Reading the comments of the recipe it seemed that the general consensus was that it was ok to put the chicken in raw or frozen instead of pre-cooking it. So that’s what I did. I also used canned corn instead of frozen because that’s what I had.


I will have to admit, I was slightly bummed I couldn’t top my tortilla soup with cheese and sour cream. 🙁 But some avocado was a good alternative I guess…


I also bought small corn tortillas. To make the corn tortilla strips, I used this recipe. The crunchy tortilla strips didn’t stay very crunchy very long in the soup, unfortunately. But it still tasted great. The soup was hearty and flavorful but not spicy. The chicken fell apart without much effort so it made shredding it very easy. I probably should have added a little more liquid to it since the chicken soaked up some of it.


I really wish I could have put cheese and sour cream on top. I think it would have made the recipe even better. Despite that, I liked the flavors a lot and the avocado on top gave some great texture to the soup. I would make this recipe again but I want it spicier. Maybe adding some jalapenos?


Finally, Michael and I saw “Identity Thief” this weekend. I really recommend it! It was a funny, cute movie. The plot was pretty clique and predictable but I still liked it. I love Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy is a scene-stealer in every movie she’s been in. Go see it!

QUESTION: Are there any topics you wish I would write about?

Weekend Curry

What a gorgeous weekend it was in Portland! Sunny! Warm (ish)! Such a delightful change from the pouring rain. I’m sure it won’t last and I definitely didn’t take good advantage of it. I ended up spending Saturday inside–in the gym, then cleaning the house. I really, really wanted to run on Saturday. I especially wanted to run outside but I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea since I hadn’t hit the pavement in over a month. My knees were feeling a bit touchy so to the gym I went and the elliptical was where I ended up. I also spent about 40 minutes lifting weights–shoulders, chest, back.


Then to the orthopedic massage clinic! This time he focused on my IT bands because they were a bit on the tight side. He also did some cupping. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s a very odd thing. It’s based on Chinese medicine and I’ve tried it before on my back where it left huge round, purple “bruises” on my skin. The massage therapist did a different technique in that he used the cupping on my IT Bands and slid it down my leg. It was very odd feeling, but strangely made me feel a lot better afterward. The hope is that it will increase blood flow to that area and quicken the healing. Crossing my fingers.

I will be sharing a post this week with my first update on the “diet” but I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve purchased for February.




The Trader Joe’s soups aren’t new to me, I’ve had them before and they are great and also low in calories. I found that a lot of things had what I think is a disclaimer to prevent lawsuits:


A lot of things I bought said “made on equipment shared with wheat, milk, tree nuts, soy and fish.” I still consider these items to be gluten and dairy free. I’m not going to get so picky that I won’t buy something that is gluten and dairy free but made in a warehouse where those items are. Silly! I’m not doing this for an allergy reason, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

The soup I had on Saturday was the Creamy Corn and Roast Red Pepper (vegan and gluten free). It was delicious! I also had some steamed broccoli with vegan TJ’s Goddess dressing and two light rye Wasa crackers. It was a delicious and fairly filling lunch but I’ll admit I had the munchies about two hours later. I had some random snacks but I tried not to go too crazy because I was looking forward to dinner. For a snack I had the “nut and rice” crackers seen above and half an avocado. The crackers were really good! Tasty, salty, crunchy. A pretty good alternative to Wheat Thins.



Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: Makes 4
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • About 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 12 oz. bag frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Add the oil, chicken pieces, chopped onion and garlic to a Dutch oven. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until chicken pieces are mostly cooked.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, undrained, curry powder, chili powder and nutmeg. Stir until combined and let cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the water and bring to a bubble. Stir in the quinoa, bring to rolling boil and then reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. With about 5 minutes left to cook, stir in the frozen peas.
  4. Turn heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
Calories: 606

I like the kind of recipes that are simple, easy and cooked in one pot. I used my dutch oven and it made clean-up super easy.


I liked the recipe.  Michael said it was good but not his favorite. I think it would have been much better if it had been a little spicy. I’m not sure what to add to make it spicy considering it had chili powder in it. Maybe red pepper flakes?


And with every curry recipe I’ve done, the flavor gets richer and more delicious with the leftovers. I’m looking forward to leftovers for lunch this week!

The original recipe stated it made “4 adult servings”–I have no idea what that really means. Someone in the comments said they got 8 servings out of the recipe. I got 6. If the recipe is 6 servings, that makes the calorie count more like 400. Which is perfect!


This recipe could be easily made vegetarian. Tofu would work great. And you can substitute any vegetable if you don’t like peas–carrots, asparagus spears, maybe not broccoli. Be creative.


On Sunday my parents came through Portland on their way to the beach. They took Michael and I to lunch after I got home from the pool. We went to Laughing Planet because it’s delicious AND has lots of options for gluten-free, vegan or paleo friendly. I knew that would be the best option for three out of four of us on this wacky diet.

Robyn's Birthday

I got the Thai Bowl. I love it! So good with a Thai lemongrass peanut sauce. It has green beans, steamed broccoli, organic tofu, brown rice and coleslaw on top. It’s about 500 calories for the bowl and it was categorized as vegan and gluten free.

So I’m day 4 of the diet and it’s not that bad. I haven’t felt any differently and I’ve been eating really good food. Stay tuned for the official update this week.

QUESTION: Are you a curry fan?