Quick and Yummy Pea and Ham (or not) Soup

Things you need!

Frozen Peas x 1 bag

Carrots x2 medium

Stock – Chicken or Vegetable 1x carton

Ham or pork of any kind – I will explain what to do with it **

Salt & Pepper – To Taste ***

Garlic x2 cloves

Pot x1

Blender – Hand or Standing x1

 

Step One!

Open your bag of frozen peas and put them in the pot (the peas not the bag). Peel and cut up some carrots. Cut them so that they are small like the size of the tip of your pinky. Then peel and cut up your garlic.

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Step Two!

Put almost everything in the pot – carrots, garlic and stock. Turn it on Medium heat and let it simmer.

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Step Three!

The ham or pork – if you have raw pork it will need to be cooked, by just throwing it in the oven at 350 for this part depends on the size. If you have a pork loin chop then 20 min then check to make sure it is cooked. I used lunch meat that I had left over, so really you can use whatever you have handy or if you are vegetarian add none.  Just have cooked ham like meat cut up into around the same size you cut your carrots.

Step Four!

Once the carrots are soft use whatever blender you have and blend the soup away! You are going to want it fairly smooth so this may take around 3 min with a hand blender.IMG_4946

Step 5!

Add you cooked ham/cooked pork/lunch meat/ whatever protein you really want! (As long as it is cooked and okay to eat)

Step Six!

Put this awesome food in a bowl and enjoy!

Yes it was SIX steps that’s it. This may take up to 25 min from start to finish. It will really depend on if you have the cooked meat or not on hand.

To finish it off you can add some extra spices or a dollop of plain yogurt if you are looking for a creamier soup. It freezes great and you can add a salad or sandwich to it to make it more of a filling meal.

Please give me your feedback and post!

 

Thank you and enjoy!!

 

*** To taste quite seriously means add a little stir it around and taste it see if it needs more. Seasoning food is very personal. Remember it is easier to add more then take out!

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** If you want your soup really meat heavy then add more, if you don’t want any than it’s not going to ruin the soup, and everything in between. Just make sure it’s cooked and safe to eat and you are set to go!

 

 

From Blah to HA! meal time tricks and tips

Go from this….IMG_4944  to this …..IMG_4969  make meal time fun again!

 

Trying to make a healthy well balanced meal every night of the week can be over whelming and stressful and make diner time a chore!

First things first you have to go in with a plan, which yeah I  know seems like extra work but if you don’t plan you won’t have what you need to have those great and healthy meals.  Then you will end up stressed and scrambling or eating out more then you want.

Knowing what you are going to cook can be the first stop to making diner more fun. What how why you ask staring at this like you crazy! Well yes I am but that is beside the point!

I like to go online, magazines, cookbooks and Pintrest to find things I want to try to eat or just to see if I can do it. Then make a list Monday through Sunday what each meal will be. Once you have this you will have a good idea of what you need to buy for the week. This is great because going shopping with a plan not only makes you kitchen time easier but your wallet will thank you too!

Trick for grocery shopping is never go hungry! I know you all have heard it, but it is so true. If you go hungry that bag of chips and all those foods you had no intention of buying become really enticing and before you know it your cart is full but not really of anything that makes a good meal. Just of every bad craving you have in that moment and then your wallet is like AH!  You spent how much on all that junk!

So step one plan! Plan! PLAN! Step two is turn on the music! I spent over 10 years working in kitchens as a professional and one thing ever kitchen had in common that i worked it was music! Loud and fun music!  This got us through some of the worst shifts where you never thought would end, someone would turn on the tunes and it changed everything. The mood lifted and all of a sudden you’re singing a long, dancing and the whole mood changed. You can do this in your home too, just by turning on some of your favorite tunes. This is something so simple that changes the mood in your kitchen and makes from this chore to your own dancing party with you singing into a spoon!

