soup du jour

I have been seriously obsessed with soup this fall. I already shared this tomato soup recipe with you all a couple of weeks ago.  That tomato soup used to have my heart. It was the soup to end all soups…

…Until I met butternut squash, that is. And the little booger stole my heart at first taste. I am obsessed. I’ve made it multiple times. In fact, I have some in the fridge waiting to be eaten after I post this. I originally had it at my mom’s house (thanks, mom). Then it became my mission to make this soup and spread the word that this is now the soup to end all soups. You’re welcome.

I do make a couple revisions to the aforementioned recipe:

-Add 8 baby carrots to the apple/onion sautee
-Use 2 cups water instead of 2 1/2 cups water (we like our soups thick)
-Use 2% milk instead of heavy cream
-Use dried sage instead of fresh (I have it on hand)

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Ok, are veggies not your thing? Do you need some meat in your life? I have a pretty darn good beef & sausage chili recipe for you… One that the big frijol named a top contender. Again, thanks to my mom for the recipe. However, I used my creative license to make some changes to the recipe as follows:

Beef & Sausage Chili

1 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground sausage
1 small yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 1/2 (each can 28 oz) cans tomatoes with liquid. I realize 1 1/2 is obnoxious but that’s what I do. Use the whole two if you want.
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15.5oz dark red kidney beans)
3 tablespoons chili powder (to taste – I usually add more)
2 teaspoons cayenne
salt and pepper (to taste)

[NOTE on canned foods. Many companies use a canning process that adds BPA to the liner. Yes, that means you end up ingesting BPA, which is bad for your body. I doubt this is news to you but I suggest you find a company that does not use BPA in the can liner. I buy Eden Organic cans found at Whole Foods.]

Cook beef and sausage. Remove from pan to dry on paper towel.

Add chopped onion and green pepper to the pan and saute (saute in the grease of the meat pan. Nice & healthy)

Place canned tomatoes and tomato sauce in the blender and puree. You can make it as chunky as you want but the big frijol doesn’t like pieces of tomato in his soup so I make it pretty smooth. (Note: Don’t drain tomatoes)

Put the tomato mixture in a pot with the sauteed onion/green pepper, kidney beans (don’t drain), cooked meat, and seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.  Serve with cheese on top, avocado, whatever floats your boat.

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Ok, so you want something with meat but not quite ready to commit to clogging some arteries with the ground beef and sausage? You could try this tortilla soup recipe with shredded chicken on top. I made this for the bean family last night, and it went over with a thumbs-up. You should know that this is a brothy recipe. Also, I used New Mexico chiles instead of guajillo chiles. Then I threw in one small arbol for a little heat. It definitely came out spicy but yummm.

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Any other soup lovers out there? Anyone have any recipes to share? If you end up making some of these soups definitely let me know which one is your favorite. I hope you guys are making today a good one. I’m off to enjoy me some butternut squash love in a bowl.

xo, lw

PS: If you’re not watching the show Scandal, you should start. So good.

on the bandwagon

Let’s talk about nutrition today, shall we? Everybody and their mother has an opinion about nutrition. It’s overwhelming and frankly it can be quite annoying when people push their beliefs on you, especially when there is no scientific basis.

Here is my motto that I am sharing ((not pushing)) with you. You are what you eat. Eat crap and you feel like crap. Eat naturally and you feel your best. And then there are people who eat fast food for every meal, feel amazing and live well into their nineties. That’s what we call an anomaly, folks.

I also like to tell myself if it wasn’t food 200 years ago, then it’s not food now. Put down the deep-fried twinkie. If you know me, then you know I love licorice. Were Twizzlers around in the 1800s?

