healthy recipe

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.

Crock Pot -Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 8-10

Calories per serving: 360-450



  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole canned tomatoes, mashed
  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chili peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies, and garlic into a slow cooker.
  2. Pour in water and chicken broth.
  3. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.
  4. Stir in corn and cilantro.
  5. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.
  6. Garnish with fresh tortilla strips or tortilla chips.

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?

Thankful Permission

No matter where you are on your weight loss journey–about to get started, just starting, struggling to stay motivated, getting close to goal weight, or trying to keep it off–big holidays are hard to resist! So much good food! Halloween candyThanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes. Pumpkin pie. Christmas cookies and egg nog. What about a special New Year’s Eve dinner? The struggle is universal.

Instead of getting myself worked up about the holiday foods, or severely restricting my calories, this year I gave myself permission to enjoy the holiday and not stress about it. After all, I did okay at last year’s holiday: ate what I wanted in moderation and never felt like I missed out on something.

After skipping the gym for a week due to a nasty cold, I finally made it to the gym on Thanksgiving morning. I slept in and then went there around 10 and thankfully the big crowds I saw last year had already come and gone. I got to workout with some measure of peace! It was a hard workout. My heart rate was pretty high the whole time probably because of my sickness, I don’t think I’m 100% over the cold. Either way, I was still glad I got a sweat in!

This year we went to Michael’s mom’s house. I was bringing a veggie so I decided to make this brussels sprouts salad I found. It sounded delicious and easy to make. I also wanted something I can make ahead of time and take with me since there wouldn’t be room in the kitchen to cook. I asked the author of this recipe if it could be served cold and she said yes. Perfect!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 4 servings?

Calories per serving: About 100


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • 1/2 bag Trader Joe's 10 oz shaved brussels sprouts
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • squeeze of lemon


  1. In a medium skillet preheat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the shaved brussels sprouts and toss until combined. Saute for another minute then season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  3. Remove from heat and fold in cranberries and pecans. Squeeze with lemon juice and toss.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.



I quadrupled the recipe to make enough for 10 people and I’m glad I did! It was a hit! Even the people that weren’t fans of Brussels sprouts liked the salad.

It was flavorful with the saltiness of the garlic, shallots and seasoning but the dried cranberries balanced out the flavors. The red pepper flakes gave the salad a nice bite!

We had a nice time at Michael’s mom’s house. Michael’s step-brother and step-sister were there as well as a few of their friends. Michael’s old roommate Shoe came with us, too. And brought some tasty wine to go with dinner.

We had all the traditional fare and I savored every bite.  I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and I had my favorites: mashed potatoes and stuffing! This year I did not have seconds! I was pretty  proud of myself. I ate good food, I felt satisfied and didn’t feel like I needed to keep eating (always the challenge on the holiday!).

Michael’s brother made apple pie from scratch (he’s really good at pie baking) and his sister made a pumpkin mousse pie as well. I had a tiny piece of both and felt satisfied and happy. Everything tasted so good!

After eating enough to fill our bellies and feel happy and sedated from the turkey, we played Mexican Train for a few hours! It’s becoming a holiday tradition. We played it last year at Christmas too. It’s a fun group game.

I was thankful that I got to talk to my grandma (she was celebrating at my aunt’s house) and my brother in Philly. Maybe next year my whole family can be in the same city and we can celebrate together. It was a nice day and Michael and I headed home and went immediately to bed. What a day!

I’m not beating myself up for eating more than I usually do. It’s one day out of many. I balanced the day out with healthy eating earlier in the day and exercise. Today I’m about to head to the pool to do some relaxing swimming to loosen up my sore muscles from yesterday’s weight workout. And I most definitely won’t be out shopping!!!

How was your holiday?