Easy Peasy Chicken Soup AKA Simple Brothy Goodness

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Here it is. The soup you make when you are under the weather or heading that way. Or when you need simplicity, comfort and nutrients pronto. This recipe is SUPER easy if you already have your chicken stock on hand in the freezer ready to go. Check out the post on Making Your Own Chicken Stock to get started – it is also SUPER easy, but does take a few hours to simmer.

Around our house, we call this one: Simple Brothy Goodness

Recipe: Easy Peasy Chicken Soup AKA Simple Brothy Goodness

Ingredients

  • 1 Quart Organic Chicken Stock – homemade preferred (RECIPE)
  • 2-3 Big Handfuls of Organic Baby Spinach
  • 1 Cup Shredded Organic Chicken (leftovers from stock making work great here!)
  • High Quality Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Optional: Thinly Sliced Ginger, Cooked Spinach and Cheese Ravioli, Cooked Rice (brown or rice)

Toppers

  • 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Parsley, Cilantro, Green Onions or Chives (whichever sounds best)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  1. Warm stock in a saucepan on the stove top at medium heat.
  2. Add in spinach, chicken and the optional ginger, ravioli, or rice if using.
  3. Simmer for five minutes and remove from heat.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chicken Soup usually takes a decent amount of salt to make it really sparkle. Do a little at a time until it is just as you like it.
  5. Add toppers and enjoy!

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 6 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2-4

Soup with rav Adding in the ravioli make this soup a big favorite with my daughter. She slurps the whole bowl right on up and asks for more. My son loves the ginger slices. Mix it up and make it your own Simple Brothy Goodness!

Crock Pot Taco Soup

crock pot taco soup

Crock Pot Taco Soup is such an easy healthy dinner!

Sometimes I wonder about my relationship with my Crock Pot. Is it strange that I think about it first thing in the morning and last thing at night? That if someone asked me how I kept my sanity this soccer season I would shout out “my Crock Pot” as the number one reason? That having it making dinner-y goodness over there on my counter-top makes me smile as I walk through my (very rare) clean kitchen on my way to get other things done all day long?

For Real Fooders, I can’t think of a bigger work horse than the Crock Pot. So let’s put it to use with my latest go-to soup. Cool thing is that this one is Paleo-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, and can be vegetarian and vegan with just a few easy swaps. And it is always nutrient-rich!

Recipe: Crock Pot Taco Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 qt high quality broth (beef, chicken or veggie)
  • 1 lb high quality ground beef (or about 2 cups of cooked beans like black, pinto or kidney)
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • Small dab of butter, tallow or coconut oil
  • 14 oz of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 jalapeño, minced (optional)
  • 2 carrots, small diced
  • 2 celery sticks, small diced
  • 2 cups kale or spinach, chopped small (I often use frozen)
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 can (drained) black olives (optional)
  • 3 T taco seasoning (see below for recipe)
  • Any other veggies that sound good, chopped small (zucchini, winter squash, bell peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc.)

Toppings (pick your favorites):

  • Cilantro, green onions, cheese, corn chips, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), avocado

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into Crock Pot EXCEPT ground beef, onion and 2 Tablespoons of the Taco Seasoning.
  2. Sauté chopped onion in a dab of butter, tallow, or coconut oil for a few minutes.
  3. Add ground beef and sprinkle Taco Seasoning over the meat.
  4. Mix onion, meat and seasoning over medium heat until the meat is cooked through.
  5. Drain meat if it is really fatty, and dump the mixture into the Crock Pot.
  6. Vegetarians: Sauté the onion with the Taco Seasoning for a richer flavor, but just add the beans straight in the pot (drain out liquid if using canned beans).
  7. Omnivores: I often use meat AND beans in this soup.
  8. Crock Pot on high for 4 hours or low for 7 to 8 hours.
  9. Before serving, taste the soup and adjust the seasonings. Depending on the broth you are using, sometimes some extra salt is needed to make it sparkle!
  10. Serve with the toppings of your choice.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 4 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

TACO SEASONING: A few words about Taco Seasoning. Now here is a spice packet you do not need to buy – just make your own. Not only will you avoid whatever fillers and preservatives they put in there, but over time you can play with the amounts of different spices in your blend making it exactly what your taste buds desire! Here is a standard recipe to get you started.

Recipe: Taco Seasoning

Ingredients

  • 1 T chili powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes (this is the heat, so add a little extra if you like it spicy)

Instructions

  1. Mix all together.
  2. Make double or triple batches and store in an old spice container or small mason jar.

crock pot taco soup

Crock Pots of the world, unite!!

Looking for more Crock Pot recipes? This Crock Pot Chicken & Eggplant Parmigiana is one of the most popular recipes on this blog. Enjoy!