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A couple of years ago, I use to give Lu a hard time for jumping on the Paleo bandwagon. Eat like a caveman? Who would want to do that when we have modern agriculture? You’re telling me a caveman would have turned town a cheese danish? I don’t think so. Plus the life expectancy of a caveman was probably around 30-something, and I’m looking to live three times that. It’s not a caveman’s life for me…

Or could it be? Here is the unexpected twist in this story. Lu and I are going Paleo. Yep, the hater has turned into the hated. As much as I dislike restricting certain things in my diet, I love the concept of eating food from the earth. Nothing processed. Ok, only a little something processed. We are making an addendum to include oatmeal and quinoa because this girl can’t go without either. Perhaps I should have said we are going Paleo-ish. Any true Paleo people out there will immediately call us frauds for adding a couple of grains into the diet. Haters gonna hate.

I don’t usually set limits on my eats (Oh, except for here and here… I’m a serial offender). But why not give this a try? It can’t hurt.

For those who don’t know, the Paleo diet consists of fish, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, diary products, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. I hardly eat red meat so it’ll be chicken and pork for me.

You may be asking if there is a motive behind this madness. Or you likely don’t care. I’ve mentioned a couple times on this blog that I want to follow an eating plan during marathon training this year and the Paleo-ish diet is what I’ve selected. I’m not guaranteeing perfection from now until October but my plan is to stick with it as much as possible and see how I feel. I like how Paleo focuses on protein intake because that is what I am usually lacking and what my muscles need to recover. Don’t worry, I will still be able to carb load before long runs with the quinoa and oatmeal. And I’ll still take sugar fuel on long runs because running twenty miles without some pick-me-up is just downright wrong.

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Anybody out there following a Paleo-ish diet? Anybody want to jump on the bandwagon with me?! There are some hardcore advocates of this thing. What are you guys up to today? I’m purchasing a new pair of Pure Flow 2s later and I’m excited to see how they compare to the original Pure Flows. Hope you all have a great Thursday. Make it a good one.

xo, lw

 

summer solstice

Happy Summer Solstice to you. Summer has officially arrived in the northern hemisphere. Chicago will have 15 hours and 13 minutes of sunlight today with the sunrise at 5:16am and a sunset at 8:29pm. After today we start the slow decent into darkness, as the days get shorter and shorter… But let’s not think about that now. Let’s enjoy these long summer days and warm summer nights. It’s finally going to be in the 90s in Chicagoland this weekend. Maybe I’ll roll my windows down and cruise to some Florida Georgia Line (loving that song right now. Who’s with me?). What are you doing to enjoy summer? Who wants to celebrate by getting sushi with me?

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While we’re talking about the elements, has anyone heard of a supermoon? A supermoon is the closest full moon of the calendar year, which means it appears bigger and brighter to the little people on earth. A supermoon will rise in the night sky this weekend. Keep an eye out for this lunar wonder.

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What have I done on this summer solstice morning? I woke up and did my training run before breakfast. I’m trying to run before breakfast as often as possible because I keep finding articles online that suggest exercising on empty improves glucose tolerance. After the run, I came home and enjoyed some of this:

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Those are scrambled egg whites with a veggie sausage patty, avocado, a sprinkle of feta cheese and cholula. I also mixed up one of my greenish smoothies. Good stuff.

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What’s happening in your world today? Hope you’re making this summer day a good one!

xo, lw

we might have a problem.

Good morning. Coffee in my Boulder cup makes me miss Colorado. Ah, lazy mornings. Big bean on the couch next to me watching Nadal pick his wedgie before each serve in his match against Federer the Italian Open. The perfect Sunday morning.

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The temperature is climbing into the eighties today, which makes me giddy to get outside. But first, let’s talk our problem… because might have a sushi problem.

Earlier last week I was up in Lincoln Park getting my nails-did at a spot that just so happens to be close to one of our most favorite sushi spots ever, Toro. In true bean fashion, once I realized that I was mere blocks from Toro and they were about to open, I couldn’t get past the idea of sushi for dinner (even though I had already planned to make a curried chicken & quinoa dish). I warned Lu I was -this close- to picking up sushi to go and his response of “do it” made me love him just a little bit more than I already did (if that’s possible). So we had a random mid-week sushi dinner that didn’t disappoint. If you ever go to Toro, our must gets every time are: sunny, kamakazi & el fuego.

