Cleansing Chicken Soup: Welcoming a Year of Health

Whoo!!! All that holiday food was DEEEE-licious! However, if you are like me after the holidays, you feel ever so slightly like, well…let’s see, how can I explain it? Death. Haha. Or chubby. Or like nothing actually tastes that good any more because of over indulgence. Or even if you have escaped all of those symptoms…you probably can feel the heart burn or lethargy!!

Now you know me, I do not oppose to the occasional treat! But most of us probably had a few too many, not-so-occasional treats. That being the truth for Mr. Rodgers and I…and wanting to start the year off on the right foot so I can meet my health goals and he can shed those stubborn pounds…we decided to do a cleanse. And not just any cleanse, the Maker’s Diet Cleanse. If you have been with me from the beginning, you will remember that most of my first recipes came from adapting Maker’s Diet meals. It has been the system that has worked for us the best. It is not strictly about limiting calories or eating less (in fact when we followed it to the T we ate more often than normal!)…and it is DEFINITELY NOT about losing weight while still eating whatever you want. (Don’t get me started…biggest peeve ever!) It is about making HEALTH the goal, not a number…with the belief that if you educate yourself, eat what will heal your body and make it flourish…that your body will find it’s perfect weight and you will live with energy and real LIFE!

If you want more information about the exact system of the cleanse, then check out The Maker’s Diet.  There are specifics of how many bowls of soup to eat on each day, specific salads, what days you can add in nuts, etc…  For now, however, I am just going to give you the Rodger’s Family version of the Maker’s Diet Cleansing Chicken Soup…(basically we just added a couple veggies for varitie’s sake ;))

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 Whole Chicken (Free Range) OR if you are like me and bones completely freak you out…about 6 Free Range Breasts
  • 3-4 Quarts Filtered Water
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 4 onions, Diced
  • 8 Carrots, Sliced
  • 6 Stalks Celery, Sliced
  • 2 Zucchini, Chopped
  • 1 lb Green Beans
  • 1 Small Bag Frozen Green Peas
  • 1 Carton Brussels Sprouts, Trimmed and Halved
  • 1 Bunch Broccoli, Chopped
  • 4 Inches Ginger, Grated
  • 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Confession…I forgot this!)
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 2-4 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Bunch Parsley, Chopped

And here is how you do it:

  1. First, you are either going to need one GIANT pot.  I’m talking like Iron Chef sized.  Or you will need two normal sized pots.  I used my one soup pot and my large crock pot.
  2. Prep all your veggies as directed.
  3. Place chicken in the bottom of your pot (Or pots.  If you are using two pots, just split everything evenly between the two.)
  4. Toss in all of your veggies and seasonings except parsley.
  5. Pour in as much water as you can fit…at least to just cover the veggies.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes.  Bring to a boil and remove the scum layer that rises to the top.  Then reduce the heat and simmer 8 – 12 hours.  The point here is to cook it as long as possible, because we want this to be as easy to digest as possible.  Add parsley 15 minutes before serving.

And there you go!!  A wonderfully cleansing soup!  Perfect for this weather…I heard today that 90% of the United States is frozen!!  Crazy!!  I haven’t worked in two days because most of my town is shut down…which is a big deal for the North Country I must say!

Mr. Rodgers and I are day 7 into our cleanse.  (It is a 10 day cleanse, soup 4 times a day with a salad at the end of the day).  I must say, I am really surprised at how I feel!  Usually when I take a stark 180* toward health, I get headaches, confusion, dizziness.  I have had one light headed moment, but for the most part…I FEEL AWESOME!  No heart burn, plenty of energy and motivation…it’s been great!! It’s been a little harder on Mr. Rodgers since he requires a larger calorie intake.  But I am so proud of us, and other than a few handfuls of fruit and nuts to get us through a lack of soup because of being snowed in we have really stuck to it!  Figured it was best not to starve ourselves haha.  I am so excited to start out CLEAN.  My insides feel so good!!  If you want to feel good too…look up the Maker’s Diet and make this amazing soup!  Cleansing is FAR from easy, but so worth it.  Let me know how it goes for you!

