Quick and Easy Chicken with Spinach

Look Ma, I am a chef!

Sometimes I get home from work and I don’t feel like cooking a full meal. Who am I kidding, I never want to. Tonight was one of those nights and thankfully my husband had cooked up several chicken breasts earlier in the day. yay husband!  With the chicken already made I just needed to get some veggies to go with the chicken.  I wanted some yummy and easy.  Something I didn’t have to peel or turn the oven on for.  So I looked in the fridge and came up with this recipe, which I literally threw together on the spot. It’s enough for one or two people, and it took me about 10 minutes.

Gina Makes Chicken with Spinach (and it’s good)

1 chicken breast (grilled or oven roasted)
4 handfuls baby spinach
6 mushrooms chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
Salt (I used Kosher)
Pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Water (as needed)
1-2 tblsp olive oil

In a skillet like thing heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the chopped garlic.  Let it cook for a little bit…like a minute?  Long enough to make the kitchen smell like you are cooking something good.  Add the mushrooms and stir.  Cook those while you slice up your already cooked chicken breast.  Set the chicken aside and add the spinach to the pan.  I added in handfuls so it wasn’t a big pile of spinach that you couldn’t stir.  After the second handful add about 4 tblsp of water.  I eyeballed it.  May have been more, but not less. Add the rest of the spinach.  Pour in the lemon juice and season with the salt and pepper.  Season to your liking.  You know how much salt or pepper is good for your taste buds.  Add the sliced chicken.  Stir and simmer for about a minute.  Enjoy!

So easy and soooooo yummy!

chicken, spinach

Yummy chicken and spinach. Time to invest in a new camera…

DAMN YOU STARBUCKS, and other news.

Damn you Starbucks and your delightfully perfect holiday coffee drinks.

Ow!  Just f'ing OW!!!

Ow! Just f’ing OW!!!

Itchy elbow

Itchy elbow

In better news, my husband is an amazing source of inspiration and encouragement.  He got up this morning and cooked me a meal so I could keep my food healthy and delicious and not make poor choices because I tend to run unprepared…all the time.  I might have had some for breakfast too because this shit was too good to not eat fresh from the oven.  How the hell did I get so lucky?

Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken and Asparagus

Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken and Asparagus

Have a great day everyone!

Warm to the Bones – Recipe

Saturday night I was feeling a little achy like I could be coming down with a cold.  There was Zumba to do the next day, so I couldn’t let it get the best of me.  I decided to make some good ol’ chicken broth and chicken soup.  Everyone knows that Chicken Soup is the cure for everyone’s cold, (go ahead and quote me on that one, even though I can’t give you the science behind it.  My grandma told me so.  She also told me Spinach Dip would help my anemia, and maybe she called the National Enquirer “the paper” when relaying  the latest news scandals she had read.  I know she is right on about Chicken Soup) and if you want to read about some other benefits, PaleoMom wrote a great blog you can find by clicking here.

Here is my chicken broth recipe, which is my personal take on my grandma’s chicken broth.  Mostly because I didn’t have everything on her recipe card. But it tastes so good!

Chicken Soup for the Paleo Soul
(I have combined the recipe for the broth and the soup.  If you just want the broth you can ignore the * ingredients)

Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken (from the hot bar at the grocery store, or roast your own)
1 carcass (reserved from the chicken above)
5 Quarts of water
1 large yellow onion halved
*1 cup of chopped onion (other half of onion above)
8 garlic cloves peeled
*3 sliced garlic cloves
3 carrots cut into chunks
*1.5 cups chopped carrots
3 celery stalks cut in chunks
*1.5 cups chopped celery
2 Bay Leaves
*2 Bay Leaves
2 tbsp dry parsley
2 tbsp dry thyme
*2 tbsp dry thyme
12 whole Allspice
*2 tbsp olive oil
*2 cups peeled and chopped rutabaga
*2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
*1.5 cups of chopped Kale
*Sea Salt
*Black Pepper

Prep

Take all the meat off the chicken. Get in there with your hands and get it cleaned out.  The meat hides all over the place.  It’s not the meat you want for the broth, it’s the bones, trust me. Then chop it up into bite size bits.
In a big ass pot (8 quart pot works) place 5 quarts water, chicken carcass, halved onion, garlic cloves, carrots chunks, celery chunks, 2 bay leaves, 2 tbsp parsley, 2 tbsp thyme, 12 whole Allspice and bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat.  Let it simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours.