Last night we went out to a place in the west loop, Sushi Dokku, with our favorite Chicago couple. One word: b-l-i-s-s. Their sushi literally melts in your mouth. The flavor combos are amazing. Their sauces? The best. I could eat this for dinner every single night. I got sad when it all ended.

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Look at that cute little design they made with the sauce. I love it. I couldn’t imagine my life without raw salmon and I hope I never have to. Oh, except one day in the future when the bean family is with child. That will be a very difficult time. I may need counseling.

Anybody out there have a sushi problem? Why is it so.darn.good? It is seriously one of the finer things in life.

Happy Sunday people! I’m headed out for a jog soon and hopefully playing some tennis with Lu this afternoon if we can find an open court. Enjoy your day.

xo, lw

oh honey.

Honey. I found the most amazingly delicious honey today. It’s raw, organic and produced locally in Illionis.

Raw honey: Honey as it exists in the beehive. It’s unprocessed, not strained (and therefore may have wax bits) and never heated above natural hive temperature, which is around 115 degrees Fahrenheit (see: this article). It is heaven in a jar. It tastes worlds better than processed honey a la the clover honey bear (remember that as a kid?). Not only does it taste better, but raw honey is much better for you. Heating and conventional processing breaks down the powerful enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in raw honey.  Plus, it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The honey bee is a pretty amazing lil creature. They’re kinda cute, too.

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I have officially fallen for Y.S. Eco Bee Farms honey. For those of you in Chicago, Whole Foods on Huron sells this product and it’s local which is an added bonus. This may become my new favorite food.

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It. is. so. good. I think that all of you should go out and get some or order it online here. Do you guys like honey? What are your favorite healthy foods right now? Anybody ever been to a bee farm? As much as I’m lovin this honey, I don’t think I’d ever want to go to a bee farm… swarms of bees. Yikes.

In random news, my new favorite song is Treasure by Bruno Mars. I listened to it on repeat during today’s lake front run. 5 miles, average pace 8:19 min/mile. Not sure why it says my pace is 5:04 on the Garmin pic – it’s obviously an error. I’ve never run at that pace before but if Garmin wants to tell me I did, I’ll claim it. ;)

photo-43I hope everybody is enjoying this day and making it a good one. Half way to the weekend…

xo, lw

a greenish smoothie for you.

Say hello to my new favorite smoothie concoction. Let’s call it the Greenish Smoothie. It’s refreshing. It’s healthy. It’s sort-of green… Yep, it’s actually brown but since it has some quality greens in it, it deserves that green recognition all of the cool smoothies get.

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Here are the ingredients. I’m giving approximate measurements but what I really do is just throw in random amounts of the following yummy foods….

2 cups-ish of spinach
3 large kale leaves
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 banana
1/2 apple
1/2 orange
ice cubes. about 8- 10
very cold water. about 1/2 a cup
a spoonful of almond butter (*key ingredient. why? because nut butter is the best thing ever.)

It may float your boat to add some protein powder to this smoothie. I use to. But now I’m a little freaked out by protein powder because it seems unnatural and I don’t even know how in the heck it’s made. The ingredients are strange. But by all means, throw some in if that’s your jam. To each his own.

There’s a method to this smoothie. Don’t just put it all in at once. I first put in the fruits and ice then blend. After that is liquified, I throw in the greens and a spoonful of almond butter. Blend. Then add cold water last to make it the consistency you desire. Holy yum.

I like to drink this as part of a meal. It’s a quick and easy way to get a boatload of fresh fruits/veggies into your day. Mmm. Anybody have some favorite smoothie recipes to share?

Have a great Monday. Whatever it is you’re doing today, do it with enthusiasm! And make your day a good one.

xo, lw

hello there.