 

Here is one of my pots!

Photo (10)

Add your chicken!

Photo (11)

Add everything but the parsley…

Photo (12)

Fill with water.  Bring to a boil, clean scum off the top, simmer for 8-12 hours.  Add parsley 15 minutes before serving.

 

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Flavorful Navy Bean Soup (Sick Day Comforts!)

Seeing as I am on a roll with super simple recipes, I decided to take it a step farther and pull this guy from the archives.  Soup and I have a growing relationship; our love only deepens with time.  Now usually I cram whatever I can into my poor overflowing pot when I make soup (much like I do with stir fry, as you learned in my Chicken Asparagus Stir Fry post!)  However, in the beginning of our journey to health, we strictly followed recipes straight from the website perfectweightamerica.com.  I found this recipe and didn’t stray from it hardly at all.  I wasn’t too hopeful about the outcome.  I mean, how good could it be?  It was just beans and onions after all!  HA!  Well.  Boy was my paradigm rocked!

Apparently you don’t have to cram your whole pantry into the pot for soup to rock your world.

It was easy.  Really easy.

It was tasty.  So tasty.

It was comforting, especially for my man that was curled up in bed sick all day.

It was cheap.  Have you priced dry beans?!

To sum it up, for the night we were having, it was perfection.

Let me share this perfection with you:

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb Navy Beans
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Onions
  • 6 C Chicken Stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Parsley to Garnish

 

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Soak your beans over night…or at least 8 hours.  Seriously…beans are so cheap…go for the dry ones!
  2. Peel and dice your onions.
  3. Melt the butter in your soup pot over medium heat, and caramelize your onions.  Basically, you are just going sauté those guys for 25-30 minutes till they’re golden brown and have a fantastic rich flavor.
  4. Add your navy beans, stir, and cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock, stir, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for two hours.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. If you want a creamier texture, take a few cups of the beans and stock and blend it till smooth, then stir it back in.
  8. Garnish with parsley and sprinkle in some red pepper flakes if you like heat.  I liked the heat.  And the flavor it added was perfect!  Enjoy!

 

Navy Bean 1Yummyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!

Navy Bean Soup 2

And this is my poor sick man, curled up in blankies watching Clone Wars.  The soup was perfect to help him feel better!!!

 

Simple Dill Cucumber Salad! (A “Transition to Fall” Recipe!)

So, to all my gardening friends (I know there are lots of you!)  Is anyone else scrambling to use up their veggies because the air is getting nippy and the frost is threatening?  At least here in New York that is how it goes!  Or maybe you are simply overwhelmed with cucumbers…cause they are lively little guys!  The first to sprout, countless little flowers that turn into resilient veggies!  I LOVE how well my cucumbers do…but often times feel at a loss as to what to do with them!

Well, here is the perfect way to use ’em up!  This was just so delightful!  A great side to a slab of meat, and did well for a light lunch the next day!  What was even better was the fact that my cucumbers were so crisp and delightful this year…ohhh the texture of this salad was amazing!!!  You’ll love it!  Read on!

 

So, here’s what you need!

  • 2 Lg Cucumbers, or 3-4 C(You have to scroll down and see how pretty my cucumbers were, I was so proud that I grew them all by myself!)
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion, or 1 1/2 C
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 C Water
  • 3/4 Tbsp Agave
  • Couple Cranks Fresh Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Dill Weed (Feel free to use fresh dill.  I used what I had, and it was totes delicious, but would shine with a slightly different flavor with fresh dill.  Both will be fantastic!)
  • Tiny Dash Sriracha (I put it in everything!)
  • Tbsp Fresh Parsley (Garnish)
  • 1/4 C Sunflower Seeds (Garnish, my husband loves the crunch!)

 

And here’s how you do it!  (It’s really so easy!)

