Thursday, March 31, 2011

Asian Baked Salmon

This was the first recipe that Carmen and I didn't really care for. It wasn't bad (we ate it all), but if we go through this series of recipes again, we would replace this one with something else, especially considering that salmon can be a little pricey. It was easy enough to prepare, but it just didn't have a flavor that we liked. We served it with some pinto beans we had leftover from another recipe and a salad with olives and mozzarella cheese.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Veggie Panini

Another simple and delicious recipe! Carmen and both really, really liked this panini. It was a very light and refreshing meal. We weren't able to find any roasted eggplant, so we used sun dried tomatoes, and they added a really nice flavor. I must have had the heat up to high, because I burned the first piece of bread. Fortunately, we had some extra so I turned the heat down and didn't cook it as long as the recipe said, and they turned out perfect.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cranberry Chicken Salad

Tonight we had Cranberry Chicken Salad. In line with this week's theme, it was very simple to prepare. I've never been a big fan of chicken salads in the past, but this one had a very unique, sweet flavor from the cranberries and poppy seed dressing. I left the celery out of mine because raw celery is one of the few foods that I can not stand! I have really liked these simple recipes this week. They will definitely be some we continue to use even after Lent is over.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Taco Soup

This week's Seasoning Lent theme is Simple Practice, and tonight's Taco Soup recipe fits that perfectly. It was just a matter of cooking some ground turkey, garlic, and onions, mixing in all the other ingredients and then letting it simmer. I love it when there aren't a lot of dishes to clean up after preparing a meal! The soup was delicious! It was very thick and filling.

After we ate, Carmen and I went and ran the course for the next 5k we are running.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bean Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

As Carmen mentioned in her last post, we had to switch up this week's recipes a little bit. The Bean Burger recipe was supposed to be Friday, but since we were running the Help for Hope House 5k Friday night, we decided to rearrange the meals and have this on Saturday instead.

This recipe was a little more complicated than many of the others. It was well worth the effort though. These burgers were quite tasty. The sweet potato fries didn't turn out very crisp, so they weren't very fry-like. We cooked them on a Silpat liner and that caused them to stay kind of soft. They were still delicious though! I just wouldn't call them fries.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Carbing Up!

Tonight Joey and I participated in the Help for Hope 5K benefiting Hope House. Since we would be out of the house, we switched up the recipes and made the Italian Family Bake tonight. It was so good!! After boiling the noodles, you just stir all the ingredients together and pop it in the oven. The recipe called for a 20oz can of tomatoes and I had a 14.5oz can, so I added some Rotel tomatoes. It gave the dish a little heat. Very good. Joey and I had a good laugh thinking about Michael Scott from The Office carbing up before a race by scarfing down fettuccine Alfredo right before he ran.  Fortunately, we fared a bit better than Michael.

It was a great night for a run. The rain held off and it actually was the warmest it had been all day at the 6:30pm start time. We met up with our friends Katie Grant and See'Trail Mackey at Harbor Town. The post-race party was a lot of fun. Joey and I both resisted the food. The party was catered by Tellini's, so we know we missed out! However, the temptation was not that bad. Could it be we are becoming more disciplined??

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oops...Forgot the Broccoli Salad!

 Tonights recipe was called Chicken Nuggets made Healthy with Raw Broccoli Salad. We had to change this to Chicken Nuggets made Healthy with Salad. When I was going through this weeks recipes to make our grocery list, I overlooked the fact that the broccoli salad was a separate recipe at the bottom of the page, so we didn't have what we needed to make it. So, we improvised and just had a simple salad with some raisins and low fat dressing.

The chicken nuggets were really simple to prepare. All we had to do was toss them in cornmeal and some seasoning and cook them in skillet. They turned out really tasty! Maybe we'll prepare the broccoli salad another time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cheesy Spinach Cakes

Now that we are three weeks in, I think we've really gotten into the groove of cooking a fresh, new meal every night. Preparing the meals has gotten easier as we have gotten more organized and have found the best way to do various things in the kitchen. The cleanup afterwards isn't even so bad anymore.