Hello there. It’s been a few days… Or so. What’s new?

The big frijol and I have been loving this spring weather in Chicago! I’ve been jogging on the lakefront and even dragged Lu along once. Running with him is the best! Except that he puts my endurance and speed to shame. Why is running so easy for dudes? Don’t answer that… we all know why. ;-) Anyway, my hamstrings have been crazy tight ever since that 17-miler almost two weeks ago. I’ve had to amp up my stretching this past week. I’ve also been lifting weights consistently since this post so I’m sure that’s adding to the soreness. The tightness slowed my pace down pretty significantly and made me fatigue faster than normal. But it ain’t no thang… I’m feeling good now and I have a nice 8 miler planned for today. It’s 70s and sunny. Perfection.

photo-29Spring time in the city. Can you spy the bean?

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I’m craving a beach vacation. Anybody want to take me to Hawaii?

This past weekend Lu and I babysat our kitten niece, Sophie. She is a hoot. Most of the day she is a wild thing running around and playing as kittens do. And then in the afternoon she’ll poop out and sleep like she’s dead to the world. When she’s sleepy she is so cuddly and sweet. I love her. When my brother came to pick her up on Sunday afternoon I was sad to see her leave us… I actually missed her. I want a kitten. Here’s a picture of sleepy Sof-a-loaf.

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This weekend we also celebrated Cinco de Mayo of course. Margaritas, one of my all time favorite beverages, hit the spot. I made my delicious homemade guacamole and these BBQ enchiladas from HowSweet Blog. I love love love How Sweet It Is. She is my absolute favorite food blogger out there. If you’re not reading her blog then something is wrong with you.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope everybody is having a wonderful start to May and enjoying life these days. I’ll see you soon with a special post for my fellow nurses out there. Happy Nurse’s Week!

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xo, lw

 

Running into the wind… Both ways

Who strongly dislikes wind? Say it with me now. Running into the wind is the worst. Ok, it’s not as bad as rain. But it’s bad. I was jogging on the lake front yesterday. Side note- It was freezing but I ran anyway. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’ve just got the itch for outdoor running.

I started my run jogging into the wind. I was frustrated because it’s so dang hard but I was ok with it. I’d prefer to run into the wind on the way out and then cruise on the way back. So I’m five miles out and I turn around. What do I encounter? I stronger wind. Excuse me? Don’t. Don’t do that, wind. For the last mile outbound I was dreaming about turning around and getting some relief. What a cruel joke. How does that even work? How can the wind be blowing in opposite directions simultaneously? Oh Chicago.

For the remaining five miles I fought the urge to stop or slow down. Instead, I used my favorite visualization to keep me going. I like to visualize a rope tied around my waist that is attached to a team of horses who are pulling me. For whatever weird reason that image energizes me and makes the task at hand seem a tad bit easier. Horses are gorgeous and powerful. Do you visualize anything when you run? What helps you get through the tough moments?

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Yesterday’s run was 10 miles in 01:24:31 (8:27 min/mile). Today is a work day aka a rest day. I really need to do some cross training/weight lifting/yoga. Something other than running. Maybe tomorrow. ; )

Last night we had one of my favorite side dishes, sweet potato fries. If you haven’t yet jumped on the sweet po fry bandwagon, you need to. Cut them up, drizzle olive oil, cracked black pepper, paprika & cajun seasoning. Stick them in a 425 degree oven for thirty-ish minutes. You won’t be able to stop eating them. I apologize in advance.

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And here is a picture of my niece Sophie just because she is cute. Her momma sent me these yesterday. She was entertaining herself with an old toilet paper roll. What a cutie.

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Happy hump day. Enjoy your day and make it a good one.

xo, lw

a recipe for you

Last night I was inspired to make something exciting and new. Lu and I usually have the same old dinners and while they’re good, they do get a little bit boring some nights. I had a random craving for stuffed shells yesterday. I looked at various recipes online and couldn’t find the right one so I ended up creating my own. I had inspiration from this recipe. Let’s call my concoction protein stuffed shells because that’s what I was looking for… a stuffed shell with some protein added instead of the simple cheese & spinach.