  1. Thinly slice your cucumbers.
  2. Thinly slice your red onion.
  3. Toss it all in a bowl.
  4. Combine the vinegar, water, agave, sriracha, and herbs/spices. (Minus the parsley.)
  5. Pour vinegar mixture over the veggies.  Toss to coat.
  6. Garnish with parsley and sunflower seeds. BAM!  YOU’RE DONE!  THAT FAST!  Woohoo!  Fun.  Easy.  Feel good.  I think this sort of thing is the real comfort food.  Because you don’t feel like death afterwards, haha.  ENJOY!

 

 

 

Aren’t those beautiful cucumbers?  I thought it was pretty good for an amateur gardener like me, getting on my hands and knees, ripping up a chunk of lawn, adding some fertilizer and throwing in some seeds!!  I really am quite proud!

Dill Cucumber Salad 1

 

Thinly slice your cucumbers.  Oh, and peel them to if you desire!!  I chose to 🙂Dill Cucumber Salad 2

 

Thinly slice your red onion!Dill Cucumber Salad 3

 

Toss it all in a medium bowl…

Dill Cucumber Salad 4

 

Combine vinegar, water, agave, sriraha, and herbs/spices.  Whisk together until everything is distributed, then pour over the veggies.

Dill Cucumber Salad 5

 

Toss to coat!  Garnish with parsley and sunflower seeds!  (I didn’t get a picture with the sunflower seeds because I forgot about that genius idea until the next day!  But Mr. Rodgers loved it even better with them on top, so you should try!  A great texture addition, and a good salt touch too!)

Dill Cucumber Salad 6Yummy!  Healthy!  This makes you FEEL so good as well as delighting your taste buds!!  BOOM!  AWESOME!!  YEAH!!

Okay.  I gotta go to bed.  But let me know what you think!  What is your favorite variation of a dill cucumber salad?

 

 

Summer Veggie Salad With a Crunch!

I really loved this for many reasons!  First, because it is a diced salad, which I have never made before!!  All the little uniform cubes of veggies were so cute and colorful, and made it easy to eat!  Secondly, it’s just stinking delicious!!  Refreshing, simple, and quite Mediterranean feeling!  But lastly…and mostly…because this lovely little (actually, not so little, it makes a huge bowl of salad) salad comes with a SAVORY granola!  Say whaaat?!  Why yes.  I had never heard of savory granola, nor ever comprehended the idea.  But it was so delightful!!  The perfect crunch!  The dressing on the salad is extremely simple, so the granola adds layers of flavor and a hint of sophistication.

Those are all the reasons I love this salad!  Let me tell you how to make it so you can discover all the reasons you will too!  🙂

This was ever so slightly adapted from one of my favorite books you may have heard me mention before, Deliciously Healthy Vegetables!  I encourage all of you to look it up and give it a try!  Click here to check it out!

So, here’s what you need:

Granola:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (Or Coconut Oil if you don’t like heating olive oil)
  • 1 C Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/4 C Pumpkin Seeds (Make sure they are out of the shells.  I may have missed that little detail, but it was still fun!)
  • 1/4 C Slivered Almonds
  • 1/4 Sunflower Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Salad:

  • 3 Medium Tomatoes, Diced (I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes so I decreased the amount…feel free to tweak!)
  • 4 Medium Cucumbers, Diced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1 Red Onion, Diced
  • 1/3 C Parsley, Chopped

Dressing:

  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper

And here’s how you do it!  It’s kind of fun!

  1. Heat your pan over medium-low and add your oil.  I used my wonderful new big cast iron skillet!!  Toss in your oats and stir around for a minute or so.  Add the rest of the ingredients in your “granola” list and continue cooking for about 4 minutes or so, until it looks good and smells good!  It should get a bit of a golden color.  🙂  Granola, check!
  2. Dice your veggies!!
  3. Put them all together in a large bowl…
  4. Whisk together your dressing and pour over your veggies, then toss.
  5. Sprinkle with granola and eat!  (We let each person put the granola on top of their own bowl of salad, so they could choose how much they wanted!)

Now eat!!  Let me show you my pictures, I am excited for you to see how colorful and pretty it is!

Gather your ingredients!!  I love beautiful summer veggies!!

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 4

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 2

Start your granola!  Heat your oil over medium low heat and toss in the oatmeal.  Cook for a minute or so.

