Chorizo and Bean Soup

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Hello Winter!

All the sudden it got very, very cold.  We went from having a 60 degree winter break to an 11 degree day…I have no idea what mother nature is thinking right now.  I’ve been trying to enjoy the cold, but its just so hard.  I’m a warm weather girl, and I simply don’t like being cold.

Anyway, winter is always a great time for soups! Today, my mom and I made a vegetable bean soup with mexican chorizo, and it was very yummy and tasty…perfect for a cold winters day.  Soup is surprisingly really simple to make, and if you stick with low sodium broth, it can be very healthy (as long as you put healthy things in, that is!).  Recently I’ve been on a soup and salad kick, which is always a good combo.

This soup was intended to be a minestrone, but when my mom saw the chorizo in the store, we decided to change it up a bit.  So its basically minestrone with chorizo, or just a vegetable, bean, sausage soup.

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What you need:

1 onion

2 stalks Celery

2 Carrots

1 Turnip

Thyme, salt, pepper, and 3 cloves of garlic pressed, and a bay leaf

2 links of Chorizo, chopped

46 fl ounces Lower sodium chicken broth

12 ounce Can of diced tomatoes

1 green and 1 yellow zucchini

1 can of white beans

Favorite kind of pasta

Prep:

Rinse and drain one can of white beans

Chop up vegetables

Chop up the chorizo

To start:

Add the onion, celery, carrots, turnip, and chorizo to a large pot. Sauté for about a minute and then add salt, thyme, pepper, the 3 cloves of garlic, and bay leaf till tender, or for about 8 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and the can of diced tomatoes; let heat up

Then both the zucchinis and cook for 10-15 minutes

Add more salt and pepper, to taste, and the small can of white beans, rinsed and drained, to the pot.

Let this mixture cook for a 5-10 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

Now, in a separate pot, cook the pasta of choice al dente. Once cooked, add carefully to the soup.

Enjoy (with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top if desired)!

This recipe was a bit more adventurous for me, as I don’t normally make soup, but my mother was teaching me this time, so she did most of the work 😉

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I hope you all are enjoying your winter so far!

Love,

Jess

 

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Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

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So, I decided to make a dish this week that you could bring to pass.  This dip is a really, really easy recipe that is great to bring to parties, gatherings, or any other get together.  One of the hardest things when I go to social events like these is dealing with the appetizers.  Appetizers are my weakness. I end up mindlessly eating and before I know it, I’ve eaten double the amount of food than I normally would.  The same thing goes for desserts, I’ll grab a cookie here and there and next thing I know, I’ve eaten a pile of sweets.

The best thing I’ve learned when in situations where food is around for the whole party is Make a Plate. If you get a plate and fill it up with all the food you want, you can then assess after you’ve eaten if your hungry for more and need to go back to the food.  In addition, it gives you an idea of how much you’re eating.  Instead of just grabbing chips and dip every so often, if you make a plate of all the various food items, you can still have a little of everything without having too much of anything.

Another thing I try to keep in mind is to Plan Ahead.  If you’re at a party and there’s going to be a meal served, keep that in mind when you pick your appetizers. A lot of times, when I want to go back for more, if I remind myself that dinner is coming, it will prevent me from overeating.

Last, remove yourself from the food if possible.  If the appetizers are in a certain spot, then once you’ve eaten enough, try to find a different place in the room to mingle.  If you remove yourself from temptation, it will be easier to wait till you’re hungry again.

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These are just a few tips I like to think about to stay healthy and happy but still have fun!  So the dish I created is a peanut butter greek yogurt dip.  I have seen this dip all over pinterest and have been dying to try it.  You know the classic peanut butter and apples, well, this is a healthy and more nutritious (and yummy) version of that classic combo.  I also added a little sweetness with some sprinkles of chocolate chips, but that is totally optional.  I figured this would be a great dip to bring to a party because it is so simple and quick.  If you’re not an amazing cook or simply don’t have time, this is a fast way to bring a healthy and delicious dip for everyone to share.  Even if you just want to make this for yourself, it’s a great snack or dessert. You can pair this with apples, bananas, pretzels, graham crackers, or anything else you want.

TIP: If you are bringing this for a large crowd double or triple the recipe, these measurements only made a small amount.