Photo Notes: FYI that the Crock Pot Taco Soup in these photos doesn’t have ground beef in it or beans. My family has eaten so much Taco Soup over the past couple of weeks, that I changed it up and used a beef soup shank in this batch. I also omitted the corn and the optional olives, and cut my veggies chunkier (including fresh acorn squash) for it to taste more like a stew than a soup. Have fun with your food and make it your own!

Weekly Tip: Buy a Tub of Spinach

Spinach Tub

I was busy. It happens. A few weeks go by and I realize that I’ve barely had any greens. You know, the dark leafy ones that I tell myself I need to eat every day. We’ve talked about ways to hide kale in past weekly tips, here. So here is another way to get them in.. BUY A TUB OF BABY SPINACH!

Last week I bought a tub of organic baby spinach and challenged myself to eat it up by the end of the week. I have not been in the salad mood lately, so I knew that I wasn’t going to get it down by gorging on spinach salads day after day. Here’s what I did… successfully consuming one pound of spinach in six days.

  • Threw a big handful in my recovery smoothies after yoga.
  • Sliced it thin for a Taco Tuesday filling.
  • Tossed it into my morning eggs.
  • Sautéed it with some garlic and red pepper flakes and plated it under a chicken breast for dinner.
  • Chopped it up tiny and put in my crock-potting taco soup.
  • Blended three handfuls with a handful of basil, clove of garlic, a splash of olive oil and salt to make a pesto spread for a lunch wrap (plus had leftovers for lots of other things throughout the week).
  • Drained my cooked whole wheat pasta and tossed in a few handfuls of spinach to wilt before topping with a little cheese and steamed veggies.

You see where I’m going with this? If you have baby spinach staring you in the face, you can incorporate it into just about anything for a nutritional boost!

A final example… throw spinach in a homemade vanilla milkshake with a little peppermint extract and you’ve got a green tinted shamrock shake! Now that’s the way to get down your daily greens!

What’s your favorite way to eat spinach?

Recipe: Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Take an awesome zucchini bread recipe from SmittenKitchen, tweak it up to make it fit my preferred ingredients, and – boo-ya – a super delicious bread emerges that disappears from the house in a day. We all celebrate around here when we find something that every member of the family likes (feels like a short list sometimes). This bread is on the list!

Recipe: Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs (you can substitute 2 “flax eggs” to make it vegan)
  • 1/4 cup Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1 cup Zucchini (grated)
  • 1t Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour (I use sprouted whole wheat)
  • 2t Cinnamon
  • 1/2t Nutmeg
  • 1/2t Baking Soda
  • 1/4t Baking Powder
  • 1/2t Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Pecans (chopped)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in applesauce, coconut oil, coconut sugar, zucchini and vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and pecans.
  5. Stir this into the egg mixture.
  6. Pour into the loaf pan.
  7. Bake loaf for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let sit cooling for 15 minutes before removing from loaf pan and slicing.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

Embrace What the Garden Gives You

Garden Produce

Or someone else’s garden or your farm box – you get the picture! This time of year the tomatoes, zucchini and peaches start showing up in office lunchrooms with a note that says “take me.” Or a neighbor leaves town and begs you to pick and take home whatever you can while they are gone. Or your CSA is filled to the brim with the season’s bounty.

And sometimes it goes to waste. Because we are busy. Or tired of it. Feeling uncreative. And it.is.just.sitting.there.on.the.counter. Staring at us (ok, me). So what should I do?

This week’s tip is to make it happen. Embrace the magnitude of produce overtaking kitchen counters, gardens, office lunchrooms… And do something – many somethings in fact!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Take inventory. What do you have, how much and how ripe?
  • Prioritize. Figure out things to do in order of ripeness.
  • Place fruits that need to be eaten quickly in a special bowl on the table or include it on your Kitchen Counter Challenge Plate.
  • Think outside the box or the time window. Think preservation.
  • Utilize your freezer. Chop up super ripe fruit and freeze for smoothies or ice cream. Puree overly ripe fruit and freeze for smoothies or baking. Chop up herbs and freeze them in an ice-cube tray.
  • Make jams, chutneys, salsas, pestos, sauces.
  • Grate squash and use it in dishes and baked goods.
  • Slice tomatoes and stone fruits and dehydrate them.
  • Make big salads.
  • Make big pots of veggie soup and freeze what you don’t eat in family serving sizes.
  • Put together amazing berry-licious desserts.
  • Search the internet by ingredient for recipes (for example: green bean recipes).
  • Ask a friend for ideas. Ask all your Facebook friends for ideas. Buy a seasonal foods cookbook. Have your kids pick a recipe.
  • Celebrate the bounty with a fancy evening meal – “Zucchini Four Ways.” Print out a Prix Fixe Menu for each place setting and use fancy linens.
  • Add eggs and make an omelet, frittata, quiche or scramble.
  • Make lots of something and share with friends, a person in need, a potluck group, the office.
  • Learn to can. Learn to ferment. Learn to juice.
  • Plan your meals around what you have.