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 1

Add the rest of your granola ingredients.  Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 3

Now prep your veggies!!!  Dice dice dice dice!!  Oh!!  Guess what?!  I was so excited when I made this, becaaaause….I have been watching Food Network, and am always so amazed when they go to cut their bell peppers…and suddenly wabam!  They are whipping them around and doing something fancy, and end up with perfect little uniform pieces!  Well.  For this salad…I did it!!  For the first time!!  Wanna see?!

First, you slice a small amount off both ends.  Then you slice into it along it’s length, and run your knife along the flesh so that all the ribbing and seeds come off.  Lookie!!  How cool is that?!

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 5

Now you can julienne it!  Which makes it super easy to dice it into perfect little squares!

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 6

Finish dicing the rest of your veggies and toss them all in a large bowl.Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 7

Add your dressing ingredients and toss…

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 9

Yummy!  Then, sprinkle some granola on top and eat it!  Unfortunately, because of the rush I was in, I ended up not getting a photo with the granola on top.  But you can take my word for it.  It completes the dish absolutely!  🙂

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 8

So perfect for summer, I tell ya!!!

Cucumber Salad with Savory Granola 10

Grilled Stuffed Avocados (Summer Grillin’!)

Yeah.

That just happened.  You may have noticed that I am on an avocado kick.  I don’t think that will change any time soon.  I love them.  They’re healthy.  They’re tasty.  They’re 5 for $5 at PriceChopper.  😀  And this was such a fun way to mix it up at lunch time!  Plus, this meal made my husband really happy, and making him happy makes me so happy!  Was that sentence confusing enough for you?  Haha.  Are you ready for this?!  I don’t know if you are.  Well, either way…we’re doing this!!!

I have to credit my inspiration to my former boss and forever friend Aly Hennessy…I reported for duty early one morning, and she had made me scrambled eggs and grilled avocado for breakfast.  Yeah.  You all wish she was your boss, don’t ya?!  I could not believe how great the avocado was with a little char and the big flakes of sea salt…mmmm!!  So you can thank her for this experiment-turned-success!

Tuna fish sandwiches will never be the same.  And are now so much healthier!

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 2 Avocados, Sliced in half and pitted
  • 1 Can tuna
  • 2 Boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Mayo
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Celery, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Mrs. Dash to taste

 

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Start your eggs boiling.
  2. Prep all your veggies and toss in a medium bowl.
  3. Open your can of tuna, drain, and add to veggies.
  4. Peel your eggs and chop, and add to the bowl.
  5. Add your mayo and olive oil, capers, salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash and mix it all together!  You have your stuffin’s!
  6. Heat your grill over medium.  Rub the avocado halves with a small amount of oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and throw on your grill for 2-5 minutes.  You don’t want it to get mushy, you just want to get some char…you know how I love grill lines!!  The added flavor is so fantastic, it really makes the dish.
  7. Remove avocados carefully, and stuff generously with your tuna filling!!  Eat, be satisfied, and love your life!!! 🙂

 

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 1

 

Prep your veggies…

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 2Put in a bowl with a can of tuna and two chopped boiled eggs.

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 3

 

Add all the other ingredients, minus the avocados, and mixed till well combined.

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 4

 

Rub your avocado halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 5Place on a grill at about medium heat.  Cook just long enough to get a touch of char, 2-5 minutes.

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 6

 

See?  🙂

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 7Now stuff them generously with your tuna egg salad!!!  YUM!!

Grilled Stuffed Avocados 8

 

Enjoy!!!!  Yaaaaaay!

 

 

 

Colorful Drumstick Veggie Skillet

This is one of those meals that starts out as a recipe you got online…but as you go along and the inspiration grows…you add a little of this and a little of that…and before you know it you have a gorgeous plate that is nothing like the original recipe.  Unrecognizable.  But wonderful.  So I guess I should say this meal is inspired by the Skillet Rosemary Chicken over at http://passthesushi.com.  Lovely recipe.  But it used potatoes, which Mr. Rodgers and I no longer eat often, if at all.  So as I searched my fridge for veggies to substitute, this monster was born.  This big, healthy, gorgeous monster.  I think you’re going to like it…and you can play with it to make it your own, or just use whatever is in your fridge!  And the flavors are so pure and natural…flavored by the vegetables themselves.  Ah!!  It’s just great.  Let me show you….