Tonight's recipe was for a side dish of Cheesy Spinach Cakes. Just like the recipe says, they were delightful, sweet, and savory. Carmen made tuna salad sandwiches to go with the spinach cakes. The salad was made of tuna, red onion, Kalamata olives, and a parmesan ranch dressing. I'm usually not a big fan of salad mixtures like this, but this one was very good!

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings

Last night's recipe was for a healthy alternative version of one of my favorite foods: chicken and dumplings. This was the most involved recipe we've had to cook so far for Seasoning Lent, but it was definitely worth the effort.

I'm really seeing the results of our commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Not only have I lost some weight, but I have more energy, I'm sleeping better at night, and I've generally just been in a better mood.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pumpkin-Black Bean Soup

Today was Joey's first day back at work after Spring Break. It was nice to have dinner planned to help us get back into a routine. Tonight we cooked the Pumpkin-Black Bean Soup. As with most of the Seasoning Lent recipes, this was quick and easy to make. It definitely had a southwestern flavor. Delicious!

Joey has gotten into the habit of running in the evenings. I haven't been disciplined about exercise at all. Now that I have cooking and eating under control, I hope to make regular exercise my next goal. I am running in the Help for Hope House 5k on Friday. It should be a great way to kick start an exercise routine.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beginning Week 3

Seasoning Lent does not have recipes for Sundays since Sundays are not included in the 40 days of Lent. We missed not having something fresh to cook so we picked another recipe from the Church Health Center's website: Tilapia in a Bag. We also had some grits left from the Grit Cake recipe so Carmen made some Garlic Cheese Grits to go along with the fish and veggies.

This week's devotional is about emotional eating. Carmen and I have both been guilty of that. When we celebrate accomplishments big or small, it always includes going out to eat. Not seeking out comfort foods in times of heightened emotions will definitely be a challenge for us.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thai Coconut Soup

I love a recipe that is as simple as putting everything in a pot and simmering...especially when it turns out this good! This was definitely the easiest meal we have prepared since we started Seasoning Lent. We decided to thicken the soup up a little by serving it over brown rice. Thai food is one of our favorites and something we often crave and go out to get, so it will be helpful to add this to our cooking repertoire.

Our commitment is not just to healthy eating but to our overall health. One aspect of that is exercise. To help encourage us to get active, we signed up to run the Help for Hope House 5k. The race is Friday, but we went today to pick up our t-shirts and race packets. There were five shirts to pick from, and they are all really cool. This is one of my favorite race shirts I've ever gotten! Now I just have to get out there and keep running.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dinner with Friends

Tonight we had White Cheddar Herbed Grit Cakes over Mixed Greens with Honey-Fig Vinaigrette. This is actually Saturday's recipe, but we were having some friends over for dinner and this recipe served more than the Thai Coconut Soup.

I was never able to find any fresh figs, so I substituted the four figs with one plum and it turned out fine. The dressing was supposed to cool in the fridge for an hour and the grit cake mixture was supposed to sit in the fridge for two hours, so we prepared everything and then went to watch the Tigers basketball game. Edmund, See'Trail, and Evan Mackey came over for dinner, and everyone agreed that it was delicious! It was a great way to start the evening before taking the kids to play at the Children's Museum.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Today is St. Patrick's Day and I am NOT heading down to the pub for a pint. We gave up alcohol and unhealthy eating for Lent, so everything I look forward to about this holiday is off limits. I am glad we started Seasoning Lent and have so many good recipes to look forward to each week or this would be a day I would typically cave. To make the temptation worse, the weather is beautiful here in Memphis and our beloved Tigers are playing in the NCAA tournament tomorrow. I should have done a better job planning ahead and found some healthy Irish recipe alternatives! Alas, I did not. So there will be no drunken, Irish me clad in green and bleeding blue talking smack about how my Tigers will whip Zona over a Guiness and a plate of fish 'n' chips. *Sigh*.

