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Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

18 Nov

I promised you this recipe over two weeks ago, so I apologize for the delay. I think it’s quite worth the wait, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

(Serves 6: Two Cups Each)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, minced with 2 teaspoons sauce

2 cans black beans (15 oz each)

3 cans diced fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz each)

3 cups cubed butternut squash

2 cups vegetable stock

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried cilantro

1-2 tsps chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1) Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in large stock pot or dutch oven. Add minced garlic cloves and diced onion; cook until onion is translucent, about five minutes.

Prep time!

2) Add the butternut squash cubes and cook about 3 minutes. Add all the spices; cook for another two minutes.

Cut the bottom of your squash off to create a flat surface for cutting in half. Scrape out the seeds, and begin to peel off the skin. This squash yielded about six cups of cubed squash.

3) While cooking, put one can of beans into a bowl, one can of tomatoes, and the chipotle chilis with sauce. Blend with immersion blender, food processor or blender. If you prefer soupy chili, you can omit this step, but I like the thickness it adds.

Blended beans, tomatoes, and chilis

4) Add one cup of vegetable stock and deglaze bottom of pot. Add the remaining ingredients, including the other cup of vegetable stock.

5) Bring ingredients to a boil, then turn heat to low to simmer. Cover and cook for one hour.

Thick and hearty

You can add more chili powder if you like. The chipotle chilis already add quite a bit of heat with the seeds and some great smokiness.

Remember to stir up your chili before you dish it out, as the onions, garlic, and pureed goodness sink towards the bottom when cooking.

I’m going to use the rest of my cubed butternut squash for an easy and healthy recipe for Thanksgiving, courtesy of the Tone it Up gals.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


Guest Blog on Fit For Moms

30 Oct

I’m on a quick morning break at work, so I will make this short and sweet. I have a guest blog over on Kayla and I played soccer together in high school and she’s always had a commitment to health and fitness. Her blog even includes an interview with runner Kara Goucher! I’ll be posting a blog from Kayla later this week, but in the meantime check out my post which includes a new recipe for Chicken Taco Soup that can be ready in under 30 minutes.

Have a great Tuesday! And don’t forget to comment on the Halloween Giveaway post for a chance to win a necklace.

Sunday (the day of rest?) and a New Recipe–Bulgur Chicken Stew

23 Sep

This weekend was jam-packed with to-dos. But luckily, I was able to squeeze in a few of my favorite things to celebrate the first of day of fall, my favorite season!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Saturday started bright and early at 6:15am. The girls had important appointments; one at the vet and one at the groomers. I dropped Edie off at the vet for her dental cleaning and check-up, while Eve and I went for a trail run/walk before heading to the grocery store. I thought the leaves would be a little more colorful on our run, but it was still great to be in the crisper air.  After indulging in a homemade pumpkin spice latte, I put on my orange skinny jeans (another ode to fall!) and dragged Nathan into town. We dropped Eve off for her trim, and continued on with our errands.

The aftermath of the girls’ day was mixed.

Eve’s trim was a success

Edie was pretty doped up from the dental cleaning

After enjoying a fun dinner with friends, I called it a pretty early night. Since I was laid up with the flu last weekend, quite a few things were piling up at home.

Since my back has felt better, I decided to risk a two-mile run with the girls. I didn’t go very fast and felt a little pain on the run, but I stretched a good ten minutes when I got home. So far, everything is feeling good.

From 10am until 2:30pm, I was on my feet cooking, baking, and doing laundry. I started out making some Multi-grain Waffles from Tosca Reno‘s The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook 2. Since my husband’s friend spent the night, I made the boys “normal” waffles; my husband is a picky eater and I pick and choose when to make him go outside the box. It’s all about compromise! I put the rest of my multi-grain waffles in the freezer so I can just pop them in the toaster.

I like to make homemade bars and snack bars when I can. Sometimes they cost as much as $2 at the grocery store. I haven’t tallied up how much it costs to make them on your own, but I know it’s certainly cheaper than that! Plus, you get the added benefit of knowing exactly what goes into your food. I found a great recipe from a fellow blogger for homemade Kind bars. The first time I made them, I knew I had to Pin the recipe. They honestly taste so much like Kind bars, I’m not even sure I would be able to tell a difference! You can check out the recipe at The Whole Kitchen. I used pecans (my parents live in New Mexico and send me some since they are grown there), almonds, pepitas, and hemps seeds.

I also made some granola from a Clean Eating Magazine recipe and some Blueberry Oat Protein Muffins from EatCleanDiet.Com. I followed the Blueberry Oat Protein Muffins recipe exactly (except for adding a pinch of cinnamon), using frozen blueberries. I would recommend using fresh blueberries or thaw blueberries the night before and make sure all the liquid is drained out. I chose to defrost my this morning and my muffins were a little too wet, but they still taste wonderful.