So, here’s what you need…

  • A BIG cast iron skillet
  • 4-6 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Small Head Broccoli, chopped
  • 2 Large Carrots, Sliced
  • 1/2 Head Red Cabbage, Sliced
  • 1 Onion, SLiced
  • 7 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil or melted butter, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary Leaves, plus two sprigs
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Lemons

 

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Gather your beautiful, colorful ingredients.  Prep them…slicey choppy mincey….reserve one clove of garlic…
  3. On your cutting board (or in a mortar) pile the rosemary leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, the red pepper flakes, and one garlic clove.  Using a knife with a large flat blade, first mince everything together, then using the flat side of the blade smoosh it back and forth to get it as paste-like as possible.  (Or this would be where the whole mortar and pestle thing would be handy!)
  4. Transfer the paste to a flat bowl and mix the olive oil and juice of 1 lemon into it.  Reserve the lemon halves.
  5. Melt coconut oil in your skillet over Medium high heat.  Take your drumsticks and roll them around in the lemon, oil, garlic mix.  When the oil is hot, add your coated chicken.  You aren’t supposed to cook the chicken through, just get a nice crispy sear.
  6. Put all your veggies in a large bowl, dump the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil them and toss.  Salt and pepper generously and toss again.  We are going to roast these bad boys while we cook the chicken.
  7. Dump your veggies on top of the chicken (why yes, yes mine did start to overflow…)
  8. Squeeze the remaining lemon’s juice over the whole thing, and put all the lemon halves on top.  Add the two extra rosemary sprigs.  Slide it into the oven and cooooooook it.  Keep an eye on it, it will probably take at least 25 minutes cause you have a large volume of goodies in here.  Your veggies should be getting browned, but most of all you need to MAKE SURE THE CHICKEN IS COOKED!  When the veggies have shrunk down a little, you can take tongs and stir things around, and bring the drumsticks to the top so everything cooks evenly.
  9. Now eat, and enjoy!!!!!

 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 1

 

Gather your beautiful, colorful ingredients.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 2

 

Prep them…slicey choppy mincey….reserve one clove of garlic…

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 3

 

On your cutting board (or in a mortar) pile the rosemary leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, the red pepper flakes, and one garlic clove.  Using a knife with a large flat blade, first mince everything together, then using the flat side of the blade smoosh it back and forth to get it as paste-like as possible.  (Or this would be where the whole mortar and pestle thing would be handy!)

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 4

 

This is as close as I got it!

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 5

 

Transfer the paste to a flat bowl and mix the olive oil and juice of 1 lemon into it.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 6

 

Melt coconut oil in your skillet over Medium high heat.  Take your drumsticks and roll them around in the lemon, oil, garlic mix.  When the oil is hot, add your coated chicken.  You aren’t supposed to cook the chicken through, just get a nice crispy sear.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 7

 

See?  🙂

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 8

 

Put all your veggies in a large bowl, dump the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil them and toss.  Salt and pepper generously and toss again.  We are going to roast these bad boys while we cook the chicken.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 9

 

Dump your veggies on top of the chicken (why yes, yes mine did start to overflow…)

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 10

 

Squeeze the remaining lemon’s juice over the whole thing, and put all the lemon halves on top.  Add the two extra rosemary sprigs.  Slide it into the oven and cooooooook it.  Keep an eye on it, it will probably take at least 25 minutes cause you have a large volume of goodies in here.  Your veggies should be getting browned, but most of all you need to make sure your chicken is cooked!  When the veggies have shrunk down a little, you can take tongs and stir things around, and bring the drumsticks to the top so everything cooks evenly.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 11

 

Holy pretty skillet batman.  That makes me happy!

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 12

 

Don’t you want to make this?!

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 13Scoop some on a plate…

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 14

 

And enjoy!!!!  La la laaaaa!!