For dinner we are having some left over lentil, barley, and spinach soup. To spice it up and honor the holiday, I am making my own version of "chips":
4 red potatoes, 1tbsp of olive oil, 1tbsp of herb blend, dash of garlic powder, dash of black pepper. Cube the potatoes and bake on 400 for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Day, Two Recipes

The plan for today was to prepare the Quinoa recipe for breakfast and then have leftover lentil soup for dinner. However, when it came time for dinner tonight, we really missed not preparing something fresh. We decided to go ahead and cook the portobella burgers and have the leftovers tomorrow. This commitment to Seasoning Lent has already gotten us into the habit of preparing and enjoying fresh meals every day.

The quinoa was great! It was a nice to have something a little different from the oatmeal I've been having for breakfast for the last two weeks. We've used quinoa before in some things we have cooked, but never thought about having it for breakfast. This recipe was easy enough to make, but it is not something I would normally have time to cook in the morning before going to work. Like the previous recipe, the 5 minute prep time is not really accurate. The recipe recommends using Splenda as a sweetener, but I used stevia instead. I don't like using chemical sweeteners like Splenda, so stevia is a great all natural alternative. This is definitely a recipe I will use again and tweak by mixing in some different fruits. I will just have to prepare it the night before and reheat in the morning.

Tonight was a perfect night to fire up the grill for the first time this year! Preparing this meal was just a matter of mixing up the marinade, letting the mushrooms soak for an hour, and then grilling them for about 10 minutes. Very simple, and they turned out delicious!

I got to fire up the grill for this recipe!

We chose these buns as a healthier option.
Carmen made some green beans
to go along with our burgers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm Stuffed Full of Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tonight's dinner has been my favorite so far. It smelled really good cooking and it ended up tasting as good as it smelled. The recipe said that prep time for this meal is 15 minutes, but that is not really accurate. For starters, you have to cook rice which can take up to 40 minutes depending on what kind you use. Second, preparing the meal includes several steps like boiling the bell peppers, cooking the filling, then baking everything. This meal took us close to an hour to make from start to finish. It was well worth it, though!

On a different note, a recipe later in the week calls for fresh figs. I went to several grocery stores and markets today, but have not been able to find these anywhere. Apparently, Fresh Market typically has them but they are out and don't know when they will get any more. So if anyone happens to know where I can find some fresh figs in Memphis, please let me know.

Also today, I made some healthy homemade granola bars to help Carmen out with her sweets craving. We used to make these quite often, but haven't in a while. It's a simple recipe that we tweak a little every time we make it. This time I used 3 cups of oats, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of almonds, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/4 cup of raisins & a little maple syrup. You just mix it all up and bake it at 350 for about 20 minutes. It ends up being a sweet and healthy treat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lentils, Barley, and Spinach...Oh My!

Tonight we made Lentil, Barley, and Spinach Soup. We substituted the chicken broth for vegetable broth and of course did not add any salt. It was really good and perfect to have on this cold, rainy evening. It was easy to prepare and very filling. We will have more for lunch tomorrow.

I'm glad this week's devotional discussed temptation. I have been having a crazy sweet tooth. I guess my body is realizing that I've been forgoing sugar for a week now. Not completely but drastically less than usual. For the past few days I've had serious cravings. For "dessert" I've been having a Dove dark chocolate, a spoon of peanut butter, or a few spoons of low fat ice cream. Over the next week, I would like to give all of those things up. Not because I feel that they are bad, but because I have so much trouble resisting them. After reading this week's devotional, I would like to spend some time focusing on the good things I CAN enjoy instead of obsessing over these few things I can't have. Starting tomorrow, no more sweets until Easter!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Being healthy back home is tough!