Let the ingredients simmer.

Strain everything from the broth.  I used a big ladle  and a trash bowl to get everything out.  Put the pot back on the stove and boil until the broth is reduced to about 8 cups, about 20 minutes.  While you are reducing the broth, you can start on your prepping the soup. (This is where those * ingredients come into play)

In another large soup pot (I used a 6 quart stockpot) heat the olive oil on medium heat then add in the chopped onion, sliced garlic, and 2 bay leaves. Saute no more than 2 minutes, then add in the chopped carrots, chopped celery, chopped rutabaga, chopped sweet potatoes, thyme, kale, and 1 tsp salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally so the ingredients don’t burn, for about 5 to 10 minutes.  (I give you the 5 – 10 minute window because grandma’s recipe said 5 min, but I got distracted and it was more like 10 min and everything tasted yum still)

All my veggies ready to bathe in broth.

Pour the broth into the pot with the veggies and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.  Add in the chicken, stir and then add salt and pepper until it tastes just right.  I added about 1 tsp pepper and 1 tsp salt.  And then I added more, because I have no taste buds, so don’t go by salt and peppering, use your own taste buds.

Enjoy!

 

That’s What Friends Are For….

Sometimes we have rough days. I don’t always go to my friends seeking their support because I don’t have to.  They are there for me, holding my hand and guiding me through those tough times even if it’s via a text message from someone around the corner or a package in the mail from my best friend half the state away.

I knew a package of goodies were on their way since Jenn had told me I had some treats she had baked specially for me in the mail.  Saturday morning the package was on the door.  Riley (my oldest daughter) tore open the package for me and pulled out mini paleo pumpkin muffins.

From my bff Nenners

When Riley opened the first container my car was filled with the pumpkiny yummy smell of fresh baked goodness.  (Did I mention I was on my way out the door when I saw the package and made my daughter open the box on in the car and then had to pull over immediately to take photos and sample?  No?  Oh.)

This photo does not do them justice. They are little pillows of pumpkin heaven.

Riley sampled them as well. This is photo #4 because photos 1 – 3 were not up to her standards.

There were two little containers of muffins.  Now, I think there may be one or two muffins left.  Maybe.  They were sooooo good.  And they came at just the right time, when I needed a new healthy treat.  Jenn told me she warms hers up and puts a little butter on them.  I enjoy butter, but I hadn’t had a chance to try that before I went to Trader Joe’s and found the perfect spread for my warmed up muffins.  BEHOLD!  Pumpkin Butter!

Amazingly delicious!

I am lucky I have friends who support me every step I take.  How do you support your friends and family?  How do they support you?  I really believe in a strong support system.  (Can I say support a few more times?)  So what do you do when you have that inevitable friend who doesn’t support you?  We know we can’t change them, but we don’t have to let them get us down.  I just remind myself I am on this journey for myself and I don’t have to follow their negativity and choices.  Live life for yourself, to me, that’s when I can give the most to my family.  When I am happy and content being me.

Yummy Snacks – Too Good Not to Share

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not being paid to advertise for Steve’s Original nor have they approached me to try their product and review.  I am doing this out of the need to share a tasty treat with y’all!  A tasty treat that has a good cause! Go check out the website to get the whole story but here is a brief introduction to what a portion of their proceeds are doing:

Steve’s Original is the funding source for my true calling: Steve’s Club. I’m trying to change the lives of local inner-city kids with fitness training and peer mentoring. My not-for-profit club is for kids from Camden, NJ—touted as the most dangerous crime-infested city in the country. Many of these kids were drugging and ganging before they were hanging out with me. They just needed an alternative.

I don’t care if you are Paleo or not, this Paleo Krunch my mom bought is too freakin’ delicious to keep to myself.