So now that I have you carefully dancing in your kitchen (please remember you are still in a kitchen so mind the stove and knives). It is time to start cooking the meals that you planned on your list. Remember food is an art, an art that is completely free to interpretation. If that receipe you found asks you to use something you don’t have improvise, no cream use milk and see what happens. No one is going to know but you and you are your biggest critic.  Try making the small fancy cuts or turning the potatoes, challenge yourself. Challenging yourself in the kitchen can be so much fun and make diner time for the rest of the family more exciting because they see you having fun with it.

I do get though what if you don’t want to challenge yourself and you just want to get diner on the table because your day was challenging enough well that is a daily truth too. Planning is still your number one friend! When you hunt and plan for those breakfasts, lunches and dinner recipes look for ones that can be made it bulk so if you don’t mind eating the same side for a few days its ready and one less thing to cook.  If you are cutting carrots for tonight’s diner but have carrots in your lunch or dinner later in the week cut some extra and set them aside so that its done! Small things like that can make diner time so much easier.

Remember its just food! Not saying that it is not important but it is not the end of the world if your roast is a little dry or your carrots are all little over cooked. Heck if you over cook your root vegetables turn it into a mash.

To go along with this post throughout the week I will be posting simple meals that can be either made in advance or take traction of the time for a great healthy meal!

Thank you !

 

 

How to prep for the holidays and not a straight jacket !

Holidays make everyone just a little crazy no matter what your situation. Between parties , baking, cooking, cleaning and shopping it feels like every year the time to get ready needs to be extended just to fit it all in. With so much to do to get ready and if you have small children even more to do just make the entire season fun filled and magical. Here is the big question how do you get ready for this season without wanting to crawl into the corner with your bottle of wine and rock back and forth. I have found myself getting busier and busier every holiday that passes and needing to find ways to make the season more magical and fun for everyone as we get older and the magic of the season loses its sparkle for reality. This means I need to get organized sooner and get my prep on earlier in order to make the season more fun for myself as well.

Since fall is my favorite season with all the crunchy leaves and change of smell in the air I like to start all my prep just a little before this so I can enjoy the outside as much as possible. So let’s say around mid September it all begins.

First things first PREP! This is like taking your weekly meal prep a smidge further than normal. I start by making sauces, soups, stews and freezer meals for my husband and myself. These things will help when the nights come early and get cold. When the thought of having to go home in the dark cold and wet and start cooking something to warm you up just seems like a lot of work these meals will come in handy. So here is a list of things I stuff into my freezer and make ready to go!

Chicken Soup/Carrot Soup/Squash Soup/Any soup – Soup is a great! One of my favorite things to eat, it is also great for a light healthy meal that can be paired with a salad or sandwich for a little something extra.

Stew – There are so many different kinds that making 2 or 3 small batches of different kinds keeps things interesting and a little heartier.

Pot Pies – Chicken, Beef, and Vegetarian – pop in the oven and go.

Apple Sauce/ Cranberry Sauce – If you see a sale on fresh apples or cranberries buy them. Then when you have that big meal you can just take it out of the freezer and boom you’re ready to go.

I know all these things require a lot of work and stuff at the time but this is why I like to do a little at a time to build up the stock pile. Once a week I pick an item and prep a big batch, put it in Tupperware or glass jars and freeze away. This is also a great time to start the prep for all of that Christmas baking so that you can look like the sane domestic goddess/god of the holidays when everyone else is panicking over the next cookie exchange or potluck they have to go to. I love to have these staples in my freezer ready for whatever pops up.

Freezable cookie dough – I have a least 8 logs of cookie dough in my freezer that I pre-mix. All they need it to be cut and baked when the need arises. You can even make them into balls and put them into a freezer bag so its already portioned.

Pie Dough – This is great to have ready to go in your freezer! If you have the space you can make and freeze entire ready to bake pies as well but if not just having the dough ready to go helps cut down on the mess and fuss.

Breadcrumbs – Bread ends – keep your bread ends and dry them out in the oven. Once this is done run them through the food processor to make your own bread crumbs.