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Original recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

1 container plain greek yogurt

3 tablespoons peanut butter

3 teaspoons honey

Optional: Top with chocolate chips 🙂

Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir till combined.

This practically take less than two minutes, so its great if you are in a pinch or just simply want a yummy snack or dessert with little to no time wasted.

Also, something I wanted to mention.  I recently found out about Aloha.com, which is a wonderful website dedicated to health and happiness. They have a healthy recipe page that has so many different recipes that are all focused on health and nutrition. I am constantly looking for new recipes and love it when I can find a place full of healthy options. You can find there recipe page by clicking here.

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Oh also, I apologize for the brown apples in the picture.  I had to use very ripe ones and then mistakenly let them sit out too long before photographing.

Love,

Jess

Turkey, Veggie, and Hummus Pita

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Lunch is one of the hardest meals for me to plan.  I don’t want to eat too much, but I also don’t want to eat too little.  Especially when I have dance, I don’t want to have a heavy stomach in ballet class.  I’ve been trying out different things-salads, sandwiches, soup, but I think I’ve finally found a meal that is perfect for me.

Pitas, this whole week I’ve been stuffing my pita pocket with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and hummus, and I have to tell you it is so delicious and so filling, without leaving you feeling bloated or stuffed.  You can put anything inside it, and I’m just finding that I like them a lot better than regular sandwich bread.  This turkey veggie combo I’ve created is the perfect balance of protein and veggies, and is just so yummy!

What you need

1 pita pocket

Lettuce Leaves

3-4 slices Tomato

1 tbsp hummus (I like roasted red pepper)

Deli Turkey

Cut pita in half and spread hummus on the inside of both halves.  Then fill both with remaining ingredients.

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Feel free to use as much or as little of the items as you like, it’s totally up to you!  If you feel super hungry, stuff the pita to the brim, and if you want something lighter, don’t fill it as much.  I love the pitas because you can really customize your sandwich to your liking.

Definitely try this recipe, and I’d love to hear other combinations you’ve created!

Love,

Jess

 

 

Avocado and Hummus Toast

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I hope everyone is enjoying the start of labor day weekend-I know I am.  I’m currently down the shore (woot woot!), and enjoying the ocean breeze and the last of the summer sun.  We’re celebrating my sister and my two cousins’ birthdays this weekend, so we have family coming Sunday for a big birthday bash!   I plan on baking some sort of dessert treat for everybody, so there will be a blog post about that soon.

Anyway, today is just a chill day, and I have been craving hummus lately.  I don’t know why, but I’ve been on a hummus kick.  My favorite is the Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  So, for lunch today I decided to pair that with some avocados and tomatoes on rye bread.

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Avocados are such a good source of fat and nutrients. I know people say fat is bad, but the fat from avocados is mono saturated fat, which means its good fat.  Our body needs good fat, but a lot of times we give our body bad fat, and that’s where the trouble comes in. Of course you want to watch your fat intake, but don’t shy away from avocados because of that!  In addition, avocados provide really good health benefits. They are a superfood, and if you can get past the texture, they are a really good snack.  When I first started eating them, the texture really bothered me, but now, I love them!

What you need

2 TBSP Hummus

Avocado

4 Slices of Tomato

2 slices rye toast

Pop the bread in the toaster (I used Melba Thin Rye) and when its done, spread your hummus onto the bread.  Next, take two tomato slices and place them on one piece of bread. Then take three avocado slices and place on top.  Repeat with the other toast. Enjoy!

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This is super easy, and very yummy! I would definitely recommend it for lunch because it’s healthy and keeps you full for a long time; also, its fast and easy to make.

Love,

Jess

Fruit and Nut Bars

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So I was shopping in Whole Foods the other day, which is a really dangerous place for me.  I can spend a ton of money in that store because I’m just so intrigued by all the fancy health foods.  When I get to the bar aisle, things just go down hill.  After that aisle, I get to the register and end up with a super large bill, primarily of bars.    I love protein bars, energy bars, granola bars, superfood bars.  Basically anything in bar form, I love.  You name it, I’ve tried it.  Luna bars, Lara Bars, Nu Go bars, Kind bars, Zone bars, Cliff bars, Odwalla bars…the list goes on.  I have deduced myself to a favorite though, the Luna Bar Chocolate Peppermint Stick.  These are soo good-Its chocolatey and minty goodness!  Unfortunately I don’t know how to make a copycat Luna Bar, and I don’t even want to try because I’m sure I’d ruin it.