My mom has been trying out the Paleo lifestyle the past few months, basically she followed the same path I followed with Project Muffin Top. (Note to self: need to talk to Beth to upload a couple more episodes so as to not leave that ending like a tv show cancelled mid-season)  She is a little more experimental in her food choices than I am, and decided to go out on a limb and order food she has never tried but thought looked good (and it supports a good cause).  Mom got lucky, and so did I, the Paleo Kit she ordered is the bomb!  Wait, I just looked at the website’s store, and it appears mom ordered the Paleo Kit and some add on’s.  Mom is a brave soul.

Anyway, I snacked on some of the Paleo Krunch bar when I got some on Tuesday.  It was gone before I could set some aside for the next day (of course that was my bad day and there was no traces of food left in my wake).  Today I was running a little behind so I grabbed some cultured coconut milk (why can’t we just call it coconut yogurt?  Dude, I call all MP3 players iPod’s and all adhesive bandages Band-Aids) and the tub of the Cinnamon Swirl Paleo Krunch and mixed them up.  Seriously. Good. Shit. But then just to be sure that the yogurt wasn’t throwing off my judgement of the cereal I had a few, three, or five handfuls of it to taste.  It’s good.  It’s real good.

Snack time! Tea and water, too.

After my couple or more handfuls. It’s just so tasty.

This is part of why I am trying something new daily.  I need to get out of my comfortable rut and experiment.  Thanks to my mom I have found myself a new snack that I can eat without a huge skin break out or lethargic sugar crash.  If you have tried something tasty that has brought your great joy recently, share it here!

Oh dear, I need a pick me up!

My afternoon started to drag, and I have a long day ahead of me still.  I had some foods here, but nothing that even qualified as quick and easy PLUS healthy.  I set work aside for a moment and searched for a new smoothie idea, ran to the store to grab the ingredients and had my afternoon snack.  This is what I found, and OMG I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

Banana Blackberry Pomegranate Smoothie

I adjusted the recipe to fit my personal needs.  For example, the recipe calls for two bananas, and two bananas can contain 28 grams of sugar!  Yes, yes, it’s naturally occurring sugar, but you still don’t want to overdue it no matter what type of sugar.  Plus, yeast feeds off of sugar, and if you are like me and have an over abundance of yeast in your body, you don’t want to be feeding the yeast and helping it thrive!  Dude, yeast poops in you.  Dammit, I know all the little critters living in our body poops in some way, but I would prefer to limit the amount of yeast poop in me.  Remember, I am not a scientist or a doctor, so don’t go quoting me as fact!  But I am right, yeast poops.  Go on and Google that s%&t, you know, because the internet is always right.

GOOD GOLLY!  I did not mean to go on that tangent.  But I did, and now I digress and give you my modified version of the recipe in the link above.

Ingredients

1.5 Tbsp Navitas Naturals Pomegranate Powder

2 tbsp Chia Seeds

1/2 banana

1/2 organic apple

1 cup fresh blackerries

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Directions

Wash the apples and berries thoroughly. Add all ingredients to a blender and mix until well blended. Serve in a tall glass and enjoy!

I know, not a stellar photo, but I forgot to take one before I drank 1/2. Plus, you are not here for my photography skills.

Day 93 – Knife and Fork

Don’t dig your grave with your knife and fork. – English Proverb

Today started off with a very nice walk with an old friend who has recently been inspired to start following a paleo lifestyle.  I was happy to hear how well she is doing in such a short period of time.  I want to be there for her and support her in every way.  There are so many challenges in making these changes, and what makes it harder is how so many people hear what clean eating eliminates from your daily diet and tell you that what we are doing is wrong.  Like Critter said this morning “If eating this way makes me feel this good, I don’t want to eat the crap I was eating.”  AMEN SISTER!

Here’s a couple of my daily food logs that I keep for Heather.  You tell me what you see that is bad for me.  I eliminated processed foods altogether (if you can call that food) as well as sugars, wheat flours, white rice, and dairy.  Those were probably the hardest foods to eliminate because they are EVERYWHERE!  But what I do eat is clean, healthy, and DELICIOUS foods that fuel my body and make me feel amazing every day.

TWO DAILY DIARIES: (Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me!)