Trying to eat healthy when we go to visit our parents in Mississippi is very, very difficult. They constantly offer us cake and cookies and sweet tea and other delicious, yet fattening, things. Of course, they are just being good southern hosts, so it is in their nature to try to fatten us up.

Our commitment to Seasoning Lent really paid off. This is the first time I remember coming home from a trip to visit them and not feeling like I gained 10 pounds. We took all of our own food and resisted all the tempting things they offered us.

Saturday night, we cooked sweet potatoes with warm black bean salsa. I never would have thought that a combination like this would be as good as it was. It was super quick and easy to make and the sweetness of the sweet potato perfectly complimented the spiciness of the black bean salsa.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Seasoning Lent...on the Road

My Mom's birthday was this week, so we decided that we would go to Mississippi for a surprise visit this weekend. Of course we wanted to stick to our commitment of healthy eating, so we packed up everything we would need to prepare the meals that were planned for the weekend: Broccoli Lasagna Spirals, Brussel Sprouts, & Sweet Potato with Warm Black Bean Salsa.

The lasagna was pretty simple to make. To make transporting everything easier, we had mixed up the filling the night before. All we had to do once we got to my parent's house was boil the lasagna noodles, stuff them with the filling, cover it with sauce, and bake it. The lasagna turned out great and got good reviews from my parents!

Since we were making food for a larger audience than

normal, we also made the brussel sprouts to go as a side with the lasagna. These were similar to brussel sprouts we had cooked before, but added some onions in to be baked with them. Just like everything else we've cooked so far, they were simple to prepare and tasted great. My mom and dad had never had brussel sprouts before, and I don't think they were too crazy about them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Looking Forward to Leftovers

Tonight we are having leftovers and I am thrilled! The etouffee recipe we prepared on Tuesday made 8 servings, so we had plenty left. We are traveling this weekend and did not want it to go to waste, so tonight is shrimp etouffee and salad. This has been my fave dish so far and I am glad we get to enjoy it again!

We are heading to the Delta to see our parents and will be taking all of our recipes and ingredients with us. Let's see if we can make it through a weekend with our folks without cheating. This will be a real challenge!

Tonight we mixed up the filling for the Broccoli Lasagna Spirals we will have tomorrow night.

Saved by Seasoning Lent

So glad we started Seasoning Lent this week! I had a delicious bowl of minestrone soup before heading out to teach my night class lat night. It was our last class of the semester and they ordered Garibaldi's. I mean the works - pizza, pasta, salad, and drinks. Is it really fair to have this much temptation so soon into Lent? It was only Ash Wednesday for crying out loud! I made it though! If I hadn't had my daily recipe prepared, it could have turned out very different!

Marvelous Minestrone Soup

We had minestrone soup last night. It was delicious! I'm glad, because the recipe made a lot, so we'll be having leftovers of it for a while.

I've never had minestrone soup before so I did a little reading to find out more about it. Apparently, it is almost as common as pasta in Italian cuisine. It is also typically made using whatever vegetables are in season, so I'm looking forward to making it again with fresh vegetables from the farmer's market once they open back up!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday

Seasoning Lent really helped us out today. It was one of those days when things just didn't go as planned. Luke didn't sleep well last night and after work today, I had to spend 3 hours getting a flat tire fixed. Typically, Carmen & I would use a day like this as an excuse to go out to eat, but we were both really looking forward to preparing tonight's meal so we stuck with it.

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, tonight's recipe was shrimp etouffee. I've never made etouffee before and was surprised how easy it was. It tasted great!

We also went ahead and prepared tomorrow's minestrone soup. We are not going to have much time tomorrow night because of prior commitments so we decided to have the meal ready. So far, it was the most involved recipe, but mostly because it required a lot of vegetables to be chopped. It's on the stove simmering now, and it smells delicious.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And we're off!!