What I am making are fruit and nut bars.  A significantly less expensive option made with six ingredients ensures you a healthy way to refuel with not a lot of calories.  A word of warning: A lot of times protein bars can contain a lot of fat.  Read the labels before buying bars. You want to make sure you chose something thats typically 160-200 calories.  Especially with Cliff bars, a lot of time they will be very caloric and actually say “meal replacement bar, ” but people don’t realize this and eat it in addition to a big lunch. Just make sure you know the ingredients and calories with bars because sometimes they can fool you.

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Alright…now onto the recipe.  These are going to be made with almonds, raisins, craisins, dates, hemp seeds and goji berries.  the original recipe off of FitSugar just uses almonds, raisins, and dates, so as long as you have those three ingredients, your good to go.  I love hemp seeds and goji berries so I just figured I’d add them in since it seemed like an easy way to add nutrition.

What you need…

1 cup almonds

1/4 cup raisins

10 pitted dates

1/4 cup craisins

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

1/4 cup goji berries

Place all ingredients in a food processor, I used The Ninja.  Mix until they form a texture that resembles cookie dough.  You don’t want it to be too mixed up, just until its soft and pliable. Then remove from the processor and form rectangle of dough.  Make this rectangle the size you want your bars to be and then freeze.  After an hour or two (I left them in for a while) take them out and cut to size.  Freezing helps to make it easier to cut.

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I just keep the uneaten ones in the freezer till I want them to keep them good and save space.

These are a lot yummier than I had expected, and most of these ingredients are common household items, or you can get them easily at a grocery store.  I just thought these are a fun way to make super healthy fruit bars that won’t break your diet or the bank!

Hope you liked this recipe and are enjoying your summer!

Love,

Jess

Perfect Grilled Cheese

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Okay, I’m a day late for fiesta friday, so I guess I can call this Fiesta Saturday? But, I have a good reason for being late to the party…I am officially a licensed driver! Woohoo! If you’re in Jersey look out, I’ll be on the road.  The driving test may actually have been one of the most stressful moments of my seventeen years.  I was clutching the wheel for dear life and I’m pretty sure the instructor could tell I was super nervous.  But I passed! Yay! I think I may have parallel parked more in this past week than normal people have in their entire life…not joking.  I went every. single. day. this week to practice and can officially say I know how to do it, but never want to ever do it again.

Anyway, back on the topic of food, I was having lunch today, and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted.  There isn’t a ton of food in the house right now, so I was relegated to peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese.  And well, there is nothing better than a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, so I figured that was my best option.

I added tomato to mine to add some veggies (or fruit, I’m not sure what a tomato technically is) and nutrition.  Theres a ton of things you can add to spice up your grilled cheese: tomato, ham, turkey, avocado, bacon, and much more.  Be creative! Either way, a plain grilled cheese is just as good! To health it up, I used pumpernickel bread.  I love pumpernickel bread, and it has a lot of health benefits. It’s a brown bread, and brown bread-rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat/grain are better choices than white bread.  Another way to avoid using too much butter is to take a very small amount of butter and spread it over the pan to lightly grease the pan for the grilled cheese. If you butter the sides of the bread, you can end up using more than you need. For cheese, I used Naturally Slender American Cheese.  My mother gets this in the deli aisle and it is supposed to be lower fat and calories than regular cheese.

What you need

Pumpernickel Bread

Naturally Slender American Cheese

Tomato

Small amount of butter

Heat a pan to medium heat and lightly spread the butter on the pan.  Place on slice of bread on the pan, add your cheese and tomato and other bread slice. Press on sandwich gently and let cook.  Once edges appear to be getting golden, flip sandwich. I usually check and see what it looks like.  If you like your grilled cheeses cooked longer leave it on longer and vice versa. Let cook until golden and then remove. With the pumpernickel, it’s really hard to tell when its ready to flip, so just be careful and eyeball it.

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Hope you are enjoying your saturday!

Love,

Jess