Morning meal – 8:15 am-Shake
Snack – small shake again after work out
Noon Meal – 3:30pm – roast chicken w/ mixed roasted veggies
Snack - Nothing
Evening Meal – 8:45pm Shake
Snack – Celery w/ almond Butter
Water – 100 oz Filtered
Fats/Oils - Olive Oil
Condiments - Pepper and Sea Salt
Exercise - Yoga 90 min (Crazy Intense Yoga!!)
Relaxation - Making lavender wands and shooting the shit with a friend

Bed Time:  1am
Wake up: 7:45am
Sleep Quality: Sound
Awake at night?: No
Night Sweats: No
Wake up refreshed or tired: Refreshed
Slow starter am?: Yes
If yes, how long: 30 min

*************************************************************************

Morning meal – eggs and turkey bacon
Snack – 1/2 shake
Noon Meal – 1pm quinoa pasta with homemade pasta sauce (from EverydayPaleo.  I posted the entire recipe, I only used the sauce.)

Sausage “Spaghetti in Creamy Tomato Sauce

1.25 lbs mild Italian pork sausage, diced (we used the precooked sausage from US Wellness Meats – I’ll be there June featured chef so be sure to check their site and mine for my recipes using their amazing products!) YOU can use whatever meat you like – ground beef, sausage, chicken, beef – whatever you have on hand.

3 small leeks, diced

½ red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 – 14oz can of artichoke hearts packed in water, cut into quarters

1 tablespoon coconut oil

5 zucchini squash, sliced thin like noodles (We sliced our zucchini thin with a mandolin slicer and then used a knife to slice the thin noodle strips into “spaghetti” like noodles.  You can also make it easier on yourself and use a julienne slicer.

Sauce

1 – 14.5 oz can of organic diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons coconut cream concentrate from Tropical Traditions (or sub with coconut milk, or grass fed heavy whipping cream)

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

Black pepper and sea salt to taste

In a large skillet or wok heat the coconut oil.  If you are using raw meat, brown the meat in the coconut oil and add the onion, leeks, and bell peppers.  If you are using pre-cooked sausages like we did, cook the onions, leeks and bell peppers first in the coconut oil until tender and then add the meat and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the sausage is warmed through.  In a small sauce pan mix together the can of diced tomatoes with the juice with the coconut cream concentrate.  Bring to a simmer and add the remaining sauce ingredients and mix well.  To the meat and veggies add the zucchini and artichokes and pour the sauce over.  Mix well and cook for another 5-6 minutes, just until the zucchini al dente – do not over cook or they will turn to mush! Serves 5.


Snack –  carrot and cucumber w/hummus
Evening Meal -6:15pm Shake
Snack- 2 oz of steak and grilled veggies (left overs the family left out after dinner and I grazed on them)

Water – 100 oz – filtered
Fats/Oils -olive oil
Condiments – Pepper and sea salt
Exercise – walk 60 min
Relaxation – Lavender wand fun!

Bed Time:  10:30pm
Wake up: 8:00am
Sleep Quality: Sound
Awake at night?: No
Night Sweats: No
Wake up refreshed or tired: Refreshed
Slow starter am?: Yes
If yes, how long: 30

I generally do have more than one shake a day (click here to see my daily shake recipe) because I am still trying to detox my body.  There are days I don’t have two shakes.  Sometimes I eat breakfast and sometimes I eat dinner in its place.  But Mmmmmmm, the food I am putting in my body is so tasty and makes me feel amazing.  You may think you need a soda or a cup of coffee to get you moving, but a smoothie with greens mixed in or some protein in the afternoon can really get your energy boosted.  I am living proof!  Besides, sodas and sugar just make you crash!

 

Day 78 – A Day in the Life

I cannot believe I only have 12 days left of Project Muffin Top.  I am a little bit sad about it, but happy as well.  How blessed am I to have been introduced to Heather and EA?  They are simply two of the kindest, and most generous people I have met in my life.  Thank you for all that you have done to help really get my journey heading in the right direction.

Here is a quick post to answer some questions that have come up a few times over the past several weeks.  Most of these questions involved “What are you eating?” and, “how often do you work out?”  Two totally easy questions I can answer, with VISUALS!