Fruit/berries – If you travel in the summer or find a great deal on berries or fruit stock up – clean them and prep them. Throw them into a freezer bag and freeze, this way all winter you can just pull out some great berries for pies or other baking. If not into prepping you can also buy what they sell in the stores,just try and wait for a great sale as they do get pricey!

Another little trick is to keep your cake scraps throughout the year and make rum balls with them! You can make them at any time and be ready to go just thaw and boom! You have something in a pinch to bring to that holiday party you forgot about.

Keeping the crazy hat off during the holiday season is all about planning and being the holiday boy scout. I have met a lot of people that by the end of the season (around new years) everyone is feeling broke , exhausted and drained. No real magic there now is there?

Planning ahead is the key, which I know sounds simple in theory but takes time planning and work so that when you hit December 1st you have it in the bag!

Try and keep it to an item a week this way your not going crazy trying not to go crazy at that defeats the whole point of the exercise. The planning also extends to other things like gifts. September great time to shop since a lot of things are on sale because of back to school. If you can slowly start knocking off your list of people you buy for early then by time time everyone else is just starting to think about and stress over price tags you are done and wondering what pretty wrapping paper to get.

Christmas cards is my big time killer! I love sending out cards but with postage going up and the list of recipients growing every year I am thinking this year I will start sending out E-Cards to friends I might not be as close with or that I know are not attached to receiving the physical card. This will cut down on time and the cost of sending out holiday greetings to family and friends and save your poor wrist from cramping!

So to recap !

Plan ahead with gifts and food!

Do not take on too much at once! – Try and pick one thing a week to work on

Start early! – Giving yourself more time does not mean decorating your house before halloween (though if you want to you can). It means taking things that might seem like huge tasks and breaking them down and spacing them out. Preparing treats and meals ahead and freezing them helps save you from stress and preventing some bad out of time food choices.
I hope this helps someone out there have a slightly less stressful holiday and gives some ideas on how to do so.

Thank you!

Re-Set back to Pre-Vacation

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You go on vacation for just a few days but you come back and step on the scale or look at your tummy in the mirror. Bloated, tired and feeling the after vacation slump.

I just got back from a beautiful wedding at an amazing resort we visited with family, laughed and drank and ate. Since we drove up to the wedding we brought as much food as we could to try and not eat out as much to avoid the after vacation ick. Best laid plans right? Lots of yummy road trip snacks and the great wine and food at the resort threw those plans out the window and ran over them a few times.

So now we are home and I am awake at 6am feeling bleh (tired, bloated, mad at scale). So time to re-set and get back to where I was and where i want to be! Since we are in a new month and entering into a new season I think this is the best time to make some changes, but first time to do a little repair work.

I know making those life changes for the first time or re committing to the ones you have already made seems like enough but sometimes you need a little re set button to help deal with the immediate issue so that you can feel good enough to re/commit.

Here is my plan for myself and I think it works for most.

Start your first day back by hydrating! Hydrating yourself is super important and will help deal with a lot of the after vacation issues.

Warm lemon water first thing in the morning – this will help get your digestion working and wake you up a little.

I also have some of my vitamins in liquid form or powder so I will take these around the same time in the morning as well.

Remember you can fruit your water to make it taste better or add some vitamin C to it too there are many great brands of Vitamin C powders that add great flavour to your water. Just be mindful to keep those in moderation as they will most likely have sweeteners in them.

This does not mean go and chug 2L of water all at once that is not great for you and you will feel very sick and possibly get sick! No, what you want to do is drink small amounts of water throughout the day. After your morning coffee would be a great time to have a glass of water and after your shower so on and so on.

So this is step one! Hydrate! This will really help get everything in your body moving and take some if any swelling down. The next step is on day one eat light. This is not the day to eat everything not nailed down. Your poor body needs time to deal with what you did to it on vacation! Now is the time let your body deal with all of that and have some light meals.

I am not saying don’t eat or starve yourself, what i am saying is to think about what you are putting in. For example for breakfast have a banana with granola and yogurt. This is great fiber and if you get yogurt with live cultures it will be great for your gut. The snacks can be fruit instead of processed food; all of this will help your body re set and feel a little bit better. Even having some nuts like almonds on hand with you as a quick pick me up is a great way to stave off any junk food cravings you may be having.