Muffins pre-oven

For the granola, I replaced the cranberries with apricots since I have quite a few on hand. That’s what I like about nut bars and granola–you can switch up what kind of nuts and fruits you use depending on what’s in your pantry. I also only baked the granola for 30 minutes; when I did 40 last time, the granola burned. The recipe makes about 12 1/2 cup servings.

Tons of granola!

And now for a new recipe! I like to make stews and soups in the fall/winter. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s a great way to get in some lean protein, lots of veggies, and healthy carbs all in one. Plus, if you can cook it in the slow cooker, even better–saves you time and clean up.

Bulgur Chicken Stew

(After plugging everything into, I estimate the soup yields eight 1 1/2 cup servings at about 300 calories)

1 large sweet onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1b chicken breast tenders, diced

1/2 cup black-eyed peas, dried and sorted

1/2 cup whole wheat bulgur

6 medium baby red potatoes, diced

32-40 ounces chicken stock (reduced sodium)

1 tsp each, dried oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

1) Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add sweet onion, carrots, celery, and garlic cloves to pan. You could also add the chicken to the pan to brown a little if you like. Heat for a few minutes until onions become translucent.

2) Begin to add all ingredients through the bay leaves to your crock pot. Set on high. Cook for two hours.

3) After two hours, add the baby portabella mushrooms (depending on the size of your pot, it can get pretty tight in there!).

4) Cook for another two hours.

Divide and enjoy!

Stew for the week!

The bulgur becomes soft, making the stew almost creamy. Delicious!

Get set for the week! Plan your meals, portion out healthy snacks and your lunches. If you have your food ready, you’re more likely to pick something healthy. Enjoy your bites!

Taco Salad

20 Sep

The day started off like most of the days in our home—Edie ate a homemade protein bar. On the advice of our vet I went home to check on her at lunch. Of course, she was perfectly fine. The vet was concerned about the bits of dark chocolate that were in the bar and the protein powder, but our little pup was napping on the couch when I came home without a care in the world.

After work today, I took the girls to our local off-leash park for a walk/run. The sun has been bright the entire month of August with no rain, and it’s carrying into September. In Washington, we have to take advantage of every minute!

Yesterday I made my Tropical Smoothie with a brand new ingredient, baby kale! I tried a smoothie at Robeks a few weeks ago that had kale and pineapple. It tasted amazing, and kale is a nutrient powerhouse.  It packs in a large amount of Vitamin K, C, & A, and also is a good source of manganese. Why does that matter?

–Vitamin K helps to regulate normal blood clotting

–Vitamin C does more than assist your immune system; it’s a powerful antioxidant that promotes skin repair and may help protect against cancer

–Vitamin A helps promote good vision, and keeps your bones, skin, and teeth healthy & strong

–Manganese plays a role in the digestion of protein and carbohydrates, which are included in the smoothie

Kale is pretty fibrous, so baby kale is a great way to incorporate this wonderful veggie into your smoothie if you don’t have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix (in my dreams).

Now onto dinner!

Nathan asked me why I haven’t made tacos in a while the other day, and I thought that was a darn good question. I LOVE Mexican food, however, if you aren’t careful it can pack on a lot of calories and fat (another reason I like to make dinner at home, rather than go out to eat). I make tacos for Nathan and transform my taco into a taco salad. When you add everything up here, it’s about 500 calories, but if you would like to eliminate the taco shell, you save about 100 calories. I must have my shell; I love the crunch it adds. Food is more appetizing and satisfying when there is a combination of textures.

We use ground turkey since I don’t eat beef. I also use a small can or about ½ cup of tomato sauce to keep the meat moist. After browning the meat and adding the sauce, I put in homemade taco seasoning. I use the recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef, but replace the ginger with 1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder. Then I assemble my salad!

                1 handful mixed greens

                1 handful baby kale

                About six tbsps. of Paul Newman’s Pineapple Salsa

                ¼ an avocado

                1 taco shell heated up and broken into pieces

                4 oz turkey meat

                2 tbsp reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend

I’m off to do some yoga stretches while watching Project Runway. Have a wonderful evening!

New Smoothie and Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry

18 Sep

Since I haven’t blogged since December, I figured I owed you a few recipes.

Tropical Smoothie

One cup mixed frozen fruit (pineapple, mango, strawberries)

Two big handfuls of baby spinach

One serving of brown rice protein powder

One tablespoon ground flaxseed

Two tablespoons oatmeal

One banana

One and a half cups vanilla almond milk

Directions: Whip up in a blender for 30 seconds. Enjoy!

If you are ever short on time and have some cooked chicken in the house, I highly recommend this recipe. It literally took me about 15-20 minutes from start to plate.

Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry

About one and a half cups grated carrots

Couple of handfuls of frozen broccoli

One cup of frozen edamame

One tablespoon coconut oil

One teaspoon five spice blend

A tablespoon or two of peanuts

8 oz cooked chicken, diced


One teaspoon of grated ginger (I run it over a microplane)

Two cloves garlic, minced (I also run this through the microplane)

Three tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup of chicken stock

One tablespoon of soy sauce

Pinch of cayenne or chili flakes

1) Heat one tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok on medium high.

2) Add frozen broccoli and edamame after the coconut oil has melted. Cook for about four minutes. I also added a splash of chicken stock.

3) Add the grated carrots and chicken; cook for another three minutes.

4) While the veggies are cooking, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

5) Add one teaspoon of the five spice blend. Cook for another few minutes.

6) Add the peanuts and cook for two minutes.

7) Add the sauce and cook until heated through.

And then you are done! I ate mine with no rice. You could eat the stir-fry with quinoa for some extra protein if you are watching carbs.

This makes two servings and the sauce recipe is enough for four servings. I had to make my husband’s sans veggies.



Don’t Call it a Comeback

4 Dec

As promised, I’m back from the brink of quitting my blog. Part of the reason I stopped blogging so much was because it was taking me away from some of my other interests, and I really needed to focus on some things at work. And then there was the depression I talked about in the last blog. But in order to keep things on track with my mental and physical health, it’s important that I document my food and activity and hold myself accountable.

Yesterday I did some meal planning and went grocery shopping with the hub. We spent way too much money (I blame the stupid razor blades–those things are so expensive!) but I think it was worth it. It was crazy busy in Bellingham. We are close to the Canadian border so it’s almost like our population doubles on the weekends with people coming from Canada to do their shopping. It’s nice for our economy but it’s really stressful and overwhelming since there’s not really enough room for so many people. One Canadian was literally parked right in front of TJ Maxx with their hazards blinking blocking traffic. Now, when my dad is waiting for my mom and I to come out of a store, he circles. That’s common courtesy and legal. I was really annoyed because I was one of the cars being blocked so I had some choice words (“You are blocking traffic and you NEED to move your car!”) for her when I got out of the car. I wasn’t the only one. Another gal yelled something at her before me and the guy behind me said “Exactly!”

Sunday was certainly more relaxing. I went for a walk/hike with Elisa and our dogs. Edie was acting more crazy than normal, which is hard to believe. She ran around the dog park barking (she rarely barks at other dogs) and ran in large circles as fast as she could. She literally looked possessed. When we got home I started getting things situated for tomorrow and luckily Edie passed out on the couch.

Gym clothes all laid out


Vitamins on the counter


Hat, Ipod accessories, workout notebook, and inhaler ready to go!


I started on my soup for the week. I try to make soups in the fall and winter for lunch and salads during the spring and summer. Both of them are really easy for getting a good amount of veggies into your diet. I also decided to start going vegetarian for lunch as much as I can. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to it but I’m pretty sure my husband and I wouldn’t have anything in common that we ate. This would make dinners difficult. Also, I’m afraid I won’t get enough protein which was a problem for me in the past when I was vegetarian. I decided that going halfway would be the best of both worlds.

For my lunch, I turned to Mama Pea. I made the Spicy African Peanut Stew and am so excited to try it. I couldn’t find garam masala at Fred Meyer, which made me a little mad since I was right by my favorite spice place, Spice Hut, earlier in the day and I would’ve bought it there. Anywho, I put in a dash of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin instead. I also made her Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chickpeas. Once again, I did a substitute. I have a bunch of fresh herbs leftover from Thanksgiving so I put in some thyme rather than dried rosemary.

The plans for tomorrow are as follows–


Breakfast– Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana oatmeal with soy milk

Snack 1– Roasted Chickpeas with two clementines

Lunch–Spicy African Peanut Stew

Snack 2– Fage Greek yogurt with strawberries

Dinner–Skillet Roasted Chicken Breast with Citrus Roasted Potatoes and kale


–30 minutes of intervals on an elliptical

–30-45 minutes of weight training focusing on back, triceps, and abs (I got a great weight lifting routine from Muscle and Fitness Hers

And of course, a morning game of soccer with the pup. Well, I am off. I’ve slept better since my last post but I’m still taking precautions to make sure I sleep ok. That means no electronics too close to bed time and some chamomile tea. Have a great night!

Spice Hut Review and Giveaway!

23 Sep

Okay, how long have you all been waiting for this??? I’ve talked about it at least three or four times over the past month and I’m ready to deliver.