Protein Stuffed Shells:

Ingredients:
15 jumbo shells (I looked for whole wheat but couldn’t find them. That would be ideal.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
5 cups uncooked spinach
2 chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup quinoa
1 jar tomato & basil tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups 1% fat small curd cottage cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. italian seasoning
1 tsp. freshly cracked pepper

Directions:
Bake plain chicken breasts in 350 degree oven until done. Cook shells according to directions. Cook quinoa. Heat olive oil in skillet and saute garlic. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Let the spinach cool and shred the chicken.

In a bowl, mix together cottage cheese, shredded chicken, quinoa, sauteed spinach, parmesean cheese, beaten raw egg, italian seasoning and pepper. Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Fill shells with aforementioned mixture. Line them up in your casserole dish and cover with the rest of the tomato sauce.

Put in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Here’s my amateur iPhone photo that actually makes the dish look kind of nasty but I felt like I should post a pic. This is all I got and it was obviously after we served ourselves. The conclusion… it was quite good and very filling. I’ll make it again sometime. Taking leftovers for lunch today.

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Have you guys made any tasty dishes this week? Do you like cooking? I enjoy cooking and I don’t even mind cleaning up. The big frijol sure got lucky.

Yesterday’s workout:
2 mile warm-up
1 mile sprint (6:47)
1 mile recovery
1 mile sprint (6:44)
2 mile cool-down

Then I did a whole lot of stretching and foam rolling. Good girl. Now I’m enjoying my oatmeal and coffee on this rainy, nasty morning. Make it a good day!

xo, lw

I’m attempting something crazy. Again.

It’s no secret that I have a wicked sweet tooth. I can’t help it. I just love sweets, and I feel like I’m constantly trying to cut back. I usually do pretty good at home because I don’t invite my nemesis inside. But when sweets are around? Look out. I’m definitely an all-or-nothing type when it comes to some sugar. Eat half of a candy bar? Impossible. It’d be far easier for me to eat none than to eat half. Or would it? Oh shucks.

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With that said, I’m doing it again. I’m cutting out sweets cold turkey and this time I’m not doing it alone. Kelly [my friend and little brother’s girlfriend] and I are cleansing our bodies of sugar. Let’s actually call it a pseudo-cleanse and clarify something. We’re not going psycho with this. We’re cutting out the obvious sugary sweet foods, candies, cakes, treats of all sorts but we are not going to scrutinize every carb we eat or avoid natural sugars (aka fruit). We’re just going to say a polite “no, thank you” when somebody offers us chocolate at work, which is a nearly every day occurrence.

As you may know, this has been difficult for me in the past. I last a week or so and then I wonder why I am depriving myself of such joy. I inevitably give in and eat the licorice. Then I have eater’s remorse and ask myself why I ate the licorice. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m excited for this challenge with Kelly. I’ve got my game face on.

The situation: No sweets until Kelly’s Tough Mudder race on May 17th.

The plan of action: I’ll reach for some fruit when I need to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The reason: Why are we doing this? Sugary sweets are nothing but empty calories. Sure they trigger a pleasure center in our brains but so do other tasty yet healthy foods. I love oranges as much as I love chocolate. Why not eat the orange instead?

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Anybody want to hop on this bandwagon?

Last night several of us got together and went out to celebrate my mom on her birthday. Birthdays + sushi + wine = a very good evening. Birthdays are fun. Yes I had a piece of that red velvet cake. I went out with a bang.

photo-20Today I’m doing some speed work on the treadmill. I can’t decide if I want to do half mile sprints or mile sprints. That will probably be a game time decision and I’ll just do whatever my little heart desires once I get down to the gym. Are you exercising today? Whatever you’re up to, make it a good day!

xo, lw