Whatever you do, don’t despair! This is a wonderful challenge to have and one we will all be dreaming about this winter. Say “YES” to any and all offers for fresh, local, nutrient-rich produce this summer. Then remember that summer is a time for play, so use this as a chance to play with your food!

Let me know, what are you working with and what are you doing to do with it?

Join us on the Facebook page – I’ll be posting links to recipes and preservation methods to help us all out!

Recipe: Lots of Red, White and Blue Quinoa Salad

Red White and Blue Note to self: Quinoa does not photograph well. But it sure tastes delicious!

This is my ode to independence. Bringing together many flavors for some sweetness and nourishment. Together the ingredients meld while still maintaining their independent awesomeness. Blueberry, beet, cherry and feta cheese flavors bursting in celebration of their authentic natures. What do you think? Is this metaphor working at all?

This salad would be a lovely base for a pork chop or a topper for a green salad. It’d be great for a picnic. It is a unique and strong flavor profile so I’d recommend serving it in smaller amounts as a side. And if you don’t like beets, just leave them out!

Recipe: Lots of Red, White and Blue Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red quinoa made according to package directions with stock or water, cooled
  • 2 boiled beets, peeled, cubed and cooled
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 3/4 cup cubed or crumbled feta

Dressing:

  • 1T olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherries
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 2t Dijon mustard
  • 1t salt
  • 1/2t pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Cool.
  2. Boil beets until a fork goes into them smoothly. Cool.
  3. Heat oil/butter in small sauté pan over medium heat.
  4. Add cherries and sauté until softened.
  5. Add balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and saute for a few more minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper. Sauce will be very salty. Cool.
  7. Toss everything together in a large bowl and chill in refrigerator.
  8. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

 

Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone! Here in Northern California it’s scorching hot, so remember to hydrate.

Clean and Easy Summer Gumbo Recipe

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This powerhouse soup is hearty and able to fill up hungry family members who have been playing and working all day in the summer sun. This easy gumbo recipe is a lighter, fresher, cleaner version of traditional gumbos, and it is shellfish free, as I made it for my dad who is highly allergic. We served it with a beautiful loaf of pugliese bread and talked about how it would hold up nicely in a bread bowl. Whether as a soup starter or a main dish, your body will thank you for the nutrients!

Recipe: Clean and Easy Summer Gumbo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Onion (chopped small)
  • 1/2 cup Carrot (chopped small)
  • 1/2 cup Celery (chopped small)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1T Butter or EVOO (or a combo of both)
  • 2 Italian Chicken Sausages (sliced into 1/4 inch rounds) – I use Applegate Organics Sweet Italian (you could delete altogether for vegetarians or use Shrimp or Cubed Chicken)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock (can easily sub with Vegetable Stock)
  • 28oz crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 1/2t dried Oregano
  • 1 1/2t dried Thyme
  • 1/2t Sea Salt
  • 1/2t Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 cups chopped Kale (frozen is great!)
  • 2 cups Corn (frozen is great!)
  • 2 cups sliced Okra (frozen is great!)

Instructions

  1. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
  2. While rice is cooking, in a large pot heat butter/oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and cook until everything softens.
  4. Add sausage rounds and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, sea salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  6. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, then add kale, corn and okra.
  7. Continue simmering until rice is finished and add rice.
  8. Add two cups of water if gumbo is too thick.
  9. Simmer for 15 minutes and check spices. Adjust as necessary.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

This recipe is heavily adapted from Clean Eating magazine (Chicken Gumbo, June 2012).

Perhaps enjoy this on a back porch with some iced tea!?

Recipe: Cherries Jubilee

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THIS is my FAVORITE dessert of.all.time.

I was going to post this recipe for the Fourth of July holiday, but I started thinking you might need time to practice it a few times and get the ingredients and practice a few more times and maybe even surprise a father or two on Sunday. So find some local cherries, make some ice cream (or buy the good stuff) and enjoy!

Recipe: Cherries Jubilee

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat up the butter/coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add cherries and sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Add liquor and flambé (light on fire in the pan) while swirling the cherries in the pan. The flames are really exciting and then die out as the alcohol burns off. You just stand there and swirl the pan and everything will take care of itself!
  4. Add spices and simmer for 5 minutes or until the cherry juice reduces to a syrup consistency.
  5. Pour over vanilla ice cream and top with a few mini chocolate chips.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

 

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If you need a taste taster, just let me know.