I’ve been going to Spice Hut for about five years. When I was a senior in college I was introduced to loose leaf tea (I know, how did I go so long without experiencing this!) and I’ve never wanted to go back. Granted, loose leaf can be quite a bit pricier than the tea bags you buy in the store but it’s honestly worth it. Essentially, the tea from the tea bags is almost like the dust of the loose leaf tea, meaning less flavor. My husband would have a heart attack if I only bought loose leaf tea but I definitely keep at least 2-3 bags on hand at all times. A four ounce bag can actually last quite awhile if you only have two cups a day. Since I drink about six cups a day, I definitely have to supplement with tea bags.

Spice Hut is located in a small strip mall in Bellingham, Washington off Meridian Street and West Kellogg. I am really disappointed in myself that I didn’t take any pictures of the inside. They have the cutest mugs, tea pots, and pretty much any tea or spice related product. In fact, we even bought my mother-in-law a modern cat mug for her birthday (she’s obsessed with cats). If you ever looking for a gift idea for me, just go to Spice Hut!

I’ve tried so many of their teas, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to find one I haven’t tried. Have no fear, there are still many more for me to sample. I decided to take the Hot Chili Truffle. Ever since watching the movie Chocolat, I’ve had an obsession with anything chocolate and spicy. This tea did not disappoint. I love spicy food so I enjoyed the zing I got from the chili flakes. Since I don’t drink coffee, I like to have a black tea to wake me up in the morning and the heat from the chili helped with that as well.

How gorgeous is that?!

And hello, who can’t resist a little chocolate in the morning, especially when it’s virtually guilt free (unlike a mocha). Now, if you have a sensitive pallet, I highly recommend adding a little splash of cream, milk or even vanilla soymilk. For an even fancier treat, take 8 ounces of water and use two heaping teaspoons of tea to brew. Then heat up 8 ounces of milk and combine. You’ll have a yummy Chili Chocolate Tea Latte!

Onto the spices! I’ve recently become very interested in spices, probably because of my devotion to shows like Top Chef, Chopped and The Next Food Network Star. Also, when you are eating healthy I find the food choices aren’t as flavorful. What better way to spice things up (pun intended!) then adding some exotic spices into your dishes? It makes eating healthy that much more interesting and enjoyable.

A few seasons ago a contestant on Top Chef made some sort of chocolate dessert with a Chinese five spice. I had no idea what he was talking about but I was definitely intrigued. I love all sorts of food so I knew I had to try it. I immediately knew Spice Hut would have it. Though I didn’t try something as adventurous as dessert, I definitely improved upon a recipe I recently made.

Do you remember a month or so ago when I made a stir fry from a Clean Eating magazine recipe? Good because I don’t! I tried finding the post in my past blogs but apparently I didn’t write about it (???). Anyway, I thought that recipe would be perfect with a little more flavor. The almond butter sauce adds quite a bit of depth, but I thought I would lighten up on the sauce and give more of that to the hub (cuts down the calories!). I combined the following ingredients in the wok with a couple teaspoons of safflower oil–

1 lb chicken breast cut into equal 1-inch chunks

1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 green pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup edamame

3 minced garlic cloves

2/3 cup raw unsalted cashews

I tossed those all in the wok and added about 2 teaspoons of Spice Hut Chinese Five Spice at the end with the sauce. We put the stir fry on top of some brown rice.

The five spice completely elevated the recipe to the next level. It gave the stir fry so many different dimensions. You could taste each of the five spices individually, but it all harmonized into a great blend in your mouth. I tasted the licoricey (is that a word?!) fennel, the warm cinnamon, the spicy black pepper, the exotic star anise, and the aromatic clove. I’ve always been a little nervous and confused about what spices go together besides the obvious (basil and oregano, sage and rosemary, etc); that’s why I love the spice blend. Also, you don’t have to buy each of the spices individually.

What the heck am I going to do with the five spice besides stir fries you ask and why should I buy my spices at Spice Hut? I googled Chinese five spice recipes and so many options came up. I also plugged the ingredient into and there were so many choices. Also, Spice Hut is nice enough to put a recipe on the bag of five spice. As far as purchasing your spices at Spice Hut; have you ever had rancid spices? Not so good. Have you seen some of the “spices” in the containers at the grocery store? As with the tea, they look like dust. All of spices are fresh at Spice Hut and you can just tell by looking at them that the quality is so much better. I often find quite a few spices there I’m not able to find at the grocery store.

Now that my mouth is watering from recalling all the delicious things I’ve made, I better go eat dinner. One more small thing….I’m doing another giveaway!!!! I know I missed August but I’m hoping you’ll let it slide since I’ve been so busy. 🙂 I am going to give a lucky winner (picked at random) to receive 4 ounces of tea from Spice Hut. How do you enter? Simply go the Spice Hut’s website at and comment on this blog telling me what flavor of tea you would like.

Have a great weekend! The winner will be picked on Tuesday at 7pm Pacific Time. 🙂