Soup & Salad Challenge: Weeks 6 & 7

 

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It’s weeks like these that I’m grateful to have a bunch of soup stocked up in the freezer.

Conversation with the person organizing the Teacher Appreciation Day lunch at my son’s preschool that I almost forgot about: “Oh, you still need a main dish for Teacher Appreciation Day Luncheon? No problem. I’ll provide homemade Caribbean Chili.”

Conversation with friend: “You just moved into a new house? Congratulations! Can I bring a meal over for you?” (In my head: All I have to do is grab some a batch of the frozen Hearty Chicken Stew and throw a salad together and I’ll have a meal for them. Woohoo!)

Conversation with myself after running around all day, feeling exhausted and coming home to an empty refrigerator: “What am I going to do for dinner tonight? Ah! Deep breath. There’s frozen soup in the freezer. Just run it under some cold water and heat it up on a pot. I’m off the hook…Whew! Mealtime just got a whole lot easier.”

Freezer Meals

So…yeah. It’s been that kind of week. It’s actually been that kind of month! The hubs is finally graduating with his MBA (this has been a long time coming) and is taking two super intense summer classes, which means I’m on super intense mom duty. It will all pay off when it’s over, but in the midst of the chaos I’ve realized I need to throw some of my ideals out the window until things slow down and we can catch our breath. Unfortunately, that means I’ve had to make the hard decision to end my Soup and Salad Challenge three weeks early. This is so hard for me, because once I commit to something, I’m all in. I’m an achiever and a bit of a task-oriented person, so going back on something to which I’ve committed feels like failure. Thankfully, I’ve received nothing but incredibly supportive feedback from all of you who have been in on this with me. Stuff like:

So glad you are stopping if it doesn’t work right now.  I have loved the meals and totally support your stopping.

and

No worries at all Jen, and sending a SUPER big hug and huge dose of grace for yourself. I’m really happy that you were true to yourself and have healthy boundaries and are not continue something that was not sustainable for this season. You are a rockstar in my eyes…

So, I may just have the best friends and fam in the entire world. Thanks, guys. 🙂

In this final post, I’ll share the three salad recipes we have tried over the past two weeks (Yes, I’m behind):

  1. Apple Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
  2. Spinach Salad w/ Nuts Apples &  Bacon
  3. Bombay Chicken Salad

I must say Tiffany over at Creme De La Crumb has an incredibly delicious recipe for Apple Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette. This went over well on Mother’s Day! Since I’m not a big fan of processed white sugar, I opted to replace the cinnamon and sugar which were supposed to coat the pecans with this recipe for Candied Pecans made with Pure Maple Syrup from Feel Great in 8. 

My hubs LOVED this Spinach Salad with Nuts, Apples and Bacon recipe from Mel over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. There’s just something about bacon that makes everything better. Of course, I used high quality, nitrate-free and sugar-free bacon from Butcher Box, which made this extra delish. (You can use this link for $10 off your first order and free bacon!) I also replaced the processed white sugar in this recipe with pure maple syrup from my friend, Kristen’s family farm: Haynes Call Sugar Bush. Once again, I used this recipe for Candied Pecans made with Pure Maple Syrup from Feel Great in 8, but used walnuts instead of pecans and added a bit of cayenne pepper.

And finally, my Bombay Chicken Salad is a consistent favorite in our household. I took an old Weight Watcher’s recipe for Bombay Tuna, replaced the tuna with chicken and used a unique blend of Esther’s Seasonings to make this top notch. Enjoy the recipe below!

Bombay Chicken Salad

Instructions

  1. 32 ounce chunk white tuna (packed in water) Or 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded, Pastured/non-GMO is best
  2. 1 1⁄3 cup mayonaise I recommend Primal Kitchen's Avocado mayo
  3. 4 cup mirepoix (chopped celery, onion, carrots)
  4. 1 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans
  5. 1 cup golden raisins
  6. 1⁄4 cup Lemon juice
  7. 2 tablespoon Esther's Seasonings: Jamaican Curry
  8. 2 teaspoon Esther's Seasonings: Gourmet Salt
  9. 2 teaspoon Esther's Seasonings: West Indian Pepper
  10. 1 head bibb lettuce or Spring Mix


Recipe Notes

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate.

Serve on a bed of Boston or Bibb lettuce.

I won’t be posting as regularly until I can come up to breathe at the end of June. I may, however, get a moment to throw together a post entitled: Quick, Easy, Healthy Meals for the Mama Who Doesn’t Have Time to Cook. What’s that saying about necessity being the mother of invention?