Happy Summer Celebrations!!

 

 

The Kitchen Counter Plate Challenge: Healthy Snack Ideas

Healthy Snack Ideas

Easy questions for you today: Say you have a plate of cookies on the kitchen counter, do they get eaten? If you are like me and my family, the answer is yes and quickly. Same for chocolate chips, BBQ potato chips and day old movie popcorn. (This doesn’t happen when they are in a container and hidden in a cabinet.)

Next question: Do your kids (or other loved ones) try grabbing food from the counters while you are cooking dinner? In my family we have a little lady who likes to eat all sorts of things during food prep, but as soon as it hits the table it is no longer what she likes. This includes lettuce leaves, carrot peels, diced onions, and beans. The more I slap at her hands the more she would like to bother me by eating it!

Final question: Do your housemates (or you!) constantly rummage around for snacks between meals, or whine about needing something to eat? I am so tired of finishing up the dishes from a meal only to have a kid riffling through the pantry for a less than ideal snack food. It’s one of my serious hot buttons for which someday I will probably need therapy.

Out of these three family facts (and with miraculous inspiration from the husband), we conducted the Kitchen Counter Plate Challenge. And it worked! And it is so simple! I had to share, because maybe it will work for your household too. This is the ultimate Healthy Snack Idea!

The Kitchen Counter Plate Challenge:

  1. Put together a pretty plate of snack foods that you’d actually like to see your family consuming. Make it all easy grabbing size and make it really colorful and fun looking. Choose foods that can withstand to be on the counter for a while.
  2. Leave the plate on a counter that everyone walks by throughout the day between meals and see what happens. Does the plate empty as people walk by it? Experiment with the contents of the plate… what works in your house?
  3. Place the plate in the refrigerator if you head out and won’t be near the counter for a bit. (Or throw it in a big Ziploc and take in the car – kids will eat whatever is around when they are just sitting in the car with nothing to do.)

My Kitchen Counter Plate Ingredient Suggestions:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Bell Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Green Beans (you can blanch these in salt water to make them tastier)
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Pickled Vegetables
  • Pepperoncinis
  • Olives
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Raisins
  • Melon Balls
  • Homemade Popcorn made with Coconut Oil

This is a great challenge for kids, no doubt. We didn’t even tell the kids what we were doing, just started leaving out a veggie plate and they came by and grazed instead of riffling through the pantry. Don’t underestimate its value for the adults in your house as well. Often we are so busy and focused on a million other things that mindless eating occurs. How great is it to gently push that mindless eating into a nutrient rich experience!

Take the challenge and see if fruit and veggie consumption increase around your place!

 

 

Happy Two Month Birthday to the Lean.Green.Kitchen Blog!

Berry Popsicle

It was just two months ago that the Lean.Green.Kitchen blog was launched! The site is slowly filling up with content and recipes and insights into my foodie journey… every day it is getting closer to fulfilling my dreams of a thriving blog making a difference to those conscious about their eating.

This summer I will take the next step with the blog and begin to actively work to bring new people to the Lean.Green.Kitchen community both through the blog and the Facebook page. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, so if you have gotten something out of the time you’ve spent on the Lean.Green.Kitchen blog, I’d love for you to share it with others you think may enjoy the experience!

In honor of the past two months, I’ve created a celebratory popsicle recipe for us to enjoy this summer!

 

Recipe: Blueberry Bananza Popsicle

Ingredients

  • 1 banana (the riper the better)
  • 2 cups frozen organic Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup organic unsweetened Kefir
  • 1 cup organic coconut water

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Fill popsicle molds and freeze for 4-6 hours.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Looking for popsicle molds? There are so many great ones on Amazon! Here’s a link for the two I own and like:
Norpro Ice Pop Maker         Tovolo Blue Rocket Pops, Set of 6

 

TOP 10 MOST VIEWED POSTS

Let’s reminisce a little. Here are the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts to date on the Lean.Green.Kitchen. Have you seen them all?

Number 10: Food Rules

Number 9: A Tragic Love Story with Sugar

Number 8: Crock-Pot Chicken & Eggplant Parmigiana

Number 7: Clean Up Treats

Number 6: Enjoy a Food Tour

Number 5: The Simplest Salad

Number 4: Spring Veggie Polenta Pizza

Number 3: Know the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

Number 2: Stay Hydrated

Number 1: I Bought a Cow

Thank you so much for all the support over the past two months. Now go share your favorite post, enjoy a super healthy popsicle and have a wonderful summer!