Today is the official start of Seasoning Lent. Joey and I each went for a run and then made our first dish from the series - hummus. We spread the hummus on whole wheat tortillas and added red pepper strips, cucumber, carrots, and sprouts. It was really, really good!!

We doubled the recipe so we could have more at lunch tomorrow. It was so easy to make. We put everything in the blender and that's it. We've made hummus several times before and this recipe is as good as any we've ever made.

The devotional this week remembers the people who grew our food and the places it came from. Something we typically don't consider when we are making our mad dash around the grocery store. (Also makes me long for the farmer's market to kick off this year.)

The chickpeas are soaking...

The first recipe for Seasoning Lent is hummus so we have had our chickpeas soaking overnight. It actually calls for canned chickpeas, but we already had a bag of dried beans and prefer to not use canned whenever possible. It takes a little longer, but we get to avoid some of the bad stuff that goes along with canned vegetables.

We'll update later about how the finished product turns out.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Cleanse

Even though we aren't "officially" starting with Seasoning Lent until Monday, I decided I would begin preparing early. Since, Friday I have eliminated all forms of processed foods from my diet. This weekend, I've only had vegetables, fruit, and water...LOTS of water. After feeling pretty rough Friday night, I have already seen an improvement in my mood and energy level. I'm looking forward to introducing more healthy items back into my diet, but I felt like I needed to use this weekend as a sort of drastic cleanse to kick off our new healthy lifestyle.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Seasoning Lent

Joey and I are starting the Seasoning Lent series this Sunday. Seasoning Lent was written by The Church Health Center's Rev. Stacy Smith. It is an eight week program of devotionals and recipes.
You can find the entire program here in the Church Health Reader.
Here's an excerpt from Seasoning Lent that sums up what we will be doing:

"So for this season of Lent, we invite you on a journey of discipline that asks you to both “take up” and “give up.” We will take up the practice of cooking and teach you new ways to create healthy, filling and tasty foods that feed both our bodies and our spirits. But we will also ask you to give up some of the more common ingredients and cooking practices that make our foods less healthy than they should be. We will enjoy the abundance of God’s creation while taking seriously our responsibility to care for it. And we will practice new spiritual disciplines, just as generations of Christians have done during the season of Lent."

I can't think of a better time or way to begin sharpening us!

Motivating Me

I'm not big on new year's resolutions. January is always cold and dreary - not really enticing me outdoors for exercise. Plus we usually have tons of holiday food and my nephew's birthday cake to keep us from diving into a "diet". Lent, by contrast, is a great time for new beginnings. Temperatures are warmer, spring is right around the corner, and (with the exception of spring break) there are no big festivities to derail us. Plus new year's resolutions have to last a whole year. Makes the 40 days of Lent seem a lot more doable!

I have finally lost all of the weight I put on during my pregnancy. Nursing our little one has kept me from restricting calories; so, I have had to rely on exercise and good choices in the things I eat. Not areas of strength for me. Being back to my pre-baby weight has inspired me to keep the weight off. That and the fact that Luke is mobile now. I'm going to need all the energy I can muster.

I have found motivation for a permanent lifestyle change in meeting a short term goal of my own and the need to have more energy. I'm glad these two things are coinciding with the start of Lent. I'll be spending time during Lent focusing on how to be the best me. I'm giving up unhealthy eating habits and carving out time for regular exercise.

Time to Get Healthy

Carmen and I have decided that we need to get healthy! For the past several years we've gone on kicks from time to time of exercising and eating right, but it seems like we always end up falling back on old habits. Since the birth of our first child in June, we've relied more on convenience food than healthy and fresh alternatives. We've also gotten out of the habit of regular exercise.

The desire to be fit and have more energy is not new, but now we have new motivation. We've always had short term goals such as losing weight for the summer, but now that we have a child, we are thinking more about our long term health. We also want to model healthy habits for Luke.

We will use this blog to document our journey on the path to holistic health. This is the beginning of our dedication to sharpening us.