Also, as promised, I will also be sure to make time to tally up the comments during the past few weeks of this Soup & Salad Challenge. I will randomly pick a name from this collection to receive a complimentary sampling of Esther’s Seasonings. Stay tuned!

 

 

Soup & Salad Challenge: Week 5

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We are coming to the end of the soup portion of the Soup & Salad Challenge right on time (at least for New Englanders). The temperature has spiked to nearly 90 degrees this week. Hello, early Summer! We’re ending on a high note: Nourishing Foundations’ recipe for Caribbean Chili. The sweet potato in this recipe gives it a surprisingly sweet note, especially when corn is also used. If, however, you are following the Whole 30 diet, you will want to make a few adaptations to this recipe: replace beans with extra sweet potato & omit the corn. Still totally delish! Enjoy!

Nourishing Foundations' Caribbean Chili

This hearty meal has a little bit of spice as well as a sweet touch. It's a filling, tasty dish and makes an excellent meal for company!

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
  • 1 lb Ground Beef chicken, turkey or buffalo Unless you prefer the vegetarian version, in which case, omit!
  • 3 TBSP Esther's Caribbean Chili or Chili Powder of choice
  • 1 tsp. Esther's Red Hot Pepper or hot pepper of choice
  • 2 tsp Esther's West Indian Pepper or pepper of choice
  • 1 TBSP Esther's G.O.G.
  • 2 cloves Garlic minced
  • 14 oz Mirepoix or 2 stalks celery, 2 carrots
  • 1 TBSP Chicken or Vegetable base Rapunzel works well
  • 1/4 cups Water or chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups Chopped Sweet Potato
  • 3-4 cups Beans of Choice Cooked; Replace with sweet potato if following Paleo/Whole 30 diet
  • 24 oz Tomato Sauce or Crushed Tomatoes High quality no sugar added, whole ingredients (we recommend (Victoria's or Rao's)
  • 28 oz Diced tomatoes Organic is best!
  • 12-16 oz Frozen sweet corn Omit if following Paleo/Whole 30 diet

Instructions

  1. To Make on Stovetop:

    Heat oil in frying pan. Cook mirepoix for 2-3 minutes, add meat, then spices.

    Cook completely. (~5 min)

    Add 1/4 cup water & allow to simmer

    In large pot, combine this mixture with ~4 cups beans or sweet potatoes, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, for approx. 10 min.

    Add frozen corn.

    Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream etc.

Recipe Notes

To Cook in Instant Pot:

Using the sauté function on your Instant Pot, heat oil, then cook mirepoix for 2-3 minutes.

Add meat, then spices. Cook completely. (~5 min)

Add all other ingredients EXCEPT for corn.

Secure lid and set Instant Pot to 40 minutes on manual.

Allow for natural pressure release

Add corn at end.

Since I only made one meal this week, I had a little bit of extra time to mess around with a good and good-for-you dessert. This Avocado Chocolate Mousse by Food52 is UHmazing. I love it! Definitely worth a try.

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I did this week!

Spring Soup & Salad Challenge Week 4

Soup and Salad week 4

It has been a wonderful week, jam-packed with fun, friends and food (which I’ll get to in this post, I promise). One of the highlights included hosting Steve and Susan Vinton, founders of Village School International, while they were here in the Boston area. Back in 2008 I taught with Village Schools and lived in the little village of Sawala, Tanzania. My husband and I returned there in 2012, for a short visit.

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As I reminisced with Steve and Susan, I was reminded of the rich hospitality displayed in Tanzanian culture, particularly around food. Following is a blog post I wrote ten years ago (!) while living in Sawala:

4.20.08

A Snapshot of Life in TZ

This morning (Sunday) I was too lazy to start a fire and make breakfast. I opted instead to take a three-minute walk up the road to Mama Shemaya’s duka (roadside shop) where I thought I might be able to buy a cup of chai (tea) and mandazi (fried bread). I set out, Starbucks travel mug in hand, planning to be back to the house within a few minutes. Unfortunately, Mama Shemaya had no tea and no mandazi. I decided to walk a bit further in hopes of finding breakfast somewhere else. Soon I ran into one of my students, Tatu, on the road. She saw the Starbucks travel mug I was carrying and asked where I was going. When I explained my situation, she adamantly exclaimed, “I will make tea for you. Go, get mandazi and when you return, come to my house.” A polite decline wasn’t happening, so I promised to return with mandazi for both of us to share over chai at her house.