Next step sweat it out! Now if you are a workout nut go for a run! Get moving and get those endorphins pumping! I did manage on my vacation to fit in one workout, which was great because it made me feel tons better after a night of drinking and having a great time. If you really, really do not want to work out to sweat you can also have a nice hot bath. I like mine with Epson salts and lavender. I recommend this if you workout or not. This will help calm your body and mind, and it will also feel amazing on any soreness that may be lingering from your trip.

So now you’re hydrated, giving your gut some love and getting the blood moving its time to look at the mind. After all that stimulation from seeing people and doing things and talking and socializing your brain is tired too. It is time to take some time to let it come down and re focus. This is why I am awake at 6am on a long weekend instead of in bed relaxing with my cat and husband.

I personally find my brain calms down after i get moving for example going for a walk or run lets me think and focus my thoughts. For some it might be in that hot bath or during the morning coffee. Just remember to give yourself a little meditation time however you meditate. Some actually sit on the floor and chant which is great! Personally i always fall asleep if i do that, so i take to a more active meditation and do something that is mindless so that i can focus my mind. Now i am not suggesting turning on the TV and zoning out as that is not focusing your mind that is just shutting it off, I am saying do something like knitting, cooking, walking or even cleaning .Something you do that is automatic in nature so that you can let your mind work through and come to a place of calm.

So day one back is done and the re set back into life is done. Then starting or re committing to whatever life change will be a lot less jarring when you are feeling good and not feeling like you are going to toss yourself into a frozen lake.

I hope this helps you like it helps me get back into my groove.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup – A fall and winter favorite

With Fall sneaking up on us I love to start stocking my freezer with some yummy fall favorites like Squash soup ! That way when my husband and I come home after a long day we can enjoy a quick easy and healthy diner with out too much fuss or muss.

What you will need!

1 Butternut Squash

2 Apples

1 tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Nutmeg

tt(to taste) Salt

1 White onion

2 Cloves of garlic

Water or Vegetable stock

Coconut oil ( or any oil you like just note that if you use a nut or flavored the soup will pick up that flavour also that all oils have different smoking points so read the bottle before using.)

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First like always start by prepping all of you vegetables. You can use a vegetable peeler to peel your squash. I tend to cut it in half before peeling so that I can have a better handle on it, so you will have the top have and the bottom. The bottom will need to be seeded which can be done with a spoon.

All the vegetables can be cut whatever size you like as it will be purred in the end so you can either practice your knife skills or just cut it all into chunks. Just remember that the smaller the cuts the quicker it will all cook.

I did everything in my sauté pan but you can also if you have the space and time toss all your vegetables in some coconut oil (warmed) with your spices and roast them in the oven for 20 min at 350 to get some nice flavour.

OR do what I did and heat up your pan or pot (make sure it has a lid or you can use a cookie tray as a makeshift lid) put in your oil and add your vegetables. Have your pan on Med/High heat as you want to get a nice sear – stir periodically as you do not want anything to burn. Turn your element down to Med. Heat and add your spices to cook them out. Stir more regularly as spices burn faster.

Once everything has a nice golden brown to it you can add either water or vegetable stock. You want to add just enough to cover all your vegetables by about an inch. You can add more later, this is just to cook everything down.

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Put your lid on and let it cook until all the squash is soft.

** If you roasted your vegetables in the oven ** Take them out and put them in the pot and do the same step with the liquid and let it cook.

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Once everything is soft it is time to puree everything. Use whatever device you have, I used my blender. After all is pureed you can taste your soup. At this point you see if it needs more salt or seasoning, you can also add more liquid now if it is too thick and some milk or cream if you want to make it richer. What I like to call the fine tuning stage of soup making.

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Once you are happy with your soup you can either let it cool and freeze it for later or serve it for a meal. Right before serving it you can add a little bit of butter to the soup to give it more of a silky flavour.

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Enjoy !