Some days I wake up and hit the track with Heather or by myself and get in about a half an hour walk to wake me up.  It’s a good time to either catch up with Heather and work out any issues (mental or physical) I may be encountering, or it’s a time for me to reflect on where I am at and where I am going.  I don’t look back, unless I am getting out of the old man’s way who has lapped me two times already.

Crisp quiet morning walk, in pj’s

After my walk I get home and see my family as we are all getting ready for the day (or listen to them snore…gah, summer).  Now it’s time for my morning shake/breakfast and daily vitamins and supplements.  My shake ingredients tend to be the same, but sometimes I get wild and really mix it up. Here’s my go to shake:

1 cup supergreens (or a big handful)
1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup organic frozen berries
1 tblsp Ground Flax Seed
1 scoop PaleoMeal DF (Dairy Free)
1/2 scoop PaleoCleanse

 

 

 

PaleoMeal and PaleoCleanse are both available through Heather Morgan’s Muffintop Makeover website.  Click on the bold names to find them. These shakes are amazingly filling and give me a little boost. The berries and the flax seed leave little seeds in the shake, but the greens blend in without much to taste.

Before the blend!


 

My supplements and vitamins are from both Heather, the nutritionist, and Dr. Marcus my naturopathic doctor.  I take one packet of Weight Loss Support Packets, as well as T.A.P.S. by Thorne Research, and BioAdaptogen Ultra.  Obviously the Weight Loss Support Packets are there to help get my body on board to lose weight.  They are NOT like any other weight loss supplement.  They don’t make you all stupid and speedy.  The T.A.P.S. supports my liver and is helping to continue the detoxification process and the BioAdaptogen helps with the adrenal system with energy and mental health.  Good stuff.

From there I am off to work, where I am the Accounting Manager for a multi-specialty dental office.  We just moved into our new Wellness Campus and it is luxurious compared to where we were.  I work some pretty amazing people, one happens to be my motivator/cheerleader.  Michelle is pretty encouraging, and even though she is my motivator, she was inspired to start eating clean because of me.  :)  That’s pretty cool.  She is always aware of what she has on hand to offer me, and will triple check a label for what may be lurking in something that seems healthy.  :)

Most days I can work through without the need for mindless snacking.  I drink a lot (1/2 my weight in  ounces, so that’s a lot) of water, which keeps me pretty full, but sometimes I just need a snack.  That’s where my raw almond/raisin mix with some tea comes in handy.  Sometimes I enjoy this snack TWICE in a day.

Snack time!

For lunch I usually enjoy a hearty salad with some sort of protein. Usually my protein of choice is grilled chicken.

Actually my post race salad.

Then I am back to work where I usually stay until 6:30pm, and get home close to 7pm, sometimes later.  You might be wondering how do I get home and cook a meal for my family?  I don’t.  This is a horrific habit I have gotten myself, and my family into.  I wish I could say I was brilliant and crock pot a meal that is ready when I walk in the door.  No.  My husband, on the days he is home, tries to help out.  He is getting a million times better, but most times it’s a packaged/frozen pasta chicken type thing that they eat.  Me?  I enjoy another shake.  BUT, there are days I cannot think about another shake and will eat grilled chicken with some brown rice and veggies. My veggies of choice are asparagus or roasted artichoke. YUM.

If I am lucky and I get off work early, I meet EA and get in one hour of a crossfit beating.  Love. Love.  Love.  Crossfit is so amazing I look like this when I am done.

Oh so pretty!

This is where I fall apart on following Muffintop Makeover rules.  I should be in bed by 9pm and asleep by 10pm.  It has happened about 10 times over the last 78 days.  Most times I am waiting up for my husband to get home from work, or, I just can’t sleep.  Trust me, I don’t have the same crappy insomnia I once had.  I could fall asleep until 2 or 3 in the morning and once I did I was up and down all night long.  It was horrible.  The change in diet has helped greatly, as well as getting exercise in daily.  :)  Also, when I was super struggling with my sleep, I stalled in my weight loss.  I can only imagine how much more weight I would be losing if I could just manage a solid eight hours of sleep.  I will get there.

So that’s it!  That is my day.  I am more than happy to answer questions.  Don’t be shy, post them right here.  If you have a question I can bet 10 other people have a similar question.