Shortly after saying goodbye to Tatu, I came to a mama selling soup on the side of the road. A few minutes later I found myself sitting in her living room slurping soup. After finishing and thanking this mama, I continued on my journey and came to Mama Henry’s house, where she was selling mandazi. But simply buying mandazi and leaving was not an option. Mama Henry gave me a big hug and invited me into her home. I tried “my level best” (as they often say around here) to communicate in Swahili to Mama Henry that I was happy to see her but couldn’t stay because I needed to return to my student’s home. She wouldn’t hear of it. After a short visit I purchased two pieces of mandazi; Mama Henry gave me three pieces. I thanked her and was on my way.

I finally arrived at Tatu’s “ghetto” (rented room where she and another student live) where she, her roommate and I talked and enjoyed tea and mandazi together. I couldn’t help but notice the 2004 calendar that hung on the wall as a decoration. When I was ready to leave, Tatu made sure my travel mug was filled with tea to take home. She and Mainess then “escorted” me on my walk home. I arrived back at the house around 9:30am. My three-minute jaunt up the road had turned into an hour and a half excursion. The level of hospitality in this culture never ceases to amaze me!

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It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed from this time. One thing, I’m sure, has not changed: the continual sense of welcome that is displayed in everyone you meet. No need to “schedule” a visit; just drop by. A simple “hodi” (May I come in?) will always be followed by, “Karibu!” (You are welcome!)

I long to create this sense of welcome in my home, too. There’s nothing like a cup of hot soup on a rainy day to do the trick…

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This week I found two delicious gems:

  1. Mel over at A Virtual Vegan will make your taste buds dance with her simple, tasty, nutrient dense recipe for Creamy Coconut Carrot Ginger Soup. I’ve used this recipe on numerous occasions and I’m delighted every time. The only changes I made were adding garlic, because it’s so darn good for you! 
  2. Kristi Barnes, who blogs at Farmstead Chick, offers this healthy and lip-smacking good Whole 30 version of Zuppa Toscana. My one recommendation? Use Butcher Box Breakfast Sausage. It doesn’t get any better and you KNOW the meat is humanely raised with no antibiotics or hormones.

Give these recipes a try and be sure to let me know what you think!

Spring Soup & Salad Challenge: Week 3

I’m a little jealous of my friends who got to spend the week in FL. I’ll let you in on a text exchange today:

Yep, you read that correctly: we had snow this week. Actual flakes coming down AS I WAS DELIVERING SOUP to friends. And while I am more than ready for Spring-like weather, I must admit, Thursday was actually the perfect day for soup. It was cold, raw, rainy/snowy mix… a lovely day to curl up with a warm bowl of some hearty, filling, deliciousness.

Here’s what we tried this week: Dara over at Cookin’ Canuck has a delicious recipe for Hearty Chicken Stew. I am a horrible Italian and for some reason, I don’t care for olives, so I left them out. Other than that, I LOVE this recipe. It’s the kind of soup I can feed my husband and know that he won’t be complaining in an hour that he’s hungry again…

In case you were wondering, this shot was taken on Wednesday (my cooking day) when it actually kind of felt like Spring, so my favorite “Taste Testers” ate outside. My hubs had been on the Carnivore Diet (more on that in a future post), which basically entails eating only meat and animal products. It’s kind of radical and he could only take it for about a week before we decided he needed to include some low carb veggies. All this to say, he was RAVING about this soup. It could have been due to deprivation, but I think it might be just that good.

And then there’s the Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup from Bites of Wellness. If it wasn’t obvious from the previous paragraph, we’re NOT Vegan and yet, this is one of my favorite healthy soup recipes — especially if you are going dairy free. I don’t think I have ever come across a recipe that does such a great job of creating that creamy, cheesy flavor without actually adding cheese or some over-processed substitute. Seriously good stuff here.

Both of these recipes have become regular favorites in my repertoire. They’re easy to put together, filled with nutrition from the whole food ingredients, and taste great. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Also, don’t forget: you can enter to win Esther’s Seasonings Variety Pack by participating in the Spring Soup & Salad Challenge in any capacity over the course of the remaining 6 weeks. (Yep – that includes taste testing!) Your participation will be tracked by comments on blog posts. For every comment, your name will be entered into the “hat” (more comments = more chances to win)! Hope to hear from you!

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